Monday, January 2, 2017

Donald Trump is manifestly unfit for office?

So, are we at some point going to talk seriously as a nation about the not-so-minor problem we are about to be confronted with? That Donald Trump is manifestly unfit for office?

President-elect Donald J. Trump, expressing lingering skepticism about intelligence assessments of Russian interference in the election, said on Saturday evening that he knew “things that other people don’t know” about the hacking, and that the information would be revealed “on Tuesday or Wednesday.”

This would be the president elect declaring, outside his Gatsbyesque New Year’s party last evening, that he knows "things that other people don't know" about the hacking that leads he himself, as opposed to every single one of America's vast intelligence agencies, a collection of analysts and tech experts who for all their faults know hackingvery very damn well, as they have for many years recruited from the top ranks of hackers themselves, to believe that each and every one of those agencies is wrong and Donald Freaking Trump, who does not himself know how to work a computer or even use email, has a clearer handle on the situation than any of them.

Oh—but while I go off to take a sip of rhetorical water after that last run-on sentence, let's also contemplate that Donald Trump either (1) has information the intelligence services do not themselves have, and knows that that information will be released to them "Tuesday or Wednesday", or (2) has listened to his security briefers at least enough to know that the intelligence services themselves will be releasing specific information that nobody but Donald Trump knows on Tuesday or Wednesday.

All right. Fine. So the new president has opinions that he believes override an entire nation's worth of collected technical expertise; this will of itself not be new, or a deal-breaker. But let's examine just why Donald Freaking Trump believes he has a far more accurate read of the technological situation than all of those other experts combined. Because he was more than happy to tell us:

He added: “And I know a lot about hacking. And hacking is a very hard thing to prove. So it could be somebody else. And I also know things that other people don’t know, and so they cannot be sure of the situation.”

This is categorically false, and extremely super-duper stupid. Donald Trump does not, in any universe currently accessible to the rest of humanity, know "a lot" about hacking. Donald Trump knows zero about hacking. Donald Trump famously does not use a computer. Donald Trump knows that hacking is a very hard thing to prove—sometimes true—but would be completely unable to name any one of the top dozen ways experts can indeed identify the originators of individual hacking attempts. You may have also noticed over the years that the NSA appears to have their thumb on major elements of both individual networks and the internet backbone itself—the legality of those programs being a hotly debated topic—and, if you keep up on these things, probably are aware of the resources the various agencies can bring to bear to crack even many types of so-called "secure" communications, if the need arises. Continue reading the full story

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