In Defense of Phone Hacking

Although not a defense of NOTW.

I can imagine a situation where some Democratic operative came up to me and said, “we hacked into Rob McKenna’s phone and found something important.” Sure, almost certainly not me; a more reputable journalist, columnist, or blogger. But hear me out.

So let’s say this party hack came to me with definitive proof that some Republican of import had broken the law in some way that was worse than phone hacking itself. I’d imagine that I’d post something about it, or at least dig further based on their hacking. I’d presumably mention the hacking in the post if if was worthy of a post. Basically if it’s important enough a story, I can imagine being honest and letting the chips fall where they may.

That’s a very different thing from finding out whatever Jude Law and Hugh Grant are doing. And of course corrupting the police and deleting messages is so beyond the pale, I can’t imagine there ever being a circumstance I’d find it OK.

The point isn’t of course to exonerate News of the World or News Corp, only that calling it a phone hacking story kind of makes it sound not as terrible as it is.

Comments

  1. 1

    Deathfrogg spews:

    Fruit of the poisoned tree. Inadmissible in court, and likely still a felony even if the Tap documented other felonious behavior.

    The old analog system was reletivley easy to hack into, even to listen to live conversations, which is what got McDermott in trouble. But the digital systems are almost impossible to do so without NSA equipment. And they already have all the hacks in place even before the phone is activated. They Can remotely turn a phone on, and activate the microphone to listen to the room that the phone is in. They’ve busted several mafiosi this way and its a major tool against the drug cartels.

    I’m willing to bet that our pal Rupert has hacked every voicemail account of every Congressman and Senator and Judge and their campaign workers over the years. The man is utterly ruthless and totally without conscience.

    Theres always more dirt to be dug.

  2. 2

    masaba spews:

    Carl,

    Just out of curiosity, would you ever condone hacking into the voicemail accounts of murdered 13 year old girls? How about hacking into the voicemail accounts of the families of KIA and injured military vets just home from Iraq?

    Funny, when this story first came out, I read a quote that is in the bathroom of a restaurant I sometimes go to:

    “When money is lost, nothing is lost. When health is lost, something is lost. When character is lost, all is lost.”

    The only thing I could think when reading this quote is that I never thought I would be able to say that Rupert Murdoch is absolutely bankrupt.

  3. 3

    spews:

    @1,

    Court and the press are two different things.

    @2,

    I’m not defending what NOTW did. I can’t imagine a case where the news value of spying on a 13 year old murdered girl’s phone or KIA vets outweighs the awfulness of doing it.

  4. 4

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Not sure jhow they handle this in U.K., but here in Washington it’s called “wiretapping” and it’s a felony and you go to prison.

  5. 5

    Michael spews:

    @2

    Just out of curiosity, would you ever condone hacking into the voicemail accounts of murdered 13 year old girls? How about hacking into the voicemail accounts of the families of KIA and injured military vets just home from Iraq

    Next time try reading the post, he covered that. Jude Law and whatnot.

    I can’t see someone having very solid evidence of anything based on a hacked phone. And I could see someone planting something in order to catch someone hacking into their phone or email. Careful what you wish for.

  6. 6

    rhp6033 spews:

    Remember that Seattle’s congressman did little more than receive an intercepted phone call from a member of the public between Newt Gingrich and the Republican leadership, and make public the contents of that call. The substance was that Newt was conspiring with the Republican leadership to ignore the sanctions which had been imposed on him for ethics violations. Newt and the Republican leadership escaped any lasting consequences from the call, but McDermott was found liable in a civil case for receiving and publicizing the contents of the call, and ended up paying a rather large judgement and legal fees.

    In that case, McDermot’s defense was that he knew it would be fruitless to refer it to the ethics committee which was controlled by the same Republicans who were party to the phone call. But the courts handling the case, which were packed by judges all appointed by Republican presidents, said that was his only legal option.

    I disagreed with that decision at the time.

    But I also agree that tne NOTW hacking is completely different, for reasons I will discuss in my next post.

  7. 7

    spews:

    Deathfrogg @ 1

    But the digital systems are almost impossible to do so without NSA equipment.

    Nitpit: Backdoors (aka digital taps) installed for use by the NSA.

    The haha hilarious part is these backdoors are being exploited by others as well. There’s strong evidence that govt sponsored Chinese hackers have been using NSA’s keys to hack our systems.

    It’s hard to summarize, but the cryptography world right now is a huge mess, with quite a few spectacular failures. And it’s not possible to assess the extent of damage.

    For instance, RSA’s got these security keychain thingies. When you login, you look at the device to get your one time passcode and enter that. All the large IT shops now use RSA after it was discovered the Chinese hacked pretty much everybody. A pretty reasonable strategy.

    Except. RSA the company itself got hacked and all those 100,000s of devices were compromised. Meaning the hackers got everyone’s passcodes. (Oversimplifying, sorry.)

    All this stuff cracks me up. Computer security, personal privacy, cryptography.

    You may recall that I advocate election integrity, which basically means casting paper ballots counted at poll sites using the minimum of electronics. Because we geeks know that society can’t trust crypto systems to protect our secrets.

    Unfortunately, stating the plain truth gets one marked as a sweaty paranoid kook.

    The upside is that I (we) are correct. That and $2 will buy me a cup of coffee.

  8. 8

    rhp6033 spews:

    (Part 2)

    Why the NOTW case is not just about “phone hacking”.

    Those of us who are old enough will remember the first news reports of the burglars breaking into the Democratic offices at the Watergate hotel. The first reports called it a simple burglary. Then when it was reported that they were caught with wiretap equipment, they tried to pass it off as an independent act by some anti-communist cubans. But the Washington Post noticed that these cubans were being represented by some very expensive lawyers, and bail was posted for them, and the hunt for the source of the money was on.

    In the meantime, the Republicans launched their first cover-up campaign, floating allegations and rumors that the Democrats were conspiring with communist agents, and the wiretaps were justified by “national security”. Then their fall-back position was that it’s “just politics”, and “everybody does it”.

    But what really sunk Nixon was his implementation of the cover-up which was motivated by a desire to keep secret the many facets of the “plumbers” operations. This included the maintenance of an “enemy’s list”, widespread wiretapping using government resources of those on the list, using FBI investigations and IRS audits to “punish” those on the list, hiring prostitutes to trap such “enemies” in the old “honey trap” game, etc. You could make your way onto the “enemy’s list” simply by writing a critical article about the Nixon administration’s policies.

    In short, the Nixon White House was trying to manipulate the media and it’s political opponants through fear, blackmail, and intimidation. It was trying to control the electorate process by determining who, and what, would get revealed to them through the media. And that was their ultimate undoing.

  9. 9

    rhp6033 spews:

    (Part 3)

    (for some reason this portion couldn’t be posted after multiple attempts. Perhaps Murdoch’s got this site bugged????)

    And so it iis with the NOTW scandal. Murdoch’s organization had proven they could control not only ministers of parliment and prime ministers, they could even squash inquiries into their conduct. But when they tapped the Royal Family, they met their match. They were forced to sacrifice some underlings in an attempt to control the situation, for which the underlings received compensation for their cooperation.

    But thinking they had controlled the situation, they again went to far – they hacked into the phone of a kidnapped girls, and the families of terrorist victims. When this came out, other former NOTW staffers felt safe enough to tell THEIR stories.

    So it’s not just about hacking. It’s about the attempt of a very rich man to control the government and the electoral process.

    And yes, it is ironic that Richard Nixon was ultimately brought down by the fact that he decided to “wiretap” himself.

  10. 10

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @9 et al. – Republican values and attitudes haven’t changed since Nixon resigned in disgrace in 1974. What has changed is the sophistication of their “dirty tricks” operations and their determination to never get caught again.

  11. 11

    rhp6033 spews:

    RR @ 10: A lot of what’s bad that has happened since Nixon’s election in 1968 can be traced to the Nixon White House.

    * Karl Rove was a protoge of the plumber’s organization, learning dirty campaign tactics from them while he was leading the College Republicans (although he was never more than a part-time sometime student).

    * Rumsfield and Cheney became distraught at the loss of “presidential authority” due to Watergate, and over the next three and a half decades in government, sought to increase that authority – as long as a Republican was in office. Nixon had said that “If the President does it, it is not a crime”. In the George W. Bush White House, this was translated into unparrelled authority under the Patriot Act to conduct warrentless wiretaps, renditions, suspension of Habeous Corpus, etc.

    * Roger Ailes, Nixon’s “media consultant” since 1960, developed a plan to take his attack on the media. His idea was to have an alternative network, partially funded by Republican resources, which would skip the traditional media and present it’s propoganda directly to the American People. After a couple of false starts, Fox News was born.

    The only bad thing in current U.S. politics which can’t be traced back to Nixon is the Republican philosophy of cutting taxes for the wealthy, running up huge deficits in the process, and then blaming it all on the Democrats. That’s something they came up with for the Reagan presidency, and they’ve been riding that horse ever since.

  12. 12

    Politically Incorrect spews:

    “…here in Washington it’s called “wiretapping” and it’s a felony and you go to prison.”

    Unless you’re the government, of course, Then it’s OK to do whatever you want, regardless of the laws.

  13. 13

    Puddybud, identifying northwest liberals who elected an underexperienced man to the presidency weighed down by an oversized ego spews:

    Not sure jhow they handle this in U.K., but here in Washington it’s called “wiretapping” and it’s a felony and you go to prison.

    So Roger Dumb Rabbit, how come Jim McDimWitt is NOT IN PRISON?

  14. 15

    Puddybud, identifying northwest liberals who elected an underexperienced man to the presidency weighed down by an oversized ego spews:

    Remember that Seattle’s congressman did little more than receive an intercepted phone call from a member of the public between Newt Gingrich and the Republican leadership, and make public the contents of that call.

    Yes he gladly accepted it, broadly bragged about it and gave it to the The New York Times and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution who ran with it.

    Then McDimWitt insisted that he was not aware that the conversation recorded by John and Alice Martin was illegally obtained. Why are DUMMOCRAPTS such bold face liars in US Courts of law? Then his next line of putrid defense was the First Amendment protected his law breaking actions. See the big difference between the horseshit from rhp6033 and the real events? My TRUTH and FACTS vs. Cass Sunstein’s favrit idiot’s conjecture and deflection!

    I loved Appeals Court Judge Raymond Randolph’s comments: “It is the difference between someone who discovers a bag containing a diamond ring on the sidewalk and someone who accepts the same bag from a thief, knowing the ring inside to have been stolen. The former has committed no offense; the latter is guilty of receiving stolen property, even if the ring was intended only as a gift.”

    The other thing you’ll notice from Cass Sunstein’s favrit idiot’s commentary was Boehner tried hard and on more than one occasion aggressively sought McDimWitt to settle the case in 2003. Boehner asked McDermott to pay $10,000 to charity and apologize for his actions. Being the seasoned Seattle DUMMOCRAPT he is, McDimWitt refused.

    He knew what he was doing! He ran to liberal newspapers! He lost in court! The TRUTH and FACTS are known again instead of the horseshit proffered above from Cass Sunstein’s favrit Homer Simpson malleable idiot!

    LMBBAO!

  15. 16

    That there is Cundalini....and Cundalini wants his hand back spews:

    Shorter Carly: Its ok if Democrats break the law.