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Title: DHS Boss Calls For More Fear, Less Encryption
Source: TechDirt
URL Source: https://www.techdirt.com/articles/2 ... ore-fear-less-encryption.shtml
Published: Apr 20, 2017
Author: Tim Cushing
Post Date: 2017-04-21 08:44:33 by Deckard
Keywords: FEAR MONGERING, 1984, Tyranny
Views: 26

from the Frightened-States-of-America dept

The Trump administration is rebranding the country: Make America Fear Again. In response to a national crime wave that doesn't exist, the head of the DOJ is rolling back police reform and replacing it with extra "toughness." Under the new regime, law enforcement officers will have the full (and, apparently, unconditional) backing of the White House.

The DHS is joining the DOJ in flexing its new muscle. DHS Secretary John Kelly has already stated he's looking to turn requests for visitors' social media/email account information into demands, which would include the mandatory relinquishment of account passwords.

Both agency heads have expressed a desire to do battle with US citizens by revitalizing the fed's war on marijuana, despite legalization referendums being passed by popular vote in several states.

Kelly... course-corrected on a previous statement he made regarding the dangers of marijuana.

Calling it “a potentially dangerous gateway drug that frequently leads to the use of harder drugs,” Kelly vowed that DHS personnel would continue to investigate and arrest those involved in illegal trade of the drug.

That comes after Kelly on Sunday told “Meet The Press” host Chuck Todd that marijuana was “not a factor” in the war on drugs, arguing that solving the nation’s drug problem does not involve “arresting a lot of users.”

These comments came during Kelly's first major public speech since taking office. His "course-corrected" statement echoes DOJ head Jeff Sessions' take on marijuana, a drug only found dangerous by agencies whose budgets rely on marijuana being viewed as a threatening "gateway drug."

Both are also looking to toss more immigrants out of the country, theorizing that stricter immigration control will somehow curb drug cartel violence -- almost all of which is contained completely in other countries. Kelly mentioned Salvadoran drug cartel MS13 in passing, claiming it was responsible for acts of violence and stateside human trafficking.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions was even less kind in his appraisal, delivering comments that made it sound as though the only thing standing between the US and societal collapse was American law enforcement:

When we talk about MS-13 and the cartels, what do we mean? We mean criminal organizations that turn cities and suburbs into warzones, that rape and kill innocent citizens and who profit by smuggling poison and other human beings across our borders. Depravity and violence are their calling cards, including brutal machete attacks and beheadings.

It is here, on this sliver of land, where we first take our stand against this filth.

The DHS head is also capitalizing on Trump's dark -- and deeply-inaccurate -- view of national security. His speech portrayed the country as being under ceaseless attack from innumerable evil forces.

“We are under attack from people who hate us, hate our freedoms, hate our laws, hate our values, hate the way we simply live our lives. And we are under attack every single day,” he warned. “The threats are relentless.”

Kelly covered a wide swath of issues — from transnational criminal organizations to cyberattacks to homegrown violent extremism, often using graphic descriptions of human suffering to illustrate the dangers.

The speech harkened back to President Trump’s inaugural address to Congress, in which he described “American carnage” outside of the Beltway.

No agency benefits more from the perception of an insecure homeland than the Department of Homeland Security. But the trickle-down effect of fear-based policy-making helps other agencies as well.

In his speech, Kelly tacitly aligned himself with the only Obama holdover Trump seems to like: FBI director James Comey.

He warned that proliferating encrypted communications technology would soon make it “impossible” to track terrorist threats.

Kelly had more to say on that subject in relation to Trump's still-unseen cybersecurity executive order. Supposedly, an updated version of the draft released in February is due any day now, and no matter what's in it, Kelly fully supports it.

“I’m standing by with bated breath,” Kelly said when Frank Cilluffo, director of the university’s Center for Cyber and Homeland Security, asked if there was any news on the order. “I can’t wait.”

Presumably not referencing the FBI's counterterrorism sting operations with the phrase "homegrown terrorism," Kelly again pointed to encryption as being part of the problem.

“What’s feeding homegrown terrorism is the Internet. They publish revolting how-to manuals,” Kelly said. “Thanks to proliferating encryption devices, these individuals are becoming harder and harder to detect. Our nation’s youth are prey to these predators.”

Between John Kelly, AG Jeff Sessions, and CIA head Mike Pompeo, the administration seems interested in sacrificing citizens' freedoms and protections on the altar of national security. All three are hoping loaded, hyperbolic language will convince more Americans to give up these protections willingly. Those who don't will probably be viewed as enemies of the nation -- and that includes any legislators who appear reluctant to give these agencies everything they want. Kelly again:

“If lawmakers do not like the laws they’ve passed and we are charged to enforce — then they should have the courage and skill to change the laws. Otherwise they should shut up and support the men and women on the front lines,” Kelly said, to a burst of applause in the auditorium.

This is wonderful stuff if you're a fan of authoritarianism. Shut up and show your support. It's a message that's been sent several times by the new president. Now, it's being echoed by his top officials.

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