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No Thank You, Mr. Pecker (medium.com)
2444 points by coloneltcb 8 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 730 comments





It seems like a lot of people are not reading between the lines of this post. Bezos apparently believes that he was hacked by either the US or Saudi government and that now one or both of those governments are using the National Enquirer as an attack dog against him. That accusation is much bigger than any other piece of this story.

EDIT: Here [1] is a reporter from the Washington Post backing that up. The Bezos' camp believes this is a politically motivated attack and the data was acquired by a "government entity" (logically the US or Saudis).

[1] - https://twitter.com/ndrew_lawrence/status/109371533307931853...


It really puts this tweet from POTUS last month in a crazy new context:

"So sorry to hear the news about Jeff Bozo being taken down by a competitor whose reporting, I understand, is far more accurate than the reporting in his lobbyist newspaper, the Amazon Washington Post. Hopefully the paper will soon be placed in better & more responsible hands!"

https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/10846274519830732...

Strange times we're living in.


The only thing strange about it is how much easier it is to learn about these conspiracies now that we have the Internet.

People are acting all shocked like this is a new state of affairs. It's not. We are just far more empowered now to actually learn about these things.


Not all Presidents or foreign powers are obsessed with finding and collecting dirt on their enemies with the intent to harm or influence them.

Wether you call it gaining influence or blackmail, it's usually the technique of authoritarians or the corrupt and not a path we want to advocate or even tolerate.



Head of the FBI and its predecessor from 1924 till 1972. So, for the US, we had a department "obsessed with finding and collecting dirt on their enemies with the intent to harm or influence them" for at least that time period.

Right, and Hoover's techniques were those of an authoritarian which few in Washington wished to support or tolerate. The problem was that Hoover's enemies included those very same Washington leaders, whom he'd quietly threaten.

By contrast, we've arrived at a point where those very same techniques, practiced openly and brazenly, are considered legitimate in the eyes of a significant plurality of both Washington leaders and the national electorate.

Corruption has always existed, but unless it's normalized you at least have a fighting change of containing it. When its normalized it will consume the whole system. Pervasive cynicism is sufficient to normalize it, and that's often how it metastasizes.


> Not all Presidents or foreign powers are obsessed with finding and collecting dirt on their enemies with the intent to harm or influence them.

Yes, all presidents and foreign powers do this. Although Bezos doesn't present any proof that it's actually happening here, just speculation.


Let's be clear here: I'm the last person to defend the NSA, but there are huge differences in the restrictions placed on official US spying agencies and foreign ones. If a sitting President used his office to demand that the NSA spy on a US citizen for political reasons, it would be a huge scandal. When foreign governments like the Russians or Saudis do it, it's unprosecutable and "deniable", even if the President hints that he wants it to happen and expresses happiness that it has. That's the era we're living in, and it's dangerous as hell.

Sadly the era we're living in is that which blames Trump for every thing that goes wrong with no evidence whatsoever and many, many people cheer. That is dangerous as hell.

I'm happy to be proven wrong but to also be clear: there is zero evidence that Trump had anything to do with this.


> Sadly the era we're living in is that which blames Trump for every thing that goes wrong with no evidence whatsoever

Before a crime is proven, there's usually speculation. Just like people suspected Nixon of being involved in Watergate before there was actual proof. The truth can come slowly.

I agree that we need to follow due process, but it's just as dangerous to categorize any suspicion of criminal activity as "blaming Trump for everything". You're just on the opposite end of the spectrum as people who thinks he's guilty before we have proof.

Evidence takes time, especially with plea bargains where there's incentive to hold out until the evidence against you is overwhelming.

It's best to be somewhere in the middle where you're equally skeptical and open to whatever news and evidence comes out.


Yup, just like people suspected Hillary to be involved in Seth Rich's murder?

You're right, there's obviously a spectrum. I feel it's gone too far in one direction. There's literally no proof on this particular issue that Trump had anything to do with the NE story on Bezos so it seems like quite a leap to start creating conspiracy theories that he used national intelligence agencies to dig up the dirt.

I would have written it off as conspiracy theory nonsense myself, were it not for Trumps attack tweets a few weeks ago. While I don't think any US intelligence agencies are involved, it's absolutely possible that some foreign partners are providing "voluntary assistance" in the matter.

Zero evidence, sure. But a pattern of behavior that is deeply, deeply troubling and suspicious.

As others have pointed out, he tweet-taunted Bezos a few weeks ago in a way that seems rather connected to this recent revelation.

Joe Scarborough and Mike Brzezinski wrote an op-ed (in the Post!!) about having been threatened with blackmail by AMI, seemingly in direct connection to the White House's desires. Ronan Farrow came forward yesterday to say that AMI tried something similar with him.

Sure, Trump may have nothing to do with it. But you and I aren't courts of law; we're people, and we're allowed to look at the evidence and come to our own conclusions.

If your conclusion is that this is an "era ... which blames Trump for every thing that goes wrong with no evidence whatsoever" then you're just doing a bad job of evaluating evidence.


A pattern of behavior is evidence. All evidence is circumstantial.

That realization is actually foundational to our system of criminal Due Process. It's why nearly every piece of evidence entered into trial, even simple documents and scientific analyses, requires a witness to vouchsafe. Facts cannot be divorced from their human origin, and any fact can be challenged by challenging the credibility of its origin.

All facts are messy things, and while some are messier than others there's no avoiding careful consideration in light of the available context. It follows that the distinction between fact and conjecture is one of opinion.


Espionage is nothing new. Trump or US govt. ordering this is an attractive idea to Trump haters. Self serving for Bezos btw. But I think unlikely. No need.

Like other smear attempts for instance Wikileaks on the Clinton campaign and also why its unlikely Mueller will EVER get the smoking gun on Trump. You don’t need to order these things, your allies will do it without your knowledge. Deniability.


Very optismistic POV considering the indictments in the works.

Please, tell us about the indictment in the works.

The Fusion GPS/FBI collusion comes very close to what you describe.

Collusion? What do you mean by that term?

You mean the FBI hired Fusion GPS for official business? I believe the term you are looking for is "contracting".


I think the reference is to the DNC funding Fusion GPS through a cutout (to evade campaign finance laws) and then providing the Steele dossier to the FBI. Which proceeded to lie about it to the FISA court in order to spy on Americans. That sort of thing.

No, that's not "the only thing strange" about this. Perhaps you're unfamiliar with American history, but this is wildly without any remote precedent.

Not to say that previous Presidents haven't done bad things, abused laws, etc, (shit, even launched disinfo campaigns, used the press to attack enemies, etc) but this is just gobsmackingly different from what has come before.

Obviously caveat "if this is true" blah blah blah because my Lord who knows what's true anymore. But knock off the jaded pseudo-educated bs; this is radically fucking strange and a departure from history up until this point.


You need to read about the measures great past Presidents like Abraham Lincoln, amongst others, took. It's gonna be an eye-opening experience for you if your comment is in good faith.

But did Abraham Lincoln ever outright lie about it? Did he ever make a political speech where he categorically denied ordering the house arrest of a D.C. Circuit judge, or categorically deny that such a house arrest even occurred?

That's what's unprecedented. It's not abuse of power or corruption that's unprecedented. It's serial, bald faced lies to a willfully, spitefully credulous audience. Not even Nixon or his defenders were so unscrupulous, although it's fair to say that in Nixon lies some precedence.

I used to think it quaint that the dominant principle behind the 6th Amendment prohibition against compelling testimony against oneself remains the so-called cruel trilemma-- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ex_officio_oat). But I realize now that, even without the metaphysical threat of damnation, a society must leave space for even the most corrupt and malicious individuals to avoid outright lying. Lies are the greatest poison to civil society by threatening the very notion of accountability and therefore of fairness or justice. Even when we know somebody is lying it's crucial that we grant them the fiction of plausible deniability, a quid pro quo for not violating the cardinal rule. In so far as the body politic permits and tolerates open lying, it destroys the last and perhaps only common bond between citizens--commitment to a shared truth, even if only nominally.

When a politician says that they can't remember, or even qualifies what would otherwise be a lie with "not to my recollection", that's actually a powerful gesture--submission to a critical civic virtue. When we get to a point when politicians, especially national leaders, don't bother with such gestures, and supporters don't even nominally demand them let alone exact some price, we're in a very bad place.

EDIT: Now that I think about it, there's solid evidence that Reagan openly lied when he denied any knowledge about Iran-Contra. But I think it's telling that we've convinced ourselves he was suffering from Alzheimers, forcing plausible deniability upon him. Even most Reagan detractors have reflexively internalized that narrative. (Obviously he was suffering from Alzheimers, but it's not very reasonable to believe that he was suffering to such an extent that he lacked the capacity for even complicity.)


I agree that Abraham Lincoln took some questionable measures but that smacks of "whataboutism" and has no bearing whatsoever on this situation. I have difficulty taking your comment in good faith because if there is truth to this (i.e. one of our spy agencies or a foreign gov't was spying on and leaking information about a U.S. citizen with the sitting president's knowledge and/or tacit endorsement) it is unprecedented.

It's as if our country being in a literal civil war was a bigger crisis than just trying to cover up the current president's crimes and attempts to hide his crimes!

[flagged]


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J._Edgar_Hoover

http://ocean.otr.usm.edu/~w304644/ajha/americanjournalism/fa...

"During the Civil War the federal government was responsible for the greatest amount of newspaper suppression in the nation’s history. More than 300 newspapers were shut down, most of them Democratic papers that were sympathetic to the Confederacy. Some historians have criticized President Abraham Lincoln for allowing such widespread constraints on the press. This article reconsiders the nature of Lincoln’s view of press freedom. Based on a letter the president sent to a Union general, it concludes that Lincoln changed his thinking about midway through the war and began to believe that suppression of the press was not the appropriate policy."


You should probably read about J. Edgar Hoover...

He was arguably more powerful than the Presidents he supposedly served.


See my reply to a sibling comment; I'm not unaware of history, though there's an incredible amount I am ignorant of, certainly.

But I'm familiar with Hoover; this is wildly different. For one thing, unless I'm mistaken, he was never actually President. "Arguably more powerful than the Presidents he supposedly served" is a neat line and not unreasonable, but doesn't really approach what I'm arguing: that this moment is without precedent in American (world?) history.

That's because the story here likely goes beyond simply AMI going after Bezos at the White House's direction - that would be a hell of a story but also hardly original.

A President conspiring with two separate foreign powers to undermine our elections in order to enrich himself is just one part of the overall story that I contend is novel here. It may not even be the seediest part, depending on what comes of, say, the Seychelles meeting.



Well, none of that has been proven yet, it's not even charged, perhaps (we don't even know for sure) it may be under investigation by the special counsel. I suspect we'll find out in some measure in the future.

If it happened, even then I think it would not be unprecedented -- I'd have to think for a bit about specific examples but I suspect we've even done it to other countries ourselves.


> People are acting all shocked like this is a new state of affairs.

Wait, they are? Who?


Me. I would say that this is an entirely novel state of affairs, without precedent in American history. As others have pointed out to me in this thread, "American history" contains lots of pretty salacious and wild stories of governmental abuse of authority.

Yet all the jaded Hacker News historians around here haven't really pointed out any actual incidents in history that approach this story. "You should read about Hoover" or "Abraham Lincoln did some bad shit during the Civil War" doesn't really approach the level of "President conspiring with two separate foreign adversaries/frenemies to undermine American elections, enrich himself and blackmail his enemies" to say nothing of all the juicy details we don't yet know.


Empowered to learn maybe, but no change in power to act it feels like.

Strange and terrifying.

Can we all just agree Trump is corrupt already and get him out of office?

Lots of smoke for sure, but I'd much rather follow due process and wait for a crime to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt in a legal setting. Otherwise you're setting a dangerous precedent.

“Beyond a reasonable doubt” does not apply to removing the President from office. The applicable standard is “whatever will convince half of the House and two thirds of the Senate.”

The Constitutional criteria for removal of the President from office are "treason, bribery, and other high crimes and misdemeanors." Here's a good short description:

http://www.crf-usa.org/impeachment/high-crimes-and-misdemean...


Yeah, which feels like a slippery slope into political takeovers, especially since the speaker of the house is 3rd in line.

If Republicans were guaranteed to keep the President and VP slot, you'd see an impeachment much more easily. I don't think any Republican will want Pelosi a heartbeat away from the Presidency unless Trump's crime was so clear and egregious that 2/3 of the country wanted him gone.


That’s been the standard since the adoption of the Constitution. If it was a slippery slope, you’d think we would have slipped down it at some point in the past 230 years.

Seems like we're always finding new precedents to set like the "nuclear option" in the Senate.

And 230yrs is pretty young for a country.


Young for a country, pretty old for the same base set of rules within that country.

The "nuclear option" is just a senate rule. It's not a law, it's not in the Constitution.

It's pretty damn hard to slip down a slope that requires 2/3 of the senate to agree with each other.

...by design.

Removal requires 2/3 votes of the Senate, so that seems pretty much like what you are asking for here.

Impeachment is a political process. The dangerous precedents have already been set, for Andrew Johnson and William Clinton.

The former was impeached for firing the Secretary of War without consent of the Senate, and refusing to reinstate Stanton in that position when it did not ratify the dismissal. Acquitted by one vote.

The latter was impeached for lying about inappropriate personal behavior, and obstruction of justice for witness tampering and impeding investigations. Acquitted.

Trump could be impeached by the House for a misdemeanor as inconsequential as littering in a national park. And the standard of proof for conviction in the Senate is not specified. It could be as low as "a police dog alerted on his hamburger wrapper" if his loyal contingent has 33 senators or as high as "we need to analyze, line by line, the source code for the video encoder of the camera that recorded the president dropping the wrapper on the ground, to ensure it has not been tampered with by terrorist immigrant caravans" if his contingent has 34 senators. It is not specified by the Constitution, so it is de facto determined ad hoc by the Senate and chief justice at the time of the trial.

It should be obvious that suspected crimes that are more severe than firing cabinet officials without permission, or covering up a political scandal--such as those imputed to Nixon during the Watergate burglary investigation, or suspected acceptance of foreign emoluments--should be impeached more readily. But as long as the Senate is needed to convict, and the burden of proof is not specified, then the House cannot realistically impeach, and expect a conviction with a president-supporting Senate in place, until the case against can meet the standard of "beyond even petty, unreasonable, and dubiously-contrived doubts". And that is solely so that when the Senate refuses to convict anyway, the evidence and the vote against conviction can be used against the party in subsequent election campaigns.

I have little doubt that the current president will be confronted by a stack of previously sealed criminal indictments on the afternoon of the next president's inauguration day. Those cases will be tried in courts with a fixed standard of proof--beyond reasonable doubt for criminal cases, and preponderance of evidence for civil cases.


--"I have little doubt that the current president will be confronted by a stack of previously sealed criminal indictments on the afternoon of the next president's inauguration day. Those cases will be tried in courts with a fixed standard of proof--beyond reasonable doubt for criminal cases, and preponderance of evidence for civil cases."

The precedent has already been set there also -- both Bill and Hillary Clinton have remained free of prosecution in spite of all the many criminal conspiracies they engaged in.

There's no debate there was just as much, if not more, dirt and conspiracy around them when they were in office as there is around the current occupant of the White House.


Actually, there's an awful lot of debate about that.

There are almost certainly more claims made about/against the Clintons than there are about/against the Trumps. But many of the claims against the Clintons haven't had enough "there" there for anyone but, well, conspiracy theorists to run with them. There have been, as far as I know, considerably fewer actual legal investigations against the Clintons, their associates, and their businesses than against the Trumps, their associates, and their businesses, and certainly far fewer actual charges and indictments.

There's a lot of political history behind the campaign against the Clintons, and a lot of it's fascinating -- but it's not actually a history of a corrupt criminal enterprise, at least on the part of the Clintons. It's the history of personal vendettas and rich conservative ideologues, and the history of the birth of the modern right-wing media movement, starting with the Arkansas Project.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arkansas_Project

The Trump Organization also has a lot of fascinating history, but you know what? From all appearances, it may well be a history of a corrupt criminal enterprise.


Hillary Clinton has never been president, therefore cannot set a precedent in this matter.

Bill Clinton's supposed "conspiracies" are mainly sexual assaults and their ensuing covers-up. Some of his accusers received cash settlements, and presumably would not testify against in any criminal trials. The remainder apparently did not leave enough evidence by the time Clinton left office to pursue criminal charges, or did not come forward until #MeToo emboldened them to do so, long after he left office, and possibly after any relevant statutes of limitations had elapsed.

If Bill Clinton was indeed as dirty as Donald Trump appears to be, he was certainly better at cleaning up the evidence of it. He may have also pursued a policy of being more honest in less critical situations, such that he could attempt a lie--and still be believed based on reputation--when a deception would benefit him most. Furthermore, fewer of Clinton's former aides, employees, and associates were indicted and convicted during his term in office.

It is possible that Clinton was not charged because he was a more cautious criminal. It is also possible the reports of his crimes were invented or exaggerated to weaken him or his wife politically. It is also possible that I think Trump's suspected crimes are so much more severe than Clinton's that the best fixers in the country can't massage them away.

In any case, that's a fallacy of distraction. It doesn't matter what anyone else did but Trump, when the states' attorneys come knocking on Trump's door. They have prosecutorial discretion, and many have political ambitions of their own, so it may well be a matter of whether going after a former president and getting the conviction will help them more in the future than permanently burning all of that president's remaining political allies. Clinton can still pull in some votes and some campaign contributions. Even Nixon had folks that would still go to bat for him after he resigned. Trump is burning his (R) bridges, and snubbing all possible networking opportunities with the (D) side. It's almost like he has no conception whatsoever about how he can stay politically relevant--or at least politically protected--after leaving office.


My point is that it's highly unlikely anybody is coming for him after he leaves office. It's simply not done -- it wasn't even done to Nixon, where there certainly would have been cause.

Lots of things being done in the political arena are things you could previously say "simply aren't done." All while things that simply need to be done are totally ignored.

You're arguing something different from what I'm saying.

That's interesting that the political enemies of the Clintons controlled literally ever lever of government but there has not ever been charges.

What world do you live in that you should continue to make such baseless claims and expect to be taken seriously?


You're confused in thinking republicans are the "political enemies of the clintons" -- many of them are far more an enemy to the current inhabitant of the white house than they ever were or have been to the Clintons. As I recall, one very prominent former Republican president voted for Hillary.

Washington is full of people who want power. They posture and make noise about political sides and beliefs, but in reality most of them are on the same side -- the side of the elite. They want power and money and don't like outsiders. The current inhabitant of the white house isn't part of the gang, and a significant portion of both camps (well, all of one camp and a portion of the other) are working very hard against him every day.


> You're confused in thinking republicans are the "political enemies of the clintons"

Surely you jest.


Not a bit.

Trump has been making transparent threats on Twitter since before getting elected. Until now they've been pretty empty threats.

He solicited a hostile foreign power to interfere in the 2016 elections. In many countries this would be equivalent to treason.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/video/2016/jul/27/donald...


The scary thing is without consequences this might become the new normal.

I thought it was in the US?

The factual and evidentiary bar for treason is quite deliberately high in the US; in this case, if Trump colluded with the Russian government it would represent a violation of campaign laws (and a scandal of historic proportions!) but (Russia not being actively at war with the US) not treason qua treason.

I think that’s too complicated. The US has to be in a state of declared war against the country the traitor aides.

That video is the ultimate test for whether the viewer's political beliefs and biases are strong enough to override their sense of humor.

Did you miss the part where Russia was actually listening and did what he said, and he had reason to know it?

His "joke" was deliberate treason.


And that's why the Russians took a time machine to four months before that joke (July 2016) to hack Podesta's emails (March 2016) right?

He didn't ask them for Podesta's emails, he asked them for Clinton's, and they got right on it: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/13/us/politics/trump-russia-...

Something similar happened with the "secret wall street speech transcripts"-not a major story, but the fact that they weren't public became a major talking point for the Trump supporters I talked to-and lo and behold they did eventually leak.

Not sure why your comment is getting downvoted. It's absolutely true. It was obviously said as a joke.

I think he’s just implying they have more competence than the FBI in finding alleged missing emails. His comms is very non literal -and people take him literally. His whole campaign was off hand blue collar jokey remarks.

Pundits understood him literally, so they failed to understand him at all. His nomination competitors also saw him in this light and ultimately failed. Mostly, J think they failed to understand his communication style1[1]. Occasio on the Dem side uses some of this same comms style for the left and it works to a degree, but the left is more uptight about being PC in comms so cant go as far afield with it.

Kerry undermining foreign policy is closer to treason but no one bothers cuz he’s an old hand. Let’s say the Dems win the next cycle, but then as they try working with Russia or Iran on things, Bolton struts in on visits to give his two cents...

Basically, I think many people try using a standard/traditional comms framework to parse his comms, but he uses a different more blue collar style[2]. Not frat style of a GWB, or the ancient oratorical style of Obama.

Obviously people are disagreeing with me, but I'd suggest reading what some linguists and political theorists have to say.

[1]https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S019188691...

[2]https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.14318/hau6.2.00...


You can't claim he doesn't mean what he says literally after he shut down the government quite clearly over a literal wall he wants built. Or has harangued the Justice Department in public over not going after Hillary Clinton as an extension of his "Lock her up" campaign. Or his attempt to literally repeal & replace Obama Care. Regardless of whether you're pro or con on these and all of his other policy statements, it's clear through his words and his actions that he means it all literally. Up until it either a) becomes clear it's simply not going to happen (Mexico paying for the wall) or b) a statement is revealed to be patently untrue (see his various stories about his involvement with payoffs for affairs).

I think you’re mixing remarks with his stated policies. Policies they published during the campaign. Remarks are comments. That said, for politicians there is a certain fluidity in meaning. “I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it.”

I don't think you can separate what he says about his policies from the actual policies. They are part of a whole. "fluidity in meaning" is another way of saying they don't mean what they say. That doesn't mean they don't intend what they say to be taken literally. I don't buy the idea that people vote for candidates thinking "I know he/she was just making empty promises." The public may accept that politicians aren't always able to deliver on their promises, but not that the promises themselves were just some vague metaphorical allusion with no real intent behind them.

> His comms is very non literal

If that argument held any water we'd have to erase all attempted communication-based crimes: blackmail, libel, bribery, etc.

"Yes, my Email said I wanted to blackmail Jeff Bezos, but I wasn't being literal your honor" -> "OK, you're free to go"

Sorry, words matter especially when they have consequences and impact people's lives.


Let's put it this way, if he wanted to command the GRU to do some work for him, would he not be better off going though his channels rather than making on off-hand remark in front of an audience?

I'm sure he could use steganography to signal this or that, if need be.

I mean, come on, are you going to say Waters was "threatening" here: "I did not threaten [Trump] constituents and supporters. I do that all the time, but I didn't do that that time," Waters said to laughter from a crowd in Los Angeles."

You have to take context into consideration.


I think he likes pushing the envelope to see how far the crowd will let him go.

He's widely known to have paid for and used dirt on his enemies to influence things to his advantage.

I think like most con men he likes to boast about what he's doing even if it's illegal. Or after getting away with it for so long and seeing others do it too, it just feels normal.

I think he did use back channels with Rodger Stone to execute the crime, but he probably didn't even know it was a crime because he's been getting dirt on people his whole career. The only problem with this time was it was a Presidential election and a foreign power.


The example Thiel used in the original "seriously but not literally" argument was the wall. Of course Trump wasn't talking about a literal wall, he said, it was more of a metaphor for, you know, something.

This argument was always embarrassingly stupid, but anyone still making it after Trump shut down the government for a month over literal wall construction has forfeited their right to be taken seriously at all.


Sadly, you'll still find people (even in this thread) that claim "of course Trump's campaign wasn't meant to be taken literally." With statements like "if you took what Trump said on the campaign literally, then you missed the point."

So then if _The Wall_ was figurative, why did he shut down the government over its funding?

"No he meant that one literally."

Okay... So what about the fact that the wall would be funded by Mexico? He claimed that he would literally make them write a check.

"That was obviously figurative."

An exhausting stretch of logic by those who can't burden themselves with introspection.


Like any politician, the "Mexico would pay for it" was an "argument" to get support. Did supporters care if Mexico itself would pay? No. But it fit their sentiment. It's win-win for him because the only people who would "care" would be people against the wall who politically don't matter.

It's like when Dems say they want to abolish ICE. That's what their base want to hear. Do they really think ICE is going to be abolished? No, do they like hearing that because it rings nicely in their ears. yes!

Let's abolish ICE is the lefts version of "Mexico will pay for the wall". When they say Abolish ICE, they mean we'll (try to) do the dreamer things and we'll be less literal on refugee interpretation (and include economic migrants as definition of a refugee) for example. And, if it doesn't happen (not enough internal support) we'll blame the Repubs, no loss on their side. This is how political comms works.

Don't try and hang them on each and every word. You'll miss what they are saying.


> It's like when Dems say they want to abolish ICE. That's what their base want to hear. Do they really think ICE is going to be abolished?

Yes, they do.

They may not think the functions are going to be eliminated, or most of the rank and file staff removed from government service, any more than when the predecessors of various parts of ICE, like the INS, were abolished before it.


ICE as an organization was created in 2003, many people literally want to abolish it. The equivalence you are trying to draw here in no way exists.

You're basically saying "one side says what they want to do even if they know they can't get it, the other says whatever they think you want to hear"

It's interesting how many words you use to describe what in plain terms are blatant lies and deceptions.

It is intellectually dishonest to attribute literal intent to some of his statements, but others made with the same bombastic style only obviously more ridiculous are hand-waved away as "it was the spirit of the thing he meant, not literally". And whether or not his followers care about Mexico paying for the wall, his various statements clearly indicated a literal intent on the topic. And while some on the left may mean "let's massively reorganize ICE and rethink its operational policies", it's clear that some also mean this literally.

You're right about Occasio-Cortez: she is shaping up to be about as bad as Trump in this respect. I'm not quite sure which of them is worse, but I know the prospect of her someday getting to the White House is a chilling prospect, even though my political leanings are in that direction. She appears to be about as dangerously ignorant (and perhaps callous) of facts of situations. The only mitigating factor for her is that perhaps experience will temper this, and maybe she is just uninformed but not unwilling to learn.


> She appears to be about as dangerously ignorant (and perhaps callous) of facts of situations

Citation needed.

AOC is not eligible to run for president until she is 35. These facts might calm your fears.


I disagree with Thiel there, His base, and most independents want a literal wall (and, as he claims, Dems used to be for a wall) But his speeches are littered with these blue collar type speech patterns (boasting, exaggeration, put-downs, etc., when trying to “win” an argument).

> His base, and most independents want a literal wall

Can you back up that most independents want a wall? The polling I've seen says otherwise.

"CBS News polling from mid-November found that a majority -- 59 percent of Americans -- oppose building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. It's a partisan issue, though. A large majority of Republicans support the wall -- 79 percent. A majority of independents -- 66 percent -- oppose the wall, and 84 percent of Democrats are also against it."

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/cbs-news-poll-americans-dont-su...


I think you are confusing 'blue collar' with narcissism, arrogance, entitlement, laziness and stupidity.

Can we stop saying that "blue collar" people delve in boasting and exaggeration ? Most blue collar people I meet are very polite, mild mannered and focused on executing their tasks. The only people who talk like Trump are narcissists.

> This argument was always embarrassingly stupid, but anyone still making it after Trump shut down the government for a month over literal wall construction has forfeited their right to be taken seriously at all.

Whether his statements during the campaign were taken literally or not it appears he was taken seriously by enough people to win him the nomination and the election. I think more than anything they bought into his intent. And his values however we may choose to the define them resonated with them.


What’s really hilarious is that the wall was originally intended to be figurative. His staff came up with the idea as a way of keeping Trump’s scattered brain focused on talking about immigration. Except the moron ran with it.

This analysis has some merit if you don't jump to the conclusion that it's praise. The presumed reason for the downvotes is the issue of accountability. A President who can't be taken literally isn't viable. Oh and the part about Kerry and Bolton is nonsense. But other than that, it seems like obvious stuff.

Why is the HN echo chamber downvoting you? /s

Because what mc32 is doing is a rather cheap rhetorical tactic: asserting that, when Mr. Trump says something I (for the appropriate I) like, he is to be believed, but when he says something unappealing or rediculous, he's joking. It's a relative of the "no true Scotsman".

It's also a bit of a problem for a representative government, since it means you cannot take any of Trump's statements as a forecast of his policies.


Not quite. Trump is problematic. While he has attempted to execute his campaign promises, getting there the road is littered with inconsistency, opportunism, reversal, and some fluidity. But, but people take him too literally in the minutiae. The goal may be literal, but the tactics in getting there are not, the supporting verbiage is not. Counterintuitively the "vision" may be.

Like I said elsewhere, it's akin to the Dems "We'll abolish ICE". Some people will believe that literally, but it's not meant to be taken that way. They mean some reform and some policy changes. A redressing, but that's not what the base hears.


Are you sure “abolish ICE” is not meant to be taken literally? I’ve seen no indication of that and I sure thought it was literal.

The only confusion I’ve seen is from people who think “abolish ICE” is equivalent to “end all border and immigration enforcement.”


Well, now were' playing Trump's semantics, aren't we? It's not the INS, it's ICE. AS if they'll lay off 20k and then what? Nope. They may temper some things, do the dreamer things they promised, accommodate and redefine what refugee means (to include some poor economic migrants, but probably not rich economic migrants, etc.)

I don’t understand this response. What Trump’s semantics are we playing? Why is the idea an automatic “nope”?

Apparently Bezos's mistress's password is in haveibeenpwned.com so this very likely didn't require a government entity.

https://blog.erratasec.com/2019/02/how-bezos-dick-pics-might...


These sorts of things are always NP problems. If you know the answer, in hindsight it was obvious, because all the signs line up. But to think to look at the answer, to search the entire space of how to discredit someone, that takes resources.

Everything Bezos tells about seems to have happened very recently, after the divorce announcement, making Lauren Sanchez a very obvious hacking target for which password leaks are a very obvious easy strategy.

Taking on Amazon cybersecurity could be a job for the likes of the NSA, but accessing a cracked phone without being caught is almost amateur level hacking.


The spam comment on that post is entertaining.

When was it put there? Before or after the data was stolen?

From GP's link: I find that her email addresses have been included in that recent dump of 770 million accounts called "Collection#1".

For background, see Troy Hunt's explanation for this data [0]. He certainly didn't add Ms. Sanchez's passwords to this. The MEGA uploader could have, one supposes, but that pushes the timeline back to early January. The idea that someone was sitting on all these creds (140M email addresses in this breach that HIBP has never seen before.), and then released them as a smokescreen for Ms. Sanchez's would be, let's say, conspiratorial.

[0] https://www.troyhunt.com/the-773-million-record-collection-1...


Politically motivated - 100%

Government entity accessed them? I'd say it is much more likely that someone got the texts off his mistresses phone (whether willingly or not).


I don't understand, isn't a government entity someone who can get the texts off his mistress' phone?

I think the point is that it doesn't require the power of a government agency to get anybody's images off their phone.

It could be a government, it it could be Bezos' wife, Sanchez's brother or ex husband, or just someone with a knack for social engineering who thought there was a lot of money to be made.


Could it also be someone with a stringray who intercepted Jeff's correspondence to and from Sanchez?

I suppose it could have been -- depending on the phones involved. MMS isn't encrypted AFAIK, but iMessage is.

If you want exotic explanations, the images could have been recovered by Van Eck phreaking too, I suppose.

More likely explanation is something like the geek squad scandal where someone with physical access to the device (e.g. cell phone repairman, personal assistant, hotel maid) copied the photos.


So now it comes out that Sanchez shared some photos (no mention of which) of her and Bezos with female friends, and some SFW photos with her brother. Additionally she backed up her phone to her computer, and her computer was backed up to her assistant's computer. It looks like a lot of people might have had access to the photos.

- '

Nobody said they've used sophisticated attacks to get their hands into that data, though.

Why would a Government agency risk burning a zero day if they can just pay that lady or blackmail her with something else?


>>> "Bezos apparently believes that he was hacked"

Hacking implies a sophisticated attack.

Not saying either government didn't do it. Following paxys line of thought I would however agree that hacking is not the most likely explanation in how the private data was taken.

Social engineering is sometimes also described as an "hack" but I doubt that is what Bezos implies with the word.


> Hacking implies a sophisticated attack.

Depends on the audience I guess. The big majority of hacks are not sophisticated at all. There's also so many people that use it without an implication on the grade of sophistication.

But one thing is true, we can't possibly know for certain his intentions by using that word :-) so these are just our opinions for now :-)


> Hacking implies a sophisticated attack

to you and me, yes. probably also to Jeff Bezos. but to the general public (arguably the real audience here), hacking is anything between guessing someones weak password and sophisticated attacks like stuxnet.


Or they just wait until she leaves her phone unattended and clone it

This is harder than it seems nowadays (especially if you actually want to read the data you cloned later).

As an example: consider the FBI pushing Apple to help them decrypt a terrorists phone from several years ago. They finally got in because the phone was a particularly old model without a secure enclave and (from memory) they ended up buying a 0day for a considerable sum to do it.


Relevant XKCD: https://xkcd.com/538/

If you select for all instances of phone hacking and then split it into two parts:

1. Government hacked

2. Not government hacked

I'd wager that count(2) is by far the largest. Sure governments do it, but they literally don't have nearly as much human-attention and interest available as the rest of the entire human race.


This has been the rumor, but as yet unsubstantiated.

People like sharing salacious things with their besties, man or woman.


This is the most salacious and wild hacker news I’ve ever read.

House of Saud, maybe, they are dumb enough to think this would work. Given their inept handling of the Khashoggi I wouldn't be surprised. I doubt anyone in the US intelligence profession would think Bezos would call off the WaPo because of some scandalous photos.

"Just blackmail the richest man on the planet, that will totally work!"


Check out the book The Billionaire's Vinegar. Plenty of rich people are willing to stay silent to avoid embarrassment.

> the richest man on the planet

That we know of. The money coffers owned by the house of Saud run way deeper than many realize.


okay so second richest man? third? tenth? how does that change the calculus?

The largest entirely private fortune.

Individuals that are now or have been heads of state may have had opportunities to seize or otherwise employ state-owned property for their personal enrichment. Dictators over petroleum exporting nations are all likely richer than Bezos, in ways that we could never expect Forbes magazine to be able to verify, or even begin to investigate.

People whose wealth came mostly from publicly-traded stocks and real estate in nations with public records of title transfers can be more easily tracked and verified.


> "Just blackmail the richest man on the planet, that will totally work!"

Given the number of people and media who seem to be convinced without a doubt that Trump is being blackmailed by Russia...


Didn't he pay off a former pornstar tons of money to stay quiet about having sex with him? Doesn't seem implausible when he's already paid millions in hush money to keep embarassing personal info from leaking.

So then blackmailing seems to be a viable strategy! Merely pointing at the contradiction.

Actually... yes. If you got some (obviously very narcisstic) person that's known to have paid (a lot) of hush money, then that person likely is a viable target for blackmail.

The issue isn't that blackmail works or doesn't work, it's that it only works on some people. Trump is an obvious and clear candidate for blackmail, given his personality. Bezos is not.

And that worked so well she wrote a book about it...

It would've continued to work just fine if Trump hadn't run for President. Breaking the NDA doesn't make financial sense when he's a C-list celebrity; it does when he's suddenly the President.

Trump hasn't been a "c-list celebrity" ever. He's been a very famous and very well known celebrity for over four decades.

Even the left used to like him until he ran for president.


Generally people who think that think that Trump is being blackmailed with something _criminal_ (while the pee tape got a lot of attention, it's actually one of the less dangerous parts of that dossier from Trump's point of view). There's nothing criminal about taking a photo of your genitals.

I would disagree with that, a significant number of people think that Mr Trump is dependant on their _money_ and is ashamed to admit it, more than anything else.

It's a fact that Mr Trump has been bankrupt six times. It's a fact that he has not shown his tax returns. His business dealing with Russia are under investigation.


Some of his business ventures have filed for bankruptcy protection.

He has never been bankrupt himself. There's a significant difference.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Trump#Lawsuits_and_bank...

> Trump has never filed for personal bankruptcy, although in 1990 he came within one missed bank loan payment of doing so, agreeing to a deal that temporarily ceded management control of his company to his banks and put him on a spending allowance.

Personal bankruptcy in all but name.


We're talking about billionaires here, not Trump.

Well we know for s fact that Besos is wealthy. We’re not doubtful of that. We are just doubtful of claims of someone who says they’re rich and generally lies to the public, maybe a Trump tax return would help to make him more believable.

Trump has publicly been known to be negative net worth in a not too distant past. It is also public knowledge that no bank in America would do business with him.

It is not a leap to suspect Russian banks (that are on record as loaning him money) have financial leverage over him.

I wonder what happens to the supporters of the president once the walls come crashing in. The man is a criminal many times over, proven in court many times over. Why is it a surprise that his current endeavor is just another grift?


Don't underestimate how desperate people in power will get when they feel threatened.

It was fight or flight and Bezos chose to fight.

I don't think politically motivated is in any way the same thing as state-sponsored attack. That's quite a leap.

It's a non-falsifiable claim, unless they actually catch and prove whomever did it. If he can get an intel agency (Amazon customers by the way) to say they are reasonably sure it was [insert hostile government], then it becomes gospel and an excuse to declare war or shake down US politicians retroactively for associating with that entity. We saw it happen with Russia in 2016.

Not just Amazon customers, but WaPo customers. Every story in that paper with the slightest relation to national security or military spending is vetted and approved by the TLAs. It is exceedingly unlikely that these same TLAs targeted their good friend Jeff Bezos for this sort of abuse. If it hadn't been "dick-pics" [always a good idea, by the way...] but something less salacious we could possibly see it as some sort of convoluted "false flag" op. But Bezos is the good friend of these people. There is no way they would do this to him. If an underling did it without the permission of the top brass, that underling will be destroyed.

As observed elsewhere, Ms. Sanchez's phone could have been accessed by any number of parties. It certainly wasn't "inside the firewall". So it could have been the Saudis, and those murderers have incentives to embarrass Bezos. It could have been the Russians. It could have been Amazon short-sellers. It could have been Wal-Mart. It could have been the proverbial fat guy in his mom's basement. At least Guccifer 2.0 hasn't come up.

Pecker is a moron though. How could Bezos possibly respond to this in any other way than what we see here? Trump seems to surround himself with morons.


Russia got their day in court and lost so I am not sure the equivalence.

From Reuters: "Inside the UAE’S Secret Hacking Team of American Mercenaries"

https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/usa-spyi...


Which makes stories like this a lot more interesting:

https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/mby7kq/malware-to...

> Saudi Arabia paid $55 million to purchase iPhone malware made by NSO Group, according to a recent report by Israeli newspaper Haaretz

The Saudis really disliked the Washington Post digging into their murder of Khashoggi, it doesn't seem too crazy that they set their sights on the boss and ended up stumbling upon some juicy texts and pics. The really interesting part is how they got to AMI. I have to imagine there is a Trump connection somewhere along the way.


Citizen Lab (who uncovered a lot of NSO Group's work with governments) also recently had what seemed to be an attempt at character assassination targeting them.

https://www.apnews.com/9f31fa2aa72946c694555a5074fc9f42


Worth pointing out that the only mobile device that Bezos has apparently tweeted from (publically) seems to be an iPhone. Doesn’t mean he didn’t have a burner phone for conducting his affairs of course.

https://twitter.com/dancow/status/1093732934299856899


Genuinely disappointed that it is not a Fire phone.

That would be his burner phone.

... I'll show myself out.


>AMI

I heard "amazon Machine Image" and thought WTF - are the AMIs compromised....


Different sort of image ;)

if Mohammed Bone Saw is behind this also, then wow, just wow. His Highness is really dumber than a saw handle.

Can't you just picture him being on a call with Trump and casually saying this was something he could do, and Trump being like yes please thus creating yet another Putin-esque blackmail situation. My gut says that's what this is.

If your gut is speaking to you in such a way you should feed it a healthy lunch.

Even crazier still...

This isn't being seriously alleged, as the source of this theory was a Roger Stone associate.

https://twitter.com/lachlan/status/1093864755381571584


I thought Bezos' investigator had alluded to the leaks originating from Sanchez's brother? That also seems more likely to me than a nation state - in this particular case, at least.

indeed, however the evidence looks too amateurish for a state-sponsored attack.

Watergate wasn't exactly a professional job. Or the Saudi murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

Government dirty tricks rarely involve their A team, because when doing something illegal loyalty is even more important than competence.


The ones with self respect decline.

Cf. "Who will rid me of this troublesome priest?"


Those with self-respect don't last long in murderous Middle Eastern dictatorships. Why would they even want someone like that around?

Of course, one doesn't detect a great deal of self-respect in the upper echelons of power in more "democratic" nations, either.


Yea, just look at how well thought out the Khashoggi murder was.

Well Kashoggi is dead and MBS got away with it. Moreover, MBS's enemies know know what he's willing to do, and what he can get away with, and may be frightened into compliance. From MBS's perspective this sounds like a success.

Has "thus far gotten away with it".

Predictions are difficult, particularly about the future

It's a cruder version of poisoning your turncoats with Pu. While hard to prove, it has an unmistakable signature that says, "anyone lese want to try"?

His ability to get away with murder does not at all seem connected to his ability to execute said murder.

The theater was all for nothing, as real world consequences show they could have murdered the jouralist in cold blood and broad daylight.


otoh , bezos himself is wondering how they got into his phone.

I really doubt that it was done by a US government entity. Trump is the president and all, but to hack and release (by a third party) the personal information if a citizen (not suspected or related to any crime) seems to me to be something that even Trump or his supporters can't do, the intelligence agencies just wouldn't do it in my opinion.

The Saudis seem like a much more likely party to do it in my opinion, mostly because we know they are willing to do a lot worse against people they oppose (or who oppose them).

That being said, I also think that playing the "A government hacked my phone" is a much better play on behalf of Bezos then claiming it was done by someone accessing his or Sanchezs phone (for example her brother who is supposedly a Trump supporter, like the link in the end suggests).


Nuh-huh.

What happens is something approximately like this:

Saudi military intelligence puts through a request via appropriate channels to the Five Eyes for a tap on some low-profile woman's phone, claiming it's necessary in pursuit of a counter-terrorism objective. This ends up with GCHQ rather than NSA (NSA spies on Brits, Brits spy on Americans, they work at adjacent desks and share info: this is the traditional work-around for laws banning domestic spying) who happily hand over the contents of a foreign POIs phone to an allied intel agency.

Nobody at any senior level has a clue what's going on under cover of surveillance: stuff like this happens thousands of times a day. Meanwhile, the Saudi officer in charge of the kompromat on Bezos now has the dodgy photos off his girlfriend's phone ...

If GCHQ doesn't work, route through some other allied SIGINT agency with cooperation via NSA, preferably in a country where the Khashoggi thing is just another "foreigners doing horrible things to each other" back page story and nobody has a clue about Jeff Bezos' divorce.

TLDR: the global war on terror has given us a global hairball of inter-tangled intelligence sharing arrangements, and these can be manipulated for pleasure and profit by any sufficiently corrupt party who is plugged in to it.


No this is just a total fabrication of how things work. Please don't do this.

How many articles have you read about rogue Stingrays around DC? If the FCC wanted to take these down it would take 45 minutes of triangulation, but they never do it. Instead we get vague statements about the devious Chinese.

It’s hard to conclude that five eyes isn’t a domestic spying proxy program.


There are many reasons why these devices persist not only in DC but all across the country.

One is resource management and risk evaluation (aka, there are bigger problems), another is knowledge of FIS operations and many others...


We got from "total fabrication" to "resource management" pretty quickly...

Incorrect inference.

You've incorrectly attributed the argument from a specific offshoot (that foreign spy tools persist because of limited counterintelligence resources) and applied it to the root supposition (that nation states utilize parallel construction, through a conspiracy with known adversaries as a matter of course and that spy infrastructure is built specifically for that purpose).


I would quibble with "known adversaries". Saudi has been a close ally of both UK and USA for nearly 30 years. Haven't Snowden's materials proved the point for the rest of the root supposition already?

Of course it's more likely that someone (anyone, really) just pwned Ms. Sanchez's phone directly.


That seems to be a plausible explanation. Can you refute the argument besides just calling it BS? Otherwise, it's an interesting theory.

No Five Eyes member is going to randomly tap some US citizens phone because the Saudis asked without some serious investigation.

The Saudis are positioned as our allies in the war on terror. More accurately, they're regional enemies of Iran, and the western powers tend to run on the rubric "the enemy of my enemy is my ally" (even when a closer look at the situation would suggest that just ain't so).

They are huge customers for British arms sales (look up the Al Yamamah deal — roughly US $100Bn in business). They're known to have bought surveillance and intelligence monitoring software from Israel. They're in everybody's back pockets, and in their wallets.

As a Brit, I find your belief that US citizens are immune from monitoring by the intelligence services of other nations (when that kind of money is passing hands) touching ...


>The Saudis are positioned as our allies in the war on terror.

As are a lot of countries. Does not mean we will allow surveillance without any questions.

>As a Brit, I find your belief that US citizens are immune from monitoring by the intelligence services of other nations (when that kind of money is passing hands) touching ...

I never said or implied that.

Read the comment again:

>No Five Eyes member is going to randomly tap some US citizens phone because the Saudis asked without some serious investigation.


No no no. The UK has laws that facilitate surveillance of its citizens. The UK spying on US citizens in the USA is something that I would put into a risk category two (more??) orders of magnitude above brexit or suez. I'm sorry, but it would be lunatic recklessness, and to what advantage?

UKUSA treaty: goes back to 1945, GCHQ is used by the NSA as a convenient work-around for restrictions on domestic surveillance. This was all documented by James Bamford in his histories of the NSA, "Inside the Puzzle Palace" and "Body of Secrets".

(You're looking at the present-day for context, but these agencies run on protocols that have built up over many decades, dating back to the Cold War.)


Hi Charlie! It's getting increasing difficult for fiction to stay ahead of reality.

I would welcome your conjectures on how the spooks controlled Obama. His enduring legacy may be heavy use of the Espionage Act to prosecute whistleblowers, and a radical expansion of "death from the sky", which seem incompatible with his personality, creating a mystery: What leverage did/do the spooks have on him?


I'm pretty sure they didn't need it.

My read on BHO is that as a non-white guy super-achieving in a quietly racist political climate (we've subsequently had a refresher course in American racial politics: it never went away) he was at pains to avoid alienating factions that might work against him.

He was also a lawyer: not just any lawyer, but a former editor of the Harvard Law Review (a plum niche reserved for star pupils at the #1 law school in the United States, often an early sign that the individual is on the road to the Supreme Court). Instead of heading for the bench Obama went into politics, but he is above all else a legalist (and a constitutional expert). As such, he worked only within the established legal frameworks, carefully trying to build a platform for incremental adjustments.

The Espionage Age was already a feature of the system before he arrived in the Oval Office: he continued to use it as it was designed. He didn't rock the boat or try to impose a radical agenda on the DoJ. He wouldn't do anything that might give his enemies a lever against him. He was, in fact, a conservative politician: not "conservative" in the sense of Movement Conservativism (which is actually a very radical political platform), but a Burkean conservative.

The spooks didn't need leverage on him: he was theirs from the outset.


GP is saying the UK tells the US "Hey, we're gonna spy on your citizens", and the US says "Okidoki, just make sure to pass us the data you collect". And vice versa.

They don't just give the Saudi's an unfiltered tap into five eyes surveillance. This is just spreading misinformation

Except Lauren Sanchez is a fairly well known news anchor, and not “some low profile woman”, unless I’m reading you wrong?

What usually happens in these kind of things is mistress or partner shares images with friends and someone looks to profit or take vengeance behalf of cheated friend. I'm baffled nobody brings this up.

Yeah, like "the fappening", for christ's sake, it doesn't have to be a "state actor"!

We mustn't forget, the War Media is always agitating for more military action. "State actor" gets them a lot closer to their goal than "fat dude in his mom's basement".

>>Trump is the president and all, but to hack and release (by a third party) the personal information if a citizen (not suspected or related to any crime) seems to me to be something that even Trump or his supporters can't doTrump is the president and all, but to hack and release (by a third party) the personal information if a citizen (not suspected or related to any crime) seems to me to be something that even Trump or his supporters can't do, the intelligence agencies just wouldn't do it in my opinion.

For me it checks out - leaking informations sounds like something that Trump or his supporters would do. Why would not they, if they have the option to? Per the intelligence agencies - are you sure that they are a single entity, where people are of uniform opinion? And every single person follows law to the letter of it? There is the example that those services employed Snowden - if the services were so organised as to avoid such hacks, we would not have heard of Snowden.

Sure, Sanchez' phone might have had leaks in it... but it is just as plausible as a government officials (US or non-US) accessing his phone.


It's somewhat plausible that an NSA employee might leak Bezos's nudes, it is not plausible that a US agency would hack his phone.

There's a chance I'm mostly just being hopeful, and you're right in both that Trump would totally support doing something like that, and that the intelligence agencies aren't a single entity.

>>For me it checks out - leaking informations sounds like something that Trump or his supporters would do. Why would not they, if they have the option to? Per the intelligence agencies - are you sure that they are a single entity, where people are of uniform opinion? And every single person follows law to the letter of it? There is the example that those services employed Snowden - if the services were so organised as to avoid such hacks, we would not have heard of Snowden.

But from my experience in other government entities, I believe that doing something like hacking into someone's phone, would require approval and support from high enough officials in those organizations, and so far it seems that these organization do still seem to remain professional and not involved in political actions by the president.

I agree that there might be (and I'm assuming there are) private Trump supporters in those agencies, that for example, would do 'a Snowden' and release classified and private information that they shouldn't. But that information first needs to gathered, and I don't think Jeff Bezos has done something to warrant previous gathering of information about him. (If information about Trump for example is released this way, it would seem more likely to me, because we know they collected that information while thinking he might be a spy).

But once again, I hope I'm not just being hopefully optimistic in my trust of 'the system'.


Why Saudis? Why not the Russians in this context?

Because there is no clear connection to Russia here, and there is between AMI and the Saudis? Russia isnt some boogie man, let's use common sense.

Kashoggi was an employee of the Washington Post, which Bezos owns. The WaPo have been highly critical of the Saudi response to the Kashoggi murder. It would stand to reason the Saudis are likely using AMI as a proxy for their campaign to blackmail Bezos and silence the WaPo. Trump protecting the Saudis, and Russia protecting Trump would be quite an analytical leap I'd think.

> quite an analytical leap I'd think.

Reality can be stranger than fiction. With all the new revelations that come out about all these entities on a regular basis - what is to be believed anymore?


Not WaPo, that's for sure. Bezos might be more reliable when writing in his own name...

Could be true. Could be whatever chat app he used too.

But my Bayesian prior of how the world works is that someone had access to someone's phone (his or his GFs) and gave the photos to the Enquirer.


More interesting context: both David Pecker and AMI have cooperation deals with Mueller, and have admitted to killing stories about Trump during the election.

Those agreements are now void if they've broken the law.

Is that true? I know Manafort's cooperation agreement was nullified, but my understanding is that's because he lied to the special counsel. Which is presumably a crime, but it also violates the spirit of cooperation. I'd assume that in this case the matters are separate. But IANAL, what do I know.

ANY crime committed between Sept. 20, 2018 and Sept. 20, 2021 voids the agreement.

https://attorneyalexhernandez.com/read-david-pecker-ami-plea...

Get the prison cell ready.


Thanks for the clarification!

Mueller allegedly has a nude selfie filed under seal relating to the indictment of the 13 Russian individuals and three companies. There must have been something more to it to avoid revealing who it was.

But we don't know who Mueller's selfie was of. (there was a claim it was some random who was sexting Guccifer 2 but that doesn't seem like something worth filing)

Maybe the better question is how or from whom he obtained it.

Manafort or Cohen seem most likely sources as Mueller's got all their stuff or maybe the AMI handed it over as part of their cooperation deal.

It's all a little weird as attempting to extort Bezos right now seems insane given the legal peril they are in. This may be worse than their part in election contribution violation they were previously on the hook for.



It's up for me

I get a 403. Weird.


Well, if Trump was stupid enough to have any remote knowledge of it or part in it - he is done. Esquirer will crack, Bezos has infinite funds, and determination, and is pissed. The truth will come out.

Stay tuned.


What kind of phone does he use? I am going to guess an iphone...

I don't think that's the implication at all. He's saying Trump's friends are involved to help him politically.

I wonder how Thiel will react if it turned out Trump directed national spy agencies to attempt to blackmail a rival oligarch to force him to provide favorable political coverage to their ruling coalition. Being the committed anti-tabloid blackmailer he is.

? Thiel targetted only one tabloid(a tabloid that previously openly outed him as gay with who knows what moral authority) by funding a case that another wronged individual cast against that tabloid.

gawker was crazy stupid during that timeframe for whatever reason. you can't apply anonymous social media rules to your online publishing business and expect not to be punished.


well last I checked Thiel supports Trump ideologically and the Saudis are large customers of his, plus he wants more defense/spy contracts so since he's so far proven to be a cheap date in terms of business, I think he'll just side with whoever gives him more money

He would probably file this under "culture wars" and move on to something else.

Given the open rows Trump had with the FBI and the CIA, that these agencies are filled with democrats and even republican sympathisers who think Trump should be impeached, and that an abuse of power is the very raison d’etre of the impeachment procedure, I don’t see how he would get to give such an order without the whole world knowing about it. Doesn’t pass the smell test.

Foreign agency, different story. But there are enough people with a smartphone in the US that it doesn’t take a state-backed agency to obtain a compromising picture of a well known public figure.


Replied to a different comment - but the same question applies here.

Are you sure that they are a single entity, where people are of uniform opinion? And every single person follows law to the letter of it? Trump could request this task unofficially from someone as a 'favour' - the agency as a whole might not have access to the request.


In the second case, one might hope that those entities will check their audit logs and make sure no-one used the tools of the state for their own end.

Well, there were documents part of the Snowden leaks that showed how some NSA agents used the agency's tools to spy on (former) romantic partners and such, and I think he said something along the lines of this kind of thing not being prosecuted much. Sure, it's still a different level than a political case like this one, but it does call the internal oversight at the NSA into question.

If I was the director of the CIA I'd cover up any internal corruption, to avoid being subject to additional oversight or public criticism. We've already banked the public trust from having audit records exist, actually checking the audit records can only reveal bad news.

That's the point of a Congressional summons and testimony.

You can cover up things quietly, but lying to Congress when asked about it carries a very different set of penalties.


But lying to Congress is kind of a moving target. You can get away with it if you later when found out come back in with a "I was misinformed" or "I misunderstood the question" performance.

He could literally be locking his translator out of the room again when he talks to the Saudis, like he does with Putin meetings. He probably thinks he's incredibly clever for taking advice from the Saudis and Putin, in spite of the dems. Yes he is that dumb.

One would wonder if what happened to the WaPo journalist was Saudia Arabia providing indirect payback for Trump. At the very least, that may have been part of the logic. "Oh, it's fine, Trump hates the Washington Post as well"

Jamal Khashoggi was much more than a journalist, he was power player in Saudi Arabia. You might have heard of his uncle, Adnan, known as the world's largest arms dealer when he was alive.

Over the last six-months-to-a-year, ruling prince MBS has followed the program of whipping the Saudi Ruling class into submission (metaphorically and literally, with electrical chords). Part of the problem is the princes were stealing so much money that the state of this incredibly wealthy, absolutist theocracy was approaching bankruptcy. Khashoggi left the country at that point and was acting as something like external opposition to MBS, clearly something the prince would not brook.

None of this is to lessen the final brutal act but rather to explain it. If anything, the Saudis are probably extra pissed at the Post for "harboring" Khashoggi.


  Here [1] is a reporter from the Washington Post backing that up
In other words, here is one of Bezos' employees backing him up.

There is a conflict of interest between his role as employee and his statements regarding Bezos. But there would be a conflict of interest between his role as reporter and his statements regarding Bezos. You're not wrong per se, but my perception is that there is a very good chance this person is telling the truth, given that in every case I've known of where a reporter for a major newspaper has disagreed with someone on a matter of record, they've been right. (NB that may still be explained by biases on my end and I'd love to be given a more nuanced view).

> Here is a reporter from the Washington Post backing that up.

You mean, the newspaper that Bezos owns is backing his story?

Color me surprised.


If the CEO and Founder of AWS can be easily hacked by Saudis then what does that mean for the rest of silicon valley in general and 99% of YC funded startups who rely on AWS?

This is not a productive line of reasoning, and mostly acts as a red herring in this entire discussion. The security of AWS has absolutely nothing to do with the security of the CEO of Amazon, even if AWS is a product of Amazon. You can sell the best basketballs and be a terrible basketball player at the same time.

One would hope that (a) Bezos doesn't have unrestricted access to AWS and that (b) whatever access he has uses multiple forms of authentication.

well it's a lot easier to "hack" one person's iCloud account (in reality you just need a well placed personal assistant or employee at apple) than an entire cloud infrastructure without being noticed

Okay, I'll bite: how would a single employee at Apple do this?

1. Receive anti-social-engineering training saying they absolutely shouldn't do X.

2. Do X.


IME if you are a part of an org/feature-specific security team at a team at large company you will be made aware of potential security flaws before they are fixed and merged in prod... so if some employee at apple learned "hey, auth tokens are being leaked in the usage data" they could hack basically anybody if they wanted to before the fix was merged and deployed to the public

And that's why there's demand for private, on-premise cloud. Hip startup don't care about your data. Some boring companies do.

Sort of destroys the entire definition of "cloud", doesn't it?

> If the CEO and Founder of AWS can be easily hacked by Saudis

Was he actually hacked? Saudi LEO could've easily got those pics from Apple legally.


how would that work?

Mohammad the Bonesaw comes to Apple's Rhiyadh office and orders them to surrender Jeff's d*picks, and obliges them to comply

>"hacked" by either the US or Saudi government

You think the U.S./Saudi government can remotely grab pics from an iPhone?

Apple has disclosed lots of security info saying even they cannot do this. The iPhone/iOS wasn't built in that way.

I think the leak likely comes from someone close to Ms. Sanchez, or she fell victim to a phishing attack (or account recovery hack).


Just last week you could group facetime someone and get a audio feed without consent. Their security is not infallible.

Apple is part of the PRISM surveillance program [1] operated by the NSA. Internal slides from the NSA indicate that said program is capable of providing "extensive, in-depth surveillance on live communications and stored information" including email, video, voice chat, photos, and more.

When Apple was first approached about their role in PRISM they, unlike other companies, chose to outright lie stating that, "We have never heard of PRISM." along with the typical boilerplate about not allowing any government agency direct access to their servers. NSA access is presumably 'facilitated' indirect, explaining why most of all claims specifically state 'direct access' in their releases.

Other companies, for contrast, chose to offer misleading but technically honest responses. For instance Facebook said, "We do not provide any government organization with ~direct~ access to Facebook servers. When Facebook is asked for data or information about specific individuals, we carefully scrutinize any such request for compliance with all applicable laws, and provide information only to the extent required by law.".

The point of this is that what companies say, especially as it relates to their involvement in government surveillance programs is pretty much meaningless. We live in a world where their lying about participation is not illegal, but telling the truth would be. Quite a dystopic reality in many ways. As an aside this is not to say that leaks came from the government, but rather that it's extremely likely that the government could trivially obtain access to Bezos' online devices if desired. And given his position in the national economy (let alone media and space industries), I would expect such desires have long since existed even if only for 'national security', which in today's world of wide net surveillance happens to overlap with dick pics. And from there all it takes is one bad actor who gets tempted by the potential value of direct evidence showing the world's wealthiest man cheating on his wife.

[1] - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PRISM_%28surveillance_program%...


I find it amazing we have to repeat this again and again. People act like this never happened.

I'm really wondering what's the cognitive mechanism that allows people to just discard enormous informations like this one.


This, a thousand times. Besides, I recall someone saying (I think it was Bruce Schneier) that the way technology is making privacy something that cannot be taken for granted is similar to a process of pollution, in that the small effects accumulate until they become more visible in the future.

I think the analogy is even more appropriate, because the general attitude to pollution (especially Climate Metldown) seems to display that same cognitive mechanism you mention. There are the small cumulative effects, the ways in which taking any meaningful measure would uncomfortably interfere with our habits. The social fabric has just molded itself to the absurd reality, and our comfort and complicity is what makes the absurdity inspire oblivion and indifference instead of alarm and indignation. And then one day, unbreathable air, food insecurity, and nominal democracy become facts of life, and the dogma of progress (rather than progress itself) is what remains a constant.


This description sounds like a database for results of subpoenas. It is not a secret that the government can send a subpoena…

> I would expect such desires have long since existed even if only for 'national security', which in today's world of wide net surveillance happens to overlap with dick pics.

Spooks like dirt and compromising materiel exactly because it is useful for blackmail.


Remember the fappening? It doesnt need to be remote grabbing, people just upload their nudes to the icloud. Maybe jeff did as well.

While apple says they are end to end encrypted, I also assume they work with the FBI/whoever to catch owners of illegal content, so they probably would have a way to get the unencrypted content.


The “fappening” was done by phishing, not a direct hack on iCloud servers.

Photos and files stored in iCloud are not end to end encrypted: https://support.apple.com/en-gb/HT202303

Oops, I actually looked at that page, but misinterpreted it

"working with" the fbi usually means the fbi provides hashes of images containing illegal content like child pornography and image providers give up any accounts that contain images with those hashes(google does it this way)

they don't just give the fbi data access without a court order


Sure, but to be able to create the exact same hash as the FBI you need to be able to access the unencrypted content.

Local client creates hashes and transmits them together with the metadata and the encrypted data, Apple compares incoming hashes with FBI/NCMC/... databases. Easy as that.

Please read my post again, my theory covers that: "or she fell victim to a phishing attack (or account recovery hack)."

Have you read the latest Apple iO2 12.1.4 security updates? There are 3 escalation exploits, and at least one of them remote.

Don't think for a second that major players can't dial in whenever they want.


There was mention of Michael Sanchez: https://www.thedailybeast.com/bezos-investigators-question-t... (Link at bottom of the medium post)

So it may have been his mistress' phone that was compromised.


Thus my theory stands. It was someone close to them.

A hack is a hack

Forgot password is not a hack.
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