L. Gordon Crovitz writes: “I’m still clinging to my BlackBerry, ” President-elect Obama said in early 2009. “They’re trying to pry it out of my hands.” The National Security Agency was so anxious about foreign intelligence agents gaining access to classified information that it assigned dozens of technologists to work for months before the inauguration to modify a BlackBerry Mr. Obama could use. The new president was told his device could safely communicate with fewer than a dozen other people, after their devices were loaded with special encryption.
“From what has been released so far, that includes the name of a CIA source on Libya that Mrs. Clinton divulged in unprotected email to confidant Sidney Blumenthal.”
His secretary of state took a different approach.
“Other emails identified as containing classified information include those dealing with discussions of Iran’s nuclear program, spy satellites and drone strikes.”
Hillary Clinton set up her own private email server. By avoiding use of government servers, she succeeded in keeping emails off-limits to information requests from congressional overseers and journalists—but American counterintelligence agents must now assume that Chinese, Russian and possibly other agents had full access. A Pentagon counterintelligence official told the Daily Beast that if he were in charge of a foreign intelligence agency, “I’d fire my staff if they weren’t getting all this.”
“The AP reported attempted hacks on Mrs. Clinton servers from China and Russia. It identified a hacker using a computer in Serbia who scanned the server in the basement of her Chappaqua, N.Y., home multiple times in 2012.”
Mr. Obama jumped the gun on the FBI inquiry into Mrs. Clinton’s handling of classified material by saying earlier this month that “this is not a situation in which America’s national security was endangered.”
The New York Times reported that Mr. Obama’s comments “raised the ire of officials who saw an instance of the president trying to influence the outcome of a continuing investigation.”
“There’s good reason to assume that foreign intelligence agencies were able to read the Clinton emails. Government servers are not hackproof, but they offer basic defenses and alerts. An Associated Press investigation found that the Clinton setup didn’t use a virtual private network, a common corporate safeguard. This meant her email server could be accessed over an open Internet connection.”
Meddling with the FBI investigation is only part of the problem. Mrs. Clinton’s conduct in office is forcing U.S. counterintelligence agencies to review her emails to identify what sources and methods of U.S. intelligence they have to assume were burned. Read the rest of this entry »
Journalists covering the protests include some who have been expelled from China amid crackdowns
Oct. 5, 2014 5:03 p.m. ET, L. Gordon Crovitz writes: Information has been the main currency of Hong Kong since colonial days, when word reached mainland Chinese that if they escaped to “touch base” in Hong Kong, they would get refuge under British rule. Hong Kong became Asia’s first global city thanks to hardworking immigrants who made the most of their open trade, English legal system and free speech.
“By breaking the promise that Hong Kong can select its own government, China’s current rulers are violating clear obligations.”
Hong Kong protesters are driven by hope that a leader selected by Hong Kong voters—as Beijing promised for 2017 before it reneged—can protect their way of life. But as the Communist Party narrows freedoms on the mainland, Deng Xiaoping ’s “one country, two systems” formulation for the 1997 handover entails a widening gap between life in Hong Kong and the rest of China. Without a government to represent them, Hong Kong people had no better choice than to take to the streets.
“This year has seen unprecedented physical attacks on journalists in Hong Kong, presumably at Beijing’s behest. China extorted advertising boycotts of pro-democracy publishers in Hong Kong. It forced critical bloggers to close down.”
Mainland China is in an era of brutal suppression. Beijing jails reformers, controls journalists and employs hundreds of thousands of censors on social media. Twitter , Facebook , YouTube and many global news sites are blocked. Instagram was closed down after mainlanders shared photos of Hong Kong people using umbrellas against pepper spray and tear gas.
“Hong Kong’s fate is to be the world’s window on an unpredictable China. “
As a financial capital, Hong Kong cannot survive without open access to information. It has more newspapers than any other city in the world. It’s been a window on China since the communist revolution. An unintended consequence of Beijing’s recent crackdown is that expelled foreign journalists now operate from Hong Kong, delivering news of the protests.
Google searches from China are routed to Hong Kong servers so that results can be delivered uncensored
The Wall Street Journal’s first overseas edition was launched in Hong Kong in 1976. A running joke among Journal opinion writers is that it’s the only place in the world where our free-market, free-people beliefs are mainstream. Google searches from China are routed to Hong Kong servers so that results can be delivered uncensored. Read the rest of this entry »
By unilaterally retreating from online oversight, the White House pleased regimes that want to control the Web
L. Gordon Crovitz writes: The Internet is often described as a miracle of self-regulation, which is almost true. The exception is that the United States government has had ultimate control from the beginning. Washington has used this oversight only to ensure that the Internet runs efficiently and openly, without political pressure from any country.
This was the happy state of affairs until last Friday, when the Obama administration made the surprise announcement it will relinquish its oversight of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or Icann, which assigns and maintains domain names and Web addresses for the Internet. Russia, China and other authoritarian governments have already been working to redesign the Internet more to their liking, and now they will no doubt leap to fill the power vacuum caused by America’s unilateral retreat.
“The Obama administration has now endangered that hallmark of Internet freedom.”
Why would the U.S. put the open Internet at risk by ceding control over Icann? Administration officials deny that the move is a sop to critics of the National Security Agency’s global surveillance. But many foreign leaders have invoked the Edward Snowden leaks as reason to remove U.S. control—even though surveillance is an entirely separate topic from Internet governance.