A wry rebuttal to Nuts, Nuns and Nukes



Franklin M. Siler is an interesting lawyer and a blogger, particularly on matters of technology. He holds degrees in computer science, accounting, and law, and he spent more than a decade as an IT consultant working with British Telecom among others. I don’t doubt that he knows a lot about security issues. He practices law in Kansas.

Frank wrote me with his humorous take on Nuts, Nuns and Nukes. With Frank’s permission, I reprint a portion of his correspondence next.

Frank writes:

I have to say . . . I’m perplexed at your post. Though I regularly work with clients who have less than a full deck, I found this almost farcical. I’ll write my response as a security consultant, since that is my alter ego.

. . .

The fact that the guardians of the henhouse are so incompetent hardly seems like a reason to punish those who were trivially able to defeat the security measures in place.

“Deadly force is authorized,” signs there read. “Halt!” Images of skulls emphasize the lethal danger.

I don’t see how this has any more legal meaning than a dump truck that has a sign on the back proclaiming “not responsible for broken windshields”. It might be foolish to follow such a truck, just as it is foolish to walk past such a sign- but I don’t see how that can be interpreted as an aggravation on the trespassers’ part. It’s simply that the Keystone Kop guardians failed to use any of the measures they warn about.

. . .

There are people who make a ton of money doing what these people did for free. It’s called “penetration testing”, or “pentesting” for short. As a taxpayer, I’m dumbfounded but unsurprised that granny and her miscreant accomplices were able to do this. I’m equally unsurprised that the government took more than two weeks to explain to itself what happened.

What DOES surprise me is that you seem to characterize this mishandling on the government’s part as some kind of test for whether national security was compromised. There’s no indication that they got close to destroying any material equipment, disrupted our military stance, or even necessarily slowed down the services. Their intents and acts certainly fall in to the “symbolic” rather than “substantive” when it comes to damage to national defense.

The government should be embarrassed by this case. Instead of admitting ineptitude and fixing what may or may not be substantive security problems, it reached out and threatened minor vandals with a 20-year sentence. It’s blaming the wrong people for the problem.

. . .

I totally agree they’re nuts. I totally agree that some time in custody is warranted. I just can’t agree that they tried to “sabotage” anything.

. . .

 Now, back to my copy of DSM-5 to see what’s wrong with my latest batch of “interesting” clients.

I responded to Frank’s concluding remarks about the DSM-5 (the Fifth Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5)). I wrote: “Don’t spend too much time with the DSM-5. I did that once. I now see, hear and smell Dinosaurs. Haldol doesn’t help unless I chase it with a jigger of gin.”


Like a schizophrenic who missed his dose of Haldol . . .

Like a schizophrenic who missed his dose of Haldol, I sometimes see connections between things that saner people don’t. Perhaps I am having one of those days.

Today, I want to highlight two articles in the press. I think they are connected, but maybe only at the cosmic level. You decide.

The Next Nine Years by Linda Greenhouse

Remember Chief Justice Robert’s confirmation hearing?  He uttered these famous words:

Judges and justices are servants of the law, not the other way around. Judges are like umpires. Umpires don’t make the rules; they apply them.

The role of an umpire and a judge is critical. They make sure everybody plays by the rules.

But it is a limited role. Nobody ever went to a ball game to see the umpire.

Judges have to have the humility to recognize that they operate within a system of precedent, shaped by other judges equally striving to live up to the judicial oath.

And judges have to have the modesty to be open in the decisional process to the considered views of their colleagues on the bench.

Quoted from Roberts: ‘My job is to call balls and strikes and not to pitch or bat,’ CNN (September 12, 2005).

In Linda Greenhouse’s piece, she raises an interesting question. What kind of an “umpire” will Chief Justice Roberts be in nine years. In raising the question, she looks back at the Chief’s tenure during the past nine years. It is a fascinating piece backed up by a knowledgable observer’s discussion of some of the big cases.

Here is my take on Greenhouse’s piece: Chief Justice Roberts may be more the good lawyer and less the pure ideologue than you might otherwise have believed. While we tend to focus on the Chief’s “umpire” analogy during his confirmation hearing and many may sneer at his suggestion, Greenhouse raises the possibility that we are missing the boat with that focus. It could be that Roberts statement about listening to his colleagues–“And judges have to have the modesty to be open in the decisional process to the considered views of their colleagues on the bench.”–was far more significant.

If you care about the Supreme Court and how a Chief Justice can shape the Court if he or she has the traits of a practical lawyer open to compromise, Ms. Greenhouse’s piece is worth your time.

Yazidi boy reunited with family in Lincoln after 4 years by Chris Dunker (slow to load–be patient)

Remember the awful game, “fire, dare and repeat?” The premise of the game is that one participant forces the other participant to contemplate some awful choice. Then, that other participant must make the choice and say the choice out loud to all those assembled. Sensitive people seldom finished that game. I was very good at the game. When I played against girls, I could almost always make them cry and drop out.

So, let’s play. Here’s my question to you: “Would you abandon your newborn child–your only child–to save yourself and your spouse from those who would surely kill you both because of your religious beliefs?”  Let me hold up a photo of the baby for you to see as you make your choice. “Yes” or “No.” For a real life version of that “game,” read Chris Dunker’s article.

The Connection?

The rule of law. Or maybe the absence of Haldol.



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