On Wednesday, we learned that during a 2017 background check for the former White House staff secretary Rob Porter, his two ex-wives both told the F.B.I. that he had abused them
- His first wife, Colbie Holderness, gave the F.B.I. a photo of her with a black eye, a result, she said, of Porter punching her in the face during a vacation in 2005.
- Porter’s second wife, Jennifer Willoughby, shared a 2010 emergency protective order she’d received after he punched in the glass on her door while they were separated.
.. The White House chief of staff John Kelly reportedly knew about these allegations, which are said to be the reason the F.B.I. never gave Porter a full security clearance,
.. Porter’s past was apparently not considered a problem inside the White House until it became public. This tells us quite a bit about how seriously this administration takes violence against women.
.. Kelly reportedly urged Porter not to resign
.. President Trump’s press secretary Sarah Sanders read a statement from Porter calling his ex-wives’ accounts “simply false” and part of a “coordinated smear campaign.”
.. In what was perhaps a rare outbreak of candor by omission, she didn’t bother with a pro forma statement that the White House condemns domestic violence.
.. “I was exposed to a far wider array of classified and sensitive information in the White House job than as the top lawyer at the National Security Agency,”
.. It’s hard to see why Kelly, who was supposed to be the disciplined adult in this administration, would cover for Porter. Unless, that is, he genuinely couldn’t grasp that domestic violence is a big deal.
.. the abuse charges were the origin of Trump’s derisive nickname for Bannon: “Bam Bam.”
.. Andy Puzder, the former head of Carl’s Jr. and Trump’s first nominee for labor secretary.
.. Trump himself was accused of domestic assault by his first wife, Ivana Trump
.. Hurt wrote that Donald Trump became enraged after scalp reduction surgery left him in pain, and blamed his then-wife, who had recommended the doctor.
.. Hurt describes Trump pinning back Ivana’s arms and ripping out her hair by the handful “as if he is trying to make her feel the same kind of pain that he is feeling.” Then, she told friends, Trump raped her.
.. Willoughby described confiding in a Mormon official about her husband’s fits of rage. She was told to think about how Porter’s career might suffer if she spoke out. Powerful people in Washington seem to have been similarly worried, first and foremost, about protecting the ambitious and pedigreed young man.
.. Senator Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah, and in The Daily Mail, the senator categorically dismissed the accusations and, whether he meant to or not, the women making them.
.. “Shame on any publication that would print this — and shame on the politically motivated, morally bankrupt character assassins that would attempt to sully a man’s good name,” he said.
.. Later, after the black-eye photograph of Holderness was published, Hatch issued a statement saying that domestic violence is “abhorrent.” But after that, he gave an interview in which he said he hoped Porter would “keep a stiff upper lip” and not resign. “If I could find more people like him, I would hire them,” said Hatch
.. It’s not really a surprise that Hatch, who once said that Trump’s presidency could become the greatest ever, would treat serious allegations of abusing women as a personal foible unrelated to one’s professional capabilities. You basically have to see things that way to support Trump in the first place.
Two decades ago, the US intelligence community worked closely with Silicon Valley in an effort to track citizens in cyberspace. And Google is at the heart of that origin story. Some of the research that led to Google’s ambitious creation was funded and coordinated by a research group established by the intelligence community to find ways to track individuals and groups online.
The intelligence community hoped that the nation’s leading computer scientists could take non-classified information and user data, combine it with what would become known as the internet, and begin to create for-profit, commercial enterprises to suit the needs of both the intelligence community and the public. They hoped to direct the supercomputing revolution from the start in order to make sense of what millions of human beings did inside this digital information network. That collaboration has made a comprehensive public-private mass surveillance state possible today.
.. It is a somewhat different creation story than the one the public has heard, and explains what Google cofounders Sergey Brin and Larry Page set out to build, and why.
.. The intelligence community wanted to shape Silicon Valley’s supercomputing efforts at their inception so they would be useful for both military and homeland security purposes. Could this supercomputing network, which would become capable of storing terabytes of information, make intelligent sense of the digital trail that human beings leave behind?
.. the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the National Security Agency (NSA) had come to realize that their future was likely to be profoundly shaped outside the government. It was at a time when military and intelligence budgets within the Clinton administration were in jeopardy, and the private sector had vast resources at their disposal. If the intelligence community wanted to conduct mass surveillance for national security purposes, it would require cooperation between the government and the emerging supercomputing companies.
.. To do this, they began reaching out to the scientists at American universities
.. There was already a long history of collaboration between America’s best scientists and the intelligence community, from the creation of the atomic bomb and satellite technology to efforts to put a man on the moon.
.. Silicon Valley was no different. By the mid 1990s, the intelligence community was seeding funding to the most promising supercomputing efforts across academia, guiding the creation of efforts to make massive amounts of information useful for both the private sector as well as the intelligence community.
They funded these computer scientists through an unclassified, highly compartmentalized program that was managed for the CIA and the NSA by large military and intelligence contractors. It was called the Massive Digital Data Systems (MDDS) project.
.. MDDS was introduced to several dozen leading computer scientists at Stanford, CalTech, MIT, Carnegie Mellon, Harvard, and others in a white paper that described what the CIA, NSA, DARPA, and other agencies hoped to achieve.
.. the program’s stated aim was to provide more than a dozen grants of several million dollars each to advance this research concept. The grants were to be directed largely through the NSF so that the most promising, successful efforts could be captured as intellectual property and form the basis of companies attracting investments from Silicon Valley.
.. Today, the NSF provides nearly 90% of all federal funding for university-based computer-science research.
.. The research arms of the CIA and NSA hoped that the best computer-science minds in academia could identify what they called “birds of a feather:” Just as geese fly together in large V shapes, or flocks of sparrows make sudden movements together in harmony, they predicted that like-minded groups of humans would move together online.
.. Their research aim was to track digital fingerprints inside the rapidly expanding global information network, which was then known as the World Wide Web. Could an entire world of digital information be organized so that the requests humans made inside such a network be tracked and sorted? Could their queries be linked and ranked in order of importance? Could “birds of a feather” be identified inside this sea of information so that communities and groups could be tracked in an organized way?
.. The primary objective of this grant was “query optimization of very complex queries that are described using the ‘query flocks’ approach.” A second grant—the DARPA-NSF grant most closely associated with Google’s origin—was part of a coordinated effort to build a massive digital library using the internet as its backbone.
.. Human beings and like-minded groups who might pose a threat to national security can be uniquely identified online before they do harm. This explains why the intelligence community found Brin’s and Page’s research efforts so appealing
.. The two intelligence-community managers charged with leading the program met regularly with Brin as his research progressed, and he was an author on several other research papers that resulted from this MDDS grant before he and Page left to form Google.
The grants allowed Brin and Page to do their work and contributed to their breakthroughs in web-page ranking and tracking user queries. Brin didn’t work for the intelligence community—or for anyone else. Google had not yet been incorporated. He was just a Stanford researcher taking advantage of the grant provided by the NSA and CIA through the unclassified MDDS program.
.. The MDDS research effort has never been part of Google’s origin story, even though the principal investigator for the MDDS grant specifically named Google as directly resulting from their research: “Its core technology, which allows it to find pages far more accurately than other search engines, was partially supported by this grant,” he wrote. In a published research paper that includes some of Brin’s pivotal work, the authors also reference the NSF grant that was created by the MDDS program.
NSF likewise only references the digital libraries grant, not the MDDS grant as well, in its own history of Google’s origin.
.. But the grant from the intelligence community’s MDDS program—specifically designed for the breakthrough that Google was built upon—has faded into obscurity.
.. Brin’s breakthrough research on page ranking by tracking user queries and linking them to the many searches conducted—essentially identifying “birds of a feather”—was largely the aim of the intelligence community’s MDDS program. And Google succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.
.. most people still don’t understand the degree to which the intelligence community relies on the world’s biggest science and tech companies for its counter-terrorism and national-security work.
.. in the most recent reporting period between 2016 and 2017, local, state and federal government authorities seeking information related to national security, counter-terrorism or criminal concerns issued more than 260,000 subpoenas, court orders, warrants, and other legal requests to Verizon, more than 250,000 such requests to AT&T, and nearly 24,000 subpoenas, search warrants, or court orders to Google.
.. In this way, the collaboration between the intelligence community and big, commercial science and tech companies has been wildly successful. When national security agencies need to identify and track people and groups, they know where to turn – and do so frequently. That was the goal in the beginning. It has succeeded perhaps more than anyone could have imagined at the time.
Under current law, Congress may appropriate no more than $549 billion for defense programs and $516 billion for nondefense programs next year, a cut from current levels.
.. But the Trump administration and defense hawks want to boost defense spending to more than $600 billion, and Democrats are demanding a dollar-for-dollar increase in nondefense spending.
.. Aides from both parties warned that if a spending accord is not reached this week, hopes for the passage of a broad appropriations bill before Christmas would be dim.
.. The GOP tax bill, which is being considered under special procedures that do not require bipartisan cooperation, has made some Democrats increasingly resistant to collaborating with Republicans in any sense.
.. lawmakers also are pushing to deliver tens of billions of dollars in additional federal aid to disaster victims across the country before the year ends
.. Complicating the passage of any spending deal are the highly charged politics of health care and immigration.
.. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program .. giving Congress until March to codify protections for the young immigrants
.. A Jones victory could spell doom for the GOP tax bill if it is not passed into law by the time he would be seated, probably in late December or early January.
.. “If Roy Moore wins and he comes into the Senate in January, there’s going to immediately be an ethics investigation, which is going to be a cloud . . . and is going to be a distraction for us and our agenda,” Thune said
.. The Children’s Health Insurance Program expired Sept. 30
.. While states have been able to continue their programs using surplus funds, at least five states say they will inform families that their coverage is in jeopardy and begin winding down their programs if Congress does not act in coming weeks.
.. A federal law that allows intelligence agencies to gather foreign electronic communications on U.S. soil will expire Dec. 31,
A reliable, large-scale quantum computer could transform industries from AI to chemistry, accelerating machine learning and engineering new materials, chemicals and drugs.
.. “People ask, ‘Well, is it a thousand times faster? Is it a million times faster?’ It all depends on the application. It could do things in a minute that we don’t know how to do classically in the age of the universe. For other types of tests, a quantum computer probably helps you only modestly or, in some cases, not at all.”
.. Qubits, on the other hand, are like coins spinning through the air in a coin toss, showing both sides at once.
.. The computing power of a data center stretching several city blocks could theoretically be achieved by a quantum chip the size of the period at the end of this sentence.
.. Unlike classical computers, quantum computers don’t test all possible solutions to a problem. Instead, they use algorithms to cancel out paths leading to wrong answers, leaving only paths to the right answer—and those algorithms work only for certain problems. This makes quantum computers unsuited for everyday tasks like surfing the web
.. Quantum computers are also subject to high error rates, which has led some scientists and mathematicians to question their viability. Google and other companies say the solution is error-correction algorithms, but those algorithms require additional qubits to check the work of the qubits running computations. Some experts estimate that checking the work of a single qubit will require an additional 100.
.. Richard Feynman, a Nobel Prize-winning theoretical physicist, put it this way: “I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics.”
.. investment has surged, with projects under way at Google, Microsoft, IBM and Intel
.. D-Wave .. the company’s $15 million 2000Q model is useful only for a narrow category of data analysis
.. Companies and governments are scrambling to prepare for what some call Y2Q, the year a large-scale, accurate quantum computer arrives, which some experts peg at roughly 2026
.. Documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden in 2013 showed that the NSA is building its own quantum computer as part of an $80 million research program called Penetrating Hard Targets
.. Experts believe their biggest near-term promise is to supercharge machine learning and AI, two rapidly growing fields—and businesses. Neven of Google says he expects all machine learning to be running on quantum computers within the decade.
.. In May, IBM unveiled a chip with 16 qubits
.. John Martinis, Google’s head of quantum hardware, in which he let slip that Google had a 22-qubit chip.
.. “If you were to vibrate this frame, you can actually see the temperature rise on the thermometer,
.. Neven’s team in Southern California is racing to finish the 49-qubit chip
The Israeli officials who had hacked into Kaspersky’s own network alerted the United States to the broad Russian intrusion, which has not been previously reported, leading to a decision just last month to order Kaspersky software removed from government computers.
.. More than 60 percent, or $374 million, of the company’s $633 million in annual sales come from customers in the United States and Western Europe.
.. “Antivirus is the ultimate back door,” Blake Darché, a former N.S.A. operator and co-founder of Area 1 Security. “It provides consistent, reliable and remote access that can be used for any purpose, from launching a destructive attack to conducting espionage on thousands or even millions of users.”
.. Kaspersky reported that its attackers had used the same algorithm and some of the same code as Duqu, but noted that in many ways it was even more sophisticated. So the company researchers named the new attack Duqu 2.0, noting that other victims of the attack were prime Israeli targets.
.. Kaspersky uncovered were hotels and conference venues used for closed-door meetings by members of the United Nations Security Council to negotiate the terms of the Iran nuclear deal — negotiations from which Israel was excluded.
.. Kaspersky noted that its attackers seemed primarily interested in the company’s work on nation-state attacks, particularly Kaspersky’s work on the “Equation Group” — its private industry term for the N.S.A. — and the “Regin” campaign, another industry term for a hacking unit inside the United Kingdom’s intelligence agency
.. It is not clear whether, or to what degree, Eugene V. Kaspersky, the founder of Kaspersky Lab, and other company employees have been complicit in the hacking using their products.
.. Mr. Kaspersky, who attended an intelligence institute and served in Russia’s Ministry of Defense, would have few illusions about the cost of refusing a Kremlin request.
Hackers working for the Russian government stole details of how the U.S. penetrates foreign computer networks and defends against cyberattacks after a National Security Agency contractor removed the highly classified material and put it on his home computer, according to multiple people with knowledge of the matter.
.. The Kaspersky incident is the third publicly known breach at the NSA involving a contractor’s access to a huge trove of highly classified materials. It prompted an official letter of reprimand to the agency’s director, Adm. Michael Rogers, by his superiors, people familiar with the situation said... Kaspersky software once was authorized for use by nearly two dozen U.S. government agencies, including the Army, Navy and Air Force, and the departments of Defense, State, Homeland Security, Energy, Veterans Affairs, Justice and Treasury... For years, U.S. national security officials have suspected that Kaspersky Lab, founded by a computer scientist who was trained at a KGB-sponsored technical school, is a proxy of the Russian government, which under Russian law can compel the company’s assistance in intercepting communications as they move through Russian computer networks... All antivirus software scans computers looking for malicious code, comparing what is on the machine to a master list housed at the software company. But that scanning also gives makers of the software an inventory of what is on the computer, experts say.
.. Kaspersky is “aggressive” in its methods of hunting for malware, Mr. Darché said, “in that they will make copies of files on a computer, anything that they think is interesting.” He said the product’s user license agreement, which few customers probably read, allows this.
.. “You’re basically surrendering your right to privacy by using Kaspersky software,
NSA officials say Jared Kushner’s use of personal email likely made him a target of foreign intelligence services.
The National Security Agency warned top Trump administration officials in a series of classified briefings that using their personal cell phones and emails could make them vulnerable to espionage by America’s adversaries, according to a new report.
The briefings, which took place shortly after Donald Trump’s January 2016 inauguration, specifically named Jared Kushner as a top target for foreign intelligence services.
“Jared is probably one of the top five or 10 targets in the U.S. government because of his access to the president and because of the portfolios he’s been given,” Richard Clarke, a former top cybersecurity adviser to three presidents, told Politico.
.. Despite the warnings, Kushner, along with other top White House aides, continued to use their personal devices and email accounts for official government communication.
Kushner’s unique role as the president’s “point-man” on foreign policy in places like China, Syria, Afghanistan and the Middle East, as well as on a range of domestic issues, makes him particularly vulnerable to foreign espionage, said Clarke.
“It’s a pretty safe bet that his personal devices have been compromised by foreign intelligence services,” Clarke said. “And, therefore, there is some risk that meetings he attends are compromised, too.”
.. According to Politico, Kushner and his wife Ivanka Trump created a private family email domain before Trump took office in January. Kushner reportedly communicated with key White House officials using the account from January through August of this year.