THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 860, February 21, 2016
Republicans have no plan; they have no
program, not even Newt Gingrich's cheesy
Contract with America. If Republicans
lose in November (and we wind up with a
President Sanders), this will be the reason.
Attribute to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise
In December of 2015, a couple of Islamic extremist terrorists murdered fourteen of their friends and co-workers at a Christmas party in San Bernardino, California, and were later killed in a gunfight with authorities. Their smartphones and computers were seized as evidence and are being scrutinized for the identities of their confreres and information concerning any possible plots to carry out more attacks. These are fully appropriate goals for the Federal authorities.
Surprisingly, the FBI has been unable to decrypt the information on the terrorists' iPhone. Accordingly, they have asked Apple to help them bust the treacherous murderers' encryption (I'm sorry, but I will use this opportunity to excoriate those who abuse decent people's kindness, hospitality, and friendship to murder them). This, too, is proper.
Trust the feds, however (or any other government agency for that matter) to start with a reasonable request for assistance and turn it into an assault on people's Fourth and Ninth Amendment rights to privacy and freedom from unreasonable search and seizure. The way the FBI wants Apple to help them is to provide a "back door" that can be used to hack every electronic device that uses Apple's Operating System. (See: here and here.)
The FBI has promised they will only use the back door-equipped i/OS once. Public expressions of skepticism and disbelief have ranged from cold fury to open amusement. Basically, no one trusts the Feebies' word, thus showing that people are nowhere near as dumb as many would expect. There are plenty of people out there explaining why giving the government the back door they are asking for would be a really terrible idea, so I will simply leave that idea for your consideration.
John McAffee, the colorful and storied creator of the famous McAffee Antivirus program (see citation above) has publicly offered to hack the terrorists' iPhone for the investigators in a simple one-off deal.
This would provide the feds with information to bust any terrorists and terrorist plots about which the San Bernadino killers had information on their phone and still leave the Bureau out of everyone else's phone, tablets, etc.: good for civil liberties, good for busting terrorists, bad for wannabe Big Brother. If anyone can do this McAffee and the programmers he's been hiring are the people who can. He only cares abput their capabilities. Mention was made of folks with twenty-four-inch purple Mohawks the FBI wouldn't be caught dead hiring.
McAfee has been characterized as something of an attention craver. Success in this endeavor will look good on his resume, especially as he is running for the Libertarian Party's nomination for President. And this is where things get problematical. On the one hand, he is a successful entrepreneur, and has demonstrated his ability to think about the future. He has shown a commitment to liberty with his offer to the FBI while also showing a degree of patriotism. His ideas are expressed in his campaign platform and many interviews.
They are well in line with libertarian ideals. His comments about President Obama's war on guns are spot-on.
However he is also a person of interest in a murder case in Belize, and is said to be facing drug charges there. He says he was doing research developing antiviral drugs, the government of Belize claims he was cooking meth. He was also busted in Tennessee on DUI (the drug turns out to be Xanax) and packing a gun while "intoxicated".
I'd really love to endorse McAfeee for President based on his accomplishments, sense of life, and ideas. However, the charges against him and some of his comments make me a little hesitant. I would say that if the charges against him in Belize are bogus, as he claims (he says he failed to pay a bureacrat a million-dollar bribe), I would give him a qualified endorsement for President. If he beats the Tennessee charges, which he also challenges, I would give him full support.
Time will tell.
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