Classifying Elections as "Critical Infrastructure"

I am co-author on a paper discussing whether elections be classified as “critical infrastructure” in the US, based on experiences in other countries:

Abstract: With the Russian government hack of the Democratic National Convention email servers, and further leaks expected over the coming months that could influence an election, the drama of the 2016 U.S. presidential race highlights an important point: Nefarious hackers do not just pose a risk to vulnerable companies, cyber attacks can potentially impact the trajectory of democracies. Yet, to date, a consensus has not been reached as to the desirability and feasibility of reclassifying elections, in particular voting machines, as critical infrastructure due in part to the long history of local and state control of voting procedures. This Article takes on the debate in the U.S. using the 2016 elections as a case study but puts the issue in a global context with in-depth case studies from South Africa, Estonia, Brazil, Germany, and India. Governance best practices are analyzed by reviewing these differing approaches to securing elections, including the extent to which trend lines are converging or diverging. This investigation will, in turn, help inform ongoing minilateral efforts at cybersecurity norm building in the critical infrastructure context, which are considered here for the first time in the literature through the lens of polycentric governance.

The paper was speculative, but now it’s official. The U.S. election has been classified as critical infrastructure. I am tentatively in favor of this, but what really matter is what happens now. What does this mean? What sorts of increased security will election systems get? Will we finally get rid of computerized touch-screen voting?

EDITED TO ADD (1/16): This is a good article.

Posted on January 10, 2017 at 6:02 AM105 Comments


Mike S. January 10, 2017 6:28 AM

No, elections should not be classified as critical infrastructure. Do we really want the same people that gave us the TSA involved in our elections?

Peter Knoppers January 10, 2017 7:07 AM

@Mike S.: The fact that the US does not adequately handle some critical infrastructure should not prevent classifying more infrastructure as critical.
Not all “critical infrastructure” is necessarily handled by the same idiots.

Ion January 10, 2017 7:19 AM

Of course it will be marked as critical infrastructure. Than the administration will be able to pay ten times the same amounts as today, which is a lot more than the paper ballot, and say how they are some sort of paladins, protectors of the holy election booth. Than a new bureaucratic service without oversight, in the style of TSA, will be built from scratch with big mouthed politicians as the chiefs and untrained personnel. They too will have minimal oversight. And elections will become even more national security. So the next time a Podesta clicks the wrong email nobody will be able to talk about it, as it affects national security. The systems will be even less secure than today, but only incompetents will be able to audit them and only after a big scandal. Finally, as with the passports, people will have to have some new card sized chip wielding gadget that will also come from the taxpayer money. They keys and serial numbers will be found on many foreign forums, but remember? It is crticical infrastructure, so no, you can’t talk about it and it is too late to change anything because the elections are near.

r January 10, 2017 7:35 AM

As for the baltic nazi’s,

Who nurtured that environment?

Who’s public policies of re-education failed?

r January 10, 2017 7:37 AM

Maybe you, just like us should focus on yourself rather than destabilizing every other society out there that might have something to contribute.

A chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link.

cphinx January 10, 2017 8:26 AM

I don’t really have anything good to say about this one. But I suppose that whoever is going to be responsible for the “protection” of this new critical asset should take note of Krebs Immutable Truths about Data Breaches”.

Is the voting machine going to be one of the last “true air-gapped” systems along with a select few in the nuclear realm?

Can we take pride in the elections system enough to not let big data and instant access to information control our posture?


helices January 10, 2017 8:43 AM

Elections for federal offices are NOT under the jurisdiction of the federal government. They are under the jurisdiction of and wholly owned by the states.

Jillian England January 10, 2017 8:46 AM

More security theatre?
Violation of State rights (10 th ammendment)?

It seems that the failure points were DNC immoral actions and doxing of very embarrassing collusion to eject Sanders.

Centralizing control in fed only establishes a single point of failure.

Less federal control/restriction of encryption tech and more local control of elections with better auditing is warranted.

Finally use of email by politicians should be deprecated.

Jared Hall January 10, 2017 8:48 AM

Critical Infrastructure is supposed to be the minimum elements that humankind needs to sustain civilization. To determine what that is, I use the Zombie Apocolypse (ZA) test. In the event of ZA, do you need: Food/Water? Check. The ability to communicate? Check. To maintain Law and Order/C&C (Command and Control)? Check. The ability to move around/transportation? Check. To trade goods and services/money? Check. Suitable shelter/environment? Check. Waste Management/reclamation? Check. Community Defense? Check. To repair thyself/Healthcare? Check. To defend yourself/defense? Check. That is pretty much it. Yes, you can learn a lot from a Zombie.

Do you need Nuclear plants? No. Do you need chemical plants? No. Do you need manufacturing plants? No. Do you need dams? No. Do you need government facilities? No. Do you need an electrical grid? No. Do you need Facebook? No.

Every administration continually expands this; President Bush in 2003 and President Obama again in 2013. The distinction here is that there is a difference between what is actually NEEDED, and what Government WANTS to protect. Most of the stuff that’s been added to the list merely contributes to the basic tenants outlined in my first paragraph. Left unchecked, the Government will protect the Silver Spoon industry from which we will consume their crap. That said, to address your question, do you need voter fraud protection? No.

I am Jared, and I know Zombies.

chuckb January 10, 2017 8:48 AM

Beyond the predictable inane knee jerk comment above by the RU troll assigned to defend against any intimation of Trump’s illegitimacy, it remains to be determined what the designation could mean beyond arm waving before and hand wringing after the next time it occurs.

parabarbarian January 10, 2017 9:02 AM

I suspect the first thing to arise from this classification is government control of the “alternate” (or opposition) media. We will have our own Ministry of Truth.

Chelloveck January 10, 2017 9:26 AM

“Will we finally get rid of computerized touch-screen voting?” Are you kidding me? That’s the technology that’s going to save us from election fraud! Any fool can stuff paper ballots into an election box. We need all this fancy computer tech to protect us from that!

(I’m trying to be sarcastic, but deep in my heart I know that’s how it’ll be sold. sigh)

Jeremy January 10, 2017 10:03 AM

Wait, so election infrastructure wasn’t already critical?

Had it previously fallen through a gap in scoping, or had it been taken for granted, or was Democracy just not previously regarded as important?

Slime Mold with Mustard January 10, 2017 10:12 AM

For non-US persons: The current system is that each state makes its own election laws (subject only to federal civil rights protections). However, the actual administration is handled at the county level. This patch work is pretty hard to hack . Each voting location has volunteers from each party, and observers from specific campaigns and the county wander from place to place checking seals, procedures, etc. Unless touch screens are used, you would need scores of conspirators to deliver enough count fraud to swing an already close state.

@Jillian England above is right. DHS is setting us up for a single point of failure (or fraud).

Clive Robinson January 10, 2017 10:27 AM

If it becomes “critical infrastructure” a few quite nasty things happen.

Firstly consider that only those with secret or above clearence will be able to setup and operate the equipment. So those volunteers who currently man and run voting syations will become a thing of the past. You will have “security professionals” from the IC instead, who’s entire livelyhood will depend on them not “rocking the boat” as we have seen with other parts of the IC.

Further faux auditing will become maximal, thus within a short time interval voter anonymity with regards actuall vote cast will cease to exist.

The ability to get a voter card will depemd on background checks etc which will further disenfranchise the poor and those not WMC college educated etc.

We know this is going to happen because we have seen it all befor, and the particular leopard running thos game is not going to change his spots…

Then of course there will be the question of censorship arising, where only Govenmemt approved news outlets will be able to make comment, thus “free speech” will cease to be allowed etc. Perhaps you could get the well known Marxist Robert Magube to advise on censorship, he appears to be well versed in it.

hoodathunkit January 10, 2017 10:51 AM

Elections as “critical infrastructure” means political parties become “critical infrastructure”. It is not a slippery slope argument, it is a direct conclusion of the paper.
Re-stated: the Establishment becomes permanent; something the voters rejected just this year.

What a load …. and where to start ….
1) There is no American election, there are fifty-plus elections. See: United States of America.
2) Bias much? Your sponsor, the “Hewlett Foundation awards grants to a variety of liberal and progressive causes.” –Wiki
3) StupidFox.Guard.Chickens. Georgia Secretary of State says computers traced to DHS tried to hack Georgia’s voter database. DHS says It was an innocent web inquiry from it’s Brunswick facility, but the computer was misconfigured.
4) Bias much? Co-author Michael Sulmeyer, forgot to list his position as the Clinton campaign’s Cybersecurity Working Group Coordinator.
5) StupidFox.Guard.Chickens. DHS can’t secure their own computers –Vice

“Elections serve two purposes. First, and most obvious, they are how we choose a winner. But second, and equally important, they convince the loser ­- and all the supporters ­- that he or she lost.” -Bruce Schneier, NYT

Written to support Jill Stein’s recounts; the votes are now verified accurate. Accept the vote, accept your own advice, stop fighting tooth-and-nail against “enabling the trust that society needs to thrive”.

BadIdeaMan January 10, 2017 11:11 AM

Having worked in the “critical infrastructure” arena, this is a bad idea.

At the very least, it does nothing to solve the problem this is presumably going to solve: politicians illegally using badly unsecured E-Mail servers to avoid FOIA.

There was no “hack” of voting infrastructure, and any plan to tighten regulations on state controlled process is going to make a mess. Costs will skyrocket, implementation will be glacial, processes will be stuck at what a policy says is good, not what state & local officials know works reliably.

Orthoept January 10, 2017 12:07 PM

“With the Russian government hack of the Democratic National Convention email servers….”

It was the Democratic National Committee, not Convention.

Tatütata January 10, 2017 12:21 PM

What is Critical Infrastructure?

Straight from the paper:

What constitutes “critical infrastructure” (CI) is often in the eye of the beholder; compared to the sixteen CI sectors in the U.S., for example, the European Union recognizes eleven. Even within the United States, it cannot actually be said that the federal government has a single definition of what constitutes CI in all cases, to say nothing of how it should be secured.

The paper was submitted while the 2016 train wreck of campaign was still going on. I don’t know whether the authors intended it to be topical, but I don’t perceive its timing to be particularly well chosen.

The integrity and fairness of the general US Electoral process has much more fundamental problems than whether your technical doodads properly tally the votes expressed, as a few other readers have pointed out.

A call for designating voting “infrastructure” as “critical” is an invitation to use it as the necessary excuse for setting up a power grab. I was going to write “Machtergreifung” (Godwin alert!), but a better reference would be Curzio Malaparte‘s 1931 “Technique du coup d’état”, where the seizing of power is presented as a technical rather than a political act.

And such “CI” designations are essentially worthless. What did such a label to prevent Deepwater Horizon from blowing up? And what resources would actually be invested by the people who prepare to essentially hand over the Federal government to corporate interests? That wouldn’t exactly go their way, ain’t it?

cphinx January 10, 2017 12:22 PM

@Reddy Kilowatt

According to the Department of Homeland Security:

“There are 16 critical infrastructure sectors whose assets, systems, and networks, whether physical or virtual, are considered so vital to the United States that their incapacitation or destruction would have a debilitating effect on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination thereof.”


blockquote>Presidential Policy Directive 21 (PPD-21): Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience advances a national policy to strengthen and maintain secure, functioning, and resilient critical infrastructure. This directive supersedes Homeland Security Presidential Directive 7

Although I don’t think you asked that question literally… Classifying voting machines as “so vital ot the United States that their incapacitation or destruction would have a debilitating effect on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination thereof” seems a bit silly.

As Slime Mold with Mustard mentioned… you would have to hack at least a few key states voting systems, in their entirety, in order to produce surmountable results on the election.

Going back to Risk Management basics, I’m not sure that the risk presented to each individual voting machine would justify the amount of resources required to secure the entire system.

rick January 10, 2017 12:25 PM

How can private offices be covered? This stuff implies the false narrative that election systems were hacked.
No, a private organization with security so lax that they didn’t even have 2fa for logins was phished.

tristes_tigres January 10, 2017 12:57 PM

How about some evidence a) that those Russian hacks did actually happen, b) they, and not a disgruntled insider, gave data to Wikileaks and c) if (a) and (b) are even true, publishing evidence of machinations by DNC is bad for the USA democracy?

lgw January 10, 2017 1:22 PM

“Will we finally get rid of computerized touch-screen voting?”

There’s nothing at all wrong with computerized touch-screen voting. It helps people with some disabilities to vote – it’s a Good Thing(tm). But those computerized touch-screen kiosks should print a paper ballot, which is then cast normally. You’d likely get fewer spoiled ballots that way, as well.

I’m surprised and disappointed that Bruce conflates the helpful UI with the problematic back-end.

tz January 10, 2017 1:37 PM

The devil is in the details.

In Detroit where 300 voted for 90%+ for Clinton, at least the machine counted that, there were only 50 paper ballots in the sealed box, but according to the law, the 300 original machine tally stands.

  1. Insure that only qualified voters (e.g. Citizens, old enough, non-felons, etc.) vote. This is not a minor point, in 2012, based on surveys it was projected 2.8 million non-citizens voted, so Trump’s tweet has merit.

  2. Have an audit-able record so a paper ballot in the box (or if they are missing) can be verified and detected – there are usually voter rolls saying who voted in sequence. If an extra paper ballot (maybe spoiled or an error so needed a redo) shows up we need to know whether to count it.

  3. Have real penalties for voter fraud or election workers stuffing the ballot boxes or the rest. Even if banning them from being election workers like in Detroit.

hoodathunkit January 10, 2017 2:10 PM

No, a private organization with security so lax that they didn’t even have 2fa for logins was phished.

…. being ungracious, I’d point out that Schneier’s co-author was the one responsible for that lack of security:
Michael Sulmeyer; Harvard University – Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs is also the same
Michael Sulmeyer, the Clinton campaign’s Cybersecurity Working Group Coordinator

Ted January 10, 2017 2:25 PM

From the paper’s summary:

“Of the countries studies, two have returned to paper ballots after experimenting with voting machines (Germany and Brazil).”

“Brazil reverting to paper votes amid budget crisis.”

“Electronic Voting Banned in Germany”

From Mr. Schneier:

“Will we finally get rid of computerized touch-screen voting?”

According to Andrew Appel, there are still 10 states that primarily use touchscreen voting machines, but that provide no paper ballot for an audit or recount. He writes that in 2002 Congress outlawed punch-card ballots, and suggests that Congress eliminates “Direct-Recording Electronic, that is, “touchscreen” voting machines, immediately after this November’s election.”

From the “Written testimony of Andrew W. Appel House Subcommittee on Information Technology hearing on “Cybersecurity: Ensuring the Integrity of the Ballot Box” September 28, 2016 (also cited in the paper)

vas pup January 10, 2017 2:42 PM

helices • January 10, 2017 8:43 AM

“Elections for federal offices are NOT under the jurisdiction of the federal government. They are under the jurisdiction of and wholly owned by the states.”

May I ask helices and all other respected bloggers:
Should we have at least unified federal guidelines and/or requirements for States since that is basically federal election. That will not eliminate States jurisdiction on election but provide at least kind of general base line (minimum requirements)? Any logical input highly appreciated.

Regardless, not all elements of critical infrastructure “created equal” – the do have their own level of importance. If Hover Damn failed is kind of different impact than hacking DNC server – just opinion.

Degeneration into meaningless January 10, 2017 3:00 PM

What this means is what meant when the word “classified” was overused: it will become meaningless.

That’s the problem when a word or concept becomes overused. Overtime, the word/concept loses its original meaning and becomes meaningless.

We see that everywhere. On a totally different topic for example, being an A student today is very different from being an A student 40 years ago because of grade inflation.

Obama should to the country a favor and stop his childish temper tantrum now.

vas pup January 10, 2017 3:08 PM

@Degeneration into meaningless:
Can we stop moving to “Idiocracy” by inflation of grades? What is the remedy?

Looks like President-elect knows this quote:
“The secret of politics? Make a good treaty with Russia. (Otto von Bismarck)”. It is important to stop zero-sum politics with some other members of UN Security Council per this quote as well.

albert January 10, 2017 3:11 PM

Let’s see. We have:

“Attributing the DNC Hacks to Russia”, by Bruce

and now:

“Classifying Elections as “Critical Infrastructure””, by Bruce

What’s next? Will hacking a political party become a Federal Offense? Will the Feds arrest all Russian nationals? More Russian sanctions? More military buildups on the Russian border?

The more rational commenters have patiently explained how the voting system works. Does it make sense to Federalize it? You all know that hacking can’t be eliminated, so what’s the point?

  1. More money for the pseudo-security companies?
  2. The ability of the Feds to -completely control- the elections?

There’s a lesson to be learned here. Political/financial system in this country has totally abandoned the vast majority of its citizens. We’ve run out of band-aids. Real solutions, though known and obvious, are impossible.

Pseudo-liberal academics who they’re ‘well informed’ because they watch NPR & CNN, and read the NYT and the WAPO, might want to reconsider looking down their noses at the folks who only follow Kim Kardashian, fashion, entertainment, sports, and even reality shows.

Guys, it’s just politics. Give us a break, and at least try to explain why this stuff is do -damned important-.

. .. . .. — ….

Get Out The Goat January 10, 2017 3:14 PM

How each individual State comes up with its electors is none of the Federal government’s business. In our Republic, there is not even a Constitutional right for citizens to vote unless and until such a right is granted by a State. As an extreme example, if a State decided to roll dice to determine its electors, ideally there should be nothing the Feds can do about it.

Of course the Feds might have good technical advice on cybersecurity, but it should remain that – only advice – to be voluntarily considered or adopted by States. The Feds might have bad advice too.

But it’s about more than just quality of advice. It is about authority. Producing electors is the States’ business.

The direction of the flow of information and real control should be upward from the level of the State to the Federal.

Putting Feds in control of election infrastructure and having some control starting to come from the top down would thus be an invitation for trouble.

Elections are all about politics so this is one place the Feds should not be trusted as a matter of principle. Even if the Feds are genuinely trustworthy today, the conflict of interest would someday prove too great a temptation for highly partisan actors with authority over the system.

Degeneration into meaningless January 10, 2017 3:49 PM

@vas pup

The movement towards “idiocracy” is not going to happen. It was the worry of “Anglo-saxons” 100 years ago that America could become a country of idiots that triggered the eugenics catastrophe. Charles Davenport noticed at the turn of the XIX-th century that the pesky immigrants of Irish and Italian descent were having more children than the “pure Anglo-saxons” like himself. He, and his followers, proposed the sterilization of the undesirables to avoid an “idiocracy” catastrophe.

Fast forward 100 years and not only the “idiocracy” didn’t happen, but the descendants of those Italian and Irish immigrants are indistinguishable from other whites: there are top notch people and losers. Most of these Italian and Irish Americans are now middle class.

In fact, it is very easy to show that the racism of the eugenics movement had nothing to do with fear of “idiocracy”. Jews were discriminated against back then the same way Asian Americans are discriminated now: high achievement alone doesn’t guarantee an admissions ticket or a job offer at America’s most prestigious universities and companies.

A professor at a very top notch university once told me that he had noticed that genes do not account for genius. He was a tenured professor who had achieved the highest honors anybody in his field could. Still, none of his children had come anywhere near him in terms of achievements. He said he had noticed the same among his colleagues with their respective children with few exceptions.

At the end of the day, reversion to the mean will make the brainpower of our society as a whole only marginally different from what it was 100 years ago.

Degeneration into meaningless January 10, 2017 3:56 PM


You have to give Donald Trump credit for many things even before he has been sworn in as president,

  • He got rid of the Bush dynasty

  • He got rid of the Clinton dynasty

  • He exposed that the mainstream media, including Fox News, have been publishing “Fake News” for a long time

  • And he finally exposed that for all his pomposity and “expert” appeal, Bruce is just a Democratic partisan hack who doesn’t have much interest in the technical aspects of computer security when “his people” are out of the federal government.

Sancho_P January 10, 2017 5:53 PM

No, it’s not critical infrastructure.

The top candidates are the top of the top of the countries’ society.
Each of the candidates has the best intention and ability to lead the country.
(Sorry for the US if their top were Hillary and Donald w/o alternatives.)

Now here they where equally up, 50%, within 10% margin.
So it doesn’t matter who of both is U.S. President, it’s a tragedy anyway.

The US are the elephant in the room.
Shouldn’t the china have a say in your elections, at least a small one?

Both, Putin and Trump are right: Better to deal than to shoot.
This is critical.

Anselm January 10, 2017 6:10 PM

Here in Germany, our advantage is that we usually get to vote for one thing at a time (federal parliament, state parliament, county/city parliament, EU parliament, etc.). This makes paper ballots quite manageable since there will be one ballot per voter, even though that ballot may be 1m² in area in the case of some municipal parliaments where you can vote for or against individual candidates for 100 seats.

The reason why Americans like their computerised voting machines is that on one single day they vote for everything from POTUS down to municipal dog catcher. That can get quite confusing with paper ballots because there are so many simultaneous but independent races.

r January 10, 2017 6:10 PM


I think the CIA is in charge of democracy but their hands are tied in the homeland, har har har. 😉

@I know Zombies,

Good breakdown.

Jared Hall January 10, 2017 6:15 PM

@albert: It is important. If you are of independent mind, consider that we might have a Manchurian Candidate; if not by implant, then by marriage to a Communist. Security isn’t partisan.

r January 10, 2017 6:25 PM


The chinese do have a say in our election, the chinese people – but none of their voices make it past the GFW – that’s not our fault.

It’s the same extension as do the Iraqi people have a small say in our election?

YES, we invade.

Sometimes we defend.

Information and truth yearn to be free, when it can’t be damage ensues.

r January 10, 2017 6:33 PM

Actually, let’s add to that.

The problem with any idea promulgated as election bait is that with enough stratification the post-election results of the change become encumbered. We see this in Obama Care and other things like the Iraq war, even if you win by 70% of the voting public the 30% that voted against you are already motivated parties.

So whatever say has been said is lost to handouts vetoes and filibuster.

r January 10, 2017 6:39 PM


I don’t completely advocate banning felons, there are certain members of society who are without hope and just trying to feed their kids.

They are victims to a point and we need to realize that.

Aaron Swartz commited suicide in the face of such a hardline position.

For what?

To be a martyr?

r January 10, 2017 6:43 PM

If I can sell a $20 bag of weed an hour at a $5 markup then I am effectively making minimum wage. Alot of people don’t stop there, they sell ounches and pounds or some of them unfortunately diversify into other areas like weapons and cocaine.

There are lines that need to be drawn yes, but not at the existing archaic ones.

Some of these people want to work, some of them do – other felons are white collar criminals and they’re never found out or never apprehended – how is it fair to lock somebody up and disqualify them from having a say in a government that is imprisoning them when people who embezzle get a slap on the wrist and a fine?

Money must make everything OKAY.

Dirk Praet January 10, 2017 6:55 PM

I’m not really sure what’s to protect. If the result of an election is the rise to power of a lying baboon with zero political experience, the demeanor of a mafia boss surrounding himself with a politburo of undead billionaires AND who has lost the popular vote by about 3 million, then the only sane conclusion can be that the entire process is up for some serious revision, not a designation as critical infrastructure. You guys are the gddmn Unites States of America. Now start acting like it!

Nick P January 10, 2017 7:35 PM

@ Dirk Praet

“You guys are the gddmn Unites States of America. Now start acting like it!”

Maybe you missed the recent event where they did with no pretenses they had in times before. It was so much more honest to me. 😉

Ratio January 10, 2017 8:23 PM

@Dirk Praet,

If the result of an election is the rise to power of […] AND who has lost the popular vote […], then the only sane conclusion can be that the entire process is up for some serious revision, […]

The process should be revised because the wrong candidate won and the wrong metric was used to determine the winner?

Ivan Durakov January 10, 2017 9:05 PM

Is there anything else Jeh Johnson would like to declare himself to be in charge of before he leaves office?

Joe Stalin January 10, 2017 9:22 PM

Ion and Clive have the gist of it: a TSA type of domestic population control choosing the election results for us in top secrecy, complete with the equivalent of underwearless naked pix,removing shoes, groping searches.

Instead take a look at how we do “election critical infrastructure” in other countries:

–Massively finance a candidate.(Yeltsin RU, Sweet Mickey Haiti,Colour Revolutions)
–Assassinations, then let the “election” choose our pre-selected choices.
–Set up a rebellion with weapons, finance (ISIS,AQ,Taliban,Ukraine).
–Arrange a coup with domestic military
–Financial and/or physical blockade.
–Arrange a coup/invasion with a proxy country military (Yemen)
–Arrange(finance,etc) a legal coup with courts or parliamentary body (Brazil, Paraguay) outlawing parties or removing leaders.
–Drug trade (Mex. Columbia,Bolivia,SE Asia)
–Plain old bombing.
–Plain old bomb and invade.
–Combinations of the above.

How did the Rooskies supposedly hack our elections? “Fake news”,i.e.leaks of the truth and the Orthodox version of Radio Free Europe(RT). We are such delicate flowers that we must now lie down on the Critical Infrastructure Fainting Couch.

So the usual foreign manipulation of leadership seems to not have too much to do with the “Critical Infrastructure” as described by Bruce. The local politicos are already having a grand time suppressing votes, manipulating counts, rules, election laws, gerrymandering. Will they let the Feds mess with US Constitutional state control of elections? It would be a deep state take over on a national scale wrapped in a TOP SECRET flag and certainly would have “regime change” in many states, probably not an improvement especially if we control that “Fake News” like Watergate, Pentagon Papers, Snowden, Wikileaks.

I for one welcome our new Electoral Critical Infrastructure Security Overlords as I will no longer have to choose between Tweedlevil and Tweedleviler at any gov level.

Mike Barno January 10, 2017 10:17 PM

@ albert,

Guys, it’s just politics. Give us a break, and at least try to explain why this stuff is do -damned important-.

Intercontinental ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads. Strategic bombers with guided nuclear bombs. Ship-launched and sub-launched cruise missiles. Reaper drones, lethally armed. Research stockpiles of chemical weapons, research labs of biological weapons.

Without “Peace on earth, Good will toward all,” you can have no reality TV shows, no verified voting systems, no Constitution, no life nor liberty.

If the people in charge of war and peace mess up, that’s the only thing that will be important, and it will be too late to press Undo.

tyr January 11, 2017 12:42 AM

@vas pup

Before you buy that revision of history take
a good look at ‘the Underground History of
American Education’ by John Taylor Gatto.

You don’t have to believe the ‘idiocracy’ is
not around you but it worth tracking down the
sources Gatto cites and comparing it to your
own experiences.

To me the word infrastructure should only be
applied to physical objects. There may be a
few critical needs to revise the seedy ward-heelers
and grifters who are hangers on of political parties
but I don’t consider them to be infrastructure.

The Orwellian nature of a department of election
results control seems a less than noble idea.

If you want a fix for the current system, it is
easy to do. Corporations being persons only get
one vote which they have to use wisely. No one
who works for a corporation is allowed to vote.
That takes out the excessive influence we currently
see with a few lines of law. There’s no way to
fix the ‘people we disagree with are allowed to
vote’ problem.

Rodney January 11, 2017 1:09 AM

If the voting machines aren’t running on Free Open Source Software then I don’t trust them. If the source code isn’t auditable by everyone then it’s impossible to know how it’s counting votes or how secure it is.

Free as in freedom, not free as in free beer.

Anselm January 11, 2017 3:07 AM

“Auditable by everyone” in practice means “auditable by everyone who happens to be familiar with the programming language and operating system used”, which is not the same thing.

Additionally, even if you have audited the open-source voting machine code, how are you going to ensure that the code that you have audited is actually the code that is running on the machine you’re using to cast your vote?

The nice thing about paper ballots is that it doesn’t take expert knowledge in a highly technical subject to figure out how paper ballots work.

Dan Wiebe January 11, 2017 5:40 AM


I too thought it would be a good idea to have open source software on voting machines, but I couldn’t come up with a way for ordinary voters to ensure that the software that was handling their vote was the same open-source software they were told it was. Can you? It’s not trivial, because the government has physical control of the voting machines.

Perhaps a better way would be to ignore the specifics of the software, but make its behavior verifiable. For example, if every registered voter had an anonymous but unique ID, then the government could publish a database containing all the votes hours after the polls closed, and you could download the database and run your own reports on it, finding your own ballot by ID and making sure it was what you voted.

To make sure the box wasn’t stuffed, each poll might have a big “Now Serving” sign on its wall that incremented every time a ballot was cast, so independent watchers could see it; then people would know if the tally of votes from a particular precinct was greater than it should be.

At the moment, though, this is illegal.

Slime Mold with Mustard January 11, 2017 9:19 AM

@ Dan Wiebe
Actually, we have a rough equivalent, for those who understand the system. There are counters on the optical character readers, and the judges keep tallies on a white board as they rip out slips and send people to get ballots. I’ve been a poll watcher.

@ r

Re: White Collar Crime
Of course, your speaking to the 5% of white collar criminals ever prosecuted. For 25 years (until Jan 1, 2017) I was the Internal Auditor (and CSO) at an auditing firm. I have seen nearly a thousand cases of provable, substantive fraud, and about a dozen prosecuted. I pushed.

Reasons Given:
1. “We can’t have our name dragged through the mud like that”.
2. “We can spend time and more money, but still not make a recovery”.
3. “That was a clients’ money. I only stand to lose here “(logical – immoral, but logical).
4. “Water under the bridge, just fix it so it can’t happen again”.

I often get the feeling there is an unspoken reason – “Glad you didn’t look at my stuff”.

So if you wonder why the office towers are warrens of thieves, there ya go.

vas pup January 11, 2017 9:25 AM

@Degeneration into meaningless and @tyr:
When I was talking about “Idiocracy” it was about comedy movie which clear shows what is the future of society with no appreciation of brain power of its citizens. I’ll recommend you to see this movie for better understanding of my point which is:
– the main asset of any country is combined brain power of its population;
– society should cherish scientist(natural science first: math, physics, chemistry, biology you name it) /technological gurus MORE than sports and Hollywood celebrities, because former move all of us forward (regardless of demographics and other particularities). Thank you Google/Facebook for Annual Break Through award, but that should be started from kindergarten and by Government as well. Then, you may support that Government provide free tuition education for STEM related professions, medicine-psychiatry in particular due to shortage of those professionals and who qualified based on measurable merits, not other factors(like that ‘holistic’ BS for selection). We do have enough lawyers, investment bankers. So, in those fields (and some other like civics) for your money – your own caprice.
– Irish and Italians, Polish folks wanted to integrate into society, not create special bubbles for their community: they accepted English as the language, work hard, not attempt to put others their national customs OUTSIDE their homes trying to change cultural substance of the country.
I don’t think it is good when any demographic dominates particular profession (in past Irish – police, currently Asians – IT, etc.).
Diversity should be based on moving country to the first three places in the world on math and STEM education. That will made country resilient for 21st century challenges.

r January 11, 2017 10:28 AM

@vas pup,

Wait a second, the arts are important too they inspire people to think, maybe not all actors/actresses but writers special effects artists and set designers are all a part of hollywood and should be praised including comedians (derisive or not) and certainly some profoundly talented actors.

Knowing what I know about how Clooney was raised has given me a great deal of respect for him as more than a simple lady killer, there’s others too – the challenge is to rise above the status quo – that is what should be praised within the bounds of the hw elite.

r January 11, 2017 10:31 AM

@vas pup,

The writers behind idiocracy irrespective of how I feel about the film are a great point in that argument, would you be pushing it so hard if it wasn’t so keen as a George Orwell book?

r January 11, 2017 10:37 AM

@Slime Mold,

I appreciate the response, I know fully well that a large percentage of blue collar criminals also escape but this is where guidelines come into play for punishments. Change is coming, slowly – and I thank you both for your work and response.

Skeptical January 11, 2017 11:47 AM

@Dirk: I’m not really sure what’s to protect. If the result of an election is the rise to power of a lying baboon with zero political experience, the demeanor of a mafia boss surrounding himself with a politburo of undead billionaires AND who has lost the popular vote by about 3 million…

In certain countries, of course, “protecting critical infrastructure” does mean “ensuring that the right candidate wins elections.”

Sometimes elections produce undesired outcomes. Elections form a critical component of democracies, but we should remember that democracies are about more than elections – Trump as President will function in a robust framework of institutions that will both limit and guide what he does.

Protecting voter machines makes perfectly good sense of course – tactics like Putin’s are problematic, but it would be a much more serious problem if machines in a critical state or even district were deemed compromised. The remedy would be to have the affected area vote again, essentially, but it would have the potential to cause truly damaging division.

I’m not sure a nation-state perpetrator is the most likely type of actor to attempt such a level of interference, though. While a nation-state could hope, by causing immense division within the United States, to make the American Government more confused, overloaded, and less able to seize the initiative in certain areas, such an operation would be freighted with enormous risk and carry only uncertain rewards if successful.

The risk is this: if the tampering nation-state is revealed, the Americans will unite strongly on the question of taking action against the perpetrator. And so if compromised, the tampering nation-state stands in jeopardy – as the response of the United States to that level of interference would be severe. The US would hit hard, and it would be ready to escalate to high-intensity conflict should its will be tested. US military operations since the first Gulf War – and even then – have been highly restrained relative to its capabilities. The prospect of a United States at war, unleashed, unconcerned with the long slog of nation-building or counterinsurgency, focused entirely on the destruction of a conventional enemy’s capacity to fight, is a very strong disincentive for any nation-state contemplating tampering with voting machines.

But, there are over-confident governments, and there are non-state actors against which retaliation is more complicated, so strong defenses would seem prudent – for the sake of everyone.

albert January 11, 2017 11:48 AM

@Degeneration into meaningless,
3 out of 4

@Jared Hall.
No, the candidates are -preselected-. Trump was the exception, not the rule. The Elites are quickly eliminating rectangular baked-clay building materials because their System failed them.

@R U Serius,
Well, I could have said: ‘listen to NPR’, had I known that was to be your takeaway on my comment. But then you’d have had nothing to say, which seems appropriate.

@Mike Barno,
Nuclear war with Russia is a lot less likely with Trump, than with Hil’ry. When you have a choice between Tweedledum and Treedledummer, you have no choice.

. .. . .. — ….

vas pup January 11, 2017 12:41 PM

@r: agree with your point of importance of art – I have no problem with that. Let say in China kid should learn STEM set related subjects + classical(!) music (piano or violin). That provides balanced development of left and right parts of the brain, boost creativity. As result, you get logic and imagination in synch. Einstein was playing violin (fix me if I wrong – just as best of my memory). That is why Chinese are complaining that so called ‘holistic’ approach put aside their substantially higher measurable merits during admission process.

I just want US kids compete with them equally on merits as well due to proper education provided in 21 century.

Regarding idiocracy: the most dangerous problem when idiot got power (as in a movie – at least he finally admitted he is idiot). Otherwise, level of incompetence escalate down through subordinate ledger. I hope we are on the same page on that.

ab praeceptis January 11, 2017 1:05 PM

Whoever the hackers may be been, I’m sure that they will be immensely impressed and frightened by the election process being declared as critical infrastucture.

Even more so as a certain country across the ocean not only has been caught spying and hacking pretty much whomever they like and actually even bragging about it. Certainly, acting from such moral high ground the us-americans will be admired and loved and respected.

If I may be serious for a moment: Don’t the us-americans get it, how utterly ridiculous they are? That whole bouhaha regarding the election hacking is like a known serial bank-robber complaining about someone who stole 10$ from him.

Certainly the Russians, who actually are powerful, don’t care a rats ass about the noise from an outgoing administration known to be insane and heinous and criminal. As for the Chinese I’m less well informed but I guess that they don’t care too much neither.

If they want security in the usa there are two steps to take:
a) create secure systems and software. secure as in “technically sound” not as in “bla bla bla”. Unfortunately that also means to keep their diverse criminal agencies in control because the backdoors those implant in systems have an undesirable property: they can be used by everyone incl. opponents.
Maybe it would help to send congress and administration to a 2 week military 101 class.
b) buy some thousand brain implants and put them into the heads of the most important politicians who manage your country. Trust me, a properly working brain is immensely helpful when making important decisions.

Degeneration into meaningless January 11, 2017 1:21 PM


Actually you should watch the recording of today’s press conference .

Somewhere in between Trump mentions he met a couple of weeks back with top computer security experts to discuss the issue of hacking. I bet Bruce wasn’t among them and that’s why he (Bruce) is publishing so much garbage on elections and hacking lately.

You see, when you expose your political colors loud and clear, there is always the possibility that the guy you don’t like ends up at the top and excludes you. I bet this is what is going on with Bruce and and Trump’s upcoming efforts on cyber-security.

r January 11, 2017 1:30 PM

@vas pup,

We are, I don’t mind a couple idiots keeping things real – but a whole ward full of them?

That’s what rubber walls and benzodiazepam pacifiers were made for.

r January 11, 2017 1:33 PM


6 months ago Trump couldn’t tell you what layer 8 was – this month he tells us that he ‘knows’ hacking.

So whoever his experts are they obviously are miracle workers huh?

Unless he’s ‘trumping’ up his parrot capabilities.

Gerard van Vooren January 11, 2017 2:01 PM

@ ab praeceptis, Dirk Praet,

What you are both saying makes sense, really sense. But don’t have high hopes. Today there are three countries in the whole world that still use imperial units instead of the metric system, Liberia, Myanmar and the US. Not that this matters but what this is about is that the US isn’t interested in long term necessary changes. What matters in the US is BS such as the war on [drugs|terrorism]. There are a couple of industries that makes the US still relevant such as IT, IP (laws), Big Pharma, Banking and Defense.

The digital revolution however makes the US within the foreseeable future irrelevant simply because they don’t apply the necessary changes, when countries such as China, Japan, and the EU too, do.

Not that I mourn about it. The US of today is simply to frightening. I do worry a bit about the “side effects” of the inevitable collapse.

Alex Tsiparus January 11, 2017 7:00 PM

It’s centralization, which is never a good thing.
It gives way to much control to one group.

Conspiracy theory? Maybe, but after all that we have seen go on not sure why anyone would argue giving the federal government more control is ever a good thing.

Clive Robinson January 11, 2017 9:18 PM

@ Albert,

The Elites are quickly eliminating rectangular baked-clay building materials

That “eliminating”, you sure it should not be “evacuating”… Because it sure sounds like “They be 5h1ting bricks”, 😉

tyr January 11, 2017 11:00 PM

@vas pup

The original story was ‘the Marching Morons’
by C. M. Kornbluth. The movie was a pale
imitation of the original.

The USA education system is designed to do
exactly what it does. trying to fix it gets
you into the area of unintended consequences
in a heartbeat. It produces the needed batch
of consumers who can be depended on to buy
the requisite amount of products like well
oiled machines. It has to mutilate normalcy
out of the child product to get the desired
effect by carefully planned conditioning.

The long term effects get you the current
type of leadership who in the vernacular of
the old west couldn’t pour piss out of a
boot if the instructions were on the heel.
Hardly an auspicious way to conduct 21st
century geo-politics.

Before we try to push STEM as the answer we
need to teach people how to read again using
the old method. The barely literate product
of the current system may be good for some
businesses but it puts USA behind the eight
ball as other countries start to catch up.

It isn’t hard to do, doesn’t need any more
added money from taxpayers, and would make
the ‘prison slavery’ problem go down to a
reasonable level of inmates in a generation.

It also might make the EULA into something
with a reason for existing in a reasonable
form instead of the usual pasted legalese

Curious January 12, 2017 4:10 AM

Off topic I guess:

I wonder, is water pipes considered “critical infrastructure?” I am hearing bad things about the quality of water in Michigan, and more importantly, I have the impression that the authorities aren’t really giving a damn.

As for the notion of “critical infrastructure”, what does that really mean politically? Is the category “critical infrastructure” a judicial term bound to certain laws and certain paragraph? Otherwise I can easily imagine such a term being abused by the powers that be, as pure rhetoric, for pushing some political agenda, that wouldn’t be founded on security concerns.

r January 12, 2017 5:36 AM


The water in flint michigan is improving according to tests. The problem was a coupling of bad management with ancient infrastructure, they tried to sterilize the water coming in from the flint river after the switch from the price increases of Detroit’s water supply with pH levels unsuitable for lead pipes – causing a decalcification(?) of the lines and thus a leeching there of back into the potable supply. They’re running a phosphor agent through the system now to re-insulate (reverse-leech) the infrastructure but in some places (including the people) the damage is already done.

It was a bad fumble liability wise.

Don’t kid yourself though, this problem does not only exist within my familiar borders – it is everywhere underneath this country long forgotten by those who bicker above it – we just happen to have been subjected to an extreme instance of this infrastructure failure both above(management) and below(pipes).

r January 12, 2017 5:59 AM


I have other questions/complaints regarding the official replacement policy and my understanding of general ‘responsibility’ with respect to the water meter/service lines but first thing’s are first and that’s getting the in-ground system back up to a semi-responsible level.

There’s also areas within the Township zone that swear up and down they are on Detroit water but the existence and proximity of wellheads in addition to ‘city water’ makes me very curious of which system they’re actually attached to.

Any idiot smoking pot or eating ‘farm fresh’ vegetables that are sourced from Flint may be poisoning themselves more than I think they’re aware, like the woman in PA who died at the hands of police I fully believe this to be some sort of longterm sick socioeconomic experiment. Yards are poisoned with lead paint and people don’t import fresh soil in some cases so lead is a huge problem realistically within these decaying cities.


Dirk Praet January 12, 2017 9:07 AM

@ Skeptical

… so strong defenses would seem prudent – for the sake of everyone.

First of all apologies for my previous rant. I was down with gastroenteritis when I wrote that, and the constant running back and forth between desk and bathroom kinda adversely influenced my overall state of mind.

On topic, I think @Jillian England’s comments reflect quite well what some of us think about designating elections critical infrastructure. While some adequate protection is not a bad idea in itself, a lot of people are seriously concerned with how that would be implemented in practice, bearing in mind the abomination something like the TSA was turned into. For someone with the disposition of Richard Nixon, the IC or some other federal entity monitoring DNC servers surely must sound like the ultimate wet dream come true.

As to the “Russia Inside” spin, the simple fact of the matter remains that even if indeed they were behind the leaking of Shillary-damaging DNC documents – which some of us here at the lone gunmen club still doubt -, it is extremely questionable to which extent it caused her to lose the election. Given the US’s own sordid history of meddling in other countries’ elections and in much more extreme ways, this entire thing is so totally blown out of proportion even a slightly retarded junior analyst cannot but conclude that there’s other things at play here.

Clive Robinson January 12, 2017 9:57 AM

@ Dirk Praet,

I was down with gastroenteritis when I wrote that,

Sorry to hear that, I hope you get over it.

I have a similar “backdoor trots” problem, caused in my case by medication for another problem. However I had the choice of be at home swallowing strong anti-biotics like sweeties, or be in hospital for a week having the stuff by intravenous drip. I figure at this time of year, in my immuno-compromised state, a hospital full of sick people is not the place I want to be, plus the hospital can find a better use for the bed / nurses / doctors than me sitting around waiting for my next dose of anti-biotics.

Plus think of the excercise value trotting back and forth between bed / desk and toilet. As an old relative used to say “there’s always a silver lining if you look hard enough” 😉

Dirk Praet January 12, 2017 12:16 PM

@ Wael, @ Clive

Honey is your friend

Some honeys are even better friends than others 😎

I had the choice of be at home swallowing strong anti-biotics like sweeties, or be in hospital for a week having the stuff by intravenous drip

Hospitals are like prisons. Nobody wants to go there unless you really can’t talk your way out of it. And in many cases, you leave in a worse state than the one you got in. Especially if you don’t have health insurance.

albert January 12, 2017 12:37 PM

Yes, “evacuating” is a better choice! And rather than ‘quickly’, a word that implies the fact that the process is beyond the control of the person affected. Thoughts?
. .. . .. — ….

Skeptical January 12, 2017 1:14 PM

@ab: If I may be serious for a moment: Don’t the us-americans get it, how utterly ridiculous they are? That whole bouhaha regarding the election hacking is like a known serial bank-robber complaining about someone who stole 10$ from him.

So in your view, the US deserved it, and therefore should not complain?

Who is being ridiculous again?

Certainly the Russians, who actually are powerful, don’t care a rats ass about the noise from an outgoing administration known to be insane and heinous and criminal. As for the Chinese I’m less well informed but I guess that they don’t care too much neither.

The “noise” isn’t coming from only the outgoing administration – and the Chinese view themselves in a period of natural progress, which a disordered environment can upset.

@Dirk: it is extremely questionable to which extent it caused her to lose the election.

I don’t think it did, and the US Government isn’t claiming that it did.

Given the US’s own sordid history of meddling in other countries’ elections and in much more extreme ways, this entire thing is so totally blown out of proportion even a slightly retarded junior analyst cannot but conclude that there’s other things at play here.

This is akin to someone claiming that given Europe’s own sordid history of violence against persons from the Middle East and North Africa, they ought not be angry when ISIS or other organizations commits acts of violence against them.

One can rip events from historical context in an effort to paper over present wrongs, but it will not be a persuasive argument.

Regardless of anyone’s views of the past sins of the United States, it holds its form of government, and its right of self-determination, at the very core of its interests and values – and, indeed, has more often than not acted to preserve the same for others (much to the displeasure of certain colonial powers post-WW2).

It would be short-sighted to threaten that core, be caught doing so, and expect no reprisal. The Russian operation itself was entirely a mistake. I am almost more concerned by the lack of prudence in its undertaking than I am by the actual operation.

The U.S. Government approaches world affairs from the vantage of enlightened self-interest. In the last 70+ years it has shielded the West from a true Soviet threat and, once that long struggle concluded, continued to attempt the establishment an order in which, via trade, development, and the spread of liberal democratic norms, human rights and welfare might grow and flourish throughout the world.

It is a nation that, throughout its necessarily imperfect history, has been forced internally to find ways of accommodation between groups of different backgrounds and cultures – sometimes failing, sometimes fighting, but ultimately achieving an imperfect progress; and so at the heart of American culture is the belief that the humanity common to us all rises above cultural and national divisions. It is a belief that, in my opinion, influences its foreign policy, which has been conducted quite differently, though not entirely differently, from other great powers in history.

But, there is also a deep theme that freedom and progress are continually threatened, and that ultimately force of arms may be necessary to secure them. The causes of any conflict are complex, but this theme has been a significant factor in many that the US has fought. Such a theme underlay the American Revolution. Such a theme underlay the American Civil War, in which some 750,000 Americans were killed. Such a theme underlay the proponents for intervention in World War 1 and World War 2. And the lessons of the latter carried through the long Cold War, surviving the moral dilemmas, ambiguities, and mistakes that such a complex struggle entailed. It remains today.

So, the United States will genuinely seek peaceful accommodation where feasible, though not if such accommodation appears likely to lead to unacceptable consequences or risks in the future. It will turn to other methods where necessary, and it has more living experience in such methods than any other country. To cement an image of oneself as unable to partner with the United States, as hostile to the United States, as even willing to interfere with American elections… this is unwise and dangerous for everyone.

General Mattis’s reported remarks to Iraqi generals, as the process of rebuilding Iraq began, come to mind:

“I come in peace. I didn’t bring artillery. But I’m pleading with you, with tears in my eyes: If you f— with me, I’ll kill you all.”

ab praeceptis January 12, 2017 3:53 PM


No, the us-americans did not deserve it. Nobody deserves to have his elections bent or disturbed.

But, Yes, they shouldn’t complain. They did way, way worse to other countries. If the us-americans were content to just disturb or bend the election process in another country, that country could celebrate. There are enough cases where the us-americans simply killed politicians they didn’t like, attacked other countries in illegal wars, etc.

Second, an more important: The us-americans are ridiculous for the way the act now. We know that the dnc did act illegally and did influence the elections in illegal ways. We know that clinton acted criminally. We know that there are election precincts where clinton fans have fraudulently bent the results in favour of clinton.

We do not know, however, let alone have acceptable proof for Russia disturbing the elections. What we have is but politsters, some of them insane (e.g. mc cain’t) making lots of noise and some agencies asserting a lot and blabbering about evidence without actually presenting any acceptable evidence.

Plus, it’s utterly ridiculous how major parts of the us-american population, politicians, and media behave regarding the Trump victory.
The man won and any further examinations done (like in wisconsin, etc) point to him having clearly won cleanly while clinton looks like a con artist.

Ridiculous. He won, that’s it. Respect the outcome and go on with your life – just like it was expected if clinton had won.

(Of course, there are quite some likeable, smart us-americans, but generally speaking the us-americans are the worlds laughing stock. One would be hard pressed even if one wanted to take us-americans seriously. If for nothing else, you should like Trump for striving to make your country a member of the international community again, that one can take seriously rather than to see it as a highly criminal murderous loony bin).

Clive Robinson January 12, 2017 4:27 PM

@ Albert,

And rather than ‘quickly’, a word that implies the fact that the process is beyond the control of the person affected.

You might want to invite both @Wael and @Dirk Praet in on this,

But a “torrent” is usually considered to be both large in volume and chaotic in movment, thus effectivly unstoppable. You will find a dictionary definition of,

    Torrential : adjective,
    (as of rain) falling rapidly and in copious quantities.

So my nomination would be “torrentialy” –if it is actually a recognised word– thus,

    The Elites are torrentialy evacuating rectangular baked-clay building materials


    The Elites are evacuating a torrent of rectangular baked-clay building materials

Wael January 12, 2017 6:25 PM

@albert, @ Clive Robinson, @Dirk Praet,

The Elites are evacuating a torrent of rectangular baked-clay building materials

@Clive Robinson used the same IV and key to encrypt material — not the best practice, as it enables some forms of attacks: Allow me to decrap the epileptic-curve crapography enciphered text. You can use a chosen clear-trots attack to “decipher” the text to:

They be 5h1ting bricks

The next one is a bit tricky…

As an old relative used to say “there’s always a silver lining if you look hard enough”

This one is hidden using stoolanography: Silver lining… it means, in picture form: This

Skeptical January 12, 2017 6:33 PM

@ab: they shouldn’t complain. They did way, way worse to other countries.

Many nations have committed acts in the past that were wrong, or regrettable. Nothing that the US did justifies Russian interference now; nothing that the US did requires them to sit quietly while foreign governments meddle with their elections.

Also – to be clear – the United States has done more than any nation on earth to preserve democracy in other countries (I write this without disparaging in the least the grave sacrifices other nations have made in common cause).

While the Soviet Union ravaged East Germany and Berlin, while the Soviet soldiers, to quote Patton, “those German women that ran they shot; and those that did not run, they raped,” the US helped construct democratic institutions that have stood the test of time, and sought reconciliation with its vanquished enemies. It did the same in the Pacific.

The spark of the Cold War was Soviet refusal to honor its obligations in Poland and elsewhere. Instead of agreed upon democracies, the Soviet Union dropped an iron curtain, and in the meantime, Stalin encouraged North Korea to attack and unify the peninsula under its own autocratic government. And there too, the US fought and bled. And there too, the US still stands at the ready.

The US has shed blood; it has spent trillions; it has required vast numbers of men and women to serve abroad, in harm’s way, and often away from their families; it bore the burden of deterring Soviet nuclear missiles and it placed military units in Europe to ensure, without qualification, that a Soviet attack on Europe would be a Soviet attack on the United States. It continues to do so today, in Europe, in South Korea, in Japan, and elsewhere.

The Russian influence operation is not something that the United States will tolerate. It is not something that the US needs to tolerate. You may think Russia strong; the US is far stronger. You do not seem to understand the potential consequences of provoking the US on such an issue – the US is completely willing and able to escalate as far as necessary, in my view.

If reprisal is the only language that Putin understands, then he’ll find the US to be fluent.

Ridiculous. He won, that’s it. Respect the outcome and go on with your life – just like it was expected if clinton had won.

The US Intelligence Assessment does not make any judgment on whether the Russian influence operation caused Trump to win. Personally, I don’t think it did.

This is a red herring, so to speak. The question is what to do about Russia’s interference in the election; the question is not whether it caused Trump to be elected (and while I give Trump the benefit of the doubt, and will let events and actions tell the tale, I politely reserve some doubts as to your notion that he enhances US standing in the world; I think it just the opposite).

ab praeceptis January 12, 2017 7:57 PM


Nothing that the US did justifies Russian interference now

Unlike you I prefer to talk about proven evil doings rather than about merely asserted ones.

the United States has done more than any nation on earth to preserve democracy in other countries

If killing large numbers of people and attacking countrie based on proven lies then you are probably right.

While the Soviet Union ravaged East Germany and Berlin, while the Soviet soldiers, to quote Patton, “those German women that ran they shot; and those that did not run, they raped,” the US helped construct democratic institutions …

I know the us-american fairy tales. Let me help you out with out with some reality. Just search for “Rheinwiesen” …

I stop here, except for one sentence because all you pathetic fairy tales don’t merit a response.

If reprisal is the only language that Putin understands, then he’ll find the US to be fluent.

Bring it on! The Russians will wipe the floor with your “eagles nest, we need air support, repeat, need urgent air support” “troups”.

Putin is playing with you since years. Putin is playing chess while your guys are trying themselves at bingo.
Russia has gotten stronger while you have gotten weaker. Need an example? You and your funny “coalition” have almost bragged the world into unconsciousness – yet you have actually achieved exactly what in 4 years? Nothing but an ever stronger isis/daesh.
Russia came and changed the situation on the ground in Syria decisively within 1 year.
In case you didn’t notice it: Today all negotiations regarding Syria are without any participation of your country. You are not invited, not wanted, and you don’t have the power anymore to force yourself upon everyone. In short, you are a ex superpower.

It’s not Russia who will learn the hard way (they already have decades ago). It’s you, the star bangled blabla liar country who will learn something – if needed the hard way. And trust me, there are billions of people who would just love to pay you back of some of what you hae done to them.

Before you try again with me get yourself a homo sapiens brain.

Michael January 12, 2017 10:07 PM

And what exactly will be considered “Critical Infrastructure”? Just voting machines?
What about voters registration process and databases? Approximately 2.75 million people have registrations in more than one state. No surprise here. People move to another state and their old registrations are valid because the elections are run by the states. Nothing prevents them from voting twice, we just do not know how many do. Also, more than 1.8 million dead people are registered, I guess some vote too. No, I think not a thing will be done about that.
Or is it dirty secrets of election officials that must be protected as Critical Infrastructure? Since exposing a DNC conspiracy against Sen. Sanders is now called “hacking our election”, I have a suspicion that yes, this is what it is really about. What is next – making publishing leaks from election campaigns illegal?

tyr January 13, 2017 12:47 AM


You might want to consider the Alan Robson effect.
He has a series called what I read on my hols. A
recent episode described his adventures with the
dopplegangers who have occurred over the years.
He has never been the unique Alan Robson anywhere.
So Rosita Furdlap may have persons with the same
name in other states who are not her (or even a
relation of her).

Ellis Island routinely stripped anyone name that
was difficult to spell or pronounce and flooded
USA with Smith, Brown and Jones immigrants.

@the usual suspects

I’m not too sure that that substitute for reasonable
exercise is valid. Until we get a working method to
take the place of antibiotics, hospitals, particularly
the stylish ones with carpetting are plaguepits,
avoidance is just prudence. Honey still works wonders.
Garlic is another but few enjoy munching enough of
the raw stuff to obtain a cure…: ^ )

Wael January 13, 2017 1:14 AM


Garlic is another

Black cumin seeds also works wonders. Mixed with honey makes a potent cure for many diseases. Try it next time you have a cold.

And Fenugreek seeds will make you stink like ammonia, but will make a Tyrannosaurus out of you… trust me 😉

I have seen with my own eyes (that maggots will eat one day) a man from Yemen carry a 300 lb. fridge by himself to the seventh floor. The man was tiny! I asked him: what’s up man? He said: Fenugreek, my friend… Fenugreek…

Dan Wiebe January 13, 2017 6:56 AM

@Slime Mold With Mustard
Not quite the same thing. The way things are now, you go to a government-controlled place and vote on government-controlled equipment while being supervised by government agents, and when you go home you just have to trust that the government has counted your vote honestly and has not stuffed bogus ballots into the box.

It seems to me that a system that purports to allow the people to control how the government initiates force against them is not a fertile ground for trust and altruism. The voting system should be designed so that everyone can be as confident as he wants to be that it is uncorrupted without anyone having to trust anyone about anything.

It’s an interesting problem.

Clive Robinson January 13, 2017 7:14 AM

@ Wael,

Fenugreek is a double strike on my medical do not eat list, so atleast others are saved frome the fetid breath, flatulence and other maloderous side effects of me eating it. Oh and for the incautious it has strange effects on your gut flora which can give you the trotts so a good helping of live yogurt “to follow” is recomended…

It was once considered only fit for cattle to eat, and well those of a jewish persuasion try and avoid it for some reason, unless they are originally from Ethiopia.

It’s a definate “treat with caution” plant. I suspect your friend with the fridge might have “propelled” himself up the stairs if he was eating a lot of it…

Wael January 13, 2017 8:03 AM

@Clive Robinson,

Fenugreek is a double strike on my medical do not eat list, so atleast others are saved frome the fetid breath,

It’s easy to get rid of mouth order. But most of the oder comes out in perspiration, so it’s the skin that stinks. However, Fenugreek is a known muscle building agent and a testosterone booster, even GNC sells it. And ‘mind and muscle’ has a report on it.

I suspect your friend with the fridge might have “propelled” himself up the stairs if he was eating a lot of it…

It’s unlikely he was aware of the calculations!

So a woman was having dinner in a busy restaurant, and as she was giving her order to the waiter, she “let a loud one fly”. She was a little embarrassed because everyone looked at her! To get out of the situation, she yelled at the waiter: would you please stop that, it’s disgusting! Waiter said: sure! Where’s it heading?

Clive Robinson January 13, 2017 12:58 PM

@ Wael,

So a woman was having dinner in a busy restaurant…

I know that joke but in a different form, involving a new nervous teacher in front of a clas of seven year olds. Having bent to pick up the chalk she had fumbled, she let loose with considerable spirt. Standing up she thought quickly and pointed at little Johnny and said “Stop that immediatly” to which Johny replied “I can’t miss it shot straight over me head”.

r January 13, 2017 5:03 PM


I laughed at the propellant joke, poor guy. I wonder if there were any survivors down wind?

Ian January 13, 2017 5:17 PM

I’m actually rather opposed to this. The DHS report, unless I’m overlooking something, doesn’t mention whether the security of political parties would be designated critical infrastructure, but given that the damage from the hack was a result of a breach in a political party not voting machines; I assume the designation would extend to them as well.

There is a valid economic model for political parties to secure their own infrastructure, insecurity has a serious cost in votes. I’m rather surprised this model did not work in the past as I assumed hacking was typical for political parties. The use of ‘plants’ certainly is. Perhaps an incorrect assumption on my part or hubris on their part. However, after the 2016 election I don’t think this economic model will fail again.

As for designating voting machines, tallying machines, etc. I’m not sure who should be tasked with determining their security but I can’t help but think involving federal agencies is a bad idea. Their purported role appears light but concerns over mission creep aren’t unfounded. It just seems like such an inherently bad idea to entrust the ruling party’s DHS with the security of an election.

Clive Robinson January 13, 2017 5:45 PM

@ r, Wael,

I wonder if there were any survivors down wind?

@Wael did say he saw him carry it up, so it’s possible he would have been in the “tail wash” and survived with more than a ghost of a chance 😉

Thinking about it there was a “Darwin Award” mention from around a quater of a century ago of some guy eating large quantities of beans and cabbage and blocking drafts in his motel room. Then falling asleep and gassing himself to death via the gas released from his gut :-S

There certainly is sufficient methane in a fart to ignite. I’ve witnessed a “party piece” where a soldier stood about a foot from a wall bent half over and farted onto a lit lighter. Left on the wall was a mark not to disimilar to a flower pattern… It definitely comes into the “Don’t try this at home kiddies” warning category.

Ted February 11, 2017 5:31 PM

Re: Designation of Election Infrastructure as Critical Infrastructure

The paper was speculative, but now it’s official. The U.S. election has been classified as critical infrastructure. I am tentatively in favor of this, but what really matter is what happens now. What does this mean? What sorts of increased security will election systems get?

DHS has reaffirmed its commitment to designate the U.S. election system as critical infrastructure, upholding the decision made by the prior administration earlier this year.

The new leadership at DHS “understands that there are a lot of questions out there” among officials from the thousands of state and local government bodies that actually run the nation’s voting systems, said Matthew Masterson, a member of the Election Assistance Commission — a federal agency established to help local officials manage, run and buy equipment for national elections […]

“They don’t know what this [designation] means,” said Masterson of the election officials.

The Election Assistance Commission (EAC) and the Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC), chaired and managed by NIST, are scheduled to host a meeting this week to discuss recommendations for voting equipment and technology. DHS officials will be present at the meeting to help translate what the designation means for voting systems.

Meeting agenda; a live webcast and recording will be available:

Wael April 24, 2017 1:45 PM


Is there any relation between Fenugreek and Odour? […] I dont think so.

Try it, then tell me! You’re gonna smell like maple syrup and amonia. Kinda good for meetings you don’t like 😉 I tried it and I know it has an effect on odor.

But Sprouted Fenugreek is arguably more healthy, and has less odor effects. I tried that too.

I mean why do you think people from areas that eat Fenugreek regularly are hairy? Their women too. Lol!

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