Federal employees are using encrypted communications to ‘resist Trump’

Federal employees are using encrypted communications to ‘resist Trump’
Image: YouTube screen grab

In the last couple of days, we’ve been hearing from people who speak approvingly of a military coup as a way of getting rid of President Donald Trump.

We heard from actress/comedian Sarah Silverman on Wednesday.  She thought a military overthrow of the Trump administration was such a dandy idea, she tweeted it and slapped four heart symbols on it.

If Silverman comes up a little short for you in the gravitas department, consider Rosa Brooks, a former official of the Obama administration whose bio blurb at Wikipedia reads thus:

Rosa Brooks is a law professor and the Associate Dean for Graduate Programs at Georgetown University Law Center, a columnist and contributing editor for Foreign Policy and a senior fellow at the New America Foundation. From April 2009 to July 2011, she served as Counselor to the Under Secretary of Defense for PolicyMichele Flournoy, and in May 2010 she also became[1] Special Coordinator for Rule of Law and Humanitarian Policy, running a new Pentagon office dedicated to those issues. Brooks wrote a weekly column for the Los Angeles Times from 2005 to 2009, and is an expert on national security, international law and human rights issues. At the Pentagon her portfolio included both rule of law and human rights issues and global engagement, strategic communication, and she received the Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service for her work.

We’re talking footnoted and hyperlinked here, and with expertise, portfolios, and medals from the Secretary of Defense.  Gravitas.

The bemedaled Ms. Brooks also thinks a military coup against Trump is a viable option.  She expressed this opinion in a 30 January blog post at Foreign Policy mag’s website.

Aaron Klein notes the galloping imbecility of the scenarios Brooks propounds (quoted below) in making a case for the military to lock down Trump:

What would top U.S. military leaders do if given an order that struck them as not merely ill-advised, but dangerously unhinged? An order that wasn’t along the lines of “Prepare a plan to invade Iraq if Congress authorizes it based on questionable intelligence,” but “Prepare to invade Mexico tomorrow!” or “Start rounding up Muslim Americans and sending them to Guantánamo!” or “I’m going to teach China a lesson — with nukes!”

But Klein also points out how hard the mainstream media are working to depict Trump as crazy enough to give such orders.

All of that is…concerning.  We can make the obvious comments about how the media would shriek wildly if anyone on the right – no matter how nameless or non-prominent – offered similar suggestions about a Democratic president.  We can point out (as Christine Rousselle did at Townhall) that advocating for the overthrow of the duly elected U.S. president meets the definition of treason, when done by an American citizen

But ultimately, the military coup suggestions are just talk, as far as we know.  What’s not just talk is this report from writers at Politico, on Thursday, that federal employees are developing encrypted communications networks within which to plot “dissent” against Trump and pushback against his administration’s agenda.

Says Politico:

Whether inside the Environmental Protection Agency, within the Foreign Service, on the edges of the Labor Department or beyond, employees are using new technology as well as more old-fashioned approaches — such as private face-to-face meetings — to organize letters, talk strategy, or contact media outlets and other groups to express their dissent.

The goal is to get their message across while not violating any rules covering workplace communications, which can be monitored by the government and could potentially get them fired.

So let’s be clear here.  Let’s make it crystal clear so no one will miss it.  It’ll put it in bold, just in case.

What these federal employees are doing is against the law and would justifiably get them fired.  So they’re hiding it by using encrypted communications.

They want to remain on the taxpayers’ payroll, doing jobs it is the voters’ privilege to define for them.  But they feel entitled to ignore what the taxpaying voters actually want – which the voters have signaled by handing the House, the Senate, and the White House to the Republicans.

Politico’s writers naturally depict whatever these employees might object to as “misconduct” by the Trump administration, as if it is misconduct for a new president to change the discretionary direction of his agencies’ work priorities. (“Misconduct” is, rather, what the federal employees are engaged in.)

This, of course, is just one of many ways in which the media are misusing language to prejudice the public’s view of the Trump administration.

Meanwhile, it is interesting to note that the messaging-encryption apps alluded to in the post (e.g., Signal, which can be used on iOS and Android phones), were referred to by David Cameron in 2015 as “a safe space for terrorists.”  Obama called them, in that regard, “a problem.”

Don’t get me wrong: I’m as big a fan as anyone of being able to keep one’s communications private, a priori.  I’ve argued against all of “warrantless wiretapping,” NSA’s big-metadata projects (as they relate to Americans’ communications data), and the feds trying to force Apple to share technology for breaking into the San Bernardino terrorist’s phone.  I still oppose all those things, and would shut them down if I could.

I don’t have a problem with messaging encryption.  Like jumbo jets, motor vehicles, and firearms, it’s something we mustn’t try to take away from good people because bad people may misuse it.

But it’s still a valid point, that these federal employees have turned to encrypted messaging because they feel the need to hide their activities the same way terrorists do.  That’s because what they’re doing is against the law.

Encrypted callout box

Keep in mind this important point as well.  In fact, write it in neon letters 12 feet high.  The effort of federal employees to hide what they’re doing from the public record didn’t start with the Trump administration.  Some of Obama’s most senior officials — including Hillary Clinton, Eric Holder, EPA director Lisa Jackson, and IRS executive Lois Lerner — used secret private email accounts and even aliases to conduct government business.

Don’t be suckered into focusing on Trump.  The people these federal employees want to hide their activities from are you.

It was always clear that the fight to retrieve out-of-control government would be a tough one, after eight years of Obama.  What the election of Trump is exposing is how entitled these bureaucrats feel to keep government going on the path they prefer, against the will of the voters.  They are on the edge of literal insurrection – after a peaceful and valid election and transfer of power – and are so misguided that they imagine themselves to be in the right.

J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer is a retired Naval Intelligence officer who lives in Southern California, blogging as The Optimistic Conservative for domestic tranquility and world peace. Her articles have appeared at Hot Air, Commentary’s Contentions, Patheos, The Daily Caller, The Jewish Press, and The Weekly Standard.

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