Around the Blawgosphere: Hacking Osama Bin Laden; Case Western Scholarship Shift

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Bin Laden’s Encryption

Sharon Nelson, president of Sensei Enterprises, wondered at a Ride the Lightning post Tuesday whether the U.S. will be able to break Osama bin Laden’s encryption. “Encryption is a ballbuster,” she writes. “Assuming devices were powered off and encrypted using best practices, it will probably not be possible to recover the data using brute force methods, although they’ll certainly try.” She indicates that if the feds are fortunate, they will find non-encrypted portions of his drives—or find a bin Laden confederate who knows key passphrases and can give them up.

Techdirt noted Associated Press coverage Thursday that bin Laden commonly would type a message into his computer, save it on a thumb drive, and give it to a courier who would then plug the drive into a computer at an Internet cafe and email the message. The courier would reverse the process to get messages to bin Laden.

“What’s interesting is that the AP article suggests this means the feds will now issue a ton of National Security Letters to get info on those accounts,” Masnick writes at Techdirt. “What I’m wondering is why use NSLs in this situation, when it shouldn’t be difficult at all to get a full warrant from a court? It seems that they would have plenty of info to get a warrant. So why use NSLs?”

Scholarship Policy Shift

After recent media attention from the blog Law School Transparency as well as ABAJournal.com to how, because of grading curves, many students who secure scholarships upon entering law school are guaranteed to lose those scholarships, Case Western Reserve University law school professor Jonathan H. Adler noted at the Volokh Conspiracy that his school’s incoming dean is revising its scholarship policy. Scholarship students will no longer have to hit a certain GPA to still be considered in good academic standing and keep their scholarships, Lawrence Mitchell has decided. From a statement: “Especially in times of economic uncertainty and hardship in the legal market, I felt it was both inhumane and unproductive to continue a policy that, instead of improving student performance, placed additional pressure and created undue anxiety among students that could hinder their performance.”

Graduation Speaker Drama

Law professor Paul L. Caron posted a comprehensive list of speakers at law school graduations around the country at TaxProf Blog. Some speakers and the schools they will address:

30 Rock actor and author Alec Balwdin is speaking at Harvard Law School.
Betty Anne Waters, played by Hillary Swank in her 2010 biopic, Conviction, is speaking at Drexel University Earle Mack School of Law.
• ABA President Stephen Zack is speaking at American University’s Washington College of Law.
Brooksley Born, former head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, is speaking at the University of Maryland School of Law.

The University of Michigan Law school’s commencement took place last Saturday, and an estimated 100 graduates and guests walked out of the ceremony in protest of speaker and alumnus Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), the Ann Arbor Journal reported. The Journal called graduating 3L Andrew Selbst the unofficial spokesman for the protesting students, who object to Portman’s record on gay rights issues. Selbst wrote at his blog, Coffee House Talks, that the walkout made him proud to be a Michigan law graduate. “The legal profession has simply moved past the point where LGBT rights are just another political issue, instead recognizing that discriminating against any group of people based on who they are is simply unacceptable in today’s society.”

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