Screw the thief. Convict the state department morons…

[This is a rebuttal/rant in which I ‘reply’ to various parts of a news article, originally published on This version has been updated for style.]

Desperate US offers 25,000 dollars for missing State Department laptop (Original now 404)
Thursday, August 10 4:20 AM SGT

WASHINGTON, Aug 9 (AFP) – Apparently frustrated and desperate for leads
after months of fruitless investigation, the United States on Wednesday
announced a 25,000-dollar reward for the return of a missing State
Department laptop computer containing classified information.

“At this point in the investigation, it was time to put out a reward of
25,000 dollars if anybody can identify the machine and bring it to us,”
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said.

FBI and department security agents who have been on the trail of the
laptop since it was reported missing in January, had been quietly
spreading word of the reward since May but it had not widely known until
Wednesday, he said.

The laptop went missing in January. That is eight months ago. In
that time, the laptop could be anywhere in the world, destroyed,
formatted, etc. It could be sitting in the state department, resold
back to them for all they know.

No offer of immunity with this reward. If the person who stole it
still has it, an offer of immunity from prosecution on this crime might
lead them to return it, especially if they cough up the reward. Who is
most likely to know where the laptop is…

Why isn’t there a reward for the capture/prosecution/lynching of the
moron who left this type of information unencrypted, then allowed the
laptop to be stolen. I think it safe to say the laptop wasn’t stolen off
his/her desk at work.

Fliers and posters describing the computer — “a black Dell laptop with
a five-digit serial number ending in the letter ‘Q’ located on a sticker
in the back near the ports,” according to Boucher — were being posted
in pawn shops and computer stores around the country, he said.

Ooh, this narrows it down a bit! Why didn’t the auditing/accounting
division of the state department have a full serial number? What model
was the laptop? The description above is plenty vague.

Boucher brushed aside questions about whether such a description of
the computer might not alert otherwise ignorant spies or criminals to
the laptop’s importance.

“If people with nefarious goals took it, they they probably know what
they’ve got already,” he said.

And if not…. they have alerted every spook in the world to the
importance of the information contained on it. Good move.

“If people thought they were just swiping a laptop or pawning it or
fencing it or whatever, it doesn’t really matter to them what’s on it
and this reward might induce them to look at the laptops and turn it

Maybe eight months ago when it was fresh in their minds. If this was a
simple theft for hardware, do you think the perp will remember such
details? “Oh wow, that matches the description of the 18th laptop I stole
this year from that car in back of the strip club…”

The State Department has never revealed the type of information
contained on the missing computer, but some reports have said it
includes extremely senstitive [sic] data about nuclear weapons and arms
control issues.

And this information was stored on anything less than a strong encrypted
file system with solid security measures in place?!

Screw the thief. Convict the state department morons that let this happen.

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