Sucking Up to Bashar al-Assad

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on February 11, 2012

I normally don’t like computer hackers, but in this case, I am willing to put aside my distaste, given that computer hacking has given us a glimpse inside the Syrian regime:

In the fall of 2007 Israel reportedly hacked into Syria’s air defense systems and disabled them, as a prelude to bombing a nuclear facility in the Syrian desert. This vaunted cyber exploit, it turns out, might not merit its spectacular reputation. Last week, the shadowy online activist group known as Anonymous penetrated 78 email accounts from Syria’s ministry of presidential affairs and posted their contents online. The hackers found that many of the accounts, including that of the allegedly computer-savvy Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, used one of the world’s weakest passwords: 12345. So much for Syrian cybersecurity.

Oh, this is too good to be true.

Of course, after we get past the funny parts, there is the disturbing news that a whole host of people who ought to have known better have spent a goodly amount of time trying to curry favor with one of the world’s nastiest regimes, a regime whose nastiness is in fact the focus of a host of news reports every day. Sure, some of the bootlicking was done by journalists trying to score an interview, but what explains the rest of it? I for one don’t pretend to know; I was taught to abhor bullies, tyrants, dictators, and murderers, not kowtow to them, so I guess that I don’t understand those who take a different view of things. But would it be too much to ask that those who actually made an effort to convince Bashar al-Assad and his retinue that they are the cat’s meow be ashamed of themselves?

Assuming that they know what shame is, of course.

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