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article imageAnybody have a disc drive? — Mueller report delivered on CD-ROMs

By Karen Graham     Apr 18, 2019 in Technology
Congress and the American people have been waiting for quite a while to read Special Prosecutor Mueller's report on the "Russia investigation." And the Justice Department hand-delivered the report to Congress at about 11 a.m. Thursday - on CD-ROMs.
Now, receiving information, regardless of what it may be, via a CD is not unusual to my way of thinking. But perhaps I am old-fashioned. After all, I remember 8-track tape players and manual typewriters. But it seems the Justice Department managed to delay the reading of the redacted Mueller report a little longer because lawmakers had to hunt up some old-fashioned computers that still used disc drives.
According to Gizmodo, Apple did away with built-in drives on their MACs back in 2016. (I didn't know that). My granddaughter uses a MAC and she has never told me about not having a disc drive.
But it seems that Apple still sells a standalone SuperDrive for $79 that connects with a traditional USB cable. As with the 12-inch MacBook, a dongle would be needed to use the SuperDrive with new MacBook Pros that have switched to USB-C ports.
Why did officials use CDs for the report?
Actually, it is fairly common for sensitive information to be sent out on CDs. It really boils down to being a security thing. USB thumb drives are cheap, convenient and have great storage capacity, but they are also a piece-of-cake for hackers to get into. So we can assume that the DOJ is not wanting to pass a virus or other bug on to Congress.
And the same security risks hold true with cloud-based documents, such as a password protected Google document. If anyone figures out the password, it isn't private anymore. So it is not wrong to play it safe. Not only that, but some members of Congress will be getting versions of the Mueller report with fewer redactions. Making sure the documents get into the right hands is easier with CDs.
"I left the Hill in 2014, and at that time *any* electronic production was unusual. When it occurred, CD-ROM was what we got,” Justin Rood, a director at the Project on Government Oversight who used to work for Sen. Tom Cotton, wrote in an email to Slate. “When I saw that the report was delivered on CD-ROM, I thought it was fairly typical.”
Just so everyone knows, it really wasn't that hard for lawmakers to find computers with disc drives. But the thought of aides running around looking for those computers made for a field day on Twitter, and if nothing else did provide a bit of comic relief.
Slate is also reporting that some congressional offices have access to email networks that are equipped to disseminate classified material. Daniel Schuman, the policy director at Demand Progress, told Slate that “Sometimes information isn’t given to Congress, but you have to go to a secure facility and can read it there."
Interestingly, this is what was done for the FBI report that was produced on the sexual assaults allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh last year.
But for the Mueller report, CD-ROMs will have to suffice. For the rest of us, we have a PDF version of the report. So fix a large drink of some kind and make sure you have several hours to wade through it.
More about mueller report, Attorney general, 400page report, CDROMs, classified materials
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