Friday, April 25, 2008

One of these things is not like the others: why Warman is innocent

Much of Canada's right-wing blogosphere is aflutter with the idea that human rights lawyer Richard Warman might have posted a racist comment about Canadian senator Anne Cools on freedomsite.com, a white-rights forum. The evidence? Freedomsite's logs preserve data from some visits of "lucy" (a handle Warman is known to have used) and from 90sAREover, who had posted a hasty racist screed against black senator Anne Cools. According to freedomsite's expert witness Bernard Klatt, both the IP and the user-agent data were identical for "lucy" and for "90sAREover". Until now we have had to take Klatt's word on this.

Recently these logs have become available for scrutiny (they were included in Klatt's affidavit, which I've recently posted here). The logs make it clear, however, that there are two important differences between the computer used during Warman's visits and those of 90sAREover (the Cools poster); both of these differences are exculpatory of Warman. Here is the evidence in reverse chronological order (compare what is underlined in red).

The log of Warman's visit from Nov. 23, 2003 (p. 33 of Klatt's affidavit): Richard Warman, lucy, 90sAREover
The log of Warman's visit from Nov. 15, 2003 (p. 30 of Klatt's affidavit, here):
Richard Warman, Lucy, 90sAREover
The log of Warman's visit from Nov. 11, 2003 (p. 29 of Klatt's affidavit, here):
Richard Warman, lucy, 90sAREover
The log of Warman's visit from Oct. 15, 2003 (widely cited, e.g. here):
All of Warman's visits from Oct. 15 — Nov. 23, 2003, show the same IP (66.185.84.204 = wc09.mtnk.rnc.net.cable.rogers.com; see the blue underline) and the same operating system and browser (MSIE 6.0; Windows 98 — see the red underline — which points to a generic version of Explorer 6.0 and Windows 98).

Here is the log of 90sAREover of Sept. 5, 2003 (p. 34 of Klatt's affidavit, here). Here the browser details are different (again underlined in red:
Although both Warman and 90sAREover have the same IP and operating system, 90sAREover's user agent string has two key differences from Warman's computer-setup. First, 90sAREover had a customized version of Explorer 6.0 installed, which had been supplied by Rogers (as is signaled by the phrase "Rogers Hi-Speed Internet"); second, he did not actually use IE 6.0 to post, but instead was using RealOne Player version 2 (hence "R1 1.3": see here). None of Warman's log entries, by contrast, show any sign of RealOne, and for all four of his visits his browser was recorded as a generic version of Explorer, not a Rogers one.

These differences are important and exculpatory and overthrow the technical argument for identifying Warman as "90sAREover", which (given that the IP used, 66.185.84.204, could have been anyone of millions of Rogers customers) has now collapsed. The computer that posted the Cools post was set up differently than the one Warman was using three months later.

    (Re-written for clarity and context.)

9 comments:

BenParsons said...

The real question, is who in their right mind was using Windows 98 in 2003?

jaycurrie said...

An interesting twist in the tale.

However, it is not entirely depositive. Assume for the moment that one a) decided to post using RealOne, b) was a Rogers customer, c) had the Rogers version of Explorer as well as the non-Rogers. RealOne looks for a version of Explorer it can use and finds the Rogers version.

Having two or more intallations of the same browser - intentionally or simply because one is a tech kluge - is not all that uncommon.

But do keep pitching: you are keeping Kinsella and Dawg and BCL's hopes alive.

buckets said...

An interesting theory, Jay, and thanks for sharing it. You might have a look at Occam's razor, which would hack this to bits.

If you're really keen on keeping the Warman theory alive, wouldn't it be easier just to assume that this is another computer?

Mike said...

Jay,

buckets is being kind and you are only proving his case with your speculation.

"Assume for the moment that one a) decided to post using RealOne,..."

RealOne is a media player and one would be hard pressed to "post" from it...it is likely whomever visited that day was trying to stream media of some kind.

"b) was a Rogers customer, c) had the Rogers version of Explorer as well as the non-Rogers."

Warman has never disputed being a Rogers customer so b) is redundant and c) is impossible. You cannot have two differing versions of IE on your computer at one time as it is part of the OS (remember that big ole court case down south?). This is possible with Firefox, Mozilla, Opera and the Old Netscape, but not IE So whomever made this could not have had both the version of IE. It is more than just a technical kluge, it cannot be done with IE.

But feel free to try it. Get a copy of IE 6 and try to install it on a computer that already has IE 5.0 or 7.0 and see what happens.

When we test applications with multiple versions of IE, we usually have to put them into separate Virtual Machines or on physically separate machines, because multiple versions of IE cannot coexist on the same box.

Sorry, the only grasping for hope is you.

jaycurrie said...

Mike, I stand corrected on IE. However, I was interested in your other point:

"RealOne is a media player and one would be hard pressed to "post" from it...it is likely whomever visited that day was trying to stream media of some kind."

I had thought that myself but Buckets seems to be implying that the Cools poster was somehow using RealOne.

And, yes, Buckets it is not at all out of the question that Warman had two computers. Again, we are not going to know much about that end of things until a) Warman is deposed, b) third party records or produced.

buckets said...

Mike. The fact that "R1 1.3" is in the user agent string makes it clear that 90sAREover was using it to surf to the site and post his message. If you download a copy for yourself, you can see that it's not all that hard to believe: the RealOne works fine as a browser as far as I can tell.

marginalizedactiondinosaur said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
buckets said...

MGD. Please see the comments policy.

Terrence C. Watson said...

Bloody good analysis.

One thing that might be relevant:
As I recall, the "Rogers Hi-Speed Internet" id tag thingy is actually written into the registry, and can be removed or changed there.

Here's a link:
http://www.pctools.com/guides/registry/detail/799/

But yeah, it seems extremely unlikely that Richard Warman would do that. However, it's worth pointing out that you don't actually need two versions of Internet Explorer installed for the user agent string to change on different browsing occasions.