I. NSA and Jewish Bankers: Two Zionist Monsters
By Jonas E. Alexis -October 3, 2013
… by Jonas E. Alexis
Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian has conducted an interview with the Israeli newspaper Haaretz during which he declared that:
“The cardinal point is that part of the goal of the NSA is to completely eliminate privacy everywhere in the world. Its goal is to make every piece of human communication that is done by electronic means vulnerable to monitoring and surveillance − to collect, store and analyze every message transmitted by people via the telephone or the Internet.
“All the specific revelations are only examples of this: the fact that they collected the telephone records of all American citizens, that they detail every phone call made by every American citizen; the Prism and XKeyscore programs, which show how they can collect billions of pieces of communication every day and store and analyze the things you say, who you say them to, which websites you visit and so on.
Those are the means. The essence is the vast, sealed system of surveillance which is conducted in absolute secrecy.”
Of course, the obvious question the inquiring mind would ask is this: “What’s the problem with that?” Greenwald responded,
“IF THOSE WITH POWER ARE CAPABLE OF MONITORING EVERYTHING WE DO OR SAY, THAT MEANS WE ARE VERY LIMITED IN WHAT WE CAN DO OR SAY AGAINST THEM. THAT’S THE REASON THAT EVERY TYRANNY HAS ALWAYS USED SURVEILLANCE AS A TOOL TO PRESERVE ITS POWER.
“THE SECOND PROBLEM IS THAT IT’S A TOOL OF INTIMIDATION. IF THE POPULATION KNOWS THAT IT IS ALWAYS BEING WATCHED, PEOPLE WILL HAVE FAR LESS MOTIVATION TO ACT, BECAUSE THEY WILL FEEL VULNERABLE AND THREATENED. THE RESULT IS A KIND OF POLITICAL PARALYSIS AMONG THE PUBLIC.
“THE THIRD AND PERHAPS MOST IMPORTANT THING IS THAT HUMAN BEHAVIOR CHANGES VERY FUNDAMENTALLY WHEN THERE IS NO PRIVATE SPACE. PEOPLE WHO KNOW THEY ARE BEING OBSERVED BEHAVE IN A MANNER THAT IS FAR MORE RESTRAINED, NARROW AND FOSSILIZED. THEY BECOME A LOT LESS FREE, A LOT LESS WILLING TO TEST BOUNDARIES.
“SUPERVISION AND SURVEILLANCE ENCOURAGE CONFORMITY IN PEOPLE AND ELIMINATE SOMETHING VERY ESSENTIAL IN THE HUMAN EXPERIENCE, IN HUMAN NATURE: THE FREEDOM TO DO THINGS WHEN WE KNOW THAT NO ONE IS LOOKING.
“THE HISTORY OF ALMOST EVERY COUNTRY THAT EXERCISES SURVEILLANCE OF ITS CITIZENS IS ONE OF EXTREME ABUSE OF THAT POWER. THERE IS NO CONSOLATION IN THE THOUGHT THAT THE GOVERNMENT PROMISES TO USE THAT POWER EXCLUSIVELY AGAINST TERRORISTS. ITS USE IS ALMOST ALWAYS AGAINST POLITICAL DISSIDENTS OR AGAINST PEOPLE WHO CONSTITUTE A THREAT OR CHALLENGE TO THE POWER APPARATUS. ”
We have seen in previous articles that the Israeli regime is one of the political forces behind the NSA. Edward Snowden indeed found himself drowning in the Zionist river of time but somehow swam against the currents and found a way out.
According to Snowden, people are floating in the Zionist river at their own perils. The end of that Zionist river is the end of American privacy. The end of that river is the end of privacy in virtually the entire world. Now Snowden is warning those who are still consciously or unconsciously floating in that river. He said:
“THE SURVEILLANCE OF WHOLE POPULATIONS, RATHER THAN INDIVIDUALS, THREATENS TO BE THE GREATEST HUMAN RIGHTS CHALLENGE OF OUR TIME. A CULTURE OF SECRECY HAS DENIED OUR SOCIETIES THE OPPORTUNITY TO DETERMINE THE APPROPRIATE BALANCE BETWEEN THE HUMAN RIGHT OF PRIVACY AND THE GOVERNMENTAL INTEREST IN INVESTIGATION.
“THESE ARE NOT DECISIONS THAT SHOULD BE MADE FOR A PEOPLE, BUT ONLY BY THE PEOPLE AFTER FULL, INFORMED, AND FEARLESS DEBATE. YET PUBLIC DEBATE IS NOT POSSIBLE WITHOUT PUBLIC KNOWLEDGE, AND IN MY COUNTRY, THE COST FOR ONE IN MY POSITION OF RETURNING PUBLIC KNOWLEDGE TO PUBLIC HANDS HAS BEEN PERSECUTION AND EXILE.
“IF WE ARE TO ENJOY SUCH DEBATES IN THE FUTURE, WE CANNOT RELY UPON INDIVIDUAL SACRIFICE. WE MUST CREATE BETTER CHANNELS FOR PEOPLE OF CONSCIENCE TO INFORM NOT ONLY TRUSTED AGENTS OF GOVERNMENT, BUT INDEPENDENT REPRESENTATIVES OF THE PUBLIC OUTSIDE OF GOVERNMENT.”
Once again, Snowden here is right in line with rational thought. What he is saying here is firmly compatible with what the Founding Fathers said and defended.
YOU ARE A TERRORIST IF YOU RESIST THE NSA
The NSA’s covert activity, however, gets worse almost every two weeks or so:
“Top secret US government documents…characterize even the most basic political and legal opposition to drone attacks as part of ‘propaganda campaigns’ from America’s ‘adversaries.’
“The entry is part of a top secret internal US government website, similar in appearance to the online Wikipedia site. According to a June interview with Snowden in Hong Kong, the only individuals empowered to write these entries are those ‘with top secret clearance and public key infrastructure certificates,’ special access cards enabling unique access to certain parts of NSA systems. He added that the entries are ‘peer reviewed’ and that every edit made is recorded by user…
“The NSA entry further claims that ‘manipulation of statistics’ over civilian deaths is a frequent propaganda tool of ‘adversaries,’ citing one study that concluded that roughly 9 out of 10 victims from drone strikes are civilians. To contrast such propaganda studies, the NSA entry cites a New America Foundation study concluding that ‘civilians make up about one-third of those killed.’
“The US has previously denounced drone opponents as US adversaries and even terrorist sympathizers. In 2011, the Bureau of Investigative Journalists published a study documenting numerous civilian deaths in Pakistan during the same time period for when John Brennan, then the chief White House counterterrorism adviser and now CIA Director, had falsely asserted there were no such deaths. Subsequent reports further proved the clear falsity of Brennan’s statements.”
“THE US GOVERNMENT HAS A LONG HISTORY OF TREATING DRONE OPPONENTS AS NATIONAL SECURITY THREATS.”
IT HAS BEEN REPORTED RECENTLY THAT THE NSA HAD A “U.S. ASSASSINATION PROGRAM,” WHERE IT SEEMS TO BE THAT PEOPLE WHO DO NOT COMPLY WITH WHAT THE NSA DOES WOULD BE EXTERMINATED.
The evidence has not been fleshed out completely, but we do know that the NSA has gathered even social-networking data on Americans “to map behavior.” As Gene Healy of the CATO Institute has put it, no one can hide from the NSA anymore.
Here’s the rub: when NSA workers are not spying on Americans, they are spying on their spouses and girlfriends. The Associated Press recently reported:
“Confirming media reports that agency workers used surveillance technology in their private life—a practice jokingly known as ‘loveint’—the NSA’s inspector general, General George Ellard, released a letter to a US senator disclosing details of the romantic snooping.”
In other words, you, the average American, pay your taxes, and that money goes to support people who will be using the NSA to spy on their husbands and wives and girlfriends. Listen to this:
“A National Security Agency employee was able to secretly intercept the phone calls of nine foreign women for six years without ever being detected by his managers, the agency’s internal watchdog has revealed.
“The unauthorised abuse of the NSA‘s surveillance tools only came to light after one of the women, who happened to be a US government employee, told a colleague that she suspected the man – with whom she was having a sexual relationship – was listening to her calls.
“The case is among 12 documented in a letter from the NSA’s inspector general to a leading member of Congress, who asked for a breakdown of cases in which the agency’s powerful surveillance apparatus was deliberately abused by staff. One relates to a member of the US military who, on the first day he gained access to the surveillance system, used it to spy on six email addresses belonging to former girlfriends.”
But that means nothing to people like Diane Feinstein, who is fighting tooth and nail to preserve the NSA’s illegal activities against Americans.
If counter-terrorism is not one of the biggest jokes ever told, then nothing is.
THE BANKERS ARE TOO FAT TO BE JAILED?
What we are clearly seeing here is that if you are against anything that the Zionist regime has cooked up, then you are more than likely to be labeled a terrorist or something equally worse.
Whatever they do, you must accept it. In the Zionist world, free speech and free expression are simply relics of the past.
Whenever the Zionist mob is not in charge, they ask for diversity; but whenever they take control over the academia, they fine you if you ask for just an ounce of diversity.
If you question the “Holocaust” in Germany—like the 73-year old Bishop Williamson has done—you will be fined $2,431. Then you have Zionist shills such as David Cameron who will increase funding for the Holocaust story to stay alive.
Where will Cameron get the money? Well, he will loot the average guy in England. “Up to 146 million Europeans are at risk of falling into poverty by 2025…”
There is more bad news. You, the average American, are going to send your sons and daughters to die not for freedom but for the Zionist regime. Citing again Andrew Bacevich:
“Few of the very rich send their sons or daughters to fight. Few of those leaving the military’s ranks find their way into the ranks of plutocracy.”
And what do all those perpetual wars bring? Bacevich tells us: “civic decay, child poverty, homelessness, illegitimacy, and eating disorders,” where many people are now “overweight, overmedicated, and deeply in hock…”
If you think that Bacevich is just pulling your leg, just read the article by the American Prospect last month entitled, “What’s Killing Poor White Women?” And if you think the Zionist regime cares about what you think, just read about the current situation in America.
Virtually everyone knows that the debt ceiling in America is pathetic and that the country is already in its economic coffin. Obama summoned both parties at the White House precisely because they all know the country is already on the brink of economic collapse.
matt-taibbi (1)Yet in the midst of all this, Netanyahu wants the U.S. to threaten Iran, obviously to produce more bloodshed in the Middle East.
The Zionist regime is currently looting pension funds, and this activity has already sent shockwave across the nation. But you have to zip your lips. Business Insider has recently declared that “markets are crumbling all around the world as government shutdown gets close,” but the Zionist regime is pushing more wars in the Middle East, including a bloody conflict with Iran. It has also been reported that nearly 5 million people are unemployed in Spain alone, but we cannot focus on this problem because Israel is much more important.
Jewish companies such as Goldman Sachs and Wall Street are largely responsible for the economic collapse, but you, the average American, must use your own retirement money to bail them out.
How do those companies use your precious money? Those Jewish bankers use them to fund drug lords and terrorism! Matt Taibbi of the Rolling Stone reported last February:
“For at least half a decade, the storied British colonial banking power helped to wash hundreds of millions of dollars for drug mobs, including Mexico’s Sinaloa drug cartel, suspected in tens of thousands of murders just in the past 10 years…
“The bank also moved money for organizations linked to Al Qaeda and Hezbollah, and for Russian gangsters…
“‘They violated every [expletive] law in the book,’ says Jack Blum, an attorney and former Senate investigator who headed a major bribery investigation against Lockheed in the 1970s that led to the passage of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. ‘They took every imaginable form of illegal and illicit business.’”
And if you think that the war in Afghanistan has produced democracy, think again. In 1979, Afghanistan was producing only 250 tons of opium. By 2007, when the neo-Bolsheviks took over the country, at least “40,000 tons of illicit opiates have been stockpiled in Afghanistan, mostly to be marketed abroad.
“As of 2012, it was the world’s leading supplier of opium, with 74% of the global market, a figure that was expected to hit 90% as U.S. combat troops leave (and foreign aid flees). In other words, success in an endless war in that country has meant creating the world’s first true narco-state.”
In short, we have reached an intolerable situation. We have the NSA virtually sucking the life out of virtually every American and much of the world by snooping on them, and we have Zombie Capitalist monsters such as Goldman Sachs, Wall Street, Bain Capital, JPMorgan Chase literally cheating the average American.
We have the Israeli regime currently destabilizing the West Bank by destroying Palestinian homes and building Jewish settlements in replacement. Human Rights Watch recently declares,
“Israeli military forces should cease actions in a West Bank Bedouin community that were apparently intended to displace the residents without lawful justification.
“The military demolished all homes in the community on September 16, 2013, and blocked four attempts by humanitarian groups to provide shelters, with soldiers using force against residents, humanitarian workers, and foreign diplomats on September 20.
“Under international humanitarian law in effect in the occupied West Bank, the deliberate unlawful forced transfer of a population is a war crime.”
Seymour-Hersh-Noted journalist Seymour Hersh has recently declared that serious journalism has been hijacked. The only way to get back to serious issues is, says Hersh, to “fire 90% of editors and promote ones you can’t control.”
The New York Times, Hersh continues, “spends so much more time carrying water for Obama than I ever thought they would. Nothing’s been done about that story, it’s one big lie, not one word of it is true. It’s pathetic, they are more than obsequious, they are afraid to pick on this guy [Obama].”
Good point. The New York Times has been sheltering their Zionist president for quite some times now. The New York Times has declared that terrorist activities have dropped because of the NSA. Neoconservative magazines such as the Weekly Standard were already working on this case since last August.
In other words, the NSA should continue its covert operation against Americans.
Yet to say that the NSA actually stops terrorist activities actually begs the question: who is supporting the Syrian rebels/terrorists now? Who is suspending both international law and the American Constitution to support terrorist regimes in the Middle East? Russia? China? Norway? Iceland? North Korea? Or maybe Cuba?
The answer is quite obvious: it is the neo-Bolshevik/Zionist regime in America and Israel that is supporting terrorism. The Washington Post has recently reported that the CIA is currently training the rebels/terrorists, who themselves have more than likely used chemical weapons and put the blame on Assad.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has recently said,
“We read reports and hear from various sources, semi-official and trustworthy, that some official representatives of a number of the countries of the region surrounding Syria allegedly established contacts and meet regularly with leaders of Jabhat al-Nusra and other terrorist groups, and also that those radicals have some components of chemical weapons maybe found in Syria or maybe brought from somewhere, and not just on the Syrian territory, but also that chemical weapons components have been brought to Iraq and that provocations are being prepared there.”
Second, the claim that the NSA has actually stopped at least 54 terrorist plots is misleading at best. Keith Alexander has admitted under oath that this is not the case. And after months of denying that the NSA can actually use devices such as cell phones to snoop on Americans, Alexander finally admitted that there is more to the NSA than meets the eye and ear.
In response to the article by the New York Times on the issue that the NSA has thwarted terrorist activities, one commentator declared, “So? What is your point? Letting an Orwellian police state spring up like a poisonous snake? I think not.”
Precisely. Keith Alexander has recently reiterated his position that “it is in the nation’s best interest to put all the phone records into a lockbox that we can search when the nation needs it.” And at this present moment the NSA is storing your online data for at least one year.
Mark Landler of the New York Times has declared a few days ago that Obama has had a deeply “frustrating private correspondence with the leaders of Iran,” leaving the impression that Washington has always wanted peaceful dialogue and has reached out to Iran.
The simple fact is that it is the opposite! Iran has always reached out to the U.S. Even after the 9/11 attack, Iran sent his deep sympathies to Bush and agreed to fight terrorism. But Bush, in his tyrannical mode, rejected Iran’s proposals.
Moreover, Obama, in some instances, has tried to deal with Iran in a more respectful manner. But the Israeli regime has always tried to tell him what to say and what not to say. In other words, they got him handcuffed.
Even before Rouhani called Obama recently, White House National Security Advisor Susan Rice “informed her Israeli counterpart Yaakov Amidror Friday of the planned telephone conversation U.S. President Barack Obama was to hold with Iranian President Hassan Rohani and then informed him of its contents after it had taken place.”
The United States has to send tell Israel contents of a dialogue between Washington and Iran! That is power. Netanyahu responded by saying that the Iran deal is a trap. Netanyahu declares,
“Just like North Korea before it, Iran professes to seemingly peaceful intentions; it talks the talk of nonproliferation while seeking to ease sanctions and buy more time for its nuclear program.”
As soon as the two Zionist talking heads met in Washington, Netanyahu asked Obama to threaten Iran even more. And he did. Netanyahu, in return, was pleased with Obama’s threatening manner.
Netanyahu went even further to declare that Hourani is “a wolf in sheep’s clothing” who does have a “charm offensive.” As Daniel Levy of European Council on Foreign Relations has put it,
“Netanyahu is signaling that there is no realistic deal that would be acceptable to Israel. For instance, a consensus exists among experts and Western officials that Iran’s right to enrich uranium — in a limited manner and under international supervision — for its civilian nuclear energy program will be a necessary part of any agreement. Netanyahu rejects this.”
Even before Netanyahu and Obama met, Simon Peres was already sounding the alarming, saying things like “all options are on the table.” Yet the vast majority of Americans—76 percent of them—would prefer direct talks with Iran.
In all honesty, how does this man sleep at night with all his lies and deceptions under his pajamas? Israel does not even sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty, but the same regime is dictating that this or that nation should be sanctioned.
Moreover, the Zionist regime inexorably produced massive death in the Middle East, and it seems that every month they need more blood from the goyim for their bar-mitzvah rituals.
Just last month alone, 900 civilians were slaughtered in Iraq, a country where the neo-Bolsheviks have already established their Jewish heaven on earth. Widespread torture and inhumane behavior continue to be the norm in Libya, where the neo-Bolsheviks made their visit in 2011.
This year alone, 5,740 people have already lost their lives in that country. Last July, 1,000 people lost their lives in the same country. It is almost the same situation in Afghanistan, where thousands upon thousands of civilians have lost their lives. As a result, people are fleeing those countries by the thousands. We see the same thing in Syria, where it has been reported that more than 115,000 people have lost their lives. The war has also produced a form of “sexual jihad.”
What is even more interesting is that the neo-Bolsheviks in America are currently denouncing Hasan Hourani for his cogent essay.Jeffrey Goldberg for example propounds that Hourani “is attempting to charm the pants off the United Nations, President Barack Obama, world Jewry and Charlie Rose” by saying nice things but doing something else in secret. Brian Williams of NBC propounded the same thing.
Golberg has five reasons as to why we should not take Hourani seriously, but none of those reasons is compatible with the Israeli nuclear warheads programs.
Golberg asserts that Rouhani cannot be taken seriously because Rouhani said 1) he “will not even talk about suspending uranium enrichment; 2) Hourani seems to be a moderate, but that’s what makes him so dangerous; 3)Rouhani wants to pursue nuclear weapons because, according to Goldberg, “it’s in the best interest of Iran’s rulers”; 4) Iran lies about its nuclear program when it declares that it is “un-islamic.”
Goldberg asserts, “mass murder of innocent people is also prohibited by Islam, but Khamenei’s government engages in this practice through its support for Hezbollah and Bashar al-Assad in Syria, among others. The regime also kills many people directly, of course, including peacefully protesting Iranians.”
And finally, Goldberg declares that “the supreme leader is, in fact, the nuclear program’s chief backer.”
In short, The Zionist regime both in Israel and in America is doing the same thing that the Pharisees did in the first century: they are pushing the goyim to do all their dirty work and, as a result, absolve themselves from any responsibility.
After all, did Rabbi Ovadia Yosef declare that “Goyim were born only to serve us [Jews]”? Didn’t he say that “you must send missiles to them and annihilate them”? Didn’t William Kristol say that Obama “is a born-again neocon”? Didn’t Jewish historian Yuri Slezkine of the University of California declare that this is “The Jewish Century”?
“I WOULD CLOSE DOWN THE NEWS BUREAUS OF THE NETWORKS AND LET’S START ALL OVER, TABULA RASA. THE MAJORS, NBCS, ABCS, THEY WON’T LIKE THIS – JUST DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT, DO SOMETHING THAT GETS PEOPLE MAD AT YOU, THAT’S WHAT WE’RE SUPPOSED TO BE DOING.”
This is a sad story but Hersh could not flesh out the fact that the news media is largely a Jewish town. I am sure that Hersh knows that Hollywood, which makes a mockery out of any sacrilegious things in movies such as Sweetwater Vengeance (they have yet to ridicule the Talmud in those movies), is also a Jewish empire.
GOLDMAN SACHS AND THE REST OF US
Lloyd-BlankfeinHere’s an interesting thing: the oligarchs think that we have not given monstrous companies such as Goldman Sachs enough credit. Listen to this message by a self-proclaimed Ayn Rand devotee:
“Imagine the effect on our culture, particularly on the young, if the kind of fame and adulation bathing Lady Gaga attached to the more notable achievements of say, Warren Buffett.
Or if the moral praise showered on Mother Teresa went to someone like Lloyd Blankfein, who, in guiding Goldman Sachs toward billions in profits, has done infinitely more for mankind.
“(Since profit is the market value of the product minus the market value of factors used, profit represents the value created.) Instead, we live in a culture where Goldman Sachs is smeared as “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity. . .”
Matt Taibbi, who is not even a Christian, was shocked: “What a world we live in, where Mother Teresa wins more moral praise than Lloyd Blankfein! Who can bear living in a society where such a thing is possible? Quel horreur!”
TAIBBI CONTINUED TO SAY, “FROM TECH STOCKS TO HIGH GAS PRICES, GOLDMAN SACHS HAS ENGINEERED EVERY MAJOR MARKET MANIPULATION SINCE THE GREAT DEPRESSION — AND THEY’RE ABOUT TO DO IT AGAIN.” TAIBBI IS RIGHT.
Goldman Sachs, the Jewish banking and securities firm, came close to being shut down in 2010, but they cleared the issue by paying $550 million to settle their fraud case. It is well known that Goldman Sachs was implicated in a sex trafficking scandal with Backpage.com—the biggest one in the United States. Taibbi of Rolling Stone wrote in 2010:
“The first thing you need to know about Goldman Sachs is that it’s everywhere. The world’s most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.”
People who ought to be in jailed.
So far, only Madoff got what he deserved.
Former Goldman Sachs vice president Greg Smith, a Jew himself, quit in 2012 after twelve years because he finally had the guts to say that the firm does not serve people but serves what the New Testament calls Mammon.
Smith declared that in order to get promoted in the company, you have to persuade “your clients to invest in the stocks or other products that we are trying to get rid of because they are not seen as having a lot of potential profit…Get your clients—some of whom are sophisticated, and some of whom aren’t—to trade whatever will bring the biggest profit to Goldman. Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t like selling my clients a product that is wrong for them.”
“I attend derivative sales meetings where not one single minute is spent asking questions about how we can help clients. It’s purely about how we can make the most possible money off of them.
“If you were an alien from Mars and sat in on one of these meetings, you would believe that a client’s success or progress was not part of the thought process at all. It makes me ill how callously people talk about ripping their clients off. Over the last 12 months I have seen five different managing directors refer to their own clients as ‘muppets,’ sometimes over internal e-mail.”
Smith’s defection caused a lot of damage to the company, for right after his article appeared in the New York Times, Goldman Sachs’ shares dropped 3.4 percent, costing the company $2.15 billion.
While this move prompted some to say that Smith committed career suicide, he is a courageous man, and others have praised his honesty and boldness. Yet Smith has not been the only whistleblower; accusations against Goldman Sachs were already made in 2011 when it was discovered that Goldman Sachs was “exploiting”clients.
But despite the Zionist political power over us, Americans are waking up and beginning to see that they have been lied to. In addition, more and more neoconservative think tanks are beginning to be exposed as hoaxes and propaganda machines. The Elizabeth O’Bagy story is a classic case in point.
The legendary O’Bagy, who served as an analyst for the neoconservative Institute for the Study of War (headed by Jewish neocon Kimberly Kagan) and who was a frequent guest in the Zionist media, kept telling the entire world that she was a Ph.D. student at Georgetown University.
There was one problem: Georgetown had no record of O’Bagy. Once the world knew that she was a joke, the Institute fired her. Here’s the kicker: O’Bagy has been hired by John McCain as a legislative assistant. McCain declared:
“Elizabeth is a talented researcher, and I have been very impressed by her knowledge and analysis in multiple briefings over the last year.”
What probably brought O’Bagy to McCain’s attention was that she had close contacts with Syrian rebel/terrorist organizations and
“her work became widely cited by high-profile figures, including Senator John McCain.
“In a lengthy Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing with Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, and General Martin Dempsey, McCain cited ‘Dr. O’Bagy’ extensively, quoting her Wall Street Journal op-ed, in which she argued, ‘the war in Syria is not being waged entirely or even predominately by dangerous Islamists and al-Qaida die-hards.’
“Indeed, the moderate nature of the Syrian rebels is a trope of O’Bagy’s reports for ISW just as it has been in McCain’s calls on the White House to arm the Syrian rebels. It is said that O’Bagy even orchestrated McCain’s trip to Syria to visit rebel commanders.”
As Ryan Evans of the National Interest rightly puts it,
“Still, we have to give Senator McCain some credit for his consistency. For a few years now, his view of the world has been largely fictional. At least he now employs an effective specialist in foreign-policy fictions.”
Evans is right. In response to McCain’s article on Putin, Russian politician Dmitry Peskov declared that McCain’s piece is “not intelligent.” He continued to say that
“McCain presents himself as a pro-Russian politician, because he is supposed to support the interests of the people against the oppressing authorities.
“This point is so naïve, and it’s so something from the Cold War propaganda arsenal, that it’s even difficult to explain, why the senator of the USA has such primitive thoughts.”
Glenn Greenwald would probably call that “herd behavior.”
McCain is wrapped around “primitive thoughts” because the neo-Bolshevik/Zionist/neoconservative dream is primitive in its ideological and political form. Those “primitive thoughts” want to drag the world to the Zionist guillotine where millions upon millions will be screaming for their lives like slaughtered chickens.
Perhaps it is time to put those Zionists out of jobs. Perhaps it is time to put them on trial for their crimes against humanity. Let the trial begin!
 Quoted in Noam Sheizaf, “Glenn Greenwald to Haaretz: Why Whistleblower Snowden Came to Me,” Haaretz, September 26, 2013.
 Glenn Greenwald, “UK Detention of Reprieve Activist Consistent with NSA’s View of Drone Opponents as ‘Threats’ and ‘Adversaries,’” Guardian, September 25, 2013.
 James Risen, “N.S.A. Gathers Data on Social Connections of U.S. Citizens,” NY Times, September 28, 2013; David Storey, “The NSA Is Gathering Social-Networking Data on Americans to Map Behavior,” Business Insider, September 28, 2013.
 Gene Healy, “‘No Place to Hide’ from NSA, Then or Now,” CATO Institute, September 30, 2013.
 Paul Lewis, “NSA Employee Spied on Nine Women Without Detection, Internal File Shows,” Guardian, September 27, 2013.
 Charlie Savage, “Senators Push to Preserve N.S.A. Phone Surveillance, NY Times, September 26, 2013.
 Alice Philipson, “David Cameron: We Must Preserve the Memory of the Holocaust,” The Telegraph, September 17, 2013.
 “Up to 146 Million Risk Poverty if EU’s Austerity Drags On,” European Union Times, September 24, 2013.
 Andrew Bacevich, Breach of Trust: How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their Country (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2013), 43.
 Ibid., 41.
 Monica Potts, “What’s Killing Poor White Women?,” American Prospect, September 3, 2013.
 Jackie Calmes and Jonathan Weisman, “Obama Summons Congressional Leaders to White House,” NY Times, October 2, 2013.
 Matt Taibbi, “Looting the Pension Funds,” Rolling Stone, September 26, 2013.
 Dave Bernard, “Why Retirement Should Scare You,” U.S. News and World Report, September 27, 2013.
 Joe Weisenthal, “Markets Are Crumbing All Around The World as Government Shutdown Gets Close,” Business Insider, September 30, 2013; “This Latest European Economic Data Doesn’t Look So Good,” Business Insider, October 1, 2013.
 “Nearly 5 Million People Unemployed in Spain,” European Union Times, October 2, 2013.
 Taibbi, “Looting the Pension Funds,” Rolling Stone, September 26, 2013.
 Matt Taibbi, “Gangster Bankers: Too Big to Jail,” Rolling Stone, February 14, 2013.
 Ann Jones and Tom Engelhardt, “The Forgotten War,” Antiwar.com, October 2, 2013.
 “Israel: New Unlawful West Bank Demolitions,” Humans Right Watch, September 26, 2013.
 “Seymour Hersh on Obama, NSA and the ‘Pathetic’ American Media,” Guardian, September 27, 2013.
 Eric Schmitt and Michael S. Schmidt, “Qaeda Plot Leak Has Undermined U.S. Intelligence,” NY Times, September 29, 2013.
 Stephen F. Hayes, “Leak of Zawahiri Intercepts Damages U.S. Security,” Weekly Standard, August 5, 2013.
 Greg Miller, “CIA Ramping Up Covert Training Program for Moderate Syrian Rebels,” Washington Post, October 2, 2013.
 Shaun Waterman, “NSA Chief’s Admission of Misleading Numbers Adds to Obama Administration Blunders,” Washington Times, October 2, 2013.
 Paul Lewis, “NSA Chief Admits Agency Tracked US Cell Phone Locations in Secret Tests,” Guardian, October 2, 2013.
 chmidt, “Qaeda Plot Leak Has Undermined U.S. Intelligence,” NY Times, September 29, 2013.
 Quoted in Paige Lavender, “Keith Alexander: In Best Interest of U.S. to ‘Put All the Phone Records’ into a Searchable ‘Lockbox,’” Huffington Post, September 26, 2013.
 James Ball, “NSA Stores metadata of Millions of Web Users for Up to a Year, Secret Files Show,” Guardian, September 30, 2013.
 Ramzy Baroud, New Times Fiction: On Obama’s Letter to Rouhani,” Antiwar.com, September 25, 2013.
 See for example Trita Parsi, Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran, and the United States (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007).
 See again Trita Parsi, A Single Roll of Dice: Obama’s Diplomacy with Iran (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011).
 Barak Ravid, “Israel Was Informed of Obama-Rohani Call in Advance, Briefed After,” Haaretz, September 28, 2013.
 Mark Landler, “Netanyahu Is Said to View Iran Deal as a Possible Trap,” NY Times, September 22, 2013.
 “Transcript of Remarks Made by Obama and Netanyahu after Bilateral Meeting,” Haaretz, September 30, 2013.
 Quoted in Edith M. Lederer, “Netanyahu: Israel Won’t Let Iran Get Nuclear Arms,” The State (South Carolina), October 1, 2013.
 Daniel Levy, “Maximum Bibi,” Foreign Policy, September 27, 2013.
 Toby Sterling, “Israel’s President Peres: All Options Open on Iran,” Huffington Post, September 30, 2013.
 “Iraq Violence Kills nearly 900 in September, Gunmen Storm Police Station,” Chicago Tribune, October 1, 2013.
 “Iraq Violence Kills nearly 900 in September, Gunmen Storm Police Station,” Chicago Tribune, October 1, 2013.
 Jones and Engelhardt, “The Forgotten War,” Antiwar.com, October 2, 2013.
 Adiv Sterman, “Over 115,000 Syrians Reported Killed in Conflict,” Times of Israel, October 1, 2013; http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/10/01/more-than-115000-killed-in-syria-war-monitor/; http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/10/01/uk-syria-crisis-toll-idUKBRE9900KD20131001; http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/10/01/more-than-115000-people-have-been-killed-in-syrias-civil-war/.
 “‘Sexual Jihad’ in Syria Cause Rise in Pregnancy Among Tunisian Women, Lawmaker Says,” Huffington Post, September 21, 2013.
 Jeffrey Goldberg, “Five Reasons Not to Trust Iran on Nukes,” Bloomberg, September 24, 2013.
 Glenn Greenwald, “Brian Williams’ Iran Propaganda,” Guardian, September 29, 2013.
 Goldberg, “Five Reasons Not to Trust Iran on Nukes,” Bloomberg, September 24, 2013
 Quoted in Paul R. Pillar, “A Culture of Hatred in Israel,” National Interest, August 21, 2012.
 Yuri Slezkine, The Jewish Century (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004).
 “Seymour Hersh on Obama, NSA and the ‘Pathetic’ American Media,” Guardian, September 27, 2013.
 See for example “Jews DO Control the Media,” Times of Israel, July 1, 2012; Joel Stein, “How Jewish Is Hollywood?,” LA Times, December 19, 2008; http://www.realjewnews.com/?p=194.
 See for example Neal Gabler, An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood (New York: Anchor Books, 1989).
 Quoted in Matt Taibbi, “Forbes Calls Goldman CEO Holier Than Mother Teresa,” Rolling Stone, September 20, 2013.
 Matt Taibbi, “The Great American Bubble Machine,” Rolling Stone, July 9, 2009.
 Sewell Chan and Louise Story, “Goldman Pays $550 Million to Settle Fraud Case,” NY Times, July 15, 2010; Zachary A. Goldfarb, “Goldman Sachs to Pay Record Settlement in Fraud Suit, Change Business Practices,” Washington Post, July 16, 2010.
 Nicholas D. Kristof, “Financiers and Sex Trafficking,” NY Times, March 31, 2012; “Goldman Sachs Sex Trafficking Controversy: Company Sells Stake In Village Voice Media,” Huffington Post, April 1, 2012.
 Matt Taibbi, “The Great American Bubble Machine,” Rolling Stone, April 5, 2010.
 Greg Smith, “Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs,” NY Times, March 14, 2012.
 Bhaskar Prasad, “Goldman Sachs Loses $2.15 Billion of Its Market Value,” International Business Times, March 15, 2012.
 Susan Adams, “Did Greg Smith Commit Career Sucide?,” Forbes, March 15, 2012.
 “Moral Bankruptcy on Wall Street,” National Interest, March 14, 2012; Matt Taibbi, “On Goldman Executive Greg Smith’s Brave Departure,” Rolling Stones, March 14, 2012; Larry Elliott, “Why Greg Smith Was Right about Goldman Sachs,” Guardian, March 15, 2012.
 Goldman Sachs Accused of Fooling in Scathing Senate Report,” Guardian, April 14, 2011; Dominic Rushe, “Goldman Sachs Accused of Misleading U.S. Congress in Damning Report,” Guardian, April 14, 2012.
 “Poll: Americans Have Negative View of Obama on Syria, Iran,” CBS News, September 24, 2013.
 Gordon Lubold, “Exclusive: McCain Hires Controversial Syria Analyst Elizabeth O’Bagy,” Foreign Policy, September 27, 2013.
 Ryan Evans, “Failing Upward: Elizabeth O’Bagy’s New Gig with McCain,” National Interest, September 27, 2013.
 Quoted in “Russia Reacts to McCain’s Column: ‘Why Senator’s Thoughts Are So Primitive?,’” European Union Times, September 20, 2013.
 Glenn Greenwald, “Reddit Q-and-A on NSA Reporting,” Guardian, October 1, 2013.
ProtectUSA1st October 7, 2013 at 11:48 pm
Mr. Alexis, excellent article.
——-John McCain is a joke. At a Senate Hearing while the whole world was watching, he told General Martin Dempsey, the Chief of Staff, General I know more than you know about Syria, which means he was comparing the General to Elizabeth O’Bagy, that was simply the saddest day for USA.
——-When the Edward Snowden story broke out, some of us were mad thinking that it might weaken NSA’s work in capturing Israelis & Israeli-Firsters Spies in USA.
——-Then we found out that NSA for years has been sharing all its files with Israel. Well, we thanked Mr. Snowden for his great expose of the corrupt USA politicians who approved the sharing of NSA files with Israel “The Evil Empire” in the first place.
Martin Maloney October 3, 2013 at 11:19 pm
“In all honesty, how does this man sleep at night with all his lies and deceptions under his pajamas?”
To mangle a line from the latest Jason Statham action flick, it’s not because they don’t drink coffee after 8 PM.
These people are not like us. They sleep just fine, and not in spite of who they are and what they do, but because of it. They are very well pleased with themselves.
maria October 3, 2013 at 3:16 pm
Thank you Mr.Jonas. It’s like an unstoppable tidal wave is going over the USA. In the process we are dragging other countries along. A financial tidal wave what will cause unrest, destruction and death. Is there anyone out there who is capable of stopping this.
Where do you start?
Excalibur October 3, 2013 at 3:01 pm
Let the trial begin indeed. Great work once again Jonas.
DaveE October 3, 2013 at 8:25 am
And now we all know why the Jews in Hollywood write such great mobster / gangster flicks so effortlessly. It’s like normal people writing about their jobs, their schools, the families or daily routines.
Crime comes as naturally to these people as breathing.
Great work once again, Jonas. You’re writing REAL LIFE mobster scripts that are FAR better than anything Hollywood could come up with and you do it with REAL sources. Quite amazing.
Chandler October 3, 2013 at 6:50 am
The late great United States has become the biggest hypocrite bully on the face of the earth. Allowing the NSA to do what they do, when it could easily be shutdown with a signature. All the equipment needs to be destroyed, and the business of cheap snooping shut down.
This country under Bush/Clinton/Bush/Oblunder has become disrespectful towards its citizenry, immoral, unethical when taking illegal actions. What happened to this great country?
When your own government becomes the country’s own worst enemy it is difficult to defend it. Subversion from within is possibly the most threatening and dangerous enemy of its good-hearted citizens who have done so much for both the country and the world.
Every NSA employee needs to stop and truly think about what they are doing to this nation. We can do without the government as it is today, but the world without the American people is a very macabre place.
Christina October 3, 2013 at 7:36 am
“What happened to this great country?”
It got infiltrated and taken over by Rothschild in 1913 (Federal Reserve Bank) 100 years ago.
Grampah October 3, 2013 at 5:09 am
Allesandro October 3, 2013 at 3:00 am
Jonas, this is an outstanding piece, thank you.
If the President of the U.S. does NOT have privacy, away from the prying eyes and ears of Israel, then who is safe? In every era, when “Jews” are in ascendancy, the rest of Humanity gets degraded, destroyed and suffers immensely. They are currently running, and influencing our direction more than any other group, and look at the mess that we and the rest of the world are in.
As a side NOTE: The “Black Boxes” in the planes that hit the WTC Towers 1 and 2, were recovered from the WTC site (Jesse Ventura’s show) and have been available for analysis. This might be a good focal point, that is understandable to the vast majority of Americans, and global citizens from countries all around the World. What could be simpler than to start a campaign to get the “Black Boxes” into the public domain and analyzed by top people from around the world?
kitholz October 7, 2013 at 1:11 am
Americans are in love with their Jews! Sorry! Don’t lament. Just pay more for Israel.
Comments are closed.
II. On NSA Leaks, It’s the Government Versus the People
By John Glaser
Despite continuing efforts to politicize the revelations about the NSA’s domestic spying programs, the leaks from whistleblower Edward Snowden transcend America’s trivial two-party politics. This isn’t Republicans versus Democrats. It’s the government versus the people.
In early 2002, President George W. Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to spy on the electronic communications of Americans without first getting court approval. This was a direct violation of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which required the government to obtain a warrant showing probable cause that their target was an agent of a foreign power or terrorist organization.
The FISA Amendments Act of 2008, renewed in 2012 with enthusiastic support from the Obama administration, retroactively legalized much of the Bush administration’s illegal domestic spying program by authorizing broad, warrantless surveillance of Americans’ international communications, largely in secret.
But even the loose standards set by the FISA Amendments Act, writes Julian Sanchez, a research fellow at the Cato Institute, were “almost immediately misused, resulting in ‘significant and systemic’ overcollection of Americans’ purely domestic communications.”
Snowden’s leaks have substantiated that the NSA not only fails to get individualized warrants, but that it collects, in bulk, the call data of virtually all Americans and stores the content of our Internet activities, including emails, file transfers, instant messages and browsing histories.
Back when revelations about NSA spying under Bush came to light, Republicans largely stood behind their president. Some Democrats are now doing the same for Obama. But there is a growing bipartisan opposition to the sweeping surveillance powers of the intelligence agencies in the aftermath of Snowden’s leaks.
In Congress, you have Democrats like Sen. Ron Wyden and Sen. Mark Udall fiercely opposed, and Republicans like Sen. Rand Paul and Rep. Justin Amash join them.
Conservative Fox News pundit Bill O’Reilly called the NSA’s dragnet snooping on Americans “a massive intrusion” that is “flat out unconstitutional.” The equally hawkish talk radio host Laura Ingraham lamented, “All our records are in the hands of the government,” and expressed regret for not paying closer attention to civil libertarian objections to the Patriot Act.
This bipartisan opposition to NSA overreach represents a groping towards acknowledging an historic precept, that governments have always considered their own populations their greatest enemy.
One revealing aspect of all this is that the government has charged Edward Snowden with espionage. And as former Texas Congressman Ron Paul noted this week, “espionage means giving secret or classified information to the enemy.”
“Since Snowden shared information with the American people, his indictment for espionage could reveal (or confirm) that the U.S. Government views you and me as the enemy,” Paul added.
Indeed, the NSA’s bulk collection of virtually all Americans call data and Internet activity is “best suited for gathering information on law-abiding citizens,” not members of al-Qaeda, writes Leonid Bershidsky at Bloomberg News.
This goes back in history. In the 1970s, an enormous domestic surveillance apparatus was revealed that brazenly violated the law and Americans’ constitutional rights.
“The Central Intelligence Agency, directly violating its charter, conducted a massive, illegal domestic intelligence operation during the Nixon Administration against the antiwar movement and other dissident groups in the United States,” New York Times journalist Seymour Hersh reported in 1974.
Hersh also uncovered “dozens of other illegal activities by members of the CIA inside the United States, beginning in the nineteen-fifties, including break-ins, wiretapping and the surreptitious inspection of mail.”
The 1975 Church Committee discovered that the NSA, in a program begun in 1947, had been monitoring Americans’ telegram messages at a rate of 150,000 per month.
Compare that with NSA whistleblower William Binney’s recent estimate that the intelligence community has assembled “20 trillion transactions about U.S. citizens with other U.S. citizens.”
The Church Committee ultimately led to reforms meant to restrict the government’s ability to so systematically violate the rights and privacy of Americans, but those reforms have essentially been gutted since 9/11.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), for example, was established following the 9/11 attacks and it is nothing more than a massive and intrusive bureaucracy.
In 2012, a Senate investigation found that DHS’s intelligence sharing hubs, called fusion centers, gobbled up billions of dollars but disrupted no actual terrorist plots and mostly targeted Americans with no connection to terrorism.
Instead, the fusion centers were “circulating information about Ron Paul supporters, the ACLU, activists on both sides of the abortion debate, war protesters and advocates of gun rights,” the AP reported.
Do you fit into any of those categories? Well, that’s whom the government is really targeting, almost exclusively in the shadows.
“I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations,” James Madison once warned.
America’s Founders understood the greatest threat to the people is their own government. And until transparency and the Bill of Rights are restored, their prescience will become increasingly for naught.
III. SKYNET IS A REAL NSA PROGRAM THAT MAY BE TARGETING INNOCENT PEOPLE
POSTED BY MATTHEW HART ON FEBRUARY 16, 2016 SHARE: TWITTER FACEBOOK GOOGLE+ REDDIT EMAIL
In 2013, Edward Snowden released a tidal wave of classified NSA documents into the public sphere before fleeing the U.S. and certain prosecution. Among the classified information revealed by Snowden were details of an NSA program entitled “SKYNET” (really), which aims to target potential terrorists using metadata and machine learning algorithms. Now, according to an interview between data scientist and executive director of the Human Rights Data Analysis Group, Patrick Ball, and tech news site Ars Technica, the SKYNET program may be targeting thousands of innocent people.
First of all—since this is Nerdist—the differences between the NSA’s SKYNET and the Skynet from the Terminator franchise need to be made clear. In the Terminator films, Skynet is a system of computers used to control military machines like stealth bombers, rendering humans obsolete in terms of selecting enemy targets and executing enemy attacks. After Skynet gains full autonomous control over military machines, it becomes self-aware. Then, when humans try to pull the plug on it, it “fights back,” instigating a nuclear war that wipes out much of humanity.
The NSA’s SKYNET is, obviously, not self-aware. Nor is it clear from Ball’s interview with Ars Technica whether it is a “closed loop” system that selects terrorist targets and kills them. What is certain is that SKYNET collects an enormous amount of metadata on millions of people in Pakistan (no other countries were mentioned in the interview), and uses that metadata to decide who is and who isn’t a terrorist.
SKYNET targets potential terrorists in much the same way Google or Facebook targets potential buyers with ads. For example, Facebook will look at your likes, who you’ve posted pictures with, what you’ve written in posts, etc., to decide that you may like product X, and will then advertise product X in your newsfeed. SKYNET, on the other hand, looks at Pakistani people’s locations, where they’ve been, who they’ve spoken to on the phone, etc. to decide if they should be deemed a terrorist.
According to Ball, SKYNET is programmed to find terrorists based on “true terrorist” profiles that have been fed into its “decision forest.” NSA programmers give SKYNET examples of people they know to be terrorists, then command SKYNET to find people with similar patterns of behavior.
There seems to be two major problems with SKYNET and its methods however; one specific and near-term, the other, general and long-term.
The specific near-term problem is that SKYNET, according to Ball, has not been programmed appropriately to find “true terrorists.” He says that “there are very few ‘known terrorists’ to use to train and test [SKYNET]” and he says that “If [the NSA is] using the same records to train the model as they are using to test the model, their assessment of the fit is completely bullshit.” This means SKYNET will inevitably turn up false positives — people who have been falsely deemed terrorists. And according to NSA SKYNET documents released by the Intercept, the rate of false positives could be as high as .18% or as low as .008%. But even taking the lower number, if everyone was profiled, .008% of the Pakistani population is still 15,000 people.
The more general, long-term problem, is what the Terminator films get at: a “closed loop” system that not only selects terrorist targets, but also kills them based on its own decisions. If this becomes the case, then there would be a true (non-sentient) Skynet. A computer system that is judge, jury, and executioner.
Even if a closed-loop SKYNET never targeted an innocent person, which seems impossible, the idea of turning over the reins to a machine sounds terrifying to say the least. And while this may never happen, it turns out that the NSA is already working on a program very similar to Skynet called MonsterMind, which would retaliate against enemy attacks automatically. You can read more about here.
What do you think about SKYNET and the intersection of military machines and AI? Let us know in the comments section below.
IV. Tracking: The NSA’s Secret Surveillance Programs
We’re tracking–and contextualizing–the ongoing news surrounding Edward Snowden and the NSA’s secret surveillance of phone calls and Internet communications.
Tracking: The NSA’s Secret Surveillance Programs
BY ADDY DUGDALELONG READ
Where Next For Edward Snowden?
NSA Cramping Your Style? Use These Easy Encryption Solutions
What It’s Like To Be An NSA Cyberspy
How The NSA Monitors America’s Phone Traffic
Silicon Valley And The Intelligence Agencies
NSA Reportedly Collects User Data From Facebook, Yahoo, Apple, And Others
The National Security Agency (NSA) and America’s other intelligence agencies suddenly lost control of their biggest open secret: The U.S. government is monitoring the Internet and telephone communications. A series of revelations spurred by leaker Edward Snowden forced the NSA to admit to a secret surveillance regime that includes the mass collection of phone and web metadata. In the latest disclosure, the European Union found substantial evidence that the NSA was spying on them.
Snowden is facing an unclear future as he lives in the transit zone of Sheremetyevo Airport, new leaks are revealing how the NSA spies on American citizens, and tech companies are in revolt for their own reasons. These are interesting times.
We’re tracking–and explaining–news about this story as it unfolds.
5:05 p.m., 07/08/13
THE GUARDIAN AIRS NEW, MONTH-OLD EDWARD SNOWDEN INTERVIEW
A new Ed Snowden interview came out this afternoon–Glenn Greenwald and documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras spoke with Snowden in Hong Kong… on June 6. Snowden discusses the U.S. government’s monitoring of domestic and foreign internet traffic in the video.
So why did The Guardian release the interview more than a month after it was recorded? Pageviews. Releasing the news in controlled bursts guarantees site traffic, and maximizes the site’s gains from the ongoing NSA scandal.
However, Buzzfeed’s Jacob Fischler found that The Guardian cut key parts of the interview from the original tape:
The government will follow a simple playbook. I think they will try to destroy my credibility, they’ll attack me personally and they will try to make an example out of me in any way they can to discourage others from coming forward when they find other things they think the government is improperly classifying information. My primary fear is that the government is going to come after my family, they are going to exercise warrants against any location I’ve ever used an electronic device, every friend I’ve ever visited at home, my partner who’s travelled with me throughout the world. My mother, my father — anyone I have (inaudible) with they’ll attack them in lieu of me because they can’t reach me and I think that’s incredibly wrong. But I think they’ll do what they can do send a message that people shouldn’t do this unless they want repercussions.
The Guardian also has additional interview footage with Snowden that has not yet been released.
5:00 p.m., 07/08/13
HOW THE U.S. GOVERNMENT SNOOPS ON THE WORLD’S FIBER-OPTIC CABLES
While everyone in the United States was celebrating the July 4 weekend, the Washington Post‘s Craig Timberg and Ellen Nakashimi wrote a must-see story detailing how the U.S. government spies on global communications. The article, which builds on the NSA revelations, gives previously unreleased details of America’s surveillance regime:
The agreements, whose main purpose is to secure the U.S. telecommunications networks against foreign spying and other actions that could harm national security, do not authorize surveillance. But they ensure that when U.S. government agencies seek access to the massive amounts of data flowing through their networks, the companies have systems in place to provide it securely, say people familiar with the deals.
Negotiating leverage has come from a seemingly mundane government power: the authority of the Federal Communications Commission to approve cable licenses.
9:15 am, 07/08/13
SNOWDEN’S ASYLUM OPTIONS: VENEZUELA, NICARAGUA, BOLIVIA
Once Edward Snowden leaves the dubious charms of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport, he has multiple options for his next destination. Following an announcement by Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro on Friday that his country would grant asylum to Snowden if requested, Nicaragua and Bolivia quickly filed suit. Of course, Bolivian President Evo Morales’ plane was searched for Snowden last week by Austrian authorities–but the Where’s Waldo-like whistleblower wasn’t there.
The Guardian has the details on Snowden’s improved prospects, but does not describe the diplomatic negotiations surrounding his transfer in depth. Despite the fact that Snowden began as an independent whistleblower of NSA surveillance programs, he has become a pawn (and a liability) for security services in the United States, China, and Russia. While many regimes around the world are happy to offer Snowden lip service because he exposed the perceived hypocrisy of the United States government, his presence also draws attention to the unseemly fact that those regimes also engage in illicit monitoring and surveillance of their citizens.
8:00 am, 07/08/13
NSA REJECTS EVERY FOIA REQUEST FROM U.S. CITIZENS
A response sent by the NSA to a man who requested information on what data had been gathered on him, implies that the agency is routinely refusing all Freedom Of Information Act requests. The Tikkun Daily Blog published excerpts from the letter that Clayton Seymour of Ohio received, telling him his request had been turned down:
Any positive or negative response on a request-by-request basis would allow our adversaries to accumulate information and draw conclusions about NSA’s technical capabilities, sources and methods. Our adversaries are likely to evaluate all public responses related to these programs.
Your request is denied because of the fact of the existence or non-existence of responsive records is a currently and properly classified matter in accordance with Executive Order 13526 as set forth in Subparagraph (c) of Section 1.4.
The NSA, notes Tikkun’s David Harris-Gershon, “is classifying every single bit of data it receives from ordinary American citizens based on the premise that it has been gathered covertly.”
9:25 am, 07/03/13
CRYPTOME TWEETS PGP MESSAGES TO EDWARD SNOWDEN, WIKILEAKS
Granddaddy of all leak sites Cryptome tweeted a long series of PGP messages to Edward Snowden and several other parties last night in a highly unusual move. Hours after the PGP messages were tweeted, along with a link to a Pastebin page, Cryptome’s 4,000 follower-strong Twitter feed was wiped clean. Metadata posted to Twitter clearly identified some recipients–according to Cryptocat’s Nadim Kobeissi, they were sent to Edward Snowden, Birgitta Jonsdottir, Bradley Manning, and three unknown parties. Jonsdottir is an Icelandic parliamentarian with close ties to WikiLeaks.
The decision to send the messages via Twitter is highly unusual for Cryptome, which has a long history of surveillance by law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Posting the encrypted messages via Twitter, on a public feed followed by intelligence agencies, journalists, and a cypherpunk community that largely discusses things in open forums is puzzling to say the least.
So our question to readers–why did Cryptome suddenly turn into a full-on numbers station?
8:00 am, 07/03/13
BOLIVIAN PRESIDENT’S PLANE REPORTED AS NOW FLYING OVER SPAIN
According to live flight tracking data from website Flightradar24.com the diplomatic aircraft FAB-001 that’s carrying the Bolivian president Evo Morales is now transiting Spanish airspace. If the website’s data is accurate the plane also overflew a corner of Italy and France, and is seemingly set to travel through Portuguese airspace before it sets off on its trans-Atlantic journey.
France, Spain, Italy, and Portugal were all earlier said to have forbidden the aircraft overflight permission–presumably on the grounds that Edward Snowden is suspected of being aboard.
5:45 am, 07/03/13
BOLIVIAN PRESIDENT’S PLANE POSSIBLY DENIED OVERFLIGHT OF FRANCE, ITALY, SPAIN, PORTUGAL
An official diplomatic aircraft carrying president Evo Morales is now confirmed as having left the airport in Vienna. But an international diplomatic scandal seems to have quickly blown up after Spain reportedly denied the aircraft the right to fly through its airspace. The ban seems to have arisen after Bolivian officials refused to allow Spanish authorities to inspect the plane–presumably to search for NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, who it was thought may have been aboard to seek asylum in Bolivia.
But the exact flight plan situation is unclear, because although president Morales is said to have talked about the Spanish overflight ban, along with other national bans, the AP is reporting that French officials have not denied the vehicle the right to fly in French airspace and that Spain has also permitted a flight.
Considering Austria’s land-locked position in Europe, a flight ban over several EU nations would severely complicate the president’s travel plans. Any flight ban of a diplomatic plane will also stir controversy, and Ecuador’s president Rafael Correa has tweeted his assertion that the moves are an affront to “our America” and called on all South American nations to respond.
Austrian officials have said that Snowden is not on the plane.
7:00 pm, 07/02/13
BOLIVIAN PRESIDENT FORCED TO LAND IN AUSTRIA
Bolivia’s government confirms that a jet carrying President Evo Morales from Moscow was forced to land in Austria over fears that Edward Snowden was aboard. Both France and Portugal forbid Morales’ crew from entering their airspace in an unprecedented move. Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca told Russia Today that “we don’t know who invited this lie, but we want to denounce to the international community this injustice with the plane of President Evo Morales.”
Choquehuanca denies Snowden is on the plane.
1:30 pm, 07/02/13
SNOWDEN WASN’T AN ORDINARY IT WORKER. HE WAS A CYBERSPY
An article in the Sunday New York Times quietly buried the revelation that Edward Snowden’s work for Booz Allen Hamilton wasn’t a simple IT position for the NSA. Instead, Scott Shane and David Sanger revealed that Snowden helped find network vulnerabilities in foreign systems for the agency:
His last job before leaking classified documents about N.S.A. surveillance, he told the news organization The Guardian, was actually “infrastructure analyst.”
It is a title that officials have carefully avoided mentioning, perhaps for fear of inviting questions about the agency’s aggressive tactics: an infrastructure analyst at the N.S.A., like a burglar casing an apartment building, looks for new ways to break into Internet and telephone traffic around the world.
That assignment helps explain how Mr. Snowden got hold of documents laying bare the top-secret capabilities of the nation’s largest intelligence agency, setting off a far-reaching political and diplomatic crisis for the Obama administration.
Our question, and it’s painfully naive–and we know that–is this: What is a contractor doing conducting crucial offensive cyberwarfare work for the NSA? Contractors have completely different chains of accountability and separate hiring processes. When did their role change from lending support work for intelligence/military cyberwarfare to actually conducting the dirty work?
11:20 am, 07/02/13
HONG KONG B-MOVIE STUDIO RELEASES EDWARD SNOWDEN: THE MOVIE
God bless the Internet and its rapid empowerment of do-it-yourself filmmakers. In an inevitable development, a low-budget Hong Kong studio made the first movie about Edward Snowden, a five minute short film called Verax. The Wall Street Journal spoke with the star, Hong Kong-based English teacher and part-time actor Andrew Cromeek–a mop-haired American who initially bore no resemblance to Snowden:
Mr. Cromeek, whose only previous acting experience was in a student film and a commercial, agreed to play the role. But with his mop of unruly hair, he needed a complete makeover.
Enter Mr. Tse, who took him to a local hair salon for a dirt-cheap 50-Hong Kong-dollar (US$6.41) haircut. Armed with a photo of Mr. Snowden, Mr. Cromeek plopped down in the barber’s chair and faced a skeptical hair stylist.
“The lady said ‘I can’t guarantee you will look like him,’ ” he says, but she worked quickly. “It took 10, 15 minutes max.”
After that, Mr. Cromeek donned eyeglasses, trimmed his beard, lightened his hair color, and had a mole applied to his neck.
“I learned a lot about makeup,” says Mr. Tse, whose girlfriend gave him a crash course in styling. “All you have to remember is concealer and foundation.”
The real Edward Snowden has at least one Hollywood fan. Oliver Stone has gone on record to offer the NSA whistleblower his support.
8:45 am, 07/02/13
BRAZIL TURNS DOWN SNOWDEN ASYLUM REQUEST
According to Reuters, Brazil has said, “No, thanks,” to Edward Snowden’s plea for asylum. A foreign ministry spokesman said that it would leave the request unanswered.
7:00 am, 07/02/13
GEORGE W. BUSH DEFENDS PRISM LEGACY
The previous incumbent of the Oval Office has revealed that he was behind the decision to start the PRISM program. Interviewed by CNN in Zambia, where he is helping to build a health clinic, the 43rd President of the United States talked about how Snowden’s deeds had undermined the security of the country.
The former President also defended Obama, saying that his successor was right to say there was a balance between privacy rights and national security. “I think there needs to be a balance, and as the president explained, there is a proper balance,” he said, adding that the PRISM monitoring program was started under his watch.
“I put that program in place to protect the country. One of the certainties was that civil liberties were guaranteed.”
6:30 am, 07/02/13
SNOWDEN WITHDRAWS APPLICATION FOR RUSSIAN VISA, WHERE NEXT?
Edward Snowden’s world just shrank in size. The NSA whistleblower has this morning pulled his visa application for Russia, following Vladimir Putin’s comments that the American programmer needs to put a stop to the leaks.
“If he wants to go somewhere and someone will take him, go ahead. If he wants to stay here, there is one condition – he must stop his work aimed at bringing harm to our American partners, as strange as that sounds coming from my mouth.”
Russia was actually just one of 21 countries considered by Snowden as his next destination, and they included Cuba, Ireland, Spain, China, Switzerland, Brazil, Germany, Poland and Venezuela.
In a twist, Ecuador, one of the original countries that said it would welcome Snowden with open arms, has done a volte-face, saying that its original comments were “a mistake.” President of the South American country, Rafael Correa, said that the mole’s travel pass was granted “without authorisation” and that it was up to Russia to give him travel documentation.
That faintly audible squeaking we can hear must be the sound of pressure being brought to bear on other countries by the U.S. State department and its various diplomatic missions worldwide.
7:10 pm, 07/01/13
U.S. MILITARY BLOCKS TROOPS FROM READING THE GUARDIAN
If a foreign newspaper has a potentially morale-sapping story, ban it. Well, that’s the U.S. military’s take on things at least. Or, well, they can say the newspapers are publishing classified information and use that as a rationale.
The Guardian‘s Spencer Ackerman reports that his paper has been blocked on military Internet networks in huge swaths of the world. Troops in Afghanistan, the Middle East, and “South Asia” (Pakistan? India? Sri Lanka?) are no longer able to access the British newspaper through military networks:
“US central command is among other DOD organizations that routinely take preventative measures to safeguard the chance of spillage of classified information on to unclassified computer networks, even if the source of the information is itself unclassified,” said US army Lt Col Steve Wollman, a spokesman for central command. “One of the purposes for preventing this spillage is to protect Centcom personnel from inadvertently amplifying disclosed but classified information.
“Additionally, classified information is not automatically declassified simply because of unauthorized disclosure,” Wollman continued.
“Classified information is prohibited from specific unclassified networks, even if the information has already been published in unclassified media that are available to the general public, such as online news organizations.”
Wollman confirmed that the block applies not only to troops in Afghanistan, but for those deployed anywhere in central command’s area of operations, which includes the Middle East, south Asia, and the command’s headquarters in Florida.
6:20 pm, 07/01/13
SNOWDEN ISSUES STATEMENT THROUGH WIKILEAKS
Edward Snowden has made a public statement through WikiLeaks; the statement is the first one from him since he left Hong Kong. The statement appears to make his alliance with WikiLeaks complete, and Snowden explicitly compared himself to Bradley Manning for the first time:
One week ago I left Hong Kong after it became clear that my freedom and safety were under threat for revealing the truth. My continued liberty has been owed to the efforts of friends new and old, family, and others who I have never met and probably never will. I trusted them with my life and they returned that trust with a faith in me for which I will always be thankful.
On Thursday, President Obama declared before the world that he would not permit any diplomatic “wheeling and dealing” over my case. Yet now it is being reported that after promising not to do so, the President ordered his Vice President to pressure the leaders of nations from which I have requested protection to deny my asylum petitions.
This kind of deception from a world leader is not justice, and neither is the extralegal penalty of exile. These are the old, bad tools of political aggression. Their purpose is to frighten, not me, but those who would come after me.
For decades the United States of America have been one of the strongest defenders of the human right to seek asylum. Sadly, this right, laid out and voted for by the U.S. in Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is now being rejected by the current government of my country. The Obama administration has now adopted the strategy of using citizenship as a weapon. Although I am convicted of nothing, it has unilaterally revoked my passport, leaving me a stateless person. Without any judicial order, the administration now seeks to stop me exercising a basic right. A right that belongs to everybody. The right to seek asylum.
In the end the Obama administration is not afraid of whistleblowers like me, Bradley Manning or Thomas Drake. We are stateless, imprisoned, or powerless. No, the Obama administration is afraid of you. It is afraid of an informed, angry public demanding the constitutional government it was promised — and it should be.
I am unbowed in my convictions and impressed at the efforts taken by so many.
Edward Joseph Snowden
Monday 1st July 2013
Snowden’s next move depends on the Russian government’s inclinations as his whistleblowing case slowly turns into an international espionage scandal.
2:00 pm, 07/01/13
SNOWDEN APPLIES FOR ASYLUM IN RUSSIA
In a move that could backfire in unforeseen ways, Edward Snowden has requested asylum in Russia. Snowden’s representative, Briton Sarah Harrison, handed over the request to a Russian Foreign Ministry official late Sunday night. The application was filed inside an office at Sheremetevo Airport’s Terminal F.
[Image: Wikimedia user Victorgrigas]
1:35 pm, 07/01/13
BLIND ITEM: WHO IS THE NSA’S SECRET CORPORATE PARTNER IN SIGNALS SPYING?
So… here’s a fun blind item. Der Spiegel reports that the NSA had a crucial corporate partner in their surveillance of Internet and telephone traffic. Any guesses on who played footsie with Fort Meade?
According to the documents, a particularly valuable partner is a company active in the U.S. and has access to information that crisscrosses America. At the same time, this company, by virtue of its contacts, offers “unique access to other telecoms and (Internet service providers).” The company is “aggressively involved in shaping traffic to run signals of interest past our monitors,” according to a secret NSA document. The cooperation has existed since 1985, the documents say.
Apparently, it’s not an isolated case, either. A further document clearly demonstrates the compliance of a number of different companies. There are “alliances with over 80 major global corporations supporting both missions,” according to a paper that is marked top secret. In NSA jargon, “both missions” refers to defending networks in the U.S., on the one hand, and monitoring networks abroad, on the other. The companies involved include telecommunications firms, producers of network infrastructure, software companies and security firms.
Such cooperation is an extremely delicate issue for the companies involved. Many have promised their customers data confidentiality in their terms and conditions. Furthermore, they are obliged to follow the laws of the countries in which they do business. As such, their cooperation deals with the NSA are top secret. Even in internal NSA documents, they are only referred to using code names.
[Image: Wikimedia user Fleshas]
11:30 am, 07/01/13
PUTIN GIVES SNOWDEN AN ULTIMATUM
After President Obama made an official statement today saying the United States “has gone through regular law enforcement channels to get Edward Snowden extradited from Russia,” Russian President Vladimir Putin made an ambiguous statement. He said Snowden “must stop his work aimed at harming our American partners.” Furthermore, Putin stated that Snowden isn’t a Russian agent, and should choose his final destination and travel there.
As things remain unsure for Snowden, one thing is certain: When you need to take sanctuary from Uncle Sam, Uncle Vlad might not be your best option.
10:50 am, 07/01/13
NSA DOES DAMAGE CONTROL ON EUROPEAN UNION SPYING
Amid diplomatic fallout from the fact that the NSA, unsurprisingly, is engaged in surveillance of foreign powers, certain parties are trying to minimize the goings on. Secretary of State Kerry is currently doing damage control interference rounds on the news that NSA hackers monitored European Union bureaucratic computer systems.
“I will say that every country in the world that is engaged in international affairs and national security undertakes lots of activities to protect its national security and all kinds of information contributes to that. All I know is that it is not unusual for lots of nations,” Kerry said at a news conference. Japan and South Korea were also allegedly targeted for computer system infiltration by the U.S. government.
6:25 am, 07/01/13
U.S. RELATIONSHIP WITH EUROPE HIT BY SNOWDEN PAPERS
The Guardian is busily getting on with the business of publishing some of the documents obtained by Edward Snowden, and they make uncomfortable reading for American diplomats in Europe–not to mention the State Department in Washington. Berlin has accused the U.S. of treating it “like a cold war enemy,” after Der Spiegel reported seeing evidence indicating that American security agencies bugged the offices of the E.U. in Washington, and the U.N. in New York.
France, Greece, and Italy were all “targets” of the NSA, says The Guardian, which lists other allies of the U.S., including Mexico, Japan, India, South Korea, and Turkey.
The news report mentions a document that lists 38 embassies and missions as “targets,” detailing espionage methods used against each one. Bugs in encrypted faxes, cable taps, transmissions with specialized antennae, all of these were used to gather information.
1:25 pm, 06/28/13
SNOWDEN’S DAD APPEARS ON THE TODAY SHOW
Edward Snowden’s father, Lonnie Snowden, just appeared on the Today show. The elder Snowden, who has not spoken with his son since April, hinted Edward might return to the United States if several conditions are met–and that his son is not a traitor. Via NBC:
“At this point I don’t feel that he’s committed treason. He has in fact broken U.S. law, in a sense that he has released classified information,” Lonnie Snowden told NBC’s Michael Isikoff in an exclusive interview that aired on TODAY. “And if folks want to classify him as a traitor, in fact he has betrayed his government. But I don’t believe that he’s betrayed the people of the United States. “
Snowden said he has told Attorney General Eric Holder through his lawyer that his son will probably return home if the Justice Department promises not to detain him before a trial nor subject him to a gag order. He also wants his son to choose where a trial would take place.
1:10 pm, 06/28/13
EVIDENCE POINTS TO SECRET VERIZON/AT&T RELATIONSHIP WITH NSA
One of the documents The Guardian leaked yesterday strongly infers that both Verizon and AT&T have secret relationships with the NSA dating back to at least 2009. According to convincing evidence collected by CNET’s Declan McCullagh, both providers allow the intelligence agency to tap into their fiberoptic cables, gateway switches, and data networks.
7:15 am, 06/28/13
ARMY RESTRICTS INTERNET ACCESS TO THE GUARDIAN
The Monterey County Herald is reporting that the U.S. Army is filtering access to The Guardian across the whole of the force. A spokesman for the Army Network Enterprise Technology Command, or NETCOM, told the paper in an email that “some access to press coverage and online content about the NSA leaks” was being denied.
The Department of Defense refers to this as “network hygiene”, and it is a regular occurence, the spokesman, Gordon Van Vleet, wrote.
12:15 pm, 06/27/13
ACTING AG WHO THREATENED TO QUIT OVER ILLEGAL SURVEILLANCE STAYED ON ANYWAY
One more interesting Guardian disclosure…
You know that one friend who threatens to move to Canada if (insert favorite hated political candidate here) got elected? The government equivalent of them is James Comey, the incoming FBI chief. According to The Guardian, the 6’8″ Comey threatened to quit his old post as acting attorney general in 2004 if the NSA continued warrantless surveillance of American citizens’ internet records.
But, The Guardian continues, Comey never did. He stayed on board as the NSA continued their preexisting internet surveillance routine, which continued to operate–albeit under a different legal theory.
11:30 am, 06/27/13
EVILOLIVE AND SHELLTRUMPET: HOW THE NSA LOGS AMERICAN CITIZENS’ EMAILS
Well, the conspiracy theorists and paranoid civil liberties fringe types have won. A new scoop by Glenn Greenwald and Spencer Ackerman at The Guardian reveals a document dump with details on how the NSA harvests massive amounts of email metadata from American citizens. A series of top-secret programs with names such as EvilOlive and ShellTrumpet began under the Bush administration and were continued–and expanded–under the Obama administration. The two programs collect massive amount of Internet traffic metadata in bulk; the bulk metadata is then handled for unknown purposes (storage? pattern analysis?) by the Special Source Operations (SSO) directorate within the NSA.
In this case, it’s appropriate to just let The Guardian article speak for itself:
This new system, SSO stated in December, enables vastly increased collection by the NSA of internet traffic. “The 1EF solution is allowing more than 75% of the traffic to pass through the filter,” the SSO December document reads. “This milestone not only opened the aperture of the access but allowed the possibility for more traffic to be identified, selected and forwarded to NSA repositories.”
It continued: “After the EvilOlive deployment, traffic has literally doubled.”
The scale of the NSA’s metadata collection is highlighted by references in the documents to another NSA program, codenamed ShellTrumpet.
On December 31, 2012, an SSO official wrote that ShellTrumpet had just “processed its One Trillionth metadata record”.
It is not clear how much of this collection concerns foreigners’ online records and how much concerns those of Americans. Also unclear is the claimed legal authority for this collection.
Explaining that the five-year old program “began as a near-real-time metadata analyzer … for a classic collection system”, the SSO official noted: “In its five year history, numerous other systems from across the Agency have come to use ShellTrumpet’s processing capabilities for performance monitoring” and other tasks, such as “direct email tip alerting.”
7:15 am, 06/27/13
RECORDS OF INTERNET CHATS BY EDWARD SNOWDEN REVEAL HE THOUGHT LEAKERS SHOULD BE SHOT
In the balls, to be more specific. Ars Technica has unearthed records of the NSA whistleblower’s chat history on the site’s public Internet Relay Chat server. His conversations with others, under the username TheTrueHOOHA, reveal Snowden as a typical I.T. geek, young, fresh out of college, idealistic and cynical at the same time. But it also reveals some fascinating little snippets about the 30-year-old, currently “in transit” in a Moscow airport.
The 23-year-old Snowden began posting in 2007, when he was posted to Switzerland by the CIA. At first, he was not a fan of the country–but soon got to like the life in Europe, citing the girls and Switzerland’s picture postcard looks, although he was, as Ars says, “critical of the Swiss… Snowden saw a country of overpaid racists.”
He was a fan of shorting stocks and the gold standard, and thought that both the U.S. dollar and British Pound Sterling were about to go kaput in 2009. What Snowden didn’t like, however, was Social Security, and the Muslims in East London, although he thought it was “nice they set up their own community.”
During the 2009 elections, Snowden said that he could only support Presidential candidate Barack Obama if he joined forces with his then rival, John McCain. Hillary Clinton would be “a pox on the country.”
The three-page post points out that, although Snowden showed strong Libertarian views on some things, he was a staunch supporter of the work and structure of the security agencies in the U.S. When the New York Times published a story on U.S. action in Iran that was based on leaked information, he wondered if the newspaper was trying to start a war. “You don’t put that shit in the newspaper,” he raged, before railing against the anonymous sources. “These people should be shot in the balls.”
Snowden’s last post on the Ars network was in 2010. He went public with his devastating knowledge of the NSA’s Prism project just three years later.
6:05 pm, 06/26/13
GLENN GREENWALD SELF-DISCLOSES IN GUARDIAN
Journalist and commentator Glenn Greenwald, who played a major role in making the NSA surveillance leaks public, took to The Guardian‘s pages to self-disclose details from his past in response to inquiries he claims to have received from the New York Daily News and New York Times. In the newspaper, Greenwald admitted to participation in a company that was involved with adult film distribution, and issues with past tax debt. Greenwald said:
When I made the choice to report aggressively on top-secret NSA programs, I knew that I would inevitably be the target of all sorts of personal attacks and smears. You don’t challenge the most powerful state on earth and expect to do so without being attacked. As a superb Guardian editorial noted today: “Those who leak official information will often be denounced, prosecuted or smeared. The more serious the leak, the fiercer the pursuit and the greater the punishment.”
5:40 pm, 06/26/13
NSA WITHDRAWS FISA FACT SHEET UNDER CONGRESSIONAL PRESSURE
The NSA removed a fact sheet on the secretive FISA program from their website today after two senators accused the agency of misrepresenting key aspects of FISA. Due to the classified nature of the FISA program, which sends secret warrants to individuals which they are then forbidden from disclosing to loved ones or the general public, Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Tom Udall (D-Co) did not disclose what exactly they believed the agency was misrepresenting.
In the letter, the senators said that it “portrays protections for Americans’ privacy as being significantly stronger than they actually are.”
Wyden and Udall also warned that knowing the full scope of the NSA’s surveillance efforts within the United States would significantly erode citizen faith in the federal government:
When the NSA makes inaccurate statements about government surveillance and fails to correct the public record, it can decrease public confidence in the NSA’s openness and its commitment to protecting Americans’ constitutional rights.
Why was the fact sheet taken off the NSA’s website? Here is what NSA spokesperson Judith Emell told the Huffington Post:
Given the intense interest from the media, the public, and Congress, we believe the precision of the source document (the statute) is the best possible representation of applicable authorities.
In other words, the NSA will not touch the basics of how they implement a complicated and bizarre spying program other than by making the complicated and bizarre source document available to the public. Both Senators Wyden and Udall have significant doubts about how FISA is actually used in real life which they are unable to share with the American public due to secrets laws.
The original NSA fact sheet which was taken offline is still available through Scribd.
5:30 pm, 06/26/13
THE SNOWDEN LEAKS: A RUSSIAN PERSPECTIVE
Writing over at op-ed site Bloomberg View, Russian author Leonid Bershidsky has an interesting take on recent disclosures of the NSA’s massive, semi-secret phone and Internet spying regime. According to Bershidsky, the NSA’s program isn’t effective at stopping terrorism. In fact, it’s not even good for monitoring terrorists. What is it good for? Well… he doesn’t say directly, but reading between the lines it seems like something that rhymes with packing the trublic. One interesting excerpt:
Even complete access to these servers brings U.S. authorities no closer to the core forums. These must be infiltrated by more traditional intelligence means, such as using agents posing as jihadists or by informants within terrorist organizations.
Similarly, monitoring phone calls is hardly the way to catch terrorists. They’re generally not dumb enough to use Verizon. Granted, Russia’s special services managed to kill Chechen separatist leader Dzhokhar Dudayev with a missile that homed in on his satellite-phone signal. That was in 1996. Modern-day terrorists are generally more aware of the available technology.
At best, the recent revelations concerning Prism and telephone surveillance might deter potential recruits to terrorist causes from using the most visible parts of the Internet. Beyond that, the government’s efforts are much more dangerous to civil liberties than they are to al-Qaeda and other organizations like it.
12:30 pm, 06/26/13
TYPOGRAPHY THAT PLAYS WITH THE NSA’S SURVEILLANCE TACTICS
Over at Co.Design, our Mark Wilson spoke with Sang Mun, a Korean-American artist who worked with U.S. troops and the NSA during his mandatory South Korean Army service at an unknown technology position. Mun is the creator of ZXX, a typeface designed to defeat optical character recognition technologies used by the NSA:
In its sans and bold forms, ZXX is completely legible (by humans and machines). But the free downloadable font comes with four illegible styles–Camo, False, Noise, and Xed–that Mun created with the eye of a designer and the acuity of an ex-NSA agent. Camo, for instance, looks like letters wearing camouflage–but there’s a good reason beyond the military overtones. That pattern also confuses the logic driving optical character recognition devices. In other words, something typed in Camo can’t be scanned and algorithmically converted to computer-comprehended text.
Of course, the NSA and other agencies can read ZXX even after it’s been rendered illegible; it just requires a bit more work. It’s important to note that the typeface has nothing to do with PRISM at all–metadata attached to messages and viewing emails in plain text gives access to content nonetheless. ZXX’s value is primarily in use for scanned and printed documents. But as a piece of typography deliberately designed to raise awareness of surveilllance, it’s well done.
8:00 am, 06/26/13
GERMANY CALLS BRITISH MASS MONITORING A HOLLYWOOD NIGHTMARE
Germany has criticized the U.K.’s mass monitoring of phone and Internet traffic, calling it not conducive to free and democratic societies. Justice minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger has sent letters to her British counterpart, Chris Grayling, and the U.K.’s home secretary, Theresa May.
As well as stressing just how much discomfort the revelations that GCHQ’s Project Tempora have caused in Germany, Ms. Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger asks how much German citizens have been targeted.
Germany has very strong views on personal privacy–as Google has found out in the past. In 2012, it signed up to the Verein Selbstregulierung Informationswirtschaft, along with Nokia and Microsoft and, under privacy proposals in 2010, it outlined plans to prevent bosses from checking out the Facebook profiles of potential employees.
Britain’s Foreign Minister, William Hague, defended the surveillance programs in both the U.S. and the U.K. in a speech in California last night at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. He called the intelligence-sharing between the two countries “unique and indispensable,” adding that it was done within a strong legal framework.
“We operate under the rule of law and are accountable for it. In some countries secret intelligence is used to control their people–in ours it only exists to protect their freedoms.
“We should always remember that terrorists plan to harm us in secret, criminal networks plan to steal from us in secret, foreign intelligence agencies plot to spy on us in secret and new weapons systems are devised in secret. We cannot protect the people of our countries without devising some of the response to those threats in secret.”
7:15 am, 06/26/13
ECUADOR HAS CITIZEN SURVEILLANCE PROGRAMS TOO
Here’s a not-so-subtle message from Washington: You don’t like the U.S. surveillance programs? Well, other countries–including Ecuador–are just as bad. That is the parse of a BuzzFeed post outlining all the monitoring and surveillance practices that President Rafael Correa’s government has at its disposal for Ecuador’s citizens.
The country spent $500,000 on an Israeli-built GSM interceptor, and was the first nation to implement a facial- and voice-recognition ID system. And SENAIN, the Ecuadorian intelligence agency, seems to want to get its hands on some drones, too. (Well, don’t we all?)
7:05 am, 06/26/13
JIMMY WALES BREAKS WIKIPEDIA RULES IN HUNT FOR SNOWDEN
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has been musing on whether Edward Snowden may have edited Wikipedia pages before turning to his current career of uber-mole and secret-service cracker. Examiner.com is reporting that Wales wrote a post on his “Talk” page asking if there is any evidence of Snowden’s hand on Wikipedia’s edit buttons.
I’m sure this has been discussed somewhere. In the media there have been reports of user accounts used on various tech discussion sites by Edward Snowden. He was apparently quite an active person online, particularly a few years back when he was younger. It seems highly likely to me that he would have edited Wikipedia–most people who fit his profile (tech savvy, Internet activist types) will have done so. Do we have any evidence of that, or suspicions about that?
As Examiner.com points out, however, Wikipedians can’t find identities of other contributors in the secretive community. One editor, Fram, mentioned this to Wales, who gave him short shrift, accusing him of “harrassment.”
6:05 am, 06/26/13
TIM BERNERS-LEE: KEEP CORPORATIONS AND GOVERNMENTS AWAY FROM INTERNET CONTROL
British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee, the daddy of the World Wide Web, has spoken about the importance of keeping “total control” of the Internet away from governments and large corporations.
The scientist was at a reception at Buckingham Palace yesterday to receive the inaugural Queen Elizabeth prize for engineering, where he was asked for his thoughts on the NSA scandal. This is what he said:
“The original design of the web of 24 years ago was for a universal space, we didn’t have a particular computer in mind or browser, or language.
“When you make something universal … it can be used for good things or nasty things … we just have to make sure it’s not undercut by any large companies or governments trying to use it and get total control.”
4:05 pm, 06/25/13
EDWARD SNOWDEN HAS A PLAN B
Well, it’s official: Edward Snowden is crazy like a fox. In a long exclusive piece, The Daily Beast’s Eli Lake details Snowden’s Plan B if something happens to him: A massive cache of encrypted files, hidden on the Internet by his friends and allies in multiple locations, will be decrypted. These files contain a huge dump of NSA secrets of all sorts that apparently shed a great deal of information on the technical specifications of America’s spy apparatus. Having access to them would be a field day for the intelligence service of any country in the world, and create significant hindrances for the NSA’s legitimate foreign operations.
From the article:
Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian journalist who Snowden first contacted in February, told The Daily Beast on Tuesday that Snowden “has taken extreme precautions to make sure many different people around the world have these archives to insure the stories will inevitably be published.” Greenwald added that the people in possession of these files “cannot access them yet because they are highly encrypted and they do not have the passwords.” But, Greenwald said, “if anything happens at all to Edward Snowden, he told me he has arranged for them to get access to the full archives.”
[Image: Defense Department]
4:00 pm, 06/25/13
HOW THE NSA SEARCHES FOR DATA ON CERTAIN AMERICAN CITIZENS
Those endless email and phone archives that the NSA has been accumulating so they can monitor the communications of non-citizens? Well, they also use them to keep tabs on citizens of interest too. The Emptywheel blog just uncovered some interesting NSA regulatory jujitsu:
The procedures make it clear that, with authorization from the NSA Director, even communications entirely between US persons may be retained (see section 5) if they are of significant intelligence value. Communications showing a communications security vulnerability may also be retained (this permission, related to cybersecurity, was not made public in the NSA handout).
11:00 am, 06/25/13
PUTIN: SNOWDEN WITHIN MOSCOW AIRPORT TRANSIT ZONE
In the latest installment of the John le Carre/Where In The World Is Carmen San Diego? mash-up that is Edward Snowden’s path for sanctuary and asylum, the NSA whistleblower has been confirmed as being at the airport in Moscow. Russian President Vladimir Putin says Snowden is in the transit zone at Sheremetyevo Airport, which technically means he did not enter Russian soil yet.
However, the airport was flooded with journalists upon rumors that Snowden was transiting through Moscow on a flight to Havana–a flight, of course, that he never flew on. Snowden was not seen at the airport by any of these journalists.
Unfortunately for Snowden, Sheremetyevo’s hotels are all on the outside of passport control. According to Russia Today, Putin said that any accusations of Russian involvement with Snowden are “ridiculous.”
5:30 am, 06/25/13
RUSSIA DENIES SNOWDEN EVER ENTERED THE COUNTRY AS U.S. AND CHINA TRADE BLOWS
At a press conference in Moscow, a Russian minister said Edward Snowden never entered the country. Foreign secretary Sergei Lavrov also told journalists that U.S. attempts to play the blame game with Russia were “groundless and unacceptable.”
“We are in no way involved with either Mr. Snowden, his relations with U.S. justice, nor to his movements around the world.” There is, of course, a possibility that, despite landing on Russian soil, Snowden remained airside–never entering the terminal building, never handing over his passport to be stamped by Russian Immigration, maybe never even leaving the aircraft he flew in on.
Yesterday, the White House criticized both China and Russia for their part in letting Snowden slip away. The decision by Hong Kong (or China, depending on how independent you feel the former British territory is from its mainland masters) to reject the U.S. extradition warrant on a technicality was, according White House spokesman Jay Carney, “A deliberate choice by the government to release a fugitive despite a valid arrest warrant, and that decision unquestionably has a negative impact on the U.S.-China relationship.”
China has denied the accusations, saying the U.S. claims are “groundless and unacceptable.”
Carney said Russia was asked to consider the extradition papers in order to expel the NSA whistleblower. But with Moscow’s claims that Mr. Snowden never entered Russia, there is no potential extradition to speak of–despite the fact that the White House strongly believes that the mole is still in the country.
1:15 pm, 06/24/13
SNOWDEN: I TOOK BOOZ HAMILTON JOB SPECIFICALLY TO FIND EVIDENCE OF NSA SURVEILLANCE
Well, for everyone wondering why Edward Snowden took a relatively low-paying job at Booz Allen Hamilton in Hawaii, we now know. In an interview with the South China Morning Post, Snowden said that he took the job so he could gather evidence of NSA surveillance:
For the first time, Snowden has admitted he sought a position at Booz Allen Hamilton so he could collect proof about the U.S. National Security Agency’s secret surveillance programmes ahead of planned leaks to the media.
“My position with Booz Allen Hamilton granted me access to lists of machines all over the world the NSA hacked,” he told the Post on June 12. “That is why I accepted that position about three months ago.”
During a global online chat last week, Snowden also stated he took pay cuts “in the course of pursuing specific work.”
Freelance spying on the NSA or taking a job specifically to do some whistleblowing? Interestingly, the Post‘s interview was conducted way back on June 12. We’re now taking suggestions about why the Hong Kong-based newspaper sat on a scoop that big for so long.
7:15 am, 06/24/13
JOURNALISTS ARE ON THE PLANE TO HAVANA, SNOWDEN IS NOT
Snowden is reportedly a no-show for his flight from Moscow to Havana, which is packed to the brim with reporters chomping at the bit to speak with him. Gawker editor Max Reed tweeted: “A dozen journalists stuck on dry flight to Cuba watching the James Franco Oz movie.” Now the question on every conspiracy theorist’s lips is this: Did Snowden actually make it to Moscow, or is this one of the best post-Soviet intelligence ops we’ve seen in a long time? Stay tuned.
6:00 am, 06/24/13
SNOWDEN LEAVES HONG KONG FOR ECUADOR, VIA MOSCOW, CUBA
The NSA whistleblower is on the move. Edward Snowden left Hong Kong for Moscow on Sunday after the Chinese territory’s authorities blocked an extradition effort by the U.S. Apparently the paperwork was fluffed–or, as a spokesman for the Hong Kong government said, “the documents provided by the U.S. government did not fully comply with the legal requirements under Hong Kong law.”
The U.S., which has revoked its citizen mole’s U.S. passport, called the decision “particularly troubling.”
Now, Snowden is en route to Ecuador via Cuba and Venezuela for possible asylum. He was accompanied on his trip by Wikileaks’ “own diplomats and legal advisors,” said a spokesperson for the website. Moscow’s airport last night was crawling with Russian secret agents and Ecuadorian diplomats who tried to talk with the whistleblower.
The Guardian, which has one of its journalists booked on the same Havana flight as Snowden, reports Russian airline Aeroflot is threatening to take passengers’ phones away from them for the duration of the flight. And Russia’s secret agents are changing terminals, says Reuters, who has also just spotted a VIP van drawing up next to the Cuba-bound plane–or could this be a massive decoy operation?
1:50 pm, 06/21/13
BRITISH INTELLIGENCE HAS SECRET ACCESS TO WORLD’S COMMUNICATIONS
And The Guardian just published a massive scoop… The British government has a highly secret program which taps into transatlantic fiber cables and copies data equivalent to the entire British Library onto intelligence servers every eight minutes. This information was then shared with the NSA. From the newspaper:
One document described how there were 2 billion users of the Internet worldwide, how Facebook had more than 400 million regular users and how there had been a 600% growth in mobile Internet traffic the year before. “But we are starting to ‘master’ the Internet,” the author claimed. “And our current capability is quite impressive.”
The report said the UK now had the “biggest Internet access in Five Eyes” – the group of intelligence organisations from the US, UK, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. “We are in the golden age,” the report added.
There were caveats. The paper warned that American Internet service providers were moving to Malaysia and India, and the NSA was “buying up real estate in these places”. “We won’t see this traffic crossing the UK. Oh dear,” the author said. He suggested Britain should do the same and play the “US at [their] own game … and buy facilities overseas”.
The Guardian also published a snippet from a training manual for UK intelligence’s Internet monitors. Employees were told that “You are in an enviable position–Have fun and make the most of it.”
1:45 pm, 06/21/13
ENCRYPTING YOUR EMAIL DRAWS EXTRA NSA SCRUTINY
Buried in the newly leaked regulations for NSA monitoring of email and phone communications is the fact that the NSA stores all encrypted communications they encounter until a future time when computers powerful enough to decrypt them will be produced:
In the context of a cryptoanalytic effort, maintenance of technical data bases requires retention of all communications that are enciphered or reasonably believed to contain secret meaning, and sufficient duration may consist of any period of time during which encrypted material is subject to, or of use in, cryptanalysis.
In other words, no matter why you’re encrypting your communications, the government is interested.
7:00 am, 06/21/13
SECRET NSA DOCUMENTS AND RUMORED PRIVATE JET FOR SNOWDEN ASYLUM
The Guardian last night released two documents from the Prism project. One details the procedure process for “targeting” non-U.S. citizens. The Guardian claims this document shows no warrant is needed for U.S. data. The other minimizes data collection from U.S. persons. This, says The Guardian, allows government agencies to use data that has been inadvertently collected from individuals, as sanctioned by FISA court officials.
This means the NSA can:
Keep data containing details of U.S. citizens for up to five years.
Retain and use “inadvertently acquired” domestic communications if containing useable evidence.
Preserve “foreign intelligence information” from attorney-client communications.
Access the content of U.S.-based devices or phone numbers to determine if targets are in the country, and whether further surveillance is needed.
The South China Morning Post is reporting that a businessman with links to WikiLeaks has readied a private jet to fly Edward Snowden from Hong Kong to Iceland. Olafur Sigurvinsson, who is the head of a partner firm of the whistleblower website, DataCell, said everything was ready to go, bar a nod from the Icelandic government.
WikiLeaks spokesperson, Julian Assange, currently sheltering in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, said he and Snowden’s people had been in touch to discuss the possibility of asylum in the Scandinavian country.
9:25 am, 06/20/13
FBI DIRECTOR MUELLER: WE NEED MORE INTERNET SURVEILLANCE POWER
In testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, FBI Director Robert Mueller asked lawmakers to give the FBI additional power to spy on the Internet:
The rapid pace of advances in mobile and other communication technologies continues to present a significant challenge for conducting court-approved electronic surveillance of criminals and terrorists […] Because of this gap, law enforcement is increasingly unable to gain timely access to the information to which it is lawfully authorized and that it needs to protect public safety, bring criminals to justice and keep America safe.
Part of the problem with both mission creep on the FBI’s part and unclear supervision of the NSA surveillance regimes is an inability to reconcile 20th century wiretap models with the 21st century. The Internet and digital communications are very different from landline telephones, but the law does not necessarily reflect that.
9:15 am, 06/20/13
SKYPE’S SECRET “PROJECT CHESS” FOR INTELLIGENCE AGENCY COLLABORATION
The New York Times quietly dropped a major scoop today: Skype, which is used by dissidents around the world, has a secret program for collaboration with intelligence agencies and law enforcement called Project Chess:
Skype, the Internet-based calling service, began its own secret program, Project Chess, to explore the legal and technical issues in making Skype calls readily available to intelligence agencies and law enforcement officials, according to people briefed on the program who asked not to be named to avoid trouble with the intelligence agencies.
Project Chess, which has never been previously disclosed, was small, limited to fewer than a dozen people inside Skype, and was developed as the company had sometimes contentious talks with the government over legal issues, said one of the people briefed on the project. The project began about five years ago, before most of the company was sold by its parent, eBay, to outside investors in 2009. Microsoft acquired Skype in an $8.5 billion deal that was completed in October 2011.
A Skype executive denied last year in a blog post that recent changes in the way Skype operated were made at the behest of Microsoft to make snooping easier for law enforcement. It appears, however, that Skype figured out how to cooperate with the intelligence community before Microsoft took over the company, according to documents leaked by Edward J. Snowden, a former contractor for the N.S.A.
Microsoft officials declined to affirm previous comments made that Skype calls are not wiretapped. The use of Skype is commonplace among rebels in the Syrian Civil War and by anti-government protesters in Central Asia, just to name a few.
9:05 am, 06/20/13
CONGRESSIONAL INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEES (UNSURPRISINGLY) RECEIVE INTELLIGENCE CONTRACTOR DONATIONS
The House and Senate Committees on Intelligence are where the legislative branch are briefed on classified surveillance programs by the NSA and other intelligence agencies. Much of this surveillance work is carried out on the NSA and CIA’s behalf by outside contractors, which has been a growing trend since the PATRIOT Act passed way back in 2001. Blogger Troy Jurimas just wrote an interesting post compiling contractor donations to the Inteligence Committees’ members. Unsurprisingly, members are knee deep in contractor donations. Here is a small sample:
Peter King-New York (R) $13,500 Northrop Grumman/$13,000 General Dynamics/$11,000 Raytheon Co/$10,00 Boeing Co/$10,000 Honeywell International/$10,000 Lockheed Martin/$6,000 BAE Systems
Frank A. LoBiondo- New Jersey (R) $12,000 Northrop Grumman/$10,000 Boeing Co/$10,000 Honeywell International/$10,000 Raytheon Co/$9,000 General Dynamics/$8,000 BAE Systems/$8,000 Lockheed Martin
Devin Nunes- California (R) $8,000 Honeywell International/$7,500 Lockheed Martin/$7,000 Northrop Grumman
It is important to note that many representatives and senators received donations which had to do with contractors having officers or facilities in their jurisdiction or state.
12:30 pm, 06/19/13
GOOGLE’S CHIEF LEGAL OFFICER PUSHES FOR GLOBAL DATA-GATHERING RULES
George Drummond, Google’s Chief Legal Officer, had a live Q&A on The Guardian yesterday afternoon. In it, he vociferously denied that his firm was “in cahoots” with the NSA, as well as calling for the world’s governments to get together and come up with some basic rules on gathering information in secret.
Remember that this is not just about the US government, but European and other governments too. It’s really important that all of us give close scrutiny to any laws that give governments increased power to sift through user data.
The Prism scandal has had one unlikely winner: the DuckDuckGo search engine. The Philly-based website, which doesn’t keep users’ search information, has had a surge in traffic since the scandal broke earlier this month. It announced the news on Twitter.
12:30 pm, 06/19/13
CONGRESSIONAL SLIPS OF TONGUE INDICATE NSA RECORDING AMERICAN’S PHONE CALLS
Blogger and developer Jeff Lyon parsed on-the-record statements by members of Congress. Lyon found compelling evidence that the NSA is monitoring and recording the content of Americans’ phone calls without a warrant… and not just the metadata:
So they’re storing the actual content of phone calls and emails in some NSA database somewhere. No big deal, and rest assured, they won’t look at it unless they really don’t like you. I guess that’s what Representative Loretta Sanchez meant when she said that Snowden’s leaks were just the “tip of the iceberg.”
This shouldn’t come as a shock, but look at it for what it is: to date, the government has only acknowledged that they receive (not “collect”) telephone records on millions of American citizens. They have not acknowledged that they also get the content from those phone calls. They’ve noted that the specific FISC order that Snowden leaked does not apply to content, but they’ve stopped short of denying that similar court orders exist that would apply to content. And really, they wish we’d stop asking them about it because it’s classified.
Meanwhile, security researcher Bruce Schneier gave speculation that is actually useful–and far from the usual conspiracy-mongering that crowds so much of this space.
I believe that, to the extent that the NSA is analyzing and storing conversations, they’re doing speech-to-text as close to the source as possible and working with that. Even if you have to store the audio for conversations in foreign languages, or for snippets of conversations the conversion software is unsure of, it’s a lot fewer bits to move around and deal with.
11:30 am, 06/19/13
A LEGAL SCHOLAR EXPLAINS AMERICA’S SECRET EMAIL SURVEILLANCE REGIME
Via Glenn Greenwald, here is the best explanation of the FISA surveillance regime that we’ve ever seen. According to Harvard Law School professor Jeff Balkin:
The Fisa Amendments Act of 2008, effectively gives the President – now President Obama – the authority to run surveillance programs similar in effect to the warrantless surveillance program [secretly implemented by George Bush in late 2001]. That is because New Fisa no longer requires individualized targets in all surveillance programs. Some programs may be ‘vacuum cleaner’ programs that listen to a great many different calls (and read a great many e-mails) with any requirement of a warrant directed at a particular person as long as no US person is directly targeted as the object of the program…
New Fisa authorizes the creation of surveillance programs directed against foreign persons (or rather, against persons believed to be outside the United States)–which require no individualized suspicion of anyone being a terrorist, or engaging in any criminal activity. These programs may inevitably include many phone calls involving Americans, who may have absolutely no connection to terrorism or to Al Qaeda.
7:30 am, 06/19/13
NSA CONTEMPLATES A CHANGE OF PROCEDURE, GOOGLE CHALLENGES FISA
Google has cited the First Amendment in an attempt to get the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court, or FISA, to relax its gag orders on data requests. The search giant argues it has a constitutional right to speak about any data that it is forced to hand over to the government, in an attempt to “protect its reputation,” reports the Washington Post.
General Keith Alexander, the NSA’s director, was in front of Congress’s Intelligence Committee yesterday, where he said the agency was contemplating a change to the way it handles sensitive information. Sensitive documents could only be saved on an external device using a “two-person” system–meaning that all those contracted operators like Edward Snowden, who was a Booz Allen employee, would need a second person, most likely from the Department of Defense, to make sure no unauthorized data was being collected.
This is the same system implemented in part by the U.S. military following Bradley Manning’s passing of secret files to Wikileaks.
5:30 pm, 06/18/13
WHO IS THE FISA SECRET COURT MOLE?
Did Ed Snowden have a mole feeding him information from the secret FISA court, whose investigation targets could not even tell their loved ones they were under federal investigation? Reading between the lines, Eli Lake over at the Daily Beast really, really hinted in that direction:
U.S. intelligence officials were careful to say investigators have not yet concluded there is a mole inside the FISA Court or that the secure databases that store the court warrants have been compromised, only that both prospects were under active investigation.
If the secret court has been breached, it would be one of the most significant intelligence failures in U.S. history, potentially giving America’s adversaries a road map to every suspected agent inside the United States currently being watched by the FBI, according to the officials. Unlike the Verizon order and other such sweeping collection demands that have been received by Internet and telecom companies, many FISA warrants identify a specific individual or entity being monitored by the U.S. government.
“If we have a human or electronic breach in this system it could be a counter-intelligence disaster. It would allow our adversaries to see what we are targeting and how,” said Joel Brenner, a former inspector general and senior counsel for the NSA who left the agency in 2010.
“If they got access into the database or mainframe that the warrants are housed in, this compromises our country’s most closely guarded ongoing investigations,” Hoekstra said. “This would be like Aldrich Ames,” referring to the CIA officer who told the Soviet Union about moles inside the USSR working for the United States for nearly a decade, with several of the operatives he outed arrested and executed by the Soviets. “This would be breathtaking.”
Stewart Baker, a former general counsel to the NSA, just said such a breach would be “very bad.”
Alternately, Lake hints that the leak could have come from compromised servers at the secret court. If either option is true it will constitute a major news story of its own.
[Image: Mick E. Talbot/Wikimedia
5:10 pm, 06/18/13
NYPD CHIEF: NSA SURVEILLANCE SHOULD BE EVERYWHERE, AND THE PUBLIC SHOULD KNOW IT
I think the American public can accept the fact if you tell them that every time you pick up the phone it’s going to be recorded and it goes to the government […] I think the public can understand that. I see no reason why that program was placed in the secret category.
–New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said this to the New York Post in today’s paper. However, Kelly also has a vested political interest in attacking the federal goverment today. The Police Commissioner is in a very public quarrel with Attorney General Eric Holder over the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy.
5:00 pm, 06/18/13
SNOWDEN SEEKING ICELAND ASYLUM VIA WIKILEAKS
As expected, Ed Snowden is attempting to apply for asylum in Iceland. The NSA whistleblower is using an intermediary since international travel is slightly difficult for him at the moment. Wikileaks spokesperson and investigative journalist Kristinn Hrafnsson approached Iceland’s government on behalf of Snowden; Hrafnsson was approached by an unnamed middleperson.
The Icelandic government confirmed they received Snowden’s asylum request but did not provide any additional information.
[Image: Flickr user Poptech]
1:45 pm, 06/18/13
ALL INTERNET/PHONE NSA SURVEILLANCE REQUESTS RUBBER-STAMPED
Well, civil libertarians and people concerned about reckless NSA oversight of Internet/phone surveillance programs just got one sweet, sweet metric. At a House Intelligence Committee hearing today, NSA head Keith Alexander said that the secret FISA court has never turned down a NSA surveillance request of a potential target. In the last two years, out of the approximately 4,000 requests the NSA made, not one has been turned down by a judge. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which live-tweeted the hearing, had this to say:
“Is the FISA court a rubber stamp?” NSA chief says no, but in the last two years, they’ve approved ~4,000 orders, with zero rejections.
Shockingly, there is no court review of individual FISA queries by the NSA. All oversight is done within the Justice Department, by judges who are not accountable to the NSA and who do not report to Congress. These judges were chosen post-2001, primarily by the Bush administration, and are thought to be extremely friendly to increased government surveillance.
NSA chief Keith Alexander then told the FBI deputy director Sean Joyce “I owe (your boss) another beer,” which was picked up by a nearby hot mike. Ben Doernberg of human rights organization Witness caught the exchange.
7:00 am, 06/18/13
OBAMA COMMENTS ON NSA SURVEILLANCE AND SNOWDEN’S FUTURE
The President gave an interview to Charlie Rose on PBS, talking in detail about the Prism program. Obama explained that, in order for American citizens to enjoy extra security at home and abroad, there had to be a trade-off. (This point is equally relevant the other way around: Extra privacy could come at a cost to national security.) This does not mean that having one meant none of the other, just that compromises needed to be made, Obama said. The job of the president is to protect the American people and to protect the American way of life.
What I can say unequivocally is that if you are a U.S. person, the NSA cannot listen to your telephone calls, and the NSA cannot target your emails … and have not. They cannot and have not, by law and by rule, and unless they — and usually it wouldn’t be “they,” it’d be the FBI — go to a court, and obtain a warrant, and seek probable cause, the same way it’s always been, the same way when we were growing up and we were watching movies, you want to go set up a wiretap, you got to go to a judge, show probable cause….
So point number one, if you’re a U.S. person, then NSA is not listening to your phone calls and it’s not targeting your emails unless it’s getting an individualized court order. That’s the existing rule. There are two programs that were revealed by Mr. Snowden, allegedly, since there’s a criminal investigation taking place, and they caused all the ruckus.
No content is available to the U.S. agencies without a court order from FISA, or the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Its dealings are “transparent,” Obama said.
At the end of the interview, Charlie Rose asked the President whether a whistle-blower who had caused a national security issue should be prosecuted. Obama deftly passed the buck onto the Justice Department. “I’m not going to comment on prosecution… The case has been referred to the DOJ for criminal investigation… and possible extradition. I will leave it up to them to answer those questions.”
7:20 pm, 06/17/13
ROUNDUP: THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ELLSBERG AND SNOWDEN, AND SNOWDEN’S NON-DENIAL OF CHINESE CONTACTS’ DENIAL
Two interesting commentaries on the NSA leak case from today. The Atlantic‘s Garance Franke-Ruta wrote about the difference between Edward Snowden and Daniel Ellsberg:
Ellsberg’s actions came at a time when there was a robust social movement demanding change in the exact direction his revelations suggested U.S. policy go — out of Vietnam. Without the anti-Vietnam War movement, it’s arguable he would not have been as important a historical figure, or as daring.
There is no comparable movement to support Snowden, no major anti-surveillance marches on Washington or roiling college campuses, no public burning of Facebook logins and passwords. While there is a robust online libertarian movement concerned with surveillance and privacy issues, there is no force in American life at the present time arguing for change on this front with anything near the power and reach of the anti-Vietnam War movement.
Then, in left-leaning mag Mother Jones, Dana Liebelson wrote about Snowden’s chat with The Guardian:
Snowden insists that he has not had any contact with the Chinese government. He adds, “I did not reveal any US operations against legitimate military targets. I pointed out where the NSA has hacked civilian infrastructure such as universities, hospitals, and private businesses because it is dangerous.” He also says that “the US media has a knee-jerk ‘RED CHINA!’ reaction…If I were a Chinese spy, why wouldn’t I have flown directly into Beijing? I could be living in a palace petting a phoenix by now.” Snowden did not address the close relationship between the Chinese government and its military, business, and civilian institutions.
12:15 pm, 06/17/13
SNOWDEN: “BEING CALLED A TRAITOR BY DICK CHENEY IS THE HIGHEST HONOR YOU CAN GIVE AN AMERICAN.”
One more Snowden quote from today’s Guardian web chat. This quote is in response to being accused of being a traitor by Dick Cheney:
Journalists should ask a specific question: since these programs began operation shortly after September 11th, how many terrorist attacks were prevented SOLELY by information derived from this suspicionless surveillance that could not be gained via any other source? Then ask how many individual communications were ingested to acheive that, and ask yourself if it was worth it. Bathtub falls and police officers kill more Americans than terrorism, yet we’ve been asked to sacrifice our most sacred rights for fear of falling victim to it.
Further, it’s important to bear in mind I’m being called a traitor by men like former Vice President Dick Cheney. This is a man who gave us the warrantless wiretapping scheme as a kind of atrocity warm-up on the way to deceitfully engineering a conflict that has killed over 4,400 and maimed nearly 32,000 Americans, as well as leaving over 100,000 Iraqis dead. Being called a traitor by Dick Cheney is the highest honor you can give an American, and the more panicked talk we hear from people like him, Feinstein, and King, the better off we all are. If they had taught a class on how to be the kind of citizen Dick Cheney worries about, I would have finished high school.
11:35 am, 06/17/13
SNOWDEN: NSA, FBI, CIA HAVE ALMOST UNLIMITED ACCESS TO PHONE AND EMAIL RECORDS
When asked by Circa’s Anthony De Rosa on the Guardian web chat about what intelligence agency “direct access” to metadata and communications records meant, Snowden answered:
More detail on how direct NSA’s accesses are is coming, but in general, the reality is this: if an NSA, FBI, CIA, DIA, etc analyst has access to query raw SIGINT databases, they can enter and get results for anything they want. Phone number, email, user id, cell phone handset id (IMEI), and so on–it’s all the same. The restrictions against this are policy based, not technically based, and can change at any time. Additionally, audits are cursory, incomplete, and easily fooled by fake justifications. For at least GCHQ, the number of audited queries is only 5% of those performed.
11:10 am, 06/17/13
SNOWDEN: “I DID NOT REVEAL ANY U.S. OPERATIONS AGAINST LEGITIMATE MILITARY TARGETS.”
In Ed Snowden’s Guardian webchat, the whistleblower claims he did not hand over any military secrets to the Chinese, but did give information of American cyberwar hacks against Chinese universities and public facilities:
Let’s be clear: I did not reveal any US operations against legitimate military targets. I pointed out where the NSA has hacked civilian infrastructure such as universities, hospitals, and private businesses because it is dangerous. These nakedly, aggressively criminal acts are wrong no matter the target. Not only that, when NSA makes a technical mistake during an exploitation operation, critical systems crash. Congress hasn’t declared war on the countries – the majority of them are our allies – but without asking for public permission, NSA is running network operations against them that affect millions of innocent people. And for what? So we can have secret access to a computer in a country we’re not even fighting? So we can potentially reveal a potential terrorist with the potential to kill fewer Americans than our own Police? No, the public needs to know the kinds of things a government does in its name, or the “consent of the governed” is meaningless.
Snowden then declined to answer a question from Glenn Greenwald about how many copies of secret U.S. government documents Snowden made, and if he gave copies to anyone.
9:20 am, 06/17/13
EDWARD SNOWDEN’S DOING A WEBCHAT
Glenn Greenwald and The Guardian just announced that Edward Snowden is conducting a web Q&A at 11 am Eastern on Monday, Reddit AMA-style. The decision, which is simultaneously gutsy, self-promoting, and a way of placating The Guardian after giving scoops to several Hong Kong publications, comes with the following caveat:
The live chat is subject to Snowden’s security concerns and also his access to a secure Internet connection. It is possible that he will appear and disappear intermittently, so if it takes him a while to get through the questions, please be patient.
Users can also follow the live chat on Twitter via the #asksnowden hashtag. In other news, Beijing issued a denial that Snowden is a Chinese spy.
4:10 pm, 06/14/13
HADOOPING THE BIG DATA IN THE LIBERTARIAN NSA
As the workweek winds down to a close, here are some interesting thoughts on the whole big data and government surveillance issue.
NSFWCorp/Pando Daily’s Paul Carr and Salon’s Andrew Leonard both make the same point: The NSA’s reported surveillance of citizens is pretty similar to what Silicon Valley has been doing for a long time in terms of Big Data. In Salon, Leonard notes about the popular Hadoop platform:
“Revolution” is probably the most overused word in the chronicle of Internet history, but if anything, the Wall Street Journal undersold the real story. Hadoop’s importance to how we live our lives today is hard to overstate. By making it economically feasible to extract meaning from the massive streams of data that increasingly define our online existence, Hadoop effectively enabled the surveillance state.
And not just in the narrowest, Big Brother, government-is-watching-everyone-all-the-time sense of that term. Hadoop is equally critical to private sector corporate surveillance. Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, Amazon, Netflix–just about every big player that gathers the trillions of data “events” generated by our everyday online actions employs Hadoop as a part of their arsenal of Big Data-crunching tools. Hadoop is everywhere–as one programmer told me, “it’s taken over the world.”
Meanwhile, here’s Carr on why Silicon Valley and the CIA both love data to death:
Big data is a nerd’s dream: turning human behavior into measurable, understandable graphs, in the same way the big data experts at Netflix claim they can tell viewers who enjoyed “Sneakers” whether they’ll also enjoy “Enemy of the State.” And who has access to more big data than the federal government? Can you really blame the folks at Palantir or Cloudera or Prism Skylabs from getting wet around the lips at the idea of getting into America’s phone records or every instant message we’ve ever sent. Think of all the patterns! Imagine the possibilities! And also: ka-ching!
And therein lies the truth, and the hypocrisy, of Silicon Valley’s outrage over government snooping: The only people who love big data more, and who care about our privacy less, than the NSA are the outraged Libertarians of Silicon Valley.
1:10 pm, 06/14/13
DELL REALLY, REALLY DOESN’T LIKE IF YOU ASK IF ED SNOWDEN WORKED THERE
So here’s an interesting tidbit: A Dell publicist apparently lost their temper when an ABC News team asked if Edward Snowden worked for the tech giant, which has a history of subcontractor work for intelligence agencies.
Snowden’s professional career also included a stint in Japan, with the Texas-based computer giant Dell.
A Dell spokesman has angrily refused to verify Snowden’s employment there, at first saying the company had been advised by the Department of Justice not to respond to questions. When a Justice Department official refuted that, the Dell official revised his reasons for remaining silent.
“That request came from our customer,” the company spokesman said, without identifying that customer.
11:15 am, 06/14/13
U.K. POLITICIANS: YOU’RE NOT SPYING ON US ENOUGH!
The omnipresence of CCTV cameras in the United Kingdom is a pretty good indication that the British take on surveillance is a little different from that of the United States. Let’s face it… American law enforcement has to be jealous of London’s endless security cameras. Now, senior politicians from the U.K.’s three major political parties have united to demand intelligence services be given further Internet monitoring powers. You know… for counterterrorism. The BBC’s Allegra Stratton reports:
But in the letter the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat grandees say: “Far from being a ‘snoopers’ charter’, as critics allege, the draft bill, seeks to match our crime fighting capabilities to the advances in technologies.
“The proposed Communications Data Bill does not want access to the content of our communications but does want to ensure that enough data is available in the aftermath of an attack to help investigators establish ‘who, where and when’ were involved in planning or supporting it.”
Its important to note that the request for increased monitoring powers is as much a C.Y.A. effort resulting from the recent London soldier beheading than a impassioned plea for an emboldened security state.
[Image: Flickr user Kai Hendry]
11:00 am, 06/14/13
100,000+ SIGN ANTI-NSA SNOOPING PETITION
Can slacktivism change things? The Mozilla-backed Stop Watching Us campaign, which demands the U.S. Congress reveal the “full extent of the NSA’s spying programs,” announced yesterday that over 100,000 Internet users signed their disclosure petition.
Stop Watching Us is backed by a who’s who of civil libertarian activists and left-skewing tech firms. But while plenty of Redditors may be happy to sign a petition, it’s going to take a lot of cash to hire lobbyists on Capitol Hill and lawyers to take on America’s intelligence establishment. Petitions, of course, can only go so far.
10:50 am, 06/14/13
WIRED’S NSA GUY DOES REDDIT AMA
James Bamford, the Wired national security writer whose stories on the NSA data collection center in Utah and NSA Chief Keith Alexander are things you should read right now, did a Reddit AMA yesterday. Our favorite exchange:
JimBamford 379 points 1 day ago
I think it’s mysterious, this cooperation between the NSA and ISPs, and the only thing I can compare it to is the deal with AT&T – where all data flows into their computers filled with software that does deep-pocket inspection, looking for target information and target names and so forth. Whether the NSA created some sort of lock box or portal in cyber space where they can do this, I don’t know. But what you have is the NSA saying they have direct access to their servers. And what the tech giants are saying is that they don’t give them direct access to their services. What we have then is something in between – is it semantics or truth or both? But eventually it will come out through investigative reporting or congressional hearings or something. I think Snowden is very courageous. He’s doing something other people wouldn’t do. He’s not making any money on it, and he’s facing serious repercussions. Last year, in my WIRED cover story on the NSA data-center in Utah, I interviewed a number of former senior officials, including Bill Binney, and they told me very similar things about getting data records from everyone at Verizon and so forth. But the NSA was able to largely brush off those accusations, and the mainstream media just believed them because General Alexander said it. This might have been one of the reasons why Snowden felt this information could only be taken seriously if the public actually got to see the documents. This way, there is no way to brush it under the rug, say these people are lying or exaggerating. A number of whistleblowers have said very similar things. The media and the public only believe it’s real, despite the denials, when confronted with actual documents.
10:30 am, 06/14/13
HOW TO COMPLY WITH A SECRET COURT ORDER
When Yahoo received a secret FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) letter requiring them to hand over data to the federal government on foreign users–they had to comply. Because the FISA letters are secret, the Yahoo executives who received them couldn’t tell anyone else beyond their lawyers… not even other Yahoo executives could be notified in anything but coded language that didn’t include express confirmations or denials. Fighting the FISA letters or asking for a modification would be impossible in real-life terms, putting Yahoo in an awkward Catch-22.
Over at the New York Times, Claire Cain Miller examines what happens when the secret court contacts tech firms:
Like almost all the actions of the secret court, which operates under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the details of its disagreement with Yahoo were never made public beyond a heavily redacted court order, one of the few public documents ever to emerge from the court. The name of the company had not been revealed until now. Yahoo’s involvement was confirmed by two people with knowledge of the proceedings. Yahoo declined to comment.
But the decision has had lasting repercussions for the dozens of companies that store troves of their users’ personal information and receive these national security requests–it puts them on notice that they need not even try to test their legality.
[Image: Openclipart user j4p4n]
10:15 am, 06/14/13
MICROSOFT GIVES SECRET BACKDOORS TO THE GOVERNMENT. NOW WHAT?
In the post below, we detailed Bloomberg’s findings that Microsoft collaborates with the federal government by giving them advance notice of security flaws in MSFT software. In the short period of time before Microsoft patches the security flaws, the FBI, military, and intelligence agencies can presumably use them for all sorts of purposes. These purposes are generally believed to include surveillance on organized crime and terrorist groups in the United States, and espionage actions against America’s enemies and rivals abroad.
Fast Company wrote about this before. Back in May, we wrote about the booming zero-day exploit market, where (reportedly) intelligence agencies, corporate rivals, and organized crime buy “exploits” in new software releases discovered by security researchers. This has been an open secret for quite some time–one commonly gossiped about at industry conferences, Hacker News, Slashdot, Twitter, and elsewhere–but it’s slowly becoming better known as an aftereffect of the NSA surveillance scandal.
A few quick thoughts:
1) How will civil libertarians in the United States react to the news that huge tech corporations let intelligence agencies use their software for presumed foreign espionage purposes?
2) In more immediate and quantifiable concerns, how will this damage sales by Microsoft and others to foreign customers? In China, Russia, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and other markets, this is sure to encourage purchases of software by homegrown vendors with less chance of giving backdoors to U.S. intelligence. And how can open source operating systems capitalize on this?
3) Microsoft isn’t the only firm giving information to the federal government regarding cybersecurity. What about the other ones–what are they sharing?
6:00 am, 06/14/13
GOVERNMENT AGENCIES SWAP DATA WITH THOUSANDS OF FIRMS
Bloomberg is reporting that U.S. agencies regularly swap data with other firms, known as trusted partners.
“Thousands of technology, finance and manufacturing companies are working closely with U.S. national security agencies, providing sensitive information and in return receiving benefits that include access to classified intelligence,” it says, citing four anonymous sources.
The information is not just used to protect the United States but also to “help infiltrate computers of its adversaries,” something that Edward Snowden alluded to in an interview with the South China Morning Post earlier this week. For example, Microsoft provides the intelligence sector with information about software bugs before it issues a fix to the public.
Wired carries a long profile of Keith Alexander, the head of the NSA, in which it says that the four-star general has beefed up NSA operations and equipped a secret cyber army with the ability to infiltrate, sabotage, and cause mayhem. “Now,” says the intro, “it’s ready to unleash hell.”
7:10 pm, 06/13/13
NSA: WE’LL RELEASE DETAILS OF ATTACKS PREVENTED BY METADATA, INTERNET SURVEILLANCE
Gen. Keith Alexander, head of the NSA (left), told Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) that the NSA would release details of terrorist attacks thwarted by bulk surveillance of Americans’ communication metadata and the use of secretive Internet dropboxes as early as Monday. According to The Guardian‘s Spencer Ackerman, the upcoming NSA disclosures were announced to Feinstein following an afternoon briefing.
[Image: Defense Department/Glenn Fawcett]
6:45 pm, 06/13/13
THE NSA WAS DEFEATED BY… A USB STICK
Even the mighty NSA can be taken down by a modest USB stick. When Edward Snowden stole proprietary documents from his IT job at Booz Allen Hamilton, he did it with an ordinary USB stick. Officials speaking anonymously with the Los Angeles Times confirmed that Snowden stole those infamous NSA phone- and Internet-monitoring documents the (relatively) old-fashioned way.
While thumb drive use is banned for most NSA employees and contractors working with them, the source said, IT employees are frequently granted exceptions. “There are people who need to use a thumb drive and they have special permission. But when you use one, people always look at you funny,” the source said.
But what we’re curious about is what kind of poor secrets keeping the NSA was using that would give Snowden–a relatively low-level employee–access to top government secrets. It has shades of the Bradley Manning case; Manning, who also had relatively low rank in the Army, also had access to secrets far beyond his rank.
[Image: Wikimedia user TEL0000]
1:30 pm, 06/13/13
NSA WHISTLEBLOWER SNOWDEN WAS A PROLIFIC ARS TECHNICA COMMENTER
Using the username “TheTrueHooHA,” Edward Snowden appears to have prolifically posted on tech news site Ars Technica for nearly 10 years. Snowden’s prolific Ars Technica postings were part of a larger (and somewhat endearing) habit of posting on Internet message boards, giving us a more unfiltered look at the NSA whistleblower. Circa’s Anthony DeRosa has the scoop, including one revealing comment Snowden made about Cisco wiretap surveillance:
It really concerns me how little this sort of corporate behavior bothers those outside of technology circles. Society really seems to have developed an unquestioning obedience towards spooky types.
I wonder, how well would envelopes that became transparent under magical federal candlelight have sold in 1750? 1800? 1850? 1900? 1950? Did we get to where we are today via a slippery slope that was entirely within our control to stop, or was it an relatively instantaneous sea change that sneaked in undetected because of pervasive government secrecy?
And then the rest, as they say, was history.
12:30 pm, 06/13/13
EXPERTS: THE NSA CAN TRACK EMAIL, ISP METADATA
At yesterday’s contentious U.S. Senate hearing, NSA head Keith Alexander dropped a hint that the intelligence agency may be acquiring IP address visitation and email metadata logs from Internet service providers.
Says CNet’s Declan McCullagh:
During a U.S. Senate hearing, NSA director Keith Alexander was asked specifically about whether “e-mail contacts” are ingested under the Obama administration’s secret interpretation of the Patriot Act’s surveillance powers.
“I don’t want to make a mistake” and reveal too much, Alexander said, adding that disclosing details about such surveillance would cause “our country to lose some sort of protection.” It would be appropriate, he said, to discuss e-mail and other metadata surveillance in a “classified session” that senators are scheduled to attend Thursday.
Among the small circle of outsiders who closely follow the NSA, the agency’s close, long-standing relationship with AT&T, Verizon, and other telecommunications providers is an open secret — so it would come as little surprise to find they’re serving up exabytes of daily e-mail and Web-browsing logs as well.
5:00 am, 06/13/13
U.S. HAS BEEN HACKING CHINA FOR YEARS, SAYS SNOWDEN
The South China Morning Post has published more details from Snowden about the NSA’s surveillance tactics. Snowden claims the U.S. has been hacking China for years. He believes that the NSA has undertaken over 61,000 hacking operations globally, hundreds of those being aimed at Chinese interests.
“We hack network backbones–like huge Internet routers, basically–that give us access to the communications of hundreds of thousands of computers without having to hack every single one,” he said, adding that his revelations were to demonstrate “the hypocrisy of the U.S. government, when it claims that it does not target civilian infrastructure, unlike its adversaries.”
The NSA has also been doing some media firefighting of its own. Its head man, General Keith Alexander, appeared before the Senate Appropriations Committee to defend the agency’s actions.
“The perspective is that we’re trying to hide something because we did something wrong. We’re not,” Alexander said. “We want to tell you what we’re doing, and tell you that it’s right and let the American people see this.”
The programs operate under the aegis of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and Congress and have helped stop “dozens of terrorist events.”
1:45 pm, 06/12/13
REDESIGNING THE WRETCHED NSA #PRISM POWERPOINT
Over at Co.Design, our own Sammy Medina examines how French graphic designer Emiland De Cubber recreated the infamous leaked PowerPoint with details of NSA surveillance of Facebook, Google, Skype, and more. In De Cubber’s remake, omnipresent state surveillance gains some aesthetics:
11:50 am, 06/12/13
DID ANONYMOUS FORCE NSA.GOV OFFLINE?
As of 11:45 am, the National Security Agency’s website, nsa.gov, has been offline for more than two hours. Various Anonymous-affiliated Twitter feeds including @wikicrew and @youranonnews claim members of the activist collective took the NSA’s public web presence offline.
10:50 am, 06/12/13
HOW THE NSA USES BIG DATA
OpenStack, Rackspace’s open-source cloud computing platform, is used alongside Hadoop by huge enterprise clients around the world. One of those clients is the NSA.
The NSA’s penchant for secrecy lies alongside a serious problem… America’s intelligence agencies need top notch tech minds, but the salaries Fort Meade and Langley offer pale in comparison to those in the private sector. So, for recruitment purposes, the NSA has been pretty open about their non-classified and unclassified big data platforms in an attempt to help recruitment.
Check out the video above, where the NSA’s Nathanael Burton explains how the NSA uses cloud computing and OpenStack… and don’t deny that it is pretty cool. From the Rackspace blog:
Much of the specifics of Burton’s presentation such as computational use cases, installation size, number of users and other juicy details had to be redacted, Burton explained. But he did describe the need for OpenStack, the path to implementation and the benefits the NSA gleaned from the project.
Burton explained that computer scientists within the NSA had to go through a rigorous and time-consuming process of planning projects, specifying their hardware needs and getting requisite approvals. Developers were frustrated. “The problem we were trying to solve was that it took too much time from idea to capability to develop and deploy in our development,” Burton said.
Also, Burton’s purple hair and handlebar mustache are the best dress code-stretching things we’ve ever seen out of any government agency. Well done.
10:40 am, 06/12/13
SNOWDEN GIVING FURTHER LEAKS TO HONG KONG NEWSPAPER
Well, Glenn Greenwald can’t be happy about this. The South China Morning Post, Hong Kong’s main English-language newspaper, just announced they obtained an exclusive interview with Edward Snowden. The newspaper just ran a teaser and promised to reveal additional American surveillance state secrets later today. Here’s an excerpt:
“People who think I made a mistake in picking HK as a location misunderstand my intentions. I am not here to hide from justice; I am here to reveal criminality,” Snowden told the Post earlier today.
He vowed to fight any extradition attempt by the US government, saying: “My intention is to ask the courts and people of Hong Kong to decide my fate. I have been given no reason to doubt your system.’’
10:30 am, 06/12/13
SNOWDEN REPORTEDLY SEEKING LEGAL ASSISTANCE IN HONG KONG
The Oriental Daily News, a Chinese-language Hong Kong newspaper, is reporting Edward Snowden reached out to several Hong Kong lawyers (Chinese) in past days, seeking legal assistance in his whistleblowing case.
According to a Google translation of the newspaper article, Snowden and his girlfriend visited Hong Kong in 2012 as well. Unidentified sources who spoke with the Oriental Daily claim Snowden has been in contact with Hong Kong-based human rights lawyers.
10:00 am, 06/12/2013
ED SNOWDEN, CIVIL LIBERTIES, AND REPUBLICAN PARTY RIVALRIES
Members of Congress cannot talk about their interactions with the NSA and other intelligence agencies about possible surveillance of American citizens… but they do hear from intelligence agencies officials from time to time. Some politicians are angered and scared by what they find out, but others take it in stride.
The Ed Snowden disclosures are also creating fissures in the Republican Party. Over at the American Conservative, W. James Antle III has a must-read on the war between the Republican Party’s libertarian and security state factions over tech and citizen surveillance, as embodied in Lindsey Graham:
Give Graham credit for consistency: unlike other Republican opportunists, he wants Barack Obama to exercise the same untrammeled executive powers he believes belonged to George W. Bush. No matter who the commander-in-chief is, he says America is a battlefield.
That’s why the ascendancy of Rand Paul–who would be as quick to criticize warrantless surveillance under President Romney, Ryan or Rubio–tears open a real debate within the Republican Party.
[Image: United States Congress]
7:30 pm, 06/11/2013
GOOGLE USES SFTP TO COMMUNICATE WITH NSA
Kim Zetter of Wired just spoke with Google spokesperson Chris Gaither, who said something very interesting… when handing over information relating to top-secret FISA orders, Google hands over information via secure FTP… or by hand:
“When required to comply with these requests, we deliver that information to the US government–generally through secure FTP transfers and in person,” Google spokesman Chris Gaither told Wired. “The US government does not have the ability to pull that data directly from our servers or network.”
Secure FTP, or SFTP, is a standard utility on Unix and Linux system for transferring files over an encrypted channel.
6:30 pm, 06/11/2013
ROUNDUP: IT’S LIKE DANIEL ELLSBERG USING REDDIT
Here are a few takes from today’s commentary on the ongoing NSA disclosures that Fast Company believes are of interest:
Nabeel Qureshi of GoCardless has some thoughts on smearing of Edward Snowden and compares it to the Daniel Ellsberg/Pentagon Papers case.
The sad thing is, this stuff works. A lot of my friends are incredibly smart people, but when you ask most of them about Julian Assange, I hear comments like “oh, he’s a bit creepy” or “he seems really narcissistic”. People largely stopped talking about what Wikileaks revealed years ago, & now discussion of Assange is dominated by the usual cliches about him being arrogant, a rapist, etc. That’s when you know the character assassination has worked: when even smart people have forgotten about the real point. As Assange himself said to CNN: “Do you want to talk about deaths of 104,000 people or my personal life?”
Wired‘s Quinn Norton wrote in ProPublica about practicing safer communications in very down-to-Earth language.
A warning: Computer scientists are terrible at naming things, and trying to get them to explain how things they make work is a world of Lovecraftian horrors. Nowhere is this worse than in crypto, which is full of unintuitive names and nonsensical metaphors. Fortunately you don’t really need to know how cryptography works to use it, though if you want to, there’s a video series that explains the concepts in some detail for a general audience.
And finally, friend of Fast Company danah boyd wrote a blog post trying to cut holes in the argument that NSA surveillance is okay if you have “nothing to hide”:
It’s not just one’s own actions that can be used against one’s likeness. Guilt-through-association is a popular American pastime. Remember how the media used Billy Carter to embarrass Jimmy Carter? Of course, it doesn’t take the media or require an election cycle for these connections to be made. Throughout school, my little brother had to bear the brunt of teachers who despised me because I was a rather rebellious students. So when the Boston marathon bombing occurred, it didn’t surprise me that the media went hogwild looking for any connection to the suspects. Over and over again, I watched as the media took friendships and song lyrics out of context to try to cast the suspects as devils. By all accounts, it looks as though the brothers are guilty of what they are accused of, but that doesn’t make their friends and other siblings evil or justify the media’s decision to portray the whole lot in such a negative light.
6:15 pm, 06/11/2013
FISA TECH REVOLT CONTINUES WITH MICROSOFT STATEMENT
On the heels of Google’s open letter to the federal government about super-secret FISA requests (see below), Microsoft issued a statement via email throwing their hat in with Google:
Permitting greater transparency on the aggregate volume and scope of national security requests, including FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) orders, would help the community understand and debate these important issues.
Following Microsoft’s email, Google snarkily tweeted “Breaking news. For the first time ever. @Microsoft agrees with Google.”
4:50 pm, 06/11/2013
GOOGLE TO U.S. GOVERNMENT: LET US PUBLISH MORE NATIONAL SECURITY REQUEST DATA
David Drummond, Google’s Chief Legal Officer, published an open letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI Director Robert Mueller today in Google’s official blog. In the letter, Drummond requests that Google be allowed to post more information about national security requests which give intelligence agencies access to proprietary Google user information, including emails and web surfing history:
Assertions in the press that our compliance with these requests gives the U.S. government unfettered access to our users’ data are simply untrue. However, government nondisclosure obligations regarding the number of FISA national security requests that Google receives, as well as the number of accounts covered by those requests, fuel that speculation.
We therefore ask you to help make it possible for Google to publish in our Transparency Report aggregate numbers of national security requests, including FISA disclosures—in terms of both the number we receive and their scope. Google’s numbers would clearly show that our compliance with these requests falls far short of the claims being made. Google has nothing to hide.
Google cannot legally discuss even receiving FISA letters. As the Electronic Frontier Foundation notes, they come with strict gag orders.
4:35 pm, 06/11/2013
MARK ZUCKERBERG ON NSA’S INDIRECT ACCESS TO FACEBOOK: “ANYONE CAN GO TO FACEBOOK.COM”
This morning, Facebook held their annual shareholder meeting in California. At the meeting, shareholders have the opportunity to ask Mark Zuckerberg questions. One of the questions, unsurprisingly, involved NSA surveillance of Facebook.
Los Angeles Times reporter Jessica Guynn, who live-tweeted the investor meeting, reports that Zuckerberg said the NSA can’t gain direct access to Facebook. As for indirect access, Zuckerberg said, “Anyone can go to facebook.com.”
Zuckerberg went on to hedge bets about NSA monitoring of Facebook, saying that Facebook doesn’t work directly with the NSA and doesn’t “proactively” give info. The wording leaves the possibility that the NSA obtains information from Facebook through either private data brokers or intelligence contractors with informal backdoor access to Facebook.
3:15 pm, 06/11/2013
SNOWDEN HAD A GED AND NO COLLEGE DEGREE. SO WHAT?
Edward Snowden, the NSA whistleblower/leaker currently at the center of an international government surveillance scandal, didn’t have a conventional academic background. Government intelligence agencies and Booz Allen Hamilton hired him despite the fact that he left community college and only had a GED. Fast Company‘s own Anya Kamenetz explained how, despite the shock by people like the New York Times‘ David Brooks that he didn’t have formal academic training, more and more companies are hiring technical employees from non-traditional backgrounds:
One of the biggest and fastest-growing non-college STEM jobs, which comes pretty darn close to describing Snowden’s former position, is computer systems analyst, a position that earns an average of over $82,000 a year and is growing 22% over this decade. The Department of Labor notes that a bachelor’s degree is “not always a requirement” for this job, as long as you “know how to write computer programs.”
11:00 am, 06/11/2013
BOOZ ALLEN FIRES EDWARD SNOWDEN
Booz Allen Hamilton Holding Corp, a government consulting firm and employer of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, confirmed today that it had fired Snowden yesterday for violating its ethics and policies. Snowden had been paid at a rate of $122,000.
Snowden is now said to have left his Hong Kong hotel and his whereabouts are unknown as of the time of writing.
7:00 am, 06/11/2013
RUSSIA “CONSIDERS” OFFERING SNOWDEN ASYLUM, WHITE HOUSE STAYS SILENT
Russia said this morning that it would consider offering asylum to Edward Snowden. One of its politicians, Alexey Pushkov, a critic of the U.S. and the head of the Duma’s international affairs committee, said on Twitter that the move would cause “hysterics” in Washington. “Listening to telephones and tracking the Internet, the US special services broke the laws of their country,” he continued. “In this case, Snowden, like [Wikileaks founder Julian] Assange, is a human rights activist.”
The Obama administration is coming under pressure over the affair. Opinion is split over whether Snowden is a traitor to the U.S. or whether the government’s surveillance tactics have gone too far. All the White House would say so far is that the whistleblower’s actions have sparked an “appropriate debate” and that perhaps the Patriot Act of 2001 needs to be revised.
Meanwhile Peter Boukaert, emergency director of Human Rights Watch, has warned Snowden of the dangers of staying in Hong Kong. The Chinese territory, he tweeted, helped the CIA and MI6 render a Gaddafi opponent back to Libya.
7:00 pm, 06/10/2013
HOW THE NSA SURVEILLANCE STORY BROKE
Activist filmmaker Laura Poitras gave an exclusive interview to Salon’s Irin Carmon about her initial contacts with NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Here is an excerpt:
So how did this all begin?
I was originally contacted in January, anonymously.
By Edward Snowden?
Well, I didn’t know who it was.
What was the format?
Via email. It said, I want to get your encryption key and let’s get on a secure channel.
And he didn’t say what it was about?
He just said–that was the first, and the second was, I have some information in the intelligence community. and it won’t be a waste of your time.
6:30 pm, 06/10/2013
56% OF AMERICANS BACK NSA MONITORING THEIR PHONE CALLS, 45% OF AMERICANS BACK NSA MONITORING THEIR EMAIL
The Pew Research Center surveyed 1,004 Americans this weekend on how okay they are with government surveillance of their communications. In collaboration with the Washington Post, Pew found that most Americans are okay with their communication records being aggregated by intelligence agencies as long as the investigations help combat terrorism.
Statistics on the percentages of Americans who value civil liberties over the fight against terrorism remain largely constant with other post-9/11 opinion surveys; 62% of Americans believe it’s more important to investigate terrorist threats, and 34% believe it’s more important not to intrude on privacy.
10:30 am, 06/10/2013
NSA’S MASSIVE UTAH DATA CENTER WON’T EMPLOY ANALYSTS
It’s old news by now that the NSA is building a semi-secret data center in Utah, which will store data of an unknown sort on a near infinite scale. According to public materials, the Utah data center will be able to store up to 1 trillion terabytes of data. With that said, NPR’s Howard Berkes discovered something interesting… even though the NSA is storing all that data in Utah, they’re not employing any analysts at the facility:
“When [an] analyst sits in front of their computer and does their work, they don’t particularly care from whence the data came,” (NSA Director of Installation and Logistics Harvey) Davis says. “As long as the data finds its way into the network, people who do the analytical work do not have to be geographically in the same place.”
So the Utah center will employ about 100 technicians to keep the power and water flowing and the computers and other equipment humming. The NSA and the University of Utah have developed a certificate program to train data farm technicians.
For readers curious about the purpose and goals of the Utah data center, which is generally believed to be storing electronic communications on a massive scale, a good place to start is James Bamford’s must-read Wired piece and Kashmir Hill’s post about a visit to the installation for Forbes.
8:00 pm, 06/09/2013
ODNI MAKES OFFICIAL EDWARD SNOWDEN (NON) STATEMENT
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) just made their first official statement on Edward Snowden’s public admission in The Guardian that he is responsible for the NSA leaks. Snowden was not mentioned by name in the short statement, attributed to Public Affairs Director Shawn Turner:
We have seen the latest report from The Guardian that identifies an individual claiming to have disclosed information about highly classified intelligence programs in recent days. Because the matter has been referred to the Department of Justice, we refer you to the Department of Justice for comment on any further specifics of the unauthorized disclosure of classified information by a person with authorized access. The Intelligence Community is currently reviewing the damage that has been done by these recent disclosures. Any person who has a security clearance knows that he or she has an obligation to protect classified information and abide by the law.
7:30 pm, 06/09/2013
NSA IN DECLASSIFIED MEMO: TIME TO “RETHINK” THE FOURTH AMENDMENT
In a classified memo published before the September 11 attacks, the NSA argued that it was time to “rethink” the Fourth Amendment prohibiting unreasonable search and seizure because new electronic surveillance methods call for new rules. The December 2000 memo, now declassified and archived at George Washington University, makes an unambiguous case in support of the omnipresent data-mining of BLARNEY and PRISM. Politco‘s Philip Ewing writes:
In one key paragraph, NSA wrote that its new phase meant the U.S. must reevaluate its approach toward signals intelligence, or “SIGINT,” and the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure.
“The Fourth Amendment is as applicable to eSIGINT as it is to the SIGINT of yesterday and today,” it wrote. “The Information Age will however cause us to rethink and reapply the procedures, policies and authorities born in an earlier electronic surveillance environment.”
6:20 pm, 06/09/2013
BOOZ ALLEN’S UNUSUAL HAWAII INFORMATION SECURITY JOB LISTING
Security researcher Mikko Hypponen of F-Secure found a highly unusual Booz Allen Hamilton job listing from their Hawaii office which was posted on May 22, 2013. According to The Guardian, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden fled to Hong Kong three weeks ago during the week of May 19. Here is the job description ad:
Support a client’s information assurance (IA) program manager to provide effective IA development, implementation, operation, maintenance, and modification to meet DoD and DON IA requirements in support of major communication systems. Assist IAM to research, analyze, implement, accredit, manage risk, and maintain detailed IA policies, plans, and programs. Work with the IT system owners to coordinate with command security requirements and provide systems engineering to support the certification and accreditation (C&A) manager. Develop and review documentation and artifacts for Defense Information Assurance Certification and Accreditation Process (DIACAP) packages for the command and subordinate commands. Conduct C&A validation testing, document results, and recommend steps for the remediation and mitigation of vulnerabilities. Coordinate with representatives of the Certifying Authority (CA) and Designated Approving Authority (DAA) to attain Authority to Operate (ATO) for systems and networks. This position is located in Honolulu, HI.
-4+ years of experience with network engineering or Information Assurance
-3+ years of experience with DIACAP or DITSCAP certification and accreditation within the last 5 years
-Top Secret clearance required
-IAM Level II 8570.01 M Certification (i.e. CAP, GSLC, CISM or CISSP)
-Experience with Navy IA and C&A processes
-Experience with computer network defense
-Experience with host-based security systems (HBSS)
-BA or BS degree preferred
-Fully Qualified Navy Validator Certification
Applicants selected will be subject to a security investigation and may need to meet eligibility requirements for access to classified information; Top Secret clearance is required.
To say the least, the timing of the job posting is unusual. Either way… for those with the proper security clearance, there’s a prime job opportunity in Honolulu right now.
5:55 pm, 06/09/2013
BOOZ ALLEN CONFIRMS EDWARD SNOWDEN EMPLOYMENT, WASHES HANDS OF NSA WHISTLEBLOWER
In a not-entirely unexpected development, Booz Allen Hamilton–NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden’s former employer–is trying to minimize their ties to him. The global consulting giant just released a statement. It says, in full:
Booz Allen can confirm that Edward Snowden, 29, has been an employee of our firm for less than 3 months, assigned to a team in Hawaii. News reports that this individual has claimed to have leaked classified information are shocking, and if accurate, this action represents a grave violation of the code of conduct and core values of our firm. We will work closely with our clients and authorities in their investigation of this matter.
According to The Guardian, Snowden was a former CIA technical assistant who allegedly joined the global consulting giant in 2013. Snowden, who also worked with Dell for a period, did not apparently last very long at Booz Allen.
3:15 pm, 06/09/2013
EDWARD SNOWDEN: NSA WHISTLEBLOWER COMES FORWARD
We now know the identity of the whistleblower who revealed the existence of PRISM and NSA American mobile phone surveillance to The Guardian. Meet Edward Snowden:
The individual responsible for one of the most significant leaks in US political history is Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old former technical assistant for the CIA and current employee of the defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton. Snowden has been working at the National Security Agency for the last four years as an employee of various outside contractors, including Booz Allen and Dell.
The Guardian, after several days of interviews, is revealing his identity at his request. From the moment he decided to disclose numerous top-secret documents to the public, he was determined not to opt for the protection of anonymity. “I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong,” he said.
Snowden is currently in Hong Kong; President Obama met with Chinese leader Xi Jinping this week at approximately the same time the NSA leaks became public.
10:15 am, 06/09/2013
PRISM AND TOR
Mike Perry of The Tor Project (which Fast Company has covered before) just wrote a very interesting blog post explaining some of the technical aspects of PRISM (as we now understand it), and Tor’s advantages and disadvantages in the face of NSA surveillance. Some of the finer-grained tech points are fascinating, and the post is well worth a read:
The core Tor software’s job is to conceal your identity from your recipient, and to conceal your recipient and your content from observers on your end. By itself, Tor does not protect the actual communications content once it leaves the Tor network. This can make it useful against some forms of metadata analysis, but this also means Tor is best used in combination with other tools.
Through the use of HTTPS-Everywhere in Tor Browser, in many cases we can protect your communications content where parts of the Tor network and/or your recipients’ infrastructure are compromised or under surveillance. The EFF has created an excellent interactive graphic to help illustrate and clarify these combined properties.
Through the use of combinations of additional software like TorBirdy and Enigmail, OTR, and Diaspora, Tor can also protect your communications content in cases where the communications infrastructure (Google/Facebook) is compromised.
However, the real interesting use cases for Tor in the face of dragnet surveillance like this is not that Tor can protect your gmail/facebook accounts from analysis (in fact, Tor could never really protect account usage metadata), but that Tor and hidden services are actually a key building block to build systems where it is no longer possible to go to a single party and obtain the full metadata, communications frequency, *or* contents. Tor hidden services are arbitrary communications endpoints that are resistant to both metadata analysis and surveillance.
10:05 am, 06/09/2013
NSA REQUESTING CRIMINAL PROBE INTO GUARDIAN, WASHINGTON POST LEAKS
The NSA officially requested a criminal probe into the leak of documents exposing a wide-ranging surveillance project that involved datamining American tech firms. After leaked documents appeared in the Guardian and Washington Post late last week, the story began to dominate the global news cycle–overtaking ongoing protests in Turkey, the war in Syria, and meetings between the leaders of China and the United States.
Reuters’ Timothy Gardner and Mark Hosenball report:
It was not known how broad a leaks investigation was requested by the super-secret NSA, but Shawn Turner, a spokesman for (Director of National Intelligence) Clapper’s office, said a “crimes report has been filed.” The report goes to the Justice Department, which has established procedures for determining whether an investigation is warranted.
10:00 am, 06/09/2013
THE GOVERNMENT’S PRISM INFOSHEET IS HERE
On Saturday, the Director of National Intelligence released an official information sheet on PRISM. The document, titled “Facts on the Collection of Intelligence Pursuant to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act,” describes NSA datamining of millions of telephone calls and emails being justified by Section 702.
Section 702 facilitates the targeted acquisition of foreign intelligence information concerning foreign targets located outside the United States under court oversight. Service providers supply information to the Government when they are lawfully required to do so.
Intriguingly, Section 702 cannot be used to intentionally target any U.S. citizens. But communications from U.S. citizens that get (intentionally or unintentionally) caught up in the NSA’s secret drop boxes or datamining schemes? Those can be used by the NSA.
9:45 am, 06/09/2013
THE SEMANTICS AND SEMIOTICS OF PRISM DENIALS
Bouncing back to an earlier discussion of those strangely worded tech company comments on PRISM, which discuss possible compliance with the NSA’s secretive cyberspying program in heavily lawyered-up language, Yahoo’s statement gives something of interest. On Saturday afternoon, Yahoo chief counsel Ron Bell posted on Tumblr to discuss any possible communications his company had with the NSA:
We want to set the record straight about stories that Yahoo! has joined a program called PRISM through which we purportedly volunteer information about our users to the U.S. government and give federal agencies access to our user databases. These claims are false.
Yahoo! has not joined any program in which we volunteer to share user data with the U.S. government. We do not voluntarily disclose user information. The only disclosures that occur are in response to specific demands. And, when the government does request user data from Yahoo!, we protect our users. We demand that such requests be made through lawful means and for lawful purposes. We fight any requests that we deem unclear, improper, overbroad, or unlawful. We carefully scrutinize each request, respond only when required to do so, and provide the least amount of data possible consistent with the law.
However, Chris Soghoian of the ACLU–a well known analyst on all matters related to technology, privacy, and the law–deconstructed Yahoo’s statement and found that Yahoo might be more associated with PRISM than they let on. A small excerpt:
No one has claimed that the PRISM program is voluntary. As the Director of National Intelligence has confirmed, the PRISM program involves court orders granted using Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
By falsely describing PRISM as a voluntary scheme, Yahoo’s general counsel is then able to deny involvement outright. Very sneaky.
7:16 pm, 06/08/2013
THE GUARDIAN REVEALS GLOBAL SURVEILLANCE TOOL, “BOUNDLESS INFORMANT”
The Guardian‘s Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill report today on one tool in the NSA’s spying arsenal:
The Guardian has acquired top-secret documents about the NSA datamining tool, called Boundless Informant, that details and even maps by country the voluminous amount of information it collects from computer and telephone networks. The focus of the internal NSA tool is on counting and categorizing the records of communications, known as metadata, rather than the content of an email or instant message. The Boundless Informant documents show the agency collecting almost 3 billion pieces of intelligence from US computer networks over a 30-day period ending in March 2013.
Today’s latest revelation by the Guardian suggests that the NSA may have been less than forthright to Congress when it comes to the scope of its digital surveillance programs:
The disclosure of the internal Boundless Informant system comes amid a struggle between the NSA and its overseers in the Senate over whether it can track the intelligence it collects on American communications. The NSA’s position is that it is not technologically feasible to do so. At a hearing of the Senate intelligence committee In March this year, Democratic senator Ron Wyden asked James Clapper, the director of national intelligence: “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” “No sir,” replied Clapper. Judith Emmel, an NSA spokeswoman, told the Guardian in a response to the latest disclosures: “NSA has consistently reported – including to Congress – that we do not have the ability to determine with certainty the identity or location of all communicants within a given communication. That remains the case.” Other documents seen by the Guardian further demonstrate that the NSA does in fact break down its surveillance intercepts which could allow the agency to determine how many of them are from the US. The level of detail includes individual IP addresses.
Looking through Boundless Informant’s (unclassified) FAQ, it’s important to note that the FAQ describes Boundless Informant as a “a GAO prototype tool for a self-documenting SIGINT system. The purpose of the tool is to fundamentally shift the manner in which the GAO describes its collection posture.” (GAO is the Government Accountability Office; SIGINT is shorthand for signals intelligence).
Additionally, according to the FAQ, “the tool does not contain ECI or FISA data.” FISA data is at the center of this week’s accusations that top tech companies have cooperated with the NSA by either offering direct access to their servers or by creating drop box access to private user data.
4:44 pm, 06/08/2013
DID THEY OR DIDN’T THEY? COMPANIES DENY “DIRECT ACCESS”–BUT IS IT ALL JUST SEMANTICS AT THIS POINT?
After revelations about alleged NSA secret surveillance came to light, many industry bigs came forward to deny giving the government “direct access” to company servers, as the Guardian claimed they had done.
But according to a New York Times report, many tech companies:
…opened discussions with national security officials about developing technical methods to more efficiently and securely share the personal data of foreign users in response to lawful government requests. And in some cases, they changed their computer systems to do so.
The companies that negotiated with the government include Google, which owns YouTube; Microsoft, which owns Hotmail and Skype; Yahoo; Facebook; AOL; Apple; and Paltalk, according to one of the people briefed on the discussions. The companies were legally required to share the data under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
(Intel was also named in the Times report.)
The Times sources were referring to tech companies cooperating with the government when it came to non-American users’ data, under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). However, the sources went on to discuss the possibility of virtual drop boxes being built between tech companies and the U.S. government:
In at least two cases, at Google and Facebook, one of the plans discussed was to build separate, secure portals, like a digital version of the secure physical rooms that have long existed for classified information, in some instances on company servers. Through these online rooms, the government would request data, companies would deposit it and the government would retrieve it, people briefed on the discussions said.
According to the Times‘ sources, Facebook went as far as to build this kind of drop box system.
So how could Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg righteously claim that “Facebook is not and has never been part of any program to give the U.S. or any other government direct access to our servers”? How about Google’s Larry Page‘s statement that “we have not joined any program that would give the U.S. government–or any other government–direct access to our servers”? Or similar statements denying “direct access” from Apple, Paltalk, and Yahoo?
Well, if the drop box allegations in the Times report are accurate, then it’s technically true that these companies didn’t give the government “direct access” to their servers–but at what point do we decide this is just a public relations game of semantics and technicalities? Direct access, back doors, lock boxes, drop boxes–whatever the exact nature of the processes by which it happened, the revelations make it seem there is a pretty high chance that a lot of data collected by private tech companies has been made available to the government in a fairly streamlined fashion, one way or another. As the Times notes, what is transmitted through a drop box as part of a FISA request could potentially be very broad:
FISA orders can range from inquiries about specific people to a broad sweep for intelligence, like logs of certain search terms, lawyers who work with the orders said.
6:07 p.m, 06/07/2013
MARK ZUCKERBERG: “WE HADN’T EVEN HEARD OF PRISM BEFORE YESTERDAY.”
Facebook’s chief geek has vehemently denied, via his profile page, that his company gives the feds direct access to Facebook servers:
I want to respond personally to the outrageous press reports about PRISM:
Facebook is not and has never been part of any program to give the U.S. or any other government direct access to our servers. We have never received a blanket request or court order from any government agency asking for information or metadata in bulk, like the one Verizon reportedly received. And if we did, we would fight it aggressively. We hadn’t even heard of PRISM before yesterday.
When governments ask Facebook for data, we review each request carefully to make sure they always follow the correct processes and all applicable laws, and then only provide the information if it is required by law. We will continue fighting aggressively to keep your information safe and secure.
We strongly encourage all governments to be much more transparent about all programs aimed at keeping the public safe. It’s the only way to protect everyone’s civil liberties and create the safe and free society we all want over the long term.
3:45 pm, 06/07/2013
THE NSA’S WHISTLEBLOWER PROBLEM
An interesting story from the Calgary Herald‘s Kris Kotarski reveals something very interesting: Whistleblowers are dissatisfied with the NSA engaging in recreational spying. Going back to 2008, Kotarski has this to say:
Another linguist, 31-year-old Adrienne Kinne, told ABC that the NSA would listen to calls made by military officers, journalists and aid workers from organizations such as the International Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders, listening to “personal, private things with Americans who are not in any way, shape or form associated with anything to do with terrorism.” “We knew they were working for these aid organizations. They were identified in our systems as ‘belongs to the International Red Cross’ and all these other organizations,” Kinne told ABC News. “And yet, instead of blocking these phone numbers, we continued to collect on them.”
3:00 pm, 06/07/2013
ANONYMOUS LEAKS PRISM DOCS
This morning, activist collective Anonymous leaked a number of classified documents about PRISM. On Pastebin, Anonymous members wrote that:
Anonymous has obtained some documents that “they” do not want you to see, and much to “their” chagrin, we have found them, and are giving them to you.
These documents prove that the NSA is spying on you, and not just Americans. They are spying on the citizens of over 35 different countries. These documents contain information on the companies involved in GiG, and Prism. Whats GiG you might ask? well (sic)… The GIG will enable the secure, agile, robust, dependable, interoperable data sharing environment for the Department where warfighter, business, and intelligence users share knowledge on a global network that facilitates information superiority, accelerates decision-making, effective operations, and Net-Centric transformation.
The documents Anonymous posted are a mix of PDFs and PowerPoint documents. Potential muckrakers, be warned: They are written in dry, dry bureaucratese.
A couple of quick thoughts:
1. How long have whistleblowers had these docs for? The documents posted come mostly from 2008-2010.
2. Did the docs come from the same whistleblower who tipped off Glenn Greenwald, or did hackers use the Guardian breadcrumbs to find these?
3. Just what will happen to this whistleblower, if it is the same person, if or when they are caught?
2:45 pm, 06/07/2013
GOOGLE, FACEBOOK, SKYPE… AND PALTALK?
When news of the PRISM program leaked out, most of the world’s major communication services (save Twitter and Sina Weibo) were implicated in giving the NSA access to their databases. Among the companies cooperating with the NSA is Paltalk–a relatively obscure video chat service. But what is Paltalk, and why are the NSA tracking them?
Uri Friedman at Foreign Policy has the scoop:
The Washington Post mentions that PalTalk has received substantial traffic during the Arab Spring and Syrian civil war, but people have also raised concerns for years now about terrorists using its chat rooms (in 2012, for instance, the British press reported that four men plotting to bomb the London Stock Exchange had made contact with each other through the service). In 2009, the year PalTalk reportedly began participating in the NSA’s program, a U.N. report on the “Use of the Internet for Terrorist Purposes” expressed concern about al Qaeda propaganda spreading in “debate groups such as Yahoo and PalTalk.”
That is to say it appears that Paltalk was targeted because of its use by non-U.S. citizens of interest to the NSA.
2:30 pm, 06/07/2013
HOW TO BEAT THE NSA TO THE PUNCH… THE WORLD OF SELF-SURVEILLANCE
Shortly before the PRISM and NSA Verizon spying stories broke, Fast Company ran two stories by Sarah Kessler about a New York University graduate student who decided to benefit financially from the massive amount of online metadata he generated. Frederico Zannier began selling his personal Internet activity for $2 a day on Kickstarter as a thought experiment. Basically, Zannier figured he should benefit financially from the aggregate web data that the massive online advertising industry parses on a daily basis.
“The project, his thesis at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunication Program, was at first simply intended to be a way to bring online tracking into his daily consciousness. He planned to publish the data he harvested, along with these awesome data visualizations, because, he says, “I love data visualizations.” The idea to sell the data via Kickstarter came later,” Kessler wrote.
1:50 pm, 06/07/2013
HOW THE NSA CAN READ YOUR GMAIL
The Washington Post has confirmed the existence of a secret program called PRISM, which gives the NSA a backdoor into Internet communications from all major service providers besides (as of writing) Twitter.
As Fast Company‘s Kit Eaton writes, “PRISM allows the NSA to directly get its hands on many different kinds of data concerning the Internet habits of individuals, from email contents to user-specific information. After initial claims were made that firms such as Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Apple, Facebook, Skype and others were willingly handing over data, most of the companies involved denied they were actively participating and some said they had no knowledge of the program.”
1:45 pm, 06/07/2013
HOW THE NSA TRACKS AMERICA’S PHONE CALLS
As The Guardian reported, the NSA is collecting metadata related to phone call activity on Verizon (and likely other) carriers. So how does this work?
Yesterday, Fast Company discussed just what telecom metadata is. The information the NSA was collecting included the phone numbers that Verizon customers dialed, the phone numbers of the people who called them, the duration of the call, and identifying information about the Verizon customer. However, as far as we know, the contents of the call were not accessible to the NSA.
1:30 pm, 06/07/2013
PUBLIC PERCEPTION: ARE YOU OKAY WITH THE NSA HAVING A DATA DUMP OF YOUR EMAILS?
The Pew Research Center has released a civil liberties poll package of their recent opinion polling on government surveillance. In a nutshell, Americans are largely opposed to the government having access to private communications.
According to Pew’s 10th-anniversary-of-9/11 polling, only 29% of Americans favor “the U.S. government monitoring personal telephone calls and emails” as part of a broad-based anti-terrorism program. Of course, this turns out to be exactly the case–as Glenn Greenwald‘s scoop proves, the NSA has been vacuuming up any data they can get their hands on.