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NSA's Dirty Work Exposed

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#81 Zharkov

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Posted 14 March 2014 - 05:08 AM

More evidence that the NSA and Obama are liars:

 

New research published by Stanford Univeristy Wednesday reveal phone and Internet metadata collected by the NSA can expose far more information about an individual than the agency admits, including, “medical conditions, financial and legal connections, and even whether they own a gun.”

Two of the school’s computer science graduate students were able to uncover the sensitive personal details of individuals from phone data details, like the numbers of callers and recipients, the location of callers, phone serial numbers and the length of conversations — all of which are data the signals intelligence agency collects in bulk both domestically and internationally.

Of the 33,688 unique numbers called by the study’s 546 study volunteers, students were able to positively identify a specific individual in 18 percent of those calls. They were also able to discern 57 percent made at least one medical call and 40 percent made a financial services call.

Computer scientists Jonathan Mayer and Patrick Mutchler, the doctoral students that authored the study, say metadata are “extremely sensitive and revealing,” and “can yield a wealth of detail about family, political, professional, religious and sexual associations.”

“It would be no technical challenge to scale these identifications to a larger population,” Mayer told Stanford News, referencing similar metadata analysis the NSA is almost certainly already engaged in.

The two began by asking, ”Is it easy to draw sensitive inferences from phone metadata? How often do people conduct sensitive matters by phone? We turned to our crowdsourced MetaPhone dataset for empirical answers.” At the outset, they didn’t expect to find much.

“We were wrong,” Mayer said. “Phone metadata is unambiguously sensitive, even over a small sample and short time window. We were able to infer medical conditions, firearm ownership and more, using solely phone metadata,” he said.

Using an Android application to crowdsource the data of “sensitive” calls made by volunteers, the students then analyzed the individual call results and established patterns to show how much detail could be drawn from phone metadata.

“A pattern of calls will, of course, reveal more than individual call records,” Mayer said. “In our analysis, we identified a number of patterns that were highly indicative of sensitive activities or traits.”

In an example cited by the Stanford report, one volunteer called multiple neurology offices, a specialty pharmacy, a management service for rare medical conditions and a pharmaceutical hotline for multiple sclerosis. A second called a home improvement retailer, locksmiths, plant hydroponics seller and a head shop — slightly more indicative of questionable legal activity.

Since the leaks detailing the classified mass surveillance programs began last summer, intelligence agency heads and even President Obama have repeatedly asserted the data is examined for content, not identity. While ongoing leaks have brought that claim into question, the fact that identities, along with sensitive personal information, can easily be discerned with metadata is an advancing, precise reality.

http://dailycaller.c...bout-your-life/


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#82 Zharkov

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Posted 15 March 2014 - 01:56 AM

NSA Impersonated Facebook to Infect Millions of Computers

With the intention to infect millions of computers with malware, the National Security Agency impersonated popular social networking site Facebook.

According to documents leaked by Edward Snowden, the clandestine initiative enabled the NSA to break into targeted computers and to siphon out data from foreign Internet and phone networks.

Journalists Glenn Greenwald and Ryan Gallagher reported in The Intercept: “In some cases the NSA has masqueraded as a fake Facebook server, using the social media site as a launching pad to infect a target’s computer and exfiltrate files from a hard drive. In others, it has sent out spam emails laced with the malware, which can be tailored to covertly record audio from a computer’s microphone and take snapshots with its webcam. The hacking systems have also enabled the NSA to launch cyberattacks by corrupting and disrupting file downloads or denying access to websites.”

The Facebook exploit was called QUANTUMHAND and was first used on a few hundred hard-to-reach targets, whose communications could not be monitored through traditional wiretaps.

After that, the NSA planned to spread it to millions of computers around the globe using an automated system known internally as TURBINE.

TURBINE gave members of the NSA’s Tailored Access Operations (TAO) unit the ability to tap into or destroy computers on a massive scale, documents show.

http://benswann.com/...s-of-computers/


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#83 Zharkov

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Posted 18 March 2014 - 04:10 PM

NSA surveillance program reaches ‘into the past’ to retrieve, replay phone calls

By Barton Gellman and Ashkan Soltani

The National Security Agency has built a surveillance system capable of recording “100 percent” of a foreign country’s telephone calls, enabling the agency to rewind and review conversations as long as a month after they take place, according to people with direct knowledge of the effort and documents supplied by former contractor Edward Snowden.

A senior manager for the program compares it to a time machine — one that can replay the voices from any call without requiring that a person be identified in advance for surveillance.

The voice interception program, called MYSTIC, began in 2009. Its RETRO tool, short for “retrospective retrieval,” and related projects reached full capacity against the first target nation in 2011. Planning documents two years later anticipated similar operations elsewhere.

In the initial deployment, collection systems are recording “every single” conversation nationwide, storing billions of them in a 30-day rolling buffer that clears the oldest calls as new ones arrive, according to a classified summary.

The call buffer opens a door “into the past,” the summary says, enabling users to “retrieve audio of interest that was not tasked at the time of the original call.” Analysts listen to only a fraction of 1 percent of the calls, but the absolute numbers are high. Each month, they send millions of voice clippings, or “cuts,” for processing and long-term storage.

At the request of U.S. officials, The Washington Post is withholding details that could be used to identify the country where the system is being employed or other countries where its use was envisioned.

No other NSA program disclosed to date has swallowed a nation’s telephone network whole. Outside experts have sometimes described that prospect as disquieting but remote, with notable implications for a growing debate over the NSA’s practice of “bulk collection” abroad.

Bulk methods capture massive data flows “without the use of discriminants,” as President Obama put it in January. By design, they vacuum up all the data they touch — meaning that most of the conversations collected by RETRO would be irrelevant to U.S. national security interests.

In the view of U.S. officials, however, the capability is highly valuable.

In a statement, Caitlin Hayden, spokeswoman for the National Security Council, declined to comment on “specific alleged intelligence activities.” Speaking generally, she said “new or emerging threats” are “often hidden within the large and complex system of modern global communications, and the United States must consequently collect signals intelligence in bulk in certain circumstances in order to identify these threats.”

NSA spokeswoman Vanee Vines, in an e-mailed statement, said that “continuous and selective reporting of specific techniques and tools used for legitimate U.S. foreign intelligence activities is highly detrimental to the national security of the United States and of our allies, and places at risk those we are sworn to protect.”

Some of the documents provided by Snowden suggest that high-volume eavesdropping may soon be extended to other countries, if it has not been already. The RETRO tool was built three years ago as a “unique one-off capability,” but last year’s secret intelligence budget named five more countries for which the MYSTIC program provides “comprehensive metadata access and content,” with a sixth expected to be in place by last October.

The budget did not say whether the NSA now records calls in quantity in those countries, or expects to do so. A separate document placed high priority on planning “for MYSTIC accesses against projected new mission requirements,” including “voice.”

Ubiquitous voice surveillance, even overseas, pulls in a great deal of content from Americans who telephone, visit and work in the target country. It may also be seen as inconsistent with Obama’s Jan. 17 pledge “that the United States is not spying on ordinary people who don’t threaten our national security,” regardless of nationality, “and that we take their privacy concerns into account.”

In a presidential policy directive, Obama instructed the NSA and other agencies that bulk acquisition may be used only to gather intelligence on one of six specified threats, including nuclear proliferation and terrorism. The directive, however, also noted that limits on bulk collection “do not apply to signals intelligence data that is temporarily acquired to facilitate targeted collection.”

The emblem of the MYSTIC program depicts a cartoon wizard with a telephone-headed staff. Among the agency’s bulk collection programs disclosed over the past year, its focus on the spoken word is unique. Most of the programs have involved the bulk collection of either metadata — which does not include content — or text, such as e-mail address books.

Telephone calls are often thought to be more ephemeral and less suited than text for processing, storage and search. Indeed, there are indications that the call-recording program has been hindered by the NSA’s limited capacity to store and transmit bulky voice files.

In the first year of its deployment, a program officer wrote that the project “has long since reached the point where it was collecting and sending home far more than the bandwidth could handle.”

Because of similar capacity limits across a range of collection programs, the NSA is leaping forward with cloud-based collection systems and a gargantuan new “mission data repository” in Utah. According to its overview briefing, the Utah facility is designed “to cope with the vast increases in digital data that have accompanied the rise of the global network.”

Christopher Soghoian, the principal technologist for the American Civil Liberties Union, said history suggests that “over the next couple of years they will expand to more countries, retain data longer and expand the secondary uses.”

Spokesmen for the NSA and the Office of Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. declined to confirm or deny expansion plans or discuss the criteria for any change.

Based on RETRO’s internal reviews, the NSA has strong motive to deploy it elsewhere. In the documents and interviews, U.S. officials said RETRO is uniquely valuable when an analyst first uncovers a new name or telephone number of interest.

With up to 30 days of recorded conversations in hand, the NSA can pull an instant history of the subject’s movements, associates and plans. Some other U.S. intelligence agencies also have access to RETRO.

Highly classified briefings cite examples in which the tool offered high-stakes intelligence that would not have existed under traditional surveillance programs in which subjects were identified for targeting in advance. Unlike most of the government’s public claims about the value of controversial programs, the briefings supply names, dates, locations and fragments of intercepted calls in convincing detail.

Present and former U.S. officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity to provide context for a classified program, acknowledged that large numbers of conversations involving Americans would be gathered from the country where RETRO operates.

The NSA does not attempt to filter out their calls, defining them as communications “acquired incidentally as a result of collection directed against appropriate foreign intelligence targets.”

Until about 20 years ago, such incidental collection was unusual unless an American was communicating directly with a foreign intelligence target. In bulk collection systems, which are exponentially more capable than the ones in use throughout the Cold War, calls and other data from U.S. citizens and permanent residents are regularly ingested by the millions.

Under the NSA’s internal “minimization rules,” those intercepted communications “may be retained and processed” and included in intelligence reports. The agency generally removes the names of U.S. callers, but there are several broadly worded exceptions.

An independent group tasked by the White House to review U.S. surveillance policies recommended that incidentally collected U.S. calls and e-mails — including those obtained overseas — should nearly always “be purged upon detection.” Obama did not accept that recommendation.

Vines, in her statement, said the NSA’s work is “strictly conducted under the rule of law.”

RETRO and MYSTIC are carried out under Executive Order 12333, the traditional grant of presidential authority to intelligence agencies for operations outside the United States.

Since August, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and others on that panel have been working on plans to assert a greater oversight role for intelligence gathering abroad. Some legislators are now considering whether Congress should also draft new laws to govern those operations.

Experts say there is not much legislation that governs overseas intelligence work.

“Much of the U.S. government’s intelligence collection is not regulated by any statute passed by Congress,” said Timothy H. Edgar, the former director of privacy and civil liberties on Obama’s national security staff. “There’s a lot of focus on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which is understandable, but that’s only a slice of what the intelligence community does.”

All surveillance must be properly authorized for a legitimate intelligence purpose, he said, but that “still leaves a gap for activities that otherwise basically aren’t regulated by law because they’re not covered by FISA.”

Beginning in 2007, Congress loosened 40-year-old restrictions on domestic surveillance because so much foreign data crossed U.S. territory. There were no comparable changes to protect the privacy of U.S. citizens and residents whose calls and e-mails now routinely cross international borders.

Vines noted that the NSA’s job is to “identify threats within the large and complex system of modern global communications,” where ordinary people share fiber-optic cables with legitimate intelligence targets.

For Peter Swire, a member of the president’s review group, the fact that Americans and foreigners use the same devices, software and networks calls for greater care to safeguard Americans’ privacy.

“It’s important to have institutional protections so that advanced capabilities used overseas don’t get turned against our democracy at home,” he said.

http://www.washingto...0f19_story.html


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#84 Zharkov

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Posted 29 March 2014 - 07:24 PM

Britain's GCHQ intelligence service infiltrated German Internet firms and America's NSA obtained a court order to spy on Germany and collected information about the chancellor in a special database.

 

Is it time for the country to open a formal espionage investigation?

The headquarters of Stellar, a company based in the town of Hürth near Cologne, are visible from a distance. Seventy-five white antennas dominate the landscape. The biggest are 16 meters (52 feet) tall and kept in place by steel anchors. It is an impressive sight and serves as a popular backdrop for scenes in TV shows, including the German action series "Cobra 11."

Stellar operates a satellite ground station in Hürth, a so-called "teleport." Its services are used by companies and institutions; Stellar's customers include Internet providers, telecommunications companies and even a few governments. "The world is our market," is the high-tech company's slogan.

Using their ground stations and leased capacities from satellites, firms like Stellar -- or competitors like Cetel in the nearby village of Ruppichteroth or IABG, which is headquartered in Ottobrunn near Munich -- can provide Internet and telephone services in even the most remote areas. They provide communications links to places like oil drilling platforms, diamond mines, refugee camps and foreign outposts of multinational corporations and international organizations.

Super high-speed Internet connections are required at the ground stations in Germany in order to ensure the highest levels of service possible. Most are connected to major European Internet backbones that offer particularly high bandwidth.

Probing German Internet Traffic

The service they offer isn't just attractive to customers who want to improve their connectivity. It is also of interest to Britain's GCHQ intelligence service, which has targeted the German companies. Top secret documents from the archive of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden viewed by SPIEGEL show that the British spies surveilled employees of several German companies, and have also infiltrated their networks.

One top-secret GCHQ paper claims the agency sought "development of in-depth knowledge of key satellite IP service providers in Germany."

The document, which is undated, states that the goal of the effort was developing wider knowledge of Internet traffic flowing through Germany. The 26-page document explicitly names three of the German companies targeted for surveillance: Stellar, Cetel and IABG.

The operation, carried out at listening stations operated jointly by GCHQ with the NSA in Bude, in Britain's Cornwall region, is largely directed at Internet exchange points used by the ground station to feed the communications of their large customers into the broadband Internet. In addition to spying on the Internet traffic passing through these nodes, the GCHQ workers state they are also seeking to identify important customers of the German teleport providers, their technology suppliers as well as future technical trends in their business sector.

The document also states that company employees are targets -- particularly engineers -- saying that they should be detected and "tasked," intelligence jargon for monitoring. In the case of Stellar, the top secret GCHQ paper includes the names and email addresses of 16 employees, including CEO Christian Steffen. In addition, it also provides a list of the most-important customers and partners. Contacted by SPIEGEL, Stellar CEO Steffen said he had not been aware of any attempts by intelligence services to infiltrate or hack his company. "I am shocked," he said.

'Servers of Interest'

Intelligence workers in Bude also appear to have succeeded in infiltrating competitor Cetel. The document states that workers came across four "servers of interest" and were able to create a comprehensive list of customers. According to Cetel CEO Guido Neumann, the company primarily serves customers in Africa and the Middle East and its clients include non-governmental organizations as well as a northern European country that uses Cetel to connect its diplomatic outposts to the Internet. Neumann also says he was surprised when he learned his firm had been a target.

The firm IABG in Ottobrunn appears to have been of particular interest to the intelligence service -- at least going by a short notation that only appears next to the Bavarian company's name. It notes, "this may have already been looked at by NSA NAC," a reference to the NSA's network analysis center.

IABG's history goes back to the 1970s. The company was established as a test laboratory for aerospace and space technologies. The German Defense Ministry was an important client as well. Although the company has been privately held since 1993, it has continued to play a role in a number of major projects connected at least in part to the government. For example, it operated the testing facility for Germany's Transrapid super high-speed maglev train and also conducted testing on the Airbus A380 super jumbo jet and the Ariane rocket, the satellite launcher at the heart of the European space program.

IABG also does considerable business with the Bundeswehr, Germany's armed forces. The company states that its "defense and security" unit is "committed to the armed forces and their procurement projects." These include solutions for "security issues, for prevention and reactions against dangers like terrorism and attacks against critical infrastructure."

Like Stellar and Cetel, the company also operates a satellite ground station -- one that apparently got hacked, according to the GCHQ document. It includes a list of IABG routers and includes their network addresses. In addition, it contains the email addresses of 16 employees at the company named as possible targets. IABG did not respond to a request for comment from SPIEGEL. In a statement, GCHQ said it does not comment on intelligence-related issues but "all of GCHQ's work is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework which ensures that our activities are authorised, necessary and proportionate."

Classic Acts of Espionage

Monitoring companies and their employees along with the theft of customer lists are classic acts of economic espionage. Indeed, such revelations ought be a case for the German federal public prosecutors' office, which in the past has initiated investigations into comparable cases involving Russia or China.

So far, however, German Federal Public Prosecutor Harald Range has been struggling with the NSA issue. Some experienced investigators have had a problem applying the same criteria used to assess intelligence services like Russia's to those of the United States and Britain. Federal prosecutors in Karlsruhe have provided a preliminary assessment, but so far no decision has been made about whether the agency will move forward with legal proceedings.

Under review at the moment are allegations that the NSA monitored the chancellor's mobile phone and also conducted mass surveillance on the communications of millions of Germans. Range recently told the Berlin-based daily Die Tageszeitung the affair was "an extremely complicated issue."

"I am currently reviewing whether reasonable suspicion even exists for an actionable criminal offense," he told the newspaper. "Only if I can affirm that can I then address the question of whether a judiciary inquiry would run contrary to the general public interest -- a review required for any espionage-related crime" in Germany. A decision is expected soon.

The launch of legal proceedings against GCHQ agents or NSA employees would quickly become a major political issue that would further burden already tense trans-Atlantic relations. An additional problem is the fact that Range is in possession of very few original documents, particularly those pertaining to the NSA's monitoring of Chancellor Merkel.

A secret NSA document dealing with high-ranking targets has provided further indications that Merkel was a target. The document is a presentation from the NSA's Center for Content Extraction, whose multiple tasks include the automated analysis of all types of text data. The lists appear to contain 122 country leaders. Twelve names are listed as an example, including Merkel's.

The list begins with "A," as in Abdullah Badawi, the former Malaysian prime minister, and continues with the presidents of Peru, Somalia, Guatemala and Colombia right up to Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. The final name on the list, No. 122, is Yulia Tymoshenko, who was Ukrainian prime minister at the time. The NSA listed the international leaders alphabetically by their first name, with Tymoshenko listed under "Y". Merkel is listed under "A" as the ninth leader, right behind Malawian President Amadou Toumani Touré, but before Syrian dictator Bashar Assad.

Graphic: Chief of State Citations
The document indicates that Angela Merkel has been placed in the so-called "Target Knowledge Database" (TKB), the central database of individual targets. An internal NSA description states that employees can use it to analyze "complete profiles" of target persons. The responsible NSA unit praises the automated machine-driven administration of collected information about high-value targets.

The searchable sources cited in the document include, among others, the signals intelligence database "Marina," which contains metadata ingested from sources around the world. The unit also gives special attention to promoting a system for automated name recognition called "Nymrod". The document states that some 300 automatically generated "cites," or citations, are provided for Angela Merkel alone. The citations in "Nymrod" are derived from intelligence agencies, transcripts of intercepted fax, voice and computer-to-computer communication. According to internal NSA documents, it is used to "find information relating to targets that would otherwise be tough to track down." Each of the names contained in Nymrod is considered a "SIGINT target."

The manual maintenance of the database with high-ranking targets is a slow and painstaking process, the document notes, and fewer than 200,000 targets are managed through the system. Automated capture, by contrast, simplifies the saving of the data and makes it possible to manage more than 3 million entries, including names and the citations connected to them.

The table included in the document indicates the capture and maintenance of records pertaining to Merkel already appears to have been automated. In any case, the document indicates that a manual update was not available in May 2009. The document could be another piece of the puzzle for investigators in Karlsruhe because it shows that Chancellor Merkel was an official target for spying.

In addition to surveillance of the chancellor, the Federal Prosecutor's Office is also exploring the question of whether the NSA conducted mass espionage against the German people. The internal NSA material also includes a weekly report dating from March 2013 from the Special Sources Operations (SSO) division, the unit responsible for securing NSA access to major Internet backbone structures, like fiber optic cables.

In the document, the team that handles contact with US telecommunications providers like AT&T or Verizon reports on the legal foundations with which it monitors the data of certain countries. According to the SSO report, FISA, the special court responsible for intelligence agency requests, provided the NSA with authorization to monitor "Germany" on March 7, 2013. The case number provided in the ruling is 13-319.

A License to Spy

The documents do not provide sufficient information to precisely determine the types of data included in the order, and the NSA has said it will not comment on the matter. However, lawyers at the American Civil Liberties Union believe it provides the NSA with permission to access the communications of all German citizens, regardless whether those affected are suspected of having committed an offense or not. Under the FISA Amendments Act, the NSA is permitted to conduct blanket surveillance in foreign countries without any requirement to submit individual cases for review by the court, whose deliberations and rulings are top secret.

According to the partial list in the document, the court has provided similar authorization for countries including, China, Mexico, Japan, Venezuela, Yemen, Brazil, Sudan, Guatemala, Bosnia and Russia. In practice, the NSA uses this permission in diverse ways -- sometimes it uses it to monitor telecommunications companies, and at others it surveils individuals.

"So far, we have no knowledge that Internet nodes in Germany have been spied on by the NSA," Hans-Georg Maassen, president of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Germany's domestic intelligence agency, which is also responsible for counterintelligence measures, said last summer.

It's also possible the Americans don't even have to do that, at least not directly. It's quite feasible they have better access through major US providers like AT&T or Verizon whose infrastructure is used to process a major share of global Internet traffic. The NSA could use that infrastructure to access data from Germany. This would be totally legal from the American perspective -- at least according to the FISA court.

Editor's note: You can read an additional report on spying by the NSA and GCHQ on Germany and Chancellor Merkel on The Intercept.

http://www.spiegel.d...s-a-961444.html
 


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#85 Zharkov

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Posted 29 March 2014 - 07:28 PM

Oh, sh..!

 

Secret documents newly disclosed by the German newspaper Der Spiegel on Saturday shed more light on how aggressively the National Security Agency and its British counterpart have targeted Germany for surveillance.

A series of classified files from the archive provided to reporters by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, also seen by The Intercept, reveal that the NSA appears to have included Merkel in a surveillance database alongside more than 100 others foreign leaders. The documents also confirm for the first time that, in March 2013, the NSA obtained a top-secret court order against Germany as part of U.S. government efforts to monitor communications related to the country. Meanwhile, the British spy agency Government Communications Headquarters targeted three German companies in a clandestine operation that involved infiltrating the companies’ computer servers and eavesdropping on the communications of their staff.

Der Spiegel, which has already sketched out over several stories the vast extent of American and British targeting of German people and institutions, broke the news last October that Merkel’s cellphone calls were being tapped by the NSA – sparking a diplomatic backlash that strained US-Germany relations. Now a new document, dated 2009, indicates that Merkel was targeted in a broader NSA surveillance effort. She appears to have been placed in the NSA’s so-called “Target Knowledge Base“ (TKB), which Der Spiegel described as the central agency database of individual targets. An internal NSA description states that employees can use it to analyze “complete profiles“ of targeted people.

A classified file demonstrating an NSA search system named Nymrod shows Merkel listed alongside other heads of state. Only 11 names are shown on the document, including Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, Belarus’s Alexander Lukashenko, and Colombia’s Alvaro Uribe – the list is in alphabetical order by first name – but it indicates that the full list contains 122 names. The NSA uses the Nymrod system to “find information relating to targets that would otherwise be tough to track down,” according to internal NSA documents. Nymrod sifts through secret reports based on intercepted communications as well as full transcripts of faxes, phone calls, and communications collected from computer systems. More than 300 “cites” for Merkel are listed as available in intelligence reports and transcripts for NSA operatives to read.

But the NSA’s surveillance of Germany has extended far beyond its leader. Der Spiegel reporters Marcel Rosenbach and Holger Stark – together with The Intercept’s Laura Poitras – described a separate document from the NSA’s Special Source Operations unit, which shows that the Obama administration obtained a top-secret court order specifically permitting it to monitor communications related to Germany. Special Source Operations is the NSA department that manages what the agency describes as its “corporate partnerships” with major US companies, including AT&T, Verizon, Microsoft, and Google. The order on Germany was issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court on March 7, 2013. The court issues annual certifications to the NSA that authorize the agency to intercept communications related to named countries or groups; it has provided similar authorization, Der Spiegel reported, for measures targeting China, Mexico, Japan, Venezuela, Yemen, Brazil, Sudan, Guatemala, Bosnia and Russia.

The NSA on Friday declined to comment to The Intercept about its role in conducting surveillance of Germany and deferred questions to the National Security Council and the Justice Department. The DOJ had not responded at the time of publication. National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden told The Intercept that the Obama administration was “not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of Chancellor Merkel.” However, Hayden did not deny that the surveillance had occurred in the past – and declined to rule out spying on other senior German officials going forward. “We have made clear that the United States gathers foreign intelligence of the type gathered by all nations,” she said.

The secret files reveal some specific German targets – none of whom appear to have been suspected of any wrongdoing. One undated document shows how British GCHQ operatives hacked into the computer servers of the German satellite communications providers Stellar and Cetel, and also targeted IABG, a security contractor and communications equipment provider with close ties to the German government. The document outlines how GCHQ identified these companies’ employees and customers, making lists of emails that identified network engineers and chief executives. It also suggests that IABG’s networks may have been “looked at” by the NSA’s Network Analysis Center.

The ultimate aim of GCHQ was to obtain information that could help the spies infiltrate “teleport” satellites sold by these companies that send and receive data over the Internet. The document notes that GCHQ hoped to identify “access chokepoints” as part of a wider effort alongside partner spy agencies to “look at developing possible access opportunities” for surveillance.

In other words, infiltrating these companies was viewed as a means to an end for the British agents. Their ultimate targets were likely the customers. Cetel’s customers, for instance, include governments that use its communications systems to connect to the Internet in Africa and the Middle East. Stellar provides its communications systems to a diverse range of customers that could potentially be of interest to the spies – including multinational corporations, international organizations, refugee camps, and oil drilling platforms.

The chief executives of Cetel and Stellar both told Der Spiegel they were surprised that their companies had been targeted by GCHQ. Christian Steffen, the Stellar CEO, was himself named on GCHQ’s list of targets. “I am shocked,” he told the newspaper. IABG did not respond to a request for comment.

GCHQ issued a standard response when contacted about its targeting of the German companies, insisting that its work “is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework which ensures that our activities are authorised, necessary and proportionate.”

But German authorities may take a different view on the legalities of the clandestine intrusions. Earlier this month – prior to the latest revelations – German Federal Public Prosecutor Harald Range told the newspaper Die Tageszeitung he was already conducting a probe into possible “espionage offenses” related to the targeting of the country. “I am currently reviewing whether reasonable suspicion exists,” Range said, “for an actionable criminal offense.”

https://firstlook.or...rgeted-leaders/


Edited by Zharkov, 29 March 2014 - 07:39 PM.

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#86 Zharkov

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Posted 02 April 2014 - 02:33 PM

NSA ADMITS GUILT FOR UNLAWFUL WIRETAPPING!

 

James Clapper, director of national intelligence, has confirmed in a letter to Sen. Ron Wyden that the U.S. government has been spying on Americans' email and phone records without a warrant.

According to the New York Times, which said it had obtained a copy of the March 28 letter, Clapper said intelligence analysts accessed the massive database of records the NSA collected and searched for individual emails and phone records.

Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, called the practice "unacceptable."

"It is now clear to the public that the list of ongoing intrusive surveillance practices by the NSA includes not only bulk collection of Americans' phone records but also warrantless searches of the content of Americans' personal communications," Wyden said in a joint statement with Sen. Mark Udall, the Times reported.

"This is unacceptable," the statement says. "It raises serious constitutional questions and poses a real threat to the privacy rights of law-abiding Americans."

Documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who currently lives in Russia under temporary political asylum, revealed the NSA's spying program. The agency responded by declassifying several documents linked to the surveillance, but Clapper's letter to Wyden tells more of the story.

During a Jan. 29 hearing, Clapper declined to say whether any targeted searches had taken place, but promised to reply to Wyden in writing. The letter appears to be his response.

"There have been queries, using U.S. person identifiers, of communications lawfully acquired to obtain foreign intelligence by targeting non-U.S. persons reasonably believed to be located outside the U.S. pursuant to Section 702 of FISA," Clapper wrote. "These queries were performed pursuant to minimization procedures approved by the FISA Court as consistent with the statute and the Fourth Amendment."

In 2008, the FISA Amendments Act made the Bush-era warrantless surveillance program legal. It was created in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and allowed the government to intercept phone calls and emails without a warrant. The law pertained to non-U.S. citizens living overseas.  

(Z Note:  No law enacted by Congress can cancel the warrant requirement for searches because a warrant is specified by the 4th Amendment of the US Constitution, and constitutional limits overrule statute laws.)

In 2011, the law was amended and the government was granted authority to search the database for emails and call records of U.S. citizens as well.   (Again, this is illegal without a warrant, no matter what Congress does, unless Congress amends the Constitution)

The Obama administration said it would stop the practice of collecting Americans' data in bulk, and instead would rely on phone companies to provide the government with information if it needs it.

Republican Sen. Rand Paul, one of the NSA's biggest critics, was skeptical of Obama's announcement.

"We'll have to see what happens," Paul said last week. "The president sometimes (more like always) says one thing and does another, so, the devil is in the details here."

http://www.newsmax.c...4/01/id/563135/


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#87 Zharkov

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Posted 03 April 2014 - 02:56 PM

Everyone Under Surveillance


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#88 Zharkov

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Posted 03 April 2014 - 03:36 PM


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#89 Zharkov

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Posted 10 April 2014 - 02:35 PM

If you think this may have ended...it has barely begun...

 

Last week, National Intelligence Director Gen. James R. Clapper sent a brief letter to Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, in which he admitted that agents of the National Security Agency (NSA) have been reading innocent Americans’ emails and text messages and listening to digital recordings of their telephone conversations that have been stored in NSA computers, without warrants obtained pursuant to the Constitution. That the NSA is doing this is not newsworthy – Edward Snowden has told the world of this during the past 10 months. What is newsworthy is that the NSA has admitted this, and those admissions have far-reaching consequences.

Since the Snowden revelations first came to light last June, the NSA has steadfastly denied them. Clapper has denied them. The recently retired head of the NSA, Gen. Keith Alexander, has denied them. Even President Obama has stated repeatedly words to the effect that “no one is reading your emails or listening to your phone calls.

The official NSA line on this has been that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court has issued general warrants for huge amounts of metadata only, but not content. Metadata consists of identifying markers on emails, text messages and telephone calls. These markers usually identify the computer from which an email or text was sent or received and the time and date of the transmission, as well as the location of each computer. Telephone metadata is similar. It consists of the telephone numbers used by the callers, the time, date and duration of the call, and the location of each telephone used in the call.

American telecommunications and Internet service providers have given this information to the NSA pursuant to warrants issued by secret FISA court judges. These warrants are profoundly unconstitutional, as they constitute general warrants. General warrants are not obtained by presenting probable cause of crime to judges and identifying the person from whom data is to be seized, as the Constitution requires. Rather, general warrants authorize a government agent to obtain whatever he wants from whomever he wants it.

These general warrants came about through a circuitous route of presidential, congressional and judicial infidelity to the Constitution during the past 35 years. The standard the government must meet to obtain a warrant from a FISA court judge repeatedly has been lessened from the constitutional requirement of probable cause of crime, to probable cause of being a foreign agent, to probable cause of being a foreign person, to probable cause of talking to a foreign person. From this last category, it was a short jump for NSA lawyers to persuade FISA court judges that they should sign general warrants for all communications of everyone in America because the NSA was not accessing the content of these communications; it was merely storing metadata and then using algorithms to determine who was talking to whom.

This was all done in secret – so secret that the president would lie about it; so secret that Congress, which supposedly authorized it, was unaware of it; and so secret that the FISA court judges themselves do not have access to their own court records (only the NSA does).

It was to further this public facade that Clapper lied to the Senate Intelligence Committee last year when he replied to a question from Wyden about whether the NSA was collecting massive amounts of data on hundreds of millions of Americans by saying, “No” and then adding, “Not wittingly.” The stated caveat in the NSA facade was a claim that if its agents wanted to review the content of any data the NSA was storing, they identified that data and sought a warrant for it.

This second round of warrants is as unconstitutional as the first round because these warrants, too, are based on NSA whims, not probable cause of crime. Yet, it is this second round of warrants that Clapper’s letter revealed did not always exist.

Snowden, in an act of great personal sacrifice and historic moral courage, directly refuted Clapper by telling reporters that the NSA possessed not just metadata but also content – meaning the actual emails, text messages and recordings of telephone calls. He later revealed that the NSA also has the content of the telephone bills, bank statements, utility bills and credit card bills of everyone in America.

In his letter to Wyden last week, Clapper not only implicitly acknowledged that Snowden was correct all along, but also that he, Clapper, lied to and materially misled the Senate Intelligence Committee, and that the NSA is in fact reading emails and listening to phone calls without obtaining the second warrant it has been claiming it obtains.

One wonders whether Obama was duped by Clapper when he denied all this, or whether he just lied to the American people as he has done in the past.

One also wonders how the government could do all this with a straight face. This is the same government that unsuccessfully prosecuted former New York Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens twice for lying to a congressional committee about the contents of his urine. Shouldn’t we expect that Clapper be prosecuted for lying to a congressional committee about the most massive government plot in U.S. history to violate the Fourth Amendment? Don’t hold your breath; the president will protect his man.

Yet, Congress could address this independent of a president who declines to prosecute his fellow liars. Congress could impeach Clapper, and the president would be powerless to prevent that. If Congress does that, it would be a great step forward for the rule of law and fidelity to the Constitution. If Congress does nothing, we can safely conclude that it is complicit in these constitutional violations.

If Congress will not impeach an officer of the government when it itself is the victim of his crimes because it fears the political consequences, does it still believe in the Constitution?

http://www.wnd.com/2...its-wrongdoing/


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#90 Zharkov

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Posted 12 April 2014 - 02:35 PM

NSA Exploited Heartbleed Bug for Years, Exposing Consumers

The U.S. National Security Agency knew for at least two years about a flaw in the way that many websites send sensitive information, now dubbed the Heartbleed bug, and regularly used it to gather critical intelligence, two people familiar with the matter said.

The agency’s reported decision to keep the bug secret in pursuit of national security interests threatens to renew the rancorous debate over the role of the government’s top computer experts. The NSA, after declining to comment on the report, subsequently denied that it was aware of Heartbleed until the vulnerability was made public by a private security report earlier this month.

“Reports that NSA or any other part of the government were aware of the so-called Heartbleed vulnerability before 2014 are wrong,” according to an emailed statement from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Heartbleed appears to be one of the biggest flaws in the Internet’s history, affecting the basic security of as many as two-thirds of the world’s websites. Its discovery and the creation of a fix by researchers five days ago prompted consumers to change their passwords, the Canadian government to suspend electronic tax filing, and computer companies including Cisco Systems Inc. and Juniper Networks Inc. to provide patches for their systems.

Putting the Heartbleed bug in its arsenal, the NSA was able to obtain passwords and other basic data that are the building blocks of the sophisticated hacking operations at the core of its mission, but at a cost. Millions of ordinary users were left vulnerable to attack from other nations’ intelligence arms and criminal hackers.

Controversial Practice

“It flies in the face of the agency’s comments that defense comes first,” said Jason Healey, director of the cyber statecraft initiative at the Atlantic Council and a former Air Force cyber officer. “They are going to be completely shredded by the computer security community for this.”

Experts say the search for flaws is central to NSA’s mission, though the practice is controversial. A presidential board reviewing the NSA’s activities after Edward Snowden’s leaks recommended the agency halt the stockpiling of software vulnerabilities.

When new vulnerabilities of the Heartbleed type are discovered, they are disclosed, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said in response to the Bloomberg report. A clear process exists among agencies for deciding when to share vulnerabilities, the office said in a statement.

“This administration takes seriously its responsibility to help maintain an open, interoperable, secure and reliable Internet,” Shawn Turner, director of public affairs for the office, said in the statement. “Unless there is a clear national security or law enforcement need, this process is biased toward responsibly disclosing such vulnerabilities.”

Hunting Flaws

The NSA and other elite intelligence agencies devote millions of dollars to hunt for common software flaws that are critical to stealing data from secure computers. Open-source protocols like OpenSSL, where the flaw was found, are primary targets.

The Heartbleed flaw, introduced in early 2012 in a minor adjustment to the OpenSSL protocol, highlights one of the failings of open source software development.

While many Internet companies rely on the free code, its integrity depends on a small number of underfunded researchers who devote their energies to the projects.

In contrast, the NSA has more than 1,000 experts devoted to ferreting out such flaws using sophisticated analysis techniques, many of them classified. The agency found Heartbleed shortly after its introduction, according to one of the people familiar with the matter, and it became a basic part of the agency’s toolkit for stealing account passwords and other common tasks.

NSA Spying

The NSA has faced nine months of withering criticism for the breadth of its spying, documented in a rolling series of leaks from Snowden, who was a former agency contractor.

The revelations have created a clearer picture of the two roles, sometimes contradictory, played by the U.S.’s largest spy agency. The NSA protects the computers of the government and critical industry from cyber-attacks, while gathering troves of intelligence attacking the computers of others, including terrorist organizations, nuclear smugglers and other governments.

Ordinary Internet users are ill-served by the arrangement because serious flaws are not fixed, exposing their data to domestic and international spy organizations and criminals, said John Pescatore, director of emerging security trends at the SANS Institute, a Bethesda, Maryland-based cyber-security training organization.

One Agency

“If you combine the two into one government agency, which mission wins?” asked Pescatore, who formerly worked in security for the NSA and the U.S. Secret Service. “Invariably when this has happened over time, the offensive mission wins.”

When researchers uncovered the Heartbleed bug hiding in plain sight and made it public on April 7, it underscored an uncomfortable truth: The public may be placing too much trust in software and hardware developers to insure the security of our most sensitive transactions.

“We’ve never seen any quite like this,” said Michael Sutton, vice president of security research at Zscaler, a San Jose, California-based security firm. “Not only is a huge portion of the Internet impacted, but the damage that can be done, and with relative ease, is immense.”

The potential stems from a flawed implementation of protocol used to encrypt communications between users and websites protected by OpenSSL, making those supposedly secure sites an open book. The damage could be done with relatively simple scans, so that millions of machines could be hit by a single attacker.

Exploiting Flaw

Questions remain about whether anyone other than the U.S. government might have exploited the flaw before the public disclosure. Sophisticated intelligence agencies in other countries are one possibility.

If criminals found the flaw before a fix was published this week, they could have scooped up troves of passwords for bank accounts, e-commerce sites and e-mail accounts worldwide.

Evidence of that is so far lacking, and it’s possible that cybercriminals missed the potential in the same way security professionals did, suggested Tal Klein, vice president of marketing at Adallom, in Menlo Park, California.

The fact that the vulnerability existed in the transmission of ordinary data -- even if it’s the kind of data the vast majority of users are concerned about -- may have been a factor in the decision by NSA officials to keep it a secret, said James Lewis, a cybersecurity senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Determining Risk

“They actually have a process when they find this stuff that goes all the way up to the director” of the agency, Lewis said. “They look at how likely it is that other guys have found it and might be using it, and they look at what’s the risk to the country.”

Lewis said the NSA has a range of options, including exploiting the vulnerability to gain intelligence for a short period of time and then discreetly contacting software makers or open source researchers to fix it.

The SSL protocol has a history of security problems, Lewis said, and is not the primary form of protection governments and others use to transmit highly sensitive information.

“I knew hackers who could break it nearly 15 years ago,” Lewis said of the SSL protocol.

That may not soothe the millions of users who were left vulnerable for so long.

Panel’s Recommendation

Following the leaks about NSA’s electronic spying, President Barack Obama convened a panel to review surveillance activities and suggest reforms. Among the dozens of changes put forward was a recommendation that the NSA quickly move to fix software flaws rather that exploit them, and that they be used only in “rare instances” and for short periods of time.

“If the NSA knows about a vulnerability, then often other nation states and even criminal organizations can exploit the same security vulnerability,” said Harley Geiger, senior counsel for the Center for Democracy & Technology in Washington. “What may be a good tool for the NSA may also turn out to be a tool for organizations that are less ethical or have no ethics at all.”

Currently, the NSA has a trove of thousands of such vulnerabilities that can be used to breach some of the world’s most sensitive computers, according to a person briefed on the matter. Intelligence chiefs have said the country’s ability to spot terrorist threats and understand the intent of hostile leaders would be vastly diminished if their use were prohibited.

http://www.newsmax.c...4/12/id/565223/
 


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#91 Zharkov

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Posted 08 May 2014 - 04:55 AM

NSA to Control the Stock Market

Spy agency can easily manipulate the market through latest surveillance hub

Through the use of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA)’s latest database, which keeps investor data in the same centralized location, the NSA could easily capture private, financial data on targeted investors and even influence the stock market as a whole.

And it appears that the dragnet database, called the Comprehensive Automated Risk Data System (CARDS), was designed with such vulnerabilities in mind.

“I can’t think of any other reason that someone would invest so much time and so much effort into trying to monitor every brokerage account in the United States in real time,” Porter Stansberry, the founder of the Stansberry & Associates Investment Research Conference, said on the Alex Jones Show. “That is an enormous technical challenge.”

He also added that even knowing something as simple as how many individual investors own certain securities could be very, very valuable to select interests.

And other revelations in the past reveal that the NSA is more than willing to monitor and manipulate financial transactions.

Last December, the White House report on the activities of the NSA suggested that the spy agency was already hacking into financial institutions and altering the amounts held in bank accounts.

“Governments should not use their offensive cyber capabilities to change the amounts held in financial accounts or otherwise manipulate the financial systems,” the report recommended.

Trevor Timm, a former analyst at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, asked if the recommendation implied that the NSA was already doing just that.

And a few month earlier, in September, German news outlet Der Spiegel reported that the spy agency was also tracking the global flow of money.

Under the “Follow the Money” program, the NSA collects credit card and other financial transactions into its own financial databank, called “Tracfin,” which contains nearly 200 million records if not more.

“Further NSA documents from 2010 show that the NSA also targets the transactions of customers of large credit card companies like VISA for surveillance,” the article continued. “NSA analysts at an internal conference that year described in detail how they had apparently successfully searched through the U.S. company’s complex transaction network for tapping possibilities.”

And the upcoming CARDS database, which a law professor suggested is as tempting of a target as the American fleet at Pearl Harbor, would grant the NSA almost unlimited possibilities to influence the stock market.

http://www.infowars....e-stock-market/


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#92 Zharkov

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Posted 16 May 2014 - 04:05 AM


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#93 Zharkov

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Posted 16 May 2014 - 04:05 AM

 

"You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe.

You take the red pill, you stay in wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes."

-The Matrix


Edited by Zharkov, 16 May 2014 - 11:28 PM.

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#94 Zharkov

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Posted 16 May 2014 - 06:09 PM

Snowden is one of the “great examples of civil disobedience in the history of modern civil society,” alongside Ghandi, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela. Snowden carries on the “very democratic tradition of civil disobedience,” Faculty Resolution, University of Rostock.


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#95 Zharkov

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Posted 17 May 2014 - 03:30 PM

Everyone should know just how much the government lied to defend the NSA

A web of deception has finally been untangled
http://www.theguardi...t-supreme-court


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#96 Zharkov

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Posted 20 May 2014 - 01:50 AM

Data Pirates of the Caribbean: The NSA Is Recording Every Cell Phone Call in the Bahamas

The National Security Agency is secretly intercepting, recording, and archiving the audio of virtually every cell phone conversation on the island nation of the Bahamas.

According to documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the surveillance is part of a top-secret system – code-named SOMALGET – that was implemented without the knowledge or consent of the Bahamian government. Instead, the agency appears to have used access legally obtained in cooperation with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to open a backdoor to the country’s cellular telephone network, enabling it to covertly record and store the “full-take audio” of every mobile call made to, from and within the Bahamas – and to replay those calls for up to a month.

SOMALGET is part of a broader NSA program called MYSTIC, which The Intercept has learned is being used to secretly monitor the telecommunications systems of the Bahamas and several other countries, including Mexico, the Philippines, and Kenya. But while MYSTIC scrapes mobile networks for so-called “metadata” – information that reveals the time, source, and destination of calls – SOMALGET is a cutting-edge tool that enables the NSA to vacuum up and store the actual content of every conversation in an entire country.

All told, the NSA is using MYSTIC to gather personal data on mobile calls placed in countries with a combined population of more than 250 million people. And according to classified documents, the agency is seeking funding to export the sweeping surveillance capability elsewhere.

The program raises profound questions about the nature and extent of American surveillance abroad. The U.S. intelligence community routinely justifies its massive spying efforts by citing the threats to national security posed by global terrorism and unpredictable rival nations like Russia and Iran. But the NSA documents indicate that SOMALGET has been deployed in the Bahamas to locate “international narcotics traffickers and special-interest alien smugglers” – traditional law-enforcement concerns, but a far cry from derailing terror plots or intercepting weapons of mass destruction.

“The Bahamas is a stable democracy that shares democratic principles, personal freedoms, and rule of law with the United States,” the State Department concluded in a crime and safety report published last year. “There is little to no threat facing Americans from domestic (Bahamian) terrorism, war, or civil unrest.”

By targeting the Bahamas’ entire mobile network, the NSA is intentionally collecting and retaining intelligence on millions of people who have not been accused of any crime or terrorist activity. Nearly five million Americans visit the country each year, and many prominent U.S. citizens keep homes there, including Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Bill Gates, and Oprah Winfrey.

In addition, the program is a serious – and perhaps illegal – abuse of the access to international phone networks that other countries willingly grant the United States for legitimate law-enforcement surveillance. If the NSA is using the Drug Enforcement Administration’s relationship to the Bahamas as a cover for secretly recording the entire country’s mobile phone calls, it could imperil the longstanding tradition of international law enforcement cooperation that the United States enjoys with its allies.

“It’s surprising, the short-sightedness of the government,” says Michael German, a fellow at New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice who spent 16 years as an FBI agent conducting undercover investigations. “That they couldn’t see how exploiting a lawful mechanism to such a degree that you might lose that justifiable access – that’s where the intelligence community is acting in a way that harms its long-term interests, and clearly the long-term national security interests of the United States.”

The NSA refused to comment on the program, but said in a statement that “the implication that NSA’s foreign intelligence collection is arbitrary and unconstrained is false.” The agency also insisted that it follows procedures to “protect the privacy of U.S. persons” whose communications are “incidentally collected.”

Informed about the NSA’s spying, neither the Bahamian prime minister’s office nor the country’s national security minister had any comment. The embassies of Mexico, Kenya, and the Philippines did not respond to phone messages and emails.

The Bahamas’ Listening Devices Act requires all wiretaps to be authorized in writing either by the minister of national security or the police commissioner in consultation with the attorney general. The individuals to be targeted must be named. Under the nation’s Data Protection Act, personal data may only be “collected by means which are both lawful and fair in the circumstances of the case.” The office of the Bahamian data protection commissioner, which administers the act, said in a statement that it “was not aware of the matter you raise.”

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

SOMALGET operates under Executive Order 12333, a Reagan-era rule establishing wide latitude for the NSA and other intelligence agencies to spy on other countries, as long as the attorney general is convinced the efforts are aimed at gathering foreign intelligence.

 

In 2000, the NSA assured Congress that all electronic surveillance performed under 12333 “must be conducted in a manner that minimizes the acquisition, retention, and dissemination of information about unconsenting U.S. persons.” In reality, many legal experts point out, the lack of judicial oversight or criminal penalties for violating the order render the guidelines meaningless.

“I think it would be open, whether it was legal or not,” says German, the former FBI agent. “Because we don’t have all the facts about how they’re doing it. For a long time, the NSA has been interpreting their authority in the broadest possible way, even beyond what an objective observer would say was reasonable.”

“An American citizen has Fourth Amendment rights wherever they are,” adds Kurt Opsahl, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “Nevertheless, there have certainly been a number of things published over the last year which suggest that there are broad, sweeping programs that the NSA and other government agencies are doing abroad that sweep up the communications of Americans.”

Legal or not, the NSA’s covert surveillance of an entire nation suggests that it will take more than the president’s tepid “limits” to rein in the ambitions of the intelligence community. “It’s almost like they have this mentality – if we can, we will,” says German. “There’s no analysis of the long-term risks of doing it, no analysis of whether it’s actually worth the effort, no analysis of whether we couldn’t take those resources and actually put them on real threats and do more good.”

It’s not surprising, German adds, that the government’s covert program in the Bahamas didn’t remain covert. “The undermining of international law and international cooperation is such a long-term negative result of these programs that they had to know would eventually be exposed, whether through a leak, whether through a spy, whether through an accident,” he says. “Nothing stays secret forever. It really shows the arrogance of these agencies – they were just going to do what they were going to do, and they weren’t really going to consider any other important aspects of how our long-term security needs to be addressed.”

https://firstlook.or...e-call-bahamas/


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#97 Zharkov

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Posted 29 May 2014 - 04:34 AM

No place to hide under spying feds

 

Andrew Napolitano: 'If government fails to protect freedom, it should be replaced'

With heart-pounding suspense, John le Carre-like intrigue and Jeffersonian fidelity to the principles of human freedom, Glenn Greenwald has just published “No Place to Hide.” The book, which reads like a thriller, is Greenwald’s story of his nonstop two weeks of work in May and June of 2013 in Hong Kong with former CIA agent and NSA contractor-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden. Greenwald was the point person who coordinated the public release of the 1.7 million pages of NSA documents that Snowden took with him to prove definitively that the federal government is spying on all of us all the time.

The revelations constituted for Greenwald the scoop of the century; for Snowden, the exposure of massive government violations of basic constitutional principles by his former bosses; for the NSA and the Bush and Obama administrations, the revelation of criminal wrongdoing orchestrated by two presidents themselves; and for the American public, a painful realization that the Constitution is only as valuable a restraint on the government as is the fidelity to uphold it of those in whose hands we have reposed it for safekeeping. As Greenwald makes clear, it is not in good hands.

“No Place to Hide” not only tells of Snowden’s initially frustrating and anonymous efforts to reach out to Greenwald and the others; it not only carefully explains the insatiable appetite of the NSA to learn everything about everyone (“Collect it all” was a continuously posted NSA motto); it is also a morality tale about the personal courage required of Snowden and Greenwald and his colleagues to expose government wrongdoing and the risk to their lives, liberties and properties in doing so.

In the midst of one of their endless Hong Kong hotel meetings, Snowden told the journalists that the local CIA station employed agents trained to kill, and it was just a few blocks away. Then The Guardian’s lawyers informed Greenwald that the Bush and Obama administrations had not hesitated to use the Espionage Act of 1917 – a World War I-era relic, still on the books, employed to chill, stifle, suppress and ultimately punish free speech – to attempt to lock up journalists even when they revealed the truth. At this point in my reading the book on Memorial Day, I noticed that my pulse was racing, even though I obviously knew the outcome.

The road to the outcome began about a year ago when Greenwald received email messages from an anonymous yet persistent and intellectually intriguing source. The source demonstrated such a superb command of the Internet, such a patient understanding of Greenwald’s need for a basic education in the craft of digital spying, such a Jeffersonian understanding of the constitutional role of government in our lives, and so enticed Greenwald and his editors at The Guardian that, sight unseen, they traveled to Hong Kong to see whether the source possessed the documentary evidence he claimed to have of the most massive and sophisticated American government spying upon innocents in our history. He did.

Greenwald skillfully uses NSA documents to demonstrate that the highest government officials to discuss this spying in public – President Bush, President Obama, Bush Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former NSA boss Gen. Keith Alexander – all lied to the American public (in the case of Clapper and Alexander, they probably did so criminally, as they were testifying to Congress), and they engaged in a conspiracy to violate the constitutionally protected rights to privacy of every American. After initially denying all this, then disparaging Snowden, then questioning his loyalty, then questioning his sanity, the government reluctantly admitted to all that Snowden revealed. How could it not? Snowden’s revelations consist entirely of the NSA’s own documents, many of which are reproduced in Greenwald’s book.

The government has argued that when it engages in all this spying, it is looking for a needle in a haystack. It claims it can only keep us safe if it knows all and sees all. Yet, such an argument cannot be made with intellectual honesty by anyone who has sworn to uphold the Constitution.

The Constitution was written to keep the government off of the people’s backs. The Constitution protects the right to be left alone and the right to be different. The Constitution presupposes the existence of natural rights and areas of human endeavor that are insulated from government knowledge and immune to government regulation, except in the most carefully prescribed circumstances. Those circumstances require that probable cause of crime be possessed by the government about identifiable persons and demonstrated to a neutral judge before the government may engage in any surveillance of that person – and all those NSA conspirators and all their judicial facilitators know this.

And what has Congress done in response to all this indiscriminate spying – spying that we now know is done upon members of Congress themselves? The Senate has done nothing, yet. The House passed legislation last week called the USA Freedom Act. This deceptively entitled nonsense so muddies the legal waters with ambiguous language that if enacted into law, the bill actually would strengthen the ability of the NSA to spy on all of us all the time. Is it any surprise that Obama and the NSA leadership support these so-called reforms?

The duty of government is to keep us free and to keep our freedoms safe. If it fails to protect freedom, it should be replaced. If it continues to spy on all of us all the time, then Greenwald’s title – taken from a warning issued by the late Sen. Frank Church in the pre-Internet era – will have come to pass. We will have no place to hide and no freedoms left to exercise without the government’s approval.

http://www.wnd.com/2...er-spying-feds/


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#98 Zharkov

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Posted 29 May 2014 - 06:11 AM

What Mr. Snowden omitted to mention to Brian Williams in tonight's interview was that NSA had wiretapped the nation years before the attack on 9/11/2001.   We know this because several whistleblowers, including an AT&T engineer, had revealed secret rooms and optical splitters that allowed NSA to monitor and record all telephone conversations in North America.

 

Long before 9/11 NSA also had been monitoring Congress, the Pentagon, even other US intelligence agencies.

 

Mass surveillance in America was never about foreign terrorists, it was about spying on America itself.

 

This information was buried in the news years ago because there was no tangible proof to show the public.

 

Snowden provided the tangible evidence needed to confirm the whistleblowers stories.


Edited by Zharkov, 29 May 2014 - 06:14 AM.

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#99 Zharkov

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Posted 01 June 2014 - 02:03 PM

NSA collecting millions of faces from Web images

'A full-arsenal approach that digitally exploits the clues a target leaves behind'


(New York Times) The National Security Agency is harvesting huge numbers of images of people from communications that it intercepts through its global surveillance operations for use in sophisticated facial recognition programs, according to top-secret documents.

The spy agency’s reliance on facial recognition technology has grown significantly over the last four years as the agency has turned to new software to exploit the flood of images included in emails, text messages, social media, videoconferences and other communications, the N.S.A. documents reveal.

 

Agency officials believe that technological advances could revolutionize the way that the N.S.A. finds intelligence targets around the world, the documents show. The agency’s ambitions for this highly sensitive ability and the scale of its effort have not previously been disclosed.

The agency intercepts “millions of images per day” — including about 55,000 “facial recognition quality images” — which translate into “tremendous untapped potential,” according to 2011 documents obtained from the former agency contractor Edward J. Snowden.

http://www.wnd.com/2...es/?cat_orig=us


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#100 Zharkov

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Posted 05 June 2014 - 03:45 PM

The Snowden Effect: 8 Things That Happened Only Because Of The NSA Leaks

Here are the most consequential reactions to Snowden's leaks.

1. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper had to admit he lied to Congress.

Three months before the Snowden leaks began, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) asked the nation's top intelligence official if the NSA collected data on millions, or hundreds of millions, of Americans.

"No, sir," Clapper replied. "Not wittingly."

By that point, of course, the NSA had quite wittingly been running a massive bulk telephone metadata collection program for years. The government had repeatedly asked a secret surveillance court for permission to do so, and it deemed every American's phone record "relevant" to terrorism in the process.

Wyden fumed in secret about Clapper's lie -- but felt he could not reveal it because the metadata collection program was classified. That all changed after the publication of the first story on June 5, 2013, based off a Snowden leak.

Days later, Clapper gave the most halfhearted, or perhaps least forthcoming, admission that he had lied: "I responded in what I thought was the most truthful, or least untruthful manner by saying no."

2. The House passed a bill (ostensibly) meant to stop bulk collection of phone metadata.

Americans were furious about the NSA's sweeping phone metadata collection program. Even the man who wrote the original Patriot Act, Wisconsin Republican Rep. James Sensenbrenner, said the program went too far.

So last month the House passed a bill that its sponsors said would end bulk collection. Whether it actually does is a matter of dispute, since the White House and the spy agencies appear to have stripped out many of its toughest provisions. But its passage is nonetheless a clear signal that nobody in Congress wants to look like they're doing nothing about the NSA.

3. A federal judge said the NSA phone surveillance program is unconstitutional.

In December, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon issued a ruling in a lawsuit against the NSA program that said its technology was "almost-Orwellian" and that James Madison "would be aghast."

Because other judges in other districts have found differently -- one in Manhattan dismissed an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit citing the threat of terrorists' "bold jujitsu" -- the program still stands. And it had previously been approved, though behind closed doors, by the special Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. But with Leon's ruling on the books, the program could eventually wind up before the Supreme Court.

4. Tech companies finally got serious about privacy.

Big tech players had been paying lip service for years to the idea that they protect their customers' privacy. But after the Snowden revelation that the NSA was accessing company servers via its PRISM program, privacy suddenly became a very tangible good. Cloud providers stand to lose $35 billion over the next three years in business with foreign customers afraid of storing their data with U.S. companies.

So the companies are responding by adding encryption measures such as Transport Layer Security. Google even announced on Tuesday that it is testing a new extension for the Chrome browser that could make encrypting email easier.

5. Britain held its first-ever open intelligence hearing.

If you thought intelligence oversight was weak in the United States, you won't believe how it works with our closest ally. The powerful British spy agencies MI5 and GCHQ had never faced a public hearing in front of Parliament until Snowden's stories dropped.

The November hearing was hardly confrontational. But it was a step forward for a country that has generally reacted to the Snowden leaks with little more than a shrug. And that step matters for Americans as well: In April, The Intercept revealed that the GCHQ had secretly asked for "unsupervised access" to the NSA's data pools.

6. Germany opened an investigation into the tapping of Chancellor Angela Merkel's cell phone.

The revelation that the NSA was monitoring the German chancellor's cell phone came as a surprise to her -- and to Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). Merkel was so outraged that she reportedly compared the surveillance to that of the Stasi, the former East German spy agency. (And she would know, having grown up in East Germany.)

On Wednesday, German Federal Prosecutor Harald Range announced that he is opening an investigation into the monitoring of Merkel's phone calls. The investigation is proof positive that the Snowden leaks have frayed some U.S. diplomatic relations, but also that people the world over are starting to take surveillance seriously.

7. Brazil scotched a $4 billion defense contract with Boeing.

In another example of soured relations abroad, Brazil gave a massive fighter jet contract to Saab instead of the American company Boeing. Opinions varied as to how much that had to do with Snowden's leaks, with one government source telling Reuters that he "ruined it for the Americans." One analyst believed, however, that the Boeing jet simply cost too much.

The jet aside, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was clearly steamed, taking to the podium at the U.N. General Assembly to denounce the surveillance on her. Snowden's leaks also helped propel the passage of an Internet bill of rights meant to protect privacy in the South American nation.

8. President Barack Obama admitted there would be no surveillance debate without Snowden.

In a major speech in January, Obama said he was "not going to dwell on Mr. Snowden's actions or his motivations." But he essentially acknowledged that the roiling, yearlong debate over surveillance would not have happened without him.

"We have to make some important decisions about how to protect ourselves and sustain our leadership in the world, while upholding the civil liberties and privacy protections that our ideals -- and our Constitution -- require," Obama said.

The secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court also nodded toward the "considerable public interest and debate" that Snowden's leaks created. And even Clapper acknowledged, "It's clear that some of the conversations this has generated, some of the debate, actually needed to happen."

The surveillance court finally started publicly posting some filings from its major cases. And in further acknowledgement of the need for a debate, the NSA and other agencies have posted declassified files to a new intelligence Tumblr -- revealing for the first time aside from Snowden's leaks documentary evidence of the inner workings of mass surveillance.

http://www.huffingto...kushpmg00000072


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