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Planet of the Apps: On the Subject of those “Shocking” Disclosures about NSA/GCHQ Electronic Surveillance (Y-A-W-N!)

Menwith Hill

Dave Emory’s entire life­time of work is avail­able on a flash drive that can be obtained here. (The flash drive includes the anti-fascist books avail­able on this site.)

COMMENT: We experienced a mixture of genuine amusement and revulsion at the screeching over “disclosures” that NSA and GCHQ (the U.K. equivalent of NSA) are engaged in a massive data mining and surveillance program involving cell phones and internet communications.

For openers, this isn’t new, to say the least. It’s been going on for decades, scrutinizing phone calls at first, and then internet communications. On top of that, other countries do the same thing, including Germany. (See excerpted article below.)

The internet itself was developed by DARPA. DARPA also developed the GPS. The smart phones people have so enthusiastically embraced have a GPS function that can’t be disabled.  That GPS function permits the user to be pinpointed to within 30 feet of their exact location at any time. Users of these phones think nothing of putting their financial information, their tastes in recreation and just about everything else on these devices.

In the Bay Area, radio ads are hyping a new “app” which will permit smart phone users to physically monitor their premises and their children’s whereabouts, as well as locking doors. Smart phone are not secure. Cyber criminals must be licking their chops in anticipation of co-opting that function.

Google and Yahoo make no bones about tracking and monitoring people’s e-mail and internet use. Google is putting the whole world online with their Google Earth function. They make no bones about sharing this information with other institutions, governmental and corporate.

With the development of social networks (also aided by the intelligence community), those smart phones and the internet have made any concept of privacy fundamentally obsolete!  People have enthusiastically embraced these developments! They would do well to stop their whining.

It is also interesting to note that none of the critics of Echelon/Menwith Hill/PRISM have raised any objection whatsoever to T-Mobile, owned by Deutsche Telekom, which is controlled by the German government. This was authorized by the Bush administration. (See excerpt below.) It is a safe bet that BND-German intelligence–monitors all calls made on T-mobile.  Deutsche Telekom–parent company of T-Mobile and MetroPCS–is used by the BND. BND does the same thing. Not incidentally, T-mobile owns Metro PCS.  (See excerpted text below.) If you use T-Mobile or Metro PCS, you are being spied on by the German government. Enjoy, civil libertarians!

It is of more than a little significance that the initial attacks on the Echelon system and the Menwith Hill GCHQ/NSA station in the U.K. came largely from the Free Congress Foundation (inextricably linked with the far right and the Underground Reich) and Germany (which has the same capability!) Those attacks intensified after 9/11. 

There are indications that the 9/11 attacks may have much to do with the German-driven negative publicity about NSA/GCHQ signals intelligence. A report by the European Parliament about Menwith Hill and Echelon was released just before 9/11. (Be sure to see excerpts below.) 

We suspect that much of the negative publicity the Obama administration is receiving recently comes from GOP/Underground Reich elements seeking to alienate the so-called “progressive sector” from the Democrats, in anticipation of upcoming elections. (Obama continues to prove “gamable” in his efforts to placate the GOP. Comey’s appointment–see below–is typical and will likely prove disastrous.)

From the disclosure of this operation to the publicity surrounding the “Olympic Games” creation of Stuxnet to the WikiLeaks torrent, we are seeing information/programs begun under the Bush administrations surfacing to create embarrassment for Obama.

The Nazified GOP surely knows how unpopular their agenda is with most Americans–they seek to gut Social Security and Medicare. Their best hope at the polls is to generate sufficient apathy, particularly among younger voters, to enable them to game another election.

If the GOP does get back into office with Republican majorities in both houses of Congress, watch out! 

They will not wait for the wave of populist outrage over their programs to sweep them out of office. Some sort of monstrous event will be allowed to happen–or created–that will eclipse the outrage and send us into war and bankruptcy at the same time.

Perhaps the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ new cyber-warfare unit–created in the wake of the disclosures concerning the creation of Stuxnet–will cause (or be SAID to cause) a nuclear power plant to melt down or something along those lines. (Ptech’s software is used by the Department of Energy, which oversees the nuclear power plants.)

Such an event will collapse our economy and we will all be called upon to “put aside our differences” and pitch in to defeat the common enemy. Hezbollah operatives reliably reported to be in Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America might very well infiltrate the U.S. to add to the “emergency.”

Whatever horror show is cooked up, it will have to be worse than 9/11. 

Think about it, people, and get off your butts. 

As noted by the vigilant “Pterrafractyl,” what is really significant about the PRISM function is its probable dual use by Palantir, developed by German-born Peter “I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible . . . the extension of the franchise to women . . . . rendered the notion of ‘capitalist democracy’ into an oxymoron” Thiel. A financial wizard behind the capitalization of Facebook, Thiel gives every appearance of being Underground Reich.

Thiel was also the biggest contributor to the Super-PAC of Nazi fellow-traveler Ron Paul. Paul’s Tea-Party son Rand Paul has been leading the anti-Obama charge on this.

Although Palantir denies that its PRISM is the same used by the data mining program, it seems highly unlikely, given Palantir’s close relationship with the intelligence community. (See excerpted article below.)

Idle thought: Given that Peter Thiel hates Obama and is associated with the Koch brothers’ Cato Institute, one wonders if the classified information made it to the media courtesy of–Peter Thiel and/or associates?! 

The NSA/Prism story was broken in considerable measure by Glenn Greenwald of the Guardian [UK]. In addition to his association with the left-leaning Guardian, Greenwald is professionally networked with–the Cato Institute! (See excerpted story below.)

At the time of 9/11 and afterward, eagle-eye Greenwald had a high regard for George W. Bush’s behavior! (See excerpted article below.) He may just be a naif being manipulated by Cato Institute/Palantir/Thiel etc. He is definitely proving useful, and one must wonder if “Team Thiel” had anything to do with the leaking.

Note the relationship between Bridgewater Associates and Palantir. Bridgewater Associates former general counsel is James Comey, who has been nominated by the “Lee Harvey Obama” (as we call him) to be head of the FBI.

Deutsche Telekom–parent company of T-Mobile and MetroPCS–is used by the BND. BND does the same thing.

“Is This Who Runs Prism?” by Josh Marshall; Talking Points Memo; 6/7/2013.

EXCERPT: I want to stress this is a reader email, not TPM report­ing. But I’m shar­ing it because after read­ing it through and doing some googling of my own there’s lit­tle doubt that Palan­tir is doing stuff like what the gov­ern­ment is doing with those tech com­pa­nies, even if they’re not part of ‘prism’ itself. Give this a read.

From an anony­mous reader …

I don’t see any­one out there with this the­ory, and TPM is my favorite news source, so here goes:

“PRISM” is the government’s name for a pro­gram that uses tech­nol­ogy from Palan­tir. Palan­tir is a Sil­i­con Val­ley start-up that’s now val­ued at well over $1B, that focuses on data analy­sis for the gov­ern­ment. Here’s how Palan­tir describes themselves:

“We build soft­ware that allows orga­ni­za­tions to make sense of mas­sive amounts of dis­parate data. We solve the tech­ni­cal prob­lems, so they can solve the human ones. Com­bat­ing ter­ror­ism. Pros­e­cut­ing crimes. Fight­ing fraud. Elim­i­nat­ing waste. From Sil­i­con Val­ley to your doorstep, we deploy our data fusion plat­forms against the hard­est prob­lems we can find, wher­ever we are needed most.” http://www.palantir.com/what-we-do/

They’re gen­er­ally not pub­lic about who their clients are, but their first client was famously the CIA, who is also an early investor.

With my the­ory in mind, re-read the denials from the tech com­pa­nies in the WSJ (empha­sis mine):
Apple: “We do not pro­vide any gov­ern­ment agency with direct access to our servers…”
Google: “… does not have a ‘back door’ for the gov­ern­ment to access pri­vate user data…”
Face­book: “… not pro­vide any gov­ern­ment orga­ni­za­tion with direct access to Face­book servers…”
Yahoo: “We do not pro­vide the gov­ern­ment with direct access to our servers, sys­tems, or network…”

These denials could all still be tech­ni­cally true if the gov­ern­ment is access­ing the data through a gov­ern­ment con­trac­tor, such as Palan­tir, rather than hav­ing direct access.

I just did a quick Google search of “Palan­tir PRISM” to see if any­one else had this the­ory, and the top results were these pages:



Appar­ently, Palan­tir has a soft­ware pack­age called “Prism”: “Prism is a soft­ware com­po­nent that lets you quickly inte­grate exter­nal data­bases into Palan­tir.” That sounds like exactly the tool you’d want if you were try­ing to find pat­terns in data from mul­ti­ple companies.

So the obvi­ous follow-up ques­tions are of the “am I right?” vari­ety, but if I am, here’s what I really want to know: which Palan­tir clients have access to this data? Just CIA & NSA? FBI? What about munic­i­pal­i­ties, such as the NYC police depart­ment? What about the gov­ern­ments of other countries?

What do you think?

FWIW, I know a guy who works at Palan­tir. I asked him what he/they did once, and he was more secre­tive than my friends at Apple.

PS, please don’t use my name if you decide to pub­lish any of this — it’s a small town/industry. Let them Prism me instead.

Late Update: Another reader notes that Bridge­wa­ter Asso­ciates LLP, one of the largest hedge funds in the world, is also a major client of Palan­tir, which appears to be con­firmed by many press reports. . .

“This Peter Thiel Company Is Ripping The Army Intelligence Community Apart” by Walter Hickey; Business Insider; 8/3/2012.

EXCERPT: Palantir is a company founded by Peter Thiel — of Paypal and Facebook renown — that has software which absolutely changes the game with intelligence.

It’s one of the best programs at coordinating the vast databases accumulated by the U.S. intelligence apparatus. It’s already in use in federal domestic security.

But it’s also caused a massive fight inside the Army intelligence command.

Palantir is one of the first Silicon Valley companies to view the government as a customer rather than an annoyance and — after stepping into a game dominated by top contractors like Lockheed Martin, IBM, and Raytheon — it’s proven controversial in both what it does and if it should be used.
What it does is assemble comprehensive dossiers on objects of interest, collated from the sprawling databases of intelligence agencies.

If that sounds over-broad, it’s intentional.

The databases and dossiers in question are on everything from Afghan villages to crooked bankers. The can pull crime information and collate it with recent debit card purchases.

The software was developed with the idea that had it existed in 2001, 9/11 would have been obvious. Palantir would have been able to identify the pilots as people of interest from countries that harbor terrorists, connecting that with money wired around, and connecting that with one-way airline tickets to create actionable intelligence.

One controversy comes with the civil liberties issues that come with that particular business model.

The other controversy is much less philosophical: The Army intelligence community is full of infighting over this Valley competitor to defense contractor tech.

The Army Intelligence community is split over software. The $2.3 Billion DCGS-A system, developed by the standard crowd of defense contractors, is either panned by some as complicated and slow or defensed by others as the future of military distributed intelligence.

Likewise, the culty following of Palantir’s alternative have been dismissed as on the take from the Silicon Valley firm. That tech has been deployed by data mining Wall Street banks interested in tracking down fraud, and an early investor in the company was the CIA. The Army, however, isn’t sold. . . .

“PayPal Founder Peter Thiel Continues to Tout Anti-Government Manifesto” by Leah Nelson [Southern Poverty Law Center]; Intelligence Report [#146]; Summer/2012.

EXCERPT: . . . “I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible,” Thiel wrote in a 2009 manifesto published by the libertarian Cato Institute. “Since 1920, the vast increase in welfare beneficiaries and the extension of the franchise to women — two constituencies that are notoriously tough for libertarians — have rendered the notion of ‘capitalist democracy’ into an oxymoron.” . . .

“Hat Tip, Glenn Greenwald” by Tim Lynch; cato.org; 6/7/2013.

EXCERPT: . . . . A few years ago, Cato invited Greenwald to participate in a Cato Unbound exchange on government surveillance. Here’s an excerpt from the introduction to his essay:

The digital surveillance state is out of control. It intercepts our phone calls, keeps track of our prescription drug use, monitors our email, and keeps tabs on us wherever we go. For all that, it doesn’t appear to be making us safer. Accountability has been lost, civil liberties are disappearing, and the public-private partnerships in this area of government action raise serious questions about the democratic process itself. It’s time we stood up to do something about it.

Cato also hosted an event for Greenwald’s second book, A Tragic Legacy, which focused on the policies of the Bush administration. That event can be viewed here.

And, though not directly related to government spying, Greenwald authored Cato’s highly acclaimed study, Drug Decriminalization in Portugal.

American policymakers too often serve up Bread & Circuses. Congratulations to Greenwald for starting a real debate on one of the most important issues of our time. . . .

“Blogger, With Focus on Surveillance, Is at Center of a Debate” by Noam Cohen and Leslie Kaufman; The New York Times; 6/6/2013.

EXCERPT: . . . . As Mr. Greenwald tells it, the last decade has been a slow political awakening. “When 9/11 happened, I thought Bush was doing a good job,” he said. . . .

“World Briefing | Europe: Report On U.S. Spy System” by Suzanne Daley; The New York Times; 9/6/2001.

EXCERPT: [Notice when this was published–9/6/2001.–D.E.] . . . The United States-led spying system known as Echelon can monitor virtually every communication in the world — by e-mail, phone or fax — that bounces off a satellite, the European Parliament was told. But in reporting on a yearlong study of the system that was prompted by concern that American companies were using data from the system to gain a competitive edge, Gerhard Schmid, a German member of the Parliament, said that many European countries had similar abilities . . .

“The World from Berlin: Elec­tronic Sur­veil­lance Scan­dal Hits Germany” by David Gor­don Smith and Kris­ten Allen;  Der Spiegel; 10/10/2011.

EXCERPT: A Ger­man hacker orga­ni­za­tion claims to have cracked spy­ing soft­ware allegedly used by Ger­man author­i­ties. The Tro­jan horse has func­tions which go way beyond those allowed by Ger­man law. The news has sparked a wave of out­rage among politi­cians and media com­men­ta­tors.

It sounds like some­thing out of George Orwell’s novel “1984” — a com­puter pro­gram that can remotely con­trol someone’s com­puter with­out their knowl­edge, search its com­plete con­tents and use it to con­duct audio-visual sur­veil­lance via the micro­phone or webcam.

But the spy soft­ware that the famous Ger­man hacker orga­ni­za­tion Chaos Com­puter Club has obtained is not used by crim­i­nals look­ing to steal credit-card data or send spam e-mails. If the CCC is to be believed, the so-called “Tro­jan horse” soft­ware was used by Ger­man author­i­ties. The case has already trig­gered a polit­i­cal shock­wave in the coun­try and could have far-reaching con­se­quences.

On Sat­ur­day, the CCC announced that it had been given hard dri­ves con­tain­ing a “state spy­ing soft­ware” which had allegedly been used by Ger­man inves­ti­ga­tors to carry out sur­veil­lance of Inter­net com­mu­ni­ca­tion. The orga­ni­za­tion had ana­lyzed the soft­ware and found it to be full of defects. They also found that it trans­mit­ted infor­ma­tion via a server located in the US. As well as its sur­veil­lance func­tions, it could be used to plant files on an individual’s com­puter. It was also not suf­fi­ciently pro­tected, so that third par­ties with the nec­es­sary tech­ni­cal skills could hijack the Tro­jan horse’s func­tions for their own ends. The soft­ware pos­si­bly vio­lated Ger­man law, the orga­ni­za­tion said.

So-called Tro­jan horse soft­ware can be sur­rep­ti­tiously deliv­ered by a harmless-looking e-mail and installed on a user’s com­puter with­out their knowl­edge, where it can be used to, for exam­ple, scan the con­tents of a hard drive. In 2007, the Ger­man Inte­rior Min­istry announced it had designed a Tro­jan horse that could be used to search the hard dri­ves of ter­ror suspects.

Beyond the Limits

The hard dri­ves that the CCC ana­lyzed came from at least two dif­fer­ent Ger­man states. It was unclear whether the soft­ware, which is said to be at least three years old, had been used by state-level or national author­i­ties. In a Sun­day state­ment, the Inte­rior Min­istry denied that the soft­ware had been used by the Fed­eral Crim­i­nal Police Office (BKA), which is sim­i­lar to the Amer­i­can FBI. The state­ment did not explic­itly rule out the pos­si­bil­ity that the soft­ware could have been used by state-level police forces.

If the CCC’s claims are true, then the soft­ware has func­tions which were expressly for­bid­den by Germany’s high­est court, the Fed­eral Con­sti­tu­tional Court, in a land­mark 2008 rul­ing which sig­nif­i­cantly restricted what was allowed in terms of online sur­veil­lance. The court also spec­i­fied that online spy­ing was only per­mis­si­ble if there was con­crete evi­dence of dan­ger to indi­vid­u­als or society. . . .

“Ger­mans Were Track­ing Sept. 11 Con­spir­a­tors as Early as 1998, Doc­u­ments Dis­close” by Desmond But­ler; New York Times; 1/18/2003; p. A10.

EXCERPT: . . . . Three years before the Sept. 11 attacks, Germany’s domes­tic intel­li­gence ser­vice was track­ing promi­nent mem­bers of the Ham­burg ter­ror­ist cell that planned and exe­cuted the air­craft hijack­ings, accord­ing to newly obtained doc­u­ments. The doc­u­ments, includ­ing intel­li­gence reports, sur­veil­lance logs and tran­scripts of inter­cepted tele­phone calls, appear to con­tra­dict pub­lic claims by the Ger­man author­i­ties that they knew lit­tle about the mem­bers of the Ham­burg cell before the attacks.

As early as 1998, the records show, the Ger­mans mon­i­tored a meet­ing between men sus­pected of plot­ting the attacks. The sur­veil­lance would lead a year later to the Ham­burg apart­ment where Mohamed Atta and other main plot­ters were liv­ing while attend­ing uni­ver­si­ties. While the records do not indi­cate that author­i­ties heard any men­tion of a spe­cific plan, they depict a sur­veil­lance mis­sion exten­sive enough to raise anew the polit­i­cally sen­si­tive ques­tion of whether the Ger­mans missed a chance to dis­rupt the cell dur­ing the ini­tial stages of plan­ning the attacks. Some Amer­i­can inves­ti­ga­tors and offi­cials have argued that the Ger­mans in the past missed evi­dence that could have stopped the plot. The Ger­mans have main­tained stead­fastly that the infor­ma­tion they had was too scanty to war­rant seri­ous alarm, and that their police and intel­li­gence agen­cies were not focused on Al Qaeda at the time.

The doc­u­ments come from the files of var­i­ous Ger­man police and intel­li­gence agen­cies. They detail how close an inves­ti­ga­tion of Qaeda con­tacts in Ham­burg begun in 1997 by the Con­sti­tu­tional Pro­tec­tion Agency, Germany’s domes­tic intel­li­gence ser­vice, came to the main cell mem­bers. They were pro­vided to The New York Times by some­one with offi­cial access to the files of the con­tin­u­ing inves­ti­ga­tion into the events lead­ing to the Sept. 11 attacks. When the doc­u­ments were described to offi­cials at the Ger­man Inte­rior Min­istry and the con­sti­tu­tional pro­tec­tion police, they declined to answer any ques­tions about them but did not dis­pute their authenticity . . .

Mr. Motas­sadeq admit­ted that he knew Mr. Atta and other plot­ters and had attended Qaeda train­ing camps in Afghanistan. He has main­tained in trial tes­ti­mony that he did not know that his friends were plan­ning to attack the United States. No evi­dence has been pre­sented at his three-month trial that would reveal when the police first opened an inquiry into Mr. Motas­sadeq. But the intel­li­gence agency doc­u­ments show that by August 1998 he was under sur­veil­lance and that the trail soon led to most of the main par­tic­i­pants in the later attacks. [It was in August of 1998 that President Clinton ordered the cruise missile strike against Bin Laden and the same month that Bin Laden went to a courier system instead of using his cell phone. Note, also, that the head of the Hamburg police at the time the surveillance of the Hamburg cell was in place is now head of the BND!–D.E.]

Accord­ing to the doc­u­ments, the sur­veil­lance was in place on Aug. 29, 1998, when Mr. Motas­sadeq and Mohamed Hay­dar Zam­mar, who had already been iden­ti­fied by police as a sus­pected extrem­ist, met at the Ham­burg home of Said Bahaji. [Ital­ics are Mr. Emory’s] The police mon­i­tored sev­eral other meet­ings between the men in the months that fol­lowed, the doc­u­ments said. The record of the meet­ing shows that police had iden­ti­fied Mr. Bahaji, another per­son sus­pected of being a cell mem­ber and believed to have been inti­mately involved in the plan­ning and logis­tics of the plot, who fled to Pak­istan days before the attacks. Mr. Bahaji later moved in with Mr. Atta and Ramzi bin al-Shibh in the now-infamous apart­ment at 54 Marien­strasse in the Har­burg sec­tion of Hamburg. [There are profound indications of a link between Mohamed Atta and the BND–D.E.]. . .

“It’s official: T-Mobile closes deal to acquire MetroPCS  Mobile” by Mat Smith;  engagdet.com; 5/1/2013.

EXCERPT: T-Mobile has been slowly inching closer to closing its acquisition deal with MetroPCS, and the day for inking that contract is finally here. Less than a week after MetroPCS shareholders approved the merger, which would give them a total cash payment of $1.5 billion, the deal is done, and T-Mo is a publicly traded company. In addition to giving Deutsche Telekom [a subsidiary of THE GERMAN GOVERNMENT!–D.E.] a 74 percent stake in the new company, the deal will bring nine million new prepaid customers to T-Mobile. . . .

“US Rul­ing on Telekom Could Lead to Wave of Invest­ment” by Peter Spiegel in Wash­ing­ton; Finan­cial Times; 5/2/2001; p. 8.

EXCERPT: . . . . Although extended reg­u­la­tory debates can fre­quently lead to doc­u­ments full of mealy-mouthed bureau­cratese, the 97-page order issued by the FCC is as sweep­ing and precedent-setting as Mr. Pow­ell had wanted. It goes fur­ther than any pre­vi­ous rul­ing in the agency’s 66-year his­tory to open up the U.S. telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions mar­ket to for­eign com­peti­tors. ‘This is the green light. This is the paved road.

This is the auto­bahn,” said Rudy Baca, an ana­lyst of inter­na­tional tele­coms reg­u­la­tion with the Pre­cur­sor Group. ‘It’s more defin­i­tive than most peo­ple expected.’

At the heart of the debate over the deal was a dis­creet sec­tion of the Com­mu­ni­ca­tions act that con­tains seem­ingly con­tra­dic­tory guid­ance on how to deal with for­eign tele­coms owned by their gov­ern­ments. One part of the law states flatly that no U.S. phone licenses can be held ‘by any for­eign gov­ern­ment or rep­re­sen­ta­tive thereof.’ But another sec­tion allows a com­pany to buy the license if the FCC rules it in the pub­lic inter­est. The inter­pre­ta­tion of the lan­guage is cru­cial, since out­side the UK, most big over­seas com­pa­nies remain at least par­tially in the hands of gov­ern­ments.

After the Voic­eS­tream deal closes, for instance, Telekom will still be 45 per cent-owned by the Ger­man gov­ern­ment. . .

“German Intelligence Scrubs Euroean Records after WikiLeaks Exposure” by WikiLeaks staff; wikileaks.org; 11/16/2008.

EXCERPT: Between Friday night and Sunday morning, a massive deletion operation took place at the European Internet address register (RIPE) to scrub references to a cover used by Germany’s premier spy agency, the Bundesnachrichtendienst, or BND.

The cleanup operation comes the night after Wikileaks revealed over two dozen covert BND networks provided by T-Systems (Deutsche Telekom). The IP addresses were assigned to an unregistered company at a Munich-based PO box linked to T-Systems.

T-Systems purged the RIPE database of all addresses exposed by Wikileaks, moving the addresses into a several giant anonymous “Class B” address pools.

The move comes just a few hours after T-Systems Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) contacted Wikileaks to demand removal of an internal T-Systems memo listing the BND cover addresses. Wikileaks refused and T-System did not respond to requests for further detail by the time of writing.

Yet an investigation into the addresses over the weekend reveals key information about the BND’s Internet activities. . . . .

Website references reveal that in 2006 numerous hosters of Internet websites complained about out of control “data mining” robots from two of the BND-linked IP addresses. One of the hosters ran a popular discussion forum on counter-terrorism operations.

The integrity and transparency of the RIPE system is not assisted by the T-Systems deletion. German citizens may wonder at the double standard. At a time when the population’s Internet addresses are being recorded by ISPs under laws derisively referred to as “Stasi 2.0”, the “real Stasi”—the BND, has had the largest telco in Germany scrub its addresses from the European record within 24 hours of their exposure.



25 comments for “Planet of the Apps: On the Subject of those “Shocking” Disclosures about NSA/GCHQ Electronic Surveillance (Y-A-W-N!)”

  1. Isn’t “Prism” just another manifestation of Promis? It’s Inslaw and Cabazon all over again.

    Posted by Joe Reader | June 7, 2013, 4:47 pm
  2. Oh my, so Palantir is claiming that it isn’t their Prism software that’s being used by the NSA. Palantir’s Prism, they assert, is only used by financial firms. They also claim they they’ve never even heard of this other NSA Prism program. While it’s possible that Palantir – a CIA-financed company dedicated to Big Data analysis – and the NSA just happened to give the same name to two different Big Data analytical tools that performed remarkably similar functions, it sort of strains credulity:

    Startup Palantir Denies Its ‘Prism’ Software Is The NSA’s ‘PRISM’ Surveillance System
    Andy Greenberg, Forbes Staff
    6/07/2013 @ 1:48PM

    The data analysis firm Palantir wants to make one thing clear: There’s more than one piece of software in the world called “Prism,” and Palantir’s “Prism” product is definitely not the National Security Agency’s massive surveillance system known as “PRISM.”

    The leaked NSA document published Thursday by the Guardian and the Washington Post, which outlined a system known as PRISM for collecting data in real time from tech giants including Google, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft, quickly led to suspicions that the program was in fact built by the $5 billion, CIA-funded data analysis startup Palantir, which sells a product with the same name.

    But in a phone call Friday, a Palantir staffer who asked not to be named told me that Palantir has nothing to do with the NSA’s PRISM program, and that its “Prism” product is actually financial analysis software not intended for government. “It’s a name collision,” she said. “We had no knowledge of this PRISM program before the story broke, and we don’t have anything to do with it. The Prism product, posted on a public wiki, was built for our finance program, and it has nothing to do with government.”

    Palantir’s legal counsel Matt Long followed up with an official statement:

    Palantir’s Prism platform is completely unrelated to any US government program of the same name. Prism is Palantir’s name for a data integration technology used in the Palantir Metropolis platform (formerly branded as Palantir Finance). This software has been licensed to banks and hedge funds for quantitative analysis and research.

    A description of Palantir’s Prism software on a public portion of its website doesn’t reveal much about its applications:

    Prism is a software component that lets you quickly integrate external databases into Palantir. Specifically, it lets you build high-performance Data Engine based providers without writing any code. Instead, you define simple configuration files and then Palantir automatically constructs the data provider and database code for you.

    Palantir isn’t the first to deny its involvement in the NSA’s spying scheme, which according to the Post extracted files directly from nine Internet companies over six years. Within hours of the story breaking, practically every tech company named in the story had denied their involvement and in some cases even denied knowing what PRISM was.

    The Palantir staffer I spoke with wouldn’t comment on the startup’s customers, but it’s no secret that the company does work with intelligence agencies. A Wall Street Journal profile of the firm in 2009 said that the NSA was “eyeing” the company. It’s received investment from the CIA venture capital arm known as In-Q-Tel, as well as billionaire Peter Thiel. The company’s software was initially developed from fraud detection techniques implemented by PayPal, which Thiel co-founded.

    Palantir has found itself under scrutiny for civil liberties violations before. When intruders from the hacker group Anonymous gained access to thousands of emails stored on the servers of the security firm HB Gary Federal, the emails revealed that Palantir had worked with HB Gary Federal to develop proposals for attacking WikiLeaks’ infrastructure, blackmailing its supporters and identifying donors. The company quickly apologized for its role in the plan and cut ties with HB Gary Federal.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 7, 2013, 6:06 pm
  3. Good info . . . . very interesting article. Indeed, what ARE Peter Thiel and his buddies doing with this stuff? It bears watching, and is grounds for further research. =(

    Posted by Steve L. | June 8, 2013, 12:55 pm
  4. @Steven L.: Well, if Palantir’s involvement in the HBGary blackmailing episode is any indication of what we should expect, I’m leaning towards blackmail/dirty-tricks-for-hire services. There’s no evidence that it’s being used for that. Just their track record:

    Wikileaks Wasn’t The Only Operation HBGary Federal, Palantir And Berico Planned To Defraud
    from the with-the-help-of-the-government dept
    by Mike Masnick
    Fri, Feb 11th 2011 1:24pm

    By now the exposed plan of HBGary Federal, Palantir and Berico to attack Wikileaks and its supporters through fraud and deception, in order to help Bank of America, has been discussed widely. However, the leaked HBGary Federal emails suggest that this sort of plan involving these three companies had been used elsewhere. Apparently the US Chamber of Commerce had approached the same three firms to plan a remarkably similar attack on groups that oppose the US Chamber of Commerce.

    That leaked plan (embedded below) includes a similar plan to create fake documents and give them to these groups to publish, with the intent of “exposing” them later, to raise questions about their credibility.

    That giant US companies and lobbyist organizations are interested in underhanded, dirty tricks is no surprise (though, there’s no evidence that either BofA or the CoC agreed to these proposals). However, as Glenn Greenwald (a key target in the original proposal for BofA) explains, what’s really troubling is the chummy relationship between these organizations and the US government. The US government is supposed to protect people from frauds perpetrated by big companies. But the evidence here suggests that the federal government was pretty closely connected to all of this.

    The reason HBGary Federal, Palantir and Berico were even talking to BofA in the first place was because BofA contacted the Justice Department to ask what to do about Wikileaks, and the Justice Department turned them on to the law firm of Huntoon and Williams, who was instrumental in arranging both of these proposals.

    But the real issue highlighted by this episode is just how lawless and unrestrained is the unified axis of government and corporate power. I’ve written many times about this issue — the full-scale merger between public and private spheres — because it’s easily one of the most critical yet under-discussed political topics. Especially (though by no means only) in the worlds of the Surveillance and National Security State, the powers of the state have become largely privatized. There is very little separation between government power and corporate power. Those who wield the latter intrinsically wield the former. The revolving door between the highest levels of government and corporate offices rotates so fast and continuously that it has basically flown off its track and no longer provides even the minimal barrier it once did. It’s not merely that corporate power is unrestrained; it’s worse than that: corporations actively exploit the power of the state to further entrench and enhance their power.

    That’s what this anti-WikiLeaks campaign is generally: it’s a concerted, unified effort between government and the most powerful entities in the private sector (Bank of America is the largest bank in the nation). The firms the Bank has hired (such as Booz Allen) are suffused with the highest level former defense and intelligence officials, while these other outside firms (including Hunton Williams and Palantir) are extremely well-connected to the U.S. Government. The U.S. Government’s obsession with destroying WikiLeaks has been well-documented. And because the U.S. Government is free to break the law without any constraints, oversight or accountability, so, too, are its “private partners” able to act lawlessly. That was the lesson of the Congressional vesting of full retroactive immunity on lawbreaking telecoms, of the refusal to prosecute any of the important Wall Street criminals who caused the 2008 financial crisis, and of the instinctive efforts of the political class to protect defrauding mortgage banks.

    The exemption from the rule of law has been fully transferred from the highest level political elites to their counterparts in the private sector. “Law” is something used to restrain ordinary Americans and especially those who oppose this consortium of government and corporate power, but it manifestly does not apply to restrain these elites. Just consider one amazing example illustrating how this works.

    Greenwald’s language may be a bit hyperbolic (though, considering he was one of the people “targeted,” that seems entirely understandable), but he has a point. And his very next paragraph shows how the government isn’t doing its job of protecting people in law enforcement, but is selectively picking what laws to enforce mainly when it protects themselves and big corporations. For example, while the FBI is spending so much time trying to track down Anonymous for its brief virtual sit-ins in the form of temporary DDoS attacks, it has not bothered to put any effort into looking at a similar DDoS attack on Wikileaks itself.

    Why? Because crimes carried out that serve the Government’s agenda and target its opponents are permitted and even encouraged; cyber-attacks are “crimes” only when undertaken by those whom the Government dislikes, but are perfectly permissible when the Government itself or those with a sympathetic agenda unleash them. Whoever launched those cyber attacks at WikiLeaks (whether government or private actors) had no more legal right to do so than Anonymous, but only the latter will be prosecuted.

    That’s the same dynamic that causes the Obama administration to be obsessed with prosecuting WikiLeaks but not The New York Times or Bob Woodward, even though the latter have published far more sensitive government secrets; WikiLeaks is adverse to the government while the NYT and Woodward aren’t, and thus “law” applies to punish only the former. The same mindset drives the Government to shield high-level political officials who commit the most serious crimes, while relentlessly pursuing whistle-blowers who expose their wrongdoing. Those with proximity to government power and who serve and/or control it are free from the constraints of law; those who threaten or subvert it have the full weight of law come crashing down upon them.

    The idea that a far-right anti-democracy wacko like Thiel could be basically deputized by the government to become some sort of Cyber Vigilante is particularly unsettling. But then when you factor all the creepy far-right ties swirling around Wikileaks the idea that Thiel was deputized to fight Wikileaks becomes even more perverse.

    Another interesting question surrounding all of this is just what can metadata be used for? To some extent it’s a moot question because so much more than metadata is being collected. But metadata alone might end up being much more widely available for sale or use in the growing private intelligence industry because it’s simply less informative and presumed to be sort of “safer” regarding privacy concerns. So it’s a question still worth asking.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 8, 2013, 6:59 pm
  5. @Pterrafractyl–

    Please do check the latest update. Greenwald, himself, is associated with the Cato Institute.

    He may just be naive–he says he liked what George Bush was doing around 9/11–and he may just be used to do the bidding of Thiel/Palantir, etc.

    The road to Hell is paved with–libertarianism!

    Just what the Hell does Greenwald think he’s doing hanging with the likes of the Cato Institute?

    Why have we not heard more about this relationship?

    Check the stories and links in the updated version of this post.



    Posted by Dave Emory | June 8, 2013, 7:30 pm
  6. This guy who came out today, Snowden, was/is working for Booz-Allen in Hong Kong. Thought that company’s name rang a bell, and weren’t they involved in some unflatering business just like this in the late 90s?

    Posted by LarryFW | June 9, 2013, 2:31 pm
  7. The self-outed leaker, Edward Snowden, is turning out to be a somewhat mysterious fellow. The 29 year old former CIA analyst appears to be a Libertarian Ron Paul supporter that leaked the NSA documents in order to prompt a national debate about the growing surveillance state. And maybe he’s telling the truth. But he’s already got many scratching their heads by traveling to Hong Kong, where he is currently staying, and saying that he chose that location because “they have a spirited commitment to free speech and the right of political dissent.” It’s a curious choice for a Libertarian activist dedicated to internet freedoms. It sounds like he wants to get asylum somewhere so it will be interesting to see how this plays out between the US and Chinese governments.

    Snowden also gave a vague timeline on when he decided he must do something to expose the NSA’s abuses. He joined a Special Forces training program in 2003 but left after breaking both legs in a training accident. After that, he worked as a security guard at an NSA facility and then went on to work at the CIA in IT security. It sounds like the transformational moment for him was while he was stationed in Geneva in 2007. He witnessed the CIA officers attempt to recruit a Swiss banker by first getting the guy drunk, then encouraging him to drive home, and after the guy is arrested for drunk driving the CIA officers offered to help, establishing the relationship that led to the recruitment. That appears to have deeply unsettled him and it was during his time in Geneva that he first thought about exposing state secrets. So he’s been planning on something like this for the past six years. He asserts that one of the reasons he didn’t leak anything at the time was the election of Obama and the hope that real change would take place. He left the CIA in 2009 to go work for the NSA as a contractor in Japan. It sounds like it was seeing Obama repeat Bush’s surveillance policies in 2009 that “hardened” him and made him determined to do something. He then spent the next three years learning about the NSA’s systems. So Snowden has been planning this for a while:

    Edward Snowden: the whistleblower behind the NSA surveillance revelations
    The 29-year-old source behind the biggest intelligence leak in the NSA’s history explains his motives, his uncertain future and why he never intended on hiding in the shadows

    Glenn Greenwald, Ewen MacAskill and Laura Poitras in Hong Kong
    guardian.co.uk, Sunday 9 June 2013 16.17 EDT

    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 will go down in history as one of America’s most consequential whistleblowers, alongside Daniel Ellsberg and Bradley Manning. He is responsible for handing over material from one of the world’s most secretive organisations – the NSA.

    In a note accompanying the first set of documents he provided, he wrote: “I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions,” but “I will be satisfied if the federation of secret law, unequal pardon and irresistible executive powers that rule the world that I love are revealed even for an instant.”

    Despite his determination to be publicly unveiled, he repeatedly insisted that he wants to avoid the media spotlight. “I don’t want public attention because I don’t want the story to be about me. I want it to be about what the US government is doing.”

    He does not fear the consequences of going public, he said, only that doing so will distract attention from the issues raised by his disclosures. “I know the media likes to personalise political debates, and I know the government will demonise me.”

    Despite these fears, he remained hopeful his outing will not divert attention from the substance of his disclosures. “I really want the focus to be on these documents and the debate which I hope this will trigger among citizens around the globe about what kind of world we want to live in.” He added: “My sole motive is to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them.

    He has had “a very comfortable life” that included a salary of roughly $200,000, a girlfriend with whom he shared a home in Hawaii, a stable career, and a family he loves. “I’m willing to sacrifice all of that because I can’t in good conscience allow the US government to destroy privacy, internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they’re secretly building.”

    ‘I am not afraid, because this is the choice I’ve made’

    Three weeks ago, Snowden made final preparations that resulted in last week’s series of blockbuster news stories. At the NSA office in Hawaii where he was working, he copied the last set of documents he intended to disclose.

    He then advised his NSA supervisor that he needed to be away from work for “a couple of weeks” in order to receive treatment for epilepsy, a condition he learned he suffers from after a series of seizures last year.

    As he packed his bags, he told his girlfriend that he had to be away for a few weeks, though he said he was vague about the reason. “That is not an uncommon occurrence for someone who has spent the last decade working in the intelligence world.”

    On May 20, he boarded a flight to Hong Kong, where he has remained ever since. He chose the city because “they have a spirited commitment to free speech and the right of political dissent”, and because he believed that it was one of the few places in the world that both could and would resist the dictates of the US government.

    In the three weeks since he arrived, he has been ensconced in a hotel room. “I’ve left the room maybe a total of three times during my entire stay,” he said. It is a plush hotel and, what with eating meals in his room too, he has run up big bills.

    He is deeply worried about being spied on. He lines the door of his hotel room with pillows to prevent eavesdropping. He puts a large red hood over his head and laptop when entering his passwords to prevent any hidden cameras from detecting them.

    Though that may sound like paranoia to some, Snowden has good reason for such fears. He worked in the US intelligence world for almost a decade. He knows that the biggest and most secretive surveillance organisation in America, the NSA, along with the most powerful government on the planet, is looking for him.

    Since the disclosures began to emerge, he has watched television and monitored the internet, hearing all the threats and vows of prosecution emanating from Washington.

    And he knows only too well the sophisticated technology available to them and how easy it will be for them to find him. The NSA police and other law enforcement officers have twice visited his home in Hawaii and already contacted his girlfriend, though he believes that may have been prompted by his absence from work, and not because of suspicions of any connection to the leaks.

    “All my options are bad,” he said. The US could begin extradition proceedings against him, a potentially problematic, lengthy and unpredictable course for Washington. Or the Chinese government might whisk him away for questioning, viewing him as a useful source of information. Or he might end up being grabbed and bundled into a plane bound for US territory.

    “Yes, I could be rendered by the CIA. I could have people come after me. Or any of the third-party partners. They work closely with a number of other nations. Or they could pay off the Triads. Any of their agents or assets,” he said.

    “We have got a CIA station just up the road – the consulate here in Hong Kong – and I am sure they are going to be busy for the next week. And that is a concern I will live with for the rest of my life, however long that happens to be.”

    Having watched the Obama administration prosecute whistleblowers at a historically unprecedented rate, he fully expects the US government to attempt to use all its weight to punish him. “I am not afraid,” he said calmly, “because this is the choice I’ve made.”

    He predicts the government will launch an investigation and “say I have broken the Espionage Act and helped our enemies, but that can be used against anyone who points out how massive and invasive the system has become”.

    The only time he became emotional during the many hours of interviews was when he pondered the impact his choices would have on his family, many of whom work for the US government. “The only thing I fear is the harmful effects on my family, who I won’t be able to help any more. That’s what keeps me up at night,” he said, his eyes welling up with tears.

    ‘You can’t wait around for someone else to act’

    Snowden did not always believe the US government posed a threat to his political values. He was brought up originally in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. His family moved later to Maryland, near the NSA headquarters in Fort Meade.

    By his own admission, he was not a stellar student. In order to get the credits necessary to obtain a high school diploma, he attended a community college in Maryland, studying computing, but never completed the coursework. (He later obtained his GED.)

    In 2003, he enlisted in the US army and began a training program to join the Special Forces. Invoking the same principles that he now cites to justify his leaks, he said: “I wanted to fight in the Iraq war because I felt like I had an obligation as a human being to help free people from oppression”.

    He recounted how his beliefs about the war’s purpose were quickly dispelled. “Most of the people training us seemed pumped up about killing Arabs, not helping anyone,” he said. After he broke both his legs in a training accident, he was discharged.

    After that, he got his first job in an NSA facility, working as a security guard for one of the agency’s covert facilities at the University of Maryland. From there, he went to the CIA, where he worked on IT security. His understanding of the internet and his talent for computer programming enabled him to rise fairly quickly for someone who lacked even a high school diploma.

    By 2007, the CIA stationed him with diplomatic cover in Geneva, Switzerland. His responsibility for maintaining computer network security meant he had clearance to access a wide array of classified documents.

    That access, along with the almost three years he spent around CIA officers, led him to begin seriously questioning the rightness of what he saw.

    He described as formative an incident in which he claimed CIA operatives were attempting to recruit a Swiss banker to obtain secret banking information. Snowden said they achieved this by purposely getting the banker drunk and encouraging him to drive home in his car. When the banker was arrested for drunk driving, the undercover agent seeking to befriend him offered to help, and a bond was formed that led to successful recruitment.

    “Much of what I saw in Geneva really disillusioned me about how my government functions and what its impact is in the world,” he says. “I realised that I was part of something that was doing far more harm than good.”

    He said it was during his CIA stint in Geneva that he thought for the first time about exposing government secrets. But, at the time, he chose not to for two reasons.

    First, he said: “Most of the secrets the CIA has are about people, not machines and systems, so I didn’t feel comfortable with disclosures that I thought could endanger anyone”. Secondly, the election of Barack Obama in 2008 gave him hope that there would be real reforms, rendering disclosures unnecessary.

    He left the CIA in 2009 in order to take his first job working for a private contractor that assigned him to a functioning NSA facility, stationed on a military base in Japan. It was then, he said, that he “watched as Obama advanced the very policies that I thought would be reined in”, and as a result, “I got hardened.”

    The primary lesson from this experience was that “you can’t wait around for someone else to act. I had been looking for leaders, but I realised that leadership is about being the first to act.”

    Over the next three years, he learned just how all-consuming the NSA’s surveillance activities were, claiming “they are intent on making every conversation and every form of behaviour in the world known to them”.

    He described how he once viewed the internet as “the most important invention in all of human history”. As an adolescent, he spent days at a time “speaking to people with all sorts of views that I would never have encountered on my own”.

    But he believed that the value of the internet, along with basic privacy, is being rapidly destroyed by ubiquitous surveillance. “I don’t see myself as a hero,” he said, “because what I’m doing is self-interested: I don’t want to live in a world where there’s no privacy and therefore no room for intellectual exploration and creativity.”

    Once he reached the conclusion that the NSA’s surveillance net would soon be irrevocable, he said it was just a matter of time before he chose to act. “What they’re doing” poses “an existential threat to democracy”, he said.

    He is quiet, smart, easy-going and self-effacing. A master on computers, he seemed happiest when talking about the technical side of surveillance, at a level of detail comprehensible probably only to fellow communication specialists. But he showed intense passion when talking about the value of privacy and how he felt it was being steadily eroded by the behaviour of the intelligence services.

    His manner was calm and relaxed but he has been understandably twitchy since he went into hiding, waiting for the knock on the hotel door. A fire alarm goes off. “That has not happened before,” he said, betraying anxiety wondering if was real, a test or a CIA ploy to get him out onto the street.

    Strewn about the side of his bed are his suitcase, a plate with the remains of room-service breakfast, and a copy of Angler, the biography of former vice-president Dick Cheney.

    Snowden said that he admires both Ellsberg and Manning, but argues that there is one important distinction between himself and the army private, whose trial coincidentally began the week Snowden’s leaks began to make news.

    “I carefully evaluated every single document I disclosed to ensure that each was legitimately in the public interest,” he said. “There are all sorts of documents that would have made a big impact that I didn’t turn over, because harming people isn’t my goal. Transparency is.”

    He purposely chose, he said, to give the documents to journalists whose judgment he trusted about what should be public and what should remain concealed.

    As for his future, he is vague. He hoped the publicity the leaks have generated will offer him some protection, making it “harder for them to get dirty”.

    He views his best hope as the possibility of asylum, with Iceland – with its reputation of a champion of internet freedom – at the top of his list. He knows that may prove a wish unfulfilled.

    But after the intense political controversy he has already created with just the first week’s haul of stories, “I feel satisfied that this was all worth it. I have no regrets.”

    One question Snowden needs to answer right away is what on earth was Dick Cheney’s autobiography doing in his room? Like, he being ironic or something, right?

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 9, 2013, 8:46 pm
  8. Ok, that Cheney biography mentioned in the interview of Snowden actually sounds like a good read.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 9, 2013, 10:15 pm
  9. This fellow Snowden volunteered for Special Forces. Allegedly left the military because he got two broken legs in a training accident (but maybe his mom was sick). Then worked for the NSA. Then worked for the CIA. Then worked for Booz Allen Hamilton, which is essentially a privatized wing of the CIA. This is not the normal career path for a someone concerned with civil liberties. Maybe he squeezed in some work for Jaggars-Chiles-Stovall along the way.

    Posted by Bob Miller | June 10, 2013, 10:35 am
  10. Following Bob’s train of thought “Whistleblower” Edward Snowden went from high school dropout to army dropout to NSA SECURITY GUARD to Booz Allen Hamilton infrastructure analyst for the NSA. The Carlyle Group, with deep connections to the Bush and Bin Laden families on 911, owns two-thirds of Booz Allen. Recall that Ace SECURITY GUARD Thane Eugene Cesar, a central figure in the RFK assassination, worked For Lockheed at the CIA U2 facility in Burbank and held a top security clearance there. Are we witnessing a case where Thane Eugene Snowden shot from the lip mortally wounding Lee Harvey Obama?

    Posted by Dennis | June 11, 2013, 1:05 am
  11. And now the EU’s leaders get to play the ‘I’m super shockedgame:

    Deutsche Welle
    Brussels failed to act against US surveillance of EU citizens
    Date 11.06.2013
    Author Nina Haase / slk
    Editor Michael Lawton

    European authorities have known since mid-2011 that the US could conduct surveillance on EU citizens. But experts say that European countries had little interest in picking a fight with their ally in Washington.

    There has been widespread outrage in Europe over the scope of the National Security Agency’s PRISM surveillance program. European experts, however, are not surprised by American whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelations.

    “What Snowden revealed about PRISM was already known to certain well-connected people for a long time,” Benjamin Bergemann, the author of the German blog netzpolitik.org and a member of the Digitale Gesellschaft (Digital Society) e.V., told DW.

    The European Parliament commissioned a report in 2012, which showed that US authorities had been able theoretically to access European citizens’ data since 2008. The report’s authors were hard on European authorities.

    In the EU, there was no awareness that mass political surveillance was possible, according to the authors of the study. Incredibly, since 2011 “neither the EU Commission nor the national lawmakers nor the European Parliament had any knowledge of FISAAA 1881a.”

    FISAAA 1881a refers to a section of a 2008 amendment to the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978. That section of the 2008 amendment empowers US spy agencies to collect information stored by American cloud computing providers.

    The authors of the EU study warned that US authorities had access to the data of non-US citizens in these so-called data clouds. The report came to the devastating conclusion that the EU was failing to protect its citizens.

    European intelligence agencies complicit?

    According to Britain’s Guardian newspaper, European intelligence agencies may have profited from the Americans’ surveillance activities. The Guardian reported that Britain’s equivalent to the NSA, GCHQ, appears to have made use of American intelligence gleaned from PRISM.

    Every European user of Facebook and Google should be aware that their data may be subject to PRISM, said blogger Benjamin Bergemann.

    “One could say, ‘what interest does the US have in me?’ But one should not forget that the European criminal justice systems have an interest in such surveillance and so a coalition of interests could form,” Bergemann said.

    With Obama set to meet with Merkel next week you have to wonder how this will play out in Germany’s upcoming elections and the resulting impact that could have on US/EU data-sharing agreements. This is the type of issue that could really rankle the German electorate given the long history of strong data privacy protections in Germany. Plus, they probably already forgot about this

    Der Spiegel
    The World from Berlin: Electronic Surveillance Scandal Hits Germany

    A German hacker organization claims to have cracked spying software allegedly used by German authorities. The Trojan horse has functions which go way beyond those allowed by German law. The news has sparked a wave of outrage among politicians and media commentators.
    October 10, 2011 – 02:11 PM
    David Gordon Smith and Kristen Allen

    It sounds like something out of George Orwell’s novel “1984” — a computer program that can remotely control someone’s computer without their knowledge, search its complete contents and use it to conduct audio-visual surveillance via the microphone or webcam.

    But the spy software that the famous German hacker organization Chaos Computer Club has obtained is not used by criminals looking to steal credit-card data or send spam e-mails. If the CCC is to be believed, the so-called “Trojan horse” software was used by German authorities. The case has already triggered a political shockwave in the country and could have far-reaching consequences.

    On Saturday, the CCC announced that it had been given hard drives containing a “state spying software” which had allegedly been used by German investigators to carry out surveillance of Internet communication. The organization had analyzed the software and found it to be full of defects. They also found that it transmitted information via a server located in the US. As well as its surveillance functions, it could be used to plant files on an individual’s computer. It was also not sufficiently protected, so that third parties with the necessary technical skills could hijack the Trojan horse’s functions for their own ends. The software possibly violated German law, the organization said.

    So-called Trojan horse software can be surreptitiously delivered by a harmless-looking e-mail and installed on a user’s computer without their knowledge, where it can be used to, for example, scan the contents of a hard drive. In 2007, the German Interior Ministry announced it had designed a Trojan horse that could be used to search the hard drives of terror suspects.

    Beyond the Limits

    The hard drives that the CCC analyzed came from at least two different German states. It was unclear whether the software, which is said to be at least three years old, had been used by state-level or national authorities. In a Sunday statement, the Interior Ministry denied that the software had been used by the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA), which is similar to the American FBI. The statement did not explicitly rule out the possibility that the software could have been used by state-level police forces.

    If the CCC’s claims are true, then the software has functions which were expressly forbidden by Germany’s highest court, the Federal Constitutional Court, in a landmark 2008 ruling which significantly restricted what was allowed in terms of online surveillance. The court also specified that online spying was only permissible if there was concrete evidence of danger to individuals or society.

    German politicians from all sides of the political spectrum have reacted to the news with alarm. Government spokesman Steffen Seibert said that Chancellor Angela Merkel was taking the CCC’s allegations very seriously. It needed to be investigated on all levels whether such a Trojan horse had been used, he said, adding that the German government always acted on the basis of law.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 11, 2013, 8:21 am
  12. @Bob Miller and Dennis–

    Snowden’s career path is definitely atypical for one as concerned with civil liberties as he pretends to be.

    He leaks this information shortly after Obama took control of drone strikes away from CIA (whose headquarters is named for George H.W. Bush.)

    He then turns up in Hong Kong, well-positioned to potentially cause troubles for Obama’s diplomacy vis a vis China.

    This definitely has a “U-2 incident” feel to it.

    I’ll be doing a post on this and other “scandals” before too much longer.

    The more time passes, the more I come to feel that the ouster of Petraeus was a prelude to the symphony of scandals that we’ve been seeing since.

    BTW–Sunday’s New York Times confirmed that NSA does indeed have a working arrangement with Palantir, the firm’s anonymous disclaimer to the contrary notwithstanding.

    With Glenn Greenwald maintaining a professional relationship with the Koch brothers’ Cato Institute, I still very much wonder if “team Thiel” had anything to do with hooking up Snowden and Greenwald.

    Greenwald, BTW, was deeply involved with the WikiLeaks affair.



    Posted by Dave Emory | June 11, 2013, 12:17 pm
  13. Dave,

    Are you aware that Edward Snowden has financially backed crypto-fascist Ron Paul? That is extremely concerning to me. I only found out like just now but it really dampens my excitement and rejoice in proclaiming him to be a post-modern hero. I don’t know how to reconcile the fact that he leaked information about a program (PRISM, that along with project Stellar Wind) has brought about the end of privacy with the fact that he supports a fascist politician who would bring about an authoritarian government worse than our present government and an economy that is Objectivist. Even just the economic issue, I deplore Objectivism (economic and moral ideology) and Ayn Rand.

    Posted by Jay | June 12, 2013, 12:50 am
  14. @Jay–

    I am indeed aware that Snowden is a “Paulistinian” and will be discussing that in a post to be published shortly.

    Note that Peter Thiel of Palantir was the main contributor to Paul’s Provo, Utah, based Super PAC.

    (Its disclaimers to the contrary notwithstanding, Palantir does indeed appear to be the parent of the PRISM function.)

    Glenn Greenwald, the leaking journalist, is professionally associated with the Koch Brothers’ originated Cato Institute, with which Thiel is also affiliated.

    One wonders if we are looking at some “networking” here.

    BTW–in proof that a broken clock is right twice a day, some GOP figures have labeled Snowden a traitor.

    Indeed he is. He may very well be THEIR traitor, however.

    In which case, he fits right in.

    Snowden’s background is more than a little interesting, for a personal liberties honcho.

    “Alphabet Soup”–NSA,CIA, Booz Allen (an annex of the preceding.)

    Turns up in Hong Kong, just as Obama is meeting with Chinese leadership to improve relations, including cyber-espionage.

    Good luck with that, now.

    Interestingly, he does not have a high school degree–mandatory for government national security contractors.

    That suggests he was “fast tracked.”

    Keep your eyes peeled for the post.



    Posted by Dave Emory | June 12, 2013, 1:37 pm
  15. It looks like Snowden is now passing documents to the Chinese. This doesn’t seem like it will help win the battle for US public opinion, and it’s not exactly revelatory news for anyone, so maybe he’s trying to please the Chinese?

    Washington Post
    NSA leaker Edward Snowden: U.S. targets China with hackers

    By Jia Lynn Yang, Updated: Wednesday, June 12, 1:28 PM

    HONG KONG — Edward Snowden, the self-confessed leaker of secret surveillance documents, claimed Wednesday that the United States has mounted massive hacking operations against hundreds of Chinese targets since 2009.

    The former contractor, whose work at the National Security Agency gave him access to highly classified U.S. intelligence, made the assertions in an interview with the South China Morning Post. The newspaper said he showed it “unverified documents” describing an extensive U.S. campaign to obtain information from computers in Hong Kong and mainland China.

    “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 told the newspaper.

    According to Snowden, the NSA has engaged in more than 61,000 hacking operations worldwide, including hundreds aimed at Chinese targets. Among the targets were universities, businesses and public officials.

    The interview was the first time Snowden has surfaced publicly since he acknowledged in interviews with The Washington Post and Britain’s Guardian newspaper Sunday that he was responsible for disclosing classified documents outlining extensive U.S. surveillance efforts in the United States.

    Senior American officials have accused China of hacking into U.S. military and business computers. Snowden’s claims of extensive U.S. hacking of Chinese computers tracks assertions made repeatedly by senior Chinese government officials that they are victims of similar cyber-intrusions.

    Snowden’s claims could not be verified, and U.S. officials did not respond to immediate requests for comment.

    In the interview w ith the Morning Post posted online late Wednesday, Snowden said he stood by his decision to seek asylum in Hong Kong, a semiautonomous city, after leaking documents about a high-level U.S. surveillance program.

    “People who think I made a mistake in picking Hong Kong as a location misunderstood my intentions,” he said in the interview. “I am not here to hide from justice; I am here to reveal criminality.”

    He added, “I have had many opportunities to flee HK, but I would rather stay and fight the United States government in the courts, because I have faith in Hong Kong’s rule of law.”

    By speaking with Hong Kong’s oldest English-language newspaper, Snowden seemed to be directly addressing the city he has chosen as his safe harbor. And by disclosing that he possesses documents that he says describe U.S. hacking against China, he appeared to be trying to win support from the Chinese government.

    Snowden told the Hong Kong newspaper that he was describing what he says are U.S. cyber attacks on Chinese targets to illustrate “the hypocrisy of the U.S. government when it claims that it does not target civilian infrastructure, unlike its adversaries.”

    Some in Hong Kong are responding to his campaign. A rally is being organized Saturday to support the 29-year-old former government contractor, who has been in the city since May 20. A Web site, http://www.supportsnowden.org, has been set up with details about the event, which will include speeches from human rights activists and local legislators.

    Activists in Hong Kong said they admired Snowden’s effort to shed light on his government’s practices.

    “He is a brave man. The authorities cannot use the ‘anti-terrorism’ excuse to invade people’s privacy without boundaries,” said Yang Kuang, a prominent Hong Kong activist. “I hope more and more people will stand out and expose such practices.”

    Snowden said in his interview that he has “been given no reason to doubt [Hong Kong’s] legal system.”

    The reaction of the Hong Kong democracy activists raises a condundrum for Snowden: If Snowden wants to curry the Chinese government’s favor he has to be sure he isn’t encouraging China’s own dissidents. The Chinese populace is only getting more and more restive as the years tick by and by hanging out in Hong Kong and talking about US mass-surveillance he’s also indirectly reminding everyone of China’s police-state while championing liberty and privacy. It’s a fascinating dynamic unfolding.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 12, 2013, 2:19 pm
  16. @Dave,

    Never found the exact details of the late 90s thing with Booz Allen, and if you spoke to any of this I looked but couldn’t find anything. Actually it was in the month or so before 9/11 that Booz Allen was instrumental (somehow) in getting a company called Computer Sciences Corporation to handle the “non-mission” internal communication IT of NSA through Operations Breakthrough and Groundbreaker. There was a bit of a firestorm about the $ over this in August 2001 that was covered some in the media. I guess after 9/11 it went away, and I’m sorry if you covered this and I missed it. Anyway, Computer Sciences Corp is the (largest?)(only?) IT consultant/outsourcer based in the US. They have had contracts with everything from the aforementioned NSA to the IRS, Post Office and Medicaid and do/did own DynCorp. Apparently, they still have Booz Allen getting them contracts/info. Seems like they may have a lot of metadata.

    Posted by LarryFW | June 13, 2013, 12:31 am
  17. Wow, all of this sounds very familiar. In fact you can find almost verbatim texts on the Internet, however written, dictated by Indira Singh, way back when she outed Ptech and all the connections back and forwards. it appears her work is being copied wholesale. BTW what did those folks do to her to get rid of her?

    Posted by Josh | June 16, 2013, 3:49 pm
  18. … Not to mention the link between her IP (intellectual property) and Booze Allen’s on this matter. Have any of you read her books? Straight out of it, all of it.

    Posted by Josh | June 16, 2013, 3:50 pm
  19. Dave, you say Greenwald, approved of George W. Bush’s actions. This just flies in the face of the facts; Greenwald’s entire career has a journalist is due to his anti-Bush policy blooging. His relationship with the CATO institute was an event they hosted for his book on the Bush admin title “A Tragic Legacy” – hardly sounds like a tome of approval. Now, I wish Greenwald would think twice before lending an credibility to an organization like the CATO institute and, perhaps, as you say, he is being manipulated, but I don’t think its fair to call him “pro-Bush”

    Posted by Brian Brady | July 2, 2013, 4:33 am
  20. @Brian Brady–

    Well, sonny boy, there’s nothing like doing your homework.

    It was obvious from your comment the other day–which I relegated to the trash–that you don’t bother examining my posts.

    There is a dynamic I call “INformation vs. CONfirmation.”

    I work to disseminate INformation. Most people–obviously including yourself–are interested in CONfirmation, of their beliefs, hopes, prejudices, fears etc.

    You, sonny boy, are obviously interested in CONfirmation.

    You didn’t even read the post on which you commented with any degree of attention!

    To wit–I didn’t say Greenwald approved of Bush’s actions after 9/11, HE said it:

    “Blog­ger, With Focus on Sur­veil­lance, Is at Cen­ter of a Debate” by Noam Cohen and Leslie Kauf­man; The New York Times; 6/6/2013.


    EXCERPT: . . . . As Mr. Green­wald tells it, the last decade has been a slow polit­i­cal awak­en­ing. “When 9/11 hap­pened, I thought Bush was doing a good job,” he said. . . .

    Slow political awakening is understatement. BTW–Greenwald has a professional background in corporate law, working for some very big, wealthy interests.

    And as far as his relationship with the Cato Institute, you got that wrong, as well–predictably.

    You said: “His rela­tion­ship with the CATO insti­tute was an event they hosted for his book on the Bush admin title “A Tragic Legacy” — hardly sounds like a tome of approval. . . .”

    His relationship is deeper and more complex than that:

    “Hat Tip, Glenn Green­wald” by Tim Lynch; cato.org; 6/7/2013.


    EXCERPT: . . . . A few years ago, Cato invited Green­wald to par­tic­i­pate in a Cato Unbound exchange on gov­ern­ment sur­veil­lance. Here’s an excerpt from the intro­duc­tion to his essay:

    The dig­i­tal sur­veil­lance state is out of con­trol. It inter­cepts our phone calls, keeps track of our pre­scrip­tion drug use, mon­i­tors our email, and keeps tabs on us wher­ever we go. For all that, it doesn’t appear to be mak­ing us safer. Account­abil­ity has been lost, civil lib­er­ties are dis­ap­pear­ing, and the public-private part­ner­ships in this area of gov­ern­ment action raise seri­ous ques­tions about the demo­c­ra­tic process itself. It’s time we stood up to do some­thing about it.

    Cato also hosted an event for Greenwald’s sec­ond book, A Tragic Legacy, which focused on the poli­cies of the Bush admin­is­tra­tion. That event can be viewed here.

    And, though not directly related to gov­ern­ment spy­ing, Green­wald authored Cato’s highly acclaimed study, Drug Decrim­i­nal­iza­tion in Portugal.

    Amer­i­can pol­i­cy­mak­ers too often serve up Bread & Cir­cuses. Con­grat­u­la­tions to Green­wald for start­ing a real debate on one of the most impor­tant issues of our time. . . .”

    Greenwald is–as I said–professionally associated with Cato. He participated in one of their seminars, they hosted an event for a book he wrote and he authored a study for them.

    The entire point is that he, along with Uber Fascist Peter Thiel (whose Palantir firm developed PRISM and who capitalized crypto-Nazi Ron Paul’s political campaign, to which ultra-right winger Snowden also contributed) network with the Koch Brothers’ libertarian “non-think tank.”

    The key term here is “networking.” He needn’t be a full-time resident fellow to be put in contact with the fascists and spooks whose bidding he is clearly doing.

    Please don’t bother commenting on this website unless you do your homework, sonny boy. I’m not running a nursery.

    Kitchee, Kitchee, Koo, Baby Snookums,


    Posted by Dave Emory | July 2, 2013, 2:45 pm
  21. Wow!

    -“the Mail Isolation Control and Tracking program, in which Postal Service computers photograph the exterior of every piece of paper mail that is processed in the United States — about 160 billion pieces last year.”



    July 3, 2013
    U.S. Postal Service Logging All Mail for Law EnforcementBy RON NIXON
    WASHINGTON — Leslie James Pickering noticed something odd in his mail last September: a handwritten card, apparently delivered by mistake, with instructions for postal workers to pay special attention to the letters and packages sent to his home.

    “Show all mail to supv” — supervisor — “for copying prior to going out on the street,” read the card. It included Mr. Pickering’s name, address and the type of mail that needed to be monitored. The word “confidential” was highlighted in green.

    “It was a bit of a shock to see it,” said Mr. Pickering, who with his wife owns a small bookstore in Buffalo. More than a decade ago, he was a spokesman for the Earth Liberation Front, a radical environmental group labeled eco-terrorists by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Postal officials subsequently confirmed they were indeed tracking Mr. Pickering’s mail but told him nothing else.

    As the world focuses on the high-tech spying of the National Security Agency, the misplaced card offers a rare glimpse inside the seemingly low-tech but prevalent snooping of the United States Postal Service.

    Mr. Pickering was targeted by a longtime surveillance system called mail covers, a forerunner of a vastly more expansive effort, the Mail Isolation Control and Tracking program, in which Postal Service computers photograph the exterior of every piece of paper mail that is processed in the United States — about 160 billion pieces last year. It is not known how long the government saves the images.

    Together, the two programs show that postal mail is subject to the same kind of scrutiny that the National Security Agency has given to telephone calls and e-mail.

    The mail covers program, used to monitor Mr. Pickering, is more than a century old but is still considered a powerful tool. At the request of law enforcement officials, postal workers record information from the outside of letters and parcels before they are delivered. (Opening the mail would require a warrant.) The information is sent to the law enforcement agency that asked for it. Tens of thousands of pieces of mail each year undergo this scrutiny.

    The Mail Isolation Control and Tracking program was created after the anthrax attacks in late 2001 that killed five people, including two postal workers. Highly secret, it seeped into public view last month when the F.B.I. cited it in its investigation of ricin-laced letters sent to President Obama and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. It enables the Postal Service to retrace the path of mail at the request of law enforcement. No one disputes that it is sweeping.

    “In the past, mail covers were used when you had a reason to suspect someone of a crime,” said Mark D. Rasch, who started a computer crimes unit in the fraud section of the criminal division of the Justice Department and worked on several fraud cases using mail covers. “Now it seems to be, ‘Let’s record everyone’s mail so in the future we might go back and see who you were communicating with.’ Essentially you’ve added mail covers on millions of Americans.”

    Bruce Schneier, a computer security expert and an author, said whether it was a postal worker taking down information or a computer taking images, the program was still an invasion of privacy.

    “Basically they are doing the same thing as the other programs, collecting the information on the outside of your mail, the metadata, if you will, of names, addresses, return addresses and postmark locations, which gives the government a pretty good map of your contacts, even if they aren’t reading the contents,” he said.

    But law enforcement officials said mail covers and the automatic mail tracking program are invaluable, even in an era of smartphones and e-mail.

    In a criminal complaint filed June 7 in Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, the F.B.I. said a postal investigator tracing the ricin letters was able to narrow the search to Shannon Guess Richardson, an actress in New Boston, Tex., by examining information from the front and back images of 60 pieces of mail scanned immediately before and after the tainted letters sent to Mr. Obama and Mr. Bloomberg showing return addresses near her home. Ms. Richardson had originally accused her husband of mailing the letters, but investigators determined that he was at work during the time they were mailed.

    In 2007, the F.B.I., the Internal Revenue Service and the local police in Charlotte, N.C., used information gleaned from the mail cover program to arrest Sallie Wamsley-Saxon and her husband, Donald, charging both with running a prostitution ring that took in $3 million over six years. Prosecutors said it was one of the largest and most successful such operations in the country. Investigators also used mail covers to help track banking activity and other businesses the couple operated under different names.

    Other agencies, including the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services, have used mail covers to track drug smugglers and Medicare fraud.

    “It’s a treasure trove of information,” said James J. Wedick, a former F.B.I. agent who spent 34 years at the agency and who said he used mail covers in a number of investigations, including one that led to the prosecution of several elected officials in California on corruption charges. “Looking at just the outside of letters and other mail, I can see who you bank with, who you communicate with — all kinds of useful information that gives investigators leads that they can then follow up on with a subpoena.”

    But, he said: “It can be easily abused because it’s so easy to use and you don’t have to go through a judge to get the information. You just fill out a form.”

    For mail cover requests, law enforcement agencies submit a letter to the Postal Service, which can grant or deny a request without judicial review. Law enforcement officials say the Postal Service rarely denies a request. In other government surveillance programs, like wiretaps, a federal judge must sign off on the requests.

    The mail cover surveillance requests are granted for about 30 days, and can be extended for up to 120 days. There are two kinds of mail covers: those related to criminal activity and those requested to protect national security. Criminal activity requests average 15,000 to 20,000 per year, said law enforcement officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they are prohibited by law from discussing them. The number of requests for antiterrorism mail covers has not been made public.

    Law enforcement officials need warrants to open the mail, although President George W. Bush asserted in a signing statement in 2007 that the federal government had the authority to open mail without warrants in emergencies or in foreign intelligence cases.

    Court challenges to mail covers have generally failed because judges have ruled that there is no reasonable expectation of privacy for information contained on the outside of a letter. Officials in both the Bush and Obama administrations, in fact, have used the mail-cover court rulings to justify the N.S.A.’s surveillance programs, saying the electronic monitoring amounts to the same thing as a mail cover. Congress briefly conducted hearings on mail cover programs in 1976, but has not revisited the issue.

    The program has led to sporadic reports of abuse. In May 2012, Mary Rose Wilcox, a Maricopa County supervisor in Arizona, was awarded nearly $1 million by a federal judge after winning a lawsuit against Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The sheriff, known for his immigration raids, had obtained mail covers from the Postal Service to track her mail. The judge called the investigation into Ms. Wilcox politically motivated because she had been a frequent critic of Mr. Arpaio’s, objecting to what she considered the targeting of Hispanics in his immigration sweeps. The case is being appealed.

    In the mid-1970s the Church Committee, a Senate panel that documented C.I.A. abuses, faulted a program created in the 1950s in New York that used mail covers to trace and sometimes open mail going to the Soviet Union from the United States.

    A suit brought in 1973 by a high school student in New Jersey, whose letter to the Socialist Workers Party was traced by the F.B.I. as part of an investigation into the group, led to a rebuke from a federal judge.

    Postal officials refused to discuss either mail covers or the Mail Isolation Control and Tracking program.

    Mr. Pickering says he suspects that the F.B.I. requested the mail cover to monitor his mail because a former associate said the bureau had called with questions about him. Last month, he filed a lawsuit against the Postal Service, the F.B.I. and other agencies, saying they were improperly withholding information.

    A spokeswoman for the F.B.I. in Buffalo declined to comment.

    Mr. Pickering said that although he was arrested two dozen times for acts of civil disobedience and convicted of a handful of misdemeanors, he was never involved in the arson attacks the Earth Liberation Front carried out. He said he became tired of focusing only on environmental activism and moved back to Buffalo to finish college, open his bookstore, Burning Books, and start a family.

    “I’m no terrorist,” he said. “I’m an activist.”

    Mr. Pickering has written books sympathetic to the liberation front, but he said his political views and past association should not make him the target of a federal investigation. “I’m just a guy who runs a bookstore and has a wife and a kid,” he said.

    This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

    Correction: July 3, 2013

    An earlier version of this article misstated the Justice Department position once held by Mark Rasch. He started a computer crimes unit in the criminal division’s fraud section, but he was not the head of its computer crimes unit, which was created after his departure.

    Posted by Swamp | July 4, 2013, 9:04 am
  22. @SWAMP–

    Isn’t it interesting how all this is coming out on Obama’s watch?

    Mail covers, as they have been called for DECADES, are nothing new, to say the least.

    I also find it interesting that the Earth Liberation Front are being painted as victims. That whacko organization has all the earmarks of an “eco-agent provacteur” group.

    Another thing that is so interesting is the amnesia of the general public.

    In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, letters laced with anthrax were mailed to a number of people and institutions with lethal effect. (Use the search function on this website to flesh out your understanding of those attacks. The evidence suggests very strongly that they are Underground Reich.)

    Recently,we have also had some ricing letters sent to various people, including Obama.

    It would be surprising if the Post Office were NOT using high tech means to log addresses.

    You can bet that if (and when?) more deadly letters start arriving, the victims will scream bloody murder.

    “Why doesn’t somebody do something? This is outrageous! Where is the government?”

    Don’t be too surprised if this also accelerates the attack on the Postal Service, which the Nazi GOP seeks to privatize.

    I strongly suspect that this is an ongoing part of a coup d’etat against Obama.

    One of the goals, in my opinion, is to alienate so-called progressives–young people in particular–from the Democrats.

    That an outright Nazi like Ron Paul could be as successful a Pied Piper as he has proved to be is indicative.

    Get ready for the Nazified GOP coming to power in 2016, perhaps gaining enough congressional and senate seats in 2014 to tie up whatever Obama may be able to do.

    Say good bye to Medicare and Social Security–both will be submerged incrementally, so as to not attract too much attention.

    The (by then) Koch brothers’ dominated press won’t report the facts, but will hail this as “real progress.”

    The old and/or poor folks who die won’t be able to vote against the GOP. Neither will the minorities who will be excluded by recent Supreme Court decisions.

    The budget will be slashed, leading to massive unemployment, because, as Paul Krugman says “My spending is your income.”

    You can also bet that before the public can vote those bastards out of office, something horrible will happen–major terrorist incident, dwarfing 9/11 in scale and casualties, or perhaps using Tesla technology/HAARP to trigger the big one in California.

    That will be blamed on Obama and we will all be called on to “pull together and sacrifice in this time of crisis.”

    The economy–or what’s left of it–will tank.

    If the “economic NATO” that is the U.S./EU “Free Trade Agreement” has not already been passed, you can bet that it will be at that point, because “we’ve GOT to do something about the economy!”

    Long term, this will work to the advantage of Germany, not us.

    Whatever slivers of the New Deal are left at that point will be judicially evaporated by the Federal judicial appointments made by President Rand Paul or President Paul Ryan.

    The bottom line for this country: Americans mistake their love of comfort for love of freedom.



    Posted by Dave Emory | July 4, 2013, 5:56 pm
  23. ’bout what we expected…

    German intelligence service is as bad as the NSA

    There has been much criticism of the US agency in Germany, but surveillance laws in both countries fail to protect internet privacy



    In recent weeks there has been much criticism of the US National Security Agency. It spies on people indiscriminately – even the citizens of its European allies – goes the furious and clearly justified accusation. Politicians in Germany and the EU have repeatedly criticised the US. Yet it seems they themselves are sitting in a rather large glass house.

    The German intelligence service – the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) – to name an example close to home, does exactly the same thing as the NSA abroad and it does so within a similar legal framework. “The differences between the BND and the NSA are much smaller than is generally accepted by the public,” write Stefan Heumann and Ben Scott in their study on the legal foundations of internet surveillance programmes in the US, the UK and Germany.

    Heumann works at the German thinktank Neue Verantwortung (New Responsibility), Scott was an adviser to the former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton and is now a policy adviser at the Open Technology Institute, part of the New America Foundation thinktank. In their study, the analysts compared the legal foundations, focus and parliamentary oversight of spying programmes in three countries.

    Their findings: the NSA runs the biggest spying programme and has the advantage that its targets – the internet providers – are mainly based in the US. Yet at its core the NSA’s surveillance is no different from that of the British GCHQ and the BND in Germany. The underlying laws have the same structure, write Heumann and Scott, even if “their interpretation can differ”.
    Heumann summarises:

    “In the United States, Britain and Germany, most of the legal foundations for surveillance measures by intelligence agencies date from a time when the internet played a subsidiary role in communications. The laws are formulated for the most part so broadly that they leave the intelligence services a lot of scope to interpret their mandates. How exactly the intelligence agencies interpret their powers is often classified information, and as such is not understandable for the public.”

    Technological development has meant it is now possible to mount surveillance on many things. Given that when filtering internet data in real time it is rarely possible to differentiate immediately between domestic and foreign communications, everything is recorded first and only then sorted into data that can be evaluated and that which cannot. “In other words: every communication on the internet which could be of significance for intelligence is stored and shared, regardless of which legal regulations apply to control the collection of this data,” write the authors.

    Posted by Swamp | October 6, 2013, 9:15 am
  24. http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Articles/2013/10/08/2-Billion-NSA-Spy-Center-Going-Flames

    $2 Billion NSA Spy Center is Going Up in Flames
    Brianna Ehley
    The Fiscal Times
    October 8, 2013

    The National Security Agency’s $2 billion mega spy center is going up in flames.

    Technical glitches have sparked fiery explosions within the NSA’s newest and largest data storage facility in Utah, destroying hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of equipment, and delaying the facility’s opening by one year.

    And no one seems to know how to fix it.

    For a country that prides itself on being a technology leader, not knowing the electrical capacity requirements for a system as large as this is inexcusable.

    Within the last 13 months, at least 10 electric surges have each cost about $100,000 in damages, according to documents obtained by the Wall Street Journal. Experts agree that the system, which requires about 64 megawatts of electricity—that’s about a $1 million a month energy bill–isn’t able to run all of its computers and servers while keeping them cool, which is likely triggering the meltdowns.

    The contractor that designed the flawed system—Pennsylvania-based Klingstubbins–said in a statement that it has “uncovered the issue” and is working on “implementing a permanent fix.”

    But that’s not the case, according to the Army Corps of Engineers (ACE), which is in charge of overseeing the data center’s construction. ACE disagreed with the contractor and said the meltdowns are “not yet sufficiently understood.”

    A report by ACE in the Wall Street Journal said the government has incomplete information about the design of the electrical system that could pose new problems if settings need to change on circuit breakers. The report also said regular quality controls in design and construction were bypassed in an effort to “fast track” the project.

    The facility—named the Utah Data Center—is the largest of several new NSA data centers central to the agency’s massive surveillance program that was exposed by former NSA contractor turned leaker Edward Snowden earlier this year.

    Communications from all around the world in the form of emails, cell phone calls and Google searches, among other digital details are stored in the center’s databases, which are said to be larger than Google’s biggest data center. But due to the major system meltdowns, the NSA hasn’t been able to use the center’s databases, which it has claimed are crucial for national security.

    Posted by Vanfield | October 10, 2013, 10:40 am
  25. People will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.
    – Aldo Huxley

    Private Donors Supply Spy Gear

    There was a quicker, quieter way to get the software: as a gift from the Los Angeles Police Foundation, a private charity. In November 2007, at the behest of then Police Chief William Bratton, the foundation approached Target Corp., which contributed $200,000 to buy the software, said the foundation’s executive director, Cecilia Glassman, in an interview. Then the foundation donated it to the police department.

    The LAPD could have spent its own money on Palantir’s software, but that would have required public meetings, city council approval and possibly even competitive bidding. Instead, the L.A. Police Foundation, a private charity, asked Target Corp. to donate $200,000

    Posted by Hal Aux | November 25, 2014, 7:29 pm

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