Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

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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. http://wikileaks.org/wiki/German_intelligence_scrubs_European_records_after_Wikileaks_exposureNot 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 Peter 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:

https://docs.palantir.com/metropolisdev/prism-overview.html

https://docs.palantir.com/metropolisdev/prism-examples.html

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.

 

Discussion

24 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:

    Forbes
    Startup Palan­tir Denies Its ‘Prism’ Soft­ware Is The NSA’s ‘PRISM’ Sur­veil­lance Sys­tem
    Andy Green­berg, Forbes Staff
    Secu­rity
    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:

    Techdirt
    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.

    Cheers,

    Dave

    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.

    Best,

    Dave

    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.

    Best,

    Dave

    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.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/07/business/media/anti-surveillance-activist-is-at-center-of-new-leak.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20130607&_r=0

    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.

    http://www.cato.org/blog/hat-tip-glenn-greenwald

    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,

    Dave

    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.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/04/us/monitoring-of-snail-mail.html?pagewanted=1&_r=3&pagewanted=all&&pagewanted=print

    ——————————————————————————–

    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.

    Best,

    Dave

    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

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/oct/04/german-intelligency-service-nsa-internet-laws

    (Excerpts)

    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

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