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Snowden’s Ride, Part 4: The Underground Reich and U.S. Internet, Media Business

[1]

Dave Emory’s entire life­time of work is avail­able on a flash dri­ve that can be obtained here. [2] (The flash dri­ve includes the anti-fas­cist books avail­able on this site.)

COMMENT: We’ve cov­ered Eddie “The Friend­ly Spook” Snow­den’s exploits in numer­ous pre­vi­ous posts: Part I [3]Part II [4]Part III [5]Part IV [6]Part V [7]Part VI [8]Part VII [9], Part VIII [10]Part IX [11], Part X [12].) Users of this web­site are emphat­i­cal­ly encour­aged to exam­ine these posts in detail, as it is impos­si­ble to do jus­tice to the argu­ments in those arti­cles in the scope of this post.

Suf­fice it to say, for our pur­pos­es here, that Snow­den’s activ­i­ties are–quite obviously–an intel­li­gence oper­a­tion direct­ed at Barack Oba­ma’s admin­is­tra­tion at one lev­el and the Unit­ed States and U.K. at anoth­er.

We note that the indi­vid­u­als and insti­tu­tions involved with Snow­den, as well as Fast Eddie him­self, track back to the far right and ele­ments and indi­vid­u­als involved with the Under­ground Reich. [13] Again, PLEASE exam­ine the pre­vi­ous posts on the sub­ject, as there is no way to flesh out this line of inquiry in this post. 

[14]

Peter Thiel

We have not­ed that Fast Eddie may be dou­bling for BND or some oth­er ele­ment of Ger­man intel­li­gence, pos­si­bly hav­ing been recruit­ed when post­ed by CIA to Gene­va, Switzer­land. Snow­den may also be act­ing at the instruc­tion of ele­ments in U.S.–perhaps Michael Mor­rell, per­haps an Under­ground Reich fac­tion of NSA, per­haps ele­ments from the Peter Thiel milieu (more about that below.)

A pos­si­bil­i­ty that bears exam­i­na­tion in the con­text of Ger­man and/or Under­ground Reich eco­nom­ic war­fare against the U.S. involves L’Af­faire Snow­den as a gam­bit to under­mine Amer­i­can inter­net dom­i­nance. In that con­text, we offer the fol­low­ing thoughts:

Shun U.S. Web Ser­vices, Top Ger­man Min­is­ter Urges Pri­va­cy-Mind­ed Cit­i­zens” by David Mey­er; Gigaom; 7/3/2013. [15]

EXCERPT: Germany’s inte­ri­or min­is­ter has sug­gest­ed that peo­ple should stop using Google and Face­book if they fear inter­cep­tion by U.S. spies.

Accord­ing to the AP, Hans-Peter Friedrich said on Wednes­day that “who­ev­er fears their com­mu­ni­ca­tion is being inter­cept­ed in any way should use ser­vices that don’t go through Amer­i­can servers.” His call comes in the wake of Edward Snowden’s PRISM rev­e­la­tions, which showed how the NSA can eas­i­ly access even sup­pos­ed­ly pri­vate data on U.S. cloud ser­vices, at mass scale.

Friedrich is one of the first senior Euro­pean politi­cians to explic­it­ly urge pri­va­cy-mind­ed cit­i­zens to avoid using U.S. ser­vices, although EU Dig­i­tal Agen­da Com­mis­sion­er Neel­ie Kroes said a cou­ple of weeks ago that “the PRISM debate will def­i­nite­ly increase calls for a Euro­pean cloud, with a range of pos­si­ble con­se­quences for Amer­i­can com­pa­nies.”

How­ev­er, shun­ning Google and Face­book may not be a cure-all for keep­ing pri­vate com­mu­ni­ca­tions pri­vate. Snow­den also exposed a British pro­gram called Tem­po­ra, which alleged­ly involves the tap­ping of the fiber-optic cables that con­sti­tute the back­bone of the inter­net – if that is the case, then all com­mu­ni­ca­tions may be inter­cept­ed, regard­less of where the ser­vice provider is locat­ed.

Ger­man data pro­tec­tion offi­cials have urged the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment to “do every­thing to pro­tect the peo­ple in Ger­many against access to their data by third par­ties,” and have also called for expla­na­tions around how much the Ger­man gov­ern­ment knew about PRISM and Tem­po­ra before the scan­dal broke. . . .

“Spy­ing Ques­tions Emerge over Frankfurt’s Data Hub” by Chris Bryant;  The Finan­cial Times; 7/4/2013. [16]

EXCERPT: Adja­cent to the riv­er Main docks in the east of Frank­furt, not far from where the new head­quar­ters of the Euro­pean Cen­tral Bank are near­ing com­ple­tion, inter­net traf­fic from around the globe con­verges at an exchange.

In an unas­sum­ing ware­house ringed by 4m-high fences and secu­rity cam­eras, data hops from one net­work to anoth­er via switch­ing points con­tained in large cab­i­nets full of blink­ing LED lights and yel­low fibre optic cables.

The process is not unlike the way air­lines use near­by Frank­furt air­port so their pas­sen­gers can change air­craft.

Thanks to Frankfurt’s geo­graph­i­cal posi­tion link­ing east and west and the pres­ence of a large finan­cial cen­tre, more inter­net data pass­es through the Frank­furt DE-CIX exchange each day than at any oth­er switch­ing point in the world; some 2.5 ter­abits per sec­ond at peak times.

This is even more than rival inter­net exchanges in Lon­don and Ams­ter­dam. Par­ti­san Ger­man media there­fore pro­claim Frank­furt the “glob­al cap­i­tal of the inter­net”.

But this week Der Spiegel mag­a­zine obtained doc­u­ments from Edward Snow­den, the intel­li­gence con­trac­tor turned whistle­blower, which sug­gested the US Nation­al Secu­rity Agency has gained access to the Frank­furt hub’s gar­gan­tuan data stream. The mag­a­zine did not say how the NSA had achieved this.

Insid­ers con­firmed to Spiegel that the NSA’s inter­est is in the traf­fic that arrives at Frank­furt and oth­er exchanges in south­ern Ger­many from east­ern Europe and Rus­sia, as well as the Mid­dle East.

The mag­a­zine report­ed that since Decem­ber the NSA has obtained around 500m com­mu­ni­ca­tions meta­data a month from Ger­many as part of its Bound­less Infor­mant spy­ing pro­gramme, far more than it obtained in France or Italy.

Amid sim­i­lar claims that Britain’s GCHQ spy agency is also har­vest­ing data from sub­sea fibre optic cables these reports sug­gest the phys­i­cal infra­struc­ture that makes up the inter­net is a high-val­ue tar­get for glob­al intel­li­gence agen­cies.

Frankfurt’s huge inter­net hub like­ly explains why on an NSA “heat map” obtained by the Guardian news­pa­per, Ger­many is the only Euro­pean coun­try marked yel­low – indi­cat­ing a high lev­el of sur­veil­lance.

Although Ger­many and the US co-oper­ate exten­sively on intel­li­gence mat­ters, the part­ner­ship is not as deep as that between the US and UK. Ger­many is clas­si­fied by the US as a “third-class” part­ner and there­fore sub­ject to pos­si­ble sur­veil­lance.

Hans-Peter Friedrich, Ger­man inte­rior min­is­ter, said Ger­man author­i­ties had found no evi­dence of NSA sur­veil­lance at the Frank­furt site. Still, he added: “If a for­eign intel­li­gence ser­vice were to tap inter­net nodes in Frank­furt it would be a vio­la­tion of our sov­er­eign­ty.”

Ger­man busi­ness is also alarmed about the pos­si­bil­ity that the country’s trea­sured indus­trial secrets could find their way into US hands. [Infor­ma­tion about the Bor­mann cap­i­tal net­work [17], possibly?–D.E.]

Ste­fan Mair, at the Fed­er­a­tion of Ger­man Indus­try (BDI), said media reports about US sur­veil­lance were “con­cern­ing” but “at the moment we don’t know to what degree Ger­man com­pa­nies are affect­ed by the NSA activ­i­ties”.

US Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma tried to allay some of these fears in a call with Angela Merkel, the Ger­man chan­cel­lor, on Wednes­day say­ing he “takes seri­ously the con­cerns of our Euro­pean allies and part­ners”. For her part, the Ger­man chan­cel­lor con­ceded ear­lier this week that har­ness­ing online intel­li­gence is impor­tant in the fight against ter­ror­ism.

Indeed, the BND, Germany’s for­eign intel­li­gence agency, is per­mit­ted by law to sieve through up to 20 per cent of the country’s inter­na­tional com­mu­ni­ca­tions. It does this by search­ing for hun­dreds of sus­pi­cious terms relat­ed to the traf­fick­ing of drugs, arms and peo­ple, mon­ey laun­der­ing and ter­ror­ism.

How­ever, due to tech­ni­cal and finan­cial lim­i­ta­tions Ger­many cur­rently scans about 5 per cent of the inter­net traf­fic cross­ing its ter­ri­tory, gov­ern­ment offi­cials say.

It is not known if the BND has installed mon­i­tor­ing equip­ment at the Frank­furt exchange and Ger­man law pro­hibits the exchange’s oper­a­tors from com­ment­ing on the mat­ter.

But the own­ers and oper­a­tors of DE-CIX are allowed to talk about for­eign intel­li­gence ser­vices and they are adamant that the NSA and oth­ers are not tap­ping its exchange. “If a for­eign intel­li­gence agency was har­vest­ing data from our exchange then we would know about it,” says Arnold Nip­per, founder and chief tech­nol­ogy offi­cer. “Our tech­ni­cians are on site every day; if some­one put in a cable we would see.”

Andrew Blum, author of Tubes, a book about the infra­struc­ture of the inter­net, is also puz­zled by the Spiegel claims. “Say­ing the NSA is tap­ping all of DE-CIX is like say­ing the FBI is some­how search­ing every sin­gle pas­sen­ger that pass­es through Frank­furt airport?.?.?.?Having seen the place up close I’m very scep­ti­cal of the notion of whole­sale tap­ping,” he says.

That is because a spy agency would have to pen­e­trate not one, but hun­dreds of fibre optic cables at mul­ti­ple sites. In addi­tion, a big chunk of traf­fic is exchanged not via the Frank­furt hub but bilat­er­ally between tech com­pa­nies which rent data cen­tre space near the node, in a process known as peer­ing. Seiz­ing all of this would be a mam­moth and con­spic­u­ous task, Mr Nip­per of DE-CIX says. . . .

“Report: U.S. Spy­ing Eyes Ener­gy Info in Latin Amer­ica” [AP]; USA Today; 7/9/2013. [18]

EXCERPT: A U.S. spy pro­gram is wide­ly tar­get­ing data in emails and tele­phone calls across Latin Amer­ica, and is focus­ing on ener­gy issues, not just infor­ma­tion relat­ed to mil­i­tary, polit­i­cal or ter­ror top­ics, a Brazil­ian news­pa­per report­ed Tues­day.

The O Globo news­pa­per said it has access to some of the doc­u­ments released by Nation­al Secu­rity Agency leak­er Edward Snow­den. The Amer­i­can jour­nal­ist who obtained the clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion from Snow­den lives in Brazil and is help­ing write sto­ries for the dai­ly.

O Globo pub­lished what it said are slides that Snow­den released indi­cat­ing the U.S. effort is gath­er­ing infor­ma­tion on ener­gy in Mex­ico and oil in Venezuela. There was no infor­ma­tion released about what infor­ma­tion was obtained, nor any com­pa­nies that were tar­get­ed.

The report also said that Colom­bia, the strongest U.S. mil­i­tary ally in South Amer­ica, along with Mex­ico and Brazil, were the coun­tries where the U.S. pro­gram inter­cepted the biggest chunks of infor­ma­tion on emails and tele­phone calls dur­ing the last five years. Sim­i­lar activ­i­ties took place in Argenti­na and Ecuador, among oth­ers.

Fig­ures weren’t pub­lished on how many inter­cepts occurred.

O Globo also report­ed that the doc­u­ments it’s seen indi­cate the U.S. had data col­lec­tion cen­ters in 2002 for mate­r­ial inter­cepted from satel­lites in Bogo­ta, Cara­cas, Mex­ico City and Pana­ma City, along with Brasil­ia. There was no infor­ma­tion pub­lished about the exis­tence of these cen­ters after 2002.

Snowden’s dis­clo­sures indi­cate that the NSA wide­ly col­lects phone and Inter­net “meta­data” — logs of mes­sage times, address­es and oth­er infor­ma­tion rather than the con­tent of the mes­sages. The doc­u­ments have indi­cated that the NSA has been col­lect­ing the phone records of hun­dreds of mil­lions of U.S. phone cus­tomers, and has gath­ered data on phone and Inter­net usage out­side the U.S., includ­ing those peo­ple who use any of nine U.S.-based inter­net providers such as Google.

Ear­lier, O Globo report­ed that in Brazil, the NSA col­lected data through an asso­ci­a­tion between U.S. and Brazil­ian telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions com­pa­nies. It said it could not ver­ify which Brazil­ian com­pa­nies were involved or if they were even aware their links were being used to col­lect the data.

The Brazil­ian gov­ern­ment is inves­ti­gat­ing the alleged links with telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions firms with a Brazil pres­ence. . . .

“Yahoo Wants Files Unsealed” by Bran­don Bai­ley; San Jose Mer­cury News; 7/11/2013. [19]

EXCERPT: In a rare legal move, Yahoo is ask­ing a secre­tive U.S. sur­veil­lance court to let the pub­lic see its argu­ments in a 2008 case that played an impor­tant role in per­suad­ing tech com­pa­nies to coop­er­ate with a con­tro­ver­sial gov­ern­ment data-gath­er­ing effort.
Releas­ing those files would demon­strate that Yahoo “object­ed stren­u­ous­ly” to gov­ern­ment demands for cus­tomers’ infor­ma­tion and would also help the pub­lic under­stand how sur­veil­lance pro­grams are approved under fed­er­al law, the com­pa­ny argued in a fil­ing with the For­eign Intel­li­gence Sur­veil­lance Court this week. . . .

 “Sheryl Sand­berg Switched From Crashed Asiana Air­lines Flight” by Gillian Mohney; ABC News; 7/6/2013. [20]

EXCERPT: Face­book exec­u­tive Sheryl Sand­berg was sched­uled to be on the Asiana Air­lines flight that crash land­ed at San Fran­cis­co Inter­na­tion­al Air­port today but changed her plans at the last minute.

Sand­berg, author of the best-sell­ing “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead,” post­ed a note on her Face­book wall explain­ing that she was “tak­ing a minute to be thank­ful” after hear­ing that the flight had crashed.

“[We] were orig­i­nal­ly going to take the Asiana flight that just crash-land­ed,” Sand­berg wrote. “We switched to Unit­ed so we could use miles for my family’s tick­ets.” . . . .