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“U-2, Brut?”: Baby Face Snowden and the Destabilization of Obama

NSA Sur­veil­lance Map, leaked by Snow­den prior to Obama’s meet­ing with Merkel.

Baby Face Snowden’s can­di­date of choice

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: In the 1930’s, there was a famous Amer­i­can crim­i­nal named Baby Face Nel­son. In the sec­ond decade of this cen­tury, we are wit­ness­ing the activ­i­ties of another Amer­i­can crim­i­nal of youth­ful visage–Edward J. Snow­den. A career spook, Snow­den has, of course, been the source for dis­clo­sures about NSA spy­ing on indi­vid­u­als and institutions.

Pre­vi­ously, we noted that Ron Paul backer Snowden decamped to Hong Kong and leaked infor­ma­tion about U.S. hack­ing of Chi­nese com­put­ers just as Pres­i­dent Obama was meet­ing with the Chi­nese prime min­is­ter Xi, embar­rass­ing the Pres­i­dent at a sen­si­tive time.

(Users of this web­site are emphat­i­cally encour­aged to exam­ine in detail the pre­vi­ous, above-linked posts on this sub­ject.)

Now, Snow­den has fol­lowed up his Chi­nese “op” by leak­ing infor­ma­tion about NSA spy­ing on EU mem­bers. The most “spied-upon” EU mem­ber state is–unsurprisingly–Germany. The lat­est dis­clo­sure comes as Obama was prepar­ing to meet with Angela Merkel of Ger­many.

The tim­ing of this, on top of the “remark­able coin­ci­dence” of Snow­den show­ing up in Hong Kong and leak­ing embar­rass­ing infor­ma­tion as Obama is meet­ing with Xi, is more than even the most cred­u­lous should believe.

As noted in a pre­vi­ous post, this inci­dent strikes us as being remark­ably sim­i­lar to the down­ing of a U-2 spy plane prior to the Eisenhower/Kruschev sum­mit. In The Guns of Novem­ber, Part I, we exam­ined infor­ma­tion from Colonel L. Fletcher Prouty indi­cat­ing that the U-2 had been delib­er­ately sab­o­taged by CIA hard­lin­ers to frus­trate attempts at improv­ing U.S./Soviet rela­tions. The leak­ing of the infor­ma­tion to down the U-2 was blamed on none other than Lee Har­vey Oswald!

“Snowden’s Ride”, to coin a term, has all the ear­marks of an intel­li­gence oper­a­tion, like the U-2 gam­bit. Cen­tral to this is Thiel’s Palan­tir firm, almost cer­tainly the devel­oper of the PRISM func­tion. As dis­cussed in our last post, the notion that there would be two Sil­i­con Val­ley soft­ware func­tions with iden­ti­cal names used by NSA/intelligence com­mu­nity is not cred­i­ble. There would have been litigation.

Also as noted in our last post, we won­der what role may have been played in this by Michael J. Mor­rell, who brief Dubya on intel­li­gence mat­ters and who was at his side on 9/11. Note that Snow­den also worked for CIA, as well as NSA. That “the Com­pany” may be scor­ing points against a rival agency is also to be considered.

It should come as no sur­prise that the NSA would tar­get Ger­many as a “hot spot” for elec­tronic sur­veil­lance. An overview of the most impor­tant ter­ror­ist inci­dents affect­ing the United States over the last quar­ter of a cen­tury reveals impor­tant evi­den­tiary trib­u­taries lead­ing to Germany:

  • The bomb­ing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Locker­bie, Scot­land, in 1988 was exe­cuted in Ger­many. The bomb was placed aboard the plane in Ger­many and the bombers were heav­ily infil­trated by Ger­man intel­li­gence. One or more of the cell of bombers was a Ger­man intel­li­gence operative. 
  • The financ­ing for the first World Trade Cen­ter bomb­ing in 1993 came from oper­a­tives in Germany.
  • The actual mas­ter­mind of the Okla­homa City bomb­ing, accord­ing to ATF infor­mant Carol Howe, was Andreas Strass­meir. Strass­meir was a “for­mer” Bun­deswehr offi­cer and the son of Chan­cel­lor Hel­mut Kohl’s chief of staff. Andreas’ grand­fa­ther was one of the char­ter mem­bers of the NSDAP under Hitler. The resem­blance between Strass­meir and “John Doe #2″ is striking.
  • Not only did the 9/11 hijack con­spir­a­tors coa­lesce in Ham­burg, but there is strong evi­dence that Ger­man intel­li­gence was involved with the attack. Many of hijacker Mohamed Atta’s asso­ciates in South Florida were Ger­mans. Atta was moved around under the cover of the Carl Duis­berg Soci­ety (Gesellschaft). (See text excerpts below.) In Florida, he was asso­ci­at­ing with the sons and daugh­ters of promi­nent Ger­man indus­tri­al­ists. (See text excerpts below.) Of inter­est, also, is the fact that CIA pilots appar­ently made a “run” to the Bor­mann ranch. (See text excerpts below.) This sounds like a reg­u­lar route. In our con­ver­sa­tions with Daniel Hop­sicker, we have noted that the South Florida avi­a­tion milieu had been a focal point of covert oper­a­tions for decades, dat­ing back to the Sec­ond World War. The Bor­mann ranch was in the three-borders area high­lighted in FTR #457. Did the Ger­man asso­ciates of Mohamed Atta come up the other end of that pipeline?
  • The “vac­uum cleaner” activ­i­ties of NSA/GCHQ have been known for a long time–we have done pro­grams about it dat­ing back many years. The for­mal, pub­lic attack on the ECHELON net­work began in 1998. That attack came from Ger­many and Under­ground Reich-associated ele­ments such as the Free Con­gress Foundation. 
  • In August of 1998, sev­eral things hap­pened almost simultaneously–as the German/EU/Free Con­gress Foundation/Underground Reich attack on ECHELON/Menwith Hill was gain­ing momen­tum, Osama bin Laden stopped using his cell phone and began using couri­ers for impor­tant com­mu­ni­ca­tion. At this time, Ger­man intel­li­gence had the Ham­burg cell (of 9/11 hijack­ers) under elec­tronic sur­veil­lance. Ger­man intel­li­gence did NOT alert the United States.

“NSA Map Shows Ger­many Most Spied-on of EU Mem­bers”; UPI.com; 6/10/2013.

EXCERPT: While the United States spies on all Euro­pean Union nations, it spies on Ger­many the most, say papers sup­plied by a for­mer employee of the top U.S. spy agency.

The rank­ings of what EU nations are snooped on, and how much, can be seen in a color-coded map of covert National Secu­rity Agency sur­veil­lance activ­i­ties, EUObserver.com reported Monday.

Nations sub­ject to the least spy­ing activ­i­ties are shaded green; those with the most red.

All EU mem­bers are var­i­ous shades of green on the map. Ger­many is orange.

The map, called Bound­less Infor­mant, is among doc­u­ments released by Edward Snow­den, a for­mer CIA employee and NSA con­trac­tor who says he is the per­son who this month leaked infor­ma­tion about the U.S. meta­data col­lec­tion pro­gram known as PRISM. . . .

“His­tory of the Carl Duis­berg Society”

EXCERPT: In the 1920’s, Carl Duis­berg, Gen­eral Direc­tor of Bayer AG in Ger­many, envi­sioned send­ing Ger­man stu­dents to the United States on work-study pro­grams. Duis­berg was con­vinced that inter­na­tional prac­ti­cal train­ing was crit­i­cal to the growth of Ger­man indus­try. Many of the return­ing trainees later rose to promi­nent posi­tions at AEG, Bayer, Bosch, Daim­ler Benz, and Siemens, bring­ing with them new meth­ods for mass pro­duc­tion, new ideas, and new busi­ness prac­tices. Fol­low­ing World War II, alumni from the first exchanges founded the Carl Duis­berg Gesellschaft (CDG) in 1949 to help engi­neers, busi­ness­men and farm­ers gain inter­na­tional work expe­ri­ence nec­es­sary for the rebuild­ing of Germany . . . .

Excerpt from the Descrip­tion for FTR #484

. . . . Daniel also notes that some of Atta’s Ger­man asso­ciates in Florida were sons and daugh­ters of promi­nent Ger­man indus­tri­al­ists. . . .

Mar­tin Bor­mann: Nazi in Exile by Paul Man­ning; p. 292.

EXCERPT: . . . A for­mer CIA con­tract pilot, who once flew the run into Paraguay and Argentina to the Bor­mann ranch described the estate as remote, ‘worth your life unless you entered their air space with the right iden­ti­fi­ca­tion codes. . . .


8 comments for ““U-2, Brut?”: Baby Face Snowden and the Destabilization of Obama”

  1. Here’s a story that fall under the cat­e­gory of “who watches the watchers...or at least gives the watch­ers secu­rity clear­ances?”. Part of the answer appears to be “some ran­dom mas­sive con­trac­tor with eth­i­cal issues that hap­pens to be owned by the same own­ers of Booz Allen Hamil­ton and that’s been under inves­ti­ga­tion since 2011″:

    Watch­dog says con­trac­tor that per­formed back­ground check of NSA leaker under inves­ti­ga­tion
    By Asso­ci­ated Press, Updated: Thurs­day, June 20, 9:04 PM

    WASHINGTON — A gov­ern­ment watch­dog tes­ti­fied Thurs­day there may have been prob­lems with a secu­rity clear­ance back­ground check con­ducted on the 29-year-old fed­eral con­trac­tor who dis­closed pre­vi­ously secret National Secu­rity Agency pro­grams for col­lect­ing phone records and Inter­net data — just as news media dis­closed more infor­ma­tion about those programs.

    Appear­ing at a Sen­ate hear­ing, Patrick McFar­land, the U.S. Office of Per­son­nel Management’s inspec­tor gen­eral, said USIS, the com­pany that con­ducted the back­ground inves­ti­ga­tion of for­mer NSA sys­tems ana­lyst Edward Snow­den, is now under inves­ti­ga­tion itself.

    McFar­land declined to say what trig­gered the inquiry of USIS or whether the probe is related to Snow­den. But when asked by Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., if there were any con­cerns about the USIS back­ground check on Snow­den, McFar­land answered: “Yes, we do believe that there may be some problems.”

    Mean­while, new details emerged about the scope of two recently dis­closed NSA pro­grams — one that gath­ers U.S. phone records and another that is designed to track the use of U.S.-based Inter­net servers by for­eign­ers with pos­si­ble links to terrorism.

    Two new doc­u­ments pub­lished Thurs­day by The Guardian news­pa­per — one labeled “top secret” and the other “secret” — said NSA can keep copies of inter­cepted com­mu­ni­ca­tions from or about U.S. cit­i­zens indef­i­nitely if the mate­r­ial con­tains sig­nif­i­cant intel­li­gence or evi­dence of crimes.

    McFar­land declined after the Sen­ate hear­ing to describe to reporters the type of inves­ti­ga­tion his office is con­duct­ing. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said she was told the inquiry is a crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tion related “to USIS’ sys­temic fail­ure to ade­quately con­duct inves­ti­ga­tions under its contract.”

    “We are lim­ited in what we can say about this inves­ti­ga­tion because it is an ongo­ing crim­i­nal mat­ter,” said McCaskill, chair­woman of the Sen­ate sub­com­mit­tee on finan­cial and con­tract­ing over­sight. “But it is a reminder that back­ground inves­ti­ga­tions can have real con­se­quences for our national security.”

    McCaskill’s panel con­ducted the hear­ing jointly with Tester’s sub­com­mit­tee on effi­ciency and effec­tive­ness of fed­eral programs.

    USIS, based in Falls Church, Va., said in a state­ment that it has never been informed that it is under crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tion. USIS received a sub­poena from the inspec­tor general’s office in Jan­u­ary 2012 for records, the state­ment said. “USIS com­plied with that sub­poena and has coop­er­ated fully with the government’s civil inves­tiga­tive efforts,” accord­ing to the company.

    USIS declined to com­ment on whether it con­ducted a back­ground inves­ti­ga­tion of Snow­den. The com­pany said it per­forms thou­sands of back­ground inves­ti­ga­tions each year for OPM and other gov­ern­ment agen­cies. “These inves­ti­ga­tions are con­fi­den­tial and USIS does not com­ment on them,” the USIS state­ment said.

    The back­ground check USIS per­formed on Snow­den was done in 2011 and was part of peri­odic rein­ves­ti­ga­tions that are required for employ­ees who hold secu­rity clear­ances, accord­ing to McFar­land and Michelle Schmitz, the assis­tant inspec­tor gen­eral for inves­ti­ga­tions at OPM.

    Schmitz said the inves­ti­ga­tion of USIS com­menced later in 2011.

    Booz Allen Hamil­ton, the com­pany where Snow­den was work­ing at the time of the dis­clo­sures, fired him for vio­la­tions of the firm’s code of ethics and firm pol­icy. The com­pany said he had been a Booz Allen employee for less than three months.

    Snow­den worked pre­vi­ously at the CIA and prob­a­bly obtained his secu­rity clear­ance there. But like oth­ers who leave the gov­ern­ment to join pri­vate con­trac­tors, he was able to keep his clear­ance after he left and began work­ing for out­side firms.

    Of the 4.9 mil­lion peo­ple with clear­ance to access “con­fi­den­tial and secret” gov­ern­ment infor­ma­tion, 1.1 mil­lion, or 21 per­cent, work for out­side con­trac­tors, accord­ing to a Jan­u­ary report from the Office of the Direc­tor of National Intel­li­gence. Of the 1.4 mil­lion who have the higher “top secret” access, 483,000, or 34 per­cent, work for contractors.

    OPM’s Fed­eral Inves­tiga­tive Ser­vices divi­sion per­forms almost all the back­ground inves­ti­ga­tions for fed­eral agen­cies and nearly 75 per­cent of the inves­ti­ga­tors who per­form back­ground checks are con­trac­tors, accord­ing to infor­ma­tion on the agency’s website.

    At the hear­ing, McFar­land called for much closer over­sight of the inves­ti­ga­tors who con­duct back­ground checks. He said that 18 back­ground inves­ti­ga­tors and record searchers have been crim­i­nally con­victed since 2006 for fab­ri­cat­ing infor­ma­tion in back­ground reports.

    McFarland’s office is actively work­ing on 11 fab­ri­ca­tion cases and another 36 cases involv­ing back­ground inves­ti­ga­tors are pend­ing, accord­ing to data he pro­vided to the subcommittees.

    Of the 18 inves­ti­ga­tors who were crim­i­nally con­victed, 11 were fed­eral employ­ees and seven were con­trac­tors. Of the 47 active and pend­ing cases, six involve fed­eral employ­ees and 41 involve con­trac­tors, accord­ing to McFarland.

    The new doc­u­ments revealed by The Guardian were signed by Attor­ney Gen­eral Eric Holder. They include point-by-point direc­tions on how an NSA employee must work to deter­mine that a per­son being tar­geted has not entered the United States. If NSA finds the tar­get has entered the U.S., it will stop gath­er­ing phone and Inter­net data imme­di­ately, the doc­u­ments say.


    Inter­est­ingly, even though Snow­den passed his back­ground check in 2011 and was an ex-CIA employee, Booz Allen Hamil­ton report­edly had reserves about him. It’s unclear what dis­crep­an­cies they found on his resume, but some­thing about his edu­ca­tional claims report­edly did not add up:

    Exclu­sive: NSA con­trac­tor hired Snow­den despite con­cerns about resume discrepancies

    By Mark Hosenball

    WASHINGTON | Thu Jun 20, 2013 8:52pm EDT

    (Reuters) — Hir­ing screen­ers at Booz Allen Hamil­ton, a con­trac­tor for the National Secu­rity Agency, found pos­si­ble dis­crep­an­cies in a resume sub­mit­ted by Edward Snow­den, but the com­pany still employed him, a source with detailed knowl­edge of the mat­ter said on Thursday.

    Snow­den, who dis­closed top secret doc­u­ments about U.S. sur­veil­lance of tele­phone and Inter­net data after leav­ing his job as a sys­tems admin­is­tra­tor at an NSA facil­ity in Hawaii, was hired this spring after he con­vinced his screen­ers that his descrip­tion of his edu­ca­tion was truth­ful, said the source, who is not autho­rized to speak pub­licly about the mat­ter.

    It is unclear pre­cisely which ele­ment of Snowden’s resume caused per­son­nel offi­cials at Booz Allen Hamil­ton to raise ques­tions about his back­ground. Also unclear is how he sat­is­fied their concerns.

    Before he was hired by Booz Allen Hamil­ton, Snow­den also was screened by USIS, a Virginia-based inves­ti­ga­tions firm hired sep­a­rately by the U.S. gov­ern­ment to con­duct back­ground checks on prospec­tive employ­ees and con­trac­tors. Based on reports from firms such as USIS, the NSA decides whether a poten­tial con­tract worker gets a secu­rity clearance.

    Dur­ing the hear­ing, Sen­a­tor John Tester of Mon­tana asked U.S. gov­ern­ment per­son­nel offi­cials whether they had “any con­cerns that Mr. Snowden’s back­ground inves­ti­ga­tion by USIS ... may not have been car­ried out in an appro­pri­ate or thor­ough manner.”

    “Yes, we do believe that there — there may be some prob­lems,” said Patrick McFar­land, inspec­tor gen­eral of the U.S. Office of Per­son­nel Man­age­ment. McFar­land did not elaborate.



    Accord­ing to sources famil­iar with the mat­ter, Snow­den, a high school dropout who later passed the high school equiv­a­lency test known as the GED, stated on his resume ear­lier this year he attended computer-related classes at Johns Hop­kins Uni­ver­sity, a Tokyo cam­pus of the Uni­ver­sity of Mary­land and the Uni­ver­sity of Liv­er­pool in Britain.

    Accord­ing to the sources, the resume stated that Snow­den “esti­mated” he would receive a master’s degree in com­puter secu­rity from Liv­er­pool some­time this year.

    Some of the edu­ca­tional infor­ma­tion listed on the resume did not check out pre­cisely, said the sources, who are not autho­rized to com­ment publicly.

    Despite that, Booz Allen Hamil­ton hired him at an annual salary of $122,000 to work as a con­trac­tor for the NSA in Hawaii. Snow­den had been on the job there for about four weeks when he trav­eled to Hong Kong last month and leaked the U.S. gov­ern­ment secrets that made him known around the world.

    Tracey Reeves, a spokes­woman for Johns Hop­kins, said that the uni­ver­sity could find no record that Snow­den had taken classes there.

    She added that Snow­den might have taken voca­tional train­ing courses from a pri­vate, for-profit entity called Advanced Career Tech­nolo­gies, which oper­ated under the name Com­puter Career Insti­tute at Johns Hop­kins. Reeves said Johns Hop­kins ended its rela­tion­ship with the com­pany in 2009, and that the com­pany appears to have shut down in 2012.

    A spokesman for Uni­ver­sity of Maryland’s Uni­ver­sity Col­lege divi­sion said that records showed that Snow­den did attend, in per­son, a sum­mer ses­sion at a cam­pus that the col­lege oper­ates in Asia. He declined to spec­ify the loca­tion or pro­vide any infor­ma­tion about Snowden’s course work.

    A spokes­woman for the Uni­ver­sity of Liv­er­pool said in an email that Snow­den had reg­is­tered for an online master’s pro­gram in com­puter secu­rity in 2011. But she added that “he is not active in his stud­ies and has not com­pleted the program.”

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 20, 2013, 8:24 pm
  2. @Pterrafractyl–

    Good find. This doesn’t surprise.

    I noted in my sec­ond post on this sub­ject that Snow­den didn’t grad­u­ate from high school.

    A high school diploma is manda­tory for being a national secu­rity contractor.

    I don’t know about a GED.

    In any event, this pos­i­tively reeks of a spook operation.

    Not that the dumb-ass media are likely to fig­ure it out.

    I wouldn’t count on the blo­gos­phere either. Most of them are super­fi­cial and, like main­stream jour­nal­ists, func­tion like a flock of birds.

    When one lands, they all land and when one flies away, they all fly away.

    They never seem to have fig­ured out Assange, whose pro­found asso­ci­a­tion with Holocaust-denier Joran Jer­mas (aka “Israel Shamir”) was instru­men­tal in Wik­iLeaks end­ing up in Swe­den at fas­cist money-man Carl Lundstrom’s Pirate Bay servers.

    Newer readers/listeners should exam­nine FTR #‘s 732 and 745 for detailed dis­cus­sion of this.



    Posted by Dave Emory | June 20, 2013, 9:38 pm
  3. The lat­est drip, drip, drip: GCHQ is doing even more sur­veil­lance than the NSA:

    GCHQ taps fibre-optic cables for secret access to world’s communications

    Exclu­sive: British spy agency col­lects and stores vast quan­ti­ties of global email mes­sages, Face­book posts, inter­net his­to­ries and calls, and shares them with NSA, lat­est doc­u­ments from Edward Snow­den reveal

    Ewen MacAskill, Julian Borger, Nick Hop­kins, Nick Davies and James Ball
    guardian.co.uk, Fri­day 21 June 2013 12.23 EDT

    Britain’s spy agency GCHQ has secretly gained access to the net­work of cables which carry the world’s phone calls and inter­net traf­fic and has started to process vast streams of sen­si­tive per­sonal infor­ma­tion which it is shar­ing with its Amer­i­can part­ner, the National Secu­rity Agency (NSA).

    The sheer scale of the agency’s ambi­tion is reflected in the titles of its two prin­ci­pal com­po­nents: Mas­ter­ing the Inter­net and Global Tele­coms Exploita­tion, aimed at scoop­ing up as much online and tele­phone traf­fic as pos­si­ble. This is all being car­ried out with­out any form of pub­lic acknowl­edge­ment or debate.

    One key inno­va­tion has been GCHQ’s abil­ity to tap into and store huge vol­umes of data drawn from fibre-optic cables for up to 30 days so that it can be sifted and analysed. That oper­a­tion, code­named Tem­pora, has been run­ning for some 18 months.

    GCHQ and the NSA are con­se­quently able to access and process vast quan­ti­ties of com­mu­ni­ca­tions between entirely inno­cent peo­ple, as well as tar­geted suspects.

    This includes record­ings of phone calls, the con­tent of email mes­sages, entries on Face­book and the his­tory of any inter­net user’s access to web­sites – all of which is deemed legal, even though the war­rant sys­tem was sup­posed to limit inter­cep­tion to a spec­i­fied range of targets.

    The exis­tence of the pro­gramme has been dis­closed in doc­u­ments shown to the Guardian by the NSA whistle­blower Edward Snow­den as part of his attempt to expose what he has called “the largest pro­gramme of sus­pi­cion­less sur­veil­lance in human history”.

    “It’s not just a US prob­lem. The UK has a huge dog in this fight,” Snow­den told the Guardian. “They [GCHQ] are worse than the US.”

    How­ever, on Fri­day a source with knowl­edge of intel­li­gence argued that the data was col­lected legally under a sys­tem of safe­guards, and had pro­vided mate­r­ial that had led to sig­nif­i­cant break­throughs in detect­ing and pre­vent­ing seri­ous crime.

    Britain’s tech­ni­cal capac­ity to tap into the cables that carry the world’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions – referred to in the doc­u­ments as spe­cial source exploita­tion – has made GCHQ an intel­li­gence superpower.

    By 2010, two years after the project was first tri­alled, it was able to boast it had the “biggest inter­net access” of any mem­ber of the Five Eyes elec­tronic eaves­drop­ping alliance, com­pris­ing the US, UK, Canada, Aus­tralia and New Zealand.

    UK offi­cials could also claim GCHQ “pro­duces larger amounts of meta­data than NSA”. (Meta­data describes basic infor­ma­tion on who has been con­tact­ing whom, with­out detail­ing the content.)

    By May last year 300 ana­lysts from GCHQ, and 250 from the NSA, had been assigned to sift through the flood of data.

    The Amer­i­cans were given guide­lines for its use, but were told in legal brief­ings by GCHQ lawyers: “We have a light over­sight regime com­pared with the US”.

    When it came to judg­ing the neces­sity and pro­por­tion­al­ity of what they were allowed to look for, would-be Amer­i­can users were told it was “your call”.

    The Guardian under­stands that a total of 850,000 NSA employ­ees and US pri­vate con­trac­tors with top secret clear­ance had access to GCHQ databases.

    The doc­u­ments reveal that by last year GCHQ was han­dling 600m “tele­phone events” each day, had tapped more than 200 fibre-optic cables and was able to process data from at least 46 of them at a time.

    Each of the cables car­ries data at a rate of 10 giga­bits per sec­ond, so the tapped cables had the capac­ity, in the­ory, to deliver more than 21 petabytes a day – equiv­a­lent to send­ing all the infor­ma­tion in all the books in the British Library 192 times every 24 hours.

    And the scale of the pro­gramme is con­stantly increas­ing as more cables are tapped and GCHQ data stor­age facil­i­ties in the UK and abroad are expanded with the aim of pro­cess­ing ter­abits (thou­sands of giga­bits) of data at a time.

    For the 2 bil­lion users of the world wide web, Tem­pora rep­re­sents a win­dow on to their every­day lives, suck­ing up every form of com­mu­ni­ca­tion from the fibre-optic cables that ring the world.

    The NSA has mean­while opened a sec­ond win­dow, in the form of the Prism oper­a­tion, revealed ear­lier this month by the Guardian, from which it secured access to the inter­nal sys­tems of global com­pa­nies that ser­vice the internet.

    The GCHQ mass tap­ping oper­a­tion has been built up over five years by attach­ing inter­cept probes to transat­lantic fibre-optic cables where they land on British shores car­ry­ing data to west­ern Europe from tele­phone exchanges and inter­net servers in north America.

    This was done under secret agree­ments with com­mer­cial com­pa­nies, described in one doc­u­ment as “inter­cept partners”.

    The papers seen by the Guardian sug­gest some com­pa­nies have been paid for the cost of their co-operation and GCHQ went to great lengths to keep their names secret. They were assigned “sen­si­tive rela­tion­ship teams” and staff were urged in one inter­nal guid­ance paper to dis­guise the ori­gin of “spe­cial source” mate­r­ial in their reports for fear that the role of the com­pa­nies as inter­cept part­ners would cause “high-level polit­i­cal fallout”.

    The source with knowl­edge of intel­li­gence said on Fri­day the com­pa­nies were obliged to co-operate in this oper­a­tion. They are for­bid­den from reveal­ing the exis­tence of war­rants com­pelling them to allow GCHQ access to the cables.

    “There’s an over­ar­ch­ing con­di­tion of the licens­ing of the com­pa­nies that they have to co-operate in this. Should they decline, we can com­pel them to do so. They have no choice.”

    The source said that although GCHQ was col­lect­ing a “vast haystack of data” what they were look­ing for was “needles”.

    “Essen­tially, we have a process that allows us to select a small num­ber of nee­dles in a haystack. We are not look­ing at every piece of straw. There are cer­tain trig­gers that allow you to dis­card or not exam­ine a lot of data so you are just look­ing at nee­dles. If you had the impres­sion we are read­ing mil­lions of emails, we are not. There is no inten­tion in this whole pro­gramme to use it for look­ing at UK domes­tic traf­fic – British peo­ple talk­ing to each other,” the source said.

    He explained that when such “nee­dles” were found a log was made and the inter­cep­tion com­mis­sioner could see that log.

    “The cri­te­ria are secu­rity, ter­ror, organ­ised crime. And eco­nomic well-being. There’s an audit­ing process to go back through the logs and see if it was jus­ti­fied or not. The vast major­ity of the data is dis­carded with­out being looked at … we sim­ply don’t have the resources.”

    How­ever, the legit­i­macy of the oper­a­tion is in doubt. Accord­ing to GCHQ’s legal advice, it was given the go-ahead by apply­ing old law to new tech­nol­ogy. The 2000 Reg­u­la­tion of Inves­ti­ga­tory Pow­ers Act (Ripa) requires the tap­ping of defined tar­gets to be autho­rised by a war­rant signed by the home sec­re­tary or for­eign secretary.

    How­ever, an obscure clause allows the for­eign sec­re­tary to sign a cer­tifi­cate for the inter­cep­tion of broad cat­e­gories of mate­r­ial, as long as one end of the mon­i­tored com­mu­ni­ca­tions is abroad. But the nature of mod­ern fibre-optic com­mu­ni­ca­tions means that a pro­por­tion of inter­nal UK traf­fic is relayed abroad and then returns through the cables.

    Par­lia­ment passed the Ripa law to allow GCHQ to trawl for infor­ma­tion, but it did so 13 years ago with no inkling of the scale on which GCHQ would attempt to exploit the cer­tifi­cates, enabling it to gather and process data regard­less of whether it belongs to iden­ti­fied targets.

    The cat­e­gories of mate­r­ial have included fraud, drug traf­fick­ing and ter­ror­ism, but the cri­te­ria at any one time are secret and are not sub­ject to any pub­lic debate. GCHQ’s com­pli­ance with the cer­tifi­cates is audited by the agency itself, but the results of those audits are also secret.

    An indi­ca­tion of how broad the drag­net can be was laid bare in advice from GCHQ’s lawyers, who said it would be impos­si­ble to list the total num­ber of peo­ple tar­geted because “this would be an infi­nite list which we couldn’t manage”.


    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 21, 2013, 12:17 pm
  4. This isn’t really sur­pris­ing but more of a “signs of the times” fun fact:
    USIS, the for­mer gov­ern­ment agency that han­dles secu­rity clear­ances and was pri­va­tized in 1996 and sold to the Car­lyle Group in 2007, has its own polit­i­cal action com­mit­tee.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 21, 2013, 2:27 pm
  5. A cor­rec­tion on my part: USIS wasn’t sold to Car­lyle in 2007. It was sold by Car­lyle in 2007 to a dif­fer­ent pri­vate equity firm. Me can’t read!

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 26, 2013, 1:21 pm
  6. Ars Tech­nica has a big new piece on Snowden’s online posts on their chat rooms over the years includ­ing his time in Switzer­land. While it doesn’t look like Snowden’s pol­i­tics have changed much in recent years (he’s pro­mot­ing the gold stan­dard in one thread) his atti­tude towards leak­ers sure has:

    Ars Tech­nica
    In 2009, Ed Snow­den said leak­ers “should be shot.” Then he became one
    In Inter­net chat, Snow­den opined on travel, short-selling—and national security.

    by Joe Mullin — June 26 2013, 8:00am CST

    d Snow­den was 23 years old when he moved to Geneva in 2007. Soon after arriv­ing, he was look­ing for a taste of home.

    It wasn’t that he was unhappy. Snowden’s life was becom­ing the adven­ture he’d been look­ing for. Mov­ing to Switzer­land hadn’t been his first choice—his dream picks were in Asia and Australia—but it cer­tainly wasn’t bad. Hired by the CIA and granted a diplo­matic cover, he was a reg­u­lar old IT guy whose life was ele­vated by a hint of inter­na­tional intrigue.

    Snow­den would soon move into a four-bedroom apart­ment cov­ered by the agency. He’d blow off park­ing tick­ets, cit­ing diplo­matic immu­nity. He’d travel the con­ti­nent. He befriended an Eston­ian rock star (“the fun­ni­est part is he’s a SUPER NERD”), raced motor­cy­cles in Italy, took in the Mus­lim call to prayer from his Sara­jevo hotel room, and formed opin­ions about the food and the women in Bosnia, in Roma­nia, in Spain.

    But as his first spring dawned in Switzer­land, it must have felt cold, for­eign, and expen­sive. Two days after his arrival in Switzer­land, Snow­den logged onto #arsi­fi­cial, a chan­nel on Ars Technica’s pub­lic Inter­net Relay Chat (IRC) server. He’d been fre­quent­ing this space for a few months, chat­ting with whomever hap­pened to be hang­ing out.


    Snow­den logged on to the pub­lic IRC chat room with the same user­name he used across the Web: TheTrue­HOOHA. The chat room was a place he would return to on dozens of occa­sions over his years in Switzer­land, and his writ­ings fill in details about the man who may go down as the most famous leaker in US his­tory. Over the years that he hung out in #arsi­fi­cial, Snow­den went from being a fairly insu­lated Amer­i­can to being a man of the world. He would wax philo­soph­i­cal about money, pol­i­tics, and in one notable exchange, about his uncom­pro­mis­ing views about gov­ern­ment leakers.

    Four years later, Snow­den took a job with a gov­ern­ment con­trac­tor for the spe­cific pur­pose of gath­er­ing secret infor­ma­tion on domes­tic spy­ing being done by the National Secu­rity Agency (NSA). In May, he hopped a plane to Hong Kong before the NSA knew where he was going. Once there, Snow­den began a process of leak­ing top-secret doc­u­ments to jour­nal­ists. Snowden’s first leak con­firmed what activists had sus­pected but couldn’t prove: there was a drag­net gov­ern­ment sur­veil­lance pro­gram col­lect­ing infor­ma­tion on every American’s phone calls.


    And he could be abra­sive. Snow­den didn’t short stocks just to make money—he did it because it was the right thing to do. He saw him­self as a pal­adin of the mar­kets, bring­ing “liq­uid­ity” to all. As for those who didn’t agree with him about the right­ness of the gold stan­dard or the need to elim­i­nate Social Secu­rity, they weren’t just mistaken—they were “retards.”

    Four years ago, Snow­den pre­sented an image of always being sure of him­self, some­times to the point of seem­ing arro­gant. He often thought he was the smartest guy in the room, and he let oth­ers know it.


    A Ron Paul man and a short-seller

    If Snow­den was get­ting com­fort­able in Geneva, he was fully at home in #arsi­fi­cial. In a depar­ture from his nearly 800 posts in other Ars forums, here he spoke bluntly on mat­ters of state. In the months fol­low­ing the 2008 elec­tion, he dis­cussed his embrace of a return to the gold stan­dard and his admi­ra­tion of its highest-profile champion.

    In his more hyper­bolic moments, Snow­den spoke about the fall of the dol­lar in near-apocalyptic terms. “It seems like the USD and GBP are both likely to go the way of the zim­babwe dol­lar,” he sug­gested in March 2009. “Espe­cially with that cock­bag bernanke decid­ing to mag­i­cally print 1.2T more dollars.”


    The high unem­ploy­ment rate that was on the way for the US didn’t phase Snow­den; those wring­ing their hands and seek­ing con­ven­tional Key­ne­sian solu­tions seemed soft­headed to him. Obama was “plan­ning to devalue the cur­rency absolutely as fast as the­o­ret­i­cally pos­si­ble,” he wrote. Ris­ing unem­ploy­ment was a mere “cor­rec­tion,” a “nec­es­sary part of capitalism.”


    Dur­ing the elec­tion, Snow­den sug­gested he could sup­port Obama if he were some­how to join forces with his oppo­nent, John McCain. Snow­den saw McCain as an “excel­lent leader” and “a guy with real val­ues,” unlike Bush. But he wasn’t dread­ing an Obama pres­i­dency. “We need an ide­al­ist first and fore­most,” he wrote. “Hillary Clin­ton, I think, would be a pox on the country.”

    Once Obama took office, Snow­den groaned about his poli­cies with increas­ing fre­quency. Fears that Obama might revive an assault weapons ban didn’t sit well with him as a defender of the Sec­ond Amend­ment. Another stick­ing point was social secu­rity. Snow­den was an indi­vid­u­al­ist, even when it was unpop­u­lar; he saw lit­tle need for a safety net.


    Leak­ers should be “shot in the balls”

    Snow­den may have leaned lib­er­tar­ian on some issues, but he also exhib­ited strong sup­port for America’s secu­rity state appa­ra­tus. He didn’t just work for it as a quiet dis­si­dent. Four years before he would leak the country’s secrets, Snow­den was cheer­ing its actions and insist­ing that it needed healthy fund­ing. To any­one who ques­tioned US actions in his favored online hang­out, he could be deri­sive.



    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 26, 2013, 1:25 pm
  7. Laura Poitras, one of the jour­nal­ists work­ing with Snow­den, has a new set of “rev­e­la­tions” reported in Der Spiegel about NSA tar­get­ing of EU insti­tu­tions:

    Der Spiegel
    Attacks from Amer­ica: NSA Spied on Euro­pean Union Offices

    By Laura Poitras, Mar­cel Rosen­bach, Fidelius Schmid and Hol­ger Stark, June 29, 2013 – 11:21 PM

    America’s NSA intel­li­gence ser­vice allegedly tar­geted the Euro­pean Union with its spy­ing activ­i­ties. Accord­ing to SPIEGEL infor­ma­tion, the US placed bugs in the EU rep­re­sen­ta­tion in Wash­ing­ton and infil­trated its com­puter net­work. Cyber attacks were also per­pe­trated against Brus­sels in New York and Washington.

    Infor­ma­tion obtained by SPIEGEL shows that America’s National Secu­rity Agency (NSA) not only con­ducted online sur­veil­lance of Euro­pean cit­i­zens, but also appears to have specif­i­cally tar­geted build­ings hous­ing Euro­pean Union insti­tu­tions. The infor­ma­tion appears in secret doc­u­ments obtained by whistle­blower Edward Snow­den that SPIEGEL has in part seen. A “top secret” 2010 doc­u­ment describes how the secret ser­vice attacked the EU’s diplo­matic rep­re­sen­ta­tion in Washington.

    The doc­u­ment sug­gests that in addi­tion to installing bugs in the build­ing in down­town Wash­ing­ton, DC, the EU representation’s com­puter net­work was also infil­trated. In this way, the Amer­i­cans were able to access dis­cus­sions in EU rooms as well as emails and inter­nal doc­u­ments on computers.

    The attacks on EU insti­tu­tions show yet another level in the broad scope of the NSA’s spy­ing activ­i­ties. For weeks now, new details about Prism and other sur­veil­lance pro­grams have been emerg­ing that had been com­piled by whistle­blower Snow­den. Details have also emerged that the British intel­li­gence ser­vice GCHQ oper­ates a sim­i­lar pro­gram under the name Tem­pora with which global tele­phone and Inter­net con­nec­tions are monitored.

    The doc­u­ments SPIEGEL has seen indi­cate that the EU rep­re­sen­ta­tion to the United Nations was attacked in a man­ner sim­i­lar to the way sur­veil­lance was con­ducted against its offices in Wash­ing­ton. An NSU doc­u­ment dated Sep­tem­ber 2010 explic­itly names the Euro­peans as a “loca­tion target”

    The doc­u­ments also indi­cate the US intel­li­gence ser­vice was respon­si­ble for an elec­tronic eaves­drop­ping oper­a­tion in Brus­sels. A lit­tle over five years ago, EU secu­rity experts noticed sev­eral tele­phone calls that were appar­ently tar­get­ing the remote main­te­nance sys­tem in the Jus­tus Lip­sius Build­ing where the EU Coun­cil of Min­is­ters and the Euro­pean Coun­cil is located. The calls were made to num­bers that were very close to the one used for the remote admin­is­tra­tion of the building’s tele­phone system.


    This lat­est dis­clo­sure has, of course, con­tin­ued to ruf­fled weath­ers:

    EU con­cern over Der Spiegel claim of US spying

    The head of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment has demanded “full clar­i­fi­ca­tion” from the US over a report that key EU premises in Amer­ica have been bugged.

    Mar­tin Schulz said that if this was true, it would have a “severe impact” on ties between the EU and the US.

    The report, car­ried by Germany’s Der Spiegel mag­a­zine, cites a secret 2010 doc­u­ment alleg­ing that the US spied on EU offices in New York and Washington.


    In a state­ment on Sat­ur­day, Mr Shultz said: “On behalf of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment, I demand full clar­i­fi­ca­tion and require fur­ther infor­ma­tion speed­ily from the US author­i­ties with regard to these allegations.”

    Der Spiegel also quotes Lux­em­bourg For­eign Min­is­ter Jean Assel­born as say­ing: “If these reports are true, it’s dis­gust­ing. The United States would be bet­ter off mon­i­tor­ing its secret ser­vices rather than its allies.”

    The US gov­ern­ment has so far made no pub­lic com­ments on the Spiegel’s report.


    So was this new con­tent from one of the orig­i­nal 41 Power-Point slides that we haven’t seen yet or is it from the thou­sands of other doc­u­ments that Wik­ileaks, China, Rus­sia, and who knows who else might have by now.


    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 29, 2013, 8:29 pm
  8. And in the lat­est Snowden-flake, we learn that the US clas­sify Ger­many as a “third class” part­ner which puts it in a sim­i­lar cat­e­gory to that of China, Iraq, and Saudi Ara­bia. No other EU coun­try has that clas­si­fi­ca­tion:

    U.S. taps half-billion Ger­man phone, inter­net links in month: report

    BERLIN | Sun Jun 30, 2013 5:40am EDT

    (Reuters) — The United States taps half a bil­lion phone calls, emails and text mes­sages in Ger­many in a typ­i­cal month and has classed its biggest Euro­pean ally as a tar­get sim­i­lar to China, accord­ing to secret U.S. doc­u­ments quoted by a Ger­man newsmagazine.

    The rev­e­la­tions of alleged U.S. sur­veil­lance pro­grams based on doc­u­ments taken by fugi­tive for­mer National Secu­rity Agency con­trac­tor Edward Snow­den have raised a polit­i­cal furor in the United States and abroad over the bal­ance between pri­vacy rights and national security.

    Expos­ing the lat­est details in a string of reputed spy­ing pro­grams, Der Spiegel quoted from an inter­nal NSA doc­u­ment which it said its reporters had seen.

    The doc­u­ment Spiegel cited showed that the United States cat­e­go­rized Ger­many as a “third-class” part­ner and that sur­veil­lance there was stronger than in any other EU coun­try, sim­i­lar in extent to China, Iraq or Saudi-Arabia.

    “We can attack the sig­nals of most for­eign third-class part­ners, and we do it too,” Der Spiegel quoted a pas­sage in the NSA doc­u­ment as saying.

    It said the doc­u­ment showed that the NSA mon­i­tored phone calls, text mes­sages, emails and inter­net chat con­tri­bu­tions and has saved the meta­data — that is, the con­nec­tions, not the con­tent — at its headquarters.

    On an aver­age day, the NSA mon­i­tored about 20 mil­lion Ger­man phone con­nec­tions and 10 mil­lion inter­net data sets, ris­ing to 60 mil­lion phone con­nec­tions on busy days, the report said.

    While it had been known from dis­clo­sures by Snow­den that the United States tapped data in Ger­many, the extent was pre­vi­ously unclear.

    News of the U.S. cyber-espionage pro­gram Prism and the British equiv­a­lent Tem­pora have out­raged Ger­mans, who are highly sen­si­tive to gov­ern­ment mon­i­tor­ing hav­ing lived through the Stasi secret police in the for­mer com­mu­nist East Ger­many and with lin­ger­ing mem­o­ries of the Gestapo of Hitler’s Nazi regime.

    A Spiegel report on Sat­ur­day that the NSA had spied on Euro­pean Union offices caused out­rage among EU pol­i­cy­mak­ers, with some even call­ing for a sus­pen­sion to talks for a free trade agree­ment between Wash­ing­ton and the EU.

    In France, Der Spiegel reported, the United States taps about 2 mil­lion con­nec­tion data a day. Only Canada, Aus­tralia, Britain and New Zealand were explic­itly exempted from spy attacks.


    And now Ger­many is prepar­ing to bring­ing charges against “per­sons unknown”:

    The Inde­pen­dent
    Ger­many ready to charge UK and US intel­li­gence over alleged bug­ging operations

    Out­rage grows in Europe over alle­ga­tions of exten­sive hack­ing and bug­ging oper­a­tions
    Tony Pater­son, Sun­day 30 June 2013

    Germany’s Fed­eral Prosecutor’s office said it was prepar­ing to bring charges against British and US intel­li­gence today amid fresh alle­ga­tions that the ser­vices spied far more exten­sively than thought on Ger­man phone and inter­net traf­fic and bugged Euro­pean Union offices in America.

    A report alleg­ing a major and con­tin­u­ous US National Secu­rity Agency spy­ing oper­a­tion in Ger­many was pub­lished by Der Spiegel mag­a­zine today, prompt­ing out­rage from Berlin MPs still reel­ing from reports about exten­sive British sur­veil­lance in their coun­try. The Ger­man Jus­tice Min­is­ter, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenburger, demanded an imme­di­ate expla­na­tion and said the behav­iour of the intel­li­gence ser­vices was “rem­i­nis­cent of the actions against ene­mies dur­ing the Cold War”. “It defies belief that our friends in the US see the Euro­peans as their ene­mies,” she said.

    The leak, which Der Spiegel said came from fugi­tive ex-CIA ana­lyst Edward Snow­den, claimed that the NSA tapped into half a bil­lion Ger­man phone calls, emails and SMS mes­sages each month. Reports last week revealed exten­sive tap­ping of Ger­man phone and inter­net traf­fic by British intel­li­gence under its so-called Tem­pora pro­gramme. The infor­ma­tion was said to be shared with the NSA.

    A spokesman for the Fed­eral Pros­e­cu­tor said the office was prepar­ing to bring charges against “per­sons unknown” in rela­tion to the reports.

    There was also wide­spread and mount­ing anger at offi­cial Euro­pean Union level yes­ter­day fol­low­ing dis­clo­sures that the NSA had spied on EU com­puter net­works at its offices in New York and Wash­ing­ton and that it had also bugged the premises. Mar­tin Schulz, head of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment, demanded “full clar­i­fi­ca­tion” from the US and said that if the dis­clo­sures proved true they would have a severe impact on US-EU ties.

    Con­sid­er­ing there’s an elec­tion in Ger­many right now, the Snow­den extradition-saga could get really inter­est­ing.

    And depend­ing on how the charges against the US and UK pro­ceed, law­suits against gov­ern­ments that facil­i­tate oppres­sive spy­ing on inno­cent civil­ians might also get really inter­est­ing.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 30, 2013, 7:41 pm

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