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Update on The Adventures of Eddie the Friendly Spook

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Edward Snowden, unplugged


COMMENT: Updating the Adventures of Eddie the Friendly Spook [Snowden], we note several things:

  • An Atlantic article notes a joint Brazilian/EU effort to build a Transatlantic fiber-optic cable to thwart U.S. surveillance and Merkel’s plans to create a data-secure EU internet structure. All of this supposedly in response to Snowden’s “disclosures.” As we have noted in the past, this is sheer nonsense. Germany, EU countries and other major intelligence services do the same thing. Germany, Brazil and the EU have known of the NSA’s activities for years. Germany has been a long-standing partner with NSA. Snowden–whom we think is being directed by BND (as well as by an element of CIA)–engaged in his “op” in order to justify a pre-arranged economic offensive against the American IT sector! The article also notes that the invention of the Internet was a huge boon to the U.S. economy. As we noted in our series on Eddie the Friendly Spook, the Snowden “op” is an act of economic and political warfare against the United States.
  • We also note that, per the latest Washington Post story on L’Affaire Snowden, Eddie the Friendly Spook turned over documents to Citizen Greenwald containing sensitive information about National security matters, as well as intimate information about regular citizens. As we noted in FTR #774, the Snowdenistas are blithely insensitive to the fact that NO ONE has vetted Snowden, Greenwald, Julian Assange and/or Wikileakers as worthy of being in receipt of such sensitive information about national security and private citizens’ intimate lives.
  • The Pierre Omidyar-funded “Intercept” features an article by Nazi fellow-traveler Citizen Greenwald in which he runs interference for Muslim Brotherhood operatives. The group includes CAIR co-founder Nihad Awad, who blamed the 1993 World Trade Center bombing on the Mossad and Egyptian Intelligence, as well as Faisal Gill, a protege of Grover Norquist and very much in the Al-Taqwa orbit.
  • Omidyar has supported brutal micro-finance programs in the Third World (acting in conjunction with Phoenix Program veteran Roy Prosterman), helped finance the fascist coup in Ukraine in 2014 and assisted in the election of Hindu nationalist/fascist Narendra Modi in India.
  • Viviane Reding, EU Justice Commissioner from Luxembourg and an apparent puppet of Martin Selmayr is advocating the creation of an EU spy agency to do exactly the same thing as the NSA! Like Merkel and the other hypocrites and crybabies in Europe, she clearly does NOT object to what NSA and GCHQ do. She wants the EU to do the same thing!
  • In an attempt to stave off the ousting of CIA station chief in Berlin, Germany was offered inclusion in the Five Eyes Club and turned it down. One wonders what is going on behind the scenes and what they want in return?
  • In our series on Eddie the Friendly Spook, we spent much time and discussion highlighting Palantir–the apparent maker of the PRISM software (their disclaimers to the contrary notwithstanding). We noted that the largest stockholder in both Palantir and Facebook is Ron Paul backer Peter Thiel, an explicit opponent of democracy (in part because he thinks women shouldn’t vote). We now learn–unsurprisingly–that Palantir (partly created with funds from the intelligence community) is collecting information on Facebook users for the military. Y-A-W-N.

“The End of the Internet?” by Gordon M. Goldstein; The Atlantic; July/August 2014.

. . . . The Web’s growth has been broadly congenial to American interests, and a large boon to the American economy.

That brings us to Edward Snowden and the U.S. National Security Agency. Snowden’s disclosures of the NSA’s surveillance of international Web traffic have provoked worldwide outrage and a growing counterreaction. Brazil and the European Union recently announced plans to lay a $185 million undersea fiber-optic communications cable between them to thwart U.S. surveillance. In February, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for the European Union to create its own regional Internet, walled off from the United States. “We’ll talk to France about how we can maintain a high level of data protection,” Merkel said. “Above all, we’ll talk about European providers that offer security for our citizens, so that one shouldn’t have to send e-mails and other information across the Atlantic.”

Merkel’s exploration of a closed, pan-European cloud-computing network is simply the latest example of what the analyst Daniel Castro of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation calls “data nationalism,” a phenomenon gathering momentum whereby countries require that certain types of information be stored on servers within a state’s physical borders. The nations that have already implemented a patchwork of data-localization requirements range from Australia, France, South Korea, and India to Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, and Vietnam, according to Anupam Chander and Uyen P. Le, two legal scholars at the University of California at Davis. “Anxieties over surveillance … are justifying governmental measures that break apart the World Wide Web,” they wrote in a recent white paper. As a result, “the era of a global Internet may be passing.”

Security concerns have catalyzed data-nationalization efforts, yet Castro, Chander, and Le all question the benefits, arguing that the security of data depends not on their location but on the sophistication of the defenses built around them. Another motive appears to be in play: the Web’s fragmentation would enable local Internet businesses in France or Malaysia to carve out roles for themselves, at the expense of globally dominant companies, based disproportionately in the United States. Castro estimates that the U.S. cloud-computing industry alone could lose $22 billion to $35 billion in revenue by 2016.

The Snowden affair has brought to a boil geopolitical tensions that were already simmering. . . .

“Civil Liberties Hero Edward Snowden Commits Massive Civil Liberties Violation” by Charles Johnson; Little Green Footballs; 7/6/2014

I can’t help noticing that the most important and troubling aspect of Barton Gellman’s new NSA story for the Washington Post is not even mentioned in the text: In NSA-Intercepted Data, Those Not Targeted Far Outnumber the Foreigners Who Are.

But first, here’s what is in the text:

Among the most valuable contents — which The Post will not describe in detail, to avoid interfering with ongoing operations — are fresh revelations about a secret overseas nuclear project, double-dealing by an ostensible ally, a military calamity that befell an unfriendly power, and the identities of aggressive intruders into U.S. computer networks.

Months of tracking communications across more than 50 alias accounts, the files show, led directly to the 2011 capture in Abbottabad of Muhammad Tahir Shahzad, a Pakistan-based bomb builder, and Umar Patek, a suspect in a 2002 terrorist bombing on the Indonesian island of Bali. At the request of CIA officials, The Post is withholding other examples that officials said would compromise ongoing operations.

Secret nuclear weapons projects, aggressive hackers, double-dealing by purported allies — why is it supposed to be evil and wrong for the NSA to uncover these kinds of things? Why in the world would anyone be upset that their communications were intercepted if it helps the US government discover a secret nuclear project?

If my emails are collected by the NSA as part of this effort, I say, “Go ahead, collect away.” Call me crazy, but I want the US government to discover these things before it’s too late.

Also note that this latest release absolutely debunks the constant claims by the Greenwald crew that the NSA’s programs have nothing to do with terrorism, or that they’re ineffective at uncovering terrorists.

But even more to the point, and the reason for my headline above: hasn’t Edward Snowden himself committed a truly massive violation of civil liberties, by handing over these legally collected and properly redacted private communications to journalists — and to Glenn Greenwald?

Many other files, described as useless by the analysts but nonetheless retained, have a startlingly intimate, even voyeuristic quality. They tell stories of love and heartbreak, illicit sexual liaisons, mental-health crises, political and religious conversions, financial anxieties and disappointed hopes. The daily lives of more than 10,000 account holders who were not targeted are catalogued and recorded nevertheless.

And now they’re in the hands of people like Glenn Greenwald, Jacob Applebaum, Julian Assange and who knows who else.

I’m continually amazed at the capacity of the civil libertarian crowd to blithely violate the civil liberties of others in their dead-end quest for a purist libertarian ideal.

“Meet the Muslim-American Leaders the FBI and NSA Have Been Spying On” by Glenn Greenwald and Murtaza Hussain; The Intercept; 7/9/2014.

. . . .According to documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the list of Americans monitored by their own government includes:

Faisal Gill, a longtime Republican Party operative and one-time candidate for public office who held a top-secret security clearance and served in the Department of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush;

• Asim Ghafoor, a prominent attorney who has represented clients in terrorism-related cases;

• Hooshang Amirahmadi, an Iranian-American professor of international relations at Rutgers University;

• Agha Saeed, a former political science professor at California State University who champions Muslim civil liberties and Palestinian rights;

Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the largest Muslim civil rights organization in the country. [CAIR is very closely linked to the Muslim Brotherhood–D.E.]. . . .

“EU Should Create Own Spy Agency, Reding Says” by Andrew Rettman; EUobserver; 11/4/2013.

EU justice commissioner Viviane Reding has said the Union should create its own intelligence service by 2020.

Speaking on Monday (4 November) to Greek daily Naftemporiki on the US snooping scandal, she said: “What we need is to strengthen Europe in this field, so we can level the playing field with our US partners.”

She added: “I would therefore wish to use this occasion to negotiate an agreement on stronger secret service co-operation among the EU member states – so that we can speak with a strong common voice to the US. The NSA needs a counterweight. My long-term proposal would therefore be to set up a European Intelligence Service by 2020.”

Revelations by US leaker Edward Snowden say America’s National Security Agency (NSA) intercepts millions of Europeans’ emails and phone calls. . . .

“U.S. Offered Berlin ‘Five Eyes’ Pact. Merkel Was Done With It” by Patrick Don­ahue and John Wal­cott; Bloomberg News; 7/12/2014.

U.S. Ambas­sador John Emer­son made his way to the For­eign Min­istry in Berlin armed with a plan to head off the worst diplo­matic clash of Angela Merkel’s chancellorship.

Emer­son came to the July 9 meet­ing with an offer autho­rized in Wash­ing­ton: pro­vide Ger­many a U.S. intelligence-sharing agree­ment resem­bling one avail­able only to four other nations. The goal was to assuage Merkel and pre­vent the expul­sion of the Cen­tral Intel­li­gence Agency’s chief of sta­tion in Berlin.

It wasn’t enough.

The same morn­ing, across the bound­ary once marked by the Berlin Wall, Merkel con­vened her top min­is­ters fol­low­ing the 9:30 a.m. Cab­i­net meet­ing on the sixth floor of the Chan­cellery and resolved to ask the U.S. intel­li­gence chief to leave Ger­man soil.

Merkel, who ulti­mately deter­mined the government’s course, had to act. Pub­lic and polit­i­cal pres­sure after more than a year of accu­sa­tions of Amer­i­can espi­onage over­reach, stoked by indig­na­tion at the lack of a suf­fi­cient response from Wash­ing­ton, had left the Ger­man gov­ern­ment with no alternative.

“We don’t live in the Cold War any­more, where every­body prob­a­bly mis­trusted every­body else,” Merkel, who has pre­vi­ously reserved her Cold War-mentality accu­sa­tions for Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin, said in an inter­view with Ger­man broad­caster ZDF today.

No Trust

The spy­ing scan­dal has blown open a rift between the U.S. and Ger­many, a nation once under Amer­i­can tute­lage in the decades after World War II. The lat­est alle­ga­tions, involv­ing U.S. dou­ble agents, rekin­dled anger over the dis­clo­sure last year that Merkel’s mobile phone had been hacked by the U.S.

“The notion that you always have to ask your­self in close coop­er­a­tion whether the one sit­ting across from you could be work­ing for the oth­ers -– that’s not a basis for trust,” Merkel told ZDF. “So we obvi­ously have dif­fer­ent per­cep­tions and we have to dis­cuss that intensively.”

Merkel also sig­naled dis­plea­sure with U.S. spy­ing at a news con­fer­ence in Berlin on July 10. Within an hour, her office issued a state­ment say­ing that the two new inves­ti­ga­tions into U.S. cloak-and-dagger meth­ods, on top of “ques­tions over the past months” fol­low­ing leaks on National Secu­rity Agency activ­ity, forced the gov­ern­ment to take action.

Invited to Leave

At that point, the U.S. intel­li­gence offi­cer was invited to leave the coun­try rather than suf­fer the diplo­matic ignominy of being declared “per­sona non grata” and expelled under the Vienna Con­ven­tion. Merkel’s spokesman, Stef­fen Seib­ert, said yes­ter­day that the gov­ern­ment expected the uniden­ti­fied offi­cial to leave the coun­try “soon.”

The evic­tion was “a nec­es­sary step and a mea­sured response to the breach of trust that took place,” Ger­man For­eign Min­is­ter Frank-Walter Stein­meier told reporters yes­ter­day. He’ll meet U.S. Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry in Vienna tomor­row to dis­cuss the mat­ter on the side­lines of talks on Iran’s nuclear program.

The onus is on the U.S. to sug­gest solu­tions, and Ger­man offi­cials are wait­ing to hear what Kerry will pro­pose, accord­ing to a Ger­man diplo­mat who asked not to be iden­ti­fied dis­cussing the conflict.

The rev­e­la­tions at once dis­rupt the U.S. secu­rity rela­tion­ship with a core Euro­pean ally and expose Ger­man anx­i­ety over the bal­ance to strike between pri­vacy issues and com­bat­ing ter­ror­ism. Ham­burg was home to three of the Sept. 11, 2001, sui­cide pilots.

Intel­li­gence Sharing

The arrange­ment, ini­ti­ated in 1946 between the U.S. and U.K., calls for the U.S. and the other English-speaking coun­tries to share most of the elec­tronic inter­cepts and some of the other intel­li­gence they col­lect, with the under­stand­ing that they will limit their spy­ing on one another.

“We are not cur­rently look­ing to alter the Five Eyes struc­ture,” said Caitlin Hay­den, a spokes­woman for the White House’s National Secu­rity Coun­cil, in an e-mailed state­ment. “But we remain open to dis­cus­sions with our close allies and part­ners, includ­ing Ger­many, about how we can bet­ter coor­di­nate our intel­li­gence efforts.”

Post­war Ger­many has had a more mod­est intel­li­gence estab­lish­ment than the U.S. or U.K., focused largely on the for­mer East Ger­many and Soviet Union and on ter­ror­ist groups. Ger­man offi­cials balked at expand­ing their col­lec­tion and shar­ing under such an unwrit­ten arrange­ment, accord­ing to the U.S. official.

The alle­ga­tions of snoop­ing have par­tic­u­lar res­o­nance for Merkel, who lived for 35 years in com­mu­nist East Ger­many and who, as the daugh­ter of a Protes­tant pas­tor, endured spe­cial scrutiny from the state-security ser­vice, the Stasi.

Big ’If’

While German-U.S. rela­tions dipped dur­ing the 2003 Iraq war when Merkel’s pre­de­ces­sor, Ger­hard Schroeder, refused to join Pres­i­dent George W. Bush’s coali­tion against Sad­dam Hus­sein, ties improved under Merkel. She was awarded the Pres­i­den­tial Medal of Free­dom by Obama in 2011.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest declined to com­ment on the details of the alle­ga­tions, telling reporters at the begin­ning of the week that accu­sa­tions over spy­ing were sub­ject to a “a big ‘if’.”

“We highly value the close work­ing rela­tion­ship we have with the Ger­mans on a wide range of issues,” Earnest said, “but par­tic­u­larly on secu­rity and intel­li­gence matters.”

U.S. law­mak­ers, includ­ing some fre­quently crit­i­cal of Obama, have been sim­i­larly reticent.

Law­mak­ers’ Concerns

“I don’t know how much the admin­is­tra­tion could have done to defuse this,” Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Ed Royce, the Cal­i­for­nia Repub­li­can who heads the House For­eign Affairs Com­mit­tee, said yes­ter­day at a break­fast with reporters hosted by the Chris­t­ian Sci­ence Mon­i­tor. “Given the cir­cum­stances, the admin­is­tra­tion is attempt­ing at this time to deal with the Ger­man gov­ern­ment, and I’m hope­ful that they’re successful.”

Sen­a­tor Mark Udall, a Col­orado Demo­c­rat and Intel­li­gence Com­mit­tee mem­ber, has told reporters that he was eager to learn more about the sit­u­a­tion at a clas­si­fied brief­ing for the panel mem­bers next week.

“I am con­cerned that we’re send­ing the wrong mes­sage to a key ally,” Udall said.

Before the cur­rent ten­sions, the U.S. and Ger­many had a his­tory of exten­sive intel­li­gence coop­er­a­tion. For many years, much of U.S. elec­tronic spy­ing on Iran was con­ducted out of a CIA sta­tion in Frank­furt known as Tefran, accord­ing to a for­mer U.S. intel­li­gence offi­cial who described the coop­er­a­tion on con­di­tion of anonymity.

Review Agree­ments

A num­ber of peo­ple in the U.S. gov­ern­ment say that, more than two decades after the Cold War ended, it’s time to con­sider agree­ments with more coun­tries to help track ter­ror­ists, weapons pro­lif­er­a­tion and espi­onage, accord­ing to U.S. offi­cials who asked not to be identified.

They said the con­flict with Ger­many also has under­scored con­cern that intel­li­gence agen­cies lack any good risk-assessment model to judge the ben­e­fits of oper­a­tions against friendly pow­ers against the poten­tial risks.

“This is so stu­pid,” Ger­man Finance Min­is­ter Wolf­gang Schaeu­ble, Germany’s longest-serving law­maker, said July 9, reflect­ing frus­tra­tion and amaze­ment about the turn of events in U.S.-German relations.

Schaeu­ble, who helped nego­ti­ate Ger­man reuni­fi­ca­tion 25 years ago this year, said, “It makes you want to cry.”

“The US mil­i­tary is Already Using Face­book to Track Your Mood” by Patrick Tucker; Quartz; 7/3/2014.

Crit­ics have tar­geted a recent study on how emo­tions spread on the pop­u­lar social net­work site Face­book, com­plain­ing that some 600,000 Face­book users did not know that they were tak­ing part in an exper­i­ment. Some­what more dis­turb­ing, the researchers delib­er­ately manip­u­lated users’ feel­ings to mea­sure an effect called emo­tional con­ta­gion.

Though Cor­nell Uni­ver­sity, home to at least one of the researchers, said the study received no exter­nal fund­ing, but it turns out that the uni­ver­sity is cur­rently receiv­ing Defense Depart­ment money for some extremely similar-sounding research—the analy­sis of social net­work posts for “sen­ti­ment,” i.e. how peo­ple are feel­ing, in the hopes of iden­ti­fy­ing social “tip­ping points.”

The tip­ping points in ques­tion include “the 2011 Egypt­ian rev­o­lu­tion, the 2011 Russ­ian Duma elec­tions, the 2012 Niger­ian fuel sub­sidy cri­sis and the 2013 Gazi park protests in Turkey,” accord­ing to the web­site of the Min­erva Ini­tia­tive, a Defense Depart­ment social sci­ence project.

It’s the sort of work that the US mil­i­tary has been fund­ing for years, most famously via the open-source indi­ca­tors pro­gram, an Intel­li­gence Advanced Research Projects Activ­ity (IARPA) pro­gram that looked at Twit­ter to pre­dict social unrest.

If the idea of the gov­ern­ment mon­i­tor­ing and even manip­u­lat­ing you on Face­book gives you a cold, creep­ing feel­ing, the bad news is that you can expect the intel­li­gence com­mu­nity to spend a great deal more time and money research­ing sen­ti­ment and rela­tion­ships via social net­works like Face­book. In fact, defense con­trac­tors and high-level USin­tel­li­gence offi­cials say that social net­work data has become one of the most impor­tant tools they use in the col­lect­ing intelligence.

Defense One recently caught up with Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the direc­tor of the Defense Intel­li­gence Agency who said the US mil­i­tary has “com­pletely revamped” the way it col­lects intel­li­gence around the exis­tence of large, openly avail­able data sources and espe­cially social media like Face­book. “The infor­ma­tion that we’re able to extract form social media—it’s giv­ing us insights that frankly we never had before,” he said.

In other words, the head of one of the biggest US mil­i­tary intel­li­gence agen­cies needs you on Facebook.

“Just over a decade ago, when I was a senior intel­li­gence offi­cer, I spent most of my time in the world of ‘ints’—signals intel­li­gence imagery, human intelligence—and used just a lit­tle bit of open-source infor­ma­tion to enrich the assess­ments that we made. Fast for­ward to 2014 and the explo­sion of the infor­ma­tion envi­ron­ment in just the last few years alone. Open-source now is a place I spend most of my time. The open world of infor­ma­tion pro­vides us most of what we need and the ‘ints’ of old, they enrich the assess­ments that we’re able to make from open-source information.”

Open-source intel­li­gence can take a vari­ety of forms, but among the most volu­mi­nous, per­sonal and use­ful is Face­book and Twit­ter data. The avail­abil­ity of that sort of infor­ma­tion is chang­ing the way that DIA trains intel­li­gence oper­a­tives. Long gone are the spooks of old who would fish through trash for clues on tar­gets. Here to stay are the eyes look­ing through your vaca­tion pictures.

“We train them dif­fer­ently even than we did a year ago because of the types of tools we have. There are adjust­ments to the trade craft, and that’s due to the amount of infor­ma­tion we can now get our hands on,” Flynn said.

The growth of social media has not just changed day-to-day life at agen­cies like DIA, it’s also given rise to a mini gold rush in defense con­tract­ing. The mil­i­tary will be spend­ing an increas­ing amount of the $50 bil­lion intel­li­gence bud­get on pri­vate con­trac­tors to per­form open-source intel­li­gence gath­er­ing and analy­sis, accord­ing to Flynn. That’s evi­denced by the rise in com­pa­nies eager to pro­vide those services.

Some of them are well known like Palan­tir, the Sil­i­con Val­ley data visu­al­iza­tion giant that’s been fea­tured promi­nently in Bloomberg Busi­ness­week and has graced the cover of Forbes. Col­lect­ing or ana­lyz­ing social net­work data wasn’t some­thing they orig­i­nally wanted to get into accord­ing to Bryant Chung, a Palan­tir employee. Palan­tir doesn’t mar­ket itself as a data col­lec­tion com­pany. They pro­vide a tool set to help agen­cies visu­al­ize and share data.

The com­pany wor­ried that part­ner­ing with the intel­li­gence com­mu­nity to do social net­work data col­lec­tion could hurt their rep­u­ta­tion among the tech com­mu­nity, increas­ingly wary of the gov­ern­ment, accord­ing to Chung. When the com­pany was approached by NATO and some US intel­li­gence groups, they decided to explore the mar­ket­place for sen­ti­ment analy­sis of social net­work data.

“There are a lot of other com­mer­cial com­pa­nies already in that space. Unless we know we’re going to crush it, we don’t want to get in,” Chung said. “I think we have a dif­fer­en­ti­ated capa­bil­ity, espe­cially at a macro level. For exam­ple, you are inter­ested in mon­i­tor­ing an elec­tion some­where in Africa and you want to know who are the peo­ple tweet­ing on one side of an elec­tion ver­sus the other, or who are the most influ­en­tial tweet­ers or you what if you have intel­li­gence that an explo­sion is about to hap­pen at a par­tic­u­lar square, can you con­firm that using Tweets?” That’s the sort of thing Palan­tir wants to help you with.

Many of the groups doing this sort of work on behalf of the gov­ern­ment are small out­fits you prob­a­bly have never heard of. And ide­ally, you never would.

One of them is a com­pany out of Austin, Texas, called Snap­Trends, founded in 2012. They pro­vide a “social lis­ten­ing” ser­vice that ana­lyzes posts to pro­vide insights about the cir­cum­stances of the poster, one of the most impor­tant of which is the poster’s loca­tion. The com­pany uses cell tower den­sity, social net­work knowhow, and var­i­ous other ele­ments to fig­ure out who is post­ing what and where. Are you some­one who refuses to geo-tag your tweets out of con­cerns for pri­vacy? Do you turn off your phone’s GPS receiv­ing capa­bil­ity to stay under the prover­bial radar? It doesn’t mat­ter to SnapTrends.

One tweet and they can find you.

“If it’s a dense envi­ron­ment. I can put you within a block. If it’s a [bad] envi­ron­ment I can put you within two or three blocks,” said Todd Robin­son, direc­tor of oper­a­tions for Defense Mil­i­tary Intel­li­gence for the com­pany Gen­eral Dynam­ics Infor­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy, GDIT, and Snap­Trends pres­i­dent for Mid­dle East­ern oper­a­tions. GDIT part­nered with Snap­Trends to sell their ser­vices to the gov­ern­ment. “Once I do have you, I click this but­ton right here, I can go back five years [of social media posts.]”

Snap­Trends says that the tool was extremely help­ful in the inves­ti­ga­tion fol­low­ing the 2013 Boston Marathon bomb attacks. Using social net­work analy­sis, “we found the col­lege kids that had access to the com­put­ers [owned by the sus­pects]. We were able to get to them first,” said Robins.

The use of social net­work data for intel­li­gence isn’t just fair, Rob­bins says, it’s a no-brainer. Scrawl­ing Face­book for clues about human behav­ior doesn’t require break­ing in via back­doors or other elab­o­rate pieces of tech­no­log­i­cal trick­ery. “When you join Twit­ter and Face­book, you sign an agree­ment say­ing you will post that to a pub­lic web page. We just pull data from that web page.”

”I’m a retired intel­li­gence guy,” he said. “This is not that dif­fi­cult, people.

But while social data may be an impor­tant tool in intel­li­gence col­lec­tion, it’s hardly a per­ma­nent one.

In the same way that observ­ing the behav­ior of some sub­atomic par­ti­cles changes the behav­ior of those par­ti­cles (called the observer effect), watch­ing the tweets and posts of tar­gets can cre­ate an envi­ron­ment where peo­ple tweet less. You poi­son your own well by draw­ing from it. That hap­pens on an indi­vid­ual level in terms of spe­cific human tar­gets but also on a larger, soci­etal level.

“We’ve seen that already,” Robin­son said. “There is always a risk that as peo­ple under­stand this, they’ll quit putting [posts] on there.”

The view was sec­onded by Snap­Trends co-founder and­ CEO, Eric Klas­son. “The more the ‘bad guys’ know about what is pos­si­ble, the less they will use social media. This under­mines state, local, fed­eral and inter­na­tional law enforce­ment efforts,” he told Defense One.

When asked if he was con­cerned that peo­ple might stop using Face­book, Twit­ter and other social net­works as a result of US intel­li­gence activ­i­ties, Flynn answered matter-of-factly: “Yes.”



3 comments for “Update on The Adventures of Eddie the Friendly Spook”

  1. Hehe. Surely this call for as substantial increase in the BND budget and counterintelligence activities is all going to be used for purely defensive purposes:

    Deutsche Welle
    German spies clamor for counter-espionage funding

    The discovery of US spies in Germany’s intelligence service and Defense Ministry has sparked outrage. Now German spies are calling for a boost in funds and staff directed toward counterintelligence.

    Date 12.07.2014
    Author Sven Pöhle / nm
    Editor Sean Sinico

    When it comes to cases of espionage on German soil, officials in the secret service and the politicians responsible for overseeing them automatically start using words like “counterintelligence” and “protection.”

    “Effective protection against attacks on our communication, as well as effective counterintelligence, are essential for our strong democracy,” said German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere in a statement responding to recent revelations of alleged spying in Germany.

    Bernd Schmidbauer, who worked as a federal intelligence service coordinator between 1991 and 1998, also used the word “counterintelligence” frequently.

    “Counterintelligence, counterintelligence, and more counterintelligence. Only then can you be strong,” said Schmidbauer in an interview with DW. But such activities require money and well-trained staff, the 75-year-old added.

    “Only then would it mean that not everyone is free to mess around in our backyard,” he said. “It’s not about friends or foes, it is only a matter of national interests.”

    NSA scandal paves the way

    The time to push ahead with the expansion of counterintelligence seems ripe to many in Germany. Since the revelations of whistleblower and former US National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, German politicians and the general public have been angered by the seemingly never-ending reports of espionage carried out in Germany by allied states – particularly by the United States.

    The conservative head of the committee set up to investigate the activities of the NSA in Germany, Roderich Kiesewetter, has demanded more money be channeled into counterintelligence. He told the “Rheinische Post” newspaper that Germany had “saved in the wrong place.”

    He called for a “substantial increase” in the BND’s budget, so it could develop capabilities to “exercise effective reconnoitering” in the future. According to a report by German public broadcaster SWR, Kiesewetter’s mobile phone was also allegedly tapped by foreign intelligence services.

    Desperately needed makeover

    The BND had been planning to upgrade its capabilities for some time, especially the technology used to monitor social media. It has a project as part of the “Strategic Technology Initiative,” which would require parliamentary approval of 300 million euros ($410 million) in funding.

    According to information confirmed by DW, the Military Counterintelligence Service (MAD) also aims to reinvent itself. With around 1,000 employees, MAD is the smallest of the three federal intelligence agencies in Germany.

    The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, could also be better equipped. A process to strengthen counter-espionage and protection against attacks on German communications is already underway, de Maiziere said Thursday (10.07.2014).

    Following the NSA spying scandal, the BfV had thought about focusing on friendly intelligence services. “In light of what has happened, we have to expand our work,” de Maiziere told public television broadcaster ZDF. He said it was important not to forget that “other states carry out espionage on a large scale in Germany.” Until now, Germany has kept a close eye mainly on the intelligence activities of countries like Russia, China and North Korea.

    Who watches the spies?

    But who is monitoring the increasing number of intelligence agents? The Bundestag’s Parliamentary Control Panel (PKG) is the body responsible, and the federal government has to keep the panel’s members informed about intelligence service activities.

    The panel’s eight representatives from the Bundestag, the German lower house of parliament, currently oversee around 10,500 intelligence officers. The PKG has set itself the task of monitoring the work of the secret services more closely. To this end, they are setting up a new task force with up to seven federal government staff to provide additional support.

    The Bundestag is expected to put forward around 400,000 euros per year in additional funding to enable the PKG to successfully carry out its tasks. The Bundestag will also decide on a possible expansion of intelligence services. To do this, it would have to free up the necessary funds and create new positions for employees in the secret service agencies.

    “The BND had been planning to upgrade its capabilities for some time, especially the technology used to monitor social media. It has a project as part of the “Strategic Technology Initiative,” which would require parliamentary approval of 300 million euros ($410 million) in funding.”

    So there’s a planned $410 million expansion in BND’s capabilities, including monitoring social media, and if you listen to the BND’s hype, it’s all to be used for counterintelligence:

    German spies want $400M to play catch-up with the NSA
    By David Meyer
    May. 31, 2014 – 1:51 AM PDT

    Summary: Confidential documents from the BND, Germany’s answer to the NSA and GCHQ, suggest the agency could soon get major funding to improve its online surveillance and hacking capabilities.

    Ah, Germany: the home of data protection law; a bastion for the privacy-minded in these crazy days of international surveillance and hackery. Or is it? The German government and intelligence services have already been sued over alleged privacy violations in cooperation with the NSA, and now leaked documents have described plans for monitoring social networks in real-time.

    Süddeutsche Zeitung, NDR and WDR have turned up secret documents belonging to the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), Germany’s counterpart to the NSA. It seems the BND is jealous of the digital espionage capabilities of the NSA and the U.K.’s GCHQ, and wants to up its game.

    The documents warn that, if the BND doesn’t get the €300 million ($409 million) it needs to run expanded surveillance activities until 2020, Germany will fall behind even Italy and Spain in the spook stakes. They also suggest the spies hope to get their funding in the coming weeks.

    According to the reports, the BND wants to analyze streaming data in real-time from forums and services such as Facebook, Twitter and Flickr, collect and store more mobile metadata, and use software vulnerabilities for targeted hacking. The reports state targets would be outside Germany — indeed, targeted data must have a foreign element if the spies are to remain compliant with German law.

    The BND intercepts and analyzes a certain amount of internet data flowing through Germany, but has nothing like the NSA’s budget for effectively interrogating this data. Last July, a leaked NSA document seen by Der Spiegel showed how closely the BND works with the NSA, even using U.S. spy software.

    Huh. So according to these secret documents, the BND “wants to analyze streaming data in real-time from forums and services such as Facebook, Twitter and Flickr, collect and store more mobile metadata, and use software vulnerabilities for targeted hacking“. Social media monitoring, mobile metadata, and targeted hacking. Those kind of capabilities could be useful for counterintelligence purposes. For instance, the facial recognition capabilities discussed in the BND document will definitely facilitate the plans for automated monitoring of the internet and social media as also discussed in the document. But it sure sounds like the kinds of intelligence investments that could be used for a lot more than counterintelligence.

    On the one hand, the social media data collection capabilities the BND is asking for might mostly involve the kind of tools that are increasingly commercially available for web commerce and trawling the web for personal data. On the other hand, the mass metadata collectino and targeted hacking (which presumably involves things like man-in-the-middle attacks) definitely sound like the kinds of capabilities reserved for an intelligence agency. So it’s worth noting that, based on reports comparing the NSA’s and BND’s internet surveillance systems, they sound pretty similar systems using somewhat different privacy settings:

    The Week
    The Compass with Marc Ambinder
    The NSA’s big problem, explained by the NSA
    June 19, 2014, at 9:17 AM

    Amongst the new trove of classified documents released by Der Speigel is a rather academic discussion, in the NSA’s own foreign affairs journal, about the differences between American signals intelligence collection and German signals intelligence collection.

    One passage in particular stands out, as it highlights how the Germans give far more weight to privacy than the NSA does.

    For the Germans, “…spam filters are used to process large data volumes. Selected traffic is passed through an automated privacy protection system, ensuring analysts cannot view German protected traffic. On-site BND analysts then manually assess all selected traffic to determine intelligence value.” (BND refers to the German foreign intelligence agency, the Bundeshachrichtendienst.) It continues:

    NSA analysts discussed NSA’s “hunt versus gather” philosophy, our multi-stage selection and filtering process, and the evolution of DNI targeting systems from GRANDMASTER to WEALTHYCLUSTER, and in the future, TURMOIL. BND appeared especially interested in the TURMOIL approach of scanning and making judgments at the packet level prior to sessioning.

    …NSA and BND use opposite selection and filtering approaches. Where NSA primarily relies on equipment for selection … and analyst minimization for privacy protection, the BND relies on analysts to manually scan traffic for selection, and then equipment to filter data for privacy protection.

    Full use of NSA DNI processing systems and technologies at the JSA will be key to influencing the BND to alter their strategic DNI approach.

    Let me translate. The NSA has chosen the “gather” philosophy, which means they collect as much information as possible, from everywhere and anywhere, use sophisticated technology and analytics to figure out what’s important automatically, determine targets and selectors by algorithms and metrics, and then, with the data that has “won” this Darwinian competition to get to the human analyst’s desk, determines whether the target is legitimate.

    BND, by contrast, employs privacy protection technology before raw intelligence reaches an analyst. The analyst is therefore only seeing the data cuts that do not meet pre-determined criteria for being screened out. In real terms, that means that the BND programs in a bunch of domestic German domain names and IP addresses into its system and asks the system to delete the “digital network information” — metadata and such — that matches them.

    The NSA justifies its approach, generally, by pointing to the scope of its mission. It would be, the agency believes, far too time intensive to manually assess traffic for intelligence value. It is much easier to let computers see patterns and make matches — there is just so much damn data — and then “minimize” any domestic data that’s collected. The NSA would also say that there is simply no other way to prosecute its mission.

    I think the NSA might be correct. But I also see, from this assessment, that other countries have determined that the balance between collection and privacy can tip in the opposite direction and still be steady enough to get the job done.

    Based on that description of the differences in the NSA’s and BND’s internet surveillance systems, it sounds like the biggest difference between the NSA and BND is simply the BND filters out more domestic IP addresses and doesn’t store as much data. And these are, indeed significant differences, but only if you ignore the fact that the NSA and BND work extremely closely which presumably reduces the BND’s need to process all of the “large data volumes” that pass through the BND’s packet filters. And having the NSA as your close partner presumably also eases the data storage needs while also providing domestic surveillance capabilities (via the NSA) if the German government decides to use it. So it doesn’t sound like it would be too difficult for the BND to acquire NSA-like capabilities and it sure sounds like NSA-like capabilities is exactly what the BND is clamoring for in the secret BND document discussed above.

    And then there’s the additional BND claim, that “if the BND doesn’t get the €300 million ($409 million) it needs to run expanded surveillance activities until 2020, Germany will fall behind even Italy and Spain in the spook stakes“. This is a statement that, under different circumstances, would seem like just standard one-upmanship that one might expect. But these aren’t normal circumstances and haven’t been since the financial crisis broke.

    For instance, while it’s certainly true that governments around the world are investing heavily in greater spying capabilities, given all the austerity Berlin has mandated for Italy and Spain, a sudden expansion of Italy and Spain’s spying capabilities may not be much of an issue for the year 2020.

    At the same time, if you had to imagine a scenario where an ally government might want to spy on you, the scenario where you’ve effectively taken over the decision-making for that government and mandated austerity policies just might be one of those scenarios where an ally suddenly feels a need to spy on you. Recall that Merkel declared that Germany will be taking a “360 degree” stance towards allied spying and even declared that France would be added to the list of counterintelligence targets in addition to the US and UK. But that “360 degree” statement can easily be interpreted as including the rest of the eurozone or EU. And if Germany has a new need for greater counterintelligence capabilities it also, logically, has a greater need for outward-directed intelligence capabilities (since the two are rather inseparable).

    So you have to wonder how much more ally-on-ally spying might be taking place these days now that Merkel’s government is increasingly becoming the government of the eurozone and the larger EU.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 19, 2014, 5:13 pm
  2. Secret sightseeing?

    Business Insider
    There’s An 11-Day Hole In Snowden’s Story About Hong Kong

    Michael B Kelley

    Jul. 20, 2014, 2:00 PM

    Edward Snowden says that he wanted the U.S. to know where he was after he arrived in Hong Kong.

    But U.S. authorities still don’t know what he did for the first 11 days after his arrival.

    “That whole period was very carefully planned and orchestrated,” Snowden told the Guardian. “There was no risk of compromise. … And I didn’t cover my traces [in Hong Kong]. I only tried to avoid being detected in advance of travel … on the other side I wanted them to know where I was at. I wanted them to know.”

    In his book, Greenwald writes that Snowden “arrived in Hong Kong from Hawaii on May 20, checking into the Mira Hotel under his own name.”

    And Snowden told Vanity Fair that “I used a personal credit card so the government could immediately verify that I was entirely self-financed [and] independent.”

    But Edward Jay Epstein of The Wall Street Journal went to Hong Kong and confirmed that Snowden didn’t check into the Mira Hotel until June 1, which was a couple of days before he met with journalists Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald.

    “Mr. Snowden would tell Mr. Greenwald on June 3 that he had been ‘holed up’ in his room at the Mira Hotel from the time of his arrival in Hong Kong. But according to inquiries by Wall Street Journal reporter Te-Ping Chen, Mr. Snowden arrived there on June 1,” Epstein reported. “I confirmed that date with the hotel’s employees. A hotel security guard told me that Mr. Snowden was not in the Mira during that late-May period and, when he did stay there, he used his own passport and credit card.”

    Epstein also cited a source familiar with the Defense Intelligence Agency report on the Snowden affair, that “U.S. investigative agencies have been unable to find any credit-card charges or hotel records indicating his whereabouts” between May 20 and June 1.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 21, 2014, 2:15 pm
  3. Germany just loudly announced that it the US and British intelligence operations will be subject to the same counter-espionage measures as those of Russia, China, and Iran while quietly admitting that this will apply to all foreign intelligence operations on German soil:

    The Telegraph
    Germany to ‘spy on US and UK intelligence gathering’ for the first time in 45 years
    Germany orders surveillance of British and American intelligence gathering, according to reports

    By Justin Huggler in Berlin

    4:57PM BST 24 Jul 2014

    Germany has ordered surveillance of British and American intelligence gathering on its soil to begin for the first time since 1945, according to reports.

    Under the decision, US and British intelligence operations in Germany will be subject to the same counter-espionage measures as those of Russia, China and Iran.

    “We need to send a strong signal,” a source close to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government told Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper. The unprecedented move is a direct response to a series of spy scandals that have rocked British and American relations with Germany in the past year.

    Mrs Merkel’s government has given the go-ahead to surveillance plans that first emerged after two suspected double agents were found allegedly spying for the Americans inside the German security establishment a few weeks ago.

    The new measures go still further, and will bring to an end decades of cooperation that date back to the Cold War, when West German, British and American intelligence worked together against the Soviet Union.

    From now on, the BND, Germany’s equivalent of MI5, will extend its surveillance and counter-espionage operations to all foreign intelligence agencies operating on German soil.

    But Mrs Merkel’s government has stopped short of a full retaliation, and ruled out its own spying operations in the US.

    There has been considerable irritation in Germany that it was excluded from the mutual no spying agreement the US has with the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand under the “Five Eyes” agreement, and that Mrs Merkel’s requests for a similar agreement were rebuffed by the US.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 26, 2014, 6:31 pm

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