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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From an anony­mous read­er …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

What do you think?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beyond the Lim­its

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

    The road to Hell is paved with–libertarianism!

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

    Why have we not heard more about this rela­tion­ship?

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



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

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

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

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

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

    The indi­vid­ual respon­si­ble for one of the most sig­nif­i­cant leaks in US polit­i­cal his­to­ry is Edward Snow­den, a 29-year-old for­mer tech­ni­cal assis­tant for the CIA and cur­rent employ­ee of the defence con­trac­tor Booz Allen Hamil­ton. Snow­den has been work­ing at the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Agency for the last four years as an employ­ee of var­i­ous out­side con­trac­tors, includ­ing Booz Allen and Dell.

    The Guardian, after sev­er­al days of inter­views, is reveal­ing his iden­ti­ty at his request. From the moment he decid­ed to dis­close numer­ous top-secret doc­u­ments to the pub­lic, he was deter­mined not to opt for the pro­tec­tion of anonymi­ty. “I have no inten­tion of hid­ing who I am because I know I have done noth­ing wrong,” he said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    Euro­pean intel­li­gence agen­cies com­plic­it?

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Beyond the Lim­its

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    In which case, he fits right in.

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

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

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

    Good luck with that, now.

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

    That sug­gests he was “fast tracked.”

    Keep your eyes peeled for the post.



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

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

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

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

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

    “We hack net­work back­bones — like huge Inter­net routers, basi­cal­ly — that give us access to the com­mu­ni­ca­tions of hun­dreds of thou­sands of com­put­ers with­out hav­ing to hack every sin­gle one,” he told the news­pa­per.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    You, son­ny boy, are obvi­ous­ly inter­est­ed in CON­fir­ma­tion.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

    His rela­tion­ship is deep­er and more com­plex than that:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Kitchee, Kitchee, Koo, Baby Snookums,


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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    This arti­cle has been revised to reflect the fol­low­ing cor­rec­tion:

    Cor­rec­tion: July 3, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

    Ger­man intel­li­gence ser­vice is as bad as the NSA

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    And no one seems to know how to fix it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Pri­vate Donors Sup­ply Spy Gear

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

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

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

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