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COMMENT: Updating the Adventures of Eddie the Friendly Spook [Snowden], we note several things:
- An Atlantic  article notes a joint Brazilian/EU effort to build a Transatlantic fiber-optic cable to thwart U.S. surveillance and Merkel’s plans to create a data-secure EU internet structure. All of this supposedly in response to Snowden’s “disclosures.” As we have noted in the past, this is sheer nonsense. Germany, EU countries and other major intelligence services do the same thing. Germany, Brazil and the EU have known of the NSA’s activities for years. Germany has been a long-standing partner with NSA. Snowden–whom we think is being directed by BND (as well as by an element of CIA)–engaged in his “op” in order to justify a pre-arranged economic offensive against the American IT sector ! The article also notes that the invention of the Internet was a huge boon to the U.S. economy. As we noted in our series on Eddie the Friendly Spook, the Snowden “op” is an act of economic and political warfare  against the United States.
- We also note that, per the latest Washington Post story  on L’Affaire Snowden, Eddie the Friendly Spook turned over documents to Citizen Greenwald  containing sensitive information about National security matters, as well as intimate information about regular citizens. As we noted in FTR #774 , the Snowdenistas are blithely insensitive to the fact that NO ONE has vetted Snowden, Greenwald, Julian Assange and/or Wikileakers as worthy of being in receipt of such sensitive information about national security and private citizens’ intimate lives.
- The Pierre Omidyar-funded “Intercept” features an article by Nazi fellow-traveler Citizen Greenwald  in which he runs interference for Muslim Brotherhood operatives. The group includes CAIR co-founder Nihad Awad , who blamed the 1993 World Trade Center bombing on the Mossad and Egyptian Intelligence, as well as Faisal Gill , a protege of Grover Norquist and very much in the Al-Taqwa orbit.
- Omidyar has supported brutal micro-finance programs in the Third World (acting in conjunction  with Phoenix Program veteran Roy Prosterman), helped finance the fascist coup  in Ukraine in 2014 and assisted  in the election of Hindu nationalist/fascist Narendra Modi in India.
- Viviane Reding, EU Justice Commissioner from Luxembour g  and an apparent puppet  of Martin Selmayr is advocating the creation of an EU spy agency to do exactly the same thing as the NSA! Like Merkel and the other hypocrites and crybabies in Europe, she clearly does NOT object to what NSA and GCHQ do. She wants the EU to do the same thing!
- In an attempt to stave off the ousting of CIA station chief in Berlin, Germany was offered inclusion in the Five Eyes Club  and turned it down. One wonders what is going on behind the scenes and what they want in return?
- In our series on Eddie the Friendly Spook, we spent much time and discussion highlighting Palantir–the apparent maker of the PRISM software (their disclaimers to the contrary notwithstanding). We noted that the largest stockholder in both Palantir and Facebook is Ron Paul  backer Peter Thiel , an explicit opponent of democracy (in part because he thinks women shouldn’t vote). We now learn–unsurprisingly–that Palantir (partly created with funds from the intelligence community) is collecting information on Facebook users  for the military. Y‑A-W‑N.
. . . . The Web’s growth has been broadly congenial to American interests, and a large boon to the American economy.
That brings us to Edward Snowden and the U.S. National Security Agency. Snowden’s disclosures of the NSA’s surveillance of international Web traffic have provoked worldwide outrage and a growing counterreaction. Brazil and the European Union recently announced plans to lay a $185 million undersea fiber-optic communications cable between them to thwart U.S. surveillance. In February, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for the European Union to create its own regional Internet, walled off from the United States. “We’ll talk to France about how we can maintain a high level of data protection,” Merkel said. “Above all, we’ll talk about European providers that offer security for our citizens, so that one shouldn’t have to send e‑mails and other information across the Atlantic.”
Merkel’s exploration of a closed, pan-European cloud-computing network is simply the latest example of what the analyst Daniel Castro of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation calls “data nationalism,” a phenomenon gathering momentum whereby countries require that certain types of information be stored on servers within a state’s physical borders. The nations that have already implemented a patchwork of data-localization requirements range from Australia, France, South Korea, and India to Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, and Vietnam, according to Anupam Chander and Uyen P. Le, two legal scholars at the University of California at Davis. “Anxieties over surveillance … are justifying governmental measures that break apart the World Wide Web,” they wrote in a recent white paper. As a result, “the era of a global Internet may be passing.”
Security concerns have catalyzed data-nationalization efforts, yet Castro, Chander, and Le all question the benefits, arguing that the security of data depends not on their location but on the sophistication of the defenses built around them. Another motive appears to be in play: the Web’s fragmentation would enable local Internet businesses in France or Malaysia to carve out roles for themselves, at the expense of globally dominant companies, based disproportionately in the United States. Castro estimates that the U.S. cloud-computing industry alone could lose $22 billion to $35 billion in revenue by 2016.
The Snowden affair has brought to a boil geopolitical tensions that were already simmering. . . .
I can’t help noticing that the most important and troubling aspect of Barton Gellman’s new NSA story for the Washington Post is not even mentioned in the text: In NSA-Intercepted Data, Those Not Targeted Far Outnumber the Foreigners Who Are .
But first, here’s what is in the text:
Among the most valuable contents — which The Post will not describe in detail, to avoid interfering with ongoing operations — are fresh revelations about a secret overseas nuclear project, double-dealing by an ostensible ally, a military calamity that befell an unfriendly power, and the identities of aggressive intruders into U.S. computer networks.
Months of tracking communications across more than 50 alias accounts, the files show, led directly to the 2011 capture in Abbottabad of Muhammad Tahir Shahzad, a Pakistan-based bomb builder, and Umar Patek, a suspect in a 2002 terrorist bombing on the Indonesian island of Bali. At the request of CIA officials, The Post is withholding other examples that officials said would compromise ongoing operations.
Secret nuclear weapons projects, aggressive hackers, double-dealing by purported allies — why is it supposed to be evil and wrong for the NSA to uncover these kinds of things? Why in the world would anyone be upset that their communications were intercepted if it helps the US government discover a secret nuclear project?
If my emails are collected by the NSA as part of this effort, I say, “Go ahead, collect away.” Call me crazy, but I want the US government to discover these things before it’s too late.
Also note that this latest release absolutely debunks the constant claims by the Greenwald crew that the NSA’s programs have nothing to do with terrorism, or that they’re ineffective at uncovering terrorists.
But even more to the point, and the reason for my headline above: hasn’t Edward Snowden himself committed a truly massive violation of civil liberties, by handing over these legally collected and properly redacted private communications to journalists — and to Glenn Greenwald?
Many other files, described as useless by the analysts but nonetheless retained, have a startlingly intimate, even voyeuristic quality. They tell stories of love and heartbreak, illicit sexual liaisons, mental-health crises, political and religious conversions, financial anxieties and disappointed hopes. The daily lives of more than 10,000 account holders who were not targeted are catalogued and recorded nevertheless.
And now they’re in the hands of people like Glenn Greenwald, Jacob Applebaum, Julian Assange and who knows who else.
I’m continually amazed at the capacity of the civil libertarian crowd to blithely violate the civil liberties of others in their dead-end quest for a purist libertarian ideal.
. . . .According to documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the list of Americans monitored by their own government includes:
• Faisal Gill, a longtime Republican Party operative and one-time candidate for public office who held a top-secret security clearance and served in the Department of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush;
• Asim Ghafoor, a prominent attorney who has represented clients in terrorism-related cases;
• Hooshang Amirahmadi, an Iranian-American professor of international relations at Rutgers University;
• Agha Saeed, a former political science professor at California State University who champions Muslim civil liberties and Palestinian rights;
• Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the largest Muslim civil rights organization in the country. [CAIR is very closely linked to the Muslim Brotherhood–D.E.]. . . .
EU justice commissioner Viviane Reding has said the Union should create its own intelligence service by 2020.
Speaking on Monday (4 November) to Greek daily Naftemporiki on the US snooping scandal, she said: “What we need is to strengthen Europe in this field, so we can level the playing field with our US partners.”
She added: “I would therefore wish to use this occasion to negotiate an agreement on stronger secret service co-operation among the EU member states — so that we can speak with a strong common voice to the US. The NSA needs a counterweight. My long-term proposal would therefore be to set up a European Intelligence Service by 2020.”
Revelations by US leaker Edward Snowden say America’s National Security Agency (NSA) intercepts millions of Europeans’ emails and phone calls. . . .
U.S. Ambassador John Emerson made his way to the Foreign Ministry in Berlin armed with a plan to head off the worst diplomatic clash of Angela Merkel’s chancellorship.
Emerson came to the July 9 meeting with an offer authorized in Washington: provide Germany a U.S. intelligence-sharing agreement resembling one available only to four other nations. The goal was to assuage Merkel and prevent the expulsion of the Central Intelligence Agency’s chief of station in Berlin.
It wasn’t enough.
The same morning, across the boundary once marked by the Berlin Wall, Merkel convened her top ministers following the 9:30 a.m. Cabinet meeting on the sixth floor of the Chancellery and resolved to ask the U.S. intelligence chief to leave German soil.
Merkel, who ultimately determined the government’s course, had to act. Public and political pressure after more than a year of accusations of American espionage overreach, stoked by indignation at the lack of a sufficient response from Washington, had left the German government with no alternative.
“We don’t live in the Cold War anymore, where everybody probably mistrusted everybody else,” Merkel, who has previously reserved her Cold War-mentality accusations for Russian President Vladimir Putin, said in an interview with German broadcaster ZDF today.
The spying scandal has blown open a rift between the U.S. and Germany, a nation once under American tutelage in the decades after World War II. The latest allegations, involving U.S. double agents, rekindled anger over the disclosure last year that Merkel’s mobile phone had been hacked by the U.S.
“The notion that you always have to ask yourself in close cooperation whether the one sitting across from you could be working for the others -– that’s not a basis for trust,” Merkel told ZDF. “So we obviously have different perceptions and we have to discuss that intensively.”
Merkel also signaled displeasure with U.S. spying at a news conference in Berlin on July 10. Within an hour, her office issued a statement saying that the two new investigations into U.S. cloak-and-dagger methods, on top of “questions over the past months” following leaks on National Security Agency activity, forced the government to take action.
Invited to Leave
At that point, the U.S. intelligence officer was invited to leave the country rather than suffer the diplomatic ignominy of being declared “persona non grata” and expelled under the Vienna Convention. Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said yesterday that the government expected the unidentified official to leave the country “soon.”
The eviction was “a necessary step and a measured response to the breach of trust that took place,” German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told reporters yesterday. He’ll meet U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Vienna tomorrow to discuss the matter on the sidelines of talks on Iran’s nuclear program.
The onus is on the U.S. to suggest solutions, and German officials are waiting to hear what Kerry will propose, according to a German diplomat who asked not to be identified discussing the conflict.
The revelations at once disrupt the U.S. security relationship with a core European ally and expose German anxiety over the balance to strike between privacy issues and combating terrorism. Hamburg was home to three of the Sept. 11, 2001, suicide pilots.
The arrangement, initiated in 1946 between the U.S. and U.K., calls for the U.S. and the other English-speaking countries to share most of the electronic intercepts and some of the other intelligence they collect, with the understanding that they will limit their spying on one another.
“We are not currently looking to alter the Five Eyes structure,” said Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the White House’s National Security Council, in an e‑mailed statement. “But we remain open to discussions with our close allies and partners, including Germany, about how we can better coordinate our intelligence efforts.”
Postwar Germany has had a more modest intelligence establishment than the U.S. or U.K., focused largely on the former East Germany and Soviet Union and on terrorist groups. German officials balked at expanding their collection and sharing under such an unwritten arrangement, according to the U.S. official.
The allegations of snooping have particular resonance for Merkel, who lived for 35 years in communist East Germany and who, as the daughter of a Protestant pastor, endured special scrutiny from the state-security service, the Stasi.
While German‑U.S. relations dipped during the 2003 Iraq war when Merkel’s predecessor, Gerhard Schroeder, refused to join President George W. Bush’s coalition against Saddam Hussein, ties improved under Merkel. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Obama in 2011.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest declined to comment on the details of the allegations, telling reporters at the beginning of the week that accusations over spying were subject to a “a big ‘if’.”
“We highly value the close working relationship we have with the Germans on a wide range of issues,” Earnest said, “but particularly on security and intelligence matters.”
U.S. lawmakers, including some frequently critical of Obama, have been similarly reticent.
“I don’t know how much the administration could have done to defuse this,” Representative Ed Royce, the California Republican who heads the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said yesterday at a breakfast with reporters hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. “Given the circumstances, the administration is attempting at this time to deal with the German government, and I’m hopeful that they’re successful.”
Senator Mark Udall, a Colorado Democrat and Intelligence Committee member, has told reporters that he was eager to learn more about the situation at a classified briefing for the panel members next week.
“I am concerned that we’re sending the wrong message to a key ally,” Udall said.
Before the current tensions, the U.S. and Germany had a history of extensive intelligence cooperation. For many years, much of U.S. electronic spying on Iran was conducted out of a CIA station in Frankfurt known as Tefran, according to a former U.S. intelligence official who described the cooperation on condition of anonymity.
A number of people in the U.S. government say that, more than two decades after the Cold War ended, it’s time to consider agreements with more countries to help track terrorists, weapons proliferation and espionage, according to U.S. officials who asked not to be identified.
They said the conflict with Germany also has underscored concern that intelligence agencies lack any good risk-assessment model to judge the benefits of operations against friendly powers against the potential risks.
“This is so stupid,” German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, Germany’s longest-serving lawmaker, said July 9, reflecting frustration and amazement about the turn of events in U.S.-German relations.
Schaeuble, who helped negotiate German reunification 25 years ago this year, said, “It makes you want to cry.”
Critics have targeted a recent study on how emotions spread on the popular social network site Facebook, complaining that some 600,000 Facebook users did not know that they were taking part in an experiment. Somewhat more disturbing, the researchers deliberately manipulated users’ feelings to measure an effect called.
Though Cornell University, home to at least one of the researchers,the study received no external funding, but it that the university is currently receiving Defense Department money for some extremely similar-sounding research—the analysis of social network posts for “sentiment,” i.e. how people are feeling, in the hopes of identifying social “tipping points.”
The tipping points in question include “the 2011 Egyptian revolution, the 2011 Russian Duma elections, the 2012 Nigerian fuel subsidy crisis and the 2013 Gazi park protests in Turkey,” according to, a Defense Department social science project.
It’s the sort of work that the US military has been funding for years, most famously via theprogram, an Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) program that looked at Twitter to predict social unrest.
If the idea of the government monitoring and even manipulating you on Facebook gives you a cold, creeping feeling, the bad news is that you can expect the intelligence community to spend a great deal more time and money researching sentiment and relationships via social networks like Facebook. In fact, defense contractors and high-level USintelligence officials say that social network data has become one of the most important tools they use in the collecting intelligence.
Defense One recently caught up with Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency who said the US military has “completely revamped” the way it collects intelligence around the existence of large, openly available data sources and especially social media like Facebook. “The information that we’re able to extract form social media—it’s giving us insights that frankly we never had before,” he said.
In other words, the head of one of the biggest US military intelligence agencies needs you on Facebook.
“Just over a decade ago, when I was a senior intelligence officer, I spent most of my time in the world of ‘ints’—signals intelligence imagery, human intelligence—and used just a little bit of open-source information to enrich the assessments that we made. Fast forward to 2014 and the explosion of the information environment in just the last few years alone. Open-source now is a place I spend most of my time. The open world of information provides us most of what we need and the ‘ints’ of old, they enrich the assessments that we’re able to make from open-source information.”
Open-source intelligence can take a variety of forms, but among the most voluminous, personal and useful is Facebook and Twitter data. The availability of that sort of information is changing the way that DIA trains intelligence operatives. Long gone are the spooks of old who would fish through trash for clues on targets. Here to stay are the eyes looking through your vacation pictures.
“We train them differently even than we did a year ago because of the types of tools we have. There are adjustments to the trade craft, and that’s due to the amount of information we can now get our hands on,” Flynn said.
The growth of social media has not just changed day-to-day life at agencies like DIA, it’s also given rise to a mini gold rush in defense contracting. The military will be spending an increasing amount of the $50 billion intelligence budget on private contractors to perform open-source intelligence gathering and analysis, according to Flynn. That’s evidenced by the rise in companies eager to provide those services.
Some of them are well known like Palantir, the Silicon Valley data visualization giant that’s been featured prominently in Bloomberg Businessweek and has graced the cover of Forbes. Collecting or analyzing social network data wasn’t something they originally wanted to get into according to Bryant Chung, a Palantir employee. Palantir doesn’t market itself as a data collection company. They provide a tool set to help agencies visualize and share data.
The company worried that partnering with the intelligence community to do social network data collection could hurt their reputation among the tech community, increasingly wary of the government, according to Chung. When the company was approached by NATO and some US intelligence groups, they decided to explore the marketplace for sentiment analysis of social network data.
“There are a lot of other commercial companies already in that space. Unless we know we’re going to crush it, we don’t want to get in,” Chung said. “I think we have a differentiated capability, especially at a macro level. For example, you are interested in monitoring an election somewhere in Africa and you want to know who are the people tweeting on one side of an election versus the other, or who are the most influential tweeters or you what if you have intelligence that an explosion is about to happen at a particular square, can you confirm that using Tweets?” That’s the sort of thing Palantir wants to help you with.
Many of the groups doing this sort of work on behalf of the government are small outfits you probably have never heard of. And ideally, you never would.
One of them is a company out of Austin, Texas, called SnapTrends, founded in 2012. They provide a “social listening” service that analyzes posts to provide insights about the circumstances of the poster, one of the most important of which is the poster’s location. The company uses cell tower density, social network knowhow, and various other elements to figure out who is posting what and where. Are you someone who refuses to geo-tag your tweets out of concerns for privacy? Do you turn off your phone’s GPS receiving capability to stay under the proverbial radar? It doesn’t matter to SnapTrends.
One tweet and they can find you.
“If it’s a dense environment. I can put you within a block. If it’s a [bad] environment I can put you within two or three blocks,” said Todd Robinson, director of operations for Defense Military Intelligence for the company General Dynamics Information Technology, GDIT, and SnapTrends president for Middle Eastern operations. GDIT partnered with SnapTrends to sell their services to the government. “Once I do have you, I click this button right here, I can go back five years [of social media posts.]”
SnapTrends says that the tool was extremely helpful in the investigation following the 2013 Boston Marathon bomb attacks. Using social network analysis, “we found the college kids that had access to the computers [owned by the suspects]. We were able to get to them first,” said Robins.
The use of social network data for intelligence isn’t just fair, Robbins says, it’s a no-brainer. Scrawling Facebook for clues about human behavior doesn’t require breaking in via backdoors or other elaborate pieces of technological trickery. “When you join Twitter and Facebook, you sign an agreement saying you will post that to a public web page. We just pull data from that web page.”
”I’m a retired intelligence guy,” he said. “This is not that difficult, people.
But while social data may be an important tool in intelligence collection, it’s hardly a permanent one.
In the same way that observing the behavior of some subatomic particles changes the behavior of those particles (called the observer effect), watching the tweets and posts of targets can create an environment where people tweet less. You poison your own well by drawing from it. That happens on an individual level in terms of specific human targets but also on a larger, societal level.
“We’ve seen that already,” Robinson said. “There is always a risk that as people understand this, they’ll quit putting [posts] on there.”
The view was seconded by SnapTrends co-founder and CEO, Eric Klasson. “The more the ‘bad guys’ know about what is possible, the less they will use social media. This undermines state, local, federal and international law enforcement efforts,” he told Defense One.
When asked if he was concerned that people might stop using Facebook, Twitter and other social networks as a result of US intelligence activities, Flynn answered matter-of-factly: “Yes.”