New Eastern Outlook
by Vladimir Platov
On February 16 researchers at Moscow-based security group Kaspersky Lab announced the discovery of an ultimate virus that has virtually affected all spheres of military and civilian computing in more than 40 countries around the world. They’ve managed to discover a piece of malware that must have been installed on vhard disks while they were still being manufactured, and due to its complexity and a certain number of features that it shares with Stuxnet, it’s safe to assume that it was created by US secret services.
On February 18 The Guardian confirmed that for the last 7 years Government Communications Headquarters had been sharing personal intelligence data en masse with America’s national security agencies, regardless of the fact that it had intercepted millions of foreign citizens conversations. The ruling of a UK court clearly suggests that these actions were illegal on top of being carried out in violation of the the European convention on human rights.
On 19 February it was announced that National Security Agency (NSA) along with its British partner in crime – the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) has manged to steal encryption keys from Gemalto – the world’s largest manufacturer of SIM-cards. This allowed the above named intelligence agencies to tap any phone and intercept data from any mobile device that was using a SIM-card produced by Gemalto. This conspiracy was unveiled by The Intercept, that added that Gemalto was created nine years ago when a French company Axalto merged with Gemplus International that was operating in Luxembourg. Today Gemalto has more that 85 offices across the globe along with a total of 40 factories, that are working in close cooperation with the leading telecommunication corporations, including AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile, along with many others. Representatives of the three above listed companies refused to comment on this scandal.
By the way, one can easily trace the German Deutsche Telekom among the customers of Gemalto group of companies. Hence it is highly unlikely that anyone would have any doubt on the involvement of US intelligence in the tapping of Angela Merkel’s mobile phone, that was uncovered back in the mid 2014. What is particularly peculiar in this situation is the decision of The Federal Attorney General of Germany to stop investigating the Chancellor tapping case as it was reported by Focus Online on the pretext of “zero possible outcome of the investigation.” Well, the claims of the same Focus Online that “Merkel now has a new cell phone that cannot be tapped.” looks ridiculous enough, since this brand “new phone” uses the same-old Gemalto SIM-card. So the NSA can spy on Madam Chancellor as long as they see fit, while the general attorney sees nothing wrong about it. Well, perhaps, Germany has finally agreed to stand in line with the citizens of other countries and their political and business elites, eager to play the role of laboratory rats in the US intelligence surveillance game.
One would be surprised to learn that Gemalto is producing up to 2 billion SIM-cards per year, along with chips for bank cards and identity cards. According to many information security experts, US intelligence agencies, due to the encryption keys they’ve stolen are able to retrieve any information from mobile devices, bank cards, e-passports.
The Wall Street Journal reported the “successes” of US intelligence agencies in retrieving information from millions of US citizens’ cell phones back in 2014. Most of the US citizens are under constant control of the security forces, due to the surveillance systems that were mounted on light aircraft and drones, that was developed by Boeing, which allows to collect private data from dozens of thousands of mobile phones. In addition to the ability to establish whereabouts of a person, that can be tracked with the accuracy to within three meters, his phone can be remotely block, while all of information stored on it can be easily stolen.
On February 20, the spokesperson for the United States Department of State Jen Psaki in her typical manner complained about how difficult it is for the US to confronts thousands of hostile attacks in cyberspace. However, she has never mentioned the above listed facts and Washington’s paranoiac desire to dominate cyberspace.
Vladimir Platov, an expert on the Middle East, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”
The Burning Platform
by Jim Q
In Part One of this article I attempted to illuminate the concept of generational theory as articulated by Strauss and Howe in The Fourth Turning. In Part Two I provided proof this Crisis is far from over, with ever increasing debt, civic decay and global disorder propelling the world towards war.
Seeds of Crisis & War
“The seasons of time offer no guarantees. For modern societies, no less than for all forms of life, transformative change is discontinuous. For what seems an eternity, history goes nowhere – and then it suddenly flings us forward across some vast chaos that defies any mortal effort to plan our way there. The Fourth Turning will try our souls – and the saecular rhythm tells us that much will depend on how we face up to that trial. The saeculum does not reveal whether the story will have a happy ending, but it does tell us how and when our choices will make a difference.” – Strauss & Howe - The Fourth Turning
When you accept the fact history is cyclical and continuous linear progress is not what transpires in the real world, you free yourself from the mental debilitation of normalcy bias and cognitive dissonance. Things do get worse. There are dark periods of history and they recur on a regular cycle. And we are in the midst of one of those dark periods. This Crisis will not be resolved without much pain, sacrifice, bloodshed, and ultimately war. Catastrophe is a strong possibility. The core elements of this Crisis – debt, civic decay, global disorder – are coalescing into a perfect storm which will rage for the next ten to fifteen years. The rhythms of history only provide a guidepost of timing, while the specific events and outcomes are unknowable in advance. The regeneracy of society into a cohesive, unified community, supporting the government in a collective effort to solve society’s most fundamental problems seems to have been delayed. Or has it?
Maybe the answer can be found in the resolution of the last Fourth Turning. The seeds of the next crisis are always planted during the climax of the previous crisis, when the new social order is established. The American Revolution Crisis created a new nation, but left unresolved the issue of slavery. This seed grew to become the catalyst for the Civil War Crisis. The resolution of the Civil War Crisis greatly enhanced the power of the central government, while reducing the influence of the States. The rise of central authority led to the creation of the Federal Reserve, the implementation of income taxes to fund a vastly larger Federal government and the belief among the political class that America should intervene militarily in the affairs of other countries. The Great Depression was created by the monetary policies of the Federal Reserve; the New Deal programs were a further expansion of Federal government; FDR outlawed the ownership of gold; and America’s subsequent involvement in World War II created a military and economic superpower.
After sixty-two years of ever increasing debt; ever increasing taxes to support an ever growing governmental bureaucracy; ever expanding laws, regulations, and rules; currency debasement by the Federal Reserve; complete abandonment of the gold standard; and never ending wars of choice around the world, the next Crisis grew and blossomed from the seeds planted during the previous Crisis. The New Deal social programs, along with the extension of the welfare state by LBJ and subsequent administrations, have swelled to unprecedented unsustainable levels with unfunded liabilities exceeding $200 trillion. The promises cannot be fulfilled. The $18 trillion national debt increases by $2.3 billion per day; $96 million per hour; $1.6 million per minute; $27,000 per second. Does that sound sustainable? The legacy media sycophants cheer when consumer debt outstanding surges past $3.3 trillion, as their warped worldview applauds spending versus saving, consuming versus investing, and living for today rather than striving for a sustainable future.
The American people have lost their ability to think, reason, question, do math, control their urges, defer gratification, or realize when they are being lied to by the people they elected to public office. A culture of ignorance, celebration of the absurd, salutation of stupidity, honoring of the inane, being mesmerized by electronic gadgets, and satiating their egocentric shallow impulses on social media, is a sure recipe for societal collapse. Victory in World War II and becoming a modern day empire created the dynamic Eisenhower warned about. An immense military industrial complex has created enemies around the globe in order to keep the profits flowing in this welfare/warfare empire of debt. War is a racket for the rich. The peasants who buy into the incessant patriotic propaganda and volunteer are nothing but cannon fodder for the .1%. Keeping the masses fearful of phantom enemies and portraying foreign leaders as evil, is essential for the oligarchs to retain their wealth, power and control. Truth, facts, and long-term consequences are of no interest to the sociopaths running the show and pulling the levers. The dissent into darkness has been gradual and unnoticed by a purposefully distracted populace.
“As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we all must be most aware of change in the air – however slight – lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness.” ― Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas
What I’ve begun to realize about Fourth Turnings is how slow and methodical they are in reality. They will play out over twenty years at a pace dictated by events and the actions of the major players. I had been looking for a regeneracy event that would unify the country behind one leader. It is not to be. Since Fourth Turnings are driven by mood changes amongst the generational cohorts, the changes are subtle, incremental and not visible as identifiable events. Looking back in history, the election of FDR and the rollout of his New Deal policies began the regeneracy of the nation, but did not create unity or solve the economic problems of the country. There was an actual plot by prominent businessmen to conduct a coup and overthrow the government. A large contingent of the population did not support the New Deal or our entry into World War II.
The first battle of Bull Run and the subsequent mobilization of a half million more men by Lincoln marked the beginning of the regeneracy during the Civil War Crisis. It certainly did not unify the nation or even the North. It just marked the point where there would be no turning back or compromise. There were draft riots in New York City in 1863 and Lincoln thought he would lose the 1864 election. The Declaration of Independence and mobilization of an army in 1776 marked the regeneracy during the Revolutionary Crisis period, but did not unify the colonies or colonists into a cohesive unit. The Revolution was piloted by a minority of freedom minded colonists, while the majority remained neutral or obedient to the Crown.
I now believe the focus of this Fourth Turning will be the conflict between the government and its supporters, and those who oppose the welfare/warfare surveillance state controlled by Wall Street vested interests. The overbearing, militarized, captured Federal government has treated citizens like suspects since 2001. Those in the highest echelons of wealth and power have captured the three branches of government (executive, legislative, judicial) and are ruthlessly ransacking the remaining wealth of the nation. Their unquenchable desire for more wealth and power has never been more blatantly obvious than in the aftermath of the 2008 financial collapse created by their derivative orgy of debt which blew up in their faces.
All the “solutions” implemented since 2008 (TARP, ZIRP, QE1, QE2, QE3, $800 billion stimulus plan, government takeover of student loans, subprime auto loan bonanza, waging wars of choice, doubling of food stamp households, and the Wall Street foreclosure/buy/rent scheme) have been designed to benefit the vested interests in this corporate fascist authoritarian regime. The average person has been left nearly destitute, unemployed or underemployed, bereft of savings, stuck with declining real household income, and left with political candidates hand-picked and bought off by the men running the show behind the curtain. The mood of the country has darkened significantly since 2008 and will darken further when the bubbles in stocks, bonds and real estate, created by the “solutions”, pop simultaneous in the near future.
The wave of dismay, disillusionment and blinding rage that will sweep across the land will mark the next phase of this Fourth Turning. The mistrust and cynicism toward government and politicians has already reached historic highs. Congressional approval levels reached 56% in 2001 and have been in a downward spiral since, with a plunge to single digits since the 2008 Crisis began. The number of people classifying themselves as independents reached an all-time high of 47% in 2014, up from 27% in 2006. An awakening minority now realize Democrats and Republicans are nothing but brands appealing to liberals or conservatives, but representing the ruling Party and beholden to Wall Street, the military industrial complex, mega-corporations, and not the American people.
As trust in the political, economic and financial systems implodes, the existing social order will crumble and be swept away in a torrent of chaos and upheaval. Severe misery will settle on our land and tear the fabric of our society. Internal strife will be compounded by external threats, with citizens fighting each other and nations going to war on a large scale. It has happened before and it will happen again. The realization this Crisis would be driven by the conflict between government and the people occurred to me in 2013 when Edward Snowden revealed the depth and depravity of a government which believes it to not be bound by the constraints of the Constitution, laws, regulations, or human decency.
The political class, along with the government apparatchiks, protected by their propaganda mouthpieces in the media, used the 9/11 attack as the basis to implement command, control and surveillance measures which make Orwell’s Big Brother seem like amateur hour. The hyperbolic level of propaganda in support of the vested interests is actually a sign of weakness, as their grip on the masses is weakening rapidly. Chris Hedges explains Washington as it functions today:
“Washington has become our Versailles. We are ruled, entertained, and informed by courtiers — and the media has evolved into a class of courtiers. The Democrats, like the Republicans, are mostly courtiers. Our pundits and experts, at least those with prominent public platforms, are courtiers. We are captivated by the hollow stagecraft of political theater as we are ruthlessly stripped of power. It is smoke and mirrors, tricks and con games, and the purpose behind it is deception.
The mass media blindly support the ideology of corporate capitalism. They laud and promote the myth of American democracy—even as we are stripped of civil liberties and money replaces the vote. They pay deference to the leaders on Wall Street and in Washington, no matter how perfidious their crimes. They slavishly venerate the military and law enforcement in the name of patriotism.
They select the specialists and experts, almost always drawn from the centers of power, to interpret reality and explain policy. They usually rely on press releases, written by corporations, for their news. And they fill most of their news holes with celebrity gossip, lifestyle stories, sports and trivia. The role of the mass media is to entertain or to parrot official propaganda to the masses.
It plays an essential role in the dissemination of official propaganda. But to effectively disseminate state propaganda the press must maintain the fiction of independence and integrity. It must hide its true intentions.”
It isn’t hard to connect the dots if you choose to open your eyes and not be blinded by normalcy bias or the nationalist propaganda spewed by the mass media. Snowden’s revelations of an NSA global surveillance network spying on U.S. and foreign citizens and approved by the highest levels of government should have caused outrage and mass protests. Instead, the media propaganda arm portrayed Snowden as a traitor and spy. Snowden revealed that the NSA was harvesting millions of email and instant messaging contact lists, searching email content, tracking and mapping the location of cell phones, undermining attempts at encryption via Bullrun, and the agency was using cookies to “piggyback” on the same tools used by internet advertisers to pinpoint targets for government hacking and to bolster surveillance.
The NSA was shown to be “secretly” tapping into Yahoo and Google data centers to collect information from hundreds of millions of account holders worldwide by tapping undersea cables using the MUSCULAR surveillance program. The NSA’s top-secret “black budget,” obtained from Snowden by The Washington Post, exposed the “successes and failures” of the 16 spy agencies comprising the U.S. intelligence community, and revealed that the NSA was paying U.S. tech companies such as Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Verizon, and AT&T for “clandestine access” to their communications networks. Every electronic communication of every American is being collected by the government to be used at their discretion. It will be used against you when the time is right.
What kind of government clandestinely spies on its citizens; militarizes local police forces; conducts military training operations in major cities; wires its streets and highways with surveillance cameras; disperses peaceful protestors with water cannons, tear gas, pepper spray, and rubber bullets; and treats the U.S. Constitution like toilet paper? An authoritarian regime treats its people like this. Authoritarian regimes treat everyone like a potential enemy. They trust no one. Those in power care only for themselves and their lackeys.
The extreme wealth inequality created by dishonest means is leading towards strife and a systematic breakdown. Our entire system is built on lies, monetary machinations, propaganda and strict obedience to a vast array of laws, regulations and mandates. The ruling elite are desperate to keep their despotic bacchanal empire of debt from disintegrating in a catastrophic apocalypse of derivative time bombs, bank failures, corporate bankruptcies, and denial of their guilt. They recognize the consequences they face when the music stops. When people realize their money system is a fraud they’ll lose faith in all the institutions that make up a civilized society. Trust in politicians, corporate leaders, bankers, institutions, the media, parents, neighbors, and ourselves will evaporate in an instant. The anger and pursuit of those responsible will result in governmental collapse and domestic anarchy. The guilty and innocent alike will die.
Those in power are preparing for war – against you. Executive orders already in place, when executed, give the executive branch the ability to lockdown the country the same way they locked down Boston while bumbling about trying to capture two teenage kitchen utensil bombers. There are two things the ruling class fear the most – the internet and the approximately 300 million guns owned by citizens in 50 million households. The State, through the FCC, wants to “regulate” the internet to “protect” people from being told something other than what the State wants them to hear.
That First Amendment, with its free speech and freedom of assembly, is dreadfully inconvenient for the oligarchs. Truth and dissent will not be tolerated. Every mass shooting incident, caused by the shooters being pumped full of anti-psychotic prescription drugs, is used as an excuse to disarm the public. The Second Amendment right to bear arms makes it more difficult for government thugs to ignore the Fourth Amendment when they kick your door down during an illegal search and seizure operation. An armed populace is our only defense against the tyranny of a draconian government bent on retaining its stranglehold on the country.
After the 2008 financial collapse the guilty were not punished, prosecuted nor reproached for their criminally destructive schemes to loot the American people and the world. Instead they were bailed out, allowed to retain their wealth and power, and rewarded for their misdeeds with further riches provided by their politician puppets in Washington D.C. Evil won. The masses were frightened into keeping silent and believing bankers, politicians, and government bureaucrats had saved their world of bread (debt based consumption) and circuses (iGadgets & HDTVs). Ultimately, this Fourth Turning Crisis will come down to a battle between good and evil. It would be easy if the evil people revealed themselves and the good people could destroy them, but evil and good exist within all human beings.
As witnessed in previous Fourth Turnings, the majority will sit idly by paralyzed by fear or apathy. Most people wait to be led. But, as Samuel Adams profoundly noted:
“It does not take a majority to prevail … but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.”
The Federal and State government directly employs over 20 million Americans and millions more indirectly through their largess to arms dealers and other crony capitalist corporate entities. Over 145 million Americans receive a check of some sort from the Federal government every month, with over 100 million enrolled in a government welfare program. It is unlikely that many of these people will rise up against the government, unless their checks stop flowing (a distinct possibility). Every instance of governmental overreach, corruption, malfeasance, un-Constitutional act or ineptitude tips the scale further towards more people waking up and resisting. I believe the good in most people’s hearts outweighs the evil. Once a tipping point is reached and enough people defy the government, an avalanche of consequences will sweep away the existing social order. Justice for unborn generations will be sought. Keeping silent only allows the evil to grow ever more formidable and entrenched.
“In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface, we are implanting it, and it will rise up a thousand fold in the future. When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers, we are not simply protecting their trivial old age, we are thereby ripping the foundations of justice from beneath new generations.” – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956
In Part Four of this article I will focus on the drumbeats of war getting louder on a daily basis. Fourth Turnings always climax with war on a grand scale. There will be no escape.
by STEVE WATSON & DAVID KNIGHT
In a recent speech, former head of the NSA and the CIA Michael Hayden suggested that following the 9/11 attacks, he reinterpreted the US Constitution and “started to do different things,” without the authorization of Congress or the President.
Speaking at Washington and Lee University last week Hayden effectively said that he was able to rewrite the Constitution based on his own “mature judgment” of what is right and wrong.
He specifically noted that, in his own mind at least, Fourth Amendment protections are now open to interpretation.
The Atlantic has the story, noting:
In a speech at Washington and Lee University, Michael Hayden, a former head of both the CIA and NSA, opined on signals intelligence under the Constitution, arguing that what the 4th Amendment forbids changed after September 11, 2001. He noted that “unreasonable search and seizure,” is prohibited under the Constitution, but cast it as a living document, with “reasonableness” determined by “the totality of circumstances in which we find ourselves in history.”
He explained that as the NSA’s leader, tactics he found unreasonable on September 10, 2001 struck him as reasonable the next day, after roughly 3,000 were killed. “I actually started to do different things,” he said. “And I didn’t need to ask ‘mother, may I’ from the Congress or the president or anyone else. It was within my charter, but in terms of the mature judgment about what’s reasonable and what’s not reasonable, the death of 3,000 countrymen kind of took me in a direction over here, perfectly within my authority, but a different place than the one in which I was located before the attacks took place. So if we’re going to draw this line I think we have to understand that it’s kind of a movable feast here.”
Perhaps terrorists should take note. If you keep attacking the US, the people in charge, like Hayden, will keep systematically breaking down what were previously considered unalienable freedoms until they are completely gone – thus you, the terrorists, win.
Within the same twisted speech, Hayden also casually noted that since 9/11 the NSA has not only been spying on and monitoring bad guys, but also anyone it considers to be “interesting”.
“I am not a law enforcement officer. I don’t suspect anybody.” Hayden said, adding “I am simply going out there to retrieve information that helps keep my countrymen free and safe. This is not about guilt. In fact, let me be really clear. NSA doesn’t just listen to bad people. NSA listens to interesting people. People who are communicating information.”
So much for the age old justification of ‘if you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear’.
General Hayden. of course, has a track record of trashing the Constitution – it’s what brought him to the NSA gig in the first place.
He was the man who seriously argued, a decade ago, that there was no mention of “probable cause” in the Fourth Amendment, insisting that only ‘reasonable search and seizure’ was required in violating the privacy of Americans.
Hayden also contends that government secrecy is akin to an individual’s private privacy, and so the American public should not be privy to the actions of the NSA.
Hayden has also dubbed Edward Snowden worse than any American “traitor” ever, including Benedict Arnold, for blowing the whistle on government spying, and described Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, who broke the Snowden story, as a “co-conspirator”. Hayden intimated that he would like to see both added to a government ‘kill list’.
“D” Weapons Use Appliances to Spy on Homes, Internet as Cyber Battleground: “World War III is a Guerrilla Information War”
by Mac Slavo
Though it has remained officially unsaid, the powers that be have all-but-officially designated the American people as their enemy in a foggy battleground that has become global, nebulous, highly technological and extremely paranoid.
Homeland Security and FBI protocol have set the stage for profiling Americans as potential threats, while the rising police state have often cracked down with a heavy hand and perhaps a SWAT raid. The War on Terror, global jihad, cyber attacks and a new Cold War have all contributed the necessary pretexts for an atmosphere of control and preemptive suspicion that seemingly justifies total surveillance of the population.
USCYBERCOM, activated by the federal government in 2009 and operated by the director of the NSA, adds a whole new dimension to that, by bringing home – to computer screens and devices everywhere – the cyberwar.
And since that time, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange became the first civilian designated, according to declassified information, as a military-designated “enemy of the state.” Many SWAT raids, FBI and police visits have now resulted from alleged threatening or offensive Internet activity. Likewise, StuxNet became the first major cyber attack against Iran, a (perceived) military threat. More recently, we’ve seen major cyber warfare exchanges with North Korea, resulting in an Internet blackout there following the SONY hacking scandal and diplomatic standoff over a Hollywood film.
As Daniel Taylor, of Old Thinker News, points out, the militarization and weaponization of the digital space has been a long time coming, and it might mutate into a conflict wide enough to involve you and your online activities. His article, “NSA Cyber War Will Use Internet of Things as Weapons Platform; Your Home is the Battlefield” argues:
As time goes on it will be readily apparent to the masses that the monumental surveillance architecture that will catalog and track the population is nothing more than an attempt at full spectrum domination.
New Snowden documents recently revealed that the NSA is getting ready for future digital wars as the agency postures itself in an aggressive manner towards the world. “The Five Eyes Alliance“, a cooperation between United States, Canada, Britain, Australia, and New Zealand, is working hard to develop these weapons of Cyber Warfare.
So called “D” weapons, as reported by Der Spiegel, will paralyze computer networks and infrastructure that they monitor. Water supplies, factories, airports, as well as the flow of money are all potential targets.
Simultaneously, while handing out tech goodies to consumers, the American people have also become their dupes, their sheep and their eyes. Through the digitalization of the planet, cyberspace has brought home a front that is equal parts transformative, enticing and eerily grim.
The Edward Snowden leaks constituted notice to the world that all things digital are subject to surveillance – a total and complete surveillance that includes the participation of the population who, through carrying various “smart” devices that capture data, images and audio for meta-analysis – are feeding the powers that be with vast catalogs of spy information – including valuable proprietary consumer data. Taylor notes:
The NSA’s Cyber Weapons program will undoubtedly exploit these devices, which include household appliances, and, frighteningly, medical devices that can be hacked. Pacemakers can be remotely stopped, and insulin pumps can be made to deliver a lethal dose of insulin. With the advent of implantable devices that communicate via Wifi, the potential for manipulation and hacking is growing exponentially.
If the developers of these internet connected devices don’t willingly work with the NSA to place back-doors in the technology, the agency is hard at work trying to find and exploit them.
Through the emerging Internet of Things (IoT), household appliances, smart meters, street lights and more will create a total digital picture of life, capturing real time data per appliance that creates a total information grid. Taylor writes:
The Der Spiegel report does not mention the wider issue of the expanding network of everyday objects and appliances that are connected to the internet. According to CIA chief David Patraeus the Internet of Things will have a monumental impact on “clandestine tradecraft.” Richard Adhikari writes for Tech News World that the Internet of Things is “…ripe for exploitation by the NSA”
Consumer appliances are now becoming activated and “smart.” RFID chips and wireless internet connections enable devices like televisions, refrigerators, printers, and computers to communicate with each other and generally make life easier for us. This comes at a price, however. Your privacy is eliminated.
This digital surveillance age does not make spying on persons of interest merely possible or probable in any theoretical sense. Instead, it is a living matrix that defaults to spying. It is set up to flag aberrant and eccentric behavior and patterns, and will prompt a due response – whether you have done anything wrong or not.
The scheduled blurring of legitimate military targets and average civilian members of the population will present a different type of war, with weaponized information and data. Putting it all in perspective, Taylor cites a media pioneer from a time before the digital age had dawned:
“World War III is a guerrilla information war with no division between military and civilian participation.” – Marshall McLuhan, Culture is Our Business, 1970
Such a war will likely be the ultimate battle between the individual and the state. Unless stopped or slowed, it will accomplish, systematically, what no Cold War secret agency working on the ground and in the shadows could ever hope to gain.
Remember when President Obama told Jay Leno (and the world) with a smiling face that “there is no spying on Americans”? Not only was that untrue, but it is now clear that it was blatantly false on so very many levels.
The cell phone interceptor scandal has now become scales worse, with revelations that the Justice Dept. has been scooping Americans’ data in major cities across the nation with secret flights by the tens of thousands, continuously. And that’s without them admitting how far this has gone. Yikes.
As if the state of the surveillance society wasn’t bad enough, this has come to light, via Fox News:
The Justice Department is scooping up data from thousands of cellphones through fake communications towers deployed on airplanes, a high-tech hunt for criminal suspects that is snagging large number of innocent Americans, according to people familiar with the operations.
The U.S. Marshals Service program, which became fully functional around 2007, operates Cessna aircraft from at least five metropolitan-area airports, with a flying range covering most of the U.S. population, according to people familiar with the program.
Planes are equipped with devices—some known as “dirtboxes” to law-enforcement officials because of the initials of the Boeing Co. unit that produces them—which mimic cell towers of large telecommunications firms and trick cellphones into reporting their unique registration information.
The technology in the two-foot-square device enables investigators to scoop data from tens of thousands of cellphones in a single flight, collecting their identifying information and general location, these people said.
That just follows the series of revelations concerning secretive on-the-ground interceptors – known as Sting Ray – that also mimic cell phone towers and force devices to share data with police departments, the FBI and/or various other unknown entities (perhaps foreign governments, the NSA or private firms?).
According to the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC):
A StingRay is a device that can triangulate the source of a cellular signal by acting “like a fake cell phone tower” and measuring the signal strength of an identified device from several locations. With StingRays and other similar “cell site simulator” technologies, Government investigators and private individuals can locate, interfere with, and even intercept communications from cell phones and other wireless devices. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) has used such cell site simulator technology to track and locate phones and users since at least 1995.
As Melissa Melton previously wrote:
According to the Associated Press, the Obama Administration has been actively advising police departments to refuse disclosure about certain cell phone surveillance technologies, including the widely used “StingRay” device, even in routine state records requests.
Instead, police are bypassing company assistance and collecting unique information on suspects, persons of interests, and – as the AP reports – they can even “sweep up basic cellphone data from entire neighborhoods,” all without any court orders or oversight.
The Edward Snowden leaks proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the NSA has zero regard for the privacy of Americans.
Now, it is also crystal clear that the Justice Department and FBI (and
perhaps likely most assuredly other law enforcement agencies) have no regard, either. Not for Americans. Not for privacy. Not for the law. Not for due process. And certainly not for the constitutional republic they were ostensibly created to serve.
In these troubled times, it is at least good to know that former NSA chief Gen. Keith Alexander has found a lucrative gig advising Wall Street on cybersecurity using NSA data and employees who are also simultaneously top NSA officials.
No conflict of interest, no breach of duty to see here. Move along.
The New American
by Thomas R. Eddlem
The NSA and the National Director of Intelligence have consistently denied that they listen to the content of Americans’ telephone calls, but the history of intelligence agency claims about the scope of its spying on Americans is one of lies and more lies. So the question must be asked: Are they lying again with respect to recording the content of Americans’ phone calls?
The answer to that question may be “yes,” and it may be “no.” But there’s also a possible “technically, no” response to that question that’s even more frightening, for which there is a substantial amount of circumstantial evidence. First, here are a few of the blatant lies the U.S. intelligence apparatus has publicly told to the American people:
Lie #1: We are not keeping Americans’ phone data.
During a March 12, 2013 Senate hearing, Senator Ron Wyden asked U.S. Intelligence Director James Clapper: “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” Admiral James Clapper replied: “No, sir.”
Several months later, NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed to the American people that Clapper’s statement was a bold-faced lie. The NSA had, in fact, been collecting data on hundreds of millions of Americans under a program named PRISM, a program NSA documents revealed that also collected Internet traffic “directly from the servers of these U.S. Service Providers: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple.” And copies of that database, it was later learned, are sent to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. James Bamford over at The Intercept likewise revealed on October 2, 2014 a 40-year history of the NSA releasing documented lies to both the American people and to Congress.
Lie #2: We can’t grab Americans’ e-mails.
NSA Director General Keith Alexander told U.S. House investigators on March 20, 2012, that the NSA didn’t have the “ability” to wiretap Americans’ telephone calls:
Representative Hank Johnson (D-Ga.): General Alexander, if Dick Cheney were elected president and wanted to detain and incessantly waterboard every American who sent an email making fun of his well-known hunting mishaps, what I’d like to know is, does the NSA have the technological capacity to identify those Cheney bashers based upon the content of their emails? Yes or no.
General Alexander: No. Can I explain that?
Representative Johnson: Yes.
General Alexander: The question is where are the emails and where is NSA’s coverage. I assume by your question that those emails are in the United States.
Representative Johnson: Correct.
General Alexander: NSA does not have the ability to do that in the United States.
The reality is that the NSA does possess the technical ability to record Americans, and former NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s revelations proved that hundreds of thousands of Americans’ telephone conversations have been “legitimately” recorded by the NSA because one party of the call was abroad. Moreover, thousands of innocent Americans’ e-mails have been monitored by the NSA, according to information provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden. Indeed, the capacity to wiretap American’s phone lines and record the full audio from them is present on a widespread basis, as the NSA program SOMALGET wiretaps the full audio from every call in and out of the nation of the Bahamas (and the NSA grabs metadata from the same program from all calls in Mexico, Kenya, and the Philippines).
Lie #3: CIA wouldn’t hack into U.S. Senate computers.
As the U.S. Senate conducted its oversight of the Bush-era detention policies under the CIA, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) charged the CIA with spying on Senate computers and deleting material on those U.S. Senate computers. “As far as the allegations of the CIA hacking into Senate computers, nothing could be further from the truth,” CIA Director John Brennan told Andrea Mitchell at a Council on Foreign Relations forum March 11, 2014. It later came out that Feinstein’s charges were the precise truth, and Brennan had told a bold-faced lie.
Lie #4: NSA wiretapping authority has never been abused.
“There is no abuse,” former NSA Director Michael Hayden told NBC’s Meet the Press on December 15, 2013. President Obama himself denied the NSA had abused its surveillance capabilities in an address to the nation on August 9, 2013: “If you look at the reports — even the disclosures that Mr. Snowden has put forward — all the stories that have been written, what you’re not reading about is the government actually abusing these programs and listening in on people’s phone calls or inappropriately reading people’s emails. What you’re hearing about is the prospect that these could be abused. Now, part of the reason they’re not abused is because these checks are in place, and those abuses would be against the law and would be against the orders of the FISC.”
But it soon came out that there have been thousands of cases of abuse of that intelligence on American citizens from internal NSA reviews of the information. In some cases, this involved taking audio from telephone calls of Americans by suspicious lovers in the employ of the NSA, according to a summary provided to Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa): “In 2004, upon her return from a foreign site, the subject reported to NSA Security that, in 2004, she tasked a foreign telephone number she had discovered in her husband’s cellular telephone because she suspected that her husband had been unfaithful. The tasking resulted in voice collection of her husband.”
So in light of the many lies of our intelligence officials and the politicians overseeing them, it’s quite possible that the NSA could be lying — again — with respect to its gathering, retention and search of Americans’ conversations as it did with phone records “metadata.”
Tag-team Approach to Surveilling Americans
But there’s another possible explanation for the NSA following legal protocol, as claimed in public, where it nevertheless has indirect access to Americans’ phone calls: It’s possible the NSA has an agreement with foreign intelligence agencies to spy on Americans in exchange for U.S. surveillance of their populations, with an agreement to exchange the information. Consider the possibility that the NSA — which like the all-seeing eye of Sauron in the Lord of the Rings trilogy — is faced outward surveilling the world while the other two pairs of the “Five Eyes” partners (the U.K., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand) are focused inward on the NSA’s one blind spot: the United States. This may sound like a far-out conspiracy theory, but statements of partnership between the United States and it allies — especially its Anglo “Five Eyes” allies — make such an arrangement plausible in light of existing legal restrictions against surveilling American citizens.
The NSA has paid hundreds of millions of dollars to “Five Eyes” partner GCHQ in Britain because GCHQ is “less constrained by NSA’s concerns about compliance,” according to intelligence officials who talked off the record with London’s The Guardian for August 1, 2013. Of course, there are no restrictions whatsoever on NSA surveillance of foreigners; the only surveillance restrictions on the NSA are those against recording the audio of Americans’ phone calls. According to The Guardian, the federal funding of British intelligence “exploited to the full our unique selling points of geography, partnerships [and] the UK’s legal regime.” The chief benefit of geography is that Britain is not constrained by legal restrictions on spying on Americans. A British Cabinet official told The Guardian after the Edward Snowden revelations that “joint projects in which resources and expertise are pooled, but the benefits flow in both directions.”
GCHQ has already acknowledged collecting massive Internet information on British citizens under its blanket authority under U.K. law to collect “external communications.” What’s to stop them from also collecting the Facebook and Google traffic of Americans? Clearly, Americans’ phone calls and e-mails are “external” to the U.K. But without American assistance, the British government likely lacked the technical capability for such massive surveillance, or perhaps lacked the will to invest this level of funds to surveil the people of an ally. In this light, the massive NSA aid to GCHQ and the close partnership with the Five Eyes countries could be explained. Two pair of the Five Eyes are quite possibly charged with surveilling Americans, and then coordinating with their American counterparts in order to skate around what little is left of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibiting warrantless searches. In exchange, the NSA shares information on their people, as well as information on other nations where the United States surveils and our allies don’t have surveillance capabilities.
Similar relationships have been reported among America’s other allies. The Washington Post reported on October 30, 2013, “In France, the daily Le Monde reported Wednesday that France’s external intelligence agency collaborated with the United States starting at the end 2011 or beginning of 2012 to provide a window into Internet traffic flowing via underwater cables that surface in France…. The cables carry much of the Internet traffic that flows to Africa and Afghanistan, the newspaper said. In exchange for allowing access to the traffic, the NSA provided information about areas of the world where France has no intelligence presence, the newspaper reported.” What areas that involved, the article didn’t specify. Clearly there are many areas the massive resources of the NSA could help the French intelligence agencies. But if the French intelligence agencies are willing to sell out the privacy of their people in exchange for more intelligence sharing, why should American intelligence agencies be immune from such a deal?
Indeed, American intelligence officials have publicly expressed a rather blasé attitude toward foreign intelligence agencies spying on Americans. In an October 29, 2013, hearing before the House Select Committee on Intelligence, Director of Intelligence James Clapper responded to this question from Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.):
Mike Rogers: Do you believe that the allies have conducted or at any time any type of espionage activity against the United States of America — our intelligence services, our leaders, otherwise?
Clapper: Absolutely…. And I have to say, Chairman Rogers, that some of this reminds me a lot of the movie Casablanca. “My God, there’s gambling going on here!” You know, it’s the same kind of thing.
The statement above proves that Clapper is aware of allied intelligence agencies spying on Americans, an activity the agencies he controls are prohibited from doing. But it also leaves open the question of how much of that spying (and sharing of that intelligence) is done on a formalized partnership basis, and how much is done on an ad hoc basis. If the NSA is lying about its restraint from collecting the audio of Americans’ phone calls, a vigorous partnership of “we’ll spy on you, if you’ll spy on us” would be unnecessary, as would hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to GCHQ. But if the NSA wants to surveil Americans while at the same time formally complying with their public pronouncements, focusing two pair of the “Five Eyes” back on Americans becomes a real possibility.
The extent of foreign surveillance of American phone calls is not known, and won’t be known without an Edward Snowden-like whistleblower from GCHQ or one of the other Five Eyes partners. But it’s clear that Congress should not take the NSA’s public pronouncements at face value, but should investigate the level of foreign surveillance of Americans.
New Eastern Outlook
by Christof Lehmann
Google’s Safe Browsing List that blocks websites and flags them as containing malware is increasingly used as mechanism for the censoring of independent media and the falsification of history. It is an alarming development that, left unchallenged, puts the survival of any independent newspaper, blog, TV or radio station at risk.. Over the past months the list has apparently been used to target websites critical of U.S.’ involvement in the wars in the Middle East, U.S.’ involvement in Ukraine and independent media who are publishing material that is critical of Zionism.
Google’s Safe Browsing List translates into the blocking of websites which allegedly contain malware. Instead of showing the website one is presented with a red-colored Google page that warns that the URL in question has been blocked because it contains malware. Ultimately, being flagged on the list can also result in the removal of the flagged websites from Google’s search engine. Being flagged, blocked or removed from search engines can have devastating results for independent journalists and media who are struggling to finance investigative journalism, rather than regurgitating alternative versions of Reuters and other major news agencies. The targeting of independent media and journalists is especially noteworthy when one considers Google’s close cooperation with the United States’ National Security Agency (NSA).
Incestuous Relationships between Google, Apple, Microsoft, their Subsidiaries, and the NSA.
Google’s close cooperation with the NSA is a well-documented fact. An article from May 7, entitled ”Is Google in cahoots with the NSA? Email leak reveals close relationship”, published in Tech Times, reveals that the close cooperation between Google and the NSA was documented long before NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden told the world what most who cared to investigate already knew. The article quotes emails between NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander and Google executives Sergey Brin and Eric Schmidt from 2011 and 2012. Tech Times states:
”In the mails, the Google executives sound friendly and cooperative. Alexander’s emails hint at the importance of ´Google’s participation in refinement, engineering and deployment of solutions`to cyber threats”.
The article also details the fact that the NSA chief had invited CEOs of key companies including Google, Apple, and Microsoft to classified briefings. What is important about these three key corporations cooperation with the NSA is that they are economically interrelated with most other, commercial Internet providers, including web-hosting companies, firms which provide Internet security products, as well as advertising companies who sell advertising on everything from blogs over smaller independent media to major corporate newspapers. The following are recent examples, which demonstrate how this incestuous relationship translates into the targeting of independent media, censorship and the falsification of history.
October 6, nsnbc received an e-mail from the Internet security provider SiteLock, warning that there was a serious malware issue pertaining some articles published in nsnbc. SiteLock stressed that the issue had to be resolved within 72 hours if nsnbc international wanted to avoid being added to Google’s Safe Browsing List and have the site withdrawn from nsnbc’s web-host, which among many other web hosts is a business partner of Site Lock.
So what was the alleged threat and what is the real threat – to the USA?
A full security scan conducted by nsnbc with the newspaper’s own security software revealed that several articles had been flagged as containing malware. Among them were six articles which had been published on the renown independent on-line newspaper Voltairenet. All of the articles which had been flagged as containing malware dealt with illegal U.S. Involvement in the Syria war and illegal U.S. Involvement in Ukraine.
Another article that was flagged as containing malware was the article ”Palestine Israel History and Theirstory”. The article was originally published in nsnbc and it has been republished in numerous other independent media, including the International Middle East Media Center (IMEMC), Sabbah Report, and about 100 independent blogs. The reason why this particular article was flagged as containing malware was that it contained a link to the publication ”Der Ewige Jude” a racist, supremacist propaganda book published by the German Nazi Party during WWII.. The article documents the systematic dehumanization of Arabs by Zionists and Hollywood, and compares the dehumanization with that Nazis practiced against Jews and Slavic people.
Our scan further revealed that an article by the Bangkok based, independent analyst, editor of LandDetstroyer Report, and contributor to New Eastern Outlook, nsnbc and other, Tony Cartalucci, also was on the list of flagged articles. The article is entitled ”America’s Nazis in Kiev: ”Russians are Subhuman”. The article was published in New Eastern Outlook, and was republished in LandDestroyer and nsnbc international. Tony Cartalucci demonstrates the Nazi ideology of post-coup Ukrainian PM Arseny Yatzenyuk by quoting Yatzenyuk, and referring to the Nazi pamphlet ”Der Untermensch”, so one could understand that Yatzenyuk’s quote directly reflects the racist and supremacist ideology that was spread in ”Der Untermensch”, which translates into ”The Subhuman”. Also here, nsnbc has to remove the URL to the pamphlet and any media that continues carrying the URL risks, knowingly or not, to be added to Google’s ”Safe Browsing List” to have the newspaper’s, journal’s or blogs website flagged as containing malware, and to be removed or at the very least significantly down-graded in Google’s search engine.
The real threat is, in other words, the threat that direct U.S. Collaboration with terrorists in Syria and Nazis in Ukraine is disclosed to a growing number of readers who have become suspicious about the accuracy of mainstream, corporate, state and foundation funded media. nsnbc did not respond to the initial SiteLock email but received a second email from SiteLock, late at night on October 8. In the mail SiteLock’s Website Security Consultant Hubert Robinson wrote:
”My name is Hugh with SiteLock I recently left you a message regarding the status of your web domain, nsnbc.me During a recent SiteLock security scan of your website, malware was detected that could jeopardize the safety of your website and your data. I wanted to reach out before Google blacklist the site or before your Hosting provider pulls the site down for being infected. …. Please contact me immediately at 602-753-3929, so that I can help you secure your website as soon as possible”.
We conducted an additional security scan with nsnbc’s own software and didn’t identify additional ”threats”, other than those articles by Voltairenet, nsnbc, LandDestroyer Report and New Eastern Outlook which documented U.S.’ collaboration with wanted Al-Qaeda terrorists in Syria and Iraq, the article that documented that Zionist and Nazi ideology in large parts are identical, and the article which disclosed the Nazi ideology of Ukrainian PM Arseny Yatzenyuk whom the U.S.’ administrations attempt to pass off as ”house trained”.
After nsnbc had de-activated the links to the URLs which allegedly contain malware, nsnbc wrote three mails to SiteLock’s Website Security Consultant Huge Grant, asking, among others, whether they could be more specific about which malware the flagged sites allegedly contained. We also asked whether SiteLock has a direct or indirect corporate partnership with Google, and for the name and contact details of SiteLock’s CEO. SiteLock failed to respond. SiteLock also failed to inform nsnbc whether the deactivation of the flagged URL’s was ”sufficient” or whether they perceived other ”threats” to our ”security”.
Infecting Independent Media with Malware via Add Companies.
In February 2013, nsnbc was suddenly taken off-line and flagged as containing malware by Google’s Safe Browsing List. The incident occurred about 20 minutes after nsnbc published an article entitled ”US’ Victoria Nuland about Ukraine ´Fuck the EU`. The article contained a covertly recorded and leaked phone conversation between the U.S. State Department’s Victoria Nuland and U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt. The conversation revealed that the U.S.’ was directly involved in the micro-management of the coup d’état in Ukraine.
nsnbc immediately investigated the reason for the closure of the newspaper’s website. The result of the investigation was that nsnbc’ at that time advertising partner, MadAdsMedia, which is heavily economically dependent on cooperation with Google and Google’s AdSense, had inserted an add that contained a Java Script with malware”. Contacting MadAdsMedia resulted in their consultant explaining that they were ”terribly sorry for the incident and any inconvenience it had caused us, assured that they were removing the add that contained malware and advised us how to contact Google to have the newspaper removed from Google’s Safe Browsing List”.
nsnbc contacted MadAdsMedia and politely asked whether they would be so kind to send us detailed information about which add it was that had contained the malware, and documentation for who it was that had placed the malware, and on which websites. MadAdsMedia failed to respond to at least three polite reminders by email and several phone calls. What MadAdsMedia did, however, was to inform nsnbc that it had decided not to serve any adds to nsnbc any longer and that they had moved us to another company whom we could contact if we wanted. In practical terms, the incident translates into this:
A minor advertising company that is heavily dependent on serving adds via a partnership with Google denies to answer justified questions and responds to the audacity to continue asking them by withdrawing an independent newspaper’s only source of income, from one day to the other, without prior notice.
Facebook’s ”soft” censorship?
On September 5, New Eastern Outlook contributor and editor of LandDestroyer, Tony Cartalucci, published an article entitled ”Beware: Facebook’s ´Soft Censorship`”. Cartalucci stressed that LandDestroyer Report had maintained a Facebook page under the name Anthony Cartalucci since 2009. Many of the readers of LandDestroyer Report used Facebook as a means of accessing the LD Reports articles. Tony Cartalucci wrote:
”Today, Facebook, without prior warning or opportunity to appeal, decided that the Facebook account must be changed over to a page. By doing so, all those following my account no longer would receive updates, because of Facebook’s ´news feeds`filter”.
Note that one of Tony Cartalucci’s articles also was among those flagged by SiteLock as containing malware. Moreover, Tony Cartalucci’s experience with Facebook’s ”soft censorship” as he described it, is not unprecedented. Two of nsnbc editor Christof Lehmann’s Facebook accounts were closed or blocked by Facebook within a period of less than twelve months. The accounts were not only used personally, but as a basis for a nsnbc Facebook page – one of that type Facebook demanded that Tony Cartalucci should open.
Facebook’s way of blocking these two accounts were simple. Facebook demanded that a large number of ”friend’s” profile photos were matched with the correct names of these ”friends”. Now, consider 1,000 ”friends or followers”, and many of them using anything but their own portrait as profile photo. It is needless to say that solving that ”quiz” is impossible.
A concerted U.S.’ effort to censor, target independent media economically, withdraw their reader base, and falsify history.
Let us sum up some of the main issues. The incestuous relationship between the NSA and major corporations like Google, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft is a well-documented fact. Many of the smaller companies, including web-hosting companies, Internet security providers, and advertising companies are either in part owned by one of these major corporations ore they are heavily dependent on cooperation and partnerships with them for their economic survival. nsnbc has already experienced being closed down and have its only source of income withdrawn from one day to the other. Others, including Voltairenet have regularly been flagged as containing malware. Media like New Eastern Outlook, IMEMC, and others risk being targeted in similar manner. Others whom Google and a U.S. Senate Hearing falsely accused of containing malware are The Drudge Report and Infowars. One can only guess how many of the smaller blogs, who are too small to raise alarm bells have been targeted. The conclusion is that the United States is engaged in an aggressive campaign that targets independent media and falsifies history. The question is, whether independent media have the political will to stand united and addressing the problem and in using the fact that they serve a growing part of , for example, the advertising market as leverage.
Dr. Christof Lehmann an independent political consultant on conflict and conflict resolution and the founder and editor in chief of nsnbc, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.
New Eastern Outlook
by Tony Cartalucci
The Washington Times in an article titled, “Intel believes 300 Americans fighting with Islamic State, posing threat to U.S.,” makes the incredible claim that:
The U.S. government is tracking and gathering intelligence on as many as 300 Americans who are fighting side by side with the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria and are poised to become a major threat to the homeland, according to senior U.S. officials.
Officials say concern is widespread in Washington that radicalized foreign fighters could return to the homeland and commit terrorist attacks with skills acquired overseas, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the information. Those concerns were heightened by the disclosure Tuesday that a California man was killed fighting alongside militants with the group, also known as ISIS.
It is incredible because the United States’ National Security Agency (NSA) has not only been tapping and recording phone conversations of Americans for years, but also tracking phone locations as well. How is it that this massive, invasive, illegal, abhorrent surveillance control grid can be put in place, sold to the public as a necessity to “protect Americans” and “national security,” yet miss entire battalions of Americans signing up for and joining overseas, a terrorist organization like the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS)?
If the very scenarios the NSA uses to justify its abhorrent means have unfolded unimpeded, revealed only by “chance” with the passport of an American turning up in the pockets of dead terrorists upon an alleged battlefield in Syria, either the NSA’s existence serves another purpose, or the narrative we are being fed regarding the true nature of ISIS is a lie, or the most likely scenario – both.
Not the First Fit of Feigned Ignorance
The very appearance of ISIS on the battlefields of Iraq and Syria allegedly took the US intelligence community by surprise. The unlikely narrative was designed entirely to maintain plausible deniability between ISIS mercenaries and their paymasters in Washington, London, Brussels, Riyadh, Doha, and Ankara respectively. In reality, headlines over the past 3-4 years such as, “C.I.A. Said to Aid in Steering Arms to Syrian Opposition,” “First Syria rebels armed and trained by CIA ‘on way to battlefield’,” “Arms Airlift to Syria Rebels Expands, With Aid From C.I.A.,” and “Official says CIA-funded weapons have begun to reach Syrian rebels; rebels deny receipt,” indicate precisely how and from where the immense, multinational ISIS mercenary force originated.
The US has yet to account how its CIA could be operating within territory held by ISIS – including all along the Turkish-Syrian border and within Turkish territory itself – and neither know the existence, movements, or intentions of ISIS forces.
Between NSA surveillance at home, and the CIA operating side-by-side with ISIS and other Al Qaeda-linked terrorist organizations, the sudden revelations that Americans are fighting within ISIS’ ranks seem to be more a matter of politically-motivated propaganda, timed perfectly to justify US military intervention in Syria, than a case of yet another convenient lapse in American intelligence.
Washington Menacing America With Its Own Mercenaries
Indeed, in order for the US to begin military operations in Syria under the guise of fighting ISIS forces, it must first demonstrate the threat ISIS poses to America. Already, likely false flags serving ISIS no benefit, but giving the US the green light to begin military operations in Syria have begun making their rounds across Western media. A CBS/Associated Press story titled, “Former Deputy CIA Director: ‘I Would Not Be Surprised’ If ISIS Member Shows Up To US Mall Tomorrow With AK-47,” claims:
“The short-term concern is the Americans that have gone to fight with ISIS and the west Europeans that have gone to fight with ISIS could be trained and directed by ISIS to come to the United States to conduct small-scale attacks,” Morell stated. “If an ISIS member showed up at a mall in the United States tomorrow with an AK-47 and killed a number of Americans, I would not be surprised.”
Morell warned that over the long-term the extremist group could be planning for a 9/11-style attack that killed thousands of Americans.
The same report would also claim:
The United States launched a new barrage of airstrikes Wednesday against the Islamic State extremist group that beheaded American journalist James Foley and that has seized a swath of territory across Iraq and Syria. President Barack Obama vowed relentless pursuit of the terrorists and the White House revealed that the U.S. had launched a secret rescue mission inside Syria earlier this summer that failed to rescue Foley and other Americans still being held hostage.
The current justification for ongoing preparations against Syria has been the Foley execution video, which experts have agreed upon was staged. The London Telegraph in its article, “Foley murder video ‘may have been staged’,” would state:
Analysts believe the British jihadi in the video may not have been James Foley’s killer, although it is accepted that the journalist was murdered.
Of course, if the video was staged, and every claim about it made by ISIS thus far proven a fabrication, no evidence at all suggests when and where, or even if Foley was murdered. If he was, no evidence suggests by whom. And despite this revelation, the US continues building momentum to intervene in Syria.
Imperialism Hiding Behind Righteousness
Several years and hundreds of millions of dollars later, ISIS is clearly the product of long-laid Western designs to overthrow the Syrian government and reorder the Middle East as warned by the prophetic 2007 9-page report titled, “The Redirection: Is the Administration’s new policy benefitting our enemies in the war on terrorism?,” written by Seymour Hersh and published in the New Yorker. In it Hersh warned about a cataclysmic sectarian war that would ravage the entire region, targeting not only Syria and neighboring Lebanon, but also Iran. He also warned that it was an intentionally engineered conspiracy between the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Israel, with many smaller regional players serving in supporting roles.
With the emergence of ISIS creating the very cataclysmic sectarian conflagration warned about in Hersh’s 2007 report, with no other credible explanation to account for ISIS’ incredible size, strength, and success beyond multinational state-sponsorship, Hersh’s reportage has once again been vindicated.
It is clear that the US has created ISIS, and is to this day using it as both a means to target and attack its enemies across the Middle East, as well as serve as a pretext for direct US military intervention when proxy wars flounder. It is also being used in a third context – on the domestic front – as a manufactured and perpetual threat with which to further justify the militarization and centralization of America’s police forces and the continued expansion of the NSA’s invasive domestic spying.
It is also clear that all of this adds up not to promoting freedom and democracy abroad while ensuring national security at home, but rather achieving full-spectrum domination in regions abroad and over the population at home. It is naked hegemony and imperialism playing dress-up in the wardrobe of righteousness.
Top NSA Whistleblower: We Need a New 9/11 Investigation Into the Destruction of the World Trade Center
The Observable Facts Were Ignored …
Bill Binney is the NSA’s former senior technical director, 32-year NSA veteran widely regarded as a “legend” within the agency, one of the world’s top crypto-mathematicians, who managed thousands of employees at the agency.
Binney was the original NSA whistleblower, and one of two NSA veterans whose example inspired Edward Snowden.
Binney recently signed Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth’s petition, stating:
There is clearly evidence that needs to be considered in a review of what happened in 9/11. We the public deserve an honest complete review of the facts with scientific interpretation and implications as to what really happened.
Two days ago, Binney said in an interview that speaking with physicists and controlled demolition experts convinced him that the investigations to date have – at best - been incompetent, and failed to address the observable facts:
They felt they had to have something drastic happen so they could get a lot more money and build up an empire and do the things they wanted to do.
Washington’s Blog asked Binney what he meant by that statement, and he explained:
I had several reasons for saying that. First, Gen Minihan when he was Dirnsa [Director of the National Intelligence Agency] was internally in NSA quoted to say that we will have to have a drastic event occur before we could change the way we were doing things. Then Hayden took over as Dirnsa.
This all smacked of waiting for something to happen so they could leverage it to do what they really wanted to do – which was evidenced by the request to Quest.
Also, I would add that the 9/11 Commission left out data that Tom Drake passed to them showing vital data prior to 11 Sep giving warning of an attack. This should also not be acceptable. [Background.]
For background on Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, watch this C-Span interview and this documentary.
Postscript: Government officials agree that 9/11 was state-sponsored terrorism … they just disagree on which state was responsible.
SPIES ARE MANIPULATING THE WEB
Newly-released documents from Edward Snowden show that the British spy agency GCHQ has developed numerous offensive digital tools.
In part one, we quote verbatim in black the names and descriptions of some of these tools – some of which Glenn Greenwald didn’t highlight in his report – and provide descriptions in blue of potential misuses of such tools.
In part two, we discuss how likely such misuses really are.
TOOLS AND POTENTIAL MISUSES
CHANGELING: Ability to spoof any email address and send email under that identity
Fake an email from a privacy advocate to make it look like he’s proposing terrorism.
SCRAPHEAP CHALLENGE: Perfect spoofing of emails from Blackberry targets
Fake an email from an opponent of unregulated fracking to make it look like she’s proposing blowing up a well.
BURLESQUE: The capacity to send spoofed SMS messages
Fake a message from an environmental activist to make it look like he’s advocating sabotage.
IMPERIAL BARGE : For connecting two target phone together in a call
Fake a telephone connection to make it look like an anti-war campaigner spoke with a bigwig in Al Qaeda.
BADGER : Mass delivery of email messaging to support an Information Operations campaign
Send out a fake, mass email pretending to be from a whistleblower “admitting” that he’s mentally unstable and vindictive.
WARPATH: Mass delivery of SMS messages to support an Information Operations campaign.
Send out a fake, mass message pretending to be from a whistleblower “admitting” he’s a Russian spy.
SPACE ROCKET: A programme covering insertion of media into target networks.
Insert a fake video calling for jihad on a peaceful Muslim lawyer’s website .
CLEAN SWEEP Masquerade Facebook Wall Posts for individuals or entire countries.
Put up a bunch of fake Wall Posts praising Al Qaeda on the Facebook page of a reporter giving first-hand reports of what’s really happening in a country that the U.S. is trying to demonize.
HAVOK Real-time website cloning technique allowing on-the-fly alterations
Hack the website of a state politician critical of those who trash the Constitution.
SILVERLORD: Disruption of video-based websites hosting extremist content through concerted target discovery and content removal.
Disrupt websites hosting alternative energy videos.
SUNBLOCK: Ability to deny functionality to send/receive email or view material online
Block the emails and web functionality of a government insider who is about to go public on wrongdoing.
ANGRY PIRATE: A tool that will permanently disable a target’s account on their computer
Disable the accounts of an anti-nuclear activist.
PREDATORS FACE: Targeted Denial Of Service against Web Servers
Take down a website which is disclosing hard-hitting information on illegal government actions.
UNDERPASS: Change outcome of online polls
Change the results of an online poll from one showing that the American people overwhelmingly oppose a new war to showing that they support it.
GATEWAY: Ability to artificially increase traffic to a website
Make a website spreading pro-NSA propanda appear hugely popular.
BOMB BAY: The capacity to increase website hits, rankings
Make it look like a hate site is popular among a targeted local population which actually despises its views.
SLIPSTREAM: Ability to inflate page views on websites
Make it appear that a pro-war article is widely popular.
GESTATOR: Amplification of a given message, normally video, on popular multimedia websites (Youtube)
Make a propaganda video go viral.
WHAT IS THE LIKELIHOOD OF MISUSE?
We don’t know which of the above hypothetically forms of misuse are actually occurring. However, as we wrote in February:
A new report from NBC News – based on documents leaked by Edward Snowden – appear to confirm our fears, documenting that Britain’s GCHQ spy agency has carried out cyber false flag attacks:
In another document taken from the NSA by Snowden and obtained by NBC News, a JTRIG official said the unit’s mission included computer network attacks, disruption, “Active Covert Internet Operations,” and “Covert Technical Operations.” Among the methods listed in the document were jamming phones, computers and email accounts and masquerading as an enemy in a “false flag” operation. The same document said GCHQ was increasing its emphasis on using cyber tools to attack adversaries.
Later that month, we noted:
A new report from NBC News shows that the British spy agency used “false flag attacks” and other dirty tricks:
British spies have developed “dirty tricks” for use against nations, hackers, terror groups, suspected criminals and arms dealers that include releasing computer viruses, spying on journalists and diplomats, jamming phones and computers, and using sex to lure targets into “honey traps.”
The agency’s goal was to “destroy, deny, degrade [and] disrupt” enemies by “discrediting” them, planting misinformation and shutting down their communications.
Sound familiar? It should:
Between 1956 and 1971, the FBI operated a program known as COINTELPRO, for Counter Intelligence Program. Its purpose was to interfere with the activities of the organizations and individuals who were its targets or, in the words of long-time FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, to “expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit or otherwise neutralize” them.
[The agency] also uses “false flag” operations, in which British agents carry out online actions that are designed to look like they were performed by one of Britain’s adversaries.
JTRIG used negative information to attack private companies, sour business relationships and ruin deals.
Changing photos on social media sites and emailing and texting colleagues and neighbors unsavory information.
And reporter Glenn Greenwald noted that Snowden documents showed:
Western intelligence agencies are attempting to manipulate and control online discourse with extreme tactics of deception and reputation-destruction.
These agencies are attempting to control, infiltrate, manipulate, and warp online discourse …. Among the core self-identified purposes … are two tactics: (1) to inject all sorts of false material onto the internet in order to destroy the reputation of its targets; and (2) to use social sciences and other techniques to manipulate online discourse and activism to generate outcomes it considers desirable. To see how extremist these programs are, just consider the tactics they boast of using to achieve those ends: “false flag operations” (posting material to the internet and falsely attributing it to someone else), fake victim blog posts (pretending to be a victim of the individual whose reputation they want to destroy), and posting “negative information” on various forums.
The discussion of many of these techniques occurs in the context of using them in lieu of “traditional law enforcement” against people suspected (but not charged or convicted) of ordinary crimes or, more broadly still, “hacktivism”, meaning those who use online protest activity for political ends.
The title page of one of these documents reflects the agency’s own awareness that it is “pushing the boundaries” by using “cyber offensive” techniques against people who have nothing to do with terrorism or national security threats, and indeed, centrally involves law enforcement agents who investigate ordinary crimes….
… no conceivable connection to terrorism or even national security threats.
Then there is the use of psychology and other social sciences to not only understand, but shape and control, how online activism and discourse unfolds. Today’s newly published document touts the work of GCHQ’s “Human Science Operations Cell”, devoted to “online human intelligence” and “strategic influence and disruption”….***
Under the title “Online Covert Action”, the document details a variety of means to engage in “influence and info ops” as well as “disruption and computer net attack”, while dissecting how human beings can be manipulated using “leaders”, “trust, “obedience” and “compliance”:
The U.S. government is also spending millions to figure out how to manipulate social media to promote propaganda and stifle dissenting opinions.
And top NSA whistleblowers say that the NSA is blackmailing and harassing opponents with information that it has gathered – potentially even high-level politicians – just like FBI head J. Edgar Hoover blackmailed presidents and Congressmen.
You may think you have “nothing to hide”, but you’re breaking the law numerous times every day … without even knowing it (update).
Any criticism of government policies is considered “extremist” and potential terrorism. For 5,000 years straight, mass surveillance has always been used to crush dissent. For example, the CIA director relabeled “dissidents” as “terrorists” so he could continue spying on them in 1972. The NSA is now collecting and retaining the most intimate personal details of Americans, including nude and suggestive pictures and medical and financial records … even though it is admitted that they have no conceivable security purpose
And the following facts make it likely that British and U.S. spy agencies are misusing their powers:
- The government and big banks joined forces to violently beat up peaceful protesters speaking out against bank corruption. Organizers of the protests say that their emails were blocked
- The NSA engages in offensive attacks (“we hack everyone everywhere“). And private corporations – big banks – will likely get the power to declare cyber war. Similarly, the largest German newspaper – Süddeutsche Zeitung – alleges that the U.S. government helped Monsanto attack the computers of activists opposed to genetically modified food
- Top NSA whistleblowers Bill Binney and Thomas Drake both say that the U.S. has become a police state. They say that the U.S. government has become like the Stasis or Soviets, Binney says that the NSA has become like “J. Edgar Hoover on super steroids” and that “the ultimate goal of the NSA is total population control“
by Michael Krieger
At least 80% of fibre-optic cables globally go via the U.S. This is no accident and allows the US to view all communication coming in. At least 80% of all audio calls, not just metadata, are recorded and stored in the US. The NSA lies about what it stores.
- NSA Whistleblower Bill Binney
Long-time readers of Liberty Blitzkrieg will be no strangers to Bill Binney, one of the earliest NSA whistleblowers. Well before anyone had ever heard of Edward Snowden, in July 2012, I posted the following: NSA Whistleblower: U.S. Government Creating Dossiers on Millions of Citizens. In it, I noted:
Bill Binney is no joke. He worked for the NSA for 30 years before resigning because of concerns he had regarding illegal spying on U.S. citizens in 2001. It seems that the claim I and many others have made for years, that the “War on Terror” is a gigantic fraud used to instill fear and further the creation of an unconstitutional surveillance state in America is absolutely true. The “terrorists” they have declared war on are the American people themselves.
Mr. Binney thankfully has never stopped fighting for The Constitution that he swore to defend, unlike most other government officials who happily stomp all over the basic civil liberties enshrined in our founding document. He had some very choice words recently and it would be wise for all of us on planet earth to pay very close attention. We learn from the Guardian that:
William Binney is one of the highest-level whistleblowers to ever emerge from the NSA. He was a leading code-breaker against the Soviet Union during the Cold War but resigned soon after September 11, disgusted by Washington’s move towards mass surveillance.
“At least 80% of fibre-optic cables globally go via the US”, Binney said. “This is no accident and allows the US to view all communication coming in. At least 80% of all audio calls, not just metadata, are recorded and stored in the US. The NSA lies about what it stores.”
The NSA will soon be able to collect 966 exabytes a year, the total of internet traffic annually. Former Google head Eric Schmidt once argued that the entire amount of knowledge from the beginning of humankind until 2003 amount to only five exabytes.
He praised the revelations and bravery of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and told me that he had indirect contact with a number of other NSA employees who felt disgusted with the agency’s work. They’re keen to speak out but fear retribution and exile, not unlike Snowden himself, who is likely to remain there for some time.
It shows that the NSA is not just pursuing terrorism, as it claims, but ordinary citizens going about their daily communications. “The NSA is mass-collecting on everyone”, Binney said, “and it’s said to be about terrorism but inside the US it has stopped zero attacks.”
“The Fisa court has only the government’s point of view”, he argued. “There are no other views for the judges to consider. There have been at least 15-20 trillion constitutional violations for US domestic audiences and you can double that globally.”
Binney recently told the German NSA inquiry committee that his former employer had a “totalitarian mentality” that was the “greatest threat” to US society since that country’s US Civil War in the 19th century. Despite this remarkable power, Binney still mocked the NSA’s failures, including missing this year’s Russian intervention in Ukraine and the Islamic State’s take-over of Iraq.
With evidence that there could be a second NSA leaker, the time for more aggressive reporting is now. As Binney said: “I call people who are covering up NSA crimes traitors”.
Full article here.
Merger of Big Banks and National Security Power … What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
Wall Street’s biggest trade group has proposed a government-industry cyber war council to stave off terrorist attacks that could trigger financial panic by temporarily wiping out account balances, according to an internal document.
The proposal by the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, known as Sifma, calls for a committee of executives and deputy-level representatives from at least eight U.S. agencies including the Treasury Department, the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security, all led by a senior White House official.
The trade association also reveals in the document that Sifma has retained former NSA director Keith Alexander to “facilitate” the joint effort with the government. Alexander, in turn, has brought in Michael Chertoff, the former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, and his firm, Chertoff Group.
Caitlin Hayden, spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, declined to comment.
[Just-retired NSA Boss General Keith] Alexander had been pitching Sifma and other bank trade associations to purchase his services through his new consulting firm, IronNet Cybersecurity Inc., for as much as $1 million per month, according to two people briefed on the talks.
Representative Alan Grayson, a Florida Democrat, said today he was concerned that industry members in such a joint group could improperly get involved in pre-emptive strikes against a person or state planning an assault on the U.S.
“This could in effect make the banks part of what would begin to look like a war council,” Grayson said in an e-mail. “Congress needs to keep an eye on what something like this could mean.”
Congressman Grayson tweets:
Ex-NSA chief Keith Alexander wants to form a joint WH-bank war council. So now Wall Street gets to declare war?
There is cause for concern, given the following context:
- Fascism is the merger of state and corporate power (and see this). The big banks and government have already largely merged
- Big banks are literally criminal enterprises
- The big banks and government joined together to violently crush peaceful protests against inequality and bank bailouts
- Bankers love war, because they make out like bandits … while the economy and the American people lose
- Cyber war may lead to a shooting war. For example, Scientific American notes:
Department of Defense announcements that they intend to view cyber attacks as “acts of war” suggest a military force nearly itching to flex its muscle in response to a serious computer network–based disruption, if only as a means of deterrence.
Concerns about overreaction and the use of military force in response to digital intrusions often lead to discussions about the difficulty surrounding definitive attribution of these types of attack. If you want to retaliate, how do you know whom to hit? In our exercise intelligence pointed to Russia, but the evidence wasn’t clear-cut.
- The NSA spying program is unambiguously being used for industrial espionage, by spying on large foreign corporations, and the biggest financial payments systems such as VISA and Swift. Indeed, in a slide leaked by Edward Snowden, “economic” was one of the main justifications for spying
- Top financial experts say that the NSA and other intelligence agencies are using the information to profit from this inside information
- The Wall Street Journal reported that the NSA spies on Americans’ credit card transactions. Many other agencies are doing the same. In fact, virtually all U.S. intelligence agencies – including the CIA and NSA – are going to spy on Americans’ finances. The by Text-Enhance” href=”http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2013/07/mass-spying-being-used-to-make-some-people-rich.html#”>IRS will also be spying on Americans’ shopping records, travel, social interactions, health records and files from other government investigators
- The NSA may be changing the amount in people’s financial accounts and manipulating financial systems with its offensive cyber capabilities
A few days ago, we asked a simple rhetorical question: “Are you targeted by the NSA?”
The answer, sadly for those reading this, is very likely yes, as it was revealed that as part of the NSA’s XKeyscore program “a computer network exploitation system, as described in an NSA presentation, devoted to gathering nearly everything a user does on the internet” all it takes for a user to be flagged by America’s superspooks is to go to a website the NSA finds less than “patriotic” and that user becomes a fixture for the NSA’s tracking algos.
So assuming one is being tracked by the NSA – or as it is also known for politically correct reasons “intercepted” – as a “person of interest” or worse, just what kind of data does the NSA collect? The latest report by the WaPo titled “In NSA-intercepted data, those not targeted far outnumber the foreigners who are” sheds much needed light on just how extensive the NSA’s data collection effort is.
According to WaPo, the files on intercepted Americans “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.”
The Post reviewed roughly 160,000 intercepted e-mail and instant-message conversations, some of them hundreds of pages long, and 7,900 documents taken from more than 11,000 online accounts.
Remember when the NSA said they only target foreigners, and only those who are of particular actionable interest? They lied.
Nine of 10 account holders found in a large cache of intercepted conversations, which former NSA contractor Edward Snowden provided in full to The Post, were not the intended surveillance targets but were caught in a net the agency had cast for somebody else.
Many of them were Americans. Nearly half of the surveillance files, a strikingly high proportion, contained names, e-mail addresses or other details that the NSA marked as belonging to U.S. citizens or residents. NSA analysts masked, or “minimized,” more than 65,000 such references to protect Americans’ privacy, but The Post found nearly 900 additional e-mail addresses, unmasked in the files, that could be strongly linked to U.S. citizens or U.S.residents.
Going back to “your” file:
Taken together, the files offer an unprecedented vantage point on the changes wrought by Section 702 of the FISA amendments, which enabled the NSA to make freer use of methods that for 30 years had required probable cause and a warrant from a judge. One program, code-named PRISM, extracts content stored in user accounts at Yahoo, Microsoft, Facebook, Google and five other leading Internet companies. Another, known inside the NSA as Upstream, intercepts data on the move as it crosses the U.S. junctions of global voice and data networks.
It gets worse, because that bed-wetting habit you kicked in the 2nd grade? The NSA knows all about it.
Among the latter are medical records sent from one family member to another, résumés from job hunters and academic transcripts of schoolchildren. In one photo, a young girl in religious dress beams at a camera outside a mosque.
Scores of pictures show infants and toddlers in bathtubs, on swings, sprawled on their backs and kissed by their mothers. In some photos, men show off their physiques. In others, women model lingerie, leaning suggestively into a webcam or striking risque poses in shorts and bikini tops.
How many Americans may be tracked by the NSA at any one time? Turns out ther answer is lots:
The Obama administration declines to discuss the scale of incidental collection. The NSA, backed by Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., has asserted that it is unable to make any estimate, even in classified form, of the number of Americans swept in. It is not obvious why the NSA could not offer at least a partial count, given that its analysts routinely pick out “U.S. persons” and mask their identities, in most cases, before distributing intelligence reports.
If Snowden’s sample is representative, the population under scrutiny in the PRISM and Upstream programs is far larger than the government has suggested. In a June 26 “transparency report,” the Office of the Director of National Intelligence disclosed that 89,138 people were targets of last year’s collection under FISA Section 702. At the 9-to-1 ratio of incidental collection in Snowden’s sample, the office’s figure would correspond to nearly 900,000 accounts, targeted or not, under surveillance.
And tangentially, for those who are urging the NSA to release Lois Lerner’s emails, all it would take are a few keystrokes:
“If I had wanted to pull a copy of a judge’s or a senator’s e-mail, all I had to do was enter that selector into XKEYSCORE,” one of the NSA’s main query systems, [Edward Snowden] said.
What the file would likely reveal is all the dirt the US intelligence apparatus had on said (Supreme Court) judge or senator, or IRS employee. After all, what better way to keep the system of “checks and balances” in check than to have dirt on all the key places of leverage.
The WaPo has released a sterilized example of what a “target package” looks like for any given individual.
All of the above would be stunning… if it wasn’t for a culture in which FaceBook has made the exhibitionist stripping of one’s privacy and disclosure of every last piece of “intimate” personal information a daily chore. It is in this world, sadly, where the most recent confirmation of just how expansive Big Brother is, will merely be granted with a yawn by the vast majority of the population.
Finally, here’s a thought for the cash-strapped US government: when the Fed is no longer able to monetize the US deficit, the NSA can just hire Goldman to IPO the NSA “social network.” It should raise at least a few hundred billion in cash.
Like a Cancer that Treats Any Immune System Response as a Threat to Be Challenged
In the wake of revelations about the extent of mass surveillance by the NSA and other agencies, people are trying to protect themselves by adopting encryption and other privacy tools.
The Guardian reported in January:
The gathering crisis of trust around consumer web services and the fallout from Edward Snowden’s revelations is fuelling a significant uptake in anonymity tools, new research shows, as internet users battle censorship and assert their right to privacy online.
Globally, 56% of those surveyed by GlobalWebIndex reported that they felt the internet is eroding their personal privacy, with an estimated 415 million people or 28% of the online population using tools to disguise their identity or location.
Aggregating market research data from 170,000 internet users worldwide, GWI found that 11% of all users claim to use Tor, the most high profile for anonymising internet access.
Tor was created – largely with funding from the U.S. government – in order to allow people who live in repressive authoritarian regimes to communicate anonymously on the Internet.
So it is ironic that the NSA targets as “extremists” (the word the U.S. government uses for “probable terrorists”) anyone who uses Tor or any other privacy tool … or even searches for information on privacy tools on the Internet.
Jacob Appelbaum and other privacy experts explain at Das Erste:
- Merely searching the web for the privacy-enhancing software tools outlined in the XKeyscore rules causes the NSA to mark and track the IP address of the person doing the search. Not only are German privacy software users tracked, but the source code shows that privacy software users worldwide are tracked by the NSA.
- Among the NSA’s targets is the Tor network funded primarily by the US government to aid democracy advocates in authoritarian states.
The NSA program XKeyscore is a collection and analysis tool and “a computer network exploitation system”, as described in an NSA presentation. It is one of the agency’s most ambitious programs devoted to gathering “nearly everything a user does on the internet.” The source code contains several rules that enable agents using XKeyscore to surveil privacy-conscious internet users around the world. The rules published here are specifically directed at the infrastructure and the users of the Tor Network, the Tails operating system, and other privacy-related software.
The former NSA director General Keith Alexander stated that all those communicating with encryption will be regarded as terror suspects and will be monitored and stored as a method of prevention, as quoted by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in August last year. The top secret source code published here indicates that the NSA is making a concerted effort to combat any and all anonymous spaces that remain on the internet. Merely visiting privacy-related websites is enough for a user’s IP address to be logged into an NSA database.
The comment in the source code above describes Tails as “a comsec mechanism advocated by extremists on extremist forums”. In actuality, the software is used by journalists, human rights activists, and hundreds of thousands of ordinary people who merely wish to protect their privacy.
Tor Project’s Roger Dingledine stated the following: “We’ve been thinking of state surveillance for years because of our work in places where journalists are threatened. Tor’s anonymity is based on distributed trust, so observing traffic at one place in the Tor network, even a directory authority, isn’t enough to break it. Tor has gone mainstream in the past few years, and its wide diversity of users – from civic-minded individuals and ordinary consumers to activists, law enforcement, and companies – is part of its security. Just learning that somebody visited the Tor or Tails website doesn’t tell you whether that person is a journalist source, someone concerned that her Internet Service Provider will learn about her health conditions, or just someone irked that cat videos are blocked in her location. Trying to make a list of Tor’s millions of daily users certainly counts as wide scale collection. Their attack on the bridge address distribution service shows their “collect all the things” mentality – it’s worth emphasizing that we designed bridges for users in countries like China and Iran, and here we are finding out about attacks by our own country.
If you think we’re exaggerating the threat to privacy from the NSA, remember that the Department of Homeland Security called DHS’ own privacy office “terrorists”.
And the Department of Justice blacked out words in a document saying their disclosure would pose a “grave threat” to national security. The words? The Fourth Amendment.
This flies in the face of American values. After all:
- 60% of Americans value privacy over anti-terror protections
- The Founding Fathers valued privacy over safety. Indeed, the Revolutionary War was largely started to stop the use of spying by the British. Background here. In other words, the Founding Fathers gave up their safe life with little freedom to strive for real freedom.
- The Founding Fathers – and later the Supreme Court – also said that Americans have the right to anonymous political speech
Indeed, it is like a cancer that treats any immune system response as a threat to be taken out.
Examples are – sadly – widespread in modern America:
- Reporters are treated as the enemy. And real journalism – that is, exposing government corruption – is treated as terrorism
- Whistleblowers who expose government wrongdoing are prosecuted … in order to hide government hypocrisy
- The Department of Homeland Security and other government agencies want to unmask everyone, so that we have no anonymity in our political speech
- Protesting against the government’s claimed power to indefinitely detain anyone without charge … could result in your getting detained
- Indeed, protesting anything is considered low-level terrorism
- The Associated Press reported in 2011 – in relation to the pepper spraying of peaceful UC Davis students participating in Occupy protests:
Charles J. Kelly, a former Baltimore Police Department lieutenant who wrote the department’s use of force guidelines, said … After reviewing the video [of the pepper spraying of UC Davis students] he observed at least two cases of “active resistance” from protesters. In one instance, a woman pulls her arm back from an officer. In the second instance, a protester curls into a ball. Each of those actions could have warranted more force, including baton strikes and pressure-point techniques.
“What I’m looking at is fairly standard police procedure,” Kelly said.
- Videotaping or photographing police beating up peaceful protesters may be considered terrorism
Of course, NSA apologists will pretend that targeting privacy tool users is necessary to stop the bad guys. This argument is demolished by the fact that for 5,000 years straight, mass surveillance has always been used by tyrants to crush dissent.
Meet XKeyscore – “a computer network exploitation system”, as described in an NSA presentation, devoted to gathering “nearly everything a user does on the internet.” The German site Das Erste has exposed the shocking truth about the rules used by the NSA to decide who is a “target” for surveillance. While the NSA claims to only “target” a small fraction of internet users, the perhaps unsurprising truth is very different. As Boing Boing concludes, one expert suggested that the NSA’s intention here was to separate the sheep from the goats — to split the entire population of the Internet into “people who have the technical know-how to be private” and “people who don’t” and then capture all the communications from the first group.
The NSA program XKeyscore is a collection and analysis tool and “a computer network exploitation system”, as described in an NSA presentation. It is one of the agency’s most ambitious programs devoted to gathering “nearly everything a user does on the internet.” The source code contains several rules that enable agents using XKeyscore to surveil privacy-conscious internet users around the world. The rules published here are specifically directed at the infrastructure and the users of the Tor Network, the Tails operating system, and other privacy-related software.
Since the start of the Snowden story in 2013, the NSA has stressed that while it may intercept nearly every Internet user’s communications, it only “targets” a small fraction of those, whose traffic patterns reveal some basis for suspicion. Targets of NSA surveillance don’t have their data flushed from the NSA’s databases on a rolling 48-hour or 30-day basis, but are instead retained indefinitely.
The authors of the Tagesschau story have seen the “deep packet inspection” rules used to determine who is considered to be a legitimate target for deep surveillance, and the results are bizarre.
According to the story, the NSA targets anyone who searches for online articles about Tails — like this one that we published in April, or this article for teens that I wrote in May — or Tor (The Onion Router, which we’ve been posted about since 2004). Anyone who is determined to be using Tor is also targeted for long-term surveillance and retention.
Tor and Tails have been part of the mainstream discussion of online security, surveillance and privacy for years. It’s nothing short of bizarre to place people under suspicion for searching for these terms.
More importantly, this shows that the NSA uses “targeted surveillance” in a way that beggars common sense. It’s a dead certainty that people who heard the NSA’s reassurances about “targeting” its surveillance on people who were doing something suspicious didn’t understand that the NSA meant people who’d looked up technical details about systems that are routinely discussed on the front page of every newspaper in the world.
But it’s not the first time the NSA has deployed specialized, highly counterintuitive wordsmithing to play games with the public, the law and its oversight. From James Clapper’s insistence that he didn’t lie to Congress about spying on Americans because he was only intercepting all their data, but not looking at it all; to the internal wordgames on evidence in the original Prism leak in which the NSA claimed to have “direct access” to servers from Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Apple, etc, even though this “direct access” was a process by which the FBI would use secret warrants to request information from Internet giants without revealing that the data was destined for the NSA.
I have known that this story was coming for some time now, having learned about its broad contours under embargo from a trusted source. Since then, I’ve discussed it in confidence with some of the technical experts who have worked on the full set of Snowden docs, and they were as shocked as I was.
One expert suggested that the NSA’s intention here was to separate the sheep from the goats — to split the entire population of the Internet into “people who have the technical know-how to be private” and “people who don’t” and then capture all the communications from the first group.
Another expert said that s/he believed that this leak may come from a second source, not Edward Snowden, as s/he had not seen this in the original Snowden docs; and had seen other revelations that also appeared independent of the Snowden materials. If that’s true, it’s big news, as Snowden was the first person to ever leak docs from the NSA. The existence of a potential second source means that Snowden may have inspired some of his former colleagues to take a long, hard look at the agency’s cavalier attitude to the law and decency.
* * *
And just this week it was all found perfectly legal… But it appears the US continues to make friends wherever it goes…
The German attorney Thomas Stadler, who specializes in IT law, commented: “The fact that a German citizen is specifically traced by the NSA, in my opinion, justifies the reasonable suspicion of the NSA carrying out secret service activities in Germany.
For this reason, the German Federal Public Prosecutor should look into this matter and initiate preliminary proceedings.“
So now you know – you are all being watched…
Police State America: Will the US Supreme Court Apply Cell Phone Privacy to NSA Metadata Collection?
By Marjorie Cohn
In one of the most significant Fourth Amendment rulings ever handed down by the Supreme Court, all nine justices agreed in an opinion involving two companion cases, Riley v. California [PDF] and United States v. Wurie, that police generally need a warrant before reading data on the cell phone of an arrestee. This decision may well presage how the court will rule on the constitutionality of the National Security Agency (NSA) metadata collection program when that issue inevitably comes before it.
Warrants Needed to Search Cell Phone Data
There has always been a preference for search warrants when the police conduct a Fourth Amendment search or seizure. But, over the years, the court has carved out certain exceptions to the warrant requirement, including the search incident to a lawful arrest. The 1969 case of Chimel v. California defined the parameters of this exception. Upon a lawful arrest, police can search the person of the arrestee and areas within his immediate control from which he could secure a weapon or destroy evidence. Four years later, in United States v. Robinson, the court confirmed that the search incident to a lawful arrest is a bright-line rule. These types of searches will not be analyzed on a case-by-case basis. If the arrest is lawful, a search incident to it needs no further justification. It does not matter whether the officer is concerned in a given case that the arrestee might be armed or destroy evidence.
In Riley/Wurie, the court declined to apply the search incident to a lawful arrest exception to searches of data contained on an arrestee’s cell phone. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the court that the dual rationales for applying the exception to the search of physical objects—protecting officers and preventing destruction of evidence—do not apply to the digital content on cell phones: “There are no comparable risks when the search is of digital data.”
Moreover, “[m]odern cell phones, as a category,” Roberts noted, “implicate privacy concerns far beyond those implicated by the search of a cigarette pack, a wallet, or a purse.” Responding to the government’s assertion that a search of cell phone data is “materially indistinguishable” from searches of physical items, Roberts quipped, “That is like saying a ride on horseback is materially indistinguishable from a flight to the moon.” Indeed, Roberts observed, the search of a cell phone would typically provide the government with even more personal information than the search of a home, an area that has traditionally been given the strongest privacy protection. Modern cell phones, Roberts wrote, “are now such a pervasive and insistent part of daily life that the proverbial visitor from Mars might conclude they were an important feature of human anatomy.” Roberts was referring to the ubiquitous presence of cell phones appended to our ears as we walk down the street.
But the court held that while a warrant is usually required to search data on an arrestee’s cell phone, officers could rely on the exigent circumstances exception in appropriate cases. For example, when a suspect is texting an accomplice who is preparing to detonate a bomb, or a child abductor may have information about the child’s location on his cell phone, or circumstances suggest the phone will be the target of an imminent attempt to erase the data on it, police may dispense with a search warrant.
Metadata Collection Implicates Similar Privacy Concerns
The Riley/Wurie opinion provides insights into how the court will decide other digital-era privacy issues. Roberts was concerned that
“[a]n Internet search and browsing history, for example, can be found on an Internet-enabled phone and could reveal an individual’s private interests or concerns—perhaps a search for certain symptoms of disease, coupled with frequent visits to WebMD.”
The Chief Justice could have been describing the NSA metadata collection program, which requires telecommunications companies to produce all of our telephone communications every day. Although the government claims it does not read the content of those communications, it does monitor the identities of the sender and recipient, and the date, time, duration, place and unique identifiers of the communication. As Roberts pointed out in the cell phone case, much can be learned from this data. Calls to a clinic that performs abortions or visits to a gay website can reveal intimate details about a person’s private life. A URL, such as www.webMD.com/depression, can contain significant information, even without examining the content. Whether we access the Internet with our cell phones, or with our computers, the same privacy considerations are implicated.
Roberts quoted Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s concurrence in United States v. Jones [PDF], the case in which the court held that a warrant is generally required before police install and monitor a GPS tracking device on a car. Sotomayor wrote, “GPS monitoring generates a precise, comprehensive record of a person’s public movements that reflects a wealth of detail about her familial, political, professional, religious, and sexual associations.” US District Court Judge Richard J. Leon also cited that concurrence by Sotomayor in his 2013 decision that the metadata collection probably violates the Fourth Amendment (Klayman v. Obama).
And both Roberts and Leon distinguished the cell phone search and metadata collection, respectively, from the 1979 case of Smith v. Maryland, in which the court held that no warrant is required for a telephone company to use a pen register to identify numbers dialed by a particular caller. The Smith Court concluded that a pen register was not a Fourth Amendment “search,” and therefore the police did not need to use a warrant or an exception to the warrant requirement. In order to constitute a “search,” a person must have a reasonable expectation of privacy that is violated. The court said in Smith that a person does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in numbers dialed from a phone since he voluntarily transmits them to a third party—the phone company.
Roberts stated in Riley/Wurie: “There is no dispute here that the officers engaged in a search of Wurie’s cell phone.” Likewise, Leon wrote that the issue of “whether a pen register constitutes a ‘search’ is a far cry from the issue in the [metadata collection] case.” Leon added,
“When do present-day circumstances—the evolution of the government’s surveillance capabilities, citizens’ phone habits, and the relationship between the NSA and the telecom companies—become so thoroughly unlike those considered by the Supreme Court thirty-four years ago that a precedent like Smith simply does not apply? The answer, unfortunately for the Government, is now.”
If the court is consistent in its analysis, it will determine that the collection by the government of all of our electronic records implicates the same privacy concerns as the inspection of the data on our cell phones. It remains to be seen if and when the metadata collection issue comes before the court. But the fact that the cell phone decision was 9-0 is a strong indication that all of the justices, regardless of ideology, are deeply concerned about protecting the privacy of our electronic communications.
What the Heck Happened to America?
Senior NSA executive Thomas Drake is an expert on spying in Stasi Germany … having studied it for years.
Drake told Washington’s Blog that the U.S. has adopted the Stasi model:
“Collect it all, know it all” [the NSA’s model] is actually the Stasi model. It’s not just know everything; we have to be able to keep everything that we want to know, even if we don’t know it yet.
It’s a collect it all first mentality … and then we’ll get to know it all. I call it “feeding the beast”.
I keep shuddering because I’m intimately familiar with the East German surveillance state mentality.
A lieutenant colonel for the Stasi East German’s – based upon his experience – agrees. And German Chancellor Angela Merkel – who grew up in Stasi Germany – says the NSA is exactly the same. Top American constitutional experts also say that the Obama and Bush administration are worse than the Stasi East Germans.
Senior NSA official Bill Binney – the high-level NSA executive who created the agency’s surveillance program for digital information, was the senior technical director within the agency and managed thousands of NSA employees – is an expert on Soviet spying. Binney spent decades studying – and trying to counter – the repressive Soviet program of mass surveillance.
Binney said that – after 9/11 – America implemented the same type of system used by the Soviets.
Postscript: Unfortunately, it’s not just spying …
In the decade after 9/11, the U.S. used specialized communist torture techniques specifically aimed at extracting false confessions.
Under Obama, whistleblowers and dissidents are treated as ruthlessly as in the Soviet Union.
When bad government policy leads to bad results, the U.S. government does what the Soviets did: manipulate the data.
The Soviets had Pravda … similarly, propaganda is now being used within the U.S. The U.S. government pumps out massive amounts of propaganda through the mainstream and “gatekeeper” alternative media, movies, video games, and other venues.
And the American economy has gone from capitalism to socialism … at least for the fatcats.
What the heck happened to American ideals?
Prosperity Requires Privacy
Privacy is a prerequisite for a prosperous economy. Even the White House admits:
People must have confidence that data will travel to its destination without disruption. Assuring the free flow of information, the security and privacy of data, and the integrity of the interconnected networks themselves are all essential to American and global economic prosperity, security, and the promotion of universal rights.
Below, we discuss four ways that mass surveillance hurts our economy.
1. Creativity – A Prime Driver of Prosperity – Requires Privacy
The Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, Canada – Ann Cavoukian, Ph.D. – noted last month:
Privacy is Essential to … Prosperity and Well-Being
• Innovation, creativity and the resultant prosperity of a society requires freedom;
• Privacy is the essence of freedom: Without privacy, individual human rights, property rights and civil liberties – the conceptual engines of innovation and creativity, could not exist in a meaningful manner;
• Surveillance is the antithesis of privacy: A negative consequence of surveillance is the usurpation of a person’s limited cognitive bandwidth, away from innovation and creativity.
The Financial Post reported in February: “Big Brother culture will have adverse effect on creativity, productivity“.
Christopher Lingle – visiting professor of economics at ESEADE, Universidad Francisco Marroquín – agrees that creativity is a key to economic prosperity.
Edward Snowden said last year:
The success of economies in developed nations relies increasingly on their creative output, and if that success is to continue we must remember that creativity is the product of curiosity, which in turn is the product of privacy.
Silicon Valley is currently one of the largest drivers of the U.S. economy. Do you think Bill Gates and Steve Jobs could have tinkered so creatively in their garages if the government had been watching everything they do?
Everyone who has every done anything creative knows that you need a little privacy to try different things before you’re ready to go public with it. If your bench model, rough sketch or initial melody is being dissected in real time by an intrusive audience … you’re not going to be very creative.
2. The Free Flow of Information Requires Privacy
Moreover, surveillance hampers the free flow of information as many people begin to watch what they say. The free flow of information is a core requisite for a fast-moving economy … especially an information economy, as opposed to economies focused on resource-extraction or manufacturing.
As quoted above, the White House states:
Assuring the free flow of information [is] essential to American and global economic prosperity, security, and the promotion of universal rights.
Mass surveillance makes people more reluctant to share information … and thus hurts the economy.
3. Mass Surveillance Hurts Productivity
Top computer and internet experts say that NSA spying breaks the functionality of our computers and of the Internet. It reduces functionality and reduces security by – for example – creating backdoors that malicious hackers can get through.
Remember, American and British spy agencies have intentionally weakened security for many decades. And it’s getting worse and worse. For example, they plan to use automated programs to infect millions of computers.
How much time and productivity have we lost in battling viruses let in because of the spies tinkering? How much have we lost because “their” computer programs conflict with “our” programs?
Microsoft’s general counsel labels government snooping an “advanced persistent threat,” a term generally used to describe teams of hackers that coordinate cyberattacks for foreign governments. It is well-known among IT and security professionals that hacking decreases employee productivity. While they’re usually referring to hacking by private parties, the same is likely true for hacking by government agencies, as well.
And the spy agencies are already collecting millions of webcam images from our computers. THAT’S got to tie up our system resources … so we can’t get our work done as fast.
Moreover, the Snowden documents show that the American and British spy agencies launched attacks to disrupt the computer networks of “hacktivists” and others they don’t like, and tracked supporters of groups such as Wikileaks.
Given that the spy agencies are spying on everyone, capturing millions of screenshots, intercepting laptop shipments, creating fake versions of popular websites to inject malware on people’s computers, launching offensive cyber-warfare operations against folks they don’t like, and that they may view journalism, government criticism or even thinking for one’s self as terrorism – and tend to re-label “dissidents” as “terrorists” – it’s not unreasonable to assume that all of us are being adversely effected to one degree or another by spy agency operations.
Bill Binney – the high-level NSA executive who created the agency’s mass surveillance program for digital information, a 32-year NSA veteran widely regarded as a “legend” within the agency, the senior technical director within the agency, who managed thousands of NSA employees – tells Washington’s Blog:
The other costs involve weakening systems (operating systems/firewalls/encryption). When they do that, this weakens the systems for all to find. Hackers around the world as well as governments too.
These costs are hard to count. For example, we hear of hackers getting customer data over and over again. Is that because of what our government has done?
Or, how about all the attacks on systems in government? Are these because of weakened systems?
4. Trust and the Rule of Law – Two Main determinants of Prosperity – Are Undermined By Surveillance
The destruction of privacy by the NSA directly harms internet companies, Silicon Valley, California … and the entire U.S. economy (Facebook lost 11 millions users as of April mainly due to privacy concerns … and that was before the Snowden revelations). If people don’t trust the companies to keep their data private, they’ll use foreign companies.
American tech companies – including Verizon, Cisco, IBM and others – are getting hammered for their cooperating with the NSA and lack of privacy protection. The costs to the U.S. economy have been estimated to be in the hundreds of billions of dollars. And see this and this.
And destruction of trust in government and other institutions is destroying our economy.
A top cyber security consultant notes:
If privacy is not protected while performing mass surveillance for national security purposes, then the people’s level of trust in the government decreases.
And as we noted in 2002:
Personal freedom and liberty – and freedom from the arbitrary exercise of government power – are strongly correlated with a healthy economy, but America is descending into tyranny.
Authoritarian actions by the government interfere with the free market, and thus harm prosperity.
U.S. News and World Report notes:
The Fraser Institute’s latest Economic Freedom of the World Annual Report is out, and the news is not good for the United States. Ranked among the five freest countries in the world from 1975 through 2002, the United States has since dropped to 18th place.
The Cato institute notes:
The United States has plummeted to 18th place in the ranked list, trailing such countries as Estonia, Taiwan, and Qatar.
Actually, the decline began under President George W. Bush. For 20 years the U.S. had consistently ranked as one of the world’s three freest economies, along with Hong Kong and Singapore. By the end of the Bush presidency, we were barely in the top ten.
And, as with so many disastrous legacies of the Bush era, Barack Obama took a bad thing and made it worse.
But the American government has shredded the constitution, by … spying on all Americans, and otherwise attacking our freedoms.
Indeed, rights won in 1215 – in the Magna Carta – are being repealed.
Economic historian Niall Ferguson notes, draconian national security laws are one of the main things undermining the rule of law:
We must pose the familiar question about how far our civil liberties have been eroded by the national security state – a process that in fact dates back almost a hundred years to the outbreak of the First World War and the passage of the 1914 Defence of the Realm Act. Recent debates about the protracted detention of terrorist suspects are in no way new. Somehow it’s always a choice between habeas corpus and hundreds of corpses.
So lawlessness infringement of our liberty is destroying our prosperity.
Put another way, lack of privacy kills the ability to creatively criticize bad government policy … and to demand enforcement of the rule of law. Indeed, 5,000 years of history shows that mass surveillance is always carried out to crush dissent. In other words, mass surveillance is the opposite of the principle of the rule of law (in distinction to the rule of men) upon which America was founded.
Free speech and checks and balances on the power of government officials are two of the main elements of justice in any society. And a strong rule of law is – in turn – the main determinant of GDP growth.
by PAUL JOSEPH WATSON
Disturbing prospect given company’s link with NSA
Intel is developing a “kill switch” for laptops that would enable the remote monitoring and disabling of devices, a disturbing prospect given the firm’s link with the National Security Agency.
“The chip giant is working on something call the Wireless Credential Exchange (WCE) with a number of partners. Its chips would communicate with Impinj’s Monza RFID chips to allow remote monitoring of devices via Burnside Digital’s IPTrak software,” writes ZD Net’s Sean Portnoy. “The result would be that these devices could be controlled to activate only when they reach their approved destination or within a specified location. If they don’t reach their destination or leave the approved area, they could be disabled.”
The technology is being marketed as a way of deterring theft but is likely to cause consternation amongst privacy advocates.
As we reported back in September, a more rudimentary version of the “kill switch” was actually added to Intel processors back in 2011 with the launch of the firm’s Anti Theft 3.0 platform. This technology also enabled Intel to snoop on computer activity via a 3G radio chip which can bypass hard drive encryption.
“These include out-of-band communications (communications that exist outside of the scope of anything the machine might be doing through an OS or hypervisor), monitoring and altering of incoming and outgoing network traffic, reports TG Daily. “In short, it operates covertly and snoops and potentially manipulates data.”
In a post-Snowden era, the idea of companies having remote access to a user’s PC represents a potential Pandora’s Box of privacy violation.
It is widely acknowledged by experts that the NSA already “has hardware level backdoors built into Intel and AMD processors.” Earlier this year during a Reddit online chat session, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich refused to answer a question about whether the NSA had backdoor access.
In December last year, developers of the FreeBSD operating system said that they could no longer trust Intel and Via’s chip-based cryptographic security, warning that there was a distinct possibility that the NSA had backdoor access.
The idea of companies having access to a “kill switch” with no opt out process takes power away from the individual and leaves the door ajar for governments to exploit such technology to target dissent, just as Turkey recently shut down Twitter in an attempt to cover-up a political scandal.
As we reported last week, all new Android and Windows phones will also include a “kill switch” in the name of protecting against theft.
Both Google and Apple have filed patents focused around the remote disabling of devices if photos are taken in law enforcement sensitive areas or at concerts, creating technological “dead zones” that could be used to disrupt political protests or derail unwanted news coverage.