Washington Menaces America With Its ISIS Creation

New Eastern Outlook
by Tony Cartalucci

4535121The 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.

New Eastern Outlook

Top NSA Whistleblower: We Need a New 9/11 Investigation Into the Destruction of the World Trade Center

Washington’s Blog

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:

Binney said:

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.

And, on 27 February 2001 he or someone from NSA approached the CEO of Quest requesting Quests’ subscriber data – meaning billing data. This is in court records. [Background here, here and here.]

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.]

Binney joins many high-level officials – including military leaders, intelligence officials and 9/11 commissioners – who are dissatisfied with the 9/11 investigations to date.

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.

Washington’s Blog

What Are the Spy Agencies Actually DOING with their Dirty Tricks?

Washington’s Blog

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:

We’ve warned since 2009 (and see this) that the government could be launching cyber “false flag attacks” in order to justify a crackdown on the Internet and discredit web activists.

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.

NBC continues:

[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 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

Moreover, if the NSA takes a dislike to someone, it can frame them.  This has been CONFIRMED by top NSA whistleblowers.

And the following facts make it likely that British and U.S. spy agencies are misusing their powers:

Washington’s Blog

NSA Whistleblower Speaks: “The Ultimate Goal is Total Population Control”

Liberty Blitzkrieg
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.”

Yep, as noted in the post: NSA Chief Admits “Only One or Perhaps Two” Terror Plots Stopped by Spy Program. Now back to the Guardian article.

“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.

Well, I question the entire ISIS story and personally wonder if the U.S. is not perfectly fine with what is happening over there as a justification to future crackdown on civil liberties in the name of “fighting ISIS.”
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”.
Now watch this interview of Bill Binney from 2012:
 

Full article here.

Liberty Blitzkrieg

Big Banks Want Power to Declare Cyber War

Washington’s Blog

Merger of Big Banks and National Security Power … What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Bloomberg reports:

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:

  • 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.

Washington’s Blog

What Your “Startlingly Intimate, Voyeristic” NSA File Looks Like

Zero Hedge

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.

Zero Hedge

NSA Targets As “Extremists” Americans Who Simply Wish to Protect Themselves from Oppression

Washington’s Blog

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 read Linux Journal – or even read extremely popular sites like Boing Boing – the NSA will target you.

Reddit and other popular websites have promoted privacy tools. 6% of all American adults – and 15% of males aged 18-29 – use Reddit. Are they targeted as well?

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:

  • 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.

And it shows an authoritarian mindset of treating any attempt to resist their power as terrorism.

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:

  • Protesting against the government’s claimed power to indefinitely detain anyone without charge … could result in your getting detained

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.

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.

Washington’s Blog

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