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Member since: Wed May 5, 2004, 09:44 AM
Number of posts: 31,787

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I'll buy another personal Airbus 380 and a Boeing 747, just to celebrate

Thank you, America.

On second thought, make that two Boeings with this order.

(Response to question: Who wins if America bombs Syria?)

I had hopes for constructive change to CIA Counter-terrorism operations in 2008.

The Tsarnaev case points out the fatal lack of reform and control over U.S. covert operations. In particular, we now see that the Obama Administration has in fact not been successful in efforts to fix what the President previously characterized as "a systemic failure" of U.S. intelligence to prevent the entry of persons known to the CIA to be terrorists. That this obvious fact after the Boston Bombing is being pointed out on a blog and not in the major media also highlights that there has also been a failure of the corporate press, and its abdication of any meaningful role since 9/11 as public watchdog over these dangers.

At the beginning of the Obama Presidency, and that seems a long time ago, there seemed to have been some cause for hope for change after the 2009 Underwear bomber incident. Obama was reported to have been furious that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who was known to the CIA since the previous August, was allowed on a Xmas Day flight to Detroit at Amsterdam's Skocpol Airport. http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2009/12/obama-systemic-failure-allowed-alleged-bomber-on-plane.html The President was quoted at the time as saying,

"The warning signs would have triggered red flags and the suspect would have never been allowed to board that plane for America," Obama said. "A systemic failure has occurred, and I consider that totally unacceptable."

A new candor by the Administration appeared to have been signaled when, in early January 2010 Undersecretary of State Patrick Kennedy pretty much came out and admitted in public testimony to a Senate Committee that a decision had been made to permit the Underwear Bomber to keep a visa to enter the US even though he was a known intending terrorist. Here's the key section of Kennedy's testimony, that was widely ignored:

1/20/10: Statement of Patrick F. Kennedy, Under Secretary of State for Management - Before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary,
http://travel.state.gov/law/legal/testimony/testimony_4635.html - Cached - Similar

In addition to these changes, the Department is reviewing the procedures and criteria used in the field to revoke visas and will issue new instructions to our officers. Revocation recommendations will be added as an element of reporting through the Visas Viper channel. We will be reiterating our guidance on use of the broad discretionary authority of visa officers to deny visas on security and other grounds. Instruction in appropriate use of this authority has been a fundamental part of officer training for several years.

The State Department has broad and flexible authority to revoke visas and we use that authority widely to protect our borders. Since 2001, we have revoked 51,000 visas for a variety of reasons, including over 1,700 for suspected links to terrorism. We have been actively using this authority as we perform internal scrubs of our data with watchlist information provided by partner agencies. For example, we are re-examining information in our CLASS database on individuals with potential connections to terrorist activity or support for such activity. . . We recognize the gravity of the threat we face and are working intensely with our colleagues from other agencies to ensure that when the U.S. Government obtains information that a person may pose a threat to our security, that person does not hold a visa.

We will use revocation authority prior to interagency consultation in circumstances where we believe there is an immediate threat. Revocation is an important tool in our border security arsenal. At the same time, expeditious coordination with our national security partners is not to be underestimated. There have been numerous cases where our unilateral and uncoordinated revocation would have disrupted important investigations that were underway by one of our national security partners. They had the individual under investigation and our revocation action would have disclosed the U.S. Government’s interest in the individual and ended our colleagues’ ability to quietly pursue the case and identify terrorists’ plans and co-conspirators.

But, apparently, even after all the publicity that Umar had been assisted onto the flight, the Anwar al-Awlaki operation in Yemen stayed open for business, as we found out later with the AP embroglio over the wire service's report published in March that the Yemen AQ bomb-making cell had been penetrated by the CIA and Saudi intelligence double-agents. http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/05/15/184274166/leaks-bombs-and-double-agents-more-on-that-ap-story The droning of al-Awlaki and several other highly visible AQ figures appeared to have put an end to this sort of attract and trap operation involving CIA double-agents.

The Boston Bombing in April, nevertheless, is yet another instance where we are told that information about a designated terrorist let into the U.S. wasn't shared or fell through the cracks -- even though Tamarlan Tsarnaev was originally nominated as a terrorist by the CIA, and his name (with alternative spellings) appeared on three watch lists before he traveled and returned through US customs following his adventure in Russia and Chechnya -- yet, again, nothing was done to even monitor him and prevent another attack.

Nothing has changed, and this is just sickening.

Your world view, if not an aggregation including poor people is that of a corporate economist

The US has fallen by most indices of life at the middle to something like 18th in the world. For the bottom quintile, life is very much like a developing country, for those at the bottom 10 percent, it's a 3rd world country. That's a fact.

Yes, things are still rosy at the top. But, below that, there's growing insecurity. And below that, misery. But, if you're not a consumer, you don't exist in the view of the corporate economists.

For once, I agree with you. When actual US terrorist attacks occurred, NSA spying was useless.

For several decades, every real mass casualty "foreign" terrorist attack that has succeeded inside the US has been carried out by groups and individuals associated with CIA covert operations. In some of these, particularly 9/11, the NSA was conducting surveillance on some of the principal participants, but the FBI was prevented from accessing this data by another federal agency, the Central Intelligence Agency.

Consider this, for instance, about the hijackers who commandeered Flt. 77 on 9/11: http://www.democraticunderground.com/?com=journals&uid=143890

Court records from the trial of convicted co-conspiractor Zakaria Moussaoui shows the FBI was aware of NSA intercepts of Midhar and and his partner Nawaf al-Hazmi in the months leading up to 9/11, who went on to hijack Flt. 77 that slammed into the Pentagon. The pair had also met with the other principal 9/11 hijackers at various locations inside the US. Based in part on NSA wiretaps that were later withheld and suppressed, FBI agents had, in fact, located the pair inside the US in mid-2001, but the investigating agents were ordered to close their files after CIA refused to cooperate and pressured the Bureau to shut down several lines of field investigation that were focusing on the plotters.

(FBI Director) Mueller's claims omit those key facts. The Director instead stated that Khalid al-Midhar was being monitored by intelligence agencies, but “they lost track of him,” Mueller said. http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/2013/0613/Secret-NSA-program-could-have-derailed-9-11-attacks-FBI-director-says-video

In each major terrorist attack that occurred here during the last twenty years, one or more of the perpetrators was known directly to the CIA and identified as a terrorist, yet they somehow managed to enter the US and carry out attacks. This is true going back to WTC '93, and includes 9/11, the string of Anwar al-Awlaki-related incidents (which included 9/11 and the Underwear Bomber), and the Tsarnaev brothers. In other words, almost all real terrorism that has caused civilian casualties in America in recent times has been carried out by "our" terrorists, or more accurately, individuals known by the CIA to be part of terrorist groups.

Let's look at the older Boston Bomber, Tamarlan Tsarnaev. Tamarlan was nominated by the CIA as a terrorist in the fall of 2011 after a Massachusetts triple-murder in which the older brother is now implicated in the killing of his closest friend. Nonetheless, while an active murder investigation was ongoing, Tamarlan was allowed to leave the country to travel to Russia and Chechnya where he met with Islamic militants, and then hastily returned when his local contact with the militants was killed by the Russian security forces. Yet, inexplicably, he was never stopped or questioned during these travels, despite being on three terrorist watch lists. Again, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was designated a terrorist at about the same time he is alleged to have been involved in a triple murder, but at the time whatever was known to the CIA was never turned over to Boston Police or the FBI. In addition, he was not stopped when he left or returned to the US, despite the fact that he is not a US Citizen and was listed on the watchlist: http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/04/27/17945669-boston-bombing-suspects-mother-was-in-us-terror-database?lite

If, after 9/11, we had simply curtailed the CIA's use of terrorists, instead of hastily passing the Patriot Act, we wouldn't be having this debate about NSA. Instead, the government threw money at NSA contractors to spy on everyone, Bush invaded Iraq, and the CIA continued along its merry way, running known terrorists in and out of the country who proceed to carry out attacks with seeming impunity.

Unfortunately, American casualties from terrorist attacks is seen as acceptable collateral damage of CIA covert operations (or, treated as acceptable by US policymakers, who never really change the way intelligence agencies do business) and are used as a pretense to go to war (not necessarily against those who actually attack us) and to build up a police state apparatus inside the US.

This is the real "intelligence failure" of U.S. Counter-terrorism. The lies told to obscure and redirect responsibility for these losses are all the more revolting for the fact that they are so transparent.

Institutional conservative.

If eating live kittens for breakfast were an established part of American government and economy, Obama would sacrifice anything to preserve it. Even kittens . . .

Paleocon/Neocon constellation rising as darkness descends over the Syrian horizon?

Watching the stars and sacrificing bird entrails to find a clue to U.S. policy and intentions.

He'll probably pick up some Russian language and habits fairly quickly. Here's a useful phrase:

Ваше заявление о предоставлении убежища было одобрено, товарищ Эдвард Сноуден. Добро пожаловать в страну свободы и братского мира. Теперь, вы должны научиться, как водка.

("Your asylum application has been approved, comrade Edward Snowden. Welcome to the land of freedom and fraternal peace. Now, you will have to learn to like Vodka.")

He should start with the word водка.

Same rules should apply in Forums and Groups as on the big board.

I don't know where this concept of "privatized" no-dissent zones came from, but I agree, it's not the DU I know.

"Red Hat" Ed, the Ultimate Ethical Hacker. Now, that finally makes some sense of it.


"It's declassified"

Excellent catch.

What the New NSA Docs Show: How They Lied to Us, and a Lot More

For weeks, uncertainty about how the NSA surveillance system - PRISM - actually operates has fueled fierce debate about whether the Obama Administration has been fully candid in its representation of the Agency’s programs.

Release of a new set of slides appears to have answered many of these uncertainties. We can now say with far greater assurance how the NSA actually works and that the President and senior officials have made inaccurate statements.

These documents reveal a substantial amount of new information about PRISM processes and operations, including: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/politics/prism-collection-documents/ And related article. http://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/us-intelligence-mining-data-from-nine-us-internet-companies-in-broad-secret-program/2013/06/06/3a0c0da8-cebf-11e2-8845-d970ccb04497_story.html

SLIDE 1 – PRISM Tasking Process

• The PRISM database contains both CONTENT and METADATA.
• Content (voice messages) is indicated as PENDING STORED COMMS.
• This partially automated PROFILING process employs both real-time SURVEILLANCE data and PENDING STORED COMMS in the decision to target an individual.
• The determination that a potential target is a US PERSON is made by the FBI after profiling has identified the subject.
• Profiling involves searches of databases of other Agencies, including foreign intel service databases
• A warrant is NOT used for this initial PROFILING step.
• The PROVIDERS (Google, Yahoo, etc.) provide additional data after targeting is completed (all targeting data provided stays in the database and informs subsequent profiling decisions.)
• NUCLEON analyses the Voice Content released from the PRISM database.
• PINWALE does the same for email content.

SLIDE 1 (original)


The next slide gives us further detail about the use of voice CONTENT in PRISM:

• Voice recognition and Internet are part of PRISM - it isn't just metadata!
• PRINTAURA automates the traffic flow. SCISSORS and Protocol Exploitation sort data types for analysis in NUCLEON (voice), PINWALE (video), MAINWAY (call records – phone metadata) and MARINA (Internet records).
• In addition to NUCLEON, there is a second voice data program named CONVEYANCE, which appears to be a splitter.
• This slide also shows voice CONTENT is being acquired as part of the same program.
• The claim that PRISM does not contain voice content, just metadata, is simply untrue.
• Voice Metadata goes to MARINA and Internet records are analyzed and stored in MAINWAY.

SLIDE 2 (original)

SLIDE 3: There are 10 Types of Content within PRISM

• The PRISM case notation format reflects the availability, confirmed by The Post's reporting, of real-time surveillance as well as stored content.
• SLIDE 3 shows there are 10 types of CONTENT stored within the PRISM database:

A. Stored Comms (Search)
B. IM (chat)
C. RTN-EDV (real-time notification of an e-mail event such as a login or sent message)
D. RTN-IM (real-time notification of a chat login or logout event)
E. E-Mail
G. Full (WebForum)
H. OSN Messaging (photos, wallposts, activity, etc.)
I. OSN Basic Subscriber Info
J. Videos . (dot): indicates multiple types

NOTE A, SLIDE 3: Voice data appears to be designated “Content Type: STORED COMMS" (Except VoIP)

STORED COMMS is US person voice (and email) content. There is no other other type of content that US person voice content might fit into, and by a process of deduction, nothing else that STORED COMMS might be. Also, please note in Slides 1 and 2, PENDING STORED COMMS is shown to have its own separate process stream inside the PRISM database, and it is not SURVEILLANCE that may be acquired after the warrant is issued. This seems to answer two questions: whether content informs the targeting decision; and, is it gathered before or after a warrant is issued?

Clearly, as these and earlier documents show, the PRISM system and analysts have access to vast amounts of data at the profiling stage before the targeting decision is made, and as NSA interprets the law, this profiling step does not require a FISA warrant under the 2008 FISA Amendement Act (FAA). In addition to content taken from the 8 Internet Service Providers, the PRISM program also taps into fiber cables "upstream" (at international points of ingress/egress to the US and abroad), as shown in the "FAA 702 Operations" slide, June 8 Guardian slide below: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/08/nsa-prism-server-collection-facebook-google

Indeed, it is virtually certain that large amounts of US person data are available without warrants to NSA personnel, at least in the files of other agencies that analysts and contractors may access in the process of profiling suspected terrorists and other NSA targets. Under the law as it was changed by the PATRIOT Act, analysts have 72 hours to examine US person content before they have to seek a warrant. See FISA, 50 U.S.C. § 1801(h)(4): http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/50/1801

no contents of any communication to which a United States person is a party shall be disclosed, disseminated, or used for any purpose or retained for longer than 72 hours unless a court order under section 1805 of this title is obtained or unless the Attorney General determines that the information indicates a threat of death or serious bodily harm to any person.

Furthermore, NSA and its contractors have a full week to seek a FISA warrant under "exigent circumstances". 50 U.S.C. § 1805(e)(3): http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/50/1805

(3) In the absence of a judicial order approving such electronic surveillance, the surveillance shall terminate when the information sought is obtained, when the application for the order is denied, or after the expiration of 7 days from the time of authorization by the Attorney General, whichever is earliest.

PRISM is a “database of databases.” Analysts have access to many databases, both domestic and foreign intelligence agencies, and those contain information from all sources – and they generally are not minimized to segregate US person information. According to the sequence of steps shown in SLIDE 2, US person voice content does get separated out and sent to NUCLEON, and the metadata is deposited in MARINA, but only after a US person has gone through the profiling process. This suggests that US person content is utilized in some way at the initial profiling stage of PRISM, which appears to skirt the intent of FISA, if as we see below, loopholes allow it's use in practice.

Under the law, US person telco content is supposed to be "minimized" under Sec. 215 of the PATRIOT Act, and Sec. 216 is supposed to do the same for US person Internet records. Meanwhile Sec. 702 of the 2008 FAA (FISA Amendent Act) legalized the sort of targeted NSA activities that PRISM carries out, but that targeting is supposed to be restricted to foreign persons abroad. Nonetheless, because of loopholes in the law -- such as the allowance under Sec. 1801(h)(4) and 1805(e)(3) for up to seven days of unfettered viewing of US person data that has been worked into PRISM's Tasking process (profiling) -- it does not look like the FISA wall that is supposed to separate these two NSA programs provides any real separation.

NOTE B, SLIDE 3: NSA intercepts email, on-line chats in real-time, CONTENT TYPES C,D

This appears to answer some of the issue of whether analysts can access communications in real-time, or whether they have to wait for a warrant. That question was raised by this report in CNET: http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-57589495-38/nsa-spying-flap-extends-to-contents-of-u.s-phone-calls/

The National Security Agency has acknowledged in a new classified briefing that it does not need court authorization to listen to domestic phone calls, a participant in the briefing said.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, disclosed on Thursday that during a secret briefing to members of Congress, he was told that the contents of a phone call could be accessed "simply based on an analyst deciding that."

If the NSA wants "to listen to the phone," an analyst's decision is sufficient, without any other legal authorization required, Nadler said he learned. "I was rather startled," said Nadler, an attorney and congressman who serves on the House Judiciary committee.

Not only does this disclosure shed more light on how the NSA's formidable eavesdropping apparatus works domestically, it also suggests the Justice Department has secretly interpreted federal surveillance law to permit thousands of low-ranking analysts to eavesdrop on phone calls.

James Owens, a spokesman for Nadler, provided a statement on Sunday morning, a day after this article was published, saying: "I am pleased that the administration has reiterated that, as I have always believed, the NSA cannot listen to the content of Americans' phone calls without a specific warrant." Owens said he couldn't comment on what assurances from the Obama administration Nadler was referring to, and said Nadler was unavailable for an interview. (CNET had contacted Nadler for comment on Friday.)

Because the same legal standards that apply to phone calls also apply to e-mail messages, text messages, and instant messages, being able to listen to phone calls would mean the NSA analysts could also access the contents of Internet communications without going before a court and seeking approval.

Bear in mind two things: the system seems to handle phone, internet, and email messages differently, and under FISA as revised by the PATRIOT ACT, NSA analysts and contractors have 72 hours to do what they want with all data before seeking a warrant. A warrant is only required if the decision is made to target the individual.

PRISM PROFILING estimate: 90 million callers each month.

SLIDE 4 shows that 117,000 persons were profiled as of April 5, 2013. That may not seem like a very large number. But, NSA analysts are also trained to look at all communications, “two hops” out from a targeted person. The implication of that is that the initial PROFILING step outlined in SLIDE 1 profiles very large numbers of persons, and thus has no real 4th Amendment protection for US persons profiled.

How can that be if the system segregates US person data and is court approved? Look at SLIDES 1 and 2, again. Keep in mind the flow chart that shows how PRISM works. Everyone who has been in communication with those 117,000 targets indicated in SLIDE 4 is also investigated, and (at another “hop”) everyone they have been talking to or emailing or texting or chatting on Internet boards. Because these numbers grow exponentially with each hop, that means that if those 117K persons targeted by PRISM called 30 people that month, and they in turn called 30, the PRISM analysts will have initiated investigations of some 90 million persons each month. That could be more than a billion people each year are profiled. Profiling on this vast scale is consistent with known NSA's statistics: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/27/nsa-online-metadata-collection

"On December 31, 2012, an SSO official wrote that ShellTrumpet had just "processed its One Trillionth metadata record" . . . (five years ago it)"began as a near-real-time metadata analyzer … for a classic collection system", the SSO official noted: "In its five year history, numerous other systems from across the Agency have come to use ShellTrumpet's processing capabilities for performance monitoring" and other tasks, such as "direct email tip alerting."

Almost half of those trillion pieces of internet metadata were processed in 2012, the document detailed: "though it took five years to get to the one trillion mark, almost half of this volume was processed in this calendar year".


The PRISM profiling process contains virtually no safeguards, and here is why:

1) The PRISM Tasking Process flowchart describes an NSA profiling process that does not involve the FBI at any level until the very end, when the FBI ESCU determines the suspect is or is not a US person.
2) The first step in the PRISM process is conducted by software that searches a series of interlinked databases and assembles a predictive profile. The scoring on that profile determines the subject as a potential target. Bill Binney describes that profiling process here: http://civic.mit.edu/blog/schock/the-government-is-profiling-you-william-binney-former-nsa
3) Until the FBI determines that the subject is a US person, the subject is presumed to be a non-US person, and the profiling part of the system affords no 4th Amendment protections in the warrantless search of an array of databases, including those of other US and foreign intelligence services.
4) During this tasking (profiling) stage, the analyst also has access to a near real-time take of the subject's internet activities and chat. No warrant is required for the analyst to carry out this human component of the profiling process. That is described at greater length here: http://www.democraticunderground.com/10023134820
5) The analyst has 72 hours to search across NSA and outside agency databases, as well as real-time monitoring, from the time an anticulable suspicion is raised. During that investigation, supervision is minimal, and the analyst does not have to seek additional permission or a warrant. This initial profiling step is probably the unsupervised analyst's activities that Snowden was describing.

• The metadata focus is the shiny object. The issue is profiling, which does not involve probable cause.

The metadata focus is the shiny object. The issue these new slides raise is profiling – they illustrate how the system profiles suspected callers -- and, many, many more who are called, at least "two hops" out.

Profiling works this way: even though the content of phone and email messages is supposed to be segregated within the databank, the system relies upon algorithms that are built upon all sources of information -- including other US and foreign intel agencies -- to identify possible terrorists when a call is made, in real-time. Those other databases (CIA, FBI, MI6, Saudi MID) inform the NSA PRISM database, but they don't reliably separate (or minimize) US person from foreign person information, so the initial profiling step effectively has no 4th Amendment protections built into it at all. There is no warrant requirement for this step. The NSA reads the law so that it is free to hoover up all calls, email, and Internet traffic, regardless of the parties being within the US. The courts have interpreted that US persons have some expectation of privacy in the content of their voice and email, but considerably less in other Internet communications, so online communications are not protected, and NSA analysts can access them freely in "real-time" whenever you log on. Finally, the courts have little or nothing to say about government profiling of US persons (provided that it doesn't discriminate), so that is where the Agency operates most freely.

In other words, when you place a call, or go on-line to send a message, you're potentially profiled with an NSA "database of databases" that makes no distinctions between US and foreign persons until at a later stage, the software or an analyst determines the caller isn't a likely terrorist or a foreign person.

Obama’s Misleading Statement to Charlie Rose: “There is no content in that database”

Both parts – content and metadata - go through a single NSA database, and these slide show that. Do you want to know what Obama actually said?

Much of the President's credibility on this issue rides on the accuracy of his assertions made to Charlie Rose two weeks ago that NSA's "2015 program" keeps only phone call metadata and does not collect voice content. As he put it, the NSA doesn't listen to Americans phone calls because that data isn't kept. "There is no content. " But, is that true? The Post's revelation about NUCLEON certainly contributes to the doubts about that claim. It now appears that Obama was describing only one isolated part of the PRISM database, MARINA, where US person call metadata is stored. Now that we have the larger picture, that was very misleading of Mr. Obama. Very misleading.

The President's interview with Rose is excerpted at length, below: http://www.democraticunderground.com/10023050432

Program 215, (the President) said gets data from the service providers like a Verizon in bulk, and basically call pairs.

"You have my telephone number connecting with your telephone number. There are no names. There is no content in that database. All it is, is the number pairs, when those calls took place, how long they took place. So that database is sitting there," he said.

"Now, if the NSA through some other sources, maybe through the FBI, maybe through a tip that went to the CIA, maybe through the NYPD. Get a number that where there's a reasonable, articulable suspicion that this might involve foreign terrorist activity related to al-Qaeda and some other international terrorist actors.

Then, what the NSA can do is it can query that database to see did this number pop up? Did they make any other calls? And if they did, those calls will be spit out. A report will be produced. It will be turned over to the FBI. At no point is any content revealed because there's no content," Obama explained.

We now see that the President's statement is, at the least, misleading, if not confused: "There is no content in that database."

What Has and Hasn't Changed Since the 2008 FISA Amendment

The pre-2008 FAA Terrorist Surveillance Program (The Program) swept up everything, content included, and assembled profiles of everybody. That's what Binney and Drake tell us, and they were certainly in a position to know. The EFF suits showed the same thing.

What happens now is that all that data has been harvested and resides in a number of gov't agency databases, and is compared to your metadata whenever you make a call or email. If you score high enough based upon the profile (algorithm), the system red flags you for a warrant. The system takes another look at you in the meantime, before FISC issues the warrant (the law gives NSA 72 hrs. to seek a warrant, and 7 days in "exigent circumstances"), and the content gathered (which Binney says has been encrypted but not destroyed) spills out and gets added to the analyst's "book".

Now, someone needs to explain how, in effect, this sort of warrantless universal profiling is really any different from the warrantless targeted surveillance that was going on before?
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