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Current location: Potlandia
Member since: Fri Sep 28, 2007, 04:39 PM
Number of posts: 9,641

Journal Archives

NSA-Corporate Collusion Built Network to Reach 75% of Internet Traffic

Just in case you thought the extent of the NSA spying on American citizens has been "exaggerated" or "over-blown", here is yet more evidence that indeed, we are being spied upon more and more, and it's getting worse as time passes unless we get Congress to push back at some point before it's too late, if it isn't already.

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NSA-Corporate Collusion Built Network to Reach 75% of Internet Traffic
System is built on relationships between internet and phone providers working together and 'policing themselves'
Wednesday, August 21, 2013 * Common Dreams * Jon Queally, staff writer

In a fresh angle on the National Security Agency's sweeping surveillance grip on domestic internet communications, the Wall Street Journal—citing current and former officials with "direct knowledge of the work"—reports that the agency has built a much more robust spy network than the agency has previously admitted, powerful enough to reach into "roughly 75% of all U.S. internet traffic" in its hunt for pertinent information.

"In some cases," the WSJ reports, " retains the written content of emails sent between citizens within the U.S. and also filters domestic phone calls made with Internet technology."

What the reporting also reveals are new details about the close relationship between the government's surveillance apparatus and private telecommunications companies that have given the NSA access to "major internet junctions" within the U.S. "The surveillance system is built on relationships with telecommunications carriers," writes the WSJ, describing how those companies "must hand over what the NSA asks for under orders from the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court."

But, as one expert explained, the involved telecommunications companies and the government are really left "policing the system themselves." According to him and despite repeated assurances from officials that only "the bad guys" are targeted, "There's technically and physically nothing preventing a much broader surveillance."

Though the new reporting includes references to programs made known to the U.S. and global public via classified documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, the WSJ interviewed unnamed government officials to confirm aspects of how specific programs fit into a broader framework.

As the WSJ reports:

The NSA's filtering, carried out with telecom companies, is designed to look for communications that either originate or end abroad, or are entirely foreign but happen to be passing through the U.S. But officials say the system's broad reach makes it more likely that purely domestic communications will be incidentally intercepted and collected in the hunt for foreign ones.

The programs, code-named Blarney, Fairview, Oakstar, Lithium and Stormbrew, among others, filter and gather information at major telecommunications companies. Blarney, for instance, was established with AT&T Inc., former officials say. AT&T declined to comment.

This filtering takes place at more than a dozen locations at major Internet junctions in the U.S., officials say. Previously, any NSA filtering of this kind was largely believed to be happening near points where undersea or other foreign cables enter the country.


Greenwald: 'Sending a Message': What the US and UK Are Attempting To Do

'Sending a Message': What the US and UK Are Attempting To Do
State-loyal journalists seem to believe in a duty to politely submit to bullying tactics from political officials
Wednesday, August 21, 2013 * The Guardian * by Glenn Greenwald

Guardian editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger on Monday night disclosed the remarkable news that UK authorities, several weeks ago, threatened the Guardian UK with prior restraint if they did not destroy all of their materials provided by Edward Snowden, and then sent agents to the basement of the paper's offices to oversee the physical destruction of hard drives. The Guardian has more details on that episode today, and MSNBC's Chris Hayes interviewed the Guardian's editor-in-chief about it last night. As Rusbriger explains, this behavior was as inane as it was thuggish: since this is 2013, not 1958, destroying one set of a newspaper's documents doesn't destroy them all, and since the Guardian has multiple people around the world with copies, they achieved nothing but making themselves look incompetently oppressive.

But conveying a thuggish message of intimidation is exactly what the UK and their superiors in the US national security state are attempting to accomplish with virtually everything they are now doing in this matter. On Monday night, Reuters' Mark Hosenball reported the following about the 9-hour detention of my partner under a terrorism law, all with the advanced knowledge of the White House:

One US security official told Reuters that one of the main purposes of the British government's detention and questioning of Miranda was to send a message to recipients of Snowden's materials, including the Guardian, that the British government was serious about trying to shut down the leaks."


... vowing to report on the nefarious secret spying activities of a large government - which is what I did - is called "journalism", not "revenge". As the Washington Post headline to Andrea Peterson's column on Monday explained: "No, Glenn Greenwald didn't 'vow vengeance.' He said he was going to do his job." She added:

"Greenwald's point seems to have been that he was determined not to be scared off by intimidation. Greenwald and the Guardian have already been publishing documents outlining surveillance programs in Britain, and Greenwald has long declared his intention to continue publishing documents. By doing so, Greenwald isn't taking 'vengeance.' He's just doing his job."

But here's the most important point: the US and the UK governments go around the world threatening people all the time. It's their modus operandi. They imprison whistleblowers. They try to criminalize journalism. They threatened the Guardian with prior restraint and then forced the paper to physically smash their hard drives in a basement. They detained my partner under a terrorism law, repeatedly threatened to arrest him, and forced him to give them his passwords to all sorts of invasive personal information - behavior that even one of the authors of that terrorism law says is illegal, which the Committee for the Protection of Journalists said yesterday is just "the latest example in a disturbing record of official harassment of the Guardian over its coverage of the Snowden leaks", and which Human Rights Watch says was "intended to intimidate Greenwald and other journalists who report on surveillance abuses." And that's just their recent behavior with regard to press freedoms: it's to say nothing of all the invasions, bombings, renderings, torture and secrecy abuses for which that bullying, vengeful duo is responsible over the last decade.


NSA Underbelly <= Corporate Overlords In The Saddle on Steroids

One of the most disturbing facts that has recently come to light, is how
much of the US Surveillance & Security State apparatus is PRIVATELY
OWNED, i.e. done by private corporations contracting with the NSA
and/or CIA/FBI/Etc. Of the 1.4 million who have the higher "top secret"
access, 483,000, or 34 percent, work for contractors.

Back in June, Democracy Now has just done a great segment on this, here:

If this were "just" the government (with no private corporations involved)
doing all this illegal spying, it would be bad enough. That's basically what
happened with the Church Committee hearings in Congress regarding operation
COINTELPRO; and it was out of those hearings that we got FISA in the first place.
But back then, it was only the government spying agencies involved, not
shadowy private corporations, like Booz Allan & Blackwater.

Well now, flash forward to the present situation with massive amounts of
DIME. That means that our government is now basically PAYING PRIVATE
US CITIZENS. <--(that's us).

This is a deplorable & unprecedented travesty against all that is good, and true,
and honorable about being a citizen of the US of A. We literally cannot say anymore
to one another "Hey, it's a free country!" to remind ourselves that dissent and
unpopular views are never-the-less tolerated out of respect for the US Constitution.
Not anymore.

This needs to change, and change big-time. The entire surveillance & security
state apparatus needs to be almost completely dismantled, and rebuilt to the
specifications of the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

The GUARDIAN: We destroyed hard drives of leaked NSA files under threat of legal action & closure

NSA files: why the Guardian in London destroyed hard drives of leaked files
A threat of legal action by the government that could have stopped reporting on the files leaked by Edward Snowden led to a symbolic act at the Guardian's offices in London
Julian Borger * The Guardian * Tuesday 20 August 2013

Guardian editors on Tuesday revealed why and how the newspaper destroyed computer hard drives containing copies of some of the NSA and GCHQ secret files leaked by Edward Snowden.

The decision was taken after a threat of legal action by the government that could have stopped reporting on the extent of American and British government surveillance revealed by the documents.

It resulted in one of the stranger episodes in the history of digital-age journalism. On Saturday 20 July, in a deserted basement of the Guardian's King's Cross offices, a senior editor and a Guardian computer expert used angle grinders and other household tools to pulverise the hard drives and memory chips on which the encrypted files had been stored.

As they worked, they were watched intently by technicians from the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) who took notes and photographs, but who left empty-handed.

The editor of the Guardian, Alan Rusbridger, had earlier informed government officials that other copies of the files existed outside the country and that the Guardian was neither the sole recipient nor steward of the files leaked by Snowden, a former NSA contractor. But the government insisted that the material be either destroyed or surrendered.

Twelve days after the destruction of the files, the Guardian reported on US funding of GCHQ eavesdropping operations and published a portrait of working life in the British agency's huge "doughnut" building in Cheltenham. Guardian US, based and edited in New York, has also continued to report on evidence of NSA co-operation with American telecommunications corporations to maximise the collection of data on internet and telephone users around the world.


Also see: http://www.democraticunderground.com/10023495525

The Guardian is being threatened with censorship & closure over Edward Snowden revelations

With The Guardian itself now under direct attack like this, I think things just a lot stranger. I mean WTF?
One of the bastions of real journalism is being openly bullied by the surveillance & security state thugs.

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Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger says paper was threatened with censorship over Edward Snowden revelations
ABC News - The World Today * By Will Ockenden * August 20, 2013

Guardian newspaper editor Alan Rusbridger has revealed that British authorities threatened to censor his team's reporting on surveillance by the state.

Rusbridger says British officials told him that documents from the whistleblower Edward Snowden should be destroyed or handed back and that they would use the courts to enforce their position.

The British government is already facing questions over why the partner of a Guardian journalist was held at Heathrow Airport for nine hours under anti-terrorism laws.

Rusbridger wrote on the Guardian website that UK officials have asked him to stop reporting news of government internet surveillance systems.

"During one of these meetings I asked directly whether the government would move to close down the Guardian's reporting through a legal route - by going to court to force the surrender of the material on which we were working," he said in a statement.

He says two months ago he was contacted by a senior government official who said he represented the views of prime minister David Cameron.

Rusbridger says during a "steely" yet "cordial" meeting, the official demanded the return or destruction of documents obtained from Mr Snowden. "The official confirmed that, in the absence of handover or destruction, this was indeed the government's intention," Rusbridger said.

"Prior restraint, near impossible in the US, was now explicitly and imminently on the table in the UK."


Security experts 'oversaw destruction of hard drives'
Rusbridger says that about a month ago, a UK official, referring to the Snowden documents, told him: "You've had your fun. Now we want the stuff back." He says there were further meetings with "shadowy Whitehall figures" who again demanded the return of the Snowden material....

Guardian vows to keep pursuing story
Rusbridger confirmed that the Guardian will keep reporting the story, likely via backups of the documents, just not from London.
The Guardian's decision to publicise the threats is the latest step in an escalating battle between some media companies and western governments....


BREAKING: Glenn Greenwald's partner detained at Heathrow airport for nine hours

Glenn Greenwald's partner detained at Heathrow airport for nine hours
David Miranda, partner of Guardian interviewer of whistleblower Edward Snowden, questioned under Terrorism Act
Guardian staff * The Guardian * Sunday 18 August 2013

The partner of the Guardian journalist who has written a series of stories revealing mass surveillance programmes by the US National Security Agency was held for almost nine hours on Sunday by UK authorities as he passed through London's Heathrow airport on his way home to Rio de Janeiro.

David Miranda, who lives with Glenn Greenwald, was returning from a trip to Berlin when he was stopped by officers at 8.30am and informed that he was to be questioned under schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000. The controversial law, which applies only at airports, ports and border areas, allows officers to stop, search, question and detain individuals.

The 28-year-old was held for nine hours, the maximum the law allows
before officers must release or formally arrest the individual. According to official figures, most examinations under schedule 7 – over 97% – last under an hour, and only one in 2,000 people detained are kept for more than six hours.

Miranda was then released without charge, but officials confiscated electronics equipment including his mobile phone, laptop, camera, memory sticks, DVDs and games consoles.


5 Companies That Make Money By Keeping Americans Terrified of Terror Attacks

5 Companies That Make Money By Keeping Americans Terrified of Terror Attacks
A massive industry profits off the government-induced fear of terrorism.
AlterNet * By Alex Kane * August 16, 2013

Michael Hayden, the former director of the National Security Agency, has invaded America’s television sets in recent weeks to warn about Edward Snowden’s leaks and the continuing terrorist threat to America.

But what often goes unmentioned, as the Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald pointed out, is that Hayden has a financial stake in keeping Americans scared and on a permanent war footing against Islamist militants. And the private firm he works for, called the Chertoff Group, is not the only one making money by scaring Americans.

Post-9/11 America has witnessed a boom in private firms dedicated to the hyped-up threat of terrorism. The drive to privatize America's national security apparatus accelerated in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks, and it’s gotten to the point where 70 percent of the national intelligence budget is now spent on private contractors, as author Tim Shorrock reported. The private intelligence contractors have profited to the tune of at least $6 billion a year. In 2010, the Washington Post revealed that there are 1,931 private firms across the country dedicated to fighting terrorism.

What it all adds up to is a massive industry profiting off government-induced fear of terrorism, even though Americans are more likely to be killed by a car crash or their own furniture than a terror attack.

Here are five private companies cashing in on keeping you afraid.
1. The Chertoff Group
2. Booz Allen Hamilton
3. Science Applications International Corporation
4. Center for Counterintelligence and Security Studies
5. Security Solutions International

Many interesting details about each company at:

4 Cases of the U.S. Sheltering Vicious Criminals that Reveal Total Hypocrisy on Snowden

4 Cases of the U.S. Sheltering Vicious Criminals that Reveal Total Hypocrisy on Snowden
From a CIA agent to a Cuban terrorist, the U.S. shelters people who are accused of heinous crimes.
August 14, 2013 * By Alex Kane * Alternet

Russia’s decision early this month to grant National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden temporary asylum in the country has led to a chorus of U.S. officials and media personalities denouncing Vladimir Putin.

“Russia has stabbed us in the back, and each day that Mr. Snowden is allowed to roam free is another twist of the knife,” said Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on August 2. “Putin is acting like a schoolyard bully.” David Satter of the conservative publication National Review used the occasion to write that “ Russia, unlike the U.S., has no rule of law.”

But the cries for Russia to grant the request to extradite Snowden to face certain imprisonment and potential harsh punishment has exposed U.S. hypocrisy. There have been a number of cases in recent years where countries asked the U.S. to extradite suspected criminals back to their countries. But when it comes to those who committed crimes in the service of U.S. policy, America refuses those requests.

As the Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald pointed out in a recent column, the U.S. shelters a number of people who are accused of crimes more heinous than Snowden's—even if the country making the request has an extradition treaty with America, which Russia does not have.

Here are four egregious cases where the U.S. has refused extradition requests.

MoJo: There is No Such Thing As NSA-Proof Email - Just ask ultra-secure email providers.

There is No Such Thing As NSA-Proof Email - Just ask ultra-secure email providers.
August 17, 2013 * Mother Jones via Alternet * By Mariah Blake, Gavin Aronsen, Dana Liebelson

Since last June, when Edward Snowden tore the veil off the National Security Agency's vast data dragnet, Americans have been flocking to ultrasecure email services in the hopes of keeping the government out of their private business. Use of the most popular email encryption software, PGP, tripled between June and July, while revenue for the data-encryption company Silent Circle has shot up 400 percent.

But even these services may not be able to protect your email from government prying. That fact came into stark relief last Thursday, when Lavabit, the secure email service used by Snowden, abruptly shut down. Lavabit's 32-year-old founder, Ladar Levison, issued a statement saying he pulled the plug because he didn't want to be "complicit in crimes against the American people." He has since given up using email entirely, and he urges others to consider doing the same. "I would strongly recommend against entrusting your privacy to a company with physical ties to the United States," he told Mother Jones. "I honestly don't think it's possible to provide a secure service in this country."

Levison, who is reportedly under federal gag order, declined to elaborate (though he opined, based on his experience, that we're a "whisper's breath away" from becoming a society where all electronic communications are recorded and scrutinized by the government). But according to other industry insiders and cybersecurity experts, there's good reason to be wary of transmitting sensitive information via email—even if your provider claims to have iron-clad safeguards.

Tech giants, such as the Microsoft subsidiary Hotmail, regularly hand over data to the government. In fact, in the last eight months of 2012 (the most recent period for which data is available), Hotmail, Google, Facebook, and Twitter provided law enforcement authorities with information on more than 64,000 users. And that doesn't include responses to secret national security letters ordered by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court, or FISA.


Transparency? The word games behind the defense of NSA surveillance

Here's a handy guide to understanding the dodgy language used by NSA apologists.

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Transparency? The word games behind the defense of NSA surveillance
byJoan McCarterFollow * Daily Kos * August 15, 2013

Trevor Timm at the indispensable Electronic Frontier Foundation has your guide to understanding when the government is lying to you about NSA surveillance. Which is pretty much most of the time. Some of his examples:

What does "bulk collection" mean? An intelligence official says it's "when we collect and retain for some period of time that lets us do retrospective analysis." We've seen this in action before, when Director of National Intelligence James Clapper was trying to twist his way out of admitting that he lied to Congress. The actual act of hoovering up of millions of communications from Americans, without a warrant, isn't "collecting," according to the administration.

Then there's the word "target." When government officials can’t directly answer a question with a secret definition, officials will often answer a different question than they were asked. For example, if asked, “can you read Americans’ email without a warrant,” officials will answer: “we cannot target Americans’ email without a warrant.” As we explained last week, the NSA’s warped definition of word “target” is full of so many holes that it allows the NSA to reach into untold number of Americans’ emails, some which can be purely domestic.

Here's another favorite: the "not under this program" dodge. Another tried and true technique in the NSA obfuscation playbook is to deny it does one invasive thing or another “under this program.” When it’s later revealed the NSA actually doesdo the spying it said it didn’t, officials can claim it was just part of another program not referred to in the initial answer. Now we’re likely seeing it as part of the telephone records collection debate when administration officials repeat over and over that they aren’t collecting location data “under this program.” Sen. Ron Wyden has strongly suggested this might not be the whole story.

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