Bonum Certa Men Certa

Latest CIA/NSA Scandals: More Espionage, Intimidation Against Journalists, Illegal Activities, and Facebook Cooperation

Summary: The story which leaks reveal about the NSA (closely related to the CIA) continues to get uglier and those who tell the story face more and more threats

LEAKS are doing a lot to help the world's population. Consider for example the leak of TPP documents, which corporations tried to keep secret from the public. US politicians finally try to stop this conspiracy to rob the public, but only because crucial information has leaked. The NSA is basically a mechanism that fights against leaks by carrying out large-scale and global surveillance. This intimidates activists such as the EFF, who simply speak out against TPP [1].



Not too long ago, a young man known as Jeremy Hammond leaked evidence of rogue, privatised surveillance and since he is based in the US he now faces many years in prison [2]. Among the things he helped reveal was the use of surveillance mercenaries to intimidate and/or abuse "Occupy" activists [3]. Thanks to Hammond et al. Wikileaks "Sheds More Light On The Global Surveillance Industry" [4], empowering activist groups with lawyers and a lot of staff (such as the EFF [5]). Their lawsuits can induce change in legislation and practice.

In a world without privacy, there is no opportunity for justice, democracy, freedom, and all the rest of the values we are taught to cherish so much [6]. As one man put it [7], "the idea that freedom was consistent with the procedures of totalitarianism was self-evidently false." He spoke about Snowden, who appreciated the value of privacy and needed privacy in order to successfully leak evidence of crimes within the NSA (there is obviously a smear campaign against him right now, trying to shoot the messenger with libel [8]). He was well-informed enough to know that phones are simply listening devices waiting to be taken over (we covered this the other day) and he continues to be a leading example of successful whistleblowing, inspiring many to follow his footsteps (others in the NSA have since then leaked material).

The NSA leaks have become a huge embarrassment for some US politicians [9], especially those who were close to the NSA (like Feinstein [10]). They are clearly part of the problem. As new revelations come out, the scale of espionage becomes clearer. It now turns out that the CIA amassed huge piles of financial data about people all over the world, including US citizens (which is against the law) [11-14]. This kind of snooping is clearly a violation of US law [15], so the attempts to divert away attention are only to be expected [16]. As more transparency would show evidence of the NSA's (and CIA's) crimes, it is no wonder that excuses are being made to maintain secrecy [17,18,19]. There is also collusion with US-based companies [20,21], which makes only one part of the story as the NSA even cracks systems inside the US [22]. This sort of behaviour gives justification for other nations to follow suit [23] and short of public protests [24] there is no much that can be done about it. Espionage [25] and intimidation [26,27] are the name of this game, it's not about terrorism. Here in he UK we have nation-wide surveillance on the table again [28] (it's already taking place, but they try to formally legalise this abuse), not because of terrorism but because our spies want to engage on more espionage [29]. We follow the example of China now [30] and we buy their equipment (e.g. censorship gear) to aid oppression. The US wants Europe to save it from this surveillance industrial complex [31], but here in the UK (not genuinely a loyal part of Europe, at last based on the recent leaks [32]) there continues to be complicity with the NSA, driving nations further away from us [33]. These spies do us a lot of damage, not those who expose them. Our politicians suddenly try to hide their appreciation of transparency [34,35] and they continue to intimidate British journalists [36,37] (they might be worse than US Conservatives, some of whom want the head of the NSA sacked [38,39]).

Thanks to Snowden's leaks, the Web might soon have encryption by default [40] and encryption will be more often practised [41]. It's not just about privacy but also about security [42,43]. There are plenty more revelations to come [44] with help from Wikileaks [45] and tribute is being paid to those who help make it possible [46], or started to make it possible a long time ago [47] (Snowden is hardly the first NSA whistleblower, Perry Fellwock is said to be the first one).

In other interesting news, "Facebook Patented Making NSA Data Handoffs Easier" [48] and the CEO of Box tells Facebook off for aiding NSA spying [49]. Facebook is basically a crowdsourced/volunteer effort to geo-tag and ID-tag people for those people (not necessarily subscribed to Facebook) to be easily trackable, their connections to be made visible, and plenty of photos of their face (from many positions) to be available for face recognition efforts (training classifiers to spy on people through CCTV and other Orwellian means).

Mass surveillance society is finally being challenged by the people and in order to facilitate leaks about it we must ensure they can anonymously and securely show violations of the law. The NSA used illegal activities to crush leaks and in turn it had staff leaking these illegal activities. Epic karma.

Related/contextual items from the news:



  1. EFF and Other Groups to NSA: Are You Spying on Our TPP Work?
    EFF has joined over three dozen civil society groups in seeking assurances that our collective work on trade negotiations is not being surveilled by the National Security Agency (NSA) or other United States security agencies. In a letter sent this week to NSA Director Keith Alexander and U.S. Trade Rep Michael Froman, we asked whether the NSA is spying on organizations and individuals advocating for the public interest in U.S. trade policy. We also demanded answers on whether the US Trade Representative has requested this data, if they have included communications with foreign nationals, and if that surveillance has occurred within U.S. borders.


  2. 10 Year Prison Term Sought for Anonymous Hacktivist Jeremy Hammond


  3. Chris Hedges | The Revolutionaries in Our Midst
    Jeremy Hammond sat in New York’s Metropolitan Correctional Center last week in a small room reserved for visits from attorneys. He was wearing an oversized prison jumpsuit. The brown hair of the lanky 6-footer fell over his ears, and he had a wispy beard. He spoke with the intensity and clarity one would expect from one of the nation’s most important political prisoners.

    On Friday the 28-year-old activist will appear for sentencing in the Southern District Court of New York in Manhattan. After having made a plea agreement, he faces the possibility of a 10-year sentence for hacking into the Texas-based private security firm Strategic Forecasting Inc., or Stratfor, which does work for the Homeland Security Department, the Marine Corps, the Defense Intelligence Agency and numerous corporations including Dow Chemical and Raytheon.

    [...]

    Hammond turned the pilfered information over to the website WikiLeaks and Rolling Stone and other publications. The 3 million email exchanges, once made public, exposed the private security firm’s infiltration, monitoring and surveillance of protesters and dissidents, especially in the Occupy movement, on behalf of corporations and the national security state. And, perhaps most important, the information provided chilling evidence that anti-terrorism laws are being routinely used by the federal government to criminalize nonviolent, democratic dissent and falsely link dissidents to international terrorist organizations. Hammond sought no financial gain. He got none.


  4. Spy Files 3: WikiLeaks Sheds More Light On The Global Surveillance Industry


  5. Generate Your Own Universal Surveillance Justification


  6. Mistaking Omniscience for Omnipotence: A World Without Privacy
    Given how similar they sound and how easy it is to imagine one leading to the other, confusing omniscience (having total knowledge) with omnipotence (having total power) is easy enough. It’s a reasonable supposition that, before the Snowden revelations hit, America’s spymasters had made just that mistake. If the drip-drip-drip of Snowden’s mother of all leaks -- which began in May and clearly won’t stop for months to come -- has taught us anything, however, it should be this: omniscience is not omnipotence. At least on the global political scene today, they may bear remarkably little relation to each other. In fact, at the moment Washington seems to be operating in a world in which the more you know about the secret lives of others, the less powerful you turn out to be.


  7. Snowden and the Future: what’s really at stake
    "the idea that freedom was consistent with the procedures of totalitarianism was self-evidently false."


  8. Vanity Fair editor’s crazy conspiracy theory
    Former NYT scribe Kurt Eichenwald just knows Edward Snowden's a Chinese spy -- no matter what logic says


  9. After the NSA revelations, who will listen to America on human rights?
    The US was once in a position to promote human rights abroad. That was undermined under Bush, and the damage continues


  10. Feinstein's NSA bill shows she doesn't have a clue about intelligence reform
    Senator Feinstein's bill is a big step backwards for privacy. In contrast, the USA Freedom Act would stop intelligence abuses


  11. C.I.A. Collecting Data on International Money Transfers, Officials Say


  12. CIA collecting bulk data on money transfers, reports say
    Secret program involving counter-terrorism collects and stores data on cross-border money transfers handled by firms like Western Union, according to reports. Some Americans' data is swept up.


  13. Confirmed: CIA, NSA, IRS collected and shared Americans' personal information
    On a mission to detect untrustworthy employees, nearly 30 government agencies collected and shared the personal information of thousands of Americans, many of whom had no ties to the federal government.

    A list of 4,904 people was created by US officials investigating two men for allegedly teaching people how to pass polygraph tests. This list was shared with agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service, the CIA, the Food and Drug Administration, and the National Security Agency (NSA), who then entered the names in their database. They are keeping the list in the event that one of the flagged individuals submits to a lie detector test for a federal job.


  14. CIA's Financial Spying Bags Data on Americans


  15. DiFi Fake FISA Fix Explicitly Allows Contractors to Conduct Suspicionless Searches on US Person Data
  16. The House Intelligence Committee's Misinformation Campaign About the NSA
    Rep. Mike Rogers, Chair of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI), is a busy man. Since June, he (and HPSCI) have been all over the media with press statements, TV appearances, and tweets, relentlessly trying to persuade the public that the National Security Agency (NSA) is merely doing its job when it collects innocent Americans' calling records, phone calls, and emails.

    One such release is a "Myths v. Facts" page tackling the fact and fiction of the NSA's activities. In addition to collecting phone calls and emails, we now know these practices include deliberately weakening international cryptographic standards and hacking into companies' data centers, but, unfortunately, the page is misleading and full of NSA talking points. And one statement is downright false.


  17. Obama aides: Transparency plans could harm security
  18. More NSA transparency would lead to bigger privacy invasion, agency lawyer says
    In a hearing pushing forward legislation that would shed light on the NSA's collection of Americans' data, Senator Al Franken (D-MN) questioned national security officials on why intelligence agencies couldn't be more transparent about who they were collecting data from. "Many of the broadest laws of FISA, like section 702, explicitly say that you can only use it to target foreign people," Franken said. "Isn't it a bad thing that the NSA doesn't even have a rough sense of how many Americans have had their information collection under a law ... that explicitly prohibits targeting Americans?"


  19. Michael Hayden Claims State Secrecy Is Just Like Personal Privacy
    Former NSA and CIA boss Michael Hayden has a way of not just being wrong and misleading about the intelligence community whenever he opens his mouth, but he's frequently obnoxious about it. That was very much on display last night when Hayden got to debate reporter Barton Gellman at Duke. Gellman, of course, is one of the three early reporters (along with Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras) who had direct access to Ed Snowden and got initial documents directly from him.

    [...]

    This is difficult to believe. In fact, it's impossible to believe. First off, it's been widely reported that any serious terrorist group has long known not to use things like American company email systems, because they're being monitored. Second, if the revelations here made it more difficult for terrorists to communicate, isn't that a good thing? Don't we want to disrupt their communications and make it harder for them to plot?


  20. Smooth operators: why phone companies don't fight the NSA
    Will AT&T and Verizon ever push back against NSA surveillance? Don't bet on it


  21. CIA pays potential Vodafone buyer AT&T $10m per year for phone data
    According to a report in the New York Times, the CIA has been paying telecommunications company AT&T $10 million (€£6 million) per year since 2010 for access to its phone records. The news will be troubling to European regulators, considering AT&T may potentially buy out Vodafone Europe. The latter's share price took a minor hit this morning after the news broke, before swiftly recovering.


  22. NSA Intercepts Links to Google, Yahoo Data Centers


  23. NSA Leaks Could Inspire a Global Boom in Intrusive Surveillance
    Governments already dabbling with authoritarian control of the Internet could be spurred on by learning of NSA surveillance.


  24. Seattle police deactivate surveillance system after public outrage
    Police in Seattle, Washington have responded to a major public outcry by disabling a recently discovered law enforcement tool that critics said could be used to conduct sweeping surveillance across the city.


  25. If The NSA Isn't Engaged In Economic Espionage, Why Is The USTR Considered 'A Customer' Of Intelligence?


  26. EFF Files 22 Firsthand Accounts of How NSA Surveillance Chilled the Right to Association
    Advocacy Organizations Seek Immediate Court Ruling on the Legality of the NSA’s Mass Collection of Telephone Records


  27. NSA 'Chilling' Effect Feared By Writers
    American writers are increasingly fearful of government surveillance in the wake of Edward Snowden's revelations about the National Security Agency and have even started to self-censor their work, a survey released by the writers' group PEN on Tuesday found.

    Eighty-five percent of PEN's American members are worried about government surveillance, the group's report found. PEN is best known for standing up for the rights of writers internationally, championing imprisoned Nigerian playwright Wole Soyinka in the 1960s and Salman Rushdie when he was threatened with death for his book The Satanic Verses.


  28. Counter-terror chief renews fight for 'snooper's charter'
    Charles Farr tells MPs that public's data was never collected by GCHQ and claims Snowden leaks damaged GCHQ's work


  29. Quantum of pwnness: How NSA and GCHQ hacked OPEC and others


  30. Chinese CCTV Surveillance Defeated By Chinese Smog
    It's hard to believe that terrorists will hang around, checking the local visibility, before deciding to launch their attacks. It's more likely that the issue here is the local police freaking out when they find they can't spy on what ordinary citizens get up to.


  31. Europe, SAVE US! Patriot Act author begs for help to curb NSA spying
    US House Representative Jim Sensenbrenner, the lead author of controversial anti-terror law the Patriot Act, has asked the European Parliament for help in taming the NSA.


  32. Germans seek their own internet after NSA spying revelations
    CONCERN about spying by America's National Security Agency (NSA) is leading some German businesses to seek their own, separate internet.



  33. Brazil debates internet law in wake of NSA scandal
    Along with Russia, China and Iran, Brazil was one of the countries of most interest for US intelligence agencies, according to the leaks from the US National Security Agency (NSA).


  34. Conservative party deletes archive of speeches from internet


  35. Conservatives erase Internet history
    Prime minister David Cameron and chancellor George Osborne campaigned on a promise to democratise information held by those in power, so people could hold them to account. They wanted to use the internet transform politics.


  36. NSA leaks: Theresa May says editors 'should recognise their responsibilities'
    Theresa May has become the latest Tory cabinet minister to criticise the publication of stories based on Edward Snowden's NSA leaks, saying anything that "potentially gives help to terrorists" is something the government "needs to be concerned about and act on".


  37. Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger to be questioned by MPs over NSA leaks
    Rusbridger to appear before home affairs select committee after claims that revelations were damaging national security


  38. John McCain says NSA chief Keith Alexander 'should resign or be fired'


  39. McCain: NSA chief should be fired


  40. Snowden’s legacy: The open web could soon be encrypted by default
    Well here’s one way to stymie the NSA: in a couple of years, much if not most of the open web will be encrypted by default. Following recent discussions between the big browser makers, standards-setters and other industry folks, the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) HTTP Working Group announced on Wednesday that the upcoming second version of the HTTP protocol will only work with secure “https” web addresses.


  41. NSA revelations show need to encrypt data
    Every revelation about the spying activities of the US National Security Agency (NSA) only makes it clearer that people need to encrypt their online data if they want to keep it away from prying eyes.

    That point was only made clearer by a recent Washington Post report that alleged the spy agency was trawling for data from Google and Yahoo.


  42. Cryptographic Blunders Revealed by Adobe's Password Leak
    Adobe lost 150 million customer passwords. Even worse, they had a pretty dumb cryptographic hash system protecting those passwords.


  43. End-To-End Encryption Isn't Just About Privacy, But Security


  44. NSA chief says Edward Snowden leaked up to 200,000 secret documents
    Former US National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden leaked as many as 200,000 classified US documents to the media, according to little-noticed public remarks by the eavesdropping agency's chief late last month.


  45. WikiLeaks' Sarah Harrison who helped Snowden reach Moscow fears returning to UK


  46. The True Patriots in Congress Trying to End NSA Tyranny
    Good old George can stop spinning in his grave. Yes, that George, our most heroic general and inspiring president, who warned us in his farewell address “to guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism. ...” It’s an alert that’s been ignored in the nation’s hysterical reaction to the attacks of 9/11 that culminated in the NSA’s assault on our Constitution’s guarantee of “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures. ...”


  47. The original NSA whistleblower


  48. Facebook Patented Making NSA Data Handoffs Easier


  49. Aaron Levie: Facebook and Google Need to Take Stand Against NSA Spying
    Box CEO Aaron Levie brands NSA and GCHQ spying on US technology firms as "extremely bad" and calls for Facebook and Google to drive change.




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