Foreign politicians and officials who took part in two G20 summit meetings in London in 2009 had their computers monitored and their phone calls intercepted on the instructions of their British government hosts, according to documents seen by the Guardian. Some delegates were tricked into using internet cafes which had been set up by British intelligence agencies to read their email traffic.
The revelation comes as Britain prepares to host another summit on Monday – for the G8 nations, all of whom attended the 2009 meetings which were the object of the systematic spying. It is likely to lead to some tension among visiting delegates who will want the prime minister to explain whether they were targets in 2009 and whether the exercise is to be repeated this week.
What Edward Snowden has done is an amazingly brave and courageous act of civil disobedience.
Like me, he became discomforted by what he was exposed to and what he saw: the industrial-scale systematic surveillance that is scooping up vast amounts of information not only around the world but in the United States, in direct violation of the fourth amendment of the US constitution.
The NSA programs that Snowden has revealed are nothing new: they date back to the days and weeks after 9/11. I had direct exposure to similar programs, such as Stellar Wind, in 2001. In the first week of October, I had an extraordinary conversation with NSA’s lead attorney. When I pressed hard about the unconstitutionality of Stellar Wind, he said:
“The White House has approved the program; it’s all legal. NSA is the executive agent.”
It was made clear to me that the original intent of government was to gain access to all the information it could without regard for constitutional safeguards. “You don’t understand,” I was told. “We just need the data.”
In the first week of October 2001, President Bush had signed an extraordinary order authorizing blanket dragnet electronic surveillance: Stellar Wind was a highly secret program that, without warrant or any approval from the Fisa court, gave the NSA access to all phone records from the major telephone companies, including US-to-US calls. It correlates precisely with the Verizon order revealed by Snowden; and based on what we know, you have to assume that there are standing orders for the other major telephone companies.
According to U.S. Representative Loretta Sanchez, members of Congress learned “significantly more than what is out in the media today” during a closed briefing about the NSA on Tuesday, and that what has been revealed so far about NSA snooping is “just the tip of the iceberg”. During her interview with C-SPAN on Wednesday, she also stated that NSA spying is “just broader than most people even realize” but due to security restrictions she could not reveal more than that. So precisely what are the American people not being told? And do our leaders ever plan to tell us the truth? Many of our politicians have come down extremely hard on whistleblower Edward Snowden, but if it wasn’t for him most Americans would have no idea what the NSA has been up to. Is the Obama administration going to come clean on this, or do we have to wait for even more whistleblowers to come forward? The American people deserve to know that they are being spied on, and it appears that those in charge of doing this spying have been flat out lying to Congress about it.
Establishment politicians from both major political parties are rushing to defend the NSA and condemn whistleblower Edward Snowden. They are attempting to portray Edward Snowden as a “traitor” and the spooks over at the NSA that are snooping on all of us as “heroes”. In fact, many of the exact same politicians that once railed against government spying during the Bush years are now staunchly defending it now that Obama is in the White House. But it isn’t just Democrats that are acting shamefully. Large numbers of Republican politicians that love to give speeches about “freedom” and “liberty” are attempting to eviscerate the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The government is not supposed to invade our privacy and investigate us unless there is probable cause to do so. Apparently many of our politicians misunderstood when they read the novel 1984 by George Orwell. It wasn’t supposed to be an instruction manual. We should be thanking Edward Snowden for exposing the deep corruption that is eating away at our own government like cancer. Now the American people need to pick up the ball and start demanding answers, because without a doubt we are going to see establishment politicians from both major political parties try to shut this scandal down. Establishment Democrats and establishment Republicans both love the Big Brother surveillance grid that the U.S. government has constructed, and they are both making it abundantly clear that they will defend the NSA to the very end.
The following are 22 nauseating quotes from hypocritical establishment politicians that show exactly how they feel about the NSA spying scandal…
If the constitutional scholar was hoping he would quietly avoid a major showdown over the constitutionality of the biggest spying scandal since Nixon (whether legal or not remains to be determined) and which would likely have led to an early POTUS retirement if current president was republican, the ACLU just slammed the door shut on the possibility. Moments ago, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration over its “dragnet” collection of logs of domestic phone calls, contending that the once-secret program is illegal and asking a judge to both stop it and order the records purged. And, as the NYT reports, “the lawsuit, filed in New York, could set up an eventual Supreme Court test.” Only once that happens it will be too bad that InTrade is no longer available, to take the other side of a trade that believes the SCOTUS will for once do the right thing and preserve the constitution when everyone knows the decision to formally enact a Big Brother state will pass along political party lines and America will officially become the country that for 5 decades, at least superficially, it was waging “cold war” against.
The program began as part of the Bush administration’s post-9/11 programs of surveillance without warrants, and, it is now known, it has continued since 2006 with the blessing of a national security court, which has ruled in still-secret legal opinions that such bulk surveillance was authorized by a section of the Patriot Act that allows the F.B.I. to obtain “business records” if they are relevant to a counterterrorism investigation.
When even Zee Germans are staring open-mouthed at what they call “American-style Stasi methods” you know things have got a little out of hand. As Reuters reports, German outrage over a U.S. Internet spying program has broken out ahead of a visit by Barack Obama, with ministers demanding the president provide a full explanation when he lands in Berlin next week and one official likening the tactics to those of the East German Stasi. “The more a society monitors, controls and observes its citizens, the less free it is,” Merkel’s Justice Minister exclaimed, adding, “the suspicion of excessive surveillance of communication is so alarming that it cannot be ignored.” While Obama has defended it as a “modest encroachment” on privacy and reassured Americans that no one is listening to their phone calls, the Germans reflect “I thought this era had ended when the DDR fell.” Via Reuters,
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman has said she will raise the issue with Obama in talks next Wednesday, potentially casting a cloud over a visit that was designed to celebrate U.S.-German ties on the 50th anniversary John F. Kennedy’s famous “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech.
Government surveillance is an extremely sensitive topic in Germany, where memories of the dreaded Stasi secret police and its extensive network of informants are still fresh in the minds of many citizens.
Since 9/11, there has been, at first secretly but increasingly openly, a revocation of the bill of rights for which this country fought over 200 years ago. In particular, the fourth and fifth amendments of the US constitution, which safeguard citizens from unwarranted intrusion by the government into their private lives, have been virtually suspended.
Glenn Greenwald, Ewen MacAskill and Laura Poitras in Hong Kong
The individual responsible for one of the most significant leaks in US political history is Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old former technical assistant for the CIA and current employee of the defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton. Snowden has been working at the National Security Agency for the last four years as an employee of various outside contractors, including Booz Allen and Dell.
The Guardian, after several days of interviews, is revealing his identity at his request. From the moment he decided to disclose numerous top-secret documents to the public, he was determined not to opt for the protection of anonymity. “I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong,” he said.
Snowden will go down in history as one of America’s most consequential whistleblowers, alongside Daniel Ellsberg and Bradley Manning. He is responsible for handing over material from one of the world’s most secretive organisations – the NSA.
In a note accompanying the first set of documents he provided, he wrote: “I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions,” but “I will be satisfied if the federation of secret law, unequal pardon and irresistible executive powers that rule the world that I love are revealed even for an instant.”
Despite his determination to be publicly unveiled, he repeatedly insisted that he wants to avoid the media spotlight. “I don’t want public attention because I don’t want the story to be about me. I want it to be about what the US government is doing.”
He does not fear the consequences of going public, he said, only that doing so will distract attention from the issues raised by his disclosures. “I know the media likes to personalise political debates, and I know the government will demonise me.”
Despite these fears, he remained hopeful his outing will not divert attention from the substance of his disclosures. “I really want the focus to be on these documents and the debate which I hope this will trigger among citizens around the globe about what kind of world we want to live in.” He added: “My sole motive is to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them.”
He has had “a very comfortable life” that included a salary of roughly $200,000, a girlfriend with whom he shared a home in Hawaii, a stable career, and a family he loves. “I’m willing to sacrifice all of that because I can’t in good conscience allow the US government to destroy privacy, internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they’re secretly building.”
‘I am not afraid, because this is the choice I’ve made’
There’s one reason why the administration, James Clapper and the NSA should just keep their mouths shut as the PRISM-gate fallout escalates: with every incremental attempt to refute some previously unknown facet of the US Big Brother state, a new piece of previously unleaked information from the same intelligence organization now scrambling for damage control, emerges and exposes the brand new narrative as yet another lie, forcing even more lies, more retribution against sources, more journalist persecution and so on.The latest piece of news once again comes from the Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald who this time exposes the NSA’s datamining tool “Boundless Informant” which according to leaked documents collected 97 billion pieces of intelligence from computer networks worldwide in March 2013 alone, and “3 billion pieces of intelligence from US computer networks over a 30-day period.”
This is summarized in the chart below which shows that only the middle east has more active NSA-espionage than the US. Also, Obama may not want to show Xi the activity heatmap for China, or else the whole “China is hacking us” script may promptly fall apart.
Using simple, non-AES 256 breaking math, 3 billion per month amounts to some 100 million intrusions into the US per day, or looked at from another perspective, just a little more than the “zero” which James Clapper vouched announced earlier today is the applicable number of US citizens falling under the NSA’s espionage mandate: “Section 702 cannot be used to intentionally target any U.S. citizen, or any other U.S. person, or to intentionally target any person known to be in the United States.” Oops.
But it gets worse for the NSA. As the Guardian reports, “Emmel, the NSA spokeswoman, told the Guardian: “Current technology simply does not permit us to positively identify all of the persons or locations associated with a given communication (for example, it may be possible to say with certainty that a communication traversed a particular path within the internet. It is harder to know the ultimate source or destination, or more particularly the identity of the person represented by the TO:, FROM: or CC: field of an e-mail address or the abstraction of an IP address). Thus, we apply rigorous training and technological advancements to combine both our automated and manual (human) processes to characterize communications – ensuring protection of the privacy rights of the American people. This is not just our judgment, but that of the relevant inspectors general, who have also reported this.”
In other words, Americans are absolutely the target of billions of monthly intrusions, but said data “mining” is exempted because it is difficult to identify in advance if a US citizen is implicated in any metadata chain.
Only it isn’t as it is the whole premise behind Boundless Informant.
What do Google, AOL, Skype, Facebook, Apple, Hotmail and Yahoo all have in common? They have all been caught turning over private user data to the government’s spy agency, the NSA. All these companies routinely turn over the emails, voice calls, text chats, photos, files and even logins and passwords of their users, including Americans.
“There is a massive apparatus within the United States government that with complete secrecy has been building this enormous structure that has only one goal,” journalist Glenn Greenwald recently told Piers Morgan (who knows all about spying and hacking people’s private data). “And that is to destroy privacy and anonymity not just in the United States but around the world.”
Suddenly embroiled in too many scandals to even list, and humiliated by a publicly-exposed (because everyone knew about the NSA superspy ambitions before, but with one major difference: it was a conspiracy theory…. now it is a conspiracy fact) surveillance scandal that makes Tricky Dick look like an amateur, earlier today, as expected, Obama came out and publicly declared “I am not a hacker” and mumbled something about “security”, “privacy” and “inconvenience.” He went on to explain how the government “welcomes the debate” of all three in the aftermath of the public disclosure that every form of electronic communication is intercepted and stored by the US government (now that said interception is no longer secret, of course) but more importantly how it is only the government, which is naturally here to help, that should be the ultimate arbiter in deciding what is best for all.Yet the PRISM-gate scandal which is sure to only get worse with time as Americans slowly realize they are living in a Orwellian police state, meant Obama would have to do more to appease a public so furious even the NYT issued a scathing editorial lamenting the obliteration of Obama’s credibility. Sure enough, the president did. Reuters reports that the first course of action by the US government will be to… shoot the messenger.
Reuters reports that “President Barack Obama’s administration is likely to open a criminal investigation into the leaking of highly classified documents that revealed the secret surveillance of Americans’ telephone and email traffic, U.S. officials said on Friday.”
And how did Reuters learn this: from “law enforcement and security officials who were not authorized to speak publicly.”
The mimetic absurdity of the narrative is just too surreal to even contemplate for more than a minute before bursting out in laughter: the administration’s plans to launch criminal charges against those who “leaked” its Nixonian espionage masterplan involving every US (and world) citizen using the Internet, revealed by another group of sources leaking in secret. Pure poetry.
In the aftermath of the PRISM spying scandal, the first and logical response was an expected one: lie. Thepresident did it, and so did the various companies implicated in the biggest US surveillance scandal ever exposed. To wit:
Zuckerberg: “Facebook is not and has never been part of any program to give the US or any other government direct access to our servers.”
Google CEO Larry Page: “We have not joined any program that would give the US government – or any other government – direct access to our servers.”
Yahoo: “We do not provide the government with direct access to our servers, systems, or network.”
One small problem: they are all lying.
The NYT explains just how the explicit handover of private customer data from Corporate Server X to NSA Server Y takes place.
The companies that negotiated with the government include Google, which owns YouTube; Microsoft, which owns Hotmail and Skype; Yahoo; Facebook; AOL; Apple; and Paltalk, according to one of the people briefed on the discussions. The companies were legally required to share the data under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. People briefed on the discussions spoke on the condition of anonymity because they are prohibited by law from discussing the content of FISA requests or even acknowledging their existence.
In at least two cases, at Google and Facebook, one of the plans discussed was to build separate, secure portals, like a digital version of the secure physical rooms that have long existed for classified information, in some instances on company servers. Through these online rooms, the government would request data, companies would deposit it and the government would retrieve it, people briefed on the discussions said.
Revealed: The NSA’s powerful tool for cataloguing data – including figures on US collection
The color scheme ranges from green (least subjected to surveillance) through yellow and orange to red (most surveillance). Note the ‘2007’ date in the image relates to the document from which the interactive map derives its top secret classification, not to the map itself.
The National Security Agency has developed a powerful tool for recording and analysing where its intelligence comes from, raising questions about its repeated assurances to Congress that it cannot keep track of all the surveillance it performs on American communications.
The Guardian has acquired top-secret documents about the NSA datamining tool, called Boundless Informant, that details and even maps by country the voluminous amount of information it collects from computer and telephone networks.
The UK’s electronic eavesdropping and security agency, GCHQ, has been secretly gathering intelligence from the world’s biggest internet companies through a covertly run operation set up by America’s top spy agency, documents obtained by the Guardian reveal.
The documents show that GCHQ, based in Cheltenham, has had access to the system since at least June 2010, and generated 197 intelligence reports from it last year.
The US-run programme, called Prism, would appear to allow GCHQ to circumvent the formal legal process required to seek personal material such as emails, photos and videos from an internet company based outside the UK.
“When it comes to telephone calls, nobody is listening to your telephone calls,” Obama said. “That’s not what this program is about. As was indicated, what the intelligence community is doing is looking at phone numbers and durations of calls — they are not looking at people’s names and they are not looking at content.”
SAN JOSE — President Barack Obama on Friday defended his administration’s mass collection of telephone and Internet records, saying the surveillance is thoroughly overseen by Congress and judges to strike the right balance between security and privacy.
“When I came into this office, I made two commitments that are more important than any commitment I made: number one to keep the American people safe, and number two to uphold the Constitution,” he told reporters who had gathered at San Jose’s Fairmont Hotel to hear him tout California’s implementation of Obamacare, but were more interested in hearing about government surveillance.
“You can’t have 100 percent security and also then have 100 percent privacy and zero inconvenience. We’re going to have to make some choices as a society,” he said. “I think that on balance, we have established a process and a procedure that the American people should feel comfortable about.”Obama made his first public comments about the growing national firestorm over reports that the National Security Agency has been obtaining massive data on Verizon telephone customers, continuing a George W. Bush-era anti-terrorism program. And the Washington Post reported the NSA and the FBI have access to the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, including Google, Apple, Yahoo and Facebook.
There is no such thing as privacy in America anymore, as evidenced by the fact that our own government violates the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment on a daily basis – for our own good, of course.
In an inadvertent admission that likely made his former bosses cringe, retired FBI counterterrorism agent Tim Clemente, in a May 1 interview with CNN‘s Erin Burnett regarding the Boston Marathon terrorist bombings, clearly insisted that the nation’s primary law enforcement agency was clearly capable of recording all private telephone calls.
From Glenn Greenwald, of Britain’s The Guardian newspaper:
The real capabilities and behavior of the U.S. surveillance state are almost entirely unknown to the American public because, like most things of significance done by the U.S. government, it operates behind an impenetrable wall of secrecy. But a seemingly spontaneous admission this week by a former FBI counterterrorism agent provides a rather startling acknowledgment of just how vast and invasive these surveillance activities are.
The federal government will continue to access Americans’ emails without a warrant, after the U.S. Senate dropped a key amendment to legislation now headed to the White House for approval.
Last month, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved an amendment attached to the Video Privacy Protection Act Amendments Act (which deals with publishing users’ Netflix information on Facebook pages) that would have required federal law enforcement to obtain a warrant before monitoring email or other data stored remotely (i.e., the cloud).
Schools across the country are adopting frightening new methods to monitor their students in school and out
The digital tracking and surveillance of school-aged kids has been growing.
Much attention has been given to the phenomenon of corporate tracking of kids’ online activities, activities that violate the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). The law, originally adopted in 1998, requires Web sites aimed at kids to get parental consent befoSre gathering information about those users who are under 13 years. Many companies, including a Disney subsidiary, have violated it. Corporate marketing interests, most notably Facebook, are fighting proposed revisions to COPPA.
A second front in the tracking of young people has gotten far less attention. Schools across the country are adopting a variety of different tools to monitor students both in school and outside school. Among these tools are RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags embedded in school ID cards, GPS tracking software in computers, and even CCTV video camera systems. According to school authorities, these tools are being adopted not to simply increase security, but to prevent truancy, cut down on theft and even improve students’ eating habits.
* * *
The RFID tag system popularly known as “Tag and Track” is being sold to schools system across the country by a variety of vendors, including AIM Truancy Solutions, ID Card Group and DataCard.
In general, these systems consist of a school photo ID card affixed to a lanyard that is worn around the student’s neck. The ID has a RFID chip embedded in it. The tag includes a digit number assigned to each student. As a student enters the school or pass beneath a doorway equipped with an RFID reader, the tag ID is read, recorded and sent to a server in the school’s administrative office. The captured data not only provides an attendance list (sent to the teacher’s PDA), but tracks the student’s movement throughout the day.
The US government has already proven its intent to see all evil, with the use of Orwellian programs like TrapWire. But it can now hear all evil too, as law enforcement agencies implement a tool able to store, analyze and identify voices in seconds.
‘Voice Grid Nation’ is a system that uses advanced algorithms to match identities to voices. Brought to the US by Russia’s Speech Technology Center, it claims to be capable of allowing police, federal agencies and other law enforcement personnel to build up a huge database containing up to several million voices.
When authorities intercept a call they’ve deemed ‘hinky’, the recording is entered into the VoiceGrid program, which (probably) buzzes and whirrs and spits out a match. In five seconds, the program can scan through 10,000 voices, and it only needs 3 seconds for speech analysis. All that, combined with 100 simultaneous searches and the storage capacity of 2 million samples, gives SpeechPro, as the company is known in the US, the right to claim a 90% success rate.
A Virginia mother was recently interrogated four times by police, and visited twice by social services, after neighbors spotted the mother’s children playing in their own yard unsupervised, and decided to report the non-incident to local authorities. According to Lenore Skenazy of Free-Range Kids, such hysteria and Stasi-style paranoia are becoming the norm in America, where children are being excessively coddled, overprotected, and treated as though they are always in grave danger of being kidnapped or harmed.
During a recent interview with Alex Jones on The Alex Jones Show, Skenazy reflects on how the days when society’s youth could simply ride their bicycles to school or into the woods, climb their neighbors’ trees, or play at the local park by themselves without adult supervision are essentially gone. Today, it is practically considered abnormal in many areas for young children to even be outside at all, let alone to be exploring on their own or with their friends.
“What’s happening … is parents who let their children play outside, walk to school, or go to the grocery (store) for them often have neighbors who turn them in, supposedly out of concern … and what happens is Child Protective Services (CPS) is obligated to come and check out whether or not these parents are being negligent, or worse abusive,” says Skenazy, who receives calls all the time from parents that are being persecuted by law enforcement for allowing their kids to play outside.
“What has happened is that the parents are found wrong by the police or CPS for leaving their children in what CPS calls ‘a dangerous situation,’ which I would call a ‘normal, nice situation.’ In fact, less dangerous than just letting your kids sit inside all day getting fat and diabetic, you let your kids run outside or have some independent adventures, that’s considered bad parenting now.”
Texas woman forced to spend night in jail for supervising kids’ outdoor playtime
Just a few days ago, for instance, Tammy Cooper of La Porte, Texas, was actually handcuffed and arrested for allowing her children to play outside on their motorized scooters in the family’s cul-de-sac. Cooper was forced to spend the night in jail for this non-crime, despite the fact that she had been outside with her two children watching them the entire time. (http://thestir.cafemom.com/big_kid/143276/mom_arrested_sent_to_jail)
Earlier this year in Wired, writer and intelligence expert James Bamford described the National Security Agency’s plans for the Utah Data Center. A nondescript name, but it has another: the First Intelligence Community Comprehensive National Cyber-security Initiative Data Center. The $2 billion facility, scheduled to open in September 2013, will be used to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store the agency’s intercepted communications—everything from emails, cell phone calls, Google searches, and Tweets, to retail transactions. How will all this data be stored? Imagine, if you can, 100,000 square-feet filled with row upon row of servers, stacked neatly on racks. Bamford projects that its processing-capacity may aspire to yottabytes, or 1024 bytes, and for which no neologism of higher magnitude has yet been coined.
To store the data, the NSA must first collect it, and here Bamford relies on a man named William Binney, a former NSA crypto-mathematician, as his main source. For the first time, since leaving the NSA in 2001, Binney went on the record to discuss Stellar Wind, which we all know by now as the warrantless wiretapping program, first approved by George Bush after the 2001 attacks on the twin towers. The program allowed the NSA to bypass the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, in charge of authorizing eavesdropping on domestic targets, permitting the wholesale monitoring of millions of American phone calls and emails. In his thirty years at the NSA, Binney helped to engineer its automated system of networked data collection which, until 2001, was exclusively directed at foreign targets. Binney left when the organization started to use this same technology to spy on American citizens. He tells of secret electronic monitoring rooms in major US telecom facilities, controlled by the NSA, and powered by complex software programs examining Internet traffic as it passes through fiber-optic cables. (At a local event last week, Binney circulated a list of possible interception points, including 811 10th Avenue, between 53rd & 54th St., which houses the largest New York exchange of AT&T Long Lines.) He tells of software, created by a company called Narus, that parses US data sources: any communication arousing suspicion is automatically copied and sent to the NSA. Once a name enters the Narus database, all phone calls, emails and other communications are automatically routed to the NSA’s recorders.
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