Tag Archives | domestic spying

NSA’s PRISM Snoops On You Via Google, Facebook, Apple

PrismDo you use any online services like from the likes of Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Yahoo and AOL? The US Government is monitoring your actions via the NSA’s PRISM program according to the Guardian:

The National Security Agency has obtained direct access to the systems of Google, Facebook, Apple and other US internet giants, according to a top secret document obtained by the Guardian.

The NSA access is part of a previously undisclosed program called PRISM, which allows officials to collect material including search history, the content of emails, file transfers and live chats, the document says.

The Guardian has verified the authenticity of the document, a 41-slide PowerPoint presentation – classified as top secret with no distribution to foreign allies – which was apparently used to train intelligence operatives on the capabilities of the program. The document claims “collection directly from the servers” of major US service providers.

Although the presentation claims the program is run with the assistance of the companies, all those who responded to a Guardian request for comment on Thursday denied knowledge of any such program.

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The News That Isn’t: How We Are Fed False Stories Driven By Missing Information

300px-IRSThe news is coming to us hot and heavy these days. There is scandal after scandal, outrage after outrage. The media playbook treats it all as a way to build audience,  and raise ratings (and revenue) by polarizing opinion.

Conflict sells.

Here’s what the Republicans say; here’s how the Democrats respond.  Obama is good; Obama is bad. So and so says this; so and so fires back Its mostly heat, not light.

There are rarely any other views, or ways of understanding events presented.

News programs are the new wrestling shows, a noisy battleground, in the morning, on the Sunday shows, and all day long on cable networks. The goal is not to explain, probe, or ask questions.

No, its to squeeze a repetitive and narrow narratives into a morality play that provokes as much emotion as possible.

Its been said we live in an era of “missing information” and the news is the best arena that defines it—not by what’s being reported, but how its being reported, and mostly by what’s not being reported.… Read the rest

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The Return of COINTELPRO?

Picture: denis ponté

Tom McNamara, writing at Counterpunch:

“Democracies die behind closed doors” – Judge Damon J. Keith

For 15 years (1956-1971) the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) ran a broad and highly coordinated domestic intelligence / counterintelligence program known as COINTELPRO (COunter INTELligence PROgrams). What was originally deemed as a justifiable effort to protect the US during the Cold War from Soviet and Communist threats and infiltration, soon devolved into a program for suppressing domestic dissent and spying on American citizens. Approximately 20,000 people were investigated by the FBI based only on their political views and beliefs. Most were never suspected of having committed any crime.

The reasoning behind the program, as detailed in a 1976 Senate report, was that the FBI had “the duty to do whatever is necessary to combat perceived threats to the existing social and political order.” The fact that the “perceived threats” were usually American citizens engaging in constitutionally protected behaviour was apparently overlooked.

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NYPD Has Spied On Muslim Residents For Years, Hasn’t Generated A Single Terrorism Lead

The Mercury News on the frustrating lack of insidious plots by the city’s residents:

In more than six years of spying on Muslim neighborhoods, eavesdropping on conversations and cataloguing mosques, the New York Police Department’s secret Demographics Unit never generated a lead or triggered a terrorism investigation, the department acknowledged in court testimony unsealed late Monday.

[The NYPD had] help from the CIA, which assembled databases on where Muslims lived, shopped, worked and prayed. Police infiltrated Muslim student groups, put informants in mosques, monitored sermons and catalogued every Muslim in New York who adopted new, Americanized surnames. Police hoped the Demographics Unit would serve as an early warning system for terrorism.

But in a June 28 deposition as part of a longstanding federal civil rights case, Assistant Chief Thomas Galati said none of the conversations the officers overheard ever led to a case. “Related to Demographics,” Galati testified that information that has come in “has not commenced an investigation.”

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Congressional Report: Homeland Security Centers Haven’t Uncovered Any Terrorist Plots

Billions of dollars have been poured into a surveillance and information-sharing network connecting the Department of Homeland Security with state and local law enforcement, nothing resembling a domestic threat has been uncovered. The New York Times reports:

One of the nation’s biggest domestic counterterrorism programs has failed to provide virtually any useful intelligence, according to Congressional investigators.

Their scathing report, to be released Wednesday, looked at problems in regional intelligence-gathering offices known as “fusion centers” that are financed by the Department of Homeland Security and created jointly with state and local law enforcement agencies.

The report found that the centers “forwarded intelligence of uneven quality — oftentimes shoddy, rarely timely, sometimes endangering citizens’ civil liberties and Privacy Act protections, occasionally taken from already published public sources, and more often than not unrelated to terrorism.”

More broadly, the flaws uncovered by the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations raise questions about the role of the Department of Homeland Security in the nation’s fight against terrorism, and whether the department can ever live up to its original purpose of “connecting the dots” to prevent another surprise like the Sept.

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NSA: It Would Violate Your Privacy To Say If We Spied On You

Spencer Ackerman writing for Wired:

The surveillance experts at the National Security Agency won’t tell two powerful United States Senators how many Americans have had their communications picked up by the agency as part of its sweeping new counterterrorism powers. The reason: it would violate your privacy to say so.

That claim comes in a short letter sent Monday to civil libertarian Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall. The two members of the Senate’s intelligence oversight committee asked the NSA a simple question last month: under the broad powers granted in 2008′s expansion of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, how many persons inside the United States have been spied upon by the NSA?

The query bounced around the intelligence bureaucracy until it reached I. Charles McCullough, the Inspector General of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the nominal head of the 16 U.S. spy agencies. In a letter acquired by Danger Room, McCullough told the senators that the NSA inspector general “and NSA leadership agreed that an IG review of the sort suggested would itself violate the privacy of U.S.

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Susan Sarandon Says U.S. Govt. Tapped Her Phone

Susan Sarandon 2 by David ShankboneNo doubt she’s also been spending a lot of time with tax auditors and otherwise enjoying the various but dubious attentions of her government. Via CBS News:

Actress Susan Sarandon says her phone has been tapped by the government, and that she was recently denied security clearance to visit the White House but does not know why.

The actress made the comments during a Q&A session with filmmaker Michael Moore on Sunday at a Tribeca Film Festival event in New York.

“I’ve gotten my [FBI] file twice,” Sarandon said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “I know my phone was tapped. If they’re not surveilling you, then everyone else has cameras on phones.” She added, “I was denied security clearance to go to the White House [next week], and I don’t know why.”

Moore, who’s made films including “Fahrenheit 9/11,” “Sicko” and “Capitalism: A Love Story,” also chimed in: “I never think about it.

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CIA Spies On You Via Connected Devices In Your Home

Gen. David H. Petraeus plays Wii golf.

David H. Petraeus plays Wii golf.

Or if they’re not doing so yet, they soon will. Spencer Ackerman reports for Wired‘s Danger Room blog:

More and more personal and household devices are connecting to the internet, from your television to your car navigation systems to your light switches. CIA Director David Petraeus cannot wait to spy on you through them.

Earlier this month, Petraeus mused about the emergence of an “Internet of Things” — that is, wired devices — at a summit for In-Q-Tel, the CIA’s venture capital firm. “‘Transformational’ is an overused word, but I do believe it properly applies to these technologies,” Petraeus enthused, “particularly to their effect on clandestine tradecraft.”

All those new online devices are a treasure trove of data if you’re a “person of interest” to the spy community. Once upon a time, spies had to place a bug in your chandelier to hear your conversation.

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