Tag Archives | Secrets

The NSA Wants to Keep Its Water Usage Secret

When a government agency once considered so secret that its nickname was “No Such Agency” comes under scrutiny for more or less everything it does, it shouldn’t be considered too surprising that it resists disclosure of activities even (seemingly) as mundane as the quantity of water it uses at its Utah Data Center. Wired reports on the NSA’s reasons for wishing to keep this particular secret:

The National Security Agency has many secrets, but here’s a new one: the agency is refusing to say how much water it’s pumping into the brand new data center it operates in Bluffdale, Utah. According to the NSA, its water usage is a matter of national security.

nsa-utah-data-center

The agency made the argument in a letter sent to officials in Utah, who are considering whether or not to release the data to the Salt Lake Tribune. Back in May, Tribune reporter Nate Carlisle asked for local records relating to the data center, but when he got his files a few months later, the water usage data was redacted.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

What Is Area 51?

[disinfo ed.'s note: The following is the prologue to Area 51 - Black Jets: A History of the Aircraft Developed at Groom Lake, America's Secret Aviation Base by Bill Yenne.]
In the cartography of our lives, our dreams, and our popular culture, certain landmarks are embodied with great meaning that transcends their identity as mere places. We travel to certain ones to see things of great cultural or historical importance. Whether we are fond of Michelangelo or Picasso, or of Winslow Homer or Warhol, we go to great museums to view and marvel at celebrated works of art. We go to the Smithsonian to see the tangible artifacts of American history, from the Star Spangled Banner to the Spirit of St. Louis. Meanwhile, we visit other iconic places, such as Waikiki or Las Vegas or any numbers of Disney Worlds or Lands or their analogues with other themes, for specific genres of “fun.” And finally, there are places we visit not for specific artifacts or specific amusements but for the intangible reason that we just want to be there or, arguably more importantly, to say that we have been there. We go to such places to breathe a certain rarified air. We go to such places—Times Square or the corner of Haight and Ashbury—not so much to see and touch specific things, but to stand there and sense an ethereal yet palpable energy or to soak up the vibe. This genre of venues possesses an importance that is greater than the sum of its parts. Merely the mention of one word, such as “Sturgis” or “Graceland,” speaks volumes to those who venerate these places for what they represent. Of course, none of these places is for everyone, and that is what makes each of them so important and so special to those for whom they do resonate. For such people, even those who have never been to these places that are the nexus of their fascination, the mere mention of the name is like a mantra that is a key to unlock an emotion...
Continue Reading

Revealed: The Burglars Who Beat J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI

Hoover-JEdgar-LOCIt must have been incredibly difficult to pull off this raid on the FBI and never have your secret leak, least of all to the FBI and it’s then omnipotent boss J. Edgar Hoover. The New York Times profiles the gang who pulled it off:

The perfect crime is far easier to pull off when nobody is watching.

So on a night nearly 43 years ago, while Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier bludgeoned each other over 15 rounds in a televised title bout viewed by millions around the world, burglars took a lock pick and a crowbar and broke into a Federal Bureau of Investigation office in a suburb of Philadelphia, making off with nearly every document inside.

They were never caught, and the stolen documents that they mailed anonymously to newspaper reporters were the first trickle of what would become a flood of revelations about extensive spying and dirty-tricks operations by the F.B.I.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Official Secrets, Destined for Destruction

MKGandhiMahatma Gandhi, the man who ultimately led India to gain independence from the United Kingdom, made a wise and knowing statement: “A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.”

Gandhi’s words were intended to be interpreted in a wholly positive fashion. That is to say, when people put their minds to tasks in hand, and their belief is solid, strong and unswerving, they can achieve just about anything and everything they desire.

There is, however, another body of determined spirits that have an unquenchable faith in their mission and who can, and most assuredly have, altered the course of history. They have done so in two most unfortunate ways: by hiding history and, sometimes, even erasing it from the face of the Earth. And who might they be?

They are nothing less than a small but very influential body of characters secreted within the highest echelons of worldwide governments.… Read the rest

Continue Reading

CIA Acknowledges Role In 1953 Overthrow Of Iran’s Democracy

iran_map1Via George Washington University’s National Security Archive:

Marking the sixtieth anniversary of the overthrow of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq, the National Security Archive is today posting recently declassified CIA documents on the United States’ role in the controversial operation.

American and British involvement in Mosaddeq’s ouster has long been public knowledge, but today’s posting includes what is believed to be the CIA’s first formal acknowledgement that the agency helped to plan and execute the coup.

The explicit reference to the CIA’s role appears in a copy of an internal history, The Battle for Iran, dating from the mid-1970s. The agency released a heavily excised version of the account in 1981 in response to an ACLU lawsuit, but it blacked out all references to TPAJAX, the code name for the U.S.-led operation. Those references appear in the latest release. Additional CIA materials posted today include working files from Kermit Roosevelt, the senior CIA officer on the ground in Iran during the coup.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

U.S. Government Finally Admits To Area 51

Area-51-mapNot that there was really any doubt in most people’s minds that Area 51 existed, but now it’s official. Philip Bump reports for the Atlantic Wire:

Newly declassified documents, obtained by George Washington University’s National Security Archive, appear to for the first time acknowledge the existence of Area 51. Hundreds of pages describe the genesis of the Nevada site that was home to the government’s spy plane program for decades. The documents do not, however, mention aliens.

The project started humbly. In the pre-drone era about a decade after the end of World War II, President Eisenhower signed off on a project aimed at building a high-altitude, long-range, manned aircraft that could photograph remote targets. Working together, the Air Force and Lockheed developed a craft that could hold the high-resolution cameras required for the images, a craft that became the U-2. Why “U-2″?

They decided that they could not call the project aircraft a bomber, fighter, or transport plane, and they did not want anyone to know that the new plane was for reconnaissance, so [Air Force officers] Geary and Culbertson decided that it should come under the utility aircraft category.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

The NSA’s ‘Widest-Reaching’ Program XKeyscore Revealed

xkeyscoreVia the Guardian, the curtain keeps pulling back to reveal ever-greater levels of total surveillance:

The National Security Agency boasts in training materials that a program called XKeyscore is its “widest-reaching” system for developing intelligence from the internet.

The top secret program allows analysts to search with no prior authorization through vast databases containing emails, online chats and the browsing histories of millions of individuals, according to documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The files shed light on one of Snowden’s most controversial statements, made in his first video interview with the Guardian on June 10: “I, sitting at my desk,” said Snowden, could “wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant, to a federal judge or even the president, if I had a personal email”.

Training materials for XKeyscore detail how analysts can use it and other systems to mine enormous agency databases by filling in a simple on-screen form giving only a broad justification for the search.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

NSA, CIA, And FBI Swap Classified Data With Media And Tech Corporations

classifiedCould Microsoft, Google, et al. be considered bureaus of the national security apparatus? Bloomberg reports that the providing of sensitive information is a two-way street:

Thousands of technology, finance and manufacturing companies are working closely with U.S. national security agencies, providing sensitive information and in return receiving benefits that include access to classified intelligence, four people familiar with the process said.

These programs, whose participants are known as trusted partners, extend far beyond what was revealed by Edward Snowden, a computer technician who did work for the National Security Agency.

Michael Hayden, who formerly directed the National Security Agency and the CIA, described the attention paid to important company partners: “If I were the director and had a relationship with a company who was doing things that were not just directed by law but were also valuable to the defense of the Republic, I would go out of my way to thank them and give them a sense as to why this is necessary and useful.”

Intel Corp’s McAfee unit, which makes Internet security software, regularly cooperates with the NSA, FBI and the CIA, for example, and is a valuable partner because of its broad view of malicious Internet traffic, including espionage operations by foreign powers, according to one of the four people, who is familiar with the arrangement.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Obama Administration Proposes Weakening Freedom Of Information Act

freedom of information actObama pushes for officials to gain the right to lie about the existence of documents or materials. Via the Denver Post:

The federal Freedom of Information Act was supposed to be a torch that journalists, advocates and ordinary people could use to cast a light on the operations of their government. It’s profoundly disappointing to see the Obama administration proposing changes to FOIA that would allow federal agencies to lie about the very existence of information being sought.

The worst among them is the proposed change that would allow the government to tell those requesting information under FOIA that the material does not exist when, in fact, it does. The change would apply to certain law enforcement or national security documents.

Currently, the government can issue what is called a Glomar response, which is when the government neither confirms nor denies the existence of the material.

That term was coined after a Los Angeles Times reporter in the mid-1970s attempted to obtain information about the CIA’s Glomar Explorer, a vessel built to raise a sunken Soviet submarine from the floor of the Pacific Ocean.

Read the rest
Continue Reading