Tag Archives | Spying

Is The NSA Blackmailing U.S. Politicians?

PROBLEM?

PROBLEM?

David Harris Gershon writes at Daily Kos:

Jay Stanley is a measured, rational policy analyst. He is a man of facts, not given over to wild speculation or sensationalization. Which is why, before offering his theory that the NSA may currently be blackmailing certain politicians to support the agency’s efforts, he sounds almost apologetic.

He sounds apologetic because he doesn’t like what he’s about to say, not having the unmistakable, absolute data necessary to back it up:

Sometimes when I hear public officials speaking out in defense of NSA spying, I can’t help thinking, even if just for a moment, “What if the NSA has something on that person?”Of course it’s natural, when people disagree with you, to at least briefly think, “They couldn’t possibly really believe that, there must be some outside power forcing them to take that position.” Mostly I do not believe that anything like that is now going on.

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Putin: ‘I Envy’ Obama’s Spy Program

Vladimir_Putin_12015And Vladimir, I envy your forthrightness, notably not a quality that Mr. Obama shares with you. USA Today reports on the Russian President’s latest unscripted statements:

Russia President Vladimir Putin says his government is not working with National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, and defended President Obama over his spying program — sort of.

“How do I feel about Obama after Snowden’s revelations? I envy him, because he can get away with it,” Putin said during a Thursday news conference in Russia.

Speaking a day after a White House advisory panel released a report recommending changes in NSA programs, Putin defended espionage in general.

He called it “one of the oldest professions in the world, just like some other well-known professions — we won’t mention them here,” an apparent reference to prostitution.

But Putin did say regulations, such as those envisioned for the NSA, are necessary: “On political level, it’s necessary to limit the appetite of special services with certain rules.”

As for Snowden — granted political asylum by Russia earlier this year — Putin said: “To speak in professional jargon, operatively speaking, we are not working with him, and we never worked with him…

[continues at USA Today]

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Missing Ex-FBI Agent Was CIA Spy On Unauthorized Mission In Iran

Robert Levinson

Robert Levinson

For those of you staying current with hit TV series Homeland, a CIA spy caught while on an unofficial mission in Iran sounds awfully familiar. AP reports that there is in fact a real life CIA agent – Robert Levinson – who is the fall guy in exactly the type of scandal that is at the heart of Homeland’s current plot:

An American who vanished nearly seven years ago in Iran was working for the CIA on an unapproved intelligence-gathering mission that, when it came to light inside the government, produced one of the most serious scandals in the recent history of the CIA — but all in secret, an Associated Press investigation found.

The CIA paid Robert Levinson’s family $2.5 million to head off a revealing lawsuit. Three veteran analysts were forced out of the agency and seven others were disciplined.

The U.S. publicly has described Levinson as a private citizen.

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NSA And CIA Infiltrated World Of Warcraft And Second Life To Spy On Gamers

gamesIs that elf watching you? ProPublica reports on fascinating classified documents unearthed from Edward Snowden’s trove revealing that NSA and CIA spies have placed numerous avatars in popular virtual realms:

Not limiting their activities to the earthly realm, American and British spies have infiltrated the fantasy worlds of World of Warcraft and Second Life, conducting surveillance and scooping up data in the online games played by millions of people across the globe, according to newly disclosed classified documents.

Fearing that terrorist or criminal networks could use the games to communicate secretly, move money or plot attacks, the documents show, intelligence operatives have entered terrain populated by digital avatars that include elves, gnomes and supermodels.

The spies have created make-believe characters to snoop and to try to recruit informers, while also collecting data and contents of communications between players.

But for all their enthusiasm — so many CIA, FBI and Pentagon spies were hunting around in Second Life, the document noted, that a “deconfliction” group was needed to avoid collisions — the intelligence agencies may have inflated the threat.

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FBI Spied On Sartre And Camus In Effort To Unravel Subversive Conspiracy Behind Existentialism

sartre_jpThe New York Times reports that beginning in 1945, the FBI began spying on the French philosophers, fearing that their ideas on being and nothingness were part of a plot against the United States:

[Sartre and Camus]’s lectures at Columbia University were well attended by students and faculty members — and by agents from J. Edgar Hoover’s F.B.I.

Yet Sartre, on his visit, was actually invited to the Pentagon; Camus, in contrast, “was stopped at immigration…Hoover sent out a ‘stop letter’ to all U.S. customs agents saying this man should be detained,” Mr. Martin said. Eventually, Camus was allowed to proceed to New York, where his novel “L’Étranger” (“The Stranger”) had just been published in English.

“Hoover thought there must be some kind of conspiracy between communists, blacks, poets and French philosophers. He was hoping for some kind of evidence of conspiracy,” he said.

The F.B.I. was baffled by Sartre. “These agents were trying to work out what the hell existentialism was all about,” said Mr.

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The NSA’s Best Friend Just Switched Her Stance

In an odd twist of events Dianne FeDianne-Feinsteininstein was quoted as saying that she is “totally opposed” to gathering intelligence on foreign leaders saying it was a “big problem”. ”

Via Tech Crunch:

The National Security Agency is having a very bad day: two of the most ardent surveillance hawks have officially turned against the spying agency. California Senator Dianne Feinstein broke ranks and came out against the NSA spying on foreign leaders. Even worse, the author of the Patriot Act, Jim Sensenbrenner, dropped a co-authored bill to end bulk collection of Internet and telephone data.

“We’re really screwed now,” one NSA official told Foreign Policy’s The Cable. “You know things are bad when the few friends you’ve got disappear without a trace in the dead of night and leave no forwarding address.”

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The Private Companies Helping Cops Spy on Protesters

John Knefel reviews promotional materials for private spy companies showing that mass surveillance technology is being sold to police departments as a way to monitor dissent, for Rolling Stone:

Graphic from 3iMIND with heading "Profile A Target"

Graphic from 3iMIND with heading “Profile A Target”

The documents leaked to media outlets by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden this year have brought national intelligence gathering and surveillance operations under a level of scrutiny not seen in decades. Often left out of this conversation, though, is the massive private surveillance industry that provides services to law enforcement, defense agencies and corporations in the U.S. and abroad – a sprawling constellation of companies and municipalities. “It’s a circle where everyone [in these industries] is benefitting,” says Eric King, lead researcher of watchdog group Privacy International. “Everyone gets more powerful, and richer.”

Promotional materials for numerous private spy companies boast of how law enforcement organizations can use their products to monitor people at protests or other large crowds – including by keeping tabs on individual people’s social media presence.

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Military To Use “Spy Rocks” For Surveillance

spy rocksThere’s no one around to hear us but that rock sitting over there. Wired UK reports:

At the annual AUSA Army meeting in Washington, DC, Lockheed Martin showcased developments in their surveillance technology called SPAN (Self-Powered Ad-hoc Network), a “covert, perpetually self-powered wireless sensor network” that can provide “unobtrusive, continuous surveillance” in units so small they can fit in a rock.

SPAN is a mesh network of self-organizing sensors that, when triggered, can cue a camera or an unmanned aerial vehicle to further study an area, or summon an engineer when a pipeline or bridge structure is in danger or fractured.

Lockheed touts the “field-and-forget” technology as providing maximum coverage at minimal costs, claiming that the sensors can remain in the field for years at a time without maintenance, powered by solar technology. The defense contractor is hoping to sell its spy rocks for surveillance, border protection, pipeline monitoring and bridge security, among other things.

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Canadians Spying on Brazil According to Leaked Snowden Docs

canada-canadian-flag-165-pOh, Canada.

Keep reading.

Canada spied on communications at Brazil’s Mining and Energy Ministry, according to Canadian intelligence documents revealed Sunday by Globo television.

The documents were leaked by former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden. His disclosures including that the United States spied on the same ministry, on President Dilma Rousseff and her aides, have greatly strained US-Brazilian ties.

In the disclosures broadcast on Globo, documents purportedly from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service leaked by Snowden show a detailed outline of the Brazilian ministry’s communications including phone calls, emails and Internet traffic.

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NSA Tracks Google Ads to Find Tor Users

warningIn a bid to make your stomach grumble and your head hurt even more, this latest tidbit of NSA news leaked by Edward Snowden and obtained by Bruce Schneier rocks the world of privacy enthusiasts world over.

Via TheGuardian

The online anonymity network Tor is a high-priority target for the National Security Agency. The work of attacking Tor is done by the NSA‘s application vulnerabilities branch, which is part of the systems intelligence directorate, or SID. The majority of NSA employees work in SID, which is tasked with collecting data from communications systems around the world.

According to a top-secret NSA presentation provided by the whistleblower Edward Snowden, one successful technique the NSA has developed involves exploiting the Tor browser bundle, a collection of programs designed to make it easy for people to install and use the software. The trick identified Tor users on the internet and then executes an attack against their Firefox web browser.

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