Tag Archives | Spying

Former NSA Chief on Spy Program: It’s Real, and It’s Spectacular

o-NSA-PHONE-RECORD-COLLECTION-facebookJust in case the cognitive dissonance wasn’t already large enough on the story-and-counterstory around programs such as XKEYSCORE and PRISM, formed NSA head Michael Hayden jumps into the ring:

Last week, the Guardian published a series of leaked documents revealing new details about an NSA surveillance program called XKEYSCORE. The newspaper said that the program enabled the agency to “search with no prior authorization through vast databases containing emails, online chats and the browsing histories of millions of individuals,” and secret slides dated 2008 showed how people could be deemed a target for searching the Web for “suspicious stuff” or by using encryption.

Following the disclosures, Hayden appeared on CNN to discuss the agency’s surveillance programs. The general, who directed the NSA from 1999 through 2005, was remarkably candid in his responses to Erin Burnett’s questions about the Guardian’s XKEYSCORE report. Was there any truth to claims that the NSA is sifting through millions of browsing histories and able to collect virtually everything users do on the Internet?

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Obama Says There Is No Domestic Spying Program

domestic spyingWell, that settles that. Via NPR:

President Obama defended the U.S. government’s surveillance programs, telling NBC’s Jay Leno on Tuesday that: “There is no spying on Americans.”

“We don’t have a domestic spying program,” Obama said on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. “What we do have is some mechanisms that can track a phone number or an email address that is connected to a terrorist attack. … That information is useful.”

During a lengthy discussion with Leno, Obama said he was “disappointed” in Russia’s decision to grant temporary asylum to Edward Snowden.

“There are times when they slip back into Cold War thinking and Cold War mentality,” Obama said of Russia. “What I continually say to them and to President Putin, ‘That’s the past. We’ve got to think about the future.’ “

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DEA Secretly Using NSA Eavesdropping Data For Drug Prosecutions


The phone, internet, and email data gathered by the NSA isn’t kept for terrorism investigations, but rather is secretly shared with law enforcement across the country for use in drug prosecutions and more. Prosecutors then pretend they acquired the information through other means. Reuters reveals:

A secretive U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration unit is funneling information from intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a massive database of telephone records to authorities across the nation to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans.

The undated documents show that federal agents are trained to “recreate” the investigative trail to effectively cover up where the information originated.

The unit of the DEA that distributes the information is called the Special Operations Division, or SOD. Two dozen partner agencies comprise the unit, including the FBI, CIA, NSA, Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Homeland Security. It was created in 1994 to combat Latin American drug cartels and has grown from several dozen employees to several hundred.

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Bush-Cheney Illegal NSA Spying Began Before 9/11, Telecom CEO Claims

NSA spyingThe spying’s purpose isn’t to keep us safe from the terrorists. Digital Journal writes:

Contradicting a statement by ex-vice president Dick Cheney on Sunday that warrantless domestic surveillance might have prevented 9/11, 2007 court records indicate that the Bush-Cheney administration began such surveillance at least 7 months prior to 9/11.

The Bush administration bypassed the law requiring such actions to be authorized by FISA court warrants. Former QWest CEO John Nacchios said that at a meeting with the NSA on February 27, 2001, he and other QWest officials declined to participate. AT&T, Verizon and Bellsouth all agreed to shunt customer communications records to an NSA database.

Other sources corroborate the former CEO’s allegations, which were made in the course of his legal defense against insider trading charges. Both Slate and National Journal have published reports in which sources are quoted which support the former CEO’s claims.

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Russia’s Kremlin Security Agency Buys Typewriters In Response To NSA News

typewritersTime for a return to analog? Via the BBC:

Russia’s agency responsible for the Kremlin security is buying typewriters – a move reportedly prompted by recent leaks by WikiLeaks and Edward Snowden. A 486,540-rouble order for electric typewriters has been placed by the FSO agency on the state procurement website.

The FSO has not commented on why it needs the old-fashioned devices. But an agency source told Russia’s Izvestiya newspaper the aim was to prevent leaks from computer hardware.

“After scandals with the distribution of secret documents by WikiLeaks, the exposes by Edward Snowden, reports about Dmitry Medvedev being bugged during his visit to the G20 London summit (in 2009), it has been decided to expand the practice of creating paper documents,” the source said.

The source added that typewriters were already being used at Russia’s defence and emergencies ministries for drafts and secret notes, and some reports had been prepared for President Vladimir Putin by typewriter.

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Vice’s NSA Spam Generator

Wishing the government would pay you some extra attention? Vice’s Motherboard has a handy device for generating tweets, messages, and status updates packed to the brim with NSA-alert-raising keywords, overwhelming surveillance with false positives. They’ve dubbed this terrorism spam generator Hello, NSA:

The government is listening to your internets. Generate a sentence with some of the keywords they’re looking for. Tweet or share and you could earn a new follower in Washington.

NSA spam generator


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1984 All Over Again

1984In the wake of the NSA/Snowden revelations, and the general sense of paranoia that has taken grip of the news cycle and the internet, a few pundits have assumed the roles of cultural watchdogs, taking the pulse of public taste to measure the effect of the spooky news on the hearts and minds of the people.

A number of journalists and commentators have noted that one possible side effect of the recently-revealed government snooping on personal communications has been a spike in the sales of the George Orwell classic 1984 on the mega-book-selling-site, Amazon. But, how big is the sales spike and how much of it can be attributed to Snowden’s bravery in the face of the NSA’s dubious doings? This article at Slate offers a measured interpretation:

Sales of one particular edition of George Orwell’s dystopian classic are up some 5,000 percent on Amazon.com in the past 24 hours, according to the site’s list of “movers and shakers.” The figure was as high as 7,000 earlier today.Read the rest

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NSA Spies On 500 Million German Calls, Emails, Or Messages Each Month

nsa spiesIt’s not just Americans having their every move captured by the NSA, but vast numbers of people in countries such as Germany, France, China, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia are being specifically targeted as well. This, plus the American government’s alleged tapping and bugging of foreign embassies and EU offices, are now threatening to unravel U.S.-European trade agreements. DER SPIEGEL reports:

Secret documents viewed by SPIEGEL reveal that the American NSA intelligence service monitors around half a billion telephone calls, emails and text messages in the country every month.

The data stored by the NSA includes telephone calls, emails, mobile-phone text messages and chat transcripts. The metadata — or information about which call or data connections were made and when — is then stored at the NSA’s headquarters in Fort Meade, near Washington, DC.

The documents also show that the NSA is primarily interested in important Internet hubs in southern and western Germany.

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Canada’s CSEC Runs Massive Domestic Spying Program

Canada has a massive domestic spying program of its own:

via Global Research k9508533

On the basis of secret government directives, Canada’s national security apparatus is conducting mass surveillance of Canadians parallel to, if not directly patterned after, the domestic spying operations of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA).

Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC), the NSA’s Canadian counterpart and longstanding partner, has been scrutinizing the metadata of Canadians’ electronic communications since at least 2005.

Moreover, the NSA routinely provides Canada’s security agencies with intelligence on Canadians and CSEC reciprocates by providing U.S. intelligence officials with information about people living in the U.S. This arrangement allows both agencies to circumvent legal bans on warrantless surveillance of their own citizenry’s communications.

It was “common” for NSA “to pass on information about Canadians,” Wayne Easter, Canada’s Solicitor-General in 2002-3, told the Toronto Star this week. As Solicitor-General, Easter was responsible for overseeing the operations of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

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