Spying

VultureVia the Telegraph:

The large bird, which was carrying a GPS transmitter and a tag bearing the identification code R65 from Tel Aviv University, strayed into rural Saudi Arabian territory at some point last week, according to a report in the Israeli daily Ma’ariv.

Residents and local reporters told Saudi Arabia’s Al-Weeam newspaper that the matter seemed to be linked to a “Zionist plot” and swiftly alerted security services.

The bird has since been placed under arrest. The accusations went viral, according to the Israeli Ha’aretz newspaper, with hundreds of posts on Arabic-language websites and forums claiming that the “Zionists” had trained the birds for espionage.

The incident comes amid growing paranoia among Israel’s neighbours over the nation’s growing military might.


Via Media Roots: In George Orwell’s 1984, Britain is depicted as a totalitarian police state that is ruled by the Party, or Big Brother — an enigmatic, ubiquitous elite that controls society…





Afterwards, agents told him not to worry … because he’s “boring”… but apparently he was just interesting enough to merit between 3 to 6 months of observation … and a GPS tracker under his car. From Kim Zetter at Wired. Enjoy the article … and consider its ramifications.

GPS Tracking Device

A California student got a visit from the FBI this week after he found a secret GPS tracking device on his car, and a friend posted photos of it online. The post prompted wide speculation about whether the device was real, whether the young Arab-American was being targeted in a terrorism investigation and what the authorities would do.

It took just 48 hours to find out: The device was real, the student was being secretly tracked and the FBI wanted their expensive device back, the student told Wired.com in an interview Wednesday.

The answer came when half-a-dozen FBI agents and police officers appeared at Yasir Afifi’s apartment complex in Santa Clara, California, on Tuesday demanding he return the device.


Thanks to Isaac Hils for this. As publishers, this story definitely appeals to us at disinformation: Authors with books the Pentagon wants to stop, take note! From the Guardian:

It’s every author’s dream – to write a book that’s so sensationally popular it’s impossible to find a copy in the shops, even as it keeps climbing up the bestseller lists.

And so it is for Anthony Shaffer, thanks to the Pentagon’s desire to buy up all 10,000 copies of the first printing of his new book, Operation Dark Heart: Spycraft and Special Ops on the Frontlines of Afghanistan — and The Path to Victory. And then pulp them.

The US defence department is scrambling to dispose of what threatens to be a highly embarrassing expose by the former intelligence officer of secret operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and of how the US military top brass missed the opportunity to win the war against the Taliban.

The department of defence is in talks with St Martin’s Press to purchase the entire first print run on the grounds of national security…



A Wall Street Journal investigation finds that one of the fastest-growing businesses on the Internet is the business of spying on consumers:

Hidden inside Ashley Hayes-Beaty’s computer, a tiny file helps gather personal details about her, all to be put up for sale for a tenth of a penny.

The file consists of a single code— 4c812db292272995e5416a323e79bd37—that secretly identifies her as a 26-year-old female in Nashville, Tenn…




Long after the Cold War’s end, nations still send secret agents across borders. But corporations, terrorists, and private investigators are also part of the sleuthing underground. Newsweek takes a look at who’s spying on whom; the section on corporate espionage is perhaps the most interesting:

Spying isn’t just the stuff of war and international politics. While researching his 2010 book Broker, Trader, Lawyer, Spy: The Secret World of Corporate Espionage, journalist Eamon Javers uncovered the dealings of private-sector spy firms employed by companies to detect deception in negotiators, surveil competing investors, and glean intelligence that could give them an edge in their dealmaking. Espionage has become so ubiquitous in the corporate world, Javers says, that billion-dollar merger-and-acquisition deals are almost never made these days without highly skilled spies getting involved…


Assuming none of these Russian spying charges stick (apparently no actual secrets were sent to Russia), Anna Chapman seems likely to profit massively – one envisions her own reality TV show, K-Mart fashion line, and all the other trappings of instant tabloid fame. Some thoughts from Jeff Stein in the Washington Post:

“Act naturally,” the Russians tell their espionage trainees before dispatching them to America.

Boy, did she.

Anna Chapman cut a wide swath in New York even before her arrest on charges of spying for Mother Russia, judging by the sultry shots and videos suddenly popping up everywhere, starting with her own Facebook page…


Nick Baumann and Daniel Schulman tell how human rights advocates investigating torture ended up snooping on the CIA—and in hot water with the feds, in Mother Jones: The CIA probably doesn’t want…


Thanks to former disinfonaut Jeff Halpin for alerting us to this breaking story from AP: WASHINGTON — Ten Russian intelligence officers have been arrested for allegedly serving as illegal agents of the…




Anyone who knows anything about Evergreen State College in Washington knows that there is nowhere in the world with a higher concentration of young hippies.  Apparently, the state police went for the…


You just know that spy agencies around the world are drooling over this video. Get your fly swatters ready! As reported by BotJunkie:

Stanford’s Biomimetics Laboratory is full of all kinds of neat stuff, and when we were checking out Stickybot during National Robotics Week, we got a tip about this awesome perching UAV, developed by Alexis Lussier Desbiens.

As you can see from the vid, the UAV uses little spines like Spinybot as opposed to a sticky material like Stickybot


The Los Angeles Times is excited about NASA finding another use for those ubiquitous drones: NASA transformed a robotic plane that’s typically used by the U.S. military to uncover nests of insurgents into…


I suppose this shouldn’t come as a surprise, but credit card companies are scrutinizing our purchases to profile us in ways we may not have imagined possible, such as predicting card users’ divorces, as reported in the Daily Beast:

By scrutinizing your purchases, credit companies try to figure out if your life is about to change—so they’ll know what to sell you.

If you ever doubted the power of the credit card companies, consider this: Visa, the world’s largest credit card network, can predict how likely you are to get a divorce. There’s no consumer-protection legislation for that.

Why would Visa care that your marriage is on the rocks? Yale Law School Professor Ian Ayres, who included the Visa example in his book Super Crunchers, says “credit card companies don’t really care about divorce in and of itself—they care whether you’re going to pay your card off.” And because people who are going through a divorce are more likely to miss payments, your domestic troubles are of great interest…



Alexandra Silver interviews author Shane Harris in TIME magazine: It reads like a spy novel, but in The Watchers: The Rise of America’s Surveillance State, author Shane Harris lays out the U.S….


Thanks to a FOIA request, new evidence has emerged from the FBI’s own internal communications that appear to support many of the claims made by Sibel Edmonds regarding (largely though not exclusively) GOP collusion in the spying activities of the Turkish government.

This is no small matter, as it involves blackmail and bribery of high-level officials like former Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, PNAC signatory Richard Perle, Congressman Roy Blunt, Congresswoman Jean Schmidt, Turkish Ambassador Marc Grossman, Congressman Stephen Solarz, Asst. Sec. Def. Douglas Feith, Congressman Dan Burton and others to “look the other way” from those engaged in spying activities with a foreign government against the United States.

Per the report from the Boiling Frogs website:

Recently released FBI documents prove the existence of highly sensitive National Security and criminal investigations of “Turkish Activities” in Chicago prior to September 11, 2001. These documents add further support to many of the allegations that former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds has claimed, in public and in Congress, since 2002. The documents were released under a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request into an organization called the Turkish American Cultural Alliance (TACA), an organization repeatedly named by Ms. Edmonds as being complicit in the crimes that she became aware of when she was a translator at the FBI…


From Cory Doctorow at BoingBoing:

Scott sez,

A few weeks ago, Frontline premiered a documentary called “Digital Nation”. In one segment, the vice-principle of Intermediate School 339, Bronx, NY, Dan Ackerman, demonstrates how he “remotely monitors” the students’ laptops for “inappropriate use”. (his demonstration begins at 4:36)


He says “They don’t even realize we are watching,” “I always like to mess with them and take a picture,” and “9 times out of 10, THEY DUCK OUT OF THE WAY.”

He says the students “use it like it’s a mirror” and he watches. He says 6th and 7th graders have their cameras activated. It looks like the same software used by the Pennsylvania school that is being investigated for covertly spying on students through their webcams.

The shocking thing about this is that the privacy concerns were not even mentioned in the Frontline documentary!


Is Your Computer Spying on You?Wow, can this be true? Truly a situation in which “Big Brother” comparisons are no exaggeration. It’s being reported that the Lower Merion School District, in a wealthy suburb of Philadelphia, is being sued for spying on its students at home, after issuing the students laptops with webcams that could be covertly activated by school administrators for surveillance, writes Boing Boing:

The issue came to light when the Robbins’s child was disciplined for “improper behavior in his home” and the Vice Principal used a photo taken by the webcam as evidence. The suit is a class action, brought on behalf of all students issued with these machines.

Update: The school district admits that student laptops were shipped with software for covertly activating their webcams, but denies wrongdoing.