Archive for October 2013
The diplomatic row has been caused by the Sydney Morning Herald’s report, which said the NSA collected its data in Asian countries by having its equipment installed inside US embassies and also in the diplomatic missions of the other ‘Five Eye’ nations, which includes Australia, Britain and Canada.
Beijing said it was “extremely concerned” by the news and was seeking clarification from the US.
“We also demand that foreign embassies in China and their staff respect the Vienna Convention … and other international treaties and not get involved in any activities which do not accord with their status or post and harm China’s security and interests,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, said on Thursday.
- China demands US explain spying allegations (worldbulletin.net)
- China, Other Asians Angry Over Embassy Spy Reports (abcnews.go.com)
- China, other Asians angry over embassy spy reports (hosted.ap.org)
- Growing Anger in Asia Over New NSA Spying Reports (matthewaid.com)
- China, other Asians angry over embassy spy reports (nzherald.co.nz)
- Did China and Indonesia Dump MSG on U.S.? (blogs.wsj.com)
- Pro-Japan Australia vs. China (japantimes.co.jp)
- Venezuelan president kicks out US diplomats, declares no ‘cordial ties’ until sovereignty respected (EndtheLie.com)
- Whistle-Blower Creep (slate.com)
- How and why NSA spies on US allies (news.yahoo.com)
As we reported before, late hackivist Aaron Swartz faced 13 felony counts of breaking hacking laws in a federally prosecuted case. The hackers at the NSA have far exceeded the alleged crimes of Mr. Swartz by a long shot. The latest accusations against the NSA suggest that we may need to update the Geneva Convention to include electronic crimes against humanity as the equivalent of a war crime. The NSA has been illegally accessing the content of hundreds of millions of Google and Yahoo emails by breaking into the respective email servers of both companies. Documents released by Eric Snowden also allege that the NSA has been hacking into the communications of now Pope Francis before and most likely during the Papal Conclave. Do any of these have anything to do with fighting the kinds of terrorism that led to 9/11? Of course not. As you can see from the figure above, NSA’s reference to “Traffic in clear text here” and “SSL Added and removed here!” is proof of illegal behavior because Google made the effort to secure the flow of data between the public internet and it’s Cloud infrastructure. The “clear text” reference suggests that either the NSA has unencrypted Google Cloud’s data stored on its servers or implies that Google is not encrypting the data stored on it’s Cloud servers. Either way, this revelation may weigh in on Google’ stock price and will perhaps greatly impact the trust of Google’s customers, resulting in business damage that Google could then use as a basis for a lawsuit. And of course, U.S. taxpayers would have to foot the bill.
Let’s read what the Washington Post reported about NSA hacking:
NSA infiltrates links to Yahoo, Google data centers worldwide, Snowden documents say
The National Security Agency has secretly broken into the main communications links that connect Yahoo and Google data centers around the world, according to documents obtained from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and interviews with knowledgeable officials.
By tapping those links, the agency has positioned itself to collect at will from hundreds of millions of user accounts, many of them belonging to Americans. The NSA does not keep everything it collects, but it keeps a lot.
According to a top-secret accounting dated Jan. 9, 2013, the NSA’s acquisitions directorate sends millions of records every day from internal Yahoo and Google networks to data warehouses at the agency’s headquarters at Fort Meade, Md. In the preceding 30 days, the report said, field collectors had processed and sent back 181,280,466 new records — including “metadata,” which would indicate who sent or received e-mails and when, as well as content such as text, audio and video.
The NSA’s principal tool to exploit the data links is a project called MUSCULAR, operated jointly with the agency’s British counterpart, the Government Communications Headquarters. From undisclosed interception points, the NSA and the GCHQ are copying entire data flows across fiber-optic cables that carry information among the data centers of the Silicon Valley giants.
The infiltration is especially striking because the NSA, under a separate program known as PRISM, has front-door access to Google and Yahoo user accounts through a court-approved process.
The MUSCULAR project appears to be an unusually aggressive use of NSA tradecraft against flagship American companies.
Read the rest at http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/nsa-infiltrates-links-to-yahoo-google-data-centers-worldwide-snowden-documents-say/2013/10/30/e51d661e-4166-11e3-8b74-d89d714ca4dd_story.html
We have long been concerned about the possibility of this kind of snooping, which is why we have continued to extend encryption across more and more Google services and links, especially the links in the slide. We do not provide any government, including the U.S. government, with access to our systems. We are outraged at the lengths to which the government seems to have gone to intercept data from our private fiber networks, and it underscores the need for urgent reform.
Here’s what Antiwar.com had to say about the illegality of NSA’s actions:
That’s a huge story. As has been the case since Snowden’s disclosures…they just keep coming.
But the most important part of the story, in my opinion, is the very last paragraph of the Post‘s report. And I’m afraid it will get diminished attention in the fall out. Here it is:
In 2011, when the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court learned that the NSA was using similar methods to collect and analyze data streams — on a much smaller scale — from cables on U.S. territory, Judge John D. Bates ruled that the program was illegal under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and inconsistent with the requirements of the Fourth Amendment.
Bottom line: the FISA court has already found surveillance of a lesser degree and on a much smaller scale to be illegal and in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
The PRISM program, mentioned above, is horrendous and invasive, but it is authorized under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and overseen, in however limited and biased a fashion, by the FISA courts. This backdoor infiltration is not authorized under 702 and not overseen by FISA courts. Google and Yahoo aren’t even aware they’ve been infiltrated in this way.
As for the NSA spying on the papal Conclave:
ROME — The National Security Agency spied on cardinals as they prepared to select the new pope — perhaps including even Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, who emerged from last spring’s conclave as Pope Francis, a leading Italian news magazine reported in Wednesday’s (Oct. 30) editions.
The news magazine Panorama said the same NSA eavesdropping program that angered leaders in Germany, France, Spain and Mexico also listened in on calls to and from the Vatican, including the phones in the Santa Marta guesthouse that housed Bergoglio and the rest of the College of Cardinals.
Pope Francis still lives in the guesthouse, but the magazine did not speculate whether the phones there were still tapped.
Panorama, which said that Bergoglio had been identified as a “person of interest” by the NSA dating back to the 2005 conclave that selected Pope Benedict XVI, said recorded communications from the Vatican were categorized in one of four sections: leadership, financial system threats, foreign policy objectives and human rights issues.
What does any of this have to do with threats of terrorism originating out of cave-dwelling Al Qaeda members? It’s time for the Congressional hearings to end and criminal proceedings to start soon.
- Brilliant Drawing Links NSA Spying On Google And The Vatican (businessinsider.com)
- Latest Snowden leak: ‘NSA hacked into Google & Yahoo data streams’ [Sam Sacks @ RTAmerica] (disclose.tv)
- Why the NSA tapping of Google and Yahoo clouds is more dangerous than PRISM (techi.com)
- MUSCULAR Is The NSA Program You Should Be Afraid Of (washingtonpost.com)
- NSA reportedly collecting data secretly from Google, Yahoo – Los Angeles Times (latimes.com)
- Google & Yahoo infuriated by NSA hacking (worldbulletin.net)
- The NSA Secretly Taps into Google and Yahoo Data Center Networks (news.softpedia.com)
If you think filing your taxes is a pain, try talking to one of the 6 million Americans living abroad.
Unlike citizens of most other countries, Americans are legally obligated to file U.S. taxes each year, even if they are living and earning income overseas.
Problem is most expats are also required to pay taxes in their country of residence. This means two huge piles of paperwork, two sets of deadlines and one giant struggle to keep pace with a complex mess of ever-changing regulations.
While living in the U.S., the Iowa native was able to prepare his returns using TurboTax. That’s no longer the case — Rosenberg’s taxes are now so complicated he has been forced to hire an accountant.
- U.S. expats cry foul over tax system (wyff4.com)
- Americans Who Said ‘No More!’ To America (thedailyhorn.com)
- Is the Embattled IRS the Next Obamacare Nightmare? (ivoter.com)
- IRS Fresh Start Program (2012taxes.org)
- IRS to expats and foreign account holders : “Freeze! This is a stick up!” (idahoindependentpress.com)
- Arrival of Obamacare puts focus on IRS tax-credit scandal (humanevents.com)
(CNN) — When is a website crash not a crash? That question has been on the minds of many since the government official responsible for the beleaguered HealthCare.gov site testified Wednesday before Congress.
But it was a parenthetical comment that turned heads.
“We were anxious to get the website up and running and functional, which we clearly have failed to do to date,” Sebelius said. “Although, I would suggest the website has never crashed. It is functional but at a very slow speed and very low reliability.”
Hasn’t crashed, really? Critics of the site’s failures — as well as of the Affordable Care Act itself — immediately pounced on her statement.
One congresswoman pulled up the Obamacare site on an overhead projector during the hearing, appearing to show that it wasn’t accessible at the time. (In fairness, it’s not clear whether that problem was due to the site itself or a problem with host Verizon’s servers that cropped up in the past few days.
- CNN Destroys Sebelius With Single Split-Screen (breitbart.com)
- Sebelius testimony translated: I did not have sexual relations with that website (twitchy.com)
- Obamacare Website Crashes Again; Users Unable to Apply for Coverage (ktla.com)
- “System Is Down”: Sebelius Claims ObamaCare “Website Has Never Crashed” (speaker.gov)
If the NSA Needed to Spy on Every Citizen in the World, Why Are Terrorist Attacks Rising? Proof of Failure
It is perhaps clear to everyone paying attention to the news that the NSA went way overboard in its surveillance reach. Using the 9/11 attacks as justification, the NSA has practically spied on every phone call and internet activity in the world. Because the NSA has been very unaccountable with increased powers under the so-called Patriot Act, no one has dared verify whether in fact the spy agency really needed to spy on every man, woman and child on the planet in order to protect us from terrorists, mainly cave-dwelling Al Qaeda members who are popularly blamed for carrying out the 9/11 attacks. Now that Edward Snowden‘s leaks have opened the floodgate on the outrageous activities of the NSA, we can now ask if spending billions of taxpayer dollars to spy on billions of people to fight thousands of cave dwelling terrorists who allegedly killed under 3,000 people on 9/11/2001 is even worth all of the loss of privacy? The evidence says a resounding NO!!
On Oct. 29, 2013, CNN cited a START report on an increase in terrorist activities since 2011. START stands for the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism. CNN mentioned the following:
More than 8,500 terrorist attacks killed nearly 15,500 people last year as violence tore through Africa, Asia and the Middle East, according to the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism.
That’s a 69% rise in attacks and an 89% jump in fatalities from 2011, said START, one of the world’s leading terrorism-trackers.
Six of the seven most deadly groups are affiliated with al Qaeda, according to START, and most of the violence was committed in Muslim-majority countries.
The previous record for attacks was set in 2011 with more than 5,000 incidents; for fatalities the previous high was 2007 with more than 12,800 deaths.
Clearly, these facts show that either the NSA is extremely incompetent in protecting us from terrorism, or it has another agenda in collecting so much information on every aspect of all of our lives. Such a startling increase in attacks and fatalities suggests a colossal failure of the worst kind in history, and is more than enough reason to not only dismantle NSA, but to also add a constitutional amendment permanently protecting individual privacy rights.
While we see that the NSA was far more focused on spying on world leaders and corporations, and too busy to spy on the terrorists effectively, it is interesting that some NSA agents find time to spy on their lovers (http://wp.me/p360hm-zx). But perhaps their lovers are Al Qaeda (but then that would bring up other disturbing background check issues).
The Washington Post wrote the following interesting conclusion about NSA’s effectiveness and focus:
A confidential government memo admits that the spying didn’t help prevent terrorism:
The memo acknowledges that eavesdropping on the numbers had produced “little reportable intelligence”.
Because the leaders of allies such as Germany, Brazil, Mexico, the EU and G-20 have no ties to Al Qaeda terrorists, the spying was obviously done for other purposes.
The NSA conducts widespread industrial espionage on our allies. That has nothing to do with terrorism, either.
Indeed, there is no evidence that mass surveillance has prevented a single terrorist attack. On the contrary, top counter-terror experts say that mass spying actually hurts U.S. counter-terror efforts (more here and here).
If NSA spying were really focused on terrorism, our allies and companies wouldn’t be fighting back so hard against it.
It would be advisable for the NSA to rethink it’s mission and techniques. Using traditional law enforcement and investigation techniques are enough. The investigators and law enforcers during the 1920 Wall Street bombing were far more effective than today’s NSA, FBI and CIA in investigating that crime. So there is simply no excuse to trash individual privacy rights to “protect” us from cave dwellers.
- Global Terrorist Attacks And Deaths Have Hit A Record High (warnewsupdates.blogspot.com)
- Proof that NSA Spying Is Not Very Focused On Terrorism (washingtonsblog.com)
- US Spying Prompts Reversal by Anti-Terror Lawmaker (abcnews.go.com)
- Report: Terror attacks on the rise, becoming even more deadly (outfront.blogs.cnn.com)
- Europe: Stop Spying on Us (world.time.com)
- Record High: 8,500 Terror Attacks, 15,500 Fatalities, Globally, in 2012 (algemeiner.com)
- Feinstein plans bill to codify NSA’s phone spying (sfgate.com)
- Terrorist attacks and deaths hit record high, report shows (security.blogs.cnn.com)
- Is Feinstein Too Old To Understand That The NSA Is Spying On Americans, Or Is She Just A Liar? (personalliberty.com)
- An Angry Europe Faces Up to U.S. Spying and the War on Terror’s Legacy (world.time.com)
Officials said the Obama administration has briefed the House and Senate on nuclear negotiations with Teheran. They said the White House wanted to ease pressure on Iran until the talks reach a resolution.
“We have conveyed that any congressional action should be aligned with our negotiating strategy as we move forward,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.
In a briefing on Oct. 25, Ms. Psaki referred to statements by House and Senate leaders for additional sanctions on Iran in an effort to stop oil exports. She said the White House would continue to meet Congress in what she termed “outreach.”
- Kerry, Lew to brief U.S. senators on Iran nuclear talks (reuters.com)
- White House reportedly pushing Congress to delay Iran sanctions (timesofisrael.com)
- Israel warns Iran over bomb report (foxnews.com)
- Obama admin seeks pause in new Iran sanctions push – The State (thestate.com)
- Senate Dems May Spurn Obama’s Call for Delay, Push Iran Sanctions (news.antiwar.com)
- Israel to US: Pass more sanctions, Iran could have material for bomb within weeks (jpost.com)