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E-Terrorism: NSA Electronic Crimes Against Humanity Pile Up. Prosecutions Next?

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NSA Hacking Google

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.

Image representing Edward Snowden as depicted ...

Image by None via CrunchBase

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

Google’s response:

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 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.

English: Cover of the 10 July 2009 Unclassifie...

English: Cover of the 10 July 2009 Unclassified Report on the President’s Surveillance Program prepared by the Inspectors General of the DoD, DOJ, CIA, NSA, and ODN as required under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 Amendments Act of 2008 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.


Written by voiceoftruthusa

October 31, 2013 at 1:10 pm

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