Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Obama Ends War; NSA Under Surveillance

The President of the United States, in a speech on May 23rd at the National Defense University, bravely announced the end of the War on Terror.  The War on Terror is over.

The global surveillance provided by the NSA is sufficient to identify potential threats. The CIA's drone capability is sufficient to kill anyone who appears to be organizing violence. Boots on the ground may here and there become necessary, but the military option is not the first choice of response when the world is troubled by violence.

The 9/11 era is over, Eugene Robinson says. This was also noted by the most astute wonkette.

The Military Industrial Complex has been superseded by the Military Intelligence Complex. Obama's audience was mostly military - they must have been mentally updating their resumes.

And then all hell broke loose. For the NSA. Their cloak of secrecy disappeared.


It may be a natural imperative for the information age that all information wants to be knowable everywhere. Just as water flows downhill to the sea, information wants to be infinitely shared.

It is important that every knower know every other knower. Where there are breaches in the human fabric, where someone is unknowable, there should be concern. For six months after the 9/11 tragedy in New York, people looked deeply into each other's eyes, seeking to see what was there. Could we trust one another?

That looking continues today, into our phone calls, our internet use, our automobile trips, and endless other trivia that together make up our lives. The NSA does the looking.

Knowing the looker has become the new game in town. The scandals of springtime - Benghazi, the IRS - are forgotten. The surveillance state has itself become an object of intense interest, a gold-mine awaiting discovery. How does the government see me? Who gets to look? Can I see what the government sees? What does the government know about me that I don't know about myself? Have they sequenced my genome yet? Why not?

People look more and more into the eyes of the surveillance state. Can we trust it?

Only, it seems, when everything it does is public knowledge. And that's what the surveillance state is rapidly becoming - public knowledge. In the end, we may live under a trusted surveillance state. Trusted because we know it through and through. Trusted because we can see it and can limit it to doing only what is reasonable. But right now, it's not trusted at all.

Here are the various story lines that are developing:


1)  The NSA has been collecting everybody's phone records:
6/06:  TPM:   Guardian Reveals: NSA Collecting Phone Records Of Millions Of Americans Daily
6/06:  Y:   Monumental phone-records monitoring is laid bare
6/06:  DU:   NSA Collection Of Verizon Phone Records Defended By Top Senators

(The President showed astounding naivete by saying that phone calls are not tracked... did Director of National Intelligence Clapper lie to the President as well as to Congress? - see below)
6/18:  Y:   Obama: NSA secret data gathering 'transparent'
6/18:  NYT Editorial:   Details on Spying, Not More Assurances
6/20:  DU:   Yet Another NSA Program Raises Questions About Obama's Statements to Charlie Rose
and also, the NSA has been collecting everybody's e-mail records:
6/27:  OEN:  NSA Collected US Email Records In Bulk For More Than Two Years Under Obama
7/11:  DU:  Report: Microsoft working closely with NSA—"easier" access given to Hotmail, Skydrive, Skype  
and also, police cameras have been recording license plates to a database that tracks people's travels:
7/17:  Yahoo:   ACLU: Police record license plates by the millions
7/18:  TPM:   Report: Police Track Movement Of Millions Through License Plate Recording 
and also, corporate internal communications are being recorded:
6/25:  DU:   Holy. Fucking. Shit. The candle flickers... (NSA)
    "The odd bit of information about how the NSA is Storing all encrypted traffic that it encounters has been rattling around between what passes for synapses in my noggin." ...

"ALL the VPN traffic. That's all the financials being sent back to the home offices, orders taken, emails, for virtually any corporation."...

"Are you grokking this? ALL the VPN traffic for GE, Google, Microsoft, Apple, Monsanto, ... Name one that doesn't use VPN to protect their IT internals."
and worse, they're selling the data:
7/03:  OEN:   NSA spying - another side of the story-- Data Privatized For Corporate Use

2)  The US director of national intelligence, James Clapper, lied twice to Congress about NSA data collection. Perhaps to the President as well. He admitteds having made the "least untruthful" statement he could, of all possible untruthful statements.  Then he casually lied again about the reason he lied the first time. His other statements to Congress surely contain similar lies. Intrepid investigators may find Clapper's testimonies to be a gold mine that keeps on giving.

 3)  Whistle-blower Edward Snowden has released a series of scandalous internal documents. There are more to come:
6/07:  bb:   Leaked NSA slide-deck claims that NSA has "direct access" to servers at Google, Apple, Facebook, Skype, Yahoo, and many others (here are the pix)

(7/16:  bb:  DHS to employees: reading newspaper coverage of Snowden's NSA leaks is "classified data spillage"  - over a month afterwards, long after the horse was out of the barn...)

6/09:  bb:   NSA whistleblower goes public
6/09:  NYT:   Ex-Worker at C.I.A. Says He Leaked Data on Surveillance
6/10:  NYT:   Edward Snowden, NSA Whistleblower, Says He Acted Out Of Conscience To Protect 'Basic Liberties' 

6/15:  HP:  Inside 'Prism' Success: Even Bigger Data Seizure
 
6/25:  bb:   Snowden's got an encrypted insurance file
7/13:  TPM:   Greenwald: Snowden Intel Bomb Will Go Off If ‘Something Happens’ To Him

6/29:  DU:   Newly Released NSA Slides Explain the PRISM Data-Collection Program

7/01:  juancole:   Snowden: US Now Using Deprivation of (his) Citizenship as a Weapon
7/02:  TruthDig:   Greenwald Promises Another Bombshell NSA Revelation
7/08:  HP:   Edward Snowden: NSA Lying, Collecting All Communications Into And Out Of U.S.


4)  Of course our government has found all this useful:
6/15:  CBS:  Officials: NSA programs broke terror plots in 20 nations
6/18:  HP:  FBI Secrets: Feds Reportedly Used Secret Evidence Obtained Under Secret Surveillance Law To Prosecute Accused Terrorists
6/18:  Y:  NSA: 'Over 50' Terror Plots Foiled by Data Dragnets
6/19:  bb:  Leaked doc shows USA has started an Internet War: Schneier


5)  Other nations are distressed and offended that we are listening to all their phone calls:
6/16:   Guardian:  UK intercepted foreign politicians' communications at G20 summits
6/29:  TPM:  Report: NSA Bugged European Union Offices, Spied On Computer Networks
6/30:  TPM:  EU Questions U.S. About Reports That NSA Has Been Spying On EU Allies
6/30:  DU:   U.S. taps half-billion German phone, internet links in month: report
6/30:  DU:  Germany Compares Reported U.S. Bugging To 'Cold War'
6/30:  TD:  European Officials Angered Over Reports NSA Spied on Them
7/01:  juancole:  Furious European Parliament Members Warn US Spying could Derail Free Trade Agreement
7/04:  TPM:  European Parliament Moves To Block Data Sharing With U.S. Over Alleged Snooping
7/05:  Y:  French minister dresses down US at July 4 fete
7/08:  juancole:  Has NSA Spying Killed US “Cloud” services, Email in Europe, Brazil?
7/17:  DU:  European anger over NSA spying turns inward
Although they do it, too...
6/21: bb:  Brit spies GCHQ harvest all undersea cable comms, all UK calls and data, share with 850,000+ NSA spooks and contractors
7/04: HP:  France Intelligence Agency Spies On Phone Calls, Emails, Social Media Activity: Report


6)  The surveillance apparatus has decided for itself how powerful it should be:

6/20: Guardian:   Revealed: the top secret rules that allow NSA to use US data without a warrant
6/20: bb:  More NSA leaks: how the NSA bends the truth about spying on Americans while insisting it doesn't spy on Americans
6/30: OpEdNews:   FISA Judge Who Approved Massive NSA Spying Identified?
7/01:  DU:  26 Senators: NSA is relying on a "secret body of law" to collect massive amounts of data on US citizens
7/02:  DU:  There’s a Secret Patriot Act, Senator Says
7/05: Y:  U.S. defends secrecy of unique surveillance court
7/06: NYT:  In Secret, Court Vastly Broadens Powers of N.S.A.
7/06: DU:  Valerie Plame Wilson and Joe Wilson on the NSA/Domestic Spying controversy
7/07: bb: Government lawyers secretly empowered to enter US telecoms operations centers
7/07: bb:  Secret rulings from America's shadow Supreme Court legalizes spying in one-sided hearings
7/10: DU:  The NSA Has Inserted Its Code Into Android OS - SmartPhones
 
7)  The US thought Snowden might be on his way to Bolivia, flying in the Bolivian president's plane on the president's way home from a Moscow conference, so we forced a bunch of countries not to let the president fly over them. BIG diplomatic mistake, caused by the panicked NSA giving mindless orders automatically. This can only make the European Parliament even more furious.

Snowden was at one airport. The Bolivian President's plane departed from another airport.
In Congress:
6/16: TPM:  Rand Paul Introduces Bill To Require Warrant For Government To Search Phone Records
6/18: TPM:  Rand Paul: Intelligence Chief Lied Directly To Congress
6/21: bb:   Lawmakers introduce bills requiring Obama to explain his secret interpretation of the spying laws
6/24: HP:  Senators Say There's A 'Significant' Inaccuracy In NSA Surveillance Fact Sheet
6/25: HP:  Caught trying to lie: NSA Deletes Surveillance 'Fact' Sheet (UPDATE) 
7/17:  TPM:  Members Of Congress: We Never Intended To Let Widespread Domestic Spying Happen
7/18:  JuanCole:  Obama Administration Facing Congressional Rebellion, Civil Suits over NSA Surveillance
7/18:  Maddow:  Mitch McConnell's control starts to slip
7/19:  NYT:  Senate and CIA Spar Over Releasing Secret Report

The public is becoming organized:
7/07:  NYT:  Privacy Group to Ask Supreme Court to Stop N.S.A.’s Phone Spying Program
7/16:  EFF:  Unitarian Church, Gun Groups Join EFF to Sue NSA Over Illegal Surveillance

The culture is becoming observant, seeing the larger story:
6/25:  CTR:  Turnkey Tyranny: Surveillance and the Terror State
7/15:  Guardian: The crux of the NSA story in one phrase: 'collect it all' (Greenwald)

And adaptive:



9)   In this modern age, keeping anything secret is a growing challenge
7/11:  T-O:   Obama's Plan to Crack Down on Whistleblowers Leaked
7/17:  GMS:  WWE have been left embarrassed after a Reddit user posted the results of 38 matches before they have taken place.
7/03: bb:   Motorola Droid silently, insecurely, sends personal data to mothership




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