Archive for the ‘National security’ Category

It’s kind of a hassle to write about the NSA, because since Snowden started telling the world about the NSA’s “spy on everyone” PRISM program and other programs, there’s just so much to say.  It’s somewhat overwhelming to deal with the massive intrusion on American life and gross violations of the Fourth Amendment.

During the W. Bush tenure, Rumsfeld cited a series of terms to deal with levels of intelligence concerning Iraq.  There were known knowns, known unknowns, and unknown unknowns.  Known knowns are things you know.  Known unknowns are things you know that you don’t know – you may have vague notions but no specifics, or you may be unsure, but you’re aware there’s something that you don’t have full info on.  Unknown unknowns are things you aren’t even aware that you don’t know.

Rep. Bob Corker (R, TN) expains that congress doesn’t know what it doesn’t know:

“Every day there are stories… that are leaked out. The American people want to know that those of us who are elected, Eliot and I, understand fully what’s happening here. I don’t think we do. I would imagine there are even members of the intelligence committee themselves that don’t fully understand the gambit of things that are taking place. It’s our responsibility to know those things, to ensure they’re in balance, and I hope as soon as we get back there’ll be a full briefing from top to bottom so that can happen.”

Except that Congress wrote laws to make the laws secret.  Many congressmen aren’t even allowed to know about the secret courts, and those that are are legally bound to secrecy by laws they wrote.  So we have secret courts, secret agencies, secrets within secrets, and layers and layers of abuses of citizens’ privacy and other rights that we don’t even know about, because they made it secret.

The NSA is full of known unknowns – we know they’re spying, and unknown unknowns – how are they spying, on whom are they spying, why are they spying, what are they doing with it, and what else are they doing?

The Founders did not intend for one secret court to make one secret ruling that would abrogate millions of citizens civil rights.

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The most recent revelations come from the UK Telegraph (because American media won’t report on things unfavorable to Dear Leader Obama):

Staff working at America’s National Security Agency – the eavesdropping unit that was revealed to have spied on millions of people – have used the technology to spy on their lovers.

The employees even had a code name for the practice – “Love-int” – meaning the gathering of intelligence on their partners.

Dianne Feinstein, a senator who chairs the Senate intelligence committee, said the NSA told her committee about a set of “isolated cases” that have occurred about once a year for the last 10 years. The spying was not within the US, and was carried out when one of the lovers was abroad.

One employee was disciplined for using the NSA’s resources to track a former spouse, the Associated Press said.

Last week it was disclosed that the NSA had broken privacy rules on nearly 3,000 occasions over a one-year period.

John DeLong, NSA chief compliance officer, said that those errors were mainly unintentional, but that there have been “a couple” of wilful violations in the past decade.

Feinstein is the Senate Intel committee chair, so either she’s lying and knew about it, or she’s ignorant of what the NSA is doing, in which case either she’s incompetent or the NSA is lying to her, or both.

This needs to end.

Law enforcement officials who do things like run the license plates of cars next door to their houses if they think their spouses are cheating get fired for abuse of authority.  The NSA used super-secret spy equipment to track their lovers’ every move and they get to tell their overseers that it’s none of their business.

Not only is this an indictment of the agency as an unconstitutional, tyrannical Orwellian nightmare, it’s also an indicator of what the character of these people are and the character of their organization.  They aren’t just run-of-the-mill facebook stalkers, they’re willing to use spy satellites and electronic surveillance to watch your every move at all times.

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From HotAir:

Stop me if you’ve heard this before.  Allegations arise of abuses of power and wrongdoing in a subordinate agency of a Cabinet department, which then conducts an investigation that lays the blame on a few low-level staffers and then insists that any further debate on the issue is nothing more than a “phony scandal.” The State Department did that with Benghazi, Treasury (or at least the White House’s spin on the IG report) with the IRS, and the Department of Justice with Operation Fast and Furious. The DoJ will now take a second spin on the Wheel Of Scapegoats by launching its own investigation into the DEA’s alleged widespread spying:

The US Department of Justice has launched an investigation into revelations that the Drug Enforcement Agency uses surveillance tactics – including wiretapping and massive databases of telephone records – to arrest Americans, amid growing concerns from lawyers and civil rights groups over its lack of transparency.

In a related story, the Obama Department of Agriculture has now announced that foxes make good guards of henhouses.

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From Wired:

Security researchers tonight are poring over a piece of malicious software that takes advantage of a Firefox security vulnerability to identify some users of the privacy-protecting Tor anonymity network.

The malware showed up Sunday morning on multiple websites hosted by the anonymous hosting company Freedom Hosting. That would normally be considered a blatantly criminal “drive-by” hack attack, but nobody’s calling in the FBI this time. The FBI is the prime suspect.

“It just sends identifying information to some IP in Reston, Virginia,” says reverse-engineer Vlad Tsyrklevich. “It’s pretty clear that it’s FBI or it’s some other law enforcement agency that’s U.S.-based.

TOR has some big problems, because some people who don’t want their activities to come to light aren’t doing so out of concerns of privacy, but criminality.  This story, however, falls in a pattern of spying by the fedgov that keeps looking more and more ominous, like how the DEA is using NSA snooping for their own purposes – from Huffpo:

WASHINGTON, Aug 5 (Reuters) – 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.

Although these cases rarely involve national security issues, documents reviewed by Reuters show that law enforcement agents have been directed to conceal how such investigations truly begin – not only from defense lawyers but also sometimes from prosecutors and judges.

And how the encrypted email service that Snowden used has been shut down:

Lavabit announced today that it would shut down its encrypted email service rather than “become complicit in crimes against the American people.” Lavabit did not say what it had been asked to do, only that it was legally prohibited from sharing the events leading to its decision.

Lavabit was an email provider, apparently used by Edward Snowden along with other privacy sensitive users, with an avowed mission to offer an “e-mail service that never sacrifices privacy for profits” and promised to “only release private information if legally compelled by the courts in accordance with the United States Constitution.”

And how the fedgov is demanding your passwords (from CNET):

The U.S. government has demanded that major Internet companies divulge users’ stored passwords, according to two industry sources familiar with these orders, which represent an escalation in surveillance techniques that has not previously been disclosed.

Of course, with the Associated Press being spied on, reporter James Rosen and reporter Sharyl Attkisson being targeted, this isn’t really a surprise.  The Obama administration uses every tool to target opponents, and the Constitution and its protections are meaningless to them.

Harumph!

Good on David Gregory!  Gregory demands that Glenn Greenwald be held accountable for his support of Edward Snowden.  Since David Gregory has so much integrity, there’s no way he’s saying this just because Obama’s being made to look like a snooping despot.

WASHINGTON (AP) — NBC “Meet the Press” host David Gregory got a rise out of Glenn Greenwald on Sunday by asking the Guardian reporter why he shouldn’t be charged with a crime for having “aided and abetted” former National Security Agency analyst Edward Snowden.

Damn right!  Charge Greenwald!

Greenwald replied on the show Sunday that it was “pretty extraordinary that anybody who would call themselves a journalist would publicly muse about whether or not other journalists should be charged with felonies.”

Sounds like the kind of thing Greenwald would say!  He’s clearly a criminal dirtbag who needs to be charged!  David Gregory would never stand with someone who would commit a crime punishable by a year in prison!

Gregory responded that “the question of who is a journalist may be up to a debate with regard to what you are doing.”

Damn straight!  Good on David Gregory for standing up for the law and not letting journalists who think they’re special just go out and break it!

David Gregory’s got integrity!  He’d never do such a thing like that shoddy yellow journalist Greenwald!

Well, except for that one time

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Greenwald understood Gregory’s intended point quite well:

If you want to embrace that theory, it means that every investigative journalist in the United States who works with their sources, who receives classified information is a criminal, and it’s precisely those theories and precisely that climate that has become so menacing in the United States,” said Greenwald, a former constitutional and civil rights lawyer who has written three books contending that the government has violated personal rights in the name of protecting national security.

Later, Greenwald tweeted, “Who needs the government to try to criminalize journalism when you have David Gregory to do it?”

Update.

From Pew Research, the idea that huge levels of government power are okay, as long as “my guy” is in charge:

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From HotAir, yet another reason to like Ike:

It’s not all swords and plowshares.  It’s the industrial-intelligence complex.

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Michelle Malkin highlights some crucial differences between Obama and Bush’s use of the NSA:

The Bush NSA’s special collections program grew in early 2002 after the CIA started capturing top Qaeda operatives overseas, including Abu Zubaydah. The CIA seized the terrorists’ computers, cellphones and personal phone directories. NSA surveillance was intended to exploit those numbers and addresses as quickly as possible. As a result of Bush NSA work,the terrorist plot involving convicted al Qaeda operative Iyman Faris was uncovered — possibly saving untold lives, not to mention New York bridges and possibly Washington, D.C. trains.

The Bush administration argued then that the NSA program that helped uncover the Faris plot was necessary because officials needed to act quickly on large caches of information, such as the data found after the Zubaydah capture in March 2002. Normally, the government obtains court orders to monitor such information from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. But the window of opportunity to exploit the names, numbers, and addresses of those associated with the top terrorist leaders was obviously small.

The differences between then and now are glaring.

The new Obama order covers not only phone calls overseas with the specific goal of counterterrorism surveillance, but all domestic calls by Verizon customers over at least a three-month period.

Trevor Timm, a digital rights analyst at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, called the order “shockingly broad.”

“Not only are they intercepting call data into and out of the country, but they are intercepting all call data in the United States, which goes far beyond what the FISA Amendments Act allows,” Timm said.

“This is an abuse of the Patriot Act on a massive scale,” said Gregory Nojeim, senior counsel at the Center for Democracy and Technology. “Since the law requires that the telephone records sought be relevant to an investigation, it appears that the FBI and the NSA may have launched the broadest investigation in history because everyone’s telephone calls seem to be relevant to it.”

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A choice quote from California Democrat Congresswoman Maxine Waters:

Well, you know, I don’t know, and I think some people are missing something here.  The president has put in place an organization that contains the kind of database that no one has ever seen before in life.  That’s going to be very, very powerful.  That database will have information about everything, on every individual, in ways that it’s never been done before.

She’s talking about Organizing for America… but isn’t that peculiar?  Depending how tight your tin foil hat is, this is very odd.

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And what may prove to be very interesting – the CIA deputy director is leaving:

CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell is stepping down from his post and will be replaced by White House lawyer Avril Haines, the agency announced Wednesday.

CIA Director John Brennan said in a statement that Morell, a 33-year agency veteran, had decided to “retire to spend more time with his family and to pursue other professional opportunities.”

Note again that he’s being replaced by a lawyer, with no skills other than being a lawyer.

“Retire to spend more time with family” is the kind of thing you expect to hear when someone resigns as they know something bad is on the horizon.

I seem to remember hearing stories about General Ham and Admiral Gaouette saying they were retiring to spend time with family, too.

Last night on Texas Overnight, Charlie Jones had a caller on who asked about filing a FOIA request against the NSA for info on Benghazi.  It’s an interesting idea.

Consider that whistleblower Snowden said he could’ve tapped anyone’s electronic communications – even the President’s:

The most confounding thing in writing about the NSA/PRISM/Snowden clusterfark is that, if you don’t work in national security, there’s no yardstick to measure which claims are plausible and which are insane. That in itself is a brutal indictment of the surveillance state, of course: The government’s powers are so vast and so secret that even a citizen who follows the news really can’t debate them intelligently. Is it insane to think that a 29-year-old NSA/Booz IT guy could be reading Barack Obama’s private e-mails if he wanted to?

So, yeah. Snowden suggests he could have accessed the president’s personal e-mails. Is that crazy? I hope so. I don’t know.

He says he was granted broad “wiretapping” authorities. In a video interview with The Guardian, Snowden claims to have had incredibly broad authority to wiretap Americans, saying “I, sitting at my desk, certainly had the authorities to wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant, to a federal judge or even the president, if I had a personal e-mail.”

These records exist.  The NSA has been saving emails and has been saving metadata and actual data for quite a while now.

So how about a FOIA request on ATF Gunwalker/Fast and Furious conspirators like Bill Newell, Lanny Breuer, Kevin O’Reilly, and even AG Eric “Held In Contempt” Holder?  Or how about congress requesting the documents from the NSA?

The NSA can’t claim there’s an “ongoing investigation”, since they aren’t the DOJ.

Just a thought.

From the National Review & HotAir:

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Funny.

…except for the ABC story at HotAir that says apprehensions are down.

Mira, the way the Border Patrol works is that if they catch them, they’re apprehensions.  If they get away, they’re listed as gotaways.  Pretty simple so far.  If there are overlapping stations, they may or may not count them as gotaways for the station, because it doesn’t look good for stations to state they’re letting illegals through.   So they may pass them off to other stations either to attempt apprehension, or to call them someone else’s gotaways, or the record of the gotaways may be passed back.  Stations do things different ways, some list gotaways to show that they’re being overrun and need additional resources, others don’t list gotaways so they can say they have the area under control.  It all depends on local management and how they feel about the situation; and different directives from DC on what constitutes what.

From what I’ve heard and seen, and from plenty of open sources as well, the border is in fact not under control, and there are in fact significantly larger numbers of aliens crossing, being apprehended, and getting away.

No small part of this is due to the fact that smuggling operations were able to listen to Obama’s statements that the Border Patrol would have reduced hours for agents – and reduced time in the field means reduced time to apprehend aliens, means more time during shift changes, and means less time to cover remote areas far from the actual station headquarters.  Just like any rural law enforcement, officers have to show up for work and then drive to where they’re needed – and often times they’re needed far from where they start their workday.

None of this is news to anyone who’s ever worked anything as simple as a delivery route, or set up a military watch or patrol of a perimeter, or just thought about it for a few minutes.  Folks have other things to do, so they typically aren’t thinking about law enforcement operations – but in this case, there’s been a cause and effect from Obama saying “reduced hours” and alien/drug smugglers knowing exactly what that means to them.

Aliens also know that Obama’s promises of ramming amnesty down the throats of American citizens is good news for fence-jumpers.  All they have to do is get in before the deadline and they get a claim to your tax dollars.

House Oversight & Reform Committee hearing today.  Viewable live here.

Plenty of questions about what was going on, when, and how.