I first read this article earlier today. At first I was somewhat proud of the way we apparently do whatever we want. About 90 seconds after reading the article and thinking about it I was not as proud. I will lay my reason out in a minute.
During a coffee break at an intelligence conference held in The Netherlands a few years back, a senior Scandinavian counterterrorism official regaled me with a story. One of his service’s surveillance teams was conducting routine monitoring of a senior militant leader when they suddenly noticed through their high-powered surveillance cameras two men breaking into the militant’s apartment. The target was at Friday evening prayers at the local mosque. But rather than ransack the apartment and steal the computer equipment and other valuables while he was away — as any right-minded burglar would normally have done — one of the men pulled out a disk and loaded some programs onto the resident’s laptop computer while the other man kept watch at the window. The whole operation took less than two minutes, then the two trespassers fled the way they came, leaving no trace that they had ever been there.
Share on twitter Twitter
Share on reddit Reddit
It did not take long for the official to determine that the two men were, in fact, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operatives conducting what is known in the U.S. intelligence community as either a “black bag job” or a “surreptitious entry” operation. Back in the Cold War, such a mission might have involved cracking safes, stealing code books, or photographing the settings on cipher machines. Today, this kind of break-in is known inside the CIA and National Security Agency as an “off-net operation,” a clandestine human intelligence mission whose specific purpose is to surreptitiously gain access to the computer systems and email accounts of targets of high interest to America’s spies. As we’ve learned in recent weeks, the National Security Agency’s ability to electronically eavesdrop from afar is massive. But it is not infinite. There are times when the agency cannot gain access to the computers or gadgets they’d like to listen in on. And so they call in the CIA’s black bag crew for help.
The CIA’s clandestine service is now conducting these sorts of black bag operations on behalf of the NSA, but at a tempo not seen since the height of the Cold War. Moreover, these missions, as well as a series of parallel signals intelligence (SIGINT) collection operations conducted by the CIA’s Office of Technical Collection, have proven to be instrumental in facilitating and improving the NSA’s SIGINT collection efforts in the years since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Over the past decade specially-trained CIA clandestine operators have mounted over one hundred extremely sensitive black bag jobs designed to penetrate foreign government and military communications and computer systems, as well as the computer systems of some of the world’s largest foreign multinational corporations. Spyware software has been secretly planted in computer servers; secure telephone lines have been bugged; fiber optic cables, data switching centers and telephone exchanges have been tapped; and computer backup tapes and disks have been stolen or surreptitiously copied in these operations.
It is clear that there is only so many secret laws we can have. These secret Courts with secret Rulings justify forcing the biggest companies in the world to hand over all their data.
That apparently is not good enough for the NSA. They want Global domination in terms of electronic communications of any kind. They apparently justify breaking the Laws of Sovereign Foreign Nations with impunity and… ANDthey brag about it. I fully believe the NSA ( or as we see sublet the ugly stuff out to the CIA)) would have just broken into or illegally stolen the electronic information inside the US borders. The NSA luckily has a secret Court with secret Rulings ( The FISA Court– I actually talk about it earlier in my blog and there is a well written NY Times article linked to it as well). If the NSA cannot get a Court Order or has to operate Internationally they will just acquire the information by any means and at all costs. Is there really anything to be happy about after reading this article? I almost feel as bad as I did after the Torture reports started flooding out of Iraq. I feel like a certain segment of Govt and by definition people at large think it is ok to do something simply because we are the USA and we are superior to everyone else both morally and militarily. You cannot treat the World as your personal living room where you can do whatever you want and leave it as messy as you want.
I think it is appalling that we feel we can go around (most likely) in the dead of night and break laws willy nilly and then have the balls to brag about it.
I am not here to argue Religion or Philosophy. I do personally believe there is a Universal Law of being morally responsible as a Group
or as an Individual. I believe that everyone has a Universal moral responsibility to act within the confines of accepted human behavior. I believe that should also be true of Companies and Countries. They should not be stealing… breaking into..lying…forging…killing ( I am positive it has happened) etc…etc.. All in the name of National Security or Bigger Profits.
Immanuel Kant (German: [ɪˈmaːnu̯eːl kant]; 22 April 1724 – 12 February 1804) was a German philosopher who is widely considered to be a central figure of modern philosophy. He argued that human concepts and categories structure our view of the world and its laws, and that reason is the source of morality. His thought continues to hold a major influence in contemporary thought, especially in fields such as metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, political philosophy, and aesthetics.
Kant’s major work, the Critique of Pure Reason (Kritik der reinen Vernunft, 1781), aimed to bring reason together with experience and to move beyond what he took to be failures of traditional philosophy and metaphysics. He hoped to end an age of speculation where objects outside experience were seen to support what he saw as futile theories, while resisting the skepticism of thinkers such as Hume.
It always remains a scandal of philosophy and universal human reason that the existence of things outside us … should have to be assumed merely on faith, and that if it occurs to anyone to doubt it, we should be unable to answer him with a satisfactory proof.
Kant proposed a “Copernican Revolution-in-reverse”, saying that:
Up to now it has been assumed that all our cognition must conform to the objects; but … let us once try whether we do not get farther with the problems of metaphysics by assuming that the objects must conform to our cognition.
I took a half year Philosophy class specifically about Kant and morality. It really shaped my beliefs in a more Universal approach to morality.
The sense of an enlightened approach and the critical method required that “If one cannot prove that a thing is, he may try to prove that it is not. And if he succeeds in doing neither (as often occurs), he may still ask whether it is in his interest to accept one or the other of the alternatives hypothetically, from the theoretical or the practical point of view. Hence the question no longer is as to whether perpetual peace is a real thing or not a real thing, or as to whether we may not be deceiving ourselves when we adopt the former alternative, but we must act on the supposition of its being real.” The presupposition of God, soul, and freedom was then a practical concern, for “Morality, by itself, constitutes a system, but happiness does not, unless it is distributed in exact proportion to morality. This, however, is possible in an intelligible world only under a wise author and ruler. Reason compels us to admit such a ruler, together with life in such a world, which we must consider as future life, or else all moral laws are to be considered as idle dreams… .”
Kant claimed to have created a “Copernican revolution” in philosophy. This involved two interconnected foundations of his “critical philosophy”:
the epistemology of Transcendental Idealism and
the moral philosophy of the autonomy of practical reason.
These teachings placed the active, rational human subject at the center of the cognitive and moral worlds. Kant argued that the rational order of the world as known by science was not just the fortuitous accumulation of sense perceptions.
With regard to morality, Kant argued that the source of the good lies not in anything outside the human subject, either in nature or given by God, but rather is only the good will itself. A good will is one that acts from duty in accordance with the universal moral law that the autonomous human being freely gives itself. This law obliges one to treat humanity – understood as rational agency, and represented through oneself as well as others – as an end in itself rather than (merely) as means to other ends the individual might hold. This necessitates practical self-reflection in which we universalize our reasons.
“Hops” refers to a technical term indicating connections between people. A three-hop query means that the NSA can look at data not only from a suspected terrorist, but from everyone that suspect communicated with, and then from everyone those people communicated with, and then from everyone all of those people communicated with.
Inglis did not elaborate, nor did the members of the House panel – many of whom expressed concern and even anger at the NSA – explore the legal and privacy implications of the breadth of “three-hop” analysis.
But Inglis and other intelligence and law enforcement officials testifying before the committee said that the NSA’s ability to query the data follows rules set by the secret Fisa court, although about two dozen NSA officials determine for themselves when those criteria are satisified.
A document published last month by the Guardian detailing the history of the NSA’s post-9/11 bulk surveillance on telephone and internet data refer to one- or two-hop analysis performed by NSA. The document, provided by ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden, does not explicitly mention three-hop analysis, nor does it clearly suggest that such analysis occurs.
From the Reporter at the center of the NSA-Snowden firestorm. Glenn Greenwald.
The crux of the NSA story in one phrase: ‘collect it all’
The actual story that matters is not hard to see: the NSA is attempting to collect, monitor and store all forms of human communication</blockquote
I speculated as much….
The Washington Post this morning has a long profile of Gen. Keith Alexander, director the NSA, and it highlights the crux – the heart and soul – of the NSA stories, the reason Edward Snowden sacrificed his liberty to come forward, and the obvious focal point for any responsible or half-way serious journalists covering this story. It helpfully includes that crux right in the headline, in a single phrase:
What does “collect it all” mean? Exactly what it says; the Post explains how Alexander took a “collect it all” surveillance approach originally directed at Iraqis in the middle of a war, and thereafter transferred it so that it is now directed at the US domestic population as well as the global one:
Wow.. I knew it.
“At the time, more than 100 teams of US analysts were scouring Iraq for snippets of electronic data that might lead to the bomb-makers and their hidden factories. But the NSA director, Gen. Keith B. Alexander, wanted more than mere snippets. He wanted everything: Every Iraqi text message, phone call and e-mail that could be vacuumed up by the agency’s powerful computers.
“‘Rather than look for a single needle in the haystack, his approach was, ‘Let’s collect the whole haystack,’ said one former senior US intelligence official who tracked the plan’s implementation. ‘Collect it all, tag it, store it. . . . And whatever it is you want, you go searching for it. . . . .
“It also encapsulated Alexander’s controversial approach to safeguarding Americans from what he sees as a host of imminent threats, from terrorism to devastating cyberattacks.
NSA admits maybe perhaps they collect far data then they had previously admitted
I also predicted the following… And it will continue.
The NSA Admits It Analyzes More People’s Data Than Previously Revealed..
As an aside during testimony on Capitol Hill today, a National Security Agency representative rather casually indicated that the government looks at data from a universe of far, far more people than previously indicated.Advertisements