XKeyscore. Total information awareness.

I do think this information is the tip of the iceberg. I think we are being systematically lied to and manipulated to achieve the overall objective of total surveillance at any cost.

Lets begin with the Guardian story… Again it seems clear either Greenwald or reporters from Der Spiegal will win the Pulitzer Prize for Journalism this year.

Remind yourself… This is not only on Obama. It was a series of dominoes that started to fall with the attacks of 9-11.

A top secret National Security Agency program allows analysts to search with no prior authorization through vast databases containing emails, online chats and the browsing histories of millions of individuals, according to documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The NSA boasts in training materials that the program, called XKeyscore, is its “widest-reaching” system for developing intelligence from the internet.

The latest revelations will add to the intense public and congressional debate around the extent of NSA surveillance programs. They come as senior intelligence officials testify to the Senate judiciary committee on Wednesday, releasing classified documents in response to the Guardian’s earlier stories on bulk collection of phone records and Fisa surveillance court oversight.

The files shed light on one of Snowden’s most controversial statements, made in his first video interview published by the Guardian on June 10.

“I, sitting at my desk,” said Snowden, could “wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant, to a federal judge or even the president, if I had a personal email”.

US officials vehemently denied this specific claim. Mike Rogers, the Republican chairman of the House intelligence committee, said of Snowden’s assertion: “He’s lying. It’s impossible for him to do what he was saying he could do.”

But training materials for XKeyscore detail how analysts can use it and other systems to mine enormous agency databases by filling in a simple on-screen form giving only a broad justification for the search. The request is not reviewed by a court or any NSA personnel before it is processed.

XKeyscore, the documents boast, is the NSA’s “widest reaching” system developing intelligence from computer networks – what the agency calls Digital Network Intelligence (DNI). One presentation claims the program covers “nearly everything a typical user does on the internet”, including the content of emails, websites visited and searches, as well as their metadata.

Guardian article

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the slides in better detail

FISA court info graphic

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infographic link

The administration, lawmakers and the intelligence community have claimed the National Security Agency (NSA) programs that use data from private companies to track millions of American are legal. One mysterious court has been tasked with determining whether these programs cross the line, but their decisions are secret, and made without public debate.
The surveillance program that first made news involved collecting the metadata on millions of telephone calls with help from telecommunications giant Verizon. The program is complicated and not much is known yet, so we decided to show you what we do know with the help of visuals.
We start with a flow chart about how the NSA-Verizon program works and the players involved, and move on to a graphic that breaks down the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) and the elusive judges assigned to oversee each FISA application. At its peak in 2007, the FISC approved nearly 2,500 applications, but only denied four.
Wondering what they are? Sorry, that’s classified.

The Navy’s snooping machine

No, the U.S. Navy is probably not using a multi-billion dollar submarine to listen in on your phone calls and emails on behalf of the National Security Agency.
But it could.
A long line of secretive Navy spy submarines, most recently a nuclear-powered behemoth named USS Jimmy Carter, have for decades infiltrated remote waters to gather intelligence on rival states’ militaries, insurgents and terrorists on behalf of the NSA and other agencies using a range of sophisticated devices, including special equipment for tapping undersea communications cables
Before NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed the agency’s phone and Internet monitoring programs targeting U.S. and European citizens, the mainstream press paid little attention to the elusive, subsurface warship. But following Snowden’s disclosures last month, several publications including the Huffington Post and the German Der Spiegel speculated that the Jimmy Carter was aiding the NSA’s surveillance of citizens’ communications in the U.S. and Europe.
“It seems this same submarine,” the Huffington Post claimed, “was pressed into service to spy on Europe.”

Submarine Surveillance

Thoughts

I will again say that the technology the NSA is using is far superior to what is available for us as consumers. I have said for a couple of years that the spying was total and complete –be it foreign or domestic. I came to that conclusion because I have studied the NSA since the 80’s and have read hundreds of articles and several books about how they operate. The Shadow Factory by James Bamford is something I encourage everyone to read if you have an interest in this topic.

I always return to the famous Wired article on Bluffdale and Stellar Wind by Bamford. He basically lays out exactly what Snowden has leaked. The details are not as precise but if you read between the lines you can guess what he is hinting at.

Under construction by contractors with top-secret clearances, the blandly named Utah Data Center is being built for the National Security Agency. A project of immense secrecy, it is the final piece in a complex puzzle assembled over the past decade. Its purpose: to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the world’s communications as they zap down from satellites and zip through the underground and undersea cables of international, foreign, and domestic networks. The heavily fortified $2 billion center should be up and running in September 2013. Flowing through its servers and routers and stored in near-bottomless databases will be all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails—parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital “pocket litter.” It is, in some measure, the realization of the “total information awareness” program created during the first term of the Bush administration—an effort that was killed by Congress in 2003 after it caused an outcry over its potential for invading Americans’ privacy.

But “this is more than just a data center,” says one senior intelligence official who until recently was involved with the program. The mammoth Bluffdale center will have another important and far more secret role that until now has gone unrevealed. It is also critical, he says, for breaking codes. And code-breaking is crucial, because much of the data that the center will handle—financial information, stock transactions, business deals, foreign military and diplomatic secrets, legal documents, confidential personal communications—will be heavily encrypted. According to another top official also involved with the program, the NSA made an enormous breakthrough several years ago in its ability to cryptanalyze, or break, unfathomably complex encryption systems employed by not only governments around the world but also many average computer users in the US. The upshot, according to this official: “Everybody’s a target; everybody with communication is a target.”

For the NSA, overflowing with tens of billions of dollars in post-9/11 budget awards, the cryptanalysis breakthrough came at a time of explosive growth, in size as well as in power. Established as an arm of the Department of Defense following Pearl Harbor, with the primary purpose of preventing another surprise assault, the NSA suffered a series of humiliations in the post-Cold War years. Caught offguard by an escalating series of terrorist attacks—the first World Trade Center bombing, the blowing up of US embassies in East Africa, the attack on the USS Cole in Yemen, and finally the devastation of 9/11—some began questioning the agency’s very reason for being. In response, the NSA has quietly been reborn. And while there is little indication that its actual effectiveness has improved—after all, despite numerous pieces of evidence and intelligence-gathering opportunities, it missed the near-disastrous attempted attacks by the underwear bomber on a flight to Detroit in 2009 and by the car bomber in Times Square in 2010—there is no doubt that it has transformed itself into the largest, most covert, and potentially most intrusive intelligence agency ever created.

wireds article

I will be back later with the long promised research into cyber warfare that I have been working on…

I think this video is so moving… Captured on the evening of Sept 11th 2001. American composer Basinski used a looping tape that slowly was disintegrating and it is a powerful statement in my opinion of what occurred on that day. As the light begins to fade and the smoke continues to billow… The US finds itself in a new reality. It is hard to watch this for me without becoming somewhat emotional. I knew that life would never be the same. In some respects innocence was lost that day.

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