How do you measure Empire? NSA again

How do you measure an empire? How much is too much?

I ran across this earlier today and was blown away. I knew the numbers actually from other research I have done. I knew in Africa alone there is over 300 US Military installations. I shudder to think of how much money this costs taxpayers. I wonder about the actual benefits.

“Mapping the Blind Spots”

If you look closely enough on Google or Bing Maps, some places are blanked out, hidden from public view. Many of those places disguise secret or sensitive American military facilities.

The United States military has a foothold in every corner of the world, with military bases on every continent. It’s not even clear how many there are out there. The Pentagon says there are around 5,000 in total, and 598 in foreign countries, but those numbers are disputed by the media.

But how do these facilities look from above? To answer that question, you first need to locate the bases. Which, as it turns out, is relatively easy.

That’s what Josh Begley, a data artist, found out when he embarked on a project to map all known U.S. military bases around the world, collect satellite pictures of them using Google Maps and Bing Maps, and display them all online.

The project, which he warns is ongoing, was inspired by Trevor Paglen’s book “Blank Spots on the Map” which goes inside the world of secret military bases that are sometimes censored on maps.

“I wanted to apply this to a digital landscape,” Begley told Mashable. “What are the actual blind spots of Google Maps or Bing Maps? Which installations are secret and which can be viewed on the open Internet?”

Begley has found the coordinates for 650 bases, and published pictures for 644 of them — although a few are blacked out, not displayed, or blurred.

He started working on the project at the beginning of November, simply armed with the Department of Defense 2013 Base Structure Report, an inventory of all the real estate owned by the Pentagon around the world, a few media reports that uncovered secret bases, and a computer script he had used last year to make another mapping project that displayed aerial pictures of U.S. prisons.

Secret US Military bases mapped with Bing and Google Earth

The actual site with the pictures.

Empire

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NSA

I think the argument he makes is fairly spot on. The NSA has been acting with impunity for 10 plus years. You can make an argument that it has been since the 50’s. The author rightfully points out that Congress cares more about Baseball players lying to Congress about Steroids than it does about Clapper and Alexander lying to Congress about NSA activities.

The National Security Agency is breaking trust in democracy by breaking trust in the internet. Every day, the NSA records the lives of millions of Americans and countless foreigners, collecting staggering amounts of information about who they know, where they’ve been, and what they’ve done. Its surveillance programs have been kept secret from the public they allegedly serve and protect. The agency operates the most sophisticated, effective, and secretive surveillance apparatus in history.

Recent disclosures about the intelligence gathering activities of the NSA, and the ensuing federal response, have demonstrated that the agency is a rogue state — unaccountable and out of control. Intelligence community leaders have openly lied to elected officials and the public about the nature and extent of the agency’s data collection efforts. And despite their respective responsibility in carefully overseeing intelligence agencies, President Obama and Congress have shown no credibility as custodians of the NSA. So far, Congress has shown far less tolerance for baseball players allegedly lying about personal steroid use than military leaders lying about surveillance programs that undermine the bill of rights.

CONGRESS HAS SHOWN IT CARES MORE ABOUT BASEBALL PLAYERS LYING ABOUT STEROIDS THAN THE NSA LYING ABOUT SPYING

After more than a decade of legal adventurism, secret presidential orders, and deceptive wordplay, policymakers and intelligence officials have erected a surveillance apparatus that can track the location of hundreds of millions of people, collect the phone records of the entire nation, and tap into the very backbone of the internet. Every day, the NSA collects millions of electronic records belonging to people who are not suspected of any wrongdoing. It may even know what you’re up to in World of Warcraft, because the bad guys are apparently slaying dragons while they plot terror attacks.

NSA article

NSA using Cookies to track you.

The NSA has its fingers over every aspect of life in modern day world. If you use any electronic device for any reason your information is in a database likely that is increasingly becoming all encompassing.

The National Security Agency is secretly piggybacking on the tools that enable Internet advertisers to track consumers, using “cookies” and location data to pinpoint targets for government hacking and to bolster surveillance.

The agency’s internal presentation slides, provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, show that when companies follow consumers on the Internet to better serve them advertising, the technique opens the door for similar tracking by the government. The slides also suggest that the agency is using these tracking techniques to help identify targets for offensive hacking operations.

For years, privacy advocates have raised concerns about the use of commercial tracking tools to identify and target consumers with advertisements. The online ad industry has said its practices are innocuous and benefit consumers by serving them ads that are more likely to be of interest to them.

The revelation that the NSA is piggybacking on these commercial technologies could shift that debate, handing privacy advocates a new argument for reining in commercial surveillance.

According to the documents, the NSA and its British counterpart, GCHQ, are using the small tracking files or “cookies” that advertising networks place on computers to identify people browsing the Internet. The intelligence agencies have found particular use for a part of a Google-specific tracking mechanism known as the “PREF” cookie. These cookies typically don’t contain personal information, such as someone’s name or e-mail address, but they do contain numeric codes that enable Web sites to uniquely identify a person’s browser.

In addition to tracking Web visits, this cookie allows NSA to single out an individual’s communications among the sea of Internet data in order to send out software that can hack that person’s computer. The slides say the cookies are used to “enable remote exploitation,” although the specific attacks used by the NSA against targets are not addressed in these documents.

The NSA’s use of cookies isn’t a technique for sifting through vast amounts of information to find suspicious behavior; rather, it lets NSA home in on someone already under suspicion – akin to when soldiers shine laser pointers on a target to identify it for laser-guided bombs.

Separately, the NSA is also using commercially gathered information to help it locate mobile devices around the world, the documents show. Many smartphone apps running on iPhones and Android devices, and the Apple and Google operating systems themselves, track the location of each device, often without a clear warning to the phone’s owner. This information is more specific than the broader location data the government is collecting from cellular phone networks, as reported by the Post last week.

“On a macro level, ‘we need to track everyone everywhere for advertising’ translates into ‘the government being able to track everyone everywhere,'” says Chris Hoofnagle, a lecturer in residence at UC Berkeley Law. “It’s hard to avoid.”

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Washington Post article

I do not believe almost anything the Govt or NSA tells us concerning their activities. If the Highest ranking officials will lie to Congress in a coordinated effort to deceive then it is fairly obvious they will lie to the Pawns without thinking twice.

Be careful out there. Big Brother is watching.

Just located this. I have run out of time but I will discuss this more after I have had a chance to digest the information. Suffice it to say this is the best breakdown of the revelations since they started in June.

incredible interactive on NSA published by the Guardian

Stunning Interactive. Pattern of Life.

When Edward Snowden met journalists in his cramped room in Hong Kong’s Mira hotel in June, his mission was ambitious. Amid the clutter of laundry, meal trays and his four laptops, he wanted to start a debate about mass surveillance.

He succeeded beyond anything the journalists or Snowden himself ever imagined. His disclosures about the NSA resonated with Americans from day one. But they also exploded round the world.

For some, like Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, it is a vitally important issue, one of the biggest of our time: nothing less than the defence of democracy in the digital age.

But the intelligence agencies dismiss such claims, arguing that their programs are constitutional, and subject to rigorous congressional and judicial oversight. Secrecy, they say, is essential to meet their overriding aim of protecting the public from terrorist attacks.

The debate has raged across time zones: from the US and Latin America to Europe and to Asia. Barack Obama cancelled a trip to Moscow in protest at Russian president Vladimir Putin’s protection of Snowden. Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff cancelled a state visit to Washington in protest at the US spying on her. Bolivian president Evo Morales’s plane was forced down in Vienna amid suspicion that Snowden was being smuggled out of Russia.

In Germany, a “livid” Angela Merkel accused the US of spying on her, igniting a furore that has seen the White House concede that new constraints on the NSA’s activities may be necessary. Meanwhile, in Britain, prime minister David Cameron accused the Guardian of damaging national security by publishing the revelations, warning that if it did not “demonstrate some social responsibility it would be very difficult for government to stand back and not to act”.

US internet companies, their co-operation with the NSA exposed by Snowden’s documents, fear a worldwide consumer backlash, and claim they were forced into co-operation by the law.

Much of the NSA’s defence is that the public should be unconcerned, summed up by the dictum: “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.” But civil liberties groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union warn that surveillance goes well beyond what Congress intended and what the US constitution allows.

Cell phones, laptops, Facebook, Skype, chat-rooms: all allow the NSA to build what it calls ‘a pattern of life’, a detailed profile of a target and anyone associated with them.

And the number of people caught up in this dragnet can be huge.

You don’t need to be talking to a terror suspect to have your communications data analysed by the NSA. The agency is allowed to travel “three hops” from its targets — who could be people who talk to people who talk to people who talk to you. Facebook, where the typical user has 190 friends, shows how three degrees of separation gets you to a network bigger than the population of Colorado. How many people are three “hops” from you?

Guardian Interactive on NSA

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