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Sunday, August 11, 2013

Endgame and more...

There are so many noteworthy stories out there, I don't know where to begin. Let's move quickly...

The warrior cop. The writer of this WSJ piece, Radley Balko, has strong Cato ties, so caveat lector. Still, he raises good points. The line between the beat cop and the soldier has been blurred.
The number of raids conducted by SWAT-like police units has grown accordingly. In the 1970s, there were just a few hundred a year; by the early 1980s, there were some 3,000 a year. In 2005 (the last year for which Dr. Kraska collected data), there were approximately 50,000 raids. Some federal agencies also now have their own SWAT teams, including NASA and the Department of the Interior.
Are we more violent than we were then? No. So then -- why the rising numbers?

The militarization of our police may have subterranean links to this Facebook (sorry!) offering by Robert Reich...
Why is the nation more bitterly divided today than it's been in eighty years? Why is there more anger and vituperation than even during Joe McCarthy's anti-communist witch hunts of the 1950s, the struggle for civil rights in the 1960s, the Vietnam war, the Watergate scandal? Political scientists say the gap between the median Republican voter and the median Democrat is wider today on a whole host of issues than it's been since the 1920s. And those on the regressive Republican right might as well be on a different planet.
But I think the deeper reality has economic roots. For more than three decades now, the middle class has been losing ground. The median wage of male workers is now lower than it was in 1980, adjusted for inflation. And all the mechanisms we have used to cope with this descent -- young mothers streaming into paid work in the late 1970s and 1980s, everyone working longer hours in the 1990s, and then borrowing against rising home values until 2007 -- are now exhausted. Wages are still dropping -- the median is now 4 percent below what it was at the start of the so-called recovery. And upward mobility has become a cruel joke.
The right-wing media infrastructure exists to make sure that the proles blame their growing number of problems on anyone except those who deserve the blame -- the Wall Street ueber-capitalists and the militant anti-Keynesians.

Eventually, though, the pressures may build to the point of explosion. Hence the need for cops who are really soldiers.

Barrett Brown on Endgame. As you know, Michael Hastings was looking into Endgame when he met with his accident. Barrett Brown, another Endgame investigator, is in jail right now on bullshit charges. If you haven't seen it yet, you should check out this Democracy Now segment, which includes a recent interview with Peter Ludlow, who is following in Brown's footsteps. The following words came from Brown himself, back in 2012, shortly after his legal troubles began...
The warrants themselves refer to the information that they’re seeking as regarding Anonymous, of course, a few other things of that nature, and also two companies: HBGary and Endgame Systems. Both of these are intelligence contracting companies that Anonymous had a run-in with in February of 2011, during which a number of emails were taken from HBGary, in particular, which themselves revealed a number of conspiracies being perpetuated by those companies in conjunction with Justice Department and several other institutions, including Bank of America, against WikiLeaks and against several journalists.
I would like to emphasize, once again, that HBGary has strong ties to the Breitbart media empire. I never did figure out where Breitbart got the money to start such a large operation...

Here's Ludlow, carrying Brown's research forward:
Yeah, Endgame is a very interesting thing. I mean, Endgame is this kind of very secretive private intelligence company. And you even see in the HBGary hack, you see these messages where someone from Endgame says in an email, "We don’t ever want to see our name in a press release from you guys." And what makes it particularly interesting is, if you read the search warrant that’s issued to Barrett when he’s busted, it says, "Well, we’re looking for stuff related to HBGary and Endgame Systems." You know, like, why Endgame Systems?

And this is a corporation that’s involved in what are called "zero-day exploits." Now, what’s a zero-day exploit? Basically, what that means is that there are certain security flaws in the software that we have and that we use, and sometimes the company doesn’t know about it. Sometimes it’s known about it for seven days, and they’ve had seven days to work on it. A zero-day exploit is one that the software company doesn’t know about. And Endgame Systems packages these things and sells them. So, for example, they have one where you get—it’s a subscription for like $2.5 million a year, and you get these exploits. So it’s things that a hacker would do, but because they’re a business and they’re making money for it, it’s—apparently it’s OK, right? And it seems that the Justice Department is kind of running interference for these guys...
A fellow named Jim March actually tried to pay a visit to the good folks at Endgame. I've embedded the video above. Here's a long-ish piece he wrote about his experiences and his research into this odd company...
This company is a private spin-off from the major intelligence source X-Force that was founded originally by Chris Klaus whose career dates to at least 1994 when he founded Internet Security Systems, a private “white hat” counter-hacker group.

The X-Force was a team of elite cyber-security specialists who operated within ISS in an Atlanta office and made daily reports to the intelligence community and White House about Internet security and malicious software threats. They were allegedly defensive in nature, at least when they started out, and protective of US security. One of their members was Christopher Rouland who was a famous hacker who got caught attacking the Pentagon’s systems by US Airforce cyber-cop Jim Christy who gave him a “break” so long as he would work from then forward as a “white hat” cybersleuth for the US government.4

“White hat” in this context means defensive Internet security - fighting the “black hat” attackers. We write this in part to show that Rouland and his company Endgame have in fact gone back to “black hat” with the approval of the Federal government, doing (and facilitating for others) the sorts of attacks that the Pentagon, the NSA and the like don’t want their fingers found in.
Rouland took over the X-Force and ISS operations from Klaus for a period of time until ISS and X-Force were bought out as a package by IBM.5 Rouland either decided not to continue with IBM or his criminal record excluded him; for whatever reason he switched a few years ago and co-founded a new private corporation called “Endgame” with the generous funding of Chris Darby who is the CEO of In-Q-Tel, an independent strategy investment firm that supports the missions of the Central Intelligence Agency and the broader intelligence community.6 Darby still sits on Endgame's board of directors.7

One key member of the board of directors at Endgame is retired Lt. General Kenneth A. Minihan8 whose claim to fame is that he was the 14th director of the National Security Agency/Central Security Service.
It might be added that Mr. Rouland was the designer of the website and infrastructure which would have potentially allowed him to plant taps.15 Let us be clear: the site is more than a website, it is a communication infrastructure for the Senators and their staffers and taps into that by somebody we know for a fact started out as a criminal should be of serious concern to all. We know that another contractor by the name of Mike Connell did work on the equivalent House side (doing portions for various committees and individual Republican house member websites)16 and Connell died in a plane crash shortly after being called to testify in an Ohio electronic voting case.17 So there's a pattern of sketchy people doing things to the most important computers in the nation.

There's a lot more to talk about, but that should do for now...

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