Monday, June 01, 2015

The NSA list (redux)

Since we are experiencing a brief respite from some NSA abuses, and since Congress is debating new NSA rules, let's revisit a post from last year which is still very relevant. (Go to the original for all of the links, which I'm too lazy to reproduce here.) If you can add to this list, I am all attention -- although I would be even happier if you tried to get the attention of someone in Congress.

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In his invaluable magazine Lobster, Robin Ramsay is compiling a guide to what we've learned about the NSA's capabilities. (The same list, more or less, can be found elsewhere.) Here's what we have right now:
It [The NSA] can track the numbers of both parties on a phone call, as well location, time and duration.

It can hack Chinese phones and text messages.

It can set up fake internet cafes.

It can spy on foreign leaders’ cell phones.

It can tap underwater fiber-optic cables.

It can track communication within media organizations like Al Jazeera.

It can hack into the UN video conferencing system.

It can track bank transactions.

It can monitor text messages.

It can access your email, chat, and web browsing history.

It can map your social networks.

It can access your smartphone app data.

It is trying to get into secret networks like Tor, diverting users to less secure channels.

It can go undercover within embassies to have closer access to foreign networks.

It can set up listening posts on the roofs of buildings to monitor communications in a city.

It can set up a fake LinkedIn.

It can track the reservations at upscale hotels.

It can intercept the talking points for Ban Ki-moon’s meeting with Obama.

It can crack cellphone encryption codes.

It can hack computers that aren’t connected to the internet using radio waves. (Update: Clarification -- the NSA can access offline computers through radio waves on which it has already installed hidden devices.)

It can intercept phone calls by setting up fake base stations.

It can remotely access a computer by setting up a fake wireless connection.

It can install fake SIM cards to then control a cell phone.

It can fake a USB thumb drive that's actually a monitoring device.

It can crack all types of sophisticated computer encryption. (Update: It is trying to build this capability.)

It can go into online games and monitor communication.

It can intercept communications between aircraft and airports.

(Update) It can physically intercept deliveries, open packages, and make changes to devices.

(Update) It can tap into the links between Google and Yahoo data centers to collect email and other data.
Can we add to this? I think so:

It can use games like Angry Birds to peek at how you use your cell phone.

It can gather the EXIF data from photos uploaded to Facebook, even though Facebook strips away that data.

It can find the location of anyone who is using Google Maps.

It collects information about the people who comment on YouTube videos. (And now you know how Jay and Silent Bob tracked down their critics at the end of this movie.)

It knows who is watching which online videos in real time.

It monitors me -- and every other user of Blogger -- every time we log onto the system.

It can install malware and spy devices on laptops ordered online.

It has infected 50,000 computer networks with malware.

It directs the DEA in ways to cover up the fact that data used against a suspect came from the NSA.

It can lie to Congress and get away with it.

And then there's the big one: The NSA uses fiber optic splitters to capture most of the content of our emails and phone conversations, which may then be datamined for key words. The daily haul is not considered truly "intercepted" if the material is read by a machine.
The NSA is also automatically converting telephone conversations into searchable text. So technically, the politicians who scold domestic surveillance critics by saying: "The NSA isn't listening to everyone's phone calls" are correct -- The NSA is merely transcribing them for future reference. Feel better?
"And then there's the big one: The NSA uses fiber optic splitters to capture most of the content of our emails and phone conversations, which may then be datamined for key words. The daily haul is not considered truly "intercepted" if the material is read by a machine."

The. Big. One.

And the media ignore it, still pushing the NSA B.S. that it's only metadata they're after.

Obama: "We are not listening to your phone calls." Truth: Not in real time. Computers are doing the listening -- picking out the phone calls to be reviewed later by human analysts.
Way, way, WAY back... when CIA propagandist Edward Hunter wrote his McCarthy-era, paranoid-classic book "Brainwashing," (accusing the North Koreans of the very mind-control breakthroughs his covert employers had recently achieved) he hammered home this central thesis:

You achieve total control and submission of your human targets by instilling in them an unshakable sense of HOPELESSNESS and INEVITABILITY.

And isn't this precisely what the (allegedly well-intentioned and sincere) "Snowden Revelations" have done to us, Joseph?

You see, it really doesn't matter if the power elite actually HAS mastered Uncle Sam's storied goal of "Full Spectrum Dominance" of our (formerly private) thoughts and utterances.

What's crucial is that we believe it.

Joseph, just passing these along, but there is a lot of stuff coming out that debunks London-based Eliot Higgins (aka Bellingcat) and his 'analysis' of MH17 issues.

Charles Wood, who claims to be a professional expert in digital images and metadata, takes issue with Higgins's treatment of image data. A Russian blogger NTV makes similar objections. And a Dutch blogger provides credible evidence that Higgins has himself has been faking his key photographs.

Russia Insider blogger Byzantium provides an outstanding survey of all the key evidence issues in relation to the shooting down of MH17, in the process further discrediting Bellingcat.

The BUK missile system’s manufacturer Almaz-Antey had been the subject of European sanctions over the use of its missile on MH17. It appealed to the European Court of Justice:

"On the strength of a technical study of the aircraft damage Almaz-Antey claims MH17 was shot down by a BUK missile of a type not made in Russia since 1999.

Almaz-Antey claims the BUK was launched from near the settlement of Zaroschshenskoe, which is in the area where the Russian satellite imagery show a Ukrainian BUK missile launcher present on the day of the tragedy.

Almaz-Antey rules out on technical grounds any possibility of MH17 having been shot down by a BUK missile launched from Snizhnoe, which is the theory favoured by those who say MH17 was shot down by the militia."

Meanwhile Higgins has been adopted as an expert by the Atlantic Council and is one of the coauthors of a key anti-Putin report by the Council leadership published on May 28. Higgins is described by them as "a Visiting Research Associate in the Department of War Studies at King’s College London". The Council also sponsored him in a trip to Ukraine.

You have to ask why this amateur is given this level of political prominence. Blogger Deep Resource suggests some answers.
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