Thursday, August 08, 2013

Anything you say can and will be used against you

You'd have to be dense as concrete not to understand the unsettling implications of this NYT story...
The N.S.A. is not just intercepting the communications of Americans who are in direct contact with foreigners targeted overseas, a practice that government officials have openly acknowledged. It is also casting a far wider net for people who cite information linked to those foreigners, like a little used e-mail address, according to a senior intelligence official.
Inadvertently, this piece confirms what some of us have been saying for years: The NSA scoops up everything -- and by "everything" I mean everything -- but doesn't consider the email/phone call transcript to be truly "intercepted" until human eyes have seen the words. Human eyes will see those words only after the machines have data-mined the text for key phrases.

As a moment's thought will tell you, that technology can be used against you, against me, against anyone. It's the ultimate form of political control.

Of course, we are assured that right now, the targets are -- allegedly -- terrorists. Just terrorists. Nothing else. At least, so claims the New York Times; we shall soon see that the "target field" is actually rather wider.

We have only the word of our NSA and FBI overseers that they will not use this technology against political opponents.

Ah -- but if the spooks do find damning material against political opponents, how would anyone know? Our controllers have became very adept at the arcane art of using the NSA's eavesdropping against you while disguising the origins of that data.
Details of a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration program that feeds tips to federal agents and then instructs them to alter the investigative trail were published in a manual used by agents of the Internal Revenue Service for two years.
A 350-word entry in the Internal Revenue Manual instructed agents of the U.S. tax agency to omit any reference to tips supplied by the DEA's Special Operations Division, especially from affidavits, court proceedings or investigative files. The entry was published and posted online in 2005 and 2006, and was removed in early 2007. The IRS is among two dozen arms of the government working with the Special Operations Division, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency.
The tactic is called "parallel construction"...
According to documents and interviews, agents use a procedure they call "parallel construction" to recreate the investigative trail, stating in affidavits or in court, for example, that an investigation began with a traffic infraction rather than an SOD tip.

The IRS document offers further detail on the parallel construction program.

"Special Operations Division has the ability to collect, collate, analyze, evaluate, and disseminate information and intelligence derived from worldwide multi-agency sources, including classified projects," the IRS document says. "SOD converts extremely sensitive information into usable leads and tips which are then passed to the field offices for real-time enforcement activity against major international drug trafficking organizations."

The 2005 IRS document focuses on SOD tips that are classified and notes that the Justice Department "closely guards the information provided by SOD with strict oversight." While the IRS document says that SOD information may only be used for drug investigations, DEA officials said the SOD role has recently expanded to organized crime and money laundering.
SOD (discussed in an earlier post) gets its intel from the NSA. So we now know that the tactics described by the NYT are not relegated entirely to the war against terrorists.
According to the document, IRS agents are directed to use the tips to find new, "independent" evidence: "Usable information regarding these leads must be developed from such independent sources as investigative files, subscriber and toll requests, physical surveillance, wire intercepts, and confidential source information. Information obtained from SOD in response to a search or query request cannot be used directly in any investigation (i.e. cannot be used in affidavits, court proceedings or maintained in investigative files)."

The IRS document makes no reference to SOD's sources of information, which include a large DEA telephone and Internet database.
Are you sure that these tactics will never be used against political opponents? Recall the Bush years, when the "no-fly" lists were used to harass left-wing critics of the administration...

The propaganda! It burns! I've cited The Moderate Voice from time to time. Previously, I've never really had much problem with (or interest in) that site. But this shows how thoroughly the anti-Snowden propaganda blitz has penetrated the national consciousness.

The topic is the National Review's recent -- and uncharacteristically reasonable -- call to give Snowden immunity in exchange for testimony. The MV response:
Second, Snowden’s megalomania means that Snowden would be unlikely to accept any such offer. He views himself as a transcendent global figure, allying with a host of authoritarian regimes and anarchist groups against the United States generally. He appears to believe that he is at the heart of a global conspiracy, that the CIA is out to kill him, and that his disclosures caused the CIA to threaten to assassinate the entire families of any congressional representatives who voted against an anti-NSA bill. Why would Snowden’s massively inflated self-image deflate from a grant of immunity?
What nonsense. Megalomania? Is this guy kidding? Did that soft-spoken fellow in those interviews seem very megalomaniacal to you?
Snowden’s media handler Greenwald would also probably object. Snowden’s testimony to Congress would cut off the one thing that Greenwald values most: exclusive ownership of the spotlight. Indeed, evidence is mounting that Greenwald groomed Snowden as a sock puppet for his anti-NSA crusade long before Snowden decamped for Hong Kong and Russia.
Now this is paranoia of the lowest form. Are we really supposed to believe these baseless accusations that evil journalists are plotting to "turn" those who toil within the spook empire? I would expect this sort of idiocy from Ann Coulter or Michelle Malkin, but not from any site labeled "The Moderate Voice."

Needless to say, there's no evidence for any of this nonsense. A hundred years from now, Greenwald will be remembered as one of the few remaining real journalists. And Snowden will be known as one of the few willing to sacrifice a life of ease in order to pursue the dictates of conscience.

Always remember the words of Malcolm X:

“If you're not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.”

"I've had enough of someone else's propaganda. I'm for truth, no matter who tells it. I'm for justice, no matter who it's for or against. I'm a human being first and foremost, and as such I am for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole."
Still support Obama?
What would be the word for "rule by spies"?

"Cryptocracy" or "cryptarchy", maybe?

That's a series of interesting stories from the archives about spies. Like those who read all of Daniel Day-Lewis's dad's post.

Curtis' point is that spies are frequently incompetent. You may remember a story about Reagan's new CIA chief demanding information about the Kremlin's international terror network, only to be told by his subordinates that it was a fantasy they had created to fool gullible right wingers. He refused to believe it.
They use the term "sock puppet" to sound like one of the cool kids and fail miserably because they clearly don't know what it means.
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