Friday, September 27, 2013

Spy hard

The NSA story has slipped from these cyber-pages. The diversion is, I hope, forgivable. The near-war on Syria was pretty freakin' important, as is the looming shutdown of the U.S. government -- not to mention the even scarier possibility that the debt ceiling won't be lifted.

But somebody better say something about the folks at Never Say Anything, Fortunately, the Big Picture does as good a job of compiling the data as you are likely to see...
The government is spying on essentially everything we do. It is not just “metadata” … although that is enough to destroy your privacy
That I knew. I've been saying the same thing for years.
The government has adopted a secret interpretation of the Patriot Act which allows it to pretend that “everything” is relevant … so it spies on everyone.  For example, the NSA “oversight” court believes the mere claim that terrorists use the phone system is enough to show that all phone records are relevant
That is something I glancingly mentioned earlier this month. Let's head on over to Techdirt to find out more...
The FISA Court (FISC) today released a heavily redacted version of its July ruling approving the renewal of the bulk metadata collection on all phone calls from US phone providers under Section 215 of the Patriot Act. This is part of the "secret interpretation" as to how the FISC interprets the Patriot Act's "business records" or "tangible things" section to mean that the government can order a telco to turn over pretty much all records -- even as the very author of the law says it was written specifically to not allow this interpretation.
If I may repeat a line from that earlier post: One sure way to get the catseye you're looking for is to grab every marble in the world.

Let's return to the Big Picture:
The information gained through spying is shared with federal, state and local agencies, and they are using that information to prosecute petty crimes such as drugs and taxes. The agencies are instructed to intentionally “launder” the information gained through spying, i.e. to pretend that they got the information in a more legitimate way … and to hide that from defense attorneys and judges
That reminds me. Have you seen those ads for cloud computing services which automatically upload everything on your freakin' hard drive to the internet? If the data goes up, up and away, you know damned well that copies of everything will go into the NSA's big ol' secret box, there to be stored forever and ever.

I'll say again something I've said before. Many people react to these reports of NSA overreach by expressing this sentiment: "Who cares what they have on me? I'm dull. I'm small potatoes." Yes, but if things get politically weird -- or weirder -- in this country, you may decide that you need to live a more interesting life. You may want to be a bigger potato. But by then it will be too late, because Uncle will know your every weakness. Uncle will know precisely how to carve you into tater tots.
The chairs of the 9/11 Commission say that NSA spying has gone way too far

Top constitutional experts say that Obama and Bush are worse than Nixon … and the Stasi East Germans
I think that last remark ought to be "East German Stasi." But you get the idea. Let's quote a bit from that article:
Indeed, the American government has more information on the average American than Stalin had on Russians, Hitler had on German citizens, or any other government has ever had on its people.

The American government is collecting and storing virtually every phone call, purchases, email,  text message, internet searches, social media communications, health information,  employment history, travel and student records, and virtually all other information of every American.
Please keep all of that in mind as you deal with news stories and blog posts which try to convince you that this is all about metadata -- or about some pro-Libertarian post that young Edward Snowden once foolishly tossed onto the internet.

And now (getting back to the Big Picture) let's talk moneymoneymoneymoney:
The NSA spying program is unambiguously being used for industrial espionage, by spying on large foreign corporations, and the biggest financial payments systems such as VISA and Swift (Europe is not amused).  Indeed, in a slide leaked by Edward Snowden, “economic” was one of the main justifications for spying
Isn't this an offense against the Gospel According to St. Ayn? I mean, by what right should taxpayer money be used to spy on behalf of private industry?
Top financial experts say that the NSA and other intelligence agencies are using the information to  profit from this inside information
The Wall Street Journal reported that the NSA spies on Americans’ credit card transactions.  Many other agencies are doing the same. In fact, virtually all U.S. intelligence agencies – including the CIA and NSA – are going to spy on Americans’ finances. The IRS will also be spying on Americans’ shopping records, travel, social interactions, health records and files from other government investigators.
A huge majority of Americans wants the director of intelligence – Clapper – prosecuted for perjury One of the chairs of the 9/11 Commission agrees
Of course, we won't see any such prosecution. A preference expressed in a poll does not always translate into a political movement.

I can't help but compare what's going on now with what occurred during the early 1970s. When Former Director of Central Intelligence Richard Helms lied to Congress, he was tried and convicted. When Jim Angleton was caught illegally opening mail (in a program called HT-LINGUAL), he lost his job. (Actually, there were plenty of other reasons he was "axed" to leave, but that was the immediate reason.) When word of CIA "dirty tricks" reached the newspapers, the Church committee instituted hearings.

What the hell is wrong with this generation? Why are we so passive? And why are all the non-passive folk focused on inanity -- the Tea Party, Ted Cruz, Ron Paul, Atlas Shrugged -- instead of cleaning house?


Anonymous said...

you know the answer to that saint Obama has to stay clean or they will be known to worship a false God

b said...

Yahoo now make it impossible to open an account if you don't tell them a mobile phone number.

Some employers don't hire people who aren't on Facebook.

Universities tell students to store their email on university computers, because it's safer.

Welcome to the world of the Invasion of the Bodysnatchers.

Prediction: in normal western life it will soon become very difficult to do many things unless you store all your digital stuff in the 'cloud'.

Prediction: Google Glass goggles will be ubiquitous within 2 years.

Google give an interview to the Independent:

Inside Google HQ: What does the future hold for the company whose visionary plans include implanting a chip in our brains?

A mass sudden wake-up strikes me as unlikely.

People are so suggestible, it's unreal. I take my dog for a walk around the park and there's several people talking on their mobile phones as they do the same. How are they going to remember what the wind in the trees sounds like? When they get home, will they know whether it was cold, warm, rainy or sunny when they went out? Do they take their phones with them when they have a shit? Marcuse with 'false needs' didn't know the half of it.

Gregoryp said...

Now if you are a wanna be terrorist why would you ever use your phone, computer or anything that can be used to track your whereabouts while conducting "business"? I think that real terrorists just speak to each other in person or through an intermediary.

Real life isn't like an episode of NCIS. All of this data mining,eaves dropping, spying, whatever you want to label them can't possibly have any real efficacy when it comes to stopping a committed, well funded terrorist from realizing their goals.

Honestly, the only thing that can stop these kinds of people is old fashioned, nose on the ground hard work. But instead of having real counter-terrorism agents working diligently to prevent terrorism they want to cut corners.

Just think, with the billions they are wasting spying on innocent people and collecting staggering amounts of useless data they could have take real measures to actually prevent a terrorist attack.

They could have:

Shored up our borders with thousands of border patrol agents and customs officials.

Developed or purchased technology to assist in the inspection of cargo containers.

Hired many hundreds if not thousands of agents to spy in areas of real concern.

And quite honestly they could increase the number of FBI agents devoted to chasing domestic terrorists, etc.

It is all baffling to me. This country never seems to take the right tact to solving its problems.

DanInAlabama said...

"...Honestly, the only thing that can stop these kinds of people is old fashioned, nose on the ground hard work...."

While I agree with the rest of Gregoryp's comment, nothing and no one can stop "these kinds of people" if they really are serious about wreaking havoc on whomever, or whatever, system, country, or persons they wish to wreak havoc on.

The truth is, no amount of security, short of brain wave monitoring of every person on earth, can protect us from people who are determined to maim murder and wound others for whatever twisted reason they desire to farther their goals or excuse their actions. (And I very much include elite state sponsored actors hiding behind "terrorists" in "these kinds of people" {Glaido i.e.}. )

In short, and in sum, to be free of danger we would have to become slaves to a world wide security state.

That is not my idea of freedom, but squeezing us into those pseudo safe arms of the security state are what some of the aforementioned actors are trying to drive us towards.