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back to article NSA spied on 'radicalisers' porn surfing so as to discredit them, reveals Snowden

The NSA spied on the porn-surfing habits of firebrand Muslims as part of a plan to discredit "radicalisers", it has emerged. A top-secret NSA document, leaked by fugitive whistleblower Edward Snowden, identifies six Muslim targets as examples of how personal proclivities determined through electronic surveillance can be used to …

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Anonymous Coward

Well

If someone claiming piety is getting people to self-detonate, this would seem a reasonable enough course of action. Of course, I think we all suspect the NSA would do this to anyone they find inconvenient.

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Re: Well

"I think we all suspect the NSA would do this to anyone they find inconvenient."

Well, if you are a public person and your deeds do not match your words - you have only yourself to blame.

As much as I detest NSA and all the other spooky organisations around the world, but that is one of the sensible things to do if you want to counter any kind of "radicalisation". And I don't mean porn per se but any hypocrisy they can find and reveal.

That would be much wiser spending of public cash than invading far away countries and killing hapless guests at wedding parties with remotely controlled toys.

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Succour to the Real Enemy

@vladimir

Your comment is so incredibly naive, it hurts.

Let's imagine that we conclude that such tactics constitute a legitimate and useful weapon.

The first consequence is that it justifies laws permitting the gathering of the relevant data on all potential targets. Which means mandating the infrastructure necessary to achieve the required monitoring.

The second consequence is that authoritarians everywhere will start using the attack against not just the "evil-doers" (terrorists, paedophiles etc) but against all dissenters and dangerously effective political campaigners.

The third consequence is that the authoritarians will recognise that they cannot predict where and when dangerous dissent will arise and observe that, if they wait till it has emerged, it may be too late to gather the embarrassing porn-crawling (or similar) data, so they will give themselves the permission to gather that data on ALL citizens "just in case".

The fourth consequence will be that any dissent and political campaigning will be restricted to those lily-white weirdos who have never ventured into the world of murky and mucky web based information.

We are, of course, a long way down that road, and the Americans already routinely use covert character assassination techniques against their dissenters and whistleblowers, but even they - currently - dare not use individuals private web history against them. But if they sniff public approval of such totalitarian tactics, they won't hang back from passing yet more constitution-proof legislation.

You sir are guilty of providing succour to the real enemy...

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Re: Succour to the Real Enemy

On the subject of naievity; why would the spooks bother with laws? They certainly haven't so far. Consequences 2 & 3 are happening already on a large scale. Consequence 1 isn't an issue because they are shielded by 'top secret' and 'operational' tags, plus they have an in with the people in power (or an extensive list of their proclivities which has much the same effect.

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@Vladimir Plouzhnikov - Re: Well

> any hypocrisy they can find and reveal.

Given that our elected politicians seem to be able to successfully engage in mind-blowing hypocrisy and yet, often, still survive in office, I doubt any such campaign by the NSA would have much effect on the "true believers"!

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Re: @Vladimir Plouzhnikov - Well

Given that the NSA's bottom trawling of all this massive heap of data is at variance and in opposition to the basic ethos of democracy: transparency, accountability and trusting the people, it follows that the NSA has discovered a fruitful way to discredit themselves, and are pursuing it with vigor.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Succour to the Real Enemy

But why do they need to observe this inappropriate internet activity before discrediting someone? Can't they just make up the lies like they always used to?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Well

"identifies six Muslim targets as examples of how personal proclivities determined through electronic surveillance can be used to undermine a target's credibility "

Wow, what sort of stuff were they watching? The whole Muslim religion is based on the teachings of a certified Paedophile who had sex with a 9 year old (and who basically copied the tenets of early Christianity and spiced it up a bit in the style of L. Ron Hubbard), so it must really be extreme to hit the RADAR with those guys...

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Re: Succour to the Real Enemy

@Harry Stottle: you have missed my point entirely. My post was not concerned with NSA internet surveillance at all. What I wanted to say was:

1) Do not be an anti-gay campaigner if you are gay, do not preach chastity if your favourite pass-time is an orgy, do not campaign for human rights if you are using a slave housemaid to clean your house.

2) The most effective counter-measure against an ideology is a debate that either debunks the ideology itself or reveals the ideologue to be a hypocrite. Therefore, for a state which is worried about effects of an ideology it fears, by far the best solution is to concentrate on that (if they truly want a solution, of course).

You are worried about abuse of power by secretive state organisations under the guise of secrecy and security - so am I. But that is a totally different subject.

Coming back to my 2 points - just imagine that the spooks got a legitimate court sanction to spy on their target, put a bug in his house, followed him to a brothel, dug out a porno mag from his rubbish bin - nothing to do with the internet snooping at all. Will they be justified in *publicly* using their findings against the target? I'd say - yes. Will it be immoral? No, IMHO - not.

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Trollface

'"Assessment report on radicalization indicated that radicalizers appear to be particularly vulnerable in the area of authority when their private and public behaviors are not consistent,” the October 2012 document argues.'

And quite right too. Justification of bombings and beheadings based on the "what we say not what we do" needs to be challenged. As do our local (for me) UK politicians and business "leaders" behaviour.

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Anonymous Coward

Because... ad-hominem attacks are OK when they're directed against people we don't like?

OK, I don't want me or my family to be blown up any more than you do. But if these people are making certain arguments, why is it OK to attack the people and not the arguments? And how do you prevent generalising that permission to apply to every argument, to the point where only a proven and documented saint can have any standing to make public pronouncements on anydamnthing?

Not trolling, I'm genuinely curious as to how this works.

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Anonymous Coward

'"Assessment report on radicalization indicated that radicalizers appear to be particularly vulnerable in the area of authority when their private and public behaviors are not consistent,” the October 2012 document argues.'"

I venture to say all humanity is vulnerable in that regard.

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Ad hominem attacks are OK by me when they consist of revealing that someone is a hypocrite. Because a hypocrite is someone who should be attacked for what he is. The adjective "nauseating" is often applied, because any decent person will be sickened by anyone who preaches one thing in public and engages in its opposite in private, regardless of whether they support his public position or oppose it.

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Sauce for the goose .....

It's quite right that any hypocrisy or double standards of public figures and major 'players' should be exposed in this way. So, can the NSA please release details of the internet habits of all senior western politicians, since I believe we have a right to know. They do work for us you know and I'd have serious doubts if any employee of mine was involved in unsavoury online activities.

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The old adage...

"Dance as if nobody is watching.

Make love Surf porn as if everybody is"

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Re: The old adage...

Make love as if everybody is.

Only if you have some exhibitionist traits.

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Re: The old adage...

>Only if you have some exhibitionist traits.

or if your German. Sorry stereotype with a kernel of truth.

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chickens coming home to roost

"The tactic of using potentially embarrassing information to undermine targets is not new or surprising."

Seems like the NSA and the US government are getting a taste of their own medicine here. Good work, Ed.

As fo Sauce for the Goose, why would they want to reveal the dirt on our guys and gals, that would reduce the leverage they can exert on them, wouldn't it?

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Re: dumbass k Re: chickens coming home to roost

"....Good work, Ed....." Oh, so you want hypocrite jihadis to carry on brainwashing the gullible into good little Muslim suicide-bombers, or maybe you'd prefer that the influencers and their brainwashed followers were stopped by a drone strike? Would you prefer the jihadi followers to give up their jihadi ways when their leaders are exposed as hypocrites or when the followers get arrested and thrown in Gitmo for the rest of their lives? Maybe you'd prefer it if the NSA, CIA, GCHQ, MI6 et al all downed tools? Complete fail.

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Anonymous Coward

prefer that the influencers and their brainwashed followers were stopped by a drone strike?

Sounds good to me.

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@ thomas k. Re: chickens coming home to roost

Would you like to know what I would find amusing? If one of those extremists recruited a suicide bomber that killed or maimed a member of your family! Sadly, the odds are against it. But we can hope!

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Re: dumbass k chickens coming home to roost

@Matt

I think you mistyped some words, so I fixed up your post for you ...

"....Good work, Ed....." Oh, so you want hypocrite jihadis western media outlets to carry on brainwashing the gullible into good little Muslim suicide-bombers minimum wage workers, or maybe you'd prefer that the influencers and their brainwashed followers were stopped by a drone strike? Would you prefer the jihadi western followers to give up their jihadi capitalistic ways when their leaders are exposed as hypocrites or when the followers get arrested and thrown in Gitmo for the rest of their lives? Maybe you'd prefer it if the NSA, CIA, GCHQ, MI6 et al all downed tools? Complete fail.

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Stop

@Mayhem Re:- Chickens et al

There is a bit of a difference here between Western Media, and Jihadi leaders. It is perhaps a moot point that the western media outlets brainwash folks into becoming minimum wage workers. That said taking that premise as true, and assuming because of this you have carried on with your job at say KFC that is at the end of the day your career choice.

Again it might be argued that a person who is brainwashed into Jihadist work program also makes that choice. But what about the other people .. All the people who just wanted to turn up for work in the World Trade Centre, Lee Rigby, Malala Yousafzai, folks going to work on the tube, and so on.

I’m not convinced that this comparison of the Western Media and the Jihadi leaders really holds water. On the one hand you have the sheeple being persuaded that they aren’t worth much, and on the other well yes as I have said the comparison doesn’t really work.

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Re: chickens coming home to roost

Well, I certainly didn't mean to imply that our security services shouldn't try everything to prevent Jihadist attacks, but is this really the best they can come up with, especially considering that the general opinion being that this massive spying machine has had precious little effect in actually preventing any such.

Besides, the oligarchy prefers that we *are* subject to terrorist attacks once in a while as it justifies their efforts to exert ever more control over us, with our panicked approval.

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Re: chickens coming home to roost

@thomas k. - "the oligarchy prefers that we *are* subject to terrorist attacks once in a while"

No they don't. They're idiots, not supervillains.

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Re: @ thomas k. chickens coming home to roost

Are you saying "the ends justify the means" when the government is involved?

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Re: chickens coming home to roost

@thomas k.

"Well, I certainly didn't mean to imply that our security services shouldn't try everything to prevent Jihadist attacks . . ."

For my part, I very much believe that "security services shouldn't try everything to prevent Jihadist attacks".

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Re: @Mayhem Chickens et al

It may be worth mentioning, also, that all but at most one or two in every hundred of the jihadi victims are Muslims engaged in their normal activities, or at worship, or many times attempting to assist other victims, or attending funerals of friends and family killed in earlier attacks.

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So, if you want to surf porn in peace, don't have an opinion that conflicts with the regime.

I'd like to point out I am not the only user of this computer as my pet dice monkey is studying humanity in its many guises.

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Happy

Or reply wife after being caught, ..."Look love, you moan about me not being interesting enough in the bedroom, well despite my poor showing in my exams at school, I am now making a real effort to study! Thus I am catching up on advanced techniques especially in the area of how much of a spanking one arse can take between these three young Asian ladies, before I bring my findings to the public forum, ie you!"

It wasn't that uncomfortable sleeping the in car that night....

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Not at all. I could not give a sh*t about most web behaviour. But use porn and then KILL others for the same offence - yes I think many people have an issue

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Anonymous Coward

when their private and public behaviors are not consistent

""Assessment report indicated that political and religious leaders appear to be particularly vulnerable in the area of authority when their private and public behaviors are not consistent,”"

FTFY. Or not, as the case may be (you never know who's listening. Or maybe you do).

(Hey Mr Major, how's Mrs Currie. Back to basics work out all right in the end for the two of you did it?)

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Black Helicopters

massive blackmail database being compiled...

to be used to control politicians and anybody else who falls under their sights...

This is what's the real big deal about all the internet logging...

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Stop

Re: massive blackmail database being compiled...

Have you got any actual proof that this is happening?

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Re: massive blackmail database being compiled...

Proved to happen under Hoover. Do you have any evidence that anything has changed?

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Re: Dummiethenouse Re: massive blackmail database being compiled...

"Proved to happen under Hoover. Do you have any evidence that anything has changed?" Er, you do know Hoover is dead, right? And that Hoover didn't have the FISC to worry about? Oh, sorry, I assumed you might actually KNOW something about he matter - silly me!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Dummiethenouse massive blackmail database being compiled...

I thought the question was: do you have any evidence that the policy to compile a massive blackmail database has changed since the Hoover administration.

Just because Hoover is long gone doesn't mean there isn't a policy to collect data that could be used for blackmail.

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Stop

Re: massive blackmail database being compiled...

Nothing in either this article or Greenwald's in the Huffington Post even remotely suggests that this is true.

The general drift of the documents released, many of which describe the controls on collection and self-reported errors, provides no support for these expansive claims.

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Re: massive blackmail database being compiled...

The scary thing is that "big data" techniques mean that the database does not actually have to be compiled. They can just do a search for dirt on anyone who is deemed to be a legitimate target, through just about everything that's ever been recorded about everyone. The NSA is filling a data centre mot much smaller than Wembley Stadium with 4Tb disk drives. We're all in there. If you've had an extramarital affair in the last decade, I'm fairly sure they can work out when and with whom, just as soon as they get the order to look for dirt on you. If you have one this next decade, it will be a dead certainty they'll be able find out.

I didn't really get "Rule 34" when it came out. When I first read it I thought it was for laughs. Now, it's starting to feel as chill as the bad stuff in the Laundry, and a lot closer to real life. Skynet is unlikely. ATHENA, on the other hand ....

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I thought the usual method was

you allege that your enemy was caught using pornography, whether they were or not. Easier.

With the tools of the NSA, you can also -put- porn on your enemy's computer, or buy It using a credit card in their name.

And of course you can do this stuff to domestic politicians or social activists as well. Animal welfare investigators, etc.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I thought the usual method was

" you can also -put- porn on your enemy's computer, or buy It using a credit card in their name."

Quite.

Let's not forget Operation Ore, or its US predecessor, Operation Landslide.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2003/01/27/child_porn_list_leaked/

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/04/04/ore_errors_covered_up/

(and many others)

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Re: I thought the usual method was

But here you are just making things up. The Register article and the Greenwald article on which it is based described a program to find actual information.

There is enough reason for concern about the potential for national security agencies to misbehave without adding unsubstantiated fantasies to the list of "offenses".

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Re: I thought the usual method was

Funny. That was one of the things the West regarded as offensive when the Soviets did it to diplomats - set up an attractive KGB girl to take on some bright young Western diplomat, get photos thereof, and blackmail him until the cows come home.

Gee, nothing new under the sun. I'll bet it was one of the traps the Romans and the Parthian/Sassanians used against each other; ditto the Assyrians and the Hittites and the Egyptians ...

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Re: I thought the usual method was

I'll take that bet.

Neither the Romans, nor the Sassanians et al had cameras.

More to the point, Roman males happily screwed around outside marriage without public opprobrium. It was just married ladies who were meant to be good. So any Roman caught in flagrante delicto might just order a commemorative bas-relief or two with no shame at all.

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Revealing sources

But would the US be able to use this information without revealing (or at least implying) how they got hold of it. That is always the problem of intelligence gathering, its hard to make use of without revealling sources.

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Re: Revealing sources

Re Revealing sources

Well, precisely. So why do they need to collect any information in the first place, rather than just claiming that that's what the 'person of interest' has been doing? It doesn't matter whether it's true or not, as they're never going to be called out on it in any effective way.

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Re: Revealing sources

If the allegations are doubted, the NSA are probably also recording the PC's webcam view, and keylogging too, whilst the target is surfing his porn. That would add to the believability of the claims.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Revealing sources

Well, if you review the case in which the FBI tried to eliminate Martin Luther King, you will see that the issue of revealing sources is sort of irrelevant. They anonymously contacted MLK's wife, sent a tape recording of his extra-marital affair as evidence, suggested that suicide would be a way out for him, and signed the letter "a Negro".

So, the "source" was the woman with whom King was supposedly having an affair. The FBI just went ahead and sent a recording of her to King's wife. No compunction about revealing her as a "source". In other words, the attack can be made to undermine the target's closest personal ties — wife, family, etc. — or, in the case of anybody who works for a company, perhaps the employer. Maybe they expose the identity of some third party, but to others close to their target, who will likely want to keep the whole affair secret. Would King's wife go directly to the media, and damage her husband's reputation? Maybe, maybe not.

What if your employer is notified by some shadowy person that you are involved in some putatively nefarious online activity. Are they just going to ignore it? What if the shadowy person then flashes an FBI or NSA badge. Are they still going to ignore it? What if they decide you are a risk and a grey stamp appears in your file with HR? Are you going to be able to face your accusers and question their claims? If push comes to shove, is your employer going to side with you, or with the government of the country that holds their business license, bank accounts, etc.?

Notice also that one of the putative "radicalizers" (name redacted) was fingered because s/he had argued that "the U.S. brought the 9/11 attacks on itself". This is obviously on a slippery slope. What if, for example, you question the effects of U.S. foreign policy in the Mid-East? What if you draw attention to a number of recent reports that drone strikes are serving to radicalize more and more civilians, in effect turning them against the U.S. because it killed members of their families, nephews and nieces, for example? Does that make you a "radicalizer"? How far is that from a statement like "the U.S. brought the 9/11 attacks on itself"? Does that get your name on a watch-list? Etc.

If you reflect on this a little bit, it should be clear where it's all going.

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Halal porn

Don't see any hypocrites here as I'm sure it was halal porn they were watching.

But what the fuck is online promiscuity?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: what the fuck is 'online promiscuity'?

Most of Facebook?

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