That's a good one!
Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha........ They are joking.. right?!?
The NSA has published a statement explaining why US spies have been studying, infiltrating, and subverting so many of the digital technologies upon which people depend. The statement, "Why the Intelligence Community Seeks to Understand Online Communication Tools & Technologies", was published by the US Office of the Director …
Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha........ They are joking.. right?!?
Nope. I can't decide what is sadder, though, the idea that they think that people don't see right through this, or the fact that they're even trying this argument.
I can see this work its way into US courts already: "I wasn't stealing cars, Sir, I was merely studying them because our adversaries use them too. You would not believe how many drug dealers, terrorists and child abusers use cars, Sir, so I was only doing my duty for our great nation".
IMHO, such an argument has about the same flying capability as a lead balloon.
....it's just an attempt to "monitor, record and understand every single online communication, on the off-chance that we might find something of interest"
But more importantly, it provides a justification for multi-billion dollar budgets. And that means several armies of staff, and middle and senior managers, and high-ranking consultants and advisers, and a very nice living to be made by all - with no danger of competition, or being sacked for inefficiency, and a huge pension after retiring in early middle age.....
Just so long as everyone buys the story that the war on 'Terrerism' (TM) is going to be a LONG war, and one where we have to keep MANY secrets, and no one is ever to audit us, and you can rest assured that we are only doing this because we have your interests at heart, and it really IS worthwhile you continuing to pay those ever-increasing taxes...
it provides a justification for multi-billion dollar budgets. And that means several armies of staff, and middle and senior managers, and high-ranking consultants and advisers, and a very nice living to be made by all
You hit the nail on the head, which is why I think that the recent Californian effort to impose some laws on this circus will come to naught as well.
There are FAR too many snouts in well-filled troughs for these privacy violating laws to be brought under control, and the direct consequence of that is that you can no longer trust a US company. Not because the company itself is bad, but because the organisation can be legally subverted without any reasonable defence. Just put yourself in the position of a medium size enterprise: are you going to say no and go to jail, shut shop and send so even more Americans into unemployment or comply?
The worst issue is that these laws are well embedded - even if lawmakers stopped accepting campaign contributions it would still take close to a decade to repeal them and clean up this whole sorry mess.
Even we sometimes make mistakes, and there are people who work for us who have misbehaved in the past - 3 of them to be precise; but now it's OK: they've left the service. Now we're completely clean. What we do, we do for your own good. We need to catch the terrorists. That's
all of youMohammed over there, the ugly looking shifty character in the photograph, the one with the funny turban and the massive bomb ready to blow you up in your homes. You're out to get usHe's out to get you and we must remain vigilant. So we need to understand how this Interstuff and all these mobile phoneys work, to get youMohammed right where we want you...ooops, I mean 'him'. And to make sure we understand all this technology, and can neutralise youMohammed over there, we're set up an amazing series of operations with fancy names based on your tax dollars and on these cool things called acronyms. Over here at the NSA, we love acronyms. We love America, tax dollars and acronyms. It means you can trust us.
"strict legal framework that prohibits accessing information related to the innocent online activities of US citizens."
Newspeak translation : So, we collect it but are prohibited from 'accessing' it. Oh, and it only relates to 'innocent' online activities, and how will we know they are innocent unless we put them under the microscope?
Laymans English : We collect everything, access everything, and we are the law, so it can't be illegal. So you all you whinging
commies terrorists can go fuck yourselves. We will have the video of it from your hacked laptop webcam to use against you, so fill your boots. CommieTerrorist bastards.
"we operate within a strict legal framework that prohibits accessing information related to the innocent online activities of US citizens"
But we'll have to have a look at those activities first to decide if they're innocent or not.
Especially if they gave one of our employees their phone number last night at the bar.
I was just telling a friend recently how I'd personally prefer it if they were hacking to get their info. At least then the organizations have the ability to defend themselves, and wouldn't be in a position to be forced to bend over by the courts (at least here in the U.S.).
I think you may have a point there Nate, the intentional degradation and subversion of security mechanisms that Joe Public relies upon endangers Joe Public unnecessarily in my view. Functionally the NSA are behaving like black hats and they should be treated accordingly in my view.
"Many of the recent articles based on leaked classified documents have painted an inaccurate and misleading picture of the Intelligence Community"
No you cock smoker. The actions of the Intelligence Community have painted a very accurate picture. You don't need articles written by 3rd parties when you've got James Clapper and Keith Alexander running around making the whole operation look like a lot of clowns. Dressing up like Captain Picard spying on their ex lovers while missing Bin Laden for a decade and leading the country to financial and societal ruin by providing bad intelligence on 'WMD's'.
If the NSA want us to believe anything they say they're going to have to sack the fools in charge. This entire thing, every bit of it, was completely preventable. They failed information security 101 and we're supposed to trust that they're good at their jobs? Even without schoolboy level operational failures, trusting them now is impossible. Every single thing they have said has been exposed a week later as a lie.
Even the sleaziest politicians who get caught with a car full of hookers and his dick all over the Internet knows to just shut up. These festering sores of traitors can't even handle basic fallout management.
Beam these fuckers up. They've dressed us all as red shirts and we're screwed as long as they're on the planet with us.
...Beam these fuckers up. They've dressed us all as red shirts and we're screwed as long as they're on the planet with us....
The MOST IMPORTANT thing you need to realise about the Intelligence Services of the US and the UK is that you have ABSOLUTELY NO method of influencing them, auditing them or controlling them in ANY WAY.
They are not subject to democratic accountability in the way politicians are. They are not subject to market forces in the way commerce is. The only 'control' (if you can call it that) comes from carefully selected 'friendly' politicians who are allowed to sit on a committee where they are fed explanations of why NSA, GCHQ, SIS and the rest all need bigger budgets.
These committee members are carefully cleared, but are certainly NOT allowed to see all the workings of the intelligence community. They see only what they are told to see. When the press complains about a balls-up they are given a stupid excuse like the one above and told to parrot it. Meanwhile, the services get on with doing whatever they like.
Any organisation which operates with no control and no auditing will eventually end up like that. The intelligence services were constrained by the equivalent of market forces during WW2 - if they made a mistake it was obvious - but they now have no such control at all, and no real reason for existing. They do a job which would be better done by the Police ...
"...the men and women at the National Security Agency and across the Intelligence Community are abiding by the law, respecting the rights of citizens and doing everything they can to help keep our nation safe."
I wonder how he managed to say that with a straight face...?
""...the men and women at the National Security Agency and across the Intelligence Community are abiding by the law, respecting the rights of citizens and doing everything they can to help keep our nation safe.""
The law is THE PATRIOT Act.
The universal get-out-of-jail free card for National Security organizations in the US.
"Osama Bin Laden, the architect of the September 11 2001 World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks"
So this is a proven fact now? Or were you just told so? Thought so. Do you think all the the lies you are being fed these days are a recent invention? All the Terrerism shennanigans should be looked at with a very, very critical eye, especially now that it has become so easy to see how thickly the lies flow from those well fed mouths. I wonder whether Mr. Snowden has a 9/11 folder and whether we'll get to see it.
But you do have to give those guys credit for doing it all with a straight face. Must be hard.
That whole thing was weird. Bin Laden was never listed on the FBI Most Wanted Terrorists list for the events of Sept. 11. He was wanted in connection to the bombing of the embassy in Africa. The media commented on in several times during Bin Laden's decade long evasion of the entire US military and intelligence apparatuses, but nothing definitive ever came out publicly. Everything related to him was classified.
We know now his file was classified because it was empty and embarrassing as hell. He was caught the way most wanted people are caught: Turned in by someone he knew. The combined 'might' of the NSA, CIA, FBI and military intelligence couldn't find the six and a half foot tall Arab on dialysis who was spending tens of millions of US cash in an attempt to jump start goat farming.
It is fairly apparent that the intelligence methods developed and used since 2011 are nothing but a waste of resources. They can't find the bad guys, they can't control their own employees and they have no idea how to handle a crisis. They just need to go. They certainly aren't keeping us safe.
"I wonder whether Mr. Snowden has a 9/11 folder and whether we'll get to see it."
It would make sense, somehow. Some of the USA Government's reactions to the Snowden Crisis look quite like pure unadulterated panic. Too much panic for the kind of data leaked up to this moment. Trying to force Putin to send Snowden back -and failing miserably-, strong arming several European governments to detain the Bolivian president's plane, tons of low quality
bullshit excuses spat by guys whose credibility wasn't exactly stellar before the crisis started- Clapper and Alexander-...
IMHO there are chances that one of the next databombs from Snowden has the potential to cause a revolution or civil war in the States or perhaps to send the top tiers of American politicians to prison.
Mr. Snowden seems to have planned a good strategy for the leaks. He keeps the tension high and the public interested by feeding the data in small chunks. He also has remained away from the focus of public attention, so as to prevent being used as a distraction, as Assange was.
Thanks, Mr. Snowden. Keep on fighting the good fight!
Snowden is out of the media spotlight because the US has already suffered enough embarrassment in global manhunts. They've proven all their money, technology and firepower is useless if you don't have the basics covered. Everybody in DC is just fine with Snowden being forgotten about. It is just painful if they have to talk about it.
To be fair, it's not *everybody*. Courtesy of the "Special Relationship" (which at times seems to resemble nothing more than Stockholm Syndrome) and the intelligence agreements between Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the USA, it's all gravy as far as they're concerned. To be honest, I'm surprised the NSA even bothered tapping Americans. I understand the process used to be that the NSA's uk subsidiary did the job, neatly side-stepping any troublesome hiccups like an American's constitutional rights...
"Many of the recent articles based on leaked classified documents have painted an inaccurate and misleading picture of the Intelligence Community,"
But in the past they've never exactly bust a gut to present an accurate picture themselves, far from it.
Those they number as 'enemies' are as often as not people I would see i the same light, and their list of allies is probably even more dubious. Both Thatcher and Blair bent the domestic security services to their will to fulfil essentially party or ideological objectives, finding 'reds under the bed' on whatever domestic bogeyman they needed irrespective of the truth or the legitimacy of the methods. The same has happened in the US many, many times over the years, and the one thing that stands out every time is that these agencies need to be kept on a very tight and accountable leash or they become more of a danger than an asset.
I don't trust a word they say in their defence because they have no track record at all in being honest either with us or indeed themselves.
The NSA has published a statement explaining why US spies have been studying, infiltrating, and subverting so many of the digital technologies upon which people depend. The statement, "Why the Intelligence Community Seeks to Understand Online Communication Tools & Technologies", was published by the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence on Friday
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What is it that y'all here reading El Reg do for a living? Anything interesting and exciting?
And yes, that is also, whenever not a Private and/or Piratical ProgramMING Initiative, AI ProgramMING a'knock knocking and a'breaking down and through the portcullis and portals into Thames House/Vauxhall Cross operations, and hunting for signs and evidence of intelligent life phorms there for ...... well, Future Fun and Greater IntelAIgent Games Play are Currently Comfortably Commandeered in the AIdDrivers Seats there, and which you might like to consider be here also, El Reg.
Come on now, admit it be common sense and let's be truthful here and not deny it ........ surely you wouldn't want to be playing second fiddle to a bunch of upstart colonists with no history or idea about how things are run with nothing but intelligence sharing.
Well, I agree with you Mr Martian.
It's about time people stopped moaning about how it's all over and we can't do anything. Time to fire up the old grey matter and think our way out. You never know if you never try.
"The reality is that the men and women at the National Security Agency and across the Intelligence Community are abiding by the law, respecting the rights of citizens and doing everything they can to help keep our nation safe."
1. Do they fuck.
2. They certainly don't give a fuck about my non-american privacy and no US laws will protect that.
The NSA is legally not permitted to indiscriminately snoop upon US citizens on US soil communicating with other US citizens also on US soil.
That means all of us here in Europe are fair game.
To be fair, I'm sure our own intelligence organisations are spying on US citizens too. Though probably not as effectively, just because they don't have so much funding.
The NSA has also been using every excuse they can to spy indiscriminately on US citizens anyway by just redefining terms - claiming that 'metadata' doesn't count, or that they are allowed to make as many records as they want so long as no-one actually looks at them without a warrant.
We really don't have the funding either. We might be able to pay for it, but it's like a person living in a caravan and driving a Bugatti to work. The priorities are all wrong.
We have a horrendous health system that is quite ineffective as well as unbelievably expensive. We send kids through college and give them degrees when they can't even do basic math or know which direction the sun rises and sets. We load them with heavy debt and they don't even have a basic high school level education.
The politicians on all sides love to spend on military (which the NSA falls under) because it makes them feel 'tough' but it really makes them look foolish. Just like the poor person who drives an expensive car, it calls into question all their other decisions.
Prioritizing paranoia and shadow 'enemies' before you take care of the basics is far more dangerous than ignoring perceived threats. You end up with a gridlocked system that is too scared to move, ignores its populace and begins to come apart at the seams: Just like we have now. It is pretty fucking stupid.
I'm not sure how much of this passive voice value-judgement-free BS I can take.
This is not targeted intelligence collection against an identified threat.
It is bulk data collection that is treating everyone everywhere as a potential threat.
Which if you knew someone who thought like that would seem to most people to put them in the swivel-eyed-loon category.
They are f**king the populations of whole countries (their own included) in the ass and you don't even have the honesty to admit it.
"respecting the rights of citizens"
In the US, they guarantees the rights of US citizens.
In Europe, they guarantee the rights of human beings.
Not that either side's intelligence pays a blind bit of notice to the laws of course. And the ConDems want to abolish the Human Rights act because it stops the government doing things it wants to do (which is of course the WHOLE BLOODY POINT).
No. You do not need 'informed' police and security services. Not in a free society anyway. They are there to enforce justice, not to prevent things before they become crimes. They should not be allowed to act until a crime has occurred and gathering evidence in advance is action. Preparing a case against someone in advance of a crime is flat fucked up. That's how those stupid sting operations happen where police and agents perpetrate crimes to create criminals. They gather information about someone they think can be turned into a criminal then proceed to spend enormous sums of money to affect criminal activity in that person.
Assuming the presumption of innocence, they have no need for information about the general populace (military intelligence is different). The idea that anything other than putting more police/agents on the ground in trouble spots is effective is 100% horseshit. Cameras and snooping do little to prevent crime and the total costs are far beyond that of increased man power.
If people want to be 'safe' they should lobby for more police on their feet and walking around. Not perched perched behind a monitor or hiding in a vehicle somewhere.
"They are there to enforce justice, not to prevent things before they become crimes."
Except for most people, the commission is too late. What comfort is arriving at a murder scene after the fact. They'd rather the murderer be caught before he kills. See the problem? More and more, the commission is too late, as the perp has probably gotten away or the victim is beyond repair.
Either you believe in the concept of "innocent until proven otherwise" or you accept that it is sometimes ok to remove undesirable people from the general population.
One extreme means you might have to put up with weirdos living next door, the other leads to concentration camps. Since plenty of people already think I am a little weird, I know which option I prefer.
There will always be people that abuse the system, that rape, steal or murder. This can and will never be totally elminated, even in a totalitarian society, and yet, if you look around the world, you will see that the more free the society, the lower the levels of abuse.
They're basically saying, "If we don't, someone will use this and launch an attack that will DESTROY the United States." In other words, they're claiming an existential threat: the worst there is. Against such a threat, no holds are barred.
Thing is, that raises a "hard" question. Is it worth protecting freedom when that same freedom can also destroy you utterly? In other words, instead of "Live Free OR Die" it's actually, "Live Free AND Die"?
What if the human condition won't allow for a happy middle ground between totalitarianism and anarchy, at least on the grand scale, and society will inevitably gravitate towards one or the other whether we like it or not?
The Human condition provides for a happy medium in almost any situation. The Coward condition does not.
There are too many cowards. Fearful of everything and who want a Nanny State so they can carry out their mewling existences at the expense of those with common sense and the ability to assess risk. People unable to make even the simplest of value equations.
Nations would almost be safer if we put the cowards in prison and put the criminals somewhere livable but where no one should really be anyway: Texas? You could save a lot of money too, you wouldn't have to guard them, they would stay in there of their own volition. Government wouldn't have to expend vast resources trying to reduce risk by .000031%.
The last bit is a joke, kind of. This mad drive to eliminate risk is dangerous. Those who live in fear are doing great harm to many Western nations. Far more harm than that done by our enemies. Living in fear is only incentivizing those who would create more fear. It is a real shame that the brave and not cowardly have become a second class group. That's exactly the opposite of how it is supposed to work.
The thing is, if most humans are cowards, then the Coward condition IS essentially the Human condition. Remember, they can outvote us. Intelligent but principled humans are destined to lose because, being principled, we're unwilling to exploit the cowards. Since nice guys finish last, only the most ruthless systems prevail, meaning we gravitate to extremes where extremists prevail.
I couldn't agree with you more! The latest crazy thing from the UK is a ban on folding blind cords in case they strangle a child. Im sorry, but just don't buy one if you have a child, no need to attempt to ban them for everyone else. Its abolsutely crazy, but the only solution to it is to develop a government over time that is somehow immune to pressure groups, rather than the current situations which is every pessure group gets their way, be it "slow the cars down" pressure group...."stop the smokers" pressure group...."ban the drugs" pressure group...."ban the alcohol" pressure group... etc... They all need to be told to shut the fuck up, most of the population do not agree with you and this is a democracy, not a who shouts loudest contest!
...Against such a threat, no holds are barred. Thing is, that raises a "hard" question. Is it worth protecting freedom when that same freedom can also destroy you utterly?...
Actually, it raises an earlier question. "Are they lying in order to keep their well-paid jobs?"
And that's not a hard question to answer at all....
"Actually, it raises an earlier question. "Are they lying in order to keep their well-paid jobs?"
And that's not a hard question to answer at all...."
That just raises the hard question right back: Are selfish toadies the inevitable result of our system because they're willing to do immoral things? If so, like I said, the cutthroat competition will progress and we'll inevitably slide towards autocracy (one winner) or anarchy (no winner).
Just as "We can neither confirm nor deny" entered the common vernacular, I think we can safely say the next such phrase to join it will be, "By this statement, we the owners and operators of this site hereby swear that we not under the active investigation, cooperation, or influence of any government agency."
PS. Wonder how long before they amend perjury laws to make it both legal and mandatory to lie under oath to conceal matters of national security.
"Pressed by the Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee at an oversight hearing, Gen. Keith B. Alexander admitted that the number of terrorist plots foiled by the NSA’s huge database of every phone call made in or to America was only one or perhaps two — far smaller than the 54 originally claimed by the administration."
Just repeal the Patriot Act completely.... and all "laws" that spawned from it. In fact, just repeal every law that was introduced by 'Dubya' Bush. The Three Letter Agencies had been trying to get the kind of powers introduced by the Patriot Act for years, but couldnt, because even the politicians realised it was going too far. After 9/11, with a warmongering Republican administration, a president with the intellectual capacity of a 6 year old, and the nation suitably brainwashed about terrorists they got what they wanted.......
The most annoying thing is, this is still only really justification to the American people, what about the laws of many other countries they are breaking while doing this to Citizens not of their own country. I know they basically don't care about this, but every citizen outside America should show their anger at the US by avoiding everything US produced. Dollars are the only things the US government listens to after all.
of the usual plea made by those caught at it.
"I'm sorry your honour, but I stole the laptop because I needed the money to buy a teddy for my ill niece and get flowers for my Mum's grave"
Whereas, "Yeah, I nicked the stuff to buy crack", would be a more respectful answer, as it is far less contemptuous of everyone's intelligence.
Dear Director Clapper,
You're not trying to "Understand Online Communication Tools & Technologies". If you wanted to do that there are plenty of publications, classes, libraries and patents you could go to to accomplish that task.
No, what you are really trying to do is SUBVERT and COMPROMISE these communications tools and technologies. I understand and appreciate that your agencies need to detect and catch bad guys and watch out for unfriendly governments, and even keep on top of geopolitical events that involve friendly or neutral governments. However, by actively undermining encryption, you are damaging the safety of my credit, savings and investment accounts, and threatening the privacy of my health records and personal communications. You also feel free to retain various levels of data around my electronic communications for various periods of time. I don't appreciate that behavior because it puts my life's work and my loved ones at risk, a feeling that I am sure that you would share if I did the same to you and your loved ones.
You are also undermining trust in government and you've damaged the technology industry in the U.S. and probably many allied countries in the process. That tech industry is one of the leading drivers of the economy, which in turn pays for the agencies under your control.
Finally, you've done some damage to the meaning of words. I think that most reasonable people would think that the NSA had "collected" their telecoms data when that data was taken by the NSA and placed under its control. Also, most people would think they were under "surveillance" when they found that records of who they were talking to, when they talked to them and how long the conversation lasted were being kept by a party other than the telecoms company/ISP involved.
So stay the Hell out of my life and affairs you mealy-mouthed, short-sighted, Orwellian, ass-covering, empire-building bureaucrat. If your agencies suspect me of wrongdoing, get an individual warrant sworn in court and THEN you can monitor my life. Until then, take a long walk on a short pier.
Next time I'll get caught I know exactly what to say:
The articles fail to make clear that my interest in online banking services and other online financial networking tools is based on the undeniable fact that these are the tools my adversaries use to communicate and coordinate money withdraws from my bank account and those of my allies.
I am only interested in information related to valid foreign bank transfers and bank accounts and that I operate within a strict legal framework that prohibits transferring money related to the innocent online bank accounts of EU citizens.
In the modern telecommunications era, my adversaries have the ability to hide their bank accounts and money transfers among those of innocent people around the world. They use the very same online banking sites, money transfers and other security features that protect our daily online banking activities.
My family depends on me to make some money, and pay the rent.
So in other words; if the NSA can hack the planet then surely I should be allowed to hack into their banks website? ;-)
"within the law"
"protect the country"
"our "adversaries" will use it against us"
There is nothing they said that stops another nations - China, Russia, Iran - to hack and "monitor" the world themselves. When the PATRIOT Act was passed, it essentially meant that anything that could be used to protect the State (yes, that vague) can be legally spied on. The fact that those companies that refused to enter PRISM or hand over users' details in the US are prosecuted says it all.
There is a terrible, terrible ‘Romantic Comedy’ that I was made to sit and watch called ‘This Means War’ (Title and associated song best thing about it) which has Captain Kirk and that Tom Hardy (who must have done it for the $$$) as two CIA agents who both fall for Reece With-a-spoon, and in competing against each other for her affection plant bugs all over her and each other’s houses to film what’s going on, including each other having sex, drug each other, and one uses a UV to spy on the other, who promptly shoots it. Obviously they can’t do it all on their own so each have a team of people monitoring her communications.
At one point someone asks how they can do this, Captain Kirk replies “The Patriot Act”.
Terrible film, but after watching it, its closer to a documentary then a comedy
In a perfect world, I really wouldn't mind the NSA to have ALL the data and use it when tasked to catch the bad guys.
But this is not a perfect world and I live in the country of the United Corporations of Amerika where I am now NOT safe from my own government.
Snowden is a hero.
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I have known CSIS and CSEC have been spying on me and every Canadian since the early 90s. Who cares! I could care less, but I do care about my privacy. I don't like Web companies tracking me to sell my statistic, even if I am just one in a million users. I don't want my neighbors knowing every inch of my life. I do not want ISPs tracking me, unless of course their employees are security screened to the max (lol, it would be outsourced to the lowest bidder in some other country). Which brings me to the USA, wtf Snowden? I don't give a rats a## NSA spying on me (well not that I am important and they are...) but a loud mouth!!! I think the USA should be apologizing for hiring cheap people to spy on us!
Dear govs of the world, I like my privacy so please keep it private, don't be cheap and do a decent security check, something a little more than pee in a cup, that's right USA that means you to.
I think that people who say the NSA can't spy on U.S. citizens are missing the point. Their sock puppets at GCHQ etc. can do what they want and will share it with the U.S. There have long been sharing arrangements in place and the U.S. even funds some of GCHQ activities. In effect GCHQ some times acts as a franchise of the NSA and pursues intelligence on their behalf that is technically outside of 'normal' UK intelligence requirements.
How can the US pursue hackers et. al abroad when it turns out that they are tainted and are of a similar ilk.
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