Work smarter, not harder
Seems like the Chinese now have the same data on US federal employees that the US Government has; only they let the Americans do the hard bit (i.e. collecting all the information in the first place).
Former National Security Agency director Michael Hayden this week told a conference about how little fallout the NSA has suffered after the Snowden leaks, and detailed how his former agency would hack other governments. He said to his audience at the Wall Street Journal's chief financial officer conference: If somebody …
Therein is the problem. Which raises other questions.. in the old days (early 70's) you signed a form, listed family, friends, former employers and the FBI took that and investigated. But back then, the form wasn't 127 pages and it sure as hell wasn't in some computer system.
So.. does the FBI still investigate? Do they note additional and relevant info on the form? Or is that info in a separate database that may or may not have been grabbed?
Reading Hayden's comments, if we had the chance, we would have grabbed everything. Is what the Chinese (or whoever it was) did?
>useless for blackmail since Uncle Sam already knew
How does that argument even work. Say China identifies a US spy from this information.
They can now bring them in for a chat, show a picture of their daughter hopping out the school bus the previous day, then suggest the sort of information they want the said spy to report back to uncle Sam or, you know, sometimes horrible things happen.
it MIGHT be possible to identify a US spy. While the spy wouldn't tick "I'm a spy operating in... a) China, b) Russia, c) Britain d) Germany" box, I don't know how much ehm... "flexibility" they have about falsifying details in the form, such as foreign passports, friends abroad, foreign travel, etc. Sure, CIA or whoever who employs them might decide some details harmless enough to say to their own spies: "yeah, sure, put them travels on the form as it really was, no risk", but we don't know if Chinese can't figure out some sort of behavioural pattern to focus on a much narrower pool of form-fillers. And then cross-reference the list with their own intel, to "enhance" the image to the point that certain innocent individuals, even if they don't stick out like a sore thumb, suddenly become worth taking a good, hard look at.
They have no flexibility because they never fill in the form. Agents names are never written down, their physical descriptions are never stored.
Government uses *ahem* third-party contract companies to pay those people and they have exactly zero links to the official Three Letter Agencies to be exploited.
This applies in the US and the UK.
I did not suggest that they would be exposed through their own form. Your privacy can be impacted by someone else's selfie uploaded to youchattwit. I don't understand why you would therefore suddenly believe that you can't be indirectly identified by a big data approach to this information.
Also, let us assume it is merely a cultural attaché. I would not be so quick to assume a big gap between business interests and government interests. Particularly in a one party state with largely nationalised industry. (Although for balance, the US has its own share of trying to sneak business protection rackets into various FTAs so to criticise that lack of separation is very much pots and kettles.)
I must admit that these statement are refreshingly candid for someone in his profession. I guess I'm getting too used to the nod, nod, wink, wink and "it wasn't me, you can't prove anything" brigade that abused secrecy to mainly hide incompetence.
Sure, you may not agree with all of it (I don't :) ), but this openness (as far as it goes) allows at least debate about the issues, which is about the most important thing missing of late. Heck, it may even introduce accountability .. no, wait. One thing at a time. Let's stay realistic.
Like most of the massive behemoths that the governmental institutions create it is necessary to give them a bloody good shake from time to time in order for them to avoid imploding.....
The Snowden affaire has given them a little shake, quite a big one really, I wonder if it will be enough to waken up all these civil servants from their civil slumber.
These institutions appear to have too much slack and I always wonder who's interests they really serve. I hope this serves then as a reminder that they are a public not a private service..
Hayden has mades a mockery of the oversight by going on the record with "I would not have thought twice, I would not have asked permission".
He's talking about hacking records in China so there's a chance the oversight bods won't give a toss, but the flip side of the coin is that the superpowers have declared that such activities are an act of war. I find it disturbing that the leaders of a world superpower lack the authority to deter heads of intelligence agencies committing acts of war simply because they can.
Fair play to the man for laying his cards on the table though.
When someone is a "former" US official - and has no intention/desire to become one again.
The difference between his statements now and the statements he was making while he was in the job are quite amazing. He's still suspicious of Snowden, but unlike most of the rest connected to the government in high places, he's not tossing around the treason word or suggesting that Snowden cost lives.
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