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Codename: DROPMIRE
June 30, 2013 6:11 PM   Subscribe

According to The Guardian and Der Spiegel, the NSA has bugged EU government offices in Washington and New York, installed spyware on EU embassy communications equipment, and used the NATO headquarters in Brussels as a base to infiltrate the phone and computer networks of the EU's Justus Lipsius building. In addition, the NSA is targeting German civilian communications, monitoring ca. 500 million phone calls, emails and text messages per day.
European leaders are not amused- these revelations could endanger a trade pact worth hundreds of billions of dollars.
posted by anemone of the state (363 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite

 
I wonder which hedge funds or Wall Street firms were paying NSA employees/contractors for intel.
posted by surplus at 6:21 PM on June 30, 2013 [10 favorites]


Can we REALLY be sure the Council of the European Union isn't an Al Qaeda front group? I mean, we can't know if we don't check.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:24 PM on June 30, 2013 [17 favorites]


Obama's just playing 4D chess, you wait and see.
posted by codswallop at 6:24 PM on June 30, 2013 [16 favorites]


Obama's at best a rook.
posted by meinvt at 6:27 PM on June 30, 2013 [9 favorites]


My one question about ths -and I don't want to be controversial, just curious- is this: it is the NSA's job to spy on other countries. Should we, then, be surprised that it is indeed spying on other countries? Or rather, why should we be surprised? Trying to work through my own thoughts as well.
posted by Going To Maine at 6:28 PM on June 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


There's currently a huge trade imbalance between the EU and the US, in the EU's favor.
posted by Brian B. at 6:29 PM on June 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


The only countries that are explicitly excluded from spying attacks are Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK.

As a Canadian, I worry about what my country is doing to make it on that list.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 6:29 PM on June 30, 2013 [44 favorites]


If your surveillance state isn't doing anything wrong, you don't have to worry about the rest of the world finding out about it.
posted by crayz at 6:31 PM on June 30, 2013 [18 favorites]


it is the NSA's job to spy on other countries

Someone must have added "indiscriminately" to their job description.
posted by hat_eater at 6:32 PM on June 30, 2013 [19 favorites]


Why is anyone surprised about this? I would assume that various European spy agencies are doing, or trying to do, exactly the same thing to the US.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:32 PM on June 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


it is the NSA's job to spy on other countries. Should we, then, be surprised that it is indeed spying on other countries?

1) Civilians?
2) It is at least as much those countries' jobs to be angry about such spying as it is for the NSA's to do it in the first place.
posted by DU at 6:32 PM on June 30, 2013 [7 favorites]


Oh and 3: If it's your job description, it's definitely as moral and ethical as apple pie. Germany especially should know that.
posted by DU at 6:33 PM on June 30, 2013 [10 favorites]


> As a Canadian, I worry about what my country is doing to make it on that list

They've been mutually spying on each others citizens in one way or another for a while (ie, ECHELON system) to get around the "dont spy on our own citizens" thing. Instead they would ask each other to spy on each others citizens.
posted by mrzarquon at 6:35 PM on June 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


These traitorous leaks are aiding and abetting our enemies allies!
posted by anonymisc at 6:35 PM on June 30, 2013 [7 favorites]


Good bye open-ish internet, hello balkanization.
posted by iamabot at 6:36 PM on June 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


German Intelligence Caught Red-Handed In Computer Spying, Analysis

Online-Durchsuchung: BND infiltrierte Tausende Computer im Ausland


BND Scandal: How German Spies Eavesdropped on an Afghan Ministry
posted by Golden Eternity at 6:36 PM on June 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


Yeah, count me among those who are enraged at the revelations of the NSA's spying on American civilians, but entirely nonplussed by this. States - even allies - spy on each other. It's just what they do.
posted by downing street memo at 6:37 PM on June 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


1. Paranoia's a hell of a drug.

2. Nobody trusts a junkie.
posted by djrock3k at 6:38 PM on June 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


States - even allies - spy on each other.

This is not, or is not entirely, a story of states spying on states.
posted by DU at 6:38 PM on June 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


States - even allies - spy on each other. It's just what they do.

posted by downing street memo


eponysterical
posted by threeants at 6:38 PM on June 30, 2013 [12 favorites]


Why is anyone surprised about this?

We were always spying on Eurasia.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:39 PM on June 30, 2013 [11 favorites]


DU: I take your third point quite well, and I think you're quite right about point two. I'd like to think that our nations aspire to be better than this. Regarding point one, though, I think that if you're engaging in espionage or counter-espionage you should expect that civilians would be valuale too. Your Russian spy in Germany might well be a civilian.
posted by Going To Maine at 6:40 PM on June 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Your Russian spy in Germany might well be a civilian.

The NSA has jurisdiction over Russian spies in Germany, recognized by treaty between the US and Germany?
posted by DU at 6:42 PM on June 30, 2013


Honestly, I know nothing about the legality of espionage. There's a reason I like DU's point 2. I just meant to suggest that there are definite examples where the NSA would want to wiretap German civilians and be able to derive benefit from it that furthered its mission.
posted by Going To Maine at 6:45 PM on June 30, 2013


More the point, I'm pretty sure most Americans are going to say you'd need to have some kind of an inkling of a specific person being "a Russian spy in Germany" (even if we cared about that at all) and then spying on them, rather than spying on 50 million people and hoping to turn up "something".
posted by DU at 6:46 PM on June 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


That this is not headlining the front-page of the NYTimes, CNN, etc. is just one more indictment of how corrupt our news media are. And I know there are employees from those companies here on Metafilter, so shame on you guys for not doing your jobs.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:47 PM on June 30, 2013 [24 favorites]


Remember kids, in Metafilterland it's OK when say, China spies on the US, but evil when the US spies in other countries.
posted by happyroach at 6:51 PM on June 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


"The illegal we do immediately. The unconstitutional takes a little longer." H. Kissinger.

As for the 'legal backing':

"an act of the legislature, repugnant to the constitution, is void." - Marbury VS Madison

Next round of Snowden leak'n - Something to do to yank the chain of the citizens of the Kingom of Saudi Arabia so that a trifecta of pissed off allies can be reached.
posted by rough ashlar at 6:52 PM on June 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


it's wrong when china spies on the us and wrong when the us spies on its allies.
posted by empath at 6:53 PM on June 30, 2013 [9 favorites]


From the comments on the Guardian piece:
Do people realize whoever is behind the NSA is capable of blackmailing the president and congress? When you are constantly being spied on and having all your data collected, you can control these politicians with blackmail. They are now trying to do that in Europe.
posted by adamvasco at 6:53 PM on June 30, 2013 [9 favorites]


More the point, I'm pretty sure most Americans are going to say you'd need to have some kind of an inkling of a specific person being "a Russian spy in Germany" (even if we cared about that at all) and then spying on them, rather than spying on 50 million people and hoping to turn up "something".

But I'm not clear that that's what the NSA does. That's simply a hell of a lot of data, and doesn't come across as a practical model of analysis. I would assume (a perhaps dangerous thing to do) that the NSA vacuums up everything so that analysts have the data at their disposal when they want to examine particular individuals. This isn't the same at all as trawling through every foreign citizen to determine what they're up to.
posted by Going To Maine at 6:54 PM on June 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


so shame on you guys for not doing your jobs.

Just a reminder.....

The following remarks were apparently made by John Swinton in 1880, then the preeminent New York journalist, probably one night in during that same year. Swinton was the guest of honour at a banquet given him by the leaders of his craft. Someone who knew neither the press nor Swinton offered a toast to the independent press. Swinton outraged his colleagues by replying:

"There is no such thing, at this date of the world's history, in America, as an independent press. You know it and I know it.

"There is not one of you who dares to write your honest opinions, and if you did, you know beforehand that it would never appear in print. I am paid weekly for keeping my honest opinion out of the paper I am connected with. Others of you are paid similar salaries for similar things, and any of you who would be so foolish as to write honest opinions would be out on the streets looking for another job. If I allowed my honest opinions to appear in one issue of my paper, before twenty-four hours my occupation would be gone.

"The business of the journalists is to destroy the truth, to lie outright, to pervert, to vilify, to fawn at the feet of mammon, and to sell his country and his race for his daily bread. You know it and I know it, and what folly is this toasting an independent press?

"We are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes."

posted by rough ashlar at 6:54 PM on June 30, 2013 [30 favorites]


evil when the US spies in other countries

Again, the US is not spying on "a country". It is spying on civilian, non-governmental employees personal communications, en masse with no probable cause or due process.
posted by DU at 6:56 PM on June 30, 2013 [9 favorites]


They are now trying to do that [blackmail] in Europe.

Now trying?

How about what happened in Operation Gladio? Parts of Europe such did happen if one believes the reporting on Operation Gladio.
posted by rough ashlar at 6:56 PM on June 30, 2013


meinvt: "Obama's at best a rook."

Rook's shoot straight. He's more crooked like a bishop or a knight.
posted by symbioid at 6:57 PM on June 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


...the NSA vacuums up everything so that analysts have the data at their disposal when they want to examine particular individuals...

Again, Germany particularly should understand how OK this is.
posted by DU at 6:58 PM on June 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's really frightening and depressing not only how quickly we jumped into this but how quickly and how numerous is the defense of creating secret dossiers on all world citizens "just in case".
posted by DU at 7:01 PM on June 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


According to the Washington Post and the NYTimes, communist China has bugged congressional and executive office buildings in Washington, installed spyware on US embassy communications equipment, and used an diplomatic visit to President Obama to infiltrate the phone and computer networks of the cabinet room in the White House. In addition, the Chinese are targeting civilian communications in New York City, monitoring ca. 500 million phone calls, emails and text messages per day.

posted by ennui.bz at 7:02 PM on June 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


Remember kids, in Metafilterland it's OK when say, China spies on the US, but evil when the US spies in other countries.

So of course you could link us all all those comments that show the bulk of Metafilter users or any at all have said it is perfectly okay for the Chinese to hack American civilian and government infrastructure.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:02 PM on June 30, 2013 [29 favorites]


It just seems like there is a significant distinction between "having everyone's data" and "spying on everyone". But perhaps not.Your parallels with Germany are not unnoticed, but the Stasi and NSA are not exactly comparable.
posted by Going To Maine at 7:02 PM on June 30, 2013


I don't understand the real-politick "why should we be surprised by this?" response.

The response seems rather naive, in that it assumes the European countries are actually surprised. If you want to go down the real-politick rabbit hole, you have to go the whole way. Of course the US is spying on the EU, and vice versa. They all know that, and this is all Kabuki. But it's diplomacy Kabuki: we all knew the Emperor had no clothes, but once someone points it out that gives you license to laugh him out of the palace and then stab him in the back. The EU countries are just utilizing the additional leverage this "revelation" gives them in order to further their own interests. And this is done by feigning surprise. What's odd are the self-described realists who seem genuinely surprised at this "surprise".

Alternatively, we can just stick with actual morality, and say that surprise or no, this is a terrible thing to do, and we should fight it with whatever powers we have, with whatever allies of convenience we can manage.
posted by chortly at 7:04 PM on June 30, 2013 [30 favorites]


...but not exactly impossible to compare. If abuses out, the comparison will have more teeth.
posted by Going To Maine at 7:04 PM on June 30, 2013


Rook's shoot straight. He's more crooked like a bishop or a knight.
6. rook

verb. meaning to con, cheat or generally f**k over.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:05 PM on June 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


I just love the irony of all this happening while fox news accuses President Obama of burning the constitution or whatever, when that really is a valid interpretation of what is occurring, just not in a way they would ever be comfortable describing because they are/were entirely complicit in the charade of national security theatre and corporate interests running the country.
posted by hobo gitano de queretaro at 7:05 PM on June 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


I keep hearing that there's no practical way to search through all of this acquired data. That's fundamentally wrong - the reason why the tech is available to store all of that stuff is that the software required to analyze it - all of it - has been keeping pace.

Big Data is everywhere in the enterprise right now, and there's a hell of a lot of money and manpower going into it - this is because it helps huge companies focus their marketing and product positioning.

Now the Government is applying the same tech to you - if they want to know everyone who used the term "marriage equality" in a SMS and then cross reference that against their credit rating, they could do it, and in a reasonable timeframe. If they wanted to identify likely corporate decision-makers based on their online footprint and call metadata, and then see if they mentioned an important deal involving an American company, they could.

It would also be stupid of the EU to just shrug their shoulders - their constituents would flip their lid. So now the US has to prove, not claim but stone cold prove, they're not spying like that, or all kinds of long-established relationships go right out the window.

This is a Big Deal. The US was stupid to think they could keep that level of spying on their allies secret for any length of time, and now they're paying the price for that stupidity. Yeah, Snowden is the one who leaked, but not considering that this level of intrusion wouldn't be leaked sooner or later is incompetence and wishful thinking at its worst.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:08 PM on June 30, 2013 [18 favorites]


Chortly, given the number of Americans who don't object to the NSA's actions, you might also interpret the apparently lack of surprise by real-politick folks as approval of the NSA's actions. They trust the US government to be responsible, even if it involves mass data collection and spying on other countries, and also want the US to keep them from being spied on by other nations.
posted by Going To Maine at 7:10 PM on June 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


That this is not headlining the front-page of the NYTimes, CNN, etc. is just one more indictment of how corrupt our news media are. And I know there are employees from those companies here on Metafilter, so shame on you guys for not doing your jobs.

Oh come on. People are all for "good" until their checkbooks are threatened.

Like DU's 3rd point said:
Oh and 3: If it's your job description, it's definitely as moral and ethical as apple pie. Germany especially should know that.
posted by hal_c_on at 7:10 PM on June 30, 2013


It's OK when say, China spies on the US, but evil when the US spies in other countries.

There once was a time when the United States aspired to be better than a communist dictatorship.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 7:11 PM on June 30, 2013 [41 favorites]


Big Data is everywhere in the enterprise right now, and there's a hell of a lot of money and manpower going into it - this is because it helps huge companies focus their marketing and product positioning.

So this NSA/EU data gathering is a marketing effort to help position the US of A brand?

Sure seems to be cementing a position of some type, so its working as intended - right?
posted by rough ashlar at 7:12 PM on June 30, 2013


As a Canadian, I worry about what my country is doing to make it on that list.

Just FYI, all the major Canadian telcos route their internet traffic across American exchanges. The argument is that it's a competitive advantage.
posted by mhoye at 7:12 PM on June 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


A political dissident is standing trial on criminal vandalism charges in San Diego, and faces a sentence of up to 13 years in prison if convicted, for a scribbling a series of anti-bank slogans in chalk on a city sidewalk.

Now that Obama's secret laws and courts keep us safe, it's almost like the people in various positions of authority around the country have been given carte blanche to make up crimes as they go along.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:15 PM on June 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


There once was a time when the United States aspired to be better than a communist dictatorship.

Call me an unreasonable optimist, but I still think that this is true.
posted by Going To Maine at 7:16 PM on June 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's almost like the people in various positions of authority around the country have been given carte blanche to make up crimes as they go along.
"We prosecute vandalism and theft cases regardless of who the perpetrator or victim might be. We don't decide, for example, based upon whether we like or dislike banks," Goldsmith added. "That would be wrong under the law and such a practice by law enforcement would change our society in very damaging ways."

On Thursday, Superior Court Judge Howard Shore issued a gag order in the case, forbidding all parties from discussing the trial further. He previously ruled that Olson would not be permitted to invoke freedom of expression as a defense in the case.
There once was a time when the United States aspired to be better than a communist dictatorship.

But you see, he's charged with "criminal vandalism" rather than hooliganism.
posted by ennui.bz at 7:23 PM on June 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


it's wrong when china spies on the us and wrong when the us spies on its allies.

So should there be no spying whatsoever? The existence of ~20k nuclear warheads on planet Earth combined with the history of the last few thousand years of human conflict would make that a naive position, imo. However, it certainly does concern me that spying could cross the boundary of "national security" into industrial espionage and economic warfare - particularly if the US economy falters and the US government continues to be captured by private industry. Ironically, private capture of public functions, like national security, are exactly what libertarians like Greenwald and Snowden seem to want. I have no idea why they are so comfortable with google, yahoo, telecom companies, etc, having all of this information on everyone, yet paranoid and apocalyptic at democratic government gaining access to it "to keep us safe." Another scary thought for me is how this information might be used for political purposes by people like Cheney and Rove.

International espionage seems to take place in a weird extra-legal territory where its existence is accepted because governments do not trust each other blindly and perhaps actually trust each other more when they have independent evidence. Maybe if a country like the U.S. gains a huge advantage in its surveillance capabilities, this sort of spying on allies would become less acceptable. And maybe that has already happened and the bugging of the EU is over the top. I suspect and hope, though, that the BND and NSA are very aware of what each other are doing and that their activities are aimed at the things we would expect (terrorism, international relations, economic stability, etc.).

I also agree with others who have said our espionage and intelligence operations are likely a huge waste of money (except as economic stimulus for the right-leaning bourgeois) and probably not nearly as effective as we are told.
posted by Golden Eternity at 7:23 PM on June 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


Remember kids, in Metafilterland it's OK when say, China spies on the US, but evil when the US spies in other countries.

Links or GTFO.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 7:23 PM on June 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


A political dissident is standing trial on criminal vandalism charges in San Diego, and faces a sentence of up to 13 years in prison if convicted, for a scribbling a series of anti-bank slogans in chalk on a city sidewalk.

Vandalism is a crime punishable by up to 1 year in prison and this guy faces 13 counts based on committing vandalism 13 times. He probably won't get any time at all.
posted by leopard at 7:24 PM on June 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Gentlemen, it's "Realpolitik," with a capital R and k at the end.
posted by Nomyte at 7:27 PM on June 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


In addition, the NSA is targeting German civilian communications, monitoring ca. 500 million phone calls, emails and text messages per day.

Government vs. government people tend to expect, but this is egregious. Whether it's "surprising" or not I'll leave up to the reader, but it's not a good thing. (Me, I'm not surprised but that doesn't mean I don't HATE IT IMMENSELY, and by the transitive property I hate people who defend it and tell me it's right that it happens. They should go to MENTHOL-FLAVORED HELL.) We in the US have the our government and media constantly telling us to roll over and go back to sleep, but you shouldn't expect the German people to accept it too.
posted by JHarris at 7:30 PM on June 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


He probably won't get any time at all.

Sure, he probably won't. And the next guy probably won't. Until some poor schmo runs into an overzealous prosecutor trying to build a career.
posted by Behemoth at 7:30 PM on June 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's probably more a matter of running into an overzealous judge, since I believe the length of the sentence upon conviction is ultimately up to judicial discretion.
posted by leopard at 7:32 PM on June 30, 2013


The biggest rats in all of this are the UK, who makebelieve they are part of the EU while secretly being at the beck and call of the US. They should decide whether they're Europeans or Airstrip One. Wretched fucking Quislings.
posted by Jehan at 7:34 PM on June 30, 2013 [17 favorites]


I recall reading in the Guardian that the German justice minister issued an official complaint, saying that the level of espionage resembled what the competing blocs did to each other during the Cold War, and that Germany did not regard the NSA's activities as those of an ally.

God what a rotten cad Obama is. What douchebags American politicians and bureaucrats are. It was so satifying to see Ecuador stick it to the US. This is a new feeling I am experiencing, but I guess 12 years of moral bankruptcy will do it to you.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:35 PM on June 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Unreasonable optimist isn't even the tip of the iceberg. Deluded naïf is closer but I think to be most accurate we'd have to reach for opium-dreamer.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:39 PM on June 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


Ouch! Internet burn.
posted by Going To Maine at 7:41 PM on June 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


Gentlemen, it's "Realpolitik," with a capital R and k at the end.

No and yes.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 7:42 PM on June 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


If Information is power, the NSA is the most powerful organization on the planet.

Want to know why no major politicians are up in arms about this? The NSA has the dirt on everyone. Senators, supreme court judges, generals, hell, even Obama himself. They know all of the skeletons in the closet, and anyone who dares threaten the source of their power will surely have unfortunate information leak to the public.
posted by Freen at 7:49 PM on June 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


We are at War With "Terrorism". "Non-state sponsored" means every civilian is a suspect until they can prove themselves otherwise.

that san Diego case? Those chalk drawings could be signals to the terrorist cel which bank to blow up next. duh. They just can't make Terrorist charges sometimes without tipping your hand.

If you believe "Terrorism" is a REAL threat to us (greater than say, auto accidents), this is all a natural logical extension.

Also "fake" voters making voter IDs absolutely necessary, no matter how they have been abused in the past. It all fits together.

It's all bullshit.

But then, I didn't work near the World Trade Center on 9/11/01. I did, however, narrowly escape death when an anti-IRS domestic terrorist's bomb in 1990 failed to go off and destroy my office building.
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:54 PM on June 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


all this outrage....

its just pot/kettle on a global scale and this week it is the US's turn to take it on the chin

give it a couple of weeks. I am sure we have a new nation of derision.

film at 11
posted by lampshade at 7:55 PM on June 30, 2013


The part I like the best is the protest signs when Obama was in Berlin with his cartoon face and "Stasi 2.0". There are a lot of people in the former East Germany who had relatives sent to gulags using this shit.
posted by bukvich at 8:02 PM on June 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


If you think, for a minute that this is about "national security" or even that "governments" are spying on other governments or citizens, you are lying to yourselves.

This is contract work for the financial emperors. Back in the early 70's, it was decided that 1,000,000 bullets were no match for a well-placed dollar, and that everything hinged upon the economic ministers overseeing the battlefield that is the global economy.

The Europeans may be outraged, but the financial elite of Europe have been put in a precarious position that forces them to admit to their Eastern European and Asian investors that, yes, America has wrapped tentacles firmly around their balls.

The reason negotiations for the transatlantic treaty are on hold is because, despite what they may say in the papers, the US still holds the upper hand, and now the EU leaders have a pissed off electorate and, more importantly, financial brethren who want to know how long they're going to let Wall St. count cards.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 8:10 PM on June 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Those chalk drawings could be signals to the terrorist cel which bank to blow up next. duh.

Sparklers and black snakes are tools of terror too
posted by rough ashlar at 8:11 PM on June 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


There are a lot of people in the former East Germany who had relatives sent to gulags using this shit.

Not to nitpick, but most political prisoners of the GDR went to Hohenschönhausen or other domestic installations. The Gulags were in USSR.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 8:15 PM on June 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


I like the idea that wall st firms are using data collected from the NSA to front run the market. Is there any evidence of data driven front running being used by the NSA and financial firms in the past? I know we used political coups and financed rebel groups to further our interests abroad, but this is a new one for me.

Can anyone provide links of precedence or is this a novel idea with, as yet, no proof of application?
posted by ishrinkmajeans at 8:20 PM on June 30, 2013


I like the idea that wall st firms are using data collected from the NSA to front run the market.

How about these uses of the data?



One of my long standing theories is that the NSA intercepts represent the front end of something like Synthetic Environments for Analysis and Simulation system. What are they doing with these simulations?

I would like to know more about MAIN CORE.

I’m pretty confident that realtime geolocation data from mobile phones/license plate readers/cameras/??? are being used as a sort of invisible tripwire. If people on the MAIN CORE list happen to stray too close to certain physical locations (critical infrastructure, corporate headquarters, government installations, etc.), that could trigger… shall we say, a variety of responses. This would be very, very trivial to implement.

Is there an automatic mechanism that adds individuals to MAIN CORE? Book purchases, Google searches, websites visited, movie or television watching habits, the number of firearms at a residence???

What is the nature of the quantum computing systems to which NSA has access? Are these one-trick-ponies, like the D-Wave system, or are they the real deal.

posted by rough ashlar at 8:25 PM on June 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


in 1940, a year before the Second World War, the United States could read the Imperial Japanese diplomatic code, U.S. code name Purple. The United States Navy could read JN 25, the highest level Imperial Japanese Navy code. This knowledge lead to a U.S. Victory.

Since day 1 one country's intelligence services have been trying to read the codes of another. This is exactly what I expect the government to do. I also expect them to try and stop others from spying on us. And they are. Do you think for a single second other countries aren't trying to read our codes and steal our secrets? I fully expect them to be doing so.

It reminds me of when I lived with GOP congressional staffers. One of them was furious that the Chinese had stolen the W48 nuclear warhead. I asked him why he was mad. He said it was wrong. I asked him if the Chinese had a more advanced weapon that we did, if we should steal it. He said yes. So I asked "Should the Chinese be mad if we steal it?"

"It's different" he insisted.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:27 PM on June 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


Rough Ashlar Ok that's interesting but it doesn't address the question I asked.
posted by ishrinkmajeans at 8:28 PM on June 30, 2013


Put another way, if you are an American, do you want the President to know every single fact about a situation before, say, becoming militarily involved in Syria? Or would you prefer he not have every available fact before launching a war?
posted by Ironmouth at 8:29 PM on June 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Put another way, if you are an American, do you want the President to know every single fact about a situation before, say, becoming militarily involved in Syria? Or would you prefer he not have every available fact before launching a war?

What does that have to do with spying on German civilians?
posted by cmonkey at 8:31 PM on June 30, 2013 [30 favorites]


My one question about ths -and I don't want to be controversial, just curious- is this: it is the NSA's job to spy on other countries. Should we, then, be surprised that it is indeed spying on other countries? Or rather, why should we be surprised? Trying to work through my own thoughts as well.
First of all, There is a difference between being surprised by something and finding out that something you thought might possibly be true is true.

Second of all, how would you feel if you found out that, for example, the Brazilian government was monitoring your phone calls? They might be doing it. presumably they have a signals intelligence group. Does that mean you would be OK with it if you found out it was happening?

A lot of the posts on this are from people who are in the US wondering why they should care. Well, there are a lot of people who don't live in the U.S.
As a Canadian, I worry about what my country is doing to make it on that list.
It's a member of the "five eyes" intelligence sharing community.
But I'm not clear that that's what the NSA does. That's simply a hell of a lot of data, and doesn't come across as a practical model of analysis.
So I take it you don't actually know anything about statistical machine learning techniques? (Which have been annoyingly referred to as "Big Data" lately)
What's odd are the self-described realists who seem genuinely surprised at this "surprise".
Exactly. Of course these people need to pretend to be outraged. If they just shrugged their shoulders then their local voters would assume they were cool with it. Now they'll be able to do things like promote local European competitors to US tech companies under the guise of EU security.
Ironically, private capture of public functions, like national security, are exactly what libertarians like Greenwald and Snowden seem to want. I have no idea why they are so comfortable with google, yahoo, telecom companies, etc, having all of this information on everyone
Google, yahoo and telecom companies can't throw you in jail. There may be no reason for companies to analyze your data - why would the phone company want to do network analysis on numbers? There may be laws that prevent them from using it - phone companies can't record your calls and use your conversations to target you with ads, as far as I know.

You also have a choice. You can only work with companies you trust, or you can avoid those companies entirely.

Furthermore, there's no reason to say they're even OK with it in the first place. I'm not happy about it, but it's less of a problem then allowing the government to have it.

____
Put another way, if you are an American, do you want the President to know every single fact about a situation before, say, becoming militarily involved in Syria? Or would you prefer he not have every available fact before launching a war?
OBAMA HAS TO KEEP US SAFE FROM HONGKONG UNIVERSITY STUDENTS AND EU BUREAUCRATS!!!!
posted by delmoi at 8:31 PM on June 30, 2013 [7 favorites]


I'd prefer a foreign policy where where our country launching foreign military interventions was not a foregone conclusion. Not offending friendly countries and essential trading partners by invading their civilian networks, an act that used to be described as "cyberwarfare" rather than "espionage" might be worth considering.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:32 PM on June 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'd take ignorant evil over well informed evil in my dictator of choice any day of the week iron mouth. You'll notice we're still killing children with war robots even though "blue team" got the flag.
posted by ishrinkmajeans at 8:33 PM on June 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


Commander Adama was right!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:34 PM on June 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


What does that have to do with spying on German civilians?

Not that this excuses anything ... But Mohammed Atta was turned onto al-Qaeda while in Hamburg.

Not saying this is all happy-happy, but if you want to know the thinking behind it, there's an example.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:34 PM on June 30, 2013


It's amazing, given how the NSA spies on everyone, that the administration is so crap at predicting major world crises and how they will go. It's almost like they're spying for some entirely different reason than keeping the US safe...

And add me to the people pointing out that spying on the entire populations who use phones and Internet is fundamentally different than spying on a government or even key industries.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 8:35 PM on June 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hey, delmoi. Um, I do know something about machine learning. Surprisingly, I also don't believe that it is a cure for all your data analysis woes.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:36 PM on June 30, 2013


it doesn't address the question I asked.

But at this stage of what "we" know as "truth" you won't have such an answer, only rumours and WAGs.

If you poke around long enough and in the 'correct' places you'll get your yes answer. But is the answer of 'yes, snooped data has been used in the markets' - is that the "truth" or just a "tinfoil hat conspiracy"?

When does Room 641A move from something spoken of as 'tin foil hat nutter talk' to 'what is accepted as truth'?
posted by rough ashlar at 8:37 PM on June 30, 2013


Two news stories from the wayback machine of 1999 regarding NSA collaboration with US businesses.

EU probes Echelon:
former CIA director James Woolsey, in an article in March [2000] for the Wall Street Journal, acknowledged that the US did conduct economic espionage against its European allies, though he did not specify if Echelon was involved.
Echelon: Big brother without a cause?:
A report to the European Parliament [in 1999] October said Echelon played a part in helping the American Boeing company block attempts by the European Airbus consortium to break into the Saudi Arabian market.
The EU parliament report documents other cases, such as the ENERCON wind turbines and GM automobiles.
posted by autopilot at 8:37 PM on June 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Since day 1 one country's intelligence services have been trying to read the codes of another.

This is fine, but I think Americans who believe this sort behaviour is fine and to be expected should also believe that the US is just another country, nothing special, and therefore the world doesn't have to listen to your bullshit about free markets, human rights, the America way is best, all that bullshit. Come to think of it, the NSA disclosures may be a good thing.

We don't have to take seriously the earnest Americans who wonder "should we invade Syria or not" etc.

Maybe there will be another country with a competing ideology (China seems like a good bet) that will come along and become a guiding beacon to the other countries of the world.

Europe has more respect for individual rights, due process and the rule of law, individual liberty etc than the US does at this moment.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:38 PM on June 30, 2013 [10 favorites]


What does that have to do with spying on German civilians?

Nothing.

And the example given ignores the layers of people the 'information' has to go through with each layer selecting for their bias and whatever end goal that layer might want to see.

So even if the 'correct' raw information existed, it can get tossed long before reaching dear leader.

Example of this filter in the past:
10 August 1941, the top British agent, code named "Tricycle", Dusko Popov, told the FBI of the planned attack on Pearl Harbor and that it would be soon. The FBI told him that his information was "too precise, too complete to be believed. The questionnaire plus the other information you brought spell out in detail exactly where, when, how, and by whom we are to be attacked. If anything, it sounds like a trap."

For that straw man to have value - the poster would have to show how the data avoids the historic example of filtering.
posted by rough ashlar at 8:40 PM on June 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've gotta say, I'm surprised that people are surprised
posted by Mario Speedwagon at 8:42 PM on June 30, 2013


Surprisingly, I also don't believe that it is a cure for all your data analysis woes.
Will it help catch terrorists? Probably only the stupidest ones. But are there a lot of things you could do with this data that could be used by political or economic elites to increase their political or economic... eliteness.

I mean for example, having a recording of everyone's phone-calls would obviously give a politician an edge in doing selective voter targeting, for example.
posted by delmoi at 8:42 PM on June 30, 2013


I've gotta say, I'm surprised that people are surprised

Who, specifically, is surprised?
posted by delmoi at 8:43 PM on June 30, 2013


Rough ashlar - I do know that the US did oust a democratically elected president of Bolivia by funding rebel groups through the CIA for example. Or what we did in Iran in deposing the Shah. Or how we helped jail Nelson Mandela (BO going to pay homage was fucking hilarious in this regard). But I don't know of any proven evidence of any previous situations where the intelligence wonks have sold data to wall street as data as such. This makes me suspicious of it. Now if you told me that the US was going into Egypt and deposing Morsi to secure oil rights I'd be much more likely to believe you.

So find me evidence of the spy boys front running in the past 50 years or I have to think its unlikely.
posted by ishrinkmajeans at 8:43 PM on June 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


If we are going to use the NSA for corporate espionage, and hell if I have the patience to wade too deep into figuring out what is tinfoil and what is legit on that, we really need to have a conversation about what American capitalism is going to be in this century.

Realpolitik from the taxpayer perspective, if our taxes are going to pay to support the goals of these corporations via government wars and espionage, the corporations have to stop acting like they are truly transnational and pay the taxes and the wages back to us and be American citizens first. This may be the only way to go and still be a super rich country going forward, so fine, but they better share the wealth with us or we won't care if they can dominate the world or not. It might be better if America as a whole is weaker but the corporations are more reliant on American citizens so they share more.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:45 PM on June 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


Interesting autopilot let me read those
posted by ishrinkmajeans at 8:46 PM on June 30, 2013


So find me evidence of the spy boys front running

But what are you going to consider "valid evidence"?

Smedly Butler talks about the use of US Government force to place firms at market advantages.
posted by rough ashlar at 8:49 PM on June 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Gentlemen, it's "Realpolitik," with a capital R and k at the end.

Oops. Interestingly, I think I tend to misspell things in inverse proportion to how high my opinion of them is.

(It would also be nice if the duration of the edit window was in inverse proportion to the Levenshtein distance between your original and edited texts.)
posted by chortly at 8:52 PM on June 30, 2013


You might find it easier just to spell it: "Machiavellianism"

Actually, that is kind of hard to spell too.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:56 PM on June 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


U.S. blacklists global network of Iran-linked companies
posted by nightwood at 8:58 PM on June 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


So should there be no spying whatsoever? The existence of ~20k nuclear warheads on planet Earth combined with the history of the last few thousand years of human conflict would make that a naive position, imo.

Ugh, I know, everything has been so effed since the earth's soil began spontaneously generating nuclear warheads, good thing we have the US government to keep an eye on them
posted by threeants at 9:13 PM on June 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm starting to realize we're too far down the rabbit hole for there to be any such thing as a satisfactory answer to these revelations. There is a serious credibility deficit when it comes to the members of Congress who are performing so-called oversight of these programs, assuming they even know their full extent in the first place. The casual deployment of security and self-defense as a justification for secrecy has eroded my trust in the government. Are we breaking the law by discussing these secret programs? Who knows? It might be illegal in a secret law!

It's nice to see that the government has so little regard for the German police services that it's taking over the responsibility of monitoring their citizens in case anyone should plan -- or be induced by an undercover American agent -- an attack against American interests. I think their lack of participation speaks reflects well on their priorities.
posted by feloniousmonk at 9:19 PM on June 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Put another way, if you are an American, do you want the President to know every single fact about a situation before, say, becoming militarily involved in Syria? Or would you prefer he not have every available fact before launching a war?

Well, the FBI/CIA had pretty firm knowledge that 9/11 was being planned or underway. That didn't really help much. What's the point of collecting vast quantities of data (about your allies) when it's of no practical use?
posted by sneebler at 9:26 PM on June 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


There is a serious credibility deficit when it comes to the members of Congress who are performing so-called oversight of these programs, assuming they even know their full extent in the first place.

They likely do not know the extent outside of a few people on select committees who are not allowed to talk about the extent. Two United States Senators were practically jumping out of their skins about the meat of the Snowden revelations on spying in the US before he stepped forward.

That the grave concerns of Senators were not enough to prompt a transparent national conversation on these issues is evidence enough that whistleblowing was the only option to prompt the discussion, and that is even if you feel the discussion will vindicate the program. It is clearly concerning enough that we have to talk about it.

As for the court oversight:

Yahoo appealed at the secret court of review, and that court also ruled against Yahoo, writing in its decision that “efforts to protect national security should not be frustrated by the courts.”

posted by Drinky Die at 9:36 PM on June 30, 2013 [7 favorites]


Or what we did in Iran in deposing the Shah.

Wha-buh?
posted by Nomyte at 9:39 PM on June 30, 2013 [10 favorites]


So find me evidence of the spy boys front running in the past 50 years or I have to think its unlikely.

60 Minutes did a piece on how it's widely regarded that Boeing was able to take a Saudi contract from Airbus after Echelon (NSA) was used to obtain the details of Airbus's negotiations and offers, and those details were passed to Boeing execs.
posted by anonymisc at 10:06 PM on June 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


No one in the peace movement is surprised... The campaign against US bases has long been concerned with NSA spying on civilians and I rembrr the greenham common women moving their camp to Menwith Hill in order to protest missile defence and surveillance in the late 90s or early 2000s
Yorkshire CND released a report on Menwith Hill in 2012 that has a section on its NSA activities and outlines their objections as well as a history and description of what the base does in plain language (linked here) PDF of report linked on site)

An interesting read in conjunction with the Snowden affair.
posted by chapps at 10:10 PM on June 30, 2013


(Apologies for the hyperbole... The peaceniks who read their newsletters aren't surprised .... And others vaguely recollect those who read the newsletters telling us about it urgent tones)

All this to say count me not surprised but also not in agreement and not complacent either.
posted by chapps at 10:13 PM on June 30, 2013


Drinky Die - the whole thing is worth a read. The last part of which is:

Our government is tasked with protecting an interest of
utmost significance to the nation - the safety and security of its
people. But the Constitution is the cornerstone of our freedoms,
and government cannot unilaterally sacrifice constitutional rights
on the altar of national security. Thus, in carrying out its
national security mission, the government must simultaneously
fulfill its constitutional responsibility to provide reasonable
protections for the privacy of United States persons. The
judiciary's duty is to hold that delicate balance steady and true.

We believe that our decision to uphold the PAA as applied
in this case comports with that solemn obligation. In that regard,
we caution that our decision does not constitute an endorsement of
broad-based, indiscriminate executive power. Rather, our decision
recognizes that where the government has instituted several layers
of serviceable safeguards to protect individuals against
unwarranted harms and to minimize incidental intrusions, its
efforts to protect national security should not be frustrated by
the courts. This is such a case.

posted by nightwood at 10:28 PM on June 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Growing Alarm: German Prosecutors To Review Allegations of US Spying
posted by homunculus at 10:31 PM on June 30, 2013


Ironmouth wrote: in 1940, a year before the Second World War, the United States could read the Imperial Japanese diplomatic code, U.S. code name Purple. The United States Navy could read JN 25, the highest level Imperial Japanese Navy code. This knowledge lead to a U.S. Victory.

Um, seriously? You're citing US surveillance of Japan in WW2 as an example of successful intelligence? It's actually the best counter-example: the USA had masses of intelligence but wholly failed to predict (a) that Japan would declare war on the USA; (b) that Japan was preparing for an imminent attack on the USA; or (c) that Japan planned to attack Hawaii rather than, e.g., The Philippines.

Yes, cryptanalysis was allegedly an important and useful technique during the war, but the war was actually won by massive militarisation of the USA economy, a lengthy process of driving the Japanese forces out of the Pacific, and the invention and development of an entirely new sort of weapon costing more than $2 billion in 1945 dollars. In retrospect we can see the problems of relying on espionage: you don't always have the information when you need it; you usually don't have the whole picture; you don't know whether you have the whole picture; you are constantly worried about revealing your sources; and you must always worry about being gamed by the other side. So yes, there are excellent lessons that can be learned from USAn cryptanalysis during WW2. They're just not the ones you would want.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:42 PM on June 30, 2013 [14 favorites]


Drinky Die - the whole thing is worth a read. The last part of which is:

Huh, they didn't specifically say that they made the wrong call.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:47 PM on June 30, 2013


Sparklers and black snakes are tools of terror too

Fucking finally! I've had to buy my sparklers off the black market for many years.

"While this excludes New York City..."

Fucking Bloomberg.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:55 PM on June 30, 2013


You're citing US surveillance of Japan in WW2 as an example of successful intelligence? It's actually the best counter-example:

The only reason the fleet was in Hawaii at all was because of code intercepts. Code intercepts of the Pearl Harbor attack were broken on Dec. 7, even before the Japanese Embassy decrypted them; it wasn't the intelligence community's fault no one acted. Code intercepts set up the victories at Coral Sea and Midway. Code intercepts led to the killing of Yamamoto. Code intercepts cleared the way for the entire island-hopping campaign.

Dude, don't cherry pick your facts, focusing on one failure amidst a string of successes. Not cool.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:59 PM on June 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


Remember kids, in Metafilterland it's OK when say, China spies on the US, but evil when the US spies in other countries.
--------------------------

I searched the "China" tag for all of three pages before finding a post on Chinese hacking with such sentiment in the comments: "It's an act of war."

I remember earlier MeFi posts on Chinese hacking where IT security experts weighed in on the serious threat posed by the Chinese hacking army. Before that, there was a post about China's (and other ~evil~ countries') objections to American control over web protocols, and the IT experts were all lol it's ours it should remain ours they can build their own if they wan- oh wait they already tried and flopped.

... all fair enough. I don't actually expect better from Americans/Westerners who feel entitled to better standards of living and dominant power over world affairs. But please try not to act affronted by MeFi's supposed bias for China or whatever. This place is more dominated by Americans/Westerners than the world is. It's ugly when the top dogs act victimized.

America lied to the world in order to invade a foreign country just ten years ago. America set up the first known cyber warfare agency before other countries including China followed suit. For crying out loud.
posted by fatehunter at 11:09 PM on June 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


My one question about ths -and I don't want to be controversial, just curious- is this: it is the NSA's job to spy on other countries. Should we, then, be surprised that it is indeed spying on other countries?
If I was an American I'd certainly be concerned by the extent with which they've been caught. I mean this isn't dna evidence off a hair this is sitting in the back of a cruiser with a lone ranger mask and a bag marked S W A G
posted by fullerine at 11:10 PM on June 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


So find me evidence of the spy boys front running in the past 50 years or I have to think its unlikely.

60 Minutes did a piece on how it's widely regarded that Boeing was able to take a Saudi contract from Airbus after Echelon (NSA) was used to obtain the details of Airbus's negotiations and offers, and those details were passed to Boeing execs.


Anyone working in industries of interest to American interests sees signs of this if they've been in business long enough.
posted by infini at 11:12 PM on June 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Um, seriously? You're citing US surveillance of Japan in WW2 as an example of successful intelligence? It's actually the best counter-example: the USA had masses of intelligence but wholly failed to predict (a) that Japan would declare war on the USA; (b) that Japan was preparing for an imminent attack on the USA; or (c) that Japan planned to attack Hawaii rather than, e.g., The Philippines.

So even if the 'correct' raw information existed, it can get tossed long before reaching dear leader.

Example of this filter in the past:
10 August 1941, the top British agent, code named "Tricycle", Dusko Popov, told the FBI of the planned attack on Pearl Harbor and that it would be soon. The FBI told him that his information was "too precise, too complete to be believed. The questionnaire plus the other information you brought spell out in detail exactly where, when, how, and by whom we are to be attacked. If anything, it sounds like a trap."


I've seen some version of this argument now several times, and it just irks me. What exactly is the point? So because in one instance good information was not used properly, that means that all information is useless? And we shouldn't want decision makers to have the best information possible? This must be a logical fallacy of one sort or another. Certainly, there are a few counter examples of espionage being used to great effect - WWII naval codes as one example, the USSR stealing US nuclear technology as another, enigma, etc.

I would agree, though, that intelligence and espionage seems to be greatly overvalued in general. And if we are spying on Europe to gain economic advantages over them, I think that is just terrible, even if it is a two way street. We are supposed to be allies, and the U.S. is supposed to be the champion of the free market. Actually, I'm having a hard time with the idea that the EU and US should be spying on each other all that much at all these days. Probably there is more reason for the EU to spy on the US to find out if they are going to get dragged into another war.

Google, yahoo and telecom companies can't throw you in jail. There may be no reason for companies to analyze your data - why would the phone company want to do network analysis on numbers? There may be laws that prevent them from using it - phone companies can't record your calls and use your conversations to target you with ads, as far as I know.

You also have a choice. You can only work with companies you trust, or you can avoid those companies entirely.


Again, if we're going to be paranoid and apocalyptic it is not hard to imagine how these things could become true. Perhaps someday yahoo and google could have you put in jail for infringing on their property rights in some way, with more regulatory capture telecoms could write new laws and record and sell private information legally. With enough monopolization and privatization of telecommunications infrastructure and the financial industry, many people might not have much choice in what companies they deal with. The U.S. government is to some extent a constitutional democracy with a charter to protect its people, private companies are totalitarian organizations with a charter to make money, often through exploitation.

I do agree, though, that it is really shitty that non-U.S. citizens are not protected by FISA and other laws guiding surveillance and intelligence. I don't see why it would be a problem to extend a reasonable level of protection and presumption of innocence to non-citizens.
posted by Golden Eternity at 11:21 PM on June 30, 2013


So find me evidence of the spy boys front running in the past 50 years or I have to think its unlikely.
I find this kind of thing hilarious. Show me some evidence from before Snowden's leak documents were released that PRISM existed.

Do you think the fact that no evidence existed for it until a few weeks ago meant it didn't exist?

Think about it dude. The Guardian is making off this stuff now, because Snowden gave it to them. But he could have been selling data to wall-street for years prior. If you know you're going to blow your whole career why not make some real scratch first? It would be easy to sense out a pending sale or merger announcement if you had access to something that let you wiretap any phone in the US. Do that a couple times with the right leverage and you could millions of dollars a month without being too noticeable.

It needn't be done at the highest levels. Some general or corporal in the "cyber command" can feed data to his buddy at Goldman Sachs, or wherever.
Again, if we're going to be paranoid and apocalyptic it is not hard to imagine how these things could become true. Perhaps someday yahoo and google could have you put in jail for infringing on their property rights in some way...
aaaaaaaaaaand I stopped reading.

And note: I didn't say it was OK, it just happens to be the way things are. I would be happy with government regulation to limit the kind of data these companies can collect, the mandatory crypto they don't have the keys for and how they can access and use that data. In fact, this story may cause people to re-evaluate how much information to give to these companies and how much cryptography to use, and so on.
posted by delmoi at 11:30 PM on June 30, 2013


In your personal life do you:

1. Install spyware on the computers of every enemy, rival, friend, and loved one you visit...if you can get away with it.

2. Find that your use of spyware should be judiciously limited to your enemies and rivals who are a serious threat to you.

3. Only use it in cases where you have legitimate access to the target, such as a computer shared by a couple during a divorce.

4. You have lived your entire life without spying on potential threats this way.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:33 PM on June 30, 2013 [11 favorites]


The USA's failure to predict the Japanese attacks is so comprehensive that it overshadows any later successes. It's at least as massive as the failure to predict the fall of the USSR, or the belief that Saddam had WMDs.

Cool Papa Bell wrote: Code intercepts of the Pearl Harbor attack were broken on Dec. 7, even before the Japanese Embassy decrypted them; it wasn't the intelligence community's fault no one acted.

Yes! This is my point! The information was useless. Saying "Oh, but it would have been useful if it had been used" is begging the question: the nature of espionage is that it has all the problems of other information sources plus all the problems caused by it being surreptitious, and therefore incomplete and hard to check. So it's more likely to be incorrect, or incomplete, or wrongly discounted by someone who believes to be incorrect and incomplete. Coming back to Pearl Harbor, espionage made the USA think that it was more knowledgeable than it was: how was it to know that the attack was planned through Naval channels and wasn't going to be reflected in the cables used by the Japanese Foreign office? The USA's intelligence in this case was actually harmful.

Now scale this information problem up by a billion-fold, because that's what happens when you spy on everyone. You now have thousands or hundreds of thousands of false positives disguising the real signal, because it turns out that the actual plotters are a couple of Caucasians dicking around with dismantled fireworks and not some disaffected Saudi posing posing with a rocket launcher in Yemen.
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:34 PM on June 30, 2013 [8 favorites]


Also note that what intelligence we had on Pearl Harbor was obtained by spying on Japan, a country we were already hostile towards, not by listening into all the phone conversations and opening all the mail of every ordinary citizen in, say, the UK.
posted by dirigibleman at 11:48 PM on June 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


If the intelligence can find a way to avoid war with Japan, I might sign on.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:55 PM on June 30, 2013


The only countries that are explicitly excluded from spying attacks are Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK.

As a Canadian, I worry about what my country is doing to make it on that list.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 6:29 PM on June 30 [25 favorites +] [!]


Five Eyes .... It's what's become of the historical brotherhood of English-speaking peoples
posted by Bwithh at 12:05 AM on July 1, 2013


Yes! This is my point!

No, your point was denigrating someone else by hammering them with cherry-picked facts. Which you're still trying to do.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:06 AM on July 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


in 1940, a year before the Second World War,

You forgot Poland.

Using intelligence services to determine the dispositions and intentions of enemy forces is not exactly the same as hoovering up the day-to-day communications of your allies' citizenry is it?

An aside to the Pearl Harbor discussion: Stalin had extremely specific intelligence from within the German high command concerning Barbarossa. Fat lot of good it did him.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 12:30 AM on July 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


What's the point of collecting vast quantities of data (about your allies) when it's of no practical use?

After an event has taken place and the perpetrators identified you can sift through their prior communications to identify networks, financial support etc. It's why after the two latest terrorist incidents in the USA and the UK the authorities have rolled up several supporters within a matter of days.

Yes, cryptanalysis was allegedly an important and useful technique during the war, but the war was actually won by massive militarisation of the USA economy, a lengthy process of driving the Japanese forces out of the Pacific, and the invention and development of an entirely new sort of weapon costing more than $2 billion in 1945 dollars.

Post War analysis of the effect of Ultra decryption is pretty much in agreement from most sources, suggesting that the effects of breaking Axis encryption shortened the length of the war by 2-3 years. If the US Navy had not cracked the JN-25b code and known of the location and complete order of battle of the Japanese fleet, Midway would not have been the rout that it was for example.

In retrospect we can see the problems of relying on espionage: you don't always have the information when you need it; you usually don't have the whole picture; you don't know whether you have the whole picture; you are constantly worried about revealing your sources; and you must always worry about being gamed by the other side.

This is true of any intelligence gathering during war, whether it be espionage, SIGINT or reconnaissance. Sun Tzu was right about a lot of things and this is one of them. You can't not do it because you think the pay off isn't 100%. You analyse the collected intelligence and make decisions based on effectively a best guess. It's better than walking in blind as that gets folks killed.

The Guardian is making off this stuff now, because Snowden gave it to them. But he could have been selling data to wall-street for years prior. If you know you're going to blow your whole career why not make some real scratch first?

Depends on Snowden's motivation for handing over all this stuff. If he thinks he is doing the world a favour then profiting financially would be anathema to him. Greenwald and The Guardian are unlikely to have taken advantage of this information since the timeline of information transfer has been fairly well established and would have totally undermined them had they chosen to profit from it. Many US companies will almost certainly receive briefings based on intelligence gathered by US intelligence agencies because it is in the government's interests for these institutions to succeed on the world stage.

The USA's failure to predict the Japanese attacks is so comprehensive that it overshadows any later successes. It's at least as massive as the failure to predict the fall of the USSR, or the belief that Saddam had WMDs.

Different intelligence gathering groups suggested each of these in turn but either a lack of confirmation source or political pressure to conform to a given narrative resulted in these being "missed". Intelligence professionals constantly complain about how politicians are always happy to have their theories confirmed but really dislike being told the opposite. The CIA's Russian/Soviet desk infamously got the downfall of the USSR wrong but other groups had predicted the downfall with a great degree of accuracy (the State Dept's INR prediction was spot on).

Saddam did have the capability to field chemical and biological weapons (on the order of a week for chemical warheads to a month for biological weapons from existing cultures) and then stage these weapons at forward deployment areas. From the point at which the weapons deployed they could be authorised and fired within 45 minutes, which is where the 45 minute claim came from that was seized upon by Blair et al.

Also note that what intelligence we had on Pearl Harbor was obtained by spying on Japan, a country we were already hostile towards, not by listening into all the phone conversations and opening all the mail of every ordinary citizen in, say, the UK.

We're now in conflict with stateless actors. This requires (or so say our political masters) that the intelligence agencies source data from everywhere. As noted above, Atta became affiliated with AQ in Hamburg. By monitoring global data the intelligence services can ensure that they are able to establish connections as noted in my initial point above. We can get this data and therefore to not get this data would be to fight a battle with one hand tied behind our backs is the theory. Why fight from a position of disadvantage?*

*morals and decency are the answer to this but politicians have neither and nor do good intelligence professionals.
posted by longbaugh at 1:58 AM on July 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


I've seen some version of this argument now several times, and it just irks me. What exactly is the point?

I was under the impression my point was clear - I cited the per-WWII filtering of data as an example to support the idea that there are layers of humans who filter data, thus rendering the bullshit claim about having all the data to make a decision not only bullshit, but utter bullshit.

In fact every time this wide dragnet of data things comes up someone points out how having a large set of data just means there is a whole lotta crap that needs to be waded through.

Besides, if one claims greatness, should not one be able to suffer the slings and arrows of Fate and shrug them off VS acting like a wounded dog, slinking off in a corner, and whining about the hurt and then snarling ant any attempts to help the wounded dog?
posted by rough ashlar at 2:34 AM on July 1, 2013


Five Eyes is no doubt a significant factor in the Australian ggovernments decision to ignore Assange's plight.

I think most people will be surprised by the scale of data being collected. I'm more surprised by the lack of concern. I don't want to trust individuals or govermment with all of my electronic data. I certainly don't trust them when they are "governed" by secret laws and secret courts. I find it difficult to understand a dismissive response to the evidence presented by Snowden, Drake and Manning.
posted by bigZLiLk at 2:40 AM on July 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


>10 August 1941, the top British agent, code named "Tricycle", Dusko Popov, told the FBI of the planned attack on Pearl Harbor and that it would be soon. The FBI told him that his information was "too precise, too complete to be believed. The questionnaire plus the other information you brought spell out in detail exactly where, when, how, and by whom we are to be attacked. If anything, it sounds like a trap."

This story comes from Popov's own autobiography, which may not be a reliable source. The more measured account in Hinsley and Simkins's British Intelligence in the Second World War suggests that things weren't quite so simple, and no one, not even Popov, seems to have realised the significance of the information at the time:
In August 1941, Tricycle left for the USA where he came under the control of the FBI. The Germans had given him his instructions in a long questionnaire concealed in six micro-dots stuck on a telegram. The SIS in Lisbon also obtained a copy of the questionnaire and sent it to MI5 and the FBI in August. It included detailed questions about ammunition dumps in Hawaii and the US naval base at Pearl Harbour. Tricycle later complained that the FBI ignored not only this obvious warning of the forthcoming attack on Pearl Harbour but also the additional information, which he claimed to have obtained from his friend Artist in Lisbon and passed to the FBI on his arrival in the US, that at the request of the Japanese Artist had accompanied the German Military Attaché in Tokyo on a mission to Italy to obtain details about the British naval air-attack on Taranto. There is no record in the MI5 and SIS files that Tricycle reported this additional information to the authorities in London, or that he took up the matter with them on his return to the United Kingdom in the autumn of 1942. There is no evidence, either, that MI5 or the SIS took steps to draw the special attention of the operational authorities in London and Washington to the reference to Pearl Harbour in Tricycle's questionnaire.
This matters because Popov's version has inevitably been used by conspiracy theorists to argue that Roosevelt knew about the forthcoming attack on Pearl Harbour and deliberately let it happen in order to bring the US into the war.
posted by verstegan at 2:43 AM on July 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


I find it difficult to understand a dismissive response to the evidence presented by Snowden, Drake and ManninING.

There has been one turn over of the political party labels at the top as as this drama is happening under a D vs and R label, there will be a %age who will back "their party", no matter what. [See Nixon supporters at the end and post resignation]

Then there are the pro-State people who think the State can do no wrong. They will back the decision of the State.
posted by rough ashlar at 2:49 AM on July 1, 2013


July 1st 2008: US President George W Bush a signed bill removing Nelson Mandela from terror watch list via most of my African timeline
posted by infini at 3:16 AM on July 1, 2013


That was brave of him. One of my bugbears is that Thatcher thought consorting with Pinochet was all good but resolving to end Apartheid in South Africa was something she could never get behind. I seem to recall she was best mates with Botha as well. Basically, if you're on Thatcher's xmas card list, chances are you're a dick.
posted by longbaugh at 3:20 AM on July 1, 2013


After an event has taken place and the perpetrators identified you can sift through their prior communications to identify networks, financial support etc. It's why after the two latest terrorist incidents in the USA and the UK the authorities have rolled up several supporters within a matter of days.

This, however, requires you to keep all the data that your citizens generate, which the NSA assures us they don't do. And how many innocent people are you going to roll up in this, because everyone a suspect has phoned or emailed is suddenly rendered suspect? It's not that long since the UK did this to a range of Irish 'terrorists' and their friends and families, resulting in some horrific miscarriages of justice. It's not like MI5 and the UK police have a great track record here. Plus Dropmire is a very different thing we're talking about: no one seriously suspects that the administration of the EU are a group of terrorists planning to attack the US. Fair enough, you can bug away, but don't expect it not to affect your friendly relationships with governments that have been very supportive of the US fight on terror in the past.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 3:28 AM on July 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


They very much do keep the data, hence the massive new data storage facility in Utah. It should work that nobody is a suspect until a terrorist actor has been identified, at which point you comb through as much of their communications from before the act and start to filter out supporters, networks, finances etc to identify additional members of a cell or related individuals who may be likely to act in the future. You can then start to realtime monitor those and hopefully get a start on future acts.

The Security Service (MI5) and Special Branch had a poor record on the mainland and that's not to be denied. The miscarriages of justice you refer to were pretty common in both political acts of terrorism and in normal practice amongst the UK police forces. The 1970s and 80s were a pretty crap time to be suspected of a crime as there was virtually no oversight and very much the desire to bang up anyone regardless of the veracity of the conviction. In retrospect, the cases you refer to have done more for the future freedoms of suspected criminals and terrorists than virtually anything else (which is a good thing).

DROPMIRE is just a specific project title for something that is within the NSA's operational orders e.g. the collection of political and economic data for the benefit of the USA. Every other nation's intelligence apparatus does exactly this. Having a name for the project is fine and dandy but it's not like the project itself actually just sprang up. I posted on a previous Snowden thread about GCHQ doing this. To anyone who reads about the intelligence "game" literally nothing about his revelations has been a surprise at all.
posted by longbaugh at 3:48 AM on July 1, 2013


The 1970s and 80s were a pretty crap time to be suspected of a crime as there was virtually no oversight and very much the desire to bang up anyone regardless of the veracity of the conviction.

Unlike now, right? I mean we never convict people of terrorism wrongly anymore because our oversight is so good and we give people fair trials where they get to examine the evidence against them and that evidence or their confessions are never, ever extracted by torture.

Again, though, Dropmire, doesn't even have the figleaf of 'we must catch terrorists!' - it's clearly aimed at friendly groups which are not sponsors of terrorism against the US. Unless there's something about the EU we've all been missing for years. I'll repeat: you can bug all you like, but don't expect organizations to be all happy about this and for it not to affect your relationships with otherwise friendly nations.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 4:21 AM on July 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


To anyone who reads about the intelligence "game" literally nothing about his revelations has been a surprise at all.

Plausible deniability is a thing. There is a difference between people knowing things and people knowing that you know things and so on. It's out there and everyone knows that everyone knows about it, so it needs to be discussed in the open finally.
posted by empath at 4:30 AM on July 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Unlike now, right? I mean we never convict people of terrorism wrongly anymore because our oversight is so good and we give people fair trials where they get to examine the evidence against them and that evidence or their confessions are never, ever extracted by torture.

If I am honest I think that's a bit of a goalpost shift there going from the 1970s & 1980s era UK police desire to put frankly anyone away and those enduring Guantanamo bay, although not as much as some might think/wish. The UK police had a terrible (and deserved) reputation until the mid-1990s and whilst there have absolutely been setbacks i.e. the Met is still rotten to the core, there are no longer Irishmen being dragged off the streets and beaten mercilessly and then fitted up with bullshit forensics.

I am otherwise unaware of UK citizens being dragged off the streets and being charged with inaccurate terrorism offences, at least within the UK. UK citizens in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan or any other state considered a threat are a different matter. To my knowledge, all the UK citizens held in Guantanamo have now been released. Shaker Ahmed whilst a resident in the UK is a Saudi citizen which makes things slightly stickier.

Plausible deniability is a thing. There is a difference between people knowing things and people knowing that you know things and so on.

Absolutely - and with this I'd refer folks back to the discovery of the AQ tradecraft training documents. These assumed certain capabilities on the part of the intelligence agencies and militaries of the West that were not common knowledge but extrapolation of existing known techniques and technologies. Safety for terrorist groups should be predicated on the best tradecraft possible and it's where tradecraft breaks down that we see opportunities for states to take action against them.

Were I running an anti-goverment cell*1 I would be reading appropriate publications about surveillance technology and assuming a level of capability above those which have been made public. I have talked previously around the Gmail draft document communication method that AQ used to use as a method of communication - that is obviously no longer in use but I should imagine some of the second stringers would have considered this to be a safe technique until Snowden's revelations.

I'm all for the discussion of these matters but I come done on the side of it being too late to put the genie back. Getting people in positions of power to relinquish these tools will be next to impossible and the discussion should then become "what should we do next given that this is what our future entails". Total surveillance of the populace by the state should be balanced by open government and sousveillance of the state's actors, be they politicians or policemen (secret or otherwise). I also support Open Intelligence AKA OPINT (not to be confused with Open Source Intelligence AKA OSINT) as crowdsourcing intelligence analysis is almost certainly the future in a post-total surveillance society*2

*1 I'm not, but have some idea on how to do so.
*2 the failed Reddit/4Chan identification of the Boston bombers to the contrary.
posted by longbaugh at 5:33 AM on July 1, 2013


Statement by the European Commission on alleged surveillance of EU premises

These are disturbing news if proven true. They demand full clarification.

As soon as the media reports about alleged spying and eavesdropping on EU premises and delegations were made known, the Commission asked the European External Action Service to immediately raise the matter with the US authorities in Washington DC and in Brussels to verify the veracity of these reports.

Baroness Ashton, High Representative and Vice- President of the Commission, who has competence on these issues as they concern external relations matters relevant for both the EU institutions and its MS, issued a statement already yesterday, and has since spoken to Secretary of State Kerry directly.

The EU is now expecting to hear from the US authorities. Clarity and transparency is what we expect from partners and allies, and this is what we expect from the US.

posted by vacapinta at 6:15 AM on July 1, 2013


That was brave of him in 2008, oh, just about 14 years after Mandela was elected President and 4 years after he retired.
posted by infini at 6:39 AM on July 1, 2013


I forgot my sarcasm tags - mea culpa. I would have hoped my utter contempt for his actions would have been clear from the anti-Thatcher tirade that followed since they are both clearly agents of Satan on our Earth.
posted by longbaugh at 6:47 AM on July 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


In all seriousness, who does NSA actually work for?

(Goes off to find a copy of Memoirs Found in a Bathtub.)
posted by sneebler at 7:18 AM on July 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


I have two things to add to this discussion right now, a statement and a handful of related questions.

1. "These are disturbing news if proven true. They demand full clarification." I love how "news" is a plural word in the EU statement. I hope it catches on over here. "Those are some great news," I would enjoy saying.

2. If a private citizen did what the NSA is accused of doing, it would be illegal, right? Would it be illegal under US law, or under international law, or how exactly? Is the NSA (or any other US agency) formally exempted from these laws, or is it just generally understood that they'll spy anyway?
posted by compartment at 7:24 AM on July 1, 2013


If a private citizen did what the NSA is accused of doing,

The NSA did not do this in a vacuum. Various Corporations helped, and THEY are not beyond the local laws of the EU, nor are their products beyond the reach of the wallets of the EU population.

I await the EU and Hong Kong centric 'Do not buy these products' boycotts over these matters.
posted by rough ashlar at 7:30 AM on July 1, 2013


For more about why it's important that the actual NSA documents are released when everyone already 'knew' that the NSA was spying on everyone, see this Stephen Pinker lecture. He takes a while to circle around to the point, but you'll see what I mean when he gets to "Mutual Knowledge"
posted by empath at 7:35 AM on July 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


I am otherwise unaware of UK citizens being dragged off the streets and being charged with inaccurate terrorism offences, at least within the UK

No, they're just shot several times at close range, while the ever present security cameras suddenly malfunction and manage not to actually record the event.
posted by eriko at 7:44 AM on July 1, 2013


Seriously? Are we doing that? The shooting of De Menezes was an absolutely terrible mistake that nobody with an ounce of sense will try to defend but lets not pretend it's happened since. I would have expected better from you eriko.
posted by longbaugh at 7:52 AM on July 1, 2013


In all seriousness, who does NSA actually work for?

The glib answer would probably be "themselves," but yeah, this is a good question. It kind of feels like we've just let intelligence services grow to out-sized proportions under cover of darkness. Some of that started under Hoover's FBI--Hoover famously spied on and kept secret files on high-profile pols that he used as leverage against them. Imagine how much worse that dynamic--entities within the government abusing their authority for purposes of political coercion--has gotten since, with the profusion of secret acronyms we've seen during and after The Cold War.

The right have been actively calling for heads of agencies to deny access to classified information to the president for years now, so there's always the possibility the bureaucracy itself is dysfunctional, but even trying to figure out the most basic facts about how security clearance and access to classified information works anymore seems to require immersion in a byzantine system of different statuses and "need-to-know" type designations that makes it impossible to say who in government really has access to information anymore.

Could it be that our security apparatus is just a great big old stinking mess and the power void created by having such an unmanageable, convoluted system is making it effectively impossible for anyone to even know, much less control, what's really being done in the name of national security anymore?
posted by saulgoodman at 7:58 AM on July 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


You find out some really weird stuff when you go digging through the process of security clearance authorization. It's the intractable problem of who watches the watchers infinitely regressed. The holy of the holies presumably are the people who design the manual for hiring the people who decide who to trust.

I heard one rumor from a guy who has years experience that told me all of those people are lifelong Mormons.
posted by bukvich at 8:16 AM on July 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Were I running an anti-goverment cell*1 I would be reading appropriate publications about surveillance technology and assuming a level of capability above those which have been made public.

Is the current thinking that NSA can break PGP within any useful timeframe? Because if not, it seems like backchannels like gmail drafts etc are going to provide low visibility more than any measure of informational security. Which is sort of an illusion anyway, if you're entrusting unencrypted data to an American corporation for storage on servers subject to the stored communications act, amongst other various warrant and subpoena powers etc.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:36 AM on July 1, 2013


See hushmail, for instance. You have to run your own server.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:37 AM on July 1, 2013


Could it be that our security apparatus is just a great big old stinking mess...

Mess? I don't know. Big? Yes.

A who's who of the US National Intelligence Community:

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)

United States Department of Defense:

Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA)
National Security Agency (NSA)
National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA)
National Reconnaissance Office (NRO)
Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency (AFISRA)
Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM)
Marine Corps Intelligence Activity (MCIA)
Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI)

United States Department of Energy:

Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence (OICI)

United States Department of Homeland Security:

Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A)
Coast Guard Intelligence (CGI)

United States Department of Justice:

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
Drug Enforcement Administration, Office of National Security Intelligence (DEA/ONSI)

United States Department of State:

Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR)

United States Department of the Treasury:

Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence (TFI)

Source: Wikipedia
posted by Mister Bijou at 8:38 AM on July 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


The NYTimes op ed from Malte Spitz is great. There is a link in there to a web page he assembled using six months of his collected and stored data that he sued to retrieve which is effectively high resolution surveillance of almost everything he did for six months.
posted by bukvich at 8:47 AM on July 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Nazi Germany vs Modern Britain: Some simularities that should disturb you.
There has been a digging away at the core principles of Britain’s system of Law and Justice over the last decade which threatens to undermine it entirely. Today, we look at key changes in pre war Nazi Germany which saw the Nazification of Germany’s nation of Laws, and corresponding changes in the British justice system today.
While this is mainly about Britain there are many simularities to what is / has happened in the USA. Slippery slope, getting more slippy every day.
posted by adamvasco at 8:59 AM on July 1, 2013


Rather than suggest that our security apparatus is a big old stinking mess, maybe we should consider the alternative: It is successfully doing the modern-day equivalent to the kinds of things it used to do from its outset.

Case in point: The Washington Naval Treaty of 1921-1922. All of the winners / allies of WWII were at the table -- including the UK, the US, Japan, France, and Italy, with the goal of reaching an agreement to prevent a naval arms race by establishing acceptable ratios for the size of the various navies. In this case, a ratio of 5 for the UK and US, 3 for Japan, and 1.75 for France and Italy.

Japan, as you may suspect, didn't want such a significant restriction relative to the US and UK. However, they were willing to accept it, if pressured... and the US *KNEW* that fact, because they were intercepting all their diplomatic codes of their "ally" at the time. (For all we know, they may also have been doing similar things with Italy and France too.)

Japan *wanted* to have the kind of navy where, after an initial attack, they would be the clearly dominant naval power in the Pacific, capable of cutting the US and Britain off from their Pacific holdings and Australia entirely. From their perspective, a ratio of 7/10 was the minimum they should shoot for. Had they achieved this, it could've made US victory in WWII considerably harder and costlier. It also would likely have effected negotiations ten years later on the ratio for destroyers, and, perhaps most importantly, would've affected Japanese naval technology, since they would've been in a better position to develop the kind of advancements in design that were waiting on the back burners, but which they didn't have the option of fully implementing under such tight restrictions.

So basically, reading the communications and breaking the codes of our allies? Nothing new. Likewise, there's nothing particularly new about a backlash against such activities. In 1929 Henry Stimpson, President Hoover's Secretary of State, shut down the State Department's cryptanalytic office saying, "Gentlemen don't read each other's mail."

...a position he later came to regret, but sadly, not in time to prevent Pearl Harbor, or the loss of many, many American merchant marines to German U-boats in the Atlantic. The US waited until the brink of war before really taking cryptanalysis and communications interception seriously again, and it cost us many, many lives as a result. And how important was it to intercept those kinds of communications?

"It was thanks to Ultra that we won the war." - Winston Churchill

So perhaps you'll understand my position a bit better when I suggest that when people have the ability to read each other's mail, it makes it much more likely that they can continue to act like gentlemen?
posted by markkraft at 9:18 AM on July 1, 2013


when people have the ability to read each other's mail, it makes it much more likely that they can continue to act like gentlemen

To really stretch that analogy, gentlemen shouldn't need to also read the mail of neigbour's underage daughter and inspect her hamster's cavities.
posted by hat_eater at 9:34 AM on July 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


So perhaps you'll understand my position a bit better when I suggest that when people have the ability to read each other's mail, it makes it much more likely that they can continue to act like gentlemen?

Doubtful. It's a well-known and long studied reality of human psychology that human beings need privacy--and yes, even personal secrets--to have a healthy, stable identity and social life (one cite but there are plenty of others even the most cursory searches online can turn up). You cannot have lasting social cohesion and stability without allowing for privacy, according to most of the credible research in these areas. The intelligence communities don't know what they are doing. Their actions are promoting paranoia and identity insecurity at a time in history when people's sens of personal identity is already taking a beating with the more rapid flow of information about the world.

Justifications, security concerns, etc., none of them matter if what our intelligence agencies are doing is at the same time ultimately contributing to the destabilization of our society and the erosion of the good-faith and expectations of privacy required to create and maintain social bonds.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:41 AM on July 1, 2013 [7 favorites]


ach. missed the edit window. "sens" s/b "sense" of course.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:47 AM on July 1, 2013


Going To Maine: But perhaps not.Your parallels with Germany are not unnoticed, but the Stasi and NSA are not exactly comparable.
Of course not. The US would never stoop to targeting its own citizens and others suspected of political dissidence for kidnapping or assassination, place them in secret political prisons, torture them for confessions and information, and effectively sentence them silently to perpetual imprisonment, all without the benefit of trial.

Ever.

I once believed.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:50 AM on July 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


Their actions are promoting paranoia and identity insecurity at a time in history when people's sense of personal identity is already taking a beating

It won't happen - but migration of all important communication to meatspace would have been a funny side effect. In communities under constant surveillance 'it's not a phone talk' was a commonly used phrase.
posted by hat_eater at 9:50 AM on July 1, 2013


The worry I have is that now the targets of surveillance seem to be so broad and the news about these kinds of practices spread so quickly (along with exaggerations, distortions and outright paranoid beliefs), people's basic sense of personal integrity is being undermined. Even the low-level background stress of constantly having to remind yourself to be careful about what you say on the phone or in an email or in a crowd and the awareness that these communications just might be scrutinized by a third party whether innocuous or not only further heightens people's general feelings of alienation and paranoia. We're in historically unique territory here. I don't think analogies to how spy agencies operated in the past are very useful for understanding the impact and significance of how they operate today.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:57 AM on July 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Putin said. "If he wants to stay here, there is one condition: he must stop his activities aimed at inflicting damage to our American partners, no matter how strange it may sound on my lips."

I'm not sure I've ever heard a politician say "I can't believe these words are coming out of my mouth".
posted by el io at 10:02 AM on July 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


The US would never stoop to targeting its own citizens and others suspected of political dissidence for kidnapping or assassination,

Just let other [REDACTED] parties do it for you to the occupy movement.

Would you be shocked to learn that the FBI apparently knew that some organization, perhaps even a law enforcement agency or private security outfit, had contingency plans to assassinate peaceful protestors in a major American city — and did nothing to intervene?
posted by rough ashlar at 10:03 AM on July 1, 2013


'He notes, correctly, that in documents obtained from the FBI and Homeland Security by the PCJF’s FOIA search, the Occupy Movement is classed as a “terrorist” activity.'
...

"It seems to me that based on the access they were getting they were using what we now know as the NSA’s PRISM program."

From the link that is the source for rough ashlar's link
posted by el io at 10:16 AM on July 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Doubtful. It's a well-known and long studied reality of human psychology that human beings need privacy--and yes, even personal secrets--to have a healthy, stable identity and social life"

But they most certainly *DO* have that... far in away to the degree they ever had that during WWII, when a huge portion of the country's mail -- and journalism -- was routinely opened, viewed by human eyes, censored, and potentially investigated..

We don't talk about that very much lately, of course, and it doesn't get the attention of Japanese-American internment camps... largely because people felt after the war that such actions were mostly harmless and justifiable, under the circumstances.

Really, I think most people have the wrong kind of ahistoric viewpoint on these policies and their relative intrusiveness. It's very hard to argue that current government policies are remotely as intrusive and heavy-handed on the common citizen as they were during the Cold War. And, indeed, there is serious pressure from the left -- and increasingly, from the right -- to soften and constrain these policies. However, it will likely not take effect until things with terrorists have calmed down a bit, which likely means until after we get combat troops out of Afghanistan... because that is when it starts to become more politically viable and defensible.

Change does, in fact, take time... especially in a highly divided political landscape. What's most important to note is the direction that change is moving. I personally find that it's moving in the right direction.

"gentlemen shouldn't need to also read the mail of neigbour's underage daughter and inspect her hamster's cavities."

To be fair, her mail isn't being read. Rather, it's being sifted through by inhuman eyes. Her pet hamster is unharmed, and safe(r) from terrorism.
posted by markkraft at 10:24 AM on July 1, 2013


"The US would never stoop to targeting its own citizens and others suspected of political dissidence for kidnapping or assassination, place them in secret political prisons, torture them for confessions and information, and effectively sentence them silently to perpetual imprisonment, all without the benefit of trial.

Ever.

I once believed."


I can't say I ever believed that the US, theoretically, was above such things.

However, I *do* believe we aren't doing this. Political dissidents are safer here in the US than just about any other place in the world.

"Putin said. "If he wants to stay here, there is one condition: he must stop his activities aimed at inflicting damage to our American partners, no matter how strange it may sound on my lips."

Apparently, even Putin realizes that such activities are, in fact, criminal under the circumstances, and grounds for turning him over to the US. (Takes one to know one?!)
posted by markkraft at 10:31 AM on July 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


To be fair, her mail isn't being read.

Oh come on. In the analogy you used the 'gentlemen' were the state actors. That would make 'daughter' the corporations. And the hamster? Us, I guess.
posted by hat_eater at 10:33 AM on July 1, 2013


However, I *do* believe we aren't doing this. Political dissidents are safer here in the US than just about any other place in the world.

We are doing all of those things.
posted by empath at 10:37 AM on July 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


"Oh come on. In the analogy you used..."

Not my analogy.

Does your dog bite?!
posted by markkraft at 10:38 AM on July 1, 2013


Would you be shocked to learn that the FBI apparently knew that some organization, perhaps even a law enforcement agency or private security outfit, had contingency plans to assassinate peaceful protestors in a major American city — and did nothing to intervene?

Wow, linking to Alex Jones. Isn't this an example of why we might want federal surveillance - of police in Texas at least? (or militia or private security or whatever it was). Reads to me like the FBI was protecting the occupy protestors more than anything.
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:43 AM on July 1, 2013


Not to dismiss your view Markkraft, but that's not how most people perceive it. And that's a problem in itself.

We're also kind of losing sight of the fact that part of what's being alleged here is economic espionage--the US actively spying on other nations for the economic benefit of certain large companies. When people who are already skeptical of their government hear there are credible allegations the US government is actively colluding with certain industries to help further their business goals, that makes it hard to believe there's any level of deception and privacy intrusion their government isn't willing to engage in and makes the real motives for these practices seem quite suspect.

From personal experience, most ordinary people I know now take it for granted all of these things are happening. Whether their concerns are fully reasonable or not, the perception itself is all that's really needed to cause the social problems.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:43 AM on July 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


saulgoodman: which "most"? Metafilter users? US citizens? The world? That's a view that needs citing.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:58 AM on July 1, 2013


"We are doing all of those things.

Perhaps you can cite me a U.S. political dissident that has recently been targeted for kidnapping or assassination? Or prison with torture, indefinite detention, and no trial?

Note... that's not Manning. For one, he's charged with a laundry list of crimes, many of which he's admitted to... and he's currently on trial. And even the UN found that Manning's treatment -- prolonged max. security detention -- could only be considered torture under some conditions... and it's since been shown that Manning was detained in the way that he was due to a history of suicidal thoughts.
posted by markkraft at 11:03 AM on July 1, 2013


Jose Padilla, and An-war Al-waki, off the top of my head, but he said "and others", which includes everyone in Guantanamo, or elsewhere that have been tortured and murdered by the CIA or US military. Even before the war on terror, we tortured and murdered people all over Central and South America and in Asia.
posted by empath at 11:10 AM on July 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


and it's since been shown that Manning was detained in the way that he was due to a history of suicidal thoughts.

I'm fairly sure that solitary confinement and stripping people naked isn't the standard treatment for suicidal ideation. Please engage honestly or don't engage at all.
posted by empath at 11:12 AM on July 1, 2013 [10 favorites]


We're also kind of losing sight of the fact that part of what's being alleged here is economic espionage--the US actively spying on other nations for the economic benefit of certain large companies. When people who are already skeptical of their government hear there are credible allegations the US government is actively colluding with certain industries to help further their business goals, that makes it hard to believe there's any level of deception and privacy intrusion their government isn't willing to engage in and makes the real motives for these practices seem quite suspect.

I'll go dig up a reference beyond a tweet but I did see this "The USA is the new Huawei"
posted by infini at 11:15 AM on July 1, 2013


Reads to me like the FBI was protecting the occupy protestors more than anything.

If that was the case - where are the conspiracy to commit murder charges? And who/what are the redacted parties?
posted by rough ashlar at 11:16 AM on July 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Reads to me like the FBI was protecting the occupy protestors more than anything.

I don't see it. Usually murder conspiracies lead to charges. But then the FBI is often quiet about domestic right-wing terrorism.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:21 AM on July 1, 2013


saulgoodman: which "most"? Metafilter users? US citizens? The world? That's a view that needs citing.

Random acquaintances, family members and friends I talk to about these issues. Anytime the subject comes up in everyday conversation with people I know from different walks of life, it couldn't be more clear they already take the worst about the extent of domestic surveillance as a given. It's purely anecdotal, but I'm pretty sure scientific polls would back up my experience. And in fact, here's a poll from the National Journal that shows 85% of people polled already believe the government is spying on our communications.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:26 AM on July 1, 2013


"Not to dismiss your view Markkraft, but that's not how most people perceive it. And that's a problem in itself."

There's been a huge lack of perspective on these issues, largely because they are being pitched from people and businesses that stand to benefit by not offering such a perspective, even if they have the depth of knowledge to provide it.

When major headlines are being generated because Glenn Greenwald speaks to a major gathering of socialists, talking about the NSA having *the potential* to listen to BILLIONS of phone calls... well, alarm bells go off for me, but most people simply aren't walking away with more than the rather misleading headline. Capability does not indicate actually doing such a thing... and certainly, not actually listening to such calls, for starters.

"I'm fairly sure that . . . stripping people naked isn't the standard treatment for suicidal ideation.

Unless, of course, there are serious fears that they will try to use it to kill themselves... in which case it is, in fact, standard policy for them to take away a prisoner's clothing, especially when observation at night isn't as easy to do, and make them wear a safety smock, designed so they can't hang or choke themselves with it at night when monitoring conditions are less than ideal.

To be clear, you are factually wrong on this matter... and the policies shown of making Pvt. Manning wear a safety smock were actually *less onerous* and less lengthy than what is standard procedure throughout much of the country, on a day-to-day basis.

"Please engage honestly or don't engage at all."
Please engage in a less passive-aggressive, more factual matter... taking a moment to do actual, detailed, non-ideological research on the facts of the matter before you get snippity and personally insulting to another member of this community... or, failing that, please bugger off.
posted by markkraft at 11:40 AM on July 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Unless, of course, there are serious fears that they will try to use it to kill themselves...

I don't think they provided compelling evidence that he was in eminent danger of offing himself, and perhaps they could have, you know, stopped torturing him to make it less likely to do it. Suicide is the result of isolation and despair, and it's a relatively simple thing to just, like, treat him better, provide counseling and so on. But no, they chose to treat him like an animal and remove the ability to kill himself rather than trying to alleviate the conditions that would cause the desire. It was brutal and completely uncalled for.
posted by empath at 11:45 AM on July 1, 2013 [7 favorites]


markkraft: Manning was detained in the way that he was due to a history of suicidal thoughts.
The justification is 100% irrelevant to the fact that he was kept in solitary confinement, which is considered a form of torture by international courts, psychological experts, and many others who aren't the US government. It doesn't matter why they claim they do it; it's still torture.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:53 AM on July 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


"I don't think they provided compelling evidence that he was in eminent danger of offing himself, and perhaps they could have, you know, stopped torturing him to make it less likely to do it."

Keep in mind that they have access to Private Manning's personal writing, corespondence, interviews and discussions with those he knew as to his state of mind, etc. Do you *really* feel they need to provide you -- as opposed to, say, a judge -- with compelling evidence that he was potentially suicidal? Or would that have been horribly invasive for Private Manning?

If you actually bothered to do the hard work necessary to discuss this manner in an informed, nuanced way, you would realize that the potential "torture" you are citing, at least according to the UN, is the fact that he was detained at maximum security and on suicide watch for as long as he was. Other than that, there was no evidence showing anything else that could be construed as torture against Private Manning.

I'm very sorry that you feel that the suicide watch could've potentially led to torture, leading to the need for a suicide watch, empath.
posted by markkraft at 11:55 AM on July 1, 2013


Again though, let me go back to my prior question... and this time, I want an answer.

Please cite me a U.S. political dissident that has recently been targeted for kidnapping or assassination, or prison with torture, indefinite detention, and no trial.
posted by markkraft at 11:59 AM on July 1, 2013


I'm very sorry that you feel that the suicide watch could've potentially led to torture, leading to the need for a suicide watch, empath.

What are you apologizing for, exactly? You are engaging in this thread in a really weird way.
posted by empath at 12:00 PM on July 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Please cite me a U.S. political dissident that has recently been targeted for kidnapping or assassination, or prison with torture, indefinite detention, and no trial

The statement you disagreed with included the statement "and others" which you are ignoring for whatever reason. The US has been murdering and torturing political dissidents around the world for DECADES.
posted by empath at 12:02 PM on July 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Saulgoodman: I skimmed the study you mentioned. Two interesting quotes:

Paralleling the sense that a wide array of information is vulnerable, the survey also found that lopsided majorities believe a diverse panorama of groups and institutions is collecting information about them without their knowledge.

In other words, people aren't solely concerned about the government spying - they tend to think that a lot of people are spying. Not a justification of anything, but suggests that reactions to this may be a bit muddled by the general assumption of surveillance.

A final question in this sequence asked respondents whether they trusted these institutions “to responsibly use information about you.” By far the most trusted sources were health care providers (80 percent), employers (79 percent), and law-enforcement agencies (71 percent).

I am cherry-picking a li'l bit there because "the government" ranks waaay down on that particular list of trusted agencies. But the fact that law enforcment ranks so highly while the very generic "the government" ranks so low suggests that some better survey questions were needed. Is the FBI law enforcement or the government? Is the NSA? Correspondingly, there's a recent study by Pew that suggests that a small majority of Americans think that NSA surveillance is okay, but that another small majority thinks that email surveillance shouldn't be allowed. People are darn confused.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:04 PM on July 1, 2013


Please cite me a U.S. political dissident that has recently been targeted for kidnapping or assassination, or prison with torture, indefinite detention, and no trial.

Anwar al-Awlaki
posted by banal evil at 12:09 PM on July 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Russia never gives anyone up and doesn't plan to give anyone up. And no one has ever given us anyone."

Come in, come in, come in from the cold.
posted by infini at 12:10 PM on July 1, 2013


WikiLeaks suspect Manning mistreated by military, psychiatrist says

The Torture of Bradley Manning
posted by homunculus at 12:12 PM on July 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


"I'm very sorry that you feel..."

Can everyone on metafilter please agree never to use such mealy-mouthed so-called apologies ever again (in the blue or in real life)?

Thanks.
posted by el io at 12:18 PM on July 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


"The statement you disagreed with included the statement "and others" which you are ignoring for whatever reason. The US has been murdering and torturing political dissidents around the world for DECADES."

No doubt... but your statement also included US citizens in that list. You're trying to wiggle out from under what you've said by disconnecting the two groups, even though you bundled them together. That's the bone of my contention.

Would you admit to the fact that we do not treat US political dissidents in such a manner... and can you cite a recent example of the US treating an overseas political dissident -- and not a suspected criminal -- in any of the ways mentioned?

Let's deal with these incidents on an honest case-by-case basis, rather than smear everything that the US does *currently* that can be changed, with a kind of guilt-by-distant-association.


"Anwar al-Awlaki"

Sorry, no. One of the last things that Anwar al-Awlaki did was ask for bombmaking equipment for his terrorist training camp. He was clearly one of the most dangerous terrorist recruiters in the world, if not the guy at the top of the list.

His son was killed later, but his death was an unfortunate coincidence, because he was with another top terrorist target at the time.
posted by markkraft at 12:23 PM on July 1, 2013


Please cite me a U.S. political dissident that has recently been targeted for kidnapping or assassination, or prison with torture, indefinite detention, and no trial.

I'm afraid that list is a state secret.

"The White House will not talk about the strike list. It would not comment on Rogers’s statement that no Americans are currently being targeted."
posted by el io at 12:25 PM on July 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Sorry, no

So, if someone advocates political violence, then they are not a political dissident?
posted by banal evil at 12:27 PM on July 1, 2013


We've strayed pretty far from the topic of this post, have we not?
posted by nightwood at 12:29 PM on July 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


"So, if someone advocates political violence, then they are not a political dissident?"

He recruited, armed, incited, help fund, and help train terrorists... several of whom went on to kill people.

Just because he might have also been a political dissident, that doesn't mean he wasn't a criminal and hadn't stepped over the line. In truth, it would be hard to imagine any terrorist who isn't also a potential political dissident.

As far as Private Manning is concerned, it should be noted that the same doctor cited as eventually wanting Private Manning taken off of suicide watch was also the same one that first recommended that he be put on suicide watch, given that he had mentioned killing himself wand that nooses that he had made were found in his cell.

I understand that it's a matter of contention, and that the defense for Manning would love to see the case against him thrown out for a reason completely disconnected to the actual crimes committed. Nor do I contend that things couldn't have been treated differently... but torture sounds a lot like extreme caution in this case... and I think throwing that word around so loosely demeans and diminishes actual cases of intentional torture that the US has committed in the not-too-distant past.
posted by markkraft at 12:38 PM on July 1, 2013


Please cite me

What would be useful is for you to list all sources you would consider a valid citation as you have expressed that you don't like certain data sources.

And while you are at it, please define a U.S. political dissident.
posted by rough ashlar at 12:39 PM on July 1, 2013


He was alleged to have recruited, armed, incited, help fund, and help train terrorists...
posted by ryoshu at 1:03 PM on July 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Nightwood is right that we are very far off topic. However, if you would like examples of U.S. government wrongdoing you might want to look at the FBI's COINTELPRO program (now disavowed by the organization). No country is perfect, and the US has committed some sins. It no doubt is doing so still.
posted by Going To Maine at 1:06 PM on July 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was gonna say... lets go back to talkig about the Germans and the EU. Iceland has just posted their petition online.

What are the current ramifications of this on NATO?
posted by infini at 1:12 PM on July 1, 2013


Is Putin saying the Snowden leaks will keep coming? If so, awesome! :)
posted by jeffburdges at 1:12 PM on July 1, 2013


No no, he's saying don't harm our American partners althought I can't believe i'm actually saying this out loud. <----he said that, not me.
posted by infini at 1:13 PM on July 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Snowden Effect, Continued
posted by homunculus at 1:15 PM on July 1, 2013


Is Putin saying the Snowden leaks will keep coming?

They will keep coming, just not officially from Snowden and will instead be labelled "tin foil hat" material.

And the statists will have their happiness returned via the wilful and blissful ignorance.
posted by rough ashlar at 1:18 PM on July 1, 2013


Arghh!! Who are these "Statists"?

When your car engine starts to malfunction due to serious mechanical problems, you don't set yourself in opposition to the existence of engines do you? Governments and rule-governed systems of some kind are inevitable and necessary to modern life, whether their organization is top-down or bottom-up. It's ridiculous to ignore how many modern advantages would be completely unworkable without the existence of some form of modern state. We could probably agree that the various levels of government in the US aren't functioning adequately to meet the needs of the public anymore, but that's because those institutions are to varying degrees corrupted and in need of repair, not because we don't need them anymore! That's throwing the baby out with the bathwater in the worst possible way.

Anyway, yeah, like someone else said this is all going ridiculously off-topic at this point.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:30 PM on July 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


but that's because those institutions are to varying degrees corrupted and in need of repair,

They seem to be working just fine for a select group of people.

In the case of EU spying - cui bono? Follow the rmoney in the trade deals and spying to catch a glimpse of who supports the lining of their pockets with State-based resources.
posted by rough ashlar at 1:40 PM on July 1, 2013


As a Canadian, I worry about what my country is doing to make it on that list

Take a look at the peacekeeper monument in Ottawa which is right next to the US embassy. We are quite openly spying on them. Eh.
posted by srboisvert at 1:51 PM on July 1, 2013


The wonderful American world of informers and “agents provocateurs
posted by adamvasco at 1:52 PM on July 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Put another way, if you are an American, do you want the President to know every single fact about a situation before, say, becoming militarily involved in Syria? Or would you prefer he not have every available fact before launching a war?

So, I guess this must mean that Obama is planning on declaring war on...Germany and France. That should show Syria.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 2:34 PM on July 1, 2013


This is rapidly becoming the markkraft show.

Wikipedia:
Political dissent refers to any expression designed to convey dissatisfaction with or opposition to the policies of a governing body. Such expression may take forms from vocal disagreement to civil disobedience to the use of violence.

That makes Bradley Manning a dissident, as it does those in Guantanamo who have been staging a hunger strike to protest their imprisonment, many of whom have been cleared for release but haven't been yet. The original statement didn't just say US citizen dissidents. (I would paste it, but I'm on goddamn iOS right now, which is driving me up the freaking WALL with its copy/paste function.)

The claim that that doesn't count for Manning because he's a criminal instead is a popular one with all kinds of authoritative regimes. But even granting that, he is being treated a lot different from your standard criminal.

As for your anecdote in which you casually mention living with Congressional staffers:
1. Might you be too close to this subject?
2. On the "that's different" response when China does something (in this case, steals a warhead) opposed to us doing it, neither country should be doing it. The whole basis for American execptionalism is that we supposedly hold ourselves to a higher standard. Yeah ha ha I know what a laff, but until recently a lot of people assumed this. The sound of "surprise" we all hear that we all pat ourselves on the back when we say we don't feel it ourselves is the sound of that bubble shattering.
posted by JHarris at 2:57 PM on July 1, 2013


So, I guess this must mean that Obama is planning on declaring war on...Germany and France. That should show Syria.

US Cable via Wikileaks
Background and Objective: We want to advise German
officials of information indicating that as of November 2009,
the Syrian entity Business Lab was seeking a variety of items,
including small engines, servo actuators, propellers, and
radio equipment from the German firm Graupner GmbH. We are
concerned that any goods Graupner supplies to Business Lab may
be diverted to Syria's Scientific Studies and Research Center
(SSRC), the entity responsible for Syrian WMD and ballistic
missile programs, and that the items are being sought for use
in Syria's unmanned aerial vehicle program. We want to share
this information with German officials and encourage them to
investigate this information and take measures to ensure that
Graupner is not acting as a supplier to Syrian entities of
proliferation concern.

posted by nightwood at 2:57 PM on July 1, 2013


I may be rather slow, but I really don't see how this cable relates to Dropmire and bugging/datamining of Germany, France, EU offices, and EU citizens en masse. If the aim of the US administration is to spy on Syria, surely it would be more efficient to spy on their internet/phone calls rather than those of a range of EU countries and a huge chunk of the citizens? Or are you suggesting that Germany is secretly sending technology to Syria?
posted by lesbiassparrow at 3:09 PM on July 1, 2013


lesbiassparrow - we don't know how the US got this information - whether spying on the Syria corporation or spying on German corporations or both. But it may be, like the earlier link I posted, the German corporation was dealing with a shell company that hid the final destination of the goods. What it points out, though, is that spying on businesses and corporations can be for security/military reasons and not necessarily for economic reasons.
posted by nightwood at 3:23 PM on July 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


I would also put COINTELPRO in that category, but my point is that we need to differentiate between what happened in the past, and what is actually happening today. For all the fear of domestic surveillance, at the practical level and impact on the average American, this isn't J. Edgar Hoover. Not even close.

I do, in fact, want to see US policies shift away from a wartime footing, but I know that it took time in the past and that it will take time this time around too.

Unfortunately, that means we might have to wait until some Republicans desert their party on particular issues, or are voted out of office, or otherwise undermined through presidential policies or political hijinks. (Cram those changes into a defense bill and they *might* sign off on it.)

“Be assured, my young friend, that there is a great deal of ruin in a nation”

posted by markkraft at 3:35 PM on July 1, 2013


[markkraft, please be part of the conversation already in progress and don't make it a referendum on only your beliefs, thank you]
posted by jessamyn at 3:52 PM on July 1, 2013


Rafael Correa not considering Snowden asylum: helping him was a 'mistake'

Ecuador's president reveals travel pass was granted 'without authorisation' and says whistleblower is now Russia's problem

posted by rosswald at 8:01 PM on July 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Geez, journalism on the Snowden issue is not very sophisticated. Correa is a game theorist and it is Ecuadorian law that an asylum seeker be physically present on Ecuador soil to claim asylum. Thus, (as I read it) the travel document was not issued according to Ecuadorian law. That is all.

As for dissidents, they may not be killing them in the open, but I think the actions taken by the US Government in relation to the following people can reasonably be classified as unjustified persecution or excessive prosecution:

Abdulelah Haider Shaye, Barrett Brown, Laura Poitras, Thomas Drake, Jacob Applebaum, Julian Assange, John Kiriakou, Shamai Leibowitz, Aaron Swartz, Andrew Auernheimer..

..and though I know of a few more, it really is much harder to find information about them and their experiences at the hands of the US than it should be.
posted by bigZLiLk at 1:51 AM on July 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


Barrett Brown, from prison, via the Guardian.
posted by bigZLiLk at 2:35 AM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


I do, in fact, want to see US policies shift away from a wartime footing, but I know that it took time in the past and that it will take time this time around too.

It's confusing when people say they are against certain things, but then go on to try and justify all the attenuating injustices and transgressions that make the aforementioned "certain things" possible.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 7:04 AM on July 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Ecuador's New Communications Law: A Democratic Model?
posted by jeffburdges at 7:27 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Restore the Fourth Campaign Organizes Protests Against Unconstitutional Surveillance

There's one in NYC - final organizational meeting this Wednesday, 8pm, Garibaldi statue at Washington Square Park!
posted by suedehead at 11:07 AM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh, and I forgot to mention - the actual protests are taking place on July 4th - Restore the Fourth (Amendment) on the Fourth. I hope that most of us in these NSA threads are interested and will check out our local protests!
posted by suedehead at 11:20 AM on July 2, 2013


I like how the EFF post has a facebook share button. Is there a facebook page for organizing the protest so the NSA can keep tabs on everybody with one click?
posted by bukvich at 3:45 PM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


VIENNA (AP) — The plane carrying Bolivian President Evo Morales was rerouted to Austria after France and Portugal refused to let it cross their airspace because of suspicions that NSA leaker Edward Snowden was on board, Bolivian officials said Tuesday.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:05 PM on July 2, 2013


Wow. They redirected a plane carrying Bolivia's Head of State because Snowden might have been onboard? What chickenlivered cowards.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:05 PM on July 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'd go for dumb, rather than cowardly myself. Aren't the US and China in competition with various South American nations for influence, contracts, and resources? Isn't this going to push them towards the other current megapower?

Puts on tinfoil hat:are we entirely sure that this entire case isn't being deliberately badly handled by someone being paid by the US' rivals? (Joking, joking...but not entirely. It's as if they're trying to piss huge swathes of the global community off rather than trying to limit damage from Snowden's revelations.)
posted by lesbiassparrow at 11:35 PM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Google translated the Bolivian Presidential Palace press release below and here is a sad looking photo of Evo sitting at the airport being RT virally globally accompanied by hashtags #FreeEvo

Bolivia denounces "Kidnapping" of its President and violation of the Vienna Convention

La Paz, July 2 (ABI). - Bolivia denounced the "kidnapping" of its president Evo Morales, prevented takeoff from Vienna, Austria, where he landed Tuesday afternoon emergency, after France and Portugal first and then Italy and Spain refused after authorize the use of its airspace and airports, leading Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera denounced, in La Paz, the violation of the Vienna Convention and to seek expressions of international outrage.


"From 4pm until this hour, is 10h35, President Evo still parked at the airport in Vienna. Want Bolivians say, we want to tell the world that President Evo Morales, our president, President of the Bolivian , today is abducted in Europe and we want to tell the people of the world that President Evo Morales has been hijacked by imperialism and is held in Europe, "Garcia Linera denounced during a special press issue in the main courtyard of the Presidential Palace in La Paz.

Accompanied by the Cabinet as a whole in their quality of Bolivian president in office, Garcia Linera denounced also the flagrant violation of the Vienna Convention regarding the official flights and use of airspace and airports, previously consented.

posted by infini at 12:21 AM on July 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is adorable. Violating the Vienna convention in Vienna.

From the Guardian's live updates


We have translated more tweets from Argentinian president, Cristina Kirchner. She says she is in regular contact with Morales and has expressed outrage at the ongoing diplomatic incident.

The president said she had spoken to Morales on the phone, and offered legal assistance.

According to the Guardian’s translations, Kirchner said “if Austria does not let them out or wants to check the plane, he can present to the International Court of Justice to ask for a preliminary injunction.”

“I don’t know whether to laugh or cry,” she continued, adding that they can send a judge to Austria.

“Mother of God! What a world!” she exclaimed.

Kirchner said she had spoken to Uruguay president José Mujica who was “indignant” at the “humiliating situation”, and she agreed.

Kirchner said she will also speak again with president Rafael Correa of Ecuador.

6.50am BST

Photographs of president Morales and defence minister Ruben Saavedra Soto at the Vienna international airport have arrived:

posted by infini at 12:44 AM on July 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wikipedia

Juan Evo Morales Ayma or El Indio (English: The Indian),(born October 26, 1959), popularly known as Evo (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈeβo]), is a Bolivian politician and activist, who has served as President of Bolivia since 2006.

"I see what is happening in Bolivia as a very significant act of affirmation of diversity [which is opposite to] racism, elitism and militarism, which leave us blind to our marvellous existence, to that rainbow that we are"

The Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano
posted by infini at 12:52 AM on July 3, 2013


“Decisive hours for UNASUR! Either we graduated from the colonies, or we claim our independence, sovereignty and dignity. We are all Bolivia!” @Evo Morales

South American nations furious over diversion of Bolivian president's plane
posted by jeffburdges at 1:03 AM on July 3, 2013


It's as if they're trying to piss huge swathes of the global community off rather than trying to limit damage from Snowden's revelations.

Most likely they are completely unaware of this aspect. After all, the majority of the world's population is mostly worthless indios at the bottom of the pyramid, not worth worrying about, aka the Other 90% as the Cooper Hewitt labels them.
posted by infini at 1:27 AM on July 3, 2013


The American government probably severely underestimates how much it's hated by people 'south of the border'. They're itching for an opportunity to get out from under our thumb. Pulling a stunt like this severely jeopardizes stuff like the drug war.
posted by empath at 1:40 AM on July 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's astonishing how the USA comes across as being simultaneously weak and bullying. It must have exerted immense amounts of influence to get Austria's neighbours to consent to this, but at the end of the day what is the point? Even if Snowden is on the plane (and how embarrassing if he were not!) and even if he is somehow arrested without claiming the right of asylum ... so what? Will the USA be in a better position as a result? The cat is out of the bag; we all know that Midas has goats' ears.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:06 AM on July 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


...was rerouted to Austria after France and Portugal refused to let it cross their airspace...

No worries about Portugal. The government there is crumbling today and the Foreign Minister just resigned. The resignations mean the ruling government has lost its majority. Fun times.
posted by vacapinta at 2:12 AM on July 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Guardian live blogging:
This is very strange. AP is reporting that both French and Spanish officials have denied refusing to let Morales's plane cross their respective airspace.
posted by moody cow at 2:21 AM on July 3, 2013


Evidently the first rule of Flight Club is that you don't talk about it.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:24 AM on July 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


This reminds me Harrison's deathworld trilogy, where DinAlt finally figures out why the crazy plants on the planet were increasingly getting crazier even as the local populace increasingly improved their defences. They were empaths picking up the hostility and feeding it back into the unending loop.
posted by infini at 2:58 AM on July 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Let them play football
posted by infini at 3:02 AM on July 3, 2013


France let the mass murderer Mobutu Sese-Seko cross its airspace to go shopping in Paris. It allowed Bokassa to live in luxury within its borders, even though it was known that he ordered the massacre of a hundred school children (among other outrages).

France welcomes mass murderers with bonhomie, but refuses to allow the possibility of someone who exposed surveillance against the French public to cross their airspace for a few hours.
posted by banal evil at 4:04 AM on July 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


plus Roman Polanski.
posted by empath at 4:17 AM on July 3, 2013


That Deathworld story is one of my favourites and is a glorious sendup of imperialism.
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:20 AM on July 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


France welcomes mass murderers with bonhomie

"He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." Exhibit 1: former CIA employee Luis Posada Carriles

As that article points out, "Posada Carriles has never been formally accused, much less prosecuted on US soil, for his participation in terrorist actions... This, despite US authorities having qualified him as a terrorist suspect and placing him on the official no-fly list for commercial flights in this country."
posted by Mister Bijou at 4:40 AM on July 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


infini: "Let them play football"

We have always been fooled by your Potemkin presidents.
posted by moody cow at 5:02 AM on July 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Say no more, here is the real life person bouncing that power ball around. Meanwhile Donald Trump and local Ugandan millionaire businessman exchange rude tweets on whose country is more corrupt and likely to pocket these billions for no good programs.
posted by infini at 5:44 AM on July 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


From Der Spiegel: How the NSA Targets Germany and Europe
Part 2: Spying on the European Union
Part 3: NSA 'Alliances With Over 80 Major Global Corporations'

posted by Joe in Australia at 5:48 AM on July 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Where did the rumor originate? Searching Evo Morales' jet might provide cover to plant bugs. But it looks like the search was carried out by Austria, and I have no idea whether they're friendly enough to help us out like that.

It wouldn't be the first time we tried bugging a president's airplane.
posted by compartment at 10:05 AM on July 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


compartment: I think you wanted to link to something like this.

Also, I got the impression it was an Austrian diplomat that searched the plane, not a random Austrian (or US agent).

Regardless, I'm not sure how fruitful such a bug would be, unless they want to hear the Bolivian President raging about the treatment received by various European countries and the strategies he was going to pursue to diplomatically punish them.
posted by el io at 10:24 AM on July 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm just waiting for John Cleese to show up.

Carry On, the NSA!
posted by infini at 10:32 AM on July 3, 2013


severely jeopardizes stuff like the drug war.

Would that be the same 'war' where Barry Seal served with honour?
posted by rough ashlar at 10:43 AM on July 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Puts on tinfoil hat:are we entirely sure that this entire case isn't being deliberately badly handled by someone being paid by the US' rivals

Why 'paid' VS just tossing grit into the gears in the hopes the machine fails sooner rather than later?
posted by rough ashlar at 10:46 AM on July 3, 2013


el io: Also, I got the impression it was an Austrian diplomat that searched the plane, not a random Austrian (or US agent).
Not clear on why you seem to be implying a diplomat couldn't be a spy. As for cooperating with the US, it's been a while since we've attacked Austria, and money talks...
posted by IAmBroom at 11:24 AM on July 3, 2013


As for cooperating with the US, it's been a while since we've attacked Austria, and money talks...

Plus if the NSA really has been spying on everyone then they've probably got pictures of the entire Austrian parliament cavorting with ferrets in a wild sexual frenzy. Or something like that.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 11:31 AM on July 3, 2013


Carry On, The Austrian Parliament!
posted by infini at 12:01 PM on July 3, 2013


D'oh! Botched the link. Thank you el io, that is exactly the incident I was referring to.

I agree that bugging Morales' plane would probably result in a lot of low-value intel. But then again, Ecuador is claiming that their London embassy was bugged; their situation with Julian Assange is somewhat analogous. And in Snowden's case, bugging Morales' plane can help establish whether, when, and how Snowden might be traveling to Bolivia.

(Side note: I am delighted to see that the Guardian uses "fortnight" as a unit of time.)
posted by compartment at 12:17 PM on July 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


IAmBroom: Oh, I expect diplomats to be spies, certainly, just spies for their own country. I just expect an Austrian diplomat to be an Austrian spy, not a US spy.
posted by el io at 12:35 PM on July 3, 2013


Just doing some homework on all these countries led me to this law via the Bolivia wikipedia page:


Law of the Rights of Mother Earth
The law is considered to be the first instance of environmental law that gives legal personhood to the natural system, and may also allow for citizens to sue individuals and groups as part of "Mother Earth" in response to real and alleged infringements of its integrity.
posted by infini at 4:47 AM on July 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Evo Morales: plane rerouting over Edward Snowden 'a provocation':
The Bolivian president, Evo Morales, has called the rerouting of his plane over suspicions that the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was aboard a provocation to Latin America and urged European countries to "free themselves" from the United States.
(...)
Morales had suggested while in Russia that he would be willing to consider giving Snowden asylum in Bolivia.

"I regret this, but I want to say that some European countries should free themselves from North American imperialism," he said.
Hissing at his rank hypocrisy.

But boy, the US must be tightening the reins something fierce.
posted by moody cow at 5:39 AM on July 4, 2013


Can you help me see the hypocrisy you say is there? I'm looking but it's just not jumping out at me.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:54 AM on July 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


seanmpuckett: "Can you help me see the hypocrisy you say is there? I'm looking but it's just not jumping out at me."

Before those European countries Morales now exhorts to free themselves from North American emperialism denied his plane access to their air space Morales was reported to be keen to 'shield the denounced':
Bolivia threw a possible lifeline to the surveillance whistleblower Edward Snowden on Tuesday, telling Russian television it would consider granting him political asylum to escape from what it called the espionage network of the US "empire".
Bolivia president willing to consider Snowden asylum request:
Evo Morales said in an interview with the Russia Today television station in Moscow that Bolivia “is ready to give political asylum to the people who expose spying activities” and was willing to “enter into discussions” with Mr Snowden.
So what happened between his original statements and his plane being held up in Europe that made him change his tune?

During his time at the airport in Vienna did he learn something truly odious about Snowden that made him regret his original offer? Or was it the reminder of who truly is in power?
posted by moody cow at 6:34 AM on July 4, 2013


I'm sorry, I don't see any marked difference between the original statement and the later one. In both cases Morales is saying that he would consider a request for asylum. The phrasing is different but I don't see a significant change in tone or claw-back of intent.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:45 AM on July 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Note that back home it would be very bad politically for Morales to be seen as weak in the face of the North American Imperialists. By and large what he was elected to do was to strengthen Bolivian autonomy and reclaim the nation's pride; he's been nationalizing the petroleum industry, building up the domestic economy by restricting export trade and been very active at creating an inclusive and diverse power structure. In 2008 he ejected the US's ambassador to Bolivia from the country quite rudely (and the US then kicked Bolivia's out of DC).

So, if you're finding any hypocrisy in what he's saying I'd say you might want to look again.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:51 AM on July 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


OK, unless I'm reading this completely wrong, he is reported as saying he regrets saying that he'd be willing to consider granting Snowden asylum.
posted by moody cow at 6:55 AM on July 4, 2013


Okay, I think I see how you're reading it.

I am certain the "I regret this" clause is there not to retract the previous thought (considering asylum for Snowden), which is in a previous sentence or paragraph, but as a modifier of statements to come; it's intended to soften his judgemental critique of "some European countries".

I find it almost impossible to parse "regret" any other way; it makes no sense for him to say that he regrets offering asylum and then in the same breath chastise Europe for not being strong and independent in the face of US pressures.

A more common construct would be "I am sorry to say that..."
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:22 AM on July 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd be very happy to go with your reading, because I was very disheartened at mine. Particularly in the wake of Ecuador's retraction. Keeping my eyes peeled for further reporting. And thanks for the persistent questioning!
posted by moody cow at 7:35 AM on July 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Morales doesn't speak english so the sloppy translation probably didn't help.
What he is "regretting" is having to point out, quite rightly as as I am concerned, that some European countries should free themselves from North American.
Part of his statement on arrival in Bolivia:
Seguramente, el imperio y sus sirvientes piensan que amedrentar a un presidente debe ser como un hostigamiento o una intimidación a los pueblos y movimientos sociales que luchan por su liberación. No van a lograrlo porque no estamos en tiempos de imperios ni de colonias, es tiempo de pueblos que resisten las invasiones y los saqueos de nuestros recursos naturales
posted by adamvasco at 8:05 AM on July 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


I read it like seanmpuckett. As he lays out so well, Morales wouldn't be who he was if what you (moody cow) read it to mean had been true.

Or was it the reminder of who truly is in power?

All 7 billion of us should just kneel right now with our arses in the air, kissing the mighty jackboot. Oh wait, that'd make us pray or some such since evrything must be italicized or what was that again?
posted by infini at 8:52 AM on July 4, 2013


From Craig Murray
At least six European Union countries in addition to Britain have been colluding with the US over the mass harvesting of personal communications data, according to a former contractor to America's National Security Agency, who said the public should not be "kept in the dark"
The Guardian took down this story - see second page
Wayne Madsen, a former US navy lieutenant who first worked for the NSA in 1985 and over the next 12 years held several sensitive positions within the agency, names Denmark, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Spain and Italy as having secret deals with the US.
That is why the refused airspace to Morales' plane.
More from Craig:
The forcing down of the Bolivian President’s jet was a clear breach of the Vienna Convention by Spain and Portugal, which closed their airspace to this Head of State while on a diplomatic mission.
It has never been thought necessary to write down in a Treaty that Heads of State enjoy diplomatic immunity while engaged in diplomacy, as their representatives only enjoy diplomatic immunity as cyphers for their Head of State. But it is a hitherto unchallenged precept of customary international law, indeed arguably the oldest provision of international law.
posted by adamvasco at 12:21 PM on July 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm still shocked at how the US caused the malfunction of Morales' plane. That's some scary stuff.
posted by nightwood at 12:57 PM on July 4, 2013


Where are you getting that from?
posted by adamvasco at 1:02 PM on July 4, 2013


Morales' pilots radioed that their fuel indicator was malfunctioning and that's why they had to land. It's some scary shit that the US would go to that length to try to keep Snowden from getting asylum somewhere.
posted by nightwood at 1:05 PM on July 4, 2013


The Tale of the Re-Routed Bolivian President's Plane Is Falling Apart
posted by Golden Eternity at 1:20 PM on July 4, 2013


longbaugh: "Basically, if you're on Thatcher's xmas card list, chances are you're a dick."

Only a short while ago, Thatch and the Brits were lobbying as hard as they could to prevent German reunification. The latest revelations of GCHQ's complicity in wholesale spying on Germans and the EU administration is yet another reason why the heartland EU countries are so wary and fed up with the UK's fucking around. I think the attitude is basically either fully declare you're Airstrip One or get with the program but don't try to play both sides (badly) because nobody is satisfied with half measures.
posted by meehawl at 1:59 PM on July 4, 2013


Adamvasco, the first article you link to says
To the US and its allies, international law is no longer of any consequence. I can see no evidence that anyone in an official position has even noted the illegality of repeated Israeli air and missile strikes against Syria

I think Craig Murray is probably the last person in the world who sympathises with Bashar al-Assad, and who mourns the loss of his beloved missiles.

The second one you link does show that The Guardian took down an article "pending an investigation". This is because Wayne Madsen is a loon. The Guardian has not been shy about printing properly-sourced information and I'm very glad that they're doing the best to keep away from the tinfoil hat brigade.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:57 PM on July 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Morales' pilots radioed that their fuel indicator was malfunctioning and that's why they had to land. It's some scary shit that the US would go to that length to try to keep Snowden from getting asylum somewhere.

The Tale of the Re-Routed Bolivian President's Plane Is Falling Apart


Hmm, actually I suspect this interpretation of the "fuel gauge problem" is correct:

daily kos comment: WHAT fuel gauge?
That is just the spin you and no doubt reports are putting on the conversation between the tower and the plane. Nowhere does the pilot mention fuel guage or even fuel problems.

If you read the rather garbled wording, it is more than likely that the pilot was having to try to explain a unique situation rather than using the standard alerts he had learnt in English.

As I read it, they were unable to calculate the amount of fuel they needed to get to a further refueling airport because there was a large block of airspace which they had been banned from flying over. That was preventing them from reaching the original stopover, Lisbon. With that uncertainty, they diverted to the nearest large airport in order to resolve the political/diplomatic situation.
posted by Golden Eternity at 4:45 PM on July 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


Just out of curiosity, does anyone have a link to the original spanish for the "I regret this" quote? Did he say something like Lo siento, pero or Lo lamento, pero? That's like saying, "I'm sorry, but..."
posted by empath at 7:19 PM on July 4, 2013


He might have just said that he regretted ever saying that (throwaway line on asylum bit during interview back in moscow) if he'd known it would have led to such OECD douchebaggery.

Imagine the aircraft of the president of France being forced down in Latin America on "suspicion" that it was carrying a political refugee to safety – and not just any refugee but someone who has provided the people of the world with proof of criminal activity on an epic scale.

Imagine the response from Paris, let alone the "international community", as the governments of the west call themselves. To a chorus of baying indignation from Whitehall to Washington, Brussels to Madrid, heroic special forces would be dispatched to rescue their leader and, as sport, smash up the source of such flagrant international gangsterism. Editorials would cheer them on, perhaps reminding readers that this kind of piracy was exhibited by the German Reich in the 1930s.

The forcing down of Bolivian President Evo Morales's plane – denied airspace by France, Spain and Portugal, followed by his 14-hour confinement while Austrian officials demanded to "inspect" his aircraft for the "fugitive" Edward Snowden – was an act of air piracy and state terrorism. It was a metaphor for the gangsterism that now rules the world and the cowardice and hypocrisy of bystanders who dare not speak its name.
Via

Imagine, indeed.
posted by hugbucket at 9:42 PM on July 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


Bolivia Rejects U.S. Request for Snowden After Flight Detour

Cheeky.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:45 PM on July 4, 2013 [1 favorite]



France 'runs vast electronic spying operation using NSA-style methods'

Intelligence agency has spied on French public's phone calls, emails and internet activity, says Le Monde newspaper

posted by hugbucket at 10:30 PM on July 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


The story of the rerouting of the plane is far from falling apart.
European states were told Snowden was on Morales plane, says Spain.
Joe: This is hothing to do with I/P so please leave it the fuck out. OK.
Murray was adding to the statement: To the US and its allies, international law is no longer of any consequence.
Re Wayne Madson, I now see this theory ifeatures in his wiki page .
Poynter also rips him and the Guardian apart for this story.
posted by adamvasco at 9:13 AM on July 5, 2013


CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Friday he had decided to offer asylum to former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, who has petitioned several countries to avoid capture by Washington.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:27 PM on July 5, 2013


(Reuters) - The Obama administration on Friday urged a secret U.S. court that oversees surveillance programs to reject a request by a civil liberties group to see court opinions used to underpin a massive phone records database.

Justice Department lawyers said in papers filed in the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that the court's opinions are a unique exception to the wide access the public typically has to court records in the United States.

posted by Drinky Die at 6:54 PM on July 5, 2013


Justice Department lawyers said in papers filed in the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that the court's opinions are a unique exception to the wide access the public typically has to court records in the United States.
One of dozens of 'unique' exceptions.
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:05 PM on July 5, 2013


When states monitored their citizens we used to call them authoritarian. Now we think this is what keeps us safe
posted by homunculus at 8:26 PM on July 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


NSA leaks: UK blocks crucial espionage talks between US and Europe
posted by homunculus at 12:56 AM on July 6, 2013


Interestingly, it was the UK and Sweden that blocked the talks. Huh. And I say again, Huh. Maybe Assange has a point.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:36 AM on July 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


The NSA's mass and indiscriminate spying on Brazilians

As it does in many non-adversarial countries, the surveillance agency is bulk collecting the communications of millions of citizens of Brazil
-
The claim that any other nation is engaging in anything remotely approaching indiscriminate worldwide surveillance of this sort is baseless.

posted by Drinky Die at 6:44 PM on July 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


How Lincoln used the telegraph office to spy on citizens long before the NSA
posted by Drinky Die at 10:41 PM on July 6, 2013


Drinky Die: How Lincoln used the telegraph office to spy on citizens long before the NSA
Drinky Die, this OMG!It'sAllTheSame! breathless article is about activity by a president used exclusively during the Civil War to monitor enemy communications - when the battlefield was entirely within the United States territories.

Besides being light on details, it's plainly irrelevant to a discussion of a peace-time president monitoring civilian communications indefinitely. Whether or not it was legal and moral is debatable - but not relevant to this thread.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:06 AM on July 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


And now Brazil.
NSA has, for years, systematically tapped into the Brazilian telecommunication network and indiscriminately intercepted, collected and stored the email and telephone records of millions of Brazilians.
posted by adamvasco at 12:49 PM on July 7, 2013


Why “we only spy on foreigners” doesn’t work any more for the NSA

Europeans are unlikely to put up with a situation where a foreign government has unfettered access to their private communications. If the E.U. cannot convince the U.S. to provide their citizens with stronger legal protections, then Europeans will have a powerful incentive to switch to online services that are under the physical jurisdiction of their own democratically-elected governments. So even if the U.S. government doesn’t care about the privacy rights of Europeans, it may be forced to change its policies for economic reasons.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:20 PM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Privacy is an ancient ideal, enjoyed by people in black and white newsreels....
posted by adamvasco at 5:46 PM on July 7, 2013


Venezuela: Snowden has until Monday to respond to asylum offer
posted by Drinky Die at 5:50 PM on July 7, 2013


From DD's last link:

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey told CNN on Sunday that Snowden’s revelations have hurt U.S. diplomatic relationships and “the importance of trust.”

BWAAA-HAHAHAHA!!!
posted by JHarris at 6:58 PM on July 7, 2013 [7 favorites]


From philosopher Peter Singer: The Spying Game
posted by Going To Maine at 8:07 AM on July 8, 2013


Germany Cooperates Closely with NSA: German authorities insist they knew nothing of the NSA's Internet spying operations. But SPIEGEL research shows how closely US and German agencies work together. The German opposition is asking uncomfortable questions 11 weeks ahead of a general election.
posted by homunculus at 4:22 PM on July 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Even Le Carré's latest fiction can't do justice to Snowden.
Whistleblower and writer both finger the enemy as their own side. But the full horror of truth always outdoes the imagination.
posted by adamvasco at 7:19 PM on July 9, 2013


From adamvasco's link, four paragraphs of quotation but each one is infuriating. The emphasis is mine:

When I heard Hague say the innocent had nothing to fear, I distinctly heard Le Carré give a hollow laugh. I thought of the Lawrence family, bugged (with a Home Office warrant?) to get dodgy coppers out of a hole. I thought of British families discovering their dead offspring had their identities stolen by police, or of £250,000 a year blown on an agent infiltrating the McDonald's protest.

When a disreputable newspaper upsets the publicity image of a Hollywood celebrity, the services of Scotland Yard and the bench of judges are at his disposal. The press is universally castigated and brought to book. When agents of the state do far worse, the system gathers round to protect its own. There is no Leveson on the Met police.

Any fool can see that electronic data scooped into a "top secret" cloud are virtually free to air. That is why counsel in British trials are advised not to use email lest it be accessed by police and prosecutors. It is why a blameless Muslim lawyer found himself hauled off a Chicago plane and told by the FBI to spy for them or never get on a plane again. It is why no one's medical records would be safe from insurance companies were the NHS database to go online.

In an interview published by the Guardian on Monday, Snowden said he did not want to live in a world where "everything that I say, everything I do, everyone I talk to, every expression of creativity or love or friendship is recorded", and then stored and judged by the state for possible use. Once on the list there is no redress.


The original Snowden thread expired yesterday, but when I see its last comments in Recent Activity I keep loading it to respond. Obama has not responded nearly enough on this. "Welcoming the debate." HA.
posted by JHarris at 1:10 AM on July 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Russian guard service reverts to typewriters after NSA leaks
posted by homunculus at 1:15 PM on July 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


I think this is huge, although I don't expect it to get much traction. It shows that what has gone on wasn't something like a tap on data streams or even NSA access to servers: Microsoft's communications products have been designed to work well with the NSA's tools. The designers of one product, Skype, actually worked together with the NSA even before it was purchased by Microsoft. Basically, I would presume that every major communications product in the USA has been expressly designed to let the NSA monitor calls and emails.

Revealed: how Microsoft handed the NSA access to encrypted messages
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:59 PM on July 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well, who knows:
Snowden watch: Today’s Moscow-Havana flight taking a very odd detour that avoids the U.S.
and the update
Turns out that Aeroflot flight to Havana is diverting because of turbulence over Greenland
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:06 PM on July 11, 2013


Sorry for the link dump. The NSA slide you haven’t seen
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:10 PM on July 11, 2013


The designers of one product, Skype, actually worked together with the NSA even before it was purchased by Microsoft.

If you can't trust the Estonians, who can you trust?
posted by nightwood at 6:13 PM on July 11, 2013


Latin American complaints over U.S. spying ignore their own wiretap programs
posted by homunculus at 12:31 PM on July 12, 2013


Forget PRISM: FAIRVIEW is the NSA's project to "own the Internet"
posted by homunculus at 12:58 PM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Snowden is giving a press conference in the Russian airport
posted by chapps at 1:12 PM on July 12, 2013


Clarification... the guardian link has a video plus a "live" feed being updated by reporters, but the conference itself is over.
Appears Snowden is aiming to stay in Russia. His full statement is here
posted by chapps at 1:33 PM on July 12, 2013


Estimated number of Americans who have top-secret security clearance, according to Harper's Index: 1,400,000
posted by seemoreglass at 9:55 AM on July 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Four South American countries say they will recall some of their ambassadors after the Bolivian president's plane was banned from European airspace.
posted by homunculus at 12:50 PM on July 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


seemoreglass's figure is why I characterize this more as being the division of the US into two levels of public, one better than the other, rather than just of state secrets. The press, of course, are on the outside. Those 1.4M people can talk with each other about topics they can't with the rest of us. It really starts to be about privilege once you get to this scale.
posted by JHarris at 7:35 PM on July 13, 2013


More on Skype being pwned from the outset. Wired isn't happy about the lies: Timeline: How the World Was Misled About Government Skype Eavesdropping

I think Wired is missing the point here: NSA Even Spied on Google Maps Searches, Documents Suggest

Of course they spied on map searches. They spied on everything. Also, they're burying the lede. One of the new slides they quote says
“My target uses Google maps to scope target locations—can I use this information to determine his email address? What about the Web searches—do any look suspicious?” It adds: “XKEYSCORE extracts and databases these events, including all web-based searches, which can be retrospectively queried.”
All your search belong to them. Not just map searches. All of them. Retrospectively, which means that everybody's searches are stored.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:37 PM on July 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


Joe in Australia: More on Skype being pwned from the outset. Wired isn't happy about the lies: Timeline: How the World Was Misled About Government Skype Eavesdropping
HOLY SHIT, it just hit me.

This weekend I grew fed up with Skype's carefully tiered lock-in process, that makes it frustrating and difficult to actually shut Skype off. (On Windows, that is.)

Basically, if you hit the red "X" button, or use the menu to "Close" Skype, it minimizes to the status bar at the bottom. If you logoff, it remains active, but awaits a new login. You literally have to perform three different, non-obvious steps to shut it down. For most users, that means it runs perpetually until the computer is rebooted - and of course "Restart Skype at Startup" is a default choice.

Skype has control of both your microphone and video camera. You GIVE it permission, because: duh, it's a phone app (VOIP). But it's damned near impossible to turn off. And it's subject to an unknown (but almost certainly "generous") amount of government packet-sniffing.

Finally, it's owned by one of the most government-friendly software corporations out there - Microsoft (friendly since they plea-bargained out of the antitrust breakup situation, anyway).

Skype running on your computer is a 24-hour invitation for the government to spy on you. I don't mean to spy on your phone calls; I mean they can activate your computer mike and video cam anytime they want. Really. It's child's-play, once they have the handles from MS' design department.

Maybe it would require your IP to be listed amongst the hundreds or thousands they submit to the secret court. Well, that is: if by "require" you mean "legally require", which is of course the problem with the lack of checks & balances on this situation: if they illegally do something, who will ever know (without whistleblowers)?

--

Finally, here's the solution for Windows users:
Right-click on the desktop, and create a New > Shortcut.
Fill in the "Type the location" blank with the following code:
Taskkill /IM /T skype.exe /F
Name the "shortcut" (really a batch file) something like "Exit Skype", and click it on the desktop whenever you want to leave that zombie program. You can probably also copy this to the QuickStart bar.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:15 AM on July 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


The real solution is to not use Skype at all. Or a smartphone, for that matter.
posted by anemone of the state at 9:54 AM on July 15, 2013


anemone of the state: The real solution is to not use Skype at all. Or a smartphone, for that matter.
Or email. Or letters. Or a telephone. Or public transportation. Or tap water...

No, the real solution is not "just don't use X". The solution is to understand risks, and to mitigate them as far as possible.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:05 AM on July 15, 2013


Not to downplay the hideousness of Skype's deal with the NSA, but, for Skype for Desktop on Windows 7 or later at least, why not just right-click its taskbar icon and select Quit Skype?
posted by JHarris at 12:06 PM on July 15, 2013


For NSA chief, terrorist threat drives passion to ‘collect it all,’ observers say
posted by homunculus at 1:58 PM on July 15, 2013


Edward Snowden nominated for Nobel Peace Prize
posted by Golden Eternity at 5:48 PM on July 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


It would be an ironic coda: Obama got his prize for showing up to work; Snowden ought to get one for resigning.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:41 PM on July 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Snowden’s America, Vanunu’s Israel
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:46 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Tempora-Fried Conflict of Interest
The United Kingdom’s Government Communications Headquarters—GCHQ—was revealed to have a far more extensive collection program than the NSA’s. The program, codenamed Tempora, extracts data from international fiber-optic data cables and then collates it in a manner quite similar to the NSA’s PRISM system. But Tempora takes in more, both in scope and in scale. It stores both the content and the associated metadata of communications, unlike the NSA, which merely takes the latter. While one NSA program took in ninety-seven billion pieces of information in one month, at peak rates Tempora could do that in just over two days. And GCHQ lawyers told their NSA counterparts that “we have a light oversight regime compared to the U.S.”
posted by the man of twists and turns at 5:33 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


But the UK's program is only Tempora-ry... right?
attention, all data collectors: see? I'm not taking it seriously!
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:00 PM on July 16, 2013


O tempora o mores
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:14 PM on July 16, 2013


I wonder what they do when they come across zip bombs? They could discard them, I suppose, but what if there's actually some hidden information concealed within them?
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:27 PM on July 16, 2013


Universities Face a Rising Barrage of Cyberattacks
America’s research universities, among the most open and robust centers of information exchange in the world, are increasingly coming under cyberattack, most of it thought to be from China, with millions of hacking attempts weekly.
posted by Golden Eternity at 7:25 AM on July 17, 2013


NPR talks about a new report from the ACLU on police departments archiving license plate data. Nothing about Snowden, but privacy-relevant: Police May Know Exactly Where You Were Last Tuesday.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:18 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Snowden Effect, Continued
posted by homunculus at 12:20 PM on July 17, 2013


Reminding People About PRISM Is a Terrible PR Strategy
posted by homunculus at 3:32 PM on July 18, 2013


Germany backs away from claims NSA program thwarted five attacks
posted by homunculus at 12:09 AM on July 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think the actions taken by the US Government in relation to the following people can reasonably be classified as unjustified persecution or excessive prosecution:

Abdulelah Haider Shaye, Barrett Brown, Laura Poitras, Thomas Drake, Jacob Applebaum, Julian Assange, John Kiriakou, Shamai Leibowitz, Aaron Swartz


MIT Moves to Intervene in Release of Aaron Swartz’s Secret Service File
posted by homunculus at 12:30 PM on July 19, 2013


Is Judge Denise Lind Bradley Manning’s Biggest Enemy? At a hearing Thursday, military judge Col. Denise Lind refused to toss out ‘aiding the enemy’ and other weakly substantiated charges against Bradley Manning. Alexa O’Brien on her previous rulings and her history of deference to the prosecution.
posted by homunculus at 12:32 PM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


O tempora o mores

Senatus haec intelliget

Consul videt

and nothing's going to change.
posted by snuffleupagus at 12:40 PM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Snowden's 'Dead Man's Switch' May Just Make Him A Bigger Target
posted by homunculus at 4:23 PM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wiretapping Undersea Fiber Optics is Easy: It's Just a Matter of Money
posted by homunculus at 3:38 PM on July 22, 2013


'Key Partners': Secret Links Between Germany and the NSA.
posted by adamvasco at 10:47 AM on July 23, 2013


NSA Says It Can’t Search Its Own Emails
posted by homunculus at 11:27 AM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


German Minister Calls Security A 'Super Fundamental Right' That Outranks Privacy; German Press Call Him 'Idiot In Charge'
posted by homunculus at 11:53 AM on July 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Court Gives Chevron Access To Nine Years Of Americans' Email Metadata
posted by homunculus at 11:54 AM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dueling Amendments To Cut NSA Surveillance Funding; But One Is A Red Herring To Trick Congress
posted by homunculus at 11:54 AM on July 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Democratic establishment unmasked: prime defenders of NSA bulk spying.
posted by adamvasco at 9:44 AM on July 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


A glimpse into ANCHORY, NSA's intelligence catalog database: System culls Reuters, State Dept cables, other intelligence agency reports
posted by homunculus at 2:16 PM on July 25, 2013


I'm happy that my "establishment Democrat" congresscritter voted FOR the PRISM-killer amendment. And that a majority of Democratic reps voted opposite to the White House's request (including most of the California Dems EXCEPT Nancy Pelosi). It shows that there is hope for the Party yet...
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:28 PM on July 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


How Nancy Pelosi Saved the NSA Surveillance Program
posted by KatlaDragon at 5:35 AM on July 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


NSA snooping is hurting U.S. tech companies’ bottom line
posted by homunculus at 2:10 PM on July 26, 2013


Feds tell Web firms to turn over user account passwords: Secret demands mark escalation in Internet surveillance by the federal government through gaining access to user passwords, which are typically stored in encrypted form.
posted by homunculus at 2:13 PM on July 26, 2013


Every day in every way, people like Richard Stallman are shown to be righter and righter.
posted by JHarris at 5:14 PM on July 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Every day in every way, people like Richard Stallman are shown to be righter and righter.

I am only reminded of his famous quote that "information wants to be free" which was modified by Bradley Manning to be "information should be free." I wonder if they ever conceived of the state's interest on this viewpoint, or if they stand by the broader meaning of their quotes.
posted by Brian B. at 9:24 PM on July 26, 2013


The USAn government is bribing valets to search cars' trunks. OK, now the security industry has moved beyond "wannabe police state" and is squarely in "jumped the shark" territory.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:20 AM on July 27, 2013


NSA surveillance critics to testify before Congress: Democratic congressman Alan Grayson says hearing will help stop 'constant misleading information' from intelligence chiefs
posted by homunculus at 10:22 AM on July 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


The most prescient statement by Grayson from that last link is this:
''There has been far too much discussion of the leaker, and not enough discussion of the leak."
Which is very true. As with wikileaks the understanding of what is happening requires a thought process and so MSM especially in America has focused as much as possible on the messengers and not the message.
posted by adamvasco at 11:21 AM on July 27, 2013


Lawmakers Who Upheld NSA Phone Spying Received Double the Defense Industry Cash
posted by homunculus at 12:55 PM on July 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wyden calls Fisa court 'anachronistic' as pressure builds on Senate to act: Dick Durbin joins growing outcry among senators to rein in power of secretive court meant to serve as a check on NSA
posted by homunculus at 10:46 AM on July 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Which Citizens Are Under More Surveillance, U.S. Or European?
posted by homunculus at 4:18 PM on July 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Edward Snowden's not the story. The fate of the internet is.
The press has lost the plot over the Snowden revelations. The fact is that the net is finished as a global network and that US firms' cloud services cannot be trusted.
posted by adamvasco at 6:39 PM on July 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


That Naughton article gets a wee tad hyperbolic, but the article by Evgeny Morozov that he links to has some meat: Information Consumerism: The Price of Hypocrisy.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:43 PM on July 28, 2013


The USAn government is bribing valets to search cars' trunks. OK, now the security industry has moved beyond "wannabe police state" and is squarely in "jumped the shark" territory.

I'm assuming that your metaphor is a reference to the requests by the government for password encryption information. However, it isn't particularly apt - there's no "bribing" involved here.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:50 PM on July 28, 2013


No, I really and truly mean that the USAn government is persuading parking valets to search the trunks of cars. You might call it "demanding with menaces" rather than bribing: they're not slipping them $20 bills, but it's a condition of their being able to work at the airport.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:22 PM on July 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


The US is turning into a Paranoia LARP
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:30 AM on July 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Well, that's terrible. Thanks for the link.
posted by Going To Maine at 7:11 AM on July 29, 2013


Although there's no mention of "bribery" in the Mother Jones article either, unless I missed something.
posted by Going To Maine at 7:12 AM on July 29, 2013


Also, rereading that article yet again, it sounds like the search policies differ between airports, so this is less a "there goes that crazy government agency!" and more "there goes that crazy regional manager!" Not the most encouraging sentiment, but better than "the government has gone crazy and is stealing all your rights." Still, blech.
posted by Going To Maine at 7:32 AM on July 29, 2013


Major opinion shifts, in the US and Congress, on NSA surveillance and privacy.
Pew finds that, for the first time since 9/11, Americans are now more worried about civil liberties abuses than terrorism
posted by adamvasco at 6:22 AM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Former NSA Lawyers Attack Senator Wyden For Hinting At NSA Surveillance Excesses That Are Now Confirmed
posted by homunculus at 10:26 AM on July 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


US spies supplied intelligence on investigative journalist to NZ military
posted by homunculus at 10:32 AM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wherein things are made clear: What the N.S.A. Wants in Brazil
One of the more curious revelations from Edward Snowden’s trove of secret N.S.A. documents was a recent report that United States spy agencies have been vacuuming up communications in Brazil.
Bonus word definition: when officials publicly reveal heretofore-secret information they are apparently committing "acts of declassification".
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:20 AM on July 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


New NSA thread.
posted by homunculus at 11:01 AM on July 31, 2013


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