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Codename: ANTICRISIS GIRL
February 18, 2014 12:33 AM   Subscribe

Top-secret documents published by The Intercept reveal how GCHQ and the National Security Agency have targeted Wikileaks and "the human network that supports Wikileaks", with tactics ranging from covert surveillance to prosecution, targeting The Pirate Bay and Anonymous, urging countries to file criminal charges against Julian Assange, and secretly logging visitors to the Wikileaks website.

Wikileaks has issued a statement here.
posted by anemone of the state (178 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite

 
Last year, visitors to the Ecuadorian embassy in London were surprised to receive welcome messages from a Ugandan telephone company. It turned out the messages were coming from a foreign base station device installed on the roof, masquerading as a cell tower for surveillance purposes. Appelbaum suspects the GCHQ simply forgot to reformat the device from an earlier Ugandan operation.
posted by anemone of the state at 12:35 AM on February 18 [9 favorites]


Color me surprised.

Julian Sanchez, a research fellow at the Cato Institute who specializes in surveillance issues, says the revelations shed a disturbing light on the NSA’s willingness to sweep up American citizens in its surveillance net.

Holy crap, it's gotten so bad that the Cato Institute agrees with me on how bad it is.
posted by JHarris at 12:39 AM on February 18 [30 favorites]


It does provide more evidence that the US will not only make up charges against individuals whose journalistic activities are deemed threatening, but push other governments to do the same. And it's not just targeting people who look or talk funny that is the problem, so much as that these revelations make it increasingly difficult to trust our government across the board.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:46 AM on February 18 [11 favorites]


If like me you went "huh" at the name The Intercept, it's the new publication founded by Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Jeremy Scahill.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 12:48 AM on February 18 [7 favorites]


And that link at the bottom means that metafilter well be logged, which means that anyone who posts in this thread will be logged...
posted by happyroach at 1:02 AM on February 18 [4 favorites]


Holy crap, it's gotten so bad that the Cato Institute agrees with me on how bad it is.

Say what you will about libertarians, but obviously someone who doesn't like government really doesn't like the government listening to their phone calls.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:02 AM on February 18 [21 favorites]


It does provide more evidence that the US will not only make up charges against individuals whose journalistic activities are deemed threatening, but push other governments to do the same.

It's like they're actively working to discredit the government.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:03 AM on February 18 [2 favorites]


And that link at the bottom means that metafilter well be logged, which means that anyone who posts in this thread will be logged...

As Jacob Appelbaum said on MeFi a while back:
"The fact that I'm posting here means that with high probability some (machine, then human) analyst will read this entire page. Think on that for a moment and now consider everything you've all written. Feeling good? Feeling no change in how you might write or what you might or might not say? Wishing that MetaFilter was serving all their content over HTTPS? ... Welcome to the Cast Iron Club social graph, ladies and gentlemen of MetaFilter!".
posted by anemone of the state at 1:09 AM on February 18 [28 favorites]


And if you've been reading lots of cables on the Wikileaks site, or running a torrent of WL documents, or spending time using their brilliant new search tool, or, god forbid, emailing people affiliated with Wikileaks: There is a list, and you are on it.
posted by anemone of the state at 1:10 AM on February 18 [3 favorites]



It does provide more evidence that the US will not only make up charges against individuals whose journalistic activities are deemed threatening, but push other governments to do the same. And it's not just targeting people who look or talk funny that is the problem, so much as that these revelations make it increasingly difficult to trust our government across the board.


My sincere wish is that these activities become so over the top and such a bad joke that foreign governments, when confronted with yet another "foreign, brown, dangerous criminal accused of everything and the kitchen sink" just begin to roll their eyes and go "Whatevah, boys, we're fed up of your "Cry Wolf" and we're going home already"...

Just one of these false accusations (slander, to be honest) can cost the relevant foreign government anywhere from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars, not to mention the time wasted tracing down bad data only to find the most innocent of purposes and people at the receiving end.

Each of these lives that these abusers of surveillance power damage with their tail wagging are then left to pick up the fragments, with no recourse to any justice for the loss of livelihood, costs incurred in sheer survival or recompense for the mental and emotional toll that such activities incur.

And when it so happens, that such a case might turn out to be "a joke" or for one or two individual's personal gain, then the sheer scale of the abuse of power that our global panopticon provides the paranoid and the immoral becomes clear.

/a survivor
posted by infini at 1:11 AM on February 18 [14 favorites]


>>>>The fact that I'm posting here means that with high probability some (machine, then human) analyst will read this entire page. Think on that for a moment and now consider everything you've all written.

Yeah, I used to think that "self-censorship" was limited to places like China and whatnot, but now I do worry about what about me is being gathered online.

I have to pass through customs to return home in a few months. While there is probably nothing to worry about...
posted by KokuRyu at 1:12 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]


The importance of having evidence that our secret services really are perniciously attacking opponents of their government and collecting the electronic metadata of their opponents supporters cannot be overstated.
posted by bigZLiLk at 1:14 AM on February 18 [14 favorites]


I'll just say this -- the whole wikileaks crew have balls of steel to stand up to all of this.
posted by empath at 2:12 AM on February 18 [12 favorites]


That system code name, ANTICRISIS GIRL, sounds like something from MeFite's own cstross....possibly a character in his upcoming The Rhesus Chart.

The Panopticon certainly feels like it's metastasizing...and sadly, I don't really see any monied elites sufficiently imperiled to push for reforms. Well, nice knowing you good people, see you (or not) in the undisclosed detention camps.

It's not that I'm giving up my own (ineffective) activism, or deriding the efforts of others. It's just that I feel that in the modern state, protests and activism are essentially narcissistic gestures, social theater that you engage to assuage yourself against the onrushing tide of oppression and oligarchy. Autocracy has been the rule of human political hierarchies. As resources diminish and mineral wars rise again, we may well be seeing the result of a natural reversion to the baseline politcal condition of our species, at least for the dwindling few decades left for our biosphere.
posted by LeRoienJaune at 2:14 AM on February 18 [5 favorites]


And also, something to think about -- Snowden had access to all of this information. He knew what the NSA, etc, are capable of. And he still went through with it. I can't even imagine how hard that decision must have been.
posted by empath at 2:14 AM on February 18 [16 favorites]


Say what you will about libertarians, but obviously someone who doesn't like government really doesn't like the government listening to their phone calls.

This isn't true of the libertarians I know. They're completely happy with the govt listening to their phone calls, because 9/11.

Then they go for the 'oh yeah of course they listen, they're spies, that's what spies do, duh-huh' line of argument.
posted by colie at 2:17 AM on February 18 [9 favorites]


There is a list, and you are on it
There are lots of lists and everyone is on at least one of them.
Even if it's only the list of people not on other lists.
posted by fullerine at 2:19 AM on February 18 [4 favorites]


Dang it. Somebody got @anticrisisgirl within a few hours of this post, predictably.
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 2:43 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]


What are the current or planned alternatives to using the standard internet? Because it looks like everyone needs a personal wireless internet node that can link to anyone else's personal wireless internet node anonymously without going through corporate or governmental channels.
posted by pracowity at 2:48 AM on February 18


What are the current or planned alternatives to using the standard internet?

Tor, but it's not that anonymous.
posted by empath at 2:51 AM on February 18


pracowity: VPNs. Tor (with the caveat mentioned above). HTTPS Everywhere. Duck Duck Go. And for Android, Orbot.

*waves cheerfully to Them*
posted by FrauMaschine at 2:55 AM on February 18 [5 favorites]


Merkel Pushes For NSA-Proof European Internet
posted by infini at 3:06 AM on February 18 [3 favorites]


Merkel Pushes For NSA-Proof European Internet

Not sure what the point would be since GCHQ will just tell the NSA whatever they want to know anyway.
posted by walrus at 3:10 AM on February 18 [5 favorites]


Snowden had access to all of this information. He knew what the NSA, etc, are capable of. And he still went through with it

I am not so sure. We don't know how many documents Snowden copied - but lots - estimates vary from 50,000 to 1.7 million . As a mere contractor we can assume Snowden might have had an overview of the NSA's operations and powers - but he would not have been on many official distribution lists. Once he had copied the documents he must have known that there was only a short fuse burning that would allow him time to make his escape. So I think there may be an important distinction between "having the information" and fully understanding its scope.
posted by rongorongo at 3:44 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]


mr_roboto: Say what you will about libertarians, but obviously someone who doesn't like government really doesn't like the government listening to their phone calls.

Well, during those periods when there's a Democrat in the White House, at least.
posted by Sonny Jim at 3:45 AM on February 18 [12 favorites]


I've been involved in and written about online computer security and the people who love it since 1984, which has meant contact with spooks and other spook-like entities. If they haven't had a file on me for thirty years, they're really not doing their job.

And, as something like one in a hundred people in the US has some form of security clearance, and I expect that constituency to be vastly over-represented on MeFi, I think we can all safely conclude that we're in multiple network graphs with multiple highlighted points of interest.

In my case - knock yourselves out, my spooky pals, if you think I'm doing anything online that will repay your investment. If this ends up as stuff anyone tries to use against me for any reason (and I can't think why, but people are strange and people in secretive positions of power can be very strange indeed), the trouble is it'll get out.

That's the big problem with intelligence like this; every time you use it, you risk losing it. We are not powerless in the face of Big Brother and his Big Data, and we shouldn't act as if we are.
posted by Devonian at 3:55 AM on February 18 [11 favorites]


where visitors were surprised to receive welcome messages from a Ugandan telephone company. It turned out the messages were coming from a foreign base station device installed on the roof, masquerading as a cell tower for surveillance purposes. Appelbaum suspects the GCHQ simply forgot to reformat the device from an earlier Ugandan operation.

Every mobile network has ports for Lawful Interception. You don't need to set up a phony operator to tap calls made on the mobile network - the existing operators are already at your service.

I am a little bit dubious about this. It would have been far simpler, one would think, to simply exploit the backdoors built into the existing network than to set up a phony one.
posted by three blind mice at 3:55 AM on February 18


Not sure what the point would be since GCHQ will just tell the NSA whatever they want to know anyway.

And if not GCHQ then the US has plenty of sweeteners to offer elsewhere, either for access or cooperation. The US is rumoured to have operated 'black' sites in Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Latvia and Bulgaria. It also has substantial military bases across Europe.
posted by MuffinMan at 4:00 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]


Even if it's only the list of people not on other lists.

I'm stealing this idea for my next comedy spy thriller: An agency trawling the internets looking for the most innocuous data signatures possible. The ostensible theory is that this set will contain the really dangerous people, the ones who know how to hide their tracks from every other system. In reality, all they get is luddite grandpas, lonely housewives and bedridden preschoolers - the real purpose of the agency is giving no-show jobs to cronies and relatives and taking the dangerous idiots out of the way of the real spies. And then the hilariously inept protagonist stumbles on a real secret government agency, one infiltrated so deep into the intelligence apparatus nobody even remembers they exist.
posted by Dr Dracator at 4:16 AM on February 18 [44 favorites]


three blind mice, it might be a nice way to engage in some unlawful interception, especially if 'lawful' would've required co-operating extensively with foreign legal systems and agencies.
posted by Dysk at 4:25 AM on February 18


Or to get a list of cell phones that (with some high probability) went into the embassy and target them for enhanced analysis. You could do it without a dedicated tower, but you'd get a lot more false positives.
posted by crocomancer at 4:28 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]


three blind mice, it might be a nice way to engage in some unlawful interception,

Mobile networks are easily hacked. For an organisation like the GCHQ lawfully or unlawfully tapping into the network is much easier than setting up a phoney base station which requires someone to climb up on a roof, an available power source, etc.

There are much easier ways for the government with its resources to spy on a mobile phone in London than setting up a phoney base station - but maybe if you are someone without the resources of the GCHQ, this is the way to go.
posted by three blind mice at 4:36 AM on February 18


There is a list, and you are on it.

Bah. I was on the list before it was cool.
posted by MartinWisse at 4:42 AM on February 18 [8 favorites]


This came up on the thread about the Ukranian protesters getting a "We're watching you" text, but for some ideas as to what the Ugandan business was all about and why you wouldn't, as a security agency, want to do it through the official channels with network operators, the Wiki entry on IMSI catching is a good starting point.
posted by Devonian at 4:47 AM on February 18


I'm stealing this idea for my next comedy spy thriller: An agency trawling the internets looking for the most innocuous data signatures possible. The ostensible theory is that this set will contain the really dangerous people, the ones who know how to hide their tracks from every other system. In reality, all they get is luddite grandpas, lonely housewives and bedridden preschoolers - the real purpose of the agency is giving no-show jobs to cronies and relatives and taking the dangerous idiots out of the way of the real spies. And then the hilariously inept protagonist stumbles on a real secret government agency, one infiltrated so deep into the intelligence apparatus nobody even remembers they exist.

The trouble, Dr Dracator, is that no one can come up with a satire so absurd that it is not doomed to come true years or decades thereafter.
posted by Z. Aurelius Fraught at 5:01 AM on February 18 [3 favorites]


There are much easier ways for the government with its resources to spy on a mobile phone in London than setting up a phoney base station - but maybe if you are someone without the resources of the GCHQ, this is the way to go.

You're assuming that the only thing the device was doing was acting as a mobile phone base station.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 5:12 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]


The trouble, Dr Dracator, is that no one can come up with a satire so absurd that it is not doomed to come true years or decades thereafter.

What are you saying, I've been quite sure for years now that they've drafted the Second City writers to come up with the scripts
posted by infini at 5:13 AM on February 18



You're assuming that the only thing the device was doing was acting as a mobile phone base station.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks


eponysterical on so many layers that its subtly delicious and I savored it melting on my tongue.
posted by infini at 5:14 AM on February 18 [6 favorites]


Why are these governments so worried? Just like they tell the people, you should only be concerned if you have something to hide. Glass towers for everyone, secrets are for terrorists and terrorist sympathizers.
posted by filthy light thief at 5:14 AM on February 18 [8 favorites]


That cartoon on the Wikileaks page was probably meant to be satirical, but does illustrate a classic organizational behavior. When an organization is threatened, it will spend more energy defending itself from the threat than actually doing it's job.

I wonder what percentage of it's time and energy the NSA is spending on tracking the effects of Wikileaks and counter-propaganda than actually watching for military threats against the US?
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 5:16 AM on February 18 [3 favorites]


These are the new Bastille walls, built to keep the aristocracy in power. I believe revolution in the US is now impossible.

Say the wrong thing and your internet access will be quietly revoked. Facebook, twitter, and social media will be monitored, blocked, or altered to discredit the poster. Keep pushing, and you'll be dubbed a terrorist and imprisoned til you learn your lesson or executed without a trial -- War on Terror style. We know everywhere you go, everything you say, everyone you love -- yeah, think about that last one late at night. We know how to hurt you.

And we can control how the rest of the world perceives you, or at least how the the dumb, aggressive ones perceive you -- good enough for government work. Look what we did to Bin Laden. You're fighting your congressman for AR-15s? Haha we have Predator drones, dummy.

You think you're innocent?? You live within the walls yourself. You shit in water cleaner than African children drink. Your walls are there. They're just a little... lower than ours. Go out and live with the others if you want. Come back when your kid dies of malaria.

Now STFU, consume your media, and get back to work, slave. Follow the rules and maybe you'll get those student loans paid off and buy a Honda Accord. Oh and get a job. Do your part to "enhance shareholder value". Gotta keep this machine running you know. My Bugatti is looking a bit haggard.

Freedom is such a beautiful dream. Was.

(Anybody want to work on a screenplay?)
posted by NiceKitty at 5:26 AM on February 18 [10 favorites]


There is a list, and you are on it.

You wish your life was that exciting.
posted by aught at 5:26 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]


As for the 'look for the most innocent, nobody's really that clean' policy - absolutely a thing, and has been for ages. You want to aim for the most typical behaviour pattern - but not so absolutely typical that you'll stand out right at the tip of the bell curve. Hide just off to one side (or better yet, piggyback on someone else who really is just the right amount of unexceptional).

Covert radio communications people have known this for a long time; hide your signal in the sidebands of someone bigger. In the end, all of this business is that of signal hide-and-seek.
posted by Devonian at 5:28 AM on February 18


The intercept is going to be amazing. :)
posted by jeffburdges at 5:39 AM on February 18 [2 favorites]


You wish your life was that exciting.

If only. The sad thing seems to be the uncritical and unthinking scooping up of all of us into the catchment. Use a cellphone? Send email? You are now "on the list," but of course the list is so large that it is useless for the original purpose of ferreting out "terrorist" activity.

And on top of that there seems to be an incredibly deeply embedded kneejerk response of security agencies to focus their energies on (almost entirely legal) domestic leftists rather than people actually planning or committing real crimes. Its both sad and useless (as well as completely corrupt), and I can totally imagine someone handwalking the drive containing all of the small donors from the Obama campaign over to the NSA as part of a big data survey.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:44 AM on February 18 [6 favorites]


You wish your life was that exciting.

Getting on a list does not require much excitement.
posted by knapah at 5:44 AM on February 18 [5 favorites]


As for the 'look for the most innocent, nobody's really that clean' policy - absolutely a thing, and has been for ages.

Something I learned in junior high. When there are multiple kids in the dean's office, the one who has never been in trouble before is the one under the most suspicion.
posted by Foosnark at 6:09 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]


Something I learned in junior high. When there are multiple kids in the dean's office, the one who has never been in trouble before is the one under the most suspicion.

It really helps to look truly, terribly lost. Like, the Doctor-is-without-his-Tardis levels of bewilderment with the situation.
posted by Slackermagee at 6:20 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]


So to those of you reading this page as part of a national security job, first, hello. How are you? I hope you're having a good day. Look, I work a 9-to-5 like everyone else. And it's a nonsense job that disappoints me almost continuously, like everyone else's, but I have to do it to keep things together because I have bills to pay and commitments to my family. So I get that, I really do.

But I'd like to ask you to just take a moment to step back and really look at what you're doing. Because I think it's important. At this point, reading this page, can you really tell yourself that what you're doing is valuable? That it's a worthwhile contribution to society? That it's something good people do?

Can you really say you're a hero for doing this? That you're protecting your country? What definition would "country" have to take on for that to be true? Is it the kind of country you want your children to live in?

I'm not asking you to blow up your life like Snowden did to make some kind of useless, symbolic gesture. Just maybe think about a different career. You don't have to be the guy that does what you're doing.

Look at it this way. You can't talk about what you do because it's uber-secret and you've got a massive clearance and the whole point of your job is that you don't talk about it. But that's not the real reason you don't talk about it, is it? You wouldn't talk to the people in your life about your work even if it was allowed, would you? Because you know they could never look at you the same way. There would always be whispers that would stop when you came into the room, and people at parties would always be checking over their shoulders to make sure they knew where you were.

It doesn't have to be that way is all I'm saying. You could do something else. You could be proud again. Just think about it.
posted by Naberius at 6:46 AM on February 18 [22 favorites]


Omg, I love GCHQ code names.! This one even comes with a super heroine logo if you look on the PowerPoint slides
posted by Bwithh at 6:46 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]


The thing is, we're all complicit. We're not near the top of the pyramid that the system is built to stabilise, but we're some way from the bottom. We depend on "global stability" for our livelihood, and the global stability in question depends on discreetly crushing threats to it. So we may not like these things being done in our names, but the most rational thing to do is to look away, pretend that nobody is being tortured in our names, and watch another Hollywood film with computer-animated talking animals.
posted by acb at 6:48 AM on February 18 [3 favorites]


Omg, I love GCHQ code names.! This one even comes with a super heroine logo if you look on the PowerPoint slides

I'm trying to decide whether to use the name for my next FAWM track or my next Champions Online character.
posted by Foosnark at 6:57 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]


kneejerk response of security agencies to focus their energies on (almost entirely legal) domestic leftists rather than people actually planning or committing real crimes.

Come on, to understand what a 'security agency' is means understanding that it is there to protect the state from those who would wish to change it/overthrow it. They don't care about 'crimes'. They care about threats to the power of the state. That's why you can be a hard-right thug out beating up left-wingers or immigrants every weekend and you'll get very little heat from the police.

The 'security' bit in 'security agency' explicitly refers to the security of the state. That crap about stopping bad guys like Bin Laden killing citizens does not, demonstrably does not, exist.
posted by colie at 7:01 AM on February 18 [7 favorites]


You don't have to be the guy that does what you're doing.

Unless we're at Stasi levels of Oh-shit-this-is-bad, in which case he/she might be running the digital equivalent of steaming open letters in a cold basement and really cannot leave the system by his/her own choice.
posted by Slackermagee at 7:02 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]


Also, I'm giggling a bit at the excerpts like, "Unknowingly Targets a US person". They all read like something I'd pull off of a Deus Ex computer that I'd gained access to.
posted by Slackermagee at 7:04 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]


The thing is, we're all complicit. We're not near the top of the pyramid that the system is built to stabilise, but we're some way from the bottom.

No, "we" are right near the top, assuming you live in United States, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Australia or Canada:

Wikipedia: International inequality
The first group has 13% of the world's population and receives 45% of the world's PPP income. This group includes the United States, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Australia and Canada, and comprises 500 million people with an annual income level over 11,500 PPP$.
Anybody who has traveled internationally -- ironically, limited to the more wealthy among us -- will tell you this is true, if they can swallow their own shame. Sucks being shackled to student loans. For sure, the system is screwed up in the US. Sucks worse not having eaten for 3 days. The system is even more screwed up in the World at Large.

Not as simple a narrative as grarr grarr 1%ers. Most of the world is going grarr grarr 13%ers! I wish I had a good answer.

Anybody?
posted by NiceKitty at 7:04 AM on February 18 [4 favorites]


The story is worth reading all the way through, and ends with a revealing quote from the NSA's Office of General Council. If an NSA employee mistakenly spies on a US person, "it's no big deal."

If the OGC wishes to demonstrate what a minor deal it really is, they could do so by informing all accidentally surveilled Americans that they have, in fact, been accidentally surveilled.
posted by compartment at 7:04 AM on February 18


everyone you love -- yeah, think about that last one late at night. We know how to hurt you.

And we do.
posted by infini at 7:08 AM on February 18 [2 favorites]


Unless we're at Stasi levels of Oh-shit-this-is-bad, in which case he/she might be running the digital equivalent of steaming open letters in a cold basement and really cannot leave the system by his/her own choice.

Funny you should mention that. If you haven't seen this comparison of NSA data collected in terms of Stasi filing cabinets, this will drop your fucking jaw.

Think about the Stasi, think about your opinions of them, then think about what the US has become.

Let me just leave this right here: https://www.eff.org
posted by NiceKitty at 7:10 AM on February 18 [10 favorites]


And we do.

Me too, bud. I might be losing my sanity over this.
posted by NiceKitty at 7:11 AM on February 18 [2 favorites]


If I just give up and kill myself, have they still won?
posted by colie at 7:12 AM on February 18 [2 favorites]


Dunno that they've "won", but they haven't lost. Well, maybe a shareholder.

And unless you live outside of United States, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Australia or Canada, you are "they" too.
posted by NiceKitty at 7:14 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]


Oh good, I'm not "they" but only an active yet involuntary participant in their games.

NiceKitty, the only way to win this one is by mentally imaging spraying the inside of your braincase every so often with a flamethrower, followed by cement spray, then a steel box, finally a machine gun for any stray insertions left behind. Offers about 10 to 15 minutes of peace.

In other news, Psychology: A New Kind of SIGDEV
posted by infini at 7:22 AM on February 18


It's like the US is a very large organism and it has an autoimmune disease. The thought that our "anti-terrorist" assets are being tasked to watch Metafilter users debating Wikileaks is like healthy tissue being attacked. Cure the disease by killing the patient.
posted by karst at 7:27 AM on February 18 [4 favorites]


you are "they" too

Yeah, no.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 7:28 AM on February 18


I reckon you've got to hold on to not being 'they', else you've already gone mad.
posted by colie at 7:33 AM on February 18


No, but I AM "THEY". Are these my kids?? Or just some poor fucks in a far-away land put em out of your mind not my problem??

If the latter, I am "they". Yeah, we're "good people" fightin the power. Sure. WTF is wrong with us.
posted by NiceKitty at 7:37 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]


I wonder what it must be like to be able to choose your enemies; instead of having them choose you.
posted by vicx at 7:38 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]


If, by "they", we're talking about a person involved in surveilling any communications of any kind, for any purpose, then, no, I can comfortably say I am not "they".

If you mean "they" in the sense of "a citizen of a state that does those things", then, ok? I guess? Except I am just as much subject to this horseshit as anyone else in a developed nation is, if not more so.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 7:39 AM on February 18


In other news, Psychology: A New Kind of SIGDEV

Worth it for the Psychlology Concepts 101 pic!
posted by NiceKitty at 7:40 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]


The thing is, we're all complicit.

Are we? When did we ask for it? How could we make it stop?
posted by walrus at 7:40 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]


Slackermagee: "You don't have to be the guy that does what you're doing.

Unless we're at Stasi levels of Oh-shit-this-is-bad, in which case he/she might be running the digital equivalent of steaming open letters in a cold basement and really cannot leave the system by his/her own choice.
"

Yeah, about that Stasi thing...

(Not that I actually think that, but...)

Also, he pre-doged, I think, with this bit: "So much information, on so many people,”
posted by symbioid at 7:48 AM on February 18


This isn't true of the libertarians I know. They're completely happy with the govt listening to their phone calls, because 9/11.

Then they go for the 'oh yeah of course they listen, they're spies, that's what spies do, duh-huh' line of argument.


This is...not at all a libertarian point of view. Perhaps you're thinking of the Tea Party?

Say what you will about libertarians, but they were railing against this stuff long before Assange and Snowden and the NSA scandal came along.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 7:54 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]


Man I hope:
"“The lesson,” he added, “is that when a wide net is cast, almost all of what is caught is worthless. This was the case with the Stasi. This will certainly be the case with the NSA.”
But I have other ideas.
posted by NiceKitty at 7:56 AM on February 18


Its worthless for the stated cause of preventing terror attacks or maintaining party loyalty. Its what they else they use it for now that I'm not hearing anything about.
posted by Slackermagee at 7:58 AM on February 18


This is...not at all a libertarian point of view.

Sorry, I thought they were the Rand people.
posted by colie at 8:01 AM on February 18


Its worthless for the stated cause of preventing terror attacks or maintaining party loyalty.

But it keeps people employed.

Sad that it's politically impossible to stimulate the economy by building infrastructure needed to stop climate change, but putting people to work building the infrastructure only useful to a totalitarian state was no problem.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 8:03 AM on February 18 [3 favorites]


I'm not saying things are great, but it's like--how, exactly, in this day and age, would anybody "revoke one's internet access"? I mean, they could get my ISP to shut me off, at which point I would start screaming to kingdom come. But then I have a smartphone plan. So, okay, they shut off my phone service. So I go to the library. So I pay my neighbors for their wifi key. Are they going to confiscate all my devices? Stop me from holding down a job with an internet connection and a computer? At this point you pretty much have to imprison someone to keep them offline, there's not actually a quiet way to do it.

But in a way, I think that just demonstrates how pointless it is for them to be trying to exert that level of control over things. I am starting to think that this is now a lot more like Mostly Harmless and it turns out that when you hire a bunch of really talented people and you tell them to go monitor stuff and be paranoid that they turn out to be really good at monitoring stuff and being paranoid.
posted by Sequence at 8:04 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]


The Piwiki chart was...creepy. I'd figured that clicking those links could maaaybe mark down your traffic in an unfriendly log, but it's so nice and polished compared to the xkeyscore screens. Web 2.0 marketing marries McCarthy.

Also, I love that they have an internal wiki, but what a weird choice. Wiki's are great for internal institutional documentation, but not so great for permissioning access to that documentation. I'd think the framework would need heavy reworking to function as anything other than a central repository for employees. Unless it's just one department's wiki.
posted by postcommunism at 8:06 AM on February 18


...I just realized 'OGC' is the emoticon for a guy jacking off.
posted by Johann Georg Faust at 8:08 AM on February 18 [10 favorites]


colie: "This is...not at all a libertarian point of view.

Sorry, I thought they were the Rand people.
"

Rand Paul? Ayn Rand? RAND corporation?
posted by symbioid at 8:08 AM on February 18


> I'm not saying things are great, but it's like--how, exactly, in this day and age, would anybody "revoke one's internet access"?

And why would anyone want to revoke it anyway? "You are suspicious! We will now stop watching you as closely! Take that!"
posted by postcommunism at 8:09 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]


South African Rand
posted by infini at 8:10 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]


Buttle.
posted by SPUTNIK at 8:24 AM on February 18 [3 favorites]


> Yeah, I used to think that "self-censorship" was limited to places like China and whatnot, but now I do worry
> about what about me is being gathered online.

And ten times more chilling that than, even, is the thought "I have friends and asssociates, I have a spouse and kids, I have brothers and sisters, my parents are still living. If I put myself in the line of fire am I putting all of them in the line of fire also?"


> What are the current or planned alternatives to using the standard internet?What are the current or planned alternatives to using the standard internet?

Lots of people are working on wireless mesh networking. Like Tor it's not a one-button solution but at least it's less convenient to snoop. You can't just compromise some backbone nodes and collect pretty much all the traffic if there's no backbone.
posted by jfuller at 8:25 AM on February 18


Rand Paul? Ayn Rand? RAND corporation?

I'm aware that 'Ayn Rand' is a thing in America, but we don't really have it in the UK, so excuse my ignorance about the whole area.
posted by colie at 8:29 AM on February 18


So to those of you reading this page as part of a national security job, first, hello. How are you?

Given the rate at which content is generated on the internet, the likelihood that an actual person is reading it is very low. I suspect that rather than content, metadata is far more useful to them. What sets of web sites have you visited? How does that correspond to other readers of web sites? What links brought you to those sites? How frequently do you read this type of information?
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 8:30 AM on February 18


Ayn Rand wasn't published in the UK?
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 8:30 AM on February 18


Given the rate at which content is generated on the internet, the likelihood that an actual person is reading it is very low. I suspect that rather than content, metadata is far more useful to them. What sets of web sites have you visited? How does that correspond to other readers of web sites? What links brought you to those sites? How frequently do you read this type of information?

After looking at the psychology slideset, I'm curious to know if algorithms have managed to replace ethnographers, anthropologists, sociologists and user researchers? Who creates the personae of the human or are bots chasing bots around the cyberwebs?
posted by infini at 8:32 AM on February 18


Step aside from the singularity folks, the MCP is on a bad trip.
posted by infini at 8:33 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]


Ayn Rand wasn't published in the UK?

It was very popular among Indian college students when I was a wee flower but it isn't the object of blind irrational hatred that I see here. After all, there's something to be said about the concept of the second handers living off the producers outputs.
posted by infini at 8:34 AM on February 18


[Folks maybe wrap up the Rand derail please?]
posted by jessamyn at 8:36 AM on February 18


Ayn Rand wasn't published in the UK?

The books were published but if you ask the average person on the street here, or average student, they would not know who she was.

are bots chasing bots around the cyberwebs?


That's been happening for a while with online poker. The casinos themselves are obviously bots, but then people send bots to try and detect which players are humans and which are bots. You have whole rooms full of bots trying to scam bots while being detected by invisible bots as a croupier-bot looks on.
posted by colie at 8:37 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]


The 'security' bit in 'security agency' explicitly refers to the security of the state. That crap about stopping bad guys like Bin Laden killing citizens does not, demonstrably does not, exist.

Well, the first part of this statement is correct, the second part is an exaggeration. They certainly do care about Bin Laden-esque terrorists, because they're viewed as a threat to the security of the state. It's just that they also view domestic protest groups and the like, basically anyone who advocates radical change pretty much, as a threat as well. So to their view, the difference between a Bin Laden sympathizer and some college kid fantasizing about the Black Bloc is nil.

And there's supposed to be a difference between internal threats to state security, which are the province of law enforcement, and external threats, which are the province of the diplomatic, intelligence, and military 'communities'.

It is as inappropriate to use military assets or capabilities to address an internal-security threat as it would be to bring in a State Department diplomat to negotiate with a street gang as though they're a sovereign nation. Nobody ever considers the latter (and the State Dept would undoubtedly defer if it was asked), but we've allowed the military and intelligence lines to become blurred. That's the crux of the issue.

All states maintain their own security both internally and externally. It's part of the basic definition of being a functioning state. If you don't do it externally, you get overrun by other states; if you don't do it internally, you don't maintain a monopoly on violence, and you therefore become a failed state. So all states -- no exceptions -- have apparatuses for doing both (although in some cases they may not be obvious, i.e. some states don't have an obvious external security apparatus because they solve the problem diplomatically or through relationships with other states). But history has shown that when you militarize the internal security apparatus, Very Bad things tend to happen, which are ironically bad for the state itself in the long run.

There's always a tension between internal and external security, at least in modern democratic states. When dealing with external threats, states want maximum suppression of the threat, in order to preserve maximum freedom of action for the state itself. The greater degree of control and dominance you can get over external threats, the "more secure" the state becomes (though, the issue of costs comes into play eventually). But that's not true of internal threats. History has demonstrated that states which militarize their internal security apparatus trend almost inevitably towards autocracy, and then fracture internally. In other words, the desire to remove all threats to stability internally just removes the release valves (democratic dissent) which allow the state to change gracefully, and instead produces destructive, discontinuous changes of the sort that the internal-security apparatus is really afraid of. Bluntly: they create their own nightmares. Which is especially dangerous because as they push their own society closer to revolution they are more easily able to justify their existence and further oppression to elites. It's a feedback loop.

The United States has a pretty good track record -- not perfect, but pretty good, as Great Power states go -- not militarizing its internal security apparatus and creating a firewall between the military and law enforcement sufficient to allow internal dissent and vent off revolutionary pressures. As a result, the state as an entity has been going for two centuries and counting with only one really serious revolutionary attempt. Not too shabby (though the Brits do better).

Historians of the future will argue about exactly why -- I think 9/11 was involved, in that it presented the US leadership with a sort of 'outside context problem' that it wasn't sure how to react to -- but we are getting dangerously close to breaking down the last walls between internal and external security, and once broken down those walls are very hard to rebuild.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:41 AM on February 18 [23 favorites]


anyone who posts in this thread will be logged

.
posted by sudama at 8:42 AM on February 18 [2 favorites]


How come MeFi isn't https?
posted by stbalbach at 8:52 AM on February 18 [3 favorites]


They certainly do care about Bin Laden-esque terrorists, because they're viewed as a threat to the security of the state.

True in the sense that you can't have a 9/11 every week because that would cause instability in the markets and the population might start failing to turn up to work, or to buy enough stuff. But for the state to maintain its control, occasional 9/11s are just dandy though. I also agree that a state has to keep a monopoly on internal violence overall, long term.
posted by colie at 8:53 AM on February 18


How come MeFi isn't https?

I believe most recently discussed on MetaTalk in 2010.
posted by Celsius1414 at 8:55 AM on February 18


How come MeFi isn't https?

You can opt to use SSL everywhere in your preferences. If you have more https questions feel free to take them to MeTa.
posted by jessamyn at 8:56 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]


How come MeFi isn't https?
It is. In your profile, click "Use secure browsing?"
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:57 AM on February 18


> In other news, Psychology: A New Kind of SIGDEV

Dang, check out that Squeaky Dolphin slide about realtime monitoring of views and likes on youtube/facebook/blogger.
posted by postcommunism at 9:00 AM on February 18 [2 favorites]


i can feel them watching me...

*masturbates furiously*
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 9:10 AM on February 18 [3 favorites]


The thing is, we're all complicit.

I don't recall voting for a security state. I don't recall any sort of referendum on the NSA or how it should operate or how it should react to Wikileaks; nor the Patriot Act, or any other item of national security.

If by "complicit" you mean "a citizen of a country who does these things that I disapprove of and have literally no way to stop except extremely indirectly by voting for people who have no chance of getting elected anyway" then, well. You got me there, I guess.

Damn, that means I was complicit in invading Iraq too apparently. I guess I'm all kinds of guilty.
posted by Foosnark at 9:19 AM on February 18 [8 favorites]


But for the state to maintain its control, occasional 9/11s are just dandy though.

That sounds a bit like it's edging into 9/11 Truth territory; I don't think there's any real evidence to suggest that 9/11 was a planned or desired event on the part of the US leadership, at least not taken as a whole, nor that similar events are.

At most, I guess you can argue that certain destabilizing internal events are sometimes perpetuated/encouraged by certain actors within a state in order to leverage themselves into a more powerful position internally, sometimes at the expense of the state itself -- e.g. Reichstag Fire situations. But the state itself, viewed as a sort of organism, doesn't desire such things. (In fact they are frequently a symptom of very destabilizing internal struggle, indicative of a state that has already failed to maintain internal security, as the actual Reichstag Fire was.) Though when they happen, they are (of course) used opportunistically, both on the internal and external fronts.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:28 AM on February 18 [2 favorites]


Dutch government tried to hide the truth about metadata collection.
posted by kiltedtaco at 10:18 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]


They're not shy about compromising attorney-client privileges either, especially when it involves national security issues like clove cigarettes and shrimp exports.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 10:20 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]


This was all predicted by Rockwell thirty years ago, but did you listen? Noooo...
posted by entropicamericana at 10:22 AM on February 18 [3 favorites]


U.S. citizen sues Ethiopia for allegedly using computer spyware against him in the US
posted by infini at 11:22 AM on February 18


Luna Lovegood: We believe you, by the way. That He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is back, and you fought him, and the Ministry and the Prophet are conspiring against you and Dumbledore.

Harry Potter: Thanks. Seems you're about the only ones that do.

Luna Lovegood: I don't think that's true. But I suppose that's how he wants you to feel.

Harry Potter: What do you mean?

Luna Lovegood: Well if I were You-Know-Who, I'd want you to feel cut off from everyone else. Because if it's just you alone you're not as much of a threat.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:55 AM on February 18 [7 favorites]


Am I going off the deep end if I have to try to defend Cato Institute? Forget they might be so-called this or that. They do believe in the Amendment 4 of the constitution, as do or did most Americans at some point, and that, amendment, it seems is now obsolete...in fact NSA, in one of their no longer secret documents, told the incoming Pres. Bush, that it might be necessary to rethink (ie, disregard) the 4th Amendment in light of the electronic age. And that was written prior to 9/11 and the Patriot Act

"Washington, D.C., March 11, 2005 - The largest U.S. spy agency warned the incoming Bush administration in its "Transition 2001" report that the Information Age required rethinking the policies and authorities that kept the National Security Agency in compliance with the Constitution's 4th Amendment prohibition on "unreasonable searches and seizures" without warrant and "probable cause," according to an updated briefing book of declassified NSA documents posted today on the World Wide Web."
posted by Postroad at 12:21 PM on February 18 [3 favorites]


Dang, check out that Squeaky Dolphin slide about realtime monitoring of views and likes on youtube/facebook/blogger.

They want to keep a constant finger on the pulse of public opinion, allowing them to defuse, divert, or discredit any opposition before it becomes a threat.
posted by anemone of the state at 1:19 PM on February 18 [1 favorite]


That's just ridiculous. Sounds like something a paranoiac would say. Say, check out the latest antics of bad-boy Justin Bieber over here!
posted by entropicamericana at 1:30 PM on February 18 [1 favorite]


Re: Reichstag fire

Today most historians believe that van der Lubbe really lit the fire, and that Hitler and his associates, taken by surprise, really believed a communist coup had begun.

p. 107 Anatomy of Fascism, Robert O. Paxton

Is this erroneous? I was under the impression Paxton is reliable.
posted by bukvich at 2:05 PM on February 18


Why shouldn't we spy on the largely anonymous stateless crypto anarachist collective organized around gathering and publishing state secrets?
posted by humanfont at 4:08 PM on February 18


Why shouldn't we spy on the largely anonymous stateless crypto anarachist collective organized around gathering and publishing state secrets?

Because they and their supporters have rights, just like everyone else.
posted by anemone of the state at 4:20 PM on February 18 [4 favorites]


Latest Leak Shows NSA Spied On A US Law Firm Representing A Foreign Government In A Trade Dispute
posted by homunculus at 6:54 PM on February 18 [2 favorites]


Because they and their supporters have rights, just like everyone else.

If that's the case, what do you think does constitute a legitimate foreign intelligence target?
posted by kiltedtaco at 8:58 PM on February 18


I've been following this stuff ever since reading the books The Cuckoo's Egg and Cyberpunk followed by some forays into fiction like Neuromancer and I gotta say the real stories are far more compelling, but the crazy future shit is coming up on us and it ain't gonna warn us. Oh wait, we were warned.

I've been reading MeFi since 2001 and in recent years we've all grumbled and sort of joked about the silliness of the NSA actually reading MetaFilter or facebook and I've joked about it and slowly moved into taking it more seriously and started really ranting just before the Snowden stuff blew up. The last NSA post I remember commenting that a lot of people seem genuinely concerned about ending up on lists but what use are they?

The water is definitely being turned up to a boil but I can see the motherfuckers doing it right out of the corner of my eye and it's always been like this childish fantasy for me to live in this world but not be fucked over by it, for the digital espionage disinfo.com MKULTRA stuff to just be for the LULZ, distant bullshit, but it's kind of hard not to notice the pitch increasing.

Ahh, shit.
posted by lordaych at 9:01 PM on February 18 [1 favorite]


And all of the sketchy stuff we learn about the US's recent past seems like something we've progressed past, but it's just shit we know about in some detail because it happened and is over with and some of the pain has worn off. Hoo boy, no more MKULTRA right? Not exactly, but we'll parlay that work into enhanced interrogation techniques. No more experimenting on unwilling suspects like in the Tuskegee experiment? No sir, but let's blow up a few nuclear reactors and see how it affects people nearby. Ahhh, LOL, that Nixon, sure was a scoundrel what with the illegal spying and shit? But now it's a different time bro, just keep your head down and check out this flappy bird shit.

Meanwhile I just keep trying new strains of the chronic (yay Colorado) and new bourbons and it keeps me nice and numb at night. Sleep, me worry?
posted by lordaych at 9:04 PM on February 18


If that's the case, what do you think does constitute a legitimate foreign intelligence target?

Fuck it. We should just give up any pretense at what's abusive about all this and just launch drones at journalists.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:05 PM on February 18 [3 favorites]


I think I'm experiencing the "good new days" fallacy. Has someone coined that yet? Where you just assume you're better than the previous generations because you can see their skid marks all over history. Those fuckin' people. Anyway, I almost broke 600K in Bejeweled Blitz mothafuckaz
posted by lordaych at 9:07 PM on February 18 [1 favorite]


Well David Gregory had a good point when he concern-trolled Glenn Greenwald with the [uncharitable paraphrase, watch yourself] "so how does it feel to aid and abet terrorists and therefore be a terrorist and not a fluffy fart rose journalist like MOI?" I think it's only in our best interests to launch Hellfire missiles from drones at journalists. Particularly the cheap 100 pound ones that are just "high explosive" rounds sort of recently designed for those situations where you want to take a precision guided badass missile intended to take out tanks and just make a big firey boom that kills people instead of tanks.
posted by lordaych at 9:11 PM on February 18


I don't think there's any real evidence to suggest that 9/11 was a planned or desired event on the part of the US leadership

You mean like by these evil bastards?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:13 PM on February 18 [1 favorite]


If that's the case, what do you think does constitute a legitimate foreign intelligence target?

Hostile foreign governments.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:17 PM on February 18 [1 favorite]


> You can opt to use SSL everywhere in your preferences.

Thanks for making this available. I verified the MeFi Fingerprints and it is working, no man in the middle. Right now. I did find a man in the middle when going to Google recently, pretty freaky.
posted by stbalbach at 11:36 PM on February 18 [1 favorite]


Not to alarm anyone or spread rumors- I am not %100 sure it was a man in the middle to Google, may be a limitation of the Fingerprint service verifying large organizations like Google.
posted by stbalbach at 12:01 AM on February 19


- humanfont: Why shouldn't we spy on the largely anonymous stateless crypto anarachist collective organized around gathering and publishing state secrets?
+ anemome of the state: Because they and their supporters have rights, just like everyone else.
- kiltedtaco: If that's the case, what do you think does constitute a legitimate foreign intelligence target?
+ Aelfwine Evenstar: Hostile foreign governments.
+ Blazecock Pileon: Fuck it. We should just give up any pretense at what's abusive about all this and just launch drones at journalists.

It is telling, when you really push people to the wall with news of bad things done by the authorities over them, what side they turn out to be on.

To those of you who look at this and say, effectively, "Pshaw! It could be much worse," I reply, oh certainly. But everything can be worse; that statement is rhetorically void. I covered this with the Infinite Weasel Theorem. You can say things could be worse forever, or at least right up until the moment when your breath dies away.

That doesn't mean that it isn't bad now,
or that it's not much worse than most of us thought,
or that this isn't a frightening step towards it getting worse,
or that the ease with which you defend it isn't kind of offputting.
posted by JHarris at 12:07 AM on February 19 [6 favorites]


It is telling, when you really push people to the wall with news of bad things done by the authorities over them, what side they turn out to be on.

So we are either with jHarris or against him. Those against him hate our freedom. Anyone asking questions is probably a secret Muslim.
posted by humanfont at 5:13 AM on February 19


Let me get this straight. He posts about how both arguments "it could be worse" and "it is currently bad" can coexist, and your response is to polarize the debate? And if there are any secret Muslims asking questions, I expect them to be on the side defending WikiLeaks anyway.

With that said, I think this particular issue is a misleading distraction. The US government—which has ironically promised more transparency, mind you—already said there was demonstrably no real harm caused by the release of those cables, for instance. It was embarrassing for some people who deserved to be embarrassed, but if you read the cables, they're nothing more than what you would expect something like the BBC to report.

Even if we're going by the potential harm WikiLeaks can do, it's less than the empirical harm already done by certain government agencies. Furthermore, the potential harm of WikiLeaks is really the same as any journalist with a backbone, while just an example of the potential harm of certain government agencies is the mutually assured destruction of entire states and populations.

So, I can see why it's upsetting if you're not on his "side" in this matter.
posted by Johann Georg Faust at 8:55 AM on February 19 [1 favorite]


Polarizing the debate? I think you ought to reconsider the target of your attack. I asked a question and was assigned to side. If you want a less polarized debate, how about not assigning participants into categories and clamming that you now know which side people are on. These accusations are a bit like the Obama is a secret Muslim BS.
posted by humanfont at 9:34 AM on February 19


TOP SECRET//SI//ORCON//NOFORN

CHATROOM THREAT REPORT

http://www.metafilter.com/136748/Codename-ANTICRISIS-GIRL

MOST PARTICIPANTS DEEMED MOSTLY HARMLESS.

THE FOLLOWING KNOWN AGITATORS REQUIRE ENHANCED FOLLOW-UP MONITORING:

█████████████████████████████████████
█████████████████████████████████████
█████████████████████████████████████
█████████████████████████████████████
█████████████████████████████████████
█████████████████████████████████████
█████████████████████████████████████

END REPORT

posted by double block and bleed at 9:46 AM on February 19 [3 favorites]


Take my wife, please!
posted by infini at 10:42 AM on February 19


You mean like by these evil bastards?

Jeez, for a second I thought that was Leland Palmer in the second row.
posted by aught at 1:12 PM on February 19


Humor helps me through bad things that I can't do a damned thing to stop.
posted by double block and bleed at 1:55 PM on February 19


humanfont, if your statement is intended to be merely a straight question then sure, and I'll admit I'm wrong about it.

If it's a leading question, which is a popular rhetorical tactic around here, effectively saying "SO ACCEPT YOUR RAMPANT AND OMNISCIENT SPYING also take your castor oil," then I'm going to stick with seeing you as being on a side. It did look like a leading question, and apparently anemome of the state thought so too.
posted by JHarris at 2:07 PM on February 19


If that's the case, what do you think does constitute a legitimate foreign intelligence target?

Hostile foreign governments.


What about legitimate (possibly Jihadi) terrorist organizations that may not be associated with any government?

If agents of hostile governments are posing as common citizens, is it okay to spy on them? (I'm not refering to wikileaks or anything, but if Russia or Iran or whoever know we won't spy on non-governmental organizations, wouldn't they just put all of their spying operations into such organizations?)

Also, is it okay to spy on a foreign government to determine if it is hostile? If we can't really know otherwise, and they have thousands of nuclear warheads and are developing hypersonic missiles that are impervious to any missile defense and could deliver them to us in less than a couple of hours?

Just out of curiosity, how much time does wikileaks spend exposing abuse of privacy and other atrocities in Russia, China, etc? (serious question)
posted by Golden Eternity at 2:21 PM on February 19


What about legitimate (possibly Jihadi) terrorist organizations that may not be associated with any government?

Then how about getting a warrant, like the law provides, rather than MONITOR EVERYTHING.
posted by JHarris at 2:28 PM on February 19


(If you say that FISA's approval counts, well, we might hit a place where there's constructive argument to be made there. Because FISA has largely been a rubber stamp, if its composition was less one-sided maybe we wouldn't be having these discussions?)
posted by JHarris at 2:29 PM on February 19


It isn't much of a conversation if you are going to put words in my mouth.
posted by humanfont at 2:35 PM on February 19


Just out of curiosity, how much time does wikileaks spend exposing abuse of privacy and other atrocities in Russia, China, etc? (serious question)

The Syria Files

Whistleblower website Wikileaks has made 35 censored videos of civil unrest in Tibet available in a bid to get round the "great firewall of China".

WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange has won the Amnesty 2009 New Media Award for work exposing hundreds of recent extrajudicial assassinations in Kenya.

Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, which publishes secret government and corporate documents online, has materials specifically about Russia that haven’t been published yet and Novaya Gazeta will help make them public, the newspaper said on its website today.
posted by anemone of the state at 2:50 PM on February 19 [4 favorites]


It isn't much of a conversation if you are going to put words in my mouth.

I quoted your words as given. If you weren't making a leading question then fine, I'm sorry and mistaken, I've already said I would be wrong in that case. You have to understand, though, that it's possible for an honest reader to misinterpret your intent. Vagarities of language and all.
posted by JHarris at 3:10 PM on February 19 [1 favorite]


What about legitimate (possibly Jihadi) terrorist organizations that may not be associated with any government?

But this isn't really the problem with the NSA. If this was all they were doing we wouldn't be having this conversation. Either way, I don't see what "possibly Jihadi terrorist organizations" have to do with Wikileaks other than that neither of them seem to be cowed by the American Military-Congressional-Industrial complex...which is more than we can say for most Americans and Europeans.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 7:16 PM on February 19 [2 favorites]


google search on (psychology-new-kind-sigdev site:stackexchange.com) finds nothing.

If I wanted to find whether or not there is real science behind what appears pure pareidolia where whould I look?
posted by bukvich at 6:27 AM on February 20


If like me you went "huh" at the name The Intercept, it's the new publication founded by Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Jeremy Scahill.

And now Matt Taibbi has joined First Look: Start-Up Site Hires Critic of Wall St.

Thank You, Rolling Stone

His last Rolling Stone article: The Vampire Squid Strikes Again: The Mega Banks' Most Devious Scam Yet
posted by homunculus at 12:43 PM on February 20 [3 favorites]


The Testing Ground for the New Surveillance: Oakland, California
posted by homunculus at 4:02 PM on February 20 [1 favorite]


Hostile foreign governments.

This just moves the goalposts because it requires you to define what a "hostile" foreign government is.

It's also naive, in that it ignores the long history that countries have of spying on their own allies, sometimes with even more interest than they spy on their avowed 'enemies.' With your enemy, you may know exactly how you stand relative to each other; with an 'ally' with whom you must negotiate constantly, there might be significant advantage in knowing their inner process.

This cuts both ways. Israel and Taiwan, just to name two US 'allies' in particular, have both devoted significant resources over the years to infiltrating US agencies for their own ends. This isn't unexpected, when you consider that both countries probably owe their existence (certainly past, maybe continued) to their relationship with the US and a change in the US posture towards them could be an existential threat of sorts. So, of course they spy. And presumably the US spies on them.

C'est la diplomatie.
posted by Kadin2048 at 4:57 PM on February 20


This just moves the goalposts because it requires you to define what a "hostile" foreign government is.

Well there really aren't any goalposts to move anymore, are there? I mean at this point it doesn't matter who you are, friend or foe, the U.S. government reserves the right to know everything about you. I would think more folks would find these kind of totalizing behaviors disturbing...you know what with our supposedly democratic system codifying more and more practices which have historically been associated with totalitarian systems of social organization.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 7:55 PM on February 20 [1 favorite]


So I guess the better question is: what do you think doesn't constitute a legitimate intelligence target?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 7:58 PM on February 20 [4 favorites]


It is possible that Wikileaks or another organization would be a legitimate intelligence target; but that what's being done after making that decision is out of proportion to the threats and concerns, or that it is inconsistent with our broader objectives and values.
posted by humanfont at 9:27 PM on February 20 [1 favorite]


I would say this: Wikileaks is a valid intelligence target in as much as the NSA and CIA should probably find out what their sources of funding are, their motivations and so on, but I think that once they've established that they are a legitimate, but unconventional journalistic enterprise, that should have been the end of it. If they had discovered that they were secretly funded by the chinese as a way to induce Americans into revealing secrets (or something similar), then that would have been a different story.
posted by empath at 2:36 AM on February 21 [1 favorite]


Writing The Snowden Files: 'The paragraph began to self-delete'

By September the book was going well – 30,000 words done. A Christmas deadline loomed. I was writing a chapter on the NSA's close, and largely hidden, relationship with Silicon Valley. I wrote that Snowden's revelations had damaged US tech companies and their bottom line. Something odd happened. The paragraph I had just written began to self-delete. The cursor moved rapidly from the left, gobbling text. I watched my words vanish. When I tried to close my OpenOffice file the keyboard began flashing and bleeping.

Over the next few weeks these incidents of remote deletion happened several times. There was no fixed pattern but it tended to occur when I wrote disparagingly of the NSA. All authors expect criticism. But criticism *before publication* by an anonymous, divine third party is something novel. I began to leave notes for my secret reader. I tried to be polite, but irritation crept in. Once I wrote: "Good morning. I don't mind you reading my manuscript – you're doing so already – but I'd be grateful if you don't delete it. Thank you." There was no reply.

posted by KatlaDragon at 7:40 AM on February 21 [4 favorites]


They are still working on the best method for replies. But their own actions are creating barriers against international cooperation on the existing prototypes.
posted by infini at 8:49 AM on February 21


Bruce Schneier: It's time to break up the NSA
posted by homunculus at 11:18 AM on February 21 [5 favorites]


KatlaDragon, given the theatricality of the situation given in that article, I can't help but think it'd be stupid for the NSA to actually do something like that, even if it's possible (like with remote key insertion). It sounds more like a keyboard problem.

Of course, given the size of the issue and the nature of some of the things US intelligence agencies have been documented as doing, I can't say for sure, and that itself is an indication of how pretty darn bad it is. It's an environment that encourages paranoia.
posted by JHarris at 11:40 AM on February 21


Meet Jack. Or, What The Government Could Do With That Location Data
posted by homunculus at 6:44 PM on February 21 [1 favorite]


Will US condemn UK for using terrorism laws to suppress journalism?
posted by homunculus at 11:29 PM on February 21 [1 favorite]


In other whistleblower news: Imprisoned CIA Whistleblower John Kiriakou Threatened with ‘Diesel Therapy,’ Suffers Shakedowns for Talking to Press

Previously.
posted by homunculus at 12:11 PM on February 22 [3 favorites]


NSA moves from bugging German Chancellor to bugging German ministers: Forbidden from listening to Angela Merkel's calls, US spy agency finds workaround.
posted by homunculus at 4:46 PM on February 24 [1 favorite]


How Covert Agents Infiltrate the Internet to Manipulate, Deceive, and Destroy Reputations
posted by homunculus at 11:09 PM on February 24 [7 favorites]


Holy crap. In my opinion, everyone on Metafilter should read that last link.
posted by JHarris at 12:27 AM on February 25 [2 favorites]


empath, here's the thing. What if it turned out that Snowden was working for China or Russia from the first. It wouldn't mean thing one about the necessity of the information he uncovered. Especially given the kinds of tactics in that last link of homunculus', who is to say that people working "for" our country wouldn't encourage that kind of contribution just to discredit the leaker?

Every time a new revelation comes out, I become more and more shocked that anyone can defend these agencies. They are caustic -- not in the sense of being sarcastic, but derived figuratively from the sense of destroying flesh. And still I wonder, what's next.
posted by JHarris at 1:20 AM on February 25 [2 favorites]


I'm not defending the NSA's investigation of wikileaks or how it was carried out -- but if we are to have A) classified information and B) an intelligence service, the surely it's the job of the intelligence service to investigate systematic leaks of classified information -- what is being leaked, by who, to whom and for what reason.

Now, how and whether they should take any action on it, is a different story.
posted by empath at 3:43 AM on February 25 [1 favorite]


Holy crap. In my opinion, everyone on Metafilter should read that last link.

This chart is really something else.
posted by empath at 3:46 AM on February 25


Also: What the hell is "Magic Techniques And Experiment"?
posted by empath at 3:49 AM on February 25


Also: What the hell is "Magic Techniques And Experiment"?

The rather bizarre presentation by the "Human Science Operations Cell" looks like a rather political attempt by the unit's management to put themselves on a level platform with the (presumably much larger and better funded group of engineers) who are doing "SIGDEV". In this context, the chart empath links to reads something like "You may think we are all a bit namby-pamby but what we do is really, REALLY big and complicated - a bit like all that stuff you chaps do with those router things; now give us our funding".

I am guessing, even at GCHQ, there might be people who would question the legitimacy and effectiveness of these tactics. Hopefully they would not be mollified by the use of the word "magic".
posted by rongorongo at 6:46 AM on February 25 [2 favorites]


Holy crap. In my opinion, everyone on Metafilter should read that last link.

New thread.
posted by homunculus at 7:21 PM on February 25 [1 favorite]


This lecture is the one primer you need on NSA surveillance technology
posted by homunculus at 5:45 PM on February 28


On the technical side, I absolutely loved Poul-Henning Kamp's FOSDEM keynote NSA operation ORCHESTRA: Annual Status Report.
posted by jeffburdges at 4:27 PM on March 3


Keith Alexander Supports Law To Gag Press So He Can Get His Preferred Online Surveillance Bill Passed
posted by jeffburdges at 8:52 AM on March 5


Probe: Did the CIA spy on the U.S. Senate?

CIA and senators in bitter dispute over Capitol Hill spying claims
posted by homunculus at 12:07 AM on March 6 [2 favorites]


he he he

Spy vs Spy?
posted by infini at 12:59 AM on March 6


Spy vs Lie
posted by jeffburdges at 5:40 AM on March 6 [1 favorite]


Hacking Team’s US Nexus
posted by jeffburdges at 7:36 AM on March 6


Middle Schoolers Win C-SPAN Prizes for NSA Documentaries
posted by homunculus at 1:30 PM on March 6


A Day of Speaking Truth to Power
Visiting the ODNI

posted by infini at 2:55 AM on March 7 [3 favorites]


Snowden Gives Testimony To European Parliament Inquiry Into Mass Surveillance, Asks For EU Asylum
posted by homunculus at 12:18 PM on March 7 [1 favorite]


The NSA Has An Advice Columnist. Seriously.
posted by homunculus at 12:19 PM on March 7 [2 favorites]


I like to think that advice column is called Ask Zelda because IT'S A SECRET TO EVERYBODY.
posted by JHarris at 10:27 PM on March 7


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