Inplainview News Weblog - 2013: Intelligence Leaks

2013-09-06 Danny Yadron. Despite NSA Advances, the Internet Still Holds Some Secrets

The latest leaked documents from NSA contractor Edward Snowden show the government has used mathematical breakthroughs and pressure on companies to get around some types of encryption. The U.S. government’s cryptographic breakthroughs include the standard used by e-commerce websites and webmail clients, including Google’s Gmail, according to reports Thursday in the New York Times, Guardian and ProPublica.
But nothing released this week suggests NSA can now crack all types of encryption. Some of the protocols it appears to have bypassed have had known flaws and in other cases, the government has convinced companies to give them part of the encryption keys or other assistance. Cryptologists meantime remain skeptical the government has the ability to take a peek at all types of properly encrypted messages.
ecurity experts meantime insist there are several forms of encryption, for now, that would be mathematically impractical to break on a large scale.
One of them, they say, is PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) encryption, which allows users to encrypt emails on their computer before sending them. (These are different from webmail, where the provider – such as Google, Yahoo, Microsoft – holds the key.)
There are still risks of course. In the past, the U.S. government has hacked computers using encrypted technology to view what keys are being hit, former U.S. officials have said.

2013-09-02 U.S. spied on presidents of Brazil, Mexico: report

The U.S. National Security Agency spied on the communications of the presidents of Brazil and Mexico, a Brazilian news program reported, a revelation that could strain U.S. relations with the two biggest countries in Latin America.
The report late Sunday by Globo's news program "Fantastico" was based on documents that journalist Glenn Greenwald obtained from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Greenwald, who lives in Rio de Janeiro, was listed as a co-contributor to the report.
"Fantastico" showed what it said was an NSA document dated June 2012 displaying passages of written messages sent by Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, who was still a candidate at that time. In the messages, Pena Nieto discussed who he was considering naming as his ministers once elected.
A separate document displayed communication patterns between Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and her top advisers, "Fantastico" said, although no specific written passages were included in the report.

2013-09-01 Carol D.Leonnig, Julie Tate, Barton Gellman. U.S. intelligence agencies spend millions to hunt for insider threats, document shows

The U.S. government suspects that individuals with connections to al-Qaeda and other hostile groups have repeatedly sought to obtain jobs in the intelligence community, and it reinvestigates thousands of employees a year to reduce the threat that one of its own may be trying to compromise closely held secrets, according to a classified budget document.
The CIA found that among a subset of job seekers whose backgrounds raised questions, roughly one out of every five had “significant terrorist and/or hostile intelligence connections,” according to the document, which was provided to The Washington Post by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.
The groups cited most often were Hamas, Hezbollah, and al-Qaeda and its affiliates, but the nature of the connections was not described in the document.

2013-09-01 SCOTT SHANE, COLIN MOYNIHAN. Drug Agents Use Vast Phone Trove, Eclipsing N.S.A.’s

The Hemisphere Project, a partnership between federal and local drug officials and AT&T that has not previously been reported, involves an extremely close association between the government and the telecommunications giant.
The government pays AT&T to place its employees in drug-fighting units around the country. Those employees sit alongside Drug Enforcement Administration agents and local detectives and supply them with the phone data from as far back as 1987.
The scale and longevity of the data storage appears to be unmatched by other government programs, including the N.S.A.’s gathering of phone call logs under the Patriot Act. The N.S.A. stores the data for nearly all calls in the United States, including phone numbers and time and duration of calls, for five years.
Hemisphere covers every call that passes through an AT&T switch — not just those made by AT&T customers — and includes calls dating back 26 years, according to Hemisphere training slides bearing the logo of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Some four billion call records are added to the database every day, the slides say; technical specialists say a single call may generate more than one record. Unlike the N.S.A. data, the Hemisphere data includes information on the locations of callers.
The Obama administration acknowledged the extraordinary scale of the Hemisphere database and the unusual embedding of AT&T employees in government drug units in three states.
But they said the project, which has proved especially useful in finding criminals who discard cellphones frequently to thwart government tracking, employed routine investigative procedures used in criminal cases for decades and posed no novel privacy issues.
Crucially, they said, the phone data is stored by AT&T, and not by the government as in the N.S.A. program. It is queried for phone numbers of interest mainly using what are called “administrative subpoenas,” those issued not by a grand jury or a judge but by a federal agency, in this case the D.E.A.
Brian Fallon, a Justice Department spokesman, said in a statement that “subpoenaing drug dealers’ phone records is a bread-and-butter tactic in the course of criminal investigations.”

2013-08-30 Barton Gellman, Ellen Nakashima. U.S. spy agencies mounted 231 offensive cyber-operations in 2011, documents show

U.S. intelligence services carried out 231 offensive cyber-operations in 2011, the leading edge of a clandestine campaign that embraces the Internet as a theater of spying, sabotage and war, according to top-secret documents obtained by The Washington Post.
That disclosure, in a classified intelligence budget provided by NSA leaker Edward Snowden, provides new evidence that the Obama administration’s growing ranks of cyberwarriors infiltrate and disrupt foreign computer networks.
Additionally, under an extensive effort code-named GENIE, U.S. computer specialists break into foreign networks so that they can be put under surreptitious U.S. control. Budget documents say the $652 million project has placed “covert implants,” sophisticated malware transmitted from far away, in computers, routers and firewalls on tens of thousands of machines every year, with plans to expand those numbers into the millions.
The documents provided by Snowden and interviews with former U.S. officials describe a campaign of computer intrusions that is far broader and more aggressive than previously understood. The Obama administration treats all such cyber-operations as clandestine and declines to acknowledge them.
The scope and scale of offensive operations represent an evolution in policy, which in the past sought to preserve an international norm against acts of aggression in cyberspace, in part because U.S. economic and military power depend so heavily on computers.
“The policy debate has moved so that offensive options are more prominent now,” said former deputy defense secretary William J. Lynn III, who has not seen the budget document and was speaking generally. “I think there’s more of a case made now that offensive cyberoptions can be an important element in deterring certain adversaries.”
Of the 231 offensive operations conducted in 2011, the budget said, nearly three-quarters were against top-priority targets, which former officials say includes adversaries such as Iran, Russia, China and North Korea and activities such as nuclear proliferation. The document provided few other details about the operations.
Most offensive operations have immediate effects only on data or the proper functioning of an adversary’s machine: slowing its network connection, filling its screen with static or scrambling the results of basic calculations. Any of those could have powerful effects if they caused an adversary to botch the timing of an attack, lose control of a computer or miscalculate locations.
U.S. intelligence services are making routine use around the world of government-built malware that differs little in function from the “advanced persistent threats” that U.S. officials attribute to China. The principal difference, U.S. officials told The Post, is that China steals U.S. corporate secrets for financial gain.
“The Department of Defense does engage” in computer network exploitation, according to an e-mailed statement from an NSA spokesman, whose agency is part of the Defense Department. “The department does ***not*** engage in economic espionage in any domain, including cyber.”
The NSA unit’s software engineers would rather tap into networks than individual computers because there are usually many devices on each network. Tailored Access Operations has software templates to break into common brands and models of “routers, switches and firewalls from multiple product vendor lines,” according to one document describing its work.
The implants that TAO creates are intended to persist through software and equipment upgrades, to copy stored data, “harvest” communications and tunnel into other connected networks. This year TAO is working on implants that “can identify select voice conversations of interest within a target network and exfiltrate select cuts,” or excerpts, according to one budget document. In some cases, a single compromised device opens the door to hundreds or thousands of others.
Sometimes an implant’s purpose is to create a back door for future access. “You pry open the window somewhere and leave it so when you come back the owner doesn’t know it’s unlocked, but you can get back in when you want to,” said one intelligence official, who was speaking generally about the topic and was not privy to the budget. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive technology.
Under U.S. cyberdoctrine, these operations are known as “exploitation,” not “attack,” but they are essential precursors both to attack and defense.
By the end of this year, GENIE is projected to control at least 85,000 implants in strategically chosen machines around the world. That is quadruple the number — 21,252 — available in 2008, according to the U.S. intelligence budget.
Most GENIE operations aim for “exploitation” of foreign systems, a term defined in the intelligence budget summary as “surreptitious virtual or physical access to create and sustain a presence inside targeted systems or facilities.” The document adds: “System logs and processes are modified to cloak the intrusion, facilitate future access, and accomplish other operational goals.”
The NSA designs most of its own implants, but it devoted $25.1 million this year to “additional covert purchases of software vulnerabilities” from private malware vendors, a growing gray-market industry based largely in Europe.
“The United States is moving toward the use of tools short of traditional weapons that are unattributable — that cannot be easily tied to the attacker — to convince an adversary to change their behavior at a strategic level,” said another former senior U.S. official, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive operations.
China and Russia are regarded as the most formidable cyber­threats, and it is not always easy to tell who works for whom. China’s offensive operations are centered in the Technical Reconnaissance Bureau of the People’s Liberation Army, but U.S. intelligence has come to believe that those state-employed hackers by day return to work at night for personal profit, stealing valuable U.S. defense industry secrets and selling them.
Iran is a distant third in capability but is thought to be more strongly motivated to retaliate for Stuxnet with an operation that would not only steal information but erase it and attempt to damage U.S. hardware.
The “most challenging targets” to penetrate are the same in cyber-operations as for all other forms of data collection described in the intelligence budget: Iran, North Korea, China and Russia. GENIE and ROC operators place special focus on locating suspected terrorists “in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Iraq, Somalia, and other extremist safe havens,” according to one list of priorities.

2013-08-29 KEVIN POULSEN. New Snowden Leak Reports ‘Groundbreaking’ NSA Crypto-Cracking

The latest published leak from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden lays bare classified details of the U.S. government’s $52.6 billion intelligence budget, and makes the first reference in any of the Snowden documents to a “groundbreaking” U.S. encryption-breaking effort targeted squarely at internet traffic.
Snowden, currently living in Russia under a one-year grant of asylum, passed The Washington Post the 178-page intelligence community budget request for fiscal year 2013. Among the surprises reported by Post writers Barton Gellman and Greg Miller is that the CIA receives more money than the NSA: $14.7 billion for the CIA, versus $10.8 billion for the NSA. Until this morning it’s generally been believed that the geeky NSA, with its basements full of supercomputers, dwarfed its human-oriented counterparts.
Overhead imagery captured by spy satellites was slated for reduction, for example, while SIGINT, the electronic spying that’s been the focus of the Snowden leaks, got a fresh infusion.
“Also,” Clapper writes in a line marked “top secret,” “we are investing in groundbreaking cryptanalytic capabilities to defeat adversarial cryptography and exploit internet traffic.”
The Post’s article doesn’t detail the “groundbreaking cryptanalytic capabilities” Clapper mentions, and there’s no elaboration in the portion of the document published by the paper. But the document shows that 21 percent of the intelligence budget — around $11 billion — is dedicated to the Consolidated Cryptologic Program that staffs 35,000 employees in the NSA and the armed forces.

2013-08-25 Ye.Chernenko, A.Gabuev, K.Belyanina. Cuba denied transit for Snowden

2013-08-24 ADAM GOLDMAN, KIMBERLY DOZIER. Snowden covered his tracks

The U.S. government’s efforts to determine which highly classified materials leaker Edward Snowden took from the National Security Agency have been frustrated by Snowden’s sophisticated efforts to cover his digital trail by deleting or bypassing electronic logs, government officials told The Associated Press. Such logs would have showed what information Snowden viewed or downloaded.
The government’s forensic investigation is wrestling with Snowden’s apparent ability to defeat safeguards established to monitor and deter people looking at information without proper permission, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the sensitive developments publicly.
The disclosure undermines the Obama administration’s assurances to Congress and the public that the NSA surveillance programs can’t be abused because its spying systems are so aggressively monitored and audited for oversight purposes: If Snowden could defeat the NSA’s own tripwires and internal burglar alarms, how many other employees or contractors could do the same?
In defending the NSA surveillance programs that Snowden revealed, Deputy Attorney General James Cole told Congress last month that the administration effectively monitors the activities of employees using them.
“This program goes under careful audit,” Cole said. “Everything that is done under it is documented and reviewed before the decision is made and reviewed again after these decisions are made to make sure that nobody has done the things that you’re concerned about happening.”
The disclosure of Snowden’s hacking prowess inside the NSA also could dramatically increase the perceived value of his knowledge to foreign governments, which would presumably be eager to learn any counter-detection techniques that could be exploited against U.S. government networks.
It also helps explain the recent seizure in Britain of digital files belonging to David Miranda — the partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald — in an effort to help quantify Snowden’s leak of classified material to the Guardian newspaper. Authorities there stopped Miranda last weekend as he changed planes at Heathrow Airport while returning home to Brazil from Germany, where Miranda had met with Laura Poitras, a U.S. filmmaker who has worked with Greenwald on the NSA story.

2013-08-23 Ben Wolfgang. Obama: NSA surveillance programs ‘loaded gun’ that can be abused if unchecked

President Obama strongly defended National Security Agency surveillance programs on Friday morning but acknowledged that, if unchecked, they could easily be abused.
“There are legitimate concerns that people have that technology is moving so quick that, at some point, does the technology outpace the laws that are in place and the protections that are in place?” Mr. Obama told CNN’s Chris Cuomo. “Do some of these [surveillance] systems end up being like a loaded gun out there that somebody at some future point could abuse?”
The president — sitting down with CNN while on a two-day bus tour through upstate New York and Pennsylvania — also conceded that the American people aren’t convinced by his assurances, or those of congressional leaders, that the federal government isn’t listening to citizens’ phone calls and reading emails.
Public skepticism has been fueled by recent disclosures that the NSA looked at as many as 56,000 emails and other electronic communications of Americans over a three-year period, despite them having no connection to terrorism.
“This can only work if the American people trust what’s going on,” Mr. Obama said. “People don’t have enough information and aren’t confident enough that between all of the safeguards and checks we put in place in the executive branch, and the federal court oversight, and the congressional oversight, people are still concerned that their emails are being read … We’re going to have to continue to improve the safeguards.”
While acknowledging Americans’ fears and concerns, the president added that he’s “confident” the NSA surveillance are not being abused right now.

2013-08-23 Dan Roberts. NSA analysts deliberately broke rules to spy on Americans, agency reveals

US intelligence analysts have deliberately broken rules designed to prevent them from spying on Americans, according to an admission by the National Security Agency that undermines fresh insistences from Barack Obama on Friday that all breaches were inadvertent.
A report by the NSA's inspector general is understood to have uncovered a number of examples of analysts choosing to ignore so-called "minimisation procedures" aimed at protecting privacy, according to officials speaking to Bloomberg.
"Over the past decade, very rare instances of wilful violations of NSA's authorities have been found," the NSA confirmed in a statement to the news agency. "NSA takes very seriously allegations of misconduct, and cooperates fully with any investigations – responding as appropriate. NSA has zero tolerance for willful violations of the agency's authorities."
Though likely to be a small subset of the thousands of supposedly accidental rule breaches recently revealed by the Washington Post, these cases flatly contradict assurances given by President Obama that the NSA was only ever acting in good faith.
In his CNN interview Obama said: "What's been clear since the disclosures that were made by Mr Snowden is that people don't have enough information and aren't confident enough that, between all the safeguards and checks that we put in place within the executive branch, and the federal court oversight that takes place on the program, and congressional oversight, people are still concerned as to whether their emails are being read or their phone calls are being listened to."
"I recognise that we're going to have to continue to improve the safeguards and, as technology moves forward, that means that we may be able to build technologies that give people more assurance, and we do have to do a better job of giving people confidence in how these programs work."
The president hinted at a series of concessions and reforms likely to take place in the coming weeks as Congress returns and responds further to the revelations of sweeping surveillance powers triggered by the Snowden leaks.
"I am open to working with Congress to figure out, can we get more transparency in terms of how the oversight court works? Can – do we need a public advocate in there who people have confidence in?" Obama said.
"There's no doubt that, for all the work that's been done to protect the American people's privacy, the capabilities of the NSA are scary to people."

2013-08-23 Duncan Campbell , Oliver Wright , James Cusick , Kim Sengupta. Exclusive: UK’s secret Mid-East internet surveillance base is revealed in Edward Snowden leaks

Britain runs a secret internet-monitoring station in the Middle East to intercept and process vast quantities of emails, telephone calls and web traffic on behalf of Western intelligence agencies, The Independent has learnt.
The station is able to tap into and extract data from the underwater fibre-optic cables passing through the region.
The information is then processed for intelligence and passed to GCHQ in Cheltenham and shared with the National Security Agency (NSA) in the United States. The Government claims the station is a key element in the West’s “war on terror” and provides a vital “early warning” system for potential attacks around the world.
The Independent is not revealing the precise location of the station but information on its activities was contained in the leaked documents obtained from the NSA by Edward Snowden. The Guardian newspaper’s reporting on these documents in recent months has sparked a dispute with the Government, with GCHQ security experts overseeing the destruction of hard drives containing the data.
The Middle East installation is regarded as particularly valuable by the British and Americans because it can access submarine cables passing through the region. All of the messages and data passed back and forth on the cables is copied into giant computer storage “buffers” and then sifted for data of special interest.
Information about the project was contained in 50,000 GCHQ documents that Mr Snowden downloaded during 2012. Many of them came from an internal Wikipedia-style information site called GC-Wiki. Unlike the public Wikipedia, GCHQ’s wiki was generally classified Top Secret or above.
The disclosure comes as the Metropolitan Police announced it was launching a terrorism investigation into material found on the computer of David Miranda, the Brazilian partner of The Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald – who is at the centre of the Snowden controversy.
Scotland Yard said material examined so far from the computer of Mr Miranda was “highly sensitive”, the disclosure of which “could put lives at risk”.
The Independent understands that The Guardian agreed to the Government’s request not to publish any material contained in the Snowden documents that could damage national security.
As well as destroying a computer containing one copy of the Snowden files, the paper’s editor, Alan Rusbridger, agreed to restrict the newspaper’s reporting of the documents.
The Government also demanded that the paper not publish details of how UK telecoms firms, including BT and Vodafone, were secretly collaborating with GCHQ to intercept the vast majority of all internet traffic entering the country. The paper had details of the highly controversial and secret programme for over a month. But it only published information on the scheme – which involved paying the companies to tap into fibre-optic cables entering Britain – after the allegations appeared in the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. A Guardian spokeswoman refused to comment on any deal with the Government.
A senior Whitehall source said: “We agreed with The Guardian that our discussions with them would remain confidential”.
But there are fears in Government that Mr Greenwald – who still has access to the files – could attempt to release damaging information.
One of the areas of concern in Whitehall is that details of the Middle East spying base which could identify its location could enter the public domain.
The data-gathering operation is part of a £1bn internet project still being assembled by GCHQ. It is part of the surveillance and monitoring system, code-named “Tempora”, whose wider aim is the global interception of digital communications, such as emails and text messages.
Across three sites, communications – including telephone calls – are tracked both by satellite dishes and by tapping into underwater fibre-optic cables.
Access to Middle East traffic has become critical to both US and UK intelligence agencies post-9/11. The Maryland headquarters of the NSA and the Defence Department in Washington have pushed for greater co-operation and technology sharing between US and UK intelligence agencies.
The Middle East station was set up under a warrant signed by the then Foreign Secretary David Miliband, authorising GCHQ to monitor and store for analysis data passing through the network of fibre-optic cables that link up the internet around the world
The certificate authorised GCHQ to collect information about the “political intentions of foreign powers”, terrorism, proliferation, mercenaries and private military companies, and serious financial fraud.
However, the certificates are reissued every six months and can be changed by ministers at will. GCHQ officials are then free to target anyone who is overseas or communicating from overseas without further checks or controls if they think they fall within the terms of a current certificate.
The precise budget for this expensive covert technology is regarded as sensitive by the Ministry of Defence and the Foreign Office.
However, the scale of Middle East operation, and GCHQ’s increasing use of sub-sea technology to intercept communications along high-capacity cables, suggest a substantial investment.

2013-08-23 Ewen MacAskill. NSA paid millions to cover Prism compliance costs for tech companies

The National Security Agency paid millions of dollars to cover the costs of major internet companies involved in the Prism surveillance program after a court ruled that some of the agency's activities were unconstitutional, according to top-secret material passed to the Guardian.
The technology companies, which the NSA says includes Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Facebook, incurred the costs to meet new certification demands in the wake of the ruling from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (Fisa) court.
The October 2011 judgment, which was declassified on Wednesday by the Obama administration, found that the NSA's inability to separate purely domestic communications from foreign traffic violated the fourth amendment.
While the ruling did not concern the Prism program directly, documents passed to the Guardian by whistleblower Edward Snowden describe the problems the decision created for the agency and the efforts required to bring operations into compliance. The material provides the first evidence of a financial relationship between the tech companies and the NSA.
Special Source Operations, described by Snowden as the "crown jewel" of the NSA, handles all surveillance programs, such as Prism, that rely on "corporate partnerships" with telecoms and internet providers to access communications data.
The disclosure that taxpayers' money was used to cover the companies' compliance costs raises new questions over the relationship between Silicon Valley and the NSA. Since the existence of the program was first revealed by the Guardian and the Washington Post on June 6, the companies have repeatedly denied all knowledge of it and insisted they only hand over user data in response to specific legal requests from the authorities.
Prism operates under section 702 of the Fisa Amendments Act, which authorises the NSA to target without a warrant the communications of foreign nationals believed to be not on US soil.
But Snowden's revelations have shown that US emails and calls are collected in large quantities in the course of these 702 operations, either deliberately because the individual has been in contact with a foreign intelligence target or inadvertently because the NSA is unable to separate out purely domestic communications.

2013-08-23 Siobhan Gorman. NSA Officers Sometimes Spy on Love Interests

National Security Agency officers on several occasions have channeled their agency’s enormous eavesdropping power to spy on love interests, U.S. officials said.
The practice isn’t frequent — one official estimated a handful of cases in the last decade — but it’s common enough to garner its own spycraft label: LOVEINT.
Spy agencies often refer to their various types of intelligence collection with the suffix of “INT,” such as “SIGINT” for collecting signals intelligence, or communications; and “HUMINT” for human intelligence, or spying.
The “LOVEINT” examples constitute most episodes of willful misconduct by NSA employees, officials said.
The LOVEINT violations involved overseas communications, officials said, such as spying on a partner or spouse. In each instance, the employee was punished either with an administrative action or termination.
Most of the incidents, officials said, were self-reported. Such admissions can arise, for example, when an employee takes a polygraph tests as part of a renewal of a security clearance.

2013-08-22 David Barrett. Scotland Yard launch criminal investigation over David Miranda data

Police are examining tens of thousands of documents which David Miranda had stored on his laptop and other electronic devices when he was stopped and held for nine hours under counter-terrorism laws.
Officers from Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism command, SO15, have yet to complete their examination of the material but they believe its disclosure would be “gravely injurious to public safety”, a court heard.
Jonathan Laidlaw QC, appearing for Scotland Yard to oppose a legal challenge by Mr Miranda, said: “That which has been inspected contains, in the view of the police, highly sensitive material the disclosure of which would be gravely injurious to public safety and thus the police have now initiated a criminal investigation.
“I am not proposing to say anything else which might alert potential defendants here or abroad to the nature and the ambit of the criminal investigation which has now been started.”
He added that the material amounted to “tens of thousands of highly classified UK documents”.
The scope of the police investigation remains unclear.
Details of the inquiry emerged for the first time as lawyers for Mr Miranda won a limited injunction to stop police carrying out further examination of the data seized as he was in transit through the airport on Sunday August 18.
Mr Miranda’s QC, Matthew Ryder, claimed the detention at Heathrow had been illegal and police acted unlawfully in seizing “journalistic material”.
Mr Miranda was granted a temporary order against the police but, crucially, officers will be allowed to continue analysing the data “for the purposes of national security”.
The broad exception means the police will be able to continue most, if not all, of the work which Mr Miranda was seeking to block.
A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “Initial examination of material seized has identified highly sensitive material, the disclosure of which could put lives at risk.
“As a result the Counter Terrorism Command has today begun a criminal investigation.”
The Home Office and Scotland Yard will have to provide more evidence of the threat posed by the material at another hearing next week.
Under the terms of the order, the Metropolitan Police and the government will even be allowed to share information with foreign agencies – such as the CIA.
Mr Miranda was carrying documents on behalf of his partner Glenn Greenwald, a journalist with the Guardian newspaper who has made a series of disclosures from former CIA employee Edward Snowden about US intelligence capabilities.
He was detained under controversial powers in Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 which allow police to detain anyone at a port or airport for up to nine hours if they are suspected of involvement in “acts of terrorism”.
Mr Greenwald has indicated we would be “more aggressive” in his reporting as a result of his partner’s detention, saying: “I am going to publish things on England too. I have many documents on England’s spy system. I think they will be sorry for what they did.”

2013-08-22 Manning says is female, wants to live as a woman

U.S. soldier Bradley Manning, sentenced for leaking classified U.S. documents, said he is female and wants to live as a woman named Chelsea.
A statement from Manning was read on NBC News' "Today" program on Thursday.
Manning, 25, was sentenced on Wednesday to 35 years in a military prison for turning over classified files to WikiLeaks in the biggest breach of secret data in the nation's history.
His lawyer, David Coombs, also told NBC said he expects Manning to get pardoned.

2013-08-21 Ellen Nakashima. NSA gathered thousands of Americans’ e-mails before court ordered it to revise its tactics

For several years, the National Security Agency unlawfully gathered tens of thousands of e-mails and other electronic communications between Americans as part of a now-revised collection method, according to a 2011 secret court opinion.
The redacted 85-page opinion, which was declassified by U.S. intelligence officials on Wednesday, states that, based on NSA estimates, the spy agency may have been collecting as many as 56,000 “wholly domestic” communications each year.
In a strongly worded opinion, the chief judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court expressed consternation at what he saw as a pattern of misleading statements by the government and hinted that the NSA possibly violated a criminal law against spying on Americans.
“For the first time, the government has now advised the court that the volume and nature of the information it has been collecting is fundamentally different from what the court had been led to believe,” John D. Bates, then the surveillance court’s chief judge, wrote in his Oct. 3, 2011, opinion.
The court, which meets in secret, oversees the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the law authorizing such surveillance in the United States. It has been criticized by some as a “rubber stamp” for the government, but the opinion makes clear the court does not see itself that way.
Bates’s frustration with the government’s lack of candor extended beyond the program at issue to other NSA surveillance efforts.
“The court is troubled that the government’s revelations regarding NSA’s acquisition of Internet transactions mark the third instance in less than three years in which the government has disclosed a substantial misrepresentation regarding the scope of a major collection program,” Bates wrote in a scathing footnote.
The Washington Post reported last week that the court had ruled the collection method unconstitutional. The declassified opinion sheds new light on the volume of Americans’ communications that were obtained by the NSA and the nature of the violations, as well as the FISA court’s interpretation of the program.
The release marks the first time the government has disclosed a FISA court opinion in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. The lawsuit was brought a year ago by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a privacy group.

2013-08-20 David Miranda: 'They forced me to give my passwords'

David Miranda, the Brazilian man held under controversial anti-terrorist legislation for nine hours in London, has told the BBC he felt very threatened in relentless questioning during his detention.
Mr Miranda, the partner of Glenn Greenwald - the journalist who exposed a US electronic surveillance programme - said it was a repeated threat that he would face jail if he did not cooperate that forced him to disclose the passwords to all his email and social media accounts.

2013-08-19 Alan Rusbridger. David Miranda, schedule 7 and the danger that all reporters now face

Miranda is not a journalist, but he still plays a valuable role in helping his partner do his journalistic work. Greenwald has his plate full reading and analysing the Snowden material, writing, and handling media and social media requests from around the world. He can certainly use this back-up. That work is immensely complicated by the certainty that it would be highly unadvisable for Greenwald (or any other journalist) to regard any electronic means of communication as safe. The Guardian's work on the Snowden story has involved many individuals taking a huge number of flights in order to have face-to-face meetings. Not good for the environment, but increasingly the only way to operate. Soon we will be back to pen and paper.
The detention of Miranda has rightly caused international dismay because it feeds into a perception that the US and UK governments – while claiming to welcome the debate around state surveillance started by Snowden – are also intent on stemming the tide of leaks and on pursuing the whistleblower with a vengeance. That perception is right. Here follows a little background on the considerable obstacles being placed in the way of informing the public about what the intelligence agencies, governments and corporations are up to.
A little over two months ago I was contacted by a very senior government official claiming to represent the views of the prime minister. There followed two meetings in which he demanded the return or destruction of all the material we were working on. The tone was steely, if cordial, but there was an implicit threat that others within government and Whitehall favoured a far more draconian approach.
The mood toughened just over a month ago, when I received a phone call from the centre of government telling me: "You've had your fun. Now we want the stuff back." There followed further meetings with shadowy Whitehall figures. The demand was the same: hand the Snowden material back or destroy it. I explained that we could not research and report on this subject if we complied with this request. The man from Whitehall looked mystified. "You've had your debate. There's no need to write any more."
During one of these meetings I asked directly whether the government would move to close down the Guardian's reporting through a legal route – by going to court to force the surrender of the material on which we were working. The official confirmed that, in the absence of handover or destruction, this was indeed the government's intention. Prior restraint, near impossible in the US, was now explicitly and imminently on the table in the UK. But my experience over WikiLeaks – the thumb drive and the first amendment – had already prepared me for this moment. I explained to the man from Whitehall about the nature of international collaborations and the way in which, these days, media organisations could take advantage of the most permissive legal environments. Bluntly, we did not have to do our reporting from London. Already most of the NSA stories were being reported and edited out of New York. And had it occurred to him that Greenwald lived in Brazil?
The man was unmoved. And so one of the more bizarre moments in the Guardian's long history occurred – with two GCHQ security experts overseeing the destruction of hard drives in the Guardian's basement just to make sure there was nothing in the mangled bits of metal which could possibly be of any interest to passing Chinese agents. "We can call off the black helicopters," joked one as we swept up the remains of a MacBook Pro.
Whitehall was satisfied, but it felt like a peculiarly pointless piece of symbolism that understood nothing about the digital age. We will continue to do patient, painstaking reporting on the Snowden documents, we just won't do it in London. The seizure of Miranda's laptop, phones, hard drives and camera will similarly have no effect on Greenwald's work.
The state that is building such a formidable apparatus of surveillance will do its best to prevent journalists from reporting on it. Most journalists can see that. But I wonder how many have truly understood the absolute threat to journalism implicit in the idea of total surveillance, when or if it comes – and, increasingly, it looks like "when".
We are not there yet, but it may not be long before it will be impossible for journalists to have confidential sources. Most reporting – indeed, most human life in 2013 – leaves too much of a digital fingerprint. Those colleagues who denigrate Snowden or say reporters should trust the state to know best (many of them in the UK, oddly, on the right) may one day have a cruel awakening. One day it will be their reporting, their cause, under attack. But at least reporters now know to stay away from Heathrow transit lounges.

2013-08-19 Timothy B. Lee. Obama administration asks Supreme Court to allow warrantless cellphone searches

If the police arrest you, do they need a warrant to rifle through your cellphone? Courts have been split on the question. Last week the Obama administration asked the Supreme Court to resolve the issue and rule that the Fourth Amendment allows warrantless cellphone searches.
In 2007, the police arrested a Massachusetts man who appeared to be selling crack cocaine from his car. The cops seized his cellphone and noticed that it was receiving calls from “My House.” They opened the phone to determine the number for “My House.” That led them to the man’s home, where the police found drugs, cash and guns.
The defendant was convicted, but on appeal he argued that accessing the information on his cellphone without a warrant violated his Fourth Amendment rights. Earlier this year, the First Circuit Court of Appeals accepted the man’s argument, ruling that the police should have gotten a warrant before accessing any information on the man’s phone.
The Obama Administration disagrees. In a petition filed earlier this month asking the Supreme Court to hear the case, the government argues that the First Circuit’s ruling conflicts with the rulings of several other appeals courts, as well as with earlier Supreme Court cases. Those earlier cases have given the police broad discretion to search possessions on the person of an arrested suspect, including notebooks, calendars and pagers. The government contends that a cellphone is no different than any other object a suspect might be carrying.
But as the storage capacity of cellphones rises, that position could become harder to defend. Our smart phones increasingly contain everything about our digital lives: our e-mails, text messages, photographs, browser histories and more. It would be troubling if the police had the power to get all that information with no warrant merely by arresting a suspect.
On the other hand, the Massachusetts case involves a primitive flip-phone, which could make this a bad test case. The specific phone involved in this 2007 incident likely didn’t have the wealth of information we store on more modern cellphones. It’s arguably more analogous to the address books and pagers the courts have already said the police can search. So, as Orin Kerr points out, if the Supreme Court ruled on the case, it would be making a decision based on “facts that are atypical now and are getting more outdated every passing month.”

2013-08-18 Glenn Greenwald's partner detained at Heathrow airport for nine hours

The partner of the Guardian journalist who has written a series of stories revealing mass surveillance programmes by the US National Security Agency was held for almost nine hours on Sunday by UK authorities as he passed through London's Heathrow airport on his way home to Rio de Janeiro.
David Miranda, who lives with Glenn Greenwald, was returning from a trip to Berlin when he was stopped by officers at 8.30am and informed that he was to be questioned under schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000. The controversial law, which applies only at airports, ports and border areas, allows officers to stop, search, question and detain individuals.
The 28-year-old was held for nine hours, the maximum the law allows before officers must release or formally arrest the individual. According to official figures, most examinations under schedule 7 – over 97% – last under an hour, and only one in 2,000 people detained are kept for more than six hours.
Miranda was released without charge, but officials confiscated electronics equipment including his mobile phone, laptop, camera, memory sticks, DVDs and games consoles.
While in Berlin, Miranda had visited Laura Poitras, the US film-maker who has also been working on the Snowden files with Greenwald and the Guardian.
Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act has been widely criticised for giving police broad powers under the guise of anti-terror legislation to stop and search individuals without prior authorisation or reasonable suspicion – setting it apart from other police powers.
Those stopped have no automatic right to legal advice and it is a criminal offence to refuse to co-operate with questioning under schedule 7, which critics say is a curtailment of the right to silence.

2013-08-17 Hannah Kuchler, Helen Warrell. Snowden journalist threatens UK after partner’s arrest

The reporter who revealed mass surveillance by the US authorities warned the British government on Monday that he would expose its spying secrets after it detained his partner under the Terrorism act.
“I am going to publish many more documents. I am going to publish things on England too. I have many documents on England’s spy system. I think they will be sorry for what they did,” he told the Brazilian press.
Mr Miranda said he was quizzed about his “entire life” while detained for nine hours at London’s Heathrow airport on Sunday and had his mobile, laptop and other electronic equipment confiscated.
“I remained in a room. There were six different agents coming and going. They asked questions about my entire life, about everything,” he said.
The detention has been condemned by the Brazilian government while the UK’s Labour party has called for an investigation into why terrorism powers were used.
Mr Miranda was returning from visiting Laura Poitras, another journalist working on the story, in Berlin, and the Guardian said it had paid for his flights. But a spokesperson for the newspaper said he was not an employee of the Guardian.
On Sunday, Brazilsaid it had “grave concerns” about the detention of one of its citizens under the Terrorism Act.
The country’s foreign ministry said it was “unjustifiable” to use terrorism legislation in this way and hoped the incident was not repeated.

2013-08-17 Shaun Waterman. GOP Rep: House would have nixed NSA program

The revelation that the National Security Agency broke court-imposed privacy rules thousands of times a year in snooping Americans’ phone and email records would have changed the outcome of last month’s House vote to defund the program, according to one legislator who was part of the effort.
“We only needed seven votes to switch and I think there were at least seven, probably more like 20-30, who had their concerns about the program but were prepared to give the intelligence agencies the benefit of the doubt,” Rep. Morgan Griffith, Virginia Republican, told The Washington Times after the NSA rules violations came to light.
The House in late July voted 217-205 to defeat an amendment that would have cut funds for domestic data gathering by the NSA except where based on individualized suspicion.
Mr. Griffith says that the intelligence community, which defended the program and worked to preserve it against the legislation onslaught, misled Congress.
“We were being told there were ‘some’ errors, like a few,” Mr. Griffith said, referring to sworn congressional testimony about the domestic programs from senior intelligence, FBI and Justice Department officials. “They gave everyone the impression these [errors] were very rare. If [my colleagues] had realized how many [violations of privacy protection or legal rules] there were, I think more than seven of them would have switched.”
The existence of the NSA’s phone-records collection program was leaked by former government contractor Edward J. Snowden earlier this year.
On Thursday night The Washington Post published another set of data it said it was given earlier in the summer from Mr. Snowden, which revealed that in the 12 months prior to May 2012, there were 2,776 incidents of unauthorized collection, storage, access to or distribution of legally protected data or communications — typically those between Americans or foreigners legally in the United States.

2013-08-15 Snowden exchanges encrypted messages with father

NSA leaker, Edward Snowden, has directly communicated with his father for the first time since fleeing the US. The relatives talked on an encrypted Internet chat on Wednesday, ignoring warnings from lawyers of possible interception by US intelligence.
The move was criticized by Edward Snowden’s legal representative in Russia, Anatoly Kucherena, who urged the family to refrain from such forms of communications until father Lon Snowden arrives in Moscow.
"I understand the feelings of Edward and his father. It appears that they have turned out to be more powerful than the concern for safety,” Kucherena told Interfax news agency. “But I would recommend that they won’t get in touch via the Internet anymore and wait until meeting in person."
The decision to use the web to get in touch with his son was made by Lon Snowden “independently, in spite of legal advice from his attorneys,” an unnamed source with knowledge of the issue told ITAR-TASS news agency.
The source added that besides fears of interception by US security services such form of communication makes it problematic to verify if Lon Snowden was actually talking to his son or somebody else.

2013-08-13 PETER MAASS. Q. & A.: Edward Snowden Speaks to Peter Maass

Peter Maass conducted an encrypted question-and-answer session, for which Poitras served as intermediary, with Edward J. Snowden. Below is a full transcript of that conversation.
Edward Snowden: After 9/11, many of the most important news outlets in America abdicated their role as a check to power — the journalistic responsibility to challenge the excesses of government — for fear of being seen as unpatriotic and punished in the market during a period of heightened nationalism. From a business perspective, this was the obvious strategy, but what benefited the institutions ended up costing the public dearly. The major outlets are still only beginning to recover from this cold period.
Laura and Glenn are among the few who reported fearlessly on controversial topics throughout this period, even in the face of withering personal criticism, and resulted in Laura specifically becoming targeted by the very programs involved in the recent disclosures. She had demonstrated the courage, personal experience and skill needed to handle what is probably the most dangerous assignment any journalist can be given — reporting on the secret misdeeds of the most powerful government in the world — making her an obvious choice.
P.M.: Was there a moment during your contact with Laura when you realized you could trust her? What was that moment, what caused it?
E.S.: We came to a point in the verification and vetting process where I discovered Laura was more suspicious of me than I was of her, and I’m famously paranoid. The combination of her experience and her exacting focus on detail and process gave her a natural talent for security, and that’s a refreshing trait to discover in someone who is likely to come under intense scrutiny in the future, as normally one would have to work very hard to get them to take the risks seriously.
With that putting me at ease, it became easier to open up without fearing the invested trust would be mishandled, and I think it’s the only way she ever managed to get me on camera. I personally hate cameras and being recorded, but at some point in the working process, I realized I was unconsciously trusting her not to hang me even with my naturally unconsidered remarks. She’s good.
P.M.: Were you surprised that Glenn did not respond to your requests and instructions for encrypted communication?
E.S.: Yes and no. I know journalists are busy and had assumed being taken seriously would be a challenge, especially given the paucity of detail I could initially offer. At the same time, this is 2013, and a journalist who regularly reported on the concentration and excess of state power. I was surprised to realize that there were people in news organizations who didn’t recognize any unencrypted message sent over the Internet is being delivered to every intelligence service in the world. In the wake of this year’s disclosures, it should be clear that unencrypted journalist-source communication is unforgivably reckless.

2013-08-13 Steven Musil. Google filing says Gmail users have no expectation of privacy

As if Edward Snowden hasn't done enough to highlight how vulnerable electronic communications is to surveillance, Google has made it clear that people who send or receive e-mail via Gmail should not expect their messages to remain private.
In a 29-page motion filed in June (see below) to have a class-action data-mining lawsuit dismissed, the Web giant cites Smith v. Maryland, a 1979 Supreme Court decision that upheld the collection of electronic communications without a warrant.
"Just as a sender of a letter to a business colleague cannot be surprised that the recipient's assistant opens the letter, people who use web-based email today cannot be surprised if their emails are processed by the recipient's [e-mail provider] in the course of delivery. Indeed, 'a person has no legitimate expectation of privacy in information he voluntarily turns over to third parties.'"
Plaintiffs in the case contend that Google's automated scanning of e-mail represents an illegal interception of their electronic communications without their consent. However, Google, which uses automated scanning to filter spam and deliver targeted advertising to its users, noted that plaintiffs consented to the practice in exchange for the e-mail services. Google goes on to say that courts have held that all e-mail users "necessarily give implied consent to the automated processing of their emails."
Upon its introduction in 2004, Gmail was immediately slammed as a horrific invasion into Internet users' privacy by lawmakers and privacy advocates alike. Critics contended that it should be illegal for a company to scan the text of its customers' e-mail correspondence and display relevant advertising.
Seizing upon privacy concerns, Microsoft recently launched a campaign against Google that urges consumers to dump the service for its own Microsoft asserts its e-mail service automatically scans the contents of users' e-mails only to prevent spam, malware, and other unwanted activity.
13 January 2010 GRAHAM SMITH. Google threatens China pullout after attacks on Gmail accounts of human rights activists

2013-08-11 Obama Aims to Build Public Support for NSA Programs, Hayden Says

U.S. President Barack Obama’s call for more oversight and transparency in the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs shows that he want to make Americans “more comfortable” with the agency’s operations, former NSA director Michael Hayden said.
“The president is trying to take some steps to make the American people more comfortable about what it is we’re doing,” Hayden, who also served as director of the Central Intelligence Agency, said today on CBS’s “Face the Nation” program.
“That’s going to be hard,” because “some steps to make Americans more comfortable will actually make Americans less safe,” he said.
Obama said on Aug. 9 that he plans to work with Congress to “pursue appropriate reforms” in the NSA’s authority to collect telephone and Internet data on millions of Americans.
The president proposed changes in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which vets requests for electronic eavesdropping and operates in secret. Obama said the NSA is hiring a privacy officer and that he’ll appoint a legal advocate to serve as an adversary to the government in proceedings before the court.
“It’s not enough for me, as president, to have confidence in these programs,” Obama said. “The American people need to have confidence in them as well.”
Obama “didn’t suggest he was going to operationally change this program” and his comments show he thinks the surveillance programs aren’t “anything other than lawful, effective, and appropriate,” Hayden said.

2013-08-10 Doug Schoen. NSA Oversteps (Again)

Let me be clear, Edward Snowden will never be a hero or a patriot in my eyes. I will not argue that he is traitor, though he is certainly a criminal. And no amount of revelations as to how the NSA operates will change how I view him and what he did.
That said, there is no doubt that Snowden’s leaks have certainly raised and facilitated an important discussion of what has been shown to be questionable practices by the NSA.
As the NY Times Editorial Board put it, “[The NSA] copies virtually all overseas messages that Americans send or receive, then scans them to see if they contain any references to people or subjects the agency thinks might have a link to terrorists.”
There is little doubt that data collection at this level goes beyond what Congress authorized in 2008 with the FISA Amendments Act and any interpretation of the 4th Amendment that I am comfortable with.
Indeed, the justification for this practice comes from a NSA set of rules that Snowden leaked, which mentions that the NSA “seeks to acquire communications about the target that are not to or from the target.”
The Obama administration has justified this practice by arguing that the messages aren’t stored and are just searched. But the fact that it is deemed legitimate to search messages where the target isn’t even part of the conversation seems to be an abuse of the system.
In his press conference yesterday, President Obama addressed the scope of the NSA’s surveillance programs by laying out a four-point plan to increase transparency and restore public trust in the system. His ideas are indeed good ones and include working with Congress to reform Section 215 of the Patriot Act which authorizes the collection of telephone metadata; to improve confidence in the FISC by making sure that the court considers both security and personal liberties issues; increasing transparency by directing the intelligence community to make their work as public as possible, appointing a civil liberties and privacy officer and creating a website that will serve as a hub for transparency; and forming a high level group of outsiders to review our surveillance technologies and provide an interim report in 60 days and a final report by the end of the year on our systems and practices.
Obama was explicit: America is not interested in spying on ordinary people and America shows restraint that many governments around the world do not.
As I have argued since Snowden’s initial leak in June, I am not opposed to the NSA running telephone and email surveillance programs. In fact, I believe them to be crucial to national security and that America and Americans have benefitted from many of these practices.
Now it is crucial that we call Obama, his administration and the intelligence community to account as they have promised to. We need full congressional oversight and investigation of what is and is not going on in the NSA program. And most of all, we need bipartisan efforts to streamline and prevent overreaching of the program.

2013-08-09 James Ball, Spencer Ackerman. NSA loophole allows warrantless search for US citizens' emails and phone calls

The National Security Agency has a secret backdoor into its vast databases under a legal authority enabling it to search for US citizens' email and phone calls without a warrant, according to a top-secret document passed to the Guardian by Edward Snowden.
The previously undisclosed rule change allows NSA operatives to hunt for individual Americans' communications using their name or other identifying information. Senator Ron Wyden told the Guardian that the law provides the NSA with a loophole potentially allowing "warrantless searches for the phone calls or emails of law-abiding Americans".
The authority, approved in 2011, appears to contrast with repeated assurances from Barack Obama and senior intelligence officials to both Congress and the American public that the privacy of US citizens is protected from the NSA's dragnet surveillance programs.
The intelligence data is being gathered under Section 702 of the of the Fisa Amendments Act (FAA), which gives the NSA authority to target without warrant the communications of foreign targets, who must be non-US citizens and outside the US at the point of collection.
The communications of Americans in direct contact with foreign targets can also be collected without a warrant, and the intelligence agencies acknowledge that purely domestic communications can also be inadvertently swept into its databases. That process is known as "incidental collection" in surveillance parlance.
But this is the first evidence that the NSA has permission to search those databases for specific US individuals' communications.
A secret glossary document provided to operatives in the NSA's Special Source Operations division – which runs the Prism program and large-scale cable intercepts through corporate partnerships with technology companies – details an update to the "minimization" procedures that govern how the agency must handle the communications of US persons. That group is defined as both American citizens and foreigners located in the US.
"While the FAA 702 minimization procedures approved on 3 October 2011 now allow for use of certain United States person names and identifiers as query terms when reviewing collected FAA 702 data," the glossary states, "analysts may NOT/NOT [not repeat not] implement any USP [US persons] queries until an effective oversight process has been developed by NSA and agreed to by DOJ/ODNI [Office of the Director of National Intelligence]."
The term "identifiers" is NSA jargon for information relating to an individual, such as telephone number, email address, IP address and username as well as their name.
Assurances from Obama and senior administration officials to the American public about the privacy of their communications have relied on the strict definition of what constitutes "targeting" while making no mention of the permission to search for US data within material that has already been collected.
The day after the Guardian revealed details of the NSA's Prism program, President Obama said: "Now, with respect to the internet and emails, this doesn't apply to US citizens and it doesn't apply to people living in the United States."

2013-08-09 Patrick Thibodeau. Snowden revelations may cost U.S. cloud providers billions, says study

Edward Snowden's leaked revelations about the U.S. government's data spying program may result in U.S. cloud providers losing 10% to 20% of the foreign market to overseas competitors, according to a new study.
The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, in its report, said European companies, in particular, may successfully exploit the spying disclosures to challenge U.S. cloud computing leadership in foreign markets.
In the U.K. and France, a wiretap to get content can be issued by a government official without court authority, a practice that can't be done in the U.S.
In Germany, wiretaps also can be obtained without court approval. But with court approval, authorities can place a computer virus in a provider's network and intercept communications and metadata "without the providers or the customers even knowing about it," Weinstein said.
One survey that points to economic damage, also cited by the ITIF, was last month's Cloud Security Alliance report, which found that 10% of 207 officials at non-U.S. companies canceled contracts with U.S. service providers since the revelations of the spy program.
"I don't think PRISM does U.S. providers any favors, that's for sure," said Gartner lead cloud analyst Ed Anderson. He added that Gartner has not seen the Patriot Act, which has been cited for years by the Europeans as a privacy threat, as having any impact on U.S. cloud providers.
Similarly, Anderson said his firm has not seen any revenue impact on cloud providers since the PRISM disclosures.
"I think the reality is [the controversy over PRISM] is likely to die down over time, and we expect adoption to probably continue on the path that it has been on anyway," he said.
"If you think that PRISM is the only program in the world where a government is inspecting private data, than you are pretty naïve," said Anderson. Nonetheless, Anderson doesn't discount the risks if "there continue to be missteps on the part of the U.S. government" on data privacy issues, and said it could have a long-term impact on the perception it creates globally about what it means to work with a U.S. provider.

2013-08-09 SIOBHAN GORMAN, CAROL E.LEE, JANET HOOK. Obama Proposes Surveillance-Policy Overhaul

In a striking policy shift, President Barack Obama on Friday announced plans to overhaul a secret national security court and pledged to take other measures to disclose more information about secret National Security Agency programs.
The new proposals, which Mr. Obama announced at a news conference, will likely ratchet up a national debate over the balance between the controversial spy programs and Americans' privacy.
He acknowledged that the documents revealed by NSA leaker Edward Snowden had initiated debate on surveillance and privacy issues.
The most significant proposal would restructure the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to provide for an advocate for privacy concerns. Mr. Obama is also seeking unspecified changes to the Patriot Act to increase oversight and place more constraints on the provision that permits government seizure of business records.
The two main programs Mr. Snowden revealed that have sparked outrage among lawmakers and civil libertarians are the vast collection on Americans' phone records and a set of court-ordered partnerships with Silicon Valley companies to provide account information for foreign-intelligence investigations.
"Given the history of abuse by governments, it's right to ask questions about surveillance," Mr. Obama said. "It's not enough for me to have confidence in these programs, the American people must have confidence as well."
Given the scale of the phone-data program, he said, he understood concerns about the potential for abuse.
Mr. Obama also sought to tamp town concerns overseas about the government's extensive spying apparatus. "America is not interested in spying on ordinary people," he said.
NSA will also create a privacy officer post.
Mr. Obama also ordered the Director of National Intelligence to lead an outside review of U.S. surveillance efforts with an interim report due in two months and a final report due at the end of the year. Mr. Obama said the group would focus on how to ensure programs aren't abused and how such programs impact foreign policy.
An early indication of the difficulty ahead came when the spokesman for House Majority Leader John Boehner criticized Mr. Obama for inadequately defending the programs before the president had finished speaking.
"Transparency is important, but we expect the White House to insist that no reform will compromise the operational integrity of the program. That must be the president's red line, and he must enforce it," said his spokesman Brendan Buck. "Our priority should continue to be saving American lives, not saving face."
Mr. Obama's two biggest proposals will require legislation in a Congress that has struggled to complete less controversial bills.

2013-08-08 CHARLIE SAVAGE. N.S.A. Searches Said to Include Broader Sifting of Data Abroad

The National Security Agency is searching the contents of vast amounts of Americans’ e-mail and text communications into and out of the country, hunting for people who mention information about foreigners under surveillance, according to intelligence officials.
The N.S.A. is not just intercepting the communications of Americans who are in direct contact with foreigners targeted overseas, a practice that government officials have openly acknowledged. It is also casting a far wider net for people who cite information linked to those foreigners, like a little used e-mail address, according to a senior intelligence official.
While it has long been known that the agency conducts extensive computer searches of data it vacuums up overseas, that it is systematically searching — without warrants — through the contents of Americans’ communications that cross the border reveals more about the scale of its secret operations.
Government officials say the cross-border surveillance was authorized by a 2008 law, the FISA Amendments Act, in which Congress approved eavesdropping on domestic soil without warrants as long as the “target” was a noncitizen abroad. Voice communications are not included in that surveillance, the senior official said.
Asked to comment, Judith A. Emmel, an N.S.A. spokeswoman, did not directly address surveillance of cross-border communications. But she said the agency’s activities were lawful and intended to gather intelligence not about Americans but about “foreign powers and their agents, foreign organizations, foreign persons or international terrorists.”
To conduct the surveillance, the N.S.A. is temporarily copying and then sifting through the contents of what is apparently most e-mails and other text-based communications that cross the border. The senior intelligence official, who, like other former and current government officials, spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the topic, said the N.S.A. makes a “clone of selected communication links” to gather the communications, but declined to specify details, like the volume of the data that passes through them.

2013-08-08 KEVIN POULSEN. Edward Snowden’s Email Provider Shuts Down Amid Secret Court Battle

A pro-privacy email service long used by NSA leaker Edward Snowden abruptly shut down today, blaming a secret U.S. court battle it has been fighting for six weeks — one that it seems to be losing so far.
“I have been forced to make a difficult decision: to become complicit in crimes against the American people or walk away from nearly 10 years of hard work by shutting down Lavabit,” owner Ladar Levison wrote in a statement. “After significant soul searching, I have decided to suspend operations.”
Based in Texas, Lavabit attracted attention last month when NSA leaker Edward Snowden used an email account with the service to invite human rights workers and lawyers to a press conference in the Moscow airport where he was then confined. A PGP crypto key apparently registered by Snowden with a Lavabit address suggests he’s favored the service since January 2010 — well before he became the most important whistleblower in a generation.
Reading between the lines, it’s reasonable to assume Levison has been fighting either a National Security Letter seeking customer information — which comes by default with a gag order — or a full-blown search or eavesdropping warrant.
Court records show that, in June, Lavabit complied with a routine search warrant targeting a child pornography suspect in a federal case in Maryland. That suggests that Levison isn’t a privacy absolutist. Whatever compelled him to shut down now must have been exceptional.
Lavabit has 350,000 users who aren’t Edward Snowden, and some are decidedly unhappy with Levison’s decision, judging by a flood of angry comments posted to Lavabit’s Facebook page this afternoon.

2013-08-08 NSA Chief: Solution To Stopping The Next Snowden Is Replacing His Former Job With A Machine

The director of the National Security Agency said Thursday that the agency has found a way to prevent further leaks about American surveillance by replacing nearly all its system administrators with machines.
At a cybersecurity conference, Gen. Keith B. Alexander told the audience that intelligence agencies plan to reduce by 90 percent the number of people in the system administrator position. Edward Snowden worked as a system administrator as an NSA contractor before leaking secrets about the agency’s controversial cyber-spying programs and then gaining refuge in Russia.
The NSA employs or contracts with about 1,000 system administrators, Alexander has previously said.
The general said Thursday that the NSA planned to replace system administrators with new technology that will make computer networks "more defensible and more secure."

2013-08-07 PETER NICHOLAS. Obama Cancels Meeting With Putin Amid Tension Over Snowden

President Barack Obama canceled a bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin set to be held in Moscow next month, following Russia's decision to grant asylum to former U.S. contractor Edward Snowden, the White House said Wednesday.
U.S.-Russian relations have been strained over Moscow's handling of Mr. Snowden, the National Security Agency leaker who was granted asylum in Russia last week. The White House had previously signaled Mr. Obama was unlikely to attend a planned one-on-one meeting with Mr. Putin next month in Moscow ahead of the Group of 20 summit in St. Petersburg.
"There are times when they slip back into Cold War thinking and Cold War mentality," Mr. Obama said of Russia in an interview on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" on Tuesday night. "What I continually say to them and to President Putin, that's the past."
Mr. Obama still plans to attend the G-20 summit scheduled for early September, which Russia is hosting.
White House spokesman Jay Carney in a statement said the decision came after the Obama administration "reached the conclusion that there is not enough recent progress in our bilateral agenda with Russia" to hold the meeting.
Before heading to Russia for the G-20, Mr. Obama will go to Stockholm Sept. 4 and 5, the White House said in a brief statement Wednesday. The White House said Sweden plays a "key leadership role on the international stage, including in opening new trade and investment opportunities through the U.S.-EU trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, advancing clean technologies, and promoting environmental sustainability."

2013-08-07 Snowden's relatives apply for Russian visas

2013-08-05 John Shiffman, Kristina Cooke. Exclusive: U.S. directs agents to cover up program used to investigate Americans

A secretive U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration unit is funneling information from intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a massive database of telephone records to authorities across the nation to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans.
Although these cases rarely involve national security issues, documents reviewed by Reuters show that law enforcement agents have been directed to conceal how such investigations truly begin - not only from defense lawyers but also sometimes from prosecutors and judges.
The undated documents show that federal agents are trained to "recreate" the investigative trail to effectively cover up where the information originated, a practice that some experts say violates a defendant's Constitutional right to a fair trial. If defendants don't know how an investigation began, they cannot know to ask to review potential sources of exculpatory evidence - information that could reveal entrapment, mistakes or biased witnesses.
"I have never heard of anything like this at all," said Nancy Gertner, a Harvard Law School professor who served as a federal judge from 1994 to 2011. Gertner and other legal experts said the program sounds more troubling than recent disclosures that the National Security Agency has been collecting domestic phone records. The NSA effort is geared toward stopping terrorists; the DEA program targets common criminals, primarily drug dealers.
"It is one thing to create special rules for national security," Gertner said. "Ordinary crime is entirely different. It sounds like they are phonying up investigations."
The unit of the DEA that distributes the information is called the Special Operations Division, or SOD. Two dozen partner agencies comprise the unit, including the FBI, CIA, NSA, Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Homeland Security. It was created in 1994 to combat Latin American drug cartels and has grown from several dozen employees to several hundred.

2013-08-04 ERIC LICHTBLAU, MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT. Other Agencies Clamor for Data N.S.A. Compiles

Agencies working to curb drug trafficking, cyberattacks, money laundering, counterfeiting and even copyright infringement complain that their attempts to exploit the security agency’s vast resources have often been turned down because their own investigations are not considered a high enough priority, current and former government officials say.
Intelligence officials say they have been careful to limit the use of the security agency’s troves of data and eavesdropping spyware for fear they could be misused in ways that violate Americans’ privacy rights.
The recent disclosures of agency activities by its former contractor Edward J. Snowden have led to widespread criticism that its surveillance operations go too far and have prompted lawmakers in Washington to talk of reining them in. But out of public view, the intelligence community has been agitated in recent years for the opposite reason: frustrated officials outside the security agency say the spy tools are not used widely enough.
“It’s a very common complaint about N.S.A.,” said Timothy H. Edgar, a former senior intelligence official at the White House and at the office of the director of national intelligence. “They collect all this information, but it’s difficult for the other agencies to get access to what they want.”
“The other agencies feel they should be bigger players,” said Mr. Edgar, who heard many of the disputes before leaving government this year to become a visiting fellow at Brown University. “They view the N.S.A. — incorrectly, I think — as this big pot of data that they could go get if they were just able to pry it out of them.”
Smaller intelligence units within the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Secret Service, the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security have sometimes been given access to the security agency’s surveillance tools for particular cases, intelligence officials say.
In one such case, the bureau took control of a Secret Service investigation after a hacker was linked to a foreign government, one law enforcement official said. Similarly, the bureau became more interested in investigating smuggled cigarettes as a means of financing terrorist groups after the case was developed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
But more often, their requests have been rejected because the links to terrorism or foreign intelligence, usually required by law or policy, are considered tenuous. Officials at some agencies see another motive — protecting the security agency’s turf — and have grown resentful over what they see as a second-tier status that has undermined their own investigations into security matters.
At the drug agency, for example, officials complained that they were blocked from using the security agency’s surveillance tools for several drug-trafficking cases in Latin America, which they said might be connected to financing terrorist groups in the Middle East and elsewhere.
At the Homeland Security Department, officials have repeatedly sought to use the security agency’s Internet and telephone databases and other resources to trace cyberattacks on American targets that are believed to have stemmed from China, Russia and Eastern Europe, according to officials. They have often been rebuffed.
Officials at the other agencies, speaking only on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the tensions, say the National Security Agency’s reluctance to allow access to data has been particularly frustrating because of post-Sept. 11 measures that were intended to encourage information-sharing among federal agencies.
In fact, a change made in 2008 in the executive order governing intelligence was intended to make it easier for the security agency to share surveillance information with other agencies if it was considered “relevant” to their own investigations. It has often been left to the national intelligence director’s office to referee the frequent disputes over how and when the security agency’s spy tools can be used. The director’s office declined to comment for this article.

2013-08-04 Glenn Greenwald. Members of Congress denied access to basic information about NSA

Members of Congress have been repeatedly thwarted when attempting to learn basic information about the National Security Agency (NSA) and the secret FISA court which authorizes its activities, documents provided by two House members demonstrate.
From the beginning of the NSA controversy, the agency's defenders have insisted that Congress is aware of the disclosed programs and exercises robust supervision over them. "These programs are subject to congressional oversight and congressional reauthorization and congressional debate," President Obama said the day after the first story on NSA bulk collection of phone records was published in this space. "And if there are members of Congress who feel differently, then they should speak up."
But members of Congress, including those in Obama's party, have flatly denied knowing about them. On MSNBC on Wednesday night, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Ct) was asked by host Chris Hayes: "How much are you learning about what the government that you are charged with overseeing and holding accountable is doing from the newspaper and how much of this do you know?" The Senator's reply:
The revelations about the magnitude, the scope and scale of these surveillances, the metadata and the invasive actions surveillance of social media Web sites were indeed revelations to me."
But it is not merely that members of Congress are unaware of the very existence of these programs, let alone their capabilities. Beyond that, members who seek out basic information - including about NSA programs they are required to vote on and FISA court (FISC) rulings on the legality of those programs - find that they are unable to obtain it.

2013-08-03 Joseph Menn. NSA revelations could hurt collaboration with 'betrayed' hackers

The U.S. government's efforts to recruit talented hackers could suffer from the recent revelations about its vast domestic surveillance programs, as many private researchers express disillusionment with the National Security Agency.
Much of that goodwill has been erased after the NSA's classified programs to monitor phone records and Internet activity were exposed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, according to prominent hackers and cyber experts.
A turn in the community's sentiment was on show at two major security conventions in Las Vegas this week: Black Hat, which attracts more established cyber professionals, and Def Con, which gets a larger gathering of younger, more independent hackers.
"We've gone backwards about 10 years in the relations between the good guys and the U.S. government," said Alex Stamos, a veteran security researcher who was to give a Def Con talk on Saturday on the need to revisit industry ethics.
Black Hat attracts professionals whose companies pay thousands of dollars for them to attend. Def Con costs $180 and features many of the same speakers.
At Black Hat, a casual polling station at a vendor's exhibition booth asking whether Snowden was a villain or a hero produced a dead heat: 138 to 138. European attendees were especially prone to vote for hero, the vendor said.
Def Con would have been much rougher on Alexander, judging by interviews there and the reception given speakers who touched on Snowden and other government topics.

2013-08-01 PAUL SONNE. Snowden Gets Temporary Asylum in Russia, Leaves Airport

National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden has received asylum for a year in Russia and has left Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport, his lawyer said on Thursday.
Anatoly Kucherena, a lawyer who has been representing Mr. Snowden in Moscow, said the U.S. fugitive received so-called "temporary asylum" for a period of one year that allows him to remain and live on Russian territory. Temporary asylum is usually issued in Russia for renewable one-year periods.
"I already escorted him out of the airport into a taxi," the lawyer said. He declined to say where his client went.

2013-07-31 Glenn Greenwald. XKeyscore: NSA tool collects 'nearly everything a user does on the internet'

A top secret National Security Agency program allows analysts to search with no prior authorization through vast databases containing emails, online chats and the browsing histories of millions of individuals, according to documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden.
The NSA boasts in training materials that the program, called XKeyscore, is its "widest-reaching" system for developing intelligence from the internet.
The latest revelations will add to the intense public and congressional debate around the extent of NSA surveillance programs. They come as senior intelligence officials testify to the Senate judiciary committee on Wednesday, releasing classified documents in response to the Guardian's earlier stories on bulk collection of phone records and Fisa surveillance court oversight.
The files shed light on one of Snowden's most controversial statements, made in his first video interview published by the Guardian on June 10.
"I, sitting at my desk," said Snowden, could "wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant, to a federal judge or even the president, if I had a personal email".
US officials vehemently denied this specific claim. Mike Rogers, the Republican chairman of the House intelligence committee, said of Snowden's assertion: "He's lying. It's impossible for him to do what he was saying he could do."
But training materials for XKeyscore detail how analysts can use it and other systems to mine enormous agency databases by filling in a simple on-screen form giving only a broad justification for the search. The request is not reviewed by a court or any NSA personnel before it is processed.
XKeyscore, the documents boast, is the NSA's "widest reaching" system developing intelligence from computer networks – what the agency calls Digital Network Intelligence (DNI). One presentation claims the program covers "nearly everything a typical user does on the internet", including the content of emails, websites visited and searches, as well as their metadata.
US officials vehemently denied this specific claim. Mike Rogers, the Republican chairman of the House intelligence committee, said of Snowden's assertion: "He's lying. It's impossible for him to do what he was saying he could do."
But training materials for XKeyscore detail how analysts can use it and other systems to mine enormous agency databases by filling in a simple on-screen form giving only a broad justification for the search. The request is not reviewed by a court or any NSA personnel before it is processed.
XKeyscore, the documents boast, is the NSA's "widest reaching" system developing intelligence from computer networks – what the agency calls Digital Network Intelligence (DNI). One presentation claims the program covers "nearly everything a typical user does on the internet", including the content of emails, websites visited and searches, as well as their metadata.
The purpose of XKeyscore is to allow analysts to search the metadata as well as the content of emails and other internet activity, such as browser history, even when there is no known email account (a "selector" in NSA parlance) associated with the individual being targeted.
Analysts can also search by name, telephone number, IP address, keywords, the language in which the internet activity was conducted or the type of browser used.

2013-07-30 RALPH PETERS. Manning’s enablers. The US Army — and our schools

Yesterday, military judge Col. Denise Lind found Wiki-leaker Pfc. Bradley Manning guilty on five counts of espionage, as well as multiple counts of theft, computer fraud and military infractions. Giving Manning every benefit of the doubt, the judge found him not guilty of the charge of intentionally aiding the enemy — but still convicted him on 19 of 21 counts.
Manning was tapped to be discharged as unsuitable. But the Army, hungry for even the worst cuts of meat, not only canceled the discharge move, but sent him to its Intelligence Center and School, granting him a Top Secret/Special Compartmentalized Information (TS/SCI) clearance.
Initially stationed at Ft. Drum, NY, Manning was referred for mental-health counseling. But he kept that sensitive clearance. Then he was sent to Iraq, where his behavior was erratic and provocative, but he continued to have access to high-level intelligence until he threw a destructive office tantrum and had to be restrained.
Eventually, he was demoted one grade and, finally, sent to work in a supply room. But the damage was already done: a vast dump of confidential and secret US government documents.
Extreme political correctness and the Army’s insatiable appetite for troops with top clearances had combined to enable the largest leak of classified information in our history.
Prior to 9/11, a soldier could lose his or her clearance over a minor infraction and access to Special Compartmentalized Information was granted on a strict “need to know” basis. To lose access today, you have to hand over 700,000 classified documents to WikiLeaks or give the Chinese and Russians the NSA’s gravest secrets.
Back when I served in Military Intelligence, Manning never would’ve gotten a clearance in the first place — warning flags were everywhere. Same thing with Edward Snowden: He never should have gotten a clearance of any kind.
But serious vetting ended with 9/11: Today, it’s just a meat market.
None of this excuses Manning’s betrayal of his country. But the Army and the intelligence community need to do some soul-searching.

2013-07-29 Rogozin: Russian specialists did not learn anything new from Snowden

2013-07-28 Kari Rea. Glenn Greenwald: Low-Level NSA Analysts Have ‘Powerful and Invasive’ Search Tool

Today on “This Week,” Glenn Greenwald – the reporter who broke the story about the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs – claimed that those NSA programs allowed even low-level analysts to search the private emails and phone calls of Americans.
“The NSA has trillions of telephone calls and emails in their databases that they’ve collected over the last several years,” Greenwald told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos. “And what these programs are, are very simple screens, like the ones that supermarket clerks or shipping and receiving clerks use, where all an analyst has to do is enter an email address or an IP address, and it does two things. It searches that database and lets them listen to the calls or read the emails of everything that the NSA has stored, or look at the browsing histories or Google search terms that you’ve entered, and it also alerts them to any further activity that people connected to that email address or that IP address do in the future.”
Greenwald explained that while there are “legal constraints” on surveillance that require approval by the FISA court, these programs still allow analysts to search through data with little court approval or supervision.
There are legal constraints for how you can spy on Americans,” Greenwald said. “You can’t target them without going to the FISA court. But these systems allow analysts to listen to whatever emails they want, whatever telephone calls, browsing histories, Microsoft Word documents.”
“And it’s all done with no need to go to a court, with no need to even get supervisor approval on the part of the analyst,” he added.
But the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee told Stephanopoulos he would be shocked if such programs existed.
“It wouldn’t just surprise me, it would shock me,” Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Georgia, said on “This Week” Sunday.
Snowden, the former NSA contractor who leaked information about two sweeping intelligence programs, has previously warned that they are open to abuse by those with access. In a video interview with The Guardian, he said, “Any analyst at any time can target anyone… I, sitting at my desk, had the authority to wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant to a federal judge to even the president if I had a personal email.”

2013-07-28 Lindsey Boerma. "Zero privacy violations" in NSA programs, Rogers says

There are "zero privacy violations" in the National Security Agency's collection of phone records, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., said Sunday on "Face the Nation," just days after the chamber narrowly rejected a measure that would have stripped the agency of its assumed authority under the Patriot Act to collect records in bulk.
"There's more information in a phone book than there is in this particular big pile of phone numbers that we used to close the gap - we, the intelligence services - close the gap that we saw didn't allow us to catch someone from 9/11," Rogers said.
"Remember, this came about after 9/11 when we found out afterward that terrorists that we knew about overseas had called somebody who was a terrorist but living in the United States or staying in the United States," he continued. "He ended up being the person that got on an airplane and flew into the side of the Pentagon."
Rogers argued the program culls data that's merely "to-from - no names, no addresses" and is kept at bay by strict regulations that pre-require a counterterrorism nexus for snooping. He said the tight 217-205 vote on a bill that would have mandated the NSA to prove a specific individual was under investigation before collecting his or her records was driven by misunderstanding.
"The day before the vote, people were asking, 'How many of the numbers have recordings attached to them?' Well, the answer is zero. If you have to ask that the day before the vote - I knew I was in an education problem here. There are no recordings of phone calls; there are no dossiers. They do not record your e-mails. None of that was happening, none of it, zero," Rogers said.

2013-07-27 John Naughton. Edward Snowden's not the story. The fate of the internet is

Repeat after me: Edward Snowden is not the story. The story is what he has revealed about the hidden wiring of our networked world. This insight seems to have escaped most of the world's mainstream media, for reasons that escape me but would not have surprised Evelyn Waugh, whose contempt for journalists was one of his few endearing characteristics. The obvious explanations are: incorrigible ignorance; the imperative to personalise stories; or gullibility in swallowing US government spin, which brands Snowden as a spy rather than a whistleblower.
As an antidote, here are some of the things we should be thinking about as a result of what we have learned so far.
The first is that the days of the internet as a truly global network are numbered. It was always a possibility that the system would eventually be Balkanised, ie divided into a number of geographical or jurisdiction-determined subnets as societies such as China, Russia, Iran and other Islamic states decided that they needed to control how their citizens communicated. Now, Balkanisation is a certainty.
Second, the issue of internet governance is about to become very contentious. Given what we now know about how the US and its satraps have been abusing their privileged position in the global infrastructure, the idea that the western powers can be allowed to continue to control it has become untenable.
Third, as Evgeny Morozov has pointed out, the Obama administration's "internet freedom agenda" has been exposed as patronising cant. "Today," he writes, "the rhetoric of the 'internet freedom agenda' looks as trustworthy as George Bush's 'freedom agenda' after Abu Ghraib." US-based internet company can be trusted to protect our privacy or data. The fact is that Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft are all integral components of the US cyber-surveillance system. Nothing, but nothing, that is stored in their "cloud" services can be guaranteed to be safe from surveillance or from illicit downloading by employees of the consultancies employed by the NSA. That means that if you're thinking of outsourcing your troublesome IT operations to, say, Google or Microsoft, then think again.

2013-07-25 Declan McCullagh. Feds tell Web firms to turn over user account passwords

The U.S. government has demanded that major Internet companies divulge users' stored passwords, according to two industry sources familiar with these orders, which represent an escalation in surveillance techniques that has not previously been disclosed.
If the government is able to determine a person's password, which is typically stored in encrypted form, the credential could be used to log in to an account to peruse confidential correspondence or even impersonate the user. Obtaining it also would aid in deciphering encrypted devices in situations where passwords are reused.
"I've certainly seen them ask for passwords," said one Internet industry source who spoke on condition of anonymity. "We push back."
A second person who has worked at a large Silicon Valley company confirmed that it received legal requests from the federal government for stored passwords. Companies "really heavily scrutinize" these requests, the person said. "There's a lot of 'over my dead body.'"
Some of the government orders demand not only a user's password but also the encryption algorithm and the so-called salt, according to a person familiar with the requests. A salt is a random string of letters or numbers used to make it more difficult to reverse the encryption process and determine the original password. Other orders demand the secret question codes often associated with user accounts.
Some details remain unclear, including when the requests began and whether the government demands are always targeted at individuals or seek entire password database dumps. The Patriot Act has been used to demand entire database dumps of phone call logs, and critics have suggested its use is broader.
Even if the National Security Agency or the FBI successfully obtains an encrypted password, salt, and details about the algorithm used, unearthing a user's original password is hardly guaranteed. The odds of success depend in large part on two factors: the type of algorithm and the complexity of the password.
But modern computers, especially ones equipped with high-performance video cards, can test passwords scrambled with MD5 and other well-known hash algorithms at the rate of billions a second. One system using 25 Radeon-powered GPUs that was demonstrated at a conference last December tested 348 billion hashes per second, meaning it would crack a 14-character Windows XP password in six minutes.
The best practice among Silicon Valley companies is to adopt far slower hash algorithms -- designed to take a large fraction of a second to scramble a password -- that have been intentionally crafted to make it more difficult and expensive for the NSA and other attackers to test every possible combination.
One popular algorithm, used by Twitter and LinkedIn, is called bcrypt. A 2009 paper (PDF) by computer scientist Colin Percival estimated that it would cost a mere $4 to crack, in an average of one year, an 8-character bcrypt password composed only of letters. To do it in an average of one day, the hardware cost would jump to approximately $1,500.
But if a password of the same length included numbers, asterisks, punctuation marks, and other special characters, the cost-per-year leaps to $130,000. Increasing the length to any 10 characters, Percival estimated in 2009, brings the estimated cracking cost to a staggering $1.2 billion.
Tarsnap Backup
The scrypt key derivation function

2013-07-25 Senate bill authorizes sanctions on Russia or any other country offering Snowden asylum

U.S. sanctions against any country offering asylum to Edward Snowden advanced in Congress on Wednesday as the 30-year-old National Security Agency leaker remained in a Moscow airport while Russia weighed a request for him to stay permanently.
The measure introduced by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., demands the State Department coordinate with lawmakers on setting penalties against nations that seek to help Snowden avoid extradition to the United States, where authorities want him prosecuted for revealing details of the government’s massive surveillance system. The Senate Appropriations Committee approved the proposal unanimously by voice vote as an amendment to next year’s $50.6 billion diplomacy and international aid bill.
Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua have offered Snowden asylum since his arrival at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport a month ago, shortly after identifying himself as the source of a series of news reports outlining the NSA’s program to monitor Internet and telephone communications. It was believed he would then fly to Cuba. The U.S. then canceled his passport, stranding him, with Russia yet to authorize his request for temporary asylum or allow him to fly on to another destination.
Snowden wants permission to stay in Russia, his lawyer said Wednesday after delivering fresh clothes to his client. It’s unclear how long the Kremlin will take to decide on the asylum request.

2013-07-24 Chase Madar. The sky darkens for American journalism

The court-martial of Pfc. Manning, finally underway over three years after his arrest, is likely to cause a great deal of collateral destruction in its own right. In this case the victim will be American journalism.
The most serious of the charges against Manning is the capital offense of "aiding the enemy.” (Team Obama has made it clear it won’t seek the death penalty, but a life sentence is possible.) The enemy that the prosecution has in mind is not Wikileaks or the global public but Al Qaeda; because this group had access to the internet, the logic goes, they could read Manning’s disclosures just like everyone else.
The government does not have to prove Manning’s conscious intent to help Al Qaeda, but must only meet the squishier standard of proving the defendant had "specific knowledge” that the terrorists might benefit from his cache of documents.
If this charge sticks, it will be a serious blow to American journalism, as it puts all kinds of confidential informants at risk of being capital cases. A soldier in Afghanistan who blogs about the lack of armoured vehicles - a common and very public complaint from the ranks in the Iraq War - could be prosecuted for tipping off the Taliban.

2013-07-24 Declan McCullagh. Feds put heat on Web firms for master encryption keys

The U.S. government has attempted to obtain the master encryption keys that Internet companies use to shield millions of users' private Web communications from eavesdropping.
These demands for master encryption keys, which have not been disclosed previously, represent a technological escalation in the clandestine methods that the FBI and the National Security Agency employ when conducting electronic surveillance against Internet users.
If the government obtains a company's master encryption key, agents could decrypt the contents of communications intercepted through a wiretap or by invoking the potent surveillance authorities of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Web encryption -- which often appears in a browser with a HTTPS lock icon when enabled -- uses a technique called SSL, or Secure Sockets Layer.
"The government is definitely demanding SSL keys from providers," said one person who has responded to government attempts to obtain encryption keys. The source spoke with CNET on condition of anonymity.
The person said that large Internet companies have resisted the requests on the grounds that they go beyond what the law permits, but voiced concern that smaller companies without well-staffed legal departments might be less willing to put up a fight. "I believe the government is beating up on the little guys," the person said. "The government's view is that anything we can think of, we can compel you to do."

2013-07-24 House narrowly rejects move to stop NSA snooping

After a fiery debate this week over the balance between liberty and security -- a debate that created some unusual alliances in Washington -- the House of Representatives on Wednesday rejected a bill that would've put an end the National Security Agency's bulk collection of U.S. phone records.
The House voted 217 to 205 to reject a measure that would've stripped the NSA of its assumed authority under the Patriot Act to collect records in bulk -- the security agency would have to show that a specific individual is under investigation before collecting such information. The measure was voted on as an amendment to a Defense spending bill -- even if the amendment had passed, it's unlikely it would have survived in the Democratic-led Senate or against the opposition of the White House.
Rogers and the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Calif., sent members of the House a "Dear Colleague" letter urging them to vote against it. They also arranged for Army General Keith Alexander, the director of the NSA, to privately brief House members on Tuesday on how the legislation could hurt national security. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper condemned the measure in a statement, as did White House spokesman Jay Carney who called the measure a "blunt approach" to the privacy concerns over the NSA programs that was "not the product of an informed, open, or deliberative process."

2013-07-23 Geoffrey Robertson. Edward Snowden's fear of flying is justified

As Edward Snowden sits in an airside hotel, awaiting confirmation of Russia's offer of asylum, it is clear that he has already revealed enough to prove that European privacy protections are a delusion: under Prism and other programmes, the US National Security Agency and Britain's GCHQ can, without much legal hindrance, scoop up any electronic communication whenever one of 70,000 "keywords" or "search terms" are mentioned. These revelations are of obvious public interest: even President Obama has conceded that they invite a necessary debate. But the US treats Snowden as a spy and has charged him under the Espionage Act, which has no public interest defence.
That is despite the fact that Snowden has exposed secret rulings from a secret US court, where pliant judges have turned down only 10 surveillance warrant requests between 2001 and 2012 (while granting 20,909) and have issued clandestine rulings which erode first amendment protection of freedom of speech and fourth amendment protection of privacy. Revelations about interception of European communications (many leaked through servers in the US) and the bugging of EU offices in Washington have infuriated officials in Brussels. In Germany, with its memories of the Gestapo and the Stasi, the protests are loudest, and opposition parties, gearing up for an election in September, want him to tell more.
So far Snowden has had three offers of asylum from Latin America, but to travel there means dangerous hours in the air. International law (and the Chicago Convention regulating air traffic) emphatically asserts freedom to traverse international airspace, but America tends to treat international law as binding on everyone except America (and Israel). Thus when Egypt did a deal with the Achille Lauro hijackers and sent them on a commercial flight to Tunis, US F-14 jets intercepted the plane in international airspace and forced it to land in Italy, where the hijackers were tried and jailed. President Mubarak condemned the action as "air piracy contrary to international law" and demanded an apology, to which Reagan replied: "Never." The UK supported the action as designed to bring terrorists to trial.
In 1986 Israel forced down a Libyan commercial plane in the mistaken belief that PLO leaders were among its passengers, and the US vetoed UN security council condemnation. So there must be a real concern, particularly after Nato allies collaborated in forcing down the Bolivian president's jet, that the US will intercept any plane believed to be carrying Snowden to asylum, either because he is tantamount to a terrorist (Vice-President Biden has described Julian Assange as a "hi-tech terrorist") or simply because they want to put him on trial as a spy.

2013-07-18 Jimmy Carter Defends Edward Snowden, Says NSA Spying Has Compromised Nation's Democracy

Former President Jimmy Carter announced support for NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden this week, saying that his uncovering of the agency's massive surveillance programs had proven "beneficial."
Speaking at a closed-door event in Atlanta covered by German newspaper Der Spiegel, Carter also criticized the NSA's domestic spying as damaging to the core of the nation's principles.
"America does not have a functioning democracy at this point in time," Carter said, according to a translation by Inquisitr.
No American outlets covered Carter's speech, given at an Atlantic Bridge meeting, which has reportedly led to some skepticism over Der Spiegel's quotes. But Carter's stance would be in line with remarks he's made on Snowden and the issue of civil liberties in the past.
In June, while Snowden was scrambling to send out asylum requests from an airport in Russia, Carter appeared to back the former NSA contractor's efforts to remain out of U.S. custody.
"He's obviously violated the laws of America, for which he's responsible, but I think the invasion of human rights and American privacy has gone too far," he told CNN, saying that nations were within their right to offer asylum to Snowden. "I think that the secrecy that has been surrounding this invasion of privacy has been excessive, so I think that the bringing of it to the public notice has probably been, in the long term, beneficial."

2013-07-17 Craig Timberg. License plate cameras track millions of Americans

The spread of cheap, powerful cameras capable of reading license plates has allowed police to build databases on the movements of millions of Americans over months or even years, according to an American Civil Liberties Union report released Wednesday.
The license-plate readers, which police typically mount along major roadways or on the backs of cruisers, can identify vehicles almost instantly and compare them against “hot lists” of cars that have been stolen or involved in crimes.
But the systems collect records on every license plate they encounter — whether or not they are on hot lists — meaning time and location data are gathered in databases that can be searched by police. Some departments purge information after a few weeks, some after a few months and some never, said the report, which warns that such data could be abused by authorities, and chill freedom of speech and association.
“Using them to develop vast troves of information on where Americans travel is not an appropriate use,” said Catherine Crump, a staff attorney at the ACLU and one of the authors of the report, “You are Being Tracked: How License Plate Readers Are Being Used to Record Americans’ Movements.”
The use of license-plate readers is common in the Washington area, where concerns about terrorism have fueled major investments in the equipment, with much of the money coming from federal grants. Agreements among departments and jurisdictions allow sharing of the location information, with data typically retained for at least a year.
Such details, say police and law enforcement experts, can help investigators reconstruct suspects’ movements before and after armed robberies, auto thefts and other crimes. Departments typically require that information be used only for law enforcement purposes and require audits designed to detect abuse.
Private companies also are using license-plate-reading technology to build databases, typically to help in repossessing cars.

2013-07-17 Spencer Ackerman. NSA warned to rein in surveillance as agency reveals even greater scope

The National Security Agency revealed to an angry congressional panel on Wednesday that its analysis of phone records and online behavior goes exponentially beyond what it had previously disclosed.
John C Inglis, the deputy director of the surveillance agency, told a member of the House judiciary committee that NSA analysts can perform "a second or third hop query" through its collections of telephone data and internet records in order to find connections to terrorist organizations.
"Hops" refers to a technical term indicating connections between people. A three-hop query means that the NSA can look at data not only from a suspected terrorist, but from everyone that suspect communicated with, and then from everyone those people communicated with, and then from everyone all of those people communicated with.
One senior member of the panel, congressman James Sensenbrenner, the author of the 2001 Patriot Act, warned the officials that unless they rein in the scope of their surveillance on Americans' phone records, "There are not the votes in the House of Representatives" to renew the provision after its 2015 expiration.
"You're going to lose it entirely," Sensenbrenner said.
Inglis and deputy attorney general James Cole repeatedly argued that the NSA's surveillance was limited because it only searches through its databases of phone records when it has a "reasonable, articulable suspicion" of a connection to terrorism.

2013-07-16 PHILIP GIRALDI. Edward Snowden Is No Traitor

First and foremost among the accusations is the treason claim being advanced by such legal experts as former Vice President Dick Cheney, Speaker of the House John Boehner, and Senator Dianne Feinstein. The critics are saying that Snowden has committed treason because he has revealed U.S. intelligence capabilities to groups like al-Qaeda, with which the United States is at war.
But even accepting the somewhat fast and loose standard for being at war, it is difficult to discern where Snowden has been supporting the al-Qaeda and “associated groups” enemy. Snowden has had no contact with al-Qaeda and he has not provided them with any classified information. Nor has he ever spoken up on their behalf, given them advice, or supported in any way their activities directed against the United States. The fallback argument that Snowden has alerted terrorists to the fact that Washington is able to read their emails and listen in on their phone conversations—enabling them to change their methods of communication—is hardly worth considering, as groups like al-Qaeda have long since figured that out. Osama bin Laden, a graduate in engineering, repeatedly warned his followers not to use phones or the Internet, and he himself communicated only using live couriers. His awareness of U.S. technical capabilities was such that he would wear a cowboy hat when out in the courtyard of his villa to make it impossible for him to be identified by hovering drones and surveillance satellites.
Attempts to stretch the treason argument still further by claiming that Snowden has provided classified information to Russia and China are equally wrong-headed, as the U.S. has full and normally friendly diplomatic relations with both Moscow and Beijing. Both are major trading partners. Washington is not at war with either nation and never has been apart from a brief and limited intervention in the Russian Civil War in 1918. Nor is there any evidence that Snowden passed any material directly to either country’s government or that he has any connection to their intelligence services.
The White House’s colossal data mining operation has now been exposed by Edward Snowden, and the American people have discovered that they have been scrutinized by Washington far beyond any level that they would have imagined possible. Many foreign nations have also now realized that the scope of U.S. spying exceeds any reasonable standard of behavior, so much so that if there are any bombshells remaining in the documents taken by Snowden they would most likely relate to the specific targets of overseas espionage.

2013-07-15 Aluf Benn. Snowden’s America, Vanunu’s Israel

Edward Snowden, a former contractor for the U.S. National Security Agency, who revealed the depth of penetration into the details of Internet use by the entire world and telephone calls by residents of the United States, marched along the path set by Mordechai Vanunu, the former technician who tore away the secrecy from the Negev Nuclear Research Center near Dimona. Snowden knew that if he was caught, he would be punished with a long term in prison under harsh conditions like his Israeli predecessor, and planned his escape better. But even if Snowden wins political asylum in Russia or Venezuela, and the American administration does not kidnap him from there as Israel did with Vanunu, he will spend the rest of his life hunted and will never know peace. Just like Vanunu, who, since his release from prison, has lived under harsh limitations on his freedom.
But even with all the similarities between their actions, the public reaction to Vanunu’s leaks and those of Snowden has been completely different. There is no better illustration than this of the differences between Israeli and American democracy. Here the defense establishment enjoys an almost religious level of admiration, and the damage to the secrecy surrounding the nuclear reactor was seen as defiling the temple. Only a handful of fervent left-wingers publicly backed Vanunu. Most of the public loved the leak and hated the leaker: They enthusiastically read his revelations, were happy to hear that Israel had some 200 nuclear weapons, as Vanunu claimed, but also accepted the government’s position that presented him as a dangerous traitor − or just a weirdo. His supporters also tired; their website has not been updated for years.
The American public responded differently. There they do not relate to the defense establishment as the holy of holies, and the government’s actions always are met with a healthy suspicion. Liberal commentators called Snowden a “hero” and debated with those who accepted the administration’s position − that he revealed secrets and must be punished. Everyone accepted as understood the right of the press to publish his revelations, and did not claim − as did the right-wing press in Israel − that “the public doesn’t want to know” and “we need to censor such information.” The polls showed that American public opinion is split over the question of whether Snowden is a scoundrel or a saint − and whether he should be put on trial. In Israel there was no such public debate over Vanunu’s trial.
Israelis who support Snowden, and who see him as a freedom fighter who exposed the American empire in its hypocrisy and evil, need to relate to his Israeli predecessor in the same way. There is no moral or practical difference between them. One wonders whether the view of Vanunu in Israel has changed over time, and whether he will be seen as a whistle-blower who sacrificed his freedom for the good of all − and not as a spy and traitor. Whether he, too, will one day be viewed as a hero, at least in the eyes of liberal Israelis.
The lesson of the Vanunu affair, which Snowden will soon learn, is that the lone whistle-blower can only stir debate and not change policy or “undermine the security of the state.” Israel’s nuclear ambiguity is still the same as it was before Vanunu’s revelations in 1986.
The defense establishment’s fears of international pressure to close the Dimona reactor never were realized, nor were the hopes of Vanunu’s supporters for such pressure. This is what will also happen with Snowden’s revelations: American intelligence will never end its listening, eavesdropping and tracking on the Internet. The state is much stronger than the citizens, even those who are willing to endanger themselves. The clerk, mechanic or driver who was told to do such and such, as Vanunu wrote in his poem “I’m Your Spy,” remains, at the end of the day, alone with his fateful choice and the price he paid for it.

2013-07-14 Ellen Nakashima, Joby Warrick. For NSA chief, terrorist threat drives passion to ‘collect it all,’ observers say

At the time, more than 100 teams of U.S. analysts were scouring Iraq for snippets of electronic data that might lead to the bomb-makers and their hidden factories. But the NSA director, Gen. Keith B. Alexander, wanted more than mere snippets. He wanted everything: Every Iraqi text message, phone call and e-mail that could be vacuumed up by the agency’s powerful computers.
“Rather than look for a single needle in the haystack, his approach was, ‘Let’s collect the whole haystack,’ ” said one former senior U.S. intelligence official who tracked the plan’s implementation. “Collect it all, tag it, store it. . . . And whatever it is you want, you go searching for it.”
The unprecedented data collection plan, dubbed Real Time Regional Gateway, would play a role in breaking up Iraqi insurgent networks and significantly reducing the monthly death toll from improvised explosive devices by late 2008. It also encapsulated Alexander’s controversial approach to safeguarding Americans from what he sees as a host of imminent threats, from terrorism to devastating cyberattacks.
To some of Alexander’s most vociferous critics, Snowden’s disclosures confirm their image of an agency and a director so enamored of technological prowess that they have sacrificed privacy rights.
“He is absolutely obsessed and completely driven to take it all, whenever possible,” said Thomas Drake, a former NSA official and whistleblower. The continuation of Alexander’s policies, Drake said, would result in the “complete evisceration of our civil liberties.”
[Alec\xander] has been credited as a key supporter of the development of Stuxnet, the computer worm that infected Iran’s main uranium enrichment facility in 2009 and 2010 and is the most aggressive known use to date of offensive cyberweaponry. U.S. officials have never publicly acknowledged involvement in what has been described by experts as the first known, industrial-scale cyberattack on a sovereign nation, one that is estimated to have set back Iran’s uranium production by as much as a year.
Alexander also pushed hard for expanded authority to see into U.S. private sector networks to help defend them against foreign cyberattacks.
Quiet concerns also have been voiced by some of the private companies that would potentially benefit from government protection against cyberattack.
At a private meeting with financial industry officials a few years ago, Alexander spoke about the proliferation of computer malware aimed at siphoning data from networks, including those of banks. The meeting was described by a participant who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the discussion was off the record.
His proposed solution: Private companies should give the government access to their networks so it could screen out the harmful software. The NSA chief was offering to serve as an all-knowing virus-protection service, but at the cost, industry officials felt, of an unprecedented intrusion into the financial institutions’ databases.
The group of financial industry officials, sitting around a table at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, were stunned, immediately grasping the privacy implications of what Alexander was politely but urgently suggesting. As a group, they demurred.

2013-07-14 JENNY BARCHFIELD. Greenwald: Snowden docs contain NSA 'blueprint'

Edward Snowden has very sensitive "blueprints" detailing how the National Security Agency operates that would allow someone who read them to evade or even duplicate NSA surveillance, a journalist close to the intelligence leaker said Sunday.
Glenn Greenwald, a columnist with The Guardian newspaper who closely communicates with Snowden and first reported on his intelligence leaks, told The Associated Press that the former NSA systems analyst has "literally thousands of documents" that constitute "basically the instruction manual for how the NSA is built."
"In order to take documents with him that proved that what he was saying was true he had to take ones that included very sensitive, detailed blueprints of how the NSA does what they do," Greenwald said in Brazil, adding that the interview was taking place about four hours after his last interaction with Snowden.
Greenwald told The AP that Snowden has insisted the information from those documents not be made public. The journalist said it "would allow somebody who read them to know exactly how the NSA does what it does, which would in turn allow them to evade that surveillance or replicate it."
Despite their sensitivity, Greenwald said he didn't think that disclosure of the documents would prove harmful to Americans or their national security.

2013-07-13 Glenn Greenwald. About the Reuters article

"Q: Beyond the revelations about the spying system performance in general, what extra information has Snowden?
"A: Snowden has enough information to cause more damage to the US government in a minute alone than anyone else has ever had in the history of the United States. But that's not his goal. [His] objective is to expose software that people around the world use without knowing what they are exposing themselves without consciously agreeing to surrender their rights to privacy. [He] has a huge number of documents that would be very harmful to the US government if they were made public."
Snowden documents could be 'worst nightmare' for U.S.: journalist

2013-07-13 Snowden should address Russian migration service for asylum – Lavrov

Former CIA employee Edward Snowden should address the Russian Federal Migration Service (FMS) if he wants to be granted political asylum in Russia, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
“To be granted political asylum, Russian law presumes a certain procedure, and the first step is the filing of an application with the Federal Migration Service,” Lavrov told journalists on Saturday in commenting on Snowden’s statements he made on Friday.
“We have no contacts with Snowden. The issues he discussed yesterday with Russian [rights] defenders were extensively covered by the media, and I learned about them just as anybody else,” Lavrov said.

2013-07-12 Edward Snowden statement: 'It was the right thing to do and I have no regrets'

Since that time, the government and intelligence services of the United States of America have attempted to make an example of me, a warning to all others who might speak out as I have. I have been made stateless and hounded for my act of political expression. The United States Government has placed me on no-fly lists. It demanded Hong Kong return me outside of the framework of its laws, in direct violation of the principle of non-refoulement – the Law of Nations. It has threatened with sanctions countries who would stand up for my human rights and the UN asylum system. It has even taken the unprecedented step of ordering military allies to ground a Latin American president's plane in search for a political refugee. These dangerous escalations represent a threat not just to the dignity of Latin America, but to the basic rights shared by every person, every nation, to live free from persecution, and to seek and enjoy asylum.
Yet even in the face of this historically disproportionate aggression, countries around the world have offered support and asylum. These nations, including Russia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Ecuador have my gratitude and respect for being the first to stand against human rights violations carried out by the powerful rather than the powerless. By refusing to compromise their principles in the face of intimidation, they have earned the respect of the world. It is my intention to travel to each of these countries to extend my personal thanks to their people and leaders.
I announce today my formal acceptance of all offers of support or asylum I have been extended and all others that may be offered in the future. With, for example, the grant of asylum provided by Venezuela's President Maduro, my asylee status is now formal, and no state has a basis by which to limit or interfere with my right to enjoy that asylum. As we have seen, however, some governments in Western European and North American states have demonstrated a willingness to act outside the law, and this behavior persists today. This unlawful threat makes it impossible for me to travel to Latin America and enjoy the asylum granted there in accordance with our shared rights.
This willingness by powerful states to act extra-legally represents a threat to all of us, and must not be allowed to succeed. Accordingly, I ask for your assistance in requesting guarantees of safe passage from the relevant nations in securing my travel to Latin America, as well as requesting asylum in Russia until such time as these states accede to law and my legal travel is permitted. I will be submitting my request to Russia today, and hope it will be accepted favorably.

2013-07-12 Lisa Lerer, Nicole Gaouette. U.S. Keeps Pressure on Russia to Expel Snowden

The Obama administration is pressing Russia to expel fugitive Edward Snowden as the former intelligence contractor appealed to Russia for asylum, saying he would comply with its conditions.
Snowden’s case is being raised at the highest levels, White House press secretary Jay Carney said. President Barack Obama spoke about it with Russian President Vladimir Putin today in a previously scheduled call.
“The two leaders noted the importance of U.S.-Russian bilateral relations and discussed a range of security and bilateral issues, including the status of Mr. Edward Snowden,” according to a White House statement.
Prior to the statement U.S. officials ratcheted up their criticism of Russia for allowing Snowden, 30, to meet today with human-rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
“Providing a propaganda platform for Mr. Snowden runs counter to the Russian government’s previous declarations of Russia’s neutrality,” Carney said today. State Department spokesman Jennifer Psaki said the U.S. was “disappointed that Russian officials” facilitated the meeting in the Moscow airport transit area where Snowden is marooned.
Putin has said his government was “completely surprised” by Snowden’s arrival and has defied U.S. calls to extradite the fugitive. The Russian government’s position is that it can’t extradite Snowden because he is technically not in Russian territory while he resides in the airport’s international transit area.
Obama administration officials have repeatedly said that “any country or government that gives Mr. Snowden asylum or allows him to transit through, that there would be some serious consequences for, grave consequences in their relationship with the United States.”

2013-07-12 Mercosur 'to recall' envoys over Bolivia Snowden plane row

Four South American countries say they will recall some of their ambassadors after the Bolivian president's plane was banned from European airspace.
Evo Morales' plane, returning from Russia, was rerouted to Austria, amid rumours that American fugitive Edward Snowden was on board.
Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela and Uruguay say the incident violated international law.
Envoys will be recalled from France, Spain, Portugal and Italy, they say.
The decision by South American nations to recall four of their Europe envoys was taken in the framework of the presidential summit of the regional trade bloc, Mercosur, which comprises Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela and Uruguay.
Some European countries are likely to close their airspace again to any plane suspected of carrying the fugitive.
In a statement, Mercosur said: "We repudiate any action aimed at undermining the authority of countries to grant and fully implement the right of asylum."
It called for "solidarity with the governments of Bolivia, Nicaragua and Venezuela, which have offered to grant asylum to Mr Edward Snowden".
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said Mercosur would also demand "explanations and public apologies" from France, Italy, Spain and Portugal over the plane forced landing.
Bolivia, which is an associate member of Mercosur, summoned the ambassadors of the four European countries last week over the diversion of the plane, which it called an act of aggression.

2013-07-12 TAOS TURNER. Venezuela Lets Snowden Make His Own Plans

Even as Venezuela's government offers asylum to U.S. National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, it isn't involved in any plans to actually bring him to the South American country, Foreign Minister Elías Jaua said Friday.
Mr. Snowden is seeking political asylum in Russia, where he is holed up in the transit zone of the Moscow international airport until he can find a way to reach the Latin American countries that have offered him refuge.
But the former security contractor faces logistical problems in getting to South America. The U.S. has canceled his passport, pressured countries to deny him asylum and tried to deter him from flying to countries willing to take him in.
Venezuela isn't afraid of U.S. pressure, Mr. Jaua said at a political event in the Uruguayan capital. "We're going to respect the decisions that he makes as a citizen," Mr. Jaua said of the U.S. fugitive. "He's working with human-rights groups and trying to get countries to respect his right to travel to nations that have offered him refuge. We're going to wait for the results of those efforts."
When asked if his government was offering travel assistance to Mr. Snowden, Mr. Jaua's response was a terse, "No."

2013-07-11 Glenn Greenwald, Ewen MacAskill, Laura Poitras, Spencer Ackerman, Dominic Rushe. Revealed: how Microsoft handed the NSA access to encrypted messages

Microsoft has collaborated closely with US intelligence services to allow users' communications to be intercepted, including helping the National Security Agency to circumvent the company's own encryption, according to top-secret documents obtained by the Guardian.
The files provided by Edward Snowden illustrate the scale of co-operation between Silicon Valley and the intelligence agencies over the last three years. They also shed new light on the workings of the top-secret Prism program, which was disclosed by the Guardian and the Washington Post last month.
The documents show that:
• Microsoft helped the NSA to circumvent its encryption to address concerns that the agency would be unable to intercept web chats on the new portal;
• The agency already had pre-encryption stage access to email on, including Hotmail;
• The company worked with the FBI this year to allow the NSA easier access via Prism to its cloud storage service SkyDrive, which now has more than 250 million users worldwide;
• Microsoft also worked with the FBI's Data Intercept Unit to "understand" potential issues with a feature in that allows users to create email aliases;
• In July last year, nine months after Microsoft bought Skype, the NSA boasted that a new capability had tripled the amount of Skype video calls being collected through Prism;
• Material collected through Prism is routinely shared with the FBI and CIA, with one NSA document describing the program as a "team sport".
The latest NSA revelations further expose the tensions between Silicon Valley and the Obama administration. All the major tech firms are lobbying the government to allow them to disclose more fully the extent and nature of their co-operation with the NSA to meet their customers' privacy concerns. Privately, tech executives are at pains to distance themselves from claims of collaboration and teamwork given by the NSA documents, and insist the process is driven by legal compulsion.
Another newsletter entry stated that NSA already had pre-encryption access to Outlook email. "For Prism collection against Hotmail, Live, and emails will be unaffected because Prism collects this data prior to encryption."
Microsoft's co-operation was not limited to An entry dated 8 April 2013 describes how the company worked "for many months" with the FBI – which acts as the liaison between the intelligence agencies and Silicon Valley on Prism – to allow Prism access without separate authorization to its cloud storage service SkyDrive.
The document describes how this access "means that analysts will no longer have to make a special request to SSO for this – a process step that many analysts may not have known about".
ACLU technology expert Chris Soghoian said the revelations would surprise many Skype users. "In the past, Skype made affirmative promises to users about their inability to perform wiretaps," he said. "It's hard to square Microsoft's secret collaboration with the NSA with its high-profile efforts to compete on privacy with Google."
The information the NSA collects from Prism is routinely shared with both the FBI and CIA. A 3 August 2012 newsletter describes how the NSA has recently expanded sharing with the other two agencies.
The NSA, the entry reveals, has even automated the sharing of aspects of Prism, using software that "enables our partners to see which selectors [search terms] the National Security Agency has tasked to Prism".

2013-07-10 Craig Timberg. The NSA slide you haven’t seen

A classified NSA slide obtained by The Washington Post and published here for the first time lists “Two Types of Collection.”
One is PRISM, the NSA program that collects information from technology companies, which was first revealed in reports by the Post and Britain’s Guardian newspaper last month. The slide also shows a separate category labeled “Upstream,” described as accessing “communications on fiber cables and infrastructure as data flows past.”
PRISM works, the NSA slide makes clear that the two collection methods operate in parallel, instructing analysts that “You Should Use Both.” Arrows point to both “Upstream” and “PRISM.”
The overall heading of the slide is “FAA 702 Operations” – a reference to a 2008 law that enabled collection on U.S. soil of communications of foreigners thought to be overseas without an individual warrant from a court, including when the foreigners are communicating with someone in the United States. The law says the collection may be for a foreign intelligence purpose, which includes terrorism, nuclear weapons proliferation or cyber-security.
The slide also shows a crude map of the undersea cable network that carries data from either side of North America and onto the rest of the world. As a story in Sunday’s Post made clear, these undersea cables are essential to worldwide data flows – and to the surveillance capabilities of the U.S. government and its allies.

2013-07-10 Hannah Allam, Matt Schofield. Trapped: An air escape from Moscow unlikely for NSA leaker Snowden

Beginning a third week holed up in a Moscow airport’s transit zone, Edward Snowden finds himself far enough away to evade U.S. authorities, but also too far from any of the sympathetic nations willing to shelter him.
Aviation experts say that even if Snowden accepts the tentative offers of Venezuela, Nicaragua or Bolivia to give him shelter, it’s virtually impossible to chart a flight plan to those nations that doesn’t include traveling over or refueling in a U.S.-friendly country that could demand inspection of the plane – and detain him.
Nations have full, exclusive jurisdiction over their airspace, so any plane carrying Snowden could be forced to land if it flies over the territory of a country that’s willing to help American authorities capture the fugitive intelligence contractor. Snowden faces felony charges in the United States for leaking classified documents that detailed the National Security Agency’s extensive surveillance apparatus.
“Nations control their airspace up to the heavens, the old saying goes,” said John Q. Mulligan, an aviation law expert at DePaul University’s College of Law. “Just look at the map. It’s probably possible to figure out a route that wouldn’t touch the airspace of the United States or any friendly nations, but it wouldn’t be easy.”
While President Barack Obama has said he wouldn’t be “scrambling jets” to haul in Snowden, the U.S. government has shown that it can pressure countries that would serve as pit stops for Snowden on his way to Latin America or other potential exile destinations. Snowden has petitioned more than 25 countries for asylum; the State Department has promised “grave difficulties” for bilateral relations with any nation that aids his escape.
Last week’s diversion of Bolivian President Evo Morales’ presidential jet as he attempted to return to Bolivia from Moscow was a cautionary tale for Snowden as he mulls exit strategies from transit-lounge limbo. France, Spain, Italy and Portugal denied Morales’ requests to overfly their airspace on the way to a refueling stop in the Canary Islands.
The president’s plane was rerouted to Austria and spent 14 hours there, touching off a diplomatic firestorm that may have made some Latin American nations even more willing to play host to Snowden, but also showed the limitations of their ability to help him.
On Tuesday, Bolivia – backed by Nicaragua, Ecuador and Venezuela – called the move against Morales’ plane an “act of aggression” and called on the Organization of American States to approve a declaration demanding that such an incident never be repeated. But while officials in Italy, Spain and France have backed away from embracing what took place – France called it a “technical” error, and Italy and Spain have denied they barred Morales’ jet – the lesson is clear.

2013-07-10 Peter Wallsten. Lawmakers say administration’s lack of candor on surveillance weakens oversight

Lawmakers tasked with overseeing national security policy say a pattern of misleading testimony by senior Obama administration officials has weakened Congress’s ability to rein in government surveillance.
Members of Congress say officials have either denied the existence of a broad program that collects data on millions of Americans or, more commonly, made statements that left some lawmakers with the impression that the government was conducting only narrow, targeted surveillance operations.
The most recent example came on March 12, when James R. Clapper, director of national intelligence, told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the government was not collecting information about millions of Americans. He later acknowledged that the statement was “erroneous” and apologized, citing a misunderstanding.
On three occasions since 2009, top Justice Department officials said the government’s ability to collect business records in terrorism cases is generally similar to that of law enforcement officials during a grand jury investigation. That comparison, some lawmakers now say, signaled to them that data was being gathered on a case-by-case basis, rather than the records of millions of Americans’ daily communications being vacuumed up in bulk.
In addition, two Democratic members of the Senate Intelligence Committee say that even in top-secret briefings, officials “significantly exaggerated” the effectiveness of at least one program that collected data on Americans’ e-mail usage.
Defenders of the surveillance programs in Congress, including Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chairman of the House intelligence panel, have said the programs were fully explained. Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) pointed to “many, many meetings” where surveillance was discussed and said members had “every opportunity to be aware of these programs.”
But some lawmakers say they feel that many of the administration’s public statements — often couched in terms that offered assurances of the government’s respect for civil liberties and privacy — seemed designed to mislead Americans and avoid congressional scrutiny.
Wyden said that a number of administration statements have made it “impossible for the public or Congress to have a genuinely informed debate” about government surveillance. The Oregon senator, whose membership on the Senate Intelligence Committee gives him access to the classified court rulings authorizing broad surveillance, has tried in recent years to force a public discussion of what he has called “secret law.”
“These statements gave the public a false impression of how these authorities were actually being interpreted,” Wyden said. “The disclosures of the last few weeks have made it clear that a secret body of law authorizing secret surveillance overseen by a largely secret court has infringed on Americans’ civil liberties and privacy rights without offering the public the ability to judge for themselves whether these broad powers are appropriate or necessary.”
At the time that Justice Department officials appeared at public hearings in 2009 and 2011, the White House was pushing Congress to reauthorize provisions of the USA Patriot Act, including Section 215, which allows for the collection of “business records” and has since drawn attention as the justification for the bulk surveillance of phone records.

2013-07-07 Snowden Interview: NSA 'In Bed Together with the Germans'

In an interview, Edward Snowden accuses the National Security Agency of partnering with Germany and other governments in its spying activities. New information also indicates close working ties between the German foreign intelligence agency and the American authority.
The interview was conducted by American cryptography expert Jacob Appelbaum and documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras with the help of encrypted e-mails shortly before Snowden became known globally for his whistleblowing.
SPIEGEL reporting also indicates that cooperation between the NSA and Germany's foreign intelligence service, the BND, is more intensive than previously known. NSA, for example, provides "analysis tools" for the BND's signals monitoring of foreign data streams that travel through Germany. Among the BND's focuses are the Middle East route through which data packets from crisis regions travel. In total, SPIEGEL reported that the BND pulls data from five different nodes that are then analyzed at the foreign intelligence service's headquarters in Pullach near Munich. BND head Gerhard Schindler confirmed the partnership during a meeting with members of the German parliament's control committee for intelligence issues.
The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, which is responsible for counter-espionage, is currently investigating whether the NSA has gained access to Internet traffic traveling through Germany. According to information provided by Hans-Georg Maassen, the president of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, an initial analysis failed to provide clarity on the issue. "So far, we have no information that Internet nodes in Germany have been spied on by the NSA," Maassen told SPIEGEL.

2013-07-07 Snowden urged to accept Venezuela asylum offer

An influential Russian parliament member who often speaks for the Kremlin encouraged NSA leaker Edward Snowden on Sunday to accept Venezuela's offer of asylum.
Alexei Pushkov, who heads the international affairs committee in Russia's parliament, posted a message on Twitter saying: "Venezuela is waiting for an answer from Snowden. This, perhaps, is his last chance to receive political asylum."
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua said Saturday that his country has not yet been in contact with Snowden, who Russian officials say has been stuck in the transit area of Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport since arriving on a flight from Hong Kong two weeks ago.
He has been unable to travel further because the United States annulled his passport.Jaua said he expects to consult with Russian officials on Monday about Snowden's situation.
Pushkov's comments appeared to indicate that the Kremlin is now anxious to be rid of the former National Security Agency systems analyst, whom the U.S. wants returned to face espionage charges.
There has been no response from the Kremlin or Russian Foreign Ministry to the asylum offer made by Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro in the early hours of Saturday, Moscow time.

2013-07-06 ERIC LICHTBLAU. In Secret, Court Vastly Broadens Powers of N.S.A.

In more than a dozen classified rulings, the nation’s surveillance court has created a secret body of law giving the National Security Agency the power to amass vast collections of data on Americans while pursuing not only terrorism suspects, but also people possibly involved in nuclear proliferation, espionage and cyberattacks, officials say.
The 11-member Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, known as the FISA court, was once mostly focused on approving case-by-case wiretapping orders. But since major changes in legislation and greater judicial oversight of intelligence operations were instituted six years ago, it has quietly become almost a parallel Supreme Court, serving as the ultimate arbiter on surveillance issues and delivering opinions that will most likely shape intelligence practices for years to come, the officials said.
Last month, a former National Security Agency contractor, Edward J. Snowden, leaked a classified order from the FISA court, which authorized the collection of all phone-tracing data from Verizon business customers. But the court’s still-secret decisions go far beyond any single surveillance order, the officials said.
In one of the court’s most important decisions, the judges have expanded the use in terrorism cases of a legal principle known as the “special needs” doctrine and carved out an exception to the Fourth Amendment’s requirement of a warrant for searches and seizures, the officials said.
The special needs doctrine was originally established in 1989 by the Supreme Court in a ruling allowing the drug testing of railway workers, finding that a minimal intrusion on privacy was justified by the government’s need to combat an overriding public danger. Applying that concept more broadly, the FISA judges have ruled that the N.S.A.’s collection and examination of Americans’ communications data to track possible terrorists does not run afoul of the Fourth Amendment, the officials said.
While President Obama and his intelligence advisers have spoken of the surveillance programs leaked by Mr. Snowden mainly in terms of combating terrorism, the court has also interpreted the law in ways that extend into other national security concerns. In one recent case, for instance, intelligence officials were able to get access to an e-mail attachment sent within the United States because they said they were worried that the e-mail contained a schematic drawing or a diagram possibly connected to Iran’s nuclear program.
In the past, that probably would have required a court warrant because the suspicious e-mail involved American communications. In this case, however, a little-noticed provision in a 2008 law, expanding the definition of “foreign intelligence” to include “weapons of mass destruction,” was used to justify access to the message.
The court’s use of that language has allowed intelligence officials to get wider access to data and communications that they believe may be linked to nuclear proliferation, the officials said. They added that other secret findings had eased access to data on espionage, cyberattacks and other possible threats connected to foreign intelligence.
“The definition of ‘foreign intelligence’ is very broad,” another former intelligence official said in an interview. “An espionage target, a nuclear proliferation target, that all falls within FISA, and the court has signed off on that.”
Unlike the Supreme Court, the FISA court hears from only one side in the case — the government — and its findings are almost never made public. A Court of Review is empaneled to hear appeals, but that is known to have happened only a handful of times in the court’s history, and no case has ever been taken to the Supreme Court. In fact, it is not clear in all circumstances whether Internet and phone companies that are turning over the reams of data even have the right to appear before the FISA court.
Created by Congress in 1978 as a check against wiretapping abuses by the government, the court meets in a secure, nondescript room in the federal courthouse in Washington. All of the current 11 judges, who serve seven-year terms, were appointed to the special court by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., and 10 of them were nominated to the bench by Republican presidents. Most hail from districts outside the capital and come in rotating shifts to hear surveillance applications; a single judge signs most surveillance orders, which totaled nearly 1,800 last year. None of the requests from the intelligence agencies was denied, according to the court.
Beyond broader legal rulings, the judges have had to resolve questions about newer types of technology, like video conferencing, and how and when the government can get access to them, the officials said.
The judges have also had to intervene repeatedly when private Internet and phone companies, which provide much of the data to the N.S.A., have raised concerns that the government is overreaching in its demands for records or when the government itself reports that it has inadvertently collected more data than was authorized, the officials said. In such cases, the court has repeatedly ordered the N.S.A. to destroy the Internet or phone data that was improperly collected, the officials said.
Geoffrey R. Stone, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Chicago, said he was troubled by the idea that the court is creating a significant body of law without hearing from anyone outside the government, forgoing the adversarial system that is a staple of the American justice system. “That whole notion is missing in this process,” he said.
The FISA judges have bristled at criticism that they are a rubber stamp for the government, occasionally speaking out to say they apply rigor in their scrutiny of government requests. Most of the surveillance operations involve the N.S.A., an eavesdropping behemoth that has listening posts around the world. Its role in gathering intelligence within the United States has grown enormously since the Sept. 11 attacks.
Soon after, President George W. Bush, under a secret wiretapping program that circumvented the FISA court, authorized the N.S.A. to collect metadata and in some cases listen in on foreign calls to or from the United States. After a heated debate, the essential elements of the Bush program were put into law by Congress in 2007, but with greater involvement by the FISA court.
Even before the leaks by Mr. Snowden, members of Congress and civil liberties advocates had been pressing for declassifying and publicly releasing court decisions, perhaps in summary form.
Reggie B. Walton, the FISA court’s presiding judge, wrote in March that he recognized the “potential benefit of better informing the public” about the court’s decisions. But, he said, there are “serious obstacles” to doing so because of the potential for misunderstanding caused by omitting classified details.

2013-07-06 Glenn Greenwald. The NSA's mass and indiscriminate spying on Brazilians

As the headline suggests, the crux of the main article details how the 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. The story follows an article in Der Spiegel last week, written by Laura Poitras and reporters from that paper, detailing the NSA's mass and indiscriminate collection of the electronic communications of millions of Germans. There are many more populations of non-adversarial countries which have been subjected to the same type of mass surveillance net by the NSA: indeed, the list of those which haven't been are shorter than those which have. The claim that any other nation is engaging in anything remotely approaching indiscriminate worldwide surveillance of this sort is baseless.
As those two articles detail, all of this bulk, indiscriminate surveillance aimed at populations of friendly foreign nations is part of the NSA's "FAIRVIEW" program. Under that program, the NSA partners with a large US telecommunications company, the identity of which is currently unknown, and that US company then partners with telecoms in the foreign countries. Those partnerships allow the US company access to those countries' telecommunications systems, and that access is then exploited to direct traffic to the NSA's repositories. Both articles are based on top secret documents provided by Edward Snowden; O Globo published several of them.
That the US government - in complete secrecy - is constructing a ubiquitous spying apparatus aimed not only at its own citizens, but all of the world's citizens, has profound consequences. It erodes, if not eliminates, the ability to use the internet with any remnant of privacy or personal security. It vests the US government with boundless power over those to whom it has no accountability. It permits allies of the US - including aggressively oppressive ones - to benefit from indiscriminate spying on their citizens' communications. It radically alters the balance of power between the US and ordinary citizens of the world. And it sends an unmistakable signal to the world that while the US very minimally values the privacy rights of Americans, it assigns zero value to the privacy of everyone else on the planet.
This development - the construction of a worldwide, ubiquitous electronic surveillance apparatus - is self-evidently newsworthy, extreme, and dangerous. It deserves transparency. People around the world have no idea that all of their telephonic and internet communications are being collected, stored and analyzed by a distant government. But that's exactly what is happening, in secrecy and with virtually no accountability. And it is inexorably growing, all in the dark. At the very least, it merits public understanding and debate. That is now possible thanks solely to these disclosures. American special services spied on Russian calls

2013-07-05 Michael Moynihan. Edward Snowden’s Parasites: Evo Morales, Julian Assange & More

After a few weeks of hypocritical outrage and bluster from Ecuador, Cuba, and every other recent recipient of Venezuelan largesse, the media gaggle has shifted to the blustering and outraged Bolivians. According to the Bolivian government, President Evo Morales’s plane, traveling from Moscow to La Paz, was diverted to Austria after rumors percolated that Snowden was on board. He wasn’t. Morales was said to have been “humiliated” by the unplanned stopover, the victim of yet another yanqui affront to Latin American sovereignty.
Indeed, the wonderful benefit of being a small, Hugo Chávez–influenced Latin American country is that employing measured language of diplomacy pays fewer dividends than unrestrained populist rage, something that one doesn’t frequently hear from the Obama administration. As Chávez well understood—having learned it from Fidel Castro—blame for any problem or self-inflicted disaster is best transferred to the malevolent agents of Washington imperialism.
As the plane drama unfolded, Bolivian Vice President Álvaro García Linera bellowed that Morales had been “kidnapped by imperialism” in an “act of imperial arrogance.” Upon returning to a “hero’s welcome” in La Paz, Morales also blamed “North American imperialism” for the flight rerouting. Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa tweeted that “either we graduated from being colonies, or we must claim our independence, sovereignty, and dignity.” Argentinian President Cristina Kirchner blamed the “vestiges of colonialism,” and live-tweeted her attempt at “diplomacy” with Austria (no grandstanding in that). Not one to be outdone, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elías Jaua called the incident “totalitarian” and “fascist.”
A bit disproportionate, sure, but a clever way of staying relevant for a group of nations suddenly bereft of their charismatic leader—and stuck with his incompetent, unpopular, and charisma-deprived successor, Nicolas Maduro. But was anyone in the media, those spouting off on Twitter, attempting to verify the Bolivian story? After hours of assured reporting on the subject, fed to the media by Morales’s allies, the picture of imperialismo estadounidense became slightly cloudy. Much of the original narrative didn’t make sense (The Atlantic parsed the available information, concluding that the “tale of the re-routed Bolivian president’s plane is falling apart”). The story was complicated by a few important details: Morales’s plane didn’t leave from the airport housing Snowden but one on the other side of Moscow. There is also the emergence of an audio recording of the Bolivian pilot telling an air-traffic controller that “we need to land because we cannot get a correct indication of the fuel indication—we need to land.”
And speaking of Assange, did anyone seriously believe that this seasoned grandstander wouldn’t attach himself like a barnacle to the Snowden story? As the NSA leak affair unfolded, Foreign Policy noted that Assange was “struggl[ing] to remain relevant.” Indeed, Snowden didn’t release his documents to Assange and, while praising Bradley Manning’s courage, noted that unlike WikiLeaks’s document dump “every single document I disclosed … was legitimately in the public interest.”
But Assange intervened, managing to irritate the Snowden family, the Ecuadoran government, and Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, who wrote the first story based on his leaks. (When WikiLeaks released a statement purporting to be from Snowden, Greenwald said that it was “flavored with some person who isn’t Edward Snowden,” with a “virulent tone to it that didn’t strike me as his own.”) The irrelevant Assange, who hasn’t leaked anything of consequence since the material provided by Bradley Manning, is weaseling his way back into the spotlight he so craves.
If we must remove focus from Snowden and train our attention back to the information he is releasing (we should keep focusing on both), let us not do the same for all of his self-appointed surrogates. Because many of the activists (like Assange) and governments (Ecuador, Bolivia, Venezuela, Cuba) speaking up on his behalf aren’t beacons of freedom, but canny political operators.

2013-07-04 CHRISTOPHER DREW, SCOTT SHANE. Résumé Shows Snowden Honed Hacking Skills

In 2010, while working for a National Security Agency contractor, Edward J. Snowden learned to be a hacker.
He took a course that trains security professionals to think like hackers and understand their techniques, all with the intent of turning out “certified ethical hackers” who can better defend their employers’ networks.
But the certification, listed on a résumé that Mr. Snowden later prepared, would also have given him some of the skills he needed to rummage undetected through N.S.A. computer systems and gather the highly classified surveillance documents that he leaked last month, security experts say.
Mr. Snowden’s résumé, which has not been made public and was described by people who have seen it, provides a new picture of how his skills and responsibilities expanded while he worked as an intelligence contractor. Although federal officials offered only a vague description of him as a “systems administrator,” the résumé suggests that he had transformed himself into the kind of cybersecurity expert the N.S.A. is desperate to recruit, making his decision to release the documents even more embarrassing to the agency.
Mr. Snowden prepared the résumé shortly before applying for that job, while he was working in Hawaii for the N.S.A. with Dell, the computer maker, which has intelligence contracts. Little has been reported about his four years with Dell, but his résumé, as described, says that he rose from supervising computer system upgrades for the spy agency in Tokyo to working as a “cyberstrategist” and an “expert in cyber counterintelligence” at several locations in the United States.
In what may have been his last job for Dell in Hawaii, he was responsible for the security of “Windows infrastructure” in the Pacific, he wrote, according to people who have seen his résumé. He had enough access there to start making contacts with journalists in January and February about disclosing delicate information. His work for Dell may also have enabled him to see that he would have even more access at Booz Allen.
Some intelligence experts say that the types of files he improperly downloaded at Booz Allen suggest that he had shifted to the offensive side of electronic spying or cyberwarfare, in which the N.S.A. examines other nations’ computer systems to steal information or to prepare attacks. The N.S.A.’s director, Gen. Keith B. Alexander, has encouraged workers to try their skills both defensively and offensively, and moving to offense from defense is a common career pattern, officials say.
Whatever his role, Mr. Snowden’s ability to comb through the networks as a lone wolf — and walk out the door with the documents on thumb drives — shows how the agency’s internal security system has fallen short, former officials say.
By 2010, he had switched agencies and moved to Japan to work for Dell as an N.S.A. contractor, and he led a project to modernize the backup computer infrastructure, he said on the résumé. That year also appears to have been pivotal in his shift toward more sophisticated cybersecurity.
He gained his certification as an “ethical hacker” by studying materials that have helped tens of thousands of government and corporate security workers around the world learn how hackers gain access to systems and cover their tracks.
The program, operated by a company called EC-Council, has a code of honor that requires ethical hackers to keep private any confidential information that they obtain in checking systems for vulnerabilities. Sanjay Bavisi, the company’s president, said he knew of only one person who had lost his certification for making information public.

2013-07-04 DEREK KHANNA. If PRISM Is Good Policy, Why Stop With Terrorism?

If the justification for PRISM and associated programs is predicated on their potential effectiveness, why shouldn't such logic shouldn't be applied elsewhere? Here are several other even more effective public-policy solutions that also violate the Fourth Amendment in similar ways and are just as reprehensible. There is some dispute over whether PRISM and other reported programs are legal or Constitutional. I believe third-party records should be protected under the Fourth Amendment, so that access to these records requires a warrant. This is not the perspective the courts have taken. But if we are going to use personal data obtained through PRISM for terrorism purposes in a way that violates our privacy and which I would argue violates the Fourth Amendment, why not do it for other legitimate purposes?
1. Child Pornography
2. Speed Limits
3. Illegal Downloading
If the barometer for violating the Fourth Amendment is efficacy, then why should these not also be up for discussion? The answer is clear: The Fourth Amendment was not designed for efficacy. It was designed for privacy and to defend our liberty. If that's not the case, why even stop with these examples? Most of our phones have cameras and microphones that, at least in some circumstances, can be turned on remotely that would surely provide invaluable information for intelligence and law enforcement (the FBI has used this for organized crime prosecution, remotely turning on the microphone of phones to record non phone-call conversations).
Information given to the government for the NSA may be made available to other agencies such as the IRS, why wouldn't it be?

2013-07-04 France 'has vast data surveillance' - Le Monde report

France's foreign intelligence service intercepts computer and telephone data on a vast scale, like the controversial US Prism programme, according to the French daily Le Monde.
The data is stored on a supercomputer at the headquarters of the DGSE intelligence service, the paper says.
The operation is "outside the law, and beyond any proper supervision", Le Monde says.
Other French intelligence agencies allegedly access the data secretly.
It is not clear however whether the DGSE surveillance goes as far as Prism. So far French officials have not commented on Le Monde's allegations.
The DGSE allegedly analyses the "metadata" - not the contents of e-mails and other communications, but the data revealing who is speaking to whom, when and where.
Connections inside France and between France and other countries are all monitored, Le Monde reports.
The paper alleges the data is being stored on three basement floors of the DGSE building in Paris. The secret service is the French equivalent of Britain's MI6.
The operation is designed, say experts, to uncover terrorist cells. But the scale of it means that "anyone can be spied on, any time", Le Monde says.
The French government has sharply criticised the US spying, which allegedly included eavesdropping on official EU communications.
The scale of surveillance by America's National Security Agency (NSA) emerged from classified intelligence documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden.
The UK spy agency GCHQ is reported to run a similarly vast data collection operation, co-operating closely with the NSA.

2013-07-03 Bonnie Greer. Edward Snowden: there will be more 'Libertarian Millennials' like him

To many, particularly those on the centre-Right, the Snowden revelations are interesting in the particular, but no big thing in the general. Of course we are spied on, listened to, observed, the argument runs: what’s new? London has more security cameras per mile than any city on earth. You are likely to be captured up to 500 times a day if you live in the West End as I do. Our smart phones have become big data collectors, and as long as we’ve done nothing wrong, we have nothing to hide.
Snowden is, to those who feel that way, another Lefty on the run; not worth thinking about other than as an amusement, a bit of a divertissement in the daily news bulletins.

2013-07-03 Catherine E.Shoichet, Holly Yan, Laura Smith-Spark. Snowden rumors temporarily ground Bolivian president's plane in Europe

Rumors that U.S. intelligence leaker Edward Snowden hitched a ride on the Bolivian presidential jet forced the plane's temporary grounding in Austria and sparked outrage in several South American countries.
The drama unfurled when Portuguese authorities wouldn't let Bolivian President Evo Morales' plane land in Lisbon for refueling while on his way back from Russia, Bolivian Defense Minister Ruben Saavedra told CNN en Español.
France, Spain and Italy also wouldn't let the plane enter their airspace, Bolivian officials said. Such restrictions would cut off any direct path from Austria to Bolivia.
"We are told that there were some unfounded suspicions that Mr. Snowden was on the plane," Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca said.
"We do not know who has invented this lie. Someone who wants to harm our country. This information that has been circulated is malicious information to harm this country."
Late Wednesday morning, Spain agreed to let Morales' plane to stop in the Canary Islands on its way home, the Spanish Foreign Ministry said.
Morales' plane took off from Vienna shortly afterward, the Austrian Interior Ministry said. But by that time, he had spent more than 10 hours in Vienna.
Austrian officials made a voluntary check of Morales' plane and confirmed that Snowden was not on board, Interior Ministry spokesman Karl-Heinz Grundboeck said.
While in Vienna, Morales met with Austrian President Heinz Fischer and said he was "surprised by his solidarity."
"His presence means a lot. Neither Bolivia nor its president commits erroneous crimes," Morales told Bolivian state-run TV. "I am respectful of international laws, and the presence of the president strengthens me."
Outrage in Latin America
Bolivian Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera described Morales as a "hostage of imperialism."
"The president has been kidnapped by imperialism, and he is being held in Europe," he said in a televised address late Tuesday night. The vice president called for workers worldwide to protest "this act of imperial arrogance."
The situation drew a swift rebuke from Ecuador's foreign minister, who told reporters he planned to call a regional meeting of the Union of South American Nations, known as UNASUR, to discuss it.
"We consider this a huge offense, and I will call for a UNASUR special summit with foreign secretaries to discuss this issue," Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said.
Cuba's Foreign Ministry also condemned the incident.
"This constitutes an unacceptable, unfounded and arbitrary act which offends all of Latin America and the Caribbean," the ministry said in a statement.
Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner described Morales' treatment in Europe as "humiliating," the state-run news agency Telam reported.
European Union states should accord Snowden their warmest welcome, their article said. If he is abandoned in the international zone of Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport, it will mean European countries are "abandoning their principles and part of the reason for the EU," it said.
In recent days, a number of European nations have voiced concern about reports -- based on documents apparently provided by Snowden -- that the United States has been conducting surveillance on its European allies.
France believes it would be wise to delay U.S.-EU trade talks for two weeks in light of the allegations, French government spokeswoman Najat Vallaud-Belkacem said Wednesday.
She was echoing remarks made by President Francois Hollande this week after the claims first appeared in German and British media.
Germany's Economy Minister Philipp Roesler has said the reports of spying do influence the planned talks, said his spokesman, Adrian Toschev.
But the spokesman declined to back the French call for a delay to the talks, which are scheduled to begin Monday.
Bolivian authorities are investigating the source of the rumors about Snowden. Saavedra, the Bolivian defense minister, told CNN en Español that he believed the U.S. was behind them.
"This is a lie, a falsehood," he said. "It was generated by the U.S. government."
Bolivia's air travel rights were violated, he said.
"It is an outrage. It is an abuse. It is a violation of the conventions and agreements of international air transportation," he said.
The original flight plan had a refueling stop scheduled in Lisbon, said Saavedra, who is traveling with Morales. Once Portuguese authorities told them they couldn't land there for "technical reasons," the crew changed course for the Canary Islands, the defense minister said.
Right before the plane was about to fly over the French border, authorities there said they couldn't enter the country's airspace, again citing "technical issues," according to Saavedra.
"The crew informed us of this situation ... and out of caution they suggested we turn back and land at the airport in Vienna, which we did," Saavedra said.
Bolivia's foreign minister told reporters that the move had put the president's life at risk.
"Portugal owes us an explanation. France owes us an explanation," Choquehuanca said.

2013-07-03 Kathy Lally, Juan Forero. Plane ferrying Bolivian president from Europe is caught up in Snowden saga

Bolivian President Evo Morales’s plane, ferrying him home from Moscow, was redirected to Vienna late Tuesday after France and Portugal refused to allow it to enter their airspace because of the belief that the American fugitive Edward Snowden was aboard, said Bolivian and Venezuelan authorities.
Snowden, who revealed secret U.S. surveillance programs and fled to Moscow to stay beyond American reach, was not aboard the plane, an irate David Choquehuanca, Bolivia’s foreign minister, told reporters after the Bolivian delegation landed in Vienna. “We don’t know who invented this lie,” he said from Bolivia’s capital, La Paz.
Choquehuanca said the plane was an hour from French airspace when it was told it could not enter. “Portugal has to explain to us,” he said. “France has to explain to us why they canceled” flight authorization.
The allegation that the plane had been redirected for reasons related to Snowden could not be verified.
The Associated Press reported Wednesday that two officials with the French Foreign Ministry said that Morales’ plane had authorization to fly over France. They would not comment on why Bolivian officials said otherwise. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to be publicly named, according to ministry policy.
The wire service, citing an unnamed official in Vienna, reported that Morales’ aircraft asked controllers at the Vienna airport for permission to land because it needed more fuel to continue on its journey.
The aircraft took off from Vienna shortly before noon Wednesday, AP reported. Spain said the plane would be allowed to refuel in the Canary Islands, although a foreign ministry official declined to comment on a claim by Bolivia that the permission was contingent on allowing authorities to search the plane, the wire service said.
The White House, CIA and State Department all declined to comment on the situation involving the Bolivian aircraft. But the latest twist seemed to signal that U.S. authorities have been able to marshal support from European countries in what has been a feverish pursuit of the former National Security Agency contractor. It also underscored how Snowden has settled still deeper into isolation as one country after another has rejected his appeals for asylum since his disclosure of a trove of highly secret documents.
But the diverting of Morales’s plane is sure to fan anger against the United States, which is trying to play down new revelations of spying against European allies while trying to win support to corral Snowden even from countries such as Russia, Bolivia and Venezuela, which are sharply at odds with the Obama administration.
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua called the incident over Austria “an attempt on Evo Morales’s life.” He said it was a sign of how far “the empire” — a reference to the United States — and its “lackeys” would go “to hunt down a young man who has only said the truth.”
Bolivia’s defense minister, Ruben Saavedra, who was on the flight, also blamed the United States, telling Bolivian media that “this proves with clarity an attitude of sabotage and plotting by the United States, pressuring European government.” He said that Italy, too, had barred Morales’s plane from its airspace.
Pavel Felgenhauer, a longtime military analyst and observer of the KGB’s successor, the Federal Security Service, or FSB, offered this speculative scenario: Russia must be trying to see whether it can recruit Snowden.
In an interview Tuesday, Felgenhauer said that when Putin told reporters that Snowden could stay if he stopped talking about the United States, Putin was saying that Snowden had to make a choice. Putin was telling Snowden that he would be working for Russia, not for one of the newspapers publishing his leaks, Felgenhauer said.
The reason Snowden has not been seen is that border guards, who stand at the door when an international flight lands and who work for the FSB, would have hustled him off to a safe room in the airport, or even a safe house elsewhere, Felgenhauer said. Snowden probably did not use a ticket he had to Havana on June 24, the analyst said, because his minders told him the United States would force the Aeroflot flight down when it flew over U.S. territory.
“He’s cornered psychologically,” Felgenhauer said. “You bring the guy to the breaking point to see if he’s real. By now he’s probably afraid of everything, convinced he’ll be hunted down like bin Laden if he leaves here.”
As Felgenhauer put it in a Novaya Gazeta article this week, “Snowden remained in Sheremetyevo like a suitcase with a broken-off handle: a pain to carry and a shame to throw away.”

2013-07-03 Matthew Price. Snowden case: Bolivia condemns jet 'aggression'

Bolivia has accused European countries of an "act of aggression" for refusing to allow its presidential jet into their airspace, amid suggestions US fugitive Edward Snowden was on board.
Bolivia said France, Italy, Spain and Portugal had blocked the plane from flying over their territory.
President Evo Morales was flying back to Bolivia from Moscow when the plane was forced to stop in Vienna.
The jet was reportedly searched for Mr Snowden, wanted for leaking US secrets.
He was apparently not on board and is still believed to be in Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport, from where he is seeking asylum in Bolivia and several other countries.
The incident came hours after Mr Morales said his country would consider a request for political asylum from Mr Snowden.
Bolivia's UN envoy Sacha Llorenti told reporters in Geneva that he would complain to the UN about the European countries' actions.
"The decisions of these countries violated international law. We are already making procedures to denounce this to the UN secretary general," he said.
But France denied refusing the plane permission, and Spain subsequently said its airspace was open to the jet.
The Portuguese foreign ministry said Portugal had granted permission for the plane to pass through its airspace but denied the plane's request to make a refuelling stop in Lisbon because of unspecified technical reasons.
And an unnamed Vienna official told the Associated Press news agency that Mr Morales' had requested permission to land because there was "no clear indication" the plane had enough fuel to continue its flight.
But Mr Llorenti continued to insist that permission to fly through the countries' airspace had been denied at the bidding of the US.
"We have no doubt that it was an order from the White House... For no reason whatsoever should a diplomatic plane with a president [inside] be diverted from its route and forced to land in another country."
Austrian officials said the airport authorities had searched the plane, but with Mr Morales' permission.
The plane took off from Vienna on Wednesday morning, having landed there late on Tuesday.
Mr Morales said presidents should have the right to travel anywhere in the world.
"It's not an offence against the president, it is an offence against the country, against the whole of the Latin American region," he said before taking off.
He described the incident as "almost a kidnapping of 13 hours".
However, Eurocontrol - which co-ordinates Europe's airspace and traffic control - said it was "a national decision whether or not to accept a state flight" under the terms of the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation.

2013-07-03 RON NIXON. U.S. Postal Service Logging All Mail for Law Enforcement

As the world focuses on the high-tech spying of the National Security Agency, the misplaced card offers a rare glimpse inside the seemingly low-tech but prevalent snooping of the United States Postal Service.
Mr. Pickering was targeted by a longtime surveillance system called mail covers, a forerunner of a vastly more expansive effort, the Mail Isolation Control and Tracking program, in which Postal Service computers photograph the exterior of every piece of paper mail that is processed in the United States — about 160 billion pieces last year. It is not known how long the government saves the images.
Together, the two programs show that postal mail is subject to the same kind of scrutiny that the National Security Agency has given to telephone calls and e-mail.
The mail covers program, used to monitor Mr. Pickering, is more than a century old but is still considered a powerful tool. At the request of law enforcement officials, postal workers record information from the outside of letters and parcels before they are delivered. (Opening the mail would require a warrant.) The information is sent to the law enforcement agency that asked for it. Tens of thousands of pieces of mail each year undergo this scrutiny.
The Mail Isolation Control and Tracking program was created after the anthrax attacks in late 2001 that killed five people, including two postal workers. Highly secret, it seeped into public view last month when the F.B.I. cited it in its investigation of ricin-laced letters sent to President Obama and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. It enables the Postal Service to retrace the path of mail at the request of law enforcement. No one disputes that it is sweeping.
“In the past, mail covers were used when you had a reason to suspect someone of a crime,” said Mark D. Rasch, who started a computer crimes unit in the fraud section of the criminal division of the Justice Department and worked on several fraud cases using mail covers. “Now it seems to be, ‘Let’s record everyone’s mail so in the future we might go back and see who you were communicating with.’ Essentially you’ve added mail covers on millions of Americans.”

2013-07-02 Anna Arutunyan, Kim Hjelmgaard. Snowden drops Russia asylum request

NSA leaker Edward Snowden's prospects for political asylum abroad narrowed rapidly Tuesday after he withdrew his request to Russia and almost half of the 21 countries on his request list have turned him down.
The former National Security Agency contractor abandoned his request for asylum in Russia after President Vladimir Putin said Monday that he must stop his anti-American activity.
Russian news agencies Tuesday quoted Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying that Snowden, unhappy with the conditions Russia has set, had taken back his application to Moscow.
"It's true, Snowden did express a request to remain in Russia. But having found out yesterday about Russia's position, voiced by President Putin, about the conditions for theoretically doing so, he rejected his intention and request to stay in Russia," RIA Novosti quoted Peskov as saying.
Putin said Monday that Snowden would have to stop leaking U.S. secrets if he wanted to be granted asylum in Russia, where Snowden has been hiding out for eight days since his arrival from Hong Kong. Putin said that while Moscow "never hands over anybody anywhere," Snowden needed to stop harming Russia's "American partners."

2013-07-01 DAVID DISHNEAU, DAVID DISHNEAU, PAULINE JELINEK. WikiLeaks 'most wanted' list admitted in trial

A military judge is allowing prosecutors to argue an Army private used a most wanted list compiled by WikiLeaks as a guide for leaking classified information.
The "Most Wanted Leaks of 2009" was admitted as evidence Monday in the court-martial of Pfc. Bradley Manning at Fort Meade, near Baltimore.
The judge ruled the list is relevant to the government's most serious charge that Manning aided the enemy by causing intelligence to be published on the WikiLeaks website. Prosecutors are trying to prove the information Manning leaked helped al-Qaida.
The most wanted list included a request for documents about detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Manning has acknowledged sending WikiLeaks a file containing Guantanamo detainee records in March 2010.

2013-07-01 Hollande: Bugging allegations threaten EU-US trade pact

French President Francois Hollande has said allegations that the US bugged European embassies could threaten a huge planned trade deal.
Negotiations over the EU-US pact, the biggest bilateral deal ever negotiated, are due to start on 8 July.
Mr Hollande said there could be no negotiations without guarantees spying would stop "immediately".
US Secretary of State John Kerry said earlier that activities to protect national security were "not unusual".
German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said "bugging friends is unacceptable... we are no longer in the Cold War".
He added that Germany wanted the deal to go ahead but "mutual trust is necessary in order to come to an agreement".
Italy's Foreign Minister Emma Bonino said Rome had requested from Washington "clarification of a very thorny affair".
France only cleared the way for the EU-US trade pact talks in mid-June, after EU members accepted its demand to shield movies and online entertainment from the might of Hollywood and Silicon Valley.
But next week's first round of negotiations in Washington DC could now be delayed.
France's President Hollande said the US must first guarantee it had ended its surveillance of the EU.
"We cannot accept this kind of behaviour between partners and allies. We ask that this immediately stop," he told journalists during a visit to western France.
"There can be no negotiations or transactions in all areas until we have obtained these guarantees, for France but also for all of the European Union, for all partners of the United States."
Earlier, John Kerry said he did not know the truth of the allegations, published at the weekend by Der Spiegel in Germany and the Guardian in Britain, but said he had been asked about them by the EU's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and would report back to her.
But he added: "Every country in the world that is engaged in international affairs of national security undertakes lots of activities to protect its national security and all kinds of information contributes to that.

2013-07-01 Plugging the leaks in the Edward Snowden case

THE COSTS of the Edward Snowden affair continue to mount for the Obama administration — though so far the visible damage is primarily political, rather than national security-related. On Monday, President Obama and Secretary of State John F. Kerry struggled to respond to new allegations, leaked by Mr. Snowden to the German magazine Der Spiegel, that the National Security Agency (NSA) has bugged European Union offices in Washington and New York. If true — and Mr. Obama did not offer a denial — the revelation could complicate the incipient U.S.-E.U. free-trade talks and further sour Europeans’ once-soaring regard for Mr. Obama. Governments and their intelligence services, aware that allies often spy on each other, may be less perturbed….
The best solution for both Mr. Snowden and the Obama administration would be his surrender to U.S. authorities, followed by a plea negotiation. It’s hard to believe that the results would leave the 30-year-old contractor worse off than living in permanent exile in an unfree country. Sadly, the supposed friends of this naive hacker are likely advising him otherwise.

2013-07-01 Putin, Obama order FSB, FBI to find solution on Snowden

Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Barack Obama have ordered the chiefs of their respective security agencies to find a way out of the impasse caused by fugitive leaker Edward Snowden's stay in a Moscow airport, a senior official said on Monday.
Of course (Putin and Obama) don't have a solution now that would work for both sides, so they have ordered the FSB director (Alexander) Bortnikov and FBI director Robert Mueller to keep in constant contact and find solutions," the head of Russia's Security Council, Nikolai Patrushev, said in an interview with state

2013-07-01 Putin: Snowden can leave or stay - if he will not damage the US interests

2013-07-01 Rory Carroll. Rafael Correa not considering Snowden asylum: 'we helped him by mistake'

Ecuador is not considering Edward Snowden's asylum request and never intended to facilitate his flight from Hong Kong, president Rafael Correa said as the whistleblower made a personal plea to Quito for his case to be heard.
Snowden was Russia's responsibility and would have to reach Ecuadorean territory before the country would consider any asylum request, the president said in an interview with the Guardian on Monday.
"Are we responsible for getting him to Ecuador? It's not logical. The country that has to give him a safe conduct document is Russia."
The president, speaking at the presidential palace in Quito, said his government did not intentionally help Snowden travel from Hong Kong to Moscow with a temporary travel pass. "It was a mistake on our part," he added.
Asked if he thought the former NSA contractor would ever make it to Quito, he replied: "Mr Snowden's situation is very complicated, but in this moment he is in Russian territory and these are decisions for the Russian authorities."
On whether Correa would like to meet him, the president said: "Not particularly. He's a very complicated person. Strictly speaking, Mr Snowden spied for some time."
The comments contrasted with expressions of gratitude the 30-year-old fugitive issued hours later, before Correa's views had been published.

2013-07-01 Sergei L.Loiko. Edward Snowden asking 15 countries for asylum, Russian official says

Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked U.S. security secrets and is now a fugitive, met Monday morning with Russian diplomatic officials and handed them an appeal to 15 countries for political asylum, a Russian Foreign Ministry official told The Times.
“It was a desperate measure on his part after Ecuador disavowed his political protection credentials,” said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity. ”In the document Snowden reiterated once again that he is not a traitor and explained his actions only by a desire to open the world’s eyes on the flagrant violations by U.S. special services not only of American citizens but also citizens of European Union including their NATO allies.”
The official didn’t disclose the countries that were on the list. The meeting took place at Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport, where Snowden has apparently holed up in a transit lounge since fleeing from Hong Kong while seeking a route to Ecuador or somewhere else that might grant him asylum.
Kirill Kabanov, a member of the Presidential Council on Human Rights, a Kremlin advisory body, said he believes that Russia is on the list.
“In the given circumstances, Russia has two workable options: Firstly is to provide Snowden with some refugee-status papers so that he could buy a ticket and leave for some other country, or secondly to grant him political asylum,” Kabanov said in an interview with The Times.
“Snowden's actions were motivated by a desire to protect human rights and freedoms and now many rights activists in Russia are talking about him as a human rights advocate who deserves to be granted asylum, although this measure is fraught with some political inconveniences for Russia,” he said.
President Francois Hollande, who spoke to Mr Cameron yesterday, is also pushing for swift military retaliation and could authorise the use of French forces in the attack.
In a statement following the talks, Downing Street said the two men ‘agreed that a chemical weapons attack against the Syrian people on the scale that was emerging demanded a firm response from the international community. This crime must not be swept under the carpet.’
Mr Hollande’s office said: ‘France is determined that this act does not go unpunished.’

2013-06-30 ERIC SCHMITT. Snowden Revelations Will Continue, Assange Says

Julian Assange, the founder of the antisecrecy organization WikiLeaks, said on Sunday that even as Edward J. Snowden remained in diplomatic limbo at a Moscow airport, the disclosures from the classified documents he took as a National Security Agency contractor would continue.
“Look, there is no stopping the publishing process at this stage,” Mr. Assange said on the ABC News program “This Week.” “Great care has been taken to make sure that Mr. Snowden can’t be pressured by any state to stop the publication process.”
The fallout from Mr. Snowden’s revelations widened this weekend as the German magazine Der Spiegel reported that the United States had eavesdropped on European Union offices in Washington, Brussels and at the United Nations in New York.
Mr. Assange, speaking from the Ecuadorean Embassy in London where he has been ensconced for more the a year after being granted asylum, praised Mr. Snowden’s actions and compared his plight with his own. He said Mr. Snowden was likely to be indicted by a federal grand jury in Alexandria, Va., that Mr. Assange said was “made up of the C.I.A., Pentagon.”
WikiLeaks played no role in Mr. Snowden’s disclosures, but since joining forces with him, the organization has used his case to raise its own profile again.
By Mr. Assange’s account, WikiLeaks helped obtain and deliver a special refugee travel document to Mr. Snowden in Hong Kong that, with his American passport revoked, may be important if the he is allowed to leave Moscow. Mr. Snowden has sought asylum in Ecuador, but that country’s president, Rafael Correa, has said that any travel document given to Mr. Snowden was “not authorized.”
A British WikiLeaks activist, Sarah Harrison, accompanied Mr. Snowden on the Aeroflot airliner that carried him from Hong Kong to Moscow.
Asked about Mr. Snowden’s current status in Moscow, Mr. Assange said that the situation was “a very sensitive one,” adding, “It’s a matter of international diplomatic negotiations, so there’s little that I can productively say about what is happening directly.”
Mr. Assange seemed to suggest that by canceling Mr. Snowden’s passport, leaving him “for the moment marooned in Russia,” the United States had inadvertently handed the Russian spy services a potential bonanza if they exploited, as expected, the hard drives on the four laptops Mr. Snowden is believed to be carrying. “Is that really a great outcome by the State Department?” Mr. Assange said.
Asked about the fears expressed by senior American officials, including Secretary of State John Kerry, that the N.S.A. revelations could jeopardize the lives of unnamed individuals and allow terrorists to alter their means of communication to avoid detection, Mr. Assange was dismissive.
“I myself was subject to precisely this rhetoric two, three years ago, and it all proved to be false,” he said. “No one from any government says that any of our revelations in the past six years has caused anyone to come to physical harm.”

2013-06-30 SCOTT SHANE, DAVID E. SANGER. Job Title Key to Inner Access Held by Snowden

Intelligence officials refer to Edward J. Snowden’s job as a National Security Agency contractor as “systems administrator” — a bland name for the specialists who keep the computers humming. But his last job before leaking classified documents about N.S.A. surveillance, he told the news organization The Guardian, was actually “infrastructure analyst.”
It is a title that officials have carefully avoided mentioning, perhaps for fear of inviting questions about the agency’s aggressive tactics: an infrastructure analyst at the N.S.A., like a burglar casing an apartment building, looks for new ways to break into Internet and telephone traffic around the world.
That assignment helps explain how Mr. Snowden got hold of documents laying bare the top-secret capabilities of the nation’s largest intelligence agency, setting off a far-reaching political and diplomatic crisis for the Obama administration.
A close reading of Mr. Snowden’s documents shows the extent to which the eavesdropping agency now has two new roles: It is a data cruncher, with an appetite to sweep up, and hold for years, a staggering variety of information. And it is an intelligence force armed with cyberweapons, assigned not just to monitor foreign computers but also, if necessary, to attack.
After the 2001 terrorist attacks, the documents suggest, the N.S.A. decided it was too risky to wait for leads on specific suspects before going after relevant phone and Internet records. So it followed the example of the hoarder who justifies stacks of paper because someday, somehow, a single page could prove vitally important.
The agency began amassing databases of “metadata” — logs of all telephone calls collected from the major carriers and similar data on e-mail traffic. The e-mail program was halted in 2011, though it appears possible that the same data is now gathered in some other way.
The documents show that America’s phone and Internet companies grew leery of N.S.A. demands as the years passed after 9/11, fearing that customers might be angry to find out their records were shared with the government. More and more, the companies’ lawyers insisted on legal orders to compel them to comply.
So the N.S.A. came up with a solution: store the data itself. That is evidently what gave birth to a vast data storage center that the N.S.A. is building in Utah, exploiting the declining cost of storage and the advance of sophisticated search software.
Those huge databases were once called “bit buckets” in the industry — collections of electronic bits waiting to be sifted. “They park stuff in storage in the hopes that they will eventually have time to get to it,” said James Lewis, a cyberexpert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, “or that they’ll find something that they need to go back and look for in the masses of data.” But, he added, “most of it sits and is never looked at by anyone.”
Indeed, an obscure passage in one of the Snowden documents — rules for collecting Internet data that the Obama administration wrote in secret in 2009 and that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court approved — suggested that the government was concerned about its ability to process all the data it was collecting. So it got the court to approve an exception allowing the government to hold on to that information if it could not keep up. The rules said that “the communications that may be retained” for up to five years “include electronic communications acquired because of the limitation on the N.S.A.’s ability to filter communications.”
As one private expert who sometimes advises the N.S.A. on this technology put it: “This means that if you can’t desalinate all the seawater at once, you get to hold on to the ocean until you figure it out.”
Collecting that ocean requires the brazen efforts of tens of thousands of technicians like Mr. Snowden. On Thursday, President Obama played down Mr. Snowden’s importance, perhaps concerned that the manhunt was itself damaging the image and diplomatic relations of the United States. “No, I’m not going to be scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker,” the president said during a stop in Senegal.
Mr. Obama presumably meant the term to be dismissive, suggesting that Mr. Snowden (who turned 30 on June 21) was a young computer delinquent. But as an N.S.A. infrastructure analyst, Mr. Snowden was, in a sense, part of the United States’ biggest and most skilled team of hackers.
The N.S.A., Mr. Snowden’s documents show, has worked with its British counterpart, Government Communications Headquarters, to tap into hundreds of fiber-optic cables that cross the Atlantic or go on into Europe, with the N.S.A. helping sort the data. The disclosure revived old concerns that the British might be helping the N.S.A. evade American privacy protections, an accusation that American officials flatly deny.
And a secret presidential directive on cyberactivities unveiled by Mr. Snowden — discussing the primary new task of the N.S.A. and its military counterpart, Cyber Command — makes clear that when the agency’s technicians probe for vulnerabilities to collect intelligence, they also study foreign communications and computer systems to identify potential targets for a future cyberwar.
Infrastructure analysts like Mr. Snowden, in other words, are not just looking for electronic back doors into Chinese computers or Iranian mobile networks to steal secrets. They have a new double purpose: building a target list in case American leaders in a future conflict want to wipe out the computers’ hard drives or shut down the phone system.
Mr. Snowden’s collection of pilfered N.S.A. documents has cast an awkward light on officials’ past assurances to Congress and the public about their concern about Americans’ privacy.
It was only in March that James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, told a Senate committee that the N.S.A. did not collect data on millions of Americans. Mr. Snowden’s records forced Mr. Clapper to backtrack, admitting his statement was false.
Last week, two senators challenged even the accuracy of a fact sheet prepared by the N.S.A. to counter Mr. Snowden’s claims about the phone data and Internet collection programs. Agency officials did not defend themselves; the fact sheet simply disappeared, without explanation, from the agency’s Web site.
Newly disclosed slides from an N.S.A. PowerPoint presentation on the agency’s Prism database of Internet data, posted on Saturday by The Washington Post, reveal that the F.B.I. plays a role as middleman between the N.S.A. and Internet companies like Google and Yahoo. The arrangement provides the N.S.A. with a defense, however nominal, against claims that it spies on United States soil.
Even in the unaccustomed spotlight after the N.S.A. revelations, intelligence officials have concealed more than they have revealed in careful comments, fearful of alerting potential eavesdropping targets to agency methods. They invariably discuss the N.S.A.’s role in preventing terrorist attacks, an agency priority that the public can easily grasp.
In fact, as Mr. Snowden’s documents have shown, the omnivorous agency’s operations range far beyond terrorism, targeting foreigners of any conceivable interest. British eavesdroppers working with the N.S.A. penetrated London meetings of the Group of 20 industrialized nations, partly by luring delegates to fake Internet cafes, and the N.S.A. hacked into computers at Chinese universities.
At Fort Meade, on the N.S.A.’s heavily guarded campus off the Baltimore-Washington Parkway in Maryland, such disclosures are seen as devastating tip-offs to targets. The disclosure in Mr. Snowden’s documents that Skype is cooperating with orders to turn over data to the N.S.A., for example, undermined a widespread myth that the agency could not intercept the voice-over-Internet service. Warned, in effect, by Mr. Snowden, foreign officials, drug cartel leaders and terrorists may become far more careful about how, and how much, they communicate.
“We’re seeing indications that several terrorist groups are changing their communications behavior based on these disclosures,” one intelligence official said last week, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “We’re going to miss tidbits that could be useful in stopping the next plot.”
Mr. Snowden’s breach is an unplanned test of the N.S.A.’s decades-old conviction that it can operate effectively only under absolute secrecy. The agency is conducting a damage assessment — a routine step after major leaks — but the assessment itself is likely to remain classified.
The N.S.A.’s assessment of Mr. Snowden’s case will likely also consider what has become, for intelligence officials, a chilling consideration: there are thousands of people of his generation and computer skills at the agency, hired in recent years to keep up with the communications boom.
The officials fear that some of them, like young computer aficionados outside the agency, might share Mr. Snowden’s professed libertarian streak and skepticism of the government’s secret power. Intelligence bosses are keeping a closer eye on them now, hoping that there is not another self-appointed whistle-blower in their midst.

2013-06-29 Laura Poitras, Marcel Rosenbach, Fidelius Schmid, Holger Stark. Attacks from America: NSA Spied on European Union Offices

America's NSA intelligence service allegedly targeted the European Union with its spying activities. According to SPIEGEL information, the US placed bugs in the EU representation in Washington and infiltrated its computer network. Cyber attacks were also perpetrated against Brussels in New York and Washington.
Information obtained by SPIEGEL shows that America's National Security Agency (NSA) not only conducted online surveillance of European citizens, but also appears to have specifically targeted buildings housing European Union institutions. The information appears in secret documents obtained by whistleblower Edward Snowden that SPIEGEL has in part seen. A "top secret" 2010 document describes how the secret service attacked the EU's diplomatic representation in Washington.
The document suggests that in addition to installing bugs in the building in downtown Washington, DC, the European Union representation's computer network was also infiltrated. In this way, the Americans were able to access discussions in EU rooms as well as emails and internal documents on computers.
The attacks on EU institutions show yet another level in the broad scope of the NSA's spying activities. For weeks now, new details about Prism and other surveillance programs have been emerging from what had been compiled by whistleblower Snowden. It has also been revealed that the British intelligence service GCHQ operates a similar program under the name Tempora with which global telephone and Internet connections are monitored.
The documents SPIEGEL has seen indicate that the EU representation to the United Nations was attacked in a manner similar to the way surveillance was conducted against its offices in Washington. An NSA document dated September 2010 explicitly names the Europeans as a "location target".
The documents also indicate the US intelligence service was responsible for an electronic eavesdropping operation in Brussels. A little over five years ago, EU security experts noticed several telephone calls that were apparently targeting the remote maintenance system in the Justus Lipsius Building, where the EU Council of Ministers and the European Council are located. The calls were made to numbers that were very similar to the one used for the remote administration of the building's telephone system.
Security officials managed to track the calls to NATO headquarters in the Brussels suburb of Evere. A precise analysis showed that the attacks on the telecommunications system had originated from a building complex separated from the rest of the NATO headquarters that is used by NSA experts.
A review of the remote maintenance system showed that it had been called and reached several times from precisely that NATO complex. Every EU member state has rooms in the Justus Lipsius Building that can be used by EU ministers. They also have telephone and Internet connections at their disposal.

2013-06-29 MERCEDES ALVARO, DARCY CROWE. Biden Called Ecuador's President About Snowden

Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa said he spoke with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden on Friday after Mr. Biden contacted him to discuss the Edward Snowden case.
Mr. Biden asked that a request for asylum by Mr. Snowden—who has admitted to leaking secrets about U.S. surveillance—be rejected by Ecuador, according to Mr. Correa.
Mr. Correa said there will be no decision made on Mr. Snowden's asylum request unless he is on Ecuadorean territory.
The remarks from the president of the small South American nation came during his regular Saturday television broadcast.
The U.S. has revoked Mr. Snowden's passport. President Correa said earlier this week that a letter of safe passage apparently issued to him by an Ecuadorean diplomat in London is invalid. Mr. Snowden is presumed to be in the transit zone of a Moscow airport terminal, where he arrived last weekend.
Ecuador Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said Friday that his government had held discussions with Russia about how Mr. Snowden could leave the Moscow airport. The lack of travel papers from Ecuador has added to the uncertainty about how he could potentially leave Russia.

2013-06-28 James Cartwright, retired Marine general, target of Iran leak investigation

Retired U.S. Marine Gen. James Cartwright is the target of a criminal leak investigation involving a covert cyberattack on Iran's nuclear facilities in 2010. On Friday, a U.S. official confirmed to CBS News' Bob Orr that the four-star general is the target of the investigation, being conducted by the U.S. attorney out of Baltimore.
The cyberattack at the root of the investigation involves the Stuxnet computer virus, which was used in 2010 to disrupt 1,000 Iranian centrifuges and is widely believed to be sponsored by the U.S. and Israel.
The New York Times, and subsequently other newspapers, published extensive details about the attack and the Obama administration acted swiftly, launching a leak investigation to determine who provided the secret information.
As the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the second-highest ranking military officer in the U.S., Cartwright was privy to issues at the center of national security.
The Justice Department declined to comment to CBS News, and CBS News has unable to reach Cartwright.
No one, including Cartwright, has been indicted at this point in the case, but Cartwright had been identified as the target of the ongoing probe, one of two high-profile, currently ongoing cases. The other case involves the leaking of information regarding a disrupted terror plot out of Yemen.
02/23/2011 THOM SHANKER. General Is Cleared of Sex Accusations

2013-06-28 Rory Carroll, Amanda Holpuch. Ecuador cools on Edward Snowden asylum as Assange frustration grows

The plan to spirit the surveillance whistleblower Edward Snowden to sanctuary in Latin America appeared to be unravelling on Friday, amid tension between Ecuador's government and Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks.
President Rafael Correa halted an effort to help Snowden leave Russia amid concern Assange was usurping the role of the Ecuadoran government, according to leaked diplomatic correspondence published on Friday.
Amid signs Quito was cooling with Snowden and irritated with Assange, Correa declared invalid a temporary travel document which could have helped extract Snowden from his reported location in Moscow.
Correa declared that the safe conduct pass issued by Ecuador's London consul – in collaboration with Assange – was unauthorised, after other Ecuadorean diplomats privately said the WikiLeaks founder could be perceived as "running the show".

2013-06-27 Ecuador waives U.S. trade rights over Snowden case

Ecuador said on Thursday it was waiving preferential rights under a U.S. trade agreement to demonstrate its principled approach to the asylum request of former American spy agency contractor Edward Snowden.
Officials in Quito added that the U.S. fugitive's case had still not been processed because he had not reached any of its diplomatic premises.
In a deliberately cheeky touch from the leftist government of President Rafael Correa, Ecuador also offered a multimillion donation for human rights training in the United States.
Snowden, 30, is believed to be at Moscow's international airport.
"The petitioner is not in Ecuadorean territory as the law requires," government official Betty Tola said at an early morning news conference in Ecuador.
Bristling at suggestions Quito was weighing the pros and cons of Snowden's case in terms of its own interests, officials also said Ecuador would not base its decision on its desire to renew the Andean Trade Preferences Act with Washington.
"Ecuador gives up, unilaterally and irrevocably, the said customs benefits," said another official, Fernando Alvarado.
"What's more, Ecuador offers the United States economic aid of $23 million annually, similar to what we received with the trade benefits, with the intention of providing education about human rights," Alvarado added.
"Ecuador does not accept pressure or threats from anyone, nor does it trade with principles or submit them to mercantile interests, however important those may be."


It didn’t help that Congressional watchdogs — with a few exceptions, like Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky — have accepted the White House’s claims of legality. The leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, and Saxby Chambliss, Republican of Georgia, have called the surveillance legal. So have liberal-leaning commentators like Hendrik Hertzberg and David Ignatius.
This view is wrong — and not only, or even mainly, because of the privacy issues raised by the American Civil Liberties Union and other critics. The two programs violate both the letter and the spirit of federal law. No statute explicitly authorizes mass surveillance. Through a series of legal contortions, the Obama administration has argued that Congress, since 9/11, intended to implicitly authorize mass surveillance. But this strategy mostly consists of wordplay, fear-mongering and a highly selective reading of the law. Americans deserve better from the White House — and from President Obama, who has seemingly forgotten the constitutional law he once taught.
The administration has defended each of the two secret programs. Let’s examine them in turn.
Edward J. Snowden, the former N.S.A. contract employee and whistle-blower, has provided evidence that the government has phone record metadata on all Verizon customers, and probably on every American, going back seven years. This metadata is extremely revealing; investigators mining it might be able to infer whether we have an illness or an addiction, what our religious affiliations and political activities are, and so on.
The law under which the government collected this data, Section 215 of the Patriot Act, allows the F.B.I. to obtain court orders demanding that a person or company produce “tangible things,” upon showing reasonable grounds that the things sought are “relevant” to an authorized foreign intelligence investigation. The F.B.I. does not need to demonstrate probable cause that a crime has been committed, or any connection to terrorism.
Even in the fearful time when the Patriot Act was enacted, in October 2001, lawmakers never contemplated that Section 215 would be used for phone metadata, or for mass surveillance of any sort. Representative F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., a Wisconsin Republican and one of the architects of the Patriot Act, and a man not known as a civil libertarian, has said that “Congress intended to allow the intelligence communities to access targeted information for specific investigations.” The N.S.A.’s demand for information about every American’s phone calls isn’t “targeted” at all — it’s a dragnet. “How can every call that every American makes or receives be relevant to a specific investigation?” Mr. Sensenbrenner has asked. The answer is simple: It’s not.
The government claims that under Section 215 it may seize all of our phone call information now because it might conceivably be relevant to an investigation at some later date, even if there is no particular reason to believe that any but a tiny fraction of the data collected might possibly be suspicious. That is a shockingly flimsy argument — any data might be “relevant” to an investigation eventually, if by “eventually” you mean “sometime before the end of time.” If all data is “relevant,” it makes a mockery of the already shaky concept of relevance.
Let’s turn to Prism: the streamlined, electronic seizure of communications from Internet companies. In combination with what we have already learned about the N.S.A.’s access to telecommunications and Internet infrastructure, Prism is further proof that the agency is collecting vast amounts of e-mails and other messages — including communications to, from and between Americans.
The government justifies Prism under the FISA Amendments Act of 2008. Section 1881a of the act gave the president broad authority to conduct warrantless electronic surveillance. If the attorney general and the director of national intelligence certify that the purpose of the monitoring is to collect foreign intelligence information about any non­American individual or entity not known to be in the United States, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court can require companies to provide access to Americans’ international communications. The court does not approve the target or the facilities to be monitored, nor does it assess whether the government is doing enough to minimize the intrusion, correct for collection mistakes and protect privacy. Once the court issues a surveillance order, the government can issue top-secret directives to Internet companies like Google and Facebook to turn over calls, e-mails, video and voice chats, photos, voice­over IP calls (like Skype) and social networking information.
Like the Patriot Act, the FISA Amendments Act gives the government very broad surveillance authority. And yet the Prism program appears to outstrip that authority. In particular, the government “may not intentionally acquire any communication as to which the sender and all intended recipients are known at the time of the acquisition to be located in the United States.”
The government knows that it regularly obtains Americans’ protected communications. The Washington Post reported that Prism is designed to produce at least 51 percent confidence in a target’s “foreignness” — as John Oliver of “The Daily Show” put it, “a coin flip plus 1 percent.” By turning a blind eye to the fact that 49-plus percent of the communications might be purely among Americans, the N.S.A. has intentionally acquired information it is not allowed to have, even under the terrifyingly broad auspices of the FISA Amendments Act.
How could vacuuming up Americans’ communications conform with this legal limitation? Well, as James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, told Andrea Mitchell of NBC, the N.S.A. uses the word “acquire” only when it pulls information out of its gigantic database of communications and not when it first intercepts and stores the information.
If there’s a law against torturing the English language, James Clapper is in real trouble.
The Fourth Amendment obliges the government to demonstrate probable cause before conducting invasive surveillance. There is simply no precedent under the Constitution for the government’s seizing such vast amounts of revealing data on innocent Americans’ communications.
The government has made a mockery of that protection by relying on select Supreme Court cases, decided before the era of the public Internet and cellphones, to argue that citizens have no expectation of privacy in either phone metadata or in e-mails or other private electronic messages that it stores with third parties.

2013-06-27 Russian Federation Council calls for Snowden's cooperation

2013-06-26 Anna Arutunyan. Edward Snowden may be stuck in Russia

Time may be running out for U.S. fugitive Edward Snowden to get out of Russia.
The former National Security Agency contractor has been holed up in the transit area of Moscow airport since Sunday, but Snowden may only have been given a Russian transit visa valid for three days, RIA Novosti cited a source close to the case as saying on Wednesday.
"Transit passengers who have a ticket for a connecting flight and documents necessary to enter a third country can get a Russian transit visa," the source was quoted as saying. "If Snowden has these documents, then he has the right to apply for a transit visa right in the airport, in the consular point, and could well have done that."
RIA Novosti reported that Snowden had booked two tickets for flights from Moscow to Havana on June 24 and 25, but did not board either flights. If he has not been able to extend his transit visa — assuming he has one, and that it is valid for three days — it may be about to expire.
It is not immediately clear what his legal travel status would be were his transit visa to expire. The U.S. has already revoked his passport and wants Russia to honor an extradition request.
Snowden may stay in Russia:

2013-06-26 Ecuador: Decision on Edward Snowden asylum could take months

Ecuador's foreign minister said Wednesday his government could take months to decide whether to grant asylum to fugitive U.S. National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.
Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino compared Snowden's case to that of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been given asylum in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London.
"It took us two months to make a decision in the case of Assange, so do not expect us to make a decision sooner this time," Patino told a news conference during a visit to Malaysia's main city, Kuala Lumpur.
WikiLeaks spokespersons have said Ecuador is for the moment the only place Snowden has officially applied to for asylum from U.S. prosecution.
Asked if Ecuador would provide protection to Snowden while considering his request for asylum, Patino said through a translator that if Snowden "goes to the embassy, then we will make a decision."
Whether Snowden could get to the embassy is an open question. Russian President Vladimir Putin acknowledged Wednesday that Snowden is in the transit zone of Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport, but he rejected U.S. pleas to turn him over. Putin and other officials have cited the fact that legally the transit zone is not Russian territory, and therefore they'd prefer to not get involved. If Snowden were to attempt to make it to the Ecuadoran Embassy, however, he would have to cross Russian territory, and perhaps force a decision on the Kremlin.

2013-06-25 Anna Arutunyan, Kim Hjelmgaard, Zach Coleman. Putin: Snowden is in transit area of Moscow airport

U.S. spy leaker Edward Snowden is in the transit area of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday. Putin said that Russia would not extradite him.
Earlier, Russia's foreign minister said that demands to extradite Snowden to the U.S. were "ungrounded and unacceptable."
Sergey Lavrov said that Snowden has not crossed the border into Russia and that his country has had no involvement in the former National Security Agency contractor's travel plans.
"I want to say straight away that we have no connection either to Mr. Snowden or to his relationship with American justice, or to his travels around the world. He chose his route independently, and we found out about it ... through the media. He did not cross the Russian border," Lavrov said in comments carried by RIA Novosti.
"We consider as absolutely unfounded and unacceptable the attempts we are seeing to accuse Russia of violating U.S. law and almost of conspiracy, accompanied by threats against us. There is no lawful basis for this kind of behavior from American officials." he said.
Snowden flew to Russia on Sunday from Hong Kong, but he has not been seen in public after reports indicated he arrived safely in Moscow.
He failed to board a flight bound for Cuba on Monday afternoon, where it is thought he would then seek onward travel to Ecuador, and possible political asylum. The U.S. has revoked Snowden's passport, and on Monday White House spokesman Jay Carney said that it is the administration's assumption "that he is in Russia."

2013-06-25 Climate change proposal just another diversionary tactic?

Now meanwhile despite the fact that Americans view global warming is one of the least important issues of our time.
That is exactly what President Obama decided to turn his attention to today.
And -- not so subtle effort to divert attention away from the many scandals are now playing his administration.
The president unveiled what is perhaps the most radical climate change policy agenda in American history.
Now what makes matters worse he intends to implement each and every aspect of this without the approval of congress let's take a look.

2013-06-25 Putin confirms Snowden's transit

2013-06-24 Kerry: "Serious consequences" if Snowden allowed to board a plane

The White House is not happy about National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden's travels, putting out a blistering statement overnight, about the lack of cooperation from other countries.
The White House has tried hard to put pressure on the other countries involved to send Snowden to the U.S. -- to not let him go on to Havana or Ecuador. CBS News has learned that the U.S. government has been in contact with Cuba, CBS News' Bill Plante reported. A National Security Council spokesperson says also that the U.S. expects the Russians to cooperate, given the fact that the U.S. has returned criminals whom the Russians wanted.
Washington was caught very much by surprise when the Hong Kong government, with the apparent agreement of China, allowed Snowden to depart on Sunday, and has registered its deep displeasure. But the move comes as Chinese has seized on Snowden's charges that the U.S. has spied extensively on computer traffic in both Hong Kong and China.
In the meantime, White House officials say that the president has been updated regularly on Snowden's status. Officials here remain extremely concerned. There's a real sense of urgency about this because they don't know how much more classified material Snowden has in his possession.
And senior officials are very dismissive of Snowden's claim that he's advancing transparency and free speech by releasing U.S. secrets. They say that by choosing China, Russia, Ecuador and Venezuela as his protectors, his motive seems to be to injure the United States' national security.

2013-06-24 Snowden leaves, but tough lessons remain

Perhaps it is China that should be awakened and alerted by Snowden's information. For some time, US accusations against China on network security have been gaining momentum, while the reality is that the US itself can attack China almost at will.
China has to catch up with the US on network security technology to completely reverse the current international climate of opinion in this regard and restore China's image, as it is one of the main victims of US cyber attacks.
China should form its own network security forces in a just and forceful manner, and fully enhance its capability in safeguarding network security. Our current understanding and input in this regard are far from enough and we have been bound by the public opinion of the West to some extent.
There's a gap in the understanding of cyberspace between Chinese and Americans, while US strategic offensive and defensive capabilities have exceeded those of other countries by a comfortable margin.
It is worth noting that we may not have a clear idea about the network threats we face, nor can we have a full understanding of the techniques of cyber attacks that the US already has or is developing now. The importance that US attached to the Internet is not accidental.
Snowden's departure from Hong Kong will prevent the Sino-US relationship from being affected. However, the long-term lessons that should be learned from this is that we should have a sense of urgency in developing our Internet technology.
A secure Sino-US relationship requires good will from both sides, but it is also very important to narrow the gap in security technology between the two. The maturity of China's network security technology will affect the US' fundamental attitude and way of thinking in deciding its Internet policy toward China.
We wish Snowden good luck in this difficult time. His personal fate will reflect the game between US hegemony and global pursuit for fairness and justice.

2013-06-24 Snowden receives refugee document of passage from Ecuador

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said on Monday that fugitive U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden had received refugee papers from the Ecuador government to secure him safe passage as he fled Hong Kong over the weekend.
"In relation to Hong Kong, Mr Snowden was supplied with a refugee document of passage by the Ecuadorean government," Assange told reporters from inside the Ecuador embassy in London where he has been himself hiding from arrest for more than a year.
Such papers did not necessarily mean that Snowden would be granted asylum in Ecuador, Assange said.

2013-06-23 Dominic Rushe. US politicians issue warning to Russia as Edward Snowden arrives in Moscow

US politicians attacked Vladimir Putin on Sunday and called for Russia to hand over Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor who admitted leaking top secret spying documents.
As Snowden landed in Moscow after leaving Hong Kong, where the US had requested his arrest, leading Democratic senator Chuck Schumer accused the Russian president of sticking a finger in the eye of the US.
"The bottom line is very simple: allies are supposed to treat each other in decent ways and Putin always seems almost eager to put a finger in the eye of the United States, whether it is Syria, Iran and now of course with Snowden," Schumer said on CNN's State of the Union.
"That's not how allies should treat each other and I think it will have serious consequences for the United States-Russia relationship."
Republican senator Lindsey Graham told Fox News that Russia should "hold this fellow and send him back here for justice".
Republican senator Rand Paul attacked national intelligence director James Clapper, who earlier this month admitted to gibing the "least untruthful" answer to Congress when asked about the extent of US surveillance of American citizens.
Paul told CNN: "I think it is still going to be an open question with history about how this young man is judged. I do think when history looks at this they are going to contrast the behaviour of James Clapper, our national intelligence director, with Edward Snowden. Mr Clapper lied in Congress in defiance of the law in the name of security. Mr Snowden told the truth in the name of privacy." He said both had broken the law.
On Saturday House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi was booed by a crowd during a speech at activist meeting Netroots Nation when she said Snowden had broken the law.

2013-06-23 JEANNE WHALEN. WikiLeaks Reasserts Itself by Helping Leaker

Since publishing an explosive series of classified U.S. documents in 2010, WikiLeaks' fortunes have faltered. But the anti-secrecy group roared back to prominence on Sunday by helping NSA leaker Edward Snowden try to evade U.S. prosecution.
As Mr. Snowden unexpectedly flew out of Hong Kong, WikiLeaks said it was helping him seek asylum in Ecuador—the same Latin American country that threw WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange a lifeline last year as he was trying to avoid extradition to Sweden from the U.K. for questioning in a sexual-assault case.
Ecuador's decision to grant Mr. Assange political asylum and a place to live at its London embassy for the past year has created friction among the countries involved. But the WikiLeaks-Ecuador connection could potentially spark a much larger political incident if Mr. Snowden is granted asylum.
In a series of statements on Sunday, WikiLeaks said Mr. Snowden had asked the group for assistance. "Mr. Snowden requested that WikiLeaks use its legal expertise and experience to secure his safety," the group said, adding that WikiLeaks "legal advisers" were escorting Mr. Snowden in his travels.
The news of the apparent involvement marked a comeback of sorts for WikiLeaks, which has suffered setbacks in recent years. Mr. Assange's confinement to the Ecuadoran Embassy in London has largely deprived the group of its founder, although Mr. Assange has said he is still able to work from inside the embassy. WikiLeaks has also complained that a U.S. effort to block funding to the group has left it without much cash. And WikiLeaks has suffered from the departure of several associates who quarreled with Mr. Assange.
Given WikiLeaks' stated cash crunch, it wasn't clear how the group was paying to fly legal advisers around the globe with Mr. Snowden. WikiLeaks didn't respond to requests for comment on Sunday.
Nor was it immediately clear how Mr. Snowden connected with WikiLeaks, though they share some mutual contacts. One of the journalists to whom Mr. Snowden said he leaked secret documents on U.S. surveillance—Glenn Greenwald, a columnist and reporter for the Guardian—has described himself as a strong supporter of WikiLeaks. Another of the journalists who helped write articles about Mr. Snowden's leaked documents in the Guardian and the Washington Post—Laura Poitras—has recently spent time interviewing WikiLeaks staffers for a documentary film about whistleblowers. Mr. Greenwald and Ms. Poitras didn't respond to requests for comment. A post on Mr. Greenwald's Twitter account Sunday compared coverage of Mr. Snowden's flight to the frenzy around O.J. Simpson's 1994 car chase, saying: "I hope the media excitement over this White Bronco moment sustains and refocuses on what the U.S. government is doing in the dark."

2013-06-23 Richard Wolf. Snowden's travels raise concerns of foreign involvement

National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden's flight from extradition is raising new concerns about possible assistance from foreign governments.
As Snowden hopscotched from Hong Kong to Moscow Sunday, apparently en route to Cuba and then Ecuador, U.S. officials pointed angry fingers at China and Russia.
The finger-pointing followed news that Snowden, 30, the man who leaked information earlier this month about NSA telephone and Internet surveillance programs, had left Hong Kong before U.S. officials could have him extradited on espionage charges.
Senate Intelligence Committee chair Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said China "clearly had a role in this." Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., accused Russia's Vladimir Putin of "aiding and abetting Snowden's escape."
And Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said Cuban President Raul Castro or Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro could use Snowden "as a bargaining chip to get more concessions from the Obama administration."
"It is pretty clear that someone has helped him engineer his escape from Hong Kong," said Bruce Riedel of the Brookings Institution, a former CIA, Pentagon and National Security Council official. "The Snowden affair has gone from a question of being a leaker to a question of high politics among the world's major powers."
Snowden arrived in Moscow on Sunday, accompanied by an employee of WikiLeaks, which specializes in releasing classified government documents. At first, he was reportedly headed for Havana, then Caracas, Venezuela.
But the Ecuador Foreign Ministry and WikiLeaks said he will try to get to Ecuador instead. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been holed up at Ecuador's embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden on rape charges.
"This kid is a pawn in a global power play," said former congresswoman Jane Harman, head of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. "He's being used to embarrass us and to send messages to us."
Snowden spent more than a month in Hong Kong before escaping, just hours after U.S. officials said they filed a formal petition with Chinese authorities seeking his arrest and return.
The Hong Kong government said he was allowed to fly out "on his own accord" because the extradition request did not fully comply with Hong Kong law.
"It certainly shows that the failure to move with alacrity was costly," Riedel said. "There certainly will be many who say this hasn't been handled all that well."
Snowden was expected to leave Moscow on Monday after arriving on a government Aeroflot flight without a visa. But his first two stops left U.S. experts worried that China and Russia now have the data Snowden stole from the National Security Agency.
Anthony Cordesman, of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said returning Snowden to the U.S. may be difficult, and that it is already too late to prevent the spread of his information.
"You've raised the political profile and the whole debate in the media to the point where this becomes a civil liberties, freedom of speech and human rights issue," Cordesman said. "It will not be seen any more as a crime."

2013-06-23 WikiLeaks: Snowden Requested Legal Help to Safety

Anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks says it is providing legal help to wanted former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.
It says Snowden is bound for an unnamed "democratic nation via a safe route for the purpose of asylum," and that he is being escorted by diplomats and legal advisors from WikiLeaks.
WikiLeaks said in its statement Sunday that Snowden requested the group "use its legal expertise and experience to secure his safety."
Hong Kong's government confirmed earlier that Snowden has left the territory, where he had been hiding for several weeks since he revealed information on highly classified spy programs.
Russia's ITAR-Tass news agency is citing an unidentified Aeroflot official as saying Snowden would fly from Moscow to Cuba on Monday and then on to Caracas, Venezuela.

2013-06-22 GERRY MULLANY, SCOTT SHANE. Lengthy Battle on Arrest Seen in Leaks Case

The request by the Justice Department that Hong Kong detain Edward J. Snowden before it seeks his return to face espionage and theft charges in the United States is likely to set off a tangled and protracted fight over his fate, with Mr. Snowden and his lawyers having multiple tools to delay or thwart his being surrendered to American officials, legal experts said Saturday.
A public battle over the status of Mr. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor whose disclosures about American surveillance programs have riveted the country, could prove uncomfortable for the Obama administration. His revelations have provoked new criticism of the N.S.A.’s eavesdropping and data collection, and a drawn-out legal struggle could put a harsh spotlight on the tension between President Obama’s pledges of transparency and civil liberties, and a record that has included persistent secrecy and unprecedented leak prosecutions.
For the past week, Mr. Snowden, 30, has been staying in an apartment in Hong Kong’s Western neighborhood that is controlled by the Hong Kong government’s security branch, according to a person who has followed the case and spoke on the condition of anonymity. Mr. Snowden appears to have been granted access to the apartment after seeking protection from the Hong Kong police against a possible rendition attempt by the United States, the person said.
If and when the Hong Kong police detain him, Mr. Snowden can then appeal to a magistrate for his release. But he faces another complication: his 90-day tourist visa runs out in mid-August, giving the local authorities another reason to keep him in custody.
The more daunting challenge facing the United States is its expected request to have Mr. Snowden sent back to America to face criminal charges in the Eastern District of Virginia, where prosecutors have handled many major national security cases.
In recent weeks, Mr. Snowden’s plight has been seized on by multiple groups: by Hong Kong’s human rights movement, by pro-Beijing activists attracted to his defiance of the United States, and by those angered by Mr. Snowden’s claims that Hong Kong was itself the target of aggressive American surveillance efforts. And with such a potent issue stirring passions here and abroad, lawyers are likely to swarm over the high-profile case. (Mr. Snowden’s legal advisers have yet to come forward.)
Mr. Snowden and his lawyers could tie up any effort to have him sent back to the United States by claiming that “his offense is a political offense,” said Regina Ip, a former Hong Kong secretary of security and a current legislator. She added that such a claim would have “to go through various levels of our courts.” The United States’ surrender treaty with Hong Kong has an exception for political offenses.
Alternatively, Mr. Snowden could apply for asylum. Currently, asylum claims are facing lengthy delays of several years in Hong Kong, since they are handled by Hong Kong officials in cooperation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ office. Nazneen Farooqi, a local protection officer with the United Nations refugee agency, suggested last week, without addressing Mr. Snowden’s case directly, that his case would not be fast-tracked should he go this route, since, “we prioritize older cases.” And people who make asylum applications can be held in detention for weeks, months or even longer.
Finally, China could also apply behind-the-scenes pressure to slow down or block the effort to have Mr. Snowden turned over. Hong Kong enjoys legal autonomy from mainland China, but the Chinese government can intervene in diplomatic and defense matters.
While Chinese officials have steered away from commenting on the specifics of Mr. Snowden’s case, government and news outlets controlled by the Communist Party have been increasingly sympathetic to Mr. Snowden, with an opinion article in the state-run China Daily suggesting Thursday that “Snowden’s crime, if any, pales in comparison with the actions of the U.S. officials who authorized and operated the cyberespionage program.”
Overwhelming majorities in both parties in Congress appear to support the prosecution of Mr. Snowden. But his revelations have already produced some uncomfortable moments for the administration: a Republican congressman who helped write the Patriot Act, Representative Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, declared one leaked N.S.A. program “un-American,” and the director of national intelligence, James R. Clapper Jr., was forced to admit that his previous statement to Congress that the agency did not collect records on millions of Americans was untrue.
Mr. Snowden is the seventh person to be accused by the Obama administration of violating the Espionage Act of 1917 by leaking secrets to the news media, compared with three such cases under all previous presidents. And unlike others accused of leaking, Mr. Snowden went public with his own explanation of his actions before he was charged, giving a series of interviews to The Guardian and portraying the leaks as an act of conscience intended to give Americans a chance to decide the appropriate limits of spying. He has drawn support from a wide swath of the political left and the libertarian right in the United States.
Even if he is silenced by the Hong Kong authorities during a removal battle, his supporters will echo and amplify his claim to have acted in the interest of democracy. Mr. Obama, who said after the leaks surfaced that he welcomed a debate over surveillance programs, will preside symbolically over the pursuit and punishment of the man who started the debate.
“For better or worse, it’s the president’s prerogative to decide what’s classified and what’s not,” said Stephen Vladeck, a law professor at American University. “But it’s reasonable to think that the administration deserves some blame for leaving it to people like Snowden to start a public debate on these issues.”

2013-06-22 Glenn Greenwald. On the Espionage Act charges against Edward Snowden

The US government has charged Edward Snowden with three felonies, including two under the Espionage Act, the 1917 statute enacted to criminalize dissent against World War I.
Prior to Barack Obama's inauguration, there were a grand total of three prosecutions of leakers under the Espionage Act (including the prosecution of Dan Ellsberg by the Nixon DOJ). That's because the statute is so broad that even the US government has largely refrained from using it. But during the Obama presidency, there are now seven such prosecutions: more than double the number under all prior US presidents combined. How can anyone justify that?
d have - but chose not - sold the information he had to a foreign intelligence service for vast sums of money, or covertly passed it to one of America's enemies, or worked at the direction of a foreign government. That is espionage. He did none of those things.
What he did instead was give up his life of career stability and economic prosperity, living with his long-time girlfriend in Hawaii, in order to inform his fellow citizens (both in America and around the world) of what the US government and its allies are doing to them and their privacy. He did that by very carefully selecting which documents he thought should be disclosed and concealed, then gave them to a newspaper with a team of editors and journalists and repeatedly insisted that journalistic judgments be exercised about which of those documents should be published in the public interest and which should be withheld.
In what conceivable sense does that merit felony charges under the Espionage Act?
The essence of that extremely broad, century-old law is that one is guilty if one discloses classified information "with intent or reason to believe that the information is to be used to the injury of the United States, or to the advantage of any foreign nation".

2013-06-21 EVAN PEREZ. U.S. Files Criminal Charges Against Snowden

U.S. prosecutors have filed criminal charges against National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, U.S. officials said Friday, kicking off what is expected to be a lengthy process to have him returned to the U.S.
Mr. Snowden has said he leaked documents exposing NSA surveillance programs that he said he believed were overly intrusive. He is believed to be in hiding in Hong Kong.
The criminal charges, including espionage and theft of government property, were filed under seal in federal court, allowing U.S. authorities to begin steps to try to return Mr. Snowden to the U.S., officials said. Those steps include issuing an Interpol "red notice" to stop him from traveling and seeking formal arrest by authorities in Hong Kong.

2013-06-21 Ewen MacAskill, Julian Borger, Nick Hopkins, Nick Davies, James Ball. GCHQ taps fibre-optic cables for secret access to world's communications

Britain's spy agency GCHQ has secretly gained access to the network of cables which carry the world's phone calls and internet traffic and has started to process vast streams of sensitive personal information which it is sharing with its American partner, the National Security Agency (NSA).
The sheer scale of the agency's ambition is reflected in the titles of its two principal components: Mastering the Internet and Global Telecoms Exploitation, aimed at scooping up as much online and telephone traffic as possible. This is all being carried out without any form of public acknowledgement or debate.
One key innovation has been GCHQ's ability to tap into and store huge volumes of data drawn from fibre-optic cables for up to 30 days so that it can be sifted and analysed. That operation, codenamed Tempora, has been running for some 18 months.
GCHQ and the NSA are consequently able to access and process vast quantities of communications between entirely innocent people, as well as targeted suspects.
This includes recordings of phone calls, the content of email messages, entries on Facebook and the history of any internet user's access to websites – all of which is deemed legal, even though the warrant system was supposed to limit interception to a specified range of targets.
The existence of the programme has been disclosed in documents shown to the Guardian by the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden as part of his attempt to expose what he has called "the largest programme of suspicionless surveillance in human history".
By 2010, two years after the project was first trialled, it was able to boast it had the "biggest internet access" of any member of the Five Eyes electronic eavesdropping alliance, comprising the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
UK officials could also claim GCHQ "produces larger amounts of metadata than NSA". (Metadata describes basic information on who has been contacting whom, without detailing the content.)
By May last year 300 analysts from GCHQ, and 250 from the NSA, had been assigned to sift through the flood of data.
The Americans were given guidelines for its use, but were told in legal briefings by GCHQ lawyers: "We have a light oversight regime compared with the US".
Each of the cables carries data at a rate of 10 gigabits per second, so the tapped cables had the capacity, in theory, to deliver more than 21 petabytes a day…
And the scale of the programme is constantly increasing as more cables are tapped and GCHQ data storage facilities in the UK and abroad are expanded with the aim of processing terabits (thousands of gigabits) of data at a time.
For the 2 billion users of the world wide web, Tempora represents a window on to their everyday lives, sucking up every form of communication from the fibre-optic cables that ring the world.
The NSA has meanwhile opened a second window, in the form of the Prism operation, revealed earlier this month by the Guardian, from which it secured access to the internal systems of global companies that service the internet.
The GCHQ mass tapping operation has been built up over five years by attaching intercept probes to transatlantic fibre-optic cables where they land on British shores carrying data to western Europe from telephone exchanges and internet servers in north America.
This was done under secret agreements with commercial companies, described in one document as "intercept partners".
The papers seen by the Guardian suggest some companies have been paid for the cost of their co-operation and GCHQ went to great lengths to keep their names secret. They were assigned "sensitive relationship teams" and staff were urged in one internal guidance paper to disguise the origin of "special source" material in their reports for fear that the role of the companies as intercept partners would cause "high-level political fallout".
The source with knowledge of intelligence said on Friday the companies were obliged to co-operate in this operation. They are forbidden from revealing the existence of warrants compelling them to allow GCHQ access to the cables.
"There's an overarching condition of the licensing of the companies that they have to co-operate in this. Should they decline, we can compel them to do so. They have no choice."
The source said that although GCHQ was collecting a "vast haystack of data" what they were looking for was "needles".
"Essentially, we have a process that allows us to select a small number of needles in a haystack. We are not looking at every piece of straw. There are certain triggers that allow you to discard or not examine a lot of data so you are just looking at needles. If you had the impression we are reading millions of emails, we are not. There is no intention in this whole programme to use it for looking at UK domestic traffic – British people talking to each other," the source said.
He explained that when such "needles" were found a log was made and the interception commissioner could see that log.
However, the legitimacy of the operation is in doubt. According to GCHQ's legal advice, it was given the go-ahead by applying old law to new technology. The 2000 Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa) requires the tapping of defined targets to be authorised by a warrant signed by the home secretary or foreign secretary.
However, an obscure clause allows the foreign secretary to sign a certificate for the interception of broad categories of material, as long as one end of the monitored communications is abroad. But the nature of modern fibre-optic communications means that a proportion of internal UK traffic is relayed abroad and then returns through the cables.
Parliament passed the Ripa law to allow GCHQ to trawl for information, but it did so 13 years ago with no inkling of the scale on which GCHQ would attempt to exploit the certificates, enabling it to gather and process data regardless of whether it belongs to identified targets.
Historically, the spy agencies have intercepted international communications by focusing on microwave towers and satellites. The NSA's intercept station at Menwith Hill in North Yorkshire played a leading role in this. One internal document quotes the head of the NSA, Lieutenant General Keith Alexander, on a visit to Menwith Hill in June 2008, asking: "Why can't we collect all the signals all the time? Sounds like a good summer project for Menwith."
By then, however, satellite interception accounted for only a small part of the network traffic. Most of it now travels on fibre-optic cables, and the UK's position on the western edge of Europe gave it natural access to cables emerging from the Atlantic.
The data collected provides a powerful tool in the hands of the security agencies, enabling them to sift for evidence of serious crime. According to the source, it has allowed them to discover new techniques used by terrorists to avoid security checks and to identify terrorists planning atrocities. It has also been used against child exploitation networks and in the field of cyberdefence.
It was claimed on Friday that it directly led to the arrest and imprisonment of a cell in the Midlands who were planning co-ordinated attacks; to the arrest of five Luton-based individuals preparing acts of terror, and to the arrest of three London-based people planning attacks prior to the Olympics.
The processing centres apply a series of sophisticated computer programmes in order to filter the material through what is known as MVR – massive volume reduction. The first filter immediately rejects high-volume, low-value traffic, such as peer-to-peer downloads, which reduces the volume by about 30%. Others pull out packets of information relating to "selectors" – search terms including subjects, phone numbers and email addresses of interest. Some 40,000 of these were chosen by GCHQ and 31,000 by the NSA. Most of the information extracted is "content", such as recordings of phone calls or the substance of email messages. The rest is metadata.
The GCHQ documents that the Guardian has seen illustrate a constant effort to build up storage capacity at the stations at Cheltenham, Bude and at one overseas location, as well a search for ways to maintain the agency's comparative advantage as the world's leading communications companies increasingly route their cables through Asia to cut costs. Meanwhile, technical work is ongoing to expand GCHQ's capacity to ingest data from new super cables carrying data at 100 gigabits a second. As one training slide told new users: "You are in an enviable position – have fun and make the most of it."

2013-06-21 John Shiffma, Kristina Cooke. The judges who preside over America's secret court

Twelve of the 14 judges who have served this year on the most secret court in America are Republicans and half are former prosecutors.
One is a former director of the Illinois State Police. Another helped direct the White House war on drugs. One served as a prosecutor in the Whitewater case involving the Clintons' real estate investments. Another forced President Bill Clinton to testify during the same scandal.
But judges of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, drawn from regular trial courts across the country, also have issued orders in public cases that belie their conservative, law-enforcement roots, sometimes ruling against the government in terrorism-related cases.
Years after the drug official - Reggie Walton - left George W. Bush's White House, he sentenced Scooter Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, to 30 months in prison for perjury. And years after Bush appointed the Whitewater prosecutor - John Bates - to the federal bench, he declared part of a law on military commissions unconstitutional.
The trial court judges who sit on the FISA court wield great power working in secret. The court has come under scrutiny after Britain's Guardian newspaper published details of a secret FISA court order requiring Verizon Communications to provide data to the NSA.
Selected by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, FISA judges serve for staggered seven-year terms. Although the court carries 11 judges at a time, 14 have served this year because of routine turnover.
Six of the 14 were originally appointed to the trial courts by George W. Bush; five by Ronald Reagan; two by Clinton and one by George H. W. Bush.
"Since FISA was enacted in 1978, we've had three chief justices, and they have all been conservative Republicans, so I think one can worry that there is insufficient diversity," said Stephen Vladeck, a law professor at American University's Washington College of Law.
* Reggie Walton, the current FISA presiding judge, may be best known for two high-profile perjury trials - the one with Libby, who was ultimately pardoned by Bush and another against former baseball pitcher Roger Clemens. Walton declared a mistrial in Clemens case after the government improperly presented evidence and on retrial the athlete was acquitted. Lawyers say Walton is a stern judge at sentencing, but note he has also chaired the national prison rape commission. "He's pro-government, but I don't think he's pro-government in terms of doing reflexively what the government wants," a defense lawyer wrote of Walton in an anonymous survey published by the Almanac of the Federal Judiciary.
* James Zagel, who led the Illinois State Police for seven years, co-authored widely-used law school text books on criminal procedure, wrote a critically-acclaimed crime novel, presided over the corruption trial of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich and appeared as an actor in a 1991 David Mamet movie, 'Homicide.' "He leans slightly toward the government," a defense attorney wrote in the Almanac survey.
* Roger Vinson of Florida, who signed the Verizon order, is perhaps best known for striking down the Obama Administration's health care law in 2011. He declared the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate unconstitutional and federal government overreach. The Supreme Court, led by Roberts, disagreed. Vinson's seven-year term on the FISA court expired in May.
* John Bates of Washington, D.C., the judge who served as a Whitewater prosecutor, has dealt blows to the Obama administration in rulings on the indefinite detention of terror suspects. In 2009, Bates ruled that to be held at Guantanamo Bay indefinitely, a detainee must be a member of Al Qaeda, the Taliban or associated groups or have committed belligerent acts. Simply supporting those organizations, he ruled, is not enough. Bates' term expired in February.
* Mary A. McLaughlin of Pennsylvania is the sole Democrat. She spent three decades working for white-shoe law firms and four years as a prosecutor. In 1995, McLaughlin served as a special counsel to a U.S. Senate subcommittee investigating an alleged FBI cover-up following a fatal shoot-out in Ruby Ridge, Idaho. The Almanac reports that defense lawyers describe her as fair and, as one said, "right down the middle on everything."
* Martin Feldman of Louisiana was active in Republican politics from the Eisenhower to Reagan Administrations. He counts as a mentor and clerked for the liberal Republican John Minor Wisdom, an appeals judge credited with issuing significant civil rights rulings during the 1960s. An expert in tax and business law, Feldman most recently presided over litigation related to the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill.
* Raymond Dearie of New York, a veteran prosecutor, was described in the Almanac survey by defense attorneys as fair. "He has no leanings," one reported.
* Thomas Hogan of Washington, D.C. has been involved in several high-profile cases, including a ruling that restricted public access to White House records kept by President Richard Nixon, an order requiring the Library of Congress to keep publishing a Braille version of Playboy for the blind and a decision that directed the government to stop routinely denying security clearances to naturalized Americans born in certain countries.
* Susan Webber Wright of Arkansas is best known as the judge who presided over the sexual harassment case Paula Jones filed against Clinton. Wright ruled that Clinton could postpone the lawsuit until after he left office, but the Supreme Court disagreed. She later held Clinton in contempt of court for lying under oath about a sexual encounter with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

2013-06-20 Firm that checked NSA leaker's background under investigation

The government contractor that performed a background investigation of the man who says he disclosed two National Security Agency surveillance programs is under investigation, a government watchdog said Thursday.
Patrick McFarland, the inspector general at the Office of Personnel Management, said during a Senate hearing that the contractor USIS is being investigated and that the company performed a background investigation of Edward Snowden.
A background investigation is required for federal employees and contractors seeking a security clearance that gives them access to classified information.
Of the 4.9 million people with clearance to access "confidential and secret" government information, 1.1 million, or 21 percent, work for outside contractors, according to a January report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Of the 1.4 million who have the higher "top secret" access, 483,000, or 34 percent, work for contractors.

2013-06-19 BRIAN ROSS, AARON KATERSKY, JAMES GORDON MEEK, LEE FERRAN. NSA Claim of Thwarted NYSE Plot Contradicted by Court Documents

Court documents and FBI field reports reviewed by ABC News undercut and contradict the dramatic testimony from senior counter-terrorism officials that the National Security Agency's surveillance programs thwarted an attack by al Qaeda on the New York Stock Exchange.
According to an FBI interview with an imprisoned al Qaeda figure involved in the plot, "there was no further operational planning of that target" after surveillance found the four streets around the exchange building "were blocked off from vehicular traffic."
The FBI document was filed last month in federal court in New York as part of the government sentencing memorandum for one of the alleged plotters, Sabirhan Hasanoff, who is to be sentenced next week.
But the FBI deputy director, Sean Joyce, provided Congress with a different version of events Tuesday as he cited the stock exchange plot as one of more than 50 "terror events" that had been disrupted with the help of the NSA's secret surveillance programs.
"We went up on the electronic surveillance and identified his co-conspirators and this was the plot that was in the very initial stages of plotting to bomb the New York Stock Exchange," Joyce testified.
Asked whether it was a "serious plot" by one member of Congress, Joyce said, "I think the jury considered it serious since they were all convicted."
In fact, ABC News found there was no jury trial of any of the three alleged plotters. None of them were charged with planning an attack on Wall Street. Rather, all three pleaded guilty to charges including providing financial and material support to al Qaeda.
A U.S. official familiar with the case acknowledged that Joyce had "misspoke" about a jury finding.
The official insisted that a terror plot may not seem like a serious threat if it's stopped in the planning stages, as the Stock Exchange targeting was.
"It was, as Deputy Director Joyce stated, in its nascent stages and could have progressed well beyond that if it wasn't for our ability to obtain the FISA material," the official told ABC News.
Describing the charges against one of the plotters, Khalid Ouazzani of Kansas City, the then-United States attorney Beth Phillips, now a federal judge, said, "We have no evidence that Ouazzani engaged in any specific plot against the United States government."
A spokesman, Don Ledford, today added, "We would still stand by that, that he posed no imminent threat to the public."
On August 7, Hasanoff wrote in an email to his al Qaeda coordinator in Yemen, intercepted by the government, "I have visited the tourist locations you asked me about and will report to you after two weeks in detail."
The FBI report says the al Qaeda leader "was not satisfied with the report, and he accordingly disposed of it. (The report apparently lacked sufficient detail about New York Stock Exchange security matters to be as helpful as the Doctor had hoped.)"
The attorney for Hasanoff, David Rhunke, said the idea that the FBI and the NSA would use the alleged plot to justify the surveillance programs is "almost silly."
In his plea to the court ahead of sentencing, Hasanoff said "he deliberately provided nothing beyond what anyone could have learned from Google Earth, a tourist map or brochure." He said there was "no further discussion of surveillance of the NYSE or any other tourist sites after August 2008."
Yet, FBI deputy director Joyce repeatedly cited the case in defending the controversial electronic surveillance. "I sit before you today, humbly, to say these tools have helped us," he said.

2013-06-18 Esther Addley. Assange will not leave Ecuador embassy even if Sweden drops extradition bid

Julian Assange will not leave Ecuador's embassy even if Sweden drops its extradition bid over accusations of sexual assault, because he fears moves are already underway by the US to prosecute him on espionage charges, he has said.
On the eve of the anniversary of his seeking asylum in the embassy in Knightsbridge, Assange said he believed a sealed indictment had already been lodged by a grand jury in Virginia, which could see him being arrested and extradited by Britain to the US to face prosecution over the WikiLeaks cable releases.
"The strong view of my US lawyer is that there is already a sealed indictment, which means I would be arrested, unless the British government gave information or guarantees that would grant me safe passage," the WikiLeaks founder told a small group of news agencies.

2013-06-18 NSA leaks: Father urges Snowden not to commit 'treason'

The father of Edward Snowden, the ex-CIA worker who leaked top secret information on US surveillance programmes, has issued a public plea urging his son to not commit "treason".
"I hope, I pray and ask that you will not release any secrets that could constitute treason," Lon Snowden said in an interview with Fox News.
He also asked his son, currently in hiding in Hong Kong, to "face justice".
But Edward Snowden has vowed to fight any extradition attempts by the US.
On Monday, the former intelligence contractor said US officials had destroyed any possibility of a fair trial by labelling him a traitor.
"The US government, just as they did with other whistleblowers, immediately and predictably destroyed any possibility of a fair trial at home, openly declaring me guilty of treason," wrote the 29-year-old in a live online chat.
"I would like to see Ed come home and face this," he said.
"I have faith in our justice system: I would rather my son be a prisoner in the US than a free man in a country that [does] not have the kind of freedoms that we have."

2013-06-17 DAVID FEITH. The Snowden Mythology

Edward Snowden introduced himself to the world last week as a defender of American civil liberties, a young man who risked his livelihood and safety to protect fellow Americans from improper intrusions into their privacy. Yet with each passing day—and new revelation—he demonstrates that he's engaged in little more than espionage gossip.
Snowden's latest claim is that U.S., British and other Western intelligence agencies collaborated to spy on the emails and phone calls of foreign diplomats visiting London for meetings of the G20 in 2009. Targets supposedly included Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Turkish Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek.
Let's assume such sleuthing indeed went on. When did it violate any American's privacy? Never. Which makes it a lot like the supposed spying involved in Snowden's previous claim, from several days ago, about the U.S. hacking into the "internet backbone" of Hong Kong.
Snowden's bona fides as a defender of American constitutional rights were suspect from the get-go, as he never pointed to any illegal activity by the U.S. government, even in the programs (such as PRISM) that dealt with Americans' communications and generated the initial controversy. That didn't stop sundry pundits and even some members of Congress from anointing him a "whistle-blower."
Turns out he's more of a diplomatic punk whose focus isn't on American civil liberties and whose leaks are timed to cause maximum embarrassment to the U.S. On the day of President Obama's high-profile summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Snowden revealed secrets about U.S. contingencies for cyber operations against China. Monday's news about the 2009 spying at the G20 comes just as world leaders are gathering in Northern Ireland for a summit of the G8.
We can only expect more gossipy disclosures to come, and more damage to the hacktivist hagiography that portrays Snowden as a warrior for liberty. Unfortunately, far more damage will be done in the process to U.S. national security.

2013-06-17 KIMBERLY DOZIER. Obama: NSA secret data gathering "transparent"

President Barack Obama defended top secret National Security Agency spying programs as legal in a lengthy interview Monday, and called them transparent — even though they are authorized in secret.
"It is transparent," Obama told PBS's Charlie Rose in an interview to be broadcast Monday. "That's why we set up the FISA court," he added, referring to the secret court set up by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that authorizes two recently disclosed programs: one that gathers U.S. phone records and another that is designed to track the use of U.S.-based Internet servers by foreigners with possible links to terrorism.
The location of FISA courts is secret. The sessions are closed. The orders that result from hearings in which only government lawyers are present are classified.
"We're going to have to find ways where the public has an assurance that there are checks and balances in place ... that their phone calls aren't being listened into; their text messages aren't being monitored, their emails are not being read by some big brother somewhere," Obama said.

2013-06-17 Obama: Secret NSA surveillance is 'transparent'

President Barack Obama defended top secret National Security Agency spying programs as legal in a lengthy interview Monday, and called them transparent — even though they are authorized in secret.
"It is transparent," Obama told PBS's Charlie Rose in an interview to be broadcast Monday. "That's why we set up the FISA court," he added, referring to the secret court set up by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that authorizes two recently disclosed programs: one that gathers U.S. phone records and another that is designed to track the use of U.S.-based Internet servers by foreigners with possible links to terrorism.
The location of FISA courts is secret. The sessions are closed. The orders that result from hearings in which only government lawyers are present are classified.

2013-06-16 Aubrey Bloomfield. Booz Allen Hamilton: 70% of the U.S. Intelligence Budget Goes to Private Contractors

Following Edward Snowden's leaking of details of government surveillance programs, the issue of the U.S. intelligence community's use of private contractors has again been highlighted. Snowden worked for Booz Allen Hamilton, a consulting firm that which describes itself as a leading provider of management and technology services to "government clients in defense, intelligence, and the civil sectors." Yet Booz Allen Hamilton is just one of many private contractors; other prominent examples include Palantir Technologies Inc, i2, and Science Applications International Corp (SAIC), working for the government in the intelligence sector, with a massive 70% of the U.S. intelligence budget currently going to such firms.
The outsourcing of government intelligence work to private contractors took off after 9/11, with Salon's Tim Shorrock arguing in 2007 that "spying has become one of the fastest-growing private industries in the United States." The trend is part of an increasing government reliance on private contractors, especially in the military, over the past decade or so which can be seen in their use in the Iraq and Afghan wars. Back in March 2007, the U.S. government publicly revealed for the first time that it spends 70% of its intelligence budget on private contracts. An investigation by the Washington Post in 2010 found that "1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the country." In 2005, the value of these contracts was $42 billion, more than double what it was in 1995.
One of the key issues with outsourcing such work, as Shorrock noted, is that "because of the cloak of secrecy thrown over the intelligence budgets, there is no way for the American public, or even much of Congress, to know how those contractors are getting the money, what they are doing with it, or how effectively they are using it." In a recent interview with Democracy Now, Christopher Pyle, a whistle-blower who exposed the CIA and Army's surveillance of millions of back in the 1970s, said that Trailblazer, a precursor to the PRISM program, "wasted $1 billion on private contracts." The problem, according to Pyle, is that:
"We now have a situation where members of the Intelligence Committee and other committees of Congress intercede with the bureaucracy to get sweetheart contracts for companies that waste taxpayers’ money and also violate the Constitution and the privacy of citizens [and this] means that it’s much more difficult to get effective oversight from Congress."
Key members of the U.S. intelligence community have held, or have gone on to hold, key positions within these these private firms, highlighting the worryingly symbiotic nature of the relationship. The current head of U.S. national intelligence (DNI), James Clapper, is a former Booz Allen executive, while the man he took over from as DNI, Mike McConnell, is the current vice-chairman of the firm. Former CIA director James Woolsey was also a vice president of the company, while another former CIA director, George Tenet, has also earned millions of dollars working for private corporations with contracts with U.S. intelligence agencies. William J. Black, who used to work for the NSA, left the agency and started working for SAIC, before rejoining the NSA as deputy director.

2013-06-16 Cheney defends NSA programs, says Snowden a 'traitor,' Obama 'lacks credibility'

Former Vice President Dick Cheney on Sunday strongly defended the recently exposed U.S. surveillance programs, which he helped craft in the aftermath of 9/11, but sharply criticized President Obama for his handling of a range of issues from the Syrian civil war to the Benghazi terror attacks.
He said former NSA contractor Edward Snowden exposing the gathering of information of phone calls and emails has done “enormous damage” to the United State’s anti-terror programs and called Snowden a “traitor.”
Cheney also said top Capitol Hill lawmakers participated in the drafting of the Patriot Act.
“We did it in my office in the West Wing,” he said.
Cheney also said the lawmakers advised him not to seek further congressional oversight for fear of leaks and argued that 9/11 attacks in which terrorists killed roughly 3,000 people by hijacking commercial jets and slamming them into the Pentagon and the World Trade Center likely could have been foiled had the surveillance plan already been in place.
Cheney’s strongest criticism was directed at Obama.
Cheney said the president has not been “standup” and “forthright” about the Sept. 11, 2012, terror attacks on a U.S. outpost in Benghazi, Libya, in which U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed.
The sharpest criticism has been about whether the administration had adequate security before the attacks, made every attempt to rescue the Americans and about why officials in the aftermath of the attacks scrub intelligence information suggesting they were terror related and instead said they were sparked by an anti-Islamic video.
Cheney acknowledge the two-year Syrian war in which rebels are trying to overthrow the regime of President Bashar Assad in a complex situation, but said it has not been “well handled” by the administration and that Obama “lacks credibility.”

2013-06-16 Ken Dilanian. Edward Snowden's not the first to make claims about NSA

Mathematician William Binney worked for the National Security Agency for four decades, and in the late 1990s he helped design a system to sort through the digital data the agency was sucking up in the exploding universe of bits and bytes.
When the agency picked a rival technology, he became disillusioned. He retired a month after the terrorist attacks of Sept 11, 2001, and later went public with his concerns.
Binney and several other former NSA employees said that the cyber-spying agency had created a massive digital dragnet to secretly track communications of Americans. Government officials denied the allegations and dismissed Binney and the others as conspiracy theorists who lost a bureaucratic fight.
Revelations from Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who leaked secrets to the media, have made it clear that the NSA has been collecting and storing millions of domestic phone records every day — numbers, time and location, but not content — for at least seven years.
Another program, known as PRISM, has given the NSA access since at least 2007 to emails, video chats and other communications through U.S. Internet companies to spy on foreigners. American emails inevitably were swept up as well.
Were Binney and his colleagues right? Is the NSA conducing secret surveillance of Americans?
U.S. intelligence officials and senior members of Congress say no. The say authorities need a court order to actually use data gathered by the NSA on "U.S. persons," and only for investigations into terrorism or foreign espionage. If your data is sitting on an NSA server somewhere but is never examined, they argue, is your privacy really being invaded?
"What we create is a set of data … and only under specific times can we query that data," Gen. Keith Alexander, the NSA director, told a Senate committee Wednesday. "And when we do that it's auditable…. We don't get to swim through the data."
James R. Clapper, director of national intelligence, used the metaphor of a library catalog system. All the telephone metadata goes into the library, but taking a specific book "off the shelf, opening it up and reading it" would require a warrant, he told NBC News.
And Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, said the "vast majority" of records are never accessed and are deleted after five years.
In a lawsuit, Rumold's group argues the NSA has used a "shadow network of surveillance devices" to acquire communications "of practically every American who uses the phone system or the Internet … in an unprecedented suspicionless general search through the nation's communications networks."
The group cites evidence from Mark Klein, who in 2006 went public with documents purporting to show a secret room at an AT&T facility in San Francisco where he believed the NSA was copying telecommunications traffic. AT&T lawyers have acknowledged in court that the documents are genuine — without confirming that they show what Klein believes.
Klein said what he found was consistent with Snowden's disclosures on NSA programs code-named Fairview and Blarney, which involved the collection of communications on fiber cables and infrastructure as data flows past, as well as the PRISM program that accesses data from Internet companies.
Although the programs target foreigners, data on Americans are also captured. It is supposed to be discarded or blacked out under a process called minimization.

2013-06-16 Obama does not feel Americans' privacy violated -chief of staff

President Barack Obama does not believe the recently disclosed top-secret National Security Agency surveillance of phone records and Internet data has violated Americans' privacy rights, his chief of staff said on Sunday.
Denis McDonough, appearing on CBS's "Face the Nation" program, also said he did not know the whereabouts of Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who said he was the source of reports in Britain's Guardian newspaper and The Washington Post about the agency's monitoring of phone and Internet data at big companies such as Verizon Communications Inc, Google Inc and Facebook Inc.
The administration has said the top-secret collection of massive amounts of "metadata" from phone calls - raw information that does not identify individual telephone subscribers, was legal and authorized by Congress in the interests of thwarting militant attacks. It has said the agencies did not monitor calls.
Asked whether Obama feels he has violated the privacy of Americans, McDonough said, "He does not."

2013-06-16 Peter Eisler, Susan Page. 3 NSA veterans speak out on whistle-blower: We told you so

When a National Security Agency contractor revealed top-secret details this month on the government's collection of Americans' phone and Internet records, one select group of intelligence veterans breathed a sigh of relief.
Thomas Drake, William Binney and J. Kirk Wiebe belong to a select fraternity: the NSA officials who paved the way.
For years, the three whistle-blowers had told anyone who would listen that the NSA collects huge swaths of communications data from U.S. citizens. They had spent decades in the top ranks of the agency, designing and managing the very data-collection systems they say have been turned against Americans. When they became convinced that fundamental constitutional rights were being violated, they complained first to their superiors, then to federal investigators, congressional oversight committees and, finally, to the news media.
To the intelligence community, the trio are villains who compromised what the government classifies as some of its most secret, crucial and successful initiatives. They have been investigated as criminals and forced to give up careers, reputations and friendships built over a lifetime.
Today, they feel vindicated.
On Friday, USA TODAY brought Drake, Binney and Wiebe together for the first time since the story broke to discuss the NSA revelations. With their lawyer, Jesselyn Radack of the Government Accountability Project, they weighed their implications and their repercussions. They disputed the administration's claim of the impact of the disclosures on national security — and President Obama's argument that Congress and the courts are providing effective oversight.
And they have warnings for Snowden on what he should expect next.
Q: Did Edward Snowden do the right thing in going public?
William Binney: We tried to stay for the better part of seven years inside the government trying to get the government to recognize the unconstitutional, illegal activity that they were doing and openly admit that and devise certain ways that would be constitutionally and legally acceptable to achieve the ends they were really after. And that just failed totally because no one in Congress or — we couldn't get anybody in the courts, and certainly the Department of Justice and inspector general's office didn't pay any attention to it. And all of the efforts we made just produced no change whatsoever. All it did was continue to get worse and expand.
Jesselyn Radack: Not only did they go through multiple and all the proper internal channels and they failed, but more than that, it was turned against them. ... The inspector general was the one who gave their names to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution under the Espionage Act. And they were all targets of a federal criminal investigation, and Tom ended up being prosecuted — and it was for blowing the whistle.
Q: Did foreign governments, terrorist organizations, get information they didn't have already?
Binney: Ever since ... 1997-1998 ... those terrorists have known that we've been monitoring all of these communications all along. So they have already adjusted to the fact that we are doing that. So the fact that it is published in the U.S. news that we're doing that, has no effect on them whatsoever. They have already adjusted to that.
Q: What did you learn from the document — the Verizon warrant issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court — that Snowden leaked?
Drake: It's an extraordinary order. I mean, it's the first time we've publicly seen an actual, secret, surveillance-court order. I don't really want to call it "foreign intelligence" (court) anymore, because I think it's just become a surveillance court, OK? And we are all foreigners now. By virtue of that order, every single phone record that Verizon has is turned over each and every day to NSA.
There is no probable cause. There is no indication of any kind of counterterrorism investigation or operation. It's simply: "Give us the data." ...
There's really two other factors here in the order that you could get at. One is that the FBI requesting the data. And two, the order directs Verizon to pass all that data to NSA, not the FBI.
Binney: What it is really saying is the NSA becomes a processing service for the FBI to use to interrogate information directly. ... The implications are that everybody's privacy is violated, and it can retroactively analyze the activity of anybody in the country back almost 12 years.
Now, the other point that is important about that is the serial number of the order: 13-dash-80. That means it's the 80th order of the court in 2013. ... Those orders are issued every quarter, and this is the second quarter, so you have to divide 80 by two and you get 40.
If you make the assumption that all those orders have to deal with companies and the turnover of material by those companies to the government, then there are at least 40 companies involved in that transfer of information. However, if Verizon, which is Order No. 80, and the first quarter got order No. 1 — then there can be as many as 79 companies involved.
So somewhere between 40 and 79 is the number of companies, Internet and telecom companies, that are participating in this data transfer in the NSA.
Radack: I consider this to be an unlawful order. While I am glad that we finally have something tangible to look at, this order came from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. They have no jurisdiction to authorize domestic-to-domestic surveillance.
Binney: Not surprised, but it's documentation that can't be refuted.
Wiebe: It's formal proof of our suspicions.
Q: What was your first reaction when you saw it?
Binney: Mine was that it's documentary evidence of what we have been saying all along, so they couldn't deny it.
Drake: For me, it was material evidence of an institutional crime that we now claim is criminal.
Binney: Which is still criminal.
Wiebe: It's criminal.
Q: Thomas Drake, you worked as a contractor for the NSA for about a decade before you went on staff there. Were you surprised that a 29-year-old contractor based in Hawaii was able to get access to the sort of information that he released?
Binney: Part of his job as the system administrator, he was to maintain the system. Keep the databases running. Keep the communications working. Keep the programs that were interrogating them operating. So that meant he was like a super-user. He could go on the network or go into any file or any system and change it or add to it or whatever, just to make sure — because he would be responsible to get it back up and running if, in fact, it failed.
So that meant he had access to go in and put anything. That's why he said, I think, "I can even target the president or a judge." If he knew their phone numbers or attributes, he could insert them into the target list which would be distributed worldwide. And then it would be collected, yeah, that's right. As a super-user, he could do that.
Q: As he said, he could tap the president's phone?
Binney: As a super-user and manager of data in the data system, yes, they could go in and change anything.
Q: At a Senate hearing in March, Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden asked the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, if there was mass data collection of Americans. He said "no." Was that a lie?
Drake: This is incredible dissembling. We're talking about the oversight committee, unable to get a straight answer because if the straight answer was given it would reveal the perfidy that's actually going on inside the secret side of the government.
Q: What should Clapper have said?
Binney: He should have said, "I can't comment in an open forum."
Q: Does Congress provide effective oversight for these programs?
Radack: Congress has been a rubber stamp, basically, and the judicial branch has been basically shut down from hearing these lawsuits because every time they do they are told that the people who are challenging these programs either have no standing or (are covered by) the state secrets privilege, and the government says that they can't go forward. So the idea that we have robust checks and balances on this is a myth.
Binney: But the way it's set up now, it's a joke. I mean, it can't work the way it is because they have no real way of seeing into what these agencies are doing. They are totally dependent on the agencies briefing them on programs, telling them what they are doing. And as long as the agencies tell them, they will know. If they don't tell them, they don't know. And that's what's been going on here.
And the only way they really could correct that is to create billets on these committees and integrate people in these agencies so they can go around every day and watch what is happening and then feed back the truth as to what's going on, instead of the story that they get from the NSA or other agencies. ...
Even take the FISA court, for example. The judges signed that order. I mean, I am sure they (the FBI) swore on an affidavit to the judge, "These are the reasons why," but the judge has no foundation to challenge anything that they present to him. What information does the judge have to make a decision against them? I mean, he has absolutely nothing. So that's really not an oversight.
Radack: The proof is in the pudding. Last year alone, in 2012, they approved 1,856 applications and they denied none. And that is typical from everything that has happened in previous years. ... I know the government has been asserting that all of this is kosher and legitimate because the FISA court signed off on it. The FISA court is a secret court — operates in secret. There is only one side and has rarely disapproved anything.
Q: Do you think President Obama fully knows and understands what the NSA is doing?
Binney: No. I mean, it's obvious. I mean, the Congress doesn't either. I mean, they are all being told what I call techno-babble ... and they (lawmakers) don't really don't understand what the NSA does and how it operates. Even when they get briefings, they still don't understand.
Radack: Even for people in the know, I feel like Congress is being misled.
Binney: Bamboozled.
Radack: I call it perjury.
Q: What should Edward Snowden expect now?
Binney: Well, first of all, I think he should expect to be treated just like Bradley Manning (an Army private now being court-martialed for leaking documents to WikiLeaks). The U.S. government gets ahold of him, that's exactly the way he will be treated.
Q: He'll be prosecuted?
Binney: First tortured, then maybe even rendered and tortured and then incarcerated and then tried and incarcerated or even executed.
Drake: But see, I am Exhibit No. 1. ...You know, I was charged with 10 felony counts. I was facing 35 years in prison. This is how far the state will go to punish you out of retaliation and reprisal and retribution. ... My life has been changed. It's been turned inside, upside down. I lived on the blunt end of the surveillance bubble. ... When you are faced essentially with the rest of your life in prison, you really begin to understand and appreciate more so than I ever have — in terms of four times I took the oath to support the Constitution — what those rights and freedoms really mean. ...
Believe me, they are going to put everything they have got to get him. I think there really is a risk. There is a risk he will eventually be pulled off the street.
Q: What do you mean?
Drake: Well, fear of rendition. There is going to be a team sent in.
Radack: We have already unleashed the full force of the entire executive branch against him and are now doing a worldwide manhunt to bring him in — something more akin to what we would do for Osama bin Laden. And I know for a fact, if we do get him, he would definitely face Espionage Act charges, as other people have who have exposed information of government wrongdoing. And I heard a number of people in Congress (say) he would also be charged with treason.
These are obviously the most serious offenses that can be leveled against an American. And the people who so far have faced them and have never intended to harm the U.S. or benefit the foreign nations have always wanted to go public. And they face severe consequences as a defector. That's why I understand why he is seeking asylum. I think he has a valid fear.
Wiebe: We are going to find out what kind of country we are, what have we become, what do we want to be.
Q: What would you say to him?
Binney: I would tell him to steer away from anything that isn't a public service — like talking about the ability of the U.S. government to hack into other countries or other people is not a public service. So that's kind of compromising capabilities and sources and methods, basically. That's getting away from the public service that he did initially. And those would be the acts that people would charge him with as clearly treason.
Lawyer Jesselyn Radack, left, with whistle-blowers J. Kirk Wiebe, standing; William Binney, center; and Thomas Drake.(Photo: H. Darr Beiser, USA TODAY) NSA Whistleblowers William (Bill) Binney and J. Kirk Wiebe
12/16/2005 NYT JAMES RISEN, ERIC LICHTBLAU. Bush Lets U.S. Spy on Callers Without Courts

2013-06-12 Peter Foster, Raf Sanchez. US state department accused of covering up 'prostitution' investigation

Aurelia Fedenisn, a former State Department investigator, told CBS News that her unit had found evidence of widespread sex and drug scandals but were told not to look into it.
Among the allegations are claims that Howard Gutman, the US ambassador to Belgium, solicited sex from prostitutes and children in a public park.
The claims of a cover-up were rejected by senior State Department officials, however they raise the prospect of further tainting the record of Hillary Clinton at the State Department, which is already under scrutiny for her handling of the Benghazi consulate attacks in September last year.
A memo from the Department's inspector general, which has been seen by The Daily Telegraph, said an investigator found evidence Mr Gutman "routinely ditched his protective security detail in order to solicit sexual favours from both prostitutes and minor children".
Mr Gutman, a donor to President Barack Obama who raised a total of $775,000 for his 2008 campaign, said the allegations against him were "baseless".

2013-06-11 DAVID SIROTA. Put the NSA on trial

“When the president does it that means it is not illegal.” These infamous words from Richard Nixon appear to summarize the public legal justification for the Obama administration’s unprecedented mass surveillance operation. Perhaps worse, Permanent Washington would have us believe that this rationale is unquestionably accurate and that therefore the National Security Administration’s surveillance is perfectly legal.
For example, Richard Haas of the Council on Foreign Relations said of Edward Snowden: “‘Whistleblower’ is person who reveals wrongdoing, corruption, illegal activity. none of this applies here even if you oppose U.S. government policy.” Likewise, the Boston Globe’s Bryan Bender insists, “I wish media would stop calling Snowden a whistleblower — it maligns those who truly reveal corrupt or illegal activity.” And the New Yorker’s Jeffrey Toobin definitively states: “These were legally authorized programs.”
The idea here, which has quickly become the standard talking point for partisans trying to defend the NSA program and the Obama administration, is that while you may object to the NSA’s mass surveillance system, it is nonetheless perfectly legal as is the conduct surrounding it. Therefore, the logic goes, Snowden isn’t an honorable “whistle-blower” he’s a traitorous “leaker,” and the only criminal in this case is Snowden and Snowden alone.
The first — and most simple — way to debunk this talking point is to simply behold two sets of testimony by Obama administration national security officials. In one, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper categorically denies that the government “collect(s) any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans.” In another, the Guardian reports that NSA Director General Keith Alexander “denied point-blank that the agency had the figures on how many Americans had their electronic communications collected or reviewed.”
Both of those claims, of course, were exposed as lies by Snowden’s disclosures. So at minimum Snowden deserves the title “whistle-blower” (and the attendant protections that are supposed to come with such a title) because his disclosures outed Clapper and Alexander’s statements as probable cases of illegal perjury before Congress. In other words, in terms of perjury, the disclosures didn’t expose controversial-but-legal activity, they exposed illegal behavior.

2013-06-11 HAYLEY PETERSON. Revealed: The U.S. ambassador accused of 'soliciting prostitutes in public parks' as damning internal memo accuses State Department of sex scandal cover-up
A damning internal memo claims the State Department called off an investigation into allegations that U.S. Ambassador to Belgium Howard Gutman repeatedly trawled overseas public parks in search of prostitutes, including minors.
Undersecretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy ordered the investigation closed shortly after it was opened, according to the memo obtained by MailOnline. Gutman, who has not been charged with any crimes, said the allegations are 'baseless.'
The case against Gutman, a top Obama donor, was being investigated by the State Department's Inspector General, an independent investigative arm.
The investigating agent 'had determined that the ambassador routinely ditched his protective security detail in order to solicit sexual favors from both prostitutes and minor children,' the IG memo states. 'As the agent began to plan surveillance on the ambassador to obtain corroboration, the agent reportedly received notification that [Kennedy] had directed [the IG] to cease the investigation and have the agent return to Washington.'
Gutman is a top donor to President Obama, having raised a total of $775,000 for his 2008 campaign and inauguration committee, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. He has been married to his wife, Michelle Loewinger, since 1981.
The case against Gutman is just one in a series of supposed coverups outlined in the memo. All specific references to the thwarted investigations were omitted in a final draft of the report.
CBS News' John Miller was the first to report on the memo.
In another case cited in the memo, State Department officials reportedly manipulated an investigation into the 'endemic' hiring of prostitutes among agents belonging to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's security detail.
Seven agents were accused of paying for sex while traveling with Clinton overseas. Two agents confessed to the deeds while a third 'stated he paid for services that were ultimately not received.'
In one instance, State Department superiors allowed an offending agent to continue his role in securing a Moscow hotel 'despite obvious counterintelligence issues.'
Investigators later uncovered evidence against four more agents and concluded that the problem within Clinton's security detail was 'endemic.'
The document also references an 'underground drug ring' operating near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad that allegedly provided drugs to U.S. security contractor.
The memo was brought to light by Aurelia Fedenisn, a former investigator for the State Department Inspector General. She says is sharing the memo with the media to shed light on how internal investigations are influenced by the State Department.

2013-06-11 John Bacon. Contractor fires Snowden from $122,000 per-year job

The consulting firm Booz Allen issued a statement Tuesday confirming that Edward Snowden, 29, was an employee of the firm for less than 3 months, assigned to a team in Hawaii.
The statement says Snowden had a salary rate of $122,000 -- and was terminated Monday "for violations of the firm's code of ethics and firm policy."

2013-06-11 John Brandon. Inside the NSA’s secret Utah data center

As Americans demand answers about the government's wholesale electronic snooping on its citizens, the primary snooper -- the National Security Agency (NSA) -- is building a monstrous digital datacenter in a remote corner of Utah capable of sorting through and storing every e-mail, voicemail, and social media communication it can get its hands on.
This top-secret data warehouse could hold as many as 1.25 million 4-terabyte hard drives, built into some 5,000 servers to store the trillions upon trillions of ones and zeroes that make up your digital fingerprint.
"The NSA -- like any large organization -- is using numerous kinds of storage systems," King told, including "innovative SSD and in-memory systems for high performance applications like real time analytics."
Some reports have suggested the data center could hold as much as 5 zetabytes…
The NSA likely uses open-source UNIX operating systems rather than the Microsoft software common in business. And the storage and servers are probably custom-made, due to the scale of the operation…
There’s a precedent for secretive organizations making their own hardware. In March, Wired reported that Google makes its own data center equipment as a way to keep operations secret and tamper-proof.
“The company is apparently so paranoid about competitors catching a glimpse of its gear, it’s been known to keep its server cages in complete darkness, outfitting its technical staff like miners and sending them spelunking into the cages with lights on their heads…
The National Security Agency is not spying on our U.S. citizens -- and the thought is not only illegal, it’s ludicrous,” said James C. Foster, CEO and Founder of Riskive.
Vines told a similar story, reiterating a statement about how the facility will be used: “One of the biggest misconceptions about NSA is that we are unlawfully listening in on, or reading e-mails of, U.S. citizens. This is simply not the case.”

2013-06-11 JOSEPH STERNBERG. Who Voted for Snowden?

America already has a method for resolving these questions, and Edward Snowden has entirely undermined it. He and whistleblowers like him infringe the civil rights of everyone else.
What civil rights? The vote, for one. The Founding Fathers in their wisdom intended that the policy questions that so trouble Snowden should be hashed out chiefly by the elected branches of government. The theory is that questions of balancing security and liberty are so important they should be decided by all voters, acting through their representatives.
In this sense, Edward Snowden has just put his right to participate in deciding this issue ahead of mine. It appears that the legislation authorizing the NSA programs at issue here were the 2008 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act amendments, and the 2012 reauthorization of those amendments. Both times, the law received ample public attention and significant debate. And in both cases, all three of my representatives in Congress supported the bills.
"What they're doing poses an existential threat to democracy," Snowden said of the NSA program in an interview with the Guardian. But what he himself is doing is profoundly antidemocratic in the contempt it shows for the preferences of millions of fellow citizens expressed at the ballot box—and even for those citizens' right to have a definitive say in the matter at all. The irony is that in leaking his secrets the way he did, Snowden has become precisely the thing he purports to hate and fear: a reckless and unaccountable government employee running roughshod over democracy.

2013-06-11 Ron Paul: Edward Snowden May Be Target Of U.S. Drone Strike

Former Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) warned Tuesday that the U.S. government may use a drone missile to kill Edward Snowden, who recently leaked classified information on National Security Administration surveillance programs.
"I'm worried about somebody in our government might kill him with a cruise missile or a drone missile," Paul said during an interview on Fox Business News. "I mean, we live in a bad time where American citizens don't even have rights and that they can be killed. But the gentleman is trying to tell the truth about what's going on."
Snowden, a former NSA contractor, fled to Hong Kong before disclosing over the weekend that he was behind the leaks of information on NSA's sweeping monitoring of phone calls and Internet data. His actions have reignited a debate on Capitol Hill around security and civil liberties, and revived bipartisan legislation aimed at declassifying court opinions used to justify mass surveillance.

2013-06-11 SCOTT SHANE, JONATHAN WEISMAN. N.S.A. Disclosures Put Awkward Light on Previous Denials

For years, intelligence officials have tried to debunk what they called a popular myth about the National Security Agency: that its electronic net routinely sweeps up information about millions of Americans. In speeches and Congressional testimony, they have suggested that the agency’s immense power is focused exclusively on terrorists and other foreign targets, and that it does not invade Americans’ privacy.
But since the disclosures last week showing that the agency does indeed routinely collect data on the phone calls of millions of Americans, Obama administration officials have struggled to explain what now appear to have been misleading past statements. Much of the attention has been focused on testimony by James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, to the Senate in March that the N.S.A. was not gathering data on millions of Americans.
Representative Brad Sherman, Democrat of California, said he had come away from a closed-door briefing by intelligence officials for House members believing that the N.S.A. had too much latitude and too little oversight.
“Right now we have a situation where the executive branch is getting a billion records a day, and we’re told they will not query that data except pursuant to very clear standards,” Mr. Sherman said. “But we don’t have the courts making sure that those standards are always followed.”
Many lawmakers trained their sights on Edward J. Snowden, the intelligence contractor who leaked classified documents to The Guardian and The Washington Post. Mr. Boehner called him a traitor.
Mr. Reid took the unusual step of publicly slapping back at fellow senators — including senior Democrats — who have suggested that most lawmakers have been kept in the dark about the issue.
“For senators to complain that they didn’t know this was happening, we had many, many meetings that have been both classified and unclassified that members have been invited to,” Mr. Reid said. “They shouldn’t come and say, ‘I wasn’t aware of this,’ because they’ve had every opportunity.”
Some other statements of N.S.A. officials appear in retrospect to offer a mistaken impression of the agency’s collection of information about Americans. Mr. Wyden said he had pressed Mr. Clapper on the matter because he had been dissatisfied with what he felt were misleading answers from Gen. Keith B. Alexander, the N.S.A. director. And in a recent speech, the N.S.A.’s general counsel, Rajesh De, sought to debunk what he called “false myths” about the agency, including the idea that “N.S.A. is spying on Americans at home and abroad with questionable or no legal basis.”
While that may be literally true — there is a legal basis — it appears awkward in retrospect that Mr. De’s defense of the agency failed to mention its collection of phone data on Americans.

2013-06-10 Dan Roberts, Ewen MacAskill, James Ball . NSA snooping: Obama under pressure as senator denounces 'act of treason'

Barack Obama was facing a mounting domestic and international backlash against US surveillance operations on Monday as his administration struggled to contain one of the most explosive national security leaks in US history.
Political opinion in the US was split with some members of Congress calling for the immediate extradition from Hong Kong of the whistleblower, Edward Snowden. But other senior politicians in both main parties questioned whether US surveillance practices had gone too far.
Dianne Feinstein, chairman of the national intelligence committee, has ordered the NSA to review how it limits the exposure of Americans to government surveillance. But she made clear her disapproval of Snowden. "What he did was an act of treason," she said.
Officials in European capitals demanded immediate answers from their US counterparts and denounced the practice of secretly gathering digital information on Europeans as unacceptable, illegal and a serious violation of basic rights. The NSA, meanwhile, asked the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation and said that it was assessing the damage caused by the disclosures.
Daniel Ellsberg, the former military analyst who revealed secrets of the Vietnam war through the Pentagon Papers in 1971, described Snowden's leak as even more important and perhaps the most significant leak in American history.
The director of national intelligence, James Clapper, said in an NBC interview that he had responded in the "least untruthful manner" possible when he denied in congressional hearings last year that the NSA collected data on millions of Americans.
Clapper also confirmed that Feinstein had asked for a review to "refine these NSA processes and limit the exposure to Americans' private communications" and report back "in about a month".

2013-06-10 Daniel Ellsberg. Edward Snowden: saving us from the United Stasi of America
In my estimation, there has not been in American history a more important leak than Edward Snowden's release of NSA material – and that definitely includes the Pentagon Papers 40 years ago. Snowden's whistleblowing gives us the possibility to roll back a key part of what has amounted to an "executive coup" against the US constitution.
Since 9/11, there has been, at first secretly but increasingly openly, a revocation of the bill of rights for which this country fought over 200 years ago. In particular, the fourth and fifth amendments of the US constitution, which safeguard citizens from unwarranted intrusion by the government into their private lives, have been virtually suspended.
The government claims it has a court warrant under Fisa – but that unconstitutionally sweeping warrant is from a secret court, shielded from effective oversight, almost totally deferential to executive requests. As Russell Tice, a former National Security Agency analyst, put it: "It is a kangaroo court with a rubber stamp."
For the president then to say that there is judicial oversight is nonsense – as is the alleged oversight function of the intelligence committees in Congress. Not for the first time – as with issues of torture, kidnapping, detention, assassination by drones and death squads –they have shown themselves to be thoroughly co-opted by the agencies they supposedly monitor. They are also black holes for information that the public needs to know.
The fact that congressional leaders were "briefed" on this and went along with it, without any open debate, hearings, staff analysis, or any real chance for effective dissent, only shows how broken the system of checks and balances is in this country.
Obviously, the United States is not now a police state. But given the extent of this invasion of people's privacy, we do have the full electronic and legislative infrastructure of such a state.
In 1975, Senator Frank Church spoke of the National Security Agency in these terms:
"I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision, so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return."
The dangerous prospect of which he warned was that America's intelligence gathering capability – which is today beyond any comparison with what existed in his pre-digital era – "at any time could be turned around on the American people and no American would have any privacy left."
That has now happened. That is what Snowden has exposed, with official, secret documents. The NSA, FBI and CIA have, with the new digital technology, surveillance powers over our own citizens that the Stasi – the secret police in the former "democratic republic" of East Germany – could scarcely have dreamed of. Snowden reveals that the so-called intelligence community has become the United Stasi of America.
So we have fallen into Senator Church's abyss. The questions now are whether he was right or wrong that there is no return from it, and whether that means that effective democracy will become impossible. A week ago, I would have found it hard to argue with pessimistic answers to those conclusions.
But with Edward Snowden having put his life on the line to get this information out, quite possibly inspiring others with similar knowledge, conscience and patriotism to show comparable civil courage – in the public, in Congress, in the executive branch itself – I see the unexpected possibility of a way up and out of the abyss.

2013-06-10 Jenny Booth, Devika Bhat. Spying row whistleblower Edward Snowden urged to leave Hong Kong

A senior Hong Kong politician advised the US spying row whistleblower today to leave the city or face extradition to America.
Edward Snowden outed himself last night as the person who leaked details of the US Government’s secret surveillance operations, snooping on the e-mails of non-US citizens around the world and on phone records.

2013-06-10 Tom Gara. Booz Allen’s Top-Secret Workforce

ames Snowden, a 29-year old employee of consultancy Booz Allen Hamilton, came out as the source of leaked information on government surveillance systems over the weekend, in a fascinating interview with The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald. The revelation has put the spotlight on Booz Allen, a company made up of almost 25,000 people, 76% of whom have government security clearances allowing them to handle sensitive national security information.
Mr. Snowden said his role as a systems administrator at NYSE-listed Booz Allen gave him wide-ranging access to the surveillance systems used by U.S. intelligence agencies. That’s because the company is one of the most trusted private-sector contractors to the intelligence community, almost solely-focussed on customers in the U.S. government.

2013-06-09 Ewen MacAskill. NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden: 'I do not expect to see home again'

Edward Snowden was interviewed over several days in Hong Kong by Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill.
Q: Why did you decide to become a whistleblower?
A: "The NSA has built an infrastructure that allows it to intercept almost everything. With this capability, the vast majority of human communications are automatically ingested without targeting. If I wanted to see your emails or your wife's phone, all I have to do is use intercepts. I can get your emails, passwords, phone records, credit cards.
"I don't want to live in a society that does these sort of things … I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under."
Q: What do the leaked documents reveal?
A: "That the NSA routinely lies in response to congressional inquiries about the scope of surveillance in America. I believe that when [senator Ron] Wyden and [senator Mark] Udall asked about the scale of this, they [the NSA] said it did not have the tools to provide an answer. We do have the tools and I have maps showing where people have been scrutinised most. We collect more digital communications from America than we do from the Russians."
Q: Washington-based foreign affairs analyst Steve Clemons said he overheard at the capital's Dulles airport four men discussing an intelligence conference they had just attended. Speaking about the leaks, one of them said, according to Clemons, that both the reporter and leaker should be "disappeared". How do you feel about that?
A: "Someone responded to the story said 'real spies do not speak like that'. Well, I am a spy and that is how they talk. Whenever we had a debate in the office on how to handle crimes, they do not defend due process – they defend decisive action. They say it is better to kick someone out of a plane than let these people have a day in court. It is an authoritarian mindset in general."
Q: How to you feel now, almost a week after the first leak?
A: "I think the sense of outrage that has been expressed is justified. It has given me hope that, no matter what happens to me, the outcome will be positive for America. I do not expect to see home again, though that is what I want."

2013-06-09 Glenn Greenwald, Ewen MacAskill, Laura Poitras. Edward Snowden: the whistleblower behind the NSA surveillance revelations

The individual responsible for one of the most significant leaks in US political history is Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old former technical assistant for the CIA and current employee of the defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton. Snowden has been working at the National Security Agency for the last four years as an employee of various outside contractors, including Booz Allen and Dell.
The Guardian, after several days of interviews, is revealing his identity at his request. From the moment he decided to disclose numerous top-secret documents to the public, he was determined not to opt for the protection of anonymity. "I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong," he said.
Snowden will go down in history as one of America's most consequential whistleblowers, alongside Daniel Ellsberg and Bradley Manning. He is responsible for handing over material from one of the world's most secretive organisations – the NSA.
He has had "a very comfortable life" that included a salary of roughly $200,000, a girlfriend with whom he shared a home in Hawaii, a stable career, and a family he loves. "I'm willing to sacrifice all of that because I can't in good conscience allow the US government to destroy privacy, internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they're secretly building."

2013-06-08 JAMES RISEN, ERIC LICHTBLAU. How the U.S. Uses Technology to Mine More Data More Quickly

The partnership between the intelligence community and Palantir Technologies, a Palo Alto, Calif., company founded by a group of inventors from PayPal, is just one of many that the National Security Agency and other agencies have forged as they have rushed to unlock the secrets of “Big Data.”
Today, a revolution in software technology that allows for the highly automated and instantaneous analysis of enormous volumes of digital information has transformed the N.S.A., turning it into the virtual landlord of the digital assets of Americans and foreigners alike. The new technology has, for the first time, given America’s spies the ability to track the activities and movements of people almost anywhere in the world without actually watching them or listening to their conversations.
New disclosures that the N.S.A. has secretly acquired the phone records of millions of Americans and access to e-mails, videos and other data of foreigners from nine United States Internet companies have provided a rare glimpse into the growing reach of the nation’s largest spy agency. They have also alarmed the government: on Saturday night, Shawn Turner, a spokesman for the director of national intelligence, said that “a crimes report has been filed by the N.S.A.”
With little public debate, the N.S.A. has been undergoing rapid expansion in order to exploit the mountains of new data being created each day. The government has poured billions of dollars into the agency over the last decade, building a one-million-square-foot fortress in the mountains of Utah, apparently to store huge volumes of personal data indefinitely. It created intercept stations across the country, according to former industry and intelligence officials, and helped build one of the world’s fastest computers to crack the codes that protect information.
In addition to opening the Utah data center, reportedly scheduled for this year, N.S.A. has secretly enlarged its footprint inside the United States, according to accounts from whistle-blowers in recent years.
In Virginia, a telecommunications consultant reported, Verizon had set up a dedicated fiber-optic line running from New Jersey to Quantico, Va., home to a large military base, allowing government officials to gain access to all communications flowing through the carrier’s operations center.
In Georgia, an N.S.A. official said in interviews, the agency had combed through huge volumes of routine e-mails to and from Americans.
And in San Francisco, a technician at AT& T reported on the existence of a secret room there reserved for the N.S.A. that allowed the spy agency to copy and store millions of domestic and international phone calls routed through that station.
Nothing revealed in recent days suggests that N.S.A. eavesdroppers have violated the law by targeting ordinary Americans. On Friday, President Obama defended the agency’s collection of phone records and other metadata, saying it did not involve listening to conversations or reading the content of e-mails. “Some of the hype we’ve been hearing over the past day or so — nobody has listened to the content of people’s phone calls,” he said.

2013-06-08 LARA JAKES. Obama Defends Broad Phone, Internet Spy Programs

President Barack Obama is urging Americans to "make some choices" in balancing privacy and security as he defends once-secret surveillance programs that sweep up an estimated 3 billion phone calls a day and amass Internet data from U.S. providers in an attempt to thwart terror attacks.
Obama says it will be harder to detect threats against the U.S. now that the two top-secret tools to target terrorists have been so thoroughly publicized.
At turns defensive and defiant while speaking to reporters on Friday, Obama stood by the spy programs revealed this week.
The National Security Agency has been collecting the phone records of hundreds of millions of Americans each day, creating a database through which it can learn whether terror suspects have been in contact with people in the U.S. It also was disclosed this week that the NSA has been gathering all Internet usage — audio, video, photographs, emails and searches — from nine major U.S. Internet providers, including Microsoft and Google, in hopes of detecting suspicious behavior that begins overseas.
"Nobody is listening to your telephone calls," Obama assured the nation after two days of reports that many found unsettling. What the government is doing, he said, is digesting phone numbers and the durations of calls, seeking links that might "identify potential leads with respect to folks who might engage in terrorism."
While Obama said the aim of the programs is to make America safe, he offered no specifics about how the surveillance programs have done that. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., on Thursday said the phone records sweeps had thwarted a domestic terror attack, but he also didn't offer specifics.
Obama asserted his administration had tightened the phone records collection program since it started in the George W. Bush administration and is auditing the programs to ensure that measures to protect Americans' privacy are heeded — part of what he called efforts to resist a mindset of "you know, 'Trust me, we're doing the right thing. We know who the bad guys are.'"
But again, he provided no details on how the program was tightened or what the audit was examining.

2013-06-08 MAUREEN DOWD. Peeping Barry

When James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, was asked during a Congressional hearing in March whether the N.S.A. was collecting any information on “millions or hundreds of millions of Americans,” Clapper replied “No, sir,” adding, “not wittingly.” That denial undermines our faith in the forthrightness of those scooping up every little bit of our lives to feed into government computers.
The president calls the vast eavesdropping apparatus “modest encroachments on privacy.”
Back in 2007, Obama said he would not want to run an administration that was “Bush-Cheney lite.” He doesn’t have to worry. With prisoners denied due process at Gitmo starving themselves, with the C.I.A. not always aware who it’s killing with drones, with an overzealous approach to leaks, and with the government’s secret domestic spy business swelling, there’s nothing lite about it.

2013-06-08 Robert O’Harrow Jr., Ellen Nakashima, Barton Gellman. U.S., company officials: Internet surveillance does not indiscriminately mine data

Executives at some of the participating companies, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, acknowledged the system’s existence and said it was used to share information about foreign customers with the NSA and other parts of the nation’s intelligence community.
These executives said PRISM was created after much negotiation with federal authorities, who had pressed for easier access to data they were entitled to under previous orders granted by the secret FISA court.
The companies have publicly denied any knowledge of PRISM or any system that allows the government to directly query their central servers. But because the program is so highly classified, only a few people at most at each company would legally be allowed to know about PRISM, let alone the details of its operations.
Executives at some of the participating companies, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, acknowledged the system’s existence and said it was used to share information about foreign customers with the NSA and other parts of the nation’s intelligence community.
These executives said PRISM was created after much negotiation with federal authorities, who had pressed for easier access to data they were entitled to under previous orders granted by the secret FISA court.
One top-secret document obtained by The Post described it as “Collection directly from the servers of these U.S. Service Providers: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple.”
Intelligence community sources said that this description, although inaccurate from a technical perspective, matches the experience of analysts at the NSA. From their workstations anywhere in the world, government employees cleared for PRISM access may “task” the system and receive results from an Internet company without further interaction with the company’s staff.
In intelligence parlance, PRISM is the code name for a “signals intelligence address,” or SIGAD, in this case US-984XN, according to the NSA’s official classified description of PRISM and sources interviewed by The Post. The SIGAD is used to designate a source of electronic information, a point of access for the NSA and a method of extraction. In those terms, PRISM is a not a computer system but a set of technologies and operations for collecting intelligence from Facebook, Google and other large Internet companies.
According to a more precise description contained in a classified NSA inspector general’s report, also obtained by The Post, PRISM allows “collection managers [to send] content tasking instructions directly to equipment installed at company-controlled locations,” rather than directly to company servers. The companies cannot see the queries that are sent from the NSA to the systems installed on their premises, according to sources familiar with the PRISM process.
Crucial aspects about the mechanisms of data transfer remain publicly unknown. Several industry officials told The Post that the system pushes requested data from company servers to classified computers at FBI facilities at Quantico. The information is then shared with the NSA or other authorized intelligence agencies.
According to slides describing the mechanics of the system, PRISM works as follows: NSA employees engage the system by typing queries from their desks. For queries involving stored communications, the queries pass first through the FBI’s electronic communications surveillance unit, which reviews the search terms to ensure there are no U.S. citizens named as targets.
That unit then sends the query to the FBI’s data intercept technology unit, which connects to equipment at the Internet company and passes the results to the NSA.
The system is most often used for e-mails, but it handles chat, video, images, documents and other files as well.
“The server is controlled by the FBI,” an official with one of the companies said. “We do not offer a download feature from our server.”
Another industry official said, “No one wants the bureau logging into the company server.”
One top-secret document shows that the government is making systematic use of PRISM. An internal presentation of 41 briefing slides on PRISM suggested the scale of data collection. It described the system as the most prolific contributor to the President’s Daily Brief, which cited PRISM data in 1,477 items last year. According to the slides and other supporting materials obtained by The Post, “NSA reporting increasingly relies on PRISM” as its leading source of raw material, accounting for nearly one in seven intelligence reports.

2013-06-07 Barton Gellman, Laura Poitras. U.S., British intelligence mining data from nine U.S. Internet companies in broad secret program

The National Security Agency and the FBI are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs that enable analysts to track foreign targets, according to a top-secret document obtained by The Washington Post.
The program, code-named PRISM, has not been made public until now. It may be the first of its kind. The NSA prides itself on stealing secrets and breaking codes, and it is accustomed to corporate partnerships that help it divert data traffic or sidestep barriers. But there has never been a Google or Facebook before, and it is unlikely that there are richer troves of valuable intelligence than the ones in Silicon Valley.
Equally unusual is the way the NSA extracts what it wants, according to the document: “Collection directly from the servers of these U.S. Service Providers: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple.”
London’s Guardian newspaper reported Friday that GCHQ, Britain’s equivalent of the NSA, also has been secretly gathering intelligence from the same internet companies through an operation set up by the NSA.
According to documents obtained by The Guardian, PRISM would appear to allow GCHQ to circumvent the formal legal process required in Britain to seek personal material such as emails, photos and videos from an internet company based outside of the country.
PRISM was launched from the ashes of President George W. Bush’s secret program of warrantless domestic surveillance in 2007, after news media disclosures, lawsuits and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court forced the president to look for new authority.
In four new orders, which remain classified, the court defined massive data sets as “facilities” and agreed to certify periodically that the government had reasonable procedures in place to minimize collection of “U.S. persons” data without a warrant.
In a statement issue late Thursday, Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper said “information collected under this program is among the most important and valuable foreign intelligence information we collect, and is used to protect our nation from a wide variety of threats. The unauthorized disclosure of information about this important and entirely legal program is reprehensible and risks important protections for the security of Americans.”
“We have never heard of PRISM,” said Steve Dowling, a spokesman for Apple. “We do not provide any government agency with direct access to our servers, and any government agency requesting customer data must get a court order.”
It is possible that the conflict between the PRISM slides and the company spokesmen is the result of imprecision on the part of the NSA author. In another classified report obtained by The Post, the arrangement is described as allowing “collection managers [to send] content tasking instructions directly to equipment installed at company-controlled locations,” rather than directly to company servers.
Government officials and the document itself made clear that the NSA regarded the identities of its private partners as PRISM’s most sensitive secret, fearing that the companies would withdraw from the program if exposed. “98 percent of PRISM production is based on Yahoo, Google and Microsoft; we need to make sure we don’t harm these sources,” the briefing’s author wrote in his speaker’s notes.
Apple demonstrated that resistance is possible when it held out for more than five years, for reasons unknown, after Microsoft became PRISM’s first corporate partner in May 2007. Twitter, which has cultivated a reputation for aggressive defense of its users’ privacy, is still conspicuous by its absence from the list of “private sector partners.”
Google, like the other companies, denied that it permitted direct government access to its servers.
“Google cares deeply about the security of our users’ data,” a company spokesman said. “We disclose user data to government in accordance with the law, and we review all such requests carefully. From time to time, people allege that we have created a government ‘back door’ into our systems, but Google does not have a ‘back door’ for the government to access private user data.”
Microsoft also provided a statement: “We provide customer data only when we receive a legally binding order or subpoena to do so, and never on a voluntary basis. In addition we only ever comply with orders for requests about specific accounts or identifiers. If the government has a broader voluntary national security program to gather customer data we don’t participate in it.”
Yahoo also issued a denial.

2013-06-07 JAMES GORDON MEEK, LEE FERRAN. On the Hunt for the NSA Wiretapping Leaker

In the wake of a pair of eye-opening reports on the government's domestic phone and internet monitoring programs, officials are turning their attention to who the source of the leaks was and how top secret information from one of America's most shadowy government agencies slipped into the open.
"It's completely reckless and illegal... It's more than just unauthorized. He's no hero," one senior law enforcement source told ABC News of the unidentified leaker. The source speculated that a single person could be behind both recent leaks to the British newspaper The Guardian and to The Washington Post.
Early Thursday The Guardian published a top secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court document showing that the Obama administration, through the NSA, has been quietly vacuuming up tens of millions of phone records for Verizon customers in the U.S. Hours later, The Washington Post published what it said were presentation slides explaining the government's PRISM program, a 6-year-old program designed to pull in vast amounts of data -- from emails to chat records -- from the world's biggest web services. In its report, the Post said the source of some of their information was an intelligence officer.
"This guy's trying to be some kind of martyr," the law enforcement source said.

2013-06-07 Mass Collection of Communication Data Speeds Inquiries, Prompts Privacy Debate

CHARLIE SAVAGE, The New York Times: Well, people who pay attention to this world may remember that, in 2008, Congress passed a law called the FISA Amendments Act, which retroactively or going forward legalized a form of the warrantless surveillance that President Bush had been conducting outside of statutory authority.
And an element of that was that surveillance aims at foreigners overseas didn't need to have individualized warrants, even if that collection was taking place on U.S. soil. You could get a basket surveillance order that would be up -- good for up to a year aimed at, say, surveilling suspected al-Qaida targets in Pakistan.
And that would include e-mails to and from those people, even if they were communicating with people inside the United States. And so what PRISM seems to be is the manifestation of that program that's called “702 orders” in the world -- this -- this universe, going to Internet companies, at least nine of them, who are participating in the program by, when being presented with these orders and then requests under them, turning over information about e-mails and other electronic traffic that they have about the overseas targets and the people they're communicating with.
SIOBHAN GORMAN, The Wall Street Journal: Yes, we were told that it's the three major carriers, so it's Verizon, AT&T and Sprint Nextel. They all have the same standing orders from the FISA court, the secret surveillance court.
SIOBHAN GORMAN: Well, yes, lawmakers have said that there was at least one significant terrorist plot that was thwarted several years ago. We have still been waiting to get details, which apparently they're working to try to get declassified, but it sounds like that won't happen today.
I was told that one of the primary values that intelligence officials see in this program is that it allows you to sort of rule in and rule out different individuals and locations. So, if you get a lead on a particular individual, you can do this so-called link analysis to try to see who they're connected to, and you can see, well, if this -- do they have -- is this an overseas person who has some sort of significant connection in the United States? If so, then what other investigative actions can they take?
And what officials have taken pains to describe in recent days is that there are very specific standards that the investigators have to adhere to when they were going through this database. One official who I spoke with yesterday said that a fraction of one percent of the data has actually been viewed in the course of these searches.
HARLIE SAVAGE: Well, what appears to be clear is that a lot of people in Congress knew about this, were well-briefed about it, and that, notwithstanding some voices like Sen. Wyden in particular and Mark Udall, who have been warning about what this section of the Patriot Act that is underlying this phone record collection, they have been raising alarms about that sort of opaquely for years, their colleagues who knew about this thought it was OK, because they kept reauthorizing the law that this is based upon.
And so President Obama's defense today is, this is not illegal, all three branches of government are on board for it, the courts are overseeing it, Congress authorized it and oversees it, and so therefore there are no rule of law concerns.
Obviously, civil libertarians might beg to differ on constitutional grounds, but certainly it will be an uphill climb to make that case with three branches of government behind it.

2013-06-07 Nancy Cordes. The man behind the NSA data-mining stories

The National Security Agency's surveillance programs remained a secret for several years until this week, when a source leaked the information to columnist Glenn Greenwald at the British newspaper the Guardian. The director of national intelligence said the damage done by this leak is "irreversible." CBS News spoke with the writer about his article.
"I've been working on this story to varying degrees for probably about two months now," Greenwald said.
Greenwald has argued against too much government access to our personal records for years, first on his blog at and now at the Guardian.
Greenwald's source leaked him a top-secret court order compelling Verizon to hand over phone records on an "ongoing, daily basis."
Greenwald acknowledged the source is a reader of his. "Other than the fact that it's a person or persons who have intimate knowledge of the functioning of the National Security Agency and how the NSA operates, there's nothing else," he said. "It's an anonymous source who's confidential, and, of course, as a journalist, you understand that I wouldn't tell you anything about my source."
Intelligence analysts argue such leaks can have consequences.
When The New York Times revealed a secret program tracking terrorist financing back in 2006, officials believed terrorists changed the way they moved money.
Greenwald said the Obama administration tried to convince his editors at the Guardian not to expose some of the secrets because it might harm national security. He said his editors rejected that argument and decided to print the stories anyway.

2013-06-07 Tom Simonite, Rachel Metz. Privacy advocates have warned for years about the kinds of surveillance revelations that were aired this week

Of the two big U.S. government surveillance projects that came to light this week, the one that might seem less startling—the fact that the National Security Agency gathers Verizon’s U.S. call records—troubled privacy activists more than the report that the NSA can get user data such as e-mails and photographs held by Internet companies including Google and Facebook.
That’s because details of the phone surveillance, and the confirmation of its scope by the U.S. director of national intelligence, suggest that the NSA has broadened its interpretation of the 2001 Patriot Act in ways that allow for the mass collection of information about U.S. citizens.
The mandate of the NSA is to capture intelligence about foreigners. But the vast communications dragnet it operates inevitably scoops up information about Americans as well. In 2005, revelations emerged that the NSA was collecting phone records of U.S. citizens. Public concern about the program soon waned, but many activist groups and researchers have spent the years since working to learn more about NSA surveillance activities. Reports this week that the NSA is secretly tracking people’s phone records and online data to uncover possible terrorist activities rekindled outrage over the surveillance, with even the president using careful language to defend the activities, telling the public, “nobody is listening to your telephone calls.”
Specifically, a court order released by the Guardian, a British newspaper, shows that the NSA required Verizon’s business division to hand over all records of calls “on an ongoing basis” using a section of the Patriot Act, which was passed shortly after the September 11 attacks in an effort to crack down on terrorism. That section had been previously interpreted as allowing demands only for specific, existing data. Such requests are screened by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC).
The new revelation suggests that the government and the FISC have come up with a new interpretation of the Patriot Act that enables bulk collection of data on American citizens and residents, says Christopher Soghoian, principal technologist and senior policy analyst for the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project. “I think there’s a reasonable case to be made that the government has stretched the law to its breaking point,” he says.
Section 215 of the Patriot Act regulates government access to “tangible things” and says that could include “books, records, papers, documents, and other items,” while another section with stricter oversight, 214, applies to tapping of future communications. “In this new secret interpretation, they’re using a provision of the law that allows them to compel release of existing records as a sort of back door,” says Soghoian.

2013-06-06 Dan Robert, Spencer Ackerman. White House defends NSA phone records collection as 'critical tool'

The White House has sought to justify its surveillance of millions of Americans' phone records as anger grows over revelations that a secret court order gives the National Security Agency blanket authority to collect call data from a major phone carrier.
Politicians and civil liberties campaigners described the disclosures, revealed by the Guardian on Wednesday, as the most sweeping intrusion into private data they had ever seen by the US government.
But the Obama administration, while declining to comment on the specific order, said the practice was "a critical tool in protecting the nation from terrorist threats to the United States".
The secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (Fisa) granted the order to the FBI on April 25, giving the government unlimited authority to obtain the data for a specified three-month period ending on July 19.
Under the terms of the blanket order, the numbers of both parties on a call are handed over, as is location data, call duration, unique identifiers, and the time and duration of all calls. The contents of the conversation itself are not covered.
The disclosure has reignited longstanding debates in the US over the proper extent of the government's domestic spying powers.
Under the Bush administration, officials in security agencies had disclosed to reporters the large-scale collection of call records data by the NSA, but this is the first time significant and top-secret documents have revealed the continuation of the practice under President Obama.

2013-06-06 Dominic Rushe, James Ball. PRISM scandal: tech giants flatly deny allowing NSA direct access to servers

Two different versions of the PRISM scandal were emerging on Thursday with Silicon Valley executives denying all knowledge of the top secret program that gives the National Security Agency direct access to the internet giants' servers.
The eavesdropping program is detailed in the form of PowerPoint slides in a leaked NSA document, seen and authenticated by the Guardian, which states that it is based on "legally-compelled collection" but operates with the "assistance of communications providers in the US."
Each of the 41 slides in the document displays prominently the corporate logos of the tech companies claimed to be taking part in PRISM.
However, senior executives from the internet companies expressed surprise and shock and insisted that no direct access to servers had been offered to any government agency.
The top-secret NSA briefing presentation set out details of the PRISM program, which it said granted access to records such as emails, chat conversations, voice calls, documents and more. The presentation the listed dates when document collection began for each company, and said PRISM enabled "direct access from the servers of these US service providers: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, Paltalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple".
Senior officials with knowledge of the situation within the tech giants admitted to being confused by the NSA revelations, and said if such data collection was taking place, it was without companies' knowledge.
An Apple spokesman said: "We have never heard of PRISM. We do not provide any government agency with direct access to our servers and any agency requesting customer data must get a court order," he said.

2013-06-06 Richard A.Serrano, Kathleen Hennessey. Not just Verizon? Secret NSA effort to gather phone data is years old

The massive National Security Agency collection of telephone records disclosed Wednesday was part of a continuing program that has been in effect nonstop since 2006, according to the two top leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
“As far as I know, this is the exact three-month renewal of what has been in place for the past seven years," Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) told reporters Thursday. The surveillance “is lawful” and Congress has been fully briefed on the practice, she added.
...the surveillance, which was revealed Wednesday by Britain’s Guardian newspaper, appears to have been of far longer duration. Although the senators did not specify the scope of the surveillance, the fact that it has been in place since 2006 also suggests that it is not limited to any one phone carrier.

2013-06-05 Glenn Greenwald. Revealed: NSA collecting phone records of millions of Americans daily

The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America's largest telecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April.
The order, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian, requires Verizon on an "ongoing, daily basis" to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries.
The document shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of US citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk – regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing.
The secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (Fisa) granted the order to the FBI on April 25, giving the government unlimited authority to obtain the data for a specified three-month period ending on July 19.
Under the terms of the blanket order, the numbers of both parties on a call are handed over, as is location data, call duration, unique identifiers, and the time and duration of all calls. The contents of the conversation itself are not covered.
The disclosure is likely to reignite longstanding debates in the US over the proper extent of the government's domestic spying powers.
Under the Bush administration, officials in security agencies had disclosed to reporters the large-scale collection of call records data by the NSA, but this is the first time significant and top-secret documents have revealed the continuation of the practice on a massive scale under President Obama.
The unlimited nature of the records being handed over to the NSA is extremely unusual. Fisa court orders typically direct the production of records pertaining to a specific named target who is suspected of being an agent of a terrorist group or foreign state, or a finite set of individually named targets.

2013-04-09 James Ball. Do we need WikiLeaks any more?

How do you top releasing more than 250,000 confidential US diplomatic cables? In WikiLeaks's case, by releasing more than 1.7m, as it is with its latest release.
But this latest trove of documents is less than it seems on the surface: the cables date from 1973 to 1976, Henry Kissinger's tenure as secretary of state, and had already been released – including online – by the US National Archives and Records Administration.
That's not to say there's no value to WikiLeaks's efforts, though: the group has made the information more accessible by converting it into formats more suitable to searching (though how 1.7m documents were checked for scanning errors is anyone's guess), and spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson emphasises it's now impossible for the US to take these particular documents offline.
Manning's leaks were each, at the time they were published, the largest in history. The largest leak prior to them had come almost 40 years before, with the publication of the Pentagon Papers.
Was the issue in the intervening time that lots of other similarly courageous individuals came forward but had nowhere to go? It's possible – and reports from Manning's trial do suggest he tried to go to the mainstream media first. But more likely is that such whistleblowers are rare.
Whistleblowers also, often, need cultivation. This can arise through day-to-day contact, slow building of trust, even regular patch reporting. But for these sources, the approach of mainstream outlets may be more appropriate.
WikiLeaks set forth a series of challenges and questions for traditional media. Do journalists know enough about information security? Are journalists approachable enough to those who might want to disclose wrongdoing? Do they have the ability to co-ordinate complex international investigations? Can they publish enough of the source material to build trust and allow further investigation?
Too often, the answer's been no. But things are changing. The Offshore Secrets files are a key example of that: a huge, 200+GB leak of files, dating up to 2010, to Gerard Ryle of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. Rather than hoard the scoop, Ryle built a consortium of 40 mainstream journalistic outlets – including the Guardian, BBC and Washington Post – who worked for up to a year before publishing reams based on the sensitive information therein.
It's perhaps ironic that in the past week WikiLeaks has republished archive material while the mainstream media it so often attacks has published based on a huge, contemporary leak.
A modern media that is willing to collaborate across borders, throw dozens of bodies at months-long investigations and learn how to handle safely gigabytes of data, could in the long run – if it sustains – be WikiLeaks greatest, if accidental, achievement.

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