Softpanorama
May the source be with you, but remember the KISS principle ;-)

Contents Bulletin Scripting in shell and Perl Network troubleshooting History Humor

Total Surveillance Regime: Big Uncle is Watching You

Mass surveillance is equal to totalitarism as Joseph Goebbels professed:
"if you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear"

The slide above is courtesy of The Guardian
News National Security State Recommended Links Edward Snowden as Symbol of resistance to National Security State Privacy is Dead – Get Over It Vault 7 scandal NSA revelations fallout William Binney
NSA Surveillance Industrial Espionage Data Stealing Trojans Flame Duqu Trojan Magic Lantern CIPAV Cyberstalking
Interception of "in-transit" traffic as violation of human rights Search engines privacy Google Toolbar Is Google evil? Keywords in your posts that might trigger surveillance Blocking Facebook Facebook as Giant Database about Users Is national security state in the USA gone rogue ?
Damage to the US tech companies "Everything in the Cloud" Utopia Issues of security and trust in "cloud" env Email security How to analyze your own Web activity Interception of "in-transit" traffic as violation of human rights Steganography Building Snort-based IDS Infrastructure
Neoliberal Brainwashing: Journalism In the Service of the Powerful Few The Guardian Slips Beyond the Reach of Embarrassment Nineteen Eighty-Four   Cyberwarfare Prizm-related humor Etc
Version 1.4, Jan 8, 2015

Introduction

None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.

- Goethe

1984 is supposed to be a warning, not an instruction manual

The troubling aspect about these disclosures is not so much their significance today, but what surveillance on the nation bodes for the future. Given human nature I am not optimistic.

Bill N. Cambridge MA, NYT.

NSA staff and private contractors have unfettered access to this information. I have a hard time believing that not one of them has used that access to information for personal or political gain. This system makes insider trading, industrial espionage, blackmail, and extortion an almost inevitable outcome. -- The Guardian (from comments).

New round of debates about the dominance of military industrial complex and the level of control it exert over civil society was caused by recent revelations about NSA activities in the USA.

Technology changes can really change the society. And not always in a beneficial for the society way. There is such thing as "blowback" in technologies. We can view recent NSA activities revealed by Snowden as a classic example of such blowback connected with the spread of Internet and cloud based technologies. And it is a mistake to assume that such activities started with September 11 events and that Bush II was totally responsible for converting the USA into national-security state.  The technology was ready long before September 11 and what is available is always used by clandestine agencies.  They tend to adopt technology as soon as it is available, being in a pervert way "early adopters" of any communication technology. And this happens not only in the USA although the USA as technological leader was the most profoundly affected.

It might well be the Rubicon was crossed around JFK assassination time. On August 17, 1975 Senator Frank Church stated on NBC's Meet the Press without mentioning the name of the NSA (Church Committee - Wikipedia ):

In the need to develop a capacity to know what potential enemies are doing, the United States government has perfected a technological capability that enables us to monitor the messages that go through the air. Now, that is necessary and important to the United States as we look abroad at enemies or potential enemies. We must know, at the same time, that capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left such is the capability to monitor everything—telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn't matter. There would be no place to hide.

If this government ever became a tyrant, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know. Such is the capability of this technology.

I don't want to see this country ever go across the bridge. 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.[11]

The creation and use of databases of personal information and the systematic records (archives) of communications of citizens started simultaneously with NSA creation. The first targets were mail and telegraph. Some of this experience came from specialists of Third Reich. At the height of the Cold War in the 1950s, law enforcement and intelligence leaders like J. Edgar Hoover at the F.B.I. and Allen Dulles at the C.I.A. aggressively recruited onetime Nazis of all ranks as secret, anti-Soviet “assets,” declassified records show. They believed the ex-Nazis’ intelligence value against the Russians outweighed what one official called “moral lapses” in their service to the Third Reich. The agency hired one former SS officer as a spy in the 1950s, for instance, even after concluding he was probably guilty of “minor war crimes.” And in 1994, a lawyer with the C.I.A. pressured prosecutors to drop an investigation into an ex-spy outside Boston implicated in the Nazis’ massacre of tens of thousands of Jews in Lithuania, according to a government official (In Cold War, U.S. Spy Agencies Used 1,000 Nazis - NYTimes.com).

Recording of all email envelopes (which was also done for snail mail) started long before email was invented and became established practice since the WWII. It just a new name now -- collection of metadata. Recording metadata of phone calls and often the calls themselves first started before WWII and technology was polished on international calls, which for obvious reasons are of great interest to all governments.

We don't know then it was extended on domestic calls, this this was trivial extension of already existing capacity and probably abuse was stated gradually as soon as power of computers allow that. That means around 1958. Even in early 1960 three letter agencies were already semi-autonomous entities, a state within the state. And as assassination on President Kennedy had shown they were audacious enough to bypass Congress.

I think that the first attempt to create a comprehensive nation-wide intelligence network that monitors sentiments of the citizens and hunt enemies of the state goes as far back as Napoleon and his famous minister of police Joseph Fouché. Or may be it even goes as far back as to Byzantine Empire with its first in history organized network of spies. As for recording of mail envelopes, we can even claim that this function for international mail (in a form of "black chambers") is as old as states are. In the USA it started in full force in August 1919 when J. Edgar Hoover became head of the Bureau of Investigation's new General Intelligence Division—also known as the Radical Division because its explicit goal was to monitor and disrupt the work of domestic radicals.

Hoover and his chosen assistant, George Ruch monitored a variety of U.S. radicals with the intent to punish, arrest, or deport them. Targets during this period included Marcus Garvey; Rose Pastor Stokes and Cyril Briggs; Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman; and future Supreme Court justice Felix Frankfurter, whom Hoover nicknamed as "the most dangerous man in the United States".

After 9/11 and the passage of the USA Patriot Act, the USA government got all the pre-conditions necessary for installing a regime of aggressive total surveillance. Which actually was a hidden intent and 9/11 was just a convenient pretext much like Tonkin incident in Vietnam war. And in this respect Ed Snowden whatever is his motivation (which might be not as simple as most people assume) did the right thin thing, when he with risk to his life informed the US public and the world about those activities. You may approve those revelations you may disapprove them (and they did damage the USA as a state), but keeping them secret from the US public is a crime.

NSA technically is a data collection agency. While it has legitimate function to monitor information that is crossing the national border, we need to understand that the abuse of this function and extension of it into domestic communications started nor after 9/11, but in 1950th. But the capacities to do this type of work had grown dramatically over last four decades. In a way NSA became a victim of growing power of computers and as well inherent tendency of bureaucracies, especially government bureaucracies to expand and self-justify their expansion. The classic case was the USSR where KGB was a real state within the state and sometimes it was not completely clear whether the Party controls KGB or KGB controls the Party.

In other words expansionism is an immanent quality, the second nature of large bureaucracies, and unless there is countervailing force it can be deadly for the society at large, as we observe in case with three letter agencies, which tend to escape from civil control and form a state within a state. In a way any state with powerful three-letter agencies stand with one leg in a tyranny, even if it class itself a democracy. and that fact was already known to everybody in 1975. Actually just after president Kennedy assassination, which, no matter which version of events you adopt, in all cases indirectly pointed out that three letter agencies jumped out of control of civil government. As one Guardian reader commented "The pernicious thing is that it is in the nature of bureaucracies in general and spy agencies in particular to expand beyond reason unless there is effective oversight. In the case of intelligence agencies it has proven impossible to control them."

The nature of bureaucracies in general and spy agencies in particular to expand beyond reason unless there is effective oversight. In the case of intelligence agencies it has proven impossible to control them.

But that also means that most of those efforts are highly politicized, inefficient waist of resources as typical for large bureaucracies which are not so far technological but political bodies (see Bureaucracy as a Political Coalition).

We can admire the immortal foresight of Secretary of State Henry Stimson's  who closed the Cipher Bureau in 1929.  But this highly ethical, moral and courageous act deprived the U.S. of the capacity to read foreign diplomatic cables as world-wide threats grew.  So it was quickly reversed. In a way technology dictates the level of government surveillance in the society and in Internet society it looks like this level is permanently set on "high". That does not mean that we can't fight it. Yes, we can ;-)

Against whom total surveillance is directed

Total surveillance is not so much about terrorism. It's also and mainly about population control. Terrorism is a false pretext -- a smoke screen, if you like. Let's state clearly -- the main goal of total surveillance was the same since it was introduced in Nazi Germany. "Let them be afraid". It's the same as in former German Democratic Republic (with its famous Stasi). In all cases it is to prevent any challenge to the ruling elite or in US-speak "regime change", unless it is initiated by three letter agencies.  In other words total surveillance is part and parcel of the totalitarian state even if it more reserved as for violence form called inverted totalitarism.

State actors and well funded terrorist organization are a difficult nut to crack. That have access to technology and to "know how" including the most recent exploits. That means that NSA has great difficulties intercepting and decoding traffic that is intended to be hidden. Modern encryption systems such One-Time-Pad virtually guarantee that unless you have a mole, or get the "insider information" (typically from a mole) they are impenetrable. Decoding is possible only with standard algorithms and even in this case I have doubts (Triple DEC).

But the situation with  "open" traffic is completely different. There is a low hanging fruit and here NSA is king of the hill. Which as Biney mentioned included  the problem of "drinking from a fire hose" -- they collect too much information and are swamped with the volume.  Of cause correlation of open traffic of "suspicious persons" can reveal some hidden information, but this is a pretty expensive undertaking, because by definition those person are aware that they are watched, possibly are trained to avoid surveillance (including electronic) and behave accordingly. With modern computers decoys and steganography offer almost unlimited possibility to obsure the traffic. 

The real questions about NSA activities


Concern about the NSA assault on our privacy is no paranoid fantasy. In the words of an agency PowerPoint slide released by Snowden, the goal is to "collect it all", "process it all" and "know it all". The massive surveillance program is a clear violation of the Forth amendment prohibiting "unreasonable searches" of "persons, houses, papers, and effects" without "probable cause."

- Gene Epstein. "In defence of Snowden",
review of "No Place to Hide" Barrons, Jan 5, 2015, p 17

Now everybody understand that since probably 2003 or even earlier that that he/she is watched 24 by 7, or as Soviet dissidents called it "Placed under the dome". Some question that we need to ask ourselves are:

All-in-all it's a good time to smell the coffee and talk about the rise of a new mutation of totalitarism (or may be even fascism -- as it is, essentially, the merger of corporate and state interests) in the US after 9/11. That's exactly what this "Internet-inspired" flavor of total surveillance due to modern technical capabilities means. There is also distinct shadow of STASI in all those activities. And some countries got into similar trap before, so nothing is new under the sun. As Reinhold Niebuhr noted:

"Communism is a vivid object lesson in the monstrous consequences of moral complacency about the relation of dubious means to supposedly good ends."

There is actually little difference between total surveillance as practiced by NSA and what was practiced by three letters agencies of Eastern block dictatorships such as STASI and KGB. The key goal in both cases is protection and preservation of power of existing elite against the will of common people. So this is more about oppression of 99.9% from top 0.1% then surveillance per see.

According to UN Human Right Council Report (17 April 2013) innovations in technology not only have increased the possibilities for communication and protections of free expression and opinion, enabling anonymity, rapid information-sharing and cross-cultural dialogues. They also simultaneously increased opportunities for State surveillance and interventions into individuals’ private communications facilitating to transformation of the state into National Security State, a form of corporatism characterized by continued and encompassing all forms of electronic communication electronic surveillance of all citizens.

Militarization of cyberspace makes Internet a very dangerous medium

We should view Snowden revelations in a larger context. Much of what he revealed about militarization of cyberspace was already known at the time when Flame and Stuxnet worms were discovered in 2011. He just dot the i's and cross the t's , so speak. As a result of his revelations, as The National Interest noted:

An increasing number of adversaries and even allies are coming to believe that the United States is militarizing cyberspace — and that impression of hubris and irresponsibility is beginning to have a real-world impact.

...The Snowden leaks have brought Stuxnet, the U.S.-Israeli program allegedly used to attack Iranian computer systems, back into public debate — and reminded us that the real damage of the Snowden revelations will be international.

...the perception that the United States has become a danger to the global internet is a cause for concern. In their understandable anger at the considerable damage Snowden has done (in the near term at the very least) to the operations of NSA and their allies, U.S. security officials should not lose sight of this fact.

Snowden’s claims build on the Stuxnet revelations. In doing so, they reinforce an impression of overbearing U.S. cyberpower (military and commercial) being used irresponsibly. That is strikingly at odds with the U.S. self-image as a standard bearer of internet freedom and “borderless” exchange, but it is a view that resonates around the world.

In fact the USA policies are stimulating economic and political rivals around the globe to organize and present unified front against this new and dangerous form of total surveillance. As well as implement similar domestic systems. In other words a new arm race started.

As methods and infrastructure of those activities are now revealed, the genie is out of the bottle and can't be put back -- the US now should expect the same or worse treatment from other nations. Which can be no less inventive, or even more inventive the USA specialists in this area. And in this new arm race economically weaker nations actually has some leverage. Blowback, a CIA term for unintended consequences of foreign, military, or clandestine policies, can be similar to the blowback of politically organizing Islamic radicals to fight Soviets in Afghanistan in the past.

Nemesis, the goddess of retribution and vengeance, the punisher of pride and hubris, probably already waits patiently for her meeting with the NSA brass.

Blowback can irreparably damage the ability of the United States to obtain crucial information in foreign environments that are poorly understood in Washington. The cultural divide that exists when operating away from home means that CIA and NSA frequently work overseas through a network of liaison contacts. This in theory limits their activity, but it broadens their ability to collect information that can only be plausibly obtained by a local organization with local capabilities. Though nearly everyone also operates clandestinely outside the parameters of the established relationships insofar as it is possible or expedient to do so, there is an awareness that being caught can cause grave damage to the liaison relationship. Because being exposed is nearly always very painful, such operations are normally limited to collection of critical information that the liaison partner would be unwilling to reveal.

So while it might be comforting to claim that “everyone does it” at least some of the time, and it may even be true that local spy agencies sometimes collaborated with NSA, the United States has a great deal to lose by spying on its friends. This is particularly true as Washington, uniquely, spies on everyone, all the time, even when there is no good reason for doing so.

NSA Blowback The American Conservative

Centralization of user activities on sites like Facebook, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, LinkedIn, with email account mainly at Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo mail along with many positive aspects has tremendous negative side effects. The most significant is that it created a way too easy opportunity both for those organizations as well as government agencies and large corporations to data mine email and Web communications of millions of Americans critical about government (see Total control: keywords in your posts that might trigger surveillance) and all foreigners who use those services (and that includes a significant part of European population and Russia, who have Gmail, Facebook or Yahoo accounts). The history of "total surveillance" suggests that it tends to be abused. It is also huge, irreparable breach on trust in relation to allies. Closely resembles the situation in family when wife or husband learn that the other hired detective to snoop on you.

The analogy with KGB surveillance of dissidents (the Soviet term for total surveillance was "to be under the 'dome' ") and, especially, Stasi (viewing the film "The Lives of Others" might help to understand the phenomenon of "total surveillance") are way too close. At the same time there is an important difference: while such regime does mean indirect (and pretty effective) intimidation of dissidents, cases of prosecution on the base of the those data are either few or non existent, which is a big difference with KGB or Stasi practice. The latter aggressively pursued those who got in their net trying either to convert them into informers or charge them with the some suitable article of Criminal Code. In some cases that practice lead to suicides. So here we can talk more properly talk about total surveillance an instrument of Inverted Totalitarism, or totalitarism in velvet gloves.

We are talking about "passive total surveillance" and temporary (which might be several years or your lifetime) storage of all intercepted data. But in a way, Senator McCartney was probably right about "Communists sympathizers" and communist infiltration, he just was completely wrong about who they are ;-).

Every Breath You Take

Ich bin ein Berliner
J. F. Kennedy

The famous The Police hit Every Breath You Take should probably be the theme song for the NSA. As Dwight D. Eisenhower warned us in his famous speech:

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

Snowden revelations are not something new. The only real revelation was how much of it was going on domestically and gory details of such activities. Before 9/11 the NSA was basically prohibited from operating domestically. Of course it violates those prohibitions, but there were no systematic internal, all encompassing technical surveillance infrastructure in place. Now it is build and is deployed nation-wide. And that's a big change, big difference. Due to "novel" interpretation of a few provisions in the Patriot Act they created domestic dragnet which encompass most types of Internet communications. In addition to intercepting more then 70% of Internet traffic they also enjoy direct access to major cloud providers.

Total continued surveillance even without taking any action on collected data is totalitarian by its nature as it put severe restrictions of the freedom of expression. And like in the USSR, it does change people behavior on the Web. People start thinking about consequences and this page is one of attempts to collect information that might help you to see "bigger picture".

The key mechanism here, well known to those who used to live in the USSR before its dissolution is that people do react on the fact that everything they email, visit, buy on Amazon, etc is registered in giant database outside of their control. Internet will never be the same for most people after Snowden revelations...

The key mechanism here, well known to those who used to live in the USSR before its dissolution is that people do react on the fact that everything they email, visit, buy on Amazon, etc is registered in giant database outside of their control. Internet will never be the same for most people after Snowden revelations...

For example, no one in sound mind can now trust "cloud services" provided by Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, etc. So attractiveness of Gmail, Hotmail and such are now different, then it was before. And separation of mail accounts between "junk mail" account and important mail account is something to think about. With the latter never in the cloud. In a way excessive using cloud services from a fashionable trend now became kind of indication of a person stupidity.

In a way excessive using of cloud services from a fashionable trend now became an indication of a person stupidity. There is no real justification of providing all your emails and address book to strangers who can abuse this information without your knowledge.

At the same time it is stupid to dramatize the situation. Still, what is really striking is the grotesque disproportionally of all this NSA surveillance "superdome" to the task of keeping the country safe from foreign enemies (NSA statute is about watching foreign communications), begging obvious questions of institutional sanity and competence. They turned all their super powerful collection mechanisms inside the country and now they drink from a firehouse. That means that the results and possibilities of abuse are pretty much predictable. Too many false positives create real danger of not to picking up weak signal. So the other question is "Who the hell made these decisions?" That's a lot of taxpayers money and I am not sure that they are well spend.

As for breach of privacy anyone with connected to Internet PC,  the first thing to understand that if somebody stores data in the cloud they should not expect any privacy, unless they encrypt them. Expecting that your unencrypted data are private is a sign of personal stupidity, no more no less. If somebody, who is keeping his address book in Google assumes that it remains private, that his own illusion. That has nothing to do with the reality.

And it not that only NSA threatens our privacy. After all there are millions of PC users that have computer(s) infected by spyware, which turns them into zombies, externally controlled monitoring devices. And such software BTW can pick up and offload, or encrypt for ransom all your data. I do not see much protest over this situation iether. Microsoft greed and stupidity is one reason for this dismal situation, but essentially any OS is vulnerable if enough money is invested in finding exploits.  And NSA actually created a market for such exploits. Now there are multiple "security firms" that do nothing then find "zero day" exploits and sell them to the highest bidder (which is of course government agencies).  Does not this reminds you 'war on drugs"?

In a way, any networked computer is an unsecure computer and should be treated as such. See Privacy is Dead – Get Over It. The same thing can be mentioned about a cell phone that is outside some metal box. That's two basic "laws of security" in the current environment.

But more important problem here is not snooping per se, but its interaction with self-profiling that you provide via social sites. If you are too enthusiastic about Facebook or Google++ or any similar site and engage regularly and indiscriminately in this "vanity fair" activity that simply means Privacy is Dead – Get Over It. You killed it yourself. The essence of the situation was exposed well in a humorous form in the following Amazon review of Orwell's novel 1984

Bjørn Anders See all my reviews

This is not an instruction manual!, June 14, 2013

This review is from: 1984: 60th-Anniversary Edition (Plume) (Paperback)

Note to US Congress and house of representatives: This is a fictional book, not an instruction manual...

Now we know what would a perfect prototype of Bid Brother ;-). The song (Every Breath You Take ) should probably be the theme song for the NSA. And not only NSA, but its counterparts in other parts of the globe; I think, other things equal, citizens of some other countries would greatly prefer NSA to their domestic counterparts.

Cell phones, laptops, Facebook, Skype, chat-rooms: all allow the NSA and other similar agencies to build a dossier, a detailed profile of a target and anyone associated with him/her. And the number of people caught up in this dragnet can be huge. The NSA say it needs all this data to help prevent another terrorist attack like 9/11. They lie. In order to find the needle in the haystack, they argue, they need access to the whole haystack. But one interesting side effect is that now they are drinking from the fire hose, so to speak.

The power of meta data collection

Another interesting side-effect of the Snowden disclosures that the term ‘metadata’ became a common word in English language. With the growing understanding that metadata includes enough personal information to built a detailed profile of a person without even listening into content of communications. This technology was invented in Iraq war for fighting insurgents (were phone companies were controlled by US) and now is applied at home. In fact, by just using electronic communications, you are sharing a lot more personal information than you think. It's a reflection of a fact that it is very cheap to collect and analyses information about your electronic communications. The digital revolution which led to an explosion in cell phone and internet use, also led to an explosion of snooping after you by the governments.

We need to distinguish "total collection" of data from "total analysis" (or creation of dossiers on everybody as was practiced by STASI and friends). Raw data contain both "signal" and "noise". Analysis or data mining of those raw data is the process of extraction of useful signal from the noise. Of course we should be so naive that to assume that "signal" is related to purely terrorist activities. As recently published documents had shown, the NSA interests are much wider ;-). In bald terms, it sets out its mission:

“Leverage unique key corporate partnerships to gain access to high-capacity international fiber-optic cables, switches and/or routes throughout the world.”

Along with major fiber-optic cables in the US, the NSA has access to data gathered by close intelligence partners such as Britain’s GCHQ.

Sometimes it appear to me that like Uncle Sam got "red disease" and now is trying to imitate "total surveillance" mantra of KGB, STASI and similar agencies on a new technological level. And the key lesson from Soviet experience is fully applicable to the current situation in the USA: when government consider everybody as a potential enemy you better watch your back. And having a cyberstooge following your every step more closely that it was possible for STASI spooks and informers is something you need to react to. Reading your address book, mail, list of books that you bought or borrowed from the library, analyzing your circuit of friends is what STASI was really good at. And it might well be that some unemployed specialists have found a new territory to apply their substantial talents.

The Snowden documents show that the NSA runs these surveillance programs through “partnerships” with major US telecom and internet companies. That means that if you are customer of those major telecom and Internet companies you are like a bug under the microscope.

It is important to understand that metadata of your communications will always be exposed (it other words you are always walking "naked" on the Internet) because those new surveillance capabilities are immanent properties of Internet protocols, as we known it. There is no way to encrypt connection metadata: this is technically impossible unless you owns a vast private VPN network (some large corporations do), but even in this case I have doubts. Even snail-mail metadata are collected (and from 50th to 80th letters were opened and selectively copied by CIA). Diplomatic mail might still be secure, but that's about it.

Technological blowback

Like with any new development there are countervailing trends that after Snowden revelation went in overdrive and can seriously affect NSA capabilities.

One is switching to encrypting communication with most websites such as YouTube. That prevent simple harvesting of video that you watched from HTTP logs (but does not prevent harvesting -- it can be done using other methods)

The second is usage of software like Tor, although I think all connection to Tor sites are closely monitored by NSA.

The third is usage of your own cashing DNS proxy to limit number of DNS requests you make.  

I also think that all those development might give steganography a huge boost.

The other areas of technology that might get huge boost due to Snowden revelations is "Browsing imitating internet robots" technology which permit to drown NSA collection devices in spam -- fake accesses to web sites that is very difficult to distinguish from real browsing, but that make all statistical metrics applied to your Web traffic useless.  For example top visited pages became completely bogus. 

Currently this requires some level of technical sophistication and available mostly to programmers and system administrators interested in "beating NSA back". Programs that have those capabilities are often marketed as proxy logs replayers,  or Apache logs replayers or debugging tools. See for example  Load Testing with JMeter Part 3 - Replaying Apache Logs and Charles Web Debugging Proxy  ( and http - Replaying a Charles proxy session and recording the results - Stack Overflow ). Actually good old Expect can do wonders here if logs are converted into expect scripts. Especially in combination with Javascript (Scalable, Flexible Performance Testing Replaying web server log)

Another danger to society: Lord Acton warning as applied to NSA

"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely".

Lord Acton(1834–1902)

As Lord Acton(1834–1902) noted long before NSA started collecting all Internet communications "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely". The history of "total surveillance" suggests that this is unavoidable side effect on the very institution that conducts: such an institution tends to escape the control of civil society and became a shadow power, the element of "deep state". 

The first grave consequence of total surveillance is that it tends to be abused. The history of "total surveillance" suggests that this is unavoidable side effect on the very institution that conducts: such an institution tends to escape the control of civil society and became a shadow power, the element of "deep state".  

And the ability to intercept electronic communications gives those who are in charge of such collection  tremendous political power. Please remember that J. Edgar Hoover was director of FBI very long time partially because he dug a lot of dirt on politicians of his time including both Kennedys. According to President Harry S Truman, Hoover transformed the FBI into his private secret police force. He used the FBI to harass political dissenters and activists, to amass secret files on political leaders, and to collect evidence using illegal methods. Essentially for half of the century he and his organization were out of control "state within the state" and nobody could do anything about it. Only after his death some measures were taken.

It's not that expanding bureaucracy per se is a problem. I doubt that those in the bureaucracy of those agencies do not think about larger consequences for societies of their attempts to expand their sphere of influence. It is much worse: they definitely knew about possible consequences, but go "full forward' anyway preferring job promotions and expansion of their influence. Like bureaucrats often do, they betrayed their nations like nomenklatura betrayed the people of the USSR (with a similar fig leaf of nice slogans about freedom as a smoke screen for pretty nefarious activities).

Elimination of possibility of opposition to the current regime

In case of NSA, this data on you, or particular political or social movement (for example "Occupy Wall Street") can be mined at any time, and what is even worse can be used to destroy any new political movement. And please remember that NSA is a just part of military-industrial complex, an entity that has some interesting political characteristics related to the term "the acquisition of unwarranted influence" . As Dwight D. Eisenhower warned us in his famous farewell speech (which introduced the term "military-industrial complex"):

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

People seldom understand that all three letter agencies are not just part of military industrial complex, but are the key parts. While ability of weapon manufactures to buy or just simply control Congress members matters, three-letter agencies is where "unwarranted influence" fully materialize. By definition they are out of control and as any bureaucracy they want to grow. That was clear to Senator Frank Church who stated on August 17, 1975 NBC's Meet the Press:

In the need to develop a capacity to know what potential enemies are doing, the United States government has perfected a technological capability that enables us to monitor the messages that go through the air. Now, that is necessary and important to the United States as we look abroad at enemies or potential enemies. We must know, at the same time, that capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left such is the capability to monitor everything—telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide.

If this government ever became a tyrant, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know. Such is the capability of this technology.

I don’t want to see this country ever go across the bridge. 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.[11]

We can applaud his personal courage, but at this point it does not matter. The horse has left the barn. As sgtdoom commented The Guardian article NSA analysts 'willfully violated' surveillance systems, agency admits (August 24, 2013):

...let us be realistic and not fall for the usual story of this being a discrete event (all the latest surveillance, that is).

This dates back to the founding of the Financial-Intelligence-Complex during and in the aftermath of World War II, by the Wall Streeters for their super-rich bosses, the Rockefellers, Morgans, du Ponts, Mellons, Harrimans (now Mortimers), etc.

The most important factor that needs to be taken into account is the total surveillance make organized opposition to the regime impossible. So welcome to nicer, gentler, but no less totalitarian world of 1984 (aka "Back in USSR"). The key equation is very simple:

total surveillance = total control

That simple fact was well understood by various dictators and totalitarian regimes long ago, but none of them has had even a tiny fraction of technical capabilities NSA has now. I think one of the reason that Occupy movement completely dissipated so fast was that they were like a bug under microscope of the government. And government want them to stop harassing Wall Street sharks for their 2008 crisis misdeeds.

Instilling fear

Another important effect of "total surveillance" is instilling fear in the citizenry; fear that our thoughts, words and relationships are subject of interception and analysis; fear that all the content we access on the internet will be exposed. This fear can cause us to withdraw from public spaces like producing this website, censor our communications, refrain from accessing certain sites, buying certain books, etc.

An important effect of "total surveillance" is instilling fear in the citizenry; fear that our thoughts, words and relationships are subject of interception and analysis; fear that all the content we access on the internet will be exposed. This fear can cause us to withdraw from public spaces like producing this website, censor our communications, refrain from accessing certain sites, buying certain books, etc.

In other words understanding that you are watched on 24 x 7 basis modifies behavior and makes self-censorship your second nature exactly the same way as in any totalitarian state, but without any physical coercion. Here is one telling comment from Secret to Prism program Even bigger data seizure

wtpayne

Indeed: The intentions and motivations of the agencies in question; the degree of oversight and so on; is almost irrelevant. To a certain extent, I am content to believe that the intentions of the perpetrators is good; and that the oversight and abuse prevention systems that they have in place are strong.

However, none of that matters if people self-censor; if people worry, not about what the government of today will find objectionable, but what the government of tomorrow will not like. In effect, we end up censoring ourselves from a hypothetical worst-case future government.

Loss of privacy as a side effect of cloud-based Internet technologies


“Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”

Maybe Dante had some serious vision.

The Guardian

We will concentrate on technical side of the this operation, trying to understand how much information can be stored about a regular "Joe Doer" based on technical capabilities that are available. Let's assume that we deal with mostly "passive surveillance": collection and storage of vast amount of Internet traffic on special computers using either mirrored ports on the key routers or special access to key providers of cloud services.

We can probably assume that several layers of storage of those data exist:

Technology development creates new types of communications as well as new types of government surveillance mechanisms (you can call them "externalities" of new methods of communication). Those externalities, especially low cost of mass surveillance (Wikipedia), unfortunately, bring us closer to the Electronic police state (Wikipedia) or National Security State whether we want it or not. A crucial element of such a state is that its data gathering, sorting and correlation are continuous, cover a large number of citizens and all foreigners, and those activities are seldom exposed.

Cloud computing as a technology that presuppose storing the data "offsite" have several security problems, and one of them is that it is way too much "surveillance friendly" (Misunderstanding of issues of security and trust). With cloud computing powers that be do not need to do complex job of recreating TCP/IP conversations on router level to capture, say, all the emails. You can access Web-based email mailbox directly with all mails in appropriate mailboxes and spam filtered. This is a huge saving of computational efforts ;-).

It means two things:

It puts you essentially in a situation of a bug under microscope on Big Brother. And please understand that modern storage capabilities are such that it is easy to store several years of at least some of your communications, especially emails.

The same is true about your phone calls metadata, credit card transactions and your activities on major shopping sites such as Amazon, and eBay. But here you can do almost nothing. Still I think our support of "brick" merchants is long overdue. Phones are traditional target of government three letter agencies (WSJ) since the WWII. Smartphones with GPS in addition to land line metadata also provide your current geo location. I do not think you can do much here.

I think our support of "brick" merchants is long overdue. And paying cash in the store in not something that you should try to avoid because credit card returns you 1% of the cost of the purchase. This 1% is actually a privacy tax ;-)

Total continued surveillance even without taking any action on collected data is totalitarian by its nature as it put severe restrictions of the freedom of expression and it changes people behavior on the Web. In this sense, Senator McCartney was probably right about "Communists sympathizers" and "KGB infiltration", he just was completely wrong about who they are ;-).

The centralization of searches on Google (and to lesser extent on Bing) are also serious threats to your privacy. Here diversification between three or more search engines might help a bit. Other then that and generally limited your time behind the computer I do not think much can be done. Growth of popularity of Duckduckgo suggests that people are vary of Google monopolizing the search, but it is unclear how big are the advantages. You can also save searches as many searches are recurrent and generally you can benefit from using your personal Web proxy with private cashing DNS server. This way to can "shrink" your radar picture, but that's about it. Search engines are now an integral part of our civilization whether we want it or not.

Collection of your searches for the last several years can pretty precisely outline sphere of your interests. And again technical constrains on storage of data no longer exists: how we can talk about privacy at the age of 3 TB harddrives for $99. There are approximately 314 million of the US citizens and residents, so storing one gigabyte of information for each citizen requires just 400 petabytes. For comparison

Films to Understand the Phenomenon

The analogy with KGB surveillance of dissidents (the term was "to be under the "kolpak" (dome) ") and, especially, Stasi (viewing the film "The Lives of Others" might help to understand the phenomenon of "total surveillance") are way too close. And psychological effects of anticipating that you are under total surveillance are well depicted in the final of the film The Conversation (1974) directed by famous Francis Ford Coppola

At the same time there is an important difference: while both regimes creates implicit intimidation and squash dissent, cases of prosecution on the base of the those data are either few or non existent. Which is a big difference with KGB or Stasi practice, which aggressively pursued those dissidents who got in their net, trying either to convert them into informers, or prosecute them using the existing articles of Criminal Code. In some cases that led to suicides. So here we can talk more about Inverted Totalitarism, a velvet gloves mode of suppressing of dissent.

Your email in toxic cloud

Still it is now dramatically more clear then before that centralization of email accounts and user activities on sites like Facebook, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, LinkedIn, with email accounts mainly at Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo mail is far from being a positive development. Along with many positive aspects has tremendous negative side effects. Essentially it turns users into spies on themselves in a way that would be a dream by Stasi. The most significant is that it created an easy opportunities to data mine email databases both for those organizations as well as various government agencies and, possibly (in a limited way for special payment) by large corporations.

Those tendencies probably should be at least resisted, but we do not have means to reverse them.

Attempts to data mine email and Web communications of millions of Americans critical about government (see Total control: keywords in your posts that might trigger surveillance) and all foreigners who use those services (and that includes a significant part of European population and xUSSR area, who often use Gmail, Facebook or Yahoo accounts) means that the country became a National Security State. With all relevant consequences of such a transformation.

And interest in content of your "cloud based" email is not limited to the government:

A sweeping Wall Street Journal investigation in 2010 found that the biggest U.S. websites have technologies tracking people who visit their pages, sometimes upwards of 100 tools per site. One intrusive string of code even recorded users’ keystrokes and transmitted them to a data-gathering firm for analysis.

“A digital dossier over time is built up about you by that site or third-party service or data brokers,” says Adam Thierer, senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center’s Technology Policy Program at George Mason University. “They collect these data profiles and utilize them to sell you or market you better services or goods.”

This is what powers the free Internet we know and love; users pay nothing or next to nothing for services — and give up pieces of personal information for advertisers in exchange. If you search for a Mini Cooper on one website, you’re likely to see ads elsewhere for lightweight, fuel-efficient cars. Companies robotically categorize users with descriptions such as “urban upscale” to “rural NASCAR” to tailor the advertising experience, says Jim Harper of the libertarian Cato Institute. “They’ll use ZIP codes and census data to figure out what their lifestyle profile is.”

Tracking your Web access

Most of the site you visit those days was found via search engine, often Google. But Google is interested in more then search terms you use and sometimes plays with you a nasty trick: "Google may choose to exhibit its search results in the form of a 'URL redirector,'" reads Google's main privacy policy. That means that any time it wishes Google can spy on your Web activity:

"When Google uses a URL redirector, if you click on a URL from a search result, information about the click is sent to Google."

Few people check the URL before clicking on Google search results, so in a way this is perfect spying tool.

But there is another powerful spying tool in Google arsenal -- Google toolbar, and I am not sure that all those trick were not reused in Google browser. Google Toolbar sends all user clicks to Google, if advanced mode is enabled (and many people do enable it because they want to have spelling correction available which, conveniently for Google, belongs to the set of advanced features). This way you voluntarily subscribe to a 24x7 monitoring of your web activity using spyware that is installed on your computer with your consent. For the same reason recent smartphones fashion looks greatly misguided. It is better to use regular phone, then smartphone, and the last thing you probably want on your smartphone is Android OS or iOS, or windows 8 OS. In some deep way unlocked Nokia 1280 looks now much more attractive (and is way cheaper ;-).

Google Toolbar in advanced mode is another common snooping tool about your activities. It send each URL you visit to Google and you can be sure that from Google several three letter agencies get this information as well. After all Google has links to them from the very beginning:

Effects on behavior

As soon as they realize that they are watched, people start thinking about consequences and this article is a pretty telling (albeit slightly paranoid ;-) illustration of the effect. The key mechanism here, well known to those who used to live in the USSR before its dissolution is that people preemptively change their behavior, if they know or suspect that they got "under the dome" of government surveillance, that all their emails are intercepted, all web site visits recorded, anything they buy on Amazon, etc is registered in giant database outside of their control.

The angle under which will we try to cover the story is: the situation is such and such, now what? What are the most appropriate actions and strategy of behavior of people who are concerned about their privacy and no longer trust "cloud services" provided by Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, etc ( and those who trust those providers should probably stop reading at this point). It is impossible to close all those accounts. But some can and should be closed; for example POP3 mail can replace web mail for all "important" mail; this way you avoid "cloud storage" of all your important correspondence. It is impossible not to use search engines, but you can chose which search language to use. It is impractical not to use smartphone and for Android phone you can't avoid registration -- that's the only way to get updates from Google, but you can root the phone, remove some snooping components and use Firefox instead of Chrome. But not it is clear that if mobile web browsing and checking email on your phone is not your thing you are better off with a very simple phone such as Nokia 1280.

The first and the most obvious "change we can believe in" is that we need to change our attitude toward cloud services and especially cloud services from large providers. Now the most reasonable assumption is that most national cloud providers including major retailers are in bed with the government three letter agencies. So you need to be careful what you browse for on Amazon, similarly to what you write from Gmail and Hotmail.

In a way, excessive usage of cloud services from a fashionable trend now became kind of indication of a person stupidity. It is important to understand that for anybody more or less competent with computers (or willing to learn), anything Facebook or Gmail or Hotmail can offer, regular small ISP account with Cpanel can offer with less risk for your privacy for, say, $5 a month or less. And your privacy definitely cost more then $60 a year.

In a way excessive using of cloud services from a fashionable trend now became an indication of a person stupidity. For anybody more or less competent with computers (or willing to learn), anything Facebook or Gmail can offer, regular ISP account with Cpanel can offer too with less risk for your privacy.

At the same time it is also stupid to over-dramatize the situation and isolate yourself by abandoning Internet communications and restricting usage of cell-phone. The reasonable hypothesis is that today’s surveillance is a side effect of new technological developments and it is a new fact of life. It is just a new level of information gathering, which has been going on since the Byzantine Empire. And it is still limited by technological capabilities of sifting through mass of communications. But at the same time, quantity does at one point turns into quality, so the danger is real and as such could providers are suspect by definition. In no way they are new level of technological development. In sense they are one step forward, two sets back.

Also being engages in foreign wars has an interesting side effect that technologies invented come home and used against citizens (naked capitalism). That's actually the origin of indiscriminant collection of metadata used now.

But at the same time we need to understand that there are millions of PC users that have computer(s) infected by spyware, which can make your computer a zombie. And world did not perished due to that.

Still the key lesson is unmistakable: from now on, any networked computer is an unsecure computer that can't be trusted really confidential information, unless it is isolated by firewall and proxy. And if we assume that it is unsecured computer, them it should be treated it as such. The first step is that all confidential data should be deleted and moved to removable storage. In case you need to work with it as much as possible should be done on non-networked computers, limiting the exposure of your data to bare minimum. And the less powerful computer you use for processing you confidential data, the best; the less powerful OS you use, the best (what about using Windows 98 or DOS for those who can still remember it ? ;-). From now on "retro-computing" movement now is inherently linked with the issues of security and privacy and might get a new life.

This retro-computing idea might create a new life for abandoned computers that are in excess in almost every family ;-) See Privacy is Dead – Get Over It. The same thing can be mentioned about a cell phone, which should be as simple as possible. Not all people really benefit from browsing the Web from their smartphones. If you are really paranoid you can think storing you cell phone at home in a metal box ;-).

In other words there are two new "laws of computer security":

But more important problem here is not snooping per se, but voluntarily self-profiling that you provide via social sites. If you are way too enthusiastic about Facebook or Google++ or any similar site and engage regularly and indiscriminately in this "vanity fair" activity you put yourselves voluntarily under surveillance. So not only Privacy is Dead – Get Over It. You killed it yourself. The essence of the situation was exposed well in a humorous form in the following Amazon review of Orwell's novel 1984

Bjørn Anders See all my reviews

This is not an instruction manual!, June 14, 2013

This review is from: 1984: 60th-Anniversary Edition (Plume) (Paperback)

Note to US Congress and house of representatives: This is a fictional book, not an instruction manual...

BTW just after Prism program was revealed in June 2013, Nineteen Eighty-Four became a bestseller on Amazon. As of June 15, 2013 it was #87 in Fiction. If you never have a chance to read it, please do it now. and again, if you think that this revelation of Prism program is a big news, you probably are mistaken. Many people understood that as soon new technical capabilities of surveillance are available they are instantly put to use. As John H. Summers noted in his review (The Deciders - New York Times) of John Mill "Power elite":

...official secrecy steadily expanded its reach.

"For the first time in American history, men in authority are talking about an 'emergency' without a foreseeable end,"

Mills wrote in a sentence that remains as powerful and unsettling as it was 50 years ago.

"Such men as these are crackpot realists: in the name of realism they have constructed a paranoid reality all their own."

Adding insult to injury: Self-profiling

Facebook has nothing without people
silly enough to exchange privacy for photosharing

The key problem with social sites is that many people voluntarily post excessive amount of personal data about themselves, including keeping their photo archives online, etc. So while East Germany analog of the Department of Homeland Security called Ministry for State Security (Stasi) needed to recruit people to spy about you, now you yourself serves as a informer voluntarily providing all the tracking information about your activities ;-).

Scientella, palo alto

...Facebook always had a very low opinion of peoples intelligence - and rightly so!

I can tell you Silicon Valley is scared. Facebook's very existence depends upon trusting young persons, their celebrity wannabee parents and other inconsequential people being prepared to give up their private information to Facebook.

Google, now that SOCIAL IS DEAD, at least has their day job also, of paid referral advertising where someone can without divulging their "social" identity, and not linking their accounts, can look for a product on line and see next to it some useful ads.

But Facebook has nothing without people silly enough to exchange privacy for photosharing.

... ... ...

Steve Fankuchen, Oakland CA

Cook, Brin, Gates, Zuckerberg, et al most certainly have lawyers and public relations hacks that have taught them the role of "plausible deniability."

Just as in the government, eventually some low or mid-level flunkie will likely be hung out to dry, when it becomes evident that the institution knew exactly what was going on and did nothing to oppose it. To believe any of these companies care about their users as anything other than cash cows is to believe in the tooth fairy.

The amount of personal data which users of site like Facebook put voluntarily on the Web is truly astonishing. Now anybody using just Google search can get quit substantial information about anybody who actively using social sites and post messages in discussion he/she particulates under his/her own name instead of a nickname. Just try to see what is available about you and most probably your jaw would drop...

This is probably right time for the users of social sites like Facebook, Google search, and Amazon (that means most of us ;-) to think a little bit more about the risks we are exposing ourselves. We all should became more aware about the risks involved as well as real implications of the catch phase Privacy is Dead – Get Over It.

This is probably right time for the users of social sites like Facebook, Google search, and Amazon (that means most of us ;-) to think a little bit more about the risks we are exposing ourselves.

As Peter Ludlow noted in NYT (The Real War on Reality):

If there is one thing we can take away from the news of recent weeks it is this: the modern American surveillance state is not really the stuff of paranoid fantasies; it has arrived.

Citizens of foreign countries have accounts at Facebook and mail accounts in Gmail, hotmail and Yahoo mail are even in less enviable position then the US citizens. They are legitimate prey. No legal protection for them exists, if they use those services. That means that they voluntarily open all the information they posted about themselves to the US government in addition to their own government. And the net is probably more wide then information leaked by NSA contractor Edward Snowden suggests. For any large company, especially a telecom corporation, operating is the USA it might be dangerous to refuse to cooperate (Qwest case).

Former Qwest CEO Joseph Nacchio, convicted of insider trading in April 2007, alleged in appeal documents that the NSA requested that Qwest participate in its wiretapping program more than six months before September 11, 2001. Nacchio recalls the meeting as occurring on February 27, 2001. Nacchio further claims that the NSA cancelled a lucrative contract with Qwest as a result of Qwest's refusal to participate in the wiretapping program.[13] Nacchio surrendered April 14, 2009 to a federal prison camp in Schuylkill, Pennsylvania to begin serving a six-year sentence for the insider trading conviction. The United States Supreme Court denied bail pending appeal the same day.[15]

It is not the case of some special evilness of the US government. It simply is more agile to understand and capitalize on those new technical opportunities. It is also conveniently located at the center of Internet universe with most traffic is flowing via US owned or controlled routers (67% or more). But it goes without saying that several other national governments and a bunch of large corporations also try to mine this new gold throve of private information on citizens. Probably with less sophistication and having less financial resources.

In many cases corporations themselves are interested in partnership with the government. Here is one telling comment:

jrs says on June 8, 2013

Yea in my experience that’s how “public/private partnerships” really work:

  1. Companies DO need protection FROM the government. An ill-conceived piece of legislation can put a perfectly decent out of business. Building ties with the government is protection.
  2. Government represents a huge market and eventually becomes one of the top customers for I think most businesses (of course the very fact that a government agency is a main customer is often kept hush hush even within the company and something you are not supposed to speak of as an employee even though you are aware of it)
  3. Of course not every company proceeds to step 3 -- being basically an arm of the government but ..

That means that not only Chinese citizens already operate on the Internet without any real sense of privacy. Even if you live outside the USA the chances are high that you automatically profiled by the USA instead of or in addition to your own government. Kind of neoliberalism in overdrive mode: looks like we all are already citizens of a global empire (Let's call it " Empire of Peace" ) with the capital in Washington.

It is reasonable to assume that a massive eavesdropping apparatus now tracks at least an "envelope" of every electronic communication you made during your lifetime. No need for somebody reporting about you like in "old" totalitarian state like East Germany with its analog of the Department of Homeland Security called the Ministry for State Security (Stasi). So in this new environment, you are like Russians used to say about dissidents who got under KGB surveillance is always "under the dome". In this sense this is just an old vine in a new bottles. But the global scope and lifetime storage of huge amount of personal information for each and every citizen is something new and was made possible the first time in world history by new technologies.

It goes without saying that records about time, sender and receiver of all your phone calls, emails, Amazon purchases, credit card transactions, and Web activities for the last decade are stored somewhere in a database and not necessary only government computers. And that means that your social circle (the set of people you associate with), books and films that you bought, your favorite websites, etc can be easily deducted from those records.

That brings us to an important question about whether we as consumers should support such ventures as Facebook and Google++ which profile you and after several years have a huge amount of pretty private and pretty damaging information about you, information which can get into wrong hands.

Recent discoveries about Prism program: quantity turned into quality.

The most constructive approach to NSA is to view is a large government bureaucracy that expanded to the extent that quantity turned into quality.

Any large bureaucracy is a political coalition with the primary goal of preserving and enhancing of its own power, no matter what are official declarations. And if breaching your privacy helps they will do it. Which is what Bush government did after 9/11. The question is how much bureaucratic bloat resulting in classic dynamics of organizational self-aggrandizement and expansionism happened in NSA. We don't know how much we got in exchange for undermining internet security and US constitution. But we do know the intelligence establishment happily appropriated billions of dollars, had grown by thousand of employees and got substantial "face lift" and additional power within the executive branch of government. To the extent that something it looks like a shadow government. And now they will fight tooth-and nail to protect the fruits of a decade long bureaucratic expansion. Now it is an Intelligence Church and like any religious organization they do not need fact to support their doctrine and influence.

Typically there is an infighting and many factions within any large hierarchical organization, some with and some without factual awareness of the rest. Basically any hierarchical institution corporate, religious, military will abuse available resources for internal political infighting. And with NSA "big data" push this is either happening or just waiting to happen. This is a danger of any warrantless wiretapping program: it naturally convert itself into a saga of eroding checks and disappearing balance. And this already happened in the past, so in a way it is just act two of the same drama (WhoWhatWhy):

After media revelations of intelligence abuses by the Nixon administration began to mount in the wake of Watergate, NSA became the subject of Congressional ire in the form of the United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities—commonly known as the “Church Committee” after its chair, Senator Frank Church (D-ID)—established on January 17, 1975. This ad-hoc investigative body found itself unearthing troves of classified records from the FBI, NSA, CIA and Pentagon that detailed the murky pursuits of each during the first decades of the Cold War. Under the mantle of defeating communism, internal documents confirmed the executive branch’s use of said agencies in some of the most fiendish acts of human imagination (including refined psychological torture techniques), particularly by the Central Intelligence Agency.

The Cold War mindset had incurably infected the nation’s security apparatus, establishing extralegal subversion efforts at home and brutish control abroad. It was revealed that the FBI undertook a war to destroy homegrown movements such as the Black Liberation Movement (including Martin Luther King, Jr.), and that NSA had indiscriminately intercepted the communications of Americans without warrant, even without the President’s knowledge. When confronted with such nefarious enterprises, Congress sought to rein in the excesses of the intelligence community, notably those directed at the American public.

The committee chair, Senator Frank Church, then issued this warning about NSA’s power:

That capability at any time could be turned around on the American people and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything. Telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide. If this government ever became a tyranny, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back, because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know. Such is the capability of this technology. I don’t want to see this country ever go across the bridge. I know the capability 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 reforms that followed, as enshrined in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978, included the establishment of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC): a specially-designated panel of judges who are allowed to review evidence before giving NSA a warrant to spy on Americans (only in the case of overseas communication). Hardly a contentious check or balance, FISC rejected zero warrant requests between its inception in 1979 and 2000, only asking that two warrants be “modified” out of an estimated 13,000.

In spite of FISC’s rubberstamping, following 9/11 the Bush administration began deliberately bypassing the court, because even its minimal evidentiary standard was too high a burden of proof for the blanket surveillance they wanted. So began the dragnet monitoring of the American public by tapping the country’s major electronic communication chokepoints in collusion with the nation’s largest telecommunications companies.

When confronted with the criminal conspiracy undertaken by the Bush administration and telecoms, Congress confirmed why it retains the lowest approval rating of any major American institution by “reforming” the statute to accommodate the massive law breaking. The 2008 FISA Amendments Act [FAA] entrenched the policy of mass eavesdropping and granted the telecoms retroactive immunity for their criminality, withdrawing even the negligible individual protections in effect since 1979. Despite initial opposition, then-presidential candidate Barack Obama voted for the act as one of his last deeds in the Senate. A few brave (and unsuccessful) lawsuits later, this policy remains the status quo.

Similarly we should naturally expect that the notion of "terrorist" is flexible and in certain cases can be equal to "any opponent of regime". While I sympathize NYT readers reaction to this incident (see below), I think it is somewhat naive. They forget that they are living under neoliberal regime which like any rule of top 0.01% is afraid of and does not trust its own citizens. So massive surveillance program is a self-preservation measure which allow to crush or subvert the opposition at early stages. This is the same situation as existed with Soviet nomenklatura, with the only difference that Soviet nomenklatura was more modest pushing the USSR as a beacon of progress and bright hope of all mankind ;-). As Ron Paul noted:

Many of us are not so surprised.

Some of us were arguing back in 2001 with the introduction of the so-called PATRIOT Act that it would pave the way for massive US government surveillance—not targeting terrorists but rather aimed against American citizens. We were told we must accept this temporary measure to provide government the tools to catch those responsible for 9/11. That was nearly twelve years and at least four wars ago.

We should know by now that when it comes to government power-grabs, we never go back to the status quo even when the “crisis” has passed. That part of our freedom and civil liberties once lost is never regained. How many times did the PATRIOT Act need renewed? How many times did FISA authority need expanded? Why did we have to pass a law to grant immunity to companies who hand over our personal information to the government?

And while revealed sources of NSA Prism program include Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo and others major Internet players, that's probably just a tip of the iceberg. Ask yourself a question, why Amazon and VISA and MasterCard are not on the list? According to The Guardian:

The National Security Agency has obtained direct access to the systems of Google, Facebook, Apple and other US internet giants, according to a top secret document obtained by the Guardian.

The NSA access is part of a previously undisclosed program called Prism, which allows officials to collect material including search history, the content of emails, file transfers and live chats, the document says.

... ... ...

Microsoft – which is currently running an advertising campaign with the slogan "Your privacy is our priority" – was the first, with collection beginning in December 2007. It was followed by Yahoo in 2008; Google, Facebook and PalTalk in 2009; YouTube in 2010; Skype and AOL in 2011; and finally Apple, which joined the program in 2012. The program is continuing to expand, with other providers due to come online.

Collectively, the companies cover the vast majority of online email, search, video and communications networks

... ... ...

A chart prepared by the NSA, contained within the top-secret document obtained by the Guardian, underscores the breadth of the data it is able to obtain: email, video and voice chat, videos, photos, voice-over-IP (Skype, for example) chats, file transfers, social networking details, and more.

So while the document does not list Amazon, but I would keep fingers crossed.

Questions that arise

To be aware about a situation you need to be able to formulate and answer key questions about it. The first and the most important question is whether the government is engaged in cyberstalking of law abiding citizens. Unfortunately the answer is definite yes, as oligarchy needs total control of prols. As a result National Security State rise to prominence as a dominant social organization of neoliberal societies, the societies which characterized by very high level of inequality.

But there are some additional, albeit less important questions. The answers to them determine utility or futility of small changes of our own behavior in view of uncovered evidence. Among possible set of such question I would list the following:

There are also some minor questions about efficiency of "total surveillance approach". Among them:

The other part of understand the threat is understanding is what data are collected. The short answer is all your phone records and Internet activity (RT USA):

The National Security Agency is collecting information on the Internet habits of millions of innocent Americans never suspected of criminal involvement, new NSA documents leaked by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden suggest.

Britain’s Guardian newspaper reported Monday that top-secret documents included in the trove of files supplied by the NSA contractor-turned-leaker Edward Snowden reveal that the US intelligence community obtains and keeps information on American citizens accumulated off the Internet without ever issuing a search warrant or opening an investigation into that person.

The information is obtained using a program codenamed Marina, the documents suggest, and is kept by the government for up to a full year without investigators ever having to explain why the subject is being surveilled.

Marina has the ability to look back on the last 365 days' worth of DNI metadata seen by the Sigint collection system, regardless whether or not it was tasked for collection,” the Guardian’s James Ball quotes from the documents.

According to a guide for intelligence analysts supplied by Mr. Snowden, “The Marina metadata application tracks a user's browser experience, gathers contact information/content and develops summaries of target.”

"This tool offers the ability to export the data in a variety of formats, as well as create various charts to assist in pattern-of-life development,” it continues.

Ball writes that the program collects “almost anything” a Web user does online, “from browsing history – such as map searches and websites visited – to account details, email activity, and even some account passwords.”

Only days earlier, separate disclosures attributed to Snowden revealed that the NSA was using a massive collection of metadata to create complex graphs of social connections for foreign intelligence purposes, although that program had pulled in intelligence about Americans as well.

After the New York Times broke news of that program, a NSA spokesperson said that “All data queries must include a foreign intelligence justification, period.” As Snowden documents continue to surface, however, it’s becoming clear that personal information pertaining to millions of US citizens is routinely raked in by the NSA and other agencies as the intelligence community collects as much data as possible.

In June, a top-secret document also attributed to Mr. Snowden revealed that the NSA was collecting the telephony metadata for millions of Americans from their telecom providers. The government has defended this practice by saying that the metadata — rough information that does not include the content of communications — is not protected by the US Constitution’s prohibition against unlawful search and seizure.

Metadata can be very revealing,” George Washington University law professor Orin S. Kerr told the Times this week. “Knowing things like the number someone just dialed or the location of the person’s cellphone is going to allow them to assemble a picture of what someone is up to. It’s the digital equivalent of tailing a suspect.”

According to the Guardian’s Ball, Internet metadata picked up by the NSA is routed to the Marina database, which is kept separate from the servers where telephony metadata is stored.

Only moments after the Guardian wrote of its latest leak on Monday, Jesselyn Radack of the Government Accountability Project read a statement before the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs penned by none other than Snowden himself.

When I began my work, it was with the sole intention of making possible the debate we see occurring here in this body,” Snowden said.

Snowden, who has been granted temporary asylum in Russia after being charged with espionage in the US, said through Raddack that “The cost for one in my position of returning public knowledge to public hands has been persecution and exile.”

Limits to spying via data collected about you

If the NSA's mining of data traffic is so effective, why weren't Tsarnaev's family's overseas calls predictive of a bombing at the Boston Marathon?

-Helen Corey WSJ.com

There are limits of this "powerful analytical software" as it currently used. As we mentioned above, even if NSA algorithms are incredibly clever they can't avoid producing large number of false positives. After two year investigation into the post 9/11 intelligence agencies, the Washington Post came to conclusion that they are collecting more information than anyone can comprehend ("drinking from a firehose" or "drowning is a sea of data"):

Every day, collection systems at the National Security Agency intercept and store 1.7 billions e-mails, phone calls and other types of communications. The NSA sorts a fraction of those into 70 separate databases"

First of all there is a classic problem of "signal vs. noise" (infoglut) in any large scale data collection and presence of noise in the channel makes signal much more difficult to detect.

Analysts who make sense of document and conversations obtained by foreign and domestic spying share their judgment by publishing 50,000 intelligence reports each year -- a volume so large that many are routinely ignored

The enormity of the database exacerbate the problem. That's why NSA is hunting for email on cloud providers, where they are already filtered from spam, and processing required is much less then for emails intercepted from the wire data. Still even with the direct access to user accounts, the volume of data, especially graphic (pictures) and video data, is really huge and that stress the limits of processing capabilities and storage.

Existence of Snowden saga when a single analyst was able to penetrate the system and extract considerable amount information with impunity suggests that the whole Agency is mess, probably like is typical for any large organization with a lot of incompetents or, worse, careerists and psychopaths  at the helm (see Toxic Managers). Which is typical for government agencies and large corporations.

Still the level of logs collection and internal monitoring in NSA proved to be surprisingly weak, as there are indirect signs that the agency does not even know what reports Snowden get into his hands. In any case we, unless this is a very clever inside operation, we need to assume that Edward Snowden stole thousands of documents, abused his sysadmin position in the NSA, and was never caught. Here is one relevant comment from The Guardian

carlitoontour

Oh NSA......that´s fine that you cannot find something......what did you tell us, the World and the US Congress about the "intelligence" of Edward Snowden and the low access he had?

SNOWDEN SUSPECTED OF BYPASSING ELECTRONIC LOGS

WASHINGTON (AP) -- 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.

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_NSA_SURVEILLANCE_SNOWDEN?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2013-08-24-09-41-24

On the other hand government agencies were never good in making huge and complex software projects work. And large software projects are a very difficult undertaking in any case. Even in industry 50% of software projects fail, and anybody who works in the industry knows, that the more complex the project is the higher are chances that it will be mismanaged and its functionality crippled due to architectural defects ("a camel is a horse designed by a committee"). It is given that such project will be over budget. Possibly several times over...

But if money is not a problem such system will eventually be completed ("with enough thrust pigs can fly"). Still there’s no particular reason to think that corruption (major work was probably outsourced) and incompetence (on higher management levels and, especially on architectural level as in "camel is a horse designed by a committee") don't affect the design and functionality of such government projects. Now when this activity come under fire some adjustments might be especially badly thought out and potentially cripple the existing functionality.

As J. Kirk Wiebe, a NSA insider, noted

"The way the government was going about those digital data flows was poor formed, uninformed. There seen to be more of a desire to contract out and capture money flow then there was a [desire} to actually perform the mission".

See the interview of a trio of former National Security Agency whistle-blowers to USA TODAY ( J. Kirk Wiebe remarks starts at 2:06 and the second half of it continues from 6:10):

In military organizations the problem is seldom with the talent (or lack of thereof) of individual contributors. The problem is with the bureaucracy that is very effective in preventing people from exercising their talents at the service of their country. Such system is deformed in such a way that it hamstrings the men who are serving in it. As a results, more often then not the talents are squandered or misused by patching holes created by incompetence of higher-up or or just pushed aside in the interdepartmental warfare.

In a way, incompetence can be defined as the inability to avoid mistakes which, in a "normal" course of project development could and should be avoided. And that's the nature of military bureaucracy with its multiple layer of command and compete lack of accountability on higher levels.

In addition, despite the respectable name of the organization many members of technical staff are amateurs. They never managed to sharpen their technical skills, while at the same time acquiring the skills necessary to survive the bureaucracy. Many do not have basic academic education and are self-taught hackers and/or "grow on the job". Typically people at higher level of hierarchy, are simply not experts in software engineering, but more like typical corporate "PowerPoint" warriors. They can be very shred managers and accomplished political fighters, but that's it.

This is the same situation that exists in security departments of large multinationals, so we can extrapolate from that. The word of Admiral Nelson "If the enemy would know what officer corps will confront them, it will be trembling, like I am". Here is Bill Gross apt recollection of his service as naval officer (The Tipping Point) that illustrate the problems:

A few years ago I wrote about the time that our ship (on my watch) was almost cut in half by an auto-piloted tanker at midnight, but never have I divulged the day that the USS Diachenko came within one degree of heeling over during a typhoon in the South China Sea. “Engage emergency ballast,” the Captain roared at yours truly – the one and only chief engineer. Little did he know that Ensign Gross had slept through his classes at Philadelphia’s damage control school and had no idea what he was talking about. I could hardly find the oil dipstick on my car back in San Diego, let alone conceive of emergency ballast procedures in 50 foot seas. And so…the ship rolled to starboard, the ship rolled to port, the ship heeled at the extreme to 36 degrees (within 1 degree, as I later read in the ship’s manual, of the ultimate tipping point). One hundred sailors at risk, because of one twenty-three-year-old mechanically challenged officer, and a Captain who should have known better than to trust him.

Huge part of this work is outsourced to various contractors and this is where corruption really creeps in. So the system might be not as powerful as many people automatically assume when they hear the abbreviation of NSA. So in a way when news about such system reaches public it might serve not weakening but strengthening of the capabilities of the system. Moreover, nobody would question the ability of such system to store huge amount of raw or semi-processed data including all metadata for your transactions on the Internet.

Also while it is a large agency with a lot of top mathematic talent, NSA is not NASA and motivation of the people (and probably quality of architectural thinking about software projects involved) is different despite much better financing. While they do have high quality people, like most US agencies in general, large bureaucracies usually are unable to utilize their talent. Mediocrities with sharp elbows, political talent, as well as sociopaths typically rule the show.

That means two things:

So even with huge amount of subcontractors that can chase mostly "big fish". Although one open question is why with all those treasure trove of data organized crime is so hard to defeat. Having dataset like this should generally expose all the members of any gang. Or, say, network of blue collar insider traders. So in an indirect way the fact that organized crime not only exists and in some cities even flourish can suggest one of two things:

There is also a question of complexity of analysis:

Possibility of abuses of collected data

Errors in algorithms and bugs in those programs can bite some people in a different way then branding them as "terrorists". Such people have no way of knowing why all of a sudden, for example, they are paying a more for insurance, why their credit score is so low no matter what they do, etc. In no way government in the only one who are using the mass of data collected via Google / Facebook / Yahoo / Microsoft / Verizon / Optonline / AT&T / Comcast, etc. It also can lead to certain subtle types of bias if not error. And there are always problems of intentional misuse of data sets having extremely intimate knowledge about you.

Corporate corruption can lead to those data that are shared with the government can also be shared for money with private actors. Inept use of this unconstitutionally obtained data is a threat to all of us.

Then there can be cases when you can be targeted just because you are critical to the particular area of government policy, for example the US foreign policy. This is "Back in the USSR" situation in full swing, with its prosecution of dissidents. Labeling you as a "disloyal/suspicious element" in one of government "terrorism tracking" databases can have drastic result to your career and you never even realize whats happened. Kind of Internet era McCarthyism .

Obama claims that the government is aware about this danger and tried not to overstep, but he is an interested party in this discussion. In a way government is pushed in this area by the new technologies that open tremendous opportunities for collecting data and making some correlations.

That's why even if you are doing nothing wrong, it is still important to know your enemy, as well as avoid getting into some traps. One typical trap is excessive centralization of your email on social sites, including using a single Webmail provider. It is much safer to have mail delivery to your computer via POP3 and to use Thunderbird or other email client. If your computer is a laptop, you achieve, say, 80% of portability that Web-based email providers like Google Gmail offers. That does not mean that you should close your Gmail or Yahoo account. More important is separating email accounts into "important" and "everything else". "Junk mail" can be stored on Web-based email providers without any problems. Personal emails is completely another matter.

Conclusions

#14 Gus Hunt, the chief technology officer at the CIA: "We fundamentally try to collect everything and hang onto it forever."

New Internet technology developments has huge "Externality":
Profiling is now really easy and almost automatic, especially with your own help

Technology development create new types of communications as well as new types of government surveillance mechanisms (you can call them "externalities" of new methods of communication). Those externalities, especially low cost of mass surveillance (Wikipedia), unfortunately, bring us closer to the Electronic police state (Wikipedia) or National Security State whether we want it or not. A crucial element of such a state is that its data gathering, sorting and correlation are continuous, cover a large number of citizens and all foreigners and those activities are seldom exposed.

Cloud computing as a technology that presuppose storing the data "offsite" on third party servers have several security problems, and one of them is that it is way too much "surveillance friendly" (Misunderstanding of issues of security and trust). With cloud computing powers that be do not need to do complex job of recreating TCP/IP conversations on router level to capture, say, all the emails. You can access Web-based email mailbox directly with all mails in appropriate mailboxes and spam filtered. Your address book is a bonus ;-). This is huge saving of computational efforts.

See


Top updates

Softpanorama Switchboard
Softpanorama Search


NEWS CONTENTS

Old News ;-)

Total Surveillance Bulletin, 2014 Total Surveillance Bulletin, 2013

Total Surveillance Bulletin, 2012

[May 22, 2017] NSA is here to help you or Spying as a service (SAAS)

May 22, 2017 | www.unz.com

Willem Hendrik, May 21, 2017 at 9:50 pm GMT

Look at the bright side; If you lost the grocery list your wife gave you, call the NSA and ask them to send you a copy.

If your boss denies promising you a raise call NSA for supporting materials.

SAAS ( Spying as a service)

[May 22, 2017] The Russian Obsession Goes Back Decades by Jacob G. Hornberger

Notable quotes:
"... Just consider the accusations that have been leveled at the president: ..."
"... He has committed treason by befriending Russia and other enemies of America. ..."
"... He has subjugated America's interests to Moscow. ..."
"... President Donald Trump? No, President John F. Kennedy. What lots of Americans don't realize, because it was kept secret from them for so long, is that what Trump has been enduring from the national-security establishment, the mainstream press, and the American right-wing for his outreach to, or "collusion with," Russia pales compared to what Kennedy had to endure for committing the heinous "crime" of reaching out to Russia and the rest of the Soviet Union in a spirit of peace and friendship. They hated him for it. They abused him. They insulted him. They belittled him. They called him naïve. They said he was a traitor. All of the nasties listed above, plus more, were contained in an advertisement and a flier that appeared in Dallas on the morning of November 22, 1963, the day that Kennedy was assassinated. They can be read here and here . Ever since then, some people have tried to make it seem like the advertisement and flier expressed only the feelings of extreme right-wingers in Dallas. That's nonsense. They expressed the deeply held convictions of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the CIA, the conservative movement, and many people within the mainstream media and Washington establishment. In June 1963, Kennedy threw down the gauntlet in a speech he delivered at American University, now entitled the " Peace Speech ." It was one of the most remarkable speeches ever delivered by an American president. It was broadcast all across the communist Soviet Union, the first time that had ever been done. ..."
"... Kennedy wasn't dumb. He knew what he was up against. He had heard Eisenhower warn the American people in his Farewell Address about the dangers to their freedom and democratic way of life posed by the military establishment. After Kennedy had read the novel Seven Days in May, ..."
"... Kennedy didn't stop with his Peace Speech. He also began negotiating a treaty with the Soviets to end above-ground nuclear testing, an action that incurred even more anger and ire within the Pentagon and the CIA. ..."
"... By this time, Kennedy's war with the national-security establishment was in full swing. He had already vowed to tear the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds after its perfidious conduct in the Bay of Pigs fiasco. By this time, he had also lost all confidence in the military after it proposed an all-out surprise nuclear attack on the Soviet Union, much as Japan had done at Pearl Harbor, after the infamous plan known as Operation Northwoods, which proposed terrorist attacks and plane hijackings carried out by U.S. agents posing as Cuban communists, so as to provide a pretext for invading Cuba, and after the Cuban Missile Crisis, when the military establishment accused him of appeasement and treason for agreeing not to ever invade Cuba again. ..."
"... What Kennedy didn't know was that his "secret" negotiations with the Soviet and Cuban communists weren't so secret after all. As it turns out, it was a virtual certainty that the CIA (or NSA) was listening in on telephone conversations of Cuban officials at the UN in New York City, much as the CIA and NSA still do today, during which they would have learned what the president was secretly doing behind their backs. ..."
"... In response to the things that were said in that advertisement and flier about him being a traitor for befriending Russia, he told his wife Jackie on the morning he was assassinated: "We are heading into nut country today." Of course, as he well knew, the nuts weren't located only in Dallas. They were also situated throughout the U.S. national-security establishment ..."
"... For more information, attend The Future of Freedom Foundation's one-day conference on June 3, 2017, entitled " The National Security State and JFK " at the Washington Dulles Marriott Hotel. ..."
May 20, 2017 | ronpaulinstitute.org

Just consider the accusations that have been leveled at the president:

  1. He has betrayed the Constitution, which he swore to uphold.
  2. He has committed treason by befriending Russia and other enemies of America.
  3. He has subjugated America's interests to Moscow.
  4. He has been caught in fantastic lies to the American people, including personal ones, like his previous marriage and divorce.
President Donald Trump? No, President John F. Kennedy. What lots of Americans don't realize, because it was kept secret from them for so long, is that what Trump has been enduring from the national-security establishment, the mainstream press, and the American right-wing for his outreach to, or "collusion with," Russia pales compared to what Kennedy had to endure for committing the heinous "crime" of reaching out to Russia and the rest of the Soviet Union in a spirit of peace and friendship.

They hated him for it. They abused him. They insulted him. They belittled him. They called him naïve. They said he was a traitor.

All of the nasties listed above, plus more, were contained in an advertisement and a flier that appeared in Dallas on the morning of November 22, 1963, the day that Kennedy was assassinated. They can be read here and here .

Ever since then, some people have tried to make it seem like the advertisement and flier expressed only the feelings of extreme right-wingers in Dallas. That's nonsense. They expressed the deeply held convictions of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the CIA, the conservative movement, and many people within the mainstream media and Washington establishment.

In June 1963, Kennedy threw down the gauntlet in a speech he delivered at American University, now entitled the " Peace Speech ." It was one of the most remarkable speeches ever delivered by an American president. It was broadcast all across the communist Soviet Union, the first time that had ever been done.

In the speech, Kennedy announced that he was bringing an end to the Cold War and the mindset of hostility toward Russia and the rest of the Soviet Union that the U.S. national-security establishment had inculcated in the minds of the American people ever since the end of World War II.

It was a radical notion and, as Kennedy well understood, a very dangerous one insofar as he was concerned. The Cold War against America's World War II partner and ally had been used to convert the United States from a limited-government republic to a national-security state, one consisting of a vast, permanent military establishment, the CIA, and the NSA, along with their broad array of totalitarian-like powers, such as assassination, regime change, coups, invasions, torture, surveillance, and the like. Everyone was convinced that the Cold War - and the so-called threat from the international communist conspiracy that was supposedly based in Russia - would last forever, which would naturally mean permanent and ever-increasing largess for what Kennedy's predecessor, President Dwight Eisenhower, had called the "military-industrial complex."

Suddenly, Kennedy was upending the Cold War apple cart by threatening to establish a relationship of friendship and peaceful coexistence with Russia, the rest of the Soviet Union, and Cuba.

Kennedy knew full well that his actions were considered by some to be a grave threat to "national security." After all, don't forget that it was Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz's outreach to the Soviets in a spirit of friendship that got him ousted from power by the CIA and presumably targeted for assassination as part of that regime-change operation. It was Cuban leader Fidel Castro's outreach to the Soviets in a spirit of friendship that made him the target of Pentagon and CIA regime-change operations, including through invasion, assassination, and sanctions. It was Congo leader's Patrice Lamumba's outreach to the Soviets in a spirit of friendship that got him targeted for assassination by the CIA. It would be Chilean President Salvador Allende's outreach to the Soviets in a spirit of friendship that got him targeted in a CIA-instigated coup in Chile that resulted in Allende's death.

Kennedy wasn't dumb. He knew what he was up against. He had heard Eisenhower warn the American people in his Farewell Address about the dangers to their freedom and democratic way of life posed by the military establishment. After Kennedy had read the novel Seven Days in May, which posited the danger of a military coup in America, he asked friends in Hollywood to make it into a movie to serve as a warning to the American people. In the midst of the Cuban Missile Crisis, when the Pentagon and the CIA were exerting extreme pressure on Kennedy to bomb and invade Cuba, his brother Bobby told a Soviet official with whom he was negotiating that the president was under a severe threat of being ousted in a coup. And, of course, Kennedy was fully mindful of what had happened to Arbenz, Lamumba, and Castro for doing what Kennedy was now doing - reaching out to the Soviets in a spirit of friendship.

In the eyes of the national-security establishment, one simply did not reach out to Russia, Cuba, or any other "enemy" of America. Doing so, in their eyes, made Kennedy an appeaser, betrayer, traitor, and a threat to "national security."

Kennedy didn't stop with his Peace Speech. He also began negotiating a treaty with the Soviets to end above-ground nuclear testing, an action that incurred even more anger and ire within the Pentagon and the CIA. Yes, that's right - they said that "national security" depended on the U.S. government's continuing to do what they object to North Korea doing today - conducting nuclear tests, both above ground and below ground.

Kennedy mobilized public opinion to overcome fierce opposition in the military, CIA, Congress, and the Washington establishment to secure passage of his Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

He then ordered a partial withdrawal of troops from Vietnam, and told close aides that he would order a complete pull-out after winning the 1964 election. In the eyes of the U.S. national-security establishment, leaving Vietnam subject to a communist takeover would pose a grave threat to national security here in the United States.

Worst of all, from the standpoint of the national-security establishment, Kennedy began secret personal negotiations with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev and Cuban leader Fidel Castro to bring an end to America's Cold War against them. That was considered to be a grave threat to "national security" as well as a grave threat to all the military and intelligence largess that depended on the Cold War.

By this time, Kennedy's war with the national-security establishment was in full swing. He had already vowed to tear the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds after its perfidious conduct in the Bay of Pigs fiasco. By this time, he had also lost all confidence in the military after it proposed an all-out surprise nuclear attack on the Soviet Union, much as Japan had done at Pearl Harbor, after the infamous plan known as Operation Northwoods, which proposed terrorist attacks and plane hijackings carried out by U.S. agents posing as Cuban communists, so as to provide a pretext for invading Cuba, and after the Cuban Missile Crisis, when the military establishment accused him of appeasement and treason for agreeing not to ever invade Cuba again.

What Kennedy didn't know was that his "secret" negotiations with the Soviet and Cuban communists weren't so secret after all. As it turns out, it was a virtual certainty that the CIA (or NSA) was listening in on telephone conversations of Cuban officials at the UN in New York City, much as the CIA and NSA still do today, during which they would have learned what the president was secretly doing behind their backs.

Kennedy's feelings toward the people who were calling him a traitor for befriending Moscow and other "enemies" of America? In response to the things that were said in that advertisement and flier about him being a traitor for befriending Russia, he told his wife Jackie on the morning he was assassinated: "We are heading into nut country today." Of course, as he well knew, the nuts weren't located only in Dallas. They were also situated throughout the U.S. national-security establishment.

For more information, attend The Future of Freedom Foundation's one-day conference on June 3, 2017, entitled " The National Security State and JFK " at the Washington Dulles Marriott Hotel.

Reprinted with permission from the Future of Freedom Foundation .

[May 21, 2017] Now we have a government dominated by Banking and Distribution, think Goldman Sacks and Walmart

Notable quotes:
"... Over the last thirty years the power of the Manufacturing and Infrastructure concerns has fallen dramatically. So now we have a government dominated by Banking and Distribution, think Goldman Sacks and Walmart. ..."
"... According to former CIA director Richard Helms, when Allen Dulles was tasked in 1946 to "draft proposals for the shape and organization of what was to become the Central Intelligence Agency," he recruited an advisory group of six men made up almost exclusively of Wall Street investment bankers and lawyers. ..."
"... Dulles himself was an attorney at the prominent Wall Street law firm, Sullivan and Cromwell. Two years later, Dulles became the chairman of a three-man committee which reviewed the young agency's performance. ..."
"... So we see that from the beginning the CIA was an exclusive Wall Street club. Allen Dulles himself became the first civilian Director of Central Intelligence in early 1953. ..."
"... The current Democratic Party was handed two golden opportunities and blew both of them. Obama blew the 2008 financial crisis. And Hillary Clinton blew the 2016 election. ..."
"... Neoliberal Democrats seek to create the same tribablist/identity voting block on the left that the republicans have on the right. The is why people like sanjait get totally spastic when progressives criticize the party. ..."
May 21, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

Gibbon1 , May 19, 2017 at 04:24 PM

Among the rich I think there were three groups based on where their wealth and interests laid.

Banking/Insurance industry.
Distribution/logistics.
Manufacturing and Infrastructure.

Over the last thirty years the power of the Manufacturing and Infrastructure concerns has fallen dramatically. So now we have a government dominated by Banking and Distribution, think Goldman Sacks and Walmart.

libezkova - , May 20, 2017 at 09:03 PM
"Over the last thirty years the power of the Manufacturing and Infrastructure concerns has fallen dramatically. So now we have a government dominated by Banking and Distribution, think Goldman Sacks and Walmart."

This trend does not apply to Military-industrial complex (MIC). MIC probably should be listed separately. Formally it is a part of manufacturing and infrastructure, but in reality it is closely aligned with Banking and insurance.

CIA which is the cornerstone of the military industrial complex to a certain extent is an enforcement arm for financial corporations.

Allen Dulles came the law firm that secured interests of Wall Street in foreign countries, see http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article30605.htm )

According to former CIA director Richard Helms, when Allen Dulles was tasked in 1946 to "draft proposals for the shape and organization of what was to become the Central Intelligence Agency," he recruited an advisory group of six men made up almost exclusively of Wall Street investment bankers and lawyers.

Dulles himself was an attorney at the prominent Wall Street law firm, Sullivan and Cromwell. Two years later, Dulles became the chairman of a three-man committee which reviewed the young agency's performance.

The other two members of the committee were also New York lawyers. For nearly a year, the committee met in the offices of J.H. Whitney, a Wall Street investment firm.

According to Peter Dale Scott, over the next twenty years, all seven deputy directors of the agency were drawn from the Wall Street financial aristocracy; and six were listed in the New York social register.

So we see that from the beginning the CIA was an exclusive Wall Street club. Allen Dulles himself became the first civilian Director of Central Intelligence in early 1953.

The prevalent myth that the CIA exists to provide intelligence information to the president was the promotional vehicle used to persuade President Harry Truman to sign the 1947 National Security Act, the legislation which created the CIA.iv

But the rationale about serving the president was never more than a partial and very imperfect truth...

Gibbon1 - , May 19, 2017 at 04:59 PM
The current Democratic Party was handed two golden opportunities and blew both of them. Obama blew the 2008 financial crisis. And Hillary Clinton blew the 2016 election.

If you have a tool and the tool it broken you try to fix it. One doesn't pretend there is nothing wrong.

The difference between neoliberal democrats and progressives is they differ on what's wrong.

Neoliberal Democrats seek to create the same tribablist/identity voting block on the left that the republicans have on the right. The is why people like sanjait get totally spastic when progressives criticize the party.

Progressives seek to create an aggressive party that represents the interests of working class and petite bourgeoisie. That is why you see progressives get spastic when the corporate democrats push appeasement policies.

[May 21, 2017] Keeping communications private in the age of Big Brother (a practical HOWTO) - The Unz Review

Notable quotes:
"... the NSA has to prioritize its efforts: shall they use their supercomputers, translators, analysts, senior officers, etc. to spy after, say, the girlfriend of a senior Chinese diplomat or spy after you? ..."
"... Using sophisticated ComSec technologies only draws unwanted attention to you ..."
"... My advice is simple: never use any form of encryption while at work ..."
"... .If ComSec is important for you, you really ought to ditch your Windows or Mac/Apple machines. They – like anything Google, are basically a subsidiary of the NSA. ..."
"... The real cost of security will always be convenience : the painful reality is that good security is always inconvenient. ..."
"... The key here is "is it worth it?" and that is a personal decision of yours to take. Also, you will also need to factor in the costs of not using high-tech ..."
"... when the General Petraeus sex scandal made news, it was revealed that he communicated with is lover using this method. Since they are both career CIA officers, I guess it works. ..."
"... It's been discussed that the CIA and Deep State promoted Abstract Art as ideological weapon during the Cold War. When will people discuss the fact that Homomania is now the #1 ideological weapon of Globo-Imperialism in the Gold War. ..."
"... And the content of your messages is almost irrelevant. GCHQ doesn't monitor content of UK residents without explicit authority. It hardly needs to. It can monitor who you call, when, how often, how long are the calls, your locations, the receiver's locations, your other contacts, their other contacts. With that much information, the content is almost irrelevant. ..."
"... Re: Peter Principle. Your discussion of the open-source community level of quality made me wonder if there is a mirror image of the Peter Principle, say, the Paul Principle? ..."
"... Does anyone trust Android phones? I was sad that the Ubuntu phone failed. ..."
May 21, 2017 | www.unz.com
Second, both spying and ComSec are cost-driven . Yes, even the NSA has a limited (if huge) budget. And yes, even the NSA has to prioritize its efforts: shall they use their supercomputers, translators, analysts, senior officers, etc. to spy after, say, the girlfriend of a senior Chinese diplomat or spy after you?

It is true that all our communications are intercepted and recorded. This is especially true of the 'metadata' (who contacted whom and when and how and how often), but it is also true of our more or less 'secure' communications, be they protected by a very weak encryption algorithm or a military-grade encryption system. Once that data is stored, the NSA has to parse it (mostly looking at the metadata) and take a decision as to how much resources it is willing to allocate to your specific case. No offense intended, but if you are a small pot grower with a history of political activism who emigrated to the USA form, say, Turkey 10 years ago and if you are emailing your friends in Antalya, the NSA would need to decrypt your email. That would take them less than 1 milisecond, but somebody needs to authorize it.

Then they would have to get a machine translation from Turkish into English which will be hopefully good enough (I am quite sure that the few Turkish-language translators they have will not be allocated to you, sorry, you are just not that important). Then some analyst must read that text and decide to pass it on to his boss for follow-up. If the analyst finds your email boring, he will simply send it all into a virtual trash bin. Conclusions: For the bad guys to spy after you must be worth their time as expressed in dollars and cents, including opportunity costs (time spend *not* going after somebody more important) It is exceedingly unlikely that the NSA will put their best and brightest on your case so don't assume they will.

... ... ...

Using sophisticated ComSec technologies only draws unwanted attention to you . This one was very true and is still partially true. But the trend is in the right direction. What this argument says is that in a culture where most people use postcards to communicate using a letter in a sealed envelope makes you look suspicious. Okay, true, but only to the extend that few people are using envelopes. What has changed in the past, say, 20-30 years is that nowadays everybody is expecting some degree of security and protection. For example, many of you might remember that in the past, most Internet addresses began with HTTP whereas now they mostly begin with HTTPS: that "s" at the end stands for "secure" . Even very mainstream applications like Skype or Whatsapp use a very similar technology to the one justifying the "s" at the end of HTTPS. We now live in a world were the number of users of sealed envelopes is growing where the usage of postcards is in free fall. Still, it IS true that in some instances the use of a top-of-the-line encryption scheme will draw somebody's attention to you.

... ... ...

My advice is simple: never use any form of encryption while at work or on the clock. ...Just keep a reasonably low profile. For public consumption, I also recommend using Google's Gmail. Not only does it work very well, but using Gmail makes you look "legit" in the eyes of the idiots. So why not use it?

...The US government has many ways to spy on you. You can use the most advanced encryption schemes, but if your computer is running Windows you are *begging* for a backdoor and, in fact, you probably already have many of them in your machine. But even if your operating system is really secure like, say OpenBSD or SEL-Debian, the NSA can spy on you ,,,

...If ComSec is important for you, you really ought to ditch your Windows or Mac/Apple machines. They – like anything Google, are basically a subsidiary of the NSA.

If you use remote servers to provide you with " software as a service " try to use those who have a stake in being peer-reviewed and who only use open source technologies (Silent Circle's Silent Phone is an example). There are public interest and "watchdog" type of organizations out there who will help you make the right choices, such as the Electronic Freedom Foundation .

... ... ...

The real cost of security will always be convenience : the painful reality is that good security is always inconvenient. In theory, security does not need to harm convenience, but in reality it always, always does. For example, to become more or less proficient in ComSec you need to educate yourself, that takes time and energy. Using a key to enter a home takes more time than to open an unlocked door. A retinal scan takes even more time (and costs a lot more). You might always spend a great deal of time trying to convince your friends to adopt your practices, but they will reject your advice for many more or less valid reasons. The key here is "is it worth it?" and that is a personal decision of yours to take. Also, you will also need to factor in the costs of not using high-tech.

... ... ...

Carlton Meyer , Website May 21, 2017 at 3:22 am GMT

I have read about a simpler method. Open a web mail account with yahoo or whoever and share the username/password. Then compose a message and save the draft. Your partner later opens the draft and adds a response, saves draft, and so on. No e-mail is ever sent, so there is nothing to intercept.

This sounded crafty but I was unsure if it was secure and have no need anyway, but when the General Petraeus sex scandal made news, it was revealed that he communicated with is lover using this method. Since they are both career CIA officers, I guess it works.

Philip Owen , May 21, 2017 at 11:59 am GMT

Medieval methods work best. Surround a large building with guards. In the middle of the large internal space place a circle of (inspected) chairs. Meet in a huddle.

For the poor, nothing beats a walk in the countryside, even a park.

Anon , May 21, 2017 at 6:38 pm GMT

It's been discussed that the CIA and Deep State promoted Abstract Art as ideological weapon during the Cold War. When will people discuss the fact that Homomania is now the #1 ideological weapon of Globo-Imperialism in the Gold War.

Philip Owen , May 21, 2017 at 7:28 pm GMT

And the content of your messages is almost irrelevant. GCHQ doesn't monitor content of UK residents without explicit authority. It hardly needs to. It can monitor who you call, when, how often, how long are the calls, your locations, the receiver's locations, your other contacts, their other contacts. With that much information, the content is almost irrelevant.

Ivy , May 21, 2017 at 8:12 pm GMT

Re: Peter Principle. Your discussion of the open-source community level of quality made me wonder if there is a mirror image of the Peter Principle, say, the Paul Principle?

DaveE , May 21, 2017 at 8:33 pm GMT

A great way to keep your cellphone radio-silent is to wrap it in a (2 is better still) metallized mylar potato chip or Doritos bag. (The more silvery looking, the better, in my experience.)

The cell sites will NOT be able to ask your phone for its ID or give up its location, until you take it out of the bag, of course.

It's a great way to take a road trip without the NSA knowing EXACTLY where you are at every point along the way. And generally, you will be able to return your calls when you get home since there will be a record of the calls at your provider, which will come up (in your message box) when the phone is re-enabled.

Be aware though, once the phone is taken out of the bag, it will register with the local cell sites (i.e. your cover will be blown.)

Ben Banned , May 21, 2017 at 8:50 pm GMT

Debian with the ssl bug that quietly existed for years – most likely for spying? That OS? That "community" effort? Which is basically derived from (Redhat) which is the DOD? Pffrt. Most of this is nonsense.

The NSA has made people their bitch, in the most obvious ways. In the spirit of security then and being a dutiful patriotic bitch – keep posting on social media given to you by the "truth tellers". They are here to help you right? Tell you all the truthiness because they "were" in the military, and "were" spooks. Keep your iphones close and let your mind do the deep state's thinking.

Eagle Eye , May 22, 2017 at 12:54 am GMT

For your emails: Protonmail https://protonmail.com/ (free of charge)

Free of charge? Paid for by whom?

As others have pointed out (if not in so many words), 95% of the spying efforts by the NSA and others are directed at traffic analysis , not analyzing the CONTENT of communications. Who contacted whom, when, for how long, etc. can tell you a lot about what is going on, and is very easy and cheap to do on a massive (humanity-wide) scale using existing computer technology.

The Electronic Frontiers Foundation referred to in the Saker's piece illustrates the point:

• They know you rang a phone sex service at 2:24 am and spoke for 18 minutes. But they don't know what you talked about.
• They know you called the suicide prevention hotline from the Golden Gate Bridge. But the topic of the call remains a secret.
• They know you spoke with an HIV testing service, then your doctor, then your health insurance company in the same hour. But they don't know what was discussed.
• They know you received a call from the local NRA office while it was having a campaign against gun legislation, and then called your senators and congressional representatives immediately after. But the content of those calls remains safe from government intrusion.
• They know you called a gynecologist, spoke for a half hour, and then called the local Planned Parenthood's number later that day. But nobody knows what you spoke about.

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2013/06/why-metadata-matters

In a similar vein, it is said (almost certainly correctly) that Target can spot whether a shopper is pregnant long before she starts buying obvious baby-related stuff.

Johnny F. Ive , May 22, 2017 at 2:00 am GMT

I didn't know about the phone apps. They look nice. Does anyone trust Android phones? I was sad that the Ubuntu phone failed. I'd like smart phones to be more like PCs where new operating systems can be installed on them. Is "SEL-Debian," Security Enhanced Linux? The NSA developed that. OpenBSD supposed to be real nice and encrypted. How about systemd? The good thing about open source is that the code is open but does anyone read it?

...

[May 19, 2017] There are other search engines, browsers, email services besides those operated by the giants. DuckDuckGo, protonmail, and the Opera browser (with free built-in VPN!) work well for me

As soon as DuckDuckGo shows ads and you have Javascript enabled your privacy evaporate the same way it evaporated in Google, unless you use VPN. But even in this case there are ways to "bound" your PC to you via non IP based methods.
May 19, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

lyman alpha blob , May 19, 2017 at 1:58 pm

There are other search engines, browsers, email services, etc. besides those operated by the giants. DuckDuckGo, protonmail, and the Opera browser (with free built-in VPN!) work well for me.

The problem is, if these other services ever do get popular enough, the tech giants will either block them by getting their stooges appointed to Federal agencies and regulating them out of existence, or buy them.

I've been running from ISP acquisitions for years, as the little guys get bought out I have to find an even littler one.

Luckily I've found a local ISP, GWI, that I've used for years now. They actually came out against the new regulations that would allow them to gather and sell their customers' data. Such anathema will probably wind up with their CEO publicly flayed for going against all that is good and holy according to the Five Horsemen.

[May 19, 2017] Notes From an Emergency Tech Feudalism

Notable quotes:
"... ByMaciej Cegłowski, a painter and computer guywho livesin San Francisco and runs a bookmarking site called Pinboard. Originally published at Idle Words ..."
"... This is the text version of a talk I gave on May 10, 2017, at the re:publica conference in Berlin. ..."
"... The emergency I want to talk about is the rise of a vigorous ethnic nationalism in Europe and America. This nationalism makes skillful use of online tools, tools that we believed inherently promoted freedom, to advance an authoritarian agenda. ..."
"... Facebook is the dominant social network in Europe, with 349 million monthly active users. Google has something like 94% of market share for search in Germany. The servers of Europe are littered with the bodies of dead and dying social media sites. The few holdouts that still exist, like Xing , are being crushed by their American rivals. ..."
"... And so Trump is in charge in America, and America has all your data. This leaves you in a very exposed position. US residents enjoy some measure of legal protection against the American government. Even if you think our intelligence agencies are evil, they're a lawful evil. They have to follow laws and procedures, and the people in those agencies take them seriously. ..."
"... But there are no such protections for non-Americans outside the United States. The NSA would have to go to court to spy on me; they can spy on you anytime they feel like it. ..."
"... A very cleverly designed trap, and one in which the cattle to be slaughtered all believe they are choosing their own destiny even as they are herded inexorably closer to the slaughterhouse. ..."
May 19, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Posted on May 19, 2017 by Yves Smith Yves here. This is a wide-ranging, lively, sobering talk about the implications of tech feudalism and what we can do about it.

ByMaciej Cegłowski, a painter and computer guywho livesin San Francisco and runs a bookmarking site called Pinboard. Originally published at Idle Words

This is the text version of a talk I gave on May 10, 2017, at the re:publica conference in Berlin.

The good part about naming a talk in 2017 'Notes from an Emergency' is that there are so many directions to take it.

The emergency I want to talk about is the rise of a vigorous ethnic nationalism in Europe and America. This nationalism makes skillful use of online tools, tools that we believed inherently promoted freedom, to advance an authoritarian agenda.

Depending on where you live, the rise of this new right wing might be nothing new. In the United States, our moment of shock came last November, with the election of Donald Trump. The final outcome of that election was:

65.8 million for Clinton
63.0 million for Trump

This was the second time in sixteen years that the candidate with fewer votes won the American Presidency. There is a bug in the operating system of our democracy, one of the many ways that slavery still casts its shadow over American politics.

But however tenuously elected, Trump is in the White House, and our crisis has become your crisis. Not just because America is a superpower, or because the forces that brought Trump to power are gaining ground in Europe, but because the Internet is an American Internet.

Facebook is the dominant social network in Europe, with 349 million monthly active users. Google has something like 94% of market share for search in Germany. The servers of Europe are littered with the bodies of dead and dying social media sites. The few holdouts that still exist, like Xing , are being crushed by their American rivals.

In their online life, Europeans have become completely dependent on companies headquartered in the United States.

And so Trump is in charge in America, and America has all your data. This leaves you in a very exposed position. US residents enjoy some measure of legal protection against the American government. Even if you think our intelligence agencies are evil, they're a lawful evil. They have to follow laws and procedures, and the people in those agencies take them seriously.

But there are no such protections for non-Americans outside the United States. The NSA would have to go to court to spy on me; they can spy on you anytime they feel like it.

This is an astonishing state of affairs. I can't imagine a world where Europe would let itself become reliant on American cheese, or where Germans could only drink Coors Light.

In the past, Europe has shown that it's capable of identifying a vital interest and moving to protect it. When American aerospace companies were on the point of driving foreign rivals out of business, European governments formed the Airbus consortium , which now successfully competes with Boeing.

A giant part of the EU budget goes to subsidize farming , not because farming is the best use of resources in a first-world economy, but because farms are important to national security, to the landscape, to national identity, social stability, and a shared sense of who we are.

But when it comes to the Internet, Europe doesn't put up a fight. It has ceded the ground entirely to American corporations. And now those corporations have to deal with Trump. How hard do you think they'll work to defend European interests?

The Feudal Internet

The status quo in May 2017 looks like this:

There are five Internet companies-Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook. Together they have a market capitalization just under 3 trillion dollars.

Bruce Schneier has called this arrangement the feudal Internet . Part of this concentration is due to network effects, but a lot of it is driven by the problem of security. If you want to work online with any measure of convenience and safety, you must choose a feudal lord who is big enough to protect you.

These five companies compete and coexist in complex ways.

Apple and Google have a duopoly in smartphone operating systems. Android has 82% of the handset market , iOS has 18%.

Google and Facebook are on their way to a duopoly in online advertising. Over half of the revenue in that lucrative ($70B+) industry goes to them, and the two companies between them are capturing all of the growth (16% a year).

Apple and Microsoft have a duopoly in desktop operating systems. The balance is something like nine to one in favor of Windows , not counting the three or four people who use Linux on the desktop, all of whom are probably at this conference.

Three companies, Amazon, Microsoft and Google, dominate cloud computing. AWS has 57% adoption , Azure has 34%. Google has 15%.

Outside of China and Russia, Facebook and LinkedIn are the only social networks at scale. LinkedIn has been able to survive by selling itself to Microsoft.

And outside of Russia and China, Google is the world's search engine .

That is the state of the feudal Internet, leaving aside the court jester, Twitter, who plays an important but ancillary role as a kind of worldwide chat room.

Google in particular has come close to realizing our nightmare scenario from 1998, a vertically integrated Internet controlled by a single monopoly player. Google runs its own physical network, builds phone handsets, develops a laptop and phone operating system, makes the world's most widely-used browser, runs a private DNS system, PKI certificate authority, has photographed nearly all the public spaces in the world, and stores much of the world's email.

But because it is run by more sympathetic founders than Bill Gates, because it builds better software than early Microsoft did, and because it built up a lot of social capital during its early "don't be evil" period, we've given it a pass.

Security

It's not clear that anyone can secure large data collections over time. The asymmetry between offense and defense may be too great. If defense at scale is possible, the only way to do it is by pouring millions of dollars into hiring the best people to defend it. Data breaches at the highest levels have shown us that the threats are real and ongoing. And for every breach we know about, there are many silent ones that we won't learn about for years.

A successful defense, however, just increases the risk. Pile up enough treasure behind the castle walls and you'll eventually attract someone who can climb them. The feudal system makes the Internet more brittle, ensuring that when a breach finally comes, it will be disastrous.

Each of the big five companies, with the important exception of Apple, has made aggressive user surveillance central to its business model. This is a dilemma of the feudal internet. We seek protection from these companies because they can offer us security. But their business model is to make us more vulnerable, by getting us to surrender more of the details of our lives to their servers, and to put more faith in the algorithms they train on our observed behavior.

These algorithms work well, and despite attempts to convince us otherwise, it's clear they work just as well in politics as in commerce. So in our eagerness to find safety online, we've given this feudal Internet the power to change our offline world in unanticipated and scary ways.

Globalism

These big five companies operate on a global scale, and partly because they created the industries they now dominate, they enjoy a very lax regulatory regime. Everywhere outside the United States and EU, they are immune to government oversight, and within the United Statesl the last two administrations have played them with a light touch. The only meaningful attempt to regulate surveillance capitalism has come out of the European Union.

Thanks to their size and reach, the companies have become adept at stonewalling governments and evading attempts at regulation or oversight. In many cases, this evasion is noble. You don't want Bahrain or Poland to be able to subpoena Facebook and get the names of people organizing a protest rally. In other cases, it's purely self-serving. Uber has made a sport of evading all authority, foreign and domestic, in order to grow.

Good or bad, the lesson these companies have drawn is the same: they need only be accountable to themselves.

But their software and algorithms affect the lives of billions of people. Decisions about how this software works are not under any kind of democratic control. In the best case, they are being made by idealistic young people in California with imperfect knowledge of life in a faraway place like Germany. In the worst case, they are simply being read out of a black-box algorithm trained on God knows what data.

This is a very colonial mentality! In fact, it's what we fought our American War of Independence over, a sense of grievance that decisions that affected us were being made by strangers across the ocean.

Today we're returning the favor to all of Europe.

Facebook, for example, has only one manager in Germany to deal with every publisher in the country. One! The company that is dismantling the news industry in Germany doesn't even care enough to send a proper team to manage the demolition.

Denmark has gone so far as to appoint an ambassador to the giant tech companies, an unsettling but pragmatic acknowledgement of the power relationship that exists between the countries of Europe and Silicon Valley.

So one question (speaking now as an EU citizen): how did we let this happen? We used to matter! We used to be the ones doing the colonizing! We used to be a contender!

How is it that some dopey kid in Palo Alto gets to decide the political future of the European Union based on what they learned at big data boot camp? Did we lose a war?

The lack of accountability isn't just troubling from a philosophical perspective. It's dangerous in a political climate where people are pushing back at the very idea of globalization. There's no industry more globalized than tech, and no industry more vulnerable to a potential backlash.

China and Russia show us that the Internet need not be a world-wide web, that it can be subverted and appropriated by the state. By creating a political toolkit for authoritarian movements, the American tech giants may be putting their own future at risk.

Irreality

Given this scary state of the world, with ecological collapse just over the horizon, and a population sharpening its pitchforks, an important question is how this globalized, unaccountable tech industry sees its goals. What does it want? What will all the profits be invested in?

What is the plan?

The honest answer is: rocket ships and immortality.

I wish I was kidding.

The best minds in Silicon Valley are preoccupied with a science fiction future they consider it their manifest destiny to build. Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk are racing each other to Mars. Musk gets most of the press, but Bezos now sells $1B in Amazon stock a year to fund Blue Origin. Investors have put over $8 billion into space companies over the past five years, as part of a push to export our problems here on Earth into the rest of the Solar System.

As happy as I am to see Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos fired into space, this does not seem to be worth the collapse of representative government.

Our cohort of tech founders is feeling the chill breath of mortality as they drift into middle age. And so part of what is driving this push into space is a more general preoccupation with 'existential risk'.

Musk is persuaded that we're living in a simulation, and he or a fellow true believer has hired programmers to try to hack it.

Peter Thiel, our most unfortunate German import, has built a survival retreat for himself in New Zealand .

Sam Altman hoards gold in Big Sur .

OpenAI, a religious cult thinly disguised as a research institution, has received $1B in funding to forestall the robot rebellion.

The biggest existential risk, of course, is death, so a lot of money is going to make sure that our big idea men don't expire before the world has been received the full measure of their genius.

Google Ventures founded the very secretive life extension startup Calico , with $1.5B dollars in funding. Google loses $4B a year on its various "moon shots", which include life extension. They employ Ray Kurzweil, who believes we're still on track for immortality by 2045 . Larry Ellison has put $370M to anti-aging research , as anybody would want to live in a world with an immortal Larry Ellison. Our plutocrats are eager to make death an opt-out experience.

Now, I'm no fan of death. I don't like the time commitment, or the permanence. A number of people I love are dead and it has strained our relationship.

But at the same time, I'm not convinced that a civilization that is struggling to cure male-pattern baldness is ready to take on the Grim Reaper. If we're going to worry about existential risk, I would rather we start by addressing the two existential risks that are indisputably real-nuclear war and global climate change-and working our way up from there.

But real problems are messy. Tech culture prefers to solve harder, more abstract problems that haven't been sullied by contact with reality. So they worry about how to give Mars an earth-like climate, rather than how to give Earth an earth-like climate. They debate how to make a morally benevolent God-like AI, rather than figuring out how to put ethical guard rails around the more pedestrian AI they are introducing into every area of people's lives.

The tech industry enjoys tearing down flawed institutions, but refuses to put work into mending them. Their runaway apparatus of surveillance and manipulation earns them a fortune while damaging everything it touches. And all they can think about is the cool toys they'll get to spend the profits on.

The message that's not getting through to Silicon Valley is one that your mother taught you when you were two: you don't get to play with the new toys until you clean up the mess you made.

The circumstances that have given the tech industry all this power will not last long. There is a limited time in which our small caste of tech nerds will have the power to make decisions that shape the world. By wasting the talents and the energies of our brightest people on fantasy role play, we are ceding the future to a more practical group of successors, some truly scary people who will take our tools and use them to advance a very different agenda.

To recap: the Internet has centralized into a very few hands. We have an extremely lucrative apparatus of social control, and it's being run by chuckleheads.

The American government is also being run by chuckleheads.

The question everybody worries about is, what happens when these two groups of chuckleheads join forces?

The Winter

For many Americans, the election was a moment of profound shock. It wasn't just Trump's policies that scared us. It was the fact that this unserious, cruel, vacant human being had been handed the power of the American presidency.

Scariest to me was how little changed. No one in the press or in social media had the courage to say "we fucked up." Pundits who were stunned by the election result still made confident predictions about what would happen next, as if they had any claim to predictive power.

After the election both Facebook and Google looked at the mountains of data they had collected on everyone, looked at the threats the Trump Administration was making-to deport 11 million people, to ban Muslims from entering the country-and said to themselves, "we got this."

The people who did worry were tech workers. For a moment, we saw some political daylight appear between the hundreds of thousands of people who work in the tech sector, and the small clique of billionaires who run it. While the latter filed in to a famously awkward meeting with Trump and his children at the top of his golden tower, the former began organizing in opposition, including signing a simple but powerful pledge to resign rather than help Trump fulfill one of his key campaign promises: barring Muslims from the United States.

This pledge was a small gesture, but it represented the first collective action by tech workers around a political agenda that went beyond technology policy, and the first time I had ever seen tech workers come out in open defiance of management.

A forest of new organizations sprung up. I started one, too, called Tech Solidarity, and started traveling around the country and holding meetings with tech workers in big cities. I had no idea what I was doing, other than trying to use a small window of time to organize and mobilize our sleepy industry.

That feeling of momentum continued through when Trump took office. The Women's March in January brought five million people out onto the streets. America is not used to mass protests. To see the streets of our major cities fill with families, immigrants, in many cases moms and daughters and grandmothers marching together, that was a sight to take your breath away.

Hard on the heels of it came the travel ban, an executive order astonishing not just in its cruelty-families were split at airports; in one case a mom was not allowed to breastfeed her baby -but in its ineptitude. For a week or two lawyers were camped out at airports, working frantically, sleeping little, with spontaneous efforts to bring them supplies, get them funding, to do anything to help. We held a rally in San Francisco that raised thirty thousand dollars from a room of a hundred people. Some of the organizations we were helping couldn't even attend, they were too busy at the airport. It didn't matter.

The tech companies did all they could to not get involved. Facebook has a special ' safety check ' feature for exactly this kind of situation, but never thought of turning it on at airports. Public statements out of Silicon Valley were so insipid as to be comical .

Employees, however, were electrified. It looked like not only visitors but permanent residents would be barred from the United States. Google employees staged a walkout with the support of their management; Facebook (not wishing to be left behind) had its own internal protest a couple of days later, but kept it a secret. Every time the employees pushed, management relented . Suddenly top executives were going on the record against the travel ban.

People briefly even got mad at Elon Musk , normally a darling of the tech industry, for his failure to resign from the President's advisory council. The silent majority of tech employees had begun to mobilize.

And then nothing happened. This tech workforce, which had gotten a taste of its own power, whose smallest efforts at collective action had produced immediate results, who had seen just how much sway they held, went back to work. The worst of Trump's travel ban was blocked by the court, and we moved on. With the initial shock of Trump in office gone, we now move from crisis to crisis, but without a plan or a shared positive goal.

The American discomfort with prolonged, open disagreement has set in.

When I started trying to organize people in November, my theory was that tech workers were the only group that had leverage over the tech giants.

My reasoning went like this: being monopolies or near-monopolies, these companies are impervious to public pressure. Boycotts won't work, since opting out of a site like Google means opting out of much of modern life.

Several of these companies are structured (unusually for American corporations) in such a way that the board can't control the majority of votes. At Google and Facebook, for example, the ultimate say goes to the founders. And since Google and Facebook are the major online publishing outlets, it's unlikely that the press would ever criticize them, even if journalists were capable of that kind of sustained attention.

So that leaves just one point of leverage: employees. Tech workers are hard to find, expensive to hire, take a long time to train, and can have their pick of jobs. Tech companies are small compared to other industries, relying heavily on automation. If even a few dozen workers on an ops team acted in concert, they would have the power to shut down a tech giant like Google. All they had to do was organize around a shared agenda.

Workers seemed receptive to the argument, but confused about how they could make collective action a reality. Trade unions in the United States have been under attack for decades. There is almost no union culture in technology. Our tech workers are passive and fatalistic.

So here I am in Europe, wondering, what on Earth can we do?

And I keep coming back to this idea of connecting the tech industry to reality. Bringing its benefits to more people, and bringing the power to make decisions to more people.

Closing the Loop

After Communism collapsed in Poland, I started visiting the country every eight months or so. Even in the darkest period of the 1990's, it was striking to see people's material standard of living improve. Suddenly people had cars, phones, appliances. These gains were uneven but broad. Even farmers and retirees, though they were the hardest hit, had access to consumer goods that weren't available before. You could see the change in homes and in public spaces. It was no longer necessary for office workers in Kraków to change their shirts at lunchtime because of soot in the air. The tap water in Warsaw went from light brown to a pleasant pale yellow.

For all the looting, corruption, and inefficiency of privatization, enough of the new wealth got through that the overall standard of living went up. Living standards in Poland in 2010 had more than doubled from 1990.

In the same time period, in the United States, I've seen a whole lot of nothing. Despite fabulous technical progress, practically all of it pioneered in our country, there's been a singular failure to connect our fabulous prosperity with the average person.

A study just out shows that for the median male worker in the United States, the highest lifetime wages came if you entered the workforce in 1967 . That is astonishing. People born in 1942 had better lifetime earnings prospects than people entering the workforce today.

You can see this failure to connect with your own eyes even in a rich place like Silicon Valley. There are homeless encampments across the street from Facebook headquarters . California has a larger GDP than France , and at the same time has the highest poverty rate in America , adjusted for cost of living. Not only did the tech sector fail to build up the communities around it, but it's left people worse off than before, by pricing them out of the places they grew up.

Walk the length of Market Street (watch your step!) in San Francisco and count the shuttered store fronts. Take Caltrain down to San Jose, and see if you can believe that it is the richest city in the United States , per capita. The massive increase in wealth has not connected with a meaningful way with average people's lives even in the heart of tech country, let alone in the forgotten corners of the country.

The people who run Silicon Valley identify with progressive values. They're not bad people. They worry about these problems just like we do; they want to help.

So why the failure to do anything?

Like T.S. Eliot wrote :

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow

As I said earlier, the tech industry hates messy problems. We'd rather dream up new problems we can solve from scratch.

One reason nothing happens is a culture of tax evasion. There's a folk belief in American business that if you pay full taxes, you're not doing your fiduciary duty, and your board will fire you.

Apple now has a quarter trillion dollars offshore that it refuses to put into direct productive use in the United States. Apple boasts that its products are designed in California-they will sell you a $300 book called Designed By Apple In California . But they do their damndest to make sure that California never sees a penny of their overseas profits.

You in the EU are all too familiar with this brand of tax evasion. Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft have all been under investigation or in court on charges of evading European taxes.

Another reason good intentions don't translate is that capitalism, especially venture capital, doesn't work very well when there is vast wealth inequality.

The richest 20 people in tech control a fortune of half a trillion dollars in personal wealth, more than the GDP of Sweden.

This small subculture of wealthy technophiles promotes investment into luxury goods for rich people, or into "mom as a service" types of companies that cater to spoiled workaholics in the tech industry. And so we end up with things like a $120M juice squeezer , or three startups competing to deliver organic baby food .

Silicon Valley brings us the worst of two economic systems: the inefficiency of a command economy coupled with the remorselessness of laissez-faire liberalism.

One reason it's been difficult to organize workers in the tech industry is that people have a hard time separating good intentions from results. But we have to be cold-blooded about this.

Tech companies are run by a feckless leadership accountable to no one, creating a toolkit for authoritarianism while hypnotized by science-fiction fantasy.

There are two things we have to do immediately. The first is to stop the accelerating process of tracking and surveillance before it can do any more harm to our institutions.

The danger facing us is not Orwell, but Huxley. The combo of data collection and machine learning is too good at catering to human nature, seducing us and appealing to our worst instincts. We have to put controls on it. The algorithms are amoral; to make them behave morally will require active intervention.

The second thing we need is accountability. I don't mean that I want Mark Zuckerberg's head on a pike, though I certainly wouldn't throw it out of my hotel room if I found it there. I mean some mechanism for people whose lives are being brought online to have a say in that process, and an honest debate about its tradeoffs.

I'm here today because I believe the best chance to do this is in Europe. The American government is not functional right now, and the process of regulatory capture is too far gone to expect any regulations limiting the tech giants from either party. American tech workers have the power to change things, but not the desire.

Only Europe has the clout and the independence to regulate these companies. You can already point to regulatory successes, like forcing Facebook to implement hard delete on user accounts. That feature was added with a lot of grumbling, but because of the way Facebook organizes its data, they had to make it work the same for all users. So a European regulation led to a victory for privacy worldwide.

We can do this again.

Here are some specific regulations I would like to see the EU impose:

    A strict 30 day time limit on storing behavioral data. The right to opt out of data collection while continuing to use services. A ban on the sale or transfer of behavioral data, including to third-party ad networks. A requirement that advertising be targeted strictly to content, not users.

With these rules in place, we would still have Google and Facebook, and they would still make a little bit of money. But we would gain some breathing room. These reforms would knock the legs out from underground political ad campaigns like we saw in Brexit, and in voter suppression efforts in the US election. They would give publishers relief in an advertising market that is currently siphoning all their earnings to Facebook and Google. And they would remove some of the incentive for consumer surveillance.

The other thing I hope to see in Europe is a unionized workforce at every major tech company. Unionized workers could demand features like ephemeral group messaging at Facebook, a travel mode for social media, a truly secure Android phone, or the re-imposition of the wall between Gmail and DoubleClick data. They could demand human oversight over machine learning algorithms. They could demand non-cooperation with Trump.

And I will say selfishly, if you can unionize here, it will help us unionize over there.

If nothing else, we need your help and we need you to keep the pressure on the tech companies, the Trump Administration, and your own politicians and journalists, so that the disaster that happened in the United States doesn't repeat itself in Germany.

You have elections coming soon. Please learn from what happened to us. Please stay safe.

And please regulate, regulate, regulate this industry, while you can.

Thank you.

DJG , May 19, 2017 at 10:20 am

Definitely worth reading and reading again. What popped on first reading is the description of the rise of income in Poland and the stagnation of income in the U S of A. What pops for me on seccond reading is these paragraphs about tax evasion and income inequality: >>

One reason nothing happens is a culture of tax evasion. There's a folk belief in American business that if you pay full taxes, you're not doing your fiduciary duty, and your board will fire you.

Apple now has a quarter trillion dollars offshore that it refuses to put into direct productive use in the United States. Apple boasts that its products are designed in California-they will sell you a $300 book called Designed By Apple In California. But they do their damndest to make sure that California never sees a penny of their overseas profits.

You in the EU are all too familiar with this brand of tax evasion. Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft have all been under investigation or in court on charges of evading European taxes.

Another reason good intentions don't translate is that capitalism, especially venture capital, doesn't work very well when there is vast wealth inequality.

[Tax evasion isn't just a folk belief: It is taught in U.S. law schools and in business schools, along with union busting.]

Jef , May 19, 2017 at 10:52 am

What the author inadvertently points out is that capitalism, particularly the so called consumer capitalism that we have is like a board game;

It has a begining when anything is possible.
A middle when a broad spectrum of players prosper and there is extra money for infrastructure and public amenities.
Then an end where wealth is increasingly concentrated in fewer and fewer hands and the waste stream has taken its toll.

justanotherprogressive , May 19, 2017 at 10:23 am

A long but brilliant article that everyone should take the time to read! I want all the techies in my family to read it because it points out some of the uneasiness even techies feel about the their industry.

My favorite paragraph (although there were many close seconds):

"But real problems are messy. Tech culture prefers to solve harder, more abstract problems that haven't been sullied by contact with reality. So they worry about how to give Mars an earth-like climate, rather than how to give Earth an earth-like climate. They debate how to make a morally benevolent God-like AI, rather than figuring out how to put ethical guard rails around the more pedestrian AI they are introducing into every area of people's lives."
Yep .

Thomas Williams , May 19, 2017 at 11:04 am

Nice piece: Two things to note

– The Clintons, Bush & Obama presided over this mess and aided in it's creation but the albatross of abuse is being hung on Trump.

– He shares an enormous egotistical blind spot common to tech workers. He wants unionization and strength for tech workers but seems to advocate for a globalized work force. More than anything else, foreign workers are responsible for wage suppression in the US. Is he saying 'Tech workers are special and should be pampered but others should work for $1.85 per day"?

– The above points are not germaine to his central theme, which is important and well written. But it does raise questions about his values.

Jacobite_In_Training , May 19, 2017 at 11:11 am

" Boycotts won't work, since opting out of a site like Google means opting out of much of modern life ."

Good .Opt out of modern life. Now. Get as far away from it as you possibly can. You'll be the better person for it. There was a time I felt 'modern life' was the place to be .Now the older me realizes 'modern life' is a sham, an illusion, and a trap.

A very cleverly designed trap, and one in which the cattle to be slaughtered all believe they are choosing their own destiny even as they are herded inexorably closer to the slaughterhouse.

Amusingly, although my younger naive and idealistic self had a significant part to play in the great tech revolutions and evolutions through the 90's and early 2000's (for which I will be eternally regretful and ashamed, given how the creations we labored on have been whored out by the pimps in the oligarchy and government) I was also incredibly lucky to have grown up on a farm and learned how to use a hoe, a hand powered washing machine, how to gather eggs and grow things.

Real things, things that can feed people. But more importantly .how to grow things like spirit and independence that do not rely on any flow of electrons to come to glorious fruition.

I also so much better understand what that prophet Edward Abbey was trying to warn us about all those decades ago .

" Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell "

Tom , May 19, 2017 at 11:27 am

Indeed. The promise of technology has devolved into Clickbait Nation - where millions mindlessly click on endless deceptive headlines like rats pushing levers in a giant Skinner box.

[May 19, 2017] I encourage at least skim some of these documents to get a better understanding of the kinds of sickening things perpetrated by the intel community in the past and then ask yourself if the veil of secrecy that surrounds them is to keep secrets from the enemy or to keep the American public from vomiting.

Notable quotes:
"... I found it an odd mix of straight-talk and naivete. The NSA can't spy on Americans without a warrant? Go ahead, pull the other one. ..."
"... This caught my eye earlier. Had to come back to it. Especially after reading Mike Whitney's latest http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/05/19/seth-rich-craig-murray-and-the-sinister-stewards-of-the-national-security-state/ . In it, he details how seriously Clapper, Brennan et al. take those "laws and procedures." ..."
"... Taking a recent and relevant example, remember the ICA, the "Intelligence Community Assessment"? Whitney quotes a Fox news article detailing the many ways in which it's production varied sharply from normal procedures. And of course there was all that "stove-piping" of "intel" that helped make the bogus case for the 2003 war of aggression against Iraq ..."
"... Glad you liked it. Lily Tomlin applies: "No matter how cynical you get, it's impossible to keep up." ..."
"... Excellent post, except for the bit, as some other readers have commented, about American intelligence agencies being law abiding. Europe, and much of the world, crumbled without resistance in the face of the tech juggernauts because of the PR fetishization of anything that came out of silicon valley. ..."
May 19, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Huey Long , May 19, 2017 at 12:00 pm

This piece is absolutely fantastic! Not to nit pick, but I do disagree with the author about the following passage:

Even if you think our intelligence agencies are evil, they're a lawful evil. They have to follow laws and procedures, and the people in those agencies take them seriously.

But there are no such protections for non-Americans outside the United States. The NSA would have to go to court to spy on me; they can spy on you anytime they feel like it.

We know from the Church and Pike committees that this is patently false, and I highly doubt that this has changed much since then, especially in light of Iran-Contra and the made-up intel used to justify the Iraq invasion.

I know I probably sound like a broken record as I often cite the Church and Pike reports in my NC comments, but they're just so little known and so important that I feel compelled to do so.

I encourage the entire commenteriat to at least skim some of these documents to get a better understanding of the kinds of sickening things perpetrated by the intel community in the past and then ask yourself if the veil of secrecy that surrounds them is to keep secrets from the enemy or to keep the American public from vomiting.

diptherio , May 19, 2017 at 12:05 pm

I found it an odd mix of straight-talk and naivete. The NSA can't spy on Americans without a warrant? Go ahead, pull the other one. Talking about the "collapse of representative government" as if we've ever had one. All very cute, and very silly.

His suggestions for putting the brakes on are good, but insufficient. My ideas as to how to go about, "connecting the tech industry to reality. Bringing its benefits to more people, and bringing the power to make decisions to more people," is here:

http://threadingthepearls.blogspot.com/2014/11/youre-doing-it-wrong-politics-as-if.html

Imagine a political party with no national platform-a party where local rank-and-file members select candidates from among themselves, and dictate the policies those candidates will support. [2] Imagine a political party whose candidates are transparent; one that guarantees every member an equal voice in shaping the actual policy proposals-and the votes-of their representatives. Imagine a political party whose focus is on empowering the rank-and-file members, instead of the charismatic con-artists we call politicians. Imagine a political party that runs on direct democracy, from bottom to top: open, transparent and accountable . we'll need an app maybe two

The app already exists, actually, and it's called Loomio. Podemos uses it, along with a lot of other people:

https://www.loomio.org/

JustAnObserver , May 19, 2017 at 12:44 pm

I had the same reaction to that passage, at least initially. However what I think the author might mean by this is that to have the means to combat this evil 2 things are necessary:

o Laws and/or procedures that place limitations on the actions of these agencies – NSA, CIA, DHS etc.

o and, much much more important, the means to ensure those laws/procedures are *enforced* as to both statute and intent.

USians have at least the first part even if the second, enforcement, has rotted to the extent of being no more than a cruel joke. non-USian have neither.

Note that the lack of enforcement thing extends far beyond the IC agencies into anti-trust, environmental regulation, Sarbanes-Oxley, etc. etc.. Even the ludicrous botch called Dodd-Frank could work marginally better if there was some attempt to actually enforce it.

Wisdom Seeker , May 19, 2017 at 1:03 pm

"Dodd-Frank could work marginally better if there was some attempt to actually enforce it."

Unenforceable and unenforced laws are a feature, not a bug, and demonstrate the corruption of the system.

Bugs Bunny , May 19, 2017 at 2:14 pm

The USSR had laws guaranteeing freedom of expression.

Michael Fiorillo , May 19, 2017 at 5:35 pm

It's a fine and entertaining piece, but flawed.

That bit about tech workers defying management to protest Trump's travel ban seems demonstrably untrue, as the companies want that human capital pipeline kept open, and they can simultaneously wrap themselves in muliti-cultural virtue as they defend their employment practices.

Also, and I know people here will disagree or think it irrelevant, but the "They're not bad people," thing is wrong; I think people such as Thiel, Kalanick, Zuckerberg, Ellison, add-your-own-candidates, seem like pretty awful people doing a lot of awful things, whatever their brilliance, business acumen, and relentlessness.

Finally, while as a union guy I was pleased to see the importance he gave it, the idea of tech workers unionizing in this country seems like social science fiction, whatever their European counterparts might hopefully do.

TheCatSaid , May 19, 2017 at 3:18 pm

I, too, stumbled / choked when I read those paragraphs. They are provably false in so many dimensions I hardly know where to begin. It made it hard to read past.

I will try again because so many commenters are so positive. But the author's credibility sinks when a piece starts with such blindness or misinformation or pandering.

PhilM , May 19, 2017 at 3:41 pm

On the one hand, it's probably some pandering, because he knows he is being watched. We all throw that same bone once in a while. From Vergil, it is called "a sop to Cerberus." On the other hand, he is correct, too: it is a "lawful evil" because it functions using tax money, which is money extorted by force with the sanction of law, rather than "chaotic evil," which is money extorted by force or fraud without that sanction. So in that positive-law-philosophy way of thinking, he has a point, even if it's a pandering point.

knowbuddhau , May 19, 2017 at 12:16 pm

>>>"They have to follow laws and procedures, and the people in those agencies take them seriously."

This caught my eye earlier. Had to come back to it. Especially after reading Mike Whitney's latest http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/05/19/seth-rich-craig-murray-and-the-sinister-stewards-of-the-national-security-state/ . In it, he details how seriously Clapper, Brennan et al. take those "laws and procedures."

Taking a recent and relevant example, remember the ICA, the "Intelligence Community Assessment"? Whitney quotes a Fox news article detailing the many ways in which it's production varied sharply from normal procedures. And of course there was all that "stove-piping" of "intel" that helped make the bogus case for the 2003 war of aggression against Iraq .

I appreciate the author's point: it would be harder to surveil a particular American than a European. I'm sure rank & file people by & large respect law and procedure. But don't worry, if there's a political will to get you, there's a way. Ask Chelsea Manning.

Whitney concludes by quoting an especially apt question posed by Michael Glennon in the May issue of Harper's: "Who would trust the authors of past episodes of repression as a reliable safeguard against future repression?"

People who think they're immune to said repression, for one. Or who don't know or believe it happened/is happening at all. IOW political elites and most Americans, that's who. I think there's a good chance the soft coup will work, and most Americans would even accept a President-General.

So while I see the author's point, I see it this way. They take laws and procedures seriously like I take traffic laws seriously. Only their solution is to corrupt law enforcement, not follow the law.

"Stop throwing the Constitution in my face, it's just a goddamned piece of paper!" - President George W. Bush

Silicon Valley elites apparently think the same.

TheCatSaid , May 19, 2017 at 3:25 pm

Mike Whitney's article you linked to was interesting. George Webb's ongoing YouTube series is going further still, as he is uncovering numerous anomalies with Seth Rich's death and the circumstances and "investigation". It turns out that nothing in this story is what it seems (the "school play" scenario).

Disturbingly, there are similarities and patterns that connect up with numerous other patterns discussed earlier in this 208-day (so far) odyssey, which started with looking at irregularities around oil pipelines and drugs shipments, and ended up including numerous additional criminal enterprises, all with direct links to high-up government staff and political staff from both major parties, with links among key participants going back over decades in some cases.

To return to your observation–knowing what I know now–personal as well as second-hand, I don't think it's harder to surveil an american than a european. The compromises of law enforcement, justice and intelligence and rogue contractors have no international boundaries. The way the compromises are done vary depending on local methods, and the degree of public awareness may vary, but the actuality and ease–no different overall.

knowbuddhau , May 19, 2017 at 3:36 pm

Glad you liked it. Lily Tomlin applies: "No matter how cynical you get, it's impossible to keep up."

TheCatSaid , May 19, 2017 at 4:31 pm

That says it all. The rabbit holes are many and deep. As a society we are in for many rude awakenings. I don't expect soft landings.

mwbworld , May 19, 2017 at 12:22 pm

Lots of great stuff in here, but I'll raise a slight objection to:

three or four people who use Linux on the desktop, all of whom are probably at this conference.

We're now up to easily 5 or 6 thank you very much, and I wasn't at the conference. ;-)

MoiAussie , May 19, 2017 at 12:30 pm

Make that 7.

HotFlash , May 19, 2017 at 1:05 pm

Eight, nine and ten in this household. I don't use any Google-stuff and have hard-deleted my Facebook account. At least they told me had, I should ask a friend to check to see if I am still there ;)

voislav , May 19, 2017 at 1:23 pm

But we all know that a Linux user is worth only 3/5 of a regular user, so we are back to 6. Writing this from a 2003 vintage Pentium 4 machine running Linux Mint 17.

knowbuddhau , May 19, 2017 at 3:40 pm

8. Built this thing myself 5 years ago. It's a quad core on an MSI mobo. Or maybe I only count as a half, since it's a dual boot with Linux Mint 17.3/Win7 Pro.

Disturbed Voter , May 19, 2017 at 12:54 pm

A history lesson. The PC brought freedom from the IT department, until networking enslaved us again. The freedom was temporary, we were originally supposed to be serfs of a timeshare system connected to a mainframe. France was ahead of the US in that, they had MiniTel. But like everything French is was efficient but static. In Europe, like in the US, the PC initially liberated, and then with networking, enslaved. Arpanet was the predecessor of the Internet it was a Cold War system of survivable networking, for some people. The invention of HTTP and the browser at CERN democratized the Arpanet. But it also greatly enabled State-sponsored snooping.

We are now moving to cloud storage and Chrome-books which will restore the original vision of a timeshare system connected to a mainframe, but at a higher technical standard. What was envisioned in 1968 will be achieved, but later than planned, and in a round about way. We are not the polity we used to be. In 1968 this would have been viewed by the public with suspicion. But after 50 years later the public will view this as progress.

Huey Long , May 19, 2017 at 1:22 pm

In 1968 this would have been viewed by the public with suspicion. But after 50 years later the public will view this as progress.

50 years of being force fed Bernays Sauce will tend to do that to a people :-(.

LT , May 19, 2017 at 2:50 pm

One thing just as dangerous and limiting as the idealized past of the conservative mindset is the idealized sense of progress of the the liberal mindset.

MyLessThanPrimeBeef , May 19, 2017 at 2:15 pm

You have 'a little learning is a dangerous thing.'

Then you have the Andromeda Strain that is toxic within a small PH range.

That is to say, nothing is inherently good or bad. It depends on when, where, what and how much.

And so the PC brought freedom and now it doesn't.

I suspect likewise with left-wing ideas and right-wing ideas. "How much of it? When?"

duck1 , May 19, 2017 at 1:09 pm

SV tech owners (think about) . . . the cool toys they'll spend profits on . . . run by chuckle heads . . . identify with progressive values . . . they want to help . . . run by a feckless leadership accountable to no one . . .
Can't send them to Mars quick enough, I say.

Oregoncharles , May 19, 2017 at 1:13 pm

." Even if you think our intelligence agencies are evil, they're a lawful evil. They have to follow laws and procedures, and the people in those agencies take them seriously."

This is standup comedy?

Huey Long , May 19, 2017 at 1:24 pm

This is standup comedy?

To the NCer, yes.

To the general public who have swallowed what I like to call the "Jack Ryan Narrative" of how things are at the CIA, no.

duck1 , May 19, 2017 at 1:47 pm

The real kneeslapper was. . . American government (also) run by chuckle heads . . . what happens when these two groups . . . join forces?
Knock me over with a feather, let us know when that happens. How many Friedman units will we have to wait?

Oregoncharles , May 19, 2017 at 1:19 pm

"And outside of Russia and China, Google is the world's search engine."

How can this be? I don't use it except very rarely; my wife does, but complains about it bitterly, and so do people here at NC, presumably tech-savvy. My wife is using it out of pure habit; what about the rest of them?

Phemfrog , May 19, 2017 at 2:53 pm

I literally don't know anyone who doesn't use it.

Oregoncharles , May 19, 2017 at 1:28 pm

"Given this scary state of the world, with ecological collapse just over the horizon, and a population sharpening its pitchforks, "
And unfortunately, that's the likeliest solution. (The family blogging "L" on this keyboard doesn't work right, so make some allowances.)

Despite my nitpicks above, this is a very important speech and a frightening issue. In particular, I've long been concerned that so much organizing depends on giant corporations like Faceborg and Twitter. They have no reason to be our friends, and some important reasons, like this speech, to be our enemies. Do we have a backup if FB and Google decide to censor the Internet for serious?

Thuto , May 19, 2017 at 1:33 pm

Excellent post, except for the bit, as some other readers have commented, about American intelligence agencies being law abiding. Europe, and much of the world, crumbled without resistance in the face of the tech juggernauts because of the PR fetishization of anything that came out of silicon valley.

The laxity of lawmakers and regulators was partly because of their unwillingness to be seen as standing in the way of "progress". A public drunk on the need to be in with the new, "disruptive" kids on the block who were "changing the world" would have teamed up with the disruptors to run rough shod over any oversight mechanisms proposed by regulators. Hence the silicon valley PR machine always prioritises the general public as the first targets of intellectual capture, because an intellectually captured public loath to give up the benefits and convenience of "progress and disruption" is a powerful weapon in the arsenal of tech giants in their global war against regulation. And the insidious nature of the damage of overreach by these tech giants isn't just limited to online interactions anymore, but the real world is also now experiencing disruption in the true sense of the word with gig economy companies reshaping the dynamics of entire markets and squeezing the most vulnerable members of society to the periphery of said markets, if not pushing them out entirely. In my own city of cape town south africa, a housing crisis is brewing as locals are being squeezed out of the housing market because landlords profit more from airbnb listings than making their properties available for long term rentals. Asset prices are being pushed up as "investors" compete to snap up available inventory to list on airbnb. And city officials seem more interested in celebrating cape town's status as "one of the top airbnb destinations" than actually protecting the interests of their own citizens. Intellectual capture, and the need to be "in with the cool disruptive kids" is infecting even public sector organizations with severe consequences for the public at large, but the public is blind to this as they've binged on the "disruption, changing the world" cool-aid

Bill Smith , May 19, 2017 at 4:15 pm

"PR fetishization of anything that came out of silicon valley"

It had nothing to do with individuals thinking this stuff had value? Cell phones -> iPhone (smartphone) for example.

Thuto , May 19, 2017 at 6:03 pm

While individuals might derive value from "this stuff", the tech companies providing the stuff use said value, allied with massive amounts of PR spin to render regulators impotent in providing safe guards to stop the techies from morphing from value providers into something akin to encroachers for profit/power/control (e.g. encroaching upon our right to privacy by selling off our data). Providing value to the public shouldn't be used as a cloak under which the dagger used to erode our rights is hidden

LT , May 19, 2017 at 1:50 pm

In the links today, there is a Guardian story on Tesla workers with the quote: "Everything feels like the future but us."

I'm reminded of another Guardian article about an ideology underpinning the grievances in Notes From An Emergency. It's imperative to understand the that the system we find ourselves in is a belief system – an ideology – and the choices to be made in regards to challenging it.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/11/accelerationism-how-a-fringe-philosophy-predicted-the-future-we-live-in/
An excerpt:
"Accelerationists argue that technology, particularly computer technology, and capitalism, particularly the most aggressive, global variety, should be massively sped up and intensified – either because this is the best way forward for humanity, or because there is no alternative. Accelerationists favour automation. They favour the further merging of the digital and the human. They often favour the deregulation of business, and drastically scaled-back government. They believe that people should stop deluding themselves that economic and technological progress can be controlled. They often believe that social and political upheaval has a value in itself.

Accelerationism, therefore, goes against conservatism, traditional socialism, social democracy, environmentalism, protectionism, populism, nationalism, localism and all the other ideologies that have sought to moderate or reverse the already hugely disruptive, seemingly runaway pace of change in the modern world "

Be sure to catch such quotes as this:
"We all live in an operating system set up by the accelerating triad of war, capitalism and emergent AI," says Steve Goodman, a British accelerationist

That should remind one of this:
"Musk is persuaded that we're living in a simulation, and he or a fellow true believer has hired programmers to try to hack it ."

Oregoncharles , May 19, 2017 at 1:58 pm

"Boycotts won't work, since opting out of a site like Google means opting out of much of modern life."

I wish he wouldn't keep dropping into openly delusional statements like that. Granted, i use Google News, but there are alternatives.

jrs , May 19, 2017 at 6:11 pm

Yes I know, it's ridiculous. And we use them to "protect" us he claims. But about the only place where "protect" makes any sense in his whole argument is actually Amazon. It is pretty safe to buy from Amazon (or using Amazon-pay) if you fear a credit card being hacked from on online purchase. That much has some truth.

But how does using Facebook protect anyone? How does Google protect anyone? Ok Android security is a different debate, but I really don't understand how issues of "security" etc. applies to using a Google search as opposed to any other.

LT , May 19, 2017 at 2:12 pm

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/11/accelerationism-how-a-fringe-philosophy-predicted-the-future-we-live-in

A long read, but gives some background on the "disruptors" a rebrand of "accelerationism."

(I thought I had accidently removed the link in the previous post)

begob , May 19, 2017 at 2:15 pm

The right wing in Britain seems to have come up with an authoritarian solution: "Theresa May is planning to introduce huge regulations on the way the internet works, allowing the government to decide what is said online."

https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/theresa-may-internet-conservatives-government-a7744176.html

David, by the lake , May 19, 2017 at 2:52 pm

Lost me right at the opening by bringing up the popular vote and the bemoaning of a "broken" system. We are a federal republic of states and I'd prefer to keep it that way. Ensuring that the executive has the support of the populations of some minimal number of states is a good thing in my view.

craazyman , May 19, 2017 at 7:39 pm

so much to read. so little time.

that's when I bailed too. What drek. If a reader has half a mind, they slip and fall on a greasy doo doo in the first 15 seconds? No way can I stand to wade through the rest of what seems like a tortured screed (although I did speed read it). Turns out, I may agree in a minor way with some points, but I'll never know. I have time to waste in the real world, and I can't waste it if I'm reading somebody's internet screed about Donald Trump. God Good almighty. Enough.

Authors watch your words. They matter! LOL. And always remember - sometimes less is more. Not NC's finest post evah. And post author's shouldn't refer to people's heads on pikes in their hotel room as being something they wouldn't object to. I mean really. That's not even junior high school humor. I give this post a 2.3 on a scale of 1-10. 1 is unbearable. 3 is readable. 10 is genius.

PKMKII , May 19, 2017 at 3:12 pm

The people who run Silicon Valley identify with progressive values

Nope. There are some true progressives in the industry, yes, but they're few and far between. Understanding the dominant mindset in Silicon Valley is vital to understanding why there hasn't been pushback on all this. Sure, they like their neoliberal IdPol as it appeals to their meritocracy worship (hence the protests against the travel ban), but not with any intersectionality, especially with regards to women (the red pill/MRA mind virus infects a lot of brains in SV). Socio-economics, though, it's heavy on the libertarianism, albeit with some support for utopian government concepts like UBI, plus a futurist outlook out of that Rationality cult; Yudkowsky and his LessWrong nonsense have influence over a lot of players, big and small, in the bay area. So what you get is a bunch of people deluded into thinking they're hyperlogical while giving themselves a free pass on the begged question of where their "first principles" emerged out of. It's not just their sci-fi bubble that needs a poppin', it's their Rothbardian/Randite one as well.

Sue , May 19, 2017 at 3:27 pm

+1,000
"The people who run Silicon Valley identify with progressive values"
True! I've seen some smoking weed while talking machine language and screwing half of humanity

Michael Fiorillo , May 19, 2017 at 5:49 pm

Better still, they micro-dose on psychedelics while coding our binary chains: how cool is that!

TheCatSaid , May 19, 2017 at 3:38 pm

The points you raise are accurate. And even long before those things existed, Silicon Valley arose as conscious, deliberate high-level government strategy (or beyond-government deep state).

The sources of new technology and funding have been deliberately obscured, at least as far as the general public debate goes. It has nothing to do with "innovation" and "entrepreneurship". It is amazing to see all countries around the world hop onto the innovation, let's-imitate-Silicon-Valley bandwagon, with no awareness that SV was no accident of a few smart/lucky individual entrepreneurs.

jfleni , May 19, 2017 at 4:12 pm

NOBODY has to join buttBook, review slimy effing GIGGLE, and especially use MICROSWIFT; ALTERNATIVES are easy and often more effective and especially annoying to the rich slime.

When Balmer was Billy-Boy's Ceo he actually preached that Linux was a nefarious plot to deprive clowns like him of their well deserved "emoluments". Fortuneately, all he has to do now is sell beer and hot dogs, and make sure the cheerleaders keep their clothing on. Good job for him.

Decide NOT to be a lemming; instead be a BOLSHIE and hit 'em hard. YOU and the whole internet will benefit.

ginnie nyc , May 19, 2017 at 5:36 pm

I think some of the naivete of this talk is based on a superficial knowledge of American history. Things like his remark about the Women's DC March – "America is not used to large demonstrations " Oh really.

The writer, though intelligent, is apparently unaware of massive demos during the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights movement, the anti-Iraq war marches, the Bonus March etc etc. Perhaps his ignorance is a function of age, and perhaps the fact he was not born here, vis a vis his name.

different clue , May 19, 2017 at 7:27 pm

I will reply to an almost tangential little something which Maciej Ceglowski wrote near the beginning of his piece.

" 65.8 million for Clinton
63.0 million for Trump

This was the second time in sixteen years that the candidate with fewer votes won the American Presidency. There is a bug in the operating system of our democracy, one of the many ways that slavery still casts its shadow over American politics."

Really? A bug in the operating system of our democracy? That sounds like something a Clintonite would say. It sounds like something that many millions of Clintonites DID say, over and over and over again.

Clinton got more popular votes? She got almost all of them in California. So Mr. Ceglowski thinks Clinton should be President based on that? That means Mr. Ceglowski wants the entire rest of America to be California's colonial possession, ruled by a President that California picked. And don't think we Midwestern Deplorables don't understand exACTly how Ceglowski thinks and what Ceglowski thinks of us out here in Deploristan.

Some Clinton supporters are smarter than that. Some were not surprised. Michael Moore was not surprised. He predicted that we Deploristani Midwesterners would make Trump President whether the digitally beautiful people liked it or not. Did Mr. Ceglowski support Clinton? Did the "tech workers in short-lived revolt" support Clinton? And did they support NAFTA back in the day? You thought you would cram Trade Treason Clinton down our throat? Well, we flung Trade Patriot Trump right back in your face.

[May 16, 2017] Mark Ames: The FBI Has No Legal Charter But Lots of Kompromat

Notable quotes:
"... Today, it seems, the best description of the FBI's main activity is corporate enforcer for the white-collar mafia known as Wall Street. There is an analogy to organized crime, where the most powerful mobsters settled disputes between other gangs of criminals. Similarly, if a criminal gang is robbed by one of its own members, the mafia would go after the guilty party; the FBI plays this role for Wall Street institutions targeted by con artists and fraudsters. Compare and contrast a pharmaceutical company making opiates which is targeted by thieves vs. a black market drug cartel targeted by thieves. In one case, the FBI investigates; in the other, a violent vendetta ensues (such as street murders in Mexico). ..."
"... The FBI executives are rewarded for this service with lucrative post-retirement careers within corporate America – Louis Freeh went to credit card fraudster, MBNA, Richard Mueller to a corporate Washington law firm, WilmerHale, and Comey, before Obama picked him as Director, worked for Lockheed Martin and HSBC (cleaning up after their $2 billion drug cartel marketing scandal) after leaving the FBI in 2005. ..."
"... Some say they have a key role to play in national security and terrorism – but their record on the 2001 anthrax attacks is incredibly shady and suspicious. The final suspect, Bruce Ivins, is clearly innocent of the crime, just as their previous suspect, Steven Hatfill was. Ivins, if still alive, could have won a similar multi-million dollar defamation lawsuit against the FBI. All honest bioweapons experts know this to be true – the perpetrators of those anthrax letters are still at large, and may very well have had close associations with the Bush Administration itself. ..."
"... Comey's actions over the past year are certainly highly questionable, as well. Neglecting to investigate the Clinton Foundation ties to Saudi Arabia and other foreign governments and corporations, particularly things like State Department approval of various arms deals in which bribes may have been paid, is as much a dereliction of duty as neglecting to investigate Trump ties to Russian business interests – but then, Trump has a record of shady business dealings dating back to the 1970s, of strange bankruptcies and bailouts and government sales that the FBI never looked at either. ..."
May 16, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

By Mark Ames, founding editor of the Moscow satirical paper The eXile and co-host of the Radio War Nerd podcast with Gary Brecher (aka John Dolan). Subscribe here . Originally published at The Exiled

I made the mistake of listening to NPR last week to find out what Conventional Wisdom had to say about Trump firing Comey, on the assumption that their standardized Mister-Rogers-on-Nyquil voice tones would rein in the hysteria pitch a little. And on the surface, it did-the NPR host and guests weren't directly shrieking "the world is ending! We're all gonna die SHEEPLE!" the way they were on CNN. But in a sense they were screaming "fire!", if you know how to distinguish the very minute pitch level differences in the standard NPR Nyquil voice.

The host of the daytime NPR program asked his guests how serious, and how "unprecedented" Trump's decision to fire his FBI chief was. The guests answers were strange: they spoke about "rule of law" and "violating the Constitution" but then switched to Trump "violating norms"-and back again, interchanging "norms" and "laws" as if they're synonyms. One of the guests admitted that Trump firing Comey was 100% legal, but that didn't seem to matter in this talk about Trump having abandoned rule-of-law for a Putinist dictatorship. These guys wouldn't pass a high school civics class, but there they were, garbling it all up. What mattered was the proper sense of panic and outrage-I'm not sure anyone really cared about the actual legality of the thing, or the legal, political or "normative" history of the FBI.

For starters, the FBI hardly belongs in the same set with concepts like "constitutional" or " rule of law." That's because the FBI was never established by a law. US Lawmakers refused to approve an FBI bureau over a century ago when it was first proposed by Teddy Roosevelt. So he ignored Congress, and went ahead and set it up by presidential fiat. That's one thing the civil liberties crowd hates discussing - how centralized US political power is in the executive branch, a feature in the constitutional system put there by the holy Founders.

In the late 1970s, at the tail end of our brief Glasnost, there was a lot of talk in Washington about finally creating a legal charter for the FBI -70 years after its founding. A lot of serious ink was spilled trying to transform the FBI from an extralegal secret police agency to something legal and defined. If you want to play archeologist to America's recent history, you can find this in the New York Times' archives, articles with headlines like "Draft of Charter for F.B.I. Limits Inquiry Methods" :

The Carter Administration will soon send to Congress the first governing charter for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The proposed charter imposes extensive but not absolute restrictions on the bureau's employment of controversial investigative techniques, .including the use of informers, undercover agents and covert criminal activity.

The charter also specifies the duties and powers of the bureau, setting precise standards and procedures for the initiation ,and conduct of investigations. It specifically requires the F.B.I. to observe constitutional rights and establishes safeguards against unchecked harassment, break‐ins and other abuses.

followed by the inevitable lament, like this editorial from the Christian Science Monitor a year later, "Don't Forget the FBI Charter". Which of course we did forget-that was Reagan's purpose and value for the post-Glasnost reaction: forgetting. As historian Athan Theoharis wrote , "After 1981, Congress never seriously considered again any of the FBI charter proposals."

The origins of the FBI have been obscured both because of its dubious legality and because of its original political purpose-to help the president battle the all-powerful American capitalists. It wasn't that Teddy Roosevelt was a radical leftist-he was a Progressive Republican, which sounds like an oxymoron today but which was mainstream and ascendant politics in his time. Roosevelt was probably the first president since Andrew Jackson to try to smash concentrated wealth-power, or at least some of it. He could be brutally anti-labor, but so were the powerful capitalists he fought, and all the structures of government power. He met little opposition pursuing his imperial Social Darwinist ambitions outside America's borders-but he had a much harder time fighting the powerful capitalists at home against Roosevelt's most honorable political obsession: preserving forests, parks and public lands from greedy capitalists. An early FBI memo to Hoover about the FBI's origins explains,

"Roosevelt, in his characteristic dynamic fashion, asserted that the plunderers of the public domain would be prosecuted and brought to justice."

According to New York Times reporter Tim Wiener's Enemies: A History of the FBI , it was the Oregon land fraud scandal of 1905-6 that put the idea of an FBI in TR's hyperactive mind. The scandal involved leading Oregon politicians helping railroad tycoon Edward Harriman illegally sell off pristine Oregon forest lands to timber interests, and it ended with an Oregon senator and the state's only two House representatives criminally charged and put on trial-along with dozens of other Oregonians. Basically, they were raping the state's public lands and forests like colonists stripping a foreign country-and that stuck in TR's craw.

TR wanted his attorney general-Charles Bonaparte (yes, he really was a descendant of that Bonaparte)-to make a full report to on the rampant land fraud scams that the robber barons were running to despoil the American West, and which threatened TR's vision of land and forest conservation and parks. Bonaparte created an investigative team from the US Secret Service, but TR thought their report was a "whitewash" and proposed a new separate federal investigative service within Bonaparte's Department of Justice that would report only to the Attorney General.

Until then, the US government had to rely on private contractors like the notorious, dreaded Pinkerton Agency, who were great at strikebreaking, clubbing workers and shooting organizers, but not so good at taking down down robber barons, who happened to also be important clients for the private detective agencies.

In early 1908, Attorney General Bonaparte wrote to Congress asking for the legal authority (and budget funds) to create a "permanent detective force" under the DOJ. Congress rebelled, denouncing it as a plan to create an American okhrana . Democrat Joseph Sherley wrote that "spying on men and prying into what would ordinarily be considered their private affairs" went against "American ideas of government"; Rep. George Waldo, a New York Republican, said the proposed FBI was a "great blow to freedom and to free institutions if there should arise in this country any such great central secret-service bureau as there is in Russia."

So Congress's response was the opposite, banning Bonaparte's DOJ from spending any funds at all on a proposed FBI. Another Congressman wrote another provision into the budget bill banning the DOJ from hiring Secret Service employees for any sort of FBI type agency. So Bonaparte waited until Congress took its summer recess, set aside some DOJ funds, recruited some Secret Service agents, and created a new federal detective bureau with 34 agents. This was how the FBI was born. Congress wasn't notified until the end of 1908, in a few lines in a standard report - "oh yeah, forgot to tell you-the executive branch went ahead and created an American okhrana because, well, the ol' joke about dogs licking their balls. Happy New Year!"

The sordid history of America's extralegal secret police-initially named the Bureau of Investigation, changed to the FBI ("Federal") in the 30's, is mostly a history of xenophobic panic-mongering, illegal domestic spying, mass roundups and plans for mass-roundups, false entrapment schemes, and planting what Russians call "kompromat"- compromising information about a target's sex life-to blackmail or destroy American political figures that the FBI didn't like.

The first political victim of J Edgar Hoover's kompromat was Louis Post, the assistant secretary of labor under Woodrow Wilson. Post's crime was releasing over 1,000 alleged Reds from detention facilities near the end of the FBI's Red Scare crackdown, when they jailed and deported untold thousands on suspicion of being Communists. The FBI's mass purge began with popular media support in 1919, but by the middle of 1920, some (not the FBI) were starting to get a little queasy. A legal challenge to the FBI's mass purges and exiles in Boston ended with a federal judge denouncing the FBI. After that ruling, assistant secretary Louis Post, a 71-year-old well-meaning progressive, reviewed the cases against the last 1500 detainees that the FBI wanted to deport, and found that there was absolutely nothing on at least 75 percent of the cases. Post's review threatened to undo thousands more FBI persecutions of alleged Moscow-controlled radicals.

So one of the FBI's most ambitious young agents, J Edgar Hoover, collected kompromat on Post and his alleged associations with other alleged Moscow-controlled leftists, and gave the file to the Republican-controlled House of Representatives-which promptly announced it would hold hearings to investigate Post as a left subversive. The House tried to impeach Post, but ultimately he defended himself. Post's lawyer compared his political persecutors to the okhrana (Russia, again!): "We in America have sunk to the level of the government of Russia under the Czarist regime," describing the FBI's smear campaign as "even lower in some of their methods than the old Russian officials."

Under Harding, the FBI had a new chief, William Burns, who made headlines blaming the terror bombing attack on Wall Street of 1920 that killed 34 people on a Kremlin-run conspiracy. The FBI claimed it had a highly reliable inside source who told them that Lenin sent $30,000 to the Soviets' diplomatic mission in New York, which was distributed to four local Communist agents who arranged the Wall Street bombing. The source claimed to have personally spoken with Lenin, who boasted that the bombing was so successful he'd ordered up more.

The only problem was that the FBI's reliable source, a Jewish-Polish petty criminal named Wolf Lindenfeld, turned out to be a bullshitter-nicknamed "Windy Linde"-who thought his fake confession about Lenin funding the bombing campaign would get him out of Poland's jails and set up in a comfortable new life in New York.

By 1923, the FBI had thoroughly destroyed America's communist and radical labor movements-allowing it to focus on its other favorite pastime: spying on and destroying political opponents. The FBI spied on US Senators who supported opening diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union: Idaho's William Borah, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee; Thomas Walsh of the Judiciary Committee, and Burton K Wheeler, the prairie Populist senator from Montana, who visited the Soviet Union and pushed for diplomatic relations. Harding's corrupt Attorney General Dougherty denounced Sen. Wheeler as "the Communist leader in the Senate" and "no more a Democrat than Stalin, his comrade in Moscow." Dougherty accused Sen. Wheeler of being part of a conspiracy "to capture, by deceit and design, as many members of the Senate as possible and to spread through Washington and the cloakrooms of Congress a poison gas as deadly as that which sapped and destroyed brave soldiers in the last war."

Hoover, now a top FBI official, quietly fed kompromat to journalists he cultivated, particularly an AP reporter named Richard Whitney, who published a popular book in 1924, "Reds In America" alleging Kremlin agents "had an all-pervasive influence over American institutions; they had infiltrated every corner of American life." Whitney named Charlie Chaplin as a Kremlin agent, along with Felix Frankfurter and members of the Senate pushing for recognition of the Soviet Union. That killed any hope for diplomatic recognition for the next decade.

Then the first Harding scandals broke-Teapot Dome, Veterans Affairs, bribery at the highest rungs. When Senators Wheeler and Walsh opened bribery investigations, the FBI sent agents to the senators' home state to drum up false bribery charges against Sen. Wheeler. The charges were clearly fake, and a jury dismissed the charges. But Attorney General Dougherty was indicted for fraud and forced to resign, as was his FBI chief Burns-but not Burns' underling Hoover, who stayed in the shadows.

"We want no Gestapo or Secret Police. FBI is tending in that direction. They are dabbling in sex-life scandals and plain blackmail This must stop."

With the Cold War, the FBI became obsessed with homosexuals as America's Fifth Column under Moscow's control. Homosexuals, the FBI believed, were susceptible to Kremlin kompromat-so the FBI collected and disseminated its own kompromat on alleged American homosexuals, supposedly to protect America from the Kremlin. In the early 1950s, Hoover launched the Sex Deviates Program to spy on American homosexuals and purge them from public life. The FBI built up 300,000 pages of files on suspected homosexuals and contacted their employers, local law enforcement and universities to "to drive homosexuals from every institution of government, higher learning, and law enforcement in the nation," according to Tim Weiner's book Enemies. No one but the FBI knows exactly how many Americans' lives and careers were destroyed by the FBI's Sex Deviants Program but Hoover-who never married, lived with his mother until he was 40, and traveled everywhere with his "friend" Clyde Tolson .

In the 1952 election, Hoover was so committed to helping the Republicans and Eisenhower win that he compiled and disseminated a 19-page kompromat file alleging that his Democratic Party rival Adlai Stevenson was gay. The FBI's file on Stevenson was kept in the Sex Deviants Program section-it included libelous gossip, claiming that Stevenson was one of Illinois' "best known homosexuals" who went by the name "Adeline" in gay cruising circles.

In the 1960s, Hoover and his FBI chiefs collected kompromat on the sex lives of JFK and Martin Luther King. Hoover presented some of his kompromat on JFK to Bobby Kennedy, in a concern-trollish way claiming to "warn" him that the president was opening himself up to blackmail. It was really a way for Hoover to let the despised Kennedy brothers know he could destroy them, should they try to Comey him out of his FBI office. Hoover's kompromat on MLK's sex life was a particular obsession of his-he now believed that African-Americans, not homosexuals, posed the greatest threat to become a Kremlin Fifth Column. The FBI wiretapped MLK's private life, collecting tapes of his affairs with other women, which a top FBI official then mailed to Martin Luther King's wife, along with a note urging King to commit suicide.

FBI letter anonymously mailed to Martin Luther King Jr's wife, along with kompromat sex tapes

After JFK was murdered, when Bobby Kennedy ran for the Senate in 1964, he recounted another disturbing FBI/kompromat story that President Johnson shared with him on the campaign trail. LBJ told Bobby about a stack of kompromat files - FBI reports "detailing the sexual debauchery of members of the Senate and House who consorted with prostitutes." LBJ asked RFK if the kompromat should be leaked selectively to destroy Republicans before the 1964 elections. Kennedy recalled,

"He told me he had spent all night sitting up and reading the files of the FBI on all these people. And Lyndon talks about that information and material so freely. Lyndon talks about everybody, you see, with everybody. And of course that's dangerous."

Kennedy had seen some of the same FBI kompromat files as attorney general, but he was totally opposed to releasing such unsubstantiated kompromat-such as, say, the Trump piss files-because doing so would "destroy the confidence that people in the United States had in their government and really make us a laughingstock around the world."

Imagine that.

Which brings me to the big analogy every hack threw around last week, calling Trump firing Comey "Nixonian." Actually, what Trump did was more like the very opposite of Nixon, who badly wanted to fire Hoover in 1971-2, but was too afraid of the kompromat Hoover might've had on him to make the move. Nixon fell out with his old friend and onetime mentor J Edgar Hoover in 1971, when the ailing old FBI chief refused to get sucked in to the Daniel Ellsberg/Pentagon Papers investigation, especially after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the New York Times. Part of the reason Nixon created his Plumbers team of black bag burglars was because Hoover had become a bit skittish in his last year on this planet-and that drove Nixon crazy.

Nixon called his chief of staff Haldeman:

Nixon: I talked to Hoover last night and Hoover is not going after this case [Ellsberg] as strong as I would like. There's something dragging him.

Haldeman: You don't have the feeling the FBI is really pursuing this?

Nixon: Yeah, particularly the conspiracy side. I want to go after everyone. I'm not so interested in Ellsberg, but we have to go after everybody who's a member of this conspiracy.

Hoover's ambitious deputies in the FBI were smelling blood, angling to replace him. His number 3, Bill Sullivan (who sent MLK the sex tapes and suicide note) was especially keen to get rid of Hoover and take his place. So as J Edgar was stonewalling the Daniel Ellsberg investigation, Sullivan showed up in a Department of Justice office with two suitcases packed full of transcripts and summaries of illegal wiretaps that Kissinger and Nixon had ordered on their own staff and on American journalists. The taps were ordered in Nixon's first months in the White House in 1969, to plug up the barrage of leaks, the likes of which no one had ever seen before. Sullivan took the leaks from J Edgar's possession and told the DOJ official that they needed to be hidden from Hoover, who planned to use them as kompromat to blackmail Nixon.

Nixon decided he was going to fire J Edgar the next day. This was in September, 1971. But the next day came, and Nixon got scared. So he tried to convince his attorney general John Mitchell to fire Hoover for him, but Mitchell said only the President could fire J Edgar Hoover. So Nixon met him for breakfast, and, well, he just didn't have the guts. Over breakfast, Hoover flattered Nixon and told him there was nothing more in the world he wanted than to see Nixon re-elected. Nixon caved; the next day, J Edgar Hoover unceremoniously fired his number 3 Bill Sullivan, locking him out of the building and out of his office so that he couldn't take anything with him. Sullivan was done.

The lesson here, I suppose, is that if an FBI director doesn't want to be fired, it's best to keep your kompromat a little closer to your chest, as a gun to hold to your boss's head. Comey's crew already released the piss tapes kompromat on Trump-the damage was done. What was left to hold back Trump from firing Comey? "Laws"? The FBI isn't even legal. "Norms" would be the real reason. Which pretty much sums up everything Trump has been doing so far. We've learned the past two decades that we're hardly a nation of laws, at least not when it comes to the plutocratic ruling class. What does bind them are "norms"-and while those norms may mean everything to the ruling class, it's an open question how much these norms mean to a lot of Americans outside that club.

Huey Long , May 16, 2017 at 2:33 am

Wow, and this whole time I thought the NSA had a kompromat monopoly as they have everybody's porn site search terms and viewing habits on file.

I had no idea the FBI practically invented it!

3.14e-9 , May 16, 2017 at 3:04 am

The Native tribes don't have a great history with the FBI, either.

https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/culture/thing-about-skins/comey-fbi-destructive-history-native-people/

voteforno6 , May 16, 2017 at 6:06 am

Has anyone ever used the FBI's lack of a charter as a defense in court?

Disturbed Voter , May 16, 2017 at 6:42 am

The USA doesn't have a legal basis either, it is a revolting crown colony of the British Empire. Treason and heresy all the way down. Maybe the British need to burn Washington DC again?

Synoia , May 16, 2017 at 9:46 pm

Britain burning DC, and the so call ed "war" of 1812, got no mention in my History Books. Napoleon on the other hand, featured greatly

In 1812 Napoleon was busy going to Russia. That went well.

Ignim Brites , May 16, 2017 at 7:55 am

Wondered how Comey thought he could get away with his conviction and pardon of Sec Clinton. Seems like part of the culture of FBI is a "above and beyond" the law mentality.

Watt4Bob , May 16, 2017 at 7:56 am

Back in the early 1970s a high school friend moved to Alabama because his father was transferred by his employer.

My friend sent a post card describing among other things the fact that Alabama had done away with the requirement of a math class to graduate high school, and substituted a required class called "The Evils of Communism" complete with a text-book written by J. Edgar Hoover; Masters of Deceit.

JMarco , May 16, 2017 at 2:52 pm

In Dallas,Texas my 1959 Civics class had to read the same book. We all were given paperback copies of it to take home and read. It was required reading enacted by Texas legislature.

Watt4Bob , May 16, 2017 at 4:47 pm

So I'd guess you weren't fooled by any of those commie plots of the sixties, like the campaigns for civil rights or against the Vietnamese war.

I can't really brag, I didn't stop worrying about the Red Menace until 1970 or so, that's when I started running into returning vets who mostly had no patience for that stuff.

Carolinian , May 16, 2017 at 8:35 am

We've learned the past two decades that we're hardly a nation of laws, at least not when it comes to the plutocratic ruling class. What does bind them are "norms"

Or as David Broder put it (re Bill Clinton): he came in and trashed the place and it wasn't his place.

It was David Broder's place. Of course the media play a key role with all that kompromat since they are the ones needed to convey it to the public. The tragedy is that even many of the sensible in their ranks such as Bill Moyers have been sucked into the kompromat due to their hysteria over Trump. Ames is surely on point in this great article. The mistake was allowing secret police agencies like the FBI and CIA to be created in the first place.

Katharine , May 16, 2017 at 8:37 am

Sorry, my initial reaction was that people who don't know the difference between "rein" and "reign" are not to be trusted to provide reliable information. Recognizing that as petty, I kept reading, and presently found the statement that Congress was not informed of the founding of the FBI until a century after the fact, which seems implausible. If in fact the author meant the end of 1908 it was quite an achievement to write 2008.

Interesting to the extent it may be true, but with few sources, no footnotes, and little evidence of critical editing who knows what that may be?

Carolinian , May 16, 2017 at 9:12 am

Do you even know who Mark Ames is?

Petty .yes.

Katharine , May 16, 2017 at 10:08 am

Who he is is irrelevant. I don't take things on faith because "the Pope said" or because Mark Ames said. People who expect their information to be taken seriously should substantiate it.

Bill Smith , May 16, 2017 at 12:00 pm

Yeah, in the first sentence

Interesting article though.

Fiery Hunt , May 16, 2017 at 9:21 am

Yeah, Kathatine, you're right .very petty.

And completely missed the point.

Or worse, you got the point and your best rejection of that point was pointing out a typo.

Katharine , May 16, 2017 at 10:13 am

I neither missed the point nor rejected it. I reserved judgment, as I thought was apparent from my comment.

sid_finster , May 16, 2017 at 10:50 am

But Trump is bad. Very Bad.

So anything the FBI does to get rid of him must by definition be ok! Besides, surely our civic-minded IC would never use their power on the Good Guys™!

Right?

JTMcPhee , May 16, 2017 at 9:21 am

Ah yes, the voice of "caution." And such attention to the lack of footnotes, in this day when the curious can so easily cut and paste a bit of salient text into a search engine and pull up a feast of parse-able writings and video, from which they can "judiciously assess" claims and statements. If they care to spend the time, which is in such short supply among those who are struggling to keep up with the horrors and revelations people of good will confront every blinking day

Classic impeachment indeed. All from the height of "academic rigor" and "caution." Especially the "apologetic" bit about "reign" vs "rein." Typos destroy credibility, don't they? And the coup de grass (sic), the unrebuttable "plausibility" claim.

One wonders at the nature of the author's curriculum vitae. One also marvels at the yawning gulf between the Very Serious Stuff I was taught in grade and high school civics and history, back in the late '50s and the '60s, about the Fundamental Nature Of Our Great Nation and its founding fathers and the Beautiful Documents they wrote, on the one hand, and what we mopes learn, through a drip-drip-drip process punctuated occasionally by Major Revelations, about the real nature of the Empire and our fellow creatures

PS: My earliest memory of television viewing was a day at a friend's house - his middle-class parents had the first "set" in the neighborhood, I think an RCA, in a massive sideboard cabinet where the picture tube pointed up and you viewed the "content" in a mirror mounted to the underside of the lid. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=5onSwx7_Cn0 The family was watching a hearing of Joe McCarthy's kangaroo court, complete with announcements of the latest number in the "list of known Communists in the State Department" and how Commyanism was spreading like an unstoppable epidemic mortal disease through the Great US Body Politic and its Heroic Institutions of Democracy. I was maybe 6 years old, but that grainy black and white "reality TV" content had me asking "WTF?" at a very early age. And I'd say it's on the commentor to show that the "2008" claim is wrong, by something other than "implausible" as drive-by impeachment. Given the content of the original post, and what people paying attention to all this stuff have a pretty good idea is the general contours of a vast corruption and manipulation.

"Have you stopped beating your wife? Yes or no."

Katharine , May 16, 2017 at 10:19 am

It is the author's job to substantiate information, not the reader's. If he thinks his work is so important, why does he not make a better job of it?

Edward , May 16, 2017 at 9:22 pm

I think the MLK blackmail scheme is well-established. Much of the article seems to be based on Tim Wiener's "Enemies: A History of the FBI".

nonsense factory , May 16, 2017 at 11:16 am

Interesting article on the history of the FBI, although the post-Hoover era doesn't get any treatment. The Church Committee hearings on the CIA and FBI, after the exposure of notably Operation CHAOS (early 60s to early 70s) by the CIA and COINTELPRO(late 1950s to early 1970s) by the FBI, didn't really get to the bottom of the issue although some reforms were initiated.

Today, it seems, the best description of the FBI's main activity is corporate enforcer for the white-collar mafia known as Wall Street. There is an analogy to organized crime, where the most powerful mobsters settled disputes between other gangs of criminals. Similarly, if a criminal gang is robbed by one of its own members, the mafia would go after the guilty party; the FBI plays this role for Wall Street institutions targeted by con artists and fraudsters. Compare and contrast a pharmaceutical company making opiates which is targeted by thieves vs. a black market drug cartel targeted by thieves. In one case, the FBI investigates; in the other, a violent vendetta ensues (such as street murders in Mexico).

The FBI executives are rewarded for this service with lucrative post-retirement careers within corporate America – Louis Freeh went to credit card fraudster, MBNA, Richard Mueller to a corporate Washington law firm, WilmerHale, and Comey, before Obama picked him as Director, worked for Lockheed Martin and HSBC (cleaning up after their $2 billion drug cartel marketing scandal) after leaving the FBI in 2005.

Maybe this is legitimate, but this only applies to their protection of the interests of large corporations – as the 2008 economic collapse and aftermath showed, they don't prosecute corporate executives who rip off poor people and middle-class homeowners. Banks who rob people, they aren't investigated or prosecuted; that's just for people who rob banks.

When it comes to political issues and national security, however, the FBI has such a terrible record on so many issues over the years that anything they claim has to be taken with a grain or two of salt. Consider domestic political activity: from the McCarthyite 'Red Scare' of the 1950s to COINTELPRO in the 1960s and 1970s to targeting of environmental groups in the 1980s and 1990s to targeting anti-war protesters under GW Bush to their obsession with domestic mass surveillance under Obama, it's not a record that should inspire any confidence.

Some say they have a key role to play in national security and terrorism – but their record on the 2001 anthrax attacks is incredibly shady and suspicious. The final suspect, Bruce Ivins, is clearly innocent of the crime, just as their previous suspect, Steven Hatfill was. Ivins, if still alive, could have won a similar multi-million dollar defamation lawsuit against the FBI. All honest bioweapons experts know this to be true – the perpetrators of those anthrax letters are still at large, and may very well have had close associations with the Bush Administration itself.

As far as terrorist activities? Many of their low-level agents did seem concerned about the Saudis and bin Laden in the late 1990s and pre-9/11 – but Saudi investigations were considered politically problematic due to "geostrategic relationships with our Saudi allies" – hence people like John O'Neil and Coleen Rowley were sidelined and ignored, with disastrous consequences. The Saudi intelligence agency role in 9/11 was buried for over a decade, as well. Since 9/11, most of the FBI investigations seem to have involved recruiting mentally disabled young Islamic men in sting operations in which the FBI provides everything needed. You could probably get any number of mentally ill homeless people across the U.S., regardless of race or religion, to play this role.

Comey's actions over the past year are certainly highly questionable, as well. Neglecting to investigate the Clinton Foundation ties to Saudi Arabia and other foreign governments and corporations, particularly things like State Department approval of various arms deals in which bribes may have been paid, is as much a dereliction of duty as neglecting to investigate Trump ties to Russian business interests – but then, Trump has a record of shady business dealings dating back to the 1970s, of strange bankruptcies and bailouts and government sales that the FBI never looked at either.

Ultimately, this is because FBI executives are paid off not to investigate Wall Street criminality, nor shady U.S. government activity, with lucrative positions as corporate board members and so on after their 'retirements'. I don't doubt that many of their junior members mean well and are dedicated to their jobs – but the fish rots from the head down.

Andrew Watts , May 16, 2017 at 3:58 pm

As far as terrorist activities? Many of their low-level agents did seem concerned about the Saudis and bin Laden in the late 1990s and pre-9/11 – but Saudi investigations were considered politically problematic due to "geostrategic relationships with our Saudi allies" – hence people like John O'Neil and Coleen Rowley were sidelined and ignored, with disastrous consequences.

The Clinton Administration had other priorities. You know, I think I'll let ex-FBI Director Freeh explain what happened when the FBI tried to get the Saudis to cooperate with their investigation into the bombing of the Khobar Towers.

"That September, Crown Prince Abdullah and his entourage took over the entire 143-room Hay-Adams Hotel, just across from Lafayette Park from the White House, for six days. The visit, I figured, was pretty much our last chance. Again, we prepared talking points for the president. Again, I contacted Prince Bandar and asked him to soften up the crown prince for the moment when Clinton, -- or Al Gore I didn't care who -- would raise the matter and start to exert the necessary pressure."

"The story that came back to me, from "usually reliable sources," as they say in Washington, was that Bill Clinton briefly raised the subject only to tell the Crown Prince that he certainly understood the Saudis; reluctance to cooperate. Then, according to my sources, he hit Abdullah up for a contribution to the still-to-be-built Clinton presidential library. Gore, who was supposed to press hardest of all in his meeting with the crown Prince, barely mentioned the matter, I was told." -Louis J. Freeh, My FBI (2005)

In my defense I picked the book up to see if there was any dirt on the DNC's electoral funding scandal in 1996. I'm actually glad I did. The best part of the book is when Freeh recounts running into a veteran of the Lincoln Brigade and listens to how Hoover's FBI ruined his life despite having broken no laws. As if a little thing like laws mattered to Hoover. The commies were after our precious bodily fluids!

verifyfirst , May 16, 2017 at 12:53 pm

I'm not sure there are many functioning norms left within the national political leadership. Seemed to me Gingrich started blowing those up and it just got worse from there. McConnell not allowing Garland to be considered comes to mind

lyman alpha blob , May 16, 2017 at 1:14 pm

Great article – thanks for this. I had no idea the FBI never had a legal charter – very enlightening.

JMarco , May 16, 2017 at 2:59 pm

Thanks to Mark Ames now we know what Pres. Trump meant when he tweeted about his tapes with AG Comey. Not some taped conversation between Pres. Trump & AG Comey but bunch of kompromat tapes that AG Comey has provided Pres. Trump that might not make departing AG Comey looked so clean.

[May 14, 2017] Classified America Why Is the US Public Allowed To Know So Little by Robert Koehler

Notable quotes:
"... And I have yet to hear a mainstream journo challenge or question that word or ask what could be at stake that requires protective secrecy even as the U.S. government seemingly threatens to collapse around Michael Flynn, America's national security advisor for three weeks, and his relationship to Russia. Is there really any there there? ..."
"... I'm not suggesting that there isn't, or that it's all fake news. Trump and pals are undoubtedly entwined financially with Russian oligarchs, which of course is deeply problematic. And maybe there's more. And maybe some of that "more" is arguably classified for a valid reason, but I want, at the very least, to know why it's classified. What I read and hear feels, instead, like collusion: journalists unquestioningly honoring bureaucratic keep-out signs as objective, even sacred, stopping points. Public knowledge must go no further because . . . you know, national security. But the drama continues! ..."
"... And this is troubling to me because, for starters, nations built on secrecy are far more unstable than those that aren't. ..."
"... The United States is engaged in endless war, at unbelievable and never-discussed cost, to no end except destruction in all directions. Those who have launched and perpetuated the wars remain the determiners of what's classified and what isn't. And Russia lurks silently in the background as a new Cold War gestates. And the media participate not in reporting the news but promoting the drama. ..."
"... Occasionally this has not been the case. Remember the Pentagon Papers? Daniel Ellsberg photocopied a multi-thousand-page secret history of the Vietnam War in 1971 and handed it over to the New York Times. It was classified! But papers printed it. And Sen. Mike Gravel later read portions of the text aloud at a Senate subcommittee hearing. ..."
"... "These portions," notes history.com , "revealed that the presidential administrations of Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson had all misled the public about the degree of US involvement in Vietnam, from Truman's decision to give military aid to France during its struggle against the communist-led Viet Minh to Johnson's development of plans to escalate the war in Vietnam as early as 1964, even as he claimed the opposite during that year's presidential election." ..."
"... Our own government, in short, is as untrustworthy as the governments of our allies and our enemies. Government officials left to operate free of public scrutiny – bereft of public input – have proven themselves over and over to be shockingly shortsighted and cold-blooded in their decision-making, and indifferent to the impact they have on the future. ..."
"... "It is nearly a truism," writes Jeffrey Sachs , "that US wars of regime change have rarely served America's security needs. Even when the wars succeed in overthrowing a government, as in the case of the Taliban in Afghanistan, Saddam Hussein in Iraq, and Moammar Khadafy in Libya, the result is rarely a stable government, and is more often a civil war. ..."
May 14, 2017 | original.antiwar.com

Classified America: Why Is the US Public Allowed To Know So Little?

by Robert Koehler , May 13, 2017 Print This | Share This For a journalist – especially one covering government and politics – the most suspicious, least trustworthy word in the language ought to be: "classified."

As the drama continues to swirl around Russiagate, or whatever the central controversy of the Trump administration winds up being known as, that word keeps popping up, teasingly, seductively: "It appeared that there was a great deal more (former acting Attorney General Sally) Yates wished she could share," the Washington Post informed us the other day, for instance, "but most of the information surrounding everything that happened remains classified."

And the drama continues! And I have yet to hear a mainstream journo challenge or question that word or ask what could be at stake that requires protective secrecy even as the U.S. government seemingly threatens to collapse around Michael Flynn, America's national security advisor for three weeks, and his relationship to Russia. Is there really any there there?

I'm not suggesting that there isn't, or that it's all fake news. Trump and pals are undoubtedly entwined financially with Russian oligarchs, which of course is deeply problematic. And maybe there's more. And maybe some of that "more" is arguably classified for a valid reason, but I want, at the very least, to know why it's classified. What I read and hear feels, instead, like collusion: journalists unquestioningly honoring bureaucratic keep-out signs as objective, even sacred, stopping points. Public knowledge must go no further because . . . you know, national security. But the drama continues!

And this is troubling to me because, for starters, nations built on secrecy are far more unstable than those that aren't. Job #1 of a free, independent media is the full-on, continuous challenge to government secrecy. Such a media understands that it answers to the public, or rather, that it's a manifestation of the public will. Stability and freedom are not the result of private tinkering. And peace is something created openly. The best of who we are is contained in the public soul, not bequeathed to us by unfathomably wise leaders.

So I cringe every time I hear the news stop at the word "classified." Indeed, in the Trump era, it seems like a plot device: a way to maintain the drama. ". . . there was a great deal more Yates wished she could share, but most of the information surrounding everything that happened remains classified."

Stay tuned, and keep your imaginations turned to high! This is Russia we're talking about. They messed with our election. They "attacked" us in cyberspace. We'd tell you more about how bad things are, but . . . you know, national security.

If nothing else, this endless retreat behind the word "classified" is a waste of the Trump presidency. This administration's recklessness is opening all sorts of random doors on national secrets that need airing. It's not as though the country was sailing along smoothly and keeping the world safe and peaceful till Donald Trump showed up.

Trump could well be making a bad situation worse, but, as William Hartung pointed out: "After all, he inherited no less than seven conflicts from Barack Obama: Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria and Yemen."

The United States is engaged in endless war, at unbelievable and never-discussed cost, to no end except destruction in all directions. Those who have launched and perpetuated the wars remain the determiners of what's classified and what isn't. And Russia lurks silently in the background as a new Cold War gestates. And the media participate not in reporting the news but promoting the drama.

Occasionally this has not been the case. Remember the Pentagon Papers? Daniel Ellsberg photocopied a multi-thousand-page secret history of the Vietnam War in 1971 and handed it over to the New York Times. It was classified! But papers printed it. And Sen. Mike Gravel later read portions of the text aloud at a Senate subcommittee hearing.

"These portions," notes history.com , "revealed that the presidential administrations of Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson had all misled the public about the degree of US involvement in Vietnam, from Truman's decision to give military aid to France during its struggle against the communist-led Viet Minh to Johnson's development of plans to escalate the war in Vietnam as early as 1964, even as he claimed the opposite during that year's presidential election."

Our own government, in short, is as untrustworthy as the governments of our allies and our enemies. Government officials left to operate free of public scrutiny – bereft of public input – have proven themselves over and over to be shockingly shortsighted and cold-blooded in their decision-making, and indifferent to the impact they have on the future.

"It is nearly a truism," writes Jeffrey Sachs , "that US wars of regime change have rarely served America's security needs. Even when the wars succeed in overthrowing a government, as in the case of the Taliban in Afghanistan, Saddam Hussein in Iraq, and Moammar Khadafy in Libya, the result is rarely a stable government, and is more often a civil war. A 'successful' regime change often lights a long fuse leading to a future explosion, such as the 1953 overthrow of Iran's democratically elected government and installation of the autocratic Shah of Iran, which was followed by the Iranian Revolution of 1979."

All of this, and so much more, preceded Trump. He's only the tail end of our troubles.

Robert Koehler is an award-winning, Chicago-based journalist and nationally syndicated writer. His new book, Courage Grows Strong at the Wound is now available. Contact him at koehlercw@gmail.com or visit his website at commonwonders.com . Reprinted with permission from PeaceVoice .

[May 14, 2017] AfterMidnight -- new NSA malware

May 14, 2017 | failedevolution.blogspot.gr
WikiLeaks

Today, May 12th 2017, WikiLeaks publishes "AfterMidnight" and "Assassin", two CIA malware frameworks for the Microsoft Windows platform.
"AfterMidnight" allows operators to dynamically load and execute malware payloads on a target machine.

The main controller disguises as a self-persisting Windows Service DLL and provides secure execution of "Gremlins" via a HTTPS based Listening Post (LP) system called "Octopus".

Once installed on a target machine AM will call back to a configured LP on a configurable schedule, checking to see if there is a new plan for it to execute.

If there is, it downloads and stores all needed components before loading all new gremlins in memory. "Gremlins" are small AM payloads that are meant to run hidden on the target and either subvert the functionality of targeted software, survey the target (including data exfiltration) or provide internal services for other gremlins.

The special payload "AlphaGremlin" even has a custom script language which allows operators to schedule custom tasks to be executed on the target machine.

"Assassin" is a similar kind of malware; it is an automated implant that provides a simple collection platform on remote computers running the Microsoft Windows operating system. Once the tool is installed on the target, the implant is run within a Windows service process. "Assassin" (just like "AfterMidnight") will then periodically beacon to its configured listening post(s) to request tasking and deliver results.

Communication occurs over one or more transport protocols as configured before or during deployment. The "Assassin" C2 (Command and Control) and LP (Listening Post) subsystems are referred to collectively as" The Gibson" and allow operators to perform specific tasks on an infected target..

Documents:
https://wikileaks.org/vault7/#AfterMidnight

[May 12, 2017] Worst-Ever Recorded Ransomware Attack Strikes Over 57,000 Users Worldwide, Using NSA-Leaked Tools

Cyber attacks on a global scale took place on Friday, May 12, 2017. The notable hits include computers in 16 UK hospitals, Telefonica Telecom in Spain, Gas Natural, Iberdrola. Several thousand computer were infected in 99 countries. WannaCry ransomware attack - Wikipedia
WannaCry is believed to use the EternalBlue exploit, which was developed by the U.S. National Security Agency[15][16] to attack computers running Microsoft Windows operating systems. Once it invades a network, it is self-replicated and transmitted to other computers.
Initial infection vector is either via LAN, an email attachment, or drive-by download.
A kill switch has been found in the code, which since May 13 helps to prevent new infections. This swich was accidentally activated by an anti-virus researcher from GB. However, different versions of the attack may be released and all vulnerable systems still have an urgent need to be patched.
Notable quotes:
"... Hollywood Overwhelmed With Hack Attacks; FBI Advises 'Pay Ransom'... ..."
May 12, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com

The ransomware has been identifed as WannaCry

* * *

Update 4 : According to experts tracking and analyzing the worm and its spread, this could be one of the worst-ever recorded attacks of its kind .

The security researcher who tweets and blogs as MalwareTech told The Intercept "I've never seen anything like this with ransomware," and "the last worm of this degree I can remember is Conficker." Conficker was a notorious Windows worm first spotted in 2008; it went on to infect over nine million computers in nearly 200 countries. As The Intercept details,

Today's WannaCry attack appears to use an NSA exploit codenamed ETERNALBLUE, a software weapon that would have allowed the spy agency's hackers to break into any of millions of Windows computers by exploiting a flaw in how certain version of Windows implemented a network protocol commonly used to share files and to print. Even though Microsoft fixed the ETERNALBLUE vulnerability in a March software update, the safety provided there relied on computer users keeping their systems current with the most recent updates. Clearly, as has always been the case, many people (including in governments) are not installing updates. Before, there would have been some solace in knowing that only enemies of the NSA would have to fear having ETERNALBLUE used against them–but from the moment the agency lost control of its own exploit last summer, there's been no such assurance.

Today shows exactly what's at stake when government hackers can't keep their virtual weapons locked up.

As security researcher Matthew Hickey, who tracked the leaked NSA tools last month, put it, "I am actually surprised that a weaponized malware of this nature didn't spread sooner."

Update 3: Microsoft has issued a statement, confirming the status the vulnerability:

Today our engineers added detection and protection against new malicious software known as Ransom:Win32.WannaCrypt.

In March, we provided a security update which provides additional protections against this potential attack.

Those who are running our free antivirus software and have Windows updates enabled, are protected. We are working with customers to provide additional assistance.

Update 2: Security firm Kaspersky Lab has recorded more than 45,000 attacks in 74 countries in the past 10 hours

Seventy-four countries around the globe have been affected, with the number of victims still growing, according to Kaspersky Lab. According to Avast, over 57,000 attacks have been detected worldwide, the company said, adding that it "quickly escalated into a massive spreading."

57,000 detections of #WannaCry (aka #WanaCypt0r aka #WCry ) #ransomware by Avast today. More details in blog post: https://t.co/PWxbs8LZkk

- Jakub Kroustek (@JakubKroustek) May 12, 2017

According to Avast, the ransomware has also targeted Russia, Ukraine and Taiwan. The virus is apparently the upgraded version of the ransomware that first appeared in February. Believed to be affecting only Windows operated computers, it changes the affected file extension names to ".WNCRY." It then drops ransom notes to a user in a text file, demanding $300 worth of bitcoins to be paid to unlock the infected files within a certain period of time.

While the victim's wallpaper is being changed, affected users also see a countdown timer to remind them of the limited time they have to pay the ransom. If they fail to pay, their data will be deleted, cybercriminals warn. According to the New York Times, citing security experts, the ransomware exploits a "vulnerability that was discovered and developed by the National Security Agency (NSA)." The hacking tool was leaked by a group calling itself the Shadow Brokers, the report said, adding, that it has been distributing the stolen NSA hacking tools online since last year.

Predictably, Edward Snowden - who has been warning about just such an eventuality - chimed in on Twitter, saying " Whoa: @NSAGov decision to build attack tools targeting US software now threatens the lives of hospital patients."

* * *

Update 1 : In a shocking revelation, The FT reports that hackers responsible for the wave of cyber attacks that struck organisations across the globe used tools stolen from the US National Security Agency.

A hacking tool known as "eternal blue", developed by US spies has been weaponised by the hackers to super-charge an existing form of ransomware known as WannaCry, three senior cyber security analysts said. Their reading of events was confirmed by western security officials who are still scrambling to contain the spread of the attack. The NSA's eternal blue exploit allows the malware to spread through file-sharing protocols set up across organisations, many of which span the globe.

As Sam Coates summed up...

NHS hack: So NSA had secret backdoor into Windows. Details leaked few weeks ago. Now backdoor being exploited by random criminals. Nightmare

- Sam Coates Times (@SamCoatesTimes) May 12, 2017

* * *

We earlier reported in the disturbing fact that hospitals across the United Kingdom had gone dark due to a massive cyber-attack...

Hospitals across the UK have been hit by what appears to be a major, nationwide cyber-attack, resulting in the loss of phonelines and computers, with many hospitals going "dark" and some diverting all but emergency patients elsewhere. At some hospitals patients are being told not to come to A&E with all non-urgent operations cancelled, the BBC reports .

The UK National Health Service said: "We're aware that a number of trusts that have reported potential issues to the CareCERT team. We believe it to be ransomware ." It added that trusts and hospitals in London, Blackburn, Nottingham, Cumbria and Hertfordshire have been affected and are reporting IT failures, in some cases meaning there is no way of operating phones or computers.

At Lister Hospital in Stevenage, the telephone and computer system has been fully disabled in an attempt to fend off the attack .

NHS England says it is aware of the issue and is looking into it.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May confirms today's massive cyber hit on NHS is part of wider international attack and there is no evidence patient data has been compromised.

Hospitals say backlog will go on for some weeks after today's cyber attack #NHScyberattack pic.twitter.com/BGV5jV7KZ1

- Sky News Tonight (@SkyNewsTonight) May 12, 2017

The situation has got significantly worse as The BBC reports the ransomware attack has gone global.

Screenshots of a well known program that locks computers and demands a payment in Bitcoin have been shared online by parties claiming to be affected.

Manthong macholatte May 12, 2017 2:19 PM

"Ransomware"?

The FBI has the solution and comes to the rescue .

Hollywood Overwhelmed With Hack Attacks; FBI Advises 'Pay Ransom'...

Manthong Manthong May 12, 2017 2:22 PM

It's just a damn good thing the US spent all that time and money developing all that stuff.

Now that it's out, just pay the ransom to the Cyber-Barbary Pirates so that the government can return to its main 1984 mass surveillance and control mission.

stormsailor pods May 12, 2017 4:52 PM
My son is an IT professional and has been inundated with new clients calling to rid their complex systems of this plague.For his clients he has divised protection from it, but most of the calls he gets are from large hospitals, corporations, etc. that have their own IT staff.

He can fix it and prevent/firewall it so it doesn't happen but some of the systems are so complex with so many open ends, his bill is sometimes as much as the hackers are asking for. He told me that in some cases he is tempted to tell them to just pay it, however, he said all of the payoffs have to be made with bitcoin on the "dark-web" and since you are dealing with known criminals he has heard that more than half the time they do not fix it.

He was in New Orleans about a month ago, Thursday through Sunday clearing up a large companies servers and systems, worked 70 hours and billed them 24k plus expenses

virgule Arnold May 12, 2017 3:21 PM
First thing I suggest to do if this happens to you, is to shut down your computer, take out the HD, and boot it into a Linux system, so at least you can make a copy in a asafe environment, before things get worse.

[May 10, 2017] How ISIS Evades the CIA by Philip Giraldi

By pushing the envelope CIA essentially armed terrorists is effective techniques of avoiding electronic eavedropping....
Notable quotes:
"... Terrorists now know that using cell phones is dangerous, that transferring money using commercial accounts can be detected, that moving around when a drone is overhead can be fatal, and that communicating by computer is likely to be intercepted and exposed even when encrypted. ..."
"... So they rely on couriers to communicate and move money while also avoiding the use of the vulnerable technologies whenever they can, sometimes using public phones and computers only when they are many miles away from their operational locations, and changing addresses, SIM cards, and telephone numbers frequently to confuse the monitoring. ..."
Jul 23, 2014 | www.theamericanconservative.com
America's high-tech spies aren't equipped to penetrate low-tech terrorist organizations

Terrorists now know that using cell phones is dangerous, that transferring money using commercial accounts can be detected, that moving around when a drone is overhead can be fatal, and that communicating by computer is likely to be intercepted and exposed even when encrypted.

So they rely on couriers to communicate and move money while also avoiding the use of the vulnerable technologies whenever they can, sometimes using public phones and computers only when they are many miles away from their operational locations, and changing addresses, SIM cards, and telephone numbers frequently to confuse the monitoring.

Technical intelligence has another limitation: while it is excellent on picking up bits and pieces and using sophisticated computers to work through the bulk collection of chatter, it is largely unable to learn the intentions of terrorist groups and leaders. To do that you need spies, ideally someone who is placed in the inner circle of an organization and who is therefore privy to decision making.

Since 9/11 U.S. intelligence has had a poor record in recruiting agents to run inside terrorist organizations-or even less toxic groups that are similarly structured-in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. Information collected relating to the internal workings of al-Qaeda, the Taliban, dissident Sunni groups in Iraq, and now ISIS has been, to say the least, disappointing. To be fair this is often because security concerns limit the ability of American case officers to operate in areas that are considered too dangerous, which is generally speaking where the terrorist targets are actually located. Also, hostile groups frequently run their operations through franchise arrangements where much of the decision making is both local and funded without large cash transfers from a central organization, making the activity hard to detect.

Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, is executive director of the Council for the National Interest.

[May 08, 2017] Another Leaks about emails, this time about Macron

Notable quotes:
"... to be fair though, those emails leaks seem totally dull. I browsed what I could, it's just generic staff chat, campaign bills to pay, bills to make, yadda yadda Whoever got the mail passwords few months ago must have waited for something juicy to land and since nothing really interesting came up, they're just posting the whole stock as is. Won't make the slightest difference on sunday. ..."
"... Exactly. I wouldnt be surprised if its Macron team itself that leaked this dull, uninportant stuff to show that "russians have interfered". ..."
"... Macron won 1st step with the intense fear campaign spammed on our heads during 6 months. I know plenty reasonable people who voted Macron while they hardly can stand his program, because they were told hundreds times he was the "best choice" to beat Le Pen. ..."
"... That's so absurd Macron got the most votes last sunday AND at the same time got the LOWEST "adhesion" (adherence ? not sure in english) rate of all 11 candidates, basically nearly half of "his" voters put the bulletin with his name for reasons that have nothing to do with him. ..."
"... Macron's dirty secrets according to The Duran: http://theduran.com/breaking-macron-emails-lead-to-allegations-of-drug-use-homosexual-adventurism-and-rothschild-money/ ..."
"... That all the evils in western society are the fault of the external bogeyman. Putin, ISIS Refugees, Asian footwear makers, whatever. ..."
"... Is that your services & politicians Would never pull a false leak or a controlled leak or a limited hangout. That they are angels that sit on their hands. ..."
"... These two underpin the absolute lunacy we have seen unfold before our eyes. An extraordinarily dangerous situation to be in which is getting worse fast. ..."
May 08, 2017 | www.moonofalabama.org
Jean | May 6, 2017 8:32:33 AM | 10
Another Leaks about emails, this time about Macron. The difference is that nobody is allowed to publish any part of it by the electoral commission (15,000 euros fine). No doubt there will be a huge crackdown on alt media once he gets elected.

France is an occupied country, much more than the US

http://theduran.com/breaking-macron-email-hacking-shows-that-free-speech-is-dead-in-france/

roflmaousse | May 6, 2017 8:43:48 AM | 12
to be fair though, those emails leaks seem totally dull. I browsed what I could, it's just generic staff chat, campaign bills to pay, bills to make, yadda yadda Whoever got the mail passwords few months ago must have waited for something juicy to land and since nothing really interesting came up, they're just posting the whole stock as is. Won't make the slightest difference on sunday.
Anon | May 6, 2017 8:52:27 AM | 13
roflmaousse

Exactly. I wouldnt be surprised if its Macron team itself that leaked this dull, uninportant stuff to show that "russians have interfered".

roflmaousse | May 6, 2017 9:04:11 AM | 14
@jen : what possibility ? none
Macron won 1st step with the intense fear campaign spammed on our heads during 6 months. I know plenty reasonable people who voted Macron while they hardly can stand his program, because they were told hundreds times he was the "best choice" to beat Le Pen. And that's it. They probably don't fully believe it, but the doubt was hammered deep in their mind, and they won't take the (imaginary) risk to appear the on "wrong" side of history and be shamed for years... And the same thing will obviously happen tomorrow.

That's so absurd Macron got the most votes last sunday AND at the same time got the LOWEST "adhesion" (adherence ? not sure in english) rate of all 11 candidates, basically nearly half of "his" voters put the bulletin with his name for reasons that have nothing to do with him.

Anon | May 6, 2017 4:10:36 PM | 46
Lol the french regime now warn people not to spread the leak... apparently that is a "criminal offense"!

https://tinyurl.com/m7a37ew

You cant make this stuff up! Censorship is here and accepted, scary.

Mina | May 6, 2017 6:55:59 PM | 57
Californian leak? Who cares, the msm have already blamed the ruskies all day
james | May 6, 2017 7:02:12 PM | 58
@46 anon.. that macron leak story has legs! i like what some guy on twitter said - "Amazing that the French government and media now stand as enemies of freedom of speech." who whudda thunk it? lol... remind anyone of any other countries?
Mina | May 6, 2017 7:06:12 PM | 59
So cute from the bbc that he doesnt want to reveal the contents of the leak although nothing obliges it to

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-39830379

Anon | May 7, 2017 3:09:11 AM | 63
Indeed, Macron is basically married to his mother already in a way: Macron married to a 24 year older wife
https://www.thestar.com/life/2017/04/27/french-presidential-candidates-older-wife-only-scandalous-to-the-rest-of-the-world-timson.html
Shakesvshav | May 7, 2017 4:02:44 AM | 64
Macron's dirty secrets according to The Duran: http://theduran.com/breaking-macron-emails-lead-to-allegations-of-drug-use-homosexual-adventurism-and-rothschild-money/
Mina | May 7, 2017 4:16:59 AM | 65
Well well well... you know... its France... le pen's mother made nacked pictures for french playboy when she divorced the father... another one is on x... just pawns.
Mina | May 7, 2017 5:07:56 AM | 66
The MSM are going to be embarassed with the leaks. On one side they keep referring to the Ruskies and Trump, and on the other no one among the Western politicians has a B plan in case Trump continues to wreck havoc (and he will).

Next week, he goes to KSA before Israel and since the Saudi prince said it would be 'historical' we can bet KSA will announce the recognizance of Israel
Then step 2 will be to say Syria and Iran: you recognize or we turn you to Somalia.
And where will Junker, Hollande, Macron and co go then?

(as for Le Pen she's not a suggestion; she's been changing her views almost every week except on the fate she reserves to gypsies, latest she went to explain the Zionist lobby that she supports the colonies)
http://www.lexpress.fr/actualite/politique/fn/comment-marine-le-pen-cherche-a-seduire-la-communaute-juive_1777887.html
http://www.alterinfo.net/LE-PEN-DRAGUE-LES-ELECTEURS-JUIFS-JUSQU-EN-ISRAEL_a129982.html

Mina | May 7, 2017 5:29:38 AM | 67
even Wikileaks says the metadata is full of cyrillic. clumsiness or the will to point towards the usual culprits?
not sure if Hollande has really turned into a Machiavel but that sounds like him
b | May 7, 2017 1:07:26 PM | 93

Sài Gòn Séamus @SaiGonSeamus on the Macron "leaks":

None of it makes sense, yet everyone laps it up like mother's milk. This is the 1st of these leaks to have obvious forgeries in it.

The release date makes no sense, there appears to be nothing damaging in it, the speed at which the trusties found the Cyrillic metadata says they were looking for it / told where to look / not looking for damaging material.

The sheer scale of the breach from what must be the closely monitored mail server in political history.

None of it adds up if you look at it with an open mind. This is dangerous slavish behavior from infosec, the media and public. If you will swallow this hook, line & sinker then your parliaments need more fire extinguishers

Everything is based on two enormous falacies.

1. That all the evils in western society are the fault of the external bogeyman. Putin, ISIS Refugees, Asian footwear makers, whatever. That the Trumps, Le Pens, Farages are not a native virus.

2. Is that your services & politicians Would never pull a false leak or a controlled leak or a limited hangout. That they are angels that sit on their hands.

These two underpin the absolute lunacy we have seen unfold before our eyes. An extraordinarily dangerous situation to be in which is getting worse fast.

Mina | May 7, 2017 1:13:27 PM | 94
mediapart commenting the macronleaks: no ref to the contents or to wikileaks has having decided to host the files.
b | May 7, 2017 1:17:29 PM | 95
Did Macron Outsmart Campaign Hackers? - While it's still too early to tell, so far the big document dump by hackers of the Macron campaign has not been damaging.
"You can flood these [phishing] addresses with multiple passwords and log-ins, true ones, false ones, so the people behind them use up a lot of time trying to figure them out," Mounir Mahjoubi, the head of Macron's digital team, told The Daily Beast for its earlier article on this subject.

In the end, whoever made the dump may not have known what is real and what is false, which would explain in part the odd timing. After the disruptive revelations of the Democratic National Committee hacks in the United States, the public is conditioned to think that if there's a document dump like this, it has to be incriminating. By putting it out just before the news blackout, when Macron cannot respond in detail, the dump becomes both the medium and the message.
...

[May 07, 2017] More Spying and More Lying by Andrew Napolitano

As one commenter explained below, the encryption of communications change very little if all your communications are watched. Envelope (metadata) in enough to watch you pretty closely.
May 04, 2017 | www.unz.com

What the NSA does not tell the FISA court is that its requests for approvals are a sham. That's because the NSA relies on vague language in a 35-year-old executive order, known as EO 12333, as authority to conduct mass surveillance. That's surveillance of everyone - and it does capture the content of every telephone conversation, as well as every keystroke on every computer and all fiber-optic data generated everywhere within, coming to and going from the United States.

This is not only profoundly unlawful but also profoundly deceptive. It is unlawful because it violates the Fourth Amendment. It is deceptive because Congress and the courts and the American people, perhaps even the president, think that the FISA court has been serving as a buffer for the voracious appetite of the NSA. In reality, the NSA, while dispatching lawyers to make sophisticated arguments to the FISA court, has gone behind the court's back by spying on everyone all the time.

In a memo from a now-former NSA director to his agents and vendors, leaked to the public, he advised capturing all data from everyone all the time. This produces information overload, as there is more data than can be analyzed; each year, it produces the equivalent of 27 times the contents of the Library of Congress. Therefore, safety - as well as liberty - is compromised.

The recent mass killings in Boston, San Bernardino and Orlando were all preceded by text messages and cellphone conversations between the killers and their confederates. The NSA had the digital versions of those texts and conversations, but it had not analyzed them until after the killings - because it has and has had too much data to analyze in a critical and timely manner.

So, why did the NSA announce that it is pulling back from its customary uses of Section 702? To give the false impression to members of Congress that it follows the law. Section 702, the great subterfuge, expires at the end of this year, and the NSA, which has spied on Donald Trump since before he was president, fears the debate that will accompany the efforts to renew it - hence its softening public tone.

Eagle Eye , May 6, 2017 at 7:14 pm GMT

Does anyone seriously think that senior NSA officials do NOT personally ENRICH themselves through stock market manipulation in anticipation of earnings reports, mergers etc. based on illegal NSA intercepts?

Does anyone think that at least NO NSA officer EVER uses illegally intercepted information to blackmail others or otherwise to secure a secret advantage in dealing with others?

Does anyone think that Hillary's and the FBI's access to grossly illegal NSA intercepts was NOT a key factor in the 2016 presidential and Congressional elections?

Svigor , May 6, 2017 at 7:47 pm GMT

Here is the back story.

The backstory is that Trump has the power to fire them all, easily and without much in the way of red tape. And that he can't be relied upon not to do so.

So, why did the NSA announce that it is pulling back from its customary uses of Section 702? To give the false impression to members of Congress that it follows the law. Section 702, the great subterfuge, expires at the end of this year, and the NSA, which has spied on Donald Trump since before he was president, fears the debate that will accompany the efforts to renew it - hence its softening public tone.

Oh, and Trump can veto any renewal bill. Too bad he won't.

Svigor , May 6, 2017 at 7:49 pm GMT

What will happen with this privacy thingy is that people with stuff to hide (legitimate or not) will get their hands on strong encryption and the hoi polloi just doesn't care enough.

There needs to be a public movement toward encryption, so that everyone uses it. Then using it won't be prone to the abuse of "probable cause."

Eagle Eye May 6, 2017 at 10:25 pm GMT
@Svigor
What will happen with this privacy thingy is that people with stuff to hide (legitimate or not) will get their hands on strong encryption and the hoi polloi just doesn't care enough.
There needs to be a public movement toward encryption, so that everyone uses it. Then using it won't be prone to the abuse of "probable cause."

movement toward encryption

Think of a colleague, a personal enemy, a business partner, a spouse etc. Imagine you have access to their communications logs – a long list of times and other details of each email, text, USPS letter, phone call, wire transfer etc. to or from the subject, including the name of every person with whom she communicated, but NOT including the content of the message.

What conclusions could you draw from the following (with HT to Electronic Frontiers Foundation):

(1) Your business partner called a bankruptcy lawyer last Thursday and spoke for 27 minutes. You do not know what was discussed because the communication was encrypted.

(2) Your spouse made several hours-long phone calls, wired money to a sibling in Brazil on five occasions in 2 days, and contacted an airline. You do not know any details because the communications were encrypted.

(3) The senior dean of admissions at Princeton exchanged 17 encrypted emails with an individual in Saudi Arabia, and two days later received two bank transfers from another individual in Saudi Arabia to her numbered bank account in Moldova. You do not know the content of the emails, nor the amount of the wire transfers, because the communications were encrypted.

[May 05, 2017] William Binney - The Government is Profiling You (The NSA is Spying on You)

Very interesting discussion of how the project of mass surveillance of internet traffic started and what were the major challenges. that's probably where the idea of collecting "envelopes" and correlating them to create social network. Similar to what was done in civil War.
The idea to prevent corruption of medical establishment to prevent Medicare fraud is very interesting.
Notable quotes:
"... I suspect that it's hopelessly unlikely for honest people to complete the Police Academy; somewhere early on the good cops are weeded out and cannot complete training unless they compromise their integrity. ..."
"... 500 Years of History Shows that Mass Spying Is Always Aimed at Crushing Dissent It's Never to Protect Us From Bad Guys No matter which government conducts mass surveillance, they also do it to crush dissent, and then give a false rationale for why they're doing it. ..."
"... People are so worried about NSA don't be fooled that private companies are doing the same thing. ..."
"... In communism the people learned quick they were being watched. The reaction was not to go to protest. ..."
"... Just not be productive and work the system and not listen to their crap. this is all that was required to bring them down. watching people, arresting does not do shit for their cause ..."
Apr 20, 2017 | www.youtube.com
Chad 2 years ago

"People who believe in these rights very much are forced into compromising their integrity"

I suspect that it's hopelessly unlikely for honest people to complete the Police Academy; somewhere early on the good cops are weeded out and cannot complete training unless they compromise their integrity.

Agent76 1 year ago (edited)
January 9, 2014

500 Years of History Shows that Mass Spying Is Always Aimed at Crushing Dissent It's Never to Protect Us From Bad Guys No matter which government conducts mass surveillance, they also do it to crush dissent, and then give a false rationale for why they're doing it.

http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2014/01/government-spying-citizens-always-focuses-crushing-dissent-keeping-us-safe.html

Homa Monfared 7 months ago

I am wondering how much damage your spying did to the Foreign Countries, I am wondering how you changed regimes around the world, how many refugees you helped to create around the world.

Don Kantner, 2 weeks ago

People are so worried about NSA don't be fooled that private companies are doing the same thing. Plus, the truth is if the NSA wasn't watching any fool with a computer could potentially cause an worldwide economic crisis.

Bettor in Vegas 1 year ago

In communism the people learned quick they were being watched. The reaction was not to go to protest.

Just not be productive and work the system and not listen to their crap. this is all that was required to bring them down. watching people, arresting does not do shit for their cause......

[May 01, 2017] Google is the largest private spying agency: Is It Time to Break Up Google?

Yes. Next question? And for those who might have missed this Matt Stoller piece read it now. The evidence is piling up - Silicon Valley is being destroyed Business Insider
Notable quotes:
"... It is impossible to deny that Facebook, Google and Amazon have stymied innovation on a broad scale. To begin with, the platforms of Google and Facebook are the point of access to all media for the majority of Americans. ..."
"... According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, newspaper publishers lost over half their employees between 2001 and 2016. Billions of dollars have been reallocated from creators of content to owners of monopoly platforms. ..."
"... In 2015 two Obama economic advisers, Peter Orszag and Jason Furman, published a paper arguing that the rise in "supernormal returns on capital" at firms with limited competition is leading to a rise in economic inequality. ..."
"... There are a few obvious regulations to start with. Monopoly is made by acquisition - Google buying AdMob and DoubleClick, Facebook buying Instagram and WhatsApp, Amazon buying, to name just a few, Audible, Twitch, Zappos and Alexa. At a minimum, these companies should not be allowed to acquire other major firms, like Spotify or Snapchat. ..."
"... The second alternative is to regulate a company like Google as a public utility, requiring it to license out patents, for a nominal fee, for its search algorithms, advertising exchanges and other key innovations. ..."
"... Removing the safe harbor provision would also force social networks to pay for the content posted on their sites. A simple example: One million downloads of a song on iTunes would yield the performer and his record label about $900,000. One million streams of that same song on YouTube would earn them about $900. ..."
"... Woodrow Wilson was right when he said in 1913, "If monopoly persists, monopoly will always sit at the helm of the government." We ignore his words at our peril. ..."
Apr 27, 2017 | www.nytimes.com

Is It Time to Break Up Google? by JONATHAN TAPLIN

In just 10 years, the world's five largest companies by market capitalization have all changed, save for one: Microsoft. Exxon Mobil, General Electric, Citigroup and Shell Oil are out and Apple, Alphabet (the parent company of Google), Amazon and Facebook have taken their place.

They're all tech companies, and each dominates its corner of the industry: Google has an 88 percent market share in search advertising, Facebook (and its subsidiaries Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger) owns 77 percent of mobile social traffic and Amazon has a 74 percent share in the e-book market. In classic economic terms, all three are monopolies.

We have been transported back to the early 20th century, when arguments about "the curse of bigness" were advanced by President Woodrow Wilson's counselor, Louis Brandeis, before Wilson appointed him to the Supreme Court. Brandeis wanted to eliminate monopolies, because (in the words of his biographer Melvin Urofsky) "in a democratic society the existence of large centers of private power is dangerous to the continuing vitality of a free people." We need look no further than the conduct of the largest banks in the 2008 financial crisis or the role that Facebook and Google play in the "fake news" business to know that Brandeis was right.

While Brandeis generally opposed regulation - which, he worried, inevitably led to the corruption of the regulator - and instead advocated breaking up "bigness," he made an exception for "natural" monopolies, like telephone, water and power companies and railroads, where it made sense to have one or a few companies in control of an industry.

DenisPombriant
April 26, 2017
You don't need to look as far back as Brandise or as far forward as Google to see the pernicious effects of monopoly. Just look at airlines...

fortress
April 26, 2017
I have no awareness of how google harms me, I use Bing for searches, and yes they are an octopus, but with efficiencies of scale that...

SR
April 26, 2017
"True, the internet never had the same problems of interoperability."...but not for want of trying. The old Microsoft Network-MSN-was a...

Could it be that these companies - and Google in particular - have become natural monopolies by supplying an entire market's demand for a service, at a price lower than what would be offered by two competing firms? And if so, is it time to regulate them like public utilities?

Consider a historical analogy: the early days of telecommunications.

In 1895 a photograph of the business district of a large city might have shown 20 phone wires attached to most buildings. Each wire was owned by a different phone company, and none of them worked with the others. Without network effects, the networks themselves were almost useless.

The solution was for a single company, American Telephone and Telegraph, to consolidate the industry by buying up all the small operators and creating a single network - a natural monopoly. The government permitted it, but then regulated this monopoly through the Federal Communications Commission.

AT&T (also known as the Bell System) had its rates regulated, and was required to spend a fixed percentage of its profits on research and development. In 1925 AT&T set up Bell Labs as a separate subsidiary with the mandate to develop the next generation of communications technology, but also to do basic research in physics and other sciences. Over the next 50 years, the basics of the digital age - the transistor, the microchip, the solar cell, the microwave, the laser, cellular telephony - all came out of Bell Labs, along with eight Nobel Prizes.

In a 1956 consent decree in which the Justice Department allowed AT&T to maintain its phone monopoly, the government extracted a huge concession: All past patents were licensed (to any American company) royalty-free, and all future patents were to be licensed for a small fee. These licenses led to the creation of Texas Instruments, Motorola, Fairchild Semiconductor and many other start-ups.

Changes at the Top

The five largest companies in 2006

    Exxon Mobil $540 General Electric 463 Microsoft 355 Citigroup 331 Bank of America 290


BILLION MARKET CAP


and now

    Apple $794 Alphabet (Google) 593 Microsoft 506 Amazon 429 Facebook 414

All figures in 2017 dollars; 2017 companies as of April 20. Source: S&P Dow Jones Indices By The New York Times

True, the internet never had the same problems of interoperability. And Google's route to dominance is different from the Bell System's. Nevertheless it still has all of the characteristics of a public utility.

We are going to have to decide fairly soon whether Google, Facebook and Amazon are the kinds of natural monopolies that need to be regulated, or whether we allow the status quo to continue, pretending that unfettered monoliths don't inflict damage on our privacy and democracy.

It is impossible to deny that Facebook, Google and Amazon have stymied innovation on a broad scale. To begin with, the platforms of Google and Facebook are the point of access to all media for the majority of Americans. While profits at Google, Facebook and Amazon have soared, revenues in media businesses like newspaper publishing or the music business have, since 2001, fallen by 70 percent.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, newspaper publishers lost over half their employees between 2001 and 2016. Billions of dollars have been reallocated from creators of content to owners of monopoly platforms. All content creators dependent on advertising must negotiate with Google or Facebook as aggregator, the sole lifeline between themselves and the vast internet cloud.

It's not just newspapers that are hurting. In 2015 two Obama economic advisers, Peter Orszag and Jason Furman, published a paper arguing that the rise in "supernormal returns on capital" at firms with limited competition is leading to a rise in economic inequality. The M.I.T. economists Scott Stern and Jorge Guzman explained that in the presence of these giant firms, "it has become increasingly advantageous to be an incumbent, and less advantageous to be a new entrant."

There are a few obvious regulations to start with. Monopoly is made by acquisition - Google buying AdMob and DoubleClick, Facebook buying Instagram and WhatsApp, Amazon buying, to name just a few, Audible, Twitch, Zappos and Alexa. At a minimum, these companies should not be allowed to acquire other major firms, like Spotify or Snapchat.

The second alternative is to regulate a company like Google as a public utility, requiring it to license out patents, for a nominal fee, for its search algorithms, advertising exchanges and other key innovations.

The third alternative is to remove the "safe harbor" clause in the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which allows companies like Facebook and Google's YouTube to free ride on the content produced by others. The reason there are 40,000 Islamic State videos on YouTube, many with ads that yield revenue for those who posted them, is that YouTube does not have to take responsibility for the content on its network. Facebook, Google and Twitter claim that policing their networks would be too onerous. But that's preposterous: They already police their networks for pornography, and quite well.

Removing the safe harbor provision would also force social networks to pay for the content posted on their sites. A simple example: One million downloads of a song on iTunes would yield the performer and his record label about $900,000. One million streams of that same song on YouTube would earn them about $900.

I'm under no delusion that, with libertarian tech moguls like Peter Thiel in President Trump's inner circle, antitrust regulation of the internet monopolies will be a priority. Ultimately we may have to wait four years, at which time the monopolies will be so dominant that the only remedy will be to break them up. Force Google to sell DoubleClick. Force Facebook to sell WhatsApp and Instagram.

Woodrow Wilson was right when he said in 1913, "If monopoly persists, monopoly will always sit at the helm of the government." We ignore his words at our peril.

[Apr 28, 2017] Does your web browser have a unique fingerprint?

Apr 28, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Linda , April 26, 2017 at 3:01 pm

"Does your web browser have a unique fingerprint? If so your web browser could be tracked across websites without techniques such as tracking cookies. Additionally the anonymisation aspects of services such as Tor or VPNs could be negated if websites you visit track you using your browser fingerprint. This service is designed to test how unique your web browser's fingerprint is, and hence how identifiable your browser is" [ BrowserPrint ].

News of the Wired.

Your browser fingerprint appears to be unique among the 29,948 tested so far.

Currently, we estimate that your browser has a fingerprint that conveys 14.87 bits of identifying information.

Lambert Strether Post author , April 27, 2017 at 5:51 am

Congratulations!

Adding:

Your browser fingerprint appears to be unique among the 31,767 tested so far.

Currently, we estimate that your browser has a fingerprint that conveys 14.96 bits of identifying information.

[Apr 26, 2017] Is It Time to Break Up Google

Amazon, Facebook and Google are dangerous because of their unique surveillance capabilities. Apple is in the same league. Apple phone are always "the target." fro spyware authors.
Notable quotes:
"... Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook and Twitter (@NYTopinion) , and sign up for the Opinion Today newsletter . ..."
Apr 26, 2017 | www.nytimes.com

In just 10 years, the world's five largest companies by market capitalization have all changed, save for one: Microsoft. Exxon Mobil, General Electric, Citigroup and Shell Oil are out and Apple, Alphabet (the parent company of Google), Amazon and Facebook have taken their place.

They're all tech companies, and each dominates its corner of the industry: Google has an 88 percent market share in search advertising, Facebook (and its subsidiaries Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger) owns 77 percent of mobile social traffic and Amazon has a 74 percent share in the e-book market. In classic economic terms, all three are monopolies.

We have been transported back to the early 20th century, when arguments about "the curse of bigness" were advanced by President Woodrow Wilson's counselor, Louis Brandeis, before Wilson appointed him to the Supreme Court. Brandeis wanted to eliminate monopolies, because (in the words of his biographer Melvin Urofsky) "in a democratic society the existence of large centers of private power is dangerous to the continuing vitality of a free people." We need look no further than the conduct of the largest banks in the 2008 financial crisis or the role that Facebook and Google play in the "fake news" business to know that Brandeis was right.

While Brandeis generally opposed regulation - which, he worried, inevitably led to the corruption of the regulator - and instead advocated breaking up "bigness," he made an exception for "natural" monopolies, like telephone, water and power companies and railroads, where it made sense to have one or a few companies in control of an industry.

Continue reading the main story Advertisement Continue reading the main story

Could it be that these companies - and Google in particular - have become natural monopolies by supplying an entire market's demand for a service, at a price lower than what would be offered by two competing firms? And if so, is it time to regulate them like public utilities?

Consider a historical analogy: the early days of telecommunications.

In 1895 a photograph of the business district of a large city might have shown 20 phone wires attached to most buildings. Each wire was owned by a different phone company, and none of them worked with the others. Without network effects, the networks themselves were almost useless.

The solution was for a single company, American Telephone and Telegraph, to consolidate the industry by buying up all the small operators and creating a single network - a natural monopoly. The government permitted it, but then regulated this monopoly through the Federal Communications Commission.

AT&T (also known as the Bell System) had its rates regulated, and was required to spend a fixed percentage of its profits on research and development. In 1925 AT&T set up Bell Labs as a separate subsidiary with the mandate to develop the next generation of communications technology, but also to do basic research in physics and other sciences. Over the next 50 years, the basics of the digital age - the transistor, the microchip, the solar cell, the microwave, the laser, cellular telephony - all came out of Bell Labs, along with eight Nobel Prizes .

Advertisement Continue reading the main story

In a 1956 consent decree in which the Justice Department allowed AT&T to maintain its phone monopoly, the government extracted a huge concession: All past patents were licensed (to any American company) royalty-free, and all future patents were to be licensed for a small fee. These licenses led to the creation of Texas Instruments, Motorola, Fairchild Semiconductor and many other start-ups.

Changes at the Top

The five largest companies in 2006

Exxon Mobil

General Electric

Microsoft

Citigroup

Bank of America

$540

463

355

331

290

1

2

3

4

5

BILLION MARKET CAP

and now

Apple

Alphabet (Google)

Microsoft

Amazon

Facebook

$794

593

506

429

414

1

2

3

4

5 All figures in 2017 dollars; 2017 companies as of April 20. Source: S&P Dow Jones Indices

APRIL 22, 2017

By The New York Times

True, the internet never had the same problems of interoperability. And Google's route to dominance is different from the Bell System's. Nevertheless it still has all of the characteristics of a public utility.

Advertisement Continue reading the main story

We are going to have to decide fairly soon whether Google, Facebook and Amazon are the kinds of natural monopolies that need to be regulated, or whether we allow the status quo to continue, pretending that unfettered monoliths don't inflict damage on our privacy and democracy.

It is impossible to deny that Facebook, Google and Amazon have stymied innovation on a broad scale. To begin with, the platforms of Google and Facebook are the point of access to all media for the majority of Americans. While profits at Google, Facebook and Amazon have soared, revenues in media businesses like newspaper publishing or the music business have, since 2001, fallen by 70 percent.

Opinion Today

Every weekday, get thought-provoking commentary from Op-Ed columnists, The Times editorial board and contributing writers from around the world.

Please verify you're not a robot by clicking the box.

Invalid email address. Please re-enter.

You must select a newsletter to subscribe to.

Thank you for subscribing. An error has occurred. Please try again later. You are already subscribed to this email.

View all New York Times newsletters.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, newspaper publishers lost over half their employees between 2001 and 2016. Billions of dollars have been reallocated from creators of content to owners of monopoly platforms. All content creators dependent on advertising must negotiate with Google or Facebook as aggregator, the sole lifeline between themselves and the vast internet cloud.

It's not just newspapers that are hurting. In 2015 two Obama economic advisers, Peter Orszag and Jason Furman, published a paper arguing that the rise in "supernormal returns on capital" at firms with limited competition is leading to a rise in economic inequality. The M.I.T. economists Scott Stern and Jorge Guzman explained that in the presence of these giant firms, "it has become increasingly advantageous to be an incumbent, and less advantageous to be a new entrant."

Advertisement Continue reading the main story

There are a few obvious regulations to start with. Monopoly is made by acquisition - Google buying AdMob and DoubleClick, Facebook buying Instagram and WhatsApp, Amazon buying, to name just a few, Audible, Twitch, Zappos and Alexa. At a minimum, these companies should not be allowed to acquire other major firms, like Spotify or Snapchat.

Advertisement Continue reading the main story

The second alternative is to regulate a company like Google as a public utility, requiring it to license out patents, for a nominal fee, for its search algorithms, advertising exchanges and other key innovations.

The third alternative is to remove the "safe harbor" clause in the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which allows companies like Facebook and Google's YouTube to free ride on the content produced by others. The reason there are 40,000 Islamic State videos on YouTube, many with ads that yield revenue for those who posted them, is that YouTube does not have to take responsibility for the content on its network. Facebook, Google and Twitter claim that policing their networks would be too onerous. But that's preposterous: They already police their networks for pornography, and quite well.

Advertisement Continue reading the main story

Removing the safe harbor provision would also force social networks to pay for the content posted on their sites. A simple example: One million downloads of a song on iTunes would yield the performer and his record label about $900,000. One million streams of that same song on YouTube would earn them about $900.

I'm under no delusion that, with libertarian tech moguls like Peter Thiel in President Trump's inner circle, antitrust regulation of the internet monopolies will be a priority. Ultimately we may have to wait four years, at which time the monopolies will be so dominant that the only remedy will be to break them up. Force Google to sell DoubleClick. Force Facebook to sell WhatsApp and Instagram.

Woodrow Wilson was right when he said in 1913, "If monopoly persists, monopoly will always sit at the helm of the government." We ignore his words at our peril.

Jonathan Taplin is the director emeritus of the University of Southern California's Annenberg Innovation Lab and the author of "Move Fast and Break Things: How Google, Facebook and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy." Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook and Twitter (@NYTopinion) , and sign up for the Opinion Today newsletter .

A version of this op-ed appears in print on April 23, 2017, on Page SR4 of the New York edition with the headline: Is It Time to Break Up Google?. Today's Paper | Subscribe Continue

[Apr 21, 2017] Americas Cyberwar Hypocrisy

Apr 21, 2017 | www.foreignaffairs.com

Today's cyberbattles could almost make one nostalgic for the Cold War . The nuclear arms race created a sense of existential threat, but at least it was clear who had the weapons. In contrast, a cyberattack could be the work of almost anyone. After hackers broke into the U.S. Democratic National Committee's servers in 2016 and released e-mails embarrassing to the DNC's leadership, the Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said the attacker could be China, Russia, or "somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds."

U.S. intelligence officials have said that the attack did indeed come from Russia , which Trump later acknowledged . But Trump's comment underscored a larger problem with cyberwarfare: uncertainty. How does a government respond to an invisible attacker, especially without clear rules of engagement? How can officials convince other governments and the public that they have fingered the right suspects? How can a state prevent cyberattacks when without attribution, the logic of deterrence-if you hit me, I'll hit you back-no longer applies? Two recent books delve into these questions. Dark Territory , by Fred Kaplan, and The Hacked World Order , by Adam Segal, lay out the history of cybersecurity in the United States and explain the dangers that future digital conflicts might pose. Both authors also make clear that although Americans and U.S. institutions increasingly feel themselves to be in the cross hairs of hackers and other cybercriminals, the United States is itself a powerful aggressor in cyberspace.

In 2014 alone, the United States suffered more than 80,000 cybersecurity breaches.

In the future, the United States must use its cyberpower judiciously. Every conflict poses the risk that one party will make a mistake or overreact, causing things to veer out of control. When it comes to cyberwar, however, the stakes are particularly high for the United States, as the country's technological sophistication makes it uniquely vulnerable to attack.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visits the Natanz nuclear enrichment facility, April 2008.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visits the Natanz nuclear enrichment facility, April 2008.

CYBER-SUPERPOWER

The dramatic headlines surrounding Russia's alleged hacking of the DNC and attempts to spread misinformation online during the U.S. election may have reinforced the perception among Americans that the United States is primarily a victim of cyber-intrusions. It's not. In Dark Territory , Kaplan details the United States' long history of aggression in cyberspace. It's not easy to write an engaging book on cyberwar, and Kaplan, a national security columnist at Slate , has done an admirable job. He presents a clear account of the United States' evolution into a formidable cyberpower, guiding the reader through a thicket of technical details and government acronyms.

It turns out that the U.S. govern ment has been an aggressor for over a quarter century. Kaplan describes "counter command-control warfare"-attempts to disrupt an enemy's ability to control its forces-that goes back to the Gulf War in 1990–91. At a time when U.S. President George H. W. Bush had never used a computer, the National Security Agency (NSA) was employing a secret satellite to monitor the conversations of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and his generals, which sometimes revealed the positions of Iraqi soldiers.

The United States flexed its digital muscles again in the late 1990s, when Serbs in Bosnia and Herzegovina were protesting the presence of NATO soldiers enforcing the 1995 Dayton peace agreement, which had ended the Bosnian war. U.S. officials learned that local newscasters were telling protesters when and where to gather and even instructing them to throw rocks at NATO soldiers. It turned out that 85 percent of Serbs got their television broadcasts from just five transmission towers. U.S. officials, working with the NATO-led stabilization force, or SFOR, installed devices on those five transmitters that allowed SFOR engineers to turn them on and off remotely. Whenever a newscaster began urging people to protest, the engineers shut off the transmitters.

American officials also enlisted the help of Hollywood producers, persuading them to supply programming to a U.S. -aligned Serbian station. During major anti-NATO protests, Serbians would turn on the television to find the channel playing episodes of Baywatch . Kaplan asserts, "Many Serbs, who might otherwise have hit the streets to make trouble , stayed in to watch young women cavorting in bikinis."

Around a decade later, the United States set up what Kaplan calls a "mini -NSA" in Iraq. Kaplan describes how NSA teams in the Middle East intercepted insurgents' e-mails and shut down many of their servers with malware. In other cases, they sent insurgents deceptive e-mails directing them to places where U.S. Special Forces would be waiting to kill them. "In 2007 alone, these sorts of operations . . . killed nearly four thousand Iraqi insurgents," Kaplan writes.

The United States will likely not win social media wars against countries such as China or Russia.

The United States' most ambitious cyberattack began in 2006, when it teamed up with Israel to sabotage the Iranian nuclear program. The collab oration, dubbed Operation Olympic Games, targeted Iran's Natanz reactor, which relied on remote computer controls . Malware designed by American pro grammers took over the reactor's valve pumps, allowing NSA operatives to remotely increase the flow of uranium gas into the centrifuges, which eventually burst. By early 2010, the operation had destroyed almost a quarter of Iran's 8,700 centrifuges.

For years, the Iranians failed to detect the intrusion and must have wondered if the malfunctions were their own fault. In that sense, Kaplan writes, "Operation Olympic Games was a classic campaign of information warfare : the target wasn't just the Iranians' nuclear program but also the Iranians' confidence-in their sensors, their equipment, and themselves." The Iranians and the wider public might never have learned about the virus, now widely known as Stuxnet, if it had not accidentally spread from the computers in Natanz to machines in other parts of the world, where private-sector security researchers ultimately discovered it.

With Olympic Games, the United States "crossed the Rubicon," in the words of the former CIA director Michael Hayden. Stuxnet was the first major piece of malware to do more than harm other computers and actually cause physical destruction. The irony was rich, as Kaplan notes: "For more than a decade, dozens of panels and commissions had warned that America's critical infrastructure was vulnerable to a cyber attack-and now America was launching the first cyber attack on another nation's critical infrastructure."

Of course, cyberattackers have often targeted the United States. In 2014 alone, Kaplan reports, the country suffered more than 80,000 cybersecurity breaches, more than 2,000 of which led to data losses. He also points out that until recently, U.S. policymakers worried less about Russia than China, which was "engaging not just in espionage and battlefield preparation, but also in the theft of trade secrets, intellectual property, and cash."

China and Russia are not the only players. Iran and North Korea have also attacked the United States. In 2014, the businessman Sheldon Adelson criticized Iran, which responded by hacking into the servers of Adelson's Las Vegas Sands Corporation, doing $40 million worth of damage. That same year, hackers calling themselves the Guardians of Peace broke into Sony's network. They destroyed thousands of computers and hundreds of servers, exposed tens of thousands of Social Security numbers, and released embarrassing personal e-mails pilfered from the accounts of Sony executives. U.S. government officials blamed the North Korean government for the attack . Sony Pictures was about to release The Interview , a silly comedy about a plot to assassinate the North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un. As opening day neared, the hackers threatened theaters with retaliation if they screened the movie. When Sony canceled the release, the threats stopped.

EVERYBODY HACKS

The Hacked World Order covers some of the same ground as Dark Territory , although with a slightly wider lens. In addition to discussing cyberattacks and surveillance, Segal, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, details how the United States and other countries use social media for political ends. Russia, for example, tries to shape online discourse by spreading false news and deploying trolls to post offensive or distracting comments. The Russian government has reportedly hired English speakers to praise President Vladimir Putin on the websites of foreign news outlets. The goal is not necessarily to endear Americans to Putin, Segal explains . Rather, it sows confusion online to "make reasonable, rational conversation impossible." Chinese Internet commenters also try to muddy the waters of online discussion. Segal claims that the Chinese government pays an estimated 250,000–300,000 people to support the official Communist Party agenda online.

The public understands cyberthreats far less well than it does the threat of nuclear weapons.

Segal suggests that the United States will likely not win social media wars against countries such as China or Russia . U.S. State Department officials identify themselves on Facebook and Twitter, react slowly to news, and offer factual, rule-based commentary. Unfortunately, as Segal notes, "content that is shocking , conspiratorial, or false often crowds out the reasonable, rational, and measured."

Social media battles also play out in the Middle East. In 2012, the Israel Defense Forces and Hamas fought a war for public opinion using Facebook, Twitter, Google, Pinterest, and Tumblr at the same time as the two were exchanging physical fire. The Islamic State (also known as ISIS) has launched digital campaigns that incorporate, in Segal's words, "brutality and barbarism, packaged with sophisticated production techniques ." The United States has tried to fight back by sharing negative stories about ISIS and, in 2014, even created a video, using footage released by the group , that featured severed heads and cruci fixions. The video went viral, but analysts inside and outside the U.S. government criticized it for embracing extremist tactics similar to ISIS' own. Moreover, as Segal notes, it seems to have failed to deter ISIS' supporters.

Part of what makes the cyber-era so challenging for governments is that conflict isn't limited to states. Many actors, including individuals and small groups, can carry out attacks. In 2011, for example, the hacker collective Anon ymous took down Sony's PlayStation Network, costing the company $171 million in repairs. Individuals can also disrupt traditional diplomacy, as when WikiLeaks released thousands of State Department cables in 2010, revealing U.S. diplomats' candid and sometimes embarrassing assessments of their foreign counterparts.

Segal is at his best in his discussion of China's cyberstrategy, on which he has considerable expertise. Americans tend to see themselves as a target of Chinese hackers-and indeed they are. The problem is that China also sees itself as a victim and the United States as hypocritical. In June 2013, U.S. President Barack Obama warned Chinese President Xi Jinping that Chinese hacking could damage the U.S.-Chinese relationship. Later that month, journalists published documents provided by Edward Snowden, an NSA contractor, showing that the NSA had hacked Chinese universities and telecommunications companies. It didn't take long for Chinese state media to brand the United States as "the real hacking empire."

The U.S.-Chinese relationship also suffers from a more fundamental disagreement. U.S. policymakers seem to believe that it's acceptable to spy for political and military purposes but that China's theft of intellectual property crosses a line. The United States might spy on companies and trade negotiators all over the world, but it does so to protect its national interests, not to benefit specific U.S. companies. The Chinese don't see this distinction. As Segal explains:

Many states, especially those like China that have developed a form of state capitalism at home, do not see a difference between public and private actors. Chinese firms are part of an effort to modernize the country and build comprehensive power, no matter whether they are private or state owned. Stealing for their benefit is for the benefit of the nation.

The intense secrecy surrounding cyberwarfare makes deciding what kinds of hacking are acceptable and what behavior crosses the line even harder. The Snowden revelations may have alerted Americans to the extent of U.S. government surveillance, but the public still remains largely in the dark about digital conflict. Yet Americans have a lot at stake. The United States may be the world's strongest cyberpower, but it is also the most vulnerable. Segal writes:

The United States is . . . more exposed than any other country. Smart cities, the Internet of Things, and self-driving cars may open up vast new economic opportunities as well as new targets for destructive attacks. Cyberattacks could disrupt and degrade the American way of war, heavily dependent as it is on sensors, computers, command and control, and information dominance.

Putin and Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov visit the new GRU military intelligence headquarters building in Moscow, November 2006.

Putin and Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov visit the new GRU military intelligence headquarters building in Moscow, November 2006.

FOREWARNED IS FOREARMED

Neither Kaplan nor Segal offers easy solutions to these challenges. Kaplan argues that the cyber-era is much murkier than the era of the Cold War. Officials find it difficult to trace attack ers quickly and reliably, increasing the chances that the targeted country will make an error. The U.S. government and U.S. firms face cyberattacks every day, and there is no clear line between those that are merely a nuisance and those that pose a serious threat. The public also understands cyberthreats far less well than it does the threat of nuclear weapons. Much of the informa tion is classified, inhibiting public discus sion, Kaplan notes. He concludes that "we are all wandering in dark territory."

The public understands cyberthreats far less well than it does the threat of nuclear weapons.

Segal's conclusions are somewhat more prescriptive. The United States must support research and technological innovation, for example, and not just by providing more federal funding. Segal recommends that the United States replace its federal research plan with a public-private partnership to bring in academic and commercial expertise. Government and private companies need to share more information, and companies need to talk more openly with one another about digital threats. The United States should also "develop a code of conduct that draws a clear line between its friends and allies and its potential adversaries." This would include limiting cyberattacks to military actions and narrowly targeted covert operations, following international law, rarely spying on friends, and working to strengthen international norms against economic espionage. If the United States is attacked, it should not necessarily launch a counterattack, Segal argues; rather, it should explore using sanctions or other tools. This was apparently the path that Obama took after the attack on the DNC, when the United States punished Moscow by imposing fresh sanctions and expelling 35 suspected Russian spies.

It's likely only a matter of time before the Trump administration faces a major cyberattack. When that happens, the government will need to react calmly, without jumping to conclusions. Failure to do so could have dire consequences. "The United States, Russia, and China are unlikely to launch destructive attacks against each other unless they are already engaged in military conflict or perceive core interests as being threatened," Segal writes. "The greatest risks are misperception, miscalculation, and escalation."

Those risks now seem greater than ever. Some experts have argued that Obama's response to the Russian cyberattacks in 2016 did not do enough to deter future attackers. But if Obama underreacted, the United States may now face the opposite problem. Trump has proved willing to make bold, some times unsubstantiated accusations. This behavior is dangerous in any conflict, but in the fog of cyberwar, it could spell catastrophe.

Is there anything the American public can do to prevent this? All over the country, people have been trying to check Trump's worst impulses by protesting, appealing to members of Congress, or simply demanding more information. Policy about cyberspace generally doesn't draw the same level of public engagement, in part due to a lack of knowledge. Cyberbattles can seem confusing, technical, and shrouded in secrecy, perhaps better left to the experts. But cybersecurity is everyone's problem now. The American public should inform itself, and these two books are a good place to start. If Washington inadvertently led the United States into a major cyberwar, Americans would have the most to lose.

[Apr 20, 2017] Bill Binney explodes the Russia witchhunt

Mar 04, 2017 | www.youtube.com

He also exposes the NSA penchant for "swindles", such as preventing the plugging of holes in software around the world, to preserve their spying access.

Frank Oak 3 weeks ago Big Mike's boat 200 tons coke bust n Hussien on the run as cosmic Camelots​ crimes going viral

Marija Djuric 3 weeks ago Bill Binney should be head of the NSA

Nancy M 3 weeks ago The Clinton campaign to divert attention to Russia instead of her myriad of crimes that were revealed during the election must be stopped and the alt media needs to start talking about her and Obama's crimes again and demand justice...control the dialogue

John 3 weeks ago It's almost comical to hear that they lie to each other. No wonder why these retards in the mid-east and every other third world country gets the better of us.

[Apr 20, 2017] Bill Maher Interviews Bill Binney NSA Whistleblower Obama Worst Than Bush! Impeach Them ALL!

Apr 20, 2017 | www.youtube.com

Alex B 8 months ago

This man is definitely a patriot in the strictest sense

[Apr 20, 2017] NSA Whistleblower Everyone in US under virtual surveillance, all info stored, no matter the post

Notable quotes:
"... Who knew that the NSA mandate *is to exceed their mandate" ..."
Apr 20, 2017 | www.youtube.com

Ethercruiser 11 year ago

Great interview, thanks RT. I knew most of the material in this interview for years now, but it's good for it to get out whatever way possible. Hope you continue doing more such great interviews.

jake gittes 1 year ago

RT? Imagine the Russian equivalent? Golly, NSA out of control? Who knew? Who knew that the NSA mandate *is to exceed their mandate" .

If you were in prison for the last 15 yrs you would know that NSA security in triplicate is just doing what they've always been doing except that PRISM, restarted in 2007, is just updated software.

Jim Jimmy 2 years ago

there is one main reason they collect all information and target everyone, even members of congress and people like Angela merkel. If they have personal information on these powerful people there comes the chance to blackmail them. "vote this way on this" "consent to this policy". It's political leverage

Fighting Words 3 weeks ago

It's called POLICE STATE.

[Apr 15, 2017] Leaks NSA Penetrated Mideast Banking Networks -- News from Antiwar.com

Apr 15, 2017 | news.antiwar.com

New leaked documents released by the Shadow Brokers includes information showing that the NSA penetrated Middle Eastern financial networks , initially with an eye toward being able to track all financial transactions in the region as an "anti-money laundering" effort.

This involved hacking into the region's SWIFT banking system, and unsurprisingly,, given the NSA's penchant for mission creep fairly quickly grew this into an effort not only to have access to the information on financial transactions, but to try to gain access to a long list of banks "of interest."

The leaks provided information showing that SWIFT bureau in the Middle East, EastNet, made some very poor security choices, which would've allowed the NSA to easily attack essentially all of the banks on the network, as soon as they had compromised the first one.

Documents showed at least five of the banks "of interest" had been compromised. It is unclear from the documents whether the NSA continues to have these banks' systems compromised and is continued to collect data from them, though at the very least they now have a heads up that it's going on.

[Apr 14, 2017] 'Brought to you by agency which produced Al-Qaeda ISIS' – Assange trolls CIA chief

Notable quotes:
"... "Called a 'non-state intelligence service' today by the 'state non-intelligence agency' which produced Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Iraq, Iran & Pinochet." ..."
"... "non-state hostile intelligence service," ..."
"... "he and his ilk make common cause with dictators." ..."
"... "firm and continuing policy " ..."
"... "We publish truths regarding overreaches and abuses conducted in secret by the powerful," ..."
Apr 14, 2017 | www.rt.com
Julian Assange has responded to CIA Director Mike Pompeo's accusation that WikiLeaks is a "non-state intelligence agency" by trolling the CIA over its own roles in producing "Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Iraq, Iran and Pinochet."

Called a "non-state intelligence service" today by the "state non-intelligence agency" which produced al-Qaeda, ISIS, Iraq, Iran & Pinochet.

- Julian Assange (@JulianAssange) April 14, 2017

Assange tweeted, "Called a 'non-state intelligence service' today by the 'state non-intelligence agency' which produced Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Iraq, Iran & Pinochet."

Pompeo accused WikiLeaks of siding with dictators and being a "non-state hostile intelligence service," at a Center for Strategic and International Studies event on Thursday. He called Assange and his associates "demons" and said "he and his ilk make common cause with dictators."

BREAKING: #WikiLeaks is 'hostile intel' and #Assange & his followers are 'demons' - CIA chief Mike #Pompeo https://t.co/DA5MmJIYWF pic.twitter.com/MjQ87lKJgR

- RT America (@RT_America) April 13, 2017

Assange in turn accused the CIA of producing terrorist groups and dictators. He said the CIA produced Al-Qaeda, referring to the agency's role in arming and training mujahideen fighters in Afghanistan to fight the Soviets during the 1970s, some of whom – including Osama Bin Laden – later evolved into Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

Assange has previously stated that the CIA's role in arming the mujahideen led to Al-Qaeda, which led to 9/11, the Iraq invasion and, later, the formation of ISIS.

The CIA admitted it was behind the 1953 coup in Iran which overthrew Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq and reinstalled the Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, whose 26 year rule led to the 1979 Islamic revolution.

#WikiLeaks releases more than 500k US diplomatic cables from 1979 https://t.co/9Ophyvp2zD

- RT America (@RT_America) November 28, 2016

Assange's Pinochet reference alludes to the CIA's "firm and continuing policy " to assist in the overthrowing of Chilean President Salvador Allende in 1973, and its support for dictator Augusto Pinochet.

Pompeo's attack on WikiLeaks appears to be in response to an op-ed Assange wrote in the Washington Post on Tuesday which referenced President Dwight D. Eisenhower's 1961 farewell speech, in which he warned of the dangers of the influence of the military industrial complex. Assange said the speech is similar to WikiLeaks' own mission statement.

READ MORE: 40 targets in 16 countries: Scale of CIA-linked #Vault7 hacking tools revealed by Symantec

"We publish truths regarding overreaches and abuses conducted in secret by the powerful," he said, going on to say that WikiLeaks' motives are the same as those of the New York Times and the Washington Post.

Pompeo himself has previously appeared to support WikiLeaks' revelations, while President Donald Trump praised the whistleblowing site on more than one occasion during the presidential election, even professing his love for WikiLeaks in October.

[Apr 06, 2017] Susan Rice just called "counter intelligence" the politically motivated surveillance of republicans

Apr 06, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
ilsm -> Peter K, April 05, 2017 at 02:45 PM
In Oct 2016 Obama said "there is no serious/sensible person who believes the US election could be hacked...."

While he said this Susan Rice was "unredacting" the politically motivated surveillance of republicans, calling it "counter intelligence" while none of these people had any critical sensitive information to share unlike Clinton's 30000 e-mails.

Those "unredactings" have been leaked to attempt to discredit the US elections.

Seems Obama was surrounded by no one who was "serious/sensible" but many who used his office to attack the US Bill of Rights.

Since 9 Nov 16 the DNC and its media tools have tried a coup by discrediting the US election using the security apparatus to assault privacy and they got nothing!

[Apr 06, 2017] Scott Uehlinger Susan Rice Unmasking 'Abuse of Power' Violates 'Spirit of the Law,' Should Be 'Further Investigated'

Notable quotes:
"... Breitbart News Daily ..."
Apr 06, 2017 | www.breitbart.com
Former CIA operations officer Scott Uehlinger, co-host of The Station Chief podcast, talked about the Susan Rice "unmasking" story with SiriusXM host Raheem Kassam on Tuesday's Breitbart News Daily.

"I think it's an issue which deeply concerns people like myself and other people, working-level officers in the intel community," Uehlinger said. "Even though at this point, there seems to be no evidence of breaking the law, this 'unmasking' of people was ill-advised at best. I think it really shows that abuse of power and the fact that many people in the Obama administration were willing to violate the spirit of the laws designed to protect Americans, perhaps rather than the law itself."

... ... ...

"As a working-level CIA officer, we were always told by upper authority, you're always told to – and the quote is – 'avoid the appearance of impropriety,'" he said. "Well, this does not pass that smell test, definitely."

Uehlinger said another thing that concerns working-level officers in the intelligence and military communities is "the American people, average Americans like myself, are tired of seeing two sets of rules followed by the higher-ups and then the working-level people."

"This is just part of that again. A working-level officer would have gotten into big trouble doing anything remotely like this," he observed. "But now, we have a lot of people saying that she should just be given a pass."

"While I understand, you know, it's important that the Trump administration has to move forward with its domestic agenda, but these allegations demand to be further investigated," he urged.

Kassam proposed that Democrats and their media would not allow the Trump administration to move forward with any part of its agenda until this "Russia hysteria" is cleaned up. That will be a difficult task since, as Kassam noted, the hysteria has been burning at fever pitch for months without a shred of evidence to back up the wildest allegations.

Uehlinger agreed and addressed Kassam's point that media coverage alternates between "no surveillance was conducted" and "we know everything about Trump's Russia connections."

"The Obama administration relaxed the rule that allowed raw intelligence that was gathered by the NSA to be shared throughout the government," he pointed out. "First of all, to relax that, there is absolutely no operational justification for doing that. With all of the counter-intelligence problems, with espionage, with Snowden, all these things we've had, to raise by an order of magnitude the access to this very sensitive information makes no operational sense at all."

"So for someone to approve that, it's clear they had another intent, and I believe the intent was to allow for further leakage," he charged. "To give more people access, thus more leaks, which, in fact, would hurt the Trump administration. It seems very obvious when you put that together and combine it with the actions of Susan Rice and other people in unmasking people. That is the true purpose behind this."

"I say this as somebody who – you have to remember, when I was a station chief overseas, this is what I was reporting on. I was in countries like Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Kosovo – countries which constantly had the offices of the prime minister or president using the intelligence services to suppress the domestic opposition. So I've been to this rodeo before, many a time. I saw the storm clouds gathering several weeks ago, and everything I've suspected has so far come to fruition," Uehlinger said.

He pronounced it "very disappointing" that such transparent abuse of government power for partisan politics would occur in the United States.

"An intelligence service has to have the trust of the people and the government in order to function effectively," he said. "With all of these scandals happening, and with the name of perhaps the CIA and other intelligence community elements in the mud, this makes the object of protecting our national security more problematic. The agencies have to have the trust of the American people, and they're losing it, because it seems as though they've been weaponized – perhaps, like I said, not breaking the law but playing very close to the line."

Kassam suggested that leaking the information might have been illegal, even if Rice was legally entitled to request information on Donald Trump's campaign and unmask the U.S. persons monitored during surveillance of foreign intelligence targets.

"That's absolutely the case," Uehlinger agreed. He went on to argue that the absence of hard evidence for any wrongdoing by the Trump campaign in all of these leaks was highly significant.

"Since basically the Obama administration has sort of loaded this with these rule changes and all to allow for leaks the fact that there is no 'smoking gun' of Trump administration collusion with Russia indicates that there isn't any. There is nothing substantial here because a juicy morsel like that would certainly have been leaked by the same people that have been leaking everything else. The fact it hasn't been leaked out means it does not exist," he reasoned.

Kassam said some of the Russia hysteria came from imputing sinister motives to conventional business dealings, arguing that Trump's organization made deals around the world, and it is exceedingly difficult to do business with any Russian entity that is not somehow connected to the Russian government.

"That's an excellent point. You're absolutely right," Uehlinger responded. "It shows these people who are doing these gambits are relying on the relative ignorance of the American public of the actual nuts and bolts of intelligence to make their point. Anyone with any background in this stuff can see it for what it is: a desperate attempt to discredit an administration because they were crushed in the past elections."

Breitbart News Daily airs on SiriusXM Patriot 125 weekdays from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. Eastern.

[Apr 04, 2017] Susan Rice asked for unmasking for national security, source says - CBS News

Notable quotes:
"... A Monday report by Bloomberg's Eli Lake said that Rice requested the unmasking of Trump officials. Names of Americans swept up incidentally in the collection of intelligence are normally masked, or kept redacted, in intelligence briefings ..."
"... the former official did not dispute the reporting by Bloomberg. ..."
Apr 04, 2017 | www.cbsnews.com

A Monday report by Bloomberg's Eli Lake said that Rice requested the unmasking of Trump officials. Names of Americans swept up incidentally in the collection of intelligence are normally masked, or kept redacted, in intelligence briefings . However, the law provides for much leeway when it comes to unmasking by National Security Council officials, which suggests that Rice's request was legal.

This type of request was not a special practice related to the Trump transition team, though the former official did not dispute the reporting by Bloomberg.

As a procedural matter, an intelligence briefer would have had to clear a requested unmasking with the head of the agency providing the intelligence. It is unclear why these intelligence intercepts were considered so important that they would need to be shared with the president's national security adviser.

A former national security official told CBS News that when such information on U.S. individuals is approved and provided by the intelligence community, it is typically given directly to the senior official who made the request and is not broadly disseminated.

On some occasions, the official added, it is necessary to know the identity of U.S. persons in order to understand the context and substance of the intelligence. There is nothing improper, unusual or political about such requests.

President Donald Trump tweeted last month that Trump Tower had been wiretapped by President Obama , a claim for which there is still no evidence. Later, House Intelligence chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., said he had obtained evidence showing that the names of Trump associates that were swept up incidentally by intelligence agencies had been unmasked. That evidence is believed to have been provided to Nunes by the White House.

Rice had said that she was unaware of the names of Trump officials being swept up incidentally by intelligence agencies. "I know nothing about this," she told "PBS NewsHour" last month when asked about Nunes' claim.

[Apr 04, 2017] VIDEO Ex-Obama Staffer Who Urged Spying On Trump Predicted 'Quick' Impeachment Weeks Before Election

Apr 04, 2017 | www.breitbart.com
Speaking at a conference two weeks before the 2016 presidential election, Evelyn Farkas, a former top Obama administration official, predicted that if Donald Trump won the presidency he would "be impeached pretty quickly or somebody else would have to take over government," Breitbart News has found.

Farkas served as deputy assistant secretary of defense under the Obama administration. She has been in the spotlight since the news media last week highlighted comments she made on television that seemed to acknowledge efforts by members of the Obama administration to collect intelligence on Trump and members of his campaign.

Now it has emerged that at on October 26, 2016, Farkas made remarks as a panelist at the annual Warsaw Security Forum predicting Trump's removal from office "pretty quickly."

Asked at the event to address the priorities of a future Hillary Clinton administration, Farkas stated:

It's not a done deal, as you said. And so, to the Americans in the audience please vote. And not only vote but get everybody to vote. Because I really believe we need a landslide. We need an absolute repudiation of everything. All of the policies that Donald Trump has put out there. I am not afraid to be political. I am not hiding who I am rooting for. And I think it's very important that we continue to press forward until election day and through election day to make sure that we have the right results.

I do agree however with General Breedlove that even if we have the wrong results from my perspective America is resilient. We have a lot of presidential historians who have put forward very coherent the argument – they have given us examples of all of our horrible presidents in the past and the fact that we have endured. And we do have a strong system of checks and balances. And actually, if Donald Trump were elected I believe he would be impeached pretty quickly or somebody else would have to take over government. And I am not even joking.

Farkas was referring to General Philip Mark Breedlove, another panelist at the conference who served as Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) of NATO Allied Command Operations. The panel discussion was about what to expect following the Nov. 8 presidential election.

Farkas has also been in the news after remarks she made as a contributor on MSNBC on March 2 resurfaced last week. In the comments , she said that she told former Obama administration colleagues to collect intelligence on Trump and campaign officials.

"I was urging my former colleagues and, frankly speaking, the people on the Hill, it was more actually aimed at telling the Hill people, get as much information as you can, get as much intelligence as you can, before President Obama leaves the administration," stated Farkas.

She continued:

Because I had a fear that somehow that information would disappear with the senior [Obama] people who left, so it would be hidden away in the bureaucracy that the Trump folks – if they found out how we knew what we knew about their the Trump staff dealing with Russians – that they would try to compromise those sources and methods, meaning we no longer have access to that intelligence.

The White House has utilized Farkas's statements to bolster the charge that Trump was being illicitly surveilled during the campaign.

White House Spokesman Sean Spicer last week stated :

[I]f you look at Obama's Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense that is out there, Evelyn Farkas, she made it clear that it was their goal to spread this information around, that they went around and did this.

They have admitted on the record that this was their goal - to leak stuff. And they literally - she said on the record "Trump's team." There are serious questions out there about what happened and why and who did it. And I think that's really where our focus is in making sure that that information gets out.

Farkas, a former adviser to Hillary Clinton's campaign, served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia until she resigned in 2015.

She told the Daily Caller last week that she had no access to any intelligence. "I had no intelligence whatsoever, I wasn't in government anymore and didn't have access to any," she said.

Speaking to the Washington Post, Farkas denied being a source of any leaks.

The Post reported:

Farkas, in an interview with The Post, said she "didn't give anybody anything except advice," was not a source for any stories and had nothing to leak. Noting that she left government in October 2015, she said, "I was just watching like anybody else, like a regular spectator" as initial reports of Russia contacts began to surface after the election.

Farkas currently serves as a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, which takes a hawkish approach toward Russia and has released numerous reports and briefs about Russian aggression.

The Council is funded by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Inc., the U.S. State Department, and NATO ACT. Another Council funder is the Ploughshares Fund, which in turn has received financing from billionaire George Soros' Open Society Foundations.

Farkas serves on the Atlantic Council alongside Dmitri Alperovitch, co-founder of CrowdStrike, the third-party company utilized by the FBI to make its assessment about alleged Russian hacking into the Democratic National Committee (DNC). Alperovitch is a nonresident senior fellow of the Cyber Statecraft Initiative at the Atlantic Council.

Last month, FBI Director James Comey confirmed that his agency never had direct access to the DNC's servers to confirm the hacking. "Well, we never got direct access to the machines themselves," he stated. "The DNC in the spring of 2016 hired a firm that ultimately shared with us their forensics from their review of the system."

National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers also stated the NSA never asked for access to the DNC hardware: "The NSA didn't ask for access. That's not in our job."

[Apr 04, 2017] 11 Highlights of Susan Rice's MSNBC Interview with Andrea Mitchel

Apr 04, 2017 | www.breitbart.com
Here are the highlights of Mitchell's interview with Rice, which took up the first quarter-hour of Mitchell's show.
    Rice admitted asking for the names of U.S. citizens in intelligence reports to be "unmasked." Rice said: "There were occasions when I would receive a report in which a U.S. person was referred to. Name not provided, just U.S. person. And sometimes in that context, in order to understand the importance of the report, and assess its significance, it was necessary to find out, or request, the information as to who that U.S. official was." Rice argued it was necessary for her and other officials to request that information, on occasion, to "do our jobs" to protect national security. Rice admitted asking specifically for the names of members of Donald Trump's transition team. She argued that she had not done so for political purposes, however. Mitchell asked: "Did you seek the names of people involved in - to unmask the names of people involved in the Trump transition, the people surrounding the president-elect in order to spy on them and expose them?" Rice answered: "Absolutely not for any political purposes to spy, expose, anything." Rice denied leaking the name of former General Michael Flynn. "I leaked nothing to nobody, and never have, and never would." She added that to discuss particular targets would be to reveal classified information. She later walked back her denial. Mitchell: "The allegation is that you were leaking the fact that he spoke to the [Russian] ambassador and perhaps to others." Rice: "I can't get into any specific reports what I can say is there is an established process." Rice denied reports that she prepared a "spreadsheet" of Trump transition staff under surveillance. Mitchell asked specifically about the Daily Caller story Tuesday: "They allege there was a spreadsheet you put out of all of these names and circulated it." Rice: "Absolutely false. No spreadsheet, no nothing of the sort." She said that unmasked names "was not then typically broadly disseminated throughout the national security community or the government." Rice said that even if she did request the names of citizens to be unmasked, that did not mean she leaked them. "The notion that by asking for the identity of an American person, that is the same as leaking it, is completely false." Rice admitted that the pace of intelligence reports accelerated throughout the election. She said she could not say whether the pace of her "unmasking" requests accelerated, but she said there was increasing concern, as well as increasing information, relating to the possibility of Russian interference in the election, particularly after August 2016. Rice implied that President Obama himself ordered the compilation of intelligence reports on Trump officials. " the president requested the compliation of the intelligence, which was ultimately provided in January [2017]." Rice said that she was unaware, even while working with Flynn during the transition, that he was working for the Turkish government. Mitchell asked: "When did you learn that?" Rice answered: "In the press, as everybody else did." Mitchell, incredulously: "You didn't know that, when you were National Security Advisor?" Rice: "I did not." Rice reiterated that President Obama never tapped Trump's phone. "Absolutely false there was no such collection [or] surveillance on Trump Tower or Trump individuals directed by the White House or targeted at Trump individuals." She did not deny that there might have been some surveillance by other agencies, however. She said it was impossible for the White House to order such surveillance, but that the Department of Justice could have done so. Rice seemed aggrieved by Trump's claims. "It wasn't typical of the way presidents treat their predecessors." Rice would not say whether she would be willing to testify on Capitol Hill before Congress. "Let's see what comes. I'm not going to sit here and prejudge," she said. But she insisted that the investigations into Russian interference in the presidential election were of interest to every American citizen, and should be followed wherever the evidence leads.

[Apr 04, 2017] Report Susan Rice Ordered 'Spreadsheets' of Trump Campaign Calls

Notable quotes:
"... Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the " most influential " people in news media in 2016. His new book, ..."
"... , is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak . ..."
Apr 04, 2017 | www.breitbart.com
President Barack Obama's National Security Advisor, Susan Rice, allegedly ordered surveillance of Donald Trump's campaign aides during the last election, and maintained spreadsheets of their telephone calls, the Daily Caller reports.

The alleged spreadsheets add a new dimension to reports on Sunday and Monday by blogger Mike Cernovich and Eli Lake of Bloomberg News that Rice had asked for Trump aides' names to be "unmasked" in intelligence reports. The alleged "unmasking" may have been legal, but may also have been part of an alleged political intelligence operation to disseminate reports on the Trump campaign widely throughout government with the aim of leaking them to the press.

At the time that radio host Mark Levin and Breitbart News compiled the evidence of surveillance, dissemination, and leaking - all based on mainstream media reports - the mainstream media dismissed the story as a " conspiracy theory ."

Now, however, Democrats are backing away from that allegation, and from broader allegations of Russian collusion with the Trump campaign, as additional details of the Obama administration's alleged surveillance continue to emerge.

The Daily Caller reports :

"What was produced by the intelligence community at the request of Ms. Rice were detailed spreadsheets of intercepted phone calls with unmasked Trump associates in perfectly legal conversations with individuals," diGenova told The Daily Caller News Foundation Investigative Group Monday.

"The overheard conversations involved no illegal activity by anybody of the Trump associates, or anyone they were speaking with," diGenova said. "In short, the only apparent illegal activity was the unmasking of the people in the calls."

The surveillance and spreadsheet operation were allegedly "ordered one year before the 2016 presidential election." According to a Fox News report on Monday, former White House aide Ben Rhodes was also involved.

Rhodes and Rice were both implicated in a disinformation campaign to describe the Benghazi terror attack in Sep. 2012 as a protest against a YouTube video. Rhodes also boasted of creating an " echo chamber " in the media to promote the Iran deal, feeding stories to contrived networks of "experts" who offered the public a steady stream of pro-agreement propaganda.

On Monday, Rhodes retweeted a CNN story quoting Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT) claiming that the alleged unmasking was "nothing unusual."

To the extent they have reported the surveillance story at all, CNN and other news outlets have focused on Trump's tweets last month that alleged President Obama had "wiretapped" Trump Tower, describing the claims as unfounded.

CNN continued treating story dismissively on Monday, with The Lead host Jake Tapper insisting allegations of Russian interference in the election were more important than what he referred to as the president's effort to distract from them.

Later in the day, host Don Lemon declared he would ignore the surveillance story and urged viewers to do likewise.

The potential abuse of surveillance powers for political purposes has long troubled civil libertarians, and could affect the re-authorization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Amendments Act later this year.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the " most influential " people in news media in 2016. His new book, How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution , is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak .

[Apr 04, 2017] Rand Paul Susan Rice 'Ought to Be Under Subpoena,' Asked If Obama Knew About Eavesdropping

Apr 04, 2017 | www.breitbart.com
Tuesday on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) called on former National Security Advisor Susan Rice to be brought in front of Congress under subpoena and asked questions about allegations she was behind the unmasking of American identities in raw surveillance.

Paul also said she should be asked about former President Barack Obama's knowledge of these alleged activities.

"For years, both progressives and libertarians have been complaining about these backdoor searches," Paul said. "It's not that we're searching maybe one foreign leader and who they talk to; we search everything in the whole world. There were reports a couple of years ago that all of Italy's phone calls were absorbed in a one month period of time. We were getting Merkel's phone calls; we were getting everybody's phone calls. But by rebound we are collecting millions of Americans phone calls. If you want to look at an American's phone call or listen to it, you should have to have a warrant, the old fashioned way in a real court where both sides get represented."

"But a secret warrant by a secret court with a lower standard level because we're afraid of terrorism is one thing for foreigners but both myself and a Progressive Ron Wyden have been warning about these back door searches for years and that they could be politicized," he continued. "The facts will come out with Susan Rice. But I think she ought to be under subpoena. She should be asked did you talk to the president about it? Did President Obama know about this? So this is actually, eerily similar to what Trump accused them of which is eavesdropping on conversations for political reasons."

[Apr 04, 2017] 5 Susan Rice Scandal Facts Every American Must Know - Breitbart

Notable quotes:
"... Special Report. ..."
Apr 04, 2017 | www.breitbart.com
Below are five facts from Susan Rice scandals every American should know.

1. Susan Rice allegedly ordered surveillance of Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign aides as part of a political intelligence operation.

Rice allegedly maintained spreadsheets of Trump aides' telephone calls "one year before the 2016 presidential election," according to the Daily Caller.

The Daily Caller reports :

"What was produced by the intelligence community at the request of Ms. Rice were detailed spreadsheets of intercepted phone calls with unmasked Trump associates in perfectly legal conversations with individuals," diGenova told The Daily Caller News Foundation Investigative Group Monday.

"The overheard conversations involved no illegal activity by anybody of the Trump associates, or anyone they were speaking with," diGenova said. "In short, the only apparent illegal activity was the unmasking of the people in the calls."

... ... ...

5. Susan Rice was the driving force behind a misinformation campaign about the Sept. 11, 2012, Benghazi terror attacks.

Then-UN Ambassador Rice, acting as the Obama White House's spokeswoman, appeared on five Sunday morning talk shows and repeatedly claimed that the Benghazi attacks had been caused by an anti-Islam video.

Rice appeared on ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox News, and CNN and regurgitated talking points purporting that the protests that had erupted "spontaneously" near two U.S. government facilities in Benghazi, Libya and were a result of a "hateful video" that was offensive to Islam.

But government documents , released following a Judicial Watch lawsuit, reveal that government officials monitoring the attack in real-time did not cite an anti-Islam video as an explanation for the paramilitary attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi.

In May 2015 interview, former Obama CIA Director Mike Morell said Rice's Benghazi talking points blaming an anti-Islam YouTube video crossed "the line between national security and politics."

"I think the line in there that says one of our objectives here right on the Sunday show is to blame the video rather than a failure of policy," Morell said on Fox News' Special Report. "And as you know, I say in the book that I think that that is crossing the line between national security and politics."

[Apr 04, 2017] The pursuit of Trump may have caught the Obama White House - The Washington Post

Notable quotes:
"... The cacophony of accusations, deflections and distractions has led us to the latest revelation that is causing a "holy cow" double-take, plot-thickening moment in Washington: President Obama's national security adviser, Susan Rice, sought to unmask the identities of Trump aides whose conversations had been collected through routine electronic intercepts of foreign officials' communications. ..."
"... Multiple senators are now demanding her testimony . There could have been crimes committed and a real scandal could develop, so you can bet the full story will be slow to emerge. It appears that Rice has issued the standard denials. And her defenders on Capitol Hill and in the media will do all they can to distract and demand that there is nothing to see here. Democrats and their media allies will continue to make baseless allegations, hoping that the Russia investigations will somehow deliver for them and become this president's Watergate. ..."
"... The result so far? Competing outrage. Just as Democrats are pursuing L-TACs (links, ties, associations or contacts) in search of a crime, the Obama White House's national security adviser has now landed as one of the ones who will have to answer for her actions under oath. ..."
Apr 04, 2017 | www.washingtonpost.com
The pursuit of Trump may have caught the Obama White House - The Washington Post It is said that Watergate wasn't about the crime, but about the coverup. Well, at least in the Watergate scandal, there was a proper crime - specifically, the break-in and wiretapping. The media hasn't even settled on what to call its quest for a potentially nefarious Russia-Trump link. The whole pursuit is vaguely referred to as looking at President Trump's "links," "ties," "associations" or "contacts" with Russia. Since this is Washington, let's give it an acronym: L-TACs. With no end in sight, the manic pursuit of L-TACs has produced a basket of denials, lies, half-baked plots, evasions, one-off non sequiturs, side tracks, conspiracies and suspicions between the Trump administration, Democrats and the media. The frenzy has created a scandal without perpetrators or a crime. There is a sense that Washington is on the brink, but no one can say on the brink of what.

When they have to be specific, some Democrats have settled on the idea that the Trump campaign may have collaborated with Russia on the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and the John Podesta emails. There is no evidence of this, but it is worth remembering a few things. First, the FBI was aware of the DNC hacking when it occurred. This was confirmed again yesterday in Politico's interview with Lisa Monaco , who served as assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism in the Obama White House. She said the hacking was handled as a law enforcement matter. I assume she was referring to when the FBI called the dolts at the DNC, but the DNC took no action.

Then-national security adviser Susan Rice is seen last year on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. (Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press)

And what Earth-shattering insights were revealed as a result of the hacks? That the DNC was in the tank for Hillary Clinton and had been lying to Bernie Sanders. Everybody in Washington already knew that, and it didn't make any difference to Trump. In fact, the revelations gave the Clinton camp a pretext to get rid of DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz - something it wanted to do anyway. Next, Clinton campaign chairman Podesta's emails did not reveal anything beyond Beltway gossip that was only of interest to political junkies. Nothing was revealed that drove any votes. If Russian hackers wanted to harass Podesta, what is the crime that the Trump campaign might have committed?

The cacophony of accusations, deflections and distractions has led us to the latest revelation that is causing a "holy cow" double-take, plot-thickening moment in Washington: President Obama's national security adviser, Susan Rice, sought to unmask the identities of Trump aides whose conversations had been collected through routine electronic intercepts of foreign officials' communications. To unmask, or reveal, the identities of U.S. citizens whose names and conversations were gathered through incidental collection is unusual. And there are more suspicious reasons for Obama's national security adviser to have sought to unmask the identities of Trump campaign aides than there are valid reasons. Rice has a history of a strained relationship with the truth, and for a national security adviser, she has, at times, flown close to the partisan political flame. So, what was going on? Why did she do it? And with whom, in the government and the media, did she share the information?

Multiple senators are now demanding her testimony . There could have been crimes committed and a real scandal could develop, so you can bet the full story will be slow to emerge. It appears that Rice has issued the standard denials. And her defenders on Capitol Hill and in the media will do all they can to distract and demand that there is nothing to see here. Democrats and their media allies will continue to make baseless allegations, hoping that the Russia investigations will somehow deliver for them and become this president's Watergate.

The result so far? Competing outrage. Just as Democrats are pursuing L-TACs (links, ties, associations or contacts) in search of a crime, the Obama White House's national security adviser has now landed as one of the ones who will have to answer for her actions under oath.

Washington is as scandal-primed as I've ever seen it - there is a lot of smoke right now, but no clear fire. So the noise and finger-pointing will continue. And I have no idea who is winning. The pursuit of Trump may have caught the Obama White House - The Washington Post Ed Rogers is a contributor to the PostPartisan blog, a political consultant and a veteran of the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush White Houses and several national campaigns. He is the chairman of the lobbying and communications firm BGR Group, which he founded with former Mississippi governor Haley Barbour in 1991. Follow @EdRogersDC

Bigly Fan 5:38 PM EDT
How did Ed slip this article past the Wapo /DNC/Loony Left /Bezos Puppet editors?
theworm1 5:37 PM EDT
"The whole pursuit [ of Trump's Russian engagement] is vaguely referred to as looking at President Trump's "links', 'ties', 'associations' or 'contacts'"

These are the same nouns the media uses to describe the alleged "connections" between al Qaeda and Saddam and between ISIS and whoever we dont like today.

They carry meaning or they dont. I think most people think they do.

Io fifty 5:37 PM EDT
I just read in Breitbart, sure you have too Mr. Rogers ...... that Ms. Rice kept a 'spreadsheet' of phone calls taking place within the Trump campaign. Will that be in the next installment of this ongoing drama?

[Apr 04, 2017] Top Obama Adviser Sought Names of Trump Associates in Intel by Eli Lake

Apr 04, 2017 | www.bloomberg.com
White House lawyers last month learned that the former national security adviser Susan Rice requested the identities of U.S. persons in raw intelligence reports on dozens of occasions that connect to the Donald Trump transition and campaign, according to U.S. officials familiar with the matter.

The pattern of Rice's requests was discovered in a National Security Council review of the government's policy on "unmasking" the identities of individuals in the U.S. who are not targets of electronic eavesdropping, but whose communications are collected incidentally. Normally those names are redacted from summaries of monitored conversations and appear in reports as something like "U.S. Person One."

The National Security Council's senior director for intelligence, Ezra Cohen-Watnick, was conducting the review, according to two U.S. officials who spoke with Bloomberg View on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it publicly. In February Cohen-Watnick discovered Rice's multiple requests to unmask U.S. persons in intelligence reports that related to Trump transition activities. He brought this to the attention of the White House General Counsel's office, who reviewed more of Rice's requests and instructed him to end his own research into the unmasking policy.

The intelligence reports were summaries of monitored conversations -- primarily between foreign officials discussing the Trump transition, but also in some cases direct contact between members of the Trump team and monitored foreign officials. One U.S. official familiar with the reports said they contained valuable political information on the Trump transition such as whom the Trump team was meeting, the views of Trump associates on foreign policy matters and plans for the incoming administration.

Rice did not respond to an email seeking comment on Monday morning. Her role in requesting the identities of Trump transition officials adds an important element to the dueling investigations surrounding the Trump White House since the president's inauguration.

Both the House and Senate intelligence committees are probing any ties between Trump associates and a Russian influence operation against Hillary Clinton during the election. The chairman of the House intelligence committee, Representative Devin Nunes, is also investigating how the Obama White House kept tabs on the Trump transition after the election through unmasking the names of Trump associates incidentally collected in government eavesdropping of foreign officials.

Rice herself has not spoken directly on the issue of unmasking. Last month when she was asked on the "PBS NewsHour" about reports that Trump transition officials, including Trump himself, were swept up in incidental intelligence collection, Rice said : "I know nothing about this," adding, "I was surprised to see reports from Chairman Nunes on that account today."

Rice's requests to unmask the names of Trump transition officials do not vindicate Trump's own tweets from March 4 in which he accused Obama of illegally tapping Trump Tower. There remains no evidence to support that claim.

But Rice's multiple requests to learn the identities of Trump officials discussed in intelligence reports during the transition period does highlight a longstanding concern for civil liberties advocates about U.S. surveillance programs. The standard for senior officials to learn the names of U.S. persons incidentally collected is that it must have some foreign intelligence value, a standard that can apply to almost anything. This suggests Rice's unmasking requests were likely within the law.

The news about Rice also sheds light on the strange behavior of Nunes in the last two weeks. It emerged last week that he traveled to the White House last month, the night before he made an explosive allegation about Trump transition officials caught up in incidental surveillance. At the time he said he needed to go to the White House because the reports were only on a database for the executive branch. It now appears that he needed to view computer systems within the National Security Council that would include the logs of Rice's requests to unmask U.S. persons.

The ranking Democrat on the committee Nunes chairs, Representative Adam Schiff, viewed these reports on Friday. In comments to the press over the weekend he declined to discuss the contents of these reports, but also said it was highly unusual for the reports to be shown only to Nunes and not himself and other members of the committee.

Indeed, much about this is highly unusual: if not how the surveillance was collected, then certainly how and why it was disseminated.

[Apr 04, 2017] Obama administration spying included press, allies, Americans Fox News

Apr 04, 2017 | www.foxnews.com

As the facts about who surveilled whom during the transition get sorted out, it is useful to remember why Trump's team and his supporters have reason to be suspicious, thanks to a long documented history of Obama using shady surveillance tactics on both political opponents and international allies. Rhodes himself knows this history but that doesn't seem to matter as he once again attempts to make people believe he fell out of the sky and onto Twitter on January 21st, 2017.

... ... ...

1. Fox News reporter James Rosen

In 2013 the news broke that Eric Holder's Justice Department had spied on James Rosen . Obama's DOJ collected Rosen's telephone records as well as tracked his movements to and from the State Department from where he reported. Rosen was named as a possible co-conspirator in a Justice Department affidavit. Rosen claims that his parents phone line was also swept up in the collection of his records and DOJ records seem to confirm that. Despite the targeting of Rosen, there were no brave calls to boycott the White House Correspondents Dinner.

2. Senate Intelligence Committee and the CIA

CIA officers penetrated a network used to share information by Senate Intel committee members, including Sen. Diane Feinstein, the committee's Democrat chair. The bombshell New York Times report went on to disclose:

The C.I.A. officials penetrated the computer network when they came to suspect that the committee's staff had gained unauthorized access to an internal C.I.A. review of the detention program that the spy agency never intended to give to Congress. A C.I.A. lawyer then referred the agency's suspicions to the Justice Department to determine whether the committee staff broke the law when it obtained that document. The inspector general report said that there was no "factual basis" for this referral, which the Justice Department has declined to investigate, because the lawyer had been provided inaccurate information. The report said that the three information technology officers "demonstrated a lack of candor about their activities" during interviews with the inspector general.

The Obama White House defended CIA director John Brennan's actions and response. Imagine that.

3. Associated Press Phone Records

Much like James Rosen and his shady al Qaeda looking parents, Obama's Justice Department secretly obtained months of phone records belonging to AP journalists while investigating a failed terror attack. And much like the Rosen spying, this was personally approved by Attorney General Holder.

Mass surveillance and expansion of such under the Patriot Act is one of the most historically prevalent things about the Obama administration. There's even a Wikipedia page dedicated to that alone . So why do the media and former administration officials act shocked and surprised when someone points the finger in their direction and asks if targeting an incoming President is possible?

There is a long, decorated history of questionable-even unconstitutional-surveillance from the Obama administration none of which proves Trump's twitter ravings to be true. But it certainly is enough to raise suspicions among Trump's supporters and even some of this critics that he could be perfectly correct.

[Apr 04, 2017] Susan Rice requested to unmask names of Trump transition officials, sources say Fox News

Apr 04, 2017 | www.foxnews.com
Multiple sources tell Fox News that Susan Rice, former national security adviser under then-President Barack Obama, requested to unmask the names of Trump transition officials caught up in surveillance.

The unmasked names, of people associated with Donald Trump, were then sent to all those at the National Security Council, some at the Defense Department, then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and then-CIA Director John Brennan – essentially, the officials at the top, including former Rice deputy Ben Rhodes.

The names were part of incidental electronic surveillance of candidate and President-elect Trump and people close to him, including family members, for up to a year before he took office.

It was not clear how Rice knew to ask for the names to be unmasked, but the question was being posed by the sources late Monday.

... ... ...

This comes in the wake of Evelyn Farkas' television interview last month in which the former Obama deputy secretary of defense said in part: "I was urging my former colleagues and, frankly speaking, the people on the Hill – it was more actually aimed at telling the Hill people, get as much information as you can, get as much intelligence as you can, before President Obama leaves the administration."

... ... ...

As the Obama administration left office, it also approved new rules that gave the NSA much broader powers by relaxing the rules about sharing intercepted personal communications and the ability to share those with 16 other intelligence agencies.

... ... ...

Rice is no stranger to controversy. As the U.S. Ambassador to the UN, she appeared on several Sunday news shows to defend the adminstration's later debunked claim that the Sept. 11, 2012 attacks on a U.S. consulate in Libya was triggered by an Internet video.

[Apr 04, 2017] Susan Rice Responds To Trump Unmasking Allegations I Leaked Nothing To Nobody

Apr 04, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com

If anyone expected former National Security Advisor Susan Rice, the same Susan Rice who "stretched the truth" about Benghazi, to admit in her first public appearance after news that she unmasked members of the Trump team to admit she did something wrong, will be disappointed. Instead, moments ago she told MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell that she categorically denied that the Obama administration inappropriately spied on members of the Trump transition team.

"The allegation is that somehow, Obama administration officials utilized intelligence for political purposes," Rice told Mitchell. " That's absolutely false.... My job is to protect the American people and the security of our country. "

"There was no such collection or surveillance on Trump Tower or Trump individuals, it is important to understand, directed by the White House or targeted at Trump individuals," Rice said.

EXCLUSIVE: Susan Rice says the claim that intelligence was used for political purposes is "absolutely false" Watch: https://t.co/JdbgCtSgEN

- MSNBC (@MSNBC) April 4, 2017

"I don't solicit reports," Rice said Tuesday. "They're giving it to me, if I read it, and I think that in order for me to understand, is it significant or not so significant, I need to know who the 'U.S. Person' is, I can make that request." She did concede that it is "possible" the Trump team was picked up in "incidental surveillance."

"The notion, which some people are trying to suggest, that by asking for the identity of the American person is the same is leaking it - that's completely false," Rice said. "There is no equivalence between so-called unmasking and leaking."

Watch: Susan Rice tells @mitchellreports it is "possible" the Trump team was picked up in incidental surveillance https://t.co/nTHeqx8zlr

- MSNBC (@MSNBC) April 4, 2017

That said, Rice did not discuss what motive she may have had behind what Bloomberg, Fox and others have confirmed, was her unmasking of members of the Trump team.

Rice also flatly denied exposing President Trump's former national security advisor Michael Flynn, who was forced to resign in February after media reports revealed that he misled Vice President Pence about the contents of a phone call with the Russian ambassador. Asked by Mitchell if she seeked to unmask the names of people involved in the Trump campaign in order to spy on them, Rice says: "absolutely not, for any political purpose, to spy, expose, anything." And yet, that is what happened. She was then asked if she leaked if she leaked the name of Mike Flynn: "I leaked nothing to nobody."

WATCH: Susan Rice insists "I leaked nothing to nobody" https://t.co/kAsbu4VJDN

- MSNBC (@MSNBC) April 4, 2017

In a follow up question, Rice said that when it comes to Mike Flynn with whom she had "civil and cordial relations", that she learned "in the press" that he was an unregistered agent for the Turkish government.

WATCH: Susan Rice says she learned from the press that Flynn was an unregistered agent for the Turkish government https://t.co/xD41R2fbBL

- MSNBC (@MSNBC) April 4, 2017

We doubt that anyone's opinion will change after hearing the above especially considering that, in addition to Benghazi, Rice is the official who praised Bowe Bergdahl for his "honorable service" and claimed he was captured "on the battlefield", and then just two weeks ago, she told PBS that she didn't know anything about the unmasking.

It is thus hardly surprising that now that her memory has been "refreshed" about her role in the unmasking, that Rice clearly remembers doing nothing at all wrong.

On Monday night, Rand Paul and other Republicans called for Rice to testify under oath, a request she sidestepped on Tuesday. "Let's see what comes," she told Mitchell, when asked if she would testify on the matter. "I'm not going to sit here and prejudge."

[Apr 03, 2017] Mike Morell CIA leak an inside job

Apr 03, 2017 | www.youtube.com
Mar 11, 2017

Employees of the Central Intelligence Agency find themselves in challenging times. The agency is dealing with the release by WikiLeaks of top-secret documents, apparently detailing highly-classified surveillance methods, and a fraught relationship with President Trump, who has criticized the intelligence community ever since he campaigned for president. CBS News senior security contributor Michael Morell, former deputy director of the CIA, discusses the state of the agency, and what it means for America's security.

Get the latest news and best in original reporting from CBS News delivered to your inbox. Subscribe to newsletters HERE: http://cbsn.ws/1RqHw7T

Get your news on the go! Download CBS News mobile apps HERE: http://cbsn.ws/1Xb1WC8

Get new episodes of shows you love across devices the next day, stream local news live, and watch full seasons of CBS fan favorites anytime, anywhere with CBS All Access. Try it free! http://bit.ly/1OQA29B

---
Delivered by Charlie Rose, Norah O'Donnell and Gayle King, "CBS This Morning" offers a thoughtful, substantive and insightful source of news and information to a daily audience of 3 million viewers. The Emmy Award-winning broadcast presents a mix of daily news, coverage of developing stories of national and global significance, and interviews with leading figures in politics, business and entertainment. Check local listings for "CBS This Morning" broadcast times. Geral Hammonds 3 weeks ago

Jfk wanted to disband the CIA (Military industrial complex ) and i guess the CIA didn't like that very much and let Kennedy know how kuch they didn't like that in the most violent way possible, :(. And its really strange that the democrats are pro deep state, pro war, just advocates for the CIA. But then again anything an anyone that is anti Trump is goo for them, Since the guy from the apprentice has completely devistated them as individuals and as a political party.
Diane Watson 3 weeks ago
Sure, the CIA always follows the law, I'm sure American citizens have never been targeted by them....uh-huh.

econogate 3 weeks ago
And monkeys fly out my butt.
busymountain 2 weeks ago
The US government and president is not your customer - you are our employee.
Yvette Campos 2 weeks ago
At 2:25 , Hillary supporter Mike Morell even admits that someone in the Obama CIA leaked info. Reports are that in December, 2016, a small group of IT contractors gave the info to WikiLeaks. Obama has other people do the dirty work for him.
Peter Lemmon 3 weeks ago
CIA killed journalist Mike Hastings with remote crashing his car. CIA has surpassed the authority of the NSA. CIA has no oversight, not even by President Trump. They are colluding with media to destroy Trump's presidency via revealing lies manufactured to bring criminal charges on him.

CIA is out of control, need the entire senior officers fired, investigated, charged and imprisoned or executed for treason & espionage & Title 8. If CIA does this to a president, they will do it to Americans who interfere with their criminal activities world-wide.

Rezarf 3 weeks ago
another MSM whitewash .... a ex CIA talking head minimising the illegalities of CIA actions and promoting a big $$$$ spend on an upgrade of CIA systems.... no doubt the US zombie public will swallow it hook line and sinker. There is no future for the US , it will either cause a WW3 scenario or disintegrate in to an internal civil conflict....
I. Sokolov 3 weeks ago
Mike Morell interview reveal it ia an inside job and many in the CIA is disillusioned, demoralized, and become Whistle Blowers! There have been to many scandals and leaks. The entire US Intelligence INDUSTRY must be dismantled and then rebuild. \

It is deeply troubling that sensitive data that can create huge problems is released. There is too many with security clearance to look at the data. Security clearance should only be given for the data relevant to do their job. The NSA collects all our data, all the time, and can query/search the database for something as simple as a phone number, IP address, bank account or name.

If the NSA, FBI, or CIA wants email or phone calls, on Trump or Flynn all they must do is query their name or phone number or email and date range. Bingo, they got it! This is going on 24/7. They capture all data flowing through the major fiber optic lines in the US. Over 5,000 people in the intel community are assigned to do nothing but mine this data.The NSA, CIA, and FBI have access to the information realtime, anytime! All of this is done without a warrant. Hell, who needs a FISA request? They have everything, and thousands of intel personnel have access to the information! You wonder why Jim Comey and others are freaking out! This is totally illegal. It was part of an Executive Order issued with the intent of pursuing drug dealers and know criminals NOT spying on the American people, but of course they wouldn't do that, or Would They? Businesses world-wide has now to spend large sums of money protecting themselves against CIA criminally invented malware and viruses. More than 1,5 BILLION phones and computers using Apple or Android operating system is affected. So far only 1% of Vault 7 released. What if the remaining 99% contain top-secret information on US neuro science programs (Mind and Mass Control). No problem, if this top-secret programs falls into the hands of Russia or China, since their neuro science programs is even better, but it would be a catastrophe if Mr. Kim in North Korea got hold of it and continued developing it.

[Apr 02, 2017] How Obama White House Weaponized Media Against Trump

Notable quotes:
"... Regardless of how the government collected on Flynn, the leak was a felony and a violation of his civil rights. ..."
"... The leaking of Flynn's name was part of what can only be described as a White House campaign to hype the Russian threat and, at the same time, to depict Trump as Vladimir Putin's Manchurian candidate. ..."
"... On Dec. 29, Obama announced sanctions against Russia as retribution for its hacking activities. From that date until Trump's inauguration, the White House aggressively pumped into the media two streams of information: one about Russian hacking; the other about Trump's Russia connection. In the hands of sympathetic reporters, the two streams blended into one. ..."
"... On Dec. 30, the Washington Post reported on a Russian effort to penetrate the electricity grid by hacking into a Vermont utility, Burlington Electric Department. After noting the breach, the reporters offered a senior administration official to speculate on the Russians' motives. Did they seek to crash the system, or just to probe it? ..."
"... This infrastructure hack, the story continued, was part of a broader hacking campaign that included intervention in the election. The story then moved to Trump: "He has spoken highly of Russian President Vladimir Putin, despite President Obama's suggestion that the approval for hacking came from the highest levels of the Kremlin." ..."
"... Especially damaging were the hundreds of Internet addresses, supposedly linked to Russian hacking, that the report contained. The FBI and DHS urged network administrators to load the addresses into their system defenses. Some of the addresses, however, belong to platforms that are widely used by the public, including Yahoo servers. At Burlington Electric, an unsuspecting network administrator dutifully loaded the addresses into the monitoring system of the utility's network. When an employee checked his email, it registered on the system as if Russian hackers were trying to break in. ..."
"... While the White House was hyping the Russia threat, elements of the press showed a sudden interest in the infamous Steele dossier, which claimed that Russian intelligence services had caught Trump in Moscow in highly compromising situations. The dossier was opposition research paid for by Trump's political opponents, and it had circulated for months among reporters covering the election. Because it was based on anonymous sources and entirely unverifiable, however, no reputable news organization had dared to touch it. ..."
"... With a little help from the Obama White House, the dossier became fair game for reporters. A government leak let it be known that the intelligence community had briefed Trump on the dossier. If the president-elect was discussing it with his intelligence briefers, so the reasoning went, perhaps there was something to it after all. ..."
Apr 02, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com
Authored op-ed by Michael Doran via The Hill,

Senator Chuck Schumer and Congressman Adam Schiff have both castigated Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, for his handling of the inquiry into Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election. They should think twice. The issue that has recently seized Nunes is of vital importance to anyone who cares about fundamental civil liberties.

The trail that Nunes is following will inevitably lead back to a particularly significant leak . On Jan. 12, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius reported that "according to a senior U.S. government official, (General Mike) Flynn phoned Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak several times on Dec. 29."

From Nunes's statements, it's clear that he suspects that this information came from NSA intercepts of Kislyak's phone . An Obama official, probably in the White House, "unmasked" Flynn's name and passed it on to Ignatius.

Regardless of how the government collected on Flynn, the leak was a felony and a violation of his civil rights. But it was also a severe breach of the public trust. When I worked as an NSC staffer in the White House, 2005-2007, I read dozens of NSA surveillance reports every day. On the basis of my familiarity with this system, I strongly suspect that someone in the Obama White House blew a hole in the thin wall that prevents the government from using information collected from surveillance to destroy the lives of the citizens whose privacy it is pledged to protect.

The leaking of Flynn's name was part of what can only be described as a White House campaign to hype the Russian threat and, at the same time, to depict Trump as Vladimir Putin's Manchurian candidate.

On Dec. 29, Obama announced sanctions against Russia as retribution for its hacking activities. From that date until Trump's inauguration, the White House aggressively pumped into the media two streams of information: one about Russian hacking; the other about Trump's Russia connection. In the hands of sympathetic reporters, the two streams blended into one.

A report that appeared the day after Obama announced the sanctions shows how. On Dec. 30, the Washington Post reported on a Russian effort to penetrate the electricity grid by hacking into a Vermont utility, Burlington Electric Department. After noting the breach, the reporters offered a senior administration official to speculate on the Russians' motives. Did they seek to crash the system, or just to probe it?

This infrastructure hack, the story continued, was part of a broader hacking campaign that included intervention in the election. The story then moved to Trump: "He has spoken highly of Russian President Vladimir Putin, despite President Obama's suggestion that the approval for hacking came from the highest levels of the Kremlin."

The national media mimicked the Post's reporting. But there was a problem: the hack never happened . It was a false alarm - triggered, it eventually became clear, by Obama's hype.

On Dec. 29, the DHS and FBI published a report on Russian hacking, which showed the telltale signs of having been rushed to publication. "At every level this report is a failure," said cyber security expert Robert M. Lee. "It didn't do what it set out to do, and it didn't provide useful data. They're handing out bad information."

Especially damaging were the hundreds of Internet addresses, supposedly linked to Russian hacking, that the report contained. The FBI and DHS urged network administrators to load the addresses into their system defenses. Some of the addresses, however, belong to platforms that are widely used by the public, including Yahoo servers. At Burlington Electric, an unsuspecting network administrator dutifully loaded the addresses into the monitoring system of the utility's network. When an employee checked his email, it registered on the system as if Russian hackers were trying to break in.

While the White House was hyping the Russia threat, elements of the press showed a sudden interest in the infamous Steele dossier, which claimed that Russian intelligence services had caught Trump in Moscow in highly compromising situations. The dossier was opposition research paid for by Trump's political opponents, and it had circulated for months among reporters covering the election. Because it was based on anonymous sources and entirely unverifiable, however, no reputable news organization had dared to touch it.

With a little help from the Obama White House, the dossier became fair game for reporters. A government leak let it be known that the intelligence community had briefed Trump on the dossier. If the president-elect was discussing it with his intelligence briefers, so the reasoning went, perhaps there was something to it after all.

By turning the dossier into hard news, that leak weaponized malicious gossip. The same is true of the Flynn-Kislyak leak. Ignatius used the leak to deepen speculation about collusion between Putin and Trump: "What did Flynn say (to Kislyak)," Ignatius asked, "and did it undercut the U.S. sanctions?" The mere fact that Flynn's conversations were being monitored deepened his appearance of guilt. If he was innocent, why was the government monitoring him?

It should not have been. He had the right to talk to in private - even to a Russian ambassador. Regardless of what one thinks about him or Trump or Putin, this leak should concern anyone who believes that we must erect a firewall between the national security state and our domestic politics. The system that allowed it to happen must be reformed. At stake is a core principle of our democracy: that elected representatives control the government, and not vice versa.

[Apr 02, 2017] DNI Clapper Statement on Conversation with President-elect Trump

Apr 02, 2017 | www.dni.gov
Wednesday, January 11, 2017

DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE
WASHINGTON, DC 20511

January 11, 2017

DNI Clapper Statement on Conversation with President-elect Trump


This evening, I had the opportunity to speak with President-elect Donald Trump to discuss recent media reports about our briefing last Friday. I expressed my profound dismay at the leaks that have been appearing in the press, and we both agreed that they are extremely corrosive and damaging to our national security.

We also discussed the private security company document, which was widely circulated in recent months among the media, members of Congress and Congressional staff even before the IC became aware of it. I emphasized that this document is not a U.S. Intelligence Community product and that I do not believe the leaks came from within the IC. The IC has not made any judgment that the information in this document is reliable, and we did not rely upon it in any way for our conclusions. However, part of our obligation is to ensure that policymakers are provided with the fullest possible picture of any matters that might affect national security.

President-elect Trump again affirmed his appreciation for all the men and women serving in the Intelligence Community, and I assured him that the IC stands ready to serve his Administration and the American people.

James R. Clapper, Director of National Intelligence

[Apr 02, 2017] If True, Does Not Get Much Bigger Trump Tweets About Very Well Known Intel Official Behind Trump Unmasking Zero Hedge

Apr 02, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com
After slamming NBC's coverage of the "Fake Trump/Russia story", congratulating the NYTimes for "finally getting it" on Obamacare, Trump on Saturday commented on the previously discussed Fox News story about a "very senior, very well known" U.S. intelligence official who was allegedly involved in unmasking the names of Trump associates, and who had reprotedly surveilled Trump before the nomination.

"Wow, @FoxNews just reporting big news. Source: 'Official behind unmasking is high up. Known Intel official is responsible. Some unmasked not associated with Russia. Trump team spied on before he was nominated. If this is true, does not get much bigger. Would be sad for U.S.," he added.

Wow, @FoxNews just reporting big news. Source: "Official behind unmasking is high up. Known Intel official is responsible. Some unmasked....

- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 1, 2017

..not associated with Russia. Trump team spied on before he was nominated." If this is true, does not get much bigger. Would be sad for U.S.

- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 1, 2017

As discussed Friday night , A Fox News source (unnamed, because these days that's all there is, just ask the NYT and Wapo) said that the U.S. official behind the systematic unmasking of Trump associates and private individuals was "very well known, very high up, very senior in the intelligence world" and was doing so for political, not nationa security reasons, intent on "hurting and embarrassing Trump and his team." In other words, another intel agency war between the old, pro-Hillary Clinton, guard and the new administration.

Additionally, the Friday Fox News report cited "a number of sources" with claims that not only were the two White House officials not the sources of the information shared with Nunes, but that Nunes knew of the information in January, and that the agencies where the information came from had blocked Nunes from gaining access to it. Further, the report cited officials within the agencies who said they were frustrated with the spreading of names for political purposes.

"Our sources, who have direct knowledge of what took place, were upset because those two individuals, they say, had nothing to do with the outing of this information," Fox reported.

"We've learned that the surveillance that led to the unmasking of what started way before President Trump was even the GOP nominee," Fox News reported Adam Housley said. "The person who did the unmasking, I'm told, is very well known, very high up, very senior in the intelligence world and is not in the FBI."

"This led to other surveillance which led to multiple names being unmasked. Again these are private citizens in the United States," said Housley. " This had nothing to do with Russia, I'm told, or foreign intelligence of any kind."

"Fox also learned that an individual with direct knowledge that after Nunes had been approached by his source, the agencies basically would not allow him in at all," said Housley.

Understandably, the Fox News report has gotten zero media attention on any other news outlet.

For those who missed the original report from Friday night , it is reproduced below.

* * *

Intel Official Behind "Unmasking" Of Trump Associates Is "Very Senior, Very Well Known"

Day after day, various media outlets, well really mostly the NYT and WaPo, have delivered Trump-administration-incriminating, Russia-link-related tape bombs sourced via leaks (in the hope of keeping the narrative alive and "resisting."). It now turns out, according to FXN report , that the US official who "unmasked" the names of multiple private citizens affiliated with the Trump team is someone " very well known, very high up, very senior in the intelligence world."

As Malia Zimmerman and Adam Housley report , intelligence and House sources with direct knowledge of the disclosure of classified names (yes, yet another "unnamed source") said that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, now knows who is responsible - and that person is not in the FBI (i.e. it is not James Comey)

Housley said his sources were motivated to come forward by a New York Times report yesterday which reportedly outed two people who helped Nunes access information during a meeting in the Old Executive Office Building. However, Housley's sources claim the two people who helped Nunes "navigate" to the information were not his sources. In fact, Nunes had been aware of the information since January (long before Trump's 'wiretap' tweet) but had been unable to view the documents themselves because of "stonewalling" by the agencies in question.

Our sources: This surveillance that led to the unmasking of private names of American citizens started before Trump was the GOP nominee.

- Adam Housley (@adamhousley) March 31, 2017

Our sources:The person who did the unmasking is "very well known, very high up, very senior, in the intelligence world & is not in the FBI

- Adam Housley (@adamhousley) March 31, 2017

Our sources: Unmasking the names and then spreading the names was for political purposes that have nothing to do with national security

- Adam Housley (@adamhousley) March 31, 2017

Our sources: "It had everything to do with hurting and embarrassing Trump and his team"

- Adam Housley (@adamhousley) March 31, 2017

For a private citizen to be "unmasked," or named, in an intelligence report is extremely rare. Typically, the American is a suspect in a crime, is in danger or has to be named to explain the context of the report.

"The main issue in this case, is not only the unmasking of these names of private citizens, but the spreading of these names for political purposes that have nothing to do with national security or an investigation into Russia's interference in the U.S. election," a congressional source close to the investigation told Fox News .

The White House, meanwhile, is urging Nunes and his colleagues to keep pursuing what improper surveillance and leaks may have occurred before Trump took office. They've been emboldened in the wake of March 2 comments from former Obama administration official Evelyn Farkas, who on MSNBC suggested her former colleagues tried to gather material on Trump team contacts with Russia.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Friday her comments and other reports raise "serious" concerns about whether there was an "organized and widespread effort by the Obama administration to use and leak highly sensitive intelligence information for political purposes."

"Dr. Farkas' admissions alone are devastating," he said.

Clearly this confirms what Evelyn Farakas said, accidentally implicated the Obama White House in the surveillance of Trump's campaign staff:

The Trump folks, if they found out how we knew what we knew about the Trump staff dealing with Russians, that they would try to compromise those sources and methods , meaning we would not longer have access to that intelligence.

Furthermore, Farkas effectively corroborated a New York Times article from early March which cited "Former American officials" as their anonymous source regarding efforts to leak this surveillance on the Trump team to Democrats across Washington DC.

* * *

In addition, citizens affiliated with Trump's team who were unmasked were not associated with any intelligence about Russia or other foreign intelligence, sources confirmed. The initial unmasking led to other surveillance, which led to other private citizens being wrongly unmasked, sources said.

" Unmasking is not unprecedented, but unmasking for political purposes ... specifically of Trump transition team members ... is highly suspect and questionable ," according to an intelligence source. "Opposition by some in the intelligence agencies who were very connected to the Obama and Clinton teams was strong. After Trump was elected, they decided they were going to ruin his presidency by picking them off one by one."

* * *

So if the source isn't Comey, has anyone seen Jim Clapper recently? The answer should emerge soon, meanwhile the ridiculous game with very high stakes of spy vs spy, or in this case source vs source, continues.

The report summarized below in video format:

mcl2177 , Apr 1, 2017 9:42 PM

I wish Flynn would testify. He knows everything.

dexter_morgan -> mcl2177 , Apr 1, 2017 9:49 PM

Probably why they don't want him testifying.

Chris Dakota -> mcl2177 , Apr 1, 2017 9:53 PM

He knows there is nothing there.

He did what anyone would do in his position, talk to the Russian ambassador.

He was a lobbyist, they all do the revolving door.

Russia does not want to be attacked, no shit? eh?

They want their naval bases, go figure...

This is all horseshit the goal is preventing Trump from having a productive and cooperative relationship with Putin.

espirit -> Chris Dakota , Apr 1, 2017 9:59 PM

^ BINGO ^

Flynn 'might' reveal complict players. Somebody has skeletons in their closets.

Putin has the goods.

bardot63 , Apr 1, 2017 9:48 PM

So sorry. Journalism is shit. Very tired of 'source' stories. Cannot trust any of this crap. Breathless reporters --"We've been talking to sources...." BFD. Give me a fucking break. Fox tries a little bit of the time, but Fox is no better than NBC or CNN. Journalists today have no courage. They write these stories for each other, not for me and you.

East Indian -> bardot63 , Apr 1, 2017 9:59 PM

There are no journalists; they are simply pritning whatever they are given by the "sources". They show no curiosity, no suspicion, too credulous to be a journalist and these are really end times for the MSM.

BobEore -> East Indian , Apr 1, 2017 11:20 PM

There are no journalists.

You are correct. They have been exterminated ... along with the need for truth in media. Since 9-11, all over the world there has been a concerted and determined effort to target and remove all those who would stay true to the principles of that craft. And, to in their place, raise up a raft of imitators who style themselves reporters, but need have no accountability, nor take the trouble to ever leave their computer screens to go and "follow" a story.

But what most folks don't see is that this faux-journalism is a direct consequence of the so-called 'new media' - packaged as "alternative media" in order to seem a challenge and opposition to special interest groups controlling all communication channels - but actually just more special interests with even less accountability!

"There is no longer a stage, not even the minimal illusion that makes events capable of adopting the force of reality-no more stage either of mental or political solidarity : Only the medium can make an event - whatever the contents, whether they are conformist or subversive. AND - There are no more media in the literal sense of the word - that is, of a mediating power between one reality and another, between one state of the real and another."

The role of medias, in other words, has switched from 'mediating' between real events and the reader... to medicating the reader with concocted storylines custom made to appeal to the pre-existing information preferences of same.

Even more ominously, with the arrival of the TRUMP TWITTER medium, we reach the full blossoming of the point predicted last year - when a government staged a coup against itself, using the tools of social media to coverup their ruse! https://storify.com/SuaveBel/requiem-for-the-media

"The State has subsumed the role and space of "the media" in organizing and communicating with "the people." It has re-defined the terms "democracy" and "participation" on it's own terms, and in picking up the social media tools which had formerly belonged to "the people" as a network of communicants, relegated "the media" to the role of gelded hierophant!"

All of which has been blandly accepted and passed over by a web-entranced audience which has given over critical thinking skills to a cabal of 'communications experts' determined to put the lie to that old adage - 'you can't fool all of the people, all of the time!'

Giant Meteor -> BobEore , Apr 1, 2017 11:32 PM

Never seen it put this well. Outstanding.

peippe , Apr 1, 2017 9:57 PM

why isn't obalamo apologizing for all this misfeasance?

that would wrap it up in a hurry.

he's useless even in retirement. true douche bag.

silence is getting weird.

chubbar , Apr 1, 2017 9:58 PM

They got that fucker now, whom ever it was. I hope we can finally see some of the other media pick up on this blockbuster story, probably not though, they are completely out of their minds with irrationality.

I'd like to see Clapper get 10 years in buttfuck prison where leroy and shantis practice using their 10" BBCs to make him watertight. Whom ever did this is a complete piece of shit just like most of the other libtards that don't give a shit about the rule of law or basic fairness.

Either way, the cat's out of the bag and CNN, et al, won't be able to ignore this much longer. This story, unlike the Russian fairy tale, actually has some proof and they will get to the bottom of this crime.

erkme73 -> chubbar , Apr 1, 2017 10:19 PM

I wish (and hope) you're right. But remember, the intelligence community is best at misdirection, obfuscation, deceit, and manipulation. If there was ever a group that could successfully distract or 'arrange' an alternate truth, it's them.

francis_the_won... -> chubbar , Apr 1, 2017 10:23 PM

They put party before country, which I'm pretty sure is considered treasonous.

Seasmoke , Apr 1, 2017 10:14 PM

Pardon Snowden and do it NOW !!!!

Reaper , Apr 1, 2017 10:16 PM

Perfect scripted theater: First doubted. Then, condemned. Then, gradual exposing. Then, Trump trumps.

I Write Code , Apr 1, 2017 10:17 PM

Y'all missin' the point heah, which is if Clapper or Brennan are the rat(s) - and why not both - then Obamarama was in on it too.

francis_the_won... -> I Write Code , Apr 1, 2017 10:28 PM

Isn't Obama pretty much immune from any prosecution? Sure, his reputation or "legacy" can be tainted (meaning more people will realize what an a$$clown and criminal he was), but you can't do anything to him, can you?

lordbaldric , Apr 1, 2017 10:25 PM

Time for a good old fashioned Soviet style purge of the offending agencies and their allies!

MuffDiver69 , Apr 1, 2017 10:53 PM

We have seen no evidence of Trump/Russia collusion and we all know the same people leaking and smearing Trump aren't waiting for some special moment to release it....it never works that way and he would not have been allowed by NSA or CIA to take power if they had it...

Nunes and Schiff have seen info that was compartmentalized to executive branch obviously, which is all branches appointed by president CIA,NSA,Defense(Farkas),State(Hillary) etc etc

This has been a set up by Trump from beginning. Flynn knew all his calls were being recorded and he was fired after eaks to the NYT and WAPO. He questioned why the info on ISIS he was writing up as head of Defense Intelligence Agency was being down played and ignored by the half breed...Flynn will blow the doors off this entire thing...Look up his career...He is a top level intelligence operative with an ax to grind..He is not some flunky and he has many sources all throughout the intelligence branches...Nicely played President Trump...Job is much easier dealing with simpletons

Joebloinvestor , Apr 1, 2017 10:52 PM

You can almost bet it won't be the MSM who reveals who it is.

IMO it is a CIA rat.

Yes We Can. But... , Apr 1, 2017 10:52 PM

Gotta believe the top intel official who did the unmasking for political reasons to hurt Trump is:

Former CIA Director John O. Brennan

Bit of trivia: Did you know that Brennan once voted for a communist for POTUS?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_O._Brennan

MuffDiver69 -> Yes We Can. But Lets Not. , Apr 1, 2017 11:06 PM

It is definitely someone from the executive branch and that includes CIA head..The SCIF they are going to is in the old executive office building and only deals with executive..... state,defense,CIA,NSA etc etc

Yes We Can. But... -> MuffDiver69 , Apr 1, 2017 11:22 PM

If I understand correctly, the intel official behind the unmasking of folks affiliated with Trump campaign, which was taking place dating back to last summer, is a separate issue from who sheperded Nunes into the SCIF on the WH grounds (so that he could see docs he had been stonewalled from seeing), reported to be Ezra Cohen-Watnick of the NSC.

http://forward.com/news/367690/meet-ezra-cohen-watnick-the-secret-source...

Swamidon , Apr 1, 2017 10:54 PM

A lot of people have been dropping out of sight and apparently out of the country as well. I wonder if they're worried about being arrested?

iamerican4 , Apr 1, 2017 10:56 PM

The faction which killed JFK and MLK to send us as papal catspaw to Vietnam after the president ordered us out with 120 dead; and to restart the Vatican banker/FedScam he had ended, went on to do 9/11 and is terminally threatened by God-fearing Americans.

May God bless our president and may Satan's ruling false-elite pedo homo Fifth Column Beast of (((Gog))) and Babylon on Our Holy Land be soon cast down, praise God.

MuffDiver69 , Apr 1, 2017 11:03 PM

Folls forget Trump already ran a sting on his Intel briefing during transistion. When he was briefed on piss dossier and told no one on his staff, then it was leaked to press immediately afterwards..President Trump is using tactics folks like General Flynn perfected in 33 years in the intelligence service.

Funny shit this letter by Clapper..Trump has been playing these folks BIGLY

https://www.dni.gov/index.php/newsroom/press-releases/224-press-releases...

East Indian , Apr 1, 2017 11:10 PM

Meanwhile, Trump declares April as the month of "National Sexual Assault Awareness"

Is he hinting at something?

#Pedogate is true.

VWAndy , Apr 1, 2017 11:16 PM

That would be the one that got pushed down the stairs the other day right?

Mr Drysdale -> VWAndy , Apr 2, 2017 12:25 AM

http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2012/07/obamas_passport_breach_u...

No, he was greased for looking into Obongo's Passport while a 'student'

Fascal rascal , Apr 2, 2017 1:18 AM

Side tragedy..

Seth who?

Dead.

Democrats.

The poison seeping out...

They can't even stop it...

[Apr 01, 2017] What Devin Nunes Knows

Apr 01, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
fresno dan , March 31, 2017 at 3:50 pm

"What Devin Nunes Knows" [Kimberly Strassel, Wall Street Journal]. Why Nunes left his cab:

Around the same time, Mr. Nunes's own intelligence sources informed him that documents showed further collection of information about, and unmasking of, Trump transition officials. These documents aren't easily obtainable, since they aren't the "finished" intelligence products that Congress gets to see. Nonetheless, for weeks Mr. Nunes has been demanding intelligence agencies turn over said documents-with no luck, so far.

Mr. Nunes earlier this week got his own source to show him a treasure trove of documents at a secure facility. Here are the relevant details:

First, there were dozens of documents with information about Trump officials. Second, the information these documents contained was not related to Russia. Third, while many reports did "mask" identities (referring, for instance, to "U.S. Person 1 or 2") they were written in ways that made clear which Trump officials were being discussed. Fourth, in at least one instance, a Trump official other than Mr. Flynn was outright unmasked. Finally, these documents were circulated at the highest levels of government.

=============================================================
Other than right wing sites, this is the first instance of the argument I have seen of the repubs that has been put forward coherently and the issue stated cogently. That does not mean its true, but at least it is put forward.

I was watching CNN last night and the blonde commentator woman (Kirsten ???) put forward the proposition that the intelligence agencies "collecting" information on Trump associates does not mean Trump associates were surveilled – now this was in the context that the discussion was about the fact that Trump individuals were supposedly illegally "unmasked" by the intelligence agencies because the information was ..collected because they were under surveillance. Parsing "collection: vs "surveilling" was disingenuous beyond reality. One can put forward the idea that Trump personnel had conversations because of "incidental collection" or that Trump personnel are lawbreakers or treasonous as a reason for the surveillance (if surveillance happened – it seems obvious that it did happen) and the surveillance was legitimate.

Unmasking could be legitimate as well – we don't know right now. But to continue to put forward the proposition that Trump associates were not surveilled (by the Obama ADMINISTRATION) is simply preposterous.
Again, I just see purposeful obtuseness. And the trust in the honor and integrity of CIA and intelligence agency officials assumed by the MSM when there are so many instances of documented lying is hard to reconcile with an objective press.

I pretty much suspect there were some standard Washington scams/influence peddling going on – more so because this is Trump – and someone in the Obama administration was over anxious to leak this information, developed from classified information to hurt Trump. The only problem is that intelligence gathered information is not to be used for common criminal law. So we have the common law breaking on the Trump side and we have constitutional law breaking from the Obama side. Unfortunately, this country seems to have lost all desire to restrain the government from access to ALL communications of US citizens. And the MSM seems entirely unconcerned about unlimited government snooping.

MyLessThanPrimeBeef , March 31, 2017 at 3:55 pm

Both orders come less than a week before Trump is set to host Chinese President Xi Jinping at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, though both Ross and National Trade Council Director Peter Navarro insisted the move was not meant to send any sort of signal to Beijing. But China, with its nearly $350 billion trade surplus with the United States in 2016, will be at the top of the list for review."

Mar-a-Lago should be decked with as many Made-in-China products as possible maybe even laminated flooring.

"This is why we have to address that $350 billion trade surplus, Mr. Xi."

Shirts, socks, coffee cups, apple juice, etc.

Byron the Light Bulb , March 31, 2017 at 4:04 pm

It's as if GRU and Spetssvyaz had their own political action preferences based on self-interest. Destabilize and fragment Eastern Europe for bilateral relations with individual gov'ts to which warm relations are rewarded with lower natural gas prices at the risk chaos and armed conflict. Or preserve the stable central adversary for deployment of sober conventional forces that have unity of purpose with the stabilizing benefits of large conservative institutions that will just sit and rust. But what do I know? I'm just a bot. Don't know what is real, what isn't, and probably won't be be paralyzed by doubt in leadership and ability to self-rule.

[Apr 01, 2017] Sean Spicer Repeats Trump's Unproven Wiretapping Allegation

Apr 01, 2017 | www.nytimes.com

The White House on Friday revived President Trump's unproven wiretapping allegations against the Obama administration, insisting that there is new evidence that it conducted "politically motivated" surveillance of Mr. Trump's presidential campaign.

Senior government officials, including James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director, and lawmakers from both parties have repeatedly and forcefully rejected the president's claim, saying they have seen no evidence of direct surveillance. A spokesman for former President Barack Obama has denied that Mr. Obama ever ordered surveillance of Mr. Trump or his associates.

But Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, asserted to reporters during his daily news briefing that members of Mr. Obama's administration had done "very, very bad things," just as Mr. Trump alleged without proof on March 4 when he posted messages on Twitter accusing Mr. Obama of "wire tapping" his phones at Trump Tower.

"The question is why? Who else did it? Was it ordered? By whom?" Mr. Spicer said. "But I think more and more the substance that continues to come out on the record by individuals continues to point to exactly what the president was talking about that day." ... ... ...

Mr. Spicer's remarks on Friday seemed designed to give new life to the allegations against Mr. Obama after weeks of trying to focus attention on the damage that Mr. Spicer said had been caused by leaks from the investigations into Russia's involvement in the 2016 presidential campaign.

TheGatewayPundit.com, a right-wing site, called it a "notorious" interview and said it proved Obama administration officials had disseminated "intel gathered on the Trump team." Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff, said on the Hugh Hewitt radio show that Ms. Farkas had made "just an incredible statement." Breitbart News reported on Mr. Priebus's comments.

In fact, the reports do not back up the allegations that Mr. Trump or any officials in his campaign were ever under surveillance. In the March 2 interview on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program, Ms. Farkas said she had expressed concern to her former colleagues about the need to secure intelligence related to the Russian hacking of the American election.

Ms. Farkas was commenting on a New York Times article a day earlier that documented how in the days before Mr. Trump's inauguration, Obama administration officials had sought to ensure the preservation of those documents in order to leave a clear trail for government investigators after Mr. Trump took office.

In a statement she gave to the American Spectator, a conservative publication, Ms. Farkas said the furor over her remarks was "a wild misinterpretation of comments I made on the air in March." She added, "I was out of government, I didn't have any classified information, or any knowledge of 'tapping' or leaking or the N.Y.T. article before it came out." White House officials also confronted on Friday the disclosure that Mr. Flynn, who resigned in February over his contacts with Russian officials, has offered to testify before the two congressional committees investigating the Trump campaign's ties to Russia about those contacts in exchange for immunity from prosecution.

Mr. Trump said on Twitter on Friday morning that he agreed with Mr. Flynn's proposal.

"Mike Flynn should ask for immunity in that this is a witch hunt (excuse for big election loss), by media & Dems, of historic proportion!" Mr. Trump wrote.

The comments by Ms. Farkas, Mr. Spicer said, were evidence that Mr. Trump or his associates "were surveilled, had their information unmasked, made it available, was politically spread." He said that such stories were proof that Obama administration officials had "misused, mishandled and potentially did some very, very bad things with classified information."

[Mar 31, 2017] How To Protect Your Online Privacy Now That Congress Sold You Out

Mar 31, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com
by Art Van Delay -> hedgeless_horseman , Mar 30, 2017 10:07 PM

Windows on a VirtualDrive and browse with VPN and use only ProtonMail

But sooner or later your info will get into public domain... It happened even to household names such as Hillary so it's easier to happen to a mere peasant

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQHXeJ1swJs

FreddieX -> beemasters , Mar 30, 2017 11:41 PM

Opera has a VPN option built in https://www.opera.com/computer/features/free-vpn

And TOR https://www.torproject.org/about/overview.html.en

TOR's android client browser is very good: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=info.guardianproject.orfox

AVmaster -> Art Van Delay , Mar 30, 2017 10:12 PM

Windows on a virtual drive???

LOL...

Anything connected to the internet is considered unsecure.... Networking Security 101... First thing the professor says when he walks in the door....

Oh, and microsoft spies on you more than anyone else, go google telemetry windows and how to remove it...

WINDOWS 10 is THE Biggest offender of all...

AVmaster -> Art Van Delay , Mar 30, 2017 10:43 PM

You don't get it dude...

Win10 records EVERYTHING: Keystrokes, opened programs, you name it, and it sends it off to microsoft servers.

Unless you intend to run windows completely disconnected from the net, microsoft is spying on you.

Here's a former MS employee laying it all out:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5mFI9spp10

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1kGMCfb2xw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgKJMsJ-6XU

Freddie , Mar 30, 2017 10:14 PM

Hopefully Kim.com will come up w somrthing.

The USA is a police state. A nation of sheep and wailing wall Trump is not the answer as he auictioned off his goy kids.

White American males are especially pathetic as they worship and cheer on their NFL, NBA and NCAA college ball Trayvon rapists and thugs.

Southern whites (SEC) are among the most pathetic including college alum scum.

divingengineer -> Freddie , Mar 30, 2017 11:33 PM

Just pay the $50 lousy bucks a year and tell these govt assholes to sod off from behind a VPN.

SgtShaftoe , Mar 30, 2017 10:19 PM

Popular Mechanics... The same popular mechanics that did a snowjob on 9/11. Fuck popular mechanics.

Use a VPN service outside of the USA like TUvpn or vpntunnel.se or just use TOR. You can choose where your traffic will land (country) with many services. Though Hidemyass.com has a bad reputation of leaking on some of the anon people a number of years ago. So I wouldn't use them.

Some routers especially based on DDWRT will support VPN service setup from the router itself so everything in your house will think it's in Czech republic or wherever. Though this does mess with some streaming services like netflix and amazon who geo-IP block those addresses from using their service.

Torproject.org - free

Or you could move to a location with a rinky-dink ISP that doesn't sell your data.

When you use a VPN service some pages and most advertising will be in the language of the country's IP block and that's sometimes entertaining.

ebworthen , Mar 30, 2017 10:19 PM

NSA is collecting all this shit anyway.

Nothing on the Internet is secure, NOTHING.

ForTheWorld -> buckstopshere , Mar 30, 2017 11:23 PM

Tor is worse than most things, and it's easy to find the geographical location of exit nodes, and by extension, you: https://raidersec.blogspot.com/2013/09/mapping-tor-relays-and-exit-nodes...

If you're concerned about cyber criminals and identity thieves: Are you doing something that would warrant them coming after you? Do you respond to emails regarding the requirement to transmit several thousand dollars to a Prince of an African nation? If not, then you're doing as much as you can to avoid them.

If you need to pay for anything, do so through a service you've vetted and trust, make sure you're up to date with patches/updates for whatever OS and applications you use, use a VPN if you're paranoid about what your ISP is doing, and don't put any personally identifiable information online at all. That's about all you can do.

[Mar 31, 2017] Internet Activists Raising Big Bucks to Buy US Lawmakers' Browsing Histories

Mar 31, 2017 | sputniknews.com
© Sputnik/ Igor Mikhalev US 22:08 30.03.2017 (updated 03:24 31.03.2017) Get short URL 3 418 7 0 After the US Congress voted to remove internet privacy protections implemented under then-President Barack Obama, internet users are attempting to give lawmakers a taste of their own medicine. So far, at least two different fundraising efforts have raised about $215,000 to purchase and disclose the browsing histories of lawmakers.

President Donald Trump will soon receive the proposed bill, called SJR34, which would allow users' internet browsing history and data to be sold by Internet Service Providers (ISPs).

More than 3,000 people donated to a GoFundMe page by actor Misha Collins, who stars in the "Supernatural" television show. Collins' page has a goal of $500 million and has already raised a little over $71,000.

© REUTERS/ Gary Cameron Spying in Disguise: Notorious US Surveillance Bill May Kill Internet Privacy This Week in Senate

On Tuesday, Collins wrote on Twitter, "Thanks, Congress, for voting to put all of our private data up for sale! We can't wait to buy yours."

The campaign page reads, "Congress recently voted to strip Americans of their privacy rights by voting for SJR34, a resolution that allows Internet Service Providers to collect, and sell your sensitive data without your consent or knowledge This GoFundMe will pay to purchase the data of Donald Trump and every Congressperson who voted for SJR34, and to make it publicly available."

Tennessee-based net neutrality and privacy activist Adam McElhaney's GoFundMe has far surpassed its goal of $10,000, as more than 10,000 people have donated close to $165,000.

McElhaney explained on his page that not even browsing histories made in a private window are safe.

"Even if you go into an 'incognito mode' or 'private mode' from your browser, what you search for on the Internet, what sites you visit, are still recorded at the ISP level. They just aren't kept in your browser's history in that private mode," he said.

© Flickr/ Thomas van de Weerd 84% of Countries Lack Effective Laws for Protecting Internet Privacy

Through his website, searchinternethistory.com, McElhaney wants to reveal "everything" in lawmakers' browsing history "from their medical, pornographic, to their financial and infidelity. Help me raise money to buy the histories of those who took away your right to privacy for just thousands of dollars from telephone and ISPs. Your private data will be bought and sold to marketing companies, law enforcement."

Critics have said that while activists' hearts may be in the right place, they're moving from a place of misunderstanding.

"To be clear, you can't do this," wrote Russell Brandom in a Wednesday article for The Verge. "Just because carriers are allowed to market against data doesn't mean they're allowed to sell individual web histories. The campaigns seem well-intentioned, but that's just not how it works."

© Sputnik/ Alexander Makarov UN Adopts Internet Privacy Resolution Amid Snowden's Revelations

Brandom points out that sharing "individually identifiable" information is already illegal under the the Telecommunications Act. Therefore purchasing the data of politicians would be impossible.

The writer acknowledges that internet privacy is a serious issue, and that access to "aggregate" data could still be an issue, but says if the proposed bill falls through, "It's anyone's guess where the money will end up."

Misha Collins wrote on his campaign page that if the goal isn't met, all donated funds will be given to the ACLU.

[Mar 30, 2017] Congress Just Voted to Let Internet Providers Sell Your Web History

Mar 30, 2017 | lifehacker.com

You do have some options though. The easiest way to circumvent any of this is to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). The next problem, then, is that VPNs are also completely unregulated, and choosing one that doesn't sell your data off is complicated mess . Most of us have more choices for a VPN provider than we do for an ISP, but it's still a gamble where you're assuming a company is as legit as they claim to be.

[Mar 29, 2017] To Serve AT T and Comcast, Congressional GOP Votes to Destroy Online Privacy by Glenn Greenwald

Notable quotes:
"... It's hardly rare for the U.S. Congress to enact measures gutting online privacy: indeed, the last two decades have ushered in a legislative scheme that implements a virtually ubiquitous Surveillance State composed of both public intelligence and military agencies along with their private-sector "partners." Members of Congress voting for these pro-surveillance measures invariably offer the pretext that they are acting for the benefit of American citizens – whose privacy they are gutting – by Keeping Them Safe™. ..."
"... Nobody can claim with a straight face that allowing AT&T and Comcast to sell their users' browser histories has any relationship to national security. Indeed, there's no minimally persuasive rationale that can be concocted for this vote. It manifestly has only one purpose: maximizing the commercial interests of these telecom giants at the expense of ordinary citizens. It's so blatant here that it cannot even be disguised. ..."
"... There is literally no constituency in favor of this bill other than these telecom giants. It'd be surprising if even a single voter who cast their ballot for Trump or a GOP Congress even thought about, let alone favored, rescission of privacy-protecting rules for ISPs. So blatant is the corporate-donor servitude here that there's no pretext even available for pretending this benefits ordinary citizens. It's a bill written exclusively by and for a small number of corporate giants exclusively for their commercial benefit at the expense of everyone else. ..."
"... But the inane idea that individuals should lose all online privacy protections in the name of regulatory consistency or maximizing corporate profits is something that is almost impossible to sell even to the most loyal ideologues. As Matt Stoller noted , there was "lots of anger in the comments section of Breitbart against the GOP for revoking the Obama privacy regs for ISPs." ..."
"... The first thing one noticed upon arriving on the DNC grounds was the AT&T logo everywhere: they were a major sponsor of the convention, with everything from huge signs to tote bags for the delegates carrying their logo. ..."
"... Perhaps a program that randomly visits websites and performs random searches while we sleep is in order? ..."
Mar 29, 2017 | theintercept.com
Clarifying events in politics are often healthy even when they produce awful outcomes. Such is the case with yesterday's vote by House Republicans to free internet service providers (ISPs) – primarily AT&T, Comcast and Verizon – from the Obama-era FCC regulations barring them from storing and selling their users' browsing histories without their consent. The vote followed an identical one last week in the Senate exclusively along party lines .

It's hard to overstate what a blow to individual privacy this is. Unlike Silicon Valley giants like Facebook and Google – which can track and sell only those activities of yours which you engage in while using their specific service – ISPs can track everything you do online. "These companies carry all of your Internet traffic and can examine each packet in detail to build up a profile on you," explained two experts from the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Worse, it is not particularly difficult to avoid using specific services (such as Facebook) that are known to undermine privacy, but consumers often have very few choices for ISPs; it's a virtual monopoly.

It's hardly rare for the U.S. Congress to enact measures gutting online privacy: indeed, the last two decades have ushered in a legislative scheme that implements a virtually ubiquitous Surveillance State composed of both public intelligence and military agencies along with their private-sector "partners." Members of Congress voting for these pro-surveillance measures invariably offer the pretext that they are acting for the benefit of American citizens – whose privacy they are gutting – by Keeping Them Safe™.

But what distinguishes this latest vote is that this pretext is unavailable. Nobody can claim with a straight face that allowing AT&T and Comcast to sell their users' browser histories has any relationship to national security. Indeed, there's no minimally persuasive rationale that can be concocted for this vote. It manifestly has only one purpose: maximizing the commercial interests of these telecom giants at the expense of ordinary citizens. It's so blatant here that it cannot even be disguised.

That's why, despite its devastating harm for individual privacy, there is a beneficial aspect to this episode. It illustrates – for those who haven't yet realized it – who actually dominates Congress and owns its members: the corporate donor class.

There is literally no constituency in favor of this bill other than these telecom giants. It'd be surprising if even a single voter who cast their ballot for Trump or a GOP Congress even thought about, let alone favored, rescission of privacy-protecting rules for ISPs. So blatant is the corporate-donor servitude here that there's no pretext even available for pretending this benefits ordinary citizens. It's a bill written exclusively by and for a small number of corporate giants exclusively for their commercial benefit at the expense of everyone else.

Right-wing outlets like Breitbart tried hard to sell the bill to their readers . But the only rationale they could provide was that it's intended to "undo duplicitous regulation around consumer privacy," which, they suggested, was unfair to telecoms that faced harsher regulations than social media companies. To justify this, Breitbart quoted a GOP Congresswoman, Martha Blackburn, as claiming that the regulation is "unnecessary and just another example of big government overreach." When the Senate GOP voted last week to undo the restriction, Texas Sen. John Cornyn invoked the right-wing cliché that it "hurt job creators and stifle economic growth."

But the inane idea that individuals should lose all online privacy protections in the name of regulatory consistency or maximizing corporate profits is something that is almost impossible to sell even to the most loyal ideologues. As Matt Stoller noted , there was "lots of anger in the comments section of Breitbart against the GOP for revoking the Obama privacy regs for ISPs."

Stoller added that the resentment among even Breitbart readers over the vote was based on a relatively sophisticated understanding that the GOP Congress was subordinating the privacy rights of individuals to the corporate profits of Comcast, along with reinforcing monopoly power for what are really public utilities; as Stoller put it: "it's fascinating, when the political debates are about the use of concentrated business power, the debates are no longer as partisan."

This recognition – of who owns and controls Congress – is absolutely fundamental to understanding any U.S. political issue. And it does – or at least should – transcend both partisan and ideological allegiance because it prevails in both parties.

I still recall very vividly when I attended the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver. It was just months after the Democratic Congress (with ample help from the Bush White House and GOP members) spearheaded a truly corrupt bill to vest the telecom industry with retroactive immunity for having broken the law in allowing the NSA to access their American customers' calls and records without the warrants required by law (that was the 2008 bill which Obama, when seeking the Democratic nomination, vowed to filibuster, only to then flagrantly violate his promise by voting against a filibuster and for the bill itself once he had the nomination secured).

The sole beneficiaries of that bill were AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and the other telecom giants who faced serious civil and even criminal liability for this lawbreaking. The main forces ensuring its passage were the Bush White House and the Democratic Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Jay Rockefeller, whose campaign coffers enjoyed a massive surge of telecom donations immediately before he championed their cause.

The first thing one noticed upon arriving on the DNC grounds was the AT&T logo everywhere: they were a major sponsor of the convention, with everything from huge signs to tote bags for the delegates carrying their logo.

The apex of this flagrant corruption was when AT&T threw a lavish party for the party centrists who helped pass the bill – entitled "AT&T thanks the Blue Dogs" – which both Democracy Now's Amy Goodman and I attended in the totally futile attempt to interview the hordes of Democratic lobbyists, delegates and corporate donors who toasted one another...

Bowiepoet, March 29 2017, 8:59 p.m.

This article beautifully and seamlessly reveals a truth. One that requires reflection by the people. Our government would prefer we weren't involved in their terms in office. As of late, they: 1) run from us, 2) Lie to gain access 3) Barely even pretend that there are two parties (and not one centrist elite party), preferring the rarefied air of the rich (Media whores & corporate lackeys) than constituents. Actual voters used to be met at.. county fairs or listening to/airing of grievances by the voters & small businesses in our capital. This 'office time' is better spent calling big doners now. If only one thing could be agreed upon by the people of this country, it should be formulation of a strict comprehensive campaign finance law that is impenetrable by scheming corporate lawyers. It's the ONE thing that we could do that would change all others. There should be consequences for lying to us to gain access to Gov't! Why are we loyal to those that lie to us?! I keep telling my Blue Dog friends that they need to STOP believing what politicians say, ( or what the tv media says that support them). Just follow the money & read The Intercept. Oh yes, & vote third party, even if it hurts.

altohone, March 29 2017, 7:04 p.m.

Perhaps a program that randomly visits websites and performs random searches while we sleep is in order?

Obviously, those with limited data usage wouldn't want to play along, but if enough of us participated, all that data they hope to profit off of would become worthless.

Anybody have any ideas along these lines? Not sure about generating random emails but monkey wrenching of some sort seems to be in order.

Thirdbestfriend, March 29 2017, 5:38 p.m.

@Glenn Greenwald

All great points, but you're missing a whole other level of grossness. The current FCC chair was already beginning to roll these back on his own:

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/02/24/517050966/fcc-chairman-goes-after-his-predecessors-internet-privacy-rules

So this vote was completely unnecessary-UNLESS you wanted to be sure that no future FCC chair could reinstate the rules down the line. The Republican congress is going to be facing backlash for a vote they never needed to have in the first place. All because their ISP donors told them to.


[Mar 29, 2017] How To Improve The Linux System's Security Using Firejail

Mar 29, 2017 | www.ostechnix.com

As you already know, Linux kernel is secure by default. But, it doesn't mean that the softwares on the Linux system are completely secure. Say for example, there is a possibility that any add-ons on your web browser may cause some serious security issues. While doing financial transactions over internet, some key logger may be active in browser which you are not aware of. Even though, we can't completely give the bullet-proof security to our Linux box, we still can add an extra pinch of security using an application called Firejail . It is a security utility which can sandbox any such application and let it to run in a controlled environment. To put this simply, Firejail is a SUID (Set owner User ID up on execution) program that reduces the risk of security breaches by restricting the running environment of untrusted applications.

In this brief tutorial, we will discuss how to install firejail and use it to improve the Linux system's security using Firejail.

Features

Concerning about Firejail features, we can list the following:

  • Easy to install
  • User can set file or directory attributes.
  • Customized security.
  • Support network.
  • Separate sandbox containers for applications.
  • Easy to monitor.
  • GUI provided to manage application.
Improve The Linux System's Security Using Firejail Installing Firejail

This security application is easy to install, and it can be installed using apt-get package manager. We will be using Ubuntu 16.04 OS for demonstration purpose.

Update Ubuntu Linux:

# apt-get update

Install Firejail application with command:

# apt-get install firejail

By default firejail configurations and profiles are stored under /etc/firejail . These can be manged by user as per their need, Have a look at the following output.

# ls /etc/firejail

Run applications with firejail

The typical syntax to use firejai is:

# firejail <application>

Say for example, to run Firefox web browser using firejail, we can use the following command:

# firejail firefox

When an user launch application with firejail, profile defined in firejail configurations get loaded and events are logged in syslog. By default firejail launch application with default profile, your can configure default profile with their own parameters.

Customize firejail profile for application

To create a custom profile for a application/command create following directory under home environment of user.

# cd ~
# mkdir -p  ~/.config/firejail

Copy generic profile to that newly created directory.

# cp /etc/firejail/generic.profile /home/user/.config/example.profile

Sample output:

# vim /etc/firejail/generic.profile

If you wants to load Document folder for a particular user to be loaded as read only. Defile parameters as follows:

blacklist /home/user/Documents

If you wants to set some attribute as read only:

read-only /home/user/Download

Accessing some banking stuff over the internet is recommended to be secured, can be achieved with firejail.

Create a directory for user.

# mkdir /home/user/safe

Firefox will consider 'safe' as home directory.

# firejail --private=/home/user/safe firefox &

Defile default network interface for application to run with.

# firejail --net=enp0s3 firefox&

Sample output:

Using firejail GUI tool

For the ease of user gui tool of firejail is available which can be downloaded from this link .

Download appropriate package as per your hardware and operating system installed and use it.

Download Free Video: "Kali 101 – FREE Video Training Course (a $19 value!)" Conclusion

The filejail tool is a must have for Security concerned users. Although there are lots of methods available in Linux which can provide same level of security, Firejail is one such a way to improve the security to your Linux environment. We hope you will love this article.

Stay tuned!!

Resource:

[Mar 29, 2017] Congress Poised To Obliterate Broadband Privacy Rules Zero Hedge

Mar 29, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com
Congress Poised To Obliterate Broadband Privacy Rules Dilluminati , Mar 28, 2017 9:31 PM

On Monday, the grassroots advocacy Fight for the Future announced that it will unleash billboards in Washington, D.C. and other select districts exposing any Congress member who votes to gut internet privacy rules.

I'll be sure to point out the hypocrisy of the representatives who vote for this.

https://zenmate.com/

I'll go with a better alternative if it passes

bamawatson -> Dilluminati , Mar 28, 2017 9:33 PM

barn door has already been left open far too long

greenskeeper carl -> erkme73 , Mar 28, 2017 9:44 PM

Highest bidder, huh? You mean the 'bidder' that gives you the ability to operate and can also tax/conjure money of of thin air? I wonder who the highest bidder will be?

Muddy1 -> greenskeeper carl , Mar 28, 2017 9:48 PM

IT IS OVER, THE HOUSE HAS VOTED< this IS A DONE DEAL

source: http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2017/03/28/house-votes-to-block-obama-era-online-privacy-rule.html

SamEyeAm , Mar 28, 2017 9:31 PM

GOD DAMMIT. Here we go again.

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/mar/28/internet-service-providers-sell-browsing-history-house-vote?CMP=share_btn_gp

I wonder if VPN companies lobbied for this?

greenskeeper carl -> cougar_w , Mar 28, 2017 9:58 PM

Thats a true story. Everytime I go somewhere that requires me to turn off ghostery to (usually) pay a utility bill or something and I come back here without turning ghostery back on, its insane. It really is the slowest site I visit to load. The number of trackers fills up my screen. Same with when I come here on Tor. My mac can takes forever to load the page, and it seems like every other site I visit runs slower if ZH is in a tab with ghostery paused.

Edit: by the time I scrolled down to the bottom of the page with blocking turned off, it was 109 trackers. I would have guessed half that many.

bruno_the -> asteroids , Mar 28, 2017 9:47 PM

What Difference Does It Make?

WillyGroper -> asteroids , Mar 28, 2017 9:52 PM

if you pay attention to what you're saying, then look at spam calls, the answer is yes. they pay $60 for your browsing info.

commodity to be harvested. baaaaa baaaaa

i told a friend the mortician wasn't getting my gold crowns...started getting all sorts of prepaid burial calls & snail mail.

same thing for verbage health related.

smart meters know when you pee.

ClassicalLib17 -> WillyGroper , Mar 28, 2017 10:10 PM

Are you referring to the "computer experts" from microsoft who call my home at least once a month stating that they detected a problem with my computer? These cocksuckers won't even cut off the call when I start cursing at them. Except the one guy that I kept on the line for thirty minutes trying to get me to turn over control of my computer to him. He hung up when I said that his mother looked mighty pretty last night with those legs up in the air. Afterwards I kind of felt ill when it dawned on me what she could possibly look like... naked! Oh the horror... the horror...

rejected , Mar 28, 2017 9:53 PM

"...and every lawmaker who votes to take away our privacy will regret it come Election Day."

They don't care,,, the payoff made them rich enough to retire for life. Also, if their important enough (McCain, etc) the machines will re-elect them. Last but not least the moron voters out there who don't keep tabs on their elected Reps will re-elect them.

WIN, WIN, WIN, for them.

LOSE for everyone else.

Rebel yell -> DuneCreature , Mar 28, 2017 10:39 PM

If you are targeted, check this out, it is the best site on TIs, there are fake ones by the CIA : https://fightgangstalking.com/what-is-gang-stalking/

Nesbiteme , Mar 28, 2017 10:18 PM

Stupid, stupid Americans.

Youri Carma , Mar 28, 2017 10:24 PM

Your Browser History Up For Grabs – Senate Takes Back Privacy Rules https://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cf...

US Senate Kills ISP Privacy Regulations Mar 26, 2017 TWiT Netcast Network https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Samr_KUxPdc

For 16 Years, NSA Has Collected Everything Part 1, 1559 Mar 27, 2017 The Still Report https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PfgjlwztETg

Rebel yell , Mar 28, 2017 10:50 PM

That is really creepy, crazy, and frightening! I think that I will buy the CEOs of the communication company's histories along with their families histories and the 50 senators histories and their families histories who voted for this legislation and post them all online for public consumption if this becomes law. Naturally I would also include all Representatives and their families histories that vote to pass it, as well as Trump and his families histories if this becomes law and is signed by them.

[Mar 28, 2017] Foundation - Fall Of The American Galactic Empire Zero Hedge

Mar 28, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com
Mar 27, 2017 10:40 PM Authored by Jim Quinn via The Burning Platform blog,

"The fall of Empire, gentlemen, is a massive thing, however, and not easily fought. It is dictated by a rising bureaucracy, a receding initiative, a freezing of caste, a damming of curiosity-a hundred other factors. It has been going on, as I have said, for centuries, and it is too majestic and massive a movement to stop." – Isaac Asimov, Foundation

"Any fool can tell a crisis when it arrives. The real service to the state is to detect it in embryo." – Isaac Asimov, Foundation

I read Isaac Asimov's renowned award winning science fiction trilogy four decades ago as a teenager. I read them because I liked science fiction novels, not because I was trying to understand the correlation to the fall of the Roman Empire. The books that came to be called the Foundation Trilogy (Foundation, Foundation and Empire, and Second Foundation) were not written as novels; they're the collected Foundation stories Asimov wrote between 1941 and 1950. He wrote these stories during the final stages of our last Fourth Turning Crisis and the beginning stages of the next High. This was the same time frame in which Tolkien wrote the Lord of the Rings Trilogy and Orwell wrote 1984 . This was not a coincidence.

The tone of foreboding, danger, dread, and impending doom, along with unending warfare, propels all of these novels because they were all written during the bloodiest and most perilous portion of the last Fourth Turning . As the linear thinking establishment continues to be blindsided by the continued deterioration of the economic, political, social, and cultural conditions in the world, we have entered the most treacherous phase of our present Fourth Turning .

That ominous mood engulfing the world is not a new dynamic, but a cyclical event arriving every 80 or so years. Eight decades ago the world was on the verge of a world war which would kill 65 million people. Eight decades prior to 1937 the country was on the verge of a Civil War which would kill almost 5% of the male population. Eight decades prior to 1857 the American Revolution had just begun and would last six more bloody years. None of this is a coincidence. The generational configuration repeats itself every eighty years, driving the mood change which leads to revolutionary change and the destruction of the existing social order.

Isaac Asimov certainly didn't foresee his Foundation stories representing the decline of an American Empire that didn't yet exist. The work that inspired Asimov was Edward Gibbon's multi-volume series, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire , published between 1776 and 1789. Gibbon saw Rome's fall not as a consequence of specific, dramatic events, but as the result of the gradual decline of civic virtue, monetary debasement and rise of Christianity, which made the Romans less vested in worldly affairs.

Gibbon's tome reflects the same generational theory espoused by Strauss and Howe in The Fourth Turning . Gibbon's conclusion was human nature never changes, and mankind's penchant for division, amplified by environmental and cultural differences, is what governs the cyclical nature of history. Gibbon constructs a narrative spanning centuries as events unfold and emperors' successes and failures occur within the context of a relentless decline of empire. The specific events and behaviors of individual emperors were inconsequential within the larger framework and pattern of historical decline. History plods relentlessly onward, driven by the law of large numbers.

Asimov described his inspiration for the novels:

"I wanted to consider essentially the science of psychohistory, something I made up myself. It was, in a sense, the struggle between free will and determinism. On the other hand, I wanted to do a story on the analogy of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, but on the much larger scale of the galaxy. To do that, I took over the aura of the Roman Empire and wrote it very large. The social system, then, is very much like the Roman imperial system, but that was just my skeleton.

It seemed to me that if we did have a galactic empire, there would be so many human beings-quintillions of them-that perhaps you might be able to predict very accurately how societies would behave, even though you couldn't predict how individuals composing those societies would behave. So, against the background of the Roman Empire written large, I invented the science of psychohistory. Throughout the entire trilogy, then, there are the opposing forces of individual desire and that dead hand of social inevitability."

Is History Pre-Determined?

"Don't you see? It's Galaxy-wide. It's a worship of the past. It's a deterioration – a stagnation!" – Isaac Asimov, Foundation

"It has been my philosophy of life that difficulties vanish when faced boldly." – Isaac Asimov, Foundation

The Foundation trilogy opens on Trantor, the capital of the 12,000-year-old Galactic Empire. Though the empire appears stable and powerful, it is slowly decaying in ways that parallel the decline of the Western Roman Empire. Hari Seldon, a mathematician and psychologist, has developed psychohistory, a new field of science that equates all possibilities in large societies to mathematics, allowing for the prediction of future events.

Psychohistory is a blend of crowd psychology and high-level math. An able psychohistorian can predict the long-term aggregate behavior of billions of people many years in the future. However, it only works with large groups. Psychohistory is almost useless for predicting the behavior of an individual. Also, it's no good if the group being analyzed is aware it's being analyzed - because if it's aware, the group changes its behavior.

Using psychohistory, Seldon has discovered the declining nature of the Empire, angering the aristocratic rulers of the Empire. The rulers consider Seldon's views and statements treasonous, and he is arrested. Seldon is tried by the state and defends his beliefs, explaining his theory the Empire will collapse in 300 years and enter a 30,000-year dark age.

He informs the rulers an alternative to this future is attainable, and explains to them generating an anthology of all human knowledge, the Encyclopedia Galactica, would not avert the inevitable fall of the Empire but would reduce the Dark Age to "only" 1,000 years.

The fearful state apparatchiks offer him exile to a remote world, Terminus, with other academic intellectuals who could help him create the Encyclopedia. He accepts their offer, and sets in motion his plan to set up two Foundations, one at either end of the galaxy, to preserve the accumulated knowledge of humanity and thereby shorten the Dark Age, once the Empire collapses. Seldon created the Foundation, knowing it would eventually be seen as a threat to rulers of the Empire, provoking an eventual attack. That is why he created a Second Foundation, unknown to the ruling class.

Asimov's psychohistory concept, based on the predictability of human actions in large numbers, has similarities to Strauss & Howe's generational theory. His theory didn't pretend to predict the actions of individuals, but formulated definite laws developed by mathematical analysis to predict the mass action of human groups. His novel explores the centuries old debate of whether human history proceeds in a predictable fashion, with individuals incapable of changing its course, or whether individuals can alter its progression.

The cyclical nature of history, driven by generational cohorts numbering tens of millions, has been documented over centuries by Strauss & Howe in their 1997 opus The Fourth Turning . Human beings in large numbers react in a herd-like predictable manner. I know that is disappointing to all the linear thinking individualists who erroneously believe one person can change the world and course of history.

The cyclical crisis's that occur every eighty years matches up with how every Foundation story centers on what is called a Seldon crisis, the conjunction of seemingly insoluble external and internal difficulties. The crises were all predicted by Seldon, who appears near the end of each story as a hologram to confirm the Foundation has traversed the latest one correctly.

The "Seldon Crises" take on two forms. Either events unfold in such a way there is only one clear path to take, or the forces of history conspire to determine the outcome. But, the common feature is free will doesn't matter. The heroes and adversaries believe their choices will make a difference when, in fact, the future is already written. This is a controversial viewpoint which angers many people because they feel it robs them of their individuality.

Most people don't want to be lumped together in an amalgamation of other humans because they believe admitting so would strip them of their sense of free will. Their delicate sensibilities are bruised by the unequivocal fact their individual actions are virtually meaningless to the direction of history. But, the madness of crowds can dramatically impact antiquity.

"In reading The History of Nations, we find that, like individuals, they have their whims and their peculiarities, their seasons of excitement and recklessness, when they care not what they do. We find that whole communities suddenly fix their minds upon one object and go mad in its pursuit; that millions of people become simultaneously impressed with one delusion, and run after it, till their attention is caught by some new folly more captivating than the first." – Charles Mackay, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds

Many people argue the dynamic advancements in technology and science have changed the world in such a way to alter human nature in a positive way, thereby resulting in humans acting in a more rational manner. This alteration would result in a level of human progress not experienced previously. The falsity of this technological theory is borne out by the continuation of war, government corruption, greed, belief in economic fallacies, civic decay, cultural degradation, and global disorder sweeping across the world. Humanity is incapable of change. The same weaknesses and self- destructive traits which have plagued them throughout history are as prevalent today as they ever were.

Asimov's solution to the failure of humanity to change was to create an academic oriented benevolent ruling class who could save the human race from destroying itself. He seems to have been well before his time with regards to creating Shadow Governments and Deep State functionaries. It appears he agreed with his contemporary Edward Bernays. The masses could not be trusted to make good decisions, so they needed more intellectually advanced men to guide their actions.

"The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized.

Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind." – Edward Bernays – Propaganda

In Part Two of this article I will compare and contrast Donald Trump's rise to power to the rise of The Mule in Asimov's masterpiece. Unusually gifted individuals come along once in a lifetime to disrupt the plans of the existing social order.

Beam Me Up Scotty -> BaBaBouy , Mar 27, 2017 10:56 PM

" He seems to have been well before his time with regards to creating Shadow Governments and Deep State functionaries. It appears he agreed with his contemporary Edward Bernays. The masses could not be trusted to make good decisions, so they needed more intellectually advanced men to guide their actions."

The masses aren't the ones begging to start all of these wars. They are the ones TRYING to make a few good decisions. The Shadow Government and Deep State however, are hell bent on getting us all killed. Who exactly is the problem here??

LetThemEatRand , Mar 27, 2017 10:50 PM

Asimov was a good writer and created some great fiction. That's as far as it goes.

Huxle LetThemEatRand •Mar 27, 2017 10:50 PM y is the one who predicted the current state of affairs. Orwell gets honorable mention. You could also throw in some biblical passages for the mark of the beast, though the best part was clearly written about Nero.

biker Mar 27, 2017 11:06 PM
Of course its better to watch them eat themselves
https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/03/rewriting-the-rules...

[Mar 27, 2017] As soon as any intelligence agency becomes a political player this means effective end of any, even traditional the USA form of façade-based , two party oligarchical rule called democracy

Notable quotes:
"... Actually "after 9/11" national security state is already a huge step forward in this direction, so we are almost arrived at the point when the USA democratic "façade" became Potemkin village for tourists. ..."
"... That's essentially the difference between "surface state" and the "deep state" that is now actively discussed in the USA due to attempt of color revolution against Trump with intelligence agencies and FBI coming out as political players. ..."
"... And as soon as any intelligence agency becomes a political player this means effective end of any, even traditional the USA form of "façade-based", two party oligarchical rule called "democracy." ..."
Mar 27, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

libezkova -> im1dc... March 26, 2017 at 07:58 PM

"That's European History not ours"

Hardly so.

Legitimacy of the US "democratic" governance can survive only as long as:

  1. 1. People of America had an expectation that if they work hard they can gain a better life. This is not true now for the majority (say, lower 80%) of population.
  2. 2. Or at least that their children could gain that better life, if they get some college degree and work hard. This is also not true now for majority of graduates. Only those, who graduates at the top of the class, or from Ivy League universities can expect to get decent positions. Most graduation are happy to land at helpdesk, doing job that does not require any college education, because it is better then being a waiter.

IMHO, if neither (1) not (2) are applicable the legitimacy of the democratic government evaporates.

And that creates favorable condition for the transition to the dictatorship in some form.

Actually "after 9/11" national security state is already a huge step forward in this direction, so we are almost arrived at the point when the USA democratic "façade" became Potemkin village for tourists.

That's essentially the difference between "surface state" and the "deep state" that is now actively discussed in the USA due to attempt of color revolution against Trump with intelligence agencies and FBI coming out as political players.

And as soon as any intelligence agency becomes a political player this means effective end of any, even traditional the USA form of "façade-based", two party oligarchical rule called "democracy."

That's a dictatorship: a form of government where a country is ruled by one person or by one or several non-elected political agencies (like the Communist Party, or STASI). And were the power is exercised through mechanisms that are completely outside the control of electorate.

If somebody here tells that Comey, or in the past Clapper and Michael Morell, were not a political players in this presidential cycle, the danger is that half of Mexico and Canada readers of this blog can die laughing.