EU court removes Hamas from terror blacklist

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The EU General Court has ordered that the Palestinian militant group Hamas be removed from the bloc’s terror blacklist. The move comes over four years after Hamas appealed its terror designation before the EU.

The European Union first banned Hamas’ military wing, the Izz a-Din al-Qassam Brigades, in 2002, though the organization’s social and political divisions were not put on the terror list. Following a series of Hamas suicide bombings during the second intifada or uprising in September 2003, the EU extended the ban to include the organization as a whole.

On September 12, 2010, Hamas appealed the ban, largely on procedural grounds. In its complaint, the group cited a lack of due process, specifically, that it had not been properly informed the act was being implemented. It further asserted that as a “legitimately-elected government,” it cannot be labeled as a terrorist organization, saying such a designation flies in the face of “the principle of non-interference in the internal matters of a State.”

The court accepted the organization’s argument, saying that the decision to remove Hamas from the list was not based on an examination of Hamas’ activities, but rather on an examination of the procedures used to institute the 2003 ban in the first place. Unless an appeal brings closure, however, a funding freeze against the group and sanctions against its members will remain in place for three more months.

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The lawyer for Hamas, Liliane Glock, told AFP she was “satisfied with the decision.”

Hamas official Izzat al-Rishq lauded the decision, saying the court had righted an injustice done to the organization, which he said is a “national freedom movement,” and not a terrorist organization, the Jerusalem Post reports.

But a deputy from Israel’s major right-wing Likud party, Danny Danon, said, “The Europeans must believe that there blood is more sacred than the blood of the Jews which they see as unimportant. That is the only way to explain the EU court’s decision to remove Hamas from the terror blacklist.”

“In Europe they must have forgotten that Hamas kidnapped three boys and fired thousands of rockets last summer at Israeli citizens,” he added.

Shortly after the ruling, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the EU to keep Hamas on its list of terrorist organizations.

“We expect them to immediately put Hamas back on the list,” Reuters cites Netanyahu as saying in a statement. “Hamas is a murderous terrorist organization which in its charter states its goal is to destroy Israel.”

The EU and Israel have attempted to downplay the ruling, saying that groups standing within Europe as terror organizations will not change. Israeli and European officials say the court will be given a few months to rebuild its file against Hamas with evidence of the group’s activities, which will enable it to be placed back on the list of terror organizations, the Israeli news portal Ynet reports.

According to RT’s Paula Slier, Israeli politicians “across the political spectrum” have unanimously condemned what they call a “temporary” removal.

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According to Slier, EU officials have given Israel assurances that Brussels’ position has not changed, saying Wednesday’s ruling was a “technical” mistake. Officials from the 28-member bloc further said the court did not have sufficient authority to affect the entire EU’s position.

In the interim, however, EU member states will be empowered to establish diplomatic ties with Hamas.

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The EU ambassador to Israel, Lars Faaborg-Andersen, will meet with Israel’s Foreign Minister, Nissim Ben-Sheetrit, on Wednesday to discuss the matter, Israeli daily Haaretz reports. Faaborg-Andersen is expected to reiterate that the EU’s position on Hamas remains unchanged, and that a future decision to reclassify Hamas as a terror organization is forthcoming.

During the January 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections, Hamas defeated the PLO-affiliated Fatah party and has governed the Gaza Strip for the past seven years. Some countries have treated Hamas as a terrorist organization, while others have not. While Australia, Canada, Egypt, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Qatar, the US and the UK all treat Hamas or its military wing as a terrorist organization, other states, including China, Iran, Russia and Turkey, do not.

Hamas leaders have made several diplomatic trips to Russia to discuss a range of issues, from Palestinian reconciliation to economic relations.

UN urges EU to take refugees despite anti-migrant protests

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http://rt.com/news/214567-europe-refugees-migrants-protest/

Refugees arriving in Europe from war-torn Syria asking for asylum are putting an additional burden for the EU, whose economy is in crisis and where xenophobia is on the rise.

Over three million people, according to humanitarian organization Migrants’ Rights Network, have left Syria due to the war, and some of them headed to the EU asking for asylum. They travel to Europe “to have better life, to have good life, to have peace life,” one refugee told RT in Greece, which has seen a significant influx in recent years.

“We don’t see limits and we don’t want to see people sleeping in the streets,” says Angelos Syrigos, Greek Interior Minister. Although Greece is ready to receive refugees it cannot accept them all.

“But at the same time, their numbers are so vast,” adds Syrigos.

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In November up to 200 Syrians seeking asylum in the EU began a sit-in in Athens’ main square in a bid for asylum status, temporary working permits and medical care. The financially strapped Greek government says it doesn’t have the resources to deal with the growing refugee problem.

The bulk of the refugees hope to leave Greece for Northern Europe. Based on EU immigration policy, the migrants cannot move to other EU countries unless on a tourist visa, and can only stay a maximum of 90 days in any six months.

UN and other humanitarian organizations, including Migrants’ Rights Network, urge the EU to speed up the process of receiving the refugees. The MRN says the EU can and must receive at least 180,000 migrants. However some countries are not eager to accept them.

“We’re not ready to accept everyone, we shouldn’t accept everyone, we don’t need everyone,” says Kent Ekeroth from Sweden Democrats Party.

Another problem that the migrants face is growing level of racism and Islamophobia. Dresden in Germany has already seen 10,000 people rally against the Islamization of the country, and another one has taken place this Monday.

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Often migrants seeking a new life in Europe try to enter EU countries illegally.

In October migrants clashed with the police in Calais as some 2,500 people tried to reach Great Britain which is seen by many as a safe haven, with a stable economy and strong tradition of tolerance toward refugees from war. The Mayor of Calais Natacha Bouchart said in September that the UK benefit system is a “magnet” for illegal immigrants, who see Britain as a “soft touch.”

Illegal African migrants from Morocco have also found a way to seek a new life in Europe by jumping over the fence built around the Spanish enclaves in North Africa.

One of the biggest escapes in nearly a decade occurred in March, when 1,000 people jumped the existing triple-layer wire fence built by the Spanish, with about half of them successful. Another 500 people tried to leap to freedom in May, with about a quarter getting through into Spain.

Later Moroccan authorities revealed a plan to erect a five-meter high wall, topped with blades and barbed wire, on the border with the Spanish North African enclave of Melilla. The measure will target migrants trying to cross into Europe.

Over 3,400 migrants and refugees have drowned in the Mediterranean Sea this year trying to reach the European coast. Italy has managed to rescue more than 150,000 people this year – a large number of whom have congregated around the island of Lampedusa near Sicily. The total number of people who have attempted the illegal crossing to Europe over the Mediterranean Sea this year is over 207,000.

Al Qaeda Terrorist Wanted by FBI Crossed Back and Forth Into U.S. From Mexico

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He crossed the border with impunity, even though he was on the FBI’s most wanted list. Why wasn’t he ever noticed or arrested? Was Obama’s FBI too busy conducting “outreach” meetings at mosques to devote any time or attention to apprehending him?

Adnan el Shukrijumah

“Al Qaeda Terrorist Wanted by FBI Crossed Back and Forth Into U.S. From Mexico,” Judicial Watch, December 8, 2014:

An Al Qaeda terrorist on the FBI’s most wanted list for years crossed back and forth into the United States from Mexico to meet fellow militant Islamists in Texas and piloted an aircraft into the Cielo Dorado airfield in Anthony, New Mexico, law enforcement sources tell Judicial Watch.

The same Al Qaeda operative helped plan the 2009 bombing of talk-show superstar Oprah Winfrey’s Chicago studios and the iconic Sears Tower (renamed Willis Tower), a story that Judicial Watch broke just last week. His name is Adnan G. El Shukrijumah (also known as “Javier Robles”) and over the weekend he was killed in Pakistan, according to military officials in the Islamic republic.

In 2010 Shukrijumah was indicted in the Eastern District of New York for his role in a terrorist plot to attack targets in the United States—including New York City’s subway system—and the United Kingdom, according the FBI. The plot against New York City’s subway system was directed by senior Al Qaeda leadership in Pakistan, the FBI says, and was also directly related to a scheme by Al Qaeda plotters in Pakistan to use Western operatives to attack a target in the United States.

A year earlier Shukrijumah helped plan a terrorist truck-bomb plot targeting Winfrey’s Harpo Studios and the Sears Tower. Two of his fellow conspirators—Emad Karakrah and Hector Pedroza Huerta—were recently arrested for unrelated state crimes in different parts of the country. Karakrah is in Cook County, Illinois Jail on charges of making a false car bomb threat after leading police on a high-speed chase through Chicago with an ISIS flag waving from his car in August. Huerta, an illegal alien twice convicted for driving intoxicated, is in the El Paso County Jail and is scheduled to be sentenced later this month.

The men form part of a sophisticated narco-terror ring, exposed by JW in October, with connections running from El Paso to Chicago to New York City. It includes an all-star lineup of logistics and transportation operatives for militant Islamists in the United State, drug and weapons smugglers for the Juarez drug cartel in Mexico, an FBI confidential informant gone rogue and two of the FBI’s most wanted terrorists. Shukrijumah is one of them.

Despite being one of the FBI’s most wanted terrorists, Shukrijumah for years managed to slip in and out of the U.S. through the southern border to meet fellow militant Islamists—including Karakrah and Huerta—in the El Paso region, JW’s law enforcement sources confirm. In fact, in March the most wanted terrorist piloted a private aircraft from Mexico into the airfield at Cielo Dorado in Anthony New Mexico, according to JW’s high-level government sources.

Citing Pakistani military officials, a newspaper syndicate confirms that he’s been killed. “In an intelligence-borne operation, top al-Qaeda leader Adnan el Shukrijumah was killed by (the) Pakistan Army in an early morning raid in Shinwarsak, South Waziristan today,” a military statement quoted in the story says. “The remote region borders Afghanistan. His accomplice and local facilitator were also killed in the raid.”

Shukrijumah, 39, probably could have qualified for Obama’s amnesty. He was born in Saudi Arabia and moved to the U.S. with his family as a youngster in the mid-1990s. As a teenager he lived in South Florida’s Broward County and he attended the local community college where he took computer science and chemistry classes, according to the area’s newspaper. His mother, Zurah Adbu Ahmed, still lives in South Florida, the paper reports.

- See more at: http://pamelageller.com/2014/12/al-qaeda-terrorist-wanted-by-fbi-crossed-back-and-forth-into-u-s-from-mexico.html/#sthash.roUx6yhG.dpuf

Does America realize the consequences of forcing Russia into China’s arms?

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In Ukraine, the US is cutting off its nose to spite its face, as it transforms a regional struggle over “spheres of influence” into a global one. Unless the runaway train is swiftly derailed, the world faces a 21st century standoff between east and west.

In 867AD, Æbbe the Younger, Mother Superior of the convent at Coldingham in Scotland cut off her nose and upper lip and urged her fellow nuns to also disfigure themselves. It wasn’t for sacrificial reasons; it was because Viking raiders had landed nearby and the Abbess feared they would rape the community and deprive them of their chastity. By destroying their appearance, Mother Æbbe, correctly, guessed the Nordic marauders would show no interest. She was right – the Vikings were so disgusted that they burned the entire convent to the ground.

From this event was born the phrase “cutting off the nose to spite the face.” Although the original circumstances were slightly different, the term is a warning against pursuing revenge in a way that would damage the instigator more than the object of the anger. The USA is doing precisely this in its current attitude to Russia. By “punishing” Russia for resisting Western attempts to “grab” Ukraine, it is laying the foundations for a far more serious estrangement.

A feud that began when President Putin stymied the hopes of elements in Washington to wage war with Syria now has the potential to reshape the entire world. You all know the story by now, neocon factions in the State Department took revenge against Putin’s perceived stubbornness by ratcheting up tensions in Ukraine, leading to a violent revolution and civil war. The Crimean people voted to rejoin Russia and Washington, in tandem with the EU, imposed sanctions on Moscow.

Except they weren’t the kind of sanctions designed to damage Russia’s ability to defend itself. Instead, they were clearly aimed at regime change by targeting close supporters of the Russian President. Subsequently, the short-sighted sanctions led to unprecedented approval ratings for Putin as the Russian people rallied around their leader. In their eyes, an attack on their President was an attack on the nation. What the State Department meddlers didn’t countenance is that Russians, with high levels of education, are too savvy to be hoodwinked by playground tactics.

Since then, bilateral relations between the White House and the Kremlin have reached their lowest point since the Russian Federation was founded in 1991. This has happened only 4 years after Putin advocated a free trade agreement between the EU and Russia. “A harmonious economic community stretching from Lisbon to Vladivostok,” as he wrote in Germany’s Süddeutsche Zeitung at the time.

In 48 months we have gone from a prospective giant Western alliance, with Russia at its centre, to a situation where Russia is now ready to possibly join an Eastern alliance led, to all intents and purposes, by China. We know neocons aren’t the brightest lights in the firmament but are they really this stupid?

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If you didn’t know the personalities involved and were asked to suggest the obvious alignment of the world, you’d probably say that Russia’s place was in the European camp. It shares a Christian faith with the rest of the continent and has always been at least a “slightly” European power – much like the United Kingdom.

In truth, Russia has little in common with Asian cultures, aside from geography. Even in the far eastern outpost of Vladivostok (which is on the far side of China), an Italian is far more likely to blend in than a Malaysian. This is not related to appearance – there are many ethnic east-Asians in the region, who regard themselves as thoroughly Russian and, by virtue, European. Indeed there are millions of people east of the Urals who have actually never set foot in what is generally considered to be Europe, but describe themselves as being Europeans. It’s a state of mind but, then again, Europe has always been as much an idea as a place.

For years commentators have speculated: “imagine Russia’s resources and military power with Western Europe’s technology and fiscal heft?” It would, of course, be the single most powerful economic and martial bloc in the world. Not only that, but such a rapprochement makes complete sense and has done since 1991.

However, it is Washington’s worst nightmare. An EU-Russia alliance and partial union would erode America’s influence in Europe. Hence, to knock it on head, just as it seemed Germany was warming to the notion, the US has managed to drive a massive wedge between Moscow and its natural allies in Europe.

Before they clap themselves on the back too loudly, the Americans might want to pause for a second. In pursuing this haphazard course, they’ve managed to send Russia hurtling into China’s warm embrace.

Thus, cutting off their nose to spite their face. Instead of allowing a tri-polar world, the US in control of the Americas, China in Asia, and a giant Eurasian alliance as a buffer – Washington has managed to create a much more confrontational bi-polar world. In the blue corner, the USA and a castrated, divided Europe which is being pulled in all kinds of directions and in the red corner, a resurgent China and a Russia that, most likely, would prefer to be in a different corner altogether, or none,

This is the way the US State Department wishes the world to be – in a constant state of chaos. Now, instead of a US-EU-Russia detente, they have managed to manufacture a new Cold War for the 21st century with Ukraine as the new Berlin.

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With Russia alienated by the West and China eager to buy high-end weaponry, a joint military pact seems the likely outcome. Concurrently, the previously zombie-like NATO has awoken like a pensioner who was discovered house music and fancies a last youthful dance.

If a Moscow-Beijing military alliance does take shape, such a bloc would dominate the Eurasian landmass, with naval bases all the way from the Baltic, via the Arctic and Pacific, to the South China Sea. A union between Russia’s advanced weaponry and China’s huge population and industrial muscle would eventually prove a match for NATO, thereby giving the US an excuse to ratchet up military spending. If Europe attempted to follow suit, it would likely deepen its economic malaise. The main point is that the whole notion is such an incredibly wasteful use of finite global resources.

The confrontation between Russia and the West is a gift that keeps on giving for China. Just as the self-destruction of the Euro-centric world a century ago allowed the building a new US-centric system, the weakening of the US will probably result in China becoming the world’s leading power. Europe’s last chance to stake its own claim, has evaporated into thin air thanks to a bone-headed, subservient (to Washington) strategy in eastern part of the continent. Europe’s inability to separate the European Union from the archaic NATO has been its undoing.

Four years after Putin proposed a Russian-EU alliance from “Lisbon to Vladivostok,” we instead have an embryonic new Cold War. It’s not too late to halt the wagons but time is limited. The next US administration, if it’s sufficiently blessed to be shorn of neocons, must decide which is more important to it: to antagonize Russia in the eastern borderlands, losing its world hegemony in the process, or to find a way of resolving friction with Moscow, thus halting the process of China’s accession to the role of global superpower.

OPERATION AURORAGOLD: HOW THE NSA HACKS CELLPHONE NETWORKS WORLDWIDE

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NSA has spied on hundreds of companies and organizations internationally

BY RYAN GALLAGHER TODAY AT 6:06 AM

In March 2011, two weeks before the Western intervention in Libya, a secret message was delivered to the National Security Agency. An intelligence unit within the U.S. military’s Africa Command needed help to hack into Libya’s cellphone networks and monitor text messages.

For the NSA, the task was easy. The agency had already obtained technical information about the cellphone carriers’ internal systems by spying on documents sent among company employees, and these details would provide the perfect blueprint to help the military break into the networks.

The NSA’s assistance in the Libya operation, however, was not an isolated case. It was part of a much larger surveillance program—global in its scope and ramifications—targeted not just at hostile countries.

According to documents contained in the archive of material provided to The Intercept by whistleblower Edward Snowden, the NSA has spied on hundreds of companies and organizations internationally, including in countries closely allied to the United States, in an effort to find security weaknesses in cellphone technology that it can exploit for surveillance.

The documents also reveal how the NSA plans to secretly introduce new flaws into communication systems so that they can be tapped into—a controversial tactic that security experts say could be exposing the general population to criminal hackers.

Codenamed AURORAGOLD, the covert operation has monitored the content of messages sent and received by more than 1,200 email accounts associated with major cellphone network operators, intercepting confidential company planning papers that help the NSA hack into phone networks.

One high-profile surveillance target is the GSM Association, an influential U.K.-headquartered trade group that works closely with large U.S.-based firms including Microsoft, Facebook, AT&T, and Cisco, and is currently being funded by the U.S. government to develop privacy-enhancing technologies.

Karsten Nohl, a leading cellphone security expert and cryptographer who was consulted by The Intercept about details contained in the AURORAGOLD documents, said that the broad scope of information swept up in the operation appears aimed at ensuring virtually every cellphone network in the world is NSA accessible.

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“Collecting an inventory [like this] on world networks has big ramifications,” Nohl said, because it allows the NSA to track and circumvent upgrades in encryption technology used by cellphone companies to shield calls and texts from eavesdropping. Evidence that the agency has deliberately plotted to weaken the security of communication infrastructure, he added, was particularly alarming.

“Even if you love the NSA and you say you have nothing to hide, you should be against a policy that introduces security vulnerabilities,” Nohl said, “because once NSA introduces a weakness, a vulnerability, it’s not only the NSA that can exploit it.”

NSA spokeswoman Vanee’ Vines told The Intercept in a statement that the agency “works to identify and report on the communications of valid foreign targets” to anticipate threats to the United States and its allies.

Vines said: “NSA collects only those communications that it is authorized by law to collect in response to valid foreign intelligence and counterintelligence requirements—regardless of the technical means used by foreign targets, or the means by which those targets attempt to hide their communications.”

Network coverage

The AURORAGOLD operation is carried out by specialist NSA surveillance units whose existence has not been publicly disclosed: the Wireless Portfolio Management Office, which defines and carries out the NSA’s strategy for exploiting wireless communications, and the Target Technology Trends Center, which monitors the development of new communication technology to ensure that the NSA isn’t blindsided by innovations that could evade its surveillance reach. The center’s logo is a picture of the Earth overshadowed by a large telescope; its motto is “Predict – Plan – Prevent.”

The NSA documents reveal that, as of May 2012, the agency had collected technical information on about 70 percent of cellphone networks worldwide—701 of an estimated 985—and was maintaining a list of 1,201 email “selectors” used to intercept internal company details from employees. (“Selector” is an agency term for a unique identifier like an email address or phone number.) From November 2011 to April 2012, between 363 and 1,354 selectors were “tasked” by the NSA for surveillance each month as part of AURORAGOLD, according to the documents. The secret operation appears to have been active since at least 2010.
The information collected from the companies is passed onto NSA “signals development” teams that focus on infiltrating communication networks. It is also shared with other U.S. Intelligence Community agencies and with the NSA’s counterparts in countries that are part of the so-called “Five Eyes” surveillance alliance—the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

Aside from mentions of a handful of operators in Libya, China, and Iran, names of the targeted companies are not disclosed in the NSA’s documents. However, a top-secret world map featured in a June 2012 presentation on AURORAGOLD suggests that the NSA has some degree of “network coverage” in almost all countries on every continent, including in the United States and in closely allied countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, and France.

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One of the prime targets monitored under the AURORAGOLD program is the London-headquartered trade group, the GSM Association, or the GSMA, which represents the interests of more than 800 major cellphone, software, and internet companies from 220 countries.

The GSMA’s members include U.S.-based companies such as Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, Microsoft, Facebook, Intel, Cisco, and Oracle, as well as large international firms including Sony, Nokia, Samsung, Ericsson, and Vodafone.

The trade organization brings together its members for regular meetings at which new technologies and policies are discussed among various “working groups.” The Snowden files reveal that the NSA specifically targeted the GSMA’s working groups for surveillance.

Claire Cranton, a spokeswoman for the GSMA, said that the group would not respond to details uncovered by The Intercept until its lawyers had studied the documents related to the spying.

“If there is something there that is illegal then they will take it up with the police,” Cranton said.

By covertly monitoring GSMA working groups in a bid to identify and exploit security vulnerabilities, the NSA has placed itself into direct conflict with the mission of the National Institute for Standards and Technology, or NIST, the U.S. government agency responsible for recommending cybersecurity standards in the United States. NIST recently handed out a grant of more than $800,000 to GSMA so that the organization could research ways to address “security and privacy challenges” faced by users of mobile devices.

The revelation that the trade group has been targeted for surveillance may reignite deep-seated tensions between NIST and NSA that came to the fore following earlier Snowden disclosures. Last year, NIST was forced to urge people not to use an encryption standard it had previously approved after it emerged NSA had apparently covertly worked to deliberately weaken it.

Jennifer Huergo, a NIST spokewoman, told The Intercept that the agency was “not aware of any activities by NSA related to the GSMA.” Huergo said that NIST would continue to work towards “bringing industry together with privacy and consumer advocates to jointly create a robust marketplace of more secure, easy-to-use, privacy-enhancing solutions.”

Encryption attack

The NSA focuses on intercepting obscure but important technical documents circulated among the GSMA’s members known as “IR.21s.”

Most cellphone network operators share IR.21 documents among each other as part of agreements that allow their customers to connect to foreign networks when they are “roaming” overseas on a vacation or a business trip. An IR.21, according to the NSA documents, contains information “necessary for targeting and exploitation.”

The details in the IR.21s serve as a “warning mechanism” that flag new technology used by network operators, the NSA’s documents state. This allows the agency to identify security vulnerabilities in the latest communication systems that can be exploited, and helps efforts to introduce new vulnerabilities “where they do not yet exist.”

The IR.21s also contain details about the encryption used by cellphone companies to protect the privacy of their customers’ communications as they are transmitted across networks. These details are highly sought after by the NSA, as they can aid its efforts to crack the encryption and eavesdrop on conversations.

Last year, the Washington Post reported that the NSA had already managed to break the most commonly used cellphone encryption algorithm in the world, known as A5/1. But the information collected under AURORAGOLD allows the agency to focus on circumventing newer and stronger versions of A5 cellphone encryption, such as A5/3.

The documents note that the agency intercepts information from cellphone operators about “the type of A5 cipher algorithm version” they use, and monitors the development of new algorithms in order to find ways to bypass the encryption.

In 2009, the British surveillance agency Government Communications Headquarters conducted a similar effort to subvert phone encryption under a project called OPULANT PUP, using powerful computers to perform a “crypt attack” to penetrate the A5/3 algorithm, secret memos reveal. By 2011, GCHQ was collaborating with the NSA on another operation, called WOLFRAMITE, to attack A5/3 encryption. (GCHQ declined to comment for this story, other than to say that it operates within legal parameters.)

The extensive attempts to attack cellphone encryption have been replicated across the Five Eyes surveillance alliance. Australia’s top spy agency, for instance, infiltrated an Indonesian cellphone company and stole nearly 1.8 million encryption keys used to protect communications, the New York Times reported in February.

The NSA’s documents show that it focuses on collecting details about virtually all technical standards used by cellphone operators, and the agency’s efforts to stay ahead of the technology curve occasionally yield significant results. In early 2010, for instance, its operatives had already found ways to penetrate a variant of the newest “fourth generation” smartphone-era technology for surveillance, years before it became widely adopted by millions of people in dozens of countries.

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The NSA says that its efforts are targeted at terrorists, weapons proliferators, and other foreign targets, not “ordinary people.” But the methods used by the agency and its partners to gain access to cellphone communications risk significant blowback.

According to Mikko Hypponen, a security expert at Finland-based F-Secure, criminal hackers and foreign government adversaries could be among the inadvertent beneficiaries of any security vulnerabilities or encryption weaknesses inserted by the NSA into communication systems using data collected by the AURORAGOLD project.

“If there are vulnerabilities on those systems known to the NSA that are not being patched on purpose, it’s quite likely they are being misused by completely other kinds of attackers,” said Hypponen. “When they start to introduce new vulnerabilities, it affects everybody who uses that technology; it makes all of us less secure.”

“IT AFFECTS EVERYBODY WHO USES THAT TECHNOLOGY; IT MAKES ALL OF US LESS SECURE.”
In December, a surveillance review panel convened by President Obama concluded that the NSA should not “in any way subvert, undermine, weaken, or make vulnerable generally available commercial software.” The panel also recommended that the NSA should notify companies if it discovers previously unknown security vulnerabilities in their software or systems—known as “zero days” because developers have been given zero days to fix them—except in rare cases involving “high priority intelligence collection.”

In April, White House officials confirmed that Obama had ordered NSA to disclose vulnerabilities it finds, though qualified that with a loophole allowing the flaws to be secretly exploited so long as there is deemed to be “a clear national security or law enforcement” use.

Vines, the NSA spokeswoman, told The Intercept that the agency was committed to ensuring an “open, interoperable, and secure global internet.”

“NSA deeply values these principles and takes great care to honor them in the performance of its lawful foreign-intelligence mission,” Vines said.

She declined to discuss the tactics used as part of AURORAGOLD, or comment on whether the operation remains active.

Democrats Make Discredited ‘Hands Up, Don’t Shoot’ Call on the House Floor

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Several lawmakers took to the House floor Monday evening to make the “Hands up, don’t shoot,” gesture to protest the police shooting of the unarmed Ferguson teen, Michael Brown.

“Hands up, don’t shoot. It’s a rallying cry of people all across America who are fed up with police violence,” Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) said as he took the floor. “In community, after community, after community, fed up with police violence in Ferguson, in Brooklyn, in Cleveland, in Oakland, in cities and counties and rural communities all across America.”

Jeffries added that people are fed up with injustice, a broken criminal justice system and “continuing to see young, unarmed African-American men killed as a result of a gunshot fired by a law enforcement officer.”

“Now this is a problem that Congress can’t run away from and the [Congressional Black Caucus] stands here today to make sure that Congress runs toward the problem,” Jeffries said. “That we come up with constructive solutions to breaking this cycle, this epidemic, this scourge of police violence all across America.”

Joining Jeffries were Reps. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) and Al Green (D-Texas), who praised the handful of St. Louis Rams’ players for also making the “hands up” gesture as they entered the field for their game on Sunday.

“This has become the new symbol, a new statement, a statement wherein people around the country now, are calling to the attention of those who don’t quite understand that this is a movement that will not dissipate, it will not evaporate. It is a movement that is going to continue,” Green said on the floor.