Germany tapped John Kerry’s phone, spied on Turkey for years – report

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Germany’s foreign intelligence agency eavesdropped at least one telephone conversation of US Secretary of State John Kerry and spied on NATO ally Turkey since 2009, Der Spiegel newspaper revealed on Saturday.

Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service (BND) picked up the phone call “by accident” in 2013, the weekly newspaper reported in a pre-publication citing unnamed sources. Kerry was discussing the Middle East tensions between Israelis, Palestinians and Arab states in a satellite link, according to Der Spiegel.

The new revelation comes after German media – Daily newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) and regional public broadcasters NDR and WDR – reported on Friday that BND intercepted at least one phone call made by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The date of the call was not given and the media said that it was also picked up “by accident”.

The German media retrieved the information of the hacking from documents that were passed to the CIA by one of its moles inside the BND.

On Saturday Der Spiegel reported that Clinton’s call recorded was intercepted in 2012. Clinton was in talks with former UN chief Kofi Annan, who had just returned from negotiations in Syria and wanted to brief the former Secretary of State.

The NDR added on Friday that Clinton wasn’t the only one spied on as “apparently, phone calls by US politicians and from other friendly nations have been repeatedly recorded and submitted to the respective BND President as instructed”.

“The fact that the recording wasn’t deleted immediately was called ‘idiocy’ by a member of the government in Berlin,” NDR reported.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

In another leak, Der Spiegel also learned that BND has been spying on its NATO ally Turkey since 2009. No further details on the scale of surveillance were given. Sources confirmed the wiretapping to the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, saying that it was essential for national security as there are many Turkish people living in Germany.

The government in Ankara says it intends to carefully investigate the Der Spiegel report.

“I am of the opinion that this needs to be taken seriously… Definitely, our government and foreign ministry will carry out the necessary research about the allegations in the magazine,” Mehmet Ali Sahin, deputy chairman of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), was quoted as saying by Agence France Presse.

According to Der Spiegel, the German government reviews its espionage program every four years but did not modify its priorities after the NSA scandal that deeply strained US-German relations last year.

The full version of the report will be published by Der Spiegel on Sunday.

In October, US whistleblower Edward Snowden leaked information that Washington had conducted intensive spying operations including tapping phones of at least 35 heads of state, including Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Merkel called US President Barack Obama over the issue, saying that if the revelations were proven to be true it would be “completely unacceptable” and represent a “grave breach of trust,” Steffen Seibert, a German government spokesman, said at the time.

The issue was brought up again in July when two US agents were unmasked, suspected of acting as double agents within the state security apparatus, and passing secrets to US intelligence contacts. In response to the espionage scandal Germany promptly expelled the Berlin CIA chief.

The new reports may escalate the growing political tension between the two states, key partners in the NATO military alliance.

Last month in an interview to German broadcaster ZDF Germany’s Chancellor said that Washington and Berlin have different perceptions of the role of the intelligence service.

“For me it is a sign that we have fundamentally different conceptions of the work of the intelligence services.”

“I can’t say in advance if [the measures we took] will have an effect, of course I hope something will change. But the important thing is to show how we view things… and it is not a co-operative partnership when such things take place.”

Elite US hackers shut down Syrian internet trying to snoop on traffic – Snowden

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An elite team of US government hackers left Syria without internet, when they tried to hack one of the cores routers but instead crashed it, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden said.

The three-day nationwide internet blackout in war-torn Syria in November 2012, which was blamed on either the government or the rebels, depending on who you listened to, was actually the doing of the Tailored Access Operations (TAO), a group of hackers in the employment of the US National Security Agency.

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden told the story to Wired magazine as it was preparing its cover story on MonsterMind, a US software designed to detect cyber-attacks and hit back in response.

NSA bot MonsterMind can wage cyberwar on its own – Snowden

According to his account, TAO attempted to remotely install malware in one of the core routers at a major Syrian internet service provider. The NSA launched the operation to snoop on virtually all internet traffic from Syria.

But instead of infecting the router the hackers ‘bricked’ it, effectively cutting the country from the web. Snowden called it an ‘oh shit’ moment for TAO, who tried to remotely repair the router hoping to cover up their tracks. They tensely joked that if they could “always point the finger at Israel,” if they got caught.

Luckily for them, the Syrian authorities were apparently too busy getting the country back online to get to the bottom of the incident. Damascus blamed ‘terrorists’ for the blackout while the rebels (and Washington) said the government had done it to hamper their communications.

Syria experienced two major internet blackouts since it went into turmoil in 2011, the second one reported in May 2013.

Eight More Things You Didn’t Know Are Racist

The Daily Caller’s Alphabet of Racism is still going strong. Here are eight things beginning with the letter ‘L’ you should know are racist.

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Los Angeles police dogs are racist, reported The Independent, after a 2013 report found that since 2004, the number of minority individuals bitten by police dogs had dramatically increased. And in the first six months of 2013, ”every single victim of a bite by a LASD dog was African-American or Latino,” the piece read.
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Sarah Palin was blasted by PoliticusUSA when she used the word lackadaisical to describe President Obama’s tendency to lead from behind. “That’s a bit of that lackadaisical eh you know, don’t have to take responsibility,” she said on Fox News last year in reference to the president’s handling of the Edward Snowden debacle. PoliticusUSA called her comments an “ugly racist rant,” because in the 1937 book Class and Caste in a Southern Town a racist person used the term lackadaisical to describe “Negro work habits.”

The film “Lucy” is racist, a Huffington Post writer explained in a rant about women and Hollywood, because it suggests that the most evolved human being is a white woman. “See, I just can’t get right with that,” Olivia Cole wrote, and added, “How is it that in a film whose premise rests on the idea of reimagining the past, present and future, we still end up with a blonde white woman with flashing blue eyes as the stand-in for what personifies evolution and supremely fulfilled human potential?” The answer, of course, is racism.

Singer Lorde is racist, according to the blog Feministing, which points to the lyrics of her hit single “Royals” as evidence. Here are the lyrics at issue:

But every song’s like gold teeth, grey goose, trippin’ in the bathroom.
Blood stains, ball gowns, trashin’ the hotel room,
We don’t care, we’re driving Cadillacs in our dreams.
But everybody’s like Cristal, Maybach, diamonds on your time piece.
The song is deeply racist, according to Feministing, because “we all know who she’s thinking about” when she mentions gold teeth, Cristal and Maybachs. “So why shit on black folks? Why shit on rappers?” the writer asks, “Why not take to task the bankers and old-money folks who actually have a hand in perpetuating and increasing wealth inequality? I’m gonna take a guess: racism.”

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In addition to pretty much every other Disney movie, “Lady and the Tramp” is likely racist. As Buzzfeed reported, the film’s villains are two Siamese cats with “stereotypical Asian speech and slanted eyes.”

The “Lord of the Rings” franchise is racist, the Chicago Tribune reports. Although the piece acknowledges author (Photo: Screenshot/YouTube)J.R.R. Tolkien himself probably meant no offense, it says the representation of race in the films is problematic, because, as usual, Caucasian men are the “good guys” and other races are the “bad guys.” For example, the piece mentions Aragorn’s warning to King Theoden that Saruman is out to “destroy the world of men.” A more accurate statement, the piece says, would have been “the forces of evil have assembled an army ‘to destroy the world of civilized white men.”

In a segment of “PoliticsNation” last year, host Touré informed MSNBC’s small audience that the term “lazy” is one of those racist code words conservatives use to attack President Obama. He and Al Sharpton were discussing a portion of Fox News President Roger Ailes’ biography, in which he suggests Obama is lazy. ”[Roger Ailes is] one of the most powerful voices in the country, and he’s attacking President Obama,” Sharpton complained. Touré then explained why it’s not OK to use the term in reference to black people: “This sort of ‘lazy’ term is something we heard flung at us as black people going back to slavery,” he said, “which, of course, you know, we perceive them as being guilty of not wanting to work. Of course they didn’t want to work. They were slaves.”

“Law and Order” is racist, because it suggested justice should be color-blind, according to the socialist, feminist, anti-racism website Solidarity. In one episode, three black kids steal a baseball bat from three white kids. When the mother of two of the white kids urges them to get their bat back, the white kids pick a fight with the black kids, whose father ends up shooting and killing one of the white kids. In an apparently racist decision that “floored” Solidarity, the court decides the mother and father are both guilty. “Real inequalities of wealth and social power — of race and class — disappear before ‘blind justice’ that sees not black and white, not workers and professionals, but “citizens” who appear as equals in ‘the eyes of the law,’” the piece explains.

Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2014/08/08/eight-more-things-you-didnt-know-are-racist/2/#ixzz39w6hR6YX

NSA mass spying undermines journalists and attorneys’ ability to work

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Dozens of journalists and attorneys surveyed by the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch for a new report say that the United States government’s surveillance operations are eroding their ability to work.

The results of the collaborative effort between the ACLU and HRW was published on Monday this week and contains a number of chilling accounts from Pulitzer Prize-winning reporters and acclaimed attorneys alike who say the US government’s spy programs have put a damper on their professions.

After surveying 92 participants — 46 reporters, 42 lawyers and a handful of current or former government officials — the authors of the 126-page “With Liberty to Monitor All” study conclude that US surveillance practices are “harming journalism, law and American democracy” by making it increasingly difficult for professionals tasked with keeping governments accountable and preserving justice from accomplishing as much.

In the wake of last year’s National Security Agency disclosures, the report found, journalists and attorneys who handle sensitive information are changing their work habits and how they communicate to keep personal details private and prevent government eavesdroppers from interfering.

“Freedoms of expression and association, as well as rights to a fair trial, are protected by the Constitution, and US officials speak with pride of the freedom of the media to report on matters of public concern and hold government to account for its actions,” the paper reads in part. “Yet, as this report documents, today those freedoms are very much under threat due to the government’s own policies concerning secrecy, leak prevention, and officials’ contact with the media, combined with large-scale surveillance programs.”

Several of the people surveyed told the study’s authors that they’ve drastically altered the way they do work in order to elude federal investigators: US President Barack Obama’s precedent-setting number of leak prosecutions has made national security sources more hesitant than ever to speak with reporters, and attorneys tasked with keeping their clients’ details safe told the ACLU and HRW that they fear they’re being spied on as well.

Among the chances those professionals have made to counter those fears, the report reveals, are tactics that range from relying on encrypted email and burner phones, to sending information through the Postal Service instead of the web and making fake travel plans to confuse any curious government eavesdroppers.

“I don’t want the government to force me to act like a spy. I’m not a spy; I’m a journalist,” one prominent reporter told the researchers.

“I’ll be damned if I have to start acting like a drug dealer in order to protect my client’s confidentiality,” added national security defense attorney Tom Durkin.

Nancy Hollander, the lawyer for convicted WikiLeaks source Chelsea Manning, told interviewers that she now concludes every professional email with a warning: “Based on recent news reports, it is possible that the NSA is monitoring this communication.”

“If the US fails to address these concerns promptly and effectively,” report author G. Alex Sinha writes, “it could do serious, long-term damage to the fabric of democracy in the country.”

THE “INSIDER THREAT PROGRAM” AND THE GOVERNMENT’S WAR ON WHISTLEBLOWERS

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The Obama Administration’s Orwellian government employee snitch network, dubbed the “Insider Threat Program,” first made headlines about a year ago.

By Scott Higham July 23

In early April, Sen. Charles E. Grassley summoned FBI officials to his Capitol Hill office. He said he wanted them to explain how a program designed to uncover internal security threats would at the same time protect whistleblowers who wanted to report wrongdoing within the bureau.

The meeting with two FBI officials, including the chief of the bureau’s Insider Threat Program, ended almost as soon as it began. The officials said the FBI would protect whistleblowers by “registering” them. When Grassley’s staff members asked them to elaborate, the FBI officials declined to answer any more questions and headed for the door.

“We’re leaving,” said J. Christopher McDonough, an FBI agent assigned to the bureau’s congressional affairs office, said Senate staff members who attended the meeting.

The episode infuriated Grassley (Iowa), a leading advocate for whistleblowers in Congress and the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Any effort to register whistleblowers, he said, would “clearly put a target on their backs.”

The Insider Threat Program and a continuous monitoring initiative under consideration in the intelligence community were begun by the Obama administration after the leaks of classified information by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and Army Pvt. Chelsea Manning, and the Navy Yard shootings by Aaron Alexis, who used his security clearance to gain access to the base.

The programs are designed to prevent leaks of classified information by monitoring government computers and employees’ behavior.

Grassley said the episode with the FBI illustrates how federal agencies are setting up internal security programs without giving careful consideration to whether they could dissuade whistleblowers from coming forward.

“The Insider Threat Program has the potential for taking the legs out from underneath all of the whistleblower protections we have,” Grassley said in a recent interview.

Greg Klein, the head of the FBI’s Insider Threat Program, and McDonough, the congressional affairs agent, did not return calls seeking comment. An FBI spokesman said the bureau does not plan to register whistleblowers. He said there was a misunderstanding about the nature of the briefing with staff members for Grassley, Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) and a law enforcement official who is assigned to the Senate panel. The spokesman noted that the FBI has a whistleblower training program for employees and a whistleblower protection office.

“We recognize the importance of protecting the rights of whistleblowers,” FBI spokesman Paul Bresson said.

Grassley is part of a growing chorus of lawmakers on Capitol Hill and attorneys for whistleblowers who warn that the Insider Threat Program and the potential intelligence community initiative threaten to undermine federal workers’ ability to report wrongdoing without retaliation.

Together, the programs cover millions of federal workers and contractors at every government agency.

In February, Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee that a system was being considered to continuously monitor the behavior of employees with security clearances “on the job as well as off the job.”

A senior intelligence official said a continuous monitoring program, mandated under the Intelligence Authorization Act and signed into law by President Obama on July 7, is being set up and initially will include federal employees who hold top-secret security clearances. The official said there are no plans to monitor employees after hours while they are using non-government computer systems.

“I think it’s time to put up the caution light here,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

While Wyden included a provision in the most recent Intelligence Authorization Act that would prohibit retaliation against whistleblowers, he said he remains concerned about the impact of the threat programs.

“This really has the potential for abuse, and I think it could have a chilling effect on the public’s right to know and effective oversight of our government,” Wyden said.

Dan Meyer, the head of the Intelligence Community Whistleblowing & Source Protection program, created last year as part of the Office of Intelligence Community Inspector General, said he is working to ensure that employees who want to report wrongdoing can do so anonymously and without reprisal.

“The critical thing is to maintain confidentiality,” Meyer said. He said he is preparing training materials for intelligence officers and spreading the word that employees can come to him anonymously through third parties.

If an employee has verifiable information about wrongdoing, a presidential directive takes effect, providing employees with protection against retaliation.

“We are in the process of making a systematic, cultural change and getting everyone on board,” Meyer said.

After Manning’s disclosures to WikiLeaks four years ago, Obama signed Executive Order 13587, directing government agencies to assess how they handle classified information. On Nov. 28, 2010, the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive issued a memo to senior government agency officials, advising them to identify insider threats.

The memo suggested using psychiatrists and sociologists to assess changes in employees’ behavior.

“What metrics do you use to measure ‘trustworthiness’ without alienating employees?” the counterintelligence office asked the agency chiefs. “Do you use a psychiatrist or sociologist to measure: relative happiness as a means to gauge trustworthiness? Despondence and grumpiness as a means to gauge waning trustworthiness?”

“It will only increase hostility between the government and really serious federal employees who are trying to improve the system,” said Lynne Bernabei, a partner at Bernabei & Wachtel in Washington who has been representing whistleblowers for nearly 30 years. “Turning the security apparatus against its own people is not going to work.”

Whistleblower lawyers said they understand the need to protect classified information but think some of the new programs go too far.

“There are legitimate reasons for employers to be on the lookout for people who might be leaking classified information, but this will obviously have a chilling effect on employees who might want to blow the whistle,” said Jason Zuckerman, who served as the senior legal adviser to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, the federal agency charged with protecting whistleblowers, and now represents whistleblowers nationwide.

Michael German, a former undercover FBI agent and whistleblower, called the Insider Threat Program a “dangerous” initiative.

“These agencies have long treated whistleblowers as security threats and this makes things even worse,” said German, now a senior national security fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law.

Mark S. Zaid, a lawyer who specializes in representing whistleblowers in the intelligence community and the military, said the administration is moving too quickly.

“They are using a very big net to catch a few small fish, and they are going to hurt a lot of good people in the process,” he said.

GCHQ FUROR, SNOWDEN KEEP NSA IN THE MEDIA SPOTLIGHT

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NSA will continue to stay in the news for a long time to come

By James RogersPublished July 22, 2014FoxNews

The controversy surrounding the National Security Agency is unlikely to fade anytime soon, thanks to a spying furor now engulfing the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) in Great Britain and the continued high profile of Edward Snowden, a U.K.-based security expert says.

“I think that we will hear a lot more about the tactics of the NSA,” Michela Menting, cybersecurity practice director at the tech analyst firm ABI Research, told FoxNews.com. “It’s certainly something that’s going to run for the next year or so.”

Hot on the heels of the firestorm that Snowden, a former NSA contractor, ignited when he stole a cache of NSA documents last year and began releasing them to the press, a document that appeared to detail cyber-espionage tricks at GCHQ, the American agency’s British counterpart, was leaked last week.

The document, posted by The Intercept, which reported it had been provided by Snowden, described a host of covert online tools used by GCHQ, including ways to manipulate online polls, send spoof emails and perform denial of service (DOS) attacks on Web servers.

In a statement emailed to FoxNews.com, GCHQ declined to comment on the document and said the agency’s work is carried out within “a strict legal and policy framework.”

The document outlined more than 100 code-named tools and projects, including “Angry Pirate,” a tool designed to “permanently disable a target’s account” on his computer, and “Hacienda,” a port-scanning tool “designed to scan an entire country or city.”

Menting said the slow release of Snowden’s documents would keep the heat on the NSA. “This trickle is more powerful, because you keep getting this constant flow of information,” she told FoxNews.com. “If you dump all the information at once, you dilute some of its potency.”

The document has also prompted speculation that NSA tools could be compromised. Security technology expert Bruce Schneier, author of “Liars and Outliers: Enabling the Trust that Society Needs to Thrive,” says that the document could prove problematic for the U.S. agency.

“My guess is that these tools are shared back and forth all the time,” he told FoxNews.com. “The countries’ intelligence agencies are very close partners – they share information and they share techniques.”

“They will be worried a little,” Menting said, but she noted that the NSA is better positioned than GCHQ to fix any compromised tools. “The U.S. has dedicated teams that they use to find their own vulnerabilities – the U.S. has more extensive capabilities in this domain than the U.K.”

In an interview transcript published by The Guardian on Friday, Snowden said British citizens are at greater risk of government snooping than people in the U.S. because GCHQ’s role is not “as strongly encoded in law or policy” as the NSA’s.

Snowden also alleged that sexually explicit photos from citizens’ private records were sometimes shared by military personnel working at the NSA. “These are seen as the fringe benefits of surveillance positions,” he said.

He described NSA auditing as inadequate. “People talk about things that they shouldn’t have done as if it’s no big deal because nobody expects any consequences. Nobody expects to be held to account.”

In an email to FoxNews.com, NSA spokeswoman Vanee Vines wrote, “NSA is a professional foreign-intelligence organization with a highly trained workforce, including brave and dedicated men and women from our armed forces. As we have said before, the agency has zero tolerance for willful violations of the agency’s authorities or professional standards, and would respond as appropriate to any credible allegations of misconduct.”

Government snooping continues to cause concern across the globe. Last week U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay released a report warning that nations on every continent are hiding their growing reliance on private companies to snoop on citizens.

‘Test it on Brits:’ Snowden says GCHQ even worse than NSA

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British intelligence is permitted to go further in surveillance than similar agencies in other Western countries, according to former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who spoke of GCHQ’s lack of oversight in a recent interview to the Guardian.

Snowden’s life in Russia: ‘Much happier than be unfairly tried in US’

Snowden believes the powers of the British intelligence are not restricted effectively enough by “law or policy”. Despite the UK government publicly claiming that regulations over the spy activity are strict, GCHQ’s private documents suggest the opposite is true.

“You’ve got their own admission in their own documents that ‘we’ve got a much lighter oversight regime than we should have,’ full stop,” Snowden said. “That’s what they’re talking about. They enjoy authorities that they really shouldn’t be entitled to.”

The lack of legal restrictions leads to UK intelligence being able to target more people than is necessary.

“Tempora [GCHQ’s internet surveillance program] is really proof … that GCHQ has much less-strict legal restrictions than other Western government intelligence.”

Taking that into account, Snowden is sure the UK citizens could be ones on whom intelligence techniques could be tested to then be used by all of the other so-called Five Eyes partners – Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand.

AFP Photo / Frederick Florin AFP Photo / Frederick Florin

“And what that means is UK citizens and UK intelligence platforms are used as a testing ground for all of the other Five Eyes partners,” he said.

In May, a group of British MPs called for more accountability on the part of the country’s intelligence. They said the confidential files, leaked by Edward Snowden revealed the “embarrassing” state of legal oversight into the British surveillance system.

US knew about Snowden file destruction at UK newspaper

Snowden recalled a raid on the Guardian’s offices a year ago to obtain and destroyed hard drives with leaked files as another example of the country’s intelligence going too far in its activity.

“It seemed like a clear intent to intimidate the press into pulling back and not reporting,” Snowden said. “And I think that was why it was inappropriate, but tremendously beneficial for the public conversation because they gave everyone who was concerned about the abuses of power a clear and specific example.”

The raid was not only intimidating, but also “stupid”, Snowden added, ridiculing the idea of someone trying to “grind data out of existence when we have a global interconnected internet.”

Obama’s ratings tumble in Germany, Russia in wake of NSA spying, Ukraine crisis

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Revelations of the National Security Agency’s global spy program, together with civil strife in Ukraine has severely damaged Barack Obama’s popularity among Brazilians, Germans and Russians, a major US polling agency reported.

Thanks to a series of global scandals, the United States in general, and its commander-in-chief in particular, have suffered a drop in favorability among the majority of countries polled by Pew Research.

“In 22 of 36 countries surveyed in both 2013 and 2014, people are significantly less likely to believe the US government respects the personal freedoms of its citizens,” the report said.

Spring 2014 Global Attitudes Survey, Pew ResearchSpring 2014 Global Attitudes Survey, Pew Research

Among privacy-loving Germans – many of whom have even refused to allow the Google Maps car to film their homes – Obama’s reputation nosedived when it was revealed that the NSA was collecting communication metadata not only on average Germans, but also on Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose personal mobile phone had been hacked by US intelligence.

Germans’ confidence in Obama sunk to 71 percent, 17 points down from 2013.

Tensions between NATO’s two biggest members escalated this month German authorities arrested a Defense Ministry official suspected of passing secrets to the US. This shocking incident came just one week after the arrest of a German intelligence officer who worked as a double agent for the Americans.

German authorities took the unprecedented step of ordering the expulsion of the Berlin CIA station chief.

“Revelations that Washington systematically reads both Americans’ and some foreigners’ emails and listens in on their telephone conversations appears to have significantly damaged Obama’s approval in only one European Union country: Germany,” Pew reported.

Brazilians’ confidence in the first black American leader dropped from 69 percent in 2013 to 52 percent presently.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, who was also the victim of NSA snooping on her personal communications, expressed her anger at those revelations by canceling an official visit to Washington in October.

Finally, Russia, which is watching neighboring Ukraine teeter on the edge of full-blown civil war, sees an American hand provoking the situation behind the scenes, especially after former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich decided against signing as association agreement with the European Union in favor of stronger ties with Moscow.

The decision by sparked a violent showdown in the capital Kiev, which has led to nationwide civil strife that continues today.

“Russian faith in Obama, already quite low in 2013, is down 14 points (to 15 percent), a likely casualty of the Ukraine confrontation,” Pew said.

Meanwhile, America’s once invincible reputation for protecting individual liberties has suffered a major reality check following damning revelations about the extent of NSA surveillance from whistleblower Edward Snowden, presently living in Russia, where he has been granted asylum.

Belief that the US government respects personal freedoms plummeted 25 points in Brazil to 50 percent over the last year; 23 points in Germany to 58 percent; 20 points to 40 percent in Russia; and 11 points to 69 percent in France. Meanwhile, even the United Kingdom, a trusted ally, appears to have experienced a chilling effect by America’s recent naughtiness, dropping 10 points to 65 percent.

Germany expels Berlin CIA chief

US drone strikes have also struck a negative chord among allies and enemies alike, including in NATO member states like Britain, France and Spain. In 37 of 44 surveyed countries, half or more of the public expressed disapproval of drone attacks.

SNOWDEN STRIKES AGAIN: UK intelligence used FACEBOOK, YOUTUBE to manipulate online behavior…

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Summary: A fresh set of documents leaked by Edward Snowden show how the UK intelligence agency can manipulate online polls and debates, spread messages, snoop on YouTube and track Facebook users.

By Charlie Osborne for Zero Day | July 15, 2014 — 08:10 GMT (01:10 PDT)

GCHQ has developed a toolkit of software programs used to manipulate online traffic, infiltrate users’ computers and spread select messages across social media sites including Facebook and YouTube.

Read more
The UK spy agency’s dark arts were revealed in documents first published by The Intercept, and each piece of software is described in a wiki document written up by GCHQ’s Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG). The document, which reads like a software inventory, calls the tools part of the agency’s “weaponised capability.”

Some of the most interesting capabilities of the tools on the list include the ability to seed the web with false information — such as tweaking the results of online polls — inflating pageview counts, censoring video content deemed “extremist” and the use of psychological manipulation on targets — something similar to a research project conducted with Facebook’s approval, which resulted in heavy criticism and outrage levied at the social media site.

A number of interesting tools and their short descriptions are below:

ASTRAL PROJECTION: Remote GSM secure covert Internet proxy using TOR hidden service
POISON ARROW: Safe malware download capability
AIRWOLF: YouTube profile, comment and video collection
BIRDSTRIKE: Twitter monitoring and profile collection
GLASSBACK: Technique of getting a target’s IP address by pretending to be a spammer and ringing them. Target does not need to answer.
MINIATURE HERO: Active skype capability. Provision of realtime call records (SkypeOut and SkypetoSkype) and bidirectional instant messaging. Also contact lists.
PHOTON TORPEDO: A technique to actively grab the IP address of MSN messenger user
SPRING-BISHOP: Finding private photos of targets on Facebook
BOMB BAY: The capacity to increase website hits, rankings
BURLESQUE: The capacity to send spoofed SMS messages
GESTATOR: Amplification of a given message, normally video, on popular multimedia websites (YouTube)
SCRAPHEAP CHALLENGE: Perfect spoofing of emails from Blackberry targets
SUNBLOCK: Ability to deny functionality to send/receive email or view material online
SWAMP DONKEY: A tool that will silently locate all predefined types of file and encrypt them on a targets machine
UNDERPASS: Change outcome of online polls (previously known as NUBILO).
WARPATH: Mass delivery of SMS messages to support an Information Operations campaign.
HUSK: Secure one-on-one web based dead-drop messaging platform.
The list, dated from 2012, says that most of the tools are “fully operational, tested and reliable,” and adds: “Don’t treat this like a catalogue. If you don’t see it here, it doesn’t mean we can’t build it.”

“We only advertise tools here that are either ready to fire or very close to being ready,” the document notes.

The release of these documents comes in the same week that the UK intelligence agency’s spying activities are being investigated by surveillance watchdog the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT). Civil liberty groups set a legal challenge against the GCHQ in order to question the legal standing of schemes such as Tempora — a project revealed in the NSA scandal that showed the agency placed data interceptors on fiber-optic cables that carry Internet traffic to and from the UK.