GCHQ FUROR, SNOWDEN KEEP NSA IN THE MEDIA SPOTLIGHT

Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 6.26.52 PM

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

Capture

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

obama20shhhh3-300x225

Capture

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…

Capture

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.

German-American friendship at crossroads, Berlin leaning toward Moscow?

Capture

As a never-ending stream of spy scandals put Washington-Berlin relations under unprecedented strain, Germans are increasingly asking themselves whether the country should be blindly following the US.

A recent poll for Der Spiegel showed that up to 57 percent of Germans would like Berlin to conduct policies more independent from the US, and an Op-Ed article by the publication asked more bluntly: “Germany’s Choice: Will It Be America or Russia?”

This question, previously unimaginable for Berlin, show just how deeply the US spy scandals are shattering German politics.

An unceasing row of intelligence scandals, that started over a year ago with revelations of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, have revealed that the US has been eavesdropping Germans, Chancellor Angela Merkel included, for years now.

The grandeur of the American eavesdropping effort against NATO allies forced German politicians to give the alliance with Washington a second thought.

The continuation of the spy scandals has put German elite in an “either/or” position, when they should either turn a blind eye on the current state of things and remain American protégé or dash away from American chokehold.

Though US Secretary of State John Kerry has told German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier that Washington and Berlin remain “great friends” despite the new spying scandal that rocked bilateral relations in recent two weeks, Germans themselves feel the friendship went wrong.

US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (R) , in Vienna, on July 13, 2014.(AFP Photo / Jim Bourg)US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (R) , in Vienna, on July 13, 2014.(AFP Photo / Jim Bourg)

Ever since the creation of the post-WWII West Germany in 1949, the country remained in the orbit of American foreign policy, not least because of a large number of American bases deployed in the country. After reunion with the East Germany in 1990, relations did not change a jot over the next two decades.

According to Der Spiegel, Chancellor Angela Merkel would probably like to distance herself from the scandal if Americans stop putting her in awkward situations, such as tapping her phone.

But as German intelligence agency the BND has found out, the Americans never calmed down and continued spying, this time sneaking documents of the investigation of NSA intelligence activities in Germany, Der Spiegel said.

“If it is confirmed that the spying activities against the BND also targeted the work of the NSA investigative committee, it will be an unprecedented assault on the parliament and our democratic institutions,” Der Spiegel cited Thomas Oppermann, parliamentary leader of the SPD.

Last Wednesday Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, indicated that German-American relations had hit a new low, mentioning “profound differences of opinion” between Berlin and Washington. Next day the CIA’s station chief in Germany was asked to leave the country.

The abovementioned Körber Foundation study revealed another interesting fact: approximately equal number of Germans sees their country cooperating the most in the future with either the US or Russia.

For nearly a quarter of a century since the reunion of the country, Germans have actually not questioned which side they are on.

But two things that have been growing on over the last year sort of “awakened” Germans from quiescence.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) and Russian President Vladimir Putin chat at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on July 13, 2014.(AFP Photo / Pedro Ugarte)German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) and Russian President Vladimir Putin chat at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on July 13, 2014.(AFP Photo / Pedro Ugarte)

The first is the NSA spy scandal that emerged in June 2013 and is still unwinding, which opened eyes of ordinary Germans being under constant surveillance from the US intelligence agencies.

The second one is the spreading civil war in Ukraine and economic sanctions against Russia promoted by Washington for alleged “support to Ukrainian separatists.” While for the US any sanctions Moscow would mean little economic losses, for Germany Russia is a major economic partner and cutting ties with Moscow would mean multibillion missed profit, hundreds of thousands of jobless citizens and giant losses for the economy in general.

Der Spiegel, a magazine that is well-informed on domestic policy, said: “Germany can no longer avoid the question of which side it supports.”

Whistleblower: NSA stores 80% of all phone calls, not just metadata – full audio

Capture

At least 80 percent of all audio calls are gathered and stored by the NSA, whistleblower William Binney has revealed. The former code-breaker says the spy agency’s ultimate aim is no less than total population control.

The National Security Agency lies about what it stores, said William Binney, one of the highest profile whistleblowers to ever emerge from the NSA, at a conference in London organized by the Center for Investigative Journalism on July 5. Binney left the agency shortly after the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center because he was disgusted at the organizations move towards public surveillance.

Former technical director of the National Security Agency (NSA) William Binney (Reuters/Thomas Peter)Former technical director of the National Security Agency (NSA) William Binney (Reuters/Thomas Peter)

“At least 80 percent of fiber-optic cables globally go via the US,” Binney said. “This is no accident and allows the US to view all communication coming in. At least 80 percent of all audio calls, not just metadata, are recorded and stored in the US. The NSA lies about what it stores.”

Binney has no evidence to substantiate his claims as he did not take any documents with him when he left the NSA. However, he insists the organization is untruthful about its intelligence gathering practices and their ultimate aim. He says that recent Supreme Court decisions have led him to believe the NSA won’t stop until it has complete control over the population.

“The ultimate goal of the NSA is total population control,” Binney said, “but I’m a little optimistic with some recent Supreme Court decisions, such as law enforcement mostly now needing a warrant before searching a smartphone.”

During his speech at the conference, Binney praised spy-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden for disseminating the classified documents that revealed the NSA’s global spy programs. The latest revelations showed that contrary to the NSA’s claims, the majority of information the agency gathers is from ordinary citizens with no connection to terrorism.

NSA gathered ‘startlingly intimate’ data on ordinary citizens, Snowden data reveals

Washington has defended its spy programs, claiming that the NSA targets individuals with connections to known terrorist groups to thwart attacks. Binney said this was a lie and the NSA had stopped “zero attacks” with its intelligence gathering programs.

One of the main factors that has allowed the NSA to increase its spy programs is the lack of oversight in the US, argues Binney. In particular, he took issue with the Foreign Surveillance Court (FISA), which oversees the issue of search warrants against people suspected of terrorism. Binney believes the court is meaningless and always sides with the US government.

“The Fisa court has only the government’s point of view,” he said. “There are no other views for the judges to consider. There have been at least 15-20 trillion constitutional violations for US domestic audiences and you can double that globally.”

Revelations about US global spy programs have sparked mass indignation, with one American judge saying the surveillance was almost Orwellian in nature. German Chancellor Angela Merkel also compared US intelligence policy to the antics of the Stasi secret police in the former East Germany.

HIGH-LEVEL NSA OFFICIAL: THE NSA HAS BECOME “J. EDGAR HOOVER ON SUPER STEROIDS”

Capture

Spying On – and Blackmailing – Politicians, Generals, Judges, Lawyers and Citizens

by WASHINGTON’S BLOG | JULY 10, 2014

The newly-published revelations from Edward Snowden show that the NSA and FBI spied on anAmerican citizen running for political office:

The NSA also surveilled a U.S. citizen while he ran for political office:https://t.co/UzFya8ltmjpic.twitter.com/3jZdsYxQRG

The Washington Post’s report last week also shows that the NSA also collected information on President Obama, both as president-elect and as president:

A “minimized U.S. president-elect” begins to appear in the files in early 2009, and references to the current “minimized U.S. president” appear 1,227 times in the following four years.
While the particular NSA reports discussed by the Washington Post don’t specifically mention Obama by name, the Post notes:

[These minimization attempts] border on the absurd, using titles that could apply to only one man.
Of course, the NSA has pretty much admitted to spying on Congress. And see this.

And even the raw data on American citizens collected by the NSA is shared with Israel. This likelyincludes Congress members and other politicians, as well.

But these new reports add some weight to the allegations of high-level NSA whistleblower Bill Binney, who told Washington’s Blog that NSA surveillance allows the government to target:

“[CIA head] General Petraeus and General Allen and others like [New York State Attorney General] Elliot Spitzer”
“Supreme Court Judges, other judges, Senators, Representatives, law firms and lawyers, and just anybody you don’t like … reporters included”
Binney also told us on Monday:

Bulk collection of everything gives law enforcement all the data they need on every citizen in the country. And, it gives NSA all that info on everyone too. Makes them akin to a J. Edgar Hoover on super steroids.
FBI head Hoover was famous for blackmailing everyone … including politicians. The New York Timesreports:

J. Edgar Hoover compiled secret dossiers on the sexual peccadillos and private misbehavior of those he labeled as enemies — really dangerous people like … President John F. Kennedy, for example.
Alfred McCoy – Professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison – provides details:

Upon taking office on Roosevelt’s death in early 1945, Harry Truman soon learned the extraordinary extent of FBI surveillance. “We want no Gestapo or Secret Police,” Truman wrote in his diary that May. “FBI is tending in that direction. They aredabbling in sex-life scandals and plain blackmail.”

After a quarter of a century of warrantless wiretaps, Hoover built up a veritable archive of sexual preferences among America’s powerful and used it to shape the direction of U.S. politics. He distributed a dossier on Democratic presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson’s alleged homosexuality to assure his defeat in the 1952 presidential elections,circulated audio tapes of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s philandering, and monitoredPresident Kennedy’s affair with mafia mistress Judith Exner. And these are just a small sampling of Hoover’s uses of scandal to keep the Washington power elite under his influence.

“The moment [Hoover] would get something on a senator,” recalled William Sullivan, the FBI’s chief of domestic intelligence during the 1960s, “he’d send one of the errand boys up and advise the senator that ‘we’re in the course of an investigation, and we by chance happened to come up with this data on your daughter…’ From that time on, the senator’s right in his pocket.” After his death, an official tally found Hoover had 883 such files on senators and 722 more on congressmen.

***

With a few hundred cable probes and computerized decryption, the NSA can now capture the kind of gritty details of private life that J. Edgar Hoover so treasured and provide the sort of comprehensive coverage of populations once epitomized by secret police like East Germany’s Stasi. And yet, such comparisons only go so far.

After all, once FBI agents had tapped thousands of phones, stenographers had typed up countless transcripts, and clerks had stored this salacious paper harvest in floor-to-ceiling filing cabinets, J. Edgar Hoover still only knew about the inner-workings of the elite in one city: Washington, D.C. To gain the same intimate detail for an entire country, the Stasi had to employ one police informer for every six East Germans — an unsustainable allocation of human resources. By contrast, the marriage of the NSA’s technology to the Internet’s data hubs now allows the agency’s 37,000 employees a similarly close coverage of the entire globe with just one operative for every 200,000 people on the planet.

***

In the Obama years, the first signs have appeared that NSA surveillance will use the information gathered to traffic in scandal, much as Hoover’s FBI once did. In September 2013, the New York Times reported that the NSA has, since 2010, applied sophisticated software to create “social network diagrams…, unlock as many secrets about individuals as possible…, and pick up sensitive information likeregular calls to a psychiatrist’s office, late-night messages to an extramarital partner.”

***

By collecting knowledge — routine, intimate, or scandalous — about foreign leaders, imperial proconsuls from ancient Rome to modern America have gained both the intelligence and aura of authority necessary for dominion over alien societies. The importance, and challenge, of controlling these local elites cannot be overstated. During its pacification of the Philippines after 1898, for instance, the U.S. colonial regime subdued contentious Filipino leaders via pervasive policing that swept up both political intelligence and personal scandal. And that, of course, was just what J. Edgar Hoover was doing in Washington during the 1950s and 1960s.

***

According to James Bamford, author of two authoritative books on the agency, “TheNSA’s operation is eerily similar to the FBI’s operations under J. Edgar Hoover in the 1960s where the bureau used wiretapping to discover vulnerabilities, such as sexual activity, to ‘neutralize’ their targets.”

The ACLU’s Jameel Jaffer has warned that a president might “ask the NSA to use the fruits of surveillance to discredit a political opponent, journalist, or human rights activist. The NSA has used its power that way in the past and it would be naïve to think it couldn’t use its power that way in the future.” Even President Obama’s recently convened executive review of the NSA admitted: “[I]n light of the lessons of our own history… at some point in the future, high-level government officials will decide that this massive database of extraordinarily sensitive private information is there for the plucking.”

Indeed, whistleblower Edward Snowden has accused the NSA of actually conducting such surveillance. In a December 2013 letter to the Brazilian people, he wrote, “They even keep track of who is having an affair or looking at pornography, in case they need to damage their target’s reputation.” If Snowden is right, then one key goal of NSA surveillance of world leaders is not U.S. national security but political blackmail— as it has been since 1898.
Postscript: NSA whistleblower Russell Tice (a key source in the 2005 New York Times report that blew the lid off the Bush administration’s use of warrantless wiretapping), also says:

The NSA isspying onandblackmailingits overseers in Washington, as well as Supreme Court judges, generals and others
The agency started spying on Barack Obama when he was just a candidate for the Senate

‘Second CIA spy in Germany’: Berlin raids Ministry of Defense

German authorities have carried out a raid on the residence of a defense ministry official suspected of passing secrets to the US, just one week after the arrest of a German intelligence officer who worked as a double agent.

Officials from the Federal Prosecutor’s Office said Wednesday that residential and office premises of the staff of the Federal Ministry of Defense in Berlin were searched on “initial suspicion of activity for an intelligence agency.”

According to the German newspaper Die Welt, a soldier of the Bundeswehr is suspected of committing espionage. The individual was said to have made “intensive contacts” with alleged US intelligence officials and was under the surveillance of the Military Intelligence (MAD) some time ago.

“When sufficient evidence existed, the case was handed over to the federal prosecutor,” security sources told the paper.

The news comes just one week after a 31-year-old German intelligence official was arrested on suspicion of spying for a “foreign power” since 2012. German media reported the double agent, who has not been identified, worked on behalf of the CIA..

Meanwhile, the United States has not denied allegations that the German intelligence officer arrested earlier was passing secret files to the US National Security Agency (NSA).

U.S. President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (Reuters)U.S. President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (Reuters)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke on Monday following the initial spy investigations, declaring, “It would be a clear contradiction of what I consider to be trusting co-operation” with the United States.

Americans admit to recruiting German spy

Relations between Berlin and Washington, representatives of NATO’s two largest members, were already strained after NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden last year released documents showing that the NSA was conducting wide-scale surveillance on German citizens’ communications – up to and including Chancellor Angela Merkel’s personal cellphone.

US Ambassador to Germany John B. Emerson was summoned to the Foreign Ministry on Friday following news of the first case. A German official who spoke on condition of anonymity told AP that Emerson was at the ministry again on Wednesday, although the reason for the latest meeting was not publicly announced.

NSA Files Provided by Snowden Show Extent to Which Ordinary Web Users Are Caught in the Net

13_si

In NSA-intercepted data, those not targeted far outnumber the foreigners who are

By Barton Gellman, Julie Tate and Ashkan Soltani July 5 at 8:46 PM 

Ordinary Internet users, American and non-American alike, far outnumber legally targeted foreigners in the communications intercepted by the National Security Agency from U.S. digital networks, according to a four-month investigation by The Washington Post.

Nine of 10 account holders found in a large cache of intercepted conversations, which former NSA contractor Edward Snowden provided in full to The Post, were not the intended surveillance targets but were caught in a net the agency had cast for somebody else.

Many of them were Americans. Nearly half of the surveillance files, a strikingly high proportion, contained names, e-mail addresses or other details that the NSA marked as belonging to U.S. citizens or residents. NSA analysts masked, or “minimized,” more than 65,000 such references to protect Americans’ privacy, but The Post found nearly 900 additional e-mail addresses, unmasked in the files, that could be strongly linked to U.S. citizens or U.S.residents.

The surveillance files highlight a policy dilemma that has been aired only abstractly in public. There are discoveries of considerable intelligence value in the intercepted messages — and collateral harm to privacy on a scale that the Obama administration has not been willing to address.

Among the most valuable contents — which The Post will not describe in detail, to avoid interfering with ongoing operations — are fresh revelations about a secret overseas nuclear project, double-dealing by an ostensible ally, a military calamity that befell an unfriendly power, and the identities of aggressive intruders into U.S. computer networks.

A breakdown of the cache of NSA-intercepted communications provided to the Washington Post by Edward Snowden

Months of tracking communications across more than 50 alias accounts, the files show, led directly to the 2011 capture in Abbottabad of Muhammad Tahir Shahzad, a Pakistan-based bomb builder, and Umar Patek, a suspect in a 2002 terrorist bombing on the Indonesian island of Bali. At the request of CIA officials, The Post is withholding other examples that officials said would compromise ongoing operations.

Many other files, described as useless by the analysts but nonetheless retained, have a startlingly intimate, even voyeuristic quality. They tell stories of love and heartbreak, illicit sexual liaisons, mental-health crises, political and religious conversions, financial anxieties and disappointed hopes. The daily lives of more than 10,000 account holders who were not targeted are catalogued and recorded nevertheless.

In order to allow time for analysis and outside reporting, neither Snowden nor The Post has disclosed until now that he obtained and shared the content of intercepted communications. The cache Snowden provided came from domestic NSA operations under the broad authority granted by Congress in 2008 with amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. FISA content is generally stored in closely controlled data repositories, and for more than a year, senior government officials have depicted it as beyond Snowden’s reach.

The Post reviewed roughly 160,000 intercepted e-mail and instant-message conversations, some of them hundreds of pages long, and 7,900 documents taken from more than 11,000 online accounts.

The material spans President Obama’s first term, from 2009 to 2012, a period of exponential growth for the NSA’s domestic collection.

Taken together, the files offer an unprecedented vantage point on the changes wrought by Section 702 of the FISA amendments, which enabled the NSA to make freer use of methods that for 30 years had required probable cause and a warrant from a judge. One program, code-named PRISM, extracts content stored in user accounts at Yahoo, Microsoft, Facebook, Google and five other leading Internet companies. Another, known inside the NSA as Upstream, intercepts data on the move as it crosses the U.S. junctions of global voice and data networks.

No government oversight body, including the Justice Department, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, intelligence committees in Congress or the president’s Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, has delved into a comparably large sample of what the NSA actually collects — not only from its targets but also from people who may cross a target’s path.

A composite image of two of the more than 5,000 private photos among data collected by the National Security Agency from online accounts and network links in the United States. The images were included in a large cache of NSA intercepts provided by former agency contractor Edward Snowden. (Images obtained by The Washington Post)

Among the latter are medical records sent from one family member to another, résumés from job hunters and academic transcripts of schoolchildren. In one photo, a young girl in religious dress beams at a camera outside a mosque.

Scores of pictures show infants and toddlers in bathtubs, on swings, sprawled on their backs and kissed by their mothers. In some photos, men show off their physiques. In others, women model lingerie, leaning suggestively into a webcam or striking risque poses in shorts and bikini tops.

“None of the hits that were received were relevant,” two Navy cryptologic technicians write in one of many summaries of nonproductive surveillance. “No additional information,” writes a civilian analyst. Another makes fun of a suspected kidnapper, newly arrived in Syria before the current civil war, who begs for employment as a janitor and makes wide-eyed observations about the state of undress displayed by women on local beaches.

By law, the NSA may “target” only foreign nationals located overseas unless it obtains a warrant based on probable cause from a special surveillance court. For collection under PRISM and Upstream rules, analysts must state a reasonable belief that the target has information of value about a foreign government, a terrorist organization or the spread of nonconventional weapons.

Most of the people caught up in those programs are not the targets and would not lawfully qualify as such. “Incidental collection” of third-party communications is inevitable in many forms of surveillance, but in other contexts the U.S. government works harder to limit and discard irrelevant data. In criminal wiretaps, for example, the FBI is supposed to stop listening to a call if a suspect’s wife or child is using the phone.

There are many ways to be swept up incidentally in surveillance aimed at a valid foreign target. Some of those in the Snowden archive were monitored because they interacted directly with a target, but others had more-tenuous links.

If a target entered an online chat room, the NSA collected the words and identities of every person who posted there, regardless of subject, as well as every person who simply “lurked,” reading passively what other people wrote.

“1 target, 38 others on there,” one analyst wrote. She collected data on them all.

In other cases, the NSA designated as its target the Internet protocol, or IP, address of a computer server used by hundreds of people.

The NSA treats all content intercepted incidentally from third parties as permissible to retain, store, search and distribute to its government customers. Raj De, the agency’s general counsel, has testified that the NSA does not generally attempt to remove irrelevant personal content, because it is difficult for one analyst to know what might become relevant to another.

The Obama administration declines to discuss the scale of incidental collection. The NSA, backed by Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., has asserted that it is unable to make any estimate, even in classified form, of the number of Americans swept in. It is not obvious why the NSA could not offer at least a partial count, given that its analysts routinely pick out “U.S. persons” and mask their identities, in most cases, before distributing intelligence reports.

If Snowden’s sample is representative, the population under scrutiny in the PRISM and Upstream programs is far larger than the government has suggested. In a June 26 “transparency report,” the Office of the Director of National Intelligence disclosed that 89,138 people were targets of last year’s collection under FISA Section 702. At the 9-to-1 ratio of incidental collection in Snowden’s sample, the office’s figure would correspond to nearly 900,000 accounts, targeted or not, under surveillance.

‘He didn’t get this data’

U.S. intelligence officials declined to confirm or deny in general terms the authenticity of the intercepted content provided by Snowden, but they made off-the-record requests to withhold specific details that they said would alert the targets of ongoing surveillance. Some officials, who declined to be quoted by name, described Snowden’s handling of the sensitive files as reckless.

In an interview, Snowden said “primary documents” offered the only path to a concrete debate about the costs and benefits of Section 702 surveillance. He did not favor public release of the full archive, he said, but he did not think a reporter could understand the programs “without being able to review some of that surveillance, both the justified and unjustified.”

“While people may disagree about where to draw the line on publication, I know that you and The Post have enough sense of civic duty to consult with the government to ensure that the reporting on and handling of this material causes no harm,” he said.

In Snowden’s view, the PRISM and Upstream programs have “crossed the line of proportionality.”

“Even if one could conceivably justify the initial, inadvertent interception of baby pictures and love letters of innocent bystanders,” he added, “their continued storage in government databases is both troubling and dangerous. Who knows how that information will be used in the future?”

For close to a year, NSA and other government officials have appeared to deny, in congressional testimony and public statements, that Snowden had any access to the material.

As recently as May, shortly after he retired as NSA director, Gen. Keith Alexander denied that Snowden could have passed FISA content to journalists.

“He didn’t get this data,” Alexander told a New Yorker reporter. “They didn’t touch —”

“The operational data?” the reporter asked.

“They didn’t touch the FISA data,” Alexander replied. He added, “That database, he didn’t have access to.”

Robert S. Litt, the general counsel for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, said in a prepared statement that Alexander and other officials were speaking only about “raw” intelligence, the term for intercepted content that has not yet been evaluated, stamped with classification markings or minimized to mask U.S. identities.

“We have talked about the very strict controls on raw traffic, the training that people have to have, the technological lockdowns on access,” Litt said. “Nothing that you have given us indicates that Snowden was able to circumvent that in any way.”

In the interview, Snowden said he did not need to circumvent those controls, because his final position as a contractor for Booz Allen at the NSA’s Hawaii operations center gave him “unusually broad, unescorted access to raw SIGINT [signals intelligence] under a special ‘Dual Authorities’ role,” a reference to Section 702 for domestic collection and Executive Order 12333 for collection overseas. Those credentials, he said, allowed him to search stored content — and “task” new collection — without prior approval of his search terms.

“If I had wanted to pull a copy of a judge’s or a senator’s e-mail, all I had to do was enter that selector into XKEYSCORE,” one of the NSA’s main query systems, he said.

The NSA has released an e-mail exchange acknowledging that Snowden took the required training classes for access to those systems.

‘Minimized U.S. president’

At one level, the NSA shows scrupulous care in protecting the privacy of U.S. nationals and, by policy, those of its four closest intelligence allies — Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

More than 1,000 distinct “minimization” terms appear in the files, attempting to mask the identities of “possible,” “potential” and “probable” U.S. persons, along with the names of U.S. beverage companies, universities, fast-food chains and Web-mail hosts.

Some of them border on the absurd, using titles that could apply to only one man. A “minimized U.S. president-elect” begins to appear in the files in early 2009, and references to the current “minimized U.S. president” appear 1,227 times in the following four years.

Even so, unmasked identities remain in the NSA’s files, and the agency’s policy is to hold on to “incidentally” collected U.S. content, even if it does not appear to contain foreign intelligence.

In one exchange captured in the files, a young American asks a Pakistani friend in late 2009 what he thinks of the war in Afghanistan. The Pakistani replies that it is a religious struggle against 44 enemy states.

Startled, the American says “they, ah, they arent heavily participating . . . its like . . . in a football game, the other team is the enemy, not the other teams waterboy and cheerleaders.”

“No,” the Pakistani shoots back. “The ther teams water boy is also an enemy. it is law of our religion.”

“haha, sorry thats kind of funny,” the American replies.

When NSA and allied analysts really want to target an account, their concern for U.S. privacy diminishes. The rationales they use to judge foreignness sometimes stretch legal rules or well-known technical facts to the breaking point.

In their classified internal communications, colleagues and supervisors often remind the analysts that PRISM and Upstream collection have a “lower threshold for foreignness ‘standard of proof’ ” than a traditional surveillance warrant from a FISA judge, requiring only a “reasonable belief” and not probable cause.

One analyst rests her claim that a target is foreign on the fact that his e-mails are written in a foreign language, a quality shared by tens of millions of Americans. Others are allowed to presume that anyone on the chat “buddy list” of a known foreign national is also foreign.

In many other cases, analysts seek and obtain approval to treat an account as “foreign” if someone connects to it from a computer address that seems to be overseas. “The best foreignness explanations have the selector being accessed via a foreign IP address,” an NSA supervisor instructs an allied analyst in Australia.

Apart from the fact that tens of millions of Americans live and travel overseas, additional millions use simple tools called proxies to redirect their data traffic around the world, for business or pleasure. World Cup fans this month have been using a browser extension called Hola to watch live-streamed games that are unavailable from their own countries. The same trick is routinely used by Americans who want to watch BBC video. The NSA also relies routinely on locations embedded in Yahoo tracking cookies, which are widely regarded by online advertisers as unreliable.

In an ordinary FISA surveillance application, the judge grants a warrant and requires a fresh review of probable cause — and the content of collected surveillance — every 90 days. When renewal fails, NSA and allied analysts sometimes switch to the more lenient standards of PRISM and Upstream.

“These selectors were previously under FISA warrant but the warrants have expired,” one analyst writes, requesting that surveillance resume under the looser standards of Section 702. The request was granted.

‘I don’t like people knowing’

She was 29 and shattered by divorce, converting to Islam in search of comfort and love. He was three years younger, rugged and restless. His parents had fled Kabul and raised him in Australia, but he dreamed of returning to Afghanistan.

One day when she was sick in bed, he brought her tea. Their faith forbade what happened next, and later she recalled it with shame.

“what we did was evil and cursed and may allah swt MOST merciful forgive us for giving in to our nafs [desires]”

Still, a romance grew. They fought. They spoke of marriage. They fought again.

All of this was in the files because, around the same time, he went looking for the Taliban.

He found an e-mail address on its English-language Web site and wrote repeatedly, professing loyalty to the one true faith, offering to “come help my brothers” and join the fight against the unbelievers.

On May 30, 2012, without a word to her, he boarded a plane to begin a journey to Kandahar. He left word that he would not see her again.

If that had been the end of it, there would not be more than 800 pages of anguished correspondence between them in the archives of the NSA and its counterpart, the Australian Signals Directorate.

He had made himself a target. She was the collateral damage, placed under a microscope as she tried to adjust to the loss.

Three weeks after he landed in Kandahar, she found him on Facebook.

“Im putting all my pride aside just to say that i will miss you dearly and your the only person that i really allowed myself to get close to after losing my ex husband, my dad and my brother.. Im glad it was so easy for you to move on and put what we had aside and for me well Im just soo happy i met you. You will always remain in my heart. I know you left for a purpose it hurts like hell sometimes not because Im needy but because i wish i could have been with you.”

His replies were cool, then insulting, and gradually became demanding. He would marry her but there were conditions. She must submit to his will, move in with his parents and wait for him in Australia. She must hand him control of her Facebook account — he did not approve of the photos posted there.

She refused. He insisted:

“look in islam husband doesnt touch girl financial earnigs unless she agrees but as far as privacy goes there is no room….i need to have all ur details everything u do its what im supposed to know that will guide u whether its right or wrong got it”

Later, she came to understand the irony of her reply:

“I don’t like people knowing my private life.”

Months of negotiations followed, with each of them declaring an end to the romance a dozen times or more. He claimed he had found someone else and planned to marry that day, then admitted it was a lie. She responded:

“No more games. You come home. You won’t last with an afghan girl.”

She begged him to give up his dangerous path. Finally, in September, she broke off contact for good, informing him that she was engaged to another man.

“When you come back they will send you to jail,” she warned.

They almost did.

In interviews with The Post, conducted by telephone and Facebook, she said he flew home to Australia last summer, after failing to find members of the Taliban who would take him seriously. Australian National Police met him at the airport and questioned him in custody. They questioned her, too, politely, in her home. They showed her transcripts of their failed romance. When a Post reporter called, she already knew what the two governments had collected about her.

Eventually, she said, Australian authorities decided not to charge her failed suitor with a crime. Police spokeswoman Emilie Lovatt declined to comment on the case.

Looking back, the young woman said she understands why her intimate correspondence was recorded and parsed by men and women she did not know.

“Do I feel violated?” she asked. “Yes. I’m not against the fact that my privacy was violated in this instance, because he was stupid. He wasn’t thinking straight. I don’t agree with what he was doing.”

What she does not understand, she said, is why after all this time, with the case long closed and her own job with the Australian government secure, the NSA does not discard what it no longer needs.

Jennifer Jenkins and Carol D. Leonnig contributed to this report.

VISITING WEBSITES ABOUT PRIVACY GETS YOU PUT IN AN NSA DATABASE OF “EXTREMISTS”

Merely expressing an interest in anonymity makes you a target

by PAUL JOSEPH WATSON | JULY 3, 2014

Searching for online articles about privacy is enough to get someone put in an NSA database of “extremists,” according to new revelations published today.

In an article for German news outlet Tagesschau (translation here), Lena Kampf, Jacob Appelbaum and John Goetz reveal how the NSA’s “deep packet inspection” rules, which it uses to determine who to target for deep surveillance, include looking for web users who search for articles about Tor and Tails, an anonymous browser and a privacy-friendly operating system.

Those whose Internet traffic patterns suggest merely an interest in Tor or Tails are immediately put on a list of “extremists,” as is anyone who actually uses the Tor network.

“Tor and Tails have been part of the mainstream discussion of online security, surveillance and privacy for years. It’s nothing short of bizarre to place people under suspicion for searching for these terms,” writes Boing Boing’s Cory Doctorow, adding that the NSA’s goal is, “to split the entire population of the Internet into “people who have the technical know-how to be private” and “people who don’t” and then capture all the communications from the first group.”

The revelation once again highlights the fact that the NSA’s data dragnet has little to do with catching terrorists and everything to do with targeting anyone who values their right to privacy. The mass collection of such information only serves to make it easier for actual bad guys to evade detection since the federal agency is building such vast and unwieldy databases.

Earlier this week, journalist Glenn Greenwald announced that he was set to release new information based on leaked documents obtained by whistleblower Edward Snowden which would reveal which individuals and institutions were the targets of NSA spying.

However, at the last minute Greenwald said the story would be postponed as a result of the U.S. government, “suddenly began making new last-minute claims which we intend to investigate before publishing.”