NSA mass spying undermines journalists and attorneys’ ability to work

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 11.47.30 AM

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.”


Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 7.37.30 PM

NSA surveillance controversy centered on U.S. fear that Europe’s economic powerhouse will dump the dollar


Financial analyst Jim Willie sensationally claims that Germany is preparing to ditch the unipolar system backed by NATO and the U.S. in favor of joining the BRICS nations, and that this is why the NSA was caught spying on Angela Merkel and other German leaders.

In an interview with USA Watchdog’s Greg Hunter, Willie, a statistical analyst who holds a PhD in statistics, asserted that the real reason behind the recent NSA surveillance scandal targeting Germany was centered around the United States’ fear that Europe’s financial powerhouse is looking to escape from an inevitable dollar collapse.

“I think they are looking for details on assisting Russia on dumping the dollar. I think they are looking for details for a secret movement for Germany to get away from the dollar and join the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.) This is exactly what I think they are going to do,” said Willie.

Earlier this month, the BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), announced the creation of a new $100 billion dollar anti-dollar alternative IMF bank to be based in Shanghai and chaired by Moscow.

Putin launched the new system by saying it was designed to, “help prevent the harassment of countries that do not agree with some foreign policy decisions made by the United States and their allies,” a clear signal that Russia and other BRICS countries are moving to create a new economic system which is adversarial to the IMF and the World Bank.

Offering an insight into the attitude of the western elite towards Russia, comments made by the likes of former US ambassador to Iraq Christopher R. Hill suggest that Moscow is increasingly being viewed as a rogue state. Back in April, Hill said that Russia’s response to the Ukraine crisis meant that Moscow had betrayed the “new world order” it has been a part of for the last 25 years.

In another sign that BRICS nations are moving to create an entirely new multi-polar model adversarial to the west, the five countries are also constructing an alternative Internet backbone which will circumvent the United States in order to avoid NSA spying.

Willie also ties the Germany’s move into last week’s shoot down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which has been exploited by the U.S. and Britain to push for more stringent sanctions on Russia despite the fact that they have had little effect so far and only appear to be harming the trade interests of countries in mainland Europe.

“Here’s the big, big consequence. The U.S. is basically telling Europe you have two choices here. Join us with the war against Russia. Join us with the sanctions against Russia. Join us in constant war and conflicts, isolation and destruction to your economy and denial of your energy supply and removal of contracts. Join us with this war and sanctions because we’d really like you to keep the dollar regime going. They are going to say were tired of the dollar. . . . We are pushing Germany. Don’t worry about France, don’t worry about England, worry about Germany. Germany has 3,000 companies doing active business right now. They are not going to join the sanctions—period.”


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.


Screen Shot 2014-07-21 at 6.25.16 PM

Wireless company in middle of NSA scandal offers gift cards for your web surfing and location history


Verizon Wireless is launching a rewards program this week for subscribers who consent to having their everyday movements tracked.

The program, called Smart Rewards, offers gift cards and travel deals to subscribers who surrender their web surfing, app usage and location data in exchange for targeted advertisements based on that personal information through the Verizon Selects tracking program.

“To make marketing messages more relevant, Verizon will analyze the information described above to identify you as part of a group of people a marketer is trying to reach,” the terms and conditions for Verizon Selects state.

The wireless company introduced Verizon Selects back in 2012 but has now created the Smart Rewards program to encourage more subscribers to enroll.

Jeffrey Nelson, Verizon’s vice president of wireless marketing, told the AP that the company expects Smart Rewards to help with “customer retention,” which is an odd statement considering that Verizon lost customers last year after The Guardian revealed that the company gave the National Security Agency unfettered access to its subscribers’ phone records, including the time and duration of phone calls.

“In other words, if you are a Verizon customer, your detailed phone records secretly have been handed over – and will continue to be handed over – to NSA agents,” reported Joe Wolverton, II of The New American.

But instead of backing away from data collection, Verizon is now publicly announcing that it intends to do more, and although Google also uses personal data for targeted advertisements, Verizon is likely the first to publicly use location data from cell phone towers to send local ads to users based on their vicinity.

And the wireless company also followed Google’s lead when it filed a patent for a TV box back in 2012 that can detect ambient noise in people’s homes, such as talking, exercising, fighting and cleaning, which are then used to display targeted advertisements.

So, for example, if Verizon’s TV box senses a vacuum cleaner running in the background, it may display ads for carpet freshener or vacuum bags.

“The patent also notes that users will have the ability to connect smart phones and tablets to the box, increasing the range and sensitivity of the monitoring device,” reported Steve Watson. “Americans buying the product would not only be literally inviting Big Brother to come into their homes, but asking him to walk about inside it with them.”

And with the latest Smart Rewards program, it doesn’t appear that Verizon will step away from Big Brother anytime soon.

The Airlift of Illegals: Importing Poverty Into the U.S.



July 20, 2014 by Pat Henry

The crisis on the border has stretched on for weeks now and shows no sign of stopping. Our representatives intend to use this issue as a political football in the upcoming elections and as usual, in their strategy of posturing and deflecting blame which only seems to be focused on protecting their power, it is the American people who will suffer the consequences of their inaction. On the left side we see welcome arms from politicians posturing on the border with, lollipops and clean underwear for the thousands of illegal immigrants with free travel further into the US and calls of racism toward anyone who complains of this flood of children, gang members and single mothers daily into our country. The right side talks of sending troops to the border, impeachment hearings, lawsuits and committees that never do anything. As far as the American people are concerned, both sides in this political theater we call government are proving once again, that it isn’t you who they are concerned about, it is only themselves. While we watch from the sidelines as our country is heading even faster down a dangerous path hell-bent on its own destruction.

The Airlift of Evil

The American government, like most other governments to be sure, has a sordid past. On both political sides individuals and whole administrations have taken steps that reduce our freedoms. They have implemented policies that have weakened our country and caused the death and suffering of untold numbers across the world as well as right here at home. Somewhere along the way as a nation we lost our morality and the people that value life the least have been steering the ships of our institutions of learning, politics and courts. Our principles became something to be quickly forgotten if the right political need arose. Shady dealings under the guise of idealism on one side or another, and vague threats to national security have always prompted illegal actions by men who had to ‘make the tough decisions’. There are millions of excuses for why actions are taken which on their face are clearly wrong, even counter-intuitive to reason, yet they are explained away as necessary and we keep shuffling on, heads down and compliant. Almost any reality TV show is more important.

Just one single example of actions taken in secret, which would be counter to everything we were told by the powers that be, was the airlift of evil. You may remember this from the war in Afghanistan. Here we were fighting the Taliban who were and still are supposed to be the masterminds of all the evil in the world. The same group who was responsible for the crew who flew planes into the towers and caused the death of thousands on 9/11 in an event that shocked the world. These were the ultimate bad guys and their eradication was supposed to be our number one goal. To destroy the Taliban so they could never hurt Americans again was the primary reason we sent troops to Afghanistan in the first place, correct? If the Taliban had to be destroyed, why did the American government allow thousands of their top commanders to be flown out of the area we were getting ready to attack just days later?

Maybe they had a good reason you say? Maybe there were deals we don’t know about and there was a strategy that played out behind the scenes that we aren’t enlightened enough to know about. There are incredibly smart people in charge in our government so why are you questioning what they did?

Importing Poverty

You have no doubt also heard people say in our cultural insanity that is political correctness, that these people coming into our country shouldn’t be called illegal. Without getting into the absurdity of this too much, I’ll simply copy what is written down as the definition:



Forbidden by law or statute.
Contrary to or forbidden by official rules, regulations, etc.
It is forbidden by our laws (at least right now it is) to enter our country without proper documentation so anyone who is here that isn’t a citizen or someone with a proper visa is here illegally. I am just going to call it like I see it. There are those who say, how does this hurt our country? We are the richest country in the world so we should allow people to come here. Even others say there shouldn’t be any borders anywhere. Who are you to tell me where I can walk on this earth?

US Debt
US Debt

I will tell you how this hurts our country and it is primarily in two ways. First of all, these people are coming into our country with no money, no jobs and no place to go. We as the incredibly nice country we are will happily sign them up for welfare and free healthcare even though they won’t be paying into either of these systems. They will undoubtedly be given a place to stay, a stipend to live on and free education. These things all cost money and contrary to the people who think we are the richest nation in the world, we don’t have any money. In fact, we are in so much debt, we will never get out of debt. Our country’s economy is a ticking time bomb that is just waiting for the right event to go off.

We hear talk all the time of needing illegals to come in to do ‘the jobs that Americans won’t do’ or that we ‘don’t have enough skilled workers’ to do these jobs. That to me sounds completely out of phase with reality because of our incredibly high unemployment rates right now. If over 9 million people are out of work, how can there be jobs American’s don’t want to do? Perhaps if the NSA wasn’t employing so many people for the careers of spying on everyone we would have more smart people to do the high-tech jobs. At any rate, with the number of companies laying off people, I am sure we should have more than enough smart people here to do the work very soon. Certainly, not many of these people riding trains through Mexico are going to get those high-tech jobs are they?

What about borders? Shouldn’t we all as citizens of this earth be able to walk anywhere we want to? I don’t think we should allow that either. What if I wanted to walk into your home and demand you give me a place to sleep and food. What would you say to that? You’d probably call the cops wouldn’t you? It’s not really much different with a country’s borders.

By allowing a flood of people who are coming into our country without a job, who need basic assistance to live and paying for them to get to big cities all over America, we have begun a policy of importing poverty. Is that what we really need to be doing? Maybe if we had so much money, people were lighting it on fire to warm themselves I could see something like this, but as it stands right now to me this seems like national suicide. Why would our government allow something like this to happen, heck even promote it, unless this was another example of the behind the scenes shady dealings like the airlift of evil. Perhaps our government is again allowing something to happen for another reason?

REX 84 and the anticipated collapse of America

We have talked about a collapse of our government and FEMA camps alongside with our governments increasing actions to militarize law enforcement, curtail civil liberties and plan for mass civil unrest. Our government thought about a scenario just like this not too long ago.

REX 84, short for Readiness Exercise 1984 was set up by our government to handle exactly this same scenario as we are seeing unfold on the border now.

The Rex 84 Program was originally established on the reasoning that if a “mass exodus” of illegal aliens crossed the Mexican/US border, they would be quickly rounded up and detained in detention centers by FEMA.

Existence of the Rex 84 plan was first revealed during the Iran-Contra Hearings in 1987, and subsequently reported by the Miami Herald on July 5, 1987

” These camps are to be operated by FEMA should martial law need to be implemented in the United States and all it would take is a presidential signature on a proclamation and the attorney general’s signature on a warrant to which a list of names is attached.”

What does this have to do with prepping?

Good question? What does any of this have to do with Prepping? You say, I don’t care what happens at the border, or I don’t believe our government ever does anything wrong. What you are talking about is all conspiracy theory and there are no covert plans to put citizens in FEMA camps. How can I say that there are plans by anyone in government that are anything other than rosy and perfect for the American people?

If that is what you think, I would ask you to dig further. There is a wealth of information out there that isn’t fed to you via the normal channels. There are events that aren’t covered on the history channel and you won’t read about them in People magazine. These events that are happening now are not accidental and they aren’t without potential risks to our nation and eventually you and your family.

Preppers should be highly aware of the risks they face not just from natural disasters, but man-made disasters because they can both kill you. Just because this disaster isn’t called a cute name and comes with high winds, it can still cause massive destruction. If you are serious about being prepared, make sure you pay attention to the events on the border and the larger actions of a government who has done strange things in the past. What is going on now is surely strange and the eerie correlation to secretive plans that involve martial law shouldn’t be lightly ignored.

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


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



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.

A New Scandal? White House Defies Congressional Subpoena, Keeps Top Obama Aide from Testifying


July 16, 2014 By Greg Campbell

As the Obama administration remains mired in countless scandals of varying severities, one would presume they would try to fly below the radar of the American people who have grown alarmed at the increasingly unilateral direction presidency is taken in recent years.

While President Obama operates outside the lawn repeatedly, apparently, the law holds no relevance for his subordinates either as the White House has refused to produce a top Obama aide who has been subpoenaed by the House Oversight Committee.

The White House argues that David Simas, a top political director for President Obama, is immune from being forced to testify before the House Oversight Committee even though the committee is currently investigating the House Office of Political Strategy and Outreach, an office which Simas directs.

The committee is investigating the possibility of taxpayer money being used by the office to support Democrat candidates during elections, including this year’s midterm elections. Democrats have kept with their go-to reaction by claiming that Republicans are making much ado about nothing.

However, this reaction becomes less and less meaningful as time goes on as Democrats have continually maintained that there were no scandals to be found in Benghazi, NSA, AP, Fast and Furious, IRS and a litany of other outrages perpetrated by this administration.

White House counsel Neil Eggleston said in a letter to Chairman Issa that the subpoena for Simas,

“threatens longstanding interests of the executive branch in preserving the president’s independence and autonomy, as well as his ability to obtain candid advice and counsel to aid him in the discharge of his duties.”

Issa was not swayed and informed Eggleston, “Mr. Simas is still under subpoena and is expected to appear at tomorrow’s hearing.”

Earlier this week, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest boldly doubled-down and claimed on CNN that this administration is “the most transparent administration in history,” an oft-repeated campaign promise that has left many Obama supporters feeling cheated as this administration has operated with a level of secrecy that has been unprecedented in American history while maintaining a fiercely hostile relationship with the free press and any outlets that challenge the official Obama Administration narratives.

This latest dust-up has the early signs of a scandal as Obama has been criticized for his continued willingness to simply disregard laws he does not favor and create and implement laws that he does. Many have taken to label this presidency as the “imperial presidency” for the monarchial fashion in which this regime rules.

This latest refusal to produce a public official to a Congressional committee is likely to only strengthen Obama critics’ arguments.

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


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.