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James Risen and Laura Poitras collaboration in the NYT.  A long article, three pages.  It's based on a five-page "SIGINT Strategy" document from 2012.  NYT notes that the document is from before the Snowden leaks and shows what they were planning before the leaks became part of the calculus.  

It's pretty clear that the fact that people's communications, personal data and the devices they use are within reach has made the NSA believe that they should have the authority to reach in and get it whenever they want.  The article talks about a program called "Treasure Map" where they can track the location of 30-50 million targets.

The obsession with "cybersecurity" as an excuse to get even more is apparent.  And we know that Keith Alexander still believes, despite everything that happens, that Congress should give them more authority for the huge new cybersecurity business.  He has said so in recent speeches. There is a whole defense and intelligence industry salivating at the money to be made for decades in "cybersecurity" with big current defense contractor companies ramping up to pass themselves off as cybersecurity experts and new companies in Silicon Valley forming to get on that gravy train too.  

"Cyberterrorism" is the new ticket to paradise and the new way to fearmonger. Not that cybersecurity is not an issue, it is, just as terrorism is a legitimate threat. But we know from other documents leaked by Snowden that the current efforts by the Cyber Command are offensive, not defensive.  And the NSA and all the intelligence community has done a pretty pitiful job demonstrating how they have thwarted attacks with the billions upon billions upon billions that this country has poured into their industry. Even with all of their current powers and dragnets and analysis tools, they didn't prevent the Boston marathon bombing nor the mass shootings on military bases.  But they did achieve huge increases in their budgets and a massive increase in the number of private contractors.  They believe this is a golden age for the intelligence industry.  Meanwhile, 80% of Americans are at or on the verge of poverty.  

What is also clear from this strategy document is that the NSA is absolutely obsessed with the internet, a network that was never meant to be their battlefield, nor was it meant to be some failsafe, critical network for big business, for the government or for anyone else. It was meant to be the digital commons, a place to share information and communicate with each other. For the people. But it's clear that the internet has been usurped by the powers that be and they now consider it to be their keyboard commando domain.  They would claim that the "bad guys" ruined the internet.  I think that's questionable.  For example, there was a time when some hackers reported security holes to the companies who own the software. Now the US government is the biggest buyer of information about security holes and has fueled a huge black market for it.  Then they use those exploits to plant malware on computers so they can tap into them.  How long before they want to have their malware on every computer, just in case?  The people who run this agency have shown themselves to be obsessive.  Personally, what I found most striking about this document is the huge gap between their expectations and mine.  I think they are far too intrusive. They obviously think they're not intrusive enough.

One of their top priorities is to defeat all encryption.  There seems to be absolutely no awareness that private individuals and institutions have a right to communicate without someone else eavesdropping whether it be for personal or business reasons.  We know that NSA shares out the data it collects with other US agencies and agencies in partner countries.  We are supposed to place our absolute trust in the unknown numbers of people who have access to that data, and we are expected to have absolute faith in the NSA and all the other agencies' ability to keep that information safe, to protect itself from any infiltrator, insider or outsider.  The level of "trust us" is now on steroids.  And don't forget, NSA wants the legal authority to cooperate even more with private companies now too, in two-way sharing agreements.  Private information of individuals, banking information, IDs and passwords, and everything they collect -- we're supposed to trust them not to abuse it and not to expose it to "bad guys" or people who would exploit it. And all of this after one of their own contractors just removed tens of thousands of top secret documents from their system.  But they expect us to trust them and to trust the countless numbers of other military, federal employees and contractors who have access to all or part of the trove of data they are collecting.  They've been lying to the people and the Congress, blatantly, but we're supposed to just trust them.  History has shown that greed and power are irresistible and without exception corrupt but we're supposed to just trust that massive surveillance and power over everyone else whose privacy they violate and whose proprietary data they steal, won't corrupt them.

What is perhaps most alarming is the plan to collaborate even more with private industry in collecting and sharing private information, defeating encryption, etc.  Who gets to decide which companies are on the inside of this data sharing deal? It's hard not to consider FDR's definition of fascism when reading all of this.

N.S.A. Report Outlined Goals for More Power

Written as an agency mission statement with broad goals, the five-page document said that existing American laws were not adequate to meet the needs of the N.S.A. to conduct broad surveillance in what it cited as “the golden age of Sigint,” or signals intelligence. “The interpretation and guidelines for applying our authorities, and in some cases the authorities themselves, have not kept pace with the complexity of the technology and target environments, or the operational expectations levied on N.S.A.’s mission,” the document concluded.

Using sweeping language, the paper also outlined some of the agency’s other ambitions. They included defeating the cybersecurity practices of adversaries in order to acquire the data the agency needs from “anyone, anytime, anywhere.” The agency also said it would try to decrypt or bypass codes that keep communications secret by influencing “the global commercial encryption market through commercial relationships,” human spies and intelligence partners in other countries. It also talked of the need to “revolutionize” analysis of its vast collections of data to “radically increase operational impact.”
[...]
The agency also intends to improve its access to encrypted communications used by individuals, businesses and foreign governments, the strategy document said. The N.S.A. has already had some success in defeating encryption, The New York Times has reported, but the document makes it clear that countering “ubiquitous, strong, commercial network encryption” is a top priority. The agency plans to fight back against the rise of encryption through relationships with companies that develop encryption tools and through espionage operations. In other countries, the document said, the N.S.A. must also “counter indigenous cryptographic programs by targeting their industrial bases with all available Sigint and Humint” — human intelligence, meaning spies.

[...]

One of the agency’s other four-year goals was to “share bulk data” more broadly to allow for better analysis. While the paper does not explain in detail how widely it would disseminate bulk data within the intelligence community, the proposal raises questions about what safeguards the N.S.A. plans to place on its domestic phone and email data collection programs to protect Americans’ privacy.
[...]
Relying on Internet routing data, commercial and Sigint information, Treasure Map is a sophisticated tool, one that the PowerPoint presentation describes as a “massive Internet mapping, analysis and exploration engine.” It collects Wi-Fi network and geolocation data, and between 30 million and 50 million unique Internet provider addresses — code that can reveal the location and owner of a computer, mobile device or router — are represented each day on Treasure Map, according to the document. It boasts that the program can map “any device, anywhere, all the time.”
[...]
“To sustain current mission relevance,” the document said, Signals Intelligence Directorate, the N.S.A.’s signals intelligence arm, “must undertake a profound and revolutionary shift from the mission approach which has served us so well in the decades preceding the onset of the information age.”

[Emphasis added]

NSA deputy director skeptical on sharing data with FBI and others
John Inglis appears at University of Pennsylvania to argue legality of bulk surveillance and indicates stance on Feinstein bill

The deputy director of the National Security Agency on Friday sounded skeptical about permitting the FBI, DEA or other law enforcement agencies to directly search through the NSA's vast data troves, as a new bill would appear to permit.

A bill recently approved by the Senate intelligence committee on a 13-4 vote blesses the ability of law enforcement agencies to directly conduct "queries of data" from NSA databases of foreign-derived communications content "for law enforcement purposes".
[...]
"The FBI is a customer of mine," Inglis said in response to a question from the Guardian. "But I don't provide domestic intelligence for the FBI, I essentially provide foreign intelligence inside, something that might cross the seam, and give them a tip as to how to spend their precious domestic resources to prosecute terrorism, counterintelligence, things of that sort.

Former IAEA Inspector: Iran's Nuclear Program Now Consistent with Peaceful Purposes

Felix Salmon. There are charts worth looking at in this post.
The government-dominated bond market

JP Morgan’s Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou put a fascinating report out last week, looking at supply and demand in the global bond market in 2014. And although I consider myself something of a bond nerd, I was genuinely astonished by some of the charts he put together [...]

This chart alone suffices to explain why the markets care so much about the taper: central-bank buying accounts for $1.6 trillion — more than half — of the total demand for bonds in 2013. Meanwhile, private banks are taking the opposite side of the trade: while they were huge buyers of bonds in 2007 and 2008, they’re net sellers in 2013 and 2014, more or less completely negating the buying pressure from pension funds, insurance companies, bond funds, and retail investors. In 2014, it seems, substantially all the net demand for bonds is going to come from the official sector. So it matters a great deal when that demand is diminished.
[...]
The good news is that this large transfer of money from the official sector’s left hand to its right hand is slowing down, but that’s going to take a while. In any case, there doesn’t seem to be any conceivable way that the private sector could possibly be able to fund the still-substantial government deficits which have been bequeathed to us by the financial crisis. As a result, I suspect that QE is likely going to be around for a while, just as a matter of mathematical necessity. The world’s national deficits can’t get funded any other way.

Jeremy Scahill: the man exposing the US Dirty War

Is it possible to have a life beyond the war zone? "You can," he says, "but it takes special kind of person to agree to be in a relationship with a war reporter. The battlefields of the global wars are filled with broken marriages. I remember during the really intense period of the Iraq war in 2004-5, the circle of journalists that I was around were all just broken, shattered people enduring the hell of that war. A lot of people were drinking themselves into oblivion. Journalists have post-traumatic stress disorder just like soldiers do. Some try to deny they have it and believe they can float from assignment to assignment, but it always catches up with you."

There are also the conflict junkies who need the drug of the battlefield. "I'm not that kind of person," says Scahill. "I value human life and don't get pleasure from being around men with guns or hearing things explode. I'm motivated more by wanting to tell the stories of people who are on the other side of the missiles." Having finished Dirty Wars, he has no desire to rush back to the battlefield. "I don't want to do this again any time soon. I feel gutted as a person. I've been living all these stories and talking about them every day for the past four years. I've internalised a lot of it, and it consumes my thoughts. I can't ever imagine I'll be anything other than a journalist, but it definitely took a toll on me. I don't know what I'm going to do next journalistically, but I do know that I need to regain my footing in the world."• Dirty Wars is released in the UK on 29 November

The big news today is that the talks with Iran have been going on for months.
Secret talks helped forge Iran nuclear deal
Meetings that ran parallel to official negotiations help achieve most significant Washington-Tehran agreement since 1979

A historic agreement on Iran's nuclear programme was made possible by months of unprecedented secret meetings between US and Iranian officials, in further signs of the accelerating detente between two of the world's most adversarial powers, it emerged on Sunday.

The meetings ran parallel to official negotiations involving five other world powers, and helped pave the way for the interim deal signed in Geneva in the early hours of Sunday morning, in which Iran accepted strict constraints on its nuclear programme for the first time in a decade in exchange for partial relief from sanctions.

The Obama administration asked journalists not to publish details they had uncovered of the secret diplomacy until the Geneva talks were over for fear of derailing them. The Associated Press and a Washington-based news website, Al-Monitor, finally did so on Sunday.



Action



Stop Watching Us.

The revelations about the National Security Agency's surveillance apparatus, if true, represent a stunning abuse of our basic rights. We demand the U.S. Congress reveal the full extent of the NSA's spying programs.



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