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There are a lot of news items the past few days pertaining to the Snowden Leaks, privacy, journalism and other subjects that should be of interest to the DKOS community so Ive compiled them below.

First, on Feb. 1 L.A. Times had a piece by Ken Dilanian attempting to discredit Snowden as doing harm to future security programs.  One of the programs was an effort by NSA Director Alexander for the NSA to legally scan all internet traffic under the guise of 'protecting systems from Virus's, cyber attacks, etc.'

Alexander wanted to use the NSA's powerful tools to scan Internet traffic for malicious software code. He said the NSA could kill the viruses and other digital threats without reading consumers' private emails, texts and Web searches.

The NSA normally protects military and other national security computer networks. Alexander also wanted authority to prevent hackers from penetrating U.S. banks, defense industries, telecommunications systems and other institutions to crash their networks or to steal intellectual property worth billions of dollars.

If one considers the fact that the NSA are now known to do all of the things that Alexander wants to protect against, and the past history of NSA abuse in the name of security plus that deep packet inspection by other nations has often been used to crack down on free speech and political dissent... obviously this may not be the greatest idea ever and giving it some review may be considered a good thing. Dilanian however seems to tow the status-quo line that this is bad.
But after Snowden, a contractor, began leaking NSA systems for spying in cyberspace that went public in June, Alexander's proposal was a political nonstarter, felled by distrust of his agency's fearsome surveillance powers in the seesawing national debate over privacy and national security.

It was one of several Obama administration initiatives, in Congress and in diplomacy, that experts say have been stopped cold or set back by the Snowden affair. As a result, U.S. officials have struggled to respond to the daily onslaught of attacks from Russia, China and elsewhere, a vulnerability that U.S. intelligence agencies now rank as a greater threat to national security than terrorism.

The LA Times allowed this smear to go through, despite the fact that the 'Obama Administration initiative' was actually never going to go through, as the White House threatened to veto the bill in April. Alexanders crazy ideas were even too much for the Administration that has often been more on the side of the NSA in this debate than not. The LA Times later issued a correction, though the correction has never made it to the many other news agencies that also carried the story.

Later in the same article is this little nugget:

The official U.S. position — that governments hacking governments for military and other official secrets is permissible
This is a very interesting position that Marcy Wheeler points out...could be used by any country.

Next in my roundup involves more scary views held by the often loony-Republican House Intel Chairman Rep Mark Rogers. Rogers who has long insisted (despite evidence to the contrary) that Snowden is an evil Russian spy, now goes even further trying to get the Department of Justice to labeling journalists who write about the Snowden leaks as accomplices 'fencing stolen goods'. Regardless of your views on Snowden, this should concern all who are interested in a free press. More concerning yet, there seems to be some agreement from the DOJ:

Rogers, citing discussions about selling access to that material to newspapers and other media outlets, asked FBI Director James Comey whether, like fencing stolen goods, "selling the access of classified material that is stolen from the Unites States government" would be a crime.

Comey said it would be, though added that it was an issue that "can be complicated if it involves a newsgathering or news promulgation function."

Rogers then asked whether if he were a reporter and sold stolen material, would it be legal because he was a reporter.

"If you are a newspaper reporter and you are hocking stolen jewelry, it's still a crime," said Comey. "And if I am hocking stolen classified material that I am not legally in the possession of for personal gain and profit, is that not a crime?"

Comey said that was a harder question given the First Amendment implications.

"So, entering into a commercial enterprise to sell stolen material is acceptable to a legitimate news organization."

Comey said it was not something he was prepared to talk about in the abstract--Rogers did not point any fingers. But Comey agreed it was food for thought.

NBC News should especially be worried about such a line of questioning, in light of their article published today based entirely off of the Snowden documents detailing the British NSA equivalent GCHQ using DDOS attacks and other nefarious attacks against Anonymous members and their supporters.
A secret British spy unit created to mount cyber attacks on Britain’s enemies has waged war on the hacktivists of Anonymous and LulzSec, according to documents taken from the National Security Agency by Edward Snowden and obtained by NBC News.

The blunt instrument the spy unit used to target hackers, however, also interrupted the web communications of political dissidents who did not engage in any illegal hacking. It may also have shut down websites with no connection to Anonymous.

Among the methods listed in the document were jamming phones, computers and email accounts and masquerading as an enemy in a "false flag" operation.
The article goes on to detail how Anonymous members were subject to malware, DDOS attacks and covert infiltration. Many of the things some Anonymous were later charged with felonies for. It is a perfect example of the mission creep of counter-terrorism tools being used for regular criminals and to shut down a political movement.
JTRIG, boasted of using the DDOS attack – which it dubbed Rolling Thunder -- and other techniques to scare away 80 percent of the users of Anonymous internet chat rooms.
Only a small fraction of Anonymous supporters committed crimes, yet anyone associated with them was swept into the attacks, effectively disrupting organization and communication.
“Targeting Anonymous and hacktivists amounts to targeting citizens for expressing their political beliefs,” said Gabriella Coleman, an anthropology professor at McGill University and author of an upcoming book about Anonymous. “Some have rallied around the name to engage in digital civil disobedience, but nothing remotely resembling terrorism. The majority of those embrace the idea primarily for ordinary political expression.” Coleman estimated that the number of “Anons” engaged in illegal activity was in the dozens, out of a community of thousands.
Defintely an article worth checking out. If One member of Five-Eyes is doing it, one can most likely rest assured that all are.

Finally one last article which really pisses me off. It really pisses me off because 1) I have to quote Darrell Issa positively, and 2)Democrats are putting me in the position of agreeing with Darrell Issa. Seriously, wtf Democrats.

US official won't say whether Obama phone data is collected

Deputy Attorney General James Cole, testifying before the House Judiciary Committee, hesitated when asked whether the controversial NSA program that gathers the numbers, call times and lengths of virtually every US phone call extended to communications by members of Congress and executive branch officials.

Congressman Darrell Issa, a House Republican known for his staunch criticism of the Obama White House, asked specifically whether the program was scooping up information from "202-225-and four digits" -- the phone exchange for House of Representatives offices.

"Without going specifically, probably we do, congressman," Cole said.

The exchange continued:
Issa then asked whether the president's phone calls were targeted by the program.

"I believe every phone number that is with the providers that get those orders comes in under the scope of that order," Cole said, without clarifying whether the president's phones fall within such an order.

Cole agreed to get back to Issa with clarification, to which Issa responded: "Especially if he (Obama) calls Chancellor Merkel."

Originally posted to LieparDestin on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 02:38 PM PST.

Also republished by Anonymous Dkos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (25+ / 0-)

    "These are established professionals that have a liberal bent, but ultimately most of them if pushed will choose professional preservation over cause, such is the mentality of most business professionals" -BoA/HBGary/CoC

    by LieparDestin on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 02:38:48 PM PST

  •  Um, guys.... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    markthshark, LieparDestin, koNko
    As a result, U.S. officials have struggled to respond to the daily onslaught of attacks from Russia, China and elsewhere, a vulnerability that U.S. intelligence agencies now rank as a greater threat to national security than terrorism.
    You could certainly 'deep packet scan' all traffic going to and from official government computers without doing any privacy damage to the rest of us.

    Hell, you could even do it for private sites that sign up for a 'deep packet scan' list, as long as they post something publicly to tell their users that such scanning is going on on the front page of such sites.

    Yeah, those sites might lose traffic, but at least everything would be above board.

    The rest of us could choose to 'take our chances' with private, non-governmental malware and virus scanners and firewalls.

    •  Because (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Johnny Q, markthshark, DeadHead, stevemb

      ALL internet traffic going through the hands of the same agency that feels the need to harvest your sexuality leaky Angry Bird apps... is a great idea.

      "These are established professionals that have a liberal bent, but ultimately most of them if pushed will choose professional preservation over cause, such is the mentality of most business professionals" -BoA/HBGary/CoC

      by LieparDestin on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 03:06:57 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  the US Govt could maintain a firewall (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dr Erich Bloodaxe RN, koNko, stevemb

      the "Firewall of the Govt",

      big, robust, smart, strong, and protect traffic and scan
      what's going into Civilian agencies  and the
      DoD can maintain their own firewalls,  but,

      aside from a Commerce Dept "Internet Storm Center"
      the private sector should be left to figure it out.

    •  My response to that (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lisa Lockwood

      Is when you grab a fire hose and stick it in your mouth, don't complain about how much water comes out or how rusty the pipes are.

      This is a particularly hilarious complaint in light of the fact the NSA Tailored Ops has hacked into and (according to their own claims) taken control of at least hundreds of servers in Russia and China with the focus on government, military and university assets, all the while spreading unsubstantiated FUD about (mainly) Chinese companies.

      So the reasonable question might be how much of the virus traffic from Russia and China was engineered by the NSA and distributed using their bots?

      Clearly NSA has leading edge hacking abilities, but hey, the're American, right. So what the heck is wrong with the rest of the world?

      No one is coming to save us, the future is in our hands.

      by koNko on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 11:04:12 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  When Democrats... (9+ / 0-)

    find themselves in agreement with otherwise despised Republicans, Democrats, collectively, are at risk of losing the issue.

    Yet the common response to this kind of "bipartisan" agreement is that because Republicans are wrong on everything else, agreeing with them on this issue is nothing short of heretical.

    This provides a convenient distraction that allows hyper-partisan Democrats to rubber-stamp the same types of activities they likely vociferously protested when Bush was president, and would almost certainly be speaking-out against if we had a Republican in the White House, now.

    Somebody has to do something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us. ~ Garcia

    by DeadHead on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 03:14:15 PM PST

  •  The "official secrets" reference is so broad... (4+ / 0-)

    you could drive a Mack Truck through it sideways.

    The official U.S. position — that governments hacking governments for military and other official secrets is permissible

    'Cuz freedom can't protect itself ~~ EFF ~ EPIC ~ ACLU

    by markthshark on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 03:16:16 PM PST

    •  It would seem to imply (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DeadHead, quill, koNko, stevemb

      that if Snowden WAS a Russian plant, everything he did was ok.

      "These are established professionals that have a liberal bent, but ultimately most of them if pushed will choose professional preservation over cause, such is the mentality of most business professionals" -BoA/HBGary/CoC

      by LieparDestin on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 03:20:43 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Well they do take that position (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Bottom line, NSA is a spy organization and it's very existence is predicted on the idea that states have the right to spy on each other in violation of each other's laws and that all is fair if you can get away with it.

      So the next argument that follows is we (country x) need to have the most badass spys because we're the good guys and the others are the bad guys.

      Spy vs Spy.

      "Official Secrets" are just a symptom.

      And what it all accomplishes, I regret to inform you, is also an official secret.

      NSA + $9 billion or so
      Food Stamps - $8 billion

      Sorry, you folks need to kick in another billion, we need to be fiscally responsible here.

      No one is coming to save us, the future is in our hands.

      by koNko on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 11:13:39 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  There's not much word of it in the US, but it's (6+ / 0-)

    interesting to watch what's happening on the other end of this policy.

    The official U.S. position — that governments hacking governments for military and other official secrets is permissible.
    I've been following the EU reaction as it conducted a thorough law enforcement investigation, issued its findings, and recommendations in the form of a draft resolution which is on a timetable for adoption by the whole of the European Parliament.

    As the outlines of what has happened and what needs to happen start to sink in, there's an expectation for the mass surveillance activities to cease. There's an expectation that the US will pass legislation to curtail NSA practices and it's very clear that this isn't happening. The President is due in Brussels on March 26 for a summit and there won't be much of a welcome if data collection and storage still continues.

    Americans can choose to remain inert if they like or they can accept the tenuous claims of legality and oversight while they carelessly discard their civil liberties. It's a different situation in the EU because the transfer of data between countries is regulated by a framework of cooperative agreement and treaties.

    The US and EU agreed to work together for counter terrorism and other law enforcement as well as judicial matters within the EU standard for privacy. The same applies to commercial business which must adhere to a set of privacy policy standards. Companies like Google, Facebook, Yahoo, and others, didn't adhere to the agreements they made. Neither did the US. Collecting data and metadata on 509 million citizens who aren't under any suspicion isn't consistent with "the official US position."

    It's hard to believe there will be a reality check up ahead but things are headed in that direction.

    There is no existence without doubt.

    by Mark Lippman on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 03:40:54 PM PST

    •  Actually, the WaPo has an article up on blowback (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mark Lippman

      Opinion piece suitable for mass-consumption.

      WaPo - Ignatius: A Jammed Superhighway

      In fact, almost since the beginning this has been a very hot topic within the IT community for obvious reasons and estimates of the cost are escalating. If you are interested in some links to stories, let me know and I can post some, got to run now.

      No one is coming to save us, the future is in our hands.

      by koNko on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 12:25:29 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  David Ignatius Takes Hackery To A Whole New Level (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mark Lippman, koNko
        Privacy advocates would argue that any dangers ahead are the fault of the pervasive surveillance systems of the National Security Agency, rather than Snowden's revelation of them. I'll leave that chicken-and-egg puzzle for historians.
        Maybe the same historians will finally tell us whether present-day Congressional gridlock is the fault of obstructionist Republicans or the fault of Democrats who attack obstructionism.

        On the Internet, nobody knows if you're a dog... but everybody knows if you're a jackass.

        by stevemb on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 08:49:40 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The blockquote is an example of the (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          equivocating that the American press uses as a cover for the rightwing.

          In this case, it's an obvious false note.  Few people in Europe would blame Snowden if relations with the US suffer.  No matter how ugly the truth is, it's better to know it than to be deceived by a trusted ally.

          Lies and deception aren't sustainable. The truth was coming out by itself for 2 years in Europe. Snowden just brought it into sharper focus for them.

          There is no existence without doubt.

          by Mark Lippman on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 09:31:08 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Certianly yes. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Lisa Lockwood

          In fact, I thought to post a diary deconstructing it editorial, which basically recycles talking points of corporations with something to lose in the present situation, right down to the arguments.

          But, then, I'm on holiday and thought "Fuck it, I'm playing with my kid not worrying about David Ignatius".

          However, it does show that the concerns about what the rest of the world think is, officially, an approved topic of discussion.

          If you are interested in where he got some of this, you can go here and here and here and here. Well, maybe his intern did.

          In fact, some of the fundamental raised are important issues, but the framing is based on preservation of the status quo of American domination of the internet, which is waining for several reasons, not the least of which is the subject at hand.

          No one is coming to save us, the future is in our hands.

          by koNko on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 11:35:27 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Thank you. The linked piece is a fairly accurate (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        representation of what's developing in the EU. One thing was omitted. There would be no consequences for the US and US companies if the mass surveillance is stopped.

        There is no existence without doubt.

        by Mark Lippman on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 09:04:22 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Actually, I do not totally agree (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Mark Lippman

          First, while I think the WaPo piece covers the general issues, it understates the problems and frames them according to the beltway/corporate status quo, i.e., to preserve US domination of the internet.

          In my reply to stevemb above, I did link to documents I mentioned before and that I suppose is the source of some talking points in Ignatius' piece. May be worth reading because (a) some of these issues are key, even if framed from the perspective of incumbents protecting their vested interests, (b) they do a much better job stating the case than Ignatius' watered-down prose for public consumption.

          Second, I do not really agree with your last statement that the problem would go away if the mass surveillance stopped. I work in the IT sector (hardware development) for a Japanese company outside the US and I have to tell you the private discussions recounted to me by some marketing staff are brutal, and the numbers from IBM and Cisco do not lie, they are getting clobbered in China and very worried about the EU, because, frankly, this is an opportunity for their competitors and it will be taken.

          Furthermore, other factors such as Web 3.0 driving localization of web content and commerce, and the commoditization of cloud servers is already eroding business for systems vendors (notice IBM finally bit the bullet and dumped the X86 biz?), and you have the perfect storm for the American IT industry.

          And I have to add, it has put a damper on the entire industry, but disproportionally on US companies.

          So I think the question is, will the internet survive without the US in the dominant role?  Will it get better (long term)? Here is one very interesting take that makes some arguments I tend to agree with.

          Obama did not go far enough to restore confidence, but then, that was not to be expected (IMHO); now it is up to Congress to act, and I have to believe the lobbying pressure from the IT sector is getting pretty heavy.

          So I would modify your last statement; eliminating mass surveillance would staunch the bleeding.

          Honestly, I am not optimistic about the near term and think 2014 will be a wash for the industry globally. Hope to see something better emerge down the road, the world keeps turning, but road is not clear at this point.

          For God/whomever's sake, Mr Obama, throw Clapper under the bus already, the guy is a walking disaster area. Total liability.

          No one is coming to save us, the future is in our hands.

          by koNko on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 12:03:47 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Rogers is the latests to push the "Thief' meme (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Which got official endorsement last week with Clapper's "accomplices" statement.

    And although he did not mention Snowden by name in the hearing, when talking to the press later he was less inhibited by decorum. As Josh Gerstein of Politico reports:

    A top lawmaker argued Tuesday that journalist Glenn Greenwald is illegally selling stolen material by asking news organizations to pay for access to U.S. intelligence secrets taken from the National Security Agency.

    “For personal gain, he’s now selling his access to information, that’s how they’re terming it…. A thief selling stolen material is a thief,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) told journalists after a hearing where the leaks set in motion by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. were a major topic of discussion.

    Rogers said the information about the documents being for sale by Greenwald came from “other nations’ press services.”

    Gerstein also quotes the testimony Wheeler commented on, which was widely quoted and debated in the tech press.

    Of course, this is a Red Herring being used to divert attention and will go nowhere, but for the record Greenwald responded, Tweeting:

    "The main value in bandying about theories of prosecuting journalists is the hope that it will bolster the climate of fear for journalism"
    Politico also noted another reveling exchange along these lines:
    When Rogers asked if that probe encompassed the possibility that “accomplices” of Snowden were brokering stolen information, Comey replied: “We are looking at the totality of circumstances around the stolen information.”

    Greenwald, an American journalist and lawyer working until recently for Britain’s Guardian newspaper, firmly denied selling any of Snowden’s documents. In an interview with POLITICO, the writer said he has helped prepare stories based on the documents in various news outlets under typical freelance contracts.

    “I’m never selling documents,” Greenwald said, adding that he makes the freelance arrangements so that prosecutors can’t accuse him of being a source rather than a reporter. “What they’re trying to do is to remove it from the realm of journalism, so that they can then criminalize it,” he said.

    I guess Clapper and Rogers haven't had enough disclosures yet, LOL.

    Break out the popcorn.

    No one is coming to save us, the future is in our hands.

    by koNko on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 11:45:23 PM PST

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