NSA Uses Trick to Spy On Americans

The government is spying on most Americans through our computers, phones, cars, buses, streetlights, at airports and on the street, via mobile scanners and drones, through our credit cards and smart meters, televisions, dolls, and in many other ways.

Yesterday, ZDNet reported that the NSA uses a trick to get around the few flimsy American laws on spying … they shuttle internet traffic overseas so they can pretend they’re monitoring foreign communications:

A new analysis of documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden details a highly classified technique that allows the National Security Agency to “deliberately divert” US internet traffic, normally safeguarded by constitutional protections, overseas in order to conduct unrestrained data collection on Americans.

According to the new analysis, the NSA has clandestine means of “diverting portions of the river of internet traffic that travels on global communications cables,” which allows it to bypass protections put into place by Congress to prevent domestic surveillance on Americans.

***

One leaked top secret document from 2007 details a technique that allows the intelligence agency to exploit the global flow of internet data by tricking internet traffic into traveling through a set and specific route, such as undersea fiber cables that the agency actively monitors.


Leaked NSA document from 2007. (Image: source document)

⇒ Keep Reading

1 Comment

U.S. Participating In Torture Again … Because We Didn’t Learn Any Lessons from Iraq

We’ve pointed out for years that failing to prosecute torturers would ensure that the U.S. tortures again in the future.

Unfortunately, no one was prosecuted (except the guy who blew the whistle on torture; and the Department of Justice refused to even read the Senate’s report on torture), so now we’re involved in torture again. The Associated Press reports:

Hundreds of men swept up in the hunt for al-Qaida militants have disappeared into a secret network of prisons in southern Yemen where abuse is routine and torture extreme — including the “grill,” in which the victim is tied to a spit like a roast and spun in a circle of fire, an Associated Press investigation has found.

***

Several U.S. defense officials, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the topic, told AP that American forces do participate in interrogations of detainees at locations in Yemen, provide questions for others to ask, and receive transcripts of interrogations from Emirati allies. They said U.S. senior military leaders were aware of allegations of torture at the prisons in Yemen ….

None of the dozens of people interviewed by AP contended that American interrogators were involved in the actual abuses. Nevertheless, obtaining intelligence that may have been extracted by torture inflicted by another party would violate the International Convention Against Torture and could qualify as war crimes, said Ryan Goodman, a law professor at New York University who served as special counsel to the Defense Department until last year.
⇒ Keep Reading

1 Comment

Russia Hacking Allegations Driven By a Serial Liar

Today’s lengthy Washington Post’s story makes it clear that former CIA boss John Brennan is largely responsible for driving the claim that Russia hacked the election.

But Brennan is a proven, documented liar.  He was busted for lying to Congress and the American public by claiming  that the CIA wasn’t spying on the Congressional investigation into torture … when it was.

Indeed, the Washington Post called on Brennan to be fired for lying.

And Brennan lied when – as Obama’s counter-terrorism advisor – he said that in the past year there had not been a single collateral death from drone strikes. (He later changed that that slightly to say there was no “credible evidence” of such deaths.)   But there was abundant and credible evidence of collateral deaths from drone strikes.  As just one example among many, a March 2011 CIA drone attack in Pakistan killed some 50 people, including tribal elders who were gathered for a tribal conclave.)

Trevor Timm pointed out at the Guardian:

Internal intelligence documents leaked to McClatchy later confirmed Brennan to have lied at the time ….

When Brennan was approved by the Senate, many of his friends told the media he wanted to get the CIA out of the drone business and hand operations over to the Pentagon, but of course once he assumed his office, he seems to have reversed course and kept the drone program under CIA control.
⇒ Keep Reading

4 Comments

How America Armed Terrorists in Syria

By Gareth Porter,  an investigative historian and journalist specializing in U.S. national security policy, who received the UK-based Gellhorn Prize for journalism for 2011 for articles on the U.S. war in Afghanistan. His latest book is Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare (Just World Books, 2014). Originally published by The American Conservative. Republished with permission of author.

Free Syrian Army fighters in Saqba, a suburb of Damascus (Photo: Freedom House / CC-BY-2.0)

Three-term Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, a member of both the Armed Services and Foreign Affairs committees, has proposed legislation that would prohibit any U.S. assistance to terrorist organizations in Syria as well as to any organization working directly with them. Equally important, it would prohibit U.S. military sales and other forms of military cooperation with other countries that provide arms or financing to those terrorists and their collaborators.

Gabbard’s “Stop Arming Terrorists Act” challenges for the first time in Congress a U.S. policy toward the conflict in the Syrian civil war that should have set off alarm bells long ago: in 2012-13 the Obama administration helped its Sunni allies Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar provide arms to Syrian and non-Syrian armed groups to force President Bashar al-Assad out of power. And in 2013 the administration began to provide arms to what the CIA judged to be “relatively moderate” anti-Assad groups—meaning they incorporated various degrees of Islamic extremism.
⇒ Keep Reading

Leave a comment

You’ll Never Guess What Losing Democrats All Have in Common

It was curious to observe how much of Jeremy Corbyn’s successful campaign to rebuild the Labour Party was about foreign policy. Wars, he said, make us less safe, not more. Agreeing with him were: the obvious facts of the matter, voters in opinion polls, and apparently voters in their votes.

Also largely agreeing, dragged along by Corbyn’s leadership, was the Labour Party, whose new platform — despite many serious flaws — says:

“We will put conflict resolution and human rights at the heart of foreign policy, commit to working through the UN, end support for unilateral aggressive wars of intervention and back effective action to alleviate the refugee crisis. Unlike the Conservatives, Labour believes Britain’s foreign policy should be guided by the values of peace, universal rights and international law. . . . The lessons of the past, including those from the Chilcot Inquiry, show why our response to these challenges must be different. . . . From the Middle East to Africa, in recent years millions of people have been killed, injured or displaced through wars, terrorism and military intervention. . . . We will review all training and equipment contracts with repressive regimes, to ensure that Britain never colludes in the mistreatment of civilians. . . . supporting the right of the Chagos islanders to return to their homelands.”
⇒ Keep Reading

2 Comments

Smoking Gun Proof that Russia Hacked the Entire World

As shown below, the allegations that Russia has been hacking the entire world have been thoroughly vetted and verified.

Germany

Germany’s intelligence agency accused Russia of deploying cyberattacks to destabilize the government!

(But German intelligence agencies later found no evidence of Russian interference.)

And last December, German security officials said that Russia hacked secret German communications and provided them to Wikileaks (English translation).

(But German officials later concluded that the communications were likely leaked from an insider within the German parliament, the Bundestag (English translation)).

France

The Washington Post, New York Times (and here), Reuters, Politico, Register and many other mainstream publications  claimed that the Russians hacked the French election, just like they hacked the U.S. election.

The head of the NSA claimed that the NSA watched the Russians hack the French elections:

(But the French government later said there was no trace of Russian hacking.)

Qatar

CNN reported that U.S. officials suspected that Russia had hacked Qatar’s state news agency, causing a rift with Saudi Arabia.

(But the Qatari government later said it wasn’t Russia.)

America

The Washington Post published a story claiming that Russian hackers penetrated the US power grid through a utility in Vermont.

(The Post subsequently admitted that – according to officials close to the investigation – “the incident is not linked to any Russian government effort to target or hack the utility”, that the incident only involved a laptop not connected to the electrical grid, and there may not even have been malware at all on this laptop.)
⇒ Keep Reading

6 Comments

Automation’s Destruction of Jobs: You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet

Automation–networked robotics, software and processes–has already had a major impact on jobs. As this chart from my colleague Gordon T. Long illustrates, the rise of Internet technologies is reflected in the steady, long-term decline of the labor force participation rate– the percentage of the populace that is actively in the labor market.

The oft-repeated fantasy is that every new wave of technological innovation creates more jobs than it destroys. Not this time: the total number of full-time jobs has stagnated for years, and most of the new jobs that have been created are in low-wage, moderate-skill positions that cannot move the productivity needle much: jobs such as those in the retail and restaurant sectors.

Real wealth isn’t created by printing currency or jacking up stock valuations–it’s created by increasing productivity. As this chart reveals, productivity has stagnated for years. This is a complex dynamic, but we can surmise that the low-hanging fruit of automation has already been harvested, and the addition of jobs that are inherently limited in the productivity gains that can be achieved are core components in stagnating/declining productivity.

I have often discussed productivity and economist Michael Spence’s framework of tradable and non-tradable labor. You want a beer-bottling machine? That’s a tradable good; it can be manufactured anywhere in the world. You want a beer at the local tavern? That is non-tradable–it is a service that can only be provided locally.
⇒ Keep Reading

7 Comments
Navigation