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Spyware embedded by U.S. in foreign networks, security firm says – Houston Chronicle February 17, 2015

Posted by sandyclaus in NSA, Security, Security State, US Military.
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Spyware embedded by U.S. in foreign networks, security firm says – Houston Chronicle.

What ISIS Really Wants – The Atlantic February 17, 2015

Posted by sandyclaus in Atheism, Internet Freedom, Politics, Security, Security State.
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What ISIS Really Wants

The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy—and for how to stop it.

via What ISIS Really Wants – The Atlantic.

NSA To Sanders: We Can’t Tell You If We’re Spying On You In Order To Protect You January 15, 2014

Posted by sandyclaus in NSA, Security, Security State.
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The National Security Agency on Friday told Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) that it cannot reveal whether the agency has been targeting members of Congress in its metadata collection because doing so would violate privacy provisions accorded to civilians in the program, the Huffington Post reported Tuesday.

\”Among those protections is the condition that NSA can query the metadata only based on phone numbers reasonably suspected to be associated with specific foreign terrorist groups,\” NSA chief Keith Alexander wrote in a letter to Sanders.

via NSA To Sanders: We Can’t Tell You If We’re Spying On You In Order To Protect You.

Former FISA chief judge Bates slams key proposed NSA reforms as unnecessary, counterproductive – 1/14/2014 4:09:17 PM | Newser January 15, 2014

Posted by sandyclaus in NSA, Security, Security State.
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Speaking for the entire U.S. judiciary, U.S. District Judge John D. Bates sent a letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee saying that appointing an independent advocate to the secret surveillance court is unnecessary and possibly counterproductive, and he slammed other key reforms as adding too heavy a caseload to the secret courts work. In current FISC hearings, judges only hear from the government seeking a spy warrant.

via Former FISA chief judge Bates slams key proposed NSA reforms as unnecessary, counterproductive – 1/14/2014 4:09:17 PM | Newser.

Reclaiming the Radical Imagination: Challenging Casino Capitalism’s Punishing Factories January 13, 2014

Posted by sandyclaus in Occupy, Politics, Security, Security State, Shadow Economy.
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Chris Hedges is right when he argues that \”any state that has the capacity to monitor all its citizenry, any state that has the ability to snuff out factual public debate through [the] control of information, any state that has the tools to instantly shut down all dissent is totalitarian.\” [7]  While Hedges is aware that this disciplinary culture of fear and repression is rooted in a political economy that treats people as objects and makes the accumulation of capital the subjects of history, he underestimates one important element of the new authoritarianism produced by casino capitalism. That is, what is novel about existing registers of discipline and control is that they operate in a new historical conjuncture in which the relationship among political power, cultural institutions and everyday life has become more powerful and intense in the ability to undermine the radical imagination and the power and capacities of individuals to resist repression and make the crucial decisions necessary to take control over the forces that shape their lives.

via Reclaiming the Radical Imagination: Challenging Casino Capitalism’s Punishing Factories.

Ten Myths About the NSA, Debunked | The Nation January 13, 2014

Posted by sandyclaus in NSA, Security, Security State.
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The debate Edward Snowden envisioned when he revealed the extent of National Security Agency NSA spying on Americans has taken a bad turn. Instead of a careful examination of what the NSA does, the legality of its actions, what risks it takes for what gains, and how effective the agency has been in its stated mission of protecting Americans, we increasingly have government officials or retired versions of the same demanding—quite literally—Snowden’s head and engaging in the usual fear-mongering over 9/11. They have been aided by a chorus of pundits, columnists, and present as well as former officials offering bumper-sticker slogans like \”If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear,\” all the while claiming our freedom is in direct conflict with our security.It’s time to face these arguments directly. So here are ten myths about NSA surveillance that need debunking. Lets sort them out.

via Ten Myths About the NSA, Debunked | The Nation.

Why Are US Special Operations Forces Deployed in Over 100 Countries? | The Nation January 9, 2014

Posted by sandyclaus in Security, US Military.
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The Rise of the Military’s Secret Military

Born of a failed 1980 raid to rescue American hostages in Iran (in which eight US service members died), US Special Operations Command was established in 1987. Made up of units from all the service branches, SOCOM is tasked with carrying out Washington’s most specialized and secret missions, including assassinations, counterterrorist raids, special reconnaissance, unconventional warfare, psychological operations, foreign troop training and weapons of mass destruction counter-proliferation operations.

In the post-9/11 era, the command has grown steadily. With about 33,000 personnel in 2001, it is reportedly on track to reach 72,000 in 2014. (About half this number are called, in the jargon of the trade, “badged operators”—SEALs, Rangers, Special Operations Aviators, Green Berets—while the rest are support personnel.) Funding for the command also jumped exponentially as SOCOM’s baseline budget tripled from $2.3 billion to $6.9 billion between 2001 and 2013. If you add in supplemental funding, it has actually more than quadrupled to $10.4 billion.

Not surprisingly, personnel deployments abroad skyrocketed from 4,900 “man-years”—as the command puts it—in 2001 to 11,500 in 2013. About 11,000 special operators are now working abroad at any one time and on any given day they are in seventy to eighty countries, though The New York Times reported that, according to statistics provided to them by SOCOM, during one week in March 2013 that number reached ninety-two.

via Why Are US Special Operations Forces Deployed in Over 100 Countries? | The Nation.

What Glenn Greenwald Got Wrong | Popular Science January 9, 2014

Posted by sandyclaus in NSA, Security, Technology Reporting.
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The New York Times, in their own investigation, found that this locked box concept is probably what\’s going on here. The government uses FISA, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (the statute that specifies how and in what manner the government can obtain data), to demand information, and instead of the companies handing it over in individual chunks, the government requested these locked boxes so the handoff of information could be efficient and secure. It\’s sort of the internet-age equivalent of a source meeting a handler on back-to-back park benches and exchanging manila file folders while never looking at each other. These requests, by the way, are legally binding and also come with a gag order preventing the companies from discussing them.

Fogel, and many other tech types I\’ve talked to, are outraged about the media handling of this story. In their mind, the media is bungling all of the intricate technical aspects of the story due to a lack of expertise in the field. And that\’s a fair point! Journalists, even tech journalists, are trained to report and write stories, not to have the same command of tech that an IT person has.

Fogel is being kind of ridiculous by calling Greenwald\’s discussion of \”direct access\” an \”epic botch,\” though. I do think Greenwald misinterpreted the use of the word \”servers\” and in turn may have misunderstood how this program actually works–not a small thing, and in a case as sensitive as PRISM, we need to make sure we have as many of the facts as possible. (I don\’t blame Greenwald for this, by the way; this was a brand-new story and nobody quite knew the scope or effect of it, and he did a hell of a job exposing the surface of the program.)

via What Glenn Greenwald Got Wrong | Popular Science.

Officials Say U.S. May Never Know Extent of Snowden’s Leaks – NYTimes.com January 9, 2014

Posted by sandyclaus in NSA, Politics, Security.
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In recent days, a senior N.S.A. official has told reporters that he believed Mr. Snowden still had access to documents not yet disclosed. The official, Rick Ledgett, who is heading the security agency’s task force examining Mr. Snowden’s leak, said he would consider recommending amnesty for Mr. Snowden in exchange for those documents.

“So, my personal view is, yes, it’s worth having a conversation about,” Mr. Ledgett told CBS News. “I would need assurances that the remainder of the data could be secured, and my bar for those assurances would be very high. It would be more than just an assertion on his part.”

Mr. Snowden is living and working in Russia under a one-year asylum. The Russian government has refused to extradite Mr. Snowden, who was indicted by the Justice Department in June on charges of espionage and stealing government property, to the United States.

Mr. Snowden has said he would return to the United States if he was offered amnesty, but it is unclear whether Mr. Obama — who would most likely have to make such a decision — would make such an offer, given the damage the administration has claimed Mr. Snowden’s leaks have done to national security.

Because the N.S.A. is still uncertain about exactly what Mr. Snowden took, government officials sometimes first learn about specific documents from reporters preparing their articles for publication — leaving the State Department with little time to notify foreign leaders about coming disclosures.

via Officials Say U.S. May Never Know Extent of Snowden’s Leaks – NYTimes.com.

Ex-official: FBI can secretly activate an individual’s webcam without indicator light – MacDailyNews – Welcome Home January 9, 2014

Posted by sandyclaus in Computer Security, FBI, NSA, Security, Security State.
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“The FBI has been able to covertly activate a computer’s camera — without triggering the light that lets users know it is recording — for several years, and has used that technique mainly in terrorism cases or the most serious criminal investigations, said Marcus Thomas, former assistant director of the FBI’s Operational Technology Division in Quantico, now on the advisory board of Subsentio, a firm that helps telecommunications carriers comply with federal wiretap statutes,” Timberg and Nakashima report. “The ability to remotely activate video feeds was among the issues cited in a case in Houston, where federal magistrate Judge Stephen W. Smith rejected a search warrant request from the FBI in April. In that case, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, Smith ruled that the use of such technology in a bank fraud case was ‘extremely intrusive’ and ran the risk of accidentally capturing information of people not under suspicion of any crime.

via Ex-official: FBI can secretly activate an individual’s webcam without indicator light – MacDailyNews – Welcome Home.