Monday, October 14, 2013

If you Do Not Believe In A Right Of Privacy; Just Shut Up And Let Your Every Move And Every Key Stroke Be Examined By America’s Spies! (HOWEVER)

If you Do Not Believe In A Right Of Privacy; Just Shut Up And Let Your Every Move And Every Key Stroke Be Examined By America’s Spies!

The Committee to Protect Journalists has released its first-ever special report on freedom of the press in the United States.

For many years, CPJ has documented attacks on journalists in many countries around the world. The report focused on how policies and practices of the Obama administration disrupt relationships between journalists and government sources, allow officials to circumvent scrutiny by the press, and create a chilling environment for whistleblowers who might otherwise serve as journalistic sources. The report also discusses the ramifications of NSA surveillance, which leaves journalists and their sources reluctant to communicate electronically.

The report paints a picture of increasing press restrictions beginning just after 9/11 and culminating with the current administration, which is described as uniquely resistant to accountability to the press. Written by former executive editor of the Washington Post Leonard Downie Jr and CPJ’s Sara Rafsky, the report relied on information gathered through extensive interviews with dozens of members of the press. Individual journalists are cited throughout to provide candid insights into the daily experiences of journalists in the United States today.

In total, the report and the concomitant recommendations show that Obama Administration policies around classification, whistle-blower prosecution, and surveillance are threatening investigative journalism. 

Among several issues the report surfaced, the authors heavily criticized Obama’s record on classification. They called on Obama to do more to correct the problems of overclassification, citing concerns raised by Senator Ron Wyden and transparency advocate Steven Aftergood.  The report discussed how, despite Obama’s promises of embracing transparency when he first took office, Freedom of Information Act requests frequently were left unanswered, delayed, or denied.
The report also highlighted the bureaucratic bloat that stemmed from gross overclassification, noting:
By 2011, more than 4 million Americans had security clearances for access to classified information of one kind or another, according to a U. S. Intelligence Community report to Congress required by the 2010 Intelligence Authorization Act, and more and more information was being classified as secret. In that year alone, government employees made 92 million decisions to classify information—one measure of what [Harvard Law School professor Jack] Goldsmith called "massive, massive over-classification."
In addition, the report detailed the aggressive overprosecution of whistle-blowers under the Obama administration. The report noted that Obama’s administration had charged six government employees and two contractors—including Edward Snowden— with felony criminal prosecutions under the 1917 Espionage Act for leaking information to the press. This is more than all of such prosecutions in all previous U.S.
administrations.  The report discussed at length individual prosecutions as well the fact that government officials were fearful and reluctant to speak with the media. 
There were also numerous examples of the government getting subpoenas to learn more about journalists communicating with sources.
CPJ also noted that extensive surveillance by the NSA, which has recently been confirmed and detailed by the Edward Snowden leaks, have "added to the fearful atmosphere surrounding contacts between American journalists and government sources." The NSA’s dragnet data collection programs left many journalists with doubts about their ability to protect their sources or conduct investigations. Washington Post national security reporter Dana Priest noted that, "People think they’re looking at reporters’ records. I’m writing fewer things in e-mail. I’m even afraid to tell officials what I want to talk about because it’s all going into one giant computer."

CPJ also released a series of recommendations to the Obama Administration, including a call to end the practice of bringing espionage charges against people who leak classified information to journalists and more transparency around the scope and nature of the National Security Agency and other surveillance activities as they are being applied to domestic and international journalists.

Overall, CPJ’s report describes a government actively avoiding accountability and transparency while enacting policies that undermine an independent media. The real victim of such policies is the general public, which relies on an informed media to hold government officials to account. We echo CPJ’s concerns and urge the administration to act swiftly to address the serious issues of press freedom that were outlined in the report.

The National Security Agency is harvesting hundreds of millions of contact lists from personal e-mail and instant messaging accounts around the world, many of them belonging to Americans, according to senior intelligence officials and top secret documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
The collection program, which has not been disclosed before, intercepts e-mail address books and “buddy lists” from instant messaging services as they move across global data links. Online services often transmit those contacts when a user logs on, composes a message, or synchronizes a computer or mobile device with information stored on remote servers.
Rather than targeting individual users, the NSA is gathering contact lists in large numbers that amount to a sizable fraction of the world’s e-mail and instant messaging accounts. Analysis of that data enables the agency to search for hidden connections and map relationships within a much smaller universe of foreign intelligence targets.
During a single day last year, the NSA’s Special Source Operations branch collected 444,743 e-mail address books from Yahoo, 105,068 from Hotmail, 82,857 from Facebook, 33,697 from Gmail and 22,881 from unspecified other providers, according to an internal NSA PowerPoint presentation. Those figures, described as a typical daily intake in the document, correspond to a rate of more than 250million per year.
Each day, the presentation said, the NSA collects contacts from an estimated 500,000 buddy lists on live-chat services as well as from the “in-box” displays of Web-based e-mail accounts.
The collection depends on secret arrangements with foreign telecommunications companies or allied intelligence services in control of facilities that direct traffic along the Internet’s main data routes.
Although the collection takes place overseas, two senior U.S. intelligence officials acknowledged that it sweeps in the contacts of many Americans. They declined to offer an estimate but did not dispute that the number is likely to be in the millions or tens of millions.
A spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the NSA, said the agency “is focused on discovering and developing intelligence about valid foreign intelligence targets like terrorists, human traffickers and drug smugglers. We are not interested in personal information about ordinary Americans.”
The spokesman, Shawn Turner, added that rules approved by the attorney general require the NSA to “minimize the acquisition, use, and dissemination” of information that identifies a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
The NSA’s collection of nearly all U.S. call records, under a separate program, has generated significant controversy since it was revealed in June. The NSA’s director, Gen. Keith B. Alexander, has defended “bulk” collection as an essential counterterrorism and foreign intelligence tool, saying “you need the haystack to find the needle.”
Contact lists stored online provide the NSA with far richer sources of data than call records alone. Address books commonly include not only names and e-mail addresses but also telephone numbers, street addresses, and business and family information. In-box listings of e-mail accounts stored in the “cloud” sometimes contain content such as the first few lines of a message.
Metadata provides a record of almost anything a user does online, from browsing history – such as map searches and websites visited – to account details, email activity, and even some account passwords. This can be used to build a detailed picture of an individual's life.
The leaders who run the internet’s technical global infrastructure say the time has come to end U.S. dominance over it.
In response to leaks by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, Fadi Chehadé, who heads the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, and others have called for “an environment, in which all stakeholders, including all governments, participate on equal footing.”
Among other things, they were concerned “over the undermining of the trust and confidence of internet users globally due to recent revelations of pervasive monitoring and surveillance.”
ICANN, a nonprofit established by the U.S., has never awarded a contract to manage the .com, .net, .cc, .tv and .name space to a company outside the United States — in fact, VeriSign of Virginia has always held the immensely economically valuable .com handle. The Public Interest Registry, also based in Virginia, manages the .org domain.
All of which means that both registries are under the auspices of the U.S. government, its courts — including the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court — and the home turf of the NSA’s snooping efforts.
ICANN was established in 1998 by the Clinton administration, and has been under global attack to internationalize the control of the Domain Name System ever since. A United Nations working group in 2005 concluded that “no single government should have a pre-eminent role in relation to international internet governance.”
Even before the Snowden leaks — which disclosed vast court-approved NSA spying powers anddecryption efforts — governments like China, India and Russia have distrusted ICANN. They have demanded control of the net’s naming system to be turned over to an organization such as the International Telecommunications Union, an affiliate of the United Nations — a proposition scoffed at by the United States.
What’s more, who controls the internet’s infrastructure became an issue last year after the United States began seizing hundreds of domains across the globe for allegedly breaching federal copyright and trademark laws.
VeriSign said it was just complying with “lawful orders” from the U.S. courts by redirecting the DNS (Domain Name System) of a domain to a U.S. government IP address that informs online visitors that the site has been seized.
The Internet Governance Project, a global alliance of academics specializing on internet governance, said the statement by Chehadé and the others “was one of the most significant manifestations of the fallout from the Snowden revelations about NSA spying on the global internet.”
Still, no concrete proposals from the major internet organizations were produced at last week’s meeting in Uruguay.
“…They were thinking of new forms of multistakeholder oversight as a substitute for U.S. oversight, although no detailed blueprint exists,” the Internet Governance Project said.
ICAAN is developing a five-year strategic plan and is taking public comment through January.

FORT MEADE, Md. — The director of the National Security Agency, General Keith B. Alexander, said in an interview that to prevent terrorist attacks he saw no effective alternative to the NSA’s bulk collection of telephone and other electronic metadata from Americans.
But he acknowledged that his agency now faces an entirely new reality, and the possibility of congressional restrictions, after revelations about its operations at home and abroad.
While offering a detailed defense of his agency’s work, Alexander said the broader lesson of the controversy over disclosures of secret NSA surveillance missions was that he and other top officials have to be more open in explaining the agency’s role, especially as it expands its mission into cyberoffense and cyberdefense.

NSA ignored accusatory report in personnel file

Whether or not whistleblower Edward Snowden's decision to reveal details of theU.S. National Security Agency's (NSA) spying on everyday Americans' digital lives was justifiable, it's undeniable that the leak has been a colossal source of embarassment andcontroversy for the NSA, the U.S. intelligence community, and the U.S. federal government as a whole.  In that regard many at the NSA are asking themselves -- "Could we have done to stop the leak?"

I. Edward Snowden's Troubles With the CIA

Well the answer, according to a new report in The New York Times, is that they apparently could have -- and likely quite easily.

The story began in 2006 when Mr. Snowden -- regarded by coworkers as a brilliant IT mind -- was hired by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).  By 2008, despite having no technical credentials, he had advanced in his new position earning a "top-secret" security clearanceand being stationed at a comfortable U.S. Department of State-affiliated CIA post in Geneva.  But things would soon sour between Mr. Snowden and his government employers

The report alleges that in 2009 documents in Edward Snowden's personnel file reveal that his supervisor began to notice a troubling trend in his behavior.  

The NYT report states:

[I]n 2009, his supervisor wrote a derogatory report in his personnel file, noting a distinct change in the young man’s behavior and work habits...

While it is unclear what exactly the supervisor’s negative report said, it coincides with a period of Mr. Snowden's life in 2009 when he was a prolific online commenter on government and security issues, complained about civil surveillance and, according to a friend, was suffering "a crisis of conscience."

Mr. Snowden has indicated that he began his intelligence career blissfully naive of the scope of which 
the government spies on Americans, regularly violating the law and agencies own official policies.  

II. From "Hope to Nope"  

While he did not officially support the man who would become the 44th President of the United States with his vote, he felt Barack Obama would mark a major policy shift versus President George W. Bush.  In his June 2013 interview with The Guardian -- the British newspaper who Mr. Snowden primarily has leaked to -- explains:

You see things that may be disturbing. When you see everything you realize that some of these things are abusive. The awareness of wrong-doing builds up. There was not one morning when I woke up [and decided this is it]. It was a natural process.

A lot of people in 2008 voted for Obama. I did not vote for him. I voted for a third party. But I believed in Obama's promises. I was going to disclose it [but waited because of his election]. He continued with the policies of his predecessor.

After seeing little shift in spying policy -- including rampant violations of American privacy rights-- in President Obama's first year of office, Mr. Snowden had completed an apparent arc from naivety to optimism to bitter cynical realism.  In a separate interview with The Guardian, he recalls:

Much of what I saw in Geneva really disillusioned me about how my government functions and what its impact is in the world.  I realized that I was part of something that was doing far more harm than good.  [President Obama] advanced the very policies that I thought would be reined in.  I got hardened.

It appears that Mr. Snowden not only was a disgruntled government employee, he decided to take the first step in actions that could make him a whistleblower, or a criminal, according to your perspective….
The NSA is hoarding vast quantities of metadata about millions of internet users, piecing together records of their social networking use, locations, and other personal details, it’s alleged, even if those individuals aren’t in any way suspected of illegal activities. The year-long record of user data is gathered as part of a clandestine program called Marina, The Guardian reports, with leaked documentation about the system indicating that it uses browser tracking and more to build up automatic summaries of “pattern-of-life” activity and movement.
“The Marina metadata application tracks a user’s browser experience, gathers contact information/content and develops summaries of target … This tool offers the ability to export the data in a variety of formats, as well as create various charts to assist in pattern-of-life development” the leaked introductory guide to Marina claims.
“Of the more distinguishing features, Marina has the ability to look back on the last 365 days’ worth of DNI metadata seen by the Sigint collection system, regardless whether or not it was tasked for collection” the document emphasizes.
Details on the tool follow claims over the weekend by The New York Times that the NSA was building complex models on US citizens through a combination of metadata crunching and adding in less-regulated third-party information sourced from private firms. Although programs like PRISM have been known about for some time, thanks to whistleblowing actions by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, Marina’s more blanket approach to data gathering and storage comes as a surprise.
In fact, PRISM is believed to be just one of the sources of metadata which Marina can aggregate. Where PRISM requires internet companies to turn over legally-mandated information about users, Marina can also pull in data from tapped undersea internet cables, not to mention through the NSA’s deals with telecoms firms.
As much of 90-percent of the world’s online communications are said to cross the US and thus be a potential source of data collection.
Marina’s strength for law-enforcement agencies and homeland security is in the breadth of its information. Since data is gathered and stored whether the user was deliberately targeted or incidentally, people who were not considered a potential threat initially but whom later circled into suspects could have previous movements analyzed even before official monitoring takes place.
Officially, the FISA Amendments Act ruling the NSA operates much of its data collection from – and which frees them from seeking individual warrants – requires that at least one party be a non-American and outside of the US during the period that the data is collected. However, while the agency is expected to “minimize” whatever information it collects on US citizens, it can nonetheless keep “inadvertently” gathered US communications if they’re deemed to contain intelligence material, evidence that a crime has taken place, or if they are encrypted.
Exactly how much leeway that gives the NSA to funnel content into Marina is unclear, but the extent of the modeling technology is a factor above what many believed the agency had access to.

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