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.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.
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.
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.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.
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.
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 permissibleThis 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.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.
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.
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.
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.The exchange continued:
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.
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."