Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Petraeus: Use Al Qaeda Fighters to Beat ISIS

Members of al Qaeda’s branch in Syria have a surprising advocate in the corridors of American power: retired Army general and former CIA Director David Petraeus.

The former commander of U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan has been quietly urging U.S. officials to consider using so-called moderate members of al Qaeda’s Nusra Front to fight ISIS in Syria, four sources familiar with the conversations, including one person who spoke to Petraeus directly, told The Daily Beast.

The heart of the idea stems from Petraeus’s experience in Iraq in 2007, when as part of a broader strategy to defeat an Islamist insurgency the U.S. persuaded Sunni militias to stop fighting with al Qaeda and to work with the American military.

The tactic worked, at least temporarily. But al Qaeda in Iraq was later reborn as ISIS, and has become the sworn enemy of its parent organization. Now, Petraeus is returning to his old play, advocating a strategy of co-opting rank-and-file members of al Nusra, particularly those who don’t necessarily share all of core al Qaeda’s Islamist philosophy.

However, Petraeus’s play, if executed, could be enormously controversial. The American war on terror began with an al Qaeda attack on 9/11, of course. The idea that the U.S. would, 14 years later, work with elements of al Qaeda’s Syrian branch was an irony too tough to stomach for most U.S. officials interviewed by The Daily Beast. They found Petraeus’s notion politically toxic, near-impossible to execute, and strategically risky.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/08/31/petraeus-use-al-qaeda-fighters-to-beat-isis.html

FBI: Hurricane Katrina Made It Clear We Just Don't Have Enough Stingray Devices

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the federal government stepped up to assure the nation that as horrifically damaging as the storm was, we would all come out of it OK.*

*Offer does not apply to affected residents of New Orleans.

President Bush let us know that FEMA head "Brownie" (born Michael D. Brown) was doing a "heckuva job" botching the government's response. The New Orleans Police Department worked hard to secure critical infrastructure, going so far as to show up in civilian clothes, armed with unapproved weapons. And the FBI, which sent its people to assist in search and rescue operations and to help curtail post-storm looting, made sure an unprecedented tragedy wouldn't go to waste.

MuckRock's Shawn Musgrave points out that, hidden among the 5,000 heavily redacted pages it received in April in "response" to its FBI-Stingray query, the agency's Katrina experience somehow made Stingray acquisition a priority.

https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20150831/07182432119/fbi-hurricane-katrina-made-it-clear-we-just-dont-have-enough-stingray-devices.shtml

FAIRVIEW: Collecting foreign intelligence inside the US

On August 15, The New York Times and Pro Publica published a story in which the big US telecommunications company AT&T was identified as a key partner of the NSA.

Interesting details about this cooperation and the cable tapping were already in the 2008 book The Shadow Factory by James Bamford, but with the new story, also a number of clarifying documents from the Snowden-trove were disclosed.

Among them are some powerpoint presentations that contain the slides which had been shown on Brazilian televion two years ago. They were first discussed on this weblog in January 2014.

Here we will combine these new and old documents to provide a detailed picture of this important collection program, that was previously misunderstood on various occasions.

Context

At NSA, the division Special Source Operations (SSO) is responsible for collecting data from backbone telephone and internet cables. For that, SSO also cooperates with private telecommunication providers under the following four programs, which are collectively referred to as Upstream Collection:
- BLARNEY (collection under FISA authority, since 1978)
- FAIRVIEW (cooperation with AT&T, since 1985)
- STORMBREW (cooperation with Verizon, since 2001)
- OAKSTAR (cooperation with 7 other telecoms, since 2004)*

Before the new revelations, it was often assumed that BLARNEY was the program for NSA's cooperation with AT&T. The Wall Street Journal reported this in August 2013, based upon former officials, saying that BLARNEY was established for capturing foreign communications at or near over a dozen key international fiber-optic cable landing points. This assumption was also followed by Glenn Greenwald in his book No Place to Hide from May 2014.

In a letter to Cryptome, James Atkinson suggests that BLARNEY was the covername for cooperation with AT&T since 1978, and that after the Bell break-up, BLARNEY stayed active for FISA collection, and the new covername FAIRVIEW was created for the "new" AT&T. One new slide however, shows that BLARNEY actually encompasses all (over 30) companies that are cooperating for FISA collection, including of course AT&T and Verizon.


http://electrospaces.blogspot.com/2015/08/fairview-collecting-foreign.html

Monday, August 31, 2015

Microsoft intensifies data collection on Windows 7 and 8 systems

Microsoft has been criticized by privacy advocates in regards to the data hunger of its Windows 10 operating system. The operating system slurps data like there is no tomorrow, especially when systems are set up using the express settings.

Experienced users may disable telemetry and data collection partially during setup, and then some more afterwards using the Registry or Group Policy.

What makes this problematic however is the fact that it is nearly impossible to stop all of the data collecting that is taking place.

While users may disable some, for instance by using privacy tools (of which there are plenty), others cannot be disabled or stopped that easily, for instance because of hardcoded host and IP address information that bypass the Hosts file of the operating system.

http://www.ghacks.net/2015/08/28/microsoft-intensifies-data-collection-on-windows-7-and-8-systems/

Katherine Albrecht: Windows 10 Is Full Blown Electronic Tyranny

Would You Pay Micro-soft to spy on you? Windows 10 is an update that is being used to spy on you through malware. It is placed on your computer through the update and then leaves you helpless against spying through keystrokes, your camera and websites you visit.

Cocaine Production Plummets After DEA Kicked Out of Bolivia

After the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) was kicked out of Bolivia, the country was able to drastically reduce the amount of coca (cocaine) produced within its borders. According to data released by the United Nations, cocaine production in the country declined by 11% in the past year, marking the fourth year in a row of steady decrease.

It was just seven years ago that the DEA left Bolivia — and only three years after that, progress was finally made. The strategy employed by the Bolivian government may be a surprise to many prohibitionists because it did not involve any strong-arm police state tactics. Instead, they worked to find alternative crops for farmers to grow that would actually make them more money.

http://theantimedia.org/cocaine-production-plummets-after-dea-kicked-out-of-bolivia/

Meet Allen Dulles: Fascist Spymaster

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Post Office “Secret Rooms”— What They’re For & Why You Need To Know About Them

Report: FBI Clinton email probe becoming 'extremely serious'

An FBI probe into whether Hillary Clinton mishandled classified information on her private server has been described as "extremely serious" and has required the help of the agency's best investigators.

The investigation, which Clinton has dismissed as a routine "security inquiry," is examining a possible violation of the Espionage Act, according to a report by Fox News.

Investigators are looking to see whether Clinton should have been aware of the sensitive nature of emails circulating on her private network, regardless of whether the emails were marked classified.

Clinton has repeatedly defended her handling of the material by claiming none of the emails were marked classified at the time they were sent.

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/report-fbi-clinton-email-probe-extremely-serious/article/2571040

Clinton secrets hacked by spy in bag

THE MI6 spy found dead in a holdall had illegally hacked into secret data on Bill Clinton, The Sun on Sunday can reveal.

Gareth Williams, 31, dug out the guestlist for an event the former American president was going to as a favour for a pal.

The codebreaker — who had breached his security clearance — handed the list to the friend, who was also to be a guest.

MI6 bosses raged over the data breach amid growing tensions with US security services over Mr Williams’s transatlantic work.

Today, just over five years since his body was found inside a padlocked bag, his death remains one of Britain’s most mysterious unsolved cases.

The Sun on Sunday can reveal that voicemail messages Mr Williams left for family and pals were deleted in the days after his death. And a rival agent may also have broken into the flat to destroy or remove evidence.

The inquest was barred from discussing Mr Williams’s work in public. But sources say he was helping on the joint monitoring network Echelon, which uses sophisticated programs to eavesdrop on terrorists and criminal gangs, particularly those in Russia.

Echelon is used by Britain, the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

A source said: “The Clinton diary hack came at a time when Williams’s work with America was of the most sensitive nature.

“It was a diplomatic nightmare for Sir John Sawers, the new director of MI6 at the time.”

http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/features/6613428/Secrets-of-MI6-spy-found-dead-in-bag-revealed.html

Friday, August 28, 2015

Court: We Can’t Rule on NSA Bulk Data Collection Because We Don’t Know Whose Data Was Collected

On Friday, an appeals court overturned a U.S. District Court decision last May that had declared that the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records was beyond the authorization of the law. The three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit kicked the matter back to the lower court for additional deliberation.

The decision did not declare the NSA’s program, which was revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013, to have been legal or constitutional. Rather, it focused on a technicality: a majority opinion that the plaintiffs in the case could not actually prove that the metadata program swept up their own phone records. Therefore, the plaintiffs, the court declared, did not have standing to sue.

https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/08/28/court-cant-rule-nsa-bulk-collection-dont-know-whose-data-collected/

Why It’s Hard to Sue the NSA: You Have to Prove It Spied on You

HERE’S A BIG problem with secret spying programs in the US: To dismantle them with a lawsuit, someone has to prove that their privacy rights were infringed. And that proof is almost always a secret.

That’s the Catch-22 that an appeals court served up Friday to plaintiffs who for the last two years have been attacking the NSA’s metadata collection program authorized under section 215 of the Patriot Act. The plaintiffs are led by constitutional lawyer and conservative activist Larry Klayman, who had sued the Obama administration for violating his fourth amendment privacy rights. In 2013, a lower court granted his a request for an injunction to stop the NSA’s spying on his data. But the Obama administration appealed that ruling, and an appellate court has now thrown out that injunction based on a familiar and vexing problem for those who sue the government’s secret spying apparatus: The plaintiffs couldn’t sufficiently prove that the NSA secretly spied on them.

“In order to establish his standing to sue, a plaintiff must show he has suffered a ‘concrete and particularized’ injury,” wrote judge Janice Rogers Brown in her opinion. “In other words, plaintiffs here must show their own metadata was collected by the government…the facts marshaled by plaintiffs do not fully establish that their own metadata was ever collected.”

http://www.wired.com/2015/08/hard-sue-nsa-prove-spied/

Study: 15% Of Wireless Users Now Tracked By Stealth Headers, Or 'Zombie Cookies'

Earlier this year AT&T and Verizon were caught modifying wireless user traffic to inject unique identifier headers (UIDH). This allowed the carriers to ignore a user's privacy preferences on the browser level and track all online behavior. In Verizon's case, the practice wasn't discovered for two years after implementation, and the carrier only integrated a working opt out mechanism only after another six months of public criticism. Verizon and AT&T of course denied that these headers could be abused by third parties. Shortly thereafter it was illustrated that it was relatively easy for these headers to be abused by third parties.

While the fracas over these "stealth" or "zombie" cookies has quieted down since, a new study suggests use of such stealth tracking is increasing around the world as carriers push to nab their share of the advertising pie. Consumer advocacy group Access has been running a website called AmiBeingTracked.com, which analyzes user traffic to determine whether or not carriers are fiddling with their packets to track online behavior. According to a new study from the group (pdf) examining around 200,000 such tests, about 15% of site visitors were being tracked by the carriers in this fashion all over the globe:

https://www.techdirt.com/blog/wireless/articles/20150819/08372732005/study-15-wireless-users-now-tracked-stealth-headers-zombie-cookies.shtml

INVESTIGATION The Last Word on Katrina: Treachery at Bush’s FEMA Pays Handsomely - PART 5 of 5

How the Botchees Made Out Like Bandits

http://whowhatwhy.org/2015/08/28/investigation-the-last-word-on-katrina-treachery-at-bushs-fema-pays-handsomely/

Thursday, August 27, 2015

How the Bush Team Crushed Clinton’s FEMA - PART 4 OF 5

The Hidden Shame of Katrina, Part 4 of Series

WHO: Michael Brown, the disgraced head of FEMA during Hurricane Katrina

WHAT: The real story of how and why this hopelessly unqualified individual was placed in this sensitive post

WHY: A web of self-interest, undergirded by a philosophical contempt for government and the governed.

http://whowhatwhy.org/2015/08/27/how-the-bush-team-crushed-clintons-fema/