Saturday, August 31, 2013
Facebook is considering adding the majority of its over 1 billion members’ profile photos to a massive facial recognition database, according to Reuters.
Though they’ve considered this move in the past, the process was delayed by a significant amount of outcry from European legislators. That hasn’t stopped them from developing the technology, evidenced by their acquisition of Israeli facial recognition company Face.com last year.
Thursday, August 29, 2013
U.S. spy agencies have built an intelligence-gathering colossus since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, but remain unable to provide critical information to the president on a range of national security threats, according to the government’s top secret budget.
The $52.6 billion “black budget” for fiscal 2013, obtained by The Washington Post from former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, maps a bureaucratic and operational landscape that has never been subject to public scrutiny. Although the government has annually released its overall level of intelligence spending since 2007, it has not divulged how it uses those funds or how it performs against the goals set by the president and Congress.
The 178-page budget summary for the National Intelligence Program details the successes, failures and objectives of the 16 spy agencies that make up the U.S. intelligence community, which has 107,035 employees.
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
With little fanfare, the agency best known for airport screenings has vastly expanded its reach to sporting events, music festivals, rodeos, highway weigh stations and train terminals. Not everyone is happy.
T.S.A. and local law enforcement officials say the teams are a critical component of the nation’s counterterrorism efforts, but some members of Congress, auditors at the Department of Homeland Security and civil liberties groups are sounding alarms. The teams are also raising hackles among passengers who call them unnecessary and intrusive.
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Sunday, August 25, 2013
As tensions mount between the United States and other countries over the NSA’s once-secret spying programs, German news magazine Der Spiegel reported earlier today that the NSA has been spying on the goings-on at the United Nations’ New York headquarters for nearly a year.
Der Spiegel cites a multitude of documents that “stemmed” from security-consultant-turned-leaker Edward Snowden which purport (among other things) that the NSA first managed to crack the UN’s video conferencing system during the summer of 2012.
by Julian Assange
August 24th, 2013
It has been revealed today, thanks to Edward Snowden, that Google and other US tech companies received millions of dollars from the NSA for their compliance with the PRISM mass surveillance system.
So just how close is Google to the US securitocracy? Back in 2011 I had a meeting with Eric Schmidt, the then Chairman of Google, who came out to see me with three other people while I was under house arrest. You might suppose that coming to see me was gesture that he and the other big boys at Google were secretly on our side: that they support what we at WikiLeaks are struggling for: justice, government transparency, and privacy for individuals. But that would be a false supposition. Their agenda was much more complex, and as we found out, was inextricable from that of the US State Department. The full transcript of our meeting is available online through the WikiLeaks website.
The city spent about $167,000 per inmate last year and had 12,287 prisoners on an average day, according to the Independent Budget Office’s first-ever study of the Big Apple’s jails.
“The numbers provide a troubling statistical portrait of the more than 12,000 people in our city jails on a typical day last year, coming at a significant fiscal cost to the city and no doubt great social cost to families and communities,” said the IBO’s Doug Turetsky.
Friday, August 23, 2013
The National Security Agency paid millions of dollars to cover the costs of major internet companies involved in the Prism surveillance program after a court ruled that some of the agency's activities were unconstitutional, according to top-secret material passed to the Guardian.
The technology companies, which the NSA says includes Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Facebook, incurred the costs to meet new certification demands in the wake of the ruling from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (Fisa) court.
The October 2011 judgment, which was declassified on Wednesday by the Obama administration, found that the NSA's inability to separate purely domestic communications from foreign traffic violated the fourth amendment.
Thursday, August 22, 2013
U.S. intelligence officials have declassified a secret court opinion that both chastises the National Security Agency for misleading the court and highlights an eavesdropping program in which authorities have direct access to “upstream” internet communications.
The document (.pdf) released today confirms for the first time unofficial leaks and speculation that the federal intelligence community has direct access to telecom companies’ backbones and it scoops up email communications as they go past. Millions are collected each year. WIRED first reported on such an eavesdropping installation in 2007 when a former AT&T technician provided documents outlining eavesdropping technology used by AT&T. Both the government and AT&T have declined to confirm the authenticity of the technician’s documents.
The budget ax has fallen on a CIA office that focused on declassifying historical materials, a move scholars say will mean fewer public disclosures about long-buried intelligence secrets and scandals.
The Historical Collections Division, which has declassified documents on top Soviet spies, a secret CIA airline in the Vietnam War, the Cuban missile crisis and other major operations, has been disbanded. The office that handles Freedom of Information Act requests will take over the work.
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
The federal government is making progress on developing a surveillance system that would pair computers with video cameras to scan crowds and automatically identify people by their faces, according to newly disclosed documents and interviews with researchers working on the project.
The Department of Homeland Security tested a crowd-scanning project called the Biometric Optical Surveillance System — or BOSS — last fall after two years of government-financed development. Although the system is not ready for use, researchers say they are making significant advances. That alarms privacy advocates, who say that now is the time for the government to establish oversight rules and limits on how it will someday be used.
After more than three years already spent in confinement while awaiting trial, former Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison today for what has been described as the largest ever leak of classified government documents.
Barbara Honegger's presentation titled "Behind the Smoke Curtain" in Seattle's Town Hall Theater, January 12, 2013, on what happened and what didn't happen at the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
The times have created this man, this nexus of patriotism and fear. Depending on who you talk to, he is a plague on or a tonic to our discourse, and we should all be horrified or grateful.
Monday, August 19, 2013
The dispute of whether the Central Intelligence Agency must release as many as 52 images of a dead Osama bin Laden is heading to the Supreme Court.
The agency maintains that the pictures are classified, and that releasing them “could trigger violence, attacks, or acts of revenge against the United States.” (.pdf) A lower court and a federal appeals court sided with the President Barack Obama administration.
Sunday, August 18, 2013
Marking the sixtieth anniversary of the overthrow of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq, the National Security Archive is today posting recently declassified CIA documents on the United States' role in the controversial operation. American and British involvement in Mosaddeq's ouster has long been public knowledge, but today's posting includes what is believed to be the CIA's first formal acknowledgement that the agency helped to plan and execute the coup.
Post-9/11 America has witnessed a boom in private firms dedicated to the hyped-up threat of terrorism. The drive to privatize America's national security apparatus accelerated in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks, and it’s gotten to the point where 70 percent of the national intelligence budget is now spent on private contractors, as author Tim Shorrock reported. The private intelligence contractors have profited to the tune of at least $6 billion a year. In 2010, the Washington Post revealed that there are 1,931 private firms across the country dedicated to fighting terrorism.
What it all adds up to is a massive industry profiting off government-induced fear of terrorism, even though Americans are more likely to be killed by a car crash or their own furniture than a terror attack.
Here are five private companies cashing in on keeping you afraid.
Saturday, August 17, 2013
Five decades after President John F. Kennedy was fatally shot and long after official inquiries ended, thousands of pages of investigative documents remain withheld from public view. The contents of these files are partially known — and intriguing — and conspiracy buffs are not the only ones seeking to open them for a closer look.
Some serious researchers believe the off-limits files could shed valuable new light on nagging mysteries of the assassination — including what U.S. intelligence agencies knew about accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald before Nov. 22, 1963.
Thursday, August 15, 2013
The National Security Agency has broken privacy rules or overstepped its legal authority thousands of times each year since Congress granted the agency broad new powers in 2008, according to an internal audit and other top-secret documents.
Most of the infractions involve unauthorized surveillance of Americans or foreign intelligence targets in the United States, both of which are restricted by statute and executive order. They range from significant violations of law to typographical errors that resulted in unintended interception of U.S. e-mails and telephone calls.
The documents, provided earlier this summer to The Washington Post by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, include a level of detail and analysis that is not routinely shared with Congress or the special court that oversees surveillance. In one of the documents, agency personnel are instructed to remove details and substitute more generic language in reports to the Justice Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
US Spy Planes Targeted China to Help India; Used British Crews to "Confuse the Soviets" and Overflew French Nuclear Sites
Groom Lake/Area 51 Finally Declassified
Less Redacted CIA History Released Under FOIA
National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 434
Posted – August 15, 2013
On 21 February 1955, Richard M. Bissell, a senior CIA official, wrote a check on an Agency account for $1.25 million dollars and mailed it to the home of Kelly Johnson, chief engineer at the Lockheed Company's Burbank, California, plant. According to a newly declassified CIA history of the U-2 program obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by National Security Archive senior fellow Jeffrey T. Richelson, the Agency was about to sign a contract with Lockheed for $22.5 million to build 20 U-2 aircraft, but the company needed a cash infusion right away to keep the work going. Through the use of "unvouchered" funds — virtually free from any external oversight or accounting — the CIA could write checks to finance secret programs, such as the U-2. As it turned out, Lockheed produced the 20 aircraft at a total of $18,977,597 (including $1.9 million in profit), or less than $1 million per plane. It was all "under budget," a miracle in today's defense contracting world.
Obama is sidestepping Congress once again. This time, the unconstitutional act is in an effort to raise $6 Billion in new taxes to put WiFi in public schools across America. Rather than waste his time with the Constitution and Congress, Obama is going straight to the FCC to lobby for the new taxes. The new tax will apply to every American who uses a cellphone.
“I can make a firm pledge. Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes.”
-Candidate Barack Obama, 2008
For a guy who really seems to love aiming cameras at civilians, Bloomberg sure isn't much for aiming any at his "personal army." I'm sure it galls him that his NYPD (and that's how he thinks of it -- his) might have to be subjected to extra scrutiny and accountability, like some sort of common police force in Podunksville, USA (read: anywhere other than NYC).
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
In the last week or so it's come out that Rep. Mike Rogers, the head of the House Intelligence Committee has actively blocked requests from members of Congress to review details of the NSA's surveillance program -- showing that the claim that everyone in Congress was informed about these programs isn't just a lie but a duplicitous one. And then it got worse. Rep. Justin Amash pointed out that Rogers' committee actually withheld key information from all incoming Representatives in the class of 2010, who had to vote on the Patriot Act's reauthorization, which renewed the program to collect data on all Americans in bulk.
NSA, DEA, IRS Lie About Fact That Americans Are Routinely Spied On By Our Government: Time For A Special Prosecutor
The Obama Administration repeatedly has assured us that the NSA does not collect the private information of ordinary Americans. Those statements simply are not true.
We now know that the agency regularly intercepts and inspects Americans’ phone calls, emails, and other communications, and it shares this information with other federal agencies that use it to investigate drug trafficking and tax evasion. Worse, DEA and IRS agents are told to lie to judges and defense attorneys about their use of NSA data, and about the very existence of the SOD, and to make up stories about how these investigations started so that no one will know information is coming from the NSA’s top secret surveillance programs.
Monday, August 12, 2013
Back in 2012, the major US banks settled a federal mortgage-fraud lawsuit for $95,000,000. The suit was filed by Lynn Szymoniak, a white-collar fraud specialist, whose own house had been fraudulently foreclosed-upon. When the feds settled with the banks, the evidence detailing the scope of their fraud was sealed, but as of last week, those docs are unsealed, and Szymoniak is shouting them from the hills. The banks precipitated the subprime crash by “securitizing” mortgages — turning mortgages into bonds that could be sold to people looking for investment income — and the securitization process involved transferring title for homes several times over. This title-transfer has a formal legal procedure, and in the absence of that procedure, no sale had taken place. See where this is going?
The banks screwed up the title transfers. A lot. They sold bonds backed by houses they didn’t own. When it came time to foreclose on those homes, they realized that they didn’t actually own them, and so they committed felony after felony, forging the necessary documentation. They stole houses, by the neighborhood-load, and got away with it. The $1B settlement sounded like a big deal, back when the evidence was sealed. Now that Szymoniak’s gotten it into the public eye, it’s clear that $1B was a tiny slap on the wrist: the banks stole trillions of dollars’ worth of houses from you and people like you, paid less than one percent in fines, and got to keep the homes.
August 12, 2013
The New York City Police Department’s controversial “stop and frisk” crime-fighting tactics violate the U.S. Constitution, a federal judge ruled on Monday.
U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin said the city police adopted a policy of “indirect racial profiling” by targeting racially defined groups for stops.
Sunday, August 11, 2013
A Department of Defense document declassified in 1997 shows that the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the United States Armed Forces had drafted and approved a plan to attack and kill Americans and to blame it on Cuba.
The original document is stored at the National Security Archives at George Washington University in Washington, DC, and is available in PDF form HERE. (HTML version)
The plan was rejected by President John F. Kennedy, after it was presented by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Lyman Lemnitzer, to Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara on March 13, 1962. The plan was intended to "provide justifications for US military intervention in Cuba."
According to the New York Times, the NSA is searching the content of virtually every email that comes into or goes out of the United States without a warrant. To accomplish this astonishing invasion of Americans' privacy, the NSA reportedly is making a copy of nearly every international email. It then searches that cloned data, keeping all of the emails containing certain keywords and deleting the rest – all in a matter of seconds.
If you emailed a friend, family member or colleague overseas today (or if, from abroad, you emailed someone in the US), chances are that the NSA made a copy of that email and searched it for suspicious information.
Friday, August 9, 2013
The National Security Agency has a secret backdoor into its vast databases under a legal authority enabling it to search for US citizens' email and phone calls without a warrant, according to a top-secret document passed to the Guardian by Edward Snowden.
The previously undisclosed rule change allows NSA operatives to hunt for individual Americans' communications using their name or other identifying information. Senator Ron Wyden told the Guardian that the law provides the NSA with a loophole potentially allowing "warrantless searches for the phone calls or emails of law-abiding Americans".
The authority, approved in 2011, appears to contrast with repeated assurances from Barack Obama and senior intelligence officials to both Congress and the American public that the privacy of US citizens is protected from the NSA's dragnet surveillance programs.
City officials will no longer store the names and addresses of people whose cases are dismissed after a police stop under an agreement that settles a lawsuit over the stop-and-frisk issue.
The deal signed Tuesday resulted from a May 2010 lawsuit brought in state court in Manhattan by the New York Civil Liberties Union. The civil rights group announced the settlement Wednesday, saying the New York Police Department will no longer store the names of people who are stopped, arrested or issued a summons when those cases are dismissed or resolved with a fine for a noncriminal violation.
Thursday, August 8, 2013
By Douglas Horne
This essay will explore, one year at a time, the seminal events in JFK’s ongoing and escalating conflicts with the national security hard-liners in his own administration. At the essay’s end, I will address the inevitable question that arises today, fifty years after his death: Did these internal conflicts over the conduct and very future of the Cold War with the USSR lead to JFK’s death? Did powerful forces and individuals within his own administration cast a veto on his presidency, and his life, over reasons of state policy at the height of the Cold War? These are the questions the reader should keep in mind while reading this essay.
Wednesday, August 7, 2013
DEA and NSA Team Up to Share Intelligence, Leading to Secret Use of Surveillance in Ordinary Investigations
A startling new Reuters story shows one of the biggest dangers of the surveillance state: the unquenchable thirst for access to the NSA’s trove of information by other law enforcement agencies.
As the NSA scoops up phone records and other forms of electronic evidence while investigating national security and terrorism leads, they turn over “tips” to a division of the Drug Enforcement Agency (“DEA”) known as the Special Operations Division (“SOD”). FISA surveillance was originally supposed to be used only in certain specific, authorized national security investigations, but information sharing rules implemented after 9/11 allows the NSA to hand over information to traditional domestic law-enforcement agencies, without any connection to terrorism or national security investigations.
German intelligence sends massive amounts of intercepted data to the NSA, according to documents from whistleblower Edward Snowden, which SPIEGEL has seen. The trans-Atlantic cooperation on technical matters is also much closer than first thought.
Tuesday, August 6, 2013
August 6, 2013
Members of Congress have been repeatedly thwarted when attempting to learn basic information about the National Security Agency (NSA) and the secret FISA court which authorizes its activities, documents provided by two House members demonstrate.
Monday, August 5, 2013
The FBI gave its informants permission to break the law at least 5,658 times in a single year, according to newly disclosed documents that show just how often the nation's top law enforcement agency enlists criminals to help it battle crime.
From USA TODAY
FBI let informants break the law
New documents offer the first public view of how often FBI sources are allowed to break the law.
Friday, August 2, 2013
Law enforcement does not need to get a warrant in order to obtain cell phone data revealing where a person has been, according to a federal appeals court ruling (pdf).
In a 2-1 ruling by a Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals panel of judges in New Orleans, the court said police can bypass getting a search warrant and compel cell phone companies to turn over location data for a customer because the information is “clearly a business record” and therefore not protected by the Fourth Amendment, which guards against illegal searches. Presumably, anyone who purchases a cell phone automatically gives up a certain about of privacy.
FBI employs hackers, has software that can remotely activate cell phone, laptop microphones and more
A new report reveals that the FBI directly employs multiple hackers who create custom surveillance software for the bureau, some of which is capable of remotely activating the microphones on cell phones and laptops, among other features.
Thursday, August 1, 2013
The US government has paid at least £100m to the UK spy agency GCHQ over the last three years to secure access to and influence over Britain's intelligence gathering programmes.
The top secret payments are set out in documents which make clear that the Americans expect a return on the investment, and that GCHQ has to work hard to meet their demands. "GCHQ must pull its weight and be seen to pull its weight," a GCHQ strategy briefing said.
The funding underlines the closeness of the relationship between GCHQ and its US equivalent, the National Security Agency. But it will raise fears about the hold Washington has over the UK's biggest and most important intelligence agency, and whether Britain's dependency on the NSA has become too great.
CNN has uncovered exclusive new information about what is allegedly happening at the CIA, in the wake of the deadly Benghazi terror attack.
Four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, were killed in the assault by armed militants last September 11 in eastern Libya.
Sources now tell CNN dozens of people working for the CIA were on the ground that night, and that the agency is going to great lengths to make sure whatever it was doing, remains a secret.
CNN has learned the CIA is involved in what one source calls an unprecedented attempt to keep the spy agency’s Benghazi secrets from ever leaking out.
Since January, some CIA operatives involved in the agency’s missions in Libya, have been subjected to frequent, even monthly polygraph examinations, according to a source with deep inside knowledge of the agency’s workings.
The goal of the questioning, according to sources, is to find out if anyone is talking to the media or Congress.
It is being described as pure intimidation, with the threat that any unauthorized CIA employee who leaks information could face the end of his or her career.
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has been granted temporary asylum in Russia and is allowed to enter the country’s territory.
With his newly-awarded legal status in Russia, Snowden cannot be handed over to the US authorities, even if Washington files an official request. He can now be transported to the United States only if he agrees to go voluntarily.