Friday, February 27, 2015

GCHQ may be exploiting Bank of England cybersecurity regime for spying agenda, experts warn

Experts at Cambridge University are concerned that a new “penetration testing” scheme aimed at checking how secure banks are from criminal cyber attacks could be hijacked by intelligence agencies for their spying agenda.

The Foundation for Information Policy Research think tank has told MPs they should be worried about some of the effects of CBEST, a testing regime launched by the Bank of England nine months ago.

The scheme, which was set up after the Bank’s financial policy committee criticised the industry’s approach to cybersecurity, was designed to make IT systems more robust.

However, the think tank, which is led by Ross Anderson, professor of information security at Cambridge, believes the likes of GCHQ could be exploiting weaknesses found in the tests for their own means.

The worries centre not only on the role of GCHQ’s information security arm in vetting the small number of companies carrying out the tests, but also on the suspected employment of former GCHQ staff by the testing firms.

The concerns were outlined in written evidence to Parliament’s Joint Committee on National Security Strategy late last year, and came after documents leaked by US National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden showed that secret services were monitoring international banking and credit card transactions in 2010.

http://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/2015/02/27/gchq-may-be-exploiting-bank-of-england-cybersecurity-regime-for-spying-agenda-experts-warn/?

Hillary Clinton Exposed Part 2 – Clinton Foundation Took Millions From Countries That Also Fund ISIS

The Washington Post reported last week that foreign sources, including governments, made up a third of those who have given the foundation more than $1 million over time. The Post found that the foundation, begun by former president Bill Clinton, has raised nearly $2 billion since its creation in 2001.

Foreign governments and individuals are prohibited from giving money to U.S. political candidates, to prevent outside influence over national leaders. But the foundation has given donors a way to potentially gain favor with the Clintons outside the traditional political limits.

http://libertyblitzkrieg.com/2015/02/26/hilary-clinton-exposed-part-2-clinton-foundation-took-millions-from-countries-that-also-fund-isis/

Hillary Clinton Exposed Part 1 – How She Aggressively Lobbied for Mega Corporations as Secretary of State

NYPD Quota Whistle-Blower's Lawsuit Revived

New York City police officers have free speech rights too, just as long as they talk though civilian channels, the 2nd Circuit ruled Thursday.
The potentially groundbreaking decision allows NYPD Officer Craig Matthews to sue the department for allegedly retaliating against him after he blew the whistle on police quotas in the Bronx, implemented in 2008.
Attorneys for Matthews say the decision could also unmuzzle public employees of all stripes.
Matthews, a 17-year police veteran of the 42nd Precinct, said that he started reporting issues with the policy to his then-commander, Capt. Timothy Brugge, in early 2009.
Two years later, Matthews said that trouble started after he told Brugge's successor, Capt. Jon Bloch, that the quota policy caused "unjustified stops, arrests, and summonses because police officers felt forced to abandon their discretion in order to meet their numbers."
He added that this "was having an adverse effect on the precinct's relationship with the community," according to his complaint.
The brass allegedly responded by subjecting Matthews to punitive assignments, poor evaluations, separation from his longtime partner, denials of overtime and leave, and constant harassment and threats.
His supervisor, Lt. Mark Sedran, allegedly told him during a roll call: "If you come after me, I will come back after you harder."

Matthews sued New York City, ex-Commissioner Ray Kelly, Bloch and Sedran in 2012.

http://www.courthousenews.com/2015/02/26/nypd-quota-whistle-blowers-lawsuit-revived.htm

Why your smartphone records everything you say to it

After controversy earlier this month over televisions recording owners and sending the clips to third parties, smartphone owners are now discovering that companies like Google, Apple and Microsoft are also recording voice commands and storing them for up to two years.

Modern televisions are able to change channels, alter volume or even look up information on films via voice command. But controversy erupted on internet forums earlier this month when it was noticed that the terms and conditions for some such services – invariably skipped over due to their length and impenetrable language - allow companies to send recordings of tricky commands to third parties for interpretation.

Often these recordings are not encrypted, so are potentially vulnerable to hackers, and the recordings will capture personal conversations as easily as legitimate commands.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/news/11434754/Why-your-smartphone-records-everything-you-say-to-it.html

‘One of the biggest scandals of our age’: MI5 accused of covering up sexual abuse

MI5 HAS BEEN accused of covering up sexual abuse at Kincora Boy’s Home in Belfast.

Alleged victims are taking legal action to force an independent inquiry into their claims, with the power to compel witnesses to testify.

Amnesty International branded the cover-up at Kincora “one of the biggest scandals of our age”, citing longstanding claims that MI5 “blocked one or more police investigations into Kincora in the 1970s in order to protect its own intelligence-gathering operation”.

The home was run in East Belfast by a member of a Protestant paramilitary organisation.

Allegations have persisted for decades that a paedophile ring at the home was allowed to operate in order for MI5 to blackmail politicians and establishment figures. Two former military intelligence officers have alleged that the security services blocked police investigations into the child abuse.

http://www.thejournal.ie/sexual-abuse-cover-up-kincora-1941502-Feb2015/

MI5 accused of covering up sexual abuse at boys’ home
http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/feb/15/mi5-kincora-childrens-home-northwen-ireland-sexual-abuse

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Obama to ban bullets by executive action, threatens top-selling AR-15 rifle

It’s starting.

As promised, President Obama is using executive actions to impose gun control on the nation, targeting the top-selling rifle in the country, the AR-15 style semi-automatic, with a ban on one of the most-used AR bullets by sportsmen and target shooters.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives this month revealed that it is proposing to put the ban on 5.56 mm ammo on a fast track, immediately driving up the price of the bullets and prompting retailers, including the huge outdoors company Cabela’s, to urge sportsmen to urge Congress to stop the president.

"The Obama administration was unable to ban America's most popular sporting rifle through the legislative process, so now it's trying to ban commonly owned and used ammunition through regulation," said Chris W. Cox, executive director of the NRA-ILA, the group's policy and lobby shop. "The NRA and our tens of millions of supporters across the country will fight to stop President Obama's latest attack on our Second Amendment freedoms."

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/article/2560750


The Net Neutrality Scam

Yet again, the government wants to fix a problem that doesn’t exist. According to the Obama administration and the FCC, it is necessary to regulate internet service providers so that they don’t interfere with people’s access to the web. The claim immediately prompts one to ask: Who is being denied access to the web?

In the past twenty years, access to the internet has only become more widespread and service today is far faster for many people — including “ordinary” people — than it was twenty years ago, or even ten years ago. Today, broadband in Europe, where the internet is more tightly regulated, has less reach than it has in the United States.

The administration’s plan is rather innocuously called “net neutrality,” but in fact it has nothing at all to do with neutrality and is just a scheme to vastly increase the federal government’s control over the internet.

http://mises.org/library/net-neutrality-scam

FCC approves net-neutrality in 3-2 vote, reclassifies broadband as utility

U.S. regulators invoked broad powers to ensure that Web traffic for all users is treated equally, adoptingnet-neutrality rules that supporters say will preserve a wide-open Internet and that opponents vow to fight in court.

The measure approved Thursday by the Federal Communications Commission prohibits companies such as AT&T Inc. and Comcast Corp. from blocking or slowing online traffic and from offering faster service in return for payment. It also brings wireless Internet service fully under the rules for the first time.

The 3-2 vote on party lines by FCC commissioners enshrines a regulation backed by the Obama administration and opposed by cable and telephone companies, which say the rules risk stifling a fast-growing Internet and will lead to rate regulation.

“The Internet is too important to allow broadband providers to make the rules,” said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, a Democrat appointed by Obama, in comments as the commission prepared to vote in its crowded meeting room in Washington.

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/cities-win-bid-fcc-overrule-state-broadband-limits-article-1.2130278

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

It's official: NSA spying is hurting the US tech economy

China is no longer using high-profile US technology brands for state purchases, amid ongoing revelations about mass surveillance and hacking by the US government.

A new report confirmed key brands, including Cisco, Apple, Intel, and McAfee -- among others -- have been dropped from the Chinese government's list of authorized brands, a Reuters report said Wednesday.

The number of approved foreign technology brands fell by a third, based on an analysis of the procurement list. Less than half of those companies with security products remain on the list.

Although a number of reasons were cited, domestic companies were said to offer "more product guarantees" than overseas rivals in the wake of the Edward Snowden leaks. Some reports have attempted to pin a multi-billion dollar figure on the impact of the leaks.

In reality, the figure could be incalculable.

The report confirms what many US technology companies have been saying for the past year: the activities by the NSA are harming their businesses in crucial growth markets, including China.

http://www.zdnet.com/article/another-reason-to-hate-the-nsa-china-is-backing-away-from-us-tech-brands/

How the CIA gets away with it: Our democracy is their real enemy

The inside, untold story of CIA's efforts to mislead Congress -- and the people -- about torture will horrify you
by SCOTT HORTON

Senior figures in the CIA, including the agency’s senior career lawyer, John Rizzo, fully appreciated that the black sites and the EITs presented particularly dangerous territory. Exposure of these programs could damage some of the agency’s tightest points of collaboration with foreign intelligence services—authoritarian regimes such as Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Pakistan, Thailand, and Yemen, as well as among new democracies of Eastern Europe, like Lithuania, Poland, and Romania. British intelligence had been deeply involved and feared exposure, considering the domestic political opposition and the rigorous attitude of British courts.

CIA leadership was also focused on the high likelihood that the program, once exposed, would lead to a press for criminal prosecutions under various statutes, including the anti-torture act. It therefore moved preemptively, seeking assurances and an opinion from the Justice Department that would serve as a “get out of jail free” card for agents involved in the program. But when those opinions were disclosed, starting hard on the heels of photographic evidence of abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq—much of it eerily similar to techniques discussed in the Justice Department opinions—a political firestorm erupted around the world. The Justice Department was forced to withdraw most of the opinions even before George W. Bush left Washington.

Leon Panetta, arriving at the CIA in 2009, found top management preoccupied with concerns about fallout from this program.

The CIA chose to react to plans for a congressional probe cautiously, with a series of tactical maneuvers and skirmishes. Its strategy was apparent from the beginning: slow the review down while hoping for a change in the political winds that might end it. And from the outset it made use of one essential weapon against its congressional overseers—secrecy. For the agency, secrecy was not just a way of life; it was also a path to power. It wielded secrecy as a shield against embarrassing disclosures and as a sword to silence and threaten adversaries. It was an all-purpose tool.

http://www.salon.com/2015/02/21/how_the_cia_gets_away_with_it_our_democracy_is_their_real_enemy/

ConspiracyScope Facebook Page Taken Down!

I'm locked out of my 6 year old Facebook account because they want Me to start using My real name .

Follow me on TWITTER to get all my uploads...
https://twitter.com/ConspiracyScope



CONFIDENTIAL INFORMANT PLAYED KEY ROLE IN FBI FOILING ITS OWN TERROR PLOT

The FBI Wednesday announced the arrest of three men it alleges planned to help the Islamic State, news that at first appeared to confirm fears that radical extremism is spreading to the United States.

“The flow of foreign fighters to Syria represents an evolving threat to our country and to our allies,”District Attorney Loretta Lynch said in a press release announcing the arrests. “We will vigorously prosecute those who attempt to travel to Syria to wage violent jihad on behalf of ISIL and those who support them.”

Left unmentioned in the FBI statement, however, is the integral role a paid informant appears to have played in generating the charges against the men, and helping turn a fantastical “plot” into something even remotely tangible. It appears that none of the three men was in any condition to travel or support the Islamic State, without help from the FBI informant.

https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/02/25/isis-material-support-plot-involved-confidential-informant/

CSE monitors millions of Canadian emails to government

Canada’s electronic spy agency collects millions of emails from Canadians and stores them for “days to months” while trying to filter out malware and other attacks on government computer networks, CBC News has learned.

A top-secret document written by Communications Security Establishment (CSE) analysts sheds new light on the scope of the agency’s domestic email collection as part of its mandate to protect government computers.

CBC analyzed the document in collaboration with U.S. news site The Intercept, which obtained it from U.S. National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Canada’s electronic spy agency watched visits to government websites and collected about 400,000 emails to the government every day, storing some of the data for years, according to the 2010 document. Today’s volume is likely much higher given online traffic growth.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/cse-monitors-millions-of-canadian-emails-to-government-1.2969687

CANADIAN SPIES COLLECT DOMESTIC EMAILS IN SECRET SECURITY SWEEP

Canada’s electronic surveillance agency is covertly monitoring vast amounts of Canadians’ emails as part of a sweeping domestic cybersecurity operation, according to top-secret documents.

The surveillance initiative, revealed Wednesday by CBC News in collaboration with The Intercept, is sifting through millions of emails sent to Canadian government agencies and departments, archiving details about them on a database for months or even years.

The data mining operation is carried out by the Communications Security Establishment, or CSE, Canada’s equivalent of the National Security Agency. Its existence is disclosed in documents obtained by The Intercept from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The emails are vacuumed up by the Canadian agency as part of its mandate to defend against hacking attacks and malware targeting government computers. It relies on a system codenamed PONY EXPRESS to analyze the messages in a bid to detect potential cyber threats.

https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/02/25/canada-cse-pony-express-email-surveillance/

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Africa is new ‘El Dorado of espionage’, leaked intelligence files reveal

Africa emerges as the 21st century theatre of espionage, with South Africa as its gateway, in the cache of secret intelligence documents and cables seen by the Guardian. “Africa is now the El Dorado of espionage,” said one serving foreign intelligence officer.

The continent has increasingly become the focus of international spying as the battle for its resources has intensified, China’s economic role has grown dramatically, and the US and other western states have rapidly expanded their military presence and operations in a new international struggle for Africa.

With South Africa a regional powerhouse and communications hub, Pretoria has become a centre of the continent’s new Great Game, intelligence officials say, and a target of global espionage. The leaked documents obtained by al-Jazeera and shared with the Guardian contain the names of 78 foreign spies working in Pretoria, along with their photographs, addresses and mobile phone numbers - as well as 65 foreign intelligence agents identified by the South Africans as working undercover. Among the countries sending spies are the US, India, Britain and Senegal.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/feb/24/africa-el-dorado-espionage-leaked-intelligence-files


REPORT: RAHM EMANUEL’S CHICAGO POLICE OPERATING DOMESTIC BLACK SITE

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Chicago Police Department is operating a CIA-style black site on the city’s West Side, according to an explosive new report from The Guardian’s Spencer Ackerman. The facility, an otherwise plain warehouse known as Homan Square, also houses military-style vehicles, according to Ackerman.

The Guardian reports that the CPD detains mostly poor, black and brown people at Homan. Once at the site, detainees are allegedly beaten by police, shackled for hours and denied access to counsel. There is no booking at Homan Square, so details about who has been detained at the facility are scarce. “Witnesses, suspects or other Chicagoans who end up inside do not appear to have a public, searchable record entered into a database indicating where they are,” Ackerman wrote. “Lawyers and relatives insist there is no way of finding their whereabouts.”

https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/02/24/report-chicago-police-operating-domestic-black-site/

The disappeared: Chicago police detain Americans at abuse-laden 'black site'

The Chicago police department operates an off-the-books interrogation compound, rendering Americans unable to be found by family or attorneys while locked inside what lawyers say is the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site.

The facility, a nondescript warehouse on Chicago’s west side known as Homan Square, has long been the scene of secretive work by special police units. Interviews with local attorneys and one protester who spent the better part of a day shackled in Homan Square describe operations that deny access to basic constitutional rights.

Alleged police practices at Homan Square, according to those familiar with the facility who spoke out to the Guardian after its investigation into Chicago police abuse, include:

*Keeping arrestees out of official booking databases.
*Beating by police, resulting in head wounds.
*Shackling for prolonged periods.
*Denying attorneys access to the “secure” facility.
*Holding people without legal counsel for between 12 and 24 hours, including people as young as 15.

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/feb/24/chicago-police-detain-americans-black-site

Monday, February 23, 2015

Secrecy around police surveillance equipment proves a case’s undoing

The case against Tadrae McKenzie looked like an easy win for prosecutors. He and two buddies robbed a small-time pot dealer of $130 worth of weed using BB guns. Under Florida law, that was robbery with a deadly weapon, with a sentence of at least four years in prison.

But before trial, his defense team detected investigators’ use of a secret surveillance tool, one that raises significant privacy concerns. In an unprecedented move, a state judge ordered the police to show the device — a cell-tower simulator sometimes called a StingRay — to the attorneys.

Rather than show the equipment, the state offered McKenzie a plea bargain.

McKenzie’s case is emblematic of the growing, but hidden, use by local law enforcement of a sophisticated surveillance technology borrowed from the national security world. It shows how a gag order imposed by the FBI — on grounds that discussing the device’s operation would compromise its effectiveness — has left judges, the public and criminal defendants in the dark on how the tool works.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/secrecy-around-police-surveillance-equipment-proves-a-cases-undoing/2015/02/22/ce72308a-b7ac-11e4-aa05-1ce812b3fdd2_story.html

The CIA Coined the Term Conspiracy Theorist In 1967

In April 1967, the CIA wrote a dispatch which coined the term “conspiracy theories” … and recommended methods for discrediting such theories. The dispatch was marked “psych” – short for “psychological operations” or disinformation – and “CS” for the CIA’s “Clandestine Services” unit.

The dispatch was produced in responses to a Freedom of Information Act request by the New York Times in 1976.

Summarizing the tactics which the CIA dispatch recommended:

*Claim that it would be impossible for so many people would keep quiet about such a big conspiracy
*Have people friendly to the CIA attack the claims, and point back to “official” reports
*Claim that eyewitness testimony is unreliable
*Claim that this is all old news, as “no significant new evidence has emerged”
*Ignore conspiracy claims unless discussion about them is already too active
*Claim that it’s irresponsible to speculate
*Accuse theorists of being wedded to and infatuated with their theories
*Accuse theorists of being politically motivated
*Accuse theorists of having financial interests in promoting conspiracy theories

In other words, the CIA’s clandestine services unit created the arguments for attacking conspiracy theories as unreliable in the 1960s as part of its psychological warfare operations.

http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2015/02/con.html

CIA looks to expand its cyber espionage capabilities

CIA Director John O. Brennan is planning a major expansion of the agency’s cyber espionage capabilities as part of a broad restructuring of an intelligence service long defined by its human spy work, current and former U.S. officials said.

The proposed shift reflects a determination that the CIA’s approach to conventional espionage is increasingly outmoded amid the exploding use of smartphones, social media and other technologies.

U.S. officials said Brennan’s plans call for increased use of cyber capabilities in almost every category of operations — whether identifying foreign officials to recruit as CIA informants, confirming the identities of targets of drone strikes or penetrating Internet-savvy adversaries such as the Islamic State.

Several officials said that Brennan’s team has even considered creating a new cyber directorate — a step that would put the agency’s technology experts on equal footing with the operations and analysis branches that have been pillars of the CIA’s organizational structure for decades.

U.S. officials emphasized that the plans would not involve new legal authorities, and that Brennan may stop short of creating a new directorate. But the suggestion underscores the scope of Brennan’s ambitions, as well as their potential to raise privacy concerns or lead to turf skirmishes with the National Security Agency — the dominant player in electronic espionage.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/cia-looks-to-expand-its-cyber-espionage-capabilities/2015/02/23/a028e80c-b94d-11e4-9423-f3d0a1ec335c_story.html

South Africa monitored Iranian agents under US pressure, spy cables show

The US’s covert war with Iran is being fought across the globe, with countries such as South Africa dragged in despite being bystanders. The leaked spy cables offer a glimpse into US efforts – often undeclared and unreported – to tighten sanctions and hamper Iran’s nuclear progress, including blocking access to scarce mineral resources in Africa.

The world’s foremost superpower and its allies are trying to force Iran to reach a deal on its nuclear programme. The US, Britain and Israel say Tehran is seeking a nuclear weapons capability while the Islamic republic insists it wants to use nuclear energy solely for civilian purposes.

The leaked documents repeatedly stress that South Africa’s National Intelligence Agency does not see Iran as a significant threat to the country. The papers state it has made no serious effort to export the Iranian revolution or stir up Shia Muslim groups in the country, and that it poses no other discernible danger.

Yet the NIA has devoted huge resources to monitoring Iran. One of the biggest dossiers in the spy cable cache is one drafted by the NIA, which is aimed exclusively at Iranian agents. It is called Operational Target Analysis and dated January 2010.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/feb/23/south-africa-monitored-iranian-agents-us-pressure-spy-cables

CIA attempted to contact Hamas despite official US ban, spy cables reveal

The CIA tried to gain access to Hamas through backchannels despite a US government ban on contact with the Palestinian Islamist movement, the spy cables show.

They suggest US intelligence has been anxious to make inroads with Hamas, or recruit agents, inside the Gaza Strip. The US designated Hamas, which won the last Palestinian election in 2006 and now runs Gaza, as a terrorist group in 1997. When Barack Obama became president in 2008, there was speculation that he might seek to establish contact, but this proved short-lived.

Despite an official ban on contact, a CIA officer discussed with a South African intelligence agent the possibility of gaining access to Hamas in 2012, the leaked documents disclose. (Since the end of apartheid, South Africa has had strong relations with both Fatah and Hamas, though the Palestinian Authority has voiced its disapproval at the Hamas links.)

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/feb/23/spy-cables-leak-cia-contact-hamas-us-ban

Leaked cables show Netanyahu’s Iran bomb claim contradicted by Mossad

Binyamin Netanyahu’s dramatic declaration to world leaders in 2012 that Iran was about a year away from making a nuclear bomb was contradicted by his own secret service, according to a top-secret Mossad document.

It is part of a cache of hundreds of dossiers, files and cables from the world’s major intelligence services – one of the biggest spy leaks in recent times.

Brandishing a cartoon of a bomb with a red line to illustrate his point, the Israeli prime minister warned the UN in New York that Iran would be able to build nuclear weapons the following year and called for action to halt the process.

But in a secret report shared with South Africa a few weeks later, Israel’s intelligence agency concluded that Iran was “not performing the activity necessary to produce weapons”. The report highlights the gulf between the public claims and rhetoric of top Israeli politicians and the assessments of Israel’s military and intelligence establishment.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/feb/23/leaked-spy-cables-netanyahu-iran-bomb-mossad

Al Jazeera to Reveal Hundreds of Secret Intelligence Documents

A digital leak to Al Jazeera of hundreds of secret intelligence documents from the world's spy agencies has offered an unprecedented insight into operational dealings of the shadowy and highly politicised realm of global espionage.

Over the coming days, Al Jazeera's Investigative Unit is publishing The Spy Cables, in collaboration with The Guardian newspaper.

Spanning a period from 2006 until December 2014, they include detailed briefings and internal analyses written by operatives of South Africa's State Security Agency (SSA). They also reveal the South Africans' secret correspondence with the US intelligence agency, the CIA, Britain's MI6, Israel's Mossad, Russia's FSB and Iran's operatives, as well as dozens of other services from Asia to the Middle East and Africa.

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/02/spy-cables-world-espionage-snowden-guardian-mi6-cia-ssa-mossad-iran-southafrica-leak-150218100147229.html

THE INTERCEPT’S LAURA POITRAS WINS ACADEMY AWARD FOR ‘CITIZENFOUR’

Laura Poitras, a founding editor of The Intercept, won an Academy Award tonight for her documentary “Citizenfour,” an inside look at Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency whistleblower.

“The disclosures that Edward Snowden revealed don’t only expose a threat to our privacy but to our democracy itself,” Poitras said in her acceptance speech. “Thank you to Edward Snowden for his courage and for the many other whistleblowers.” Snowden, in a statement released after the award was announced, said, “My hope is that this award will encourage more people to see the film and be inspired by its message that ordinary citizens, working together, can change the world.”

The film, which has been hailed as a real-life thriller, chronicles Snowden’s effort to securely contact Poitras and Glenn Greenwald in 2013 and meet them in Hong Kong, where Poitras filmed Snowden discussing the thousands of classified NSA documents he was leaking to them, and his motives for doing so. The film takes its title from the pseudonym Snowden used when he contacted Poitras in encrypted emails that were revealed in her documentary.

https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/02/22/poitras-wins-oscar-for-citizenfour/

How the NSA’s Firmware Hacking Works and Why It’s So Unsettling

One of the most shocking parts of the recently discovered spying network Equation Group is its mysterious module designed to reprogram or reflash a computer hard drive’s firmware with malicious code. The Kaspersky researchers who uncovered this said its ability to subvert hard drive firmware—the guts of any computer—“surpasses anything else” they had ever seen.
The hacking tool, believed to be a product of the NSA, is significant because subverting the firmware gives the attackers God-like control of the system in a way that is stealthy and persistent even through software updates. The module, named “nls_933w.dll”, is the first of its kind found in the wild and is used with both the EquationDrug and GrayFish spy platforms Kaspersky uncovered.

It also has another capability: to create invisible storage space on the hard drive to hide data stolen from the system so the attackers can retrieve it later. This lets spies like the Equation Group bypass disk encryption by secreting documents they want to seize in areas that don’t get encrypted.

Kaspersky has so far uncovered 500 victims of the Equation Group, but only five of these had the firmware-flashing module on their systems. The flasher module is likely reserved for significant systems that present special surveillance challenges. Costin Raiu, director of Kaspersky’s Global Research and Analysis Team, believes these are high-value computers that are not connected to the internet and are protected with disk encryption.

Here’s what we know about the firmware-flashing module.

http://www.wired.com/2015/02/nsa-firmware-hacking/

NSA and GCHQ stealing SIM card keys: a few things you should know

Last Thursday, February 19, the website The Intercept broke a big story about how NSA and GCHQ hacked the security company Gemalto in order to acquire large numbers of keys used in the SIM cards of mobile phones.

The story has quite some background information about how these keys are used and how NSA and GCHQ conducted this operation. But as we have often seen with revelations based upon the Snowden-documents, media once again came with headlines like "Sim card database hack gave US and UK spies access to billions of cellphones", which is so exaggerated that it is almost a scandal in itself.

Instead, analysing The Intercept's article and the original documents leads to the conclusion that the goals of this operation were most likely limited to tactical military operations - something that was completely ignored in most press reports. Also there is no evidence that Gemalto was more involved in this than other SIM card suppliers.

http://electrospaces.blogspot.com/2015/02/nsa-and-gchq-stealing-sim-card-keys-few.html

HSBC accused of 'engaging a systematic and profitable collusion in serious criminal activity'

The banking giant HSBC is today accused by a former Director of Public Prosecutions of engaging in “a systematic and profitable collusion in serious criminal activity”.

In a damming intervention Lord Ken Macdonald, who led the Crown Prosecution Service until 2008, said there existed “credible evidence” of HSBC’s involvement in “grave” cross border crimes that should have been the subject of urgent and “sustained criminal investigation” in the UK.

Lord Macdonald added that a decision by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs not to investigate HSBC for its role in facilitating possible tax evasion was “seriously legally flawed”.

Lord Macdonald’s intervention will increase the pressure both on the bank, which reports its full year results today, and HMRC. It comes as the Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander called for new laws to be introduced to crack down on tax evasion before the next election.

Until now HMRC has claimed it received the details of accounts held by clients of HSBC Suisse under strict international treaty conditions, which it said, limited their use of the data to only to pursuing tax offences.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/hsbc-accused-of-engaging-a-systematic-and-profitable-collusion-in-serious-criminal-activity-10062838.html

Edward Snowden documentary Citizenfour wins Oscar

Citizenfour has won the Oscar for best documentary, for its director Laura Poitras, editor Mathilde Bonnefoy and producer Dirk Wilutzky.

Collecting the award, Poitras, flanked by journalist and collaborator Glenn Greenwald, said: “The disclosures of Edward Snowden don’t only expose a threat to our privacy but to our democracy itself. When the decisions that rule us are taken in secret we lose the power to control and govern ourselves.” Poitras thanked Edward Snowden for his “sacrifices”, and added: “I share this award with Glenn Greenwald and the many other journalists who are taking risks to expose the truth.”

http://www.theguardian.com/film/2015/feb/23/edward-snowden-documentary-citizenfour-wins-oscar

Saturday, February 21, 2015

America Has Been At War 93% of the Time – 222 Out of 239 Years – Since 1776

In 2011, Danios wrote:

Below, I have reproduced a year-by-year timeline of America’s wars, which reveals something quite interesting: since the United States was founded in 1776, she has been at war during 214 out of her 235 calendar years of existence. In other words, there were only 21 calendar years in which the U.S. did not wage any wars.


1941 – World War II

1942 – World War II

1943 – Wold War II

1944 – World War II

1945 – World War II

1946 – Cold War (U.S. occupies the Philippines and South Korea)

1947 – Cold War (U.S. occupies South Korea, U.S. forces land in Greece to fight Communists)

1948 – Cold War (U.S. forces aid Chinese Nationalist Party against Communists)

1949 – Cold War (U.S. forces aid Chinese Nationalist Party against Communists)

1950 – Korean War, Jayuga Uprising

1951 – Korean War

1952 – Korean War

1953 – Korean War

1954 – Covert War in Guatemala

1955 – Vietnam War

1956 – Vietnam War

1957 – Vietnam War

1958 – Vietnam War

1959 – Vietnam War, Conflict in Haiti

1960 – Vietam War

1961 – Vietnam War

1962 – Vietnam War, Cold War (Cuban Missile Crisis; U.S. marines fight Communists in Thailand)

1963 – Vietnam War

1964 – Vietnam War

1965 – Vietnam War, U.S. occupation of Dominican Republic

1966 – Vietnam War, U.S. occupation of Dominican Republic

1967 – Vietnam War

1968 – Vietnam War

1969 – Vietnam War

1970 – Vietnam War

1971 – Vietnam War

1972 – Vietnam War

1973 – Vietnam War, U.S. aids Israel in Yom Kippur War

1974 – Vietnam War

1975 – Vietnam War

1976 – No major war

1977 – No major war

1978 – No major war

1979 – Cold War (CIA proxy war in Afghanistan)

1980 – Cold War (CIA proxy war in Afghanistan)

1981 – Cold War (CIA proxy war in Afghanistan and Nicaragua), First Gulf of Sidra Incident

1982 – Cold War (CIA proxy war in Afghanistan and Nicaragua), Conflict in Lebanon

1983 – Cold War (Invasion of Grenada, CIA proxy war in Afghanistan and Nicaragua), Conflict in Lebanon

1984 – Cold War (CIA proxy war in Afghanistan and Nicaragua), Conflict in Persian Gulf

1985 – Cold War (CIA proxy war in Afghanistan and Nicaragua)

1986 – Cold War (CIA proxy war in Afghanistan and Nicaragua)

1987 – Conflict in Persian Gulf

1988 – Conflict in Persian Gulf, U.S. occupation of Panama

1989 – Second Gulf of Sidra Incident, U.S. occupation of Panama, Conflict in Philippines

1990 – First Gulf War, U.S. occupation of Panama

1991 – First Gulf War

1992 – Conflict in Iraq

1993 – Conflict in Iraq

1994 – Conflict in Iraq, U.S. invades Haiti

1995 – Conflict in Iraq, U.S. invades Haiti, NATO bombing of Bosnia and Herzegovina

1996 – Conflict in Iraq

1997 – No major war

1998 – Bombing of Iraq, Missile strikes against Afghanistan and Sudan

1999 – Kosovo War

2000 – No major war

2001 – War on Terror in Afghanistan

2002 – War on Terror in Afghanistan and Yemen

2003 – War on Terror in Afghanistan, and Iraq

2004 – War on Terror in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Yemen

2005 – War on Terror in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Yemen

2006 – War on Terror in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Yemen

2007 – War on Terror in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen

2008 – War on Terror in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Yemen

2009 – War on Terror in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Yemen

2010 – War on Terror in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Yemen

2011 – War on Terror in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen; Conflict in Libya (Libyan Civil War)

In most of these wars, the U.S. was on the offense. Danios admits that some of the wars were defensive. However, Danios also leaves out covert CIA operations and other acts which could be considered war.

Let’s update what’s happened since 2011:

2012 – War on Terror in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Syria and Yemen

2013 – War on Terror in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Syria and Yemen

2014 – War on Terror in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Syria and Yemen; Civil War in Ukraine

2015 – War on Terror in Somalia, Somalia, Syria and Yemen; Civil War in Ukraine

So we can add 4 more years of war. That means that for 222 out of 239 years – or 93% of the time – America has been at war. (We can quibble with the exact numbers, but the high percentage of time that America has been at war is clear and unmistakable.)

http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2015/02/america-war-93-time-222-239-years-since-1776.html

50th Anniversary of Malcolm X’s Assassination: His Legacy Lives On

February 21st marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Malcolm X. On this occasion, take a look back at this African-American civil rights activist’s life and legacy.

http://www.biography.com/news/assassination-of-malcolm-x



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9AmuYqjRyg

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Spies Can Track You Just by Watching Your Phone’s Power Use

Smartphone users might balk at letting a random app like Candy Crush or Shazam track their every move via GPS. But researchers have found that Android phones reveal information about your location to every app on your device through a different, unlikely data leak: the phone’s power consumption.

Researchers at Stanford University and Israel’s defense research group Rafael have created a technique they call PowerSpy, which they say can gather information about an Android phone’s geolocation merely by tracking its power use over time. That data, unlike GPS or Wi-Fi location tracking, is freely available to any installed app without a requirement to ask the user’s permission. That means it could represent a new method of stealthily determining a user’s movements with as much as 90 percent accuracy—though for now the method only really works when trying to differentiate between a certain number of pre-measured routes.

Spies might trick a surveillance target into downloading a specific app that uses the PowerSpy technique, or less malicious app makers could use its location tracking for advertising purposes, says Yan Michalevski, one of the Stanford researchers. “You could install an application like Angry Birds that communicates over the network but doesn’t ask for any location permissions,” says Michalevski. “It gathers information and sends it back to me to track you in real time, to understand what routes you’ve taken when you drove your car or to know exactly where you are on the route. And it does it all just by reading power consumption.”

http://www.wired.com/2015/02/powerspy-phone-tracking/

PowerSpy: Location Tracking using Mobile Device Power Analysis

THE GREAT SIM HEIST - HOW SPIES STOLE THE KEYS TO THE ENCRYPTION CASTLE

AMERICAN AND BRITISH spies hacked into the internal computer network of the largest manufacturer of SIM cards in the world, stealing encryption keys used to protect the privacy of cellphone communications across the globe, according to top-secret documents provided to The Intercept by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The hack was perpetrated by a joint unit consisting of operatives from the NSA and its British counterpart Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ. The breach, detailed in a secret 2010 GCHQ document, gave the surveillance agencies the potential to secretly monitor a large portion of the world’s cellular communications, including both voice and data.

The company targeted by the intelligence agencies, Gemalto, is a multinational firm incorporated in the Netherlands that makes the chips used in mobile phones and next-generation credit cards. Among its clients are AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint and some 450 wireless network providers around the world. The company operates in 85 countries and has more than 40 manufacturing facilities. One of its three global headquarters is in Austin, Texas and it has a large factory in Pennsylvania.

In all, Gemalto produces some 2 billion SIM cards a year. Its motto is “Security to be Free.”

With these stolen encryption keys, intelligence agencies can monitor mobile communications without seeking or receiving approval from telecom companies and foreign governments. Possessing the keys also sidesteps the need to get a warrant or a wiretap, while leaving no trace on the wireless provider’s network that the communications were intercepted. Bulk key theft additionally enables the intelligence agencies to unlock any previously encrypted communications they had already intercepted, but did not yet have the ability to decrypt.

https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/02/19/great-sim-heist/

FBI FLOUTS OBAMA DIRECTIVE TO LIMIT GAG ORDERS ON NATIONAL SECURITY LETTERS

Despite the post-Snowden spotlight on mass surveillance, the intelligence community’s easiest end-run around the Fourth Amendment since 2001 has been something called a National Security Letter.

FBI agents can demand that an Internet service provider, telephone company or financial institution turn over its records on any number of people — without any judicial review whatsoever — simply by writing a letter that says the information is needed for national security purposes. The FBI at one point was cranking out over 50,000 such letters a year; by the latest count, it still issues about 60 a day.

https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/02/19/fbi-flouts-obama-directive-limit-gag-orders-national-security-letters/

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Hacker Claims Feds Hit Him With 44 Felonies When He Refused to Be an FBI Spy

A year ago, the Department of Justice threatened to put Fidel Salinas in prison for the rest of his life for hacking crimes. But before the federal government brought those charges against him, Salinas now says, it tried a different tactic: recruiting him.

A Southern District of Texas judge sentenced Salinas earlier this month to six months in prison and a $10,600 fine after he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of computer fraud and abuse. The charge stemmed from his repeatedly scanning the local Hidalgo County website for vulnerabilities in early 2012. But just months before he took that plea, the 28-year-old with ties to the hacktivist group Anonymous instead faced 44 felony hacking and cyberstalking charges, all of which were later dismissed. And now that his case is over, Salinas is willing to say why he believes he faced that overwhelming list of empty charges. As he tells it, two FBI agents asked him to hack targets on the bureau’s behalf, and he refused.

Over the course of a six-hour FBI interrogation in May, 2013, months after his arrest, Salinas says two agents from the FBI’s Southern District of Texas office asked him to use his skills to gather information on Mexican drug cartels and local government figures accepting bribes from drug traffickers. “They asked me to gather information on elected officials, cartel members, anyone I could get data from that would help them out,” Salinas told WIRED in a phone interview before his sentencing. “I told them no.”

“Fundamentally this represents the FBI trying to recruit by indictment,” says Salinas’ lawyer Tor Ekeland, who took the case pro bono last year. “The message was clear: If he had agreed to help them, they would have dropped the charges in a second.”

http://www.wired.com/2015/02/hacker-claims-feds-hit-44-felonies-refused-fbi-spy/

GCHQ Will Have To Start Letting Everyone Know Whether Or Not They've Been Illegally Spied On

So, anyone in the world will be allowed to ask -- and receive an answer -- about being swept up in shared GCHQ-NSA dragnets, provided the query only involves shared data and occurred before the IPT's legalization of this partnership in December of last year. And there are even more restrictions. The data has to be something collected by the NSA and shared with the GCHQ, not vice versa, and must still be retained and accessible at the point the GCHQ receives the inquiry.

While there are many specifics limiting the public's involvement, there will be no specifics forthcoming from the UK's spy agencies.

Despite this apparent narrowness, the number of people that could get a yes could be in the hundreds of millions. However, The IPT will not reveal the granularity of information GCHQ kept on you. “People will never find out if it was their phone records that GCHQ had, or just a specific email,” said King, “They only answer they’ll get is a broad one of yes, GCHQ had data about you illegally from NSA.”

Privacy International will be funneling these requests in to the IPT via a submission form at its site. The selectors (email address, name, telephone number) will be handed over to the GCHQ to be used to search for matching, NSA-originated shared data. If found, requestors will be given their detail-free "yes" answer and the illegally-obtained data will be destroyed. It's not a huge step forward but it's a start.

https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20150216/17271330031/gchq-will-have-to-start-letting-uk-citizens-know-whether-not-theyve-been-illegally-spied.shtml

UK admits unlawfully monitoring legally privileged communications

The regime under which UK intelligence agencies, including MI5 and MI6, have been monitoring conversations between lawyers and their clients for the past five years is unlawful, the British government has admitted.

The admission that the activities of the security services have failed to comply fully with human rights laws in a second major area – this time highly sensitive legally privileged communications – is a severe embarrassment for the government.

It follows hard on the heels of the British court ruling on 6 February declaring that the regime surrounding the sharing of mass personal intelligence data between America’s national security agency and Britain’s GCHQ was unlawful for seven years.

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/feb/18/uk-admits-unlawfully-monitoring-legally-privileged-communications?

DESTROYED BY THE ESPIONAGE ACT

STEPHEN KIM SPOKE TO A REPORTER. NOW HE’S IN JAIL. THIS IS HIS STORY.

On April 2, 2014, I sat in a half-empty courtroom in Washington, D.C., and watched as Kim pleaded guilty to one count of violating the Espionage Act. He was the latest victim in an unprecedented crackdown on leaks; so far, the Obama administration has prosecuted more than twice as many leak cases under the Espionage Act as all previous administrations combined. Kim was dressed in a dark suit, white shirt and blue tie. His manner that day revealed nothing, at least on the surface, of how his life had unravelled in the past five years — the broken marriage, the young son who lived far away, the life savings that were now depleted, and the profound struggles with depression and thoughts of suicide.

https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/02/18/destroyed-by-the-espionage-act/



Tuesday, February 17, 2015

All the Creepy Ways Big Brother Is Watching You

Today, there’s little room for indiscretions, imperfections, or acts of independence—especially not when the government can listen in on your phone calls, monitor your driving habits, track your movements, scrutinize your purchases and peer through the walls of your home. That’s because technology—specifically the technology employed by the government against the American citizenry—has upped the stakes dramatically so that there’s little we do that is not known by the government.

In such an environment, you’re either a paragon of virtue, or you’re a criminal.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, we’re all criminals. This is the creepy, calculating yet diabolical genius of the American police state: the very technology we hailed as revolutionary and liberating has become our prison, jailer, probation officer, Big Brother and Father Knows Best all rolled into one.

Consider that on any given day, the average American going about his daily business will be monitored, surveilled, spied on and tracked in more than 20 different ways, by both government and corporate eyes and ears. A byproduct of this new age in which we live, whether you’re walking through a store, driving your car, checking email, or talking to friends and family on the phone, you can be sure that some government agency, whether the NSA or some other entity, is listening in and tracking your behavior. As I point out in my book, A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, this doesn’t even begin to touch on the corporate trackers that monitor your purchases, web browsing, Facebook posts and other activities taking place in the cyber sphere.

http://www.activistpost.com/2015/02/all-creepy-ways-big-brother-is-watching.html

Obama Immigration Policy Halted by Federal Judge in Texas

A federal judge in Texas has ordered a halt, at least temporarily, to President Obama’s executive actions on immigration, siding with Texas and 25 other states that filed a lawsuit opposing the initiatives.

In an order filed on Monday, the judge, Andrew S. Hanen of Federal District Court for the Southern District of Texas, in Brownsville, prohibited the Obama administration from carrying out programs the president announced on Nov. 20 that would offer protection from deportation and work permits to as many as five million undocumented immigrants.

The first of those programs was scheduled to start receiving applications on Wednesday. The immediate impact of the ruling is that up to 270,000 undocumented immigrants nationwide who came to the United States as children will not be able to apply for deportation protection under an expansion of an existing executive program. A larger new program is scheduled to begin in May.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/18/us/obama-immigration-policy-halted-by-federal-judge-in-texas.html

MK-Ultra & CIA Covert Ops - Infowars Special Report

Monday, February 16, 2015

How “omnipotent” hackers tied to NSA hid for 14 years—and were found at last

"Equation Group" ran the most advanced hacking operation ever uncovered.

In 2009, one or more prestigious researchers received a CD by mail that contained pictures and other materials from a recent scientific conference they attended in Houston. The scientists didn't know it then, but the disc also delivered a malicious payload developed by a highly advanced hacking operation that had been active since at least 2001. The CD, it seems, was tampered with on its way through the mail.

It wasn't the first time the operators—dubbed the "Equation Group" by researchers from Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab—had secretly intercepted a package in transit, booby-trapped its contents, and sent it to its intended destination. In 2002 or 2003, Equation Group members did something similar with an Oracle database installation CD in order to infect a different target with malware from the group's extensive library. (Kaspersky settled on the name Equation Group because of members' strong affinity for encryption algorithms, advanced obfuscation methods, and sophisticated techniques.)

Kaspersky researchers have documented 500 infections by Equation Group in at least 42 countries, with Iran, Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Syria, and Mali topping the list. Because of a self-destruct mechanism built into the malware, the researchers suspect that this is just a tiny percentage of the total; the actual number of victims likely reaches into the tens of thousands.

http://arstechnica.com/security/2015/02/how-omnipotent-hackers-tied-to-the-nsa-hid-for-14-years-and-were-found-at-last/

Russian researchers expose breakthrough U.S. spying program

The U.S. National Security Agency has figured out how to hide spying software deep within hard drives made by Western Digital, Seagate, Toshiba and other top manufacturers, giving the agency the means to eavesdrop on the majority of the world's computers, according to cyber researchers and former operatives.

That long-sought and closely guarded ability was part of a cluster of spying programs discovered by Kaspersky Lab, the Moscow-based security software maker that has exposed a series of Western cyberespionage operations.

Kaspersky said it found personal computers in 30 countries infected with one or more of the spying programs, with the most infections seen in Iran, followed by Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Mali, Syria, Yemen and Algeria. The targets included government and military institutions, telecommunication companies, banks, energy companies, nuclear researchers, media, and Islamic activists, Kaspersky said.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/02/16/us-usa-cyberspying-idUSKBN0LK1QV20150216

Suite of Sophisticated Nation-State Attack Tools Found With Connection to Stuxnet

The last two years have been filled with revelations about NSA surveillance activities and the sophisticated spy tools the agency uses to take control of everything from individual systems to entire networks. Now it looks like researchers at Kaspersky Lab may have uncovered some of these NSA tools in the wild on customer machines, providing an extensive new look at the spy agency’s technical capabilities. Among the tools uncovered is a worm that appears to have direct connections to Stuxnet, the digital weapon that was launched repeatedly against centrifuges in Iran beginning in late 2007 in order to sabotage them. In fact, researchers say the newly uncovered worm may have served as a kind of test run for Stuxnet, allowing the attackers to map a way to targeted machines in Iran that were air-gapped from the internet.

For nearly a year, the researchers have been gradually collecting components that belong to several highly sophisticated digital spy platforms that they say have been in use and development since 2001, possibly even as early as 1996, based on when some command servers for the malware were registered. They say the suite of surveillance platforms, which they call EquationLaser, EquationDrug and GrayFish, make this the most complex and sophisticated spy system uncovered to date, surpassing even the recently exposed Regin platform believed to have been created by Britain’s GCHQ spy agency and used to infiltrate computers belonging to the European Union and a Belgian telecom called Belgacom, among others.

The new platforms, which appear to have been developed in succession with each one surpassing the previous in sophistication, can give the attackers complete and persistent control of infected systems for years, allowing them to siphon data and monitor activities while using complex encryption schemes and other sophisticated methods to avoid detection. The platforms also include an innovative module, the likes of which Kaspersky has never seen before, that re-flashes or reprograms a hard drive’s firmware with malicious code to turn the computer into a slave of the attackers. The researchers, who gave WIRED an advance look at their findings and spoke about them today at the Kaspersky Security Analyst Summit in Mexico, have dubbed the attackers the Equation Group and consider them “the most advanced threat actor” they’ve seen to date.

http://www.wired.com/2015/02/kapersky-discovers-equation-group/

Obama Betrayal: Effort to Snatch $10 Billion From Veterans

President Obama and the Veterans Administration bureaucracy are already sabotaging the VA reform law passed in August. The ink is barely dry on the 8.6 million "Choice Cards" that supposedly allow vets to see a doctor outside the delay-plagued system.

Obama’s budget tries to snatch the $10 billion allocated for the Choice program and allow it to be spent however VA top administrators want. It’s a sickening betrayal.

Even worse, VA secretary Robert McDonald is telling federal lawmakers that this underhanded move will better serve "VA system priorities." That’s the problem. He’s more interested in protecting "the system" than vets. It’s all about bureaucratic turf and union jobs.

With a straight face, McDonald says it has " nothing to do with us trying to gut the Choice Card or anything like that; it was about flexibility." Flexibility for VA bureaucrats, not for ailing vets who need it. Removing the funding definitely will gut the program because the law says the Choice program expires whenever funding runs out.

http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/healthcare-veterans-va-health/2015/02/15/id/624871/

SHADOW PRISONS

The U.S. government has quietly created a second-class federal prison system specifically for immigrants. For years the Department of Homeland Security has been known as the agency that houses immigrants awaiting deportation. However, tens of thousands of additional immigrants, most serving sentences for immigration crimes, are held by the Bureau of Prisons each night before being sent back.

And it’s all part of a lucrative business model which has funneled billions of taxpayer dollars into the private prison industry.

A Fusion investigation found that without a single vote in Congress, officials across three administrations: created a new classification of federal prisons only for immigrants; decided that private companies would run the facilities; and filled them by changing immigration enforcement practices.

"You build a prison, and then you've got to find someone to put in them,” said Texas state Sen. John Whitmire, who has seen five of the 13 Criminal Alien Requirement (CAR) prisons built in his state. “So they widen the net and find additional undocumented folks to fill them up"

http://interactive.fusion.net/shadow-prisons/index.html

Sunday, February 15, 2015

How Science Died at the World Trade Center

Throughout its seven-year investigation, NIST ignored the obvious hypothesis for the destruction of the WTC buildings—demolition. That evidence includes:

*Free-fall or near-free fall acceleration of all three buildings (now acknowledged by NIST for WTC 7)

*Photographic and video evidence demonstrating the characteristics of demolition for both the Twin Towers and WTC 7

*Eyewitness testimony from many people at the scene who witnessed explosions or were warned that a demolition was proceeding
The expert testimony of thousands of licensed engineers and architects who are calling for a new investigation

*The peer-reviewed science that supports the demolition theory including fourteen points of agreement between NIST and independent researchers, environmental anomalies that indicate the use of thermitic materials, and analytical results confirming the presence of nanothermite in the WTC dust

The WTC reports produced by NIST represent the most obvious example of politically motivated pseudoscience in history. The physical experiments NIST performed did not support its conclusions. The reports were not peer-reviewed and public comments that challenged the findings were ignored. NIST will not share its computer models—the last supposed evidence that supports its conclusions—with the public and therefore its conclusions are not verifiable.

These glaring facts should be readily recognizable by any scientist and, given the unprecedented impact of the resulting War on Terror, this abuse of science should be the basis for a global outcry from the scientific community. The fact that it is not—with even Oreskes and Conway ignoring this most obvious example—indicates that many scientists today still cannot recognize false science or cannot speak out about it for fear of social stigma. It’s possible that our society has not suffered enough to compel scientists to move out of their comfort zones and challenge such exploitation of their profession. If so, the abuse of science for political and commercial purposes will only get worse.

http://911blogger.com/news/2015-02-15/how-science-died-world-trade-center-0

http://digwithin.net/2015/02/15/science-died-wtc/

CIA could be funding geo-engineering research in pursuit of weaponising the weather, scientists claims

A senior American climate scientist has spoken of the fear he experienced when US intelligence services apparently asked him about the possibility of weaponising the weather as a major report on geo-engineering is to be published this week.

Professor Alan Robock stated that three years ago, two men claiming to be from the CIA had called him to ask whether experts would be able to tell if hostile forces had begun manipulating the US’s weather, though he suspected the purpose of the call was to find out if American forces could meddle with other countries’ climates instead.

Professor Robock’s concerns come as a major report on geo-engineering is to be published this week by the US National Academy of Sciences. Among the report’s list of sponsors is the “US intelligence community", which includes Nasa, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the US Department of Energy.

The professor alleges that the CIA told a colleague of his that it wanted to fund the report, but claimed that it did not want this fact to be too obvious – he added that the CIA is “a major funder” of the report which “makes me really worried about who is going to be in control”.

He claimed the US government had a proven history of using the weather in a hostile way, citing the action of seeding clouds during the Vietnam War to muddy the Ho Chi Minh foot-trail and attempt to cut it off, as it was used as a supply route but the north Vietnamese.

He claimed the CIA had also seeded clouds over Cuba “to make it rain and ruin the sugar harvest”.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/spy-agencies-could-be-funding-geoengineering-research-in-pursuit-of-weaponising-the-weather-scientists-claims-10047544.html

NeoFace: How Anonymous Are We To Big Brother Police Agencies?

In July 2014 it was reported that Leicestershire Police began trialling a facial recognition system in April earlier that year.

One of the first polices forces in Britain to do so according to Chief Inspector Chris Cockerill, “We’re very proud to be the first UK Police force to evaluate this new system.”

The biometric system, called NeoFace, was being trialled for six months taking images of members of the public captured from video and photographs taken from CCTV, police body-worn video, digital cameras or even smartphones (according to the police’s own industry publication The Police Oracle), then checking the facial images with NeoFace biometric software to see if there was a match to any of the 92,000 facial images Leicestershire Police held on their Custody Image Management (CIM) System. 92,000 facial images of arrestees, some of which were not guilty of any crime.

This ground breaking use facial recognition by a police force largely went unnoticed by the general public. It was not clear exactly what this facial recognition system was/is capable of.

http://21stcenturywire.com/2015/02/15/neoface-how-anonymous-are-we-to-big-brother-police-agencies/

Saturday, February 14, 2015

US escalating ‘secret war’ in Afghanistan

US Special Forces soldiers and their Afghan allies have undertaken an increasing number of night raids targeting Taliban and al Qaeda militants, despite Washington formally declaring an end to combat operations late last year, according to a published report.

The New York Times reports that the increased raids are partially the result of intelligence seized in October of last year, when US and Afghan commandos came upon a laptop computer with files detailing terror operations in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan. Military officials tell the paper that the information in the files could be as significant as what was found on a computer in Osama bin Laden’s Pakistan compound after the terror leader was killed by Navy SEALs in 2011.

http://nypost.com/2015/02/13/us-escalating-secret-war-in-afghanistan/

NSA Braced for New Leaks

The National Security Agency, still reeling from massive leaks caused by Edward Snowden, is preparing to be hit with another major loss of secrets, according to U.S. intelligence officials.

The leaks are expected to be published in the near future by a news outlet that was not further identified by the officials familiar with details of the compromise. The NSA is aware of the news outlet’s forthcoming disclosures and is taking steps to try and minimize any damage they will cause.

According to the officials, the latest NSA disclosure of secrets is not the result of an insider stealing documents, as occurred in the case of fugitive NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Instead, the leaks will reveal certain NSA technical cyber intelligence gathering capabilities. The officials did not provide details about the leaks.

Certain techniques used by the NSA in cyber operations became known to technicians at a non-U.S. cyber security firm operating from Mexico. The company then contacted a news outlet with the details it uncovered.

A report detailing the breach could be made public as early as this weekend.

http://freebeacon.com/national-security/nsa-braced-for-new-leaks/

Friday, February 13, 2015

Patriot Act 2: Obama Executive Order Will Promote Sharing Of Confidential Information With Corporations

In the aftermath of the Snowden whistleblowing scandal which has now all but been forgotten, there was a brief period when it seemed the growth of the US spying apparatus would be halted if not put into reverse. Those days are long forgotten and later today Obama is expected to to sign an executive order "that aims to make it easier for the government to share classified cyberthreat information with companies."

The spin, as proposed by the WSJ, is that "this will be effort designed to spur collaboration and deter hackers, the White House said." In reality what Obama's latest executive order will do, is expand the universe of entities that has access to the trove of private confidential data contained in the vast government spying apparatus, which as has been made all too clear now focuses as much on US citizens as it does on legitimate foreign threats, and further eviscerate the concept of individual privacy in the US.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-02-13/patriot-act-2-obama-executive-order-will-promote-sharing-confidential-information-co

Go to Prison for File Sharing? That's What Hollywood Wants in the Secret TPP Deal

The Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP) poses massive threats to users in a dizzying number of ways. It will force other TPP signatories to accept the United States' excessive copyright terms of a minimum of life of the author plus 70 years, while locking the US to the same lengths so it will be harder to shorten them in the future. It contains DRM anti-circumvention provisions that will make it a crime to tinker with, hack, re-sell, preserve, and otherwise control any number of digital files and devices that you own. The TPP will encourage ISPs to monitor and police their users, likely leading to more censorship measures such as the blockage and filtering of content online in the name of copyright enforcement. And in the most recent leak of the TPP's Intellectual Property chapter, we found an even more alarming provision on trade secrets that could be used to crackdown on journalists and whistleblowers who report on corporate wrongdoing.

Here, we'd like to explore yet another set of rules in TPP that will chill users' rights. Those are the criminal enforcement provisions, which based upon the latest leak from May 2014 is still a contested and unresolved issue. It's about whether users could be jailed or hit with debilitating fines over allegations of copyright infringement.

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2015/02/go-prison-sharing-files-thats-what-hollywood-wants-secret-tpp-deal

Thursday, February 12, 2015

USPS OIG begins detailed mail cover audit

Postal Inspection Service Mail Covers Program Phase 2

A mail cover is an investigative tool used to record data appearing on the outside of a mailpiece. Law enforcement agencies use this information to protect national security; locate fugitives; obtain evidence; or help identify property, proceeds, or assets forfeitable under criminal law.

Code of Federal Regulations, Title 39 – Postal Service, section § 233.3 is the law that gives the Postal Service the authority to grant a mail cover. The regulation directs the chief postal inspector to maintain rigid control and supervision with respect to the use of mail covers. Only Postal Service personnel are authorized to record information relevant to mail covers and this information is disclosed at the direction of the Postal Inspection Service.

In our prior audit of the Inspection Service Mail Covers Program, we found responsible personnel did not always handle and process mail cover requests from external law enforcement agencies in a timely manner and external law enforcement agencies did not always return documents relating to the covers on time. The objective of our current project is to assess controls over the management of the Postal Inspection Service’s mail covers requested by Postal Service inspectors. Specifically, we will assess whether personnel:

• Handled and processed mail covers timely.
• Returned accountable items.
• Safeguarded mail cover information.

Additionally, we will assess the impact of reporting mail cover statistics to the public. We will also review the status of recommendations made in our prior mail covers report.

https://www.uspsoig.gov/audit-project/15rg009hr000

Citizenfour, Poitras, Greenwald, Snowden, New York Times Media Columnist David Carr

Just hours before his sudden death, New York Times media columnist David Carr hosted a TimesTalk interview with Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and, via satellite, Edward Snowden about their Oscar nominated documentary Citizenfour.

http://www.mediaite.com/online/watch-david-carrs-final-interview-with-glenn-greenwald-edward-snowden/

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/13/business/media/david-carr-media-equation-columnist-for-the-times-is-dead-at-58.html


U.S. DROPS TO 49TH IN WORLD PRESS FREEDOM RANKINGS, WORST SINCE OBAMA BECAME PRESIDENT

Each year, Reporters Without Borders issues a worldwide ranking of nations based on the extent to which they protect or abridge press freedom. The group’s 2015 ranking was released this morning, and the United States is ranked 49th.

That is the lowest ranking ever during the Obama presidency, and the second-lowest ranking for the U.S. since the rankings began in 2002 (in 2006, under Bush, the U.S. was ranked 53rd). The countries immediately ahead of the U.S. are Malta, Niger, Burkino Faso, El Salvador, Tonga, Chile and Botswana.

https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/02/12/u-s-drops-49th-world-press-freedom-rankings-second-lowest-ever/

Jewel v. NSA: Making Sense of a Disappointing Decision Over Mass Surveillance

Yesterday marked a frustrating juncture in EFF’s long-running lawsuit against mass surveillance, Jewel v. NSA, filed on behalf of AT&T customers whose communications and telephone records are being vacuumed by the National Security Agency.

A federal court in San Francisco sided with the U.S. Department of Justice, ruling that the plaintiffs could not win a significant portion of the case—a Fourth Amendment challenge to the NSA’s tapping of the Internet backbone—without disclosure of classified information that would harm national security. In other words, Judge Jeffrey White found that “state secrets” can trump the judicial process and held that EFF’s clients could not prove they have standing.

To be perfectly clear: this decision does not end EFF’s case. The judge did not find that it is legal for the NSA to tap into the Internet backbone. Nor does the ruling apply to the portion of case that covers the NSA’s capture of telephone records on a massive scale. EFF will continue to fight in court, both in Jewel, as well as our two other ongoing lawsuits challenging NSA surveillance.

We disagree with the court’s decision and it will not be the last word on the constitutionality of the government’s mass surveillance of the communications of ordinary Americans.

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2015/02/jewel-v-nsa-making-sense-disappointing-decision-over-mass-surveillance

NSA Spy Program So Secret Judge Can't Explain Why It Can't Be Challenged

A federal judge ruled in favor of the National Security Agency in a key surveillance case on Tuesday, dismissing a challenge which claimed the government's spying operations were groundless and unconstitutional.

Filed in 2008 by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the lawsuit, Jewel v. NSA, aimed to end the agency's unwarranted surveillance of U.S. citizens, which the consumer advocacy group said violated the 4th Amendment.

The lawsuit also implicated AT&T in the operations, alleging that the phone company "routed copies of Internet traffic to a secret room in San Francisco controlled by the NSA." That charge was based off of a 2006 document leak by former AT&T technician and whistleblower Mark Klein, who disclosed a collection program between the company and the NSA that sent AT&T user metadata to the intelligence agency.

US District Judge Jeffrey White on Tuesday denied a partial summary judgment motion to the EFF and granted a cross-motion to the government, dismissing the case without a trial. In his order, White said the plaintiff, Carolyn Jewel, an AT&T customer, was unable to prove she was being targeted for surveillance—and that if she could, "any possible defenses would require impermissible disclosure of state secret information."



http://www.commondreams.org/news/2015/02/11/nsa-spy-program-so-secret-judge-cant-explain-why-it-cant-be-challenged

This Is How HSBC Celebrates 150 Years of Banking Crime & Corruption: Happy Birthday

I’d like to begin with one of the most ignominious – and hence most forgotten – episodes of British colonial history: the Opium Wars against China.

In the mid 19th century the British economy was close to bankruptcy, thanks mainly to its massive trade deficit with China. Put simply, the British couldn’t stop drinking Chinese-produced tea while the Chinese government had no interest in importing anything from Britain. The Manchu emperors believed that the Middle Kingdom already possessed everything worth having, and hence needed no barbarian manufactures. All they wanted was silver, of which the British were fast running out.

What the British did, through its East India Company, one of the world’s largest-ever monopolies, was to flood the Chinese market with the one product the Chinese couldn’t resist and which just happened to be cultivated across vast swaths of British-ruled India: opium. So doing, the British East India Company became the largest-ever drug trafficker in recorded history.

When opium addiction became a national pastime in China, the government tried to ban consumption of the drug, but to no avail. Demand just kept growing, and with it supply. Eventually the Chinese began targeting the trade at its source, seizing shipments from British ships as they docked in ports such as Canton. The British response was to hit back with the full force of its world-leading navy. So began the Opium Wars and China’s Century of Humiliation.

http://wolfstreet.com/2015/02/11/this-is-how-hsbc-celebrates-150-years-of-banking-crime-corruption-happy-birthday/

Government wonders: What’s in your old emails?

If you’ve been remiss in cleaning out your email in-box, here’s some incentive: The federal government can read any emails that are more than six months old without a warrant.

Little known to most Americans, ambiguous language in a communications law passed in 1986 extends Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure only to electronic communications sent or received fewer than 180 days ago.

The language, known as the “180-day rule,” allows government officials to treat any emails, text messages or documents stored on remote servers – popularly known as the cloud – as “abandoned” and therefore accessible using administrative subpoena power, a tactic that critics say circumvents due process.

As you rush to purge your Gmail and Dropbox accounts, however, be forewarned that even deleted files still could be fair game as long as copies exist on a third-party server somewhere.

The Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 was written at a time when most people did not have email accounts, said Republican Rep. Kevin Yoder of Kansas, who is leading efforts in the House of Representatives to update the law.

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2015/02/11/256304/government-wonders-whats-in-your.html

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Cool or creepy? US launches high-tech defence blimp amid privacy concerns

On a crisp winter's day, a tethered blimp almost as big as a football field slowly rises into the blue Maryland sky, casting its radar eye over greater Washington and well beyond.

The Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Elevated Netted Sensor System, better known as JLENS, is intended to spot low-flying cruise missiles amid thousands of aircraft in this corner of the US east coast.

"This balloon is a radar that covers, oh, (a radius of) 300 miles (485 kilometers) — about the size of Texas — to allow us to see threats at a further distance out," said Colonel Frank Rice, commander of air defense operations for the US capital region.

"It provides a downward-looking view and integrates into a much larger air defense system," Rice told AFP as the blimp began to soar 10,000 feet (3,300 meters) above this military test site 50 miles (80 kilometers) northeast of Washington, where JLENS is undergoing a three-year trial.

Not everyone is happy with the bulbous unmarked white helium-filled blimp with a tumor-like radome on its belly, tied to Earth by a single Kevlar-like cable barely more than an inch (2.5 centimeters) thick.

On social media, local residents have wondered aloud if the aerostat — the correct name for a tethered airship — isn't Big Brother invading their privacy with its electronic 360-degree sweep.

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/tech-gadgets/article/cool-or-creepy-us-launches-high-tech-defence-blimp-amid-privacy-concerns

U.S. Navy censures three admirals in bribery scandal

The officers reprimanded were Rear Admiral Michael Miller, currently a special assistant to the superintendent of the US Naval Academy; Rear Admiral Terry Kraft, commander of US naval forces in Japan, and Rear Admiral David Pimpo, commander of Naval Supply Systems Command.

All three were punished for their conduct while assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan.

The corruption scandal has shaken the American navy, with several officers pleading guilty and another arrested this month in the case.

The Malaysian contractor at the center of the scandal pleaded guilty to fraud charges last month, admitting to bribing officials with cash, prostitutes, Cuban cigars and Kobe beef.

Known as "Fat Leonard," 50-year-old Leonard Francis of Singapore-based Glenn Defense Marine Asia confirmed that he presided over a decade-long scheme involving tens of millions of dollars in bribes, prosecutors said.

http://www.digitaljournal.com/news/world/us-navy-censures-three-admirals-in-bribery-scandal/article/425772

How the Bush family made it's money promoting Adolf Hitler and the Nazi war machine

Webster Tarpley on Guns and Butter with Bonnie Faulkner - February 4, 2015

Via Blogdog

TSA Demands Internal Passport for Domestic Travel

Precedents exist for requiring citizens to produce special ID for domestic travel; they include Nazi Germany, apartheid South Africa and Russia (both Imperial and Soviet).

Over the Christmas season, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) quietly announced that America was walking down that path. By 2016, all domestic air travel will require either a traditional passport or a federally-compliant ID card called "Real ID." State driver's licenses will no longer allow Americans access to domestic flights, as they do now. Real ID will constitute an internal passport. (The drop-date date is commonly reported as January.)

An internal passport refers to an identity document that people must produce to move from place to place within national borders. It allows a government to monitor the movement of its own people and to control that movement by granting or denying ID. In the past, governments have used internal passports to isolate 'undesirables', to regulate economic opportunities, to reap personal data, to intimidate and command obedience, and to segregate categories of people (like Jews) for political purposes. It allows a government to bind anyone it chooses to his or her place of birth.

The upcoming Real ID requirement targets only air travel. But that's how it begins - with airports.

After people became numb to years of ID demands, questioning and searches at airports, those tactics spread to train stations and subways. Then highway check-points were established in areas that lay within 100 miles from an "external boundary," including coasts. U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents now have the authority to stop a traveller if they have "reasonable suspicion" of an immigration violation or other crime. Although the agents do not currently have authority to demand ID from American citizens, they often do so.

http://safehaven.com/article/36645/tsa-demands-internal-passport-for-domestic-travel

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Brian Williams Suspended From NBC for 6 Months Without Pay

Brian Williams, the embattled NBC news anchor whose credibility plummeted after he acknowledged exaggerating his role in a helicopter episode in Iraq, has been suspended for six months without pay, the network said on Tuesday night.

“This was wrong and completely inappropriate for someone in Brian’s position,” Deborah Turness, the president of NBC News, said in a memo. Lester Holt, who stepped in for Mr. Williams this week, will continue as the substitute, the network said.

The suspension culminated a rapid and startling fall for Mr. Williams, who at age 55 was not only the head of the No. 1 evening news show, but also one of NBC’s biggest stars, a frequent celebrity guest on “Saturday Night Live,” “30 Rock” and the late-night talk show circuit.


Mr. Williams has been drawing 9.3 million viewers a night, and his position seemed unassailable. Even as the stature of the nightly newscast faded in the face of real-time digital news, Mr. Williams was one of the most trusted names in America and commanded the respect accorded predecessors like Walter Cronkite, Tom Brokaw and Peter Jennings.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/11/business/media/brian-williams-suspended-by-nbc-news-for-six-months.html

Terrorist Claims Return Sept. 11 Suit to Spotlight

By JAMES RISEN

Ron Motley could have come straight out of a John Grisham novel, a charismatic Southern trial lawyer with the swagger of a man who had bet big in life and usually won.

He rose to wealth and fame by vanquishing one seemingly unbeatable legal foe after another — first the asbestos industry, then Big Tobacco. Finally, he focused on what was arguably his toughest target of all: Saudi Arabia, which he saw as helping finance the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

In 2002, Mr. Motley sued in federal court on behalf of the families of Sept. 11 victims against the government of Saudi Arabia and the Saudi elite, including banks, charities and even members of the royal family, accusing them of financing Al Qaeda. But the lawsuit, which lacked a smoking gun proving Saudi complicity, became mired in endless procedural delays, and Mr. Motley, its original champion, died in 2013.


Last week, though, the case drew headlines when lawyers for the families disclosed that Zacarias Moussaoui, a former Qaeda operative now in federal prison, had told them that members of Saudi Arabia’s royal family had been major donors to the terrorist organization in the late 1990s.

While those claims were quickly challenged by some foreign policy experts and rejected by Saudi officials, the assertions helped bring the once-simmering issue of possible Saudi involvement in the 9/11 attacks back into public view and renewed awareness of the lawsuit, which has occupied the federal court docket for almost the entire 21st century.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/11/world/middleeast/terrorists-claims-about-saudis-put-9-11-families-lawsuit-back-in-spotlight.html