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You can’t say you weren’t warned. The writing on the wall that “smart devices” would prove to be manna from heaven for spy agencies and hackers around the word has been obvious for a very long time.
A year ago, I published two articles on this topic. The first highlighted the revelation that Samsung’s Smart TV can and will listen to your conversations, and will share the details with a third party. The second had to do with the release of a high-tech Barbie that will listen to your child, record its words, send them over the internet for processing. If you missed these posts the first time around, I suggest you get up to speed:
Moving along to today’s article, we learn that the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, admitted that the government intends to use the “Internet of Things” for spying on the public. As Trevor Timm of the Guardian notes:
H/t reader M.G.:
“If this were even remotely a nation of law, this SOB would be in prison………………..”
The United States’ top intelligence official said Thursday that he’s disappointed to continuously have his integrity disputed over an unsound remark he made before Congress more than a year ago concerning the National Security Agency’s spy tactics.
Eighteen months after he told lawmakers that the NSA does “not wittingly” collect and store data pertaining to US citizens, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said during an event Thursday morning in Washington, DC that he still takes heat for his infamous answer.
The gaffe in question occurred when Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) asked DNI Clapper during an intelligence hearing in March 2013 if American citizens are immune to surveillance programs undertaken by the NSA. Although Clapper responded “not wittingly,” classified documents leaked to the media by former contractor Edward Snowden later that year proved that Americans’ communications are indeed collected by the NSA.
“It has been very disappointing to have my integrity questioned because of a mistake,” Clapper said during an event on Thursday, according to the Associated Press.
Dan Froomkin, a reporter for The Intercept, tweeted that Clapper complained “bitterly” of being “accused of lying.”
– Admitted Liar Claims Russia Is Shooting Artillery Into Ukraine (Washington’s Blog, July 27, 2014):
Should We Believe a Known Liar?
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper is an known liar:
- The author of the Patriot Act and former chairman of the House Judiciary Committee – Congressman James Sensenbrenner – says that Clapper should be prosecuted for lying to Congress and the American people about NSA spying
- One of the co-chairs of the 9/11 Commission – Lee Hamilton – agrees
- As does Congressman Tom McClintock
- 7 members of the House Judiciary Committee (Sensenbrenner, Issa, Franks, Farenthold, Gowdy, Labrador and Poe ) have asked the Department of Justice to investigate Clapper for perjury
- Senator Rand Paul says that Clapper’s crimes have hurt America far more than Snowden’s
One of the nation’s top military and constitutional law experts – Professor Jonathan Turley – writes:
– Patriot Act Author Prepares Strong Bill to Rein in NSA Abuses…Calls for Prosecution of James Clapper (Liberty Blitzkrieg, Oct 11, 2013):
In an interesting twist of irony, one of the Congressman most instrumental in the destruction of civil liberties in these United States due to his authorship of the Patriot Act, Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.), is now leading the charge to rein in NSA abuses. His disgust with the NSA became clear back in early June when he wrote an impassioned letter to Attorney General Eric Holder criticizing the illegal NSA activity happening behind the scenes. The key point here is that Mr. Sensenbrenner strongly believes that these guys are misinterpreting the legislation he wrote to justify everything they are doing. As such, he and others are proposing legislation to make it crystal clear what is and what is not appropriate surveillance.
Not only that, he is also calling for the prosecution of James Clapper the current Director of National Intelligence, who perjured himself in front of Congress earlier this year. Mr. Sensnbrenner said:
Oversight only works when the agency that oversight is directed at tells the truth, and having Mr Clapper say he gave the least untruthful answer should, in my opinion, have resulted in a firing and a prosecution.
This guy means business.
More from the Guardian:
The conservative Republican who co-authored America’s Patriot Act is preparing to unveil bipartisan legislation that would dramatically curtail the domestic surveillance powers it gives to intelligence agencies.
Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, who worked with president George W Bush to give more power to US intelligence agencies after the September 11 terrorist attacks, said the intelligence community had misused those powers by collecting telephone records on all Americans, and claimed it was time “to put their metadata program out of business”.
– NSA Chief Admits “Only One or Perhaps Two” Terror Plots Stopped by Spy Program (Liberty Blitzkrieg, Oct 3, 2013):
Pressed by the Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee at an oversight hearing, Gen. Keith B. Alexander admitted that the number of terrorist plots foiled by the NSA’s huge database of every phone call made in or to America was only one or perhaps two — far smaller than the 54 originally claimed by the administration.
– From Today’s Washington Times
“One or perhaps two.” Or perhaps zero. The guy has the nerve to say “perhaps.” How do you not know? What a bunch of lying assholes. How the heck does 54 turn into “one or two,” and I’ll tell you something else, I don’t believe the one or two figure for a minute. I mean there’s no way he would say “zero” when he is fighting to keep his petty little Stasi state intact. Furthermore, how about some details here. What was the one plot the NSA foiled? Some teenager throwing firecrackers on the White House lawn? These guys need to get lost already.
From the Washington Times:
The Obama administration’s credibility on intelligence suffered another blow Wednesday as the chief of the National Security Agency admitted that officials put out numbers that vastly overstated the counterterrorism successes of the government’s warrantless bulk collection of all Americans’ phone records.
– In Test Project, N.S.A. Tracked Cellphone Locations (New York Times, Oct 2, 2013):
WASHINGTON — The National Security Agency conducted a secret pilot project in 2010 and 2011 to test the collection of bulk data about the location of Americans’ cellphones, but the agency never moved ahead with such a program, according to intelligence officials.
The existence of the pilot project was reported on Wednesday morning by The New York Times and later confirmed by James R. Clapper, the director of national intelligence, at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. The project used data from cellphone towers to locate people’s cellphones.
And as you can see, the U.S. government told the Washington Post what to print and what not.
Another important & transparent leak you can believe in.
What real NSA whistleblower would trust the Washington Post anyway???
“There is no such thing, at this date of the world’s history, in America, as an independent press. You know it and I know it. There is not one of you who dares to write your honest opinions, and if you did, you know beforehand that it would never appear in print. I am paid weekly for keeping my honest opinion out of the paper I am connected with. Others of you are paid similar weekly salaries for similar things, and any of you who would be so foolish as to write honest opinions would be out on the streets looking for another job. If I allowed my honest opinions to appear in one issue of my paper, before twenty-four hours my occupation would be gone. The business of the journalists is to destroy the truth; to lie outright; to pervert; to vilify; to fawn at the feet of mammon, and to sell his country and his race for his daily bread. You know it and I know it, and what folly is this toasting an independent press? We are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities, and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes.”
– John Swinton, former New York Times Chief of Staff
– New Snowden Leak Reports ‘Groundbreaking’ NSA Crypto-Cracking (Wired, Aug 29, 2013):
The latest published leak from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden lays bare classified details of the U.S. government’s $52.6 billion intelligence budget, and makes the first reference in any of the Snowden documents to a “groundbreaking” U.S. encryption-breaking effort targeted squarely at internet traffic.
Snowden, currently living in Russia under a one-year grant of asylum, passed The Washington Post the 178-page intelligence community budget request for fiscal year 2013. Among the surprises reported by Post writers Barton Gellman and Greg Miller is that the CIA receives more money than the NSA: $14.7 billion for the CIA, versus $10.8 billion for the NSA. Until this morning it’s generally been believed that the geeky NSA, with its basements full of supercomputers, dwarfed its human-oriented counterparts.
The Post published only 43 pages from the document, consisting of charts, tables and a 5-page summary written by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. The Post said it withheld the rest, and kept some information out of its reporting, in consultation with the Obama administration to protect U.S. intelligence sources and methods.
– The White House credibility deficit (Guardian, Aug 18, 2013):
According to Britons, Americans are incapable of irony – and our president is certainly proving their point.In his address about Egypt’s military coup – or whatever bowdlerizing euphemism is permitted this week in Washington – Obama condemned the notion that “security trumps individual freedom.” Really?
After his press conference announcing an oversight commission for the NSA, it emerged that the NSA’s truth-challenged director of national intelligence, James Clapper, would apparently oversee the oversight. The White House had to explain the joke, and then said Clapper would merely facilitate.
– Meet the NSA’s “Fat Finger” (Liberty Blitzkrieg, Aug 16, 2013):
James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, has acknowledged that the court found the NSA in breach of the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures, but the Obama administration has fought a Freedom of Information lawsuit that seeks the opinion.
Generally, the NSA reveals nothing in public about its errors and infractions. The unclassified versions of the administration’s semiannual reports to Congress feature blacked-out pages under the headline “Statistical Data Relating to Compliance Incidents.”
From the Washington Post’s groundbreaking article from last evening
For those of you not familiar with Wall Street lingo, people in the financial industry refer to an outsized move in the markets resulting from a human error as a “fat finger,” ie someone pressed the wrong key when placing an order. Unfortunately for us all, it appears the NSA has a surveillance fat finger. Who would’ve guessed it!
– The NSA’s “Boundless Informant” Collects 3 Billion Intelligence Pieces From US Computer Networks In One Month (ZeroHedge, June 8, 2013):
There’s one reason why the administration, James Clapper and the NSA should just keep their mouths shut as the PRISM-gate fallout escalates: with every incremental attempt to refute some previously unknown facet of the US Big Brother state, a new piece of previously unleaked information from the same intelligence organization now scrambling for damage control, emerges and exposes the brand new narrative as yet another lie, forcing even more lies, more retribution against sources, more journalist persecution and so on.The latest piece of news once again comes from the Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald who this time exposes the NSA’s datamining tool “Boundless Informant” which according to leaked documents collected 97 billion pieces of intelligence from computer networks worldwide in March 2013 alone, and “3 billion pieces of intelligence from US computer networks over a 30-day period.”
This is summarized in the chart below which shows that only the middle east has more active NSA-espionage than the US. Also, Obama may not want to show Xi the activity heatmap for China, or else the whole “China is hacking us” script may promptly fall apart.
Using simple, non-AES 256 breaking math, 3 billion per month amounts to some 100 million intrusions into the US per day, or looked at from another perspective, just a little more than the “zero” which James Clapper vouched announced earlier today is the applicable number of US citizens falling under the NSA’s espionage mandate: “Section 702 cannot be used to intentionally target any U.S. citizen, or any other U.S. person, or to intentionally target any person known to be in the United States.” Oops.
But it gets worse for the NSA. As the Guardian reports, “Emmel, the NSA spokeswoman, told the Guardian: “Current technology simply does not permit us to positively identify all of the persons or locations associated with a given communication (for example, it may be possible to say with certainty that a communication traversed a particular path within the internet. It is harder to know the ultimate source or destination, or more particularly the identity of the person represented by the TO:, FROM: or CC: field of an e-mail address or the abstraction of an IP address). Thus, we apply rigorous training and technological advancements to combine both our automated and manual (human) processes to characterize communications – ensuring protection of the privacy rights of the American people. This is not just our judgment, but that of the relevant inspectors general, who have also reported this.”
In other words, Americans are absolutely the target of billions of monthly intrusions, but said data “mining” is exempted because it is difficult to identify in advance if a US citizen is implicated in any metadata chain.
Only it isn’t as it is the whole premise behind Boundless Informant.
– Al-Qaeda probably responsible Syrian suicide bombings, US spy chief (Telegraph, Feb. 17, 2012):
Al-Qaeda’s branch in Iraq likely carried out recent suicide bombings in Syria and has infiltrated opposition forces fighting President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, the US spy chief said last night.
Bombing attacks in Damascus and Aleppo since December “had all the earmarks of an al-Qaeda-like attack,” James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
“And so we believe al-Qaeda in Iraq is extending its reach into Syria,” he said.
His comments confirmed earlier reports that US officials suspected al-Qaeda’s hand in the bombings and follows a recent video message from al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in which he endorses the uprising against Assad’s rule.
Iraq’s deputy interior minister told AFP this month that al-Qaeda was moving guns and militants from Iraq into Syria.