Down the Hobbit Hole

November 19, 2013

897_512421508812805_1849277364_nRaining and cold this way-too-early Tuesday on California’s north coast, and the weather continues to match the season — up here, this state of the atmosphere is pretty normal, except with the equinox of crazy.

Nuts like the NSA — Google security engineer Brandon Downey didn’t mix words: “Fuck these guys.”
Even as the US Supreme Court pushed aside looking at the horror proliferating near-daily from our nation’s biggest spy network, more disclosures on just how shitty the NSA.

(Illustration found here).

Engineer Downey expressed his emotions after discovering the NSA had tapped Google’s private fiber links. On his personal blog, he also unleashed some not-very-nice literary digs:

But even though we suspected this was happening, it still makes me terribly sad.
It makes me sad because I believe in America.
Not in that flag-waving bullshit we’ve-got-our-big-trucks-and-bigger-tanks sort of way, but in the way that you can looked a good friend who has a lot of flaws, but every time you meet him, you think, “That guy still has some good ideas going on”.
But after spending all that time helping in my tiny way to protect Google — one of the greatest things to arise from the internet — seeing this, well, it’s just a little like coming home from War with Sauron, destroying the One Ring, only to discover the NSA is on the front porch of the Shire chopping down the Party Tree and outsourcing all the hobbit farmers with half-orcs and whips.
The US has to be better than this; but I guess in the interim, that security job is looking a lot more like a Sisyphus thing than ever.

The ‘Sisyphus thing‘ is from Greek mythology where this asshole is punished for “chronic deceitfulness.”
And yesterday, it was discovered the NSA notched another country — an Eddie Snowdon disclosure revealed that Norway now joins Germany, France, Spain, Brazil and India in being snooped up, which doesn’t include the millions of people in between.
According to The Local, a Norwegian English-language newspaper, the document was called “Norway – Last 30 days,” and it shows that nearly 32 million calls were snatched up by the NSA in the country last December through January 2013.
The Norwegians aren’t happy:

The NSA did not record the content of the 33 million Norwegian calls, but stored ‘meta data’, such as the length of the calls, the phone numbers of the caller and the call recipient, where the phone was located, and the serial numbers of the phones.
The head of Norway’s intelligence service, Lieutenant General Kjell Grandhagen, told Dagbladet that his agency had not collaborated with US to collect the data, and had been unaware that it was being collected.
According to Dagbladet, Norwegian phone companies NetCom and Telenor both deny giving the NSA access to their systems.
Torstein Olsen, head of Norway’s telecoms regulator, said that it was illegal for anyone apart from telecommunications companies to collect such data.
“If Dagbladet’s information is correct that 33 million mobile phone calls in Norway were registered by someone other than the telecommunication companies, that would be a crime under Norwegian law,” he said.
According to Bård Vegar Solhjell, a senior minister in Stoltenberg’s government, American officials claimed during meetings in June and July that there was no such illegal surveillance of Norwegians.
“They said that all intelligence was gathered within Norwegian law and American laws.
“We were given an assurance that there was no illegal surveillance of Norwegians,” he said.
Bjørn Erik Thon, the head of Norway’s data protection agency, said that even after nearly six months of the Snowden leaks, he was surprised.
“The number is very high: if ten percent of all calls in Norway are monitored, we cannot talk about targeted surveillance,” he said.
“It would not been been allowed even if it had been targeted, but it is even more serious when it goes to this extent.”

And, of course, this disclaimer: The US Embassy in Oslo refused to comment on the revelations: “When it comes to intelligence activity, we can not comment on individual cases. The United States collects intelligence overseas, as every nation does.”
Yeah, yeah, right.

Meanwhile, back on American soil, the Supreme Court turned down a petition from the Electronic Privacy Information Center for a direct review of a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court order authorizing the call-tracking program under the PATRIOT Act. There’s other court cases pending with the NSA’s fingerprints on them, so the issue might still make it.

Also last night, Jimmy Clapper released a court document which reflects the whole spying-on-you bullshit (via the Washington Post): The judge said the NSA could use two methods to search the data. One is “contact-chaining,” or using computer algorithms to identify all e-mail accounts that have been in contact with the suspect’s e-mail account, as well as all accounts that have been in contact with an account in that first tier of results. The second method was redacted.
Ah, the infamous “redacted” bullshit.
More from the Post:

The opinion signed by Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly permitted the NSA to gather in bulk information about e-mail and other forms of Internet communication such as e-mail addresses, but not the content.
Its true scope, however, was unclear.
Three pages describing the categories of “metadata” that the NSA proposed to collect were redacted.
Although the date was blacked out, the opinion appeared to be the order that placed the NSA’s Internet metadata program under court supervision in July 2004, according to an NSA inspector general report leaked this year by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
Prior to that date, the NSA had been collecting the e-mail records without court or congressional approval as part of a secret terrorist surveillance program authorized by President George W. Bush in the wake of the September 2001 terrorist attacks.

“On the logic of these opinions, almost every digital footprint we leave behind can be vacuumed up by the government — who we talk to, what we read, where we go online,” said Patrick Toomey, American Civil Liberties Union staff attorney.
“Like previous releases, these materials show the danger of a government that sidesteps public debate and instead grounds its surveillance powers in the secret opinions of a secret court.
“The more we learn, the clearer it is that our surveillance laws and oversight rules are in dramatic need of reform.”
Mark Rumold, staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said the latest release mirrored previous releases of documents by the director of national intelligence in which the court “signed off on constitutionally questionable orders that affected the privacy rights of millions of Americans.”

In effect, the NSA was going beyond the FISA Court’s rules that the agency only search selectors when it could demonstrate a “reasonable articulable suspicion” of a link to terrorism or other legitimate foreign intelligence purpose.
The Justice Department filed a notice of non-compliance with the FISA Court after discovering the practice, according to the documents.
The files also reveal that in recent years the NSA was actively “exploring the possibility” of building a database that would include detailed information on the locations from which people including U.S. citizens made cellular phone calls.
In a memo sent to a staff member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, the NSA made clear that it believed it had the legal authority to track such location information in addition to the existing metadata it was already collecting on the number and durations of billions of phone calls.
The disclosure indicates that U.S. intelligence officials were more aggressively pursuing the collection of such locational data than they have publicly acknowledged.

The entire NSA apparatus should be put under a microscope and fully vented in public. The only course of action. And immediately, Keith Alexander and Jimmy Clapper both ought to be axed — they’re criminals in wolf-scented garments.

If inspected close enough, Alexander and Clapper are in reality members of the Ringwraiths: They became corrupt and ended up as the nine Nazgûl, followers of Lord Sauron, and they are not dead nor are they alive. It is impossible for a mortal man to kill one of them.
Just wait for the Snowden…he will avenge.

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