Enemy of the NSA

November 24, 2013

pt_948_11108_oClear and gorgeous this Sunday afternoon on California’s north coast — a perfect view for satellite-tracking by the NSA.
If they wanted, or had some kind of motive.

A motive for the fictional ‘Enemy of the State,” the Will Smith movie from 1998, was the assassination of a US Senator caught on video tape — a nefarious mind at the NSA used all the resources of the agency to retrieve/destroy that tape.
In context, one wonders whether in real-time reality if some asshole goes all-Jon-Voight one day, could he also pirate/utilize those vast capabilities of the NSA?

(Illustration found here).

In reverse, one guy was concerned about the movie.
Last June, just as the first of Ed Snowden’s NSA revelations hit the wires — from Time:

“The government’s been in bed with the entire telecommunications business since the ’40s,” Gene Hackman’s character, a retired NSA official, tells Smith.
“They have infected everything.
They can get into your bank statements, computer files, e- mail, listen to your phone calls.”
Former NSA Director Gen. Michael Hayden was promoted to head the agency as the movie came out, and was deeply worried about the public perception it created, James Risen reported in his 2006 book State of War: The Secret History of the C.I.A. and the Bush Administration.
Hayden, who went on to become the director of the CIA under President George W. Bush, “was appalled” by the NSA’s portrayal, and responded with a full-fledged PR campaign.
The agency’s very existence was long a state secret.

And the film’s screenwriter, David Marconi, said this in an interview in New York magazine, also from last June:

“The Department of Defense asked me to come down and speak to them after the film came out.
I met CIA guys and NSA guys.
I found them all to be very professional.
They were very focused on the mission and on defending the country.
I didn’t walk away with a sense that any of them were malevolent.
But some of them also had a very myopic view—here’s what you do, and you sit at your computer and you do it.
What you have is this machine that’s self-perpetuating.
It starts to grow on its own, and the more power it gets, the more power it wants to assume.
And as a result of the Patriot Act and 9/11, that apparatus is looking more and more at what’s going on inside this country.”

And these NSA guys are insatiable, and the whole apparatus might be illegal and unconstitutional.
From the Guardian:

Civil liberties campaigners told a New York court on Friday that the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of all US phone records violates the constitutional rights to freedom of association and privacy.
The American Civil Liberties Union called for the NSA’s program, first revealed by the Guardian in June, to be ended, arguing that it breached the first and fourth amendments as well as exceeding the authority Congress gave to the government through the Patriot Act.
“This kind of dragnet surveillance is precisely what the fourth amendment was meant to prohibit,” ACLU deputy legal director Jameel Jaffer, said before the hearing.
“The constitution does not permit the NSA to place hundreds of millions of innocent people under permanent surveillance because of the possibility that information about some tiny subset of them will become useful to an investigation in the future.”

And this week even more bullshit — from the daily newspaper NRC in the Netherlands:

The American intelligence service – NSA – infected more than 50,000 computer networks worldwide with malicious software designed to steal sensitive information.
Documents provided by former NSA-employee Edward Snowden and seen by this newspaper, prove this.

One example of this type of hacking was discovered in September 2013 at the Belgium telecom provider Belgacom.
For a number of years the British intelligence service – GCHQ – has been installing this malicious software in the Belgacom network in order to tap their customers’ telephone and data traffic.
The Belgacom network was infiltrated by GCHQ through a process of luring employees to a false Linkedin page.
The NSA computer attacks are performed by a special department called TAO (Tailored Access Operations).
Public sources show that this department employs more than a thousand hackers.
As recently as August 2013, the Washington Post published articles about these NSA-TAO cyber operations.
In these articles The Washington Post reported that the NSA installed an estimated 20,000 ‘implants’ as early as 2008.
These articles were based on a secret budget report of the American intelligence services.
By mid-2012 this number had more than doubled to 50,000, as is shown in the presentation NRC Handelsblad laid eyes on.

The malware can be controlled remotely and be turned on and off at will.
The ‘implants’ act as digital ‘sleeper cells’ that can be activated with a single push of a button.
According to the Washington Post, the NSA has been carrying out this type of cyber operation since 1998.

This entire NSA/Snowden saga is fascinatingly frightening.

And screenwriter Marconi did conclude this about Snowden: “Yeah. And he’s not a villain, he’s not a spy. He’s just a man who saw something that he believed was quite wrong. I salute him for his guts and his courage. And I’m sure there are twenty screenwriters in Hollywood right now trying to track down the rights to his story.”

Eddie made it from Singapore to Moscow with a shitload of information before the NSA even knew he’d left Honolulu — the boy does possess a continuing narrative for many sequels.

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