Tag: snowden

Snowden squashes Trump’s conspiracy theory

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, an analyst with a U.S. defence contractor, is pictured during an interview with the Guardian in his hotel room in Hong KongEdward Snowden has squashed a Trump conspiracy theory which claimed the “dark forces that be” had stepped in to save Hillary Clinton from arrest in the latest email scandal.

Orange comedy candidate Donald Trump claimed that the FBI clearing Hillary Clinton in a last-minute email scandal was impossible because there was no way anyone could have reviewed 650,000 new emails in eight days.

However, Edward Snowden, the fugitive whistle-blower said that it is a doddle and can be done with database scanning software.

FBI Director James Comey’s said that a search through a laptop used by Clinton aide Huma Abedin turned up nothing to change “our conclusions that we expressed in July with respect to Secretary Clinton”.

In other words, the FBI investigation into Clinton’s emails remains closed, with no charges sought.

The news was met with relief from the Clinton campaign, and disbelief from Trump’s advisers – including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and retired Army Gen. Michael Flynn, former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency:

Trump said: “Right now, she is being protected by a rigged system. It’s a totally rigged system,” he said. “I’ve been saying it for a long time. You can’t review 650,000 new emails in eight days. You can’t do it, folks.”

The FBI finished scanning the emails over the weekend. Many of the emails were personal messages or duplicates of messages that had been examined previously.

Snowden not only showed the code as to how it was done but also revealed a hack he had heard about which could game voting machines. To be honest it is pretty obvious. If the NSA is scanning billions of emails a day, then 650,000 over a weekend could probably be done on a laptop.

NSA contractor nicked data over 20 years

spyAn NSA contractor nicked huge amounts of data from government computers over two decades, a court is expected to hear.

Harold Martin is also accused of stealing thousands of highly classified documents, computers, and other storage devices during his tenure at the agency.

It’s not known exactly what Martin allegedly stole, it appears that the recently-leaked hacking tools used by the agency to conduct surveillance were among stuff he pinched. .

Prosecutors will on Friday charge Martin with violating the Espionage Act. If convicted, he could face ten years in prison on each count which probably means he will never see daylight again.

Originally it was thought that the case was just a felony theft and a lesser misdemeanor charge of removal and retention of classified information but it looks like there was something a little more serious going on.

According to a memo penned by US Attorney Rod Rosenstein, the contractor presents a “high risk of flight, a risk to the nation, and to the physical safety of others.”

The memo says that if he is released from custody, he “may have access to… a substantial amount of highly classified information, which he has flagrantly mishandled and could easily disseminate to others.”


Feds catch another NSA leaker

spyAnother National Security Agency contractor who stole and possibly leaked highly classified computer codes has been arrested by the FBI.

Harold Thomas Martin, 52, was taken into custody by the FBI and charged with theft of government property and unauthorized removal and retention of classified materials by a government employee or contractor, authorities said.

The untouchables executed search warrants at Martin’s home in Maryland, as well as his vehicle and two storage sheds on the property. They found documents and digital information stored on various devices, many of which were marked “top secret” or otherwise highly classified.

The contractor allegedly took highly classified “source code” developed by the agency to break into computer systems of adversaries like Russia, China, Iran and North Korea.

Martin had top secret security clearance and worked for the same contractor as NSA leaker Edward Snowden – Booz Allen Hamilton

“Among the classified documents found in the search were six classified documents obtained from sensitive intelligence and produced by a government agency in 2014. Those documents were produced through sensitive government sources, methods and capabilities, which are critical to a wide variety of national security issues.The disclosure of the documents would reveal those sensitive sources, methods and capabilities,” the DoJ said.

This is second time in three years someone with access to secret data was able to nick damaging secret information from the NSA, if only there were a security agency which had over reaching powers to stop this sort of thing.

Investigators are also trying to determine Martin’s motive and whether he is linked to a group of hackers known as the Shadow Brokers, which is suspected in a series of leaks of NSA intercepts related to Japan, Germany and other countries that WikiLeaks has published.


US intelligence has not forgiven Snowden

687474703a2f2f696d61676573352e66616e706f702e636f6d2f696d6167652f70686f746f732f32393530303030302f41726961476966732d617269612d6d6f6e74676f6d6572792d32393536333539302d3530302d3238302e676966While there are calls for the whistleblower Edward Snowden to be pardoned, the House intelligence committee yesterday unanimously approved a blistering report on him.

The report claims Snowden’s disclosures of top-secret documents and programmes did “tremendous damage” to national security.

The report by staff members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence claimed that the great unwashed did not know the truth about Snowden because their version of events was rife with falsehoods, exaggerations, and crucial omission.

Snowden said he would return to the US if he thought he could get a fair trial. But he said federal espionage laws do not recognize a defence of acting in the public interest or as a whistleblower.

The report said that the vast majority of the 1.5 million documents he stole “have nothing to do with programmes impacting individual privacy interests. They instead pertain to military, defense, and intelligence programs of great interest to America’s adversaries.”

His disclosures led Congress to eliminate a programme that allowed the NSA to store the numbers dialled by US telephone customers.

The report said Snowden did not, as he claimed, try to express his concerns about potentially illegal intelligence gathering in a way that would qualify him as a whistleblower.

“The Committee found no evidence that Snowden took any official effort to express concerns about US intelligence activities — legal, moral, or otherwise — to any oversight officials within the U.S. government, despite numerous avenues for him to do so.”

Two weeks before he began to download classified documents at an NSA installation in Hawaii, the report said, he was reprimanded after “engaging in a workplace spat” with managers. And he was repeatedly counselled regarding his behaviour at work, it said.

While he has claimed that statements made by US intelligence official James Clapper at a March 2013 congressional hearing amounted to a “breaking point” for him, the report said Snowden began to download classified documents eight months earlier.

Snowden’s ACLU-provided attorney, Ben Wizner, disputed the report.

“This is a dishonest report that attempts to discredit a genuine American hero, after years of ‘investigation,’ the committee still can’t point to any remotely credible evidence that Snowden’s disclosures caused harm.”

He added, “The truth is that Edward Snowden and the journalists with whom he worked did the job that the House Intelligence Committee was supposed to do: bring meaningful oversight to the US intelligence community. He did so responsibly and carefully, and their efforts have led to historic reforms.”

New Snowden leak shows British and US cooperation

snooperNew leaks from whistle-blower Edward Snowden have lifted the lid on the UK’s use of US intelligence spy techniques.

According to the Intercept the UK’s Menwith Hill base is being used by the US NSA to aid “a significant number of capture-kill operations” across the Middle East and North Africa.

These ops are arranged thanks to powerful eavesdropping technology that can harvest data from more than 300 million emails and phone calls a day.

NSA has pioneered new spying programmes at Menwith Hill to pinpoint the locations of suspected terrorists accessing the internet in remote parts of the world. GHOSTHUNTER and GHOSTWOLF programmes have supported conventional British and American military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

However, they also were used for covert missions in countries where the US has not declared war. NSA employees at Menwith Hill collaborated on a project to help “eliminate” terrorism targets in Yemen.

The documents raise the question about British complicity in US drone strikes and other targeted killing missions. There are some suggestions that some of these attacks violated international laws or constituted war crimes.


Snowden ain’t dead yet

snowden_2912545bA bizzare conspiracy theory started over the weekend claiming that the spooks had finally offed Edward Snowden.

It all started when Snowden posted a tweat saying: “its time” and then followed by another one which had a long hex string.  The two tweets were mysteriously deleted and conspiracy nuts thought that it was a deadman’s switch. An automatic code releasing more secret documents in the advent he was bumped off.

Snowden had not been heard of since and the posts were deleted.  However his made and co-conspirator in the whole leaking game Glenn Greenwald  tweeted the Snowden was fine.  However he didn’t provide any details either, although it is hard to prove a negative.

For some reason people have not thought “oh, he must have sat on his mobile” or tweeted by mistake.  Happens to me all the time and no one thinks I have been offed by the CIA or a desperate Apple fanboy.


Snowden slaps Assange over tactics

snowden_2912545bWhistleblower Edward Snowden  has slammed Julian Assange’s tactics of releasing emails provided by Russia without checking them out properly.

Assange, desperate to get one over on Hillary Clinton, issued the documents which appear to have been thoughtfully provided by Tsar Putin’s disinformation department. Putin has made it clear he wants Donald Trump elected probably because he and a few of his Oligarchic mates have pile of money invested in Trump businesses.

Snowden said WikiLeaks was mistaken in not at least modestly curating the information it releases. “Democratizing information has never been more vital, and @Wikileaks has helped. But their hostility to even modest curation is a mistake,” Snowden said in a tweet.

Assange snipped back that “opportunism won’t earn you a pardon from Clinton & curation is not censorship of ruling party cash flows.” Sounds a bit like the pot calling the kettle black.  Assange is hoping Trump will be the sort of president who shares his views and tell the Swedes to stop with this rape investigation. He has no chance of that happening with a woman in the White House.

WikiLeaks recently released emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee, which suggested that committee officials had favored Clinton over rival Senator Bernie Sanders. There is speculation that the DNC was hacked by Russians aiming to influence the elections. WikiLeaks has refused to disclose its source.

WikiLeaks’ release of the emails, which contained sometimes information such as email ids, phone numbers and passport numbers of DNC donors has been criticized.

WikiLeaks was also criticized after its release of emails said to belong to Turkey’s ruling party, the AKP or Justice and Development Party. WikiLeaks also posted links on social media to databases that were said to contain sensitive and private information of millions of ordinary people, including a special database of almost all adult women in Turkey. It later turned out WikiLeaks had linked to a database uploaded by another person, which was disabled after the controversy.

US government does not have to fess up to snooping

spyThe government in the Land of the Fee (sic) claims that there is no legal basis for it to tell  Microsoft’s customers when it intercepts their e-mail.

Vole is suing the government saying that customers have a constitutional right to know if the government has searched or seized their property.  But he government says that the case should be thrown out because… well security, you know..  terrorists, that sort of thing.

The government claims federal law allows it to obtain electronic communications without a warrant or without disclosure of a specific warrant if it would endanger an individual or an investigation.

If the logic behind this defence appears half-hearted then it probably is. There is no way that the government can claim that all its warrants need to be secret because they would endanger life.  Its previous defences have also been rubbish. Last week, Microsoft persuaded an appeals court to overturn an order to turn over e-mails stored on servers in Ireland as part of a Manhattan drug prosecution.

However, the fact that the Justice Department is prepared to stand up in court and argue such weak cases indicates that it is fighting to keep tech companies on a tight leash. It is increasingly seeing tech companies as obstructing national security and law enforcement investigations.

This all started two years ago, when  Edward Snowden’s disclosures about covert data collection showed what the government was actually doing.

Microsoft argues the very future of mobile and cloud computing is at stake if customers can’t trust that their data will remain private, while investigators seek digital tools to help them fight increasingly sophisticated criminals and terrorists savvy at using technology to communicate and hide their tracks.

The government claims Microsoft doesn’t have the authority to sue over whether its users’ constitutional protections against unlawful search and seizure are being violated, the U.S. said.

Secrecy orders on government warrants for access to private e-mail accounts generally prohibit Microsoft from telling customers about the requests for lengthy or even unlimited periods, the company said when it sued. At the time, federal courts had issued almost 2,600 secrecy orders to Microsoft alone, and more than two-thirds had no fixed end date, cases the company can never tell customers about, even after an investigation is completed.

Vole admits that there may be times when the government is justified in seeking a gag order to prevent customers under investigation from tampering with evidence or harming another person. But the rules authorising the gag orders is too broad and sets too low of a standard for secrecy.

Blighty brings in a new spying law

 snooperWhile people are a bit distracted about Europe, David “bacon sandwich” Cameron brought in a new spying law which will make it possible for the rich elite to keep the great unwashed from revolting.

The new surveillance law gives security agencies extensive monitoring capabilities in the digital age. Lawmakers voted 444-69 in favour of the Investigatory Powers Bill, which interior minister Theresa May said would help “keep us safe in an uncertain world”.

The bill will now go to the House of Lords upper house of parliament where it is expected to be rubber stamped. After all the Lords don’t want the riff-raff revolting, they are already revolting enough.

Several lawmakers, including the opposition Scottish National Party, voted against the bill, saying that the protections for privacy were not strong enough.

May insisted that the bill had been scrutinised using her extra best and strongest scrute.  A new privacy clause would require agencies to consider less intrusive means to achieve the same ends and special protections for lawmakers, lawyers and journalists.

“It provides far greater transparency, overhauled safeguards and adds protections for privacy and introduces a new and world-leading oversight regime,” May claimed.

NSA snooping scares Wikipedia readers

spyInternet traffic to Wikipedia pages summarising knowledge about terror groups and their tools plunged nearly 30 percent after revelations of widespread Web monitoring by the US spooks.

A paper in the Berkeley Technology Law Journal analyses the fall in traffic saying  that it provides the most direct evidence to date of a so-called “chilling effect,” or negative impact on legal conduct, from the intelligence practices disclosed by fugitive former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Author Jonathon Penney, a fellow at the University of Toronto’s interdisciplinary Citizen Lab, looked at the monthly views of Wikipedia articles on 48 topics identified by the US Department of Homeland Security as subjects that they track on social media, including Al Qaeda, dirty bombs and jihad.

In the 16 months prior to the first major Snowden stories in June 2013, the articles drew a variable but an increasing audience, with a low point of about 2.2 million per month rising to 3.0 million just before disclosures of the NSA’s Internet spying programs.

Views of the sensitive pages rapidly fell back to 2.2 million a month in the next two months and later dipped under 2.0 million before stabilising below 2.5 million 14 months later, Penney found.

Penney’s results confirm other research which noted a five per cent drop in Google searches for sensitive terms immediately after June 2013. Other surveys have found sharply increased use of privacy-protecting Web browsers and communications tools.