Posts Tagged ‘National Security Agency’

Thank You Edward Snowden

September 5, 2014

According to the Washington Times, the information provided by Edward Snowden on the working of the NSA has proven to be of immense value to the Islamic State, those fanatics who have been chopping off reporters’ heads.

A former top official at the National Security Agency says the Islamic State terrorist group has “clearly” capitalized on the voluminous leaks from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and is exploiting the top-secret disclosures to evade U.S. intelligence.

Bottom line: Islamic State killers are harder to find because they know how to avoid detection.

Chris Inglis was the NSA’s deputy director during Mr. Snowden’s flood of documents to the news media last year. Mr. Snowden disclosed how the agency eavesdrops, including spying on Internet communications such as emails and on the Web’s ubiquitous social media.

Asked by The Washington Times if the Islamic State has studied Mr. Snowden’s documents and taken action, Mr. Inglis answered, “Clearly.”

 

The top-secret spill has proven ready-made for the Islamic State (also referred to as ISIL or ISIS). It relies heavily on Internet channels to communicate internally and to spread propaganda.

Mr. Snowden “went way beyond disclosing things that bore on privacy concerns,” said Mr. Inglis, who retired in January. “‘Sources and methods’ is what we say inside the intelligence community — the means and methods we use to hold our adversaries at risk, and ISIL is clearly one of those.

“Having disclosed all of those methods, or at least some degree of those methods, it would be impossible to imagine that, as intelligent as they are in the use of technology, in the employment of communications for their own purposes, it’s impossible to imagine that they wouldn’t understand how they might be at risk to intelligence services around the world, not the least of which is the U.S. And they necessarily do what they think is in their best interest to defend themselves,” he said.

Another former official also bemoans the damage Mr. Snowden has done.

Retired Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden ran the NSA when al Qaeda struck on Sept. 11, 2001. He moved to modernize technology and methodology in an agency that some internal critics said “had gone deaf” in the 1990s.

“The changed communications practices and patterns of terrorist groups following the Snowden revelations have impacted our ability to track and monitor these groups,” said Mr. Hayden, who writes a bimonthly column for The Times.

Matthew G. Olsen, who directs the National Counterterrorism Center, supports Mr. Hayden’s assessment.

“Following the disclosure of the stolen NSA documents, terrorists are changing how they communicate to avoid surveillance. They are moving to more secure communications platforms, using encryption and avoiding electronic communications altogether,” Mr. Olsen, a former NSA general counsel, said Wednesday at the Brookings Institution. “This is a problem for us in many areas where we have limited human collection and depend on intercepted communications to identify and disrupt plots.”

Thank you Mr. Snowden for making it a whole lot harder to prevent a recurrence of 9/11. If you still think Edward Snowden is a hero, please consider that whatever his motivations and whatever wrongdoings by the US government he has exposed, his actions have not advanced the cause of peace and freedom in the world. He has only made it easier for the bad guys to harm the innocent.

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Every Breath You Take

August 30, 2013

Maybe you remember this song by the Police.

 

Every breath you take
Every move you make
Every bond you break
Every step you take
I’ll be watching you

Every single day
Every word you say
Every game you play
Every night you stay
I’ll be watching you

O can’t you see
You belong to me
How my poor heart aches with every step you take

Every move you make
Every vow you break
Every smile you fake
Every claim you stake
I’ll be watching you

 

I wonder if this is now the theme song for the NSA. Although Every Breath You Take was primarily about a jealous lover (a stalker?), Sting had surveillance in mind as he wrote it.

I woke up in the middle of the night with that line in my head, sat down at the piano and had written it in half an hour. The tune itself is generic, an aggregate of hundreds of others, but the words are interesting. It sounds like a comforting love song. I didn’t realize at the time how sinister it is. I think I was thinking of Big Brother, surveillance and control.

Fitting for these times, isn’t it?

 

Sign of the Times

June 10, 2013
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Coming True? (Photo credit: beachblogger42)

 

According to the Washington Examiner, sales of 1984 have increased dramatically recently.

 

Sales of George Orwell’s “1984” are up 69 percent on Amazon, according to a list on the website.

The book marked its 60th anniversary on June 6 amid a flurry of real-world news stories on secret government surveillance.

Amazon lists the paperback version of the sci-fi classic as the 19th biggest book on its Movers and Shakers list. The current sales rank is 110.

The list identifies the biggest gainers in sales rank compared to 24 hours ago.

Update: As of 3:22 p.m. EDT, sales of Orwell’s “1984” are up 91 percent on the Amazon Movers and Shakers list.

 

I guess that George Orwell’s dark vision of a totalitarian government that watches its citizen’s every move doesn’t seem like fiction anymore. Incidentally, Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged has also been making record sales for the past several years, for the same reason.

 

Interesting times we’re living in.

 

 

 

2013

June 7, 2013

With all of the news coming out about how the US government has been spying on its own citizens, maybe George Orwell should have titled his book 2013 and set it in America. We do seem to be steadily getting closer to the sort of country where Big Brother is watching us, for our own protection, of course. Just looking at the headlines at the Drudge Report, we have the NSA tapping into the user information of Apple, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Facebook and others, the Post Office has been photographing mail, the NSA has been intercepting Americans phone calls and e-mail, and who knows what else. It is as if every idiotic conspiracy theory put forward by the tinfoil hat wearers is turning out to be true.

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Our Future?

Of course, it is easy to go overboard over all of this. So far, there has been no indication that the government is actually spying on innocent citizens, at least not yet. The programs that have been uncovered do have a legitimate purpose. By having computers sift through billions of pieces of information, intelligence specialists can uncover terrorist plots, sometimes before they are even planned. We like to think that we have free will and we decide our actions, and we do, but our decisions are predictable if you have enough information. Any one working in sales or marketing already knows this. What the government is doing is simply taking the sort of data collection that advertisers do a further step.

The question is though, do we really trust the government with so much information? Can we rely on the people in our government to work for our protection and not use this information for partisan advantage? As the revelations about the IRS’s selective enforcement of the laws against the TEA Party might suggest, perhaps we should not trust them.

Meanwhile, It wouldn’t hurt to remind everyone that what you do on the Internet is never really private. Take it for granted that anything you post on Facebook, tweet on Twitter, or send in an e-mail can become public knowledge. Oh, and not to be paranoid,  but you may want to cover up that webcam that came with your laptop. They could be watching you.

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