Tag Archives: NSA

Snowden is on Twitter

Edward Snowden joined Twitter at noon today and garnered 167,000 followers in his first hour. So, maybe there’s hope. Article here, on The Intercept. Souvenir first tweet, below. That one account he’s following is the NSA.


In an earlier post on Snowden, we observed that Germans came out on the street in protest, whereas Americans largely believe the shtick about “privacy versus security.” Since then, the NSA has been proved guilty of illegal surveillance activity.

You may recall White House staffers being fired over this, the Senate investigation, the impeachment. No? That’s because not a damned thing happened. Some starlet got her boobs adjusted and our entire brain dead country forgot the whole thing. Meanwhile, Ed is a fugitive.

Update: People taking action in Germany, while here in America the authorities blithely conduct another illegal search and seizure.


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Security Blanket

Domestic surveillance is one of those issues that highlight the false dichotomy between Republicans and Democrats. Senior officials on both sides favor a surveillance regime which is illegal and unconstitutional. Opposing this bipartisan consensus are the usual suspects – Rand Paul, Ron Wyden, Justin Amash, and a surprisingly small cohort of American voters.


The great state of Kentucky has two senators, both Republican. Of course, Senator Paul is a Republican in name only. He is the leader of that party’s emerging libertarian wing. The other is Mitch McConnell, the majority leader. McConnell supports a straight extension of the Patriot Act, including section 215 – mass collection of everyone’s phone records.

Siding with McConnell is the Obama administration, including newly appointed Attorney General Loretta Lynch – she of the civil asset forfeiture scandal – and Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush. At least Lynch is consistent. She has no regard for the Fourth Amendment at all. The quickest way to find out if your senator is among the “security hawks,” is to start reading Dan Froomkin at The Intercept.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Among TV pundits, Fox News is mostly in favor of domestic surveillance (as here) except for the occasional libertarian, and CNN – well, CNN is the administration’s lapdog. This chimes with the risible survey finding that Democrats and Republicans only resist surveillance when the other party is in charge.

Your government intends to spy on you, by which we mean Congress, various police agencies, and the Obama administration with its media lackeys. It is easier to count the people resisting, which still includes about half of the judges – until AG Lynch starts replacing them.

Using mass collection of phone records, the police agencies can put together a map of who talks to whom and, by doping out who your friends’ friends are, decide if they should obtain a secret warrant for your arrest, further investigation, put you on the no-fly list, have the IRS audit you, etc. This article from Ars Technica explains how the three hops rule makes everyone a suspect.

Why should you care? You are pretty sure you don’t know anyone who knows someone who knows someone else who might be on a secret list of suspected terrorists. If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear, right?

Wrong. In the real world, what happens when police agencies have vast power to investigate innocent people is that they end up abusing it. This goes all the way back to FBI harassment of Dr. King, and continues with the IRS selectively auditing political enemies.

… explicit allegations about King’s sex life … the letter offers a potent warning for readers today about the danger of domestic surveillance

Power corrupts. Surveillance power creates opportunities for blackmail and intimidation of political enemies – as well as vulnerable innocents. It is even conceivable that the NSA might someday blackmail its own masters in Congress. The FBI tried it once, under J. Edgar Hoover, and the CIA is not above hacking Congressional computers. This is a far bigger threat to America than the “war on terror” they claim to be fighting.

Domestic surveillance is a clear and present danger to our personal freedoms and the integrity of the republic. It is astonishing that young Americans – to paraphrase Paul Begala – don’t give a shit.

Activists in Europe hold their politicians to account. They march, they vote, and they ask tough questions. When was the last time you saw an American politician pinned down on this – or any – issue, and forced to give a serious answer?

Here, we are placated with an earnest speech or two – some waffle about “finding a balance,” and a committee to recommend someday making some changes. We’ll change the name of our writ from Patriot Act to Freedom Act, LOL.

Jeremiah blames public education. By negligence or design, we have raised up a generation that is self absorbed and easily led. One generation – that’s all it takes, and you will never get your freedom back.

See also: IRS Doesn’t Need a Warrant to Read Your Email

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Nothing to Hide

The most Orwellian impression of the NSA comes not from Jeremiah, not from the ACLU – but from their own web site!  We thought we had been redirected to The Onion.  For a good laugh, check it out – quick, before the ‘bots read this post.


Yeah, baby!  Ignorance is strength.

We thought we were the only ones putting snicker quotes around the president’s NSA “reforms,” but apparently they’re snickering, too!

We are happy to report that we “dodged a bullet” recently when President Obama gave his January 17th speech on NSA “reforms”. We were all ready to provide complete transparency about the current operating status of the Utah Data Center, but happily now it looks like we won’t have to!

Speaking of NSA “reform,” here is the ACLU rundown on the president’s proposals.  While you’re there, be sure to sign the Amnesty for Snowden petition.

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Don’t Get Scroogled

en-INTL_L_Scroogled_Keep_Calm_Mug_DHF-01113_mncoYou may recall Jeremiah warning you to stop using Google, because they collaborate with the secret police, and then following up on the machinations of Dr. Evil, Eric Schmidt.  Thanks to public pressure, the big internet companies are now pleading to disclose their secret court orders.

We also reported how collaborating is bad for business, and here we see investors pressuring AT&T and Verizon.  This is how you lobby for change in a capitalist society.  Keep up the good work!

I want to reiterate what we have said in the past – Yahoo has never given access to the NSA or to any other government agency. Ever.

Now, Yahoo plans to encrypt all personal data, and … here we have the highly amusing Scroogled campaign from Microsoft.  In case you’re new to this,

  • Stop using the Google browser.  Switch to IE or Firefox.
  • Set the browser’s search box to DuckDuckGo.
  • Switch your email to Yahoo mail.

If you’re technically inclined, you may want to add your own encryption, anonymous browsing, and VPN.  This is serious stuff, folks.  The internet has become a hostile environment for anyone with opinions that might some day be used against you.  Here is the tragic farewell of Groklaw.

Your data is probably not safe with any of these companies, but at least we can make privacy a competitive issue.

By the way, now it has been established that the NSA shares its stolen data with the DHS, IRS, DEA, and FBI – and maybe OFA – we will just call the whole apparatus “secret police” for short.  Readers are invited to submit glib abbreviations for the police-harassment-security-advertising complex.

See also:  Petition to Stop Reading Email

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Don’t Be Evil

eric_schmidt_reuters-300x300Here is a fascinating article by Julian Assange, in which he links Google to the State Department and NSA surveillance.  It reads like the trailer for a Tom Clancy novel.  Google has an employee doing covert activities, and the CEO’s girlfriend is an informal liaison.

You can decide for yourself how strong the evidence is.  One persuasive item is this, from a leaked email message:

Google is getting White House and State Dept support and air cover.  In reality they are doing things the CIA cannot do… US gov’t can then disavow knowledge …

A revolving door between Google and the State Department is creepy but not, by itself, illegal.  The alleged covert activities, if proved, would be illegal, but – who’s going to investigate?

Google chief Eric Schmidt has not exactly been a friend of privacy rights.  Here he is, saying that Gmail users don’t have an expectation of privacy, and here again, that spying is “the nature of our society.”

… unifying vast commercial and political databases to understand the proclivities of individual voters likely to support Obama or be open to his message

Schmidt also organized the data mining operation which gets much of the credit for President Obama’s reelection – and he has kept them on, as a paid research agency.  These young techies revolutionized the science of campaigning.  One wonders, though, if they didn’t have access to a wee bit of “nonpublic personal information.”

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German Lesson

GermanThis Stasi, that the Germans are so worked up over, is short for Staatsicherheit – State Security.  Gestapo is short for “state police.”  Its first syllable stands for Geheime, which is best translated as “homeland.”

Sound familiar?  Better yet are boring acronyms, like DHS, NSA, and KGB.  No one ever names their agency “secret police,” or “jack booted thugs.”  They all claim to protect home and hearth, but what they really protect is the government.


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Bad for Business

Imagine being a Cisco rep right now, trying to sell telecoms gear in, say, Brazil.  It’s not so pretty when they ask about that NSA backdoor.  Not only is this rogue agency not checked by Congress, they compel American tech companies to get into bed with them – and then lie about it.


If you were an investor, wouldn’t you like to know that Cisco is burned now in foreign markets?  Wouldn’t you expect them to disclose this materially adverse information?  That’s the argument made by Patrick Watson, in this clever article.  American tech companies face a choice between violating an NSA gag order, or violating SEC disclosure rules.

“The National Security Agency will kill the U.S. technology industry singlehandedly,” said Rob Enderle, a technology analyst in San Jose.

Maybe that’s why 5% of Intel stock is sold short.  Intel makes most of its money overseas.  One analyst, cited by Bloomberg, says the NSA has the potential to damage our entire tech industry.  Just to be sure, the agency has also pissed off important allies, like Germany.  Chancellor Merkel is pushing for tough privacy measures in EU trade laws.

Berlin’s unexpected move highlights the anger generated in Germany by claims that American intelligence eavesdropped on a wide range of targets, including Chancellor Angela Merkel.

We bugged her phone and now she doesn’t want to buy technology from us.  Did we mention that Merkel grew up in East Germany?   By contrast, here is Europe signing a fat free trade agreement with Canada.

Now that it’s hitting their finances, collaborators like Eric Schmidt are crying crocodile tears.  The NSA answers to no one – apparently, not even the president – but companies can feel pain.

See also:  Stop Using Google

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