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Thus Spake Assange

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, in an exclusive interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, said the Russian government was not the source of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign that his organization released during the 2016 presidential race.

Despite the Obama administration’s claims that Russia was behind cyber-intrusions meant to interfere with the U.S. election – and punitive measures taken against Moscow last week – Assange said nobody associated with the Russian government gave his group the files.

“We can say, we have said, repeatedly that over the last two months that our source is not the Russian government and it is not a state party,” Assange told Fox News. The interview was conducted in London where Assange has been residing for four years at the Ecuadorian embassy, out of concern for possible extradition.

Why would he lie?

h/t Fox News

Social Media Is NOT Your Friend!

fedbook-spying-social-mediaPrivacy mavens have been going on for some time regarding the complete lack of privacy on the Internet.  Coupled with private industry and public intelligence, license plate readers and facial recognition software, the NSA listening to our cellular telephone calls and reading our email, and cameras everywhere, from about 2002, lets face it…

We’re hosed. 

Now, another factor has entered the arena.

(from Peter)

“Militarizing” social media?

According to Motherboard, it’s a real threat.

A global conference of senior military and intelligence officials taking place in London this week reveals how governments increasingly view social media as “a new front in warfare” and a tool for the Armed Forces.

The overriding theme of the event is the need to exploit social media as a source of intelligence on civilian populations and enemies; as well as a propaganda medium to influence public opinion.

. . .

The event, the Sixth Annual Conference on Social Media Within the Defence and Military Sector, is sponsored by the Thales Group, the tenth largest defense company in the world, which is partially owned by the French government.

Participants in the conference—chaired by Steven Mehringer, Head of Communication Services at NATO—will include military and intelligence leaders from around the world, especially “social media experts from across the armed forces and defense industry.”

. . .

“Social Media is increasingly important to the portrayal of armed forces, at home and abroad on operations; raising awareness of institutional issues; and gaining support through successful recruitment campaigns,” said conference Chairman, NATO’s Steven Mehringer, in an invitation brochure for the event.

The military’s goal of using social media to influence the beliefs of populations to win wars is alluded to in the description of other panels. A proposed panel titled ‘NATO’s Digital Outreach: Creating a Global Conversation’, describes NATO’s aim of “cultivating a global audience through social media to support The Alliance.”

Another panel discussion makes direct reference to the role of social media in covert US military ‘psychological warfare’ operations—i.e. propaganda—as well as the use of social media to support mass surveillance.

There’s more at the link.

At first I assumed that the conference was about nothing more or less than the usual propaganda exercises employed by all sides in any conflict.  However, reading between the lines, it appears that they’re talking about more active – and more covert – interventions, such as ‘sock-puppeting‘ comments on or reactions to articles, blog posts, etc. that they don’t like.  In other words, they wouldn’t act openly, or say that this is the view of a particular party;  so one wouldn’t be able to exercise informed judgment on what they have to say.

I know some of the more totalitarian governments have been doing this for decades.  (The so-calledGreat Firewall of Chinais a good example, and it’s now morphing into acitizen scorefor every person, upon which will depend their ability to get good jobs, get loans, or even eat well.)  If Western nations are now starting to venture into the same territory, we’ll have to be on our guard.

To coin a phrase: Big Brother is not your friend.

The TSA – NOW With More Tyranny!

From Wirecutter

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration is one of those federal agencies that tends to inspire intense reactions among the traveling public. It’s a bureaucracy that interacts with millions of passengers each day, requiring their shoes, jackets, laptops—and time.
Virtually all this occurs at airports, with about 80 percent of the agency’s $7.4 billion budget spent on aviation security. Only 2 percent of the TSA’s funding goes to surface transportation, according to a report by the Office of Inspector General earlier this month. Congress is looking to change that.
Several U.S. senators want the TSA to focus more attention and resources on rail, highway, and marine transportation, which would mean greater security oversight at such places as Amtrak stations and Megabus coach stops. A bipartisan bill introduced Thursday by Senator John Thune (R-S.D.) would require the TSA to use a risk-based security model for these transport modes and to budget money based on those risks. It would require a wider use of the agency’s terrorist watch list by train operators and more detailed passenger manifests along with tighter screening of marine employees. The legislation also would increase the TSA’s canine use by as many as 70 dog-handler teams for surface transportation.
MORE

But, but…terrorism!  They’re protecting us! 

Because there are so many attempts to take buses and trains to Cuba!  And there have been so many domestic attacks on boats, buses and trains.

WHAT?  There haven’t?

I remember a time when there were few restrictions in public transportation regarding explosives and firearms, and very little occurred.  People could purchase firearms through the mail!  And the citizenry was not searched wholesale without benefit of a warrant or active crime.  And they could travel relatively unmolested.

But now…

Government has used the excuse of airline hijackings and drunk drivers in the 70’s for ‘checkpoints’, and ‘no-knock’ warrants for ‘the drug war’, and now in this century, terrorist attacks on people, planes, buildings and infrastructure to create the PATRIOT Act and NDAA to further erode our civil rights.  Rampant surveillance, secret prisons, secret courts and suspension of Constitutional Rights are the order of the day.

Emphasis on ORDER.

The TSA has stopped exactly HOW MANY attacks, now?

That’s right.  ZERO, ZIP, BUPKIS.

And how many rights have we given up?

And now, the government is trying to steal more!

 

 

National “Security” (In Air Quotes)

© Office of the Inspector General

© Office of the Inspector General

Senator Wyden Puts A Hold On Intelligence Authorization Bill To Block FBI Warrantless Surveillance

from the there-goes-that-wyden-guy-again dept

As we’ve discussed, some surveillance/law enforcement hawks have tried to rush through a law to expand the power of national security letters (NSLs) to paper over the long standing abuse of NSLs, by saying that they can use those documents (which have basically no oversight and don’t require a warrant) to collect a ton of private info, including email info and web browsing histories. The rushed vote on this — stupidly citing the Orlando attacks, despite the fact it would have done nothing to stop that — failed but just barely. Basically, if Senator Dianne Feinstein were able to attend the vote, it likely would have passed. The support for it was one vote shy, and then Sen. Mitch McConnell changed his vote for procedural reasons to be able to bring it back for a quick follow up vote.

Now, as Congress rushes towards that vote, Senator Ron Wyden stepped up today to use his power as a Senator to put a hold on the entire Intelligence Authorization bill. He gave a short floor speech explaining his reasons.

I certainly appreciate the FBI’s interest in obtaining records about potential suspects quickly. But Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judges are very capable of reviewing and approving requests for court orders in a timely fashion. And section 102 of the recently-passed USA FREEDOM Act gives the FBI new authority to obtain records immediately in emergency situations, and then seek court review after the fact. I strongly supported the passage of that provision, which I first proposed in 2013. By contrast, I do not believe it is appropriate to give the government broad new surveillance authorities just because FBI officials do not like doing paperwork. If the FBI’s own process for requesting court orders is too slow, then the appropriate solution is bureaucratic reforms, not a major expansion of government surveillance authorities.

The fact of the matter is that ‘electronic communication transaction records’ can reveal a great deal of personal information about individual Americans. If government officials know that an individual routinely emails a mental health professional, or sends texts to a substance abuse support group, or visits a particular dating website, or the website of a particular political group, then the government knows a lot about that individual. Our Founding Fathers rightly argued that such intrusive searches should be approved by independent judges.

It is worth noting that President George W. Bush’s administration reached the same conclusion. In November 2008, the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel advised the FBI that National Security Letters could only be used to obtain certain types of records, and this list did not include electronic communication transaction records. The FBI has unfortunately not adhered to this guidance, and has at times continued to issue National Security Letters for electronic communications records. A number of companies that have received these overly broad National Security Letters have rightly challenged them as improper. Broadening the National Security Letter law to include electronic communication transaction records would be a significant expansion of the FBI’s statutory authority.

And unfortunately, the FBI’s track record with its existing National Security Letter authorities includes a substantial amount of abuse and misuse. These problems have been extensively documented in reports by the Justice Department Inspector General from 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2014. As one of these reports noted, “the FBI [has] used NSLs in violation of applicable statutes, Attorney General guidelines, and internal FBI policies.” No one in the Senate should be surprised by this pattern of abuse and misuse, because this is unfortunately what happens when federal agencies are given broad surveillance powers with no judicial oversight. In my judgment, it would be reckless to expand this particular surveillance authority when the FBI has so frequently failed to use its existing authorities responsibly.

Of course, to some extent, this is little more than show. It’s pretty clear that McConnell has the votes to get this passed, which is why Wyden has now taken the dramatic step of putting a hold on the bill. But the 60 votes here are usually what is necessary to break a hold (which remains a widely used, but informal, Senate rule). So in the end this won’t mean much, but we’ve been here before again and again and again. And by now it should be clear: When Ron Wyden says that the government is abusing laws to spy on Americans, he’s not lying. We shouldn’t then paper over that abuse and give the FBI or the NSA or anyone else greater powers to spy on Americans. Because they use that power and they don’t tend to use it wisely and judiciously.

Can anyone explain, seriously, why the emergency powers that allow the FBI to do the search in an emergency and then get the warrant after are somehow too problematic? Or why the FBI can’t go and get a warrant at all? It’s a petty quick process for them these days. This whole effort seems designed solely to wipe out what little oversight there is of the FBI and its use of national security letters.  (Techdirt.com)

AND, how much coverage of this was out there in the “press” (again, in air quotes)?
More importantly, why doesn’t the American Public care?

Cellular Telephone Security

Remember the old adage, “Never put anything into email you don’t want someone else to read.”

(Secretary Clinton, are you listening?)

Of course, with modern security software and pass codes (etc.) we needn’t worry about that with our smartphones, right?

(from Bayou Renaissance Man)

So you think your smartphone is secure?

Not according to CBS’s ’60 Minutes’ program.

Hering is a hacker himself, he’s the 30-something whiz who cofounded the mobile security company “Lookout” when he was 23. Lookout has developed a free app that scans your mobile phone for malware and alerts the user to an attack.

Sharyn Alfonsi: How likely is it that somebody’s phone has been hacked?

John Hering: In today’s world there’s really only — two types of companies or two types of people which are those who have been hacked and realize it and those who have been hacked and haven’t.

Sharyn Alfonsi: How much do you think people have been kind of ignoring the security of their cellphones, thinking, “I’ve got a passcode, I must be fine?”

John Hering: I think that most people have not really thought about their phones as computers. And that’s really starting to shift.

Sharyn Alfonsi: And that’s what you think– it’s like having a laptop now?

John Hering: Oh absolutely. I mean, your mobile phone is effectively a supercomputer in your pocket. There’s more technology in your mobile phone than was in, you know, the space craft that took man to the moon. I mean, it’s — it’s really unbelievable.

Sharyn Alfonsi: Is everything hackable?

John Hering: Yes.

Sharyn Alfonsi: Everything?

John Hering: Yes.

Sharyn Alfonsi: If somebody tells you, “You can’t do it.”

John Hering: I don’t believe it.

There’s much more at the link.  Highly recommended – and disturbing – reading.

Peter

So, about that porn you’ve been sneaking a peek at on your lunch hour…
PS – I saw a recent interview with Jim Caviezel, John Reese of Person of Interest (Season 5 – probably the last – starts TONIGHT 05/03/2016!).  He was asked if he changed any of his habits in real life, having done a political science fiction TV series about rampant surveillance.  He responded he is thoughtful regarding what he says in cellular telephone calls, and ELIMINATED THE INTERNET FROM HIS HOME!  Said he doesn’t need it!  Food for thought…

Windows 10

Yep, I bit the bullet and installed it.

I also followed Borepatch‘s advice, with regard to change the security settings.

Thus far (Day Three) it seems to work alright.  I previously was using Windows 7 Home, which I LOVED!  Of course, not unlike my ancient (three-year-old) Android cellular telephone, I was advised it would no longer be supported (as of some date).

So, I updated that, as well.  (I paid it off.  WTH!)

And, regardless my changing the security settings, I’m certain Microsoft will continue to follow my perusal of the Internet, and diligently pass along what it finds to governmental and corporate entities.

It’s already disconcerting that my new Samsung Galaxy Note 5 seems not only to know where I am in space, but remembers where I have been previously, and makes recommendations regarding where to go next!

(Note to self – Windows 10 resembles Android!  Who knew?)

The Singularity isn’t far off, and I expect Cortana to ask me, “What are you doing, Guffaw?” any day now.

The times – they are a changin’.

hal 9000

 

Much Corruption? Naw…

Government corruption has become rampant:

  • Senior SEC employees spent up to 8 hours a day surfing porn sites instead of cracking down on financial crimes
  • NSA spies pass around homemade sexual videos and pictures they’ve collected from spying on the American people

More @ Zero Hedge

There was a time many of us (well I) trusted ‘the authorities’ to generally do that which was ‘right’.  Sure, mistakes were made, but people took oaths and policies were in place, yatta…yatta…yatta.

Not so much, anymore.

“Absolute power corrupts absolutely”  –  Lord Acton

 

The NSA/CIA/Patriot Act Stuff BEGAN With Olmstead

The lovely and skilled Tamara reminded me, with this post:

That was educational…

Just got back from a trip with some friends to visit the Indiana State Museum. They have a great temporary exhibit there on Prohibition (you know, the thirteen year period in this country that created modern organized crime and from which we learned absolutely nothing?)Check this out:

That’s the actual phone in question from Olmstead v. United States, the case where the Supreme Court decided 5-4 that listening in on a dude’s phone lines without a warrant to catch the guy incriminating himself somehow didn’t violate either the Fourth or Fifth Amendments.

On The Marquess Of Queensberry

(And other rules.)

We, as civilized human beings, have always had rules with regard to combat.  War.  Interpersonal violence.

Sometimes the rules were indeed civilized, as The Marquess of Queensberry describes.  Sometimes, they are less so.

Modern warfare pretends to rely on The Geneva Conventions, and other treaties.  A nation cannot use certain kinds of ammunition, or poison gasses, or treat their prisoners-of-war in a less than humane manner.

Including torture.

Now, it has come to pass that the Senate of the United States has investigated our use of enhanced interrogation techniques against enemies of The United States.  And found that we engaged in tortuous behaviors.

Certainly, not the institutionalized tortures to death of the German Nazis, or the Feudal Japanese Empire, but torture nonetheless.

As Fox News populist Bill O’Reilly reminds us, it’s inappropriate to support bad behavior with other’s previous bad behavior.  Of course, he supports the torture of our enemies.  Hypocrite.

And the report concluded that for all the measures used, money expended and treaties/laws violated, very little of import was obtained through these methods.  And many in the CIA were distressed and ashamed at engaging in these actions.

When it comes to one-on-one, I support doing all that is necessary to survive.  If I am attacked, I’m not adverse to using groin and neck strikes and eye gouges to stop the attack.  Or a firearm, if appropriate.  Because I believe prima facie, as I am not initiating the attack, I am more moral than my attacker.  And my survival is therefore paramount.

However, when it comes to Nation-States…it might be more complicated.  Or not.

We, The United States, ascribe to The Rule of Law.  This includes treaties into which we have entered.  Treat our prisoners of war with humanity.  And stand proudly with our Principles.

This doesn’t mean we are limited to 19th Century Rules, “Gentlemen do not read each other’s mail.” (Henry L Stimson, U.S. Secretary of State).  Intelligence gathering is a valid tool of warfare.

It does mean if we don’t keep to our standards, we lose our National Soul.  And they have already won.

Security vs Surveillance (or Guns)

From The View From North Central Idaho

We have one infrastructure. We can’t choose a world where the US gets to spy and the Chinese don’t. We get to choose a world where everyone can spy, or a world where no one can spy. We can be secure from everyone, or vulnerable to anyone. And I’m tired of us choosing surveillance over security.

Bruce Schneier
September 19, 2014
Fake Cell Phone Towers Across the US

[A similar statement can be made about gun ownership.

We don’t get to choose between the everyone has guns and only the good guys have guns. The bad guys will always have guns or at least lethal weapons of some sort. And since they get to choose the time, location, and victim they will frequently succeed in their attacks when the innocent are stripped or discouraged from owning guns.

It’s only when the potential victims have the capability of causing near immediate serious consequences that perpetrators give serious consideration to their life choices. If there are not serious consequences then the case can be made they would be stupid to not to take advantage of those who are vulnerable. If the consequences are significantly delayed, as in a possible jail term a year or two in the future, the perpetrators may not be able to integrate those consequences into the decisions being made in the present.

I’m tired of politicians giving us the false choice of tolerating infringements on our right to keep and bear arms in exchange for imagined security.—Joe]

That Ben Franklin quote I keep repeating on this blog seems to apply here – Guffaw

"Round up the usual suspects."

In Loving Memory…