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Re: Who watches the Watchmen?

Posted: Wed Jun 25, 2014 3:21 pm
by Cthulhu-chan
I'm the exception. Woo!

Also, very reasonable and rational decision. Nice.

Re: Who watches the Watchmen?

Posted: Thu Jul 03, 2014 7:11 am
by sei
According to the source code will be labeled as extremists in XKeyscore users when they search the internet for anonymizing tools like Tor or Tails, thanks to the global monitoring of search queries.
Source: XKeyscore source code: Tor users are selected and monitored by the NSA as extremists (heise.de via Google Translate)

Re: Who watches the Watchmen?

Posted: Mon Jul 07, 2014 6:18 pm
by Thad
Atlantic: The Latest Snowden Leak Is Devastating to NSA Defenders
Consider the latest leak sourced to Edward Snowden from the perspective of his detractors. The National Security Agency's defenders would have us believe that Snowden is a thief and a criminal at best, and perhaps a traitorous Russian spy. In their telling, the NSA carries out its mission lawfully, honorably, and without unduly compromising the privacy of innocents. For that reason, they regard Snowden's actions as a wrongheaded slur campaign premised on lies and exaggerations.

But their narrative now contradicts itself. The Washington Post's latest article drawing on Snowden's leaked cache of documents includes files "described as useless by the analysts but nonetheless retained" that "tell stories of love and heartbreak, illicit sexual liaisons, mental-health crises, political and religious conversions, financial anxieties and disappointed hopes. The daily lives of more than 10,000 account holders who were not targeted are catalogued and recorded nevertheless."

The article goes on to describe how exactly the privacy of these innocents was violated. The NSA collected "medical records sent from one family member to another, résumés from job hunters and academic transcripts of schoolchildren. In one photo, a young girl in religious dress beams at a camera outside a mosque. Scores of pictures show infants and toddlers in bathtubs, on swings, sprawled on their backs and kissed by their mothers. In some photos, men show off their physiques. In others, women model lingerie, leaning suggestively into a webcam ..."


There's a part of me that's baffled when people are surprised by information that I have taken as a given for -- well, in this case, since right about the time the PATRIOT Act was passed. I haven't really been surprised by any of the revelations that have come from the Snowden leaks -- but it's nice that people are finally sitting up and paying attention.

Re: Who watches the Watchmen?

Posted: Wed Jul 09, 2014 3:13 pm
by Thad
Latest Snowden leaks: NSA and FBI spy on Muslims (including at least one DHS official with top-secret clearance), use "Mohammed Raghead" as the placeholder name on the document graphics in training materials.

White House responds by telling the NSA and FBI they most definitely should not refer to those Muslims they're spying on for no reason as "ragheads", because that would be racist.

Re: Who watches the Watchmen?

Posted: Wed Jul 09, 2014 3:56 pm
by Mothra
The FBI—which is listed as the “responsible agency” for surveillance on the five men—has a controversial record when it comes to the ethnic profiling of Muslim-Americans. According to FBI training materials uncovered by Wired in 2011, the bureau taught agents to treat “mainstream” Muslims as supporters of terrorism, to view charitable donations by Muslims as “a funding mechanism for combat,” and to view Islam itself as a “Death Star” that must be destroyed if terrorism is to be contained.

John Guandolo, a former FBI counterterrorism official who takes credit for developing a training program for agents on the “Muslim Brotherhood and their subversive movement in the United States,” told The Intercept that he participated in investigations of some of the individuals whose email accounts were monitored. Echoing the “red under every bed” hysteria of the McCarthy era, Guandolo believes that “hundreds” of covert members of the Muslim Brotherhood are active in the United States, that some of them have succeeded in infiltrating the Pentagon, and that CIA director John Brennan is a secret Muslim.


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Re: Who watches the Watchmen?

Posted: Wed Jul 09, 2014 4:44 pm
by Mongrel
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Re: Who watches the Watchmen?

Posted: Thu Jul 10, 2014 6:45 pm
by Mongrel

Re: Who watches the Watchmen?

Posted: Mon Jul 21, 2014 7:15 pm
by Thad
AP wrote:The U.S. government is rapidly expanding the number of names it accepts for inclusion on its terrorist watch list, with more than 1.5 million added in the last five years, according to numbers divulged by the government in a civil lawsuit.

About 99 percent of the names submitted are accepted, leading to criticism that the government is "wildly loose" in its use of the list.


Well, obviously this is keeping us much safer from the MILLIONS OF TERRORISTS inside the US.

Re: Who watches the Watchmen?

Posted: Tue Jul 22, 2014 5:44 pm
by Mongrel

Re: Who watches the Watchmen?

Posted: Tue Jul 22, 2014 5:57 pm
by Thad
I'll believe it's more than a token gesture as soon as I see any difference in Maricopa County.

Re: Who watches the Watchmen?

Posted: Thu Jul 24, 2014 3:02 am
by sei
Watchlisting document leaked. (pdf-y web viewer thing)

The “March 2013 Watchlisting Guidance,” a 166-page document issued last year by the National Counterterrorism Center, spells out the government’s secret rules for putting individuals on its main terrorist database, as well as the no fly list and the selectee list, which triggers enhanced screening at airports and border crossings. The new guidelines allow individuals to be designated as representatives of terror organizations without any evidence they are actually connected to such organizations, and it gives a single White House official the unilateral authority to place “entire categories” of people the government is tracking onto the no fly and selectee lists. It broadens the authority of government officials to “nominate” people to the watchlists based on what is vaguely described as “fragmentary information.” It also allows for dead people to be watchlisted.

Re: Who watches the Watchmen?

Posted: Fri Aug 01, 2014 6:45 pm
by Thad
"We tortured some folks."

Well, kudos for using "tortured", but I would have probably left "folks" out of a sentence like that.

“You know, it is important for us not to feel too sanctimonious in retrospect about the tough job that those folks had,” Obama said. “And a lot of those folks were working hard under enormous pressure and are real patriots.”


And some of them are war criminals.

Sorry if that's too fucking sanctimonious.

Re: Who watches the Watchmen?

Posted: Fri Aug 08, 2014 6:47 pm
by Thad
John Dean writes in Time about his new Watergate book The Nixon Defense (affiliate link), for which he transcribed hundreds (thousands?) of hours of Nixon tapes.

The article focuses on the fundamental question of why Nixon made so many bad decisions in his handling of the Watergate revelations.

While working on this book, I became aware of a number studies conducted after Watergate, research with well-tested findings by psychologists and economists who examined risk-taking and decision-making by people in a “loss frame”—that is, a situation in which none of the options is good. Study after study demonstrated how decision-making becomes remarkably illogical in conditions like that which the president faced in Watergate. Nixon, who boasts during the recorded conversations of this period of his prowess as a poker player, initially tried to bluff his way through the scandal with small bets. As he kept losing, however, the more exposed he became, and the more he was inclined to risk. Nixon’s defenses were, in effect, a series of increasingly bad bets.


Sounds like a good book.

Re: Who watches the Watchmen?

Posted: Fri Aug 08, 2014 11:24 pm
by Caithness
I was having a conversation with Kfroog a while ago about Watergate, wondering why he even felt the need to cheat when he would have won in a landslide anyway. The conclusion was that maybe he had never actually won an election without cheating before.

Re: Who watches the Watchmen?

Posted: Mon Aug 11, 2014 11:02 am
by Thad
Well, and never underestimate just how incredibly fucking petty and vindictive the man was. As brighter folks than I have pointed out, Watergate wasn't really about a break-in at a hotel, it was about a President who used his own secret police force to retaliate against people on his actual, literal Enemies List.

Mark Evanier (who's a big Watergate buff) added this:

Even when he clearly had the '72 election in the proverbial bag, he and his men were still willing to cast ethics aside and even hijack campaign donations that might have gone to elect more Republicans, just to run up the score and extract some vengeance from anyone who'd ever opposed or faulted him. It was the "them or us" mindset that ultimately became self-destructive.

Years after Watergate, I worked on a TV show where the producer/showrunner had a seething hatred for The Network. Every third sentence out of his mouth was about how inept and treacherous The Network was and I found myself not only on staff but within a kind of "bunker mentality" founded on contempt for those outside the bunker.

Within this environment, if you somehow failed at your assignment, it was not acceptable to go to the producer and say, "Sorry, I couldn't do it." What you had to say, as everyone learned, was: "I had it working but then those assholes at The Network sabotaged me." That was not only acceptable but it endeared you to the producer. You were part of the team, having spilled blood in the war that he fought day and night on the show…and sometimes in his mind.

[...]

I watched this for a few weeks with the nagging feeling I knew it from somewhere and then it hit me: The Talent Coordinator blaming The Network for not being able to book Charo was like the Nixon White House Aide blaming The Press for his inability to carry out some presidential order. (The Nixon by Nixon documentary on HBO includes an excerpt from the tapes with Nixon saying over and over, "The press is the enemy! The press is the enemy!") One of the reasons Nixon hated his enemies so was that he was always willing, maybe even eager to believe they were screwing him.

There's a quote from some famous general about how to key to success in battle is to neither overestimate nor underestimate your enemy. You can get killed making either mistake, though underestimating is usually the greater error. In the entire tale of Richard M. Nixon, I've seen only one moment when he seemed to buy into that. It was that moment in his farewell speech where he said goodbye to the White House staff before flying off to exile. He said…

Always remember that others may hate you but those who hate you don't win unless you hate them. And then you destroy yourself.


That sounds like an admission that he'd done just that but I wonder. With Nixon, you always had to wonder.

Re: Who watches the Watchmen?

Posted: Wed Sep 10, 2014 1:45 am
by Thad
Microsoft asks to be held in contempt of court rather than give up customer E-Mails. The contempt citation allows it to expedite its appeal.

If you'd told me 15 years ago that there would be a story of Microsoft being cited for contempt of court and I'd be rooting for Microsoft...man, we live in strange times.

Re: Who watches the Watchmen?

Posted: Fri Sep 12, 2014 10:00 am
by Mothra
U.S. Threatened To Fine Yahoo $250K A Day If It Didn't Release User Data

The documents, roughly 1,500 pages worth, outline a secret and ultimately unsuccessful legal battle by Yahoo to resist the government's demands. The company's loss required Yahoo to become one of the first to begin providing information to PRISM, a program that gave the National Security Agency extensive access to records of online communications by users of Yahoo and other U.S.-based technology firms.

The ruling by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review became a key moment in the development of PRISM, helping government officials to convince other Silicon Valley companies that unprecedented data demands had been tested in the courts and found constitutionally sound. Eventually most major American tech companies complied, including Google, Facebook, Apple and AOL. Microsoft had joined earlier, before the ruling, NSA documents have shown.


Thank fucking god for Snowden.

Re: Who watches the Watchmen?

Posted: Wed Oct 01, 2014 5:43 pm
by Thad
Retired NSA Technical Director Explains Snowden Docs

Via Stross:
It's quite long, and it's a transcript of a lecture (with slides), but it's well worth persisting. In particular, do not give up before you get to the explanation of the term "parallel reconstruction" and see what certain agencies are using it for.


tl;dr? "Parallel construction" is when they investigate somebody via unconstitutional means and then work backwards to find a way to discover the same information that will be admissible in court.

And I'm sure you'll be shocked to learn that it's being used by the DEA.

Re: Who watches the Watchmen?

Posted: Wed Oct 01, 2014 6:28 pm
by Mothra
Hooo-leeee shit.

Re: Who watches the Watchmen?

Posted: Wed Oct 01, 2014 6:38 pm
by Thad
It's well worth reading the whole thing. Obviously a former NSA Technical Director has his biases, but his perspective is valuable. Among other things, he notes that, post-9/11, we've (1) thrown out the due process safeguards we used to have for this sort of data-mining and (2) started gathering far more data than is useful. If you search the entire transcript for "Trafficthief", you'll find a diagram of a pyramid with 4 different databases on it. Binney says that Trafficthief is the only one of the four that's useful; the other 3 are a huge waste of resources and actually counterproductive.

Then in PINWALE, they say, "content select from dictionary terms." This would mean, "My guys use these terms." Like if you remember the DHS term list of things, like "pork" was one word in there.

Idiots. So if you send an email home to your wife and say, "Honey, let's have pork tonight for dinner." You got sucked up by DHS. That's kind of idiocy-- it's called dictionary select.

This is like a Google search. This buries you in data, you can never get through this. It's a waste of time.

So but they're calling it getting greater or higher capability getting information, this is absurd. This is how you bury your analysts. And the same gets down here with MARINA and you know, and it's the same thing, and then down bar and the XKEYSCORE that means it goes into all the databases, pulling out the keywords and all that, everything all together. And so now you're really dumping on your analysts. So these are all idiots. And these are the engineers doing it, so.