Tag Archives: NSA

NSA Has Been Tracking Bitcoin Users Since 2013, New Snowden Documents Reveal, by Tyler Durden

So much for the anonymity of cryptocurrencies, which was always oversold. More worrisome, other intelligence agencies are using information the NSA sweeps up to make criminal cases. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

During his 2015 trial, Silk Road creator Ross Ulbricht’s defense attorneys raised questions about the government’s case that, although they were ultimately disregarded by the jury, have continued to bother crypto users with an affinity for so-called “conspiracy theories.” They pointed out vagaries in the FBI’s account of its years-long pursuit of Ulbricht, and questioned whether the bureau had truly discovered Ulbricht’s involvement on its own, or whether it had help from other deep state elements, namely the National Security Agency.

Of course, the judge, who eventually sentenced Ulbricht to life in prison without the possibility of parole, refused to entertain their argument. But if they were correct, it would mean that the government’s whole case was built on evidence that was ultimately inadmissible.

As it turns out, Ulbricht’s lawyers were on to something.

In a blockbuster report published Tuesday in the Intercept, reporter Sam Biddle cited several documents included in the massive cache of stolen NSA documents that showed that the agency has been tracking bitcoin users since 2013, and has potentially been funneling some of this information to other federal agencies. Or, as Biddle puts it, maybe the conspiracy theorists were right.

It turns out the conspiracy theorists were onto something. Classified documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden show that the National Security Agency indeed worked urgently to target Bitcoin users around the world – and wielded at least one mysterious source of information to “help track down senders and receivers of Bitcoins,” according to a top-secret passage in an internal NSA report dating to March 2013. The data source appears to have leveraged the NSA’s ability to harvest and analyze raw, global internet traffic while also exploiting an unnamed software program that purported to offer anonymity to users, according to other documents.

Using its ability to siphon data directly from the fiber-optic cables, the NSA managed to develop a system for tracing transactions that went well beyond simple blockchain analysis. The agency relied on a program called MONKEYROCKET, a sham Internet-anonymizing service that, according to the documents, was primarily deployed in Asia, Africa and South America with the intention of thwarting terrorists.

The documents indicate that “tracking down” Bitcoin users went well beyond closely examining Bitcoin’s public transaction ledger, known as the Blockchain, where users are typically referred to through anonymous identifiers; the tracking may also have involved gathering intimate details of these users’ computers.

The NSA collected some Bitcoin users’ password information, internet activity, and a type of unique device identification number known as a MAC address, a March 29, 2013 NSA memo suggested. In the same document, analysts also discussed tracking internet users’ internet addresses, network ports, and timestamps to identify “BITCOIN Targets.”

To continue reading: NSA Has Been Tracking Bitcoin Users Since 2013, New Snowden Documents Reveal

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Happy Anniversary, James Clapper, by Jonathan Turley

James Clapper looks like one of those bureaucratic cretins from an Ayn Rand novels. At best he’s one notch above a non-entity. From Jonathan Turley at  jonathanturley.org:

220px-James_R._Clapper_official_portrait

Today is an important anniversary for former intelligence chief James Clapper. No it is not his marriage anniversary or conventional milestone.  Clapper can celebrate the running out of the statute of limitations on his alleged perjury before Congress — five years and Clapper is now beyond the reach of the law.

I recently wrote a column on the approaching anniversary and how it reaffirms the widely held view that powerful people in Washington are immune from laws used against the rest of society.

Clapper appeared before the Senate to discuss surveillance programs in the midst of a controversy over warrantless surveillance of the American public. He was asked directly, “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions, or hundreds of millions of Americans?” There was no ambiguity or confusion and Clapper responded, “No, sir. … Not wittingly.” That was a lie and Clapper knew it when he said it.

Later, Clapper said that his testimony was “the least untruthful” statement he could make. That would still make it a lie of course but Clapper is a made guy. While feigned shock and disgust, most Democratic leaders notably did not call for his prosecution. Soon Clapper was back testifying and former president Obama even put Clapper on a federal panel to review the very programs that he lied about in Congress. Clapper is now regularly appearing on cable shows which, for example, used Clapper’s word as proof that Trump was lying in saying that there was surveillance of Trump Tower carried out by President Barack Obama. CNN and other networks used Clapper’s assurance without ever mentioning that he previously lied about surveillance programs.

News organizations now regularly feature Clapper who has denounced Donald Trump and members of his government, as discussed in an earlier column.

It is the latest chapter in America’s Animal Farm as average citizens are criminally charged with small discrepancies in statements to investigators while people like Clapper and David Petraeus and Sandy Berger are protected from serious repercussions for alleged criminal acts.

To continue reading: Happy Anniversary, James Clapper

How the Establishment Undermines American Democracy, by Philip M. Giraldi

Federal intelligence and law enforcement agencies have become partisan political actors. From Philip M. Giraldi at strategic-culture.org:

There is a growing consensus among many observers in Washington that the national security agencies have become completely politicized over the past seventeen years and are now pursuing selfish agendas that actually endanger what remains of American democracy. Up until recently it has been habitual to refer to such activity as the Deep State, which is perhaps equivalent to the Establishment in that it includes financial services, the media, major foundations and constituencies, as well as lobbying groups, but we are now witnessing an evolutionary process in which the national security regime is exercising power independently.

In a devastating critique former Central Intelligence Agency operations officer John Kiriakou has described how the Democratic Party, as part of its frenzied effort to bring down President Donald Trump, has embraced a whole group of former intelligence and law enforcement officers who appear to be on the same side in seeking a more responsible and accountable executive branch but who are in reality pursuing their own agenda.

Formerly intelligence and law enforcement agencies acted under the direction of the White House but without any political bias. Transitions from Democratic to Republican administrations were consequently seamless for the employees of CIA, FBI, DIA and the NSA, but this has changed. In the 2016 election a line-up of retired senior officers from those organizations openly supported the Clinton campaign and even went so far as to construct elaborate conspiracy theories regarding Trump and his associates, including the claim that Donald Trump is actually an agent of Russia.

The desire to discredit and ultimately delegitimize Trump even involved some active duty senior officers, including John Brennan, Director of CIA, who exploited Agency relationships with foreign intelligence services to develop information on Trump, and James Comey of the FBI who initiated an investigation of Trump’s associates. Both were involved in the later surfacing of the notorious Steele Dossier, a collection of fact mixed with fiction that sought to destroy the Trump presidency even before it began.

To continue reading: How the Establishment Undermines American Democracy

 

The NSA Is a Blackmail Agency, by Paul Craig Roberts

One reason that Republican members of the House might vote against release of the FISA memo is because they’re being blackmailed. From Paul Craig Roberts at paulcraigroberts.com:

The main function of the National Security Administration is to collect the dirt on members of the house and senate, the staffs, principal contributors, and federal judges. The dirt is used to enforce silence about the crimes of the security agencies.

The blackmail mechanism was put into gear the minute the news reported that the House Intelligence Committee had assembled proof that the FBI, DOJ, and DNC created Russiagate as a conspiracy to unseat President Trump. Members of Congress with nothing to hide demanded the evidence be released to the public. Of course, it was to be expected that release of the facts would be denounced by Democrats, but Republicans, such as Rep. Mike Conaway (R, Texas), himself a member of the committee, joined in the effort to protect the Democrats and the corrupt FBI and DOJ from exposure. Hiding behind national security concerns, Conaway opposes revealing the classified information. “That’d be real dangerous,” he said. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/48637.htm

As informed people know, 95% of the information that is classified is for purposes that have nothing to do with national security. The House Intelligence Committee memo has no information in it related to any security except that of Comey, Brennan, Clapper, Hillary, Obama, Mueller, Rosenstein, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, the DNC, and the presstitute media. The logical assumption is that every member of Congress opposed to informing the American public of the Russiagate conspiracy to unseat the President of the United States is being blackmailed by the security agencies who planned, organized, and implemented the conspiracy against the President of the United States and American democracy.

American insouciance is a great enabler of the ability of the security agencies and their media whores to control the explanations.

https://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2018/01/21/nsa-blackmail-agency/

NSA deleted surveillance data it pledged to preserve, by Josh Gerstein

Go into an IRS audit and see how the auditors react if you tell them you lost or inadvertently destroyed your financial records. It probably won’t get you out of trouble if you tell them how sorry you are. However, there’s a completely different standard for the NSA. From Josh Gerstein at politico.com:

The agency tells a federal judge that it is investigating and ‘sincerely regrets its failure.’

The National Security Agency destroyed surveillance data it pledged to preserve in connection with pending lawsuits and apparently never took some of the steps it told a federal court it had taken to make sure the information wasn’t destroyed, according to recent court filings.

Word of the NSA’s foul-up is emerging just as Congress has extended for six years the legal authority the agency uses for much of its surveillance work conducted through U.S. internet providers and tech firms. President Donald Trump signed that measure into law Friday.

Since 2007, the NSA has been under court orders to preserve data about certain of its surveillance efforts that came under legal attack following disclosures that President George W. Bush ordered warrantless wiretapping of international communications after the 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S. In addition, the agency has made a series of representations in court over the years about how it is complying with its duties.

However, the NSA told U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey White in a filing on Thursday night and another little-noticed submission last year that the agency did not preserve the content of internet communications intercepted between 2001 and 2007 under the program Bush ordered. To make matters worse, backup tapes that might have mitigated the failure were erased in 2009, 2011 and 2016, the NSA said.

“The NSA sincerely regrets its failure to prevent the deletion of this data,” NSA’s deputy director of capabilities, identified publicly as “Elizabeth B.,” wrote in a declaration filed in October. “NSA senior management is fully aware of this failure, and the Agency is committed to taking swift action to respond to the loss of this data.”

In the update Thursday, another NSA official said the data were deleted during a broad, housecleaning effort aimed at making space for incoming information. 

To continue reading: NSA deleted surveillance data it pledged to preserve

Did Donald Trump Change His Mind on Domestic Spying? by Andrew P. Napolitano

President Trump and Attorney General Sessions have been abysmal on civil liberties. From Andrew P. Napolitano at lewrockwell.com:

Late last week, Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, repeated his public observations that members of the intelligence community — particularly the CIA, the NSA and the intelligence division of the FBI — are not trustworthy with the nation’s intelligence secrets. Because he has a security clearance at the “top secret” level and knows how others who have access to secrets have used and abused them, his allegations are extraordinary.

He pointed to the high-ranking members of the Obama administration who engaged in unmasking the names of some people whose communications had been captured by the country’s domestic spies and the revelation of those names for political purposes. The most notable victim of this lawlessness is retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, a transcript of whose surveilled conversation with then-Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak found its way into print in The Washington Post.

During the George W. Bush and Barack Obama years, captured communications — digital recordings of telephone conversations and copies of emails and text messages — did not bear the names of those who sent or received them. Those names were stored in a secret file. The revelation of those names is called unmasking.

Nunes also condemned the overt pro-Hillary Clinton bias and anti-Trump prejudice manifested by former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former FBI Director James Comey and their agents in the field, some of whose texts and emails we have seen. The secrets that he argued were used for political purposes had been obtained by the National Security Agency pursuant to warrants issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Yet Nunes voted to enhance federal bulk surveillance powers.

Bulk surveillance — which is prohibited by the Constitution — is the acquisition of digital versions of telephone, email and text communications based not on suspicion or probable cause but rather on geography or customer status. As I have written before, one publicly available bulk surveillance warrant was for all Verizon customers in the United States; that’s 115 million people, many of whom have more than one phone and at least one computer. And it is surveillance of Americans, not foreigners as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act contemplates.

To continue reading: Did Donald Trump Change His Mind on Domestic Spying?

The Information-Industrial Complex, by James Corbett

If you liked “The Friendly Faces of Fascism” you’ll love this article. From James Corbett at corbettreport.com:

Half a century ago, outgoing President Dwight D. Eisenhower coined the term “military-industrial complex” to describe the fascistic collusion between the Pentagon and America’s burgeoning armaments industry. But in our day and age we are witnessing the rise of a new collusion, one between the Pentagon and the tech industry that it helped to seed, that is committed to waging a covert war against people the world over. Now, in the 21st century, it is time to give this new threat a name: the information-industrial complex.

TRANSCRIPT

When WWII ended and the American deep state welded the national security establishment into place with the National Security Act, the world entered into a new era: the era of the military-industrial complex. But when the Cold War ended and the “Clash of Civilizations” became the new existential threat, the deep state found an opening for another paradigm shift. As the all-pervasive threat of terrorism became the carte blanche for total surveillance, the powers-that-shouldn’t-be found the organizing principal of our age would not be military hardware, but data itself. Welcome to the age of the information-industrial complex.

This is The Corbett Report.

Of all the things that President Dwight D. Eisenhower did during his years in office, it is for a single phrase from his farewell address that he is best remembered today: “the military-industrial complex.”

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

It is not difficult to see why these words passed so quickly into the political lexicon. Think of their explanatory power.

Why did the US use inflated estimates of Russian missile capabilities to justify stockpiling a nuclear arsenal that was more than sufficient to destroy the planet several times over?

The military-industrial complex.

Why did America send 50,000 of its own to fight and die in the jungles of Vietnam, killing untold millions of Vietnamese (not to mention Cambodians)?

The military-industrial complex.

Why did the US use the public’s fear and anger over 9/11 and a phony panic over non-existent weapons of mass destruction to justify the illegal invasion and trillion-dollar occupation of Iraq?

The military-industrial complex.

Why did Nobel Peace Prize laureate Obama expand the fictitious “war on terror” into Pakistan and Yemen and Somalia, refuse to close Guantanamo despite his earlier promises to the contrary, commit US forces to “kinetic military action” in Libya without so much as seeking Congressional approval, and launch a new era of covert drone warfare?

The military-industrial complex.

To continue reading the transcript: The Information-Industrial Complex