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Thread: Obama Administration NSA Spying on Americans

  1. #261
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    Default Re: Obama seizing Verizon phone records

    Snowden seeks temporary asylum in Russia

    Anna Arutunyan and Doug Stanglin, USA TODAY 10:47 a.m. EDT July 12, 2013

    NSA leaker Edward Snowden spoke at Moscow airport during a meeting with human rights groups.






    MOSCOW — Edward Snowden, the alleged National Security Agency leaker, said Friday at a meeting with human rights groups that he is asking for temporary asylum in Russia while he attempts to win permanent political asylum in a Latin American country.


    Snowden expressed his intentions during a meeting with representatives of 13 human rights groups.


    According to Tatyana Lokshina of Human Rights Watch, Snowden seeks to stay in Russia because he "can't fly to Latin America yet," RT.com reports.


    Snowden, who fled to Hong Kong after leaking information on NSA's worldwide surveillance and data-gathering networks, has applied for asylum in more than two dozen countries. Bolivia and Venezuelan have offered to accept him.


    Lawmaker Vyacheslav Nikonov, chairman of the Russian state Duma also confirmed Snowden's intentions after he and a dozen other prominent officials and activists met with Snowden in the transit zone of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport, where he has been marooned since June 23.


    Also at the meeting were Sergei Nikitin, head of Amnesty International Russia, Vladimir Lukin, Russia's presidential human rights ombudsman, and attorney Genri Reznik.
    Snowden said he is ready to ask Russia for political asylum and that he "does not intend to harm the U.S. in the future," according to Nikonov.


    "No actions I take or plan are meant to harm the U.S. .. I want the U.S. to succeed," Snowden said, RT.comr reports.


    Dmitry Peskov, the spokesman for Putin, told Russian news agencies after the announcement Friday that Russia has not received a new bid for asylum from Snowden and that Putin would continue to insist that Snowden stop leaking information.


    Snowden says the government in Western Europe and North American are acting outside the law by preventing him from traveling and called on the rights activists to intervene with Putin on his behalf, Lokshina said.


    The United States has revoked Snowden's passport.


    RELATED STORY: NSA fears Snowden saw details of China spying



    Snowden in a statement before the meeting thathe had invited the groups "for a brief statement and discussion regarding the next steps forward in my situation."


    The emailed invitation from edsnowden@lavabit.com also states: "I have been extremely fortunate to enjoy and accept many offers of support and asylum from brave countries around the world. These nations have my gratitude, and I hope to travel to each of them to extend my personal thanks to their people and leaders."


    In the Invitation Snowden claims that the U.S. government is trying to "deny my right to seek and enjoy this asylum under Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The scale of threatening behavior is without precedent."


    Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, said that the Kremlin has not been invited to the meeting.


    Snowden arrived in Russia on June 23 but has not been seen in public despite being believed to be in the airport's transit zone while bidding for asylum. Friday's developments therefore offer an opportunity to confirm that Snowden is still in Russia.


    Snowden is thought to be seeking refuge in a Latin American country, with Venezuela the current front-runner even though President Nicolas Maduro has said that no formal application has been made.


    The American Civil LIberties Union, meanwhile, issued a statement Thursday asserting that the former defense contractor "has serious claims for asylum and has a legitimate right to seek asylum irrespective of the human rights record of the country that he ultimately ends up in."


    The statement charges that the USA has interfered with Snowden's right to seek asylum by revoking his passport and appears to have prevented him from receiving fair and impartial consideration of his application in many of the countries to which he has applied.


    Jamil Dakwar, director of the ACLU human rights program, and Chandra Bhatnaqar, senior attorney for the progam, also warn that by infringing on Snowden's right to asylum, "U.S. actions also create the risk of providing cover for other countries to crack down on whistleblowers and deny asylum to individuals who have exposed illegal activity or human rights violations.


    "That's a very dangerous precedent to set," the statement says.
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    Default Re: Obama seizing Verizon phone records

    07.14.13
    by wkchild

    Greenwald: “The US Government Should Be On Its Knees Every Day Praying That Nothing Happens To Snowden”

    Submitted by Tyler Durden on 07/13/2013 – 19:43

    Edward Snowden may be America’s persona most non grata in the entire world, but he has an insurance policy against “accidents”: a treasure trove of supposedly damaging secrets about the US that will hit the public domain if something were to happen to the 30 year old whistleblower. A trove is so damaging that according to Glenn Greenwald, Snowden “poses more of a threat to the U.S. than anyone in the country’s history.” Well, maybe a threat to the “government” which now only represents the interests of various corporations and Wall Street, but certainly not to what the US was supposed to be before it was hijacked by special interests, lobbies and the creature from Jekyll Island.
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  3. #263
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    Default Re: Obama seizing Verizon phone records

    Congressman in 1999: “NSA [Has Been] Conducting a Broad ‘Dragnet’ of Communications, and ‘Invading the Privacy of American Citizens’”

    Posted on July 12, 2013 by WashingtonsBlog
    Top American Officials Have Warned for Decades that Mass Surveillance by the NSA Would Lead to Tyranny

    We’ve repeatedly pointed out that massive surveillance of the American people started before 9/11 .


    That includes tapping undersea cables providing telephone and Internet service to the United States.


    As the BBC reported in 1999, it went much deeper than that :

    Imagine a global spying network that can eavesdrop on every single phone call, fax or e-mail, anywhere on the planet.
    It sounds like science fiction, but it’s true.


    Two of the chief protagonists – Britain and America – officially deny its existence. But the BBC has confirmation from the Australian Government that such a network really does exist and politicians on both sides of the Atlantic are calling for an inquiry.


    On the North Yorkshire moors above Harrogate … is the world’s most sophisticated eavesdropping technology, capable of listening-in to satellites high above the earth.


    The base is linked directly to the headquarters of the US National Security Agency (NSA) at Fort Mead in Maryland, and it is also linked to a series of other listening posts scattered across the world, like Britain’s own GCHQ.


    The power of the network, codenamed Echelon, is astounding.


    Every international telephone call, fax, e-mail, or radio transmission can be listened to by powerful computers capable of voice recognition. They home in on a long list of key words, or patterns of messages. They are looking for evidence of international crime, like terrorism.
    ***
    The man who oversees Australia’s security services, Inspector General of Intelligence and Security Bill Blick, has confirmed to the BBC that their Defence Signals Directorate (DSD) does form part of the network.


    ***
    Journalist Duncan Campbell has spent much of his life investigating Echelon. In a report commissioned by the European Parliament he produced evidence that the NSA snooped on phone calls from a French firm bidding for a contract in Brazil. They passed the information on to an American competitor, which won the contract.


    “There’s no safeguards, no remedies, ” he said, “There’s nowhere you can go to say that they’ve been snooping on your international communications. Its a totally lawless world.”



    ***
    Republican Congressman Bob Barr has persuaded congress to open hearings into these and other allegations.
    In December he is coming to Britain to raise awareness of the issue. In an interview with the BBC he accused the NSA of conducting a broad “dragnet” of communications, and “invading the privacy of American citizens.”
    Sound familiar?


    Remember, the NSA and FBI spied on the 9/11 hijackers before 9/11, and top counter-terrorism experts say that mass surveillance doesn’t keep us safe.
    But, hey … it is good for certain things.


    Indeed, top American officials have been warning for 40 years that mass surveillance by the NSA would lead to tyranny.
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    Default Re: Obama seizing Verizon phone records

    07.14.13
    by wkchild

    The NSA Is Doing What King George Did to Colonial Americans

    Posted on July 13, 2013 by WashingtonsBlog
    NSA Spying Is the Kind of Thing Which Caused the Revolutionary War Against King George

    Georgetown professor of constitutional law wrote yesterday in the Wall Street Journal:
    With the NSA’s surveillance program, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has apparently secretly approved the blanket seizure of data on every American so this “metadata” can later provide the probable cause for a particular search. Such indiscriminate data seizures are the epitome of “unreasonable,” akin to the “general warrants” issued by the Crown to authorize searches of Colonial Americans.
    David Snyder provides a must-read historical summary at the Electronic Frontier Foundation:
    The government’s ongoing violation of fundamental civil liberties would have been very familiar to the men who gathered in 1791 to adopt the Bill of Rights. The Founding Fathers battled an 18th century version of the wholesale surveillance that the government is accused of doing today – an expansive abuse of power by King George II and III that invaded the colonists’ communications privacy.
    Using “writs of assistance” [another name for "general warrants"] the King authorized his agents to carry out wide-ranging searches of anyone, anywhere, and anytime regardless of whether they were suspected of a crime. These “hated writs”spurred colonists toward revolution and directly motivated James Madison’s crafting of the Fourth Amendment.
    [The U.S. Supreme Court noted in Stanford v. Texas: “Vivid in the memory of the newly independent Americans were those general warrants known as writs of assistance under which officers of the Crown had so bedeviled the colonists.” And the Supreme Court said in Marcus v. Search Warrant of Property: “The Bill of Rights was fashioned against the background of knowledge that unrestricted power of search and seizure could also be an instrument for stifling liberty of expression.”]
    We’ve now come full circle. The president has essentially updated this page from King George’s playbook, engaging in dragnet surveillance of millions of Americans, regardless of whether they are suspected of a crime.
    Read More @ washingtonsblog.com
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    Default Re: Obama seizing Verizon phone records

    15 July 2013 Last updated at 12:31 ET

    Fugitive Edward Snowden trapped in Russia - Putin


    Edward Snowden has sent asylum requests to 21 countries



    The US authorities have in effect trapped fugitive intelligence leaker Edward Snowden in Russia, President Vladimir Putin has said.


    But Mr Putin said Mr Snowden would leave if he was able to.


    The former intelligence analyst has been offered asylum in a number of Latin American states, but has no documents with which to leave the transit zone at Moscow airport.
    The US has charged Mr Snowden with leaking classified information.


    Mr Putin has refused to hand over the fugitive to the US authorities, but says he can only stay in Russia if he stops leaking secrets about US surveillance schemes.


    He said there were signs that Mr Snowden was "changing his position".


    However, he added that Mr Snowden did not want to stay in Russia but wanted to take up residence in "another country".


    'No invitation'

    Asked what Mr Snowden's future was, the Russian president said: "How should I know? It's his life."


    "He came to our territory without invitation. And we weren't his final destination... But the moment he was in the air... our American partners, in fact, blocked his further flight," he said.


    "They have spooked all the other countries, nobody wants to take him and in that way, in fact, they have themselves blocked him on our territory."


    Mr Snowden has been stuck in the transit area of Sheremetyevo airport - reportedly staying at the airport's Capsule Hotel - since arriving from Hong Kong on 23 June.


    The American has sent requests for political asylum to at least 21 countries, most of which have turned down his request. However, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Venezuela have indicated they could take him in.


    But he is unable to leave the transit zone without asylum documents, a valid passport or a Russian visa - he reportedly has none of these.


    And some European countries are likely to close their airspace to any plane suspected of carrying the fugitive.


    At a news conference on Friday, Mr Snowden said he was seeking temporary asylum in Russia before he could safely travel to Latin America. However, Moscow officials say they have so far received no such request.


    Mr Snowden's leaking of thousands of classified US intelligence documents has led to revelations that the National Security Agency is systematically seizing vast amounts of phone and web data.


    The documents have also indicated that both the UK and French intelligence agencies allegedly run similarly vast data collection operations, and the US has been eavesdropping on official EU communications.
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    Default Re: Obama Administration NSA Spying on Americans

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013...neous-response




    NSA legally 'off the tracks' says US congress
    DateJuly 18, 2013 - 1:15PM (0)
    Read laterSari Horwitz and William Branigin

    Washington: Lawmakers of both parties expressed deep scepticism on Wednesday about the government's bulk collection of Americans' telephone records and threatened not to renew the legislative authority that has been used to sanction a program described as "off the tracks legally."

    A congressional backlash appeared to be coalescing around the idea that the administration's interpretation of its powers far exceeds what lawmakers intended. At a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee, lawmakers forcefully pressed officials from the National Security Agency, the Justice Department, the FBI and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to justify the government's collection and storage of the communications records of vast numbers of Americans.

    "This is unsustainable, it's outrageous and must be stopped immediately," said John Conyers, the highest-ranking Democrat on the panel.

    Congressman James Sensenbrenner, who sponsored the Patriot Act that ostensibly authorised the collection, warned that the House might not renew Section 215 of the act, a key provision that gives the government its authority.

    "You've got to change how you operate 215 . . . or you're not going to have it anymore," Mr Sensenbrenner said.

    The sharp and sometimes angry questioning stood in sharp contrast to the tone of hearings on the surveillance programs by congressional intelligence committees in recent weeks. It also came as the government faces a growing number of legal challenges to its collection of "metadata" - information about the numbers called by Americans, the date and time of the calls, and how long those calls lasted.

    Intelligence officials insist that the program operates under tight guidelines and is overseen by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. They also insisted that the collection efforts have proven crucial to disrupting terrorist plots.

    Although many questions about the program remain, administration officials offered new details about the methodology used to analyse the data. For the first time, they suggested that when the government queries its database of phone records - as it did 300 times last year -- it was likely looking at the phone records of huge numbers of individuals.

    "The court has approved us to go out two or three 'hops,' " said NSA deputy director John Inglis. "And it's often at the second hop that information is gained that leads the FBI to investigate the person's contacts further."

    A "hop" refers to the way in which analysts broaden their analysis. When analysts believe they have cause to suspect an individual, they will look at everyone that person has contacted, called the first "hop" away from the target. Then, in a series of exponential ripples, they look at everyone all those secondary people communicated with. And from that pool, they go on to look at everyone all those tertiary people contacted. This is called a second and a third "hop."

    The ACLU's deputy legal director, Jameel Jaffer, said the NSA has been trying to make it seem like it peeks at the communications of a tiny subset of people, but with such hops, it has reviewed the communication patterns of millions of individuals.

    "The first hop takes you to 100 people the person called," Mr Jaffer said. "The second one takes you to 10,000. The third one takes you to a million."

    The ACLU was one of more than 50 signatories of a letter to be sent to President Obama and congressional leaders on Thursday calling for more disclosure about the scale of government surveillance requests to technology and telecommunications companies.

    Lawmakers said the surveillance effort, which was disclosed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, is too broad and intrusive.

    "I think very clearly this program has gone off the tracks legally and needs to be reined in," said California Democrat Zoe Lofgren.

    Deputy Attorney General James Cole said collected information does "not include names or other personal identifying information" and does not include the content of any phone calls." He added that the records are not protected by the Fourth amendment.

    Several lawmakers disagreed.

    "I maintain that the Fourth Amendment to be free from unreasonable search and seizure means that this metadata collected in such a super-aggregated fashion can amount to a Fourth Amendment violation before you do anything else," Mr Conyers said.

    A second program code-named PRISM, by contrast, "does collect content of communications," Mr Cole said, but it is aimed at non-Americans who are "reasonably believed to be overseas." The content of communications such as phone calls and emails can be collected when one person in the exchange is in the United States, provided that the communication was initiated by "a non-U.S. person, outside the United States," he said.

    A practice known as "reverse targeting," or indirectly obtaining Americans' communications by targeting foreigners located overseas, is explicitly prohibited, Mr Cole said.

    Mr Cole said the programs are legal and overseen by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Mr Cole also said the programs "achieved the right balance" between protecting Americans' safety and their privacy.

    "Both programs are conducted under laws passed by Congress," Mr Cole said.

    The 11 judges on the secret FISA court that approves surveillance "are far from rubber stamps," Mr Cole said. "They don't sign off until they are satisfied that we have met all statutory and constitutional requirements."

    But some lawmakers were not swayed by Mr Cole's explanation.

    "Could you go to the FISA court and argue that you had a right to obtain an individual's or every American's tax return?" asked Texan Republican Blake Farenthold. "Could you get at somebody's permanent record from school?"

    "If it was relevant to the investigation, you could go to the FISA court and ask..." Mr Cole began.

    "Could you get somebody's hotel records? Farenthold interrupted "Could you get my VISA MasterCard records? Can you get the GPS data from my phone too? Do I have a reasonable expectation of privacy in anything but maybe a letter I hand-deliver to my wife in a [Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility]?"

    In some of the cases, Cole answered that it would depend if it was relevant to a terrorism investigation.

    "Snowden, I don't like him at all," said Texas congressman Ted Poe, "but we would have never known what happened if he hadn't told us."

    Republican Bob Goodlatte, the chairman of the committee, said he was surprised the programs had been kept secret for so long.

    "Do you think a program of this magnitude gathering information involving a large number of people involved with telephone companies could be indefinitely kept secret from the American people?" Mr Goodlatte asked.

    "Well," said ODNI general counsel Robert Litt, with a slight smile. "We tried."

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    Default Re: Obama Administration NSA Spying on Americans

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013...neous-response

    Dan Roberts in Washington and Spencer Ackerman in New York guardian.co.uk, Monday 1 July 2013 16.16 EDT

    Clapper under pressure despite apology for 'erroneous' statements to CongressUS director of national intelligence has apologised for denying in March that the NSA collected data on millions of Americans but senator remains 'deeply troubled'

    The US director of national intelligence, James Clapper, has attempted to head off criticism that he lied to Congress over the extent of government surveillance on American citizens, with a letter to senators in which he apologised for giving "erroneous" information.

    Two weeks after telling NBC news that he gave the "least untruthful answer possible" at a hearing in March, Clapper wrote to the Senate intelligence committee to correct his response to a question about whether the National Security Agency "collected data on millions of Americans".

    But the US senator who asked the question, Ron Wyden, said on Monday that Clapper's office had admitted in private that his answer was wrong, after the March hearing. Yet the intelligence chief only corrected the record on 21 June, when disclosures by the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden prompted weeks of intense public pressure.

    "Senator Wyden is deeply troubled by a number of misleading statements senior officials have made about domestic surveillance in the past several years," said his spokesman, Tom Caiazza. "He will continue pushing for an open and honest debate about programs and laws that touch on the personal lives of ordinary Americans."

    In the March hearing, Wyden grew frustrated that he could not get a "direct answer" from Clapper about a question the senator said he had been posing to the intelligence agencies in a series of letters for a year: when do US spies need a warrant to surveil Americans' communications?

    "What I wanted to see is if you could give me a yes or no answer to the question: does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans," Wyden asked Clapper.

    The US director of national intelligence, James Clapper, has attempted to head off criticism that he lied to Congress over the extent of government surveillance on American citizens, with a letter to senators in which he apologised for giving "erroneous" information.

    Two weeks after telling NBC news that he gave the "least untruthful answer possible" at a hearing in March, Clapper wrote to the Senate intelligence committee to correct his response to a question about whether the National Security Agency "collected data on millions of Americans".

    But the US senator who asked the question, Ron Wyden, said on Monday that Clapper's office had admitted in private that his answer was wrong, after the March hearing. Yet the intelligence chief only corrected the record on 21 June, when disclosures by the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden prompted weeks of intense public pressure.

    "Senator Wyden is deeply troubled by a number of misleading statements senior officials have made about domestic surveillance in the past several years," said his spokesman, Tom Caiazza. "He will continue pushing for an open and honest debate about programs and laws that touch on the personal lives of ordinary Americans."

    In the March hearing, Wyden grew frustrated that he could not get a "direct answer" from Clapper about a question the senator said he had been posing to the intelligence agencies in a series of letters for a year: when do US spies need a warrant to surveil Americans' communications?

    "What I wanted to see is if you could give me a yes or no answer to the question: does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans," Wyden asked Clapper.

    He responded: "No, sir, not wittingly. There are cases where they could inadvertently, perhaps, collect, but not wittingly."

    After Snowden's disclosures in the Guardian threw a spotlight on Clapper's statement, he gave an interview to Andrea Mitchell of MSNBC, portions of which were first broadcast on 9 June. In the interview, Clapper explained the apparent inconsistency as a ploy to avoid revealing classified information.

    On 18 June, Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, accused Clapper directly of lying, pointed out that lying on oath to Congress was a crime, and questioned whether he could continue in his position.

    According to the latest revelation in the Washington Post on Monday, and confirmed by an Obama administration official, Clapper wrote to the Senate intelligence committee on 21 June, when he admitted directly that his answer was wrong. "My response was clearly erroneous – for which I apologize," Clapper said in the letter.

    Clapper appeared to row back from his MSNBC statement that his March answer was calculated to avoid betraying confidential information. In the letter, Clapper said that he had misunderstood the question.

    But Clapper did not say in the letter why he had taken him until June to correct the mistake. Senator Wyden's spokesman made it clear on Monday that the senator had made attempts to get Clapper to correct the record before the revelations in the Guardian, but was rebuffed. "Senator Wyden had a staff member contact the Office of the Director of National Intelligence on a secure phone line soon after the March hearing to address the inaccurate statement regarding bulk collection on Americans.

    "The ODNI acknowledged that the statement was inaccurate but refused to correct the public record when given the opportunity. Senator Wyden's staff informed the ODNI that this was a serious concern.

    "Senator Wyden continued to raise concerns about the government's reliance on secret law in the weeks following the hearing, prior to the Guardian publishing its first story several weeks later."

    A spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said on Monday: "Director Clapper has deep respect for the role of our oversight committees in both keeping our nation safe and ensuring the privacy of all Americans are protected. The intelligence community will continue to work all members of Congress to ensure the proper balance of privacy and protection for American citizens."

    In his MSNBC interview, Clapper said he believed Wyden's question was unfair, akin to asking him when he was going to stop beating his wife. "So I responded in what I thought was the most truthful, or least untruthful manner by saying no," Clapper said.

    In the later letter to the intelligence committee, Clapper acknowleded the "heated controversy" over his remark, and said he had misunderstood the original question. "I have thought long and hard to re-create what went through my mind at the time," Clapper said in the letter, according to the Washington Post.

    Wyden led bipartisan group of 26 senators who wrote to Clapper last week to complain that the administration is relying on a "secret body of law" to collect massive amounts of data on US citizens.

    The senators, including four Republicans, also accused intelligence chiefs of making a number of misleading statements which prevented proper public debate on the subject.

    "We are concerned that by depending on secret interpretations of the Patriot Act that differed from an intuitive reading of the statute, this program essentially relied for years on a secret body of law," they said.

    "This and misleading statements by intelligence officials have prevented our constituents from evaluating the decisions that their government was making, and will unfortunately undermine trust in government more broadly."

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    Default Re: Obama Administration NSA Spying on Americans

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013...-house-hearing

    NSA warned to rein in surveillance as agency reveals even greater scope

    NSA officials testify to angry House panel that agency can perform 'three-hop queries' through Americans' data and records

    The National Security Agency revealed to an angry congressional panel on Wednesday that its analysis of phone records and online behavior goes exponentially beyond what it had previously disclosed.

    John C Inglis, the deputy director of the surveillance agency, told a member of the House judiciary committee that NSA analysts can perform "a second or third hop query" through its collections of telephone data and internet records in order to find connections to terrorist organizations.

    "Hops" refers to a technical term indicating connections between people. A three-hop query means that the NSA can look at data not only from a suspected terrorist, but from everyone that suspect communicated with, and then from everyone those people communicated with, and then from everyone all of those people communicated with.

    Inglis did not elaborate, nor did the members of the House panel – many of whom expressed concern and even anger at the NSA – explore the legal and privacy implications of the breadth of "three-hop" analysis.

    But Inglis and other intelligence and law enforcement officials testifying before the committee said that the NSA's ability to query the data follows rules set by the secret Fisa court, although about two dozen NSA officials determine for themselves when those criteria are satisified.

    A document published last month by the Guardian detailing the history of the NSA's post-9/11 bulk surveillance on telephone and internet data refer to one- or two-hop analysis performed by NSA. The document, provided by ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden, does not explicitly mention three-hop analysis, nor does it clearly suggest that such analysis occurs.

    Wednesday's hearing was the second major public congressional hearing about the NSA's surveillance activities since the Guardian and the Washington Post disclosed some of them in early June. Unlike the previous hearing on June 18 before the House intelligence committee, members of the House judiciary committee aggressively questioned senior officials from the NSA, FBI, Justice Department and Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
    One senior member of the panel, congressman James Sensenbrenner, the author of the 2001 Patriot Act, warned the officials that unless they rein in the scope of their surveillance on Americans' phone records, "There are not the votes in the House of Representatives" to renew the provision after its 2015 expiration.

    "You're going to lose it entirely," Sensenbrenner said.

    Inglis and deputy attorney general James Cole repeatedly argued that the NSA's surveillance was limited because it only searches through its databases of phone records when it has a "reasonable, articulable suspicion" of a connection to terrorism.

    But several members of the committee, of both parties, said they were concerned not merely about the analysis of the phone records but about NSA's collection of millions of Americans' phone data in the first place, without an individual suspicion of connections to terrorism.
    "The statute says 'collection'," congressman Jerrold Nadler told Cole. "You're trying to confuse us by talking use."

    Congressman Ted Poe, a judge, said: "I hope as we move forward as a Congress we rein in the idea that it's OK to bruise the spirit of the constitution in the name of national security."

    Inglis, Cole and Robert Litt, the senior legal counsel for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, also argued that the surveillance activities were restricted by the oversight of Congress and the Fisa court. Legislators challenged both contentions.

    Congressman Spencer Bachus said he "was not aware at all" of the extent of the surveillance, since the NSA programs were primarily briefed to the intelligence committees of the House and Senate.

    Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren revealed that an annual report provided to Congress by the government about the phone-records collection, something cited by intelligence officials as an example of their disclosures to Congress, is "less than a single page and not more than eight sentences".

    Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, challenged Litt's contention that the Fisa court was "not a rubber stamp" by way of a baseball analogy. Jeffries noted that some of the greatest hitters in baseball history – the Cardinals' Stan Musial, the Red Sox's Ted Williams, the Tigers' Ty Cobb and the Yankees' Babe Ruth – did not hit more than four balls safely per 10 times at bat, for career batting averages ranging from Musial's .331 to Cobb's .366.

    He then noted that the Fisa court approves over 99% of government requests for surveillance – which would give the government a lifetime batting average of .999 – saying: "But you've taken the position that the Fisa court is an independent check."

    Litt, continuing the analogy, said that when the government submits a surveillance request or "throws a pitch", the Fisa court "says 'throw a little bit higher, a little more inside'" rather than ruling it out of the strike zone.

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    Default Re: Obama Administration NSA Spying on Americans

    The NSA Director walks into a bar.
    Bartender: I've got a new joke for you.
    NSA Director: Heard it.

  10. #270
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    Default Re: Obama Administration NSA Spying on Americans

    "The court has approved us to go out two or three 'hops,' " said NSA deputy director John Inglis. "And it's often at the second hop that information is gained that leads the FBI to investigate the person's contacts further."

    A "hop" refers to the way in which analysts broaden their analysis. When analysts believe they have cause to suspect an individual, they will look at everyone that person has contacted, called the first "hop" away from the target. Then, in a series of exponential ripples, they look at everyone all those secondary people communicated with. And from that pool, they go on to look at everyone all those tertiary people contacted. This is called a second and a third "hop."
    Hmmm

    Here’s an exponential growth function:

    y = a(1 + b)x
    • y: Final amount remaining over a period of time
    • a: The original amount
    • x: Time
    • The growth factor is (1 + b).
    • The variable, b, is percent change in decimal form.


    Ok, let me show you this.

    Baseline: 1 person connects to 10 people. Each of those 10 connect to 10 more. Each of those connect to another 10 and on the last hop ALL of the last group connects to yet another 10.

    If I am doing my math right, at the end of the 3rd hop 1331 people have been "touched". If you push that out to say, 12 hops, just for clarity, the number jumps to 3,138,428,376,721 people! Since that's a little more than lives on the entire planet, six hops would touch almost everyone in Colorado Springs and Denver Colorado at a total 1,771,561 (combined population of those two cities: 426,388 + 619,968 = 1046356

    While the NSA says "limited to 2 or 3 hops" this is really NOT the case, I'm certain. They would, if they saw someone on the 3rd hop of interest skip even further out to make the connections on THAT one guy, and then go out "another 3 hops". I'm betting on the fact they are trying to connect person X to a terrorist group, or to criminal activity and if they happen to run across anyone else who just happens to be doing something "questionable" (like running a Patriot web site, blog or is very outspoken, say... like most of us) they wouldn't hesitate to add us to the "list" to go and check OUR connections to several levels.


    There is a rather well known concept called "Six Degrees of Separation" which social media sites like FaceBook and Twitter are CLEARLY aware about.

    Facebook

    A Facebook platform application named "Six Degrees" was developed by Karl Bunyan, which calculates the degrees of separation between different people. It had over 5.8 million users, as seen from the group's page. The average separation for all users of the application is 5.73 degrees, whereas the maximum degree of separation is 12. The application has a "Search for Connections" window to input any name of a Facebook user, to which it then shows the chain of connections. In June 2009, Bunyan shut down the application, presumably due to issues with Facebook's caching policy; specifically, the policy prohibited the storing of friend lists for more than 24 hours, which would have made the application inaccurate.[24] A new version of the application became available at Six Degrees after Karl Bunyan gave permission to a group of developers led by Todd Chaffee to re-develop the application based on Facebook's revised policy on caching data
    In 2008 Microsoft "proved" the concept (http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology...internet.email) and essentially used global connections via the internet, examined something like 30 billion messages to do their proof. I'm not sure it's completely accurate, but the point is simple.

    If you are the NSA, and you datamine my telephone calls, you will find I talk to about 10 people on a regular basis (hence my initial number 10) and I actually have roughly 30 people stored in my phone. Some I don't talk to often, but I do text, call or message them in some manner (Ryan is one of those people). Now if each of those 10 talk to 10 and those 10 talk to 10 others eventually you connect to someone who is either a criminal, terrorist or a saint.

    No matter how it goes, it's invasive as hell. While it makes for an interesting experiment we're talking listening in, or finding out a LOT of about people by this data mining they are doing.
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  11. #271
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    Default Re: Obama Administration NSA Spying on Americans

    Alright, after I wrote the above (and laughed at the joke about the NSA director) I did some other looking, and someone has actually said something similar to what I said with graphics:

    Six degrees of separation, NSA-style


    photo: Shutterstock / Vaju Ariel



    Summary: Whether it’s ethically right or wrong to investigate deep into suspects’ networks of connections, the NSA certainly has the processing power to do it. “Three hops” away isn’t much when you can map potentially trillions of identities.
    tweet this

    Privacy watchers were quick to latch onto testimony by National Security Agency Deputy Director Chris Inglis Wednesday that the agency might be looking deeper into suspected terrorists contact networks than previously thought. The revelation, as reported by the Atlantic Wire, came during a Wednesday morning hearing during which Inglis said analysts look “two or three hops” — a full hop more than its previous statement of two hops — away from a target individual when investigating suspicious activity.
    In Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon parlance, that means the NSA is not just stopping at “a guy” in the following statement — my friend who knows a guy who knows Jack Black — but they’re also looking at Jack Black.
    It’s pretty clear why such news would have privacy advocates up in arms — the NSA is essentially saying it looks into the records of even more U.S. citizens without obtaining search warrants — but it might not be too surprising. Why else would the NSA have developed a graph-processing system capable of handling more than 4 trillion nodes (e.g., names and phone numbers) and more than 70 trillion edges (the connections between all those nodes)? The graph behind Facebook’s aptly named Graph Search function contains a mere billions of nodes and low trillions of edges.

    If there’s any consolation, though, it might be that the NSA limits its second- and third-degree investigations to only those really suspicious nodes. Graphs aren’t all about just showing connections, after all, but they can also highlight the relative weights of connections and whether communications are inbound or outbound. Applying an algorithm similar to Google’s PageRank algorithm, NSA analysts could determine who’s actually the most important people in any given network based on the number and significance of their connections.
    An example of scoring in PageRank. Source: Wikipedia Commons



    It’s possible we’ll hear even more about what the NSA is capable of and how much data it’s dealing with at our Structure: Europe conference Sept. 18 and 19 in London. Sqqrl CTO Adam Fuchs, who helped develop the NSA’s Accumulo database system, will be on stage talking about the outer limits of big data.


    Feature image courtesy of Shutterstock user Vaju Ariel.
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  12. #272
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    Default Re: Obama Administration NSA Spying on Americans

    An IRS employee illegally accessed Christine O’Donnell’s tax records while she was running for the Senate

    July 18, 2013

    tags: Christine O'Donnell, corruption, election, Eric Holder, government control, IRS, IRS scandal, IRS targeting, Mitt Romney, policies, Politics, President Obama, scandal, taxes



    Two days ago we learned that the IRS was improperly scrutinizing the tax records of at least four political candidates and/or donors (This is what they are admitting to at this point, I think we will learn it was much more extensive as time goes on) and today we might just have learned who one of the victims was.


    Shortly after announcing her decision to run for the Senate a tax lien was put on a house which the IRS thought belonged to Tea Party favorite Christine O’Donnell.

    Needless to say the left ran with this in an effort to paint O’Donnell as a tax cheat but there was one problem–she no longer owned the house so the lien was removed and chalked up to a computer glitch. But the damage was done and the left scored a victory. Move along, nothing to see here.


    Except there is something to see here.


    We now may have a partial answer to the question of which political candidates the IRS improperly scrutinized because it just so happens that on the day the lien was mistakenly put on a house that Christine O’Donnell no longer owned her tax records were breached by someone within the IRS.

    Now Mr. Martel, a criminal investigator for the Treasury Department’s inspector general for tax administration, was telling her that an official in Delaware state government had improperly accessed her records on that very same day.
    So much for that computer glitch excuse, this was an intentional and criminal act designed to bring down a political adversary of Barack Obama by whatever means necessary and it may have played some role in her demise.


    As bad as this is I believe it is only the tip of the iceberg because I believe one of the people whom the IRS illegally scrutinized was none other than Barack Obama’s opponent in the 2012 presidential election–Mitt Romney.


    I am speculating here but during the campaign Harry Reid made the claim that Mitt Romney paid no taxes during a ten year period and he claimed that the people who told him this had seen Mitt Romney’s tax returns. I want to know who gave Harry Reid this information and how they got it in the first place.


    But on top of that I want to know how high up in the chain of command the targeting of political candidates goes, because we are now learning in the case of the other IRS targeting scandal (of Tea Party and conservative groups) that contrary to the claim it was the work of rogue agents in the field the order came down from on high to send these applications to a person appointed by Barack Obama for a final decision. We know how that worked out and I think it is self-evident that the same applies here as well.


    Oh, by the way, Eric Holder has refused to have the Department of Injustice investigate this matter.
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  13. #273
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    Default Re: Obama Administration NSA Spying on Americans

    Consider this breaking news... this is kind of big. If it is true. I'm trying to verify this isn't some kind of a joke or something. I honestly think this is a joke... but let me look.

    Top NSA and DOJ Officials Have Fled the U.S. – Obama Admin. Files Espionage Charges

    Jul 19

    Posted by Wes Annac

    Thanks to Golden Age of Gaia.
    Photo: John Inglis


    Steve Beckow: This just in. Did they flee the law? Or are they whistleblowers whose testimony was arranged and they fled the law with the assistance of the Obama admin to escape the wrath of the Illuminati? After all, top government officials (especially security officials) cannot leave the country alone all that easily.


    Are the “espionage charges” designed to mask what’s really happening? Nothing ever is at it seems. We’ll ask AAM on Monday. Thanks to Mike.
    Top NSA and DOJ Officials Have Fled the U.S. – Obama Admin. Files Espionage Charges

    David Harris Gershon, Daily Kos, July 18, 2013

    http://freedom4um.com/cgi-bin/readart.cgi?ArtNum=156722

    In a stunning development, Deputy Director of the NSA, John Inglis, along with Assistant Attorney General, James Cole, have fled the United States after their participation in a contentious congressional meeting on Capitol Hill. In that meeting, both Inglis and Cole revealed that the depth of NSA spying far surpassed anything that whistleblower Edward Snowden has made public to date. The unauthorized leaks to Congress by Inglis and Cole, which exposed more about NSA spying than anything Snowden has revealed, shook congressional leaders to their core.


    The National Security Agency revealed to an angry congressional panel on Wednesday that its analysis of phone records and online behavior goes exponentially beyond what it had previously disclosed. [...] John C Inglis, the deputy director of the surveillance agency, told a member of the House judiciary committee that NSA analysts can perform “a second or third hop query” through its collections of telephone data and internet records in order to find connections to terrorist organizations.


    “Hops” refers to a technical term indicating connections between people. A three-hop query means that the NSA can look at data not only from a suspected terrorist, but from everyone that suspect communicated with, and then from everyone those people communicated with, and then from everyone all of those people communicated with.


    The Obama administration, blindsided by the leaks, immediately announced that the two would be charged under The Espionage Act, and declared them enemies of the state. Eric Holder, in a hastily convened press conference, admitted that the two had fled the United States on private jets immediately after the hearing, and that their whereabouts where unknown. He was, however, confident that the U.S. would bring them to justice.


    “The national security of the United States has been damaged by those leaks. The safety of the American people and safety of people in allied nations is at risk.” [...] “I am confident that the people who are responsible will be held accountable.”


    Rumors are that the two senior intelligence officials have fled to Venezuela, where like Snowden, it is anticipated they will seek asylum. However, much speculation is swirling at this stage regarding their location and fate. While President Obama, in a short session before reporters, said, “We won’t be scrambling any jets to catch these middle-aged leakers,” diplomatic channels were already furiously at work, trying to close off all international airspace. Updates on this story as details emerge will appear below the break.


    Updates (EST):



    11:01 pm – It has been confirmed by multiple sources that Inglis and Cole have fled to Hong Kong.


    Despite this revelation, mainstream media is fawning over news that Cole’s wife was once a hand model for Palmolive.


    10:24 pm – CNN is reporting, per an anonymous government source, that Inglis and Cole intentionally took their respective posts at the NSA and DOJ in order to leak surveillance information to Congress.


    “They engaged in a decades-long, career-building venture just for today’s leak,” the source said.


    9:57 pm – MSNBC pundit Melissa Harris-Perry has called for Inglis and Cole to return to the States and face the consequences of their actions, apparently already tired of talking about the two whistleblowers.


    “So come on home, John and James, so we could talk about, you know, something else,” Harris-Perry said.


    9:42 pm – As the world searches for two of the nation’s top intelligence officials, President Obama referred to them as “hackers” in a brief media appearance, attempting to recast the Deputy Director of the NSA and Assistant Attorney General as basement-dwelling, Ramen-noodle-eating cyber thieves who were never employed by the U.S. government or affiliated contractors.


    9:16 pm – David Gregory has asked this evening whether congressional leaders, who asked the questions that led to Inglis and Cole’s whistle-blowing, should be arrested.


    “It was just a question,” Gregory Tweeted after coming under fire for suggesting U.S. legislators be jailed for doing their jobs. “I was just echoing what others were wondering.”


    9:03 pm – After rumours began swirling that Inglis and Cole were aboard a plane with the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, several European nations closed off their airspace and forced Nazarbayev’s twin-engine aircraft to land in a field in Lithuania.


    “We have not been this humiliated since that Jew Borat’s movie!” screamed Nazarbayev after Lithuanian officials announced Inglis and Cole were not aboard the president’s plane.


    8:42 pm – Wikileaks has Tweeted that it has been in touch with Inglis and Cole, though refused to reveal their location or whether or not the organization is helping the two asylum seekers.


    8:24 pm – A furious Venezuela has denied that intelligence officials are in the country. “The airspace around Latin America is closed. Nobody can get in or out!”
    Last edited by American Patriot; July 19th, 2013 at 16:18.
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  14. #274
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    Default Re: Obama Administration NSA Spying on Americans

    Ok, found similar article on DailyKOS:

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/0...ionage-Charges

    Before it's News:

    http://beforeitsnews.com/alternative...e-2715338.html

    Not seeing crap in main stream press though.

    Ron Paul reporting:
    http://www.dailypaul.com/292989/deve...ionage-charges

    But it appears this is PURE fiction.....

    Why in God's name are people so frickin' stupid to post stuff like this? (Now don't think I'm stupid, I suspected it right off, but wanted to be sure).

    It IS possible this happened lol
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  15. #275
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    Default Re: Obama Administration NSA Spying on Americans

    So apparently all these people grabbed it and ran with it before vetting the source (Daily Kos? Ack)

    The story just made the rounds through the bloggers as if it were real.
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  16. #276
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    Default Re: Obama Administration NSA Spying on Americans

    America No Longer Has a Functioning Judicial System

    Posted on July 22, 2013 by WashingtonsBlog

    The Separation of Powers Which Define Our Democracy Have Been Destroyed

    The Department of Justice told a federal court this week that the NSA’s spying “cannot be challenged in a court of law”.
    (This is especially dramatic given that numerous federal judges and legal scholars – including a former FISA judge – say that the FISA spying “court” is nothing but a kangaroo court.)

    Also this week, the Department of Justice told a federal court that the courts cannot review the legality of the government’s assassination by drone of Americans abroad:
    “‘Are you saying that a US citizen targeted by the United States in a foreign country has no constitutional rights?’ [the judge] asked Brian Hauck, a deputy assistant attorney general. ‘How broadly are you asserting the right of the United States to target an American citizen?

    Where is the limit to this?’

    “She provided her own answer: ‘The limit is the courthouse door’ . . . .

    “‘Mr. Hauck acknowledged that Americans targeted overseas do have rights, but he said they could not be enforced in court either before or after the Americans were killed.’”

    (Indeed, the Obama administration has previously claimed the power to be judge, jury and executioner in both drone and cyber-attacks. This violates Anglo-Saxon laws which have been on the books in England and America for 800 years.)

    The Executive Branch also presents “secret evidence” in many court cases … sometimes even hiding the evidence from the judge who is deciding the case.

    Bush destroyed much of the separation of powers which made our country great. But under Obama, it’s gotten worse.
    For example, the agency which decides who should be killed by drone is the same agency which spies on all Americans.

    Daniel Ellsberg notes that even the Founding Fathers didn’t have to deal with a government claiming that it could indefinitely detain Americanseven on American soil.

    After Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Chris Hedges, journalist Naomi Wolf, Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg and others sued the government to enjoin the NDAA’s allowance of the indefinite detention of Americans – the judge asked the government attorneys 5 times whether journalists like Hedges could be indefinitely detained simply for interviewing and then writing about bad guys. The government refused to promise that journalists like Hedges won’t be thrown in a dungeon for the rest of their lives without any right to talk to a judge

    The Department of Justice has also tapped Congressional phones, and a high-level NSA whistleblower says that the NSA is spying on – and blackmailing – top government officials and military officers including all 9 Supreme Court justices.

    It’s not just the Executive Branch which has attacked the courts. For example, Congress passed a bill stripping courts of the power to review issues related to genetically modified foods.

    The Constitution is mortally mounded. While the “war on terror” is commonly cited as the excuse, most of the attacks on our rights started before 9/11. Indeed, the Founding Fathers warned 200 years ago that open-ended wars give the Executive an excuse to take away our liberties.
    Two former U.S. Supreme Court Justices have warned that America is sliding into tyranny. A former U.S. President, and many other high-level American officials agree.

    In addition to attacks on the judiciary by the White House and Congress, judges are voluntarily gutting the justice system … and laying down in lapdog-obeisance to D.C.

    For example, the Supreme Court ruled that if judges don’t like plaintiffs’ allegations of bad government actions, the judge can simply pre-judge and throw out the lawsuit before even allowing the party to conduct any discovery to prove their claims. This guts 220 years of Constitutional law, and makes it extremely difficult to challenge harmful government action in court.

    America has a “dual justice system … one for ordinary people and then one for people with money and enormous wealth and power”.

    Indeed, most Americans have less access to justice than Botswanans … and are more abused by police than Kazakhstanis.

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  17. #277
    Creepy Ass Cracka & Site Owner Ryan Ruck's Avatar
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    Default Re: Obama Administration NSA Spying on Americans

    Don't know that this is necessarily the NSA but it is the Obama Administration spying on Americans.


    Feds Tell Web Firms To Turn Over User Account Passwords

    Secret demands mark escalation in Internet surveillance by the federal government through gaining access to user passwords, which are typically stored in encrypted form

    July 25, 2013


    The U.S. government has demanded that major Internet companies divulge users' stored passwords, according to two industry sources familiar with these orders, which represent an escalation in surveillance techniques that has not previously been disclosed.

    If the government is able to determine a person's password, which is typically stored in encrypted form, the credential could be used to log in to an account to peruse confidential correspondence or even impersonate the user. Obtaining it also would aid in deciphering encrypted devices in situations where passwords are reused.

    "I've certainly seen them ask for passwords," said one Internet industry source who spoke on condition of anonymity. "We push back."

    A second person who has worked at a large Silicon Valley company confirmed that it received legal requests from the federal government for stored passwords. Companies "really heavily scrutinize" these requests, the person said. "There's a lot of 'over my dead body.'"

    Some of the government orders demand not only a user's password but also the encryption algorithm and the so-called salt, according to a person familiar with the requests. A salt is a random string of letters or numbers used to make it more difficult to reverse the encryption process and determine the original password. Other orders demand the secret question codes often associated with user accounts.

    A Microsoft spokesperson would not say whether the company has received such requests from the government. But when asked whether Microsoft would divulge passwords, salts, or algorithms, the spokesperson replied: "No, we don't, and we can't see a circumstance in which we would provide it."

    Google also declined to disclose whether it had received requests for those types of data. But a spokesperson said the company has "never" turned over a user's encrypted password, and that it has a legal team that frequently pushes back against requests that are fishing expeditions or are otherwise problematic. "We take the privacy and security of our users very seriously," the spokesperson said.

    A Yahoo spokeswoman would not say whether the company had received such requests. The spokeswoman said: "If we receive a request from law enforcement for a user's password, we deny such requests on the grounds that they would allow overly broad access to our users' private information. If we are required to provide information, we do so only in the strictest interpretation of what is required by law."

    Apple, Facebook, AOL, Verizon, AT&T, Time Warner Cable, and Comcast did not respond to queries about whether they have received requests for users' passwords and how they would respond to them.

    Richard Lovejoy, a director of the Opera Software subsidiary that operates FastMail, said he doesn't recall receiving any such requests but that the company still has a relatively small number of users compared with its larger rivals. Because of that, he said, "we don't get a high volume" of U.S. government demands.

    The FBI declined to comment.

    Some details remain unclear, including when the requests began and whether the government demands are always targeted at individuals or seek entire password database dumps. The Patriot Act has been used to demand entire database dumps of phone call logs, and critics have suggested its use is broader. "The authority of the government is essentially limitless" under that law, Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat who serves on the Senate Intelligence committee, said at a Washington event this week.

    Large Internet companies have resisted the government's requests by arguing that "you don't have the right to operate the account as a person," according to a person familiar with the issue. "I don't know what happens when the government goes to smaller providers and demands user passwords," the person said.

    An attorney who represents Internet companies said he has not fielded government password requests, but "we've certainly had reset requests -- if you have the device in your possession, than a password reset is the easier way."

    Cracking the codes


    Even if the National Security Agency or the FBI successfully obtains an encrypted password, salt, and details about the algorithm used, unearthing a user's original password is hardly guaranteed. The odds of success depend in large part on two factors: the type of algorithm and the complexity of the password.

    Algorithms, known as hash functions, that are viewed as suitable for scrambling stored passwords are designed to be difficult to reverse. One popular hash function called MD5, for instance, transforms the phrase "National Security Agency" into this string of seemingly random characters: 84bd1c27b26f7be85b2742817bb8d43b. Computer scientists believe that, if a hash function is well-designed, the original phrase cannot be derived from the output.

    But modern computers, especially ones equipped with high-performance video cards, can test passwords scrambled with MD5 and other well-known hash algorithms at the rate of billions a second. One system using 25 Radeon-powered GPUs that was demonstrated at a conference last December tested 348 billion hashes per second, meaning it would crack a 14-character Windows XP password in six minutes.

    The best practice among Silicon Valley companies is to adopt far slower hash algorithms -- designed to take a large fraction of a second to scramble a password -- that have been intentionally crafted to make it more difficult and expensive for the NSA and other attackers to test every possible combination.

    One popular algorithm, used by Twitter and LinkedIn, is called bcrypt. A 2009 paper (PDF) by computer scientist Colin Percival estimated that it would cost a mere $4 to crack, in an average of one year, an 8-character bcrypt password composed only of letters. To do it in an average of one day, the hardware cost would jump to approximately $1,500.

    But if a password of the same length included numbers, asterisks, punctuation marks, and other special characters, the cost-per-year leaps to $130,000. Increasing the length to any 10 characters, Percival estimated in 2009, brings the estimated cracking cost to a staggering $1.2 billion.

    As computers have become more powerful, the cost of cracking bcrypt passwords has decreased. "I'd say as a rough ballpark, the current cost would be around 1/20th of the numbers I have in my paper," said Percival, who founded a company called Tarsnap Backup, which offers "online backups for the truly paranoid." Percival added that a government agency would likely use ASICs -- application-specific integrated circuits -- for password cracking because it's "the most cost-efficient -- at large scale -- approach."

    While developing Tarsnap, Percival devised an algorithm called scrypt, which he estimates can make the "cost of a hardware brute-force attack" against a hashed password as much as 4,000 times greater than bcrypt.

    Bcrypt was introduced (PDF) at a 1999 Usenix conference by Niels Provos, currently a distinguished engineer in Google's infrastructure group, and David Mazières, an associate professor of computer science at Stanford University.

    With the computers available today, "bcrypt won't pipeline very well in hardware," Mazières said, so it would "still be very expensive to do widespread cracking."

    Even if "the NSA is asking for access to hashed bcrypt passwords," Mazières said, "that doesn't necessarily mean they are cracking them." Easier approaches, he said, include an order to extract them from the server or network when the user logs in -- which has been done before -- or installing a keylogger at the client.

    Questions of law

    Whether the National Security Agency or FBI has the legal authority to demand that an Internet company divulge a hashed password, salt, and algorithm remains murky.

    "This is one of those unanswered legal questions: Is there any circumstance under which they could get password information?" said Jennifer Granick, director of civil liberties at Stanford University's Center for Internet and Society. "I don't know."

    Granick said she's not aware of any precedent for an Internet company "to provide passwords, encrypted or otherwise, or password algorithms to the government -- for the government to crack passwords and use them unsupervised." If the password will be used to log in to the account, she said, that's "prospective surveillance," which would require a wiretap order or Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act order.

    If the government can subsequently determine the password, "there's a concern that the provider is enabling unauthorized access to the user's account if they do that," Granick said. That could, she said, raise legal issues under the Stored Communications Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

    Orin Kerr, a law professor at George Washington University and a former federal prosecutor, disagrees. First, he said, "impersonating someone is legal" for police to do as long as they do so under under court supervision through the Wiretap Act.


    Second, Kerr said, the possibility that passwords could be used to log into users' accounts is not sufficient legal grounds for a Web provider to refuse to divulge them. "I don't know how it would violate the Wiretap Act to get information lawfully only on the ground that the information might be used to commit a Wiretap violation," he said.

    The Justice Department has argued in court proceedings before that it has broad legal authority to obtain passwords. In 2011, for instance, federal prosecutors sent a grand jury subpoena demanding the password that would unlock files encrypted with the TrueCrypt utility.

    The Florida man who received the subpoena claimed the Fifth Amendment, which protects his right to avoid self-incrimination, allowed him to refuse the prosecutors' demand. In February 2012, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit agreed, saying that because prosecutors could bring a criminal prosecution against him based on the contents of the decrypted files, the man "could not be compelled to decrypt the drives."

    In January 2012, a federal district judge in Colorado reached the opposite conclusion, ruling that a criminal defendant could be compelled under the All Writs Act to type in the password that would unlock a Toshiba Satellite laptop.

    Both of those cases, however, deal with criminal proceedings when the password holder is the target of an investigation -- and don't address when a hashed password is stored on the servers of a company that's an innocent third party.

    "If you can figure out someone's password, you have the ability to reuse the account," which raises significant privacy concerns, said Seth Schoen, a senior staff technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

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    Default Re: Obama Administration NSA Spying on Americans


    Feds Put Heat On Web Firms For Master Encryption Keys

    Whether the FBI and NSA have the legal authority to obtain the master keys that companies use for Web encryption remains an open question, but it hasn't stopped the U.S. government from trying

    July 24, 2013

    The U.S. government has attempted to obtain the master encryption keys that Internet companies use to shield millions of users' private Web communications from eavesdropping.

    These demands for master encryption keys, which have not been disclosed previously, represent a technological escalation in the clandestine methods that the FBI and the National Security Agency employ when conducting electronic surveillance against Internet users.

    If the government obtains a company's master encryption key, agents could decrypt the contents of communications intercepted through a wiretap or by invoking the potent surveillance authorities of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Web encryption -- which often appears in a browser with a HTTPS lock icon when enabled -- uses a technique called SSL, or Secure Sockets Layer.

    "The government is definitely demanding SSL keys from providers," said one person who has responded to government attempts to obtain encryption keys. The source spoke with CNET on condition of anonymity.

    The person said that large Internet companies have resisted the requests on the grounds that they go beyond what the law permits, but voiced concern that smaller companies without well-staffed legal departments might be less willing to put up a fight. "I believe the government is beating up on the little guys," the person said. "The government's view is that anything we can think of, we can compel you to do."

    A Microsoft spokesperson would not say whether the company has received such requests from the government. But when asked whether Microsoft would turn over a master key used for Web encryption or server-to-server e-mail encryption, the spokesperson replied: "No, we don't, and we can't see a circumstance in which we would provide it."

    Google also declined to disclose whether it had received requests for encryption keys. But a spokesperson said the company has "never handed over keys" to the government, and that it carefully reviews each and every request. "We're sticklers for details -- frequently pushing back when the requests appear to be fishing expeditions or don't follow the correct process," the spokesperson said.

    Sarah Feinberg, a spokeswoman for Facebook, said that her employer has not received requests for encryption keys from the U.S. government or other governments. In response to a question about divulging encryption keys, Feinberg said: "We have not, and we would fight aggressively against any request for such information."
    Apple, Yahoo, AOL, Verizon, AT&T, Time Warner Cable, and Comcast declined to respond to queries about whether they would divulge encryption keys to government agencies.

    Richard Lovejoy, a director of the Opera Software subsidiary that operates FastMail, said: "Our interpretation is that we are prohibited by law from releasing our SSL key. In the event that we received such a request, we would refuse, for both legal and ethical reasons." Releasing the SSL key would be nearly "equivalent to allowing interception on all our users, which is clearly illegal," Lovejoy said.

    Encryption used to armor Web communications was largely adopted not because of fears of NSA surveillance -- but because of the popularity of open, insecure Wi-Fi networks. The "Wall of Sheep," which highlights passwords transmitted over networks through unencrypted links, has become a fixture of computer security conventions, and Internet companies began adopting SSL in earnest about three years ago.

    "The requests are coming because the Internet is very rapidly changing to an encrypted model," a former Justice Department official said. "SSL has really impacted the capability of U.S. law enforcement. They're now going to the ultimate application layer provider."

    An FBI spokesman declined to comment, saying the bureau does not "discuss specific strategies, techniques and tools that we may use."


    Top secret NSA documents leaked by former government contractor Edward Snowden suggest an additional reason to ask for master encryption keys: they can aid bulk surveillance conducted through the spy agency's fiber taps.

    One of the leaked PRISM slides recommends that NSA analysts collect communications "upstream" of data centers operated by Apple, Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, and other Internet companies. That procedure relies on a FISA order requiring backbone providers to aid in "collection of communications on fiber cables and infrastructure as data flows past."

    Mark Klein, who worked as an AT&T technician for over 22 years, disclosed in 2006 (PDF) that he met with NSA officials and witnessed domestic Internet traffic being "diverted" through a "splitter cabinet" to secure room 641A in one of the company's San Francisco facilities. Only NSA-cleared technicians were allowed to work on equipment in the SG3 secure room, Klein said, adding that he was told similar fiber taps existed in other major cities.


    But an increasing amount of Internet traffic flowing through those fiber cables is now armored against surveillance using SSL encryption. Google enabled HTTPS by default for Gmail in 2010, followed soon after by Microsoft's Hotmail. Facebook enabled encryption by default in 2012. Yahoo now offers it as an option.

    "Strongly encrypted data are virtually unreadable," NSA director Keith Alexander told (PDF) the Senate earlier this year.

    Unless, of course, the NSA can obtain an Internet company's private SSL key. With a copy of that key, a government agency that intercepts the contents of encrypted communications has the technical ability to decrypt and peruse everything it acquires in transit, although actual policies may be more restrictive.

    One exception to that rule relies on a clever bit of mathematics called perfect forward secrecy. PFS uses temporary individual keys, a different one for each encrypted Web session, instead of relying on a single master key. That means even a government agency with the master SSL key and the ability to passively eavesdrop on the network can't decode private communications.

    Google is the only major Internet company to offer PFS, though Facebook is preparing to enable it by default.

    Even PFS isn't complete proof against surveillance. It's possible to mount a more advanced attack, sometimes called a man-in-the-middle or active attack, and decode the contents of the communications.

    A Wired article in 2010 disclosed that a company called Packet Forensics was marketing to government agencies a box that would do precisely that. (There is no evidence that the NSA performs active attacks as part of routine surveillance, and even those could be detected in some circumstances.)

    The Packet Forensics brochure said that government agencies would "have the ability to import a copy of any legitimate key they obtain (potentially by court order)." It predicted that agents or analysts will collect their "best evidence while users are lulled into a false sense of security afforded by Web, e-mail or VOIP encryption."

    With a few exceptions, even if communications in transit are encrypted, Internet companies typically do not encrypt e-mail or files stored in their data centers. Those remain accessible to law enforcement or the NSA through legal processes.

    Leaked NSA surveillance procedures, authorized by Attorney General Eric Holder, suggest that intercepted domestic communications are typically destroyed -- unless they're encrypted. If that's the case, the procedures say, "retention of all communications that are enciphered" is permissible.


    It's not entirely clear whether federal surveillance law gives the U.S. government the authority to demand master encryption keys from Internet companies.

    "That's an unanswered question," said Jennifer Granick, director of civil liberties at Stanford University's Center for Internet and Society. "We don't know whether you can be compelled to do that or not."

    The government has attempted to use subpoenas to request copies of encryption keys in some cases, according to one person familiar with the requests. Justice Department guidelines say subpoenas may be used to obtain information "relevant" to an investigation, unless the request is "unreasonably burdensome."

    "I don't know anyone who would turn it over for a subpoena," said an attorney who represents Internet companies but has not fielded requests for encryption keys. Even a wiretap order in a criminal case would be insufficient, but a FISA order might be a different story, the attorney said. "I'm sure there's some logic in collecting the haystack."

    Kurt Opsahl, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, challenged the notion that current law hands the government the power to demand master encryption keys. Even with a FISA order for the private key, Opsahl said, the amount of technical assistance that a company must provide to the NSA or other federal agencies "has a limit."

    Federal and state law enforcement officials have previously said encrypted communications were beginning to pose an obstacle to lawful surveillance. Valerie Caproni, the FBI's general counsel at the time, told a congressional hearing in 2011, according to a transcript:


    Encryption is a problem, and it is a problem that we see for certain providers... For individuals who put encryption on their traffic, we understand that there would need to be some individualized solutions if we get a wiretap order for such persons... We are suggesting that if the provider has the communications in the clear and we have a wiretap order, that the provider should give us those communications in the clear.

    "One of the biggest problems with compelling the [private key] is it gives you access to not just the target's communications, but all communications flowing through the system, which is exceedingly dangerous," said Stanford's Granick.

    Last update, July 25 at 1 p.m. PT: Added a response from FastMail, which arrived after this article was published. This article was previously updated to add additional comments from a Facebook representative saying the company has not received such requests.

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    Default Re: Obama Administration NSA Spying on Americans

    Time to drop off the internet I guess, huh?

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    Default Re: Obama Administration NSA Spying on Americans

    They're coming for us.

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