by Syarif Hidayat

    “Every time we do something you tell me America will do this and will do that . . . I want to tell you something very clear: Don’t worry about American pressure on Israel. We, the Jewish people, control America, and the Americans know it.”Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon to Shimon Peres, October 3, 2001, as reported on Kol Yisrael radio. (Certainly the FBI’s cover-up of the Israeli spy ring/phone tap scandal suggests that Mr. Sharon may not have been joking.)

      “You can help us or we ‘will overthrow the world’.”Chaim Weizmann, first president of the State of Israel.

      “We Jews, we are the destroyers and will remain the destroyers. Nothing you can do will meet our demands and needs. We will forever destroy because we want a world of our own.” (You Gentiles, by Jewish Author Maurice Samuels, p. 155).

NSA’s spying ‘touches almost every American household’


     Jon Swainein his article datelined New York, titled: “NSA’s spying ‘touches almost every American household’published in The Telegraph, writes Information on trillions of emails, web chats and Skype conversations carried out by Americans has been harvested along with their phone records by the National Security Agency, it has been claimed.

     The NSA’s surveillance programmes, which have been exposed in a series of recent leaks, are now said to be so wide-ranging that they are reported to “touch nearly every American household in some way”.

A top-secret court order published earlier this month disclosed that for seven years, US telecommunications corporations are ordered to hand over details of all calls made on their networks.

       This vast amount of “metadata”, comprising details such as call location and duration, can then be mined by US intelligence to identify associates and potential co-plotters of suspected terrorists.

       This programme, code-named “Mainway”, has a sister scheme called “Marina” that vacuums up data on trillions of other communications such as emails and video calls, The Washington Post reported.

        Mike Rogers, the chairman of the House intelligence committee, claimed that the spying apparatus had thwarted “dozens” of terrorist plots, details of which he was working to declassify.

“I think Americans will come to a different conclusion than all the misleading rhetoric I’ve heard over the last few weeks,” Mr Rogers, a Michigan Republican, told CNN on Sunday.

        He insisted that the system was a “lockbox” containing “only phone numbers” rather than recordings. He stressed that it was used “sparingly” and “absolutely overseen by the legislature”.

       Edward Snowden, the rogue NSA contractor who leaked top secret documents to the media, claimed that even as a low-ranking official he could tap the phones of any American.

      Yet intelligence chiefs insist the content of conversations can only be obtained in extraordinary circumstances and with court authority, on the basis of specific evidence of a terrorist plot.

      Then, a system called Nucleon records calls, while Prism, which was exposed in documents leaked by Mr Snowden, captures emails, social network messages and other online chats.

       William Binney, a former NSA technical director who helped create the agency’s eavesdropping network, estimated last week that it records the calls of up to a million people on a “target list”.

       “They look through these phone numbers and they target those, and that’s what they record,” Mr Binney, who has repeatedly said that the NSA programme is out of control, told an interviewer.

       It was also claimed that under former president George W. Bush, intelligence agencies at one stage got around legal requirements for “acquiring” data on Americans’ communications by saying they were simply “obtaining” it, and not “acquiring” anything until a deeper analysis was done.

       Dick Cheney, the former vice president who helped construct the surveillance programme, on Sunday described the actions of Mr Snowden, who fled to Hong Kong, as traitorous.

      “I’m suspicious, because he went to China,” said Mr Cheney. “That’s not a place where you would ordinarily want to go if you are interested in freedom, liberty and so forth. It raises questions whether or not he had that kind of connection before he did this.”


British, US papers identify NSA whistleblower


      A British and a U.S. newspaper have identified a contract employee of the National Security Agency as the source of leaked information that revealed the spy agency is monitoring Americans’ phone calls.

      Edward Snowden, 29, says he urged The Guardian and The Washington Post to name him as their source. He tells the papers he will not hide because he insists he did nothing wrong.

      Snowden, who fled the United States for Hong Kong last month, says he knows he will be made to suffer for his actions. But he said he is willing to sacrifice a “very comfortable life” to reveal the truth about what he calls a massive surveillance machine the United States is building.

       He also tells the Post that he plans to ask asylum in any country he says believes in free speech and global privacy.

       The Guardian reported last week that the NSA was collecting the telephone records of millions of Americans. The newspaper, along with The Washington Post, also reported that a separate program called PRISM gives the NSA and FBI access to the servers of major Internet providers.

        U.S. officials do not deny the reports. They say no one listens in on anyone’s telephone calls, and that the data they gathered has stopped several terrorist plots.

        The U.S. Justice Department says it has opened a criminal investigation into the leaks, but has given no other information.

        British Foreign Secretary William Hague says eavesdropping by its GCHQ security agency is legal and no threat to privacy. But he refuses to confirm or deny reports it received data from the secret NSA program.

Israeli involvement in NSA spying

      Stephen Lendman in his article titled: “Israeli involvement in NSA spyingpublished in MWC News, writes It is not surprising. On June 8, Haaretz headlined “What was the Israeli involvement in collecting US communications intel for NSA?”.

      On April 3, 2012, James Bamford headlined “Shady Companies with Ties to Israel Wiretap for US for the NSA.” He said NSA chief General Keith Alexander’s “having a busy year.” He’s “cutting ribbons at secret bases and bringing to life the agency’s greatly expanded eavesdropping network.”

       “In January he dedicated the new $358 million CAPT Joseph J. Rochefort Building at NSA Hawaii, and in March he unveiled the 604,000-square-foot John Whitelaw Building at NSA Georgia.”

        It’s for around “4,000 earphone-clad intercept operators, analysts and other specialists, many of them employed by private contractors.” Spies “R” Us defines US policy. NSA’s “mammoth 1-million-square-foot, $2 billion Utah Data Center is far more sweeping.”

        It’s located at Camp Williams. It’s a Utah National Guard training facility. Once fully operational, says Bamford, it’ll “become, in effect, the NSA Cloud.”

It’ll receive data from NSA satellites, overseas listening posts, and nationwide multiple No telecom facility monitoring rooms. What’s planned is an unprecedented global spy network.

       NSA operatives and hackers will harvest around 2.1 million gigabytes of data per hour. It’ll do so on the world’s most powerful computer.

       It’s call Titan Supercomputer. It can handle over 20,000 trillion calculations per second or 20 petaflops. One petaflop = one quadrillion instructions per second.

        Supercomputer power will be used to collect and analyze foreign and domestic communications from all possible sources.

        Two Israeli companies are involved. High-tech firms Verint and Narus have longstanding US/Israeli intelligence connections. For many years, Verint was a majority-owned Comverse Technology subsidiary. Both companies have about half their employees in Israel. In August 2012, Verint acquired Comverse. It now operates independently.

        It makes security software. It calls itself “a global leader in Actionable Intelligence solutions.”

        Narus calls itself a cyber security company. It’s an independent Boeing subsidiary. It provides real-time network traffic and analytic software. It does so with enterprise class spyware capabilities.

        In 1997, it was founded in Israel. It created NarusInsight. It’s a supercomputer system. A previous article said AT&T uses it at their secret San Francisco facility. It lets NSA spy on its customers.

        Verint’s software also is used to do it. Bamford called it “especially troubling that both companies have had extensive ties to Israel, as well as links to (its) intelligence service.”

        A previous article discussed Israeli spying on America. The CIA calls Israel America’s main regional spy threat. An Israeli-based CIA operative once found food in his refrigerator rearranged.

       Washington knows what’s going on. Publicly it’s ignored. Pre-9/11, the FBI uncovered a massive US-based Israeli spy ring. It remains active.

It betrays America. Numerous Israeli citizens are involved. They have close ties to foreign military, criminal and intelligence sources. They reportedly breach US laws with impunity.

        Israel’s featured prominently in annual FBI reports. It actively seeks proprietary/secret US information. It’s mainly on military systems and advanced computer applications.

       Proprietary commercial and industrial data are stolen. Israel recruits spies. Sophisticated methods are used. Computers are hacked for information.

Washington’s Government Accountability Office (GAO) said Israel “conducts the most aggressive espionage operation against the United States of any US ally.”

       The Pentagon accused Israel of “actively engag(ing) in military and industrial espionage in the United States. An Israeli citizen working in the US who has access to proprietary information is likely to be a target of such espionage.”

        FBI whistle-blower John Cole said Justice Department officials ordered dozens of Israeli espionage cases dropped. At issue was political pressure.

Washington gives Israel billions of dollars in annual aid, state-of-the-art weapons and technology, and numerous other special privileges. In return, it steals US state and commercial secrets.

       Despite longstanding close ties, Washington considers Israel both ally and counterintelligence threat. In terms of technical capability and human resources, it matches America’s best.

       It has access to the highest US political, military and intelligence sources. Bamford said NSA-developed advanced analytical/data-mining software was lawlessly given Israel.

      An Operations Directorate technical director did so secretly. Apparently Israeli companies got access. Technology they got advanced their own.

Narus once boasted about being “known for its ability to capture and collect data from the largest networks around the world.” Unexplained was that stolen software facilitates is capabilities.

       Retired Israeli General Hanan Gefen ran its secret Unit 8200. It’s Israel’s NSA equivalent. He admitted Israeli ties to Comverse. At the time, it owned Verint. It owns other Israeli high-tech companies. They specialize in eavesdropping and surveillance. They operate globally.

       According to Gefen, the “correlation between serving in the intelligence Unit 8200 and starting successful high-tech companies is not coincidental.”

“Many of the technologies in use around the world and developed in Israel were originally military technologies and were developed and improved by Unit veterans.”

       Kobi Alexander founded Verint. He formerly served as chairman. He’s a fugitive. FBI accusations include fraud, theft, lying, bribery, money laundering and related crimes.

       Two of his top Comverse associates were indicted on similar charges. Both were imprisoned. They paid millions of dollars in fines and penalties.

NSA claims it takes malfeasance and other legitimate complaints seriously. Spying technology and expertise take precedence.

       Bamford says take NSA assurances cautiously. “Who’s listening to the listeners,” he asks?

        Haaretz asked if Verint and Narus “collected information from the US communications network” for NSA?

       Neither company responded when asked. Former senior NSA official-turned whistle-blower Thomas Drake exposed fraud, waste, abuse and other lawless agency practices.

       They relate to warrantless data-mining practices. In April 2010, he was indicted under the Espionage Act. Charges included “willful retention of classified information, obstruction of justice, and making false statements.”

       After a May 22, 2011 60 Minutes broadcast, all charges were dropped. In return, Drake plead guilty to a minor misdemeanor. He was sentenced to one year probation and community service. He lost his high-paying NSA job and pension.

       On March 15, 2013, he spoke at the National Press Club. He focused on First Amendment rights. In part he said:

        “The threats to the First Amendment by the government is bull’s eye-centered on a free unfettered press designed to suppress and repress speech and political expression in America, create fear through privilege and unilateral authority over what is fit or unfit for the First Amendment.”

        “If speech becomes the instrument of crime when revealing government crime and wrongdoing, we are under arbitrary authoritarian rule and not the rule of law.”

        “I can make an argument that government increasingly prefers to operate in the shadows and finds the First Amendment a constraint on its activities.”

“And yet, taking off the veil of government secrecy has more often than not turned truth-tellers and whistle-blowers into turncoats and traitors, who are then often criminally burned and blacklisted and broken by the government on the stake of national security.”

       “I knew too much truth and exposed government illegalities, fraud and abuse and was turned into a criminal for doing so.”

“I was charged under the Espionage Act, faced many years in prison and became an enemy of the state.”

       “It was five years of living under the boot of the Surveillance State, and yet I was saved by the First Amendment and the court of public opinion and the free press, including the strength and growing resiliency of the alternative media.”

        “Do we really want the government listening in on and tracking the lives of so many others? Have our constitutional freedoms become the latest victims of 9/11?”

        “Will national security replace our individual rights? Will fear take priority over freedom? Will government censorship and propaganda triumph over personal choice and disclosure, use suppression repression?”

         “If we starve liberty for the increasingly myopic sake of security, what will we have left to defend?”

         If truth-telling is criminalized, freedom no longer exists. Drake corroborated information AT&T whistle-blower Mark Klein and others reported. Spies “R” Us reflects US policy.

         Drake verified NSA’s use of Narus technology. Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) collects intelligence from major US Internet companies. They do it via Prism electronic surveillance.

Officially it’s called US-984XN. It’s used for sweeping domestic and foreign spying. It’s the main source for raw NSA intelligence. It’s top secret for good reason. Now it’s existence is publicly known.

        Mossad’s longstanding ties to Verint, Narus, and other Israeli surveillance technology companies assures it access to  information they collect.

It’s true wherever these companies operate. America has 16 active intelligence agencies. They operate the same way. Warrantless dragnet spying is lawless.

       Freedom pays the greatest price. It’s disappearing in plain sight. It’s heading for the dustbin of history without legitimate resistance enough to stop it. Nothing less has a chance.


Caught In The PRISM


       Doug Bernard in his article datelined Washington DC, titled: “The NSA’s Internet Surveillance Program And You” published in the Voice of America, writes late Wednesday, it was revealed that America’s National Security Agency, or NSA, got secret court permission to access millions of telephone records of the Verizon telecommunications company’s domestic customers. 

      The following day, the Washington Post and Britain’s Guardian newspaper reported that nine Internet and computer service firms, including Microsoft, Google, Facebook and Skype, have been voluntarily providing the NSA with access to their data, allowing the NSA to monitor and analyze emails, photos and video chats from around the world as part of a program known as PRISM.

    On Friday, the Wall Street Journal reported that “ people familiar with the NSA’s operations said the initiative also encompasses phone call data from AT&T…and Sprint Nextel records from Internet-service providers and purchase information from credit-card providers.”  Sensing a good fight, the group called Anonymous has jumped in as well, posting online what appear to be 13 secret U.S. documents that suggest data gathered through PRISM is being shared with the NSA’s “intelligence partners” – meaning the security and intelligence services of other governments. 

      “Is it just me, or is secret blanket surveillance obscenely outrageous?” tweeted former presidential candidate Al Gore. Judging by the outrage across social media platforms this week, the answer would be no.


Secrets Protecting Secrets


       It’s no surprise the NSA has been aggressively collecting electronic data – that’s its job. For 61 years, the secretive intelligence agency – often dubbed “No Such Agency” for it’s lack of transparency – has monitored all manner of phone calls, radio signals, emails, texts and other electronic communications in the interests of national security.

       However, for much of its history the NSA has been limited to collecting foreign communications only. Domestic surveillance strictly illegal.  To ensure compliance, in 1978 Congress passed the “Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act”, which in turn created a secret FISC, or Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, that the NSA would have to appear before anytime it wanted a warrant to monitor domestic communications.

       The idea was that the court would provide strict privacy protection for U.S. citizens. In practice — perhaps because all its actions are secret and that only the government may appear before the court, or because the very nature of Internet traffic knows no national boundaries — the FISC court has been unusually compliant with the NSA’s requests.  For example, between 2010 and 2012, the FISC approved all of the NSA’s 5,180 surveillance requests.

       In the Verizon matter, the FISC ruling, signed by Judge Robert Vinson, was leaked and posted online, making it one of the very few glimpses into the court’s activities seen in public. In the PRISM Internet data-mining story, journalists obtained 41 PowerPoint slides prepared by the NSA for top-secret briefings only.

       Internet privacy advocates, like the non-profit Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), have warned that “there is simply too little known about the operation of the FISC today to determine whether it is effective and whether the privacy interests of Americans are adequately protected.”

        For his part, U.S. National Director of Intelligence James Clapper has confirmed the existence of PRISM and decried the leaks as “reprehensible,” saying, “The unauthorized disclosure of a top-secret U.S. court document threatens potentially long-lasting and irreversible harm to our ability to identify and respond to the many threats facing our nation.” The nine Internet companies named by the Washington Post have issued either non-committal statements, or outright denied any knowledge of PRISM.


Two Degrees Of Separation


       It’s likely that shortly after Alexander Graham Bell told assistant Thomas Watson, “I need you,” telephones have been tapped. With it’s hard-wired person-to-person structure, it has aided countless investigations. The Internet, however, is another matter.

        By its structure, Internet data doesn’t travel in a straight line from point to point, but rather in a zig-zagging trail that can route one email through dozens of servers across the globe. Much of that traffic transits through the United States, meaning that a Skype conversation or Facebook chat between someone in Jakarta and someone else in Baku will likely end up flowing through U.S.-based servers.

        This enormous amount of data can be analyzed by NSA computers to determine not only who a suspected foreign terrorist is speaking with or emailing, but the people those individuals in turn are communicating with, and what they’re talking about. Even at just two hops, the number of people caught up in one terrorist’s surveillance can quickly number well into the thousands. That’s a tremendous amount of personal information that PRISM grants the NSA.

       The phone monitoring is somewhat different, and not really phone tapping. The FISC order in the Verizon matter strictly limits surveillance to “meta-data” — that is, the time, duration and recipient of a phone call, but not the actual communication itself. By sorting through these many millions of data points, intelligence analysts are looking for patterns in the noise that may provide crucial clues about the identity and location of potential terrorists.

       Another easily overlooked facet to these stories is that the very firms – like Apple, PalTalk or AOL – that people are using to chat and share online are themselves mining their data stores for their own corporate gains. While some companies like Facebook and Google provide “privacy tools” that allow users to restrict personal data sharing, each firm admits to using private data to tailor services to customers, or selling it to other firms hoping to, say, better target their online advertising.


Cold Comfort and More Debate


       Still, all that may be cold comfort to people like Digital First Media’s Mandy Jones, who tweeted, “I shudder to think of what the NSA is doing with those drunk photos I thought were safely hidden on Facebook.” [Ed. note: As we’ve repeatedly told you, there is nothing hidden on Facebook.] While both Republican and Democratic members on Capitol Hill have been briefed on these, and likely other, NSA programs, they were limited in what they could say or object to by the FISC’s classified nature. More congressional debate can be expected.

     In the meantime, amid memories of the 2005 revelations of the Bush administration’s “warrantless wiretapping” program, and the current swirl of stories about tax agency over-reach and the Justice Department’s broad seizure of AP journalists’ phone records, worries about the NSA’s surveillance of all people – foreign and domestic – will only grow.

      Until then, it’s worth remembering that there is very little that’s completely private in these digital times. (HSH)



1.     VOA News








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  5. FOLLOW THE MONEY: The Secret Heart of the Secret State. The Deeper Implications of the Snowden Revelations

    Follow Money!
    No one, anywhere, has been writing about the deeper and wider implications of the Snowden revelations than Arthur Silber. (I hope you’re not surprised by this.) In a series of powerful, insightful essays, Silber has, among other things, laid bare the dangers of the oddly circumscribed ‘gatekeeper’ approach of the journalistic guardians (at, ironically, the Guardian) of Snowden’s secrets, particularly their slow drip-feed of carefully self-censored tidbits from the famous Powerpoint presentation that Snowden secreted from the bowels of the United Stasi of the American intelligent apparat.

    Eschewing the Wikileaks approach, the guardians at the Guardian have not let us judge the material for ourselves, opting instead to adopt, unwittingly, the same approach of the apparat: “we are the keepers of knowledge, we will decide what you need to know.”

    As Silber notes, this doesn’t vitiate the worth of the revelations, but it does dilute their impact, leaving gaps that the apparat — and its truly repulsive apologists all through the ‘liberal media’ — can exploit to keep muddying the waters. He explores these ramifications, and others, in “In Praise of Mess, Chaos and Panic” and “Fed Up With All the Bullshit.”

    In his latest piece, “‘Intelligence, Corporatism and the Dance of Death,” he cuts to the corroded heart of the matter, the deep, dark not-so-secret secret that our secret-keepers are trying to obscure behind their blizzards of bullshit: it’s all about the Benjamins.

    After noting the gargantuan outsourcing of “intelligence” to private contractors like Booz Allen — the very firm that employed Snowden — Silber gives a quick precis of the essence of state-corporate capitalism (see the originals for links):

    The biggest open secret all these creepy jerks are hiding is the secret of corporatism (or what Gabriel Kolko calls “political capitalism”):

    There is nothing in the world that can’t be turned into a huge moneymaker for the State and its favored friends in “private” business, at the same time it is used to amass still greater power. This is true in multiple forms for the fraud that is the “intelligence” industry.

    The pattern is the same in every industry, from farming, to manufacturing, to every aspect of transportation, to the health insurance scam, to anything else you can name. In one common version, already vested interests go to the State demanding regulation and protection from “destabilizing” forces which, they claim, threaten the nation’s well-being (by which, they mean competitors who threaten their profits). The State enthusiastically complies, the cooperative lawmakers enjoying rewards of many kinds and varieties. Then they’ll have to enforce all those nifty regulations and controls. The State will do some of it but, heck, it’s complicated and time-consuming, ya know? Besides, some of the State’s good friends in “private” business can make a killing doing some of the enforcing. Give it to them! Etc. and so on.

    Silber then goes on:

    … But that’s chump change. The real money is elsewhere — in, for instance, foreign policy itself. You probably thought foreign policy was about dealing with threats to “national security,” spreading democracy, ensuring peace, and whatever other lying slogans they throw around like a moldy, decaying, putrid corpse. The State’s foreign policy efforts are unquestionably devoted to maintaining the U.S.’s advantages — but the advantages they are most concerned about are access to markets and, that’s right, making huge amounts of money. Despite the unending propaganda to the contrary, they aren’t terribly concerned with dire threats to our national well-being, for the simple reason that there aren’t any: “No nation would dare mount a serious attack on the U.S. precisely because they know how powerful the U.S. is — because it is not secret.”

    How does the public-”private” intelligence industry make foreign policy? The NYT story offers an instructive example in its opening paragraphs:

    When the United Arab Emirates wanted to create its own version of the National Security Agency, it turned to Booz Allen Hamilton to replicate the world’s largest and most powerful spy agency in the sands of Abu Dhabi.

    It was a natural choice: The chief architect of Booz Allen’s cyberstrategy is Mike McConnell, who once led the N.S.A. and pushed the United States into a new era of big data espionage. It was Mr. McConnell who won the blessing of the American intelligence agencies to bolster the Persian Gulf sheikdom, which helps track the Iranians.

    “They are teaching everything,” one Arab official familiar with the effort said. “Data mining, Web surveillance, all sorts of digital intelligence collection.”

    See how perfect this is? All the special people are making tons of money — and, when the day arrives that the U.S. wants to ramp up its confrontational stance with Iran, well, there’s the UAE helping to “track the Iranians” with all the tools that the U.S. has given them and taught them to use. And how easy would it be to get the UAE to provide the U.S. with just the right kind of new and disturbing “intelligence” that would get lots of people screaming about the “grave Iranian threat”? You know the answer to that: easy peasy. A wink and a nod — and off the U.S. goes, with bombing runs or whatever it decides to do. But whatever it does will be determined in greatest part not by a genuine threat to U.S. national security (there is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that Iran’s leaders are all suicidal), but by what will make the most money for the State and its good friends.

    Silber then underscores once more the highly instructive principle laid out by Robert Higgs:

    I remind you once again of what I call The Higgs Principle. As I have emphasized, you can apply this principle to every significant policy in every area, including every aspect of foreign policy. Here is Robert Higgs explaining it:

    As a general rule for understanding public policies, I insist that there are no persistent “failed” policies. Policies that do not achieve their desired outcomes for the actual powers-that-be are quickly changed. If you want to know why the U.S. policies have been what they have been for the past sixty years, you need only comply with that invaluable rule of inquiry in politics: follow the money.

    When you do so, I believe you will find U.S. policies in the Middle East to have been wildly successful, so successful that the gains they have produced for the movers and shakers in the petrochemical, financial, and weapons industries (which is approximately to say, for those who have the greatest influence in determining U.S. foreign policies) must surely be counted in the hundreds of billions of dollars.

    So U.S. soldiers get killed, so Palestinians get insulted, robbed, and confined to a set of squalid concentration areas, so the “peace process” never gets far from square one, etc., etc. – none of this makes the policies failures; these things are all surface froth, costs not borne by the policy makers themselves but by the cannon-fodder masses, the bovine taxpayers at large, and foreigners who count for nothing.

    ….It’s all about wealth and power. Here and there, in episodes notable only for their rarity, “the intelligence world” might actually provide a small piece of information actually related to “national security.” Again, I turn to Gabriel Kolko:

    It is all too rare that states overcome illusions, and the United States is no more an exception than Germany, Italy, England, or France before it. The function of intelligence anywhere is far less to encourage rational behavior–although sometimes that occurs–than to justify a nation’s illusions, and it is the false expectations that conventional wisdom encourages that make wars more likely, a pattern that has only increased since the early twentieth century. By and large, US, Soviet, and British strategic intelligence since 1945 has been inaccurate and often misleading, and although it accumulated pieces of information that were useful, the leaders of these nations failed to grasp the inherent dangers of their overall policies. When accurate, such intelligence has been ignored most of the time if there were overriding preconceptions or bureaucratic reasons for doing so.

    Silber concludes:

    …The intelligence-security industry isn’t about protecting the United States or you, except for extraordinarily rare, virtually accidental occurrences. It’s about wealth and power. Yet every politician and every government functionary speaks reverently of the sacred mission and crucial importance of “intelligence” in the manner of a syphilitic preacher who clutches a tatty, moth-eaten doll of the Madonna, which he digitally manipulates by sticking his fingers in its orifices. Most people would find his behavior shockingly obscene, if they noticed it. But they don’t notice it, so mesmerized are they by the preacher with his phonily awestruck words about the holy of holies and the ungraspably noble purpose of his mission. Even as the suppurating sores on the preacher’s face ooze blood and pus, his audience can only gasp, “We must pay attention to what he says! He wants only the best for us! He’s trying to save us!”

    What the preacher says — what every politician and national security official says on this subject — is a goddamned lie. The ruling class has figured out yet another way to make a killing, both figuratively and literally. They want wealth and power, and always more wealth and power. That’s what “intelligence” and “national security” is about, and nothing else at all. When you hear Keith Alexander, or James Clapper, or Barack Obama talk about “intelligence” and surveillance, how your lives depend on them, and why you must trust them to protect you if you wish to continue existing at all, think of the preacher. Think of his open sores, of the blood and pus slowly dribbling down his face.

    All of them are murdering crooks running a racket. They are intent on amassing wealth and power, and they’ve stumbled on a sure-fire way to win the acquiescence, and often the approval, of most people. They are driven by the worst of motives, including their maddened knowledge that there will always remain a few people and events that they will be unable to control absolutely. For the rest of us, their noxious games are a sickening display of power at its worst. For us, on a faster or slower schedule, in ways that are more or less extreme, their lies and machinations are only a Dance of Death.

    There is much more in Silber’s essays; go read them all now, if you haven’t done already.

  6. NSA monitored calls of 35 world leaders after US official handed over contacts

    • Agency given more than 200 numbers by government official
    • NSA encourages departments to share their ‘Rolodexes’
    • Surveillance produced ‘little intelligence’, memo acknowledges

    James Ball
    The Guardian, Thursday 24 October 2013

    The NSA memo suggests that such surveillance was not isolated as the agency routinely monitors world leaders. Photograph: Guardian

    The National Security Agency monitored the phone conversations of 35 world leaders after being given the numbers by an official in another US government department, according to a classified document provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

    The confidential memo reveals that the NSA encourages senior officials in its “customer” departments, such the White House, State and the Pentagon, to share their “Rolodexes” so the agency can add the phone numbers of leading foreign politicians to their surveillance systems.

    The document notes that one unnamed US official handed over 200 numbers, including those of the 35 world leaders, none of whom is named. These were immediately “tasked” for monitoring by the NSA.

    The revelation is set to add to mounting diplomatic tensions between the US and its allies, after the German chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday accused the US of tapping her mobile phone.

    After Merkel’s allegations became public, White House press secretary Jay Carney issued a statement that said the US “is not monitoring and will not monitor” the German chancellor’s communications. But that failed to quell the row, as officials in Berlin quickly pointed out that the US did not deny monitoring the phone in the past.

    The NSA memo obtained by the Guardian suggests that such surveillance was not isolated, as the agency routinely monitors the phone numbers of world leaders – and even asks for the assistance of other US officials to do so.

    The memo, dated October 2006 and which was issued to staff in the agency’s Signals Intelligence Directorate (SID), was titled “Customers Can Help SID Obtain Targetable Phone Numbers”.

    It begins by setting out an example of how US officials who mixed with world leaders and politicians could help agency surveillance.

    “In one recent case,” the memo notes, “a US official provided NSA with 200 phone numbers to 35 world leaders … Despite the fact that the majority is probably available via open source, the PCs [intelligence production centers] have noted 43 previously unknown phone numbers. These numbers plus several others have been tasked.”

    The document continues by saying the new phone numbers had helped the agency discover still more new contact details to add to their monitoring: “These numbers have provided lead information to other numbers that have subsequently been tasked.”

    But the memo acknowledges that eavesdropping on the numbers had produced “little reportable intelligence”. In the wake of the Merkel row, the US is facing growing international criticism that any intelligence benefit from spying on friendly governments is far outweighed by the potential diplomatic damage.

    The memo then asks analysts to think about any customers they currently serve who might similarly be happy to turn over details of their contacts.

    “This success leads S2 [signals intelligence] to wonder if there are NSA liaisons whose supported customers may be willing to share their ‘Rolodexes’ or phone lists with NSA as potential sources of intelligence,” it states. “S2 welcomes such information!”

    The document suggests that sometimes these offers come unsolicited, with US “customers” spontaneously offering the agency access to their overseas networks.

    “From time to time, SID is offered access to the personal contact databases of US officials,” it states. “Such ‘Rolodexes’ may contain contact information for foreign political or military leaders, to include direct line, fax, residence and cellular numbers.”

    The Guardian approached the Obama administration for comment on the latest document. Officials declined to respond directly to the new material, instead referring to comments delivered by Carney at Thursday’s daily briefing.

    Carney told reporters: “The [NSA] revelations have clearly caused tension in our relationships with some countries, and we are dealing with that through diplomatic channels.

    “These are very important relations both economically and for our security, and we will work to maintain the closest possible ties.”

    The public accusation of spying on Merkel adds to mounting political tensions in Europe about the scope of US surveillance on the governments of its allies, after a cascade of backlashes and apologetic phone calls with leaders across the continent over the course of the week.

    Asked on Wednesday evening if the NSA had in the past tracked the German chancellor’s communications, Caitlin Hayden, the White House’s National Security Council spokeswoman, said: “The United States is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of Chancellor Merkel. Beyond that, I’m not in a position to comment publicly on every specific alleged intelligence activity.”

    At the daily briefing on Thursday, Carney again refused to answer repeated questions about whether the US had spied on Merkel’s calls in the past.

    The NSA memo seen by the Guardian was written halfway through George W Bush’s second term, when Condoleezza Rice was secretary of state and Donald Rumsfeld was in his final months as defence secretary.

    Merkel, who, according to Reuters, suspected the surveillance after finding her mobile phone number written on a US document, is said to have called for US surveillance to be placed on a new legal footing during a phone call to President Obama.

    “The [German] federal government, as a close ally and partner of the US, expects in the future a clear contractual basis for the activity of the services and their co-operation,” she told the president.

    The leader of Germany’s Green party, Katrin Goring-Eckhart, called the alleged spying an “unprecedented breach of trust” between the two countries.

    Earlier in the week, Obama called the French president François Hollande in response to reports in Le Monde that the NSA accessed more than 70m phone records of French citizens in a single 30-day period, while earlier reports in Der Spiegel uncovered NSA activity against the offices and communications of senior officials of the European Union.

    The European Commission, the executive body of the EU, this week backed proposals that could require US tech companies to seek permission before handing over EU citizens’ data to US intelligence agencies, while the European parliament voted in favour of suspending a transatlantic bank data sharing agreement after Der Spiegel revealed the agency was monitoring the international bank transfer system Swift.

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