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NSA secretly accessed Yahoo, Google data centers to collect information

RT | October 30, 2013

Despite having front-door access to communications transmitted across the biggest Internet companies on Earth, the National Security Agency has been secretly tapping into the two largest online entities in the world, new leaked documents reveal.

Those documents, supplied by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and obtained by the Washington Post, suggest that the US intelligence agency and its British counterpart have compromised data passed through the computers of Google and Yahoo, the two biggest companies in the world with regards to overall Internet traffic, and in turn allowed those country’s governments and likely their allies access to hundreds of millions of user accounts from individuals around the world.

“From undisclosed interception points, the NSA and GCHQ are copying entire data flows across fiber-optic cables that carry information between the data centers of the Silicon Valley giants,” the Post’s Barton Gellman and Ashkan Soltani reported on Wednesday.

The document providing evidence of such was among the trove of files supplied by Mr. Snowden and is dated January 9, 2013, making it among the most recent top-secret files attributed to the 30-year-old whistleblower.

Both Google and Yahoo responded to the report, with the former’s response being the most forceful.

Google’s chief legal officer, David Drummond, said the company was “outraged” by the allegations.

“We have long been concerned about the possibility of this kind of snooping, which is why we have continued to extend encryption across more and more Google services and links, especially the links in the slide,” said Drummond, implying the web giant had been caught by surprise by the revelations..

“We do not provide any government, including the US government, with access to our systems. We are outraged at the lengths to which the government seems to have gone to intercept data from our private fiber networks, and it underscores the need for urgent reform.”

Yahoo likewise implied it was not actively cooperating with the NSA in granting the agency access to its data infrastructure.

“We have strict controls in place to protect the security of our data centers, and we have not given access to our data centers to the NSA or to any other government agency,” the company said via statement.

Gen. Keith Alexander, the head of the NSA, told reporters Wednesday afternoon, “I don’t know what the report is,” according to Politico, and said his agency is “not authorized” to tap into Silicon Valley companies. When asked if the NSA tapped into the data centers, Alexander said, “Not to my knowledge.”

Earlier this year, separate documentation supplied by Mr. Snowden disclosed evidence of PRISM, an NSA-operated program that the intelligence company conducted to target the users of Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, Facebook, PalTalk, YouTube, Skype, AOL and Apple services. When that program was disclosed by the Guardian newspaper in June, reporters there said it allowed the NSA to “collect material including search history, the content of emails, file transfers and live chats” while having direct access to the companies’ servers, at times with the “assistance of communication providers in the US.”

According to the latest leak, the NSA and Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters are conducting similar operations targeting the users of at least two of these companies, although this time under utmost secrecy.

“The infiltration is especially striking because the NSA, under a separate program known as PRISM, has front-door access to Google and Yahoo user accounts through a court-approved process,” the Post noted.

And while top-brass in the US intelligence community defended PRISM and said it did not target American Internet users, the newest program — codenamed MUSCULAR — sweeps up data pertaining to the accounts of many Americans, the Post acknowledged.

The MUSCULAR program, according to Wednesday’s leak, involves a process in which the NSA and GCHQ intercept communications overseas, where lax restrictions and oversight allow the agencies access to intelligence with ease.

“NSA documents about the effort refer directly to ‘full take,’ ‘bulk access’ and ‘high volume’ operations on Yahoo and Google networks,” the Post reported. “Such large-scale collection of Internet content would be illegal in the United States, but the operations take place overseas, where the NSA is allowed to presume that anyone using a foreign data link is a foreigner.”

To do as much, the NSA and GCHQ rely on capturing information being sent between company data centers around the globe, intercepting those bits and bytes in transit by tapping in as information is moved from the “Public Internet” to the private “clouds” operated by the likes of Google and Yahoo. Those cloud systems involve the linking of international data centers, each processing and containing huge troves of user information for potentially millions of customers. Intelligence officers who can sneak through the cracks when information is decrypted — or never encrypted in the first place — can then see the information sent in real time as take “a retrospective look at target activity,” according to documents seen by the Post.

“Because digital communications and cloud storage do not usually adhere to national boundaries, MUSCULAR and a previously disclosed NSA operation to collect Internet address books have amassed content and metadata on a previously unknown scale from US citizens and residents” Barton and Soltani reported.

“Data are an essentially global commodity, and the backup processes of companies often mean that data is replicated many places across the world,” The Post’s Andrea Peterson added in a separate report. “So just because you sent an e-mail in the US, doesn’t mean it will always stay within the nation’s borders for its entire life in the cloud.”

As data goes into those facilities outside of the US, the NSA and GCHQ have more tactics to deploy in order to obtain private communications. Additionally, Yahoo has not nor do they now have any plans to deploy encryption technology to secure communications, suggesting the data of their millions of users was passed in-the-clear through international data centers, ripe to be intercepted by the intelligence community.

“Google and Yahoo generally connect their data centers over privately owned or leased fiber-optic cables, which do not share traffic with other Internet users and companies, to enable the tasted connections and keep information secure,” Gellman added in a separate article authored alongside the Post’s Todd Linderman. “Until recently, these internal data networks were not encrypted. Google announced in September, however, that it is moving quickly to encrypt those connections. Yahoo’s data center links are not encrypted.”

“It’s an arms race,” Eric Grosse, Google’s vice president for security engineering, told the Post last month. “We see these government agencies as among the most skilled players in this game.”

After hearing ot the MUSCULAR program by the Post, Google said in a statement that they were “troubled by allegations of the government intercepting traffic between our data centers, and we are not aware of this activity.”

“We have long been concerned about the possibility of this kind of snooping, which is why we continue to extend encryption across more and more Google services and links,” the company said.

“We have strict controls in place to protect the security of our data centers, and we have not given access to our data centers to the NSA or to any other government agency,” insisted Yahoo.

Only hours before the latest Snowden leak was made public, NSA Director Keith Alexander told a Congressional panel that the illegal, unconstitutional revelations helped terrorist intent on killing Americans. Answering a question from Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minnesota) about the effect of the leaks on national security, Alexander and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper both said the disclosure have and will continue to cause major damage to the US.

At that same hearing, Alexander admitted that the NSA “compels” telecommunication companies to provide the government with user intelligence.

“Nothing that has been released has shown that we’re trying to do something illegal or unprofessional,” Alexander added.

October 30, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

End Game For Corporate School Reform: Privatized Holding Tanks, Remote Ed, Military Charter Schools

By Bruce A. Dixon | Black Agenda Report | October 30, 2013

Doug Henwood, a radical economist and founder of Left Business Observer, says it as succinctly as anyone when he sums up the goal of bipartisan corporate education reform imposed on poorer neighborhoods as “ … low cost privatized holding tanks leading to McDonalds jobs for the lucky, or to prison for the not so lucky …” along with classes delivered by computers rather than unionized teachers. But as useful as this summation is, it leaves out one element worth noting. You can’t run a global empire without a military class, any more than you can run a prison without prison guards.

So in Chicago, widely touted as a laboratory of educational innovation, mostly because its current mayor, President Obama’s former chief of staff holds dictatorial power over its public schools, one of the showpieces of education reform has been the handing over of entire high schools and even middle schools to the army, the navy and the marine corps.

Before the era of corporate reform there was at least one achievement of genuine small d democratic education reform pushed through by the administration of Chicago mayor Harold Washington in the 1980s. Since then parents in every public school have been allowed to elect parent councils, with reps from among rank and file teachers, which have veto power over title one funds and principal’s contracts, which are limited to two years. The “innovative” answer of downtown bureaucrats, corporate elites and subsequent mayors to parents taking a hand in running the schools has been to simply close Chicago public schools and replace them with charters over which parents have no say.

This year, Chicago closed more public schools than any other school district in a single year in the nation’s history. None were charter schools. This week Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced he was moving the middle school which had earlier been given to the marine corps into the facility of a fully functioning neighborhood school, Ames Middle School.

The fact that Ames parents and community members had testified, had met with officials and overwhelmingly rejected the closing of their school meant less than nothing, and may even have contributed to the replacement of their school by a military academy. What mayor, and what alderman really wants organized parents running their own neighborhood institutions? It’s bad for business if you’re a privatizer, or a politician who takes cues and campaign contributions from privatizers. And ultimately habits of local democracy are bad for empire.

What Chicago, and corporate education reformers and privatizers and their contractors nationwide want, as Henwood observes, are low-cost holding tanks to funnel the well-behaved into low-wage precarious labor for the lucky and jail for the unlucky. They want distance education and computerized instruction because these are cheaper than human, potentially unionized teachers. And to Henwood’s list we should add, they want a sprinkling of military charter schools. After all, you can’t run an empire without soldiers, or a prison without guards.

October 30, 2013 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Department Of Homeland Security Funded Study Proves War On Terrorism Has Greatly Increased Global Terrorism

By Lee Rogers | Blacklisted News | October 29, 2013

A new study from the Department of Homeland Security has proven what has been a well-known fact amongst anyone who follows the alternative media. The so-called war on terrorism has actually increased terrorism around the world. Whenever the United States government announces that they are launching a war on something we get more of what they are waging a war on.The war on poverty resulted in more poverty, the war on drugs resulted in more drug use and now we can definitively say the same thing about the war on terrorism. If the goal of the so-called war on terrorism was to reduce the amount of terrorism in the world it has failed miserably. Anyone with any sort of common sense would look at this study and realize that a policy change is in order. Unfortunately the policy makers within the Obama regime who are either useful idiots or psychotic criminals will do nothing of the sort.

According to the study there has been a 69% rise in terrorist attacks and an 89% increase in terrorist related fatalities from 2011.In addition, the number of people killed due to a terrorist attack has risen greatly since 2001.These figures clearly indicate that global terrorism has steadily risen throughout this so-called war on terrorism.

In reality, these numbers should be considered low due to the fact that this study does not include terrorist attacks launched by governments or state actors.
If they did include these numbers the amount of terrorist attacks and terrorist related fatalities would be much higher with the Obama regime topping the list as one of the world’s biggest terrorist organizations. The Obama regime has authorized countless drone strikes that have killed many civilians including women and children.These incidents should all be considered acts of terrorism.

To prove this point, the study used the following criteria to classify an incident as an act of terrorism.

It was aimed at attaining a political, economic, religious or social goal.

It was intended to coerce, intimidate or convey a message to a larger group.

It violated international humanitarian law by targeting non-combatants.

The Obama regime’s drone strikes certainly fulfill all three categories and if they were carried out by a non-state actor they would be considered terrorist attacks.These drone strikes have specifically targeted civilians who the Obama regime merely suspects are terrorists.This means that the Obama regime is acting as judge, jury and executioner.This is illegal and contrary to international law. … Full article

October 30, 2013 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Doughboys and Dumb Things Humans Have Done

By David Swanson | War is a Crime | October 29, 2013

This November 11th at 11 a.m. will mark 95 years since World War I ended.  Next July 28th will mark 100 years since it started.  The world war, the great war, the war for no good reason, the war of poison gas, the war to end all wars, the war of mass stupidity, the war that went on for days after the Germans agreed to end it, the war that continued until 11 a.m. as that time had been set to end it, the war whose last man killed in action was a suicidal American who ran at the Germans at 10:59, the war that in fact was intentionally not ended but extended into mass-punishment of the German people until World War II could be commenced, this century-old piece of historical stupidity that shames our species is about to be commemorated on a serious scale — so dust off your gas masks and get ready.

A hundred years. A hundred ever-loving years, and we’ve neither learned that wars don’t end wars nor ever really ended World War II, ever brought the troops home from Japan and Germany, ever scaled back the taxation and military spending and foreign basing and war profiteering.

The Last of the Doughboys: The Forgotten Generation and Their Forgotten War by Richard Rubin is 500 pages of excellent history of World War I but without the appropriate rejection of the decision to go to war or the embarrassment one should feel for those who thought they could find glory or goodness by joining in that mass murdering madness.  We tend to look down on all sorts of aspects of early 20th century morality.  Colonialism, sexism, racism, corporal punishment in schools, creationism — you name it, we’ve moved on.  Yet writers still recount wars as if the decision to take part in them were neutral or admirable.

In a way this makes sense, given what we’re all taught about history.  The Khan Academy is a wonderful website for kids (or anyone) to use in learning math.  But if you click over to the section on history it’s literally nothing but wars.  Perhaps they plan to add in a few unimportant things that happened during the pauses in between wars, but they haven’t done so yet.  It’s nothing but war after war after war.  That’s history.  President Kennedy supposedly said Lincoln would have been nothing without the Civil War — it takes war to make greatness.  It takes war to be in the history books.

Richard Rubin found and interviewed the last remaining U.S. veterans of World War I before they died.  As he spoke with them their average age was 107.  Everything he learned and recorded is of great interest, but much of it is simply about what it’s like to become 107.  Such a study could have been done of non-veterans.  A comparison could have been made of veterans and non-veterans.  Or a study like this one could have looked at World War I resisters.  That there’s not a similar book about them, and now can never be, says little about them and a great deal about all of us.  A comparison of the lifespans of veterans and refuseniks would have been an interesting test of the author’s theory that going along to get along increases your life.

It is perhaps not too late to track down and interview the last remaining survivors of the strongest peace movement the United States has known — that of the 1920s and 1930s — but somebody would have to do it and do it soon.

Perhaps Richard Rubin will take up that idea, but I tend to doubt it.  His fascination is with war, not wisdom.  And not just his fascination, but most people’s.  The sad fact is that, in Rubin’s telling, these World War I veterans didn’t tend to develop an appropriate sense of regret over a period of 85 years.  There are, no doubt, cases of slave owners who by 1950 were able to express some regret over slavery.  But slavery was on its way out.  War is ever on its way in.

Despite my lengthy caveat, The Last of the Doughboys really is an excellent book, for what it is.  The discussions of World War I songs and World War I books, and so forth, are quite wonderful.  And Doughboys is not blatantly dishonest war hype.  It includes the facts about the Lusitania (that Germany had warned Americans not to get on a ship with arms and troops as it would be sunk).  It doesn’t look closely at the war propaganda, but it is straightforward enough on the clampdown on speech and civil liberties, and the vicious demonization of Germans and the Kaiser.  It doesn’t mention the Wall Street coup or the name Smedley Butler, but its coverage of the Bonus Army is otherwise good.  It doesn’t focus on opposition or alternatives, but it does convey the pointlessness of the horror, and it does recount the badly misguided way in which the war was ended.

Yet, ultimately, Rubin is striving to give more credit and honor to warriors unfairly overshadowed by the glorification of World War II.  The heroes of the original world war saved the world in the snow and shoeless and uphill both ways.  Rubin wants World War I to get its due — unlike some wars.  The war on the Philippines, for example, he calls “not much of” a war, despite the fact that it cost the population involved a greater percentage of its lives than any other U.S. war has inflicted on any other population, including the population of the U.S. — including in the U.S. Civil War.  Go to the Philippines and say it wasn’t much of a war, I dare you.  It was the model for the costly, pointless, racist, one-sided slaughters of the 21st century.  World War I was a model only for its expansion into World War II.  Otherwise it’s obsolete.

My friend Sandy Davies, who knows this stuff, recently looked up what the costs have been of the ongoing warmaking by the United States since the pair of World Wars.  I think it’s relevant because every single time I speak about ending war and take questions on the topic I’m asked “What about Hitler?”  In the days since Hitler’s been gone, as the world has moved on from Hitler-like expansionism, as a great portion of the world has moved away from war, the United States, according to Davies, has spent $37-40 trillion (in 2013 dollars) on war and preparations for war.

There’s $32 trillion since 1948 in Department of So-Called-Defense spending documented in http://comptroller.defense.gov/defbudget/fy2014/FY14_Green_Book.pdf plus $780 billion to the War Department in 1946-7 before it was rebranded. Extra funding to the Energy Department, the V.A. and other departments is harder to find, but can be estimated at:
Nuclear weapons (DOE): $1.7 – 3 trillion
V.A.: $1.3 to 2.5 trillion
Other departments: $1 to 2 trillion

Then there’s the real cost: 10 to 20 million dead in wars the U.S. has been directly involved in, or 15 to 30 million if you count the DRC, Cambodia, the French War in Indochina, and the Iran-Iraq War.  “These numbers are very conservative,” says Davies, “based on publicly available estimates, generally ignoring Les Roberts’ findings in Rwanda and the DRC that passive reporting methods generally only count 5-20% of deaths in war zones.”  These figures include:

Korea: 2.5 to 3.5 million
Vietnam: 2 to 4 million
Iraq: 400,000 to 1.5 million
Afghanistan (total): 1 to 2 million
China: 1.75 million
Indonesia: 500,000 to 2 million
Angola: 500,000 to 1 million
Somalia: 300,000 to 500,000
Guatemala: 200,000 to 300,000
Greece: 200,000
East Timor: 100,000 to 220,000
El Salvador: 100,000 to 120,000
Syria: 90,000 to 130,000
Operation Condor: 60,000 to 100,000
Peru: 70,000
Colombia: 50,000 – 200,000
Laos: 40,000 to 100,000
Nicaragua: 30,000 to 55,000
Libya: 25,000 to 50,000
plus smaller numbers in many other countries.

Either we’re on a record streak of greatest generations after greatest generations, or we’ve caught a war addiction so badly that we’ve come to imagine it’s normal, and that — in fact — it’s all that ever has happened in the world.

October 30, 2013 Posted by | Book Review, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

It would be ‘difficult’ for UK gov’t ‘not to act’ if Snowden published more leaks – Cameron

British Prime Minister David Cameron has issued a veiled threat against the Guardian and other media organizations, calling them to stop publishing the reveals leaked by former CIA employee Edward Snowden.

Voice of Russia | October 29, 2013

Mr Cameron said that UK lawmakers have not yet been “heavy handed,” but if media does not stop such publications soon the government may employ D-Notices, official requests asking editors not to publish news items for national security reasons.

“I don’t want to have to use injunctions or D-Notices or other tougher measures. I think it’s much better to appeal to newspapers’ sense of social responsibility. But if they don’t demonstrate some social responsibility it would be very difficult for government to stand back and not to act,” – Cameron told the House of Commons Monday, adding that The Guardian, in particular, has made “this country less safe.”

The Guardian first began its ongoing series based on the Snowden leaks in June, when far-reaching secret activity of the American NSA and British Government Communication Headquarters (GCHQ) were made public.

Recent disclosures, revealing that the US and UK have quietly monitored international allies, caused a major scandal in European community.

US mass surveillance of European Union citizens is genuine concern – European MP

US spying on allies is ‘inappropriate and unacceptable’ – Spain’s minister

In July of this year GCHQ raided The Guardian’s offices and demanded the destruction of hard drives containing the Snowden files.

Although Alan Rusbridger, editor-in-chief of the paper, said the destruction would have no effect because The Guardian would continue publication from its offices in New York, the destruction continued anyway.

October 30, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | 1 Comment

Zionist Radio: 1500 New Settlements to Be Built in Occupied al-Quds

Al-Manar | October 30, 2013

The Zionist enemy plans to build another 1,500 settlement units in the Arab eastern sector of Jerusalem almost immediately after it began freeing 21 prisoners to the West Bank and another five to the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.

“The prime minister (Benjamin Netanyahu) and the interior minister (Gideon Saar) agreed on four building plans in Jerusalem,” a senior Zionist source told Agence France Presse, confirming details initially reported on military radio.

The announcement was timed to trump headlines focusing on the celebrations in the West Bank and Gaza after the 21 prisoners walked free into their respective home territories shortly after 1:00 am local time.

In the West Bank, thousands of people turned out to welcome home the 21 prisoners at a formal ceremony at Mahmoud Abbas’s presidential compound in Ramallah.

The prisoners had left Ofer prison in two minibuses with blacked-out windows and were driven to Beitunia crossing where fireworks split the night sky as they tasted freedom for the first time in 20 years or more.

The entity’s move to ramp up settlement in tandem with the prisoner release was mooted last week by a senior Zionist official who said the expected announcement on new construction had been coordinated in advance with the Palestinians and the Americans.

Similar sentiments were expressed by Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon.

“In recent months we have been facing sensitive diplomatic circumstances and weighty strategic considerations which require us to take difficult and painful steps,” he said on Tuesday in remarks communicated by his office.

October 30, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , | Leave a comment