Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA)

Huge Hacker Holdup — Cyber extortion Attack — NSA Ransom War — Running Sacred — Crying — It’s Over — Videos

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Cyber Attack: Ransomware causing chaos globally – BBC News

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NSA Whistleblower Bill Binney on Tucker Carlson 03.24.2017

NSA Whistleblower William Binney: The Future of FREEDOM

ROY ORBISON – CRYING – LIVE 1988

Roy Orbison – “Running Scared” from Black and White Night

Roy Orbison – Crying (Monument Concert 1965)

Roy Orbison – It’s Over (Monument Concert 1965)

Roy Orbison – “It’s Over” from Black and White Night

Dozens of countries hit by huge cyberextortion attack

NEW YORK (AP) — Dozens of countries were hit with a huge cyberextortion attack Friday that locked up computers and held users’ files for ransom at a multitude of hospitals, companies and government agencies.

It was believed to the biggest attack of its kind ever recorded.

The malicious software behind the onslaught appeared to exploit a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows that was supposedly identified by the National Security Agency for its own intelligence-gathering purposes and was later leaked to the internet.

Britain’s national health service fell victim, its hospitals forced to close wards and emergency rooms and turn away patients. Russia appeared to be the hardest hit, according to security experts, with the country’s Interior Ministry confirming it was struck.

All told, several cybersecurity firms said they had identified the malicious software, which so far has been responsible for tens of thousands of attacks, in more than 60 countries. That includes the United States, although its effects there didn’t appear to be widespread, at least initially.

The attack infected computers with what is known as “ransomware” — software that locks up the user’s data and flashes a message demanding payment to release it. In the U.S., FedEx reported that its Windows computers were “experiencing interference” from malware, but wouldn’t say if it had been hit by ransomware.

Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer at the Helsinki-based cybersecurity company F-Secure, called the attack “the biggest ransomware outbreak in history.”

Security experts said the attack appeared to be caused by a self-replicating piece of software that enters companies and organizations when employees click on email attachments, then spreads quickly internally from computer to computer when employees share documents and other files.

Its ransom demands start at $300 and increase after two hours to $400, $500 and then $600, said Kurt Baumgartner, a security researcher at Kaspersky Lab. Affected users can restore their files from backups, if they have them, or pay the ransom; otherwise they risk losing their data entirely.

Chris Wysopal of the software security firm Veracode said criminal organizations were probably behind the attack, given how quickly the malware spread.

“For so many organizations in the same day to be hit, this is unprecedented,” he said.

The security holes it exploits were disclosed several weeks ago by TheShadowBrokers, a mysterious group that has published what it says are hacking tools used by the NSA as part of its intelligence-gathering.

Shortly after that disclosure, Microsoft announced that it had already issued software “patches” for those holes. But many companies and individuals haven’t installed the fixes yet or are using older versions of Windows that Microsoft no longer supports and didn’t fix.

By Kaspersky Lab’s count, the malware struck at least 74 countries. In addition to Russia, the biggest targets appeared to be Ukraine and India, nations where it is common to find older, unpatched versions of Windows in use, according to the security firm.

Hospitals across Britain found themselves without access to their computers or phone systems. Many canceled all routine procedures and asked patients not to come to the hospital unless it was an emergency. Doctors’ practices and pharmacies reported similar problems.

Patrick Ward, a 47-year-old sales director, said his heart operation, scheduled for Friday, was canceled at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in London.

Tom Griffiths, who was at the hospital for chemotherapy, said several cancer patients had to be sent home because their records or bloodwork couldn’t be accessed.

“Both staff and patients were frankly pretty appalled that somebody, whoever they are, for commercial gain or otherwise, would attack a health care organization,” he said. “It’s stressful enough for someone going through recovery or treatment for cancer.”

British Prime Minister Theresa May said there was no evidence patient data had been compromised and added that the attack had not specifically targeted the National Health Service.

“It’s an international attack and a number of countries and organizations have been affected,” she said.

Spain, meanwhile, took steps to protect critical infrastructure in response to the attack. Authorities said they were communicating with more than 100 energy, transportation, telecommunications and financial services providers about the attack.

Spain’s Telefonica, a global broadband and telecommunications company, was among the companies hit.

Ransomware attacks are on the rise around the world. In 2016, Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in California said it had paid a $17,000 ransom to regain control of its computers from hackers.

Krishna Chinthapalli, a doctor at Britain’s National Hospital for Neurology & Neurosurgery who wrote a paper on cybersecurity for the British Medical Journal, warned that British hospitals’ old operating systems and confidential patient information made them an ideal target for blackmailers.

He said many NHS hospitals in Britain use Windows XP software, introduced in 2001, and as government funding for the health service has been squeezed, “IT budgets are often one of the first ones to be reduced.”

“Looking at the trends, it was going to happen,” he said. “I did not expect an attack on this scale. That was a shock.

https://apnews.com/e8402f2faf934f7ab5419d4961d3dafe/Global-extortion-cyberattack-hits-dozens-of-nations

Global ‘WannaCry’ ransomware cyberattack seeks cash for data

LONDON (AP) — A global “ransomware” cyberattack, unprecedented in scale, had technicians scrambling to restore Britain’s crippled hospital network Saturday and secure the computers that run factories, banks, government agencies and transport systems in many other nations.

The worldwide effort to extort cash from computer users spread so widely that Microsoft quickly changed its policy, making security fixes available for free for the older Windows systems still used by millions of individuals and smaller businesses.

A malware tracking map showed “WannaCry” infections popping up around the world. Britain canceled or delayed treatments for thousands of patients, even people with cancer. Train systems were hit in Germany and Russia, and phone companies in Madrid and Moscow. Renault’s futuristic assembly line in Slovenia, where rows of robots weld car bodies together, was stopped cold.

In Brazil, the social security system had to disconnect its computers and cancel public access. The state-owned oil company Petrobras and Brazil’s Foreign Ministry also disconnected computers as a precautionary measure, and court systems went down, too.

Britain’s home secretary said one in five of 248 National Health Service groups had been hit. Home Secretary Amber Rudd said all but six of the NHS trusts back to normal Saturday.

The U.K.’s National Cyber Security Center was “working round the clock” to restore vital health services, while urging people to update security software fixes, run anti-virus software and back up their data elsewhere.

Who perpetrated this wave of attacks remains unknown. Two security firms — Kaspersky Lab and Avast — said they identified the malicious software in more than 70 countries. Both said Russia was hit hardest.

These hackers “have caused enormous amounts of disruption— probably the biggest ransomware cyberattack in history,” said Graham Cluley, a veteran of the anti-virus industry in Oxford, England.

And all this may be just a taste of what’s coming, another cyber security expert warned.

Computer users worldwide — and everyone else who depends on them — should assume that the next big “ransomware” attack has already been launched, and just hasn’t manifested itself yet, Ori Eisen, who founded the Trusona cybersecurity firm in Scottsdale, Arizona, told The Associated Press.

The attack held hospitals and other entities hostage by freezing computers, encrypting data and demanding money through online bitcoin payments. But it appears to be “low-level” stuff, Eisen said Saturday, given the amount of ransom demanded — $300 at first, rising to $600 before it destroys files hours later.

He said the same thing could be done to crucial infrastructure, like nuclear power plants, dams or railway systems.

“This is child’s play, what happened. This is not the serious stuff yet. What if the same thing happened to 10 nuclear power plants, and they would shut down all the electricity to the grid? What if the same exact thing happened to a water dam or to a bridge?” he asked.

“Today, it happened to 10,000 computers,” Eisen said. “There’s no barrier to do it tomorrow to 100 million computers.”

This is already believed to be the biggest online extortion attack ever recorded, disrupting services in nations as diverse as the U.S., Ukraine, Brazil, Spain and India. Europol, the European Union’s police agency, said the onslaught was at “an unprecedented level and will require a complex international investigation to identify the culprits.”

In Russia, government agencies insisted that all attacks had been resolved. Russian Interior Ministry, which runs the national police, said the problem had been “localized” with no information compromised. Russia’s health ministry said its attacks were “effectively repelled.”

The ransomware exploits a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows that was purportedly identified by the U.S. National Security Agency for its own intelligence-gathering purposes. Hackers said they stole the tools from the NSA and dumped them on the internet.

It could have been much worse if not for a young cybersecurity researcher who helped to halt its spread by accidentally activating a so-called “kill switch” in the malicious software.

The 22-year-old Britain-based researcher, identified online only as MalwareTech, explained Saturday that he spotted a hidden web address in the “WannaCrypt” code and made it official by registering its domain name. That inexpensive move redirected the attacks to MalwareTech’s server, which operates as a “sinkhole” to keep malware from escaping.

“Because WannaCrypt used a single hardcoded domain, my registration of it caused all infections globally to believe they were inside a sandbox … thus we initially unintentionally prevented the spread,” the researcher said, humbly and anonymously, in his blog post.

His move may have saved governments and companies millions of dollars and slowed the outbreak before U.S.-based computers were more widely infected.

Indeed, while FedEx Corp. reported that its Windows computers were “experiencing interference” from malware — it wouldn’t say if it had been hit by the ransomware — other impacts in the U.S. were not readily apparent on Saturday.

That said, the threat hasn’t disappeared, the MalwareTech researcher said.

“One thing that is very important to note is our sinkholing only stops this sample and there is nothing stopping them removing the domain check and trying again, so it’s incredibly important that any unpatched systems are patched as quickly as possible,” he warned.

The kill switch also couldn’t help those already infected. Short of paying, options for these individuals and companies are usually limited to recovering data files from a backup, if available, or living without them.

Security experts said it appeared to be caused by a self-replicating piece of software that enters companies when employees click on email attachments, then spreads quickly as employees share documents.

The security holes it exploits were disclosed weeks ago by TheShadowBrokers, a mysterious hacking group. Microsoft swiftly released software “patches” to fix those holes, but many users still haven’t installed updates or still use older versions of Windows.

Microsoft had made fixes for older systems, such as 2001′s Windows XP, available only to mostly larger organizations, including Britain’s National Health Service, that paid extra for extended technical support. In light of Friday’s attacks, Microsoft announced that it’s making the fixes free to all.

Cluley said “There’s clearly some culpability on the part of the U.S. intelligence services. Because they could have done something ages ago to get this problem fixed, and they didn’t do it.”

“It’s very, very difficult these days, with encryption, to spy on people,” Cluley added. “But I don’t think that those concerns should hide the fact that ALL of us need to be protected … We’re living an online life, and we all deserve security there.”

https://apnews.com/770946e7df454d2e9acda3bdbd3ed425/Unprecedented-global-‘ransomware’-attack-seeks-cash-for-data

Ransomware

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ransomware is a type of malicious software designed to block access to a computer system or data until a ransom is paid. Simple ransomware may lock the system in a way which is not difficult for a knowledgeable person to reverse, and display a message requesting payment to unlock it. More advanced malware encrypts the victim’s files, making them inaccessible, and demands a ransom payment to decrypt them.[1] The ransomware may also encrypt the computer’s Master File Table (MFT)[2][3] or the entire hard drive.[4] Thus, ransomware is a denial-of-access attack that prevents computer users from accessing files[5] since it is intractable to decrypt the files without the decryption key. Ransomware attacks are typically carried out using a Trojan that has a payload disguised as a legitimate file.

While initially popular in Russia, the use of ransomware scams has grown internationally;[6][7][8] in June 2013, security software vendor McAfee released data showing that it had collected over 250,000 unique samples of ransomware in the first quarter of 2013, more than double the number it had obtained in the first quarter of 2012.[9] Wide-ranging attacks involving encryption-based ransomware began to increase through Trojans such as CryptoLocker, which had procured an estimated US$3 million before it was taken down by authorities,[10] and CryptoWall, which was estimated by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to have accrued over $18m by June 2015.[11]

Operation

Typically, modern ransomware uses encryption to deny users’ access to their files. The software encrypts the victim’s files using a symmetric cipher with a randomly generated key, and then deletes the key, leaving only a version of it made inaccessible to the victim using public key cryptography. Only the attacker can then decrypt the symmetric key needed to restore the files.[12]

The symmetric key is randomly generated and will not assist other victims. At no point is the attacker’s private key exposed to victims and the victim need only send a very small ciphertext (the encrypted symmetric-cipher key) to the attacker.

Ransomware attacks are typically carried out using a Trojan, entering a system through, for example, a downloaded file or a vulnerability in a network service. The program then runs a payload, which locks the system in some fashion, or claims to lock the system but does not (e.g., a scareware program). Payloads may display a fake warning purportedly by an entity such as a law enforcement agency, falsely claiming that the system has been used for illegal activities, contains content such as pornography and “pirated” media.[13][14][15]

Some payloads consist simply of an application designed to lock or restrict the system until payment is made, typically by setting the Windows Shell to itself,[16] or even modifying the master boot record and/or partition table to prevent the operating system from booting until it is repaired.[17] The most sophisticated payloads encrypt files, with many using strong encryption to encrypt the victim’s files in such a way that only the malware author has the needed decryption key.[12][18][19]

Payment is virtually always the goal, and the victim is coerced into paying for the ransomware to be removed—which may or may not actually occur—either by supplying a program that can decrypt the files, or by sending an unlock code that undoes the payload’s changes. A key element in making ransomware work for the attacker is a convenient payment system that is hard to trace. A range of such payment methods have been used, including wire transfers, premium-rate text messages,[20] pre-paid voucher services such as Paysafecard,[6][21][22] and the digital currency Bitcoin.[23][24][25] A 2016 census commissioned by Citrix revealed that larger business are holding bitcoin as contingency plans.[26]

History

Encrypting ransomware

The first known malware extortion attack, the “AIDS Trojan” written by Joseph Popp in 1989, had a design failure so severe it was not necessary to pay the extortionist at all. Its payload hid the files on the hard drive and encrypted only their names, and displayed a message claiming that the user’s license to use a certain piece of software had expired. The user was asked to pay US$189 to “PC Cyborg Corporation” in order to obtain a repair tool even though the decryption key could be extracted from the code of the Trojan. The Trojan was also known as “PC Cyborg”. Popp was declared mentally unfit to stand trial for his actions, but he promised to donate the profits from the malware to fund AIDS research.[27]

The notion of using public key cryptography for ransom attacks was introduced in 1996 by Adam L. Young and Moti Yung. Young and Yung critiqued the failed AIDS Information Trojan that relied on symmetric cryptography alone, the fatal flaw being that the decryption key could be extracted from the Trojan, and implemented an experimental proof-of-concept cryptovirus on a Macintosh SE/30 that used RSA and the Tiny Encryption Algorithm (TEA) to hybrid encrypt the victim’s data. Since public key crypto is used, the cryptovirus only contains the encryption key. The attacker keeps the corresponding private decryption key private. Young and Yung’s original experimental cryptovirus had the victim send the asymmetric ciphertext to the attacker who deciphers it and returns the symmetric decryption key it contains to the victim for a fee. Long before electronic money existed Young and Yung proposed that electronic money could be extorted through encryption as well, stating that “the virus writer can effectively hold all of the money ransom until half of it is given to him. Even if the e-money was previously encrypted by the user, it is of no use to the user if it gets encrypted by a cryptovirus”.[12] They referred to these attacks as being “cryptoviral extortion”, an overt attack that is part of a larger class of attacks in a field called cryptovirology, which encompasses both overt and covert attacks.[12]

Examples of extortionate ransomware became prominent in May 2005.[28] By mid-2006, Trojans such as Gpcode, TROJ.RANSOM.A, Archiveus, Krotten, Cryzip, and MayArchive began utilizing more sophisticated RSA encryption schemes, with ever-increasing key-sizes. Gpcode.AG, which was detected in June 2006, was encrypted with a 660-bit RSA public key.[29] In June 2008, a variant known as Gpcode.AK was detected. Using a 1024-bit RSA key, it was believed large enough to be computationally infeasible to break without a concerted distributed effort.[30][31][32][33]

Encrypting ransomware returned to prominence in late 2013 with the propagation of CryptoLocker—using the Bitcoin digital currency platform to collect ransom money. In December 2013, ZDNet estimated based on Bitcoin transaction information that between 15 October and 18 December, the operators of CryptoLocker had procured about US$27 million from infected users.[34] The CryptoLocker technique was widely copied in the months following, including CryptoLocker 2.0 (though not to be related to CryptoLocker), CryptoDefense (which initially contained a major design flaw that stored the private key on the infected system in a user-retrievable location, due to its use of Windows’ built-in encryption APIs),[24][35][36][37] and the August 2014 discovery of a Trojan specifically targeting network-attached storage devices produced by Synology.[38] In January 2015, it was reported that ransomware-styled attacks have occurred against individual websites via hacking, and through ransomware designed to target Linux-based web servers.[39][40][41]

Some ransomware strains have used proxies tied to Tor hidden services to connect to their command and control servers, increasing the difficulty of tracing the exact location of the criminals.[42][43] Furthermore, dark web vendors have increasingly started to offer the technology as a service.[43][44][45]

Symantec has classified ransomware to be the most dangerous cyber threat.[46]

Non-encrypting ransomware

In August 2010, Russian authorities arrested nine individuals connected to a ransomware Trojan known as WinLock. Unlike the previous Gpcode Trojan, WinLock did not use encryption. Instead, WinLock trivially restricted access to the system by displaying pornographic images, and asked users to send a premium-rate SMS (costing around US$10) to receive a code that could be used to unlock their machines. The scam hit numerous users across Russia and neighboring countries—reportedly earning the group over US$16 million.[15][47]

In 2011, a ransomware Trojan surfaced that imitated the Windows Product Activation notice, and informed users that a system’s Windows installation had to be re-activated due to “[being a] victim of fraud”. An online activation option was offered (like the actual Windows activation process), but was unavailable, requiring the user to call one of six international numbers to input a 6-digit code. While the malware claimed that this call would be free, it was routed through a rogue operator in a country with high international phone rates, who placed the call on hold, causing the user to incur large international long distance charges.[13]

In February 2013, a ransomware Trojan based on the Stamp.EK exploit kit surfaced; the malware was distributed via sites hosted on the project hosting services SourceForge and GitHub that claimed to offer “fake nude pics” of celebrities.[48] In July 2013, an OS X-specific ransomware Trojan surfaced, which displays a web page that accuses the user of downloading pornography. Unlike its Windows-based counterparts, it does not block the entire computer, but simply exploits the behavior of the web browser itself to frustrate attempts to close the page through normal means.[49]

In July 2013, a 21-year-old man from Virginia, whose computer coincidentally did contain pornographic photographs of underaged girls with whom he had conducted sexualized communications, turned himself in to police after receiving and being deceived by ransomware purporting to be an FBI message accusing him of possessing child pornography. An investigation discovered the incriminating files, and the man was charged with child sexual abuse and possession of child pornography.[50]

Leakware (also called Doxware)

The converse of ransomware is a cryptovirology attack that threatens to publish stolen information from the victim’s computer system rather than deny the victim access to it.[51] In a leakware attack, malware exfiltrates sensitive host data either to the attacker or alternatively, to remote instances of the malware, and the attacker threatens to publish the victim’s data unless a ransom is paid. The attack was presented at West Point in 2003 and was summarized in the book Malicious Cryptography as follows, “The attack differs from the extortion attack in the following way. In the extortion attack, the victim is denied access to its own valuable information and has to pay to get it back, where in the attack that is presented here the victim retains access to the information but its disclosure is at the discretion of the computer virus”.[52] The attack is rooted in game theory and was originally dubbed “non-zero sum games and survivable malware”. The attack can yield monetary gain in cases where the malware acquires access to information that may damage the victim user or organization, e.g., reputational damage that could result from publishing proof that the attack itself was a success.

Mobile ransomware

With the increased popularity of ransomware on PC platforms, ransomware targeting mobile operating systems have also proliferated. Typically, mobile ransomware payloads are blockers, as there is little incentive to encrypt data since it can be easily restored via online synchronization.[53] Mobile ransomware typically targets the Android platform, as it allows applications to be installed from third-party sources.[53][54] The payload is typically distributed as an APK file installed by an unsuspecting user; it may attempt to display a blocking message over top of all other applications,[54] while another used a form of clickjacking to cause the user to give it “device administrator” privileges to achieve deeper access to the system.[55]

Different tactics have been used on iOS devices, such as exploiting iCloud accounts and using the Find My iPhone system to lock access to the device.[56] On iOS 10.3, Apple patched a bug in the handling of JavaScript pop-up windows in Safari that had been exploited by ransomware websites.[57]

Notable examples

Reveton

A Reveton payload, fraudulently claiming that the user must pay a fine to the Metropolitan Police Service

In 2012, a major ransomware Trojan known as Reveton began to spread. Based on the Citadel Trojan (which itself, is based on the Zeus Trojan), its payload displays a warning purportedly from a law enforcement agency claiming that the computer has been used for illegal activities, such as downloading unlicensed software or child pornography. Due to this behaviour, it is commonly referred to as the “Police Trojan”.[58][59][60] The warning informs the user that to unlock their system, they would have to pay a fine using a voucher from an anonymous prepaid cash service such as Ukash or Paysafecard. To increase the illusion that the computer is being tracked by law enforcement, the screen also displays the computer’s IP address, while some versions display footage from a victim’s webcam to give the illusion that the user is being recorded.[6][61]

Reveton initially began spreading in various European countries in early 2012.[6] Variants were localized with templates branded with the logos of different law enforcement organizations based on the user’s country; for example, variants used in the United Kingdom contained the branding of organizations such as the Metropolitan Police Service and the Police National E-Crime Unit. Another version contained the logo of the royalty collection society PRS for Music, which specifically accused the user of illegally downloading music.[62] In a statement warning the public about the malware, the Metropolitan Police clarified that they would never lock a computer in such a way as part of an investigation.[6][14]

In May 2012, Trend Micro threat researchers discovered templates for variations for the United States and Canada, suggesting that its authors may have been planning to target users in North America.[63] By August 2012, a new variant of Reveton began to spread in the United States, claiming to require the payment of a $200 fine to the FBI using a MoneyPak card.[7][8][61]In February 2013, a Russian citizen was arrested in Dubai by Spanish authorities for his connection to a crime ring that had been using Reveton; ten other individuals were arrested on money laundering charges.[64] In August 2014, Avast Software reported that it had found new variants of Reveton that also distribute password stealing malware as part of its payload.[65]

CryptoLocker

Encrypting ransomware reappeared in September 2013 with a Trojan known as CryptoLocker, which generated a 2048-bit RSA key pair and uploaded in turn to a command-and-control server, and used to encrypt files using a whitelist of specific file extensions. The malware threatened to delete the private key if a payment of Bitcoin or a pre-paid cash voucher was not made within 3 days of the infection. Due to the extremely large key size it uses, analysts and those affected by the Trojan considered CryptoLocker extremely difficult to repair.[23][66][67][68]Even after the deadline passed, the private key could still be obtained using an online tool, but the price would increase to 10 BTC—which cost approximately US$2300 as of November 2013.[69][70]

CryptoLocker was isolated by the seizure of the Gameover ZeuS botnet as part of Operation Tovar, as officially announced by the U.S. Department of Justice on 2 June 2014. The Department of Justice also publicly issued an indictment against the Russian hacker Evgeniy Bogachev for his alleged involvement in the botnet.[71][72] It was estimated that at least US$3 million was extorted with the malware before the shutdown.[10]

CryptoLocker.F and TorrentLocker

In September 2014, a wave of ransomware Trojans surfaced that first targeted users in Australia, under the names CryptoWall and CryptoLocker (which is, as with CryptoLocker 2.0, unrelated to the original CryptoLocker). The Trojans spread via fraudulent e-mails claiming to be failed parcel delivery notices from Australia Post; to evade detection by automatic e-mail scanners that follow all links on a page to scan for malware, this variant was designed to require users to visit a web page and enter a CAPTCHA code before the payload is actually downloaded, preventing such automated processes from being able to scan the payload. Symantec determined that these new variants, which it identified as CryptoLocker.F, were again, unrelated to the original CryptoLocker due to differences in their operation.[73][74] A notable victim of the Trojans was the Australian Broadcasting Corporation; live programming on its television news channel ABC News 24 was disrupted for half an hour and shifted to Melbourne studios due to a CryptoWall infection on computers at its Sydney studio.[75][76][77]

Another Trojan in this wave, TorrentLocker, initially contained a design flaw comparable to CryptoDefense; it used the same keystream for every infected computer, making the encryption trivial to overcome. However, this flaw was later fixed.[35] By late-November 2014, it was estimated that over 9,000 users had been infected by TorrentLocker in Australia alone, trailing only Turkey with 11,700 infections.[78]

CryptoWall

Another major ransomware Trojan targeting Windows, CryptoWall, first appeared in 2014. One strain of CryptoWall was distributed as part of a malvertising campaign on the Zedo ad network in late-September 2014 that targeted several major websites; the ads redirected to rogue websites that used browser plugin exploits to download the payload. A Barracuda Networks researcher also noted that the payload was signed with a digital signature in an effort to appear trustworthy to security software.[79] CryptoWall 3.0 used a payload written in JavaScript as part of an email attachment, which downloads executables disguised as JPG images. To further evade detection, the malware creates new instances of explorer.exe and svchost.exe to communicate with its servers. When encrypting files, the malware also deletes volume shadow copies, and installs spyware that steals passwords and Bitcoin wallets.[80]

The FBI reported in June 2015 that nearly 1,000 victims had contacted the bureau’s Internet Crime Complaint Center to report CryptoWall infections, and estimated losses of at least $18 million.[11]

The most recent version, CryptoWall 4.0, enhanced its code to avoid antivirus detection, and encrypts not only the data in files but also the file names.[81]

Fusob

Fusob is one of the major mobile ransomware families. Between April 2015 and March 2016, about 56 percent of accounted mobile ransomwares was Fusob.[82]

Like a typical mobile ransomware, it employs scare tactics to extort people to pay a ransom.[83] The program pretends to be an accusatory authority, demanding the victim to pay a fine from $100 to $200 USD or otherwise face a fictitious charge. Rather surprisingly, Fusob suggests using iTunes gift cards for payment. Also, a timer clicking down on the screen adds to the users’ anxiety as well.

In order to infect devices, Fusob masquerades as a pornographic video player. Thus, victims, thinking it is harmless, unwittingly download Fusob.[84]

When Fusob is installed, it first checks the language used in the device. If it uses Russian or certain Eastern European languages, Fusob does nothing. Otherwise, it proceeds on to lock the device and demand ransom. Among victims, about 40% of them are in Germany with the United Kingdom and the United States following with 14.5% and 11.4% respectively.

Fusob has lots in common with Small, which is another major family of mobile ransomware. They represented over 93% of mobile ransomwares between 2015 and 2016.

WannaCry

In May 2017, the WannaCry ransomware attack spread though the Internet, using an exploit vector that Microsoft had issued a “Critical” patch for (MS17-010) two months before on March 14, 2017. The ransomware attack infected over 75,000 users in over 99 countries, using 20 different languages to demand money from users. The attack affected Telefónica and several other large companies in Spain, as well as parts of the British National Health Service (NHS),[85] FedEx, Deutsche Bahn, as well as the Russian Interior Ministry and Russian telecom MegaFon.[86]

Mitigation

As with other forms of malware, security software might not detect a ransomware payload, or, especially in the case of encrypting payloads, only after encryption is under way or complete, particularly if a new version unknown to the protective software is distributed.[87] If an attack is suspected or detected in its early stages, it takes some time for encryption to take place; immediate removal of the malware (a relatively simple process) before it has completed would stop further damage to data, without salvaging any already lost.[88][89]

Alternately, new categories of security software, specifically deception technology, can detect ransomware without using a signature-based approach. Deception technology utilizes fake SMB shares which surround real IT assets. These fake SMB data shares deceive ransomware, tie the ransomware up encrypting these false SMB data shares, alert and notify cyber security teams which can then shut down the attack and return the organization to normal operations. There are multiple vendors[90] that support this capability with multiple announcements in 2016.[91]

Security experts have suggested precautionary measures for dealing with ransomware. Using software or other security policies to block known payloads from launching will help to prevent infection, but will not protect against all attacks. Keeping “offline” backups of data stored in locations inaccessible to the infected computer, such as external storage drives, prevents them from being accessed by the ransomware, thus accelerating data restoration.[23][92]

There are a number of tools intended specifically to decrypt files locked by ransomware, although successful recovery may not be possible.[2][93] If the same encryption key is used for all files, decryption tools use files for which there are both uncorrupted backups (plaintext in the jargon of cryptanalysis) and encrypted copies; recovery of the key, if it is possible, may take several days.[94]

See also

References

WannaCry ransomware attack

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
WannaCry ransomware attack
Wana Decrypt0r screenshot.png

Screenshot of the ransom note left on an infected system
Date 12 May 2017 (ongoing)
Location Worldwide
Also known as WannaCrypt, WanaCrypt0r
Type Cyber-attack
Theme Ransomware encrypting hard disk with $300 demand
Cause EternalBlue exploit
Participants Unknown
Outcome More than 230,000 computers infected[1]

WannaCry, also known by the names WannaCrypt,[2] WanaCrypt0r 2.0,[3] Wanna Decryptor[4] and other similar names, is a ransomware program targeting Microsoft Windows. In May 2017, a large cyber-attack using it was launched, infecting over 230,000 computers in 99 countries, demanding ransom payments in bitcoin in 28 languages. The attack has been described by Europol as unprecedented in scale.[5]

The attack affected Telefónica and several other large companies in Spain, as well as parts of Britain’s National Health Service (NHS),[6] FedEx and Deutsche Bahn.[7][8][9] Other targets in at least 99 countries were also reported to have been attacked around the same time.[10][11]

WannaCry is believed to use the EternalBlue exploit, which was developed by the U.S. National Security Agency[12][13] to attack computers running Microsoft Windows operating systems.[3][14] Although a patch to remove the underlying vulnerability had been issued on 14 March 2017,[15] delays in applying security updates left some users and organisations vulnerable.[16] Microsoft has taken the unusual step of releasing updates for the unsupported Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 and patches for Windows 8 operating systems.[2][17]

A kill switch has been found in the code, which prevents new infections. This has been activated by researchers and should slow or stop the spread. However, different versions of the attack may be released and all vulnerable systems still have an urgent need to be patched.

Background

The purported infection vector, EternalBlue, was released by the hacker group The Shadow Brokers on 14 April 2017,[18][19] along with other tools apparently leaked from Equation Group, which is believed to be part of the United States National Security Agency.[20][21]

EternalBlue exploits vulnerability MS17-010[15] in Microsoft‘s implementation of the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol. Microsoft had released a “Critical” advisory, along with an update patch to plug the vulnerability a month before, on 14 March 2017.[15] This patch only fixed Windows Vista and later operating systems but not the older Windows XP.

Countries initially affected[22]

On 12 May 2017, WannaCry began affecting computers worldwide.[23] After gaining access to the computers, via local area network (LAN), an email attachment, or drive-by download, the ransomware encrypts the computer’s hard disk drive,[24][25] then attempts to exploit the SMB vulnerability to spread to random computers on the Internet,[26] and “laterally” between computers on the same LAN.[27] As with other modern ransomware, the payload displays a message informing the user that files have been encrypted, and demands a payment of $300 in bitcoin within three days.

The Windows vulnerability is not a zero-day flaw, but one for which Microsoft had made available a security patch on 14 March 2017,[15] nearly two months before the attack. The patch was to the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol used by Windows.[28] Organizations that lacked this security patch were affected for this reason, although there is so far no evidence that any were specifically targeted by the ransomware developers.[28] Any organization still running the older Windows XP[29] were at particularly high risk because until 13 May,[2] no security patches had been released since April 2014.[30] Following the attack, Microsoft released a security patch for Windows XP.[2]

According to Wired, affected systems will also have had the DOUBLEPULSAR backdoor installed; this will also need to be removed when systems are cleaned up.[31]

Impact

The ransomware campaign was unprecedented in scale according to Europol.[5] The attack affected many NHS hospitals in the UK.[32] On 12 May, some NHS services had to turn away non-critical emergencies, and some ambulances were diverted.[7][33] In 2016, thousands of computers in 42 separate NHS trusts in England were reported to be still running Windows XP.[29]Nissan Motor Manufacturing UK in Tyne and Wear, one of Europe‘s most productive car manufacturing plants, halted production after the ransomware infected some of their systems. Renault also stopped production at several sites in an attempt to stop the spread of the ransomware.[34][35]

List of affected organizations

Response

Several hours after the initial release of the ransomware on 12 May 2017, a “kill switch” hardcoded into the malware was discovered. This allowed the spread of the initial infection to be halted by registering a domain name.[52] However, the kill switch appears to be a coding mistake on the part of the criminals, and variants without the kill switch are expected to be created.[53][54]

Reactions

Upon learning about the impact on the NHS, Edward Snowden said that if the NSA “had privately disclosed the flaw used to attack hospitals when they found it, not when they lost it, [the attack] may not have happened”.[55]

British Prime Minister Theresa May said of the ransomware, “This is not targeted at the NHS. It is an international attack. A number of countries and organizations have been affected.”[56]

Microsoft has created security patches for its now-unsupported versions of Windows, including Windows XP, Windows 8 and Windows Server 2003.[57]

See also

___

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National Security Agency Is Spying On All American Who Use The Internet and Telephone System and They Collect and Store All Your Communications — Includes Trump and Associates — No Warrant Required If President Obama Designates You A Target — Congress Is Enabling The Turnkey Two Party Tyranny — Warrentless Searches — Congress Does Nothing To Stop It! — Videos

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Published on Jul 8, 2013

The NSA warrantless surveillance controversy (AKA “Warrantless Wiretapping”) concerns surveillance of persons within the United States during the collection of foreign intelligence by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) as part of the war on terror. Under this program, referred to by the Bush administration as the “terrorist surveillance program”, part of the broader President’s Surveillance Program, the NSA was authorized by executive order to monitor, without search warrants, the phone calls, Internet activity (Web, e-mail, etc.), text messaging, and other communication involving any party believed by the NSA to be outside the U.S., even if the other end of the communication lies within the U.S. Critics, however, claimed that it was in an effort to attempt to silence critics of the Bush Administration and their handling of several hot button issues during its tenure. Under public pressure, the Bush administration ceased the warrantless wiretapping program in January 2007 and returned review of surveillance to the FISA court. Subsequently, in 2008 Congress passed the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which relaxed some of the original FISA court requirements.

During the Obama Administration, the NSA has officially continued operating under the new FISA guidelines. However, in April 2009 officials at the United States Department of Justice acknowledged that the NSA had engaged in “overcollection” of domestic communications in excess of the FISA court’s authority, but claimed that the acts were unintentional and had since been rectified.

All wiretapping of American citizens by the National Security Agency requires a warrant from a three-judge court set up under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. After the 9/11 attacks, Congress passed the Patriot Act, which granted the President broad powers to fight a war against terrorism. The George W. Bush administration used these powers to bypass the FISA court and directed the NSA to spy directly on al Qaeda in a new NSA electronic surveillance program. Reports at the time indicate that an “apparently accidental” “glitch” resulted in the interception of communications that were purely domestic in nature.[5] This action was challenged by a number of groups, including Congress, as unconstitutional.

The exact scope of the program is not known, but the NSA is or was provided total, unsupervised access to all fiber-optic communications going between some of the nation’s largest telecommunication companies’ major interconnected locations, including phone conversations, email, web browsing, and corporate private network traffic.[6] Critics said that such “domestic” intercepts required FISC authorization under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.[7] The Bush administration maintained that the authorized intercepts are not domestic but rather foreign intelligence integral to the conduct of war and that the warrant requirements of FISA were implicitly superseded by the subsequent passage of the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists (AUMF).[8] FISA makes it illegal to intentionally engage in electronic surveillance under appearance of an official act or to disclose or use information obtained by electronic surveillance under appearance of an official act knowing that it was not authorized by statute; this is punishable with a fine of up to $10,000 or up to five years in prison, or both.[9] In addition, the Wiretap Act prohibits any person from illegally intercepting, disclosing, using or divulging phone calls or electronic communications; this is punishable with a fine or up to five years in prison, or both.[10]

After an article about the program, (which had been code-named Stellar Wind), was published in The New York Times on December 16, 2005, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales confirmed its existence.[11][12][13] The Times had posted the exclusive story on their website the night before, after learning that the Bush administration was considering seeking a Pentagon-Papers-style court injunction to block its publication.[14] Critics of The Times have alleged that executive editor Bill Keller had withheld the story from publication since before the 2004 Presidential election, and that the story that was ultimately published by The Times was essentially the same as reporters James Risen and Eric Lichtblau had submitted in 2004.[15] In a December 2008 interview with Newsweek, former Justice Department employee Thomas Tamm revealed himself to be the initial whistle-blower to The Times. The FBI began investigating leaks about the program in 2005, with 25 agents and 5 prosecutors on the case.

FBI’s Patriot Act Abuse of National Security Letters and illegal NSA spying

If you think you can handle the truth, well here it is folks

National Security Agency

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
“NSA” redirects here. For other uses, see NSA (disambiguation) and National Security Agency (disambiguation).
Not to be confused with NASA or National Security Council.
National Security Agency
Seal of the U.S. National Security Agency.svg

Seal of the National Security Agency
Flag of the U.S. National Security Agency.svg

Flag of the National Security Agency
National Security Agency headquarters, Fort Meade, Maryland.jpg
NSA Headquarters, Fort Meade, Maryland
Agency overview
Formed November 4, 1952; 64 years ago[1]
Preceding agency
  • Armed Forces Security Agency
Headquarters Fort Meade, Maryland, U.S.
39°6′32″N 76°46′17″WCoordinates: 39°6′32″N 76°46′17″W
Motto “Defending Our Nation. Securing The Future.”
Employees Classified (30,000–40,000 estimate)[2][3][4][5]
Annual budget Classified (estimated $10.8 billion, 2013)[6][7]
Agency executives
Parent agency United States Department of Defense
Website www.nsa.gov

The National Security Agency (NSA) is an intelligence organization of the United States federal government responsible for global monitoring, collection, and processing of information and data for foreign intelligence and counterintelligence purposes, a discipline known as signals intelligence (SIGINT). NSA is concurrently charged with protection of U.S. government communications and information systems against penetration and network warfare.[8][9] Although many of NSA’s programs rely on “passive” electronic collection, the agency is authorized to accomplish its mission through active clandestine means,[10] among which are physically bugging electronic systems[11] and allegedly engaging in sabotage through subversive software.[12][13] Moreover, NSA maintains physical presence in a large number of countries across the globe, where its Special Collection Service (SCS) inserts eavesdropping devices in difficult-to-reach places. SCS collection tactics allegedly encompass “close surveillance, burglary, wiretapping, breaking and entering”.[14][15]

Unlike the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), both of which specialize primarily in foreign human espionage, NSA does not unilaterally conduct human-source intelligence gathering, despite often being portrayed so in popular culture. Instead, NSA is entrusted with assistance to and coordination of SIGINT elements at other government organizations, which are prevented by law from engaging in such activities without the approval of the NSA via the Defense Secretary.[16] As part of these streamlining responsibilities, the agency has a co-located organization called the Central Security Service (CSS), which was created to facilitate cooperation between NSA and other U.S. military cryptanalysis components. Additionally, the NSA Director simultaneously serves as the Commander of the United States Cyber Command and as Chief of the Central Security Service.

Originating as a unit to decipher coded communications in World War II, it was officially formed as the NSA by President Harry S. Truman in 1952. Since then, it has become one of the largest U.S. intelligence organizations in terms of personnel and budget,[6][17] operating as part of the Department of Defense and simultaneously reporting to the Director of National Intelligence.

NSA surveillance has been a matter of political controversy on several occasions, such as its spying on anti-Vietnam-war leaders or economic espionage. In 2013, the extent of some of the NSA’s secret surveillance programs was revealed to the public by Edward Snowden. According to the leaked documents, the NSA intercepts the communications of over a billion people worldwide, many of whom are United States citizens, and tracks the movement of hundreds of millions of people using cellphones. Internationally, research has pointed to the NSA’s ability to surveil the domestic Internet traffic of foreign countries through “boomerang routing”.[18]

Contents

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History

Army predecessor

The origins of the National Security Agency can be traced back to April 28, 1917, three weeks after the U.S. Congress declared war on Germany in World War I. A code and cipher decryption unit was established as the Cable and Telegraph Section which was also known as the Cipher Bureau. It was headquartered in Washington, D.C. and was part of the war effort under the executive branch without direct Congressional authorization. During the course of the war it was relocated in the army’s organizational chart several times. On July 5, 1917, Herbert O. Yardley was assigned to head the unit. At that point, the unit consisted of Yardley and two civilian clerks. It absorbed the navy’s cryptoanalysis functions in July 1918. World War I ended on November 11, 1918, and MI-8 moved to New York City on May 20, 1919, where it continued intelligence activities as the Code Compilation Company under the direction of Yardley.[19][20]

Black Chamber

Western Union allowed MI-8 to monitor telegraphic communications passing through the company’s wires until 1929.[21]

MI-8 also operated the so-called “Black Chamber“.[22] The Black Chamber was located on East 37th Street in Manhattan. Its purpose was to crack the communications codes of foreign governments. Jointly supported by the State Department and the War Department, the chamber persuaded Western Union, the largest U.S. telegram company, to allow government officials to monitor private communications passing through the company’s wires.[23]

Other “Black Chambers” were also found in Europe. They were established by the French and British governments to read the letters of targeted individuals, employing a variety of techniques to surreptitiously open, copy, and reseal correspondence before forwarding it to unsuspecting recipients.[24]

Despite the American Black Chamber’s initial successes, it was shut down in 1929 by U.S. Secretary of State Henry L. Stimson, who defended his decision by stating: “Gentlemen do not read each other’s mail”.[21]

World War II and its aftermath

During World War II, the Signal Security Agency (SSA) was created to intercept and decipher the communications of the Axis powers.[25] When the war ended, the SSA was reorganized as the Army Security Agency (ASA), and it was placed under the leadership of the Director of Military Intelligence.[25]

On May 20, 1949, all cryptologic activities were centralized under a national organization called the Armed Forces Security Agency (AFSA).[25]This organization was originally established within the U.S. Department of Defense under the command of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.[26] The AFSA was tasked to direct Department of Defense communications and electronic intelligence activities, except those of U.S. military intelligence units.[26] However, the AFSA was unable to centralize communications intelligence and failed to coordinate with civilian agencies that shared its interests such as the Department of State, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).[26] In December 1951, President Harry S. Truman ordered a panel to investigate how AFSA had failed to achieve its goals. The results of the investigation led to improvements and its redesignation as the National Security Agency.[27]

The agency was formally established by Truman in a memorandum of October 24, 1952, that revised National Security Council Intelligence Directive (NSCID) 9.[28] Since President Truman’s memo was a classified document,[28] the existence of the NSA was not known to the public at that time. Due to its ultra-secrecy the U.S. intelligence community referred to the NSA as “No Such Agency”.[29]

Vietnam War

In the 1960s, the NSA played a key role in expanding America’s commitment to the Vietnam War by providing evidence of a North Vietnamese attack on the American destroyer USS Maddox during the Gulf of Tonkin incident.[30]

A secret operation, code-named “MINARET“, was set up by the NSA to monitor the phone communications of Senators Frank Church and Howard Baker, as well as major civil rights leaders, including Martin Luther King, Jr., and prominent U.S. journalists and athletes who criticized the Vietnam War.[31] However, the project turned out to be controversial, and an internal review by the NSA concluded that its Minaret program was “disreputable if not outright illegal”.[31]

The NSA mounted a major effort to secure tactical communications among U.S. forces during the war with mixed success. The NESTOR family of compatible secure voice systems it developed was widely deployed during the Vietnam War, with about 30,000 NESTOR sets produced. However a variety of technical and operational problems limited their use, allowing the North Vietnamese to exploit intercepted U.S. communications.[32]:Vol I, p.79

Church Committee hearings

Further information: Watergate scandal and Church Committee

In the aftermath of the Watergate scandal, a congressional hearing in 1975 led by Sen. Frank Church[33] revealed that the NSA, in collaboration with Britain’s SIGINT intelligence agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), had routinely intercepted the international communications of prominent anti-Vietnam war leaders such as Jane Fonda and Dr. Benjamin Spock.[34] Following the resignation of President Richard Nixon, there were several investigations of suspected misuse of FBI, CIA and NSA facilities.[35] Senator Frank Church uncovered previously unknown activity,[35]such as a CIA plot (ordered by the administration of President John F. Kennedy) to assassinate Fidel Castro.[36] The investigation also uncovered NSA’s wiretaps on targeted American citizens.[37]

After the Church Committee hearings, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 was passed into law. This was designed to limit the practice of mass surveillance in the United States.[35]

From 1980s to 1990s

In 1986, the NSA intercepted the communications of the Libyan government during the immediate aftermath of the Berlin discotheque bombing. The White House asserted that the NSA interception had provided “irrefutable” evidence that Libya was behind the bombing, which U.S. President Ronald Reagan cited as a justification for the 1986 United States bombing of Libya.[38][39]

In 1999, a multi-year investigation by the European Parliament highlighted the NSA’s role in economic espionage in a report entitled ‘Development of Surveillance Technology and Risk of Abuse of Economic Information’.[40] That year, the NSA founded the NSA Hall of Honor, a memorial at the National Cryptologic Museum in Fort Meade, Maryland.[41] The memorial is a, “tribute to the pioneers and heroes who have made significant and long-lasting contributions to American cryptology”.[41] NSA employees must be retired for more than fifteen years to qualify for the memorial.[41]

NSA’s infrastructure deteriorated in the 1990s as defense budget cuts resulted in maintenance deferrals. On January 24, 2000, NSA headquarters suffered a total network outage for three days caused by an overloaded network. Incoming traffic was successfully stored on agency servers, but it could not be directed and processed. The agency carried out emergency repairs at a cost of $3 million to get the system running again. (Some incoming traffic was also directed instead to Britain’s GCHQ for the time being.) Director Michael Hayden called the outage a “wake-up call” for the need to invest in the agency’s infrastructure.[42]

War on Terror

After Osama bin Laden moved to Afghanistan in the 1980s, the NSA recorded all of his phone calls via satellite, logging over 2,000 minutes of conversation[43]

In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, the NSA created new IT systems to deal with the flood of information from new technologies like the Internet and cellphones. ThinThread contained advanced data mining capabilities. It also had a “privacy mechanism”; surveillance was stored encrypted; decryption required a warrant. The research done under this program may have contributed to the technology used in later systems. ThinThread was cancelled when Michael Hayden chose Trailblazer, which did not include ThinThread’s privacy system.[44]

Trailblazer Project ramped up in 2002. SAIC, Boeing, CSC, IBM, and Litton worked on it. Some NSA whistleblowers complained internally about major problems surrounding Trailblazer. This led to investigations by Congress and the NSA and DoD Inspectors General. The project was cancelled in early 2004. Several whistleblowers were later arrested and charged with violating federal espionage laws.

Turbulence started in 2005. It was developed in small, inexpensive “test” pieces, rather than one grand plan like Trailblazer. It also included offensive cyber-warfare capabilities, like injecting malware into remote computers. Congress criticized Turbulence in 2007 for having similar bureaucratic problems as Trailblazer.[45] It was to be a realization of information processing at higher speeds in cyberspace.[46]

Global surveillance disclosures

The massive extent of the NSA’s spying, both foreign and domestic, was revealed to the public in a series of detailed disclosures of internal NSA documents beginning in June 2013. Most of the disclosures were leaked by former NSA contractor, Edward Snowden.

Scope of surveillance

It was revealed that the NSA intercepts telephone and Internet communications of over a billion people worldwide, seeking information on terrorism as well as foreign politics, economics[47] and “commercial secrets”.[48] In a declassified document it was revealed that 17,835 phone lines were on an improperly permitted “alert list” from 2006 to 2009 in breach of compliance, which tagged these phone lines for daily monitoring.[49][50][51] Eleven percent of these monitored phone lines met the agency’s legal standard for “reasonably articulable suspicion” (RAS).[49][52]

A dedicated unit of the NSA locates targets for the CIA for extrajudicial assassination in the Middle East.[53] The NSA has also spied extensively on the European Union, the United Nations and numerous governments including allies and trading partners in Europe, South America and Asia.[54][55]

The NSA tracks the locations of hundreds of millions of cellphones per day, allowing it to map people’s movements and relationships in detail.[56]It reportedly has access to all communications made via Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, YouTube, AOL, Skype, Apple and Paltalk,[57] and collects hundreds of millions of contact lists from personal email and instant messaging accounts each year.[58] It has also managed to weaken much of the encryption used on the Internet (by collaborating with, coercing or otherwise infiltrating numerous technology companies), so that the majority of Internet privacy is now vulnerable to the NSA and other attackers.[59][60]

Domestically, the NSA collects and stores metadata records of phone calls,[61] including over 120 million US Verizon subscribers,[62] as well as Internet communications,[57] relying on a secret interpretation of the Patriot Act whereby the entirety of US communications may be considered “relevant” to a terrorism investigation if it is expected that even a tiny minority may relate to terrorism.[63] The NSA supplies foreign intercepts to the DEA, IRS and other law enforcement agencies, who use these to initiate criminal investigations. Federal agents are then instructed to “recreate” the investigative trail via parallel construction.[64]

The NSA also spies on influential Muslims to obtain information that could be used to discredit them, such as their use of pornography. The targets, both domestic and abroad, are not suspected of any crime but hold religious or political views deemed “radical” by the NSA.[65]

Although NSA’s surveillance activities are controversial, government agencies and private enterprises have common needs, and sometimes cooperate at subtle and complex technical levels. Big data is becoming more advantageous, justifying the cost of required computer hardware, and social media lead the trend. The interests of NSA and Silicon Valley began to converge as advances in computer storage technology drastically reduced the costs of storing enormous amounts of data and at the same time the value of the data for use in consumer marketing began to rise. On the other hand, social media sites are growing as voluntary data mining operations on a scale that rivals or exceeds anything the government could attempt on its own.[66]

According to a report in The Washington Post in July 2014, relying on information provided by Snowden, 90% of those placed under surveillance in the U.S. are ordinary Americans, and are not the intended targets. The newspaper said it had examined documents including emails, text messages, and online accounts that support the claim.[67]

Legal accountability

Despite President Obama’s claims that these programs have congressional oversight, members of Congress were unaware of the existence of these NSA programs or the secret interpretation of the Patriot Act, and have consistently been denied access to basic information about them.[68] Obama has also claimed that there are legal checks in place to prevent inappropriate access of data and that there have been no examples of abuse;[69] however, the secret FISC court charged with regulating the NSA’s activities is, according to its chief judge, incapable of investigating or verifying how often the NSA breaks even its own secret rules.[70] It has since been reported that the NSA violated its own rules on data access thousands of times a year, many of these violations involving large-scale data interceptions;[71] and that NSA officers have even used data intercepts to spy on love interests.[72] The NSA has “generally disregarded the special rules for disseminating United States person information” by illegally sharing its intercepts with other law enforcement agencies.[73] A March 2009 opinion of the FISC court, released by court order, states that protocols restricting data queries had been “so frequently and systemically violated that it can be fairly said that this critical element of the overall … regime has never functioned effectively.”[74][75] In 2011 the same court noted that the “volume and nature” of the NSA’s bulk foreign Internet intercepts was “fundamentally different from what the court had been led to believe”.[73] Email contact lists (including those of US citizens) are collected at numerous foreign locations to work around the illegality of doing so on US soil.[58]

Legal opinions on the NSA’s bulk collection program have differed. In mid-December 2013, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon ruled that the “almost-Orwellian” program likely violates the Constitution, and wrote, “I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’ than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval. Surely, such a program infringes on ‘that degree of privacy’ that the Founders enshrined in the Fourth Amendment. Indeed, I have little doubt that the author of our Constitution, James Madison, who cautioned us to beware ‘the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power,’ would be aghast.”[76]

Later that month, U.S. District Judge William Pauley ruled that the NSA’s collection of telephone records is legal and valuable in the fight against terrorism. In his opinion, he wrote, “a bulk telephony metadata collection program [is] a wide net that could find and isolate gossamer contacts among suspected terrorists in an ocean of seemingly disconnected data” and noted that a similar collection of data prior to 9/11 might have prevented the attack.[77]

An October 2014 United Nations report condemned mass surveillance by the United States and other countries as violating multiple international treaties and conventions that guarantee core privacy rights.[78]

Official responses

On March 20, 2013 the Director of National Intelligence, Lieutenant General James Clapper, testified before Congress that the NSA does not wittingly collect any kind of data on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans, but he retracted this in June after details of the PRISM program were published, and stated instead that meta-data of phone and Internet traffic are collected, but no actual message contents.[79] This was corroborated by the NSA Director, General Keith Alexander, before it was revealed that the XKeyscore program collects the contents of millions of emails from US citizens without warrant, as well as “nearly everything a user does on the Internet”. Alexander later admitted that “content” is collected, but stated that it is simply stored and never analyzed or searched unless there is “a nexus to al-Qaida or other terrorist groups”.[69]

Regarding the necessity of these NSA programs, Alexander stated on June 27 that the NSA’s bulk phone and Internet intercepts had been instrumental in preventing 54 terrorist “events”, including 13 in the US, and in all but one of these cases had provided the initial tip to “unravel the threat stream”.[80] On July 31 NSA Deputy Director John Inglis conceded to the Senate that these intercepts had not been vital in stopping any terrorist attacks, but were “close” to vital in identifying and convicting four San Diego men for sending US$8,930 to Al-Shabaab, a militia that conducts terrorism in Somalia.[81][82][83]

The U.S. government has aggressively sought to dismiss and challenge Fourth Amendment cases raised against it, and has granted retroactive immunity to ISPs and telecoms participating in domestic surveillance.[84][85] The U.S. military has acknowledged blocking access to parts of The Guardian website for thousands of defense personnel across the country,[86][87] and blocking the entire Guardian website for personnel stationed throughout Afghanistan, the Middle East, and South Asia.[88]

Organizational structure

Michael S. Rogers, the director of the NSA.

The NSA is led by the Director of the National Security Agency (DIRNSA), who also serves as Chief of the Central Security Service (CHCSS) and Commander of the United States Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM) and is the highest-ranking military official of these organizations. He is assisted by a Deputy Director, who is the highest-ranking civilian within the NSA/CSS.

NSA also has an Inspector General, head of the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), a General Counsel, head of the Office of the General Counsel (OGC) and a Director of Compliance, who is head of the Office of the Director of Compliance (ODOC).[89]

Unlike other intelligence organizations such as CIA or DIA, NSA has always been particularly reticent concerning its internal organizational structure.

As of the mid-1990s, the National Security Agency was organized into five Directorates:

  • The Operations Directorate, which was responsible for SIGINT collection and processing.
  • The Technology and Systems Directorate, which develops new technologies for SIGINT collection and processing.
  • The Information Systems Security Directorate, which was responsible for NSA’s communications and information security missions.
  • The Plans, Policy and Programs Directorate, which provided staff support and general direction for the Agency.
  • The Support Services Directorate, which provided logistical and administrative support activities.[90]

Each of these directorates consisted of several groups or elements, designated by a letter. There were for example the A Group, which was responsible for all SIGINT operations against the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, and G Group, which was responsible for SIGINT related to all non-communist countries. These groups were divided in units designated by an additional number, like unit A5 for breaking Soviet codes, and G6, being the office for the Middle East, North Africa, Cuba, Central and South America.[91][92]

Structure

As of 2013, NSA has about a dozen directorates, which are designated by a letter, although not all of them are publicly known. The directorates are divided in divisions and units starting with the letter of the parent directorate, followed by a number for the division, the sub-unit or a sub-sub-unit.

The main elements of the organizational structure of the NSA are:[93]

  • F – Directorate only known from unit F6, the Special Collection Service (SCS), which is a joint program created by CIA and NSA in 1978 to facilitate clandestine activities such as bugging computers throughout the world, using the expertise of both agencies.[94]
  • G – Directorate only known from unit G112, the office that manages the Senior Span platform, attached to the U2 spy planes.[95]
  • I – Information Assurance Directorate (IAD), which ensures availability, integrity, authentication, confidentiality, and non-repudiation of national security and telecommunications and information systems (national security systems).
  • J – Directorate only known from unit J2, the Cryptologic Intelligence Unit
  • L – Installation and Logistics
  • M – Human Resources
  • Q – Security and Counterintelligence
  • R – Research Directorate, which conducts research on signals intelligence and on information assurance for the U.S. Government.[96]
  • S – Signals Intelligence Directorate (SID), which is responsible for the collection, analysis, production and dissemination of signals intelligence. This directorate is led by a director and a deputy director. The SID consists of the following divisions:
    • S1 – Customer Relations
    • S2 – Analysis and Production Centers, with the following so-called Product Lines:
      • S2A: South Asia, S2B: China and Korea, S2C: International Security, S2E: Middle East/Asia, S2F: International Crime, S2G: Counter-proliferation, S2H: Russia, S2I: Counter-terrorism, S2J: Weapons and Space, S2T: Current Threats
    • S3 – Data Acquisition, with these divisions for the main collection programs:
      • S31 – Cryptanalysis and Exploitation Services (CES)
      • S32 – Tailored Access Operations (TAO), which hacks into foreign computers to conduct cyber-espionage and reportedly is “the largest and arguably the most important component of the NSA’s huge Signal Intelligence (SIGINT) Directorate, consisting of over 1,000 military and civilian computer hackers, intelligence analysts, targeting specialists, computer hardware and software designers, and electrical engineers.”[97]
      • S33 – Global Access Operations (GAO), which is responsible for intercepts from satellites and other international SIGINT platforms.[98] A tool which details and maps the information collected by this unit is code-named Boundless Informant.
      • S34 – Collections Strategies and Requirements Center
      • S35 – Special Source Operations (SSO), which is responsible for domestic and compartmented collection programs, like for example the PRISM program.[98] Special Source Operations is also mentioned in connection to the FAIRVIEW collection program.[99]
  • T – Technical Directorate (TD)
  • Directorate for Education and Training
  • Directorate for Corporate Leadership
  • Foreign Affairs Directorate, which acts as liaison with foreign intelligence services, counter-intelligence centers and the UKUSA-partners.
  • Acquisitions and Procurement Directorate
  • Information Sharing Services (ISS), led by a chief and a deputy chief.[100]

In the year 2000, a leadership team was formed, consisting of the Director, the Deputy Director and the Directors of the Signals Intelligence (SID), the Information Assurance (IAD) and the Technical Directorate (TD). The chiefs of other main NSA divisions became associate directors of the senior leadership team.[101]

After president George W. Bush initiated the President’s Surveillance Program (PSP) in 2001, the NSA created a 24-hour Metadata Analysis Center (MAC), followed in 2004 by the Advanced Analysis Division (AAD), with the mission of analyzing content, Internet metadata and telephone metadata. Both units were part of the Signals Intelligence Directorate.[102]

A 2016 proposal would combine the Signals Intelligence Directorate with the Information Assurance Directorate into a Directorate of Operations.[103]

Watch centers

The NSA maintains at least two watch centers:

  • National Security Operations Center (NSOC), which is the NSA’s current operations center and focal point for time-sensitive SIGINT reporting for the United States SIGINT System (USSS). This center was established in 1968 as the National SIGINT Watch Center (NSWC) and renamed into National SIGINT Operations Center (NSOC) in 1973. This “nerve center of the NSA” got its current name in 1996.[104]
  • NSA/CSS Threat Operations Center (NTOC), which is the primary NSA/CSS partner for Department of Homeland Security response to cyber incidents. The NTOC establishes real-time network awareness and threat characterization capabilities to forecast, alert, and attribute malicious activity and enable the coordination of Computer Network Operations. The NTOC was established in 2004 as a joint Information Assurance and Signals Intelligence project.[105]

Employees

The number of NSA employees is officially classified[4] but there are several sources providing estimates. In 1961, NSA had 59,000 military and civilian employees, which grew to 93,067 in 1969, of which 19,300 worked at the headquarters at Fort Meade. In the early 1980s NSA had roughly 50,000 military and civilian personnel. By 1989 this number had grown again to 75,000, of which 25,000 worked at the NSA headquarters. Between 1990 and 1995 the NSA’s budget and workforce were cut by one third, which led to a substantial loss of experience.[106]

In 2012, the NSA said more than 30,000 employees worked at Fort Meade and other facilities.[2] In 2012, John C. Inglis, the deputy director, said that the total number of NSA employees is “somewhere between 37,000 and one billion” as a joke,[4] and stated that the agency is “probably the biggest employer of introverts.”[4] In 2013 Der Spiegel stated that the NSA had 40,000 employees.[5] More widely, it has been described as the world’s largest single employer of mathematicians.[107] Some NSA employees form part of the workforce of the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), the agency that provides the NSA with satellite signals intelligence.

As of 2013 about 1,000 system administrators work for the NSA.[108]

Security issues

The NSA received criticism early on in 1960 after two agents had defected to the Soviet Union. Investigations by the House Un-American Activities Committee and a special subcommittee of the United States House Committee on Armed Services revealed severe cases of ignorance in personnel security regulations, prompting the former personnel director and the director of security to step down and leading to the adoption of stricter security practices.[109] Nonetheless, security breaches reoccurred only a year later when in an issue of Izvestia of July 23, 1963, a former NSA employee published several cryptologic secrets.

The very same day, an NSA clerk-messenger committed suicide as ongoing investigations disclosed that he had sold secret information to the Soviets on a regular basis. The reluctance of Congressional houses to look into these affairs had prompted a journalist to write, “If a similar series of tragic blunders occurred in any ordinary agency of Government an aroused public would insist that those responsible be officially censured, demoted, or fired.” David Kahn criticized the NSA’s tactics of concealing its doings as smug and the Congress’ blind faith in the agency’s right-doing as shortsighted, and pointed out the necessity of surveillance by the Congress to prevent abuse of power.[109]

Edward Snowden‘s leaking of the existence of PRISM in 2013 caused the NSA to institute a “two-man rule“, where two system administrators are required to be present when one accesses certain sensitive information.[108] Snowden claims he suggested such a rule in 2009.[110]

Polygraphin

Defense Security Service (DSS) polygraph brochure given to NSA applicants

The NSA conducts polygraph tests of employees. For new employees, the tests are meant to discover enemy spies who are applying to the NSA and to uncover any information that could make an applicant pliant to coercion.[111] As part of the latter, historically EPQs or “embarrassing personal questions” about sexual behavior had been included in the NSA polygraph.[111] The NSA also conducts five-year periodic reinvestigation polygraphs of employees, focusing on counterintelligence programs. In addition the NSA conducts periodic polygraph investigations in order to find spies and leakers; those who refuse to take them may receive “termination of employment”, according to a 1982 memorandum from the director of the NSA.[112]

File:NSApolygraphvideo.webm

NSA-produced video on the polygraph process

There are also “special access examination” polygraphs for employees who wish to work in highly sensitive areas, and those polygraphs cover counterintelligence questions and some questions about behavior.[112] NSA’s brochure states that the average test length is between two and four hours.[113] A 1983 report of the Office of Technology Assessment stated that “It appears that the NSA [National Security Agency] (and possibly CIA) use the polygraph not to determine deception or truthfulness per se, but as a technique of interrogation to encourage admissions.”[114]Sometimes applicants in the polygraph process confess to committing felonies such as murder, rape, and selling of illegal drugs. Between 1974 and 1979, of the 20,511 job applicants who took polygraph tests, 695 (3.4%) confessed to previous felony crimes; almost all of those crimes had been undetected.[111]

In 2010 the NSA produced a video explaining its polygraph process.[115] The video, ten minutes long, is titled “The Truth About the Polygraph” and was posted to the Web site of the Defense Security Service. Jeff Stein of The Washington Post said that the video portrays “various applicants, or actors playing them — it’s not clear — describing everything bad they had heard about the test, the implication being that none of it is true.”[116] AntiPolygraph.org argues that the NSA-produced video omits some information about the polygraph process; it produced a video responding to the NSA video.[115] George Maschke, the founder of the Web site, accused the NSA polygraph video of being “Orwellian“.[116]

After Edward Snowden revealed his identity in 2013, the NSA began requiring polygraphing of employees once per quarter.[117]

Arbitrary firing

The number of exemptions from legal requirements has been criticized. When in 1964 the Congress was hearing a bill giving the director of the NSA the power to fire at will any employee,The Washington Post wrote: “This is the very definition of arbitrariness. It means that an employee could be discharged and disgraced on the basis of anonymous allegations without the slightest opportunity to defend himself.” Yet, the bill was accepted by an overwhelming majority.[109]

Insignia and memorials

Seal of the U.S. National Security Agency.svg

The heraldic insignia of NSA consists of an eagle inside a circle, grasping a key in its talons.[118] The eagle represents the agency’s national mission.[118] Its breast features a shield with bands of red and white, taken from the Great Seal of the United States and representing Congress.[118] The key is taken from the emblem of Saint Peter and represents security.[118]

When the NSA was created, the agency had no emblem and used that of the Department of Defense.[119] The agency adopted its first of two emblems in 1963.[119] The current NSA insignia has been in use since 1965, when then-Director, LTG Marshall S. Carter (USA) ordered the creation of a device to represent the agency.[120]

The NSA’s flag consists of the agency’s seal on a light blue background.

National Cryptologic Memorial

Crews associated with NSA missions have been involved in a number of dangerous and deadly situations.[121] The USS Liberty incident in 1967 and USS Pueblo incident in 1968 are examples of the losses endured during the Cold War.[121]

The National Security Agency/Central Security Service Cryptologic Memorial honors and remembers the fallen personnel, both military and civilian, of these intelligence missions.[122] It is made of black granite, and has 171 names carved into it, as of 2013 .[122] It is located at NSA headquarters. A tradition of declassifying the stories of the fallen was begun in 2001.[122]

NSANet (NSA’s intranet)

Behind the Green Door – Secure communications room with separate computer terminals for access to SIPRNET, GWAN, NSANET, and JWICS

NSANet stands for National Security Agency Network and is the official NSA intranet.[123] It is a classified network,[124] for information up to the level of TS/SCI[125] to support the use and sharing of intelligence data between NSA and the signals intelligence agencies of the four other nations of the Five Eyes partnership. The management of NSANet has been delegated to the Central Security Service Texas (CSSTEXAS).[126]

NSANet is a highly secured computer network consisting of fiber-optic and satellite communication channels which are almost completely separated from the public Internet. The network allows NSA personnel and civilian and military intelligence analysts anywhere in the world to have access to the agency’s systems and databases. This access is tightly controlled and monitored. For example, every keystroke is logged, activities are audited at random and downloading and printing of documents from NSANet are recorded.[127]

In 1998, NSANet, along with NIPRNET and SIPRNET, had “significant problems with poor search capabilities, unorganized data and old information”.[128] In 2004, the network was reported to have used over twenty commercial off-the-shelf operating systems.[129] Some universities that do highly sensitive research are allowed to connect to it.[130]

The thousands of Top Secret internal NSA documents that were taken by Edward Snowden in 2013 were stored in “a file-sharing location on the NSA’s intranet site” so they could easily be read online by NSA personnel. Everyone with a TS/SCI-clearance had access to these documents and as a system administrator, Snowden was responsible for moving accidentally misplaced highly sensitive documents to more secure storage locations.[131]

National Computer Security Center

The DoD Computer Security Center was founded in 1981 and renamed the National Computer Security Center (NCSC) in 1985. NCSC was responsible for computer security throughout the federal government.[132] NCSC was part of NSA,[133] and during the late 1980s and the 1990s, NSA and NCSC published Trusted Computer System Evaluation Criteria in a six-foot high Rainbow Series of books that detailed trusted computing and network platform specifications.[134] The Rainbow books were replaced by the Common Criteria, however, in the early 2000s.[134]

Facilities

Headquarters

National Security Agency headquarters in Fort Meade, 2013

Headquarters for the National Security Agency is located at 39°6′32″N 76°46′17″W in Fort George G. Meade, Maryland, although it is separate from other compounds and agencies that are based within this same military installation. Ft. Meade is about 20 mi (32 km) southwest of Baltimore,[135] and 25 mi (40 km) northeast of Washington, DC.[136] The NSA has its own exit off Maryland Route 295 South labeled “NSA Employees Only”.[137][138] The exit may only be used by people with the proper clearances, and security vehicles parked along the road guard the entrance.[139]

NSA is the largest employer in the U.S. state of Maryland, and two-thirds of its personnel work at Ft. Meade.[140] Built on 350 acres (140 ha; 0.55 sq mi)[141] of Ft. Meade’s 5,000 acres (2,000 ha; 7.8 sq mi),[142] the site has 1,300 buildings and an estimated 18,000 parking spaces.[136][143]

NSA headquarters building in Fort Meade (left), NSOC (right)

The main NSA headquarters and operations building is what James Bamford, author of Body of Secrets, describes as “a modern boxy structure” that appears similar to “any stylish office building.”[144] The building is covered with one-way dark glass, which is lined with copper shielding in order to prevent espionage by trapping in signals and sounds.[144] It contains 3,000,000 square feet (280,000 m2), or more than 68 acres (28 ha), of floor space; Bamford said that the U.S. Capitol “could easily fit inside it four times over.”[144]

The facility has over 100 watchposts,[145] one of them being the visitor control center, a two-story area that serves as the entrance.[144] At the entrance, a white pentagonal structure,[146] visitor badges are issued to visitors and security clearances of employees are checked.[147] The visitor center includes a painting of the NSA seal.[146]

The OPS2A building, the tallest building in the NSA complex and the location of much of the agency’s operations directorate, is accessible from the visitor center. Bamford described it as a “dark glass Rubik’s Cube“.[148] The facility’s “red corridor” houses non-security operations such as concessions and the drug store. The name refers to the “red badge” which is worn by someone without a security clearance. The NSA headquarters includes a cafeteria, a credit union, ticket counters for airlines and entertainment, a barbershop, and a bank.[146] NSA headquarters has its own post office, fire department, and police force.[149][150][151]

The employees at the NSA headquarters reside in various places in the Baltimore-Washington area, including Annapolis, Baltimore, and Columbia in Maryland and the District of Columbia, including the Georgetown community.[152]

Power consumption

Due to massive amounts of data processing, NSA is the largest electricity consumer in Maryland.[140]

Following a major power outage in 2000, in 2003 and in follow-ups through 2007, The Baltimore Sun reported that the NSA was at risk of electrical overload because of insufficient internal electrical infrastructure at Fort Meade to support the amount of equipment being installed. This problem was apparently recognized in the 1990s but not made a priority, and “now the agency’s ability to keep its operations going is threatened.”[153]

Baltimore Gas & Electric (BGE, now Constellation Energy) provided NSA with 65 to 75 megawatts at Ft. Meade in 2007, and expected that an increase of 10 to 15 megawatts would be needed later that year.[154] In 2011, NSA at Ft. Meade was Maryland’s largest consumer of power.[140] In 2007, as BGE’s largest customer, NSA bought as much electricity as Annapolis, the capital city of Maryland.[153]

One estimate put the potential for power consumption by the new Utah Data Center at US$40 million per year.[155]

History of headquarters

Headquarters at Fort Meade circa 1950s

When the agency was established, its headquarters and cryptographic center were in the Naval Security Station in Washington, D.C. The COMINT functions were located in Arlington Hall in Northern Virginia, which served as the headquarters of the U.S. Army‘s cryptographic operations.[156]Because the Soviet Union had detonated a nuclear bomb and because the facilities were crowded, the federal government wanted to move several agencies, including the AFSA/NSA. A planning committee considered Fort Knox, but Fort Meade, Maryland, was ultimately chosen as NSA headquarters because it was far enough away from Washington, D.C. in case of a nuclear strike and was close enough so its employees would not have to move their families.[157]

Construction of additional buildings began after the agency occupied buildings at Ft. Meade in the late 1950s, which they soon outgrew.[157] In 1963 the new headquarters building, nine stories tall, opened. NSA workers referred to the building as the “Headquarters Building” and since the NSA management occupied the top floor, workers used “Ninth Floor” to refer to their leaders.[158] COMSEC remained in Washington, D.C., until its new building was completed in 1968.[157] In September 1986, the Operations 2A and 2B buildings, both copper-shielded to prevent eavesdropping, opened with a dedication by President Ronald Reagan.[159] The four NSA buildings became known as the “Big Four.”[159] The NSA director moved to 2B when it opened.[159]

Fort Meade shooting[edit]

On March 30, 2015, shortly before 9 am, a stolen sports utility vehicle approached an NSA police vehicle blocking the road near the gate of Fort Meade, after it was told to leave the area. NSA officers fired on the SUV, killing the 27-year-old driver, Ricky Hall (a transgender person also known as Mya), and seriously injuring his 20-year-old male passenger. An NSA officer’s arm was injured when Hall subsequently crashed into his vehicle.[160][161]

The two, dressed in women’s clothing after a night of partying at a motel with the man they’d stolen the SUV from that morning, “attempted to drive a vehicle into the National Security Agency portion of the installation without authorization”, according to an NSA statement.[162] FBI spokeswoman Amy Thoreson said the incident is not believed to be related to terrorism.[163]In June 2015 the FBI closed its investigation into the incident and federal prosecutors have declined to bring charges against anyone involved.[164]

An anonymous police official told The Washington Post, “This was not a deliberate attempt to breach the security of NSA. This was not a planned attack.” The two are believed to have made a wrong turn off the highway, while fleeing from the motel after stealing the vehicle. A small amount of cocaine was found in the SUV. A local CBS reporter initially said a gun was found,[165]but her later revision does not.[166] Dozens of journalists were corralled into a parking lot blocks away from the scene, and were barred from photographing the area.[167]

Computing[edit]

In 1995, The Baltimore Sun reported that the NSA is the owner of the single largest group of supercomputers.[168]

NSA held a groundbreaking ceremony at Ft. Meade in May 2013 for its High Performance Computing Center 2, expected to open in 2016.[169] Called Site M, the center has a 150 megawatt power substation, 14 administrative buildings and 10 parking garages.[149] It cost $3.2 billion and covers 227 acres (92 ha; 0.355 sq mi).[149] The center is 1,800,000 square feet (17 ha; 0.065 sq mi)[149] and initially uses 60 megawatts of electricity.[170]

Increments II and III are expected to be completed by 2030, and would quadruple the space, covering 5,800,000 square feet (54 ha; 0.21 sq mi) with 60 buildings and 40 parking garages.[149] Defense contractors are also establishing or expanding cybersecurity facilities near the NSA and around the Washington metropolitan area.[149]

Other U.S. facilities

Buckley Air Force Base in Colorado

Utah Data Center

As of 2012, NSA collected intelligence from four geostationary satellites.[155] Satellite receivers were at Roaring Creek Station in Catawissa, Pennsylvania and Salt Creek Station in Arbuckle, California.[155] It operated ten to twenty taps on U.S. telecom switches. NSA had installations in several U.S. states and from them observed intercepts from Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, Latin America, and Asia.[155]

NSA had facilities at Friendship Annex (FANX) in Linthicum, Maryland, which is a 20 to 25-minute drive from Ft. Meade;[171] the Aerospace Data Facility at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora outside Denver, Colorado; NSA Texas in the Texas Cryptology Center at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas; NSA Georgia at Fort Gordon in Augusta, Georgia; NSA Hawaii in Honolulu; the Multiprogram Research Facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and elsewhere.[152][155]

On January 6, 2011 a groundbreaking ceremony was held to begin construction on NSA’s first Comprehensive National Cyber-security Initiative (CNCI) Data Center, known as the “Utah Data Center” for short. The $1.5B data center is being built at Camp Williams, Utah, located 25 miles (40 km) south of Salt Lake City, and will help support the agency’s National Cyber-security Initiative.[172] It is expected to be operational by September 2013.[155]

In 2009, to protect its assets and to access more electricity, NSA sought to decentralize and expand its existing facilities in Ft. Meade and Menwith Hill,[173] the latter expansion expected to be completed by 2015.[174]

The Yakima Herald-Republic cited Bamford, saying that many of NSA’s bases for its Echelon program were a legacy system, using outdated, 1990s technology.[175] In 2004, NSA closed its operations at Bad Aibling Station (Field Station 81) in Bad Aibling, Germany.[176] In 2012, NSA began to move some of its operations at Yakima Research Station, Yakima Training Center, in Washington state to Colorado, planning to leave Yakima closed.[177] As of 2013, NSA also intended to close operations at Sugar Grove, West Virginia.[175]

International stations

RAF Menwith Hill has the largest NSA presence in the United Kingdom.[174]

Following the signing in 1946–1956[178] of the UKUSA Agreement between the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, who then cooperated on signals intelligence and ECHELON,[179] NSA stations were built at GCHQ Bude in Morwenstow, United Kingdom; Geraldton, Pine Gap and Shoal Bay, Australia; Leitrim and Ottawa, Canada; Misawa, Japan; and Waihopai and Tangimoana,[180] New Zealand.[181]

NSA operates RAF Menwith Hill in North Yorkshire, United Kingdom, which was, according to BBC News in 2007, the largest electronic monitoring station in the world.[182] Planned in 1954, and opened in 1960, the base covered 562 acres (227 ha; 0.878 sq mi) in 1999.[183]

The agency’s European Cryptologic Center (ECC), with 240 employees in 2011, is headquartered at a US military compound in Griesheim, near Frankfurt in Germany. A 2011 NSA report indicates that the ECC is responsible for the “largest analysis and productivity in Europe” and focusses on various priorities, including Africa, Europe, the Middle East and counterterrorism operations.[184]

In 2013, a new Consolidated Intelligence Center, also to be used by NSA, is being built at the headquarters of the United States Army Europe in Wiesbaden, Germany.[185] NSA’s partnership with Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), the German foreign intelligence service, was confirmed by BND president Gerhard Schindler.[185]

Thailand

Thailand is a “3rd party partner” of the NSA along with nine other nations.[186] These are non-English-speaking countries that have made security agreements for the exchange of SIGINT raw material and end product reports.

Thailand is the site of at least two US SIGINT collection stations. One is at the US Embassy in Bangkok, a joint NSA-CIA Special Collection Service (SCS) unit. It presumably eavesdrops on foreign embassies, governmental communications, and other targets of opportunity.[187]

The second installation is a FORNSAT (foreign satellite interception) station in the Thai city of Khon Kaen. It is codenamed INDRA, but has also been referred to as LEMONWOOD.[187] The station is approximately 40 ha (100 acres) in size and consists of a large 3,700–4,600 m2 (40,000–50,000 ft2) operations building on the west side of the ops compound and four radome-enclosed parabolic antennas. Possibly two of the radome-enclosed antennas are used for SATCOM intercept and two antennas used for relaying the intercepted material back to NSA. There is also a PUSHER-type circularly-disposed antenna array (CDAA) array just north of the ops compound.[188][189]

NSA activated Khon Kaen in October 1979. Its mission was to eavesdrop on the radio traffic of Chinese army and air force units in southern China, especially in and around the city of Kunming in Yunnan Province. Back in the late 1970s the base consisted only of a small CDAA antenna array that was remote-controlled via satellite from the NSA listening post at Kunia, Hawaii, and a small force of civilian contractors from Bendix Field Engineering Corp. whose job it was to keep the antenna array and satellite relay facilities up and running 24/7.[188]

According to the papers of the late General William Odom, the INDRA facility was upgraded in 1986 with a new British-made PUSHER CDAA antenna as part of an overall upgrade of NSA and Thai SIGINT facilities whose objective was to spy on the neighboring communist nations of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.[188]

The base apparently fell into disrepair in the 1990s as China and Vietnam became more friendly towards the US, and by 2002 archived satellite imagery showed that the PUSHER CDAA antenna had been torn down, perhaps indicating that the base had been closed. At some point in the period since 9/11, the Khon Kaen base was reactivated and expanded to include a sizeable SATCOM intercept mission. It is likely that the NSA presence at Khon Kaen is relatively small, and that most of the work is done by civilian contractors.[188]

Mission

NSA’s eavesdropping mission includes radio broadcasting, both from various organizations and individuals, the Internet, telephone calls, and other intercepted forms of communication. Its secure communications mission includes military, diplomatic, and all other sensitive, confidential or secret government communications.[190]

According to the Washington Post, “[e]very day, collection systems at the National Security Agency intercept and store 1.7 billion e-mails, phone calls and other types of communications. The NSA sorts a fraction of those into 70 separate databases.”[191]

Because of its listening task, NSA/CSS has been heavily involved in cryptanalytic research, continuing the work of predecessor agencies which had broken many World War II codes and ciphers (see, for instance, Purple, Venona project, and JN-25).

In 2004, NSA Central Security Service and the National Cyber Security Division of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agreed to expand NSA Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education Program.[192]

As part of the National Security Presidential Directive 54/Homeland Security Presidential Directive 23 (NSPD 54), signed on January 8, 2008 by President Bush, the NSA became the lead agency to monitor and protect all of the federal government’s computer networks from cyber-terrorism.[9]

Operations

Operations by the National Security Agency can be divided in three types:

  • Collection overseas, which falls under the responsibility of the Global Access Operations (GAO) division.
  • Domestic collection, which falls under the responsibility of the Special Source Operations (SSO) division.
  • Hacking operations, which falls under the responsibility of the Tailored Access Operations (TAO) division.

Collection overseas

Echelon

Main article: ECHELON

Echelon was created in the incubator of the Cold War.[193] Today it is a legacy system, and several NSA stations are closing.[175]

NSA/CSS, in combination with the equivalent agencies in the United Kingdom (Government Communications Headquarters), Canada (Communications Security Establishment), Australia (Defence Signals Directorate), and New Zealand (Government Communications Security Bureau), otherwise known as the UKUSA group,[194] was reported to be in command of the operation of the so-called ECHELON system. Its capabilities were suspected to include the ability to monitor a large proportion of the world’s transmitted civilian telephone, fax and data traffic.[195]

During the early 1970s, the first of what became more than eight large satellite communications dishes were installed at Menwith Hill.[196] Investigative journalist Duncan Campbell reported in 1988 on the ECHELON surveillance program, an extension of the UKUSA Agreement on global signals intelligence SIGINT, and detailed how the eavesdropping operations worked.[197] In November 3, 1999 the BBC reported that they had confirmation from the Australian Government of the existence of a powerful “global spying network” code-named Echelon, that could “eavesdrop on every single phone call, fax or e-mail, anywhere on the planet” with Britain and the United States as the chief protagonists. They confirmed that Menwith Hill was “linked directly to the headquarters of the US National Security Agency (NSA) at Fort Meade in Maryland”.[198]

NSA’s United States Signals Intelligence Directive 18 (USSID 18) strictly prohibited the interception or collection of information about “… U.S. persons, entities, corporations or organizations….” without explicit written legal permission from the United States Attorney General when the subject is located abroad, or the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court when within U.S. borders. Alleged Echelon-related activities, including its use for motives other than national security, including political and industrial espionage, received criticism from countries outside the UKUSA alliance.[199][200]

Protesters against NSA data mining in Berlin wearing Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden masks.

Other SIGINT operations overseas

The NSA is also involved in planning to blackmail people with “SEXINT“, intelligence gained about a potential target’s sexual activity and preferences. Those targeted had not committed any apparent crime nor were charged with one.[201]

In order to support its facial recognition program, the NSA is intercepting “millions of images per day”.[202]

The Real Time Regional Gateway is a data collection program introduced in 2005 in Iraq by NSA during the Iraq War that consisted of gathering all electronic communication, storing it, then searching and otherwise analyzing it. It was effective in providing information about Iraqi insurgents who had eluded less comprehensive techniques.[203] This “collect it all” strategy introduced by NSA director, Keith B. Alexander, is believed by Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian to be the model for the comprehensive worldwide mass archiving of communications which NSA is engaged in as of 2013.[204]

BoundlessInformant

Edward Snowden revealed in June 2013 that between February 8 and March 8, 2013, the NSA collected about 124.8 billion telephone data items and 97.1 billion computer data items throughout the world, as was displayed in charts from an internal NSA tool codenamed Boundless Informant. It was reported that some of these data reflected eavesdropping on citizens in countries like Germany, Spain and France.[205]

BoundlessInformant employs big data databases, cloud computing technology, and Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) to analyze data collected worldwide by the NSA.[206]

Bypassing encryption

In 2013, reporters uncovered a secret memo that claims the NSA created and pushed for the adoption of the Dual_EC_DRBG encryption standard that contained built-in vulnerabilities in 2006 to the United States National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the International Organization for Standardization (aka ISO).[207][208] This memo appears to give credence to previous speculation by cryptographers at Microsoft Research.[209] Edward Snowden claims that the NSA often bypasses encryption altogether by lifting information before it is encrypted or after it is decrypted.[208]

XKeyscore rules (as specified in a file xkeyscorerules100.txt, sourced by German TV stations NDR and WDR, who claim to have excerpts from its source code) reveal that the NSA tracks users of privacy-enhancing software tools, including Tor; an anonymous email service provided by the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) in Cambridge, Massachusetts; and readers of the Linux Journal.[210][211]

Domestic activity

NSA’s mission, as set forth in Executive Order 12333 in 1981, is to collect information that constitutes “foreign intelligence or counterintelligence” while not “acquiring information concerning the domestic activities of United States persons”. NSA has declared that it relies on the FBI to collect information on foreign intelligence activities within the borders of the United States, while confining its own activities within the United States to the embassies and missions of foreign nations.[212] The appearance of a ‘Domestic Surveillance Directorate’ of the NSA was soon exposed as a hoax in 2013.[213][214]

NSA’s domestic surveillance activities are limited by the requirements imposed by the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for example held in October 2011, citing multiple Supreme Court precedents, that the Fourth Amendment prohibitions against unreasonable searches and seizures applies to the contents of all communications, whatever the means, because “a person’s private communications are akin to personal papers.”[215] However, these protections do not apply to non-U.S. persons located outside of U.S. borders, so the NSA’s foreign surveillance efforts are subject to far fewer limitations under U.S. law.[216] The specific requirements for domestic surveillance operations are contained in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA), which does not extend protection to non-U.S. citizens located outside of U.S. territory.[216]

George W. Bush administration

George W. Bush, president during the 9/11 terrorist attacks, approved the Patriot Act shortly after the attacks to take anti-terrorist security measures. Title 1, 2, and 9 specifically authorized measures that would be taken by the NSA. These titles granted enhanced domestic security against terrorism, surveillance procedures, and improved intelligence, respectively. On March 10, 2004, there was a debate between President Bush and White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales, Attorney General John Ashcroft, and Acting Attorney General James Comey. The Attorney Generals were unsure if the NSA’s programs could be considered constitutional. They threatened to resign over the matter, but ultimately the NSA’s programs continued.[217] On March 11, 2004, President Bush signed a new authorization for mass surveillance of Internet records, in addition to the surveillance of phone records.This allowed the president to be able to override laws such as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which protected civilians from mass surveillance. In addition to this, President Bush also signed that the measures of mass surveillance were also retroactively in place.[218]

Warrantless wiretaps

On December 16, 2005, The New York Times reported that, under White House pressure and with an executive order from President George W. Bush, the National Security Agency, in an attempt to thwart terrorism, had been tapping phone calls made to persons outside the country, without obtaining warrants from the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, a secret court created for that purpose under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).[219]

One such surveillance program, authorized by the U.S. Signals Intelligence Directive 18 of President George Bush, was the Highlander Project undertaken for the National Security Agency by the U.S. Army 513th Military Intelligence Brigade. NSA relayed telephone (including cell phone) conversations obtained from ground, airborne, and satellite monitoring stations to various U.S. Army Signal Intelligence Officers, including the 201st Military Intelligence Battalion. Conversations of citizens of the U.S. were intercepted, along with those of other nations.[220]

Proponents of the surveillance program claim that the President has executive authority to order such action, arguing that laws such as FISA are overridden by the President’s Constitutional powers. In addition, some argued that FISA was implicitly overridden by a subsequent statute, the Authorization for Use of Military Force, although the Supreme Court’s ruling in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld deprecates this view. In the August 2006 case ACLU v. NSA, U.S. District Court Judge Anna Diggs Taylor concluded that NSA’s warrantless surveillance program was both illegal and unconstitutional. On July 6, 2007 the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the decision on the grounds that the ACLU lacked standing to bring the suit.[221]

On January 17, 2006, the Center for Constitutional Rights filed a lawsuit, CCR v. Bush, against the George W. Bush Presidency. The lawsuit challenged the National Security Agency’s (NSA’s) surveillance of people within the U.S., including the interception of CCR emails without securing a warrant first.[222][223]

In September 2008, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a class action lawsuit against the NSA and several high-ranking officials of the Bush administration,[224] charging an “illegal and unconstitutional program of dragnet communications surveillance,”[225] based on documentation provided by former AT&T technician Mark Klein.[226]

As a result of the USA Freedom Act passed by Congress in June 2015, the NSA had to shut down its bulk phone surveillance program on November 29 of the same year. The USA Freedom Act forbids the NSA to collect metadata and content of phone calls unless it has a warrant for terrorism investigation. In that case the agency has to ask the telecom companies for the record, which will only be kept for six months.

AT&T Internet monitoring

In May 2006, Mark Klein, a former AT&T employee, alleged that his company had cooperated with NSA in installing Narus hardware to replace the FBI Carnivore program, to monitor network communications including traffic between American citizens.[227]

Data mining

NSA was reported in 2008 to use its computing capability to analyze “transactional” data that it regularly acquires from other government agencies, which gather it under their own jurisdictional authorities. As part of this effort, NSA now monitors huge volumes of records of domestic email data, web addresses from Internet searches, bank transfers, credit-card transactions, travel records, and telephone data, according to current and former intelligence officials interviewed by The Wall Street Journal. The sender, recipient, and subject line of emails can be included, but the content of the messages or of phone calls are not.[228]

A 2013 advisory group for the Obama administration, seeking to reform NSA spying programs following the revelations of documents released by Edward J. Snowden.[229] mentioned in ‘Recommendation 30’ on page 37, “…that the National Security Council staff should manage an interagency process to review on a regular basis the activities of the US Government regarding attacks that exploit a previously unknown vulnerability in a computer application.” Retired cyber security expert Richard A. Clarke was a group member and stated on April 11 that NSA had no advance knowledge of Heartbleed.[230]

Illegally obtained evidence

In August 2013 it was revealed that a 2005 IRS training document showed that NSA intelligence intercepts and wiretaps, both foreign and domestic, were being supplied to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and were illegally used to launch criminal investigations of US citizens. Law enforcement agents were directed to conceal how the investigations began and recreate an apparently legal investigative trail by re-obtaining the same evidence by other means.[231][232]

Barack Obama administration

In the months leading to April 2009, the NSA intercepted the communications of American citizens, including a Congressman, although the Justice Department believed that the interception was unintentional. The Justice Department then took action to correct the issues and bring the program into compliance with existing laws.[233] United States Attorney General Eric Holder resumed the program according to his understanding of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act amendment of 2008, without explaining what had occurred.[234]

Polls conducted in June 2013 found divided results among Americans regarding NSA’s secret data collection.[235] Rasmussen Reports found that 59% of Americans disapprove,[236] Gallup found that 53% disapprove,[237] and Pew found that 56% are in favor of NSA data collection.[238]

Section 215 metadata collection

On April 25, 2013, the NSA obtained a court order requiring Verizon‘s Business Network Services to provide metadata on all calls in its system to the NSA “on an ongoing daily basis” for a three-month period, as reported by The Guardian on June 6, 2013. This information includes “the numbers of both parties on a call … location data, call duration, unique identifiers, and the time and duration of all calls” but not “[t]he contents of the conversation itself”. The order relies on the so-called “business records” provision of the Patriot Act.[239][240]

In August 2013, following the Snowden leaks, new details about the NSA’s data mining activity were revealed. Reportedly, the majority of emails into or out of the United States are captured at “selected communications links” and automatically analyzed for keywords or other “selectors”. Emails that do not match are deleted.[241]

The utility of such a massive metadata collection in preventing terrorist attacks is disputed. Many studies reveal the dragnet like system to be ineffective. One such report, released by the New America Foundation concluded that after an analysis of 225 terrorism cases, the NSA “had no discernible impact on preventing acts of terrorism.”[242]

Defenders of the program say that while metadata alone can’t provide all the information necessary to prevent an attack, it assures the ability to “connect the dots”[243] between suspect foreign numbers and domestic numbers with a speed only the NSA’s software is capable of. One benefit of this is quickly being able to determine the difference between suspicious activity and real threats.[citation needed] As an example, NSA director General Keith Alexander mentioned at the annual Cybersecurity Summit in 2013, that metadata analysis of domestic phone call records after the Boston Marathon bombing helped determine that[clarification needed] another attack in New York was baseless.[243]

In addition to doubts about its effectiveness, many people argue that the collection of metadata is an unconstitutional invasion of privacy. As of 2015, the collection process remains legal and grounded in the ruling from Smith v. Maryland (1979). A prominent opponent of the data collection and its legality is U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon, who issued a report in 2013[244] in which he stated: “I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’ than this systematic and high tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval…Surely, such a program infringes on ‘that degree of privacy’ that the founders enshrined in the Fourth Amendment”.

The PRISM program[edit]

PRISM: a clandestine surveillance program under which the NSA collects user data from companies like Microsoft and Facebook.

Under the PRISM program, which started in 2007,[245][246] NSA gathers Internet communications from foreign targets from nine major U.S. Internet-based communication service providers: Microsoft,[247] Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube and Apple. Data gathered include email, video and voice chat, videos, photos, VoIP chats such as Skype, and file transfers.

June 2015 – WikiLeaks: Industrial espionage

In June 2015, Wikileaks published documents, which showed that NSA spied on French companies.[248]

July 2015 – WikiLeaks: Espionage against German federal ministries[edit]

In July 2015, WikiLeaks published documents, which showed that NSA spied on federal German ministries since 1990s.[249][250] Even Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel‘s cellphones and phone of her predecessors had been intercepted.[251]

Claims of prevented terrorist attacks

Former NSA director General Keith Alexander claimed that in September 2009 the NSA prevented Najibullah Zazi and his friends from carrying out a terrorist attack.[252] However, this claim has been debunked and no evidence has been presented demonstrating that the NSA has ever been instrumental in preventing a terrorist attack.[253][254][255][256]

Hacking operations

Besides the more traditional ways of eavesdropping in order to collect signals intelligence, NSA is also engaged in hacking computers, smartphones and their networks. These operations are conducted by the Tailored Access Operations (TAO) division.

NSA’s China hacking group

According to the Foreign Policy magazine, “… the Office of Tailored Access Operations, or TAO, has successfully penetrated Chinese computer and telecommunications systems for almost 15 years, generating some of the best and most reliable intelligence information about what is going on inside the People’s Republic of China.”[257][258]

Syrian internet blackout

In an interview with Wired magazine, Edward Snowden said the Tailored Access Operations division accidentally caused Syria‘s internet blackout in 2012.[259]

Suspected responsibility for hacking operations by the Equation Group[edit]

The espionage group named the Equation Group, described by discoverers Kaspersky Labs as one of the most advanced (if not the most advanced) in the world as of 2015,[260]:31 and connected to over 500 malware infections in at least 42 countries over many years, is suspected of being a part of NSA.[261][262] The group’s known espionage methods have been documented to include interdiction (interception of legitimate CDs sent by a scientific conference organizer by mail),[260]:15 and the “unprecedented” ability to infect and be transmitted through the hard drive firmware of several of the major hard drive manufacturers, and create and use hidden disk areas and virtual disk systems for its purposes, a feat demanding access to the manufacturer’s source code of each to achieve.[260]:16–18 The methods used to deploy the tools demonstrated “surgical precision”, going so far as to exclude specific countries by IP and allow targeting of specific usernames on discussion forums.[260]:23–26 The techniques and knowledge used by the Equation Group are considered in summary to be “out of the reach of most advanced threat groups in the world except [this group].[260]:31

Software backdoors

Linux kerne

Linus Torvalds, the founder of Linux kernel, joked during a LinuxCon keynote on September 18, 2013 that the NSA, who are the founder of SELinux, wanted a backdoor in the kernel.[263]However, later, Linus’ father, a Member of the European Parliament (MEP), revealed that the NSA actually did this.[264]

When my oldest son [Linus Torvalds] was asked the same question: “Has he been approached by the NSA about backdoors?” he said “No”, but at the same time he nodded. Then he was sort of in the legal free. He had given the right answer, [but] everybody understood that the NSA had approached him.

— Nils Torvalds, LIBE Committee Inquiry on Electronic Mass Surveillance of EU Citizens – 11th Hearing, 11 November 2013[265]
Microsoft Windows
Main article: _NSAKEY

_NSAKEY was a variable name discovered in Microsoft‘s Windows NT 4 Service Pack 5 (which had been released unstripped of its symbolic debugging data) in August 1999 by Andrew D. Fernandes of Cryptonym Corporation. That variable contained a 1024-bit public key.

IBM Notes

IBM Notes was the first widely adopted software product to use public key cryptography for client–server and server–server authentication and for encryption of data. Until US laws regulating encryption were changed in 2000, IBM and Lotus were prohibited from exporting versions of Notes that supported symmetric encryption keys that were longer than 40 bits. In 1997, Lotus negotiated an agreement with the NSA that allowed export of a version that supported stronger keys with 64 bits, but 24 of the bits were encrypted with a special key and included in the message to provide a “workload reduction factor” for the NSA. This strengthened the protection for users of Notes outside the US against private-sector industrial espionage, but not against spying by the US government.[266][267]

Boomerang routing

While it is assumed that foreign transmissions terminating in the U.S. (such as a non-U.S. citizen accessing a U.S. website) subject non-U.S. citizens to NSA surveillance, recent research into boomerang routing has raised new concerns about the NSA’s ability to surveil the domestic Internet traffic of foreign countries.[18] Boomerang routing occurs when an Internet transmission that originates and terminates in a single country transits another. Research at the University of Toronto has suggested that approximately 25% of Canadian domestic traffic may be subject to NSA surveillance activities as a result of the boomerang routing of Canadian Internet service providers.[18]

Hardware implanting

Intercepted packages are opened carefully by NSA employees
A “load station” implanting a beacon

A document included in NSA files released with Glenn Greenwald‘s book No Place to Hide details how the agency’s Tailored Access Operations (TAO) and other NSA units gain access to hardware. They intercept routers, servers and other network hardware being shipped to organizations targeted for surveillance and install covert implant firmware onto them before they are delivered. This was described by an NSA manager as “some of the most productive operations in TAO because they preposition access points into hard target networks around the world.”[268]

Computers seized by the NSA due to interdiction are often modified with a physical device known as Cottonmouth.[269]Cottonmouth is a device that can be inserted in the USB port of a computer in order to establish remote access to the targeted machine. According to NSA’s Tailored Access Operations (TAO) group implant catalog, after implanting Cottonmouth, the NSA can establish Bridging (networking) “that allows the NSA to load exploit software onto modified computers as well as allowing the NSA to relay commands and data between hardware and software implants.”[270]

Role in scientific research and development[

NSA has been involved in debates about public policy, both indirectly as a behind-the-scenes adviser to other departments, and directly during and after Vice Admiral Bobby Ray Inman‘s directorship. NSA was a major player in the debates of the 1990s regarding the export of cryptography in the United States. Restrictions on export were reduced but not eliminated in 1996.

Its secure government communications work has involved the NSA in numerous technology areas, including the design of specialized communications hardware and software, production of dedicated semiconductors (at the Ft. Meade chip fabrication plant), and advanced cryptography research. For 50 years, NSA designed and built most of its computer equipment in-house, but from the 1990s until about 2003 (when the U.S. Congress curtailed the practice), the agency contracted with the private sector in the fields of research and equipment.[271]

Data Encryption Standard

FROSTBURG was the NSA’s first supercomputer, used from 1991 to 1997

NSA was embroiled in some minor controversy concerning its involvement in the creation of the Data Encryption Standard (DES), a standard and public block cipher algorithm used by the U.S. government and banking community. During the development of DES by IBM in the 1970s, NSA recommended changes to some details of the design. There was suspicion that these changes had weakened the algorithm sufficiently to enable the agency to eavesdrop if required, including speculation that a critical component—the so-called S-boxes—had been altered to insert a “backdoor” and that the reduction in key length might have made it feasible for NSA to discover DES keys using massive computing power. It has since been observed that the S-boxes in DES are particularly resilient against differential cryptanalysis, a technique which was not publicly discovered until the late 1980s, but which was known to the IBM DES team.

The United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence reviewed NSA’s involvement, and concluded that while the agency had provided some assistance, it had not tampered with the design.[272][273] In late 2009 NSA declassified information stating that “NSA worked closely with IBM to strengthen the algorithm against all except brute force attacks and to strengthen substitution tables, called S-boxes. Conversely, NSA tried to convince IBM to reduce the length of the key from 64 to 48 bits. Ultimately they compromised on a 56-bit key.”[274][275]

Advanced Encryption Standard

The involvement of NSA in the selection of a successor to Data Encryption Standard (DES), the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), was limited to hardware performance testing (see AES competition).[276] NSA has subsequently certified AES for protection of classified information (for at most two levels, e.g. SECRET information in an unclassified environment[clarification needed]) when used in NSA-approved systems.[277]

NSA encryption systems

STU-III secure telephones on display at the National Cryptologic Museum

The NSA is responsible for the encryption-related components in these legacy systems:

  • FNBDT Future Narrow Band Digital Terminal[278]
  • KL-7 ADONIS off-line rotor encryption machine (post-WWII – 1980s)[279][280]
  • KW-26 ROMULUS electronic in-line teletypewriter encryptor (1960s–1980s)[281]
  • KW-37 JASON fleet broadcast encryptor (1960s–1990s)[280]
  • KY-57 VINSON tactical radio voice encryptor[281]
  • KG-84 Dedicated Data Encryption/Decryption[281]
  • STU-III secure telephone unit,[281] phased out by the STE[282]

The NSA oversees encryption in following systems which are in use today:

The NSA has specified Suite A and Suite B cryptographic algorithm suites to be used in U.S. government systems; the Suite B algorithms are a subset of those previously specified by NIST and are expected to serve for most information protection purposes, while the Suite A algorithms are secret and are intended for especially high levels of protection.[277]

SHA

The widely used SHA-1 and SHA-2 hash functions were designed by NSA. SHA-1 is a slight modification of the weaker SHA-0 algorithm, also designed by NSA in 1993. This small modification was suggested by NSA two years later, with no justification other than the fact that it provides additional security. An attack for SHA-0 that does not apply to the revised algorithm was indeed found between 1998 and 2005 by academic cryptographers. Because of weaknesses and key length restrictions in SHA-1, NIST deprecates its use for digital signatures, and approves only the newer SHA-2 algorithms for such applications from 2013 on.[287]

A new hash standard, SHA-3, has recently been selected through the competition concluded October 2, 2012 with the selection of Keccak as the algorithm. The process to select SHA-3 was similar to the one held in choosing the AES, but some doubts have been cast over it,[288][289] since fundamental modifications have been made to Keccak in order to turn it into a standard.[290] These changes potentially undermine the cryptanalysis performed during the competition and reduce the security levels of the algorithm.[288]

Dual_EC_DRBG random number generator

Main article: Dual_EC_DRBG

NSA promoted the inclusion of a random number generator called Dual_EC_DRBG in the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology‘s 2007 guidelines. This led to speculation of a backdoor which would allow NSA access to data encrypted by systems using that pseudo random number generator.[291]

This is now deemed to be plausible based on the fact that the output of the next iterations of the PRNG can provably be determined if the relation between two internal elliptic curve points is known.[292][293] Both NIST and RSA are now officially recommending against the use of this PRNG.[294][295]

Clipper chip

Main article: Clipper chip

Because of concerns that widespread use of strong cryptography would hamper government use of wiretaps, NSA proposed the concept of key escrow in 1993 and introduced the Clipper chip that would offer stronger protection than DES but would allow access to encrypted data by authorized law enforcement officials.[296] The proposal was strongly opposed and key escrow requirements ultimately went nowhere.[297] However, NSA’s Fortezza hardware-based encryption cards, created for the Clipper project, are still used within government, and NSA ultimately declassified and published the design of the Skipjack cipher used on the cards.[298][299]

Perfect Citizen

Main article: Perfect Citizen

Perfect Citizen is a program to perform vulnerability assessment by the NSA on U.S. critical infrastructure.[300][301] It was originally reported to be a program to develop a system of sensors to detect cyber attacks on critical infrastructure computer networks in both the private and public sector through a network monitoring system named Einstein.[302][303] It is funded by the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative and thus far Raytheon has received a contract for up to $100 million for the initial stage.

Academic research

NSA has invested many millions of dollars in academic research under grant code prefix MDA904, resulting in over 3,000 papers (as of 2007-10-11). NSA/CSS has, at times, attempted to restrict the publication of academic research into cryptography; for example, the Khufu and Khafre block ciphers were voluntarily withheld in response to an NSA request to do so. In response to a FOIA lawsuit, in 2013 the NSA released the 643-page research paper titled, “Untangling the Web: A Guide to Internet Research,[304] ” written and compiled by NSA employees to assist other NSA workers in searching for information of interest to the agency on the public Internet.[305]

Patents

NSA has the ability to file for a patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office under gag order. Unlike normal patents, these are not revealed to the public and do not expire. However, if the Patent Office receives an application for an identical patent from a third party, they will reveal NSA’s patent and officially grant it to NSA for the full term on that date.[306]

One of NSA’s published patents describes a method of geographically locating an individual computer site in an Internet-like network, based on the latency of multiple network connections.[307] Although no public patent exists, NSA is reported to have used a similar locating technology called trilateralization that allows real-time tracking of an individual’s location, including altitude from ground level, using data obtained from cellphone towers.[308]

Legality

File:Ron Wyden and James Clapper - 12 March 2013.webm

Excerpt of James Clapper‘s false testimony to Congress on NSA surveillance programs

In the United States, at least since 2001,[309] there has been legal controversy over what signal intelligence can be used for and how much freedom the National Security Agency has to use signal intelligence.[310] The government has made, in 2015, slight changes in how it uses and collects certain types of data,[311] specifically phone records. President Barack Obama has asked lawyers and his national security team to look at the tactics that are being used by the NSA. President Obama made a speech on January 17, 2014 where he defended the national security measures, including the NSA, and their intentions for keeping the country safe through surveillance. He said that it is difficult to determine where the line should be drawn between what is too much surveillance and how much is needed for national security because technology is ever changing and evolving. Therefore, the laws cannot keep up with the rapid advancements.

President Obama did make some changes to national security regulations and how much data can be collected and surveyed.[citation needed] The first thing he added, was more presidential directive and oversight so that privacy and basic rights are not violated. The president would look over requests on behalf of American citizens to make sure that their personal privacy is not violated by the data that is being requested. Secondly, surveillance tactics and procedures are becoming more public, including over 40 rulings of the FISC that have been declassified.[citation needed] Thirdly, further protections are being placed on activities that are justified under Section 702, such as the ability to retain, search and use data collected in investigations, which allows the NSA to monitor and intercept interaction of targets overseas. Finally, national security letters, which are secret requests for information that the FBI uses in their investigations, are becoming less secretive. The secrecy of the information requested will not be indefinite and will terminate after a set time if future secrecy is not required.[citation needed] Concerning the bulk surveillance of American’s phone records, President Obama also ordered a transition from bulk surveillance under Section 215 to a new policy that will eliminate unnecessary bulk collection of metadata.

As of May 7, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that the interpretation of Section 215 of the Patriot Act was wrong and that the NSA program that has been collecting Americans’ phone records in bulk is illegal.[312] It stated that Section 215 cannot be clearly interpreted to allow government to collect national phone data and, as a result, expired on June 1, 2015. This ruling “is the first time a higher-level court in the regular judicial system has reviewed the N.S.A. phone records program.” [313] The new bill getting passed later in May taking its place is known as the U.S.A. Freedom Act, which will enable the NSA to continue hunting for terrorists by analyzing telephone links between callers but “keep the bulk phone records in the hands of phone companies.”[313] This would give phone companies the freedom to dispose the records in an 18-month period. The White House argued that this new ruling validated President Obama’s support of the government being extracted from bulk data collection and giving power to the telecommunications companies.

Previously, the NSA paid billions of dollars to telecommunications companies in order to collect data from them.[314] While companies such as Google and Yahoo! claim that they do not provide “direct access” from their servers to the NSA unless under a court order,[315] the NSA had access to emails, phone calls and cellular data users.[316] With this new ruling, telecommunications companies would not provide the NSA with bulk information. The companies would allow the disposal of data in every 18 months,[313] which is arguably putting the telecommunications companies at a higher advantage.

This ruling made the collecting of phone records illegal, but it did not rule on Section 215’s constitutionality. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already put forth a new bill to re-authorize the Patriot Act.[317] Defenders of this surveillance program are claiming that judges who sit on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) had ruled 37 times that this kind of collection of data is, in fact, lawful.[317] The FISC is the court specifically mandated to grant surveillance orders in the name of foreign intelligence. The new ruling made by the Second District Court of Appeals now retroactively dismisses the findings of the FISC on this program.

See also

Notes

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Security_Agency

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IF THE FEDS DID WIRETAP TRUMP TOWER, IT’S NOT OBAMA WHO SHOULD WORRY

Republican president-elect Donald Trump

Early Saturday morning, President Trump fired off a series of tweets accusing, without evidence, former President Barack Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower in the month before the election. Trump compared the alleged snooping to “Nixon/Watergate,” and intimated legal action.

Is it legal for a sitting President to be “wire tapping” a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW!

What makes the broader allegation so extraordinary isn’t that it is new. Quite the contrary. Various reports that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court granted Justice Department investigators a warrant to probe the Trump campaign’s ties with Russia surfaced in November. What makes Trump’s Twitter tirade so striking is what prompted it, and what it might imply if it’s true.

Anatomy of an Allegation

Baffling as it may be, it appears Trump’s accusation stems from a recent article published on Breitbart, the conservative news outlet formerly run by White House senior adviser Stephen Bannon.

“This is a somewhat stunning, in so far as the president of the United States doesn’t need to get his information about classified activity from Breitbart,” says Cato Institute fellow Julian Sanchez.

That story, “Mark Levin to Congress: Investigate Obama’s ‘Silent Coup’ Vs. Trump,” rehashes comments the titular conservative radio host made Thursday equating the previously reported FISA warrant with a “police state,” and accuses Obama of a politically motivated, covert attempt to undermine Trump and his associates.

It’s unclear just what prompted Levin’s rant, or why Trump glommed onto it. Although no one has confirmed a FISA investigation, or wiretaps in Trump Tower, several news outlets have reported the former’s existence. The most detailed account thus far, from the BBC in January, provided a timeline: The Justice Department sought a FISA warrant in June to intercept communications from two Russian banks suspected of facilitating donations to the Trump campaign. The judge reportedly rejected the warrant, as well as a narrower version sought in July. A new judge granted the order in mid-October, according to the BBC.

However strongly Trump feels that he’s right, he’d better hope he’s wrong.

None of this necessarily makes Trump’s allegations true. Even if a FISA warrant exists, it does not mean Trump Tower is tapped or that Trump specifically is the target. Further complicating things, the existence of a wiretap would not necessarily confirm the existence of a FISA warrant. Almost half of the building’s 58 floors are dedicated to commercial and office space, and any one of them—not to mention the building’s residents—could be the target of an investigation unrelated to international espionage or election tampering.

“If he has evidence that he was wiretapped without a proper FISA order being sought, that would be a huge scandal, and he should produce whatever evidence he’s got,” says Sanchez. “It’s a pretty serious claim, and it’s striking he would make it without anything solid to back it up.”

Republican Senator Ben Sasse called on the president to clarify his claims, stating that “we are in the midst of a civilization-warping crisis of public trust.” Obama spokesperson Kevin Lewis strongly denied extra-judicial surveillance of any US citizens to Politico in response to the claims..

Look past the president’s conspiracy theories, though, and one fact stands out: However strongly Trump feels that he’s right, he’d better hope he’s wrong.

Tower of FISA

If nothing else, Trump’s tweets show he doesn’t understand how the FISA system works. If he did, he may have limited himself to tweeting about Arnold Schwartzenegger quitting The Apprentice this morning.

“While the order would have been requested by some part of the executive branch, Obama can’t order anything. Nor can Trump,” says former NSA lawyer April Doss, who stresses that her comments are based only on public information. “The order has to come from the court, and the court operates independently.”

FISA court judges serve seven-year appointments, so the court’s composition doesn’t ebb and flow with the political tides. What’s more, specific laws adopted in the wake of Watergate prevent the very activity Trump accuses Obama of.

“You can’t tap the phones of a political candidate for political purposes,” says Doss.

What you could tap them for? Acting as a foreign power, or as an agent of a foreign power. In other words, spying against US interests with both knowledge and intent.

Clearing that bar is difficult, by design. FISA warrants don’t allow for broad wiretaps of, say, every call going in and out of a specific office in a 58-story Manhattan skyscraper. Federal authorities must demonstrate not just probable cause, but that a given phone line serves primarily to undermine US interests. It’s difficult, for instance, to obtain a warrant to wiretap a shared office, for fear of picking up innocent third-party conversations.

“I have high confidence that a FISA court judge would not have authorized any warrant unless it met all the requirements under the statute,” says Doss.

Trump’s wiretap claims, then, carry presumably inadvertent implications. First, based on previous reporting and the nature of FISA courts, any wiretaps within Trump Tower would be legal. And they would stem from overwhelming evidence that the Trump campaign, or someone within it, has unsavory ties to Russia or another foreign power. Otherwise, it’s unlikely those wiretaps would exist at all.

If federal authorities did have cause to listen in on Trump Tower, though, and they provided enough evidence for a FISA court to approve the snooping, Obama is not the one who ought to worry.

With additional reporting by Andy Greenberg.

This story has been updated to include responses from Obama spokesperson Kevin Lewis and GOP Senator Ben Sasse, and to reflect that FISA court judges serve seven-year terms, not lifetime tenure.

https://www.wired.com/2017/03/feds-wiretap-trump-tower-not-obama-worry/

 

Trump asks Congress to probe alleged illicit campaign investigations

AFPMarch 5, 2017
US President Donald Trump pictured during a meeting with parents and teachers at Saint Andrew Catholic School in Orlando, Florida, on March 3, 2017
US President Donald Trump pictured during a meeting with parents and teachers at Saint Andrew Catholic School in Orlando, Florida, on March 3, 2017 (AFP Photo/Nicholas KAMM)
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Washington (AFP) – President Donald Trump is asking Congress to probe “potentially politically motivated investigations” during the 2016 campaign, the White House said Sunday.

The announcement came one day after Trump took to Twitter to accuse his predecessor Barack Obama of tapping his phones ahead of the November election, without providing evidence of the explosive charge.

An Obama spokesman has denied Trump’s accusation as “simply false.”

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In his statement, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer referred to unspecified reports of “potentially politically motivated investigations immediately ahead of the 2016 election” as “very troubling.”

“President Donald J. Trump is requesting that as part of their investigation into Russian activity, the congressional intelligence committees exercise their oversight authority to determine whether executive branch investigative powers were abused in 2016,” Spicer said.

He added that there would be no more comment on the matter from Trump or the White House.

Trump leveled his charges against Obama early Saturday, at the end of a week in which his administration was battered by controversy over communications between Russian officials and some of his senior aides including Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

“I’d bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!” Trump wrote.

“How low has President Obama gone to tapp (sic) my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!” he wrote in another tweet, referring to the political scandal that toppled president Richard Nixon in 1974.

https://www.yahoo.com/news/trump-asks-congress-probe-alleged-illicit-campaign-investigations-143333695.html

President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald J. Trump on Inauguration Day. Mr. Trump has praised Mr. Obama repeatedly since taking office. But on Saturday, he called his predecessor a “bad (or sick) guy.”CreditDamon Winter/The New York Times

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — President Trump on Saturday accused former President Barack Obama of tapping his phones at Trump Tower the month before the election, taking to Twitter to call his predecessor a “bad (or sick) guy.”

Without offering any evidence or providing the source of his information, Mr. Trump fired off a series of Twitter messages claiming that Mr. Obama “had my ‘wires tapped.’ ” He likened the supposed tapping to “Nixon/Watergate” and “McCarthyism.”

A spokesman for Mr. Obama said any suggestion that the former president had ordered such surveillance was “simply false.”

Mr. Trump’s aides declined to clarify whether the president’s explosive allegations were based on briefings from intelligence or law enforcement officials — which could mean that Mr. Trump was revealing previously unknown details about an investigation — or on something else, like a news report.

His decision to lend the power of his office to such a charged claim against his predecessor — without offering any initial proof — was remarkable, even for a leader who has repeatedly shown himself willing to make assertions that are false or based on dubious sources.

It would have been difficult for federal agents, working within the law, to obtain a wiretap order to target Mr. Trump’s phone conversations. It would have meant that the Justice Department had gathered sufficient evidence to persuade a federal judge that there was probable cause to believe he had committed a serious crime or was an agent of a foreign power, depending on whether it was a criminal investigation or a foreign intelligence one.

Former officials pointed to longstanding laws and procedures intended to ensure that presidents cannot wiretap a rival for political purposes.

“A cardinal rule of the Obama administration was that no White House official ever interfered with any independent investigation led by the Department of Justice,” said Kevin Lewis, a spokesman for Mr. Obama. “As part of that practice, neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen.”

But a senior White House official said that Donald F. McGahn II, the president’s chief counsel, was working on Saturday to secure access to what Mr. McGahn believed was an order issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court authorizing some form of surveillance related to Mr. Trump and his associates.

The official offered no evidence to support the notion that such an order exists. If one does, it would be highly unusual for a White House to order the Justice Department to turn over such an investigative document, given the traditional independence of law enforcement matters.

It has been widely reported that there is a federal investigation, which began during the 2016 presidential campaign, into links between Trump associates and the Russians. That issue has dogged Mr. Trump for months.

In one message, which Mr. Trump sent from his Palm Beach, Fla., estate at 6:35 a.m., the president said he had “just found out” that his phones had been tapped before the election. Mr. Trump’s reference to “wires tapped” raised the possibility that he was referring to some other type of electronic surveillance and was using the idea of phone tapping loosely.

Two people close to Mr. Trump said they believed he was referring to a Breitbart News article, which aides said had been passed around among his advisers. Mark Levin, a conservative radio host, had also embraced the theory recently in a push against what right-leaning commentators have been calling the “deep state.”

The Breitbart article, published on Friday, claimed that there was a series of “known steps taken by President Barack Obama’s administration in its last months to undermine Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and, later, his new administration.”

If Mr. Trump was motivated to take to Twitter after reading the Breitbart article or listening to Mr. Levin, he was using a presidential megaphone to spread dark theories of a broad conspiracy aimed at undermining his presidential ambitions, and later his presidency.

Even with the Breitbart article circulating, several of Mr. Trump’s advisers were stunned by the president’s morning Twitter outburst. Those advisers said they were uncertain about what specifically Mr. Trump was referring to; one surmised that he may also have been referring to a months-old news report about a secret surveillance warrant for communications at his New York offices.

One senior law enforcement official from the Obama administration, who has direct knowledge of the F.B.I. investigation into Russia and of government wiretapping, said that it was “100 percent untrue” that the government had wiretapped Mr. Trump. The official, who asked for anonymity to discuss matters related to investigations and intelligence, said the White House owed the American people an explanation for the president’s allegations.

Ben Rhodes, a former top national security aide to Mr. Obama, said in a Twitter message directed at Mr. Trump on Saturday that “no president can order a wiretap” and added, “Those restrictions were put in place to protect citizens from people like you.”

The House and Senate Intelligence Committees are moving forward with their own investigations into Russia’s efforts to influence the election, and they have said they will examine links between Mr. Trump’s associates and the Russians.

Senator Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware, said on Friday that he believed there were “transcripts” that would help document those contacts, though he said he had not yet seen them.

Photo

Mr. Trump claimed the Obama administration ordered the phoned at his building in New York tapped. CreditVictor J. Blue for The New York Times

“There are transcripts that provide very helpful, very critical insights into whether or not Russian intelligence or senior Russian political leaders — including Vladimir Putin — were cooperating, were colluding, with the Trump campaign at the highest levels to influence the outcome of our election,” Mr. Coons told Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC. “I believe they exist.”

In a written statement on Saturday, a spokesman for Mr. Coons said that the senator “did not imply that he is aware of transcripts indicating collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians.” The spokesman, Sean Coit, said Mr. Coons “simply stated that a full review of all relevant transcripts and intelligence intercepts is necessary to determine if collusion took place.”

The New York Times reported in January that among the associates whose links to Russia are being scrutinized are Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s onetime campaign chairman; Carter Page, a businessman and foreign policy adviser to the campaign; and Roger Stone, a longtime Republican operative who said he was in touch with WikiLeaks at one point before it released a trove of emails from John D. Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, last August. Mr. Stone later said he had communicated with WikiLeaks through an intermediary.

Mr. Trump appeared on Saturday to suggest that warrants had been issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. He claimed that the Obama administration had once been “turned down by court” in its supposed efforts to listen in on conversations by Mr. Trump and his associates.

In the fall, the F.B.I. examined computer data showing an odd stream of activity between a Trump Organization server and Alfa Bank, one of Russia’s biggest banks, whose owners have longstanding ties to Mr. Putin. While some F.B.I. officials initially believed that the computer activity indicated an encrypted channel between Moscow and New York, the bureau ultimately moved away from that view. The activity remains unexplained.

There is no confirmed evidence that the F.B.I. obtained a court warrant to wiretap the Trump Organization or was capturing communications directly from the Trump Organization.

During the transition, the F.B.I. — which uses FISA warrants to eavesdrop on the communications of foreign leaders inside the United States — overheard conversations between the Russian ambassador to the United States and Michael T. Flynn, whom Mr. Trump had named national security adviser.

Mr. Trump has pointedly and repeatedly questioned in conversations how it was that Mr. Flynn’s conversations were recorded, and wondered who could have issued a warrant.

After The Washington Post reported that Mr. Flynn and the ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak, had discussed sanctions that the Obama administration had just imposed on Russia, Mr. Flynn was pushed out of his post by the White House because he had lied to Vice President Mike Pence about the nature of the calls.

The Breitbart article cited mainstream news reports and concluded — going beyond the public record — that the Obama administration had “obtained authorization to eavesdrop on the Trump campaign; continued monitoring the Trump team even when no evidence of wrongdoing was found; then relaxed the N.S.A. rules to allow evidence to be shared widely within the government.”

Mr. Levin, a day earlier, railed about what he called a “much bigger scandal,” claiming — again with no evidence — that Mr. Obama and his aides had used “the instrumentalities of the federal government, intelligence activity, to surveil members of the Trump campaign and put that information out in the public.”

Several senior members of Mr. Trump’s White House staff, including his spokesman, Sean Spicer, did not respond to an email requesting on-the-record responses to more than a half-dozen questions about Mr. Trump’s Twitter posts.

Representative Adam B. Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, denounced the “willingness of the nation’s chief executive to make the most outlandish and destructive claims without providing a scintilla of evidence to support them.”

Even some Republican lawmakers questioned Mr. Trump’s accusations. Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska issued a statement demanding that the president reveal everything he knows about any wiretaps or warrants.

“The president today made some very serious allegations, and the informed citizens that a republic requires deserve more information,” Mr. Sasse said, adding that “we are in the midst of a civilization-warping crisis of public trust.”

Taping calls seems to hold a spot in Mr. Trump’s consciousness. He spent many years taping his own phone calls as a businessman. During the campaign, Mr. Trump’s staff members told reporters they feared that their offices were being bugged.

But Mr. Trump’s latest allegations represented a sharp change in his tone toward Mr. Obama.

The current president has frequently spoken about how much he admires Mr. Obama for the gracious way he handled the transition. But since taking office, Mr. Trump has frequently clashed with the intelligence agencies over the Russia inquiries, including efforts to examine the attempts by that country to influence the presidential election and the contacts between Mr. Trump’s aides and the Russian government.

In recent days, the president has appeared increasingly angry about leaks of information that he believes are coming from law enforcement and intelligence officials who are holdovers or recently departed from Mr. Obama’s administration.

People close to Mr. Trump have described him as determined to stop those people from sabotaging his administration. One adviser said on Friday that the president had been discussing a possible plan to try to prevent leaks from occurring. The adviser declined to elaborate on what the plan might entail.

Two senior administration officials said Mr. Trump had tried for two days to find a way to be on an offensive footing against the news articles resulting from leaks; one person close to Mr. Trump said his explosive claim was a result of that.

Mr. Trump’s mood was said to be volatile even before he departed for his weekend in Florida, with an episode in which he vented at his staff. The president’s ire was trained in particular on Mr. McGahn, his White House counsel, according to two people briefed on the matter.

Mr. Trump was said to be frustrated about the decision by Jeff Sessions, his attorney general, to recuse himself from participating in any investigations of connections between the Trump campaign and Russia. Mr. Trump has said there were no such connections. Mr. Trump, who did not learn that Mr. Sessions was recusing himself until after the decision was made, told aides that it gave an opening to his critics on the Russia issue.

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Posted on January 5, 2017. Filed under: American History, Articles, Blogroll, Communications, Computers, Congress, Constitution, Corruption, Crime, Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Documentary, Education, Elections, Employment, Faith, Family, Federal Government, Foreign Policy, Freedom, government, government spending, history, Illegal, Immigration, Law, Legal, liberty, Life, Links, Literacy, media, Music, National Security Agency (NSA), Newspapers, Photos, Police, Politics, Presidential Candidates, Radio, Rants, Raves, Television, Water, Wealth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

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First The CIA Director Now The State Department Contradict Obama’s Islamic State, Syria and Iraq Policies — The Hillary Clinton Support Network Of Lying Lunatic Leftists Throws Obama Under The Bus — Work Place Violence — Hate Crime — Terrorist Act — Radical Islam — Radical Islamic Terrorist — Radical Islamic Terrorist Jihadists — Face Reality and Stopping Lying Obama — Radical Islamists Are A Majority of The World’s 1,600+ Million Muslims And Want Sharia Law — Ban All Radical Islamists From United States Permanently — Videos

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Full Event: Donald Trump Rally in Dallas, TX (6-16-16)

 

An ’embarrassing’ break: Dozens of State Department officials just revolted against Obama’s Syria policy

 

At least 51 “mid-to-high-level State Department officials” have signed a dissent channel cable breaking with President Barack Obama’s policy on Syria and calling for US airstrikes on the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The cable was provided to several news outlets on Thursday, including The New York Timesand The Wall Street Journal.

“Failure to stem Assad’s flagrant abuses will only bolster the ideological appeal of groups such as Daesh, even as they endure tactical setbacks on the battlefield,” the cable reads, according to The Journal.

Daesh is an alternate name for ISIS, aka the Islamic State or ISIL.

“We are aware of a dissent channel cable written by a group of State Department employees regarding the situation in Syria,” State Department spokesman John Kirby told The Wall Street Journal.

“We are reviewing the cable now, which came up very recently, and I am not going to comment on the contents,” he said.

The officials who signed the document “range from a Syria desk officer in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs to a former deputy to the American ambassador in Damascus,” and have all been involved in formulating or carrying out the administration’s Syria policy.

That policy has largely emphasized defeating the Islamic State over bolstering Syria’s anti-Assad rebel groups.

According to the American Foreign Service Association, the dissent channel is “a serious policy channel reserved only for consideration of responsible dissenting and alternative views on substantive foreign policy issues that cannot be communicated in a full and timely manner through regular operating channels and procedures.”

It is available to all “regular or re-employed annuitant employees” of the State Department and the US Agency for International Development.

The number of officials – at least 50 – who have signed the internal document calling for military action against Assad is unusual, a former State Department official who worked on Middle East policy told The Journal.

“It’s embarrassing for the administration to have so many rank-and-file members break on Syria,” they said.

Fighters of the Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) sit in a look out position in the western rural area of Manbij, in Aleppo Governorate, Syria, June 13, 2016. REUTERS/Rodi SaidFighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces sit in a lookout position in the western rural area of Manbij. Thomson Reuters

The cable calls for the Obama administration to place more emphasis on defeating Assad – whose brutality is seen by many experts as the driver of Syria’s jihadist problem – by arming and regaining the trust of Syria’s moderate opposition.

That, in turn, will “turn the tide of the conflict against the regime [to] increase the chances for peace by sending a clear signal to the regime and its backers that there will be no military solution to the conflict,” the cable reportedly says.

The CIA-backed factions of the Free Syrian Army – the majority of which are Arab and battling forces loyal to Assad – have at times clashed with Pentagon-trained fighters associated with the Syrian Democratic Forces, who are predominantly Kurdish and focused on defeating the Islamic State.

Their divergent military objectives and ethnicities have bred mistrust and fighting that is ultimately counterproductive to the cause of the revolution.

Several high-ranking government officials, moreover – including Robert S. Ford, a former ambassador to Syria, and Obama’s former defense secretary, Chuck Hagel – have left their positions over Obama’s failure to act decisively against Assad, whose brutality continues to fuel a bloody revolution that has left over 400,000 people dead and millions displaced.

“Many people working on Syria for the State Department have long urged a tougher policy with the Assad government as a means of facilitating arrival at a negotiated political deal to set up a new Syrian government,” Ford told The New York Times on Thursday.

Free Syrian Army IdlibProtesters carry Free Syrian Army flags and chant slogans during an antigovernment protest in the town of Marat Numan in Idlib Province, Syria, on March 4. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi

“The moral rationale for taking steps to end the deaths and suffering in Syria, after five years of brutal war, is evident and unquestionable,” the cable said. ” The status quo in Syria will continue to present increasingly dire, if not disastrous, humanitarian, diplomatic and terrorism-related challenges.”

Assad crossed Obama’s now infamous “red line” for airstrikes in 2013, when he used chemical weapons to kill more than 1,000 people in the eastern Damascus suburb of Ghouta. Obama backed away from that red line when Assad agreed to a Russia-brokered deal to destroy his chemical-weapons stockpile.

Some experts say, however, that the entire stockpile has not been destroyed as promised.

The administration insists that it has maintained throughout the nearly five-year civil war that Assad “must go.” But that stance has been muddled as the administration continues to soften its position on Assad’s future.

“The US’ Syria policy has always been in the head of one man, and one man only: Barack Obama. No one else has ever really had a say in what happens in Syria,” Tony Badran, a Middle East expert and researcher at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told Business Insiderin a previous interview.

“Obama has owned it since day one – and from day one, he never intended to remove Assad,” he said.

The cable addresses Russia’s bombing campaign in Syria as well, asserting that Moscow and Assad have not taken past ceasefires and “consequential negotiations” seriously.

Russia entered the war in late September 2015 on behalf of Assad under the guise of fighting ISIS. Russian warplanes have primarily targeted non-jihadist, anti-Assad rebel groups, however, many of which are backed by the US, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia.

Government warplanes bombarded the besieged Syrian town of Darayya with barrel bombs last weekend, shortly after food aid was delivered to the town for the first time in nearly four years.

http://www.businessinsider.com/state-department-officials-call-for-airstrikes-on-assad-2016-6

Chart: Obama Admin. On Pace to Issue One Million Green Cards to Migrants from Majority-Muslim Countries

The Obama Administration is on pace to issue more than a million green cards to migrants from majority-Muslim countries, according to an analysis of Department of Homeland Security data.

A chart released by the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest Friday details the surge in immigration to the U.S. from majority-Muslim countries since President Barack Obama took office in 2009.

Specifically, in the first six fiscal years of Obama’s presidency (FY2009 – FY2014), his administration issued 832,014 green cards to migrants majority-Muslim countries, the most of which were issued to migrants from Pakistan (102,000), Iraq (102,000), Bangladesh (90,000), Iran (85,000), Egypt (56,000), and Somalia (37,000).

The total 832,014 new permanent residents do not include migrants on temporary, nonimmigrant visas — which allow foreign nationals to come to the U.S. temporarily for work, study, tourism and the like. As the subcommittee notes, the number also does not include those migrants who overstayed the terms of their visas.

Obama Admin On Track To Issue 1M GCs (1)

Regardless, as the subcommittee explained in its analysis, the U.S. is playing host to immigrants from majority Muslim countries at an increasing pace.

Between FY 2013 and FY 2014, the number of green cards issued to migrants from Muslim-majority countries increased dramatically – from 117,423 in FY 2013, to 148,810 in FY 2014, a nearly 27 percent increase. Throughout the Obama Administration’s tenure, the United States has issued green cards to an average of 138,669 migrants from Muslim-majority countries per year, meaning that it is nearly certain the United States will have issued green cards to at least 1.1 million migrants from Muslim-majority countries on the President’s watch. It has also been reported that migration from Muslim-majority countries represents the fastest growing class of migrants.

Green cards, or Lawful Permanent Residency, puts immigrants on the path to citizenship and allows for lifetime residency, federal benefits, and work authorization. Included in the totals are refugees, who are required to apply for a green card after one year of residency in the U.S. Unlike other types of immigrants, refugees are immediately eligible for welfare benefits including Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), food stamps, and Medicaid.

A report from the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) indicated that in FY 2013, 91.4 percent of Middle Eastern refugees (accepted to the U.S. between 2008-2013) received food stamps, 73.1 percent were on Medicaid or Refugee Medical Assistance and 68.3 percent were on cash welfare.

Green Card Totals, FY09-FY14:

Pakistan (102K), Iraq (102K), Bangladesh (90K), Iran (85K), Egypt (56K), Somalia (37K), Uzbekistan (30K), Turkey (26K), Morocco (25K), Jordan (25K), Albania (24K), Afghanistan (21K), Lebanon (20K), Yemen (20K), Syria (18K), Indonesia (17K), Sudan (15K), Sierra Leone (12K), Guinea (9K), Senegal (8K), Saudi Arabia (9K), Algeria (8K), Kazakhstan (8K), Kuwait (6K), Gambia (6K), United Arab Emirates (5K), Azerbaijan (4K), Mali (4K), Burkina Faso (3K), Kyrgyzstan (3K), Kosovo (3K), Mauritania (3K), Tunisia (2K), Tajikistan (2K), Libya (2K), Turkmenistan (1K), Qatar (1K), Chad (1K)

http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2016/06/17/obama-admin-pace-issue-one-million-green-cards-migrants-majority-muslim-countries/

51% of U.S. Muslims want Sharia; 60% of young Muslims more loyal to Islam than to U.S.

Really, what did you expect? A considerable portion of U.S. domestic and foreign policy is based on the assumption that Islam in the U.S. will be different: that Muslims here believe differently from those elsewhere, and do not accept the doctrines of violence against and subjugation of unbelievers that have characterized Islam throughout its history. But on what is that assumption based? Nothing but wishful thinking. And future generations of non-Muslims will pay the price.

Muslims_Pray_Capitol

“Meanwhile, An Islamic Fifth Column Builds Inside America,” by Paul Sperry, IBD, October 1, 2015 (thanks to Pamela Geller)

In berating GOP presidential hopeful Ben Carson for suggesting a loyalty test for Muslims seeking high office, CNN host Jake Tapper maintained that he doesn’t know a single observant Muslim-American who wants to Islamize America.

“I just don’t know any Muslim-Americans — and I know plenty — who feel that way, even if they are observant Muslims,” he scowled.

Tapper doesn’t get out much. If he did, chances are he’d run into some of the 51% of Muslims living in the U.S. who just this June told Polling Co. they preferred having “the choice of being governed according to Shariah,” or Islamic law. Or the 60% of Muslim-Americans under 30 who told Pew Research they’re more loyal to Islam than America.

Maybe they’re all heretics, so let’s see what the enlightened Muslims think.

If Tapper did a little independent research he’d quickly find that America’s most respected Islamic leaders and scholars also want theocracy, not democracy, and even advocate trading the Constitution for the Quran.

These aren’t fringe players. These are the top officials representing the Muslim establishment in America today.

Hopefully none of them ever runs for president, because here’s what he’d have to say about the U.S. system of government:

• Muzammil Siddiqi, chairman of both the Fiqh Council of North America, which dispenses Islamic rulings, and the North American Islamic Trust, which owns most of the mosques in the U.S.: “As Muslims, we should participate in the system to safeguard our interests and try to bring gradual change, (but) we must not forget that Allah’s rules have to be established in all lands, and all our efforts should lead to that direction.”

• Omar Ahmad, co-founder of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the top Muslim lobby group in Washington: “Islam isn’t in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant. The Quran should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth.”

• CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper: “I wouldn’t want to create the impression that I wouldn’t like the government of the United States to be Islamic sometime in the future.”

• Imam Siraj Wahhaj, director of the Muslim Alliance in North America: “In time, this so-called democracy will crumble, and there will be nothing. And the only thing that will remain will be Islam.”

• Imam Zaid Shakir, co-founder of Zaytuna College in Berkeley, Calif.: “If we put a nationwide infrastructure in place and marshaled our resources, we’d take over this country in a very short time. . . . What a great victory it will be for Islam to have this country in the fold and ranks of the Muslims.”…

https://www.jihadwatch.org/2015/10/51-of-u-s-muslims-want-sharia-60-of-young-muslims-more-loyal-to-islam-than-to-u-s

John O. Brennan

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
John O. Brennan
John Brennan CIA official portrait.jpg
Director of the Central Intelligence Agency
Assumed office
March 8, 2013
President Barack Obama
Deputy David Cohen
Preceded by Michael Morell(Acting)
5th United States Homeland Security Advisor
In office
January 20, 2009 – March 8, 2013
President Barack Obama
Preceded by Ken Wainstein
Succeeded by Lisa Monaco
Director of the National Counterterrorism Center
Acting
In office
August 27, 2004 – August 1, 2005
President George W. Bush
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by John Redd
Personal details
Born John Owen Brennan
September 22, 1955 (age 60)
Jersey City, New Jersey, U.S.
Spouse(s) Kathy Pokluda
Alma mater Fordham University
University of Texas, Austin

John Owen Brennan (born September 22, 1955)[1][2] is an American government official who is the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. He has served as chief counterterrorism advisor to U.S. President Barack Obama; his title was Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, and Assistant to the President.[1][3][4] His responsibilities included overseeing plans to protect the country from terrorism and respond to natural disasters, and he met with the President daily.[5][6]Previously, he advised President Obama on foreign policy and intelligence issues during the 2008 presidential campaign and transition.[7] Brennan withdrew his name from consideration for Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the first Obama administration over concerns about his support for transferring terror suspects to countries where they may be tortured while serving under President George W. Bush.[3][5] Instead, Brennan was appointed Deputy National Security Advisor, a position which did not require Senate confirmation.[3][5][8]

Brennan’s 25 years with the CIA included work as a Near East and South Asia analyst, as station chief in Saudi Arabia, and as director of the National Counterterrorism Center.[3][5][9]After leaving government service in 2005, Brennan became CEO of The Analysis Corporation, a security consulting business, and served as chairman of the Intelligence and National Security Alliance, an association of intelligence professionals.[10]

President Barack Obama nominated Brennan as his next director of the CIA on January 7, 2013.[11][12][13] The ACLU called for the Senate not to proceed with the appointment until it confirms that “all of his conduct was within the law” at the CIA and White House.[14] John Brennan was approved by the Senate Intelligence Committee on March 5, 2013 to succeedDavid Petraeus as the Director of the CIA by a vote of 12 to 3.[15]

His term as CIA Director coincided with revelations that the U.S. government conducted massive levels of global surveillance, that the CIA had hacked into the computers of U.S. Senate employees, and the release of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture.

Early life and education

Brennan, the son of Irish immigrants from Roscommon, was raised in North Bergen, New Jersey.[9] He attended the Immaculate Heart of Mary Elementary School, and graduated from Saint Joseph of the Palisades High School in West New York, New Jersey before enrolling at Fordham University in New York City.[5]

While riding a bus to class at Fordham, he saw an ad in The New York Times that said the CIA was recruiting, and he felt a CIA career would be a good match for his “wanderlust” and his desire to do public service.[5] He received a B.A. in political science from Fordham in 1977.[3] His studies included a junior year abroad learning Arabic and taking Middle Eastern studies courses at the American University in Cairo.[3][5] He also received a Master of Arts in government with a concentration in Middle Eastern studies from the University of Texas at Austin in 1980.[5] He speaks Arabic fluently.[9]

Brennan is married to Kathy Pokluda Brennan, with whom he has had one son and two daughters.[2][3][16]

Career highlights

Brennan with Kathleen Sebeliusand Rahm Emanuel, White House, April 2009

Brennan began his CIA career as an analyst, presumably in the Washington D.C. area, and spent 25 years with the agency.[1][5][17] At one point in his career, he was a daily intelligence briefer for President Bill Clinton.[5] In 1996 he was CIA station chief in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia when the Khobar Towers bombing killed 19 U.S. servicemen.[5] In 1999 he was appointed chief of staff to George Tenet, then-Director of the CIA.[3][5] Brennan became deputy executive director of the CIA in March 2001.[3] He was director of the newly created Terrorist Threat Integration Center from 2003 to 2004, an office that sifted through and compiled information for President Bush’s daily top secret intelligence briefings and employed the services of analysts from a dozen U.S. agencies and entities.[18] One of the controversies in his career involves the distribution of intelligence to the Bush White House that helped lead to an “Orange Terror Alert“, over Christmas 2003. The intelligence, which purported to list terror targets, was highly controversial within the CIA and was later discredited. An Obama administration official does not dispute that Brennan distributed the intelligence during the Bush era but said Brennan passed it along because that was his job.[19] His last post within the Intelligence Community was as director of the National Counterterrorism Center in 2004 and 2005, which incorporated information on terrorist activities across U.S. agencies.[3][20]

Brennan then left government service for a few years, becoming Chairman of the Intelligence and National Security Alliance (INSA) and the CEO of The Analysis Corporation (TAC). He continued to lead TAC after its acquisition by Global Strategies Group in 2007 and its growth as the Global Intelligence Solutions division of Global’s North American technology business GTEC, before returning to government service with the Obama administration as Homeland Security Advisor on January 20, 2009.[10]

On January 7, 2013, Brennan was nominated by President Barack Obama to be director of the Central Intelligence Agency.[21]

Counterterrorism advisor to President Obama

In late 2008 Brennan was the reported choice for Director of the CIA in the incoming Obama administration. Brennan withdrew his name from consideration because of opposition to his CIA service under President George W. Bush and past public statements he had made in support of enhanced interrogation and the transfer of terrorism suspects to countries where they might be tortured (extraordinary rendition).[3][5][22] President Obama then appointed him to be his chief counterterrorism advisor, a position that did not require Senate confirmation.[3][5][8]

Brennan and President Barack Obama at a meeting of the Homeland Security Council, May 2009

In August 2009, Brennan criticized some Bush-administration anti-terror policies, saying that waterboarding had threatened national security by increasing the recruitment of terrorists and decreasing the willingness of other nations to cooperate with the U.S.[23] He also described the Obama administration’s focus as being on “extremists” and not “jihadists“. He said that using the second term, which means one who is struggling for a holy goal, gives “these murderers the religious legitimacy they desperately seek” and suggests the US is at war with the religion of Islam.[23]

In an early December 2009 interview with the Bergen Record Brennan remarked, “the U.S. intelligence and law enforcement communities have to bat 1.000 every day. The terrorists are trying to be successful just once”.[5] At a press conferences days after the failed Christmas Day bomb attack on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, Brennan said U.S. intelligence agencies did not miss any signs that could have prevented the attempt but later said he had let the President down by underestimating a small group of Yemeni terrorists and not connecting them to the attempted bomber.[1][24] Within two weeks after the incident, however, he produced a report highly critical of the performance of U.S. intelligence agencies, concluding that their focus on terrorist attempts aimed at U.S. soil was inadequate.[17] In February 2010, he claimed on Meet the Press that he was tired of Republican lawmakers using national security issues as political footballs, and making allegations where they did not know the facts.[25]

Drone program

In April 2012 Brennan was the first Obama administration official to publicly acknowledge CIA drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. In his speech he argued for the legality, morality, and effectiveness of the program.[26][27][28] The ACLU and other organizations disagreed. In 2011/2012 he also helped reorganize the process, under the aegis of the Disposition Matrix database, by which people outside of war zones were put on the list of drone targets. According to an Associated Press story, the reorganization helped “concentrate power” over the process inside the White House administration.[29][30][31]

In June 2011, Brennan claimed that US counter-terrorism operations had not resulted in “a single collateral death” in the past year because of the “precision of the capabilities that we’ve been able to develop.”[32][33] Nine months later, Brennan claimed he had said “we had no information” about any civilian, noncombatant deaths during the timeframe in question.[33][34] The Bureau of Investigative Journalism disagreed with Brennan, citing their own research[35] that initially led them to believe that 45 to 56 civilians, including six children, had been killed by ten US drone strikes during the year-long period in question.[33] Additional research led the Bureau to raise their estimate to 76 deaths, including eight children and two women.[33] According to the Bureau, Brennan’s claims “do not appear to bear scrutiny.”[33]The Atlantic has been harsher in its criticism, saying that “Brennan has been willing to lie about those drone strikes to hide ugly realities.”[36]

According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, Brennan’s comments about collateral death are perhaps explained by a counting method that treats all military-aged males in a strike zone as combatants unless there is explicit information to prove them innocent.[33][37]

CIA Director (2013–present)

Nomination

Brennan being sworn in as CIA Director, March 8, 2013

United States PresidentBarack Obama twice nominated Brennan to serve as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.[11][12]

Morris Davis, a former Chief Prosecutor for the Guantanamo Military Commissions compared Brennan to Canadian Omar Khadr, who was convicted of “committing murder in violation of the law of war”.[38] He suggested that Brennan’s role in targeting individuals for CIA missile strikes was no more authorized than the throwing of the grenade Khadr was accused of.

On February 27, 2013, the Senate Intelligence Committee postponed a vote, expected to be taken the next day on the confirmation of Brennan until the following week. On March 5, the Intelligence Committee approved the nomination 12–3. The Senate was set to vote on Brennan’s nomination on March 6, 2013. However, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul began a talking Senate filibuster of the vote, citing President Barack Obama and his administration’s use of combat drones, stating “No one politician should be allowed to judge the guilt, to charge an individual, to judge the guilt of an individual and to execute an individual. It goes against everything that we fundamentally believe in our country.”[39][40] Paul’s filibuster continued for 13 hours, after which Brennan was confirmed by a vote of 63–34.

Brennan was sworn into the office of CIA Director on March 8, 2013.[41]

See also

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_O._Brennan

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FBI Must Submit Criminal Referral Against Clinton Aides Receiving Classified Emails With No Clearance — Informing On Hillary Clinton — Sources, Methods and Operations Compromised — Busting The Liars Club — Videos

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Pronk Pops Show 607: January 20, 2016

Pronk Pops Show 606: January 19, 2016

Pronk Pops Show 605: January 15, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 604: January 14, 2016

Pronk Pops Show 603: January 13, 2016

Pronk Pops Show 602: January 12, 2016

Pronk Pops Show 601: January 11, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 600: January 8, 2016

Pronk Pops Show 599: January 6, 2016

Pronk Pops Show 598: January 5, 2016

Pronk Pops Show 597: December 21, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 596: December 18, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 595: December 17, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 594: December 16, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 593: December 15, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 592: December 14, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 591: December 11, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 590: December 10, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 589: December 9, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 588: December 7, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 587: December 4, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 586: December 3, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 585: December 2, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 584: December 1, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 583: November 30, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 582: November 25, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 581: November 24, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 580: November 23, 2015  

Pronk Pops Show 579: November 20, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 578: November 19, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 577: November 18, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 576: November 17, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 575: November 16, 2015  (more…)

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1,600 Classified Emails With Dozens Designated “Secret” or “Top Secret/SAP.” — Obama Will Never Let Clinton Be Indicted or Charged Will Pardon Her — Trust — Issues — Turnout (TITs) — Will Determine Who Becomes Next President — Videos

Posted on February 20, 2016. Filed under: American History, Articles, Blogroll, Business, Communications, Computers, Crime, Crisis, Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Elections, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Federal Government, Foreign Policy, government spending, history, Law, liberty, Life, Links, media, National Security Agency (NSA), National Security Agency (NSA_, Newspapers, People, Philosophy, Photos, Political Correctness, Politics, Press, Radio, Rants, Raves, Talk Radio, Television, Terrorism, Video, War, Wealth, Weapons, Wisdom, Work, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 617: February 4, 2016

Pronk Pops Show 616: February 3, 2016

Pronk Pops Show 615: February 1, 2016

Pronk Pops Show 614: January 29, 2016

Pronk Pops Show 613: January 28, 2016

Pronk Pops Show 612: January 27, 2016

Pronk Pops Show 611: January 26, 2016

Pronk Pops Show 610: January 25, 2016

Pronk Pops Show 609: January 22, 2016

Pronk Pops Show 608: January 21, 2016

Pronk Pops Show 607: January 20, 2016

Pronk Pops Show 606: January 19, 2016

Pronk Pops Show 605: January 15, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 604: January 14, 2016

Pronk Pops Show 603: January 13, 2016

Pronk Pops Show 602: January 12, 2016

Pronk Pops Show 601: January 11, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 600: January 8, 2016

Pronk Pops Show 599: January 6, 2016

Pronk Pops Show 598: January 5, 2016

Pronk Pops Show 597: December 21, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 596: December 18, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 595: December 17, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 594: December 16, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 593: December 15, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 592: December 14, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 591: December 11, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 590: December 10, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 589: December 9, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 588: December 7, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 587: December 4, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 586: December 3, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 585: December 2, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 584: December 1, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 583: November 30, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 582: November 25, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 581: November 24, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 580: November 23, 2015  

Pronk Pops Show 579: November 20, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 578: November 19, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 577: November 18, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 576: November 17, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 575: November 16, 2015  (more…)

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National Security Agency Spies on Congress and Israel — Nothing New Here Move Along — NSA Spies On Everybody All The Time And Collects All Your Communcations And Aggregates It When You Become A Target! — Turnkey Totalitarian Secret Security Surveillance State Is Turned On You — The Fourth Amendment Has Been Destroyed — Encrypt Everything — Video

Posted on December 30, 2015. Filed under: American History, Articles, Blogroll, British History, Business, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Communications, Computers, Congress, Constitution, Corruption, Crime, Culture, Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Documentary, Economics, Education, Employment, European History, External Hard Drives, Faith, Family, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Federal Government, Foreign Policy, Freedom, Friends, government spending, history, Investments, Life, Links, media, Middle East, Money, National Security Agency (NSA), National Security Agency (NSA_, Politics, Presidential Candidates, Press, Radio, Rants, Raves, Security, Speech, Systems, Talk Radio, Terrorism, Video, War, Wealth, Welfare, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

 

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 Rand Paul Disgusted at NSA Spying on Congress and Israel | Fox News

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