Privacy, Blackmail, NSA

!  !  !  A  A  A APresident Obama, in

Sometimes when I hear public officials speaking out in defense of NSA spying, I can’t help thinking, even if just for a moment, “what if the NSA has something on that person and that’s why he or she is saying this?”

President Obama – A quick before and after on spying

Why the NSA undermines national security

The NSA’s arbitrary global surveillance methods fly in the face of smart power. In the pursuit of information, the spy agency has invaded the privacy of foreign citizens and political leaders, undermining their sense of freedom and security. NSA methods also undercut U.S. credibility as a champion of universal human rights.

The U.S. model of mass surveillance will be followed by others and could unintentionally invert the democratic relationship between citizens and their governments. Under the cover of preventing terrorism, authoritarian governments may now increase surveillance of political opponents. Governments that collect and monitor digital information to intimidate or squelch political opposition and dissent can more justifiably claim they are acting with legitimacy.

For human rights defenders and democracy activists worldwide, the potential consequences of the widespread use by governments of mass surveillance techniques are dark and clear.

Superior information is powerful, but sometimes it comes at greater cost than previously recognized. When trust and credibility are eroded, the opportunity for collaboration and partnership with other nations on difficult global issues collapses. The ramifications of this loss of trust have not been adequately factored into our national security calculus.

What is most disconcerting is that the NSA’s mass surveillance techniques have compromised the security of telecommunication networks, social media platforms, private-sector data storage and public infrastructure security systems. Authoritarian governments and hackers now have a roadmap to surreptitiously tap into private networks for their own nefarious purposes.

!  !  !  A  A  aAis Russell Tice- In 2005

NSA Blackmailing Obama? | Interview with Whistleblower Russ Tice

On the Prospect of Blackmail by the NSA continue reading:

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 11:47am

Sometimes when I hear public officials speaking out in defense of NSA spying, I can’t help thinking, even if just for a moment, “what if the NSA has something on that person and that’s why he or she is saying this?”

Of course it’s natural, when people disagree with you, to at least briefly think, “they couldn’t possibly really believe that, there must be some outside power forcing them to take that position.” Mostly I do not believe that anything like that is now going on.

But I cannot be 100% sure, and therein lies the problem. The breadth of the NSA’s newly revealed capabilities makes the emergence of such suspicions in our society inevitable. Especially given that we are far, far away from having the kinds of oversight mechanisms in place that would provide ironclad assurance that these vast powers won’t be abused. And that highlights the highly corrosive nature of allowing the NSA such powers. Everyone has dark suspicions about their political opponents from time to time, and Americans are highly distrustful of government in general. When there is any opening at all for members of the public to suspect that officials from the legislative and judicial branches could be vulnerable to leverage from secretive agencies within the executive branch—and when those officials can even suspect they might be subject to leverage—that is a serious problem for our democracy.

There has already been prominent speculation about this threat. David Sirota explicitly mulled the subject in this (paywalled) piece, as have writers at Firedoglake and TechDirt. Whistleblower Russell Tice has also alleged that while at the agency he saw wiretap information for members of Congress and the judiciary firsthand. Such fears explain why it is considered an especially serious matter any time elected or judicial officials are eavesdropped upon. The New York Times reported in 2009 that some NSA officials had tried to wiretap a member of Congress without a warrant. Members of Congress (and perhaps the judiciary) surely also noted a Washington Post report based on Snowden documents that the NSA had intercepted a “large number” of calls from the Washington DC area code due to a “programming error.”

Dark suspicions about the NSA will also draw powerful support from the historical record. Already a sitting U.S. Senator has invoked the memory of J. Edgar Hoover as a means of expressing misgivings about NSA spying. It can be useful to recall the history with a little detail. Journalist Ronald Kessler describes the former FBI director’s M.O. in his book on Hoover:

“The moment [Hoover] would get something on a senator,” said William Sullivan, who became the number three official in the bureau under Hoover, “he’d send one of the errand boys up and advise the senator that ‘we’re in the course of an investigation, and we by chance happened to come up with this data on your daughter. But we wanted you to know this. We realize you’d want to know it.’ Well, Jesus, what does that tell the senator? From that time on, the senator’s right in his pocket.”

Lawrence J. Heim, who was in the Crime Records Division, confirmed to me that the bureau sent agents to tell members of Congress that Hoover had picked up derogatory information on them.

“He [Hoover] would send someone over on a very confidential basis,” Heim said. As an example, if the Metropolitan Police in Washington had picked up evidence of homosexuality, “he [Hoover] would have him say, ‘This activity is known by the Metropolitan Police Department and some of our informants, and it is in your best interests to know this.’ But nobody has ever claimed to have been blackmailed. You can deduce what you want from that.”

On the Prospect of Blackmail by the NSA

Prvacy, Blackmail, NSA

The hypocrisy of our leadership today resembles a mental disorder or conditioning of some foul sort.

!  !  !  A  A  A  AI stand with the Truth

Gayla Benefield was just doing her job — until she uncovered an awful secret about her hometown that meant its mortality rate was 80 times higher than anywhere else in the U.S. But when she tried to tell people about it, she learned an even more shocking truth: People didn’t want to know. In a talk that’s part history lesson, part call-to-action, Margaret Heffernan demonstrates the danger of “willful blindness” and praises ordinary people like Benefield who are willing to speak up.

The dangers of “willful blindness”  #BRAINWASHED? !!

No such thing as 100% Security??

1A no 100 BULLSHIsecurity

Mass Blackmail, Presidents to Media


New NSA head: who he is and why he was chosen

When General Keith Alexander, the current head of the NSA, announced last October that he would be retiring this March, the country anticipated the President’s announcement of his successor. The public’s eyes had been trained on the NSA all summer, and it was widely known that the nominee would be instrumental in dealing with the fallout from the Snowden leaks. The President’s announcement came on January 30, when he nominated Vice Admiral Michael Rogers for the job.

The head of the NSA has historically been a military general or admiral because this official also holds the title of Commander of the United States Cyber Command, a post which the Agency’s 1952 charter specifies must be occupied by a military officer.

For a few months before this nomination, though, there had been talk of splitting these two positions for the first time so as to allow a civilian to serve as director of the NSA. Eventually, though, President Obama decided to keep both powers concentrated in one position, and nominate a military officer, not a civilian, for the job.

This could well have been an effort to keep with tradition. It is, after all, the Navy’s turn to provide the top official, after General Alexander (the Army’s top intelligence officer) and General Hayden (the Air Force’s commander of intelligence operations) most recently occupied that post.

But Vice Admiral Rogers was not selected for the job arbitrarily; he brings an impressive history of accomplishments with him to the job. Rogers began his career in 1981, as a surface warfare officer, and was promoted a few years later to the role of cryptologist. One of Rogers’ superiors, General Peter Pace, feared that Rogers’ specialization might preclude him from advancing through the ranks, and so Pace chose Rogers to head the Chairman’s Action Group, an in-house think tank which advises the Navy on policy issues.

From there, Rogers rose quickly. With the support of former NSA director Mike McConnell, he served as the Director of Intelligence at Pacific Command. He went on to serve as the Intelligence Director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff before finally being chosen to lead the 10th Fleet/Fleet Cyber Command.

He has displayed initiative along the way, taking steps to accomplish his goal of integrating cyber operations into the Navy’s traditional duties, so that the organization would not feel fragmented from the inside.

Vice Admiral Rogers clearly has the technical knowledge, leadership experience, and vision to head the NSA. What might prove equally important during his term, though, is that, as General Peter Pace says, he has a talent for getting his colleagues to “play together in the sandbox.” This will serve him well as he is tasked with guiding the NSA through its current challenges.

New NSA head: who he is and why he was chosen

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