More Damaging Testimony of the NSA

By: the Common Constitutionalist

Love him, hate him, or like me, somewhere in between, we all know the name Edward Snowden, the NSA whistleblower. We all know he’s provided rather damning claims/evidence of the NSA’s “data” collection, including spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel – monitoring her personal cell phone.

There are others, other whistleblowers, and they recently testified before a German parliamentary committee.

Two national security whistleblowers, Thomas Drake and William Binney were brought before the German committee to shed light on surveillance and eavesdropping of not only Chancellor Merkel but other leading German and EU politicians.

RT (Russia Today) reported that Binney told the committee that the NSA had abandoned nearly all rule of law principles. He added that it has a “totalitarian mentality” and wants “total information control”.

He called the NSA the “greatest threat” to America since the Civil War. read more

A Tale of Two Administrations

By: the Common Constitutionalist
The Obama administration is one the most, if not the most schizophrenic in American history.

I literally mean the dictionary definition of schizophrenic which is, “a state characterized by the coexistence of contradictory or incompatible elements.”

In other words, the separation between our government’s treatment of foreign policy, or more precisely, how other countries now view America, and domestic policy, or the way the average American citizen views their/our own government.

Take a look around the globe and name one country that any longer fears the potential wrath of United States, except our once loyal ally, Israel.

Russia, under Putin is on the move. He can’t stand Obama, knows he’s a girlie man and will continue to do whatever he wishes, regardless of our administrations feckless attempts to talk him into submission.

Russia supplies at least 25% of Europe’s natural gas and there is currently no replacement for it. He’s knows this, therefore they won’t dare face him down. Putin obviously knows that any “tough” talk coming from Obama or his minions is just that – talk.

He has no fear of the United States and thus no fear of expanding his empire. read more

Microsoft Helped With Spying

(Reuters) – Microsoft Corp worked closely with U.S. intelligence services to help them intercept users’ communications, including letting the National Security Agency circumvent email encryption, the Guardian reported on Thursday.

Citing top-secret documents provided by former U.S. spy contractor Edward Snowden, the UK newspaper said Microsoft worked with the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the NSA to ease access via Prism – an intelligence-gathering program uncovered by the Guardian last month – to cloud storage service SkyDrive.

Microsoft also helped the Prism program collect video and audio of conversations conducted via Skype, Microsoft’s online chat service, the newspaper added.

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Ever Feel You Were Being Watched?

In the little town of Bluffdale, Utah, between the Wasatch Range and the Oquirrh Mountains, the National Security Agency (NSA) is building what will be the nation’s largest spy center.

 Dubbed the Utah Data Center, the project is already employing thousands of hardhat workers in its construction and will soon have some 10,000 construction workers building a data center that will be more than five times the size of the nation’s capitol.

“We’ve been asked not to talk about the project,” Rob Moore told a local reporter. Mr. Moore is president of Big-D Construction, one of the three major contractors working on the project. Plans for the center include a $10 million antiterrorism protection program, a fence designed to stop a 15,000-pound vehicle traveling 50 miles per hour, closed-circuit cameras, a biometric identification system, a vehicle inspection facility, and a visitor-control center.

Why all the fuss? Why all the security?

Well, the lead story in Wired magazine for April exposed the Stellar Wind program for its intended purpose: to spy on every jot and scribble of any American citizen’s life all the way down to his “pocket litter:” parking-lot stubs, receipts from McDonalds, tickets from his haircut at Cost Cutters, as well as all the way up to the content of his every e-mail, every Google search, every telephone or cell phone conversation.

Stellar Wind is the code name for an effort approved by President George W. Bush following the September 11, 2001 attacks, to mine a large database of communications of American citizens but which was allegedly terminated when Congress pushed back against it.

However, the National Security Agency, awash with funds provided by Congress, is nearly finished constructing the Utah Data Center as the collection point for data provided from around the country and around the world. Its purpose: “to intercept, decipher, analyze and store vast swaths of the world’s communications … [including] all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls and Google searches.”

In other words, according to James Bamford, author of The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America, when the $2 billion facility (consisting of four 25,000 square-foot buildings full of computer servers and their air conditioning units plus a 900,000 square-foot building to house its technical and administration people) is completed in September, 2013, virtually everything one communicates through any traceable medium, or any record of one’s existence in the electronic medium, which these days is everything, will … become the property of the US government to deal with as its sees fit.

William Binney, a former NSA crypto-mathematician who quit NSA after he realized it was openly and deliberately ignoring privacy limitations built into the Constitution, said in an interview with Bamford, holding his thumb and forefinger close together: “We are this far from a turnkey totalitarian state.”

Binney headed up a team that built the infrastructure to spy on everyone all the time and, at the time, recommended that NSA install its “tapping gear” only at the nation’s “landing sites” — physical locations where fiber optic cables come ashore — to limit its eavesdropping to international communications only and preserving Americans’ right to privacy.

But NSA ignored Binney’s recommendation and instead decided to build its spy center in Utah, connecting it with satellites and listening posts in Colorado, Georgia, Texas, Hawaii, and elsewhere, with direct links to NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland, NSA’s research facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and last but not least, the White House.

In addition NSA has two huge data-gathering facilities, each with three 105-foot satellite dishes, one at Catawissa, Pennsylvania, called Roaring Creek, the other at Arbuckle, California, called Salt Creek.

Says Binney, “They violated the Constitution setting it up. But they didn’t care. They were going to do it anyway, and they were going to crucify anyone who stood in their way. When they started violating the Constitution, I couldn’t stay.”

One of the challenges NSA faced was decrypting data, such as that encoded by PGP or the much more robust encryption software used by governments. The Advanced Encryption Standard is used to protect most commercial e-mail programs and web browsers and has, until very recently, been considered unbreakable.

To break a 128-bit encryption code, for example, the number of trial-and-error attempts — call “brute force” — requires an incomprehensibly large number of attempts before succeeding: 340 undecillion (10 to the 26th power). But current breakthroughs by NSA, using Cray super computers, now can break such codes in fractions of a second, exposing all information to the light of day and the peering eyes of NSA observers.

At the moment it appears that the two strongest barriers to intrusions on privacy, technological and constitutional, have been shredded. But courts are involved in a variety of challenges to the NSA’s efforts, and the project isn’t due to come online in full flower until a year from September. Such an operation, now out in the open, requires enormous funding.

Congress, given sufficient encouragement and electoral change of heart this November, could just shut it down by defunding it. It’s really up to informed Americans to see where their elected officials stand on privacy versus security and then take appropriate action in the voting booth.

Attribution: Patriot Update, The New American