Hello fellow Caravan to Midnighters. It is time for the latest Subterfuge, Spooks, Liars and Surveillance blast from around the world. Great thanks to the Webmaster at Full-Spectrum-Dominance.com for contributing to this post. We have a lot of catching up to do since yours truly was kidnapped by the flu monster – so let’s get going. We will begin with three reports from Germany’s Der Spiegel on the NSA’s use of malware more powerful than anything the agency says other actors use; expressions of regret from The New York Times for missing the Snowden scoop because he didn’t trust the newspaper; and the slow realization on the part of supporters of TTIP – the massive Trans Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership – that public opposition could defeat the treaty. Then from Poland’s Gazeta Wyborcza, demands for proof that more mass surveillance will prevent terrorist attacks from the director of that country’s Panoptykon Foundation; controversy in Canada about the new powers being handed to that nations’s NSA equivalent; coverage of China’s demands that U.S. manufacturers provide that nation’s despots with backdoors into their devices and encryption – gee, I wonder where they got that idea?; Verizon’s begrudging committment to allow users to opt out of its ‘Supercookie’ which records their every move for ‘marketing’ purposes; Henry Kissinger’s exciting day at the Senate Armed Services Committee; and a lot more:
First, Security companies Kaspersky and Symantec have identified a ‘cyber-weapon system’ they have christened ‘Regin’ that has been in circulation for at least a decade and has been deployed against targets in at least 14 countries, including Germany, Belgium and Brazil, but also India and Indonesia. The new analysis provides clear proof that Regin is the cyber-attack platform belonging to the Five Eyes alliance, and that the NSA and its partners want the rest of the world to follow rules that they routinely violate. The targets include partly state-owned Belgian telecommunications company Belgacom, the European Commission, and in keeping with the war on free speech that mass surveillance represents, Austrian newspaper Der Standard and German newspaper Bild. Thanks alot NSA for undermining any hope of a free press and free speech:
NSA Fingered as Source of Trojan Horse ‘Regin’ that Targeted Computers Around the World (Der Spiegel) http://bit.ly/1tAOmxr
Then also from Der Spiegel, it seems that finally, backers of the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. aka/TTIP, are being forced to change their tune. Der Spiegel reports that a backlash against the prospect of multinational corporations challenging laws passed by duly-elected lawmakers, as corrupt as they are, now threatens the deal. Given the track record of recent ‘unfree’ trade agreements like NAFTA, which has benefited a handful of well-connected companies that helped write them and have impoverished millions on both sides of the border, that’s encouraging. But as Der Spiegel points out, backers of TTIP are just playing for time. The magazine examines how these supra-national tribunals have worked in the past, specifically with NAFTA, and the results most often bear out the concerns of opponents.
Trade Pact Endangered: Europeans Fear Wave of Litigation from U.S. Firms (Der Speigel, Germany) http://on.fb.me/1tAHDUn
Finally from Der Spiegel, the magazine takes The New York Times to task for being too cozy with the government they are supposed to be holding to account:
‘We Were Arrogant’: New York Times Chief Regrets Losing Snowden Scoop (Der Spiegel) http://bit.ly/1CGDhwq
Next from Poland: Will yet more mass surveillance conducted against people not suspected of a crime help ‘keep us safe’ – as leaders on both sides of the Atlantic insist? For the Gazeta Wyborcza, Katarzyna Szymielewicz, director of the Panoptykon Foundation, expresses great skepticism of plans to hand more mass surveillance powers to European spy agencies after the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, pointing out that ‘mass surveillance tools’ have been largely inneffective at preventing terrorist attacks, and that additional rights and freedoms should not be surrendered without the provision of substantially more evidence that they will result in anything other than additional monitoring of the innocent.:
More Surveillance Powers? ‘We Must Demand Proof’ of Effectiveness (Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland) http://bit.ly/1yLkMro
Next up, we have a series of reports from Canadian media. It seems that the NSA’s fellow data-sucking prevaricators in Canada have been monitoring your downloads under what it calls the ‘Levitation Program’ – just to make sure that you aren’t planning a terrorist attack. Never mind that there is no earthly reason to suspect you are. Of course, that no longer has any relevance to our power-drunk spy services. According to the CBC report, documents provided by Edward Snowden reveal that Canada’s Communications Security Establishment ‘sifts through millions of videos and documents downloaded online every day by people around the world, as part of a sweeping bid to find extremist plots and suspects.’ More evidence, if we needed it, that everything we say and do online, and most often off, is being monitored as if we are all suspected criminals:
Canadian Spies Track ‘Millions’ of Movie, Photo, Music Downloads Daily (CBC, Canada) http://bit.ly/161ldQV
In reaction to the news, Canada’s Globe & Mail posted this editorial which points out: ‘The objective of the program is detecting terrorists, but Levitation appears to do this by broadly surveilling Canadians – just what CSEC is not allowed to do. … The CSEC presentation says that it sees 10 to 15 million free file uploads (FFU) per day from around the world. The presentation says that out of all of this trawling, CSEC is ‘finding about 350 interesting download events’ a month.” In other words, it is a tremendous waste of time and energy that is more likely to overlook vital clues than find them:
EDITORIAL: Snowden and the Dark Sophistry of the CSEC (Globe & Mail, Canada) http://bit.ly/1A7uF2A
Then Canada’s Globe & Mail reports that the CSEC is to be granted new and far-reaching police powers: ‘The Canadian Security Intelligence Service’s role is currently restricted to collecting intelligence, analyzing and reporting on dangers to Canada, but new anti-terror legislation to be unveiled Friday is expected to rewrite its mandate.’
CSIS to be Granted Massive Expansion of Powers: Source (Globe & Mail, Canada) http://bit.ly/1A7uLax
And as it has in ‘Land of the Free’ the United States where out-of-control surveillance has led to mass self-censorship among journalists and the public, Canadians are concerned that the new anti-terrorism bill will do precisely the same thing there. The CBC’s Lucas Powers reports that the bill, which would ‘criminalize the promotion of terrorism’, is unlikely to reduce terrorism, and is quite likely to do significant damage to free speech:
New Anti-Terror Bill Could Put Chill on Freedom Speech (CBC, Canada) http://bit.ly/1yffkax
Then, the CBC’s Chris Hall reports that the new legislation ‘will provide national security agencies with explicit authority to obtain and share information that is now subject to privacy limits.’ If only these spy agencies hadn’t been exposed as inveterate liars from day one, some of these measures would be met with less skepticism.
New Counterterror Bill to Override Some Privacy Limits (CBC News, Canada) http://bit.ly/1JVy864
Moving along, Britain’s Register reports that thanks to the NSA’s shortsighted, self defeating program to force manufacturers of hardware and software to build backdoors into American technology to make it easier to spy on them, not only have the reputations of U.S. companies been undermined, but now China is insisting on them for the firms to operate there. The newspaper reports that “the Chinese government wants backdoors added to all technology imported into the Middle Kingdom as well as all source code handed over.”
What Does China, the U.K. and the FBI have in Common? All Want Backdoors in Western Technology (The Register, U.K.) http://bit.ly/1JUWOvr
Then the BBC reports that petrified Western tech giants are ‘seeking urgent discussions’ with Chinese authorities in a bid to convince them that mandating backdoors will be bad for China. Ironically, if the Beijing authorities agree, they will have done so before their counterparts in the ‘Land of the Free.’:
U.S. Tech Firms ask China to Postpone ‘Intrusive’ Rules (BBC, U.K.) http://bbc.in/1tUIxuY
Next up, the editor’s of Israel’s Debka File have some advice on how to keep pesky drones from dropping in on the White House: install an electromagnetic perimeter fence. According to the newspaper, such a fence can jam the communications and control and command features of alien mobiles and smart phones, which can launch, operate and guide devices carrying explosive payloads, shoot color video and relay data in real time to their operators.
Outdated White House Defenses No Match for Intruding Drone (Debka File, Israel) http://bit.ly/1wzprFs
Then The New York Times reports that Verizon will soon allow users to opt-out of its ‘Supercookies.’ According to Times, the program, which uses a string of about 50 letter, numbers and characters called a Unique Identifier Header (UIDH), allows Verizon to track its customers’ web traffic in order to build a detailed profiles for targeted advertising purposes.
Verizon Gives in to Pressure; will Let Users Opt Out of ‘Permacookie’ (The New York Times, U.S.) http://nyti.ms/1uQGxiC
Next up, under fire across Europe for its opaque use of the personal data of users and the profits it gleans from it, Google has agreed to tell Britons more about how the data they collect is used. The BBC reports that this may be a template for settling suits across the continent. No word though, on the data of Americans:
Google ‘Agrees’ to Tell Brits about Use of Personal Data (BBC, U.K.) http://bbc.in/1Cp8LJ4
Then, Bill Gates has joined the chorus that includes physicist Stephen Hawking and just about every science fiction writer since the 1950s to declare that Artificial intelligence ‘could get out of control’ and in the coming decades threaten its inventors:
Bill Gates Insists AI is a Threat (BBC News, U.K.) http://bbc.in/1BP5YDI
Then there was good news for insurers of companies like Sony Pictures, which depend of the ‘creative engine of intellectual property”: investors in such enterprises, after seeing the damage hackers can do, will now demand greater protections of their investments and from lawsuits by disgruntled employees whose data has been exposed. Hence a bonanza for insurers, greater security for investors, and less creativity:
Sony Hack Good News for Insurers and Investors (The Register, U.K.) http://bit.ly/15PxtEh
Next, a somewhat skeptical Bill Maher spoke to journalist and Snowden documentarian Laura Poitras about whether Barack Obama is the worst president in history when it comes to a free press:
VIDEO: Maher Skeptical of Poitras Assertion that Obama ‘Worst’ for Free Press (Mediaite, U.S.) http://bit.ly/1zMAyTm
Last but certainly not least, a hearing of the Senate Arms Services Committee that you might have missed. On Tuesday, three former secretaries of state testified before the Senate Arms Services Committee, and it is an interesting hearing for a number of reasons, not least of which is that members of Code Pink made the latest attempt to arrest Henry Kissinger for war crimes – which brought Senator McCain to utter words not usually associated with family television. If you watch the hearing you won’t have to wait long, as the attempted citizen’s arrest occurs right at the beginning – and the Code Pinkers got remarkably close to the former secretary of state – dangling a pair of handcuffs right in his horrified face. If you classify yourself as an anti-globalist, you will love Code Pink’s interruptions, and want to take a bazooka to the testimony.
But beyond this notable distraction, these three grand poobahs of U.S. foreign policy – Kissinger of the Nixon and Ford Administrations, Schultz from the Reagan and Bush I Administrations and Albright of the Clinton White House, opine on most of the major issues of the day. Everything from whether it would be wise to arm Ukraine, and interestingly from Schultz, the absurdity of calling the fight against Muslim fundamentalists a ‘war on terror’ – which he calls merely a tactic – when the real problem is the growing number of actors challenging the nation-state system.
All are big fans of new ‘free trade’ agreements, without mentioning their impact on a huge majority of the population. Also discussed is the growing danger associated with climate change, which most people agree is a major national security challenge – even if it isn’t clear why it’s happening. Not a single senator squawked over that assertion. Then there is an extended discussion of the Iran nuclear talks, which worry Kissinger because whatever capability Iran retains when the talks end, it will forever alter the status quo and spur others to catch up.
VIDEO: Senate Arms Services Committee with Kissinger, Shultz, Albright -and Code Pink! (C-Span, U.S.) http://cs.pn/1yTeUud
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