Tag Archives: National Security Agency

Movie Review – CITIZENFOUR: “Speaking Truth to Power” is not What Needs to Be Done (* out of 5)

[Note: this review is being simultaneously published by the Independent Workers Party of Chicago and the Friends of WikiLeaks – Chicago on the respective websites of both groups.]

CITIZENFOUR – a film by Laura Poitras  https://citizenfourfilm.com/

We expected a lot from Laura Poitras’ new film CITIZENFOUR; we were massively disappointed.  With ex- CIA/NSA contract worker Edward Snowden still stuck in exile in Russia and the citizenry of the United States far more interested in the latest shiny objects for sale at the Apple Store than in fighting for their rapidly disappearing Constitutional rights, we had hoped that this film would be a clarion call to the workers of the United States to take action in their own self-defense by standing up in support of Snowden and his fellow heroic whistle-blowers Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange, Jeremy Hammond and others.  Instead what we get is a very tepid and shallow overview of “the story so far” of the world-shaking revelations made by Snowden exposing the US Government’s global espionage network that monitors and stores for future use every cellphone call, email message and the wealth of information derivable from our daily movements as recorded by our cellphones every day.  CITIZENFOUR should be like a nuclear howitzer blasting chunks out of the edifice of US and British imperialism; instead its effect is like that of a dozen pies thrown in the faces of a gang of war criminals.  You could say that CITIZENFOUR pulled all its punches… except for the fact that it never even attempts to throw any.  This is, by the way, the primary reason why it’s getting such great reviews from the bourgeois press.

So far as we can tell, the reason that Poitras doesn’t engage in aggressive political “agitprop” – a fact that nearly every reviewer from the bourgeois press extols as one of her film’s strengths – is apparently that she has no political axe to grind – or more accurately, she is a liberal bourgeois democratic reformist whose political aspirations rise no higher than to being one who “speaks truth to power”.  What this means in practice is that she and others like her – including Assange and Snowden – willingly self-limit the extent of their political activities to begging the “legitimate powers that be” to behave themselves and to urging the paid employees of the US capitalist ruling class that have set up the global espionage network – the bourgeois politicians in the “Five Eyes” nations – to start taking their alleged “responsibilities” to the citizens of their respective nations seriously by curbing the “excesses” that they themselves signed off on!

This kind of “inside the box” thinking may seem strange coming from the likes of Poitras, Assange, Snowden and Greenwald; but if we analyze their political philosophies in more detail it doesn’t seem strange at all.  Unless a person has consciously broken away from the worthless, selfish, greedy corporatist ideology of the capitalist system and has become a conscious Marxist revolutionary dedicated to the overthrow of the capitalist class and its economic system, one’s politics are going to be by definition REFORMIST at best; and so how can a non-revolutionary do anything else but simply beg the bourgeoisie to straighten up and fly right?  If you believe that the capitalist economic system is “the best of all possible economic systems”, and that only the capitalist class and its favored institutions of higher learning are capable of producing “legitimate” political leaders – where does that leave you politically?  It leaves you “speaking truth to power” like a good, loyal (if somewhat uppity) wage-slave!

Is CITIZENFOUR worth seeing?  For us, it was worth the price of admission just to see the “Dream Team” of Snowden, Greenwald and Poitras in the same room preparing to launch one of the world’s most impressive exposes of massive governmental abuses of power affecting everyone on the planet who has access to a telephone and/or a computer connected to the Internet.  This NSA spy scandal makes Watergate look like a pillow fight!  But the cursory overview made by the film of the extent of the revelations can’t be very compelling to anyone who hasn’t been following the story over the past year or so.  The movie barely describes the NSA and GCHQ-run “Five Eyes” espionage juggernaut; nor does it clearly show the threats of assassination and worse levied against Snowden, Assange and Greenwald by various US Government scumbags through the news media for daring to bring all this criminality into the light of day.  And, having not even really covered any of these issues, the film fails to even attempt to engage the audience in the critically important work of what is to be done: building new political parties to take down those that have erected the Big Brother spy apparatus that is intended to be used primarily to rapidly identify political opponents of the US, UK, Australian, Canadian and New Zealand Governments INSIDE  THEIR RESPECTIVE NATION-STATES!  This is, after all, the real purpose of all this espionage: to create a database of the day-to-day activities of every citizen of the world’s leading capitalist states in order to identify and neutralize them if they should ever seek to organize seriously threatening political opposition to the neo-fascist police states being set up in the US and its partners in the “Five Eyes” nations.  The primary target of all this espionage isn’t foreign terrorism: the target is the domestic working-class political opposition that – if it turns in a revolutionary socialist direction – potentially threatens the continued class rule of the capitalist classes of the world.  The capitalist classes of the US and UK in particular have absolutely no intention of sharing political power with the numerically and economically vastly superior working class that creates all the wealth under capitalism.  Any attempt by the domestic working classes of the US or UK to throw off the yoke of capitalist exploitation through political or economic strike action will immediately be placed under the microscope of the global espionage network, where the movement’s leaders will be quickly identified, isolated and “neutralized” – physically if the capitalists deem it to be necessary.  This is precisely what makes so extremely dangerous  the Obama Administration’s precedent-setting legal findings asserting that a sitting US President has the “right” to order the assassination of any US citizen whose writings or friends and associates he – or more accurately his employers in the US capitalist class – do not like.

This is not crazy commie paranoia speaking here: the Obama Administration has openly admitted that it has murdered four US citizens in drone strikes overseas – that we know of; and the US government maintains a “watch list” of its perceived opponents that already had a million people listed on it in 2009 – and it is being constantly updated. In 2013 it was reported that an additional 450,000 people were “nominated” to be added to the list – with few of the nominees escaping that dubious honor.

The faith in the hired political lackeys of the bourgeoisie implicitly espoused by Poitras, Greenwald, Snowden and Assange; their placid belief that steady pressure applied to the so-called liberal “left-wing” and Libertarian sections of the political class will ultimately win the day and allow the necessary political reforms to be enacted is, quite frankly, absurd – and evidence of a political immaturity in all of them that is quite shocking, especially considering what they have learned since Snowden came forward with his revelations.  Those actual members of the US or UK capitalist classes who go to see CITIZENFOUR will undoubtedly feel a tremendous relief in their discovery that these potentially dangerous opponents of the capitalist class are, in fact, posing no serious threat to the status quo at all.  The capitalists and their spies and hired guns can sleep a bit easier knowing that Poitras, Assange, Snowden and Greenwald – for all their genuine courage and excellent work in exposing the crimes of the ruling class – have set for themselves only the pathetic task of “speaking truth to power”.   That is something that the ruling class can listen to from Assange, Snowden – or anyone else, for that matter – for ever, condescendingly acknowledging and even thanking them profusely for their heroic selflessness in bringing to the world’s attention these “serious issues” – while doing absolutely nothing substantial to change the workings of the national security state at all.  Viewed in this way, CITIZENFOUR becomes just another pointless pantomime rebellion in the long, bloody history of capitalism.  The capitalists will, first of all, breathe a deep sigh of relief now that it’s clear that the film isn’t presenting an indictment of the capitalist class or their system; then, having been let largely off the hook by the film’s protagonists, we expect the capitalist class to continue to do what they have in fact been doing: applauding the film.   Perhaps Poitras and Greenwald will be invited to  testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee to speak “truth to power” on CSPAN; or at the Council on Foreign Relations… or at the United Nations or one of the capitalist soirees like the annual hand-wringing exercise at Davos, Switzerland.   Finally, perhaps, the capitalist class will direct the editors of their news media conglomerates to heap praise on the film and even to heartily recommend that it be awarded the Palme ‘d’Or, or even an Oscar or two!  This is how activist filmmakers like Poitras and investigative journalists like Greenwald are co-opted by the capitalist class and transformed from courageous opponents of the capitalist system to prominent pro-regime songbirds publicly displayed in golden cages. Ask Barbara Kopple or Bob Woodward how it’s done.

Poitras, Greenwald et al are, we believe, decent, courageous and apparently honest bourgeois reformist journalists.  But we ask our readers to imagine how much further along in investigating, exposing and successfully fighting this impending global police state we’d be if the documents unleashed by Snowden had been placed not in the hands of “responsible journalists” but in the hands of worker-revolutionaries who weren’t so loyally censoring the documents in order to “protect the agents and assets” of the racist, bloodthirsty and greed-obsessed US capitalist class and its spy organizations!  Snowden makes clear in the movie that his motivation for placing the blockbuster documents he purloined from the NSA into the hands of trustworthy representatives of the bourgeois press was that he wanted to be sure that there would be no reckless release of information that would seriously damage the “legitimate” goals of the shadow government of the US!  Greenwald et al have scrupulously respected the “sacred trust” placed in them by Snowden to protect the “family jewels” of the espionage agencies of US and British imperialism.  This is disgusting!  Instead of placing the interests of the 7.2 billion workers of the world above all else, Snowden and his team are protecting the “legitimate rights” of the microscopically small capitalist class against those of the multi-billion strong international working class!  Snowden and his collaborators are doing a tremendous service for the US and British capitalist classes, which are, by the way, going to repay them and all of us by imposing their will on the world – both internationally and domestically – through increasingly brutal military and police-state force.  To throw the US and British capitalist classes such a huge life-preserver when they should instead be having ANCHORS tied to their necks is to betray the entire human race in order to maintain the tenuous and despotic rule of a class of criminals responsible for the perpetuation of the horrors of a capitalist world in which – to name just one major example – the world does little or nothing while 17,000 children die of starvation every single day!  There is nothing “legitimate” about the capitalist class or their “interests”!  Every effort should be made to destroy the NSA, the CIA and the US military and the cretinous ruling class that spawned them – not to save them!

Nothing short of workers revolution can change the increasingly deranged plans of the US capitalist class.  They have plans of global military domination of the entire planet that go far beyond what even Adolf Hitler envisioned; so long as their political opponents refuse to form working class revolutionary parties to overthrow the capitalist class and system, the ruling capitalists have nothing to fear.

The working class, however, DOES have something to fear from the fact that most of their erstwhile leaders are so completely dedicated to the continuation of the brutal capitalist system that they are prepared to follow the capitalist class all the way down the road to hell, where the fascists and eventually World War Three will put an end to this historical epoch – and perhaps throw the human race back into a pre-industrial stage of development.  Apparently, these folks think that they have more to gain from clinging to the coat-tails of the capitalist class than they can gain by fighting for the emancipation of the workers of the world.  If they insist on taking the capitalist road, that’s fine; but let’s not imagine that because THEY are heading down that road, that we, too, must take that well-worn path to political oblivion.  We’re not followers – we aspire to be revolutionary workers leaders. We warn the Poitrases and Greenwalds of the world of the dangers that lie ahead; we try to point out the reasons why we disagree with them; we urge them to take the high rather than the low road; but we can’t force them to lead a workers revolution.  They are simply not revolutionaries; perhaps it’s just not in their nature to be revolutionaries.  It’s a pity, but that is, in the end, their problem – we don’t need to make it ours.

The working class must look elsewhere than to Poitras, Snowden, Assange and Greenwald for the political leadership necessary to lead the workers of the world out of the dead end of the capitalist stage of development and into the next stage: that of socialism.  It’s “socialism or barbarism” brothers and sisters, just like Marx, Engels, Lenin, Luxemburg, and Trotsky explained to us so many years ago!  Now –  as then – to ignore the warnings of those great, selfless and honest internationalist leaders of the working class is to help the capitalist class pave the road leading to the hell of the next – and possibly this time, the last – world war.

Workers of the World, Unite!

IWPCHI and Friends of WikiLeaks – Chicago

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Document Collection: NSA Infiltrates Online Games To Learn How to Discern and Exploit Human Behavior in the Real World

We present here a collection of documents filched from the archives at the United States’ National Security Agency (NSA) by Edward Snowden relating to the NSA’s spy ops in the world of online games like World of Warcraft and Second Life.

When this story first broke, many commentators ridiculed the notion that the NSA would waste taxpayers’ money by trolling these virtual-reality games.  The spin doctors from the US Government and the capitalist news media tried successfully to make it seem as though the NSA was just on a wild goose chase for terrorists who were using virtual worlds as a cover for global organization of terrorist networks – pretty far-fetched stuff.

In fact, the NSA and other US Government spy agencies studying these websites are engaged in very intensive studies of human behavioral patterns in order to be better able to manipulate people in the real world.  The NSA’s activities in places like Second Life – like their massive global data collection and mining activities – have very little to do with terrorism and a LOT to do with maintaining capitalist class rule all over the world by profiling and targeting political activists who organize  opposition to the machinations of the capitalist class.  The primary purpose of NSA spy ops is to develop techniques for quickly stripping away the layers of anonymity any prudent citizen of the world would attempt cloak themselves with online who is an active opponent of the United States capitalist class.  The idea is to enable the US intelligence community to quickly identify key activists in times of national crisis in order to neutralize them as the nuclei of successful revolutionary opposition to the US capitalist class.  Having stripped away a target’s online and telephonic anonymity, the NSA can turn over the identity and location of anyone deemed to be a threat to the maintenance of the capitalist status quo to the appropriate police or military authorities.  That this methodology is useful in targeting terrorists is tangential to the real goal, which is to prevent the rise of organized political opposition to the capitalist system anywhere in the world.  That is why the NSA’s spy operations are not tailored to target only terrorists: in the eyes of the numerically tiny US capitalist class, any citizen of the world can become a “terrorist” threat to their continued and increasingly difficult-to-maintain control of the world’s political and economic systems.

These documents reveal that the NSA is seeking the collaboration of behavioral psychologists studying human behavior in virtual worlds and how that behavior relates to and reveals how these same people behave in the real world.  The people they are specifically targeting in Second Life and World of Warcraft are citizens who are either political opponents of the US Government or employees of key institutions, corporations and foreign governments whom the US Government seeks to influence, manipulate or destroy.  By observing the behavior of the targeted persons in the virtual world, the US Government can seek to find out what “makes these people tick” so they can be more successfully manipulated in the real world.

Several of the documents reveal the vast amount of insight into a human being’s psyche that is obtainable by observing how a person behaves using an avatar in a virtual world setting.  The same attributes that attract a targeted person in the virtual world, it has been discovered, will also attract them in the real world.  By studying them in the virtual world, where their inhibitions are dropped to a significant degree, the spy agencies can see deep into the “soul” of a target, and can utilize those insights to craft any number of psychological warfare operations to recruit or derange and destroy that person in the real world.  Major US defense contractors like Lockheed have ongoing research projects studying human behavior in the popular online virtual worlds.  This is not the least bit frivolous on the part of the US Government: it is teaching the spies how to utilize modern scientific methods of behavior modeling and modification to effect desirable (to the capitalist class) changes in the real world.  This is the kind of Big Brother mind control operation that the US Government has always sought, since the days of the CIA’s  MKULTRA program.

The longer the workers of the world allow the capitalist classes of the world to stay in power, the more ominous these spy operations will become.  The working people of the world have to organize to overthrow the capitalist class and its greed-based economic system and replace it with an egalitarian socialist economic system where this kind of mind-control bullshit will not be tolerated.  The longer we wait to do something about this, the harder it will be to reverse the massive inroads that the capitalists have made into clamping a lid on political opposition to their increasingly despotic class rule.

Workers of the Woeld, Unite!

IWPCHI

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Screenshot of IARPA website's "Organization" page.

Screenshot of IARPA website’s “Organization” page.

IARPA website: description of "REYNARD" program.

IARPA website: description of “REYNARD” program.

This document is a much more detailed exposition on the REYNARD program.  Interestingly, the document asserts that the REYNARD program’s intensive studies of human behavior carried out surreptitiously in online games like “World of Warcraft” and “Second Life” “was conducted under the oversight of human subjects protection Institutional Review Boards. The Government received only data analysis and summary reports that excluded any personally identifiable information.”  But of course, it has long been the case that in cases of studies of human subjects where it is even possible that physical or mental harm can be caused by the study, the only ethical way to “protect” human experimental subjects is first of all to obtain their fully informed CONSENT to participate in the study.  This was not even attempted by these researchers.
“Facts about the program, which ended in 2012, include:
• The program studied approximately 15,000 players from 9 countries in 12 MMOGs and  VWs
• The research found objective behavioral indicators for over a dozen RW characteristics,  such as gender and age
• RW characteristics could be predicted from VW behavior with a high degree of accuracy (>75%)
The Reynard program concluded that individuals’ online behaviors are highly consistent with who they are offline. This contradicts the view of other experts, who claim that individuals explore alternative ways of behaving when interacting online.”

November 2013 summary of IARPA’s “REYNARD” program

________________________________

This document outlines US defense contractor Lockheed-Martin’s successful proposal for participation in the REYNARD program.  Lockheed asserts that its program will develop such capabilities as “sentiment and tone of discourse analysis” and will “identify salient clues of behaviors indicative of: gender; approximate age; economic status; ideology;  degree of influence and culture.”

Lockheed-Martin’s proposal for REYNARD program

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NSA GAMES PAPER: “Exploiting Terrorist Use of Games & Virtual Environments”
This document is the NSA’s raison d’etre for targeting virtual reality games, which thay call “Games and Virtual Environments (GVEs): “GVEs are an opportunity! We can use games for: CNE exploits, social network analysis, HUMINT [HUMan INTelligence – IWPCHI] targeting, ID tracking (photos, doc IDs), shaping activities, geo-location of target, and collection of comms. It has been well documented that terrorists are OPSEC [OPerations SECurity – IWPCHI] and tech saavy and are only getting more so over time. These applications and their servers however, are
trusted by their users and makes an connection to another computer on the Internet, which can then be exploited. Through target buddylists and interaction found in the gaming and on gaming web sites, social networks can be diagramed and previously unknown SIGINT [SIGnals INTelligence; covers all types of electronic communications – IWPCHI]  leads and
connections and terrorists cells discovered. GVEs can contain on-line presence indicators, geolocation, and ID tracking can be gleaned and used in apprehension operations.”

We believe that it is more useful to look at all the references to “terrorists” and “terrorism” in NSA and similar agencies’ propaganda and documentation as the cover story which is intended to obscure the identities of their actual  target populations, which are, as we stated above, far more diverse, numerous and threatening to the capitalist class than  the relatively small numbers of “professional terrorists” in the “real world”: the working class and its political leadership.

NSA white paper: “Exploiting Terrorist Use of Games & Virtual Environments”

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Stanford Research Institute (SRI) International: “When DoomJezter Met AngelBlossom: Virtual World Language Use and Real World
Identity”

SRI International is the cutout organization that the US Department of Defense uses to funnel money to the Tor Project.  This doesn’t provide much of a cover for Tor’s DoD sugar daddies: SRI has always derived the majority of its funding from the Pentagon.  In fact, in the 1970’s, anti-Vietnam War activists at Stanford drove SRI off campus because of its nefarious activities on behalf of US imperialism’s brutal war against the Vietnamese workers and peasants.  According to Wikipedia, in 2010, 67% of SRI’s funding came from the Pentagon.

Here, SRI is conducting research for the US Air Force Research Laboratory  in a project called VERUS (Virtual Environment Real User Study) in which “SRI is exploring online gaming systems and virtual environments to better understand links between online gamers and their real-world activities, and to understand their avatars’ group dynamics within virtual worlds. The research goals go well beyond enhancing the entertainment value of online games. The work will also help enhance virtual environments for teaching and learning, professional training, and collaboration.”

VERUS project webpage at SRI Intl

VERUS project webpage at SRI Intl

SRI Int’l, VERUS: “When DoomJezter Met AngelBlossom: Virtual World Language Use and Real World Identity”

IWPCHI

NSA’s Alexander Caught Lying Again at Black Hat 2013! Get your copy of the XKeystone 2008 presentation here!

Click the link below to obtain your very own copy of the 2008 XKeystone presentation released by The Guardian yesterday as the National Security Agency’s top pig Gen. Keith Alexander spewed a stream of lies into the faces of the participants at Black Hat 2013!

2008 What is XKeyscore

US National Security Agency's Top Pig, General Keith Alexander (artist's rendering by Enrico Mazzanti)

US National Security Agency’s Top Pig, General Keith Alexander speaks at Black Hat 2013 (artist’s rendering by Enrico Mazzanti)

1 August 2013

Yesterday, while the top pig of the U.S.’ sinister foreign and domestic spying operation, the National Security Agency’s General Keith Alexander attempted to pull the wool over the eyes of the Black hat 2013 conference, 7900 km away, the London Guardian’s top investigative journalist was revealing – once again – that  practically every word coming out of his lying mouth was – no surprise! – yet another lie.

” ‘You lied to Congress. Why would people believe you’re not lying to us right now?’ yelled a participant at Black Hat ’13.   “Alexander hesitated for a brief moment. ‘I haven’t lied to Congress’ ” he lied.

There’s a very old joke about politicians that seems appropriate to paraphrase here: Q: “How can you tell that a member of the U.S. ‘intelligence community’ is lying?”

A: “His lips are moving.”

Alexander also, shall we say, pretended that, in contradiction to what the heroic whistleblower Edward Snowden has revealed to be true,  “only 35” of the NSA’s intelligence analysts “are authorized to run queries on the database that contains metadata vacuumed up by Section 215.  ‘They have to go through three separate training regimen, and pass tests, to do queries into that database,’ he said, highlighting that not all NSA employees can access the data it has collected.”

While Alexander spoke these words, a little gremlin named Glenn Greenwald was dropping a truth bomb on his ass in the form of this article in The Guardian:   “XKeyscore: NSA tool collects ‘nearly everything a user does on the internet’ “.

In this article, the world discovered that “A top secret National Security Agency program allows analysts to search with no prior authorization through vast databases containing emails, online chats and the browsing histories of millions of individuals, according to documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden… training materials for XKeyscore detail how analysts can use it and other systems to mine enormous agency databases by filling in a simple on-screen form giving only a broad justification for the search. The request is not reviewed by a court or any NSA personnel before it is processed.”  [Source: The Guardian (UK), 31 August, 2013]

Now, since Alexander and his gang of criminals at NSA have their filthy fingers so far up Glenn Greenwald’s ass that they can squeeze his adam’s apple – not to mention the number of paid informants they and/or the CIA almost undoubtedly have on the staff of The Guardian – they must have known before Alexander gave his lying speech that everything he was planning to say to the Black Hat conference was about to be revealed to be a tissue of lies.  But that didn’t stop this “Great American Hero (TM)” – far from it!  He just went right ahead with his bullshit speech as if the entire world is made up of people as dull-witted as the vast majority of American adults, and lied and kept on lying.

[The entire speech of Gen. Alexander, that arch-enemy of the world’s working class, to the 2013 Black Hat Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada on 31 July, 2013 is available here.]

The Black Hat Conference may be organized by some of the world’s most computer-savvy hackers; but when it comes to politics they are pathetic nOObs.  In remarks given just before General Lies-a-lot took the podium, Black Hat General Manager Trey Ford showed his true colors.  First, and very decently, he began by asking for a moment of silence in memory of super-hacker Barnaby Jack’s untimely and sudden death  last Thursday from as-yet undetermined causes.  This was noble, perhaps, of Ford to do this, but it definitely served to put a damper on the spirits of those eager to give Alexander a well-deserved verbal ass-kicking.

Referring to Alexander as “The General”, Ford stated that the organizers of Black hat had collected questions from “select members of the community” related to the recent NSA revelations and presented them to General “Pinocchio” Alexander, apparently in the wishful expectation of somehow receiving some honest answers from this most unlikely source.

“I believe that our communities are deeply linked:  the security community, the intelligence community and..  I think it’s time for the General to come and set some facts straight.  The conversation cannot continue effectively without getting some insight, some perspective, some clarity on the facts”!

Yes, that’s what’s needed! Those crazy “facts” are always going off half-cocked!  Someone could get hurt!  What the world needs is for a full-time professional liar to step forward to put those darned facts straight for us so we can understand just what the hell is going on!

Once Ford finished his fawning, lame intro for his friend “The General”, another of Black Hat’s leading geniuses came on stage.  We are still trying to figure out who he is, [it appears to be Black Hat Founder/Director Jeff Moss] […]  his remarks went even further than Ford’s to soft-soap the audience in preparation for the virile thrust of Alexander’s speech:

“Yeah… I think, um…I’ve never sensed this level of tension or apprehension in the community since… I would say… I don’t know.  How many people here were around for the “cryptowars” in the late ’90s?  Right?  I mean that was a pretty stressful time.  And that pales in comparison to what’s going on now.  That was: ‘how do we export math; how do we control cryptography?’  The ‘clipper chip’.  You know, ‘the government might want to listen in to our phone calls.’ [uncomfortable laughter]. How times have changed. [big laughs from audience].

[…]

“Rumor has it that The General’s a pretty busy guy.  And I think it would have been easy for him to sort of ‘duck out’ and not come speak to us.  You know, go to a meeting.  But, instead, uh, he’s coming here to speak with us – not because he has to – but because he wants to. And I think that really speaks toward his integrity and his interest in engaging with us and with the community.

“Last year… I’ve been trying to get a director at NSA to speak at DefCon for as long as I’ve been doing DefCon… and, finally, one came to DefCon last year – General Alexander.  And he tried to start a conversation with us about shared values and then… how do we set the needle on civil liberties, privacy; but then, security?  And it’s never going to be a static needle; this needle is gonna move around.  Ah, but how do we set it?  I think he’s a big believer in that technology, and working with communities such as ours can lead to a more transparent and easier way of setting the needle.  ‘Cause it’s gonna get set, one way or the other.  Um… I think what, what’s happening here is there’s this tension between… offense seem to really be winning right now (laughs). I mean, offense is doing sweet; defense not so much.  And so a lot of people are thinking: ‘Well, so what does that mean?  What does that mean to my business? Well… how are you going to move forward in this environment of sort of like all-pervasive offense capabilities?’  And I think, really, this is giving us an opportunity now to finally have this conversation that we’ve all been wanting to have for five or ten years.  And I think The General wants to have that conversation as well.  So, I think this topic is more important than ever and I’m just really proud that these things are going to start happening here.  Trey?”

Trey Ford:  “”I think we all look forward to hearing from The General… um… I think we can all respect that there’s a lot of things he can’t share with us;  I think that we have a responsibility to try to set aside hyperbole [! – IWPCHI] to give a very focused look at the facts… without further ado, let’s welcome General Alexander to the stage.”  [loud applause, music as “The General” enters, shaking hands with Moss and Ford, climbing the stairs to the stage carrying what may have been, judging from his slightly slurred speech, his first non-alcoholic beverage of the day – a bottle of water].

THESE are the leaders of the “black hats”?  What a pair of lying sycophantic turds!  “We’re finally going to be able to have this conversation we’ve all been waiting to have for the past… ten years”?  Yes, now that the NSA has gone ahead and shredded what’s left of our Constitutional rights, we will have a conversation!  And a one-sided one it will be, because – except for the recent revelations of heroic ex-NSA sub-contractor Edward Snowden, we’ve all been kept completely in the dark about what’s been going on… by “The General” and his co-conspirators!  “The General wants to have this conversation as well”!  Oh, good for him!  How nice of him to deign to speak to this tiny subset of the American working class after having robbed us all of our right to privacy!  “I think we can all respect that there’s a lot of things he can’t share with us!”  Yes! Because we are “merely” the citizens of the United States, mere citizens – and we don’t have the proper security clearances to be kept apprised as to what “our” government is up to in this thoroughly fake “democracy”!

General Keith Alexander inspects "new" Saudi Arabian antiaircraft weapons near Riyadh during Gulf War II

General Keith Alexander inspects surplus U.S. artillery sold to Saudi Arabia during Gulf War II.  Photographer: name redacted.

And so Alexander takes the stage (pictured above, at work during the Gulf War) sporting a sort of “military casual” look…  perhaps this is what they wear at the Pentagon on “casual Fridays”:  short sleeve white shirt, open at the neck (no tie), but still bedecked with medals and ribbons like a tinpot dictator.  And what the fuck are all those medals for, pray tell?  Alexander graduated from West Point in 1974 as the Vietnam War was winding down; according to his Wikipedia biography  he never saw active duty in Vietnam – or anywhere else.  All his assignments were either in the United States, in Germany or in Saudi Arabia.  Apparently he’s never fired so much as a slingshot in wartime!  But all those pretty ribbons serve to dazzle those who possess that almost uniquely American overweening military fetish – a fetish of the soldier so fawning that it even embarrasses the more perceptive U.S. military officers themselves.  A fetish shared, pathetically, by Trey Ford and Jeff Moss – and, if the applause in the room is authentic and not just a showing of hands to placate their bosses, by a great number of these so-called “black hat hackers” as well.

Actually, in Moss’ case, his love for all things authoritarian isn’t something he’s ashamed of at all: his official bio on the Black Hat website proudly touts “his ability to bridge the gap between the underground researcher community and law enforcement, between the worlds of pure research and responsible application.”  In plain English: he’s a willing cat’s paw of the forces of “law and order”, trolling the aisles of Black Hat conferences to help identify those people who are potential allies of the US Government and its many spy and police agencies and those who are not “responsible” members of the Black Hat “community”.

But let’s get back to “The General’s” dog-and-pony show, shall we?

[Transcriptor’s note: throughout his speech, “The General” speaks in both tone and speed, in the manner of  Mr. Rogers

;  we have tried to give a sense of the style of his speech patterns using three dots (…) to show where “The General” frequently pauses in his speech.  Where he slurs his speech, we have showed that as well by slamming a bunch of words together.  We are not trying to heap ridicule on this asshat; we are simply trying to put into textual form his style of speech – IWPCHI]

The General: “Well Trey and Jeff, thanks… thanks for that introduction.  I think that what they said to start out with… uh… is the reason I’m here.  This is [gesturing to the audience] the technical foundation for our world’s communications… you folks right here.  And the issue that stands before us today is one of what do we do next?  How do we start this discussion on defending our nation and protecting our civil liberties and privacy?

“The reason I’m here is because you may have some ideas of how we can do it better: we need to hear those ideas.  But equally important – from my perspective – izzat [sic] you get the facts.  An’ so what I’mgunnadotoday [sic]  is try to lay out those facts.

“Now as Trey or Jeff said, there are good reasons why some of this is classified.  And why some of it is stuff that we just don’t put out there.  And the big reason from my perspective is because terrorists use our communications.  They live among us.  How do we come up… with a program to stop terrorism and to protect our civil liberties and privacy?  This is perhaps one of the biggest issues facing our country today.

“I also want you to get a sense for people at the National Security Agency.  It has been… the greatest honor and privilege of my life… to lead… these noble folks.  They’re the ones – and you’ll get a little bit of sense of what they’ve done for our country over the past eight years while I’ve been there… and their reputation is tarnished… because all the facts aren’t on the table.  But you [pointing at the audience] can help us articulate the facts properly. [Someone either sneezes or pretends to sneeze and says “bullshit!” Alexander’s head quickly swivels in the direction of the sound, as if startled.  As we said, he was never a battlefield commander].  I will answer every question… to the fullest extent possible.  And I promise you… the truth:  what we know; what we’re doing;  and what I cannot tell you… [I will act out in mime? No – dammit! – IWPCHI] because we don’t want to jeopardize our future defense.

What we’re going do in this briefing is give you the facts on these programs – the business record, FISA; on FAA 702; on what we’ve done to stop terrorist attacks… address some of the problems that we see out there… with inaccurate statements… and talk about ‘where do we go from here’?

“That’s where you come in.  We need to hear from you… because the tools… and the things we use… are very much the same as the tools that many of you use in securing networks.  The difference, in part, is the oversight and the compliance that we have in these programs.  That part is missing in much of the discussion.  I believe it’s important for you to hear that: for you to understand what these people have to do in order to do their job to defend this nation.  And the oversight regime that we have.

[To be continued – IWPCHI]

US National Security Agency Releases “Talking Points” to Help Capitalist Press Defend US Police State

The United States government – a wholly-owned subsidiary of the tiny US capitalist class, whose top 450 or so members own over 50% of US wealth – likes to pose as a benevolent government dedicated to the “freedom of the press”.  Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.  The US Government has opposed a free press since the 1798 passage of the infamous “Alien and Sedition Acts” – signed into law by “Founding Father” John Adams and used by both Adams and Jefferson to gag those in the US news media of the day who dared to “defame” them in the pages of their newspapers.

Back then, in the early days of the formation of the US Government, there was a much more lively left opposition bourgeois press dedicated to “Republican” principles than their is today.  Today’s bourgeois press fully supports the rule of the US capitalist aristocracy – from Fox News to the New York Times, they all, in the last analysis, are loyal defenders of the class rule of the US capitalist class.

The latest revelations of the true nature of the “openness” and “freedom” of the US capitalist political system – provided by an employee of a subcontractor working for the Orwellian nightmare National Security Agency (NSA) , Edward Snowden – is proving, once again, that when it comes to defending even the most revolting behavior of the US capitalist class and its government agents, the US bourgeois press stands second to none.  Though it has become obligatory for the editorial boards of every US news media outlet to “condemn” the massive domestic and international spying operations being carried out by the NSA, this criticism has been of the “loyal opposition” type.  The pro-capitalist news media are united in their defense of the “right” of the US Government to spy on the “enemies of the state” – foreign and domestic – so long as that spying is being “monitored” by the elected representatives of “the people” and members of the supposedly “objective” judiciary.   The vast foreign and domestic spying operations of the US Government “are necessary” in order to “defend” the US from “terrorists”, they all opine.

Still, the NSA wants to make sure that these fawning, slavish “knights of the pen” in the capitalist media stay “on message” as the NSA seeks to derail any accidental development of any political movement by a rogue Congressman to timidly file down the razor-sharp teeth and fangs of the US “intelligence community”.  In spite of the long-running spectacle of the entire US news media  tripping over their own tongues in an obsequious effort to prove their undying loyalty to the US capitalist class – even when it appears unmasked in the guise of a 21st-century version of the Spanish Inquisition – the NSA is going the extra distance it believes to be necessary in order to ensure that no virulently anti-police state journalism obtains a foothold in any dark corner of a newsroom anywhere.  To that end it has helpfully produced a series of “talking points” memos and distributed them throughout the editorial offices of the land so that all the bootlicking defenders of the US police state can stay “en pointe”.

The pro-capitalist reformist liberals at Techdirt – who are apparently “shocked, SHOCKED!” at the very idea that the massive spying operations of “their” US Government should be directed at THEM! – have attempted to keep the NSA’s feet to the tepid breath of the US news media by releasing two of the NSA’s “talking points” memos.

They (the memos, that is) are quite interesting and even amusing.

fisa-business-records-talking-points-6-6-13

nsa-internet-talking-points-6-7-13

“What is everyone so worked up about”? asks the NSA, donning grandma’s bedclothes.  “There’s nothing illegal going on – everything we’ve done has been lawfully conducted under the FISA act, which was signed into law by the very same Democratic and Republican Senators and Congressmen who today pretend to be shocked at what we’re doing!”  True enough.

The Democrats – caught presiding over a domestic spying operation every bit as intrusive as that which they once hypocritically reviled in the East German workers state… one that would make Richard Nixon blush – are now lining up to defend “their” police state, claiming that it’s “necessary” in order to fight the terrorist groups that fellow Democrat Jimmy Carter unleashed on the world in order to combat the communist menace.  The truly hideous Dianne Feinstein, long-serving Democratic Senator from “liberal” San Francisco, California and Chairman of the hilariously misnamed “Senate Intelligence Committee” makes no bones about it:

“A primary mission of the U.S. intelligence community is to detect and prevent terrorist attacks against the United States, and Congress works closely with the executive branch to ensure that the authorities necessary to keep our country safe are in place. One of these authorities is the ‘business records’ provision of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act under which the executive branch is authorized to collect ‘metadata’ concerning telephone calls, such as a telephone number or the length of a call. This law does not allow the government to listen in on the content of a phone call.

            “The executive branch’s use of this authority has been briefed extensively to the Senate and House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees, and detailed information has been made available to all members of Congress prior to each congressional reauthorization of this law.

            “Ensuring security, however, must be consistent with respect for the constitutional rights of all Americans. The alleged FISA Court order contained in the Guardian article does not give the government authority to listen in on anyone’s telephone call, nor does it provide the government with the content of any communication or the name of any subscriber. As with other FISA authorities, all information the government may receive under such an order would be subject to strict limitations. While our courts have consistently recognized that there is no reasonable expectation of privacy in this type of metadata information and thus no search warrant is required to obtain it, any subsequent effort to obtain the content of an American’s communications would require a specific order from the FISA Court.

            “The intelligence community has successfully used FISA authorities to identify terrorists and those with whom they communicate, and this intelligence has helped protect the nation. The threat from terrorism remains very real and these lawful intelligence activities must continue, with the careful oversight of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government.”

[Source:  http://www.intelligence.senate.gov/press/record.cfm?id=343993 , “Feinstein, Chambliss Statement on NSA Phone Records Program”, 6 June, 2013 dredged from sewer of Feinstein’s Senate website]

This is what voting for the “lesser of two evils” gets you.   It is interesting to note that while Feinstein – who has been one of the principal architects of the US police state ‘lo these many years – claims that the NSA’s continual monitoring of every form of telecommunication carried out by every US citizen capable of using the Internet has “identified terrorists” and “helped protect the nation” she does not mention a single verifiable instance of such ever happening, while the NSA claims that it has, by collecting every email, blog post and phone call in the US, actually stopped “at least one” terrorist attack.   Of course, they won’t give any details to back up that assertion, either, because if they told the world about it, then they’d have to have the CIA kill us all.

Workers of the World, Unite!

Independent Workers Party of Chicago