Compromised Code Names, Operations and Equipment / Recent and in progress ( Updated 12:37PM PST / 27OCT2013 )

Editors Note: (Ralph Turchiano) Requested Repost from the archives (Oct 2013)

EEV: Recently Compromised or exposed Code names, Operations, Software and facilities. The list is in no particular order and is being updated frequently. These are just the discoveries from the past 2 years.

* Details of ALL operations can be found through inputting the codename in the search bar. (Being Updated, will be formatted for easy access in the near future _ The most recently compromised will be at the top (for the first week) after 26 OCT 2013

Compromised Code Names, Operations and Equipment

_______________________ Recent

MUSCULAR – The NSA’s principal tool to exploit the data  links is a project called MUSCULAR, operated jointly with the agency’s British  counterpart, GCHQ.

 Einstein antenna system –  Can intercept cell phone signals while simultaneously locating people of interest.

 Birdwatcher Program – intercepts microwave and millimeter-wave signals. Some programs,  deal primarily with encrypted communications in foreign countries and the search for potential access points. Birdwatcher is controlled directly from SCS headquarters in Maryland.

Quantum –  NSA controls a set of servers that sit on the Internet backbone, and these servers are used to redirect targets away from their intended destinations to still other NSA-controlled servers that are responsible for the injection of malware.

FoxAcid –  NSA server that selects from a toolkit of exploits in order to gain access to the user’s computer. Presumably this toolkit has both known public exploits that rely on a user’s software being out of date, as well as zero-day exploits which are generally saved for high value targets.

Tailored Access Operations (TAO), the branch  of the US National Security Agency (NSA) which deals with cyber-attacks


Opus Dei – International Roman  Catholic order, founded in 1928 and championed early by Spanish  dictator Francisco Franco, is dedicated to establishing its members in high  political, corporate, and religious offices all over the world.

Rossotrudnichestvo exchange program – Alleged exchange program used to recruit Americans to train as Russian spies

Shenguang (“Divine Light”) – China’s laser project for inertial confinement fusion, which aims to use high-powered lasers to produce a sustained nuclear fusion reaction ( lasers designed to damage or destroy US satellites )

Apstar-7 satellite (  APT Satellite Holdings )  – Chinese Satellite the Pentagon leases to oversee communications with its African bases

Operation Socialist – An assault on Belgacom’s “core GRX routers”

“Man in the Middle” or “MiTM” operations “ –  highly-sophisticated deception which allows a third party to intervene in an electronic conversation and pretend to be each of the other two parties, obtaining valuable information or spreading disinformation without the targets realizing

US-985D – Text messages France

Unit 61398 –  Engages in harmful ‘Computer Network Operations’,” is located in Shanghai’s Pudong district, China’s financial and banking hub, and is staffed by perhaps thousands of people proficient in English as well as computer programming and network operations. Is considered a Chinese State Secret. The unit has stolen “hundreds of terabytes of data from at least 141 organizations across a diverse set of industries beginning as early as 2006.

Apalachee – EU/ UN Tapping

Bumblehive – NSA Storage Facility

Boundless Informant – NSA Data Mining program

CHAMP ( Counter-Electronics High Power  Microwave Advanced Missile Project ) Boeings missile with  electromagnetic pulse capability

Codeword – Currently Unkown

Swag Security – China’s hack group U.S. Medicaid system / Nuclear Codes ( Ironically also a Bank of America Code Word )

Tailored Access Operations – NSA Special Targets

Flatliquid – Tap Diplomatic Communications

Whitetamale – Mexico e-mails

Lugar Research Center – U.S. Top Secret Biologics lab ( Republic of Georgia )

Special Collection Service – Secret eavesdropping posts in 80 US embassies and consulates around the world.

DishFire – Text message filtering / the intelligence agency collects information on credit card transactions from some 70 banks worldwide.

Sophia – Industrial Control System Computer Networking Fingerprinting Tool ( Powergrid )

Visdom – Competing Industrial Control System Computer Networking Fingerprinting Tool ( Powergrid )

FunVax – Biological pacification of individuals through vaccination

Section 6103 – IRS abuse

IceFog – Advanced Persistent Threats ( China ? )

Tel Shahar – Where the state-of-the-art facility to host the new ballistic-missile  defense system (  Arrow 3 ) in Israel – Accidentally disclosed by the Penatgon

Privacy & Civil Liberties Board (PCLOB) – Board set up to oversee domestic spying whose meetings and members are difficult to confirm and may not exist

Spearfishing – Emailed viruses

Hidden Lynx – Chinese Haking Group / Cyber-Mercenaries

Operation Aurora – General mass espionage

NetTraveler – Espionage Program

Red October  ( Rocra ) – Espionage campaign against military personnel in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and dozens of other nations (U.S., Australia, Ireland, Switzerland, Belgium, Brazil, Spain, South Africa, Japan, and the UAE.) . Features include an advanced cryptographic spy-module designed to lift data from Acid Cryptofiler, which is known to be used by NATO, the European Union, European Parliament and European Commission since the summer of 2011 to encrypt classified information.

DarkSeoul – Hacker Group (North Korean / China ? )

Shadow Network – Chinese Espionage Group

Team Cymru – Monitor Criminal Activty ( non profit )

Follow the Money – Financial Intelligence division NSA

SWIFT – European Financial Network

GHCQ Cheltenham – Processes Middle East  emails, telephone calls and web traffic

XKeyscore – spying program is used to skim regional data from the Visa network

SOD ( Special Operations Division )- Two dozen partner agencies comprise the unit, including the FBI, CIA, NSA, Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Homeland Security.

Total Information Awareness ( TIA ) – Pentagon intelligence gathering

ThinThread – Software correlated data from emails, phone calls, credit card payments and Internet searches and stored and mapped it in ways that could be analysed.

TrailBlazzer – Relaced Thinthread Software to correlated data from emails, phone calls, credit card payments and Internet searches and stored and mapped it in ways that could be analysed.

Going Dark -FBI initiative to extend its ability to wiretap virtually all forms of  electronic communications.

International Mobile Subscriber Identity locator  ( IMSI ) – These devices allows the government to electronically search large areas for a particular cell phone’s signal—sucking down data on potentially thousands of innocent people along the way.

Stingrays – Another name for International Mobile Subscriber Identity locator

Tripwire or Trapwire – information collection software OR lines in the sand which, if crossed, cover  personnel levels, security measures, and in this case, the extreme step of  suspending operations.

Voice Grid Nation ( VoiceGrid program ) – is a system that uses advanced algorithms to match identities to voices. Brought to the US by Russia’s Speech Technology Center, it claims to be capable of allowing police, federal agencies and other law enforcement personnel to build up a huge database containing up to several million voices.

Prism ( Discovered prior to Snowden ) – NSA direct access to the servers of nine prominent Internet companies, enabling the spy agency to track e-mails, photographs, and video, among other forms of digital communications .

Bullrun ( Edgehill GHCQ version ) –  NSA’s abilities to defeat the encryption used in specific network communication technologies. Bullrun involves multiple sources, all of which are extremely sensitive.” The document reveals that the agency has capabilities against widely used online protocols, such as HTTPS, voice-over-IP and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), used to protect online shopping and banking.

Cheesy Name –  aimed at singling out encryption keys, known as ‘certificates’, that might be vulnerable to being cracked by GCHQ supercomputers.

Humint Operations Team (HOT) Humint, short for “human intelligence –  Information gleaned directly from sources or undercover agents.The old fashion way.

Sigint [signals intelligence] enabling – The program “actively engages US and foreign IT industries to covertly influence and/or overtly leverage their commercial products’ designs”

Kimsuky – North Korean Hacking group

GENIE –  US computer specialists break into foreign networks so that they can be put under surreptitious US control.

WABASH – Tapping French offices U.N.

Blackfoot – Tapping French offices New York

Tempora – GCHQ’s Tapping transatlantic  fibre-optic cables

Sensitive relationship teams – Staff that were urged in one internal guidance paper to disguise the origin of “special source” material in their reports for fear that the role of the companies as intercept partners would cause “high-level political fallout”.

Menwith Hill in North Yorkshire – NSA intercept station

Atlas International Trading – Company in the Pentagon’s Foreign Materiel Acquisition and Exploitation program

Advanced Persistent Threat Groups – Nitro, Aurora, ElderWood, Sykipot, Comment Crew (APT1), NightDragon, FlowerLday, Luckycat, Pitty Panda.

Western Tradition Partnership, or WTP – Compromise U.S. Politicians – Dark Money – Major campaign bundler to the Obama campaign Shanghai based domain owned by Robert  Roche with strong  commercial ties to the  Chinese government. He has made 19 visits to the  White House since 2009, including a personal meeting with Obama.

Stuxnet , Duqu , Wiper, Flame – Tilded Platform malware used for cyberespionage and cybersabotage in the Middle East.

WildSage – NSA database. The system “provides a mechanism for cybersecurity centers to share signatures at the SECRET classification level

Port reader software – FBI desire to harvest information on users’ “dialing, routing, addressing, or signaling information associated with a target’s communications”. And, as the FBI stated, this information will only include source, destination IP addresses and port numbers.

Dynamo – Dutch name in COMINT

Richter – German name in COMINT

One-End Foreign (1EF) solution – system, the NSA is able to direct more than half of the internet traffic it intercepts from its collection points into its own repositories

EvilOlive – NSA’s attempt to broaden 1EF Doubling its capacity

ShellTrumpet – NSA’s processor

MoonLightPath – Metadata collection for  Special Source Operations

Spinneret – Metadata collection for  Special Source Operations

Transient Thurible -GHCQ headquarters that manages  XKeyScore (XKS) and Deep Dive metadata collections

Project Riverside – found that rich individuals and private companies had been hiring unscrupulous private detectives to obtain sensitive information on targets for years.

QinetiQ North America (QQ/) – Hi-Tech U.S. defense contractors, which are the favorite target of Cyberpillaging

Acoustic vector sensor – sensor measures the movement of air, disturbed by sound waves, to almost instantly locate where a sound originated. It can then identify the noise and, if required, transmit it live to waiting ears.

Edward Snowden’s not a one-off: hunts new secret doc leaker

Poor old Julian Assange – whistleblower went straight to Glenn Greenwald

It appears former NSA contractor Edward Snowden is not the only leaker of secret US documents around, as the US government searches for another whistleblower in the aftermath of another leak of classified information.

CNN reports that leaked documents related to a terrorist watch list and published by The Intercept (a site founded by Snowden confidante journalist Glenn Greenwald) didn’t even exist before Snowden quit his job as a NSA contractor in Hawaii and high-tailed it from the US.

That means the former sysadmin couldn’t have siphoned off this particular piece of secret information and that some other unknown source must be behind the leak.

US authorities are said to be hunting the new whistleblower. Continue reading “Edward Snowden’s not a one-off: hunts new secret doc leaker”

Germany to CIA Chief: Get Out!

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Germany has asked the CIA station chief in the country to leave the country at once, an unusual move that is a very public expression of anger over repeated cases of U.S. spying in the country.

“The representative of the U.S. intelligence services at the Embassy of the United States of America has been requested to leave Germany,” government spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a statement Thursday.


English: President Barack Obama and First Lady...

Continue reading “Germany to CIA Chief: Get Out!”

NBC Censored Snowden responses during interview

Saturday, 31 May 2014


Only around a quarter of the recent NBC News interview with former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden made it to broadcast, but unaired excerpts now online show that the network “neglected” to air critical statements about the 2001 terrorist attacks.


When the four-hour sit-down between journalist Brian Williams and Snowden made it to air on Wednesday night, NBC condensed roughly four hours of conversation into a 60-minute time slot. During an analysis of the full interview afterwards, however, the network showed portions of the interview that didn’t make it into the primetime broadcast, including remarks from the former National Security Agency contractor in which he questioned the American intelligence community’s inability to stop the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Continue reading “NBC Censored Snowden responses during interview”

Bilderberg group meets to discuss ‘Does Privacy Exist’?

Thursday, 29 May 2014


Many may chuckle when they learn a debate entitled “Does Privacy Exist?” is to feature at this year’s Bilderberg conference, the notoriously secretive gathering of the world’s most powerful bankers, politicians and business people.


There may be a further shaking of heads when they discover one of the participants at the heavily fortified, five-star Marriott Hotel in Copenhagen, Denmark, will be Keith Alexander, the former director of the National Security Agency (NSA), which was embarrassed by the mass-surveillance revelations leaked by Edward Snowden. In fairness to the Bilderberg, the organisers of this year’s conference – which starts on Thursday – have made efforts to be more transparent by publishing a list of all the prime ministers, chief executives and military chiefs in attendance, as well as the topics up for discussion – however should be noted the topic is mostly for public/media consumption, as the real topics usually remain hidden.

The seal of the U.S. National Security Agency....

Continue reading “Bilderberg group meets to discuss ‘Does Privacy Exist’?”

Why CIA, NSA can’t spy on Putin?

Tuesday, 01 April 2014

English: Vladimir Putin in KGB uniform Deutsch...
Earlier this month, as Russia began its move in Crimea, U.S. spy agencies reportedly found a worrying silence in the spot where they were listening most attentively — the digital space around Russian President Vladimir Putin and his military brass. As the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday, U.S. intelligence services could not intercept any communications on the start of the Crimean invasion. One U.S. official called it a piece of “classic maskirovka,” the Russian spy term for masking sensitive data. But at least part of the radio silence may have a simpler explanation: Putin, by his own admission, does not have a cell phone for the Americans to tap. Continue reading “Why CIA, NSA can’t spy on Putin?”

NSA spied on 122 World Leaders

Sunday 30 March 2014

English: Former NSA station on Teufelsberg. De...
Secret documents newly disclosed by the German newspaper Der Spiegel on Saturday shed more light on how aggressively the National Security Agency and its British counterpart have targeted Germany for surveillance.

A series of classified files from the archive provided to reporters by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, also seen by The Intercept, reveal that the NSA appears to have included Merkel in a surveillance database alongside more than 100 others foreign leaders. The documents also confirm for the first time that, in March 2013, the NSA obtained a top-secret court order against Germany as part of U.S. government efforts to monitor communications related to the country. Meanwhile, the British spy agency Government Communications Headquarters targeted three German companies in a clandestine operation that involved infiltrating the companies’ computer servers and eavesdropping on the communications of their staff. Continue reading “NSA spied on 122 World Leaders”

NSA ‘records all phone conversations’ in unnamed target country ( MYSTIC )

US agency records every phone conversation in unnamed target nation, according to exiled whistle-blower Edward Snowden and others

UPDATED : Thursday, 20 March, 2014, 4:23am
The Washington Post


NSA taps ‘all calls’ in one country.

The US National Security Agency is recording every single phone call in one particular country, with the agency able to rewind and review conversations up to a month after they take place, according to people with direct knowledge of the effort and documents supplied by former contractor Edward Snowden. Continue reading “NSA ‘records all phone conversations’ in unnamed target country ( MYSTIC )”

NSA’s TURBINE robot pumps ‘malware into MILLIONS of PCs’

Sysadmins, routers, criminals’ IRC botnets, and maybe terrorists, all for the pwning

By Iain Thomson 12th March 2014 21:47 GMT

The latest batch of top-secret intelligence documents from the hoard collected by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden detail the massive increase in the agency’s use of its Tailored Access Operations (TAO) hacking unit – including a system dubbed TURBINE that can spam out millions of pieces of sophisticated malware at a time.

The presentation slides, published by The Intercept, show that 10 years ago the NSA had infiltrated and tapped a modest number of computers, but has since hugely bolstered its toolkit and increased its target list. Within eight years, the number of active pieces of implanted spyware was in the tens of thousands, and slides show an extensive arms catalog of malware for the TAO team to choose from. Continue reading “NSA’s TURBINE robot pumps ‘malware into MILLIONS of PCs’”

Yahoo webcam images from millions of users intercepted by GCHQ

• Optic Nerve program collected Yahoo webcam images in bulk • 1.8m users targeted by UK agency in six-month period alone • Yahoo: ‘A whole new level of violation of our users’ privacy’ • Material included large quantity of sexually explicit images

and,              Thursday 27 February 2014 11.16 EST

Yahoo webcam image.

The GCHQ program saved one image every five minutes from the users’ feeds. Photograph: Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Britain’s surveillance agency GCHQ, with aid from the US National Security Agency, intercepted and stored the webcam images of millions of internet users not suspected of wrongdoing, secret documents reveal.

GCHQ files dating between 2008 and 2010 explicitly state that a surveillance program codenamed Optic Nerve collected still images of Yahoo webcam chats in bulk and saved them to agency databases, regardless of whether individual users were an intelligence target or not.

In one six-month period in 2008 alone, the agency collected webcam imagery – including substantial quantities of sexually explicit communications – from more than 1.8 million Yahoo user accounts globally.

Yahoo reacted furiously to the webcam interception when approached by the Guardian. The company denied any prior knowledge of the program, accusing the agencies of “a whole new level of violation of our users’ privacy“. Continue reading “Yahoo webcam images from millions of users intercepted by GCHQ”

‘I always wonder if someone is listening’: NSA spied on American lawyers but sometimes got other governments to do the work for them

Greenwald promises more shocking news on US surveillance, says he has sources apart from Snowden

Glenn Greenwald

Glenn Greenwald

Glenn Greenwald, the reporter who broke news of US government surveillance in the Guardian newspaper, promises more revelations on US surveillance, as he has come into contact with more sources besides Edward Snowden, former NSA employee.

In an interview on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” on Sunday, Greenwald said his new stories would start to appear online early this week. He dropped hints that he and his colleagues have come into contact with sources besides Edward Snowden, who provided classified documents detailing secret US surveillance around the world. Continue reading “Greenwald promises more shocking news on US surveillance, says he has sources apart from Snowden”

Microsoft, Facebook, Google and Yahoo release US surveillance requests

• Tech giants turn over data from tens of thousands of accounts • Limited disclosure part of transparency deal made last month

in Washington and in New York,    Monday 3 February 2014 16.40 EST

Microsoft, Twitter, Google and Facebook all want to give greater disclosure of Fisa requests
Microsoft, Twitter, Google and Facebook all participate in the NSA’s Prism effort. Photograph: Pichi Chuang/Reuters

Tens of thousands of accounts associated with customers of Microsoft, Google, Facebook and Yahoo have their data turned over to US government authorities every six months as the result of secret court orders, the tech giants disclosed for the first time on Monday. Continue reading “Microsoft, Facebook, Google and Yahoo release US surveillance requests”

Obama implies It is Ok to Lie to legislative bodies tasked with overseeing the powerful spy agencies

Obama admits intelligence chief fault over false Senate testimony

– members of Congress who warn of the dangerous precedent set by allowing an intelligence chief to lie to legislative bodies tasked with overseeing the powerful spy agencies

President continues to defend James Clapper in the face of calls for his resignation after ‘untruthful’ statement about bulk collection

in Washington,  Friday 31 January 2014 11.19 EST

James Clapper testifying
James Clapper, director of national intelligence, listens as he testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington this week. Photograph: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Continue reading “Obama implies It is Ok to Lie to legislative bodies tasked with overseeing the powerful spy agencies”

Snowden speaks: NSA spies create ‘databases of ruin’ on innocent folks

–  Firstly, the fear that everything is being recorded will change our personal behavior for the worse

– secondly that the data amounted to “databases of ruin”, storing embarrassing or harmful details can be plucked out in retroactive investigations.

Cray X-MP/24 (serial no. 115) used by NSA

‘Not all spying is bad’ but bulk collection has to go, says whistleblower in web chat

Ex-NSA contractor turned whistleblower Edward Snowden used his first public Q&A to call for the US to lead a global initiative to ban mass

surveillance of populations. He also wants governments to ensure that intelligence agencies can protect national security while not invading everyday privacy.

“Not all spying is bad. The biggest problem we face right now is the new technique of indiscriminate mass surveillance, where governments are seizing billions and billions and billions of innocents’ communication every single day,” he said. Continue reading “Snowden speaks: NSA spies create ‘databases of ruin’ on innocent folks”

Not Socially Acceptable: NSA boss video ‘most hated’ on YouTube in 2013?

EEV: In all fairness to the NSA director, he is only an employee of the government. It is not appropriate he be the fall guy, unless he acted independently of his supervisors.

 Published time: January 01, 2014 10:32                                                                            

Director of the National Security Agency Gen. Keith Alexander.(AFP Photo / Alex Wong)Director of the National Security Agency Gen. Keith Alexander.(AFP Photo / Alex Wong)

A YouTube video in which NSA boss Keith Alexander tries “to set the record straight” on the agency’s spying antics has nosedived. The half-hour interview triggered a wave of criticism from users, branding it the “most hated” video on YouTube.

In the wake of whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelations on the  massive espionage programs of the NSA, the spy agency has been  hard pressed to defend its reputation. Since the security leaks  emerged in May, the NSA has embarked on a campaign to clear its  name. As part of the push, the US Defense Department published a  video on YouTube in October seeking to justify the agency’s spy  campaign.

However, the video had far from the desired effect and has been  branded as one of the “most hated” videos of the year.  Out of the 187,833 people who have viewed the video up until now  16,407 have hit the dislike button, compared to a mere 300 who   “liked” the video.

Thousands of commentators also laid into the video, accusing the  NSA of brazen propaganda.

“This NSA interview is the most-hated thing on YouTube right  now,” said Google+ user Andy Sweet.

“How fearful are the NSA that they’re resorting to releasing  propaganda on YouTube. I’m sure all of the upvotes are bots or  shills,” wrote Kevin Willock in the comments section.

Other YouTubers also rounded into Alexander’s claims that the NSA  is indispensable in the fight against terrorism and to ensure  national security.

“So you believe Angela Merkel is an insurgent and a dangerous  terrorist, Keith?” chided one YouTube user, referring the  reports the NSA tapped German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s personal  phone.

Read More:

Phone companies might have to store snoop data instead of NSA, Obama says


PUBLISHED : Sunday, 22 December, 2013, 5:49am
UPDATED : Sunday, 22 December, 2013, 5:49am

The Washington Post



  • a6914e4eb1131c5c5b81d397c190dca9.jpg       
US President Barack Obama winds up a press conference on possible NSA reforms. Photo: AFP

US President Barack Obama signalled that he might halt the National Security Agency’s collection and storage of millions of Americans’ phone records and instead require phone companies to hold the data.

Speaking at a White House news conference, Obama said he would have a “pretty definitive statement” on proposed NSA reforms next month. Continue reading “Phone companies might have to store snoop data instead of NSA, Obama says”

Major computer security firm RSA took $10 mln from NSA to weaken encryption – report


 Published time: December 20, 2013 23:48                                                                                                     

RSA SecureID electronic keys (Reuters / Michael Caronna)

RSA SecureID electronic keys (Reuters / Michael Caronna)


The National Security Agency arranged a clandestine US$10 million contract with computer security power RSA that allowed the spy agency to embed encryption software it could use to infiltrate the company’s widely used products, Reuters reported. Continue reading “Major computer security firm RSA took $10 mln from NSA to weaken encryption – report”

How GCHQ Monitors Germany, Israel and the EU

– suspicion arising from the documents that their organization engages in large-scale industrial espionage

By Laura Poitras, Marcel Rosenbach and Holger Stark

Documents from the archive of whistleblower and former NSA worker Edward Snowden show that Britain’s GCHQ signals intelligence agency has targeted European, German and Israeli politicians for surveillance.

The American spy stayed in northern Cornwall for three weeks. He was delighted with the picturesque setting, with its dramatic cliffs and views of the Atlantic.

In a classified report, the NSA employee also raved about the British signals intelligence agency GCHQ‘s field of antennas, located high above the Atlantic coast, about 300 kilometers (190 miles) west of London. Her Majesty’s agents have been working at the site, where 29 satellite antennas are aimed skyward, for decades. The Cornwall intelligence base, once part of the Echelon global signals intelligence network, was previously known as “Morwenstow.” Today the site is known as “GCHQ Bude.”

In addition to its geographical conditions, which are ideal for monitoring important communications satellites, Bude has another site-specific advantage: Important undersea cables land at nearby Widemouth Bay. One of the cables, called TAT-14, begins at German telecommunications company Deutsche Telekom’s undersea cable terminal in the East Frisia region of northern Germany. Continue reading “How GCHQ Monitors Germany, Israel and the EU”

Merkel compares NSA to ‘Stasi police’ in heated exchange with Obama

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

In an angry exchange with Barack Obama, Angela Merkel has compared the snooping practices of the US with those of the Stasi, the ubiquitous and all-powerful secret police of the communist dictatorship in East Germany, where she grew up. Continue reading “Merkel compares NSA to ‘Stasi police’ in heated exchange with Obama”

Snowden latest: NSA stalks the human race using Google, ad cookies

Every single day, every word you say, every game you play, they’ll be watching you


Every single day, every word you say, every game you play, they’ll be watching you

By   Iain Thomson

Posted in Security,    12th December 2013 19:40 GMT

The already strained relationship between Google and the NSA has got a little bit worse, after claims in the latest Snowden leak that intelligence agencies are using the Chocolate Factory’s cookies to track targets.

Documents seen by the Washington Post show that the NSA and the British snoops at GCHQ have found a way to piggyback on a Google tracking cookie dubbed PREFID. This doesn’t contain personal data, but does contain an identifier unique to each browser, so by subverting the Google code a particular user can be easily identified in a large data dump.

You just don’t pick up PREFID cookies if you’re a Gmail or Google+ user, they’re included in everything from simple search requests to websites that have a link to Mountain View’s mapping of social networking system. As such, most internet users will have one somewhere.

Once a particular browser is identified, the Google cookies can then be used for “remote exploitation” the documents state, presumably anything from monitoring usage to complete pwnage. It can also be used for “on the ground survey options,” and used to brief the FBI for domestic action.

The latest trove from ex-NSA-contractor-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden also shows details of a location-tracking system implemented by the intelligence agencies (and presumably their Canadian, Australian and New Zealand counterparts) called HAPPYFOOT – say what you like about the coders, at least they have a gift for naming this stuff. That effort also uses advertising networks’ cookies to track the location of users.

HAPPYFOOT monitors location data sent back by mobile apps to provide localized content. GPS doesn’t need to be on for this kind of data – the phone user’s location can be triangulated pretty accurately based on cell tower and Wi-Fi locations, particularly in urban environments. As seen in last week’s FTC settlement, this location data doesn’t always need user approval to activate.

In both cases, intelligence agencies can use data from the Department of Defense’s National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, for target tracking. According to Snowden’s data the agency has an annual budget of $4.9bn to collect and analyze satellite and photo imagery from around the world.

“As we’ve said before, NSA, within its lawful mission to collect foreign intelligence to protect the United States, uses intelligence tools to understand the intent of foreign adversaries and prevent them from bringing harm to innocent Americans,” said the NSA in a statement.

Privacy experts have long been nervous about the ability of cookies to track internet users. While there are beneficial uses of cookies, besides being vital to the online advertising market, the ability to store arbitrary data in a browser is seen as a fundamental flaw in protecting privacy on the web.

It’s a measure of success that the “do not track” movement against cookies is now supported by almost all the major browser manufacturers and is often the default setting – something that is infuriating the advertising industry. It would seem, from these latest documents, that the NSA would like tracking to continue as well.

“These revelations make it ever clearer that we need to fight back against non-consensual tracking of web users, by deploying and adopting technology that allows users to block online tracking,” said privacy campaigners at the EFF in a statement.

“In the past we’ve been concerned about the profiles that web companies could build up about users without their knowledge or consent. Now we’ve seen that this tracking technology is also being hijacked for government surveillance of Internet users.” ®

Original URL:

Spy agencies infiltrate gaming world

Xbox Live among game services targeted by US and UK spy agencies

NSA and GCHQ collect gamers’ chats and deploy real-life agents into World of Warcraft and Second Life
Read the NSA document: Exploiting Terrorist Use of Games & Virtual Environments

James Ball

The Guardian,  Monday 9 December 2013 18.26 EST

World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft: the NSA described games communities as a ‘target-rich network’ where potential terrorists could ‘hide in plain sight’.

To the National Security Agency analyst writing a briefing to his superiors, the situation was clear:  their current surveillance efforts were lacking something. The agency’s impressive arsenal of cable taps and sophisticated hacking attacks was not enough. What it really needed was a horde of undercover Orcs.

That vision of spycraft sparked a concerted drive by the NSA and its UK sister agency GCHQ to infiltrate the massive communities playing online games, according to  secret documents disclosed by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The files were obtained by the Guardian and are being published on Monday in partnership with the New York Times and ProPublica.

Continue reading “Spy agencies infiltrate gaming world”

US Agency new logo…. an Evil Octopus



Friday, 06 December 2013

Billions of dollars annually are being used to fund operations conducted by the United States intelligence community, the likes of which allow the government to eavesdrop on emails, listen to world leaders’ phone calls and about everything in-between.

One thing that budget hasn’t bought, however, is subtlety. The US National Reconnaissance Office launched a top-secret surveillance satellite into space Thursday evening, and the official emblem for the spy agency’s latest mission is, well, certainly accurate, to say the least.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence live-tweeted Thursday’s launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, and throughout the course of the ordeal made no effort to ignore the logo for the NROL-39 mission.

Continue reading “US Agency new logo…. an Evil Octopus”

British intelligence agents in Russia instructed to find Snowden – Canadian NGO

British intelligence agents in Russia instructed to find Snowden – Canadian NGO

© Photo: Voice of Russia

The British intelligence MI-6 station in Moscow was given the task to locate a former CIA agent Edward Snowden who was granted temporary political asylum in Russia, states Center for the Study of Globalization, a Canadian non-governmental organization based in Montreal.

“The British authorities are aiming to find Snowden and, if possible, to ship him to the UK or the US,” says the Canadian NGO website without referring to any sources.

Continue reading “British intelligence agents in Russia instructed to find Snowden – Canadian NGO”

NSA collects data revealing location of five billion mobile phones every day

The records allow US intelligence agents to establish not just the movements of individuals but to monitor who else they communicate with

Lewis Smith

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Almost five billion records revealing the location of mobile phones around the world are collected by the US National Security Agency every day.

Data collected by the NSA provides the US with the ability to pinpoint hundreds of millions of phones and their users daily, it was reported.

Continue reading “NSA collects data revealing location of five billion mobile phones every day”

Revealed: Australian spy agency offered to share data about ordinary citizens

• Secret 5-Eyes document shows surveillance partners discussing what information they can pool about their citizens
• DSD indicated it could provide material without some privacy restraints imposed by other countries such as Canada
• Medical, legal or religious information ‘not automatically limited’
• Concern that intelligence agency could be ‘operating outside its legal mandate’


, and,              Sunday 1 December 2013 19.20 EST

Man typing on a computer keyboard
The secret document shows the partners discussing whether or not to share citizens’ “medical, legal or religious information”. Photograph: Kacper Pempel/Reuters

Australia’s surveillance agency offered to share information collected about ordinary Australian citizens with its major intelligence partners, according to a secret 2008 document leaked by the US whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The document shows the partners discussing whether or not to share “medical, legal or religious information”, and increases concern that the agency could be operating outside its legal mandate, according to the human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson QC.

The Australian intelligence agency, then known as the Defence Signals Directorate (DSD), indicated it could share bulk material without some of the privacy restraints imposed by other countries, such as Canada.

“DSD can share bulk, unselected, unminimised metadata as long as there is no intent to target an Australian national,” notes from an intelligence conference say. “Unintentional collection is not viewed as a significant issue.”

The agency acknowledged that more substantial interrogation of the material would, however, require a warrant.

paragraph 4
paragraph 5
Continue reading “Revealed: Australian spy agency offered to share data about ordinary citizens”

US and UK struck secret deal to allow NSA to ‘unmask’ Britons’ personal data

• 2007 deal allows NSA to store previously restricted material • UK citizens not suspected of wrongdoing caught up in dragnet • Separate draft memo proposes US spying on ‘Five-Eyes’ allies

James Ball,              Wednesday 20 November 2013 14.00 EST                


The memo explains that the US and UK ‘worked together to come up with a new policy that expands the use of incidentally collected unminimized UK data.’

The phone, internet and email records of UK citizens not suspected of any wrongdoing have been analysed and stored by America’s National Security Agency under a secret deal that was approved by British intelligence officials, according to documents from the whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Continue reading “US and UK struck secret deal to allow NSA to ‘unmask’ Britons’ personal data”

Germany warns US facilities could be targeted in wake of NSA leaks

Published time: November 12, 2013 22:13                                                                             

The entrance to the US Airbase is pictured in Ramstein, southern German (AFP Photo / Daniel Roland) The entrance to the US Airbase is pictured in Ramstein, southern German (AFP Photo / Daniel Roland)

Officials in Germany have cautioned authorities to prepare for possible attacks against United States facilities overseas as revelations continue to emerge about America’s secretive National Security Agency.

As leaked classified documents continue to disclose the covert  operations of the NSA, a domestic intelligence warning obtained  by Germany’s Der Spiegel suggests the revelations made possible  by former contractor Edward Snowden’s leaked files are inspiring  potentially violent protests.

Der Spiegel, an outlet which has worked closely with Snowden and  some of the leaked documents since earlier this year, announced  on Monday that it had received a domestic intelligence memo from  Germany’s Federal Office  for the Protection of the Constitution – the contents of which  cautioned officials that “an emotional response from certain  segments of the population cannot be ruled out.”

According to the magazine, the government office said that a   “potential threat” had emerged following the information  disclosed by the NSA leaks, adding that “security measures aimed at  protecting US facilities in Germany should be  increased.”

Anti-American sentiment has spread across the globe in recent  weeks as Snowden’s leaks continue to expose evidence of  questionable surveillance operations conducted by the NSA –   including recent revelations in which the agency was linked to  violating the privacy of German citizens and even the country’s  chancellor, Angela Merkel.

A poll published in the wake of those revelations by public  broadcaster ARD suggested that only 35 percent of German citizens  still see the US as a reliable partner. At the dawn of US  President Barack Obama’s first term as president, more than  three-quarters of Germans polled in a similar survey said they  trusted America.

Earlier this week, Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) called for the  head of the NSA to leave office. Snowden’s leaks have caused much  embarrassment in Washington since June, and former friends of the  US have demanded answers after being told through leaked  documents that they’ve been subjected to surveillance.

“The head of the NSA, the president of the United States, the  Congressional Intelligence Committees [and] all of these  contractors we pay that were responsible for performing the  background checks” should be considered for   “wholesale housecleaning,” McCain told Der Spiegel in an  interview published over the weekend.

Friends spy on friends. We all know that, but there  have been certain boundaries,” added McCain. “Those  boundaries were probably, to some degree, there because we didn’t  have the capabilities we have now. But when you go to the point  where you invade someone’s privacy…one of the most foremost  leaders in the world, Angela Merkel, then it was a  mistake.

According to Der Spiegel, the head of Germany’s Office for the  Protection of the Constitution demanded “urgent  clarification” with regards to the heightened security alert,  but had not received a reply from federal authorities as of  Tuesday.

Beijing to set up powerful national security body in face of mounting threats

Powerful agency expected to co-ordinate efforts of various government departments covering intelligence, the military and foreign affairs

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 November, 2013, 3:51am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 November, 2013, 10:46am

Teddy Ng and  Keith Zhai

  • beijing_police_net.jpg

Growing social and economic inequality and potential ethnic unrest in Tibet and Xinjiang are considered the main security threats. Photo: AFP

The country’s top leaders have decided to set up a national security committee to chart a coherent security strategy for China – an emerging superpower facing mounting challenges to stability at home and abroad.

The communiqué issued at the end of the Communist Party Central Committee’s four-day plenum said: “A national security committee will be established to perfect the national security system and national security strategy and safeguard national security.”

The Xinhua report on the communiqué gave no details.

Observers said the new agency would absorb representatives from the diplomatic, military, intelligence and commerce agencies, with a view to avoiding the implementation of policies becoming fragmented.

A source with knowledge of the matter said Wang Huning, a Politburo member and long-time policy adviser to top leaders, would be the committee’s executive deputy director.

Beijing has in recent years moved gradually from a low-key foreign policy approach to a more proactive one. The party leadership that took power under Xi Jinping last November is widely seen as being more assertive, especially in territorial disputes with maritime neighbours such as Japan and the Philippines.

Internally, public discontent over social and economic equality and potential ethnic unrest in Tibet and Xinjiang are considered the main security threats.

Until now the country has lacked a powerful agency to co-ordinate security strategies across various departments, such as those responsible for intelligence, the military, foreign affairs and police, even though the idea was floated more than 30 years ago. The establishment of such an agency has long been hindered by vested interests that stand to lose power in a reshuffle.

The concept was most seriously considered in 1997. In that year, then-president Jiang Zemin visited the US National Security Council, the US president’s principal conduit for security advice from intelligence, military and law enforcement officials and other advisers.

Jin Canrong, professor and deputy dean of Renmin University’s school of international studies, said the new national security committee appeared to be inspired by the US body. The NSC includes representatives from a wide spectrum of government agencies, including the Joint Chiefs of Staff and secretaries of state, defence, treasury and homeland security. The council reports directly to the president.

“This ensures that the diplomatic and security policies of the US will be more consistent with its long-term strategy and better co-ordinated,” Jin said. “The structure of China’s national security committee will be similar to that of the US NSC.”

Yue Gang, a Beijing-based military affairs commentator, said the existing mechanism was insufficient to handle heightened external risks stemming from territorial disputes and cybersecurity, especially after the spying allegations of former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.

“Some of the external security tasks are now handled by diplomatic agencies and their strength does not match the tasks’ requirements,” Yue said. “Some issues have to be handled with the participation of other parties, such as the military.”

But dissidents fear more domestic crackdowns under the committee, comparing it to the Soviet Union’s KGB.

“All security committees of communist regimes have a bad reputation,” activist Hu Jia said. “It is another step taken by the party to consolidate its power.”


GCHQ spoofed LinkedIn site to target global mobile traffic exchange and OPEC – report

Published time: November 11, 2013 00:23    Edited time: November 11, 2013 01:05                                                                            

Satellite dishes are seen at GCHQ's outpost at Bude, close to where trans-Atlantic fibre-optic cables come ashore in Cornwall, southwest England (Reuters/Kieran Doherty)Satellite dishes are seen at GCHQ’s outpost at Bude, close to where trans-Atlantic fibre-optic cables come ashore in Cornwall, southwest England (Reuters/Kieran Doherty)

The UK’s electronic spying agency has been using spoof version of LinkedIn professional social network’s website to target global roaming data exchange companies as well as top management employees in the OPEC oil cartel, according to Der Spiegel report.

The Government Communications Headquarters has implemented a  technique known as Quantum Insert, placing its servers in  strategic spots where they could intercept and redirect target  traffic to a fake website faster than the legitimate service  could respond.

A similar technique was used earlier this year to inject malware  into the systems of BICS, a subsidiary of Belgian state-owned  telecommunications company Belgacom, which is another major GRX  provider.

In the Belgacom scandal first it was unclear where the attacks were coming from. Then  documents from Snowden’s collection revealed that the surveillance attack probably  emanated from the British GCHQ – and that British intelligence  had palmed off spyware on several Belgacom employees.

      The Global Roaming Exchange (GRX) is a service which allows      mobile data providers to exchange roaming traffic of their      user with other providers. There are only a few dozen      companies providing such services globally.

Now it turns out the GCHQ was also targeting networking,  maintenance and security personnel of another two companies,  Comfone and Mach, according to new leaks published in the German  magazine by Laura Poitras, one of few journalists believed to have  access to all documents stolen by Snowden from the NSA.

Through Quantum Insert method, GCHQ has managed to infiltrate the  systems of targeted Mach employees and successfully procured  detailed knowledge of the company’s communications  infrastructure, business, and personal information of several  important figures.

A spokesman for ‘Starhome Mach’, a Mach-successor company, said  it would launch “a comprehensive safety inspection with  immediate effect.”


LinkedIn headquarters in Mountain View, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images/AFP) LinkedIn headquarters in Mountain View, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images/AFP)


The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries was yet another  target of the Quantum Insert attack, according to the report.  According to a leaked document, it was in 2010 that GCHQ managed  to infiltrate the computers of nine OPEC employees. The spying  agency reportedly succeeded in penetrating the operating space of  the OPEC Secretary-General and also managed to spy the on Saudi  Arabian OPEC governor, the report suggests.

LinkedIn is currently the largest network for creating and  maintaining business contacts. According to its own data the  company has nearly 260 million registered users in more than 200  countries. When contacted by The Independent, a LinkedIn  spokesman said that the company was “never told about this  alleged activity” and it would “never approve of it,  irrespective of what purpose it was used for.”

According to a cryptographer and security expert Bruce Schneier,  Quantum Insert attacks are hard for anyone except the NSA to execute,  because for that one would need to “to have a privileged  position on the Internet backbone.”

The latest details of GCHQ’s partnership with the NSA were  revealed just last week, after the reports emerged that GCHQ was  feeding the NSA with the internal information intercepted from Google and Yahoo’s private  networks.

The UK intelligence leaders have recently been questioned by British lawmakers about their  agencies’ close ties and cooperation with the NSA.

The head of GCHQ, Sir Ian Lobban, lashed out at the global media for the coverage of  Edward Snowden’s leaks, claiming it has made it “far  harder” for years to come to search for “needles and  fragments of needles” in “an enormous hay field” of  the Internet.

However, the intelligence chiefs failed to address public fears  that Britain’s intelligence agencies are unaccountable and are  operating outside the law.


Britain ‘snooped’ on Icelandic officials’ emails to recover cash from broken banks

 Published time: November 10, 2013 12:06                                                                             

AFP Photo / Nicholas KammAFP Photo / Nicholas Kamm


An Icelandic MP says Britain spied on Iceland while wrestling to rescue its citizens’ cash from collapsed Icelandic banks after the financial crisis. Birgitta Jónsdóttir claims she received a tip-off from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Jónsdóttir, who represents Iceland’s Pirate Party, maintains that the UK’s intelligence agencies systematically intercepted messages sent by Icelandic negotiators when Britain tried to recover savers’ cash held in the country’s banks that went bankrupt.

Jónsdóttir, a prominent WikiLeaks supporter, said that she was tipped off to the spying in 2010 by Assange, Iceland’s Visir newspaper reported.

Having received the tip-off, she warned members of Iceland’s negotiating team not to send emails to each other.

“The UK authorities had very good access to everything that was going on between members of the team. It is the role of intelligence, for example MI5, to spy on other countries, especially if it concerns their national interests. Their duty was to gather information and intelligence about us, and the duty of the Icelandic government was to do everything to protect us against such espionage,” Jónsdóttir told the newspaper.

The revelation could reignite tensions between the UK and Iceland, which were stoked in 2008 when the UK government used anti-terrorism legislation to freeze an Icelandic bank’s assets in the UK. The British Chancellor of the Exchequer at the time, Alastair Darling, seized the funds of Landsbanki’s Internet bank, Icesave, to protect UK depositors’ money after the Icelandic government reacted to Landsbanki’s toxic debts by nationalizing the bank.

Last week, Britain got involved in another major spy scandal when it was reported that the UK has been allegedly using its Berlin embassy to spy on the nearby Bundestag, as well as the office of Chancellor Angela Merkel.

A new report also revealed that British intelligence agency GCHQ allegedly helped its counterparts in France, Germany, Spain and Sweden develop methods of mass surveillance of internet and phone traffic in the last five years.

Documents supplied by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden to the Guardian newspaper show the UK Government Communications Headquarters’ enormous influence throughout Europe. GCHQ is part of the ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence-sharing partnership between the US, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The documents detail how the agency developed and promoted spying processes, built relationships with telecommunication companies and evaded national laws that restrict the surveillance powers of intelligence agencies.

Earlier reports revealed by Snowden showed that the US has been monitoring the communications of up to 35 world leaders, including Merkel and Brazilian President. Communications of hundreds of millions of people across the world were also monitored, the leaked documents revealed, including British, French, Spanish and American citizens.

Terrorists and Criminals may now exploit all the vunerabilities the NSA and GCHQ had built into our systems


Berners-Lee: ‘Appalling and foolish’ NSA spying HELPS CRIMINALS

Crooks rush in where spies boldly tread, says internet godhead

By Jasper Hamill

Posted in Security,  7th November 2013 14:58 GMT

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, granddaddy of the internet, has attacked the NSA and GCHQ for their “appalling and foolish” cracking of online encryption.

He warned that spooks’ attempts to break encryption standards played into the hands of cyber-criminals and rival states, saying spies were “naive” to think their own techniques would not be used against them.

“It’s naïve to imagine that if you introduce a weakness into a system you will be the only one to use it,” said Berners-Lee, adding: “I’m very sympathetic to attempts to increase security against organised crime, but you have to distinguish yourself from the criminal.”

In an interview with the Guardian, the father of the internet called for a “full and frank public debate” on digital surveillance.

His comments came ahead of an unprecedented inquiry into surveillance, which will see chief spooks grilled in full public view this afternoon.

“Whistleblowers, and responsible media outlets that work with them, play an important role in society,” Sir Tim said. “We need powerful agencies to combat criminal activity online – but any powerful agency needs checks and balances and, based on recent revelations, it seems the current system of checks and balances has failed.”

The coverage of the Edward Snowden leaks “has been in the public interest and has uncovered many important issues which now need a full and frank public debate”, he continued.

The heads of MI6, MI5 and GCHQ will be interview on live TV today for the first time. Starting at 2pm, Sir John Sawers, MI6 chief, Sir Iain Lobban, director of GCHQ, and Andrew Parker, director general of MI5, will appear in front of Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC).

According to a statement on the ISC website, a slight delay (reportedly of two minutes) would be used on the video feed, just in case the spooks let something controversial slip out.

“The session will give an insight into the world of intelligence and the work the agencies do on behalf of the UK,” the ISC said. “It represents a very significant step forward in terms of the openness and transparency of the agencies. The Committee will question the agency heads on the work of the agencies, their current priorities and the threats to the UK. Among other things it will cover the terrorist threat, regional instability and weapons proliferation, cyber security and espionage.”

“However,” continued the ISC, “since this is a public session, it will not cover details of intelligence capabilities or techniques, ongoing operations or sub judice matters.”

Edward Snowden sparked the surveillance scandal after revealing the existence of an NSA spying scheme called PRISM and a comparable British one called TEMPORA, operated by GCHQ.

A group of 28 Tory MPs have written to the Guardian to protest against its continued publication of Snowden’s revelations. The letter said publishing the secret material “runs the risk of compromising the vital work of the institutions, processes and people who protect the safety of this country”. ®

Original URL:


How ‘high-level U.S. government agency’ fell for fake femme fatale created by two hackers

By  James Nye

PUBLISHED: 00:44 EST, 4  November 2013 |  UPDATED: 08:03 EST, 4 November 2013

Two hackers staged a successful cyber-attack  on an unidentified U.S. government agency simply by setting up fake LinkedIn and  Facebook accounts posing as an attractive and smart young lady.

Creating social media profiles for a pretty  28-year-old girl named Emily Williams, the two online security experts even  managed to con government employees out of a laptop and their highly classified  network credentials.

The researchers even managed to persuade  staff at the agency, which is known for its cyberspace defenses, to click on a  corrupted e-card that obtained passwords, sensitive documents which according to  the hackers included information on state-sponsored attacks and individual  country leaders.

Duped: This photograph of Emily Williams is blurred to protect the identity of the real woman who worked in a restaurant near to the U.S. government agency who was instrumental to convincing staff to reveal classified information
Duped: This photograph of Emily Williams is blurred to  protect the identity of the real woman who worked in a restaurant near to the  U.S. government agency who was instrumental to convincing staff to reveal  classified information

The pre-Edward Snowden attack was officially  sanctioned as a test within the U.S. and security experts and carried out by  Texan firm, World Wide Technology employees Aamir Lakhani and Joseph Muniz last  year.

Explaining their findings to an audience at a  tech-conference  RSA Europe 2013 on Wednesday, October 30, Lakhani said of  the compromised e-card clicker, ‘This guy had access to everything. He had the  crown jewels in the system.’

Lakhani who works as a solutions architect at  World Wide Technology refused to reveal which agency was infiltrated but said  that the attack began last year and was conducted against a firm which  specializes in cybersecurity  and protecting national secrets.

The test began with the creation of  28-year-old Emily Williams, a fictitious MIT graduate with 10-years IT  experience, complete with a fully functional fake social media  profile.

For this Lakhani sought and gained the  permission of a local waitress who worked as a waitress at a Hooters near to the  targeted agency’s officers – however, no one during the three month test seemed  to recognize her according to ZDnet.

Bolstering her fake profile, the team created  fake profiles on other websites and forums, posting on MIT using her  name.

Convincing: This exchange shows how 'Emily Williams' made some employees of the unidentified government agency believe they were talking with an old friend
Convincing: This exchange shows how ‘Emily Williams’  made some employees of the unidentified government agency believe they were  talking with an old friend

Launching the profile of Emily Williams,  Lakhani discovered that within the first 15 hours, Williams had made 60 Facebook  connections and 55 LinkedIn connections with employees from the targeted agency  and its sub-contractors.

Incredibly she had three jobs offers from  three companies within 24 hours of her online presence being  launched.

The experiment was created to exploit a  fundamental problem with online security – mainly that people are trusting and  also attractive women experience preferential treatment in the male-dominated IT  industry.

This was born out through the fact that a  similar test using a fake male persona made zero connections.

Infiltrator: Aamir Lakhani, who works for Texas based firm World Wide Technology demonstrated how easily men in the technology world are duped by a pretty woman
Infiltrator: Aamir Lakhani, who works for Texas based  firm World Wide Technology demonstrated how easily men in the technology world  are duped by a pretty woman

More worrying for governmental online  security is the fact that Lakhani revealed that the team had achieved their  objective of infiltrating the agency within one week, but carried on for a  further 90 days.

Lakhani and Muniz carefully curated the fake  identity of Williams netting hundreds of connections.

When one slightly suspicious man asked  ‘Emily’ how they knew him, the researchers replied with information they got  from his own profile – prompting the man to reply that he did remember  her.

Once she had made connections in the agency’s  Human Resources, IT Support and with executives, Lakhani and Muniz simply  updated her profile to just-hired.

And then for the hacker’s biggest deception  that seriously compromised security.

Sending seasonal cards to specific Facebook  friends of ‘Emily’s’, the hackers waited for the recipients to click, accessing  their computers most classified details through progreams such as Browser  Exploitation Framework (BeFF).

Their deception went further: ‘Once we hooked  the target, we would look for passwords and insider information to gain access  to the target agency,’ said Lakhani.

‘We launched three campaigns targeting  systems during Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years.

‘We were able to figure out domain  credentials to create an inside email address for Emily Williams, VPN passwords  to gain internal access and other methods to compromise our  target.’

Lakhani and Muniz may have angered some  government employees, but the pair enjoyed such success they now have requests  from other companies and organizations to try the same test.

In the RSA talk last week Lakhani said, ‘So  we also did the same type of penetration test for very large financial  institutions like banks and credit card companies, healthcare organizations and  other firms, and the results were almost exactly the same.

‘Every time we include social engineering in  our penetration tests we have a hundred percent success  rate.’

Read more: Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Mass spy programmes threaten freedom of expression: Snowden

03   Nov   2013
Berlin (AFP)

US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden says mass secret service surveillance poses a threat to freedom of expression and open society, in a text published in a German news magazine Sunday.

Snowden, who faces criminal charges in the US for leaking top-secret documents about the US National Security Agency’s (NSA) activities, said systematic snooping was a global problem that needed global solutions.

“Such programmes are not only a threat to privacy, they threaten also freedom of expression and open societies,” he wrote in the text which appeared in German in Der Spiegel magazine.

“The existence of espionage technology must not determine politics,” he said, adding there was a moral duty to see that laws and values limit surveillance programmes and protect human rights.

Entitled “A manifesto for the truth”, the news weekly said the former NSA contractor wrote the piece on November 1 in Moscow and it was sent to Spiegel’s offices via an encrypted channel.

Media reports based on Snowden’s disclosures of widespread US surveillance — including eavesdropping on nearly three dozen foreign leaders — have strained Washington’s ties with key allies.

“Anyone pronouncing the truth is committing no crime,” Snowden wrote.

He also said that initially some governments who, he said, had felt “unmasked” by the spying revelations had initiated “an unprecedented persecution campaign” in a bid to quash debate.

But, he said, debate was now taking place worldwide.

German lawmaker Hans-Christian Stroebele, of the opposition Green party, met Snowden at a secret location in Moscow Thursday after leaked classified documents indicated that the NSA had tapped the phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel for several years.

Stroebele told reporters in Berlin Friday that Snowden was willing to speak to the German authorities about the NSA’s activities.


Snowden document reveals key role of companies in NSA data collection

ScreenHunter_97 Nov. 02 10.15

NSA leverages relationships with commercial partners to collect vast quantities of data from fibre-optic cables, file shows

Tapping fibre-optic cables – see the NSA slide

NSA HQ at Fort Meade, Maryland

Yahoo, Microsoft and Google deny they co-operate voluntarily with the intelligence agencies. Photograph: Paul J Richards/AFP

The key role private companies play in National Security Agency surveillance programs is detailed in a top-secret document provided to the Guardian by whistleblower Edward Snowden and published for the first time on Friday.

One slide in the undated PowerPoint presentation, published as part of the Guardian’s NSA Files: Decoded project, illustrates the number of intelligence reports being generated from data collected from the companies.

In the five weeks from June 5 2010, the period covered by the document, data from Yahoo generated by far the most reports, followed by Microsoft and then Google.

Between them, the three companies accounted for more than 2,000 reports in that period – all but a tiny fraction of the total produced under one of the NSA‘s main foreign intelligence authorities, the Fisa Amendents Act (FAA).

It is unclear how the information in the NSA slide relates to the companies’ own transparency reports, which document the number of requests for information received from authorities around the world.

Yahoo, Microsoft and Google deny they co-operate voluntarily with the intelligence agencies, and say they hand over data only after being forced to do so when served with warrants. The NSA told the Guardian that the companies’ co-operation was “legally compelled”.

But this week the Washington Post reported that the NSA and its UK equivalent GCHQ has been secretly intercepting the main communication links carrying Google and Yahoo users’ data around the world, and could collect information “at will” from among hundreds of millions of user accounts.

The NSA’s ability to collect vast quantities of data from the fibre-optic cables relies on relationships with the companies, the document published on Friday shows.

The presentation, titled “Corporate Partner Access” was prepared by the agency’s Special Source Operations division, which is responsible for running those programs.

In an opening section that deals primarily with the telecom companies, the SSO baldly sets out its mission: “Leverage unique key corporate partnerships to gain access to high-capacity international fiber-optic cables, switches and/or routes throughout the world.”

The NSA is helped by the fact that much of the world’s communications traffic passes through the US or its close ally the UK – what the agencies refer to as “home-field advantage”.

The new revelations come at a time of increasing strain in relations between the intelligence community and the private sector. Google and Yahoo reacted angrily on Wednesday to the Washington Post’s report on the interception of their data.

The Guardian approached all three companies for comment on the latest document.

“This points out once again the need for greater transparency,” a Google spokesman said.

He referred to a letter the company and other Silicon Valley giants sent to the Senate judiciary committee on Thursday. “The volume and complexity of the information that has been disclosed in recent months has created significant confusion here and around the world, making it more difficult to identify appropriate policy prescriptions,” the letter said.

A Microsoft spokesperson said: “We are deeply disturbed by these allegations, and if true they represent a significant breach of trust by the US and UK governments. It is clear that there need to be serious reforms to better protect customer privacy.”

Yahoo had not responded by the time of publication.

The companies are also fighting through the courts to be allowed to release more detailed figures for the number of data requests they handle from US intelligence agencies. Along with AOL, Apple and Facebook, they wrote to the Senate judiciary committee this week calling for greater transparency and “substantial” reform of the NSA.

Google, the first to publish a transparency report, has reported US authorities’ requests for user data increased by 85% between 2010 and 2012 (from 8,888 in 2010 to 16,407 in 2012). But the vast majority of those are requests from local law enforcement looking for information about potential drug traffickers, fraudsters and other domestic criminal activity.

Legally compelled NSA request relating to foreign terrorist targets, which none of the firms are allowed to disclose, are thought to represent a tiny fraction of the overall figure.

While the internet companies are listed by name in the NSA document, the telecoms companies are hidden behind covernames.

The names of these “corporate partners” are so sensitive that they are classified as “ECI” – Exceptionally Controlled Information – a higher classification level than the Snowden documents cover. Artifice, Lithium and Serenade are listed in other documents as covernames for SSO corporate partners, while Steelknight is described as an NSA partner facility.

In a statement defending its surveillance programs, the NSA said: “What NSA does is collect the communications of targets of foreign intelligence value, irrespective of the provider that carries them. US service provider communications make use of the same information superhighways as a variety of other commercial service providers.

“NSA must understand and take that into account in order to eliminate information that is not related to foreign intelligence.

“NSA works with a number of partners and allies in meeting its foreign-intelligence mission goals, and in every case those operations comply with US law and with the applicable laws under which those partners and allies operate.”

UPDATE: Microsoft issued a further statement after publication of the Guardian’s story. A spokesperson said: “Microsoft only discloses customer data when served with valid legal orders and in June we published a complete view of the volume of orders we received from the US government.

“But it is clear that much more transparency is needed to help the companies and their customers understand these issues.”

NSA ‘broke into Yahoo and Google data centers to obtain millions of records every day’… and leaked doodle shows how spy agency did it with a smiley face

  • The Washington Post cites documents  leaked by Edward Snowden
  • In 30 days, the NSA gleaned 180 million  new records including text, audio and video – and who sent it to whom and when  they sent it
  • NSA: Claims that we collect data this way  are not true

By  Associated Press and Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED: 12:53 EST, 30  October 2013 |  UPDATED: 14:16 EST, 30 October 2013

The National Security Agency has secretly  broken into the Yahoo and Google data centers around the world to steal hundreds  of millions of records, it was reported today.

Every day, the NSA sends millions of records  from Yahoo and Google internal networks to data warehouses at the  agency’s Fort  Meade, Maryland headquarters, the Washington Post reported, citing documents  leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

The documents include a slide from an agency  presentation  entitled ‘Google Cloud Exploitation’, featuring a sketch showing  where  the ‘Public Internet’ meets the internal ‘Google Cloud’ of user data.

On the sketch, a note adds that encryption is  ‘added and remove here!’ and the artist then jots a smiley face – in what the  Post calls a ‘cheeky  celebration of victory over Google security’.

Leaked: In a slide from an NSA presentation, a sketch shows where the 'Public Internet' meets the 'Google Cloud' user data - with a smiley face to celebrate getting around the secure links 

Leaked: In a slide from an NSA presentation, a sketch  shows where the ‘Public Internet’ meets the ‘Google Cloud’ user data – with a  smiley face to celebrate getting around the secure links


‘Two engineers with close ties to Google  exploded in profanity when they saw the drawing,’ the Post reported.

In the 30 days after January 9, field  collectors processed and sent back more than 180 million new records – ranging  from ‘metadata’, which would indicate who sent or received emails and  when, to  content such as text, audio and video.

Both companies said they had not given the  NSA permission to do so and where not aware of the activity.

The NSA’s principal tool to exploit the data  links is a project called MUSCULAR, operated jointly with the agency’s British  counterpart, GCHQ.

The program uses an unnamed  telecommunications provider giving secret access to a cable for Google and  Yahoo to pass unencrypted traffic between their  servers.

the National Security Agency has secretly broken into the main communications links that connect Yahoo and Google data centers around the world 

Seized: The NSA has reportedly secretly broken into main  communications links that connect Yahoo and Google data centers around the  world. This photo shows a Google data center in Hamina, Finland

The Post said NSA and GCHQ are copying entire  data flows across fiber-optic cables that carry information between the data  centers of the Silicon Valley giants.

The NSA’s leader, Gen. Keith Alexander said  he was unaware of the report, adding that the NSA is not authorized to access  data centers and must go through a court process to obtain it.

‘The assertion that we collect vast  quantities of U.S. persons’ data from this type of collection is also not true,’  a spokeswoman added, Politico reported.

The report comes despite the companies saying  their servers are closely guarded and strictly audited. According to Google,  buildings housing its servers are guarded around-the-clock and secured with  heat-sensitive cameras and biometric verification.

In a statement to the Post, Google  said it  was ‘troubled by allegations of the government intercepting  traffic between our  data centers, and we are not aware of this  activity’.

At Yahoo a  spokeswoman added: ‘We have  strict controls in place to protect the  security of our data centers, and we  have not given access to our data  centers to the NSA or to any other government  agency.’

White House officials and the Office of  the  Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the NSA, declined  to comment,  the Post said.

Revelations: The information was obtained by former NSA contractor, Edward Snowden 

Revelations: The information was obtained by former NSA  contractor, Edward Snowden

The NSA already collects data from Google,  Yahoo and other technology  companies under another program known as PRISM –  details of which were  revealed by Snowden earlier this year.

The program legally compels the companies to  provide the agency with information that matches court-approved search  terms.

The collection of data by MUSCULAR would be  illegal in the U.S., but the operations take place overseas, where the NSA can  presume anyone using a foreign data link is a foreigner, the Post  said.

Read more: Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Spain colluded in NSA spying on its citizens, Spanish newspaper reports

El Mundo says it has document detailing collaboration between US intelligence agency and foreign countries

 Paul Hamilos in Madrid,              Wednesday 30 October 2013 07.41 EDT

Protesting in Spain against NSA spying
A man protests against NSA spying outside the foreign ministry in Madrid. Photograph: Juan Medina/Reuters

The widespread surveillance of Spanish citizens by the US National Security Agency, which caused outrage when it was reported this week, was the product of a collaboration with Spain‘s intelligence services, according to one Spanish newspaper.

In the latest revelations to emerge from the documents leaked by the US whistleblower Edward Snowden, Spanish agents not only knew about the work of the NSA but also facilitated it, El Mundo reports.

An NSA document entitled “Sharing computer network operations cryptologic information with foreign partners” reportedly shows how the US relies on the collaboration of many countries to give it access to intelligence information, including electronic metadata.


According to the document seen by El Mundo, the US classifies cooperation with various countries on four different levels. In the first group – “Comprehensive Cooperation” – are the UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. The second group – “Focused Cooperation” – of which Spain is a member, includes 19 countries, all of them European, apart from Japan and South Korea. The third group – “Limited cooperation” – consists of countries such as France, Israel, India and Pakistan; while the fourth – “Exceptional Cooperation” – is made up of countries that the US considers to be hostile to its interests.

The reports come a day after the director of the NSA, General Keith B Alexander, testified before the US house intelligence committee that suggestions the agency monitored millions of calls in Spain, France and Italy were “completely false” and that this data had been at least partially collected by the intelligence services of those countries and then passed on to the NSA.

According to El Mundo the NSA documents explain the “specific guidance for evaluating and initiating Computer Network Operations (CNO) cryptologic cooperation with other countries, generally within existing foreign cryptologic relationships”. It outlines these telephonic and electronic surveillance operations, indicating that the results would be shared with allied countries. In short, this suggests the Spanish intelligence services were working hand in hand with the NSA, as were other foreign agencies. But if there was any doubt as to who held the upper hand, the NSA documents make clear that any collaboration was always to serve the needs of protecting American interests.

On Monday, El Mundo reported that the NSA had intercepted 60.5m phone calls in Spain over one month alone.

Alexander said foreign intelligence services collected phone records in war zones and other areas outside their borders and passed these on to the NSA. He said this arrangement had been misunderstood by French and Spanish newspapers, which reported that the NSA was spying in their countries.

But this explanation has not allayed European or domestic US concerns about the exact nature of NSA surveillance in allied countries.

The suggestion that the Spanish intelligence agency was working with the NSA will confirm the suspicions of many in Spain who believe that the government has not only failed to protect its own citizens’ privacy, but was actively supportive of US surveillance inside the country.

Although there are strong privacy laws in Spain, and judicial oversight is required before a phone can be tapped, there are concerns that these laws are applied less than rigorously.

The US has offices for the CIA and the NSA in Madrid.

On Monday, Amnesty International called on the Spanish government to “reflect on its total failure to protect its own citizens’ privacy”.

The prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, announced on Wednesday that the director of the Spanish national intelligence centre (CNI), Félix Sanz Roldán, would be called to appear before the official secrets committee to explain the activities of the NSA and the CNI. Unlike in the US, however, this meeting will be held behind closed doors.

The latest document, published by El Mundo on Wednesday, shows the NSA to be watchful of any information gathered by countries outside the top tier of allies, which together with the US are known as the “five eyes”.

According to the Spanish newspaper’s report, the NSA says any co-operation with countries outside this group is to be carefully evaluated, and they should be reliable allies,  capable of protecting any US classified information.

A further document seen by El Mundo reportedly explains how that cooperation between the NSA and foreign intelligence agencies increases the number of foreign-language speakers available to it, so as better to understand any communications they uncovered.

Not every line in the document is hard intelligence work, though. At one point, an NSA agent apparently writes that the Spanish agents were exceptionally helpful when they collaborated, not just at work, but also in their downtime. In Madrid, lunch apparently always took place at 2pm; the US agents were given an enjoyable bus tour of the sights of Madrid; and one dinner was accompanied by opera singers. The only disappointment came during one trip to Spain, when it rained all the time, despite the Spanish agents having promised unlimited sunshine.


Spain and France’s intelligence agencies carried out collection of phone records and shared them with NSA, agency says

NSA spy row: France and Spain ‘shared phone data’ with US

Raf Sanchez

By , Peter Foster in Washington

8:35PM GMT 29 Oct 2013

European intelligence agencies and not American spies were responsible for the   mass collection of phone records which sparked outrage in France and Spain,   the US has claimed.

General Keith Alexander, the head of the National Security Agency, said   reports that the US   had collected millions of Spanish and French phone records were “absolutely   false”.

“To be perfectly clear, this is not information that we collected on   European citizens,” Gen Alexander said when asked about the reports,   which were based on classified documents leaked by Edward Snowden, the   former NSA contractor.

Shortly before the NSA chief appeared before a Congressional committee, US   officials briefed the   Wall Street Journal that in fact Spain and France’s own intelligence   agencies had carried out the surveillance and then shared their findings   with the NSA.

The anonymous officials claimed that the monitored calls were not even made   within Spanish and French borders and could be surveillance carried on   outside of Europe.

In an aggressive rebuttal of the reports in the French paper Le Monde and the   Spanish El Mundo, Gen Alexander said “they and the person who stole the   classified data [Mr Snowden] do not understand what they were looking at”   when they published slides from an NSA document.

The US push back came as President Barack Obama was said to be on the verge of   ordering a halt to spying on the heads of allied governments.

The White House said it was looking at all US spy activities in the wake of   leaks by Mr Snowden but was putting a “special emphasis on whether we   have the appropriate posture when it comes to heads of state”.

Mr Obama was reported to have already halted eavesdropping at UN’s   headquarters in New York.

German officials said that while the White House’s public statements had   become more conciliatory there remained deep wariness and that little   progress had been made behind closed doors in formalising an American   commitment to curb spying.

“An agreement that you feel might be broken at any time is not worth very   much,” one diplomat told The Telegraph.

“We need to re-establish trust and then come to some kind of   understanding comparable to the [no spy agreement] the US has with other   English speaking countries.”

Despite the relatively close US-German relations, the White House is reluctant   to be drawn into any formal agreement and especially resistant to demands   that a no-spy deal be expanded to cover all 28 EU member states.

Viviane Reding, vice-president of the European Commission and EU justice   commissioner, warned that the spying row could spill over and damage talks   on a free-trade agreement between the EU and US.

“Friends and partners do not spy on each other,” she said in a   speech in Washington. “For ambitious and complex negotiations to   succeed there needs to be trust among the negotiating partners. It is urgent   and essential that our US partners take clear action to rebuild trust.”

A spokesman for the US trade negotiators said it would be “unfortunate to   let these issues – however important – distract us” from   reaching a deal vital to freeing up transatlantic trade worth $3.3 billion   dollars (£2bn) a day.

James Clapper, America’s top national intelligence, told a Congressional   hearing yesterday the US does not “spy indiscriminately on the citizens   of any country”.

“We do not spy on anyone except for valid foreign intelligence purposes,   and we only work within the law,” Mr Clapper said. “To be sure on   occasions we’ve made mistakes, some quite significant, but these are usually   caused by human error or technical problems.”

Pressure from European leaders was added to as some of the US intelligence   community’s key Congressional allies balked at the scale of surveillance on   friendly governments.

Dianne Feinstein, the chair of powerful Senate intelligence committee, said   she was “totally opposed” to tapping allied leaders and called for a   wide-ranging Senate review of the activities of US spy agencies.

“I do not believe the United States should be collecting phone calls or emails   of friendly presidents and prime ministers,” she said.

John Boehner, the Republican speaker of the house and a traditional hawk on   national security, said US spy policy was “imbalanced” and backed calls for   a review.

Mr Boehner has previously been a staunch advocate of the NSA and faced down a   July rebellion by libertarian Republicans who tried to pass a law   significantly curbing the agency’s power.

Phone chargers given to world leaders by G20 Russian hosts ‘were able to capture data for the Kremlin’

  • The revelation came after Germany’s  secret service investigated the devices
  • It warned that they were ‘trojan horses’  capable of fishing for information
  • Warnings have gone out to every  government that received them

By  Hannah Roberts In Rome

PUBLISHED: 08:53 EST, 29  October 2013 |  UPDATED: 09:53 EST, 29 October 2013

America’s NSA spy agency has been under fire  from around the world for its surveillance activity over the past few  months.

Now the Russians are facing criticism for  some allegedly shady operations, too.

It’s claimed that USB drives and phone  chargers, given to world leaders at the G20 summit in Russia were ‘Trojan  horses’ capable of sending data back to the Kremlin.

Vladimir Putin welcomes David Cameron for the G20 summit - but were phone charger gifts at the event actually spying devices? 

Vladimir Putin welcomes David Cameron for the G20 summit  – but were phone charger gifts at the event actually spying devices?


David Cameron did not receive one of the USB  sticks, Downing Street insisted.

But No 10 did not rule out the possibility  that officials were given one of the pen drives that is said to have contained a  Trojan horse programme allowing sensitive documents stored on laptops to be  accessed.

German secret services reportedly discovered  that the gadgets, given out to all delegates at the meeting of world leaders in  St Petersburg last month, were able to retrieve data for use by the  Russians.

Warnings are said to have gone out to all  participating governments, urging them to ‘take every possible  precaution’.

The sensational allegations were made by the  Italian newspapers La Stampa and Corriere della Sera, quoting EU diplomatic  sources.

The alarm was apparently first raised by EU  President Herman Van Rompuy, who was suspicious of the Russians’  gifts.

Within a few days of his return from the  conference, President Van Rompuy asked security officials in Brussels to check  out the contraptions. They then decided to call in the help of Germans, who  confirmed their fears, the sources told Italian media.

The immediate response from technicians in  Bonn sent shockwaves throughout diplomatic and security services of half the  world.

‘Early analysis showed the USB drive and  mobile phone charging cables gifted by the Russians to be Trojan horses-  instruments capable of capturing data from computers and mobile phones,’ sources  told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.

Controversial charges: It's claimed that the Russians gave world leaders devices that could read data 

Controversial charges: It’s claimed that the Russians  gave world leaders devices that could read data (stock image)


The attempted surveillance operation is one  of the simplest but most audacious exposed since the end of the Cold  War.

Official communication sent to intelligence  channels in all participating States explained that ‘the USB stick and power  cables are suitable for the illegal collection of data on computers and cell  phones.’, the newspaper reported.

‘We urge you to take every possible  precaution if these items have been used and if not to entrust them to the  security structures for further inspection.’

The G20 conference in September took place in  a climate of great diplomatic tension between Russia and the West.

Only weeks before, the Kremlin had granted  asylum to Datagate fugitive Edward Snowden, wanted for leaking security  information about US surveillance to the Guardian.

At the same time, the US and France were at  loggerheads with Russia over intervention in Syria.

The conference began on September 5 with  world leaders meeting at Stelna, outside St Petersburg in the Constantine  Palace. Security was impenetrable.

Presided over by Russian President Vladimir  Putin, G20 leaders in attendance included Barack Obama, Angela Merkel, Francois  Hollande, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Italian Prime Minister Enrico  Letta as well as the leaders of China, Argentina, Brazil and invited leaders  such as Mariano Rajoy of Spain.

All attendees, including delegation leaders  are believed to have received the gifts, although it is not known if they were  used before the warning went out.

Russia’s powerful spymasters have already  benefited from the global secrets pouring in from Western  whistleblowers.

Over the past five years, material such as  the Wikileaks cache including 250,000 leaked embassy cables and nearly 500,000  Pentagon documents, and now the Snowden leaks, have exposed techniques used to  keep the UK safe and put the lives of security services operatives and their  families at risk.

In 2011 Canadian naval officer Lt. Jeffery  Delisle was revealed to have sold Russian military agents some of the UK’s most  closely guarded defence and intelligence secrets.

Only a week ago Russia was forced to deny  claims that the head of a Russian government-run cultural exchange programme  tried to recruit young Americans as intelligence assets. An embassy official in  Washington said: ‘It’s a shame that echoes of the cold war are heard in  Russian-American relations from time to time.’

Who knows what: Senator Dianne Feinstein, who is the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has called for a review of all spying programs after world leaders found out they were subject to NSA protocols 

Who knows what: Senator Dianne Feinstein, who is the  chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has called for a review of all  spying programs after world leaders found out they were subject to NSA  protocols

The National Security Agency (NSA) headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland: The government agency has allegedly been spying on European leaders 

The National Security Agency (NSA) headquarters in Fort  Meade, Maryland: The government agency has allegedly been spying on European  leaders

As a result of the NSA scandal,  meanwhile,  Senator Dianne Feinstein, who is the chairwoman of the Senate  Intelligence Committee, called for a ‘total review of all intelligence programs’  after it was reported that the agency had been collecting phone records for  dozens of allied leaders.

‘The White House has informed me that  collection on our allies will not continue, which I support,’ Feinstein said  Monday.

‘But as far as I’m concerned, Congress needs  to know exactly what our intelligence community is doing. To that end, the  committee will initiate a major review into all intelligence collection  programs.’

Fresh anger over the NSA’s activities erupted  this week when Spanish media reported that the NSA monitored tens of millions of  phone calls in Spain between December 2012 and early 2013.

The NSA allegedly gathered intelligence on 60  million phone calls made in Spain, which included callers’ numbers and  locations, but not conversations, it was claimed in reports based on leaked  information from Snowden.

Read more: Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Europe should be grateful for spying, say U.S. lawmakers

World Oct. 28, 2013 – 07:00AM JST


Europeans should be grateful for U.S. spying operations because they keep them safe, U.S. lawmakers said Sunday, urging allies to improve their own intelligence and oversight efforts.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers called “disingenuous” foreign governments’ outrage over the National Security Agency’s large dragnet over communications of several dozen world leaders and ordinary citizens.

And he blamed the news media for getting the story wrong.

“I think the bigger news story here would be… if the United States intelligence services weren’t trying to collect information that would protect US interests both (at) home and abroad,” the Republican told CNN.

The NSA denied German press reports that President Barack Obama was personally informed since 2002 that U.S. spies were tapping on top ally Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany.

And National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said U.S. intelligence gathering was simply “of the type gathered by all nations.”

Dick Cheney, the former U.S. vice president who wielded vast influence on intelligence matters during the George W Bush administration’s “war on terror,” said U.S. spying on allies was nothing new.

“It’s something that we have been involved in a long time,” he told ABC television.

The spying row prompted European leaders late last week to demand a new deal with Washington on intelligence gathering that would maintain an essential alliance while keeping the fight against terrorism on track.

But Representative Peter King, who chairs the House Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, said Obama should “stop apologizing” about the NSA’s phone-tapping scandal, claiming the programs had saved “thousands” of lives.

“The president should stop apologizing and stop being defensive,” he told NBC. “The reality is the NSA has saved thousands of lives, not just in the United States but in France, Germany and throughout Europe.”

King also suggested the French had conducted similar operations themselves and should therefore tamp down their criticism.

“The French is someone to talk. They carried out operations against the United States, the government and industry,” he said.

Rogers said that French citizens would celebrate U.S. phone intercepts in their country if they realized how the practice keeps them safe.

“If the French citizens knew exactly what that was about, they would be applauding and popping champagne corks. It’s a good thing. it keeps the French safe. It keeps the U.S. safe. It keeps our European allies safe,” he added.

“This whole notion that we’re going to go after each other on what is really legitimate protection of nation-state interest, I think is disingenuous.”

The congressman called for improved intelligence oversight in European capitals, contrasting allies’ approaches to the United States, where he stressed the government must first obtain approval from a special court to monitor communications.

“They need to have a better oversight structure in Europe,” Rogers said. “I think they would be enlightened to find out what their intelligence services may or may not be doing.”

The Republican lawmaker said the news media was “100% wrong” in suggesting that the NSA monitored up to 70 million French telephone records in a single month.

“They’re seeing three or four pieces of a 1,000-piece puzzle and wanted to come to a conclusion,” he added, insisting the records collection was a counterterrorism program that did not target French citizens.

Rogers also suggested that U.S. leaders failed to foresee the rise of fascism and communism in early 20th century Europe because American spies were not spying extensively on European allies’ communications.

“In the 1930s, we had this debate before. We decided we were going to turn off our ability to even listen to friends,” he said.

“Look what happened in the ‘30s, the rise of fascism and communism. We didn’t see any of it. It resulted in the death of really tens of millions of people.”

But the Republican lawmaker stressed that any intelligence activities between allies should remain “respectful” and “accurate,” as well as be subjected to proper oversight.

Meanwhile, German media reports said Sunday that tapping of Merkel’s phone may have begun as early as 2002.

Bild am Sonntag newspaper quoted U.S. intelligence sources as saying that America’s National Security Agency chief General Keith Alexander had briefed Obama on the operation against Merkel in 2010.

“Obama did not halt the operation but rather let it continue,” the newspaper quoted a high-ranking NSA official as saying.

News weekly Der Spiegel reported that leaked NSA documents showed Merkel’s phone had appeared on a list of spying targets for over a decade, and was still under surveillance weeks before Obama visited Berlin in June.

But NSA spokeswoman Vanee’ Vines, in Washington, flatly denied the claims.

Alexander “did not discuss with President Obama in 2010 an alleged foreign intelligence operation involving German Chancellor Merkel, nor has he ever discussed alleged operations involving Chancellor Merkel,” Vines said.

“News reports claiming otherwise are not true,” she added.

The allegations, derived from documents acquired from US fugitive defense contractor Edward Snowden, have stoked global outrage that American spy agencies were responsible for broad snooping into the communications of several dozen world leaders and likely millions of ordinary people.

A poll for Der Spiegel found that 60% of Germans believe the scandal has damaged bilateral ties.

European leaders have since called for a new deal with Washington on intelligence gathering that would maintain an essential alliance while keeping the fight against terrorism on track.

Germany is to send its own spy chiefs to Washington to demand answers.

Swiss President Ueli Maurer warned the revelations risked “undermining confidence between states.”

“We don’t know if we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg or if other governments are acting in the same ruthless manner,” he told the Schweiz am Sonntag weekly.

With anger simmering in Berlin, Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich sharpened his tone.

“Surveillance is a crime and those responsible must be brought to justice,” he told Bild, while Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle decried the “highly damaging” spying among friends.

Merkel confronted Obama with the snooping allegations in a phone call Wednesday saying that such spying would be a “breach of trust.”

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung said Obama had told Merkel during their call that he had been unaware of any spying against her, while Spiegel said he assured her that he would have stopped the operation at once.

Merkel’s office declined to comment on what Obama told her.

The White House has said it is not monitoring Merkel’s phone calls and will not do so in future, but it has refused to say whether it did previously.

Bild said Obama wanted to be informed in detail about Merkel, who has played a decisive role in the eurozone debt crisis and is widely seen as Europe’s most powerful leader.

As a result, the NSA stepped up its surveillance of her communications, targeting not only the mobile phone she uses to conduct business for her conservative Christian Democratic Union party but also her encrypted official device.

Merkel only acquired the latter handset over the summer.

Bild said U.S. specialists were then able to monitor the content of her conversations as well as text messages, which Merkel sends by the dozen each day to key associates.

Only the specially secured land line in her office was out of the reach of the NSA, which sent the intelligence gathered straight to the White House bypassing the agency’s headquarters, according to the report.

Bild and Spiegel described a hive of spy activity on the fourth floor of the U.S. embassy in central Berlin, a stone’s throw from the government quarter, from which the United States kept tabs on Merkel and other German officials.

Spiegel cited a classified 2010 document indicating that US intelligence had 80 high-tech surveillance offices worldwide in cities including Paris, Madrid, Rome, Prague, Geneva and Frankfurt.

© 2013 AFP

The NSA’s Secret Spy Hub in Berlin / SCS agents may have been compromised



According to SPIEGEL research, United States intelligence agencies have not only targeted Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cell phone, but they have also used the American Embassy in Berlin as a listening station. The revelations now pose a serious threat to German-American relations.

It’s a prime site, a diplomat’s dream. Is there any better location for an embassy than Berlin’s Pariser Platz? It’s just a few paces from here to the Reichstag. When the American ambassador steps out the door, he looks directly onto the Brandenburg Gate.

When the United States moved into the massive embassy building in 2008, they threw a huge party. Over 4,500 guests were invited. Former President George H. W. Bush cut the red-white-and-blue ribbon. Chancellor Angela Merkel offered warm words for the occasion. Since then, when the US ambassador receives high-ranking visitors, they often take a stroll out to the roof terrace, which offers a breathtaking view of the Reichstag and Tiergarten park. Even the Chancellery can be glimpsed. This is the political heart of the republic, where billion-euro budgets are negotiated, laws are formulated and soldiers are sent to war. It’s an ideal location for diplomats — and for spies.

Research by SPIEGEL reporters in Berlin and Washington, talks with intelligence officials and the evaluation of internal documents of the US’ National Security Agency (NSA) and other information, most of which comes from the archive of former intelligence agent Edward Snowden, lead to the conclusion that the US diplomatic mission in the German capital has not merely been promoting German-American friendship. On the contrary, it is a nest of espionage. From the roof of the embassy, a special unit of the CIA and NSA can apparently monitor a large part of cell phone communication in the government quarter. And there is evidence that agents based at Pariser Platz recently targeted the cell phone that Merkel uses the most.

The NSA spying scandal has thus reached a new level, becoming a serious threat to the trans-Atlantic partnership. The mere suspicion that one of Merkel’s cell phones was being monitored by the NSA has led in the past week to serious tensions between Berlin and Washington.

Hardly anything is as sensitive a subject to Merkel as the surveillance of her cell phone. It is her instrument of power. She uses it not only to lead her party, the center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU), but also to conduct a large portion of government business. Merkel uses the device so frequently that there was even debate earlier this year over whether her text messaging activity should be archived as part of executive action.

‘That’s Just Not Done’

Merkel has often said — half in earnest, half in jest — that she operates under the assumption that her phone calls are being monitored. But she apparently had in mind countries like China and Russia, where data protection is not taken very seriously, and not Germany’s friends in Washington.

Last Wednesday Merkel placed a strongly worded phone call to US President Barack Obama. Sixty-two percent of Germans approve of her harsh reaction, according to a survey by polling institute YouGov. A quarter think it was too mild. In a gesture of displeasure usually reserved for rogue states, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle summoned the new US ambassador, John Emerson, for a meeting at the Foreign Ministry.

The NSA affair has shaken the certainties of German politics. Even Merkel’s CDU, long a loyal friend of Washington, is now openly questioning the trans-Atlantic free trade agreement. At the Chancellery it’s now being said that if the US government doesn’t take greater pains to clarify the situation, certain conclusions will be drawn and talks over the agreement could potentially be put on hold.

“Spying between friends, that’s just not done,” said Merkel on Thursday at her appearance at a European Union summit in Brussels. “Now trust has to be rebuilt.” But until recently it sounded as if the government had faith in the intelligence agencies of its ally.

In mid-August Merkel’s chief of staff, Ronald Pofalla, offhandedly described the NSA scandal as finished. German authorities offered none of their own findings — just a dry statement from the NSA leadership saying the agency adhered to all agreements between the countries.

Now it is not just Pofalla who stands disgraced, but Merkel as well. She looks like a head of government who only stands up to Obama when she herself is a target of the US intelligence services. The German website Der Postillon published a satirical version last Thursday of the statement given by Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert: “The chancellor considers it a slap in the face that she has most likely been monitored over the years just like some mangy resident of Germany.”

Merkel has nothing to fear domestically from the recent turn of affairs. The election is over, the conservatives and the center-left Social Democrats are already in official negotiations toward forming a new government. No one wants to poison the atmosphere with mutual accusation.

Nevertheless, Merkel must now answer the question of how much she is willing to tolerate from her American allies.

Posing as Diplomats

A “top secret” classified NSA document from the year 2010 shows that a unit known as the “Special Collection Service” (SCS) is operational in Berlin, among other locations. It is an elite corps run in concert by the US intelligence agencies NSA and CIA.

The secret list reveals that its agents are active worldwide in around 80 locations, 19 of which are in Europe — cities such as Paris, Madrid, Rome, Prague and Geneva. The SCS maintains two bases in Germany, one in Berlin and another in Frankfurt. That alone is unusual. But in addition, both German bases are equipped at the highest level and staffed with active personnel.

The SCS teams predominantly work undercover in shielded areas of the American Embassy and Consulate, where they are officially accredited as diplomats and as such enjoy special privileges. Under diplomatic protection, they are able to look and listen unhindered. They just can’t get caught.

Wiretapping from an embassy is illegal in nearly every country. But that is precisely the task of the SCS, as is evidenced by another secret document. According to the document, the SCS operates its own sophisticated listening devices with which they can intercept virtually every popular method of communication: cellular signals, wireless networks and satellite communication.

The necessary equipment is usually installed on the upper floors of the embassy buildings or on rooftops where the technology is covered with screens or Potemkin-like structures that protect it from prying eyes.

That is apparently the case in Berlin, as well. SPIEGEL asked British investigative journalist Duncan Campbell to appraise the setup at the embassy. In 1976, Campbell uncovered the existence of the British intelligence service GCHQ. In his so-called “Echelon Report” in 1999, he described for the European Parliament the existence of the global surveillance network of the same name.

Campbell refers to window-like indentations on the roof of the US Embassy. They are not glazed but rather veneered with “dielectric” material and are painted to blend into the surrounding masonry. This material is permeable even by weak radio signals. The interception technology is located behind these radio-transparent screens, says Campbell. The offices of SCS agents would most likely be located in the same windowless attic.

No Comment from the NSA

This would correspond to internal NSA documents seen by SPIEGEL. They show, for example, an SCS office in another US embassy — a small windowless room full of cables with a work station of “signal processing racks” containing dozens of plug-in units for “signal analysis.”

On Friday, author and NSA expert James Bamford also visited SPIEGEL’s Berlin bureau, which is located on Pariser Platz diagonally opposite the US Embassy. “To me, it looks like NSA eavesdropping equipment is hidden behind there,” he said. “The covering seems to be made of the same material that the agency uses to shield larger systems.”

The Berlin-based security expert Andy Müller Maguhn was also consulted. “The location is ideal for intercepting mobile communications in Berlin’s government district,” he says, “be it technical surveillance of communication between cell phones and wireless cell towers or radio links that connect radio towers to the network.”

Apparently, SCS agents use the same technology all over the world. They can intercept cell phone signals while simultaneously locating people of interest. One antenna system used by the SCS is known by the affable code name “Einstein.”

The NSA refused to comment when asked by SPIEGEL for a statement.

The SCS are careful to hide their technology, especially the large antennas on the roofs of embassies and consulates. If the equipment is discovered, explains a “top secret” set of classified internal guidelines, it “would cause serious harm to relations between the United States and a foreign government.”

According to the documents, SCS units can also intercept microwave and millimeter-wave signals. Some programs, such as one entitled “Birdwatcher,” deal primarily with encrypted communications in foreign countries and the search for potential access points. Birdwatcher is controlled directly from SCS headquarters in Maryland.

With the growing importance of the Internet, the work of the SCS has changed. Some 80 branches offer “thousands of opportunities on the net” for web-based operations, according to an internal presentation. The organization is now able not only to intercept cell phone calls and satellite communication, but also to proceed against criminals or hackers. From some embassies, the Americans have smuggled sensors in communications equipment of the respective host countries that are triggered by selected terms.

How the Scandal Began

There are strong indications that it was the SCS that targeted the cell phone of Chancellor Angela Merkel. This is suggested by a document that apparently comes from an NSA database in which the agency records its targets. This document, which SPIEGEL has seen, is what set the cell phone scandal in motion.

The document contains Merkel’s cell phone number. An inquiry to her team revealed that it is the number with which the chancellor communicates mainly with party members, ministers and confidants, often by text message. The number is, in the language of the NSA, a “Selector Value.” The next two fields determine the format (“raw phone number”) and the “Subscriber”: “GE Chancellor Merkel.”

In the next field, labeled “Ropi,” the NSA identifies who is interested in the German chancellor: It is the department S2C32. “S” stands for “Signals Intelligence Directorate,” the NSA umbrella term for signal reconnaissance. “2” is the agency’s department for procurement and evaluation. C32 is the unit responsible for Europe, the “European States Branch.” So the order apparently came down from Europe specialists in charge of signal reconnaissance.

The time stamp is noteworthy. The order was transferred to the “National Sigint Requirements List,” the list of national intelligence targets, in 2002. That was the year in which Merkel battled Edmund Stoiber, of Bavaria’s Christian Social Union, to become the conservatives’ chancellor candidate, the year in which Germany held closely watched parliamentary elections and in which the Iraq crisis began heating up. The document also lists status: “A” for active. This status was apparently valid a few weeks before President Obama’s Berlin visit in June 2013.

Finally, the document defines the units tasked with implementing the order: the “Target Office of Primary Interest”: “F666E.” “F6” is the NSA’s internal name for the global surveillance unit, the “Special Collection Service.”

‘Intelligence Target Number One’

Thus, the NSA would have targeted Merkel’s cell phone for more than a decade, first when she was just party chair, as well as later when she’d become chancellor. The record does not indicate what form of surveillance has taken place. Were all of her conversations recorded or just connection data? Were her movements also being recorded?

Among the politically decisive questions is whether the spying was authorized from the top: from the US president. If the data is accurate, the operation was authorized under former President George W. Bush and his NSA chief, Michael Hayden. But it would have had to be repeatedly approved, including after Obama took office and up to the present time. Is it conceivable that the NSA made the German chancellor a surveillance target without the knowledge of the White House?

The White House and the US intelligence agencies periodically put together a list of priorities. Listed by country and theme, the result is a matrix of global surveillance: What are the intelligence targets in various countries? How important is this reconnaissance? The list is called the “National Intelligence Priorities Framework” and is “presidentially approved.”

One category in this list is “Leadership Intentions,” the goals and objectives of a country’s political leadership. The intentions of China’s leadership are of high interest to the US government. They are marked with a “1” on a scale of 1 to 5. Mexico and Brazil each receive a “3” in this category.

Germany appears on this list as well. The US intelligence agencies are mainly interested in the country’s economic stability and foreign policy objectives (both “3”), as well as for its advanced weapons systems and a few other sub-items, all of which are marked with “4.” The “Leadership Intention” field is empty. So based on the list, it wouldn’t appear that Merkel should be monitored.

Former NSA employee Thomas Drake sees this a no contradiction. “After the attacks of September 11, 2001, Germany became intelligence target number one in Europe,” he says. The US government did not trust Germany, because some of the Sept. 11 suicide pilots had lived in Hamburg. Evidence suggests that the NSA recorded Merkel once and then became intoxicated with success, says Drake. “It has always been the NSA’s motto to conduct as much surveillance as possible,” he adds.

A Political Bomb

When SPIEGEL confronted the government on Oct. 10 with evidence that the chancellor’s cell phone had been targeted, the German security apparatus became deeply unsettled.

The Chancellery ordered the country’s foreign intelligence agency, the Federal Intelligence Service (BND), to scrutinize the information. In parallel, Christoph Heusgen, Merkel’s foreign policy adviser, also contacted his US counterpart, National Security Adviser Susan Rice, to tell her about SPIEGEL’s research, which had been summarized on a single sheet of paper. Rice said she would look into it.

Shortly afterwards, German security authorities got back to the Chancellery with a preliminary result: The numbers, dates and secret codes on the paper indicated the information was accurate. It was probably some kind of form from an intelligence agency department requesting surveillance on the chancellor’s cell phone, they said. At this point, a sense of nervousness began to grow at government headquarters. It was clear to everyone that if the Americans were monitoring Merkel’s phone, it would be a political bomb.

But then Rice called the Chancellery on Friday evening to explain that if reports began to circulate that the Chancellor’s phone had been targeted, Washington would deny it — or at least that is how the Germans understood the message. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney assured his counterpart, Merkel’s spokesperson Steffen Seibert, of the same thing. The message was passed on to SPIEGEL late that evening without comment, at which point editors decided to continue investigating.

With this, both the US agencies and Berlin won themselves more time to come up with a battle plan for approaching the deep crisis of confidence between the two countries. And it was clearly already a crisis of confidence, because Berlin obviously doubted the statements coming from the US and hadn’t called off its security services, which were to continue their probe. And, as it later became clear, there were also inquiries taking place in the US, despite the denial from Rice.

Over the weekend, the tide turned.

Rice contacted Heusgen once again, but this time her voice sounded less certain. She said that monitoring the chancellor’s phone could only be ruled out currently and in the future. Heusgen asked for more details, but was put off. The chief adviser to the president on Europe, Karen Donfried, and the Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia at the US State Department, Victoria Nuland, would provide further information midweek, he was told. By this time it was clear to the Chancellery that if Obama’s top security adviser no longer felt comfortable ruling out possible surveillance, this amounted to confirmation of their suspicions.

Going on the Offensive

This detail only served to intensify the catastrophe. Not only had supposed friends monitored the chancellor’s cell phone, which was bad enough on its own, but Berlin was also left looking like a group of amateurs. They had believed the assurances made this summer by Obama, who had downplayed the notion of spying in Germany on a visit to Berlin. German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich had even gone as far as saying at the time that Germany’s concerns had “dissipated.”

On Tuesday morning Merkel decided to go on the offensive. She had seen how strongly French President François Hollande had reacted to allegations that US intelligence agencies had conducted widespread surveillance on French citizens. Hollande had called Obama immediately to air his anger. Merkel now wanted to speak with Obama personally too — before her planned meeting with Hollande at the upcoming EU summit in Brussels.

Heusgen made a preliminary call to Obama to let him know that Merkel planned to place some serious complaints, with which she would then go public. At stake was control over the political interpretation of one of the year’s most explosive news stories.

Merkel spoke with Obama on Wednesday afternoon, calling him from her secure landline in her Chancellery office. Both spoke English. According to the Chancellery, the president explained that he had known nothing of possible monitoring, otherwise he would have stopped it. Obama also expressed his deepest regrets and apologized.

Around 5:30 p.m. the same day, Merkel’s chief of staff, Pofalla, informed two members of the Parliamentary Control Panel, the body in Germany’s parliament charged with keeping tabs on the country’s intelligence agencies, of what was going on. At the same time, the administration went public with the matter. It contacted SPIEGEL first with a statement containing Merkel’s criticism of possible spying on her cell phone. Her spokesman Seibert called it a “grave breach of trust” — a choice of phrase that is seen as the highest level of verbal escalation among allied diplomats.

Surprising Unscrupulousness

The scandal revives an old question: Are the German security agencies too trusting of the Americans? Until now, German agencies have concerned themselves with China and Russia in their counterintelligence work, for which the domestic intelligence agency, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BFV), is responsible.

A year ago, there was already debate between the agencies, the Interior Ministry and the Chancellery over whether Germany should be taking a harder look at what American agents were up to in the country. But the idea was jettisoned because it seemed too politically sensitive. The main question at the time came down to whether monitoring allies should be allowed.

Even to seasoned German intelligence officials, the revelations that have come to light present a picture of surprising unscrupulousness. It’s quite possible that the BFV could soon be tasked with investigating the activities of the CIA and NSA.

The ongoing spying scandal is also fueling allegations that the Germans have been allowing the NSA to lead them around by the nose. From the beginning of the NSA scandal, Berlin has conducted its attempts to clarify the allegations with a mixture of naivety and ignorance.

Letters with anxious questions were sent, and a group of government department leaders traveled to Washington to meet with Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. The BND was also commissioned with negotiating a “no-spying pact” with the US agencies. In this way, Merkel’s government feigned activity while remaining largely in the dark. In fact, it relied primarily on the assurance from the US that its intentions were good.

It also seems to be difficult for German intelligence agencies to actually track the activities of the NSA. High-level government officials admit that the Americans’ technical capabilities are in many ways superior to what exists in Germany. At the BFV domestic intelligence agency, for example, not even every employee has a computer with an Internet connection.

But now, as a consequence of the spying scandal, the German agencies want to beef up their capabilities. “We’re talking about a fundamental realignment of counterintelligence,” said one senior security official. There are already more than 100 employees at the BFV responsible for counterintelligence, but officials are hoping to see this double.

One focus of strategic considerations is the embassy buildings in central Berlin. “We don’t know which roofs currently have spying equipment installed,” says the security official. “That is a problem.”

Trans-Atlantic Free-Trade Agreement at Risk?

When the news of Merkel’s mobile phone being tapped began making the rounds, the BND and the BSI, the federal agency responsible for information security, took over investigation of the matter. There too, officials have been able to do nothing more than ask questions of the Americans when such sensitive issues have come up in recent months.

But now German-American relations are threatened with an ice age. Merkel’s connection to Obama wasn’t particularly good before the spying scandal. The chancellor is said to consider the president overrated — a politician who talks a lot but does little, and is unreliable to boot.

One example, from Berlin’s perspective, was the military operation in Libya almost three years ago, which Obama initially rejected. When his then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton convinced him to change his mind, he did so without consulting his allies. Berlin saw this as evidence of his fickleness and disregard for their concerns.

Merkel also finds Washington’s regular advice on how to solve the euro crisis irritating. She would prefer not to receive instruction from the country that caused the collapse of the global financial system in the first place. Meanwhile, the Americans have been annoyed for years that Germany isn’t willing to do more to boost the world economy.

Merkel also feels as though she was duped. The chancellery now plans once again to review the assurances of US intelligence agencies to make sure they are abiding by the law.

The chancellor’s office is also now considering the possibility that the much-desired trans-Atlantic free trade agreement could fail if the NSA affair isn’t properly cleared up. Since the latest revelations came out, some 58 percent of Germans say they support breaking off ongoing talks, while just 28 percent are against it. “We should put the negotiations for a free-trade agreement with the US on ice until the accusations against the NSA have been clarified,” says Economy Minister Ilse Aigner, a member of the Christian Social Union, the Bavarian sister party to Merkel’s Christian Democrats.

Outgoing Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger has used the scandal as an excuse to appeal to the conscience of her counterpart in Washington, Attorney General Eric Holder. “The citizens rightly expect that American institutions also adhere to German laws. Unfortunately, there are a number of indications to the contrary,” she wrote in a letter to Holder last week.

EU Leaders Consider Consequences

The American spying tactics weren’t far from the minds of leaders at the EU summit in Brussels last Thursday, either. French President Hollande was the first to bring it up at dinner, saying that while he didn’t want to demonize the intelligence agencies, the Americans had so blatantly broken the law on millions of counts that he couldn’t imagine how things could go on this way.

Hollande called for a code of conduct among the intelligence agencies, an idea for which Merkel also showed support. But soon doubts emerged: Wouldn’t Europe also have to take a look at its own surveillance practices? What if a German or French Snowden came forward to reveal dirty spy tactics? British Prime Minister David Cameron pointed out how many terror attacks had been prevented because of spying capabilities. Then it was asked whether it has been proven that Obama even knows what his agencies are doing. Suddenly a mutual understanding seemed to waft through the group.

That was a bit too rich for Hollande: No, he interjected, spying to such an immense degree, allegedly on more than 70 million phone calls per month in France alone, that has been undertaken by only one country: the United States. The interruption was effective. After nearly three hours, the EU member states agreed on a statement that can be read as clear disapproval of the Americans.

Merkel no longer wants to rely solely on promises. This week Günter Heiss, Chancellor Merkel’s intelligence coordinator, will travel to Washington. Heiss wants the Americans to finally promise a contract excluding mutual surveillance. The German side already announced its intention to sign on to this so-called “no-spying pact” during the summer, but the US government has so far shown little inclination to seriously engage with the topic.

This is, of course, also about the chancellor’s cell phone. Because despite all the anger, Merkel still didn’t want to give up using her old phone number as of the end of last week. She was using it to make calls and to send text messages. Only for very delicate conversations did she switch to a secure line.


Translated from the German by Kristen Allen and Charly Wilder

NSA asked Japan to tap regionwide fiber-optic cables in 2011


The U.S. National Security Agency sought the Japanese government’s cooperation in 2011 over wiretapping fiber-optic cables carrying phone and Internet data across the Asia-Pacific region, but the request was rejected, sources said Saturday.The agency’s overture was apparently aimed at gathering information on China given that Japan is at the heart of optical cables that connect various parts of the region. But Tokyo turned down the proposal, citing legal restrictions and a shortage of personnel, the sources said.

The NSA asked Tokyo if it could intercept personal information from communication data passing through Japan via cables connecting it, China and other regional areas, including Internet activity and phone calls, they said.

Faced with China’s growing presence in the cyberworld and the need to bolster information about international terrorists, the United States may have been looking into whether Japan, its top regional ally, could offer help similar to that provided by Britain, according to the sources.

Based on documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, British newspaper The Guardian reported that the agency had been sharing data intercepted by Britain’s spy agency, GCHQ, through transatlantic cables since 2011.

But Tokyo decided it could not do so because under current legislation, it cannot intercept such communications even if the aim is to prevent a terrorist act. Japan also has a substantially smaller number of intelligence personnel, compared with the NSA’s estimated 30,000 employees, the sources said.

A separate source familiar with intelligence activities of major nations said the volume of data that would need to be intercepted from fiber-optic cables would require a massive number of workers and the assistance of the private sector.

Euro Parliament axes data sharing with US – the NSA swiped the bytes anyway


Hacking claims now probed by Continent’s cops

By       Iain Thomson

Posted in Government,  24th October 2013 18:24 GMT

The European Parliament has voted to halt the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program (TFTP), an agreement to share data on financial transactions in the Continent with the US – after documents leaked by Edward Snowden showed the NSA was hacking the system anyway.

“Parliament stresses that any data-sharing agreement with the US must be based on a consistent legal data protection framework, offering legally-binding standards on purpose limitation, data minimisation, information, access, correction, erasure and redress,” the resolution reads.

The TFTP was set up in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks to give US investigators access to data from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT). According to prolific whistleblower Snowden, Uncle Sam’s spies pwned the SWIFT system, as well as those of other financial providers including Visa, and is busy slurping up credit card records and other information on selected targets.

In the wake of these allegations, the parliament voted by 280 to 254 (with 30 abstentions) to suspend the TFTP until a “full on-site technical investigation” of the hacking claims has been carried out by Europol’s Cybercrime Centre.

The resolution is non-binding, however, since only the European Commission can bind member nations to the decision. But under the terms of the TFTP “the Commission will have to act if Parliament withdraws its support for a particular agreement.”

It’s a measure of the growing anger in Europe over the NSA’s operations that such a vote was even considered. This week’s news that the agency may have hacked the phone and email of the heads of state of Germany and Mexico, as well as spying on more than 70 million phone calls in France, has many politicians up in arms over America’s global surveillance.

According to the US Treasury Department, TFTP has given “thousands of valuable leads to US Government agencies” about possible terrorist activity, and since 2010 the agreement has been codified so that specific rules are laid down on data privacy and deletion. One wonders, therefore, why the NSA bothered hacking it in the first place.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, chairman of the Senate Intelligence committee and NSA cheerleader, offered one possible reason in an op-ed in USA Today on Monday. She argued that the spy agency’s mass data trawls of phone records and other data was necessary because the spooks need to act quickly to catch terrorists and need “the haystack of records in order to find the terrorist needle.”

Perhaps the NSA simply just doesn’t trust its friends in Europe. ®

Original URL:


Was ISRAEL behind the hacking of millions of French phones and NOT the U.S.? Extraordinary twist in spying saga revealed

  • Agents said  to have intercepted 70 million calls and text messages a  month
  • France had  previously blamed the United States of America
  • US was  first suspected of hacking into Nicolas Sarkozy’s phone in  2012

By  Nabila Ramdani

PUBLISHED: 11:32 EST, 25  October 2013 |  UPDATED: 11:34 EST, 25 October 2013

Israel and not America was behind the hacking  of millions of French phones, it was claimed today.

In the latest extraordinary twist in the  global eavesdropping scandal, Israeli agents are said to have intercepted more  than 70 million calls and text messages a month.

Up until now the French have been blaming the  USA, even summoning the country’s Paris ambassador to provide an  explanation.

France first suspected the US of hacking into former president Nicolas Sarkozy's communications network when he was unsuccessfully trying for re-election in 2012 

France first suspected the US of hacking into former  president Nicolas Sarkozy’s communications network when he was unsuccessfully  trying for re-election in 2012

But today’s Le Monde newspaper provides  evidence that it was in fact Israeli agents who were listening in.

France first suspected the US of hacking into  former president Nicolas Sarkozy’s communications network when he was  unsuccessfully trying for re-election in 2012.

Intelligence officials Bernard Barbier and  Patrick Pailloux travelled from Paris to Washington to demand an explanation,  but the Americans hinted that the Israelis were to blame.

The Americans insisted they have never been  behind any hacking in France, and were always keen to get on with the French,  whom they viewed as some of their closest allies.

They were so determined to be friends with  the French, that US briefing notes included details of how to pronounce the  names of the Gallic officials.

A note published in Le Monde shows that the  Americans refused to rule out Mossad, Israel’s notoriously uncompromising  intelligence agency, or the ISNU, Israel’s cyber-intelligence unit.

Tailored Access Operations (TAO), the branch  of the US National Security Agency (NSA) which deals with cyber-attacks, is  referred to throughout the note.

It reads: ‘TAO intentionally did not ask  either Mossad or ISNU whether they were involved as France is not an approved  target for joint discussions.’

Le Monde’s article, co-authored by US  journalist Glenn Greenwald, whose main contact is NSA whistleblower Edward  Snowden, however, hints that the Israelis were doing the spying.

Both US and French intelligence work closely  with Mossad, but there is known to be a great deal of suspicion between all the  agencies.

A 2008 NSA note says that the Israelis are  ‘excellent partners in terms of sharing information’, but it also says that  Mossad is ‘the third most aggressive intelligence service in the world against  the United States’.

A spokesman for the Israeli government told  Le Monde: ‘Israel is a country which is a friend, ally and partner of France and  does not carry out any hostile activity which could pose a threat to its  security.’

France has complained in the past about  Mossad’s use of its soil to plan so called black operations including the 2010  assassination in Dubai of Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh of the Palestinian movement  Hamas.

Read more:–Extraordinary-twist-spying-saga-revealed.html#ixzz2ikrEHKWT Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Senator Dianne Feinstein claims eavesdropping on phone callls is not surveillance, nor is it protected under the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches.

‘No phone call, no Internet transaction, isn’t recorded by the  NSA’: Edward  Snowden fires back at U.S. government surveillance denials

  • Senator  Dianne Feinstein claimed that the NSA’s phone-tracking is  benign
  • Whistle-blower Snowden said in a statement that it is  pervasive in nature

By  Ted Thornhill

PUBLISHED: 08:49 EST, 25  October 2013 |  UPDATED: 08:56 EST, 25 October 2013

Whistle-blower Edward Snowden has hit back at  claims by a U.S. government official that collating phone records is not  ‘surveillance’.

Senator Dianne Feinstein wrote in newspaper  recently that what the NSA is gathering is not protected under the Fourth  Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches.

She wrote in USA Today on Sunday: ‘The call-records  program is not surveillance. It does not collect the content of any  communication, nor do the records include names or locations.’

Statement: Snowden has said that every phone call and internet transaction made in America is logged
Statement: Snowden insisted that every phone call and  internet transaction made in America is logged
Dianne Feinstein has said that the NSA's phone call tracking does not breach the Fourth Amendment
Dianne Feinstein has said that the NSA’s phone call  tracking does not breach the Fourth Amendment

She added: ‘The NSA only collects the  type  of information found on a telephone bill: phone numbers of calls  placed and  received, the time of the calls and duration. The Supreme  Court has held this  “metadata” is not protected under the Fourth  Amendment.’

However Snowden, although he didn’t name the  lawmaker, clearly had her comments in mind when he gave a statement to the American Civil Liberties Union about phone  tracking.

He said: ‘In the last four months, we’ve  learned a lot about our government.

‘We’ve learned that the U.S. intelligence  community secretly built a system of pervasive surveillance. Today, no telephone  in America makes a call without leaving a record with the NSA. Today, no  internet transaction enters or leaves America without passing through the NSA’s  hands. Our representatives in Congress tell us this is not surveillance. They’re  wrong.’

He made the statement in support of a  demonstration against government privacy invasion taking place in Washington D.C  on Saturday.

His comment came as tensions mount between  Europe and America over the alleged monitoring of leaders’ phone  calls.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called President Obama today to inquire about the claims (Merkel pictured in March) German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that U.S.  spying on allies has shattered trust in President Obama’s administration (Merkel  pictured in March)


The National Security Agency has monitored  the phone conversations of at least 35 world leaders after being given their  numbers by an official in another government department, according to a  classified document leaked by Snowden.

The confidential memo reveals that senior  officials in ‘customer’ departments such the White House and the Pentagon were  encouraged to share their ‘Rolodexes’ of contact details with the  NSA.

The agency then added the phone numbers of  the foreign politicians to their surveillance systems and started to monitor  them.

According to the leaked document handed over  to The Guardian, one unnamed official handed  over 200 numbers – including those of at least 35 world leaders – none of whom  were named.

One of the leaders the NSA bugged was  allegedly German chancellor Angela Merkel, who accused the American government  on Wednesday of tapping her mobile phone, something the White House  denies.

European leaders united in anger Thursday as  they attended a summit overshadowed by the reports of the U.S. spying on its  allies.

Read more: Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

NSA monitored calls of 35 world leaders after US official handed over contacts

• Agency given more than 200 numbers by government official • NSA encourages departments to share their ‘Rolodexes’ • Surveillance produced ‘little intelligence’, memo acknowledges


    • James Ball
    • The Guardian, Thursday 24 October 2013 14.14 EDT
SID_460 View larger picture
The NSA memo suggests that such surveillance was not isolated as the agency routinely monitors world leaders. Photograph: Guardian

The National Security Agency monitored the phone conversations of 35 world leaders after being given the numbers by an official in another US government department, according to a classified document provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The confidential memo reveals that the NSA encourages senior officials in its “customer” departments, such the White House, State and the Pentagon, to share their “Rolodexes” so the agency can add the phone numbers of leading foreign politicians to their surveillance systems.

The document notes that one unnamed US official handed over 200 numbers, including those of the 35 world leaders, none of whom is named. These were immediately “tasked” for monitoring by the NSA.

The revelation is set to add to mounting diplomatic tensions between the US and its allies, after the German chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday accused the US of tapping her mobile phone.

After Merkel’s allegations became public, White House press secretary Jay Carney issued a statement that said the US “is not monitoring and will not monitor” the German chancellor’s communications. But that failed to quell the row, as officials in Berlin quickly pointed out that the US did not deny monitoring the phone in the past.

The NSA memo obtained by the Guardian suggests that such surveillance was not isolated, as the agency routinely monitors the phone numbers of world leaders – and even asks for the assistance of other US officials to do so.

The memo, dated October 2006 and which was issued to staff in the agency’s Signals Intelligence Directorate (SID), was titled “Customers Can Help SID Obtain Targetable Phone Numbers”.

It begins by setting out an example of how US officials who mixed with world leaders and politicians could help agency surveillance.

“In one recent case,” the memo notes, “a US official provided NSA with 200 phone numbers to 35 world leaders … Despite the fact that the majority is probably available via open source, the PCs [intelligence production centers] have noted 43 previously unknown phone numbers. These numbers plus several others have been tasked.”

The document continues by saying the new phone numbers had helped the agency discover still more new contact details to add to their monitoring: “These numbers have provided lead information to other numbers that have subsequently been tasked.”

But the memo acknowledges that eavesdropping on the numbers had produced “little reportable intelligence”. In the wake of the Merkel row, the US is facing growing international criticism that any intelligence benefit from spying on friendly governments is far outweighed by the potential diplomatic damage.

The memo then asks analysts to think about any customers they currently serve who might similarly be happy to turn over details of their contacts.

“This success leads S2 [signals intelligence] to wonder if there are NSA liaisons whose supported customers may be willing to share their ‘Rolodexes’ or phone lists with NSA as potential sources of intelligence,” it states. “S2 welcomes such information!”

The document suggests that sometimes these offers come unsolicited, with US “customers” spontaneously offering the agency access to their overseas networks.

“From time to time, SID is offered access to the personal contact databases of US officials,” it states. “Such ‘Rolodexes’ may contain contact information for foreign political or military leaders, to include direct line, fax, residence and cellular numbers.”

The Guardian approached the Obama administration for comment on the latest document. Officials declined to respond directly to the new material, instead referring to comments delivered by Carney at Thursday’s daily briefing.

Carney told reporters: “The [NSA] revelations have clearly caused tension in our relationships with some countries, and we are dealing with that through diplomatic channels.

“These are very important relations both economically and for our security, and we will work to maintain the closest possible ties.”

The public accusation of spying on Merkel adds to mounting political tensions in Europe about the scope of US surveillance on the governments of its allies, after a cascade of backlashes and apologetic phone calls with leaders across the continent over the course of the week.

Asked on Wednesday evening if the NSA had in the past tracked the German chancellor’s communications, Caitlin Hayden, the White House’s National Security Council spokeswoman, said: “The United States is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of Chancellor Merkel. Beyond that, I’m not in a position to comment publicly on every specific alleged intelligence activity.”

At the daily briefing on Thursday, Carney again refused to answer repeated questions about whether the US had spied on Merkel’s calls in the past.

The NSA memo seen by the Guardian was written halfway through George W Bush’s second term, when Condoleezza Rice was secretary of state and Donald Rumsfeld was in his final months as defence secretary.

Merkel, who, according to Reuters, suspected the surveillance after finding her mobile phone number written on a US document, is said to have called for US surveillance to be placed on a new legal footing during a phone call to President Obama.

“The [German] federal government, as a close ally and partner of the US, expects in the future a clear contractual basis for the activity of the services and their co-operation,” she told the president.

The leader of Germany’s Green party, Katrin Goring-Eckhart, called the alleged spying an “unprecedented breach of trust” between the two countries.

Earlier in the week, Obama called the French president François Hollande in response to reports in Le Monde that the NSA accessed more than 70m phone records of French citizens in a single 30-day period, while earlier reports in Der Spiegel uncovered NSA activity against the offices and communications of senior officials of the European Union.

The European Commission, the executive body of the EU, this week backed proposals that could require US tech companies to seek permission before handing over EU citizens’ data to US intelligence agencies, while the European parliament voted in favour of suspending a transatlantic bank data sharing agreement after Der Spiegel revealed the agency was monitoring the international bank transfer system Swift.

NSA-friendly cyber-slurp law CISPA back on the table with new Senate bill


Unsurprisingly with spooks’ full support

By     Iain Thomson

Posted in Law,    22nd October 2013 19:33 GMT

The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), which allows private companies to share customer information with the NSA and others in the name of cybersecurity, is back on the legislative agenda.

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) today confirmed the draft law would be brought before the US Senate.

“I am working with Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) on bipartisan legislation to facilitate the sharing of cyber related information among companies and with the government and to provide protection from liability,” Senator Feinstein told Mother Jones in a statement. “The legislation will … still maintain necessary privacy protections.”

The outgoing head of the NSA and US Cyber Command General Keith Alexander is a strong supporter of CISPA. Earlier this month he told the Telecommunications Industry Association’s annual conference that the legislation was essential to protect the functioning of businesses by heading off online attacks, citing the vulnerability of Wall Street to outside hacking as an example.

CISPA has had a rocky legislative road so far. Originally introduced to the US House of Representatives back in 2011, the act was crafted to allow government departments to share intelligence about online threats with commercial companies. In exchange, those companies had the option of handing over either anonymized or identifiable information about their customers, with full legal immunity.

The initial bill was passed by the House but was shot down in the Senate by a Republican filibuster. Then it was reintroduced in February and passed by 288-127 votes. However, President Obama warned that he might veto the legislation as it stood, citing privacy concerns.

After NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden started leaking details about Uncle Sam’s extensive communications surveillance operations, any further progress with the legislation was shelved – but now it appears Senator Feinstein feels the time is right to get it back in play. If the Senate passes the new law then the President will have to decide whether or not to exercise his veto.

The Senate version of CISPA is still being drafted, so the privacy protections (or lack thereof) that caused concern may yet be addressed. In the last round of politicking, companies including Google and Facebook spoke out in its favor, although back then no one knew that they were already passing information to the NSA under the PRISM project.

That said, there is a valid case for legislation that would allow greater information sharing between government and commerce about the latest computer security threats – currently there’s no legal framework for doing so. Once the proposed legislation is published privacy advocates will be poring over it to determine if safeguards are strong enough to make the payoff of better security for all worthwhile. ®


Original URL:

US spy agency snooped on French citizens: Report ( code-named “US-985D” )

Monday, Oct 21, 2013

PARIS  – The US National Security Agency (NSA) secretly recorded millions of phone calls made in France, daily Le Monde reported on Monday, citing documents from former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.

The spy agency taped 70.3 million phone calls in France over a 30-day period between December 10 and January 8, 2013, Le Monde reported in its online version.

According to the paper, the NSA automatically picked up communications from certain phone numbers in France and recorded text messages under a programme code-named “US-985D.”

Le Monde said the documents gave grounds to think the NSA targeted not only people suspected of being involved in terrorism but also high-profile individuals from the world of business or politics.

US authorities declined to comment to the French daily on the “classified” documents.

The Le Monde article followed similar revelations by German weekly Der Spiegel that US agents had hacked into the email account of former Mexican president Felipe Calderon.

Mexican authorities have said they will be seeking answers from US officials “as soon as possible” following the allegations.

Snowden, who has taken refuge in Russia, is wanted in the United States for espionage and other charges after leaking details of the NSA’s worldwide snooping activities.

House panel nixes Grayson’s request for Syria intelligence / No access to why Obama wanted to attack Syria


    10/18/13 1:51 AM EDT

    In a highly unusual move, the House Intelligence Committee voted this week to deny an outspoken Florida lawmaker access to classified information supporting President Barack Obama’s call for a military strike in Syria.

    The committee’s decision Wednesday to deny the sensitive materials to Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) was driven in part by a heated House floor speech he gave in June (text/video) in which he displayed and discussed a “top secret” PowerPoint presentation National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden leaked to the Guardian and the Washington Post, a Hill staffer familiar with the situation said.

    Under rules pertaining to classified information, people with security clearances are not permitted to publicly discuss or confirm leaked information that has not been officially declassified.

    The panel members present at the meeting voted unanimously to deny Grayson access to some of the information he was seeking, according to a tally reviewed by POLITICO. Other records were denied to him on a 14-1 vote, with Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) the sole dissenter, the tally shows.

    In an interview, Grayson said he didn’t know why his request for access to the intelligence underlying the call for military action against Syria had been refused, beyond what he called a “form letter” telling him of the decision.

    “They said, ‘No,’” Grayson said Thursday. “It’s fundamentally wrong that members of the intelligence committee have information and they’re keeping other members of Congress from having access to it…There’s no legitimate reason to distinguish between what one member of Congress has access to and what another member has access to. We are all equal under the Constitution.”

    In a letter to Grayson dated Wednesday, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) explained the denial by pointing in general terms to panel rules that say such requests are decided by considering “the sensitivity to the national defense or the confidential conduct of the foreign relations of the United States of the information sought…the likelihood of its being directly or indirectly disclosed [and] the jurisdictional interest of the member making the request.”

    “The Committee has always been forward leaning with providing members of Congress briefings and facilitating meetings with Intelligence Community officials, particularly where classified  intelligence information heavily informs a vote or matter pending before the House of Representatives,” Rogers wrote in the letter, which Grayson shared with POLITICO (and is posted here). “However, the Committee also takes seriously its responsibility to protect classified information—particularly sources and methods—in order to ensure such information does not become known by our country’s adversaries.”

    A spokeswoman for the committee’s ranking Democrat, Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland, confirmed the denial of Grayson’s requests. However, she said a key factor was the mootness of the Syria debate at the moment, given Obama’s decision to proceed with diplomatic efforts to strip Syria of its chemical weapons and his withdrawal of the call for Congressional approval of military action.

    “Mr. Grayson’s requests for classified details about Syria are now not relevant to any vote that Congress has pending before it,” Ruupersberger spokeswoman Allison Getty said in a statement. “In addition, much information has now been and will be made public as diplomatic options became available. Should future votes on this issue or others arise, every effort is made to make relevant classified information available for Members to make informed decisions.”

    “The Committee held a thorough discussion on the matter and determined, by majority vote, that it could not approve Congressman Grayson’s request,” Getty added.

    Getty also said “Grayson’s requests were broad and sought highly classified information which would include very sensitive source revealing information.” She noted that when the Syria issue was pending, five classified briefings were held for members of Congress and Grayson attended “some” of those sessions.

    Grayson said it was “bizarre” if the committee denied him access based on his June speech criticizing the NSA’s PRISM program and the agency’s telephone-call-tracking database.

    “I did take slides from the Guardian’s website to use as visual aids. I didn’t use or misuse classified information. Anybody making that charge is being irresponsible,” the congressman said. “It was obviously in the public domain at the time. Millions of people had gone to the Guardian website and seen it.”

    “By the way, there’s such a thing in the Constitution as the speech and debate clause of the Constitution,” Grayson added. The clause gives lawmakers absolute immunity for their statements during official sessions, but does not preclude the House or Senate from cutting off members’ access to information.

    The liberal firebrand from Florida said no member of Congress nor any executive branch official had complained to him about his June floor speech about the NSA or the “visual aids” he used. However, he would not say whether any Congressional staffers had objected to the content of his presentation.

    “I’m not going into that,” he said.

    Grayson said he made the request for Syria-related data because published reports seemed to contradict public statements and briefing papers administration officials distributed about intelligence on the chemical weapons situation in that war-wracked country.

    “I felt I had been sold a pig in a poke,” he said. ”I was asked to vote to go to war…on the basis  of a four-page summary prepared by proponents of war that had only information in their favor in the document….What I’ve done, I think conscientiously, is to try to ascertain the facts.” A prominent expert on classified information policy, Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists, said he was troubled by the ambiguity of the committee’s action towards Grayson.

    “If the committee’s position is he violated his oath, then they should refer him to the Ethics Committee. If not, then they should [approve] his request,” the analyst said. “It doesn’t smell right.”

    Highly-publicized disclosures of classified information in recent years and the ability to obtain the original documents via the Internet have created strange and sometimes impractical situations as security specialists tried to keep those with security clearances on the right side of the rules. In 2010 and again this year, the U.S. military blocked troops and other personnel from accessing classified documents published on the internet as a result of Army Pvt. Bradley Manning’s leaks to WikiLeaks and Snowden’s disclosures about the NSA. Sometimes officials have blocked or forbidden access even to news outlets reporting on the disclosures, such as the Guardian and the New York Times.

    Aftergood noted, though, that the legal complications go beyond those with security clearances. Strictly speaking, anyone who has a copy of top-secret documents Snowden leaked or has them stored on his or her computer is violating the law by not returning them immediately to the U.S. Government.

    “Everyone, who, like myself, receives the Washington Post at home is in technical violation of the Espionage Act because in Tuesday’s paper, the Post reprinted top-secret slides released by Snowden,” Aftergood said. “The letter of the law has not caught up with the reality that a lot of classified information is in circulation in the public domain.”


    British spies ‘hid activities from MPs’

    Former Labour minister accuses spies of ignoring MPs over surveillance

    Nick Brown says there is ‘uncanny’ similarity between GCHQ programmes exposed by Edward Snowden and bill’s proposals


    Nick Brown

    Former minister Nick Brown says mass surveillance appears to be happening ‘with or without parliament’s consent’. Photograph: Chris Ratcliffe/AFP/Getty Images

    A former Labour cabinet minister has warned that GCHQ and Britain’s other intelligence agencies appear to be undertaking mass surveillance without parliament’s consent because the coalition failed to get the so-called “snoopers’ charter” passed into law after Liberal Democrat opposition.

    Nick Brown, a former chief whip who sat on the parliamentary committee scrutinising the draft communications data bill, said there was an “uncanny” similarity between the GCHQ surveillance programmes exposed by the US whistleblower Edward Snowden and proposals in the first part of the bill.

    The communications data bill – dubbed the “snoopers’ charter” by critics – would have given GCHQ, MI5 and MI6 much greater powers to gather and save information about people’s internet activities but it was shelved in the spring amid Lib Dem fears that it intruded too much into privacy.

    Brown, a Labour MP, said that it “looks very much like this is what is happening anyway, with or without parliament’s consent” under GCHQ’s secret Tempora programme, which was revealed by the Guardian in July in reports based on files leaked by Snowden. Tempora allows GCHQ to harvest, store and analyse millions of phone calls, emails and search engine queries by tapping the transatlantic cables that carry internet traffic.

    Brown’s remarks closely echo those of Lord Blencathra, the Conservative chairman of the committee and a former Home Office minister, who on Monday said GCHQ may be operating “outside the law or on the very edge of the law” because of Tempora.

    But in parliament, Theresa May, the home secretary, told the home affairs select committee there was nothing in the Snowden files that changed the case for new laws giving the security services more powers to monitor the internet. She also described the Guardian’s publication of the material as “damaging to the public interest” and repeatedly rejected the need for a debate on oversight of the intelligence agencies.

    Afterwards, it emerged that Julian Smith, a Conservative MP, had written to the Metropolitan police asking the force to investigate whether the Guardian has broken the law by communicating intelligence information obtained from Snowden. The MP wrote to Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe to ask if offences had been committed under Section 58A of the Terrorism Act 2000 or the Official Secrets Act.

    A Guardian spokesman said: “The high public interest in the stories we have responsibly published is evidenced by the debates, presidential review and proposed legislative reforms in the US Congress, throughout Europe and in Westminster. We’re surprised that, once again, it is being proposed that terror legislation should be used against journalists.”

    Brown, an ally of the former prime minister Gordon Brown, also called for “grown-up cross-party discussions” to look at how to protect the privacy of individual citizens as the security services seek to expand their ability to monitor the internet.

    “The similarity between part 1 of the proposed data communications bill and the events Mr Snowden is describing as already taking place is uncanny,” Brown said. “It covers the same set of circumstances. The bill was trying to be permissive in that all material could be saved for a year. It now looks very much like this is what is happening anyway, with or without parliament’s consent.

    “I agree with Lord Blencathra’s account of the evidence. I was sufficiently concerned not to accept part 1 of the [draft communications data] bill.”

    On Tuesday night, two other Liberal Democrat members of the joint committee also questioned why the Home Office did not reveal the extent of GCHQ’s spying capabilities during the committee’s inquiry, which concluded the bill carried a risk of “trampling on the privacy of citizens”.

    Lord Strasburger, a businessman, said nothing was mentioned about Tempora during two private “no holds barred sessions with the Home Office”. “You have to wonder why, even in the secret sessions, none of the witnesses mentioned Project Tempora … It was highly relevant to our work and I believe that deliberate failure to reveal it amounts to misleading parliament,” he said.

    Last night, Jill Abramson, executive editor of the New York Times, mounted a defence of the ability of journalists at her own paper and at the Guardian to publish public interest stories based on the  files leaked by Snowden.

    “I think … that those articles are very much in the public interest and inform the public,” she said on BBC’s Newsnight.

    On claims by MI5 director general Andrew Parker that newspaper reports were causing “enormous damage” to the fight against terrorism, Abramson said that there had been no proof of actual harm to security.

    Julian Huppert, a Liberal Democrat MP on the committee, also said he thought it was astonishing that May did not reveal the current capabilities of GCHQ to the committee through their Tempora and Prism programmes.

    “Those of us on the committee were never told by any Home Office officials about the fact the data was already available,” Huppert said. “In our report, we accused them of being misleading. It seems they were far more misleading than we could have realised at the time. Presumably, the home secretary knew that this was information they already had available, in which case she was not fully open with the committee. If she didn’t know, that raises real questions about her role.”

    He said the government must reveal which ministers knew about Tempora  after Chris Huhne, the former Lib Dem energy secretary, said he was not aware of the programme during his time in government.

    “We know the cabinet was not briefed,” Huppert said. “We have no idea who was. Was it just the prime minister? Was it a handful of others? Who made the decision not to tell other people? This is incredibly alarming. I hope we will be able to see proper debate and parliamentary scrutiny of this issue. We know that the security services play a very important role but they should operate with public consent.”

    • This article was amended on 16 October 2013. The original piece omitted a paragraph explaining that Julian Huppert was a member of the committee scrutinising the draft communications data bill. The paragraph has been reinstated.