TBR News February 10, 2016

Feb 09 2016

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. February 10, 2016: ”Anyone using the Internet to communnicate, be they private individuals or business entities, should realize that there are so many intelligence agencies tapped into the systems that confidentiality is virtually impossible. At the present time, the social networks enable the spies to keep tabs on even ten-year old chiildren and note that any email sent from an American site to a foreign one is instantly acquired by the NSA for storage and later evaluation. That is on the one hand and on the other, the communications and systems of the spies have themselves been breached by computer experts with the result that there are no longer secrets of any kind. Even the US mails are scanned by the FBI! They may not open the mail but they know on a daily basis with whom people are communicating. On the other hand, FBI communications with their planted agents in US embassies and consulated world-wide are being read by others. This is how the plan to assassinate Edward Snowden was discovered recently.

Conversations with the Crow

On October 8th, 2000, Robert Trumbull Crowley, once a leader of the CIA’s Clandestine Operations Division, died in a Washington hospital of heart failure and the end effects of Alzheimer’s Disease. Before the late Assistant Director Crowley was cold, Joseph Trento, a writer of light-weight books on the CIA, descended on Crowley’s widow at her town house on Cathedral Hill Drive in Washington and hauled away over fifty boxes of Crowley’s CIA files.

Once Trento had his new find secure in his house in Front Royal , Virginia, he called a well-known Washington fix lawyer with the news of his success in securing what the CIA had always considered to be a potential major embarrassment. Three months before, July 20th of that year, retired Marine Corps colonel William R. Corson, and an associate of Crowley, died of emphysema and lung cancer at a hospital in Bethesda, Md. After Corson’s death, Trento and his Washington lawyer went to Corson’s bank, got into his safe deposit box and removed a manuscript entitled ‘Zipper.’ This manuscript, which dealt with Crowley’s involvement in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, vanished into a CIA burn-bag and the matter was considered to be closed forever

After Crowley’s death and Trento’s raid on the Crowley files, huge gaps were subsequently discovered by horrified CIA officials and when Crowley’s friends mentioned Gregory Douglas, it was discovered that Crowley’s son had shipped two large boxes to Douglas. No one knew their contents but because Douglas was viewed as an uncontrollable loose cannon who had done considerable damage to the CIA’s reputation by his on-going publication of the history of Gestapo-Mueller, they bent every effort both to identify the missing files and make some effort to retrieve them before Douglas made any use of them.

Douglas had been in close contact with Crowley and had long phone conversatins with him. He found this so interesting and informative that he taped  and later transcribed them.

These conversations have been published in a book: ‘Conversations with the Crow” and this is an excerpt.




Conversation No. 7

Date: Tuesday, April 2, 1996

Commenced: 10:17 AM (CST)

Concluded: 10:57 AM (CST)


GD: Am I interrupting anything there? It took awhile for you to pick up.

RTC: No, everything’s fine. I was going through my files seeing if I could find anything more about your friend Müller but I came across something interesting on H&K instead.

GD: Heckler and Koch? The German arms company?

RTC: No, Hill and Knowlton. The PR people.

GD: Public relations.

RTC: Yes. One of my jobs with the company was to keep up our connections with major business and H&K was my baby. Actually, you might be interested in all of this. We were talking about Frank Wisner’s contacts with the media and Cord Meyer’s with the publishing business so I thought this might just fit right in. We always wanted to emulate Colonel Hoover’s good PR. You know, the Hollywood and radio dramas about the wonderful G-Men. I think we established a far more effective system but then, of course I am prejudiced. Before we were finished, we had our fingers in every pot imaginable from the major media to book companies, television networks and so on.

GD: I knew Brownlow in Munich who ran Radio Liberty.

RTC: Station chief there. Yes, but that was for foreign consumption. My specialty was domestic. I guess you can call it propaganda if you like but we needed it to push our programs forward, ruin our enemies and help our friends. I think these were noble goals, Gregory, don’t you?

GD: Well, at least from your point of view.

RTC: We had to cover up failures as well. I think you can say that the Company pretty well controls the media in this country now. Take the AP for example. Every little jerkwater paper out in East Jesus, Texas, cannot have a reporter in Washington or Moscow so they rely almost entirely on the AP for anything outside their town. I mean if a cow wanders out onto the highway and wrecks a truck or the local grange burns down, sure, they have the local reporters, but for what’s going on in Washington or elsewhere, it’s the AP. Look, you get on a plane in New York bound for, say, Chicago. You read the paper and then stuff it into the seat pocket and get off. In Chicago, you pick up the Tribune and read it. Same national and international news. Fly to ‘Frisco and the same thing. The AP is a wonderful asset, believe me. Let’s say you want to put a story about that a certain foreign potentate is about to get kicked out. Or better, you want him kicked out. So, we plant a story with the New York Times, the Washington Post or other big papers and then get AP to send our special message all over the damned country. Let’s say we start in the night before. By the six o’clock news the next day, all of America knows just what we want it to know and we do this so anyone reading an article can only come to the conclusions we want.

GD: This is not a surprise, Robert. I’ve been in the newspaper game for forty years now and I know most of the games.

RTC: Well, you can see why I developed H&K as a purely captive asset, can’t you?

GD: Of course.

RTC: And we used them to plant our own agents all over the world. It is a wonderful cover. We have some of the major columnists, of course, and many editors and more than a few publishers but putting our own agents in, say, France or Ottawa, is a great advantage, believe me. And H&K had the best, the very best, connections. Bobby Gray was Ike’s press secretary and was a good friend of Nixon and Reagan and had their ear. We infiltrated our people into every level of the business, political and professional worlds and you never knew when one of your people might bring home the bacon. I can say with some pride that, let’s say, we wanted to get some legislation passed, it was a piece of cake. Sometimes we made bad calls like the time we pushed Fidel Castro into office only to have the bastard turn on us. I remember the howling the Alcoa people did when he nationalized their plants in Cuba. Or the United Fruit people demanding we get rid of Guzman1 in Guatemala because he was expropriating their banana plantations. The man we put in after we kicked Guzman out turned on us and we had to shoot him, but in theory it was a slick deal. Sam Cummings got Nazi weapons from the Poles and we shipped them over there on a freight line we owned and for a little while, Levi and Zentner were happy. It was a question of helping our friends. I’ll tell you about Sullivan and Cromwell, some time.

GD: Not Gilbert and Sullivan?

RTC: No the New York law firm. Dulles was with them. They helped everyone out. Very pro-Hitler once, but then the Company was full of ex-Nazis; in fact our Gehlen Org was almost exclusively Nazi. Frenchy Grombach drew up a list of top Nazis wanted for war crimes after the war and Critchfield used it at his main recruiting guide. Of course if the Jews ever found this out, we would have to do some major damage control. Israel is friendly with us just as long as we keep the money and the guns coming. But then we have to kiss up to the Arabs as well because of the oil so the main thing here is to maintain a careful balance. But not only H&K but a number of other firms have been of inestimable help to us. They plans stories we want planted, they open offices in foreign countries of interest and let our men come in as employees and so on. The PR people can move mountains. Paster, who not only worked for H&K but also the Clintons, worked with Bill’s people to neutralize the Lewinski scandal, which was really not political but religious in nature. The right wing Christians, who are as crazy as shit house owls, wanted Clinton’s scalp so they could put one of their own pro-Jesus nuts in the White House. Ken Starr is as strange as they come and I am ashamed to admit he’s a lawyer from my hometown. Stands in his yard and screams for Jesus to listen to him. The neighbors made such as fuss about these nocturnal shouting sessions, they called the police.

GD: Tell me, Robert, did Jesus ever answer?

RTC: I don’t think so but Ken was warned that if he kept his yowling up at night, or even in the daytime, it was off to St. Elizabeth’s funny farm in an ambulance.

GD: Don’t talk to me about the Jesus Freaks! My God, I’ve known my share and the best place for them is a desert island populated by hungry tigers.

RTC: I think there are things even a hungry tiger wouldn’t eat.

GD: But back to the press again. Did you control or did you influence?

RTC: Both. I can give you an example. Ben Bradlee was the managing editor of the Washington Post and was our man all the way. It’s a long, involved story and if you have the time, I’ll give you the background. I know we’ve talked about this before but it’s absolutely typical of what I was telling you. Do you have the time?

GD: Yes, as the old whore said, if you have the money.

RTC: Ben’s best friend when he was a child was Dick Helms. After Ben left Harvard during the war, he joined ONI and worked in their communications center. He dealt with a flood of secret codes messages from all over the world. He had married Jean Saltonstall, the Governor’s daughter and the old man was also a spook. Not generally known, however. War was over and Ben was sent to join the ACLU as a spy. Pretty soon Ben got an inside connection with Gene Meyer, who’s family ran the Post and he got a job there covering the police beat. Eugene’s son-in-law married Katherine and poor Gene was a blossoming nut and he eventually swallowed his gun and the wife took over the paper. Graham got Ben a job with the Foggy Bottom people…

GD: What?

RTC: State Department. Anyway, Ben was off to France where he worked in the embassy in Paris where he did propaganda work and started working very closely with us. Then he went to work for Newsweek. Ben is an ambitious type and he ditched the Saltonstall woman and married Tony Pinchot. Her sister, Mary, was married to Cord Meyer, our beloved Cyclops….

GD: And a friend and co-worker with party comrade Cranston…

RTC: The same one. And joined together in the Mockingbird program we have been talking about….

GD: The Mighty Wurlitzer of Wisner?

RTC: Same idea.

GD: Graham and Wisner killed themselves and Wisner spent a lot of time in a nut house, didn’t he?

RTC: Raving mad. They had to drag him screaming out of headquarters, trussed up in a strait jacket and foaming at the mouth. Not one of my fonder moments. As I recall it, Bradlee knew Jim Angleton in France. I’ll tell you about Jim one of these days. Ben was kicked out of France because the CIA was secretly supporting the FLN…supplying them inside information about French counter-terrorist groups and give them plastique and other nice things…just as they did later with the Quebec Libré people in Canada. The French png’ed him…

GD: What?

RTC: Persona non grata. Not wanted in the country. Then he did his Newsweek work and got to know Kennedy and wrote some puff pieces for him and got on the inside track there. In the early ‘60’s Helms told Bradlee that one of his relatives wanted to sell Newsweek and Bradlee brokered the deal with the Post people. We had a firm in with the Post and now with Newsweek, a powerful opinion molder and a high-circulation national magazine. Then there was the towpath murder. Cord’s ex-wife was one of Kennedy’s women and everyone felt she had too much influence with him, not to mention her hippifying him with LSD and marijuana. We can discuss the Kennedy business some other time but Mary was threatening to talk and you know about the rest. Good old Ben and his friend Jim went to Mary’s little converted garage studio, which Ben just happened to own, and finally found her diary. They took it away and just as well they did. She had it all down in there, every bit of the drugs use, all kinds of bad things JFK told her as pillow talk and her inside knowledge of the hit. Not good.

GD: If you want to talk about the Kennedy business, Robert, I am perfectly willing to listen.

RTC: But I am not perfectly willing to talk at this point. We can get to it little by little, Gregory. Ben got to be vice president of the Post company and retired with honor and plenty of money.

GD: The diary?

RTC: Jim burned the original but made a copy. Makes interesting reading. It gives you different view of Camelot, believe me. What the American public doesn’t know, cannot hurt them, can it?

GD: No it can’t but if….do you still have your copy?

RTC: Now, now, Gregory. I don’t want a black bag job here. I’m too old to start shooting at mysterious burglars, or even being shot by them.

GD: This has been very interesting today, Robert.

RTC: An old man has little left sometimes but his memories.

GD: Do an autobiography, why not?

RTC” I don’t feel like committing suicide, Gregory, and I signed the paper keeping me from writing about any of this.

GD: But I haven’t.

RTC: No, you haven’t. Let’s call it a day for now, Gregory. I’m a little tired now. The Swiss have been working their microwave transmissions overtime.

GD: ‘Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof,’ Robert. I’ll be out of town for a few days so I’ll get back in touch next week.

RTC: Have a nice trip and thanks for the call.


(Concluded at 10:57 AM CST)


Hacker fulfills threat to dump data on 20K FBI agents

February 8, 2016

by Katie Bo Williams :

The Hill

An anonymous hacker on Monday made good on his threat to post the details of 20,000 FBI employees online, less than 24 hours after he dumped the data for 10,000 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) personnel.

The hacker, who claims to have obtained the information by hacking the Department of Justice, shared both datasets with Motherboard in advance of the hack. The publication performed a spot check and found that most of the names, email addresses and job descriptions — including around 1,000 intelligence analysts — appear to be legitimate.

Officials have downplayed the alleged breach.

A DHS spokesperson said this morning that the agency is looking into the purported disclosure but that “there is no indication at this time that there is any breach of sensitive or personally identifiable information.”

A Department of Justice spokesperson provided an almost-identical statement to Motherboard.

The hacker told Motherboard that he obtained the data by first compromising a Department of Justice email account, then tricking an agency representative into giving him a token code that allowed him to gain access to the work computer of the email account owner.

Tweets from the Twitter account tweeting out the databases suggest that the hack was motivated by support for Palestine.

i think the government can hear #FreePalestine now hahhaha” the account tweeted on Monday.

When will the US government realize we won’t stop until they cut relations with Israel,” the account tweeted on Sunday.

Another group of hackers, known as Crackas with Attitude, have recently broken into the personal email accounts of several high-ranking law enforcement and intelligence officials to demonstrate support for Palestine.


Moscow shared MH17 radar images, Dutch probe ignored evidence, Russia tells victims’ relatives

February 9, 2016


Moscow provided the Netherlands with radar and other data on the MH17 crash but it has all been ignored, a Russian aviation official said, responding to the relatives of Dutch victims who recently wrote to President Vladimir Putin.

Oleg Storchevoy, the deputy head of Rosaviatsia, the agency representing Russia in the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash investigation, has personally addressed the relatives of the victims in a lengthy letter.

“I would like to emphasize that Russia is strongly committed to establishing the actual cause of the crash, and has consistently done everything in its power to help find out the truth, both throughout the course of the technical investigation and following its official completion,” he said.

Desperate for answers that would shed the light on who fired the BUK missile that allegedly hit the passenger plane on July 17, 2014, and dissatisfied with the slow-moving Dutch probe, the relatives have turned to the heads of several states, including Russia’s. On January 22, they sent a letter to Putin, asking about the primary data from radars and satellites, which they think is crucial.

“We did not impose any conditions or restrictions regarding further use and disclosure of radar data, records of phone conversations and other data we submitted to the Dutch Safety Board (DSB) at its request. Moreover, Russia has stored all that data to this day, and is willing to provide it once again to the relevant authorities,” said Storchevoy.

In mid-January, the relatives wrote to Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, demanding a global campaign to obtain radar images that could help identify those responsible for the death of their loved ones.

We can’t accept that people have refused to provide crucial information,” they wrote.

Only radar data available is Russia’s’

While the Russian authorities were not involved in controlling the fatal flight, they still soon became de-facto participants of the investigation due to the unique information obtained from radars in Rostov-on-Don, a Russian city not far from the Ukrainian border.

“I would like to stress that Russia disclosed all of its available satellite data in the days immediately following the crash,” said Storchevoy.

Rosaviatsia’s deputy head stressed that the Russian radar data was the only such data available to the Dutch investigators, as it appeared that Ukraine’s radar stations “for unknown reasons” were not functioning on July 17. Neither did Ukrainian authorities have any backup system to maintain flight safety in the military zone.

Dutch report ignored Russia’s data

Having provided the radar data and phone records requested by the Dutch, Russia has never prohibited the Netherlands from either sharing with other states or publishing the information generally, Storchevoy said.

However, this evidence appears not to have been reflected in the Dutch Safety Board’s (DSB) final report, released in October.

Russia is still ready to provide the same data, which it collects in video files in accordance with domestic regulations, to any authorized parties.

Moscow has also published the satellite images from July 2014 that showed Ukrainian BUK missile systems maneuvering in the conflict zone close to the site of the crash. It had handed the same images over to the DSB. However, this evidence has been ignored as well.

“This data confirms, among other things, that there was movement and increased activity by Ukrainian Buk surface-to-air missile systems observed within the conflict area in Eastern Ukraine one day ahead of the tragedy,” Storchevoy mentioned.

“Russia shared that information with the Dutch Safety Board, but once its final report was released, it turned out the DSB had chosen not to consider Russian satellite data or even include them in the report,” he added.

Netherlands drags out probe, delays final report

Speaking of Russia’s efforts, the Rosaviatsia officials accused the DSB of leaving a number of important questions unanswered, of distorting the facts and of deliberately carrying out the probe at a sluggish pace.

Storchevoy has called on Ukraine and the US to provide the information they have. He said Washington “must” share satellite images that it claims it has, while Kiev should either share its radar data or prove that it doesn’t have it.

“As far as the quality of the technical inquiry is concerned, I must point out that, in a totally inexplicable fashion, its final report leaves the most important question unanswered: How far is Ukraine responsible for failing to close its airspace? The report is extremely vague regarding the responsibility of the government in Kiev,” Storchevoy said.

Russia extremely interested in truth

In his address to the relatives of Dutch victims, Storchevoy has stressed Russia’s commitment to uncover the truth. Even after the end of the official probe, he said, Moscow is still going out of its way to find answers to major questions.

Moscow provided data from all of its radars that recorded the MH17 flight to the Dutch Safety Board in August 2014, shortly after the catastrophe, Storchevoy said.

Aside from that, Almaz-Antey, the manufacturers of the 9N314M BUK missile that the investigation said downed the plane, have staged two real-life tests. They involved decommissioned aircraft and BUK anti-aircraft missiles to verify whether missile systems currently deployed by Russian troops could have been involved in the downing of the Malaysian Airlines aircraft.

However, the results of these tests have also been ignored, as has Russia’s invitation to the Dutch investigators to participate.

Storchevoy has urged the relatives of the MH17 victims to not give up on their efforts to dig out the truth and to demand maximum transparency from both Dutch authorities and their partners in the probe.

“Russia has repeatedly pointed out that the Dutch technical investigation was performed in an extremely nontransparent and biased manner. We support you in your efforts to get answers to the numerous questions that remain unanswered,” he said.

The Netherlands is finalizing its second, criminal investigation into the MH17 incident, which is likely to point fingers at specific suspects. The crash killed nearly 300 passengers and crew members on July 17, 2014 in the Donetsk Region of Eastern Ukraine. A majority of those killed in the crash were Dutch citizens.

Rather than pointing fingers, Storchevoy says it would be better for the DSB to answer questions regarding why the investigation took so long and why they hid certain pieces of information.

“The Dutch authorities should explain why they distorted facts and concealed data, and why they ignored important data provided by Russia. The DSB should explain why its final report distorted data about missile fragments and places where they were found, why it failed to thoroughly examine penetration holes on the aircraft, why it mismanaged the aircraft debris, why it misrepresented the probable location from which the missile was launched, and many other discrepancies in the final report,” Storchevoy concluded.


West’s military advantage is being eroded, survey warns

The west is losing its advantage in weapons technology as defence spending in Asia and other regions soars, survey says

February 9, 2016

by Richard Norton-Taylor

The Guardian

The west’s decades-long advantage in military technology is being eroded as defence spending in the rest of the world, notably Asia, soars, an authoritative survey has warned.

The latest annual Military Balance by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) shows advances in weapons-related technology, once the preserve of the west – including cruise missiles, unmanned drones and electronic warfare – are becoming increasingly accessible to more and more countries.

The number of countries known to operate UAVs has doubled over the past five years, and China has exported them to Iraq and Nigeria.

Western military technological superiority, a core assumption of the past two decades, is eroding”, John Chipman, IISS director general, told a London press conference. “Slowing this emerging trend or reversing it will be a key preoccupation of western strategists in the coming decade.”

Britain is trying to stay ahead of the curve by developing the Zephyr high-altitude “pseudo-satellite” – a solar-powered surveillance drone operating at the edge of space – while the US is developing “swarming UAVs” (unmanned aerial vehicles) combining cheap structures with sophisticated electronics, the survey notes.

The Pentagon, meanwhile, is looking to the private sector for help, setting up a “Defence Information Unit-Experimental” to help it “leverage best lessons from Silicon Valley on issues like big data, analytics, autonomy and robotics”, notes the IISS survey.

These technologies are seen as having uses “across the full spectrum of conflict, able as much … to trawl social media posts by a terrorist group … or produce systems to better enable concepts like prompt global strike”.

Prompt global strike, or PGS, would deliver a precision-guided conventional weapon anywhere in the world within an hour. It has been condemned by Russia and criticised by some independent analysts because of the potential danger of mistaking the missile for a nuclear weapon.

According to the survey:

The rise in Russia’s defence budget last year accounted for about 20% of the total worldwide increase in military spending, though it followed years of neglect and from a relatively low base.

Asia now spends nearly $100bn (£69bn) more on defence than Nato’s European members.

The number of army battalions in the biggest Nato countries and in US forces in Europe has fallen from 649 to 185 over the past 15 years.

Since 1991, the number of British combat aircraft has fallen from 475 to 194, and the number of French warplanes from 579 to 271.

It calls for better cooperation between Nato and the EU. “For many of the issues that preoccupy Nato’s East – such as hybrid threats from Russia – the EU possesses many of the capabilities that Nato does not, including a wide range of development, security, and justice, tools,” it says.

The survey adds that “Isis, and the groups around the world that have pledged allegiance to it, cannot be eradicated solely by military means.” Tackling these groups, it says, “will require multinational attention and the concerted and long-term application of policies and tools blending political, military, security, information, and development capacities, and agreement on ends as well as means”. The track record on such cooperation, it notes, is mixed at best.


Facebook hit by French privacy order

February 9, 2016


Facebook has been given three months to stop tracking non-members of its social network without their consent in France.

Last year, it made changes to the way the site is viewed in Belgium following a similar order from the Belgian Privacy Commissioner.

The French data protection body also demanded stronger password complexity, requiring at least eight characters rather than the existing six.

Facebook said privacy was its priority.

“Protecting the privacy of the people who use Facebook is at the heart of everything we do. We… look forward to engaging with the CNIL [French data protection authority – Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertes] to respond to their concerns,” a spokeswoman said.

The social network tracks everyone who visits the site, regardless of whether they are members, by installing cookies – small text files which gather information about web activity.

The type used by Facebook, known as datr, can last for two years.

In Belgium, visitors to the site must now log on before they can view any pages.

The CNIL also told the firm to cease the transfer of some personal data to the US, as the Safe Harbour agreement has ended. Facebook has repeatedly stated that it uses other legal contracts to transfer data to the US.

The agreement, which enabled the transfer of data between the EU and US, was ruled invalid in October 2015, and while a new pact has been drawn up, it is not yet operational.

If Facebook fails to comply with the French privacy body within the three-month time frame it may face a fine, Reuters reported.


Official Government Control of the Internet

by Harry von Johston, PhD

Controlling information and spying on citizens have always been used by totalitarian regimes in the 20th century. But now, even purported democratic states are adopting dictatorial techniques to their own systems, both for self-preservation and the acquiring of more complete domestic power. 

In the last twenty years , as  domestic communication has moved  from traditional landlines, telephone  phone calls, and postal service to cell phones and emailing, world governments have more easily increased survillance over their populations  and intelligence- gathering agencies have rapidly increased their wiretapping skills with the willing, often eager, assistance of all  major telecommunications companies.  Organizations such Nokia, Sprint, Facebook, Google – have helped government intelligence  agencies intercept and inspect an immense amount of personal data,

In many areas of the globe; the US, UK and the EU, governments continually monitor their citizen’s communications.

On the surface, of course there are legal restrictions that must be cleared for such observations to be installed but once they are cleared, always without difficulty,  governments are legally allowed to spy on anyone and everyone. Spying by governments is very easy to perform by dealing with the servers of corporate giants like Google.. The government spies do not have direct access to current lines of communication, but the current systems have allowed automated detection and recording. By requiring companies like Facebook, Google, Sprint, etc to grant them automated backdoor access to their technologies, government agencies all around the world know that they have the second-hand means to browse through billions of communications on a daily basis. Email subject lines, mobile phone, GPS locations, call histories – all this digital information is scanned, classified and stored in secure systems for current and future use. As a case in point, Sprint-Nextel provided US agencies with 8 million requests for cell phone GPS location information in 2008-2009 alone. 

In an interview with Russia Today, Julian Assange, head of WikiLeaks recently stated that other tech companies, such as Facebook, are so accessible to US intelligence agencies that they act as de facto information gathering sources –

In a quick reality check, neither WikiLeaks nor Russia Today are particularly fond of US government activity, and it’s not surprising that both would critique the US government for invading online privacy.

The EU’s massive Project Indect is a case in point. This project will require major telecom companies in the EU to actively assist them in establishing automated data mining for mobiles, email, and all social networks.  If an American sends an email message to anyone in the EU , it’s going to get looked at by an intelligence agency computer, and if it sets off a warning, based upon addressee or subject, a human will look at it as well.

In 2008, Nokia sold Iran the wiretapping protocols and equipment they would need to monitor their citizens’ phone calls.

In 2004-2005, during the Grecian elections, certain known groups were able to monitor the calls of elected Greek representatives. They did so by illegally hacking into Ericsson’s wiretapping capabilities – capabilities that were required, and demanded, by the Greek government.

When Google was the victim of a cyber-attack based out of China.the hackers exploited wiretapping protocols Google built into their systems by order of the US government.

These examples highlight how ongoing compliance with wiretapping laws make telecommunications companies more vulnerable to cyber spying in general. A trap door granting access to, let us say, the FBI, NSA or DHS also can be used by other, non-government hackers. 

It has been very reliably reported that  Sweden , at the request of the US government,  has been entirely cooperative with foreign intelligence agencies because 80% of the traffic from Russia to the US passes through Swedish systems.

Note that no commercial computer system can be considered as a safe means of transmitting secure information.

Companies like Google, and the collapsing Yahoo, were certainly enlisted to help the dictatorial Chinese to observe computer activity on the part of their citizens and this was done at the strong behest of American authorities who, in turn, were pressured by a Chinese government that controlled a goodly part of American governmental financing They were also legally pressured to comply with wiretapping laws in the US and EU.

And as an aside, Julian Assanage, an Australian citizen, was recruited by the U.S. Army’s  DARPA program to spy on the PRC. When Assange went out on his own, the government went after him, intending to stuff him in a Federal prision where he could not tell what he had collected or worse, what he might do with the information.

Facebook and other major social network businesses have offices in  Washington DC, where they enrich the K Street bribe merchants to  influence govermental agencies whose activities affect their industries. Governments pressure businesses, businesses use large amounts of cash to bribe government officials.

There is no question that governments have the technical ability to, and do, paw through billions of online communications looking for criminal activity, political dissidents and possible intelligence coups.

Some time ago, an FBI fellow specializing in computers, told me, specifically that the FBI had set up, and totally controlled, Internet II. He also said that any large social network, like Facebook, worked very closely with the Bureau to build up files on any and all Americans they could.

This was not to spy on them daily but to have material on people without the trouble of wearing out shoe leather. Facebook and Google are both “strongly influenced” by governmental wishes. With Google, they have automatic programs built into their search engines so that when the FBI, the CIA or the DHS want to know who is interested in any subject they target, that a viewer’s email address and the subject of interest is automatically forwarded to the agency expressing an interest.

I would recommend, strongly, that lonely ones ought to stay away from Twitter, Facebook and other sites for the reason that they will automatically be entered on the lists of potential suspects.

And I also suggest that both Silverlight and Microsoft 10 are systems to avoid in the interest of security.


US intelligence chief: we might use the internet of things to spy on you

James Clapper did not name specific agency as being involved in surveillance via smart-home devices but said in congressional testimony it is a distinct possibility

February 9, 2016

by Spewncer Ackerman and Sam Thielman

The Guardian

The US intelligence chief has acknowledged for the first time that agencies might use a new generation of smart household devices to increase their surveillance capabilities.

As increasing numbers of devices connect to the internet and to one another, the so-called internet of things promises consumers increased convenience – the remotely operated thermostat from Google-owned Nest is a leading example. But as home computing migrates away from the laptop, the tablet and the smartphone, experts warn that the security features on the coming wave of automobiles, dishwashers and alarm systems lag far behind.

In an appearance at a Washington thinktank last month, the director of the National Security Agency, Adm Michael Rogers, said that it was time to consider making the home devices “more defensible”, but did not address the opportunities that increased numbers and even categories of connected devices provide to his surveillance agency.

However, James Clapper, the US director of national intelligence, was more direct in testimony submitted to the Senate on Tuesday as part of an assessment of threats facing the United States.

In the future, intelligence services might use the [internet of things] for identification, surveillance, monitoring, location tracking, and targeting for recruitment, or to gain access to networks or user credentials,” Clapper said.

Clapper did not specifically name any intelligence agency as involved in household-device surveillance. But security experts examining the internet of things take as a given that the US and other surveillance services will intercept the signals the newly networked devices emit, much as they do with those from cellphones. Amateurs are already interested in easily compromised hardware; computer programmer John Matherly’s search engine Shodan indexes thousands of completely unsecured web-connected devices.

Online threats again topped the intelligence chief’s list of “worldwide threats” the US faces, with the mutating threat of low-intensity terrorism quickly following. While Clapper has for years used the equivocal term “evolving” when asked about the scope of the threat, he said Tuesday that Sunni violent extremism “has more groups, members, and safe havens than at any other point in history”.

The Islamic State topped the threat index, but Clapper also warned that the US-backed Saudi war in Yemen was redounding to the benefit of al-Qaida’s local affiliate.

Domestically, “homegrown extremists” are the greatest terrorist threat, rather than Islamic State or al-Qaida attacks planned from overseas. Clapper cited the San Bernardino and Chattanooga shootings as examples of lethal operations emanating from self-starting extremists “without direct guidance from [Isis] leadership”.

US intelligence officials did not foresee Isis suffering significant setbacks in 2016 despite a war in Syria and Iraq that the Pentagon has pledged to escalate. The chief of defense intelligence, Marine Lt Gen Vincent Stewart, said the jihadist army would “probably retain Sunni Arab urban centers” in 2016, even as military leaders pledged to wrest the key cities of Raqqa and Mosul from it.

Contradicting the US defense secretary, Ashton Carter, Stewart said he was “less optimistic in the near term about Mosul”, saying the US and Iraqi government would “certainly not” retake it in 2016.

The negative outlook comes as Carter met on Tuesday with his fellow defense chiefs in Brussels to discuss increasing their contributions against Isis.

On the Iran nuclear deal, Clapper said intelligence agencies were in a “distrust and verify mode”, but added: “We have no evidence thus far that they’re moving toward violation.”Clapper’s admission about the surveillance potential for networked home devices is rare for a US official. But in an overlooked 2012 speech, the then CIA director David Petraeus called the surveillance implications of the internet of things “transformational … particularly to their effect on clandestine tradecraft”.

During testimony to both the Senate armed services committee and the intelligence panel, Clapper cited Russia, China, Iran, North Korea and the Islamic State as bolstering their online espionage, disinformation, theft, propaganda and data-destruction capabilities. He warned that the US’s ability to correctly attribute the culprits of those actions would probably diminish with “improving offensive tradecraft, the use of proxies, and the creation of cover organizations”.

Clapper suggested that US adversaries had overtaken its online capabilities: “Russia and China continue to have the most sophisticated cyber programs.”

The White House’s new cybersecurity initiative, unveiled on Tuesday, pledged increased security for nontraditional networked home devices. It tasked the Department of Homeland Security to “test and certify networked devices within the ‘Internet of Things’.” It did not discuss any tension between the US’s twin cybersecurity and surveillance priorities.

Connected household devices are a potential treasure trove to intelligence agencies seeking unobtrusive ways to listen and watch a target, according to a study that Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society released last week. The study found that the signals explosion represented by the internet of things would overwhelm any privacy benefits by users of commercial encryption – even as Clapper in his testimony again alleged that the growth of encryption was having a “negative effect on intelligence gathering”.

The report’s authors cited a 2001 case in which the FBI had sought to compel a company that makes emergency communications hardware for automobiles – similar by description to OnStar, though the company was not named – to assist agents in Nevada in listening in on conversations in a client’s car.

In February 2015, news reports revealed that microphones on Samsung “smart” televisions were “always on” so as to receive any audio that it could interpret as an instruction.

Law enforcement or intelligence agencies may start to seek orders compelling Samsung, Google, Mattel, Nest or vendors of other networked devices to push an update or flip a digital switch to intercept the ambient communications of a target,” the authors wrote.


Two, Three… Many Flints:  America’s Coast-to-Coast Toxic Crisis

by David Rosner and Gerald Markowitz


I know if I was a parent up there, I would be beside myself if my kids’ health could be at risk,” said President Obama on a recent trip to Michigan.  “Up there” was Flint, a rusting industrial city in the grip of a “water crisis” brought on by a government austerity scheme.  To save a couple of million dollars, that city switched its source of water from Lake Huron to the Flint River, a long-time industrial dumping ground for the toxic industries that had once made their home along its banks.  Now, the city is enveloped in a public health emergency, with elevated levels of lead in its water supply and in the blood of its children.

The price tag for replacing the lead pipes that contaminated its drinking water, thanks to the corrosive toxins found in the Flint River, is now estimated at up to $1.5 billion. No one knows where that money will come from or when it will arrive.  In the meantime, the cost to the children of Flint has been and will be incalculable.   As little as a few specks of lead in the water children drink or in flakes of paint that come off the walls of old houses and are ingested can change the course of a life. The amount of lead dust that covers a thumbnail is enough to send a child into a coma or into convulsions leading to death. It takes less than a tenth of that amount to cause IQ loss, hearing loss, or behavioral problems like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and dyslexia. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the government agency responsible for tracking and protecting the nation’s health, says simply, “No safe blood lead level in children has been identified.”

President Obama would have good reason to worry if his kids lived in Flint. But the city’s children are hardly the only ones threatened by this public health crisis.  There’s a lead crisis for children in Baltimore, Maryland, Herculaneum, Missouri, Sebring, Ohio, and even the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., and that’s just to begin a list.  State reports suggest, for instance, that “18 cities in Pennsylvania and 11 in New Jersey may have an even higher share of children with dangerously elevated levels of lead than does Flint.” Today, scientists agree that there is no safe level of lead for children and at least half of American children have some of this neurotoxin in their blood.  The CDC is especially concerned about the more than 500,000 American children who have substantial amounts of lead in their bodies. Over the past century, an untold number have had their IQs reduced, their school performances limited, their behaviors altered, and their neurological development undermined. From coast to coast, from the Sun Belt to the Rust Belt, children have been and continue to be imperiled by a century of industrial production, commercial gluttony, and abandonment by the local, state, and federal governments that should have protected them.  Unlike in Flint, the “crisis” seldom comes to public attention.

Two, Three… Many Flints

In Flint, the origins of the current crisis lay in the history of auto giant General Motors (GM) and its rise in the middle decades of the twentieth century to the status of the world’s largest corporation. GM’s Buick plant alone once occupied “an area almost a mile and a half long and half a mile wide,” according to the Chicago Tribune, and several Chevrolet and other GM plants literally covered the waterfront of “this automotive city.” Into the Flint River went the toxic wastes of factories large and small, which once supplied batteries, paints, solders, glass, fabrics, oils, lubricating fluids, and a multitude of other materials that made up the modern car. In these plants strung out along the banks of the Flint and Saginaw rivers and their detritus lay the origins of the present public health emergency.

The crisis that attracted President Obama’s attention is certainly horrifying, but the children of Flint have been poisoned in one way or another for at least 80 years. Three generations of those children living around Chevrolet Avenue in the old industrial heart of the city experienced an environment filled with heavy metal toxins that cause neurological conditions in them and cardiovascular problems in adults.

As Michael Moore documented in his film Roger and Me, GM abandoned Flint in a vain attempt to stave off financial disaster.  Having sucked its people dry, the company ditched the city, leaving it to deal with a polluted hell without the means to do so.  Like other industrial cities that have suffered this kind of abandonment, Flint’s population is majority African American and Latino, and has a disproportionate number of families living below the poverty line. Of its 100,000 residents, 65% are African American and Latino and 42% are mired in poverty.

The president should be worried about Flint’s children and local, state, and federal authorities need to fix the pipes, sewers, and water supply of the city. Technically, this is a feasible, if expensive, proposition. It’s already clear, however, that the political will is just not there even for this one community. Gina McCarthy, the Environmental Protection Agency’s administrator, has refused to provide Flint’s residents with even a prospective timetable for replacing their pipes and making their water safe. There is, however, a far graver problem that is even less easy to fix: the mix of racism and corporate greed that have put lead and other pollutants into millions of homes in the United States. The scores of endangered kids in Flint are just the tip of a vast, toxic iceberg.  Even Baltimore, which first identified its lead poisoning epidemic in the 1930s, still faces a crisis, especially in largely African American communities, when it comes to the lead paint in its older housing stock.

Just this month, Maryland’s secretary of housing, community, and development, Kenneth C. Holt, dismissed the never-ending lead crisis in Baltimore by callously suggesting that it might all be a shuck.  A mother, he said, might fake such poisoning by putting “a lead fishing weight in her child’s mouth [and] then take the child in for testing.” Such a tactic, he indicated, without any kind of proof, was aimed at making landlords “liable for providing the child with [better] housing.” Unfortunately, the attitudes of Holt and Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan have proven all too typical of the ways in which America’s civic and state leaders have tended to ignore, dismiss, or simply deny the real suffering of children, especially those who are black and Latino, when it comes to lead and other toxic chemicals.

There is, in fact, a grim broader history of lead poisoning in America.  It was probably the most widely dispersed environmental toxin that affected children in this country.  In part, this was because, for decades during the middle of the twentieth century, it was marketed as an essential ingredient in industrial society, something without which none of us could get along comfortably.  Those toxic pipes in Flint are hardly the only, or even the primary, source of danger to children left over from that era.

In the 1920s, tetraethyl lead was introduced as an additive for gasoline.  It was lauded at the time as a “gift of God” by a representative of the Ethyl Corporation, a creation of GM, Standard Oil, and Dupont, the companies that invented, produced, and marketed the stuff. Despite warnings that this industrial toxin might pollute the planet, which it did, almost three-quarters of a century would pass before it was removed from gasoline in the United States. During that time, spewed out of the tailpipes of hundreds of millions of cars and trucks, it tainted the soil that children played in and was tracked onto floors that toddlers touched.  Banned from use in the 1980s, it still lurks in the environment today.

Meanwhile, homes across the country were tainted by lead in quite a different way. Lead carbonate, a white powder, was mixed with linseed oil to create the paint that was used in the nation’s homes, hospitals, schools, and other buildings until 1978.  Though its power to harm and even kill children who sucked on lead-painted windowsills, toys, cribs, and woodwork had long been known, it was only in that year that the federal government banned its use in household paints.

Hundreds of tons of the lead in paint that covered the walls of houses, apartment buildings, and workplaces across the United States remains in place almost four decades later, especially in poorer neighborhoods where millions of African American and Latino children currently live.  Right now, most middle class white families feel relatively immune from the dangers of lead, although the gentrification of old neighborhoods and the renovation of old homes can still expose their children to dangerous levels of lead dust from the old paint on those walls. However, economically and politically vulnerable black and Hispanic children, many of whom inhabit dilapidated older housing, still suffer disproportionately from the devastating effects of the toxin. This is the meaning of institutional racism in action today.  As with the water flowing into homes from the pipes of Flint’s water system, so the walls of its apartment complexes, not to mention those in poor neighborhoods of Detroit, Baltimore, Washington, and virtually every other older urban center in the country, continue to poison children exposed to lead-polluted dust, chips, soil, and air.

Over the course of the past century, tens of millions of children have been poisoned by lead and millions more remain in danger of it today. Add to this the risks these same children face from industrial toxins like mercury, asbestos, and polychlorinated biphenyls (better known as PCBs) and you have an ongoing recipe for a Flint-like disaster but on a national scale.

In truth, the United States has scores of “Flints” awaiting their moments.  Think of them as ticking toxic time bombs — just an austerity scheme or some official’s poor decision away from a public health disaster.  Given this, it’s remarkable, even in the wake of Flint, how little attention or publicity such threats receive.  Not surprisingly, then, there seems to be virtually no political will to ensure that future generations of children will not suffer the same fate as those in Flint. 

The Future of America’s Toxic Past

A series of decisions by state and local officials turned Flint’s chronic post-industrial crisis into a total public health disaster. If clueless, corrupt, or heartless government officials get all the blame for this (and blame they do deserve), the larger point will unfortunately be missed — that there are many post-industrial Flints, many other hidden tragedies affecting America’s children that await their moments in the news. Treat Flint as an anomaly and you condemn families nationwide to bear the damage to their children alone, abandoned by a society unwilling to invest in cleaning up a century of industrial pollution, or even to acknowledge the injustice involved.

Flint may be years away from a solution to its current crisis, but in a few cities elsewhere in the country there is at least a modicum of hope when it comes to developing ways to begin to address this country’s poisonous past. In California, for example, 10 cities and counties, including San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles, and Oakland, have successfully sued and won an initial judgment against three lead pigment manufacturers for $1.15 billion. That money will be invested in removing lead paint from the walls of homes in these cities. If this judgment is upheld on appeal, it would be an unprecedented and pathbreaking victory, since it would force a polluting industry to clean up the mess it created and from which it profited.

There have been other partial victories, too. In Herculaneum, Missouri, for instance, where half the children within a mile of the nation’s largest lead smelter suffered lead poisoning, jurors returned a $320 million verdict against Fluor Corporation, one of the world’s largest construction and engineering firms. That verdict is also on appeal, while the company has moved its smelter to Peru where whole new populations are undoubtedly being poisoned.

President Obama hit the nail on the head with his recent comments on Flint, but he also missed the larger point. There he was just a few dozen miles from that city’s damaged water system when he spoke in Detroit, another symbol of corporate abandonment with its own grim toxic legacy. Thousands of homes in the Motor City, the former capital of the auto industry, are still lead paint disaster areas. Perhaps it’s time to widen the canvas when it comes to the poisoning of America’s children and face the terrible human toll caused by “the American century.”


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