TBR News September 8, 2013

Sep 08 2013


Controlling the News


        Washington, D.C. September 7, 2013: “Poor Obama and his red line! He is copying Bush and his merry band of garden slugs and trying to convince everyone that he has to blast Syria to Save the World for Justice, Peace and Peanut Butter sandwiches. That no one believes him and, worse for him, no one cares, will prove to be a bitter dose of reality. Obama is trying to help Israel get rid of a perceived enemy while at the same time, sticking out his tongue at Vladimir Putin. The Russian President showed him up by refusing his strident demands to ship whistleblower Snowden back to the U.S.in a bag. And note that Obama, who authorized the widespread snooping into your personal life, refuses to back down. He simply ignores the issue and hopes his good friends at the New York Times will find other topics more of immediate interest to distract the public with. And it is now very strongly believed inside the Beltway that Syria is planning to use BW in the event of a US attack. It is known that she has smallpox virus that was stolen from a Swiss vaccine lab some time ago. If the intelligence community is correct, this would be a disaster. It would not take an expensive and impossible to hide missile launching system. One of my Army friends told me yesterday that a single person, say carrying a UK passport, got off an international flight at Dulles, took a shuttle into downtown Washington and dropped a thin glass vial of virus into a crowded shopping mall or at a place like the Union Station at commute time. Even the brilliant DHS could not stop this whereas some kind of a missile could be interdicted. A missile, unless it had an atomic warhead, could never kill as many people as an outbreak of smallpox. The old vaccines have worn off and need to be reupped but vaccine available would only be enough for the President, his family and the Really Important DC figures. We all know why Kerry wants to attack Syria. He is Jewish and fully supports his co-religionists in Israel. Obama is simply clueless.”




Poll: Potential U.S. Military Strike in Syria Most Unpopular in 20 years


Obama has uphill climb to convince public, Congress about Syria


September 6, 2013

by Rebekah Metzler

US News


Support for U.S. military strikes in Syria is lower than any other intervention in the last 20 years, according to a new poll.

Just 36 percent of Americans support President Barack Obama’s call for air strikes against Syrian President Bashar Assad, who the U.S. claims used chemical weapons to kill about 1,400 Syrians, including more than 400 children, according to a Gallup survey released Friday. Obama said he would seek congressional approval before moving ahead with the intervention, but faces stiff opposition from members, the public and the international community.

 “Failing to respond to this breach of this international norm would send a signal to rogue nations, authoritarian regimes and terrorist organizations that they can develop and use weapons of mass destruction and not pay a consequence,” Obama said Friday during a news conference at the G-20 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia. “And that’s not the world that we want to live in.”

 The negative public opinion underscores why the president said he would address the public Tuesday to lay out his case for the intervention.

Gallup compiled public opinion on other recent military operations – from the Iraq War to Kosovo – all of which had more support than Obama’s plan for Syria.


Views on Proposed U.S. Military Actions Before Commencement of Such Actions


          Country/Region           Polling dates       Favor       Oppose     No opinion 


                                                                                 %             %                %

            Syria                            Sep 3-4, 2013          36              51                13


            Iraq                             Feb 24-26, 2003     59              37                  4


            Afghanistan                   Oct 5-6 2001         82              14                  4


            Persian Gulf                  Jan 11-13, 1991    62              33                  4


            Kosovo/The Balkans    Feb 19-21, 1999    43              45                12



 In 1999 during the Clinton administration, 43 percent of people said they supported the mission in Kosovo and the Balkans. But all three wars started under Bush administrations earned well over 50 percent support: George H.W. Bush’s Persian Gulf War had 62 percent support in 1991; George W. Bush’s war in Afghanistan, launched in the wake of 9/11, earned 82 percent support; and his Iraq War received 59 percent support.

 “Over the past 20 years, Americans’ support for U.S. military engagements at the beginning of conflicts has traditionally been quite high, with an average of 68 percent of approving of 10 previous newly commenced conflicts,” said Andrew Dugan, a polling analyst for Gallup in a memo accompanying the survey results.

 But support for military conflicts doesn’t remain static, Dugan said.

“The 1999 Kosovo-Balkans and 2003 Iraq conflicts are the clearest examples of the rally effect,” he said. “Americans’ backing of the bombing campaign in the former Yugoslavia climbed to majority levels once the United States became militarily involved. The 2003 Iraq War is even more dramatic.”

In February 2003, support for the Iraq War was at 56 percent, but by mid-March, it had climbed to 66 percent and after the began it soared to 76 percent, according to Gallup.

The new poll surveyed 1,021 adults on Sept. 3-4 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.


As Syria deteriorates, neighbors fear bioweapons threat

September 4, 2013

by Joby Warrick 

Washington Post


Last month’s alleged chemical attack near Damascus has re­focused attention on Syria’s 30-year-old biological weapons research and raised concerns about whether the government there could activate an effort to make a weapon.

 Syria’s bioweapons program, which U.S. officials believe has been largely dormant since the 1980s, is likely to possess the key ingredients for a weapon, including a collection of lethal bacteria and viruses as well as the modern equipment needed to covert them into deadly powders and aerosols, according to U.S. and Middle Eastern officials and weapons experts

This latent capability has begun to worry some of Syria’s neighbors, especially after allegations that the regime of President Bashar al-Assad used internationally banned chemical weapons against civilians in an Aug. 21 attack.

 Top intelligence officials in two Middle East countries said they have examined the potential for bioweapons use by Syria, perhaps as retaliation for Western military strikes on Damascus. Although dwarfed by the country’s larger and better-known chemical weapons program, Syria’s bioweapons capability could offer the Assad regime a way to retaliate because the weapons are designed to spread easily and leave few clues about their origins, the officials said.

 “We are worried about sarin, but Syria also has biological weapons, and compared to those, sarin is nothing,” said a senior Middle Eastern official, who like several others interviewed for this report agreed to discuss intelligence assessments on the condition that his name and nationality not be revealed. “We know it, and others in the region know it. The Americans certainly know it.”

 U.S. officials acknowledge the possibility of a latent bioweapons capability but are divided about whether Syria is capable of a sophisticated attack.

 Historically, at least a half-dozen countries have manufactured biological weapons, including the United States, Britain and Russia, all of which abandoned their programs. Syria is one of the few countries that Western intelligence agencies suspect continued some research.

 Syria appeared to publicly acknowledge its biological weapons capability in an unusual statement in July 2012 by the country’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Jihad Makdissi. Responding to Western reports about Syria’s chemical weapons stocks, Makdissi said in a televised interview that the regime would never use “any chemical and biological weapons” inside Syria. He said the Syrian military was safeguarding “all stocks of these weapons.”

It was the first direct acknowledgment by Syria that such stockpiles might exist, and Makdissi’s voluntary mention of biological weapons took many analysts by surprise. Shortly afterward, the spokesman retracted his remarks in a statement posted on Twitter, saying Syria had no chemical or biological weapons of any kind.

But other governments, including the United States, have long believed that Syria had developed at least a rudimentary biological weapons capability along with its massive stockpile of chemical munitions.

A report prepared for Congress this year by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence concluded that Syria possesses a “longstanding biological weapons program,” adding that parts of it “may have advanced beyond the research and development stage, and may be capable of limited agent production.”

Other intelligence assessments have been more cautious, citing a lack of hard evidence that Syria’s fledgling efforts progressed to “weaponizing” pathogens for use in military rockets and shells. But some officials and independent experts say military biological weapons are not needed to launch a bioterrorist attack on civilians.

“We know that they went at least as far as research and development,” Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said in an interview. “That means they’re far enough along to have capabilities. It doesn’t take a huge leap to get from there to having the ability to weaponize or finding some other way to deliver.”

Syria’s early research on cultivating strains into weapons has been confirmed by multiple Western governments, with U.S. intelligence agencies tracking the country’s efforts through the 1970s and 1980s to counter arch-rival Israel’s nuclear weapons and conventional military dominance. In 2001, a declassified CIA assessment asserted that it was “highly probable” that Syria was developing an “offensive BW capability.” U.S. assessments have frequently cited the Scientific Studies and Research Center in Damascus, a military-run laboratory previously linked to covert programs for research on chemical and nuclear weapons.

A 2008 profile of Syria’s unconventional weapons programs by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies concluded that its military had developed “probable production capacity for anthrax and botulism, and possible other agents.” The report said delivery systems for such weapons were within the grasp of Syria’s armed forces, which have long possessed missiles and rockets tipped with warheads.

“So is the use of proxy or covert delivery,” stated the report, written by Anthony Cordesman, one of the center’s strategic analysts.

Although little is publicly known about the state of Syria’s bioweapons program today — including whether it is active — the country has gained new capabilities in recent years through massive government investments in its pharmaceutical industry. Much of the equipment acquired by Syria’s military laboratories in recent years is regarded as “dual-use” and can be used either for weapons or legitimate research, said Jill Bellamy van Aalst, a scientist and a biodefense consultant to NATO and the European Union.

Van Aalst, who has studied Syria’s weapons facilities for a decade as part of her research for a book, says the country’s bioweapons program, whatever its size, is capable of serious harm. Many of the basic elements have been in place for years, she said, including what she described as a full complement of lethal human and animal strains, from neurotoxin producers such as botulinum to the family of orthopox viruses such as camelpox and cowpox, both cousins to the microbe that causes smallpox.

“You don’t stockpile biological weapons anymore, because today it’s all about production capacity — and in Syria the production capacity is quite substantial,” van Aalst said. “The dual-use nature makes it very cost-effective. In down times, you can use the equipment for public health purposes, knowing you can ramp it up at any time. These are very agile programs.”

Other weapons experts view Syria’s biomedical expansion as intriguing but not necessarily alarming. “Syria has a chemical weapons program, so anything they do is suspect,” said Jeffrey Lewis, a weapons expert at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, Calif. “It’s easy to see the devil behind every woodpile. But I suspect there’s probably not a lot there.”


Syria Chemical Weapons Attack ‘Not Ordered’ by Assad – Report

September 8, 2013

RIA Novosti


BERLIN – German intelligence sources suggest that last month’s alleged chemical weapons attack in Damascus was not ordered by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Bild am Sonntag has reported.

Forces loyal to President Assad had been asking him for four months to use chemical weapons against the rebels, but they still received no approval from the Syrian leader. Therefore, the August 21 attack “might not have been sanctioned by Assad,” the report said.

The newspaper also said citing German intelligence that President Assad is likely to remain in power for a long time, even if the United States conducts military strikes on Syria.

US President Barack Obama recently asked the US Congress to support a limited military intervention in Syria because of the regime’s alleged use of chemical weapons, which the US claims killed over a thousand civilians in one attack on August 21.

The unrest in Syria began in March 2011 and later escalated into a civil war. More than 100,000 people have been killed in the conflict so far, according to UN estimates.







How to remain secure against NSA surveillance

The NSA has huge capabilities – and if it wants in to your computer, it’s in. With that in mind, here are five ways to stay safe


September 5, 2013

by Bruce Schneier



Now that we have enough details about how the NSA eavesdrops on the internet, including today’s disclosures of the NSA’s deliberate weakening of cryptographic systems, we can finally start to figure out how to protect ourselves.

For the past two weeks, I have been working with the Guardian on NSA stories, and have read hundreds of top-secret NSA documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden. I wasn’t part of today’s story – it was in process well before I showed up – but everything I read confirms what the Guardian is reporting.

At this point, I feel I can provide some advice for keeping secure against such an adversary.

The primary way the NSA eavesdrops on internet communications is in the network. That’s where their capabilities best scale. They have invested in enormous programs to automatically collect and analyze network traffic. Anything that requires them to attack individual endpoint computers is significantly more costly and risky for them, and they will do those things carefully and sparingly.

            Leveraging its secret agreements with telecommunications companies – all the US and UK ones, and many other “partners” around the world – the NSA gets access to the communications trunks that move internet traffic. In cases where it doesn’t have that sort of friendly access, it does its best to surreptitiously monitor communications channels: tapping undersea cables, intercepting satellite communications, and so on.

            That’s an enormous amount of data, and the NSA has equivalently enormous capabilities to quickly sift through it all, looking for interesting traffic. “Interesting” can be defined in many ways: by the source, the destination, the content, the individuals involved, and so on. This data is funneled into the vast NSA system for future analysis.

            The NSA collects much more metadata about internet traffic: who is talking to whom, when, how much, and by what mode of communication. Metadata is a lot easier to store and analyze than content. It can be extremely personal to the individual, and is enormously valuable intelligence.

            The Systems Intelligence Directorate is in charge of data collection, and the resources it devotes to this is staggering. I read status report after status report about these programs, discussing capabilities, operational details, planned upgrades, and so on. Each individual problem – recovering electronic signals from fiber, keeping up with the terabyte streams as they go by, filtering out the interesting stuff – has its own group dedicated to solving it. Its reach is global.

            The NSA also attacks network devices directly: routers, switches, firewalls, etc. Most of these devices have surveillance capabilities already built in; the trick is to surreptitiously turn them on. This is an especially fruitful avenue of attack; routers are updated less frequently, tend not to have security software installed on them, and are generally ignored as a vulnerability.

            The NSA also devotes considerable resources to attacking endpoint computers. This kind of thing is done by its TAO – Tailored Access Operations – group. TAO has a menu of exploits it can serve up against your computer – whether you’re running Windows, Mac OS, Linux, iOS, or something else – and a variety of tricks to get them on to your computer. Your anti-virus software won’t detect them, and you’d have trouble finding them even if you knew where to look. These are hacker tools designed by hackers with an essentially unlimited budget. What I took away from reading the Snowden documents was that if the NSA wants in to your computer, it’s in. Period.

            The NSA deals with any encrypted data it encounters more by subverting the underlying cryptography than by leveraging any secret mathematical breakthroughs. First, there’s a lot of bad cryptography out there. If it finds an internet connection protected by MS-CHAP, for example, that’s easy to break and recover the key. It exploits poorly chosen user passwords, using the same dictionary attacks hackers use in the unclassified world.

            As was revealed today, the NSA also works with security product vendors to ensure that commercial encryption products are broken in secret ways that only it knows about. We know this has happened historically: CryptoAG and Lotus Notes are the most public examples, and there is evidence of a back door in Windows. A few people have told me some recent stories about their experiences, and I plan to write about them soon. Basically, the NSA asks companies to subtly change their products in undetectable ways: making the random number generator less random, leaking the key somehow, adding a common exponent to a public-key exchange protocol, and so on. If the back door is discovered, it’s explained away as a mistake. And as we now know, the NSA has enjoyed enormous success from this program.

            TAO also hacks into computers to recover long-term keys. So if you’re running a VPN that uses a complex shared secret to protect your data and the NSA decides it cares, it might try to steal that secret. This kind of thing is only done against high-value targets.

            How do you communicate securely against such an adversary? Snowden said it in an online Q&A soon after he made his first document public: “Encryption works. Properly implemented strong crypto systems are one of the few things that you can rely on.”

            I believe this is true, despite today’s revelations and tantalizing hints of “groundbreaking cryptanalytic capabilities” made by James Clapper, the director of national intelligence in another top-secret document. Those capabilities involve deliberately weakening the cryptography.

            Snowden’s follow-on sentence is equally important: “Unfortunately, endpoint security is so terrifically weak that NSA can frequently find ways around it.”

            Endpoint means the software you’re using, the computer you’re using it on, and the local network you’re using it in. If the NSA can modify the encryption algorithm or drop a Trojan on your computer, all the cryptography in the world doesn’t matter at all. If you want to remain secure against the NSA, you need to do your best to ensure that the encryption can operate unimpeded.

            With all this in mind, I have five pieces of advice:


1) Hide in the network. Implement hidden services. Use Tor to anonymize yourself. Yes, the NSA targets Tor users, but it’s work for them. The less obvious you are, the safer you are.


2) Encrypt your communications. Use TLS. Use IPsec. Again, while it’s true that the NSA targets encrypted connections – and it may have explicit exploits against these protocols – you’re much better protected than if you communicate in the clear.


3) Assume that while your computer can be compromised, it would take work and risk on the part of the NSA – so it probably isn’t. If you have something really important, use an air gap. Since I started working with the Snowden documents, I bought a new computer that has never been connected to the internet. If I want to transfer a file, I encrypt the file on the secure computer and walk it over to my internet computer, using a USB stick. To decrypt something, I reverse the process. This might not be bulletproof, but it’s pretty good.


4) Be suspicious of commercial encryption software, especially from large vendors. My guess is that most encryption products from large US companies have NSA-friendly back doors, and many foreign ones probably do as well. It’s prudent to assume that foreign products also have foreign-installed backdoors. Closed-source software is easier for the NSA to backdoor than open-source software. Systems relying on master secrets are vulnerable to the NSA, through either legal or more clandestine means.


5) Try to use public-domain encryption that has to be compatible with other implementations. For example, it’s harder for the NSA to backdoor TLS than BitLocker, because any vendor’s TLS has to be compatible with every other vendor’s TLS, while BitLocker only has to be compatible with itself, giving the NSA a lot more freedom to make changes. And because BitLocker is proprietary, it’s far less likely those changes will be discovered. Prefer symmetric cryptography over public-key cryptography. Prefer conventional discrete-log-based systems over elliptic-curve systems; the latter have constants that the NSA influences when they can.

            Since I started working with Snowden’s documents, I have been using GPG, Silent Circle, Tails, OTR, TrueCrypt, BleachBit, and a few other things I’m not going to write about. There’s an undocumented encryption feature in my Password Safe program from the command line); I’ve been using that as well.

            I understand that most of this is impossible for the typical internet user. Even I don’t use all these tools for most everything I am working on. And I’m still primarily on Windows, unfortunately. Linux would be safer.

            The NSA has turned the fabric of the internet into a vast surveillance platform, but they are not magical. They’re limited by the same economic realities as the rest of us, and our best defense is to make surveillance of us as expensive as possible.

            Trust the math. Encryption is your friend. Use it well, and do your best to ensure that nothing can compromise it. That’s how you can remain secure even in the face of the NSA.


Revealed: How US and UK spy agencies defeat internet privacy and security

•NSA and GCHQ unlock encryption used to protect emails, banking and medical records

• $250m-a-year US program works covertly with tech companies to insert weakness es into products

• Security experts say programs ‘undermine the fabric of the internet’


September 5, 2013

by James Ball, Julian Borger and Glenn Greenwald

The Guardian  


US and British intelligence agencies have successfully cracked much of the online encryption relied upon by hundreds of millions of people to protect the privacy of their personal data, online transactions and emails, according to top-secret documents revealed by former contractor Edward Snowden.

The files show that the National Security Agency and its UK counterpart GCHQ have broadly compromised the guarantees that internet companies have given consumers to reassure them that their communications, online banking and medical records would be indecipherable to criminals or governments.

The agencies, the documents reveal, have adopted a battery of methods in their systematic and ongoing assault on what they see as one of the biggest threats to their ability to access huge swathes of internet traffic – “the use of ubiquitous encryption across the internet”.

Those methods include covert measures to ensure NSA control over setting of international encryption standards, the use of supercomputers to break encryption with “brute force”, and – the most closely guarded secret of all – collaboration with technology companies and internet service providers themselves.

            Through these covert partnerships, the agencies have inserted secret vulnerabilities – known as backdoors or trapdoors – into commercial encryption software.

The files, from both the NSA and GCHQ, were obtained by the Guardian, and the details are being published today in partnership with the New York Times and ProPublica. They reveal:


• A 10-year NSA program against encryption technologies made a breakthrough in 2010 which made “vast amounts” of data collected through internet cable taps newly “exploitable”.


• The NSA spends $250m a year on a program which, among other goals, works with technology companies to “covertly influence” their product designs.


• The secrecy of their capabilities against encryption is closely guarded, with analysts warned: “Do not ask about or speculate on sources or methods.”


• The NSA describes strong decryption programs as the “price of admission for the US to maintain unrestricted access to and use of cyberspace”.


• A GCHQ team has been working to develop ways into encrypted traffic on the “big four” service providers, named as Hotmail, Google, Yahoo and Facebook.


 This network diagram, from a GCHQ pilot program, shows how the agency proposed a system to identify encrypted traffic from its internet cable-tapping programs and decrypt what it could in near-real time. Photograph: Guardian The agencies insist that the ability to defeat encryption is vital to their core missions of counter-terrorism and foreign intelligence gathering.

But security experts accused them of attacking the internet itself and the privacy of all users. “Cryptography forms the basis for trust online,” said Bruce Schneier, an encryption specialist and fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society. “By deliberately undermining online security in a short-sighted effort to eavesdrop, the NSA is undermining the very fabric of the internet.” Classified briefings between the agencies celebrate their success at “defeating network security and privacy”.

“For the past decade, NSA has lead [sic] an aggressive, multi-pronged effort to break widely used internet encryption technologies,” stated a 2010 GCHQ document. “Vast amounts of encrypted internet data which have up till now been discarded are now exploitable.”

An internal agency memo noted that among British analysts shown a presentation on the NSA’s progress: “Those not already briefed were gobsmacked!”

The breakthrough, which was not described in detail in the documents, meant the intelligence agencies were able to monitor “large amounts” of data flowing through the world’s fibre-optic cables and break its encryption, despite assurances from internet company executives that this data was beyond the reach of government.

The key component of the NSA’s battle against encryption, its collaboration with technology companies, is detailed in the US intelligence community’s top-secret 2013 budget request under the heading “Sigint [signals intelligence] enabling”.

            Classified briefings between the NSA and GCHQ celebrate their success at ‘defeating network security and privacy’. Photograph: Guardian Funding for the program – $254.9m for this year – dwarfs that of the Prism program, which operates at a cost of $20m a year, according to previous NSA documents. Since 2011, the total spending on Sigint enabling has topped $800m. The program “actively engages US and foreign IT industries to covertly influence and/or overtly leverage their commercial products’ designs”, the document states. None of the companies involved in such partnerships are named; these details are guarded by still higher levels of classification.

            Among other things, the program is designed to “insert vulnerabilities into commercial encryption systems”. These would be known to the NSA, but to no one else, including ordinary customers, who are tellingly referred to in the document as “adversaries”.

            “These design changes make the systems in question exploitable through Sigint collection … with foreknowledge of the modification. To the consumer and other adversaries, however, the systems’ security remains intact.”

            The document sets out in clear terms the program’s broad aims, including making commercial encryption software “more tractable” to NSA attacks by “shaping” the worldwide marketplace and continuing efforts to break into the encryption used by the next generation of 4G phones.

            Among the specific accomplishments for 2013, the NSA expects the program to obtain access to “data flowing through a hub for a major communications provider” and to a “major internet peer-to-peer voice and text communications system”.

            Technology companies maintain that they work with the intelligence agencies only when legally compelled to do so. The Guardian has previously reported that Microsoft co-operated with the NSA to circumvent encryption on the Outlook.com email and chat services. The company insisted that it was obliged to comply with “existing or future lawful demands” when designing its products.

            The documents show that the agency has already achieved another of the goals laid out in the budget request: to influence the international standards upon which encryption systems rely.

            Independent security experts have long suspected that the NSA has been introducing weaknesses into security standards, a fact confirmed for the first time by another secret document. It shows the agency worked covertly to get its own version of a draft security standard issued by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology approved for worldwide use in 2006.

            “Eventually, NSA became the sole editor,” the document states.

            The NSA’s codeword for its decryption program, Bullrun, is taken from a major battle of the American civil war. Its British counterpart, Edgehill, is named after the first major engagement of the English civil war, more than 200 years earlier.

            A classification guide for NSA employees and contractors on Bullrun outlines in broad terms its goals.

            “Project Bullrun deals with 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.

            The document also shows that the NSA’s Commercial Solutions Center, ostensibly the body through which technology companies can have their security products assessed and presented to prospective government buyers, has another, more clandestine role.

            It is used by the NSA to “to leverage sensitive, co-operative relationships with specific industry partners” to insert vulnerabilities into security products. Operatives were warned that this information must be kept top secret “at a minimum”.

            A more general NSA classification guide reveals more detail on the agency’s deep partnerships with industry, and its ability to modify products. It cautions analysts that two facts must remain top secret: that NSA makes modifications to commercial encryption software and devices “to make them exploitable”, and that NSA “obtains cryptographic details of commercial cryptographic information security systems through industry relationships”.

            The agencies have not yet cracked all encryption technologies, however, the documents suggest. Snowden appeared to confirm this during a live Q&A with Guardian readers in June. “Encryption works. Properly implemented strong crypto systems are one of the few things that you can rely on,” he said before warning that NSA can frequently find ways around it as a result of weak security on the computers at either end of the communication.

            The documents are scattered with warnings over the importance of maintaining absolute secrecy around decryption capabilities.

             A slide showing that the secrecy of the agencies’ capabilities against encryption is closely guarded. Photograph: Guardian Strict guidelines were laid down at the GCHQ complex in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, on how to discuss projects relating to decryption. Analysts were instructed: “Do not ask about or speculate on sources or methods underpinning Bullrun.” This informaton was so closely guarded, according to one document, that even those with access to aspects of the program were warned: “There will be no ‘need to know’.”

            The agencies were supposed to be “selective in which contractors are given exposure to this information”, but it was ultimately seen by Snowden, one of 850,000 people in the US with top-secret clearance.A 2009 GCHQ document spells out the significant potential consequences of any leaks, including “damage to industry relationships”.

            “Loss of confidence in our ability to adhere to confidentiality agreements would lead to loss of access to proprietary information that can save time when developing new capability,” intelligence workers were told. Somewhat less important to GCHQ was the public’s trust which was marked as a moderate risk, the document stated.

            “Some exploitable products are used by the general public; some exploitable weaknesses are well known eg possibility of recovering poorly chosen passwords,” it said. “Knowledge that GCHQ exploits these products and the scale of our capability would raise public awareness generating unwelcome publicity for us and our political masters.”

            The decryption effort is particularly important to GCHQ. Its strategic advantage from its Tempora program – direct taps on transatlantic fibre-optic cables of major telecommunications corporations – was in danger of eroding as more and more big internet companies encrypted their traffic, responding to customer demands for guaranteed privacy.

            Without attention, the 2010 GCHQ document warned, the UK’s “Sigint utility will degrade as information flows changes, new applications are developed (and deployed) at pace and widespread encryption becomes more commonplace.” Documents show that Edgehill’s initial aim was to decode the encrypted traffic certified by three major (unnamed) internet companies and 30 types of Virtual Private Network (VPN) – used by businesses to provide secure remote access to their systems. By 2015, GCHQ hoped to have cracked the codes used by 15 major internet companies, and 300 VPNs.

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

            Analysts on the Edgehill project were working on ways into the networks of major webmail providers as part of the decryption project. A quarterly update from 2012 notes the project’s team “continue to work on understanding” the big four communication providers, named in the document as Hotmail, Google, Yahoo and Facebook, adding “work has predominantly been focused this quarter on Google due to new access opportunities being developed”.

            To help secure an insider advantage, GCHQ also established a Humint Operations Team (HOT). Humint, short for “human intelligence” refers to information gleaned directly from sources or undercover agents.

            This GCHQ team was, according to an internal document, “responsible for identifying, recruiting and running covert agents in the global telecommunications industry.”

            “This enables GCHQ to tackle some of its most challenging targets,” the report said. The efforts made by the NSA and GCHQ against encryption technologies may have negative consequences for all internet users, experts warn.

            “Backdoors are fundamentally in conflict with good security,” said Christopher Soghoian, principal technologist and senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union. “Backdoors expose all users of a backdoored system, not just intelligence agency targets, to heightened risk of data compromise.” This is because the insertion of backdoors in a software product, particularly those that can be used to obtain unencrypted user communications or data, significantly increases the difficulty of designing a secure product.”

            This was a view echoed in a recent paper by Stephanie Pell, a former prosecutor at the US Department of Justice and non-resident fellow at the Center for Internet and Security at Stanford Law School.

            “[An] encrypted communications system with a lawful interception back door is far more likely to result in the catastrophic loss of communications confidentiality than a system that never has access to the unencrypted communications of its users,” she states.

            Intelligence officials asked the Guardian, New York Times and ProPublica not to publish this article, saying that it might prompt foreign targets to switch to new forms of encryption or communications that would be harder to collect or read.

            The three organisations removed some specific facts but decided to publish the story because of the value of a public debate about government actions that weaken the most powerful tools for protecting the privacy of internet users in the US and worldwide.


U.S. spy agencies decry latest Snowden revelations


September 6, 2013



 WASHINGTON   – U.S. spy agencies said on Friday that the latest media revelations based on leaks from former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden will likely damage U.S. and allied intelligence efforts.

 On Thursday, the Guardian, the New York Times and journalistic nonprofit ProPublica published stories saying the security agency has secretly developed the ability to crack or circumvent commonplace Internet encryption used to protect everything from email to financial transactions. The stories were based on documents made public by Snowden, now a fugitive living under asylum in Russia.

The reports also said the NSA had worked with Government Communications Headquarters, its British partner, and had used a variety of means, ranging from the insertion of “back doors” in popular tech products and services, to supercomputers, secret court orders and the manipulation of international processes for setting encryption standards.

In a statement on Friday, the Office of the U.S. Director of National Intelligence, which said it was speaking on behalf of all U.S. spy agencies, did not confirm details of the media reports.

The statement did acknowledge that the U.S. intelligence community “would not be doing its job” if it did not try to counter the use of encryption by such adversaries as “terrorists, cybercriminals, human traffickers and others.”

The statement said, however, that the stories published on Thursday revealed “specific and classified details about how we conduct this critical activity.” It claimed that anything that the news stories added to public debate about government surveillance was “outweighed by the road map they gave to our adversaries” about specific eavesdropping methods.


(Reporting by Mark Hosenball; Editing by Karey Van Hall and Jackie Frank)


N.Y. Times scraps AIPAC from Syria story


September 3, 2013

by Hadas Gold



            A reference to the pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC was mysteriously cut from a New York Times article published online Monday and in print Tuesday. The first version, published online Monday, quotes an anonymous administration official calling AIPAC the “800-pound gorilla in the room.” The original article, which is still available on The Boston Globe’s site, had two paragraphs worth of quotes from officials about the powerful lobbying group’s position in the Syria debate:

Administration officials said the influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee was already at work pressing for military action against the government of Assad, fearing that if Syria escapes American retribution for its use of chemical weapons, Iran might be emboldened in the future to attack Israel. In the House, the majority leader, Eric Cantor of Virginia, the only Jewish Republican in Congress, has long worked to challenge Democrats’ traditional base among Jews.

One administration official, who, like others, declined to be identified discussing White House strategy, called AIPAC “the 800-pound gorilla in the room,” and said its allies in Congress had to be saying, “If the White House is not capable of enforcing this red line” against the catastrophic use of chemical weapons, “we’re in trouble.”

The newer version makes no reference to AIPAC and does not include an editor’s note explaining any change, other than a typical note at the end of the story noting that a version of the article appeared in the Tuesday print edition of the Times.

But journalists and media critics took note of the change. Around 5:00 a.m. Tuesday, Bloomberg View columnist Jeffrey Goldberg tweeted, “Unless, I’m mistaken, all references to AIPAC cut from this story.”

Goldberg told POLITICO the missing AIPAC piece is “strange” and suggested that someone from AIPAC or the White House complained.

“I don’t know what’s going on, but it’s very strange. It doesn’t make sense that it was cut for space in the print edition, because the AIPAC passage was quite newsworthy. Plus, there’s obviously no space issue on the Web. It seems plausible that someone from AIPAC, or the White House, complained about the accuracy of the passage,” Goldberg said.

Goldberg said the passage is “accurate” and that according to his reporting AIPAC is lobbying on the Hill on behalf of President Barack Obama.

“Conspiracy theories don’t make sense, though, because the Times is not particularly friendly to the AIPAC worldview, and has certainly covered AIPAC critically in the past,” Goldberg said.

Bloggers MJ Rosenberg, Greg Mitchell, and the website NewsDiffs also noted the change.

New York Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy said the Times was looking into an inquiry made by POLITICO about the story, but had no comment yet. AIPAC declined to comment for this story.


UPDATE (12:24 p.m.): Times spokesperson Danielle Rhoades Ha emails:


We regularly edit web stories for the print paper. This particular change was made to avoid repeating the same thought which ran in a page one story on Monday. That article entitled, “President Seeks to Rally Support for Syria Strike” included the following:

“One administration official, who, like others, declined to be identified discussing White House strategy, called the American Israel Political Affairs Committee “the 800-pound gorilla in the room,” and said its allies in Congress had to be saying, ‘If the White House is not capable of enforcing this red line’ — against catastrophic use of chemical weapons — ‘we’re in trouble.'”



And Then There Was One: Delusional Thinking in the Age of the Single Superpower

by Tom Engelhardt


In an increasingly phantasmagorical world, here’s my present fantasy of choice: someone from General Keith Alexander’s outfit, the National Security Agency, tracks down H.G. Wells’s time machine in the attic of an old house in London.  Britain’s subservient Government Communications Headquarters, its version of the NSA, is paid off and the contraption is flown to Fort Meade, Maryland, where it’s put back in working order.  Alexander then revs it up and heads not into the future like Wells to see how our world ends, but into the past to offer a warning to Americans about what’s to come.

He arrives in Washington on October 23, 1962, in the middle of the Cuban Missile Crisis, a day after President Kennedy has addressed the American people on national television to tell them that this planet might not be theirs — or anyone else’s — for long.  (“We will not prematurely or unnecessarily risk the costs of worldwide nuclear war in which even the fruits of victory would be ashes in our mouth, but neither will we shrink from the risk at any time it must be faced.”)  Greeted with amazement by the Washington elite, Alexander, too, goes on television and informs the same public that, in 2013, the major enemy of the United States will no longer be the Soviet Union, but an outfit called al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and that the headquarters of our country’s preeminent foe will be found somewhere in the rural backlands of… Yemen.

Yes, Yemen, a place most Americans, then and now, would be challenged to find on a world map.  I guarantee you one thing: had such an announcement actually been made that day, most Americans would undoubtedly have dropped to their knees and thanked God for His blessings on the American nation.  Though even then a nonbeliever, I would undoubtedly have been among them.  After all, the 18-year-old Tom Engelhardt, on hearing Kennedy’s address, genuinely feared that he and the few pathetic dreams of a future he had been able to conjure up were toast.

Had Alexander added that, in the face of AQAP and similar minor jihadist enemies scattered in the backlands of parts of the planet, the U.S. had built up its military, intelligence, and surveillance powers beyond anything ever conceived of in the Cold War or possibly in the history of the planet, Americans of that time would undoubtedly have considered him delusional and committed him to an asylum.

Such, however, is our world more than two decades after Eastern Europe was liberated, the Berlin Wall came down, the Cold War definitively ended, and the Soviet Union disappeared.

Why Orwell Was Wrong

Now, let me mention another fantasy connected to the two-superpower Cold War era: George Orwell’s 1948 vision of the world of 1984 (or thereabouts, since the inhabitants of his novel of that title were unsure just what year they were living in).  When the revelations of NSA contractor Edward Snowden began to hit the news and we suddenly found ourselves knee-deep in stories about Prism, XKeyscore, and other Big Brother-ish programs that make up the massive global surveillance network the National Security Agency has been building, I had a brilliant idea — reread 1984.

At a moment when Americans were growing uncomfortably aware of the way their government was staring at them and storing what they had previously imagined as their private data, consider my soaring sense of my own originality a delusion of my later life.  It lasted only until I read an essay by NSA expert James Bamford in which he mentioned that, “[w]ithin days of Snowden’s documents appearing in the Guardian and the Washington Post…, bookstores reported a sudden spike in the sales of George Orwell’s classic dystopian novel 1984. On Amazon.com, the book made the ‘Movers & Shakers’ list and skyrocketed 6,021 percent in a single day.”

Nonetheless, amid a jostling crowd of worried Americans, I did keep reading that novel and found it at least as touching, disturbing, and riveting as I had when I first came across it sometime before Kennedy went on TV in 1962.  Even today, it’s hard not to marvel at the vision of a man living at the beginning of the television age who sensed how a whole society could be viewed, tracked, controlled, and surveiled.

But for all his foresight, Orwell had no more power to peer into the future than the rest of us.  So it’s no fault of his that, almost three decades after his year of choice, more than six decades after his death, the shape of our world has played havoc with his vision.  Like so many others in his time and after, he couldn’t imagine the disappearance of the Soviet Union or at least of Soviet-like totalitarian states.  More than anything else, he couldn’t imagine one fact of our world that, in 1948, wasn’t in the human playbook.

In 1984, Orwell imagined a future from what he knew of the Soviet and American (as well as Nazi, Japanese, and British) imperial systems.  In imagining three equally powerful, equally baleful superpowers — Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia — balanced for an eternity in an unwinnable global struggle, he conjured up a logical extension of what had been developing on this planet for hundreds of years.  His future was a version of the world humanity had lived with since the first European power mounted cannons on a wooden ship and set sail, like so many Mongols of the sea, to assault and conquer foreign realms, coastlines first.

From that moment on, the imperial powers of this planet — super, great, prospectively great, and near great — came in contending or warring pairs, if not triplets or quadruplets.  Portugal, Spain, and Holland; England, France, and Imperial Russia; the United States, Germany, Japan, and Italy (as well as Great Britain and France), and after World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union.  Five centuries in which one thing had never occurred, the thing that even George Orwell, with his prodigious political imagination, couldn’t conceive of, the thing that makes 1984 a dated work and his future a past that never was: a one-superpower world.  To give birth to such a creature on such a planet — as indeed occurred in 1991 — was to be at the end of history, at least as it had long been known.

The Decade of the Stunned Superpower

Only in Hollywood fantasies about evil super-enemies was “world domination” by a single power imaginable.  No wonder that, more than two decades into our one-superpower present, we still find it hard to take in this new reality and what it means.

At least two aspects of such a world seem, however, to be coming into focus.  The evidence of the last decades suggests that the ability of even the greatest of imperial powers to shape global events may always have been somewhat exaggerated.  The reason: power itself may never have been as centrally located in imperial or national entities as was once imagined.  Certainly, with all rivals removed, the frustration of Washington at its inability to control events in the Greater Middle East and elsewhere could hardly be more evident.  Still, Washington has proven incapable of grasping the idea that there might be forms of power, and so of resistance to American desires, not embodied in competitive states.

Evidence also seems to indicate that the leaders of a superpower, when not countered by another major power, when lacking an arms race to run or territory and influence to contest, may be particularly susceptible to the growth of delusional thinking, and in particular to fantasies of omnipotence.

Though Great Britain far outstripped any competitor or potential enemy at the height of its imperial glory, as did the United States at the height of the Cold War (the Soviet Union was always a junior superpower), there were at least rivals around to keep the leading power “honest” in its thinking.  From December 1991, when the Soviet Union declared itself no more, there were none and, despite the dubious assumption by many in Washington that a rising China will someday be a major competitor, there remain none.  Even if economic power has become more “multipolar,” no actual state contests the American role on the planet in a serious way.

Just as still water is a breeding ground for mosquitos, so single-superpowerdom seems to be a breeding ground for delusion.  This is a phenomenon about which we have to be cautious, since we know little enough about it and are, of course, in its midst.  But so far, there seem to have been three stages to the development of whatever delusional process is underway.

Stage one stretched from December 1991 through September 10, 2001.  Think of it as the decade of the stunned superpower.  After all, the collapse of the Soviet Union went unpredicted in Washington and when it happened, the George H. W. Bush administration seemed almost incapable of taking it in.  In the years that followed, there was the equivalent of a stunned silence in the corridors of power.

After a brief flurry of debate about a post-Cold War “peace dividend,” that subject dropped into the void, while, for example, U.S. nuclear forces, lacking their major enemy of the previous several decades, remained more or less in place, strategically disoriented but ready for action.  In those years, Washington launched modest and halting discussions of the dangers of “rogue states” (think “Axis of Evil” in the post-9/11 era), but the U.S. military had a hard time finding a suitable enemy other than its former ally in the Persian Gulf, Iraq’s Saddam Hussein.  Its ventures into the world of war in Somalia and the former Yugoslavia were modest and not exactly greeted with rounds of patriotic fervor at home.  Even the brief glow of popularity the elder Bush gained from his 1990-1991 war against Saddam evaporated so quickly that, by the time he geared up for his reelection campaign barely a year later, it was gone.

In the shadows, however, a government-to-be was forming under the guise of a think tank.  It was filled with figures like future Vice President Dick Cheney, future Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, future Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, future U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, and future ambassador to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad, all of whom firmly believed that the United States, with its staggering military advantage and lack of enemies, now had an unparalleled opportunity to control and reorganize the planet.  In January 2001, they came to power under the presidency of George W. Bush, anxious for the opportunity to turn the U.S. into the kind of global dominator that would put the British and even Roman empires to shame.

Pax Americana Dreams

Stage two in the march into single-superpower delusion began on September 11, 2001, only five hours after hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 smashed into the Pentagon.  It was then that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, already convinced that al-Qaeda was behind the attacks, nonetheless began dreaming about completing the First Gulf War by taking out Saddam Hussein.  Of Iraq, he instructed an aide to “go massive… Sweep it all up. Things related and not.”

And go massive he and his colleagues did, beginning the process that led to the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, itself considered only a precursor to transforming the Greater Middle East into an American protectorate.  From the fertile soil of 9/11 — itself something of a phantasmagoric event in which Osama bin Laden and his relatively feeble organization spent a piddling $400,000-$500,000 to create the look of an apocalyptic moment — sprang full-blown a sense of American global omnipotence.

It had taken a decade to mature.  Now, within days of the toppling of those towers in lower Manhattan, the Bush administration was already talking about launching a “war on terror,” soon to become the “Global War on Terror” (no exaggeration intended).  The CIA would label it no less grandiosly a “Worldwide Attack Matrix.”  And none of them were kidding.  Finding “terror” groups of various sorts in up to 80 countries, they were planning, in the phrase of the moment, to “drain the swamp” — everywhere.

In the early Bush years, dreams of domination bred like rabbits in the hothouse of single-superpower Washington.  Such grandiose thinking quickly invaded administration and Pentagon planning documents as the Bush administration prepared to prevent potentially oppositional powers or blocs of powers from arising in the foreseeable future.  No one, as its top officials and their neocon supporters saw it, could stand in the way of their planetary Pax Americana.

Nor, as they invaded Afghanistan, did they have any doubt that they would soon take down Iraq.  It was all going to be so easy.  Such an invasion, as one supporter wrote in the Washington Post, would be a “cakewalk.”  By the time American troops entered Iraq, the Pentagon already had plans on the drawing board to build a series of permanent bases — they preferred to call them “enduring camps” — and garrison that assumedly grateful country at the center of the planet’s oil lands for generations to come.

Nobody in Washington was thinking about the possibility that an American invasion might create chaos in Iraq and surrounding lands, sparking a set of Sunni-Shiite religious wars across the region.  They assumed that Iran and Syria would be forced to bend their national knees to American power or that we would simply impose submission on them.  (As a neoconservative quip of the moment had it, “Everyone wants to go to Baghdad. Real men want to go to Tehran.”)  And that, of course would only be the beginning.  Soon enough, no one would challenge American power. Nowhere. Never.

Such soaring dreams of — quite literally — world domination met no significant opposition in mainstream Washington.  After all, how could they fail?  Who on Earth could possibly oppose them or the U.S. military?  The answer seemed too obvious to need to be stated — not until, at least, their all-conquering armies bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan and the greatest power on the planet faced the possibility of defeat at the hands of… well, whom?

The Dark Matter of Global Power

Until things went sour in Iraq, theirs would be a vision of the Goliath tale in which David (or various ragtag Sunni, Shiite, and Pashtun versions of the same) didn’t even have a walk-on role.  All other Goliaths were gone and the thought that a set of minor Davids might pose problems for the planet’s giant was beyond imagining, despite what the previous century’s history of decolonization and resistance might have taught them.  Above all, the idea that, at this juncture in history, power might not be located overwhelmingly and decisively in the most obvious place — in, that is, “the finest fighting force that the world has ever known,” as American presidents of this era came to call it — seemed illogical in the extreme.

Who in the Washington of that moment could have imagined that other kinds of power might, like so much dark matter in the universe, be mysteriously distributed elsewhere on the planet?  Such was their sense of American omnipotence, such was the level of delusional thinking inside the Washington bubble.

Despite two treasury-draining disasters in Afghanistan and Iraq that should have been sobering when it came to the hidden sources of global power, especially the power to resist American wishes, such thinking showed only minimal signs of diminishing even as the Bush administration pulled back from the Iraq War, and a few years later, after a set of misbegotten “surges,” the Obama administration decided to do the same in Afghanistan.

Instead, Washington entered stage three of delusional life in a single-superpower world.  Its main symptom: the belief in the possibility of controlling the planet not just through staggering military might but also through informational and surveillance omniscience and omnipotence.  In these years, the urge to declare a global war on communications, create a force capable of launching wars in cyberspace, and storm the e-beaches of the Internet and the global information system proved overwhelming.  The idea was to make it impossible for anyone to write, say, or do anything to which Washington might not be privy.

For most Americans, the Edward Snowden revelations would pull back the curtain on the way the National Security Agency, in particular, has been building a global network for surveillance of a kind never before imagined, not even by the totalitarian regimes of the previous century.  From domestic phone calls to international emails, from the bugging of U.N. headquarters and the European Union to 80 embassies around the world, from enemies to frenemies to allies, the system by 2013 was already remarkably all-encompassing.  It had, in fact, the same aura of grandiosity about it, of overblown self-regard, that went with the launching of the Global War on Terror — the feeling that if Washington did it or built it, they would come.

I’m 69 years old and, in technological terms, I’ve barely emerged from the twentieth century.  In a conversation with NSA Director Keith Alexander, known somewhat derisively in the trade as “Alexander the Geek,” I have no doubt that I’d be lost.  In truth, I can barely grasp the difference between what the NSA’s Prism and XKeyscore programs do.  So call me technologically senseless, but I can still recognize a deeper senselessness when I see it.  And I can see that Washington is building something conceptually quite monstrous that will change our country for the worse, and the world as well, and is — perhaps worst of all — essentially nonsensical.

So let me offer those in Washington a guarantee: I have no idea what the equivalents of the Afghan and Iraq wars will be in the surveillance world, but continue to build such a global system, ignoring the anger of allies and enemies alike, and “they” indeed will come.  Such delusional grandiosity, such dreams of omnipotence and omniscience cannot help but generate resistance and blowback in a perfectly real world that, whatever Washington thinks, maintains a grasp on perfectly real power, even without another imperial state on any horizon.


Today, almost 12 years after 9/11, the U.S. position in the world seems even more singular.  Militarily speaking, the Global War on Terror continues, however namelessly, in the Obama era in places as distant as Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia.  The U.S. military remains heavily deployed in the Greater Middle East, though it has pulled out of Iraq and is drawing down in Afghanistan.  In recent years, U.S. power has, in an exceedingly public manner, been “pivoting” to Asia, where the building of new bases, as well as the deployment of new troops and weaponry, to “contain” that imagined future superpower China has been proceeding apace.

At the same time, the U.S. military has been ever-so-quietly pivoting to Africa where, as TomDispatch’s Nick Turse reports, its presence is spreading continent-wide.  American military bases still dot the planet in remarkable profusion, numbering perhaps 1,000 at a moment when no other nation on Earth has more than a handful outside its territory.

The reach of Washington’s surveillance and intelligence networks is unique in the history of the planet.  The ability of its drone air fleet to assassinate enemies almost anywhere is unparalleled.  Europe and Japan remain so deeply integrated into the American global system as to be essentially a part of its power-projection capabilities.

This should be the dream formula for a world dominator and yet no one can look at Planet Earth today and not see that the single superpower, while capable of creating instability and chaos, is limited indeed in its ability to control developments.  Its president can’t even form a “coalition of the willing” to launch a limited series of missile attacks on the military facilities of the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad.  From Latin America to the Greater Middle East, the American system is visibly weakening, while at home, inequality and poverty are on the rise, infrastructure crumbles, and national politics is in a state of permanent “gridlock.”

Such a world should be fantastical enough for the wildest sort of dystopian fiction, for perhaps a novel titled 2014.  What, after all, are we to make of a planet with a single superpower that lacks genuine enemies of any significance and that, to all appearances, has nonetheless been fighting a permanent global war with… well, itself — and appears to be losing?


Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project and author of The United States of Fear as well as a history of the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture (recently published in a Kindle edition), runs the Nation Institute’s TomDispatch.com. His latest book, co-authored with Nick Turse, is Terminator Planet: The First History of Drone Warfare, 2001-2050.

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