Richard Whittle writes: Sweat the small stuff.
That’s the unofficial motto for this year’s edition of the military exercise Black Dart, a two-week test of tactics and technologies to combat hostile drones that begins Monday on the Point Mugu range at Naval Base Ventura County in California.
The military categorizes Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) by size and capability, from Group 5 drones that weigh more than 1,320 pounds and can fly above 18,000 feet like the Reaper, down to Group 1, mini- and micro-drones less than 20 pounds that fly lower than 1,200 feet. Previous Black Darts have covered threats to troops overseas and targets at home posed by drones of all sizes.
But small drones are this year’s focus, said the director of this 14th edition of Black Dart, Air Force Maj. Scott Gregg, because of worrisome incidents since the last exercise.
Gregg cited the quadcopter that a drunk crashed onto the White House lawn in the wee hours of Jan. 26 and sightings of unidentified small drones flying over nuclear reactors in France. In the wake of those events, he said, “Even though we’ve been looking at [the small drone threat], it’s taken on a new sense of urgency.”
Gregg also could have mentioned how, to protest government surveillance, the Pirate Party of Germany flew a small drone right up to the podium as Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke in Dresden two years ago. Or how in Japan last April, a nuclear-energy foe landed a drone carrying radioactive sand on the roof of the prime minister’s residence. And there was a report last week that British officials are worried ISIS may try to bomb festival crowds using small drones.
The United States enjoyed a near-monopoly on armed drones for much of the past 15 years, but with more than 80 countries now buying or building drones of their own, and with terrorist groups such as Hezbollah, Hamas and ISIS known to have used unarmed drones in the Middle East, that advantage has evaporated.
Few countries and no terrorist groups are likely to emulate the complex and costly US system of undersea fiber-optic cables and satellite earth terminals in Europe that allows crews in the United States to fly drones carrying missiles and bombs over Africa, the Middle East and South Asia.
But anyone can buy a Group 1 drone for a couple of hundred dollars and put it to nefarious use. Arm it with plastic explosives, radioactive material, biological or chemical agents, and it can be crashed, kamikaze-style, into a target.
“I’d say for the Department of Homeland Security, it’s one of the biggest concerns,” Gregg said.
The threat isn’t imaginary. Former Northeastern University student Rezwan Ferdaus is now serving 17 years in prison for plotting to pack C-4 plastic explosives into 1/10 scale radio controlled models of F-4 and F-86 fighter jets and fly them into the Capitol and Pentagon. Ferdaus also supplied cellphone detonators for IEDs to people he thought were agents of al Qaeda but turned out to be working for the FBI….(read more)
This year the surrogate threats will include three Group 1 drones — a Hawkeye 400 hexacopter, a Flanker and a Scout II — and one Twin Hawk drone from the Group 2 category (21 to 55 lbs., slower than 250 knots, lower than 3,500 feet). Six Group 3 drones, all of them 13.5-foot wingspan Outlaw G2s made by Griffon Aerospace, also will be targets. Read the rest of this entry »
The Pentagon and intelligence community are developing war plans and an operations center to fend off Chinese and Russian attacks on U.S.military and government satellites
The ops center, to be opened within six months, will receive data from satellites belonging to all government agencies, Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work said Tuesday at the GEOINT symposium, an annual intelligence conference sponsored by the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation.
“We want to be able to establish patterns of life from space. We want to know what the unusual looks like. If, all of a sudden, a lot of cars show up in a parking lot of an adversary’s missile plant, we want to know about it and we want to know about it quickly. If, suddenly, small boats are swarming in the Gulf or pirates are starting to congregate off Aden, we want to know.”
“[W]e are going to develop the tactics, techniques, procedures, rules of the road that would allow us … to fight the architecture and protect it while it’s under attack,” Work said. “The ugly reality that we must now all face is that if an adversary were able to take space away from us, our ability to project decisive power across transoceanic distances and overmatch adversaries in theaters once we get there … would be critically weakened.”
“If Russian soldiers are snapping pictures of themselves in war zones and posting them in social media sites, we want to know exactly where those pictures were taken.”
Work also said that Air Force Secretary Deborah James would soon be named the “principal space advisor” to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, where she will to provide “independent advice separate from the consensus process of the department.”
Senior officials at the Pentagon and Office of the Director of National Intelligence are still finalizing details of the new center, which will back up the military’s Joint Space Operations Center at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.
The center will help the military and government coordinate their preparations for and responses to any attack, said Lt. Cmdr. Courtney Hillson, a spokeswoman for Work. Read the rest of this entry »
OPM IT Outsourced to Foreigner Contractors, with Root Access, Working from their Home Country. In this Case, Oh Yeah, ChinaPosted: June 17, 2015
Encryption ‘would not have helped’ at OPM, says DHS official: Attackers had valid user credentials and run of network, bypassing security
Sean Gallagher reports: During testimony today in a grueling two-hour hearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Director Katherine Archuleta claimed that she had recognized huge problems with the agency’s computer security when she assumed her post 18 months ago. But when pressed on why systems had not been protected with encryption prior to the recent discovery of an intrusion that gave attackers access to sensitive data on millions of government employees and government contractors, she said, “It is not feasible to implement on networks that are too old.” She added that the agency is now working to encrypt data within its networks.
But even if the systems had been encrypted, it likely wouldn’t have mattered. Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for Cybersecurity Dr. Andy Ozment testified that encryption would “not have helped in this case” because the attackers had gained valid user credentials to the systems that they attacked—likely through social engineering. And because of the lack of multifactor authentication on these systems, the attackers would have been able to use those credentials at will to access systems from within and potentially even from outside the network.
House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) told Archuleta and OPM Chief Information Officer Donna Seymour, “You failed utterly and totally.” He referred to OPM’s own inspector general reports and hammered Seymour in particular for the 11 major systems out of 47 that had not been properly certified as secure—which were not contractor systems but systems operated by OPM’s own IT department. “They were in your office, which is a horrible example to be setting,” Chaffetz told Seymour. In total, 65 percent of OPM’s data was stored on those uncertified systems.
Chaffetz pointed out in his opening statement that for the past eight years, according to OPM’s own Inspector General reports, “OPM’s data security posture was akin to leaving all your doors and windows unlocked and hoping nobody would walk in and take the information.”
When Chaffetz asked Archuleta directly about the number of people who had been affected by the breach of OPM’s systems and whether it included contractor information as well as that of federal employees, Archuleta replied repeatedly, “I would be glad to discuss that in a classified setting.” That was Archuleta’s response to nearly all of the committee members’ questions over the course of the hearing this morning.
At least we found it
Archuleta told the committee that the breach was found only because she had been pushing forward with an aggressive plan to update OPM’s security, centralizing the oversight of IT security under the chief information officer and implementing “numerous tools and capabilities.” She claimed that it was during the process of updating tools that the breach was discovered. “But for the fact that OPM implemented new, more stringent security tools in its environment, we would have never known that malicious activity had previously existed on the network and would not have been able to share that information for the protection of the rest of the federal government,” she read from her prepared statement. Read the rest of this entry »
London (AFP) – Britain has been forced to move some of its spies after Russia and China accessed the top-secret raft of documents taken by former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, British media reported.
“We know Russia and China have access to Snowden’s material and will be going through it for years to come, searching for clues to identify potential targets.”
— Intelligence source, to the Sunday Times
The BBC and the Sunday Times cited senior government and intelligence officials as saying agents had been pulled, with the newspaper saying the move came after Russia was able to decrypt more than one million files.
“It is the case that Russians and Chinese have information. It has meant agents have had to be moved and that knowledge of how we operate has stopped us getting vital information,” a Downing Street source said, according to the newspaper.
“It is the case that Russians and Chinese have information. It has meant agents have had to be moved and that knowledge of how we operate has stopped us getting vital information.”
— Downing Street source
Downing Street told AFP on Sunday that they “don’t comment on intelligence matters” while the Foreign Office said: “We can neither confirm or deny these reports”.
The BBC said on its website, meanwhile, that a government source said the two countries “have information” that spurred intelligence agents being moved, but said there was “no evidence” any spies were harmed.
Snowden fled to Russia after leaking the documents to the press in 2013 to expose the extent of US online surveillance programmes and to protect “privacy and basic liberties”.
The Sunday Times said other government sources claimed China had also accessed the documents, which reveal US and British intelligence techniques, leading to fears that their spies could be identified. Read the rest of this entry »
The final vote divided Senate Republicans, with 23 voting ‘yes’ and 30 voting ‘no,’ and senators seeking re-election in 2016 split on the issue
WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress approved sweeping changes Tuesday to surveillance laws enacted after the Sept. 11 attacks, eliminating the National Security Agency’s disputed bulk phone-records collection program and replacing it with a more restrictive measure to keep the records in phone companies’ hands.
“This is a step in the wrong direction…does not enhance the privacy protections of American citizens. And it surely undermines American security by taking one more tool form our warfighters at exactly the wrong time.”
— Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
Two days after Congress let the phone-records and several other anti-terror programs expire, the Senate’s 67-32 vote sent the legislation to President Barack Obama, who said he would sign it promptly.
“This legislation will strengthen civil liberty safeguards and provide greater public confidence in these programs,” Obama said in a statement. The bill signing could happen late Tuesday or early Wednesday, but officials said it could take at least several days to restart the collection.
The legislation will revive most of the programs the Senate had allowed to lapse in a dizzying collision of presidential politics and national security policy. But the authorization will undergo major changes, the legacy of agency contractor Edward Snowden‘s explosive revelations two years ago about domestic spying by the government.
“I applaud the Senate for renewing our nation’s foreign intelligence capabilities, and I’m pleased this measure will now head to the president’s desk for his signature.”
— House Speaker John Boehner
In an unusual shifting of alliances, the legislation passed with the support of Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, but over the strong opposition of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. McConnell failed to persuade the Senate to extend the current law unchanged, and came up short in a last-ditch effort Tuesday to amend the House version, as nearly a dozen of his own Republicans abandoned him in a series of votes.
“This is a step in the wrong direction,” a frustrated McConnell said on the Senate floor ahead of the Senate’s final vote to approve the House version, dubbed the USA Freedom Act. He said the legislation “does not enhance the privacy protections of American citizens. And it surely undermines American security by taking one more tool form our warfighters at exactly the wrong time.”
“Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship.”
— George Orwell
The legislation remakes the most controversial aspect of the USA Patriot Act — the once-secret bulk collection program that allows the National Security Agency to sweep up Americans’ phone records and comb through them for ties to international terrorists. Over six months the NSA would lose the power to collect and store those records, but the government still could gain court orders to obtain data connected to specific numbers from the phone companies, which typically store them for 18 months.
It would also continue other post-9/11 surveillance provisions that lapsed Sunday night, and which are considered more effective than the phone-data collection program. These include the FBI’s authority to gather business records in terrorism and espionage investigations and to more easily eavesdrop on suspects who are discarding cellphones to avoid surveillance.
In order to restart collection of phone records, the Justice Department will need to obtain a new order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Read the rest of this entry »
Forget the White House’s doomsday talk about American intelligence going blind. Thanks to backdoor provisions and alternate collection schemes, U.S. spies will keep on snooping.
“I don’t want us to be in a situation in which for a certain period of time those authorities go away and suddenly we’re dark, and heaven forbid we’ve got a problem where we could’ve prevented a terrorist attack or apprehended someone who was engaged in dangerous activity.”
— President Obama, to reporters on Friday
That argument is highly debatable—at least, in the short term. Not only does the U.S. government have all sorts of other ways to collect the same kind of intelligence outlined in the Patriot Act, but there’s also a little-noticed back door in the act that allows U.S. spy agencies to gather information in pretty much the same ways they did before.
“It does seem to me at least reckless to not allow at least a temporary continuation of the bill while we have this debate. But that’s not the way it’s working, and unfortunately I think it’s part of the presidential campaign, and I think people have to judge it for themselves.”
— Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX)
In other words, there’s a zombie Patriot Act—one that lives on, though the existing version is dead.
On Sunday night, senators voted overwhelmingly to end debate on a measure passed in the House, the USA Freedom Act, which will leave most surveillance authorities in the Patriot Act intact. But some of those powers won’t expire at least until Tuesday and possibly Wednesday. Administration officials had warned that even a momentary interruption posed a grave risk.
“I don’t want us to be in a situation in which for a certain period of time those authorities go away and suddenly we’re dark, and heaven forbid we’ve got a problem where we could’ve prevented a terrorist attack or apprehended someone who was engaged in dangerous activity,” Obama told reporters at the White House on Friday. On Sunday, CIA Director John Brennan said on CBS’s Face the Nation that there’d “been a little too much political grandstanding and crusading for ideological causes that have skewed the debate on this issue,” an apparent reference to Sen. Rand Paul, a Republican presidential candidate, and his promise to force the law to expire, “but these tools are important to American lives.”
They may be. But they are far from the only tools in the counterterrorism arsenal, and though they are no longer law as of Monday, the United States still has plenty of authority to collect intelligence on jihadis and foreign spies.
For starters, there will be what’s left of the Patriot Act itself. Read the rest of this entry »
Key Patriot Act provisions will expire at midnight
In addition to the bulk phone collections provision, the two lesser-known Patriot Act provisions that also lapse at midnight were one, so far unused, to helps track “lone wolf” terrorism suspects unconnected to a foreign power; the second allows the government to eavesdrop on suspects who continually discard their cellphones.
The Senate failed Sunday to strike a deal to extend the NSA’s phone surveillance program before the midnight deadline.
Members of the GOP-controlled chamber returned Sunday to Capitol Hill in a last-ditch effort to extend the National Security Agency’s authority to collect Americans’ phone records in bulk to search for terror connections and to authorize two other programs under the post-9/11 Patriot Act.
“Heaven forbid we’ve got a problem where we could have prevented a terrorist attack or apprehended someone who is engaged in dangerous activity, but we didn’t do so simply because of inaction in the Senate.”
— President Obama
The Senate attempted to either pass a House bill that would have altered the collections of the so-called phone call metadata or simply extend the program.
The 100-member chamber passed the first of two procedure hurdles, known as cloture, to proceed with the House bill. The vote was 77 to 17.
“The sky is not going to fall.”
— Anthony Romero, American Civil Liberties Union executive director
But no final action was expected before Sunday’s midnight deadline after Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul served notice that he would assert his prerogatives under Senate rules to delay a final vote for several days.
“The people who argue that the world will come to an end and we will be over by jihadists (by not passing the bill) are using fear,” Paul, a 2016 presidential candidate, said on the Senate floor.
Still, the program is all but certain to be revived in a matter of days, although it also looks certain to be completely overhauled under the House-passed legislation that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reluctantly blessed in an about-face Sunday evening.
With most senators opposed to extending current law unchanged, even for a short time, McConnell said the House bill was the only option left other than letting the program die off entirely. The Kentucky Republican preferred extending the current law. Read the rest of this entry »
BREAKING NEWS – The Republican-led Senate blocked a House bill early Saturday that would have ended the National Security Agency’s bulk of collection on domestic phone records.
The vote was 57-42, short of the 60-vote threshold to move ahead. It leaves the fate of the key provisions in the Patriot Act in doubt with a June 1 deadline less than two weeks away.
The Senate also failed to advance a two-month extension of NSA programs as well. The vote also needed 60 votes to get to the Senate floor. The vote was defeated 54-45…(read more)
The Kentucky Republican’s speech, which began at 1:18 p.m., is not technically holding up any legislation because the Senate is actually currently debating a trade bill, but Mr. Paul said his move was a filibuster nonetheless, as he vowed to hold the floor until he couldn’t go any longer.
“It’s time to end the NSA spying,” his official Twitter account said in a post at 1:36 p.m., as he was on the floor.
WASHINGTON — Damian Paletta reports: The Obama administration on Wednesday released details on more than 400 letters, books, news articles, research reports and even software manuals it seized during the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden at his secret compound in Pakistan, offering a fresh view into the interests and correspondence of the former head of al Qaeda.
The intelligence agency declassified the names of 39 English-language books seized at bin Laden’s compound. These included books about the Central Intelligence Agency; Christianity and Islam in Spain from 756 until 1031; and Bob Woodward’s 2010 book, ‘Obama’s Wars.'”
The declassified material, which the Office of the Director of National Intelligence labeled “Bin Laden’s Bookshelf,” shows a number of interests—ranging from a Noam Chomsky book on “thought control” to things that could be seen, such as how-to books on terrorist attacks.
“It included, for example, a 2001 document from the U.S. military on ‘instruction on aircraft piracy and destruction of derelict airborne objects’ and numerous records about how to obtain a U.S. passport.”
It included, for example, a 2001 document from the U.S. military on “instruction on aircraft piracy and destruction of derelict airborne objects” and numerous records about how to obtain a U.S. passport. The compound also contained numerous world maps.
“These are gigantic events that will eventually engulf most of the Muslim world, will free the Muslim land from American hegemony, and is troubling America whose secretary of state declared that they are worried about the armed Muslims controlling the Muslim region.”
Rep. Devin Nunes (R., Calif.), chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said “it is in the interest of the American public for citizens, academics, journalists, and historians to have the opportunity to read and understand bin Laden’s documents.”
“All of this indicates that the Western countries are weak and their international role is regressing.”
— Osama bin Laden, in a letter recovered in the raid
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which released the records, said analysts were still reviewing more information seized during the raid and that “hundreds more” records could be declassified in the future.
The intelligence agency declassified the names of 39 English-language books seized at bin Laden’s compound. These included books about the Central Intelligence Agency; Christianity and Islam in Spain from 756 until 1031; and Bob Woodward’s 2010 book, “Obama’s Wars.”
In addition to the books, the documents seized at bin Laden’s compound included 35 items published by other extremist groups, most of which came from Khalifah Publications. Read the rest of this entry »
In a ruling certain to profoundly shape the ongoing debate over surveillance reform in Congress, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has ruled that the National Security Agency’s indiscriminate collection of Americans’ telephone calling records exceeds the legal authority granted by the Patriot Act’s controversial section 215, which is set to expire at the end of this month.
Comments Cato scholar Julian Sanchez, “While the court didn’t reach the crucial question of whether the program violates the Fourth Amendment, the ruling gives civil libertarians good reason to hope that a massive and egregious violation of every American’s privacy will finally come to an end.”
- “Second Circuit Declares NSA’s Telephone Dragnet Unlawful,” by Julian Sanchez
- “In Holding NSA Spying Illegal, the Second Circuit Treats Data as Property,” by Jim Harper
Dana Hedgpeth, Sari Horwitz and Ellen Nakashima report: One person was killed and at least one other was injured Monday when shots were fired after two people in a vehicle tried to ram a gate at Fort Meade, a military installation in Anne Arundel County that houses the National Security Agency, according to officials with knowledge of the investigation.
“The shooting scene is contained, and we do not believe it is related to terrorism.”
— Amy J. Thoreson, a spokeswoman for the FBI
Authorities did not release any details of exactly what happened, but law enforcement officials said police officers with the National Security Agency shot at the two people in the vehicle. One of them was killed, the officials said. There were no details immediately available on the condition of the second person.
Two U.S. officials said the men in the vehicle were dressed as women, but they both cautioned that the information is preliminary.
Just before 11 a.m., NSA officials said they had no further information.
In a statement, issued around 11:30 a.m., the FBI Baltimore office said it was investigating a shooting at a gate at Fort Meade.
“The shooting scene is contained, and we do not believe it is related to terrorism,” said Amy J. Thoreson, a spokeswoman for the FBI. She said the incident is being investigated by the FBI with NSA Police and other law enforcement agencies.
FBI crews from its evidence response team are processing the scene and agents are interviewing witnesses, she said. Deputy White House press secretary Eric Schultz said President Obama has been briefed on the incident. Read the rest of this entry »
“I think the ‘conservatarian’ term is not a linguistic trick, it is a substantive attempt to describe a certain coterie on the right,” explains Charles C. W. Cooke, a writer for National Review and author of The Conservatarian Manifesto: Libertarians, Conservatives, and the Fight for the Right’s Future“. “These are the people who say when they are around libertarians they feel conservative, and when they are around conservatives they feel libertarian…(read more)
[Check out Charles C. W. Cooke‘s new book: “The Conservatarian Manifesto: Libertarians, Conservatives, and the Fight for the Right’s Future” at Amazon.com]
THE PANTSUIT REPORT: State Dept: ‘We have reviewed Secretary Clinton’s official personnel file and administrative files and do not have any record of her signing…’Posted: March 17, 2015
This agonizing pretense finally ended on Tuesday, as State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki finally admitted there seems to be no record of Clinton following the OF-109 requirements
John Hayward reports: Another piece of the puzzle fell into place in Hillary Clinton’s ever-deepening email scandal, as the State Department – following days of absolutely absurd foot-dragging – finally admitted it can’t seem to find any record of her signed Form OF-109.
“It’s not clear that this form is used as a part of a standard part of checkout across the federal government or even at the State Department…”
This is a crucial document signed by departing State Department employees, testifying that all official records have been turned over, including – but not limited to – classified materials and emails. Since it is manifestly obvious that Hillary Clinton didn’t turn over all such materials, her signature on the OF-109 would have constituted perjury.
:…We’re looking into how standard this is across the federal government and certainly at the State Department… I don’t want to characterize how common practice it is.”
Ever since lawyers familiar with this document began describing it, the State Department has been asked to produce the exit paperwork for Clinton (and her top aides Cheryl Mills, Huma Abedin, and Philippe Reines, who also had accounts on Clinton’s secret email server.) The Republican National Committee filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the documents. Even Clinton-friendly reporters have been asking about it.
Somehow our titanic $3.5 trillion mega government – the same government that just took over the Internet, the brilliant bureaucratic machine that understands health care better than any doctor and investment better than any capitalist – couldn’t seem to find that important piece of paper. Excuses that the government wouldn’t accept from the smallest private enterprise in America were proffered for State’s golly-gee-whiz-aw-shucks inability to produce a crucial form. The same people who love to bury citizens beneath towering piles of paperwork, demanding requests in triplicate for permission to do virtually anything, claimed they had no idea what happened to the Secretary of State’s termination papers. Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] Meet the Department of the Internet! We’ll be Handling the Internet You Love, but at the Speed of GovernmentPosted: February 24, 2015
Meet the Department of the Internet! We’ll be handling the Internet you love, but at the speed of government. https://t.co/xDIjKdpete
— Dept. Of Internet (@Dept_Internet) February 23, 2015
Since the facility was built, Utah government has had up to 300 million attempted attacks a day
Five years ago, Utah government computer systems faced 25,000 to 30,000 attempted cyberattacks every day.
At the time, Utah Public Safety Commissioner Keith Squires thought that was massive. “But this last year we have had spikes of over 300 million attacks against the state databases” each day: a 10,000-fold increase.
Why? Squires says it is probably because Utah is home to the new, secretive National Security Agency computer center, and hackers believe they can somehow get to it through state computer systems. Read the rest of this entry »
The system, referred to as Naval Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air, or NIFC-CA, uses Aegis radar, and airborne sensor and SM-6 missile to find, track and destroy approaching threats such as cruise missiles at ranges well beyond the typical radar horizon, Navy officials said.
Alongside Aegis radar and an SM-6 missile, NIFC-CA uses an E-2D Hawkeye aircraft as an airborne sensor to help relay threat information to the ship from beyond its normal radar range.
“We are looking at alternative airborne sensors,” the executive said.
The idea with a demonstration, sources indicate, would be to use the F-35 as an airborne relay node or sensor in place of the E-2D Hawkeye. This could allow NIFC-CA to operate against an increasingly complex set of targets such as stealthy targets, the Lockheed executive explained. Read the rest of this entry »
“We cover what we are allowed to cover. And when policy decisions and presidents are inaccessible and don’t take questions from the press on a regular basis, I think they reap what they sow.”
The journalist, who retired in August after a 40-year career, revealed to C-SPAN’s Brian Lamb: “I have seen in the last year Barack Obama really angry twice. Both were off-the-record times. One, profanity-laced where he thought the press was making too much of scandals that he did not think were scandals.” [MP3 audio here.]
She explained, “And I don’t find him apologetic. But I find him willing to stand up to the press and look them in the eye, even though it was off the record and just give us hell.”
“Before I walked out the door on September 10, I was a strong voice for complaining that this particular administration has been more opaque than any I have covered about what the President does in the Oval Office everyday…”
After Lamb wondered if the President had a point, she chided, “We cover what we are allowed to cover. And when policy decisions and presidents are inaccessible and don’t take questions from the press on a regular basis, I think they reap what they sow.”
Despite Obama’s apparent rage against the press, he hasn’t had much to complain about. The Media Research Center documented how journalists covered-up his failures and scandals.
Earlier in the hour-long C-SPAN interview, which aired on Sunday night, but was recorded in October, Compton slammed the “opaque” administration:
ANN COMPTON: Before I walked out the door on September 10, I was a strong voice for complaining that this particular administration has been more opaque than any I have covered about what the President does in the Oval Office everyday. He is far less accessible on photo-ops with meetings. Even some meetings on the record, meeting in the Roosevelt room with financial leaders from, from Wall Street or on issues with environmental groups, or with issues with environmental groups, with public opinion leaders, I think most presidents have been far more forthcoming than the second Obama term, in terms of what the President is doing every day and we almost never get photo-ops.
She added that it’s fine for the White House to take its own photographs, but “those same elements should not be blocked from the White House press corps.”
Interestingly, on Compton’s last day in August, the President called on her for a final question. She chose to ask about the police shooting in Ferguson, not the concerns she expressed to C-SPAN. Read the rest of this entry »
Fake Cellphone Towers on Planes Used to Target Criminals, but Also Sift Through Thousands of Other Phones
WASHINGTON—Devlin Barrett reports: The Justice Department is scooping up data from thousands of cellphones through fake communications towers deployed on airplanes, a high-tech hunt for criminal suspects that is snagging a large number of innocent Americans, according to people familiar with the operations.
“The program cuts out phone companies as an intermediary in searching for suspects. Rather than asking a company for cell-tower information to help locate a suspect, which law enforcement has criticized as slow and inaccurate, the government can now get that information itself.”
The U.S. Marshals Service program, which became fully functional around 2007, operates Cessna aircraft from at least five metropolitan-area airports, with a flying range covering most of the U.S. population, according to people familiar with the program.
“Similar devices are used by U.S. military and intelligence officials operating in other countries, including in war zones, where they are sometimes used to locate terrorist suspects, according to people familiar with the work. In the U.S., these people said, the technology has been effective in catching suspected drug dealers and killers. They wouldn’t say which suspects were caught through this method.”
Planes are equipped with devices—some known as “dirtboxes” to law-enforcement officials because of the initials of the Boeing Co. unit that produces them—which mimic cell towers of large telecommunications firms and trick cellphones into reporting their unique registration information. Read the rest of this entry »
First Apple and then Google announced that they would use encryption on new phones that wouldn’t permit them to help police execute warrants to examine data on a cell phone or other device.
For City Journal, Judith Miller writes: Law enforcement officials in New York and Washington criticized technology superpowers Google and Apple this week for selling cell phones and other devices that cannot be accessed by the government, warning that such technology jeopardizes public safety.
In his first major policy address, FBI director James B. Comey called on Congress and the Obama administration to counter the expanding use of such devices, which he and other law enforcement officials assert endanger efforts to prevent terrorism and fight crime. Without lawful government access to cell phones and Internet devices, Comey warned, “homicide cases could be stalled, suspects could walk free, and child exploitation victims might not be identified or recovered.”
“Law enforcement officials many legitimate ways to obtain the data stored on our devices. Weakening the security of smartphones and trusted communications infrastructure should not be one of them.”
— Nuala O’Connor, president of the Center for Democracy and Technology
Comey, who became FBI director last year, said that he understood Americans’ “justifiable surprise” at former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden’s revelations about U.S. government surveillance practices. Read the rest of this entry »
The Washington Post reports: Apple said Wednesday night that it is making it impossible for the company to turn over data from most iPhones or iPads to police — even when they have a search warrant — taking a hard new line as tech companies attempt to blunt allegations that they have too readily participated in government efforts to collect user information.
“Unlike our competitors, Apple cannot bypass your passcode and therefore cannot access this data,” Apple said on its Web site. “So it’s not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession running iOS 8.”
As the new operating system becomes widely deployed over the next several weeks, the number of iPhones and iPads that Apple is capable of breaking into for police will steadily dwindle to the point where only devices several years old — and incapable of running iOS 8 — can be unlocked by Apple.
Apple will still have the ability — and the legal responsibility — to turn over user data stored elsewhere, such as in its iCloud service, which typically includes backups of photos, videos, e-mail communications, music collections and more. Users who want to prevent all forms of police access to their information will have to adjust settings in a way that blocks data from flowing to iCloud. Read the rest of this entry »
Ordinary Internet users, American and non-American alike, far outnumber legally targeted foreigners in the communications intercepted by the National Security Agency from U.S. digital networks, according to a four-month investigation by The Washington Post.
Nine of 10 account holders found in a large cache of intercepted conversations, which former NSA contractor Edward Snowden provided in full to The Post, were not the intended surveillance targets but were caught in a net the agency had cast for somebody else.
The Post reviewed roughly 160,000 intercepted e-mail and instant-message conversations, some of them hundreds of pages long, and 7,900 documents taken from more than 11,000 online accounts.
Many of them were Americans. Nearly half of the surveillance files, a strikingly high proportion, contained names, e-mail addresses or other details that the NSA marked as belonging to U.S. citizens or residents. NSA analysts masked, or “minimized,” more than 65,000 such references to protect Americans’ privacy, but The Post found nearly 900 additional e-mail addresses, unmasked in the files, that could be strongly linked to U.S. citizens or U.S.residents.
The material spans President Obama’s first term, from 2009 to 2012, a period of exponential growth for the NSA’s domestic collection.
The surveillance files highlight a policy dilemma that has been aired only abstractly in public. There are discoveries of considerable intelligence value in the intercepted messages — and collateral harm to privacy on a scale that the Obama administration has not been willing to address.
Among the most valuable contents — which The Post will not describe in detail, to avoid interfering with ongoing operations — are fresh revelations about a secret overseas nuclear project, double-dealing by an ostensible ally, a military calamity that befell an unfriendly power, and the identities of aggressive intruders into U.S. computer networks. Read the rest of this entry »