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Snowden: Journalism

The All-Seeing “i”: Apple Just Declared War on Your Privacy

The All-Seeing “i”: Apple Just Declared War on Your Privacy

“Under His Eye,” she says. The right farewell.
“Under His Eye,” I reply, and she gives a little nod.

By now you’ve probably heard that Apple plans to push a new and uniquely intrusive surveillance system out to many of the more than one billion iPhones it has sold, which all run the behemoth’s proprietary, take-it-or-leave-it software. This new offensive is tentatively slated to begin with the launch of iOS 15⁠—almost certainly in mid-September⁠—with the devices of its US user-base designated as the initial targets. We’re told that other countries will be spared, but not for long.

You might have noticed that I haven’t mentioned which problem it is that Apple is purporting to solve. Why? Because it doesn’t matter.

Having read thousands upon thousands of remarks on this growing scandal, it has become clear to me that many understand it doesn’t matter, but few if any have been willing to actually say it. Speaking candidly, if that’s still allowed, that’s the way it always goes when someone of institutional significance launches a campaign to defend an indefensible intrusion into our private spaces. They make a mad dash to the supposed high ground, from which they speak in low, solemn tones about their moral mission before fervently invoking the dread spectre of the Four Horsemen of the Infopocalypse, warning that only a dubious amulet—or suspicious software update—can save us from the most threatening members of our species.

Suddenly, everybody with a principled objection is forced to preface their concern with apologetic throat-clearing and the establishment of bonafides: I lost a friend when the towers came down, however… As a parent, I understand this is a real problem, but

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Insecurity Industry

The Insecurity Industry

The greatest danger to national security has become the companies that claim to protect it

1.

The first thing I do when I get a new phone is take it apart. I don’t do this to satisfy a tinkerer’s urge, or out of political principle, but simply because it is unsafe to operate. Fixing the hardware, which is to say surgically removing the two or three tiny microphones hidden inside, is only the first step of an arduous process, and yet even after days of these DIY security improvements, my smartphone will remain the most dangerous item I possess.

The microphones inside my actual phone, prepped for surgery

Prior to this week’s Pegasus Project, a global reporting effort by major newspapers to expose the fatal consequences of the NSO Group—the new private-sector face of an out-of-control Insecurity Industry—most smartphone manufacturers along with much of the world press collectively rolled their eyes at me whenever I publicly identified a fresh-out-of-the-box iPhone as a potentially lethal threat.

Despite years of reporting that implicated the NSO Group’s for-profit hacking of phones in the deaths and detentions of journalists and human rights defenders; despite years of reporting that smartphone operating systems were riddled with catastrophic security flaws (a circumstance aggravated by their code having been written in aging programming languages that have long been regarded as unsafe); and despite years of reporting that even when everything works as intended, the mobile ecosystem is a dystopian hellscape of end-user monitoring and outright end-user manipulation, it is still hard for many people to accept that something that feels good may not in fact be good…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

My New Book on Journalism, Exposing Corruption, and the Resulting Risks, Dangers and Societal Changes

My New Book on Journalism, Exposing Corruption, and the Resulting Risks, Dangers and Societal Changes

On Mother’s Day in 2019, I obtained a massive archive of materials from Brazil’s most powerful officials. The reporting we did changed the country, and our lives.

In 2015, I travelled to Sweden for an event with former Washington Post reporter Carl Bernstein. It was billed as a conversation about modern journalism between the reporter who had broken the biggest story of the prior generation (Watergate) and the one responsible for the biggest story of the current one (NSA/Snowden revelations).

A couple of years earlier, at the height of the Snowden reporting, Bernstein and I had traded some barbed insults through the media. So before traveling to Sweden, he generously reached out to invite me to dinner in order, essentially, to clear the air so that we could have a civil conversation. The night before the event, we met for dinner at the hotel restaurant. We quickly laughed off the acrimony — it had been a couple of years prior, and both of us have had much worse said about us — and proceeded to have a perfectly enjoyable conversation.

Truth be told, I was excited to meet and talk to Bernstein. Though his Trump-era persona became conventionally fixated on melodramatizing Trump’s evils for CNN, at the time Bernstein for me was most associated with the high investigative drama of Watergate. As a kid, it was that journalistic triumph, along with the Pentagon Papers, that captured my obsessive attention and shaped my views of what journalism is: reporters and whistleblowers who risk everything and face various multi-level dangers to confront and expose corruption by the most powerful actors in society…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Snowden on Did We Agree to All of This?

Snowden on Did We Agree to All of This?

 

The Case For a Pardon of Edward Snowden by President Trump

The Case For a Pardon of Edward Snowden by President Trump

The real criminals are those he exposed: the security state officials who illegally and unconstitutionally spied on innocent people by the millions, and who still do so.

Edward Snowden speaks via video link at a news conference for the launch of a campaign calling for a pardon on September 14, 2016, in New York City (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images).

A U.S. appellate court in September unanimously ruled that the NSA’s program of mass domestic surveillance was illegal, as well as likely a violation of the Fourth Amendment’s guarantee against “unreasonable searches and seizures.” The court, and the broader public, knew about this illegal mass surveillance program created by the NSA only because Edward Snowden, while working inside that agency, discovered its existence and concluded in 2012 that the American public has the right know about what was being secretly done to them and their privacy by their own government.

Upon making the decision to blow the whistle on this security state illegality, Snowden delivered the documents relating to that program and other then-unknown systems of mass online surveillance not by dumping them indiscriminately on the internet or selling them or passing them to foreign governments, but by providing them to journalists (including myself) with The Guardian, The Washington Post and other news outlets. The documents Snowden provided were accompanied by requests to report them responsibly. He thus relinquished the power entirely to make decisions about which documents would and would not be published, leaving those decisions exclusively to news outlets.

NSA Dodges Questions About Controversial “Backdoors” In Tech Products

Edward Snowden’s whistleblowing campaign exposed the National Security Agency in 2013 for having “backdoors” into commercial technology products. The US spy agency worked with some Silicon Valley tech firms to develop covert methods of bypassing the standard authentication or encryption process of a network device so it could scan internet traffic without a warrant.

Snowden revealed the NSA’s special sauce in how it conducted domestic and foreign backdoor operations to collect vital intelligence, resulted in the agency reforming its spying process, and had to formulate new rules to limit future breaches and how it conducts spy operations, three former intelligence officials told Reuters.

However, a recent inquiry into the new guidelines by Senator Ron Wyden, a top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, yielded absolutely nothing as the spy agency dodged questions.

“Secret encryption back doors are a threat to national security and the safety of our families – it’s only a matter of time before foreign hackers or criminals exploit them in ways that undermine American national security,” Wyden told Reuters.

“The government shouldn’t have any role in planting secret back doors in encryption technology used by Americans,” he continued:

The agency refused to comment on its updated policies on current backdoor processes. NSA officials did say they were in the rebuilding trust phase with the private sector.

“At NSA, it’s common practice to constantly assess processes to identify and determine best practices,” said Anne Neuberger, who heads NSA’s year-old Cybersecurity Directorate. “We don’t share specific processes and procedures.”

Three former senior intelligence agency officials told Reuters that before a backdoor operation is conducted, the agency must “weigh the potential fallout and arrange for some kind of warning if the back door gets discovered and manipulated by adversaries.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

They Are Rolling Out The Architecture Of Oppression Now Because They Fear The People

They Are Rolling Out The Architecture Of Oppression Now Because They Fear The People

“As authoritarianism spreads, as emergency laws proliferate, as we sacrifice our rights, we also sacrifice our capability to arrest the slide into a less liberal and less free world,” NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden said in a recent interview. “Do you truly believe that when the first wave, this second wave, the 16th wave of the coronavirus is a long-forgotten memory, that these capabilities will not be kept? That these datasets will not be kept? No matter how it is being used, what is being built is the architecture of oppression.”

“Apple Inc. and Google unveiled a rare partnership to add technology to their smartphone platforms that will alert users if they have come into contact with a person with Covid-19,” reads a new report from Bloomberg. “People must opt in to the system, but it has the potential to monitor about a third of the world’s population.”

“World Health Organization executive director Dr. Michael Ryan said surveillance is part of what’s required for life to return to normal in a world without a vaccine. However, civil liberties experts warn that the public has little recourse to challenge these digital exercises of power once the immediate threat has passed,” reads a recent VentureBeatarticle titled “After coronavirus, AI could be central to our new normal“.


He is not wrong!

“Snowden Warns Governments Are Using Coronavirus to Build ‘the Architecture of Oppression’ “https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/bvge5q/snowden-warns-governments-are-using-coronavirus-to-build-the-architecture-of-oppression …Snowden Warns Governments Are Using Coronavirus to Build ‘the Architecture of Oppression’VICE co-founder Shane Smith interviews famed whistleblower Edward Snowden in “Shelter in Place,” a new series on VICE TV.vice.com


…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Permanent Record: A Book Anyone Who Uses the Internet MUST Read

Permanent Record: A Book Anyone Who Uses the Internet MUST Read

Most of us recall the day in 2013 when the outrageous invasions into our privacy by the NSA were suddenly brought to light. Soon it was discovered that a young man named Edward Snowden was the person who had blown the whistle on the things he’d seen while working in the Intelligence Community for the National Security Agency.

The articles, while thorough, don’t show the entire gamut of just how deeply invasive the NSA actually is. Nor do they fully convey Snowden’s decision to go public.

In his recently released book, Permanent Record, he gives you insight that is too deep to be covered in newspapers.

It’s an excellent read.

The book is very well-written in a conversational style. Snowden digs deep and discusses his despair to discover how some of the programs he created were being used. He paints such a vivid picture of his angst, I felt discomfort for him. Who among us would really be able to give up everything in the attempt to right an egregious wrong?

Snowden’s job put him in a unique position to see the abuses of which most of us were blissfully unaware. Even the most paranoid among us probably didn’t fathom exactly how much information was being stored about us.

His personality shines through on the page. He was in his late 20s, in a relationship with a woman he truly loved. He was on the fast-track to success, and he was making money hand over fist.  And still, the things he saw during the dark hours of his work shift in “The Tunnel” preyed on his conscience until eventually, he felt that he had to act.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Edward Snowden and Turnkey Tyranny

snowden
Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden recently talked to Joe Rogan for nearly three hours.  Snowden has a book out (“Permanent Record“) about his life and his decision to become a whistleblower who exposed lies and crimes by the U.S. national security state.  As I watched Snowden’s interview, I jotted down notes and thoughts I had.  (The interview itself has more than seven million views on YouTube and rising, which is great to see.)  The term in my title, “turnkey tyranny,” is taken from the interview.

My intent here is not to summarize Snowden’s entire interview.  I want to focus on some points he made that I found especially revealing, pertinent, and insightful.

Without further ado, here are 12 points I took from this interview:

1.  People who reach the highest levels of government do so by being risk-averse.  Their goal is never to screw-up in a major way.  This mentality breeds cautiousness, mediocrity, and buck-passing.  (I saw the same in my 20 years in the U.S. military.)

2.  The American people are no longer partners of government.  We are subjects.  Our rights are routinely violated even as we become accustomed (or largely oblivious) to a form of turnkey tyranny.

3.  Intelligence agencies in the U.S. used 9/11 to enlarge their power.  They argued that 9/11 happened because there were “too many restrictions” on them.  This led to the PATRIOT Act and unconstitutional global mass surveillance, disguised as the price of being kept “safe” from terrorism.  Simultaneously, America’s 17 intelligence agencies wanted most of all not to be blamed for 9/11.  They wanted to ensure the buck stopped nowhere.  This was a goal they achieved.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Edward Snowden on the Joe Rogan Podcast–Says US Government Could Have Prevented 9/11

EDWARD SNOWDEN ON THE JOE ROGAN PODCAST – SAYS US GOVERNMENT COULD HAVE PREVENTED 9/11

Edward Snowden on the Joe Rogan Podcast – Says US Government Could Have Prevented 9/11

Since 2013 the real government whistleblower, Edward Snowden, has been in political asylum in Russia, where he continues to write books and tell his story of how as an employee of the NSA he discovered that the government was breaking the law in constructing a massive surveillance state. Today, the surveillance is such a ubiquitous par of our lives, that people have come to see it as a normal part of everyday life, and hardly any politician bothers to work against it. It’s here to stay, sadly.

Recently, Snowden published a book entitled Permanent Record, which was immediately attacked by the US government, prompting them to sue Snowden for all of the profits related to the book. The government does not want you to hear his message. Ironically, though, Permanent Record became an instant bestseller, and Snowden’s popularity has only increased in recent years.

In a newly released podcast by Joe Rogan, Snowden calls in from Russia, talking about his understanding of how corruption from within has led the permanent establishment of the massive and highly profitable surveillance state which has filled the coffers of defense contractors and corrupt politicians. Snowden discusses the fact that all three branches of the U.S government are corrupt and that for admirable government employees who witness government agencies breaking the law have no available channels to blow the whistle and get the truth out to the American people.

Interestingly, in the podcast Snowden also talks about his experience on 9/11 when he was working for a small business out of a house on Fort Meade near the DC metro area. He describes how the base, which is home to a vast portion of the U.S. Military’s intelligence apparatus, was immediately dispatched and the base cleared as soon as the events of the day began to unfold.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Snowden Spills: Infamous Whistleblower Opines On Spycraft, AI, And Being Suicided

Snowden Spills: Infamous Whistleblower Opines On Spycraft, AI, And Being Suicided

Edward Snowden has finally laid it all out – documenting his memoires in a new 432-page book, Permanent Record, which will be published worldwide on Tuesday, September 17. 

Meeting with both The Guardian and Spiegel Online in Moscow as part of its promotion, the infamous whistleblower spent nearly five hours with the two media outlets – offering a taste of what’s in the book, details on his background, and his thoughts on artificial intelligence, facial recognition, and other intelligence gathering tools coming to a dystopia near you. 

While The Guardian interview is ‘okay,’ scroll down for the far more interesting Spiegel interview, where Snowden goes way deeper into his cloak-and-dagger life, including thoughts on getting suicided. 

Manufacturing Slump May Spill Over Into Services: Continuum Economics

First, The Guardian:

Snowden describes in detail for the first time his background, and what led him to leak details of the secret programmes being run by the US National Security Agency (NSA) and the UK’s secret communication headquarters, GCHQ.

He describes the 18 years since the September 11 attacks as “a litany of American destruction by way of American self-destruction, with the promulgation of secret policies, secret laws, secret courts and secret wars”.

Snowden also said: “The greatest danger still lies ahead, with the refinement of artificial intelligence capabilities, such as facial and pattern recognition.

An AI-equipped surveillance camera would be not a mere recording device, but could be made into something closer to an automated police officer.”  –The Guardian

Other notables from the Guardian interview: 

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Doubts at the NSA: Shelving a Mass Surveillance Program

Doubts at the NSA:  Shelving a Mass Surveillance Program

Earlier this year, Luke Murry, national security adviser for Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, revealed that the National Security Agency had been averse over the last six months to using the phone surveillance program that hoovers information from millions of US phone calls and text messages.  This was hardly a comforting point; the issue spoke as much to competence as it did to any broader issue of warrantless surveillance of the good people in Freedom’s land.  Vast, cumbersome, and generally self-defeating, the essence of such programs is paranoid inefficiency.  Put it down to “technical issues”, suggested Murry.

The Call Details Records (CDR) program, hostile to liberties in its warrantless nature, has been a fixture of the US security landscape since 2001, when that nasty piece of legislation known as the USA PATRIOT ACT found its way onto the statue books.  The program was given legal approval by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court pursuant to Section 215 of that dastardly piece of penmanship.

The extent of its operation was unveiled in dramatic fashion by Edward Snowden to media outlets in 2013, the surveillance system specific to gathering the metadata of domestic phone calls, a mosaic of caller, recipient and time of contact, has been the subject of scrutiny. There are numerous others, but this one came in for special attention.

As Elliot Harmer of the Electronic Frontier Foundation explains, “While these records don’t contain the actual contents of telephone calls, they do include phone numbers and call times and length – more than enough information to prove the NSA with a clear picture of our social relationships, interests and affiliations.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Price of Participating in Society is the Sacrifice of Privacy and Self

The Price of Participating in Society is the Sacrifice of Privacy and Self

In what is arguably one of the most craven opportunistic moves by a business/media group to increase its circulation/profitability, on 10 April the New York Times (NYT) embarked on what it describes as its Privacy ProjectA day later on 11 April, no doubt with the NYT’s foreknowledge of what was to come thanks to an unofficial US government tip, Ecuador revoked Julian Assange’s (Wikileaks founder) asylum in its UK Embassy and fed him to the British Police dogs eagerly awaiting to arrest him and dump him in jail.

In May 2017 I wrote that Assange was doomed from the get-go to be arrested and handed over to the US Government and that it would only be a matter of time before Edward Snowden befell a similar fate.

Chelsea Manning’s leaked information made WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange, a household name. It also made them permanent enemies of the US State. In 2010, Assange released a video that he called Collateral Murder. The video shows an airstrike in which Iraqi journalists are killed. Other releases based on Manning’s leak were known as the Afghan Diary and Iraq War Logs. The diplomatic cables exposed some of the silly machinations of the US State Department and the over classification of documents.

Meanwhile, mainstream media (MSM) outlets like the New York Times and Washington Post feasted on the leaks and gave them prominent coverage daily, even as they excoriated Assange and his merry band of leakers. The MSM believes that WikiLeaks is not “real” journalism even as they used the classified material Assange provided to bolster their subscription numbers. Aren’t they accessories to Assange’s crime? Apparently they are not.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Warning Mr. Trump

Warning Mr. Trump

Pablo Picasso Crucifixion 1930

President Donald J. Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20500.

Mr. President,

I write to you because I’m seeing something unfold that concerns you, and I have no way of knowing if you’re aware of it, nor have I seen anyone else mention it. That is, sir, you are being set up, a trap is being set for you, and unless you are aware of it, you may well walk into that trap eyes wide open.

It may not be in your briefing this morning, but the WikiLeaks organization has reported that high-ranking Ecuadorean state officials have told them Julian Assange will be expelled from their London embassy in a matter of “hours to days”. Now, I don’t know what your personal opinion is of Mr. Assange, maybe you think he deserves punishment for leaking secret files to the public.

Your personal opinion of Mr. Assange, however, is not the most important issue here, no offense. What’s most important to your own situation, as well as that of Mr. Assange, is that the people who are after him are the very same people who have been after you for 3 years, and who will double their efforts after suffering a huge loss due to Robert Mueller’s No Collusion report.

What the trap set for you consists of is that if you let these -largely anonymous- deep state actors get their hands on Mr. Assange, you will greatly empower them (even further). But, sir, his enemies inside US intelligence are the same as yours, and empowering one’s enemies is not the way to do battle.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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