While we’re unsure what’s to become of our blog, we remain committed to pointing out developments likely to impinge on the future of folks, both those alive today and the yet-to-be-born.
Developments in the realm of technology and their potential to shred the last remaining vestiges of privacy in the interests of corporations and their symbiotes in the National Security State in an era of enforced globalization — and thus creating a new context for the human experience in which all our vulnerabilities become transparent to folks with a powerful interest in exploiting them in the interests of deep politics and corporate profiteering.
And with that preamble, on with the shoe, starting with deplorable military action in a perennial tinderbox. Via The Independent:
Israel-Gaza conflict: UN school shelled by Israeli tanks, leaving 15 dead and 200 wounded
- Doctors and officials described the strike as a ‘massacre’ mostly impacting children
While the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) had no immediate comment on the incident, news agency photographers reported seeing pools of blood on the ground in the courtyard of the school near the apparent impact mark of a shell.
Israeli Radio, without citing a source, said that most of those killed at the UN compound were children.
It comes after the UN’s humanitarian chief drew attention to the “major concern” of child fatalities in the conflict, which has seen one child killed every hour over the past three days.
On Tuesday, a spokesperson for the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said: “There is literally no safe place for civilians [in Gaza].”
From The Hill, the ornamental fruits of ornamental umbrage:
Senate NSA compromise likely to come next week
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) is close but not yet ready to unveil a negotiated measure to rein in government surveillance.
Despite reports that the bill could be revealed this week, people familiar with the discussions said Leahy will actually release the compromise legislation as early as Tuesday.
Leahy has been working with the administration on a compromise.
Earlier this week, an aide said conversations had turned a corner and they were “within inches” of an agreement. Leahy said Tuesday that he was “far more encouraged that we can finally come up with some legislation that will do two things.”
Whilst the Guardian adds critical context:
US warned: surveillance reform hinges on change to Reagan executive order
- John Napier Tye, a former State Department official, says Americans’ data remains vulnerable until executive order that provides NSA with a path to collect data is reformed
John Napier Tye is not Edward Snowden. He says he has no surveillance documents to disclose to journalists. He takes a nuanced position on Snowden’s disclosures.
Yet the 38-year old former State Department official has raised a Snowden-like alarm that Americans’ communication data remains highly vulnerable to surreptitious collection by the National Security Agency – and will remain vulnerable despite the legislative fixes wending through Congress to redress the bulk domestic phone data collection Snowden revealed.
Like Snowden, Tye means to spark a debate on the proper boundaries of NSA authorities. His focus is on an obscure, Reagan-era executive order that serves as a foundational set of rules for the intelligence apparatus. The order, known as Executive Order 12333, renders the current surveillance debate hollow, he said, even as it shows signs of traction in the Senate.
Next up, a critical Washington ally grows increasingly pissed, via intelNews:
Up to 20 US spies inside German government: media reports
German counterintelligence has intensified its surveillance of “certain employees of the United States embassy” in Berlin, after internal reports suggested that “up to 20″ agents of the American government are operating inside the German federal bureaucracy.
Citing information “from American security circles”, German newspaper Bild am Sonntag said on Sunday that the agents are German citizens who are secretly employed by a variety of American civilian and military intelligence agencies in return for money.
The Berlin-based tabloid noted that at least a dozen such agents have infiltrated four departments of the German federal government, namely the Ministries of Defense, Finance, Interior, as well as the Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. The paper said that the latter has been targeted by the US Central Intelligence Agency because it is routinely employed by the BND, Germany’s main external intelligence organization, as a cover for clandestine activities.
From The Independent again, a response:
Germany begins spying on Britain and America for the first time since 1945
- Government responds to a series of spy scandals which began last year with revelations that the NSA had bugged Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone
Chancellor Angela Merkel has ordered her counter-espionage services to begin surveillance of British and American intelligence gathering in Germany for the first time since 1945 in response to a series of US spy scandals which have badly soured relations between Berlin and Washington.
The Süddeutsche Zeitung and two-state funded German TV channels, WDR and NDR, quoted an unnamed Berlin government source who said Ms Merkel’s Chancellery and her interior and foreign ministries had agreed to launch counter-espionage measures against Britain and the US for the first time.
“Right now we need to send a strong signal,” the Süddeutsche Zeitung quoted the source as saying. The extraordinary measures are a direct response to a series of embarrassing US and British spying scandals in Germany which began last year with revelations that the US National Security Agency had bugged Ms Merkel’s mobile phone.
More from Spiegel:
Keeping Spies Out: Germany Ratchets Up Counterintelligence Measures
- Officials in Berlin were long in denial that their closest allies were spying on Germany. Now, ministries are undertaking measures to improve security and counterintelligence. They’re anticipating frosty relations with the US for some time to come.
Last Wednesday, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière paid a visit to his colleague in the Foreign Ministry, Frank-Walter Steinmeier for a strictly confidential conversation about the currently tense relationship with the United States. Specifically, they planned to address the latest spying revelations and accusations. Before the meeting began, both ministers turned in their mobile phones. Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has a small side room he uses for this purpose; part of the Foreign Ministry is in the former Nazi Reichsbank and has very thick walls. The room is now used to store smartphones and tablet computers when sensitive discussions take place.
The precaution reflects the significant disquiet and anxiety in Berlin’s ministries and in the Chancellery as the summer holidays get underway. Slowly, ministry officials are starting to grapple with the true meaning of “360 degree” counterintelligence. It means defending yourself not just usual suspects like Russia or China. But also against Germany’s closest allies, particularly the United States.
A few days ago, Chancellor Merkel reportedly told US President Barack Obama in a telephone conversation that anger over the US spying activities in Berlin’s government quarter as well as the recruitment of an informant inside Germany’s Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) foreign intelligence service has in no way subsided. Because Obama apparently expressed little understanding for the commotion in Germany, Merkel is now taking action.
From the McClatchy Washington Bureau, a Washington diplomatic blitzkrieg:
Top Obama aides fly to Berlin to talk about spying allegations
Two weeks after Germany demanded that the top U.S. intelligence official stationed in its country leave, President Barack Obama has dispatched two top aides to Berlin.
White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough and Lisa Monaco, assistant to the president for counterterrorism and homeland security, met with their German counterparts in Berlin Tuesday “for intensive talks on the state of bilateral relations and future cooperation,” according to the White House.
The meeting came after German authorities said they were investigating new instances of spying, including one that targeted the parliamentary committee probing National Security Agency eavesdropping. Last year, reports indicated that the NSA was monitoring the communications of millions of Germans, including listening in on Merkel’s cellphone.
Meanwhile, from the Washington Post’s David Ignatius, meet that old Foggy Bottom familiar, Rosy Scenario:
Germany, U.S. rebuild a spy partnership
Given recent German indignation about the National Security Agency, it has been easy to overlook the fact that for decades the German government has cooperated extensively with the NSA on surveillance activities. But after a high-level meeting in Berlin this week, this long-standing but veiled cooperation may have a firmer legal and political base.
The two countries’ past partnership became so extensive that they even developed a special logo for their joint signals—intelligence activity, known by its initials, “JSA.” It shows an American bald eagle against the colors of the German flag, next to the words Der Zeitgeist, or “the spirit of the age.”
Like so much else we know about the NSA, the details about its activities in Germany come from Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor now living in Moscow. He provided a trove of secret documents to Der Spiegel, which published more than 50 online last month.
German anger about American spying boiled over recently with the expulsion of the CIA station chief in Berlin. The Germans were furious when they discovered that the CIA was paying a “walk-in” German agent, adding to their anger that the NSA had tapped Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone.
From the New York Times, more fallout from the Dark Side:
European Court Censures Poland Over C.I.A. Rendition Program
The European Court of Human Rights ruled Thursday that Poland had violated the rights of two terrorism suspects by allowing their transfer to a secret detention center run by the C.I.A. in Poland, where the two men were tortured.
The ruling says Poland failed to prevent the two men — Abu Zubaydah, born in Saudi Arabia, and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, a Saudi citizen — from being subjected to “torture and inhuman or degrading treatment” after they were brought to a clandestine prison in northeast Poland. It ordered Poland to pay 100,000 euros, about $135,000, to Mr. Nashiri and $175,000 to Abu Zubaydah. Both are being held at the American detention center in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
Abu Zubaydah is believed to have overseen the operation of guesthouses in Pakistan where terrorism recruits arrived; he vetted them and provided letters of recommendation allowing them to be accepted for training at a paramilitary camp in Afghanistan, a former Guantánamo detainee said in a military court filing, for example. Mr. Nashiri is accused of plotting the 2000 bombing of the American destroyer Cole.
While The Intercept covers the Kafkaesque:
The Secret Government Rulebook For Labeling You a Terrorist
The Obama administration has quietly approved a substantial expansion of the terrorist watchlist system, authorizing a secret process that requires neither “concrete facts” nor “irrefutable evidence” to designate an American or foreigner as a terrorist, according to a key government document obtained by The Intercept.
The “March 2013 Watchlisting Guidance,” a 166-page document issued last year by the National Counterterrorism Center, spells out the government’s secret rules for putting individuals on its main terrorist database, as well as the no fly list and the selectee list, which triggers enhanced screening at airports and border crossings. The new guidelines allow individuals to be designated as representatives of terror organizations without any evidence they are actually connected to such organizations, and it gives a single White House official the unilateral authority to place entire “categories” of people the government is tracking onto the no fly and selectee lists. It broadens the authority of government officials to “nominate” people to the watchlists based on what is vaguely described as “fragmentary information.” It also allows for dead people to be watchlisted.
Over the years, the Obama and Bush Administrations have fiercely resisted disclosing the criteria for placing names on the databases—though the guidelines are officially labeled as unclassified. In May, Attorney General Eric Holder even invoked the state secrets privilege to prevent watchlisting guidelines from being disclosed in litigation launched by an American who was on the no fly list. In an affidavit, Holder called them a “clear roadmap” to the government’s terrorist-tracking apparatus, adding: “The Watchlisting Guidance, although unclassified, contains national security information that, if disclosed … could cause significant harm to national security.”
From Newser, the War on Photography continues, this time with violence [as well as another touch of Kafka]:
Border Official Points Gun… at Boy Scout: Troop Leader
- Another scout gets threatened with 10 years in prison
A couple weeks ago, a US border patrol official held a gun to the head of … a Boy Scout. A troop leader explains what happened now that the scouts and adult volunteers from Mid-Iowa Scout Troop 111 have returned from their 23-day trip: Ten days into the trip, their four vans attempted to cross from Canada into Alaska. One scout made an innocent error: He snapped a photo of a US border official. Troop Leader Jim Fox tells KCCI that officials detained everyone in that van and searched them and their luggage, and one agent confiscated the boy’s camera, telling him “he would be arrested, fined possibly $10,000 and 10 years in prison.” But it didn’t end there.
When another scout removed some luggage to comply with the search, Fox says the boy heard “a snap of a holster, and here’s this agent, both hands on a loaded pistol, pointing at the young man’s head.” No one was ultimately hurt or arrested—just scared—and after a four-hour ordeal, the group was allowed to enter Alaska. A Boy Scout official says the scouts learned an important lesson about being a “good citizen” and following rules. But as for that cited rule against photographing federal agents? It’s not exactly true. According to Reason.com, the American Civil Liberties Union says that photographing “things that are plainly visible from public spaces,” including government officials, “is a constitutional right.”
From ZDNet, suspicions confirmed!:
Forensic scientist identifies suspicious ‘back doors’ running on every iOS device
Forensic scientist and author Jonathan Zdziarski has posted the slides from his talk at the Hackers On Planet Earth (HOPE/X) conference in New York called Identifying Backdoors, Attack Points, and Surveillance Mechanisms in iOS Devices.
The HOPE conference started in 1994 and bills itself as “one of the most creative and diverse hacker events in the world.”
Zdziarski, better known as the hacker “NerveGas” in the iPhone development community, worked as dev-team member on many of the early iOS jailbreaks and is the author of five iOS-related O’Reilly books including “Hacking and Securing iOS Applications.”
And from Military & Aerospace Electronics, there’s more than angels looking over our shoulders:
U.S. UAV spending to triple over next 5 years
The U.S. market for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) will triple in size over the next five years, and should grow from $5 billion in 2013 to $15 billion in 2020, predict analysts at market researcher Information Gatekeepers Inc. (IGI) in Boston.
The IGI study entitled 2014 UAV Market Research Study takes a look at the total UAV market from large military UAVs to do-it-yourself (DIY) UAVs for amateurs, company officials say.
The study includes the following major market sectors including the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), civil, commercial, small UAVs, amateur and hobby UAVs, and radio-controlled UAVs.
TechWeekEurope covers another private sector initiative:
European Central Bank Held To Ransom Over Stolen Data
- Hackers steal partially encrypted records from an events website that belongs to the bank
Hackers have breached the public website of the European Central Bank (ECB) and made off with names, email addresses and other personal details of people who had registered for events there.
The attack came to light on Monday, after the organisation received an anonymous email which demanded an unspecified amount of money for the data.
The ECB said most of the stolen information was encrypted, and no sensitive market data has been compromised in the breach. It didn’t indicate whether it was going to pay the ransom.
The institution, which administers the monetary policy of the 18 members of the Eurozone who chose to adopt the single currency, was established by the Treaty of Amsterdam in 1998 and is one of the world’s most important central banks.
After the jump, the latest on the ever-escalation Sino-American trans-Pacific confrontation [including Latin American plays], Britain goes all Orwell, why some Spanish cops have to pee in a bottle daily [and not for te reasons you might expect], and Rob Ford falls prey top a Sharknado. . . Continue reading