We begin today’s headlines from the worlds of cloaks, daggers, and militarism with a story close to home via the Oakland Tribune:
Nuclear law again threatens Oakland surveillance hub
Once again a Cold War era law prohibiting Oakland from contracting with firms that work on nuclear weapon projects is threatening to derail completion of an intelligence center whose surveillance capabilities have spurred opposition from privacy advocates.
The City Council will meet Tuesday to decide whether to contract with Schneider Electronic Inc. to complete the Domain Awareness Center. The joint city and Port of Oakland project would establish a data hub where feeds from street cameras, gunshot sensors and other surveillance tools would be broadcast on a bank of constantly monitored television screens.
Should the council determine that Schneider violates the Oakland’s Nuclear Free Ordinance, the city and port most likely would lose $1 million in federal grant funding that is tied to the project being completed by the end of May, officials said.
And on to the latest Edward Snowden revelation from The Guardian:
Snowden revelations of NSA spying on Copenhagen climate talks spark anger
- Documents leaked by Edward Snowden show NSA kept US negotiators abreast of their rivals’ positions at 2009 summit
Developing countries have reacted angrily to revelations that the United States spied on other governments at the Copenhagen climate summit in 2009.
Documents leaked by Edward Snowden show how the US National Security Agency (NSA) monitored communication between key countries before and during the conference to give their negotiators advance information about other positions at the high-profile meeting where world leaders including Barack Obama, Gordon Brown and Angela Merkel failed to agree to a strong deal on climate change.
Jairam Ramesh, the then Indian environment minister and a key player in the talks that involved 192 countries and 110 heads of state, said: “Why the hell did they do this and at the end of this, what did they get out of Copenhagen? They got some outcome but certainly not the outcome they wanted. It was completely silly of them. First of all, they didn’t get what they wanted. With all their hi-tech gizmos and all their snooping, ultimately the Basic countries [Brazil, South Africa, India and China] bailed Obama out. With all their snooping what did they get?”
Confrontation from the McClatchy Washington Bureau:
Senators grill spy chiefs, accuse them of lies
Members of the Senate Intelligence Committee lambasted the nation’s top intelligence chiefs on Wednesday, complaining of lies about gathering the phone records of Americans and failing to cooperate with Congress in an investigation of the CIA’s controversial interrogation programs.
Committee members grilled Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and CIA Director John Brennan at the first intelligence committee hearing since President Barack Obama proposed reforms to the spy program.
Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., told them an ongoing “culture of misinformation” has undermined the public’s trust in America’s intelligence leadership.
Whistyleblower hate from the Los Angeles Times:
Intelligence leakers pose ‘critical threat’ to U.S., say spy chiefs
Insiders such as Edward Snowden who leak secrets about sensitive U.S. intelligence programs pose a “critical threat” to the United States, America’s spy chiefs warned Congress in their annual report on global national security risks.
For the first time, the threat of unauthorized disclosures from “trusted insiders” was ranked as the second greatest potential threat to the country, after cyberattacks but ahead of international terrorism, in the document prepared by the 16 agencies that make up the U.S. intelligence community.
Those individuals aren’t necessarily working with foreign intelligence agencies, the document says. Some members of Congress have all but accused Snowden of working for Russia’s spy service, but no clear evidence has emerged to support the contention.
“The capabilities and activities through which foreign entities — both state and nonstate actors — seek to obtain U.S. national security information are new, more diverse and more technically sophisticated,” the document says.
The Washington Post offers a plea:
U.S. intelligence director calls on Snowden to return NSA documents
The head of the U.S. intelligence community on Wednesday called on Edward Snowden, a former contractor with the National Security Agency, to return the massive trove of documents in his possession.
Speaking before a Senate panel, James R. Clapper Jr., delivered blistering criticism of Snowden, describing him as a hypocrite who has severely harmed national security.
Clapper said the materials exposed by Snowden have bolstered adversaries, caused allies to cut off cooperation with the United States, triggered changes in communications by terrorist networks and put lives of intelligence operatives and assets at risk.
RT gets hyperbolic:
US officials say Snowden disclosures will lead to deaths, plead for an end to leaks
Revelations made possible through documents leaked by former contractor Edward Snowden could cause the deaths of United States diplomats, citizens and soldiers, government officials said Wednesday, and remaining files should be surrendered immediately.
US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper implored Mr. Snowden during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in Washington, DC early Wednesday to hand over what remains of a trove of top-secret documents allegedly still in his possession after fleeing the country last year with a cache of classified material. Officials have claimed the total number of stolen documents could exceed 1.7 million.
Speaking before the committee, DNI Clapper and his colleagues testified that the documents that have already been released to the media by Snowden during the last seven months have caused a significant blow to national security because they exposed an array of sensitive intelligence gathering tactics that have been jeopardized as a result.
Nomination from the London Daily Mail:
Edward Snowden is nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for ‘restoring balance between national security and individual freedom’
- Norwegian members of parliament nominate Snowden for Peace Price
- Socialist Left Party politicians say he has made world ‘a safer place’
- Nobel Peace Prize committee accepts nominations until February 1st
Two Norwegian MPs have nominated NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden for the Nobel Peace Prize 2014.
Bård Vegar Solhjell and Snorre Valen, both parliamentary representatives of Sosialistisk Venstreparti, the Socialist Left Party, argue that Snowden’s release of classified documents has made the world a safer place.
The Project On Government Oversight plotting a coup:
Six House Members Seek to Oust Intelligence Director
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper should be removed because of untruthful statements he made before Congress concerning the intelligence community’s use of bulk data collection programs, six members of Congress said this week in a letter sent to President Obama (pdf).
The letter—signed by Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Ted Poe (R-Texas), Paul Broun (R-Ga.), Doug Collins (R-Ga.), Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) and Walter Jones (R-N.C.)—refers to testimony Clapper gave the Senate Intelligence Committee in March, when Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) asked him whether the NSA collects “any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans.” Clapper’s responded without hesitation: “No, sir. Not wittingly. There are cases where they could, inadvertently perhaps, collect – but not wittingly.”
Justification from the McClatchy Washington Bureau:
Attorney General Holder defends legality of surveillance program
Attorney General Eric Holder on Tuesday aligned himself with the conclusions of judges who found the mass collection of telephone data to be constitutional.
But that legal conclusion, Holder told the Senate Judiciary Committee, is not the end of the debate over the so-called Section 215 program.
“I believe (the judges) are correct that it is constitutional,” Holder said, under questioning by a skeptical committee chairman, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. “The question is, just because we can do something, should we do it?”
Tokenism from Network World:
NSA gets its first civil liberties and privacy officer
Former Homeland Security official Rebecca Richards is said to have new role
The National Security Agency has reportedly appointed Rebecca Richards, a former deputy privacy official at the Department of Homeland Security, as its first privacy officer.
Richards will start her new role next month, according to a blog post Tuesday by former deputy assistant secretary at the DHS Paul Rosenzweig.
An NSA spokeswoman would neither confirm nor deny Rosenzweig’s report. Instead, she pointed to comments by President Obama last August about the NSA’s taking steps to install a full-time civil liberties and privacy officer following NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s leaks about the agency’s surveillance practices.
The NSA spokeswoman confirmed that the appointee would start in the new role next month. Additional details would become available today, she said.
Boing Boing gets ominous for the Fourth Estate:
US intel chief James Clapper: journalists reporting on leaked Snowden NSA docs “accomplices” to crime
In a Senate Judiciary Hearing on NSA surveillance today, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper insinuated dozens of journalists reporting on documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden were “accomplices” to a crime. His spokesman further suggested Clapper was referring to journalists after the hearing had concluded.
If this is the official stance of the US government, it is downright chilling.
Clapper is engaged in the same treatment of journalists that the Justice Department allegedly repudiated just months ago.
Wired gets legal:
Terror Defendant Challenges Evidence Gathered by NSA Spying
A U.S. terrorism defendant who was formally notified that he was spied on by the NSA filed a challenge to the constitutionality of the surveillance today, in a case likely to be litigated all the way to the Supreme Court.
Jamshid Muhtorov, a native of Uzbekistan who immigrated to Colorado, is one of only two criminal defendants the government has conceded was charged on the basis of evidence scooped up by the NSA’s surveillance programs. The spying was authorized by the controversial FISA Amendments Act.
The Supreme Court last year rejected a suit challenging the law because the civil rights groups and others who brought the case could not prove their communications were intercepted, and hence didn’t have “standing” to sue. That issue won’t come up for Muhtorov, says the Americans Civil Liberties Union, which is representing Muhtorov.
“For five years the government insulated this statute from judicial review by concealing from criminal defendants how the evidence against them was obtained,” says Mark Silverstein, legal director of the ACLU’s Colorado chapter. “But the government will not be able to shield the statute from review in this case.”
From The Guardian, Trans-Atlantic ornamental blowback:
Angela Merkel warns US over surveillance in first speech of third term
- ‘A programme in which the end justifies all means … violates trust,’ German chancellor says
Angela Merkel has used the first, agenda-setting speech of her third term in office to criticise America’s uncompromising defence of its surveillance activities.
In a speech otherwise typically short of strong emotion or rhetorical flourishes, the German chancellor found relatively strong words on NSA surveillance, two days before the US secretary of state, John Kerry, is due to visit Berlin.
“A programme in which the end justifies all means, in which everything that is technically possible is then acted out, violates trust and spreads mistrust,” she said. “In the end, it produces not more but less security.”
Network World offers the symbolic:
Hackers deface Angry Birds website following NSA spying claims
- The hackers placed an image with the message ‘Spying Birds’ on the site’s home page
The official Angry Birds website was defaced by hackers following reports that U.S. and U.K. intelligence agencies have been collecting user information from the game and other popular mobile apps.
Some users trying to access the http://www.angrybirds.com website late Tuesday were greeted by an image depicting the Angry Birds game characters accompanied by the text “Spying Birds.” The U.S. National Security Agency’s logo was also visible in the image.
The NSA and Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) have been working together to collect geolocation data, address books, buddy lists, telephone logs and other pieces of information from “leaky” mobile apps, The New York Times reported Monday based on documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
From the Washington Post, cause for real insecurity:
Officials: 92 Air Force officers involved in test cheating scandal
At least 92 Air Force officers assigned to the nation’s nuclear arsenal have been implicated in a proficiency test cheating scandal and temporarily relieved of their duties, officials said Thursday, announcing they had temporarily taken out of commission nearly one-fifth of the nuclear force.
The widening scandal, which came to light after a probe into alleged drug use by nuclear operators, has exposed systemic integrity lapses in one of the Pentagon’s most critical, albeit largely unseen, missions.
The 92 personnel who were decertified are based at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana. Officers at the base oversee 150 Minuteman 3 nuclear missiles, one-third of the nation’s Minuteman 3 arsenal. The base is one of three where America’s 450 intercontinental ballistic missiles are kept. Officials on Thursday did not say whether they are reviewing the possibility that cheating has been commonplace at the other facilities.
RT strikes a trans-English Channel drone deal:
Entente Lethal: Britain, France to sign military drone development deal
Britain and France are set to develop a new generation of armed drones which will free them of their dependence on US-manufactured unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
President François Hollande will arrive in Britain on Friday for a summit with David Cameron at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire. The two leaders, flanked by their foreign, defense, and energy ministers, are set to ink multiple deals for developing combat drones, missile systems and submarines. There are also plans to establish a joint expeditionary force which will be applicable for a wide range of scenarios, including high intensity operations.
Friday’s summit stems from the Lancaster House Treaties of 2010, in which Cameron and then-French President Nickolas Sarkozy agreed on a raft of measures in defense and security cooperation.
And from intelNews.org, the old school method:
Israel jails Orthodox Jew who offered to spy for Iran
An Israeli citizen, who belongs to an Orthodox anti-Zionist Jewish group that rejects the existence of the state of Israel, has been jailed for offering to spy for Iran. Yitzhak Bergel, 46, a father of eight, who resides in Jerusalem’s ultra-Orthodox Mea She’arim neighborhood, is a member of the Neturei Karta —which translates in English as “Guardians of the City”.
The Jewish group opposes Zionism —the belief that a state-sanctioned Jewish homeland ought to be created in the territory described as “Land of Israel” in Jewish scriptural texts. The group, which was founded in the 1930s and has thousands of adherents in Israel, the United States and Europe, is one of several branches of conservative Judaism whose members believe that Jews are forbidden by the Torah to create their own state before the coming of the Jewish Messiah.
After the jump, the escalating Asian zonal and historic crises, a Chinese web crackdown, journalism under siege on four continents, some newpaper hackery in Old Blighty, and more. . . Continue reading