Lots going on in the realms of spies, lies, media, and that constantly shifting and increasingly inflammatory Asian Game of Zones.
buzzfeed covers an intelligence failure:
White House “Did Not Know” National Guard Was Being Deployed In Ferguson
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon called the National Guard to Ferguson late Sunday without letting the White House know first.
“Folks didn’t know,” an administration official told BuzzFeed Monday. “The White House did not know they were sending it in.”
Nixon gave “no heads-up,” the official said.
From The Wire, and we hope that headline’s not literal:
Pentagon Fires Back At Critics of ‘Police Militarization’ Program
The Pentagon on Tuesday mounted a vigorous defense of the surplus military equipment transfer program that has drawn criticism following the police crackdown in Ferguson, Missouri.
The Defense Department’s chief spokesman, John Kirby, told reporters during a briefing that the 1033 program was not “some program run amok,” despite images of heavily armored officers in Ferguson that have fed concerns about the “militarization” of local law enforcement.
Congress created the program in 1990 to allow police departments to apply for free transfers of excess military equipment as local authorities sought to beef up security to combat drug gangs. Transfers have increased as the Pentagon wound down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Vocativ militarizes the neighborhood schools:
Back to School: Make Sure You Pack Your AR-15, Honey
- If Compton schools were hoping to dispel stereotypes about their area, allowing school police to pack assault weapons is not the way
School’s back in session next week, and the campus police in Compton are packing more heat than ever. That’s not a reference to the hot drought California has faced in 2014—we’re talking guns. Specifically: controversial AR-15 semi-automatic rifles, approved for use on school campuses to prevent future gun rampages.
“This is our objective—save lives, bottom line,” Compton Unified Police Chief William Wu told the city’s school board. The board has been told that select campus police officers will be allowed buy the rifles and keep them in their cars, in case of a mass shooting incident or terrorist attack.
On to the spooky front with Deutsche Welle:
Binney: ‘The NSA’s main motives: power and money’
- Whistleblower William Binney recently made headlines when he told the German parliament that the NSA, his former employer, had become “totalitarian.” DW spoke to him about NSA overrreach and the agency’s power.
DW: In your testimony, you described the NSA as “totalitarian,” and many commentators say that Germany’s Stasi history has made the country more sensitive to NSA revelations. But others have suggested this comparison is too easy. After all, the Stasi also targeted intellectuals and general writers opposed to the East German regime.
Binney: Sure, they haven’t gone that far yet, but they tried to shut down newspaper reporters like Jim Risen [who is fighting legal action by the Department of Justice to testify against an alleged source - the eds.]. Look at the NDAA Section 1021, that gave President Obama the ability to define someone as a terrorist threat and have the military incarcerate them indefinitely without due process. That’s the same as the special order 48 issued in 1933 by the Nazis, [the so-called Reichstag Fire Decree]. Read that – it says exactly the same thing.
These were totalitarian processes that were instituted. And it’s not just us – it’s happening around the world. Totalitarianism comes in the form first of knowledge of people and what they’re doing, and then it starts to transition into using that power against people. That’s what’s happening – in terms of newspaper reporters, in terms of crimes. That’s a direct violation of our constitution.
TechWeekEurope covers a digital Baedecker:
GCHQ Is Mapping Open TCP Ports Across Whole Countries
- The reconnaissance operation codenamed ‘Hacienda’ supplies the agency with some of the information needed to compromise systems
German journalists and academics have criticised Britain’s intelligence service GCHQ for scanning servers round the world, and maintaining a database of open ports which could be used in attacks.
British intelligence agency GCHQ has been cataloguing open TCP ports across entire countries as part of a secret programme codenamed ‘Hacienda’, reports German publication Heise Online.
The database resulting from the scans is used in other GCHQ surveillance projects and shared with the rest of the Five Eyes – the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – using the secure MAILORDER transport protocol.
An open port can enable the attackers to identify services that are running on a server with the view to compromise it. According to Heise, Hacienda targeted 32 countries since 2009, and has completely mapped ports of at least 27.
From Nextgox, and significant:
Exclusive: Nuke Regulator Hacked by Suspected Foreign Powers
Nuclear Regulatory Commission computers within the past three years were successfully hacked by foreigners twice and also by an unidentifiable individual, according to an internal investigation.
One incident involved emails sent to about 215 NRC employees in “a logon-credential harvesting attempt,” according to an inspector general report Nextgov obtained through an open-records request.
The phishing emails baited personnel by asking them to verify their user accounts by clicking a link and logging in. The link really took victims to “a cloud-based Google spreadsheet.”
From the Guardian, domestic espionage:
25 Turkish police officers arrested amid Erdogan wiretapping scandal
- Swoop in cities including Istanbul and Izmir during investigation linked to government corruption claims
Twenty-five police officers have been arrested by Turkish authorities in the latest nationwide swoop to detain suspects alleged to have illegally wiretapped key government figures, including the prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, reports said.
Police carried out raids in 12 cities, including Istanbul and Izmir, as part of an investigation into allegations of espionage and illegal wiretapping, the private Dog(an news agency reported.
The swoop on Tuesday was the third such roundup since July in a probe that has resulted in dozens of arrests and raised tensions as Erdog(an prepares for his inauguration as president on 28 August.
From intelNews, evoking suspicions of Mossad?:
‘Sensitive files’ stolen as Saudi motorcade is ambushed in Paris
A 12-vehicle entourage transporting a Saudi royal to a Paris airport was ambushed on Monday in cinematic fashion by heavily armed men, who stole a suitcase full of cash and diplomatic files described as “sensitive”.
French police are trying to determine whether the ambush, which occurred on Monday evening just north of downtown Paris, was aimed at the money or the documents, which French newspaper Le Parisien described as “sensitive”. According to French police, the Saudi motorcade was heading from the renowned Four Seasons George V hotel on the Champs Elysées to Le Bourget airport, 15 miles north of Paris, which handles private jets. But as the convoy drove through Porte de la Chapelle, two BMWs without license tags suddenly made their way to the top of the motorcade and forced it to stop.
Within seconds, eight heavily armed men brandishing handguns and AK-47s stormed out of the two cars and hijacked a Mercedes minivan that was part of the motorcade. Several of them boarded the vehicle and drove away, taking with them its three occupants, a driver, a bodyguard and another official. Later on, the three hostages were abandoned by the side of the road. The minivan, as well as one of the two BMWs used by the armed assailants, were later found burnt out in the village of Saint-Mesmes, northeast of the French capital. But the thieves took with them a suitcase containing €250,000 ($330,000) in cash, as well as what the French press said were “important diplomatic documents”.
Deutsche Welle covers spooky journalistic blowback:
BND head to discuss Spiegel report with top Turkey spy
The German and Turkish intelligence heads will meet to discuss reports that Berlin routinely spied on its NATO partner. On Monday, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry summoned the German ambassador in Ankara, Eberhard Pohl.
Turkey’s state-run news agency Anadolu reported that the chiefs of the two countries’ spy agencies had agreed to meet after Turkey’s Ahmet Davutoglu spoke by phone with Frank-Walter Steinmeier, his German counterpart, whose office confirmed that the two foreign ministers engaged in a “long talk.”
A spokeswoman for Germany’s foreign intelligence agency, the BND, would neither confirm nor deny the meeting to news agencies on Tuesday.
Turkish officials have demanded an explanation after news magazine Der Spiegel reported that Germany had repeatedly eavesdropped on officials from the country. Anakara called the spying “unacceptable.”
From MIT Technology Review, a red light alert:
Researchers Hack Into Michigan’s Traffic Lights
- Security flaws in a system of networked stoplights point to looming problems with an increasingly connected infrastructure.
With permission from a local road agency, researchers in Michigan hacked into nearly 100 wirelessly networked traffic lights, highlighting security issues that they say are likely to pervade networked traffic infrastructure around the country. More than 40 states currently use such systems to keep traffic flowing as efficiently as possible, helping to reduce emissions and delays.
The team, led by University of Michigan computer scientist J. Alex Halderman, found three major weaknesses in the traffic light system: unencrypted wireless connections, the use of default usernames and passwords that could be found online, and a debugging port that is easy to attack.
“The vulnerabilities we discover in the infrastructure are not a fault of any one device or design choice, but rather show a systemic lack of security consciousness,” the researchers report in a paper they’re presenting this week at a computer security conference. They did not disclose exactly where in Michigan they did the research.
Network World takes wing:
Senator questions airlines’ data privacy practices
A senior U.S. senator is asking airlines about their data privacy practices, saying he’s concerned about what information the companies are collecting and sharing with third parties.
Some consumer advocates have raised concerns that airline privacy policies “can contain substantial caveats and that it is difficult for consumers to learn what information airlines and others in the travel sector are collecting, keeping, and sharing about them,” Senator John “Jay” Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat, wrote in a letter to 10 U.S. airlines Monday.
The airlines receiving the letters included United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines. Airlines contacted about Rockefeller’s letter didn’t immediately respond to requests for comments.
From the Los Angeles Times, security for conspicuous consumers:
New Corvette will record every move a valet driver makes
- Attention valet drivers: Don’t get frisky with the 2015 Chevrolet Corvette — big brother is watching.
General Motors is offering next year’s model of the famous sport coupe with a data recorder that captures video, audio and driving data from the vehicle when switched into a special “Valet Mode.”
Valet Mode is displayed on the touchscreen panel of the 2015 Corvette. Data and video can be viewed instantly by the owner on the screen when the car is parked, or it can be downloaded to a computer. (GM / Associated Press)
The Vette’s owner can come back from dinner and check out if the valet was testing the sports car’s 3.8 second zero to 60 mph time. The car will have recorded data such as speed, engine RPM, which gears have been used and the highest level of g-force incurred on that joy ride to the parking garage.
EUobserver covers critique:
EU justice chief criticises Google on ‘right to be forgotten’
The EU’s justice commissioner has accused internet giant Google of leading a campaign to shoot down data protection reforms.
Speaking in Lyon, France on Monday (18 August), the commissioner, Martine Reicherts, said: “Google and other affected companies who complain loudly” about a recent EU court verdict on personal data are “detractors … attempting to throw a new spanner in the works”.
The Luxembourg-based EU court in May ruled that Google must remove links to any content that is “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant” or face a fine.
From Deutsche Welle, with a suggestion that they try American police departments:
Uncertain outlook for German arms industry
- German tanks, submarines and weapons are in high demand. They’re exported to Israel despite the war in Gaza, and Kurdish fighters would also welcome a shipment. Yet the defense industry is worried about its future.
When trade unions look to politicians for help, they’re generally hoping for backing in the fight against managers planning job cuts. But when workers’ representatives from the German arms industry met at the Ministry for Economic Affairs on Tuesday, it was for a very different cause.
In this case, it’s the minister of economic affairs himself, Sigmar Gabriel, who is putting their jobs at risk by approving fewer and fewer German arms shipments to worldwide customers. In a letter sent to Gabriel in July, the unionists said that the minister’s decisions were threatening the very existence of a number of corporations in the security and defense industry.
Ernst-August Kiel, an employee representative with ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, said after the meeting with Gabriel that they’d debated some “dicey deals,” involving thinner order books and fewer follow-up orders.
And from Sky News, semantics rebooting on the ground:
Exclusive: US Recruits Iraq Security ‘Advisers’
- The US Army looks to beef up its ‘Office of Security Assistance’, despite Barack Obama ruling out sending troops back to Iraq.
Barack Obama may have ruled out sending “boots on the ground” back to Iraq but in the face of a growing threat from the Islamic State (IS), the Pentagon appears to have hit upon a way to get them back in by the back door.
The US Army’s Contracting Command has issued a tender notice for companies capable of deploying security assistance mentors and advisers in Iraq.
These individuals would be required for a 12-month contract, potentially extendable to a total of 36 months.
After the jump, that latest from the Asian Games of Zones — including Indo-Pakistani tensions rising, Pakistani protests, an Aussie/Malaysian rift abated and terrorism foiled in Malaysia, a high-level Taiwanese security sacking, Chinese border and terror strategems, Japanese armaments move, Shinzo Abe’s militarism redux, Japanese Korean fears, semantic riffs, and a Nazi pasta invasion. . . Continue reading