Category Archives: Media

Chart of the day: Who’s reading your messages?


From Wikileaks, the relevant section of a CIA organizational chart organizational revealing the names of the agency departments with the power to hack into every aspect of your life should you come under their ever-watchful gaze:


Implants branch?

Sound the tinfoil hat alarm.

And just so you don’t get confused, here’s their official seal:

And the announcement. . .

Finally, from the announcement Wikileaks made today about their latest remarkable haul of top secret documents:

Today, Tuesday 7 March 2017, WikiLeaks begins its new series of leaks on the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. Code-named “Vault 7″ by WikiLeaks, it is the largest ever publication of confidential documents on the agency.

The first full part of the series, “Year Zero”, comprises 8,761 documents and files from an isolated, high-security network situated inside the CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence in Langley, Virgina. It follows an introductory disclosure last month of CIA targeting French political parties and candidates in the lead up to the 2012 presidential election.

Recently, the CIA lost control of the majority of its hacking arsenal including malware, viruses, trojans, weaponized “zero day” exploits, malware remote control systems and associated documentation. This extraordinary collection, which amounts to more than several hundred million lines of code, gives its possessor the entire hacking capacity of the CIA. The archive appears to have been circulated among former U.S. government hackers and contractors in an unauthorized manner, one of whom has provided WikiLeaks with portions of the archive.

“Year Zero” introduces the scope and direction of the CIA’s global covert hacking program, its malware arsenal and dozens of “zero day” weaponized exploits against a wide range of U.S. and European company products, include Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows and even Samsung TVs, which are turned into covert microphones.

Since 2001 the CIA has gained political and budgetary preeminence over the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA). The CIA found itself building not just its now infamous drone fleet, but a very different type of covert, globe-spanning force — its own substantial fleet of hackers. The agency’s hacking division freed it from having to disclose its often controversial operations to the NSA (its primary bureaucratic rival) in order to draw on the NSA’s hacking capacities.

By the end of 2016, the CIA’s hacking division, which formally falls under the agency’s Center for Cyber Intelligence (CCI), had over 5000 registered users and had produced more than a thousand hacking systems, trojans, viruses, and other “weaponized” malware. Such is the scale of the CIA’s undertaking that by 2016, its hackers had utilized more code than that used to run Facebook. The CIA had created, in effect, its “own NSA” with even less accountability and without publicly answering the question as to whether such a massive budgetary spend on duplicating the capacities of a rival agency could be justified.

In a statement to WikiLeaks the source details policy questions that they say urgently need to be debated in public, including whether the CIA’s hacking capabilities exceed its mandated powers and the problem of public oversight of the agency. The source wishes to initiate a public debate about the security, creation, use, proliferation and democratic control of cyberweapons.

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Headline of the day: Hashtag #Alt-Infotaintment


From the Guardian:

Google accused of spreading fake news

Featured snippets in search function repeatedly shares false information, which can result in Google Home speakers reading out conspiracy theories as fact

Obama wiretapped me: Trump goes full Breitbart


First, the tweetstorm:

blog-trumpet

And the story, first from the New York Times:

Speculation online quickly turned to the possibility that Mr. Trump had been reading an article on the Breitbart News site or listening to the conservative radio host Mark Levin; both have embraced the theory in recent days.

The Breitbart article, published on Friday, alleged a series of “known steps taken by President Barack Obama’s administration in its last months to undermine Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and, later, his new administration.”

It has been widely reported that there is a federal investigation, which began during the 2016 presidential campaign, into links between Trump associates and the Russians.

The New York Times reported in January that among the associates whose links to Russia are being scrutinized are Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s onetime campaign chairman; Carter Page, a businessman and foreign policy adviser to the campaign; and Roger Stone, a longtime Republican operative who has said he was in touch with WikiLeaks before it released a trove of Democratic National Committee emails last summer.

Mr. Trump appeared on Saturday to suggest that warrants had been issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, alleging that Mr. Obama’s administration had once been “turned down by court” in its supposed efforts to listen in on conversations by Mr. Trump and his associates.

The origins: Breitbart and wingnut radio

Yep, they’re even better than Fox News!

From the Guardian:

Trump’s tweets follow claims made by the conservative radio host Mark Levin on his Thursday night show about the alleged steps taken by the Obama administration to undermine the Republican candidate’s campaign to win the White House.

The presenter called the effort a “silent coup” by the Obama administration and called for a congressional investigation into the issue. That contrasts with demands from across the US political spectrum to examine Russian interference in the presidential election.

Levin’s comments were followed up by Breitbart News, the “alt-right” website formerly run by Steve Bannon, who ran the Trump campaign and is now the president’s chief strategist.

The article stated: “The Obama administration sought, and eventually obtained, authorisation to eavesdrop on the Trump campaign; continued monitoring the Trump team even when no evidence of wrongdoing was found; then relaxed the NSA [National Security Agency] rules to allow evidence to be shared widely within the government, virtually ensuring that the information, including the conversations of private citizens, would be leaked to the media.”

The Breitbart report references recent claims that the FBI asked the foreign intelligence surveillance court for a warrant last year to monitor members of the Trump team suspected of being in contact with Russian officials. The request for the warrant was initially rejected before being granted in October, the reports have said.

So let’s get this straight. . .

The FBI tried to get wiretaps on TeamTrump™ last year. Then when they failed in the normal federal court system, they headed to the one court that rolls over more than 99.97 percent of the time.

That the FISC granted the request was, then, hardly a surprise.

But what is noteworthy is that you only go to the FISC for a warrant in case of espionage and other national security matters.

We wonder on what grounds the regular court denied the requests. In normal criminal cases of the cases that require the FBI’s participation, wiretap subpoenas allow recordings of conversations between specific individuals named in an FBI agent’s sworn affidavit accompanying the wiretap request.

We’ve never covered the FISC, but in other jurisdictions, state and federal, documentation of wiretaps becomes public once the wiretap authorization ends.

But because the application was moved to the FISC, a whole different set of rules apply. Because the court deals in state secrets and the court itself is closed to public access, almost all of what happens there stays classified.

Trump may be correct in asserting his campaign offices were wiretapped, but unless he was named in the affidavit, any conversations he had would not have been monitored or recorded. If he was named, then an FBI agent was willing to go on record stating that the Bureau suspected him of involvement in criminal behavior.

We await further developments with interest.

Trump goes full Nixon, wages war on leaks


Folks — like esnl — who remember Richard Nixon’s interrupted presidency remember well that Tricky Dick was brought down leaks.

Or, rather, his thin-skinned, paranoid response to news slipping out the White House.

To stop the leaks, he and his henchmen created a special squad, including ex-CIA operatives and a former FBI agent and prosecutor, to stop the leaks.

Humorously, someone dubbed them the Plumbers Squad, and the name stuck. They wiretapped reporters and their suspected sources, including Nixon’s own National Security Advisor, then made the fatal mistake of busting into the Democratic Party headquarters in the Watergate complex, where they were caught and subsequently tried and convicted, the first of many jail sentences that would reach all the way to top, sparing on Nixon himself, who was parted by the successor he appointed.

We can’t help but wonder if the current occupant of the White House isn’t headed down the same road, because he’s exhibiting an even more overt case of hostility toward the Fourth Estate.

Reuters summarizes recent developments:

President Donald Trump’s Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin used his first senior staff meeting last month to tell his new aides he would not tolerate leaks to the news media, sources familiar with the matter said.

Current and former officials said that in a departure from past practice, access to a classified computer system at the White House has been tightened by political appointees to prevent professional staffers from seeing memos being prepared for the new president.

And at the Department of Homeland Security, some officials told Reuters they fear a witch hunt is under way for the leaker of a draft intelligence report which found little evidence that citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries covered by Trump’s now-suspended travel ban pose a threat to the United States.

Washington career civil servants say the clampdown appears designed to try to limit the flow of information inside and outside government and deter officials from talking to the media about topics that could result in negative stories.

We see trouble ahead, and not just for the press.

Quote of the day: Because I say so. . .


An exercise in tweetering self-justification  from El Jefe:

blog-tweets

Chart of the day: Republicans’ repression urges


The results of a new survey offer of the authoritarian streak in Republican politics, with a near-majority calling from suppression of criticism of their elected corporate shills and nearly a third refusing to support another constitutional right, non-violent protest:

blog-poll

Headline of the day: Trump’s Jonesing for chaos


From Der Spiegel, Germany’s leading news magazine, the headline over a profile of an American phenomenon:

Meet Donald Trump’s Propagandist

Right-wing radio host Alex Jones is America’s top conspiracy theorist. He has millions of listeners, but his most powerful one happens to be the president of the United States. DER SPIEGEL takes you inside his media empire in Austin.

If you haven’t heard of Alex Jones, you’ve been living a sheltered life.

He’s called a conspiracy theorist, a term that casts sincere conspiracy theorists in a bleak light. The world is full of conspiracies. Here in the U.S., we celebrate the fruits of one every Fourth of July.

But what Alex Jones believes in are crazy conspiracies.

As when he claims the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting wasn’t really the murder of 20 students, sic teachers and staff by a mentally ill man who shot his mother before heading for school, where he saved the last bullet for himself.

As the New York Daily News reported during the presidential campaign, when questioned about his theory, Jones doubled down:

Jones. . .reaffirmed his debunked conspiracy theories that Sandy Hook Elementary “was closed years before” the shooting; that CNN anchor Anderson Cooper reported on the shooting “using a green screen” and that “weird videos” revealed that grieving parents were in fact actors.

Here’s Jones at his best, in a bizarre anti-Hillary rant during the campaign, aired life on his online show, which is also carried by more than 80 radio stations in the U.S.:


A look at his audience

Alexa reports that Jones’s website is currently averaging about 8.7 unique visitors a month, though numbers were much higher as the presidential campaign ramped up, as shown in this Alexa graphic charting the rise of the website compared to other websites:

blog-alex-jones

A look at Quantcast’s analysis shows that his audience is heavily weighted toward older white males, especially those earning over $150,000 a year.

But what’s most interesting is the nature of his audience, specifically those with the strongest affinity for Jone’s screaming sense of menace.

They are solders and cops. . .folks trained in the art of shooting to kill:

blog-alex-jones-audience

A German reporter takes stock

And now for a look at how Jones appeared to the Der Spiegel reporter:

Alex Jones, 43, is the biggest conspiracy theorist in the United States. In the past, Jones had been labeled as a loony, marginal figure. But now, as he says, he is in regular contact with the president and feeds him his ideas. “Trump and I have talked several times since the election – about freedom and our common goal to destroy our enemies.”

The times have changed in America. Since November, loony, marginal figures have shifted closer to the mainstream, and in the days of alternative facts people with a bizarre worldview suddenly become influential media figures. There is no one this applies to more than Jones.

Jones offered Donald Trump his determined support during the election campaign — and now the president of the United States is his most powerful fan, giving him a direct line to the White House. “Your reputation is amazing,” Trump raved when he was a guest on Jones’ show during the campaign. “What you’re doing is epic. It’s George Washington level,” Jones said, returning the compliment.

It was already cause for dismay at the time that Trump was aligning himself with Alex Jones, a man who has said a lot of crazy things throughout his life. For example, he believes the government possesses weather weapons it can use to create artificial tornadoes. He’s convinced gay marriage is a conspiracy by a global secret society “to encourage the breakdown of the family” and “to get rid of God.”

We’ll leave you with this from the New York Daily News:

Trump told Jones he “won’t let him down” when he appeared on his show via Skype at the end of last year.