Cyber Tyrants Playbook: NSA and GCHQ

This is incredibly documented. It is also incredibly long. It behooves all of us to be cognizant of the “intelligence” communities actions. Please be aware that these are your tax dollars at work. Busy disrupting, defaming and destroying people’s lives and credibility if they step outside of the ideological box desired.

On more than one occasion I have seen discussion forums taken down by trolls. Some of them may have been victims to the playbook set forth in the article below. Some of them may have been taken down by the propensity of people sitting in the security of their own home being vicious, nasty and vulgar safely ensconced in their online anonymity.

Personally, I view the internet as the equivalent of the information Colt 45. The ability to research and access information at rapid rates and to disseminate that information to whomever bothers to read it is the best tool for freedom and creativity that human has ever known. Of course you have to vet your sources and check on veracity. Rumors and falsehoods abound, but so does truth…if you care to find it. Also, I’ve known for more than a decade that government trolls the internet seeking whom they may devour. The fact that it is clearly and definitely documented by this Snowden release is just a bonus. It simply elevates the knowledge level, and lets people know what the governments are using legitimate and illegitimate taxation to achieve.

I notice that the two major entities in information and public perception control are not mentioned in the release. Look up Tavistock and the Aspen Institute. Doubtless, many are involved (in Aspen particularly) that have no idea of the group’s origins and reason for existence.

Due to the large amount of slides in this, I only included a few. Please do visit the site linked in the article title below…Read some comments, too!
How Covert Agents Infiltrate the Internet to Manipulate, Deceive, and Destroy Reputations
By Glenn Greenwald Feb 2014, 6:25 PM EDT 1,156


A page from a GCHQ top secret document prepared by its secretive JTRIG unit
One of the many pressing stories that remains to be told from the Snowden archive is how western intelligence agencies are attempting to manipulate and control online discourse with extreme tactics of deception and reputation-destruction. It’s time to tell a chunk of that story, complete with the relevant documents.

Over the last several weeks, I worked with NBC News to publish a series of articles about “dirty trick” tactics used by GCHQ’s previously secret unit, JTRIG (Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group). These were based on four classified GCHQ documents presented to the NSA and the other three partners in the English-speaking “Five Eyes” alliance. Today, we at the Intercept are publishing another new JTRIG document, in full, entitled “The Art of Deception: Training for Online Covert Operations.”

By publishing these stories one by one, our NBC reporting highlighted some of the key, discrete revelations: the monitoring of YouTube and Blogger, the targeting of Anonymous with the very same DDoS attacks they accuse “hacktivists” of using, the use of “honey traps” (luring people into compromising situations using sex) and destructive viruses. But, here, I want to focus and elaborate on the overarching point revealed by all of these documents: namely, that these agencies are attempting to control, infiltrate, manipulate, and warp online discourse, and in doing so, are compromising the integrity of the internet itself.

Among the core self-identified purposes of JTRIG are two tactics: (1) to inject all sorts of false material onto the internet in order to destroy the reputation of its targets; and (2) to use social sciences and other techniques to manipulate online discourse and activism to generate outcomes it considers desirable. To see how extremist these programs are, just consider the tactics they boast of using to achieve those ends: “false flag operations” (posting material to the internet and falsely attributing it to someone else), fake victim blog posts (pretending to be a victim of the individual whose reputation they want to destroy), and posting “negative information” on various forums. Here is one illustrative list of tactics from the latest GCHQ document we’re publishing today:

 

Other tactics aimed at individuals are listed here, under the revealing title “discredit a target”:

 

Then there are the tactics used to destroy companies the agency targets:

 

GCHQ describes the purpose of JTRIG in starkly clear terms: “using online techniques to make something happen in the real or cyber world,” including “information ops (influence or disruption).”

 

Critically, the “targets” for this deceit and reputation-destruction extend far beyond the customary roster of normal spycraft: hostile nations and their leaders, military agencies, and intelligence services. In fact, the discussion of many of these techniques occurs in the context of using them in lieu of “traditional law enforcement” against people suspected (but not charged or convicted) of ordinary crimes or, more broadly still, “hacktivism”, meaning those who use online protest activity for political ends.

The title page of one of these documents reflects the agency’s own awareness that it is “pushing the boundaries” by using “cyber offensive” techniques against people who have nothing to do with terrorism or national security threats, and indeed, centrally involves law enforcement agents who investigate ordinary crimes:

No matter your views on Anonymous, “hacktivists” or garden-variety criminals, it is not difficult to see how dangerous it is to have secret government agencies being able to target any individuals they want – who have never been charged with, let alone convicted of, any crimes – with these sorts of online, deception-based tactics of reputation destruction and disruption. There is a strong argument to make, as Jay Leiderman demonstrated in the Guardian in the context of the Paypal 14 hacktivist persecution, that the “denial of service” tactics used by hacktivists result in (at most) trivial damage (far less than the cyber-warfare tactics favored by the US and UK) and are far more akin to the type of political protest protected by the First Amendment.

The broader point is that, far beyond hacktivists, these surveillance agencies have vested themselves with the power to deliberately ruin people’s reputations and disrupt their online political activity even though they’ve been charged with no crimes, and even though their actions have no conceivable connection to terrorism or even national security threats. As Anonymous expert Gabriella Coleman of McGill University told me, “targeting Anonymous and hacktivists amounts to targeting citizens for expressing their political beliefs, resulting in the stifling of legitimate dissent.” Pointing to this study she published, Professor Coleman vehemently contested the assertion that “there is anything terrorist/violent in their actions.”

Government plans to monitor and influence internet communications, and covertly infiltrate online communities in order to sow dissension and disseminate false information, have long been the source of speculation. Harvard Law Professor Cass Sunstein, a close Obama adviser and the White House’s former head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, wrote a controversial paper in 2008 proposing that the US government employ teams of covert agents and pseudo-”independent” advocates to “cognitively infiltrate” online groups and websites, as well as other activist groups.

Sunstein also proposed sending covert agents into “chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space groups” which spread what he views as false and damaging “conspiracy theories” about the government. Ironically, the very same Sunstein was recently named by Obama to serve as a member of the NSA review panel created by the White House, one that – while disputing key NSA claims – proceeded to propose many cosmetic reforms to the agency’s powers (most of which were ignored by the President who appointed them).

But these GCHQ documents are the first to prove that a major western government is using some of the most controversial techniques to disseminate deception online and harm the reputations of targets. Under the tactics they use, the state is deliberately spreading lies on the internet about whichever individuals it targets, including the use of what GCHQ itself calls “false flag operations” and emails to people’s families and friends. Who would possibly trust a government to exercise these powers at all, let alone do so in secret, with virtually no oversight, and outside of any cognizable legal framework?

Then there is the use of psychology and other social sciences to not only understand, but shape and control, how online activism and discourse unfolds. Today’s newly published document touts the work of GCHQ’s “Human Science Operations Cell,” devoted to “online human intelligence” and “strategic influence and disruption”:

 

 

Under the title “Online Covert Action”, the document details a variety of means to engage in “influence and info ops” as well as “disruption and computer net attack,” while dissecting how human beings can be manipulated using “leaders,” “trust,” “obedience” and “compliance”:

 

 

 

 
The documents lay out theories of how humans interact with one another, particularly online, and then attempt to identify ways to influence the outcomes – or “game” it:

 

 
We submitted numerous questions to GCHQ, including: (1) Does GCHQ in fact engage in “false flag operations” where material is posted to the Internet and falsely attributed to someone else?; (2) Does GCHQ engage in efforts to influence or manipulate political discourse online?; and (3) Does GCHQ’s mandate include targeting common criminals (such as boiler room operators), or only foreign threats?

As usual, they ignored those questions and opted instead to send their vague and nonresponsive boilerplate: “It is a longstanding policy that we do not comment on intelligence matters. Furthermore, all of GCHQ’s work is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework which ensures that our activities are authorised, necessary and proportionate, and that there is rigorous oversight, including from the Secretary of State, the Interception and Intelligence Services Commissioners and the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee. All our operational processes rigorously support this position.”

These agencies’ refusal to “comment on intelligence matters” – meaning: talk at all about anything and everything they do – is precisely why whistleblowing is so urgent, the journalism that supports it so clearly in the public interest, and the increasingly unhinged attacks by these agencies so easy to understand. Claims that government agencies are infiltrating online communities and engaging in “false flag operations” to discredit targets are often dismissed as conspiracy theories, but these documents leave no doubt they are doing precisely that.

Whatever else is true, no government should be able to engage in these tactics: what justification is there for having government agencies target people – who have been charged with no crime – for reputation-destruction, infiltrate online political communities, and develop techniques for manipulating online discourse? But to allow those actions with no public knowledge or accountability is particularly unjustifiable.

Documents referenced in this article:

The Art of Deception: Training for a New Generation of Online Covert Operations

Obama Administration: “Heads I win, tails you lose”

Headquarters of the National Security Agency

The Department of Justice regards American citizens as “nothing more than rabble,” charges the attorney who won a legal challenge to the National Security Agency’s spy-on-Americans program called PRISM.

The DOJ moved Wednesday to block the plaintiffs in the case brought by attorney Larry Klayman, founder of FreedomWatch, against the NSA’s telephone call-tracking program.

In its motion filed with U.S. District Judge Richard Leon, who earlier issued an injunction against the spy program and called it “Orwellian,” the government is asking that the judge halt any further proceedings while an appeals court examines the ruling that said the government was violating the Constitution.

Klayman said the move wasn’t exactly a surprise in light of the government’s spying on Americans and its reluctance to provide information about the programs.

“This is a further attempt to keep information about the biggest violation of the Constitution in American history from the American people. It’s an outrage,” he said.

He said the Obama administration has the perspective of “heads I win, tails you lose,” and its attitude is: “We control all the information and the American people be damned. They don’t have rights.”

Klayman said he already had requested a status conference on the case, asking the court how to proceed with discovery in preparation for trial.

The government move reveals its true attitude, he said.

“It’s important for the American people to see how the government treats them and views them. We’re nothing more than rabble,” he said.

Politico reported on the government’s motion, which argued: “Further litigation of plaintiffs’ challenges to the conduct of these programs could well risk or require disclosure of highly sensitive information about the intelligence sources and methods involved – information that the government determined was not appropriate for declassification when it publicly disclosed certain facts about these programs.”

The information actually was disclosed when former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked details of the program.

The DOJ argued that if the litigation proceeds, “it will ultimately become necessary to conclusively determine, as a factual matter, whether plaintiffs have established their standing to challenge NSA’s alleged interception of the content of their communications, and collection of metadata about those communications.”

“Further litigation of this issue could risk or require disclosure of classified national security information, such as whether plaintiffs were the targets of or subject to NSA intelligence-gathering activities, confirmation or denial of the identities of the telecommunications service providers from which NSA has obtained information about individuals’ communications, and other classified information.”

But that’s exactly the point of his lawsuits, Klayman says: to find out the details of the programs and whether the government, in its alleged pursuit of information about terror activities, has been violating the constitutional assurances of Americans’ privacy.

The government is alarmed at that aim.

“Plaintiffs have indicated in their pleadings (and during argument on their motions for preliminary injunctions) that they intend to pursue discovery to obtain ‘full disclosure and a complete accounting’ of what the government defendants (and other defendants in these cases ‘have done [or been] allowed to do’ in connection with the challenged NSA intelligence programs; ‘identification of any and all ‘targets’ subject to defendants’ surveillance’ and production of ‘all other relevant reports, risk assessments, memoranda, and other documents,’” the government said.

But the Obama administration said it had to keep all that information secret or risk “exceptionally grave damage to national security.”

DOJ lawyers said they would oppose allowing Klayman or anyone else “access to classified information.”

The DOJ is asking Leon to halt proceeding while there are appeals of his ruling that the government likely is violating Fourth Amendment.

The government apparently doesn’t want to release any information, even if that’s the case.

“Even if the mere collection of information about plaintiffs’ communications constitutes a Fourth Amendment search … conclusively resolving the reasonableness of that search ultimately could risk or require disclosure of exceptionally sensitive and classified intelligence information regarding the nature and scope of the international terrorist threat to the United States, and the role that the NSA’s intelligence-gathering activities have played in meeting that threat,” government attorneys warn.

Josh Gerstein at Politico noted: “Klayman’s past litigation has been known for being as impactful and sometimes more impactful in the discovery phase, where lawyers demand documents and conduct depositions, as in its ultimate outcome. So, the government’s desire to head that process off for now, and perhaps entirely, is understandable.”

WND reported just days ago that several states are working on plans to resist the NSA operations, strategizing on ways to make the information unusable even if the NSA collects it.

According to the Tenth Amendment Center, lawmakers in Missouri are proposing to amend their state constitution. Their plan would add “and electronic communications and data” to the provision that provides privacy and security for residents.

If changed by voters, it would read: “That the people shall be secure in their persons, papers, homes [and], effects, and electronic communications and data, from unreasonable searches and seizures; and no warrant to search any place, or seize any person or thing, or access electronic data or communication, shall issue without describing the place to be searched, or the person or thing to be seized, or the data or communication to be accessed, as nearly as may be; nor without probable cause, supported by written oath or affirmation.”

The Joint Resolution, pending before the state Senate, proposes allowing Missouri voters to decide next November whether or not to amend their constitution.

According to the Tenth Amendment Center, federal judges and lawyers may squabble over the constitutionality of the NSA data-gathering, but lawmakers could make it impossible for any information obtained to be used in those states.

In Kansas, Rep. Brett Hildabrand, R-Shawnee, prefiled a bill that would “ban all state agencies and local governments in the state from possessing data ‘held by a third-party in a system of record’ and would prohibit any such information from being ‘subject to discovery, subpoena or other means of legal compulsion for its release to any person or entity or be admissible in evidence in any judicial or administrative proceeding.’”

The access the data, under the bill, government would be required to obtain “express informed consent” or a warrant.

In Kansas, it’s called the Fourth Amendment Protection Act.

“I want to make sure that electronic privacy in Kansas is protected in the same way that physical letters in the mail are protected from random government searches,” Hildabrand told the center. “Each day, we hear a new revelation about how the NSA is violating our personal privacy. My bill will ensure the state of Kansas doesn’t utilize this illegally obtained data.”
Read more at http://mobile.wnd.com/2014/01/obama-moves-to-block-nsa-slayers-lawsuit/#Ru2FgeMfYVWafTbI.99

Judge Rules NSA Surveillance Unconstitutional….Ya think?

This is positive. I like it quite a bit. However, I am now so skeptical that I think they’ll find a way to overturn this ruling. Guess I’ve been around long enough to truly wear the badge of cynic. LOL!

Anyway, it is good news, and I really like to share positive things whenever I have the chance.

Judge: NSA phone program likely unconstitutional

The NSA headquarters are pictured. | AP Photo

The ruling is the first significant legal setback for the NSA’s surveillance program. | AP Photo

By JOSH GERSTEIN | 12/16/13 1:36 PM EST Updated: 12/16/13 7:44 PM EST

A federal judge ruled Monday that the National Security Agency program which collects information on nearly all telephone calls made to, from or within the United States is likely unconstitutional.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon found that the program appears to violate the Fourth Amendment ban on unreasonable searches and seizures. He also said the Justice Department had failed to demonstrate that collecting the information had helped to head off terrorist attacks

Acting on a lawsuit brought by conservative legal activist Larry Klayman, Leon issued a preliminary injunction barring the NSA from collecting so-called metadata pertaining to the Verizon accounts of Klayman and one of his clients. However, the judge stayed the order to allow for an appeal.

“I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’ than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying it and analyzing it without judicial approval,” wrote Leon, an appointee of President George W. Bush.

The preliminary injunction Leon granted Monday does not require him to make a definitive ruling on the constitutional questions in the case, but does take account of which side he believes is more likely to prevail.

Leon’s 68-page opinion is the first significant legal setback for the NSA’s surveillance program since it was disclosed in June in news stories based on leaks from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. For seven years, the metadata program has been approved repeatedly by numerous judges on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and found constitutional by at least one judge sitting in a criminal case.

(WATCH: Boehner says Edward Snowden is a ‘traitor’)

The Justice Department persuaded those courts that the collection of information on the time and length of calls, as well as the numbers called, did not amount to a search under the Fourth Amendment because that information is routinely available to telephone companies for billing purposes and is shared with those firms voluntarily.

Government lawyers and the judges who found the NSA program legal pointed to a 1979 Supreme Court ruling, Smith v. Maryland, which found no search warrant was needed by police to install a device which recorded the numbers dialed on a particular phone line.

But Leon said the three-decade-old precedent was not applicable to a program like the NSA’s because of its sophistication and because telephone use has become far more intense in recent years.

“The ubiquity of phones has dramatically altered the quantity of information that is now available and, more importantly, what that information can tell the Government about people’s lives,” the judge wrote. “I cannot possibly navigate these uncharted Fourth Amendment waters using as my North Star a case that predates the rise of cell phones.”

The judge went on to conclude that the searches involved in the NSA metadata program were likely not permissible under the Fourth Amendment in part because there was little evidence the program has actually prevented terrorism.

“I have significant doubts about the efficacy of the metadata collection program as a means of conducting time-sensitive investigations in cases involving imminent threats of terrorism,” Leon wrote. “The government does not cite a single instance in which analysis of the NSA’s bulk metadata collection actually stopped an imminent attack, or otherwise aided the Government in achieving any objective that was time-sensitive in nature.”

Edward Snowden himself praised the decision.“I acted on my belief that the NSA’s mass surveillance programs would not withstand a constitutional challenge, and that the American public deserved a chance to see these issues determined by open courts. Today, a secret program authorized by a secret court was, when exposed to the light of day, found to violate Americans’ rights. It is the first of many.”

The judge’s ruling was issued just before White House press secretary Jay Carney took the podium for the daily press briefing. Carney said he was unaware of the decision and he referred inquiries to the Justice Department.

“We are reviewing the court’s decision,” DOJ spokesman Andrew Ames said.

Similar lawsuits challenging the program are pending in at least three other federal courts around the country. In addition, criminal defendants are beginning to challenge the program after the Justice Department disclosed it had played a role in investigating their cases.

Critics of the NSA program leapt on Leon’s decision as evidence that the legal foundation of the surveillance effort is deeply flawed.

“The ruling underscores what I have argued for years: The bulk collection of Americans’ phone records conflicts with Americans’ privacy rights under the U.S. Constitution and has failed to make us safer,” Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) said in a statement urging passage of legislation ending the so-called bulk collection program. “We can protect our national security without trampling our constitutional liberties,” he added.

At a hearing last month, Leon said he knew that his decision would be far from the last word on the issue, which is almost certain to wind up at the Supreme Court.

However, he added some flair to his opinion Monday, referring at one point to the Beatles and at another to Federalist Papers author James Madison, who later became president.

“Surely, such a program infringes on ‘that degree of privacy’ that the Founders enshrined in the Fourth Amendment. Indeed, I have little doubt that the author of our Constitution, James Madison, who cautioned us to beware ‘the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power’ would be aghast,” the judge wrote.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/12/national-security-agency-phones-judge-101203.html#ixzz2ngs4geDM

They See You When You’re Sleeping…

Amidst all of the issues of violating the Fourth Amendment, as well as just common sense, Yahoo and Facebook are now defending their actions by….(surprise!)…blaming it on the government.

Not that it really matters if the NSA gets permission to do anything, they do it anyway. Very simply, we have no reasonable expectation of privacy. The fact that our thoughts and our opinions are our OWN property that we can share, or not, is now apparently irrelevant.

Not that it will really matter, but I am considering a national drive to have 5000 people delete their facebook accounts on September 17th, Constitution Day. Would that make a blip?

Yahoo CEO Mayer: we faced jail if we revealed NSA surveillance secrets

Here’s an article on Yahoo and Facebook execs:

Marissa Mayer

Yahoo chief Marissa Mayer: ‘Releasing classified information is treason and you are incarcerated’, she told the TechCrunch disrupt conference. Photograph: Reuters

Marissa Mayer, the CEO of Yahoo, and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook struck back on Wednesday at critics who have charged tech companies with doing too little to fight off NSA surveillance. Mayer said executives faced jail if they revealed government secrets.

Yahoo and Facebook, along with other tech firms, are pushing for the right to be allowed to publish the number of requests they receive from the spy agency. Companies are forbidden by law to disclose how much data they provide.

During an interview at the Techcrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco, Mayer was asked why tech companies had not simply decided to tell the public more about what the US surveillance industry was up to. “Releasing classified information is treason and you are incarcerated,” she said.

Mayer said she was “proud to be part of an organisation that from the beginning, in 2007, has been sceptical of – and has been scrutinizing – those requests [from the NSA].”

Yahoo has previously unsuccessfully sued the foreign intelligence surveillance (Fisa) court, which provides the legal framework for NSA surveillance. In 2007 it asked to be allowed to publish details of requests it receives from the spy agency. “When you lose and you don’t comply, it’s treason,” said Mayer. “We think it make more sense to work within the system,” she said.

Zuckerberg said the government had done a “bad job” of balancing people’s privacy and its duty to protect. “Frankly I think the government blew it,” he said.

He said after the news broke in the Guardian and the Washington Post about Prism, the government surveillance programme that targets major internet companies: “The government response was, ‘Oh don’t worry we are not spying on any Americans.’ Oh wonderful that’s really helpful to companies that are trying to serve people around the world and that’s really going to inspire confidence in American internet companies.”

“I thought that was really bad,” he said. Zuckerberg said Facebook and others were pushing successfully for more transparency. “We are not at the end of this. I wish that the government would be more proactive about communicating. We are not psyched that we had to sue in order to get this and we take it very seriously,” he said.

On Monday, executives from Yahoo, Facebook, Google and other tech leaders met the president’s group on intelligence and communications, tasked with reviewing the US’s intelligence and communications technologies in the wake of the NSA revelations.

The meeting came as Yahoo and Facebook filed suits once more to force the Fisa court to allow them to disclose more information.

In its motion, Yahoo said: “Yahoo has been unable to engage fully in the debate about whether the government has properly used its powers, because the government has placed a prior restraint on Yahoo’s speech.”

It went on: “Yahoo’s inability to respond to news reports has harmed its reputation and has undermined its business not only in the United States but worldwide. Yahoo cannot respond to such reports with mere generalities,” the company said.

Microsoft and Google also filed their latest legal briefs on Monday to force the Fisa court to disclose more information.

In a blogpost, Google said it was asking for permission to publish “detailed statistics about the types (if any) of national security requests” it receives under Fisa.
“Given the important public policy issues at stake, we have also asked the court to hold its hearing in open rather than behind closed doors. It’s time for more transparency,” said Google.