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Thread: Intelligence post-Snowden: a debate

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    Default Intelligence post-Snowden: a debate

    Moderator's Note

    After a year of Snowden inspired revelations (or a calculated info operation) it is time to merge related threads into this one and re-name it. It was We are all honorary Muslims now" with PRISM? and now becomes 'Intelligence post-Snowden: a debate' (ends).


    I dont know if Snowden got his own thread yet, but my first thoughts were:
    In a way this whole scandal is good news. A bugging operation that was supposedly paying this genius 200000 dollars a year does not speak well of the brilliance of our digital overlords… it hints that the whole thing is more a money-making scam for contractors than a terrible danger to humanity (i have no doubt that the people training him included bloodthirsty idiots, but look where that got them). Meanwhile the great hero of democracy, freedom and V for Vendetta escaped, of all places, to the People’s Republic of China (special administrative region Hong Kong); doesnt speak well of our heroic digital rebels either. Its all good in the proverbial long run. Satyameva Jayate as our Hindu brothers would say…Panopticon is coming, but as a Muslim who has fully expected everything i say or do on the internet to be “known” to the NSA since 2001, I think 12 years is long enough to determine that its not the end of the world…

    “We are all honorary Muslims now”. And it ain't necessarily fatal.
    Link:http://www.brownpundits.com/2013/06/...#comment-67610
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 11-02-2014 at 08:12 PM. Reason: Edited slightly, moved to create new thread & PM to author.

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default "We are all honorary Muslims now" with PRISM?

    Created as a new thread, after Omar posted the first post elsewhere. The title is adapted from his post.

    Needless to say SWJ Blog Daily Update has several links to articles:http://smallwarsjournal.com/node/14161
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 06-10-2013 at 04:46 PM.
    davidbfpo

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    a follow up comment to a friend who wondered "....ain't necessarily fatal"? They do bump off people. All it would take is for some faceless official(s) to decide that you are a threat to national security, and Bob's your uncle!"

    Relax, no faceless official is about to off you or me or even Glenn Greenwald. The people they off on sometimes dubious evidence are in the war zones. All fantasies about heroically fighting the man from my apartment in New York notwithstanding, no liberal has been offed yet.
    I am aware that some poor Arab from Canada got badly tortured by mistake (and other cases like that) but better NSA information would probably have helped that poor guy.
    I dont want to make light of violations of civil rights that actually cause pain and suffering. But this scandal seems more about contractors and smart crooks taking advantage of 9-11 panic to rake in billions. That doesnt mean its legal or good or desirable. But I see no need to personally go ballistic over it either.
    At the same time, the fuss is probably desirable too. Maybe it will help bring some of the bull#### under control. Maybe it wont. But somehow, i dont see it as hyperventilation time FOR MYSELF (and advise friends and family to relax as well), but I also dont want to stop anyone if they feel they should make a huge fuss. By all means, go for it. In some small way, you may be helping humanity too.
    I never expect everyone in the world to have EXACTLY my priorities. Let a hundred flowers bloom, as the great helmsman would say.

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    Continuing the theme, another response to a friend:

    I did not say that we should do nothing about it. Just that I am not breaking out the "1984 is here and we are all going to end up in some Gulag" meme.
    I agree with prasad's fear (he feared NSA staffers stealing identities, doing bad stuff to individuals), but that hardly seems like an unstoppable threat. These exposures and public pressure may help to reverse this trend. Even if they dont, the disasters to follow will mostly consist of:
    1. Waste of taxpayer money on Booz-Allen type bullcrap.
    2. Identity theft type crimes that Prasad alludes to.

    I see those as problems, but not as "freak-out problems".
    I did say the public pressure is a good thing. We should oppose this over-reach. We should try to shut this down. We should aim to make surveillance more rule-bound, limited, targeted etc.
    But we shouldnt go haywire.

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    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

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    Council Member Firn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post


    Why do I imagine the NSA&Co as kids visiting the brave new candy store? There is just so much good new stuff around that it is impossible to resist even if mother constitution might say no...

    I'm pretty sure that when it comes to technology those organizations will have a very hard time to unlearn even if the legal framework should change.
    ... "We need officers capable of following systematically the path of logical argument to its conclusion, with disciplined intellect, strong in character and nerve to execute what the intellect dictates"

    General Ludwig Beck (1880-1944);
    Speech at the Kriegsakademie, 1935

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    Default We always thought they were listening to us back then too....

    When I was a kid, India was the bad country because it was pro-Soviet and we used to joke that people were listening to our conversations back then!
    - From my comment to the following SWJ article:

    http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art...m-in-naglandia


    People used to joke about this but it may have been a little serious, too. Back then, because of the crappy phones in India you'd here weird noises in the background and call at odd hours and hear clicking noises....

    PS: I'm a little more concerned than Omar but that's more about the thinking of the class that put this in place.
    Last edited by Madhu; 06-11-2013 at 02:14 PM. Reason: Added PS

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    I am concerned too. The original comments were on a liberal blog where the dominant mood was "Freak-out, the end is here". Those comments are more about trying to talk down friends who were commenting as if they were ready to jump.
    I am also eternally optimistic. I think when the national security state collects everything they are collecting nothing. Or to quote another friend, they are collecting hay to make a haystack so they can look for a needle in the haystack. It surely makes a lot of money for Booz-Allen, and it opens up possibilities of identity theft, ex-girlfriend revenge and other unpleasantness, but its practical usefulness as a tool for controlling the proles seems limited to me.
    I may be wrong.

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    There are a wide variety of comments on PRISM plus, here are two I found of note. From Canada, a taster:
    To be sure, the world is a nasty place. We do need law enforcement, defence, and national intelligence agencies. But in the world of Big Data, in which we are turning our digital lives inside out, should we be entrusting power and authority to agencies that barely acknowledge their own existence? It’s time to open up the black box, lift the lid on cyberspace, and impose accountability on those whom we entrust with access to our intimate digital lives. It’s time to watch the watchers.
    Link:http://www.theglobeandmail.com/comme...ticle12455029/

    The second is by David Gomez, ex-FBI agent; which ends with:
    Snowden's revelations have also proven that we have crossed the digital Rubicon; there is no going back to a time when FBI and NSA files were manual and reasonable internal security measures were sufficient to safeguard our individual privacy.

    It's time to learn to either live with it, or legislate the collection of metadata by the government into oblivion and risk the inherent consequences of that decision. The choice is yours.
    Link:http://www.foreignpolicy.com/article...data?page=full
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    My suspicious self thinks there is more to this than meets the eye. According to the story I read, Mr. Snowden left Special Forces training because of an injury. You don't get accepted into that training unless you are on the ball, or so I've read. Few dummies are Green Berets.

    Then he gets a computer security job at the CIA. He gets diplomatic cover for some reason in Europe. He ends up working at NSA with access to everything.

    He does what he does then lights out for Hong Kong, part of Red China, a special part. And then he IDs himself. I wonder if there is more to this than disgruntled employee makes a grandstand play.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Let me know if this is inappropriate, but here I am continuing wiht posting my comments from 3quarksdaily.com at this site:

    One of my reasons for trying to talk people down from "this is the apocalypse" was that it takes away from more worthwhile targets. I would prioritise:
    1. Black budgets. How much taxpayer money is being wasted on Booz-Allen type crap? If they were paying a lowly computer tech 120,000 as they claim (or 200,000, as he claims), you can be sure they were making incredible sums of money without any serious accountability.
    2. Transparency. Who gets to spy, on whom, with what justification. This shouldnt be just a black box.
    3. Oversight. Related to 2, of course.

    If you zero in on these, you will have some real bipartisan support. If you zero in on "privacy violation, the elites are going to put us all in camps, Big Brother, etc", you are going to be extremely popular and resonant in the (lets face it, tiny) super-elite leftie arugula-eater bubble, but nothing much will change.
    Just saying.
    Of course, as a true globalist, I assess "super-elite" in reference to world living standards and not those in the imperialist metropole.

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    Default Putting focus on Paul Revere - and Joseph Warren

    You don't have to have Irish ancestry to do this - though it may help - Kieran Healy, Using Metadata to Find Paul Revere (9 Jun 2013):

    London, 1772.

    I have been asked by my superiors to give a brief demonstration of the surprising effectiveness of even the simplest techniques of the new-fangled Social Networke Analysis in the pursuit of those who would seek to undermine the liberty enjoyed by His Majesty’s subjects. This is in connection with the discussion of the role of “metadata” in certain recent events and the assurances of various respectable parties that the government was merely “sifting through this so-called metadata” and that the “information acquired does not include the content of any communications”. I will show how we can use this “metadata” to find key persons involved in terrorist groups operating within the Colonies at the present time. I shall also endeavour to show how these methods work in what might be called a relational manner.
    ...
    What a nice picture! The analytical engine has arranged everyone neatly, picking out clusters of individuals and also showing both peripheral individuals and—more intriguingly—people who seem to bridge various groups in ways that might perhaps be relevant to national security. Look at that person right in the middle there. Zoom in if you wish. He seems to bridge several groups in an unusual (though perhaps not unique) way. His name is Paul Revere.
    ...
    So, there you have it. From a table of membership in different groups we have gotten a picture of a kind of social network between individuals, a sense of the degree of connection between organizations, and some strong hints of who the key players are in this world. And all this—all of it!—from the merest sliver of metadata about a single modality of relationship between people. I do not wish to overstep the remit of my memorandum but I must ask you to imagine what might be possible if we were but able to collect information on very many more people, and also synthesize information from different kinds of ties between people! For the simple methods I have described are quite generalizable in these ways, and their capability only becomes more apparent as the size and scope of the information they are given increases. We would not need to know what was being whispered between individuals, only that they were connected in various ways. The analytical engine would do the rest! I daresay the shape of the real structure of social relations would emerge from our calculations gradually, first in outline only, but eventually with ever-increasing clarity and, at last, in beautiful detail—like a great, silent ship coming out of the gray New England fog.
    Thus, a "1772" crystal ball, three years before "Different Experiences and Ideologies" collided at the Bridge.

    Presenting the evidence in truly scientific form requires a "Han" - Shin-Kap Han, The Other Ride of Paul Revere (2009):

    Notwithstanding the celebrated tale of his “Midnight Ride,” Paul Revere’s role in the complex of events leading up to the American Revolution remains rather obscure. The few who have delved into this gap in the historical narrative suggest that Revere’s real importance is not to be found in that one spectacular exploit (Countryman 1985; Fischer 1994; Forbes 1942; Triber 1998). What then was his importance, if any? In other words, if Revere was more than a messenger who just happened upon the assignment to ride to Lexington on that fateful night of April 18-19, 1775, and if he indeed had “an uncanny genius for being at the center of events” (Fischer 1994: xv), what exactly was the role he played? Joseph Warren, known mostly as the man who sent Revere on that ride, presents a similar quandary (Cary 1961; Truax 1968). What was his role? Also, what was his relationship with Revere in the context of the incipient movement?

    Using the membership rosters of key Whig groups and supplementary secondary data, I address these questions by examining the underlying relational structure that created opportunities for Revere and Warren in the mobilization process. The analysis shows that Paul Revere’s genius was in his being a bridge par excellence. The role Joseph Warren played was of the same kind, welding the movement as a whole. Both men were bridges that spanned the various social chasms and connected disparate organizational elements, helping to forge an emerging movement that gave rise to the American Revolution. The effectiveness of the brokerage they provided in linking the microlevel interactions to the macrolevel mobilization was due mainly to the fact that the network they were embedded in was highly multiplex, and the positions they occupied in it were singularly instrumental. Moreover, they complemented each other as structural doubles. This is the other ride of Paul Revere and Joseph Warren—far less known, yet, I argue, much more crucial.
    Just saying: back to the future.

    Regrads

    Mike

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Lightbulb Slap's One Minute Street Cop Analysis

    The whole Snowden things stinks worse than dead Pig in the Sunshine! This whole mess is following the plot of a true espionage story called the "The Falcon and The Snowman" Link below for some backround info.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Falcon_and_the_Snowman

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    Council Member Firn's Avatar
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    I guess it mostly comes down to the sheer amount of watchers. With 100.000+ involved into the worldwide spying the chances are just too good that sooner or later somebody talks to press.

    'On a stalk you alone are one too much' an old regional hunting saying goes...
    ... "We need officers capable of following systematically the path of logical argument to its conclusion, with disciplined intellect, strong in character and nerve to execute what the intellect dictates"

    General Ludwig Beck (1880-1944);
    Speech at the Kriegsakademie, 1935

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    The number of watchers is ridiculous. The number being watched is even more ridiculous. The amount of money Booz-Allen made out of this scam will surely turn out to be ridiculous. And the falcon's flight to the people's republic of China may turn out to be the most ridiculous of them all.
    As Slap's picture points out, "Targeting; use it". But then, I really do think its not about spying, its mostly about making money for whoever dreamed up the scheme.

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    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    This program makes no sense if the purpose is actually what they say it is. There is no algorithm that will detect a potential terrorists pattern of social contacts and phone contacts and differentiate that from the pattern exhibited by a salesman or a reporter of the head of the chamber of commerce. You have to get a name of somebody acting suspiciously and move out from there, otherwise you have a huge mass of meaningless data. You get the name from talking to people, police work. The gov got sold a bill of goods. That gets to Omar's point.

    If you want to take a very dark view of the program, it is useful for charting general patterns of behavior of normal people. And that is useful if for some reason in the future you wanted to limit the right of free association and control civil associations and groups. If that were an unstated purpose that would be very dark indeed.

    Slap: This is one sharp guy. Maybe he is or was a spook. He picks part of Red China to go to. To further you suggestion, what do you think of the possibility that in addition to giving things to the press, he gave a lot of things, really important things, to the Red Chinese? They wouldn't give him what amounts to asylum for nothing.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Council Member J Wolfsberger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    Slap: This is one sharp guy. Maybe he is or was a spook. He picks part of Red China to go to. To further you suggestion, what do you think of the possibility that in addition to giving things to the press, he gave a lot of things, really important things, to the Red Chinese? They wouldn't give him what amounts to asylum for nothing.
    Possibly. But my bull#### detector went off when this story broke. Do we know anything about this guy from any third party source? Is there any confirmation he was even in the Army?

    1. On the fast track to Special Forces (18X) - with a GED?
    2. Broke both legs in jump school (which almost has to be jump week) - and gets an unspecified discharge? (Damn serious breaks if the bone cutters at Benning couldn't heal him. Does he walk with a limp? No limp - no breaks - voice of experience.)
    3. On to Switzerland under diplomatic cover for the CIA - which is a nice, unverifiable touch.
    4. Into a 6 figure job at BAH - because they have scores of openings for computer geniuses who can't figure out how to anonymously pass the digital documents on to the media.

    Go into any bar in the United States that caters to a youngish crowd and you will find some loser who's glommed onto a good looking airhead girlfriend with some "international man of danger" line of crap. ("But you need to know about my secret life in case blah, blah, blah.") Like Snowden.

    My take on it is that Snowden is a first order con-man. I won't be surprised if the dust settles and it turns out he took a powder because his house of cards was about to collapse. And as part of taking his leave, yes, I won't be surprised if he turned over some juicy info to the Chinese in exchange for a big payday.
    Last edited by J Wolfsberger; 06-13-2013 at 03:37 PM.
    John Wolfsberger, Jr.

    An unruffled person with some useful skills.

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    IF he is some sort of conman then his end will not be pleasant (for him). Glenn Greenwald will probably emerge unscathed since he is already in Tariq Ali and Noam Chomsky territory (where you can never be wrong because "the man" is always at fault). The Washington Post may end up mildly embarrassed though.
    Personally, I am looking forward to finding out who is better at milking this for propaganda advantage, the US government or China? The odds may seem to be in China's favor but i dont think they are that lopsided because:
    1. If he is some sort of conman and the US govt knows that (by definition, they should, since he is claiming to be their super-employee at various points in his life; if he is lying, they should know) then they can let him hang himself.
    2. China has many capable people, but its still China. Given enough rope, they should trip up too.
    OTOH this is America.
    Given that very little real pain and suffering seems to be involved, this should be guilt-free entertainment, no matter how it turns out.
    I hope.

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    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by J Wolfsberger View Post
    Possibly. But my bull#### detector went off when this story broke. Do we know anything about this guy from any third party source? Is there any confirmation he was even in the Army?

    1. On the fast track to Special Forces (18X) - with a GED?
    2. Broke both legs in jump school (which almost has to be jump week) - and gets an unspecified discharge? (Damn serious breaks if the bone cutters at Benning couldn't heal him. Does he walk with a limp? No limp - no breaks - voice of experience.)
    3. On to Switzerland under diplomatic cover for the CIA - which is a nice, unverifiable touch.
    4. Into a 6 figure job at BAH - because they have scores of openings for computer geniuses who can't figure out how to anonymously pass the digital documents on to the media.

    Go into any bar in the United States that caters to a youngish crowd and you will find some loser who's glommed onto a good looking airhead girlfriend with some "international man of danger" line of crap. ("But you need to know about my secret life in case blah, blah, blah.") Like Snowden.

    My take on it is that Snowden is a first order con-man. I won't be surprised if the dust settles and it turns out he took a powder because his house of cards was about to collapse. And as part of taking his leave, yes, I won't be surprised if he turned over some juicy info to the Chinese in exchange for a big payday.
    I should have thought of all that but I didn't.

    Here is a story from the LA Times about Mr. Snowden spilling the beans about the US hacking Red China and Hong Kong and the Red Chinese being indignant about this.

    http://www.latimes.com/news/world/wo...,2845643.story

    This is a nice turn of events. The US has been complaining more and more loudly about Red Chinese cyber spying and stealing and Mr. Snowden reveals the NSA cyber watching of Americans and oh by the way the US is hacking Red China; Mr. Snowden making the latest of the pronouncements from Red China. I suspect the timing may not be coincidental.

    Nothing good will come out of this for the US intel community. If Mr. Snowden is a con man, they are incompetent fools. If he was a spook or semi-spook who was turned by the Red Chinese they incompetent fools. And we are supposed to trust them with these surveillance programs?
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Lightbulb I Think He Is A Flake

    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    Slap: This is one sharp guy. Maybe he is or was a spook. He picks part of Red China to go to. To further you suggestion, what do you think of the possibility that in addition to giving things to the press, he gave a lot of things, really important things, to the Red Chinese? They wouldn't give him what amounts to asylum for nothing.
    carl,
    I was going to respond in detail but the easier way is to just read what J. Wolfsberger wrote. This guy is a flake IMO!

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