France feared US hacked president, was Israel involved?

AFP – France believed the United States attempted to hack into its president’s communications network, a leaked US intelligence document published on Friday suggests.

US agents denied having anything to do with a May 2012 cyber attack on the Elysee Palace, the official residence of French presidents, and appeared to hint at the possible involvement of Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency, a classified internal note from the US National Security Agency suggests.

Extracts from the document, the latest to emerge from the NSA via former contractor Edward Snowden, were published by Le Monde newspaper alongside an article jointly authored by Glenn Greenwald, the US journalist who has been principally responsible for a still-unravelling scandal over large-scale US snooping on individuals and political leaders all over the world.

The document is a briefing note prepared in April this year for NSA officials who were due to meet two senior figures from France’s external intelligence agency, the DGSE. The French agents had travelled to Washington to demand explanations over their discovery in May 2012 of attempts to compromise the Elysee’s communications systems.

The note says that the branch of the NSA which handles cyber attacks, Tailored Access Operations (TAO), had confirmed that it had not carried out the attack and says that most of its closest allies (Australia, Britain, Canada and New Zealand) had also denied involvement.

It goes on to note: “TAO intentionally did not ask either Mossad or (Israel’s cyber intelligence unit) ISNU whether they were involved as France is not an approved target for joint discussions.”

Le Monde interpreted this sentence as being an ironic reference to a strong likelihood that Mossad had been behind the attack.

The cyber attacks on the Elysee took place in the final weeks of Nicolas Sarkozy’s term, between the two rounds of the presidential election which he ended up losing to Francois Hollande.

The attacks had been previously reported by French media, who have described them as an attempt to insert monitoring devices into the system but it remains unclear whether the presidential networks were compromised for any time.

There was no immediate response from the Elysee on Friday when asked for comment by AFP.

Sarkozy enjoyed warmer relations with the United States than any French president of recent times, to the extent that the media sometimes referred to him as “Sarko the American.”

The revelations about the Elysee attacks followed damaging revelations that the US had tapped the mobile phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and spied on other allies.

“Spying between friends, that’s just not done,” Merkel said Thursday at the start of a summit of European Union leaders which has been overshadowed by the issue.

On a lighter note, the leaked document published by Le Monde on Friday underlines that NSA officials were anxious not to cause any further offence to their angry French counterparts.

Along with the technical details, the briefing note contains a phonetic guide to the pronunciation of the names of the French visitors.

They included DGSE technical director Bernard Barbier, who was to be addressed as bear-NAR bur-BYAY, and Patrick Pailloux, or pah-TREEK pie-YOO.

25 OCTOBER 2013 – 12H58

Find this story at 25 October 2013

© 2006 – 2013 Copyright FRANCE 24. All rights reserved

NSA Targeted French Foreign Ministry

Espionage by the US on France has already strained relations between the two countries, threatening a trans-Atlantic trade agreement. Now a document seen by SPIEGEL reveals that the NSA also spied on the French Foreign Ministry.

America’s National Security Agency (NSA) targeted France’s Foreign Ministry for surveillance, according to an internal document seen by SPIEGEL.

Dated June 2010, the “top secret” NSA document reveals that the intelligence agency was particularly interested in the diplomats’ computer network. All of the country’s embassies and consulates are connected with the Paris headquarters via a virtual private network (VPN), technology that is generally considered to be secure.

Accessing the Foreign Ministry’s network was considered a “success story,” and there were a number of incidents of “sensitive access,” the document states.

An overview lists different web addresses tapped into by the NSA, among them “diplomatie.gouv.fr,” which was run from the Foreign Ministry’s server. A list from September 2010 says that French diplomatic offices in Washington and at the United Nations in New York were also targeted, and given the codenames “Wabash” and “Blackfoot,” respectively. NSA technicians installed bugs in both locations and conducted a “collection of computer screens” at the one at the UN.

A priority list also names France as an official target for the intelligence agency. In particular, the NSA was interested in the country’s foreign policy objectives, especially the weapons trade, and economic stability.

US-French relations are being strained by such espionage activities. In early July, French President François Hollande threatened to suspend negotiations for a trans-Atlantic free trade agreement, demanding a guarantee from the US that it would cease spying after it was revealed that the French embassy in Washington had been targeted by the NSA.

“There can be no negotiations or transactions in all areas until we have obtained these guarantees, for France but also for all of the European Union, for all partners of the United States,” he said at the time.

The NSA declined to comment to SPIEGEL on the matter. As details about the scope of the agency’s international spying operations continue to emerge, Washington has come under increasing pressure from its trans-Atlantic partners. Officials in Europe have expressed concern that negotiations for the trade agreement would be poisoned by a lack of trust.

09/01/2013 09:32 AM

Find this story at 1 September 2013

© SPIEGEL ONLINE 2013

US also eavesdrops on Israel, says former Mossad head

Americans want to know what Netanyahu is thinking about Iran, Palestinian issues, says Danny Yatom; follows reports NSA listened in to 35 world leaders
A day after it was revealed that the US National Security Agency monitored the private conversations of some 35 world leaders, former head of the Mossad Danny Yatom said Friday that the US listens in on its ally Israel as well.

“I can tell you with certain knowledge that [America] has been listening in on its allies, including Israel,” Yatom said, and “not necessarily in [Benjamin] Netanyahu’s tenure” as prime minister.

“The US doesn’t really care about anyone [but itself] and the Americans are vehemently denying the incidents,” Yatom told the Israeli daily Maariv on Friday. ”It could very well be that these things [monitoring calls] are happening here [in Israel] too. When the Americans think they need to listen in on someone, they’ll do just that.”

Yatom explained that there are two issues around which the Americans are likely spying on Israel — negotiations with Palestinians and the Iranian nuclear program.

“It is important for them to know what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu really thinks… They have interests here because they want to be able to contend with Israeli claims that arise when talking about these issues,” the ex-Mossad chief said.

Yatom also stressed that the US seeks to obtain information on Israel’s “real” position vis-a-vis-negotiations and what obstacles stand in the way of advancing peace talks.

He also criticized the US for misusing its power as a world leader.

“The Americans rightly see themselves as a superpower, but wrongly feel that they can do whatever they want, including the eavesdropping,” he said.

Yatom served from 1996-1998 as head of the Mossad. The Israeli intelligence agency is smarting from recent reports that Turkey deliberately exposed a ring of Israeli agents in Iran, and further reports that US did not sanction or protest to Turkey over this alleged betrayal. Yatom has been particularly outspoken over the matter.

Yatom’s statements came a day after the the British newspaper The Guardian said it had obtained a confidential memo suggesting the NSA was able to monitor 35 world leaders’ communications in 2006.

The memo said the NSA encouraged senior officials at the White House, Pentagon and other agencies to share their contacts so the spy agency could add foreign leaders’ phone numbers to its surveillance systems, the report said.

The report drew furious reactions in Germany, Spain — both of whom summoned the US ambassador in their countries for talks over the report — and France.

European Union leaders, meeting Friday at a summit in Brussels, vowed to maintain a strong trans-Atlantic partnership despite their anger over allegations of widespread US spying on allies. Still, France and Germany are insisting the United States agree upon new surveillance rules with them this year to stop US eavesdropping on their leaders, innocent civilians and companies.

“We are seeking a basis for cooperation between our (intelligence) services, which we all need and from which we have all received a great deal of information … that is transparent, that is clear and is in keeping with the character of being partners,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters.

“The United States and Europe are partners, but this partnership must be built on trust and respect,” Merkel said early Friday. “That of course also includes the work of the respective intelligence services.”

Several European leaders noted Friday that the continent’s close political and commercial ties to the US must be protected as EU nations demand more assurances from the Obama administration.

“What is at stake is preserving our relations with the United States,” said French President Francois Hollande. “Trust has to be restored and reinforced.”

“The main thing is that we look to the future. The trans-Atlantic partnership was and is important,” said Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, whose nation holds the rotating presidency of the 28-country bloc.

Merkel complained to President Barack Obama on Wednesday after her government received information that her cellphone may have been monitored. Merkel and Hollande insisted that, beyond being fully briefed on what happened in the past, the European allies and Washington need to set up common rules for US surveillance that does not impede the fundamental rights of its allies.

Lazar Berman and AP contributed to this report.

By Times of Israel staff October 25, 2013, 7:50 pm 13

Find this story at 25 October 2013

© 2013 The Times of Israel, All rights reserved

No Morsel Too Minuscule for All-Consuming N.S.A.

When Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary general, sat down with President Obama at the White House in April to discuss Syrian chemical weapons, Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and climate change, it was a cordial, routine exchange.

The National Security Agency nonetheless went to work in advance and intercepted Mr. Ban’s talking points for the meeting, a feat the agency later reported as an “operational highlight” in a weekly internal brag sheet. It is hard to imagine what edge this could have given Mr. Obama in a friendly chat, if he even saw the N.S.A.’s modest scoop. (The White House won’t say.)

But it was emblematic of an agency that for decades has operated on the principle that any eavesdropping that can be done on a foreign target of any conceivable interest — now or in the future — should be done. After all, American intelligence officials reasoned, who’s going to find out?

From thousands of classified documents, the National Security Agency emerges as an electronic omnivore of staggering capabilities, eavesdropping and hacking its way around the world to strip governments and other targets of their secrets, all the while enforcing the utmost secrecy about its own operations. It spies routinely on friends as well as foes, as has become obvious in recent weeks; the agency’s official mission list includes using its surveillance powers to achieve “diplomatic advantage” over such allies as France and Germany and “economic advantage” over Japan and Brazil, among other countries.

Mr. Obama found himself in September standing uncomfortably beside the president of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, who was furious at being named as a target of N.S.A. eavesdropping. Since then, there has been a parade of such protests, from the European Union, Mexico, France, Germany and Spain. Chagrined American officials joke that soon there will be complaints from foreign leaders feeling slighted because the agency had not targeted them.

James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, has repeatedly dismissed such objections as brazen hypocrisy from countries that do their own share of spying. But in a recent interview, he acknowledged that the scale of eavesdropping by the N.S.A., with 35,000 workers and $10.8 billion a year, sets it apart. “There’s no question that from a capability standpoint we probably dwarf everybody on the planet, just about, with perhaps the exception of Russia and China,” he said.

Since Edward J. Snowden began releasing the agency’s documents in June, the unrelenting stream of disclosures has opened the most extended debate on the agency’s mission since its creation in 1952. The scrutiny has ignited a crisis of purpose and legitimacy for the N.S.A., the nation’s largest intelligence agency, and the White House has ordered a review of both its domestic and its foreign intelligence collection. While much of the focus has been on whether the agency violates Americans’ privacy, an issue under examination by Congress and two review panels, the anger expressed around the world about American surveillance has prompted far broader questions.

If secrecy can no longer be taken for granted, when does the political risk of eavesdropping overseas outweigh its intelligence benefits? Should foreign citizens, many of whom now rely on American companies for email and Internet services, have any privacy protections from the N.S.A.? Will the American Internet giants’ collaboration with the agency, voluntary or otherwise, damage them in international markets? And are the agency’s clandestine efforts to weaken encryption making the Internet less secure for everyone?

Matthew M. Aid, an intelligence historian and author of a 2009 book on the N.S.A., said there is no precedent for the hostile questions coming at the agency from all directions.

“From N.S.A.’s point of view, it’s a disaster,” Mr. Aid said. “Every new disclosure reinforces the notion that the agency needs to be reined in. There are political consequences, and there will be operational consequences.”

A review of classified agency documents obtained by Mr. Snowden and shared with The New York Times by The Guardian, offers a rich sampling of the agency’s global operations and culture. (At the agency’s request, The Times is withholding some details that officials said could compromise intelligence operations.) The N.S.A. seems to be listening everywhere in the world, gathering every stray electron that might add, however minutely, to the United States government’s knowledge of the world. To some Americans, that may be a comfort. To others, and to people overseas, that may suggest an agency out of control.

The C.I.A. dispatches undercover officers overseas to gather intelligence today roughly the same way spies operated in biblical times. But the N.S.A., born when the long-distance call was a bit exotic, has seen its potential targets explode in number with the advent of personal computers, the Internet and cellphones. Today’s N.S.A. is the Amazon of intelligence agencies, as different from the 1950s agency as that online behemoth is from a mom-and-pop bookstore. It sucks the contents from fiber-optic cables, sits on telephone switches and Internet hubs, digitally burglarizes laptops and plants bugs on smartphones around the globe.

Mr. Obama and top intelligence officials have defended the agency’s role in preventing terrorist attacks. But as the documents make clear, the focus on counterterrorism is a misleadingly narrow sales pitch for an agency with an almost unlimited agenda. Its scale and aggressiveness are breathtaking.

The agency’s Dishfire database — nothing happens without a code word at the N.S.A. — stores years of text messages from around the world, just in case. Its Tracfin collection accumulates gigabytes of credit card purchases. The fellow pretending to send a text message at an Internet cafe in Jordan may be using an N.S.A. technique code-named Polarbreeze to tap into nearby computers. The Russian businessman who is socially active on the web might just become food for Snacks, the acronym-mad agency’s Social Network Analysis Collaboration Knowledge Services, which figures out the personnel hierarchies of organizations from texts.

The spy agency’s station in Texas intercepted 478 emails while helping to foil a jihadist plot to kill a Swedish artist who had drawn pictures of the Prophet Muhammad. N.S.A. analysts delivered to authorities at Kennedy International Airport the names and flight numbers of workers dispatched by a Chinese human smuggling ring.

The agency’s eavesdropping gear, aboard a Defense Department plane flying 60,000 feet over Colombia, fed the location and plans of FARC rebels to the Colombian Army. In the Orlandocard operation, N.S.A. technicians set up what they called a “honeypot” computer on the web that attracted visits from 77,413 foreign computers and planted spyware on more than 1,000 that the agency deemed of potential future interest.

The Global Phone Book

No investment seems too great if it adds to the agency’s global phone book. After mounting a major eavesdropping effort focused on a climate change conference in Bali in 2007, agency analysts stationed in Australia’s outback were especially thrilled by one catch: the cellphone number of Bali’s police chief.

“Our mission,” says the agency’s current five-year plan, which has not been officially scheduled for declassification until 2032, “is to answer questions about threatening activities that others mean to keep hidden.”

The aspirations are grandiose: to “utterly master” foreign intelligence carried on communications networks. The language is corporate: “Our business processes need to promote data-driven decision-making.” But the tone is also strikingly moralistic for a government bureaucracy. Perhaps to counter any notion that eavesdropping is a shady enterprise, signals intelligence, or Sigint, the term of art for electronic intercepts, is presented as the noblest of callings.

“Sigint professionals must hold the moral high ground, even as terrorists or dictators seek to exploit our freedoms,” the plan declares. “Some of our adversaries will say or do anything to advance their cause; we will not.”

The N.S.A. documents taken by Mr. Snowden and shared with The Times, numbering in the thousands and mostly dating from 2007 to 2012, are part of a collection of about 50,000 items that focus mainly on its British counterpart, Government Communications Headquarters or G.C.H.Q.

While far from comprehensive, the documents give a sense of the agency’s reach and abilities, from the Navy ships snapping up radio transmissions as they cruise off the coast of China, to the satellite dishes at Fort Meade in Maryland ingesting worldwide banking transactions, to the rooftops of 80 American embassies and consulates around the world from which the agency’s Special Collection Service aims its antennas.

The agency and its many defenders among senior government officials who have relied on its top secret reports say it is crucial to American security and status in the world, pointing to terrorist plots disrupted, nuclear proliferation tracked and diplomats kept informed.

But the documents released by Mr. Snowden sometimes also seem to underscore the limits of what even the most intensive intelligence collection can achieve by itself. Blanket N.S.A. eavesdropping in Afghanistan, described in the documents as covering government offices and the hide-outs of second-tier Taliban militants alike, has failed to produce a clear victory against a low-tech enemy. The agency kept track as Syria amassed its arsenal of chemical weapons — but that knowledge did nothing to prevent the gruesome slaughter outside Damascus in August.

The documents are skewed toward celebration of the agency’s self-described successes, as underlings brag in PowerPoints to their bosses about their triumphs and the managers lay out grand plans. But they do not entirely omit the agency’s flubs and foibles: flood tides of intelligence gathered at huge cost that goes unexamined; intercepts that cannot be read for lack of language skills; and computers that — even at the N.S.A. — go haywire in all the usual ways.

Mapping Message Trails

In May 2009, analysts at the agency learned that Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was to make a rare trip to Kurdistan Province in the country’s mountainous northwest. The agency immediately organized a high-tech espionage mission, part of a continuing project focused on Ayatollah Khamenei called Operation Dreadnought.

Working closely with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, which handles satellite photography, as well as G.C.H.Q., the N.S.A. team studied the Iranian leader’s entourage, its vehicles and its weaponry from satellites, and intercepted air traffic messages as planes and helicopters took off and landed.

They heard Ayatollah Khamenei’s aides fretting about finding a crane to load an ambulance and fire truck onto trucks for the journey. They listened as he addressed a crowd, segregated by gender, in a soccer field.

They studied Iranian air defense radar stations and recorded the travelers’ rich communications trail, including Iranian satellite coordinates collected by an N.S.A. program called Ghosthunter. The point was not so much to catch the Iranian leader’s words, but to gather the data for blanket eavesdropping on Iran in the event of a crisis.

This “communications fingerprinting,” as a document called it, is the key to what the N.S.A. does. It allows the agency’s computers to scan the stream of international communications and pluck out messages tied to the supreme leader. In a crisis — say, a showdown over Iran’s nuclear program — the ability to tap into the communications of leaders, generals and scientists might give a crucial advantage.

On a more modest scale, the same kind of effort, what N.S.A. calls “Sigint development,” was captured in a document the agency obtained in 2009 from Somalia — whether from a human source or an electronic break-in was not noted. It contained email addresses and other contact details for 117 selected customers of a Mogadishu Internet service, Globalsom.

While most on the list were Somali officials or citizens, presumably including some suspected of militancy, the document also included emails for a United Nations political officer in Mogadishu and a local representative for the charity World Vision, among other international institutions. All, it appeared, were considered fair game for monitoring.

This huge investment in collection is driven by pressure from the agency’s “customers,” in government jargon, not only at the White House, Pentagon, F.B.I. and C.I.A., but also spread across the Departments of State and Energy, Homeland Security and Commerce, and the United States Trade Representative.

By many accounts, the agency provides more than half of the intelligence nuggets delivered to the White House early each morning in the President’s Daily Brief — a measure of success for American spies. (One document boasts that listening in on Nigerian State Security had provided items for the briefing “nearly two dozen” times.) In every international crisis, American policy makers look to the N.S.A. for inside information.

Pressure to Get Everything

That creates intense pressure not to miss anything. When that is combined with an ample budget and near-invisibility to the public, the result is aggressive surveillance of the kind that has sometimes gotten the agency in trouble with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, a United States federal court that polices its programs for breaches of Americans’ privacy.

In the funding boom that followed the Sept. 11 attacks, the agency expanded and decentralized far beyond its Fort Meade headquarters in Maryland, building or expanding major facilities in Georgia, Texas, Colorado, Hawaii, Alaska, Washington State and Utah. Its officers also operate out of major overseas stations in England, Australia, South Korea and Japan, at overseas military bases, and from locked rooms housing the Special Collection Service inside American missions abroad.

The agency, using a combination of jawboning, stealth and legal force, has turned the nation’s Internet and telecommunications companies into collection partners, installing filters in their facilities, serving them with court orders, building back doors into their software and acquiring keys to break their encryption.

But even that vast American-run web is only part of the story. For decades, the N.S.A. has shared eavesdropping duties with the rest of the so-called Five Eyes, the Sigint agencies of Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. More limited cooperation occurs with many more countries, including formal arrangements called Nine Eyes and 14 Eyes and Nacsi, an alliance of the agencies of 26 NATO countries.

The extent of Sigint sharing can be surprising: “N.S.A. may pursue a relationship with Vietnam,” one 2009 G.C.H.Q. document reported. But a recent G.C.H.Q. training document suggests that not everything is shared, even between the United States and Britain. “Economic well-being reporting,” it says, referring to intelligence gathered to aid the British economy, “cannot be shared with any foreign partner.”

As at the school lunch table, decisions on who gets left out can cause hurt feelings: “Germans were a little grumpy at not being invited to join the 9-Eyes group,” one 2009 document remarks. And in a delicate spy-versus-spy dance, sharing takes place even with governments that are themselves important N.S.A. targets, notably Israel.

The documents describe collaboration with the Israel Sigint National Unit, which gets raw N.S.A. eavesdropping material and provides it in return, but they also mention the agency’s tracking of “high priority Israeli military targets,” including drone aircraft and the Black Sparrow missile system.

The alliances, and the need for stealth, can get complicated. At one highly valued overseas listening post, the very presence of American N.S.A. personnel violates a treaty agreed to by the agency’s foreign host. Even though much of the eavesdropping is run remotely from N.S.A.’s base at Fort Gordon, Ga., Americans who visit the site must pose as contractors, carry fake business cards and are warned: “Don’t dress as typical Americans.”

“Know your cover legend,” a PowerPoint security briefing admonishes the N.S.A. staff members headed to the overseas station, directing them to “sanitize personal effects,” send no postcards home and buy no identifiably local souvenirs. (“An option might be jewelry. Most jewelry does not have any markings” showing its place of origin.)

Bypassing Security

In the agency’s early years, its brainy staff members — it remains the largest employer of mathematicians in the country — played an important role in the development of the first computers, then largely a tool for code breaking.

Today, with personal computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones in most homes and government offices in the developed world, hacking has become the agency’s growth area.

Some of Mr. Snowden’s documents describe the exploits of Tailored Access Operations, the prim name for the N.S.A. division that breaks into computers around the world to steal the data inside, and sometimes to leave spy software behind. T.A.O. is increasingly important in part because it allows the agency to bypass encryption by capturing messages as they are written or read, when they are not encoded.

In Baghdad, T.A.O. collected messages left in draft form in email accounts maintained by leaders of the Islamic State of Iraq, a militant group. Under a program called Spinaltap, the division’s hackers identified 24 unique Internet Protocol addresses identifying computers used by the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, making it possible to snatch Hezbollah messages from the flood of global communications sifted by the agency.

The N.S.A.’s elite Transgression Branch, created in 2009 to “discover, understand, evaluate and exploit” foreign hackers’ work, quietly piggybacks on others’ incursions into computers of interest, like thieves who follow other housebreakers around and go through the windows they have left ajar.

In one 2010 hacking operation code-named Ironavenger, for instance, the N.S.A. spied simultaneously on an ally and an adversary. Analysts spotted suspicious emails being sent to a government office of great intelligence interest in a hostile country and realized that an American ally was “spear-phishing” — sending official-looking emails that, when opened, planted malware that let hackers inside.

The Americans silently followed the foreign hackers, collecting documents and passwords from computers in the hostile country, an elusive target. They got a look inside that government and simultaneously got a close-up look at the ally’s cyberskills, the kind of intelligence twofer that is the unit’s specialty.

In many other ways, advances in computer and communications technology have been a boon for the agency. N.S.A. analysts tracked the electronic trail left by a top leader of Al Qaeda in Africa each time he stopped to use a computer on his travels. They correctly predicted his next stop, and the police were there to arrest him.

And at the big N.S.A. station at Fort Gordon, technicians developed an automated service called “Where’s My Node?” that sent an email to an analyst every time a target overseas moved from one cell tower to another. Without lifting a finger, an analyst could follow his quarry’s every move.

The Limits of Spying

The techniques described in the Snowden documents can make the N.S.A. seem omniscient, and nowhere in the world is that impression stronger than in Afghanistan. But the agency’s capabilities at the tactical level have not been nearly enough to produce clear-cut strategic success there, in the United States’ longest war.

A single daily report from June 2011 from the N.S.A.’s station in Kandahar, Afghanistan, the heart of Taliban country, illustrates the intensity of eavesdropping coverage, requiring 15 pages to describe a day’s work.

The agency listened while insurgents from the Haqqani network mounted an attack on the Hotel Intercontinental in Kabul, overhearing the attackers talking to their bosses in Pakistan’s tribal area and recording events minute by minute. “Ruhullah claimed he was on the third floor and had already inflicted one casualty,” the report said in a typical entry. “He also indicated that Hafiz was located on a different floor.”

N.S.A. officers listened as two Afghan Foreign Ministry officials prepared for a meeting between President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan and Iranian officials, assuring them that relations with the United States “would in no way threaten the interests of Iran,” which they decided Mr. Karzai should describe as a “brotherly country.”

The N.S.A. eavesdropped as the top United Nations official in Afghanistan, Staffan de Mistura, consulted his European Union counterpart, Vygaudas Usackas, about how to respond to an Afghan court’s decision to overturn the election of 62 members of Parliament.

And the agency was a fly on the wall for a long-running land dispute between the mayor of Kandahar and a prominent local man known as the Keeper of the Cloak of the Prophet Muhammad, with President Karzai’s late brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, as a mediator.

The agency discovered a Taliban claim to have killed five police officers at a checkpoint by giving them poisoned yogurt, and heard a provincial governor tell an aide that a district police chief was verbally abusing women and clergymen.

A Taliban figure, Mullah Rahimullah Akhund, known on the United States military’s kill-or-capture list by the code name Objective Squiz Incinerator, was overheard instructing an associate to buy suicide vests and a Japanese motorbike, according to the documents.

And N.S.A. listened in as a Saudi extremist, Abu Mughira, called his mother to report that he and his fellow fighters had entered Afghanistan and “done victorious operations.”

Such reports flowed from the agency’s Kandahar station day after day, year after year, and surely strengthened the American campaign against the Taliban. But they also suggest the limits of intelligence against a complex political and military challenge. The N.S.A. recorded the hotel attack, but it had not prevented it. It tracked Mr. Karzai’s government, but he remained a difficult and volatile partner. Its surveillance was crucial in the capture or killing of many enemy fighters, but not nearly enough to remove the Taliban’s ominous shadow from Afghanistan’s future.

Mining All the Tidbits

In the Afghan reports and many others, a striking paradox is the odd intimacy of a sprawling, technology-driven agency with its targets. It is the one-way intimacy of the eavesdropper, as N.S.A. employees virtually enter the office cubicles of obscure government officials and the Spartan hide-outs of drug traffickers and militants around the world.

Venezuela, for instance, was one of six “enduring targets” in N.S.A.’s official mission list from 2007, along with China, North Korea, Iraq, Iran and Russia. The United States viewed itself in a contest for influence in Latin America with Venezuela’s leader then, the leftist firebrand Hugo Chávez, who allied himself with Cuba, and one agency goal was “preventing Venezuela from achieving its regional leadership objectives and pursuing policies that negatively impact U.S. global interests.”

A glimpse of what this meant in practice comes in a brief PowerPoint presentation from August 2010 on “Development of the Venezuelan Economic Mission.” The N.S.A. was tracking billions of dollars flowing to Caracas in loans from China (radar systems and oil drilling), Russia (MIG fighter planes and shoulder-fired missiles) and Iran (a factory to manufacture drone aircraft).

But it was also getting up-close and personal with Venezuela’s Ministry of Planning and Finance, monitoring the government and personal emails of the top 10 Venezuelan economic officials. An N.S.A. officer in Texas, in other words, was paid each day to peruse the private messages of obscure Venezuelan bureaucrats, hunting for tidbits that might offer some tiny policy edge.

In a counterdrug operation in late 2011, the agency’s officers seemed to know more about relations within a sprawling narcotics network than the drug dealers themselves. They listened to “Ricketts,” a Jamaican drug supplier based in Ecuador, struggling to keep his cocaine and marijuana smuggling business going after an associate, “Gordo,” claimed he had paid $250,000 and received nothing in return.

The N.S.A., a report said, was on top of not just their cellphones, but also those of the whole network of “buyers, transporters, suppliers, and middlemen” stretching from the Netherlands and Nova Scotia to Panama City and Bogotá, Colombia. The documents do not say whether arrests resulted from all that eavesdropping.

Even with terrorists, N.S.A. units can form a strangely personal relationship. The N.S.A.-G.C.H.Q. wiki, a top secret group blog that Mr. Snowden downloaded, lists 14 specialists scattered in various stations assigned to Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Pakistani terrorist group that carried out the bloody attack on Mumbai in 2008, with titles including “Pakistan Access Pursuit Team” and “Techniques Discovery Branch.” Under the code name Treaclebeta, N.S.A.’s hackers at Tailored Access Operations also played a role.

In the wiki’s casual atmosphere, American and British eavesdroppers exchange the peculiar shoptalk of the secret world. “I don’t normally use Heretic to scan the fax traffic, I use Nucleon,” one user writes, describing technical tools for searching intercepted documents.

But most striking are the one-on-one pairings of spies and militants; Bryan is assigned to listen in on a man named Haroon, and Paul keeps an ear on Fazl.

A Flood of Details

One N.S.A. officer on the Lashkar-e-Taiba beat let slip that some of his eavesdropping turned out to be largely pointless, perhaps because of the agency’s chronic shortage of skilled linguists. He “ran some queries” to read intercepted communications of certain Lashkar-e-Taiba members, he wrote in the wiki, but added: “Most of it is in Arabic or Farsi, so I can’t make much of it.”

It is a glimpse of the unsurprising fact that sometimes the agency’s expensive and expansive efforts accomplish little. Despite the agency’s embrace of corporate jargon on goal-setting and evaluation, it operates without public oversight in an arena in which achievements are hard to measure.

In a world of ballooning communications, the agency is sometimes simply overwhelmed. In 2008, the N.S.A.’s Middle East and North Africa group set about updating its Sigint collection capabilities. The “ambitious scrub” of selectors — essentially search terms — cut the number of terms automatically searched from 21,177 to 7,795 and the number of messages added to the agency’s Pinwale database from 850,000 a day to 450,000 a day.

The reduction in volume was treated as a major achievement, opening the way for new collection on Iranian leadership and Saudi and Syrian diplomats, the report said.

And in a note that may comfort computer novices, the N.S.A. Middle East analysts discovered major glitches in their search software: The computer was searching for the names of targets but not their email addresses, a rather fundamental flaw. “Over 500 messages in one week did not come in,” the report said about one target.

Those are daily course corrections. Whether the Snowden disclosures will result in deeper change is uncertain. Joel F. Brenner, the agency’s former inspector general, says much of the criticism is unfair, reflecting a naïveté about the realpolitik of spying. “The agency is being browbeaten for doing too well the things it’s supposed to do,” he said.

But Mr. Brenner added that he believes “technology has outrun policy” at the N.S.A., and that in an era in which spying may well be exposed, “routine targeting of close allies is bad politics and is foolish.”

Another former insider worries less about foreign leaders’ sensitivities than the potential danger the sprawling agency poses at home. William E. Binney, a former senior N.S.A. official who has become an outspoken critic, says he has no problem with spying on foreign targets like Brazil’s president or the German chancellor, Angela Merkel. “That’s pretty much what every government does,” he said. “It’s the foundation of diplomacy.” But Mr. Binney said that without new leadership, new laws and top-to-bottom reform, the agency will represent a threat of “turnkey totalitarianism” — the capability to turn its awesome power, now directed mainly against other countries, on the American public.

“I think it’s already starting to happen,” he said. “That’s what we have to stop.”

Whatever reforms may come, Bobby R. Inman, who weathered his own turbulent period as N.S.A. director from 1977 to 1981, offers his hyper-secret former agency a radical suggestion for right now. “My advice would be to take everything you think Snowden has and get it out yourself,” he said. “It would certainly be a shock to the agency. But bad news doesn’t get better with age. The sooner they get it out and put it behind them, the faster they can begin to rebuild.”

November 2, 2013
By SCOTT SHANE

Find this story at 2 November 2013

© 2013 The New York Times Company

NSA shares raw intelligence including Americans’ data with Israel

• Secret deal places no legal limits on use of data by Israelis
• Only official US government communications protected
• Agency insists it complies with rules governing privacy
• Read the NSA and Israel’s ‘memorandum of understanding’

The agreement for the US to provide raw intelligence data to Israel was reached in principle in March 2009, the document shows. Photograph: James Emery

The National Security Agency routinely shares raw intelligence data with Israel without first sifting it to remove information about US citizens, a top-secret document provided to the Guardian by whistleblower Edward Snowden reveals.

Details of the intelligence-sharing agreement are laid out in a memorandum of understanding between the NSA and its Israeli counterpart that shows the US government handed over intercepted communications likely to contain phone calls and emails of American citizens. The agreement places no legally binding limits on the use of the data by the Israelis.

The disclosure that the NSA agreed to provide raw intelligence data to a foreign country contrasts with assurances from the Obama administration that there are rigorous safeguards to protect the privacy of US citizens caught in the dragnet. The intelligence community calls this process “minimization”, but the memorandum makes clear that the information shared with the Israelis would be in its pre-minimized state.

The deal was reached in principle in March 2009, according to the undated memorandum, which lays out the ground rules for the intelligence sharing.

The five-page memorandum, termed an agreement between the US and Israeli intelligence agencies “pertaining to the protection of US persons”, repeatedly stresses the constitutional rights of Americans to privacy and the need for Israeli intelligence staff to respect these rights.

But this is undermined by the disclosure that Israel is allowed to receive “raw Sigint” – signal intelligence. The memorandum says: “Raw Sigint includes, but is not limited to, unevaluated and unminimized transcripts, gists, facsimiles, telex, voice and Digital Network Intelligence metadata and content.”

According to the agreement, the intelligence being shared would not be filtered in advance by NSA analysts to remove US communications. “NSA routinely sends ISNU [the Israeli Sigint National Unit] minimized and unminimized raw collection”, it says.

Although the memorandum is explicit in saying the material had to be handled in accordance with US law, and that the Israelis agreed not to deliberately target Americans identified in the data, these rules are not backed up by legal obligations.

“This agreement is not intended to create any legally enforceable rights and shall not be construed to be either an international agreement or a legally binding instrument according to international law,” the document says.

In a statement to the Guardian, an NSA spokesperson did not deny that personal data about Americans was included in raw intelligence data shared with the Israelis. But the agency insisted that the shared intelligence complied with all rules governing privacy.

“Any US person information that is acquired as a result of NSA’s surveillance activities is handled under procedures that are designed to protect privacy rights,” the spokesperson said.

The NSA declined to answer specific questions about the agreement, including whether permission had been sought from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (Fisa) court for handing over such material.

The memorandum of understanding, which the Guardian is publishing in full, allows Israel to retain “any files containing the identities of US persons” for up to a year. The agreement requests only that the Israelis should consult the NSA’s special liaison adviser when such data is found.

Notably, a much stricter rule was set for US government communications found in the raw intelligence. The Israelis were required to “destroy upon recognition” any communication “that is either to or from an official of the US government”. Such communications included those of “officials of the executive branch (including the White House, cabinet departments, and independent agencies), the US House of Representatives and Senate (member and staff) and the US federal court system (including, but not limited to, the supreme court)”.

It is not clear whether any communications involving members of US Congress or the federal courts have been included in the raw data provided by the NSA, nor is it clear how or why the NSA would be in possession of such communications. In 2009, however, the New York Times reported on “the agency’s attempt to wiretap a member of Congress, without court approval, on an overseas trip”.

The NSA is required by law to target only non-US persons without an individual warrant, but it can collect the content and metadata of Americans’ emails and calls without a warrant when such communication is with a foreign target. US persons are defined in surveillance legislation as US citizens, permanent residents and anyone located on US soil at the time of the interception, unless it has been positively established that they are not a citizen or permanent resident.

Moreover, with much of the world’s internet traffic passing through US networks, large numbers of purely domestic communications also get scooped up incidentally by the agency’s surveillance programs.

The document mentions only one check carried out by the NSA on the raw intelligence, saying the agency will “regularly review a sample of files transferred to ISNU to validate the absence of US persons’ identities”. It also requests that the Israelis limit access only to personnel with a “strict need to know”.

Israeli intelligence is allowed “to disseminate foreign intelligence information concerning US persons derived from raw Sigint by NSA” on condition that it does so “in a manner that does not identify the US person”. The agreement also allows Israel to release US person identities to “outside parties, including all INSU customers” with the NSA’s written permission.

Although Israel is one of America’s closest allies, it is not one of the inner core of countries involved in surveillance sharing with the US – Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. This group is collectively known as Five Eyes.

The relationship between the US and Israel has been strained at times, both diplomatically and in terms of intelligence. In the top-secret 2013 intelligence community budget request, details of which were disclosed by the Washington Post, Israel is identified alongside Iran and China as a target for US cyberattacks.

While NSA documents tout the mutually beneficial relationship of Sigint sharing, another report, marked top secret and dated September 2007, states that the relationship, while central to US strategy, has become overwhelmingly one-sided in favor of Israel.

“Balancing the Sigint exchange equally between US and Israeli needs has been a constant challenge,” states the report, titled ‘History of the US – Israel Sigint Relationship, Post-1992′. “In the last decade, it arguably tilted heavily in favor of Israeli security concerns. 9/11 came, and went, with NSA’s only true Third Party [counter-terrorism] relationship being driven almost totally by the needs of the partner.”

In another top-secret document seen by the Guardian, dated 2008, a senior NSA official points out that Israel aggressively spies on the US. “On the one hand, the Israelis are extraordinarily good Sigint partners for us, but on the other, they target us to learn our positions on Middle East problems,” the official says. “A NIE [National Intelligence Estimate] ranked them as the third most aggressive intelligence service against the US.”

Later in the document, the official is quoted as saying: “One of NSA’s biggest threats is actually from friendly intelligence services, like Israel. There are parameters on what NSA shares with them, but the exchange is so robust, we sometimes share more than we intended.”

The memorandum of understanding also contains hints that there had been tensions in the intelligence-sharing relationship with Israel. At a meeting in March 2009 between the two agencies, according to the document, it was agreed that the sharing of raw data required a new framework and further training for Israeli personnel to protect US person information.

It is not clear whether or not this was because there had been problems up to that point in the handling of intelligence that was found to contain Americans’ data.

However, an earlier US document obtained by Snowden, which discusses co-operating on a military intelligence program, bluntly lists under the cons: “Trust issues which revolve around previous ISR [Israel] operations.”

The Guardian asked the Obama administration how many times US data had been found in the raw intelligence, either by the Israelis or when the NSA reviewed a sample of the files, but officials declined to provide this information. Nor would they disclose how many other countries the NSA shared raw data with, or whether the Fisa court, which is meant to oversee NSA surveillance programs and the procedures to handle US information, had signed off the agreement with Israel.

In its statement, the NSA said: “We are not going to comment on any specific information sharing arrangements, or the authority under which any such information is collected. The fact that intelligence services work together under specific and regulated conditions mutually strengthens the security of both nations.

“NSA cannot, however, use these relationships to circumvent US legal restrictions. Whenever we share intelligence information, we comply with all applicable rules, including the rules to protect US person information.”

Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Ewen MacAskill
The Guardian, Wednesday 11 September 2013 15.40 BST

Find this story at 11 September 2013


© 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

Snowden Documents Reveal NSA Gave Israeli Spies Raw Emails, Texts, Calls of Innocent Americans

Despite assurances from President Obama, the scandal around the National Security Agency continues to grow. The Guardian reports the NSA has routinely passed raw intelligence to Israel about U.S. citizens. “The NSA was sharing what they call raw signals intelligence, which includes things like who you are calling and when you are calling, the content of your phone call, the text of your emails, your text messages, your chat messages,” says Alex Abdo of the American Civil Liberties Union. “It sounds like all of that was handed over.” Abdo also discusses the ACLU’s successful fight to force the government to declassify documents that show the NSA wrongly put 16,000 American phone numbers on an “alert list.”
Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: The Guardian newspaper reported Wednesday the National Security Agency routinely has passed raw intelligence to Israel without first removing details about U.S. citizens. Documents leaked by NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed details of a secret intelligence-sharing agreement between the NSA and its Israeli counterpart, that shows the U.S. government handed over intercepted communications containing phone calls and emails of U.S. citizens. The agreement places no legally binding limits on the use of the data by the Israelis.

Meanwhile, newly declassified documents show the NSA wrongly put 16,000 phone numbers on an “alert list” so their incoming calls could be monitored in violation of court-ordered privacy protections.

AMY GOODMAN: When the NSA notified the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court about the error, Judge Reggie Walton of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court wrote, quote, “The court is exceptionally concerned about what appears to be a flagrant violation of its order in this matter.” The documents were declassified after a long fight with the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union that filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit two years ago.

In other NSA news, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is facing pressure at home to cancel an upcoming state visit to the White House after documents leaked by Snowden revealed the NSA had hacked into the computer networks of Brazil’s state-run oil company Petrobras. On Wednesday, President Obama’s national security adviser, Susan Rice, met with Brazilian Foreign Minister Luiz Alberto in an attempt to smooth relations between the countries.

To talk more about all of these latest developments, we’re joined by Alex Abdo. He is staff attorney at the National Security Project at the American Civil Liberties Union.

Alex, let’s take these in order. The information about the NSA, the U.S. intelligence agency, handing over raw data that it’s collected—legally or illegally, I think remains to be determined—to Israel, can you explain what’s taken place?

ALEX ABDO: It’s difficult to explain. And it’s, you know, of course, not surprising that the NSA is sharing foreign intelligence with our intelligence partners, but what’s troubling is that along with the foreign intelligence is information about innocent Americans that hasn’t been taken out of the data that’s being shared with our intelligence partners. And it’s troubling for a couple of reasons, the first of which, we haven’t known about this, and this may have been going on for years, and the second of which, there’s no avenue for Americans, innocent Americans who are swept up into these dragnets and have their information handed over to our intelligence partners, to stop that flow of information, to assert their rights and prevent it. So this has been going on for some time, it seems, and it raises new questions about the NSA’s—the extent to which we should trust the NSA with information, very sensitive, about innocent Americans.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And what limitations were placed on the information that was—that was handed over to the Israelis, in terms of what they could do with it or how long they could hold it?

ALEX ABDO: Well, based on the documents that were released, it seems as though we basically had a “trust us” regime in place for the sharing of data with Israel. And that’s cold comfort, I think, to the potentially thousands or millions of Americans who find their way into these international surveillance dragnets of the NSA. But there’s simply no way of knowing right now how many Americans were affected, how the information was used, or what other measures the NSA may have taken or may not have taken to protect our privacy.

AMY GOODMAN: And what the information was that was handed over, is it the actual—is it the metadata of phone calls, who you called, when you called them? Is it the actual phone call?

ALEX ABDO: It sounds as though it was all of that. The NSA was sharing what they call raw signals intelligence, which includes things like who you’re calling and when you’re calling, but also the content of your phone calls, the text of your emails, your text messages, your chat messages. It sounds as though all of that was handed over in what they call this raw intelligence.

AMY GOODMAN: And who was targeted?

ALEX ABDO: It’s hard to say. It sounds as though the information sharing was indiscriminate, that they handed over large amounts of information without actually targeting at the outset, and allowing the Israeli analog to the NSA to then scour this information for what was useful. And like I said, they, you know, apparently had in place a clause asking Israel not to abuse this information, but there really didn’t seem to be any legally enforceable way to prevent Americans’ privacy from being violated in the course of this intelligence sharing.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Now, the documents you have referred to appear between 2006 and 2009, which would be the tail end of the Bush administration, but your battle to get access to the documents occurred during the Obama administration. Can you talk about that battle to be able to get these documents released?

ALEX ABDO: Sure. In 2011, two senators, Senators Wyden and Udall, started raising red flags, warnings to America about a secret interpretation that the government was relying on to collect an extraordinary amount of information about innocent Americans. And on the heels of that discussion, the ACLU and other organizations, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, filed requests with the government for these secret interpretations of law. And the Obama administration, which had come into power on a promise of a new era of transparency, fought bitterly to keep these documents secret for years. And they were—it’s actually a bit ironic. In the midst of the disclosures, Obama was in the course of defending very vigorously in court extreme secrecy about these very same documents that were released two days ago. So, it’s—the secrecy was troubling. The fact that they’re now public is a good first step toward greater transparency, but this is information that did not come easily out of the Obama administration.

AMY GOODMAN: One of the documents released was a March 2nd, 2009, court order written by Judge Reggie Walton, now the presiding judge on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Walton writes of the NSA’s bulk collection of phone records, quote, “To approve such a program, the Court must have every confidence that the government is doing its utmost to ensure that those responsible for implementation fully comply with the Court’s orders. The Court no longer has such confidence.” This is the judge.

ALEX ABDO: This is extremely troubling, and it should be very disturbing. We have trusted for years a secret and one-sided judicial process to safeguard Americans’ right to privacy when it comes to NSA surveillance. And the disclosures over the past few months have confirmed that we shouldn’t trust that system to safeguard our right to privacy. And at the end of the day, the battle is between a system in which the NSA is required to go to court to engage in lawful surveillance versus the system that it has now, where it rarely has to go to court to spy even on innocent Americans. And we shouldn’t have confidence in that system, and now we know that there are even more reasons than we suspected not to have confidence in the system. But at the end of the day, that’s the debate, whether the NSA, when it wants to spy on Americans, should be forced to go to a court to justify that spying. The NSA hasn’t been doing that for years, and we need to change that, to force the NSA to justify its surveillance in court.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Of course, President Obama has been justifying that surveillance. I want to turn to a clip from him speaking last month about the leaks by Edward Snowden.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: If you look at the reports, even the disclosures that Mr. Snowden’s put forward, all the stories that have been written, what you’re not reading about is the government actually abusing these programs and, you know, listening in on people’s phone calls or inappropriately reading people’s emails. What you’re hearing about is the prospect that these could be abused. Now, part of the reason they’re not abused is because these checks are in place, and those abuses would be against the law and would be against the orders of the FISC.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: What about President Obama’s claim that the checks are in place?

ALEX ABDO: Well, I think it’s quite obvious now that the checks are not in place, that the very authorities that the government says are carefully overseen by the secret court in D.C. and by regulators within the intelligence communities are failing, that there are violations of even these very permissive rules. But at the end—you know, a core problem is not just that there are violations, but that the law authorizes an extraordinary amount of surveillance in the first place. And that underlying authorization is far too broad. It allows the NSA to engage in a form of dragnet surveillance of even Americans’ communications, that’s not tied to a particular investigation. It’s not tied to a particular terrorist plot that the NSA is trying to stop. That, I think, is the most troubling aspect of these revelations, is that these powers are simply too broad, to begin with.

AMY GOODMAN: On Wednesday, the Yahoo CEO, Marissa Mayer, responded to critics who have accused Internet companies of working with the NSA. During an interview at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco, she was asked why tech companies had not simply decided to tell the public more about what the NSA was doing.

MARISSA MAYER: We can’t talk about those things.

MICHAEL ARRINGTON: Why?

MARISSA MAYER: Because they’re classified.

MICHAEL ARRINGTON: What is—I mean, why?

MARISSA MAYER: And so—so, I mean—just to—

MICHAEL ARRINGTON: Let’s just say, look, right now you were just to tell us the truth about what’s going on, the stuff that’s classified, like what do you think would happen to you?

MARISSA MAYER: I mean, releasing classified information is treason.

MICHAEL ARRINGTON: And then what happens?

MARISSA MAYER: Just generally, and you—you know, incarcerated.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Marissa Mayer. She is the head of Yahoo. Alex Abdo?

ALEX ABDO: You know, Ms. Mayer is correct that there are extraordinary limits on what these companies can say, but it’s not correct to say that they can’t be doing more to protect the privacy of their users. There are a number of steps that these companies can take and should take, and Yahoo recently took one of those steps in joining Google and Microsoft in pushing the secret court in D.C. to allow them to say more about the government surveillance. Those companies want to be able to tell the public how many Americans are affected by the government’s surveillance, the numbers of court orders they get to turn over this information, and, very generally, the type of information they’re being asked to turn over. That’s all information that the government should allow these companies to disclose. It would allow Americans to better understand the surveillance that’s taking place in our name, and it would allow us to make a decision for ourselves whether the surveillance is lawful and whether it’s necessary.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Not only that, but I think there is a—as I’ve said before on this show, there is a conflict between the economic needs of these companies, because they’re all global companies, and no matter what happens in the United States, this is going to affect their businesses in other parts of the world as more and more countries decide you can’t trust American technology companies to use their search engines or use their products if they are allowing the government to serveil not only American citizens, but people around the world, so that it seems to me there’s a need to meet the needs of their own shareholders, the business interests of the company, to oppose these kind of government policies.

ALEX ABDO: I think that’s right. We’re putting our American companies at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to their business. They’re being forced to compete with companies outside the U.S. that aren’t receiving these NSA surveillance orders. But it’s important to note, too, that these companies can do more to protect the privacy of their consumers, even when they are not allowed to talk about the surveillance of the NSA. They can put in place technological fixes that allow users to trust their services more. And we’re starting to see that type of a response by the tech industry. They’re starting to compete over privacy. One of Microsoft’s—for example, its new campaigns is “Don’t get Scroogled.” It’s their way of competing against Google’s skimming of our emails for ad tracking. And as Americans, I think, come to appreciate the value of our privacy and the vastness of the information we trust with these companies, they’ll come to demand greater assurances from the Googles and the Microsofts and the Yahoos.

AMY GOODMAN: We want to thank you very much for being with us, and just end with what surprised you most by all of these revelations that have come out from Ed Snowden. I mean, the president says this debate has—would have happened anyway. You’re a longtime—and certainly the ACLU has been deeply concerned about civil liberties issues. Would it have happened anyway? And what have you found most shocking in the last few months?

ALEX ABDO: I don’t think this transparency would have happened. This is an involuntary debate that the administration is now welcoming after the fact, and it’s a long overdue one. And one of the things that has shocked me the most, I think, is, in reading these documents, to see how much information is kept secret that should never have been kept secret in the first place. Americans deserve to be a part of this conversation, but they’re being kept out of it by unnecessary overclassification of this information.

AMY GOODMAN: Thanks so much, Alex Abdo, staff attorney at the National Security Project of the American Civil Liberties Union. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. Back in a minute.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Find this story at 12 September 2013

The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.

NSA shares raw intelligence including Americans’ data with Israel

The agreement for the US to provide raw intelligence data to Israel was reached in principle in March 2009, the document shows. Photograph: James Emery

The National Security Agency routinely shares raw intelligence data with Israel without first sifting it to remove information about US citizens, a top-secret document provided to the Guardian by whistleblower Edward Snowden reveals.

Details of the intelligence-sharing agreement are laid out in a memorandum of understanding between the NSA and its Israeli counterpart that shows the US government handed over intercepted communications likely to contain phone calls and emails of American citizens. The agreement places no legally binding limits on the use of the data by the Israelis.

The disclosure that the NSA agreed to provide raw intelligence data to a foreign country contrasts with assurances from the Obama administration that there are rigorous safeguards to protect the privacy of US citizens caught in the dragnet. The intelligence community calls this process “minimization”, but the memorandum makes clear that the information shared with the Israelis would be in its pre-minimized state.

The deal was reached in principle in March 2009, according to the undated memorandum, which lays out the ground rules for the intelligence sharing.

The five-page memorandum, termed an agreement between the US and Israeli intelligence agencies “pertaining to the protection of US persons”, repeatedly stresses the constitutional rights of Americans to privacy and the need for Israeli intelligence staff to respect these rights.

But this is undermined by the disclosure that Israel is allowed to receive “raw Sigint” – signal intelligence. The memorandum says: “Raw Sigint includes, but is not limited to, unevaluated and unminimized transcripts, gists, facsimiles, telex, voice and Digital Network Intelligence metadata and content.”

According to the agreement, the intelligence being shared would not be filtered in advance by NSA analysts to remove US communications. “NSA routinely sends ISNU [the Israeli Sigint National Unit] minimized and unminimized raw collection”, it says.

Although the memorandum is explicit in saying the material had to be handled in accordance with US law, and that the Israelis agreed not to deliberately target Americans identified in the data, these rules are not backed up by legal obligations.

“This agreement is not intended to create any legally enforceable rights and shall not be construed to be either an international agreement or a legally binding instrument according to international law,” the document says.

In a statement to the Guardian, an NSA spokesperson did not deny that personal data about Americans was included in raw intelligence data shared with the Israelis. But the agency insisted that the shared intelligence complied with all rules governing privacy.

“Any US person information that is acquired as a result of NSA’s surveillance activities is handled under procedures that are designed to protect privacy rights,” the spokesperson said.

The NSA declined to answer specific questions about the agreement, including whether permission had been sought from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (Fisa) court for handing over such material.

The memorandum of understanding, which the Guardian is publishing in full, allows Israel to retain “any files containing the identities of US persons” for up to a year. The agreement requests only that the Israelis should consult the NSA’s special liaison adviser when such data is found.

Notably, a much stricter rule was set for US government communications found in the raw intelligence. The Israelis were required to “destroy upon recognition” any communication “that is either to or from an official of the US government”. Such communications included those of “officials of the executive branch (including the White House, cabinet departments, and independent agencies), the US House of Representatives and Senate (member and staff) and the US federal court system (including, but not limited to, the supreme court)”.

It is not clear whether any communications involving members of US Congress or the federal courts have been included in the raw data provided by the NSA, nor is it clear how or why the NSA would be in possession of such communications. In 2009, however, the New York Times reported on “the agency’s attempt to wiretap a member of Congress, without court approval, on an overseas trip”.

The NSA is required by law to target only non-US persons without an individual warrant, but it can collect the content and metadata of Americans’ emails and calls without a warrant when such communication is with a foreign target. US persons are defined in surveillance legislation as US citizens, permanent residents and anyone located on US soil at the time of the interception, unless it has been positively established that they are not a citizen or permanent resident.

Moreover, with much of the world’s internet traffic passing through US networks, large numbers of purely domestic communications also get scooped up incidentally by the agency’s surveillance programs.

The document mentions only one check carried out by the NSA on the raw intelligence, saying the agency will “regularly review a sample of files transferred to ISNU to validate the absence of US persons’ identities”. It also requests that the Israelis limit access only to personnel with a “strict need to know”.

Israeli intelligence is allowed “to disseminate foreign intelligence information concerning US persons derived from raw Sigint by NSA” on condition that it does so “in a manner that does not identify the US person”. The agreement also allows Israel to release US person identities to “outside parties, including all INSU customers” with the NSA’s written permission.

Although Israel is one of America’s closest allies, it is not one of the inner core of countries involved in surveillance sharing with the US – Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. This group is collectively known as Five Eyes.

The relationship between the US and Israel has been strained at times, both diplomatically and in terms of intelligence. In the top-secret 2013 intelligence community budget request, details of which were disclosed by the Washington Post, Israel is identified alongside Iran and China as a target for US cyberattacks.

While NSA documents tout the mutually beneficial relationship of Sigint sharing, another report, marked top secret and dated September 2007, states that the relationship, while central to US strategy, has become overwhelmingly one-sided in favor of Israel.

“Balancing the Sigint exchange equally between US and Israeli needs has been a constant challenge,” states the report, titled ‘History of the US – Israel Sigint Relationship, Post-1992′. “In the last decade, it arguably tilted heavily in favor of Israeli security concerns. 9/11 came, and went, with NSA’s only true Third Party [counter-terrorism] relationship being driven almost totally by the needs of the partner.”

In another top-secret document seen by the Guardian, dated 2008, a senior NSA official points out that Israel aggressively spies on the US. “On the one hand, the Israelis are extraordinarily good Sigint partners for us, but on the other, they target us to learn our positions on Middle East problems,” the official says. “A NIE [National Intelligence Estimate] ranked them as the third most aggressive intelligence service against the US.”

Later in the document, the official is quoted as saying: “One of NSA’s biggest threats is actually from friendly intelligence services, like Israel. There are parameters on what NSA shares with them, but the exchange is so robust, we sometimes share more than we intended.”

The memorandum of understanding also contains hints that there had been tensions in the intelligence-sharing relationship with Israel. At a meeting in March 2009 between the two agencies, according to the document, it was agreed that the sharing of raw data required a new framework and further training for Israeli personnel to protect US person information.

It is not clear whether or not this was because there had been problems up to that point in the handling of intelligence that was found to contain Americans’ data.

However, an earlier US document obtained by Snowden, which discusses co-operating on a military intelligence program, bluntly lists under the cons: “Trust issues which revolve around previous ISR [Israel] operations.”

The Guardian asked the Obama administration how many times US data had been found in the raw intelligence, either by the Israelis or when the NSA reviewed a sample of the files, but officials declined to provide this information. Nor would they disclose how many other countries the NSA shared raw data with, or whether the Fisa court, which is meant to oversee NSA surveillance programs and the procedures to handle US information, had signed off the agreement with Israel.

In its statement, the NSA said: “We are not going to comment on any specific information sharing arrangements, or the authority under which any such information is collected. The fact that intelligence services work together under specific and regulated conditions mutually strengthens the security of both nations.

“NSA cannot, however, use these relationships to circumvent US legal restrictions. Whenever we share intelligence information, we comply with all applicable rules, including the rules to protect US person information.”

Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Ewen MacAskill
The Guardian, Wednesday 11 September 2013 15.40 BST

Find this story at 11 September 2013
Read the NSA and Israel’s ‘memorandum of understanding’

© 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

US-Geheimdienst: BND übermittelt afghanische Funkzellendaten an NSA

Die Daten können Experten zufolge Hinweise für gezielte Tötungen liefern: Nach SPIEGEL-Informationen stammt ein beträchtlicher Teil der an die NSA übertragenen Daten aus der Funkzellenauswertung in Afghanistan. Der BND wiegelt ab.

Hamburg – Der Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) übermittelt nach SPIEGEL-Informationen afghanische Funkzellendaten an den US-Geheimdienst NSA. Spionageprogramme wie XKeyscore erstellen daraus Bewegungsprofile. Sie zeigen mit nur wenigen Minuten Verzögerung an, wo sich Handy-Nutzer aufhalten – und spielten womöglich eine wichtige Rolle bei der gezielten Tötung von Qaida-Kämpfern durch US-Drohnen.

Der BND erklärte, Mobilfunkdaten seien für eine zielgenaue Lokalisierung eines Menschen nicht geeignet. Experten gehen aber davon aus, dass Funkzellendaten Hinweise für gezielte Tötungen liefern können. Auch die “Süddeutsche Zeitung” hatte am Samstag einen Experten zitiert, wonach die Daten des BND zur Ortung nützlich seien.

Der Bürgerrechtler Burkhard Hirsch (FDP) hält den Datentransfer, der offenbar jenseits der parlamentarischen Kontrolle stattfindet, für sehr problematisch. “Wenn der BND in solchem Umfang für einen anderen Geheimdienst tätig wird, dann ist das ein politischer Vorgang, der unter allen Umständen im zuständigen Bundestagsgremium hätte behandelt werden müssen”, sagte Hirsch dem SPIEGEL.

BND-Präsident Gerhard Schindler sagte der “Bild am Sonntag”, die Kooperation mit der NSA diene “auch dem unmittelbaren Schutz unserer in Afghanistan eingesetzten Soldatinnen und Soldaten”. Die durch die Fernmeldeaufklärung gewonnenen Erkenntnisse trügen dazu bei, Anschlagsplanungen von Terroristen rechtzeitig erkennen zu können. Dies gehöre zu den “prioritären Aufgaben” eines Auslandsnachrichtendiensts.

Gegenüber dem SPIEGEL erklärte der BND, er habe seit Januar 2011 “maßgebliche Hilfe” bei der Verhinderung von vier Anschlägen auf deutsche Soldaten in Afghanistan geleistet. Bei weiteren 15 verhinderten Anschlägen habe die Datenüberwachung “zu diesen Erfolgen beigetragen”.

11. August 2013, 14:12 Uhr

Find this story at 11 August 2013

© SPIEGEL ONLINE 2013

Berlin Denies Military Knew About Prism

A media report on Wednesday alleged that a NATO document proves the German military knew about the NSA’s Prism surveillance program in 2011. But both Berlin and the country’s foreign intelligence agency deny the account, saying there was a NATO program with the same name in Afghanistan.

The German government has so far claimed that it knew nothing of the United States’ Prism spying program, revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden last month. But parts of a confidential NATO document published by daily Bild on Wednesday show that the German military, the Bundeswehr, may have already been aware of the National Security Agency’s operations in 2011, the paper alleged.

The document, reportedly sent on Sept. 1, 2011 to all regional commands by the joint NATO headquarters in Afghanistan, gives specific instructions for working together on a program called Prism, which the paper said was the same as that run by the NSA. According to Bild, the document was also sent to the regional command in northern Afghanistan, for which Germany was responsible at the time under General Major Markus Kneip.

Should the media report be confirmed, Berlin’s claims of ignorance will prove to have been false. But on Wednesday afternoon, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert denied the Bild story, saying that the document referred to a separate program that had been run by NATO troops, and not the US. The programs were “not identical,” he said.

The BND, Germany’s foreign intelligence agency, also weighed in with a statement, saying that the program had not been confidential and was also not the same as the NSA’s Prism operation. “The program called Prism by the Bild report today is a NATO/ISAF program that is not identical to the NSA’s program,” it said. “The BND had no knowledge of the name, range or scope of the NSA program.”

A Separate Prism Program?

According to the document cited by Bild, as of Sept. 15 that year, regional commands were instructed to apply for monitoring telephone calls and e-mails, according to the document, in which Prism is named at least three times. “Existing COMINT (communications intelligence) nominations submitted outside of PRISM must be resubmitted into PRISM IOT,” it reads.

It also states that access to the Prism program is regulated by the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System (JWICS), which is used by various US intelligence services to transmit classified information.

“Coalition RCs (regional commands) will utilize the US military or civilian personnel assigned to their collection management shop ISRLO (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Liaison Officer),” it goes on. In Bild’s assessment, “military or civilian personnel” stands for US intelligence service staff.

Keeping Track of Terrorists

The purpose of all this was to “submit the telephone numbers and email addresses of terrorists into the surveillance system,” the paper reports.

It also claims to have seen documents indicating that the BND, Germany’s foreign intelligence agency, provided such telephone numbers to NATO, where they were ultimately fed into the surveillance system as well.

The reason for the NATO order was that the NSA’s director had tasked the US military with coordinating surveillance in Afghanistan, Bild reported.

The German Defense Ministry told the paper that it had “no information and knowledge of such an order,” but would be looking into the matter.

In response to the report, Green party parliamentarian and defense spokesman Omid Nouripour told SPIEGEL ONLINE that Defense Minister Thomas de Maizière must clarify the situation. “These circumstances destroy the government’s line of defense” on the NSA scandal, he said. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right coalition can “no longer claim it didn’t know anything about Prism.”

As more details emerge about the scope of the NSA’s worldwide spying program and Germany’s alleged role in the surveillance, the scandal is becoming a central issue in the country’s campaign for the upcoming general election. Germans are particularly sensitive about data protection because of their history of state encroachment on civil liberties, first under the Nazis and then in communist East Germany. And if it turns out that Berlin knowingly tolerated and participated in the NSA activities, many would see it as a betrayal by the government.

07/17/2013 12:29 PM
Media Report

Find this story at 17 July 2013

© SPIEGEL ONLINE 2013

Germany backs away from claims NSA program thwarted five attacks

German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich is backing off his earlier assertion that the Obama administration’s NSA monitoring of Internet accounts had prevented five terror attacks in Germany, raising questions about other claims concerning the value of the massive monitoring programs revealed by NSA leaker Edward Snowden.

Friedrich had made the assertion about the number of attacks that the NSA programs – which scoop up records from cellphone and Internet accounts – had helped to avert after a brief visit to the United States last week. But on Tuesday, he told a German parliamentary panel, “It is relatively difficult to count the number of terror attacks that didn’t occur.” And on Wednesday, he was publically referring to just two foiled attacks, at least one and possibly both of which appeared to have little to do with the NSA’s surveillance programs.

The questions about the programs’ value in thwarting attacks in Germany come as some members of the U.S. Congress have told Obama officials that the programs exceeded what Congress authorized when it passed laws that the administration is arguing allowed the collection of vast amounts of information on cellphone and Internet email accounts.

In Germany, the concern is that the NSA is capturing and storing as many as 500 million electronic communications each month, but Germans are getting little if anything back for what is seen as an immoral and illegal invasion of privacy.

Friedrich spent July 11-12 in the United States for meetings with U.S. officials on the NSA programs that German Chancellor Angela Merkel had requested. The point of the meetings was to gather information that would calm a building German angst over the spy scandal.

Instead of being reassured, however, opposition politicians and commentators now are talking about the arrogance of the U.S. application of “winner’s power” (a reference to the political authority the United States had here during the Cold War, when Germany was divided between east and west, and West Germany leaned heavily on America for support), and how traditionally strong relations between the two countries have been harmed by the scandal.

“German-American relations are at risk,” said Hans-Christian Stroebele, a Green Party member of the influential German intelligence oversight committee in the country’s legislature, the Bundestag, which is dominated by Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union. “The longer it takes to uncover the facts after this long silence, the more problematic it becomes. No one even bothers to deny what’s been said. It could be that German or (European Union) courts will have to deal with this.”

Even as emotions build, NSA plans for expanding a listening station in Germany were revealed this week, raising more questions.

Stroebele spoke Thursday to McClatchy, addressing Friedrich’s official report, delivered behind closed doors to the Bundestag committee. He said Friedrich received little information from the United States in his quick trip to Washington.

“We’re lucky to have had Snowden,” Stroebele said. “Without him, this surveillance that is not permissible under international law would have continued for a long time. In Germany, there are prison terms for such spying.”

Perhaps most troubling was how quickly the government backed down on the claims that the surveillance helped foil terror plots. Gisela Piltz, a Liberal Party member of the Bundestag intelligence committee, said she could not give exact details of what took place in the secret hearing but noted: “There was a clear discrepancy between the previously reported number of foiled terror attacks and the number we talked about.”

And even those cases raised questions. One of them, commonly known as the Sauerland Cell Plot, involved an alleged conspiracy in 2007 to detonate a series of car bombs in crowded places. Piltz was involved in a Bundestag study of what took place. The goal of the would-be bombers was to surpass the death and injured toll from commuter train attacks in Madrid in 2004, which killed 191 and wounded another 1,800.

The conspirators, who allegedly included two Germans, had gathered nearly a ton of liquid explosives.

News reports at the time mentioned an unnamed U.S. intelligence official saying that cellphone calls by the two Germans had been intercepted. But those calls were said to have been made when the Germans were leaving a terror camp in Pakistan – an entirely different scenario from the current monitoring program, which captures data from everyday citizens by casting a worldwide net.

Piltz said even that participation by U.S. intelligence agencies remains unverified.

The other case, involving four men with al Qaida connections arrested in Dusseldorf while allegedly preparing to make a shrapnel bomb to detonate at an undecided location, also raised questions about NSA involvement. During the trial, prosecutors said they were alerted to the cell by an informant, after which they studied emails from the four. But such targeted surveillance is not the issue in the NSA programs, one of which, PRISM, reportedly taps into the computers of users of nine Internet companies, including Facebook, Google and Yahoo.

Defending NSA practices, Friedrich noted that security is a “super fundamental right.” As such it outranks fundamental rights such as privacy. German newspapers were scathing in their assessment, calling Friedrich the “idiot in charge.”

Piltz said that while terrorism is a real threat, the U.S. monitoring programs have done little to prevent it.

“Germans are not safer because of U.S. espionage,” Piltz said. “It is true Germany has been lucky not to have suffered a terror attack, but there has to be a balance. We cannot sacrifice freedom for security, and when in doubt I would always opt for freedom.”

McClatchy special correspondent Claudia Himmelreich in Berlin contributed to this report.

McClatchy Washington Bureau
Posted on Thu, Jul. 18, 2013
By Matthew Schofield | McClatchy Foreign Staff

last updated: July 18, 2013 05:30:07 PM
BERLIN — ]

Find this story at 18 July 2013

© McClatchy Washington Bureau

Second Prism program emerges as Friedrich faces committee

As Germany’s interior minister faced a special select committee, another surveillance program – also called Prism – has come to light. Unlike its more famous global namesake, this Prism is said to be used in Afghanistan.

German mass-circulation daily Bild first found reference to the Afghanistan Prism program in an order sent out to regional command posts from the NATO headquarters in Kabul.

The communiqué told ISAF staff to use this Prism database for any data gleaned from monitoring telecommunications or emails, starting on September 15, 2011.

The German government said it knew nothing about the database, run by the US but accessible to ISAF troops across Afghanistan – including those with Germany’s Bundeswehr – until Wednesday’s report.

“I can only tell you that this was a NATO/ISAF program, one that was not classified as secret – according to the BND,” Chancellor Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said. Seibert was referring to a press release from Germany’s equivalent to Washington’s National Security Agency (NSA), the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND). The BND also said this Prism was “not identical” to the now renowned program revealed by NSA contractor turned whistleblower Edward Snowden in May.
DW.DE
Itching to ask: What does Merkel know about NSA surveillance?

A parliamentary oversight committee in Berlin would like to know how much the German government really knows about NSA spying activities in Germany. Their leverage, however, is limited. (17.07.2013)

Another ministerial spokesman, Stefan Paris with the defense ministry, said it was quite normal for information like this not to filter back to Berlin unless there was a specific need.

Friedrich faces closed-door grilling

Elsewhere in Berlin, Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich completed two days in front of the special committee for internal affairs on Wednesday, facing further questions after his impromptu visit to Washington at the weekend.

Opposition politicians, who see increasing mileage in the alleged NSA espionage activities, said after the session that Friedrich’s appearance shed little light on proceedings.

“Everywhere people seem to accept the way the US side is acting with a shrug of the shoulders, while there’s no clarity anywhere,” Social Democrat parliamentarian Michael Hartmann said, adding that he felt the chancellor’s office should be answering questions instead of the interior ministry.

“My personal impression: Before September 22, nothing is meant to be put on the table here,” Green party politician Wolfgang Wieland said, naming the date of federal elections in Germany.

Friedrich has so far stressed the NSA’s supposed contribution to stopping five terror plots in Germany, offering data on two of them to date, when discussing the issue. The minister controversially said on Monday that there was a “super-fundamental right” to protecting public safety that trumped even privacy laws.

British blow to EU data dreams?

Free Democrat politician Hartfried Wolff, a member of the Bundestag’s interior committee, said on Wednesday that Friedrich had outlined one blow to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s proposed response.

Merkel said in a key television interview on Sunday that she would be seeking unified EU rules on data protection to allow the bloc to handle the issue better.

According to Wolff, Friedrich said that the UK was unlikely to support such a move. Since Snowden went public, a UK espionage program called “Tempora” has also come to light.

Friedrich is a member of the Bavarian sister party of Merkel’s Christian Democrats, the CSU. Bavaria votes in state elections one week before the German ballot.

msh/rc (AFP, AP, Reuters)
Date 17.07.2013

Find this story at 717 July 2013

© 2013 Deutsche Welle

Prism in Afghanistan Conflicting Accounts By German Government

In Germany, the scandal surrounding NSA spying is getting odder by the day. A new Defense Ministry memo suggests a claim made by a mass-circulation newspaper that Germany’s army knew about Prism in 2011 is, in fact, true.

The scandal in Germany surrounding spying activities by the United States’ National Security Agency took a surprising twist on Thursday. A report by a German mass-circulation daily that described the use of a program called Prism in NATO-occupied Afghanistan has led to the German Defense Ministry contradicting the foreign intelligence agency BND.

It started on Wednesday when the broadsheet Bild reported that the American intelligence service NSA had deployed the controversial data-collection tool Prism in Afghanistan and that Germany’s armed forces, the Bundeswehr, knew of the program by the autumn of 2011 at the latest.

German government spokesman Steffen Seibert, speaking on behalf of the BND, was quick to deny the Bild report. He said on Wednesday that the software which had been used in Afghanistan was part of “a NATO/ISAF program and was not the same as the NSA’s Prism program.” Seibert said the programs were “not identical.” According to Seibert’s account, there are two different Prism programs — the much discussed NSA Prism program, which has been used in recent years to intensively monitor German communications, as well as an ISAF program for Afghanistan.

But the Defense Ministry is now contradicting that characterization. In a two-page memo obtained by several German media outlets, Rüdiger Wolf, a high-ranking ministry official, states that the Prism program used in Afghanistan is a “computer-aided US planning and information analysis tool” used for the coordination of “American intelligence systems,” that is “operated exclusively by US personnel” and is “used Afghanistan-wide by the US side.”

Prism Accessible Exclusively to Americans

Wolf describes in detail how the Bundeswehr and NATO have no access to the US program. He adds that while there may be computer terminals at the German base in Mazar-e-Sharif that are equipped to access the program, they can only be used by Americans.

If members of the Bundeswehr wanted access to information, they had to send a special form to the IJC command center in Kabul, almost entirely controlled by the US Army — that is, if they wanted US data that went beyond the information possessed by NATO intelligence. When they got the data back, “the origin of the information” was “fundamentally unrecognizable” to the Germans.

It is precisely such procedures that Bild reported on this week, citing a classified September NATO order. In the paper, NATO members, including the German-led Regional Command North in Afghanistan, are called upon to direct requests for the “Prism” system to American personnel — military or civilian (which in this case is a reference to intelligence workers) because NATO has no access to the system. Given that Bild printed a copy of the order in its newspaper, the BND’s portrayal already seemed odd on Wednesday.

According to Wolf’s own admissions, the Germans don’t know very much about the Prism program in Afghanistan. It is unclear, for example, how Prism is deployed at the US Army-dominated headquarters in Kabul and the ministry doesn’t know the “extent of use.” However, Wolf once more reiterated that all information obtained from intelligence sources served to protect German soldiers — including “insights provided by the US side that could have come from Prism.”

A Slap in the Face

The Defense Ministry is also very cautious compared to the BND when it comes to deferentiating the Prism program in Afghanistan from the Prism spying program that was exposed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and involves the systematic monitoring of German communications. The information supplied by the US would have pertained only to the situation in Afghanistan. It was “not a data fishing expedition” on German citizens, according to the memo, and in fact had “no proximity” to the NSA surveillance program in Germany and Europe.

With his cautious formulation, Wolf deliberately avoids saying whether or not the two programs are identical.

This representation of the facts, which was already made to some extent on Wednesday by Defense Ministry spokesman Stefan Paris, is like a slap in the face for the BND. Shortly after Seibert appeared at the press conference, insiders wondered why the intelligence agency would so unambiguously commit itself to the position that the Prism program in Afghanistan is part of the composite ISAF system. But the BND didn’t pull back on its position, although Paris clearly said that the Prism program in Afghanistan is operated exclusively by Americans.

Members of the opposition were quick to attack the BND for its assertions. “The Chancellery, acting on behalf of the BND, deliberately lied to the public on Wednesday,” Green Party defense expert Omid Nouripour told SPIEGEL ONLINE. According to Nouripour, Wolf’s description makes it clear that there is no NATO Prism program. The German government, he says, should stop making excuses and finally begin to seriously investigate the spying scandal.

07/18/2013 09:26 PM

By Matthias Gebauer

Find this story at 18 July 2013

© SPIEGEL ONLINE 2013

Other Agencies Clamor for Data N.S.A. Compiles

WASHINGTON — The National Security Agency’s dominant role as the nation’s spy warehouse has spurred frequent tensions and turf fights with other federal intelligence agencies that want to use its surveillance tools for their own investigations, officials say.

Agencies working to curb drug trafficking, cyberattacks, money laundering, counterfeiting and even copyright infringement complain that their attempts to exploit the security agency’s vast resources have often been turned down because their own investigations are not considered a high enough priority, current and former government officials say.

Intelligence officials say they have been careful to limit the use of the security agency’s troves of data and eavesdropping spyware for fear they could be misused in ways that violate Americans’ privacy rights.

The recent disclosures of agency activities by its former contractor Edward J. Snowden have led to widespread criticism that its surveillance operations go too far and have prompted lawmakers in Washington to talk of reining them in. But out of public view, the intelligence community has been agitated in recent years for the opposite reason: frustrated officials outside the security agency say the spy tools are not used widely enough.

“It’s a very common complaint about N.S.A.,” said Timothy H. Edgar, a former senior intelligence official at the White House and at the office of the director of national intelligence. “They collect all this information, but it’s difficult for the other agencies to get access to what they want.”

“The other agencies feel they should be bigger players,” said Mr. Edgar, who heard many of the disputes before leaving government this year to become a visiting fellow at Brown University. “They view the N.S.A. — incorrectly, I think — as this big pot of data that they could go get if they were just able to pry it out of them.”

Smaller intelligence units within the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Secret Service, the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security have sometimes been given access to the security agency’s surveillance tools for particular cases, intelligence officials say.

But more often, their requests have been rejected because the links to terrorism or foreign intelligence, usually required by law or policy, are considered tenuous. Officials at some agencies see another motive — protecting the security agency’s turf — and have grown resentful over what they see as a second-tier status that has undermined their own investigations into security matters.

At the drug agency, for example, officials complained that they were blocked from using the security agency’s surveillance tools for several drug-trafficking cases in Latin America, which they said might be connected to financing terrorist groups in the Middle East and elsewhere.

At the Homeland Security Department, officials have repeatedly sought to use the security agency’s Internet and telephone databases and other resources to trace cyberattacks on American targets that are believed to have stemmed from China, Russia and Eastern Europe, according to officials. They have often been rebuffed.

Officials at the other agencies, speaking only on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the tensions, say the National Security Agency’s reluctance to allow access to data has been particularly frustrating because of post-Sept. 11 measures that were intended to encourage information-sharing among federal agencies.

In fact, a change made in 2008 in the executive order governing intelligence was intended to make it easier for the security agency to share surveillance information with other agencies if it was considered “relevant” to their own investigations. It has often been left to the national intelligence director’s office to referee the frequent disputes over how and when the security agency’s spy tools can be used. The director’s office declined to comment for this article.

Typically, the agencies request that the N.S.A. target individuals or groups for surveillance, search its databases for information about them, or share raw intelligence, rather than edited summaries, with them. If those under scrutiny are Americans, approval from the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court is required.

The security agency, whose mission is to spy overseas, and the F.B.I., its main partner in surveillance operations, dominate the process as the Justice Department’s main “customers” in seeking warrants from the intelligence court, with nearly 1,800 approved by the court last year.

In a statement, the security agency said that it “works closely with all intelligence community partners, and embeds liaison officers and other personnel at those agencies for the express purpose of ensuring N.S.A. is meeting their requirements and providing support to their missions.”

The security agency’s spy tools are attractive to other agencies for many reasons. Unlike traditional, narrowly tailored search warrants, those granted by the intelligence court often allow searches through records and data that are vast in scope. The standard of evidence needed to acquire them may be lower than in other courts, and the government may not be required to disclose for years, if ever, that someone was the focus of secret surveillance operations.

Decisions on using the security agency’s powers rest on many complicated variables, including a link to terrorism or “foreign intelligence,” the type of surveillance or data collection that is being conducted, the involvement of American targets, and the priority of the issue.

“Every agency wants to think that their mission has to be the highest priority,” said a former senior White House intelligence official involved in recent turf issues.

Other intelligence shops usually have quick access to N.S.A. tools and data on pressing matters of national security, like investigating a terrorism threat, planning battlefield operations or providing security for a presidential trip, officials say. But the conflicts arise during longer-term investigations with unclear foreign connections.

In pressing for greater access, a number of smaller agencies maintain that their cases involve legitimate national security threats and could be helped significantly by the N.S.A.’s ability to trace e-mails and Internet activity or other tools.

Drug agency officials, for instance, have sought a higher place for global drug trafficking on the intelligence community’s classified list of surveillance priorities, according to two officials.

Dawn Dearden, a drug agency spokeswoman, said it was comfortable allowing the N.S.A. and the F.B.I. to take the lead in seeking surveillance warrants. “We don’t have the authority, and we don’t want it, and that comes from the top down,” she said.

But privately, intelligence officials at the drug agency and elsewhere have complained that they feel shut out of the process by the N.S.A. and the F.B.I. from start to finish, with little input on what groups are targeted with surveillance and only sporadic access to the classified material that is ultimately collected.

Sometimes, security agency and bureau officials accuse the smaller agencies of exaggerating links to national security threats in their own cases when pushing for access to the security agency’s surveillance capabilities. Officials from the other agencies say that if a link to national security is considered legitimate, the F.B.I. will at times simply take over the case itself and work it with the N.S.A.

In one such case, the bureau took control of a Secret Service investigation after a hacker was linked to a foreign government, one law enforcement official said. Similarly, the bureau became more interested in investigating smuggled cigarettes as a means of financing terrorist groups after the case was developed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Mr. Edgar said officials in the national intelligence director’s office occasionally allow other agencies a role in identifying surveillance targets and seeing the results when it is relevant to their own inquiries. But more often, he acknowledged, the office has come down on the side of keeping the process held to an “exclusive club” at the N.S.A., the F.B.I. and the Justice Department, with help from the Central Intelligence Agency on foreign issues.

Officials in the national intelligence director’s office worry about opening the surveillance too widely beyond the security agency and the F.B.I. for fear of abuse, Mr. Edgar said. The two intelligence giants have been “burned” by past wiretapping controversies and know the political consequences if they venture too far afield, he added.

“I would have been very uncomfortable if we had let these other agencies get access to the raw N.S.A. data,” he said.

As furious as the public criticism of the security agency’s programs has been in the two months since Mr. Snowden’s disclosures, “it could have been much, much worse, if we had let these other agencies loose and we had real abuses,” Mr. Edgar said. “That was the nightmare scenario we were worried about, and that hasn’t happened.”

Eric Schmitt contributed reporting.

August 3, 2013
By ERIC LICHTBLAU and MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT

Find this story at 3 August 2013

© 2013 The New York Times Company

For Western Allies, a Long History of Swapping Intelligence

BERLIN — When Edward J. Snowden disclosed the extent of the United States data mining operations in Germany, monitoring as many as 60 million of the country’s telephone and Internet connections in one day and bugging its embassy, politicians here, like others in Europe, were by turns appalled and indignant. But like the French before them, this week they found themselves backpedaling.

In an interview released this week Mr. Snowden said that Germany’s intelligence services are “in bed” with the National Security Agency, “the same as with most other Western countries.” The assertion has added to fresh scrutiny in the European news media of Berlin and other European governments that may have benefited from the enormous American snooping program known as Prism, or conducted wide-ranging surveillance operations of their own.

The outrage of European leaders notwithstanding, intelligence experts and historians say the most recent disclosures reflect the complicated nature of the relationship between the intelligence services of the United States and its allies, which have long quietly swapped information on each others’ citizens.

“The other services don’t ask us where our information is from and we don’t ask them,” Mr. Snowden said in the interview, conducted by the documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras and Jacob Appelbaum, a computer security researcher, and published this week in the German magazine Der Spiegel. “This way they can protect their political leaders from backlash, if it should become public how massively the private spheres of people around the globe are being violated.”

Britain, which has the closest intelligence relationship with the United States of any European country, has been implicated in several of the data operations described by Mr. Snowden, including claims that Britain’s agencies had access to the Prism computer network, which monitors data from a range of American Internet companies. Such sharing would have allowed British intelligence agencies to sidestep British legal restrictions on electronic snooping. Prime Minister David Cameron has insisted that its intelligence services operate within the law.

Another allegation, reported by The Guardian newspaper, is that the Government Communications Headquarters, the British surveillance center, tapped fiber-optic cables carrying international telephone and Internet traffic, then shared the information with the N.S.A. This program, known as Tempora, involved attaching intercept probes to trans-Atlantic cables when they land on British shores from North America, the report said.

President François Hollande of France was among the first European leaders to express outrage at the revelations of American spying, and especially at accusations that the Americans had spied on French diplomatic posts in Washington and New York.

There is no evidence to date that French intelligence services were granted access to information from the N.S.A., Le Monde reported last week, however, that France’s external intelligence agency maintains a broad telecommunications data collection system of its own, amassing metadata on most, if not all, telephone calls, e-mails and Internet activity coming in and out of France.

Mr. Hollande and other officials have been notably less vocal regarding the claims advanced by Le Monde, which authorities in France have neither confirmed nor denied.

Given their bad experiences with domestic spying, first under the Nazis and then the former the East German secret police, Germans are touchy when it comes to issues of personal privacy and protection of their personal data. Guarantees ensuring the privacy of mail and all forms of long-distance communications are enshrined in Article 10 of their Constitution.

When the extent of the American spying in Germany came to light the chancellor’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, decried such behavior as “unacceptable,” insisting that, “We are no longer in the cold war.”

But experts say ties between the intelligence services remain rooted in agreements stemming from that era, when West Germany depended on the United States to protect it from the former Soviet Union and its allies in the East.

“Of course the German government is very deeply entwined with the American intelligence services,” said Josef Foschepoth, a German historian from Freiburg University. Mr. Foschepoth spent several years combing through Germany’s federal archives, including formerly classified documents from the 1950s and 1960s, in an effort to uncover the roots of the trans-Atlantic cooperation.

In 1965, Germany’s foreign intelligence service, known by the initials BND, was created. Three years later, the West Germans signed a cooperation agreement effectively binding the Germans to an intensive exchange of information that continues up to the present day, despite changes to the agreements.

The attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, in the United States saw a fresh commitment by the Germans to cooperate with the Americans in the global war against terror. Using technology developed by the Americans and used by the N.S.A., the BND monitors networks from the Middle East, filtering the information before sending it to Washington, said Erich Schmidt-Eenboom, an expert on secret services who runs the Research Institute for Peace Politics in Bavaria.

In exchange, Washington shares intelligence with Germany that authorities here say has been essential to preventing terror attacks similar to those in Madrid or London. It is a matter of pride among German authorities that they have been able to swoop in and detain suspects, preventing several plots from being carried out.

By focusing the current public debate in Germany on the issue of personal data, experts say Chancellor Angela Merkel is able to steer clear of the stickier questions about Germany’s own surveillance programs and a long history of intelligence sharing with the United States, which still makes many Germans deeply uncomfortable, more than two decades after the end of the cold war.

“Every postwar German government, at some point, has been confronted with this problem,” Mr. Foschepoth said of the surveillance scandal. “The way that the chancellor is handling it shows that she knows very well, she is very well informed and she wants the issue to fade away.”

Reporting contributed by Stephen Castle from London, Scott Sayare from Paris and Eric Schmitt from Washington.

July 9, 2013
By MELISSA EDDY

Find this story at 9 July 2013

© 2013 The New York Times Company

Spy access to NZ used as bargaining tool

The Southern Cross Cable Network links Australia, New Zealand and the United States.

The ability for US intelligence agencies to access internet data was used as a bargaining tool by a Telecom-owned company trying to keep down the cost of the undersea cable from New Zealand.

Lawyers acting for Southern Cross Cable quoted a former CIA and NSA director who urged the Senate to “exploit” access to data for an intelligence edge.

The value of intercepted communications to the US was raised during negotiations last year which could increase internet costs 15 per cent.

Documents on the Federal Communications Commission website show the issue was raised by lawyers acting for “undersea cable operators”, including Southern Cross Cables, half-owned by Telecom and owner of the 28,900km cable which links New Zealand to the internet.

Lawyers acting for the cable operators told the FCC there were benefits to their clients not having to pay for their cables to land on US soil.

The FCC was told the number of internet connections passing through the US was dropping.

“There has long been speculation that US surveillance following implementation of the Patriot Act could push internet content and information storage outside the United States-to the detriment of the United States.”

The legal team footnoted the statement with a 2006 quote from former CIA director and National Security Agency director General Michael Hayden, who set up domestic wiretapping and widespread internet snooping during his terms as an intelligence chief.

He was quoted as saying: “Because of the nature of global telecommunications, we are playing with a tremendous home-field advantage, and we need to exploit that edge.

“We also need to protect that edge, and we need to protect those who provide it to us.”

In other documents, Southern Cross Cables raised the possibility of submarine cables coming to land in Canada or Mexico.

Southern Cross Cables lawyer Nikki Shone said the company was legally obliged to co-operate with US laws and it was in relation to those obligations that “it noted that the FCC’s proposed universal services charges could harm US security interests by encouraging infrastructure to bypass the United States”.

She said Southern Cross Cable was “wholly unaware of recently disclosed US surveillance programmes”.

A Telecom spokesman cited the company’s contract with residential customers, which tells them it will pass on their information without permission if it believes it is legally required to do so or if it is necessary “to help maintain the law”.

Telecom Users Association chief executive Paul Brislen said revelations about US interception of internet traffic meant “we have to assume that all our communications are intercepted”.

He said internet and telecoms companies had to comply with US rules or be shut out of lucrative contracts.

Mr Brislen believed the cable from Auckland to Los Angeles was secure but said intelligence agencies would access information beyond the landing stations.

Tech Liberty director Thomas Beagle said any use of American services and networks exposed data to being captured by the US.

But shifting to other countries “will just expose you to surveillance from their national governments”.

“It seems that we now have the choice between taking the time to understand and implement secure encryption or choosing services based on which governments we don’t mind spying on us.”

By David Fisher @DFisherJourno
5:30 AM Saturday Aug 10, 2013

Find this story at 10 August 2013

© Copyright 2013, APN Holdings NZ Limited

Bundesheer-Lauschstation als Teil einer US-Peilkette

Die Amerikaner finanzierten den Horchposten Königswarte bei Hainburg und banden ihn in ein ganzes Netz ein, das sich von Norwegen über Deutschland bis Italien zog.

Das österreichische Heeresnachrichtenamt (HNA) und der US-Militärgeheimdienst (NSA) tauschen seit mehr als 50 Jahren Informationen aus. Einer der Angelpunkte der Kooperation ist der Horchposten auf der Königswarte bei Hainburg an der Grenze zur Slowakei. Finanziert haben die Station die Amerikaner. Das bestätigte ein Sprecher des Verteidigungsministeriums bereits in der Samstagsausgabe der „Presse“. Das Nachrichtenmagazin „Profil“ förderte nun weitere Details zutage.
Redaktionspraktikum 2013

„Die Presse“ fördert mit Sommerpraktika Nachwuchsjournalisten mit Migrationshintergrund. Jetzt Praktikanten kennenlernen und Wissenswertes erfahren. Weitere Informationen »

Demnach waren die 1958 errichtete Königswarte und kleinere Stationen in Neulengbach, Großharras, Gols, Pirka bei Graz und Stockham bei Wels Teil einer amerikanischen Peilkette, die sich von Norwegen über Deutschland bis nach Italien zog. Österreich war der einzige neutrale Staat in diesem Nato-Lauschverbund. Die USA haben die immer noch aktive Anlage auf der Königswarte ständig erneuert. Von dort aus konnten vor 1989 Gespräche weit hinter dem Eisernen Vorhang belauscht werden. Jetzt stellt sich die Frage, ob immer noch in dieselbe Richtung gehorcht wird. Wie „Die Presse“ erfuhr, verhalfen die Österreicher der NSA zu Informationen, die 2007 zur Ergreifung einer deutschen Terrorzelle, der Sauerland-Gruppe, geführt haben.

Mit den abgefangenen Daten hat das Bundesheer laut „Profil“ immer schon wenig anfangen können. Die Bänder seien stets zu einer US-Station nahe Frankfurt geflogen worden. Wie „Die Presse“ berichtete, hat die NSA im Kalten Krieg einen Vertrag mit dem HNA abgeschlossen. In den Nullerjahren, nach den Terroranschlägen vom 11. September 2001, soll das Dokument erneuert und ergänzt worden sein. Das bestätigten mehrere Quellen, sowohl Politiker als auch hochrangige Beamte aus dem Sicherheitsbereich. Das Verteidigungsministerium wollte sich nichtdazu äußern, die US-Botschaft in Wien ebenso wenig, sie betonte jedoch die „sehr gute Kooperation mit dem österreichischen Militär und den österreichischen Nachrichtendiensten“.

FPÖ-Chef Heinz-Christian Strache forderte Bundeskanzler Faymann und Verteidigungsminister Klug auf, unverzüglich Stellung zum Geheimvertrag mit der NSA zu nehmen. Es müsse überprüft werden, inwieweit die Neutralität verletzt worden sei.

13.07.2013 | 17:57 | von CHRISTIAN ULTSCH (Die Presse)

Find this story at 13 July 2013

© 2013 DiePresse.com

NSA hat Vertrag mit Österreich abgeschlossen

Die National Security Agency schloss im Kalten Krieg eine Vereinbarung mit dem Heeresnachrichtenamt und finanzierte dessen Horchposten bei Hainburg. Im Krieg gegen den Terror haben Österreich und die USA das Abkommen erneuert.

Es ist eines der großen Geheimnisse der Republik, aber wirklich gut gehütet ist es nicht: Das neutrale Österreich hat mit dem US-Nachrichtendienst NSA (National Security Agency) einen Vertrag abgeschlossen. Darin sind die Rahmenbedingungen für die Zusammenarbeit und den Informationsaustausch zwischen der US-Überwachungsbehörde und dem Heeresnachrichtenamt HNaA, dem Auslandsnachrichtendienst des österreichischen Bundesheeres, festgelegt. Seine Wurzeln hat das Dokument im Kalten Krieg, doch nach den Terroranschlägen vom 11. September 2001 hat es der damalige NSA-Direktor, Michael Hayden, erneuern lassen. Das erfuhr „Die Presse“ aus mehreren Quellen: von österreichischen Politikern und hochrangigen Beamten im Sicherheitsbereich.
Die erste Wahl bei politischer Berichterstattung!

Für alle, die im Superwahljahr 2013 objektiv und bestens informiert sein wollen, gibt´s jetzt die “Presse” und die “Presse am Sonntag” 8 Wochen um 8 Euro. Weitere Informationen »

Michael Bauer, der Sprecher des Verteidigungsministeriums, will die Existenz des NSA-Vertrags mit Österreich weder bestätigen noch dementieren: „Ich kann dazu nichts sagen.“ Auch die US-Botschaft in Wien äußert sich nicht zu der Vereinbarung. Sie weist jedoch ausdrücklich auf die „sehr gute Kooperation mit dem österreichischen Militär und den österreichischen Nachrichtendiensten“ hin.
Minister Klug schweigt

Die NSA war zuletzt auch Thema im parlamentarischen Unterausschuss für Landesverteidigung. Doch Verteidigungsminister Gerald Klug zog es vor, über den Vertrag zu schweigen. Dass das Heeresnachrichtenamt als Kontaktstelle für die NSA fungiert, ist bekannt. Das Verteidigungsressort hat diesen Umstand nach einem Bericht der „Presse“ vom 13. Juni nicht abgestritten. Damals wie heute betont das Ministerium jedoch, dass das HNaA keinen Massenaustausch von Daten mit anderen Nachrichtendiensten betreibe.

Wie breit der Fluss österreichischer Daten in die USA ist, darüber gehen die Einschätzungen auseinander. Ein Geheimdienst-Insider gab sich gegenüber der „Presse“ überzeugt, dass die Amerikaner in der Lage sind, jegliche elektronische Kommunikation abzufangen. Allein mithilfe ihres Überwachungsprogramms Prism kann die NSA die Verbindungsdaten jeglichen Internetverkehrs aufzeichnen, der über US-Server läuft. Das gestand der US-Botschafter in Wien bei einem Treffen mit Innenministerin Johanna Mikl-Leitner ein. Nachzuvollziehen ist ihre Empörung nicht ganz. Denn ihr Verfassungsschutz ist im Bild über die Aktivitäten der NSA in Österreich.

Die Amerikaner sind unglücklich über den Verlauf der Diskussion seit den Enthüllungen des Ex-NSA-Mitarbeiters Snowden. Denn ihre Dienste nehmen nicht nur, sie geben auch. So halfen sie jüngst bei der Befreiung der österreichischen Geisel im Jemen. Umgekehrt lieferte Österreich angeblich Informationen an die NSA, die 2007 zur Ergreifung der Sauerland-Gruppe, einer deutschen Terrorzelle, führten.

Die Partnerschaft zwischen österreichischen und US-Geheimdiensten reicht lang zurück, in die Zeit, als Europa noch geteilt war. Einer ihrer Brennpunkte war immer die Königswarte, ein Horchposten des Heeresnachrichtenamts bei Hainburg an der Grenze zur Slowakei, dort, wo früher der Eiserne Vorhang verlief. Die Österreicher waren in der Lage, von den niederen Karpaten aus tief in das sowjetische Imperium hineinzuhören. Ihre Informationen teilten sie zuweilen mit den Amerikanern.
Unterschrieb Platter das Papier?

Auch 24 Jahre nach Ende des Kalten Kriegs ist die Lauschstation des HNaA noch in Betrieb. Vor einiger Zeit wurde sie erneuert. In Militärkreisen kursieren Gerüchte, dass die teure Ausrüstung auf der Königswarte aus den USA stamme. Unter anderem das sei in einem Appendix zum NSA-Vertrag mit Hayden in den Nullerjahren vereinbart worden. Das Papier soll die Unterschrift von Günther Platter tragen, der 2003 bis 2007 Verteidigungsminister war. Im Büro des heutigen Tiroler Landeshauptmannes will man davon nichts wissen.

Michael Bauer, der Sprecher des Verteidigungsministeriums, bestreitet, dass die Amerikaner die Renovierung der Königswarte finanziert hätten. Ob sie freilich Equipment zur Verfügung stellten, kann der Oberst nicht sagen. Was er jedoch bestätigen kann, ist für das historische Selbstverständnis Österreichs brisant: „Die Königswarte war zur Zeit des Kalten Krieges ein Vorposten der Amerikaner. Sie haben die Anlage finanziell unterstützt.“ Wirklich neutral agierte Österreich schon damals nicht.

(“Die Presse” Printausgabe vom 13.07.2013)

12.07.2013 | 17:08 | VON RAINER NOWAK UND CHRISTIAN ULTSCH (Die Presse)

Find this story at 12 July 2013

© 2013 DiePresse.com

The NSA’s mass and indiscriminate spying on Brazilians

As it does in many non-adversarial countries, the surveillance agency is bulk collecting the communications of millions of citizens of Brazil
Follow Glenn Greenwald on security and liberty by emailBeta

The National Security Administration headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland. Whistleblower Edward Snowden worked as a data miner for the NSA in Hawaii. Photograph: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA

I’ve written an article on NSA surveillance for the front page of the Sunday edition of O Globo, the large Brazilian newspaper based in Rio de Janeiro. The article is headlined (translated) “US spied on millions of emails and calls of Brazilians”, and I co-wrote it with Globo reporters Roberto Kaz and Jose Casado. The rough translation of the article into English is here. The main page of Globo’s website lists related NSA stories: here.

As the headline suggests, the crux of the main article details how the NSA has, for years, systematically tapped into the Brazilian telecommunication network and indiscriminately intercepted, collected and stored the email and telephone records of millions of Brazilians. The story follows an article in Der Spiegel last week, written by Laura Poitras and reporters from that paper, detailing the NSA’s mass and indiscriminate collection of the electronic communications of millions of Germans. There are many more populations of non-adversarial countries which have been subjected to the same type of mass surveillance net by the NSA: indeed, the list of those which haven’t been are shorter than those which have. The claim that any other nation is engaging in anything remotely approaching indiscriminate worldwide surveillance of this sort is baseless.

As those two articles detail, all of this bulk, indiscriminate surveillance aimed at populations of friendly foreign nations is part of the NSA’s “FAIRVIEW” program. Under that program, the NSA partners with a large US telecommunications company, the identity of which is currently unknown, and that US company then partners with telecoms in the foreign countries. Those partnerships allow the US company access to those countries’ telecommunications systems, and that access is then exploited to direct traffic to the NSA’s repositories. Both articles are based on top secret documents provided by Edward Snowden; O Globo published several of them.

The vast majority of the GuardianUS’s revelations thus far have concerned NSA domestic spying: the bulk collection of telephone records, the PRISM program, Obama’s presidential directive that authorizes domestic use of cyber-operations, the Boundless Informant data detailing billions of records collected from US systems, the serial falsehoods publicly voiced by top Obama officials about the NSA’s surveillance schemes, and most recently, the bulk collection of email and internet metadata records for Americans. Future stories in the GuardianUS will largely continue to focus on the NSA’s domestic spying.

But contrary to what some want to suggest, the privacy rights of Americans aren’t the only ones that matter. That the US government – in complete secrecy – is constructing a ubiquitous spying apparatus aimed not only at its own citizens, but all of the world’s citizens, has profound consequences. It erodes, if not eliminates, the ability to use the internet with any remnant of privacy or personal security. It vests the US government with boundless power over those to whom it has no accountability. It permits allies of the US – including aggressively oppressive ones – to benefit from indiscriminate spying on their citizens’ communications. It radically alters the balance of power between the US and ordinary citizens of the world. And it sends an unmistakable signal to the world that while the US very minimally values the privacy rights of Americans, it assigns zero value to the privacy of everyone else on the planet.

This development – the construction of a worldwide, ubiquitous electronic surveillance apparatus – is self-evidently newsworthy, extreme, and dangerous. It deserves transparency. People around the world have no idea that all of their telephonic and internet communications are being collected, stored and analyzed by a distant government. But that’s exactly what is happening, in secrecy and with virtually no accountability. And it is inexorably growing, all in the dark. At the very least, it merits public understanding and debate. That is now possible thanks solely to these disclosures.
The Guardian’s reporting

One brief note on the Guardian is merited here: I’ve been continuously amazed by how intrepid, fearless and committed the Guardian’s editors have been in reporting these NSA stories as effectively and aggressively as possible. They have never flinched in reporting these stories, have spared no expense in pursuing them, have refused to allow vague and baseless government assertions to suppress any of the newsworthy revelations, have devoted extraordinary resources to ensure accuracy and potency, and have generally been animated by exactly the kind of adversarial journalistic ethos that has been all too lacking over the last decade or so (see this Atlantic article from yesterday highlighting the role played by the Guardian US’s editor-in-chief, Janine Gibson).

I don’t need to say any of this, but do so only because it’s so true and impressive: they deserve a lot of credit for the impact these stories have had. To underscore that: because we’re currently working on so many articles involving NSA domestic spying, it would have been weeks, at least, before we would have been able to publish this story about indiscriminate NSA surveillance of Brazilians. Rather than sit on such a newsworthy story – especially at a time when Latin America, for several reasons, is so focused on these revelations – they were enthused about my partnering with O Globo, where it could produce the most impact. In other words, they sacrificed short-term competitive advantage for the sake of the story by encouraging me to write this story with O Globo. I don’t think many media outlets would have made that choice, but that’s the kind of journalistic virtue that has driven the paper’s editors from the start of this story.

This has been a Guardian story from the start and will continue to be. Snowden came to us before coming to any other media outlet, and I’ll continue to write virtually all NSA stories right in this very space. But the O Globo story will resonate greatly in Brazil and more broadly in Latin America, where most people had no idea that their electronic communications were being collected in bulk by this highly secretive US agency. For more on how the Guardian’s editors have overseen the reporting of the NSA stories, see this informative interview on the Charlie Rose Show from last week with Gibson and Guardian editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger:

Glenn Greenwald
theguardian.com, Sunday 7 July 2013 00.32 BST

Find this story at 7 July 2013

© 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

Brazil wants answers on US surveillance

Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota is deeply concerned about the scope of a US monitoring programme targeting Brazilians.

Whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed top secret US surveillance programmes to alert the public [Reuters]

Brazil’s foreign minister has said his government is worried by a report that the United States has collected data on millions of telephone and email conversations in his country and promised to push for international protection of internet privacy.

Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota on Sunday expressed “deep concern at the report that electronic and telephone communications of Brazilian citizens are being the object of espionage by organs of American intelligence.

“The Brazilian government has asked for clarifications” through the US Embassy in Brazil and Brazil’s embassy in Washington, he said.

Patriota also said Brazil will ask the UN for measures “to impede abuses and protect the privacy” of internet users, laying down rules for governments.

The O Globo newspaper reported over the weekend that information released by NSA leaker Edward Snowden shows that the number of telephone and email messages logged by the US National Security Agency in January alone was not
far behind the 2.3 million reportedly collected in the United States.

The spokesman for the US embassy in Brazil’s capital, Dean Chaves, said earlier that any response to the O Globo report would be issued in Washington.

There was no immediate response from the office of the US national intelligence director’s office on Sunday, but in response to earlier reports of covert monitoring in Europe, the office said it would respond to concerns of specific nations through diplomatic channels.

However, “as a matter of policy, we have made clear that the United States gathers foreign intelligence of the type gathered by all nations,” last month’s statement said, without providing further details.

The chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff warned Sunday that Snowden’s overall disclosures have undermined US relationships with other countries and affected what he calls “the importance of trust”.

O Globo’s article said that “Brazil, with extensive digitalised public and private networks operated by large telecommunications and internet companies, appears to stand out on maps of the US agency as a priority target for telephony and data traffic, alongside nations such as China, Russia and Pakistan.”

The report did not describe the sort of data collected, but the US programs appear to gather what is called metadata: Logs of message times, addresses and other information rather than the content of the messages.

The report was co-authored by US journalist Glenn Greenwald, who has been key in earlier reports on Snowden’s revelations.

In a column Sunday for the British-based newspaper The Guardian, Greenwald said that “the NSA has, for years, systematically tapped into the Brazilian telecommunication network and indiscriminately intercepted, collected and stored the email and telephone records of millions of Brazilians.”

He said Brazil was merely an example of a global practice.

Last Modified: 07 Jul 2013 20:49

Find this story at 7 July 2013

© www.aljazeera.com

XKeyscore: NSA tool collects ‘nearly everything a user does on the internet’

• XKeyscore gives ‘widest-reaching’ collection of online data
• NSA analysts require no prior authorization for searches
• Sweeps up emails, social media activity and browsing history
• NSA’s XKeyscore program – read one of the presentations

One presentation claims the XKeyscore program covers ‘nearly everything a typical user does on the internet’

A top secret National Security Agency program allows analysts to search with no prior authorization through vast databases containing emails, online chats and the browsing histories of millions of individuals, according to documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The NSA boasts in training materials that the program, called XKeyscore, is its “widest-reaching” system for developing intelligence from the internet.

The latest revelations will add to the intense public and congressional debate around the extent of NSA surveillance programs. They come as senior intelligence officials testify to the Senate judiciary committee on Wednesday, releasing classified documents in response to the Guardian’s earlier stories on bulk collection of phone records and Fisa surveillance court oversight.

The files shed light on one of Snowden’s most controversial statements, made in his first video interview published by the Guardian on June 10.

“I, sitting at my desk,” said Snowden, could “wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant, to a federal judge or even the president, if I had a personal email”.

US officials vehemently denied this specific claim. Mike Rogers, the Republican chairman of the House intelligence committee, said of Snowden’s assertion: “He’s lying. It’s impossible for him to do what he was saying he could do.”

But training materials for XKeyscore detail how analysts can use it and other systems to mine enormous agency databases by filling in a simple on-screen form giving only a broad justification for the search. The request is not reviewed by a court or any NSA personnel before it is processed.

XKeyscore, the documents boast, is the NSA’s “widest reaching” system developing intelligence from computer networks – what the agency calls Digital Network Intelligence (DNI). One presentation claims the program covers “nearly everything a typical user does on the internet”, including the content of emails, websites visited and searches, as well as their metadata.

Analysts can also use XKeyscore and other NSA systems to obtain ongoing “real-time” interception of an individual’s internet activity.

Under US law, the NSA is required to obtain an individualized Fisa warrant only if the target of their surveillance is a ‘US person’, though no such warrant is required for intercepting the communications of Americans with foreign targets. But XKeyscore provides the technological capability, if not the legal authority, to target even US persons for extensive electronic surveillance without a warrant provided that some identifying information, such as their email or IP address, is known to the analyst.

One training slide illustrates the digital activity constantly being collected by XKeyscore and the analyst’s ability to query the databases at any time.

The purpose of XKeyscore is to allow analysts to search the metadata as well as the content of emails and other internet activity, such as browser history, even when there is no known email account (a “selector” in NSA parlance) associated with the individual being targeted.

Analysts can also search by name, telephone number, IP address, keywords, the language in which the internet activity was conducted or the type of browser used.

One document notes that this is because “strong selection [search by email address] itself gives us only a very limited capability” because “a large amount of time spent on the web is performing actions that are anonymous.”

The NSA documents assert that by 2008, 300 terrorists had been captured using intelligence from XKeyscore.

Analysts are warned that searching the full database for content will yield too many results to sift through. Instead they are advised to use the metadata also stored in the databases to narrow down what to review.

A slide entitled “plug-ins” in a December 2012 document describes the various fields of information that can be searched. It includes “every email address seen in a session by both username and domain”, “every phone number seen in a session (eg address book entries or signature block)” and user activity – “the webmail and chat activity to include username, buddylist, machine specific cookies etc”.
Email monitoring

In a second Guardian interview in June, Snowden elaborated on his statement about being able to read any individual’s email if he had their email address. He said the claim was based in part on the email search capabilities of XKeyscore, which Snowden says he was authorized to use while working as a Booz Allen contractor for the NSA.

One top-secret document describes how the program “searches within bodies of emails, webpages and documents”, including the “To, From, CC, BCC lines” and the ‘Contact Us’ pages on websites”.

To search for emails, an analyst using XKS enters the individual’s email address into a simple online search form, along with the “justification” for the search and the time period for which the emails are sought.

The analyst then selects which of those returned emails they want to read by opening them in NSA reading software.

The system is similar to the way in which NSA analysts generally can intercept the communications of anyone they select, including, as one NSA document put it, “communications that transit the United States and communications that terminate in the United States”.

One document, a top secret 2010 guide describing the training received by NSA analysts for general surveillance under the Fisa Amendments Act of 2008, explains that analysts can begin surveillance on anyone by clicking a few simple pull-down menus designed to provide both legal and targeting justifications. Once options on the pull-down menus are selected, their target is marked for electronic surveillance and the analyst is able to review the content of their communications:

Chats, browsing history and other internet activity

Beyond emails, the XKeyscore system allows analysts to monitor a virtually unlimited array of other internet activities, including those within social media.

An NSA tool called DNI Presenter, used to read the content of stored emails, also enables an analyst using XKeyscore to read the content of Facebook chats or private messages.

An analyst can monitor such Facebook chats by entering the Facebook user name and a date range into a simple search screen.

Analysts can search for internet browsing activities using a wide range of information, including search terms entered by the user or the websites viewed.

As one slide indicates, the ability to search HTTP activity by keyword permits the analyst access to what the NSA calls “nearly everything a typical user does on the internet”.

The XKeyscore program also allows an analyst to learn the IP addresses of every person who visits any website the analyst specifies.

The quantity of communications accessible through programs such as XKeyscore is staggeringly large. One NSA report from 2007 estimated that there were 850bn “call events” collected and stored in the NSA databases, and close to 150bn internet records. Each day, the document says, 1-2bn records were added.

William Binney, a former NSA mathematician, said last year that the agency had “assembled on the order of 20tn transactions about US citizens with other US citizens”, an estimate, he said, that “only was involving phone calls and emails”. A 2010 Washington Post article reported that “every day, collection systems at the [NSA] intercept and store 1.7bn emails, phone calls and other type of communications.”

The XKeyscore system is continuously collecting so much internet data that it can be stored only for short periods of time. Content remains on the system for only three to five days, while metadata is stored for 30 days. One document explains: “At some sites, the amount of data we receive per day (20+ terabytes) can only be stored for as little as 24 hours.”

To solve this problem, the NSA has created a multi-tiered system that allows analysts to store “interesting” content in other databases, such as one named Pinwale which can store material for up to five years.

It is the databases of XKeyscore, one document shows, that now contain the greatest amount of communications data collected by the NSA.

In 2012, there were at least 41 billion total records collected and stored in XKeyscore for a single 30-day period.

Legal v technical restrictions

While the Fisa Amendments Act of 2008 requires an individualized warrant for the targeting of US persons, NSA analysts are permitted to intercept the communications of such individuals without a warrant if they are in contact with one of the NSA’s foreign targets.

The ACLU’s deputy legal director, Jameel Jaffer, told the Guardian last month that national security officials expressly said that a primary purpose of the new law was to enable them to collect large amounts of Americans’ communications without individualized warrants.

“The government doesn’t need to ‘target’ Americans in order to collect huge volumes of their communications,” said Jaffer. “The government inevitably sweeps up the communications of many Americans” when targeting foreign nationals for surveillance.

An example is provided by one XKeyscore document showing an NSA target in Tehran communicating with people in Frankfurt, Amsterdam and New York.

In recent years, the NSA has attempted to segregate exclusively domestic US communications in separate databases. But even NSA documents acknowledge that such efforts are imperfect, as even purely domestic communications can travel on foreign systems, and NSA tools are sometimes unable to identify the national origins of communications.

Moreover, all communications between Americans and someone on foreign soil are included in the same databases as foreign-to-foreign communications, making them readily searchable without warrants.

Some searches conducted by NSA analysts are periodically reviewed by their supervisors within the NSA. “It’s very rare to be questioned on our searches,” Snowden told the Guardian in June, “and even when we are, it’s usually along the lines of: ‘let’s bulk up the justification’.”

In a letter this week to senator Ron Wyden, director of national intelligence James Clapper acknowledged that NSA analysts have exceeded even legal limits as interpreted by the NSA in domestic surveillance.

Acknowledging what he called “a number of compliance problems”, Clapper attributed them to “human error” or “highly sophisticated technology issues” rather than “bad faith”.

However, Wyden said on the Senate floor on Tuesday: “These violations are more serious than those stated by the intelligence community, and are troubling.”

In a statement to the Guardian, the NSA said: “NSA’s activities are focused and specifically deployed against – and only against – legitimate foreign intelligence targets in response to requirements that our leaders need for information necessary to protect our nation and its interests.

“XKeyscore is used as a part of NSA’s lawful foreign signals intelligence collection system.

“Allegations of widespread, unchecked analyst access to NSA collection data are simply not true. Access to XKeyscore, as well as all of NSA’s analytic tools, is limited to only those personnel who require access for their assigned tasks … In addition, there are multiple technical, manual and supervisory checks and balances within the system to prevent deliberate misuse from occurring.”

“Every search by an NSA analyst is fully auditable, to ensure that they are proper and within the law.

“These types of programs allow us to collect the information that enables us to perform our missions successfully – to defend the nation and to protect US and allied troops abroad.”

Glenn Greenwald
theguardian.com, Wednesday 31 July 2013 13.56 BST

Find this story at 31 July 2013

© 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies