Today is the “anniversary” of my mom passing away; everyone please take a moment to give someone you care about a hug or a kiss and dont forget to say those three magical words that can make someone’s day, week, month or year, even when everything else may be going wrong in their lives, because you never know when it’ll be the last chance you ever get to say or do that  and yes it does make a HUGE difference……

So Proud of Skye Stiles!

Doing much better now as I’ve been told, hopefully will soon be healthy enough to talk to everyone who cares about her!

nsa and fbi spying on tech companies

Bombshell Report: NSA and FBI ‘Tapping Directly’ Into Tech Companies’ Servers

Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, AOL, Skype, YouTube, and Apple are all implicated.
JUN 6 2013, 6:33 PM ET


The first slide of the PowerPoint deck on which the Post’s report is based (Washington Post).

Following in the wake of The Guardian’s revelation that the National Security Agency had compelled at least one telecom company (Verizon) to hand over its customers’ call records, the Washington Post has published a startling report that says nine major Internet companies have been secretly cooperating with the NSA and FBI as well.

The government is “tapping directly” into servers at Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, and Apple, “extracting audio, video, photographs, e-mails, documents and connection logs that enable analysts to track a person’s movements and contacts over time.”

The program is code-named PRISM. It began in 2007 and has experienced what the Post called “six years of exponential growth.” It is now “s the number one source of raw intelligence used for NSA analytic reports.” Here’s how the story’s authors, Barton Gellman and Laura Poitras, describe the operation:

The PRISM program is not a dragnet, exactly. From inside a company’s data stream the NSA is capable of pulling out anything it likes, but under current rules the agency does not try to collect it all.

Analysts who use the system from a Web portal at Fort Meade key in “selectors,” or search terms, that are designed to produce at least 51 percent confidence in a target’s “foreignness.” That is not a very stringent test. Training materials obtained by the Post instruct new analysts to submit accidentally collected U.S. content for a quarterly report, “but it’s nothing to worry about.”

Even when the system works just as advertised, with no American singled out for targeting, the NSA routinely collects a great deal of American content. That is described as “incidental,” and it is inherent in contact chaining, one of the basic tools of the trade. To collect on a suspected spy or foreign terrorist means, at minimum, that everyone in the suspect’s inbox or outbox is swept in. Intelligence analysts are typically taught to chain through contacts two “hops” out from their target, which increases “incidental collection” exponentially.

The Guardian, which ran its own story on PRISM (presumably from the same source), got several tech companies on the record denying “any knowledge of any such program.”

nsa and fbi tapping directly into tech companies









Alexis Madrigal is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he oversees the Technology channel. He’s the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green TechnologyMORE

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what google and nsa snoops have in common

What Google and NSA Snoops Have in Common

The world’s Internet companies got rich behaving just like our government’s intelligence apparatus.
JUN 6 2013, 12:55 PM ET


Even Larry Page and Mark Zuckerberg may not know as much about you as NSA chief Keith Alexander. (AP)

We knew the Bush administration played fast and loose with Americans’ privacy but it’s now been confirmed that President Obama is no less keen on spying on his citizens. According to a court order obtained by the Guardian and published overnight, Verizon Business, a subsidiary of the giant telecoms operator Verizon, has been ordered to supply the National Security Agency with call records of all its customers for three months ending on July 19. It’s a good bet that this isn’t the first such order, and that other telcos are supplying the same information.

In a broad sense, this is fairly standard stuff: government bodies–and not just intelligence agencies–routinely request access to these records for matters ranging from tax fraud to day-to-day law enforcement. But what’s alarming to civil-liberties advocates is that the NSA’s hoovering up of information is focused not on suspicious individuals but on every user of Verizon’s network: It’s pre-emptive data collection, on the off-chance that it might one day be needed.

This is less surprising that it should be. The world’s biggest internet companies got rich doing exactly the same thing. Like the security apparatus, they too are eager to gather every last speck of information about you. One group does it to target better ads and build more omniscient products. The other does it in the interests of national security.  

Take Google, for example. A year ago, it “streamlined” privacy policies across its dozens of services into a single document. The point was for Google to consolidate disparate chunks of information about each of its user to get a unified picture of who they were and what were doing online. Signing into Google while browsing–by keeping a Gmail window open, for instance–allows the service to keep track of its users’ activities on other sites. Facebook also tracks its users with the little “Like” button scattered across the web. With every new service these firms roll out, they gather more and more information, all of which gives them a richer and more nuanced picture of their users. And there there are the various companies that do nothing except collect and sell personal information. In the era of “big data,” government agencies would be an anomaly if they didn’t collect everything they could.

For Google and Facebook, the purpose is to “organize the world’s information” and “to make the world more open and connected.” A little synthesis and you could describe the NSA’s mission: “to make the world’s information more open (for the NSA) and connected (to properly understand it).”

Google understood that having its users’ information sprinkled meant it was missing vital connections. The NSA similarly understands the power of consolidating data. Focus on a few “persons of interest” and you risk missing an obscure connection here or an obvious one there. But match phone records with credit-card information, travel details, emails and more, and you can paint a startlingly accurate portrait of any individual.

Equally important, it is possible to draw broad trends about groups. It’s what the the hackers down at Menlo Park like to call your mining your “social graph,” except that the NSA has better tools. In its own words, its “systems environment is a haven for computer scientists,” with “access to acres of hardware, software years ahead of current commercial technology” and “vast networks able to manipulate and analyze huge volumes of data at mind-boggling speeds.” Think Facebook’s graph search and multiply that by a googol.

Internet activists are rightly concerned by the consolidation of power in the world’s largest internet companies. But they seem lilliputian compared to gigantic volumes of data quietly being accumulated by governments. To call it Orwellian would be a cliche; it is just plain terrifying.


No way out or is there?
Verizon customers outraged at the revelation that the company has been turning over their phone records to the U.S. government can do little to dodge the government surveillance program, even by switching phone carriers, telecommunications experts said.
“I think it’s quite probable, given the breadth of the Verizon order, that similar orders have been granted for all major telephone companies,” said Sascha Meinrath, vice president of the New America Foundation, a nonpartisan think tank. “We are likely looking at a nation-wide fishing expedition of everyone’s phone records and geolocation, updated daily and covering nearly every call originating in the U.S.”
The Guardian reported late Wednesday that Verizon was turning over customer phone records to the National Security Agency to comply with a court order under the Patriot Act. The order, which took effect in April and expires in July, does not apply to the content of communications, but rather so-called metadata — the location, duration and time of phone calls and the identities of callers.
It was unclear Thursday whether other phone companies had received a similar order because such orders are classified and the companies are barred from discussing them. Verizon and AT&T declined to comment.
On Thursday, the Obama administration called the collection of Americans’ phone records “a critical tool in protecting the nation from terrorist threats.”
Such domestic surveillance programs aren’t new. USA Today reported in 2006 that the NSA was compiling a database of call records obtained from U.S. phone companies. In response, the Electronic Frontier Foundation sued AT&T on behalf of its customers, arguing the company had violated major privacy laws.
But in 2008, Congress amended the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to give the phone companies retroactive immunity from lawsuits.
“That basically pulled the rug out for plaintiffs,” said Matt Wood, policy director at Free Press, a public interest group.
Wood expected “some sort of consumer backlash” against Verizon for its role in the newly disclosed surveillance program, but noted that past outrage over phone companies’ participation in domestic wiretapping has been short-lived.
“People get angry, but that anger subsides after a while,” he said.
Even switching to smaller phone companies would not shield Americans from government collection of their call records because small carriers run their data over larger carriers’ neworks, according to Karl Bode, a telecom industry analyst and editor of the blog Broadband Reports.
“The sad irony of this is that consumers and taxpayers are the ones paying to be spied on, whether it’s higher rates on their cell phone bill to adhere with wiretap requests, or the taxpayer dollars needed to expand the NSA’s supercomputer warehouses being designed to dig through all of this data,” Bode said.
Bode and Wood both said that upset Verizon customers do have one recourse: to vote for lawmakers who pledge to amend surveillance laws to protect privacy.
“Consumers like to complain about it, but it’s unclear how many bother to vote their conscience at the polls — which is about all you can do in response,” Bode said. “Complaining on Twitter certainly doesn’t accomplish much.”
page also has tech to help you avoid wiretapping
here is the secret court order

The enemy of democracy

Of all the charges against Bradley Manning, the most pernicious — and revealing — is “aiding the enemy.”
A blogger at The New Yorker, Amy Davidson, raised a pair of big questions that now loom over the courtroom at Fort Meade and over the entire country:
“Would it aid the enemy, for example, to expose war crimes committed by American forces or lies told by the American government?”
“In that case, who is aiding the enemy — the whistleblower or the perpetrators themselves?”
When the deceptive operation of the warfare state can’t stand the light of day, truth-tellers are a constant hazard. And culpability must stay turned on its head.
That’s why accountability was upside-down when the U.S. Army prosecutor laid out the government’s case against Bradley Manning in an opening statement: “This is a case about a soldier who systematically harvested hundreds of thousands of classified documents and dumped them onto the Internet, into the hands of the enemy — material he knew, based on his training, would put the lives of fellow soldiers at risk.”
If so, those fellow soldiers have all been notably lucky; the Pentagon has admitted that none died as a result of Manning’s leaks in 2010. But many of his fellow soldiers lost their limbs or their lives in U.S. warfare made possible by the kind of lies that the U.S. government is now prosecuting Bradley Manning for exposing.
In the real world, as Glenn Greenwald has pointed out, prosecution for leaks is extremely slanted. “Let’s apply the government’s theory in the Manning case to one of the most revered journalists in Washington: Bob Woodward, who has become one of America’s richest reporters, if not the richest, by obtaining and publishing classified information far more sensitive than anything WikiLeaks has ever published,” Greenwald wrote in January.
He noted that “one of Woodward’s most enthusiastic readers was Osama bin Laden,” as a 2011 video from al-Qaeda made clear. And Greenwald added that “the same Bob Woodward book [Obama’s Wars] that Osama bin Laden obviously read and urged everyone else to read disclosed numerous vital national security secrets far more sensitive than anything Bradley Manning is accused of leaking. Doesn’t that necessarily mean that top-level government officials who served as Woodward’s sources, and the author himself, aided and abetted al-Qaida?”
But the prosecution of Manning is about carefully limiting the information that reaches the governed. Officials who run U.S. foreign policy choose exactly what classified info to dole out to the public. They leak like self-serving sieves to mainline journalists such as Woodward, who has divulged plenty of “Top Secret” information — a category of classification higher than anything Bradley Manning is accused of leaking.  
While pick-and-choose secrecy is serving Washington’s top war-makers, the treatment of U.S. citizens is akin to the classic description of how to propagate mushrooms: keeping them in the dark and feeding them bullshit.
In effect, for top managers of the warfare state, “the enemy” is democracy.
Let’s pursue the inquiry put forward by columnist Amy Davidson early this year. If it is aiding the enemy “to expose war crimes committed by American forces or lies told by the American government,” then in reality “who is aiding the enemy — the whistleblower or the perpetrators themselves?”
Candid answers to such questions are not only inadmissible in the military courtroom where Bradley Manning is on trial. Candor is also excluded from the national venues where the warfare state preens itself as virtue’s paragon.
Yet ongoing actions of the U.S. government have hugely boosted the propaganda impact and recruiting momentum of forces that Washington publicly describes as “the enemy.” Policies under the Bush and Obama administrations — in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and beyond, with hovering drones, missile strikes and night raids, at prisons such as Abu Ghraib, Bagram, Guantanamo and secret rendition torture sites — have “aided the enemy” on a scale so enormous that it makes the alleged (and fictitious) aid to named enemies from Manning’s leaks infinitesimal in comparison.
Blaming the humanist PFC messenger for “aiding the enemy” is an exercise in self-exculpation by an administration that cannot face up to its own vast war crimes.
While prosecuting Bradley Manning, the prosecution may name al-Qaeda, indigenous Iraqi forces, the Taliban or whoever. But the unnamed “enemy” — the real adversary that the Pentagon and the Obama White House are so eager to quash — is the incessant striving for democracy that requires informed consent of the governed.
The forces that top U.S. officials routinely denounce as “the enemy” will never threaten the power of the USA’s dominant corporate-military elites. But the unnamed “enemy” aided by Bradley Manning’s courageous actions — the people at the grassroots who can bring democracy to life beyond rhetoric — are a real potential threat to that power.
Accusations of aid and comfort to the enemy were profuse after Martin Luther King Jr. moved forward to expose the Johnson administration’s deceptions and the U.S. military’s atrocities. Most profoundly, with his courageous stand against the war in Vietnam, King earned his Nobel Peace Prize during the years after he won it in 1964.
Bradley Manning may never win the Nobel Peace Prize, but he surely deserves it. Close to 60,000 people have already signed a petition urging the Norwegian Nobel Committee to award the prize to Manning. To become a signer, click here.
Also, you can preview a kindred project on the “I Am Bradley Manning” site, where a just-released short video — the first stage of a longer film due out soon — features Daniel Ellsberg, Oliver Stone, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Phil Donahue, Alice Walker, Peter Sarsgaard, Wallace Shawn, Russell Brand, Moby, Tom Morello, Michael Ratner, Molly Crabapple, Davey D, Tim DeChristopher, Josh Stieber, Lt. Dan Choi, Hakim Green, Matt Taibbi, Chris Hedges, Allan Nairn, Leslie Cagan, Ahdaf Soueif and Jeff Madrick.
From many walks of life, our messages will become louder and clearer as Bradley Manning’s trial continues. He is guilty of “aiding the enemy” only if the enemy is democracy.

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