Category: SECRET SERVICES
WASHINGTON — The National Security Agency routinely shares raw intelligence data with Israel that probably includes sensitive information about Americans, according to the latest top-secret document leaked by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.
The 2009 document, a memorandum of understanding between the NSA and its Israeli counterpart, says the U.S. government regularly hands over intercepted communications that have not first been reviewed by U.S. analysts and therefore may contain phone calls and emails of American citizens.
The agreement allows for the possibility that intercepts given to Israel might include the communications of U.S. government officials, in which case Israel is supposed to destroy them immediately. Other data on U.S. citizens who aren't in the government, however, can be kept by Israel for up to a year, according to the document, first published Wednesday by Britain's Guardian newspaper.
NSA officials declined to answer questions but issued a statement saying, "Whenever we share intelligence information, we comply with all applicable rules, including the rules to protect U.S. person information."
It's no secret that the U.S. and Israel cooperate closely against intelligence targets of mutual interest, such as Syria and Iran. But providing Israel unfiltered electronic intelligence feeds raises questions about why American officials would trust Israel to respect the privacy of U.S. citizens.
The practice also raises the specter of Israel using U.S. intelligence to carry out operations of which the U.S. disapproves. The Obama administration has condemned, for example, the assassinations of several Iranian nuclear scientists that many analysts believe Israel had a hand in.
"One of the biggest concerns in all intelligence-sharing..
The National Security Agency for almost three years searched a massive database of Americans’ phone call records attempting to identify potential terrorists in violation of court-approved privacy rules, and the problem went unfixed because no one at the agency had a full technical understanding of how its system worked, according to new documents and senior government officials.
Moreover, it was Justice Department officials who discovered the problem and reported it to the court that oversees surveillance programs, the documents show, undermining assertions by the NSA that self-reporting is part of its culture.
The improper activity went on from May 2006 to January 2009, according to a March 2009 opinion by Judge Reggie B. Walton, who serves on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
It was one of more than a dozen documents declassified and released Tuesday in response to lawsuits by civil liberties groups and at the direction of President Obama in the wake of the June disclosure by former NSA contractor Edward J. Snowden of the massive phone records collection.
“The documents released today are a testament to the government’s strong commitment to detecting, correcting and reporting mistakes that occur in implementing technologically complex intelligence collection activities, and to continually improving its oversight and compliance processes,” said James R. Clapper, the director of national intelligence.
A strong rebuke of the NSA by the court comes less than a month after the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a highly critical FISA court opinion that took the agency to task for its operation of a separate surveillance program. Taken together, the documents released by the office over the past month paint a troubling picture of an agency that has sought and won far-reaching surveillance powers to run complex domestic data collection without anyone having full technical understanding of the efforts, and that has repeatedly misrepresented the programs’ scope to its court overseer.
Such revelations call into question the effectiveness of an oversight program that depends on accurate disclosure by the NSA to..
WASHINGTON — The National Security Agency admitted in documents released Tuesday that it had wrongly put 16,000 phone numbers on an "alert list" so their incoming calls could be monitored, a mistake that a judge on the secret surveillance court called a "flagrant violation" of the law.
The documents are the latest to show that not only did the secret spy agency collect more data than most Americans suspected, its agents sometimes went too far when tapping into the data.
In 2006, the NSA asked for and won approval from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, or FISC, to routinely collect the dialing records of domestic phone calls. The judges, to the surprise of some outside lawyers, agreed that all of these phone records could be "relevant" to an investigation, and therefore, could be collected.
The agency insisted, however, that it would hold these records and tap into them only when it had a "reasonable and articulable suspicion" that a phone number was linked to a suspected terrorist.
But in January 2009, top officials of the intelligence agency learned that about 18,000 phone numbers were..
European politicians on Monday called for the immediate suspension of a data-sharing agreement between the U.S. and the European Union following more revelations of spying by the U.S. National Security Agency.
The Terrorist Finance Tracking Program (TFTP) provides the U.S. Treasury with data stored in Europe by the international bank transfer company Swift. However documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and reported by The Washington Post indicate the NSA spied on Swift. The company is included in an NSA training manual for new agents on how to target private computer networks, according to the documents.
“I think there is more than enough evidence to call for a suspension,” said Dutch Member of the European Parliament Sophie In’t Veld. “Formally, it is for the Commission to propose the suspension and then for the Council to decide. But we in Parliament can call for the suspension in the strongest terms.”
German MEP Jan Philipp Albrecht agreed. “The revelations about NSA surveillance of Swift make a mockery of the E.U.’s agreement with the U.S. The NSA surveillance is an open breach of the agreement and further undermines the already insufficient data protection given to European citizens under the deal,” he said in a statement.
The TFTP agreement was controversial from the start with Parliament only reluctantly agreeing to it in 2010.
“We constituted the legal basis for the transfer of data, which as imperfect as it may be, is at least legal. If the U.S. then decides to..
The intelligence gathered against Syria’s Assad was manufactured by elements within the spy community in order to mislead the US President to take punitive action, Ray McGovern, a veteran CIA analyst, told RT.
McGovern was among the signatories to the letter from veteran intelligence professionals to Obama, warning the US president that Assad is not responsible for the chemical attack, and that “CIA Director John Brennan is perpetrating a pre-Iraq-War-type fraud on members of Congress, the media, [and] the public.”
RT: You were one of the signatories to that letter to the US President. Do you think it will influence Obama?
Ray McGovern: Well, the problem of course is getting into what they call the mainstream media. The media is drumbeating for the war just as before Iraq. And they don’t want to hear that the evidence is very very flimsy. They don’t want to hear that people within the CIA – senior people, with great access to this information – assure us, the veterans, that there’s no conclusive evidence that Assad ordered those chemical incidents on August 21. They don’t want to hear that. They want to process beyond that and just deal with what we must do. Now, you don’t assume those things – you need proof of them.
RT: In the letter, you cite evidence that the Syrian opposition and its allies carried out a chemical weapons provocation. Why do you think this has been ignored completely by Obama and Kerry?
RM: The reason that they don’t adduce the evidence is because it wouldn’t stand up not only in the court of law, it wouldn’t bear close scrutiny. We’ve been down this road before. It happened before in Iraq. What the president needs to do is to release the intercepted message, on which most of this depends. And once he’s done that, we could see what he’s got. There’s precedent for this – Ronald Reagan in 1986, when the Libyans bombed a discotheque in Berlin, killing two US servicemen and wounding hundreds. He hit [Muammar] Gaddafi’s palace, killing his little daughter, 15 months old, and almost killing his son three years old. Now, the world said: ‘You can’t do that! What’s your evidence that the Libyans did that?’ And Reagan came to us and said: ‘We have to release that intercepted message. And we said; ‘No! No! No! You can’t do that because you’ll blow our source.’ And he said: ‘Do it anyway.’ That was released and the world calmed down. I don’t defend killing little children, but at least Reagan gained some credibility from the fact that he saw that the interests of the state, of the US, superseded protecting sources and methods. That’s what Obama has to do now. We’re very suspicious that if he’s unwilling to do that, since he sends his Chief of Staff before the camera and says: ‘Well, it wouldn’t stand up in a court of law, but, hey, intelligence is intelligence – you got to trust this. But we’re not going to trust him this time, especially when the head of the intelligence establishment is a self-admitted..
Six years ago, two Microsoft cryptography researchers discovered some weirdness in an obscure cryptography standard authored by the National Security Agency. There was a bug in a government-standard random number generator that could be used to encrypt data.
The researchers, Dan Shumow and Niels Ferguson, found that the number generator appeared to have been built with a backdoor — it came with a secret numeric key that could allow a third party to decrypt code that it helped generate.
According to Thursday’s reports by the ProPublica, the Guardian, and The New York Times, classified documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden appear to confirm what everyone suspected: that the backdoor was engineered by the NSA. Worse still, a top-secret NSA document published with the reports says that the NSA has worked with industry partners to “covertly influence” technology products.
That sounds bad, but so far, there’s not much hard evidence about what exactly has been compromised. No company is named in the new allegations. The details of the reported modifications are murky. So while much of the internet’s security systems appear to be broken, it’s unclear where the problems lie.
The result is that the trustworthiness of the systems we used to communicate on the internet is in doubt. “I think all companies have a little bit of taint after this,” says Christopher Soghoian, a technologist with the American Civil Liberties Union.
The latest documents show that the NSA has vast crypto-cracking resources, a database of secretly held encryption keys used to decrypt private communications, and an ability to crack cryptography in certain VPN encryption chips. Its goal: to crack in a widespread way the internet’s security tools and protocols.
David Dampier, the director of the Center for Computer Security Research at Mississippi State University, says it’s “wrong” for companies to add backdoors. But he added that the latest revelations of the government’s alleged decryption capabilities aren’t surprising.
“I think that no encryption created by anyone is going to protect you from everyone. The stronger the encryption the harder they are going to work to decrypt it,” he said. “I don’t care what company is selling you encryption software. Whatever they are going to sell you, it can be decrypted. There’s nothing that is infallible.”
The reports talk about the NSA’s attempts to exploit software bugs, break codes and accumulate encryption keys — this is all stuff that most security experts expected the surveillance agency to be doing. But here’s the most unsettling part: A leaked excerpt from the agency’s 2013 budget request talks about the NSA working with “US and foreign IT industries to covertly influence and/or overtly leverage their commercial products designs.” The document explicitly says: “These design changes make the systems in question exploitable.” Daniel Castro, a senior analyst with the Information Technology ..
RIO DE JANEIRO — A Brazilian television show, citing classified documents provided by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, reported Sunday night that the Obama administration has spied on the state-run Petrobras oil producer, Brazil’s most important company.
President Obama and administration officials have publicly asserted that intelligence-gathering is focused on stopping terrorist threats and fighting transnational crime. But the documents revealed on “Fantastico,” a program on the Globo TV network, appear to show that the United States may target multinational companies, although it was not clear for what purpose.
The documents, provided to “Fantastico” by Rio-based journalist Glenn Greenwald, who has collaborated with Snowden, included a slide labeled “top secret” in which Petrobras was named as a target among a group of companies. The program said the NSA focused on the oil giant’s computer network, as well as on those of Google and the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), a European firm that enables money transfers.
The show did not disclose why Petrobras or the other companies would be targeted, although the “Fantastico” report said the documents were part of a presentation used to train new agents about how to breach private computer networks.
The Associated Press reported that James R. Clapper Jr., the director of U.S. national..
(Reuters) – Can any government escape the prying eyes of the U.S. National Security Agency? Brazil is going to try.
Angered by recent revelations that the United States spied on its emails and phone calls and even its president, Brazil's government is speeding up efforts to improve the security of its communications – and hopefully keep more of its secrets under wraps.
By purchasing a new satellite, pushing bureaucrats in Brasilia to use secure email platforms and even building its own fiber-optic cable to communicate with governments in neighboring countries, Brazil hopes to at least reduce the amount of information available to foreign spies.
The growing emphasis on secure communications has been a somewhat tough sell in a famously relaxed country that has no history of international terrorism and hasn't gone to war with any of its neighbors in more than a century.
Brazilian officials also admit they face the same problems as many other countries upset by the recent NSA disclosures. That is, building new technology is expensive and difficult, and even then there is no guarantee of fully dodging the sophisticated dragnet employed by the U.S. government.
Nonetheless, Brazil is particularly motivated to act.
More than most other countries, it has been embarrassed by documents leaked by fugitive former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. A report by Globo TV on Sunday..
Senior U.S. officials revealed Wednesday that intelligence agencies had found clues of an imminent chemical attack in Syria, but that the intelligence was still being “processed” at the time of the strike against Syrian civilians.
U.S. intelligence officials had intercepted communications from the Syrian government instructing military units to prepare for the August 21st attack — one of Secretary of State John Kerry’s key pieces of evidence linking the attack to Assad’s regime — but the communications had not yet been “processed” at the time of the strike, the AP reports. After the chemical attack, U.S. intelligence officials looked at satellite footage and other evidence which showed Syrian chemical weapons units preparing for the strike.
A spokesman for the director of national intelligence said that while the satellite footage showed preparations for the attack, the U.S. did not anticipate the chemical weapons strike beforehand. He specified that intelligence officials only saw the footage in the aftermath..
MEXICO CITY — Revelations of a U.S. spy program that allegedly allows digital surveillance of the presidents of Brazil and Mexico have drawn cries of indignation and anger in both nations, but the fallout may be strongest for U.S.-Brazil relations.
At stake is whether Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff will cancel a planned state visit to Washington in October, the first offered by President Barack Obama this year, or will take action on digital security that may affect U.S. companies such as Google, Facebook and Yahoo.
Brazil’s O Globo television network reported Sunday night that the National Security Agency had spied on the emails, telephone calls and text messages of Rousseff and President Enrique Pena Nieto of Mexico. The report was based on documents obtained by journalist Glenn Greenwald, who lives in Rio de Janeiro, from Edward Snowden, a fugitive former NSA contractor who’s living in Moscow.
O Globo’s “Fantastico” program displayed an NSA document dated June 2012 that contained email sent by Pena Nieto, who was a presidential candidate at the time, discussing whom he might name to his Cabinet once elected. The network displayed a separate document that revealed communication patterns between Rousseff and her top advisers.
The revelations drew expressions of indignation in Brazil and Mexico.
Rousseff held an emergency Cabinet meeting..
RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazil’s government summoned the United States ambassador on Monday to respond to new revelations of American surveillance of President Dilma Rousseff and her top aides, complicating relations between the countries ahead of Ms. Rousseff’s state visit to Washington next month.
While senior Brazilian officials expressed indignation over the revelations of spying by the National Security Agency on both Ms. Rousseff and Mexico’s president, Enrique Peña Nieto — reported Sunday on the Globo television network — they stopped short of saying whether Ms. Rousseff’s visit was at risk of being called off.
“This would be an unacceptable violation to our sovereignty, involving our head of state,” José Eduardo Cardozo, Brazil’s justice minister, said in an interview. Mr. Cardozo said that Brazil had requested an explanation from Washington regarding the revelations, emphasizing that he had already proposed in meetings with American officials a legal accord regulating United States intelligence activities in Brazil.
“Something like this would clearly not fit” within such an agreement, Mr. Cardozo said.
The report, based on documents provided by the fugitive N.S.A. contractor Edward J. Snowden to Glenn Greenwald, an American journalist living in Brazil, described how the N.S.A. used different computer programs to filter through communications and gain access to specific e-mails, telephone calls and text messages of Ms. Rousseff’s top aides.
In the case of Mexico’s leader, the Globo report described how the N.S.A. obtained a text message from Mr. Peña Nieto himself in 2012, while he was a candidate for the presidency, that referred to an appointment he planned to make to his staff if elected.
Mexico’s response to the revelations was muted compared with Brazil’s. Mexico’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it was asking the United States in a diplomatic note for an “exhaustive investigation” into the matter, while also summoning the American ambassador to emphasize the government’s position.
Washington has been seeking to enhance its ties with Brazil, Latin America’s largest country, by reaching out to Ms. Rousseff. Her government was already angered by previous revelations that Brazil ranked among the N.S.A.’s most spied-upon countries.
While Brazil maintains generally warm ties with the United States, resentment lingers over the repressive eavesdropping by the military dictatorship from 1964 to 1985..
Russia is sending a reconnaissance ship to the eastern Mediterranean as the US prepares for a possible military strike in Syria, it was reported on Monday.
The Priazovye left Russia's naval base in the Ukrainian Black Sea port of Sevastopol late on Sunday on a mission "to gather current information in the area of the escalating conflict", said an unidentified military source quoted by the Interfax news agency. The defence ministry declined to comment.
Barack Obama said on Saturday he would seek congressional authorisation for punitive military action against Syrian president Bashar al-Assad after what the US says was a sarin gas attack that killed more than 1,400 people.
Russia says the US has not proved its case and that it believes the attack was staged by rebels to provoke intervention in the civil war.
Russia is one of Assad's biggest arms suppliers and has a naval maintenance facility in the Syrian port of Tartous. Moscow opposes any military intervention in Syria and has shielded Damascus from pressure at the UN security council.
Interfax said the Priazovye would be operating separately from a navy unit permanently stationed in the Mediterranean..
The U.S. National Security Agency, or NSA, snooped on the presidents of Brazil and Mexico, Glenn Greenwald, a reporter for The Guardian, who interviewed Edward Snowden and reported in detail about the U.S. government’s surveillance programs, said on Sunday, claiming for the first time that the NSA directly spied on world leaders in their home countries.
Greenwald, who is a U.S. citizen living in Rio de Janeiro, told Brazilian TV channel Globo News that Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto’s emails were intercepted and its contents accessed, according to a document dated June 2012, a month before he was elected president.
The document, however, does not include any intercepted messages from Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, as is the case with Pena Nieto’s, “but it is clear in several ways that her communications were intercepted, including the use of DNI Presenter, which is a program used by NSA to open and read emails and online chats,” Greenwald told Associated Press.
Brazilian Justice Minister Eduardo Cardozo told the newspaper O Globo that “if the facts of the report are confirmed, they would be considered..
U.S. spy agencies have built an intelligence-gathering colossus since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, but remain unable to provide critical information to the president on a range of national security threats, according to the government’s top-secret budget.
The $52.6 billion “black budget” for fiscal 2013, obtained by The Washington Post from former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, maps a bureaucratic and operational landscape that has never been subject to public scrutiny. Although the government has annually released its overall level of intelligence spending since 2007, it has not divulged how it uses the money or how it performs against the goals set by the president and Congress.
The 178-page budget summary for the National Intelligence Program details the successes, failures and objectives of the 16 spy agencies that make up the U.S. intelligence community, which has 107,035 employees.
The summary describes cutting-edge technologies, agent recruiting and ongoing operations. The Post is withholding some information after consultation with U.S. officials who expressed concerns about the risk to intelligence sources and methods. Sensitive details are so pervasive in the documents that The Post is publishing only summary tables and charts online.
“The United States has made a considerable investment in the Intelligence Community since the terror attacks of 9/11, a time which includes wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Arab Spring, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction technology, and asymmetric threats in such areas as cyber-warfare,” Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. wrote in response to inquiries from The Post.
“Our budgets are classified as they could provide insight for foreign intelligence services to discern our top national priorities, capabilities and sources and methods that allow us to obtain information to counter..
Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/black-budget-summary-details-us-spy-networks-successes-failures-and-objectives/2013/08/29/7e57bb78-10ab-11e3-8cdd-bcdc09410972_print.html
The United States' largest rocket launched a spy satellite on a hush-hush mission Wednesday.
An unmanned Delta 4-Heavy rocket lifted off the pad at California's Vandenberg Air Force Base at 2:03 p.m. ET (11:03 p.m. PT) Wednesday, carrying a classified payload into a polar orbit for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office.
"Today's launch is dedicated to the men and women who serve for our nation's freedom," a commentator said a few minutes into the liftoff. [See more photos of the spy satellite launch]
It's unclear what intelligence the spacecraft, which is known as NROL-65, will collect as it zips around our planet. Because of the clandestine nature of the mission, it entered a planned media blackout about seven minutes after liftoff. "We are truly honored to deliver this critical asset to orbit," said Jim Sponnick, United Launch Alliance vice president for the Atlas and Delta programs. "The ULA Delta 4 Heavy is currently the world's largest rocket, providing the nation with reliable, proven heavy-lift capability for our country’s national security payloads from both the east and west coasts."
The Delta 4 Heavy, built by ULA and first flown in 2004, is the biggest and most powerful American rocket in operation today. The 235-foot-tall (72-meter) launcher generates about 2 million..
Positions hardened in the international standoff over Syria, as U.S. officials said privately that a flood of previously undisclosed intelligence, including satellite images and intercepted communications, erased any last administration doubts that the Syrian regime had used chemical weapons against its own people.
French, U.K. and U.S. military officials talked Tuesday about coordinating their response to the alleged attacks.
The current U.S. position, reflected in a set of tough remarks Tuesday by Vice President Joe Biden, represents a dramatic turnaround from last week. As late as Friday, Secretary of State John Kerry was pressuring Syria to let United Nations inspectors visit the affected areas to help determine the veracity of reports of a chemical attack.
Less than 48 hours later came a marked shift in tone. In an email on Sunday, White House National Security Adviser Susan Rice told U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power and other top officials that the U.N. mission was pointless because the chemical weapons evidence already was conclusive, officials said. The U.S. privately urged the U.N. to pull the inspectors out, setting the stage for President Barack Obama to possibly move forward with a military response, officials said.
The weekend turnabout was spurred by new intelligence that convinced Mr. Obama's top national security advisers that forces loyal to Mr. Assad had used chemical weapons and that they were actively trying to cover up evidence of it even while they shelled..
Information obtained by SPIEGEL shows that America's National Security Agency (NSA) not only conducted online surveillance of European citizens, but also appears to have specifically targeted buildings housing European Union institutions. The information appears in secret documents obtained by whistleblower Edward Snowden that SPIEGEL has in part seen. A "top secret" 2010 document describes how the secret service attacked the EU's diplomatic representation in Washington.
The document suggests that in addition to installing bugs in the building in downtown Washington, DC, the European Union representation's computer network was also infiltrated. In this way, the Americans were able to access discussions in EU rooms as well as emails and internal documents on compute
The attacks on EU institutions show yet another level in the broad scope of the NSA's spying activities. For weeks now, new details about Prism and other surveillance programs have been emerging from what had been compiled by whistleblower Snowden. It has also been revealed that the British intelligence service GCHQ operates a similar program under the name Tempora with which global telephone and Internet connections are monitored.
The documents SPIEGEL has seen indicate that the EU representation to the United Nations was attacked in a manner similar to the way surveillance was conducted against its offices in Washington. An NSA document dated September 2010 explicitly names the Europeans as a "location target".
The documents also indicate the US intelligence service was responsible for an electronic eavesdropping operation in Brussels. A little over five years ago, EU security..
Angela Merkel's main rival in the German general election next month has pledged to suspend EU-US trade talks over the National Security Agency spying scandal if he replaces her as chancellor.
In a further sign that the NSA row has soured relations between the US and its European allies, Peer Steinbrück, leader of the Social Democratic party, told ARD TV: "I would interrupt the negotiations until the Americans say if German government offices and European institutions are bugged or wiretapped. We don't know if the Americans may be sitting under our desks with some technical devices." He pledged to press Washington about the spy agency's activities before continuing with the talks about a transatlantic free trade agreement.
His move comes after Germany's Der Spiegel weekly reported that the NSA bugged the United Nations' New York headquarters, with the European Union and the International Atomic Energy Agency among those targeted.
Der Spiegel said files obtained by whistleblower Edward Snowden showed that the NSA spied on the EU in New York after it moved to new rooms in autumn 2012 and that the NSA runs a bugging programme in more than 80 embassies and..