Category: SECRET SERVICES

Merkel and Hollande to discuss European communication network avoiding U.S.

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BERLIN (Reuters) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Saturday she would talk to French President Francois Hollande about building up a European communication network to avoid emails and other data passing through the United States.

Merkel, who visits France on Wednesday, has been pushing for greater data protection in Europe following reports last year about mass surveillance in Germany and elsewhere by the U.S. National Security Agency. Even Merkel's cell phone was reportedly monitored by American spies.

Merkel said in her weekly podcast that she disapproved of companies such as Google and Facebook basing their operations in countries with low levels of data protection while being active in countries such as Germany with high data protection.

"We'll talk with France about how we can maintain a high level of data protection," Merkel said.

"Above all, we'll talk about European providers that offer security for our citizens, so that one shouldn't have to send emails and other information across the Atlantic. Rather, one could build up a communication network inside Europe."

Hollande's office confirmed that the governments had been discussing the matter and said Paris agreed with Berlin's proposals.

"Now that the German government is formed, it is important that we take up the initiative..

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/r-merkel-and-hollande-to-discuss-european-communication-network-avoiding-us-2014-15#ixzz2tUjqtR5U

Three former NSA workers accused of aiding Snowden

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WASHINGTON — Three people at the National Security Agency have been implicated in Edward Snowden's efforts to copy classified material, including a civilian employee who resigned last month after acknowledging he allowed Snowden to use his computer ID, according to an NSA memo sent to Congress.

The other two were an active-duty member of the military and a civilian contractor. The memo does not describe their conduct, but says they were barred from the NSA and its systems in August.

The memo from the director of the NSA's legislative affairs office, Ethan L. Bauman, to the House Judiciary Committee staff does not identify the three or say whether they all worked with Snowden at an NSA post in Hawaii last year. But it offers a glimpse into the internal investigation of what intelligence officials have called the largest theft of classified material in U.S. history.

The NSA employee who resigned did not know that Snowden, an agency contractor employed by the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton, planned to reveal classified NSA operations and systems to the media. But the employee admitted to the FBI in June that he had used his Public Key Infrastructure certificate, a special digital ID, to give Snowden access to material he was not authorized to see on an internal network called NSA Net.

The employee used his password to sign onto the network and Snowden secretly captured the password without the employee's knowledge, Bauman wrote, and later used it to download additional material.

The employee had his security clearance revoked in November and resigned on Jan. 10, according to the memo. Bauman's memo was first reported Thursday by NBC News.

An NSA spokeswoman declined to comment Friday.

Snowden, who is living in Moscow, has denied that he stole colleagues' passwords to gain access to classified documents. U.S. officials have confirmed reports that he used..

Read more: http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-nsa-snowden-20140215,0,5511751.story#ixzz2tQJhiXYP

Spying by NSA US Law Firm

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The list of those caught up in the global surveillance net cast by the National Security Agency and its overseas partners, from social media users to foreign heads of state, now includes another entry: American lawyers.

A top-secret document, obtained by the former N.S.A. contractor Edward J. Snowden, shows that an American law firm was monitored while representing a foreign government in trade disputes with the United States. The disclosure offers a rare glimpse of a specific instance in which Americans were ensnared by the eavesdroppers, and is of particular interest because lawyers in the United States with clients overseas have expressed growing concern that their confidential communications could be compromised by such surveillance.

The government of Indonesia had retained the law firm for help in trade talks, according to the February 2013 document. It reports that the N.S.A.’s Australian counterpart, the Australian Signals Directorate, notified the agency that it was conducting surveillance of the talks, including communications between Indonesian officials and the American law firm, and offered to share the information..

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/16/us/eavesdropping-ensnared-american-law-firm.html?_r=0

Snowden Swiped Password From NSA Coworker

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A civilian NSA employee recently resigned after being stripped of his security clearance for allowing former agency contractor Edward Snowden to use his personal log-in credentials to access classified information, according to an agency memo obtained by NBC News.

In addition, an active duty member of the U.S. military and a contractor have been barred from accessing National Security Agency facilities after they were “implicated” in actions that may have aided Snowden, the memo states. Their status is now being reviewed by their employers, the memo says.

The Feb. 10 memo, sent to congressional intelligence and judiciary committees this week, provides the first official account of a sweeping NSA internal inquiry aimed at identifying intelligence officials and contractors who may been responsible for one of the biggest security breaches in U.S. history. The memo is unclassified but labeled “for official use only.”

While the memo’s account is sketchy, it suggests that, contrary to Snowden’s statements, he used an element of trickery to retrieve his trove of tens of thousands of classified documents: “At Snowden’s request,” the civilian NSA employee, who is not identified by name, entered his password onto Snowden’s computer terminal, the memo states.

“Unbeknownst to the civilian, Mr. Snowden was able to capture the password, allowing him even greater access to classified information,” the memo states.

The memo states that the civilian employee was unaware that Snowden “intended to unlawfully disclose classified information.” Nevertheless, by sharing with Snowden his personal “public key..

Read more: http://www.nbcnews.com/news/investigations/exclusive-snowden-swiped-password-nsa-coworker-n29006

 

 

 

 

Edward Snowden asylum demand dropped by European parliament

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The European parliament is to ditch demands on Wednesday that EU governments give guarantees of asylum and security to Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency whistleblower.

The parliament's civil liberties committee is to vote on more than 500 amendments to the first ever parliamentary inquiry into the NSA and GCHQ scandal, a 60-page report that is damning about the scale and the impact of mass surveillance.

But there is no consensus on an amendment proposed by the Greens calling on EU governments to assure Snowden of his safety in the event that he emerges from hiding in Russia and comes to Europe.

Amid what key MEPs have described as intense pressure from national governments on parliament – from the Conservatives and their allies, from the mainstream centre-right and from social democrats – the asylum call has no chance of passing.

"The amendment asking for asylum won't go through," said Claude Moraes, the British Labour MEP who is the principal author of the report. "That was a red line for the right. There was never going to be a realistic majority for that."

The proposed change to the report would have read: "[Parliament] calls on EU member states to drop criminal charges, if any, against Edward Snowden and to offer him protection from prosecution, extradition or rendition by third parties, in recognition of his status as whistleblower and international human rights defender."

Instead the report will call for international protection for whistleblowers without mentioning Snowden by name. Another amendment calling on the Americans not to prosecute Snowden is also unlikely to be adopted, parliamentary sources said.

"The only reason for this whole thing is Snowden and now he doesn't get mentioned. It's ridiculous," said Jan-Philip Albrecht, a German Green and co-author of the amendment.

The failure to make Snowden-specific demands..

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/12/edward-snowden-nsa-asylum-demand-european-parliament

EU pushes for less US control of the internet amid outrage over NSA spying

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The EU is challenging US control of the internet today with fresh proposals aimed at decentralizing authority. While there have been concerns over US control for years, today’s proposals follow widespread shock over the US surveillance activities of the NSA. The EU appears to be playing to those concerns, suggesting that the US-centric model of internet governance needs to transition to a global one.

The EU’s proposals call for more transparency, accountability, and inclusive governance about how the internet is managed and run. Russia, China, and other nations have pushed for changes that would transfer duties such as domain name allocation away from ICANN, the US nonprofit organization that’s responsible for some of the web’s key infrastructure. UN agency International Telecommunication Union put together wide-ranging proposals for more global internet control, but they were previously rejected by US, Canada, Australia, and UK governments. One particular fear is that internationalization of internet governance could lead to more situations where countries filter the web unnecessarily. NSA concerns have also spurred many governments to pursue stronger data-protection laws, increasing concerns that the internet could become divided along national borders.

While there appears to be broad agreement that internet governance should be more global, the EU rejects the specific UN proposals. "I agree that governments have a crucial role to play, but top-down approaches are not the right answer," says European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes. "We must strengthen the multi-stakeholder model to preserve the internet as a fast engine for..

Read more: http://www.theverge.com/2014/2/12/5403988/eu-pushes-for-less-us-internet-control-global-governance

Snowden Docs: British Spies Used Sex and ‘Dirty Tricks’

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British spies have developed “dirty tricks” for use against nations, hackers, terror groups, suspected criminals and arms dealers that include releasing computer viruses, spying on journalists and diplomats, jamming phones and computers, and using sex to lure targets into “honey traps.”

Documents taken from the National Security Agency by Edward Snowden and exclusively obtained by NBC News describe techniques developed by a secret British spy unit called the Joint Threat Research and Intelligence Group (JTRIG) as part of a growing mission to go on offense and attack adversaries ranging from Iran to the hacktivists of Anonymous. According to the documents, which come from presentations prepped in 2010 and 2012 for NSA cyber spy conferences, the agency’s goal was to “destroy, deny, degrade [and] disrupt” enemies by “discrediting” them, planting misinformation and shutting down their communications.

Both PowerPoint presentations describe “Effects” campaigns that are broadly divided into two categories: cyber attacks and propaganda operations. The propaganda campaigns use deception, mass messaging and “pushing stories” via Twitter, Flickr, Facebook and YouTube. JTRIG also uses “false flag” operations, in which British agents carry out online actions that are designed to look like they were performed by one of Britain’s adversaries.

 

 

In connection with this report, NBC is publishing documents that Edward Snowden took from the NSA before fleeing the U.S., which can be viewed by clicking here and here. The documents are being published with minimal redactions.

The spy unit’s cyber attack methods include the same “denial of service” or..

Read more: http://www.nbcnews.com/news/investigations/snowden-docs-british-spies-used-sex-dirty-tricks-n23091

Swiss govt tightens computer security amid NSA spying concerns

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Citing worries about foreign surveillance efforts, the government of Switzerland has ordered tighter control methods on its own computer and phone technology systems in order to prevent Swiss communications from being monitored.

The Swiss Federal Council, a seven-member committee that serves as the head of the Swiss government and is responsible for enacting federal policy, admitted concern about other governments spying on official communications within Switzerland.

A government statement as quoted by the Associated Press indicated that future contracts for IT infrastructure will “where possible, only be given to companies that act exclusively according to Swiss law, where a majority of the ownership is in Switzerland and which provides all of its services within Switzerland's borders.”

The legislation covers contracts with the military, along with mobile phones and computers.

Wednesday's announcement comes after the Swiss Federal Prosecutor's office launched a criminal investigation based on the “genuine suspicion” that foreign entities conducted surveillance in Switzerland. The Swiss News Agency reported in December that article 271 of the Swiss penal code, which includes punishable acts by a foreign state, had been broken.

Various clarifications are under way, and will be later examined,” one official said at the time.

That probe was ordered after NSA revelations emerged from whistleblower Edward Snowden. Along with documents detailing major American covert surveillance operations conducted throughout the world, Snowden told the Guardian newspaper that he had worked in Geneva, Switzerland in 2007.

Working for the Central Intelligence Agency under the guise of a US diplomat, Snowden said that it was in Geneva where he first encountered the vast scope of the American intelligence apparatus. Snowden said it was a “formative” moment and the first time he questioned the “rightness” of the US intelligence effort.

He also claimed that, as part of..

Read more: http://rt.com/news/swiss-security-nsa-spying-concerns-774/

US Tech Titans Reveal New Data About NSA Snooping

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Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Microsoft and LinkedIn have for the first time released new data about U.S. information requests made under the Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Act (FISA), the controversial law that facilitates several of the National Security Agency’s most secret surveillance programs. The new disclosures, which reveal that tens of thousands of user accounts were affected in 2013 alone, come one week after the tech titans struck an agreement with the government to be more transparent about such requests — a deal that privacy advocates and civil liberties watchdogs say doesn’t go far enough.

Echoing those concerns, Google and LinkedIn on Monday called for even greater transparency, because the agreement with the government only allows the companies to disclose data in broad numerical ranges of 1000, or in some cases 250. As one might expect, the new FISA data reports, which require a six-month lag, are filled with items published as 0-999, which means the actual figure could be one, or 999. Microsoft went even further still, calling for the government to renounce secret attempts to hack into the data networks that connect tech company facilities, reports of which have infuriated industry executives.

The new data disclosures are the result of a legal battle over transparency waged by the tech giants against the Justice Dept. following revelations by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who leaked documents to the press describing the role of tech and telecom companies in secret U.S. surveillance programs. The tech companies were particularly stung by disclosures about a classified U.S. intelligence system called PRISM, which the NSA has used to examine user content — including e-mails, videos and online chats — via requests made under FISA. As part of the agreement, the tech companies have dropped,,

 

Read more: Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Microsoft and LinkedIn Release New NSA Data | TIME.com http://business.time.com/2014/02/03/tech-titans-nsa/#ixzz2sLWItOsF

Hackers sue Merkel & entire German govt over NSA spying

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Europe’s largest association of hackers has filed a criminal complaint against the German government for aiding foreign spying by NSA and GCHQ, and violating the right to citizens’ privacy, basing their case on leaks by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The Chaos Computer Club (CCC) in cooperation with the International League for Human Rights (ILMR) filed the complaint with the German Federal Prosecutor General's office on Monday.

“We accuse US, British and German secret agents, their supervisors, the German Minister of the Interior as well as the German Chancellor of illegal and prohibited covert intelligence activities, of aiding and abetting of those activities, of violation of the right to privacy and obstruction of justice in office by bearing and cooperating with the electronic surveillance of German citizens by NSA and GCHQ, ” the group said in a statement on its website.

The CCC also called for former NSA contractor Edward Snowden to be invited to give testimony as a witness, and that he should “be provided safe passage to Germany” and “protection against extradition to the US.”

The hackers added that after Snowden’s revelations about US global spying activities they “now have certainty” that German and other foreign intelligence services have broken German criminal law.

The criminal complaint is meant to spark a "long-overdue investigation by federal prosecutors" into alleged law-breaking by government officials and foreign intelligence agencies.

"Every citizen is affected by the massive surveillance of their private communications. Our laws protect us and threaten those responsible for such surveillance with punishment. Therefore an investigation by the Federal Prosecutor General is necessary and mandatory by law – and a matter of course. It is unfortunate that those responsible and the circumstances of their crimes have not been investigated," CCC member and attorney Julius Mittenzwei said on the group’s website.

The group accused government offices of being unwilling to help investigate the crimes, adding that CCC and the ILHR wanted “to bring to light more information about the illegal activities of German and foreign secret services” and bring the offenders “to account.”

The Federal Prosecutor’s Office is to process http://rt.com/news/hackers-sue-german-government-584/

A post-NSA partnership

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After the NSA affair led to a diplomatic chill, representatives of Germany and the US are now talking about their shared values at the Munich Security Conference​​. But the question is: How can these values ​​prevail?

 

It has been 60 years, US Secretary of State John Kerry recalled, since he sat in the train to Berlin as a young boy in the early 1950s. He had to cross the inter-German border to arrive in the divided city. "I can remember guns rapping on the windows of my train when I dared to lift the blinds and try to look out and see what was on the other side."

In Berlin, where his father worked at the time, he rode his bike through the streets of the still-devastated city. Occasionally he encountered signs that proclaimed that a building had been rebuilt with funds from the Marshall Plan.

Referring to his colleague sitting next to him, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, he said, "Chuck and I feel this Atlantic relationship very much in our bones. Both of our families emigrated to the United States from Europe, and both of our fathers signed up to fight tyranny and totalitarianism in World War II. And we both watched the Berlin Wall go up as we grew up, and we grew up as Cold War kids."

Transatlantic renaissance

Kerry's and Hagel's speeches at the beginning of the second day of the Munich Security Conference were a sort of counterpoint to the poisoned atmosphere in the wake of the NSA affair that had burdened EU-US relations in recent months. They emphasized how strong the underlying foundation of the relationship still is. The two politicians' sophistication was supposed to present an image of an America beyond the digital superpower that apparently..

Read more: http://www.dw.de/a-post-nsa-partnership/a-17403496

How Edward Snowden went from loyal NSA contractor to whistleblower

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In late December 2001, someone calling themselves TheTrueHOOHA had a question. He was an 18-year-old American male with impressive IT skills and a sharp intelligence. His real identity was unknown. Everyone who posted on Ars Technica, a popular technology website, did so anonymously.

TheTrueHOOHA wanted to set up his own web server. It was a Saturday morning, a little after 11am. He posted: "It's my first time. Be gentle. Here's my dilemma: I want to be my own host. What do I need?"

Soon, regular users were piling in with helpful suggestions. TheTrueHOOHA replied: "Ah, the vast treasury of geek knowledge that is Ars." He would become a prolific contributor; over the next eight years, he authored nearly 800 comments. He described himself variously as "unemployed", a failed soldier, a "systems editor", and someone who had US State Department security clearance.

His home was on the east coast of America in the state of Maryland, near Washington DC. But by his mid-20s he was already an international man of mystery. He popped up in Europe – in Geneva, London, Ireland, Italy and Bosnia. He travelled to India. Despite having no degree, he knew an astonishing amount about computers. His politics appeared staunchly Republican. He believed strongly in personal liberty, defending, for example, Australians who farmed cannabis plants.

At times he could be rather obnoxious. He called one fellow-Arsian, for example, a "cock"; others who disagreed with his sink-or-swim views on social security were "fucking retards".

His chat logs cover a colourful array of themes: gaming, girls, sex, Japan, the stock market, his disastrous stint in the US army, his negative impressions of multiracial Britain (he was shocked by the number of..

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/01/edward-snowden-intelligence-leak-nsa-contractor-extract

German government faces legal action over NSA spying

German Chancellor Merkel holds a BlackBerry Z10 smartphone featuring high security Secusite software at the booth of Secusmart during her opening tour at the CeBit computer fair in Hanover

The German government and the German Federal Intelligence Service are facing legal action because they allegedly aided the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) data collection program.

“We will send the legal action to the authorities next Monday,” said Constanze Kurz, a German computer scientist and spokeswoman for the Chaos Computer Club (CCC), in an email on Wednesday.

“There are several persons as well as organizations which are suing our government and other named persons in charge,” she said, adding that one of them is the International League for Human Rights, a German section of the International Federation for Human Rights.

The complainants will bring charges over the alleged involvement of the German government in the NSA spying programs, she said. “That is one reason,” she said, adding that the action was also started “because they did not even try to stop them from tapping into phones, hacking and spying on computers and collecting massive amounts of data although we have clearly laws that forbid foreign espionage.”

Kurz said the legal complaint will comprise more than 50 pages, and will be published Monday.

The German government and the German Federal Intelligence Service (BND) have been cooperating closely with the NSA and have used spy software provided by the NSA, according to a July report from Der Spiegel based on documents leaked by Edward Snowden.

According to those documents, the BND, the German Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) and the German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) played a central role in the exchange of information among intelligence agencies referred to by the NSA as “key partners”, Der Spiegel..

Read more: http://www.pcworld.com/article/2092520/german-government-faces-legal-action-over-nsa-spying.html

Snowden Docs: U.S. Spied on Negotiators At 2009 Climate Summit

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WASHINGTON — The National Security Agency monitored the communications of other governments ahead of and during the 2009 United Nations climate negotiations in Copenhagen, Denmark, according to the latest document from whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The document, with portions marked "top secret," indicates that the NSA was monitoring the communications of other countries ahead of the conference, and intended to continue doing so throughout the meeting. Posted on an internal NSA website on Dec. 7, 2009, the first day of the Copenhagen summit, it states that "analysts here at NSA, as well as our Second Party partners, will continue to provide policymakers with unique, timely, and valuable insights into key countries' preparations and goals for the conference, as well as the deliberations within countries on climate change policies and negotiation strategies."

"Second Party partners" refers to the intelligence agencies of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, with which the U.S. has an intelligence-sharing relationship. "While the outcome of the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference remains uncertain, signals intelligence will undoubtedly play a significant role in keeping our negotiators as well informed as possible throughout the 2-week event," the document says.

The Huffington Post published the documents Wednesday night in coordination with the Danish daily newspaper Information, which worked with American journalist Laura Poitras.

The December 2009 meeting in Copenhagen was the 15th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which brings together 195 countries to negotiate measures to address rising greenhouse gas emissions and their impact. The Copenhagen summit was the first big climate meeting after the election of President Barack Obama, and was widely expected to yield a significant breakthrough. Other major developed nations were already part of the 1997 Kyoto..

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/29/snowden-nsa-surveillance-_n_4681362.html

Edward Snowden tells German TV that NSA is involved in industrial espionage

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The National Security Agency is involved in industrial espionage and will take intelligence regardless of its value to national security, the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden has told a German television network. 

In a lengthy interview broadcast on the public broadcaster ARD TV on Sunday,  Snowden said the NSA did not limit its espionage to issues of national security and cited the German engineering firm Siemens as one target. 

“If there's information at Siemens that's beneficial to US national interests – even if it doesn't have anything to do with national security – then they'll take that information nevertheless,” Snowden said in the interview conducted in Russia, where Snowden has claimed asylum. 

Snowden also told the German public broadcasting network he no longer had possession of any documents or information on NSA activities and had turned everything over to select journalists. He said he did not have any control over the publication of the information. 

Questions about US government spying on civilians and foreign officials arose last June, when Snowden leaked documents outlining the widespread collection of telephone records and email to media outlets including the Guardian

Reports that the NSA monitored Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone have added to anger in Germany, which has been pushing for a “no-spy” agreement with the US, a country it considers to be among its closest allies. 

Snowden also talked about US reports..

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/26/edward-snowden-nsa-industrial-sabotage

 

NSA leaker Edward Snowden says U.S. return ‘not possible’ given current laws

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(CNN) — Edward Snowden douses the idea of his returning to the United States — where he faces charges of espionage and theft of government property for leaking sensational details of spy programs — saying he won't come back unless laws are changed.

Asked by CNN's Jake Tapper in an online chat Thursday about conditions for a return home, Snowden said that while his coming back "is the best resolution" for all parties, "it's unfortunately not possible in the face of current whistle-blower protection laws."

He pointed out that the government's Whistleblower Protection Act doesn't cover someone like him, a former government contractor.

"There are so many holes in the laws, the protections they afford are so weak, and the processes for reporting they provide are so ineffective that they appear to be intended to discourage reporting of even the clearest wrongdoing," he wrote. "… My case clearly demonstrates the need for comprehensive whistle-blower protection act reform."

Snowden offered his remarks from Russia, where he's been since June having been granted a one-year asylum.

From there, he has continued to speak out to journalists and online. Thursday's chat — coordinated by The Courage Foundation, an organization set up to support Snowden and his cause — was one example of his outreach, letting him answer questions from anyone who posed a question online.

The U.S. government hasn't stayed silent on his case either. On Thursday, around the time that Snowden was answering questions..

Read more: http://edition.cnn.com/2014/01/23/us/edward-snowden/

The hidden history of the CIA’s prison in Poland

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On a cold day in early 2003, two senior CIA officers arrived at the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw to pick up a pair of large cardboard boxes. Inside were bundles of cash totaling $15 million that had been flown from Germany via diplomatic pouch.

The men put the boxes in a van and weaved through the Polish capital until coming to the headquarters of Polish intelligence. They were met by Col. ­Andrzej Derlatka, deputy chief of the intelligence service, and two of his associates.

The Americans and Poles then sealed an agreement that over the previous weeks had allowed the CIA the use of a secret prison — a remote villa in the Polish lake district — to interrogate al-Qaeda suspects. The Polish intelligence service received the money, and the CIA had a solid location for its newest covert operation, according to former agency officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the interrogation program, including previously unreported details about the creation of the CIA’s “black sites,” or secret prisons.

The CIA prison in Poland was arguably the most important of all the black sites created by the agency after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. It was the first of a trio in Europe that housed the initial wave of accused Sept. 11 conspirators, and it was where Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-declared mastermind of the attacks, was waterboarded 183 times after his capture.

Much about the creation and operation of the CIA’s prison at a base in one of the young democracies of Central Europe remains cloaked in mystery, matters that the U.S. government has classified as state secrets. But what happened in..

Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/the-hidden-history-of-the-cias-prison-in-poland/2014/01/23/b77f6ea2-7c6f-11e3-95c6-0a7aa80874bc_story.html

Watchdog Report Says N.S.A. Program Is Illegal and Should End

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WASHINGTON — An independent federal privacy watchdog has concluded that the National Security Agency’s program to collect bulk phone call records has provided only “minimal” benefits in counterterrorism efforts, is illegal and should be shut down.

The findings are laid out in a 238-page report, scheduled for release by Thursday and obtained by The New York Times, that represent the first major public statement by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, which Congress made an independent agency in 2007 and only recently became fully operational.

The report is likely to inject a significant new voice into the debate over surveillance, underscoring that the issue was not settled by a high-profile speech President Obama gave last week. Mr. Obama consulted with the board, along with a separate review group that last month delivered its own report about surveillance policies. But while he said in his speech that he was tightening access to the data and declared his intention to find a way to end government collection of the bulk records, he said the program’s capabilities should be preserved.

The Obama administration has portrayed the bulk collection program as useful and lawful while at the same time acknowledging concerns about privacy and potential abuse. But in its report, the board lays out what may be the most detailed critique of the government’s once-secret legal theory behind the program: that a law known as Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which allows the F.B.I. to obtain business records deemed “relevant” to an investigation, can be legitimately interpreted as authorizing the N.S.A. to collect all calling records in the country.

The program “lacks a viable legal foundation under Section 215, implicates constitutional concerns under the First and Fourth Amendments, raises serious threats to privacy and civil liberties as a policy matter, and has shown only limited value,” the report said. “As a result, the board recommends that the government end the program.”

While a majority of the five-member board embraced that conclusion, two members dissented from the view that the program was illegal. But the panel was united in 10 other recommendations, including deleting raw phone records after three years instead of five and tightening access to search results.

The report also sheds light on the history of the once-secret bulk collection program. It..

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/23/us/politics/watchdog-report-says-nsa-program-is-illegal-and-should-end.html?_r=0

Independent commission to investigate future of internet after NSA revelations

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A major independent commission headed by the Swedish foreign minister, Carl Bildt, was launched on Wednesday to investigate the future of the internet in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations.

The two-year inquiry, announced at the World Economic Forum at Davos, will be wide-ranging but focus primarily on state censorship of the internet as well as the issues of privacy and surveillance raised by the Snowden leaks about America's NSA and Britain's GCHQ spy agencies.

The investigation, which will conducted by a 25-member panel of politicians, academics, former intelligence officials and others from around the world, is an acknowledgement of the concerns about freedom raised by the debate.

Bildt, the former Swedish prime minister, said: "The rapid evolution of the net has been made possible by the open and flexible model by which it has evolved and been governed. But increasingly this is coming under attack.

"And this is happening as issues of net freedom, net security and net surveillance are increasingly debated. Net freedom is as fundamental as freedom of information and freedom of speech in our societies."

The Obama administration on Friday announced the initial findings of a White House-organised review of the NSA. There are also inquiries..

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/22/independent-commission-future-internet-nsa-revelations-davos

Snowden denies receiving assistance from Russian intelligence with NSA leaks

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Former National Security Agen­­cy contractor Edward Snowden denied accusations that he was working for a foreign government when he stole countless classified documents detailing U.S. surveillance programs and efforts to gather information on world leaders.

In an interview with the New Yorker, published Tuesday evening on the magazine’s Web site, Snowden said claims that he may have been working for the Russians as a spy were “absurd.”

On NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, called Snowden a “thief.” Rogers said he believed somebody must have helped Snowden steal the documents.

Rogers rejected the notion that it was a coincidence that Snowden eventually found refuge in Russia. But the lawmaker offered no proof that Snowden was working in concert with Russian intelligence.

Snowden told the magazine that he “clearly and unambiguously acted alone, with no assistance from anyone, much less a government.” He said the allegations wouldn’t “stick,” adding that they were false and that “the American people are smarter than politicians think they are.”

The CIA’s Counterintelligence Center has been conducting an exhaustive investigation to determine whether Snowden had help or whether someone assisted him unwittingly. So far, the CIA and the FBI have not turned up evidence that another country recruited Snowden to take the documents.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, also did not rule out that Snowden received assistance. “He may well have,” she said on “Meet the Press.”

Speaking from Moscow, Snowden said, “It’s not..

Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/snowden-denies-receiving-assistance-from-russian-intelligence-with-nsa-leaks/2014/01/21/a85cca18-830a-11e3-9dd4-e7278db80d86_story.html