Secret court orders allow NSA to sweep up Americans’ phone records
Verizon had been providing the NSA with virtually all of its customers’ phone records. It soon was revealed that it wasn’t just Verizon, but virtually every other telephone company in America. This revelation is still one of the most controversial ones. Privacy advocates have challenged the legality of the program in court, and one Judge deemed the program unconstitutional and “almost Orwellian,” while another one ruled it legal.
PRISM was the second NSA bombshell, coming less than 24 hours after the first one. Initially, reports described PRISM as the NSA’s program to directly access the servers of U.S tech giants like Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Apple, among others. Its reality was slightly different. PRISM, we soon learned, was less less evil than first thought. In reality, the NSA doesn’t have direct access to the servers, but can request user data from the companies, which are compelled by law to comply.
Britain’s version of the NSA taps fiber optic cables around the world
The British spy agency, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), taps fiber optic cables all over the world to intercept data flowing through the global Internet, we learned. The GCHQ works closely with the NSA, sharing data and intelligence in a program that’s codenamed Tempora. Tempora is one of the key NSA/GCHQ programs, allowing the spy agencies to collect vasts troves of data, but for some reason, it has sometimes been overlooked. After a couple of months from the Tempora revelation, a German newspaper revealed the names of the companies that collaborate with the GCHQ in the Tempora program: Verizon Business, British Telecommunications, Vodafone Cable, Global Crossing, Level 3, Viatel and Interoute.
NSA spies on foreign countries and world leaders
NSA targets at least 122 world leaders. Other stories over the past years have named specific targets like German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Brazil’s President Dilma Roussef, and Mexico’s former President Felipe Calderon, the French Foreign Ministry, as well as leaders at the 2010 G8 and G20 summits in Toronto.
XKeyscore, the program that sees everything
XKeyscore is a tool the NSA uses to search “nearly everything a user does on the Internet” through data it intercepts across the world. In leaked documents, the NSA describes it as the “widest-reaching” system to search through Internet data.
NSA efforts to crack encryption and undermine Internet security
NSA has a developed a series of techniques and tricks to circumvent widely used web encryption technologies. The NSA, however, isn’t able to compromise the encryption algorithms underlying these technologies. Instead, it circumvents or undermines them, forcing companies to install backdoors, hacking into servers and computers, or promoting the use weaker algorithms. In any case, technologists were alarmed. “Even as the NSA demands more powers to invade our privacy in the name of cybersecurity, it is making the Internet less secure and exposing us to criminal hacking, foreign espionage, and unlawful surveillance. The NSA’s efforts to secretly defeat encryption are recklessly shortsighted and will further erode not only the United States’ reputation as a global champion of civil liberties and privacy but the economic competitiveness of its largest companies,” Christopher Soghoian, principal technologist at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said at the time.
NSA elite hacking team techniques revealed
The NSA has at its disposal an elite hacker team codenamed “Tailored Access Operations” (TAO) that hacks into computers worldwide, infects them with malware and does the dirty job when other surveillance tactics fail. Der Spiegel, which detailed TAO’s secrets, labelled it as “a squad of plumbers that can be called in when normal access to a target is blocked.” But they can probably be best described as the NSA’s black bag operations team. TAO comes in for specific, targeted operations when the NSA can’t find intelligence or needs more detailed information on a target through its bulk surveillance programs. Before Snowden, most of their operations and techniques were shrouded in secrecy, and their secrets make for one of the most fascinating revelations.
NSA cracks Google and Yahoo data center links
When bulk collection or PRISM fails, the NSA had other tricks up its sleeve: It could infiltrate links connecting Yahoo and Google data centers, behind the companies’ backs. This revelation was made famous mostly by a Power Point slide that included a celebratory smiley face. This story truly enraged the tech companies, which reacted with much more fury than before. Google and Yahoo announced plans to strengthen and encrypt those links to avoid this kind of surveillance, and a Google security employee even said on his Google+ account what many others must have thought privately: “Fuck these guys.”
NSA collects text messages
The NSA, following its unofficial motto of “collecting it all,” intercepts 200 million text messages every day worldwide through a program called Dishfire. In leaked documents, the agency described the collected messages as a “goldmine to exploit” for all kinds of personal data. Other documents also revealed that the NSA can “easily” crack cellphone encryption, allowing the agency to more easily decode and access the content of intercepted calls and text messages.
NSA intercepts all phone calls in two countries
The NSA intercepts and stores all phone calls made in the Bahamas and Afghanistan through a program called MYSTIC, which has its own snazzy logo. The Bahamas was revealed by The Intercept, Greenwald’s new website, while the second was revealed by WikiLeaks, which protested The Intercept‘s decision to withhold the second country’s name. The NSA also collects all phone calls’ metadata in Mexico, Kenya and the Philippines.
And this is what they say about Snowden
Telling a newspaper in China that the United States government spied on Chinese computers isn’t “revealing unconstitutional surveillance of Americans”. Writing an “open letter” trying to get Brazil to grant him political asylum by offering to help Brazil investigate United States surveillance, because Snowden leaked information about the U.S. spying on the Brazilian government, isn’t “standing up for the Constitutional rights of Americans.” Saying that the NSA is “in bed” with Germany and other governments, working together on elaborate surveillance programs, isn’t “protecting the freedom of American citizens.” Leaking documents showing that Sweden has helped the United States spy on Russia isn’t “being a patriot.” Producing documents that reveal details on how the NSA gets some of its intelligence on the location of dangerous terrorists isn’t “being a passionate supporter of our Bill of Rights.” Revealing that the United States uses cyber-attacks as an “intelligence weapon” for overseas targets has nothing to do with our Constitution. Neither did producing documents that showed the British government set up surveillance of G20 delegates and phones during the G20 summit in 2009. Last I checked, countries in Latin America weren’t protected by our Constitution either – yet Snowden still leaked information about how the NSA listens in on phone calls in many of those nations. Can’t say I see any connection to our Constitution in Snowden’s leak of documents pertaining to al-Qaeda’s efforts to shoot down or hack our drones. I’ll admit that I’m not a Constitutional scholar, but I’m pretty sure French citizens aren’t protected by our Constitution. Neither are Norwegians. And I have no idea what Canada’s intelligence gathering has to do with American rights. Though I’m fairly certain revealing that the NSA helped the Dutch spy on Somalia has absolutely nothing to do with the Constitution. I’ll go ahead and stop there. There were plenty of other examples (such as the United States government hacking the German chancellor’s phone and spying on the Mexican president) but I think I made my point. So even if you’re on the side of believing that he’s a “patriot” for revealing that the NSA has been unconstitutionally and illegally spying on Americans – that doesn’t recuse him of being a traitor. The fact is that he illegally stole this information and much of what he took, and subsequently leaked, has nothing to do with our Constitution or the rights of Americans.
So, Edward Snowden protects American citizens and all they have to say is:
The fact is that he illegally stole this information and much of what he took, and subsequently leaked, has nothing to do with our Constitution or the rights of Americans.
What about these:
First Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Collecting all data from everyone of the planet, or just in the U.S., is abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.
Second Amendment: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
Collecting all data on every citizen infringes upon your privacy to buy a gun, they now know who is armed, by collecting all the records.
Third Amendment: No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
Collecting all data on every citizen is done by government personnel listening to all your communications, that is without the consent of the Owner, they are in your house electronically.
Fourth Amendment: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Collecting all data on every citizen infringes on the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.
Fifth Amendment: No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
Collecting all data from everyone breaks this law.
Sixth Amendment: In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.
Collecting all data on every citizen does not inform the party of the nature and cause of the accusation.
Seventh Amendment: In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
Collecting all data on every citizen does not conform to the rules of the common law.
Eighth Amendment: Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
Collecting all data on every citizen and manipulating that data, results in unusual punishments inflicted.
Ninth Amendment: The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
Collecting all data on every citizen construes to deny or disparage others.
Tenth Amendment: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
Collecting all data on every citizen is not delegated to the United States by the Constitution and takes away the States rights.