Tag Archives: spying

The NSA’s House of Cards Is Crumbling: Their German Double Agent Just Got Arrested

A man identified by media as a German intelligence officer was arrested this past Wednesday (7/2/2014) on charges of leaking information to the U.S.’s National Security Agency (NSA).

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has so far declined comment on the arrest, but her spokesman Steffen Seibert called the issue a serious matter, adding,

“I will have to leave the conclusions to you.”

German media hasn’t been so mute. Though they refuse to release their sources, a number of news outlets have reported that the man works for the German foreign intelligence service BND.

One of the gates into the BND headquarters

The double agent reportedly told German interrogators that the Americans were particularly interested in information about the German parliamentary inquiry into the activities of the NSA following the revelations that one of the victims of the NSA hacking scandal had been Chancellor Merkel herself.

The popular Bild newspaper reported that the man had been working as a double agent for two years, meeting with American officials at least three times in Austria during that span.

The double agent was reportedly paid $34,000 for hundreds of documents he passed on to the NSA. 218 of these stolen files were found on a thumb drive at the agent’s home.

Click to enlarge

German media adds that if the allegations are true, this is,

 “the biggest scandal involving a German—American double agent since the war.”

So far, the only American response was a short, “no comment” from the National Security Committee’s spokeswoman in Washington.

You would think the NSA would’ve at least tried to be a bit more careful in how they handled such a delicate operation.

It’s hard to ignore the irony of the agency getting caught spying on an investigation that was about them spying in the first place.

Meanwhile, our global image will take yet another hit because of a government agency that has shown a lack of respect for the citizens it’s supposed to protect as well the countries who are supposed to be our allies.

Read the original story from the National Post here.

WikiLeaks Reveals the Other “Mystery” Country Under Total NSA Phone Surveillance: Afghanistan

This past Tuesday, The Higher Learning reported on an article from The Intercept which revealed (via documents released to them by Edward Snowden) that the NSA has been monitoring and recording virtually every single phone conversation in the Bahamas.

In their article, The Intercept admitted that the documents named another country as also being monitored under this extremely invasive program, but chose not to release the identity of the country because they worried that the revelation would almost certainly cause deaths.

Despite their worries, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange vowed that his organization would reveal the identity of the mystery country. Yesterday, he delivered on his promise:

The revelation has sparked worry amongst the intelligence community, who don’t believe that WikiLeaks has full access to the Snowden documents.

It’s still unclear whether someone sent them a copy of the documents or whether they just got a tip from someone working with The Intercept. The leak site Cryptome even suggested that WikiLeaks may have just assumed that Afghanistan was the mystery country based off other already public information.

The MYSTIC Program was also collecting metadata from Mexico, Kenya and the Philippines

I must say I don’t think many people will be shocked to hear that the NSA has Afghanistan under heavy surveillance. Personally, I think the surveillance in the Bahamas is much more odd and unwarranted.

However, I do understand why The Intercept and Edward Snowden were worried about revealing Afghanistan. It’s highly likely that this revelation will be used to help fuel anti-American sentiment in the already unstable country. Whether or not that leads to violence remains to be seen.

Read more from Time here.

Nancy Pelosi Admits That Congress Members Fear the CIA/Intelligence Community

Last week, The Higher Learning reported on how Diane Feinstein, Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, called out the CIA for spying on and hacking into computers that her committee was using in their investigation into the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques.

On Thursday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi praised Feinstein, saying,

“I salute Sen. Feinstein. I’ll tell you, you take on the intelligence community, you’re a person of courage, and she does not do that lightly. Not without evidence, and when I say evidence, documentation of what it is that she is putting forth.”

Nancy Pelosi (Image: CNN)
Nancy Pelosi (Image: CNN)

But why did she find this act so particularly courageous? Pelosi continued:

You don’t fight [the intelligence community] without a price because they come after you and they don’t always tell the truth … Whatever else there is should be examined in terms of what happened and who let that happen. This may be one of the healthiest things we can do because I know one thing: Whatever it is, the intelligence community writes a report on that, they leave, they write a book on it, all of a sudden it becomes conventional … gossip that that’s what happened there and we really have to have the ground truth.”

Only time will tell whether Diane Feinstein’s claims will be substantiated, but one thing is certain: when your elected representatives are afraid to go after the (unelected) intelligence community for fear that they will be destroyed by false information, there is something very wrong.

Who’s really in power here?

Read the full story from the Roll Call Blog here.

NSA’s Deputy Director Admits That At Most ONE Plot MAY Have Been Foiled by Mass Phone Surveillance

On January 17, President Obama will make his proposals for changes to the NSA’s surveillance programs based on the findings of a commission put together by the president to review these programs in the wake of the revelations that the agency had been amassing data on Americans’ phone records.

Most expect that among other changes, the president will propose to hand over collection of the data to a third party (probably the phone companies), instead of having the NSA collect and store it.

In response, the NSA has been making a public push to garner support for the program. This campaign included a full-length interview on National Public Radio (NPR) with the NSA’s deputy director John C. Inglis.

Chris Inglis
NSA Deputy Director John C. Inglis

During the interview, Inglis, who is the NSA’s highest ranking civilian officer, admitted that throughout its course, only one plot may have been foiled by the NSA’s phone surveillance.

In fact, the NSA commission put together by Obama didn’t even endorse that example as legitimate, saying it was hard to find any cases of the domestic phone surveillance program foiling a plot.

Inglis also conceded that the figure of 54 foiled plots given by the NSA’s Director, General Keith Alexander, was referring to plots foiled by Prism, another program which mines mainly internet data and is totally separate from the NSA’s phone metadata collection.

General Keith Alexander
NSA Director General Keith Alexander

This confidential document showing the details of the Prism program was obtained by the Washington Post during the Edward Snowden leaks (click to enlarge).

NSA %22at most one plot foiled%223

Read the full story from The Guardian here.

Read or listen to the full interview with NPR’s Steve Inskeep and NSA Deputy Director John C. Inglis here.

NSA Spying Fallout Could Cost US Tech Industry $35 Billion In Sales

The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF) is a policy research group based in Washington. Its board includes representatives of large tech companies such as IBM and Intel. According to the ITIF, the US could lose up to $35 billion dollars in sales as a result of lack of confidence in the security and privacy of any American-made technology.

Cisco Systems, the world’s largest maker of computer-networking equipment, lost 18% of its orders in China in the three months following Edward Snowden’s disclosure of the extent NSA’s spying program. Cisco said that the disclosures have been causing hesitation from a lot of potential customers, especially in emerging markets.

Read the full story here.