Julian Assange Jailed on Charges: Politically Motivated, or Just Convenient?
The arrest and detention of Julian Assange Tuesday on charges of rape and sexual assault was at the least a convenient development for government leaders who’ve sought ways to contain the leader of the controversial website Wikileaks.
But in an exclusive interview with ABC News’ Jim Sciutto, Wikileaks’ spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson insisted Assange’s arrest won’t alter the site’s calculated release of thousands of secret government cables, which still continues according to plan. The site published a new slate of cables Wednesday.
“It is not derailing us in any way,” said Hrafnsson, adding that a group of five to six people is running Wikileaks’ operations in Assange’s absence. “This is a turning tide and starting a trend that you can’t really stop unless you want to shut down the Internet.”
Meanwhile, supporters of Assange are saying the timing and nature of the personal allegations against him are more than coincidence – they’re “politically motivated.” And the confluence of recent events gives at least the appearance that could be true.
In mid-August, two Swedish women told prosecutors and news outlets they had each had consensual sex with Assange, but that he didn’t use a condom against their wishes and subsequently refused to get tested for sexually-transmitted disease. Their complaint led to a warrant on charges of sexual molestation.
But now prosecutors allege Assange forcibly raped at least one of the women and sexually assaulted the other — significantly more serious allegations than what investigators initially pursued.
Assange, 39, was formally charged and held without bond in London on one count of rape, two of sexual assault, and one of coercion. He has denied the allegations and insists the sex with both women was consensual.
“Fortunately, the international corralling was successful,” Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said shortly after Assange’s arrest. “Assange has hurt international diplomatic relations and I hope he is questioned and tried as established by law.”
Assange’s brainchild, Wikileaks, is also weathering its most intense attacks to date. The site has been bumped from its servers without notice and mysteriously cut off from key funding sources after PayPal and major credit card companies, Visa and MasterCard, pulled the plug pending “further investigation.”
“We are getting seriously close to censorship in the U.S., and that must surely go against the fundamental values the country is based upon,” said Hrafnsson.
But State Department spokesman PJ Crowley said via Twitter “the U.S. government did not write to PayPal requesting any action regarding #WikiLeaks. Not true.”
Swiss authorities Monday closed a Swiss bank account tied to Assange, freezing tens of thousands of dollars used to fund the Wikileaks operation, his lawyers said.
“It wouldn’t be surprising in the least that Wikileaks and political pressure from the U.S. and other affected governments has at least something to do with the current charges in Sweden,” said American University law professor Stephen Vladeck, an expert in national security and international criminal law. But “whether it’s because of that pressure [that he faces charges] is something I think we can’t know.”Start Slide Show with PicLens Lite
LOIC (Low Orbit Ion Cannon):
LOIC (Low Orbit Ion Cannon) is a network stress testing application, written in C# and developed by “praetox”. It attempts a denial-of-service attack on the target site by flooding the server with TCP packets, UDP packets, or HTTP requests with the intention of disrupting the service of a particular host. The program was exploited during Project Chanology to attack Scientology websites, and is currently being used by Operation Avenge Assange (Organized by Operation Payback) to attack the websites of companies and organizations that have opposed WikiLeaks.
“NewEraCracker” updated LOIC for the Operation Payback protests to fix a few bugs and added new features.
As of Version 126.96.36.199, LOIC has incorporated a new “Hive Mind” feature which allows the user to relinquish control of the LOIC application to the operator of an IRC channel. This has been likened to a “voluntary botnet”.
This updated version works on Windows XP or later, and requires Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 Service Pack 1. It also works on Linux with Mono or Wine with .NET Framework 2.0.
An option to start the program hidden as a background service is also available in these later versions.
I don’t know if these attacks are part of some kind of PSYOP, but they certainly play into the pre-existing script for curtailing freedom on the Internet. Mike McConnell, former NSA Director, former Director of National Intelligence and now, Booz Allen Hamilton Senior Vice President, has said that we need to re-engineer the Internet:
We need to develop an early-warning system to monitor cyberspace, identify intrusions and locate the source of attacks with a trail of evidence that can support diplomatic, military and legal options — and we must be able to do this in milliseconds. More specifically, we need to re-engineer the Internet to make attribution, geo-location, intelligence analysis and impact assessment — who did it, from where, why and what was the result — more manageable. The technologies are already available from public and private sources and can be further developed if we have the will to build them into our systems and to work with our allies and trading partners so they will do the same.
He’s talking about changing the internet to make everything anyone does on the net traceable and geo-located so the National Security Agency can pinpoint users and their computers for retaliation if the U.S. government doesn’t like what’s written in an e-mail, what search terms were used, what movies were downloaded. Or the tech could be useful if a computer got hijacked without your knowledge and used as part of a botnet.
The data war between companies that have refused to do business with Wikileaks and the online activists keen to defend it is getting more intense.
The tool through which attacks are carried out against websites perceived to be anti-Wikileaks has now been downloaded more than 31,000 times.
Security experts warned people to avoid joining the voluntary botnet.
Targets of the loose-knit group Anonymous have so far included Visa, Mastercard and Paypal.
Amazon is expected to be among firms targeted next using the Anonymous attack tool known as LOIC. When a person installs the tool on their PC it enrols the machine into a voluntary botnet which then bombards target sites with data.
Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks are illegal in many countries, including the UK.
Social network Facebook confirmed that it had removed Operation Payback – as the campaign is known – from the site because it was promoting its attack tool.
By Tom Burghardt – Antifascist Calling
Confidential State Department documents released by the whistleblowing web site WikiLeaks, revealed that a European Parliamentary vote earlier this year that suspended participation in a U.S. government program that secretly monitored international bank transactions, surprised and angered the Obama administration.
In a stunning rebuke of U.S. policies the February 2010 memo, “Chancellor Merkel Angered by Lack of German MEP Support for TFTP,” 10BERLIN180 provided new evidence that the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program (also known as Swift) is viewed skeptically by the European public and their representatives.
Distrust of the Swift program runs deep and its “War on Terror” pedigree is considered little more than a pretext for American spies to carry out economic espionage on behalf of U.S. multinationals.
Alarmed over privacy breaches by American firms and criminal acts, such as the illegal U.S. transfer of prisoners on CIA “black flights,” aided and abetted by European intelligence agencies, outraged public opinion forced the hand of parliamentarians, who voted overwhelming to suspend the program.
German opposition to Swift “was particularly damaging” The New York Times reported, “because the country was among a handful of allies that, according to a 2006 cable, made up a ‘coalition of the constructive’ organized to ensure that the Swift operation was not ‘ruined by privacy experts’.”
Launched shortly after the 9/11 provocation by the Bush administration, the secret program handed American officials unprecedented access to global financial information on bank transactions routed through a vast database administered by the Swift consortium in Brussels.
Access to such unique data would be particularly valuable to U.S. corporations. In light of evidence published in a 2001 European Parliament report that the National Security Agency’s ECHELON program was a cover for economic espionage, such fears are not unfounded.
Since the program’s disclosure in 2006 by The New York Times, criticism over its operations have mounted steadily.
CIA and Treasury Department officials secretly poured over records of some $6 trillion dollars in daily financial transactions flowing through global banks and brokerage houses.
“European Union regulators,” the ACLU reported, “found that the mass financial prying was not legally authorized, was conducted without proper checks and balances, and violated several important rules established to protect the privacy of Europeans.”
Increasing the “creep factor” amongst EU officials, the ACLU disclosed that the ultra-spooky Booz Allen Hamilton corporation had been hired to “oversee” the program by the federal government.
Concluding that the firm was not an “independent check” on Swift surveillance, the civil liberties’ watchdogs wrote that “Booz Allen is one of the largest U.S. Government contractors, with hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. Government contracts awarded each year. Booz Allen has a history of working closely with U.S. Government agencies on electronic surveillance, including the Total Information Awareness program.”
Initial misgivings amongst the public and privacy advocates have since blossomed into outright hostility, thus setting the stage for last summer’s vote.
Noting that the American-led “War on Terror” coalition is fraying at the seams, U.S. Ambassador to Berlin Philip Murphy, wrote that “Merkel is particularly irritated with German MEPs from her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and sister Christian Social Union (CSU) parties, most of whom reportedly voted against the agreement despite previously indicating they would support it.”
The ambassador claimed that “public German reactions” to the European Parliament’s vote “have come exclusively from TFTP detractors who portrayed the veto as a sign that the European Parliament has won a victory over an arrogant Commission/Council, as well as delivering a rebuke to U.S. counterterrorism policies that undervalue data privacy.”
Free Democratic Party (FDP) Federal Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, a member of Merkel’s coalition, was derided by Murphy as “a strong proponent of data privacy rights,” who had welcomed the vote saying that “‘the citizens of Europe have won a victory today that strengthened not just data protection, but democracy in all of Europe.”
That’s certainly a “diplomatic” way of saying they don’t trust their American allies!
Undeterred however, Murphy recommended that the U.S. crank up the “Mighty Wurlitzer” disinformation machine a decibel or two.
“These events,” the ambassador wrote, “suggest the need to intensify our engagement with German government interlocutors, Bundestag and European parliamentarians, and opinion makers to demonstrate that the U.S. has strong data privacy measures in place.”
Murphy said this “debate was not just about TFTP;” the ambassador averred that “paranoia runs deep especially about U.S. intelligence agencies.”
Those quaint denizens of “old Europe,” where do they ever get such fanciful ideas!
U.S. Embassies: Global Spy Nets
In the Cablegate file, “Reporting and Collection Needs: The United Nations,” 09STATEE80163, dated July 31, 2009 and classified SECRET/NOFORN (“no foreign distribution”) we learned last week that under America’s revised National HUMINT Collection Directive (NCHD) U.S. diplomats and State Department employees under CIA cover are directed to spy on key UN personnel, including Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
State Department documents revealed that diplomats have been ordered to gather “as much of the following information as possible when they have information relating to persons linked to: office and organizational titles; names, position titles and other information on business cards; numbers of telephones, cell phones, pagers and faxes; compendia of contact information, such as telephone directories (in compact disc or electronic format if available) and e-mail listings; internet and intranet ‘handles’, internet e-mail addresses, web site identification-URLs; credit card account numbers; frequent flyer account numbers; work schedules, and other relevant biographical information.”
U.S. overlords demanded that their diplomat-spies collect relevant data on “about current and future use of communications systems and technologies by officials or organizations, including cellular phone networks, mobile satellite phones, very small aperture terminals (VSAT), trunked and mobile radios, pagers, prepaid calling cards, firewalls, encryption, international connectivity, use of electronic data interchange, Voice-over-Internet protocol (VoIP), Worldwide interoperability for microwave access (Wi-Max), and cable and fiber networks.”
Documents released so far have revealed that similar “diplomatic” spying operations are underway globally and target Bulgaria; Romania; Slovenia; Hungary; Venezuela; Paraguay; Palestine; African Great Lakes; and West Africa.
Denouncing WikiLeaks for the embarrassing disclosures, not for U.S. duplicity and deceit, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who authorized the surreptitious collection programs, said last week that covert action by its foreign service “is the role our diplomats play in serving America.”
A “Well-Placed Source”
Despite full knowledge, “we were astonished to learn” ambassador Murphy wrote, “how quickly rumors about alleged U.S. economic espionage–at first associated with the new U.S. air passenger registration system (ESTA), then with TFTP–gained currency among German parliamentarians in the run-up to the February 11 vote in Strasbourg.”
Are there legitimate reasons perhaps, why “paranoia” would “run deep” among the public, or the German government for that matter, considering the track record of “U.S. intelligence agencies”?
Last Friday, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle’s chief of staff, Helmut Metzner, was sacked after he confessed he was the “young, up-and-coming party loyalist” who served as an American asset inside the Free Democratic Party, a coalition partner of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s right-wing government.
Der Spiegel reported that Metzner was the “top-level national party employee responsible for passing secret information on to US diplomats during the negotiations to form the current German government in 2009.”
According to the 2009 Cablegate file 09BERLIN1271, “Westerwelle Firm on Removal of Nuclear Weapons,” Metzner is described therein as “a well-placed FDP source.”
From his perch, Metzner was privy to sensitive information that he passed on to his American handlers; in fact the go-getter was “the head of international relations for the national party.” Rather conveniently, one might say!
Indeed, the strategist-spy “shared with Emboffs and visiting Senior Germany Desk Officer October 7 information on issues discussed during the first two days of these negotiations as well as the negotiations schedule and working group make-up. Source serves as his party’s notetaker for the negotiations and has been a long-standing close Embassy contact.”
“It’s now clear,” Der Spiegel reported, “why the US ambassador appeared so pleased in his cables back to Washington–after all, his mole had the ear of the head of the party and was part of the inner circle of party leadership.”
Eventually, ambassador Murphy’s call to “intensify our engagement with German government interlocutors, Bundestag and European parliamentarians, and opinion makers” over the Swift program paid off.
In July, “after mobilizing top administration officials, including Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner and Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.,” the Obama administration was able to reverse the vote in the European Parliament, “after the United States made modest concessions that promised greater European oversight,” The New York Times reported.
“Concessions” that will accelerate the erosion of privacy rights while enhancing U.S. efforts to steal economic secrets from their capitalist rivals.
Tuesday’s arrest of Julian Assange in Britain on a dubious Swedish warrant, and the court’s refusal to grant the activist/journalist bail, will not stop the leaks. Despite intense pressure from the Pentagon, the State Department and lickspittle American politicians, more than 500 web sites currently mirror WikiLeaks.
The steady drip, drip, drip of dark secrets will continue, as will further revelations of U.S. crimes.
Tom Burghardt is a researcher and activist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to publishing in Covert Action Quarterly and Global Research , his articles can be read on Dissident Voice, The Intelligence Daily, Pacific Free Press, Uncommon Thought Journal, and the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks. He is the editor of Police State America: U.S. Military “Civil Disturbance” Planning, distributed by AK Press and has contributed to the new book from Global Research, The Global Economic Crisis: The Great Depression of the XXI Century.
Cryptogon: Anonymous Running Attacks on Anti-Wikileaks Sites with Low Orbit Ion Cannon Army of hackers targets the Swedish government, Sarah Palin and credit card giants in WikiLeaks ‘Operation: Payback’
- Visa, PayPal, Amazon also come under attack through the night
- Hackers bring down Swedish government internet site
- Sarah Palin’s personal credit card account and website targeted
- 5,000 ‘hacktivists’ believed to be behind electronic onslaught
Computer hackers have sent two of the world’s biggest credit card companies into meltdown in revenge for cutting off payments to the WikiLeaks website.
The attack was launched by a shadowy international group called ‘Anonymous’ which said MasterCard and Visa had been targeted for freezing the account of the whistleblowing site.
The devastating blow to the credit card giants came on one of the busiest online shopping days of the year.
Hackers also targeted online payment system PayPal, Amazon and a Swiss bank over the WikiLeaks row.
The Swedish government’s website was also brought down this morning after a fresh wave of cyber attacks together with former US vice presidential hopeful Sarah Palin.
Mrs Palin’s website, SarahPAC.com, has been targeted as well as her personal credit card information.
- WikiLeaks: Phobias, flamenco dancing and a ‘voluptuous blonde’ nurse: Inside the wacky world of Colonel Gaddafi
- Pictured sitting opposite WikiLeaks founder at seminar, the blonde who claims she was raped hours later
- Gaddafi threatened to cut British interests ‘off at the knees’ if Lockerbie bomber died in Scottish jail, WikiLeaks reveals
- Wikileaks: Desperate Housewives does more to combat jihad than US propaganda
- Just like out of a Bond film: Inside the astonishing subterranean WikiLeaks bunker
- Lockerbie bomber ‘is on life support and close to death’
- WikiLeaks: Oil giant Shell ‘more powerful than Nigerian government’ and infiltrated every office
SarahPAC aide Rebecca Mansour told ABC news:’No wonder others are keeping silent about (WikiLeaks founder Julian) Assange’s antics.
‘This is what happens when you exercise the First Amendment and speak against his sick, un-American espionage efforts.’
Palin sparked fury among WikiLeaks supporters when she urged the US goverment to pursue Assange in the same way it sought Taliban leaders.
Yesterday, a six-hour stoppage on the Mastercard secure code system is thought to have affected hundreds of thousands of shoppers worldwide and highlights how vulnerable the world’s computer systems are to attack.
Last night Visa website was also taken down for a period after it came under attack.
It is thought just a few dozen ‘hacktivists’ launched the electronic onslaught, which was taken up by thousands of other supporters.
The ‘distributed denial of service’ (DDoS) attack involved around 5,000 computers bombarding the website’s host computers with requests for information, causing them to crash.
WikiLeaks has been publishing classified U.S. diplomatic cables, to the fury of Washington authorities.
They have lobbied to cut off all support for the website which they are desperate to shut down.
Yesterday a spokesman for Anonymous, calling himself ‘Coldblood’, a 22-year-old computer programmer based in London, said: ‘Websites that are bowing down to government pressure have become targets.
‘As an organisation we have always taken a strong stance on censorship and freedom of expression on the internet and come out against those who seek to destroy it by any means.
‘We feel that WikiLeaks has become more than just about leaking of documents, it has become a war ground, the people versus the government.
‘The idea is not to wipe them off but to give the companies a wake-up call.’
In a further communique online, Anonymous warned: ‘We will fire at anything or anyone that tries to censor WikiLeaks, including multibillion-dollar companies such as PayPal.’
The spokesman added that the group’s intention ‘was to be a force for chaotic good’.
Anonymous has previously been linked to attacks on websites belonging to the Church of Scientology and the music industry.
Yesterday’s onslaught was dubbed ‘Operation: Payback’. MasterCard first reported an attack which partially shut down its corporate website Mastercard.com at around 9.30am yesterday.
Initially it said no customers had been affected. But by the evening the attacks had escalated and it is thought hundreds of thousands of online transactions were stopped.
THE VOLUNTEER NETWORK OF HACKERS CALLED ‘ANONYMOUS’ WHICH HAS BROUGHT CHAOS TO THE INTERNET
Target: Sarah Palin’s website has been attacked
The hackers targeting Visa and Mastercard work by overwhelming a websites’ servers with enormous volumes of traffic, dubbed ‘distributed denial-of-service’ attack.
Operation: Payback supporters volunteer their computers to become part of a remotely controlled network, called a ‘botnet’.
This allows the hackers to disable targeted websites by directing millions of requests for information from multiple sources, making the internet site inaccessible to other users.
Anonymous – the shadowy group behind the attacks – has handed thousands of followers a user-friendly tool to download and join the assault.
‘Think of it like a voluntary botnet,’ says an installation guide for the tool.
Anyone taking part in the cyber attacks can then claim they have a computer virus if they are accused of participating.
The chances of being arrested for using the tool are said to be ‘next to zero’ as a result.
If users follow the instructions for the Anonymous botnet, once it is up and running, they are told to: ‘Sit back and watch the show.’
The problem came about when shoppers tried to pay for their purchases and were redirected to a website run by MasterCard called Securecode.
This site was not authorising payments so the transactions could not be completed.
MasterCard declined to confirm that customers had been affected. But in a statement made to a respected website it reportedly said it suffered ‘a service disruption to the MasterCard Directory Server’ and added that ‘customers may still be experiencing intermittent connectivity issues’.
Last night MasterCard said in a statement from its HQ in New York that its systems had not been compromised by ‘a concentrated effort to flood our corporate web site with traffic and slow access’.
It said: ‘We are working to restore normal service levels. There is no impact on our cardholders’ ability to use their cards for secure transactions globally.’
A spokesman for Visa said the site experienced ‘heavier than normal traffic’ and repeated attempts to load the Visa.com and Visa.co.uk sites were met without success.
A PayPal executive admitted the firm stopped processing WikileLeaks’ payments after being pressured by the US State Department.
Speaking at a conference in Paris, Osama Bedier said: ‘The US State Deptartment told us these were illegal activities. It was straightforward.’
According to the website TechCrunch, the admission was greeted by a chorus of boos from the audience.
Bedier, a PayPal vice president, added: ‘We first comply with regulations around the world making sure that we protect our brand.’
He claimed the State Department branded WikiLeaks illegal on November 27.
But in a statement released last night, PayPal’s general counsel John Muller insisted the State Department had not been in contact with the firm.
He added that while the WikiLeaks account will remain restricted, ‘PayPal will release all remaining funds in the account to the foundation that was raising funds for WikiLeaks’.
The statement continued: ‘We understand that PayPal’s decision has become part of a broader story involving political, legal and free speech debates surrounding WikiLeaks’ activities.
‘None of these concerns factored into our decision. Our only consideration was whether or not the account associated with WikiLeaks violated our Acceptable Use Policy and regulations required of us as a global payment company.
‘Our actions in this matter are consistent with any account found to be in violation of our policies.’
DDoS attacks, which are illegal in the UK, involve overloading a website with high numbers of requests so it stops working.
In a blog linked to its Twitter account, Anonymous wrote: ‘Hello World. We are Anonymous. What you do or do not know about us is irrelevant. We have decided to write to you, the media, and all citizens of the free world at large to inform you of the message, our intentions, potential targets, and our ongoing peaceful campaign for freedom.
‘The message is simple: freedom of speech. Anonymous is peacefully campaigning for freedom of speech everywhere in all forms. Freedom of speech for: the internet, for journalism and journalists, and citizens of the world at large. Regardless of what you think or have to say; Anonymous is campaigning for you.’
The post continued: ‘The internet is the last bastion of freedom in this evolving technical world. The internet is capable of connecting us all.
‘When we are connected we are strong. When we are strong we have power. When we have power we are able to do the impossible. This is why the government is moving on WikiLeaks. This is what they fear. They fear our power when we unite. Do not forget this.’
Their blog post vowing to fight any organisation which supports censorship came as WikiLeaks’ payment processor, DataCell, said it was preparing to take legal action against the credit card companies over their refusal to process donations.
DataCell ehf chief executive Andreas Fink said in a statement: ‘It is obvious that Visa is under political pressure to close us down. We strongly believe a world-class company such as Visa should not get involved in politics and just simply do their business where they are good at. Transferring money.’
Anonymous said it was leading a ‘peaceful campaign’ and denied being a terrorist or vigilante organisation.
The blog post continued: ‘Anonymous is doing what many successful campaigns have done in the past; a sit-in. It may be hard to comprehend, but a digital sit-in is our most effective method to show that all of us deserve freedom of speech and a free internet.
‘Our methods may appear, on the outside, to be cruel to those the entities that we are campaigning against, but remember by supporting censorship they are denying everyone a basic human right.’
Fears were raised in the Twitter-sphere last night that the microblogging site might become the next target after the group’s account, Anon-Operation, was closed and Anonymous posted a statement claiming: ‘Twitter you’re next for censoring WikiLeaks discussion.’
But in a further posting on Anonops, the group said: ‘We are not hacking Twitter… DON’T WORRY!… All we are saying that they closed our official account and that is not FREE SPEECH!’
Some supporters accuse Twitter of preventing the term ‘WikiLeaks’ appearing on the site’s popular trending topics, a claim that Twitter has denied.
As well as DDoS attacks, Anonymous is helping to create hundreds of mirror sites for WikiLeaks, allowing users to continue to access the website’s content via a different server.
WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, 39, has been remanded in custody over claims that he sexually assaulted two Swedish women.
The websites of the Swedish Prosecutor and the lawyer representing the women were attacked yesterday.
Other websites targeted included those of U.S. senator Joe Lieberman, an outspoken critic of WikiLeaks.
Have you been affected by the MasterCard cyber attacks? Ring 0207 9386059
Published on 11-03-2010
The military’s new Cyber Command, responsible for shielding 15,000 military computer networks from intruders, has become fully operational, the Defense Department said on Wednesday.
More than 100 foreign intelligence organizations are trying to break into U.S. networks, Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn wrote in the September/October issue of the journal Foreign Affairs. Some already have the capacity to disrupt U.S. information infrastructure, he said.
Gates ordered the new unit’s creation in June 2009 to address the growing threat of cyber-attack.
It consolidates offensive and defensive operations under Army General Keith Alexander, who also heads the National Security Agency, the Defense Department’s intelligence arm that protects national security information and intercepts foreign communications.
“Cyberspace is essential to our way of life and U.S. Cyber Command synchronizes our efforts in the defense of (Defense Department) networks,” Alexander said in the Pentagon announcement.
Lynn declared the unit, based at Fort Meade, Maryland, fully up and running in a memorandum dated October 31, said Colonel Rivers Johnson, a Cyber Command spokesman.
The new unit began work in May, establishing a joint operations center and transitioning personnel and functions from the old structures.
It is part of the Offutt Air Force, Nebraska-based Strategic Command, the organization responsible for U.S. nuclear and space operations as well as information warfare and global military intelligence.
Published on 10-21-2010
Source: New York Times
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration has adopted new procedures for using the Defense Department’s vast array of cyberwarfare capabilities in case of an attack on vital computer networks inside the United States, delicately navigating historic rules that restrict military action on American soil.
The system would mirror that used when the military is called on in natural disasters like hurricanes or wildfires. A presidential order dispatches the military forces, working under the control of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Under the new rules, the president would approve the use of the military’s expertise in computer-network warfare, and the Department of Homeland Security would direct the work.
Officials involved in drafting the rules said the goal was to ensure a rapid response to a cyberthreat while balancing concerns that civil liberties might be at risk should the military take over such domestic operations.
The perverse coupling of surveillance and exhibitionism forms a cornerstone of American technocracy. Most Americans, be they liberals or libertarians, are unnerved by government agents, corporate data-miners, or high-tech Peeping Toms probing their personal details. And yet invasive, weirdly intimate technologies multiply like digital cockroaches, all but devouring the expectation of privacy taken for granted only a generation ago. Progress is simply too en vogue to resist.
Reality television brings a glamorous air to perpetual surveillance. The genre has enjoyed immense popularity over the last decade—comprising nearly a fifth of new broadcast programs this season—with cameramen poking into American life’s every facet. From moneyed luxury’s heights to the working-class struggle’s dregs, everyone’s in line for their 15 minutes of fame.
Consequently, the art of living on film is continually refined. But the recent success of TLC’s Sister Wives sounds an ominous warning as to who may be watching behind the camera’s prying eye. Immediately after the show’s premiere—which revealed a renegade Mormon polygamist’s fecund lifestyle—Utah authorities launched an investigation on Kody Brown and his four wives, with bigamy charges pending.
The risk of one’s private life going public is all-too-familiar to celebrities and politicians, but these days everyone gets their chance to shine in the searchlight. Social networks, YouTube, Twitter, and the blogosphere have captured and amplified a narcissistic culture of exhibition. Driven by Mark Zuckerberg’s philosophy that “a world that’s more open and connected is a better world,” Facebook now claims over 500 million users—making it the world’s third most-populous “nation.” In less than two decades, it became normal to display one’s personal details online—from romantic relationships and family photos to political affiliation and business activities. Even if you choose not to have your personality digitized, chances are that someone you know will do it for you. AVG Security estimates that 92% of American babies have their picture on the Internet. Anonymity is practically dead, with a Facebook memorial in the online graveyard.
Aside from being a smorgasbord for typical stalkers—and be honest, who hasn’t gone profile-trolling?—social networking also has market analysts and government agents licking their chops. It has become a common practice for law-enforcement agencies—from the Boston PD to the Department of Homeland Security—to “friend” suspect individuals and monitor their posts. If investigators want to dig deeper, our electronic communications’ trusted stewards—AT&T, Google, Yahoo!, Verizon, etc.—regularly provide access to private communications under the Patriot Act. On the corporate end, The Wall Street Journal recently examined the unethical activities of Web-based “listening services” that scrape forums for biographical information—including sensitive medical issues such as HIV, depression, and impotence—to craft more effective marketing techniques apparently geared toward human frailties. Illicit scraping aside, the practice of selling a client’s “anonymized” personal information is now routine. Inquiring minds want to know, and they know whom to ask.
“Just as the religious man learns to accept the fact that God watches his every move, so may the child of technocracy consider the Electric Eye to be a normal aspect of modern life.”
And who could blame them? For entities that depend on psychological profiling to investigate and manipulate an otherwise inscrutable population—authority figures whose sympathies rarely lie with nonconformity or dissent—the human soul’s digitization is a dream come true. Whether we pour our deepest selves into public profiles or private emails, our personal lives have become fodder for cybersharks.
Wired magazine covers a vast array of disturbing digital-surveillance projects. For instance, In-Q-Tel—the CIA’s investment arm—recently teamed up with Google to fund Recorded Futures. Like Visible Technologies before it, Recorded Futures crawls “open source” Web information—sites, blogs, news outlets, Twitter accounts, etc.—for patterns of interest. Along with monitoring current activities, Recorded Futures has the ambitious goal of predicting future behaviors based on “invisible links” between individuals and organizations. Though presumably directed toward noble goals such as combating terrorism and organized crime, the overarching scale of the analysis allows for more questionable directions. For an agency that has historically sought to infiltrate disruptive political movements and initiate disinformation campaigns, the possibilities are phenomenal. But why would Google, whose support of Obama’s tech-savvy campaign is a matter of public record, be involved? Their candid CEO, Eric Schmidt, says of his search users: “They want Google to tell them what they should be doing next.”
While it is hardly surprising that intelligence agencies would want to gather intelligence, a conscientious citizen can only be as comfortable with corporate surveillance and government’s growing powers as his or her good faith will allow. Not that anyone is asking permission.
The Google “WiSpy” scandal that came to light last May hardly inspires confidence. Apparently, their Street View vehicles gathered more than uninvited photographs as they patrolled the Western world’s every inch. Since 2007, they’ve been scooping up “payload data,” including web-surfing activity and private emails, from open Wi-Fi networks. When the German government pressed them for an explanation, Google claimed it was all a big “mistake” and insisted they will delete the data—unlike their Gmail account holders’ detailed profiles.
When Eric “Don’t Be Evil” Schmidt says, “We know where you are. We know where you’ve been. We can more or less know what you’re thinking about,” you can be sure that he means it. Given the ambiguous (at best) motives of history’s most powerful individuals, I find these developments quite chilling.
Add to this surveillance cameras’ proliferation in public areas—tens of thousands in New York City, half a million in London’s “ring of steel,” cameras on traffic lights nationwide, in shopping malls, in nightclubs, in schools, in nurseries—and you get the funny feeling that you’re being watched.
Of course, it is practically impossible for all of these cameras to be monitored effectively. Unless you could somehow entice private citizens to assist in the process…
On October 4, Internet Eyes went live in the UK. The program’s participants—13,000 so far—are given access to CCTV feeds of retail outlets nationwide. Their mission is to spot shoplifters and antisocial behavior. A £1,000 prize is offered for the snoop with the most busts. If the program is successful, perhaps average citizens could be enlisted for other mass-surveillance projects. Of course, high-tech surveillance equipment has been marketed to the general public for years. Aside from office security cameras, popular Internet monitoring software—with clever names such as SpyAgent, SpecterPro, and IamBigBrother—enables any corporate manager to sift through his employees’ emails and Web searches.
For the average Joe, companies such as BrickHouse Security offer a wide range of equipment for DIY spook operations. Anyone can order high-resolution cameras disguised as common electrical outlets, air filters, smoke detectors, or sunglasses—all for $200. You can watch your kids, your spouse, or the guy next door. Every week a new perv gets caught installing recording devices in a women’s bathroom. So what are the chances that some weirdo has filmed your bodily functions in action—picking your nose, having sex, or vigorously masturbating in a hotel room? Think of it this way: How many people have a burning curiosity and 200 bucks to blow?
Even if you don’t mind Big Brother watching you, the swarms of Little Brothers in His shadow ought to ring your alarm bells. Or maybe you don’t care. Maybe you’ve been told to smile for the camera since you were knee-high to a tripod. Group photos mean friendship, and sex tapes make you famous. Just as the religious man learns to accept the fact that God watches his every move, so may the child of technocracy consider the Electric Eye to be a normal aspect of modern life.
I would never be so paranoid as to insist that every watcher behind the camera is purely evil. To the extent that technology is neutral, a surveillance state’s rise is only as insidious as the uses to which it is put. After all, who would argue against identifying criminals, improving products, or securing personal property?
And yet, as I contemplate undesirable citizens’ fate during the 20th century’s herd-culling upheavals—Hitler’s Germany, Stalin’s Russia, Mao’s China, or Pol Pot’s Cambodia—the unprecedented ability to cultivate public opinion in real time, while tracking otherwise anonymous individuals, lifts my neck hairs. Big Brother is a silent observer in an era of tolerance and open discourse. But if the national mood is consumed by distrust and volatility, the All-Seeing Eye may burn right through you.
10.06.10 Google CEO: “We Know Where You Are. We Know Where You’ve Been. We Can More Or Less Know What You’re Thinking About.”
|Published on 10-06-2010
Source: Business Insider
Google CEO Eric Schmidt really has a knack for expressing relatively benign ideas in a way that makes him and his company look incredibly creepy.
The Atlantic has posted video of the full interview in which Eric talked about ‘the creepy line’, and it is chock full of unsettling sound bytes. In particular, he had the following to say on privacy:
With your permission, you give us more information about you, about your friends, and we can improve the quality of our searches. We don’t need you to type at all. We know where you are. We know where you’ve been. We can more or less know what you’re thinking about.
That sounds absolutely terrifying. And it’s too bad. Eric is clearly extremely bright and has a lot of interesting things to say in this interview about technology, the rise of China, the role of lobbyists in crafting legislation, and more. He’s just not very good at choosing his words.
10:10 Stepping over the Edge: The Globalist can’t help but radiate a “sinister force” as they claim to be “saving” Earth
This is from the 10:10 Carbon Tax Corporations
10.10.10 Illusionati Ships from the Doc to Begin to See Beyond the Veil and Expose the World Wide Mind Control System
Check out the Official Illusionati Website Click the Banner BelowStart Slide Show with PicLens Lite