NSA veterans speak out; 15 biggest us banks write letter; hacking door

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8-1-2013 update

Tonight, we have a conversation with three former NSA officials, a former inspector general and two NSA veterans who blew the whistle on what they say were abuses and mismanagement at the secret government intelligence agency.

William Binney worked at the NSA for over three decades as a mathematician, where he designed systems for collecting and analyzing large amounts of data. He retired in 2001. And Russell Tice had a two-decade career with the NSA where he focused on collection and analysis. He says he was fired in 2005 after calling on Congress to provide greater protection to whistle-blowers.

He claims the NSA tapped the phone of high-level government officials and the news media 10 years ago.

RUSSELL TICE, former National Security Agency analyst: The United States were, at that time, using satellites to spy on American citizens. At that time, it was news organizations, the State Department, including Colin Powell, and an awful lot of senior military people and industrial types.

JUDY WOODRUFF:   So, this is the early 2000s.

RUSSELL TICE: This was in 2002-2003 time frame. The NSA were targeting individuals. In that case, they were judges like the Supreme Court. I held in my hand Judge Alito’s targeting information for his phones and his staff and his family.

JUDY WOODRUFF:   Bill Binney, what was your sense of who was being targeted and why they were being targeted? And what was being collected, in other words?

WILLIAM BINNEY, former National Security Agency technical leader: Well, I wasn’t aware of specific targeting like Russ was. I just saw the inputs were including hundreds of millions of records of phone calls of U.S. citizens every day. So it was virtually — there wasn’t anybody who wasn’t a part of this collection of information.

So, virtually, you could target anybody in this country you wanted.  http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/government_programs/july-dec13/whistleblowers_08-01.html

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In this bombshell episode of the Boiling Frogs Post Podcast Show NSA whistleblower Russ Tice joins us to go on record for the first time with new revelations and the names of official culprits involved in the NSA’s illegal practices. Mr. Tice explains in detail how the National Security Agency targets, sucks-in, stores and analyzes illegally obtained content from the masses in the United States. He contradicts officials and the mainstream media on the status of the NSA’s Utah facility, which is already operating and “On-Line.” He reveals the NSA as a Deep State that targets and wiretaps US political candidates for its own purposes.

 http://www.boilingfrogspost.com/2013/06/19/podcast-show-112-nsa-whistleblower-goes-on-record-reveals-new-information-names-culprits/#sthash.GTGkXMFM.dpuf

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Bankers Face the Abyss

10-21-2012    felt compelled last week to send an urgent letter to Congress and President Barack Obama imploring them to avoid the fiscal cliff.

“The solvency, productive capacity, and stability of the United States, as well as its moral authority as a global leader, require that its fiscal challenges be credibly met,” the Oct. 18 letter reads.

Imagine that. Wall Street bankers talking about “moral authority.”

The letter is signed by 15 CEOs of some of the biggest financial-services firms (and civil defendants) on the planet, including Bank of AmericaBAC 0.00% Citigroup,C -0.16% Goldman SachsGS -0.48% J.P. Morgan ChaseJPM +0.21% Morgan Stanley MS +0.38% and Wells Fargo WFC +0.66% .

For a dying democracy, it’s embarrassing enough to see bankers telling our government what do to. But in this letter, we even see foreign bankers telling our government what to do. It is also signed by CEOs from UBSUBSN.VX +0.69%Credit Suisse CSGN.VX +1.02% and Deutsche Bank DBK.XE +1.28% .

First, they help destroy the economy with their brazen financial schemes. Then they demand unprecedented support from the Federal Reserve and the U.S. government itself. Then they complain about the national debt soaring past $16 trillion in large part because of this crisis that they helped cause. And now they fear the heavy dose of spending cuts and tax increases that ending our nation’s runaway deficit spending will require.

If we go off the fiscal cliff, it’s because Washington can’t agree to swallow its medicine. It’s an automatic set of austere measures that will do the painful deeds our leaders can’t.

“The still-fragile U.S. economy cannot sustain—and the American people don’t deserve—the impact of more gridlock in Washington,” the bankers’ letter reads.

Hey, since when do bankers speak for the people? Bankers and their armies of lawyers and lobbyists are as much a part of Washington’s culture of gridlock as anyone.

Yet their letter condescends: “The consequences of inaction—for stability in global markets, for economic growth, for millions of Americans still without work, and for the financial circumstances of American businesses and households—would be very grave.”

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444734804578064840879262594.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

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The door to hacking

7-27-13   “As they occupy a layer below the entire software stack, malicious circuits can bypass traditional defensive techniques,” the researchers said.

One of the world’s top authorities on hardware and firmware back-doors, Professor Farinaz Koushanfar at Rice University’s Adaptive Computing and Embedded Systems Lab, says she knows from her “interactions with the NSA that there have been multiple instances of malicious circuitry found in chips”.

Koushanfar’s research on how to detect embedded implants is supported by America’s Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Office of Naval Research, and the US Defence Department.

She says governments are reluctant to publicise discoveries on chip-level back-doors for a range of reasons.

“First, it’s not a good look to reveal that the chips in your weapons have malicious parts,” she says.

“And, sometimes, it’s not possible to replace them.

“Second, declassifying successful hardware attacks risks inspiring more. And, finally, identifying back-doors gives governments valuable intelligence: you don’t necessarily want to show that you know where attackers put malicious circuits, or that you know you’ve been compromised.”

Koushanfar says because of the complexity of modern chips, malicious circuits can be “amazingly difficult to find”.

“And the technology intelligence agencies employ to find implants is more sophisticated than the technology used to insert them.”

She says the NSA has been working on combating malicious hardware and firmware implants for 25 years.

“While it is not a new problem, our growing reliance in everyday life on chips and exposure to foreign production processes means it is getting worse.”

Koushanfar notes that a program DARPA started in 2004 to develop “invasive techniques” to get inside computer chips to find implants was classified in about 2006.

“It used to be open to academics, now it has shifted to defence and industry,” she says.

Jonathan Brossard, a security researcher who advises CBA among others, believes “the biggest future threat is the insecurity of firmware, which is the interface between hardware and an operation system”.

“Access to firmware gives you unlimited power over any computation done by a machine. And yet in today’s ‘state of the art’, there is no known way to prevent firmware tampering.”   http://www.afr.com/Page/Uuid/4e0f21fc-f5a5-11e2-bd7f-9a5b5921b1c2

 

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