“Recently, governments have shifted their talking points from claiming they only use mass surveillance for “national security” purposes to the more nebulous “valid foreign intelligence purposes.” I suggest this committee consider that this rhetorical shift is a tacit acknowledgment by governments that they recognize they have crossed beyond the boundaries of justifiable activities. Every country believes its “foreign intelligence purposes” are “valid,” but that does not make it so. If we are prepared to condemn the economic spying of our competitors, we must be prepared to do the same of our allies. Lasting peace is founded upon fundamental fairness.”—
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden answers written questions submitted by members of the European Parliament
"Top-secret documents from the National Security Agency and its British counterpart reveal for the first time how the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom targeted WikiLeaks and other activist groups with tactics ranging from covert surveillance to prosecution.
"The efforts – detailed in documents provided previously by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden – included a broad campaign of international pressure aimed not only at WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, but at what the U.S. government calls “the human network that supports WikiLeaks.” The documents also contain internal discussions about targeting the file-sharing site Pirate Bay and hacktivist collectives such as Anonymous."
We’re going to start publishing a round-up of important news, videos and events we think vital to our followers, particularly related to activism around the world. It’s likely we’ll make these posts on Sunday. We didn’t have enough time to really ponder how to format it, but since so much happened last week, we threw together a quick summary together for you anyway.
In case you aren’t aware, we recently started a subreddit, which we’re monitoring throughout the day. If there’s an event or story you’d like to bring to our attention, that’s a good place to post it.
U.S. drone strikes rely heavily on the metadata collected through NSA technology:
Monday, we got our first glimpse at First Look Media’s first project, the Intercept, a digital magazine (founded by controversial billionaire Pierre Omidyar) dedicated to reporting on top secret documents obtained by U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Their debut article, written by journalists Glenn Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill, exposes the intimate relationship between NSA phone surveillance and CIA drone strikes carried out overseas. We learned that (according to sources speaking on the condition of anonymity) the majority of U.S. drone strikes are based on cell phone metadata data collected by the NSA through an operation code named GILGAMESH.
The journalists published statements by a former drone operator, who worked directly with the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), as well as a former member of the U.S. Air Force, Brandon Bryant, who has publicly come out to oppose U.S. foreign policy with regards to the use of drones.
Australian spies colluded with the NSA while spying on an American lawyers:
Another story, originated with documents obtained by Snowden, revealed that an Australian spy agency eavesdropped on the communications of an American law firm, who at the time was representing Indonesian officials during a trade dispute. We also learned that NSA officials had been consulted during the process. Previous leaks obtained from Snowden have illustrated that the NSA has taken part in economic espionage, in some cases, sabotaging security products utilized by American corporations in an attempt to syphon the private data of U.S. citizens.
Pakistani anti-drone activist kidnapped and tortured:
Kareem Khan filed a $500 million lawsuit against the U.S. government after a drone strike killed both his brother and his son in 2010. Khan was kidnapped from his home on February 5 before he could testify before the E.U. Parliament. According to sources at CNN, the men who vanished Khan were wearing police uniforms. After his release was demanded by the Lahore High Court, he was released, and dumped from a van onto the street wearing a blindfold. A statement from Khan says that he plans to continue his work opposing U.S. drone strikes.
The Day We Fight Back:
Tuesday, a coalition of tech companies and activist organizations led a united front against NSA surveillance, called “ The Day We Fight Back.” Although smaller in scale, the action was reminiscent of the January 2012 opposition to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). Over 6000 organizations joined the call, including Reddit, Google, and Mozilla. Although some did not employ the use of the banner on their site, statements were issued in favor of the event. In total, 37 million users are said to have seen the banner, over 555,000 emails were sent to U.S. congressmen, and 301,000 signatures were obtained on a petition. In addition, the event was shared 420,000 times on Facebook, and it was tweeted over 84,000 times. The Day We Fight Back website was visited over a million times.
YourAnonNews highly recommends that our followers check out the Earth First! Direct Action Manual. Funds are currently being raised to print and distribute the recently updated manual on Indiegogo. Information recently leaked to the public illustrates how the FBI, working in tandem with local law enforcement agencies, as well as natural gas companies, falsely portray nonviolent anti-fracking protests by Earth First! (and other groups) as malicious, life-threatening eco-terrorists. But who are the real eco-terrorists?
Here are some incidents we noticed this week that we think may classify as eco-terrorism:
- There have been 3 oil spills in Singapore in the last two weeks, caused by tankers near harbor colliding with each other.
- A natural gas pipeline in Tioga, North Dakota exploded on Monday night.
- A Chevron-owned natural gas well exploded in Greene County, PA on Tuesday. (The fires continued well into Saturday afternoon.)
- On Tuesday, Patriot Coal, a Missouri-based coal company, spilled more than 100,000 gallons of coal slurry into a West Virginia river.
- U.S. prosecutors continue to fumble about, investigating whether or not the dumping of coal ash sludge into a North Carolina river used for drinking water constitutes a crime.
- As of Thursday, there are five ongoing “cracked earth” oil spills at a Canadian Natural Resources Limited facility in Alberta’s tar sands.
- On Friday, a train carrying Canadian oil derailed in Vandergrift, PA, spilling 3.5 - 4,500 gallons of heavy crude.
- Also on Friday, a new study showed that methane emissions from fracking in North America are far more destructive than the EPA has previously owned up to.
Trend 3 - Cyberwarfare is rapidly expanding across the globe:
Last week, a series of large DDoS attacks occurred, which seemingly originated from various countries, which experts say shows that “hacking” (lulz) is more often being used as a weapon by not only hackers, but governments and corporations as well.
- Comcast downplays serious hack, as user data was compromised.
- Careto ”The Mask” malware spying campaign was exposed after seven years in the wild. According to Reuters, “A computer security software firm has uncovered what it calls the first cyber espionage campaign believed to be started by a Spanish-speaking country, targeting government agencies, energy companies and activists in 31 countries.” As of now, the origins of The Mask are unknown .
- And RedHack, a hacker group who frequently collaborates with Anonymous, leaked the contacts of U.S. Embassy staff in Turkey
Trend 4 -Globalized Revolt
- Denouncing the gentrification and higher cost of living brought to their city by the tech industry, protesters in Seattle blockaded a Microsoft employee shuttle for 45 minutes on Monday. This action comes on the heels of similar “counterforce” protests against Google in the San Francisco bay area.
- Thousands marched on Brazil’s capital on Wednesday, demanding justice for landless farmers exploited by powerful Agribusiness interests.
- Thursday in Oakland, CA: Nine arrested in civil disobedience action at a State building, demanding the prosecution of killer cops.
- Thursday in Rome: 17 housing rights activists were arrested, while police attacked solidarity demonstrations.
- Friday in Minnesota: Anti-war activists confronted academic drone advocate Oren Gross at a speaking event.
- This week in Venezuela: Anti-government protests have escalated into rampant street clashes, with several protesters (both pro- and anti-government) killed. The Venezuelan government imposed censorship on Twitter, has deployed the armed forces against opposition forces, while claiming the demonstrations are an attempt by elite financial interests to overthrow a democratically elected government. Some media outlets have been caught red-handed spreading fake pictures associated with these protests.
- Widespread protest is unfolding in Bosnia (Herzegovina) against privatization, government corruption and economic inequality. Protesters have created popular assemblies called “Plenums” to make decisions in a non-hierarchical manner.
- In neighboring Montenegro, protests are also escalating due to widespread unemployment and political corruption.
Just one year ago, a small group of hackers, activists, journalists and agitators watched live via webcam as the FBI unexpectedly swept into the home of journalist and activist Barrett Brown. Brown’s screams could be heard between shouts of “FBI” and “put your hands down”. Brown was…
Anyone who was ever 18 and irresponsible once, take heed. Fox Carolina reported on Friday that a 27-year-old Pickens, South Carolina woman was arrested and detained this week for failing to return a VHS she rented in 2005 from a local video store. The woman, Kayla Finley, had gone to the police station to report an issue regarding harassment and stalking, and while she was at the station, officials there realized there was an old warrant out for her arrest.
A 13-year-old student at a school in Wales refused to submit to the data collection. Melody, whose last name is being withheld due to her age, doubted the school’s good intentions when it was declared that fingerprints were going to be collected from students in order to shorten lines in the cafeteria. A simple act of defiance was not enough for Melody, who discussed her idea for a one-person protest with her mother, Kirstie, over dinner. Her mother signed a form stating that she did not give consent for her daughter to be fingerprinted.
Following Pando’s exclusive report on a secret financing deal between public broadcasting officials and the nation’s leading anti-pension activist, officials from PBS have announced they are returning the $3.5 million from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation.
On December 18th, the Public Broadcasting Service’s flagship station WNET issued a press release announcing the launch of a new two-year news series entitled “Pension Peril.” The series, promoting cuts to public employee pensions, is airing on hundreds of PBS outlets all over the nation. It has been presented as objective news on major PBS programs including the PBS News Hour.
However, neither the WNET press release nor the broadcasted segments explicitly disclosed who is financing the series. Pando has exclusively confirmed that “Pension Peril” is secretly funded by former Enron trader John Arnold, a billionaire political powerbroker who is actively trying to shape the very pension policy that the series claims to be dispassionately covering.
Yesterday Sam Altman published a short post containing his thoughts on Secret, and also anonymity in general—namely that it breeds meanness, and that anonymous social networks are destined to decay and grow worse over time.
I strongly disagree. What I’ve observed is the opposite—that…
Barrett Brown was a noted researcher of mass surveillance techniques. He helped bring to light and spread the word about numerous capabilities which are provided by intelligence contractors under contract to the government, such as persona management, TrapWire, Romas/COIN and others. These…
I’d like Senator/Representative __ to support and co-sponsor H.R. 3361/S. 1599, the USA Freedom Act. I would also like you to oppose S. 1631, the so-called FISA Improvements Act. Moreover, I’d like you to work to prevent the NSA from undermining encryption standards and to protect the privacy rights of non-Americans.
Over the past eight months, millions of people throughout the world have learned new and disturbing facts about the indiscriminate efforts of the U.S. government to monitor, track, and catalog the most intimate details about our lives.
We know now that, regardless of our good intentions; our dedication to the preservation of liberty; and the patriotic sacrifices our families have made in service to our country; in the eyes of those we appointed to serve and protected us, our inherent right to live, free from the constant supervision of our own government, means nothing.
We often talk about the obscene ways in which governments treat activists and journalists, as if they face a greater risk to their freedom than the rest of society. In this case, however, it simply isn’t true. Regardless of whether you are a student or a professional, a soldier or an elected official, the government has placed your life under a microscope.
When you call your family, your friends, your doctor, or even your minister, your government is keeping a record. They know who you call, when you called, and where you were when the call was placed. This type of invasive monitoring applies not only to your phone, but to your online conversations as well.
The monitoring of U.S. citizens has repeatedly, and secretly, been authorized by federal judges and members of Congress. The power to track the daily activities of American citizens—who are not suspected of criminal activity—has been granted to the Department of Defense. (Or as it was known until the end of World War II, the Department of War.)
In addition to domestic spying, the NSA has engaged in corporate sabotage by funneling millions in taxpayer dollars to tech companies that, in turn, provided faulty security products to American consumers. The realization of this has already affected U.S. jobs, as foreign countries have chosen to seek contracts elsewhere.
Also… yes, in case you were wondering, the NSA has monitored people watching porn online with the sole intention of later damaging their reputations. (Thank you Edward Snowden for that terrifying bit of knowledge.)
What we know, by listening to public statements issued by federal agencies over the course of the past two years, is that these capabilities, and more, may inevitably end up in the hands of local law enforcement agents. Powerful, warrantless, and suspicionless spying by the police who patrol your neighborhood is a likely future scenario.
Ultimately, the point is this: a government that records every person you speak to, that tracks your movements on a daily basis, and then tries to tell you it’s for your own good, is not a government interested in preserving your freedoms. This is nonsensical propaganda at the heart of every great piece of dystopian literature, from Zamyatin to Orwell—your freedom must be sacrificed to ensure your survival.
Today is not just a day of action, it is an opportunity for you to loudly voice your opposition to this police state nightmare. It is an opportunity for you to join with countless others who believe in the inviolability of our civil rights.
Many have sacrificed it all just for the chance to be free. All we’re asking of you today is a phone call or an email. On that note, today is also the day we all can tell the NSA to go fuck themselves.
“The Fascist State organizes the nation, but leaves a sufficient margin of liberty to the individual; the latter is deprived of all useless and possibly harmful freedom, but retains what is essential; the deciding power in this question cannot be the individual, but the State alone.” - Benito Mussolini, 1932.
"Whether you agree with the activities of Anonymous or not — which have included everything from supporting the Arab Spring protests to DDoSing copyright organizations to doxing child pornography site users — the salient point is that democratic governments now seem to be using their very tactics against them.
"The key difference, however, is that while those involved in Anonymous can and have faced their day in court for those tactics, the British government has not. When Anonymous engages in lawbreaking, they are always taking a huge risk in doing so. But with unlimited resources and no oversight, organizations like the GCHQ (and theoretically the NSA) can do as they please. And it’s this power differential that makes all the difference…Scores of Anonymous hacktivists have already been arrested or jailed.
"Meanwhile, agencies like the GCHQ face no such risks, deterrents, consequences, oversight, or accountability. This scenario is all the more alarming given that some of Anonymous’ actions may be illegal and might warrant attention from some law enforcement agencies — but do not even come close to constituting a terrorist threat. And that means we’re inching into the same territory as the dictatorial regimes criticized by democratic governments for not respecting internet freedoms."
War on Anonymous: British Spies Attacked Hackers, Snowden Docs Show
A secret British spy unit created to mount cyber attacks on Britain’s enemies has waged war on the hacktivists of Anonymous and LulzSec, according to documents taken from the National Security Agency by Edward Snowden and obtained by NBC News.
The blunt instrument the spy unit used to target hackers, however, also interrupted the web communications of political dissidents who did not engage in any illegal hacking. It may also have shut down websites with no connection to Anonymous.
According to the documents, a division of Government Communications Headquarters Communications (GCHQ), the British counterpart of the NSA, shut down communications among Anonymous hacktivists by launching a “denial of service” (DDOS) attack – the same technique hackers use to take down bank, retail and government websites – making the British government the first Western government known to have conducted such an attack.