NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center

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MIT > LLGrid

Postby Allegro » Fri Jul 12, 2013 1:34 am

RESOURCE

Refer LLGrid > Interactive Supercomputing

In the page of origin are ten groups described by their functions, all of which follow the pasted introductory paragraph immediately below. Here are the groups, and their links are in the original.

    Group 101—ISR Systems and Architectures
    Group 102—Embedded and Open Systems
    Group 103—Advanced Sensor Techniques
    Group 104—Intelligence and Decision Technologies
    Group 105—Airborne Radar Systems and Techniques
    Group 106—Active Optical Systems
    Group 107—Advanced Capabilities and Systems
    Group 108—Tactical Defense Systems
    Group 109—Systems and Analysis
    Flight Facility

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ISR and Tactical Systems | MIT Lincoln Laboratory
tag: middleware, infrastructure, LLGrid, measurement, situational awareness, unmanned vehicle, interactive, supercomputer, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (ISR), counterterrorism, Air Force, air vehicle, electronic warfare. Paragraph spaces were added here for an easy read.

    The ISR and Tactical Systems Division leads MIT Lincoln Laboratory research and technology development for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) systems, counterterrorism, and Air Force activities including air vehicle survivability and electronic warfare.

    The division has significant expertise in radio-frequency (RF) and optical sensor technology, advanced signal processing, data fusion and exploitation, high-performance computing, and systems analysis.

    Significant field-testing activity is undertaken to understand phenomenology, to demonstrate new systems concepts in relevant environments, and to reconcile system performance models with real-world measurements. Examples of recent activities include the development of airborne 3D ladar for wide-area precision terrain mapping, new sensors to detect improvised explosive devices, service-oriented architecture prototyping for real-time situational awareness, and the development of very high-performance compact RF receivers for unmanned vehicle applications.

    The division operates LLGrid, the world’s largest interactive supercomputer, and the Lincoln Laboratory Flight Facility, which provides aircraft and ground support services for flight operations associated with Laboratory programs.

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LLgrid: Enabling On-Demand Grid Computing With gridMatlab and pMatlab
pdf 30 pp, dated 2004, MIT Lincoln Laboratory

Tags are not limited to: sweep, grid, data, infrastructure, node, network, interactive, computer, computing, ROI, measuring productivity. Paragraph spaces were added here for an easy read.

    Abstract: The concept of grid computing -- back-room computational resources that are as accessible and available as the electric grid -- has gained momentum recently. Numerous Grid computing projects such as NetSolve and Legion have provided infrastructure to enable the launching and monitoring of mostly parameter sweep applications.

    These Grid computing projects demand that users endure a steep learning curve to program and use the system. Also, these systems draw a strong distinction between the users’ computers and the grid computing resources: users’ work is done on their own computers, while grid jobs are executed on grid resources. A computational power grid should have characteristics similar to the electric power grids: always available, ubiquitous throughout the organization, and easy to use.

    The goal of the MIT Lincoln Laboratory Grid (LLgrid) project is to develop an On-Demand Grid Computing capability to address these characteristics and use MATLAB -- the dominant programming language for implementing numerical computations, widely used for algorithm development, simulation, data reduction, testing, and system evaluation -- as its initial target application.

    MIT Lincoln Laboratory has over one thousand MATLAB users; nearly two hundred users run very long jobs that could benefit from parallel processing. The LLgrid project has developed three technologies that allow these users to run parallel MATLAB jobs transparently on the LLgrid computational resources: MatlabMPI for point-to-point messaging; pMatlab for global array semantics (similar to High Performance Fortran); and gridMatlab for integrating users’ computers into the LLgrid and automatically allocating grid computing resources.

    Descriptors : *GRIDS, *MATHEMATICAL PROGRAMMING, *HIGH LEVEL LANGUAGES, SYMPOSIA, COMPUTATIONS, SEMANTICS, PARALLEL PROCESSING, RESOURCE MANAGEMENT, MESSAGE PROCESSING.

    Subject Categories : Operations Research, Computer Programming and Software

    Distribution Statement : APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE

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Edit: I deleted a sentence from my introduction, a sentence that didn’t make sense. Yeah, I do catch them, occasionally :).
Last edited by Allegro on Fri Jul 12, 2013 2:46 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Royal Air Force > US Air Force, UK > US Air Force, Europe

Postby Allegro » Fri Jul 12, 2013 2:32 am

RESOURCE

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Royal Air Force Menwith Hill, UK
    WIKI INTRODUCTION | RAF Menwith Hill is a Royal Air Force station near Harrogate, North Yorkshire, England which provides communications and intelligence support services to the United Kingdom and the United States of America. The site contains an extensive satellite ground station and is a communications intercept and missile warning site and has been described as the largest electronic monitoring station in the world.

    RAF Menwith Hill is commanded by a Royal Air Force Officer, supported by an RAF element, whilst the majority of support services are provided by the United States Air Force, 421st Air Base Group.

    The site acts as a ground station for a number of satellites operated by the US National Reconnaissance Office, on behalf of the US National Security Agency, with antennae contained in a large number of highly distinctive white radomes, and is alleged to be an element of the ECHELON system.

United States Air Force in the United Kingdom
    WIKI INTRODUCTION | Since 1941 the United States has maintained air bases in the United Kingdom. Major Commands of the USAF having bases in the United Kingdom were the United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE), Strategic Air Command (SAC), and Air Mobility Command (AMC).

United States Air Forces in Europe
    WIKI INTRODUCTION | The United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) is the United States Air Force component of U.S. European Command, a Department of Defense unified command, and is one of two Air Force Major Commands outside of the continental United States, the other being the Pacific Air Forces. It is, however, the only USAF Major Command to be headquartered outside of the United States.

    USAFE is headquartered at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. It is the oldest continuously active USAF major command, being constituted on 19 January 1942, as the 8 Air Force by the United States Army Air Forces. The command was activated on 1 February 1942, at Langley Field, Virginia.

    As of May 2013, the commander of USAFE is Lieutenant General Noel T. Jones, and Chief Master Sergeant Craig Adams is the Command Chief Master Sergeant, United States Air Forces in Europe. The command has more than 39,000 active-duty, Reserve and civilian employees assigned.

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Refer Lieutenant General Noel T. Jones; July 2008 - May 2010, Deputy Chief, Central Security Service, National Security Agency, Fort George G. Meade, Md.

Refer Chief Master Sergeant Craig Adams
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Re: NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center

Postby Allegro » Tue Jul 16, 2013 12:26 am

seemslikeadream » Thu Jun 27, 2013 7:51 am wrote:Image

A GCHQ facility at Menwith Hill in northern England: "Worse than the United States"

Image
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Re: NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center

Postby MinM » Tue Jul 16, 2013 10:55 am

Image @TimothyS: CHINATOWN with a twist: RT @FDLNewsDesk: New Utah NSA Spy Center Needs 1.7 Million Gallons Of Water A Day http://fdl.me/1bkvBni

Image
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Re: NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center

Postby Allegro » Wed Jul 24, 2013 10:24 am

Image
Art will be the last bastion when all else fades away.
~ Timothy White (b 1952), American rock music journalist
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Re: NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center

Postby elfismiles » Mon Aug 19, 2013 7:18 pm

MinM » 16 Jul 2013 14:55 wrote:
Image @TimothyS: CHINATOWN with a twist: RT @FDLNewsDesk: New Utah NSA Spy Center Needs 1.7 Million Gallons Of Water A Day http://fdl.me/1bkvBni

Image


New Utah NSA center requires 1.7M gallons of water daily to operate (Video)
By Andrew AdamsJuly 12th, 2013 @ 8:12pm
http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=2597892 ... -related-3
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GCHQ taps fibre-optic cables for secret access

Postby Allegro » Fri Sep 20, 2013 9:11 am

Highlights mine. Links in original.

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GCHQ taps fibre-optic cables for secret access to world’s communications
The Guardian, Ewen MacAskill, Julian Borger, Nick Hopkins, Nick Davies and James Ball | Friday 21 June 2013 12.23 EDT

Exclusive: British spy agency collects and stores vast quantities of global email messages, Facebook posts, internet histories and calls, and shares them with NSA, latest documents from Edward Snowden reveal

    Britain’s spy agency GCHQ has secretly gained access to the network of cables which carry the world’s phone calls and internet traffic and has started to process vast streams of sensitive personal information which it is sharing with its American partner, the National Security Agency (NSA).

    The sheer scale of the agency’s ambition is reflected in the titles of its two principal components: Mastering the Internet and Global Telecoms Exploitation, aimed at scooping up as much online and telephone traffic as possible. This is all being carried out without any form of public acknowledgement or debate.

    One key innovation has been GCHQ’s ability to tap into and store huge volumes of data drawn from fibre-optic cables for up to 30 days so that it can be sifted and analysed. That operation, codenamed Tempora, has been running for some 18 months.

    GCHQ and the NSA are consequently able to access and process vast quantities of communications between entirely innocent people, as well as targeted suspects.

    This includes recordings of phone calls, the content of email messages, entries on Facebook and the history of any internet user’s access to websites – all of which is deemed legal, even though the warrant system was supposed to limit interception to a specified range of targets.

    The existence of the programme has been disclosed in documents shown to the Guardian by the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden as part of his attempt to expose what he has called “the largest programme of suspicionless surveillance in human history”.

    “It’s not just a US problem. The UK has a huge dog in this fight,” Snowden told the Guardian. “They [GCHQ] are worse than the US.”

    However, on Friday a source with knowledge of intelligence argued that the data was collected legally under a system of safeguards, and had provided material that had led to significant breakthroughs in detecting and preventing serious crime.

    Britain’s technical capacity to tap into the cables that carry the world’s communications – referred to in the documents as special source exploitation – has made GCHQ an intelligence superpower.

    By 2010, two years after the project was first trialled, it was able to boast it had the “biggest internet access” of any member of the Five Eyes electronic eavesdropping alliance, comprising the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

    UK officials could also claim GCHQ “produces larger amounts of metadata than NSA”. (Metadata describes basic information on who has been contacting whom, without detailing the content.)

    By May last year 300 analysts from GCHQ, and 250 from the NSA, had been assigned to sift through the flood of data.

    The Americans were given guidelines for its use, but were told in legal briefings by GCHQ lawyers: “We have a light oversight regime compared with the US”.

    When it came to judging the necessity and proportionality of what they were allowed to look for, would-be American users were told it was “your call”.

    The Guardian understands that a total of 850,000 NSA employees and US private contractors with top secret clearance had access to GCHQ databases.

    The documents reveal that by last year GCHQ was handling 600m “telephone events” each day, had tapped more than 200 fibre-optic cables and was able to process data from at least 46 of them at a time.

    Each of the cables carries data at a rate of 10 gigabits per second, so the tapped cables had the capacity, in theory, to deliver more than 21 petabytes a day – equivalent to sending all the information in all the books in the British Library 192 times every 24 hours.

    And the scale of the programme is constantly increasing as more cables are tapped and GCHQ data storage facilities in the UK and abroad are expanded with the aim of processing terabits (thousands of gigabits) of data at a time.

    For the 2 billion users of the world wide web, Tempora represents a window on to their everyday lives, sucking up every form of communication from the fibre-optic cables that ring the world.

    The NSA has meanwhile opened a second window, in the form of the Prism operation, revealed earlier this month by the Guardian, from which it secured access to the internal systems of global companies that service the internet.

    The GCHQ mass tapping operation has been built up over five years by attaching intercept probes to transatlantic fibre-optic cables where they land on British shores carrying data to western Europe from telephone exchanges and internet servers in north America.

    This was done under secret agreements with commercial companies, described in one document as “intercept partners”.

    The papers seen by the Guardian suggest some companies have been paid for the cost of their co-operation and GCHQ went to great lengths to keep their names secret. They were assigned “sensitive relationship teams” and staff were urged in one internal guidance paper to disguise the origin of “special source” material in their reports for fear that the role of the companies as intercept partners would cause “high-level political fallout”.

    The source with knowledge of intelligence said on Friday the companies were obliged to co-operate in this operation. They are forbidden from revealing the existence of warrants compelling them to allow GCHQ access to the cables.

    “There’s an overarching condition of the licensing of the companies that they have to co-operate in this. Should they decline, we can compel them to do so. They have no choice.”

    The source said that although GCHQ was collecting a “vast haystack of data” what they were looking for was “needles”.

    “Essentially, we have a process that allows us to select a small number of needles in a haystack. We are not looking at every piece of straw. There are certain triggers that allow you to discard or not examine a lot of data so you are just looking at needles. If you had the impression we are reading millions of emails, we are not. There is no intention in this whole programme to use it for looking at UK domestic traffic – British people talking to each other,” the source said.

    He explained that when such “needles” were found a log was made and the interception commissioner could see that log.

    “The criteria are security, terror, organised crime. And economic well-being. There’s an auditing process to go back through the logs and see if it was justified or not. The vast majority of the data is discarded without being looked at … we simply don’t have the resources.”

    However, the legitimacy of the operation is in doubt. According to GCHQ’s legal advice, it was given the go-ahead by applying old law to new technology. The 2000 Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa) requires the tapping of defined targets to be authorised by a warrant signed by the home secretary or foreign secretary.

    However, an obscure clause allows the foreign secretary to sign a certificate for the interception of broad categories of material, as long as one end of the monitored communications is abroad. But the nature of modern fibre-optic communications means that a proportion of internal UK traffic is relayed abroad and then returns through the cables.

    Parliament passed the Ripa law to allow GCHQ to trawl for information, but it did so 13 years ago with no inkling of the scale on which GCHQ would attempt to exploit the certificates, enabling it to gather and process data regardless of whether it belongs to identified targets.

    The categories of material have included fraud, drug trafficking and terrorism, but the criteria at any one time are secret and are not subject to any public debate. GCHQ’s compliance with the certificates is audited by the agency itself, but the results of those audits are also secret.

    An indication of how broad the dragnet can be was laid bare in advice from GCHQ’s lawyers, who said it would be impossible to list the total number of people targeted because “this would be an infinite list which we couldn’t manage”.

    There is an investigatory powers tribunal to look into complaints that the data gathered by GCHQ has been improperly used, but the agency reassured NSA analysts in the early days of the programme, in 2009: “So far they have always found in our favour”.

    Historically, the spy agencies have intercepted international communications by focusing on microwave towers and satellites. The NSA’s intercept station at Menwith Hill in North Yorkshire played a leading role in this. One internal document quotes the head of the NSA, Lieutenant General Keith Alexander, on a visit to Menwith Hill in June 2008, asking: “Why can’t we collect all the signals all the time? Sounds like a good summer project for Menwith.”

    By then, however, satellite interception accounted for only a small part of the network traffic. Most of it now travels on fibre-optic cables, and the UK’s position on the western edge of Europe gave it natural access to cables emerging from the Atlantic.

    The data collected provides a powerful tool in the hands of the security agencies, enabling them to sift for evidence of serious crime. According to the source, it has allowed them to discover new techniques used by terrorists to avoid security checks and to identify terrorists planning atrocities. It has also been used against child exploitation networks and in the field of cyberdefence.

    It was claimed on Friday that it directly led to the arrest and imprisonment of a cell in the Midlands who were planning co-ordinated attacks; to the arrest of five Luton-based individuals preparing acts of terror, and to the arrest of three London-based people planning attacks prior to the Olympics.

    As the probes began to generate data, GCHQ set up a three-year trial at the GCHQ station in Bude, Cornwall. By the summer of 2011, GCHQ had probes attached to more than 200 internet links, each carrying data at 10 gigabits a second. “This is a massive amount of data!” as one internal slideshow put it. That summer, it brought NSA analysts into the Bude trials. In the autumn of 2011, it launched Tempora as a mainstream programme, shared with the Americans.

    The intercept probes on the transatlantic cables gave GCHQ access to its special source exploitation. Tempora allowed the agency to set up internet buffers so it could not simply watch the data live but also store it – for three days in the case of content and 30 days for metadata.

    “Internet buffers represent an exciting opportunity to get direct access to enormous amounts of GCHQ’s special source data,” one document explained.

    The processing centres apply a series of sophisticated computer programmes in order to filter the material through what is known as MVR – massive volume reduction. The first filter immediately rejects high-volume, low-value traffic, such as peer-to-peer downloads, which reduces the volume by about 30%. Others pull out packets of information relating to “selectors” – search terms including subjects, phone numbers and email addresses of interest. Some 40,000 of these were chosen by GCHQ and 31,000 by the NSA. Most of the information extracted is “content”, such as recordings of phone calls or the substance of email messages. The rest is metadata.

    The GCHQ documents that the Guardian has seen illustrate a constant effort to build up storage capacity at the stations at Cheltenham, Bude and at one overseas location, as well a search for ways to maintain the agency’s comparative advantage as the world’s leading communications companies increasingly route their cables through Asia to cut costs. Meanwhile, technical work is ongoing to expand GCHQ’s capacity to ingest data from new super cables carrying data at 100 gigabits a second. As one training slide told new users: “You are in an enviable position – have fun and make the most of it.”
Art will be the last bastion when all else fades away.
~ Timothy White (b 1952), American rock music journalist
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Surveillance: From Image to Archive

Postby Allegro » Fri Sep 20, 2013 3:57 pm

RESOURCE

Highlights mine. Footnotes in original.

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Surveillance: From Image to Archive
Critical Legal Thinking, Jake Goldenfein • 18 June 2013

    Although we may no longer be able to limit the amount or scope of inform­a­tion about us that is col­lec­ted, pri­vacy still has a role in reg­u­lat­ing how it is used, and in dimin­ish­ing the neg­at­ive con­sequences that can occur.

    Sur­veil­lance has become alarm­ingly com­mon­place. CCTV cam­eras, mobile phones, aer­ial drones, web­cams, auto­mated num­ber plate recog­ni­tion, facial recog­ni­tion and other bio­met­ric meas­ures, DNA data­bases, radio fre­quency iden­ti­fic­a­tion (RFID) chips in trans­port tick­ets and credit cards, and gov­ern­ment data-​mining pro­grams — these all rep­res­ent a type of gov­ernance that relies on inform­a­tion obtained from cit­izens. This flow of data enables effi­cient admin­is­tra­tion, but the price of these ser­vices is provid­ing insti­tu­tions with our per­sonal inform­a­tion. Often, in con­texts like law enforce­ment, secur­ity and intel­li­gence, that inform­a­tion is col­lec­ted without con­sent to build com­pre­hens­ive files and dossiers on cit­izens. The recent rev­el­a­tions of pro­found data mon­it­or­ing by the US National Secur­ity Agency though its PRISM speak to pro­found capa­city for such sur­veil­lance prac­tices. But com­mu­nic­a­tions inter­cep­tion in an old idea, and in Bri­tain, as early as 1657, mail open­ing was legit­im­ised through a pro­clam­a­tion that the state post office was “the best means to dis­cover and pre­vent any dan­ger­ous designs against the Com­mon­wealth”.1

    How­ever, because elec­tronic com­mu­nic­a­tion leaves last­ing traces, gov­ern­ments are now able to access archives of tele­com­mu­nic­a­tions (inter­net, mobile phone, email and so on) inform­a­tion through man­dat­ory data reten­tion regimes. These sur­veil­lance laws require com­mu­nic­a­tions pro­viders to retain their cli­ents’ data for a pre­scribed period and oper­ate on a dubi­ous dis­tinc­tion between tele­com­mu­nic­a­tions ‘con­tent’ and tele­com­mu­nic­a­tions ‘traffic data’ — the lat­ter of which can gen­er­ally be accessed without judi­cial over­sight (warranting).

    Pri­vacy, both as a legal régime and the polit­ical concept behind the rule of law (the idea that gov­ern­mental power should be lim­ited and not arbit­rary), is the primary idea deployed to pro­tect us from these sur­veil­lance prac­tices. A good example of pri­vacy inform­ing lib­eral polit­ical the­ory can be seen in the work of con­sti­tu­tional the­or­ist Thomas Erskine May, who wrote in 1863:

      Next to import­ance to per­sonal free­dom is immunity from sus­pi­cions and jeal­ous obser­va­tion. Men may be without restraints on their liberty; they may pass to and fro at please: but if their steps are tracked by spies and inform­ers, their words noted down for crim­in­a­tion, their asso­ci­ates watched as con­spir­at­ors — who shall say that they are free?2

    Although the­or­ies of lib­er­al­ism demand the cur­tail­ing of gov­ern­mental intru­sion into private life, it is argu­able that West­ern gov­ern­ments have changed so sig­ni­fic­antly that sur­veil­lance has become an import­ant ref­er­ence point for our exper­i­ence of mod­ern­ity. A new move­ment in schol­ar­ship has there­fore emerged arguing that ‘pri­vacy’ is too indi­vidu­al­istic a mech­an­ism for deal­ing with the grand-​scale social trans­form­a­tions of ‘sur­veil­lance society’.

    How­ever, it now seems almost banal to decry the impos­i­tion of mon­it­or­ing in our lives, or lament a world inter­con­nec­ted increas­ingly through medi­ated rep­res­ent­a­tion. To dis­cuss the death of pri­vacy in this con­text is a sim­pli­fic­a­tion, or even a mis­un­der­stand­ing of what these legal con­structs can offer. Pri­vacy is an old concept (going back to Roman law, wherein the cit­izen was under­stood as ante­cedent to the state) but in the last 40 years pri­vacy laws have increas­ingly addressed gov­ern­ment sur­veil­lance in an attempt to cir­cum­scribe its more per­ni­cious effects.

    The prob­lems pro­duced by sur­veil­lance have been thor­oughly dis­cussed in pre­vi­ous schol­ar­ship. These authors often elab­or­ate or extend Michel Foucault’s obser­va­tions on the pan­op­ticon prison, par­tic­u­larly the use of vis­ib­il­ity as a mech­an­ism of dis­cip­lin­ary power and self-​subjugation. In this way sur­veil­lance is linked to privacy’s con­cern for defend­ing indi­vidu­al­ity and per­son­hood against a norm­at­ive state appar­atus. How­ever, there are spe­cific issues, more closely asso­ci­ated with the rela­tion­ship between sur­veil­lance and ‘the archive’, that speak dir­ectly to the state of sur­veil­lance in con­tem­por­ary life and the capa­city of pri­vacy law to deal with those harms.

    Police Pho­to­graphy

    Although mail inter­cep­tion began in the sev­en­teenth cen­tury, it was not until the devel­op­ment of pho­to­graphy in the nine­teenth cen­tury that gov­ern­ments pos­sessed the most potent means to make vis­ible (and ‘man­age’) vag­rants, crim­in­als and other ‘degenerates’.

    Although pho­to­graphy developed through­out the nine­teenth cen­tury as a medium of bour­geois self-​identity, it also served a repress­ive func­tion based on its ‘object­ive’ char­ac­ter. As Peter Hamilton and Roger Har­greaves argue in their book The Beau­ti­ful and the Damned (2001):

      We see a coun­ter­part to the social por­trait­ure of lead­ing (and less exal­ted) fig­ures of the age in the anthro­po­lo­gical, med­ical, and judi­cial por­traits designed to record, clas­sify and con­trol sub­ject races, degen­er­ate bod­ies and devi­ant individuals.

    The belief that images were a source of know­ledge endowed pho­to­graphy with an instru­mental char­ac­ter per­fect for crim­inal iden­ti­fic­a­tion and the admin­is­tra­tion of justice. To that end, mug­shots of Bel­gian pris­on­ers have been dated as far back as 1843, only a few years after the inven­tion of the daguerreotype pro­cess, and the idea that sur­veil­lance cam­eras would sweep city streets was pos­tu­lated as early as 1869.3

    Iden­ti­fi­able crim­inal images pre­ven­ted indi­vidu­als unknown to offi­cials from rep­res­ent­ing that they were first time offend­ers, enabling judges to accord ‘proper’ treat­ment. The suc­cess of that pho­to­graphic applic­a­tion was evid­ent in Britain’s passing of the Habitual Crim­in­als Act in 1869, which in the Vic­torian tra­di­tion of cat­egor­isa­tion and class divi­sion estab­lished a pho­to­graphic register of ‘dan­ger­ous classes’. How­ever, that gen­er­ated prob­lems of rap­idly grow­ing pho­to­graphic registers with no way to effect­ively search them. French police offi­cial Alphonse Ber­til­lon even­tu­ally resolved that issue by using spe­cific ‘sig­naletic’ meas­ure­ments of the adult body which could be used to describe, and clas­sify, pho­to­graphic sub­jects through text.4 It was the first sys­tem in which images and their sub­jects were reduced to data for the sake of iden­ti­fic­a­tion, allow­ing retrieval of images sys­tem­at­ic­ally filed away. But in addi­tion to pro­vok­ing sys­tem­atic indexes of crim­in­als for iden­ti­fic­a­tion, police pho­to­graphy had other potent effects.

    In The Bur­den of Rep­res­ent­a­tion (1988), John Tagg argues there was a sym­bi­otic devel­op­ment of pho­to­graphy and national police forces. He says in order for poli­cing to be effect­ive it required “an instru­ment of per­man­ent, exhaust­ive, omni­present sur­veil­lance, cap­able of mak­ing all vis­ible”. To that end, photography’s deploy­ment as an instru­ment of power became a way of know­ing crim­in­als and crimin­al­ity — not simply indi­vidual offend­ers, but the groups that com­prised the crim­inal classes. That belief led to eugen­i­cist pho­to­graphic pro­jects that attemp­ted to identify a crim­inal mean or type. Fran­cis Galton’s com­pos­ite por­traits5 and Cesare Lambroso’s crim­inal skulls6 are power­ful examples.

    Two dis­tinct con­sequences there­fore arise from the prac­tice of police pho­to­graphy. First, images enter police data­bases where they are sys­tem­at­ised, indi­vidu­ated and iden­ti­fied; images become asso­ci­ated with actual human beings rep­res­en­ted in bur­eau­cratic fil­ing sys­tems. Second, the sub­ject becomes defined as a mem­ber of the sub­nor­mal classes, pro­duced as a crim­in­ally sus­pect object of know­ledge, and inscribed in a hier­arch­ical sys­tem of social rela­tions described by Alan Sekula as ‘the Archive’. This bur­eau­cratic com­plex estab­lished the ter­rain of ‘the other’, and defined “both the gen­er­al­ised look—the typo­logy — and the con­tin­gent instance of devi­ance and social patho­logy.”7 To be pho­to­graphed by police meant being inter­preted, and even con­struc­ted, as criminal.

    It is inter­est­ing that pri­vacy jur­is­pru­dence has now begun to embrace the risk of stig­mat­isa­tion asso­ci­ated with police pho­to­graphy as dir­ectly related to private life. To that end, there has been a recent string of European Court of Human Rights cases that have pro­hib­ited photo and video sur­veil­lance prac­tices because of the pre­ju­dices attend­ant on the complainant’s image being stored in a police file.

    How­ever, the cre­ation of (and prob­lems from) the archive only began with image mak­ing. Although pho­to­graphy at first seemed a tech­no­logy of unri­valled doc­u­ment­ary capa­city, it was not long until its lim­it­a­tions were real­ised. For instance, Michael Roth has argued the absence of tem­por­al­ity in pho­to­graphy requires fram­ing devices to provide con­text and mean­ing.8 Through­out the twen­ti­eth cen­tury, one such fram­ing device was the archive and its asso­ci­ated indi­vidual files and dossiers.

    The Archive as Witness

    Richard Allestree (1619 – 1681) wrote in The Gov­ern­ment of the Tongue (1675):

      Though we think our words van­ish with the breath that utters them, yet they become records in God’s court, and are laid up in the archives as wit­nesses either for us or against us.

    The quote above, used in the defin­i­tion of ‘archive’ in the first Eng­lish lan­guage dic­tion­ary of 1755, alerts us to two sig­ni­fic­ant archival effects. First, archives embrace more than merely images, but also all the words we utter, and now more than words too. In the con­tem­por­ary envir­on­ment, every com­mu­nic­at­ive action, doc­u­ment, and trans­ac­tional detail we pro­duce is aggreg­ated into pro­files and access­ible to cer­tain insti­tu­tions. The res­ult is a repro­duc­tion of the sub­ject in the archive — the cre­ation of a ‘digital double’ or ‘data image’. Although the vir­tu­al­ised sub­ject is a pop­u­lar topic in con­tem­por­ary the­ory, it was a con­di­tion that began with the index­ic­al­ity of the image, and increased through the addi­tion of other data and inform­a­tion in dossiers.

    The second effect to be drawn from Allestree’s quote is the con­nec­tion of archives to records in “God’s court”, which can eas­ily be trans­figured as the judg­ment of the state. In fact, in Archive Fever (1998) Der­rida describes how the word ‘archive’ derives from the Greek arkhe—the place where power ori­gin­ates — as well as the arkheion, the home or address of the super­ior magis­trates (the arch­ons) who applied the law through their right to inter­pret doc­u­ments. The archive thus calls law into being. With the idea that mod­ern states are estab­lished under the rule of law, we can there­fore under­stand the archive as con­stitutive of both the cit­izen and the state.

    Cor­ne­lia Vis­mann has argued, how­ever, that the main­ten­ance of gov­ern­ment archives inter­rupts the pro­cesses through which cit­izens define them­selves as sub­jects. For instance, she says the trans­form­a­tion of an indi­vidual into an object to be clas­si­fied in a file is neces­sar­ily inim­ical to the way sub­jects pro­duce them­selves — by estab­lish­ing a feed­back with their own actions. Vis­mann argues that files con­sequently become “the medium instru­ment­ally involved in the dif­fer­en­ti­ation pro­cesses that pit the state against soci­ety and admin­is­tra­tion against cit­izenry… The state com­piles records, soci­ety demands their dis­clos­ure.”9

    In response, the past 40 years have seen the devel­op­ment of legal regimes spe­cific­ally address­ing the increas­ing amount of inform­a­tion in insti­tu­tional data­bases. These data pro­tec­tion (inform­a­tion pri­vacy) laws gen­er­ally provide a right of ‘access’ to data sub­jects — an idea rep­res­ent­ing a new pro­ject of ‘self-​correction’ for the sub­jects of state power.

    Unfor­tu­nately, these laws have lim­ited applic­a­tion to files gen­er­ated and held by intel­li­gence, secur­ity or law enforce­ment agen­cies. Exemp­tions for those agen­cies are based on the belief that dis­clos­ing the mere exist­ence of an invest­ig­a­tion will cause the invest­ig­a­tion to be under­mined. How­ever, the prob­lems of police files are even more com­plex because they include a dis­turb­ing dimen­sion of sub­ject­ive assess­ment. Police files routinely con­tain spec­u­la­tion on sub­jects’ beha­viour, dis­pos­i­tion and crimin­al­ity. That means that as well as col­lect­ing images and data, police files also include a great deal of opin­ion and sub­ject­ive depiction.

    Thus when it comes to law enforce­ment files — the cat­egory of data­bases least pro­tec­ted by data pro­tec­tion regimes — an addi­tional harm emerges bey­ond the risk of stig­mat­isa­tion: the risk that inform­a­tion in the file will be badly read. In other words, incor­rect inter­pret­a­tions about file sub­jects can be inferred from data that may be inac­cur­ate, inad­equate, out of con­text or date, or mere con­jec­ture. So data sub­jects there­fore risk gen­er­at­ing not only a ‘data double’ (a medi­ated resemb­lance) but also a ‘triple’ — an insti­tu­tion­ally dis­tor­ted dis­semb­lance. Para­dox­ic­ally, the solu­tion to such dis­tor­tions may not be a reduc­tion in the scope of sur­veil­lance, but rather ensur­ing that insti­tu­tions obtain a fuller or more com­plete pic­ture of their subject.

    Pre­vent­ing stig­mat­isa­tion and provid­ing rights of access, accur­acy and cor­rec­tion are becom­ing more import­ant for how con­tem­por­ary pri­vacy law is under­stood and applied. Although we may no longer be able to limit the amount or scope of inform­a­tion about us that is col­lec­ted, pri­vacy still has a role in reg­u­lat­ing how it is used, and in dimin­ish­ing the neg­at­ive con­sequences that can occur. Arguing that ‘pri­vacy is dead’ is not par­tic­u­larly help­ful at all.

    Jake Golden­fein is a PhD can­did­ate at the Centre for Media and Com­mu­nic­a­tions Law at Mel­bourne Law School, the Uni­ver­sity of Melbourne.

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Audit reveals widespread problems in Navy security system

Postby Allegro » Fri Sep 27, 2013 9:07 am

Propositional Reference
The Quasi Government: Hybrid Organizations with Both Government and Private Sector Legal Characteristics

Kevin R. Kosar | Analyst in American National Government
June 22, 2011

_________________
Highlights mine. Links in original.

_________________
Audit reveals widespread problems in security system used by the Navy
Center for Public Integrity, Rebecca LaFlure, Jeffrey Smith | Updated: 1:39 pm, September 23, 2013

Pentagon auditor discloses Navy use of unusual contracting procedure to acquire system that does not vet visitors against a key criminal database

    For years, hundreds of thousands of contractors seeking regular access to key Navy installations have merely paid a fee and typed identifying information into ATM-like machines installed on those bases. They were then able to gain temporary access without first going through a background check, even though Navy and White House regulations require such checks be completed beforehand.

    Known as Rapidgate, the access control system is now in operation for contractors, vendors, service workers, and suppliers who regularly pass through not just Navy checkpoints — but also those at more than 150 military and government installations around the country, including the Washington Navy Yard, the site of the Sept. 16 shooting rampage.

    Last week, an internal Pentagon report called into question how the Rapidgate system became so widely used by the Navy and urged its immediate cancellation at those sites, saying it provides a false sense of security that puts government personnel at risk. The Navy, it said, had contracted for the system through irregular acquisition practices.

    Included among its current users are the Virginia Beach base where Navy Seal forces train, the Naval Observatory in Washington that includes the residence of the Vice President, the Maryland site of the Army’s top security chemical and biological laboratories, 15 major U.S. Army bases, the Coast Guard’s academy in Connecticut and its headquarters in Washington, and the Navy’s Trident ballistic missile submarine bases in Connecticut and Georgia, according to the website of Rapidgate’s operator, Eid Passport, Inc., based in Oregon.

    At Navy bases alone, more than 290,000 contract employees have obtained passes through the system that has Rapidgate at its heart. Most of its expenses are directly paid by applicants for the passes, not from the military services and other government agencies responsible for enforcing post-9/11 security rules meant to protect personnel and families at government facilities from terrorism and other threats.

    Some of the results, according to a new audit by the Pentagon’s Office of Inspector General, have not been pretty. At the ten Navy installations where investigators probed the Rapidgate system’s operation, at least 52 felons, some convicted of serious drug or sexual offenses, were given unsupervised access for periods ranging from two months to three years, the inspector general’s office said in a report dated Sept. 16 that was initially labeled “For Official Use Only,” blocking its public release.

    “This placed military personnel, dependents, civilians, and installations at an increased security risk,” the report said.

    Although the Inspector General’s office planned to release a redacted version of the report, House Armed Services Committee chairman Buck McKeon, R-Ca., helped force its immediate disclosure a day after a contractor with a security clearance and a history of bizarre personal behavior killed 12 people at the Navy Yard with a pistol and shotgun. The contractor, Aaron Alexis, was then fatally shot by police. He held a higher-level naval facilities access card, not one granted through the Rapidgate program.

    But the shooting — and the Inspector General’s report — have nonetheless brought sudden attention to Rapidgate, a system that has quietly helped its owner Eid Passport’s revenues increase six-fold from 2008 to 2011. The firm, whose board of directors is packed with former senior military and civilian officials including ex-Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, was the 15th fastest growing security company in 2013, according to the Inc. 5000.

    The Navy work alone is pulling in annual revenue of $53 million, according to a Navy estimate cited in the inspector general report, which faulted the Navy for circumventing normal competition requirements in striking the deal.

    The Oregonian newspaper quoted Eid Passport’s chief executive officer, Steve Larson, as saying last August that board members such as Ridge, the retired combatant commander of the U.S. Northern Command and the former commandant of the Coast Guard “have been just overwhelmingly phenomenal at getting us in, opening doors and that sort of thing.”

    The company will need those contacts more than ever in the weeks ahead. The Inspector General’s report recommended that the Navy scrap Rapidgate immediately, noting that nine of the 10 naval installations where investigators examined its use, the company gave out temporary passes before completing background checks.

    When they occurred, it said, the checks mostly involved databases drawn from public records where the applicant reported residing, which were often outdated and incomplete. Derogatory information was missed, the report said. These records, according to Eid Passport, typically were those from court systems, corrections departments, law enforcement, sex offender registries and other related state, county and municipal sources.

    The inspector general’s office faulted the company — and the Navy — for not routinely checking the applicants against more accurate government criminal and terrorist databases. It also faulted Navy officers for knowingly accepting the associated security risks, which it said had given the commanders of those bases “a false sense of security” that their personnel were protected from hostile actions.

    “We recommend [that the Navy] … immediately discontinue use of Rapidgate and any other system that exclusively uses publicly available databases to vet and adjudicate contractor employees accessing Navy installations, and replace it with a system or process that meets Federal and DOD requirements for background vetting,” said the report, signed by Alice F. Carey, an assistant inspector general for readiness, operations and support.

    Sen. Claire McCaskill, who chairs the Homeland Security’s financial and contracting oversight subcommittee and who requested the report in response to the complaint of a whistleblower about Eid Passport’s contract with the Navy in June 2012, said in a statement that the report’s findings were “deeply concerning,” and endorsed the program’s immediate cancellation.

    “This program wasted money, allowed dozens of felons access to installations they should never have had, and utterly lacked competent oversight,” McCaskill said in a written statement. “It’s clear that its existence constitutes an unnecessary danger to the Navy and its personnel.”

    Navy spokeswoman Courtney Hillson said that vetting through the access control system had barred access to 27,261 vendors and suppliers. Other Navy officials added that in the wake of the Navy Yard shooting, the Defense Department was reviewing physical security and access controls at all of its installations, worldwide. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel also planned to have the issue reviewed by an independent panel, they said.

    Eid Passport’s chairman and CEO, responded that the company “welcomes audits as they continue to drive the industry to improve identity management systems and processes.” He said the firm “is working with the Navy and looks forward to working with the DOD to further refine and advance the world’s best high-assurance identity management solution.”

    It’s unclear whether military services besides the Navy and other government installations that use Rapidgate are checking applicant names themselves against two special federal databases considered vital resources by the inspector general — the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) and the Terrorist Screening Database.

    Bridget Serchak, a spokesperson for the IG, said she was not aware of any plan to conduct a wider probe of Rapidgate’s use outside the Navy. But the report said that in 7 of the 10 installations it examined, the Navy was not conducting these checks itself for all applicants.

    The Navy disputed that claim, but if accurate, it explains in part why the door was left ajar for convicted felons to gain repeat access to its bases. And if it is replicated elsewhere, it creates risks that go well beyond those documented in the report, CPI’s investigation has found.

    The reason is that Eid Passport never conducts NCIC checks at any of the installations where Rapidgate is in operation. “Rapidgate relies exclusively on unreliable public databases,” the inspector general’s report complained.

    As John Nee, the vice president of marketing for Eid Passport, explained in an e-mail and telephone interview, Eid Passport does not have the “authorizations and approvals necessary” to search the NCIC, which is not open to the public. Nee said using that database has been “part of the plan for some time,” and the company is looking into how to add it to their screening process.

    He declined to address whether the firm has access to the Terrorist Screening database. But the report said it did not at Navy installations, and a Navy official said in the report that the Defense Department is still “working” to give all of its facilities direct access to that data.

    Defense Department spokesmen did not respond to questions about whether NCIC checks had been omitted at other installations where Rapidgate is being used, a circumstance that could open the door to other felons gaining repeat access.

    But the report has added fuel to a growing political uproar over the military’s troubled efforts to protect its own personnel and to safeguard sensitive security information accessed by contractors such as Edward Snowden.

    White House press secretary Jay Carney said at a press briefing Sept. 17 that President Barack Obama has directed the Office of Management and Budget to examine security clearance standards for contractors and employees, while Merton Miller, Associate Director of Federal Investigative Services of the Office of Personnel Management, the agency that organized the screening of Alexis by a different federal contractor — USIS — in 2007, also said in a statement that OPM is reviewing security clearance standards with OMB and the Director of National Intelligence.

    Already, the White House — through OMB — requires a background check be done for before providing access to government facilities and installations for more than six months. The rules specifically require vetting against federal databases, according to the inspector general’s report. It complained that many of those who used Rapidgate were given access for a year without such checks.

    But the requirements were muddied by the fact that Defense Department’s own rules allow some leeway, requiring checks against the terrorist database and national criminal databaseas resources, law, and capabilities permit,” according to the report. Also, the Navy claimed the requirement did not apply to the contractors at issue who visited its bases – a claim that the inspector general disputed.

    The Navy launched what it calls its Commercial Access Control System, which relies on Rapidgate, in July 2010 to replace access controls created by individual bases for those who need frequent access but don’t qualify for the credentials typically given to military service members and Defense Department employees.

    One card-holder, who had been convicted of “conspiracy to distribute” cocaine in 2000, gained unescorted access before a renewal check turned up a record of his conviction, according to the IG report. Another gained access for 91 days until a second records check in January 2012 found the employee had been convicted of a sexual offense fifteen years earlier. The IG report also noted that Navy installations often house child development centers, schools, and family housing.

    Periodic re-checks also revealed others had felony records for drug possession, assault, theft and throwing an object at an occupied vehicle. Naval criminal investigations staff told investigators that they now planned to run 3,000 more cardholders through criminal databases to see if any other felons went unnoticed, according to the IG report.

    Although the Navy’s antiterrorism office claimed at the outset that Rapidgate would cost the service little — mostly for the phone lines, power, and space needed by the ATM-like kiosks — the inspectors discovered that contractors were covering the fees by jacking up their overhead costs and other Navy-paid expenses. It found $1.2 million in such expenses was reimbursed to companies such as Goodwill Industries, DynCorp International, BAE Systems, and Huntington Ingalls. A cost analysis belatedly performed by the antiterrorism office, which projected hundreds of millions of dollars in “cost avoidance” was flawed, the inspector’s report said.

    “The costs associated [with the program] … are unknown but could be exorbitant,” it said.

    The report also noted that when the antiterrorism office made its first purchase of Rapidgate kiosks, it bought seven subscriptions and spent $2,499 for each one. That amount happened to be a dollar less than the amount detailed in Navy rules that required “open market” competition.

    After some Navy officials complained, the antiterrorism office ordered the subscriptions renewed and expanded, at a cost of millions of dollars under unusual subcontracts, which the inspectors found also circumvented federal rules.

    “The Navy has not had valid contractual coverage” for the work since 2011, they said, and may have paid $1.1 million for “unallowable costs” related to it.
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NSA employee spied on nine women without detection

Postby Allegro » Mon Sep 30, 2013 10:12 am

NSA employee spied on nine women without detection, internal file shows
theguardian.com, Paul Lewis | 27 September 2013 17.08 EDT

Twelve cases of unauthorised surveillance documented in letter from NSA’s inspector general to senator Chuck Grassley

    A National Security Agency employee was able to secretly intercept the phone calls of nine foreign women for six years without ever being detected by his managers, the agency’s internal watchdog has revealed.

    The unauthorised abuse of the NSA’s surveillance tools only came to light after one of the women, who happened to be a US government employee, told a colleague that she suspected the man – with whom she was having a sexual relationship – was listening to her calls.

    The case is among 12 documented in a letter from the NSA’s inspector general to a leading member of Congress, who asked for a breakdown of cases in which the agency’s powerful surveillance apparatus was deliberately abused by staff. One relates to a member of the US military who, on the first day he gained access to the surveillance system, used it to spy on six email addresses belonging to former girlfriends.

    The letter, from Dr George Ellard, only lists cases that were investigated and later “substantiated” by his office. But it raises the possibility that there are many more cases that go undetected. In a quarter of the cases, the NSA only found out about the misconduct after the employee confessed.

    It also reveals limited disciplinary action taken against NSA staff found to have abused the system. In seven cases, individuals guilty of abusing their powers resigned or retired before disciplinary action could be taken. Two civilian employees kept their jobs – and, it appears, their security clearance – and escaped with only a written warning after they were found to have conducted unauthorised interceptions.

    The abuses – technically breaches of the law – did not result in a single prosecution, even though more than half of the cases were referred to the Department of Justice. The DoJ did not respond to a request for information about why no charges were brought.

    The NSA’s director, Gen Keith Alexander, referred to the 12 cases in testimony to a congressional hearing on Thursday. He told senators on the intelligence committee that abuse of the NSA’s powerful monitoring tools were “with very rare exception” unintentional mistakes.

    “The press claimed evidence of thousands of privacy violations. This is false and misleading,” he said.

    “According to NSA’s independent inspector general, there have been only 12 substantiated cases of willful violation over 10 years. Essentially, one per year.”

    He added: “Today, NSA has a privacy compliance program any leader of a large, complex organization would be proud of.”

    However, the small number cases depicted in the inspector general’s letter, which was published by Republican senator Chuck Grassley, could betray a far larger number that NSA managers never uncovered.

    One of the cases emerged in 2011, when an NSA employee based abroad admitted during a lie-detector case that he had obtained details about his girlfriend’s telephone calls “out of curiosity”. He retired last year.

    In a similar case, from 2005, an NSA employee admitted to obtaining his partner’s phone data to determine whether she was “involved” with any foreign government officials. In a third, a female NSA employee said she listened to calls on an unknown foreign telephone number she discovered stored on his cell phone, suspecting he “had been unfaithful”.

    In another case, from two years ago, which was only discovered during an investigation another matter, a woman employee of the agency confessed that she had obtained information about the phone of “her foreign-national boyfriend and other foreign nationals”. She later told investigators she often used the NSA’s surveillance tools to investigate the phone numbers of people she met socially, to ensure they were “not shady characters”.

    The case of the male NSA employee who spied on nine women occurred between 1998 and 2003. The letter states that the member of staff twice collected communications of an American, and “tasked nine telephone numbers of female foreign nationals, without a valid foreign intelligence purpose, and listened to collected phone conversations”.
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NSA Spying Is Making Us Less Safe

Postby Allegro » Tue Oct 01, 2013 9:56 pm

Highlights mine.

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Bruce Schneier: NSA Spying Is Making Us Less Safe
MIT Technology Review, David Talbot | September 23, 2013

The security researcher Bruce Schneier, who is now helping the Guardian newspaper review Snowden documents, suggests that more revelations are on the way.

    Bruce Schneier, a cryptographer and author on security topics, last month took on a side gig: helping the Guardian newspaper pore through documents purloined from the U.S. National Security Agency by contractor Edward Snowden, lately of Moscow.

    In recent months that newspaper and other media have issued a steady stream of revelations, including the vast scale at which the NSA accesses major cloud platforms, taps calls and text messages of wireless carriers, and tries to subvert encryption.

    This year Schneier is also a fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society. In a conversation there with David Talbot, chief correspondent of MIT Technology Review, Schneier provided perspective on the revelations to date—and hinted that more were coming.

    Q: Taken together, what do all of the Snowden documents leaked thus far reveal that we didn’t know already?

    A: Those of us in the security community who watch the NSA had made assumptions along the lines of what Snowden revealed. But there was scant evidence and no proof. What these leaks reveal is how robust NSA surveillance is, how pervasive it is, and to what degree the NSA has commandeered the entire Internet and turned it into a surveillance platform.

    We are seeing the NSA collecting data from all of the cloud providers we use: Google and Facebook and Apple and Yahoo, etc. We see the NSA in partnerships with all the major telcos in the U.S., and many others around the world, to collect data on the backbone. We see the NSA deliberately subverting cryptography, through secret agreements with vendors, to make security systems less effective. The scope and scale are enormous.

    The only analogy I can give is that it’s like death. We all know how the story ends. But seeing the actual details, and seeing the actual programs, is very different than knowing it theoretically.

    Q: The NSA mission is national security. How is the snooping really affecting the average person?

    A: The NSA’s actions are making us all less safe. They’re not just spying on the bad guys, they’re deliberately weakening Internet security for everyone—including the good guys. It’s sheer folly to believe that only the NSA can exploit the vulnerabilities they create. Additionally, by eavesdropping on all Americans, they’re building the technical infrastructure for a police state.

    We’re not there yet, but already we’ve learned that both the DEA and the IRS use NSA surveillance data in prosecutions and then lie about it in court. Power without accountability or oversight is dangerous to society at a very fundamental level.

    Q: Are you now looking at NSA documents that nobody has yet seen? Do they shed any light on whether ordinary people, and not just figures like al-Qaeda terrorists and North Korean generals, have been targeted?

    A: I am reviewing some of the documents Snowden has provided to the Guardian. Because of the delicate nature of this, I cannot comment on what I have seen. What I can do is write news stories based on what I have learned, and I am doing that with Glenn Greenwald and the Guardian. My first story will be published soon.

    Q: Will the new stories contain new revelations at the scale we’ve seen to date?

    A: They might.

    Q: There have been many allusions to NSA efforts to put back doors in consumer products and software. What’s the reality?

    A: The reality is that we don’t know how pervasive this is; we just know that it happens. I have heard several stories from people and am working to get them published. The way it seems to go, it’s never an explicit request from the NSA. It’s more of a joking thing: “So, are you going to give us a back door?” If you act amenable, then the conversation progresses. If you don’t, it’s completely deniable. It’s like going out on a date. Sex might never be explicitly mentioned, but you know it’s on the table.

    Q: But what sorts of access, to what products, has been requested and given? What crypto is, and isn’t, back-doored or otherwise subverted? What has, and hasn’t, been fixed?

    A: Near as I can tell, the answer on what has been requested is everything: deliberate weakenings of encryption algorithms, deliberate weakenings of random number generations, copies of master keys, encryption of the session key with an NSA-specific key …everything.

    NSA surveillance is robust. I have no inside knowledge of which products are subverted and which are not. That’s probably the most frustrating thing. We have no choice but to mistrust everything. And we have no way of knowing if we’ve fixed anything.

    Q: Great. So you’ve recently suggested five tips for how people can make it much harder, if not impossible, to get snooped on. These include using various encryption technologies and location-obscuring methods. Is that the solution?

    A: My five tips suck. They are not things the average person can use. One of them is to use PGP [a data-encryption program]. But my mother can’t use PGP. Maybe some people who read your publication will use my tips, but most people won’t.

    Basically, the average user is screwed. You can’t say “Don’t use Google”—that’s a useless piece of advice. Or “Don’t use Facebook,” because then you don’t talk to your friends, you don’t get invited to parties, you don’t get laid. It’s like libertarians saying “Don’t use credit cards”; it just doesn’t work in the real world.

    The Internet has become essential to our lives, and it has been subverted into a gigantic surveillance platform. The solutions have to be political. The best advice for the average person is to agitate for political change.
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Re: NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center

Postby Allegro » Fri Oct 11, 2013 1:47 am

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Security clearance lapses | goals, percentages, quotas

Postby Allegro » Fri Oct 11, 2013 3:10 am

Propositional Reference
The Quasi Government: Hybrid Organizations with Both Government and Private Sector Legal Characteristics
Kevin R. Kosar | Analyst in American National Government
June 22, 2011

_________________
Highlights mine. Links in original.

_________________
Security clearance lapses stemmed from Washington’s heedless emphasis on speed over quality

Center for Public Integrity, Rebecca LaFlure | Updated: 3:33 pm, October 3, 2013

    Efforts by the government to fix a notable problem sometimes create a new mess that turns out to be as insidious and troublesome as the first, or even worse.

    This is what happened when Washington attempted to improve the way its security agencies vetted hundreds of thousands of workers needed suddenly after the 9/11 attacks to pursue counterterror tasks and oversee heightened secrecy requirements.

    Soon after its hiring binge began, the government’s ambitions collided with a creaky system for conducting the background checks needed to approve job applicants for security clearances. By 2004, the backlog of contractors awaiting approval had reached the size of a small city: at least 188,000. Complaints by federal agencies and job-seekers alike grew so intense that policymakers and legislators in Washington became fixated on finding a solution.

    Some additional personnel were added to the investigations process, but Washington largely chose a different path that promised to be cheaper and quicker — shortening the time allowed for the reviews, by law. In its wisdom, Congress passed the 2004 Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act, which required that by 2009, agencies must process 90 percent of clearance applications within an average of 60 days, less than a sixth of the average 375-day wait in 2003.

    The government also chose to farm the bulk of its vetting work out to contractors, which generally are more nimble than federal agencies in growing or shrinking, and are practiced at luring federal funds by promising to cut costs. It relied in particular on US Investigations Services (USIS), a firm that in 1996 was calved off of an independent agency known as the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and quickly got most of the background investigation business before being snapped up by a private equity investment firm in 2003.

    Nearly a decade later, the entire clearance system has been convulsed by two particularly notorious security checks by USIS — those that led to the clearance renewal of National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, the leaker of tens of thousands of highly sensitive classified documents, and the clearance of Navy Yard contractor Aaron Alexis, whose shooting spree there on Sept. 16 killed 12 other people.

    It’s clear, however, that the problems are much more widespread and that their repair will involve somehow fixing an investigative culture — created by Congress and contractors as well as the executive branch — that heedlessly prized speed over quality.

    USIS, which is based in Falls Church, Va. but owned by the Rhode Island-based investment company Providence Equity Partners, is the target of a criminal investigation on charges unrelated to those clearances, according to a statement by Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., at a June 20 congressional hearing.

    It stands accused, she said, of “systemic failure to adequately conduct investigations under its contract.” Michelle Schmitz, OPM’s Assistant Inspector General for Investigations, said at the June hearing that it began to investigate USIS in late 2011 on a “complicated contract fraud case.” A federal grand jury launched a criminal probe and issued subpoenas to former USIS executives this summer, the Wall Street Journal first reported.

    A spokesman for the firm, Ray Howell, declined comment on the allegations. But several former USIS employees said in interviews that OPM’s contract with the firm — which OPM so far has refused to make public — was structured to place a premium on speed. They said the firm’s income depended on how many cases it processed, and that it incurred financial penalties for failing to meet deadlines.

    But responsibility for any clearance investigation mistakes would hardly be USIS’s alone.

    Sen. Rob Portman, Ohio, a former White House aide who is now the senior Republican on a subcommittee devoted to increasing the efficiency of federal programs, said at a June 20 congressional hearing that while problems persist in the clearance process, “most troubling, I think, is the pressure to meet timeliness metrics impacting the quality of investigations.”

    Some of this history is likely to be aired at a planned hearing — postponed temporarily due to the government shutdown — by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee, at which top officials from OPM, the Office of Management and Budget, the office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the Defense Department are slated to testify. OPM has overseen all clearance investigations for defense personnel since 2005, giving it a huge workload.

    This summer, Sen. Jon Tester, D-MT, a committee member, introduced the Security Clearance Oversight and Reform Enhancement Act, which, among various reforms, would require OPM to fire or debar any employee or contractor who falsifies or fails to review background investigation reports. Since 2007, twenty employees have been convicted of such crimes and one more pled guilty, according to OPM, but the agency’s Inspector General Patrick McFarland said at the June hearing that he does not “believe that we have caught it all by any stretch.”

    Reforming the process is now considered urgent, not only because of the Snowden and Alexis debacles, but also because the government is struggling to monitor the 4.9 million people who hold clearances, an increase of roughly 1.7 million people since 1993. Even as the U.S. winds down its wars overseas, the number of people with access to classified information has yet to decrease. The government is still in the process of drafting uniform standards to determine whether positions require a clearance, opening the possibility that many individuals hold clearances who don’t need them.

    “Everyone with clearances has to undergo a periodic reinvestigation. The more in the system means the workload multiplies, becomes more expensive, and creates the possibility of flawed investigations,” said Steve Aftergood, who studies privacy and security classification issues for the Federation of American Scientists, a nonprofit research and advocacy group in Washington.

    Clearing the backlog

    Although the problems are seen as acute now, they have deep roots. Even before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the Department of Defense was experiencing backlogs in clearance investigations, largely caused by inadequate resources and changing government standards. But after 9/11, “the intelligence budget doubled in size,” Aftergood said. “To spend the money, the government needed more cleared people, including more cleared contractors.”

    Brenda Farrell, director of defense capabilities and management at the Government Accountability Office, which has published many reports on clearance problems over the past decade, said “the contractor workforce was waiting, in some cases, more than a year for a clearance. You had a situation where you had people waiting to work, but they couldn’t work. And the backlog kept growing.”

    Bill Henderson, president of the Federal Clearance Assistance Service who until 2007 worked as a field agent and supervisor in DOD and OPM investigations, noted that contractors began to adapt in troublesome ways — they overstated how many employees they needed in an attempt to stock up on cleared employees, knowing it could take more than year to get clearances.

    Tom Davis, former Virginia congressman who chaired the House committee that helped write the new clearance deadlines for federal security agencies, recalled that because of the backlog, defense contractors were paying a premium for cleared workers, which boosted government contract costs. “You had to do something,” Davis said, whose district was the home for many contracting firms. Government agencies “didn’t have their act together. I think everybody was frustrated,” he added.

    The bill his committee approved imposed the deadlines in stages. By 2007, agencies had to make a decision on 80 percent of applicants within 120 days, but two years later, it had to grant 90 percent of clearance cases within an average of 60 days — 40 days for the background investigation and 20 days for agencies to make their decision. The act did not put deadlines in place for periodic rechecks of clearances, like the one USIS conducted on Snowden in 2011, but agencies pushed their reviewers to speed up those cases as well.

    The workforce assigned to the clearance task expanded somewhat, growing from 7,819 in March 2005 to 9,421 in January 2008, according to a 2008 report by the Security Clearance Oversight Group, which includes officials from OPM and OMB. Most of these investigators worked for USIS and a few other private firms, rather than OPM.

    It looked to many in Washington like a great success — a problem solved! By 2012, the backlog had disappeared and the average initial investigation was completed within 36 days. “We have no backlogs, are meeting timeliness mandates, and have increased automation,” Merton Miller, associate director of OPM’s investigations unit, said at the June congressional hearing.

    But the obsession with cranking out cases had some negative consequences. According to a May 2009 GAO report, an estimated 87 percent of the 3,500 background reports DOD officials used to make security clearance decisions were incomplete. Miller said this was largely due to the difficulty of interviewing military service members deployed in war zones. The law’s 40-day investigative deadline “must be met” nonetheless, he said, so all probes “must be accomplished within that period of time, and then the case is closed.”

    OPM gauged whether investigators were performing adequately partly based on the speed of their work, and partly by how often the agencies sent reports back for additional work to fill in missing information. Miller said at the Congressional hearing that, on average, agencies sent less than 1 percent of all the cases that OPM oversaw back to investigators.

    But perhaps one reason the figure was so low, Farrell said, is that many agencies were afraid of missing the deadline Congress had set. “You send it back, there goes another week, two weeks and everybody was focused on this 60 day goal,” Farrell said. “Often the adjudicators, we were told, would just go ahead and complete the investigation themselves. Or [they would] think it wasn’t important enough … and skip over it.”

    GAO recommended in 2009 that the OPM investigations unit measure how often the background checks met federal standards, so they could figure out how to fix the problem of incomplete investigations. But OPM, as of August, had not implemented that recommendation. “They do not have a systematic way to help ensure the investigations are complete,” Farrell said. “That’s what’s missing.”

    Privatizing investigations

    Congress and government agencies were not alone in pressing for faster clearance checks.

    The managers at USIS, which was formed by privatizing a unit within OPM in the mid-1990’s and instantly became one of the country’s largest security firms, became increasingly devoted to profits as the firm was shuttled from one private owner to another over the years, according to its former employees.

    That concern was first articulated in 1995 at a congressional hearing on the agency’s transformation by Rep. Jim Moran, R., whose Northern Virginia district included many rattled OPM employees. “I just hope we don’t find ourselves in a situation where we become dependent upon firms that don’t have the commitment that federal employees have to getting the job done, really whose principal objective is making profit,” he said then.

    The shift to private sector control eventually proved to be a financial boon for many who had been at OPM, however, particularly those with the highest salaries. Employees accrued shares in the new company based on how much they were paid each year, and some reaped substantial benefits when a private equity giant, the Carlyle Groupknown for its investments in the defense industry — bought a quarter of the company in 1999.

    They reaped additional sums when private equity firm Welsh Carson Anderson and Stowe, which focuses on investments in the healthcare and business and information services industries, agreed to pay $545 million for a majority stake in the company in 2003. News reports at the time stated that $500 million was distributed among 4,000 current and former employees and the other $45 million went to buy outside shareholders. Carlyle and senior USIS managers reinvested another $172 million in the company, according to the firms.

    “There were some who got in the millions of dollars, and some who got in the thousands or hundreds of thousands,” said Mike Clancey, an OPM investigations manager who moved over to USIS as head of quality control in 1996 and later the security policy division until 2007. “I doubt there were any two checks the same.”

    In the years following the company’s formation, OPM and USIS officials — and several media outlets —­­ trumpeted the privatization as a great success. Philip Harper, USIS’s first CEO, said in April 1997 that USIS was doing 40 percent more work with 10 percent fewer employees. In its application for a Harvard University Innovations in American Government Award, OPM officials boasted that by 1999, the effort already saved taxpayers $65 million. Harvard named OPM a 2000 finalist for the effort.

    Authoritative, long-term evidence of cost savings is more elusive, however. OPM, its inspector general, and the GAO have never conducted follow-up studies assessing long-term financial benefits from the privatization, their officials say.

    Moreover, the company’s takeover by private investors in 2003 had significant consequences for its work, according to former USIS employees. They said its culture became more corporate and numbers-based, a development that some said had brought a needed discipline while others decried as undermining their values.

    Phil Gasiewicz, who headed USIS operations from 1996 to 2004, said for example, that after the buyout in 2003, he sensed that the company’s new private equity owners wanted to flip it to a new buyer. The firm had little experience in the industry, he said in an interview with CPI. As the company scrambled to hire and train new, often less-experienced, investigators to help with the rapid increase in clearance cases, some of its original employees began to exit, buyout checks in hand, to retire or go back to working for the federal government, he and other former employees said.

    “You could imagine that these (new owners) were very much nervous nellies about owning us,” Gasiewicz said. “When I would go to board meetings and give presentations on how long it would take to train an investigator or a reviewer, oh they didn’t want to hear that. What they wanted to hear was: Can we produce more cases?” He said the pressures came from the government as well as the company.

    Another former senior USIS manager, who retired in 2008 and asked not to be named, recalled the motto in USIS’s original employee handbook: “Do the right thing the right way.” After the private equity firm’s takeover, he saw an emphasis on streamlining the investigations process and “losing concern of what’s the quality of the investigation … As time went on, the pressures got greater to produce, that underlying philosophy got thrown to the side,” he said.

    Clancey said financial pressures were a reality from the beginning. But at the time of the 2003 buyout, he saw the push to cut costs and drive revenue increase. The company’s new executive team “focused more on productivity, cutting down time, how do we get through review faster. Some might say cutting corners. You could argue that,” he said. Clancey, who said he never saw the company violate contract requirements while he was there, left the company in the spring of 2007 after the company stopped funding his position.

    The company’s listed public contacts, including its head of investor relations Fran Higgins and its general partner and chief financial officer Jonathan M. Rather, did not respond to telephoned and emailed requests for comment.

    Later in 2007, USIS was sold to another private equity firm, Providence Equity Partners, and by the accounts of other former employees, the company’s pressure for profits intensified. One, who worked on quality control issues but asked not to be named, said that roughly a year after the sale, senior managers started pressuring certain employees to skip reviews required under their contract with OPM, which were meant to ensure that the investigations were complete.

    “They were knowingly not doing their job,” the former employee said. “They skipped the review and hoped OPM didn’t look at them.” The former employee said USIS feared losing money if it missed its government-set deadline. Employees would be particularly pressed to close cases before the end of every quarter, so the company could get paid and report higher revenues, the employee said. The managers called it “flushing” the background check reports, he said.

    Two spokesman for Providence Equity Partners did not respond to emailed and telephoned requests for comment on these specific allegations. Other media have quoted unnamed former employees describing the same “flushing” practice, and the New York Times on Sept. 27 reported that the company had dismissed some top executives after a federal investigation into the practice began.

    Gasiewicz pointed out, however, that USIS wouldn’t be solely responsible for any shortcuts. OPM is supposed to review investigation reports before sending them on to government agencies, which review them a second time before deciding whether to grant a clearance. OPM collects fees from other federal agencies for its security investigations oversight work, he pointed out.

    “How can they possibly allege [now] that for 3-4 years USIS was turning in improper background investigations and they didn’t catch it?” Gasiewicz said. OPM declined comment on its review process.

    Pressured investigators

    This push for speed and volumes at all costs made an inherently difficult job almost unbearable, according to some investigators.

    Tom Wilson, a retired fire chief and police officer in California who worked as a USIS investigator from 2010 to 2012, said the pressure to make money outweighed the company’s efforts to conduct complete, accurate investigations.

    In a phone interview with CPI, Wilson said USIS supervisors wanted investigators to churn out background checks quickly. Wilson said for example that he typically worked on 15 to 20 investigations at once, of varying complexity. He was expected to complete each one in five to 10 days, and reprimanded if he tried to go beyond minimum government standards for background checks, Wilson said.

    “That’s when the pressure came in. They kept giving them to me and giving them to me,” he said. “When you throw a profit motive in there, it deteriorates into a mill. Get them out, get them out,” he said.

    It got to the point where he felt he only had two options: Work overtime without compensation or cut corners. Wilson chose to work long hours, clocking in an average of 60 hours a week, but quickly felt burned out and began complaining to his superiors. He was fired by email on May 30, 2012, without being given a reason, he said.

    Wilson is the lead plaintiff in a proposed class action lawsuit filed in 2012 alleging, among other things, that the company didn’t pay him overtime hours and retaliated against him for his concerns about work conditions. In a court pleading, the company denied any wrongdoing and said Wilson was not entitled to any relief.

    Another former USIS employee, who worked as a team leader from 2001 to 2011, described the work environment as “hectic” and said upper management had “expectations very few people could meet.” He said USIS would take on government workloads that were “nearly impossible” to do.

    “Expectations were high but you didn’t fear losing your job if you didn’t meet all the deadlines … I tended to protect my people from upper management, but that became more difficult,” he said. “They just wanted us to stay on their butts and fire them if they couldn’t (meet deadlines).”

    Another USIS veteran, who was at the company for more than seven years and is also a participant in the proposed class action lawsuit, said the workplace became particularly tumultuous after Providence Equity Partners took over the company.

    The investigator, who said she was fired last month for allegedly not meeting deadlines, said she was reprimanded for going beyond the minimum requirements for background checks. “I now have high blood pressure; I have to take medication,” the investigator said. “I wouldn’t recommend it to my worst enemy.”

    Even when she had difficulty tracking down military service members for interviews, she said, the company refused to change the cases’ due dates. She recalled one month when she received more than 100 case assignments, which she described as 6 months-worth of work. “All they look at are those numbers,” the employee said, on condition she not be named. “That’s all they care about.”

    USIS, which vetted Snowden and Alexis, said in a statement released at the June congressional hearing that OPM had informed the company its investigation met all standards, and that the government did not request for additional information or interviews.

    On September 23, however, Navy officials revealed that USIS’s 2007 clearance check on Alexis, a contractor with an arrest record and history of mental illness, downplayed his prior arrest for alleged malicious mischief. According to a Seattle Police Department arrest report, Alexis aimed his .45 caliber pistol at a construction worker’s car and shot out the rear tires in a “black-out” rage. But USIS’s background check summary stated only that he “deflated the tires on a construction worker’s vehicle.”

    Miller, at OPM, said in a written statement to CPI on Sept. 19 that the check met all investigative standards.
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Re: NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center

Postby elfismiles » Wed Oct 16, 2013 4:57 pm

NSA Hid Explosions, Delays at $1.2 Billion Spy Compound
Nextgov-Oct 8, 2013
NSA's Utah Data Center, shown in June, occupies 200 acres in Utah. ... explosions and a year-long delay that NSA officials did not disclose.
http://www.nextgov.com/defense/2013/10/ ... und/71567/

$2 Billion NSA Spy Center is Going Up in Flames
The Fiscal Times-by Brianna Ehley-Oct 8, 2013
Technical glitches have sparked fiery explosions within the NSA's newest and largest data storage facility in Utah, destroying hundreds of ...
http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Articles/ ... ing-Flames

Op-Ed: New NSA $1.2 billion data center in Utah has 10 'meltdowns'
DigitalJournal.com-Oct 14, 2013
Salt Lake City - The National Security Agency's mega spy data center is ... problems with the $1.2 billion dollar NSA Utah data center take place in the secret, high ... Several reports describe the surges as causing explosions.
http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/360231


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aFLT-XChf1A

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Re: NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Oct 16, 2013 5:03 pm

:shock2: :shock2:
"This is formal impeachment proceedings," Nader told CNN's Erin Burnett Thursday on "OutFront."
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