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Thu Jun 13, 2013, 09:40 AM

NSA Chief General Kieth Alexander and "The Secret War"

This is just a hot link to a thread posted by unhappycamper in DU's Veterans forum where an important essay appears to have gotten very little attention. I think this Wired article is quite significant, and I invite you all to consider it and its implications carefully.

Here: http://www.democraticunderground.com/11794015

The original Wired article can be found here: http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2013/06/general-keith-alexander-cyberwar/

-Laelth

72 replies, 12247 views

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Reply NSA Chief General Kieth Alexander and "The Secret War" (Original post)
Laelth Jun 2013 OP
xchrom Jun 2013 #1
Laelth Jun 2013 #6
xchrom Jun 2013 #9
Laelth Jun 2013 #12
cali Jun 2013 #2
Laelth Jun 2013 #19
Laelth Jun 2013 #3
Laelth Jun 2013 #4
octoberlib Jun 2013 #5
Laelth Jun 2013 #28
Fantastic Anarchist Jun 2013 #7
Laelth Jun 2013 #32
Fantastic Anarchist Jun 2013 #8
Laelth Jun 2013 #10
Fantastic Anarchist Jun 2013 #15
Laelth Jun 2013 #18
Laelth Jun 2013 #20
Fantastic Anarchist Jun 2013 #30
Laelth Jun 2013 #31
Fantastic Anarchist Jun 2013 #35
Laelth Jun 2013 #36
leveymg Jun 2013 #41
Laelth Jun 2013 #42
Fantastic Anarchist Jun 2013 #43
Laelth Jun 2013 #44
Fantastic Anarchist Jun 2013 #46
Fantastic Anarchist Jun 2013 #49
Laelth Jun 2013 #53
Fantastic Anarchist Jun 2013 #56
Laelth Jun 2013 #57
Fantastic Anarchist Jun 2013 #62
octoberlib Jun 2013 #11
Laelth Jun 2013 #55
Fantastic Anarchist Jun 2013 #13
Laelth Jun 2013 #16
Fantastic Anarchist Jun 2013 #17
Autumn Jun 2013 #14
Laelth Jun 2013 #58
MynameisBlarney Jun 2013 #21
Laelth Jun 2013 #22
MynameisBlarney Jun 2013 #23
Laelth Jun 2013 #27
MynameisBlarney Jun 2013 #29
Laelth Jun 2013 #61
MynameisBlarney Jun 2013 #70
MynameisBlarney Jun 2013 #24
Laelth Jun 2013 #25
Fantastic Anarchist Jun 2013 #33
RainDog Jun 2013 #26
Laelth Jun 2013 #64
Sheri Jun 2013 #34
Laelth Jun 2013 #37
leveymg Jun 2013 #38
Laelth Jun 2013 #39
leveymg Jun 2013 #40
Fantastic Anarchist Jun 2013 #45
Laelth Jun 2013 #48
nadinbrzezinski Jun 2013 #47
Laelth Jun 2013 #67
nadinbrzezinski Jun 2013 #68
Laelth Jun 2013 #72
Fantastic Anarchist Jun 2013 #50
sibelian Jun 2013 #51
Laelth Jun 2013 #52
Octafish Jun 2013 #54
Laelth Jun 2013 #63
Octafish Jun 2013 #66
grasswire Jun 2013 #59
Laelth Jun 2013 #65
grasswire Jun 2013 #60
octoberlib Jun 2013 #69
woo me with science Jun 2013 #71

Response to Laelth (Original post)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 09:45 AM

1. Du rec. Nt

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Response to xchrom (Reply #1)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 10:37 AM

6. Thanks. I think this needs more attention. n/t

-Laelth

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Response to Laelth (Reply #6)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 10:41 AM

9. i'm with you.

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Response to xchrom (Reply #9)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 10:55 AM

12. And I am glad you are.

Cheers!

-Laelth

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Response to Laelth (Original post)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 09:46 AM

2. that is a very good article. thanks for posting the link

 

Wired publishes some awfully good stuff.

k&r

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Response to cali (Reply #2)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 11:31 AM

19. Yep.

Wired is excellent if you want the insider, techie stuff like this.

Thanks for the k&r.

-Laelth

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Response to Laelth (Original post)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 09:50 AM

3. This isn't about terrorism any more. It's about cyber-warfare.

Important quote from the article:

Sure enough, (following a US cyber-attack on Iran) in August 2012 a devastating virus was unleashed on Saudi Aramco, the giant Saudi state-owned energy company. The malware infected 30,000 computers, erasing three-quarters of the company’s stored data, destroying everything from documents to email to spreadsheets and leaving in their place an image of a burning American flag, according to The New York Times. Just days later, another large cyberattack hit RasGas, the giant Qatari natural gas company. Then a series of denial-of-service attacks took America’s largest financial institutions offline. Experts blamed all of this activity on Iran, which had created its own cyber command in the wake of the US-led attacks. James Clapper, US director of national intelligence, for the first time declared cyberthreats the greatest danger facing the nation, bumping terrorism down to second place. In May, the Department of Homeland Security’s Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team issued a vague warning that US energy and infrastructure companies should be on the alert for cyberattacks. It was widely reported that this warning came in response to Iranian cyberprobes of industrial control systems. An Iranian diplomat denied any involvement.


Emphasis mine.

-Laelth

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Response to Laelth (Original post)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 09:54 AM

4. Also worth considering.

Helping Alexander organize and dominate this new arena would be his fellow plebes from West Point’s class of 1974: David Petraeus, the CIA director; and Martin Dempsey, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.


Here's some pure speculation on my part:

Either Petraeus fell out of favor and Alexander neutralized him, or, one of Alexander's enemies took down Petraeus in order to weaken Alexander.

Plus this (also speculative):

Alexander announced his intention to retire in 2014. Perhaps that gave someone the ability to launch a national discussion on this issue without fear of reprisal from Alexander. Or, perhaps, Alexander launched this national discussion in the hopes of reigning in his successor (whomever that may be) because Alexander rightly fears tyranny if the power he has at his disposal were to fall into less benign hands.

And this comment following the article:

Hoover got his power from the information he held on powerful people. Prism could have done the same for Alexander. If you tap into every data transmission in the US and store it, you will have dirt on everyone. Alexander could turn Obama into a puppet. And perhaps he did.


Nifty (if also horrifying) stuff.

-Laelth


Edit:Laelth--better presentation, visually.

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Response to Laelth (Original post)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 09:59 AM

5. K&R

Great article!

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Response to octoberlib (Reply #5)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 12:22 PM

28. Thanks for the k&r. n/t

-Laelth

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Response to Laelth (Original post)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 10:38 AM

7. This is absolutely, without a doubt, Orwellian, Outrageous, and Alarming!

Alexander runs the nation’s cyberwar efforts, an empire he has built over the past eight years by insisting that the US’s inherent vulnerability to digital attacks requires him to amass more and more authority over the data zipping around the globe. In his telling, the threat is so mind-bogglingly huge that the nation has little option but to eventually put the entire civilian Internet under his protection, requiring tweets and emails to pass through his filters, and putting the kill switch under the government’s forefinger. “What we see is an increasing level of activity on the networks,” he said at a recent security conference in Canada. “I am concerned that this is going to break a threshold where the private sector can no longer handle it and the government is going to have to step in.”
(emphasis added)

Devastatingly scary.

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Response to Fantastic Anarchist (Reply #7)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 01:06 PM

32. Definitely worth considering very carefully. n/t

-Laelth

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Response to Laelth (Original post)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 10:38 AM

8. Oh, and forgot to thank you for posting. K&R!

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Response to Fantastic Anarchist (Reply #8)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 10:41 AM

10. You are quite welcome.

And anything you (or others) can do to keep this kicked would be most appreciated. I think this info. needs much wider dissemination.

-Laelth

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Response to Laelth (Reply #10)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 11:06 AM

15. Absolutely agreed.

I'm still not finished, but what I've read is really disturbing. See my other response below.

This is not some video game antics we're talking about here. These operations, and the retaliations, have the very real capability to kill. This isn't your daddy's war anymore.

And the whole world is in the cyber cross-hairs. Thinking about, and I'm not trying to be hyperbolic, but this cyber warfare could be more dangerous than nuclear arms. I say this because we, as humans, can see the tangible threat by launching a nuke. Not so with the abstract cyber warfare. We are not as privy to the nature of the danger we are unleashing. It's not as tangible. There are no "mushroom clouds" but the danger, I think, is worse. Could literally cripple the world, and end us as a species.

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Response to Fantastic Anarchist (Reply #15)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 11:28 AM

18. I haven't had enough time to think about this in great detail.

I need to read some more and then sleep on it, but I do not deny that all the horrors you imagine could be possible.

-Laelth

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Response to Fantastic Anarchist (Reply #15)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 11:36 AM

20. Let me add that I now understand the source of our sabre-rattling toward Iran.

It's clear we have attacked them. It is also clear they have attacked our allies. We are (whether the American people know it or not) at war with Iran.

Honestly, until I read that article, I did not know this.

Still absorbing the impact of this article.

-Laelth

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Response to Laelth (Reply #20)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 12:52 PM

30. Excellent point.

And it is escalating, as the article points out, Iran is developing their version of cyber defense (offense). No doubt, every other nation is doing the same.

I have a bad feeling about this.

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Response to Fantastic Anarchist (Reply #30)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 12:57 PM

31. Syria is Iran's proxy.

That's why President Clinton joined McCain in calling for American intervention there.

When I saw the report saying that Clinton suggested Obama would look like a "wuss" if he didn't get involved, and soon, I was shocked. That's bad Presidential etiquette. A former President is not supposed to do that, but, when seen in the context of war with Iran, it makes a lot more sense. Etiquette goes out the window when we're talking about national security.

-Laelth

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Response to Laelth (Reply #31)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 01:12 PM

35. Ginnin' us up for yet another one, eh?

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Response to Fantastic Anarchist (Reply #35)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 01:15 PM

36. There's a lot of money to be made.

Besides which, I am sorry to say, Iran has proven that it is a real threat--at the very least, to our allies.

-Laelth

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Response to Laelth (Reply #36)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 01:55 PM

41. What threat, what proof, and what allies?

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Response to Laelth (Reply #36)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 02:06 PM

43. I would classify them as responding in kind.

We did attack them first.

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Response to Fantastic Anarchist (Reply #43)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 02:12 PM

44. I agree.

But we're in big trouble if the Saudi Arabian oil supply is disrupted, and Iran showed us that they could shut off the spigot for a time, at least. We're rightfully concerned, and Saudi Arabia's confidence in us (to protect them) has been weakened.

Again ... delicate times.

-Laelth

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Response to Laelth (Reply #44)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 02:15 PM

46. Yes, and very unpredictable times, as well.

This article is a real eye-opener.

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Response to Laelth (Reply #44)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 03:22 PM

49. An Interesting Excerpt:

The buying and using of such a subscription by nation-states could be seen as an act of war. “If you are engaged in reconnaissance on an adversary’s systems, you are laying the electronic battlefield and preparing to use it,” wrote Mike Jacobs, a former NSA director for information assurance, in a McAfee report on cyberwarfare. “In my opinion, these activities constitute acts of war, or at least a prelude to future acts of war.” The question is, who else is on the secretive company’s client list? Because there is as of yet no oversight or regulation of the cyberweapons trade, companies in the cyber-industrial complex are free to sell to whomever they wish. “It should be illegal,” says the former senior intelligence official involved in cyber­warfare. “I knew about Endgame when I was in intelligence. The intelligence community didn’t like it, but they’re the largest consumer of that business.”


Scary times, indeed.

Then there's Pakistan and India, an already volatile situation, who would like nothing but to work this cyber warfare in their respective favor.

I hate to sound dramatic, but I'm thinking we may be looking into the abyss with this stuff.

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Response to Fantastic Anarchist (Reply #35)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 05:11 PM

53. Update.

It appears we are going to get involved in the Syrian conflict.

http://www.democraticunderground.com/10023010923

Sigh.

-Laelth

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Response to Laelth (Reply #53)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 06:02 PM

56. Just got home and watched the report on MSNBC.

I actually thought about this thread when it came on!

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Response to Fantastic Anarchist (Reply #56)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 06:05 PM

57. I haven't been able to think about anything else all day.



I think I need a vacation.

-Laelth

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Response to Laelth (Reply #57)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 06:49 PM

62. Want to help me write a script?

I've got the casting down of the major characters at the other thread!

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Response to Laelth (Original post)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 10:48 AM

11. Kick!

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Response to octoberlib (Reply #11)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 05:50 PM

55. Thanks. n/t

-Laelth

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Response to Laelth (Original post)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 11:02 AM

13. I'm continuing to read.

This article is fascinating, though really scary.

The cat-and-mouse game could escalate. “It’s a trajectory,” says James Lewis, a cyber­security expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “The general consensus is that a cyber response alone is pretty worthless. And nobody wants a real war.” Under international law, Iran may have the right to self-defense when hit with destructive cyberattacks. William Lynn, deputy secretary of defense, laid claim to the prerogative of self-defense when he outlined the Pentagon’s cyber operations strategy. “The United States reserves the right,” he said, “under the laws of armed conflict, to respond to serious cyberattacks with a proportional and justified military response at the time and place of our choosing.” Leon Panetta, the former CIA chief who had helped launch the Stuxnet offensive, would later point to Iran’s retaliation as a troubling harbinger. “The collective result of these kinds of attacks could be a cyber Pearl Harbor,” he warned in October 2012, toward the end of his tenure as defense secretary, “an attack that would cause physical destruction and the loss of life.” If Stuxnet was the proof of concept, it also proved that one successful cyberattack begets another. For Alexander, this offered the perfect justification for expanding his empire.


Ironic that we refer to a potential "cyber Pearl Harbor" on our systems, while we had already effectively done the same. Would we not expect a response? These people are playing with fire and our lives!

Another thought that occurred to me was the fact the US government's zeal with going after Manning, Drake and Snowden. If anyone had access to sensitive network blueprints not unlike what we had for Iran with our Stuxnet offensive, they could reveal that information to Iranian operatives, and really do unspeakable damage to our infrastructure and economy.

This cat is out of the bag. Cyber attack will beget cyber attack. Retaliation could very possibly leave the whole world figuratively blind (if not literally).

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Response to Fantastic Anarchist (Reply #13)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 11:12 AM

16. I suspect the real danger is this.

It's the zero-day exploits we need to protect.

Like safecrackers listening to the click of tumblers through a stethoscope, the “vulnerability researchers” use an extensive array of digital tools to search for hidden weaknesses in commonly used programs and systems, such as Windows and Internet Explorer. And since no one else has ever discovered these unseen cracks, the manufacturers have never developed patches for them.

Thus, in the parlance of the trade, these vulnerabilities are known as “zero-day exploits,” because it has been zero days since they have been uncovered and fixed. They are the Achilles’ heel of the security business, says a former senior intelligence official involved with cyberwarfare. Those seeking to break into networks and computers are willing to pay millions of dollars to obtain them.


We have spent billions finding weakness in all kinds of computer programs that can be exploited. Because we have not exploited those weaknesses yet, the developers who produced that software have not yet patched the programs. They remain vulnerable, and the NSA is just waiting (keeping that software vulnerable) so that we can attack our enemies when (and if) we need to. Snowden (or another leaker) might be able to give away all the holes we spent years discovering. That would severely curtail our cyberwarfare capabilities and would represent a waste of billions of dollars.

This, I assume, is why we punish whistleblowers and leakers so heinously these days.

-Laelth

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Response to Laelth (Reply #16)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 11:18 AM

17. That's exactly what I meant.

I'm thinking that secret operatives knowing our vulnerabilities are even more sacred than those that knew about our nuclear vulnerabilities.

Welcome to the Brave New World.

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Response to Laelth (Original post)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 11:04 AM

14. Thanks for posting this and the link to unhappycampers OP

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Response to Autumn (Reply #14)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 06:16 PM

58. My pleasure. n/t

-Laelth

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Response to Laelth (Original post)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 11:37 AM

21. Wow, that is some scary shit!

How the hell can this be curtailed?

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Response to MynameisBlarney (Reply #21)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 11:40 AM

22. I doubt that it can be curtailed at this point.

The essay shows that, whether the American people know it or not, we are at war with Iran. We have attacked them, and they have attacked our allies. I don't think there's any way that our legislators will risk weakening our capabilities while we are at war. No way. No how.

-Laelth

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Response to Laelth (Reply #22)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 11:49 AM

23. There HAS to be a way...

To be able to maintain the edge against our enemies while also eliminating the inexcusable invasion of privacy of every citizen in this country.

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Response to MynameisBlarney (Reply #23)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 12:12 PM

27. Yesterday, I would have agreed with you.

Now, I am not so sure.

-Laelth

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Response to Laelth (Reply #27)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 12:38 PM

29. I guess I'm being overly optimistic about my fellow citizens

but I can't help but believe that we'll win out over all this Orwellian bullshit.

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Response to MynameisBlarney (Reply #29)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 06:33 PM

61. I certainly hope you are right. n/t

-Laelth

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Response to Laelth (Reply #61)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 08:27 PM

70. Me too.

I mean...if we let this continue...then we suck. And we deserve what we get.

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Response to Laelth (Reply #22)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 11:51 AM

24. Also...

There's this.
http://cheezburger.com/7565073408

Seems that some folks are taking this in stride.

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Response to MynameisBlarney (Reply #24)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 11:58 AM

25. That's funny. n/t

-Laelth

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Response to MynameisBlarney (Reply #24)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 01:10 PM

33. The NSA does have its uses!

There's a lot of great porn that I can't remember where to track down.

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Response to Laelth (Original post)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 12:00 PM

26. k&r n/t

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Response to RainDog (Reply #26)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 07:27 PM

64. Thanks. I think this needs more attention. n/t

-Laelth

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Response to Laelth (Original post)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 01:11 PM

34. spooky. kick.

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Response to Sheri (Reply #34)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 01:26 PM

37. Nice pun. ;)




-Laelth

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Response to Laelth (Original post)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 01:32 PM

38. This was worth $80 billion?

Okay, NSA helped CIA and Israel delay Iran's ability to enrich uranium. I suppose that's their job, given the depressing state of US policy in the region. Okay, NSA also has the ability to track, hack and infect every digital device connected to the Internet in the world:

According to Defense News’ C4ISR Journal and Bloomberg Businessweek, Endgame also offers its intelligence clients—agencies like Cyber Command, the NSA, the CIA, and British intelligence—a unique map showing them exactly where their targets are located. Dubbed Bonesaw, the map displays the geolocation and digital address of basically every device connected to the Internet around the world, providing what’s called network situational awareness.

< ...>

Thus, in their willingness to pay top dollar for more and better zero-day exploits, the spy agencies are helping drive a lucrative, dangerous, and unregulated cyber arms race, one that has developed its own gray and black markets. The companies trading in this arena can sell their wares to the highest bidder—be they frontmen for criminal hacking groups or terrorist organizations or countries that bankroll terrorists, such as Iran. Ironically, having helped create the market in zero-day exploits and then having launched the world into the era of cyberwar, Alexander now says the possibility of zero-day exploits falling into the wrong hands is his “greatest worry.”



Okay, atop its nuclear weapons, the US has the ability to destroy the real and virtual worlds many times over. But, why do I get the feeling that there should be more to show for all that money to all those contractors?

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Response to leveymg (Reply #38)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 01:42 PM

39. Well, we've been hacking Chinese state secrets for years.

I suspect that's why the Chinese President blew off Obama's complaints about the Chinese hacking our systems. They know we've been hacking them for years. Now that their hackers are getting some skill, we cry and ask them to stop? That's laughable.

btw, if you're wondering why Congress is going to grant so many H1-B Visas for the tech industry, I have a theory. It's not because we don't have good coders here. It's because we want all the world's good coders. We are in the midst of a global, cyber-cold-war. By letting all the talented coders come to the U.S., we are denying them to China, Iran, and North Korea.

Ah, it feels like a good number of puzzle pieces are coming together.

-Laelth

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Response to Laelth (Reply #39)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 01:52 PM

40. Why do I get the feeling they have a more cost-effective program?

As for H-1Bs, a lot of the ones from China have interesting resumes that show a 6-8 year span where they worked for NGOs but no military service. Believe me, they don't get security clearances, and it's a lot damned harder to get a PRC H-1B than it used to be when they were being hired by the droves to work in network engineering positions for the same telcos that acquire most of PRISM's data off the network backbone switches - so brain drain from China is probably not as big problem as it once was. War is Peace.

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Response to Laelth (Reply #39)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 02:12 PM

45. Kind of like Operation PaperClip

Get all of the spooks before the Soviets could.

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Response to Fantastic Anarchist (Reply #45)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 03:15 PM

48. That's what I am thinking.



-Laelth

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Response to Laelth (Original post)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 02:41 PM

47. Tin foil hat moment

 

Explosion in LA...

Yup, I know, it's shiny.

But that plant *is* connected to the Internet.

Damn, we are in a new Cold War...thanks guys.

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Response to nadinbrzezinski (Reply #47)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 07:58 PM

67. At this strange moment in history, I think a tinfoil hat is appropriate.

It has been a weird few days.

-Laelth

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Response to Laelth (Reply #67)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 08:00 PM

68. Yup... it is one of those moments

 

when one wonders, why the hell bother?

Turn key tyranny, and people are going over how much I hate the President, or you for that matter.

I guess we just got to see behind the curtain of the Empire.

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Response to nadinbrzezinski (Reply #68)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 07:40 AM

72. I hear you.

What I can say in response to your temporary feeling of hopelessness (which I sometimes share) is that every Republic in the history of the planet has been an oligarchy. As a liberal, I am a supporter of both oligarchy and capitalism, but what I want is a sane, well-regulated capitalism that shares its benefits broadly across all segments of our society. Oligarchy is not necessarily evil. We have to convince our oligarchs to share the wealth (because, as we know, it's in their own best interests to do so).

Just in case you wanted to do some light reading:

The Roman Republic
The Republic of Venice (the longest-lasting republic in the planet's history)
The Republic of Ragusa (a very cool little republic that lasted for over 500 years and was an early ally of the fledgling United States)

These are all oligarchies. Take a look at this picture and tell me we're not looking at a good number of our nation's early oligarchs:



We may not like oligarchy, in principle, but we may be fooling ourselves if we believe that the U.S. hasn't always been one. And every oligarchy, it seems, wants an empire.



-Laelth

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Response to Laelth (Original post)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 03:25 PM

50. I like this comment from Proteus at the Wired link:

Imagine if you had an enemy 1 Million times bigger, 1 Million times
richer and 1 Million times more powerful. And you kept the war even for
12 years. And you altered and lowered your enemies way of life
significantly. And you kept them scared. And they dropped all their
priorities for you. And they abandoned their core values because of you.
You succeeded on a scale beyond nearly any victory ever achieved.


Beautifully said.

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Response to Laelth (Original post)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 04:09 PM

51. It sounds incredibly expensive...


And I have no idea what actual benefit it even purports to provide.

Moving 1s and 0s around in a very nearly arbitrarily defined "territory"...

You know what? I think they've kind of lost it.

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Response to sibelian (Reply #51)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 04:20 PM

52. It is incredibly expensive.

But the threat of cyber-attack is quite real. From the essay:

In August 2012 a devastating virus was unleashed on Saudi Aramco, the giant Saudi state-owned energy company. The malware infected 30,000 computers, erasing three-quarters of the company’s stored data, destroying everything from documents to email to spreadsheets and leaving in their place an image of a burning American flag, according to The New York Times. Just days later, another large cyberattack hit RasGas, the giant Qatari natural gas company. Then a series of denial-of-service attacks took America’s largest financial institutions offline. Experts blamed all of this activity on Iran, which had created its own cyber command in the wake of the US-led attacks.


Perhaps they have lost it, as you say, but the cyber-cold-war appears to be quite real and, worse, a growing threat. I find it unlikely that Congress will limit the powers of the machine of state surveillance under these circumstances.

-Laelth

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Response to Laelth (Original post)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 05:22 PM

54. James Bamford is a giant.

From his article:

Inside the government, the general is regarded with a mixture of respect and fear, not unlike J. Edgar Hoover, another security figure whose tenure spanned multiple presidencies. “We jokingly referred to him as Emperor Alexander—with good cause, because whatever Keith wants, Keith gets,” says one former senior CIA official who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity. “We would sit back literally in awe of what he was able to get from Congress, from the White House, and at the expense of everybody else.”

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Response to Octafish (Reply #54)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 07:12 PM

63. Yes, he is.

He did a Reddit AMA today on the subject. It can be found here: http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/1g9gz0/i_am_james_bamford_one_of_the_journalists/

-Laelth

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Response to Laelth (Reply #63)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 07:52 PM

66. Thank you, Laelth!

James Bamford, from Reddit AMA:

I think it's mysterious, this cooperation between the NSA and ISPs, and the only thing I can compare it to is the deal with AT&T - where all data flows into their computers filled with software that does deep-pocket inspection, looking for target information and target names and so forth. Whether the NSA created some sort of lock box or portal in cyber space where they can do this, I don't know. But what you have is the NSA saying they have direct access to their servers. And what the tech giants are saying is that they don't give them direct access to their services. What we have then is something in between - is it semantics or truth or both? But eventually it will come out through investigative reporting or congressional hearings or something. I think Snowden is very courageous. He's doing something other people wouldn't do. He's not making any money on it, and he's facing serious repercussions. Last year, in my WIRED cover story on the NSA data-center in Utah, I interviewed a number of former senior officials, including Bill Binney, and they told me very similar things about getting data records from everyone at Verizon and so forth. But the NSA was able to largely brush off those accusations, and the mainstream media just believed them because General Alexander said it. This might have been one of the reasons why Snowden felt this information could only be taken seriously if the public actually got to see the documents. This way, there is no way to brush it under the rug, say these people are lying or exaggerating. A number of whistleblowers have said very similar things. The media and the public only believe it's real, despite the denials, when confronted with actual documents.

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Response to Laelth (Original post)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 06:21 PM

59. the comments section is definitely worth reading nt

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Response to grasswire (Reply #59)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 07:45 PM

65. I agree. The comments are fascinating. n/t

-Laelth

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Response to Laelth (Original post)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 06:24 PM

60. maybe THIS is what Snowden was warning us about ultimately

Maybe it's the cyber warfare that he believes the American people should be able to consider Not just the domestic snooping, but the whole shebang.

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Response to Laelth (Original post)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 08:22 PM

69. And this from the Reddit thread

There's two sides: There's misconceptions that the NSA listens to everyone at all times, which is not really true. At best, what they have is filters on all the internet and telecom systems, but what happens is that the computers are filled with software and it doesn't pick out and store everything, only information that has the right key words, target words, names, telephone information they're interested in. But in order to pick that out they need to have filters on all the major communications pipes. On the other side, the government is saying that we have all these protections - checks and balances - which is not really true, since the two they point out are the courts and Congress. But the FISA court has been largely nuttered and largely made ineffective by the passage of the FISA amendments act, so it doesn't act much as protection. Before, if they wanted to eavesdrop on somebody, they needed to present a name of a person to the court. Now, they can ask the court for permission to gather anyone's telephone records without really specifying any danger, which makes the court ineffective. The second court they point to is Congress, but Congress has gone from being watchdogs for the public to cheering galleries for the intelligence agencies. They're more interested in increasing agency budgets than in protecting the public from intelligence agencies.



Thanks, Laelth. Interesting and informative post.

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Response to Laelth (Original post)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 10:18 PM

71. K&R

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