Do No What?

As one who’s been tracking the NSA for the decades since my brief career in the ASA in the sixties, these sure have been interesting times after Snowden’s disclosure last year that in addition to the NSA’s mandate to gather and analyze communications intelligence on opposition foreign governments, it has maintained surveillance on friendly governments as well as on every private citizen on the planet, most particularly on American citizens right here at home.

This was hardly news for those of us who’d had our eyes open during the past decade while various pieces of the puzzle were disclosed, one of the most egregious being the outing in 2006 by whistleblower Mark Klein of AT&T’s Room 641a in their Folsom Street building in downtown San Francisco where a splitter was installed giving the NSA access to all telephone and Internet communications that went through the building, a major chunk of all communications in the western United States.

And yet – even though this revelation was covered by the major news media, written up in detail in Wired magazine, and even the subject of a PBS documentary – it was stoutly denied by the government and basically ignored by the American public.  Snowden changed that, and his revelations continue to rebound since they can no longer be denied.

One aspect that would be amusing if it were not so dreadful is that immediately after Snowden’s bombshell, the CEO’s of all our major communications companies fell all over themselves declaring they were shocked, shocked at Snowden’s revelations and spouting their own stout denial that they’d had any idea at all that the NSA was scooping up all their data.  These denials were shortly shown to be lies by additional revelations detailing the eager and complete cooperation extended to the NSA by most of these companies, including the fact that Google had been paid for its cooperation.  This should have been no surprise to those who remembered AT&T’s voluntarily setting up Room 641a, and the latest piece in this mountain of deceit is a series of emails between Google brass and Keith Alexander revealed in this morning’s news.

Anyone who thinks the major communications providers are on his side is hopelessly naive.  In fact, only a handful of small providers have put up any resistance to the NSA at all, the most spectacular of which being Lavabit, whose founder, Ladar Levison, after a valiant struggle against having to reveal the cryptographic keys protecting his email service, shut down the whole company and pulled the plug immediately before the feds could get a court order forcing him to remain open after his keys had been compromised, leaving his clients under the false impression that they were still being protected since he would have been forbidden by the court order to tell anyone.  How unusual in modern American business, to protect your clients at the expense of your revenue stream.

Just remember that the NSA is perfectly capable of cracking any encryption, but that the better forms do take a good deal of time and effort to crack.  That’s why the NSA much prefers to have companies like Google and AT&T simply give (or sell) them the keys, just as RSA built in a “back door” for the NSA in the encryption systems it then happily sold as secure to millions of us.  But hey, like Google and Apple and Facebook and Yahoo and AT&T, they made lots of money by throwing us under the bus.

The bottom line here is that you need to consider that every character you type, every syllable you utter is  99.9999% certain to be monitored….even though a tiny handful escape scrutiny.

On the other hand, spring flowers bloom freely.

tree yucca flowers



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