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Thursday, July 4, 2013

Fwd: Edward Snowden: Planet without a visa

"Today, as a subsidiary of Boeing, the latest generation of Narus systems is capable of "deep packet inspection," the ability to distinguish between different planes within the data flow, and examining Internet traffic as it passes through the 10-gigabit-per-second cables at the speed of light. According to former NSA intelligence official William Binney, the NSA has these systems installed at "10 or 20" switches around the country, and they are managed remotely from Fort Meade. Binney says the NSA is challenged with what to do with the 20 terabytes of intercepted data being captured each minute."   from The NSA's cyber-surveillance technology: Infrastructure of a police state (see below)
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Socialist Equality Party <sep@socialistequality.com>
Date: Wed, Jul 3, 2013 at 6:45 AM
Subject: Edward Snowden: Planet without a visa
To: "rferrisx@gmail.com" <rferrisx@gmail.com>


World Socialist Web Site

Socialist Equality Party Newsletter

The World Socialist Web Site and Socialist Equality Party are waging a campaign to defend Edward Snowden. For more information and to get involved, click here. For full WSWS coverage, click here.

Contents:

Edward Snowden: Planet without a visa

3 July 2013
Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency contractor who courageously exposed secret and unconstitutional US spying programs targeting millions of people in the US and around the world, is now unable to find a single government prepared to grant him the democratic right of asylum.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, "Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution." This centuries-old right has been codified in numerous international treaties.
Snowden unquestionably deserves this right. He confronts two espionage charges carrying a possible death sentence for the sole "crime" of exposing the real crimes of systematic spying by the US government against the people of the United States and the world.
His prospects for a fair trial in the US have been irrevocably aborted by the slander campaign of the media and the government, branding him a traitor and spy. The government that seeks his extradition has arrogated to itself the right to summarily execute anyone it deems an enemy of the state, a "right" that it has exercised against at least four American citizens by means of drone missile strikes. As for the media, it has deliberately buried the revelations of wholesale domestic and international spying in order to concentrate on Snowden's alleged "crimes."

Edward Snowden



For the past 11 days, Snowden has been trapped in the transit zone of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport, allowed neither to enter Russia nor proceed on to any other country. The Obama administration has mounted an international intimidation campaign against governments potentially contemplating giving him asylum.
Denouncing the US government's actions, Snowden declared: "In the end, the Obama administration is not afraid of whistleblowers like me, Bradley Manning or Thomas Drake. We are stateless, imprisoned, or powerless. No, the Obama administration is afraid of you. It is afraid of an informed, angry public demanding the constitutional government it was promised--and it should be." Such fear is by no means unique to the Obama administration.
While Snowden's actions have met with support and gratitude from workers and young people in the US and across the planet, that is not the ca se with the governments that rule them. All of them bow to the bullying from Washington. Like the US government, they defend wealthy ruling classes under conditions of ever-widening social inequality, and like Washington, they fear that their conspiracies against their own people will be exposed to the light of day.
Russian President Vladimir Putin spelled this out on Monday, announcing that Snowden would be allowed to stay in Russia only if he agreed to "cease his work aimed at inflicting damage to our American partners." The former KGB agent acknowledged that the word used to describe the US government sounded "strange... from my lips."
Whatever the geopolitical conflicts between Moscow and Washington, however, both governments represent rapacious capitalist ruling strata and are united in their fear of state crimes being exposed to their respective working populations.
Sno wden swiftly rejected Putin's "offer," which would have made him a political prisoner of the Kremlin oligarchy, and withdrew his asylum application. His action made clear his determination to continue exposing the illegal operations of the US government and at the same time underscored the fraud of the espionage charges brought against him.
Of the other 20 some governments to which Snowden submitted applications for asylum, many summarily rejected his request on technical grounds, while others, like the Brazilian Workers Party administration of Dilma Rousseff, merely announced they weren't even going to consider it. The government of Poland bluntly stated that its asylum policy required that granting this democratic right had to serve "national interests," a principle that could be embraced by any police-state dictatorship.
Perhaps most extraordinary is the reaction of Western European governments, which hav e denounced the revelations of US spying on them and the European Union as outrageous and Orwellian, and have threatened to abort a free trade agreement with the US in retaliation. Yet none of them is prepared to offer asylum to Snowden, the individual who exposed these crimes.
They are prepared to have him sent back to face a rigged trial by the government that carried out the offenses they have denounced. No doubt a major consideration in the decision to reject Snowden's right to asylum is concern that confidential material in his possession will implicate their own governments in similar crimes.
While Snowden has sought asylum from the governments of the so-called Latin American "left," as yet none have provided it. Their leaders have praised his courage--attempting to appeal to the popular support he enjoys among their own people--but have not shown the ability to summon one one-hundredth of the same courage themselves in the face of pressures and threats from US imperialism.
Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa, after initially indicating his government's willingness to grant Snowden asylum, took a personal phone call from US Vice President Joseph Biden last week and quickly changed his tune.
He condemned the London Ecuadorean consul's decision to grant Snowden a safe-conduct pass to leave Hong Kong as a "mistake" for which there would be "consequences." He also asserted that his government could not consider an asylum request until the ex-NSA contractor reached Ecuadorean soil--currently an impossibility with his US passport revoked, the Ecuadorean pass rescinded, and no other travel documents at hand.
Correa said that Snowden "really could have broken North American laws" and declared himself "very respectful of other countries and their laws." He added, "I believe that someone who breaks the law must assume his responsibilities."
Then there are Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and Bolivia's Evo Morales, both of whom were in Moscow this week for a meeting of gas-producing nations. While they have held out the possibility of granting Snowden asylum, either of them could have flown Snowden out on their presidential jets, but declined to do so.
Maduro, who has initiated a policy of "normalization" of relations with Washington and accommodation with Venezuela's billionaires, voiced the opinion that Snowden should receive "international protection," but denied that his government had received an asylum request, despite the report from WikiLeaks that one had been submitted. Morales made similar empty statements of sympathy for Snowden, while likewise claiming not to have received the request filed for political asylum.
Under conditions where no government is interested in upholding Edward Snowden's right to political asylum, a right that has been all but repudiated in practice across the planet, his defense can and must be taken up by working people, youth and students in the US and around the world. This must include the demand in every country that he be granted asylum now.
The defense of Snowden, as well as others targeted by US imperialism for exposing its crimes, including Julian Assange and Private Bradley Manning, must serve as the starting point for a worldwide offensive in defense of democratic rights and against the capitalist profit system, the source of war, social inequality and the drive toward police-state dictatorship.
Bill Van Auken

In hunt for Snowden, US forces Bolivian presidential jet to land

By Peter Symonds
3 July 2013
In a flagrant breach of international law and diplomatic norms, the Obama administration, in collusion with its European allies, today forced a plane carrying Bolivian President Evo Morales to land in Austria, on suspicion that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was on board.
Morales, who had been in Moscow for energy talks, was returning home. Bolivian Defence Minister Ruben Saavedra, who was also on the flight, told CNN that Portuguese authorities refused to allow the plane to land at its scheduled stop in Lisbon for "technical reasons."
The crew changed course for the Canary Islands but, as the plane was about to cross into France, French authorities denied permission, again citing "technical reasons." On the advice of the crew, the plane, with its fuel low, landed in Vienna, where the Bolivian president remains. Saavedra also reported that Italy had refused permission for the plane to overfly its airspace.
"This is a hostile act by the United States State Department, which has used various European governments," Saavedra told the media.
Austrian foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Schallenberg told the Associated Press that Snowden was not with the Bolivian president and his party at the airport. The Bolivian vice president Alvaro Garcia Linera, however, said that since the plane landed, some European officials insisted that it had to be searched before allowing it to fly over their airspace.
While the Obama administration has not formally acknowledged any involvement, there is no doubt that it was behind the plan. Since Snowden left Hong Kong and arrived in Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport, American officials have been engaged in intensive efforts to pressure Russia to hand him over and to exert further pressure on other countries not to grant him asylum.
The decision to force down the plane has demonstrated the utter lawlessness of the Obama administration, which has risked the life of the Bolivian president and provoked a major diplomatic row in its bid to capture Snowden. His only "crime" has been to expose the criminal actions of the US in establishing a vast NSA spying operation on the American people and the population of the world.
There is literally no line that Washington will not cross. Last week Obama declared that he would "not scramble jets" to force a plane suspected of carrying Snowden to land. This week European authorities have in effect done just that. If the Bolivian plane had entered Portuguese or French airspace, their air forces could have been used to compel it to land.
Washington's actions underscore the Obama administration's desperation to silence Snowden. His revelations so far have already exposed the vast extent of US spying. American intelligence agencies are no doubt well aware that Snowden has more information in his possession that will further compromise their criminal activities.
Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca has denied that Snowden was on board the president's plane. "We don't know who invented this lie. We want to denounce to the international community this injustice with the plane of President Evo Morales," he told reporters.
Choquehuanca accused France and Portugal of putting "at risk the life of the president." He dismissed the explanation of "technical reasons", saying: "After getting explanations from some authorities we found that there appeared to be some unfounded suspicions that Mr Snowden was on the plane."
Bolivia is one of a handful of countries that have indicated their willingness to consider Snowden's appeal for asylum. In Moscow, President Morales told Russian broadcaster, RT Actualidad, that if there was a request "of course we would be willing to debate and consider the idea." He said that Snowden "deserves the world's protection."
The incident has already provoked an angry reaction in Bolivia and other Latin American countries. Protesters waving Bolivian flags gathered outside the French embassy in the Bolivian capital of La Paz calling for the embassy to be shut down. One protest leader told the media that the demonstration was to tell France and Portugal that "they have no right to deny the president of a country, such as Bolivia, to land."
The US has bullied a number of countries, including Ecuador, into either denying Snowden asylum outright, or indicating that his application would only be considered once he is within their national territory. Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared that Snowden could have asylum in Russia, but only on condition that he cease leaking information--which Snowden has refused to do.
In a statement on Monday on the WikiLeaks website, Snowden condemned the efforts of the Obama administration "to pressure the leaders of nations from which I have requested protection to deny my asylum petitions."
In a separate letter in Spanish to Ecuador's president Rafael Correa, Snowden wrote: "I remain free and able to publish information that serves the public interest. No matter how many more days my life contains, I remain dedicated to the fight for justice in this unequal world."

Snowden denounces US moves to block his asylum requests

By Alex Lantier
2 July 2013
Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor who exposed NSA spying on the US and world population, issued a powerful statement yesterday denouncing the global manhunt Washington is mounting against him.
In the statement, initially posted on the WikiLeaks web site, Snowden explains that he decided to leave Hong Kong on June 23 "after it became clear that my freedom and safety were under threat for revealing the truth."
Snowden has been trapped in Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport since then, hoping to fly on to Ecuador to seek asylum. Washington has revoked his US passport, and US Vice President Joseph Biden called Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa urging him not to grant Snowden asylum. Correa has rescinded a travel document granted to Snowden at the Ecuadorean embassy in London.
Snowden's statement continues, "On Thursday, President Obama declared before the world that he would not permit any diplomatic 'wheeling and dealing' over my case. Yet it is now being reported that after promising not to do so, the President ordered his Vice President to pressure the leaders of nations from which I have requested protection to deny my asylum petitions ... Sadly, this right [to asylum], laid out and voted for by the US in Article 14 in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is now being rejected by the current government of my country."
Noting that the revocation of his US passport has left him stateless though he has been convicted of no crime, he concludes: "In the end, the Obama administration is not afraid of whistleblowers like me, Bradley Manning, or Thomas Drake. We are stateless, imprisoned, or powerless. No, t he Obama administration is afraid of you. It is afraid of an informed, angry public demanding the constitutional government it was promised--and it should be."
Snowden's statement exposes the debased state of political life in the United States and internationally. Snowden has revealed pervasive Internet monitoring of US citizens and individuals and governments worldwide, carried out in blatant violation of protections in the Bill of Rights of the US Constitution against unreasonable searches. Under the cover of the "war on terror," unelected cabals of intelligence and security officials in the US and US-allied regimes complicit in these programs have set up the surveillance infrastructure of police states.
Now, it is Snowden, and not the officials guilty of overseeing these programs, who is targeted by an intense, global manhunt. With governments internationally implicated in these programs or cowering befo re their perpetrators, the only remaining constituency for democratic rights and the defense of Snowden is the international working class.
The Correa government made a cowardly statement yesterday evening to justify its decision to abandon Snowden. Correa distanced himself from the Ecuadorean consul in London, Fidel Narvaez, who issued a travel document to Snowden to travel from Hong Kong to Ecuador via Moscow. Correa declared that even though this decision was taken because Snowden feared for his life in Hong Kong, it was a "mistake."
Significantly, Narvaez cited the historical precedent of Ecuadorean diplomats in Czechoslovakia during World War II--who gave Jews visas to escape fascist mass murder in Europe--in order to justify his decision to help Snowden escape Hong Kong.
Correa repudiated Narvaez's decision, while conceding that Narvaez's arguments were correct: "I tol d him, 'OK, if you think you did the right thing, I respect your decision, but you could not give, without authorization, that safe conduct pass. It was completely invalid, and he will have to accept the consequences.'"
Snowden's revelations have undermined the public justifications advanced for NSA spying programs by the Obama administration, which claimed they were part of the "war on terror." In fact, they were widely used to spy on commercial and political discussions at embassies and government installations of Washington's European allies. Unless Washington claims that the European Union is a terrorist organization planning to attack the United States, US spying programs are manifestly being used in the strategic interests of US banks and military-intelligence forces.
This spying proceeded even though European countries--including states such as France and Germany that were labeled "third-class partner s" by the NSA--reportedly shared Internet traffic data with Washington.
Embarrassed and apparently taken aback by the scale of US spying, leading European officials are protesting the NSA programs. German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrberger said, "It is beyond comprehension that our friends in the United States see Europeans as enemies."
Elmer Brok, the chairman of the European Parliament's foreign affairs committee, said, "the spying has reached dimensions that I did not think were possible for a democratic country ... [The United States] lost all balance, George Orwell is nothing by comparison."
Several European officials, including French President Fran├žois Hollande and European Commissioner Viviane Reding, called for negotiations on a proposed US-EU free trade zone to be postponed.
Snowden has reportedly given Russian autho rities applications for asylum to 15 countries, including Russia itself. Despite public support for Snowden in Russia, Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a cynical and ambiguous statement, implying that Russia might grant him asylum on certain conditions--including that he cease publishing information that embarrassed the US government.
Putin said, "If [Snowden] wants to go somewhere and they accept him, please, be my guest. If he wants to stay here, there is one condition: he must cease his work aimed at inflicting damage to our American partners, as strange as it may sound from my lips."
Later, Putin appeared to indicate that Russia would not grant Snowden asylum: "Because he sees himself as a human rights activist and a freedom fighter for people's rights, apparently he is not intending to cease his work. So he must choose for himself a country to go to and where to move."
These statements make clear that, without a struggle by the working class to defend Snowden and democratic rights, his fate will be left up to the twists and turns of negotiations between the reactionary Russian and US governments.
Nikolai Patrushev, the head of Russia's security council and a former head of Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB, the former Soviet-era KGB), said that Russian and US officials would discuss Snowden's case: "[Putin and Obama] do not have a decision that would suit both sides. So they have ordered FSB director [Alexander] Bortnikov and FBI director [Robert] Mueller to be in constant contact and find possible solutions."
Several media outlets have speculated that Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who arrived yesterday in Moscow on a two-day trade visit, might grant Snowden asylum and fly him to Venezuela on his official jet. However, protection from the Maduro regime-- which recently held talks with right-wing billionaires and with US Secretary of State John Kerry, apparently to repair relations with the US after the death of President Hugo Chavez--is no guarantee against US persecution.

The US media and the case of Edward Snowden

By Barry Grey
2 July 2013
The American media has lined up squarely behind the Obama administration, the National Security Agency (NSA), and the military in defense of the massive spying operations exposed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
Not only has the establishment news media promoted the official propaganda line that wholesale violations of the US Constitution are justified by the requirements of the so-called "war on terror," it has thrown its support behind the campaign of vilification against Snowden and the international dragnet mounted by the US government to extradite him and convict him on bogus espionage charges.
Prominent news personalities have joined in the agitation against Snowden and gone even further, baiting journalists who are assisting Snowden in his exposures and defending the whistleblower. The complicity of these pseudo-journalists in efforts to criminalize investigative reporting and punish genuine journalists who attempt to do their job--informing the public of official secrets, lies and crimes--underscores the debased state of the American press and its critical role in assault on democratic rights.
On Sunday, George Stephanopoulos, the moderator of ABC News' "This Week" program, attempted to use an interview with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to discredit both Assange and Snowden. In questioning Assange, who was interviewed remotely from his refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, Stephanopoulos adopted the posture of inquisitor rather than journalist.
A genuine journalist would have used the interview to probe whether other revelations of illegal surveillance would be forthcoming and what they might entail. But Stephanopoulos had no interest in this subject. Like the media as a whole, his main concern was to prevent further disclosures and avoid an examination of what already has been revealed.
After asking Assange, in effect, to undermine Snowden's efforts to escape capture by divulging "where Edward Snowden is right now and where he's expected to go"--which Assange refused to do--the "This Week" host got down to the business of smearing his guest.
"[Edward Snowden's father] fears that you and WikiLeaks are manipulating his son," Stephanopoulos declared, adding, "You have put yourself in the middle of it."
When Assange made the point that the interception of people's communications under President Obama went far beyond anything attempted by Nixon, Stephanopoulos cut him off and declared, "He [Snowden] has also broken the law."
He followed with a red herring about alleged attacks by the Ecuadorean regime on journalists, suggesting that by taking refuge in the Ecuado rean embassy Assange was guilty of a "double standard." When Assange replied that "There is no allegation that Ecuador is involved in a mass transnational surveillance or assassination program," Stephanopoulos abruptly cut him off and ended the interview.
One week before, David Gregory, the moderator of NBC News' "Meet the Press" program, grilled Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian journalist who has interviewed Snowden and published articles exposing the secret spying programs, based on documents supplied by the whistleblower.
Gregory made little attempt to conceal his hostility, beginning the interview by asking, "Is there additional information he [Snowden] is prepared to leak to bolster his and your claim that he is actually a whistleblower and not a criminal responsible for espionage?"
After continuing in this vein ("You do not dispute that Edward Snowden has broken the law, do you?"), Gregory concluded with: "To the extent that you have aided and abetted Snowden, even in his current movements, why shouldn't you, Mister Greenwald, be charged with a crime?"
Greenwald shot back, "I think it's pretty extraordinary that anybody who would call themselves a journalist would muse about whether or not other journalists should be charged with felonies."
Gregory was not the only prominent media commentator to suggest that Greenwald be imprisoned for breaking the conspiracy of silence surrounding the NSA spying programs. One day after the "Meet the Press" interview, New York Times financial columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin, speaking on the CNN "Squawkbox" program, which he co-hosts, declared: "I feel like, A, we've screwed this up, even letting him [Snowden] get to Russia. B, clearly the Chinese hate us to even let him out of the country. I would arrest him, and now I would almost arrest Glenn Greenwald, who's the journalist who seems to want to help him get to Ecuador."
Who are these "journalists?" They all make seven-figure salaries for promoting the interests of the corporate media owners and the state, and misinforming the American people.
Stephanopoulos leveraged his stint as media spokesman and political advisor to President Clinton in the 1990s to land lucrative jobs at ABC, which is owned by Walt Disney Company. His establishment credentials include membership on the semi-official Council on Foreign Relations.
Gregory boosted his career prospects as a young reporter by establishing close relations with the Bush White House following the theft of the 2000 election. The right-wing Media Research Center named him "Best White House Correspondent" for his coverage of Bush's first 100 days.
Sorkin is known as an apologist for the most corrupt elements on Wall Street. The son of a partner in a high-powered New York City law firm that specializes in mergers and acquisitions, he became a financial reporter for the Times and quickly rose to become financial columnist and editor of the newspaper's Dealbook, which the Times describes as "a dynamic new way for Wall Street power players to get the news they need to compete in today's tough marketplace."
In November of 2008, at the height of the crisis of General Motors and Chrysler, he published a column calling for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and denouncing the "gold-plated" and "off-the-charts" wages and benefits of auto workers. He singled out for attack remarks made by an assembler at GM's Lake Orion, Michigan plant, which had been published in the Detroit Free Press. The worker had told the newspaper, "I think we've given enough."
These wealthy, complacent and reactionary figures are representative of the upper rungs of the media. They are devoid of democratic consciousness, hostile to the working masses and slavishly loyal to the ruling elite and the state. They exemplify a media that serves as an arm of the state and considers that to be its legitimate mission.

The NSA's cyber-surveillance technology: Infrastructure of a police state

By Kevin Reed
25 June 2013

Headquarters of the NSA at Fort Meade, Maryland. Beneath the dark glass is a skinlike covering of thin orange-colored copper shielding to keep all signals from getting in or out.
Edward Snowden's documentary exposure of secret NSA surveillance activities has brought to light details of the mass illegal collection of phone metadata and online transaction activity of both US citizens and individuals, organizations and governments around the world.
Following a classified Congressional intelligence briefing on June 11, US Representative Loretta Sanchez stated in a C-Span interview that Snowden's disclosures were "the tip of the iceberg." Indeed, with more revelations to come, Edward Snowden has courageously helped make the public aware of a vast spying conspiracy by the corporate-military-intelligence apparatus within the US.
Prior to Snowden's revelations, available published information about the NSA's signals intelligence systems has been limited. Much of what is presented here is derived from the work of James Bamford, journalist and intelligence expert a nd author of several books on the NSA including The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America (2008).
Bamford has conducted extensive interviews with former NSA employees and other whistleblowers. He is also the author of a March 2012 Wired magazine article entitled, The NSA is Building the Country's Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say) .

Background to NSA surveillance

In the early days of the cold war, the NSA developed "black" activities and began building up the infrastructure for secretly monitoring communications inside and outside the US. One of the first warrantless NSA surveillance operations--Project Shamrock--involved copying telegrams and passing them to US law enforcement and the military. There was no distinction between foreign and domestic communications; every telegram was being copied to microfilm.
Project Shamrock required collaboration between the NSA and the communications industry. Companies such as Western Union, RCA and ITT made secret agreements and turned over the telegrams to the NSA every night. The program was exposed in 1975 and became a subject of the Senate Intelligence Committee hearings of Frank Church that resulted in the FISA law of 1978.
With the growth of post-war satellite and microwave communications, a surveillance program called Echelon pioneered the interception, storage and analysis of trunk-line voice and data communications. To cover the entire globe, Echelon became a joint program of the so-called Five Eyes (US, UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand) and utilized the most advanced satellite and software technologies of its time. Since only 1% of the world's telecommunications traffic passes through satellites today, it is believed that Echelon remains an aspect of signals intelligence that is otherwise dedicated to fiber optic cable networks.
In the 1990s, the Internet, World Wide Web and mobile phones transformed global communications. To keep pace, the NSA moved to transition its black operations to the new era of cyber-surveillance. Initially, due to residual concerns from the Nixon era about domestic spying, the NSA was restricted f rom taking widespread advantage of the technologies being developed by the emerging intelligence industry. However, after the attacks of the September 11, 2001, huge sums were pumped into surveillance budgets and NSA proposals and initiatives that were sitting on shelves for years were ramped up and brought online.
It is clear that the same political forces within the ruling class that utilized the hysteria over 9/11 to rapidly carry out war plans long in the making also moved swiftly to implement high-tech eavesdropping operations, especially within the US.
One such program was the Bush administration's Total Information Awareness (TIA) initiative run by the secret Office of Information Awareness (OIA), headed by former Iran-Contra conspirator John Poindexter, beginning in February 2002. TIA was the brainchild of J. Brian Sharkey, a deputy director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, who recogn ized early on the exceptional opportunities to "vacuum up" everyone's digital trail. Sharkey's concept was that bookstore visits, gas station fill-ups, phone data and Internet search activity could be processed with supercomputers and complex algorithms to automate the surveillance process.
Following the exposure of Poindexter's TIA/OIA operation in late 2002, the public was told that these illegal NSA activities would be suspended and funding terminated by congressional action. However, considered too valuable to scrap, these functions were moved deeper into the bowels of military intelligence and kept going by the Pentagon.
The Obama administration, far from reducing the activities of the NSA, has expanded illegal spying operations to staggering proportions. Along with the use of unmanned and remote controlled drones for "targeted assassinations," technological breakthroughs in high-speed optical communica tions and computer processing power, storage and decryption have been used to intensify spying.
Given the colossal scale of the technologies both in place and coming online soon, it is conceivable that the US government intends to intercept, store, catalog, and profile the activities of every single person with a cell phone or an Internet connection, i.e., more than two-thirds of the world's population, or about 4.5 billion people.

The NSA's structure

Centered at its city-sized headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland, the NSA is engaged in communications monitoring program that includes many billions of exchanges per day. Tapping into the entirety of global Internet and phone call data that passes through nodal points in the US and around the world, the NSA processes enormous volumes of information in real time.

The layout of the Utah Data Center as published by Wired Magazine in March 2012. The data center's four 25,000 square foot server halls will store yottabytes. A yottabyte (YB) is 1 trillion terabytes. If 64 GB micro SD cards (the most compact data storage format available) were used, the total volume of space required for a YB is approximately 2,500,000 cubic meters or the volume of the Great Pyramid of Giza.
What cannot be used today--due to the effectiveness of current encryption technologies, for example--is being stored and cataloged for future decryption and analysis. Additionally, in the Orwellian world of American intelligence, what may not be officially considered a "threat" today can turn into one tomorrow and the "evidence" put together from readily available databases.
The NSA has 40,000 employees, made up of administrators, code-breakers, intercept operators, crypto-linguists and area specialists. Increasingly, the NSA subcontracts work to private corporations such as Booz Allen Hamilton (Edward Snowden's former employer), Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC). Although the NSA budget is classified, Bamford estimated it at $60 billion in 2008, with 70% being spent on subcontractors.
The NSA operates four geos tationary satellite facilities around the world that monitor radio frequencies from satellite and microwave communications to cell phone and walkie-talkie signals. Within the US, the agency has a network of sites in Pennsylvania, California, Colorado, Texas, Georgia, Tennessee, and Hawaii. Some of these are either research facilities like Oak Ridge, Tennessee, or are sites that manage the communication intercepts into the network from different parts of the world.
Due to the interdependent nature of the worldwide telecommunications grid, the distinction between information that is specifically "foreign" versus that which is "domestic"--upon which much of the FISA wiretapping laws were drafted--has been rendered meaningless. Amongst the trillions of packets of information traversing the network each day, international and US-only data are entirely comingled.

Interception in gigabits

The system of unde rsea fiber optic cables carries 99 percent of international telecommunications. The NSA is not tapping the fiber network at the two-dozen cable landing stations in the US where overseas traffic enters the US. Instead, the agency has installed sophisticated "optical splitters" or data interceptors at major commercial exchange and switching hubs well within the shoreline. It is gathering vast amounts of information.
Bamford interviewed Mark Klein, an AT&T employee who exposed the NSA's tapping of the communications infrastructure in 2006. As early as 2003, Klein became aware of government monitoring at AT&T's San Francisco hub with the installation of a Narus intercept traffic analyzer, an advanced computer system that taps directly into the fiber optic lines. Klein said, "What I saw is that everything's flowing across the Internet to this government-controlled room. The physical apparatus gives them everything. A lot of this was domestic."

A graphic from Narus that depicts how its SystemN intercept technology splits fiber optic traffic beams like a prism splits a beam of light. Operating these systems remotely, the NSA is tapping the communications trunk line and separating the data stream into three elements: network plane, semantic plane and user plane.
Narus initially specialized in high speed data filtering systems that differentiate email, chat, calendar appointments, draft folders, address books, etc., to calculate telecom processing fees. As Bamford explained, "Following the attacks on 9/11, Narus began modifying its system and selling it to intelligence agencies around the world, who used it not for billing purposes but for mass surveillance."
Today, as a subsidiary of Boeing, the latest generation of Narus systems is capable of "deep packet inspection," the ability to distinguish between different planes within the data flow, and examining Internet traffic as it passes through the 10-gigabit-per-second cables at the speed of light. According to former NSA intelligence official William Binney, the NSA has these systems installed at "10 or 20" switches around the country, and they are managed remotely from Fort Meade. Binney says the NSA is challenged with what to do with the 20 terabytes of intercepted data being captured each minute.

Storage in yottabytes

Presently, the NSA is building a facility called the Utah Data Center that is scheduled to open in September of this year. The $2 billion construction project in Bluffdale, 20 miles south of Salt Lake City, will be the largest cloud-based data storage facility in the world and the hub of the NSA's cyber-espionage operations. At more than 1 million square feet, the top-secret and self-sustaining complex will host servers capable of storing yottabytes of data. A yottabyte (10^24 bytes) is 1 trillion terabytes.

The XT5 Jaguar supercomputer developed by Cray and the NSA that became the fastest computer in the world in 2009 at 1.75 petaflops. The system has 200 cabinets with 37,500 quad core processors, 300 TB of RAM and 10,000TB of disk storage. It is 100,000 times faster than a high-performance desktop computer.
The NSA is building the Utah data-mining facility--including four 25,000-square-foot data halls packed with high speed servers--in a mad attempt to keep pace with the exponential growth of communications traffic. It has been estimated that total data throughput on the Internet will quadruple from 2010 to 2015 to just under 1,000 exabytes per year (1 million exabytes = 1 yottabyte). A major aspect of the Utah Data Center's purpose is to penetrate and gather the data in the "deep web," i.e., password-protected information that is secure, private, and not available for public browsing.
The facility will have 900,000 square feet of technical support and administrative offices. According to Bamford, "Flowing through its servers and routers and stored in near-bottomless databases will be all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails--parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital 'pocket litter.'"

Analysis in petaflops

One of the purposes of the center in Bluffdale is to develop the ability to break through standard encryption technologies that make it impossible to read the content of some intercepted data. The NSA plans to crack encryption with a combination of super-fast computers and "brute force" attacks on messages, going through a massive number of messages to analyze. According to Bamford, "The more messages from a given target, the more likely it is for the computers to detect telltale patterns, and Bluffdale will be able to hold a great many messages."
The processing aspect is being worked on as part of what is known as the High Productivity Computer Systems program at the NSA's research facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The initial goal was to build the most powerful computer ever known and advance computational speeds beyond a quadrillion (1015) operations per second (petaflop). A flop is a measurement of mathematical floating-point calculations that a computer can process per second. A very fast desktop computer today can achieve speeds of 100 gigaflops or about one hundred thousand times slower than the NSA's goal.
Working with Cray, the supercomputer company as a $250 million contract partner, the NSA built a system code-named "Jaguar" that broke the petaflop barrier and officially became the world's fastest computer in 2009. In 2011, the Oak Ridge facility hit 2.33 petaflops but it ranked third in speed behind Japan's "K Computer," with an impressive 10.51 petaflops, and the Chinese Tianhe-1A system, with 2.57 petaflops. The next NSA goal is to complete a project code-named "Titan" that will hit speeds of 10 to 20 petaflops by 2013.

Threat of a police state

When considered within the context of the economic, social and political crisis of American capitalism, the unprecedented scale and scope of the NSA electronic eavesdropping on US citizens and others around the world has an ominous character to it. It is clear that such measures are being prepared for reasons other than those officially provided.
At the height of its power, the Nazi regime of Adolf Hitler used the most sophisticated analog information methods available to identify and track those whom it deemed undesirable. The 1933 census was used to establish the ethnic identity of the population and was conducted with the assistance of the computer punch card tabulation services invented by Herman Hollerith and provided by IBM. Years later, each one of the Nazi concentration camps had a three-digit Hollerith code number it used for paperwork purposes.
The explosive development of mobile and wire less devices and their ubiquity in the lives of the vast majority of the world's population make it possible for sinister operations within the state to gather details about each individual's everyday activities for repressive purposes.

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