‘Not the Russians’: John McAfee talks hacking allegations, U.S. government surveillance, and cybersecurity with Larry King (VIDEO)

From RT, Politicking with Larry King

December 30, 2016

In this episode of Politicking, political activist, tech pioneer and CEO of MGT Capital Investments John McAfee joins Larry King to bring us his valuable insight regarding issues of cybersecurity and the ominous encroachment of mass surveillance and vulnerability of big government agencies. But first, Bill Marczak, senior research fellow at the Citizens Lab at the University of Toronto’s School of Global Affairs, explains his frightening discoveries in the field of phone-commandeering spyware in the course of his activism with Bahrain Watch.
Following the release of an FBI report outlining Russia’s alleged role in hacking the 2016 election, Larry King sat down to talk with tech pioneer John McAfee to discuss the current state of cybersecurity.

McAfee is no stranger to cybersecurity. As the developer of the first commercial antivirus program, he has been a major player in the industry for the past 50 years. He is also the CEO of MGT Capital Investments, and an outspoken former presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party.

Based on all of his experience, McAfee does not believe that Russians were behind the hacks on the Democratic National Committee (DNC), John Podesta’s emails, and the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign. As he told RT, “if it looks like the Russians did it, then I can guarantee you it was not the Russians.”

The Joint Analysis Report from the FBI contains an appendix that lists hundreds of IP addresses that were supposedly “used by Russian civilian and military intelligence services.” While some of those IP addresses are from Russia, the majority are from all over the world, which means that the hackers constantly faked their location.

McAfee argues that the report is a “fallacy,” explaining that hackers can fake their location, their language, and any markers that could lead back to them. Any hacker who had the skills to hack into the DNC would also be able to hide their tracks, he said

“If I was the Chinese and I wanted to make it look like the Russians did it, I would use Russian language within the code, I would use Russian techniques of breaking into the organization,” McAfee said, adding that, in the end, “there simply is no way to assign a source for any attack.”

However, McAfee does see a problem with the National Security Agency (NSA) being able to listen in on every conversation and read every text message and email of every American. Rather than focusing on disrupting the bad guys in foreign countries, McAfee thinks that “all of that effort has been placed on a country that is afraid of its own citizens.”

He claims that the only way he has been able to fully block the NSA from infecting his phone with spyware is by using a flip-phone too old to be hacked. He even goes as far as to call the iPhone the “ultimate spy device.”

As for the future, McAfee’s biggest fear is that the role of the NSA will change under a President Donald Trump.

“Donald Trump wants the DOJ to head a national task force of law enforcement agencies to create our cybersecurity,” he says.

McAfee predicts that if President-elect Trump follows through with that intention, the FBI will end up heading the NSA, as they are the lead technologists within the DOJ.

McAfee thinks that idea is a recipe for disaster, warning “we don’t need one more attacker, that attacker being our own government.”

https://www.rt.com/usa/372219-larry-king-mcafee-cybersecurity/

 

 

Merkel entmachtet BND: USA kontrollieren Spionage in Deutschland

Editor: This article was referenced in http://www.globalresearch.ca/germanys-foreign-intelligence-service-bnd-to-become-branch-of-americas-cia/5529669

Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten | 7. Juni 2016  |

Das neue BND-Gesetz ist fertig. Es wird den deutschen Geheimdienst weiter beschneiden. Schon heute sind die deutschen Dienste jenen der USA hoffnungslos unterlegen. Der BND verliert mit seiner Beschränkung vor allem die Möglichkeit, deutsche Unternehmen gegen US-Wirtschaftsspionage zu schützen.

Die große Koalition hat sich auf eine Reform des Bundesnachrichtendienstes (BND) verständigt. Dies bestätigten Koaltionskreise am Dienstag unter Bezugnahme auf eine Einigung bereits am Freitag als Ergebnis einer Runde im Kanzleramt. An dem finalen Gespräch nahmen den Angaben zufolge neben Kanzleramtschef Peter Altmaier, Innenminister Thomas de Maiziere und Justizminister Heiko Maas auch Geheimdienstkoordinator Klaus-Dieter Fritsche sowie mehrere Fachpolitiker der Unions- und SPD-Fraktion teil. Dem BND soll nun untersagt werden, Staaten der Europäischen Union und ihre Bürger sowie EU-Institutionen auszuspionieren. Ausnahmen solle es bei Terrorismusverdacht geben.

Zentraler Punkt aus Sicht der Transatlantiker: Auch Wirtschaftsspionage soll dem Dienst ausdrücklich verboten werden. Bei Maßnahmen zur strategischen Fernmeldeaufklärung im Ausland mit Hilfe bestimmter Suchbegriffe sollten künftig der BND-Präsident, das Kanzleramt sowie ein unabhängiges Richtergremium zustimmen, hieß es weiter. Auch sollen im Gesetz genaue Bedingungen formuliert werden, unter denen solche Kommunikationsüberwachungen möglich sind.

Damit ist der BND im Hinblick auf die Spionage-Abwehr faktisch entmannt und völlig an die politische Kandare genommen, und zwar die der Kanzlerin. Europäische Geheimdienst-Experten bestätigen den Deutschen Wirtschafts Nachrichten, dass der BND durch das neue Gesetz seine wichtigsten Aktionsmöglichkeiten verliert. Schon bisher sei der BND nicht mehr in der Lage, die von den Amerikanern geführte technische Infrastruktur zu nutzen und die Ergebnisse auszuwerten.

In der Praxis bedeutet dies: Die US-Dienste können weiter ungehört in Deutschland jedes Unternehmen und jedes Individuum abhören. Der BND muss den Amerikanern zwar technische und logistische Unterstützung anbieten, ist jedoch fachlich nicht mehr in der Lage, die Daten selbst auszuwerten. Die direkte Anbindung an das Kanzleramt schließt die parlamentarische Kontrolle aus, wenn es darum geht, welche Daten an die Amerikaner weitergegeben werden und welche nicht. Die US-Dienste betrieben massive Wirtschaftsspionage in Deutschland und begründen dies mit dem Nato-Gesetz und dem immer noch geltenden Bündnisfall nach dem 11. September 2001.

Die Kontrolle durch das Kanzleramt ist für Beobachter aus Geheimdiensten eine Schlüssel-Entscheidung. Ein europäischer Experte sagte den Deutschen Wirtschafts Nachrichten: „Faktisch wurde die gängige (illegale oder grenzwertige) Praxis in ein Gesetz gegossen. Eine Dominanz der US-Dienste kann ich hier nicht herauslesen. Ich würde sogar in die andere Richtung argumentieren. Der BND erhält einen Abhörfreibrief, ebenso wie der Verfassungsschutz. Beiden haben nunmehr das Potential, ein Staat im Staat zu sein. Faktisch ist es aber vor allem die Aufwertung der Kanzleramtes und damit der Kanzlerin in außenpolitischen Fragen.“

Genau darin sehen andere Beobachter die Stärkung der US-Dienste, weil Merkel konsequent mit den USA als wichtigstem transatlantischen Partner zusammenarbeitet. Der Experte sieht allerdings auch einen möglichen, unfreiwilligen Vorteil für Deutschland: „Der nächste Kanzler muss nicht unbedingt ein bedingungsloser Transatlantiker sein: Was immer er ist: Er hat einen veritablen Nachrichtendienst an seiner Seite.“

Der Experte geht sogar einen Schritt weiter und sieht in den Gesetzen eine mögliche, vorsichtige Ablösung von der US-Vorherrschaft bei den Diensten: „Die Abhängigkeit von den US-Diensten ist aktuell enorm. Beide Gesetze haben jedoch eines gemeinsam, und das scheint auch einer längerfristigen deutschen Strategie zu folgen. Man riskiert derzeit keinen abrupten Abbruch der Kooperation mit den Amerikanern. Das wäre für Deutschland in dieser Gefährdungslage töricht und gefährlich. Was diese Gesetze ausmacht, ist der Einbau von Sollbruchstellen für bisherige Kooperationen und Kooperationspartner. Diese Sollbruchstellen sind ab Inkrafttreten politisch definiert. Das unterscheidet diese Ansätze von früheren. Das heißt, das es keinen Automatismus für die Fortführung solcher Abhängigkeiten mehr gibt. Es bedeutet aber auch die Entmachtung der BND-Bürokratie. Es ist somit zu erwarten, dass der BND schon sehr bald auch eine technische Aufrüstung erfahren könnte, um dann diese Sollbruchstellen im Bedarfsfalle auszulösen.“

Deutsche Unternehmen sind in den vergangenen Jahren immer wieder von den US-Diensten ausgespäht und massiv unter Druck gesetzt worden. Dies war, so ein Geheimdienstexperte zu den DWN, vor allem im Fall Siemens evident. Auch bei der VW-Affäre wird vermutet, dass die US-Dienste ihre Finger im Spiel haben.

Eine besondere Rolle dürfte auch die neue geopolitische Lage spielen: Die Nato hat Russland zum Feind erklärt. Im neuen Weißbuch des Bundeswehr wird Russland vom Partner zum Rivalen herabgestuft. Im Zuge neuer Spannung spielen Aufklärung und Desinformation eine wichtige Rolle. Im Zuge der Ukraine-Krise war es zu einem Streit zwischen Außenminister Steinmeier und der US-Aufklärung gekommen: Steinmeier hatte die Amerikaner öffentlich kritisiert, weil sie falsche Informationen über die Lage im Donbass lanciert hatten.

Die „Reform“ war nötig geworden, nachdem die deutsche Öffentlichkeit in den vergangenen Monaten mit einigen mehr oder weniger erheblichen Affären des BND vertraut gemacht wurde. Diese haben die Forderung laut werden lassen, den BND strengeren Kontrolle zu unterwerfen und Abhöraktionen auf eine neue gesetzliche Grundlage zu stellen.

Die Reform lag in den vergangenen Monaten auf Eis. Bei der Bekanntgabe der Ablösung von BND-Chef Gerhard Schindler im April hatte die Bundesregierung aber versichert, dass noch in diesem Jahr eine Novelle des BND-Gesetzes verabschiedetet werden solle. Nach Möglichkeit soll ein Entwurf nun noch vor der Sommerpause im Kabinett beraten werden. Das Vorhaben solle verknüpft werden mit der geplanten Reform des Parlamentarischen Kontrollgremiums des Bundestags, hieß es.

Der Auslandsgeheimdienst war in den vergangenen Jahren mehrfach in die Kritik geraten. Der Behörde wurde unter anderem ein zu großes Eigenleben vorgeworfen. So hatte der BND an seinem Horchposten in Bad Aibling Suchbegriffe des US-Nachrichtendienstes NSA verwendet, um europäische Verbündete auszuspionieren. Originellerweise hat es für die NSA nicht die geringsten Konsequenzen gegeben – die Überwachung der Deutschen durch die US-Dienste erfolgt bis zum heutigen Tag. US-Präsident Barack Obama hatte ausdrücklich lediglich angekündigt, das Handy von Angela Merkel nicht mehr überwachen lassen zu wollen. Eine Initiative zum Schutz der Bundesbürger durch die Regierung ist nicht ergriffen worden. Nach Einschätzung von Geheimdienstfachleuten ist die technische Überlegenheit der US-Dienste, etwa bei der Auswertung der Selektoren, bereits so groß, dass der BND zu einer wirksamen Spionage-Abwehr ohnehin nicht mehr in der Lage ist.

Um den BND in Misskredit zu bringen, wurde die Reputation des Dienstes nachhaltig beschädigt. Die US-Dienste sind zu diesem Zweck vor allem im Internet sehr aktiv. Der BND-Präsident Schindler war zuletzt zum Rücktritt gezwungen worden, nachdem sich der Dienst kritisch zu Saudi-Arabien geäußert hatte.

Innerhalb des BND gibt es einen erbitterten Kampf zwischen jenen, die den Dienst im deutschen Interesse führen wollen und den Transatlantikern, die im BDN vor allem einen untergeordneten Dienstleister für die US-Interessen sehen.

http://deutsche-wirtschafts-nachrichten.de/2016/06/07/merkel-entmachtet-bnd-usa-kontrollieren-spionage-in-Deutschland/

Evading the law: Is Great Britain proxy-collecting American phone conversations for the NSA?

Great Britain maintains a “listening post” at NSA HQ. The laws restricting live wiretaps do not apply to foreign countries  and thus this listening post  is not subject to  US law. 

Who else maintains a listening post at NSA HQ?

Also, Great Britain can collect all American phone conversations for its own archives. Perhaps the Queen and the British elite are far more powerful than people generally believe.

By Janet Phelan
Global Research, September 20, 2015
New Eastern Outlook 19 September 2015
Former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden’s revelations rocked the world.  According to his detailed reports, the US had launched massive spying programs and was scrutinizing the communications of American citizens in a manner which could only be described as extreme and intense.

The US’s reaction was swift and to the point. “”Nobody is listening to your telephone calls,” President Obama said when asked about the NSA. As quoted in The Guardian,  Obama went on to say that surveillance programs were “fully overseen not just by Congress but by the Fisa court, a court specially put together to evaluate classified programs to make sure that the executive branch, or government generally, is not abusing them”.

However, it appears that Snowden may have missed a pivotal part of the US surveillance program. And in stating that the “nobody” is not listening to our calls, President Obama may have been fudging quite a bit.

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In fact, Great Britain maintains a “listening post” at NSA HQ. The laws restricting live wiretaps do not apply to foreign countries  and thus this listening post  is not subject to  US law.  In other words, the restrictions upon wiretaps, etc. do not apply to the British listening post.  So when Great Britain hands over the recordings to the NSA, technically speaking, a law is not being broken and technically speaking, the US is not eavesdropping on our each and every call.

It is Great Britain which is doing the eavesdropping and turning over these records to US intelligence.

According to John Loftus, formerly an attorney with  the Department of Justice and author of a number of books concerning US intelligence activities, back in the late seventies  the USDOJ issued a memorandum proposing an amendment to FISA. Loftus, who recalls seeing  the memo, stated in conversation this week that the DOJ proposed inserting the words “by the NSA” into the FISA law  so the scope of the law would only restrict surveillance by the NSA, not by the British.  Any subsequent sharing of the data culled through the listening posts was strictly outside the arena of FISA.

Obama was less than forthcoming when he insisted that “What I can say unequivocally is that if you are a US person, the NSA cannot listen to your telephone calls, and the NSA cannot target your emails … and have not.”

According to Loftus, the NSA is indeed listening as Great Britain is turning over the surveillance records en masse to that agency. Loftus states that the arrangement is reciprocal, with the US maintaining a parallel listening post in Great Britain.

In an interview this past week, Loftus told this reporter that  he believes that Snowden simply did not know about the arrangement between Britain and the US. As a contractor, said Loftus, Snowden would not have had access to this information and thus his detailed reports on the extent of US spying, including such programs as XKeyscore, which analyzes internet data based on global demographics, and PRISM, under which the telecommunications companies, such as Google, Facebook, et al, are mandated to collect our communications, missed the critical issue of the FISA loophole.

Under PRISM, said Snowden, the US has “deputized” corporate telecoms to do its dirty work for them.  PRISM, declared Snowden was indeed about content, rather than metadata.

However, other reports indicated that PRISM was not collecting telephone conversations and was  only collecting targeted internet communications. The most detailed description of the PRISM program was released in a report from the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) on July 2, 2014. The report disclosed that “ these internet communications are not collected in bulk, but in a targeted way: only communications that are to or from specific selectors, like e-mail addresses, can be gathered. Under PRISM, there’s no collection based upon keywords or names.”( (Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, Report on the Surveillance Program Operated Pursuant to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, July 2, 2014).

U.S. government officials have defended the program by asserting it cannot be used on domestic targets without a warrant. But once again, the FISA courts and their super-secret warrants  do not apply to foreign government surveillance of US citizens. So all this sturm and drang about whether or not the US is eavesdropping on our communications is, in fact, irrelevant and diversionary.

Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act, which authorized extensive surveillance capabilities, expired in June of 2015. Within one day,  it was  replaced by the misnamed USA Freedom Act.  In a widely disseminated tweet, President Obama stated “Glad the Senate finally passed the USA Freedom Act. It protects civil liberties and our national security.”

In fact, the USA Freedom Act reinstituted a number of the surveillance protocols of Section 215, including  authorization for  roving wiretaps  and tracking “lone wolf terrorists.”  While mainstream media heralded the passage of the bill as restoring privacy rights which were shredded under 215, privacy advocates have maintained that the bill will do little, if anything, to reverse the  surveillance situation in the US. The NSA went on the record as supporting the Freedom Act, stating it would end bulk collection of telephone metadata.

However, in light of the reciprocal agreement between the US and Great Britain, the entire hoopla over NSA surveillance, Section 215, FISA courts and the USA Freedom Act could be seen as a giant smokescreen. If Great Britain is collecting our real time phone conversations and turning them over to the NSA, outside the realm or reach of the above stated laws, then all this posturing over the privacy rights of US citizens and surveillance laws expiring and being resurrected doesn’t amount to a hill of CDs.

The NSA was contacted with a query about the GB listening post, as was British intelligence. A GCHQ  spokesperson  stated:Our response is that we do not comment on intelligence matters.” The NSA also declined to comment.

Janet C. Phelan, investigative journalist and human rights defender that has traveled pretty extensively over the Asian region, an author of a tell-all book EXILE, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.

How to support the whistleblowers June 1-7

By David Swanson
Posted on War is a Crime, May 26, 2015

Excerpt:

What’s needed is a global movement that tells whistleblowers and potential whistleblowers that we’ve got their backs, that we will spread awareness far and wide of what they have risked their necks to reveal, that we will celebrate and honor their courage, and that we will do everything in our power to defend them against government retribution and misguided public condemnation.

So, here’s the plan. During the week of June 1-7, all over the world, we stand up for truth by joining in the events and using the resources created at StandUpForTruth.org. The organizations and individuals behind this plan include ExposeFacts, Freedom of the Press Foundation, International Modern Media Institute, Networkers SouthNorth, RootsAction.org, and Daniel Ellsberg.

People around the world are being invited, individually or as a group, to participate in any of a series of public webcasts / phone calls with whistleblowers and their supporters. (Click the names for full biographies.)

  •  June 2 — Former State Dept. official Matthew Hoh and author and RootsAction campaigner David Swanson will be on a webcast / phone call at 9 pm ET (Eastern Time, GMT -5).
  • June 3 — Journalist, activist, and lawyer Trevor Timm and investigative journalist Tim Shorrock will answer your questions at 9 pm ET.
  • June 4 — Director of media for the Institute for Public Accuracy Sam Husseini and author and law professor Marjorie Cohn will speak at 9 pm ET.
  • June 5 — NSA whistleblower William Binney and NSA whistleblower Kirk Wiebe will take your questions and tell their stories at 8 pm ET.
  • June 5 — Media critic and RootsAction cofounder Jeff Cohen and author and communications professor Robert McChesney will be up at 9 pm ET for the second call of the night’s doubleheader.
  • June 6 — Journalist Kevin Gosztola and EPA whistleblower Marsha Coleman-Adebayo will be on the final webcast at 5 pm ET.

The webcasts will each last 60 minutes. To listen and type in questions, just point your web browser to http://cast.teletownhall.us/web_client/?id=roots_action_organd turn up your volume. Everyone is encouraged to use the webcast and to type in questions there. If you can’t use a web browser, you can phone in. Just call 1-844-472-8237 (toll-free in U.S.) You can also ask these whistleblowers and truth tellers questions beforehand or during the webcasts by tweeting them to @Roots_Action — You can even start asking questions right now.

You can also catch Bill Binney and Marcy Wheeler live in Chicago on June 2nd, and Binney in Minneapolis/St. Paul on June 3rd, or be part of this amazing artistic creation in Los Angeles on June 6th.

Also check out the events planned for Europe with Thomas Drake, Dan Ellsberg, Jesselyn Radack, Coleen Rowley, and Norman Solomon. They will deliver this petition in Berlin. If you sign it now your name and comment will be part of the presentation.

StandUpForTruth is encouraging everyone to plan your own events, during the first week of June or any other time. Here are some resources, some ideas for what to do:

Here are some ways to get started. Like this FaceBook page. Then add your photo to it holding a piece of paper reading “Stand Up For Truth.” Or retweet this tweet. It all helps to spread the word, which seems like the least we can do.

http://warisacrime.org/content/our-chance-aid-and-encourage-whistleblowers

Senior NATO official claims we’ll be at war by summer

By Joshua Krause
Global Research, May 28, 2015
The Daily Sheeple 25 May 2015

Last week, former NSA intelligence analyst John Schindler posted a rather disturbing tweet. With a statement that one could only assume to be a reference towards Russia, Schindler wrote “Said a senior NATO (non-US) GOFO to me today: “We’ll probably be at war this summer. If we’re lucky it won’t be nuclear.” Let that sink in.”

So who is John Schindler? As a ten-year veteran of the NSA, he was in the news a bit more when Snowden was making frequent headlines. He used to be a professor at the U.S. Naval War College, and is currently a frequent contributor to Business Insider. According to his biography on Business Insider, he used to teach classes on security, strategy, intelligence, and terrorism, and he has “collaborated closely with other government agencies who would probably prefer he didn’t mention them.” It’s safe to say that Schindler probably brushes shoulders with high-ranking officials from time to time, so his tweet should be taken seriously.

It’s frightening to think that members of NATO may actually be preparing for, and expecting a war with Russia this summer, but unfortunately it’s not all that surprising. Given some of the activity we’re seeing around the world, it’s safe to assume that superpowers like the US, Russia, and China, are preparing for something big.  Infowars also reported on Schindler’s tweet, and noted some of the provocative moves that have been going on around the world lately.

Earlier this month NATO launched its biggest ever wargame exercise on Russia’s doorstep. Moscow responded by conducting “provocative” wargames in the Mediterranean Sea in coordination with the Chinese PLA, the first ever naval drill involving both superpowers.

NATO powers are also taking part in one of Europe’s largest ever fighter jet drills from today, with the United States, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Finland, Norway and Sweden all involved in the 12 day exercise.

Tensions are also building between the U.S. and China, with The Global Times, a state media outlet owned by the ruling Communist Party, today warning that “war is inevitable” if Washington doesn’t halt its demands that Beijing stop building artificial islands in the South China Sea.

“If the United States’ bottom line is that China has to halt its activities, then a U.S.-China war is inevitable in the South China Sea,” the newspaper said. “The intensity of the conflict will be higher than what people usually think of as ‘friction’.”

Last week, CNN revealed how China’s Navy has repeatedly issued warnings to U.S. surveillance planes flying over the South China Sea.

While these sorts of warnings come and go all the time, that in and of itself is kind of scary. The fact that we now live in a world where high-ranking officials just assume nuclear war is right around the corner, means we should be very concerned. Wars rarely, if ever, happen out of the blue. There are always quiet rumors of wars before the real deal comes to pass.

Contributed by Joshua Krause of The Daily Sheeple.

Joshua Krause is a reporter, writer and researcher at The Daily Sheeple. He was born and raised in the Bay Area and is a freelance writer and author. You can follow Joshua’s reports at Facebook or on his personal Twitter. Joshua’s website is Strange Danger .

http://www.globalresearch.ca/senior-nato-official-claims-well-be-at-war-by-summer/5452220

 

Massive bust of Snowden installed on war monument

From ANIMAL, April 6, 2015

THERE’S A MASSIVE, ILLICIT BUST OF EDWARD SNOWDEN STUCK TO A WAR MONUMENT IN BROOKLYN

By  | April 6, 2015 – 11:03AM

While most people slept, a trio of artists and some helpers installed a bust of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in Brooklyn on Monday morning. The group, which allowed ANIMAL to exclusively document the installation on the condition that we hide their identities, hauled the 100-pound sculpture into Fort Greene Park and up its hilly terrain just before dawn. They fused it to part of the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument, a memorial to Revolutionary War soldiers. As of press time, the sculpture was still there. UPDATE: Parks Department put a tarp over the bust and removed it this afternoon.

The idea for the Snowden tribute was conceived about a year ago by two New York City-based artists with a history of pulling off notable public interventions. They linked up with a renowned sculptor on the West Coast who was sympathetic to their cause.

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The artists admit that Snowden probably wouldn’t approve of the project, since he never wanted the leaks to be about him, but they hope he’d understand why they did it. In a statement about the project, which they have entitled, “Prison Ship Martyrs Monument 2.0,” they wrote:

Fort Greene’s Prison Ship Martyrs Monument is a memorial to American POWs who lost their lives during the Revolutionary War. We have updated this monument to highlight those who sacrifice their safety in the fight against modern-day tyrannies. It would be a dishonor to those memorialized here to not laud those who protect the ideals they fought for, as Edward Snowden has by bringing the NSA’s 4th-Amendment-violating surveillance programs to light. All too often, figures who strive to uphold these ideals have been cast as criminals rather than in bronze.

Our goal is to bring a renewed vitality to the space and prompt even more visitors to ponder the sacrifices made for their freedoms. We hope this inspires them to reflect upon the responsibility we all bear to ensure our liberties exist long into the future.

In 2013, the Snowden leaks exposed an expansive, covert surveillance program that spied on U.S. citizens, residents and even persons abroad, the likes of which the world had never before seen. While activists and a number of journalists have hailed Snowden as a hero, conservatives and politicians have called him a “coward” and a “traitor.” Snowden sought asylum in Moscow, where he remains in exile.

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The artists said they’re dismayed that despite the trove of damning evidence the leaks exposed, the public has largely moved on from the story and no substantial actions have been taken against the NSA. “There’s a media landscape that has painted him as a criminal,” said one of the two New York artists. “You need something theatrical and large to counterbalance the Fox News-iness of the texture of the conversation out there.” At first, the pair thought about making a full-size statue of the former NSA contractor, but were later talked down from that idea by the sculptor. He recommended a bust.

Measuring 4-feet tall, Snowden’s head was placed atop one of the four columns that lie at the monument’s edge, above the eagles. The bust is made of hydrocal, a high quality sculpting material that’s commonly used in places like Las Vegas to create Roman-looking things, castles and other mega props casinos incorporate into their facades. Seeing it up close, you could never tell that you were looking at a plaster-like substance. In fact, over a dozen people walking their dogs passed by the new bust on Monday morning without noticing the unsanctioned piece. Both the color and design of the bust expertly matches the existing sculptures there, from its bronze patina finish to Snowden’s hair — which mimics the texture of the feather on the eagle. The artists also added letters spelling out Snowden’s name in an official-looking font befitting of a monument.

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While it was very important that the piece be more than just a prop or paper mache effigy, the artists didn’t want to damage the surface that the bust would be bound to, either. After some debate, they decided on an adhesive that would firmly hold the head in place, yet could be removed without marring the monument.

The materials needed to create a bust of this type cost thousands of dollars, and the pair ponied up the cash. It then took a little over six months to sculpt, mold, cast and ship to New York. Had the sculptor charged market rates, he said it would have cost tens of thousands of dollars. “The amount of work that goes into this kind of stuff, it’s easily a 30 grand project,” said the 30-something sculptor. “If it were bronze, it could be a $100,000 piece of artwork, maybe more.”

The artists are fully aware of the bust’s inevitable destruction and have left themselves a few options, including one that involves deploying an army of mini-Snowden heads. “We have a full size mold that can be poured again and its been 3D rendered, so we have the ability to print smaller ones at scale,” they said.
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(Video/Photos: Aymann Ismail/ANIMALNewYork)
Follow-up article
By Prachi Gupta
April 7, 2015

Inspired by the Edward Snowden bust that guerrilla artists erected atop a Brooklyn war monument on Monday morning, a different group of artists returned to the site hours after officials dismantled the illegal statue. They deployed the Illuminator to project an eerie blue image over the column where the 100-pound bust had stood earlier.

Fuck the Police (State): Artists Protest Removal of Edward Snowden Sculpture With Ghostly Projection

In a statement, the Illuminator’s Kyle Depew wrote via email:

Inspired by the actions of these anonymous artists, The Illuminator Art Collective recreated the intervention ephemerally by projecting an image of the sculpture into a cloud of smoke. Our feeling is that while the State may remove any material artifacts that speak in defiance against incumbent authoritarianism, the acts of resistance remain in the public consciousness. And it is in sharing that act of defiance that hope resides.

The Illuminator was borne out of Occupy Wall Street to shed a literal light on the issues that plague the 99%. The audio and video projection system sits in a van, along with a selection of informative reading materials. They recently collaborated with MoveOn.org in Washington D.C. to shed light on the U.S.’s nuclear discussions with Iran.

A group of activists and anonymous artists first set up the Snowden bust at Fort Greene Park’s Prison Ship Martyrs Monument on Monday to call attention to the NSA’s surveillance practices and to question what it means to be a hero in the 21st century. “We have updated this monument to highlight those who sacrifice their safety in the fight against modern-day tyrannies,” they wrote in a statement provided to ANIMAL. “It would be a dishonor to those memorialized here to not laud those who protect the ideals they fought for, as Edward Snowden has by bringing the NSA’s 4th-Amendment-violating surveillance programs to light. All too often, figures who strive to uphold these ideals have been cast as criminals rather than in bronze.”

Parks Department employees covered the bust with a tarp Monday morning, and by midday, it had been removed and taken to the 88th precinct. The NYPD is investigating the incident.

Huge spy program exposed: NSA has hidden software in hard drives around the world

From Business Insider, February 16, 2015
by Joseph Menn, Reuters

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – The U.S. National Security Agency has figured out how to hide spying software deep within hard drives made by Western Digital, Seagate, Toshiba, and other top manufacturers, giving the agency the means to eavesdrop on the majority of the world’s computers, according to cyber researchers and former operatives.

That long-sought and closely guarded ability was part of a cluster of spying programs discovered by Kaspersky Lab, the Moscow-based security software maker that has exposed a series of Western cyberespionage operations.

Kaspersky said it found personal computers in 30 countries infected with one or more of the spying programs, with the most infections seen in Iran, followed by Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Mali, Syria, Yemen, and Algeria. The targets included government and military institutions, telecommunication companies, banks, energy companies, nuclear researchers, media, and Islamic activists, Kaspersky said.

The firm declined to publicly name the country behind the spying campaign, but said it was closely linked to Stuxnet, the NSA-led cyberweapon that was used to attack Iran’s uranium enrichment facility. The NSA is the agency responsible for gathering electronic intelligence on behalf of the United States.

A former NSA employee told Reuters that Kaspersky’s analysis was correct, and that people still in the intelligence agency valued these spying programs as highly as Stuxnet. Another former intelligence operative confirmed that the NSA had developed the prized technique of concealing spyware in hard drives, but said he did not know which spy efforts relied on it.

NSA spokeswoman Vanee Vines declined to comment. This could be as big as the Stuxnet attack on an Iranian nuclear power plant (picture).

Kaspersky published the technical details of its research on Monday, which should help infected institutions detect the spying programs, some of which trace back as far as 2001.

The disclosure could further hurt the NSA’s surveillance abilities, already damaged by massive leaks by former contractor Edward Snowden. Snowden’s revelations have hurt the United States’ relations with some allies and slowed the sales of U.S. technology products abroad.

The exposure of these new spying tools could lead to greater backlash against Western technology, particularly in countries such as China, which is already drafting regulations that would require most bank technology suppliers to proffer copies of their software code for inspection.

Peter Swire, one of five members of U.S. President Barack Obama’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technology, said the Kaspersky report showed that it is essential for the country to consider the possible impact on trade and diplomatic relations before deciding to use its knowledge of software flaws for intelligence gathering.

“There can be serious negative effects on other U.S. interests,” Swire said.

TECHNOLOGICAL BREAKTHROUGH

According to Kaspersky, the spies made a technological breakthrough by figuring out how to lodge malicious software in the obscure code called firmware that launches every time a computer is turned on.

Disk drive firmware is viewed by spies and cybersecurity experts as the second-most valuable real estate on a PC for a hacker, second only to the BIOS code invoked automatically as a computer boots up.

“The hardware will be able to infect the computer over and over,” lead Kaspersky researcher Costin Raiu said in an interview.

Though the leaders of the still-active espionage campaign could have taken control of thousands of PCs, giving them the ability to steal files or eavesdrop on anything they wanted, the spies were selective and only established full remote control over machines belonging to the most desirable foreign targets, according to Raiu. He said Kaspersky found only a few especially high-value computers with the hard-drive infections.

Kaspersky’s reconstructions of the spying programs show that they could work in disk drives sold by more than a dozen companies, comprising essentially the entire market. They include Western Digital, Seagate, Toshiba, IBM, Micron, and Samsung.

Western Digital, Seagate and Micron said they had no knowledge of these spying programs. Toshiba and Samsung declined to comment. IBM did not respond to requests for comment.

How much did companies like IBM know?

GETTING THE SOURCE CODE

Raiu said the authors of the spying programs must have had access to the proprietary source code that directs the actions of the hard drives. That code can serve as a roadmap to vulnerabilities, allowing those who study it to launch attacks much more easily.

“There is zero chance that someone could rewrite the [hard drive] operating system using public information,” Raiu said.

Concerns about access to source code flared after a series of high-profile cyberattacks on Google Inc and other U.S. companies in 2009 that were blamed on China. Investigators have said they found evidence that the hackers gained access to source code from several big U.S. tech and defense companies.

It is not clear how the NSA may have obtained the hard drives’ source code. Western Digital spokesman Steve Shattuck said the company “has not provided its source code to government agencies.” The other hard drive makers would not say if they had shared their source code with the NSA.

Seagate spokesman Clive Over said it has “secure measures to prevent tampering or reverse engineering of its firmware and other technologies.” Micron spokesman Daniel Francisco said the company took the security of its products seriously and “we are not aware of any instances of foreign code.”

According to former intelligence operatives, the NSA has multiple ways of obtaining source code from tech companies, including asking directly and posing as a software developer. If a company wants to sell products to the Pentagon or another sensitive U.S. agency, the government can request a security audit to make sure the source code is safe.

“They don’t admit it, but they do say, ‘We’re going to do an evaluation, we need the source code,'” said Vincent Liu, a partner at security consulting firm Bishop Fox and former NSA analyst. “It’s usually the NSA doing the evaluation, and it’s a pretty small leap to say they’re going to keep that source code.”

Kaspersky called the authors of the spying program “the Equation group,” named after their embrace of complex encryption formulas.

The group used a variety of means to spread other spying programs, such as by compromising jihadist websites, infecting USB sticks and CDs, and developing a self-spreading computer worm called Fanny, Kaspersky said.

Fanny was like Stuxnet in that it exploited two of the same undisclosed software flaws, known as “zero days,” which strongly suggested collaboration by the authors, Raiu said. He added that it was “quite possible” that the Equation group used Fanny to scout out targets for Stuxnet in Iran and spread the virus.

(Reporting by Joseph Menn; Editing by Tiffany Wu and Business Insider)

This article originally appeared at Reuters. Copyright 2015.

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