bamford says, stop blaming russia

The world’s best cyber-army doesn’t belong to Russia
James Bamford, Reuters, Aug 5 2016

Bluffdale, about 25 miles south of Salt Lake City. (Photo: Jim Urquhart, Reuters)

National attention is focused on Russian eavesdroppers’ possible targeting of Pindosi presidential candidates and the DNC. Yet leaked top-secret NSA documents show that the Obama administration has long been involved in major bugging operations against the election campaigns and the presidents of even its closest allies vassals. Pindostan is by far the world’s most aggressive nation when it comes to cyber-spying and cyber-warfare. The NSA has been eavesdropping on foreign cities, politicians, elections and entire countries since it first turned on its receivers in 1952. Just as other countries, including Russia, attempt to do to it. What is new is a country leaking the intercepts back to the public of the target nation through a middle-person. There is a strange irony in this. Russia, if it is actually involved in the hacking of the computers of the DNC, could be attempting to influence a Pindo election by leaking to the sheeple the falsehoods of their leaders. This is a tactic Washington used against the Soviet Union and other countries during the Cold War. In the 1950s, for example, Pres H Truman created the Campaign of Truth to reveal to the Russian people the “Big Lies” of their government. Washington had often discovered these lies through eavesdropping and other espionage.

Today, Pindostan has morphed from a Cold War, and in some cases a hot war, into a cyber-war, with computer coding replacing bullets and bombs. Yet the Pindo sheeple manages to be “shocked! shocked!!” that a foreign country would attempt to conduct cyber-espionage on Pindostan. NSA operations have, for example, recently delved into elections in Mexico, targeting its last presidential campaign. According to a top-secret PowerPoint presentation leaked by former NSA contract employee Edward Snowden, the operation involved a “surge effort against one of Mexico’s leading presidential candidates, Enrique Peña Nieto, and nine of his close associates.” Peña won that election and is now Mexico’s president. The NSA identified Peña’s cellphone and those of his associates using advanced software that can filter out specific phones from the swarm around the candidate. These lines were then targeted. The technology, one NSA analyst noted, “might find a needle in a haystack.” The analyst described it as “a repeatable and efficient” process. The eavesdroppers also succeeded in intercepting 85,489 text messages, a Der Spiegel article noted. Another NSA operation, begun in May 2010 and codenamed FLATLIQUID, targeted Pena’s predecessor, Pres Felipe Calderon. The NSA, the documents revealed, was able “to gain first-ever access to President Felipe Calderon’s public email account.”

At the same time, members of a highly secret joint NSA/CIA organization, called the Special Collection Service, are based in the embassy in Mexico City and other embassies around the world. It targets local government communications, as well as foreign embassies nearby. For Mexico, additional eavesdropping, and much of the analysis, is conducted by NSA Texas, a large listening post in San Antonio that focuses on the Caribbean, Central America and South America. Unlike the Defense Dept’s Pentagon, the headquarters of the cyber-spies fills an entire secret city. Located in Fort Meade, Maryland, halfway between Washington and Baltimore, NSA’s headquarters consists of scores of heavily guarded buildings. The site even boasts its own police force and post office. nd it is about to grow considerably bigger, now that the NSA cyber-spies have merged with the cyber-warriors of CYBERCOM, which controls its own Cyber Army, Cyber Navy, Cyber Air Force and Cyber Marine Corps, all armed with state-of-the-art cyber-weapons. In charge of it all is Adm M Rogers. Now under construction inside NSA’s secret city, CYBERCOM’s new $3.2b headquarters is to include 14 buildings, 11 parking garages and an enormous cyber-brain: a 600,000-square-foot, $896.5m supercomputer facility that will eat up an enormous amount of power, about 60 MW. This is enough electricity to power a city of more than 40,000 homes. In 2014, for a cover story in Wired and a PBS documentary, I spent three days in Moscow with Snowden, whose last NSA job was as a contract cyber-warrior. I was also granted rare access to his archive of documents. Snowden told me:

CYBERCOM itself has always been branded in a sort of misleading way from its very inception. It’s an attack agency. It’s all about computer-network attack and computer-network exploitation at CYBERCOM.

The idea is to turn the Internet from a worldwide web of information into a global battlefield for war. says one of the secret NSA documents:

The next major conflict will start in cyberspace.

One key phrase within CYBERCOM documents is “Information Dominance.” The Cyber Navy, for example, calls itself the Information Dominance Corps. The Cyber Army is providing frontline troops with the option of requesting “cyber-fire support” from CYBERCOM, in much the same way it requests air and artillery support. And the Cyber Air Force is pledged to “dominate cyberspace” just as “today we dominate air and space.” Among the tools at their disposal is one called Passionatepolka, designed to “remotely brick network cards.” “Bricking” a computer means destroying it, turning it into a brick. One such situation took place in war-torn Syria in 2012, according to Snowden, when the NSA attempted to remotely and secretly install an “exploit” into the computer system of a major Internet provider. This was expected to provide access to email and other Internet traffic across much of Syria. But something went wrong. Instead, the computers were bricked. It took down the Internet across the country for a period of time. While CYBERCOM executes attacks, the National Security Agency seems more interested in tracking virtually everyone connected to the Internet, according to the documents. Of one top-secret operation, they wrote:

TreasureMap is designed to have a capability for building a near real-time interactive map of the global Internet. Any device, anywhere, all the time.

Another operation, codenamed Turbine, involves secretly placing “millions of implants” in computer systems worldwide for either spying or cyber-attacks. Yet even as the Pindo government continues building robust eavesdropping and attack systems, it looks like there has been far less focus on security at home. One benefit of the cyber-theft of the DNC emails might be that it helps open a public dialogue about the dangerous potential of cyber-warfare. This is long overdue. The possible security problems for the Pindosi presidential election in November are already being discussed. Yet there can never be a useful discussion on the topic if the Obama administration continues to point fingers at other countries without admitting that Washington is engaged heavily in cyber-spying and cyber-warfare. In fact, Pindostan is the only country ever to launch an actual cyberwar, when the Obama administration used a cyber-attack to destroy thousands of centrifuges used for nuclear enrichment in Iran. This was an illegal act of war, according to the Defense Dept’s own definition. Given the news reports that many more DNC emails are waiting to be leaked as the presidential election draws closer, there will likely be many more reminders of the need for a public dialogue on cyber-security and cyber-warfare before November.

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