News of Massive NSA Surveillance Sparks Outrage

Shahid Buttar, Bill of Rights Defense Committee, spoke to Tyler Bass at In These Times Thursday

Shahid Buttar, Bill of Rights Defense Committee executive director, spoke to Tyler Bass at In These Times Thursday.

The Guardian has obtained a top-secret ruling by a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court ordering Verizon to turn over call records for millions of Americans to the FBI and the National Security Agency for a three-month period ending in mid-July. This revelation, which has sparked outrage and garnered major mainstream media attention, not only adds weight to alarms long raised by legislators and civil liberties advocates, but has also raised ire even in the most stalwart defenders of the Patriot Act—the 2001 law that enables this kind of covert court ruling and mass surveillance.

Shahid Buttar, executive director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, founded 12 years ago to fight the Patriot Act, expressed dismay that the surveillance of millions of Americans had been OK’ed. He told In These Times by phone, “The rule of law requires transparency. And a secret court [such as a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court] is not a court at all. Its decision-making is not judicial or ‘jurisprudencial’ in any meaningful sense of the word. It is ultimately political.”

Read more at In These Times.

Anonymous infiltrates PRISM, intercepts Obama’s Skype

An Anonymous spokesperson claimed to have hacked Obama's Skype by gaining access to PRISM

An Anonymous spokesperson claimed to have hacked Obama’s Skype by gaining access to PRISM

INTERNET — Anonymous hackers claimed to have infiltrated PRISM’s network infrastructure after gaining access to the graphical user interface which was intended only for use by federal agents in cases of terrorism. Because the PRISM system has access to a log of all Internet phone calls (voIP via Skype, Google, etc.) and video chats, Anonymous vigilante intelligence researchers quickly unearthed evidence of high-level collusion between corporate executives and government officials. “We have access to President Obama’s Skype,” said a spokesperson for Anonymous, “and we’re only afraid it’s too absurd to be true.”

Anonymous will not comment on details of the leak until the information has been confirmed and verified. This time, Anonymous is seeking input from government sources so that their final release will be seen by the public as an even-handed nonpartisan attempt at uncovering the truth. “We want to know the government’s point of view simply because it will help us build a more complete view of what’s really going on. Even clever lies, denials, and evasion help us in our pursuit of truth.  We won’t release the information until we’ve run it all over with several officials and received a frank appraisal of its context.”

President Obama has scheduled a press conference for Monday, and the White House has already released a statement condemning Anonymous. “The sad irony is that PRISM doesn’t even exist, but because of hacks like these we need something like it,” said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. “We will not cooperate with terrorists on any level, and we refuse to comment on illegally obtained confidential information.”

Despite such polemic rhetoric, the general consensus of Anonymous is that truth is still of the utmost importance. “The White House can’t order all 20 million of its employees around. Someone will always talk to us, and help us understand the truth behind these troubling but somewhat ambiguous conversations and other communications. All your PRISM are belong to us, and it’s going to be this way for as long as something like PRISM exists.”

Interview with a Fed

One fine morning several weeks ago, I received a phone call from the local FBI office requesting an interview about Barrett Brown, former spokesperson for the Anonymous hacking collective. I told the agent, on the phone, that I didn’t really have any useful information, but he still wanted to talk to me. I didn’t see the harm in it, so I agreed to meet him that afternoon at a nearby coffee shop. For the rest of the day I grew increasingly nervous about the meeting as new and scarier possibilities came into my mind, despite their improbability. Was this guy a legitimate FBI agent, or was he something else? Did he intend to harm me, or possibly kill me?

I arrived to the coffee place a few minutes early and browsed through a selection of used books which included Bruce Sterling’s Hacker Crackdown — on sale for ten cents. Nearly immediately, I was accosted by a gregarious teenage girl, who complimented my beard and compared me to a popular musician I had never heard of. She was blonde, cute, and bubbly, but just underneath the surface lurked high culture. For the next few minutes we talked about Nietzsche and Goethe, until I saw the FBI agent staring at me from the corner of my eye. I said to the girl something like, “I’m sorry. I’m here to meet an FBI agent and talk to him about some shit.” She did not ask why, but instead exclaimed, loudly, “I hope he doesn’t drag you away and poison you!” This bizarre exchange, to which I have done little justice, was surely within earshot of the agent, and I still wonder whether it was some insidious kind of psychological manipulation. I am sure it was even stranger from the point of view of the agent.

He sat at a small table with a little pile of papers, and I joined him. On the papers were questions for me and information about me. I saw my driver’s license photo in full color for the first time, but with a distorted aspect ratio which widened my face. His manner was gentle, as you’d expect from a computer guy, and he wore an impeccable grey suit with fancy wingtip shoes. Because he alluded to a position with national security implications, that is all the description I will provide. Despite warning me that he was not an expert on Anonymous, he came across as generally well-informed, if not hopelessly misled on a few specifics. His praise for my writing was effusive and embarrassing, so much so that he apologized, and I could not help but glance at the girl, who now sat with her friends just a table away, as circuit breakers in my brain began to blow. What does she think of me, sitting here, getting this kind of incredible praise from an FBI agent? Surely she must be hearing this shit, and certainly she must not believe any of it. This boiling cauldron of ego soup was all the hotter for the chilling anxiety I had felt leading up to it. Yet, for all that, I did not detect a hint of inauthenticity in the agent’s manner, and, in fact, I saw genuine disappointment after a joke he told bombed because of my abnormally serious demeanor.

The business of the interview, the source of my anxiety, turned out to be a bit of a sad joke and far less disconcerting than all the continuous praise. Several questions, for instance, hinged on a case of mistaken identity. Because I use the pseudonym Kilgore Trout and had been somewhat of a nemesis to Barrett Brown, the FBI had apparently connected me with another Kilgore Trout who was, several years before I knew of Brown, also at odds with Brown. Both Brown and the other Trout had participated on the Little Green Footballs web site, some despicable hole of fringe punditry, but I knew very little about it. The agent claimed Brown had tasked a hacker with cracking Little Green Footballs — a fairly explosive piece of information. Evidence of Brown giving jobs to hackers has been alluded to in many stories about LulzSec, but no one has been sure of Brown’s level of involvement. If it was true he tasked someone with hacking Little Green Footballs, then his involvement with LulzSec could have possibly been pivotal. It was shocking, but of course I knew nothing that could be of help in any case. With grave seriousness which was not present in any other part of the conversation, he asked something like, “You once wrote that Barrett Brown worked for China or Russia. Is this true?” Like his joke that bombed earlier, my mind was too messed up to laugh at the right cue, and I did my best to seriously explain the joke. While anything is possible, I can’t get over the certainty that the FBI, in general, is seriously convincedin Anonymous and its possible connections to foreign power. It brings to mind reports out of Iranian state-owned media that attacks by Anonymous are orchestrated by the American government.

It’s nice to be reminded that law enforcement agents are real people, but it’s also a bit disturbing — because they’re real people. Anons, especially, tend to imagine law enforcement as a monolithic edifice which sees all and acts like a hatefully inhuman machine in exacting draconian punishments for the smallest infractions. Maybe that likeness is accurate enough in a few cases, but at the same time it’s really humans we’re talking about — prone to the same fear, misinterpretation, misinformation, and confusion as the rest of us.

NSA Surveillance Network shows Emergent Intelligence

Nuclear powered reaper drone

For to this fearful mind, surely, all our science and art are but chemical processes signifying nothing of our subjective state.

SINGULARITY, Tex. — Wednesday night, it was revealed that the NSA has nearly achieved a limited omniscient point of view over the planet Earth through extra-constitutional top-secret wiretapping of all major communications hubs. The Obama administration responded Thursday morning, defending this capability as necessary in America’s ongoing struggle against terrorists. Earlier this year, a leaked document revealed the omnipotence of the Pentagon, which has been granted the power to kill any human being in any part of the globe, effectively giving the Military Industrial Complex de facto sovereignty over the planet.

Dr. Angstrom H. Troubador, Emergence Theorist, has declared that the conjunction of near-omniscience and near-omnipotence in such an entity heralds the coming of the so-called Singularity.

“Because of our limited point of view and our arrogance,” he said, via taped phone conversation,  “we are like brain cells that believe they can understand the whole brain. The Singularity has passed by unnoticed even by those who have long predicted it. It was the emergence of such large ‘wholes’ as nations and corporations which allowed for the formation of this planetary ‘whole’. This is much bigger than overgrown and corrupt government practices, or mere collusion with corporations. These large powers have coalesced into a singular entity, which not only strides the planet with unmitigated force, but also sees, or can see, a great body of sense data that has very few practical limits. Perhaps it cannot recognize its Self, yet it has found cohesion — cohesion borne out of a single-minded fear of terrorism. Few individuals seem to be able to come to grips with the astonishing implications, for on the human level such power seems monstrous. Have we invented a near-God, which we are now obliged to worship at the threat of instant death by drone? Will we now look back at Atheism and Rationalism as an innocent age before the birth of such a mind as this? For to this mind, surely, all our science and art are but chemical processes signifying nothing of our subjective state.”

 

Amanda Bynes to star in porn movie with Ron Jeremy

amandashow

Nickelodeon child actress Amanda Bynes to star in porn film with Ron Jeremy.

HOLLYWOOD — Anonymous sources in the Porn Industry have revealed plans for a porn movie starring Amanda Bynes and Ron Jeremy, based off of her hit Nickelodeon kids’ show, The Amanda Show. Sources say Peter North is directing “The Amanda Peep Show,” in which Amanda Bynes will act out several skits from her Nickelodeon career while being nailed by Ron Jeremy.

Parts of the script, leaked by the Anonymous source, describe Bynes double-inserting a beer bottle and bong in various scenes. Howard Stern has been cast in a cameo role in which he will acoustically excite Bynes to the final orgasm as both director Peter North and co-star Ron Jeremy secure the money shot.

Letter to Loretto: Kiriakou in The Hole

water-boarding-a-1[Redacted]

Monday, June 3, 2013

JOHN KIRIAKOU
79637-083
P.O. Box 1000, FCI Loretto
Loretto, PA 15940

Mr. John Kiriakou:
After catching the publication of one of your letters on Firedoglake, and possessing a great professional investment in the controversies surrounding whistleblowing, I thought I would take some time to reach out to you, a prisoner of conscience, in order to better understand not only the personal toll your whistleblowing has taken but also any ruminations you might be able to offer on some puzzling legal questions. I am including a copy of a recent article I contributed to In These Times magazine regarding the relationship between national security and civil liberties. I have a few questions. I would appreciate your please setting me straight should my facts be otherwise.
In early 2009 I had the opportunity to hear “Matthew Alexander” – the pseudonym of a former Air Force interrogator in Iraq with which you are no doubt familiar – speak at an American University forum and offer his opinion that waterboarding was a poor security choice because of its, he purported, ineffectiveness. Having perused your book and caught your Democracy Now! interview, I found your openness to the concept that waterboarding, torture, is effective, albeit amoral, one of the most striking facets of your perspective. Considering the resentment that techniques like waterboarding inspire from the international community, why do you suppose that individuals, such as “Alexander,” consider (short-term) effectiveness such an important part of the argument around waterboarding?
Recently, a friend pointed out to me Executive Order 13526, which you may recall, iterates that “[i]n no case shall information be classified, continue to be maintained as classified … in order to … conceal violations of law.” If the Obama administration chose to discontinue waterboarding, specifically due to it being a violation of treaty obligations, in what sense, if any, was the information you relayed in your ABC interview, daresay your book, functionally a violation of the law in the eyes of the next administration?
From my review of your plight, it would appear that your and your family suffer, in part, due to a journalist, in whom you placed your trust, having revealed Guantanamo treatment information to detainee defense attorneys. Do you in some sense now blame that journalist for any kind of ethical breach—even if that leak to defense attorneys were to help expedite justice for the indefinitely held?
Also, I was curious as to your opinion on the meaning of extant whistleblower protections, given that what constitutes “wrongdoing” by authorities, higher-ups inherently bears some degree of subjectivity. What is conscience, if not sublimely subjective?
I hope you are well. If you wish, in replying, feel free to advise me on the nature of your treatment and its level of fairness, as you wait out what I’m sure will be arduous months. Thank you.

Sincerely,

[Redacted]

Russia Today slammed with DDoS attack

Russia Today has been hacked, leading some to believe Soviet influence may once again be on the rise.

Russia Today has been hacked, leading some to believe Soviet influence may once again be on the rise.

MOSCOW — Russia Today, the state-owned media outlet that recently aired a television program hosted by Julian Assange, was driven offline Monday morning by an unprecedented cyberassault.

Not much is known about the attack, but several theories have been put forward by experts in the field, and some anti-WikiLeaks hackers have taken credit without providing credible proof.

Dr. Angstrom H. Troubador, professor of history at Cambridge and expert on geopolitics, said that large-scale cyberattacks like these are generally outside of the scope of individual actors.

“There is little doubt in my mind that a sophisticated organization was involved in this attack,” he said via email.

Dr. Troubador refused to speculate on possible suspect organizations, but commenters on social media were abuzz with rumor.

A recent article put out by the Associated Press and widely syndicated by thousands of publications, including Russia Today, brought huge publicity to organized crime taking place on the antiquated Soviet Union domain name extension. Cybercriminals in Russia and Eastern Europe have long been known for their sophistication and integration with traditional organized crime in the region, and many have ties with former Soviet organizations, which are at odds with Russia Today.

Meanwhile, Russia Today has brought publicity to civil disturbances in Turkey, leading many to believe the attack was carried out by militant Islamist groups who have quickly integrated cyberattacks into their arsenal of terror and want to heighten the drama of what they believe is part of the Islamic Revolution. Yet others believe the Turkish government itself has deployed this cyberattack in order to dispel the riots plaguing their cities.

Because of the huge attention given to WikiLeaks, the Occupy movement, and Anonymous by Russia Today, still others believe some operative from the United States Government may have deployed this devastating attack. It was recently revealed that almost all of America’s cyberwar capabilities are controlled by private contractors who often act far outside of the boundaries of law.

#GropeCrew “trolls” A-Kon Anime Convention

#GropeCrew has highlighted the tense and predatory sexual atmosphere at Nerd Conventions.

#GropeCrew has highlighted the tense and predatory sexual atmosphere at Nerd Conventions.

DALLAS — A group of dedicated trolls have taken to the Twitter hashtag #GropeCrew, expressing their desire to fondle women in skimpy anime costumes at the A-Kon anime convention. Sexual harassment and assault at similar conventions has been a topic of recent outrage and discussion, and some conventions like DEF CON have gone as far as issuing “yellow cards” as warnings to harassers.

These types of conventions are a haunting ground of sex-deprived nerds, who swarm in the thousands to meet so-called “booth babes,” or hypersexualized women in costumes who inhabit the dangerous intersection between childish sexual fantasies and anime fandom. Groping, harassment and even sexual assault are extremely common at conventions like A-Kon; and despite the tongue-in-cheek tone of #GropeCrew, the targeting of specific booth babes has hit a raw nerve.

“I’m tired of being eye-raped by teenage nerds every time I dress up as a sexy cartoon character,” said one anonymous booth babe. “I’m thinking of sitting out the next convention. This year has been a paranoid nightmare since the Grope Crew tweeted my picture.”

Supporters of the #GropeCrew say that they’re merely highlighting a problem that needs to be addressed, while most others seem to believe the atmosphere of sexual conflict at the A-Kon convention has only become more negatively charged because of their antics.

Intelligent Life Discovered in Earth’s Mantle

CTHONOS, Pelopponesia — On the border of the Earth’s mantle and crust, NASA astrobiologists have discovered a civilization of beings that challenge both our conception of ‘life’ and of ‘intelligence.’ These beings, which defy all taxonomy, are fist-sized nodes of rapidly regenerating proteins that have only been observed in their natural environment, deep in the Earth’s crust. Each fist-sized “nodian,” as these creatures have been dubbed, appears to be as complex as the human brain at any given moment but changes its morphology so rapidly that scientists believe “nodians” are most likely far more complex.

The conditions where “nodians” survive are believed to be very common, and Dr. Angstrom H. Troubador, leader of the Florida State University expedition, explained, “There is no doubt that the “nodians” are displaying signs of culture and specialization. By a very conservative estimate, their should be at least 50 billion “nodian” individuals, and we would be foolish to forget the numerous sightings of UFOs entering and exiting volcanoes, as well as USOs, which may enter and exit the crust through fissures in the sea floor.”

Actual Video Evidence of “Nodians” Entering and Exiting the Earth’s Crust:

Yet Again UFO Filmed, While Entering… by ufoblogger

Police with Stun Batons Calm 3,000 Selfish Nike Workers Seeking “Fair Pay”

Underpaid Labor - Just Do ItPHNOM PENH, Cambodia - At least 23 slave laborers were disciplined with cattle prods Monday when Cambodian police were called in to end a pay protest at a Nike sweatshop.

Police with riot gear were deployed to move about 3,000 female workers who had blocked a road leading to the factory.

Nike, along with corporations such as H&M, Walmart and Forever 21, have been criticized for moving plant locations when the cost of local exploitation became too high for shrewd and careful shareholders.

Plants might leave a country because its weak government cannot withstand the social pressures of a nationwide call for minimum wage hikes. When a worker stands to make $88 per month making thousands of pairs of $100 Nikes per day, and the government is no longer able to accept bribes from the corporations to halt social progress, the factories move out.

Look, I know you news writers wanna help, but these people aren’t like you and me. They’re used to being treated like shit.

“These dumbass slaves who think they can squeeze more than they deserve out of their corporate masters are gonna be sorry once they finally run ‘em out of here,” said Raleigh Saker, Lebal Drocer spokesperson. “Who’s gonna feed ya gruel then?  Fuckin’ savages.” Saker admitted he questions why his company chose Cambodia in the first place: “Look, they don’t even wear shoes. You think they know anything about sewing them?”

Eighty-eight dollars, Saker said, is “absurdly high” for people living in corrugated sheet metal housing with dirt floors.

“It’s lavish,” he said. “They won’t know what to do with all that money. They might could even hurt themselves. It’s for their own good, really.”

In other news, a ceiling collapsed on several Cambodian workers this month, killing two of them like rats crushed by a rotting ship cabin floor. They were putting together a high-quality pair of Asics running shoes. Asics allow you to run fast, trampling human rights with ease.

Authorities declined to comment on the clash, saying they were still counting bribe money. A press release stated the stack of money was “so large” they were considering hiring sweatshop labor to help count the currency, which “just kept coming in.”