Humor de espiões

Os funcionários da Agência Nacional de Segurança dos Estados Unidos resolveram partilhar o seu sentido de humor com o mundo e decidiram fazê-lo no dia dos namorados, através do Twitter. E até têm alguma piada.

“Se acabar em Guantanamo, posso viver com isso”

O The Guardian entrevistou Edward Snowden em Moscovo. Este é o resultado final desse trabalho.

Glenn Greenwald, um ano depois das primeiras revelações sobre a NSA

A 1 de Junho de 2013, Glenn Greenwald foi o primeiro jornalista a encontrar-se com Edward Snowden. Conheceram-se em Hong Kong, após meses de trocas de mensagens encriptadas. As primeiras horas foram passadas com o repórter a interrogar o antigo analista da NSA num hotel para perceber quais as motivações para aquela que seria uma das maiores fugas de informação da história. A primeira de um conjunto de notícias que lhe valeram o prémio Pulitzer foi publicada a 5 de Julho. Quase um ano depois, Greenwald está a lançar o livro “Sem Esconderijo” onde conta como tudo aconteceu e, em entrevista à PBS, recordou a importância das revelações que foram feitas.

A excelência do jornalismo mundial

Os prémios Pulitzer foram entregues ontem. Para além do grande galardão de serviço público atribuído ao The Washington Post e ao The Guardian pela série de artigos relacionados com a actividade ilegal da NSA (escritos com base nos documentos entregues por Edward Snowden), o destaque vai também para o Center For Public Integrity que venceu na categoria de jornalismo de investigação. É um marco importante para uma organização jornalística sem fins lucrativos que vive apenas de doações e crowdfunding. A lista completa dos vencedores está aqui.


Leitura para o fim-de-semana: um espião sob pressão

James Clapper é o mais alto responsável dos serviços secretos norte-americanos. Tem sob a sua tutela 16 agências de informações. E é a ele que os jornalistas ligam cada vez que estão prestes a revelar novos dados obtidos a partir dos documentos entregues por Edward Snowden. O The Daily Beast traçou o seu perfil



Spy Chief James Clapper: We Can’t Stop Another Snowden

By Jim Lo Scalzo–pool
Every morning at around 4:30 a.m., James Clapper wakes up and prepares for the worst job in Washington. He is the nation’s top intelligence officer at a time when the intelligence community is derided because it can’t keep its secrets, and loathed because some of the secrets it has tried to hide concern the same American citizens it was charged with protecting. Thanks to rogue contractor Edward Snowden, the machinations of the shadow bureaucracy Clapper heads have for the last eight months been exposed one news story at a time. Clapper is often the guy who has to call newspaper editors to tell them not to print stories that they usually publish anyway.

Clapper, 72, a 51 year veteran in the intelligence community, is also the first director of national intelligence to hold the post when the annual intelligence budgets are being slashed instead of fattened. (Between 2002 and 2010 the annual intelligence community budget doubled from around $40 billion to $80 billion.) Add to this the fact that the legal authority Clapper needs to command the 16 intelligence agencies under his control is murky at best.

And in the last eight months at least, a growing chorus in Congress and the media are calling for him to resign. Meanwhile his friends and colleagues inside the classified government see Clapper as a scapegoat whose reputation has been unfairly rubbished.

But of all the problems Clapper faces, the biggest one is still Edward Snowden, the former systems administrator for the National Security Agency who raided the U.S. government’s classified computer networks for secrets he would later turn over to journalists at the Guardian and the Washington Post. To this day the U.S. government doesn’t know the full extent of what Snowden revealed or whether more documents that have yet to be published in the press have made their way into the hands of Russian or Chinese intelligence agencies.

Snowden pilfered documents from databases designed to share intelligence more broadly within the government. Promoting this integration of secrets is the primary mission of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). The office was created on the recommendation of the 9/11 Commission that faulted the intelligence agencies for jealously guarding information that could have prevented the attacks of that day. Clapper and his predecessors were supposed to help transform the intelligence community’s “need to know” culture to one of “need to share.” Snowden (and Chelsea Manning before him) were able to exploit the reforms promoted by the office Clapper now leads.

Covering nearly an entire wall of the waiting area outside Clapper’s office is a wooden relief sculpture dedicated to the U.S. Constitution. It contains a flag, a rendition of the constitutional assembly, and a copy of the document itself. It also has a plaque that reads, “What is the magic of the Constitution? The magic is how it states: We, the people. For the first time in history, government was about the people, not about the leader.”

And while it’s tempting to call the relief just a decoration for Clapper–especially in light of Snowden’s disclosures of wholesale surveillance on virtually the entire planet–that wouldn’t be entirely fair. However belatedly and reluctantly, he has moved in the last eight months to push the intelligence community to acknowledge many of the activities it has kept from the public since 9/11. Since the Snowden disclosures (and a court order last summer in favor of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by civil liberties groups about domestic surveillance), Clapper has declassified scores of documents related to some of the most sensitive programs he would have once done everything to keep secret. Thedeclassified documents included not only the court warrants to collect the troves of call records, but also a secret court’s findings that the government inadvertently collected tens of thousands of domestic Internet communications that had nothing to do with foreign intelligence targets.

Clapper said that in retrospect it would have been better for the government to acknowledge the collection of call records when the program started after 9/11. Even long-time critics applaud him for that.

“I think he deserves credit for rethinking the calculation over secrecy,” said Steve Aftergood, the director of the Federation of American Scientists’ Project on Government Secrecy. “I think post-Snowden, he quickly realized that declassification and disclosure would serve the interests of the intelligence community.”

Clapper also acknowledges that the very human nature of the bureaucracy he controls virtually insures that more mass disclosures are inevitable. “In the end,” he says, “we will never ever be able to guarantee that there will not be an Edward Snowden or another Chelsea Manning because this is a large enterprise composed of human beings with all their idiosyncrasies.”

Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, concurs: “I do think he recognizes that we are in a new normal after Snowden where we can’t operate with the expectation where nothing will get out,” he said. “If you are going to be dealing with the world where there are these disclosures you have to be more transparent to make the case to the public what you are doing and not doing.”

O artigo completo está aqui. 

A luta contra a vigilância da NSA

Leitura para o fim-de-semana: como a NSA detecta os alvos dos drones

É a primeira história da revista digital The Intercept, dirigida por Glenn Greenwald. E logo em grande: a publicação revela o papel secreto da NSA na identificação dos alvos do programa de assassinatos da administração norte-americana, levado a cabo por drones. Para além dos documentos fornecidos por Edward Snowden, o artigo é escrito com base nas declarações de dois pilotos destes aviões não tripulados.

Foto: Kirsty Wigglesworth/Associated Press.

Foto: Kirsty Wigglesworth/Associated Press.

The NSA’s Secret Role in the U.S. Assassination Program

The National Security Agency is using complex analysis of electronic surveillance, rather than human intelligence, as the primary method to locate targets for lethal drone strikes – an unreliable tactic that results in the deaths of innocent or unidentified people.

According to a former drone operator for the military’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) who also worked with the NSA, the agency often identifies targets based on controversial metadata analysis and cell-phone tracking technologies. Rather than confirming a target’s identity with operatives or informants on the ground, the CIA or the U.S. military then orders a strike based on the activity and location of the mobile phone a person is believed to be using.

The drone operator, who agreed to discuss the top-secret programs on the condition of anonymity, was a member of JSOC’s High Value Targeting task force, which is charged with identifying, capturing or killing terrorist suspects in Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

His account is bolstered by top-secret NSA documents previously provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden. It is also supported by a former drone sensor operator with the U.S. Air Force, Brandon Bryant, who has become an outspoken critic of the lethal operations in which he was directly involved in Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen.

In one tactic, the NSA “geolocates” the SIM card or handset of a suspected terrorist’s mobile phone, enabling the CIA and U.S. military to conduct night raids and drone strikes to kill or capture the individual in possession of the device.

The former JSOC drone operator is adamant that the technology has been responsible for taking out terrorists and networks of people facilitating improvised explosive device attacks against U.S. forces in Afghanistan. But he also states that innocent people have “absolutely” been killed as a result of the NSA’s increasing reliance on the surveillance tactic.

One problem, he explains, is that targets are increasingly aware of the NSA’s reliance on geolocating, and have moved to thwart the tactic. Some have as many as 16 different SIM cards associated with their identity within the High Value Target system. Others, unaware that their mobile phone is being targeted, lend their phone, with the SIM card in it, to friends, children, spouses and family members.

Some top Taliban leaders, knowing of the NSA’s targeting method, have purposely and randomly distributed SIM cards among their units in order to elude their trackers. “They would do things like go to meetings, take all their SIM cards out, put them in a bag, mix them up, and everybody gets a different SIM card when they leave,” the former drone operator says. “That’s how they confuse us.”

As a result, even when the agency correctly identifies and targets a SIM card belonging to a terror suspect, the phone may actually be carried by someone else, who is then killed in a strike. According to the former drone operator, the geolocation cells at the NSA that run the tracking program – known as Geo Cell –sometimes facilitate strikes without knowing whether the individual in possession of a tracked cell phone or SIM card is in fact the intended target of the strike.

“Once the bomb lands or a night raid happens, you know that phone is there,” he says. “But we don’t know who’s behind it, who’s holding it. It’s of course assumed that the phone belongs to a human being who is nefarious and considered an ‘unlawful enemy combatant.’ This is where it gets very shady.”

The former drone operator also says that he personally participated in drone strikes where the identity of the target was known, but other unknown people nearby were also killed.

“They might have been terrorists,” he says. “Or they could have been family members who have nothing to do with the target’s activities.”

What’s more, he adds, the NSA often locates drone targets by analyzing the activity of a SIM card, rather than the actual content of the calls. Based on his experience, he has come to believe that the drone program amounts to little more than death by unreliable metadata.

“People get hung up that there’s a targeted list of people,” he says. “It’s really like we’re targeting a cell phone. We’re not going after people – we’re going after their phones, in the hopes that the person on the other end of that missile is the bad guy.”

The Obama administration has repeatedly insisted that its operations kill terrorists with the utmost precision.

In his speech at the National Defense University last May, President Obama declared that “before any strike is taken, there must be near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured – the highest standard we can set.” He added that, “by narrowly targeting our action against those who want to kill us and not the people they hide among, we are choosing the course of action least likely to result in the loss of innocent life.”

But the increased reliance on phone tracking and other fallible surveillance tactics suggests that the opposite is true. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which uses a conservative methodology to track drone strikes, estimates that at least 273 civilians in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia have been killed by unmanned aerial assaults under the Obama administration. A recent study conducted by a U.S. military adviser found that, during a single year in Afghanistan – where the majority of drone strikes have taken place – unmanned vehicles were 10 times more likely than conventional aircraft to cause civilian casualties.

The NSA declined to respond to questions for this article. Caitlin Hayden, a spokesperson for the National Security Council, also refused to discuss “the type of operational detail that, in our view, should not be published.”

In describing the administration’s policy on targeted killings, Hayden would not say whether strikes are ever ordered without the use of human intelligence. She emphasized that “our assessments are not based on a single piece of information. We gather and scrutinize information from a variety of sources and methods before we draw conclusions.”

Hayden felt free, however, to note the role that human intelligence plays after a deadly strike occurs. “After any use of targeted lethal force, when there are indications that civilian deaths may have occurred, intelligence analysts draw on a large body of information – including human intelligence, signals intelligence, media reports, and surveillance footage – to help us make informed determinations about whether civilians were in fact killed or injured.”

The government does not appear to apply the same standard of care in selecting whom to target for assassination. The former JSOC drone operator estimates that the overwhelming majority of high-value target operations he worked on in Afghanistan relied on signals intelligence, known as SIGINT, based on the NSA’s phone-tracking technology.

“Everything they turned into a kinetic strike or a night raid was almost 90 percent that,” he says. “You could tell, because you’d go back to the mission reports and it will say ‘this mission was triggered by SIGINT,’ which means it was triggered by a geolocation cell.”

In July, the Washington Post relied exclusively on former senior U.S. intelligence officials and anonymous sources to herald the NSA’s claims about its effectiveness at geolocating terror suspects.

Within the NSA, the paper reported, “A motto quickly caught on at Geo Cell: ‘We Track ’Em, You Whack ’Em.’”

But the Post article included virtually no skepticism about the NSA’s claims, and no discussion at all about how the unreliability of the agency’s targeting methods results in the killing of innocents.

In fact, as the former JSOC drone operator recounts, tracking people by metadata and then killing them by SIM card is inherently flawed. The NSA “will develop a pattern,” he says, “where they understand that this is what this person’s voice sounds like, this is who his friends are, this is who his commander is, this is who his subordinates are. And they put them into a matrix. But it’s not always correct. There’s a lot of human error in that.”

The JSOC operator’s account is supported by another insider who was directly involved in the drone program. Brandon Bryant spent six years as a “stick monkey” – a drone sensor operator who controls the “eyes” of the U.S. military’s unmanned aerial vehicles. By the time he left the Air Force in 2011, Bryant’s squadron, which included a small crew of veteran drone operators, had been credited with killing 1,626 “enemies” in action.

Bryant says he has come forward because he is tormented by the loss of civilian life he believes that he and his squadron may have caused. Today he is committed to informing the public about lethal flaws in the U.S. drone program.

Bryant describes the program as highly compartmentalized: Drone operators taking shots at targets on the ground have little idea where the intelligence is coming from.

“I don’t know who we worked with,” Bryant says. “We were never privy to that sort of information. If the NSA did work with us, like, I have no clue.”

During the course of his career, Bryant says, many targets of U.S. drone strikes evolved their tactics, particularly in the handling of cell phones. “They’ve gotten really smart now and they don’t make the same mistakes as they used to,” he says. “They’d get rid of the SIM card and they’d get a new phone, or they’d put the SIM card in the new phone.”

O artigo completo está aqui.