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Connecting the Dots

Monday, February 10, 2014

 
FEBRUARY 11TH 2014 IS 
The Day We Fight Back 
AGAINST MASS SURVEILLANCE

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Battles on streets of Kiev, everything you've read and saw in TV news reports is TOTAL CRAP.

Revolution in Kiev, Ukraine 


















by Ilya Varlamov
January 22, 2014

In the last days I received multiple requests to translate my posts for foreign readers, as they have very limited information about the happenings in Ukraine. 

This material describes events which took place in Kyev on January 22 and 23. 

Please click link below to see photos of the Battles on streets of Kiev. 
 
Sharing and distribution is appreciated

I came to Kiev. I came to see for myself what is happening here. Of course, an hour after arriving at Maidan, you begin to understand that everything what you've read in dozens of articles, saw in TV news reports is total crap. In the upcoming reports I will try to, as objectively as possible, to sort out this new wave of Kiev revolution.

Usually reporters try to answer the question: “Who came out to Maidan and why.” Depending on the political leaning of MSM, the answers are different. 


Some say it's “fascists who came out to lynch the Moscali (Ukranian derogatory for Moscovites and Russians in general).”, some say “they're bums and slackers, who've got nothing better to do” and “instigators on the government payroll.” In reality, there is no answer. Those who came out are completely different. 

Remember, how a couple of years in Moscow there was a MSM buzzword “angry townspeople.” Here you see football fans, retirees, office plankton. And everyone is standing together. A sweet, ol' grandmother is pouring Molotv cocktail in a nationalists' bottles; and a manager of a large company is carrying ammunition to the student. And as it seems to me at this time, these people do not have a specific plan, nor idea of what to do next. Of course, individually, everyone has their own plan to “save Ukraine.” For some its “we need a couple of crates of AKs and grenades, we'll sort things out here quickly.” Others “need to ask the world community for help and bring in the UN troops.” At this time there is no central idea of what to do, an idea that can unite and point in one direction the people at Maidan.

The only thing that is completely clear – people came out against Yanukovich.

The burning barricades are visited by people who have come to let out anger and resentment that have accumulated over the years – for the excesses of cops; for the corruption; for the 'golden toilet'; for the stupidity of the sell-out officials. 


An elderly man, 80 years of age, walks up to young guys in masks and asks them for a bottle of flaming liquid. They ask him:

“- Grandad, you wont be able to throw it far enough!
- Just give me one, I want to show these beasts that they cannot treat me like this

Unfortunately, the Ukranians had bad luck with opposition. The street mob is not controlled by anyone. Klichko and his company met with Yanukovch yesterday.


Later they came out to the people, began to say something, but no one believes them. And no one wants to follow them. The main mass of people are completely non-political. They come out to kick Yanukovich and his company's ass. 

Everyone has their own grievances and vision of the future.

There are very real battles on the streets of Kiev right now. Unfortunately, Yanukovich is far away, so the Berkut (Ukranian SWAT) and soldiers have to play the role of Yanukovich' ass. The scenery in Kiev is scary. Black smoke, burning barricades and constant explosions. Berkut's flashbangs and the protestors' fireworks explode in the streets. Each side is shooting at the other and there are already first casualties(2 to 5 based on different sources).

Let's go to the barricades?

I rented a room in the hotel "Dnepr", the very center on the European square. I come up to the main entrance, all doors are locked, lights are out. A group of men in helmets and protection, hanging nearby, greet me “Welcome to Kiev, Mister.” - they've confused me with a foreign tourist. Everyone's laughing. It turns out that the entrance to the hotel is through a local bar. The security guy opens the door and leads me through dark hallways to the lobby. The lights are off, so as not to attract attention. After all, the hotel is almost at the front line.
 

Back when it was all starting, there was a stage here, from which politicians pontificated their smart ideas about the future of Ukraine. Now the politicians have move on to Maidan, and the European square has become the rear base of the revolution. Cars with food arrive here; old tires for the bonfires, wood, medicine and reinforcements.

Please click link below to see photos of the Battles on streets of Kiev. 

Sharing and distribution is appreciated

Source:
http://zyalt.livejournal.com/984735.html
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Monday, January 20, 2014

CSEC set up 'covert sites at the request of NSA

Canada's spooks were NSA bagmen, established spy-posts in 20+ countries and "transnational targets" 

By Greg Weston, Glenn Greenwald, Ryan Gallagher 
CBC 
Dec 9, 201

A top secret document retrieved by American whistleblower Edward Snowden reveals Canada has set up covert spying posts around the world and conducted espionage against trading partners at the request of the U.S. National Security Agency.
The leaked NSA document being reported exclusively by CBC News reveals Canada is involved with the huge American intelligence agency in clandestine surveillance activities in “approximately 20 high-priority countries."
Much of the document contains hyper-sensitive operational details which CBC News has chosen not to make public.
Sections of the document with the highest classification make it clear in some instances why American spymasters are particularly keen about enlisting their Canadian counterparts, the Communications Security Establishment Canada.
"CSEC shares with the NSA their unique geographic access to areas unavailable to the U.S," the document says.
The briefing paper describes a "close co-operative relationship" between the NSA and its Canadian counterpart, the Communications Security Establishment Canada, or CSEC — a relationship "both sides would like to see expanded and strengthened.
"The intelligence exchange with CSEC covers worldwide national and transnational targets."The four-page missive is stamped “Top Secret” and dated April 3, 2013. That makes it one of the freshest documents Snowden was able to walk away with before he went public in June.
The briefing notes make it clear that Canada plays a very robust role in intelligence-gathering around the world in a way that has won respect from its American equivalents.
Wesley Wark, a Canadian security and intelligence expert at the University of Ottawa, says the document makes it clear Canada can take advantage of its relatively benign image internationally to covertly amass a vast amount of information abroad.
"I think we still trade on a degree of an international brand as an innocent partner in the international sphere," Wark said. "There's not that much known about Canadian intelligence.
"In that sense, Canadian operations might escape at least the same degree of notice and surveillance that the operations of the U.S. or Britain in foreign states would be bound to attract."
The intimate Canada-U.S. electronic intelligence relationship dates back more than 60 years. Most recently, another Snowden document reported by CBC News showed the two agencies co-operated to allow the NSA to spy on the G20 summit of international leaders in Toronto in 2010.
But what the latest secret document reveals for the first time is just how expansive Canada's international espionage activities have become.

CSEC set up 'covert sites at the request of NSA'

The NSA document depicts CSEC as a sophisticated, capable and highly respected intelligence partner involved in all manner of joint spying missions, including setting up listening posts at the request of the Americans.
"CSEC offers resources for advanced collection, processing and analysis, and has opened covert sites at the request of NSA," the document states.
Thomas Drake, a former NSA executive turned whistleblower, says it's no surprise Canada would accede to the U.S. agency's requests: "That's been the case for years.
"Just think of certain foreign agreements or relationships that Canada actually enjoys that the United States doesn't, and under the cover of those relationships, guess what you can conduct? These kinds of secret surveillance or collection efforts."
Drake says he worked with CSEC on various projects while he was at the NSA, and the Canadians were "extraordinarily capable."
CSEC conducts much of its foreign cyber-spying operations from its headquarters in Ottawa, using some of the most powerful computing equipment in the country to intercept foreign phone calls and monitor internet communications in nations around the globe.
Its American counterpart does the same, but is itself currently the target of a widespread internal probe by the U.S. administration in the wake of leaked documents from Snowden showing the NSA has been collecting masses of information on millions of ordinary Americans.
Wark reviewed the leaked document at the invitation of CBC News, and says he isn't surprised CSEC would be asked by the NSA to set up covert foreign spying operations.
He says it is not uncommon for embassies and consulates to be used as listening posts when a close proximity to targets is required.
But he also points out it all comes with significant risks to Canada — namely, getting caught "can create huge diplomatic fallout."

High-level approval required

Aside from compromising the actual intelligence operation, Wark says, an exposed spy mission can imperil Canada's other diplomatic operations — "the political contacts, the trade contacts, the generation of goodwill between the countries and any sense of co-operation."
Wark says if a country feels targeted by a Canadian embassy, it can put everyone working there under a cloud of suspicion: “Are they really diplomats or are they spies?”
As a result of those risks, Wark says, approval for CSEC to establish a covert spying post at the request of the NSA would have to come from the ministerial level of the Canadian government — or even from the prime minister himself.
"It's far too politically and diplomatically sensitive, and the consequences of being discovered are far too great, for it to be simply an operational matter for an intelligence agency," he says.
"In the past, it certainly has been and it should be today, a matter of very senior political sign-off."
Canada and the U.S. have long shared security intelligence with sister agencies in the U.K., Australia and New Zealand – the so-called "Five Eyes" partnership.
But the latest secret Snowden missive shows CSEC and the NSA becoming physically intertwined.
"Co-operative efforts include the exchange of liaison officers and integrees," the document reveals, a reference to CSEC operatives working inside the NSA, and vice-versa.
It notes the NSA also supplies much of the computer hardware and software CSEC uses for encryption, decoding and other state-of-the-art essentials of electronic spying needed for "collection, processing and analytic efforts."
In return, the NSA acknowledges that its Canadian counterpart provides the partnership with its own "cryptographic products, cryptanalysis, technology and software."
Finally, the U.S. agency says CSEC has increased its investment in research and development projects "of mutual interest."
CSEC employs about 2,000 people, has an annual budget of roughly $450 million and will soon move into an architecturally spectacular new Ottawa headquarters costing Canadian taxpayers almost $1.2 billion.
By comparison, the NSA employs an estimated 40,000 people plus thousands of private contractors, and spends over $40 billion a year
NSA whistleblower Drake says the problem is that both CSEC and the NSA lack proper oversight, and without it, they have morphed into runaway surveillance.
"There is a clear and compelling danger to democracy in Canada by virtue of how far these secret surveillance operations have gone."
The office of Defence Minister Rob Nicholson, who is responsible for CSEC, issued a written statement saying CSEC’s activities are subject to review by an independent commissioner.
A spokesperson for the U.S. government said: "While we are not going to comment publicly on every specific alleged activity, we have made clear that the United States gathers foreign intelligence of the type gathered by all nations."
Source: 
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Thursday, January 02, 2014

NSA Racing To Build Freakishly Powerful Computer

NSA seeks to build quantum computer capable of breaking all forms of encryption

RT.com
January 2, 2014

In room-size metal boxes, secure against electromagnetic leaks, the National Security Agency is racing to build a computer that could break nearly every kind of encryption used to protect banking, medical, business and government records around the world.

According to documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, the effort to build “a cryptologically useful quantum computer” — a machine exponentially faster than classical computers — is part of a $79.7 million research program titled, “Penetrating Hard Targets.” Much of the work is hosted under classified contracts at a laboratory in College Park.


The development of a quantum computer has long been a goal of many in the scientific community, with revolutionary implications for fields like medicine as well as for the NSA’s code-breaking mission. With such technology, all current forms of public key encryption would be broken, including those used on many secure Web sites as well as the type used to protect state secrets.

Physicists and computer scientists have long speculated whether the NSA’s efforts are more advanced than those of the best civilian labs. Although the full extent of the agency’s research remains unknown, the documents provided by Snowden suggest that the NSA is no closer to success than others in the scientific community.

It seems improbable that the NSA could be that far ahead of the open world without anybody knowing it,” said Scott Aaronson, an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science at MIT.

The NSA appears to regard itself as running neck and neck with quantum computing labs sponsored by the European Union and the Swiss government, with steady progress but little prospect of an immediate breakthrough.

The geographic scope has narrowed from a global effort to a discrete focus on the European Union and Switzerland,” one NSA document states.

Seth Lloyd, professor of quantum mechanical engineering at MIT, said the NSA’s focus is not misplaced. “The E.U. and Switzerland have made significant advances over the last decade and have caught up to the U.S. in quantum computing technology,” he said.

The NSA declined to comment for this story.

The documents, however, indicate that the agency carries out some of its research in large, shielded rooms known as Faraday cages, which are designed to prevent electromagnetic energy from coming in or out. Those, according to one brief description, are required “to keep delicate quantum computing experiments running.”

[Read a document describing classification levels related to quantum computing efforts]

The basic principle underlying quantum computing is known as “quantum superposition,” the idea that an object simultaneously exists in all states. A classical computer uses binary bits, which are either zeroes or ones. A quantum computer uses quantum bits, or qubits, which are simultaneously zero and one.

This seeming impossibility is part of the mystery that lies at the heart of quantum theory, which even theoretical physicists say no one completely understands.

If you think you understand quantum mechanics, you don’t understand quantum mechanics,” said the late Nobel laureate Richard Feynman, who is widely regarded as the pioneer in quantum computing.

Here’s how it works, in theory: While a classical computer, however fast, must do one calculation at a time, a quantum computer can sometimes avoid having to make calculations that are unnecessary to solving a problem. That allows it to home in on the correct answer much more quickly and efficiently.

Quantum computing is so difficult to attain because of the fragile nature of such computers. In theory, the building blocks of such a computer might include individual atoms, photons or electrons. To maintain the quantum nature of the computer, these particles would need to be carefully isolated from their external environments.

Quantum computers are extremely delicate, so if you don’t protect them from their environment, then the computation will be useless,” said Daniel Lidar, a professor of electrical engineering and the director of the Center for Quantum Information Science and Technology at the University of Southern California.

A working quantum computer would open the door to easily breaking the strongest encryption tools in use today, including a standard known as RSA, named for the initials of its creators. RSA scrambles communications, making them unreadable to anyone but the intended recipient, without requiring the use of a shared password. It is commonly used in Web browsers to secure financial transactions and in encrypted e-mails. RSA is used because of the difficulty of factoring the product of two large prime numbers. Breaking the encryption involves finding those two numbers. This cannot be done in a reasonable amount of time on a classical computer.

In 2009, computer scientists using classical methods were able to discover the primes within a 768-bit number, but it took almost two years and hundreds of computers to factor it. The scientists estimated that it would take 1,000 times longer to break a 1,024-bit encryption key, which is commonly used for online transactions.

A large-scale quantum computer, however, could theoretically break a 1,024-bit encryption much faster. Some leading Internet companies are moving to 2,048-bit keys, but even those are thought to be vulnerable to rapid decryption with a quantum computer.

Quantum computers have many applications for today’s scientific community, including the creation of artificial intelligence. But the NSA fears the implications for national security.

The application of quantum technologies to encryption algorithms threatens to dramatically impact the US government’s ability to both protect its communications and eavesdrop on the communications of foreign governments,” according to an internal document provided by Snowden.

Experts are not sure how soon a quantum computer would be feasible. A decade ago, some experts said that developing a large quantum computer was likely 10 to 100 years in the future. Five years ago, Lloyd said the goal was at least 10 years away.

Last year, Jeff Forshaw, a professor at the University of Manchester, told Britain’s Guardian newspaper, “It is probably too soon to speculate on when the first full-scale quantum computer will be built but recent progress indicates that there is every reason to be optimistic.”

I don’t think we’re likely to have the type of quantum computer the NSA wants within at least five years, in the absence of a significant breakthrough maybe much longer,” Lloyd told The Post in a recent interview.

However, some companies claim to already be producing small quantum computers. A Canadian company, D-Wave Systems , says it has been making quantum computers since 2009. In 2012, it sold a $10 million version to Google, NASA and the Universities Space Research Association, according to news reports.

That quantum computer, however, would never be useful for breaking public key encryption like RSA.

Even if everything they’re claiming is correct, that computer, by its design, cannot run Shor’s algorithm,” said Matthew Green, a research professor at the Johns Hopkins Information Security Institute, referring to the algorithm that could be used to break encryption like RSA.

Experts think that one of the largest hurdles to breaking encryption with a quantum computer is building a computer with enough qubits, which is difficult given the very fragile state of quantum computers. By the end of September, the NSA expected to be able to have some basic building blocks, which it described in a document as “dynamical decoupling and complete quantum control on two semiconductor qubits.”

That’s a great step, but it’s a pretty small step on the road to building a large-scale quantum computer,” Lloyd said.

A quantum computer capable of breaking cryptography would need hundreds or thousands more qubits than that.

The budget for the National Intelligence Program, commonly referred to as the “black budget,” details the “Penetrating Hard Targets” project and noted that this step “will enable initial scaling towards large systems in related and follow-on efforts.

Another project, called the “Owning the Net,” is using quantum research to support the creation of new quantum-based attacks on encryptions like RSA, documents show.

The irony of quantum computing is that if you can imagine someone building a quantum computer that can break encryption a few decades into the future, then you need to be worried right now,” Lidar said.

Source:
http://www.rt.com/usa/quantum-computer-nsa-encryption-100/
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Thursday, November 28, 2013

America wants to make sure it preserves the right to spy overseas.

Inside America's Plan to Kill Online Privacy Rights Everywhere

By Colum Lynch  
Foreign Policy
November 20, 2013
[Emphasis added]

The United States and its key intelligence allies are quietly working behind the scenes to kneecap a mounting movement in the United Nations to promote a universal human right to online privacy, according to diplomatic sources and an internal American government document obtained by The Cable.

The diplomatic battle is playing out in an obscure U.N. General Assembly committee that is considering a proposal by Brazil and Germany to place constraints on unchecked internet surveillance by the National Security Agency and other foreign intelligence services. 

American representatives have made it clear that they won't tolerate such checks on their global surveillance network. 

The stakes are high, particularly in Washington -- which is seeking to contain an internationalbacklash against NSA spying -- and in Brasilia, where Brazilian President Dilma Roussef is personally involved in monitoring the U.N. negotiations.

The Brazilian and German initiative seeks to apply the right to privacy, which is enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to online communications. Their proposal, firstrevealed by The Cable, affirms a "right to privacy that is not to be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with their privacy, family, home, or correspondence." It notes that while public safety may "justify the gathering and protection of certain sensitive information," nations "must ensure full compliance" with international human rights laws. A final version the text is scheduled to be presented to U.N. members on Wednesday evening and the resolution is expected to be adopted next week.

A draft of the resolution, which was obtained by The Cable, calls on states to "to respect and protect the right to privacy," asserting that the "same rights that people have offline must also be protected online, including the right to privacy." It also requests the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay, present the U.N. General Assembly next year with a report on the protection and promotion of the right to privacy, a provision that will ensure the issue remains on the front burner.

Publicly, U.S. representatives say they're open to an affirmation of privacy rights. "The United States takes very seriously our international legal obligations, including those under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights," Kurtis Cooper, a spokesman for the U.S. mission to the United Nations, said in an email. "We have been actively and constructively negotiating to ensure that the resolution promotes human rights and is consistent with those obligations."

But privately, American diplomats are pushing hard to kill a provision of the Brazilian and German draft which states that "extraterritorial surveillance" and mass interception of communications, personal information, and metadata may constitute a violation of human rights. The United States and its allies, according to diplomats, outside observers, and documents, contend that the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights does not apply to foreign espionage.

In recent days, the United States circulated to its allies a confidential paper highlighting American objectives in the negotiations, "Right to Privacy in the Digital Age -- U.S. Redlines." It calls for changing the Brazilian and German text so "that references to privacy rights are referring explicitly to States' obligations under ICCPR and remove suggestion that such obligations apply extraterritorially.

In other words: America wants to make sure it preserves the right to spy overseas.

The U.S. paper also calls on governments to promote amendments that would weaken Brazil's and Germany's contention that some "highly intrusive" acts of online espionage may constitute a violation of freedom of expression. Instead, the United States wants to limit the focus to illegal surveillance -- which the American government claims it never, ever does.  

Collecting information on tens of millions of people around the world is perfectly acceptable, the Obama administration has repeatedly said. It's authorized by U.S. statute, overseen by Congress, and approved by American courts.

"Recall that the USG's [U.S. government's] collection activities that have been disclosed are lawful collections done in a manner protective of privacy rights," the paper states. "So a paragraph expressing concern about illegal surveillance is one with which we would agree."

The privacy resolution, like most General Assembly decisions, is neither legally binding nor enforceable by any international court. 

But international lawyers say it is important because it creates the basis for an international consensus -- referred to as "soft law" -- that over time will make it harder and harder for the United States to argue that its mass collection of foreigners' data is lawful and in conformity with human rights norms.

"They want to be able to say ‘we haven't broken the law, we're not breaking the law, and we won't break the law,'" said Dinah PoKempner, the general counsel for Human Rights Watch, who has been tracking the negotiations.  

The United States, she added, wants to be able to maintain that "we have the freedom to scoop up anything we want through the massive surveillance of foreigners because we have no legal obligations."

The United States negotiators have been pressing their case behind the scenes, raising concerns that the assertion of extraterritorial human rights could constrain America's effort to go after international terrorists. But Washington has remained relatively muted about their concerns in the U.N. negotiating sessions. According to one diplomat, "the United States has been very much in the backseat," leaving it to its allies, Australia, Britain, and Canada, to take the lead.

There is no extraterritorial obligation on states "to comply with human rights," explained one diplomat who supports the U.S. position. "The obligation is on states to uphold the human rights of citizens within their territory and areas of their jurisdictions."

The position, according to Jamil Dakwar, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Human Rights Program, has little international backing. The International Court of Justice, the U.N. Human Rights Committee, and the European Court have all asserted that states do have an obligation to comply with human rights laws beyond their own borders, he noted. "Governments do have obligation beyond their territories," said Dakwar, particularly in situations, like the Guantanamo Bay detention center, where the United States exercises "effective control" over the lives of the detainees.

Both PoKempner and Dakwar suggested that courts may also judge that the U.S. dominance of the Internet places special legal obligations on it to ensure the protection of users' human rights.

"It's clear that when the United States is conducting surveillance, these decisions and operations start in the United States, the servers are at NSA headquarters, and the capabilities are mainly in the United States," he said. "To argue that they have no human rights obligations overseas is dangerous because it sends a message that there is void in terms of human rights protection outside countries territory. It's going back to the idea that you can create a legal black hole where there is no applicable law." There were signs emerging on Wednesday that America may have been making ground in pressing the Brazilians and Germans to back on one of its toughest provisions. In an effort to address the concerns of the U.S. and its allies, Brazil and Germany agreed to soften the language suggesting that mass surveillance may constitute a violation of human rights. Instead, it simply deep "concern at the negative impact" that extraterritorial surveillance "may have on the exercise of and enjoyment of human rights." The U.S., however, has not yet indicated it would support the revised proposal.

The concession "is regrettable. But it’s not the end of the battle by any means," said Human Rights Watch’s PoKempner.  

She added that there will soon be another opportunity to corral America's spies: a U.N. discussion on possible human rights violations as a result of extraterritorial surveillance will soon be taken up by the U.N. High commissioner.

(Access may require login)
Source:
http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2013/11/20/exclusive_inside_americas_plan_to_kill_online_privacy_rights_everywhere
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