Monday, January 17, 2011

MLK Knew the Game (Suckers!) White House Prepares to Launch Internet ID System & Cyber Command Prepares the Ground for High-Tech War Crimes

Scene: MLK Day at the local Barnes and Noble (Celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Day?

On paper, the United States has now been officially honoring the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for a full 25 years. In reality, we’ve been dishonoring the King legacy for that same quarter century.

Since 1986, the year we celebrated the first national King holiday, the United States has grown steadily more unequal. We have moved in the exact direction Dr. King struggled all his life against. A small elite, as a young Martin Luther King told Coretta Scott some 60 years ago, should not "control all the wealth.”

“A society based on making all the money you can and ignoring people's needs,” he explained plainly back then, “is wrong.”

Just how wrong we explore, with the help of a timely new King holiday report, in this week’s Too Much.)

Sorrow for the Winners of Financial Scams? (AttaBoy!) Wonder Where the Money Is Actually Going? (CyberSecurity!) Don't Like Flying Hassles? (Get Fabulously Rich! And Join General Aviation Community Who Don't Do "Security") Bunch of Overgrown Testosterone Cases Running Amuck in Cyber Security? (Just stay tuned!)
British lawmakers may not, by year’s end, come up with a better curb on banker bonuses than America’s lawmakers. But they certainly do ask some creative questions. Last week, MPs spent two and a half hours grilling Bob Diamond, the American who runs the Barclays British banking powerhouse. Diamond, since 2005, has pocketed over £75 million, about $120 million in his home currency. Did Diamond understand, one Scottish MP asked, just how toxic the banking bonus culture looks out in the real world? Diamond's response? He pledged to do a better job explaining how much “investment banks contribute to society.”

That prompted another lawmaker, John Mann, to move the questioning into a more spiritual realm. Wondered Mann: “Why is it easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven?” Diamond, on tap to pocket $12.7 million more in bonus for 2010, ventured no answer

. . . The latest figures on the bonus outlays U.S. banks are making will start appearing shortly, and the folks at New York’s Wall Street Burger Shoppe can hardly wait for banking’s bonus boys to start sharing the love.

This Manhattan eatery now has on its menu a $175 “Richard Nouveau Burger” that features a foie gras-and-black truffle topping. Meanwhile, out in Las Vegas, the chefs at Fleur are now serving up a burger platter, fries and vintage wine included, for $5,000. The restaurant, the Wall Street Journal reports, expects plenty of buzz from the new dish — and expects to sell at least a half-dozen of the burgers over the next 12 months

. . . Some CEOs just can’t catch any breaks. Take poor Jeffrey Fraser, for instance, the former chief exec at NIC Inc., a company that specializes in running Web sites for government agencies. Fraser, over a six-year period that ended in 2008, collected a series of thoughtful perks from his company. NIC, among other generosities, paid Fraser the rent for a ski lodge in Wyoming and threw in enough extra to cover the private plane that flew Fraser back and forth between the lodge and his Kansas office. Nothing remarkable there. Lots of CEOs get great perks. Fraser’s failing? He and his pals at NIC never bothered to tell shareholders what they were doing.

The federal Securities and Exchange Commission last week announced that a repentant Fraser has agreed to fork up over $2 million in paybacks and fines — and “consented” to an order that bars him from ever again sitting in the executive suite of a publicly traded company

. . . Last week also brought word about the corporate exit of another top high-tech exec, former Perot Systems CEO Peter Altabef. Back in November 2009 Altabef bargained the buyout that saw tech giant Dell gobble up Perot Systems, at a nifty price 68 percent over Perot’s actual stock value. Dell promptly welcomed Altabef onto its executive team with a “long-term retention agreement” complete with stock awards valued at $16.7 million. That “long-term,” Dell has just announced, will end this March 31. But no hard feelings. Altabef will walk away, a required Dell filing with the SEC reveals, with $1.35 million in severance and Dell shares currently worth $6.4 million. . . . Don’t like all those airport security hassles you have to face every time you travel? The easy solution: Get fabulously rich. Passengers on the lavish private jets that fly out from obscure airports like Teterboro, a New Jersey “general aviation” facility just outside Manhattan, don’t have to go through any of the screening checks that America’s hoi polloi face at regular airports. At Teterboro, “the LAX of the American plutocracy,” aviation journalist Jeffrey Goldberg recently took off as a guest on a private plane — bound for Washington’s Dulles airport — and never had his ID or person checked. What’s the problem here? The general aviation “community,” says Transportation Security Administration administrator John Pistole, frowns upon “government regulation.”

Don'tcha just love all that "change" from the Bush/Cheney days?

White House Plans to Launch Internet ID System, Further Eroding Civil and Political Rights

Monday, January 17, 2011

Urged by one and all to "tone down" what media pundits and political elites describe as "strident," even "violent" rhetoric that has "poisoned" our "national conversation" and "sharply polarized" the population, the shooting rampage in Tucson which claimed six lives, including that of a nine-year-old girl is, in fact, emblematic of the moral bankruptcy and utter hypocrisy of those selfsame capitalist elites.

Faced with an unprecedented economic crisis that has destroyed the lives of tens of millions our fellow citizens, not to mention aggressive wars which have cratered entire societies and murdered hundreds of thousands of people who have done us no harm, when, pray tell, will the "conversation" turn to the unprecedented annihilation of democratic institutions and the rule of law which exonerates, even celebrates, those who murder, maim and torture on an industrial scale?

Just last week, the Obama administration announced plans to roll-out an "identity ecosystem" for the internet. Although passed over in silence by major media, at the risk of being accused of "incivility," particularly when it comes to the "hope" fraudster and war criminal in the Oval Office, Americans need to focus - sharply - on the militarists, political bag men and corporate gangsters working to bring George Orwell's dystopian world one step closer to reality.

Earlier this month, CNET disclosed that the administration "is planning to hand the U.S. Commerce Department authority over a forthcoming cybersecurity effort to create an Internet ID for Americans.

"White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Howard Schmidt said that the secret state's latest move to lower the boom on privacy and free speech will embed the surveillance op at the Commerce Department. Schmidt, speaking at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research said Commerce is "the absolute perfect spot in the U.S. government" to centralize these efforts.

According to CNET, the move "effectively pushes the department to the forefront of the issue, beating out other potential candidates, including the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security.

"Really? I don't think so.

NSA Clearly in the Frame

Last week, Government Computer News reported that the secretive Pentagon spy shop broke ground on a "massive new National Security Agency cyber intelligence center in Utah."

The multibillion dollar facility (cost overruns not included) "will have 100,000 square feet of raised-floor data center space and more than 900,000 square feet of technical support and administrative space" that "will support the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative."

In September, NextGov reported that then Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Collection, Glenn Gaffney, said the new data center "would support the intelligence community in providing foreign intelligence about cybersecurity threats and protect Defense Department networks."

Back in 2009, investigative journalist James Bamford wrote in The New York Review of Books that "the mammoth $2 billion structure will be one-third larger than the US Capitol and will use the same amount of energy as every house in Salt Lake City combined.

"While corporate media tell us that the center will "enhance" the nation's capacity to thwart "cyber threats" the fact is, Bamford wrote, the complex will "house trillions of phone calls, e-mail messages, and data trails: Web searches, parking receipts, bookstore visits, and other digital 'pocket litter'."

In other words, the vast data repository will serve as "spy central" for our digital minders."

Just how much information will be stored in these windowless cybertemples?" Bamford wondered. According to a report prepared for the Pentagon by the ultra-spooky MITRE Corporation, "as the sensors associated with the various surveillance missions improve, the data volumes are increasing with a projection that sensor data volume could potentially increase to the level of Yottabytes (10 to the 24 Bytes) by 2015."

This is "roughly equal to about a septillion (1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) pages of text, numbers beyond Yottabytes haven't yet been named," Bamford avers.

Leaving aside disinformational pyrotechnics by media cheerleaders that the NSA's data equivalent of a Wal-Mart supercenter will primarily exist for "cybersecurity," "foreign intelligence" and protecting "Defense Department networks," Bamford counters that "once vacuumed up and and stored in these near-infinite 'libraries,' the data are then analyzed by powerful infoweapons, supercomputers running complex algorithmic programs, to determine who among us may be - or may one day become - a terrorist."

"In the NSA's world of automated surveillance on steroids" Bamford avers, "every bit has a history and every keystroke tells a story."

Or as Cryptohippie puts it far less delicately, every keystroke or cellphone ping is "criminal evidence, ready for use in a trial."

Just what are they up to? Even Congress, always willing to give the Executive Branch a free pass when it comes to blanket surveillance, doesn't know. Last week the Associated Press reported that "the Pentagon failed to disclose clandestine cyber activities in a classified report on secret military actions that goes to Congress."

Citing "gaps" in reporting requirements on clandestine operations, "emerging high-tech operations are not specifically listed in the law," AP averred. After all, "cyber oversight is still a murky work in progress for the Obama administration."Perhaps AP and other media outlets should look more closely at what's hidden inside that "murky work" and where its authority comes from. "Oversight" is certainly not part of the equation.

Cybersecurity's Brave New World

As Antifascist Calling previously reported, the operational nuts-and-bolts of the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative (CNCI) is a closely-held state secret that derives authority from classified annexes of the National Security Presidential Directive 54, Homeland Security Presidential Directive 23 (NSPD 54/HSPD 23) issued by our former "decider."

Those 2008 orders are so contentious that both the Bush and Obama administrations have refused to release details to Congress, prompting a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) demanding the full text of the underlying legal authority governing "cybersecurity" be made public.Details on the "trusted identity" scheme are scarce, but back in July Antifascist Calling reported that the secret state had deployed New York Times reporter John Markoff as a conduit for administration scaremongering.

Schmidt told the "Gray Lady" that administration plans involved "a 'voluntary trusted identity' system that would be the high-tech equivalent of a physical key, a fingerprint and a photo ID card, all rolled into one."According to the Times, "the system might use a smart identity card, or a digital credential linked to a specific computer, and would authenticate users at a range of online services."

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke was quick to downplay the more sinister implications of the hustle saying, "We are not talking about a national ID card."

CNET reported Locke's claim that "we are not talking about a government-controlled system. What we are talking about is enhancing online security and privacy, and reducing and perhaps even eliminating the need to memorize a dozen passwords, through creation and use of more trusted digital identities."

Why bother with privacy when surrendering your rights is so convenient!

Touted as a warm and fuzzy "identity ecosystem," Government Computer News reported that the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has even launched a dedicated website hawking the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC).

According to NIST, "NSTIC envisions a cyber world - the Identity Ecosystem - that improves upon the passwords currently used to login online."

We're informed that the "Identity Ecosystem will provide people with a variety of more secure and privacy-enhancing ways to access online services. The Identity Ecosystem enables people to validate their identities securely when they're doing sensitive transactions (like banking) and lets them stay anonymous when they're not (like blogging). The Identity Ecosystem will enhance individuals' privacy by minimizing the information they must disclose to authenticate themselves."

Government Computer News tells us that the "identity ecosystem" isn't envisaged as a "national Internet ID to track online activities."

The devil's in the details and what little we do know should set alarm bells ringing.

The program office will "support and coordinate interagency collaboration" and "promote pilot projects and other implementations." Which agencies are we talking about here? What pilot projects and "other implementations" are being alluding to? We don't know.

We do know however, that the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security have forged a Memorandum of Agreement which will increase Pentagon control over America's telecommunications and electronic infrastructure.

In fact, as the Electronic Frontier Foundation disclosed in October, DHS has been tracking people online and that the agency even established a "Social Networking Monitoring Center" to explicitly do so.

Documents obtained by the civil liberties watchdog group revealed that the agency has been vacuuming-up "items of interest," systematically monitoring "citizenship petitioners" and analyzing "online public communication."

Wouldn't an "identity ecosystem" greatly facilitate online spying, despite administration claims to the contrary?

While the system is "voluntary" and individuals will not be compelled to sign up, the secret state is lusting after a sure fire means to identify the billions of computers, smart phones and other digital devices that plague us.

And even if you choose not to "opt in," well, plans are already afoot by advertising pimps and their partners in the national security state "to collect the digital equivalent of fingerprints from every computer, cellphone and TV set-top box in the world," The Wall Street Journal recently disclosed.

As with all other aspects of the "War on Terror" threatscape, the closer one looks at the Obama regime's "identity ecosystem" the less warm and fuzzy it becomes.

And speaking of real cyber terror . . . .
Cyber Command Prepares the Ground for High-Tech War Crimes

Sunday, November 14, 2010 While a bureaucratic turf war rages between the CIA and U.S. Cyber Command (CYBERCOM) over which secret state agency will be authorized to launch network attacks outside a "war zone," the big losers, as always, will be those unfortunate enough to find themselves on the receiving end of a military-grade "logic bomb."

Last week, The Washington Post reported that CYBERCOM "is seeking authority to carry out computer network attacks around the globe to protect U.S. interests." Leaving aside the thorny question of whose interests are being "protected" here, the Post tells us that unnamed administration lawyers are "uncertain about the legality of offensive operations."

Coming from a government that's incorporated the worst features of the previous regime into their repertoire, that's rather rich."

The CIA has argued," the Post informs, "that such action is covert, which is traditionally its turf." Pentagon thrill-kill specialists beg to differ, asserting that "offensive operations are the province of the military and are part of its mission to counter terrorism, especially when, as one official put it, 'al-Qaeda is everywhere'."

That certainly covers a lot of ground! As a practical matter it also serves as a convenient justification - or pretext, take your pick - for our minders in Ft. Meade, Langley or Cheltenham to consummate much in the mischief department.

And with alarmist media reports bombarding us every day with dire scenarios, reminiscent of the "weapons of mass destruction" spook show that preceded the Iraq invasion, where China, Iran, Russia and North Korea are now stand-ins for "Saddam" in the cyberwar Kabuki dance, it is hardly surprising that "liberal" Democrats and "conservative" Republicans are marching in lockstep.

InfoSecurity reported last week that during a recent Manhattan conference, Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY) proclaimed that "the likelihood of a cyberattack that could bring down our [electrical] grid is ... 100%. Our networks are already being penetrated as we stand here. We are already under attack. We must stop asking ourselves 'could this happen to us' and move to a default posture that acknowledges this fact and instead asks 'what can we do to protect ourselves'?"

Why cede even more control to the secret state and their corporate partners who stand to make a bundle in the latest iteration of the endless "War on Terror" (Cyber Edition), of course!

An Offensive Brief

Despite all the hot air about protecting critical infrastructure and the domain, the offensive nature of Pentagon planning is written into Cyber Command's DNA.

As Antifascist Calling reported in April, the organization's aggressive posture is writ large in several Air Force planning documents.

In a 2006 presentation to the Air Force Cyber Task Force for example, A Warfighting Domain: Cyberspace, Dr. Lani Kass asserted that "Cyber is a war-fighting domain. The electromagnetic spectrum is the maneuver space. Cyber is the United States' Center of Gravity - the hub of all power and movement, upon which everything else depends. It is the Nation's neural network."

Kass averred that "Cyber superiority is the prerequisite to effective operations across all strategic and operational domains - securing freedom from attack and freedom to attack."

Accordingly, she informed her audience that "Cyber favors the offensive," and that the transformation of the electromagnetic spectrum into a "warfighting domain" will be accomplished by: "Strategic Attack directly at enemy centers of gravity; Suppression of Enemy Cyber Defenses; Offensive Counter Cyber; Defensive Counter Cyber; Interdiction."

Two years later, the Strategic Vision unveiled by the Air Force disclosed that the purpose for standing up a dedicated cyber command is to "deceive, deny, disrupt, degrade, and destroy" an adversary's information infrastructure.Air Force theorists averred that since "the confluence of globalization, economic disparities, and competition for scarce resources" pose significant challenges for the U.S. Empire, all the more pressing in light of capitalism's on-going economic crisis, an offensive cyber posture must move rapidly beyond the theoretical plane.

Echoing Kass, and in order to get a leg-up on the competition, we were told that "controlling cyberspace is the prerequisite to effective operations across all strategic and operational domains - securing freedom from attack and freedom to attack."

Shortly thereafter, Air Force Col. Charles W. Williamson III wrote in the prestigious Armed Forces Journal that "America needs the ability to carpet bomb in cyberspace to create the deterrent we lack."

Williamson averred that "America must have a powerful, flexible deterrent that can reach far outside our fortresses and strike the enemy while he is still on the move."

His solution?

Create a military-grade botnet that marshals the computing power of tens of thousands of Defense Department machines. "To generate the right amount of power for offense," Williamson wrote, "all the available computers must be under the control of a single commander, even if he provides the capability for multiple theaters."

And if innocent parties, not to mention a potential adversary's civilian infrastructure is destroyed in the process, Williamson declares that "if the botnet is used in a strictly offensive manner, civilian computers may be attacked, but only if the enemy compels us.

"Indeed, "if the U.S. is defending itself against an attack that originates from a computer which was co-opted by an attacker, then there are real questions about whether the owner of that computer is truly innocent."

But as we know from observing the conduct of the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan, outside the imperial blast walls no one is "truly innocent."

While the Air Force may have lost the intramural skirmish to run the organization, a task now shared amongst the other armed services and NSA, their preemptive war doctrines are firmly in place. And with an operating budget of $120 million this year, to increase to $150 million in fiscal year 2011, excluding of course highly-secretive Special Access Programs hidden deep inside the Pentagon's "black" budget, it's off to the races.

As I reported last year, when Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates penned a Memorandum that marked its official launch, the former CIA chief and Iran-Contra criminal specified that CYBERCOM would be a "subordinate unified command" under U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM).

As readers are well aware, STRATCOM is the Pentagon satrapy charged with running space operations, information warfare, missile defense, global command, control, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR), global strike and strategic deterrence; in other words, they're the trigger finger on America's first-strike nuclear arsenal.

A Strategic Command Fact Sheet published in June told us that Cyber Command "plans, coordinates, integrates, synchronizes, and conducts activities to: direct the operations and defense of specified Department of Defense information networks and; prepare to, and when directed, conduct full-spectrum military cyberspace operations in order to enable actions in all domains, ensure US/Allied freedom of action in cyberspace and deny the same to our adversaries."

Gates ordered that the organization "must be capable of synchronizing warfighting effects across the global security environment as well as providing support to civil authorities and international partners."

What form that "support" will take is clear from previous agreements between the U.S. secret state and their "international partners." Beneath the dark banner of the UK-USA Security Agreement that powers the ECHELON signals intelligence (SIGINT) collection and analysis network, agencies such as NSA and Britain's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) keep a watchful eye on global communications.

On the domestic front, as I reported last month, a Memorandum of Agreement forged between the Department of Homeland Security and the National Security Agency means that "protecting" critical civilian infrastructure and communications assets, including the internet, is for all practical purposes now part of the Pentagon's cyberwar brief.

With authority to troll our communications handed to NSA by the Bush and Obama administrations under top secret provisions of the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative (CNCI), the American people have no way of knowing what cybersecurity programs exist, who decides what is "actionable intelligence," or where private communications land after becoming part of the "critical infrastructure and key resources" landscape.

And with civilian control over "black" Pentagon programs off the table since the darkest days of the Cold War, the Defense Department's announcement last week that Cyber Command has achieved "full operational capability" should give pause.

Long-Running Feud

War criminal, arch geopolitical manipulator and corporate bag man Henry Kissinger once famously said, "covert action should not be confused with missionary work."

While true as far as it goes, bureaucratic blood-sport between the CIA and the Defense Department over control of world-wide cyber operations reflects a long-running battle within the secret state over which covert branch of government will command resources and run clandestine programs across the global "War on Terror" landscape.

Currently in the driver's seat when it comes to the deadly drone war in Pakistan and protecting America's opium-growing and heroin-dealing regional allies, the Agency vigorously objects to Pentagon maneuvers to carry out offensive cyber operations away from acknowledged war zones, because, so goes the argument, they have exclusive rights to the covert action brief.

Such claims have been challenged by the Pentagon, and considering the formidable assets possessed by Cyber Command and NSA, the Agency is likely to lose out when the Obama regime issues a ruling later this year.

This raises an inevitable question, not that its being asked by congressional grifters or corporate media stenographers: should NSA, the Pentagon or indeed any other secret state agency, including the CIA, be tasked with cybersecurity generally, let alone given carte blanche to conduct clandestine and legally dubious missions inside our computer networks?

As security expert Bruce Schneier wrote last year, "Cybersecurity isn't a military problem." In fact when the Bush and Obama governments gave the Pentagon a free hand to driftnet spy on the American people, Schneier averred that programs like the NSA's warrantless wiretapping program "created additional vulnerabilities in our domestic telephone networks."Vulnerabilities not likely to be addressed by administration proposals that would further weaken encryption standards and order telecommunications and computer manufacturers to build surveillance-ready backdoors into their devices and networks, as The New York Times disclosed in September.

Despite a warning last year by former DHS National Cyber Security division head Amit Yoran that "the intelligence community has always and will always prioritize its own collection efforts over the defensive and protection mission of our government's and nation's digital systems," the securitization of America's electronic networks is proceeding at break-neck speed.

Describing the military's power-grab in benign terms, NSA/CYBERCOM director Alexander characterized Pentagon operational plans as an "active defense," one that "hunts" inside a computer network "for malicious software, which some experts say is difficult to do in open networks and would raise privacy concerns if the government were to do it in the private sector," The Washington Post reports.

An unnamed "senior defense official" described the process as an "ability to push 'out as far as we can' beyond the network perimeter to 'where the threat is coming from' in order to eliminate it."

Never mind that pushing out "as far as we can" will mean that the American people will be subject to additional constitutional breaches or that current Pentagon initiatives, such as NSA's warrantless wiretapping programs are not subject to meaningful public oversight and are hidden beneath top secret layers of classification and the continual invocation of the "state secrets" privilege by the Bush and Obama administrations.

Regardless of which secret state agency comes out on top in the current dispute, where choosing between the CIA and the Pentagon offers a Hobson's choice of whether one prefers to be poisoned or shot, as Doug Henwood points wrote in Left Business Observer following the mid-term elections: "A country that's rotting from the head, poisoned by alienation, plutocracy, and an aversion to thinking, careens from one idiocy to another."

And so it goes, on and on...

Sheesh! Off to crawl into a cave, Suzan __________________


Tom Harper said...

Government agencies getting more secretive all the time, billionaires getting richer at the expense of everybody else -- Thank God for WikiLeaks and other similar groups who engage in leaks and cyber attacks. I hope it'll level the playing field just a tiny bit.

Suzan said...

Yep. Absolutely.

Unless it's just the excuse to monitor everybody on the internet, which it certainly could be looking at the stuff coming soon from the Obama admin about cyber security (and it's the same thing that Dumbya set up).

Not to mention getting rid of net neutrality.


We may be living in the last good times (for worldwide communication).

Love ya,


The Blog Fodder said...

Suzan, I agree that the end of cyber privacy is already here and everything we do and say on line is grabbed and filtered somewhere. Facebook is supposed to have built in privacy ie only your friends...but if you use any of the cute little apps that come along, you have to allow them access to all your data, including your friends. anybody wonder where the apps come from and who is using the data they free up?

Suzan said...

Do you think anyone could not know this yet? Or do we need to shout it from the rooftops?

allow them access to all your data, including your friends. anybody wonder where the apps come from and who is using the data they free up?

Not that they don't have us just from taking a video of our movements at the local shopping center . . . .

And all our friends.

We are truly a lost civilization.

Love ya,


The Blog Fodder said...

I don't know but I have never seen anyone post on it and it is likely too late to undo the damage. I got suckered into one of the apps to see how many with my last name were on Facebook. Then realized I could not undo the permission I had given. I am tempted to take down my Facebook site and start a new one in a year or two but they likely have them linked, I don't know.

Suzan said...

I had a facebook site when it first came out just to look at how they were gathering personal info, but made no mistakes about downloading any software apps (as a software guru I knew better). It scared me plenty then (before letting Google, etc., in - and don't you believe it's for anything but the info and money to be made from its dissemination).

I don't use it as you can imagine.

So hard to take back info they've already got on you.

Get rid of it.