Archive for May 19th, 2014

by lizard

Oh American Government, sometimes you are simply hilarious, like when you indict 5 members of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army for economic espionage:

By indicting members of the People’s Liberation Army’s most famous cyberwarfare operation, called Unit 61398 but known among hackers by the moniker “Comment Crew,” the Obama administration is now using the legal system to make a case it has previously confined to classified briefings: that the Chinese military leadership is behind an enormous organized campaign to steal American intellectual property and designs for its own profit.

For two years now, President Obama and his aides have declared that when the United States spies on China, its goals are sharply different from those of the Chinese who engage in espionage. In public speeches and private conversations with Xi Jinping, the Chinese president, Mr. Obama has argued that it is far more pernicious to use the intelligence instruments of the state for commercial competitive advantage.

Obama can flap those deceitful lips all he wants, but actions speak louder than words. If Obama says using intelligence instruments of the state for commercial competitive advantage is pernicious, then how in the hell is he going to explain this:

The National Security Agency is secretly intercepting, recording, and archiving the audio of virtually every cell phone conversation on the island nation of the Bahamas.

According to documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the surveillance is part of a top-secret system – code-named SOMALGET – that was implemented without the knowledge or consent of the Bahamian government. Instead, the agency appears to have used access legally obtained in cooperation with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to open a backdoor to the country’s cellular telephone network, enabling it to covertly record and store the “full-take audio” of every mobile call made to, from and within the Bahamas – and to replay those calls for up to a month.

SOMALGET is part of a broader NSA program called MYSTIC, which The Intercept has learned is being used to secretly monitor the telecommunications systems of the Bahamas and several other countries, including Mexico, the Philippines, and Kenya. But while MYSTIC scrapes mobile networks for so-called “metadata” – information that reveals the time, source, and destination of calls – SOMALGET is a cutting-edge tool that enables the NSA to vacuum up and store the actual content of every conversation in an entire country.

This excerpt comes from an article put out this morning by First Look, via The Intercept. It’s a major story and it will be interesting to see how people respond to this latest disclosure of the rampant abuses perpetrated by the NSA (fun fact: Oprah and Bill Gates both have houses in the Bahamas) Wikileaks and Pando have already taken issue with the editorial decision by The Intercept to withhold the name of another country getting the full suck from the NSA, but I doubt that criticism will get much traction. What I’m more interested in is how the blatant hypocrisy will be explained by the Obama administration.

And if the NSA has the capability to do this to other countries, then one has to wonder to what extent this could be done in the States.

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