Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Why the NSA says it is interested in Brazil in particular

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Interesting note at the New Yorker by Ryan Lizza:

One of the more curious revelations from Edward Snowden’s trove of secret N.S.A. documents was a recent report that United States spy agencies have been vacuuming up communications in Brazil. Glenn Greenwald, who lives in Brazil, broke this story in O Globo, one of that country’s major newspapers, on July 6th. Greenwald, in an follow-up piece in the Guardian, pointed to a rough Google translation of his original July 6th report:

In the last decade, people residing or in transit in Brazil, as well as companies operating in the country, have become targets of espionage National Security Agency of the United States (National Security Agency – NSA, its acronym in English). There are no precise figures, but last January Brazil was just behind the United States, which had 2.3 billion phone calls and messages spied.…

Brazil, with extensive public and private networks scanned, operated by large telecommunications companies and internet, is highlighted on maps of the U.S. agency focus primarily on voice traffic and data (origin and destination), along with nations such as China, Russia, Iran and Pakistan. It is uncertain how many people and companies spied in Brazil. But there is evidence that the volume of data captured by the filtering system in the local telephone networks and the Internet is constant and large scale.

In a way, the N.S.A.’s focus on Brazil seems puzzling. Why would the United States care so much about communications traffic in a friendly South American country? But last week, at the Aspen Security Conference, General Keith Alexander, the director of the N.S.A., made a little-noticed remark that helps explain his agency’s interest in Brazil. During a question-and-answer session with an audience of journalists and current and former government officials, a German reporter rose and asked Alexander this: “Why are you focusing so much on gathering data also from Brazil, since there’s not too much terrorism going on in Brazil as far as I know?”

Alexander’s answer was somewhat elliptical (emphasis mine): . . .

Continue reading.

His explanation was interested, but as I attempted to post as a comment (but could not: the New Yorker site is weird):

When listening to explanations from the NSA, it’s important always to remember that they routinely lie, and will lie even in Congressional hearings, as Director James Clapper did to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Sen. Ron Wyden, even though Clapper realized that Wyden knew that he (Clapper) was lying. Sincer Clapper had 24 hours notice of the question, so the lie was quite deliberate. We’ve also seen overt lies scrubbed from the NSA web site. We should approach Alexander’s remarks cautiously, since we now know that NSA lies but we don’t know when. “Trust but verify” doesn’t cut it: there can be no trust, because the NSA decided that lies were acceptable. So we can only verify.

Some facts have come out, thanks in no small part to Edward Snowden, who should get a presidential medal (though probably not from the current president). For example, we now know that Sen. Feinstein did a slipshod and incompetent job of oversight; she seems essentially to have accepted whatever NSA proposed. We also now know that the US has now a body of secret laws (how large we can’t know: they’re secret) and a secret court that makes secret decisions based on those secret laws, laws justified by secret memorandums. We also know that the Obama Administration will go to any lengths to prevent the American public from learning what is going on—his vindictive pursuit of whistleblowers is unmatched.

The NSA needs to be melted down and recast: the current organization seems completely corrupted by the power they wield. Probably little will be done. One can only imagine what information they hold on members of Congress—J. Edgar Hoover managed to build an enormous trove of information for blackmail influence with much more primitive tools.

The latest lie from NSA, of course, is that they lack the technical capacity and ability to search their emails. (This despite the billions upon billions they’ve spent.) This is another lie of the sort that Clapper told: a lie so overt and obvious that we know it’s a lie, and the NSA knows that we know, and they don’t care: they have such contempt for Congress and the public that the NSA lies even though the lies are known to be lies. It’s a way of demonstrating how powerless we are against them.

I just saw the news. Apparently NSA controls enough of Congress so that they can continue: the effort to rein them in failed. I’m reminded of Pickett’s charge at Gettysburg. That vote may represent the high-water mark of efforts to rein in the secret government and its takeover of the US.

Written by Leisureguy

24 July 2013 at 4:35 pm

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