NSA, GCHQ Admit That The Public Is The Enemy

from the civil-war dept

Yet another point on the latest NSA/GCHQ revelations concerning backdoors into all sorts of commercial encryption tools, buried within the stories is the pretty clear admission that the NSA and GCHQ views the public as the enemy. First, as Marcy Wheeler points out, all of the programs are named after civil war battles in which the same country’s own citizens were seen as the enemy:

The full extent of the N.S.A.’s decoding capabilities is known only to a limited group of top analysts from the so-called Five Eyes: the N.S.A. and its counterparts in Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Only they are cleared for the Bullrun program, the successor to one called Manassas — both names of American Civil War battles. A parallel GCHQ counterencryption program is called Edgehill, named for the first battle of the English Civil War of the 17th century.

Unlike some classified information that can be parceled out on a strict “need to know” basis, one document makes clear that with Bullrun, “there will be NO ‘need to know.’ ”

But it actually goes even further than that. As the Guardian report notes, in one of the documents, the public is flat out named as the “adversary.”

Among other things, the program is designed to “insert vulnerabilities into commercial encryption systems”. These would be known to the NSA, but to no one else, including ordinary customers, who are tellingly referred to in the document as “adversaries”.

Kind of says it all, doesn’t it? For all the bullshit coming out of the administration and the defenders of this program that they’re about protecting the safety of Americans, that’s clearly not the overall intent. It’s to compromise the privacy of everyone.

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Comments on “NSA, GCHQ Admit That The Public Is The Enemy”

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John Nemesh says:

Re: Well then...

I think we also need to kill off the DHS (aka Ministry of Peace), the DEA, most of the DOJ, and the ATF while they are at it! We have WAY too many Federal Agencies around these days. We should limit it to the FBI for domestic enforcement, and the CIA for international affairs. That’s it. The rest of these agencies are a redundant waste of time and resources and do NOT serve the public’s interest.

silverscarcat (profile) says:

Re: Re: Well then...

Dunno about the ATF myself. They’re the guys in charge of making sure that illegal firearms don’t get into the U.S. Problem is, they’ve been defunded heavily by NRA-supported congress-critters, thus making it harder to keep illegal guns out of the hands of criminals.

I do agree with the rest though.

Anonymous Coward says:

So others are finally getting the idea. You’ll never willing get the truth from the NSA. By calling the public the enemy it makes it easier to claim that recording all phone calls are relevant to investigations. Even though most US and UK citizens are not terrorists.

The whole thing has gone way too far and both NSA and our governments have become akin to a rabid dog, not able to tell friend from foe.

It is time to end NSA by cutting it’s funding completely off until it is thoroughly investigated by an independent investigator without ties to the vested interests. It is time to call for criminal charges for senior staff in charge for violating their ‘nothing inside the country’ mandate. It is time to look into impeachment proceedings if they are called for. Maybe after all has been thoroughly reviewed some of those still working for the NSA would like to continue; certainly not those in charge now.

Kenneth Michaels (profile) says:

No contingency plan

As Schneier said in one of his posts, the NSA clearly had no contingency plan of what to do if these secrets became public. If they had thought that any of this ever had a chance of becoming public, they would not have chosen such code names – and they would not have used Google’s logo, Yahoo’s logo, Skype’s logo, on their documents, etc.

blaktron (profile) says:

Re: No contingency plan

Because there is no possible contingency. The plan is to do whatever they want for as long as they want and trust in their powerful friends to keep them out of jail when it eventually unravels.

We see this time and time again when small people run giant organizations, they take and take and leave the organization they were meant to serve in rubble. Enron, AIG, Lehman Brothers, a ton of government departments etc.

BentFranklin (profile) says:

How do they find out which employees to recruit? How do they recruit them? There has to be significant spying going on in these companies before they would even begin to contact the few employees who could insert these backdoors.

Then, how do they actually recruit these coders? I’m sure it isn’t all patriotism and appeals to better nature. They buy them, either with cash or inducements like promotions for relatives who may be in the government or military. And if that doesn’t work, there is always coercion. How do they get the info they need to coerce these people? By spying on them and blackmailing them for naughty deeds or threatening bad treatment for their relatives. And if they don’t have any weak points, why you buddy up to them and get them involved in something bad, so then you can blackmail them.

There’s no doubt that this kind of subversion involves not only passive spying on Americans, but active operations inside our borders against Americans.

Or perhaps they only do it to foreign nationals with H1 visas? Hmm, what could you offer a foreign national or threaten them with to cooperate?

Anonymous Coward says:

How do they find out which employees to recruit? How do they recruit them?

When I first went into the service there was a recruiter for the NSA there. He asked if I wanted to join. I had no clue what the NSA was and turned it down.

Now if you have access to everything an individual communicates for the past 25 years and everything about his life, including his finances, surely you would be able to come up with some sort of incentive to get cooperation.

out_of_the_blue says:

Gov't (owned by The Rich) always regard The People as enemies,

besides slaves. Nothing new there, no need to labor that point…

Problem is that you kids who grew up in luxury and plenty just don’t regard The Rich as The Real Enemy, nor The Gov’t as owned by The Rich. But it always is, and gov’t is the main instrument by which The Rich exert their control and scrape off the excess which Labor makes, and with it build bigger and better control systems. Historically, that’s led to unbearable tyranny which caused uprisings, but The Rich have learned from their experiments (from Imperial Rome to Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, Communist China, many others) and now have better methods.

Just ran across this 2003 article, good explanation of WHAT is wrong, but even ends up saying doesn’t have a fix:

Inverted Totalitarianism: A New Way of Understanding How the U.S. Is Controlled


Whereas I do have a fix, time-tested with broad Populist support. If you see that the problem is The Rich trying to gain absolute control over everyone else, then:

The solution for most societal ills is HIGH INCOME TAX RATES. — WAGES should not be taxed at all! Income means unearned income.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Gov't (owned by The Rich) always regard The People as enemies,

If the rich controls the government how is your proposal to ‘tax the hell out of the rich’ going to accomplish anything? You do realize when money is taxed it goes to the government right? It makes no sense and the logic isn’t even internally consistent.

Anonymous Coward says:

To me, the government and whoever works in those areas are excluded from the rest of us. I don’t give a shit about them, they don’t do shit for me. They live in a bubble in some place talking about who knows what. We can’t control it, calling your politicians won’t help. The only thing that’ll help is a society waking up and revolting.

Anonymous Coward says:

Well fuck you too

They compromise freedoms, privacy, security, and sovereignty and WE’RE the bad guys? That’s the exact opposite of everything we’ve been taught up to this point. They shouldn’t act shocked that we hate them and want them gone when they’re acting just like every other fascist superpower we were told to hate and wish away forever in the past. I thought this method of running The State was supposed to die at the end of World War II; unfortunately, when they say you can’t kill an idea, that includes the awful ones.

Of course, it’s not like a police state’s going to give up its power that easily or come clean about its true intent on purpose. It’s ironic how the same “people” (I refuse to even pretend to acknowledge them as human beings anymore after these events) who have successfully hidden themselves from everyone can’t even hide their true agendas anymore.

Pragmatic says:

Copyright revenues are, by definition, unearned income, since they come from license fees for copies, and the artists, etc. DON’T MAKE THE COPIES TO SELL, the publishers (whom copyright was originally intended to benefit) do. As I’ve said many times before, only The Rich benefit. There is no “everyday good” from copyright as it’s not meant for little old us.

Artists, etc., earn more from public performances and real scarcities (such as personal appearances, etc.) than from copyright rents. Remember, the big bad corporations get those way before the artists ever do.

Those artists, etc., who do make money from copyright revenues, get less of the actual revenues than the publishers, who collect it via the collections agencies (who take their cut), pass it to the publishers, who take their cut, then pass it to the artists, etc.

Ever heard of “Work for hire?”

It’s why we don’t take you seriously, Blue. You contradict your stated position every time you take a maximalist stance.

As for wages, that IS income. And people have always been smart enough to find ways of redefining income sources to get around the taxes.

But I digress. Copyright, which you fondly believe is there to compensate artists, etc., for their endeavors, is increasingly being used as an instrument by which “The Rich” exert their control and scrape off the excess which Labor makes.

They’re using surveillance, IPR, and consolidation of major communications to maintain and expand their control over us.

Which brings me to my ultimate point: the public are perceived as the enemy of the Establishment because they’ve forgotten that the role of government is to serve the people, not the other way around.

We need to remind them of their actual role by keeping the pressure on until this troubling trend reverses.

Anonymous Coward says:

Bull Run/Manassas

“the Bullrun program, the successor to one called Manassas ? both names of American Civil War battles “

They were actually the SAME battles. One name is what the North called them, and the other is what the South called them.

The first battle of Bull Run/Manassas is, of course, considered to be the first real battle of the war. From what I remember from my history classes, before this battle most people assumed the war would be over quickly one way or the other, but after this battle, people realized this war was going to take a long, long time.

A metaphor?

Anonymous Coward says:

but still nothing will be done. still the surveillance will continue (they may say it’s stopped, but whoever believes that is a moron!) still any relevant findings will be given to the entertainment industries and the drug manufacturers, like Pfizer. still the public will be treated like shit. still those who are at the top of the power tree, with complete persecution complexes, will continue to push for more that can be taken from the people. still will there be an ‘elite’ section of society, a section that thinks it is better than everyone else because it has money and power and thinks everyone is trying to take it from them. personally, they can have my wealth and power. it aint done me any good so far, i cant see it changing now!

Andy (profile) says:

Is it not possible that now that its known that cryptography is compromised, that if the enermy (extremely subjective in the eyes of NSA and Gchq) also find and use the method to compromise parts of those very same countries infostructre that the act of the initial compromise in all intents and purpose was infact treasonous as it allowed the enermy access. Extreme but a viewpoint none the less.

Lord Binky says:

Re: Re:

Like China making use of all the backdoors the NSA installed, therefore making use of the NSA’s budget? For the money and manpower China’s NSA equivalent saves letting the NSA impliment insecurities into processess they can then use that excess manpower/money on surpassing the NSA and staying ahead of them indefinitely. That means the NSA supports China’s programs to be better than the NSA.

Rich Fiscus (profile) says:

Interesting that 2010 is mentioned as the year the NSA’s big “break through” happened. IIRC that’s the year before the first version of CISPA was introduced by Mike Rogers – aka the intelligence industry’s chief sock puppet. If you want to know how deep the rabbit hole goes I recommend focusing on the companies that spent the most lobbying for CISPA. Until we have revelations that cover at least most of them you can bet we aren’t even close to the bottom.

Don’t forget it was 2 days after Microsoft and Facebook publicly backed off their support that Rogers went batshit crazy and he hasn’t been back since. At the time it seemed like business as usual fear mongering. In retrospect it looks more like he knew the NSA’s cover was falling apart and expected to be the first one thrown under the bus.

Here’s the data from the Sunlight Foundation, minus the 2013 figures. I’m particularly interested to find out exactly where IBM fits in the picture. How desperate did they have to be to send 200 executives to Washington this year to personally lobby for CISPA?

lew says:

gov lies to us about everything, a clear statement that the gov is playing a different game, zero or negative sum.

It cannot then expect us to believe that it is working on our behalf, that our representatives are representing constituent’s interest.

NSA, FBI, CIA, DOJ, DEA, special forces, army, and the dozens of other police and intelligence agencies are all more dangerous to a functioning rep gov than any foreign threat they supposedly protect us against.

In a modern gov, we citizens are supposedly sovereign. Our representatives supposedly monitor the rest of the gov to ensure that.

Secret courts, secret opinion and interpretations of the law are completely opposite the concept of sovereign citizens.

Shrub and Obama have lead a rewrite of of the Constitution in secret. It was a coup.

If we do not reverse this, if we do not remove those dangers, we will have lost our country, our Constitution. Very bad events follow such losses.

Dan says:

Now that it’s plainly obvious that the NSA considers you an enemy, what are you gonna do about it? Will you keep voting for the 217 senators that voted against the Amash Amendment? Will you sit idly by while they undermine the worldwide internet? Will you be distracted by twerks to give a damn?

The rest of the “free” world is waiting for the American people’s response.

PT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

That’s splitting hairs, Mike – we know what he meant.

I wrote to my Congressman asking why he voted against Amash. He sent me a lengthy reply full of weasel phrases like “a substantial amount of misinformation about these programs has been spread, mostly through independent, unaccountable media sources” and “I have twice sworn an oath to preserve, defend, and uphold our Constitution. I take this oath very seriously”. Then at the end he linked to a press release put out by his office –
That he felt obliged to put this out suggests that I was far from the only person to contact him about the matter.

beltorak (profile) says:

Re: My NSA

that’s actually very doable. If you use asymmetric cryptography to encrypt the data with the public key (so the encrypting machine could never be compromised to decrypt the data), and encrypt the private key with another key, you can split that key among (say) 10 people. Then require (say) 7 of them to agree to decrypt the data-key. (this is a good site that explains “secret splitting”.) The only thing I can’t figure out (off the cuff) is how to prevent that data-key from being used outside the bounds of a single warrent, but perhaps using multiple data-keys partitioned into various random buckets would work help….

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