Failures

by Mike Masnick


Filed Under:
couriers, ed snowden, encryption, isis

Companies:
ny times



NY Times Falsely Claims ISIS Is Using Encryption & Couriers Because Snowden

from the like-they-never-thought-of-that-before dept

For quite some time now, the Snowden haters out there keep wanting to prove that Ed Snowden somehow caused damage with his leaks. It's been over two years now and they keep coming up empty. Former Senator and staunch surveillance state supporter Saxby Chambliss was out making claims yesterday about how when the US government "gets our hands on" Snowden, it should "hang him on the courthouse square." Because nothing says "freedom" like convicting someone without a trial and then killing them barbarically, right? But, Chambliss also claimed that "lives have been lost" because of Snowden, ridiculously comparing his leaks to the OPM leaks:
"Just like with Snowden, we’re going to lose American lives as result of this breach."
Going to? It's been two years and no one can point to a single life lost -- so this bit of fearmongering is stretching pretty thin at this point.

But, still, the Snowden fearmongering continues... with an assist from the NY Times. An article by Eric Schmitt and Ben Hubbard, about the latest on ISIS and how it's structured, contains a random nonsensical dig at Snowden:
The Islamic State has also studied revelations from Edward J. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor, about how the United States gathers information on militants. A main result is that group’s top leaders now use couriers or encrypted channels that Western analysts cannot crack to communicate, intelligence and military officials said.
Except that a year ago, an actual study of how these groups communicate showed that they were already using such methods long before Snowden and nothing had changed in the aftermath. That research, by Flashpoint Partners, pointed out among other things:
  • Well prior to Edward Snowden, online jihadists were already aware that law enforcement and intelligence agencies were attempting to monitor them. As a result, the Snowden revelations likely merely confirmed the suspicions of many of these actors, the more advanced of which were already making use of – and developing –secure communications software.
  • The underlying public encryption methods employed by online jihadists do not appear to have significantly changed since the emergence of Edward Snowden.
And, of course, it's been well-known for years that Al Qaeda used couriers and encryption to avoid communications channels that could be easily monitored by the NSA, so it's not like ISIS needed Snowden to reveal what was already known. Here's an article from two months before anyone knew Ed Snowden's name, talking about Al Qaeda adapting to the NSA:
Suddenly al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula was up against the National Security Agency and the Predator drones that can hover out of sight and intercept phone calls.

So it adapted.

It went underground, enduring a monthslong U.S. led bombing campaign. It emerged as a more disciplined and professional organization. It ditched cell phones in favor of walkie-talkies and coded names. Information was passed through intermediaries. If someone needed to send an email, it was shielded by highly sophisticated encryption software.
Anyone who thinks that ISIS suddenly discovered the need for this kind of thing after Snowden is either lying or ignorant. The two NY Times reporters who should know better should never have included that bogus tidbit. It seems to serve no purpose other than to let anonymous government officials spread a lie about Snowden.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Jul 2015 @ 9:34am

    The Kriegsmarine used Encryption Because Snowden

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Jul 2015 @ 10:14pm

      Re:

      Kann ich bestätigen.

      Seriously, the NYT completely hit rock bottom in the credibility department. Every time they write about tech, I cringe hard. And I don't think they are any better on topics where I don't immediately know better.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Agonistes (profile), 21 Jul 2015 @ 9:41am

    I knew Snowden was too good to be true, I'm glad this report came out to so I'm able to inform myself more fully.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      tqk (profile), 21 Jul 2015 @ 12:58pm

      La la la la ...

      I knew Snowden was too good to be true, ...

      Is this a lament that you can no longer blame IS' use of encryption on Snowden, or what exactly?!?
      I'm glad this report came out to so I'm able to inform myself more fully.

      Yes, please do that. Thank you for your diligent efforts in pursuit of the truth.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Agonistes (profile), 21 Jul 2015 @ 1:51pm

        Re: La la la la ...

        Did I go too heavy on the sarcasm, just chill out man we're most likely on the same page...sic someone else.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          tqk (profile), 21 Jul 2015 @ 4:16pm

          Re: Re: La la la la ...

          I guess I missed that it was sarcasm. No offense intended. I often take things way more seriously than I really ought to. Watching the NYT (!!!) spout propaganda and pathetically shallow and easily disproved lies is pretty depressing.

          Carry on. Have fun!

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    johnvanvliet (profile), 21 Jul 2015 @ 10:09am

    NY Times

    at almost 50 i am a bit too young to have lived through the McCarthy era hearings and "pink/red" scare

    but if you replace : Snowden,Al Qaeda.ISIS, Terrorists,...
    and so on with----
    "pinko", "commy", "Red Menace" , and so on

    it is the SAME news stories as from the 50's

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      tqk (profile), 21 Jul 2015 @ 1:14pm

      Re: NY Times

      ... it is the SAME news stories as from the 50's

      Pretty much, though to be fair:

      i) the Soviets had actual nukes
      ii) the plans for which were stolen and smuggled to them by Soviet sympathizers (Rosenbergs)
      iii) which was a lie because there were Soviet sympathizers in the Manhattan Project. They didn't need the Rosenbergs' crappy drawings.

      However, tell a lie often enough and many people will start to believe it's true. The best part for them is old people who know better die, and young gullible and ignorant kids replace them constantly, so they can use this ruse over and over again, ad infinitum.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Jul 2015 @ 3:37pm

      Re: NY Times

      The cycle keeps going

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Jul 2015 @ 10:10am

    So as sophisticated as they claim these terrorists are, where they have these incredible capabilities to harm us, both at home and abroad, we're expected to believe they *only* started using encryption because of the Snowden leaks?

    Yeah, I'm calling bullshit on that one.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      uberfrood (profile), 21 Jul 2015 @ 1:38pm

      Re:

      They think terrorists are too stupid to scout out the subways to see if the cops have put up a checkpoint before taking in anything sensitive.
      Of COURSE they think they're too stupid to use encryption.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Michael, 21 Jul 2015 @ 10:13am

    I, for one, am glad to see someone reinvigorating the courier industry. They, like popcorn farmers, have been on the brink of destruction for far too long and something needed to be done.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Jul 2015 @ 10:19am

    So we live in bizarro world where people know what methods "ISIS" uses, but not the extent of NSA / Google spying?

    For some, Snowden only confirmed that NSA has "direct access" into Google and other major "info" corporations.

    "ISIS" popped up out of nowhere with not just secure communications, but enough soldiers, supplies, and organization to defeat established armies. Weird, huh?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      tqk (profile), 21 Jul 2015 @ 1:23pm

      Re: So we live in bizarro world where people know what methods "ISIS" uses, but not the extent of NSA / Google spying?

      Um, except for the part about the CIA (and Israelis and Saudis) arming the Syrian rebels in attempting to destabilize the Assad regime and piss off the Iranians. I guess the CIA just forgot to tell the administration what they'd been up to. Yeah, that's it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Jul 2015 @ 10:20am

    So we live in bizarro world where people know what methods "ISIS" uses, but not the extent of NSA / Google spying?

    For some, Snowden only confirmed that NSA has "direct access" into Google and other major "info" corporations.

    "ISIS" popped up out of nowhere with not just secure communications, but enough soldiers, supplies, and organization to defeat established armies. Weird, huh?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Jul 2015 @ 10:20am

    dial up

    I took a workshop on the internet at the public library about 25 years ago, and the two lawyers giving the workshop said that the internet wasn't private, as it was operated by the Department of Defense. This was in the days of dial-up, when you could only get through on the local free-access at lunch time, and this by dialing numerous times to get through.

    So Snowden's revelations were about 25 years old or more.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 23 Jul 2015 @ 9:53am

      Re: dial up

      The DoD stopped operating the internet about the time that it stopped being called ARPAnet, well before the general public could connect to it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Jul 2015 @ 10:21am

    you know who else used cryptography/encryption?

    Literally Hitler, Snowden confirmed for Nazi encryption methods!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Jul 2015 @ 10:25am

    One might think that a drone strike at a clandestine location might have maybe, just maybe, "confirmed the suspicions." I doubt the "OMG, we're being spied on" revelation came to them when The Guardian published their story.

    Next thing you know, they will start speaking in a language other than English or writing non-Latin letters. Sneaky bastards.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DannyB (profile), 21 Jul 2015 @ 10:38am

    Osama Bin Laden loaded with high tech gadgets

    Prior to Snowden I don't think Bin Laden was using high tech. He already knew to use couriers. Avoid high tech gadgets.

    When he was finally caught, he lived isolated, in a compound, with very carefully controlled access to the outside world. They burned their trash.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Jul 2015 @ 10:43am

    is there any chance, please Mike, that you could dig back a bit and find the last TRUE STORY that was reported in the NYT? it must have been quite some time ago, i would think!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Loki, 21 Jul 2015 @ 11:00am

    Personally I thinks it's Rediculous that they want us to believe that Snowden was such a genius that he was the only person capable of accessing all this information and that nobody thought to do it before him.

    Newsflash: Snowden making this public just showed the common people what information was al ready out there. The government u s by mad that Snowden made them less secure but that it sHowes the average person just how insecure they really were.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Derek Kerton (profile), 21 Jul 2015 @ 11:51am

      Re:

      "they want us to believe that Snowden was such a genius that he was the only person capable"

      Who is they? Nobody claims this.

      Snowden was one of many who had access to the data. But he was the only one with the integrity to sacrifice his well-being and freedom so that the people could know what its government was doing. THAT is why only he came forward.

      "nobody thought to do it before him"

      Many probably did. But when you think about it, you think "Oh, shit, I will lose my job. What else? Hmmm...My boss tells me it's OK, just shut up. I have reported constitutional violations, but senior people told me to just carry on. If I leak it, my own government will come after me, possibly to kill me. I will be a pariah in my own country. Many will paint me as a villain. Everyone will search all my past for any vices and publicize them. I will never be safe, never return to my home."

      Is it a surprise it takes a hero to choose the constitutional option?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Hal, 21 Jul 2015 @ 11:15am

    Yeah, but....

    Regardless of what ISIS probably didn't learn from Snowden, a huge amount of the stuff he made public had nothing to do with mass data collection or spying on average citizens. I don't understand why he wasn't more selective in his leaks if he was just trying to promote privacy/security and not, you know, working for the Russians or something.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      tqk (profile), 21 Jul 2015 @ 1:44pm

      Re: Yeah, but....

      I don't understand why he wasn't more selective in his leaks if he was just trying to promote privacy/security and not, you know, working for the Russians or something.

      You do remember he was marooned in a Russian airport for some time after the US revoked his passport, yes? If he was working for the Russians, why wouldn't they have feted him with a parade and medals for his services to mother Russia against the main adversary (USA)?

      Which leaks are those that Snowden should have been more selective about?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      JMT (profile), 21 Jul 2015 @ 7:14pm

      Re: Yeah, but....

      Note that's it's never been Snowden who decided what to publicly release and when, but the journalists he entrusted the data to. They've spent a lot of time going though it all to decide what should and shouldn't be publicized, so any criticism about that info should be directed at them.

      And at this point it's pretty safe to laugh out loud at anyone suggesting he's working for Russia.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Hal, 21 Jul 2015 @ 11:15am

    Yeah, but....

    Regardless of what ISIS probably didn't learn from Snowden, a huge amount of the stuff he made public had nothing to do with mass data collection or spying on average citizens. I don't understand why he wasn't more selective in his leaks if he was just trying to promote privacy/security and not, you know, working for the Russians or something.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Derek Kerton (profile), 21 Jul 2015 @ 11:46am

      Re: Yeah, but....

      If he were working for the Russians, Why TF would he have leaked anything at all. He would have just handed it to the Russians, and given them a monopoly on the information. Information is power, right?

      Who DID he give the information to? The People. Power to the people? Hmmm. Sounds like a hero to me.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Personanongrata, 21 Jul 2015 @ 11:26am

    NYT's is for Bird Droppings

    Snowden and Manning 2016.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Derek Kerton (profile), 21 Jul 2015 @ 11:44am

    Nobody's Looking

    "Going to? It's been two years and no one can point to a single life lost"

    Well, maybe that's just because nobody's really trying that hard to pin anything on Snowden. Absence of proof isn't proof of absence.

    (written with a hearty dose of sarcasm)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Jul 2015 @ 11:54am

      Re: Nobody's Looking

      >nobody's really trying that hard to pin anything on Snowden
      What makes you think that?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      DannyB (profile), 21 Jul 2015 @ 12:44pm

      Re: Nobody's Looking

      It is possible that the government has tried very hard to pin something on Edward* Snowden. After all, they'll spend a million dollars to collect if you owe them 25 cents.

      The fact that they haven't trumped out some damaged he caused is quite telling. After all, Snowden said he had been careful. (unlike Wikileaks)

      (*or "Eric" Snowden depending on which government official you listen to)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Roger Strong (profile), 21 Jul 2015 @ 12:46pm

    If I May Use the Word "Synergy"...

    ....ridiculously comparing his leaks to the OPM leaks:

    Snowden's leaks merely confirmed what competent foreign security officials had to assume was happening regardless, and had to guard against regardless. That confirmation wouldn't change much.

    The OPM leak is far scarier: It's all about the people, the weakest link in any security scheme. And now China (and whoever they trade the data to) knows who they are, and thanks to the financial data, specifically who to target. That changes a lot.

    Now add in the AshleyMadison leak, 37 million registered users exposed. You can bet that the Chinese and others are cross-referencing the two datasets to see who has a security clearance AND is cheating on their spouse. Or who is married to someone with a security clearance, and is cheating or being cheated on. Sorted by financial difficulty information.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Jul 2015 @ 1:22pm

      Re: If I May Use the Word "Synergy"...

      Snowden's leaks merely confirmed what competent foreign security officials had to assume was happening regardless, and had to guard against regardless.

      It is more likely that they already had their own copies of the Snowden documents and more, given the problems that the NSA had in even working out what Ed Snowden took.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Seegras (profile), 22 Jul 2015 @ 3:42am

      OPM

      The NSA whistleblowing mostly uncovered criminal behaviour of a government agency. Actually things the people have a need and a right to know. It's about a government body doing bullshit. And it's totally irrelevant whether "damage" is being done. As a comparison: You can talk all day about "damage" to your scamming operation when you get outed.

      The OPM hack on the other hand, THAT is really bad. There's no data there the public needs know. There's no revelation of criminal behaviour on the side of OPM not related to the hack (and related to the hack it's probably mostly "negligence"). Of course there might be rather criminal behaviour of the government or other agencies involved, but you can't really blame the OPM for:
      - Needing to screen way too many people because some idiots classify everything, so a lot of people need clearance to get their work done.
      - Other government agencies hoarding zero-day exploits which might have been found independently by the perpetrators and used against them.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    tqk (profile), 21 Jul 2015 @ 12:52pm

    How time flies when you're having fun.

    It's been two years and no one can point to a single life lost ...

    Isn't it odd that the NY Times readership can be so easily, and repeatedly, lied to yet they still get away with it?

    On another note, Saxby Chambliss?!? Can you imagine growing up with a name like that? I can well imagine the school bullies reaction hearing that name for the first time. I expect he's still having nightmares about what they put him through. What were his parents thinking? Were they hoping he'd grow up to be a sociopathic liar? Isn't that child abuse?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Jul 2015 @ 1:28pm

    This just proves the NY Times will happily spew US government propaganda - rather than doing any proper journalism.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    uberfrood (profile), 21 Jul 2015 @ 1:35pm

    Once again start with the assumption that terrorists are stupid

    They have to assume that terrorists are stupid and it would never occur to them to protect their communications if Snowden leaked the fact that the government was listening on the line...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 21 Jul 2015 @ 1:55pm

      Re: Once again start with the assumption that terrorists are stupid

      Yup, gotta love those conflicting attributes they seem to apply to terrorist groups.

      Smart enough to be a significant threat to anyone, anywhere, but too stupid to know that communicating their plans over an unencrypted medium is a bad idea.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Jul 2015 @ 2:22pm

    J.?

    The NYT screwed up trying to paint Snowden as getting people killed:

    Killers are always referred to by their full names: Lee Harvey Oswald, John Wayne Gacy, Mark David Chapman, Edward James Olmos (I assume... rules is rules).

    Fictional characters are the ones that get a middle initial "J.": Rocket J. Squirrel, Abraham J. Simpson, Philip J. Fry, Elmer J. Fudd, Stephen J. Gould (no real person could like baseball that much).

    On a related note, initial initials seem to be reserved for corrupt government employees: J. Edgar Hoover, G. Gordon Liddy, uh... E. Gary Gygax?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Jul 2015 @ 2:23pm

    It is not news that the so called terrorists were aware their communications were being monitored. This didn't just start with Snowden. Recall Bin Laudin, who for purposes of security would not connect to the internet at his residence. Instead he would send a messenger with a thumb drive somewhere else to put his messages on line. That's awareness that messages should not come from the source because of monitoring. It was a simple solution that bogged the intelligence community down with being unable to find him and it happened long before Snowden arrived on the scene.

    They were already aware of the lack of security in their messages. Likewise they were already aware of their cell phone chips being monitored to target them. When they mixed the chips up and redistributed them to family and acquaintances, lots of innocents got blown up by mistake before the drone targeters caught on. Again showing they were aware and took steps to hide their communications. Again happening before Snowden.

    So is it any surprise that terrorists now aware would come to the answer of encryption? It didn't take a Snowden at all.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    avideogameplayer, 21 Jul 2015 @ 6:38pm

    ISIS could've been using carrier pigeons and Snowden would STILL get blamed...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Jul 2015 @ 6:46pm

    The only people that didn't realize the NSA was snooping on their communications were the American public.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    GEMont, 22 Jul 2015 @ 11:15am

    Just following orders... patriotism to go.

    "It seems to serve no purpose other than to let anonymous government officials spread a lie about Snowden."

    More likely, it was in response to an NSA "request", in the form of "do this and here's a check for $XXXXX.00", or possibly the more familiar "do this and we'll won't continue the investigation of you and your family" type of brown envelope, delivered in the dead of night.

    Modern "journalists" have to do so much more than simple journalism to advance their careers these days.

    ---

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      tqk (profile), 22 Jul 2015 @ 12:41pm

      Re: Just following orders... patriotism to go.

      Modern "journalists" have to do so much more than simple journalism to advance their careers these days.

      I think it would be more honest to deny that what they're doing is journalism. This's a gov't sponsored press release in the guise of journalism. Maybe this is payment for letting James Risen off the hook, but I doubt it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        GEMont, 23 Jul 2015 @ 2:05pm

        Re: Re: Just following orders... patriotism to go.

        "...more honest to deny that what they're doing is journalism."

        The very first thing any invading force does, is take over the national media, and replace journalism with propaganda.

        Whatever you may call it, it is the future of the Press, and all American information media, because it "tells it like THEY want it", and once the internet is dead, stops folks from telling it like it is to all and sundry.

        Its actually sort of comical that people continue to make believe that fascists are NOT running the show in the US.

        I realize that the notion is scary, but pretending otherwise is exactly the reaction fascism has always needed to continue and escalate its control.

        Its like watching someone get pushed towards a cliff and their reaction is always to take a leap backwards toward that same cliff to avoid being pushed.

        This is exactly why the Internets must be corralled and controlled by the corporations through legislation - to put an end to the possibility of the truth leaking out and insure a fully uninformed and easily manipulated public resource - or feedstock, more properly.

        I can now understand how fascism has managed to always work its magic unfettered throughout history, like a fungus that settles on a dying nation to suck out the last of its life and help it along towards oblivion.

        Its not that its not obvious - every single article posted here about the government and its agents continually points to fascism as the most likely single cause - its simply that the people being infected by the disease, do not want to admit that the disease exists where they live, and do not want especially, to admit that they have caught it.

        C'est la vie eh! :)

        ---

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Jul 2015 @ 3:01pm

    "shielded by highly sophisticated encryption software" :D

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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