Thursday, March 26, 2015

"Five Eyes," Global Spying & Deep State


You can vote for the puppets, but not
for the puppeteers (image source)

by Gaius Publius

On the one hand, this is old news, in the sense that we knew it had to be true anyway. On the other hand, here's yet more evidence that the NSA does indeed, according to one of its own slides, "sniff it all, know it all, collect it all, process it all, exploit it all."

There's a global network of what appears to be both satellite- and cable-sniffing stations, identically outfitted with nearly identical instrumentation, trained on our global communications networks, sniffing it all, collecting it all (etc.) — and sending it all back to the NSA for processing. Five nations are involved in the project — the U.S. and U.K. (natch), plus Canada, New Zealand and Australia. These are the "Five Eyes" mentioned in the report.

Satellite- and cable-sniffing station in New Zealand
preparing to phone home.
Credit: Tim Cuff/
New Zealand Herald/
AP (click to enlarge; source)

There are multiple sources in this reporting — The Intercept, New Zealand's Sunday Star Times, the New Zealand Herald among them. I'm going to quote John Queally's piece in Common Dreams and let you click deeper if you're interested in more. The ultimate source for this is ... Edward Snowden (natch), but there's been followup, especially regarding New Zealand's involvement, which spotlights the entire operation.

Common Dreams (my emphasis):
A new batch of Snowden documents offer[s] an unprecedented look into the close relationship of the surveillance agencies of the so-called "Five Eyes" nations and how a close look at a secretive base in New Zealand reveals new details about a global network of listening stations are operating to fulfill the NSA mantra on communications data which says, "Sniff it all, collect it all, know it all, process it all and exploit it all."

Reported on Saturday by The Intercept in the U.S. and the Sunday Star-Times in New Zealand, the documents offer a detailed look at the "alien-like" station located in Waihopai Valley [of New Zealand] and reveals who and what kind of information the station targets, its inner workings, and how its operations link to an international network of spy facilities run by the other so-called "Five Eyes"—comprised of the intelligence agencies of the U.S., U.K., Canada, New Zealand, and Australia.

With names like "Jackknife," "MoonPenny," "Scapel," and "LadyLove" – the Five Eyes maintain enough listening bases around the world to capture the bulk of the entire planet's digital and telephonic communications.
Here's a look at that network of communications "sniffers":

According to the reporting, each of these bases is relatively identical and all of the information collected at the various sites is sent back to the NSA via a series of databases controlled and monitored by the agency.
Here's what the New Zealand leg of the operation does:

(Click to enlarge; source)

As the source article says, "The documents, provided by US whistleblower Edward Snowden, reveal that most of the targets are not security threats to New Zealand, as has been suggested by the [New Zealand] Government." Note the one long path back to DC and the NSA. And hold that thought about the targets not being security threats. It has other implications.

NSA Is Getting Both Cable and Satellite Data

About my statement at the start, about both satellite- and cable-sniffing, The Intercept says:
Last year, The Intercept reported that the New Zealand agency was planning a secret project to tap into Internet data flowing across undersea cables. The Waihopai base focuses on gathering data and communications from another source — vacuuming them up as they are being transmitted through the air between satellites.  
The New Zealand station is pictured near the top of this piece. Again, these stations are reportedly similarly outfitted with U.S.–supplied equipment.

Deep State and Those "Targets" — Who Else Wants That Spy Data?

So, New Zealand listens to all communications between and among its neighbors. Look at that last image above one more time, then ask yourself — how else could "all communications" within that region be used?  Back to the New Zealand Herald:
GCSB [New Zealand's spy agency] directs its spying against a surprising array of New Zealand's friends, trading partners and close Pacific neighbours.
I think we're starting to sniff out something for ourselves. If the Western world's spy agencies are "collecting it all," that makes those agencies a strong nexus of power in the real world of power (Deep State*), as opposed to the world of power voters imagine exists.

Here's an example of NSA as a node of power in the "network of networks" that comprises Deep State. If NSA has spy data on all FISA and SCOTUS judicial nominees — and there are reports that they do — would they use it just to make sure that NSA-friendly candidates make it through, or also use it to make sure that easily blackmailed candidate get through as well? What would you do if you were the "control it all" freaks running NSA? Would you "stoop" to blackmail? If yes, would you use what you know to set up blackmail opportunities? And if yes yet again, how easy would it be to execute that plan (he asked rhetorically)?

If NSA (an agency of the Pentagon, don't forget) is a node of power in Deep State, there must be others. NSA can't itself be running the country, certainly not alone. There are whole areas it has no interest in. So what about the billionaires — what's their relationship to NSA and Deep State? What's their place in this "network of networks"?

To answer that, go back to New Zealand and its spying. Look one more time at the graphic above. Who in New Zealand would like to get their hands on all that spy data? Remember, these are New Zealand's trading partners being spied on. How about the Big Money people who keep the current New Zealand government in power in the first place? Would they want a look at, even have regular access to, that data?

This isn't an accusation, just a recognition of the existence of a local New Zealand–specific opportunity. Now take that recognition to the U.S. How interested would Big Money be in NSA-collected data, spy data on our own "trading partners" and competitors, if they could get at it regularly? New York banks, let's say; Exxon and Mobil; Apple, Google and Microsoft; Walmart; a host of very-big-money others.

Heck, how about Koch Industries — or Chinese corporate partners (Foxxconn, say) to U.S. firms like Apple. Is NSA helping them? In exchange for what?

Big Money clearly has a controlling hand in how the world is run. That part we can see. Is the nexus of billionaires that comprises Big Money, whether "left-leaning" or "right-leaning" (whatever that even means for the money-obsessed), already working with NSA behind the scenes? If so, how? (And if not, why not? It would be madness, billionaire malfeasance, not to be.)

NSA and Industrial Espionage — Who's Really in Charge of What?

The flow of information can't just be one way — from Microsoft to NSA, for example. After all, NSA and the Five Eyes nations have much they can offer in trade. Is it likely they do engage in these trades, perhaps regularly? The likely answer is: Yes, of course. A cursory look turned up this in the Guardian:
NSA accused of spying on Brazilian oil company Petrobras

Accusations that NSA is conducting intelligence-gathering operations that go beyond its core mission of national security  

The US National Security Agency has been accused of spying on Brazil's biggest oil company, Petrobras, following the release of more files from US whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The latest disclosures, which aired on Brazil's Fantástico news program, have led to accusations that the NSA is conducting intelligence-gathering operations that go beyond its core mission of national security – often cited as the key distinction between the agency and its counterparts in China and Russia.

The revelations are likely to further strain ties between the US and Brazil ahead of a planned state dinner for president Dilma Rousseff at the White House in October. Bileteral relations have already been muddled by the earlier release of NSA files showing the US agency intercepted Brazilian communications and spied on Rousseff and her aides.
Which led Reuters to publish this, quoting Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff:
NSA spying on Petrobras, if proven, is industrial espionage: Rousseff
Reports that the United States spied on Brazilian oil company Petrobras, if proven, would be tantamount to industrial espionage and have no security justification, Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff said on Monday.

Brazil's Globo television network reported on Sunday that the U.S. National Security Agency hacked into the computer networks of Petrobras and other companies, including Google Inc., citing documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

The report came as Brazil is preparing to auction rights to tap some of the largest oil finds in the world in recent decades, deposits trapped under a salt layer off its Atlantic coast. State-run Petrobras, Brazil's largest company and a source of national pride, made the discoveries in recent years and will be a mandatory partner in developing all of the new deep-sea fields.
At some point, all of these dismissible "dirty tricks" add up to a fundamentally different picture of the world than the one we hold.

For example, how about this as a possibility? What if the President doesn't run the U.S. government in any way that matters to the real holders of power (Deep State)? Evidence: A NSA whistleblower said in 2005 on national television that he once had the NSA order to spy on Senator Barack Obama "in his hand." How would such an order be used? Has this revelation been re-reported anywhere that matters? Does knowing about this order change your picture of the "network of networks" that may comprise the real government of the U.S.? I have to say, it does mine.

I'm going to follow this up in the months ahead. It's an interesting world. I have a picture of it that I haven't yet written about, but will.

*Deep State: The part of the government that can’t be touched by the political process (my definition, explained here, or see the cartoon at the top of this piece.)


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At 1:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The dome in that pic of the cable-sniffing station in NZ sure reminds me of Rover from "The Prisoner."

"The Prisoner" came out in 1967, nearly 50 years ago, and it was utterly prescient about the coercive powers of a faceless bureaucracy backed by unaccountable technology.

At 7:59 PM, Blogger ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

At least it's all in the cause of FREEDOM™.

(I.e., corporate profits.)


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