December 8, 2013 No Comments
October 8, 2013 No Comments
Drug Agents Use Vast Phone Trove, Eclipsing N.S.A.’s
By SCOTT SHANE and COLIN MOYNIHAN – 1 September, 2013 – NYT
For at least six years, law enforcement officials working on a counternarcotics program have had routine access, using subpoenas, to an enormous AT&T database that contains the records of decades of Americans’ phone calls — parallel to but covering a far longer time than the National Security Agency’s hotly disputed collection of phone call logs.
The Hemisphere Project, a partnership between federal and local drug officials and AT&T that has not previously been reported, involves an extremely close association between the government and the telecommunications giant.
The government pays AT&T to place its employees in drug-fighting units around the country. Those employees sit alongside Drug Enforcement Administration agents and local detectives and supply them with the phone data from as far back as 1987.
The project comes to light at a time of vigorous public debate over the proper limits on government surveillance and on the relationship between government agencies and communications companies. It offers the most significant look to date at the use of such large-scale data for law enforcement, rather than for national security.
The scale and longevity of the data storage appears to be unmatched by other government programs, including the N.S.A.’s gathering of phone call logs under the Patriot Act. The N.S.A. stores the data for nearly all calls in the United States, including phone numbers and time and duration of calls, for five years.
Hemisphere covers every call that passes through an AT&T switch — not just those made by AT&T customers — and includes calls dating back 26 years, according to Hemisphere training slides bearing the logo of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Some four billion call records are added to the database every day, the slides say; technical specialists say a single call may generate more than one record. Unlike the N.S.A. data, the Hemisphere data includes information on the locations of callers. …more (http://www NULL.nytimes NULL.com/2013/09/02/us/drug-agents-use-vast-phone-trove-eclipsing-nsas NULL.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0)
September 4, 2013 No Comments
September 4, 2013 No Comments
August 30, 2013 No Comments
First 100 Pages of Aaron Swartz’s Secret Service File Released
By Kevin Poulsen -12 August, 2013 – wired
After half-a-year of delays and roadblocks, the U.S Secret Service today released the first 104 pages of agency documents about the late coder and activist Aaron Swartz, including a brief report on Swartz’s suicide less than three months before his scheduled trial.
“On 1/11/13, Aaron Swartz was found dead in his apartment in Brooklyn, as a result of an apparent suicide,” reads a January 17, 2013 Secret Service memo. “A suppression hearing in this had been scheduled for 1/25/13 with a trial date of 4/1/13, in U.S. District Court of the District of Massachusetts.”
In January 2011, Swartz was caught using MIT’s public network to bulk-download 4 million academic articles from the JSTOR archive. MIT had a subscription to the archive that made it free to use from MIT’s campus. The Secret Service was brought into the case early on, and federal prosecutors ultimately charged Swartz with wire fraud and computer hacking.
The heavily redacted documents released today confirm earlier reports that the Secret Service was interested in a “Guerilla Open Access Manifesto” that Swartz and others had penned in 2008. In May 2011, a Secret Service agent and a detective from the Cambridge police department interviewed a friend of Swartz and inquired specifically about the political statement. The friend noted that Swartz and his coauthors “believe that the open access movement is a human rights issue.”
The Secret Service documents also describe the February 11, 2011 search on Swartz’s home in Cambridge that came over a month after Swartz was first arrested and released by local police. “Swartz was home at the time the search was executed,” reads one report. “While the search was conducted, Swartz made statements to the effect of, what took you so long, and why didn’t you do this earlier?”
The documents were released through my ongoing Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security, the Secret Service’s parent agency.
I am the plaintiff in the lawsuit. In February, the Secret Service denied in full my request for any files it held on Swartz. When the agency failed to respond to my administrative appeal, I recruited DC-based attorney David Sobel, and we filed suit.
Last month U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ordered the government to begin releasing the Swartz files on a rolling basis, but then stayed that order to hear arguments from MIT and JSTOR, who are seeking advance review of any documents released. (My lawyer is now talking to their lawyers.) Last week Kollar-Kotelly directed the government to promptly release the 104 pages that have already been reviewed, and which do not reference MIT or JSTOR employees.
The government says it’s identified 14,500 pages of documents for release on a rolling basis. It estimates it will take six months to process them. …more (http://www NULL.wired NULL.com/threatlevel/2013/08/swartz-foia-release/)
August 13, 2013 4 Comments
NSA’s, James Clapper to Head “Independent Spy Review” – Clapper, lied to Congress on Domestic Spying
…what’s going on in our intelligence community, which we now find was very deliberately ignoring parts of the law that they knew perfectly well they were violating,”
Critics both inside and outside Congress have raked Clapper over the coals for a statement made in March to Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR). When asked whether the NSA collected “any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans,” Clapper replied “Not wittingly.” Since a leaked court order showed that the NSA regularly asks for all phone metadata from Verizon, Clapper has equivocated, saying he “simply didn’t think of” the Patriot Act section that allowed for phone metadata collection. In an interview with NBC, he said “I responded in what I thought was the most truthful, or least untruthful manner by saying no,” relying on a semantic definition of “collection” that he at one point referred to as “too cute by half.”…more (http://www NULL.theverge NULL.com/2013/8/2/4582788/lawmakers-say-james-clapper-should-resign-for-lying-to-congress)
Confessed Liar To Congress, James Clapper, Gets To Set Up The ‘Independent’ Review Over NSA Surveillance
by Mike Masnick – 12 August, 2013 – techDirt
Well, this is rather incredible. Remember on Friday how one of President Obama’s efforts to get people to trust the government more concerning the NSA’s surveillance efforts was to create an “outside” and “independent” board to review it all? Specifically, he said:
Fourth, we’re forming a high-level group of outside experts to review our entire intelligence and communications technologies. We need new thinking for a new era. We now have to unravel terrorist plots by finding a needle in the haystack of global telecommunications. And meanwhile, technology has given governments — including our own — unprecedented capability to monitor communications.
So I am tasking this independent group to step back and review our capabilities — particularly our surveillance technologies. And they’ll consider how we can maintain the trust of the people, how we can make sure that there absolutely is no abuse in terms of how these surveillance technologies are used, ask how surveillance impacts our foreign policy — particularly in an age when more and more information is becoming public. And they will provide an interim report in 60 days and a final report by the end of this year, so that we can move forward with a better understanding of how these programs impact our security, our privacy, and our foreign policy.
Okay. Outside, independent. Sure, that might help. Except, that was Friday. Today is Monday. And, on Monday we learn that “outside” and “independent” actually means setup by Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper — the same guy who has already admitted to lying to Congress about the program, and has received no punishment for doing so. This is independent? From this we’re supposed to expect real oversight?!? This is from the letter sent to Clapper:
I believe it is important to take stock of how these technological advances alter the environment in which we conduct our intelligence mission. To this end, by the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I am directing you to establish a Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies (Review Group).
The Review Group will assess whether, in light of advancements in communications technologies, the United States employs its technical collection capabilities in a manner that optimally protects our national security and advances our foreign policy while appropriately accounting for other policy considerations, such as the risk of unauthorized disclosure and our need to maintain the public trust. Within 60 days of its establishment, the Review Group will brief their interim findings to me through the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), and the Review Group will provide a final report and recommendations to me through the DNI no later than December 15, 2013.
In case you didn’t catch that, he’s asking Clapper to first create and set up this “outside” and “independent” review group… and then to have the group report its findings back to Clapper. The same strong defender of the program who flat out lied to Congress about it. If this was about “restoring the trust” of the American people that the government isn’t pulling a fast one over on them, President Obama sure has a funny way of trying to rebuild that trust. This seems a lot more like giving the concerns of the American public a giant middle finger. …more (https://www NULL.techdirt NULL.com/articles/20130812/13512624147/president-asks-confessed-liar-to-congerss-james-clapper-to-set-up-independent-review-committee-over-nsa-surveillance NULL.shtml)
August 13, 2013 No Comments
Rep. Justin Amash: House Intelligence Committee Withheld NSA Documents From Incoming Congressmen
by Tim Cushing – 12 August, 2013 – techDirt
Defenders of the NSA’s program always point to two things: it’s all legal and it’s all subject to oversight. Part of the “oversight” is the FISA “thumbs up” system that has approved every request for two years in a row. The other part of the “oversight” is Congress itself.
Unfortunately, members of Congress have been lied to directly about the extent of the collections occurring under Section 215 (and 702), so that’s one strike against the “oversight.” Now, it appears that members of Congress are being selectively provided with information about the programs.
Rep. Justin Amash, (attempted) NSA defunder, posted this to his Facebook wall last night. It’s a recently declassified document addressed to Mike Rogers and Dutch Ruppersberger. This cover letter accompanied documents detailing the bulk collections authorized by Sections 215 and 402 (pen register/trap and trace). [Click through to enlarge.]
At the beginning of the second paragraph, the cover letter (dated Feb. 2, 2011) notes:
We believe that making this document available to all Members of Congress, as we did with a similar document in 2009, is an effective way to inform the legislative debate about the reauthorization of Section 215.
There’s your “oversight” for you: the assistant attorney general calling for these documents to be shared with all Congress members in order to give them the oversight capabilities NSA spokesmen keep claiming is keeping the agency in check. Except, as Amash points out on his FB page, Mike Rogers and Dutch Ruppersberger never bothered sharing these documents.
Less than two weeks ago, the Obama administration released previously classified documents regarding #NSA’s bulk collection programs and indicated that two of these documents had been made available to all Members of Congress prior to the vote on reauthorization of the Patriot Act. I can now confirm that the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence did NOT, in fact, make the 2011 document available to Representatives in Congress, meaning that the large class of Representatives elected in 2010 did not receive either of the now declassified documents detailing these programs.
It appears the Committee was extremely selective (hence its name?) about who it would share these documents with. Incoming Congress members need not apply.
So, when Feinstein and others greeted the leaks with a shrug and a blase “We’ve known about this for years,” there was probably some truth to those claims. Certain Representatives and Senators knew. Some even tried to warn the public. Still others had no idea, not until the details began appearing, not in security briefings, but at The Guardian and Washington Post.
Maybe the NSA really thought every representative was on the same page. Maybe it knew there were “gaps” in the oversight but didn’t care. Considering its position as the most secretive of intelligence agencies, it probably figured the smaller the loop, the better.
According to this document, it was left in the hands of Mike Rogers and Dutch Ruppersberger to disperse the information to the other members of Congress. And it appears they chose not to.
“Oversight” like this, based on selective inclusion, is a joke — something that affects all Americans is guided into the hands of a chosen few, most of whom wholeheartedly support the NSA’s programs. Mike Rogers continues to mold the “oversight” into his own image, withholding these documents in 2011 and, more recently, denying crucial information on the FISA court and the PRISM program to representatives who wished to use it to get up to speed before the vote on Amash’s NSA-directed amendment.
This isn’t “oversight.” This is Mike Rogers abusing his position to control the narrative and keep the NSA running smoothly, safely hidden away from those tasked with overseeing these surveillance programs. The NSA and its defenders can talk all they want about “oversight,” but this is nothing more than Rogers carving out a fiefdom at the expense of the American public. …more (https://www NULL.techdirt NULL.com/articles/20130811/19404824139/rep-justin-amash-house-intelligence-committee-withheld-nsa-documents-incoming-congressmen NULL.shtml)
August 13, 2013 No Comments
The NSA Is Commandeering the Internet
Bruce Schneier – 12 August, 2012 – The Atlantic
It turns out that the NSA’s domestic and world-wide surveillance apparatus is even more extensive than we thought. Bluntly: The government has commandeered the Internet. Most of the largest Internet companies provide information to the NSA, betraying their users. Some, as we’ve learned, fight and lose. Others cooperate, either out of patriotism or because they believe it’s easier that way.
I have one message to the executives of those companies: fight.
Do you remember those old spy movies, when the higher ups in government decide that the mission is more important than the spy’s life? It’s going to be the same way with you. You might think that your friendly relationship with the government means that they’re going to protect you, but they won’t. The NSA doesn’t care about you or your customers, and will burn you the moment it’s convenient to do so.
We’re already starting to see that. Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and others are pleading with the government to allow them to explain details of what information they provided in response to National Security Letters and other government demands. They’ve lost the trust of their customers, and explaining what they do — and don’t do — is how to get it back. The government has refused; they don’t care.
It will be the same with you. There are lots more high-tech companies who have cooperated with the government. Most of those company names are somewhere in the thousands of documents that Edward Snowden took with him, and sooner or later they’ll be released to the public. The NSA probably told you that your cooperation would forever remain secret, but they’re sloppy. They’ll put your company name on presentations delivered to thousands of people: government employees, contractors, probably even foreign nationals. If Snowden doesn’t have a copy, the next whistleblower will.
This is why you have to fight. When it becomes public that the NSA has been hoovering up all of your users’ communications and personal files, what’s going to save you in the eyes of those users is whether or not you fought. Fighting will cost you money in the short term, but capitulating will cost you more in the long term.
Already companies are taking their data and communications out of the US. …more” target=”_blank”>…more
August 13, 2013 No Comments
Stop and Frisk, Domestic Spy Ops proceed with impunity after illegality exposed, Court rulings against
August 13, 2013 No Comments
Brennan Confirmed as CIA Director – Michael Hastings Killed in Mysterious Crash was a Brennan Target
CIA Director Brennan Confirmed as Reporter Michael Hastings Next Target
By Kimberly Dvorak – 12 August, 2013 – San Diego6
This week Elise Jordan, wife of famed journalist Michael Hastings, who recently died under suspicious circumstances, corroborated this reporter’s sources that CIA Director, John Brennan was Hastings next exposé project (CNN clip).
Last month a source provided San Diego 6 News with an alarming email hacked from super secret CIA contractor Stratfor’s President Fred Burton. The email (link here) was posted on WikiLeaks and alleged that then Obama counter-terrorism Czar Brennan, was in charge of the government’s continued crackdown or witch-hunt on investigative journalists.
After providing the Stratfor email to the CIA for comment, the spymaster’s spokesperson responded in lightning speed. Two emails were received; one acknowledging Hastings was working on a CIA story and the other said, “Without commenting on information disseminated by WikiLeaks, any suggestion that Director Brennan has ever attempted to infringe on constitutionally-protected press freedoms is offensive and baseless.”
The emails also prompted a phone from CIA media spokesman Todd Ebitz. He said they were saddened by Michael’s death and reiterated their position that they had a cordial working relationship with the investigative reporter.
On the other hand, Stratfor, specifically Fred Burton, remains nonresponsive.
As for Hastings’ final story, his wife said Rolling Stone would publish the Brennan piece in an upcoming edition of the magazine.
Was speed a factor?
The release of a new surveillance video from a nearby Italian restaurant by Michael Krikorian, an author, freelance blogger who also writes for LA Weekly, reveals a lot of information about Hastings’ final seconds.
An SDSU professor Morteza M. Mehrabadi, Professor and Interim Chair Areas of Specialization: Mechanics of Materials told San Diego 6 News that calculating the speed of Hastings car follows a simple mathematic equation. By using the video and the distance traveled (195 feet) as well as the seconds that lapsed prior to the explosion – in his opinion, the car was traveling roughly 35 mph.
That revelation is important because Jose, an employee of ALSCO a nearby business, and a witness to the accident told KTLA/Loud Labs (Scott Lane) the car was traveling at a high rate of speed and he saw sparks coming from the car and saw it explode BEFORE hitting the tree.
The pre-explosion could possibly explain the flash of light on the video that preceded the appearance of the car in the video. The pre-explosion and slower speed could also explain the minimal damage to the palm tree and the facts the rear tires rested against the curb. It also provides an explanation for the location of the engine and drive train at more than 100 feet from the tree impact area.
This new information prompted another round of FOIA/CPRAs and only adds to the questions that remain unanswered. One of those questions is where was Mr. Hastings going at 4:30 in the morning? Based on the accident location, Hastings was only 1.5 miles from his home and was headed away from his address.
Other unanswered questions point to the contents (computer, phones, notes, etc.) of his home, so far there has been no response from the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) FOIA request regarding these issues. Also, numerous FOIAs have been filed with other federal agencies concerning details of Hastings suspicious car “accident.” …more (http://www NULL.sandiego6 NULL.com/story/cia-director-brennan-confirmed-as-reporter-michael-hastings-next-target-20130812)
August 13, 2013 No Comments
Writing new firmware for a handheld radio
22 March, 2013 – By Brian Benchoff – Hack-a-Day
When playing around with a cheap, handheld, dual-band radio, [Lior], a.k.a. [KK6BWA], found a schematic for a similar and even cheaper radio. He realized the programming pads were very accessible and the dev tools for the radio’s microcontroller were available from the manufacturer. After these discoveries, there really was only one thing to do: write new firmware for a $40 radio, and making a great tool for playing around in the 2 meter and 70 cm bands.
The instructions for reflashing the firmware on this radio only require an Arduino and a handful of miscellaneous components. [Lior]‘s new firmware for the uv3r radio isn’t quite finished yet, but he plans on adding some really impressive features. Things like a better UI for a four-button radio, a mode for tracking satellites, a digital mode, and a computer-controlled mode are all possible and on [Lior]‘s project wishlist.
Getting a $40 radio to do your bidding with an Arduino is cool enough, but [Lior] says this mod for the uv3r can be taken even further: if you’ve got an amateur radio license, it’s possible to use the uv3r to control an Arduino or other microcontroller from miles away. It’s a great hack, right up there with the USB TV tuner/software defined radio thing we saw almost exactly one year ago.
You can check out a demo of some custom software running on the uv3r after the break. The radio listens for a DTMF tone (supplied by the uv3r’s big brother, the uv5r), and plays back a three-digit DTMF tone. There’s also a more through walk through of what [Lior]‘s new radio can do as well. …more (http://hackaday NULL.com/2013/03/22/writing-new-firmware-for-a-handheld-radio/#more-96585)
August 11, 2013 No Comments
A pink $30 girl’s wireless toy can jam expensive digital radios used by the FBI, Secret Service, and other federal agencies, CNET has learned.
Security flaw found in feds’ digital radios
Declan McCullagh – by Declan McCullagh – 9 August, 2011
Expensive high-tech digital radios used by the FBI, Secret Service, and Homeland Security are designed so poorly that they can be jammed by a $30 children’s toy, CNET has learned.
A GirlTech IMME, Mattel’s pink instant-messaging device with a miniature keyboard that’s marketed to pre-teen girls, can be used to disrupt sensitive radio communications used by every major federal law enforcement agency, a team of security researchers from the University of Pennsylvania is planning to announce tomorrow.
Converting the GirlTech gadget into a jammer may be beyond the ability of a street criminal for now, but that won’t last, says associate professor Matt Blaze, who co-authored the paper that will be presented tomorrow at the Usenix Security symposium in San Francisco. CNET obtained a copy of the paper, which will be made publicly available in the afternoon.
“It’s going to be someone somewhere creating the Project 25 jamming kit and it’ll be something that you download from the Net,” Blaze said. “We’re not there right now, but we’re pretty close.”
Project 25, sometimes abbreviated as P25, is the name of the wireless standard used in the radios, which have been widely adopted across the federal government and many state and local police agencies over the last decade. The plan was to boost interoperability, so different agencies would be able to talk to one another, while providing secure encrypted communications.
The radios aren’t cheap. A handheld Midland P25 Digital sells for $3,295, and scanners are closer to $450.
But federal agents frequently don’t turn encryption on, the researchers found. (Their paper is titled “A Security Analysis of the APCO Project 25 Two-Way Radio System,” and the other authors are Sandy Clark, Travis Goodspeed, Perry Metzger, Zachary Wasserman, and Kevin Xu.)
Here’s an excerpt:
The traffic we monitored routinely disclosed some of the most sensitive law enforcement information that the government holds, including: Names and locations of criminal investigative targets, including those involved in organized crime… Information relayed by Title III wiretap plants…Plans for forthcoming arrests, raids and other confidential operations…
On some days, particularly weekends and holidays, we would capture less than one minute, while on others, we captured several hours. We monitored sensitive transmissions about operations by agents in every Federal law enforcement agency in the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security. Most traffic was apparently related to criminal law enforcement, but some of the traffic was clearly related to other sensitive operations, including counter- terrorism investigations and executive protection of high ranking officials…
To intercept the Project 25 radio communications, the researchers used a high-quality receiver that cost about $1,000 and can be purchased off-the-shelf. But, Blaze said, it’s possible to do it on the cheap: “You can do everything you need with equipment you can buy at Radio Shack… hobbyist-grade equipment.”
Motorola XTS5000 handheld, which uses the Project 25 standard
Motorola XTS5000 handheld, which uses the Project 25 standard
(Credit: University of Pennsylvania)
Blaze said he has contacted the Justice Department and the Defense Department, which also uses Project 25 digital radios. “They are now aware of the problem and are trying to mitigate against it,” he said.
Representatives of the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO), which has championed the Project 25 standard, did not respond to a request for comment this afternoon. Neither did the Telecommunications Industry Association, which maintains the standard.
The University of Pennsylvania researchers did not discover any vulnerabilities in the actual encryption algorithms used in the radios. They also chose not to disclose which agencies were the worst offenders, what cities the monitoring took place in, or what frequencies they found each agency used.
A third vulnerability they found was that each radio contains a unique identifier, akin to a phone number, that is broadcast in unencrypted form. So is the unique ID of the destination radio. That allows an eavesdropper to perform what’s known as traffic analysis, meaning tracking who’s talking to whom.
The reason jamming is relatively easy is that the Project 25 doesn’t use spread spectrum, which puts the would-be jammer at a disadvantage. By contrast, P25 relies on metadata that must be transmitted perfectly for the receiver to make sense of the rest of the communication. A pulse lasting just 1/100th of a second, it turns out, is enough to disrupt the transmission of the metadata.
This isn’t the first time that University of Pennsylvania researchers have taken a critical look at Project 25. Many of the same authors published a security analysis last November, which concluded that it’s “strikingly vulnerable to a range of attacks.”
…more (http://news NULL.cnet NULL.com/8301-31921_3-20090434-281/security-flaw-found-in-feds-digital-radios/)
August 11, 2013 No Comments
Project 25 Digital Radios vulnerable to the IM-ME
18 August, 2011 – By Mike Szczys
Would you believe you can track, and even jam law enforcement radio communications using a pretty pink pager? It turns out the digital radios using the APCO-25 protocol can be jammed using the IM-ME hardware. We’ve seen this ‘toy’ so many times… yet it keeps on surprising us. Or rather, [Travis Goodspeed’s] ability to do amazing stuff with the hardware is what makes us perk up.
Details about this were presented in a paper at the USENIX conference a few weeks ago. Join us after the break where we’ve embedded the thirty-minute talk. There’s a lot of interesting stuff in there. The IM-ME can be used to decode the metadata that starts each radio communication. That means you can track who is talking to whom. But for us the most interesting part was starting at about 15:30 when the presenter, [Matt Blaze], talked about directed jamming that can be used to alter law enforcement behavior. A jammer can be set to only jam encrypted communications. This may prompt an officer to switch off encryption, allowing the attackers to listen in on everything being said to or from that radio. …source (http://hackaday NULL.com/2011/08/18/project-25-digital-radios-law-enforcemnet-grade-vulnerable-to-the-im-me/)
August 11, 2013 No Comments
This is maybe illegal to build and operate in many countries. It is an interesting Radio Theory Project nonetheless
Wave Bubble A design for a self-tuning portable RF jammer
by Adam J. O’Donnell – Cult of the Dead Cow
Two Wavebubbles. Left is an earlier revision with the top removed and with external antennas. Right is v1.0 with internal antennas, fit into a pack of cigarettes.
This website details the design and construction Wave Bubble: a self-tuning, wide-bandwidth portable RF jammer. The device is lightweight and small for easy camouflaging: it is the size of a pack of cigarettes.
An internal lithium-ion battery provides up to 2 hours of jamming (two bands, such as cell) or 4 hours (single band, such as cordless phone, GPS, WiFi, bluetooth, etc). The battery is rechargeable via a mini-USB connector or 4mm DC jack (a common size). Alternately, 3 AAA batteries may also be used.
Output power is .1W (high bands) and .3W (low bands). Effective range is approximately 20′ radius with well-tuned antennas. Less so with the internal antennas or poorly matched antennas.
Self-tuning is provided via dual PLL, therefore, no spectrum analyzer is necessary to build this jammer and a single Wave Bubble can jam many different frequency bands – unlike any other design currently available! To reconfigure the RF bands, simply plug it into the USB port of your PC and type in the new frequencies when prompted. Multiple frequency ranges can be programmed in, each time the device is power cycled it will advance to the next program in memory.
While the documentation here is both accurate and complete (as much as possible), the construction of such a device is still an advanced project. I would not suggest this as even an ‘intermediate’ skill project, considering the large amount of difficult SMT soldering (multiple TSSOP and SOT chips, 0603 RC’s), obscure parts, and equiptment necessary to properly construct and debug.
This design is not for sale or available as a kit and never will be due to FCC regulations. Please do not ask me to assist you in such matters.
All original content for this project is distributed open source under Creative Commons 2.5 Attribution / Share-Alike. …more (http://www NULL.ladyada NULL.net/make/wavebubble/index NULL.html)
August 11, 2013 No Comments
In a bit of fortuitous timing, this week we had asked former deputy chief of staff for Ron Wyden, Jennifer Hoelzer, to do our weekly “Techdirt Favorites of the Week” post, in which we have someone from the wider Techdirt community tell us what their favorite posts on the site were. As you’ll see below, Hoelzer has a unique and important perspective on this whole debate concerning NSA surveillance, and given the stories that came out late Friday, she chose to ditch her original post on favorites and rewrite the whole thing from scratch last night (and into this morning). Given that, it’s much, much more than a typical “favorites of the week” post, and thus we’ve adjusted the title appropriately. I hope you’ll read through this in its entirety for a perspective on what’s happening that not many have.
Insider’s View Of The Administration’s Response To NSA Surveillance Leaks
10 August, 2012 – TechDirt – Jennifer Hoelzer’s
Tim Cushing made one of my favorite points of the week in his Tuesday post “Former NSA Boss Calls Snowden’s Supporters Internet Shut-ins; Equates Transparency Activists With Al-Qaeda,” when he explained that “some of the most ardent defenders of our nation’s surveillance programs” — much like proponents of overreaching cyber-legislation, like SOPA — have a habit of “belittling” their opponents as a loose confederation of basement-dwelling loners.” I think it’s worth pointing out that General Hayden’s actual rhetoric is even more inflammatory than Cushing’s. Not only did the former NSA director call us “nihilists, anarchists, activists, Lulzsec, Anonymous, twenty-somethings who haven’t talked to the opposite sex in five or six years,” he equates transparency groups like the ACLU with al Qaeda.
I appreciated this post for two reasons:
First of all, it does a great job of illustrating a point that I’ve long made when asked for advice on communicating tech issues, which is that the online community is as diverse and varied as the larger world we live in. Of course, we are more likely to come across the marginal opinions of twenty-somethings with social anxiety online because, unlike the larger world, the Internet gives those twenty-somethings just as much of an opportunity to be heard as a Harvard scholar, a dissident protesting for democracy or General Hayden himself.
Sure, it can be infuriating to read scathingly hostile comments written by troubled individuals who clearly didn’t take the time to read the post you spent countless hours carefully writing (not that that has ever happened to me) but isn’t one of the things that makes the Internet so darn special its unwavering reminder that free speech includes speech we don’t appreciate? Of course, that’s a point that tends to get lost on folks — like General Hayden — who don’t seem to understand that equating the entirety of the online world with terrorists is a lot like posting a scathing comment to a story without reading it. You can’t expect someone to treat you or your opinion with respect — online or anywhere else — when you’re being disrespectful. And I can imagine no greater disrespect for the concepts of transparency and oversight than to equate them with the threats posed by terrorist groups like al Qaeda.
But my main reason for singling out Tim’s post this week is that Hayden’s remark goes to the heart of what I continue to find most offensive about the Administration’s handling of the NSA surveillance programs, which is their repeated insinuation that anyone who raises concerns about national security programs doesn’t care about national security. As Tim explains this “attitude fosters the “us vs. them” antagonism so prevalent in these agencies dealings with the public. The NSA (along with the FBI, DEA and CIA) continually declares the law is on its side and portrays its opponents as ridiculous dreamers who believe safety doesn’t come with a price.”
To understand why I find this remark so offensive, I should probably tell you a little about myself. While the most identifying aspect of my resume is probably the six years I spent as U.S. Senator Ron Wyden’s communications director and later deputy chief of staff, I started college at the U.S. Naval Academy and spent two years interning for the National Security Council. I had a Top Secret SCI clearance when I was 21 years old and had it not been for an unusual confluence of events nearly 15 years ago — including a chance conversation with a patron of the bar I tended in college — I might be working for the NSA today. I care very deeply about national security. Moreover — and this is what the Obama Administration and other proponents of these programs fail to understand — I was angry at the Administration for its handling of these programs long before I knew what the NSA was doing. That had a lot to do with the other thing you should probably know about me: during my tenure in Wyden’s office, I probably spent in upwards of 1,000 hours trying to help my boss raise concerns about programs that he couldn’t even tell me about.
Which brings me to my next favorite Techdirt post of the week, Mike’s Friday post entitled “Don’t Insult Our Intelligence, Mr. President: This Debate Wouldn’t Be Happening Without Ed Snowden,” which is a much less profane way of summing up my feelings about the President’s “claim that he had already started this process prior to the Ed Snowden leaks and that it’s likely we would [have] ended up in the same place” without Snowden’s disclosure.
“What makes us different from other countries is not simply our ability to secure our nation,” Obama said. “It’s the way we do it, with open debate and democratic process.”
I hope you won’t mind if I take a moment to respond to that.
Really, Mr. President? Do you really expect me to believe that you give a damn about open debate and the democratic process? Because it seems to me if your Administration was really committed those things, your Administration wouldn’t have blocked every effort to have an open debate on these issues each time the laws that your Administration claims authorizes these programs came up for reauthorization, which — correct me if I am wrong — is when the democratic process recommends as the ideal time for these debates.
For example, in June 2009, six months before Congress would have to vote to reauthorize Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which the Obama Administration claims gives the NSA the authority to collect records on basically every American citizen — whether they have ever or will ever come in contact with a terrorist — Senators Wyden, Feingold and Durbin sent Attorney General Eric Holder a classified letter “requesting the declassification of information which [they] argued was critical for a productive debate on reauthorization of the USA PATRIOT Act.”
In November 2009, they sent an unclassified letter reiterating the request, stating:
“The PATRIOT Act was passed in a rush after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Sunsets were attached to the Act’s most controversial provisions, to permit better-informed, more deliberative consideration of them at a later time. Now is the time for that deliberative consideration, but informed discussion is not possible when most members of Congress – and nearly all of the American public – lack important information about the issue.”
Did President Obama jump at the opportunity to embrace the democratic process and have an open debate then? No. Congress voted the following month to reauthorize the Patriot Act without debate. …more (https://www NULL.techdirt NULL.com/articles/20130810/09240524136/jennifer-hoelzers-insiders-view-administrations-response-to-nsa-surveillance-leaks NULL.shtml)
August 11, 2013 1 Comment
N.S.A. Said to Search Content of Messages to and From U.S.
By CHARLIE SAVAGE – NYT – 8 August, 2013
WASHINGTON — The National Security Agency is searching the contents of vast amounts of Americans’ e-mail and text communications into and out of the country, hunting for people who mention information about foreigners under surveillance, according to intelligence officials.
The N.S.A. is not just intercepting the communications of Americans who are in direct contact with foreigners targeted overseas, a practice that government officials have openly acknowledged. It is also casting a far wider net for people who cite information linked to those foreigners, like a little used e-mail address, according to a senior intelligence official.
While it has long been known that the agency conducts extensive computer searches of data it vacuums up overseas, that it is systematically searching — without warrants — through the contents of Americans’ communications that cross the border reveals more about the scale of its secret operations.
It also adds another element to the unfolding debate, provoked by the disclosures of Edward J. Snowden, the former N.S.A. contractor, about whether the agency has infringed on Americans’ privacy as it scoops up e-mails and phone data in its quest to ferret out foreign intelligence.
Government officials say the cross-border surveillance was authorized by a 2008 law, the FISA Amendments Act, in which Congress approved eavesdropping on domestic soil without warrants as long as the “target” was a non-citizen abroad. Voice communications are not included in that surveillance, the senior official said.
Asked to comment, Judith A. Emmel, an N.S.A. spokeswoman, did not directly address surveillance of cross-border communications. But she said the agency’s activities were lawful and intended to gather intelligence not about Americans but about “foreign powers and their agents, foreign organizations, foreign persons or international terrorists.”
“In carrying out its signals intelligence mission, N.S.A. collects only what it is explicitly authorized to collect,” she said. “Moreover, the agency’s activities are deployed only in response to requirements for information to protect the country and its interests.” …more (http://www NULL.nytimes NULL.com/2013/08/08/us/broader-sifting-of-data-abroad-is-seen-by-nsa NULL.html?)
August 8, 2013 No Comments
Exclusive: U.S. directs agents to cover up program used to investigate Americans
5 August, 2013 – By John Shiffman and Kristina Cooke
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A secretive U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration unit is funneling information from intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a massive database of telephone records to authorities across the nation to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans.
Although these cases rarely involve national security issues, documents reviewed by Reuters show that law enforcement agents have been directed to conceal how such investigations truly begin – not only from defense lawyers but also sometimes from prosecutors and judges.
The undated documents show that federal agents are trained to “recreate” the investigative trail to effectively cover up where the information originated, a practice that some experts say violates a defendant’s Constitutional right to a fair trial. If defendants don’t know how an investigation began, they cannot know to ask to review potential sources of exculpatory evidence – information that could reveal entrapment, mistakes or biased witnesses.
“I have never heard of anything like this at all,” said Nancy Gertner, a Harvard Law School professor who served as a federal judge from 1994 to 2011. Gertner and other legal experts said the program sounds more troubling than recent disclosures that the National Security Agency has been collecting domestic phone records. The NSA effort is geared toward stopping terrorists; the DEA program targets common criminals, primarily drug dealers.
“It is one thing to create special rules for national security,” Gertner said. “Ordinary crime is entirely different. It sounds like they are phonying up investigations.”
THE SPECIAL OPERATIONS DIVISION
The unit of the DEA that distributes the information is called the Special Operations Division, or SOD. Two dozen partner agencies comprise the unit, including the FBI, CIA, NSA, Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Homeland Security. It was created in 1994 to combat Latin American drug cartels and has grown from several dozen employees to several hundred.
Today, much of the SOD’s work is classified, and officials asked that its precise location in Virginia not be revealed. The documents reviewed by Reuters are marked “Law Enforcement Sensitive,” a government categorization that is meant to keep them confidential.
“Remember that the utilization of SOD cannot be revealed or discussed in any investigative function,” a document presented to agents reads. The document specifically directs agents to omit the SOD’s involvement from investigative reports, affidavits, discussions with prosecutors and courtroom testimony. Agents are instructed to then use “normal investigative techniques to recreate the information provided by SOD.”
A spokesman with the Department of Justice, which oversees the DEA, declined to comment.
But two senior DEA officials defended the program, and said trying to “recreate” an investigative trail is not only legal but a technique that is used almost daily.
A former federal agent in the northeastern United States who received such tips from SOD described the process. “You’d be told only, ‘Be at a certain truck stop at a certain time and look for a certain vehicle.’ And so we’d alert the state police to find an excuse to stop that vehicle, and then have a drug dog search it,” the agent said.
After an arrest was made, agents then pretended that their investigation began with the traffic stop, not with the SOD tip, the former agent said. The training document reviewed by Reuters refers to this process as “parallel construction.”
The two senior DEA officials, who spoke on behalf of the agency but only on condition of anonymity, said the process is kept secret to protect sources and investigative methods. “Parallel construction is a law enforcement technique we use every day,” one official said. “It’s decades old, a bedrock concept.”
A dozen current or former federal agents interviewed by Reuters confirmed they had used parallel construction during their careers. Most defended the practice; some said they understood why those outside law enforcement might be concerned.
“It’s just like laundering money – you work it backwards to make it clean,” said Finn Selander, a DEA agent from 1991 to 2008 and now a member of a group called Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, which advocates legalizing and regulating narcotics.
Some defense lawyers and former prosecutors said that using “parallel construction” may be legal to establish probable cause for an arrest. But they said employing the practice as a means of disguising how an investigation began may violate pretrial discovery rules by burying evidence that could prove useful to criminal defendants.
A QUESTION OF CONSTITUTIONALITY
“That’s outrageous,” said Tampa attorney James Felman, a vice chairman of the criminal justice section of the American Bar Association. “It strikes me as indefensible.”
Lawrence Lustberg, a New Jersey defense lawyer, said any systematic government effort to conceal the circumstances under which cases begin “would not only be alarming but pretty blatantly unconstitutional.”
Lustberg and others said the government’s use of the SOD program skirts established court procedures by which judges privately examine sensitive information, such as an informant’s identity or classified evidence, to determine whether the information is relevant to the defense.
“You can’t game the system,” said former federal prosecutor Henry E. Hockeimer Jr. “You can’t create this subterfuge. These are drug crimes, not national security cases. If you don’t draw the line here, where do you draw it?”
Some lawyers say there can be legitimate reasons for not revealing sources. Robert Spelke, a former prosecutor who spent seven years as a senior DEA lawyer, said some sources are classified. But he also said there are few reasons why unclassified evidence should be concealed at trial.
“It’s a balancing act, and they’ve doing it this way for years,” Spelke said. “Do I think it’s a good way to do it? No, because now that I’m a defense lawyer, I see how difficult it is to challenge.”
CONCEALING A TIP
One current federal prosecutor learned how agents were using SOD tips after a drug agent misled him, the prosecutor told Reuters. In a Florida drug case he was handling, the prosecutor said, a DEA agent told him the investigation of a U.S. citizen began with a tip from an informant. When the prosecutor pressed for more information, he said, a DEA supervisor intervened and revealed that the tip had actually come through the SOD and from an NSA intercept.
“I was pissed,” the prosecutor said. “Lying about where the information came from is a bad start if you’re trying to comply with the law because it can lead to all kinds of problems with discovery and candor to the court.” The prosecutor never filed charges in the case because he lost confidence in the investigation, he said.
A senior DEA official said he was not aware of the case but said the agent should not have misled the prosecutor. How often such misdirection occurs is unknown, even to the government; the DEA official said the agency does not track what happens with tips after the SOD sends them to agents in the field.
The SOD’s role providing information to agents isn’t itself a secret. It is briefly mentioned by the DEA in budget documents, albeit without any reference to how that information is used or represented when cases go to court.
The DEA has long publicly touted the SOD’s role in multi-jurisdictional and international investigations, connecting agents in separate cities who may be unwittingly investigating the same target and making sure undercover agents don’t accidentally try to arrest each other. …more (http://mobile NULL.reuters NULL.com/article/idUSBRE97409R20130805?irpc=932&utm_content=buffer8534e)
August 8, 2013 No Comments
TSA Is Making Airport Valets Search Your Trunk
By Dana Liebelson -27 July, 2013
A New York woman who valeted her car at Greater Rochester International Airport recently returned to find a notice on her car informing her that it had been searched without her consent. Furious, she got in touch with a local TV station, and the story went viral. TSA quickly put out a statement saying that its agents don’t search cars—but searches can be included in a TSA-approved security plan. Mother Jones has found that not only does TSA approve searches of the trunks and interior of unattended cars in an undefined perimeter that’s considered dangerously close to the airport—like a car left with valet parking—but if a valet attendant finds illegal drugs instead of bombs, they will call the police. Privacy experts say these searches could be a violation of a person’s Fourth Amendment rights.
“We search every car, we open the trunk and take a look around,” says Saour Merwan, a keymaster at the valet service at San Diego International Airport. “We were told by airport authority to do that, since about two years ago. [We] keep an eye out for something suspicious, like wires and cables. The airport has security regulations and we have to follow them.” Merwan says the service doesn’t inform anyone that they’re checking out the inside of the vehicles, and when asked what he’d do if he found illegal drugs, he says, “Of course we’d call the police.”
“This is exactly what the Fourth Amendment was designed to say the government can’t do, generally search everything without suspicion,” says Fred H. Cate, a professor at the Maurer School of Law at Indiana University. “At the same time, the Supreme Court has made an exception to searching items that you’ve voluntarily given to someone else—like a car. It’s a crazy argument, but that’s not bothered the courts before.”
As David Castelveter, a spokesman for TSA explains, each airport in the United States is required to come up with a TSA-approved plan to deal with security risks. That includes “unattended vehicles parked curbside at the terminal.” Approved measures to deal with that risk can include “searches of cars queued for curbside valet parking.” (Not all airports have valet services, but those that do tend to leave the cars in lots close to the airport.) Mother Jones asked Castelveter whether the definition of “curbside” can include any parking lot close to the airport—including those that may contain locked, non-valet cars—but he said TSA looks at each airport security plan on a “case-by-case basis.” Obviously, valet cars are easier to search than other vehicles, as the valet company has the keys.
“If TSA is made aware that evidence of illegal activity is discovered incidental to a search for explosives, that information will be relayed to law enforcement,” Castelveter adds.
The airports Mother Jones contacted didn’t all handle valet car searches the same way. At the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, valet parking is underneath the terminal, so a security guard does a quick trunk search when the drivers are in the car. The same thing happens at Nashville International and at Logan Airport in Boston. As Richard Walsh, a spokesman for Massachusetts Port Authority explains, “If a driver does not wish to participate in this procedure, he/she will be directed to park in the central garage.” An attendant for the valet at San Francisco International Airport said “yes, we can search” before changing his mind and adding “we just check the outside of the car. We just take down license plates. I’m not allowed to give you an answer.” At Los Angeles International Airport, the valet attendants open the trunk to search for valuables that might be stolen while the person is gone, and list them on a piece of paper, but don’t “look for specific stuff” related to security, according to an attendant. …more (http://www NULL.motherjones NULL.com/politics/2013/07/tsa-car-searches-airport-fourth-amendment)
August 5, 2013 No Comments
NSA paid British spy agency $150 mln in secret funds – new leak
2 Sugust, 2013 – RT
The NSA has made hush-hush payments of at least $150 million to Britain’s GCHQ spying agency over the past three years to influence British intelligence gathering operations. The payouts were revealed in new Snowden leaks published by The Guardian.
The documents illustrate that the NSA expects the UK’s Government Communications Headquarters, known as GCHQ, to act in its interest, expecting a return on the investment, The Guardian said Thursday.
Redevelopments at GCHQ’s site at Bude in southwest England, which alone cost over $20 million, were paid for by the US National Security Agency. The facility intercepts information from transatlantic cables carrying Internet and communications information.
The revelations appear to contradict previous denials from British government ministers that GCHQ does the NSA’s “dirty work.” In addition, the latest Snowden dossier details how British surveillance operations could be a “selling point” for the US.
A document from 2010 cited by The Guardian reveals the nature of the relationship between the two organizations, stating that the US “raised a number of issues with regards to meeting NSA’s minimum expectations” attesting that GCHQ “still remains short of the full NSA ask.”
The documents declare GCHQ’s intent and the extent to which it wants to harvest phone data and Internet traffic, aiming to “exploit any phone, anywhere, any time.”
The daily also reveals the sheer volume of data Britain has increasingly gained access to. Over the past five years, the quantity of available Internet and mobile traffic has increased by 7,000 percent. However 60 percent of UK refined intelligence is still provided by the NSA.
In the course of providing the documents, Snowden repeatedly told the paper that “It’s not just a US problem” and that GCHQ is “worse than the US.”
RAF Menwith Hill base, which provides communications and intelligence support services to the United Kingdom and the U.S. is pictured near Harrogate, northern England (Reuters)
RAF Menwith Hill base, which provides communications and intelligence support services to the United Kingdom and the U.S. is pictured near Harrogate, northern England (Reuters)
Apparently, the British spy agency blamed Russia and China for the overwhelming majority of cyberattacks against the UK and is set on developing new technologies alongside the NSA with the aim of increasing their cyberwarfare capability, according to the report.
Documents detail how the NSA provided GCHQ with $34.8 million in 2009 and $60 million in 2010, with the 2010 sum including $6 million in GCHQ support for NATO forces in Afghanistan. In 2011/12 the NSA paid a further $52.8 to GCHQ.
The leaks show that Britain fears that “US perceptions of the… partnership [could] diminish, leading to loss of access, and/or reduction in investment… to the UK.”
Snowden’s leaks informed the public in June that British spy agency GCHQ has tapped into the global network of communications, storing calls, Facebook posts and internet histories. He detailed how it shares the data with the NSA.
The documents showed that alongside managing 600m phone “events” a day, GCHQ had tapped into over 200 fiber-optic cables and had the capacity to analyze data from over 46 of them at a time. The operation, codenamed “Tempora,” had been going on for around 18 months at the time of the documents’ release.
The cables have the capacity to carry data at 10 gigabits per second, which in theory, means they could deliver up to 21petabytes of information per day. The program is continuing to develop on a daily basis.
Edward Snowden finally left Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport on Thursday, having been granted temporary asylum in Russia after arriving –initially just in transit – in Moscow on June 23. Snowden’s departure took place some 30 minutes before his new refugee status was officially announced. …more (http://rt NULL.com/news/nsa-pay-british-spy-agency-910/)
August 5, 2013 No Comments