Skip to comments.A TRAITOR, AN EAVESDROPPER, AND A MORAL DILEMMA
Posted on 06/15/2013 2:08:07 PM PDT by Lazamataz
Earlier this year, Edward Snowden went to The Guardian, who then published an article on June the 6th that had numerous damning revelations about the National Security Agency.
Edward Snowden broke an oath he had sworn, and revealed that the NSA had committed acts of domestic espionage far beyond anything most people had ever suspected. He revealed that data about the phone calls of millions of Americans, the entire customer base of Verizon, had been collected and stored in perpetiuty. Experts concluded that the same records were likely collected and stored by the NSA, from most or all of the other telephone carriers.
There are no white-hat-wearing good guys in this story.
Edward Snowden violated an oath of secrecy. Some, including the Speaker of the House John Boehner, have called him a traitor. While I cannot go that far, I do consider his actions unacceptable and unethical.
Yet the NSA has systematically violated the privacy of almost every American who use the telephone. These actions are also unacceptable and highly unethical.
And therein lies the moral dilemma. It seems there is no one to root for in this story. On one hand, we have a man who violated his personal integrity and his oath; and on the other, we have an agency who has overstepped the boundaries most Americans find tolerable with regards to privacy.
Few phone calls were listened to, although a small number were. However, much information can be gleaned by a complete record of who a person calls, and how often, and when. This information should never be collected or kept, unless a warrant is issued for a particular person and for a specific law enforcement reason. While a warrant is rumored to have been issued, if it exists, it was done in secret and it is unacceptably broad. It covers all Americans, even the vast majority who are not under suspicion. It amounts to a fishing expedition. It is not how America is supposed to operate.
These actions by the NSA are violations of all of our privacy, on a grand scale, remind us of nothing so much as the East German Stasi -- that secret-police group in the formerly Communist state that kept tabs on the entire population to ferret out the few lovers of freedom and free markets.
Snowden has said a few things about his revelations:
While the actions of Edward Snowden were underhanded and immoral, the actions of our government were even more so -- simply because of the scale and the number of people affected.
There is an underreported aspect to the story of the NSA intercepts: Text messages and electronic text communications are kept in their entirity. This means that if you have sent a password or a credit card via electronic media of nearly any flavor, it now sits in the data centers of the National Security Agency. Furthermore, the ability and the opportunity to abuse this information against political opponents is huge, and this administration has already demonstrated a great propensity to target its political opposition with any tool at their disposal (c.f., the targetting of 'Tea Party' and "Patriotic" 501-c political action organizations).
Congress must rein the NSA in. The President has already said he won't, and the Democrat-controlled Senate cannot be counted on to do the right thing.
Thank you, kind sir. Your observations are spot-on.
I NEED COOKIES!
True. However, it is not unlawful to have someone sign a contract not to share national secrets. The secrets turned out to be horrific, in this case, but the contract was lawful.
Snowden committed a crime that pales in comparison to the (unfortunately legal) criminality of the NSA.
Ultimately, we the people have a right to know what is being done on our behalf. I’ll choose daylight and freedom over security.
Why sure I believe Snowjob is in China.
Canivore, Echelon, Hippa. You never heard of these?
Not taking a swipe at you. A question.
>> In 2013 the facts come out that the bad guys have been scarfing data for years.. and we should be newly pissed about it TODAY?
Obamacare will be far worse than anything the NSA could tap and reveal. Furthermore, at least the NSA is a body of intelligent individuals unlike the mindless bureaucrats we should expect to manage Obamacare.
Yeah, so do I. I’m tryin’ to cut back ... if I bake ‘em I eat ‘em. The expression ‘little round man’ is starting to sound like a BOLO in my ear.
Laz, I would imagine the moral dilemma over Edward Snowden and his actions could be likened to the Founding Fathers.
They broke the law too, but they felt they answered to a Higher Power, and that liberty for them and unborn generations was worth more than life.
Many of the firebrands of the American Revoultion were clergymen, so the whole moral dilemma matrix is nothing new.
I come down on the side of applauding Mr. Snowden’s actions.
Our government exceeded the bounds of its authority, knowingly, willingly, and multiple times, without regard to our Constitutional rights or legal limits put in place by law.
Further amplifying this theme is the following article from today, show that the NSA can listen in on our phone calls on an anlayst’s whim, warrants be damned:
Lead paragraph from the source article:
“The National Security Agency has acknowledged in a new classified briefing that it does not need court authorization to listen to domestic phone calls.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, disclosed this week that during a secret briefing to members of Congress, he was told that the contents of a phone call could be accessed “simply based on an analyst deciding that.”
Note also this chilling paragraph from the source article:
“Earlier reports have indicated that the NSA has the ability to record nearly all domestic and international phone calls — in case an analyst needed to access the recordings in the future. A Wired magazine article last year disclosed that the NSA has established “listening posts” that allow the agency to collect and sift through billions of phone calls through a massive new data center in Utah, “whether they originate within the country or overseas.” That includes not just metadata, but also the contents of the communications.
William Binney, a former NSA technical director who helped to modernize the agency’s worldwide eavesdropping network, told the Daily Caller this week that the NSA records the phone calls of 500,000 to 1 million people who are on its so-called target list, and perhaps even more. “They look through these phone numbers and they target those and that’s what they record,” Binney said.”
The drip, drip, drip technique of disclosures in now in effect.
If this government would purposely use the IRS top target political thought it did not agree with, there is no question it would use telephony and internet data against its perceived enemies as well.
The real moral dilemma is not about Edward Snowden.
The real moral dilemma is whether we understand that it is time to install new guards for our liberties, since the present ones have proven tyrannical, and what we are going to do about it.
I’m not convinced by your argument, Laz.
He exposed numerous crimes and civil rights violations by the NSA fascists and the Marxist obuma administration against you and me. That trumps any oath to secrecy. In fact, if you look through the whistleblower legislation, he did the right thing. He’s a hero.
Sorry, I think your analysis is wrong.
As it stands now, what Snowden did doesn’t affect me negatively. That could change.
However, what the government has been doing through NSA and other agencies has affected me negatively.
Therefore, I stand in support of Snowden at this time.
Snowden broke his oath of secrecy to keep his greater oath to keep and uphold the US Constitution.
Whistle blower Snowden is a hero.
The MFers who consider teapartiers, patriots and Christians enemies of the state are the only bad guys here.
You know damn well if the IRS has it in for us so do the rest of this POS administration.
Around the same time as this story broke the Holder shitheads were spouting off how talking smack about islam was punishable.
Righteousness and evil are very clear to me here. Black and white, no gray.
Yours is the single most salient, cogent point on this thread -- my article included.
so i reckon the info he released, that the agency[ies] has willfully broken the law of the Constitution, is "classified" and not to be shared beyond said agency ???
kinda like cops not snitchin on each other for pocketing dope and cash ??? for info laz, what kind of *secrecy* clause is in yer contract ???
There’s a big difference between horrific and illegal. If what the NSA is doing is illegal, then it’s another kettle of fish.
Your comment rendered me speechless, so I will just say a heartfelt “thank you”.
Yes, and thus the moral dilemma.
kinda like cops not snitchin on each other for pocketing dope and cash ??? for info laz, what kind of *secrecy* clause is in yer contract ???
I am not to reveal passwords to databases or applications, methods of programmatic security, programmatic code or database design, the layout of the architecture (network or programmatic), nor details about the facility I work in or the campus on which it sits. I honor that promise and contract.
when you are good, it borders great and dips excellence
If the NSA collected information from around the world, and didn't disseminate it to parties who needed it, then there would be no need for the NSA. But it would put our armed forces at a constant disadvantage.
My suspicion is that Snowden took compartmented information that was unrelated to the work he was performing and for which he did not have the "need to know." In addition to information regarding the domestic gathering of phone records, he may have taken information regarding foreign operations. And THAT is the type of thing that we should all lose sleep over.
That is a beautifully presented, well thought out editorial piece, Lazamataz. Great job!
Thank you pooky!
Well observed, Alamo-Girl. I hope you continue to provide these wonderful insights on my future editorial threads.
Thank you so much! :)
You are sooo kind to me, dear Laz, I have little to add and yet you encourage me. Thank you!
To safeguard the privacy of innocent persons, the interception of wire or oral communications where none of the parties to the communication has consented to the interception should be allowed only when authorized by a court of competent jurisdiction and should remain under the control and supervision of the authorizing court.
Nothing contained in this chapter or Section 605 of the Communications Act of 1934 shall limit the constitutional power of the President to take such measures as he deems necessary to protect the Nation against actual or potential attack or other hostile acts of a foreign power, to obtain foreign intelligence information deemed essential to the security of the United States, or to protect national security information against foreign intelligence activities. Nor shall anything contained in this chapter be deemed to limit the constitutional power of the President to take such measures as he deems necessary to protect the United States against the overthrow of the Government by force or other unlawful means, or against any other clear and present danger to the structure or existence of the Government.
Upon an application made under section 3122 of this title, the court shall enter an ex parte order authorizing the installation and use of a pen register or a trap and trace device within the jurisdiction of the court if the court finds that the attorney for the Government or the State law enforcement or investigative officer has certified to the court that the information likely to be obtained by such installation and use is relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation.
A telecommunications carrier shall ensure that its equipment, facilities, or services are capable of expeditiously isolating and enabling the government, pursuant to a court order or other lawful authorization, to intercept, to the exclusion of other communications, all wire and electronic communications carried by the carrier within a service area to or from equipment [and] to access call-identifying information.
Currently, all Internet wiretaps using the Carnivore system begin with an FBI investigation. As with any wiretap, the FBI requires its investigators to ask for permission. According to the Illinois report, the process the FBI follows to obtain a wiretap is as follows:
--For a full mode wiretap only
· A case agent in an investigation determines a wiretap may be needed.
· The agent contacts the FBIs Chief Division Counsel (CDC), familiar with statutory requirements.
· The agent contacts a Technically Trained Agent (TTA); an experienced Special Agent with advanced training.
· After consulting with the CDC, the TTA, and with field office supervisors, the case agent will determine if the wiretap is required.
--For a pen register wiretap only
· The case agent requests pen-register surveillance in writing, with a justification for necessity.
--Then, for either full mode or pen mode
· FBI shows a judge the relevance of the information sought to the investigation.
· FBI shows a judge why traditional enforcement methods are insufficient.
· FBI must submit request with information such as target internet service provider (ISP), e-mail address, etc.
· This process may take up to 4-6 months.
At this point, two court orders are issued; one that authorizes the intercept, and a second, which directs the ISP to cooperate with the investigation. After receiving a court order, the FBI begins conversations with the target ISP. Carnivore is deployed when:
· The ISP cannot narrow sufficiently the information retrieved to comply with the court order.
· The ISP cannot receive sufficient information.
· The FBI does not want to disclose information to the ISP, as in a sensitive national security investigation.
Let's get on a big boat with a huge net and go fishing!
If it is deemed necessary, a Carnivore computer is taken from FBI headquarters and brought to the ISP. The TTA takes responsibility for the installation of the system, for configuration of the system based on the court order, and for securing the work area at the ISP. After this, the TTAs work is done; the TTA does not receive or complete minimization on any of the information collected by Carnivore.
At this point, the case agent can retrieve the intercepted information remotely as it is received by Carnivore, or he can await the information on the Jaz disk from the computer.
The hardware components of the Carnivore system are:
1) a one-way tap into an Ethernet data stream;
2) a general purpose computer to filter and collect data;
3) one or more additional general purpose computers to control the collection and examine the data;
4) a telephone link to connect the additional computer(s) to the collection computer.
Figure 2: Carnivore Hardware Architecture
One Way Tap
The connection from the filtering/collection computer to the ISP's network is a third-party one-way tap. The device, called the Century Tap, is produced by Shomiti Systems. The one-way tap is placed between a link from a switch to a subnet, as illustrated in the figure above.
The configuration reported in the Illinois report only works for standard Ethernet. Although the tap is capable of being used with full-duplex Ethernet, the researchers at the IITRI have determined that the presence of collisions could cause packet loss, or even the capture of wrong packets. In full duplex mode, this problem is exacerbated by increased throughput.
The computer which resides at the ISP is a Pentium-class PC installed with a 2 GB Jaz Drive, a standard 10/100 Mbps Ethernet adapter, a modem, Windows NT, and the software package pcAnywhere, produced by Symantec. It connects to the one-way tap through its Ethernet adapter. It connects to an outside control/examination computer through a modem using a special telephone link. According to the Illinois report, the computer is installed without a monitor or keyboard.
Any computer may act as a control/examination computer, so long as it has installed on it: pcAnywhere, the DragonWare package including CoolMiner and Packeteer, a modem, and the proper keys and passwords to access the Windows NT administrator account, pcAnywhere, and the telephone link.
The filtering/collection computer communicates with the control/examination computer through a telephone line, which is installed especially for its use. The telephone line is protected by third-party devices from Computer Peripheral Systems, Inc; (CPSI) from their line of Challenger Security Products (CSP). The protection devices come in pairs; a Lock is a device attached to the phone line on the end of the filtering/collection computer, and a Key is another device attached to the phone line on the end of the many control/examination computer being used.
Figure 3: Carnivore Advanced Menu
"Carnivore software is a component of a software suite called DragonWare written by the FBI. The other components of DragonWare are Packeteer and CoolMiner, two additional programs that reconstruct e-mail and other Internet traffic from the collected packets." The software will be examined in two ways, first its functionality, and second its architecture.
Carnivore's functionality can be broken up into 3 areas: Filtering, Output, and Analysis.
The filtering system provided with the software is intended to take the large amounts of data passing through the tapped network stream and prevent the unwanted data from being stored. The software provides the user many different options for filtering and the combination of filters:
Can choose a range of IP addresses.
If not in fixed IP mode, one can choose to include packets from in either Radius or DHCP mode.
One can choose to include packets from TCP, UDP, and/or ICMP in either Full mode, Pen mode, or none.
One can include packets that contain arbitrary text.
One can select particular ports to include (i.e. 25 (SMTP), 80 (HTTP), 110 (POP3)).
E-mail address Filtering
One can select to include packets that contain a particular e-mail address in the to or from fields of an e-mail.
The software produces three types of files when storing packets, files with extensions '.vor', '.output', and '.error'. The actual data collected from the network is saved in a .vor file. The '.output' file contains a human readable version of the settings used to collect the data in the corresponding '.vor' file. Finally, the '.error' file keeps track of any system messages that may have been generated during collection. The software does not prevent files from being stored on the local hard drive, but they are typically stored on the 2GB Jaz Drive attached to the system.
The DragonWare package provides two programs to analyze the information stored in the '.vor' file produced by Carnivore.
This program takes the collection of IP packets in .vor files, reconstructs the TCP session, and creates a series of files that can be viewed with CoolMiner.
This program can be set up to show only certain types of packets.
The Carnivore software consists of four components: TapNDIS driver, TapAPI.dll, Carnivore.dll, and Carnivore.exe
TapNDIS (written in C) is a kernel-mode driver, which captures Ethernet packets as they are received, and applies some filtering. The source is divided into 13 files, 9 of which are borrowed intact or with only minor changes, from WinDis 32 sample programs. 2 others were generated by Microsoft Developer Studio. The remaining two files contain all the logic for driver-level filters and for writing data to a file. The IITRI assumes this to be the core of the Carnivore implementation.
TapAPI.dll (written in C++) provides the API for accessing the TapNDIS driver functionality from other applications.
Carnivore.dll (written in C++) provides functionality for controlling the intercept of raw data. This is where pen mode truncation occurs.
Did you understand any of that? I do but, this is my job.
All you really need to know is this part: "At this point, the case agent can retrieve the intercepted information remotely as it is received by Carnivore"
The FBI perform's its own minimization. That is, "control of the information is removed from a third-party source". The FBI and other agencies such as DOJ and DEA have no clients to protect. That means they have no legal or lawful reason to actually perform minimization, the 1st and 4th amendments be damned! Remember Reagan's sarcastic joke "I'm from the government. I'm here to help"??? You just have to trust they are of the highest morals and operate with pure and nuetral ethics.
Has there been any news of late that would give you a reason to trust them?
Well, you shouldn't as the FBI IITRI review of Carnivore states the statutory suppression remedy available for illegal interception of other communications in Title III is not extended to electronic communications the data gathered would not automatically be thrown out as evidence.
Wow?! you mean you could just keep the information and use it later whenever it suited you? Courts said "Yeah, they can do that".
Jeez, that’s long! Is that from the Bible like other posts of this type? If so, it oughta be in a Religious Wars thread!
Feel free to peruse my excellent writing on all this so you can see a glimpse of how scrtinized you are and the power you no longer have.
Also, feel free to inform me:
“What grievous harm has the shinny object, “Snowjob”, actually caused”??
I am still waiting to hear any real secret.
He didn’t give any information that wasn’t already public.
I’ve been in telecom for 30 years and already knew what he knew.
Not some smart guy. Just been around and I read a lot especially any legislation regarding communications.
spent the last four hours writing it.
I have been in telecom for 39 years. Luv it.
The history, the laws, innovations. It’s all kewel to me.
Helps that I met or know many of the luminaries who made all we use today possible over the last 40 years.
Just read the stuff in bold. It’s enough.
Besides, some of it is technical. I did write it with some sarcasm and humor though.
I was kiddin’ ya, and posting a bookmark for myself to read it all tomorrow. Cheers!
I actually don’t expect anyone to read a tome.
but, wanted to demystify this Snowden guy as nothing more than a shinny object for everyone to amuse themselves with while all the other....What were they? oh yeah, scandals have been relegated to nothingville.
An unjust law is void. An oath to support an unjust law is therefore without force. To spy on every American every time he uses any sort of electronic means is, no matter how many laws are passed, intrinsically evil. The laws authorizing such actions are unjust, and thus, are void.
Edward Snowden violated no valid oath in revealing that the US government has set up a complete surveillance state, in violation of our constitutional and inalienable rights.
Old Xerox PARC networking type here. Nice work, you hit all the high points.
“Snowden committed a crime that pales in comparison to the (unfortunately legal) criminality of the NSA.”
One is illegal, the other illegal.
The illegal is moral, the legal immoral.
Where you gonna come down?
Thank you for the excellent summary.
Thnx. I wanted to get the important stuff out there without going to deep.
I scratched a bunch of other acts and “determinations” off my tome so as to make it somewhat readable.
Hope the sarcasm came through well enough.
PARC guys rock!
Always admire anyone who worked there.
No oath to conceal crimes is ethically binding.
I’ve read quite a bit of that and it’s late at night now, so will read the rest of it tomorrow and comment. I appreciate your posting all this, and, yes, I understand it.
Look for the line I carefully inserted about MPLS. I believe once that becomes ubiquitous their argument for whole pipe is void.
If you don’t know networking you’ll miss it.
Thanks for that lengthy explanation. I gobbled it up eagerly! I owe you a drink ... no, given the work put into it, I owe you a bottle of Scotch. [That is what you drink, isn’t it? I’m getting old and the memory cells are not as flexible as they once were.]
That you read it is enough.
I made an oblique reference to MPLS which, in my opinion, destroys their argument for “Whole Pipe” access eventually
I have an old friend who builds the switching stations for fiber optic systems. I was astounded by what the technology has reached! He calls me occasionally. The calls are fun to get because he routes his calls through exotic locations just for the fun of where it appears he is. Getting a call from Scotland, Dubai, or South Africa is a hoot. He called me one time from my driveway, but the phone said I was being called from Moscow ... Idaho! Problem is, now I answer the darn phone regardless of where the call originates. Odd thing that many tele sales calls are now coming from 202 area code.
Anything the NSA can do, the IRS can do. In anger! In support of Progress!
Reportedly, Fräulein Kiesler had an aptitude for intelligence work. It just wasn't her core competence.
check this out.
It was installed in 1977 and could transmit 1 gigabyte theoertical.
I think it was installed in Southern California.
Today, with the right equipment at the head ends, that same fiber link could, theoretically, transmit 1 Petabit per second.
That is equivalent to transmitting 1,000 gigabits per second by using certain new technologies called a Lambda.
A Lambda uses different light waves and colors to carry information.
Each Lambda can carry up to 80 seperate wavelengths, carrying one gigabyte each.
As technology continues we can open several Lambdas to carry more information.
As of 2006 we could open up to 36 Lambdas or 2880 Gigabytes of information over the very first fiber optic line.
With innovations the theory is that so long as we can increase the number of numbers of Lambdas, then we can make a nearly 40 year old circuit carry unlimited data.
never underestimate human ingenuity.
We took a copper cable that was theoretical 9,600 baud maximum and increased it carry realistically, today, more than 20 gigabytes on an existing copper pair.
No where to go but up!