Prayer zone for a better, empowering, inspiring, promoting, prospering, progressing and more successful life through Christ Jesus

Posts tagged ‘AT&T’

Mukasey on NSA Report: Changes Will Hurt Ability to Monitor Threats.


Image: Mukasey on NSA Report: Changes Will Hurt Ability to Monitor Threats

By Melissa Clyne

Former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey says the recommended changes to National Security Agency surveillance programs by a presidential commission are unnecessary and will only hinder the NSA’s ability to protect the nation.

The five-member panel made up of intelligence and legal experts appointed by President Barack Obama recommended last week that massive phone and internet records collected by the NSA should be held by a private consortium or with the companies from which the information was acquired. If the NSA felt compelled to access the data, it would be required to obtain a court order.

“In other words, if investigators want to check a telephone number they should be required to scurry around to each individual provider — AT&T, Verizon etc. — to run the check, possibly against data bases that are inconsistently arranged, with consequent loss of time and efficiency,” Mukasey writes in op-ed piece for The Wall Street Journal.

Calling it “an experiment,” that could seriously damage an important program designed to target terrorist communications and activities, he says there is simply no justification for it because the panel found no violations of privacy rights during its review.

“The panel’s investigation of the National Security Agency found — as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court found before them — that the occasional unintentional violations of guidelines were stopped once they were detected,” he writes.

Mukasey also mocks critics of the NSA’s collection of phone and Internet communications who contend the agency could use the information to profile individuals or  or gather sensitive personal information.

“No evidence suggests that any such thing has been proposed or done, and indeed the 22 people at NSA who have access to the data are forbidden to use metadata in any fashion other than to run it against suspect telephone numbers,” he says.

Mukasey also takes issue with the recommendation that U.S. intelligence operations should not target non-U.S. persons outside of the United States based solely on their political or religious views. He says that could in some cases prevent the targeting of groups and individuals who declare as a “religious obligation to kill Americans.”

The president has yet to sign off on any of the recommendations contained in the commission’s report.

Related Stories:

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Advertisements

Drug Agents Using Vast AT&T Database of Phone Records.


For at least six years, federal drug and other agents have had near-immediate access to billions of phone call records dating back decades in a collaboration with AT&T that officials have taken pains to keep secret, newly released documents show.

The program, previously reported by ABC News and The New York Times, is called the Hemisphere Project. It’s paid for by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Office of National Drug Control Policy, and it allows investigators armed with subpoenas to quickly mine the company’s vast database to help track down drug traffickers or other suspects who switch cellphones to avoid detection.

The details of the Hemisphere Project come amid a national debate about the federal government’s access to phone records, particularly the bulk collection of phone records for national security purposes. Hemisphere, however, takes a different approach from that of the National Security Agency, which maintains a database of call records handed over by phone companies as authorized by the USA Patriot Act.

“Subpoenaing drug dealers’ phone records is a bread-and-butter tactic in the course of criminal investigations,” Justice Department spokesman Brian Fallon said in an email. “The records are maintained at all times by the phone company, not the government. This program simply streamlines the process of serving the subpoena to the phone company so law enforcement can quickly keep up with drug dealers when they switch phone numbers to try to avoid detection.”

The Associated Press independently obtained a series of slides detailing Hemisphere. They show the database includes not just records of AT&T customers, but of any call that passes through an AT&T switch.

The federal government pays the salaries of four AT&T employees who work in three federal anti-drug offices around the country to expedite subpoena requests, an Obama administration official told the AP on Monday. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because he or she was not authorized to discuss the program, and said that two of the AT&T employees are based at the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area office in Atlanta, one at the HIDTA office in Houston, and one at the office in Los Angeles.

The Hemisphere database includes records that date back to 1987, the official said, but typical narcotics investigations focus on records no older than 18 months.

To keep the program secret, investigators who request searches of the database are instructed to “never refer to Hemisphere in any official document,” one of the slides noted. Agents are told that when they obtain information through a Hemisphere program subpoena, they should “wall off” the program by filing a duplicative subpoena directly to target’s phone company or by simply writing that the information was obtained through an AT&T subpoena.

It wasn’t immediately clear what percentage of U.S. calls are routed through AT&T switches and thus have records captured in Hemisphere. One slide says the program includes records “for a tremendous amount of international numbers that place calls through or roam on the AT&T network.”

“While we cannot comment on any particular matter, we, like all other companies, must respond to valid subpoenas issued by law enforcement,” AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel said in an email.

According to the slides, the program is useful for investigators trying to track down drug traffickers or other criminals who frequently change phones or use multiple phones. If agents become aware of a phone number previously used by a suspect, they can write an administrative subpoena, with no judicial oversight required, for records about that number.

Hemisphere analysts can track the number’s call history or other characteristics and compare it to the history and characteristics of phones still in use — thus winnowing down a list of possible current phone numbers for the suspect, along with their location.

“Hemisphere results can be returned via email within an hour of the subpoenaed request and include (call detail records) that are less than one hour old at the time of the search,” one slide said.

Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said the program raises several privacy concerns, including that if a query returns call records that are similar to, but not, those of the suspect, agents could be reviewing call records of people who haven’t done anything wrong.

“One of the points that occurred to me immediately is the very strong suspicion that there’s been very little judicial oversight of this program,” Rotenberg said. “The obvious question is: Who is determining whether these authorities have been properly used?”

A Washington state peace activist named Drew Hendricks provided the slides to the AP on Monday. He said he obtained them in response to a series of public records requests he filed with West Coast police agencies, initially seeking information about a law enforcement conference that had been held in Spokane.

In the Northwest, the DEA and Department of Homeland Security make most of the Hemisphere requests through administrative subpoenas, one slide noted. Since late last year, AT&T has also accepted requests by court orders from local police agencies in Washington state.

As of June, Hemisphere had processed 679 requests from the Northwest High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area. And since 2007, the Los Angeles Hemisphere program had processed more than 4,400 requests.

In connection with the controversy over the NSA’s sweeping up of call records, some lawmakers have suggested that phone companies store the records instead, and allow federal agents or analysts to request specific data when necessary.

“This way each query would require a specific government warrant before the FISA Court, and Americans would have more confidence that their privacy is being protected, while achieving the same national security results,” Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said in a July 31 statement.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: NEWSmax.com

Verizon Agrees to Buy Wireless Stake From Vodafone for $130 Billion.


Verizon will own its wireless business outright after agreeing to a $130 billion deal to buy the 45 percent stake of Verizon Wireless owned by British cellphone carrier Vodafone.

The buyout, the second-largest acquisition deal on record, would give Vodafone PLC additional cash to pursue its expansion ambitions in Europe. It would also give Verizon Communications Inc., the opportunity to boost its quarterly earnings, as it would no longer have to share a portion of proceeds from the nation’s No. 1 wireless carrier with Vodafone.

The deal isn’t expected to have much of an effect on Verizon consumers or on the company’s operations. Vodafone had little influence on Verizon Wireless’ day-to-day operations, and the two companies have kept out of each other’s territory.

Editor’s Note: New Video Exposes a ‘Great Retirement Heist’ 

The Verizon-Vodafone partnership started in 2000, when what was then Bell Atlantic combined its East Coast wireless network with Vodafone’s operations on the West Coast. Vodafone had entered the U.S. market a year earlier by outbidding Bell Atlantic to buy AirTouch Communications Inc. of San Francisco.

Verizon has had a long-standing interest in buying out its partner, but the two companies hadn’t agreed on a price until now. Analysts said Verizon wanted to pay around $100 billion for Vodafone’s stake, while reports suggested that Vodafone was pressing for the $130 billion.

The largest deal on record is Vodafone’s $172 billion acquisition of Mannesmann AG in 2000, according to research firm Dealogic. Verizon’s buyout of Vodafone should be completed in the first quarter of 2014, the companies said.

Vodafone is already one of the world’s largest cellphone companies and has its sights set on dominating media services in Europe, its biggest market. The company is making a takeover bid for Germany’s biggest cable operator, Kabel Deutschland.

The deal comes amid a changing telecommunications landscape in the U.S. The wireless business has been lucrative for Verizon Communications as traditional landline services decline. But the company faces growing competition in a saturated market. No. 4 T-Mobile US Inc., for instance, is making a resurgence after shattering industry conventions, including two-year service contracts.

In the April-to-June quarter, Verizon Wireless added 941,000 devices to its contract-based plans, exceeding analyst estimates and continuing a strong run. It boosted service revenue by 8.3 percent from a year ago. Its closest rival, AT&T, is seeing revenue increases of around 4 percent.

But almost all of Verizon’s gains on the wireless side resulted from customers upgrading to higher-priced plans or adding more devices to their existing plans, rather than an influx of new customers.

Meanwhile, No. 3 wireless company Sprint Corp. received a $21.6 billion investment from SoftBank Corp. in July, giving the Japanese investment firm a 78 percent stake. T-Mobile grew larger through a merger with smaller rival MetroPCS on April 30.

Editor’s Note: New Video Exposes a ‘Great Retirement Heist’ 

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: NEWSmax.com

Nigeria, First African Country to Ratify Arms Trade Treaty.


Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru
By SaharaReporters, New York

Nigeria on Monday become the first African country to sign and ratify the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), with Minister of Foreign Affairs Olugbenga Ashiru saying the event represents the country’s deep commitment to a treaty which establishes common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms.

Also praising Nigeria’s initiative, Control Arms’ spokesperson Anna Macdonald noted how, throughout the negotiations on the ATT, Nigeria was a leader for the African continent.

“We are proud of Nigeria’s leadership again today as Foreign Minister Olugbenga Ashiru simultaneously signs and ratifies this first ever global agreement regulating the transfer of arms and ammunition,” she said.

She stressed that Africa has long suffered the impact of an arms trade that is out of control.  “From Somalia to Mali to the DRC, weapons have been entering conflict zones and increasing the level of violence for decades. Other African countries must now step forward and follow Nigeria’s lead. The continent needs an Arms Trade Treaty that is in effect and implemented as soon as possible.”

Mr. Ashiru said Nigeria remained “resolute and unyielding” in her efforts to uphold the principle of ATT and, in particular, ensure that small arms and light weapons is appropriately transferred and access denied to terrorist groups, pirates, bandits and the like.

Ms. Macdonald expressed the view that with over 80 countries’ signatures and several ratifications since the treaty opened for signature, there is momentum to urgently ensure the ATT becomes international law and starts saving lives.

Fifty ratifications are needed for the treaty to enter into force, and she called on all states top get to work on their national legislation as soon as possible.

The treaty was open for signature and ratification at the United Nations in New York on June 3, and on that day, over 65 countries signed the landmark treaty, the objective of which is the regulation of the multibillion-dollar global arms trade.

The treaty is of great importance to Nigeria, which continues a fierce battle against Islamic militants in the northeast of the country.   Only recently a security chief said that many state governors have started to import arms as the country prepares for major elections in 2015

FBI Pushing Tech Companies to Install Tracking Software.


FBI officials have been pushing telecommunications providers to include technology inside their internal networks to further federal surveillance efforts, even threatening them with contempt of court, according to a CNET report. 

The FBI says the software, which intercepts metadata in real time, is authorized under the Patriot Act. The software is capable of analyzing entire communications streams, sources said, and carriers are being cautious about installing the equipment because of the risks of compromising privacy and security on internal networks.

It’s “an interception device by definition,” an industry insider, speaking on condition of anonymity because court proceedings are sealed, CNET reported.

The FBI told CNET that it can use Internet metadata, including IP addresses, saying “in circumstances where a provider is unable to comply with a court order utilizing its own technical solutions, law enforcement may offer to provide technical assistance to meet the obligation of the court order.”

Major providers, including AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Comcast, and Sprint did not comment, and a source familiar with the software said it is not used industry wide.

Ordinarily, law enforcement must get a judge’s warrant to search private Internet content. However, the law differs for metadata, including IP and e-mail addresses, Facebook identities, Web sites visited and even Internet searches because of a section of the Patriot act that authorizes the FBI to implant its surveillance technology on networks.

Not all metadata is legally accessible through the software, though, as federal law says only dialing, routing, addressing, or signaling information is accessible without obtaining a wiretap. However, the FBI’s port reader can intercept all metadata, an industry source said, exceeding what the law allows.

Hanni Fakhoury, a staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said he is concerned that port reader software ‘boxes are secretly storing something, or that they’re doing more than just simply allowing traffic to sift through and pulling out the routing information.”

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Sandy Fitzgerald

NSA Whistleblowers: Agency Casts Wide Net.


Image: NSA Whistleblowers: Agency Casts Wide Net

An aerial view of the NSA’s Utah Data Center in Bluffdale, Utah.

Former employees of the National Security Agency say the publishing of a court order asking Verizon to hand over all its phone calling records for a three-month period opens a new window on an operation that has been in place for years and involves all major U.S. phone companies.

“NSA has been doing all this stuff all along, and it’s been all these companies, not just one” William Binney told news program Democracy Now on Thursday. “They’re just continuing the collection of this data on all U.S. citizens.”

Binney, who worked at the NSA for almost 40 years, left the agency after the attacks of 9/11 because he objected to the expansion of its surveillance of U.S. citizens.

British newspaper The Guardian late Wednesday released an order from the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, requesting Verizon to give the NSA the details on every phone call on its landline and wireless networks on a daily basis between April 25 and July 19.

Binney estimates that the NSA collects records on 3 billion calls per day.

“These are routine orders,” said Thomas Drake, another NSA whistleblower. “What’s new is we’re seeing an actual order, and people are surprised by it.”

“We’ve been saying this for years from the wilderness,” Drake told Democracy Now. “But it’s like, hey, everybody went to sleep while the government is collecting all these records.”

Drake started working for the NSA in 2001 and blew the whistle on what he saw as a wasteful and invasive program at the agency. He was later prosecuted for keeping classified information. Most of the charges were dropped before trial, and he was sentenced to one year of probation and community service.

The NSA’s original charter was to eavesdrop on communications between countries, not inside the U.S. That expansion of its mission appears to have happened after 9/11, but the agency has continuously denied that it spies on domestic communications.

In March, for instance, NSA spokeswoman Vanee Vines, emailed an Associated Press reporter about a story that described the NSA as a monitor of worldwide Internet data and phone calls.

“NSA collects, monitors, and analyzes a variety of (asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk)FOREIGN(asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk) signals and communications for indications of threats to the United States and for information of value to the U.S. government,” she wrote. ” (asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk)FOREIGN(asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk) is the operative word. NSA is not an indiscriminate vacuum, collecting anything and everything.”

Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile USA, three of the largest phone companies, said they had no comment on the matter. A representative from Sprint did not respond to a message. Verizon’s general counsel emailed employees Thursday saying that the company has an obligation to obey court orders, but did not confirm the existence of an order.

James Bamford, a journalist and author of several books on the NSA, said it’s very surprising to see that the agency tracks domestic calls, including local calls. In 2006, USA Today reported that the NSA was secretly collecting a database of domestic call information. However, some phone companies denied any involvement in such a program.

Bamford’s assumption was that the uproar over a separate, post-9/11 warrantless wiretapping program and the departure of the Bush administration meant that the NSA had been reined in.

“Here we are, under the Obama administration, doing it sort of like the Bush administration on steroids,” he said in an interview with the Associated Press. “This order here is about as broad as it can possibly get, when it comes to focusing on personal communications. There’s no warrant, there’s no suspicion, there’s no probable cause … it sounds like something from East Germany.”

Bamford believes the NSA collects the call records at a huge, newly built data center in Bluffdale, Utah.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source: NEWSmax.com

Under Obama FBI Now Captures Every Phone Call Made In the United States.


Obama demanded that all forms of digital communications allow the US government backdoor access to intercept them

The real capabilities and behavior of the US surveillance state are almost entirely unknown to the American public because, like most things of significance done by the US government, it operates behind an impenetrable wall of secrecy. But a seemingly spontaneous admission this week by a former FBI counterterrorism agent provides a rather startling acknowledgment of just how vast and invasive these surveillance activities are.

us-surveillance-state-fbi-recording-every-phone-call-666-one-world-government-obama

CLEMENTE: “No, welcome to America. All of that stuff is being captured as we speak whether we know it or like it or not.”

Over the past couple days, cable news tabloid shows such as CNN’s Out Front with Erin Burnett have been excitingly focused on the possible involvement in the Boston Marathon attack of Katherine Russell, the 24-year-old American widow of the deceased suspect, Tamerlan Tsarnaev. As part of their relentless stream of leaks uncritically disseminated by our Adversarial Press Corps, anonymous government officials are claiming that they are now focused on telephone calls between Russell and Tsarnaev that took place both before and after the attack to determine if she had prior knowledge of the plot or participated in any way.

On Wednesday night, Burnett interviewed Tim Clemente, a former FBI counterterrorism agent, about whether the FBI would be able to discover the contents of past telephone conversations between the two. He quite clearly insisted that they could:

BURNETT: Tim, is there any way, obviously, there is a voice mail they can try to get the phone companies to give that up at this point. It’s not a voice mail. It’s just a conversation. There’s no way they actually can find out what happened, right, unless she tells them?

CLEMENTE: “No, there is a way. We certainly have ways in national security investigations to find out exactly what was said in that conversation. It’s not necessarily something that the FBI is going to want to present in court, but it may help lead the investigation and/or lead to questioning of her. We certainly can find that out.

BURNETT: “So they can actually get that? People are saying, look, that is incredible.

CLEMENTE: “No, welcome to America. All of that stuff is being captured as we speak whether we know it or like it or not.”

“All of that stuff” – meaning every telephone conversation Americans have with one another on US soil, with or without a search warrant – “is being captured as we speak”.

On Thursday night, Clemente again appeared on CNN, this time with host Carol Costello, and she asked him about those remarks. He reiterated what he said the night before but added expressly that “all digital communications in the past” are recorded and stored:

Let’s repeat that last part: “no digital communication is secure”, by which he means not that any communication is susceptible to government interception as it happens (although that is true), but far beyond that: all digital communications – meaning telephone calls, emails, online chats and the like – are automatically recorded and stored and accessible to the government after the fact. To describe that is to define what a ubiquitous, limitless Surveillance State is.

There have been some previous indications that this is true. Former AT&T engineer Mark Klein revealedthat AT&T and other telecoms had built a special network that allowed the National Security Agency full and unfettered access to data about the telephone calls and the content of email communications for all of their customers. Specifically, Klein explained “that the NSA set up a system that vacuumed up Internet and phone-call data from ordinary Americans with the cooperation of AT&T” and that “contrary to the government’s depiction of its surveillance program as aimed at overseas terrorists . . . much of the data sent through AT&T to the NSA was purely domestic.” But his amazing revelations were mostly ignored and, when Congress retroactively immunized the nation’s telecom giants for their participation in the illegal Bush spying programs, Klein’s claims (by design) were prevented from being adjudicated in court.

That every single telephone call is recorded and stored would also explain this extraordinary revelation by the Washington Post in 2010:

Every day, collection systems at the National Security Agency intercept and store 1.7 billion e-mails, phone calls and other types of communications.

It would also help explain the revelations of former NSA official William Binney, who resigned from the agency in protest over its systemic spying on the domestic communications of US citizens, that the US government has “assembled on the order of 20 trillion transactions about US citizens with other US citizens” (which counts only communications transactions and not financial and other transactions), and that “the data that’s being assembled is about everybody. And from that data, then they can target anyone they want.”

Despite the extreme secrecy behind which these surveillance programs operate, there have beenperiodic reports of serious abuse. Two Democratic Senators, Ron Wyden and Mark Udall, have beenwarning for years that Americans would be “stunned” to learn what the US government is doing in terms of secret surveillance.

Strangely, back in 2002 – when hysteria over the 9/11 attacks (and thus acquiescence to government power) was at its peak – the Pentagon’s attempt to implement what it called the “Total Information Awareness” program (TIA) sparked so much public controversy that it had to be official scrapped. But it has been incrementally re-instituted – without the creepy (though honest) name and all-seeing-eye logo – with little controversy or even notice.

Back in 2010, worldwide controversy erupted when the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates banned the use of Blackberries because some communications were inaccessible to government intelligence agencies, and that could not be tolerated. The Obama administrationcondemned this move on the ground that it threatened core freedoms, only to turn around six weeks later and demand that all forms of digital communications allow the US government backdoor access to intercept them. Put another way, the US government embraced exactly the same rationale invoked by the UAE and Saudi agencies: that no communications can be off limits. Indeed, the UAE, when responding to condemnations from the Obama administration, noted that it was simply doing exactly that which the US government does:

“‘In fact, the UAE is exercising its sovereign right and is asking for exactly the same regulatory compliance – and with the same principles of judicial and regulatory oversight – that Blackberry grants the US and other governments and nothing more,’ [UAE Ambassador to the US Yousef Al] Otaiba said. ‘Importantly, the UAE requires the same compliance as the US for the very same reasons: to protect national security and to assist in law enforcement.’”

That no human communications can be allowed to take place without the scrutinizing eye of the US government is indeed the animating principle of the US Surveillance State. Still, this revelation, made in passing on CNN, that every single telephone call made by and among Americans is recorded and stored is something which most people undoubtedly do not know, even if the small group of people who focus on surveillance issues believed it to be true (clearly, both Burnett and Costello were shocked to hear this).

Some new polling suggests that Americans, even after the Boston attack, are growing increasingly concerned about erosions of civil liberties in the name of Terrorism. Even those people who claim it does not matter instinctively understand the value of personal privacy: they put locks on their bedroom doors and vigilantly safeguard their email passwords. That’s why the US government so desperately maintains a wall of secrecy around their surveillance capabilities: because they fear that people will find their behavior unacceptably intrusive and threatening, as they did even back in 2002 when John Poindexter’s TIA was unveiled.

Mass surveillance is the hallmark of a tyrannical political culture. But whatever one’s views on that, the more that is known about what the US government and its surveillance agencies are doing, the better. This admission by this former FBI agent on CNN gives a very good sense for just how limitless these activities are. source – Guardian UK

by NTEB News Desk

Tag Cloud