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’Einstein’ Program: The All-seeing eye of internet activity

’Einstein’ Program: The All-seeing eye of internet activity

Wayne Madsen
Online Journal
September 19, 2008

WMR has learned from government sources that the Bush administration has authorized massive surveillance of the Internet using as cover a cyber-security multi-billion dollar project called the “Einstein” program.

Billed as a cyber-security intrusion detection system for federal computer systems and networks, WMR has been told that the actual intent of Einstein is to initially monitor the email and web surfing activities of federal employees and contractors and not in protecting government computer systems from intrusion by outsiders.

In February 2008, President Bush signed a directive that designated the National Security Agency (NSA) as the central administrator for the federal government’s computer and network security.

Although Einstein is primarily a program under the aegis of the Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) of the National Cyber Security Division of the Homeland Security Department, WMR has learned that it has the personal support of Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Mike McConnell, a former NSA director. Einstein is advertised as merely conducting traffic analysis within the dot (.) gov and dot (.) mil domains, including data packet lengths, protocols, source and destination IP addresses, source and destination ports, time stamp information, and autonomous system numbers. However, WMR has learned that Einstein will also bore down into the text of email and analyze message content. In fact, most of the classified budget allotted to Einstein is being used for collecting information from the text of messages and not the header data.

In fact, WMR has learned that most of the classified technology being used for Einstein was developed for the NSA in conducting signals intelligence (SIGINT) operations on email networks in Russia. Code-named PINWHEEL, the NSA email surveillance system targets Russian government, military, diplomatic, and commercial email traffic and burrows into the text portions of the email to search for particular words and phrases of interest to NSA eavesdroppers. According to NSA documents obtained by WMR, there is an NSA system code-named ”PINWALE.”

The DNI and NSA also plan to move Einstein into the private sector by claiming the nation’s critical infrastructure, by nature, overlaps into the commercial sector. There are classified plans, already budgeted in so-called “black” projects, to extend Einstein surveillance into the dot (.) com, dot (.) edu, dot (.) int, and dot (.) org, as well as other Internet domains. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff has budgeted $5.4 billion for Einstein in his department’s FY2009 information technology budget. However, this amount does not take into account the “black” budgets for Einstein proliferation throughout the U.S. telecommunications network contained in the budgets for NSA and DNI.

In anticipation of the regulatory problems inherent in domestic email surveillance by the NSA, the Bush administration has ensured that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and industry associations have been stacked with pro-surveillance loyalists to ensure that Einstein is widely accepted and implemented.

 



“Fusion Centers” to Gather Intelligence on Peaceful Protesters

“Fusion Centers” to Gather Intelligence on Peaceful Protesters

The Progressive

July 30, 2008

On the heels of the Maryland State Police spying scandal, the ACLU is ringing the alarms over “fusion centers.”

These are the state-by-state groupings of various law enforcement agencies working together at all levels, from local police to the FBI, NSA, and CIA, ostensibly to share terrorism threat information. But, as we saw in the Maryland case, they may sometimes just be sharing information about lawful, peaceful First Amendment-protected speech.

There is “mission creep from watching out for terrorism to watching out for peace activists,” said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office, in a press conference July 29. She called the fusion centers an incipient “domestic intelligence apparatus.” And she warned that the kind of spying that occurred in Maryland was “very dangerous to our democracy.”

In December 2007, the ACLU published a report “What’s Wrong with Fusion Centers?”

It noted that there are more than 40 fusion centers already created. And it cited several problems with them, including the participation of military personnel in law enforcement, as well as “private sector participation.” “Fusion centers are incorporating private-sector corporations into the intelligence process, breaking down the arm’s length relationship that protects the privacy of innocent Americans who are employees or customers of these companies.”

On July 29, the ACLU issued an update to that report.

The fusion centers represent an attempt to create a “total surveillance society,” the update says.

It notes that the LAPD fed into its fusion center an array of ““suspicious activity reports” that included such innocuous activities as “taking notes” or “drawing diagrams” or “using binoculars.” (Since one out of six Americans is a birdwatcher, this last item could really swell the files.)

The “suspicious activity” criteria of the LAPD “gives law enforcement officers justification to harass practically anyone they choose, to collect personal information, and to pass such information along to the intelligence community,” the update says.

Frighteningly, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence has called the LAPD program “a national model.”

The Director of National Intelligence urges state and local law enforcement to “report non-criminal suspicious activities,” the update says. According to the standards of the Director of National Intelligence, these activities are defined as “observed behavior that may be indicative of intelligence gathering or pre-operational planning related to terrorism, criminal, or other illicit intention.”

The ACLU notes that “other illicit intention” is not defined, and that fusion centers are fed intelligence before “reasonable suspicion” is established.

Fusion centers also engage in data mining, as they rely not only on FBI and CIA records. They also often “have subscriptions with private data brokers such as Accurint, ChoicePoint, Lexis-Nexus, and LocatePlus, a database containing cell phone numbers and unpublished telephone records,” the ACLU notes, referring to a Washington Post article from April 2.

The ACLU calls fusion centers “out-of-control data-gathering monsters.”

While the government is gathering more and more information about us citizens, it’s trying to shield itself from telling us what it’s doing. “There appears to be an effort by the federal government to coerce states into exempting their fusion centers from state open government laws,” the ACLU notes. “For those living in Virginia, it’s already too late: The Virginia General Assembly passed a law in April 2008 exempting the state’s fusion center from the Freedom of Information Act.”

As I noted in “The New Snoops: Terrorism Liaison Officers, Some from the Private Sector”, the Department of Justice has come up with “Fusion Center Guidelines” that flat-out recommend that “fusion centers and their leadership encourage appropriate policymakers to legislate the protection of private sector data provided to fusion centers.”

The ACLU is absolutely right: Congress must investigate these fusion centers and exercise appropriate oversight before law enforcement agencies and their private sector partners violate the rights of more Americans and usher us all into the total surveillance society.

 

Bush turning intelligence agencies on Americans
Raw Story
July 31, 2008

President Bush seems to be slowly turning the nation’s massive surveillance apparatus upon its citizens, and some worry that administration assurances to protect civil liberties are nothing but empty promises.

With his update to a decades-old executive order governing the Intelligence Community, Bush is giving the Director of National Intelligence and the 16 agencies of the US Intelligence Community more power to access and share sensitive information on Americans with little to no independent oversight. The update to Executive Order 12333, first issued by former President Ronald Reagan, introduces a more prominent role for the Attorney General in approving intelligence gathering methods, calls for collaboration with local law enforcement agencies, eases limits on how information can be shared and urges cooperation between the IC and private companies.

“This Intelligence Community that was built to deal with foreign threats is now being slowly and incrementally turned inward,” says Mike German, policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, in an interview with RAW STORY.

Bush’s latest update of a decades old executive order governing intelligence activities is a “lit fuse” that could end with the Constitution’s immolation, another ACLU official says.

“This kind of concentrated power, exercised in secret, is a lit fuse with our Constitution likely in danger of being burned,” said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington legislative office.

The White House insists that the update to Executive Order 12333 maintains protections for Americans’ civil liberties, but senior administration officials who briefed reporters Thursday provided little reassurance that the new order would correct some of the Bush administration’s most egregious abuses.

Read Full Article Here

Peaceful Activist labeled a “terrorist” in a federally-funded domestic terrorism database
http://noworldsystem.com/2008/07/19/..d-spy-on-protest-groups/

 



Senate OKs Telecom Immunity

Senate OKs Telecom Immunity

AP
February 12, 2008

The Senate voted Tuesday to shield from lawsuits telecommunications companies that helped the government eavesdrop on their customers without court permission after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

After nearly two months of stops and starts, the Senate rejected by a vote of 31 to 67 a move to strip away a grant of retroactive legal immunity for the companies.

President Bush has promised to veto any new surveillance bill that does not protect the companies that helped the government in its warrantless wiretapping program, arguing that it is essential if the private sector is to give the government the help it needs.

About 40 lawsuits have been filed against telecom companies by people alleging violations of wiretapping and privacy laws.

The Senate also rejected two amendments that sought to water down the immunity provision.

One, co-sponsored by Republican Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania and Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, would have substituted the government for the telecoms in lawsuits, allowing the court cases to go forward but shifting the cost and burden of defending the program.

The other, pushed by California Democrat Dianne Feinstein, would have given a secret court that oversees government surveillance inside the United States the power to dismiss lawsuits if it found that the companies acted in good faith and on the request of the president or attorney general.

Read Full Article Here

 

Bush Admits Telecoms Spied

Raw Story
February 12, 2008

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In Oval Office address, president pledges veto of any temporary FISA expansions

Well, he finally dropped the “allegedly.” President Bush at long last admitted what everyone has suspected for years — the nation’s telecommunications companies closely cooperated with the National Security Agency and his administration to implement large-scale spying on Americans.

Bush was praising the Senate for approving his long-sought update to a foreign surveillance law. Critics say the bill legalizes his warrantless wiretapping program, which was implemented outside the boundaries of the law, and frees phone and internet companies from any responsibility for violating customers’ privacy.

“The senate bill also provides fair and just liability protections for companies that did the right thing and assisted in defending America, after the attacks of Sept. 11,” Bush said.

As recently as his State of the Union address, Bush would only call for legal immunity for companies “believed to have assisted” in his so-called Terrorist Surveillance Program.

Bush’s admission came a day after his press secretary similarly acknowledged phone company cooperation. Also Tuesday, the Director of National Intelligence sought to suppress as “Top Secret” evidence of a phone conversation between a telecom company representative and a DNI lawyer.

Speaking from the Oval Office Wednesday morning, Bush threw down the gauntlet and issued a stern warning to the House. He admonished the chamber for failing to rubber-stamp the White House approved bill, which 18 Democrats joined every Republican and Joe Lieberman to do Tuesday. Democrats in the House, on the other hand, approved a bill updating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance without granting legal immunity.

Bush has pleged to veto any bill without immunity, and he said Tuesday that he would not accept any more temporary FISA extensions. By midnight Saturday, when a stop-gap extension expires, Bush said he will get what he wants or do nothing to stop what he says are vital gaps in intelligence collection re-open.

On the eve of a vote to give telephone companies immunity for their alleged participation in the National Security Agency’s warrantless wiretap program, White House spokesperson Dana Perino admitted that the companies actually spied.

Because they were patriotic.

“The telephone companies that were alleged to have helped their country after 9/11 did so because they are patriotic and they certainly helped us and they helped us save lives,” Perino told reporters at Tuesday’s press briefing.

The admission, while possibly a verbal slip-up, was first noticed by Ryan Singer, of Wired.

The Senate gave the phone companies immunity by a 69-29 vote. It passed wiretapping bill in its entirety just before 6pm ET, 68-29.

Earlier this afternoon, the immunity measure’s staunchest opponent, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT), announced he would abandon his effort to block the bill with a filibuster, arguing that the House, which has passed an immunity-free bill, would be a better place to try to strip immunity from Congress’s final piece of legislation.

“We lost every single battle we had on this bill,” Dodd said on a conference call Tuesday with reporters and bloggers. “And the question is now, Can we do better with the House carrying the ball on this bill?”

The bill to update the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, including a provision granting retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies that facilitated government spying, passed the Senate on a 68-29 vote Tuesday evening.

Read Full Article Here

Roll Call Votes: Who are the traitors to the US Constitution
http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS..0&session=2&vote=00020

Bush Presses House To Approve Spy Bill
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/…1&hp=&pagewanted=print&oref=slogin

Senator Dodd on retroactive immunity: ‘We’ve just sanctioned the single largest invasion of privacy in American history’
http://www.theseminal.com/2008/02/12/retroactive-immunity-whats-next/