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August 7, 2014

The Great Chill

Filed under: Journalism — baseball91 @ 9:41 PM
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mourning The Great Chill, set off on September 11, 2001,  has followed the Cold War.  Or was the new Great Chill just another result of Global Warming?

Contributing to the drying up the flow of information, is it the generation of journalists or just the affect of the environment over the past thirteen years which has contributed to the missing edge at my daily newspaper? This will happen when the news room is reduced to fifty percent of its size from ten years ago.

In July 2014, Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union said in a report that “access to data as detailed in leaks by former National Security Agency systems analyst Edward Snowden, coupled with the Obama administration’s prosecution of people for leaking classified information, is having a chilling effect…”

Said Kathleen Carroll, senior vice president and executive editor of The Associated Press, in a copy-write article, “People have to work harder, it takes longer, and you … won’t have as many stories.” So it is not just the new generation of reporters on the sports page that do not seem to be interesting? For ten years, half of the best and the brightest graduates of MIT went to Wall Street to apply their engineering knowledge of the world for the rewards of the financial world. Where were the interesting writers going?

The New Millennium is more than ever about the use and exploits of power by the exploitors over the exploited. Like Chris Lehman recent wrote about the Federal Communications Commission, “a notionally independent regulatory body so infested with industry shills that the leaders of the FCC and the lead wireless telecom lobbying consortium recently traded places without so much as a hiccup of public dissent,” in the same edition of Al Jezeera, Gregg Levine published the following article.

http://america.aljazeera.com/blogs/scrutineer/2014/8/1/will-1-million-protectyoufromkeithalexander.html

NSA logo By Gregg Levine

Concerning cyber security. “Now a private consultant, Keith Alexander has made news this summer by seeking six- or seven-figure sums for hacker-proofing private computer networks. But this raised a number of eyebrows, and not just because of the price.

Keith Alexander filed seven cybersecurity patents while he was director of the National Security Agency. In his retirement, he has offered help to large corporations to fend off malicious hackers with his new “behavioral models” for spotting pre-crime (patent pending — seriously — nine of them, says Alexander).

Keith Alexander first partnered with a regulatory compliance consultancy for the financial industry (Promontory Financial Group) that per almost every report out calls “shadowy.” The Promontory Financial Group has made a science out of classic Washington revolving-door regulation — building a kind of 400-resident strong retirement home for ex-government employees, where the guys who wrote the rules then cash in by showing banks how to flout them.

As the longest-ever-serving director of the National Security Agency, General Keith Alexanders reports that his new cyber-consulting in no way trades on the classified information he perused during his long tenure as a spymaster which would be illegal. He states that his new way to stop cybercrime did not come to him until after just leaving his government job, after input from an unnamed business associate.

Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) has retained Alexander to “facilitate” the coming joint effort; Alexander brought in Michael Chertoff, the former Department of Homeland Security chief, to assure extra facilitating.

The unprecedented sharing with private industry of classified government intelligence on cyberthreats is the kind of data essential to consultant Alexander’s for-profit security model. You know, assuming he doesn’t just use the classified information he accrued during his time as the head of U.S. Cyber Command. Because, as noted, that would be illegal.

That was all a little too pat for Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., who wrote to some of Alexander’s potential clients in June, asking just what the former NSA chief was offering in exchange for his hefty fees.

“I question how Mr. Alexander can provide any of the services he is offering unless he discloses or misuses classified information, including extremely sensitive sources and methods,” Grayson wrote. “Without the classified information that he acquired in his former position, he literally would have nothing to offer to you.”

One of the recipients of this letter was SIFMA, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, a trade group representing banks, securities firms and asset managers.

“Thank you for your inquiry about our efforts concerning cyber security,” starts the letter from Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) to Grayson. “I am glad that you share our interest in this important issue. Cyber attacks are increasingly a major threat to our financial system. As such, enhancing cybersecurity is a top priority for the financial services industry. SIFMA believes we have an obligation to do everything possible to protect the integrity of our markets and the millions of Americans who use financial services every day.”

And to be clearer, SIFMA’s language in this letter reflects its lobbying efforts on behalf of a public-private mind meld of grand proportions:

“We know that a strong partnership between the private sector and the government is the most efficient way to address this growing threat. Industry and investors benefit when the private sector and government agencies can work together to share relevant threat information. We would like to see more done in Congress to eliminate the barriers to legitimate information sharing, which will enable this partnership to grow stronger, while protecting the privacy of our customers.”

In the reference to “more to be done” with the Cyber Information Sharing Act (CISA) which won approval from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence last month. CISA, like its House sibling CISPA (Cyber Information Sharing Protection Act) has drawn the ire of civil liberties groups, while drawing the solid advocacy of a recent NSA director — back when he was still NSA director.

To further probe the provenance of the former intelligence official’s official intelligence, journalist Jason Leopold (who has written for Al Jazeera on other topics) has sued the NSA over Alexander’s financial disclosure forms.

To be clear, as has been noted by Marcy Wheeler, this is not about, say, protecting consumers from thefts of credit card data, like that which befell Target customers last year (because Target had not actually implemented its own cybersecurity plan). Those Americans in the financial markets to whom SIFMA refers are actually high-volume, high-frequency traders — i.e. the banks and brokerages represented by SIFMA.

As a matter of policy, government officials are supposed to make information on their income and investments publicly available. The only exception to that rule is for intelligence personnel, and only if the President of the United States determines that “due to the nature of the office or position occupied by such individual, public disclosure of such report would, by revealing the identity of the individual or other sensitive information, compromise the national interest of the United States.”

It is already known who is involved here — Alexander — and what his job was, but even so, there is no indication from the government that the president has made any ruling pursuant to the law. The NSA is just refusing to make Alexander’s financial disclosure forms available.

But whatever Alexander was making, he is undoubtedly poised to make much more now. Still, the question remains, “Why?” Alexander is, after all, the man who was at the head of the NSA when a private contractor named Edward Snowden downloaded a treasure-trove of top-secret information, and did so without ever being detected.

And to this day, the NSA has made it clear it has no idea as to the total amount, scope or nature of the data Snowden copied.

Alexander is probably not talking much about that in his sales pitch. What he is talking about, it seems, is something called “Wiper,” a vicious bit of malware that targeted the Iranian Oil Ministry in 2012, erasing large amounts of data.

The irony here, according to security experts, is that is that “Wiper is a cousin of the notorious Stuxnet virus, which was built by the NSA — while Alexander was in charge — in cooperation with Israeli intelligence. The program disabled centrifuges in a nuclear plant in Iran in a classified operation known as Olympic Games.”

The U.S. has never officially acknowledged involvement with Stuxnet.

But the idea of a man selling cybersecurity based on a threat his former agency likely had a hand in at least hyping and, most likely, launching, sounds suspiciously like a protection racket.

Or maybe it is just extortion. Legal minds can hash that out, but the whole seamy business led one observer to channel Alexander and comment, “For another million, I’ll show you the back door we put in your router.”

Basing a $1 million-per-month charge on the NSA’s actual investigative work during Alexander’s tenure might be a tough sell. An analysis of a decade of NSA bulk surveillance programs revealed that their contribution to stopping terrorism was, at best, minimal. But offering a conduit to classified government information, that might be worth something. Throw in a little insider knowledge on the design of the threat and maybe some added, erm, protection, and Alexander might be pitching a deal at that.

http://america.aljazeera.com/blogs/scrutineer/2014/8/1/will-1-million-protectyoufromkeithalexander.html

If this is the “Hope and change” of the past two election, you can keep the change. How many more government servants will set off to apply their engineering knowledge of the world that they help set up, under the questionable misuse of power, for the so personal financial rewards of the cyber world?

Did you ever note the Land in the story of miracles — and the things which grew over time from deep within the land?

“This land is your land, this land is My land.”

Do you remember the first time that you heard the fire alarm in school? There is this innate human sensation — of alarm. To be alarmed – by noise, by sight, by something set off by your nose! I remember the childhood fear when I heard in the movie “The Diary of Anne Frank” the sound of the European police siren.

With this Climate Change, I am alarmed by the current people in power who thought and acted: those who knew that they could not be above the laws, so they framed the law in such a way, in some form of ‘arc of economic justice’ to ride above this arc and seek the benefits for themselves. In their new ways, to be above the the law, in cyberspace. In this new form of invisible inside trading.

The first public miracles of cyberspace involved taking away freedom for personal profit, in the taking away from the “Holy Space,” liberty … to enslave the future generations. The horror was to see a retired U S Army General, after the cost of human life in American history in creating holy space, the invisible crimes of this inside trading against humanity that are spiraling to the local law enforcement agencies, from people like Keith Alexander. Men exploiting the weak and the powerless, and the fears of the masses, not out of any real emergency but for more wealth. And for more power.

As the safe-sex generation had grown and become more visible, their kids walked to the bus stops by over-protective parents had grown old. And the irony was that this generation would be taking away my liberty, more and more. It is what happened with every form of excess. It was not the fault of the over-protected kids … it was what they were born into. As the invisible became visible, over time, under a democratic form of government, the foreign threat of the Cold War has become this chilling domestic threat, so close to home, while living in the Information Age, about what constituted the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth.

PHOTO BY RICHARD TSONG-TAATARII, COURTESY OF STARTRIBUNE
AS you learned to live without …. this was The Great chill.

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4 Comments »

  1. Mindful of Anne-Marie Slaughter’s powerful essay in The Atlantic Monthly, “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All”, here is the expression of something innate, when a mother could not be there to protect her child, because of economic pressure. It was always the invisible part of what you had been born into.

    “With a motivation to write ‘her demographic’ of ‘highly educated, well-off’ women who are privileged enough to have choices in the first place, in trying to balance meaning — in careers and in families — Slaughter explained how, as the State Department’s first woman to direct the Office of Policy Planning, she came to feel that she had been part of a conspiracy of falsehoods about what it really takes to be an effective parent and high-level professional at the same time. Some of the pressures that women are likely to encounter are the pressures rooted in economics. No longer is it how fast you type. And the voices of women on the lower rungs of the ladder — minority women — are not heard in this invisible caste system, supported by the media.”

    Comment by baseball91 — August 7, 2014 @ 11:23 PM | Reply

  2. “What has most rattled the world, believers and non-believers, is not that an organization – a Church organization held to a higher ideal – has criminals and disturbed individuals within its ranks, but that those who could put the individuals out of harm’s way did not always do so, sometimes until a public outcry demanded it. The way forward was to conceal. There is a place for discretion, especially when it helps the wounded find a new normal, but secrecy too often feeds on itself: it makes it easier to stay clandestine the next time, and the next time. When we do not speak of the corruption, we do not stop it. Secrets keep us ill. Secrets perpetuate shame… Worst of all, secrets convince us that we either do not need redemption, or its beyond our reach.” – Pat Malone, S.J. on the sexual abuse crisis within the Roman Catholic Church, which may be a lot like what happens under the NSA

    Comment by baseball91 — August 11, 2014 @ 9:48 PM | Reply

  3. In the capital city of Longyearbyen, in Svalbard.

    Comment by paperlessworld — January 29, 2016 @ 9:17 PM | Reply


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