Anonymous Video – USA -> NSA

While amusing, the topic of this video is deadly serious.

The NSA, firmly, albeit misguidedly, believes:

The United States today faces very real, very grave national security threats. Extremism and international terrorism flourish in too many areas of the world, threatening our warfighters, our allies and our homeland. Regional conflicts can have serious effects on U.S. national interests. Hostile foreign governments and terrorists trade in, or seek to acquire, weapons of mass destruction and/or the materials to produce them. Tons of illegal drugs are smuggled into our country each year.

The newest threats we face, and perhaps the fastest growing, are those in cyberspace. Cyber threats to U.S. national and economic security increase each year in frequency, scope and severity of impact. Cyber criminals, hackers and foreign adversaries are becoming more sophisticated and capable every day in their ability to use the Internet for nefarious purposes.

As a nation, we are dependent on the Internet – we use it for everything. We communicate online, bank and shop online, and store much of our personal information there. In business, education and government, we all count on having ready access to the Internet and its many capabilities as we go about our daily routines. The Internet opens up new worlds to users.

But while cyberspace offers great opportunities, it also comes with vulnerabilities. Our information networks and technology are constantly at risk from a variety of bad actors using a multitude of techniques – remote hacking intrusions, the placement of malware, spearphishing and other means of gaining access to networks and information.

Some of these bad actors are criminals motivated by profit, particularly in the areas of identity theft and other forms of financial cybercrime. The cost of cybercrime – already in the billions of dollars – rises each year.

But cyber threats also come from nation states and other actors who seek to exploit information to gain an advantage over the United States. They might seek an economic advantage, or to gain insight into our military or foreign policy. Denial of service attacks disrupt business and undermine confidence.

Terrorists and extremist groups today use the power of the Internet, especially social media, to spread their messages of hate and intolerance, and to recruit new members, often targeting vulnerable young people. The global reach of cyberspace and the complexity of its networks provide bad actors ample places to hide, safe from the reach of international law.

To meet these threats, our national leaders, military leaders, policy makers and law enforcement personnel must understand who our adversaries are, where they are, and what their capabilities, plans and intentions are. At the same time, we must ensure that we protect our own national security information from those who would do us harm. These are the capabilities that the National Security Agency provides to our nation, to our leaders and to our fellow Americans – 24 hours a day, seven days a week. [Understanding The Threat]

Surrounded by jinns and demons, known and unknown, as the only hope for Truth, Justice and the American Way, what choice does the NSA have but to use any and all means, fair and foul, to meet those threats?

As you know, I’m not a big fan of the NSA or its surveillance programs, but in researching this post, I encountered a shift in the rhetoric of the NSA.

As you can see in Understanding The Threat, the entire focus is on hazards and dangers that would justify any degree of action of lawlessness.

Contrast that with the Commitment that is preserved by the Internet Archive (December, 2015):

These are our commitments to you, our fellow citizens:

  • We will act with integrity to advance the rights, goals, and values of the Nation.
  • We will adhere to the spirit and the letter of the Constitution and the laws and regulations of the United States.
  • We will support and protect our troops in the field.
  • We will combat terrorism around the globe – when necessary, putting our lives on the line to preserve the Nation.
  • We will provide our policymakers, negotiators, ambassadors, law enforcement community, and military the vital intelligence they need to protect and defend the Nation.
  • We will defend the national security networks vital to our Nation.
  • We will be a trusted steward of public resources and place prudent judgment over expediency.
  • We will continually strive for transparency in all our review, monitoring, and decision-making processes.
  • We will be accountable for our actions and take responsibility for our decisions.
  • We will honor Open Government and Transparency mandates by making timely and accurate information available to the public, subject to valid privacy, confidentiality, security or other restrictions under existing law and policies.
  • Along with those exciting programs we partner with the Maryland STEM program.

What I find even more disturbing than the current threat statement is that it was written after mass collection of telephone data (under the Committment) was found to be useless:

A member of the White House review panel on NSA surveillance said he was “absolutely” surprised when he discovered the agency’s lack of evidence that the bulk collection of telephone call records had thwarted any terrorist attacks.

“It was, ‘Huh, hello? What are we doing here?’” said Geoffrey Stone, a University of Chicago law professor, in an interview with NBC News. “The results were very thin.”

While Stone said the mass collection of telephone call records was a “logical program” from the NSA’s perspective, one question the White House panel was seeking to answer was whether it had actually stopped “any [terror attacks] that might have been really big.”

“We found none,” said Stone.

Under the NSA program, first revealed by ex-contractor Edward Snowden, the agency collects in bulk the records of the time and duration of phone calls made by persons inside the United States.

Stone was one of five members of the White House review panel – and the only one without any intelligence community experience – that this week produced a sweeping report recommending that the NSA’s collection of phone call records be terminated to protect Americans’ privacy rights. (NSA program stopped no terror attacks, says White House panel member by Michael Isikoff.)

Shouldn’t the three hundred plus page report: Liberty and Security in a Changing World, dated 12 December 2013, result in a less paranoid, less extreme view of threats?

Pursuit of a paranoid and largely delusional view of the world, even post-exposure as paranoid and delusional, does not bode well for those subject to NSA surveillance.

Encrypt, Onionize and Erase (EOE) is your new mantra.

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