Tag Archives: United State

NSA embedded surveillance tools within exported US computer hardware

While the United States has warned against buying Chinese routers due to surveillance concerns, a new book about the Edward Snowden revelations states America has been intercepting and tinkering with routers intended for foreign customers.

According to Glenn Greenwald – one of the journalists entrusted with Snowden’s leaked documents – the National Security Agency has been implanting devices into routers headed overseas since at least 2010.

In an extract from Greenwald’s new book, titled “No Place to Hide,” the journalist states the NSA “routinely receives – or intercepts – routers, servers, and other computer network devices being exported from the US before they are delivered to the international customers.”

Once the agency gets its hands on these products, it embeds devices that are linked to the NSA’s own system, giving officials access to foreign networks and information from all the users connected to that network.

“In one recent case, after several months a beacon implanted through supply-chain interdiction called back to the NSA covert infrastructure,” a 2010 NSA report states, according to Greenwald. “This call back provided us access to further exploit the device and survey the network.”

The revelation comes after US officials and lawmakers spent years criticizing Chinese telecommunications companies like ZTE and Huawei for potentially looking to sell their products to Americans while collecting data for the Chinese government.

Glenn Greenwald.

In 2012, a report by the House Intelligence Committee stated the companies “may be violating United States laws” and have “not followed United States legal obligations or international standards of business behavior”.

Although no evidence was uncovered to back up the allegations, the committee still pushed American companies to reject products from ZTE and Huawei.

“Private-sector entities in the United States are strongly encouraged to consider the long-term security risks associated with doing business with either ZTE or Huawei for equipment or services,” the committee stated.

“US network providers and systems developers are strongly encouraged to seek other vendors for their projects. Based on available classified and unclassified information, Huawei and ZTE cannot be trusted to be free of foreign state influence and thus pose a security threat to the United States and to our systems.”

The news also comes less than two months after it was revealed that the NSA spied on Huawei, as well as the China’s Trade Ministry, banks, companies, and top political officials. As RT reported in March, the campaign against Huawei took place a few years before lawmakers urged American companies to stay away from Chinese products, and was intended to explore potential links to China’s cyber warfare units.

Whether or not it discovered any evidence for this, however, remains unknown.

According to Greenwald, it is “quite possible” that Chinese companies are tampering with their products in order to install surveillance technology, but it wouldn’t be any different from what the US is doing on its own.

Meanwhile, hacktivist group Anonymous has called for a protest against Greenwald as he sets out on his book tour for “No Place to Hide.” The ire directed at Greenwald comes from the journalist’s relationship with Pierre Omidyar, Greenwald’s boss at First Look Media and the ultimate owner of PayPal. Omidyar’s PayPal was hacked three years ago by those now deemed the “PayPal 14” for refusing to process donations to WikiLeaks after the online organization published classified US government documents given to it by US Army leaker Chelsea Manning.

Omidyar, Anonymous says, allowed the blocked donations as a “means of control,” and he and Greenwald have since only expressed “tepid ‘support’ for the PayPal 14” as the group faces jail time and $80,000 in court-ordered restitution.

Anonymous also criticizes Greenwald’s – and Omidyar’s – place as the possessor of a major cache of public documents regarding National Security Agency surveillance supplied by leaker Edward Snowden. Anonymous said that, nearly a year after the NSA leaks were first published, Greenwald has positioned himself in a cozy, lucrative spot by forming a partnership with billionaire Omidyar while hawking his book – promised to have more NSA leaks – for a profit. Greenwald’s handling of the leaks has kept “aggressive, non-celebrity journalists from finding answers and pro-freedom hackers from building better defenses.”

The protest, Anonymous wrote, should aim to explain the relationship between the journalist and his financial benefactor.

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Kiev must immediately deescalate east Ukraine crisis, call back troops – Moscow

Ukrainian soldiers drive an airborne combat vehicle near Kramatorsk, in eastern Ukraine April 16, 2014.

Kiev authorities must “immediately” deescalate the situation in southeast Ukraine by withdrawing its troops from the region, Russia’s Foreign Ministry has said, adding that Kiev must start nationwide talks and stop “distorting” the Geneva agreement.

“The Russian side once again insists on an immediate deescalation of the situation in the southeast of Ukraine, the withdrawal of divisions of the Ukrainian Army and the start of a real inter-Ukrainian dialogue including all the regions and political entities of the country,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement on its website.

Moscow is “surprised” by Kiev’s interpretation of the four-sided Geneva agreement adopted by Russia, Ukraine, the US and the EU on April 17, it added.

Despite the call for disarmament of “all the illegal armed groups” specified by the agreement, Kiev, Washington and a number of European leaders “keep harping on the necessity to ‘hand over weapons’ [referring] only to the Ukrainian citizens defending their rights in southeastern Ukraine.” With that, the Western powers “are turning a blind eye to the ongoing provocative actions of the gunmen of the far-right groups, including that of the so-called Right Sector.”

Such actions, which have been taking place in both the capital, Kiev, and in southeastern Ukrainian cities, “have already led to death of people overnight into April 20,” the ministry said.

Russia continues to believe that the Western partners are “earnest” in their stated commitment for the peaceful resolving of the Ukrainian crisis, the statement said. However, the facts “regretfully speak to the opposite,” it added. Kiev has not moved to enter a dialogue with the regions of Ukraine protesting against its rule, while the US officials have apparently chosen not to discourage the coup-imposed authorities in their “strongarm ambitions.”

Immediately after US Vice-President Joseph Biden ended his April 21-22 talks and left the Ukrainian capital, Kiev announced the renewal of the so-called “anti-terrorist operation” in eastern Ukraine, the statement noted. Previously, CIA director’s John Brennan’s April 13 visit to Kiev coincided with the start of the same military operation, it said.

Moscow blasted the US-backed distinction between “legally occupied” buildings in central Kiev at the Independence Square (Maidan) and the “illegally occupied” buildings in southeastern Ukraine, calling US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland’s recent statements on the issue “absolutely incorrect.”

The statements voiced by the Ukrainian oligarch and multibillionaire Igor Kolomoysky, picked by the Kiev authorities as the governor of the Dnepropetrovsk region, “look even more absurd,” the ministry said. Kolomoysky’s deputy Boris Filatov recently announced a $10,000 bounty for each “Russian mercenary” captured and handed over to the Kiev-backed authorities and a $200,000 reward for each regional administration building freed. Filatov also said the servicemen at the Mariupol military base, who on April 16 killed three people and injured 13 more during an attempted storming allegedly inspired by the anti-government activists, have been paid 500,000 hryvnas ($43,000).

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Russia withheld intel on Boston bombing suspect

People attend the Boston Marathon memorial exhibition, “Dear Boston: Messages from the Marathon Memorial,” at the Boston Public Library April 7, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts . View photo People attend the Boston Marathon memorial exhibition, “Dear Boston: Messages from the Marathon Memorial,” at the Boston

New York (AFP) – Russia declined to provide the FBI with information about one of the Boston marathon bombing suspects two years before the attack, The New York Times reported.

Three people were killed and about 260 wounded on April 15 last year when two bombs made of explosives-packed pressure cookers went off near the finish line of the marathon.

US authorities are seeking the death penalty for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, then 19, for his alleged role in the blasts. His brother Tamerlan, 26, died after an exchange of fire with police after the Chechen Muslim brothers went on the run, sparking a four-day manhunt.

Citing an inspector general’s review of how American intelligence and law enforcement agencies could have thwarted the bombing, the Times said that Russian officials told the FBI in 2011 that Tamerlan “was a follower of radical Islam and a strong believer.”

The Russian side said that Tamerlan “had changed drastically since 2010 as he prepared to leave the United States for travel to the country’s region to join unspecified underground groups.”

But, according to The Times, after an initial investigation by FBI agents in Boston, the Russians declined several requests for additional information they had about him.

The inspector general’s report found that it was only after the bombing that the Russians shared the additional intelligence, including information from a telephone conversation the Russian authorities had intercepted between Tamerlan and his mother in which they discussed jihad, the Times said.

“They found that the Russians did not provide all the information that they had on him back then, and based on everything that was available the FBI did all that it could,” the Times quoted a senior American official briefed on the review as saying.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s trial begins in November.

The one-time student has pleaded not guilty to 30 federal charges related to the bombings, including 17 serious charges that can carry sentences of death or life in prison.

These charges include using a weapon of mass destruction resulting in death, as well as conspiracy and bombing of a place of public use resulting in death, and carjacking.

He is also charged in connection with the fatal shooting of a campus police officer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology during the brothers’ wild overnight getaway attempt.

 Yahoo News.

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Snowden will help Germany investigate NSA spying if granted asylum – report

Edward Snowden is offering Germany his help with investigating NSA spying activities on its soil, if Berlin grants him political asylum, Stern reports, citing correspondence with the whistleblower.

“I have a great respect for Germany,” Snowden wrote to the German Stern publication. The former NSA contractor also wrote that he would be willing to help German officials investigate alleged NSA spying in Germany, if he is granted asylum.

Not fearing possible prosecution and extradition to the US, the whistleblower noted that no one in the German government seriously believes that the US will “implement sanctions against Germany in response to criticism of illegal surveillance” because it will cause “greater harm to the US rather than Germany.”

Snowden doubts the ability of US Congress to implement any reforms, following a report by an expert panel tasked with reviewing NSA global surveillance activities released by the White House earlier this week. The Secret Service Committee, Snowden wrote, is praising the intelligence services rather than keeping them in check.

Last week Snowden sent a similar open letter to Brazil, offering his help with “investigations into suspected crimes against Brazilian citizens” but noting that the US government will continue to limit his “ability to speak out until a country grants me permanent political asylum.”

Snowden again reiterated the message on Sunday in an email exchange with the Brazilian Globo TV channel, saying that he would like to move to Brazil if he was permitted by its government. The Brazilian foreign ministry said that it can only consider such a request for asylum once it receives an official application.

He accused the US presidential panel tasked with reviewing US’s surveillance practices of recommending “cosmetic changes.”

“Their job wasn’t to protect privacy or deter abuses, it was to ‘restore public confidence’ in these spying activities. Many of the recommendations they made are cosmetic changes,”
Snowden said, as quoted by Wall Street Journal.

Snowden also managed to thank Russia for the asylum opportunity and for the ability to freely speak his mind.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to live in freedom and participate in major global debates through the year asylum granted by Russia,” Snowden said in an interview.

“I have a lot of time for reading, I have been closely following the developments in the world,”
said Snowden, responding to a question about how he passes his time in Russia.

Back in November Snowden handed over another letter addressed “to whom it may concern” in German political circles, indicating that he was willing to go to Germany and testify over the US wiretapping of Angela Merkel’s phone on condition of granting him political asylum.

In that one-page typed letter, the whistleblower also expressed hope that “with the support of the international community, the government of the United States will abandon this harmful behaviour [of treating dissent as defection].”

Without commenting directly on the open petition, the US State Department responded by saying, that Snowden remains a wanted man who “is accused of leaking classified information, faces felony charges here in the United States and … should be returned as soon as possible.”

Following Snowden’s November appeal, more than 50 German public figures asked Berlin to grant Snowden asylum, according to Der Spiegel. For instance, the former general secretary of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, Heiner Geissler, wrote that Snowden has done the western world a “great service.”

The German government however refused to consider the request, with Steffen Seibert, official spokesman of the cabinet, saying that the issue is tied to Germany’s security and mutual interests with the US. “For us Germans, the transatlantic alliance remains of paramount importance,” he said.

In the meantime, Snowden continues to look for a safe harbor, following the offer for a temporary asylum in Russia in August. Before accepting a temporary asylum in Russia on conditions that he would not engage in whistleblowing activities on Russian soil, the whistleblower sought permanent political asylum in over 20 countries, including Germany and Brazil.

The two states embarked on a UN quest to curb the NSA’s worldwide spying activity, and introduced a UN resolution against supernormal surveillance of communications, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly unanimously.

During this week’s press conference, Russian President Vladimir Putin has once again reiterated that Russian intelligence has never sought to extract any intelligence from Snowden, who in his turn is abiding by the terms of not engaging “in anti-American propaganda.”

“Operationally, we are not working with him and never have done, and are not asking him any questions about how his agency worked on Russia,” said Putin. “I won’t hide it, this person is not without interest for me. I think that thanks to Snowden, a lot changed in the minds of millions of people, including in the minds of major political leaders.”

Snowden will help Germany investigate NSA spying if granted asylum – report — RT News.

Germany, Brazil submit UN draft resolution to end mass surveillance — RT News

Germany and Brazil have submitted a new draft resolution to the UN General Assembly which calls for an end to excessive electronic surveillance, data collection, and other snooping techniques.

The draft resolution did not point fingers at any specific country, but UN diplomats said it was in response to recent revelations of US mass surveillance programs, Reuters reported.

The text of the resolution asks the 193-nation assembly to declare that it is “deeply concerned at human rights violations and abuses that may result from the conduct of any surveillance of communications, including extraterritorial surveillance of communications.”

The circulated draft also urges member states “to take measures to put an end to violations of these rights and to create the conditions to prevent such violations, including by ensuring that relevant national legislation complies with their obligations under international human rights law.”

It is expected that the draft resolution will be debated in the General Assembly’s Third Committee, which deals with human rights issues.

“We have received the draft and will evaluate the text on its merits,” said an official at the US mission to the United Nations.

Several diplomats said they expect the resolution to receive support from the vast majority of UN member states.

The goal of the resolution is to gain wide international support and spread moral and political values on the subject of surveillance.

The resolution’s intention is to call on member states “to establish independent national oversight mechanisms capable of ensuring transparency and accountability of State surveillance of communications, their interception and collection of personal data.”

It would also ask UN human rights chief Navi Pillay to publish a report “on the protection of the right to privacy in the context of domestic and extraterritorial, including massive, surveillance of communications, their interception and collection of personal data.”

US global surveillance sparked international outrage following leaks from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and German Chancellor Angela Merkel found themselves in the middle of the controversy after reports emerged that both leaders were spied on by the NSA.

The US has stated that it is not spying on Merkel will not do so in the future. However, Washington has not commented on possible past surveillance.

Meanwhile, spy chief Keith Alexander has blamed US diplomats for ordering the surveillance of EU politicians. The White House is seeking to distance itself from the scandal, intimating the NSA was acting of its own volition.

In a video conference to London on Thursday, US Secretary of State John Kerry addressed accusations that the NSA recorded millions of European citizens’ telephone calls. Kerry conceded that US surveillance has “in some cases…reached too far” and said the NSA had been conducting its espionage on “automatic pilot.”

Germany, Brazil submit UN draft resolution to end mass surveillance — RT News.