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NSA uses a simple Google Search to catch people? Um... Ya.

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NSA uses a simple Google Search to catch people? Um... Ya.

Post by Graze » Wed Sep 18, 2013 5:56 am

So I just re-stumbled on this NSA doc
(38.47 MiB) Downloaded 6264 times
which was apparently declassified and released around May 2013.

My question is... What's with it, and what's with the timing, in light of all that Snowden has revealed.

Think about it: This is not at all how the NSA really does research, as we have now learned.

Is it just a decoy?
If so, for what?

My opinion is that they're trying to pretend that someone, somewhere got caught using hard core Google Search skills, when they actually were caught using the now infamous hoovering of all of our personal conversations. This makes one wonder, who, exactly, was the target of this "let's cover up the fact we know more than we should" campaign around May or June, 2013?

This is very interesting to someone caught up in the legal system right now, in hindsight.
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Disinfo & the ex post facto traces thereof

Post by Pattern_Juggled » Wed Sep 18, 2013 2:13 pm

Taking a break and coming through here to clear the head of technical networking topics...

This is, indeed, interesting. I recall reading about this manual, back in May, and thinking "hmm, more to that story - this is the tip, and there's an iceberg under there somewhere..." - but not being able to really even guess what that iceberg was.

Now, however...

Because here's the thing: if you were the NSA, and about ten years ago you started going on a binge of illegal surveillance that's unprecedented in human history, what would you be doing to help keep that a secret? There's all the obvious things - background checks, threats of severe punishment for leaking, the usual - but what else? Remember, you've got billions of dollars a year to spend... and ensuring Glenn Greenwald doesn't get wind of what you're up to is a pretty high priority.

What would you do?

Oh, and add in that for decades you've been illegally shifting "protected national security related" sigint data over to the DEA and IRS and who knows who else - and they've been lying to federal judges about the source of their "amazing information." Nobody else can prove you're doing this (yet), but you know you are - and you're proud of it. How do you ensure Glenn doesn't find out?

One thing you're going to do is take the concept of "parallel construction" (see the Reuters DEA article, for details) and run even further with it. You're going to whip up a minor storm of disinformation to make it seem credible that there's this magical information dropping out of the sky and into your organizational lap. You sort of have to - if not, any slip in the facade of lies you've created to hide PRISM and all the rest could prove catastrophic.

So do you pay a couple of flunkies some pocket change (a few million, or whatever) to write some "guidebook" to mining Google? Sure you do - I mean, I would. Then you let it "leak" out, or at least word if it leaks out... and, gee, so that's how they keep catching people without breaking national surveillance laws against domestic spying!

Of course, geeky commenters are going to notice that this "secret" Google hacking book is filled with a bunch of useless tripe - but nobody listens to them, so who cares. The mainstream press will run with your disinfo story, and you'll have one chink in a wall of disinformation protecting PRISM, and Bullrun, and Flying Pig, and all the rest from disclosure. Repeat that a thousand times - bureaucracies are good at repeating stuff over and over - and you can credibly hope to keep that shit secret.

You know what? It worked. Until Snowden.

I personally know someone quite well who got cycled through the American "War in Drugs" system in the 2000s. Like 99% of defendants in that country, she pled guilty - and never really got to see how the Feds managed to track down what she was doing... it was all hush-hush, conflicting stories, ask-questions-and-your-plea-deal-vanishes sorts of things. But she's smart, and she always had this really deep suspicion that something was lurking under the surface: an iceberg. But until Snowden, she couldn't even really articulate this without feeling like a conspiracy nut.

Now, well, she knows she was a victim of "parallel construction." In theory, she could sue the DEA and prosecutor and everyone else in bringing this illegal case against her - but if she tried, she'd be hammered. Multiply her story by 100,000, and you've got the American police state in a nutshell. From the Reuters article:
As a practical matter, law enforcement agents said they usually don't worry that SOD's involvement will be exposed in court. That's because most drug-trafficking defendants plead guilty before trial and therefore never request to see the evidence against them. If cases did go to trial, current and former agents said, charges were sometimes dropped to avoid the risk of exposing SOD involvement.
The playing field is littered with the detritus of former NSA disinfo programs - it has to be, by logical inference. Some data points that, previously, were just wtf mysteries now come quite clear, quite suddenly... and I personally think this Google "book" is one example amoungst a sea of others.
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