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[liberationtech] Boundless Informant: the NSA's secret tool to track global surveillance data

Rich Kulawiec rsk at
Sun Jun 9 06:51:21 PDT 2013

On Sat, Jun 08, 2013 at 08:10:17PM -0700, x z wrote:
> Do you still believe Glenn's reporting that NSA has "direct access to
> servers of firms including Google, Apple and Facebook"? In my view, he
> misled the world intentionally (the few prism training slides published did
> not seem to claim this). Glenn is at best a wacky journalist without common
> sense.

First, Greenwald is one of the most sober, accurate, prescient,
and courageous journalists on this planet.  Not that there was
any confirmation required of these qualities, but the nature of
the reaction of the NSA to these reports speaks volumes
about their veracity.

	[ To explain: whenever someone indignantly claims that revelations
	like this endanger an ongoing operation, they are lying.
	(a) Because any competent adversary, that is, anyone worth actually
	taking seriously, knows about things like this waaaaay before any
	journalist.  I will bet the house that Moscow and Beijing and
	Tehran all knew about this program a long time ago.  [1] If not,
	someone should be having a stern word with their intelligence
	agencies, who get lots of money and resources to find things
	like this out.  (b) Because it's a tried and true tactic to attack
	the patriotism/loyalty/etc. of people who tell the truth.
	So much so that when it happens right on cue, it's nearly
	equivalent to a full confirmation of everything they're saying. ]

Second, there is at this moment plenty of evidence on the table to
support the claim of "direct access".  There is no evidence on the
table to support the denials that have been issued by the spokesliars
at Google, Apple, and Facebook.  (Have you failed to notice how
carefully parsed and similar their responses are?   Anyone with
any expertise at all with the craft of spin control should recognize
this tactic immediately -- it's right out of the playbook: "pick one
claim, deny it vehemently, deny it consistently, ignore all others".)

Third, let us suppose for a moment, against all experience and evidence,
that the NSA does *not* have direct access -- today.  Is there anyone
so lacking in predictive vision, to think that they won't have it
tomorrow?  Of course they will.  They want it.  Who's going to stop
them?  (Certainly not the chimps and baboons in Congress, who are busy
lobbing excrement at each other.)  So even if we were silly enough
to make the foolish and naive assumption that "direct access" isn't a
precisely accurate term now, it will be...soon enough.


[1] I used nation-states as examples, but of course the same exercise
in cognitive dissonance applies to other entities.  On the one hand,
we are supposed to believe that such adversaries are incredibly powerful,
to the point where they constitute an existential threat to the US.
On the other hand, we are supposed to believe that they're too stupid
and incompetent to manage basic intelligence practice.   On the one hand,
they're massively funded with multiple income streams; on the other hand,
they're too poor to pay for espionage or buy the results from someone else.
On the one hand, they're scheming masterminds concocting fiendish plans
of destruction; on the other hand, they're halfwits who aren't clever
enough to avoid even the simplest countermeasures.

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