Milking the Spooks Who Milk US

I came across this twist while researching invasion-of-privacy by the government.

Communications Companies Milk the Spooks

It’s fairly widely known that the government routinely asks for, and gets, telecommunications information on individuals from communications companies like Internet and telephone service providers. Sometimes these requests are legal (with an accompanying court order), sometimes not. They are almost always complied with. Or, were.

There are two trends in this landscape of communications providers ratting out our activities to the government:

First, communications companies have discovered the are huge profits to be made snooping on citizens for the government. For example, Comcast documents show that after an initial charge exceeding a thousand dollars, the cost per month to snoop on one individual is more than seven hundred dollars.

Second, perhaps to mitigate the increasing costs cited above, the need for law enforcement or government snoops to ask for this information is diminishing as the amount of information amassed by the Total Information Awareness “non-program” increases. The only stumbling point there is gaining access to the NSA‘s mother lode.

Spooks Milk US so They Don’t Have to Go Outside

Meantime, despite the recession, and perhaps to stem the needs to purchase information and instead just keep recording everything and store it forever, the NSA continues to expand it’s capacious data trove:

From: US spooks to build 60 megawatt data center by Timothy Prickett Morgan

According to declassified documents made available by the comptroller’s office for the Department of Defense, the US government’s fiscal 2012 budget includes $860.6m to build a high performance computing center at the NSA’s Fort Meade, Maryland, headquarters facility. That is the cost for the facility alone, not the cost of the servers, storage, and networking gear that will inhabit the data center.

From:  NSA to Modernize With Cloud and Crypto Centers by Darlene Storm, Computerworld

NSA’s chief information officer (CIO) Lonny Anderson talked with Federal News Radio’s Jason Miller about the NSA’s mission, the three new state-of-the-art NSA cryptological centers in Hawaii, Georgia and Texas, as well as how efficiencies in IT with the cloud will help modernize the secretive intelligence agency.

NSA’s massive 65 megawatt data center is on 240-acres at the National Guard facility in Camp Williams, Utah. The self sustaining complex will have 1 million square feet of enclosed space with 100,000 square feet of working computer space. It will have its own “water and waste-water treatment plants, power, gas supply, battery backup, visitor-control facilities, vehicle inspection station and perimeter security.” It is supposed to be capable of storing staggering amounts of surveillance data, yottabytes of data . In case your mind does not automatically compute just how mega huge that is, CrunchGear described it as, “There are a thousand gigabytes in a terabyte, a thousand terabytes in a petabyte, a thousand petabytes in an exabyte, a thousand exabytes in a zettabyte, and a thousand zettabytes in a yottabyte. In other words, a yottabyte is 1,000,000,000,000,000GB. Are you paranoid yet?”

Anderson said the Utah data center will support the Obama administration’s Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative (CNCI) as well as support the Intelligence Community (IC). It will have new tech and very efficient tech, designed with NSA’s future needs in mind. It will be used to assist Homeland Security, but Anderson said the NSA only helps DHS when asked. The massive data center will help focus on cyber threats to make certain national security networks are protected. All intelligence will “feed” from the data center, meaning the data will be stored in that single data center which will help discover threats in a “near real-time environment.”


Why We Can’t Trust the Government With Our Secrets

Logo of the Information Awareness Office, an a...

Image via Wikipedia

The title of this blog is the problem with the government’s widespread snooping on citizens. The government says it hasn’t implemented the Total Information Awareness Program… but there is plenty of evidence that it has. And that means that everything on the Internet, and all phone calls, are being recorded and archived by the government for data mining. That means anything said during a voice call or done on the Internet could come back to haunt you at any time in the future. And let’s be serious – we’re not just talking crime here. You have to know it will be used for political purposes (e.g. to control citizens).

I want to keep this post focused. So we’ll keep it simple:

Can we trust the U.S. government to keep all the information it amasses about us secret?

According to the government, we can’t.

This sad, but hardly astonishing fact was underscored yesterday in the publication of a memo from Donald Rumsfeld in 2005 while he was Secretary of Defense under President Bush:


Donald Rumsfeld

Donald Rumsfeld Image via Wikipedia


November 02, 2005
FROM: Donald Rumsfeld
SUBJECT: U.S. Government Incapable of Keeping a Secret

The United States Government is incapable of keeping a secret.

If one accepts that, and I do, that means that the U.S. Government will have to craft
policies that reflect that reality.


The actual memo is here.

… that’s short, sweet, and to the point. But if we accept Rumsfeld’s view, then we are in grave danger, and we must consider that any shred of privacy we may have once had, say, a decade ago… is now long gone.

Please see:

U.S. is “Incapable of Keeping a Secret,” Rumsfeld Concluded in 2005
July 15th, 2011 by Steven Aftergood

The Devil in your Cookies
July 15th, 2011 by Rex Latchford

The Devil in your Cookies


Crude Image via Wikipedia

This blog post is based on a section of my upcoming book “The Devil for Dummies”.

Once upon a time, a long long time ago, when your ancient ancestors roamed the earth, a thing called the World Wide Web was created. It was “stateless” – one page had no narrative connection with another other than by hyperlinks. But writers didn’t understand how to write in this medium. Writers understood only “the narrative” as it had existed for thousands of years. After much gnashing of teeth, complaining, soiled diapers, and ultimately the lobbying efforts of the Devil himself, cookies were added to the otherwise simple design of the web browser.


Plateful of Christmas Cookies

Image via Wikipedia

The cookies were added to provide a mechanism for maintaining “state”: not a lot, but just enough, in the estimation of the designers, to allow for maintenance of a narrative relationship between web pages. The Devil sniggered, and drooled sulfurous snot, cranking up the heat on the advertising industry (one of his minions). Other minions, armed with pitchforks glowing orange-hot, were dispatched to major media concerns and other massive content providers.

In a mild effort to protect the security of these cookies, the designers had humbly decided that only the domain that set the cookie could read the cookie. This would, they believed in their naive minds, prevent cookie snooping. The Devil fairly glowed as he observed this, and could barely contain his delight and glee. The designers had forgotten that each user has a (mostly) unique IP address (mostly unique enough for the Devil’s purposes), and that advertising is usually provided across many sites by the same third parties (the Devil’s minions).


Santa Claus with a little girl

Image via Wikipedia

The Devil got busy. You see, disk space had become very cheap, so extensive record keeping became trivial.  Cookie information could be combined with two other pieces of information: the URL of the referring page, and your IP address. This information was obtained every time an advertisement was displayed on your page. This allowed advertisers to track a user’s every move. Soon, the Devil’s info-base of who did what to whom when would surpass Santa Claus’s, and approach God’s omniscience (with nothing forgiven)!

The Devil wasn’t done yet, as I discovered today when I performed a fairly routine task of posting a comment to an online item. It could have been a blog, or a news article. I couldn’t post it without setting up an account. Perhaps an easy way to hold comment posters responsible for non-abusive behavior. Perhaps a way to track who has comments about what. For example, you might be someone who criticizes the government, and thus a terrorist. All tracked by cookies, IP addresses, profiles, the NSA, etc. Anything on the Internet could be a matter of national security, you see.

Headquarters of the NSA at Fort Meade, Maryland.

NSA Headquarters - Image via Wikipedia

Everyone needs backup. Even the Devil. So, it was arranged that the National Security Agency (NSA) would undertake a program called “Total Information Awareness” (that it would later deny implementing despite evidence to the contrary). This program simply recorded everything on the Internet, as well as all telephone calls, so that nothing was missed. The Devil, politicians, and other similarly motivated parties could mine the information at a later time to get the goods on someone whenever it was convenient… even years or decades after the fact. Many government workers got bonuses from the Devil for that one. Of course, access to the NSA’s data warehouse was to be strictly controlled, but even the most innocent know how bad the government is at keeping secrets.

When you start to collect enough information about an individual, a profile is essentially created. This profile, as information is added, starts to exhibit properties that can be used to match it with other information or profiles collected in other data streams. Like smaller bubbles merging into ever larger ones, profiles in cyberspace merge until large amounts of personal information are aggregated and pinned to an individual. Perhaps one such profile didn’t originally contain your name, but the profile became a confirmed match with another one that DID contain your name, perhaps because there was an IP address or cookie in common. Or phone number. Or social “security” [sic] number. Or mother’s maiden name (in the security hint). Or pets name and zip code. And so on, so much so, that privacy vanished completely in a puff of sulfurous smoke.

Blame it on the Devil. The Devil did it.


Devil goat

The Devil - Image via Wikipedia

… more than likely, though, it wasn’t the Devil. No, it was the rest of us not standing up for our rights. We were too busy being entertained. You snooze, you lose. And then… well… it’s hard to get it back. Facts on the ground as some have said. Still the Devil smiles as we’re ALL his minions. Muhahahaa!

The American Dream of Driving, Automated

Will police need to get a new job, like fighting crime instead of issuing traffic tickets?

What will happen to Americans like my late Mom, who would rather die than stop driving?

The State of Nevada passed legislationon June 22, 2011 that paves the way for autonomous autos. Credited for the passage is heavy lobbying by Google. The entire draft legislation, Nevada Assembly Bill No. 511 is here.

Perhaps best known is Google’s autonomous Audi, but there are many other entries to this effort in the pipeline, including Stanford U which is active in the legal aspects of autonomous driving, VW with a “car that can drive itself at 80mph” and many more.

The technology is fascinating, but I wager that for anyone who has been pulled over, or gotten a traffic ticket for some minor infraction (who hasn’t?) by a heavily armored police officer in a gas guzzling police cruiser, it’s the legal aspect that may be of greatest interest: no more traffic tickets, a more fair, and less expensive insurance framework. Commoditization of vehicles. An increase in safety and reduction in traffic accidents. And with automated traffic management, the next logical step after autonomous vehicles, faster trips with fewer traffic jams.

There’s always a downside. Police forces may be forced to consider layoffs of officers who don’t know how to fight crime – only traffic infractions. That could bump up the unemployment rate for a short time.

In addition to the links in this article:






Retard Nation

First, an apology for the title. It should be “Imbecile Nation”, however, it seems too many people are unacquainted with the meaning of the word imbecile.

This post is about my visceral reaction to the Casey Anthony verdict.

I am appalled by the public reaction. I recognize that second-guessing jury verdicts is a popular pastime for the unemployed and people with too much time on their hands. I say this because there is a hint of lack of respect understanding of the judicial process. I worry that if there is no respect for the judicial process, however wrong or misguided it may be at times, or however activist the judge, or however unconstitutional the ruling, there will be no hope of justice ever.

And then, there is the reaction of politicians. I urge the rabble to exercise caution: be careful of what you ask for: you might get it. The proposed “Casey’s Law”. It seems that the brains of our politicians are so addled by drugs, lust, corruption, greed, and junk-food, that they…

Well, perhaps I just need a vacation… some place like where Casey Anthony should go to avoid being lynched to death by a crazed and angry mob. Of imbeciles.

[And oh, those ranting Facebook videos…]