Edward Snowden Leaks on Twitter by Mistake, reveals more domestic spying.

There is a hidden problem in warfare when it comes to information. You can actually have too much of it. It is an extension of the “can't see the forest thru the trees.” cliché. Having too much information can lead one to overlook which bit of information is important, or when a bit becomes important. That happened to Edward Snowden last night on twitter, literally right in front of me, and I could do nothing but hit [prt sc] and ponder the gravity of it.

While in a conversation with a person who appeared to be being deliberately obtuse on the subject of #ApplevsFBI, Snowden apparently grew tired of explaining how and why the FBI does not need a custom re-write of iOS to access the encrypted portions of the San Bernardino Shooter's work phone. Since I published on that a little more than 24 hours ago, it has been made clear that the FBI had access to the phone and then locked itself out, presumably to initiate this fight with Apple. As Snowden engaged in that argument and pointed that out, he let something else out with this tweet:









Those 140 characters typed offhandedly reveal two new facts that have not yet been in the public dialogue. The fact that the NSA routinely assists the FBI is not new. The FBI can request things from the NSA and then NSA can fullfill those requests. Occasionally there are joint operations between the two agencies. But the last little bit, “Some FBI analysts have XKS.” is new (The other fact is that the FBI has apparently been hacking Cisco routers with NSA assistance. That will be another story).

XKS refers to Xkeyscore, which the NSA touts as one of it's most effective tools for spying. Snowden explained it on German Television as follows: “You could read anyone's email in the world, anybody you've got an email address for. Any website: You can watch traffic to and from it. Any computer that an individual sits at: You can watch it. Any laptop that you're tracking: you can follow it as it moves from place to place throughout the world. It's a one-stop-shop for access to the NSA's information.”

The NSA known to share Xkeyscore data with other agencies on request. In order to put a friendlier post-Snowden face on it the NSA's website refers to sharing with the FBI and CIA a “team sport.” Over 500 FBI Agents were “read in,” or knew of the program's existence in intelligence parlance. Obviously the top secret classification of Xkeyscore is moot now. However there is a huge difference both legally and operationally between read-in and analysts having desktop access.

The NSA is a military agency. It used to answer to the Secretary of Defense. It now answers to the intelligence czar. The FBI is a domestic only law enforcement agency. It answers to the Attorney General through the Department of Justice. The NSA is supposed to only spy on foreign persons. The Xkeyscore interface has a drop down menu for the user to supply whatever (flimsy) justification for a target being foreign they need. Observe:












What this all confirms, more than anything else, is a fundamental world view. Cryptography, which is a key part of the NSA's purview, is a weapon. It's actual export was regulated as such. The NSA, at it's core, is made up of the signals intelligence branches of the Army, Navy and Air Force. It is headed by a general and is in the military chain of command. It's tools are for use on foreign enemies.

The FBI is a federal domestic law enforcement agency. Having access to Xkeyscore means having access to a weapon of war. It is an information weapon, but we are in the information age and wars are fought with information.

Thus the FBI is using military technologies on it's own citizens. Those technologies are being given to it unfettered by an arm of the Department of Defense. Resources can only cross arms of government with Presidential approval. Congress has the power to declare war, but it is the job of the executive branch, the President, to wage war.

This war is undeclared, it might not even be consciously acknowledged, but it is within the mindset of the secret police state. The federal government, through both the departments of Defense and Justice, views itself as being in a state of war with the American people.

That war extends very quickly to a local level. Most major cities have a Joint Terrorism Task Force that combines federal state and local assets for counter-terrorism operations. Many also have a counter-terrorism fusion center with these assets all working together in the same set of big rooms under the same roof.

The revelation that “Some FBI analysts have XKS.” puts the power of Xkeyscore quite possibly one cubicle over from the local police. In a real, operational sense, the same two policemen indicted as serial rapists in Los Angles this week could have been reading anybody's email two years ago simply by waiting for the FBI guy to grab a cup of coffee. They worked undercover in a capacity that has not been made clear, so their assignment, permanent or temporary, to JTTF-LA is not impossible. That is a far cry from Obama's claim that “No one is reading your email.”

Edward Snowden just proved the President is a liar. Again. Offhandedly. By mistake. While he was talking about some other lies told for purpose of further invasion of the global public's privacy.

Date Originally Published: 
Saturday, February 20, 2016
Gerry Bello