NSA Still Not Sure What Snowden Took, But May Try To Pre-empt Future Leaks

from the getting-ahead-of-the-story dept

We've been among those who have suggested that the best way for the NSA to deal with the upcoming NSA leaks is to just stop lying and come clean about what they're doing. It's such a crazy suggestion that even former NSA boss Bobby Ray Inman has suggested it as well. It looks like the NSA is considering revealing something, but it's likely to be pretty limited:
With respect to other information held by Snowden and his allies but not yet publicized, the NSA is now considering a proactive release of some of the less sensitive material, to better manage the debate over its surveillance program.

"We're working on how do we do that," says Richard Ledgett, the NSA official in charge of the agency's response to the Snowden disclosures.
This came following a story about Keith Alexander claiming that Snowden may have taken "up to 200,000" documents with him -- a number that has generated some headlines. Of course, when you read the details, you realize that while Alexander quoted a range that had 200,000 as the ceiling, it also notes that officials at the NSA "remain unsure which documents he downloaded for leaking to the media." Yes, nearly six months in, they still don't know what he took. And this is the agency saying that they have such great audits that no one can abuse their systems? Really?

Glenn Greenwald has already mocked the claim of 200,000 documents (and, I was pretty sure in the past he had put the number in the tens of thousands -- closer to 60,000). But, once again, we're left wondering how the NSA can claim it has controls in place when it still has no idea what happened. Either way, open on up, NSA. Let's see what you've got. I'm sure that each attempt to spin things will be quickly debunked by actual documents from Snowden.
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Filed Under: audits, eric holder, keith alexander, leaks, nsa, nsa surveillance, pre-emptive leaks, surveillance


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  1. icon
    stimoceiver (profile), 15 Nov 2013 @ 7:37pm

    speculation about possible future leaks

    Here are my speculations on an as yet purely hypothetical scenario of possible capabilities of NSA surveillance now or in the near future.

    What if, of all the cell towers that ostensibly provide cellular communications to us, only half of them actually did so? And for that half that does indeed do so, there are of course possibilities for surreptitious data channels, priority override for wealthy customers (when the towers circuit capacity is maxed out and they just have to make a call, so a lower priority call gets bumped), hidden services, networks, etc.

    But what about the other half? With the ubiquity of cell towers in our lives - and their capabilities - going unquestioned for two+ decades, there are some disquieting possibilities. One of the foremost speculations that comes to my mind would be a network of high precision SIGINT triangulation and intercept stations, capable of acting as a large scale phased array for precise monitoring of electronic devices of "persons of interest" within each cell triangle, as well as the possibility to deliver energetic responses of varying power and precision to those same targets. Could this also have psychological implications, especially though the principles of electrochemistry being used to remotely influence endocrine responses? Nearly all of us lack the specific spectral analysis and survey equipment to make either such evaluation.

    Also worthy of note, the fact in the field of classified State-Security and higher technical surveillance (aka SIGINT), such SIGINT monitoring posts are known to monitor "guard bands" for the appearance of signatures of remote TSCM (Technical Surveillance Counter Measures) equipment in the vicinity of the target. So that bug sweeps not only not going to work, the equipment used to do the sweep will be easily detected by those doing the technical surveillance in the first place.

    q.v. James Atkinson's Granite Island Group, Technical Surveillance Counter Measures: Threat Levels

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