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NSA Leak

Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden, 29, has admitted in interviews he was the source behind the leak of classified documents about the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs. Those leaks were the basis of reports in Britain’s Guardian newspaper this month. The Guardian revealed Snowden’s identify at his request.

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(FOX News) As part of its efforts to install malware on “millions” of computers worldwide, the National Security Agency impersonated Facebook to trick targets into downloading malicious code.

“In some cases the NSA has masqueraded as a fake Facebook server, using the social media site as a launching pad to infect a target’s computer and exfiltrate files from a hard drive,” reports The Intercept in its latest expose based on top-secret documents obtained by Edward Snowden.

“[The NSA] has sent out spam emails laced with the malware, which can be tailored to covertly record audio from a computer’s microphone and take snapshots with its webcam. The hacking systems have also enabled the NSA to launch cyberattacks by corrupting and disrupting file downloads or denying access to websites.”

The Facebook trick was called QUANTUMHAND by the NSA, and was initially tested on “about a dozen targets” before being launched on a larger scale in 2010, the documents show.

What began as a way to hit “hart-to-reach” targets – around 100 to 150 of them, as of 2004 – the NSA’s malware-spreading efforts have since proliferated to potentially millions of computers around the globe using an automated system known internally as TURBINE. Using TURBINE, documents reveal, gave members of the NSA’s Tailored Access Operations (TAO) unit the ability to tap into, or destroy, computers on a massive scale.

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One presentation outlines how the NSA performs “industrial-scale exploitation” of computer networks across the world.

Here’s how The Intercept’s Ryan Gallagher and Glenn Greenwald describe some of the various tailored malware the NSA deploys into targeted machines:

One implant, codenamed UNITEDRAKE, can be used with a variety of “plug-ins” that enable the agency to gain total control of an infected computer.

An implant plug-in named CAPTIVATEDAUDIENCE, for example, is used to take over a targeted computer’s microphone and record conversations taking place near the device. Another, GUMFISH, can covertly take over a computer’s webcam and snap photographs. FOGGYBOTTOM records logs of Internet browsing histories and collects login details and passwords used to access websites and email accounts. GROK is used to log keystrokes. And SALVAGERABBIT exfiltrates data from removable flash drives that connect to an infected computer.

The documents also indicate that some of these viruses disable targets’ ability to use encryption software to mask Internet activity or send emails privately. This and other malware efforts are part of what the NSA documents call its “Owning the Net” program.

snowden

Josh Levs, (CNN) — National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden has written an “open letter to the people of Brazil” offering to help investigate U.S. surveillance of Brazilian citizens.

The letter was posted on the website pastebin and on the Facebook page of David Michael Miranda, partner of journalist Glenn Greenwald, according to a tweet from Greenwald.

In the letter, Snowden says he has told Brazilian lawmakers that he is willing to help investigate “suspected crimes against Brazilian citizens.”

“I have expressed my willingness to assist wherever appropriate and lawful, but unfortunately the United States government has worked very hard to limit my ability to do so — going so far as to force down the Presidential Plane of Evo Morales to prevent me from traveling to Latin America!

“Until a country grants permanent political asylum, the U.S. government will continue to interfere with my ability to speak.”

Brazil has been in an uproar over reports of U.S. spying. In September, Brazilian lawmakers said they planned to send a commission to Russia to speak with Snowden, who had allegedly leaked information about U.S. spying against the country’s president.

Foreign Minister Luiz Alberto Figueiredo called the situation “an inadmissible and unacceptable violation of Brazilian sovereignty.”

Last month, Brazil acknowledged its own past snooping. The newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo revealed that Brazil spied on foreign diplomats inside Brazil in 2003 and 2004. Its targets included officials from Russia, Iran and the United States.

“I see the situations as completely different,” Brazilian Justice Minister Jose Eduardo Cardozo told the paper.

In his letter, Snowden, a former NSA contractor, writes, “Today, if you carry a cell phone in Sao Paolo, the NSA can and does keep track of your location: they do this 5 billion times a day to people around the world. When someone in Florianopolis visits a website, the NSA keeps a record of when it happened and what you did there. If a mother in Porto Alegre calls her son to wish him luck on his university exam, NSA can keep that call log for five years or more. They even keep track of who is having an affair or looking at pornography, in case they need to damage their target’s reputation.

“American Senators tell us that Brazil should not worry, because this is not ‘surveillance,’ it’s ‘data collection.’ They say it is done to keep you safe. They’re wrong. There is a huge difference between legal programs, legitimate spying, legitimate law enforcement — where individuals are targeted based on a reasonable, individualized suspicion — and these programs of dragnet mass surveillance that put entire populations under an all-seeing eye and save copies forever. These programs were never about terrorism: they’re about economic spying, social control, and diplomatic manipulation. They’re about power.”

CNN’s Marilia Brocchetto contributed to this report.

(CNN) — NSA leaker Edward Snowden released a statement Monday, the same day a federal judge said that he believes the government’s once-secret collection of domestic phone records is unconstitutional. “I acted on my belief that the NSA’s mass surveillance programs would not withstand a constitutional challenge, and that the American public deserved a chance to see these issues determined by open courts. Today, a secret program authorized by a secret court was, when exposed to the light of day, found to violate Americans’ rights. It is the first of many,” it read. 
From CNN’s Nancy Baker

NSA Generic PhotosBill Mears, (CNN) — The government’s once-secret program of collecting domestic telephone communication records of Americans was ruled unconstitutional Monday by a federal court.

Judge Richard Leon said the surveillance program of so-called metadata was an apparent violation of privacy rights, ruling in favor of four plaintiffs.

“I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’ than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval,” said the judge, an appointee of President George W. Bush. “Surely, such a program infringes on ‘that degree of privacy’ that the Founders enshrined in the Fourth Amendment.”

But the judge stayed enforcement of his order barring the government from collecting the phone metadata, pending an appeal by the government. There was no initial indication whether the Obama administration would seek such an appeal.

Leon said the “plaintiffs in this case have also shown a strong likelihood of success on the merits of a Fourth Amendment claim. As such, they too have adequately demonstrated irreparable injury.”

The case is Klayman v. Obama (13-cv-881).

(CNN) — Spain has summoned U.S. Ambassador James Costos in the wake of allegations of widespread National Security Agency spying on world leaders, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said in Brussels Friday. The U.S. embassy in Madrid declined to comment, saying that Rajoy’s statement stands for itself.
From CNN’s Al Goodman in Madrid

Restore the 4th participates in Independence Day paradeBy Ed Payne, (CNN) — The National Security Agency broke privacy rules “thousands of times each year” since 2008, The Washington Post reported, citing an internal audit and other documents.

NSA leaker Edward Snowden — whose ongoing leaks have riled the Obama administration and intelligence community — provided material to the newspaper earlier this summer.

The May 2012 audit found 2,776 incidents of “unauthorized collection, storage, access to or distribution of legally protected communications” in the preceding 12 months, the Post reported in its story Thursday.

“Most were unintended. Many involved failures of due diligence or violations of standard operating procedure,” said the Post article by reporter Barton Gellman. “The most serious incidents included a violation of a court order and unauthorized use of data about more than 3,000 Americans and green-card holders.”

The paper said most incidents involved unauthorized surveillance of Americans or foreign intelligence targets in the country.

In one case, the NSA decided it didn’t need to report the unintended surveillance.

In 2008, a “large number” of calls placed from Washington were intercepted due to a programming error that confused the capitol’s 202 area code for 20, the international dialing code for Egypt. The information came from a “quality assurance” review that wasn’t distributed to the NSA overnight staff, according to the Post.

Separately, an NSA new collection method went undiscovered by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for months. The court, which has authority over some of the agency’s operations, ruled it unconstitutional.

Responding to the Post’s story, the NSA said, “A variety of factors can cause the numbers of incidents to trend up or down from one quarter to the next.”

Factors can include implementation of new procedures, technology or software changes and expanded access.

“The one constant across all of the quarters is a persistent, dedicated effort to identify incidents or risks of incidents at the earliest possible moment, implement mitigation measures wherever possible, and drive the numbers down,” the agency said.

The agency released another statement Thursday night defending its programs.

“NSA’s foreign intelligence collection activities are continually audited and overseen internally and externally,” it said. “When NSA makes a mistake in carrying out its foreign intelligence mission, the agency reports the issue internally and to federal overseers — and aggressively gets to the bottom of it.”

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill — who, according to the Post, had been left in the dark on this audit — expressed concern about not being told about it and called for more oversight.

“Press reports that the National Security Agency broke privacy rules thousands of times per year and reportedly sought to shield required disclosure of privacy violations are extremely disturbing,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California.

Pelosi called for “rigorous oversight” on the “incidents of non-compliance.”

Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told the Post in a statement late Thursday night that her committee “can and should do more to independently verify that NSA’s operations are appropriate, and its reports of compliance incidents are accurate.”

Snowden stepped forward publicly in June to claim responsibility for leaking to the media that the NSA had secretly collected and stored millions of phone records from accounts in the United States. The agency also collected information from U.S. companies on the Internet activity of overseas residents, he said.

Snowden fled first to Hong Kong and then to Russia before Moscow granted him temporary asylum despite pressure from the Obama administration to return him to the United States to face charges.

He has been charged with three felony counts, including violations of the U.S. Espionage Act, for the leaks.

Ashley Fantz. Ben Brumfield and Phil Black, MOSCOW (CNN) — National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden has been granted temporary asylum in Russia, and Snowden has left a Moscow airport, Russian lawyer Anatoly Kucherena told CNN on Thursday.

Snowden has legal status in Russia for one year, Kucherena said, but the attorney would not disclose his location, citing security reasons.

In an interview with state-run Russia 24, the lawyer said that Russia “didn’t have a choice” in granting his client asylum.

“It was a humane decision because Edward couldn’t come and buy himself tickets to Havana or any other countries since he had no passport,” the attorney told the news outlet. “So Russia behaved very honest in this situation.”

A former U.S. government contract employee, Snowden leaked to the media that the NSA had secretly collected and stored millions of phone records from accounts in the United States. The agency also collected information from U.S. companies on the Internet activity of overseas residents, he said.

Lawmakers in Washington have built a criminal case against him, and Snowden has been at the center of a sensational story about government surveillance, privacy and leaking for almost two months. He had been living in limbo at the airport in Moscow.

The U.S. is “extremely disappointed” that Russia granted asylum to Snowden, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters Thursday afternoon.

WikiLeaks, the secrets-busting site that has put itself firmly behind Snowden and another infamous leaker — recently convicted Bradley Manning — seemed thrilled about the news.

“We would like to thank the Russian people and all those others who have helped to protect Mr. Snowden. We have won the battle — now the war,” WikiLeaks said on Twitter.

In another tweet, the group said, “Edward Snowden was granted temporary asylum in Russia for a year and has now left Moscow airport under the care of WikiLeaks’ Sarah Harrison.”

And another tweet: “FLASH: We can now confirm that Edward Snowden’s welfare has been continuously monitored by WikiLeaks staff since his presence in Hong Kong.”

They also posted this statement about Snowden’s asylum bid on their website.

 

Letter to Russian Justice MinisterU.S. expecting move?

The Russian government “has been signaling … for some time” that it planned to grant Snowden temporary asylum, a U.S. official told CNN, saying, “I don’t think it’s a shock.” While the Russians have signaled their intentions publicly, the U.S. also learned of the country’s plans in private conversations between senior U.S. and Russian officials over the last several weeks, the official added.

Senior White House, Justice Department, State Department and CIA officials had been speaking privately with their counterparts in Russia since the crisis developed. The official did not, however, say that the U.S. had been formally notified of the decision in advance.

While the Obama administration has to make a decision about what to do next in its relations with Moscow, the U.S. national security agencies are hoping to continue cooperation with Russia on counterterrorism matters. The official said the April Boston terror attack “reinforced the need for that.”

The U.S. and Russia also are already cooperating on security for the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games, which the official noted are already being threatened by Chechen terrorists.

“Russia’s action today is a disgrace and a deliberate effort to embarrass” the U.S., Sen. John McCain said in a statement.

“It is a slap in the face of all Americans,” McCain said, calling for the U.S. to fundamentally rethink” its relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Harsh reactions from lawmakers continued to pour in.

Snowden is a “fugitive who belongs in a United States courtroom, not a free man deserving of asylum in Russia,” Sen. Robert Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement.

Russia’s action is “a setback to U.S.-Russia relations,” said Menendez, D-New Jersey. Snowden “will potentially do great damage to U.S. national security interests,” and the leaked information “could aid terrorists,” he said.

A CNN journalist saw the Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin in the hallway at the Capitol building and asked him what he thought. “I’m sorry they offered it (asylum) to him,” Levin answered.

CNN asked how the move might affect relations between U.S. and Russia.

“It doesn’t help them,” he answered. “I hope it doesn’t set them back too far because they already have plenty of challenges.”

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, in a statement, said that “Americans in Washington should consider this a game changer in our relationship with Russia.”

Russia “could not be more provocative,” and Thursday’s developments in Snowden’s case show that Putin has a “clear lack of respect for President Obama,” Lindsey said.

He called on Congress and the Obama administration to make it clear to Russia that the U.S. will react in a “firm” way.

Russia media quotes Snowden’s father

Snowden’s father Lon Snowden, who has vehemently supported his son, appeared on state-run Russia 24 Thursday. He’s grateful to Russia and the country’s decision to grant asylum is worth respect, he said.

He loves his son, he added, and is looking forward to getting a visa to visit Moscow.

On Wednesday night, a lawyer representing Edward Snowden’s father Lon Snowden appeared on “Anderson Cooper 360″ and said that Snowden was in good health in Russia and that his lawyer was open to hammering out an ending that would satisfy all.

Attorney Bruce Fein relayed the conversation he had with Kucherena, he told Cooper.

“There may be a time where it would be constructive to try and meet and see whether there can’t be common ground that everyone agrees would advance the interest, the United States, Mr. Snowden, Lon, his father, and the interest of Russia in trying to resolve this in a way that honors due process and the highest principles of fairness and civilization,” Fein said.

Kucherena earlier told Russian news agency Itar-Tass that he’d start working on Lon Snowden’s visa application.

“I telephoned him (Edward Snowden) today. We agreed that I would prepare an invitation for his father to visit Russia. I hope that the visa formalities will not be long,” Kucherena said Wednesday.

Snowden has said he is afraid he would not get a fair trial if he came back to the United States.

Fein has objected to the government’s intent to prosecute Snowden.

“The majority of the American people now have voiced grave concerns about the scope of that program. And it seems somewhat odd to be prosecuting somebody for disclosing government wrongdoing.”

He said that Snowden had the courage to spark a conversation that Obama has called “urgent.”

Snowden leaks again

On Wednesday, Snowden once again made himself a thorn in the side of the NSA.

The British daily The Guardian, which broke news of the NSA programs on the surveillance of phone and Internet metadata after Snowden leaked the information, revealed yet another NSA data collecting scheme.

The report says that according to the leaked documents, XKeyscore allows intelligence agents to see anything you’ve ever done on the Internet. With ease, they can observe your browsing history, searches, e-mails, chats and more, the report says, and it does not require a search warrant.

After the article was published, Snowden came forward as the source.

FBI and Snowden’s father

Snowden’s father told earlier Anderson Cooper that the FBI had wanted to fly him to Moscow to encourage the National Security Agency leaker to come home to the United States.

But Lon Snowden said he backed out because it was not clear he would be able to speak to his son.

When he asked FBI agents if they would be able to set up communications, they hesitated, he said. And that made him suspicious.

“I’m not going to get on a flight and go to Moscow and sit on a tarmac to be an emotional tool for you to use against him. I want to first be able to speak to my son,” he said he told the agents.

Lon Snowden has previously said that he wants his son to stay in Russia until he is confident he can get a fair trial in the United States.

“I am not confident at all,” he said.

Even though Manning was found this week to be not guilty of aiding the enemy — one of most serious charges he faced — the fact that the soldier was convicted of 20 charges including several under the Espionage Act made Snowden’s father uneasy, he said.

But, he added, his son’s case is “completely different” from Manning’s.

“I think my son has exercised discretion in the information that he has shared,” he said.

By the numbers

Russian citizens generally support the NSA leaker.

An opinion survey reported by RIA Novosti shows 51% of Russians back Edward Snowden’s actions. The rest either disapprove or haven’t made up their minds yet.

On the question of asylum, 43% are generally in favor of the idea, according to the Levada Center poll.

CNN’s Phil Black reported from Moscow. Ashley Fantz and Ben Brumfield in Atlanta wrote this story. CNN’s Barbara Starr and Ted Barrett contributed to this report.

(CNN) — Edward Snowden isn’t yet allowed to step outside the Moscow airport where he’s been holed up for weeks, despite reports to the contrary, his Russian lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, said Wednesday.

Russian media had reported Wednesday that the U.S. intelligence leaker was issued a document that would allow him to wait elsewhere in Russia while his request for temporary asylum was considered.

But Kucherena, after meeting with Snowden in Sheremetyevo International Airport’s transit area Wednesday, told reporters that Snowden hadn’t received the certificate and that he would remain in the transit area for now.

That certificate still could come at “any time,” Kucherena told CNN.

The news is the latest development in Snowden’s search for a place to settle after the United States charged him with espionage.

The former National Security Agency contractor, who admitted last month to revealing sweeping U.S. electronic surveillance programs to the news media, left Hong Kong for Moscow on June 23. Since then, he’s been unable to leave the airport’s transit area because the United States revoked his passport.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Wednesday the U.S. government is seeking “clarity” about Snowden’s status. And a spokeswoman for Secretary of State John Kerry said Washington would find it “disappointing” if Snowden were allowed to leave the airport.

Kerry spoke with his Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, on Wednesday morning, spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

“He reiterated our belief, which we stated publicly and privately, that Mr. Snowden needs to be returned to the U.S., where he will face a fair trial,” Psaki said.

He applied for temporary asylum in Russia on July 16. If granted, Snowden would be able to live in Russia, and even travel abroad, for at least a year, Kucherena said last week.

A ruling on the application could take months. But Kucherena has said that the Russian government could issue him a certificate that would allow him to leave the airport and wait somewhere else in the country while the application is considered.

On Wednesday, Kucherena said that he is in daily contact with Russian authorities about securing Snowden permission to leave the airport, state-run media outlet RIA Novosti reported.

If Snowden is granted temporary asylum in Russia, it’s unclear whether he’d try to move elsewhere. He’s previously indicated that he eventually wanted refuge in Latin America. But Kucherena suggested last week that Snowden might take his time in Russia.

“As far as I know, he’s planning to stay in Russia to learn Russian culture, Russian language and (to) live here,” Kucherena told CNN last week.

Washington has no extradition agreement with Russia, and FBI agents who work at the U.S. Embassy there have no authority to make arrests.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said this month that Snowden would need to “stop his work aimed at harming our American partners” if he wanted to stay in the country.

In a subsequent meeting with human rights activists and lawyers at the airport on July 12, Snowden reportedly said he wanted temporary asylum in Russia while awaiting safe transit to Latin America, and added that he would not harm the United States in the future.

The presidents of Venezuela and Bolivia have said their countries would give Snowden asylum, and Nicaragua’s president said he would offer it “if circumstances permit.” But he would need the legal ability to travel there — something that temporary asylum in Russia could give him.

The U.S. government has asked Russia to expel Snowden. Absent that, it will watch carefully the route he takes if he tries to reach one of the Latin American countries willing to take him in.

The United States could grab Snowden if any plane carrying him were to refuel in a country that respects U.S. arrest warrants. But he probably will be careful to avoid that scenario.

Nevertheless, the United States has sent provisional arrest warrants to a number of countries where Snowden could either transit or seek asylum, a U.S. official said last week.

(CNN) — Russia has given U.S. intelligence leaker Edward Snowden a document that would allow him to leave a Moscow airport and wait somewhere else in the country while his temporary-asylum request is considered, Russian news media reported Wednesday.

This comes eight days after Snowden applied for temporary asylum in Russia, where the former National Security Agency contractor arrived from Hong Kong after admitting to revealing sweeping U.S. electronic surveillance programs to the news media.

Since arriving at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport on June 23, Snowden had been unable to leave the airport’s transit area because the United States revoked his passport. He faces espionage charges in the United States.

Last week, a Russian lawyer assisting Snowden said he would receive a certificate showing that the asylum request is under consideration, and that certificate would allow him to legally exit the airport and wait elsewhere in Russia while the request is mulled.

Even with the certificate, it’s still not clear whether Russia will grant the temporary-asylum request — a decision that could take a few months. But if it does, Snowden would be able to live in Russia, and even travel abroad, for at least a year, lawyer Anatoly Kucherena said last week.

Washington has no extradition agreement with Russia and FBI agents who work at the U.S. Embassy there have no authority to make arrests.

If Snowden is granted temporary asylum in Russia, it’s unclear whether he’d try to move elsewhere. He’s previously indicated that he eventually wanted refuge in Latin America. But Kucherena suggested last week that Snowden might take his time in Russia.

“As far as I know, he’s planning to stay in Russia to learn Russian culture, Russian language and (to) live here,” Kucherena told CNN last week.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said earlier this month that Snowden would need to “stop his work aimed at harming our American partners” if he wanted to stay in the country.

In a subsequent meeting with human rights activists and lawyers at the airport on July 12, Snowden reportedly said he wanted temporary asylum in Russia while awaiting safe transit to Latin America, and added that he would not harm the United States in the future.

The presidents of Venezuela and Bolivia have said their countries would give Snowden asylum, and Nicaragua’s president said he would offer it “if circumstances permit.” But he would need the legal ability to travel there — something that temporary asylum in Russia could give him.

The U.S. government has requested Russia expel Snowden. Absent that, it will watch carefully the route he takes if he tries to reach one of the Latin American countries willing to take him in.

The United States could grab Snowden if any plane carrying him were to refuel in a country that respects U.S. arrest warrants. But he likely will be careful to avoid that scenario.

Nevertheless, the United States has sent provisional arrest warrants to a number of countries where Snowden could either transit or seek asylum, a U.S. official said last week.

CNN’s Jason Hanna, Phil Black and Carol Cratty contributed to this report

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