Throwing Good After Bad

dentures

My favorite cooking show is Two Fat Ladies: a pair of elderly British spinsters cook the old-school way, with a sprinkling of history and literature thrown in. In one episode Jennifer Paterson, the ‘color commentator’, said something like the following:

“Do you know, Clarissa, that Scottish women used to have all their teeth pulled as a coming-of-age present. They thought dentures were more elegant.”

“Impossible, Jennifer! That’s too ridiculous. It must be anti-Scotch propaganda.”

“Oh no, Clarissa. It isn’t!”

I asked myself: could people really be so foolish as to throw away a set of good teeth for dentures? Just for convenience or vanity?!?

About a week after watching that episode, my copy of Storyteller: The Authorized Biography of Roald Dahl came in the mail.

Roald Dahl also had most his teeth pulled– for vanity and convenience. As the author Donald Sturrock explains it:

Dahl made sure that all his literary royalties went to charity, but out of the sales and syndication of Shot Down Over Libya he allowed himself one important luxury– a splendid new set of false teeth, crafted by Lord Halifax’s dentist himself, with a plate made out of a “mixture of gold and platinum,” and a price tag of $380. This “new set of clackers,” as Dahl joyously described them, still left a “tidy hunk” for the RAF, but they were a source of great pleasure to their owner, who believed that in most cases real teeth were more trouble than they were worth. Removing them, in his view, was a radical but undoubtedly prophylactic measure– preferable to years of infections, toothache and expensive dental treatment.

Curiously, this was not an opinion he had formed as a result of his head injuries, but one arrived at while a trainee at Shell. Thus, at the age of twenty-one, just before he went to Tanganyika, he had paid a visit to Leslie Wright,  a top Harley Street dentist, to have most of his teeth extracted and artificial replacements fitted.

Now bear in mind readers, Roald Dahl was an educated man (at least as well educated as any college graduate now, though he didn’t go to university), and he made the choice to have his perfectly healthy teeth pulled sometime in 1937. So, we’re not talking about healthcare in the 1870s or some such.

Roald Dahl, the womanizer, the British Secret Agent, the literary genius, chose to swap his teeth for dentures. Imagine being one of his conquests, like Rep. Clare Boothe Luce, rolling in the hay with a young man then- SLURP!- his teeth fall out. Vote for Britain!

I shouldn’t laugh too much. There was a war on and men were scarce.

My point: Roald didn’t just make one stupid decision about his teeth. After having lived with dentures for some time, he tried to get other more impressionable people to make the same bad choice he did. Again, Sturrock’s words:

He [Roald Dahl] browbeat his mother into having her teeth removed as well, before turning his evangelical zeal on his siblings. They put up more resistance. But Roald continued to try and persuade them, getting increasingly impatient , foul-mouthed and irrational when Alfhild in particular refused to go. He was delighted when, in the mid-1950s, he persuaded his brother-in-law, Leslie Hansen, to go to an American dentist and have all his teeth extracted. Hansen’s subsequent decision not to have any new teeth fitted at all and to live the rest of his life chewing on his gums surprised him. But only momentarily. It soon became yet another eccentricity to savor.

Unsurprisingly, Leslie Hansen was plagued by mental instability. He had something like a nervous brake-down instigated by Roald’s American patron, Charles Marsh, who liked to play with weak people. But back to those vanity-dentures…

In my neck of the woods we have two sayings: “throwing good money after bad” and “misery loves company”. These idioms both apply to Roald Dahl’s dentures, because they describe an unwillingness to admit that one has been wrong despite ample evidence to the contrary. These idioms can also describe someone’s selfish desire to pull other people into the same bad choice, as part of the first screw-up’s ‘flight’ from the reality of their original  mistake. “See, I wasn’t wrong!” the Roald-Dahls say, “Here are more victims to prove it!”

This frame of mind, what the Germans call, Realitätsflucht, or ‘flight from reality,’ neatly describes NATO and the US’s involvement in the Ukraine, a situation that is devolving into a needless civil war.

I’m not quite into middle age yet, but even I can remember being ‘here’ before: on the eve of the destruction of the Former Yugoslavia; the invasion of Iraq; the destabilization of Libya.  I’ve seen enough American ‘humanitarian’ intervention to know that our armed services have been co-opted for private interests, they no longer serve ‘American’ interests in any way,  shape or form.

I have sympathy and compassion for young enlisted people who join the military thinking that they’re protecting the homeland. Everybody has the right to a learning curve. What disgusts me are those servicepeople who are old enough to remember Yugoslavia,  etc. and who repeatedly recommit to US adventurism overseas.

To The ‘Roald Dahls’ of the Military Industrial Complex: This isn’t about “duty”, an “oath” or “professionalism”. You’re old enough to know better. This is about taking personal responsibility for your actions. This is about growing up. What you have embarked on in the Ukraine is evil; you are fermenting unrest so that Western oligarchs can grab more resources. You’ve seen this movie before and you know how it ends. Conscientiously object. It’s the right thing to do. There is life after a dishonorable discharge; you’ll probably find it to be a better life, because you’ll have regained your self respect. Don’t pull a bunch of naive kids down with you.

I have a great deal of respect for Ukrainians: my favorite professors, coworkers, and my favorite writer have all come from this country. I was even engaged to a Ukrainian for a while. (Long story!)  I have some understanding of their culture and world-view and I respect them for it; they deserve better than an American-inspired kleptocracy.

The Ukrainians have suffered immensely in the past when Americans stirred the pot in Eastern Europe. Something like 8 million of them were starved by our ally Stalin in the aftermath of the American-funded regime change in Moscow, which put the Bolsheviks in power. It’s shameful that any Americans are involved in rolling those dice again. Shameful.

Out of (misplaced) pity for those seasoned US servicepeople who don’t opt out of fighting for Maidan, I hope that the Atheists are right, because I wouldn’t want to answer for igniting the next Holodomor.

You’ve been here before. Make the right choice.

 

 

 

Know Your History

russianspacepen

Happy Monday, readers. There are two separate parts to this post today.

1) I don’t have much to say re Putin’s surprise video message from Edward Snowden. My single contribution is: both the Russian and American intelligence apparatus have figured out how to use Snowden. These intel outfits are going to try to distract you from the important parts of what Snowden revealed: that private US companies partner with the NSA, and the NSA’s international buddies, against you.

2) On a more uplifting note, I’m fortunate to have readers who are smarter than I am and who know their history. Hubri5, the commenter who gave a.nolen the transcript to Snowden’s NDR interview, sent in some awesome links last week through Do You Hear: Snowden Uses Tails and Tor!

I’m going to summarize those links here, because it may save you time and I’m afraid these pages may disappear from the web. Welcome to the Cliff’s Notes edition of  “American Intelligence Built the Internet”.

Exhibit 1:

The hack of the year

November 13, 2007
The Sidney Morning Herald, by Patrick Gray (apparently)

A Swedish hacker tells how he infiltrated a global communications network used by scores of embassies over the world using Tor.

[Dan] Egerstad gained access to 1000 high-value email accounts. He would later post 100 sets of sensitive email logins and passwords on the internet for criminals, spies or just curious teenagers to use to snoop on inter-governmental, NGO and high-value corporate email.

How did Egerstad do this?

The 22-year-old Swedish security consultant had merely installed free, open-source software – called Tor – on five computers in data centres around the globe and monitored it. Ironically, Tor is designed to prevent intelligence agencies, corporations and computer hackers from determining the virtual – and physical – location of the people who use it.

What did Dan see?

Initially it seemed that government, embassy, NGO and corporate staffers were using Tor but had misconfigured their systems, allowing Egerstad to sniff sensitive information off the wire. After Egerstad posted the passwords, blame for the embarrassing breach was initially placed on the owners of the passwords he had intercepted.

However, Egerstad now believes the victims of his experiment may not have been using Tor. It’s quite possible he stumbled on an underground intelligence gathering exercise, carried out by parties unknown.

“Parties Unknown” in 2007 maybe, but… NSA. (At least! Keep reading!)

[Egerstadt] “The whole point of the story that has been forgotten, and I haven’t said much about it, (is that) many of these accounts had been compromised,” he says. “The logins I caught were not legit users but actual hackers who’d been reading these accounts.”

In other words, the people using Tor to access embassy email accounts may not have been embassy staff at all. Egerstad says they were computer hackers using Tor to hide their origins from their victims.

So, being a good boy scout…

After a couple of months sniffing and capturing information, Egerstad was faced with a moral dilemma: what to do with all the intercepted passwords and emails.

So Egerstad set about notifying the affected governments. He approached a few, but the only one to respond was Iran. “They wanted to know everything I knew,” he says. “That’s the only response I got, except a couple of calls from the Swedish security police, but that was pretty much all the response I got from any authority.”

Frustrated by the lack of a response, Egerstad’s next step caused high anxiety for government staffers – and perhaps intelligence services – across the globe. He posted 100 email log-ins and passwords on his blog, DEranged Security. “I just ended up (saying) ‘Screw it, I’m just going to put it online and see what happens’.”

Dear readers, it may be that evil Tehran is the only government not part of the NSA’s/Corporate Digital America’s dragnet surveillance cabal. Whoa. Makes me think a little differently about those sanctions…

I’ve saved a copy of this Sidney Morning Herald webpage offline, if it goes away and you want to read the original thing, email me. adotnolen@gmx

What happened to Dan: picked up by the police, let go, and now it seems he doesn’t want to talk about Tor anymore.

Exhibit 2:

Tor Exit Nodes Harvest Huge Amounts of Sensitive Information

The following quote is courtesy of cryptogon.com, and was in turn taken from a website that is currently only available in German.

Members of the Teamfurry community got curious and took a look at the advertised configurations of a few randomly selected TOR exit-nodes. They stumbled on some extremely interesting results. There are, for example, exit-nodes which only forward unencrypted versions of certain protocols. One such node only accepts unencrypted IMAP and POP connections (TCP ports 143 and 110) and only forwards messenger connections from AIM, Yahoo IM and MSN Messenger if they are received on ports on which traffic is handled as plain text. The same procedure is applied to Telnet and VNC connections, used for remote access to systems. Further, there are systems which are only interested in specific destinations and, for example, exclusively forward HTTP packets bound for MySpace and Google. HTTPS traffic to these destinations is, however, blocked.

These peculiar configurations invite speculation as to why they are set up in this way. The Teamfurry blog declines to go so far as to impute nefarious motives to these nodes. Nevertheless, the report does raise the question of whether users should route personal data via such nodes. It is certainly generally believed that Chinese, Russian and American government agencies operate TOR exit-nodes. Large companies and illegal hacker groups are also thought to operate exit-nodes. Looking through the list of TOR exit-nodes, it is striking that the number of exit-nodes in China and the US has increased disproportionately over the last year.

Here’s TeamFurry’s website, it hasn’t been updated since 2009.

Exhibit 3:

High-Traffic Colluding Tor Routers in Washington, D.C., and the Ugly Truth About Online Anonymity

How somebody from Dubai set up a Tor router ‘team’ of computers in D.C., apparently to watch Tor traffic. Read on as the author, Kevin Flaherty, says loudly and slowly that the US military built the internet, so using the internet anonymously is kinda like sneaking into your work-from-home neighbor’s house and expecting not to get caught. You gotta be really smart and self-disciplined. (Btw, according to the author himself, he doesn’t even try to hide.)

Exhibit 4:

Spoiled Onions: Exposing Bad Tor Exit Relays

January 21st, 2014 via Spoiled Onions

The Spoiled Onions project will be one to watch,  folks. It’s funded by a Swedish outfit called Internetfonden. That link is in Swedish; it seems that Internetfonden gets support from .SE (an English link). ‘.SE’, or ‘The Internet Infrastructure Foundation’, is responsible for Swedish top level domains and developing the Swedish internet.  So, erm, don’t tell Langley, okay?

But, I’m not a spook-snob, so if Spoiled Onions write papers that make sense, I’m not going poo-poo them just because Säpo doesn’t have as much money as the CIA. In fact, Spoiled Onions should be required reading, if only because Stockholm’s interests don’t overlap 100% with American ones. Here’s Spoiled Onions’ first paper, it’s worth browsing  the pdf. Summary: I guess the Russians are the ones setting up malicious exit relays… (because the Americans watch the network some other way?!) Those sneaky Ruskies!

But seriously, it’s clear that US intelligence and their European allies maintain Tor, the Russians have found a way get more than their ‘fair’ cut of the information using poorly-configured exit nodes. #RussianSpacePen

Thank you, Hubri5!

Do You Hear: Snowden Uses Tails and TOR!

As I write this, Twitter is being spammed with hundreds of users tweeting out the exact same message:

If you search for ‘NSA’ on Twitter now, you’ll face a wall of these EXACT SAME tweets, sent by different accounts of course.

Well, sort of . Variations on Google, Amazon and Ebay accounts have sent multiple copies of this same message:

There seem to be at least five dummy accounts for each company.

Other ‘identities’ that are heavily represented in this spam-tsunami feature 1) young men with Arabic sounding names like this chap:

2) young ladies with sultry avatars:

3) Beauty/Horoscope/Heath feeds that have suddenly developed an interest in Snowden:

Somebody called ‘Ehad’ has been really busy!

I’ll just go out and say it: an organization with hundreds of Twitter users at its beck and call has decided to push Tor, The Onion Router, and it’s software Tails as ‘the software Snowden uses to keep safe’. This organization doesn’t seem to worry that Amazon, Ebay or Google will get pissy about their logos being used in the operation. This organization decided to swamp Twitter in one big Tails ad after the close of business on April 15th, the day when US taxes are due. (At least that is what my Twitter stream is showing me.)

The article being pushed most is Joe Fingas’ “Here’s the software that helps Edward Snowden Avoid the NSA“. The piece is two paragraphs long– perfect for those of us with a short attention span:

Edward Snowden hasn’t escaped the NSA’s watchful eyes purely by exploiting lax security — he also uses the right software. We now know that he communicates with the media using Tails, a customized version of Linux that makes it easy to use Tor’s anonymity network and other tools that keep data private. The software loads from external drives and doesn’t store anything locally, so it’s relatively trivial for Snowden and his contacts to discuss leaks without leaving a trace.

The underlying technology isn’t completely original, and it’s not perfect; Tails’ open source code and anonymous developer base help resist pressure to include spy-friendly back doors, but there are still potential security holes. Users also have to be careful with their choices of internet services while using Tails, as the wrong ones could give the whole game away. Even with those concerns in mind, the software is a big help to Snowden, journalists and others that want to keep their conversations under wraps with a minimum of effort.

 

That’s it.

Now this will seem odd to people who watched Snowden’s SXSW talk a few weeks ago, where he stated that Tor was useful for blocking run-of-the-mill spybots, but not good for journalists or activists who might be targeted for NSA surveillance.

Do you think Snowden thought he might have been targeted for surveillance once he signed up to work with the CIA/NSA/BoozAllen? He certainly knew Laura Poitras was under surveillance. So why would he use TOR/Tails for ‘keeping safe’ when he clearly stated at SXSW that these tools are not good for targeted individuals?

The people who Twitter lets spam messages like the ones I’ve posted; the people who are trying to spin Snowden’s message; the people who keep hundreds of internet trolls on payroll to spin public discourse; these are the people who are promoting TOR.

You know, TOR– paid for by The Broadcasting Board of Governors, the same American Government outfit that spins for Carlos Garcia-Perez, director of the  Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB) and Champion of ZunZuneo.

(ZunZuneo is the US government’s attempt to influence public discourse in Cuba and destabilize the country.)

TOR is an American intelligence asset paid for by one of Washington’s top propaganda outfits. Joe Fingas is either really stupid, ignorant or a cheap shill for the NSA. Klint Finley of WIRED is just as bad.

… and one message for the Associated Press: Twitter needs to be ‘outed’  as a spy tool, just as you claim to have done with ZunZuneo. Or is the AP just part of the problem? ;)

Internet community, you’ve been warned. If you want security, start thinking along these lines.

 

Liberal Hollywood and the CIA

APphoto_Book Review Company Man

George Tenet calls it “a must read”. Why is classified.

Howdy readers! A fun one today. Former CIA acting General Counsel John Rizzo has written a new book, Company Man: Thirty Years of Controversy and Crisis in the CIA, in which he claims liberal Hollywood actors spy for the CIA.

“The CIA has long had a special relationship with the entertainment industry, devoting considerable attention to fostering relationships with Hollywood movers and shakers—studio executives, producers, directors, big-name actors,” John Rizzo, the former acting CIA general counsel, wrote in his new book.

“People might assume that since Hollywood leans to the political left, the CIA’s relationships “would be with the sort of conservative picket of Hollywood,” Rizzo said in an interview. “Well, that’s not true.  People one would normally associated with liberal causes have assisted CIA.”

a.nolen readers know the assumption that ‘the CIA is a right-wing organization’ is an historically inaccurate one; OSS and CIA leadership have been left-leaning since day one, and were eager to work with their Stalin-era Soviet counterparts whenever possible (outside of public oversight)!

Here’s the catch with Company Man: Rizzo can’t say who in Hollywood is a spook. That’s classified. But he can give us details, and using those a.nolen will make some obvious suggestions.

The CIA also recruits actors to give more visibility to propaganda projects abroad, such as a documentary secretly produced by the agency, Rizzo said. And the agency sometimes takes advantage of the door-opening cachet that movie stars and other American celebrities enjoy. A star who met a world leader, for example, might be asked for details about that meeting.

The CIA has officials assigned full time to the care and feeding of Hollywood assets, Rizzo wrote.

Now let’s see– which Hollywood figures bear the hallmarks of CIA groupies? John Cusack is the pet actor at documentary-maker Laura Poitras’ Freedom of the Press foundation. And then there’s actor/athlete Denis Rodman and his buddy Kim Jong Un; perhaps their friendship was sweetened by the fact lingerie Woman’s Basketball wasn’t a money-maker. And who wants to place bets that Angelina Jolie with her UN work and strange movie about the Former Yugoslavia isn’t on Langley’s payroll? (Hollywood’s tough on older women…)

“These are people who have made a lot of money basically making stuff up,” the colleague said. “A lot of them, at least the smarter and more self-aware ones, realize that what they do makes them ridiculously rich but is also ephemeral and meaningless in the larger scheme of things. So they’re receptive to helping the CIA in any way they can, probably in equal parts because they are sincerely patriotic and because it gives them a taste of real life intrigue.”

Rizzo described a scene from “years ago” when one of the CIA’s Hollywood recruiters came to him with news that a major film star wanted to work for the agency after he found out a rival actor had been doing so. “Now this actor was offering his own name and services to us.  Free of charge. Anything he could do. Just out of his patriotic duty.”

The USA is so lucky to have smart, self-aware Hollywoodites who want to make the world a better place by working for the CIA. Let’s consider who these geniuses might be.

Here’s US Patriot/liberal George Clooney telling Ukraine how it’s gonna be:

And Arnie doing the same (Arnie’s been interested in government for a long time!):

And of course, Hayden Panettiere:

And those three are just for the Ukraine!

Perhaps less well known than the regime-change amigos is Goldie Hawn and her work on ‘mindfulness‘ at the World Economic Forum in Davos this year, which is all a little MK-ULTRA for me. If any Global World Leaders wig out in the next 12 months, we’ll know why. :)

@BennyJohnson is Good at his Job

Benny Johnson, democracy manager.

Benny Johnson, democracy manager.

There’s a philosophical idea called ‘the Hegelian dialectic’ which says that  by combining a thesis with an antithesis you can find truth, or at least a higher understanding (synthesis). For instance:

1) Thesis: ‘Left’ and ‘right’ are two different things.

2) Antithesis: My ‘left’ could be the same as your ‘right’,  so ‘left’ and ‘right’ can be equal.

3) Synthesis: ‘left’ and ‘right’ must be defined according to something outside themselves.

This might seem trivial to you, but consider what happens if your motivation isn’t to find truth, but to reach a foregone conclusion. Let’s take politics for an example. If you want people to come to a certain conclusion, you need to control what ‘left’ and ‘right’ is. USAID recently tried to do this with Zunzuneo in Cuba: they tried to use cell networks to twist public debate in a way that benefits Washington (or at least which benefits the Cubans who Washington puts in charge of anti-Havana broadcasting).

Imagine that you’re an internet content producer who is trying to do the same thing in the US that Carlos Garcia-Perez tried to do in Cuba. You’ve got a tired program which hasn’t changed since 1946, namely, you promote a socialist agenda that’s cool with Global-Robber-Barron Capitalism. How do you present  ‘conservative’ ideas that won’t undermine your overarching message?

Hire Benny Johnson! Benny exemplifies teaching through entertainment: a method of crowd control which I wrote about here, in Soft News Stories. Benny entertains us and tries to teach us what to think in the process; according to his own Twitter blurb, he ‘makes internet all day long‘. That’s why venues like Salon pay attention to him.

Benny Johnson is what the Mainstream Media would like ‘conservatives’ to be. They trot out Benny to promote ideas that indirectly promote their cause, provide an ‘antithesis’, which combined with Robber-Baron-approved socialism, congeals to an outcome the Mainstream Media finds desirable.

How does Benny do this?

1) Promote ‘homophobic’ ideas while cultivating a gay image. (Synthesis: “Benny Johnson is obviously a self-hating closet homosexual,” and “Conservatives are hypocrites. ‘Cause seriously, who could eat that much Chick-Fil-A!”

2) Race-baiting. Check out what Benny had for dinner on MLK day, which he tweeted on Twitter: Gin’n’Juice with a side of Fried Chicken.

And how about this one…

Race-baiting is a staple to Benny’s act, catch a choice selection here.

Remember, readers, that according to the Mainstream Media, ‘conservatives’ are racist xenophobes, who are *probably* just secretly jealous of minorities, note Benny’s gratuitous plagiarism of Black culture: #YOLO. (‘You only live once,’ or ‘YOLO’ was made famous by rapper Drake.)

3) Straw-manning. Look at the funny White people, everybody! See, White people are like this! Benny attends Annapolis Croquet Tournament trolling for some internet fodder.

Oh, and uh…

Why would an outfit like BuzzFeed be so eager to document Annapolis Croquet 2014? Why post fliers and send their newest editor? Because the Mainstream Media believes that White people live in the past and are increasingly irrelevant– and what better place to snap pics bolstering those beliefs than a fancy-dress croquet party?

Another aspect of straw-manning is Benny’s work on Snowden, which I’ve documented elsewhere. Mainstream media take-home: ‘conservatives’  like Benny are militaristic assholes who hate Edward Snowden and want to live in a fascistic police state.

4)Demoralization. According to the mainstream media, Libertarians– hell, any movement which believes in small government– do not offer a politically viable option. They’re just kinda funny and immature: don’t take them any more seriously than you take Benny himself!

23 Libertarian Problems by Benny Johnson; Yes, I do sleep on a copy of Atlas Shrugged

Mainstream Media: “So er, if any of you @BennyJohnson followers are thinking along libertarian lines, just grow up already, okay?”

Benny Johnson used to work for Glenn Beck at The Blaze; I’ve written elsewhere how Glenn Beck is used to derail ‘small-government’ movements like The Tea Party. Benny proved his usefulness in college by setting up Republican groups and then doing self-depreciating things like sending loads of beef jerky to deployed US soldiers. (Mainstream media: “Huh, huh, the meat-heads like dried meat. Meat. Huh, huh.”)

Of course, Benny would be no use to anyone without the ‘thesis’ pundits who bite on his provocations:

22 Attacks On Obama And The Left From BuzzFeed’s Newest Editor: BuzzFeed Turns To Glenn Beck’s The Blaze For New Hire by OLIVER WILLIS

Or, this sad dude:

By all means, check Benny’s Twitter feed for MANY more examples. As I said, Benny’s very good at his job.

Synthesis: @BennyJohnson is BuzzFeed’s parody of the people @BennyJohnson is supposed to speak for. There really is no alternative to The American Neo-Liberal Way; so get out of the way or follow. Huh, huh. Follow.

 

PS. Many thanks to …

Alex Pareene writes about politics for Salon and is the author of “The Rude Guide to Mitt.” Email him at apareene@salon.com and follow him on Twitter @pareene

And..

methadonna methadonna used to conduct social media psyops campaigns for george soros. he is still waiting for his paycheck.

… without these fools’ thesis-ramblings I would have had to spend a few minutes more on Twitter.

Heartbleed

poulhenningkamp

What being ahead of the curve looks like.

I never get tired of plugging smart people. Heard of “Heartbleed“– the OpenSSL ‘flaw’ that left two-thirds of the internet vulnerable to hackers?

The agency [NSA] found the Heartbeat glitch shortly after its introduction, according to one of the people familiar with the matter, and it became a basic part of the agency’s toolkit for stealing account passwords and other common tasks,” Riley wrote.

“Putting the Heartbleed bug in its arsenal, the NSA was able to obtain passwords and other basic data that are the building blocks of the sophisticated hacking operations at the core of its mission, but at a cost,” he added. “Millions of ordinary users were left vulnerable to attack from other nations’ intelligence arms and criminal hackers.”

Funny, but this sort of situation with OpenSSL is exactly what Poul-Henning Kamp warned us about in his FOSDEM 2014 talk. In fact, I remember him calling OpenSSL the NSA’s “crown jewel“. Catch the full audio here; a transcript of the pertinent part here. Kamp uses OpenSSL as the example of NSA-compromised open source code. I am comforted that at least FOSDEM 2014 attendees and a.nolen readers got a ‘heads-up’ a month before the rest of the world. Pays to check this blog every so often. ;)

Here’s a quick explanation of how the Heartbleed vulnerability works. Read Poul-Henning Kamp’s blog here (in English). Read about his famous Bike Shed here; ‘arguing over the color of a Bike Shed’ is a metaphor for useless, red-herring open source programming squabbles that derail projects. Otherwise known as ‘PAINTINT’ … just kidding.

So She Cleared Customs This Time

greenwald poitras not being harrassed

What’s wrong with this picture? No government harassment! WTF?

Thank God today was not one of the “over forty” times US customs officials detained Laura Poitras!

It seems that the US government is happier with Laura after her Snowden work than it was when she was bopping around Iraq with Sunni Insurgent leaders.

*UPDATE*

Fantastic! Truth wins. I can breath easier now and file my taxes.

If you’re wondering why I’m being sarcastic about this HISTORIC visit to NYC which is also a victory for Freedom of the Press, please read my posts on Laura’s undercover work; why I think she and Glenn are doing Snowden a disservice; and how creepy her chauffeur is.

If you like those posts, there’s plenty more on my Current Events page.

PS. I just happened to notice this gem pulling tweets for today’s post:

More fun with Debian, everyone! Don’t assume Jacob’s making it better. Learn a bit of the history around this operating system from somebody who really knows what they’re talking about, Poul Henning Kamp.

What do I do now, Chuck?

I worked for an ex-professor once; this prof used to teach at MIT. He told me an anecdote from his days at The Institute:

“It was 1990 and I was serving on some committee with Chuck Vest, the president. Cambridge was heady with the fall of The Wall, end of The Cold War. Anything seemed possible– a new era for the good guys.

So you can imagine my confusion when I walked into Chuck’s office to find him slumped over his desk with dark circles around his eyes: ‘What the f*ck do I do now, Bob?’ he asked me.”

Names have been changed to protect the more innocent party ;).

In that spirit, I would like to share with you a very short article from Antiwar.com, written by Jason Ditz.

New Cold War: US Spies, Military Leaders Refocus on Russia

Soviet-Era Specialties May Become Relevant Again

by Jason Ditz, April 07, 2014

The past couple of decades haven’t been particularly kind to people like experts of anti-submarine warfare. The Taliban doesn’t have submarines, or a coastline even.

Since the end of the Cold War, a lot of transitions have come, with the military focusing more on counter-insurgency and the CIA moving away from spying to focus on assassinating people.

When US officials call the annexation of Crimea a crisis, what many of them really hear is opportunity, a chance to start up a new Cold War, and a chance for the aging cold warriors to find their specialties relevant once more.

That’s particularly true for spies with expertise in Russia, who are hoping to see a scramble back into a field that was lavished with funding for decades, but which in recent years just wasn’t as sexy as aiming drone strikes at people in rural parts of Pakistan.

——

Some things never change, eh?

 

 

Soft News Stories

Feel your IQ dropping?

Feel your IQ dropping?

ZunZuneo, the Cuban ‘Twitter’, was one of many network-based tools which the US government used in hopes of destabilizing Havana. Some are still ticking over, like Martinoticias, which RussiaToday describes as “spamming cellphone users since 2011″.

Martinoticias is funded by the US government’s Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB), its director is Carlos Garcia-Perez.

Viva Cuba!

Viva Cuba!

Check out Garcia-Perez’s talk at The Heritage Foundation, courtesy of the Broadcasting Board of Governors. (You know, the people who bring you The Onion Router, TOR.)

Other psy-ops include Priamideo, which has its own banner at the top of Martinoticias’ website:

Comunicado de la Oficina de Transmisiones a Cuba

Piramideo es una red de comunicación social que permite a los cubanos dentro de la isla comunicarse por medio de mensajes de texto, sin censura ni filtros.

Now, I don’t speak Spanish, but I do speak Technocrati (US), and my guess is that little blurb reads something like: “Piramideo is a social communications tool that gives Cubans information choices free from censorship.” Click on ‘mas‘ and you’ll get Garcia-Perez’s blurb on the service, which makes very clear that the program is sponsored by the US government. But hey, who reads the fine print?

Also on Washington’s rosters is Commotion, another USAID-funded venture that gives young Cubans access to films and online games with anti-Cuban-government overtones.

USAID is lead by Rajiv Shah, Obama-appointee and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation alum.

Rajiv Shah will help you out.

Rajiv Shah will help you out.

Apparently, the Associated Press, AP, lead investigations which ‘outed’ these US government programs (which were never very secret, by the way). Why now AP? And when are you going to ‘out’ Twitter?

And let’s dig a layer deeper– which companies are among the 200 “providers of text messages that the Cuban government has threatened should they continue spamming citizens? Any US telecoms in that bunch or do I have to call Petraeus?

Enough. I don’t really care about infighting between the great and good. What does interest me is how these programs sought to achieve their goals. Here’s how Russia Today describes it:

The US government had admitted setting up a ‘Cuban Twitter’, which was created as a text messaging service to avoid the island’s strict internet laws. ZunZuneo, which is Cuban slang for the tweet of a hummingbird, aimed to build-up followers by giving them access to soft news stories, such as baseball and music.

However, once a critical mass was reached then political stories would be introduced looking to tarnish the image of Cuba’s government. The project, which was financed by the US Agency for International Aid and Development (USAID) hoped, would lead to demonstrations and eventually a ‘Cuban Spring’.

This strategy is EXACTLY the same strategy I’ve been trying to develop in my writing. Be a storyteller. If you want to include a message, you can only do so after you’ve paid your ‘entertainment dues‘ to the reader. Write things that they want to read. If you just plug your agenda, it sounds preachy and people switch off. Roald Dahl, the Washington-based British Spy, understood this too.

‘Strategy’ recap: Lull with fun, then plant the seed of new ideas surreptitiously.

At best, this communication method encourages people to think despite themselves; at worse, it’s Rajiv Shah of USAID and his handlers.

Another thing to take home: entertainment– be it music, video games, films– is a teaching tool. Entertainment primes the mind to be receptive to ideas: this is the foundation of art-based therapies, advertizing… so many crowd-control techniques. The past week has merely exposed entertainment’s teaching capacity as applied to social media.

What do the events in Cuba say about Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, Gawker, BuzzFeed, Business Insider… let’s not be arrogant and think these operations only target third-worlders. The cat is out of the bag folks, and the internet generation is suffering from one big mind-****.

No more LOL cats!

lolcats truth

ZunZuneo

Joe McSpedon

Joe McSpedon, another washed-up intelligence agent.

Caught with their hand in the technology cookie-jar again!

Joe McSpedon, employee of  USAID and probably some other American government agency, has just been ‘outed’ for trying to destabilize Cuba with a Twitter-like service called ‘ZunZuneo‘.  The goal was to spread discontent– a technique Russian spies call ‘provokatzya’  (провокация)– via a social network. According to TheTimesUnion.com, the US government was also collecting personal data “in the hope that the information might be used someday for political purposes“.

‘ZunZuneo’ is Cuban slang that means roughly the same as ‘Twitter’; the boys in the back room were getting creative.

Laugh you may, but stop and consider what this fiasco says about Twitter and it’s founders Jack Dorsey, Evan Williams, Biz Stone and Noah Glass. Twitter is a San Fransisco-based company.

This botched operation is every shade of stupid, because not only has it drawn attention to a ‘tool’ used by US intelligence, it’s implicated USAID also. USAID, a ‘charitable’ outfit that Washington uses to send money to people it likes, has had plenty of mud stick to it in the past: read this post about how USAID and Pierre Omidyar are involved in destabilizing the Ukraine. However, now USAID is bound up in the world of  techspionage; ‘frenemy’ network services which serve their masters at Langley.

For some reason, I find all of this hilarious. The Emperor is stark naked, and he’s got the body of a pudgy, middle-aged, chocolate milk drinker.

Don’t think the developed world is safe from these stupid schemes. Follow some of the more rabid pro-Washington commentators on Twitter and the command chain of a handful of operations will become evident quickly. The unrest in the Ukraine provided some funny examples, my favorite of which is this tweet, which was released the day before Western media outlets announced Yanukovych had fled Kiev:

The tweeter, Mark M Mullen, is an activist on behalf of the country of Georgia, and who was in San Fransisco when he sent this tweet. (Or so he told me via PM.)

US Intelligence community: tweets like that happen when you put arrogant kids in charge of things they don’t understand. But don’t beat yourself up– take a deep breath and get some Nesquik.

P.S.

“The project, dubbed “ZunZuneo,” slang for a Cuban hummingbird’s tweet, was publicly launched shortly after the 2009 arrest in Cuba of American contractor Alan Gross.”

a.nolen is now taking bets on where Mr. Alan Gross will turn up next. Your choices are 1) in academia or 2)  at an investment firm.