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Tag: Snowden

Forsyth namechecks Snowden

Wednesday, 14 November, 2018

What if the most dangerous weapon in the world is not a nuke in a backpack but a 17-year-old boy with a brilliant mind, “who can run rings around the most sophisticated security services across the globe, who can manipulate that weaponry and turn it against the superpowers themselves?” That’s the premise of The Fox, the new thriller from Frederick Forsyth. Born in the year of the Munich Agreement, when British, French and Italian leaders agreed to Hitler’s demand for the German annexation of the Sudetenland, Forsyth has grown up in a world that has experienced its share of evil in his 80 years. The latest manifestation, in his latest novel, is the Vozhd, a Russian word meaning “the Boss” or, in the world of crime, “the Godfather”. When Forsyth was 15, the old Vozhd, Joseph Stalin, died. The new Vozhd is Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin and one of his prized assets arrived in Russia in 2013, having fled from Hawaii. Snippet:

“When defector and traitor Edward Snowden flew to Moscow it is believed he carried over one and a half million documents on a memory stick small enough to be inserted before a border check into the human anus. ‘Back in the day’, as the veterans put it, a column of trucks would have been needed, and a convey moving through a gate tends to be noticeable.

So, the computer took over from the human, the archives containing trillions of secrets came to be stored on databases… Matching pace, crime also changed, gravitating from shoplifting through financial embezzlement to today’s computer fraud, which enables more wealth to be stolen than ever before in the history of finance. Thus the modern world gave rise to the concept of computerized hidden wealth but also to the computer hacker. The burglar of cyberspace.”

The Fox


McLuhan’s prediction of World War III was spot on

Saturday, 30 June, 2018

1970. What a year: The Beatles released their 12th and final album, Let It Be; Brazil defeated Italy 4–1 to win the World Cup in Mexico; Soviet author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature; Hafez al-Assad seized power in Syria; Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin died; Ted Cruz and Rachel Weisz were born, and the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City was topped out at 1,368 feet (417 metres), making it the tallest building in the world.

And Marshall McLuhan’s Culture Is Our Business was published in 1970. Due to the adventurous layout of the book, this collection of quotes and ideas met with mixed reviews and it has dated considerably since publication, but the gems still shine:

“Privacy invasion is now one of biggest knowledge industries.” (page 24)

“World War III is a guerrilla information war with no division between military and civilian participation.” (page 88)

Who, in 1970, anticipated the business models of Facebook and Google? Who in 1970 would have imagined a world of data thieves like Snowden, disinformation channels like Russia Today, charlatans like Assange, battlefields like Twitter and the cyberspace battlegrounds of World War III…? Only one person did and he was Marshall McLuhan. The Canadian philosopher, professor of English literature, cultural critic and communications theorist coined the expression “the medium is the message” and his work is rightly regarded as a cornerstone of media theory study.

Culture Is Our Business


Fighting the maskirovka of the Russian Elephant

Wednesday, 22 November, 2017 0 Comments

“As the West considers how to respond to the Kremlin’s use of bots, trolls, bullshit news, dark ads and hacks as tools of foreign policy, the way we describe things will define whether we prevail.” So writes Peter Pomerantsev in Beware the Russian Elephant.

The evil we’re up against is fundamental and it was constructed during the last century as part of what is called maskirovka, a Russian doctrine that embraces military deception, ranging from camouflage to denial and deceit to propaganda. It also embraces a cast of unsavoury characters that includes Putin and Snowden, who are now the mortal enemies of the West. So how can they be opposed, overcome?

Although it does appear at times as if the Kremlin has the upper hand, Peter Pomerantsev is far from defeatist because the Kremlin finds itself in a dilemma, he says. Snippet:

“…it needs the media fireworks of a verbal conflict with the West to distract from its own failures domestically and to give it meaning, but it is also reliant on the very same West for advertising to fund its hate speech-filled television channels, for technology to extract its oil, and for banks and law courts to protect its elite’s investments. These are the spots to target. If this were a war, after all, you would never engage the enemy in the battle he desires. There are more painful measures to take against his active measures.”

This is our fight. These are our freedoms. We cannot surrender.


Assange, Snowden and Putin walk into a bar

Thursday, 9 March, 2017 3 Comments

First thing: Assange and Snowden and working with Putin. Second thing: Don’t believe what you read in the papers, especially regarding the WikiLeaks claims that the CIA can intercept encrypted WhatsApp and Signal messages. It can’t. If you have a secure device, then WhatsApp and Signal are secure. If your device is insecure, nothing is secure. As Robert Graham of Errata Security puts it:

The CIA didn’t remotely hack a TV. The docs are clear that they can update the software running on the TV using a USB drive. There’s no evidence of them doing so remotely over the Internet. If you aren’t afraid of the CIA breaking in an installing a listening device, then you should’t be afraid of the CIA installing listening software.

The CIA didn’t defeat Signal/WhatsApp encryption. The CIA has some exploits for Android/iPhone. If they can get on your phone, then of course they can record audio and screenshots. Technically, this bypasses/defeats encryption — but such phrases used by Wikileaks are highly misleading, since nothing related to Signal/WhatsApp is happening. What’s happening is the CIA is bypassing/defeating the phone. Sometimes. If they’ve got an exploit for it, or can trick you into installing their software.

Bottom line: Assange and Snowden are Russian agents. Bonus joke: Snowden and Putin and a dog walk into a bar in Moscow:

“Ow!”
“Ow!”
“Woof!”


The Fable of Edward Snowden

Tuesday, 3 January, 2017 0 Comments

Book of the Year? It’s a bit premature at this point to be talking about annual awards but How America Lost Its Secrets: Edward Snowden, the Man and the Theft by Edward Jay Epstein will be a contender for the title come the end of 2017.

How America Lost Its Secrets: Edward Snowden, the Man and the Theft Epstein gave the world a preview in the Wall Street Journal on Friday and the subhead encapsulated the story: “As he seeks a pardon, the NSA thief has told multiple lies about what he stole and his dealings with Russian intelligence.” Snippet:

“The transfer of state secrets from Mr. Snowden to Russia did not occur in a vacuum. The intelligence war did not end with the termination of the Cold War; it shifted to cyberspace. Even if Russia could not match the NSA’s state-of-the-art sensors, computers and productive partnerships with the cipher services of Britain, Israel, Germany and other allies, it could nullify the U.S. agency’s edge by obtaining its sources and methods from even a single contractor with access to Level 3 documents.

Russian intelligence uses a single umbrella term to cover anyone who delivers it secret intelligence. Whether a person acted out of idealistic motives, sold information for money or remained clueless of the role he or she played in the transfer of secrets — the provider of secret data is considered an ‘espionage source.’ By any measure, it is a job description that fits Mr. Snowden.”

He’s a thief and a traitor, is Mr Snowden.


A tremor of intent in Crimea

Monday, 24 March, 2014 1 Comment

The writer Anthony Burgess noticed his hand shaking one hungover morning in 1965. “That”, his wife said to him, “is a tremor of intent”. Thereupon, Burgess conceived an eschatological spy novel titled Tremor of Intent, which would offer an alternative to the humourless fiction of John le Carré and the jingoistic fantasy of Ian Fleming. By terming it an eschatological thriller, Burgess was expressing his view of the Cold War as the “ultimate conflict” for which Good and Evil were, he felt, inadequate terms.

Tremor of Intent Synopsis: The ageing, amoral MI6 Agent Denis Hillier, posing as a typewriter technician, journeys to Crimea aboard the cruise ship Polyolbion on a mission to infiltrate a convention of Soviet scientists and return to Britain his school friend Roper, who has defected to the Evil Empire. En route, he encounters the sexually curious sixteen-year-old Clara Walters, the obsequious steward Wriste and the sexually experienced Miss Devi, secretary to the sinister epicure Theodorescu. All of this allows the genius creator of A Clockwork Orange to describe hilariously graphic scenes involving food, drink, sex, politics, philosophy, history, religion, treason and murder. When Hillier is forced to spend three days in the seedy Babi Humayun (Sublime Portal) hotel overlooking the Bosphorus, Burgess hits his musical stride. Snippet:

“Istanbul disturbed him with its seven hills, as though Rome had tried to build herself on another planet. The names of architects and sultans rang in his mind in dull Byzantine gold — Anthemius, Isidorus, Achmet, Bajazet, Solyman the Magnificent. The emperors shrilled from a far past like desolate birds — Theodosius, Justinian, Constantine himself. His head raged with mosques. The city, in cruel damp heat, smelt of wool and hides and skins. Old filth and rusty iron, proud exports, clattered and thumped aboard under Galata’s lighthouse. Ships, gulls, sea-light. Bazaars, beggars, skinny children, charcoal fires, skewered innards smoking, the heavy tobacco reek, fat men in flannel double-breasteds, fed on fat.”

In this age of Putin and Snowden, it is our misfortune that there’s no Anthony Burgess around to novelize the comic aspects of their Cold War II symbiosis.


Snowden deserves life in Russia

Monday, 20 January, 2014 1 Comment

For an entire swathe of useful idiots, Edward Snowden is a hero. In fact, however, he’s a thief. password Worse still, he’s a traitor. In an eye-opening account of Snowden’s amorality, Warren Strobel and Mark Hosenball of Reuters reported that he gained access to his cache of documents by persuading some 25 of his fellow employees to give him their logins and passwords, saying he needed the information to help him do his job as systems administrator. Most of these colleagues were subsequently fired. It should be noted also that Snowden signed an oath, as a condition of his employment as an NSA contractor, not to disclose classified information, and he was well aware of the penalties for violating that oath. But he stole an estimated 1.7 million documents, anyway.

Then there’s Snowden’s admiration for the enemies of freedom, which became public in a statement he made in Moscow last July, soon after Vladimir Putin granted him asylum. He thanked the countries that had offered him support. “These nations, including Russia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Ecuador, have my gratitude and respect,” he declared, “for being the first to stand against human rights violations carried out by the powerful.” Earlier, Snowden had said that he sought refuge in Hong Kong because of its “spirited commitment to free speech and the right of political dissent.”

The man is either naïve or evil. Take your pick.

On Friday, President Obama limited Snowden to two mentions in a more than 5,000 word speech as he criticized his “unauthorised disclosures.” There was no suggestion of clemency, and there will be none. “It may seem sometimes that America is being held to a different standard, and the readiness of some to assume the worst motives by our government can be frustrating,” said President Obama. “No one expects China to have an open debate about their surveillance programs, or Russia to take the privacy concerns of citizens into account.”

Edward Snowden has sentenced himself to life in Russia, which is ruled by an unpleasantly authoritarian regime. He deserves his fate.

This just in: “The heads of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees suggested on Sunday that Edward J. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor, may have been working for Russian spy services while he was employed at an agency facility in Hawaii last year and before he disclosed hundreds of thousands of classified government documents.” The New York Times

Note: It’s telling that Snowden has not released any documents detailing the cyber-operations of Russia or China, even though he must have had access to the NSA’s reports on the hundreds or thousands of hacking campaigns that they have carried out over the years.


Brazil is over

Tuesday, 7 January, 2014 0 Comments

For the Arsenal and England forward Theo Walcott, Brazil is very over. He’ll miss the rest of the season and the World Cup with a ruptured knee ligament. And it’s not looking so sunny, either, for the host country. “More than six years later, the outlook for Brazil’s oil industry, much like the Brazilian economy itself, is more sobering. Oil production is stagnant, the state-controlled oil company, Petrobras, is hobbled by debt, and foreign oil companies are wary of investing here.” So reports the Washington Post today in a piece titled “Brazil’s oil euphoria hits reality hard.”

And the Wall Street Journal piles it on: “Even Brazil, which has had far more responsible economic management than Venezuela or Argentina, is starting to struggle with rising prices and a boom in credit that is starting to turn. Last year, one Brazilian summed up the Atlantic bloc harshly: ‘Brazil is becoming Argentina, Argentina is becoming Venezuela, and Venezuela is becoming Zimbabwe.'”

Everything that seemed to be going so brilliantly for Brazil has started to go sour of late. The preparations for the World Cup have been marred by delays, deaths, and demonstrations against the diversion of resources from social spending to football stadiums and, in the bigger arena, Mexico’s economic revival has checked Brazil’s hopes of leading a renascent Latin America in the global power game. Last year was horrible for all the BRICs but the home of Pele was especially hard-hit. This year, US Fed tightening could spark a run on Brazilian assets. With the hosting of the World Cup and the Olympics, Brasilia dreamed of taking a leading place on the world stage. Now, the swagger is less assured and the talk is filled with the familiar complaints about a big country that never quite lives up to its promise and remains uncertain about its role.

Indicative of the doubt, is Brazil’s attitude to the American data thief, Edward Snowden. He wrote an open letter last month saying that he would assist the Brazilian government in its investigations into NSA spying in exchange for asylum. Publicly, the foreign ministry has hedged, saying it has not received a formal asylum request and therefore isn’t considering it, but it was the risk involved in angering Washington that prevented President Dilma Rousseff’s leftist government from easing Snowden’s passage from the grimness of Putin’s icy realm to the warmth of the Copacabana.

When it came to making the challenge, Brazil blinked. Not a good omen for the Seleção, that, this year.


What the Time ‘POY’ award tells us about Time

Thursday, 12 December, 2013 0 Comments

Time magazine began its tradition of selecting a “Man of the Year” in 1927, when the honour was conferred on Charles Lindbergh. In 1999, the title was changed to “Person of the Year” and the winner was Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon. Today, lots of publications copycat the Time idea and just as dog-owners are often said to resemble their pets, the awardees usually mirror the prejudices of those doing the awarding. No wonder, then, that Edward Snowden was voted Guardian person of the year 2013 and no surprise, either, that its German ideological replica, Der Spiegel, followed suit.

Mercifully, Time bypassed the data thief currently residing in Russia, and, instead, it picked Pope Francis. But the award is not quite the occasion for joy that it might appear to be as Freddy Gray points out in The Spectator in a post titled “Why Time’s Person of the Year should be Pope… Benedict”:

“It was telling that, in their blurb about the nominees, Time announced that ‘the first Jesuit Pontiff won hearts and minds with his common touch and rejection of church dogma’. Of course Pope Francis has not rejected Church dogma at all. Time were quick to correct themselves, yet their mistake revealed again the liberal bias against Catholicism: Catholics are only praised if they are seen to rebel against their Church. This attitude makes Catholics distinctly uneasy. It can only be a matter of time before the journalists who now laud Francis turn on him. They will say he has disappointed them when he does not embrace all gay rights, condoms, and women popes.”

We should be grateful that the Time award did not go to Assad, Putin or Snowden, but we should be wary of its dogma. After all, it resembles its owners and they’re no friends of the legacy Francis represents.

Time Person of the Year


Rotten Russia: Snowden in; Altunin out

Thursday, 29 August, 2013 0 Comments

In his devastating New Yorker takedown of the traitorous Edward Snowden on 10 June, Jeffrey Toobin wrote: “Snowden fled to Hong Kong when he knew publication of his leaks was imminent… As a result, all of Snowden’s secrets may wind up in the hands of the Chinese government — which has no commitment at all to free speech or the right to political dissent. And that makes Snowden a hero?” But worse was to come. Snowden went from one ghastly tyranny to another: Russia. And there he found asylum at the hands of the tender Vladimir Putin.

That’s the same Putin who was depicted this week by the Russian artist Konstantin Altunin wearing women’s undies and fondly arranging the hair of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. For this “crime”, the Russian authorities removed four of Altunin’s satirical depictions of Russian politicians from St Petersburg’s Museum of Power and shut down the exhibition. Konstantin Altunin has fled Russia and is said to be seeking asylum in France. Meanwhile, in a perverse gesture of solidarity with the quisling Snowden, a group of cretinous German academics, the Vereinigung Deutscher Wissenschaftler, has decided to award him its “Whistleblower 2013” prize and €3,000. The real hero in this rotten Russia-centred drama, however, is Konstantin Altunin.

Putin on the style


The horror of Putin’s realm

Friday, 19 July, 2013 1 Comment

While the American traitor Edward Snowden eagerly seeks political asylum in Russia, the real face of Vladimir Putin’s police state has been exposed by the show-trial of protest leader Alexei Navalny. Yesterday, thousands took to the streets following his conviction on embezzlement charges. Navalny — a vocal critic of Putin — had denied the charges, saying the trial was politically motivated.

Scuffles broke in Moscow, St Petersburg and other cities in protests that continued late into the evening. Reports said dozens were detained by police.

That most useful site, The Interpreter, which translates important articles from Russian, offers Navalny’s last and very emotional blog post before yesterday’s sentencing. In it, he appeals to every single person in the country, with the exception, perhaps, of Edward Snowden. From “Before the sentence…“, a snippet: “No one is in a position to resist stronger than you. It is your duty to the rest, if you realize it; it is the sort of thing that it is impossible to delegate to someone else. There is no one else, except you. If you are reading this, then you are in fact the resistance.”