Thursday, January 01, 2015

NSA targets airline networks, banks, and power companies by Wayne Madsen

NSA targets airline networks, banks, and power companies

The latest tranche of classified National Security Agency (NSA) documents have been published, with the normal amount of redactions, by Der Spiegel. A set of PowerPoint slides developed by NSA's Canadian counterpart, the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC), that deal with Transport Layer Security (TLS) encryption services use a fictitious country called "Canuckistan" on a sample test report. The use of such a xenophobic term is an indication of the right-wing mindset of the careerists who work within the English-speaking FIVE EYES signals intelligence alliance.

The xenophobic terminology for Canada is followed by CSEC's new motto: "Safeguarding Canada's security through information superiority." The rhetorical verbiage is in keeping with the extremist right-wing views of the government of Stephen Harper and his Conservative Party.

An NSA slide on Signals Intelligence Development (SIGDEV) tactics states that Somalia's Hormuud telecommunications network was a priority target for the FIVE EYES. Another slide describes how a successful use of TOYGRIPPE metadata resulted in the discovery of an Iranian corporate Virtual Private Network intranet with a hub in Tehran and nodes in Ankara, Istanbul, and Izmir, and Turkey; and Malaysia, Armenia, and South Korea.

An NSA Cryptographic Classification Guide reveals that NSA "makes cryptographic modifications to commercial or indigenous cryptographic information security devices or systems in order to make then exploitable." This is one of the rare times when an actual document proves what has been written and spoken about for decades: that NSA has implanted Trojan horses and back doors in most of the world's encryption systems in order to have access to plaintext encrypted data.

NSA has declared war on anonymity providers around the world. One NSA slide states that NSA must ensure such services are provided to foreign customers of the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors in order to get around "Internet blockage" imposed on "Radio Free Asia and VOA Persian news sites."

Another NSA slide dealing with the TOR anonymity service states that surveillance by NSA of TOR relay exit nodes, most of which are in Germany and the second most of which are in the United States, is "scary" because of "Kiddie Porn."

One TOP SECRET/COMINT NSA slide, titled "End Results: Tactical and Strategic, contained in a PowerPoint presentation on the 2012 SIGDEV Conference, states that one way NSA conducts Internet surveillance is through "behavior detection" of users. Another heavily-redacted slide released earlier in the month described how NSA successfully used "behavior analysis" to track the Google Earth and wikimapia searches by alleged terrorist Zarrar Shah before the 2008 attacks on Mumbai's Taj Hotel, Gateway of India, other tourist sites, power plants, dams, and potential boat landings. Of course, NSA conducted its post-analysis of Shah's on-line activities after the attacks but used the Shah behavioral analysis to advocate for expanded similar capabilities to prevent future attacks.

Another NSA slide states that "sustained Skype collection began in Feb 2011 against "in" and "out" modes, where one end is a Skype user and the other is a landline or cell phone user.

NSA Office of Target Pursuit (OTP) slides provide an organizational chart of the agency's operations against virtual private networks (VPNs) around the world:

S: Signals Intelligence Division (SID)
S3: Data Acquisition
S31: Cryptanalytic Exploitation Services
S311: Office of Target Pursuit (OTP)
S3117: Cryptanalytic Exploitation and Discovery
S31171: PRC, N. Korea, SE Asia, Japan [Eastern and Southeast Asia]
S31172: Iran, Hamas, Iraq, Saudi Arabia [Arabian Peninsula]
S31173: Africa, Levant, Latin America, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan [Central Asia]
S31174: Russia, Counter-Intel, Europe, FTM [Follow the Money] [International Targets]
S31176: Custom Thread Development for Network Encryption
S31175: Cross-Target Support Branch
S31176: OTP VPN Exploitation Team

OTP VPN penetration success stories include Iran Air (IRTAA), Royal Jordanian Air (JOTAA), Transaero Airlines (RUCAC) (Russia), Mir Telematiki (Russia), Afghani Wimex, Mexican diplomatic network (MXDBB), Pakistani General Intelligence (PKRAQ), Turkish diplomatic network (TUDAT), and the Afghan government (AFYAD). The five letter nomenclatures are NSA system titles. Those for the Afghan Wimex and Mir Telematiki were pending when the slide was prepared. Other penetrated networks were the Somali Zaad Financial e-wallet system; Kabul Bank; Bank Negara Indonesia (BNI) transactions over Flexy, Telkom Indonesia's fixed wireless network; and the Nigerian power company's internal network. Oddly, the Zaad e-wallet network, run by Somalia's Hormuud Telecom, has been charged by the Al Shabaab guerillas of funneling money to the Somali central government in Mogadishu. NSA now shares something in common with the Al Qaeda affiliate, Al Shabaab: they both are targeting Hormuud Telecom.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Business International Corp. and Business Security International linked in 80s anti-Nicaragua activities By Wayne Madsen

Business International Corp. and Business Security International linked in 80s anti-Nicaragua activities

Another link has emerged between the post-graduate Central Intelligence Agency "non-official cover" or "NOC" work of Barack Obama for known CIA front Business International Corporation (BIC) and Ronald Reagan administration anti-Communist paramilitary operations. As previously reported by WMR, Obama worked as a CIA cover "journalist" for BIC after he graduated from an international relations studies program at Columbia University, the details of which remain undisclosed by the White House. While at the New York City-based BIC, Obama covered events in Latin America for the company's various newsletters. BIC admitted that it provided journalistic cover for CIA agents around the world.

It turns out that BIC was not the only CIA front company operating in Latin America at the time Obama was providing reports on such countries as Mexico and Brazil. A shadowy company with a similar-sounding name to BIC, Business Security International (BSI), was established by Langley to provide paramilitary U.S. Support for the Nicaraguan Contras at a time when the Boland Amendment expressly prohibited such assistance to the anti-Sandinista Nicaraguan guerrillas. Obama's failure to bring officials of the CIA's torture program to justice and his failure to prosecute the agency and its director, John Brennan, for spying on U.S. Senate computers likely has its roots in the CIA front companies' participation in the illegal Nicaraguan Contra support network run by Langley during Obama's employment at BIC.

BIC and BSI were popular under the CIA directorship of William Casey, an advocate of using "off-the-shelf" companies to evade Congressional and Inspector General oversight. BSI was headquartered in Annandale, Virginia. The firm's chief was Army Lt. Col. Dale Duncan, who was later convicted of fraud and was sentenced to 10 years in the military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Much of the transcript of Duncan's court-martial remains classified to this day. While BIC provided the CIA intelligence on the threats posed by nationalistic and left-wing governments and political parties in Latin America and elsewhere, BSI concentrated on left-wing political and guerrilla insurgency threats. the two companies made for a perfect pair for an administration that was convinced it had to re-ignite the Cold War.

Norman Wellen, BIC's chief executive officer while Obama worked for the firm, was very concerned about Central America. Wellen was concerned that the Sandinista government of Nicaragua and the leftist insurgency in El Salvador could pose a threat to U.S. business activities in those nations. Wellen, who worked for Bear Stearns after BIC was told to The Economistin 1986 and merged into its Economist Intelligence Unit, a bevvy of former British MI-6 agents, worried about "spillover" from the conflicts in Nicaragua and El Salvador on business. BIC specialized in providing intelligence on direct foreign investment in Latin America and the Sandinistas in Nicaragua and the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front in El Salvador were seen as threats to such investments by U.S.-based multinational corporations. Wellen's 2011 obituary in the Newark Star-Ledger described him as
 "a real Mensch."

One of Obama's co-workers at BIC's Manhattan office, Gary Springer, specifically tracked events in Nicaragua for the company, which, in turn, provided the analysis to "The Company" Langley. Springer founded the firm Strategic Eventualities, Inc. in 2001. However, curiously, his biography merely states 
that in the 1980s he was the associate editor of 
Business Latin America (now a division of the Economist Intelligence Unit) in New York City. No mention is made of BIC, which published Business Latin America. Springer is not the only ex-BIC employee to omit a reference to the firm in later writings. In his 1995 memoir, Dreams From My Father, Obama failed to mention that the firm he went to work for in Manhattan after graduating from Columbia was, in fact, BIC. Obama only revealed that he worked for "a consulting house to multinational corporations" where he was a "research assistant" and "financial writer."
Obama's fellow BIC editor Lou Celi also concentrated on Latin American affairs. Reagan later appointed him 
as a member of the White House’s business advisory committee for Latin America. Obama's first CIA-directed coup against a democratically-elected president was overthrew Honduran President Manuel Zelaya in 2009, Obama's first year in office. That was followed by Obama authorizing destabilization and coup-making operations against the democratically-elected governments of Ecuador, Venezuela, Bolivia, Paraguay, Haiti, Suriname, Guatemala, Brazil, Panama, Argentina, and Nicaragua. Obama has been much more aggressive against Latin America than was his neo-conservative predecessor, George W. Bush, whose 2002 coup against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was quickly reversed. There were no reversals of the Obama coups against Zelaya and Paraguay's Fernando Lugo.
Obama: always at home with his NOC employer.

To carry out its clandestine activities in Central America, BSI utilized a Credit Suisse bank account in Switzerland and the company operated under a classified project called Operation YELLOW FRUIT. Those Reagan administration officials with access to the Credit Suisse account included Lt. Col. Oliver North, Casey's "eyes and ears" inside the National Security Council, and Air Force General Richard Secord. Some of the money that ended up in the Swiss bank account was provided by Saudi ambassador to the U.S. Prince Bandar bin Sultan. BSI allegedly provided a satellite communications link between the Contras based in Honduras and CIA headquarters in Langley. Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger denied any knowledge of BSI or YELLOW FRUIT and it appears that the operation was a CIA cut-out within the Army. Another classified project involving BSI was code-named SEASPRAY and it was responsible for flying reconnaissance missions for the Contras on behalf of the CIA and the National Security Agency (NSA). Some of these aircraft were involved in smuggling weapons to Central America and drugs from the region into the United States. One of YELLOW FRUIT's key operatives was Drug Enforcement Administration informant Barry Seal, who was gunned down in Baton Rouge in 1986 prior to his testifying in a trial that would have implicated Vice President George H W Bush in drug and arms smuggling in the Iran-Contra scandal. BSI also reportedly provided the CIA with cover for its operations in the Middle East. Within the Pentagon and CIA, the BSI operation was known as 

Young Barack Obama's entrée into the world of covert CIA operations came at a time when the Reagan administration not only flouted the will of Congress but when Casey and his clandestine operatives, who included John Brennan, relied on firms like BSI and BIC to evade oversight by Congress, auditors, Inspectors General, and the press.

Obama's reticence in holding the CIA and NSA accountable for their massive crimes against the U.S. Constitution and the American people can best be explained by what Obama said in 2008 about Ronald Reagan, the president who gave the green light for U.S. intelligence excesses after they had been curtailed following the Nixon administration and Watergate:

"I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not.  He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it.  I think they felt like with all the excesses of the 1960s and 1970s and government had grown and grown but there wasn't much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating.  I think people, he just tapped into what people were already feeling, which was we want clarity we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing."

Barack Hussein Obama, who, during his CIA stint was also known on his valid Indonesian passport as Barry Soetoro, and as Barry Obama in other facets, was a "company man" in the 1980s and he continues to be one to this day.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

THE ROVING EYE Russia, China mock divide and rule By Pepe Escobar

Russia, China mock divide and rule
By Pepe Escobar

ROME and BEIJING - The Roman Empire did it. The British Empire copied it in style. The Empire of Chaos has always done it. They all do it. Divide et impera. Divide and rule - or divide and conquer. It's nasty, brutish and effective. Not forever though, like diamonds, because empires do crumble.

A room with a view to the Pantheon may be a celebration of Venus - but also a glimpse on the works of Mars. I had been in Rome essentially for a symposium - Global WARning - organized by a very committed, talented group led by a former member of European Parliament, Giulietto Chiesa. Three days later, as the run on the rouble was unleashed, Chiesa was arrested and expelled from Estonia as persona non grata, yet another graphic illustration of the anti-Russia hysteria gripping the Baltic nations and the Orwellian grip NATO has on Europe's weak links. [1] Dissent is simply not allowed.

At the symposium, held in a divinely frescoed former 15th century Dominican refectory now part of the Italian parliament's library, Sergey Glazyev, on the phone from Moscow, gave a stark reading of Cold War 2.0. There's no real "government" in Kiev; the US ambassador is in charge. An anti-Russia doctrine has been hatched in Washington to foment war in Europe - and European politicians are its collaborators. Washington wants a war in Europe because it is losing the competition with China.

Glazyev addressed the sanctions dementia: Russia is trying simultaneously to reorganize the politics of the International Monetary Fund, fight capital flight and minimize the effect of banks closing credit lines for many businessmen. Yet the end result of sanctions, he says, is that Europe will be the ultimate losers economically; bureaucracy in Europe has lost economic focus as American geopoliticians have taken over.

Only three days before the run on the rouble, I asked Rosneft's Mikhail Leontyev (Press-Secretary - Director of the Information and Advertisement Department) about the growing rumors of the Russian government getting ready to apply currency controls. At the time, no one knew an attack on rouble would be so swift, and conceived as a checkmate to destroy the Russian economy. After sublime espressos at the Tazza d'Oro, right by the Pantheon, Leontyev told me that currency controls were indeed a possibility. But not yet.

What he did emphasize was this was outright financial war, helped by a fifth column in the Russian establishment. The only equal component in this asymmetrical war was nuclear forces. And yet Russia would not surrender. Leontyev characterized Europe not as a historical subject but as an object: "The European project is an American project." And "democracy" had become fiction.

The run on the rouble came and went like a devastating economic hurricane. Yet you don't threat a checkmate against a skilled chess player unless your firepower is stronger than Jupiter's lightning bolt. Moscow survived. Gazprom heeded the request of President Vladimir Putin and will sell its US dollar reserves on the domestic market. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier went on the record against the EU further "turning the screw" as in more counterproductive sanctions against Moscow. And at his annual press conference, Putin emphasized how Russia would weather the storm. Yet I was especially intrigued by what he did not say. [2]

As Mars took over, in a frenetic acceleration of history, I retreated to my Pantheon room trying to channel Seneca; from euthymia - interior serenity - to that state of imperturbability the Stoics defined as aponia. Still, it's hard to cultivate euthymia when Cold War 2.0 rages.

Show me your imperturbable missile
Russia could always deploy an economic "nuclear" option, declaring a moratorium on its foreign debt. Then, if Western banks seized Russian assets, Moscow could seize every Western investment in Russia. In any event, the Pentagon and NATO's aim of a shooting war in the European theater would not happen; unless Washington was foolish enough to start it.

Still, that remains a serious possibility, with the Empire of Chaos accusing Russia of violating the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) even as it prepares to force Europe in 2015 to accept the deployment of US nuclear cruise missiles.

Russia could outmaneuver Western financial markets by cutting them off from its wealth of oil and natural gas. The markets would inevitably collapse - uncontrolled chaos for the Empire of Chaos (or "controlled chaos", in Putin's own words). Imagine the crumbling of the quadrillion-plus of derivatives. It would take years for the "West" to replace Russian oil and natural gas, but the EU's economy would be instantly devastated.

Just this lightning-bolt Western attack on the rouble - and oil prices - using the crushing power of Wall Street firms had already shaken European banks exposed to Russia to the core; their credit default swaps soared. Imagine those banks collapsing in a Lehman Brothers-style house of cards if Russia decided to default - thus unleashing a chain reaction. Think about a non-nuclear MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) - in fact warless. Still, Russia is self-sufficient in all kinds of energy, mineral wealth and agriculture. Europe isn't. This could become the lethal result of war by sanctions.

Essentially, the Empire of Chaos is bluffing, using Europe as pawns. The Empire of Chaos is as lousy at chess as it is at history. What it excels in is in upping the ante to force Russia to back down. Russia won't back down.

Darkness dawns at the break of chaos 
Paraphrasing Bob Dylan in When I Paint My Masterpiece, I left Rome and landed in Beijing. Today's Marco Polos travel Air China; in 10 years, they will be zooming up in reverse, taking high-speed rail from Shanghai to Berlin. [3]

From a room in imperial Rome to a room in a peaceful hutong - a lateral reminiscence of imperial China. In Rome, the barbarians swarm inside the gates, softly pillaging the crumbs of such a rich heritage, and that includes the local Mafia. In Beijing, the barbarians are kept under strict surveillance; of course there's a Panopticon element to it, essential to assure internal social peace. The leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) - ever since the earth-shattering reforms by the Little Helmsman Deng Xiaoping - is perfectly conscious that its Mandate of Heaven is directly conditioned by the perfect fine-tuning of nationalism and what we could term "neoliberalism with Chinese characteristics".

In a different vein of the "soft beds of the East" seducing Marcus Aurelius, the silky splendors of chic Beijing offer a glimpse of an extremely self-assured emerging power. After all, Europe is nothing but a catalogue of multiple sclerosis and Japan is under its sixth recession in 20 years.

To top it off, in 2014 President Xi Jinping has deployed unprecedented diplomatic/geostrategic frenzy - ultimately tied to the long-term project of slowly but surely keeping on erasing US supremacy in Asia and rearranging the global chessboard. What Xi said in Shanghai in May encapsulates the project; "It's time for Asians to manage the affairs of Asia." At the APEC meeting in November, he doubled down, promoting an "Asia-Pacific dream".

Meanwhile, frenzy is the norm. Apart from the two monster, US$725 billion gas deals - Power of Siberia and Altai pipeline - and a recent New Silk Road-related offensive in Eastern Europe, [4] virtually no one in the West remembers that in September Chinese Prime Minister Li Keiqiang signed no fewer than 38 trade deals with the Russians, including a swap deal and a fiscal deal, which imply total economic interplay.

A case can be made that the geopolitical shift towards Russia-China integration is arguably the greatest strategic maneuver of the last 100 years. Xi's ultimate master plan is unambiguous: a Russia-China-Germany trade/commerce alliance. German business/industry wants it badly, although German politicians still haven't got the message. Xi - and Putin - are building a new economic reality on the Eurasian ground, crammed with crucial political, economic and strategic ramifications.

Of course, this will be an extremely rocky road. It has not leaked to Western corporate media yet, but independent-minded academics in Europe (yes, they do exist, almost like a secret society) are increasingly alarmed there is no alternative model to the chaotic, entropic hardcore neoliberalism/casino capitalism racket promoted by the Masters of the Universe.

Even if Eurasian integration prevails in the long run, and Wall Street becomes a sort of local stock exchange, the Chinese and the emerging multipolar world still seem to be locked into the existing neoliberal model.

And yet, as much as Lao Tzu, already an octogenarian, gave the young Confucius an intellectual slap on the face, the "West" could do with a wake-up call. Divide et impera? It's not working. And it's bound to fail miserably.

As it stands, what we do know is that 2015 will be a hair-raising year in myriad aspects. Because from Europe to Asia, from the ruins of the Roman empire to the re-emerging Middle Kingdom, we all still remain under the sign of a fearful, dangerous, rampantly irrational Empire of Chaos.

1. See here.
2. What Putin is not telling us, Russia Today, December 18, 2014.
3. Eurasian Integration vs. the Empire of Chaos, TomDispatch, December 16, 2014.
4. China set to make tracks for Europe, China Daily, December 18, 2014. China's Li cements new export corridor into Europe, Channel News Asia, December 16, 2014.

Pepe Escobar's latest book, just out, is Empire of Chaos. Follow him on Facebook.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

He may be reached at