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07 June 2013


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"... anger grew among other politicians"

Perhaps they are finally catching on.


If you want a more realistic replication of the GDR (especially as I remember it i.e. medical doctors who smoke like chimneys) and a story of peoples lives that have been wrecked by the STASI. I would recommend "Barbara" instead. Actually the main character has not suffered as much or continue to suffer as the reform school girl

I think at the time it came out, on this site a number of Ossies wrote in saying that "The lives of others" was laden with many goofs and the portrayal of the MfS was not the one they remember e.g. training lectures with the students in civilian dress and not military uniform etc

As an aside, if you are ever in Germany the STASI museum in Leipzig is well worth a visit and is far more interesting than the actual STASI HQ in East Berlin. Here you will see just how pathetic all that snooping was, from the mail opening machines to fake beer bellies with a camera inside.




Hardly surprising news.


A German Green MP forced a telephone company to reveal its tracking of him over the last six months.

This is a fascinating animated visual log of his travels on a map, with all his stops, all his phone calls, all his meals etc.


H/T to Blood&Treasure


As Dr. Z said, "the private life is dead in Russia" err America. But, we have mainly given it away due to our narcissistic desire to "share" everything in near real time. This odd obsession, coupled with the technological power of the State, is the coup de grace.



So the politicos are finally catching onto what "data mining" is really all about. Guess they don't like their stopovers at their daliances breing revealed. Their indignation has nuthin to do with protecting our freedoms from a surveillance state, but everything to do with their covering their politico keesters. The only privacy today is what's between a persons ears. The reality of our today makes Orwell's 1984 pale in comparison.

Margaret Steinfels

Haaretz headline: "What was the Israeli involvement in collecting U.S. communications intel for NSA?"

Two Israelis technology companies are reported to be/to have been involved in devising the system.


Far more effective at keeping the Homeland safe would be to stop pissing off the people of the Middle East...respect their autonomy.


It is secrecy--which real name is unaccountability--that creates absolute power. The absolute power gives us the absolute corruption of financial-military-corporate complex. The thick fog of unaccountability creates the perfect environment for mildew and deadly fungal deceases threatening the common good.
Note the intensity of hatred that Assange and Manning and other whistle-blowers provoke in the highest-level bureaucrats serving the financial-corporate complex.


I do not understand how this blatantly obvious circumvention of constitutional provisions goes on and on in America, without a serious challenge even after more than a decade.

So the NSA had Verizon allow access to Verint, some Israeli company, which was doing the wire tapping for the NSA. They were, through a national security letter, obliging Verizon to cooperate with Verint, and then presumably paying Verint for their services.

There is an exceedingly simple rule in German constitutional and administrative law, here it goes:


That is precisely what the US government has done on wire tapping.

The rationale behind the rule is that it is inane if not malicious for the government to task a private party with doing things it constitutionally can't do, and then claim that this is a private business matter, and that thus the related information is protected private business information.

Whether the government acts on its own - or hires proxies like Verint - it cannot escape the constitutional obligation by outsourcing it to the private sector. Period.

This is so exceedingly simple, and yet ...

William R. Cumming

Wondering what "minimization programs" are being applied if any to protect privacy and civil liberties?

Still think the BBC series "The Last Enemy" captured some issues quite nicely concerning the surveillance state!

The beaver

Ah Verint (aka Comverse) !!!

Comverse owns 52% of Verint and it was Comverse Infosys who gave Turkey via the Israeli govt or Mossad the location of the PKK chief Abdullah Ocalan in Kenya back in 1999.

and then there is this :

and from Wired about Verizon :

{According to a former Verizon employee briefed on the program, Verint, owned by Comverse Technology, taps the communication lines at Verizon, which I first reported in my book The Shadow Factory in 2008. Verint did not return a call seeking comment, while Verizon said it does not comment on such matters.

At AT&T the wiretapping rooms are powered by software and hardware from Narus, now owned by Boeing, a discovery made by AT&T whistleblower Mark Klein in 2004. Narus did not return a call seeking comment}

Margaret Steinfels

What are the Israeli companies doing with the data--after they give a copy to NSA?



Thanks for this thread, and of course all of the comments. No mention of William Binney so far . . .


Whatever you may wish to say about him, he's got balls of steel . . .

from a strategic theory perspective . . .


So 9/11 happened because the USA was at fault?
All those wonderful civilized and productive Middle East people were living a life of peace and prosperity until the bad old USA started with invasions and drones.


"Both Verint and Narus were founded in Israel in the 1990s. Both provide monitoring and intercept capabilities to service providers and government organizations, promoting claims that their equipment can access and retain large amounts of information on a vast number of targets."

"Cautious estimates indicate that in the past few years... Unit 8200 veterans have set up some 30 to 40 high-tech companies, including 5 to 10 that were floated on Wall Street.” Referred to only as “Brigadier General B,” he added, “This correlation between serving in the intelligence Unit 8200 and starting successful high-tech companies is not coincidental: Many of the technologies in use around the world and developed in Israel were originally military technologies and were developed and improved by Unit veterans.”

Scary. But not all that surprising.

"Cautious estimates indicate that in the past few years... Unit 8200 veterans have set up some 30 to 40 high-tech companies, including 5 to 10 that were floated on Wall Street.” Referred to only as “Brigadier General B,” he added, “This correlation between serving in the intelligence Unit 8200 and starting successful high-tech companies is not coincidental: Many of the technologies in use around the world and developed in Israel were originally military technologies and were developed and improved by Unit veterans.”


This similar story by Wired is also fascinating read.


That really brings up the question of why we are providing the government of Israel $3 billion per year plus military assistance and preferential trading rights.


I would think it is for sale to the right parties for the right price.


“estragon: we lost our rights?
vladimir: we got rid of them.”
― Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot


Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

I guess it's 4th Amendment be damned with these folks. Why not, since they're doing such a number on the rest of them...

From a comment thread on this topic over at nakedcapitalism.com:

Eureka Springs says:
June 7, 2013 at 3:42 pm

So many odd points to raise on rehashing this old information. First of all it never ceases to amaze me how government has all the secrets, all the power, and yet it’s the the most paranoid, most likely to create havoc.

Second, it’s the entire system which is failing us, both parties, the executive, both houses and perhaps most of all the courts.

I would love to work up more outrage over this but what’s the best that could possibly happen? An internal investigation to nowhere with a report all blacked out in a couple of years. Maybe, just maybe some new feckless regulation the secret boys with secret budgets and lots of guns could drive a titanic through in broad daylight? A whole new secret court process like the Church committee created?

No… we’ve passed the long train of abuses… it’s just preparing to back up, run over us again and again…. until we finally say no more… hard reboot anew.

JerseyJeffersonian says:
June 7, 2013 at 5:30 pm

Yes, indeed. And for anyone who may have missed the reference, here’s the entire sentence from which this phrase was extracted, one from the Declaration of Independence in which Thomas Jefferson was winding up to unload the Bill of Particulars against the further submission of the Colonies to being ruled by the British Empire:

“But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.”

We own the rights, and they are inalienable. Anybody who thinks that they GRANT us OUR rights are cut from the same cloth as King George the Third and Lord North. We’re now in the same position that Benjamin Franklin was in, when after years of efforts to advance the grievances of the Colonies against their Imperial Masters, he was ultimately mocked for his temerity. Petitioning had gotten him nothing but abuse, because those Imperial Masters would not be importuned by this honest, loyal citizen. No, they treated him, and all of his arguments as so much rubbish, to which they intended neither to listen nor to respond. In this historical moment, we are all like Benjamin Franklin, standing in front of our jeering masters, being ridiculed for our efforts. Decision time, my friends.


Dear Colonel,

I was inspired to try writing something Animal Farm-esque along the lines of the farmer sending the dogs to spy on the pigs to get the dirt should any pigs develop non-harmonious ideas.

But instead, today, I was shocked shocked shocked to learn on the BBC that some telecommunication companies have not allowed the government to spy on its citizens. Of course as one would guess, I am referring to the fundamentalist, monarchy of Saudi Arabia - the antithesis of a free democracy.

Funny, the headlines are interchangeable.

Said company now is shut down. Here I suppose the IRS would investigate until the same event occurred.


I think that the idea that the right kind of contract is going to prevent this is childish.

When you outsource such national security measures you lose control over how the information gathered is handled. You also lose know how that you'd perhaps rather retain.

I had a hand in my company developing a software tool to do quality checks on data. Last autumn I went to a trade fair and saw a former contractor (from hell) offering an obvious copy of the tool with some superficial changes to the GUI.

I see no reason why Verint couldn't sub rosa deliver some interesting data to the Israelis as well, or have a separate contract for US data with them (probably not in writing).


PS: As I see it there is little awareness and concern that has manifested itself in legislation regarding the protection of private or consumer data in the US, only to the extent that it concerns identity theft. The field is largely unregulated, deliberately so IMO.

In the US citizens and customers alike have little control over who uses their data for what end.

In Germany we have very strong rules on that, and the need for them was underlined by the experiences made with the surveillance state DDR. Europe emphasises this also. The fear is of a citizen made of glass, totally transparent, with no privacy left. It also explains, rather literally, the opposition to full body scanners in the EU.

I propose as an alternative definition of freedom: Being entitled to privacy.


Thanks for that article, Lee.

I think that whether or not Israeli companies and intelligence services are discovered to be central to these surveillance scandals, the corrosive element they have introduced into our societies and cultures is that of paranoid authoritarianism.

They have taught our societies and governments and intelligence and military services to think and act like their own.

Former 11B

I could mention the CIAs fine work in Iran, our supporting of corrupt regimes and 'Isreal uber alles', but that would subvert your vision of Americans and their foreign policy as blameless angels. Without the oil and all that comes with it, who knows how they would have lived? But it's obvious you think you know the answer.
Quit outsourcing your critical thinking skills to bloviators in the media.
Frankly it's just intellectual laziness or a mental disease called authoritarianism.
Read about it here
Ralizing you have a problem is the first step to overcoming that problem.

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