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Training Materials for NSA Spying Tool "XKeyScore" Revealed 347

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the how-did-this-just-get-even-worse dept.
dryriver writes with news of the latest document release on NSA spying programs. Quoting The Guardian: "A top secret National Security Agency program allows analysts to search with no prior authorization through vast databases containing emails, online chats, social media activities and the internet browsing histories of millions of individuals, according to documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden. The NSA boasts in training materials that the program, called XKeyscore, is its 'widest-reaching' system for developing intelligence from the Internet. The latest revelations will add to the intense public and congressional debate around the extent of NSA surveillance programs. They come as senior intelligence officials testify to the Senate judiciary committee on Wednesday, releasing classified documents in response to the Guardian's earlier stories on bulk collection of phone records and Fisa surveillance court oversight. The files shed light on one of Snowden's most controversial statements, made in his first video interview published by the Guardian on June 10. 'I, sitting at my desk,' said Snowden, could 'wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant, to a federal judge or even the president, if I had a personal email.' U.S. officials vehemently denied this specific claim. Mike Rogers, the Republican chairman of the House intelligence committee, said of Snowden's assertion: 'He's lying. It's impossible for him to do what he was saying he could do.'" The slides in question. Looks like it was Mike Rogers that was lying and not Snowden. So much for the NSA's attempt at quieting public fear by releasing information on the Verizon phone data collection program before Congressional hearings today.
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Training Materials for NSA Spying Tool "XKeyScore" Revealed

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  • by bonch (38532) * on Wednesday July 31, 2013 @12:05PM (#44436217)

    "They don't want the voice of reason spoken, folks, 'cause otherwise we'd be free. Otherwise we wouldn't believe their fucking horseshit lies, nor the fucking propaganda machine, the mainstream media, and buy their horseshit products that we don't fucking need, and become a third world consumer fucking plantation, which is what we're becoming. Fuck them! They're liars and murders. All governments are liars and murderers, and I am now Jesus. Now. And this is my compound."

    - Bill Hicks, Live at Laff Stop in Austin

  • by TrumpetPower! (190615) <ben@trumpetpower.com> on Wednesday July 31, 2013 @12:09PM (#44436265) Homepage

    ...yes. It runs Linux.

    b&

  • by intermodal (534361) on Wednesday July 31, 2013 @12:12PM (#44436307) Homepage Journal

    First off, almost anything "publicly" done on the Internet or through a third party server is suspect. Second, the idea that the NSA isn't doing this is patently absurd. Third, if you believe the NSA when they deny doing things like this, you are an idiot. Espionage agencies are basically required to lie. It's in their job description. Quite literally, their job is to deceive people.

    • by meta-monkey (321000) on Wednesday July 31, 2013 @01:08PM (#44437073) Journal

      First off, almost anything "publicly" done on the Internet or through a third party server is suspect. Second, the idea that the NSA isn't doing this is patently absurd. Third, if you believe the NSA when they deny doing things like this, you are an idiot.

      The FBI has the capability to bust down my door at any time. Pretty much anybody with a boot can bust through my door. The capability isn't a problem. I'm comfortable with the capability existing, because I don't know where I can buy an unkickdownable door. That's why instead I have this piece of paper that says nobody can kick down my door without being a legitimate executive of a warrant signed by a judge who agreed there is probable cause I've violated a law passed by representatives I had a say in electing. The capability to kick down doors doesn't scare me. However, the kicking down of doors without following the rules on that piece of paper terrifies me.

      I've been on these internets for awhile now. BBSes long before that, playing Legend of the Red Dragon at 1200 baud on the Crunchy Booger. And there were plenty of jokes in IRC about there being No Such Agency that reads your e-mail. And I long suspected they had the capability to do these things. And after the room 641A disclosure, I knew they had the capability to do this.

      Hell, I demand they have the capability to do these things. After all, you can't execute a warrant to tap a phone without having the capability to tap a phone.

      But the idea that the NSA is sucking up and storing forever my emails, my phone records, my financial records, hell, the logs of every time and location my 13-year old niece has called for pizza...that is what was absurd. Completely, bonkers insane and absurd.

      And they're doing it. That's the craziest thing.

      You want to know what the banality of evil looks like? Not the kind of monstrous evil of murder or slavery or genocide. Just the simple, mechanical, banality of evil? That they're fucking doing it. To me, to you, to my wife, to my mom, to my sister, to my brother, to my nieces and nephews. My son's 10 months old, and as soon as he's old enough to have a thought in his head they'll start trying to pry it out.

      • by xevioso (598654) on Wednesday July 31, 2013 @01:32PM (#44437315)

        The real elephant in the room here is how this is really very dangerous for democracy.

        I have yet to hear any politician discuss the REAL threat here, in the long run...the threat to American Democracy itself.

        Imagine the following scenario: A guy like Snowden, hired by a Republican/Democratic senator, gets a job with Booz Allen, and proceeds to use these tools to spy on the political campaign of either their direct opponent in a campaign, or the opposing candidate in an election campaign. They are able to make up an excuse and take this information out, and pass it on to their candidate.

        And then one day this information gets out, that someone was spying, ala Nixon-style on everything the opponent was doing. If you think the sh** is hitting the fan now, just you wait until THAT happens. Hell hath no fury like a politician who has been spied upon.

        • by Nyder (754090) on Wednesday July 31, 2013 @06:05PM (#44440833) Journal

          The real elephant in the room here is how this is really very dangerous for democracy.

          I have yet to hear any politician discuss the REAL threat here, in the long run...the threat to American Democracy itself.

          Imagine the following scenario: A guy like Snowden, hired by a Republican/Democratic senator, gets a job with Booz Allen, and proceeds to use these tools to spy on the political campaign of either their direct opponent in a campaign, or the opposing candidate in an election campaign. They are able to make up an excuse and take this information out, and pass it on to their candidate.

          And then one day this information gets out, that someone was spying, ala Nixon-style on everything the opponent was doing. If you think the sh** is hitting the fan now, just you wait until THAT happens. Hell hath no fury like a politician who has been spied upon.

          Um, I'm going to point out the peeps like Snowden are rare. People are abusing the database, because there is no one to stop them from it. Until Snowden were didn't really know/have proof that it existed. Now we know. A secret DB with info on everyone, that has lax enough security measures that a low level employee walked out with copies of data. So if you have access to it, you have access to information almost no one else has. I would be shocked if there wasn't NSA employes using this to make money/get info they shouldn't.

      • by Sarten-X (1102295)

        But the idea that the NSA is sucking up and storing forever my emails, my phone records, my financial records, hell, the logs of every time and location my 13-year old niece has called for pizza...that is what was absurd. Completely, bonkers insane and absurd.

        And nobody's denying that it's absurd, not even the NSA. They're trying hard to avoid saying it, but yeah, I'm sure the NSA knows exactly how ridiculous the whole thing is...

        To me, to you, to my wife, to my mom, to my sister, to my brother, to my nieces and nephews.

        Of course they are, because you, me, your wife, your mom, your sister, your brother, or your nieces or nephews may be the next Unabomber, or the next McVeigh. Sure, you know they're safe and reasonable enough, but the NSA doesn't. All the NSA knows at this point is that your neice's phone just called a guy who recently purchased a half-

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 31, 2013 @12:14PM (#44436335)

    They run themselves. They have a secret court where defendants are not allowed to attend, and are not even told they are on trial. They lie to congress. They lie to the president. They have an unlimited secret budget that nobody can check. They appear to be mostly controlled by the contractors and companies that sell them services. It's a giant graft. Private parties are helping themselves to public money, creating a surveillance state for unknown reasons under the guise fighting terrorism.

    This is going to end badly. People with money and lots of power don't give up their toys easily. Expect to see the following soon: Lots of assassinations, or the NSA being raided by another enforcement branch of govt. Or maybe both.

  • by TWiTfan (2887093) on Wednesday July 31, 2013 @12:14PM (#44436341)

    Every public statement they make is a fucking lie. If they tell you it's sunny outside, you can bet that it's raining. They lie to Congress, they lie to the public, they lie to the President. When they go home at night, they lie to their wives and kids. They tell their dying grandmothers that they're fine and don't need chemo. They take down "Road Closed" signs and laugh when people wreck their cars as a result. They will climb a tree to lie when they could stand on the ground and tell the truth.

    They always lie. They always WILL lie.

    • Every public statement they make is a fucking lie. If they tell you it's sunny outside, you can bet that it's raining. They lie to Congress, they lie to the public, they lie to the President. When they go home at night, they lie to their wives and kids. They tell their dying grandmothers that they're fine and don't need chemo. They take down "Road Closed" signs and laugh when people wreck their cars as a result. They will climb a tree to lie when they could stand on the ground and tell the truth.

      They always lie. They always WILL lie.

      Not true. When you assume that they're always lying, they'll tell the truth, under the secure knowledge that you won't believe them.

      For them it's not about truth/falsehood, it's about manipulation of people to achieve the desired ends. People who always assume they lie are much easier to manipulate than those who continually think critically.

    • They tell their dying grandmothers that they're fine and don't need chemo. They take down "Road Closed" signs and laugh when people wreck their cars as a result.

      WTF are you talking about?

      No one ever thanks a whistleblower, no matter how much good they do.

      Uh, this is not true, you realize that, right?

  • by TrumpetPower! (190615) <ben@trumpetpower.com> on Wednesday July 31, 2013 @12:15PM (#44436351) Homepage

    Lovely bullet point:

    * Show me all the VPN startups in country X, and give me the data so I can decrypt and discover the users.

    Translation: not only do you have no privacy, doing what you think will make you hidden will just shine a spotlight on yourself.

    b&

    • I've heard the same about using Tor. Personally, I support the idea of everyone using Tor just to screw with them and make them dig through more irrelevant crap. I want them to have to dig through my pictures of cats saying silly things if they're sifting traffic. I want them to have to see the recipe I used to make that batch of beer-braised short ribs. I want them to have to look at pages and pages of sports scores or movie reviews.

      I would put this right up there with those who argue that refusing a w

      • by RoknrolZombie (2504888) on Wednesday July 31, 2013 @01:01PM (#44436987)
        Along the same lines, I've wondered exactly where the line is when "admitting" that you've committed a crime. Obviously I wouldn't suggest that people start talking like they're a terrorist, but is it against the law to "admit" to robbing a bank that hasn't been robbed? Is it against the law to talk in depth about an AK47 that I don't own (as though I do own it)? I would imagine with enough people pretending that they've committed crimes that their monitoring would become useless.

        Seriously, what are they going to do? Break into my house and grab me while I'm in the middle of typ
    • by geogob (569250)

      Or they crawl under piles of VPN requests from GEMA-pist off germans.

  • by fustakrakich (1673220) on Wednesday July 31, 2013 @12:16PM (#44436367) Journal

    Bogus! It's a congressional coverup designed to rationalize all this bullshit, with people like Pelosi on her knees before the NSA. Of course what makes it worse is the idiot public who believes all this crap and reelects these bums. How do we stop them from voting away our rights?

    • While I have no doubt that Pelosi is probably all in with the NSA, she's not running the House.

      • by meta-monkey (321000) on Wednesday July 31, 2013 @01:39PM (#44437417) Journal

        When the story first broke, Obama, Boehner, Pelosi, Fienstein, McCain, all formed a wall around the Agency.

        "It's all legal! We've been briefed!"

        Which group looks like they have the power in that situation?

        If Obama said "Ice cream is tasty" Boehner would hold a press conference about how only secret muslim communists with plots to install sharia law like ice cream, and real, honest, hard-working middle-class Americans eat pie.

        But the one thing Obama, Boehner, Pelosi, Fienstein, McCain, and Dick fucking Cheney can all agree on is the legality, Constitutionality, appropriateness and necessity of collecting, analyzing and storing forever every phone call and email my 13-year old niece makes. For national security.

        (repeat of something I posted last month)

        Scarier part: why aren't they blaming each other for this "serious overreach?" That they will then investigate, have some hearings, and then go right back to biz as usual? That's all politicians do. Make vague, meaningless statements and take no responsibility, blame everyone else, then do nothing. Instead they're making firm, direct statements. "Legal!" "Constitutional!" "Full oversight!"

        Why are they so far off script? Here's how the script is supposed to go:

        Snowden: "They doin' teh snoops!"
        Democrats: "Bush started it!"
        Republicans: "Saint Bush never would have authorized this! This must be part of a secret communist Muslim plan to install sharia law!"
        Obama: "No, really it was just the Cincinnati branch of the NSA!"
        Senate committee: "Thank you for your service, Mr. Snowden for bringing this overreach to our attention. We've got top men working to correct it. Top. Men."
        Snowden: "No prob, I'll go rot in obscurity now."
        Clapper: "Ow. My wrist. From the slapping. Wheeeeeelp, back to the shadows for biz as usual."

        The mask isn't just slipping. It's on the floor. The man behind the curtain is doing a tap dance. Just what the fuck is going on?

    • I had an idea, but my lawyer said it's illegal for simple citizens to own atomic bombs.

      2nd amendment my ass...

  • Sunlight (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hhawk (26580) on Wednesday July 31, 2013 @12:16PM (#44436369) Homepage Journal

    For me the only viable solution is making the NSA's work/effort and all of their data capture completely transparent with audit trails, Etc. not to stop them, but so when the abuses do come we can figure out who did want and seek redress.

    • Re:Sunlight (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Opportunist (166417) on Wednesday July 31, 2013 @12:40PM (#44436689)

      You mean, like, the same way we do when some corporation does it?

      1) Catch them red handed.
      2) Fight through years of legal bullshit battles.
      3) Have them convicted
      4) Hear a press conference where all the upper echelons swear they didn't know and it was all an idea from some bad apple below them.
      5) Have them fire some uninvolved mid-level scapegoat.
      6) See them receive a slap on the wrist, which is more insult than an acquittal would have been (since you can't even appeal it).
      7) Continue doing whatever they did before that started this process.

      • by hhawk (26580)

        I didn't promise nor did I describe an Utopian system. WIth the current system they could be blackmailing anyone, using it for insider trading, Etc. Etc., The NSA has said they can't SEARCH their own email system. They can search YOURS.. but not THEIR OWN.. http://www.propublica.org/article/nsa-says-it-cant-search-own-emails [propublica.org]

        Thus, even with a legitimate suing of them there just isn't any discovery! No opportunity to learn what they did, and when they did it.

        My point again, if you can't stop them, and I just

  • More info (Score:5, Informative)

    by cold fjord (826450) on Wednesday July 31, 2013 @12:26PM (#44436485)

    Wikipedia has an entry on it: X-Keyscore [wikipedia.org]

    Good background story: Solving the mystery of PRISM [theweek.com]

    Spiegel Online covered it: 'Key Partners': Secret Links Between Germany and the NSA [spiegel.de]

    Oddly enough it appears that news about intelligence programs used by America and its allies is reported in Persian [parsine.com]. Go figure.

  • by null etc. (524767) on Wednesday July 31, 2013 @12:31PM (#44436545)

    It's shocking to discover that the government can actually accomplish anything, as opposed to wasting $800 million in taxpayer money with nothing to show for it.

    • Dont worry, the populace will not benefit from the success of the program in any way or form.
    • by Holi (250190)

      It's not that they have nothing to show for the money they spent, it's just they won't show us what they actually spend the money on.

  • by wjcofkc (964165) on Wednesday July 31, 2013 @12:32PM (#44436563)
    But I'm sure if they would just show us the redacted slides, it would clear everything up... right?

    Seriously though, I kind of expected things to be this bad, and they may even be worse, but this really does add frightening perspective. If they release enough information about their systems, perhaps one day someone or some group will come up with a way to at least partially work against it, or at least muddy up the data they are collecting.
    • by BlueStrat (756137) on Wednesday July 31, 2013 @01:29PM (#44437291)

      If they release enough information about their systems, perhaps one day someone or some group will come up with a way to at least partially work against it, or at least muddy up the data they are collecting.

      "Come up with a way"?

      How about burning all NSA buildings and other infrastructure to the ground, hanging any and all NSA personnel that can be found, and then move on to anyone in Congress and the Executive who supports/supported this shit?

      I figure that would make a good start.

      Strat

  • by Toad-san (64810) on Wednesday July 31, 2013 @12:34PM (#44436591)

    Rep. Mike Rogers may not have been lying, exactly, with what he stated earlier. He may have been misinformed (e.g., lied to) by whoever briefed him on NSA's capabilities and available data. Which is not surprising, given the blatant lies and deception exhibited over and over again by the highest levels of NSA executives.

    • Not fair! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Which is not surprising, given the blatant lies and deception exhibited over and over again by the highest levels of NSA executives.

      You are being unfair to the NSA. Eric Holden, the Attorney General in office, is on record for more perjury before congress than any single NSA official. Once regarded as a felony (and officially still being labelled as that), perjury before congress has become an integral part of playing the representatives of the public, and those are being good sports about it. Nobody crying foul here.

  • by AdamStarks (2634757) on Wednesday July 31, 2013 @12:38PM (#44436663)

    I heard the NSA has had trouble complying with a recent FOIA request, something about not being able to read their own emails. Someone should tell them about this "XKeyScore" thingamajig!

  • Why is it that nobody points to the obvious?... That this is evidence that the NSA (and US government) has intentionally undermined the security of all communications and computer systems. The global financial and communications infrastructure is wide open for anyone that has the key. Every power the NSA has, they have also granted to everyone else on the planet with the interest and means to wield it. They might say, "well, if someone could do that, then we'd know about it..." but I don't believe that it w

  • by skaralic (676433) on Wednesday July 31, 2013 @12:44PM (#44436747)

    I wonder how much of an accident it is that Chrome's Incognito mode tells you:

    Going incognito doesn't affect the behavior of other people, servers, or software. Be wary of:

    • Websites that collect or share information about you
    • Internet service providers or employers that track the pages you visit
    • Malicious software that tracks your keystrokes in exchange for free smileys
    • Surveillance by secret agents
    • People standing behind you
  • How many more lies are we going to put up with until something is actually done?
  • by Squidlips (1206004) on Wednesday July 31, 2013 @12:57PM (#44436937)
    Too bad the media bought it hook, line, and sinker. They did not build the huge, Soviet-style Utah Data Center to store meta data...
  • by Ultimate Heretic (1058480) on Wednesday July 31, 2013 @01:05PM (#44437037)
    Found a little comment in the Austin,TX paper that is very appropriate to the NSA actions: "If we are to accept that the executive branch of the U.S. government is operating within the bounds of the Constitution in its implementation of the recently disclosed domestic spy program. i.e., having approval through the FISA court and tacit congressional consent, then per the 4th amendment, “no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause,” the only valid probable cause to surveil the entire domestic population is to declare them likely criminals. The question to answer then becomes, what do the citizens of this land do when their government has wholesale declared them all criminals?" So I put it to you, what is the correct course of action when we citizens of these United States of America are now all criminals in the eyes of the government?
  • Not only are they spying on you - they also stole all you money a few years back.. remember? Pepperidge Farm remembers..

  • by joe_frisch (1366229) on Wednesday July 31, 2013 @02:41PM (#44438259)

    Why keep this in the shadows and create all this controversy. If the American public wants this, then just repeal the 4th amendment and have at it. No one would be at all surprised to learn that China monitors all electronic communication, they have made no promises not to.

    Now if there aren't enough votes to repeal the 4th amendment, maybe, this isn't what the public wants.

  • Chill people (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ubermiester (883599) * on Wednesday July 31, 2013 @05:43PM (#44440609)

    I understand that at first glance this looks like overreach, and depending on who had access and how often it was used, perhaps it is. But the NSA does not do law enforcement, they do threat detection.

    Imposing a suspicion-based, after-the-fact scheme would mean terror cells could (and probably already do) host their own encrypted SMTP servers with no archive, thus thwarting any attempt to trace messages sent before a target is identified. So even if a judge finds probable cause and some kind of targeted hack/trace could be established, it would be too late to look at data created before the warrant was issued. Why would we hobble our first line of defense against real, plausible threats in order to avoid theoretical abuses? Wouldn't it make more sense to keep the programs intact and ensure safeguards against abuse?

    Even if you are afraid of some hypothetical future fascist regime that has plans to abuse this apparatus on a large scale, please explain why such a regime would have any interest in respecting the Constitution at all? In other words, if things got so bad that the NSA started spying on you because you wrote something to a friend they didn't like, citing the lack of a warrant is not going to help.

    Of course there are many (actually just some, but they like to think they are many) who believe the US is already some kind of fascist state, but I would suggest you talk to people living in places like Russia or China before establishing a "Big Brother" standard against which to compare the US.

    As for the legality, IANAL, but some obvious observations:

    • - The Constitution protects citizens from illegal search and seizure. It does not protect non-citizens.
    • - Collecting data is not the same thing as using it in a prosecution. See: Miranda Rights
    • - According to this leak (and common sense when you consider the sheer volume of data we're talking about), the NSA is not keeping this information for more than a few days. That means they are effectively creating a buffered cache of information that can be accessed quickly when necessary. This is akin to local law enforcement keeping CCTV video around for a short period of time for post-crime analysis (see: Boston Marathon bombing). If we're worried about them keeping this information for longer than they need it, put a law in place that restricts it - although I would suggest that it is physically impossible to keep up with all the data generated on the web.
    • - The NSA claims that there are multiple fail-safes in place to prevent unauthorized access - most likely including access logs, credential checks, etc - similar to the ones used by the FBI, local police, etc. This could of course be partially or completely false, and the NSA does not exactly deserve our unwavering trust at the moment. But assuming for a second that it is true, why exactly is this any different than giving certain analysts access to satellite imagery or CCTV cameras?

    We need to protect ourselves against government overreach and abuse - we are after all a nation of laws, not men. But the notion that the NSA keeping a few days worth of 1s and 0s just in case they are needed is anathema to our way of life is ludicrous. We keep medical, criminal, travel, financial and many other records for years and years. Why is this any different except that its a convenient vector of attack against an arm of government that is charged with doing exactly what XKeyScore is designed to do - seek out and neutralize threats to national security.

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