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US Intelligence Chief Defends Attempts To Break Tor 411

Posted by timothy
from the we-want-to-have-torn dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Arik Hesseldahl writes that James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, says that the NSA tried to penetrate and compromise Tor, but it was only because terrorists and criminals use it, too and our "interest in online anonymity services and other online communication and networking tools is based on the undeniable fact that these are the tools our adversaries use to communicate and coordinate attacks against the United States and our allies." It was all legal and appropriate, Clapper argues, because, "Within our lawful mission to collect foreign intelligence to protect the United States, we use every intelligence tool available to understand the intent of our foreign adversaries so that we can disrupt their plans and prevent them from bringing harm to innocent Americans. Our adversaries have the ability to hide their messages and discussions among those of innocent people around the world. They use the very same social networking sites, encryption tools and other security features that protect our daily online activities." Clapper concludes that "the reality is that the men and women at the National Security Agency and across the Intelligence Community are abiding by the law, respecting the rights of citizens and doing everything they can to help keep our nation safe.""
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US Intelligence Chief Defends Attempts To Break Tor

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 06, 2013 @08:36AM (#45050171)

    and I don't even live in the states

    • Re:I feel safer... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by geoskd (321194) on Sunday October 06, 2013 @09:50AM (#45050527)

      and I don't even live in the states

      You wouldn't feel that way if you lived here...

      These people (Clapper, et all) don't even comprehend that what they are doing is wrong. They genuinely believe they are doing good! These people are far more dangerous than all of the terrorists combined because they are slowly and surely handing our country to a future tyrant who will commit more atrocities than all of the terrorists combined. In spite of that they believe they are on the side of righteousness.

      Those that support these programs will not wake up to the reality of what they are doing / have done until it is too late to undo without massive bloodshed. We have the opportunity to stop it now, but I have little faith that the unwashed masses can be brought to understand what the "think of the children" mentality is doing to our country.

      -=Geoskd

      • Re:I feel safer... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 06, 2013 @10:11AM (#45050601)

        “Power always thinks it has a great soul and vast views beyond the comprehension of the weak; and that it is doing God's service when it is violating all his laws.” - John Adams

      • Re:I feel safer... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 06, 2013 @10:34AM (#45050687)

        "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross."

      • ...[they] don't even comprehend that what they are doing is wrong. They genuinely believe they are doing good!

        This is the opening logic of every tyrant in history.

      • Re:I feel safer... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by julian67 (1022593) on Sunday October 06, 2013 @01:38PM (#45051813)

        "a future tyrant who will commit more atrocities than all of the terrorists combined."

        Future?

        The atomic detonations over Hiroshima and Nagasaki happened almost 70 years ago.

        Did anyone count how many non-combatants were bombed and napalmed and otherwise killed in S.E. Asia in the 60s and 70s?

        How many civilians have so far been killed by conventional warfare and by drone strikes in Afghanistan and Pakistan?

        How about counting the number of birth defects caused by depleted uranium weapons in Iraq?

        What about all the people who were tortured and kidnapped or "disappeared" by US sponsored forces in south and central America in the 70s and 80s?

        I haven't done the maths but I find it incredibly difficult to believe that the numbers of casualties caused by anti US terrorism even looks like a pinprick next to the hundreds of thousands or even millions of non-combatants killed by the US in the modern era, and I am really confident that still holds true even if one completely disregards the use of atomic weapons over Japan.

        I don't think one can fairly describe any particular modern US president as a tyrant because domestically they have all been subject to elections and held more or less accoutable (or can be), but the behaviour of the US in relation to other nations has often been tyrannical and brutal. If Caesar came back today he could easily understand various US campaigns in his own terms, including such noble qualities as self aggrandisement, greed, cruelty, curiosity untroubled by ethics, and good old vengeance.

    • Re:I feel safer... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by gl4ss (559668) on Sunday October 06, 2013 @10:11AM (#45050599) Homepage Journal

      and I don't even live in the states

      well then you're "lucky" that he doesn't think he even needs to defend breaking laws of your country - because he thinks that's totally legal(fbi thinks so too).

      hack usa sites, or just break usa law while staying out of the whole country or just write shit on the internet that american government should be bombed with predator clones since due to rules of engagement it would be totally just-> get extradited to usa if lucky, bombed from the sky along with your family if unlucky.

      get hacked by usa-> can't do jack shit about it while usa shows the finger and spins bullshit about how it's legal.

      • Re:I feel safer... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by rtb61 (674572) on Monday October 07, 2013 @12:54AM (#45055977) Homepage

        That the NSA/CIA/FBI think it is appropriate to break every other countries laws and treat their citizens as sub-human is not really their fault but directly tied back to the Imperialistic and exploitative attitude of the US Government and the Corporations that run it. Now this is bad enough but the truth is American exceptionalism based upon ego and ignorance means the majority of Americans agree with it including the sub-human and the subsequent have no rights part. So it is a core problem the United States of America and it's threat to the rest of the world.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 06, 2013 @08:37AM (#45050179)

    The people that work in the NSA are a bunch or criminals. From the top leaders down to the last analyst.
    They're undermining democracy this is the reality. The few good men that worked there and that tried to expose all the illegal acts going on (including of course Snowden) were ostracized, kicked out and prosecuted.
    Fuck them, Osama should have droped a couple of 747s on their HQ instead of the WTC. He'd done a great service to democracy.

    • Only shows that the average terrorist organization sorely lacks a PR department. Just ponder what would happen if they blew up the NSA HQ and some of its branches, then release whatever secrets they store. Yeah, sure, every country on this planet would condemn it to hell and back, but if you're looking for an "alliance of the willing", you'd be very lonely, I betcha.

      Why slap the hand that does your dirty work?

      • Actually, what is shows is that the NSA needs a better marketing team. If someone were to offer perpetual backups, free to everyone in the country (including foreigners ), available anywhere, anytime and encryption (well, some encryption) allowed - any half decent marketing drone ought to be able to spin that into the hottest company this side of Google.

        Oh.

        Wait.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 06, 2013 @08:38AM (#45050181)

    The rest of the world just sees the US committing hostile acts on every citizen of the planet, and also that the US is undermining freedom and communication across the world. You have to stop what you're doing, because you're wrecking everything, and your "justifications" are hollow.
    Stop it.
    Now.

    • They won't. Who could make them?

      There is no need to play nice guy anymore, the Soviet Union doesn't exist anymore, we don't need to pretend that you want to be our friend because the other side is so evil, we have found a new "other side" that's SO terrible that even our atrocities look like we're nice in comparison.

      People look strangely when I claim the Soviet Union ensured our liberty, but I think it becomes more and more obvious that it did.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Well, growing up, I kept hearing about how wonderful and free the US is, so much more than the rest of the world. I kept hearing about the Second Amendment, but it only seems to be used in cases of killing a whole bunch of innocent people instead of being used to take back the government.
        Frankly, enough of you weren't paying attention, or were caught up in partisan politics to see that you've been duped.
        Now that it's time to do something, no one seems willing to step up. I don't think the "Founding Fathers"

    • by nurb432 (527695)

      Tell your government to stop too.

  • James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, says that...the NSA tried to penetrate and compromise Tor, but it was only because terrorists and criminals use it, too...

    Well, he's right. As far as that goes. Trouble is, there's a disconnect between investigating terrorists/other criminals and wholesale spying on honest citizens. One can only suppose the term "honest citizen" is a term entirely alien to their comprehension...

  • by bsandersen (835481) on Sunday October 06, 2013 @08:40AM (#45050191) Homepage
    In a combined statement the FBI, DEA, and Homeland Security announce a startling discovery: terrorists and criminals use cash. As a result, law enforcement agencies are seizing cash and "near cash" equivalents such as bank accounts from all US residents. Quoting law enforcement officials, "We have only just learned that cash can be used for criminal and terrorist activities. We hope the public understands the eminent danger of these systems and cooperates with these seizures. Our goal is always to prevent harm to the public and once we learned that cash was used by nearly 100% of all terrorist and criminal activities in some form or another we knew we needed to act."
    • by pipatron (966506) <pipatron@gmail.com> on Sunday October 06, 2013 @08:51AM (#45050237) Homepage

      Actually, a better "analogy" is that they work hard on making sure that cash can't be used anonymously. Each transaction must be monitored (serial numbers on every bill, cameras in every ATM and store), and controlled (demanding proof of ownership for depositing cash at a bank, removing the possibility to actually use cash for buying travel documents).

      Much like they are working hard on trying to make sure Tor can't be used anonymously.

      • by am 2k (217885)

        I disagree. TOR's solely purpose is to provide anonymity. If they remove that aspect, all that's left of TOR is adding delays to your network connections and allowing exit nodes to sniff your traffic. There is no value left, thus they're destroying it.

        Also, considering LOVEINT, there's no reason to assume that you're just anonymous to everyone except the US agencies. The NSA agents have no reason why they wouldn't sell any intel to the highest bidder, since there's no traceability nor accountability (rememb

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Actually, a better "analogy" is that they work hard on making sure that cash can't be used anonymously. Each transaction must be monitored

        You know what the classic solution to all this is, right? Allow me a quote from a movie made a long time ago, called Enemy of the State;

        Brill: In guerrilla warfare, you try to use your weaknesses as strengths.
        Robert Clayton Dean: Such as?
        Brill: Well, if they're big and you're small, then you're mobile and they're slow. You're hidden and they're exposed. You only fight battles you know you can win. That's the way the Vietcong did it. You capture their weapons and you use them against them the next time.

        Guys.

  • by Arancaytar (966377) <arancaytar.ilyaran@gmail.com> on Sunday October 06, 2013 @08:44AM (#45050201) Homepage

    I wouldn't trust Tor at all if national intelligence agencies didn't expend considerable resources to break it. Competition is what drives this technology forward.

  • by Simulant (528590) on Sunday October 06, 2013 @08:47AM (#45050223) Journal
    Why?
    • As I pointed out above, there is no reason at all to trust them. Actually, there's plenty of reason to revoke any trust put into this entity in the first place. It does not conform to any requirements for a trusted security partner.

      From a security point of view, trusting the NSA is impossible.

  • by nospam007 (722110) * on Sunday October 06, 2013 @08:53AM (#45050247)

    The same thing can be said for opening all the letters, listening to all the phone calls since the postal office actually allows anonymous letters and the phone companies anonymous calls. Some even operate anonymous public phone booths, the bastards!

  • by sjwt (161428) on Sunday October 06, 2013 @08:54AM (#45050251)

    Anyone else feel that is NSA says they tried to compromise Tor but didn't, that means they know someone's about to release something that shows they were working on it.. and I'd guess they have not failed.

    • No, that happened two days ago, but /. never picked it up. 'Tor Stinks' [theguardian.com]

      Top-secret presentation says 'We will never be able to de-anonymize all Tor users all the time' but 'with manual analysis we can de-anonymize a very small fraction of Tor users'

  • by Le Marteau (206396) on Sunday October 06, 2013 @08:55AM (#45050263) Journal

    Our government explicitly says, privacy is a threat to our safety, and it is the duty of our government to prevent privacy from being possible at all costs.

    Go ahead, people. Keep voting for the republicans, because at least they are not democrats. Oh, I mean, keep voting for democrats, because at least they are not republicans. NOTHING is going to change that way. They'll keep boning us up the ass with this "oh noooo... can't have privacy.... TARE! Fnord! War on TARE!!!!"

    Actually y'know what? Fuck y'all. YOU are responsible for this. Not me. I have not voted for either major party in DECADES. YOU... YOU are responsible for allowing this to happen. YOU have gotten the government you deserve, you half-wits. Sadly, I am the one who has to suffer for you turds voting for the jackasses (Bush, Obama, whatever) who allow and enable shit like this.

    • by Opportunist (166417) on Sunday October 06, 2013 @09:27AM (#45050433)

      If voting could change anything, I guess it would have been identified as a threat to our safety as well.

    • by markdavis (642305) on Sunday October 06, 2013 @11:34AM (#45050975)

      There is no REAL difference between Republicans and Democrats. They both want to take away our rights and give them to the government. They both want to spend too much. They both want to grab more and more power. They both ignore the Constitution. They are both working very hard to to turn our nation into a fascist police state.

      The two-party system is broken and has been for a very long time. Nothing can really be fixed until we have a fundamentally different kind of voting system that allows other parties to participate. And since that is not in the interest of the two-parties, it will be a cold day in hell before that changes either.

      And yes, I vote at every election. And usually it is for any non-Democrat non-Republican I can find. I might be throwing my vote away, but at least I am trying.

      • by akozakie (633875)

        Mod parent up, if only for the first sentence. I've been watching the US from outside for many years. I see all these comments about the huge gap between the two parties, the differences that make it impossible for a Republican to ever vote for a Democrat and vice versa, the Incompatible Values (TM)... And I just cannot see it. I mean I get the difference in high-level declarations, just not in actions. The actual differences between the two sides in practically any discussion I've seen would easily fit wit

  • by Rougement (975188) on Sunday October 06, 2013 @08:58AM (#45050289)
    ... just as soon as he's done serving his sentence for perjuring himself in front of Congress.
    • Why would you listen to a convicted felon if you don't want to listen to one not convicted yet?

      • by Rougement (975188)
        Because shut up.
      • by khallow (566160)
        Because he would have paid his dues to society. Similarly, if I were in a hiring position I wouldn't ever hire someone who I knew had committed a felony and not get punished. But I might, depending on the job, hire a convicted felon.
  • The pope has the infallibility thing, in which he tells us when he's infallible, so we don't go confusing his regular fallible musings.

    How about Clapper? When do we know he's telling the truth? Could he not wear some kind of special hat on the rare occasions when he's speaking truthfully on matters of great import? I'd suggest he wink when he's not telling the truth, but he'd be winking so often during congressional hearings he'd seem to be having a stroke.

  • by arthurpaliden (939626) on Sunday October 06, 2013 @09:12AM (#45050361)
    "we use every intelligence tool available to understand the intent of our foreign adversaries" I do not think the word foreign means what you think it does. Foreign if you look it up in any dictionary and then apply it in context to the United States means non American citizens.
  • by pesho (843750)
    He keeps using that word, but I don't think it means what he thinks it means.
    • by kenh (9056)

      The NSA is tasked with gathering foreign intelligence, and to accomplish that objective they sometimes have to decrypt encoded messages. How is the attempt to decrypt TOR traffic "illegal"? Is TOR only used by US citizens, for lawful purposes and between domestic end-points?

  • Oh, wait, isn't that kinda their job? The value of TOR lies in it's inability to be cracked, why is anyone surprised that the NSA tried to crack it?

    Now, if the report was that the NSA had been able to successfully crack TOR that would be noteworthy...

  • This is more or less a justification for any action the NSA might take.

    They already have access to pretty much *all* communications in the world. I for one am sure glad that helped prevent the Boston bombings and the recent attack on the mall in Kenya.

    If they are already unable to detect and prevent bad things from happening at the hands of terrorists, what justifies attempting to crack one of the few means of privacy we have left? In their rampant pursuit of obtaining *all* communications they have trample

  • As long as we know that the NSA is doing this, I'm happy to have them as pentesters. Who better to help keep TOR's security top notch?
  • It only takes three words to sum up how untrustworthy the NSA is, "Pressure Cooker Backpack".
  • by tmosley (996283) on Sunday October 06, 2013 @09:44AM (#45050501)
    Of course, because in National Socialist America, EVERYONE is a terrorist and a criminal.

    It's impossible to rule a nation of innocents.
  • by sirwired (27582) on Sunday October 06, 2013 @09:57AM (#45050549)

    Gee, an organization tasked with intercepting and interpreting electronic communications wants to intercept and interpret electronic communications! Who woulda thunk it?

    The NSA has certainly done a poor job keeping it's nose clean, but personally, I'd be rather disappointed if they weren't trying to de-anonymize Tor! Figuring out who is talking to who, and how often, called Signals Intelligence, is the bedrock of intelligence analysis (and has been even before the NSA existed), and in many ways is more important than knowing what they are saying.

    In addition, if the NSA were to suddenly be hit with a clue-by-four by federal judges actually doing their job, they would need the de-anonymizing information to perform proper filtering of domestic communications.

    • but personally, I'd be rather disappointed if they weren't trying to de-anonymize Tor! Figuring out who is talking to who, and how often, called Signals Intelligence, is the bedrock of intelligence analysis (and has been even before the NSA existed), and in many ways is more important than knowing what they are saying.

      You'd be disappointed if they weren't so evil? I'm disappointed that people say such idiotic things.

    • The NSA has certainly done a poor job keeping it's nose clean, but personally, I'd be rather disappointed if they weren't trying to de-anonymize Tor! Figuring out who is talking to who, and how often, called Signals Intelligence, is the bedrock of intelligence analysis (and has been even before the NSA existed), and in many ways is more important than knowing what they are saying.

      They are not given the right to spy on American Citizens. They should err on the side of caution, but they do not. Instead they inject machines with malware if the use Tor. There are many reasons to use Tor. For instance: The NSA is not the only agency in the world trying to spy on our data. Additionally, I may not want the government to discern who I'm considering voting for. We do have secret ballots for a reason, and in this online world the NSA has essentially ended this right. IMO, these actions

  • by FuzzNugget (2840687) on Sunday October 06, 2013 @10:39AM (#45050715)
    Stop making enemies by meddling in other countries' affairs to suit your own selfish gains.
  • by king neckbeard (1801738) on Sunday October 06, 2013 @03:12PM (#45052459)
    How about we cut off the oxygen supply at the NSA HQ? After all, terrorists breathe oxygen too, and given the incompetence of the NSA, I'd be surprised if anybody in there WASN'T a terrorist.
  • by jcr (53032) <jcr@@@mac...com> on Sunday October 06, 2013 @08:05PM (#45054119) Journal

    He has run an agency which routinely violates the fourth and fifth amendments. I'm talking about billions of felonies, every goddamned day.

    -jcr

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