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CBS 60 Minutes: NSA Speaks Out On Snowden, Spying 504

Posted by samzenpus
from the what-did-he-get? dept.
An anonymous reader writes "This week CBS New's 60 Minutes program had a broadcast segment devoted to the NSA, and additional online features. It revealed that the first secret Snowden stole was the test and answers for a technical examination to get a job at NSA. When working at home, Snowden covered his head and screen with a hood so that his girlfriend couldn't see what he was doing. NSA considered the possibility that Snowden left malicious software behind and removed every computer and cable that Snowden had access to from its classified network, costing tens of millions of dollars. Snowden took approximately 1.7 million classified documents. Snowden never approached any of multiple Inspectors General, supervisors, or Congressional oversight committee members about his concerns. Snowden's activity caught the notice of other System Administrators. There were also other interesting details, such as the NSA has a highly competitive intern program for High School students that are given a Top Secret clearance and a chance to break codes that have resisted the efforts of NSA's analysts — some succeed. The NSA is only targeting the communications, as opposed to metadata, of less than 60 Americans. Targeting the actual communications of Americans, rather than metadata, requires a probable cause finding and a specific court order. NSA analysts working with metadata don't have access to the name, and can't listen to the call. The NSA's work is driven by requests for information by other parts of the government, and there are about 31,000 requests. Snowden apparently managed to steal a copy of that document, the 'crown jewels' of the intelligence world. With that information, foreign nations would know what the US does and doesn't know, and how to exploit it."
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CBS 60 Minutes: NSA Speaks Out On Snowden, Spying

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  • by xtal (49134) on Monday December 16, 2013 @10:13AM (#45703083) Homepage

    Cables are dangerous.

    http://www.dailytech.com/Apple+Takes+a+Page+From+Monsters+Book+Offers+50+Thunderbolt+Cable/article22041.htm [dailytech.com]

    That nice looking molded CAT6 cable could have any number of surprises inside...

  • Re:Oh NSA (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jason Levine (196982) on Monday December 16, 2013 @10:26AM (#45703233)

    Exactly. It's weasel words. "We're only targeting 60 Americans" might be true, but it leaves an impression that they're only capturing data on 60 Americans when what it really means is "We're capturing metadata on EVERY American, but most of that data goes into our servers to be accessed/searched on later. Right now, we're only looking at the actual communications for 60 Americans, but that could change at any moment if we deem it to be needed for any reason we think up."

  • Re:Oh NSA (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 16, 2013 @10:30AM (#45703257)

    FTA: Snowden never approached any of multiple Inspectors General, supervisors, or Congressional oversight committee members about his concerns.

    I was a Federal whisteblower, on two cases. Being a whistleblower will get you followed, framed, and fired — at the least. In my case, additional, externally directed efforts were made to strangle me financially, and to destroy my career.

    Don't do it. They will destroy you.

  • by NatasRevol (731260) on Monday December 16, 2013 @10:46AM (#45703429) Journal

    Plus they got an utter insider to pretend to be a journalist.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Miller_(journalist) [wikipedia.org]

    " He is the former Associate Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Analytic Transformation and Technology.[1] Prior to that, he was an Assistant Director of Public Affairs for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), where he was the bureau's national spokesman."

  • by Bomarc (306716) on Monday December 16, 2013 @10:46AM (#45703435) Homepage
    I could only watch the first part of the lies by the NSA, and the failure of 60 minutes -- John Miller to follow up.

    For starters -- Snowden didn't steal anything: he copied it (minor detail).

    What Snowden did was compared to killing 10 people. Snowden didn't kill anyone.

    We were told that NSA can't access information unless they had a warrant: Again, false on many occasions, some documented here on /. (Do I *really* need to provide the references?) The NSA continually provides information to law enforcement agencies w/o warrant.

    Anyone else notice: They have ACTUAL phone numbers, the REAL ones. Google your own phone number some time to see about so-called meta-data.

    No mention of what the NSA had been doing - in violation of court orders (only a brief and casual mention of so-called accidental overstepping). I call BS on this one.

    I had hoped that 60 minutes would do an insightful - investigation into NSA. What I heard from so-called reporter John Miller was a PR fluff piece that one would expect as a former national spokesman for the FBI.
  • by jma05 (897351) on Monday December 16, 2013 @10:57AM (#45703563)

    Forbes just put out a counter balancing piece that refutes that narrative.
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/andygreenberg/2013/12/16/an-nsa-coworker-remembers-the-real-edward-snowden-a-genius-among-geniuses/ [forbes.com]

  • by NatasRevol (731260) on Monday December 16, 2013 @10:58AM (#45703571) Journal

    They didn't lie to the press, they WERE the press.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Miller_(journalist) [wikipedia.org]

    " He is the former Associate Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Analytic Transformation and Technology.[1] Prior to that, he was an Assistant Director of Public Affairs for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), where he was the bureau's national spokesman."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 16, 2013 @11:39AM (#45703979)

    Of course it was character assassination. They did a whole bit about how he could have left a virus on the system. And then went into a whole other bit about a virus that could shut down every computer in the world and destroy the world economy.

  • Re:Rah! Rah! NSA! (Score:5, Informative)

    by khallow (566160) on Monday December 16, 2013 @11:48AM (#45704063)

    Um.... what do you call CBS if not a channel through which "they" can put out their version of the story?

    How can CBS verify that the NSA is doing what they claim to be doing? For example, there's this claim that the NSA is only spying on 60 or so US citizens. How would CBS know that versus the NSA spying on 60 million US citizens? CBS has no way to distinguish this because all of that is secret. They're just a higher visibility platform than some vanity blog with three readers. They have no more ability to bring credibility to the claims that the NSA makes.

  • BIOS Attack? (Score:5, Informative)

    by ConallB (876297) on Monday December 16, 2013 @12:05PM (#45704227)

    The BIOS attack mentioned in the article was really telling about how the spin machine works: To Quote:

    This is the BIOS system which starts most computers. The attack would have been disguised as a request for a software update. If the user agreed, the virus would’ve infected the computer.

    John Miller: So, this basically would have gone into the system that starts up the computer, runs the systems, tells it what to do.

    Debora Plunkett: That's right.

    John Miller: --and basically turned it into a cinderblock.

    Debora Plunkett: A brick.

    John Miller: And after that, there wouldn't be much you could do with that computer.

    Debora Plunkett: That's right. Think about the impact of that across the entire globe. It could literally take down the U.S. economy.

    First off, a BIOS attack? Really? Welcome to the 1980's!

    Secondly, Request for software update to attack BIOS? Have you tried to update your BIOS? It aint that easy and any bios made since the late 80's has safeguards to prevent BIOS updates in the way that's described.

    Thirdly, to brick enough computers to ruin the US economy using a bios update would be practically impossible. Never mind that such an attack would have to target people stupid enough to apply updates to systems in locked server rooms. Good luck with that!

    Finally, this whole article just demonstrated how they just don't 'get it'. They collect data on you and your loved ones but they don't "look" at it because "that" would be illegal. And if they get caught well then it's "their PR" which is bad, not their actions.

    And surely hacking the answers to cheat on a test to be a spy surely qualifies you for the job by default?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 16, 2013 @12:27PM (#45704487)

    ...John Miller was a PR fluff piece that one would expect as a former national spokesman for the FBI

    That's the real story here. The person who did the "reporting" has a clear conflict of interest. 60 Minutes used to be known for doing some hard hitting investigative journalism. My respect for 60 Minutes went down the toilet last night. It's not just John Miller who's the problem here. Clearly the management of CBS must know about his past work history - and they don't care. This is also the same organization that just mucked up their Benghazi reporting. 60 Minutes has gone from being a news program to be proud of to being a stain on the entire CBS network. CBS is turning into FOX with lipstick.

  • by modecx (130548) on Monday December 16, 2013 @02:19PM (#45705717)

    60 Minutes has a long list of journalistic fuckups, misrepresentations, poor research and intellectual dishonesty going back at least 30 years.

    I'm just surprised to see them so flagrantly sit at the right hand of the Ministry of Truthiness, as they did in this piece.

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