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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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  • Meta-data (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 16, 2013 @09:57AM (#45702921)

    We know who your friends are we know where your children go to school, keep quiet and it will all be aright......

    • by Taco Cowboy (5327) on Monday December 16, 2013 @10:06AM (#45702999) Journal

      Other than lies, lies and more damn lies, what else can NSA come up with ?

      No matter how slick or how polished their lies be, NSA's lies are still LIES.

      NSA has betrayed America.

      NSA has betrayed the Constitution.

      NSA is a rogue organization within the government of the United States of America.

      • by rvw (755107) on Monday December 16, 2013 @10:13AM (#45703085)

        Other than lies, lies and more damn lies, what else can NSA come up with ?

        Statistics!

      • by g0bshiTe (596213) on Monday December 16, 2013 @10:19AM (#45703137)
        My thoughts exactly, to that end it seems now the thing to do is to discredit Snowden who I consider a true patriot.

        Of all the things said about him by the NSA the one thing that strikes me about the whole case is that nowhere ever is it mentioned he did it for money or anything other than to expose what the NSA was up to to the world.
        • by Somebody Is Using My (985418) on Monday December 16, 2013 @10:48AM (#45703473) Homepage

          As important, even if Snowden was a scurrilous, devious shithead who cheated to get a job and stole that information for all the wrong reasons - as claimed in the interview - , that still in no way vindicates the actions of the NSA. Their methods were both morally and legally untenable and no matter the motives of the whistleblower, it is better that the citizens of the nation (and the world) are aware of the actions of the US government. It's the only way we can possibly hope to rein them in and prevent such abuses in the future. Even if that is a distant fantasy, it has a far greater probability of happening thanks to Snowden's actions. So no matter how the NSA - and the government at large - attempts to deflect the issue with attempts at character assassination, in the end we are still better off knowing their misdeeds.

          • by conspirator57 (1123519) on Monday December 16, 2013 @11:59AM (#45704173)

            Moreover, It's not like he hasn't had the observable precedent of what the government did to vocal dissenters using the "process," namely to maliciously prosecute them and strip them of their retirement even when prosecution fails for the obvious reason that there was no evidence. Thomas Drake is a prime example of that.

            • by WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) on Monday December 16, 2013 @01:27PM (#45705185)

              Right. The fact that they used the power of the state, specifically the justice dept. to go after people who had done nothing wrong is proof that they control that state power. This is the problem with secret access to secret information. Everything they have everything they do every conversation they have every access by everyone to every system at any time should be memorialized and subject to meaningful audit by truly independent citizens. It's the only way for us to both collect the information we need to protect ourselves and prevent the kind of abuse they meted out to Binney and Drake, which was the whole reason they produced a Snowden in the first place.

          • by ai4px (1244212) on Monday December 16, 2013 @01:19PM (#45705085)
            What I love is that when a Snowden or an Assange comes along, they cue up the character assassinations. Why didnt you know Snowden's girlfriend was a stripper? That he made little ladies at the local bingo parlor say the F word by yelling BINGO at inappropriate times?

            It's to the point that I tend to believe a person is morally right as I hear more and more dirt on them.

      • by DrLang21 (900992) on Monday December 16, 2013 @10:19AM (#45703145)
        "Snowden never approached any of multiple Inspectors General, supervisors, or Congressional oversight committee members about his concerns."

        And how would they expect that to be responded to if he did? "Keep your mouth shut if you know what's good for you."
        • by larry bagina (561269) on Monday December 16, 2013 @10:37AM (#45703323) Journal

          If he expected to be treated like previous NSA whistleblowers or previous Obama era whistleblowers/leakers, why would he do that?

          At best he could talk to someone like Ron Wyden or Mark Udall. Except they already knew what kind of shit the NSA was doing and couldn't say or do anything about it.

          • by TWX (665546) on Monday December 16, 2013 @11:09AM (#45703691)
            Blowing the whistle only works when telling people that don't already know, and arguably aren't technically cleared to have such knowledge, as those that have clearance can't say anything even if they're told by a whistleblower, as it would spell an end to their clearance and probably their job, or in the case of an elected official, an end to their effectiveness at their job.

            I wonder, sometimes, how much less safe we'd really, actually be if the NSA or a like-organization didn't exist, or at least didn't get access to anything domestically without explicit court order. My guess is that it wouldn't be much, especially since for most cases of terrorism that have been launched from within the US (9/11, Tsasrnaev, Oklahoma City) have seemingly gone off without having triggered a response, especially considering that there was evidence of something being planned from the start that was brought to attention.

            I do not think that we are a whole lot safer on account of the NSA. As such, I don't think that the NSA's mission to collect information on Americans can even be justified by a safety argument.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 16, 2013 @10:51AM (#45703507)

          What I find particularly worrying about those statements is that apparently no one else did either. Of everyone working at the NSA, no one did the right thing.
          If someone had, and reporting to the inspectors would actually yield something useful, they would definitely have mentioned it to further discredit Snowden. Why would they withhold the proof that their check & balances works? Because there is no proof, because it doesn't work.

          The only one who did the right thing, did so while making elaborate plans to escape the country, share the news with enough news agencies and reporters and pretty much all other things you find the good guys in movies doing when they fight the evil government.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 16, 2013 @11:23AM (#45703835)

            Here are possibilities more clearly laid out:
            1) the NSA did nothing wrong
            2) the NSA did something wrong, but no one noticed
            3) the NSA did something wrong, but no one reported it
            4) the NSA did something wrong and people reported it but nothing changed

            So which one is it, NSA? (1) is laughable, (2) and (3) put their workforce in bad light, and (4) justifies Snowden's approach.

      • 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 JWW (79176) on Monday December 16, 2013 @12:26PM (#45704479)

          I love how a warrant awarded in secret with contents that are secret to collect data that will be kept secret is supposed to ok this type of behavior.

        • 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.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by modecx (130548)

            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.

        • by VortexCortex (1117377) <`VortexCortex' ` ... -retrograde.com'> on Monday December 16, 2013 @01:20PM (#45705093) Homepage

          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.

          It's perfectly in line with what famous linguist Noam Chomsky told us about the media decades ago. [youtube.com] ABC and 60 minutes are some of the most blatantly bullshit of the mainstream media, rivaling Fox News. From airing things like "D is for Dad and Dumb" -- the weekend of father's day? [parents.com], to writing hit-pieces about human rights websites [staresattheworld.com] claiming coordinated harassment of Anita Sarkeesian while ignoring her blatant confirmation bias and clear evidence of victim-farming con artistry, [youtube.com] it's clear they do not present an objective or unbiased news source. It's also clear ABC are intentionally deceptive and seem to be harboring and furthering a sexist anti-male agenda.

          It's quite strange -- When I was younger I had assumed they were good; 60min was what grown-ups watched... right? It would be some kind of tin-foil-hatter conspiracy theory to think they weren't trustworthy news sources... right? Nope. Apparently Chomsky knew what he was talking about, and it applies now more than ever.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 16, 2013 @12:03PM (#45704211)

        When someone asks the NSA the question, "Are you widely*collecting* information on millions of Americans?" and the answer given is that they "can only *target* Americans with a court order," then they are not answering the question that was asked. This is the way that they've been dodging this issue from the beginning, and I'm not sure that most people are noticing this.

        They should have been called on this. It was bad journalism.

    • Re:Meta-data (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 16, 2013 @10:16AM (#45703111)

      Metadata is nothing more than data to begin with. This distinction is absolutely absurd. Capturing the actual data wouldn't really be any more difficult for them, so how is that magically more private? It isn't. They're just abusing past irrelevant, ignorant court decisions for their own gain.

  • Rah! Rah! NSA! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 16, 2013 @09:58AM (#45702923)

    So it sounds like it will be pro-NSA spin-doctoring from our crony-corporatist media.

    • Re:Rah! Rah! NSA! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by SirGarlon (845873) on Monday December 16, 2013 @10:01AM (#45702955)
      In order for there to be a meaningful public discussion about government surveillance, the surveillance agencies need to be able to state their position. Indeed, it is hardly possible to refute their reasons for surveillance unless they have a chance to state them.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        They've been "making their case" for years. This is nothing but spin doctoring and character assassination not an honest debate.

      • Re:Rah! Rah! NSA! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by gl4ss (559668) on Monday December 16, 2013 @10:19AM (#45703139) Homepage Journal

        but they have been lying about their position many times.

        also, why would NSA consider amnesty for Snowden? it is not NSA's job to consider that nor is it in their jurisdiction, at least it's not supposed to be.

        less than 60 americans? so 10 million in equipment per? really? shouldn't the number be zero anyways and surveillance on those sixty americans be done by the FBI?

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

        by H3lldr0p (40304) on Monday December 16, 2013 @10:21AM (#45703155) Homepage

        And they can do this without resorting to channels that are known first and primarily as propaganda machines.

        Because, and let us be honest here, part of the reason why we are in this position is that the media in the US are not there to provide the informational bulwark so that we may function as close to an ideal republic as we can. They currently exist to sell us things and to make us feel better out said purchases. This extends to the government at all levels. Who better to give an interview to than the very apparatus that is there to appease and not investigate?

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

        by StoneyMahoney (1488261) on Monday December 16, 2013 @10:21AM (#45703159)

        In some ways the NSA are their own worst enemy in this situation. Snowden leaked huge quantities of documents directly from the horse's mouth, so to speak, that broadly incriminates the NSA of a host of crimes they were supposedly able to self-regulate against. The problem they have now is one of credibility - they have no channel through which to put out their version of the story that will allow it to carry the same credibility as Snowden's leak.

        I work in the media sector and myself and know that no self-respecting spin doctor could get this so badly wrong as it seems on the surface - there was a target demographic of supreme importance that they hit square in the face for some reason. Not that I can go looking for them from the other side of the pond...

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

        by Hatta (162192) on Monday December 16, 2013 @12:29PM (#45704509) Journal

        the surveillance agencies need to be able to state their position.

        Surveillance agencies should not even have an opinion. Their job is to do what The People tell them to do. Their job is not to advocate for any position.

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

      by poetmatt (793785) on Monday December 16, 2013 @10:06AM (#45703003) Journal

      CBS has never been anything other than sucking at the teat of corporatism. It's not an accident they didn't cover the arab spring, OWS or anything other than pro-us government leaning views until they were widely broadcast everywhere else.

      In short - if it's affiliated with any TV network public or private, then you're not the customer. The corporations are.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      So it sounds like it will be pro-NSA spin-doctoring from our crony-corporatist media.

      I was thinking that 60 Minutes is now broadcasting fiction.

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

      Assuming that's true ...

      Like they'd do anything about it and if he did, he could kiss his job good-bye and he would be told to shut up. And even if he ignored them and started blabbing on the Internet and media, who'd believe him? Without documentation, he's just another conspiracy theorist.

      Targeting the actual communications of Americans, rather than metadata, requires a probable cause finding and a specific court order.

      Yep, it does require it but they don't give a shit. They do it anyway.

      NSA analysts working with metadata don't have access to the name, and can't listen to the call.

      I do NOT believe this. Anyone who does is a rube.

      • Given enough "meta data" you can actually construct a reasonable facsimile of what the data actually is. In some cases, it is more valuable than the data itself.

    • by sgt_doom (655561)
      Somehow, this NSA infomercial neglected to mention the lies told by Graham and Clapper to congress, which should constitute treason at the very least!

      Somehow, this NSA infomercial neglected to mention that Gen. Clapper was part of Geo. Bush's "fabricated WMD intel in Iraq" team, and lied his ass off on behalf of the Bush administration and WMDs in Iraq.

      Somehow, we still don't have any forensic audits to see how many millions are wasted daily at the CIA, NSA and DIA (by wasted, one means they are bot
  • by bazmail (764941) on Monday December 16, 2013 @09:59AM (#45702929)
    The character assassination of Snowden begins.
  • Oh NSA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PlusFiveTroll (754249) on Monday December 16, 2013 @09:59AM (#45702931) Homepage

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

    Good idea too. Everyone else who did (that we know of) was fired and investigated. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Andrews_Drake [wikipedia.org]

    >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.

    We don't believe you, and quit targeting my metadata without a warrant.

    • Re:Oh NSA (Score:4, Insightful)

      by dmbasso (1052166) on Monday December 16, 2013 @10:07AM (#45703013)

      And approaching supervisors worked pretty well for Manning... [/sarcasm]

    • Re:Oh NSA (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Heed00 (1473203) on Monday December 16, 2013 @10:11AM (#45703055)
      And, of course, there's a difference between actively "targeting" and collecting "incidentally" or "unwittingly." To deny the former does not exclude the latter. These guys lie for a living and love muddying the waters by using specific terms in specific contexts to sound like blanket denials which, in reality, turn out to be almost meaningless declarations.

      And yes, metadata can easily be more intrusive than content.
      • 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 twmcneil (942300) on Monday December 16, 2013 @10:00AM (#45702943)
    Who in their right mind would believe anything the NSA says? They have lied to everyone about everything.
    • by TWiTfan (2887093) on Monday December 16, 2013 @10:16AM (#45703113)

      If they're willing to openly lie to Congress, does anyone think for a second they wouldn't openly lie to the press? When NSA reps speak now, I don't even bother listening for how they parse their language. They're not even trying to *technically* tell the truth--they're just flat out lying, period.

    • The people like cold fjord who would continually piss themselves over "Mooslem" boogeymen without Big Brother tucking them in at night. 9/10 chance that this "anonymous" person is cold fjord.

    • by akozakie (633875) on Monday December 16, 2013 @11:09AM (#45703695)

      The funny thing is how few of the comments in the media talk about the Snowden's case in the only context that makes even the pro-national-security-collect-everything guys stop and think.

      As far as we know, the guy wasn't being paid for this. Wasn't specifically pre-trained for this. Had no external help. Just look what he managed to get access to. Now couple this with the thinking behind the "I told you" comments saying "see, it was possible and bam! the NSA was actually doing it". Now see how many people the NSA has.

      The discussion whether the utility of having these data trumps privacy or constitutionality concerns is moot. Snowden showed the honestly funny truth. If he could do it, other competent intelligence agencies are doing it. NSA is in fact (unintentionally, of course) collecting data on Americans for Russians/Chinese/whoever. They are a wonderful source - a bit hard to get to, but once you do...

      The NSA wants to stop any attempts to restrict its data collection (citing national security), because regaining lost privileges is a bit hard and they like what they have. But - as explained above - national security dictates that NSA's data collection should be immediately minimized. Know what you must and control it. As you grow, you're easier to penetrate. As is, Snowden made NSA look like a glaring hole in the security of US of A. Ironic, isn't it?

      Not that I care. Not my country, not my business...

  • Biased much? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 16, 2013 @10:01AM (#45702951)

    Could this be more biased in favour of the NSA? I don't think so. It reads as pure propaganda.

    The fact is - the NSA, and the US government, has consistently been lying to the American people. Consistently. The Guardian publishes one thing, the US responds, and then the Guardian publishes another clearly indicating how the US government lied. Time and time again. How many times do we have to go over this?

  • by Noughmad (1044096) <miha.cancula@gmail.com> on Monday December 16, 2013 @10:02AM (#45702963) Homepage

    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.

    Because next time I write a virus, I will use it to infect a UTP cable.

  • by Infestedkudzu (2557914) on Monday December 16, 2013 @10:03AM (#45702971)
    Does this just seem like the heaviest kind of propaganda on how bad snowden is. the whole thing is just emphasizing how 'horrible' he is and making no mention of how unacceptable Almost all NSA actions are. Its when I post to these articles that I wonder how much slashdot articles get red flagged.
  • by ATMAvatar (648864) on Monday December 16, 2013 @10:03AM (#45702977) Journal
    Isn't stealing the answers part of the exam to get into a spy agency?
  • Puff piece (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TWiTfan (2887093) on Monday December 16, 2013 @10:05AM (#45702991)

    Never asked the obvious questions. "If you really aren't storing all our emails and phone calls, then why do you need to build a new $1.5 billion facility [wikipedia.org] to hold exabytes of data storage? Either you're lying or you're guilty of a SERIOUS misappropriation of funds. So which is it?"

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Have you considered that maybe they need to store data that's not your e-mails and phone calls? I mean, their focus is primarily foreign surveillance.

  • Crocodile Tears (Score:5, Insightful)

    by StoneyMahoney (1488261) on Monday December 16, 2013 @10:08AM (#45703033)

    Not having access to 60-minutes in the UK, it would seem the main thrust of the NSA's argument is that the system has checks and balances for exactly this sort of situation, and that Snowden should have notified the right people about his findings rather than go public. What it doesn't seem to mention is that these very same people should already have known about this - everyone whose responsibility it was to either refrain from these actions or say "No" when someone else asked if they were allowed had already said "Yes" so I think removing the system's responsibility for self-regulation by public release in that context is exactly the right thing to do.

    By trying to paint Snowden's actions as irresponsible by failing to follow the preapproved script for this sort of violation, they are also trying to cover the arses of the self-regulators by claiming ignorance of the matter on their behalf. It's simultaneously a smear-attack on Snowden and an attempt to save the faces of the people he's made like utter f***wits. The logic-fail in this case is that they can't cover up what we already know from their own documents happened, so the ignorance play only makes the self-regulation argument even weaker as, prior to Snowden's releases, it had already comprehensively failed to protect those in it's charge over a long period of time.

    • Snowden should have notified the right people about his findings rather than go public

      My reaction was that he did go to the right people. MY government has no right to keep secrets about what it is doing in regards to ME.

  • by StormReaver (59959) on Monday December 16, 2013 @10:12AM (#45703075)

    So an organization whose existence is predicated on lying, and whose employees, from the top of the food chain to the bottom of the food chain, have done nothing but lie to their country, from the top of the food chain to the bottom of the food chain, goes on a national TV show and says stuff that we are supposed to believe?

    Either the NSA is staffed by utter morons, or they think we are the utter morons. There is a huge believability deficit in that agency, and an enormous cognitive disconnect among its leaders. It's yet another federal agency that needs a large funding reduction, and whose leaders need many years of therapy.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The 60-Minutes episode was not directed to you. The whole purpose was to "educate" the major part of the American people that are not certain what is going on but are absolutely sure that they need protection from the unknown enemy. After months of bad press, the NSA needed a well-scripted PR boost, and CBS was willing to give it to them.

      The sad truth is that a vast majority of the American people do not want to spend the time to analyze the raw data and come to their own conclusion. They want small, pre-di

  • Cryptoanalysis? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rmsilva123 (1417079) on Monday December 16, 2013 @10:24AM (#45703201)
    "Joslyn: So the idea here is we’re looking at a sequence of numbers, and we want to determine whether they’re random or not random.
    John Miller: How are you approaching that? Can you show me?
    Joe: We are looking at this data here and it is a bunch of random numbers on the screen.
    John Miller: That looks a tad overwhelming.
    Joe: It is."

    They are trying to determine if the numbers are random by looking at them on the screen? If this was how they were doing cryptoanalysis at the NSA, we could all sleep better. Of course, as noted above, there's no reason to believe any information provided in an obvious propaganda piece like this one.
  • by jabberw0k (62554) on Monday December 16, 2013 @10:27AM (#45703241) Homepage Journal

    When working at home, Snowden covered his head and screen with a hood so that his girlfriend couldn't see what he was doing.

    Sounds like he was channeling Joseph Smith.

  • by DaveyJJ (1198633) on Monday December 16, 2013 @10:39AM (#45703347) Homepage
    Regardless of CBS' political leanings, you'd have thought that the idea of CBS using John Miller, an ex-employee of the director of National Intelligence, and someone touted to be in the running for a top NYPD intelligence job, to be the interviewer would have stunk to high heaven. There was no criticism, no pushback and no attempt to suggest that the NSA has been doing anything wrong. Holy crickey ... did the NSA simply script this and hand it to CBS?
  • by gmuslera (3436) on Monday December 16, 2013 @10:39AM (#45703351) Homepage Journal
    Clear signal that they are still lying. The director of the NSA [slate.com] had no problem nor consequences for lying to the congress, and Obama [boingboing.net] had no problem lying to the people multiple times. And you are trusting everything to people that intentionally is lying to you, and trying at all cost to catch the person that could inform you what the truth behind all those lies?
  • The Running Man (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Grizzley9 (1407005) on Monday December 16, 2013 @10:46AM (#45703431)
    Sounds like they were taking a que from The Running Man script

    [Amber is being introduced to the audience as a special guest 'runner']
    Phil Hiton: ...Later, she cheated on College exams. Then she had sexual relations with three, sometimes even four men within a single year. Then came Mad Dog Ben Richards, her *Confederate*, her LOVER!
    Amber: That's a lie!
    Damon Killian: Let's reunite these two lovebirds!
    [audience cheers]
    Damon Killian: [Amber is sent down to the game zone]

    "

  • Sponsored (Score:5, Funny)

    by Frankie70 (803801) on Monday December 16, 2013 @10:57AM (#45703555)

    This episode of 60 minutes was brought to you by NSA

  • by tom229 (1640685) on Monday December 16, 2013 @11:04AM (#45703645)

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

    Ya, because he'd rather spend the rest of his life a fugitive, essentially exiled from his home country and family under fear of rotting in solitary confinement in a military prison without charge. He'd rather do this than simply follow the perfectly effective checks and balances this completely innocent organization is government by.

    How stupid do they think we are?

  • 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.

    The fact that they think such an attack could take place and that their best defense would be to take every piece of equipment that could be tainted and kill it with fire tells me that the NSA's IDS systems are extremely weak, its NIDS especially. I think this is the first bit of news that compromises security at the NSA, and they admitted it willingly. Sounds like the NSA is VASTLY better at attack than defense, which apparently consists of carefully screening everything that's allowed on their network (down to their TEMPEST-proof HQ) and then crossing their fingers.

  • 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?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by AndrewBuck (1120597)

      What is even more funny (and telling) about the reporting on this is that the NSA people in the interview claimed the NSA stopped this attack and then CBS reported that directly with no question about whether this was legitamate or not. They claim this would have bricked all the computers, which presumably includes the one I am typing this message on. So we are just told they stopped the attack... how.

      Seriously, how the fuck did they do that?

      They claim China wrote some super virus that could brick the bio

  • by WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) on Monday December 16, 2013 @01:49PM (#45705395)

    but privacy is the culprit here. The NSA can go rogue because they have way too much privacy of a certain type, the "it never happened" type privacy, not the "no one knows what we are now talking about " privacy.

    They can plan and plot in a dark so dark no one can ever know what was said. That has to go. Every single they do, speak, write , everywhere they go, every access to every computer system anyone there ever avails themselves of has to be memorialized into an incorruptible audit trail which can "replayed" and otherwise analyzed by investigative authorities given the proper authorization to do so.

    To start with the premise that "we don't need this surveillance" is to concede the argument before it's even begun.

    You can't win an argument starting with a false picture of reality. We DO need this level of surveillance. We DO need these systems and we will need them even more going forward. That is a highly unpleasant fact about reality. We need new thinking here.

    So how do we stop an agency with that much assymetrical information from leveraging it into domestic political or global economic power and thus consuming on the one had our democracy and on the other our legitimacy as a world power?

    The answer is to make it impossible to abuse the system AND ALSO get away with it, both.

    The people in charge there now need to be moved out. People like Binney and Drake and Snowden - all true patriots- who KNOW how this technology can and is abused need to be put into positions of power. The old guard would never ever permit that , even to the point of staging a coup d'tat . Obama needs his own, legitimate, Sunday Night Massacre (Nixon 1973) there and he needs to move all at once and very suddenly with a clear vision of how that agency is going to be going forward.

    Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. We need the NSA and what it does. We need more of the same from the NSA in fact. But we need the contingency of ironclad transparency into the organization also.

    If you take the long view, it was predictable even obvious that the individuals who "came of age" in the NSA during the digital revolution would attempt to leverage their newly invented and secret powers into an position of untouchability and engage in lawlessness. These guys have a god complex the size of a mountain, and they can have and will continue to demonize, including in their own minds, anyone who opposes their personal vision of what their careers and lives are all about, what their mission is and the best way to achieve that mission.

    No point in picking their psychology apart, the point is they need to be relieved of duty and also we need to implement totalitarian-level of accounting within the organization that any lawbreaker will fear, even as we continue to spy as we have been, pushing the technological limits of what can be uncovered on our very real enemies.

Given its constituency, the only thing I expect to be "open" about [the Open Software Foundation] is its mouth. -- John Gilmore

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