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Wikileaks and Anonymous Join Forces Against US Intelligence Community

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the when-our-powers-combine dept.

Government 268

pigrabbitbear writes "The most recent bombshell of confidential documents dropped by infamous watchdog organization Wikileaks is already looking to have an enormous impact on our understanding of government security practices. Specifically, intimate details on the long-suspected fact that the U.S. has been paying a whole lot of money to have private corporations spy on citizens, activists and other groups and individuals on their ever-expanding, McCarthy-style naughty list. But perhaps more importantly, the docs demonstrate something very interesting about the nature of U.S. government intelligence: They haven't really got much of it."

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Is this article some kind of a joke? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39203419)

Stratfor is a PRIVATE company. The fact that they "spy" on activists or whatever their corporate clients pay them to do has ZERO to do with US intelligence agencies. To be explicit: the "US" is NOT paying private companies to "spy" on activists. That information does not cross over, and the Intelligence Community is not authorized to collect on US Persons, except where allowed by law or authorized by a properly adjudicated warrant from a court of law. I know people on Slashdot don't like to believe this, and prefer to imagine that the sole purpose of the Intelligence Community is spying on our own citizens instead of, you know, doing the jobs they've been charged to do.

Terrible article and summary. F.

Re:Is this article some kind of a joke? (1, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#39203477)

It would appear that Wikileaks doesn't have much intelligence either. I mean I haven't seen anything really secret or seriously sensitive in any of their releases, mostly stuff equating to gossip or which was already known. I've read all the Gee Wow articles about all the secret cables, and other documents, but found them much to do about nothing, and the expected fallout from their release amounted to nothing.

It would appear they have no access to the truely secret stuff. Which is not the same thing as the Government not having any secret stuff. It just means anonymous and wikileaks go after soft targets.

Re:Is this article some kind of a joke? (4, Interesting)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#39203595)

Gossip and proven fact are very far from each other. Now that there is proof of the wrongdoings it's much harder to label them conspiracy theories.

Re:Is this article some kind of a joke? (5, Insightful)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 2 years ago | (#39203599)

Mundane stuff is how you catch the existence of secret stuff. By sifting through a lot of boring sounding data and making connections, things that don't add up are seen, and the right questions to ask are found. That's data mining, and it's not about submarine cars and bullets shooting out of a cigar.

The reason governments go after Wikileaks is that they know this, and by the time Wikileaks or someone else finds a juicy secret, it's much too late to cover up.

Re:Is this article some kind of a joke? (5, Interesting)

crow_t_robot (528562) | more than 2 years ago | (#39203799)

You, sir, are correct. That is why the US has "classified by aggregation" status for documents. The individual documents would not be classified individually, but when you combine them with others they end up becoming classified.

Re:Is this article some kind of a joke? (4, Informative)

_xeno_ (155264) | more than 2 years ago | (#39203879)

Mundane stuff is how you catch the existence of secret stuff. By sifting through a lot of boring sounding data and making connections, things that don't add up are seen, and the right questions to ask are found.

Not too surprisingly, government security people know this, which is why so much mundane shit is classified: to cover up the stuff that really should be secret.

The fact that it also covers up government wrong-doing, like spying on American citizens or massive government waste, is just a nice happy fringe benefit.

Re:Is this article some kind of a joke? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39203613)

Wikileaks doesn't go after any targets. People leak stuff which wikileaks then publishes. If they haven't published anything sensitive enough for you, then that means that people haven't leaked that information to them, not that they "go after soft targets".

Re:Is this article some kind of a joke? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39203617)

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/08/wikileaks-reveals-that-mi_n_793816.html

Yep, big yawn-o-rama.

Re:Is this article some kind of a joke? (1)

gmack (197796) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204177)

Didn't need Wikileaks for that.. this has been a known and very common problem with not just contractors but also US military and UN officials/peacekeepers and from the stories I'm hearing from my military friends (Canadian Peackeepers and US military) that it happens in a lot of different countries. I've heard more than one of my friends tell me that complaints go nowhere even though there were reports of UN official vehicles parked in front of known brothels.

From a run in I had with two wannabe "private security" guys looking to apply for work in Iraq last year I get the feeling that there are people looking for work in places with little law enforcement for exactly these reasons. Their only question after an hour of being lectured 45 minutes on the ins and outs of Iraq? "How are the women there"

Re:Is this article some kind of a joke? (3, Funny)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204499)

Well, to be fair, there ARE some hot KBR girls out there.

In sundresses with combat boots....

And that hot blonde tall girl at the Camp Victory post office....

Not An Article. It's Some Idiot's Blog Posting (3, Insightful)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204307)

Cmdr Taco, where are you...?

You may have regarded Slashdot as your personal sandbox from time to time, but at least you had the grace and wisdom not to piss in it everyday.

Re:Is this article some kind of a joke? (-1, Offtopic)

bwall (2455524) | more than 2 years ago | (#39203683)

This is just Anonymous spreading their usual propaganda to push for a revolution which is far from needed. This is the biggest first world problem I have ever seen.

Re:Is this article some kind of a joke? (1)

stms (1132653) | more than 2 years ago | (#39203737)

I don't think thats because wikileaks lacks intelligence. Its more likely because the really secret stuff won't have *any* paper trail whatsoever.

Re:Is this article some kind of a joke? (2)

bug1 (96678) | more than 2 years ago | (#39203861)

"I mean I haven't seen anything really secret or seriously sensitive in any of their releases .. and the expected fallout from their release amounted to nothing."

Please tell that to that to the US Government.

Re:Is this article some kind of a joke? (-1, Troll)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#39203935)

Please tell that to that to the US Government

No need.
They long since have clinked all the wine glasses and slapped all the back, and chuckled at all the jokes.
They know exactly what wikileaks has and aren't worried a bit, in spite of the grave face they put on to entertain the naive.

Re:Is this article some kind of a joke? (4, Insightful)

Brannoncyll (894648) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204375)

Please tell that to that to the US Government

No need. They long since have clinked all the wine glasses and slapped all the back, and chuckled at all the jokes. They know exactly what wikileaks has and aren't worried a bit, in spite of the grave face they put on to entertain the naive.

For people who aren't worried, they do seem to have put in an unusually large amount of effort in trying to shut Wikileaks down and making Bradley Manning out as some kind of arch-villain.

Re:Is this article some kind of a joke? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39203927)

It would appear that Wikileaks doesn't have much intelligence either. I mean I haven't seen anything really secret or seriously sensitive in any of their releases, mostly stuff equating to gossip or which was already known.

How about Russia gaving Israel the codes to Iranian missiles in exchange for Israel giving them codes for Georgian missiles?

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/153273

Re:Is this article some kind of a joke? (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#39203989)

Big deal. Probably common knowledge since there were so many people involved.

Who would this be secret from? The Russians? The Israelis? Its mere speculation any way from
a FOR PROFIT public sector source.

Nothing to see here, move along please.

so you think they should free bradley manning? (3, Insightful)

decora (1710862) | more than 2 years ago | (#39203933)

because you can't have it both ways.

either wikileaks was innocuous and had no impact on anything, because its documents were pointless gibberish.

or bradley manning was a traitor to the country and endangered the lives of the troops because wikileaks had such sensitive important information.

only one of those can be true. not both.

Re:so you think they should free bradley manning? (3, Informative)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204039)

because you can't have it both ways.

Nope. Wrong.
I can have it both ways. You don't get to make those rules. Its way above your pay grade missie.

Nothing seriously damaging was revealed, but that does not mean Manning did not engage in espionage or that he did not violate his duties as a soldier.

No harm, no foul is not the rules you play by in the real world.

Re:so you think they should free bradley manning? (5, Insightful)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204267)

or bradley manning was a traitor to the country and endangered the lives of the troops because wikileaks had such sensitive important information.

The effect of the information he released has nothing to do with whether he's a traitor. It's the fact that he released the information in the first place, violating the oaths and vows that he took upon joining the military. Deciding whether that material was classified was well above his pay grade, and there were/are procedures in place for him to have challenged the information if he had ethical objections. He decided to release the information anyway.

Treason is in the intent, at least as much as it is the effect. Guy Fawkes still committed treason, even though he never succeeded at blowing up the parliament.

Re:so you think they should free bradley manning? (4, Insightful)

the_bard17 (626642) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204431)

Manning may have committed treason against the government.

I'm still not convinced he committed treason against his country. Don't confuse one with the other.

logic from an anoymous coward? Heh. (5, Insightful)

ClintJCL (264898) | more than 2 years ago | (#39203495)

"The fact that they "spy" on activists or whatever their corporate clients pay them to do has ZERO to do with US intelligence agencies."

If US intelligence has access to the results of their spying, OR pays for it, then it has WAY MORE THAN ZERO to do with it.

Nice try at 2 + 2 = 5, though. It would be commendable if you had the balls to not be anonymous about it.

Re:logic from an anoymous coward? Heh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39203621)

2+2 DOES equal 5, for very large values of 2...

DUH -_- (bad math/CS joke)

Re:logic from an anoymous coward? Heh. (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39203627)

Wrong.

The IC does not pay for, nor does it have access to, the kind of work product relating to US Persons that Stratfor was putting together for corporate/business customers. The law on this is exceedingly clear. I know you "want to believe" that somehow things like Stratfor are used as an end-run around the law by the Intelligence Community, but it's not the case.

But then, you already believe that the IC is full of evil liars and lawbreakers anyway, so why would they need to Stratfor to do their dirty work? Reading things like this article, and comments from people like you, make me seriously wonder why I even choose to serve my country every day. I try to channel Voltaire, but I just can't. Congratulations on choosing ignorance.

I hope you all get what you wish for and that you like China as a global steward.

Re:logic from an anoymous coward? Heh. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39203843)

This guy is talking ignorance while he's pushing the propaganda line. Sure the IC would never violate the law and they certainly have no interest in what private citizens are doing and saying. If you believe that I have a bridge to sell you.

Re:logic from an anoymous coward? Heh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39204197)

Yeah, "pushing the propaganda line". Just because abuses exist and have happened doesn't mean it's ALL abuses. I wish people like you could just for a day see the work that the various pieces of the IC actually do. It would probably make your brain explode. The vast, overwhelming majority of it has nothing to do with Americans, and when it does, requires an individualized warrant. The FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which people like you think is evil, actually is stronger on US Persons than previous law.

Also, the fact that SOME people in government any society may "care" what "private citizens" are doing is exactly why we have laws that explicitly and expressly prohibit it. You make the mistake of believing just because something "can" be done, it must be being done, and done all the time. Except we live in a society based on the rule of law. I feel sad for you — I really do. Living in a world where you hate your own government, and believing they're all out to get you, when in reality they don't care.

Re:logic from an anoymous coward? Heh. (2, Informative)

NormalVisual (565491) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204279)

Except we live in a society based on the rule of law.

Yeah, that mattered a lot to the NSA in collusion with AT&T.

Re:logic from an anoymous coward? Heh. (5, Informative)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204327)

"Collusion". LOL. Now then:

Traffic metadata (things like email "envelope" information, source and destination IPs, etc.) has long been fair game without a warrant as the digital analogue of a "pen register" under Smith v. Maryland 442 US 735 (1979), and is part of the provision that supports lawful NSA data collection under the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 and other law, in conjunction with telecommunication operators like AT&T. The content of traffic of US Persons is NOT fair game, without a properly adjudicated warrant.

The FISA Amendments Act of 2008, passed by a two-thirds majority in both houses of Congress, allows for foreign intelligence collection on non-US Persons without a warrant, no matter where the collection occurs. The longstanding Smith v. Maryland allows for the collection and examination of communications metadata without a warrant. The FISC ruling explicitly finds legal such collection under the now-sunset Protect America Act and the current FISA Amendments Act of 2008.

In order to determine which traffic content may be collected for foreign intelligence purposes, the traffic metadata must be examined. Even when a target in question is a specific non-US Person of foreign intelligence interest, traffic metadata must first be examined in order to target that person! Because examining traffic metadata was found explicitly legal and Constitutional three decades ago by the United States Supreme Court, doing so in order to target legitimate foreign intelligence collection is a legal application in the digital world.

The major issues for foreign SIGINT were twofold:

- A lot of traffic is now digital versus analog, and cannot be targeted by aiming a directional antenna at a particular geographic locale. It is now traveling largely via things like fiber optic cables, intermixed with all manner of other communications. In order to target the collection, it is no longer a case of tapping a single landline telephone, or sitting on a Navy vessel offshore from some area of interest between individuals talking on two-way radios; it's finding that traffic in a sea of global digital communications.

- Foreign communications of non-US Persons physically outside of the US was increasingly traveling through the US. Previously fair game for foreign intelligence collection throughout the history of such collection in the United States, it suddenly became off-limits without a warrant because it was incidentally routed through locations in the United States. Foreign intelligence collection on non-US Persons outside of the US does not require a warrant, and fundamentally still shouldn't simply because their traffic happens to enter the US.

This was a case of changing technology necessitating an update to a law. A supermajority of both houses of Congress agreed. Some comments:

Sen. Dianne Feinstein:

"This bill, in some respects, improves even on the base bill, the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. It provides clear protections for U.S. persons both at home and abroad. It ensures that the Government cannot conduct electronic surveillance on an American anywhere in the world without a warrant. No legislation has done that up to this point."

Then-DNI Mike McConnell:

"Now here's the other thing that most Americans don't appreciate, haven't been exposed to. When we redid that law, the law now says any U.S. person, any U.S. person, that's targeted for foreign intelligence must be protected by a warrant anywhere on the globe. So we actually have a much more stringent law today protecting Americans and civil liberties."

"The debate and the dilemma for us is how do you modernize that law for the modern age? And we debated. For two years we debated and we finally came to closure. The good news is when it was finally voted, two-thirds of the House and two-thirds of the Senate voted for it and here's what it says today: if it's a U.S. person anywhere in the globe, you must have a warrant."

Unfortunately, this discussion is so mired in politics, personal grinding of axes, confusion about early NSA programs (like the so-called Terrorist Surveillance Program, or TSP, which was not renewed after January 2007), and isolated examples of legitimate abuse or misconduct, that not many seem interested in having any real discussion about how foreign intelligence can be reasonably conducted in the digital age. Instead it is a sea of frantic arm-waving and breathless blogging about how the Constitution is being shredded, when the mechanisms of law and judicial oversight have explicitly established the activities as legal.

The cornerstone of the current law and the FISC decision is the protection of the privacy and rights of United States persons. The current law is even more stringent with respect to US Persons than previous law: an individualized warrant from FISC is required to target a US Person anywhere on the globe; before, US Persons did not enjoy the same explicit protections under the law outside of the US.
What monitors this? The same oversight and processes that we trust, by proxy, to monitor the activities of the Intelligence Community. Namely,

- The intelligence oversight committees of both houses of Congress
- Legal counsel for all Intelligence Community components
- The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court
- The Department of Justice
- The Executive Branch

In fact, FISA Modernization is listed as the number one major milestone of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence under the tenure of Mike McConnell.

In sum:

1. A warrant is not required to collect intelligence when the target is not a US Person, regardless of where the collection occurs, including within the US.
2. A warrant is always required to collect intelligence when the target is a US Person, whether inside or outside of the US (more strict than previous law).
3. This requires determining which traffic content can be lawfully collected without a warrant, sometimes with the assistance of telecom operators in the US. In order to determine which traffic can be lawfully collected without a warrant, basic information about the traffic, such as its source and destination, must also be examined. Such examination of traffic — a "pen register" — also does not require a warrant.

The job of our foreign intelligence services is to collect information on the activities and plans of US adversaries. This activity has never required a warrant, because non-US Persons outside of the US are not protected by the Constitution of the United States.

The path traffic takes shouldn't prevent us from doing this job.

The real issue is the questionable legal landscape that existed from 2001 to 2007 and briefly again in 2008 after the expiration of the Protect America Act.

These are questions which may never be answered. Namely, the President's authority under Article II of the Constitution in conjunction with the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF). NSA and the Community had a legal opinion about the legality of the activity - there is always a legal opinion. Our current Attorney General agrees that the President has inherent, intrinsic authority under Article II that cannot be impinged upon by any statue; whether the above activity is explicitly one of those authorities is a legal question that may never be answered, because the programs in question (e.g., TSP) ceased.

Right now, collection may occur within the United States without a warrant, as long as the target is not a US citizen. This activity is explicitly legal under:

- The temporary Protect America Act of 2007, which was in force from August 5, 2007 to February 17, 2008,
- The FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which became Public Law 110-261 on July 10, 2008, and is in force at present,
- The August 2008 FISC ruling.

The hallmark of the FISA amendments are judiciously protecting US persons, while removing restrictions on where and how foreign intelligence on non-US Persons can be collected simply because it's traveling through a glass pipe in San Francisco instead of over the air on the streets of Yemen - and that includes warrantless monitoring of identified foreign intelligence targets, and the technical mechanisms via which their communications can be located, targeted, and extracted from data streams within the US.

The paradigm has been shifted from something (a collection point, a person) being physically within the US to the legal status of the person or entity itself. This is a higher standard, but it is one that enables foreign intelligence services do do their jobs, particularly with regard to SIGINT.

Former NSA and CIA director General Michael Hayden summed up the situation quite succinctly: "We're pretty aggressive within the law. As a professional, I'm troubled if I'm not using the full authority allowed by law."

I wonder if anyone in the media is interested in having this discussion, or if it's all going to be unproven, out-of-context accusations from whistleblowers, with no consideration of the associated challenges for foreign SIGINT in a digital world?

I know no one on slashdot is.

Re:logic from an anoymous coward? Heh. (1)

dwillden (521345) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204389)

Thank you for explaining that far better than I could of.

Re:logic from an anoymous coward? Heh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39204037)

seriously wonder why I even choose to serve my country every day.

The US military spend MILLIONS of dollars every year to keep enlisted people from forming an independent opinion.

Stop for a few minutes and go compare searches for the word "Wiretapping" on google or BBC news from a connection that isn't on base with one that is, and you might be a little bit surprised.

--posting AC to CYA.

Re:logic from an anoymous coward? Heh. (2)

DamnStupidElf (649844) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204293)

But then, you already believe that the IC is full of evil liars and lawbreakers anyway

Proven cases of rendition isn't enough for you?

Re:logic from an anoymous coward? Heh. (0, Troll)

Johann Lau (1040920) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204313)

"I hope you all get what you wish for and that you like China as a global steward."

Oh noes, the Russians are coming! No wait, it's America that has bases all over the world and is continually engaging in war. Nice try though -- does that still work on anyone?

If that's you "serving your country", then you serving your country isn't worth the dirt under my shoes. You are helping administering an illegal occupation (of America, by private institutions) and that's all you do. Now "go sit in a trench until we need you to kill somebody".

Re:logic from an anoymous coward? Heh. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39204141)

Nothing but a paranoid delusional's wet dream.

Why wasn't this tagged with a Tin Foil Hat?

Re:Is this article some kind of a joke? (4, Informative)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#39203507)

Apparently you didn't read the article, so you may want to reduce that last sentence to "terrible summary." TFA is about how some of the work Stratfor has done is total crap, and how the intelligence budget is nothing but cronyism hidden behind classification. Their surveillance on the Yes Men, for example, goes no further than publicly-available information provided by the Yes Men, and a substantial chunk of other work is just Google Translate output on news articles.

Reminder: any time you see a budget increase for defence purposes, there's some kind of pork or corruption behind it.

Re:Is this article some kind of a joke? (5, Informative)

Rimbo (139781) | more than 2 years ago | (#39203611)

Uhm... maybe that's because Stratfor is not an "intelligence" agency in the same way that the FBI or CIA are. They're just a private company trying to make a buck by selling their opinions.

They're basically Rivals.com, but focused on politics rather than sports. And about as much a part of the US intelligence structure as Rivals.com is.

That's why folks like AC above and myself are shaking our collective heads, wondering when Allen Funt is going to jump out from behind Julian Assange and shout, "Surprise!"

Re:Is this article some kind of a joke? (3, Informative)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204129)

Agreed, Stratfor is hardly the biggest offence in terms of budget misappropriation, although the evidence is highly in favour of the 'no money should be spent on this at all' label, and suggests that the intelligence community is gathering huge amounts of unnecessary data because they have no idea what they need. (We have a similar problem in bioinformatics, but ours isn't caused by baseless paranoia.) Budget-wise, the really scary disasters are things like TRAILBLAZER [wikipedia.org] (also mentioned in the article) which are heavily protected from scrutiny through their deep classification. You might further find the connected story of Thomas Drake [newyorker.com] interesting.

Re:Is this article some kind of a joke? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39204353)

Please show me the leaked document that shows the US Intelligence Community or any Federal US Government entity paying Stratfor anything.

What's that? You can't find any?

Because Stratfor is a private company that shills cheesy Intel reports to other companies, and is not employed by the US Government in any way.

Re:Is this article some kind of a joke? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39203905)

Reminder: any time you see a GOVERNMENT budget increase for ANY purpose, there's some kind of pork or corruption behind it.

FTFY.

Why in the entire damned universe do you think non-defence portions of governments are immune to port or corruption?

Re:Is this article some kind of a joke? (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204187)

I didn't say that they were immune. I didn't even mention them. However, unlike over-bloated defence budgets (and let's be honest now, they're offence budgets), there is a small chance that some budget increases may have legitimate substance to them. As someone making a staunchly nihilist claim I realise you're probably opposed to dealing with the concept of any government other than pure anarchism or anarcho-capitalism, but please try to understand that grown-ups sometimes express cynicism too, and that when they do so it is not an invitation to leap into the middle of everything for a few yuk-yuks.

Re:Is this article some kind of a joke? (4, Insightful)

NicBenjamin (2124018) | more than 2 years ago | (#39203953)

It's amazing how little people know about intelligence gathering. The Government is not magic. It is an organization. A big and powerful organization, but an organization nonetheless.

They have a bunch of databases of information they can use. Shockingly, few people are willing to put their press releases in a format that this database automatically understands. This means that if the government wants to know what an organization posts on it's public website some poor schmuck has to go to the website, read the information, and copy/paste into the official database.

It shouldn't be surprising that a group like the Yes Men, whose information is in English and written in way that's supposed to be accesible to ordinary Americans, gets looked at by the losers of the intelligence community, Stratfor, and not official agents.

Without seeing the contract I can't say whether this is losing the government money. This is low-level work, which means people in their first jobs, and the Federal pay structure is such that you make a little more then you're worth in the low pay-grades ($30-$35k out of college, even if you're a Liberal Arts Major), and get full benefits, but then get screwed when you get promoted (Obama only makes $400k, CEOs making that typically oversee less then 1% of the Fed $Trillion budget). Depending on Stratfor's negotiating prowess we could be saving thousands, or being screwed.

Re:Is this article some kind of a joke? (1)

NicBenjamin (2124018) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204155)

I've just realized this whole conversation is based on a total BS assumption.

The Yes Men were not being monitored by the government. They were being monitored by Dow and Union Carbide, aka: the people on the legal hook for killing thousands at Bhopal. This is proving by clicking on the link in the article, and noticing none of the Bhopal mails were sent to a .gov address. They all went to those folks from Dow or Union Carbide, or private email addresses.

So people, especially me, have been talking out their asses. As was the original article.

Thank you Chuck Chunder, for pointing this out.

Re:Is this article some kind of a joke? (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204047)

BBC Monitoring employs humans to translate foreign news articles. Knowing what newspapers around the world are saying about political stuff can be useful.

Re:Is this article some kind of a joke? (4, Insightful)

The_Wilschon (782534) | more than 2 years ago | (#39203523)

Well, the article appears to be stating the exact opposite of what you have just asserted, to wit, that the US government IS paying private companies to "spy" on activists. Either you or the article must be wrong, since you are making incompatible assertions. Unfortunately, I have neither the time nor the patience to go through the documents in question on wikileaks in order to determine whether the article's depiction of affairs is accurate, based on those documents (and the presumption that they are themselves reliable).

It doesn't take much research (4, Informative)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | more than 2 years ago | (#39203657)

. The article states:

In one example, emails reveal that Stratfor had been tracking the political performance art collective The Yes Men, a group famous for impersonating politicians and corporate representatives in order to showcase the absurdity and corruption present within powerful institutions. But “tracking” in this case merely involved selling the government a list of public appearances planned by the group’s members.

but the very page they link to [wikileaks.org] in that quote has the "Yes Men Monitoring" related emails being sent to:

mkolleth@dow.com, sbwheeler@dow.com, tomm_sprick@yahoo.com, mediarelations@unioncarbide.com, CMKnochel@dow.com

none of which suggest that they are "selling the government" this information.

Re:It doesn't take much research (1)

NicBenjamin (2124018) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204167)

Mod this up to five somebody.

Most of the posts on this thread have been total BS because nobody bothered to click that link and find out this research was paid for not by Uncle Sam, byut by Dow and it's subsidiary Union Carbide.

Re:Is this article some kind of a joke? (0)

Ziekheid (1427027) | more than 2 years ago | (#39203601)

2 words: Patriot Act.

Re:Is this article some kind of a joke? (2, Interesting)

Catbeller (118204) | more than 2 years ago | (#39203793)

What utter nonsense. The US government has been hiring "private" companies to do what they themselves are forbidden to do. Among other things, especially for spying on Americans.

Team Themis were all gov't contractors (5, Interesting)

decora (1710862) | more than 2 years ago | (#39203919)

The three companies that made up 'Team Themis', the team planned to help Bank of America respond to a never-completed wikileaks dump of BoA data, by character-assassinating journalists and 'activists', were all govt contractors.

Berico Technologies - owned by ex-military, run by ex-military, major customer = us government.

Palantir Technologies - makes software to help aggregate data about people, us govt contractor

HB Gary - this is the one that Anonymous hacked and dumped the data on. they were a us govt contractor, and they routinely spied on all kinds of groups.

---

does that prove that the govt is paying companies to spy on citizens? no. its just that dozens of companies whose main purpose and expertise is to spy on people, and who are staffed by people who spent their entire military career spying on people, just so happen to be receiving billions and billions of dollars from the government to do various jobs that we are not allowed to know about, because of 'national security'.

now, then, of course, there is the long relationship between the US govt and private companies, and spying, going back to World War I, and then later on the ITT corporation, Western Union, and so forth. Then there was AT&T in more recent years, as well as the major phone network companies, who agreed to cooperate with NSA without caring about the law, except for QWest.

then there are the 'fusion centers'. should i go on?

Re: Team Themis were all gov't contractors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39204419)

HB Gary - this is the one that Anonymous hacked and dumped the data on. they were a us govt contractor, and they routinely spied on all kinds of groups.

You, Sir, are an idiot. Try actually reading some of the leaked emails.

HBGary Federal was a four person company. It was essentially an attempt to make money by obtaining government contracts to non-classified government RFPs. Yes, non-classified, 100% available on the internet Requests for Proposals. Basically, the Government says, We have problem X, pitch us a way to solve it. HBGary Federal did that with a bunch of sleezy proposals... none of which the government ever accepted. For all the Anonymous hype, HBGary Federal was just another company looking to cash in on the US Government contracting game, and never succeeding. That is correct, HBGary Federal never won any Federal contracts and never made any money from the US Government, which is why the "congressional inquiry" went absolutely nowhere. If you look at the emails you will find many dealing with the impending death of the company due to lack of funding. Seriously, look through the emails. All you find is a bunch of "hey, we could make this bad ass rootkit" or "yo, we could totally bring down wikileaks for you" proposals, never any actual work being done.

Total scam company.

Re:Is this article some kind of a joke? (1)

Brannoncyll (894648) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204357)

the Intelligence Community is not authorized to collect on US Persons, except where allowed by law or authorized by a properly adjudicated warrant from a court of law. I know people on Slashdot don't like to believe this, and prefer to imagine that the sole purpose of the Intelligence Community is spying on our own citizens instead of, you know, doing the jobs they've been charged to do.

If that is the case, then how do you explain this [eff.org] or this [nytimes.com] or this [aclu.org] . Sorry buddy, but you have to get your head out of the sand.

Re:Is this article some kind of a joke? (1)

deaddeng (63515) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204407)

This story cracks me up. STRATFOR is a joke (example-- 10 years ago the founder predicted the US would fight its next war against JAPAN). The fact that Wikileaks thinks that publishing emails stolen by Anon. is a blow for freedom confirms that Wikileaks is a bigger joke than Stratfor, striving to seem relevant while Julian A. awaits trial for rape. This story is like the Weekly World News unmasking the dark plots of Amway, and the fact that /. published a complete garble of Stratfor as a US government intelligence agency just makes /. look equally stupid.

For a great article on this mess:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/02/stratfor-is-a-joke-and-so-is-wikileaks-for-taking-it-seriously/253681/ [theatlantic.com]

McCarthy (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39203429)

McCarthy never did anything involving citizens, use of his name here is a smear. He sought spies in the State Department.

You all are confusing the HUAC Hhouse Un-American Activities Committee with McCarthy. HUAC kept calling citizens communists. McCarthy was in the Senate, not the house.

Re:McCarthy (5, Informative)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#39203571)

Summary writer probably meant "McCarthyism," Which is (and has been for quite some time) the accepted term for "the practice of making accusations of disloyalty, subversion, or treason without proper regard for evidence." [wikipedia.org]

Also, you're dead wrong in your statement that

McCarthy never did anything involving citizens

Unless, of course, you believe taking a position in the U.S. State Department involves surrendering citizenship (Hint: it doesn't).

Re:McCarthy (1)

Daetrin (576516) | more than 2 years ago | (#39203811)

Wow, two "Score: 2, Troll" comments, the defenders of McCarthy are out in force today! ...which seems kind of ironic or something.

Re:McCarthy (3, Informative)

Daetrin (576516) | more than 2 years ago | (#39203589)

It's called McCarthyism [wikipedia.org] for a reason. When you're the most famous and prominent person pushing a particular agenda then there's a serious possibility that the whole movement is going to become identified with you and vice versa. It doesn't really matter now which groups of people were on McCarthy's particular list, he popularized the whole "i've got a list of the bad people" thing.

(Well okay, maybe he needs to split that particular honor with Santa Claus.)

Surprising? (3, Insightful)

sbates (1832606) | more than 2 years ago | (#39203437)

It's only surprising if you believe Hollywood hype. The halls of the White House are not bristling with people hell-bent on preventing the next disaster. Life is extraordinarily mundane. The majority of the people in government are moving pages and pages of some of the most sleep-inducing content available. I'm far more apt to believe Tom Clancy's novels depicting CIA, FBI etc getting their intelligence from CNN.

Re:Surprising? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39203519)

>I'm far more apt to believe Tom Clancy's novels depicting CIA, FBI etc getting their intelligence from CNN.

Al Jazeera and BBC.

Re:Surprising? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39203547)

I used to think of doctors as nearly infallible. Then I graduated college and realized that they, and every other human being on this planet, are just human beings. It amazes me that anything we, as a society, builds actually works. The problem with someone believing there are all these agencies out to get them is that they credit your fellow human beings too much. These agencies are not nearly as organized or capable as we give them credit for. You want to know how Rlatko Mladic, the Serbian war criminal, was caught? Some woman in the CIA asked one of his former associates, "so uh, you don't happen to know where he is, do you? I know your child is ill, and I could help get them into the States for medical treatment." That's not particularly high-tech, nor does it take much coordination, discipline, or creativity.

Re:Surprising? (2)

Sique (173459) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204051)

This doesn't connect very well with the reports about Ratko Mladic's arrest I've read.
As far as I know, the local secret police of Lazarevo in the Vojvodina was arresting Ratko Mladic. While it was long suspected that enough officials in Serbia knew about his whereabouts, but some attempts to arrest him were thwarted by doing nothing or the information about a planned arrest being leaked to Ratko Mladic's environment.

Re:Surprising? (4, Interesting)

Dodgy G33za (1669772) | more than 2 years ago | (#39203549)

I have worked in government circles for years now, and by far the majority of people in public service are time servers whose focus is not their jobs, but rather their lives. The focus is far more on complying with policy than with outcomes, and delivering "something", whether or not that something ends up being of any use to anyone.

Those is public service who are ambitious tend not to focus on the particular job at hand, but instead charting a path up the greasy pole.

All in all the resemblance to a feudal court is uncanny. The peasants do the work under sufferance, the lords fight amongst each other, and any progress that is made is down to a few people with drive, or not at all.

Actually come to think about it the private sector isn't THAT different, it is just that times have moved on and the Landed Gentry are quite happy to enact Acts of Enclosure and evict the peasants if sheep farming turns out more profitable with less headcount.

Re:Surprising? (1)

Johann Lau (1040920) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204363)

The focus is far more on complying with policy than with outcomes [..] Actually come to think about it the private sector isn't THAT different, it is just that times have moved on and the Landed Gentry are quite happy to enact Acts of Enclosure and evict the peasants if sheep farming turns out more profitable with less headcount.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aVOXYMUW4qo [youtube.com]

oh great idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39203439)

You are going to go after people who LIKE to find people like that and make them give up information?

"good luck with that"...

This also comes to mind...
http://xkcd.com/538/ [xkcd.com]

The start of the Revolution. (4, Insightful)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 2 years ago | (#39203443)

And so many people thought the rebellion would be started by traditional heroes - macho men with guns and explosives.

Instead, it's up to a bunch of unethical misbegotten nerds from 4Chan to save the day.

Re:The start of the Revolution. (0)

Sez Zero (586611) | more than 2 years ago | (#39203493)

"... and the geek shall inherit the Earth..."

Re:The start of the Revolution. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39204523)

"... and the geek shall inherit the scorched Earth..."

FTFY

Re:The start of the Revolution. (5, Interesting)

kangsterizer (1698322) | more than 2 years ago | (#39203501)

I don't know about you, but I trust them more than our politicians - truthfully. Says enough.

pulling on superman's cape (1)

lophophore (4087) | more than 2 years ago | (#39203461)

Poking at the "U.S. Intelligence Community" as smart as pulling on Superman's cape or giving Batman a wedgie.

Anonymous? Guy Fawkes masks. CIA/FBI/No Such Agency -- a near-unending supply of money, guns, badges, warrants, subpoenas, and black bag jobs -- and that's just for the U.S. citizens IN THIS COUNTRY.

You in another country? How about a little extraordinary rendition and an all expense paid trip to a black prison?

Just today, here on /. -- "25 Alleged Anonymous Hackers Arrested By Interpol".

Jabbing a hornet's nest with a short stick is not smart. Not smart at all.

Re:pulling on superman's cape (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39203481)

More like pulling Hitler's coat tails...

Re:pulling on superman's cape (1)

Johann Lau (1040920) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204391)

The only coat tails worth pulling, lest you throw your life away riding them.

Re:pulling on superman's cape (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39203525)

um.. all they gotta do is say you are a terrorist and its off to some prison indefinitely

You're a dumbass (1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39203541)

You're a complete and utter dumbass if you believe that US foreign intelligence agencies' primary purpose is going after US citizens.

Hint: the CIA and NSA, and every other component of the Intelligence Community, DO NOT COLLECT ON US PERSONS unless specifically and explicitly allowed by law or executive order. And even then, even with all of the confusion with the Bush wiretapping order under the AUMF — which, by the way, has NOT been declared "illegal" by any court, and even when in full force targeted very few persons within the US, i.e., in the hundreds — targeting of US Persons REQUIRES A WARRANT. Doing ANYTHING with regard to US Persons is also a vanishingly small part of what the IC does. The vast majority of our intelligence apparatus is looking outward — that's the fucking point.

To the extent it looks inward, it does so with very explicit and clear legal controls with respect to US Persons, and armies of lawyers approving and advising on any questionable action. If you actually worked in the Intelligence Community and saw how things worked, especially with respect to US Persons, you'd want to kill yourself for being such a fucking low-rent moron. No, literally: you'd wonder how you could have believed this bullshit for all of those years when the IC in fact isn't the evil beast you believe it to be. Yes, it's a giant bureaucracy and like any other features its own share of maddening inefficiencies, turf wars, and idiots. It got on the post-9/11 gravy train like everything else related to national security. But it's not what you think it is. The funny thing is that if you actually cared, you can easily learn this in an unclassified context.

Of course, this is slashdot, and everyone believes there is a secret cabal trying to "keep down the common man" and that the IC's near-sole purpose is spying on US citizens, so no surprises seeing this kind of mental vomit spewed on my screen.

Re:You're a dumbass (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39203743)

Hint: the CIA and NSA, and every other component of the Intelligence Community, DO NOT COLLECT ON US PERSONS unless specifically and explicitly allowed by law or executive order.

Does that include the illegal wiretaps that keep getting mentioned?

Re:You're a dumbass (0)

Johann Lau (1040920) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204379)

Of course, this is slashdot, and everyone believes there is a secret cabal trying to "keep down the common man"

Yeah, and? You're not that bright, are you?

Re:pulling on superman's cape (1)

uhuru_meditation (2573595) | more than 2 years ago | (#39203579)

Even South Park film proclaimed: " We have no intelligence!" ...and it is a fact. Bigger the system - bigger the failure...

Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39203471)

Vice magazine writing now merits the front page of /.?

The lack of government intellegence (3, Insightful)

mrquagmire (2326560) | more than 2 years ago | (#39203499)

...became painfully obvious after the 9/11 attacks and subsequent "WMDs" in Iraq. I could honestly not believe how much our government didn't know about what was going on in our own country, let alone the rest of the world.

Re:The lack of government intellegence (4, Interesting)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 2 years ago | (#39203791)

The fact that I can't believe we're equating Stratfor with the entire Intelligence Community aside...perhaps an examination of the Iraq WMD situation is in order.

There is no truth. There is only perception. — Gustave Flaubert

The motto of CIA's National Clandestine Service is the Latin Veritatem Cognoscere: Know the truth. It's no wonder that so many believe the function of intelligence services is to discover the "truth".

Mark Lowenthal spends time explaining that intelligence is not about truth at all, but rather about arriving at some informed conclusion about reality, or possible future realities, neither of which can be considered strictly to be "truth".

"Intelligence is not about truth. If something were known to be true, states would not need intelligence agencies to collect the information or analyze it. Truth is such an absolute term that it sets a standard that intelligence rarely would be able to achieve. It is better — and more accurate — to think of intelligence as proximate reality. Intelligence agencies face issues or questions and do their best to arrive at a firm understanding of what is going on. They can rarely be assured that even their best and most considered analysis is true. Their goals are intelligence products that are reliable, unbiased, and honest (that is, free from politicization). These are all laudable goals, yet they are still different from truth." (Lowenthal 2009)

Perhaps the biggest issue with "truth" in intelligence work is the absolute nature of "truth". If it is an analyst's job to find the "truth", then any deviation from that analysis by actual events means that the analysis was a "lie".

"Is intelligence truth-telling? One of the common descriptions of intelligence is that it is the job of 'telling truth to power'. (This sounds fairly noble, although it is important to recall that court jesters once had the same function.) Intelligence, however, is not about truth. (If something is known to be true then we do not need intelligence services to find it out.) Yet the image persists and carries with it some important ethical implications. If truth were the objective of intelligence, does that raise the stakes for analysis? [...] A problem with setting truth as a goal is that it has a relentless quality. [...if] an analyst's goal is to tell the truth — especially to those in power who might not want to hear it — then there is no room for compromise, no possible admission of alternative views." (Lowenthal 2009)

This creates an environment where success is impossible, because discovering "truth" by every measure is a standard that can never be reached. It also discourages differing analytic viewpoints, each of which may be equally valid. Ultimately, someone needs to look at the available information and make a decision:

"[T]he role of intelligence is not to tell the truth but to provide informed analysis to policy makers to aid their decision making." (Lowenthal 2009)

The greatest enemy of any one of our truths may be the rest of our truths. — William James

Clark (2010) takes a different approach, likening analysis to legal wrangling in a courtroom, where the truth is discovered by the back-and-forth of the adversarial process. Like truth itself, defining the barriers to finding it can be just as subjective. Clark highlights three important facets which must be ascertained before ultimately arriving at the "truth":

Is it the truth? — Is the information in question a fact, or an opinion? Does it conflict with other information? Or does other information support the same conclusion? All-source analysis can help confirm information that is collected via one discipline, helping to establish a hypothesis as fact.

Is it the whole truth? — The reliability of the source, whether technical or human, must be critically considered. Is the information incomplete? A lie of omission, or significant missing information, can erase whatever "truth" is being supported by a particular line of analysis. As Clark notes, "an incomplete picture can mislead as much as an outright lie."

Is it nothing but the truth? — Where the last question asks whether all of the relevant information is being considered, this asks whether all of the information being considered is relevant. It is important to not to jump to conclusions based on information that may not be related to the question at hand.

Synthesizing information into some measure of "truth" needs to consider all of the above. What, then, happened to the "truth" in the case of a famous so-called "intelligence failure", that of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction? The intelligence components of the US, Russia, France, Germany, and the UN as a whole believed Iraq to be in continuing possession of WMD (Russert 2004):

MR. RUSSERT: When you look at the CIA information on the weapons of mass destruction, former President Clinton said Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, as well as current President Bush. The U.N. inspectors. The Russian, French and German intelligence agencies said he had weapons of mass destruction. What happened? How could there have been such a colossal intelligence failure?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, maybe because what we were all looking at was a body of evidence that gave you every reason to believe that he did have weapons of mass destruction. He had the intention. He used them. He stiffed the U.N. for 12 years. He had the infrastructure. He had the capability. The only thing we haven't been able to find are actual current stockpiles of such weapons. Everything else was there. Everything else was there with respect to capability and intention. And any reasonable person looking at this regime, looking at the threat inherent in that intention and capability would have come to the conclusion based on unanswered questions. (Russert 2004)

The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth. — Niels Bohr

So, what was the truth? In this case, the truth, as established prior to 2003, is that Saddam Hussein had the intent and capability to possess WMD. Without physically discovering WMD themselves, all information, history, and evidence — even when viewed in the context of contradictory evidence — indicated that Saddam Hussein had WMD.

The US, UK, Germany, France, the UN proper, and Iraq itself believed Iraq to be in continuing possession of WMD after 1998. Why would this have changed with none of the required UN oversight between 1998 and 2003? There were hundreds of tons of WMD unaccounted for. Even if much of it was expected to become inert by such time, it was still unreported and unaccounted for, and Iraq was shown by the collective body of the UN Security Council to be in material breach of numerous provisions of binding UNSEC resolutions, notably 678 and 687, and the later 1441. Any one of these allowed UN member nations to act with force. There was nothing "illegal" here. (By the way: just in case anyone is thinking, "What about all of those resolutions on Israel?" Those are General Assembly resolutions, and have no teeth whatsoever under the UN Charter — only UN Security Council resolutions carry the threat of force.)

Unfortunately, the most important aspect — namely, Iraq actually having WMD — ended up being absent. When the policy of containment with regard to Iraq changed to a more aggressive posture after 9/11, the truth pointed to Iraqi possession of WMD. This enabled policymakers to push forward with a policy to remove Saddam from power. That's the simple fact, whether you want to believe it or not (or, as some wish to do, rewrite history). This has nothing to do with whether I, you, or anyone else believes invading Iraq was a good idea — that's a separate discussion.

After the invasion, only then did we discover that the US analysis was almost all wrong. But was the analysis in fact wrong? This is remembered by many, incorrectly, as an example of "politicized intelligence". In fact, it is simply an illustration of how intelligence is not about truth, but rather is a vehicle to inform the decisions of policy makers.

Intelligence exists solely to support policy makers. (Lowenthal 2009) Most policy makers are politicians. This does not mean that intelligence itself is politicized, only that it is, necessarily, serving a political master.

The truth will set you free — but first it will make you angry! — Anonymous

Clark, R. 2010. Intelligence analysis: a target-centric approach. Washington, DC: CQ Press.
Lowenthal, M. 2009. Intelligence: From Secrets to Policy. Washington, DC: CQ Press.
Russert, Tim. 2004. Meet the Press: Transcript for June 13. NBC News, June 13. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/ID/5202007/ [msn.com]

Re:The lack of government intellegence (1)

DamnStupidElf (649844) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204459)

After the invasion, only then did we discover that the US analysis was almost all wrong. But was the analysis in fact wrong?

How else can you judge analysis except against reality? Maybe on proper penmanship? Israel has WMD. Britain has WMD. China has WMD. Pakistan has WMD. Why on Earth would any sensible analysis of WMD lead anyone to invade Iraq instead of one of those other countries?

Here's my analysis for you: invest all your money in SCOX. I hear they've got Copyrights of Mass Destruction with which they'll bring down IBM.

WMD fiasco was not due to lack of intelligence.... (3, Interesting)

Radical Moderate (563286) | more than 2 years ago | (#39203837)

but rather lack of integrity. The US intelligence wouldn't give Cheney & friends an excuse to invade Iraq, so they created a new intel unit [wikipedia.org] that somehow found all kinds of WMD-related intel...which, surprise, surprise, turned out to be bogus.

Re:WMD fiasco was not due to lack of intelligence. (1)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 2 years ago | (#39203907)

...except that this office wasn't needed to make the case on Iraqi WMD. Intelligence analysis doesn't always equal reality. I explain this in great detail here [slashdot.org] .

Forget about your own political leanings or personal biases. Without intelligence that was questionable or even potentially "manipulated" (a strong charge which requires strong evidence), the case for Iraqi WMD was still strong.

Further, the US and its partners discovered 700,000 tons of non-WMD UN-banned weapons when we invaded. Iraq was in violation of not one, not two, but THREE binding and in-force UN Security council resolutions, any one of which allowed for the use of force with no further justification.

Don't mistake my comment for making the claim that invading Iraq was/wasn't a good idea: just focus on what I'm saying, and don't read into it.

Re:WMD fiasco was not due to lack of intelligence. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39204285)

Aw, that's lovely. And those WMD - where are they now? Right, they didn't exist...

Re:WMD fiasco was not due to lack of intelligence. (1)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204337)

Wow, great job reading and interpreting my comment!

(Not.)

Re:WMD fiasco was not due to lack of intelligence. (3, Insightful)

GSloop (165220) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204491)

Further, the US and its partners discovered 700,000 tons of non-WMD UN-banned weapons when we invaded. Iraq was in violation of not one, not two, but THREE binding and in-force UN Security council resolutions, any one of which allowed for the use of force with no further justification.

Citation needed.

Re:The lack of government intellegence (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 2 years ago | (#39203971)

I could honestly not believe how much our government didn't know about what was going on in our own country, let alone the rest of the world.

An honest assessment of history shows that the CIA is almost always wrong. The President could have a coin minted that said 'Intelligence' and flip it and do better.

If you believe their intelligence units are their reason for being, then you need to ask why they're constant re-authorized. Or, perhaps, understand that the question assumes a false basis.

Re:The lack of government intellegence (1)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204053)

There's a saying in Washington, first articulated by Thomas Fingar:

  "I learned something a long time ago in this town. There are only two possibilities: policy success and intelligence failure."

If we're going to be "honest" about it, the fact is that you can say that "the CIA is almost always wrong" is because the public generally only sees the failures, and almost never the successes.

Don't poke the sleeping dog (1)

RyoShin (610051) | more than 2 years ago | (#39203543)

Okay, so let's raise some ire over this. The government responds. They do so in one of two ways:

1) Fire Stratfor, which closes and reopens under another moniker (I hear "Blackwater" is available these days), then hire "new" company at a lesser amount. (Or, if the right two people are pals, a higher amount.)

2) Fire Stratfor, use the money to hire a competent intelligence firm.

I think in this case we can all bitch and moan about government limpness, but should go no further. Considering the current crop of morons in power in all branches and levels, it's highly unlikely for someone to go "maybe we shouldn't hire external private firms and instead put money into doing real intelligence with our own intelligence agencies". If the article's description of Stratfor holds for other companies they hired, I'd rather let incompetence feed incompetence at this point and focus more on election reform.

My money (1)

amightywind (691887) | more than 2 years ago | (#39203709)

My money is on the US intelligence community. I wonder how long before Wikileaks or Anonymous members, umm, disappear? Their's are acts of war after all.

Are they spying too much or too little? (1)

guanxi (216397) | more than 2 years ago | (#39203749)

I don't understand the complaint. First pigrabbitbear complains that they are spying on private citizens, groups, etc.

But when the article says they are not spying, but only compiling publicly available information, pigrabbitbear complains that they are spying too little.

Which is it? Isn't the latter what privacy advocates would want? The author of the article complains about the cost, but doesn't say how much the government paid.

And why do I trust or care what an "Electronic musician and computer culture journalist." posts to a site called vice.com? This post is a lot of noise and confusion based on nothing; one rant based on another.

They must not be a threat (1)

mwfischer (1919758) | more than 2 years ago | (#39203773)

Call me cynical, but the US government must not consider them a big threat.

Assange is still alive and wikileaks people aren't found face down in rivers.... yet.

Just saying.

yawn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39203821)

silly nosepickers

Newsflash (2, Interesting)

crow_t_robot (528562) | more than 2 years ago | (#39203829)

Newsflash, dickbags:
US intelligence services have ALWAYS been fucking awful. I don't care how many Jason Bourne movies you have watched, US intel has been shit since the day it started as the OSS. Please take the time to read the book, Legacy Of Ashes and you can begin to see what a clownshow US intelligence services have been for the past 60+ years.

Love,
Crow

Re:Newsflash (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204205)

Maybe. Or maybe they have their own agenda.

Example: I remember back when India tested its first nuclear device. Supposedly, the CIA was caught off guard. Even when The Economist [economist.com] called it right.

So the CIA is staffed by a bunch of morons, right? Maybe not. Perhaps they have an interest in the proliferation of nukes in that region. Both India and Pakistan have them now. They managed to acquire them with nothing like the screaming and crying that Iran's development program is causing. That was a major failure of US foreign policy. But it may have suited the CIA's interests very well.

Any time you look at something the size of the US government or large corporations, you can't assume that they act towards one goal. Individual internal groups have their own agendas and may frequently work against each other. For all we know, all of this Wikileaks/Anonymous crap could have been engineered by some people to make current regimes inside the Pentagon, CIA and State Department look like fools.

Re:Newsflash (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39204441)

Sure it may have taken 10 years to find osama but we managed to take out every libyan aa site in a matter of days. How do you think we knew where they are? There is more then one type of intell fyi

Lack of bombshell (1)

tomhath (637240) | more than 2 years ago | (#39203901)

What I get out of the article is that Anonymous' huge stash of documents amounts to a big nothing. What did they find? It seems the good stuff is beyond the reach of a few script kiddies; imagine that.

Client vs Subscriber (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39203981)

Clearly the author doesn't know or care about the difference between some person with a .gov email being a subscriber to the same stuff Stratfor sells to everybody else on its mailing list, and some agency with Cogressional funds contracting with Stratfor to do something exclusive. If it were the latter, it would be COTS intel. That's what the idiots at Wikileaks and Anonymous wish were the case, because it would elevate the status of their hacks to "trade craft" when in fact they are legal kiddies. The whole of Anonymous and Wikileaks probably cannot spare one fully qualified attorney between them. This isn't diligence, this is spam.

Bah (1)

M0j0_j0j0 (1250800) | more than 2 years ago | (#39203997)

Read the cables, this guys , they use wikipedia as an intel source...... they seem to just have a bunch of theories , not access to the real situation, they are more likely acting as a PR firm.

Low even for slashdot (1)

Alimony Pakhdan (1855364) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204095)

Vice as a source? Really?

People Should Read these emails before commenting (4, Interesting)

NicBenjamin (2124018) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204175)

Because this article is silly.

Let's leave aside the fact that the article's thesis is self-contradictory (either government is spying too much, or not enough), the simple fact is that the emails linked to have nothing to do with any government. They're work Stratfor did for Union Carbide and Dow Chemical. We know this because if you go to the link the to: addresses do not end in .gov. They are to unioncarbide.com, dow.com, tomm_sprick@yahoo.com, stratfor.com, and some Canadian website.

Stratfor does intelligence for private companies and the government. This means that, while some of their work may have something to do with public policy, most of it doesn't. In this case it's pretty clear what happened:

The CEO of Dow (which owns Union-Carbide), noticed the Yes-Men and said "somebody should keep an eye on them." His buddy/trusted subordinate said "What's the budget? I think I know a company?" And since then Stratfor has been raking in the dough for sitting on their asses browsing the website.

There's no governmental violation of the Yes Men's privacy rights because the government isn't involved. There's no waste of public funds because no public funds are being spent.

This kind of confusion is probably actually what WikiLeaks was looking for. They are too lazy to find actual government waste (and if it was easy to do so the pols in DC would have done it already, and then had a Press Conference crowing about it), so they find an organization that other lazy people will assume is part of the government, and release documents proving it's kind of silly. *poof* millions of people too lazy to click the link will assume Wikileaks has helped them ferret out government corruption.

This could be very dangerous (1)

superwiz (655733) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204479)

Since anonymous is, at least according to the common understanding, anonymous, it may have US members. If US citizens collaborate with anyone in targeting US intelligence community, they would be guilty of bona fide treason.

This opens the room for targeting Wikileaks in the way that the Manning leak did not. The Manning leak made Bradley Manning a traitor but allowed Wikileaks to remain journalists. If Wikileaks participates in targeting of the US intelligence, then they won't be receiving information after the fact.

They'll be assisting US citizens in committing treason. This makes them possibly chargeable as collaborators with traitors and possibly simply targetable as enemies of the US. Retaliating against attacks on military installations is generally considered a legitimate use of military forces. At that point Assange can be simply abducted out of any location in the world or even killed on the spot without violation of any US laws.

I do hope Wikileaks doesn't do anything this dumb. It would undermine the status of all journalists as illegitimate targets for the US armed forces. This line between targeted-for-publishing-leaks and targeted-for-attacking-armed-forces would cease to exist in 1 person and it would be of questionable legality after that.

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