Sen. Chelsea Manning? To even think about rewarding this …

Chelsea Manning who was sentenced to 35 years in prison after being convicted on charges of espionage, theft and fraud in 2013 has filed to run for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate in Maryland, announcing her run in a video this week. Let that sink in for a moment.

The former soldier known as Bradley Manning before coming out as transgender was released from a military prison after President Obama commuted her sentence late last year in the final days of his term.

Like me, you were probably shocked to find out that a felony conviction let alone one for betraying your country does not disqualify you from serving in the Senate. And while Mannings chances of defeating popular Sen. Ben Cardin in the Democratic primary this year are extraordinarily slim, the very fact that this reprehensible backstabber can even perpetrate this farce is shameful.

To refresh your memory, Manning leaked around 750,000 classified and sensitive documents to WikiLeaks, which placed them on the internet. Authorities said this was the largest leak of classified documents in American history. Even thinking about rewarding this criminal with a Senate seat is beyond absurd.

All Manning would have to do is swear another meaningless oath and promise to obey it this time to once again gain access to our national security secrets, which she could leak again if she wished. That should fill you with confidence.

The sheer volume of documents ensured there was no way Manning could have reviewed them in any meaningful way. Manning basically provided randomly chosen pieces of our national secrets to all of our enemies. Operations were compromised and partners in Iraq and Afghanistan were identified and put at risk.

Manning claimed to have acted to expose U.S. war crimes. But even after exhaustive examination of all of the information she released, not a single war crime was identified. So in the end this was a selfish act by a childish individual who put her own petty grievances above the safety and security of the entire country and endangered the lives of honorably serving members of the U.S. military.

Now we have the spectacle of Chelsea Manning for Senate. While getting elected would be the longest of long shots, lets think about the unlikely event that Manning beats the odds and actually becomes a senator.

Should that come to pass, the worlds greatest deliberative body, as the Senate likes to call itself, would seat a felon who purposely violated the oath of enlistment in the U.S. Army and betrayed America and fellow soldiers.

Whats important to note is that senators are not required to obtain a security clearance to gain access to classified government material. Former Army Pvt. Manning could never regain a security clearance after being convicted of espionage. But Sen. Manning would automatically be allowed to examine classified material by virtue of having been elected by the public to an office requiring this access.

Hey, what could possibly go wrong?

All Manning would have to do is swear another meaningless oath and promise to obey it this time to once again gain access to our national security secrets, which she could leak again if she wished. That should fill you with confidence.

It could even come to pass that this person who put our intelligence agencies and American lives at risk could serve on a committee providing oversight on the same agencies whose information she sent flying into the digital breeze. Just having to think through all of this is making my head ache and my stomach churn.

It will be very interesting to see how much support this #Resistance heroine, who has been very noisy in opposition to President Trump, can gain from the left. It is one thing to cheer on a somewhat comical protestor whose emoji addiction on Twitter leans heavily on rainbows and unicorns. Its quite another to actually support an alumnus of the federal prison at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas for a job requiring the trust of the public.

Regardless of the outcome, we now have been forced to at least contemplate this senseless possibility. That is a sad commentary on the state of our political system, and we are all lowered by it.

Jim Hanson is President of Security Studies Group and served in US Army Special Forces.

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Sen. Chelsea Manning? To even think about rewarding this …

Linda Sarsour endorses Chelsea Manning for U.S. Senate …

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Shes with [Insert your preferred pronoun here]!

The traitor formerly known as Bradley Manning announced their candidacy for United States Senate in Maryland Monday and the former Army private has already lined up a key endorsement of sorts, none other than anti-Israel activist and pink-hat-wearing-angry-woman-march organizer Linda Sarsour:

Manning served a little over seven years (including time served during investigation and trial) of a 35-year sentence in Leavenworth for espionage and theft of over 700,000 military includingbattlefield videos and diplomatic cables from classified computer accounts. (This was back when the The Swamp took classified diplomatic documents seriously and didnt reward the breach of these state secrets with a nomination for president.)

During the trial Manning came out as a transgender individual and proclaimed himself to be Chelsea. In his final days as president, Barack Obama commuted Mannings remaining sentence.

Recently, Manning has used Twitter to deliver wildly popular left-wing sentiments like F*** the police and Taxation is sharing.

So, in short, the transgender thief, spy, traitor who hates the police and wants more and higher taxation just got endorsed by a virulent anti_Israel terror sympathizer.

No wonder shes running as a Democrat.

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Linda Sarsour endorses Chelsea Manning for U.S. Senate …

National Security Agency – Wikipedia

National Security Agency

Seal of the National Security Agency

Flag of the National Security Agency

The National Security Agency (NSA) is a national-level intelligence agency of the United States Department of Defense, under the authority of the Director of National Intelligence. The NSA is responsible for global monitoring, collection, and processing of information and data for foreign intelligence and counterintelligence purposes, specializing in a discipline known as signals intelligence (SIGINT). The NSA is also tasked with the protection of U.S. communications networks and information systems.[8][9] The NSA relies on a variety of measures to accomplish its mission, the majority of which are clandestine.[10]

Originating as a unit to decipher coded communications in World War II, it was officially formed as the NSA by President Harry S. Truman in 1952. Since then, it has become one of the largest U.S. intelligence organizations in terms of personnel and budget.[6][11] The NSA currently conducts worldwide mass data collection and has been known to physically bug electronic systems as one method to this end.[12] The NSA has also been alleged to have been behind such attack software as Stuxnet, which severely damaged Iran’s nuclear program.[13][14] The NSA, alongside the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), maintains a physical presence in many countries across the globe; the CIA/NSA joint Special Collection Service (a highly classified intelligence team) inserts eavesdropping devices in high value targets (such as Presidential palaces or embassies). SCS collection tactics allegedly encompass “close surveillance, burglary, wiretapping, [and] breaking and entering”.[15][16]

Unlike the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), both of which specialize primarily in foreign human espionage, the NSA does not publicly conduct human-source intelligence gathering. The NSA is entrusted with providing assistance to, and the coordination of, SIGINT elements for other government organizations – which are prevented by law from engaging in such activities on their own.[17] As part of these responsibilities, the agency has a co-located organization called the Central Security Service (CSS), which facilitates cooperation between the NSA and other U.S. defense cryptanalysis components. To further ensure streamlined communication between the signals intelligence community divisions, the NSA Director simultaneously serves as the Commander of the United States Cyber Command and as Chief of the Central Security Service.

The NSA’s actions have been a matter of political controversy on several occasions, including its spying on anti-Vietnam-war leaders and the agency’s participation in economic espionage. In 2013, the NSA had many of its secret surveillance programs revealed to the public by Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor. According to the leaked documents, the NSA intercepts and stores the communications of over a billion people worldwide, including United States citizens. The documents also revealed the NSA tracks hundreds of millions of people’s movements using cellphones metadata. Internationally, research has pointed to the NSA’s ability to surveil the domestic Internet traffic of foreign countries through “boomerang routing”.[18]

The origins of the National Security Agency can be traced back to April 28, 1917, three weeks after the U.S. Congress declared war on Germany in World War I. A code and cipher decryption unit was established as the Cable and Telegraph Section which was also known as the Cipher Bureau. It was headquartered in Washington, D.C. and was part of the war effort under the executive branch without direct Congressional authorization. During the course of the war it was relocated in the army’s organizational chart several times. On July 5, 1917, Herbert O. Yardley was assigned to head the unit. At that point, the unit consisted of Yardley and two civilian clerks. It absorbed the navy’s Cryptanalysis functions in July 1918. World War I ended on November 11, 1918, and the army cryptographic section of Military Intelligence (MI-8) moved to New York City on May 20, 1919, where it continued intelligence activities as the Code Compilation Company under the direction of Yardley.[19][20]

After the disbandment of the U.S. Army cryptographic section of military intelligence, known as MI-8, in 1919, the U.S. government created the Cipher Bureau, also known as Black Chamber. The Black Chamber was the United States’ first peacetime cryptanalytic organization.[21] Jointly funded by the Army and the State Department, the Cipher Bureau was disguised as a New York City commercial code company; it actually produced and sold such codes for business use. Its true mission, however, was to break the communications (chiefly diplomatic) of other nations. Its most notable known success was at the Washington Naval Conference, during which it aided American negotiators considerably by providing them with the decrypted traffic of many of the conference delegations, most notably the Japanese. The Black Chamber successfully persuaded Western Union, the largest U.S. telegram company at the time, as well as several other communications companies to illegally give the Black Chamber access to cable traffic of foreign embassies and consulates.[22] Soon, these companies publicly discontinued their collaboration.

Despite the Chamber’s initial successes, it was shut down in 1929 by U.S. Secretary of State Henry L. Stimson, who defended his decision by stating, “Gentlemen do not read each other’s mail”.[23]

During World War II, the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) was created to intercept and decipher the communications of the Axis powers.[24] When the war ended, the SIS was reorganized as the Army Security Agency (ASA), and it was placed under the leadership of the Director of Military Intelligence.[24]

On May 20, 1949, all cryptologic activities were centralized under a national organization called the Armed Forces Security Agency (AFSA).[24] This organization was originally established within the U.S. Department of Defense under the command of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.[25] The AFSA was tasked to direct Department of Defense communications and electronic intelligence activities, except those of U.S. military intelligence units.[25] However, the AFSA was unable to centralize communications intelligence and failed to coordinate with civilian agencies that shared its interests such as the Department of State, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).[25] In December 1951, President Harry S. Truman ordered a panel to investigate how AFSA had failed to achieve its goals. The results of the investigation led to improvements and its redesignation as the National Security Agency.[26]

The agency was formally established by Truman in a memorandum of October 24, 1952, that revised National Security Council Intelligence Directive (NSCID) 9.[27] Since President Truman’s memo was a classified document,[27] the existence of the NSA was not known to the public at that time. Due to its ultra-secrecy the U.S. intelligence community referred to the NSA as “No Such Agency”.[28]

In the 1960s, the NSA played a key role in expanding U.S. commitment to the Vietnam War by providing evidence of a North Vietnamese attack on the American destroyer USSMaddox during the Gulf of Tonkin incident.[29]

A secret operation, code-named “MINARET”, was set up by the NSA to monitor the phone communications of Senators Frank Church and Howard Baker, as well as major civil rights leaders, including Martin Luther King, Jr., and prominent U.S. journalists and athletes who criticized the Vietnam War.[30] However, the project turned out to be controversial, and an internal review by the NSA concluded that its Minaret program was “disreputable if not outright illegal”.[30]

The NSA mounted a major effort to secure tactical communications among U.S. forces during the war with mixed success. The NESTOR family of compatible secure voice systems it developed was widely deployed during the Vietnam War, with about 30,000 NESTOR sets produced. However a variety of technical and operational problems limited their use, allowing the North Vietnamese to exploit and intercept U.S. communications.[31]:Vol I, p.79

In the aftermath of the Watergate scandal, a congressional hearing in 1975 led by Sen. Frank Church[32] revealed that the NSA, in collaboration with Britain’s SIGINT intelligence agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), had routinely intercepted the international communications of prominent anti-Vietnam war leaders such as Jane Fonda and Dr. Benjamin Spock.[33] Following the resignation of President Richard Nixon, there were several investigations of suspected misuse of FBI, CIA and NSA facilities.[34] Senator Frank Church uncovered previously unknown activity,[34] such as a CIA plot (ordered by the administration of President John F. Kennedy) to assassinate Fidel Castro.[35] The investigation also uncovered NSA’s wiretaps on targeted U.S. citizens.[36]

After the Church Committee hearings, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 was passed into law. This was designed to limit the practice of mass surveillance in the United States.[34]

In 1986, the NSA intercepted the communications of the Libyan government during the immediate aftermath of the Berlin discotheque bombing. The White House asserted that the NSA interception had provided “irrefutable” evidence that Libya was behind the bombing, which U.S. President Ronald Reagan cited as a justification for the 1986 United States bombing of Libya.[37][38]

In 1999, a multi-year investigation by the European Parliament highlighted the NSA’s role in economic espionage in a report entitled ‘Development of Surveillance Technology and Risk of Abuse of Economic Information’.[39] That year, the NSA founded the NSA Hall of Honor, a memorial at the National Cryptologic Museum in Fort Meade, Maryland.[40] The memorial is a, “tribute to the pioneers and heroes who have made significant and long-lasting contributions to American cryptology”.[40] NSA employees must be retired for more than fifteen years to qualify for the memorial.[40]

NSA’s infrastructure deteriorated in the 1990s as defense budget cuts resulted in maintenance deferrals. On January 24, 2000, NSA headquarters suffered a total network outage for three days caused by an overloaded network. Incoming traffic was successfully stored on agency servers, but it could not be directed and processed. The agency carried out emergency repairs at a cost of $3 million to get the system running again. (Some incoming traffic was also directed instead to Britain’s GCHQ for the time being.) Director Michael Hayden called the outage a “wake-up call” for the need to invest in the agency’s infrastructure.[41]

In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, the NSA created new IT systems to deal with the flood of information from new technologies like the Internet and cellphones. ThinThread contained advanced data mining capabilities. It also had a “privacy mechanism”; surveillance was stored encrypted; decryption required a warrant. The research done under this program may have contributed to the technology used in later systems. ThinThread was cancelled when Michael Hayden chose Trailblazer, which did not include ThinThread’s privacy system.[42]

Trailblazer Project ramped up in 2002 and was worked on by Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), Boeing, Computer Sciences Corporation, IBM, and Litton Industries. Some NSA whistleblowers complained internally about major problems surrounding Trailblazer. This led to investigations by Congress and the NSA and DoD Inspectors General. The project was cancelled in early 2004.

Turbulence started in 2005. It was developed in small, inexpensive “test” pieces, rather than one grand plan like Trailblazer. It also included offensive cyber-warfare capabilities, like injecting malware into remote computers. Congress criticized Turbulence in 2007 for having similar bureaucratic problems as Trailblazer.[43] It was to be a realization of information processing at higher speeds in cyberspace.[44]

The massive extent of the NSA’s spying, both foreign and domestic, was revealed to the public in a series of detailed disclosures of internal NSA documents beginning in June 2013. Most of the disclosures were leaked by former NSA contractor, Edward Snowden.

NSA’s eavesdropping mission includes radio broadcasting, both from various organizations and individuals, the Internet, telephone calls, and other intercepted forms of communication. Its secure communications mission includes military, diplomatic, and all other sensitive, confidential or secret government communications.[45]

According to a 2010 article in The Washington Post, “[e]very day, collection systems at the National Security Agency intercept and store 1.7billion e-mails, phone calls and other types of communications. The NSA sorts a fraction of those into 70 separate databases.”[46]

Because of its listening task, NSA/CSS has been heavily involved in cryptanalytic research, continuing the work of predecessor agencies which had broken many World War II codes and ciphers (see, for instance, Purple, Venona project, and JN-25).

In 2004, NSA Central Security Service and the National Cyber Security Division of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agreed to expand NSA Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education Program.[47]

As part of the National Security Presidential Directive 54/Homeland Security Presidential Directive 23 (NSPD 54), signed on January 8, 2008, by President Bush, the NSA became the lead agency to monitor and protect all of the federal government’s computer networks from cyber-terrorism.[9]

The NSA intercepts telephone and Internet communications of over a billion people worldwide, seeking information on foreign politics, military developments, terrorist activity, pertinet economic developments,[48] and “commercial secrets”.[49] A dedicated unit of the NSA locates targets for the CIA for extrajudicial assassination in the Middle East.[50] The NSA has also spied extensively on the European Union, the United Nations and numerous governments including allies and trading partners in Europe, South America and Asia.[51][52]

In the United States, at least since 2001,[53] there has been legal controversy over what signal intelligence can be used for and how much freedom the National Security Agency has to use signal intelligence.[54] The government has made, in 2015, slight changes in how it uses and collects certain types of data,[55] specifically phone records.

On December 16, 2005, The New York Times reported that, under White House pressure and with an executive order from President George W. Bush, the National Security Agency, in an attempt to thwart terrorism, had been tapping phone calls made to persons outside the country, without obtaining warrants from the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, a secret court created for that purpose under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).[56]

One such surveillance program, authorized by the U.S. Signals Intelligence Directive 18 of President George Bush, was the Highlander Project undertaken for the National Security Agency by the U.S. Army 513th Military Intelligence Brigade. NSA relayed telephone (including cell phone) conversations obtained from ground, airborne, and satellite monitoring stations to various U.S. Army Signal Intelligence Officers, including the 201st Military Intelligence Battalion. Conversations of citizens of the U.S. were intercepted, along with those of other nations.[57]

Proponents of the surveillance program claim that the President has executive authority to order such action, arguing that laws such as FISA are overridden by the President’s Constitutional powers. In addition, some argued that FISA was implicitly overridden by a subsequent statute, the Authorization for Use of Military Force, although the Supreme Court’s ruling in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld deprecates this view. In the August 2006 case ACLU v. NSA, U.S. District Court Judge Anna Diggs Taylor concluded that NSA’s warrantless surveillance program was both illegal and unconstitutional. On July 6, 2007, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the decision on the grounds that the ACLU lacked standing to bring the suit.[58]

On January 17, 2006, the Center for Constitutional Rights filed a lawsuit, CCR v. Bush, against the George W. Bush Presidency. The lawsuit challenged the National Security Agency’s (NSA’s) surveillance of people within the U.S., including the interception of CCR emails without securing a warrant first.[59][60]

In September 2008, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a class action lawsuit against the NSA and several high-ranking officials of the Bush administration,[61] charging an “illegal and unconstitutional program of dragnet communications surveillance,”[62] based on documentation provided by former AT&T technician Mark Klein.[63]

As a result of the USA Freedom Act passed by Congress in June 2015, the NSA had to shut down its bulk phone surveillance program on November 29 of the same year. The USA Freedom Act forbids the NSA to collect metadata and content of phone calls unless it has a warrant for terrorism investigation. In that case the agency has to ask the telecom companies for the record, which will only be kept for six months.

In May 2006, Mark Klein, a former AT&T employee, alleged that his company had cooperated with NSA in installing Narus hardware to replace the FBI Carnivore program, to monitor network communications including traffic between U.S. citizens.[64]

NSA was reported in 2008 to use its computing capability to analyze “transactional” data that it regularly acquires from other government agencies, which gather it under their own jurisdictional authorities. As part of this effort, NSA now monitors huge volumes of records of domestic email data, web addresses from Internet searches, bank transfers, credit-card transactions, travel records, and telephone data, according to current and former intelligence officials interviewed by The Wall Street Journal. The sender, recipient, and subject line of emails can be included, but the content of the messages or of phone calls are not.[65]

A 2013 advisory group for the Obama administration, seeking to reform NSA spying programs following the revelations of documents released by Edward J. Snowden.[66] mentioned in ‘Recommendation 30’ on page 37, “…that the National Security Council staff should manage an interagency process to review on a regular basis the activities of the US Government regarding attacks that exploit a previously unknown vulnerability in a computer application.” Retired cyber security expert Richard A. Clarke was a group member and stated on April 11 that NSA had no advance knowledge of Heartbleed.[67]

In August 2013 it was revealed that a 2005 IRS training document showed that NSA intelligence intercepts and wiretaps, both foreign and domestic, were being supplied to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and were illegally used to launch criminal investigations of US citizens. Law enforcement agents were directed to conceal how the investigations began and recreate an apparently legal investigative trail by re-obtaining the same evidence by other means.[68][69]

In the months leading to April 2009, the NSA intercepted the communications of U.S. citizens, including a Congressman, although the Justice Department believed that the interception was unintentional. The Justice Department then took action to correct the issues and bring the program into compliance with existing laws.[70] United States Attorney General Eric Holder resumed the program according to his understanding of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act amendment of 2008, without explaining what had occurred.[71]

Polls conducted in June 2013 found divided results among Americans regarding NSA’s secret data collection.[72]Rasmussen Reports found that 59% of Americans disapprove,[73]Gallup found that 53% disapprove,[74] and Pew found that 56% are in favor of NSA data collection.[75]

On April 25, 2013, the NSA obtained a court order requiring Verizon’s Business Network Services to provide metadata on all calls in its system to the NSA “on an ongoing daily basis” for a three-month period, as reported by The Guardian on June 6, 2013. This information includes “the numbers of both parties on a call… location data, call duration, unique identifiers, and the time and duration of all calls” but not “[t]he contents of the conversation itself”. The order relies on the so-called “business records” provision of the Patriot Act.[76][77]

In August 2013, following the Snowden leaks, new details about the NSA’s data mining activity were revealed. Reportedly, the majority of emails into or out of the United States are captured at “selected communications links” and automatically analyzed for keywords or other “selectors”. Emails that do not match are deleted.[78]

The utility of such a massive metadata collection in preventing terrorist attacks is disputed. Many studies reveal the dragnet like system to be ineffective. One such report, released by the New America Foundation concluded that after an analysis of 225 terrorism cases, the NSA “had no discernible impact on preventing acts of terrorism.”[79]

Defenders of the program said that while metadata alone can’t provide all the information necessary to prevent an attack, it assures the ability to “connect the dots”[80] between suspect foreign numbers and domestic numbers with a speed only the NSA’s software is capable of. One benefit of this is quickly being able to determine the difference between suspicious activity and real threats.[citation needed] As an example, NSA director General Keith Alexander mentioned at the annual Cybersecurity Summit in 2013, that metadata analysis of domestic phone call records after the Boston Marathon bombing helped determine that[clarification needed] another attack in New York was baseless.[80]

In addition to doubts about its effectiveness, many people argue that the collection of metadata is an unconstitutional invasion of privacy. As of 2015[update], the collection process remains legal and grounded in the ruling from Smith v. Maryland (1979). A prominent opponent of the data collection and its legality is U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon, who issued a report in 2013[81] in which he stated: “I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’ than this systematic and high tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval…Surely, such a program infringes on ‘that degree of privacy’ that the founders enshrined in the Fourth Amendment”.

As of May 7, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that the interpretation of Section 215 of the Patriot Act was wrong and that the NSA program that has been collecting Americans’ phone records in bulk is illegal.[82] It stated that Section 215 cannot be clearly interpreted to allow government to collect national phone data and, as a result, expired on June 1, 2015. This ruling “is the first time a higher-level court in the regular judicial system has reviewed the N.S.A. phone records program.” [83] The replacement law known as the U.S.A. Freedom Act, which will enable the NSA to continue to have bulk access to citizens’ metadata but with the stipulation that the data will now be stored by the companies themselves.[83] This change will not have any effect on other Agency procedures – outside of metadata collection – which have purportedly challenged Americans’ Fourth Amendment rights;,[84] including Upstream collection, a mass of techniques used by the Agency to collect and store American’s data/communications directly from the Internet backbone.[85]

Under programs like PRISM, the NSA paid billions of dollars to telecommunications companies in order to collect data from them.[86] While companies such as Google and Yahoo! claim that they do not provide “direct access” from their servers to the NSA unless under a court order,[87] the NSA had access to emails, phone calls and cellular data users.[88] Under this new ruling, telecommunications companies maintain bulk user metadata on their servers for at least 18 months, to be provided upon request to the NSA.[83] This ruling made the mass storage of specific phone records at NSA datacenters illegal, but it did not rule on Section 215’s constitutionality.[83]

In a declassified document it was revealed that 17,835 phone lines were on an improperly permitted “alert list” from 2006 to 2009 in breach of compliance, which tagged these phone lines for daily monitoring.[89][90][91] Eleven percent of these monitored phone lines met the agency’s legal standard for “reasonably articulable suspicion” (RAS).[89][92] The NSA tracks the locations of hundreds of millions of cellphones per day, allowing it to map people’s movements and relationships in detail.[93] The NSA has been reported to have access to all communications made via Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, YouTube, AOL, Skype, Apple and Paltalk,[94] and collects hundreds of millions of contact lists from personal email and instant messaging accounts each year.[95] It has also managed to weaken much of the encryption used on the Internet (by collaborating with, coercing or otherwise infiltrating numerous technology companies to leave “backdoors” into their systems), so that the majority of encryption is inadverently vulnerable to different forms of attack.[96][97]

Domestically, the NSA has been proven to collect and store metadata records of phone calls,[98] including over 120 million US Verizon subscribers,[99] as well as intercept vast amounts of communications via the internet (Upstream).[94] The government’s legal standing had been to rely on a secret interpretation of the Patriot Act whereby the entirety of US communications may be considered “relevant” to a terrorism investigation if it is expected that even a tiny minority may relate to terrorism.[100] The NSA also supplies foreign intercepts to the DEA, IRS and other law enforcement agencies, who use these to initiate criminal investigations. Federal agents are then instructed to “recreate” the investigative trail via parallel construction.[101]

The NSA also spies on influential Muslims to obtain information that could be used to discredit them, such as their use of pornography. The targets, both domestic and abroad, are not suspected of any crime but hold religious or political views deemed “radical” by the NSA.[102]

According to a report in The Washington Post in July 2014, relying on information provided by Snowden, 90% of those placed under surveillance in the U.S. are ordinary Americans, and are not the intended targets. The newspaper said it had examined documents including emails, text messages, and online accounts that support the claim.[103]

Despite White House claims that these programs have congressional oversight, many members of Congress were unaware of the existence of these NSA programs or the secret interpretation of the Patriot Act, and have consistently been denied access to basic information about them.[104] The United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the secret court charged with regulating the NSA’s activities is, according to its chief judge, incapable of investigating or verifying how often the NSA breaks even its own secret rules.[105] It has since been reported that the NSA violated its own rules on data access thousands of times a year, many of these violations involving large-scale data interceptions.[106] NSA officers have even used data intercepts to spy on love interests;[107] “most of the NSA violations were self-reported, and each instance resulted in administrative action of termination.”[108]

The NSA has “generally disregarded the special rules for disseminating United States person information” by illegally sharing its intercepts with other law enforcement agencies.[109] A March 2009 FISA Court opinion, which the court released, states that protocols restricting data queries had been “so frequently and systemically violated that it can be fairly said that this critical element of the overall … regime has never functioned effectively.”[110][111] In 2011 the same court noted that the “volume and nature” of the NSA’s bulk foreign Internet intercepts was “fundamentally different from what the court had been led to believe”.[109] Email contact lists (including those of US citizens) are collected at numerous foreign locations to work around the illegality of doing so on US soil.[95]

Legal opinions on the NSA’s bulk collection program have differed. In mid-December 2013, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon ruled that the “almost-Orwellian” program likely violates the Constitution, and wrote, “I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’ than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval. Surely, such a program infringes on ‘that degree of privacy’ that the Founders enshrined in the Fourth Amendment. Indeed, I have little doubt that the author of our Constitution, James Madison, who cautioned us to beware ‘the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power,’ would be aghast.”[112]

Later that month, U.S. District Judge William Pauley ruled that the NSA’s collection of telephone records is legal and valuable in the fight against terrorism. In his opinion, he wrote, “a bulk telephony metadata collection program [is] a wide net that could find and isolate gossamer contacts among suspected terrorists in an ocean of seemingly disconnected data” and noted that a similar collection of data prior to 9/11 might have prevented the attack.[113]

At a March 2013 Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, Senator Ron Wyden asked Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, “does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” Clapper replied “No, sir. … Not wittingly. There are cases where they could inadvertently perhaps collect, but not wittingly.”[114] This statement came under scrutiny months later, in June 2013, details of the PRISM surveillance program were published, showing that “the NSA apparently can gain access to the servers of nine Internet companies for a wide range of digital data.”[114] Wyden said that Clapper had failed to give a “straight answer” in his testimony. Clapper, in response to criticism, said, “I responded in what I thought was the most truthful, or least untruthful manner.” Clapper added, “There are honest differences on the semantics of what — when someone says collection to me, that has a specific meaning, which may have a different meaning to him.”[114]

NSA whistler-blower Edward Snowden additionally revealed the existence of XKeyscore, a top secret NSA program that allows the agency to search vast databases of “the metadata as well as the content of emails and other internet activity, such as browser history,” with capability to search by “name, telephone number, IP address, keywords, the language in which the internet activity was conducted or the type of browser used.”[115] XKeyscore “provides the technological capability, if not the legal authority, to target even US persons for extensive electronic surveillance without a warrant provided that some identifying information, such as their email or IP address, is known to the analyst.”[115]

Regarding the necessity of these NSA programs, Alexander stated on June 27 that the NSA’s bulk phone and Internet intercepts had been instrumental in preventing 54 terrorist “events”, including 13 in the US, and in all but one of these cases had provided the initial tip to “unravel the threat stream”.[116] On July 31 NSA Deputy Director John Inglis conceded to the Senate that these intercepts had not been vital in stopping any terrorist attacks, but were “close” to vital in identifying and convicting four San Diego men for sending US$8,930 to Al-Shabaab, a militia that conducts terrorism in Somalia.[117][118][119]

The U.S. government has aggressively sought to dismiss and challenge Fourth Amendment cases raised against it, and has granted retroactive immunity to ISPs and telecoms participating in domestic surveillance.[120][121] The U.S. military has acknowledged blocking access to parts of The Guardian website for thousands of defense personnel across the country,[122][123] and blocking the entire Guardian website for personnel stationed throughout Afghanistan, the Middle East, and South Asia.[124]

An October 2014 United Nations report condemned mass surveillance by the United States and other countries as violating multiple international treaties and conventions that guarantee core privacy rights.[125]

The Wikimedia Foundation and several other plaintiffs filed suit against the NSA in 2015, Wikimedia Foundation v. NSA, for the violation of their user’s First and Fourth Amendement rights by the Agency’s mass surveillance programs like Upstream.[126] The suit was initially dismissed, but was later found to have plausible and legal standing to its complaints by the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and was remanded. The case is currently awaiting further proceedings at the United States District Court for the District of Maryland.[127]

An exploit, EternalBlue, which is believed to have been created by the NSA, was used in the unprecedented worldwide WannaCry ransomware attack in May 2017. The exploit had been leaked online by a hacking group, The Shadow Brokers, nearly a month prior to the attack. A number of experts have pointed the finger at the NSA’s non-disclosure of the underlying vulnerability, and their loss of control over the EternalBlue attack tool that exploited it. Edward Snowden said that if the NSA had “privately disclosed the flaw used to attack hospitals when they found it, not when they lost it, [the attack] might not have happened”.[128] Wikipedia co-founder, Jimmy Wales, stated that he joined “with Microsoft and the other leaders of the industry in saying this is a huge screw-up by the government … the moment the NSA found it, they should have notified Microsoft so they could quietly issue a patch and really chivvy people along, long before it became a huge problem.”[129]

Operations by the National Security Agency can be divided in three types:

CAPRI OS is a National Security Agency codename for a project that is sent SSH and SSL intercepts for post-processing.[130]

“Echelon” was created in the incubator of the Cold War.[131] Today it is a legacy system, and several NSA stations are closing.[132]

NSA/CSS, in combination with the equivalent agencies in the United Kingdom (Government Communications Headquarters), Canada (Communications Security Establishment), Australia (Defence Signals Directorate), and New Zealand (Government Communications Security Bureau), otherwise known as the UKUSA group,[133] was reported to be in command of the operation of the so-called ECHELON system. Its capabilities were suspected to include the ability to monitor a large proportion of the world’s transmitted civilian telephone, fax and data traffic.[134]

During the early 1970s, the first of what became more than eight large satellite communications dishes were installed at Menwith Hill.[135] Investigative journalist Duncan Campbell reported in 1988 on the “ECHELON” surveillance program, an extension of the UKUSA Agreement on global signals intelligence SIGINT, and detailed how the eavesdropping operations worked.[136] On November 3, 1999 the BBC reported that they had confirmation from the Australian Government of the existence of a powerful “global spying network” code-named Echelon, that could “eavesdrop on every single phone call, fax or e-mail, anywhere on the planet” with Britain and the United States as the chief protagonists. They confirmed that Menwith Hill was “linked directly to the headquarters of the US National Security Agency (NSA) at Fort Meade in Maryland”.[137]

NSA’s United States Signals Intelligence Directive 18 (USSID 18) strictly prohibited the interception or collection of information about “… U.S. persons, entities, corporations or organizations….” without explicit written legal permission from the United States Attorney General when the subject is located abroad, or the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court when within U.S. borders. Alleged Echelon-related activities, including its use for motives other than national security, including political and industrial espionage, received criticism from countries outside the UKUSA alliance.[138][139]

The NSA was also involved in planning to blackmail people with “SEXINT”, intelligence gained about a potential target’s sexual activity and preferences. Those targeted had not committed any apparent crime nor were they charged with one.[140]

In order to support its facial recognition program, the NSA is intercepting “millions of images per day”.[141]

The Real Time Regional Gateway is a data collection program introduced in 2005 in Iraq by NSA during the Iraq War that consisted of gathering all electronic communication, storing it, then searching and otherwise analyzing it. It was effective in providing information about Iraqi insurgents who had eluded less comprehensive techniques.[142] This “collect it all” strategy introduced by NSA director, Keith B. Alexander, is believed by Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian to be the model for the comprehensive worldwide mass archiving of communications which NSA is engaged in as of 2013.[143]

Edward Snowden revealed in June 2013 that between February 8 and March 8, 2013, the NSA collected about 124.8billion telephone data items and 97.1billion computer data items throughout the world, as was displayed in charts from an internal NSA tool codenamed Boundless Informant. It was reported that some of these data reflected eavesdropping on citizens in countries like Germany, Spain and France.[144]

BoundlessInformant employs big data databases, cloud computing technology, and Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) to analyze data collected worldwide by the NSA.[145]

In 2013, reporters uncovered a secret memo that claims the NSA created and pushed for the adoption of the Dual EC DRBG encryption standard that contained built-in vulnerabilities in 2006 to the United States National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the International Organization for Standardization (aka ISO).[146][147] This memo appears to give credence to previous speculation by cryptographers at Microsoft Research.[148]Edward Snowden claims that the NSA often bypasses encryption altogether by lifting information before it is encrypted or after it is decrypted.[147]

XKeyscore rules (as specified in a file xkeyscorerules100.txt, sourced by German TV stations NDR and WDR, who claim to have excerpts from its source code) reveal that the NSA tracks users of privacy-enhancing software tools, including Tor; an anonymous email service provided by the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) in Cambridge, Massachusetts; and readers of the Linux Journal.[149][150]

Linus Torvalds, the founder of Linux kernel, joked during a LinuxCon keynote on September 18, 2013, that the NSA, who are the founder of SELinux, wanted a backdoor in the kernel.[151] However, later, Linus’ father, a Member of the European Parliament (MEP), revealed that the NSA actually did this.[152]

When my oldest son was asked the same question: “Has he been approached by the NSA about backdoors?” he said “No”, but at the same time he nodded. Then he was sort of in the legal free. He had given the right answer, everybody understood that the NSA had approached him.

IBM Notes was the first widely adopted software product to use public key cryptography for clientserver and serverserver authentication and for encryption of data. Until US laws regulating encryption were changed in 2000, IBM and Lotus were prohibited from exporting versions of Notes that supported symmetric encryption keys that were longer than 40 bits. In 1997, Lotus negotiated an agreement with the NSA that allowed export of a version that supported stronger keys with 64 bits, but 24 of the bits were encrypted with a special key and included in the message to provide a “workload reduction factor” for the NSA. This strengthened the protection for users of Notes outside the US against private-sector industrial espionage, but not against spying by the US government.[154][155]

While it is assumed that foreign transmissions terminating in the U.S. (such as a non-U.S. citizen accessing a U.S. website) subject non-U.S. citizens to NSA surveillance, recent research into boomerang routing has raised new concerns about the NSA’s ability to surveil the domestic Internet traffic of foreign countries.[18] Boomerang routing occurs when an Internet transmission that originates and terminates in a single country transits another. Research at the University of Toronto has suggested that approximately 25% of Canadian domestic traffic may be subject to NSA surveillance activities as a result of the boomerang routing of Canadian Internet service providers.[18]

Intercepted packages are opened carefully by NSA employees

A “load station” implanting a beacon

A document included in NSA files released with Glenn Greenwald’s book No Place to Hide details how the agency’s Tailored Access Operations (TAO) and other NSA units gain access to hardware. They intercept routers, servers and other network hardware being shipped to organizations targeted for surveillance and install covert implant firmware onto them before they are delivered. This was described by an NSA manager as “some of the most productive operations in TAO because they preposition access points into hard target networks around the world.”[156]

Computers seized by the NSA due to interdiction are often modified with a physical device known as Cottonmouth.[157] Cottonmouth is a device that can be inserted in the USB port of a computer in order to establish remote access to the targeted machine. According to NSA’s Tailored Access Operations (TAO) group implant catalog, after implanting Cottonmouth, the NSA can establish Bridging (networking) “that allows the NSA to load exploit software onto modified computers as well as allowing the NSA to relay commands and data between hardware and software implants.”[158]

NSA’s mission, as set forth in Executive Order 12333 in 1981, is to collect information that constitutes “foreign intelligence or counterintelligence” while not “acquiring information concerning the domestic activities of United States persons”. NSA has declared that it relies on the FBI to collect information on foreign intelligence activities within the borders of the United States, while confining its own activities within the United States to the embassies and missions of foreign nations.[159] The appearance of a ‘Domestic Surveillance Directorate’ of the NSA was soon exposed as a hoax in 2013.[160][161]

NSA’s domestic surveillance activities are limited by the requirements imposed by the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for example held in October 2011, citing multiple Supreme Court precedents, that the Fourth Amendment prohibitions against unreasonable searches and seizures applies to the contents of all communications, whatever the means, because “a person’s private communications are akin to personal papers.”[162] However, these protections do not apply to non-U.S. persons located outside of U.S. borders, so the NSA’s foreign surveillance efforts are subject to far fewer limitations under U.S. law.[163] The specific requirements for domestic surveillance operations are contained in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA), which does not extend protection to non-U.S. citizens located outside of U.S. territory.[163]

George W. Bush, president during the 9/11 terrorist attacks, approved the Patriot Act shortly after the attacks to take anti-terrorist security measures. Title 1, 2, and 9 specifically authorized measures that would be taken by the NSA. These titles granted enhanced domestic security against terrorism, surveillance procedures, and improved intelligence, respectively. On March 10, 2004, there was a debate between President Bush and White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales, Attorney General John Ashcroft, and Acting Attorney General James Comey. The Attorney Generals were unsure if the NSA’s programs could be considered constitutional. They threatened to resign over the matter, but ultimately the NSA’s programs continued.[164] On March 11, 2004, President Bush signed a new authorization for mass surveillance of Internet records, in addition to the surveillance of phone records. This allowed the president to be able to override laws such as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which protected civilians from mass surveillance. In addition to this, President Bush also signed that the measures of mass surveillance were also retroactively in place.[165]

Under the PRISM program, which started in 2007,[166][167] NSA gathers Internet communications from foreign targets from nine major U.S. Internet-based communication service providers: Microsoft,[168]Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube and Apple. Data gathered include email, video and voice chat, videos, photos, VoIP chats such as Skype, and file transfers.

In June 2015, Wikileaks published documents, which showed that NSA spied on French companies.[169]

In July 2015, WikiLeaks published documents, which showed that NSA spied on federal German ministries since the 1990s.[170][171] Even Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphones and phone of her predecessors had been intercepted.[172]

Former NSA director General Keith Alexander claimed that in September 2009 the NSA prevented Najibullah Zazi and his friends from carrying out a terrorist attack.[173] However, this claim has been debunked and no evidence has been presented demonstrating that the NSA has ever been instrumental in preventing a terrorist attack.[174][175][176][177]

Besides the more traditional ways of eavesdropping in order to collect signals intelligence, NSA is also engaged in hacking computers, smartphones and their networks. These operations are conducted by the Tailored Access Operations (TAO) division.

According to the Foreign Policy magazine, “… the Office of Tailored Access Operations, or TAO, has successfully penetrated Chinese computer and telecommunications systems for almost 15 years, generating some of the best and most reliable intelligence information about what is going on inside the People’s Republic of China.”[178][179]

In an interview with Wired magazine, Edward Snowden said the Tailored Access Operations division accidentally caused Syria’s internet blackout in 2012.[180]

The NSA is led by the Director of the National Security Agency (DIRNSA), who also serves as Chief of the Central Security Service (CHCSS) and Commander of the United States Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM) and is the highest-ranking military official of these organizations. He is assisted by a Deputy Director, who is the highest-ranking civilian within the NSA/CSS.

NSA also has an Inspector General, head of the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), a General Counsel, head of the Office of the General Counsel (OGC) and a Director of Compliance, who is head of the Office of the Director of Compliance (ODOC).[181]

Unlike other intelligence organizations such as CIA or DIA, NSA has always been particularly reticent concerning its internal organizational structure.

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National Security Agency – Wikipedia

A German hacker offers a rare look inside the secretive world …

LONDON The passengers stepping off the Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt, Germany, last month head straight for the passport-scanning machines that allow European residents to enter Britain quickly and without any human interaction.

A lone figure in a black hoodie and jeans breaks off from the pack.

Too many biometric details, says Andy Mller-Maguhn, eyeing the cameras on the timesaving devices.

He has come here, as he does most months, to meet with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, the worlds most controversial purveyor of government secrets. For most of the past six years, Assange has been confined to the Ecuadoran Embassy in London, fearful that if he leaves he will be extradited to the United States for prosecution under the Espionage Act. Ecuador recently granted Assange citizenship, but British officials said he is still subject to arrest if he leaves the embassy.

[Ecuador grants citizenship to Julian Assange in bid to end London Embassy standoff]

Mller-Maguhn is one of Assanges few connections to the outside world. He typically brings Assange books, clothes or movies. Once in 2016, he delivered a thumb drive that he says contained personal messages for the WikiLeaks founder, who for security reasons has stopped using email.

These visits have caught the attention of U.S. and European spy chiefs, who have struggled to understand how Assanges organization operates and how exactly WikiLeaks came to possess a trove of hacked Democratic Party emails that the group released at key moments in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange spoke at Ecuadors embassy in London on May 19, 2017, after Swedish prosecutors said they were dropping the probe into a rape allegation against him. (Reuters)

The three major U.S. intelligence agencies the CIA, the FBI and the National Security Agency assessed with high confidence that Russia relayed to WikiLeaks material it had hacked from the Democratic National Committee and senior Democratic officials. And last year, then-FBI Director James B. Comey said that the bureau believes the transfer was made using a cut-out, or a human intermediary or a series of intermediaries.

Exactly how the Russians delivered the email trove to WikiLeaks is the subject of an ongoing examination by U.S. and European intelligence officials. As part of their effort to understand the groups operations, these officials have taken an intense interest in Mller-Maguhn, who visits Assange monthly, U.S. officials said.

Mller-Maguhn insists that he was never in possession of the material before it was put online and that he did not transport it.

That would be insane, he says.

U.S. officials who once dismissed WikiLeaks as a little more than an irritating propaganda machine and Assange as an antiestablishment carnival barker now take a far darker view of the group.

Its time to call out WikiLeaks for what it really is: a nonstate hostile intelligence service, CIA Director Mike Pompeo said in the spring after the group released documents describing CIA hacking tools. In December, he doubled down on that assessment, describing WikiLeaks as a national security threat and suggesting that Assange cannot protect those who pass him state secrets.

He ought to be a bit less confident about that, Pompeo said.

[Timeline: Julian Assange and WikiLeaks]

In an interview at the Ecuadoran Embassy last month, Assange insisted that Mller-Maguhn never possessed the hacked DNC emails and blasted Pompeos statements as very strange and bombastic.

Mller-Maguhn is more cautious. How many of you wouldnt be scared s—less by the head of the CIA declaring you the next target? he asks.

The 46-year-old hacker moves through Heathrow Airport like a man who knows that powerful governments are tracking his every move. A Washington Post reporter travels with him as he goes through passport control.

He switches off his cellphone, fearful that British immigration officials have technology that can steal his data. Mller-Maguhn could enter the United Kingdom with his German identification card but prefers to use his passport. The ID card has my address on it, he says.

A heavy-set immigration officer looks over Mller-Maguhns passport and stares for several seconds at a computer screen.

Why are you in the U.K? he asks.

Im visiting people, Mller-Maguhn replies.

The officer pecks at his computer. Necks crane to catch a glimpse of the man clad in all black who is holding up the normally brisk line of passengers headed to early morning business meetings.

After a few minutes, the officer waves through Mller-Maguhn, who is walking toward the exit when the officer remembers one last question.

Sir, sir, where are you traveling from again? he shouts.

Frankfurt, Mller-Maguhn replies.

And with that he is gone. Behind him, the immigration officer is still typing. The travelers who briefly took notice of Mller-Maguhn are back staring at their phones or marching toward their destinations. Mller-Maguhn heads for the Heathrow Express into London.

Into the embassy

The roots of Mller-Maguhns relationship with Assange trace back to his teenage years in the 1980s when his walk to school in Hamburg took him past the offices of the Chaos Computer Club.

The group embodied postwar Germanys anti-fascist convictions and the hacker undergrounds libertarian ethos. Now the largest hacker club in Europe, it bills itself as a galactic community of life forms independent of age, sex, race or society orientation that strives across borders for freedom of information.

Mller-Maguhn soon became a friend, confidant and adviser to the groups founder, Wau Holland. They were like a strange couple, said Peter Glaser, a club member, journalist and friend of both men. Andy was very young and behaved like an adult, and Wau was older and behaved like a child.

Mller-Maguhn later parlayed his interest in computers and surveillance into a business that he co-founded in 2003 making encrypted phones. He had hoped to sell the phones to journalists and dissidents but quickly discovered that military and intelligence agencies in Europe, Asia and the Middle East were the only clients who understood the technology and were willing to pay for it.

This was during the time I was following the path of capitalism, he said with a smile during one of several lengthy interviews in Berlin.

Mller-Maguhn spent 10 years selling the phones before leaving the company. You can imagine, I know really strange people in really strange places, he adds. These days, Mller-Maguhn says, he runs a data center that hosts websites and manages email for businesses. He also works as a security consultant, helping companies and governments safeguard their secrets. One of his clients is in China, a state known for its suppression of the Internet and its surveillance of dissidents.

By Mller-Maguhns calculus, the nominally communist government is less prone to violence overseas and less of a threat than the United States is. They dont have the wish to apply their standards to the rest of the planet or have others dance to their music, he says. So theres a big difference.

In recent years, Mller-Maguhns consulting and advocacy work has carried him all over the world, including Moscow, where in 2016 and 2017 he attended a security conference organized by the Russian Defense Ministry.

On his way into London for his meeting with Assange, Mller-Maguhn casually mentions that he is just back from a three-day trip to Brazil.

It was business-related, he says, declining to elaborate.

Mller-Maguhn hops out of a cab in Knightsbridge, a posh section of London thats home to Harrods department store, the Ecuadoran Embassy and Assange. On this cold December day, the stores are decked out for the Christmas season. Mller-Maguhn raises a camera with a telephoto lens and aims it at a building down the street from the brick embassy where Assange has been holed up since 2012.

The shutter on his Nikon camera clicks as he snaps a few shots, hoping to spot surveillance equipment pointed at Assange and the embassy. Women in fur coats rush by him as Bentleys and Rolls-Royces roll past on the busy road. Mller-Maguhn moves down the sidewalk to get a better angle, takes some more pictures and then slings the Nikon over his shoulder.

Farther down the block and closer to the embassy, he points up toward an apartment building where he suspects that the Spaniards, angry about Assanges tweets in support of Catalan separatists, may have set up a surveillance team.

Then he bounds up the steps of the building that houses the Ecuadoran Embassy, takes one last glance over his shoulder and rings the bell of the front door, where a guard immediately recognizes him and welcomes him inside.

Mller-Maguhn met Assange through the Chaos Computer Club in 2007 when the WikiLeaks founder was seeking support for his then-fledgling organization.

In those early days, Assange described his creation as a group committed to the mission of publishing original source material so citizens of the world could see evidence of the truth about global corporations and their governments.

Just past the doors to the embassy, a guard asks Mller-Maguhn to turn over all electronic devices: cameras, mobile phones, as well as his watch and car keys.

The last time, they even looked into the fruit I was bringing, Mller-Maguhn says. These guys have their job. They have their instructions. So I am not complaining.

Since WikiLeaks early days, Assanges circle of contacts has contracted significantly. Some allies, such as Daniel Domscheit-Berg, who first invited Assange to the Chaos Computer Club and signed on as WikiLeaks spokesman, broke with WikiLeaks in 2010 after Assange released hundreds of thousands of pages of U.S. military documents without redacting the names of local Afghans who had helped the military and could be targeted by the Taliban. Other backers were put off by Assanges legal troubles and allegations of sexual assault in Sweden or his Manichaean view of the world.

Still others alleged that the group allowed itself to be used as a tool by the Russians in their campaign to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Look, he has messed up with so many people, I have no idea how many people he has left as friends, Mller-Maguhn says.

Assange continues to fear that he will be prosecuted by the United States and as a result is afraid to leave the embassy, saying that doing so would lead to his extradition. The Justice Department is considering a case against him, according to people familiar with the matter. Several months ago, Domscheit-Berg said, the FBI sought an interview with him in connection with a long-running grand jury investigation of WikiLeaks publication of State Department cables. Domscheit-Berg said in an interview that he rebuffed the request. No matter the differences that Julian and I had, Im not going to talk to anybody about what happened, he said.

WikiLeaks is always just chaos

As WikiLeaks has contracted and Assange has retreated from public view, it has become harder for Western intelligence agencies to get a sense of how the group operates. An internal CIA report from November said the U.S. intelligence community has gained few good insights into WikiLeaks inner workings. The agency predicted that Assanges negative views of Washington would lead the group to continue to disproportionately target the United States.

Former WikiLeaks supporters say the group is governed by Assanges whims. The way to think of it is always just chaos, said one former WikiLeaks activist who spoke on the condition of anonymity to offer a frank opinion and avoid retribution from Assange. There arent any systems. There arent any procedures no formal roles, no working hours. Its all just Julian and whatever he feels like.

During the 2016 campaign, Assange put out word that he wanted material on Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. He was kind of asking everybody, Can we get something for the election? Mller-Maguhn recalls.

Assange signs off on all WikiLeaks publications but does not review everything that comes to the group. For security reasons, he does not want that, Mller-Maguhn says. Mller-Maguhn, though, is vague about WikiLeaks internal workings.

A former WikiLeaks associate said that Mller-Maguhn and a colleague oversaw submissions through WikiLeaks anonymous submission server in 2016 although Mller-Maguhn denies such involvement.

Asked to explain the submission review process, he replies, I dont want to.

The only reliable way to contact Assange, he says, is through Direct Message on Twitter. He seems to live on Twitter, adds Mller-Maguhn, who doesnt hide his disdain for the platform. On Twitter you follow people, and thats what German history forbids you to do, he says.

The size of WikiLeaks staff and its finances are also murky. Neither Mller-Maguhn nor Assange will say how many people work for the group or where they are located. It seems to be a rather small team, Mller-Maguhn says.

WikiLeaks has amassed a stash of bitcoin, a digital currency that enables anonymous, bank-free transactions. As of this week, the stockpile is worth about $18million, although in late December, with the currencys spike in value, the group was sitting on $25million, according to public online ledgers that record such transactions. Over the past several years, the Wau Holland Foundation, which was started in 2003 after the founder of the Chaos Computer Club died, collected hundreds of thousands of dollars for Assanges group.

Mller-Maguhn sits on the board of the foundation, which seeks to promote freedom of information and civil courage in various forms. He says the foundation has provided support for some of WikiLeaks releases, such as last years Vault7 disclosure of CIA hacking tools.

He describes the Vault 7 releases as a public service, adding that the CIA was messing up other peoples computers and making it look like someone else had done it.

To Assange, any suggestion that Mller-Maguhn may have served as an intermediary to deliver the DNC emails is a lame attempt by U.S. intelligence agencies to hurt the Wau Holland Foundation, which is a key conduit for tax-free donations in Europe.

The threat is all the more significant because the only other source of tax-exempt donations, the U.S.-based Freedom of the Press Foundation, has cut ties to WikiLeaks.

Mller-Maguhn says he cannot say with certainty what was on the USB drive that he delivered to Assange. How can I prove what was on there? he says. I cannot. But he adds that it would be risky and impractical to deliver sensitive files by hand, rather than through encrypted channels.

A classical walk-in? You saw too many movies from the 1970s, he says.

These days, Mller-Maguhn describes his visits to the embassy as motivated by an increasingly rare commodity in Assanges world: friendship. Assanges visitors include celebrities, such as actress Pamela Anderson, and politicians, such as Nigel Farage, a vocal advocate for Britains exit from the European Union, and Dana Rohrabacher, a GOP congressman from California.

When he talks to visitors, Assange turns on a white noise generator in the embassy conference room to counter listening devices. Above the door, he points out a surveillance camera and indicates that sensitive messages should be communicated only via handwritten notes, shielding the text from the camera with a hand or notepad cover.

On July 3, 2016, Mller-Maguhn visited Assange at the embassy to celebrate Assanges 45th birthday. Inside the brick building, Ecuadoran children, dressed in traditional garb, serenaded Assange with little guitars and pipe flutes.

As the children sang, Mller-Maguhns mind flashed forward.

I had this s—ty impression of me standing there watching 50-year-olds making music for us, and Julian would still be there, he said.

After about two hours inside the embassy last month, Mller-Maguhn emerges from the building, carrying his black leather satchel, stuffed with documents, and his Nikon camera. He quickly makes his way through the Christmas crowds and back to Heathrow Airport for an evening flight home to Germany.

He tries to minimize his time in Britain. I dont like to stay overnight in a country that is hostile toward me, he says.

Jaffe reported from Washington. Greg Miller, Rachel Weiner and Julie Tate in Washington, Karla Adam in London and Stefan Pauly in Berlin contributed to this report.

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A German hacker offers a rare look inside the secretive world …

Chelsea Manning files to run for US Senate – ABC News

Chelsea Manning, a transgender former U.S. Army soldier imprisoned for seven years after being convicted of leaking classified military documents to WikiLeaks, has filed papers to run for the U.S. Senate in Maryland as a Democrat.

According to a Federal Election Commission filing, Chelsea Elizabeth Manning filed her candidacy papers on Thursday. Manning is challenging incumbent U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, also a Democrat, who is running for his third term.

The primary election for the 2018 Maryland senate race will be held on June 26, 2018.

Manning was convicted in 2013 by a military tribunal under the Espionage and Computer Fraud and Abuse Acts for releasing over 700,000 documents to WikiLeaks. At the time, Manning was a 22-year-old United States Army private named Bradley Manning, and she served seven years of a 35-year sentence. President Barack Obama commuted Mannings sentence to time served as one of his final acts in office.

The information Manning disclosed included low-level battlefield reports from Iraq and Afghanistan, Guantanamo prison camp detainee profiles and U.S. diplomatic correspondence. Manning pleaded guilty to some charges but was acquitted of the most serious charge brought against her: aiding the enemy.

Manning has long maintained that she leaked the documents in order to spark public debate. In an exclusive 2017 interview with ABCs Juju Chang for a special edition of Nightline, Manning said, My intention was to draw attention to this and do the right thing.

Manning continued, And I struggled with that, but the intention was very much like, This is about improving the country. This is about improving our standing in the world, this is about improving everything. And maybe this can start a debate on that.

Mere days after Manning was sentenced, she came out as transgender on Aug. 22, 2013. The military would not provide her with any treatment for her gender dysphoria, which Manning claimed resulted in her increased distress. At the time, her ACLU lawyer filed a lawsuit on her behalf in order to receive gender transition related health care.

Cardin’s office and Manning did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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Chelsea Manning files to run for US Senate – ABC News

Julian Assanges poor hygiene sparks complaints at embassy

Staff at the Ecuador Embassy in London grew tired of the whiffing WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who reportedly does not attend to his own personal hygiene.

Its that lack of cleanliness, among other things, that fueled Ecuadors recent attempts to end his five-year stand-off at the Knightsbridge embassy, the International Business Times reported.

It seems he doesnt wash properly, a well-placed source told the news outlet, noting the issue has prompted repeated complaints from staff at the UK embassy.

Assange reportedly complained of noise from a loading bay near his hideout, which resulted in a female restroom being converted into a bedroom for him. The move left Assange sharing a single bathroom with embassy staff.

WikiLeaks addresses ‘oddities’ regarding Julian Assange’s Twitter

And its not the first time people around him have complained of Assanges questionable hygiene practices.

Julian ate everything with his hands and he always wiped his fingers on his pants. I have never seen pants as greasy as his in my whole life, one of his closest aides, Daniel Domscheit-Berg, told the Times.

Jrmie Zimmermann, a friend and former colleague, wrote in 2012 that unless the people around him force him to shower, he might not change his clothes for days.

The WikiLeaks founder was made an Ecuadorian citizen last month, the nations foreign minister revealed Thursday, in a bid to resolve the diplomatic impasse created by Assanges presence.

Prosecutors destroyed emails in Julian Assange case

Earlier this week, the UKs Foreign Office revealed it dismissed requests from Ecuador for the Australia native to be made an accredited diplomat. Ecuador officials hoped it would allow for Assange to leave the embassy and Britain without arrest.

He fled to embassy in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden for questioning on rape and sexual assault allegations and was granted asylum there. The case in Sweden was dropped after prosecutors questioned him at the embassy. Assange could still be arrested for skipping bail and faces jail time should he leave the embassy.

U.S. officials told the Times Wednesday that arresting Assange remains a priority, though did not confirm whether the government would request his extradition should he be arrested in the UK.

Assange previously claimed United States authorities have already prepared an indictment and made plans to extradite him for espionage after WikiLeaks dumped hundreds of classified military documents.

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Julian Assanges poor hygiene sparks complaints at embassy

House votes to renew FISA surveillance laws revealed by …

The House of Representatives passed a bill Thursday to renew US spy powers first revealed by Edward Snowden in 2013.

The US House of Representatives gave a boost to the government’s surveillance powers.

Lawmakers voted 256-164on Thursday to extend NSA programs that collect communications over the internet for national security purposes.

The law that authorized the surveillance programs is set to expire on Jan. 19.

That law, Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, was passed in 2008. Under it, a court that hears secret national security matters decides whether to let the National Security Agency collect emails, documents and other internet communications in government surveillance programs known as Prism and Upstream.

The Prism program collects communications from internet services directly. The Upstream program collects data as it travels across the internet. The programs target people outside the US, but do collect the communications of Americans who communicate with the targets of spies overseas.

Details of those programs became public in 2013 when former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed them to journalists, who published stories in the Guardian and The Washington Post. After those disclosures, the government declassified information about the programs and began publishing annual transparency reports about the use of the surveillance tools.

The original deadline to renew the surveillance powers passed on Dec. 31 without a debate on the floor of either house on potential reforms. Congress voted to extend the programs temporarily until Jan. 19. The Senate must also now vote to renew the powers before the programs can be extended further.

US intelligence agencies have pressed lawmakers to preserve the programs. In a letter to Congress signed by US Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the heads of the NSA, FBI, Central Intelligence Agency, officials said losing the authority to run these surveillance programs would put the country’s national security in danger. “Section 702 has been instrumental in preventing attacks on the homeland and removing terrorists from the battlefield,” the letter said.

The biggest sticking point for privacy advocates, including the ACLU, has been a policy allowing the FBI to bypass getting a warrant before accessing emails and other communications of Americans collected by the NSA under these programs.

An amendment that would have required the FBI to obtain a warrant to access information in the NSA’s database failed in the House on Thursday. The bill extending the surveillance programs does require the FBI to get a warrant by arguing they have probable cause to search the NSA’s database in open investigations that don’t involve national security or terrorism. That requirement doesn’t extend to open FBI investigations of terrorism and national security cases.

Demand Progress, a civil-liberties focused advocacy group, condemned the House for voting down the amendment. “By failing to close the backdoor search loophole in this bill, which exposes millions of innocent Americans to warrantless government surveillance, members of Congress have ceded incredible domestic spying powers to the executive branch,” the organization said in a statement.

In debate on the amendment, Rep. Bob Goodlatte, a Republican from Virginia, argued that putting in place the warrant requirement would hinder the FBI’s efforts to prevent terrorism attacks in the US.

“This amendment, plain and simple, would disable 702, our most important national security tool,” he said.

His arguments echoed concerns that requiring a warrant even in cases directly related to national security — rather than other types of criminal investigations — would put up dangerous barriers to communication between US intelligence agencies. After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the intelligence community came under scrutiny for failing to share information with each other about the alleged perpetrators before the attacks.

In December, Snowden chimed in on what he and privacy advocates call a “back door” given to other intelligence agencies. He joined ACLU lawyers to answer questions on a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” forum and highlighted the issue of incidentally collected emails and other communications.

“These ‘incidentally collected’ communications of Americans can then be kept and searched at any time, without a warrant. Does that sound right to you?” Snowden said.

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Chelsea Manning confirms Democratic run for Senate with …

Chelsea Manning, the former US army private who was imprisoned for passing information to WikiLeaks, has confirmed she will run for a US Senate seat.

A federal election filing, made on Thursday, showed Mannings intention to run in the November elections as a Democrat. On Sunday, the former intelligence analyst tweeted: Yup, were running for Senate #WeGotThis.

Mannings entry to the Democratic primary will range her against Ben Cardin, the senior senator from Maryland who has served since 2007.

The senior Democrat on the Senate foreign affairs committee, Cardin has emerged as a key party voice on investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, in which WikiLeaks released thousands of emails belonging to the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

In 2012, facing a primary challenge from an African American state senator and seven other candidates, Cardin won 74% of the vote.

A representative for Manning did not respond to a request for comment.

The video tweeted by Manning began with scenes of protest and police action and a voiceover that said: We live in trying times. Times of fear, of suppression, of hate. We dont need more or better leaders. We need someone willing to fight.

The video then switched to pictures of Congress in session and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and minority leader Chuck Schumer meeting Donald Trump at the White House.

We need to stop asking them to give us our rights, the voiceover said. They wont support us. They wont compromise. We need to stop expecting that our systems will somehow fix themselves.

The video showed Manning walking down the middle of a major road, then standing in front of a graffiti-covered wall, holding a rose.

We need to actually take the reins of power from them, it said. We need to challenge them at every level. We need to fix this. We dont need them anymore. We can do better. Youre damn right #WeGotThis.

Manning also tweeted a link for campaign donations.

Now 30, Manning was sentenced in 2013 to 35 years in jail, for her part in the 2010 leak of more than 700,000 documents and videos to news outlets including the Guardian and the New York Times.

Her sentence was commuted by President Obama, shortly before the end of his second term in office. Manning was released from Fort Leavenworth military prison in Kansas in May 2017, having spent seven years in custody.

Manning, who was formerly known as Bradley and who attempted suicide while in prison, is now a writer and activist who has been a columnist for the Guardian.

Donald Trump has criticised Manning. In January 2017, responding to the commutation of her sentence, he tweeted: Ungrateful TRAITOR Chelsea Manning, who should never have been released from prison, is now calling President Obama a weak leader. Terrible!

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Chelsea Manning, convicted of giving military documents to …

Chelsea Manning, the transgender Maryland woman convicted of sharing thousands of military documents with Wikileaks, has filed her candidacy to challenge Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin in this years election.

Manning declared her intentions Jan. 5 with the Federal Election Commission, which posted the document on its website Thursday. She is running as a Democrat.

Manning, a 30-year-old Oklahoma native, had previously lived in Montgomery County before enlisting in the Army and eventually facing a court-martial for leaking classified and sensitive information. She moved back to Maryland last year after President Obama commuted her 35-year sentence in the final days of his administration.

She is at least the fourth candidate lined up to unseat Cardin, according to state election records, but by far the most well known. Previously known as Bradley Manning, she has been held up as a heroic whistle-blower and denounced as a traitor for revealing information about military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and about detainees at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Cardin, who served 20-year tenures in the Maryland House of Delegates and the U.S. House of Representatives before succeeding retiring U.S. Sen. Paul Sarbanes in 2007, is not considered particularly vulnerable to challenge.

He had an approval rating of 50% as recently as October, according to Morning Consult. That was around the middle of the pack for all senators and 2 percentage points higher than that of Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen, a Democrat who won the race to replace former Sen. Barbara Mikulski in 2016.

Cardins campaign had about $2 million on hand as of Sept. 30, according to federal campaign finance records.

Representatives for Cardin did not immediately return calls for comment Saturday.

Conservative news outlet Red Maryland first reported Mannings candidacy.

Federal election documents list Mannings campaign committee address as an apartment tower in North Bethesda. They do not show any campaign finance reports for Mannings campaign.

Manning could not immediately be reached for comment.

The day after Manning filed her candidacy, the television network Showtime announced that later this year it would air a documentary called XY Chelsea that follows her release from prison. Among the documentarys executive producers is Laura Poitras, who produced Citizenfour, a documentary about another famous leaker, Edward Snowden.

Manning has not discussed her Senate campaign on Twitter, but has recently weighed in on political issues there. On Tuesday, which was National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, she stirred controversy when she tweeted … the police, and then, police kill hundreds of people every year with absolute impunity.

When U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents raided 7-Eleven stores around the country on Wednesday, she tweeted, so @icegov is literally the new gestapo.

She has written about transgender rights and bullying in columns published on the website Medium. Last year, she wrote a column for the Guardian opposing compromise in politics.

We need to stop asking them to give us our rights, she wrote. We need to actually take the reins of government and fix our institutions.

When another Twitter user criticized Mannings diatribe on police last week and said have fun never voting again, she responded that she was registered to vote despite her criminal record: state of maryland doesnt disenfranchise.

Marylands primary election will be held June 26. The general election is Nov. 6.

Dance writes for the Baltimore Sun.

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