Monday, June 10, 2013

When I Am Wrong,  I Admit that I Am Wrong:  Case In Point “Obama Defends Mining Data, Why Should We Trust Him?”

There are many times that I make a statement or write a blog where I think that my fingers work  faster than my thoughts or vice versa.   In the case,  of the above mentioned blog where I have accused POTUS Obama and the legislators of not being ‘briefed on the NSA’ and ‘privacy issues’,  I stand corrected.
  From further examination of the records and more specifically my reading of an excellent,  Sunday, June 9, 2013,  NY Times article entitled, "How U.S . Agency Uses New Technology To Delve Ever Deeper" written by James Risen and Eric Lichtblau,  I stand in awe of what the NSA has really accomplished in just the past several years.
  In part, my attitude to the new modern surveillance techniques really stem from my own ignorance regarding the rapid advancement of the technology employed by the NSA and other Intelligence Organization.   Quite frankly,   I was trained in HUMINT, and like an ‘old war horse’,   I resort to those experiences that seemed best to fit my own professional background which was exceedingly limited with regards to ELINT, SIGINT, IMINT, etc. 
  Once we in the intel community thought that the “internet appeared too overwhelming for N.S.A,  to keep with, the recent revelations suggest that the agency’s capabilities are now greater than most outsiders believed.”
  Even after attending some AFCEA Conferences on Cyber War,   I had no idea how INCREDIBLY VAST and RESPONSIBLE with this RAPID GROWTH OF DATA COLLECTION.
  Let me cite from the NY Times article.
 “In March 13, 2013, there were 97 billion pieces of data that the N.S.A sweeps up around the world.  14% was from Iran,  much was from Pakistan, and about 3 percent came from inside the USA, though some of that came from inside the US involving foreign data traffic routed through American –based servers.”
  The article goes on to explain how explosive the new digital age has become in only the past two years:
“Because of smartphones,  tablets,  social media sites,  e-mail, and other forms of digital communications,  the world CREATES 2.5 QUINTRILLION BYTES of new data daily.”
  Whew!!! What is “QUINTRILLION”?   I thought GOOGLE  was a number beyond which one could not conceive but now we have “QUINTRILLION”. 
  Now you get some idea what the NSA and other modern surveillance techniques are up against.
  As I mentioned numerous times before,  I first trained in the internet and social media in 1973 at MIT.   That course was DARPA’s and CIA’s GIFT TO THE FUTURE OF AMERICAN SECURITY.   At the time,  the internet and social media seemed to be a limited experiment in technology and political science.   But who knew then how important it would become in the evolution of mankind and the devolution of nation state?   When we started writing the Tom Clancy’s Net Force Series,  some twenty years ago,  we had no idea of how rapid and how extensive 'METADATA' would become.   This was way back when in the dinosaur era  before  twitter,  facebook,  instagram etc.    I find that I am still a troglodyte when it comes to digital technology and its implications for national security.   I do not have any of the aforementioned advanced accoutrements.   I have a talented staff of a young genius handling my blogs and Facebook pages.  I am not cool with technology,  I have a lot to learn and hope to do so.   Not easy, things change so fast…..WE are HERE in the Information Age which is very different than the Industrial Age!!   Many of our institutions have some catching up to do:  educational system stuck in the agricultural age,  military still fighting in the industrial age…you get it.  We need new laws,  new systems,  new government (much leaner, less costly)  to match up with the new age!  

  Despite my lack of technical knowledge,  I do know something about people .
  Thank God for little gifts.
  I have met,  on different informal occasions,  General Keith B. Alexander,  the Director of the NSA and Commander, United States Cyber Command.
General Alexander is a BRANIAC. 
  He is one of the most brilliant , modest and patriotic men,  that I have met.
  I found him to be sincere, thoughtful and extremely funny.
Why is that important?
In the world of the brilliant and talented,  a General Alexander is a rarity who takes his responsibilities of national security and issues of constitutional concern seriously, thoughtfully, and with a clear sense of perspective about himself and his accomplishments as both the Director of the NSA and the First Commander, US Cyber Command.
He has more degrees than I and he is a lot funnier than I am.    He is a charismatic speaker and motivator when it comes to the field of Cyber War and the need for America to be prepared.
Look up his biography and see some of his lectures on You Tube.
  In fact,  perhaps the only constructive suggestion that I might make at this point in time in our national discussion on privacy and the NSA is that General Alexander or others inform the public in a simple way what some of the key issues are and will be with regards to Cyber War and collection of Metadata.    It’s time for the military to instruct the American civilians as to what this new digital era means to us as citizens and patriots.
  I stand corrected in my mistakes and apologize for any  incorrect impressions,  I might have conveyed. 
  But do stand in awe of what one man, General Keith B. Alexander has wrought in just a few short years.
  May we all learn about Metadata, Big Data and the  functions of the NSA,  Cyber Command and other important Intelligence agencies that by nature and habit remain in the shadows of democracy.
  Maybe it’s time to allow us,  the citizens of America,  to learn about OSINT. 
General Alexander is the new type of military leader—The Scholar/Cyber Warrior with an incredible sense of decency, patriotism, and concern about our constitution.


  1. Oh really?

    How many terrorist events have been prevented using these tool?

    I can answer that.....NONE!

    They HAVE HOWEVER been used to zero in on ideological opponants of American policy, individuals FALSELY accused of "providing aid to terrorist organizations..." etc.

    In a recent post you said you admired Hezbollah...for example.

    Hezbobllah is listed as a terrorist organization according to the US government, and if you did so much as sell a sandwich to one of them you will find yourself a target of the US police-state grid and among the tools arrayed against you will be this data collection.

    So far the only people convicted of terrorist acts have either been...

    1.people cooperating with FBI-created terror plots, or,

    2.lone wolf characters who have no support from anyone and who've not been communicating with anyone.

    Dr. P think on that please.

    The targets of these tools are not terrorists but simply anyone opposed to US policy.

  2. Furthermore....

    The leaker of this information, Mr. Snowden, to the press is now of course being labeled a "traitor" and perpetrator of "treason" by the neocons and other fanatics.

    Please bear in mind that in order for someone to commit treason they have to be working on behalf of an enemy power. That's what treason is.

    It's not treason to give information to a legitimate journalistic source so they can inform the public of the country in whose name the actions are carried out.

    Just because someone violates secrecy doesn't mean there's any treason involved.

    In the Manning case currently underway the government has to meet this burdon, and to seek to do so they are alleging that because Osama bin-Laden looked at Manning's wikileaks content that Manning "worked on behalf" of bin-Laden.

    What they are not able to show however is that there was anything in the content which bin-Laden could make any use of, much less that Manning had any intent that he do so [which he clearly did not].

  3. None Dare Call it Treason

    1. As an MIT'er I just want to say how proud I am that Danny Ellsberg is coming out in defense of Edward Snowden and to denounce these programs of the NSA.

      Danny Ellsberg may look like a nerd and policy wonk, as he is a true intellectual.

      But he is also a former Marine, a "man's man," a stud, and someone who has always maintained his ties to MIT, where I used to see him in the 1980s, usually with Jack Ruina and George Rathjens.

      Danny Ellsberg is a man of integrity, and was never wanting for the affections of women. Ellsberg is a lady's man, and from what I heard was, or is, an absolute stud who is adored by girls for his love-making prowess.

  4. Watch out CBS! That "Person of Interest" series is, no doubt, revealing state secrets.

  5. Alexander is a parser and a prevaricator, just like your other favorite Ambassador Pickering...he is meeting with the Senate on Tuesday, and you again, will offer your readers a mea culpa. Just because you "meet" with someone, his goal is merely to keep you at arm's length and present a postive first impression. You have not gotten inside his head--his propensity to hold his cards close to his chest.


    Did you go to the 1964 NY Worlds Fair?'s_Fair

    The Bell Labs Telephone (before AT&T monopoly) pavillion with their "picture phone" technology amazed me at the time...

    Who woulda thought that in our real time 1984, it was nothing like Orwell predicted; yet in 2013, we have far exceeded the prescient novel?

    Ron Paul was just debating Peter Principle DCI Woolsely on Piers Morgan CNN. Spooky Woolsely was doublespeaking-denying any breach of the 4th amendment-what a moron. The snooping on his privacy could come back to haunt him if he ever flipped, especially since he is a supporter of Israel...Paul was articulate and informative: The government is surreptitious and shredding our constitution, plain and simple.

    Atty: "Why is the government spying on its own people without ANY PROBABLE CAUSE?"

    CNN Producer stole the guests from Huckabee's Saturday night program...flattery will get you ratings.

    Piers, THE REDCOAT, who has apparently grown quite acclimated to his lifestyle in sunny Beverly Hills, was quite logical...and refreshing.


    Many states have laws against recording calls. How does that past muster with NSA BREACHES?


    Here is a link for future image posting on your commentary:

    And these in particular...

    1. First CNN gave us Glenn Beck, and now they offer us Piers Morgan...

      Why don't they offer us next maybe Charlie Sheen.

  6. Say it ain't so, say it ain't so.

    One man's apparent humanity, charm, and smarts does not make a system safe from abuse.

    Systems are greater than any one man and are subject to group think.

    This is directed at the American People to TRACK their communications for internal, domestic political control and prediction of future habits for later analysis and ultimately political, even possibly physical control.

    I do not want my electronic habits put under surveillance by the government for later use as justification for singling me out for possible political crimes, just like in the old former Soviet Union.

    That would be Amerika... FUCK THAT SHIT.

    What did I do to be treated like a criminal and a subject of an all powerful government instead of being the sovereign along with all the millions of other American citizens.

    Dr. Pieczenik, you worked for us, the American People. You do what we, the sovereigns, assign & delegate, no more.

    I pray your mind-set is rejected by the American People. This attitude of yours is a threat to the safety & security and freedom of the American People.

    It is a threat to the Republic.

    It is offensive and wrong.

    Yes, it has been going on for years, started by the W. Bush administration [** likely even before that in different form, i.e. Main Core], but it has been expanded by the Obama administration, and it now has been officially acknowledged to be happening.

    ** The following is how Wikipedia describes Main Core…

    "Main Core is the code name of a database maintained since the 1980s by the federal government of the United States. Main Core contains personal and financial data of millions of U.S. citizens believed to be threats to national security. The data, which comes from the NSA, FBI, CIA, and other sources, is collected and stored without warrants or court orders. The database’s name derives from the fact that it contains “copies of the ‘main core’ or essence of each item of intelligence information on Americans produced by the FBI and the other agencies of the U.S. intelligence community.”

    Apparently, the government is building on that earlier effort.

    It's one thing to suspect activity is taking place -- spying on Americans -- it is another to have official acknowledgment of this spying.

    So-called experts say, "Move along, nothing to see, here." But these so-called experts have their financial livihood involved in supporting a surveillance, national security state.

    These so-called experts have been "swimming" in the self-justifications for the need of spying on the American People, many for their entire professional career.

    General Alexander suffers from the same debilitations as other so-called experts in Surveillance technology... they want to use all the technology possible... in this case to spy on the American People for internal, domestic political reasons.

    Signal intelligence collected outside the United States or communications across international borders is reasonable.

    Spying on Americans in a systematic process of electronic surveillance of communications is equivalent to physically opening mail or tapping telephone communications.

    Because if you think the NSA or somebody else doesn't go farther than what we now know is happening, I got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.

    Sorry Dr. Pieczenik, you are too close to this issue. On this you are a mechanic, your past & previous associations and actions make your judgment suspect in this situation.

    1. More on Main Core:

      "A host of publicly disclosed programs, sources say, now supply data to Main Core. Most notable are the NSA domestic surveillance programs, initiated in the wake of 9/11, typically referred to in press reports as “warrantless wiretapping.” In March, a front-page article in the Wall Street Journal shed further light onto the extraordinarily invasive scope of the NSA efforts: According to the Journal, the government can now electronically monitor “huge volumes of records of domestic e-mails and Internet searches, as well as bank transfers, credit card transactions, travel, and telephone records.” Authorities employ “sophisticated software programs” to sift through the data, searching for “suspicious patterns.” In effect, the program is a mass catalog of the private lives of Americans. And it’s notable that the article hints at the possibility of programs like Main Core. “The [NSA] effort also ties into data from an ad-hoc collection of so-called black programs whose existence is undisclosed,” the Journal reported, quoting unnamed officials. “Many of the programs in various agencies began years before the 9/11 attacks but have since been given greater reach.”

      I think we are just scratching the surface of how much the government is spying on the American People.

      Dr. Pieczenik, are you comfortable having ALL your electronic communications & transactions monitored and recorded by the government?

    2. I agree completely. Dr.P has a serious pattern of wishful thinking about characters he works with in government. I understand this. When I did government work we were all on the same team, and certain leaders were very adept at portraying themselves in ways which reflected integrity.

      But then there would arise those particular situations where my conscience would kick in and I'd have to put aside my personal loyalties and comradship and admit to myself that...


      That's why I left government work.

    3. The Christian messiah said many will come in my name, and that the way you could tell the real profits from the evil ones was through their fruits.

      This is a critical lesson.

      You can be working with someone, or in a system where you've adopted doctrines and ideologies which seem to be benign, but then you look around at the real results of what
      you're doing and you wake up and yell...


      What's so benign about that?

  7. The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI's Manufactured War on Terrorism by Trevor Aaronson and published by Ig Publishing, 2013.

    March 2013:
    A groundbreaking work of investigative journalism, The FBI has, under the guise of engaging in counterterrorism since 9/11, built a network of more than 15,000 informants whose primary purpose is to infiltrate Muslim communities to create and facilitate phony terrorist plots so that the Bureau can then claim it is winning the war on terror

    "For more than a decade, the FBI has thrown as much as it can toward an effort to stop the “next” terrorist attack. Every year, the U.S. government allocates $3 billion to the FBI to prevent the next 9/11, more money than the Bureau receives to combat organized crime. But what an analysis of ten years’ worth of Justice Department data shows is that Islamic terrorism in the United States is not an immediate and dangerous threat. The FBI’s thousands of informants and billions of dollars have not resulted in the capture of dozens of killers ready and able to bomb a crowded building or gun down people in a suburban shopping mall. Instead, the FBI’s trawling in Muslim communities has resulted largely in sting operations that target easily susceptible men on the margins of society, men like Michael Curtis Reynolds. Since 9/11, the FBI and the Justice Department have labeled as terrorists a mentally troubled man who worked at Walmart, a video game store clerk whose only valuable possession was a set of ste­reo speakers, a university student who was about to be evicted from his apartment, and a window washer who had dropped out of college, among others. All of these men were involved in FBI terrorism stings in which an informant came up with the idea and provided the necessary means and opportunity for the terrorist plot. While we have captured a few terrorists since 9/11, we have manufactured many more."

    1. "The Patriot Act, Section 215 violates the Fourth Amendment by allowing the government to effect Fourth Amendment searches without a warrant and without showing probable cause.
      •The violation of the Fourth Amendment is made more egregious by the fact that Section 215 might be used to obtain information about the exercise of First Amendment rights. For example, the FBI could invoke Section 215 to require a library to produce records showing who had borrowed a particular book or to produce records showing who had visited a particular web site.
      •Section 215 might also be used to obtain material that implicates privacy interests other than those protected by the First Amendment. For example, the FBI could use Section 215 to obtain medical records.
      •The provision violates the First Amendment by prohibiting those served with Section 215 orders from disclosing that fact to others, even where there is no real need for secrecy.
      •The provision violates the First Amendment by effectively authorizing the FBI to investigate U.S. persons, including American citizens, based in part on their exercise of First Amendment activity, and by authorizing the FBI to investigate non-U.S. persons based solely on their exercise of First Amendment activity.
      •The provision violates the Fourth and Fifth Amendments by failing to require that those who are the subject of Section 215 orders be told that their privacy has been compromised.
      Doesn't the government need these powers?
      •The government already has the authority to prosecute anyone whom it has probable cause to believe has committed or is planning to commit a crime. It also has the authority to engage in surveillance of anyone whom it has probable cause to believe is a foreign power or spy - whether or not the person is suspected of any crime.
      •Section 215 takes away a great deal of our liberty and privacy but isn't likely to get us any security in return.
      •There's a real possibility that setting the FBI loose on the American public will have a profound chilling effect on public discourse. If people think that their conversations and their e-mails are their reading habits are being monitored, people will inevitably feel less comfortable saying what they think, especially if what they think is not what the government wants them to think."

  8. Dr. Pieczenik,

    Your initial 'nose' was right. The NSA has been doing this since the mid-80s; I know, so was I. While Alexander's CV is impressive, so what. You can't get a Masters or PhD in morals, and "legal" is easy to convince people to give them.

    1. The area of wiretaps has always been legally skirted.

      Illegal wiretaps have always been practiced by the FBI, local law enforcement, and intel operators.

      No one has ever taken the prohibitions against wiretaps seriously because it's easy to conceal that the activity is going on and the yield is tremendous.

      If someone's under suspicion and you don't have enough for probably cause it's just too efficient to do the wiretap anyway, and if it produces nothing then no one knows any different.

      That's what at the heart of this problem, and why so many reasonable government people are not bothered by it.

    2. The simple truth is that everyone doing anything, or people like me with government experience, always assume that everything is being watched anyway.

      The huge fallacy of this kind of thing by the government is that anyone involved in terrorism is going to assume that everything is being watched.

      This is the reason why nothing has been produced by these methods.

      This whole matter is one of the bureaucracy growing way out of control simply because they can. They all need jobs, and they can always alarm the Congress into coughing up the coin they want.

    3. There was a novel called "Body of Lies" in which the thesis was that by 2003 all al-qaeda operators had stopped using email and cellphones for communications and were using other means.

      Uh Duh....

      I think that was based on fact.

      NSA isn't full of morons.

      They know full well they will yield nothing with these tools.

  9. During the 1950s the Pentagon spent about seven percent of GDP, an enormous amount. However this was never enough for them. They always wanted more..more..more....

    The national security bureaus are the most greedy of any in government when it comes to budgets and money AND THEY HAVE NO PROBLEM LYING TO CONGRESS TO GET THE MONEY THEY WANT.

    Fortunately throughout the 1950s the US had President Eisenhower, who was totally on to this con. Because no one could challenge Eisenhower's military credentials no one in the services could complain when he would slash requests. Eisenhower alone kept the military from spending the US into bankruptcy. His favorite method for such was simply to re-frame the general strategic plans every year so that the missions the services were responsible for could not grow endlessly [like they have been doing since 9-11].

    After Eisenhower left poor JFK had to knuckle-under to the Pentagon however, and their spending increased to 10% of GNP by 1963. But by that time he'd realized what was happening, and he began to trim the Pentagon's abilities for more request, not by tweeking the strategic plans but by denying their specific programs to meet those plans.

    When he did this it appeared that he was denying them the tools they needed to carry out the strategies he himself had given them, and this pissed them off.

    1. Changing the plans.

      Yes, only Eisenhower could get away with that.

      Highly effective. Eisenhower principly changed doctrine from mass conventional ground warfare to a nuclear deterrent, strategic strike capability, secondary response & retaliation capability -- in short MAD.

      It has worked... for now.

      What is needed is GOOD government policies:

      Reform banking

      Reform taxes

      Reform trade

      Identify abuse

      Hold accountable

      The American People are ready for a platform of Good Government.

      How that is articulated... that's another matter.

    2. It's hard to do when anyone with any money made it by the corruption you so accurately describe.

      And the figures like Alex Jones and other such personalities who rally people lose their credibility when they do insane things, or corrupt things themselves. Jones and his ilk are money-motivated just like the crooks they claim to oppose.

      Is there any leadership out there?

      The Tea Party started out as a libertarian movement against statism but then MORPHED INTO A LOBBY FOR THE IRAQ WAR....go figure.

      The principles of liberty which spawned this country are not discredited because the founders also believed in a lot of other things modern people don't like for political reasons....

      Such as plutocratic rule and discrimination against racial minorities, the un-educated, etc....

      Today's civic culture is based on the interests of a financial elite, as opposed to merchants and property owners of the 18th century.

      Today's civic culture is a runaway train of financial interests with a SMOKESCREEN OF 'TOLERANCE' and 'INCLUSION' to make the sheep think we live in a more democratic age when in fact things HAVE NEVER BEEN LESS DEMOCRATIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      "So you think we live in a DEMOCRACY?"

      ----- Gordon Gekko

    3. I meant to say the principles of liberty are NOW discredited, RATHER THAN 'NOT' DISCREDITED.