Is the US drone program overseas, state sponsored terrorism?

Yes it is. By the rules of international law an intervention on foreign soil is an act of war. If there is not a declared war between the two countries then it is a unilateral decision to attack another without the “correct” mandate.

Former CIA and NSA Director, Michael Hayden

In any other case that is referred to as “terrorism” when carried out by a proscribed organization or a nation.

Over 3000 Pakistanis have been killed in US drone strikes targeting a few dozen or so “known” terrorists. Obama has been under heavy scrutiny for authorizing drone campaigns that result in gross mistakes, killing a great number of innocent people while targeting “confirmed terrorists.”

Since 2004, there have been 401 US drone strikes in Afghanistan, alone, killing 3,058 people total. In Pakistan, hundreds, including children, have died in pursuit of a mere two dozen declared terrorists.

In 2014, the former director of both the CIA and NSA, Michael Hayden, proudly claimed they “kill people based on metadata”, using drones – but not the right people in most cases and the source of the information used to determine the “terrorist” classification has been shown to be hopelessly flawed via an NSA program named SKYNET.

The war on extremists is acceptable – the “collateral” casualties as they are called – which demonstrates the lack of value placed on innocent lives – is terrorism – pure and simple.

About SKYNET

SKYNET is a program by the U.S. National Security Agency that performs machine learning analysis on communications data to extract information about possible terror suspects. The tool is used to identify targets, such as al-Qaeda couriers, who move between GSM cellular networks. These couriers often swap SIM cards within phones that have the same ESN, MEID or IMEI number.

The tool uses classification techniques like random forest analysis. Because the data set includes a very large proportion of true negatives and a small training set, there is a risk of overfitting. Bruce Schneier argues that a false positive rate of 0.008% would be low for commercial applications where “if Google makes a mistake, people see an ad for a car they don’t want to buy” but “if the government makes a mistake, they kill innocents.”

The SKYNET project was linked with drone systems, thus creating the potential for false-positives to lead to deaths. Al-Jazeera’s bureau chief in Islamabad, Ahmad Zaidan, was wrongly identified as the most probable member of al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood on their records.

Despite the fact it is improbable to be a member of both groups, he is also widely and publicly known for traveling to meet with radical groups, but was instead identified due to mobile phone surveillance placing him in rural locations.

This has been seen to show the failing of the system, as it has misidentified a journalist conducting legitimate, public business as a potential terrorist, whilst also harming freedom of the press and breaking US law on surveillance of journalists.

Source: SKYNET – Wiki

END.

So You Want To Be A Digital Ghost – Introduction

This series of posts are provided as a guide to the private citizen who holds concerns regarding their information security and the protection of their data from unauthorized access from state and non-state actors.

This information is not intended for use for any other purpose in particular to access the deep web or dark net to conduct illegal transactions or engage in illegal activities.

Caveat

The implementation of these guides are intended for legal use and not to facilitate acts of criminality – these guides are for those of us who seek to protect our privacy in the belief that in a democracy every law abiding individual is entitled to a private life.

Caveat on the Caveat 

These posts are not intended to be Blackhat however like any hints and tips on any subject they can be used the wrong way.

If you are the type of person who feels the need to use internet to hire a hit-man to shoot your dog, buy poor viagra substitutes online or trade bomb making tips with your jihadi buddies then these guides are just as effective but …..

You also leave non-digital footprints and the forums which you may intend to visit, using the anonymity tools and tips described herein, are no doubt compromised and riddled with honeypots and lurking super secret squirrels and in those we trust.

Getting What You Want 

Some readers looking for answers / hacks / links / shortcuts will be aware of elements of the content of these posts and to avoid frustration a section at the top of each new post will call out what subject is being discussed in that post and what sub categories it contains – for example:

POST: Internet Censorship Software & Workarounds
Sub-Categories: Blue Coat Systems; SmartFilter; Fortinet; Websense; Netsweeper; Making Invisible Spyware Footprints Visible; Keyloggers; Malware Detection; Man in the Middle; TSCM; 

You will then be able to jump to the section you are interested in – or wholly ignore the post – or patiently wait for your section of interest. This series will run for twelve months with three posts per week so thats 156 pearls of wisdom riddled, real life expertise indispensable posts for you.

A complete contents and navigation guide will be included in the next post with the subject of each post, sub-categories, a clickable link and an intended publication date.

Subscribe to New Posts

To be notified as each post is published please subscribe to the blog – over there on the right – yes over there in the right column at the top where it says “Follow by Email”.

No new content, no email for you – ever – and we won’t sell your email details to the NSA either and we are subpoena proof too so we can’t be forced to either.

END. 

Understanding NSA / INR Security Classifications on Intelligence Assessments

The misuse and mishandling of sensitive information by Hillary Clinton and her staffers at Foggy Bottom during her tenure as Secretary of State was a criminal act.

Clinton apologists seek to dilute the gravity of the situation and describe it as “no big deal.” Obfuscation does not change the fact that the placing of highly classified information on an unclassified and unencrypted network is a very serious matter. But what does it actually mean? What type of information was misused.

IC analysts write “finished” intelligence assessments based on multiple information sources every day and then classify them according to their content and the sensitivity / source of the information contained therein. These assessments are authored every day by analysts at multiple American intelligence agencies and offices, then shared with senior leadership.

The Secretary of State is always a top consumer of such intelligence.

The State Department has its own in-house intelligence analysis shop, termed the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) to meet their department’s need for additional classified assessments and reporting.

Classifications are: TOPSECRET//SI//TK//NOFORN

What follows is a short intelligence assessment of the kind U.S. Government officials read every single day, made up by The XX Committee but adhering to the style and substance of what would be produced by an IC analyst.

TOPSECRET//SI//TK//NOFORN 


(S) Economic, Political Problems for Zendia Ahead 

(TS//SI) The Zendian Ambassador to Dirtbagistan believes it is increasingly likely that his country will fail to make its next International Monetary Fund (IMF) payment, scheduled for mid-September. This IMF payment of 475 billion Zendian wangos ($8.4 billion) is beyond his government’s ability to pay, Ambassador Abu Travolta explained to a senior member of his country’s Ministry of Finance (believed to be Deputy Finance Minister Abu Nugent) on 12 August. The ambassador further opined that, in the event of this likely default, the government of Prime Minister Barack Dukakis would not last long, politically. For this reason the Zendian government is going to great lengths to prevent word of the impending IMF default from reaching the media, according to Ambassador Travolta. 

(TS//SI//TK) This information was supported by Zendian Deputy Foreign Minister Abu Bon Jovi, who last week informed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) that budget constraints, which he expected to get significantly worse in mid-September, meant that MFA payrolls may not be met upon “something big” happening then. This is believed to be a reference to a possible default on Zendia’s IMF loan. 

(S//NF) According to U.S. Government information obtained from multiple agencies, Ambassador Travolta is a well-connected member of the ruling party and is close to Prime Minister Dukakis. He has a track record of accurate predictions about forthcoming events in his country. 

(FOUO) According to media reports, Ambassador Travolta has been experiencing health problems (NFI) which may indicate his willingness to be unusually frank with fellow members of the Zendian ruling party. 

(U) This situation will be updated as soon as additional information becomes available. 

TOPSECRET//SI//TK//NOFORN

Analyzing the Context of the Classifications

TOPSECRET//SI//TK//NOFORN at the top and bottom of an assessment reflects the highest classification levels of anything incorporated in an assessment. Only people cleared to that level — a very high one — can read a report with this classification.

Each report has a title slug reflecting what it’s about. It’s classified S for SECRET then each paragraph has its classification stated in parentheses at the beginning. This is called “portion marking” by the IC.

The first paragraph is classified TOPSECRET, the highest “official” classification in the U.S. Government, while the addition of SI, meaning Special Intelligence, indicates this is very sensitive stuff. SI is a security caveat that falls under the rubric of Sensitive Compartmented Information or SCI. Not everybody cleared for TOPSECRET also has access to SCI, that’s a separate matter and all SCI materials require special handling to protect them from compromise. Here, SI indicates that the paragraph is based on information from signals intelligence or SIGINT from NSA — in this case an intercepted phone call between two senior Zendian officials.

Although the report never states that this is SIGINT, the kind of information provided plus the SI caveat indicate this is based on NSA reporting, as anybody experienced with intelligence would immediately recognize.

The following paragraph is also based on NSA SIGINT, albeit from a different, even more sensitive source: the TK in its classification stands for TALENT KEYHOLE and indicates that information is derived from foreign communications intercepted by an intelligence satellite. This, again, is a conversation between top Zendian officials, so it’s valuable “horse’s mouth” information. Here two senior bureaucrats seem to corroborate each other, which is an important revelation.

The third paragraph has a lower classification, SECRET, is not based on SIGINT, and has the NOFORN caveat, meaning it cannot be shared with non-Americans (a good deal of NSA SIGINT, even at the TS/SI level, is shared with close foreign partners such as the Anglosphere Five Eyes countries). This paragraph is based on local classified assessments — probably from the US Embassy to Zendia as well as the CIA Station there — that are sent back as regular reports to Washington, DC about the political lay of the land in that country.

The last substantive paragraph isn’t classified at all but has the For Official Use Only marking, meaning it cannot be released to the public without official approval. It’s based on media reports, which represent an important source of information for the IC and the State Department.

OSINT & SIGINT

CIA’s Open Source Center is the IC’s hub for translating foreign media in many languages and, pound for pound, represents the best value in the Intelligence Community. Here, unclassified media (termed Open Source Intelligence or OSINT) by some, is used to round out the assessment, and how the analyst has reached a tentative conclusion based on that media is considered to be FOUO. NFI means No Further Information.

The last line is entirely unclassified, as indicated by the U at the beginning, and states simply that more information will be forthcoming on this issue as the analyst gets it. That last line is the only part of the assessment that is wholly unclassified and, in theory, could be released to the public without a cumbersome approval process: of course, taken alone it says nothing of interest, which perhaps is the point.

The larger point, however, is that, save that last line, absolutely none of the information in this assessment could be released to the public, or placed on any unclassified information system, by anybody, not even a cabinet secretary, without specific approval from outside agencies.

The SIGINT, in particular, is highly sensitive and could only be placed in unclassified channels with an explicit NSA (and probably Director of National Intelligence) go-ahead, which is rare. Even “talking around” such information, especially in written fashion, is unwise and usually represents a serious security breach, not to mention it may be illegal.

Acceptable Use of the Information

For example, this is how a top official who read that Zendian intelligence assessment might proceed:

1. “We’re hearing Zendia will probably default on its IMF loan.” (Marginally acceptable because there’s no attribution, no sources and methods are mentioned, though even so it’s really at least FOUO if it’s a cabinet secretary putting it in an unclassified email.)

2. “We’re getting intel that Zendia will probably default on its IMF loan.” (Unacceptable, a security violation, but not classified higher than SECRET due to lack of source attribution.)

3. “NSA says Zendia will default on its IMF loan in September.” (Absolutely unacceptable in any unclassified format, a compromise of TS//SI sources and methods….call the FBI.)

What exactly happened in the case of Hillary Clinton’s classified emails we don’t know yet, but the FBI is now on the case, and I’m sure the Bureau will eventually find out. What happens after that? It’s too soon to tell ….