Info on Russian Bulk Surveillance

Good information:

Russian law gives Russia’s security service, the FSB, the authority to use SORM (“System for Operative Investigative Activities”) to collect, analyze and store all data that transmitted or received on Russian networks, including calls, email, website visits and credit card transactions. SORM has been in use since 1990 and collects both metadata and content. SORM-1 collects mobile and landline telephone calls. SORM-2 collects internet traffic. SORM-3 collects from all media (including Wi-Fi and social networks) and stores data for three years. Russian law requires all internet service providers to install an FSB monitoring device (called “Punkt Upravlenia”) on their networks that allows the direct collection of traffic without the knowledge or cooperation of the service provider. The providers must pay for the device and the cost of installation.

Collection requires a court order, but these are secret and not shown to the service provider. According to the data published by Russia’s Supreme Court, almost 540,000 intercepts of phone and internet traffic were authorized in 2012. While the FSB is the principle agency responsible for communications surveillance, seven other Russian security agencies can have access to SORM data on demand. SORM is routinely used against political opponents and human rights activists to monitor them and to collect information to use against them in “dirty tricks” campaigns. Russian courts have upheld the FSB’s authority to surveil political opponents even if they have committed no crime. Russia used SORM during the Olympics to monitor athletes, coaches, journalists, spectators, and the Olympic Committee, publicly explaining this was necessary to protect against terrorism. The system was an improved version of SORM that can combine video surveillance with communications intercepts.

EDITED TO ADD (4/23): This article from World Policy Journal is excellent.

Posted on April 21, 2014 at 5:55 AM • 83 Comments

Comments

rcilApril 21, 2014 6:30 AM

So basically the same as the USA except here the cost of the monitoring technology is passed on to the end user or eaten by the taxpayer

AbstractionApril 21, 2014 6:33 AM

> "SORM is routinely used against political opponents and human rights activists to monitor them and to collect information to use against them in “dirty tricks” campaigns."

It is rather interesting where they got this one. I mean, there are numerous ways other than SORM to collect information. Also, there are not too many "dirty tricks" that require complex information gathering. Most that are most known don't require any information at all; exceptions may include interception of activists on their way to meetings (which obviously can be performed without any SORM at all).

> Russia has a national filtering system that can block foreign sites and it has used the threat of blockage to coerce western companies into removing objectionable postings.

It's not quite correct. We have a law that prescribes Internet providers to deny user access to... er... "Internet resource distributing harmful content" (with an official list of said 'harmful' content). Actual phrasing is rather inaccurate. So, providers do what they can - from denying access to specific URL to denying access to IP address to plain ignoring this obligation. Government ability to create actual "national filtering" that couldn't be bypassed easily and wouldn't cripple Internet access as a whole is... questionable at best.

EagleEyeApril 21, 2014 6:50 AM

For some reason I'm less bothered about the Russians monitoring my stuff than the Five Eyes.

AlexApril 21, 2014 6:58 AM

Also they are deploing free wi-fi in all Moscow subway.
Free as free cheese in mousetrap.

grey_olliApril 21, 2014 8:13 AM

Everything here is not new (thanks, captain!), except secrecy of courts.

Please provide a source/proof for the claim "Collection requires a court order, but these are secret and not shown to the service provider.".

bogoradApril 21, 2014 8:34 AM

It's funny how people that don't know squat always try to comment and generalize. Just some obvious points:

1. "System for Tactical Manhunt Activities" describes the meaning of the acronym "SORM" much better.

2. SORM can legally be used by ANY law enforcement agency - including the police, prosecutor's offices, customs enforcement, even the marshals.

3. Financial matters are NOT covered by SORM. There's a special agency in charge of 'financial intelligence'.

4. There is NO SORM-3. Just no such thing. It's a complete fabrication. Most of what is attributed to SORM-3 in this text is in fact a requirement of SORM-2.

5. Little known fact: when you use mobile data (i.e. access the internet via your mobile phone) there is no way for anybody to intercept the data - the equipment used by Russian cellphone service providers is just not equipped with the required software. Certainly one can listen on the uplink (and most probably is listening), but this data is not personalized.

wiredogApril 21, 2014 9:01 AM

Fun watching all the russian sock-puppets showing up here to push Putin's "Oh no! We don't do that." narrative.

AC2April 21, 2014 9:05 AM

Really Bruce...

" Since 1962, CSIS has been dedicated to finding ways to sustain American prominence and prosperity as a force for good in the world "

AC2April 21, 2014 9:15 AM

CSIS Chairman, Sam Nunn "During his tenure in the U.S. Senate, he served as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Permanent Subcommittee on
Investigations. He also served on the Intelligence and Small
Business Committees"

CSIS CEO, John Hamre "Before joining CSIS, he served as the 26th U.S.
deputy secretary of defense. Prior to holding that post, he was the under secretary of defense"

Sockpuppet ChorusApril 21, 2014 9:38 AM

@wiredog
Fun watching all the russian sock-puppets showing up here to push Putin's "Oh no! We don't do that." narrative.

Isn't it? It's like Deja Vu after watching all the Five Eyes sockpuppets.


David CarachiApril 21, 2014 10:22 AM

A humorous fact: The word 'sorm' in the Maltese language means 'ass' (as in bottom). An unfortunate choice of acronym.

BenniApril 21, 2014 10:57 AM

Of course the NSA could not withstand breaking into sorm. Fourth party collection is what they are calling this, and it can be assume, Snowden has his slides on that.

He should get an exfill to germany asap.

JApril 21, 2014 11:39 AM

@JP: You must be thinking of the "System for Operative Rinvestigative Mactivities" who are responsible for monitoring Macs operated by people who talk like Scooby Doo.

steveApril 21, 2014 11:55 AM

This is certainly big-brother-ism, but as far as I know, Russians still are not prevented or prohibited from using VPNs, overseas proxies etc.. Can anyone confirm or correct this? And I wonder whether doing so invites extra attention, or police raids, demands for encryption keys, etc..

hermanApril 21, 2014 12:14 PM

Sure, but the scale of SORM is three orders of magnitude smaller than what the 5 eyes are doing. So, Putin was correct in his comment that Russia doesn't have the capability, or the money to waste on a large scale NSA style drag net.

ilsatydApril 21, 2014 12:22 PM

@JP

> Wait... so the Russians use ENGLISH acronyms for their projects?

It's СОРМ (see-ow-er-em in Cyrillic).

@steve

> Russians still are not prevented or prohibited from using VPNs, overseas proxies etc.. Can anyone confirm or correct this?

Confrimed.

> And I wonder whether doing so invites extra attention, or police raids, demands for encryption keys, etc..

No (probably "not yet").

germanleague April 21, 2014 12:32 PM

Putin Puppets galore.

Last year Russia signed into law that the state is allowed to collect ALL data from the MODEM level in all Russian homes.

But yeah, Putin and Russia are completely innocent and a perfect nation.

Try coming back to Germany - cowards.

Chris AbbottApril 21, 2014 12:33 PM

@Alan:

Snowden didn't really choose to end up in Moscow. If he did, he wouldn't have had to live in the airport for almost 2 months. If he had wanted to give secrets to Russia and China, none of that would have happened. Russia is the last place he wants to be other than dead or in prison being tortured. I do hope he can make it to Germany.

RussianApril 21, 2014 1:34 PM

In Russia VPN, TOR, proxy, etc is not prohibited, but some dumb officials sometimes have taken the initiative to ban them. For fighting with pedophiles and terrorists, of course :)
And I didn't see "extra attention" about using encryption. FSB does not torture everyone who use TrueCrypt )

PS: I'am from Russia.

PravdaApril 21, 2014 1:54 PM


Comrades,

SORM bears little resemblance to the clever deceptions of Western propaganda arms. In truth, SORM consists of several kind grandmothers working from a cozy and well-kept house donated by a wealthy Russian philanthropist. Indeed, the official English translation of SORM is in fact Several Old Respectful Matriarchs.

When a Russian agency, after trying very hard to avoid it, at last must make a request for a "wiretap" or some type of special surveillance, they must ask one of the women of the house for permission. These women, in the tradition of Russian grandmothers, can be quite strict, and Russian officials spend many long hours carefully typing out their requests and deciding upon appropriate baked goods to bring with them when they deliver their requests.

After a long deliberation, in the very rare cases where the SORM women have not given the Russian officers a good scolding and sent them on their way, someone from SORM will then consult with one of Russia's many thriving civil liberties organisations.

If the civil liberties organization agrees to the surveillance, SORM will then make a final consultation with the target's (though in Russia the "target" is merely someone we want to help become a better person) mother or grandmother, explaining the unfortunate circumstances and asking, often over a nice meal at the SORM house, whether it would be all right for the Russian government to cautiously use some very, very mild, always respectful, electronic surveillance.

If and only if the target's mother or grandmother agrees, SORM will then assent to one hour of mild, respectful electronic surveillance between the hours of 1300 and 1500. During this hour, one of the SORM women will transcribe by hand the binary encodings of any electronic signals sent to or from the person that is to be helped. The transcriber will, needless to say, tactfully omit any material that she believes might be embarrassing or especially private (though the transcriber always has the right to speak to the person-to-be-helped's mother or grandmother). After the hour has expired, Russian officers must make an entirely new request for any additional surveillance.

So comrades, there you have it. SORM refers to kindly grandmothers who very occasionally authorize one hour of mild, respectful, manual electronic surveillance. Do not be misled by the American/Capitalist/Fascist propaganda arm called CSIS. Even though the CSIS report links to what may appear to be reputable human rights organisations, the deceptions of the West run very, very deep.

And now we must return to the truly miraculous reporting of the free Russian state press on the continuing efforts of the Western capitalist banksters to oppress Russian-speaking minorities in New Russia (previously known as Ukraine).

We hope that all of you in lands still darkened by the oppression of the Five Eyes are able to discern the glimmers of truth that shine brightly from the citadel of human hope.

grey_olliApril 21, 2014 1:57 PM

> 1. "System for Tactical Manhunt Activities" describes the meaning of the acronym "SORM" much better.
thanks, captain.


> 2. SORM can legally be used by ANY law enforcement agency - including the police, prosecutor's offices, customs enforcement, even the marshals.
I'm going to make a request for our police for stolen android device (w/o gsm) - just for fun. I bet that they will not find the device in a short time.
It SHOULD be easy to get it back with access to SORM equipment. But most police ppl 're not IT-aware, some of ISPs have a SORM only on paper, not in real, thus chances to find a stolen device by MAC w/o help of google reply to official request with resent IP and geolocation are much lower. =)


As about possibilities - the same abuse of power is possible at any location, didn't Snowden proved this for U$?

> 3. Financial matters are NOT covered by SORM. There's a special agency in charge of 'financial intelligence'.

thanks, captain.

> 4. There is NO SORM-3. Just no such thing. It's a complete fabrication. Most of what is attributed to SORM-3 in this text is in fact a requirement of SORM-2.
Ppl just do their work. Something not present now will appear sooner or later. Do I care about this when using tor/i2p/freenet? No.

> 5. Little known fact: when you use mobile data (i.e. access the internet via your mobile phone) there is no way for anybody to intercept the data - the equipment used by Russian cellphone service providers is just not equipped with the required software. Certainly one can listen on the uplink (and most probably is listening), but this data is not personalized.

Looks unproofable. I'd bet this is a lie. I bet on this having in background CCNA, 10 years net/os admin expirience and over a year as a programmere and over 2 as QA.
Generally if no assumed functionality that can't proof the inability to get the required functionality by attacking protocols, especially underlying ones.

Artem AgeevApril 21, 2014 2:19 PM

so much desinformation..

1. SORM is only for internet providers. So all other russian IT companies will deny FSB request if there is now court order. In fact, russian privacy law forbid to give personal data to any law enforcement without court orded (or legal base). So there are no "PRISM" in Russia.
2. There is now law in Russia, which will force the company to deny the fact that it gave some information to FSB (or others).
3. SORM is 100% passive thing. It connects to SPAN port on the router. So no MITM, no passive injection, no Https. Only ICQ chats, unencrypted SMTP and cleartext HTTP is visible. For example, even CIA spyes in Russia are advised to use gmail!
4. All Olimpic providers had SORM installed (like in other parts of Russia). No gmail, facebook and other httpS thing could be intercepted.
5. There is no know big FSB Data centers in Russia. All SORM's are 100% local and connected to local FSB HQ.
6. A lot of SORMs in Russia didnt even connected to power lines :). Biggest part of all SORMS have 1mbit ADSL connections to "Punkt Upravlenia". Try to sniff GEthernet with ADSL!
7. Doubtable that SORM can be used to capture "political opponents" emails because they all usually use facebook or twitter or gmail, which is encrypted by default.

I have listened for Putins speech and there is not a single words of lie about SORM and mass surveillance program in Russia.

DBApril 21, 2014 2:21 PM

"In Russia, we have plenty freedom. You can say whatever you want. They put you in jail."

AnuraApril 21, 2014 2:43 PM

I thought the shills on the Republican/Democrat issues were annoying, but at least this place isn't infested with them. The Russian sockpuppets don't seem to have boundries.

vas pupApril 21, 2014 2:50 PM

So, Russia and the US are closer on that subject to each other rather than closer to e.g. Sweden, Norway, Netherlands, etc.?

WinterApril 21, 2014 3:57 PM

There seems to be a joke about Russian lawyers that informs us about the Russian legal "due process": Bringing an expensive lawyer to a Russian court is as bringing expensive flowers to a funeral. It is considerate but will not change the outcome.

We all saw in the Chodorowski case, and the Greenpeace ship, what the law is worth in Russia.

AnonApril 21, 2014 6:13 PM

I work in the on-line advertising industry.

A significant technical aspect of the business is the use of referer URLs. When a browser visits a page, it passes to the server the URL of the page it came from.

In the on-line advertising industry, this information is very useful and sometimes necessary, depending on what you're doing and how you've set things up.

We were going to make a deal with some Russian web-sites, to display adverts on their sites. Part of the deal was being able to provide certain custom behaviour when the user clicked on the advert.

We couldn't actually conclude the deal - the reason being that the requests generated by the advert *had* to go to the Russian State servers first, which would then forward the request - and as such, we couldn't get the original referer URL.

Basically, you can assume everything - EVERYTHING - in Russia is monitored and recorded. The cost of doing so, for a nation state, is peanuts.

In fact, I'd expect this pretty much of every Western State (law hasn't meant much in such matters, after all, it's all pretty much secret, and where there's no light, there's corruption) and in every more dictatorial State, because it's natural for them to do so. There might even be a few nations who don't record everything, but I wouldn't bet on it, or on it lasting.

We need technical solutions to this, but the problem now is that nation states wlll resist such changes - and they possess the means to suppress change. What we really need is more freedom.

Bob S.April 21, 2014 7:26 PM

When the USSR was no longer a viable enemy due to the fall of communism, the USA no longer had a reason to be better than them (or anyone else).

So, we became them by being better than they were at being bad.

In a bizarre way, one could blame the USSR for the NSA going rogue and totally out of control.

SkepticalApril 21, 2014 8:00 PM

@Bob: To indulge in understatement, comparisons of the NSA to the domestic intelligence apparatus of Russia are mostly ludicrous. The latter are in an entirely different league. I'm quite concerned about Russian prospects for the future, given the unfortunate intersection between an increasingly authoritarian and corrupt State and the increasing power of its surveillance and internal security forces.

If you want to know why technology is only part of the equation, with politics, law, and policy constituting a much greater factor, look to Russia.

DBApril 21, 2014 8:34 PM

@ Skeptical

You're ludicrous. You blindly, steadfastly refuse to see any increase in authoritarian and corrupt State over here, no matter what.

yesmeApril 21, 2014 9:15 PM

@Winter • April 21, 2014 3:57 PM

"We all saw in the Chodorowski case, and the Greenpeace ship, what the law is worth in Russia."

In 2000 we all saw what the US election process is worth when a presidential candidate that has less votes wins because he has a brother who can overrule the outcome in "his" state.

Let's just assume that some things are bendable everywhere.

yesmeApril 21, 2014 9:22 PM

I would like to add to my previous message that watching "The untold history of the United States" opened my eyes a bit more (altough I wasn't born yesterday).

RandalfApril 21, 2014 10:24 PM

@vas pup
So, Russia and the US are closer on that subject to each other rather than closer to e.g. Sweden, Norway, Netherlands, etc.?

oh yea, Sweden and their FRA (Försvarets radioanstalt)...that is an organization that has been frequently in the news in Sweden for the last couple of years. As their Russian and American counterparts they also do have capabilities for surveillance and they are also saying that they are not doing anything 'illegal' (a controversial subject in Sweden, currently).

65535April 22, 2014 2:05 AM

The fact that the Russians are abusing their citizens on the same level as the NSA and other TLA's in the USA is of little comfort. In fact, it appears that the USA has become like Russia in many respects. Having the USA morph into a Russian clone is very disturbing.

Sergey SilaevApril 22, 2014 3:28 AM

Unfortunately this is pure true. But this is normal situation for our country. Russian government not abusing the trust of its citizens on the same level like a NSA.

anonymousApril 22, 2014 6:09 AM

I don't give a shit when totalitarian regimes like the US or the Russians spy on their own citizens, it is up to them to change that. But it pisses me off when they spy on me (not a citizen of either nation). And so far there is LOTS of proof the yanks are spying on the whole world and my country in particular using their armed forces bases, NSA and NATO facilities, and none whatsoever that the Russkies are doing the same (because they don't have any around here).
I'd say let's cut off all US bases in Europe from water and electricity supply, and either interrupt or tap into their glass fiber communications. NSA and Booze Hamilton et. al. analysts should have to apply for work visas and residence permits using the same rules that the yanks impose on foreigners wanting to live in their country. If the US gov complains, well, you are free to leave anytime you want.

AutolykosApril 22, 2014 7:16 AM

So in short it's "same shit, different asshole" over there - except that Russia seems to lack the resources to spy on the rest of the world. Before Snowden, this would've been news. Now it's kinda expected. I'm even surprised how little they collect and how little they use it - but it may not be a complete report, so there might be more than that going on.
@Alan: I don't think Snowden ever had any illusions about the state of civil rights in Russia. He's just in a bit of a fix because all those "Western Democracies" (well, their governments at least) seem to value appeasing the US higher than their own sovereignty. Sadly, Putin is pretty much the only one who wants (and can afford) to stand up to the US, even if his motives are questionable.

Clive RobinsonApril 22, 2014 9:28 AM

@ Randal,

The piece from the Young Republicans starts off in an obviously biased way and quickly goes into factual inacuracies.

It fails all journalistic norms and also fails as a "puff piece" so at best you could say it's written by those who know that their readers won't actuall check facts or even bother to remember simple time lines.

So if a reader of it has an IQ that is low enough to count as a disability and their memory less than a goldfish is reputed to have or more likely they are drunk to the point of near insensability then they might take it as read. Otherwise they are being at best rather dishonest with known facts to try to destroy others reputations for personal or political reasons, if they have then they must think their audiance have less social awarness than the unfortunate children "Tea-baggers" dragged out to "Atlas Shrugs religion rallies".

SkepticalApril 22, 2014 9:33 AM

@DB: You're ludicrous. You blindly, steadfastly refuse to see any increase in authoritarian and corrupt State over here, no matter what.

I'm able to keep a sense of perspective, DB. In Russia "homosexual propaganda" was recently made illegal; in the US, gay marriage continues its accelerating pace towards nationwide legalization. In Russia, the government dictates most of what the media reports, and satire directed at Putin is a dangerous thing; in the US, criticizing government is standard in the media, and satire directed at Obama is strongly protected by law.

It's worth talking about whether a given policy in the US is good or bad on the merits, and to question those policies that increase government intrusion into private communications, but it's utter delusion to pretend that the US is "authoritarian" or to take seriously any comparisons of the NSA to internal Russian security services.

vas pupApril 22, 2014 10:45 AM

@Skeptical. Yeah, sure. As I posted before, it is wide continuum of 'authoritarianism' spectrum. It is like mental disorder- spectrum type (i.e. level of similar symptoms allocate patient to the particular diagnostic group rather than other disorders where you either have no symptoms and healthy or you do have symptoms and you are sick) meaning symptoms are present in both countries under discussion, but yes level is different. Other respected bloggers @DB, @anonymous, @autolykos point attention to the direction where the US moving, and as they stated the movement is to the opposite direction, not towards more liberty.
I respect you patriotism as respect patriotism of any citizen of any other country (German, Dutch, Russian, Ukrainian, etc.), but my vision of patriotism exclude word "blind" or "exclusiveness" without respect of patriotism of citizens of other countries. Sorry skeptical, but sometimes blind patriots are similar to the sick person who did not recognize(in denial) symptoms when problem could be treated with recovery option. But that is my own opinion. By the way, Mark Twain said "Americans have many freedoms, but they have wisdom not to use them".


yesmeApril 22, 2014 10:57 AM

@vas pup

Patriotism is here in the Netherlands not such a big thing. We don't sing our national anthem at sport events or wave Dutch flags. We are to sober (nuchter) or down to earth for that (altough we are the tallest people of the world).

Clive RobinsonApril 22, 2014 12:18 PM

@ Vas Pup,

I think what you are trying to say started as a philosphical question as people became "freemen" from their "Lords" and thus were no longer treated as vassels or property (without the benifits of being slaves).

It became possed as the question "My Country right or wrong?" Which was a major question just a hundred years ago with those who questioned the right of a government to compell them to go and commit murder in another state.

Just a few years later at the conclusion of WWII the US pushed to make the defence of "following orders" null and void for what were concidered not just war crimes but crimes against humanity.

The United Nations amongst other organisations put in place principles that should protect individuals from oppressive behaviour from states and many nations signed up to the various declerations of human rights.

Thus in the latter half of the last century the answer to the question became clear unquestionably "following orders" was nolonger acceptable thus it was considered that there were many things a state could not ask it's citizens or armed forces to do and those that did issue such orfers or carried them out would be subject to the juresdiction of the international courts.

The problem with this is "certainty" has gone, troops are expected to refuse orders that lawyers "second guess" from the comfort of their "chambers", irrespective of if the refusal would result in harm of the individual. There is nolonger a clear line to know on which side you stand, sadly irregualr troops know and exploit this with regular troops left politicaly swinging with their hands tied.

Thus although "unquestioning loyalty" is demanded of many and some give it, such behaviour is unacceptable in the modern world, you are as far as international norms are concerned "an island", every action you take you have to defend as an individual, you cannot hide behind the nation state of your birth or adoption.

Thus swearing alegance to a flag is an out moded mentality which no state should ask of you, there is no "My Country right or wrong", no "No man is an island", it is you the individual hero or villain, standing or falling at the whim of fourtune, responsable for each and every action you take.

Whoa lolApril 22, 2014 2:49 PM

paul @ April 21, 2014 7:50 PM said:
"If this is the expertise level of pushback, you gotta wonder."

Well said, and I have to add: thank you NSA for doing your best to make yourself look the worst. Sadly it won't make a difference so whoever tricked this through the PHBs should just quit their job, leave hard drives lying around in public places, and emigrate to somewhere where the dollar still has any value.

Because at face value this is such badly implemented propaganda it is embarrassing and humiliating. Pushing an asinine story that completely (and I would say intentionally, see last paragraph) misses the point of nearly inescapable US global digital surveillance, active & preemptive information warfare including for commercial and technological gain, and extra-juridical kidnapping, killing, and torture which has for all intents and purposes badly damaged if not obliterated not only the foundations of all (inter-)networking but also the very basis of computing itself as hardware no longer have any reasonable trust, and then in addition try to support such a ludicrous attempt by automated and yet again totally asinine astroturfing by ineloquent and illogical stale soundbytes :)

[Because if there were "honest people" as stupid as some of the comments here imply they simply would not be able to operate a keyboard. I don't think the diversity of Schneier's readership reaches that far.]

Thanks for posting this gem Schneier!

DBApril 22, 2014 3:47 PM

@ Skeptical

It's utter delusion to refuse to see the steady march toward "authoritarian rule" in the USA. Is it as bad as Russia domestically yet? Obviously not. But it's going in that direction! Every decade more and more of the US Constitution is effectively null and void, the way the law and law enforcement ignores it. And it's already worse internationally, i.e. what the USA does spying globally is worse than what Russia does globally. But that does not matter to you, you don't care about that. You will not see nor admit to what's really going on in the USA. You are totally and completely delusional, or you are a total and complete liar, it has to be one or the other.

FnuApril 22, 2014 4:30 PM

Well, let's tally up.

1. Russia- According to this, Bruce's (well written, incisive) referred-to article: ,, COPM" (Russian) or SORM, et al - GRU e.g. *can and do conduct surveillance on target/s w/o informing target/s of full state security apparatus tracking. In other words - no protection against massive surveillance - although these reported numbers in the article (how reliable are they anyway?) - are less than the massive expensive western agencies' dragnet collection efforts. (Refer to Solzhenitsyn's presentations of the process ending in Prokyrator level prosecution: all secret and XB, Keep Forever - results kept in KGB vault; this for merely a beginning example).

2. Nazi Germany - Stasi / state "Organs - Soviet States (Russian SNG central Asian states ) - could conduct deep multipoint surveillance on ANY target and all product sources - methods remained Secret. Again - the target (civilian) had no recourse except to "Sign the papers").

3. Today's NSA Dragnet surveillance: Gigabytes of data collected daily - and *stored - on much of the world's electronic traffic. In effect - so perhaps someone you contacted today even unwittingly - may be found out to be of interest via NSA spotting algorithms in the future (thanks to Yottabyte storage in Bluffdale NSA asset storage, and others); so - tomorrow you may be suspected even though you never did anything against anyone except respond to an email sometime in the past.


Worse than facist times, these days of ELINT. Kafka himself would sh*t in his pants.
And now even the press is forbidden to speak w/ intel reps.

So,
Who chooses not to use secure methods - including TOR and Public Key Crypto nowadays is - well, to put it diplomatically, stupid if not even dangerous to him/herself.

Web 3.0 is dawning.


Always tuned in, Bruce. Great article.


V

BenniApril 22, 2014 4:40 PM

On the fsb wikipedia page, you can find the following:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Security_Service#The_fight_against_terrorism

In 2008, the American Carnegie Endowment's Foreign Policy magazine named Russia as "the worst place to be a terrorist" and highlighted especially Russia's willingness to prioritize national security over civil rights.[14]

There we have it: America proudly announced that the Russians did the right thing when they prioritize national security over civil rights.....

Seems that americans and russians have much more in common than they are willing to admid

Seem


AnuraApril 22, 2014 5:50 PM

@Benni

There we have it: America proudly announced that the Russians did the right thing when they prioritize national security over civil rights.....

"Carnegie Endowment's Foreign Policy magazine" is not exactly the official voice of America, nor do they say that what they are doing is the right thing, just that they believe it's an effective strategy, and I think everyone would agree that some measures that increase security also trade civil rights.

AnuraApril 22, 2014 5:56 PM

Actually, looking at the link to the citation, it's not even saying Russia is safer because of it, just that it sucks to be a terrorist in that country. It references the Moscow theater hostage crisis in which Russian special forces not only killed the 40 terroists, but over 100 hostages as well.

DBApril 22, 2014 6:35 PM

Trading away the very basic liberties and freedoms that make humans human don't actually get you more security. It gets you totalitarianism. When you get totalitarianism, you get WORSE fear/insecurity from the totalitarian rulers than you ever did from terrorists. Give me a terrorist in a free country any day rather than no terrorist in a totalitarian country. Stop the march toward totalitarianism, America, or you will have neither liberty nor security! This is not a trade-off! It's freedom or virtual prison. And prison does NOT equate to security.

AnuraApril 22, 2014 7:27 PM

@DB

In the absence of authority, you have complete freedom, however this complete freedom you can do anything to anyone without repercussions. The existence of an authority to restrict your freedom to harm others increases your safety, while restricting your freedom. Now, many people will argue that liberties and freedoms are separate, and I would personal define liberties as the acts you can do that do not directly violate another person or their property, unless the absence of that act would not result in that other person violating another's person or property.

However, our liberties are restricted as well. Take speed limits as an example; we hand over our liberty to drive as fast as we want because it results in an increased probability that another will come to harm. This I would argue is a good restriction of our liberties. Taxes fit my definition of a violation of liberty as your property is being taken by an authortiy, but it is something that is overall necessary to provide the government services that improve society (roads, schools, law enforcement, firefighters, medical care, etc.), and so while it technically violates liberty, it is arguably a good thing, and is even required to protect your liberties.

Life is a balance, and in society we do have to decide which balance of liberties and safeties we want. This can include regulating businesses to prevent environmental damage that indirectly harms everyone, to restrictions on the carrying of lethal weapons in public, or restrictions on the ownership of certain weapons (ranging from nuclear bombs, to biological weapons, to artillery, to explosives, to firearms).

vasApril 22, 2014 9:03 PM

Here is a component of the Russian "Omega" sorm solution, a V.35 tap: https://flic.kr/p/g3WU4K Of course V.35 is mostly obsolete, so you are seeing a rarity :-) Most Internet SORM is being done via a SPAN port on Ethernet switches now.

The article you have quoted has several inaccuracies. "Artem Ageev" is right in his corrections.

"Anon" is either mistaken or incompetent. There is no such thing as "Russian State servers first, which would then forward the request". Not on the national scale at least. Maybe some ISP was playing with a transparent proxy which "Anon" mistook for a State Server.

DBApril 22, 2014 10:05 PM

@Anura:

"complete freedom you can do anything to anyone without repercussions"

There is no such thing as that kind of freedom. Everything we do engenders a reaction in others i.e. a repercussion. So if you're a mean spirited hateful gun slinger in the wild west, you'll be shot and killed before you reach 30 years old. Great freedom, eh? Freedom to be shot? That's not true freedom. That's looking over your shoulder all the time living in fear.

"Now, many people will argue that liberties and freedoms are separate"

Similar to how you started defining it, I'd say that one's freedom needs to end where another's begins. And ideally it should be more or less equal across society, rather than omnipotent kings and slave subjects. And you give a big bunch of examples, good ones.

But there's a difference between this kind of balanced restriction that's supposed to apply equally to EVERYONE, both the governed and the governing... and "oh, I'm going to say, give up society's ability to have any privacy AT ALL, and give a few top guys the ability to monitor everything everyone does, in the hopes that there will NEVER AGAIN be another crime committed".... what? But that's exactly what anti-terrorist laws are trying to do! And that will NOT gain people more safety! That's not a trade-off. You don't trade away BASIC freedoms like that that make life worth living, to give ultimate power to a few, to gain security. You REDUCE security when you do that, because totalitarianism results. This is not creating a balance, it's making an imbalance.

Now you could start arguing in-between two extremes, and point to police officers... sure. It's an imbalance too though. Police forces attract people who revel in abusing their authorities. I'm not saying they're all like that, but if you haven't met any, you need to get out more. So such imbalances, if they're going to offer any small benefit at all, need to be VERY strictly controlled by society at large, not given free reign. We need to keep in check and/or reduce these imbalances in society, not increase them. Increasing them in any big meaningful secret unmanaged drastic post-9/11 way has and will continue to bring us closer and closer to the brink of complete totalitarian rule, which is a one-way street to less safe, not more safe.

Unstealthy AuntApril 23, 2014 1:32 AM

"5. Little known fact: when you use mobile data (i.e. access the internet via your mobile phone) there is no way for anybody to intercept the data - the equipment used by Russian cellphone service providers is just not equipped with the required software. Certainly one can listen on the uplink (and most probably is listening), but this data is not personalized."

This is completely wrong. Mobile data is easily tracked. Each phone has a unique identifier. Each sim card has a unique identifier. The only way to use a phone with some anonymity is to use a burner, another SIM from some corner shop not registered in your name, format phone, then compile your own source and port it over (which is not really as difficult as you might think). Next you want to use a fake MAC and connect wireless to a free network. Of course don't log into any of your accounts with that phone and be very careful with what you do with it as it's all being logged. There is also a GPS device in each phone so you want to turn it off and remove the battery when it's not being used, and never put the battery in when you are at home.

SkepticalApril 23, 2014 6:31 AM

@DB: It's utter delusion to refuse to see the steady march toward "authoritarian rule" in the USA. Is it as bad as Russia domestically yet? Obviously not. But it's going in that direction! Every decade more and more of the US Constitution is effectively null and void, the way the law and law enforcement ignores it.

I'm sorry, but nothing you've said in that paragraph is true.

On the one hand, since 9/11, Congress has increased the surveillance powers of federal agencies, though this has been within the zone of discretion in which Congress may increase or decrease such powers by passage of ordinary law (and where it was not, the courts rejected it; this is why the NSL provision had to be modified by Congress).

On the other hand, in recent decades certain provisions of the Constitution have been interpreted to provide more robust protection to certain forms of private autonomy, e.g. gay and lesbian civil rights. In Lawrence v. Texas, for example, the Court applied the following language, from an earlier case involving abortion, to the question of whether the state could ban sex between same-sex adults: At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life. Beliefs about these matters could not define the attributes of personhood were they formed under compulsion of the State.

And indeed this past summer the federal Defense of Marriage Act was struck down by the Supreme Court.

To give another example:

On the one hand, there was an attempt by the Bush Administration to hold certain detainees in an area which they hoped would be beyond the reach of the US courts.

On the other hand, the US courts rejected the attempt. The Supreme Court has heard several cases on the matter, and has explicitly stated that detainees are entitled to reasonable due process; it has also forced modifications of the military commissions designed to hold trials. This was an expansion of rule of law, not a contraction.

So there is no "steady march" towards authoritarianism, nor have increasing amounts of the Constitution become "null and void."

That is not to say that all policies and laws are just fine, or that improved policies and new laws are not desirable. But it is to say that grand narratives that attempt to portray the US as steadily marching towards authoritarianism, such as Naomi Wolf's rather silly book that predicted fascism in the US, are simplistic and wrong.

@vas: sometimes blind patriots are similar to the sick person who did not recognize(in denial) symptoms when problem could be treated with recovery option. But that is my own opinion. By the way, Mark Twain said "Americans have many freedoms, but they have wisdom not to use them".

Blind patriotism is not good.

@Clive: Thus swearing alegance to a flag is an out moded mentality which no state should ask of you, there is no "My Country right or wrong", no "No man is an island", it is you the individual hero or villain, standing or falling at the whim of fourtune, responsable for each and every action you take.

This is an instance of the fallacy of false dichotomy. The choices are not simply "my country right or wrong" and "you stand alone, without allegiance." There are many choices between those two.

And indeed, one of the key documents in US history, the Declaration of Independence, consists of essentially a long argument that blind allegiance is NOT owed to one's country, irrespective of circumstances.

Separately, do you really think that nation-states are outmoded and irrelevant? Given various current events, this seems like a strange view.

AutolykosApril 23, 2014 8:22 AM

@Skeptical: I don't think improvements in gay rights are a good indicator of how authoritarian a society/government is. That depends on the motives behind those changes. The changes may happen because of genuine liberalism, or just because the opponents of gay marriage are rapidly losing political power and/or public goodwill - so the government would still quite happily force the views of one group on another, but luckily that particular group is no longer significant (or too dangerous to associate with).
If you look at pure civil rights issues (free speech/assembly, free press, surveillance, etc) it's hard to deny there is a clear trend over the last one or two decades. It's difficult to agree on a clear line between democracy and authoritarianism, but huge organizations (like states) tend to have a lot of inertia, making it dangerous to even get anywhere near that line.
@yesme: Yeah, (Western) Europe generally seems to be a little more ambivalent about patriotism, to the point that it's downright suspect in Germany* and calling someone a patriot is close to an insult; apart from conservatives, most politicians will avoid any discussion about patriotism like the plague.

*Yep, it's partly for *ahem* historical reasons. But also because the regions still differ a lot in culture and mentality. You'll find lots of people who are proud of their "tribe" or city and make fun of the guys from the next (like Franks/Bavarians or Cologne/Düsseldorf).

DBApril 23, 2014 1:56 PM

@ Skeptical

That's ridiculous. You have our government putting entire societies under surveillance, automatically fishing for crimes among the innocent. You have them breaking and subverting our technology in this fishing expedition too. You have them setting up "border regions" that cover 2/3rds of the US population, where they can stop and search anyone for no reason at all. You have them kidnapping and putting people in prison for decades without a trial or even a charge brought against them. You have them killing people by remote control in all sorts of countries that we haven't even "declared war" against. You have important people committing felonies in front of the US Congress and nothing happens to them.

But no... according to you, NONE of this is an erosion of human rights or the Constitution or rule of law AT ALL.. It's retarded. And you are inconsistent. On the one hand you say there isn't a "steady march" in this direction, yet you admit that "policies and laws" may not all be "fine"... you just can't think of any. You say "blind patriotism is not good," but I've never seen a clearer example of it than you.

BenniApril 23, 2014 6:39 PM

Regarding to human rights in russia:
Russia signed the european human rights treaty.

Russians can go and sue the government in the european human rights court in Den Haag, if they think their rights are violated.

In fact most of the europeans who go to the court in den Haag are russians:

http://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/strassburg-russland-fuehrt-statistik-der-grundrechtsverletzungen-an-a-950281.html

In 2013, the court in Den Haag had 16.800 cases, only from russians who saw their rights being violated.

But now what: The judges say that from their perspective, the situation is getting better and better in russia. The court says the russian government has much good will and accepts the judgement of the european court, trying to get better in the furute. In fact, most of the trials are from chechnyans and have to do with human rights violations in connection with russians war on terror.


So, indeed we see two governments, the us and russia, who apparently have chosen the same path fighting terrorism: By giving up human rights.

The CIA set up torture camps, drone strikes, pushed their gigantic surveillance system up to boundless gigantism and invaded into coutries in violation of international la.w

The russians work together with authoritarian regimes, having installed a dictatorship in chechnya, because there were no other local politicians there. The russian war on terror is also the reason why they are supporting the dictator assad in syria, since they prefer him over groups like al quaida.

With just one difference: Whilst the european court says the russians are eager wanting to get better and improving their human rights, the american government, received large file on human rights violations from the UN, and there is almost no sign, that that the us wants to improve.


SkepticalApril 23, 2014 8:57 PM

@Autolykos: I don't think improvements in gay rights are a good indicator of how authoritarian a society/government is. That depends on the motives behind those changes.

I should have emphasized the Court's rationale more than I did. The Court struck down DOMA because it violated the principle of equal protection of the law. The expansion of equality under the law, enhancing the protections of persons or groups that might be the target of laws aimed at oppressing them, is a sign of a strong liberal state protective of individual liberty.

If you look at pure civil rights issues (free speech/assembly, free press, surveillance, etc) it's hard to deny there is a clear trend over the last one or two decades.

I don't see any decline in freedom of speech or assembly or press. Those are as strong as ever.

I've already noted that after 9/11, Congress did increase the surveillance power of the federal government.

I agree of course that there has been an increase in electronic surveillance, but that's at best a mixed indicator of authoritarian direction. The real question is how is the surveillance conducted, who is regulating it, and how is the surveillance used?

A democratic regime protective of human rights will have one answer.
An authoritarian regime will have a very different answer.

Against that, we must weigh the advances in civil liberties in the area of gay and lesbian rights, which is no small thing. Indeed, quite frankly it is much more important than the adjustments to surveillance power made in the PATRIOT Act.

Against this complex backdrop, it's simply in error to conclude that there is a clear direction towards authoritarianism. It can be done only if your sole focus is surveillance power.

Nick PApril 23, 2014 9:41 PM

@ DB

Damn. I've never seen it said better than first paragraph. And it could be reused against so many DOD/NSA apologists. Just save it in your bookmarks to make for easy copy and paste. I fear you'll have opportunities. ;)

AutolykosApril 24, 2014 4:51 AM

@Skeptical: I don't see any decline in freedom of speech or assembly or press. Those are as strong as ever.
National Security Letters? "Free Speech Zones"? OWS activists getting harassed in any legal (and probably a few illegal) ways for organizing or participating in protests? Police brutality against peaceful demonstrations (see: "Pepper Spraying Cop")?
That's just to name a few examples off the top of my head - this list is nowhere near comprehensive. And what we see is just the tip of the iceberg. You'll never know how much the government exactly leans on news programs and papers - you can only see them getting less and less bold compared to foreign press.

I must admit that I didn't read the Surpreme Court decision - but it doesn't matter that much what they wrote. Courts can not strike down laws for political reasons, only for formal reasons. So they have to find one. And constitutions are usually elastic enough that most (well-written) laws can easily be argued to violate it or agree with it, depending on the current political climate.

SkepticalApril 24, 2014 9:38 AM

@DB: You have our government putting entire societies under surveillance, automatically fishing for crimes among the innocent.

Is this referring to Iraq? Something else?

You have them breaking and subverting our technology in this fishing expedition too.

Which technology, DB? How does this fit with your authoritarian direction thesis?

You have them setting up "border regions" that cover 2/3rds of the US population, where they can stop and search anyone for no reason at all.

No, that's not the way it works. Look up "extended border doctrine" when you have a chance. Don't take ACLU hyperventilations at face value (or anything else, for that matter).

You have them kidnapping and putting people in prison for decades without a trial or even a charge brought against them.

You're referring to the detainees captured, for the most part, in Afghanistan during a war? Most of whom have been released, and all of whom are being given due process? The detainees, many of whom had legal representation from the nation's best law firms, who have had many cases in federal court, including the Supreme Court?

Sounds much less dramatic than "kidnapping and putting people in prison for decades without a trial," which gives the impression that the US is disappearing anyone it chooses in the manner of a South American military government.

You have them killing people by remote control in all sorts of countries that we haven't even "declared war" against.

You mean persons designated as important members of al Qaeda affiliated organizations or persons actively aiding hostile operations against US forces? What does this have to do with your claim that the US is heading in an authoritarian direction?

You have important people committing felonies in front of the US Congress and nothing happens to them.

Total shocking. No one has EVER spoken a falsehood to Congress before and NOT been prosecuted for perjury. Definitely a sign of incipient authoritarianism. This type of thing never happens in free countries.

But no... according to you, NONE of this is an erosion of human rights or the Constitution or rule of law AT ALL..

You're having trouble with complexity. You have weigh things like an increase in surveillance powers granted after 9/11 against an increase in civil liberties in other areas. You have to look to see how those surveillance powers are regulated, and whether they have affected the independence of other institutions, such as the courts. You must additionally look to see if those surveillance powers are actually used to suppress civil liberties.

When you look at all those things, you find that the US has expanded equal protection of law in recent years, and has made, on balance, life in the US more fair, and essential rights more protected. You can stamp your feet all you want about air strikes in war zones and telephone metadata programs, but the latter in its current form has been tightly regulated and not abused, and the former is simply irrelevant to the discussion.

SkepticalApril 24, 2014 9:51 AM

@Autolykos: National Security Letters? "Free Speech Zones"? OWS activists getting harassed in any legal (and probably a few illegal) ways for organizing or participating in protests? Police brutality against peaceful demonstrations (see: "Pepper Spraying Cop")?

Police brutality is just as illegal today as it was 10 years ago. We're better able to capture it on video when it occurs, which is a good thing.

NSLs are the equivalent of grand jury subpoenas, and have no more impact than the latter on freedom of speech, press, and assembly. They only way they've been found to impact free speech is via their confidentiality clause, which requires the recipient to keep silent about receiving a NSL. This does not prevent a recipient from challenging a NSL in court, and the confidentiality clause is not unlimited.

No doubt some OWS activists were harassed by some local police. The "pepper spraying cop" in California is certainly an example. It's just as wrong today when police step over the line as it was 10 years ago. And just like 10 years ago, in confrontations some percentage of police do so. I'm glad we have more video footage today to better hold police who do so accountable, and to better protect police from false accusations when they're levied as well.

Overall though OWS activists were protected, and their right of assembly and speech was not violated. They were eventually evicted from the public spaces they had occupied, but the right to protest doesn't confer a right to indefinitely occupy public parks and prevent others from using them. There are now, as there were 10 years and long before that, time, place, and manner restrictions on how one can protest which are legitimate and constitutional.

I must admit that I didn't read the Surpreme Court decision - but it doesn't matter that much what they wrote. Courts can not strike down laws for political reasons, only for formal reasons. So they have to find one.

At that level of constitutional law, the Supreme Court is choosing among different principled interpretations of concepts like equal protection, and so their decisions are not formally determined in advance. However, the Court is nonetheless choosing a principle, and in this case they've expanded the scope of equal protection of the law.

And if you don't read the decisions, then you don't understand what they chose, or how that choice will impact the law, or how that choice makes the "authoritarian direction" thesis less tenable.

GrazingApril 24, 2014 10:46 AM

@Autolykos @DB

Don't waste your time arguing with him. There'll be hardly any [positive] outcome.
(IMO it is likely he's involved in something like GCHQ's 'Infiltrate, manipulate, deceive, destroy')

name.withheld.for.obvious.reasonsApril 24, 2014 3:52 PM

@ Skeptical
Can you please frame the statement you made with the words 'designated' and 'important' in it...two issues are expressed based on the use of these words. I need to know the interpretation to understand what you are saying here...are we talking about OED or DoD definitions? And what in law, affirms the term AUMF with "War Powers"? The Korean war was the first divergence from explicit language to what could be termed 'literary license'.

"You mean persons designated as important members of al Qaeda affiliated organizations or persons actively aiding hostile operations against US forces? What does this have to do with your claim that the US is heading in an authoritarian direction?"

SkepticalApril 24, 2014 4:36 PM

@name.withheld: Here's a very recent report from the Congressional Research Service on that very topic (Declarations of War and Authorizations of Military Force), via the FAS: https://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/RL31133.pdf

It looks like the first authorization of military force (without a declaration of war) was in 1798, in connection with France.

I haven't read the report, but I suspect Congress became more careful about using the word "war" because of the many other statutes that use would trigger. So when Congress wished to authorize the use of military force, but not trigger all the statutes that would accompany a declaration of war, they avoided using that word, essentially leaving it to the courts to determine the precise extent of the legal implications.

As to "important" and "designated", OED (which I'm hoping means Oxford English Dictionary and not some government organization!).

name.withheld.for.obvious.reasonsApril 24, 2014 6:18 PM

@ Skeptical

Thanks. You made my point, and, the subjugation of deliberation comes in many forms--including psychologically. An intellectually "honest" conversation requires more than one participant. Not to discourage you Skeptical, arguments made outside the narrow or collective thinking (we all come here with our own biases) is necessary--group think will kill the herd irrespective of their philosophical sense of the world. Just know that your comments do more to malign you than make it possible for you to be heard.

By the way, you should read another CRS report recently published on the FAS site. It is the definition of "belligerent" as it relates to domestic combatants.

DBApril 25, 2014 6:50 PM

@ Nick P

Thanks. Feel free to copy/paste/improve as you see fit, I don't mind.

@ Grazing

I'm very much aware that I will not likely ever convince Skeptical of anything. But I will never "just give up." It's not about the destination, it's about the journey we take through life.

You see, this is not a private conversation, this is a public forum. So any arguing with people like him who are unteachable is not merely arguing with him, but really admonishing everyone else who reads it, trying to make sure they are not fooled by him. Everything every one of us does and says influences all those around us. So we have a duty to do what is right.

If he is the embodiment of our government's psychological warfare against us, then our only proper response is to stand up, and loudly and obviously let them know back that we are not being fooled by any of it, and it is not phasing us.

@ Skeptical

"You must additionally look to see if those surveillance powers are actually used to suppress civil liberties."

I'm aware this seems to be the view of the courts right now, but it's a stupid way of looking at it. So if Congress were to ever a make law that says "The Constitution is hereby disbanded, the President is now proclaimed King" we should look at it like "well, we can't prove the President has ever EXERCISED his new powers as King yet, so therefore it's not technically an unconstitutional law"? That's retarded. And this is exactly why I keep claiming the courts are "in on it" with Congress and the Executive to strip us of our basic civil liberties.

Please also keep in mind that when I make such statements, I actually hope that it becomes a negative self-fulfilling prophecy... that is, my claiming it's happening actually slightly helps to stop it from happening, thereby proving me "wrong" technically. I'd like nothing more than to be wrong about something terrible or bad or evil. Unfortunately I just don't see it yet.

name.withheld.for.obvious.reasonsApril 25, 2014 11:22 PM

@ DB

And this is exactly why I keep claiming the courts are "in on it" with Congress and the Executive to strip us of our basic civil liberties.

It worse than you think. The FAA, the FISA Amendments Act was deliberately drafted to contort and conceal the activities under the courts umbrella. In addition it expanded the "legislative" relevance of court decisions and renders the Supreme Court inferior. I don't know why no one has done any legislative analysis as to the efficacy or precedents with respect to this law (it is so obvious that subversion of process (due or any other) is the objective of this malfeasance and mis-carriage of justice).

What is most interesting is that from the NSA/DOJ perspective, it is the FISC that wields the state secrets apparatus and not the agencies. Look at the response from the NSA in the Jewel v. NSA motion (2007) and the EFF's follow on motion.

I would digress if I suggested that this is but the tip of the iceberg. A wider conspiracy is being hatched--the legal framework is in place. The only thing left is an operational component that has yet to go "online". I predict when it does, the game-is-over.

I have chronicled the developments and can suggest that the truth is out there. The problem is--that's the problem.

Live long--and brave--there is yet tomorrow.

DBApril 26, 2014 1:08 AM

@name.withheld

At this point, I think it's becoming less and less surprising to everyone, worldwide, when it's worse than they think... The whole process of releasing a somewhat shocking story, waiting for high level officials to deny it, then releasing more to show them as total idiots and direct liars... for the past NINE MONTHS straight without a break.... has had an effect.

For example, several times recently when I'm at the store, bank, restaurant, or whatever around town, and someone mentions their phone... and I say "oh, you mean your tracking anklet" people never bat an eye, they almost ALL KNOW this now... It really has started to sink in... of course I don't think the consequence has yet, but still... it's getting there.

SkepticalApril 26, 2014 11:26 AM

@DB: I'm very much aware that I will not likely ever convince Skeptical of anything. But I will never "just give up." It's not about the destination, it's about the journey we take through life.

I always try to stay open to other viewpoints. Two of the questions I pose to myself when I take any position on a subject are "what evidence could persuade you differently?" and "if you had begun with different background information or assumptions, would the available evidence lead you to conclude differently?"

If he is the embodiment of our government's psychological warfare against us, then our only proper response is to stand up, and loudly and obviously let them know back that we are not being fooled by any of it, and it is not phasing us.

No, I'm not. And I can't begin to describe how ridiculous it is for anyone to think so.

I'm aware this seems to be the view of the courts right now, but it's a stupid way of looking at it. So if Congress were to ever a make law that says "The Constitution is hereby disbanded, the President is now proclaimed King" we should look at it like "well, we can't prove the President has ever EXERCISED his new powers as King yet, so therefore it's not technically an unconstitutional law"? That's retarded. And this is exactly why I keep claiming the courts are "in on it" with Congress and the Executive to strip us of our basic civil liberties.

I suspect you're thinking of "facial" challenges vs. "as applied" challenges. The issue is complicated, see e.g. Facial and As Applied Challenges Under the Roberts Court, but, to put it very roughly, courts will attempt to adopt an interpretation of a law that keeps the law within constitutional bounds (even if they find a particular application of the law to be unconstitutional). If they can't do so, if the law is unconstitutional under any reasonable interpretation, then they'll strike down the law entirely.

I actually hope that it becomes a negative self-fulfilling prophecy... that is, my claiming it's happening actually slightly helps to stop it from happening, thereby proving me "wrong" technically. I'd like nothing more than to be wrong about something terrible or bad or evil. Unfortunately I just don't see it yet.

Well, we may differ in our views of the present, but we both have the same hopes for the future.

DBApril 27, 2014 12:50 AM

@ Skeptical

No, I'm not. And I can't begin to describe how ridiculous it is

There was a little word "if" in front of that... Let me say it clearer in another way: IF you are not a government plant sent to disrupt this blog, you sometimes sure act like one. Whether you are or not, what should be our response? Run away and hide, screaming "aack, government agent..." No. We're not doing anything wrong, so just keep doing what we're doing. This is a public forum out in the open, so expect everyone, the good, bad, and ugly, to be watching everything we do here anyway.

"facial" challenges vs. "as applied" challenges

Yes, that's what I'm referring to... with significant added danger when you add in a hefty amount of secrecy, based on extra broadly applied "national security"... You see, our government should NOT be able to keep laws completely above all possibility of constitutional challenge, merely by keeping its actions based on those laws totally secret. Yet that's exactly what's happening, with terrible results over the past few years. This system encourages an "above the law" way of thinking, because if bad laws can be kept from court challenge through secrecy, why not additionally even technically fully illegal actions too the same way. It's a downward spiral of injustice, corruption, and lawlessness.

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