Thursday, November 28, 2013



Microsoft, HURTING after NSA backdooring, vows to now harden its pipe

Snooping on private messages 'breach of the 4th Amendment'

Reference Source, By Iain Thomson, 27th November 2013

Microsoft is scrambling to encrypt its data centers' interlinks – after a fresh Snowden leak suggested the NSA and GCHQ tapped into the cables and intercepted sensitive network traffic.
Documents obtained by the Washington Post from the whistleblower show that Microsoft's Hotmail, Windows Live Messenger services and Passport communications were scanned by software called Monkey Puzzle, which was developed at the British snooping nerve-center GCHQ.

Reaching into the private unencrypted interlinks allows both intelligence agencies to effectively spy on Microsoft customers, and copy their messages and address books, it is claimed.
"These allegations are very disturbing. If they are true these actions amount to hacking and seizure of private data and in our view are a breach of the protection guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution." Brad Smith, Microsoft's general counsel, said in an email to The Register.

Smith, given his role as a legal eagle, also pointed out that the documents don't constitute proof per se that the NSA is tapping into its traffic surreptitiously. But he said the company's engineering teams will be beefing up security, "including strengthening security against snooping by governments."
Sources familiar with the matter say Microsoft will get to work on shielding its network traffic in the coming days, and senior executives are meeting to discuss the issue and plan a response. The Windows giant is already smarting from the commercial and reputation hit it has taken from the PRISM scandal and the latest situation just adds salt to the wound.

One email in Edward Snowden's leaked dossier, dated November 2009, comes from a developer at GCHQ. It explains how the Monkey Puzzle software can scoop data from Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft Passport, saying "the NSA can send us whatever realms they like right now."
Snowden also revealed PowerPoint decks rated top secret showing that "metadata-rich" address books were downloaded and stored on multiple databases. One showed the interception of a message on the now-defunct Windows Live Messenger system.

The news comes a month after another leak from the globetrotting whistleblower showing that the NSA was doing the same thing with Google and Yahoo!'s interlinks. One Google engineer was moved to obscenity when shown the tapping plans, dubbed Project MUSCULAR by the NSA, and El Reg wonders if Redmond CEO Ballmer is turning the air blue this morning.
Following the October leak, Yahoo! announced it will begin encrypting its interlinks between data centers, and Google has been doing so for some time. But Microsoft said it was holding off on such a move as little as two weeks ago.

Based on the documents released so far, tapping data-center interlinks appears to occur mostly overseas – where the NSA can operate solely on presidential say-so alone rather than having to get permission from the courts. The spooks are also reportedly going through third-party companies to slurp the data.
"NSA's focus is on targeting the communications of valid foreign intelligence targets, not on collecting and exploiting a class of communications or services that would sweep up communications that are not of bona fide foreign intelligence interest to the US government," the agency told WaPo in a statement. ®

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


President Obama on Immigration
Nov 25, 2013


President Obama spoke at the Betty Ann Ong Chinese Recreation Center in San Francisco. He urged Congress to pass immigration reform. He said he is open to the House of Representatives passing piecemeal bills rather than the comprehensive legislation already passed by the Senate. In his remarks he mentioned a recent meeting with business leaders, saying that although he knows many did not vote for him, they agreed with him that immigration should be a top priority. At the beginning of his speech he briefly addressed the agreement the U.S. and five other global powers (P5+1) reached with Iran on a six-month test freeze of the country’s nuclear program. 

Friday, November 22, 2013


Cybersecurity Threats

Nov 21, 2013


National Security Workforce

Witnesses testified on the government process for the designation of some federal job positions as “national security sensitive” and granting security clearances. Government officials said they were working to improve the process, while watchdogs at the hearing said more guidance for agencies would be required. 

The topic of security clearances became an issue in the summer of 2013, following former contractor Edward Snowden’s release of information about classified surveillance programs.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Saturday, November 9, 2013


Nov 8, 2013

President Obama spoke at the Port of New Orleans about the economy and urged lawmakers to increase spending on infrastructure such as ports and roads in order to boost exports and improve the economy in both the long and short term.He also called for greater investment in education and spoke about health care reform implementation.

Friday, November 8, 2013



Army, Air Force, Marine, and Navy chiefs testified on the impact of sequestration budget cuts to national defense programs. They warned the cuts would compromise the military’s ability to defend the country and could cause higher casualties.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Weekly Presidential Address

Weekly Presidential Address

Nov 2, 2013

President Obama delivered his weekly address. He urged Congress to keep growing the economy and creating good jobs by stopping the cycle of self-inflicted wounds and passing a federal budget that would reflect the priorities of making smart cuts and closing tax loopholes, while investing in areas that create opportunities for the middle class and the future generations.

National Security Agency’s (NSA) surveillance

National Security Agency Internet Surveillance

Oct 25, 2013


Privacy and surveillance experts talked about the National Security Agency’s (NSA) surveillance program and how the NSA complies with individual privacy protection laws. They focused on openness and accountability, and FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) oversight of the programs. The program included questions from the audience.

Bad Religion

How We Became a Nation of Heretics
Apr 17, 2012

Ross Douthat contends that Christianity in America has devolved from a once traditional practice to a shadow of its former self, which, according to the author, praises its followers' self-interests and greed. Mr. Douthat argues that this “bad religion” has hurt America’s political and social landscape and posits that heresy has usurped long-held religious beliefs. Mr. Douthat was joined in discussion by Barbara Bradley Hagerty and Michael Gerson. The panelists also responded to questions from members of the audience in the ballroom of the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. This Trinity Forum Evening Conversation was co-sponsored by Pepperdine University’s School of Public Policy.