Journalist Glenn Greenwald’s book on meeting NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the information he revealed to him on top secret massive surveillance and its implications on privacy has been released today.
Along with the release of the book, Greenwald has posted new documents referenced in the book online for people to read for free.
Here are some of the highlights from the newly released documents:
—The NSA’s Tailored Access Operations (TAO) will “intercept” shipments of computer network devices and install “beacon implants” in the “targets’ electronic devices.” The devices are repackaged and “placed back into transit.”
“Supply-chain interdiction” is described as “some of the most productive operations in TAO, because they pre-position access points into hard target networks around the world.” And in one instance a beacon was “implanted through supply-chain interdiction” and “called back to the NSA covert infrastructure.” The “call back” provided the NSA “access to further exploit the device and survey the network.”
—NSA used its spying capabilities through signals intelligence to aid US strategy in negotiations on Iran sanctions. Then-US ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, told NSA that in late spring 2010 providing the “most current and accurate information” on how UNSC members would vote helped her “know when the other” Permanent Representatives “were telling the truth” and had “revealed their real position on sanctions.” It “gave us the upper hand in negotiations” and “provided information on various countries ‘red lines.'”
Collection was conducted against France, Japan, Mexico, and Brazil.
—A few slides reflect the tension between the US and Israel. “Balancing the SIGINT exchange equally between US and Israeli needs has been a constant challenge in the last decade.” And, “It arguably tilted heavily in favor of Israeli security concerns.” As 9/11 came and went, this counterterrorism relationship continued to be “driven almost totally by the needs of the partner”—Israel.
—One NSA slide details a program called “Blarney” which can be used to collect “economic” information. The following slide – though unrelated – is a “week in the life of PRISM reporting” and shows the NSA targeted Mexico for details on “energy.” It targeted Japan for information on “trade” (and Israel). It targeted Venezuela for information on “military procurement” and “oil.”
—Part of NSA Washington’s mission to target economies or trade of countries:
—GCHQ can engage in travel tracking of passengers on airplanes. The program is called “Thieving Magpie.”
The “top secret” slide reads, “We can confirm that targets selectors are on board specific flights in near real time, enabling surveillance or arrest teams to be put in place in advance,” and, “If they use data, we can also recover email address’s [sic], Facebook Ids [sic], Skype addresses etc,” and, “Specific aircraft can be tracked approximately every 2 minutes whilst in flight.” It specifically was useful against Blackberrys.
—The benefits of Facebook are illuminated in a top secret slide presentation from GCHQ. It is described by a a “capability developer” as a “very rich source of information on targets.” It is a source for: personal details, “pattern of life” information,” connections to associates and media. The presentation goes on to describe how weaknesses in Facebook’s security—”assumed authentication” and “security through obscurity”—can be exploited to access information that a user might think was private.
—Another slide on the value of online social networks shows the value it provides the intelligence community. Communications, day to day activities, contacts and social networks, photographs, videos, personnel information (e.g. addresses, phone, email addresses) and location and travel information. [Note: Each of these details are marked “unclassified” although slide is classified “secret.”) [p. 159]
—Searching the traffic of a “given IP address” of a “specific website” is a “common query.” This can be used to uncover details on internet surfing, webmail, online social networks, internet searching, online mapping (such as uses of Google Maps or Mapquest).
—One slide shows NSA “communications metadata sharing” growing exponentially from 50 billion records to 850+ billion records from 1999-2007. The growth is said to be at a rate of 1-2 billion records per day.