CloudShield Technologies, a California defense contractor, dispatched a senior engineer to Munich in the early fall of 2009. His instructions were unusually opaque.
As he boarded the flight, the engineer told confidants later, he knew only that he should visit a German national who awaited him with an off-the-books assignment. There would be no written contract, and on no account was the engineer to send reports back to CloudShield headquarters.
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Yes, the police crackdown in Ferguson, Missouri, was about racial tension. But TCF policy associate Jake Anbinder reminds us that federal criminal justice policy made this week’s excesses possible. “The federal bureaucracy,” Anbinder writes, “would much rather arm local police to the teeth than help them improve the way they serve their communities.”READ MORE
One year ago, Russia granted Edward Snowden temporary asylum after a 39-day stay for the NSA whistleblower in the transit zone at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport. Snowden had become stranded there while trying to flee to Latin America, where several countries had offered permanent asylum after the U.S. government filed charges against him for making off with thousands of classified documents about its surveillance programs.
Since then, the Snowden story has unfolded in dramatic ways for a nonstop 12 months — as the world reacted to the vast amount of information that his files contained — sparking revelation after revelation about some of the nation's most cherished secrets. It has also sparked a fierce policy debate over how to make intelligence organizations more accountable.
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TCF senior fellow Barton Gellman publised a new piece at The Washington Post discussing how his story with Julie Tate and Ashkan Soltani about National Security Agency surveillance came about.
NSA surveillance is a complex subject — legally, technically and operationally. We drafted the story carefully and stand by all of it. I want to unpack some of the main points and controversies, sprinkling in new material for context. In this format, I can offer more technical detail about the data set that Snowden provided and the methods we used to analyze it. I will also address some ethical and national security issues we faced. Along the way, I will explain why our story actually understated its findings, clear up speculation about spying on President Obama and fact-check a recent CIA tweet about lost passwords.
Read more here.
In a lengthy article Friday, Washington Post journalist Barton Gellman attempted to answer some questions that have surfaced since he reported on a new Snowden leak last week. Buried deep in the report is a two-paragraph gem that says the CIA's Twitter, while funny, is also propagating misinformation.
The CIA opened a Twitter account last month and has used cheeky humor to win a large following in a short time. On Monday, the account sent out this announcement: "No, we don't know your password, so we can't send it to you." It went viral, with more than 12,000 retweets.
As it happens, the [National Security Agency] files we examined included 1,152 "minimized U.S. passwords," meaning passwords to American e-mail and chat accounts intercepted from U.S. data links. Don't expect tech support from Langley, but the CIA does have access to that raw traffic.
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“Unknown” can sound mysterious; or maybe it’s just another word for reckless disregard for the privacy of Americans. In a report in the Washington Post over the Fourth of July weekend, Barton Gellman, Julie Tate, and Ashkan Soltani examined a “large cache of intercepted communications.” (Like the “FISA Recap,” they were among the documents leaked by Edward Snowden, a former N.S.A. contractor.) In this cache, which “came from domestic NSA operations,” the Post found that nearly half the files “contained names, e-mail addresses or other details that the NSA marked as belonging to U.S. citizens or residents.” The N.S.A. is supposed to “minimize” the harm when it “incidentally” spies on Americans; the Post found nine hundred instances, in this sample, in which that was not done. And even minimizing can leave plenty in the government’s files—never mind that some agent may have already read about your views on your boss or your friends or your political associations before having the belated revelation that you are an American.
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In the first years of the new century, an assertive foreign policy took a toll on the cultivated role of the U.S. as a responsible global leader. The Century Foundation's work in this area provides perspective on the international difficulties the U.S. is facing today, while providing policy recommendations to promote the nation's security interests. Our research and analysis focuses on effectively responding to challenges in the Middle East and Pakistan, as well as responding to international crime.
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