National security

Photo of the Day

Rick Ames. The Takedown of a CIA Officer Turned Soviet Spy – Photo: ABC News

Brilliant or Bumbling Idiot?

Rick Ames, a lifelong employee of the Central Intelligence Agency, betrayed at least 12 of the best secret agents working for the United States from within the Soviet Union and the Soviet bloc during the 1980’s. All were jailed and most were executed. “They died because this warped, murdering traitor wanted a bigger house and a Jaguar,” says the Director of Central Intelligence, R. James Woolsey.

From 1975 to 1985, the C.I.A. promoted Aldrich Hazen Ames, an alcoholic underachiever going through a financially ruinous divorce from a fellow spy, to increasingly sensitive posts, unaware that he was thinking all the decade about selling the agency’s deepest secrets to Moscow. For the next decade, it remained unaware that he was hand-delivering reams of top secret papers to the Soviets and talking his vodka-soaked heart out with his Communist case officers in annual all-nighters.

Spies. Nuclear warheads. Submarine technology. Stolen documents that could threaten national security. Countries have been spying on each other as long as there have been countries. When countries get their hands caught in the proverbial cookie jar, denial and feigned shock are the official reactions.

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Back to the future for national security surveillance

France says the Paris attacks are likely to have cost no more than 30,000 euros (NZ$49,000) to organise.

The attackers financed the assault by amassing several “tiny sums” which are hard to track, notably by using prepaid credit cards, Finance Minister Michel Sapin told a news conference.

“The cost of these latest attacks, the financing of the attacks, represents a sum not exceeding 30,000 euros,” Sapin said.

This means the attackers did not need to move any large sums of money during their preparations, he said.

The French finance ministry’s intelligence unit Tracfin said prepaid cards, some bought in Belgium, were used to pay for cars and apartments used by the assailants in the 48 hours preceding the attacks.

Sapin said tracking even small sums could turn out to be “crucial” in the fight against terror, if such data were cross-referenced with other parts of any investigation.

As part of efforts to improve surveillance of funds potentially used in future attack plans, France is to give Tracfin easier access to suspects’ files.

For some time, criminals, terrorists and spies were unaware what arrangements governments had made to monitor their communications and funding.  Governments have quietly placed interception points in their national communication and banking infrastructure, and certain parameters for red flags are set by monitoring meta data.   Read more »

More New Zealand residents under ISIS related surveillance

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Good to know

Over the past year the threat of a terrorist attack here had increased, the head of the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service says.

Rebecca Kitteridge’s comments come as troops are set deploy to Iraq on a joint training mission with Australia.

More New Zealanders were being monitored over the past year because of their links to Islamic State, she told Radio New Zealand. Read more »

Why do New Zealand journalists want to have the nitty gritty on national security matters?

As the first New Zealand troops prepare to deploy to Iraq, the first pictures have emerged of them training to deal with what might go wrong there.

It’s such a dangerous mission that the New Zealand Defence Force is being deliberately vague, leaving reporters to rely on detailed information coming from the Australians.

But when it comes to vague – the governments of both countries have something in common. Neither their Defence Minister, nor our Prime Minister, can name of the leader of our number one enemy – the most wanted man in the world.

Pictures of New Zealand soldiers training with Australia for the Iraq mission were taken last week in Brisbane. Twenty-six New Zealand troops and 59 Australians left Brisbane airport for the Middle East this afternoon, Channel 7 reports.

Although the New Zealand Government won’t confirm that, they say it’s officially a secret.

“Some are going to be leaving relatively soon, but for security reasons the advice we’ve had from Defence is to not say exactly when,” says John Key.

It’s certainly not a secret in Australia – Prime Minister Tony Abbott called a press conference to announce today’s departure. The Australian Department of Defence has even released footage and interviews of our troops training.

New Zealand troops will be based at Camp Taji, 30 kilometres north of Baghdad, where troops will be at the base by May.

“It’s going to be staged, we’re sending people over at a series of times,” says Mr Key.

The poor journalists have to rely on the Australians for any details.    Read more »

Face of the day

Before and after elevator girl

Before and after elevator girl

Today’s face of the day is the face captured by a technology called BriefCam which helped catch the Boston Marathon bombers.Thanks to this video search engine technology hours of footage can be condensed into minutes, enabling the good guys to catch the bad guys faster. People like Nicky Hager after a hard day pawing through other people’s hacked correspondence, will no doubt decry this technology as being controversial and ‘ shocking ‘ because it is taking away people’s privacy. I say, if you are in a public place expect to be under surveillance for both your protection and the protection of others. The crime solving capacity of this technology is exciting.

Films like “Minority Report” are no longer considered futuristic: video surveillance methods portrayed in this 2003 film are already in use. In fact, such methods have already helped in catching criminals and terrorists, albeit being controversial.

One of the most innovative technologies in this field was developed by Israeli company BriefCam, which helped in catching the Boston Marathon bombers. Using tracking algorithms, BriefCam enables users to track events caught on tape much more quickly, thus maximizing the potential of video surveillance.

A search engine for videos.

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Yawn. The only people who care are Fisher, Nippert and Snowden

You’re still wrong!

That’s the message from Prime Minister John Key after a former director of the GCSB said the spy agency did carry out “mass collection” of communications from the Pacific.

Sir Bruce Ferguson – who ran the GCSB from 2006 to 2010 – told National Radio today: “It’s the whole method of surveillance these days – it’s mass collection. To actually individualise that is mission impossible.”

He said New Zealanders information would be included in that but “you throw out the stuff you don’t want … and you keep the stuff you do want”.

He said the bureau acted within the law.

And that’s it really.   Governments spy.  We do it within the law.  Where’s the fire?   Read more »

Rob Hosking at NBR on spying

So. It seems we have a spying agency which, we learned today, spies on foreigners.

If anyone is surprised, let alone shocked, by this, they really are too gentle a soul for this cruel world.

Spying on foreigners is pretty much what comes on the label when you set up a spying agency. It’s what they do.

Unless you thought David Lange’s Labour government set up the Government Communications Security Bureau to run the country’s pest destruction boards, or to play Farmville on their neat new computers, what on earth did you think the agency has been doing?

The fact GCSB is spying on “friends?” First, those friends have some rather dubious friends and matters such as money laundering of criminal and terrorist activity are key parts of law enforcement these days.

Remember when one of our “friends” performed a state sanctioned act of terrorism in New Zealand by blowing the Rainbow Warrior up?   Read more »

Let’s cut short this pathetic media circus

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Dear New Zealanders

New Zealand belongs to a group of countries that includes Canada, the UK, the USA and Australia, more recently referred to as “the club”.  They operate communications surveillance bases.

In the course of their work, they have the potential to monitor all communications (more or less), and pick and choose what may be of interest depending on a set of criteria that are by and large the same but may change over time depending on emerging threats to national security. Read more »

Panty sniffers

Nathan_panty_sniffer

Panty sniffer number one has a thing for American government employees’ underwear. He just can’t get enough of it. The more he sniffs the more he is shocked that skid marks not only exist but in some cases are downright disgusting. He considers that he is doing the American public a service by revealing the details, ( the dirty, smelly details ). He rejects the title ‘Panty Sniffer’ which suggests that he is in some way perverted for having a fixation with other people’s underwear and that he is a criminal for rooting around in other peoples dirty laundry searching for stains and other unsavory marks.

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New Zealand muslims want to talk to John Key

John Key says he’ll “certainly” meet with Muslim leaders who want to talk to him about tackling potential terrorist threats.

The Federation of Islamic Associations says it hasn’t had a response to written requests to meet with Mr Key to discuss recent anti-terrorism legislation and the decision to send Kiwi troops to Iraq.

“I’ll certainly meet with them, and when I don’t know,” Mr Key told reporters today.

Mr Key says his office gets “hundreds and hundreds” of letters, requests and invitations and he doesn’t “control that process”.

“There’s an army of people who do. But I do see Muslim leaders when I go to things. I am going to a mosque pretty soon I’m aware of, but I’m more than happy to meet Muslim leaders.”

There is a very, very basic test for any Muslim in New Zealand.   When something happens, are they a New Zealander first, or a Muslim first?   For example, if a woman wearing a t-shirt and shorts is set upon by men, would a New Zealand Muslim policeman act for the woman, or agree with the men?

The test gets harder when a Muslim blows up a Jewish business.  Will the Muslims leaders that want to meet with Key condemn the killing of Jews and call for the Muslim to be put through the New Zealand legal system?   Read more »