May 16, 2006

US and EU cooperating on phone tracking

By now, all know about Plamegate, the Valerie Plame affair. It seems that the White House leaked information in order to suppress an alternate view to the approved intelligence story. As they leaked actual intelligence information to do this, the various leakers - Libby, Rove, and potentially Cheney - are under investigation and at least the first, Libby, has been charged (or something - I don't follow that circus in detail).

Now (following on from prior posts) comes news that many journalists are being tracked over phone calls to trace where the information leaks are coming from:

A senior federal law enforcement official tells ABC News the government is tracking the phone numbers we (Brian Ross and Richard Esposito) call in an effort to root out confidential sources. "It's time for you to get some new cell phones, quick," the source told us in an in-person conversation.

ABC News does not know how the government determined who we are calling, or whether our phone records were provided to the government as part of the recently-disclosed NSA collection of domestic phone calls.

Other sources have told us that phone calls and contacts by reporters for ABC News, along with the New York Times and the Washington Post, are being examined as part of a widespread CIA leak investigation. One former official was asked to sign a document stating he was not a confidential source for New York Times reporter James Risen.

Is it true? Or just journalists doing what they do best - hyperventilating? I don't know, but if we read the acerbic comments far enough past the calls to lynch all and sundry, we come across this one:

"You do realize people are being paid by the Bush administration to attack the press publically on comment pages like this. I personally was offered a job doing it."

If that's true, then the article is more or less confirmed. Find out what the Bush administration is paying to have suppressed or attacked, and that confirms it. You don't pay good money to attack something that isn't dangerous or is just false.

I hinted in an earlier blog entry that the phone records were being made available across the atlantic - but had no documentary evidence of that. Here's an article that speaks to that:

US authorities can get access to EU citizens' data on phone calls, sms' and emails, giving a recent EU data-retention law much wider-reaching consequences than first expected, reports Swedish daily Sydsvenskan.

So, the US and the EU are swapping phone calls, SMS and emails so as to chase terrorists? Sounds great, except it's not quite what is happening. The data is only going one way, from east to west.

What lopsided arrangement this is only time will tell, but it is indicative of the Wonderland politics going on at the moment. It will be I suspect a subject of many blog entries, newspaper reports and even books to speculate on what convinced EU politicians to give up Europe's fabled strong privacy regime and hand it over to the American intel, police, White House rumour control police, private investigators, credit reporting agencies, deadbeat dad chasers and other protectors of America's way of life.

Relevance for FC? Information is dangerous. Do not keep it, unless you need it. If you keep it, then expect someone to ask for it, and that then enters into your threat model.

I wonder if we are moving to a world where we deliberately cannot keep useful transaction, identity, personal and other sensitive data, simply because we can no longer figure out a system to protect it?

Posted by iang at May 16, 2006 04:11 AM | TrackBack

Get the branding right before we go further its a Sandwich Complex of Criminal Cover Ups. Its worse than they let you know its called the Pecker Sandwich on Bush. Two slices of Bush with a Pecker in the middle. Now if you like Spotted Dick as a desert treat thatís one thing but a Pecker Sandwich on Bush is a little rough going. The fact that Sandi Berger took documents about ABLE DANGER from the National Archives and Flight 800 had evidence stolen by the FBI to cover up the intelligence organizations prior knowledge is a crime but a crime in a complex of crimes a sandwich. The Branding is everything here because once you brand it there is sound bite moment and thatís all we really need.

Posted by: Jimbo at May 16, 2006 06:04 AM

FBI Secret Probes: 3,501 Targets in the U.S.

from above ...

Assistant Attorney General William Moschella told Congress last month that 9,254 National Security Letters were issued in 2005 involving 3,501 people

... snip ...

Federal law enforcement sources say the National Security Letters are being used to obtain phone records of reporters at ABC News and elsewhere in an attempt to learn confidential sources who may have provided classified information in violation of the law.

... snip ...

Posted by: Lynn Wheeler at May 16, 2006 07:03 PM
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