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What does the latest Wikileaks file dump actually tell us about domestic spying?

Gerry Bello

The short the shortest answer is very few new things at first glance. Second answer, there is at least one gem – which is there is still a domestic spying effort. Third answer, all of Uncle Sam's children share their toys with one another, work together, operate domestically and invited their British friends. The mainstream press, lead by the government owned NPR, was quick to say “The NSA collected American data; no evidence the CIA is doing so.” when discussing how the leak wast less revealing then being “Snowden 2.0.”

NPR doubled down on this outright lie they repeated from former CIA director Michael Hayden's appearance on CBS's the late show "I can tell you that these tools would not be used against an American."

Had anyone over at the home of such fabled radio shows as “All things Irrelevant” actually started to read the documents as opposed to just quoting retired spies appearing on comedy shows in the middle of the night, they might have spotted a smoking gun.

Within the cluster of documents concerning the various toolkits for hacking Android phones was a comprhensive list of tools by type and contractor. There were only four contractors for all of the hacking tools. Forbes speculated on who those contractors might be, but failed to notice the big reveal in the classification of the document itself.

The Document is classified as “[NSA] [FBI] [GCHQ] [MI5]” which means in addition to the CIA, the FBI can read it. The FBI does domestic intelligence work. FBI director Comey appeared at a cyber security symposium at Boston University yesterday to give a speech in which he said “Nation states engage in intelligence gathering. They always have, they always will.” Coming less then 24 hours after the March 7th leak, this puts Comey at odds with statements by a former CIA director.

While Comey was happy to remind us of how secure he is in his position “You’re stuck with me for about another six and a half years,” he said. He did not mention how this particular document or who else he is sharing the CIAs toys with.

GCHQ refers to Government Communications Head Quarters and is the UK version of the NSA. The NSA has shared tools, intelligence, toys, techniques with GCHQ since WWII along with similar organizations in Canada, New Zealand, and Australia, in what is known as the Five Eyes spying agreement.

Not only does the GCHQ have access to this document, a presumably all the things in the toolbox, but MI-5 does as well. MI-5 is the UK's premier domestic spying agency. They operate inside the UK and it answers to the Home Secretary. Some how the public is expected to believe the bland pronouncements of the man who oversaw the very projects in question, who desk the very documents crossed, rather than what is written in the documents themselves.

While Android products are world dominant and thus an obvious target, market penetration is into Russia is half what it is North America, China and Europe. IOS is not mentioned as much in the press reporters, but it was penetrated too. The list shows thirteen possible attacks on various IOS versions that are constantly updated. The attacks were discovered or invented by various sources.

The entries in the table including the sources of the attacks include “CIA,” “Purchased from the CIA,” “NSA,” “FBI, ROU,” “GCHQ,” “JDW,” “purchased BAITSHOP,” and “Productized at TRICLOPS workshop.” BAITSHOP, along with TRICLOPS and Peppermint are obvious codenames for contracting companies. JDW stands for “Joint Development Workshop” of the GCHQ which is an NSA – GCHQ technical partnership.

With the FBI developing IOS hacks and sharing them with the CIA, and vice-versa, Michael Hayden and NPR have been exposed as giving what former NSA director General James Clapper called the “least untruthful answer” when he lied to Congress in open session in 2013 about the NSA's bulk collection of the public's phone calls and emails.

The hidden reality at play in this massive effort to coordinate spying on the public is that the best efforts of five intelligence agencies in two countries can not keep up with the pace of technological change as fast as they would like.

This is the real reason that James Comey demanded Apple build a custom backdoor into IOS last year. The intelligence agencies want instant access to any and every thing and they are not willing to pay for reverse engineer it in all cases. Far from Obama's pronouncement that “Nobody is reading your emails.”, pretty much everybody with a badge and a stupid haircut in two countries is trying.