Tag Archive: wikileaks

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Frank Koch
The TPP is “NAFTA on steroids” and will do even greater damage to the economy and sovereignty of the United States. By Joe Wolverton, II, J.D.




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Fight for the Future

Last week, WikiLeaks released the final text of the TPP’s intellectual property rights chapter and it is absolutely terrifying.

These are just a few of its most dangerous pieces:

  • Compel ISPs to take down websites without any sort of court order, just like SOPA. (Appendix Section I)

  • Extend the US’s copyright regime to require copyrights stand for life plus 70 years, preventing anyone from using works that belong in the public domain. (Article QQ.G.6)

  • Criminalize whistleblowing by extending trade secrets laws without any mandatory exemptions for whistleblowers or investigative journalists. (QQ.H.8)

  • End anonymity online by forcing every domain name to be associated with a real name and address. (Article QQ.C.12)

  • Make it illegal to unlock, modify, or generally tinker with a device you own. (Article QQ.G.10)

  • Export the US’s broken copyright policies to the rest of the world without expanding any of the free speech protections, like fair use. (Article QQ.G.17)

The worst part is that this is just one of the TPP’s 30 chapters.

The final text confirms our worst fears — click here to take action demanding Congress vote NO on the TPP.

For years, governments have held critics of the massive Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement in a perfect catch 22. Officials brushed off public outcry and concern by claiming that the dissenters didn’t have all the facts.

This was by design—the 12 country trade deal was negotiated entirely behind closed doors by industry lobbyists and government appointees, and even now the text of the agreement is still classified.

But late last week, WikiLeaks released the final text of the Intellectual Property chapter, meaning those excuses won’t work anymore.

We’re planning to go all out against the TPP, but the first step is to make sure Congress knows just how many people oppose the TPP.

Click here to take action demanding Congress vote NO on the TPP.

Taking action today is just the beginning, because if all we do is send emails and make phone calls, Congress is not going to reject the TPP. Too many giant industries are seriously invested in making sure Congress ratifies the TPP.

If we’re going to win, we need to go big. Which is exactly what we’re going to do.

So take action right now. Contact your Congresspeople now and tell them to vote against the TPP. Then get ready to do more because we’re going to unleash some of our strongest campaigns ever.

Already we have plans to work with hundreds of different groups as a massive coalition to fight the TPP, coordinate gigantic on-the-ground protests in key cities across the country, and produce compelling content to spread the word to as many different audiences as possible just what is at stake in the TPP.

To do all that, we need your help — if you can, pledge to chip in $5 every month between now and when the TPP fight ends so that we can run our biggest, boldest, and best campaign yet.

Thanks for all you do,

P.S. Want to read the text of the chapter for yourself? Check it out on WikiLeaks here, or read their overview of it here. It’s long and complicated, so maybe you’ll see something that we didn’t. If you do, send us an email.

David Noyes


— Noam Chomsky has joined the chorus decrying the TPP, which has very little to do with free trade and is really about limiting regulation, helping corporate interests and imposing fiercer standards of intellectual property (to, again, largely benefit corporate interests).

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The Obama administration’s Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal is an “assault,” on working people intended to further corporate “domination,” according to author…
Elizabeth Mueller

Let me give you an example of what TPP could allow:

You are an independent journalist or blogger. You need content. Suddenly, all the pictures, videos, memes and articles become “private property.” You want to cite the video, where the now former NRC chairman turns whistleblower and says he’s adamantly anti-nuclear, after witnessing the damage at Fukushima. You can’t. A major news outlet owns the press conference video footage. You place a stupid cat meme on your page, withou

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Frank Koch

A chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership released by WikiLeaks reveals potential violations of applicable U.S. environmental standards.

A chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership released by WikiLeaks reveals potential violations of applicable U.S. environmental standards. By Joe Wolverton, II, J.D.
Jennifer Hibberd
Ed Schultz led the coverage over the dangers of TPP. Finally, Congress and the media begin to realize the importance of stopping this bill. Larry Cohen joins.

‪#‎AceSecurityNews‬ says latest information and opinions from RT on the release of the “TTPP Uncovered: WikiLeaks releases draft of highly-secretive multi-national trade deal” documents together with download at this link PDF
Published time: November 13, 2013 17:36
Edited time: November 15, 2013 09:36

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#AceSecurityNews says latest information from RT on the release of the “TTPP Uncovered: WikiLeaks releases draft of highly-secretive multi-national trade…

Army rejects clemency for Chelsea Manning

Published time: April 14, 2014 17:14
Edited time: April 14, 2014 17:48

Chelsea Manning, formerly known as Bradley (Reuters/Gary Cameron)

Chelsea Manning, formerly known as Bradley (Reuters/Gary Cameron)

WikiLeaks source Chelsea Manning will not receive clemency from the United States military, the US Army said on Monday afternoon.

A news release circulated by the US Army Military District of Washington early Monday confirmed that the Pentagon official who could have agreed to reduce or eliminate the sentence imposed last year on the former intelligence analyst declined to do so. The case will next automatically be sent to the Army Court of Criminals Appeals.

According to the press release, the convening authority, Maj. Gen. Jeffrey S. Buchanan, approved the findings and sentence adjudged at last summer’s court-martial, in turn rejecting requests for Manning to receive clemency.

As convening authority, Buchanan could have elected to disapprove of Army Col. Denise Lind’s decision last summer to sentence Manning to 35 years in prison after the analyst admitted to sharing a trove of classified military documents with the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks. Lind sentenced the solder to 35 years in prison and demoted her to private first class after finding the soldier guilty of multiple counts, including espionage, theft and computer fraud.


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Chelsea Manning’s 35-year prison sentence upheld by US army general

Chelsea Manning
Manning pleaded guilty to 10 charges but was convicted last year on 20 counts, including espionage and theft. Photo: Ho/AFP/Getty Images

A US army general has denied clemency for Chelsea Manning and upheld the former soldier’s 35-year prison sentence for providing secret files to WikiLeaks in the biggest breach of classified materials in US history, the army said Monday.

Major General Jeffrey S Buchanan’s decision to uphold the findings of Manning’s 2013 court-martial will automatically send the case to the army court of criminal appeals, an Army statement said.

The soldier, formerly known as Bradley Manning, was working as an intelligence analyst in Baghdad in 2010 when she gave the pro-transparency site WikiLeaks 700,000 documents, videos, diplomatic cables and battlefield accounts.

The trove included a 2007 video of a US Apache helicopter firing at suspected insurgents in Iraq, killing a dozen people, including two Reuters news staffers.


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Rolling Stone

The WikiLeaks Mole

Siggi Thordarson with Julian Assange in London 2011.
Allen Clark
January 6, 2014 9:00 AM ET

On a recent frigid night near Reykjavik, Iceland, Sigurdur “Siggi” Thordarson slips into a bubbling geothermal pool at a suburban swim club. The cherubic, blond 21-year-old, who has been called everything in the press from “attention seeker” to “traitor” to “psychopath,” ends many of his days here, where, like most places around the city, he’s notorious. But even at a spa, he can find only the briefest moment of relaxation. Soon, the local prosecutor who is trying him for leaking financial records joins him in the tub, and Siggi quickly has to flee to another pool. “How does it feel to be the most dangerous man in Iceland?” a bather shouts across the steam.

Julian Assange: The Rolling Stone Interview

In person, Siggi’s doughy shape and boyish smile make him seem less than menacing – unless you’re another one of the world’s most dangerous men, Julian Assange. Four years ago, just as WikiLeaks was winning international notoriety, the then-17-year-old hacking prodigy became Assange’s youngest and most trusted sidekick. “It was like Batman and Robin,” says Birgitta Jónsdóttir, a former WikiLeaks volunteer and member of the Icelandic parliament. But as Assange became more embattled and besieged, the protégé turned on his mentor in the most shocking of ways: becoming the first FBI informant inside the group.

Siggi’s story of international espionage and teenage high-roller antics plays like James Bond meets Superbad, starring a confounding mash-up of awkward man-child and balls-out tech savant. And his tale reveals not only the paranoia and strife within WikiLeaks, but just how far the feds were willing to go to get Assange.

Siggi still lives with his parents in a nondescript high-rise, sitting at his computer in a bedroom lined with stuffed animals, including an orangutan-size Garfield he bought for $2,000. But his jet-black Mercedes ML350 is parked outside, which, along with his recent conviction for sexual misconduct against a 17-year-old boy (he says the relationship was consensual), speaks to his bizarre double life.

The Trials of Bradley Manning

The revelation of Siggi’s role as an FBI snitch has polarized WikiLeaks insiders. When I met with WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson (Assange declined to talk for this story), he grew red in the face, dismissing Siggi as “a pathological liar,” a party line echoed by the WikiLeaks faithful. “It all sounds rather absurd,” Hrafnsson says, “to go and to spend all this time analyzing the absolute bullshit that is flowing out of this young man, who is so troubled that he should be hospitalized.”

While other WikiLeaks insiders also question Siggi’s credibility, they insist that his story can’t be discounted, and there’s more to it than the organization is letting on. Tangerine Bolen, founder of the whistle-blowing advocacy organization Revolution­Truth, which used to work closely with WikiLeaks, is among those who say the group’s efforts to discredit Siggi are “patently false. They’re scared. The fact is Siggi played a key role in the organization and was very close to Julian.”

The truth, it seems, may be held in the leaks. Siggi has provided Rolling Stone with more than a terabyte of secret files he claims to have taken from WikiLeaks before he left in November 2011 and gave to the FBI: thousands of pages of chat logs, videos, tapped phone calls, government documents and more than a few bombshells from the organization’s most heated years. They’re either the real thing, or the most elaborate lie of the digital age.

Jacob Applebaum: The American WikiLeaks Hacker

Assange himself validated the importance of Siggi’s documents when he filed an affidavit late this past summer asserting that “the FBI illegally acquired stolen organisational and personal data belonging to WikiLeaks, me and other third parties in Denmark in March 2012” and that the FBI “was attempting to entrap me through Sigurdur Thordarson.”

Whatever their origins, the SiggiLeaks are a deep and revealing portal into one of the most guarded and influential organizations of the 21st century – and the extreme measures its embattled leader is willing to take. Of all Assange’s allies who’ve come and gone, few served him as faithfully as Siggi, or betrayed him so utterly. “One thing is sure,” Siggi tells me in his thick Icelandic accent, as the vapors from the thermal pool rise around him. “I have not lived a life like a teenager.”

Like Assange and so many gifted hackers, Siggi had an isolated childhood. The son of a hairdresser and a paint-company sales manager, he grew up with his little sister in a middle­class suburb of Reykjavik. Though puckish and bright, he was bored by school, alienated from his classmates and dreamed of a life beyond bourgeois Nordic comfort. “When I was, like, 12 years old, I wished for a couple of things,” he tells me as we drive one afternoon past some lava fields outside the capital. “I wished to be rich; I wished to be a famous guy; I wished to live an adventureful life.”

He found the excitement he craved in computers, and at age 12 he says he hacked into his first website, a local union’s home page, which he replaced with a picture of “a big fluffy monkey.” The experience empowered him. “When you do something like that, you feel invincible,” he says, “and if you can do that, what else can you do?”

He found out two years later, when, on a plane back from a family vacation, he fixed a laptop for a businessman sitting next to him. The executive was so impressed by his skills that he offered him a job at the Icelandic financial firm Milestone: scrubbing computers of sensitive documents. Siggi figures the company trusted him with such data because he was only 14 and must have thought, as he says, “I wouldn’t understand what I was supposed to delete.” Plus, the pay dwarfed that of his paper route.

WikiLeaks’ Greatest Hits

Curious about the files he was erasing, he’d copy them and study them at night. What he eventually discovered astonished him: Employees of Milestone seemed guilty of large-scale corruption in collusion with local politicians. At this time, in 2009, Iceland was reeling from the worldwide financial crisis, and Siggi believed the people deserved to know the role of Milestone and their dirty politicians – even if that meant leaking the files. “Someone has to do it,” he thought, “and why not me?”

In the fall, Siggi says he brought more than 600 gigabytes of Milestone data to the Icelandic newspaper Dagbladid Vísir, making front-page news and leading to investigations against the politicians and businessmen he exposed. Siggi believed in the importance of exposing the corruption he describes as “illegal as it gets.” With his identity still secret, he kept on leaking to other media outlets until, for reasons he never learned, his childhood friend outed him, a betrayal that changed him. “I literally just stopped believing in humanity,” he says. “Since then, I just basically stopped having feelings.”

But after being arrested and splashed across the news, he found a powerful connection in Kristinn Hrafnsson. A well-known TV reporter in Reykjavik at the time, Hrafnsson considered Siggi’s leaks to be “quite significant” and worthy of an introduction to another up-and-coming whistle-blower, Julian Assange, who was speaking at the University of Iceland. Though WikiLeaks had already exposed death squads in Kenya and financial malfeasance in the Swiss bank Julius Baer, the group was still largely unknown. But at the panel, Siggi found, to his surprise, that Assange was well aware of his work – he even chastised the reporter who revealed Siggi’s name in the Milestone leak. “He was basically just condemning the guy, sayingouting whistle­blowers is wrong,” recalls Siggi, who reveled in the support.

The bond between the two was immediate. Assange too had been arrested for hacking when he was a young man in Australia. He also had a son, Daniel, who was roughly Siggi’s age, whom he had little contact. “I think Julian saw himself in Siggi,” says Jónsdóttir. “Julian felt an immediate sympathy toward the kid.”

After the panel, Siggi says he took Assange to Sea Bar, a small, rustic restaurant on the water. Over lobster soup and whale steak, they spoke about politics, hacking and their shared sense of purpose in exposing the secrets of the elite. Assange struck Siggi as someone with the courage to take on anyone. “He’s the kind of activist that does the thing that has to be done,” Siggi tells me. After talking for a few hours, Assange took out a small metal box. “Have you ever seen this before?” he said.

Assange cracked open the container and revealed three phones inside. “These are encrypted cellphones,” he said. “I’m going to give you one. Just keep it on at all times so I can communicate with you, day and night.”

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Industry consultants said anti-tar sands push could become ‘the most significant environmental campaign of the decade’ if activists were left unopposed.

Dec 5, 2013

Keystone XL oil pipeline protest


Thousands of protesters demonstrate in Washington D.C. against the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline in February 2013. According to a 2010 Power Point presentation prepared by Strafor for industry, “activists lack influence in politics.” But letting the movement grow unopposed may bring about “the most significant environmental campaign of the decade.” Credit: Bora Chung

As environmentalists began ratcheting up pressure against Canada’s tar sands three years ago, one of the world’s biggest strategic consulting firms was tapped to help the North American oil industry figure out how to handle the mounting activism. The resulting document, published online by WikiLeaks, offers another window into how oil and gas companies have been scrambling to deal with unrelenting opposition to their growth plans.

The document identifies nearly two-dozen environmental organizations leading the anti-oil sands movement and puts them into four categories: radicals, idealists, realists and opportunists—with how-to’s for managing each. It also reveals that the worst-case scenario presented to industry about the movement’s growing influence seems to have come to life.

The December 2010 presentation by Strategic Forecasting, or Stratfor, a global intelligence firm based in Texas, mostly advised oil sands companies to ignore or limit reaction to the then-burgeoning tar sands opposition movement because “activists lack influence in politics.” But there was a buried warning for industry under one scenario: Letting the movement grow unopposed may bring about “the most significant environmental campaign of the decade.”

“This worst-case scenario is exactly what has happened,” partly because opposition to tar sands development has expanded beyond nonprofit groups to include individual activists concerned about climate change, said Mark Floegel, a senior investigator for Greenpeace. “The more people in America see Superstorm Sandys or tornadoes in Chicago, the more they are waking up and joining the fight.”

[View the documents at Inside Climate News]

Since the presentation was prepared, civil disobedience and protests against the tar sands have sprung up from coast to coast. The movement has helped delay President Obama’s decision on the Keystone XL pipeline—designed to funnel Canada’s landlocked oil sands crude to refineries on the Gulf Coast—and has held up another contentious pipeline in Canada, the Northern Gateway to the Pacific Coast.

The Power Point document, titled “Oil Sands Market Campaigns,” was recently made public by WikiLeaks, part of a larger release of hacked files from Stratfor, whose clients include the Departments of Homeland Security and Defense, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and the American Petroleum Institute, the oil industry lobby. It appears to have been created for Calgary-based petroleum giant Suncor Energy, Canada’s largest oil sands producer.

The company told InsideClimate News that it did not hire Stratfor and never saw such a presentation. Suncor is mentioned 11 times in the document’s 35 pages and all of Stratfor’s advice seems to be directed at the energy company. For example, one slide says, “Campaign ends quickly with a resolution along the lines Suncor had wanted.” In several emails released by WikiLeaks, Stratfor employees discuss a $14,890 payment Suncor owes the company for two completed projects, though no details were provided.

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Britain ‘snooped’ on Icelandic officials’ emails to recover cash from broken banks

Published time: November 10, 2013 12:06

AFP Photo / Nicholas Kamm

AFP Photo / Nicholas Kamm

An Icelandic MP says Britain spied on Iceland while wrestling to rescue its citizens’ cash from collapsed Icelandic banks after the financial crisis. Birgitta Jónsdóttir claims she received a tip-off from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Jónsdóttir, who represents Iceland’s Pirate Party, maintains that the UK’s intelligence agencies systematically intercepted messages sent by Icelandic negotiators when Britain tried to recover savers’ cash held in the country’s banks that went bankrupt.

Jónsdóttir, a prominent WikiLeaks supporter, said that she was tipped off to the spying in 2010 by Assange, Iceland’s Visir newspaper reported.

Having received the tip-off, she warned members of Iceland’s negotiating team not to send emails to each other.

“The UK authorities had very good access to everything that was going on between members of the team. It is the role of intelligence, for example MI5, to spy on other countries, especially if it concerns their national interests. Their duty was to gather information and intelligence about us, and the duty of the Icelandic government was to do everything to protect us against such espionage,” Jónsdóttir told the newspaper.

The revelation could reignite tensions between the UK and Iceland, which were stoked in 2008 when the UK government used anti-terrorism legislation to freeze an Icelandic bank’s assets in the UK. The British Chancellor of the Exchequer at the time, Alastair Darling, seized the funds of Landsbanki’s Internet bank, Icesave, to protect UK depositors’ money after the Icelandic government reacted to Landsbanki’s toxic debts by nationalizing the bank.

Last week, Britain got involved in another major spy scandal when it was reported that the UK has been allegedly using its Berlin embassy to spy on the nearby Bundestag, as well as the office of Chancellor Angela Merkel.

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The president helped end the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that locked LGBT military service members in the closet. During his 2012 campaign, he reduced deportations of undocumented youth who came to the U.S. as children. But, with few other exceptions, his actions have served the wealthy elite and expanded the attacks on working people pushed by G. W. Bush.
Immigration: the Iron Curtain Border

Obama has deported more immigrants than predecessor Bush. “We put more boots on the ground on the southern border than at any time in our history,” boasts his official website.

 His “reform” proposal includes more border militarization — to be implemented before a supposed path to citizenship opens up for undocumented immigrants. That path is barricaded with high fines and fees, and years of waiting, with social services denied in the meantime.

His mandatory electronic employment verification system, E-Verify, would require all U.S. workers to prove authorization to work. In other words, it is a national ID system.

Low-income “guest workers,” would be deported after 60 days of unemployment, virtually guaranteeing most would be too fearful and desperate to risk their jobs by speaking up for their rights or engaging in union organizing.

 Persecuting whistleblowers and activists

Obama has prosecuted more government whistleblowers than any other president — and the list is growing as he ramps up his war on dissent. His take-no-prisoners stance has fallen on Jeremy Hammond, facing up to 10 years for hacking into the website of security contractor Stratfor and giving the lowdown to the WikiLeaks website. Journalist Barrett Brown faces up to 105 years for reporting on exposures on private intelligence firms by the hacker group Anonymous. Environmental activist Tim DeCristopher served 21 months for civil disobedience that saved 22,000 acres of wilderness from illegal sale. See this issue’s article on Pfc. Manning and Edward Snowden for details.

Pre-emptive strikes against “troublemakers” are common. In May 2012, nine arrests were made of activists preparing for anti-NATO demonstrations in Chicago. Most were baseless, while four involved cases of entrapment by undercover cops who urged the use of incendiary devices.

Civil rights and people’s attorney Lynne Stewart was convicted of “material support to terrorism” for the high crime of passing a press release to the media for a client. Her original sentence of 28 months was extended to 10 years — at age 72 — at the urging of administration officials. Now the Federal Bureau of Prisons has denied her petition for compassionate release for treatment of an advancing cancer. For a link to her petition see www.lynnestewart.org, and see the FS article Release Lynne Stewart for words from her.

Two Somali women who sent aid back home were similarly accused of giving “material support to terrorism,” and sentenced to lengthy prison terms. The group they worked with was designated a terrorist organization by Obama’s regime after the fact.

Mumia Abu-Jamal, the Black radical journalist falsely convicted of murder after a racist trial in 1982, has consistently been denied justice in state and federal courts. Obama’s Attorney General, Eric Holder, has upheld this legalized lynching by refusing to intervene or urge the release of Mumia for his long unjust imprisonment, much of it in solitary confinement. Sign the petition here.

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Hot News 2

Published on Aug 22, 2013

The NSA surveillance of millions of emails and phone calls. The dogged pursuit of whistleblower Edward Snowden across the globe, regardless of the diplomatic fallout. And the sentencing of Bradley Manning to 35 years in prison for giving a cache of government files to the website WikiLeaks. Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg sees these events as signs that the United States is becoming a police state.

“We have not only the capability of a police state, but certain beginnings of it right now,” Ellsberg said. “And I absolutely agree with Edward Snowden. It’s worth a person’s life, prospect of assassination, or life in prison or life in exile — it’s worth that to try to restore our liberties and make this a democratic country.”

Ellsberg was a military analyst with the RAND Corporation in 1969 when he secretly copied thousands of classified documents about U.S. decision-making during the Vietnam War. In 1971, he leaked the files (known as the Pentagon Papers) to The New York Times and 18 other newspapers.

Although the Nixon administration tried to prevent the publication of the files, the Supreme Court ruled in New York Times Co. v. United States that the newspaper could continue publishing the files.

Ellsberg was later tried on 12 felony counts under the Espionage Act of 1917, and faced a possible sentence of 115 years in prison. His case was dismissed in 1973 on the grounds of gross governmental misconduct.

As a candidate in 2008, Barack Obama praised instances of whistle-blowing as “acts of courage and patriotism.” Since becoming president, however, his administration has charged more people under the Espionage Act than all other presidents combined.

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A military judge on Wednesday sentenced Pfc. Bradley Manning to 35 years in prison, bringing to a close the government’s determined pursuit of the Army intelligence analyst who leaked the largest cache of classified documents in U.S. history.The long prison term is likely to hearten national security officials who have been rattled by the subsequent leaks from former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. Manning’s conviction might also encourage the government to bring charges against the man who was instrumental in the publication of the documents, Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks.


A military judge sentenced Army Pfc. Bradley Manning to 35 years in prison for giving a trove of military and diplomatic secrets to WikiLeaks.

A military judge sentenced Army Pfc. Bradley Manning to 35 years in prison for giving a trove of military and diplomatic secrets to WikiLeaks.

Manning’s supporters and detractors took to Twitter to voice their opinions on his 35-year sentence.

Manning, 25, was acquitted last month of the most serious charge he faced — aiding the enemy — but was convicted of multiple other counts, including violations of the Espionage Act, for copying and disseminating classified military field reports, State Department cables, and assessments of detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.“The message won’t be lost for everyone in the military,” said Steven Bucci, director of the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies at the Heritage Foundation. “When you sign a security clearance and swear oaths, you actually have to abide by that. It is not optional.”Civil liberties groups condemned the judge’s decision.“When a soldier who shared information with the press and public is punished far more harshly than others who tortured prisoners and killed civilians, something is seriously wrong with our justice system,” said Ben Wizner, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project. “This is a sad day for Bradley Manning, but it’s also a sad day for all Americans who depend on brave whistleblowers and a free press for a fully informed public debate.”

Manning will receive 31 / 2 years of credit for time served in pretrial confinement and for the abusive treatment he endured in a Marine brig at Quantico, making him eligible for parole in seven years. He will serve his sentence at the military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

On Wednesday, Manning stood at attention, with his attorneys at his side and his aunt behind him, as he listened to Judge Denise Lind read the sentence aloud. He did not appear to react to her decision.

Lind, an Army colonel, also said Manning would be dishonorably discharged, reduced in rank to private, and forfeit all pay. He had faced up to 90 years in prison.

As Manning was escorted out of the packed courtroom at Fort Meade, more than half a dozen supporters shouted out to him: “We’ll keep fighting for you, Bradley! You’re our hero!”

According to his attorney David Coombs, Manning told his distraught defense team after the sentence was issued, “It’s okay. Don’t worry about it. I know you did your best. I am going to be okay. I am going to get through this.”

Coombs said at a news conference that he will seek a presidential pardon for his client in the coming weeks. He read a statement from Manning in which the private reiterated his reasons for leaking classified material, saying he had “started to question the morality” of U.S. policy. Manning added that if his request for a pardon is denied, he will serve his time “knowing sometimes you pay a heavy price to live in a free country.”

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How Laura Poitras Helped Snowden Spill His Secrets

Olaf Blecker for The New York Times

Documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras in Berlin.

This past January, Laura Poitras received a curious e-mail from an anonymous stranger requesting her public encryption key. For almost two years, Poitras had been working on a documentary about surveillance, and she occasionally received queries from strangers. She replied to this one and sent her public key — allowing him or her to send an encrypted e-mail that only Poitras could open, with her private key — but she didn’t think much would come of it.

Q. & A.: Edward Snowden Speaks to Peter Maass

Why he turned to Poitras and Greenwald.

The stranger responded with instructions for creating an even more secure system to protect their exchanges. Promising sensitive information, the stranger told Poitras to select long pass phrases that could withstand a brute-force attack by networked computers. “Assume that your adversary is capable of a trillion guesses per second,” the stranger wrote.

Before long, Poitras received an encrypted message that outlined a number of secret surveillance programs run by the government. She had heard of one of them but not the others. After describing each program, the stranger wrote some version of the phrase, “This I can prove.”

Seconds after she decrypted and read the e-mail, Poitras disconnected from the Internet and removed the message from her computer. “I thought, O.K., if this is true, my life just changed,” she told me last month. “It was staggering, what he claimed to know and be able to provide. I just knew that I had to change everything.”

Poitras remained wary of whoever it was she was communicating with. She worried especially that a government agent might be trying to trick her into disclosing information about the people she interviewed for her documentary, including Julian Assange, the editor of WikiLeaks. “I called him out,” Poitras recalled. “I said either you have this information and you are taking huge risks or you are trying to entrap me and the people I know, or you’re crazy.”

The answers were reassuring but not definitive. Poitras did not know the stranger’s name, sex, age or employer (C.I.A.? N.S.A.? Pentagon?). In early June, she finally got the answers. Along with her reporting partner, Glenn Greenwald, a former lawyer and a columnist for The Guardian, Poitras flew to Hong Kong and met the N.S.A. contractor Edward J. Snowden, who gave them thousands of classified documents, setting off a major controversy over the extent and legality of government surveillance. Poitras was right that, among other things, her life would never be the same.

Greenwald lives and works in a house surrounded by tropical foliage in a remote area of Rio de Janeiro. He shares the home with his Brazilian partner and their 10 dogs and one cat, and the place has the feel of a low-key fraternity that has been dropped down in the jungle. The kitchen clock is off by hours, but no one notices; dishes tend to pile up in the sink; the living room contains a table and a couch and a large TV, an Xbox console and a box of poker chips and not much else. The refrigerator is not always filled with fresh vegetables. A family of monkeys occasionally raids the banana trees in the backyard and engages in shrieking battles with the dogs.

Glenn Greenwald, a writer for The Guardian, at home in Rio de Janeiro.
Mauricio Lima for The New York Times

Glenn Greenwald, a writer for The Guardian, at home in Rio de Janeiro.

Greenwald does most of his work on a shaded porch, usually dressed in a T-shirt, surfer shorts and flip-flops. Over the four days I spent there, he was in perpetual motion, speaking on the phone in Portuguese and English, rushing out the door to be interviewed in the city below, answering calls and e-mails from people seeking information about Snowden, tweeting to his 225,000 followers (and conducting intense arguments with a number of them), then sitting down to write more N.S.A. articles for The Guardian, all while pleading with his dogs to stay quiet. During one especially fever-pitched moment, he hollered, “Shut up, everyone,” but they didn’t seem to care.

Amid the chaos, Poitras, an intense-looking woman of 49, sat in a spare bedroom or at the table in the living room, working in concentrated silence in front of her multiple computers. Once in a while she would walk over to the porch to talk with Greenwald about the article he was working on, or he would sometimes stop what he was doing to look at the latest version of a new video she was editing about Snowden. They would talk intensely — Greenwald far louder and more rapid-fire than Poitras — and occasionally break out laughing at some shared joke or absurd memory. The Snowden story, they both said, was a battle they were waging together, a fight against powers of surveillance that they both believe are a threat to fundamental American liberties.

Read More Here


Snowden: American media ‘abdicated their role as check to power’

Published time: August 14, 2013 14:13
Edited time: August 15, 2013 04:55

(L-R) Laura Poitras (Reuters / Lucy Nicholson), Edward Snowden (AFP Photo / The Guardian) and Glenn Greenwald (Reuters / Sergio Moraes)

(L-R) Laura Poitras (Reuters / Lucy Nicholson), Edward Snowden (AFP Photo / The Guardian) and Glenn Greenwald (Reuters / Sergio Moraes)

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has gone on the offensive against his critics in the US, accusing the mainstream media there of failing their audiences “for fear of being seen as unpatriotic and punished in the market.”

In a rare interview, Snowden explained why he chose a UK journalist and a documentary filmmaker for his leaks.

In an encrypted e-mail correspondence with journalist Peter Maass, the former NSA contractor-turned-whistleblower presented his candid opinion of the US media and what finally persuaded him to go public on the NSA’s worldwide surveillance program.

The heightened level of nationalism prevalent in the United States following the attacks of 9/11 precluded US media from engaging in any serious discussion on the excesses of government behavior for fear of seeming “unpatriotic,” Snowden argued in the interview published in The New York Times – his first since gaining temporary asylum in Russia.

“After 9/11, many of the most important news outlets in America abdicated their role as a check to power — the journalistic responsibility to challenge the excesses of government — for fear of being seen as unpatriotic and punished in the market during a period of heightened nationalism,” the NY Times reported Snowden as saying.

The former CIA employee said this strategy by the American media establishment had “ended up costing the public dearly.”

Snowden then revealed what led him to divulge his explosive information to Laura Poitras, the documentary filmmaker who served first as an intermediary between Snowden and Glenn Greenwald, an investigative journalist with The Guardian, and now with Maass.

“Laura and Glenn are among the few who reported fearlessly on controversial topics throughout this period, even in the face of withering personal criticism, and resulted in Laura specifically becoming targeted by the very programs involved in the recent disclosures,” Snowden said.

Poitras “demonstrated the courage, personal experience and skill needed to handle what is probably the most dangerous assignment any journalist can be given — reporting on the secret misdeeds of the most powerful government in the world,” Snowden said in the NY Times interview, adding that those qualifications made her “an obvious choice.”

Demonstrators hold up a placard in support of former US agent of the National Security Agency, Edward Snowden in front of Berlin's landmark Brandenburg Gate (AFP Photo / John Macdougall)

Demonstrators hold up a placard in support of former US agent of the National Security Agency, Edward Snowden in front of Berlin’s landmark Brandenburg Gate (AFP Photo / John Macdougall)

The interview then focused on what made Snowden, who arrived on May 20 in Hong Kong with details of the NSA’s PRISM program, confident that he could place his trust in Poitras.

Snowden told Maass that he discovered Poitras was “more suspicious of me than I was of her, and I’m famously paranoid.”

Read More Here


Encryption Works: How to Protect Your Privacy in the Age of NSA Surveillance

July 2, 2013
By Micah Lee Follow @micahflee

View this whitepaper in PDF form.

Encryption works. Properly implemented strong crypto systems are one of the few things that you can rely on. Unfortunately, endpoint security is so terrifically weak that NSA can frequently find ways around it.

— Edward Snowden, answering questions live on the Guardian’s website

The NSA is the biggest, best funded spy agency the world has ever seen. They spend billions upon billions of dollars each year doing everything they can to vacuum up the digital communications of most humans on this planet that have access to the Internet and and the phone network. And as the recent reports in the Guardian and Washington Post show, even domestic American communications are not safe from their net.

Defending yourself against the NSA, or any other government intelligence agency, is not simple, and it’s not something that can be solved just by downloading an app. But thanks to the dedicated work of civilian cryptographers and the free and open source software community, it’s still possible to have privacy on the Internet, and the software to do it is freely available to everyone. This is especially important for journalists communicating with sources online.

Table of Contents

Threat Model

The NSA is a powerful adversary. If you are its direct target, you have to go to great lengths to communicate in private, and even if you’re not, billions of innocent Internet users get caught in the NSA’s dragnet too.

While the tools and advice in this paper are aimed at protecting your privacy from the NSA’s collection methods, the same advice can be used to increase your computer security against any adversary. It’s important to remember that other governments, including China and Russia, spend massive amounts of money of their own high-tech surveillance equipment and are known to specifically target journalists and sources. In the US, bad digital security can cost whistleblowers their freedom, but in other countries it can cost both journalists and sources their lives. A recent example from Syria illustrates how careless digital security can have tragic results.

But changing some basic software practices could award you a great deal of privacy, even if it doesn’t keep you secure against targeted attacks by governments. This paper explores methods you can use in both cases.

Crypto Systems

We discovered something. Our one hope against total domination. A hope that with courage, insight and solidarity we could use to resist. A strange property of the physical universe that we live in.

The universe believes in encryption.

It is easier to encrypt information than it is to decrypt it.

— Julian Assange, in the introduction of Cypherpunks: Freedom and the Future of the Internet

Encryption is the process of taking a plaintext message and a randomly generated key and doing mathematical operations with the two until all that’s left is a scrambled, ciphertext version of the message. Decryption is taking the ciphertext and the right key and doing more mathematical operations until the plaintext is recovered. This field is called cryptography, or crypto for short. A crypto algorithm, what mathematical operations to do and how to do them, is called a cipher.

To encrypt something you need the right key, and you need the right key to decrypt it too. If the crypto software is implemented properly, if the math is sound, and if the keys are secure, all of the combined computing power on Earth cannot break this encryption.

We build crypto systems that depend on problems in mathematics that we believe to be hard, such as the difficulty in factoring large numbers. Unless there are mathematical breakthroughs that make these problems easier—and the NSA is keeping them secret from the rest of the world—breaking crypto that relies on them for security is unfeasible.

The design of crypto systems and ciphers should be completely public. The only way to ensure that the cipher itself doesn’t have a critical flaw is to publish how it works, to have many eyes scrutinizing it in detail, and to let it weather real-world attacks in the wild to work out the bugs. The inner workings of most crypto that we use on a daily basis, like HTTPS, the technology that makes it possible to safely type credit card numbers and passwords into website forms, is completely public. An attacker that knows every single detail about how the encryption works should still fail to break the encryption without possessing the key. Crypto that is proprietary, and its underlying code secret, cannot be trusted to be secure.

Here’s an important question to ask when assessing if a service or app that uses encryption is secure: Is it possible for the service provider itself to circumvent the encryption? If so, you cannot trust the security of the service. Many services like Skype and Hushmail promise “end-to-end” encryption, but often times it still means that the services themselves have the keys to decrypt the product. True end-to-end encryption means that the service provider cannot look at your communications even if they wanted to.

Another important fact to know about encryption is that it’s about much more than protecting the privacy of communications. It can be used to “digitally sign” messages in a way that proves that the message originated from the person you expected it to. It can be used to build digital currencies like Bitcoin, and it can be used to build anonymity networks like Tor.

Encryption can also be used to prevent people from installing iPhone apps that didn’t come from the App Store, to prevent people from recording movies directly from Netflix, and to prevent people from installing Linux on a Windows 8 tablet. And it can also be used to prevent man-in-the-middle (MITM) attackers from adding malware to otherwise legitimate software updates.

In short, encryption encompasses a whole host of uses, but here we are focused on how we can use it to securely and privately communicate.

Software You Can Trust

When Snowden uses the term “endpoint security” he means the security of the computers on either end of the conversation that are doing the encrypting and the decrypting, as opposed to the security of the message when it’s in transit. If you send an encrypted email to a friend but you have a keylogger on your computer that’s logging the entire message, as well as the passphrase that’s protecting your encryption keys, your encryption isn’t worth very much.

Since Freedom of the Press Foundation board members Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras broke the NSA dragnet surveillance stories, a lot more information about US spy agencies has been made public. Specifically, Bloomberg wrote about voluntary information sharing programs between US companies and US spy agencies.

So far the most shocking revelation about these information sharing programs is that Microsoft has a policy of giving information about vulnerabilities in its software to the US government before it releases security updates to the public. The article says:

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), the world’s largest software company, provides intelligence agencies with information about bugs in its popular software before it publicly releases a fix, according to two people familiar with the process. That information can be used to protect government computers and to access the computers of terrorists or military foes.

This means that it’s likely that NSA has been handed the keys to any computer running Windows, Office, Skype, or other Microsoft software. If you’re running this software on your computer, it’s likely that, with enough effort, the NSA could compromise your computer, and thus your encrypted communications, if you became a target.

We’ve also learned from the New York Times that Skype, software that outside the security community has long had a reputation of being a secure way to communicate, has been feeding private conversations to the US government for the last five years.

Skype, the Internet-based calling service, began its own secret program, Project Chess, to explore the legal and technical issues in making Skype calls readily available to intelligence agencies and law enforcement officials, according to people briefed on the program who asked not to be named to avoid trouble with the intelligence agencies.

Project Chess, which has never been previously disclosed, was small, limited to fewer than a dozen people inside Skype, and was developed as the company had sometimes contentious talks with the government over legal issues, said one of the people briefed on the project. The project began about five years ago, before most of the company was sold by its parent, eBay, to outside investors in 2009. Microsoft acquired Skype in an $8.5 billion deal that was completed in October 2011.

A Skype executive denied last year in a blog post that recent changes in the way Skype operated were made at the behest of Microsoft to make snooping easier for law enforcement. It appears, however, that Skype figured out how to cooperate with the intelligence community before Microsoft took over the company, according to documents leaked by Edward J. Snowden, a former contractor for the N.S.A. One of the documents about the Prism program made public by Mr. Snowden says Skype joined Prism on Feb. 6, 2011.

Proprietary software, such as much of what’s released by Microsoft, Apple, and Google, has another flaw. It’s much more difficult for users to independently verify that secret backdoors don’t exist at the clandestine demands of the surveillance state. Though recent reports have shown that many companies hand over an unknown amount of information in response to FISA requests, none have been shown to have direct backdoors into their systems.

There is other software that’s more reliable in this regard. Free and open source software is not always user friendly and it’s not always secure. However when it’s developed in the open, with open bug trackers, open mailing lists, open governing structures, and open source code, it’s much more difficult for these projects to have a policy of betraying their users like Microsoft has.

GNU/Linux is an operating system that’s composed entirely of free and open source software. Examples of GNU/Linux distributions include Ubuntu, Debian, and Fedora Core. It’s the most popular free software alternative to Windows and Mac OS X.

While free software projects still might include malicious code (see the Underhanded C Contest), the person writing the code needs to hide it cleverly and hope none of the other developers, or downstream GNU/Linux package maintainers who prepare and compile the source code of projects to include in their distributions, notice.

In the 1990s, when civilian cryptography was becoming popular and the US government was doing everything they could to prevent it, the “cypherpunk” movement was born. Many pieces of software intended to bring encryption to the people grew out of that movement.

Cypherpunks write code. We know that someone has to write software to defend privacy, and since we can’t get privacy unless we all do, we’re going to write it. We publish our code so that our fellow Cypherpunks may practice and play with it. Our code is free for all to use, worldwide. We don’t much care if you don’t approve of the software we write. We know that software can’t be destroyed and that a widely dispersed system can’t be shut down.

— Eric Hughes, in his 1993 Cypherpunk Manifesto

That code, that’s open and public so that fellow cypherpunks may practice and play with it, which anyone in the world can freely use, makes the basis of the software and protocols that we can trust: TLS (the encryption that powers HTTPS), LUKS (disk encryption built-in to GNU/Linux), OpenPGP, Off-the-Record, and Tor.

The Tactical Technology Collective has built a great guide to open source security software that you can trust to keep your communications private from surveillance. It’s important to remember that just using this software, and even using it perfectly, cannot guarantee the security of your crypto. For example, we have no idea if Apple has handed over zero day vulnerabilities to the NSA for iOS like Microsoft is reported to have done. ChatSecure, which lets you have encrypted chat conversations on iOS devices, is only as secure as the operating system that it’s running on.

It’s important to remember that just because you use free software doesn’t mean you can’t get hacked. People find zero day exploits for free software all the time, and sometimes sell them to governments and other malicious attackers. Free software users still download malicious attachments in their email, and they still often have badly configured and easily exploited services on their computers. And even worse, malware is often very good at hiding. If a free software user gets malware on their computer, it might stay there until the user formats their hard drive.

Tails, which is a live DVD and live USB GNU/Linux distribution that I will discuss in detail below, solves many of these problems.

Anonymize Your Location with Tor

Tor is a software service that allows you to use the Internet while concealing your IP address, which is, in general, a fairly accurate representation of your location. The Tor network is made up of over 3,600 volunteer servers called nodes. When someone uses the Tor network to visit a website their connection gets bounced through three of these nodes (called a circuit) before finally exiting into the normal Internet. Anyone intercepting traffic will think your location is the final node which your traffic exits from.

It’s important to remember that just because your connection to the Internet may be anonymous that doesn’t magically make it secure. EFF has made a great visualization of how Tor and HTTPS can work together to protect your privacy.

Like all good cryptography software, Tor is free software, complete with an open bug tracker, mailing lists, and source code.

Documentation for Tails, the live GNU/Linux distribution that forces all of the user’s network traffic to go through the Tor network, has this to say about global adversaries:

A global passive adversary would be a person or an entity able to monitor at the same time the traffic between all the computers in a network. By studying, for example, the timing and volume patterns of the different communications across the network, it would be statistically possible to identify Tor circuits and thus matching Tor users and destination servers.

We still don’t know whether or not NSA or GCHQ counts as a global adversary, but we do know that they monitor a large portion of the Internet. It’s too early to know for sure how often these intelligence agencies can defeat the anonymity of the Tor network.

Even if they can, using Tor still gives us many advantages. It makes their job much harder, and we leave much less identifying data on the servers we connect to through the Tor network. It makes it much harder to be the victim of a MITM attack at our local network or ISP level. And even if some Tor circuits can be defeated by a global adversary, if enough people are getting their traffic routed through the same Tor nodes at the same time, it might be difficult for the adversary to tell which traffic belongs to which circuits.

The easiest way to start using Tor is to download and install the Tor Browser Bundle.

When Snowden was answering questions on Guardian’s website from a “secure Internet connection”, he was probably routing his traffic through the Tor network. He may have also been using a bridge to connect to the Tor network to make the fact that he was using Tor from his IP address less obvious to eavesdroppers.

Off-the-Record (OTR) Chat

Off-the-Record (OTR) is a layer of encryption that can be added to any existing instant message chat system, provided that you can connect to that chat system using a chat client that supports OTR, such as Pidgin or Adium. With OTR it’s possible to have secure, end-to-end encrypted conversations over services like Google Talk and Facebook chat without Google or Facebook ever having access to the contents of the conversations. Note: this is different than the “off-the-record” option in Google, which is not secure. And remember: while Google and Facebook’s HTTPS connection is very valuable for protection against your message while it’s in transit, they still have the keys to your conversations so they can hand them over to authorities.

OTR is used for two things: encrypting the contents of real-time instant message conversations and verifying the identity of people that you chat with. Identity verification is extremely important and something that many OTR users neglect to do. While OTR is much more user friendly that other forms of public key encryption, if you wish to use it securely you still need to understand how it works and what attacks against it are possible.

Service Providers and Jabber

Using OTR only encrypts the contents of your chat conversations but not the metadata related to them. This metadata includes who you talk to and when and how often you talk to them. For this reason I recommend using a service that isn’t known to collaborate with intelligence agencies. While this won’t necessarily protect your metadata at least you have a chance of keeping it private.

I also recommend you use an XMPP (also known as Jabber) service. Like email, Jabber is a federated, open protocol. Users of riseup.net‘s Jabber service can chat with users of jabber.ccc.de‘s service as well as jabber.org‘s service.

OTR Clients

To use OTR you’ll need to download software. If you use Windows you can download and install Pidgin and separately the OTR plugin. If you use GNU/Linux you can install the pidgin and pidgin-otr packages. You can read through documentation on how to set up your Pidgin accounts with OTR. If you use Mac OS X you can download and install Adium, which is a free software chat client that includes OTR support. You can read the official documentation on how to get set up with OTR encryption with Adium.

There are also Jabber and OTR clients available for Android, called Gibberbot, and for iOS, called ChatSecure.

Your Key

When you start using OTR, your chat client generates an encryption key and stores it in a file in your user’s home folder on your hard drive. If your computer or smartphone get lost, stolen, or infected with malware, it’s possible that your OTR key can get compromised. If this happens, it would be possible for an attacker with control over your Jabber server to be able to mount a MITM attack against you while you’re chatting with people who have previously verified your identity.


If you want to use OTR to talk privately with your friends, your friends also need to be using it. An encrypted session between two people requires two encryption keys. For example, if you and your friend are both logged into Facebook chat using Adium or Pidgin and you have both configured OTR, you can chat in private. However if you are logged into IM using Adium or Pidgin but your friend is chatting directly from facebook.com in a web browser, you cannot have an encrypted conversation.

If you wish to use Facebook or Google’s services to chat with your friends, I recommend disabling chat within the web interface of these services and only using Adium and Pidgin to connect, and encouraging all of your friends to do the same thing. Here is instructions on how to do so for Facebook and Google.

When you start an encrypted OTR session, your client software will tell you something like this:

Attempting to start a private conversation with username@jabberservice...
Unverified conversation with username@jabberservice/ChatClient started.

If you have already verified the OTR fingerprint of the person you’re talking with (more on this below) your session will look like this:

Attempting to start a private conversation with username@jabberservice...
Private conversation with username@jabberservice/ChatClient started.

When you start a new OTR session, your OTR software and your friend’s OTR software send a series of messages back and forth to agree upon a new session key. This temporary encryption key, which is only known by your IM clients and is never sent over the Internet, is then used to encrypt and decrypt messages. When the session is finished both clients forget the key. If you start chatting with the same person later, your clients generate a brand new session key.

In this way, even if an eavesdropper is logging all of your encrypted OTR conversations—which NSA believes it is legally allowed to do, even if you’re a US citizen and they don’t have a warrant or probable cause—and later they compromise your OTR key, they cannot use it to go back and decrypt your old conversations.

This property is called forward secrecy, and it is a feature that OTR has which PGP does not. If your PGP secret key (more on this below) gets compromised, and the attacker has access to all the encrypted messages you’ve received, they can go back and decrypt them all.

Read more about how forward secrecy works, and why all major Internet companies should adopt it for their websites, here. The good news is Google has already adopted forward secrecy, and Facebook will implement it soon as well.

OTR Fingerprint Verification

When you start a new OTR session with someone, your IM software receives the fingerprint of her encryption key, and your OTR software remembers this fingerprint. As long as someone uses the same encryption key when she talks to you, presumably because she’s consistently using the same device, she will have the same fingerprint. If her fingerprint changes then either she is using a different OTR key or you are both the target of a MITM attack.

Without verifying keys you have no way to know that you’re not falling victim to an undetected, successful MITM attack.

Even if the person you’re talking to is definitely your real friend because she know things that only she would know, and you’re using OTR encryption, an attacker might still be reading your conversation. This is because you might actually be having an encrypted OTR conversation with the attacker, who is then having a separate encrypted OTR conversation with your real friend and just forwarding messages back and forth. Rather than your friend’s fingerprint your client would be seeing the attacker’s fingerprint. All you, as a user, can see is that the conversation is “Unverified”.

The following screenshots show Pidgin’s visual indications of fingerprint verification. If you have verified OTR fingerprints your conversation is private, and if you haven’t, your conversation is encrypted but you might be under attack. You can’t know for sure without verifying.

If you click the Unverified link (in Adium it’s a lock icon) you can choose “Authenticate buddy”. The OTR protocol supports three types of verification: the socialist millionaire protocol, a shared secret, and manual fingerprint verification. All OTR clients support manual fingerprint verification, but not all clients support other types of verification. When in doubt, choose manual fingerprint verification.

In the screenshot above, you can see the OTR fingerprints for both users in the session. The other person should see the exact same fingerprints. In order to be sure that both parties are seeing the correct fingerprints you both need to meet up in person, or talk on the phone if you can recognize their voice, or find some other out-of-band but secure method to verify fingerprints, such as sending a PGP encrypted and signed email.

OTR fingerprints are 40 hexadecimal characters. It’s statistically impossible to generate two OTR keys that have the same fingerprint, which is called a collision. However it is possible to generate an OTR key that isn’t a collision but looks like one on cursory inspection. For example, the first few characters and last few characters could be the same with different characters in the middle. For this reason, it’s important to compare each of the 40 characters to be sure you have the correct OTR key.

Because you generally set up a new OTR key each time you set up a new device (for example, if you want to use the same Jabber account to chat from your Android phone with Gibberbot as you use on your Windows PC with Pidgin), you often end up with multiple keys, and therefore multiple fingerprints. It’s important to repeat the verification step on each device with each contact you talk to.

It’s still much better practice to use OTR without verifying fingerprints than to not use OTR at all. An attacker that attempts a MITM attack against an OTR session runs the very real risk of getting caught, so likely this attack will only be used cautiously.


Here is an excerpt from the chat logs, published by Wired, of a conversation between Bradley Manning and Adrian Lamo, who turned him in to authorities:

(1:40:51 PM) bradass87 has not been authenticated yet. You should authenticate this buddy.

(1:40:51 PM) Unverified conversation with bradass87 started.

(1:41:12 PM) bradass87: hi

(1:44:04 PM) bradass87: how are you?

(1:47:01 PM) bradass87: im an army intelligence analyst, deployed to eastern baghdad, pending discharge for “adjustment disorder” in lieu of “gender identity disorder”

(1:56:24 PM) bradass87: im sure you’re pretty busy…

(1:58:31 PM) bradass87: if you had unprecedented access to classified networks 14 hours a day 7 days a week for 8+ months, what would you do?

(1:58:31 PM) info@adrianlamo.com : Tired of being tired

(2:17:29 PM) bradass87: ?

(6:07:29 PM) info@adrianlamo.com: What’s your MOS?

As you can see from “Unverified conversation with bradass87 started,” they were using OTR to encrypt their conversation, yet it still ended up getting published on Wired’s website and used as evidence against Bradley Manning. While it’s possible their conversation was under a MITM attack, it’s very unlikely. Instead both Bradley Manning’s and Adrian Lamo’s OTR clients were logging a copy of their conversation to their hard drives, unencrypted.

While it can sometimes be useful to keep logs of conversations, it also greatly compromises your privacy. If Pidgin and Adium didn’t log OTR conversations by default, it’s likely that these chat logs would never have become part of the public record.

With the release of OTR 4.0 in September 2012, Pidgin stopped logging OTR conversations by default. Adium still logs OTR conversations by default so you must manually turn off logging yourself, which is a bug in Adium. Because Adium is free software with an open bug tracker, you can follow and contribute to the conversations about fixing this bug here and here.

“Pretty Good Privacy” (PGP) Email Encryption

In 1991, Phil Zimmermann developed email encryption software called Pretty Good Privacy, or PGP, which he intended peace activists to use while organizing in the anti-nuclear movement.

Today, PGP is a company that sells a proprietary encryption program by the same name. OpenPGP is the open protocol that defines how PGP encryption works, and GnuPG (GPG for short) is free software, and is 100% compatible with the proprietary version. GPG is much more popular than PGP today because it’s free for everyone to download, and cypherpunks trust it more because it’s open source. The terms PGP and GPG are often used interchangably.

Unfortunately, PGP is notoriously hard to use, as exemplified by Greenwald explaining how he could not initially talk to Edward Snowden because it was so difficult to set up.

Keypairs and Keyrings

As with OTR, each person who wishes to send or receive encrypted email needs to generate their own PGP key, called a keypair. PGP keypairs are split into two parts, the public key and the secret key.

If you have someone’s public key, you can do two things: encrypt messages that can only be decrypted with their secret key, and verify signatures that were generated with their secret key. It’s safe to give your public key to anyone who wants it. The worst anyone can do with it is encrypt messages that only you can decrypt.

With your secret key you can do two things: decrypt messages that were encrypted using your public key, and digitally sign messages. It’s important to keep your secret key secret. An attacker with your secret key can decrypt messages intended only for you, and he can forge messages on your behalf. Secret keys are generally encrypted with a passphrase, so even if your computer gets compromised and your secret key gets stolen, the attacker would need to get your passphrase before he would have access to it. Unlike OTR, PGP does not have forward secrecy. If your PGP secret key is compromised and the attacker has copies of any historical encrypted emails you have received, he can go back and retro-actively decrypt them all.

Since you need other people’s public keys in order to encrypt messages to them, PGP software lets you manage a keyring with your secret key, your public key, and all of the public keys of the people you communicate with.

Using PGP for email encryption can be very inconvenient. For example, if you set up PGP on your computer but have received an encrypted email on your phone, you won’t be able to decrypt it to read the email until you get to your computer.

Like OTR, each PGP key has a unique fingerprint. You can find a copy of my public key here, and my fingerprint is 5C17 6163 61BD 9F92 422A C08B B4D2 5A1E 9999 9697. If you look at my public key you’ll see that it’s quite long and would be hard to read out over the phone. A fingerprint is a short and more convenient way to uniquely represent a key. With my public key you can encrypt messages that only I can decrypt, provided that my secret key has not been compromised.


The security of crypto often relies on the security of a password. Since passwords are very easily guessed by computers, cryptographers prefer the term passphrase to encourage users to make their passwords very long and secure.

Comic courtsey XKCD

For tips on choosing good passphrases, read the passphrase section of EFF’s Defending Privacy at the U.S. Border: A Guide for Travelers Carrying Digital Devices whitepaper, and also the Diceware Passphrase Home Page.

In addition to protecting PGP secret keys, you also need to choose good passphrases for disk encryption and password vaults.


To install GPG, Windows users can download Gpg4win, and Mac OS X users can download GPGTools. If you run GNU/Linux you should already have GPG installed. GPG is a command line program, but there’s software that interfaces with email clients that makes it much easier to use.

You’ll have to download an email client to use PGP correctly. An email client is a program on your computer that you open to check your email, as opposed to using your web browser. The most popular PGP setup is the email client Thunderbird with the Enigmail add-on. Thunderbird and Enigmail are free software and run on Windows, Mac, and GNU/Linux.

Right now PGP is very difficult to use securely from a web browser. While some browser extensions exist that help with this, I would recommend sticking to a desktop email client until the field of browser crypto matures. It’s possible to use PGP encryption with Gmail, but the easiest way is to set up an email client like Thunderbird and run your Gmail account through it.

Encrypting, Decrypting, and Signatures

You can send encrypted emails and digitally sign them using the graphical user interface provided by Thunderbird and Enigmail. Here’s an example of an encrypted email that I’m sending to myself. When I hit send, my software took the body of the message and encrypted it using my public key, making the content unintelligible to eavesdroppers, and indeed to my email provider too.

When I opened this email I was prompted to type in my encryption passphrase to decrypt it. Since it was encrypted using my public key, the only way I could decrypt it is with my secret key. Since my secret key is protected with a passphrase, I needed to type my passphrase to temporarily decrypt my secret key in order to use it to decrypt the message.

PGP Isn’t Just For Email

While PGP is often used for email encryption, nothing stops you from using it to encrypt anything and publish it using any medium. You can post PGP encrypted messages on blogs, social networks, and forums.

Kevin Poulsen published a PGP encrypted message on Wired’s website intended for Edward Snowden to read. As long as Wired has a copy of Snowden’s real public key, only someone in possession of Snowden’s secret key can decrypt this message. We don’t know how Wired got a copy of Snowden’s public key.

Here’s a message that was encrypted to my public key. Without having access to my associated secret key, NSA should not be able to break the encryption. (NSA, let me know if you get it.)

Version: GnuPG v1.4.12 (GNU/Linux)


Identity Verification

As with OTR, it’s important that you verify the PGP keys of the people you communicate with. In PGP you do this by using your secret key to digitally sign someone else’s public key.

From inside Thunderbird you can click the OpenPGP menu and open Key Management. You can check the “Display All Keys by Default” checkbox to see all of the keys in your keyring. From here you can import keys from files, from your clipboard, or from key servers. You can also generate new keypairs, and view details of all the keys in your keyring.

As with OTR keys, each PGP key has a unique fingerprint. And as with OTR, you need to read out the entire fingerprint to be sure the public key you’re looking at actually belongs to the person you believe it belongs to.

You can right-click on a key in this list and choose View Details to see its fingerprint. Here are the details of the PGP key that the disk encryption software TrueCrypt uses to digitally digitally sign releases of its software.

Also like OTR, you need to meet in person, talk on the phone, or use an already verified OTR session to compare each character of the fingerprint.

After you have verified that the public key you have belongs to the person you think it does, you can click “Select action” and choose “Sign Key”.

In the screenshot above I checked the “Local signatures (cannot be exported)” box. In this way, you can sign PGP keys, which is necessary for Enigmail and other PGP software to display security messages that make sense, but you don’t run the risk of accidentally publishing who you communicate with to a PGP key server.

If you receive an encrypted email from someone you know but the email is not digitally signed, you can’t be completely sure that it was actually written by the person you think. It’s possible it could be someone who spoofed their email address or compromised their email account.

If your friend tells you in this email that she generated a new key, you need to meet up in person or talk to her on the phone and read out your fingerprints before you can be sure that you’re not under attack.


If you don’t verify identities you have no way of knowing whether or not you are the victim of a MITM attack.

Washington Post journalist Barton Gellman, who Edward Snowden trusted with information about the NSA’s PRISM program, wrote about his experience using PGP.

On Thursday, before The Post published its first story, I made contact on a new channel. He was not expecting me there and responded in alarm.

“Do I know you?” he wrote.

I sent him a note on another channel to verify my digital “fingerprint,” a precaution we had been using for some time. Tired, I sent the wrong one. “That is not at all the right fingerprint,” he wrote, preparing to sign off. “You’re getting MITM’d.” He was talking about a “man in the middle” attack, a standard NSA technique to bypass encryption. I hastily corrected my error.

Snowden was right to be cautious and to insist that he check Gellman’s new PGP fingerprint. PGP, if used right, provides the tools necessary to prevent MITM attacks. But these tools only work if the users are vigilant about identity verification.

Tails: The Amnesic Incognito Live System

Using “properly implemented strong crypto systems” has a huge learning curve and requires dedicated users who are willing to put in extra work to take control of their own privacy, which is the main reason why OTR and PGP are not currently in widespread use. But even when you use these tools, how can you ensure “endpoint security” when you can’t necessarily trust your operating system or other software that you depend on every day?

The solution is to use an entirely different operating system comprised completely of “software you can trust” when you have a serious need for real privacy. Tails helps solve this problem.

Tails is a live system that aims at preserving your privacy and anonymity. It helps you to use the Internet anonymously almost anywhere you go and on any computer but leave no trace using unless you ask it explicitly.

It is a complete operating-system designed to be used from a DVD or a USB stick independently of the computer’s original operating system. It is Free Software and based on Debian GNU/Linux.

Tails comes with several built-in applications pre-configured with security in mind: web browser, instant messaging client, email client, office suite, image and sound editor, etc.

Tails is not for everyone. It’s still difficult to use compared to normal operating systems, it’s slow, it doesn’t have all the software you may want. But Tails has all of these properties because it’s specifically designed to make it harder for users to mess up their endpoint security. If you’re in a position where you think that NSA, or any other potential attacker, may want to target you and your colleagues (the journalist/whistleblower relationship comes to mind) it’s one of the best tools available.

Because Tails is not practical for daily computer use, it’s a good idea to get into the habit of using OTR and PGP in your normal operating system as well. Tails won’t help blunt the effects of dragnet surveillance by itself, but encrypting as much as we can on a daily basis will.

Every time you boot Tails you start from a clean slate. Anything you did in your previous session on Tails gets erased and the system is reverted back to the default state. This means that even if you get infected with malware while using Tails, the next time you boot into it the malware will be gone.

You can get started using Tails by downloading the DVD image and burning it to a DVD. You then need to boot to this DVD. This step is different depending on what model computer you have, but it often involves entering your BIOS and changing your boot order so your computer tries booting from DVD before it tries your hard drive. On newer PCs you might need to disable UEFI “secure boot” in the BIOS as well, which is the crypto that’s used to make sure your computer will only boot to digitally signed versions of Windows (which, in affect, makes it harder for people to boot into non-Windows operating systems). The Tails website has more information on booting Tools from a DVD or USB stick.

After booting to the DVD you have the option to install Tails on a USB stick, which is especially useful because it allows you to configure a persistent volume, an encrypted section of your USB stick to store your data. Despite starting from a clean slate each time you boot up, it’s important for you to be able to have access to your OTR and PGP keys, your Claws Mail (more below) and Pidgin settings, and any documents you’re working with. Your persistent volume allows you to do this.

PGP and Email in Tails

I discussed using Thunderbird with the Enigmail add-on to access your email and use PGP, however this software doesn’t come with Tails. Tails comes with Claws Mail which includes a PGP plugin.

Instead of using Enigmail’s PGP key management graphical user interface to import, export, generate, view details about, and sign keys, you can click on the clipboard icon in the top right of the screen and choose Manage Keys to open Seahorse, which provides these same features.


To get started having private communications with your friends and colleagues with very high endpoint security, here are the steps you need to take.

  • Meet up with your friends face-to-face. Each person should bring their own laptop and USB stick.
  • Download and burn a Tails DVD. Boot to Tails and create Tails USB sticks for each person.
  • When everyone has a Tails USB stick, each person should boot to Tails on her own laptop and configure a persistence volume on her USB stick. Since this volume is encrypted, each person should come up with her own secure passphrase that she will need to enter each time she boots to Tails. Everyone should reboot their laptops into Tails again and this time mount the persistent volume.
  • Each person should create a new pseudonymous Jabber account. One way to do this is to go to https://register.jabber.org/ in Iceweasel. Since Tails makes all Internet traffic go over Tor, this is effectively making an anonymous Jabber account.
  • Each person should open Pidgin and configure it to use their new Jabber account and create a new OTR key. Everyone should add each other to their buddy lists and start OTR sessions with eachother. Since everyone is in the same room, this is the perfect time to compare fingerprints and verify the identity of all parties so that you’ll able to communicate securely over the Internet in the future.
  • Each person should create a new pseudonymous email address as well. Some email providers, such as Gmail, make it very difficult to create new accounts while using Tor and staying anonymous, so find another email provider to use instead. Make sure your email provider supports IMAP (so you can use a desktop email client) over SSL (so your email client uses encryption when communicating with the email srever). If everyone chooses the same email provider, sending emails between accounts should never leave that email server, which reduces the metadata about your email usage available to anyone conducting dragnet surveillance of the Internet.
  • Each person should generate a new PGP key for their email address. Like with disk encryption, it’s important to choose a strong passphrase when generating a PGP key.
  • The PGP-enabled email client that comes with Tails is called Claws Mail. Each person should configure Claws Mail to use their new email address, and then email a copy of their public key to all other people in the room.
  • Each person should import everyone else’s public key into their keyring, and should manually verify the PGP fingerprints. Don’t skip this step. In the end, each person should have a keyring containing signed keys of each other person.

If a malicious attacker physically steals your Tails USB stick, modifies it, and gives it back, he can compromise all of the security of Tails. For this reason, it’s important to keep your USB stick with you at all times.

Had CIA Director and retired four-star general David Petraeus and his biographer Paula Broadwell decided to use Tails, Tor, OTR, and PGP, their extramarital affair likely would have remained secret.

A Fighting Chance

Protecting your privacy in the age of ubiquitous NSA surveillance is incredibly complex. Gaining a basic understanding of the concepts involved, much less actually using the software that’s available, has an enormous learning curve.

But even with direct access to all the data traveling at the speed of light through the Internet’s backbone fiber-optic cables, even with cooperation of the major United States tech companies (which are extremely difficult for people to boycott), the largest, most powerful, and best funded surveillance apparatus that humanity has ever seen cannot defeat mathematics.

The challenge of the new cypherpunk movement is to make secure and verified end-to-end encryption accessible to everyone, and turned on by default.

Author: Micah Lee

A publication of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, 2013

Copyright: Encryption Works: How to Protect Your Privacy in the Age of NSA Surveillance is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

Creative Commons License

Download: PDF, LibreOffice ODT


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Published on Aug 16, 2013

Abby Martin talks to Norman Solomon, Co-founder of RootsAction.org about the petition to award whistleblower Bradley Manning with the Nobel Peace Prize.


Bradley Manning Nobel Peace Prize nod backed by 100k petition-signers

Published time: August 12, 2013 20:07
Edited time: August 13, 2013 10:16

US Army Private First Class Bradley Manning (AFP Photo / Saul Loeb)

US Army Private First Class Bradley Manning (AFP Photo / Saul Loeb)

The Nobel Prize committee has received a petition that endorses awarding the peace prize to US Army Private Bradley Manning, who is convicted of espionage and facing up to 90 years behind bars for leaking classified information to WikiLeaks.

US anti-war activist Normon Soloman, one of the organizers of the petition, gave the 5,000-page document to Nobel committee member Asle Toje on Monday.

However, Toje said the annually awarded US$1 million prize is “not a popularity contest,” adding that such campaigns do not influence the Nobel Committee in its choice.

“Remaining in prison and facing relentless prosecution by the US government, no one is more in need of the Nobel Peace Prize,” states the petition, which garnered more than 100,000 signatures.

“No individual has done more to push back against what Martin Luther King Jr. called ‘the madness of militarism’ than Bradley Manning,” the petition reads.

A screenshot from act.rootsaction.org

A screenshot from act.rootsaction.org

Read More Here


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