What the Hackers did to Celebs? The NSA has been Doing that to All of US instead of Predicting ISIL

By Juan Cole

There has been a lot of justifiable outrage about the invasion of privacy of celebrities and the posting of their private, nude photos at 4Chan by hackers who apparently got into their cloud accounts.

It seems odd to me that the discussion of this issue has been completely unconnected to the Snowden revelations that the US government has been assiduously spying on everyone’s cloud. It has been massively recording who we call, when we called them, and where we were when we called them on on our smart phones. You can tell a lot from that information (it could be used for insider trading where it came from financiers like Warren Buffett). The NSA has been sweeping up terabytes of data and storing them (some of this in conjunction with British intelligence). Barack Obama’s glib assurances that they haven’t been recording our emails notwithstanding, they’ve been recording our emails (they can actually read them in real time), as well as sweeping up the content of phone calls as data files. NSA personnel routinely passed around nude photos of people captured from the internet, Snowden has revealed, calling it a perk of the job. Some NSA personnel misused their position to spy on ex-girlfriends.

Defenders of this activity insist that it is necessary to protect us from “terrorism.” But the major terrorist threat in the world, ISIL, appears to have surprised them last June by taking over 40% of the major country of Iraq, which the US surely had under intensive surveillance. If their surveillance did not alert them to this major victory for vicious terrorists, which has pulled the US military back into a war zone, then it isn’t much good, is it? Maybe they were too busy violating the 4th Amendment to the Constitution by spying on millions of innocent Americans without a warrant. Having too much irrelevant data almost certainly distracted them from the real intelligence bonanza that would have been in ISIL communications if they had made time to monitor them intensively instead of amusing themselves with our embarrassing selfies.

It is not clear that Congress and the courts will have the backbone to stand up to the National Security State about this deep-sixing of the US Constitution. But just as you feel sorry for high-strung celebs distressed over being violated, you have to feel sorry for the whole American public, who have been being unconstitutionally violated for years.


Related video:

PCMag: “What You Can Learn From The Nude Celebrity Photo Hack – What’s New Now”

16 Responses

  1. “the major country of Iraq, which the US surely had under intensive surveillance”
    I wonder if that is really true.
    I also wonder if ISIL uses the internet. It seems to me that NSA is getting fat and sloppy if they’re JUST concentrating on surveillance of the internet and not checking other signals intelligence.

  2. Also, too – NSA intelligence has been used far more for Drug War prosecutions than for terrorism detection (although it’s been sold as the latter).

    • Like the espionage act and so many other laws, NSA spying was promised to be utilized against “the enemy”, or “the other” but like its predecessors its been used by the US government against its own citizens for decidedly non-security related purposes.

  3. Predictive/imposed determinism translates (for the purposes of the NSA) into a regime of political and economic unidimensionality over the entirety of the world and over all the human individuals contained within it; it is a subject that is amply documented in academic sources, and yet there is hardly any mention of it in Wikileaks’ entire archives. On the other hand, predictive analytics/determinism forms the very substance of and the basis for the Snowden revelations; how to explain the yawning discrepancy between the paucity of testimony of predictive/imposed determinism in the Wikileaks archives on the one hand, and its overwhelming corroboration, indeed instantiation, by Snowden’s NSA-centered revelations on the other?

    How is it possible, more specifically, for American authorities in the White House, State, Pentagon and elsewhere to say with a straight face that ISIS is “”Beyond anything we’ve seen” and by implication that as far as their predictive analytics are concerned it was an inconceivable development, when, for example, Philip Bobbitt seems to have very much anticipated the development of such terroristic “market states” in his book ‘Terror and Consent’? And, in turn, how is it possible for the press to accept such astounding and astoundingly profuse professions of institutional blindness, unpreparedness, and ineptness without nary a published and credited remark of incredulity or skepticism?

  4. It seems odd to me that the discussion of this issue has been completely unconnected to the Snowden revelations that the US government has been assiduously spying on everyone’s cloud.

    American “values” really mean an interest in prurient behavior of others with almost total indifference towards the immorality and incompetence of national leadership. If our CIA’s latest blunder meant giving weapons to ISIS, that should come as no surprise. Their Keystone antics have been going on for years such as believing Afghans selling some hapless neighbors to gullible CIA agents for a few lousy bucks.

  5. It seems to be that most of the US isn’t aware of (or interested in talking about) a big benefit of NSA’s spying: economic benefit to US companies. Seems more people are keen on keeping up with the (South) Koreans, Indians and Chinese than cleaning up the mess the previous administration left in Iraq…

    • Actually it has been hurting US companies because the NSA installed backdoors into the motherboards of computer manufacturers and now nobody wants to buy our stuff cause privacy is compromised.

    • I know your post was snark, Buddha, but in case anyone missed it: How much of the hundreds of billions that goes to NSA and “Homeland Security” (kind of sounds like a friendly hometown bank, doesn’t it?) goes to NON-US COMPANIES? And how much of it is just wasted? And gee, who pays for the effing idiocy, again? And who benefits from it? Impunity is wonderful, isn’t it? Lines right up with deniability, and unaccountability, and the ole open checkbook that always comes up at the end of an Empire…

  6. Maybe we are so used to looking for terrorists, whose acts are generally brutish and random, that we are missing the “territorialists” and their “mongol hoard algorithm”.

    And knowing how devoted we are to connecting dots, ISIS may have been flooding NSA detectors with juicy irrelevant dots.

    Let’s not be too harsh on the MSM for not digging into the contrast between the Snowden revelations and the ghee wiz ISIS intelligence. At this time the MSM is concerned with promoting a lunatic right senate, come next November.

  7. Funny you should mention this. Not twelve months ago, during the great NSA freakout, those of us who suggested that -maybe, perhaps – we should all be concerned about private actors AS WELL AS THE GOVERNMENT invading our privacy were hounded off the internet as distrupter trolls and paid agents of the intelligence community.

    Nice to see some other people showing up to the party, but it would have been nice to have had some support a year ago – or, hell, in 1994 when I first starting yakking about this kind of stuff -but better late than never one must suppose.

  8. NSA listening has been around for well over a decade and agreed, it is deplorable and over-zealous. Compared to PRIVATE SECTOR data point collecting, distributing and archiving of virtually every action any of us make on a daily basis, the NSA listening is only part of the actual threat to our privacy and liberty.

    (For one important example and as a graphic representation find “Lightbeam,” a Firefox Add-on and see exactly where just your browser activity is going and to whom. !!!!)

    Personal data points collected from internet activity, bank card utilization, fuel purchases, cell phone activity, any internet enabled device (media players, home thermostats, refrigerators, etc.) are continuously collected, diligently recorded, analyzed and archived all for sale to the highest bidder.

    The Surveillance Society must end and the information gleaned destroyed.

    Perhaps Members of Congress and their families should be made very aware they are not excluded from rampant data point collection by the private sector?

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