Saturday, April 30, 2011

New FBI Documents Provide Details on Government’s Surveillance Spyware

EFF recently received documents from the FBI that reveal details about the depth of the agency's electronic surveillance capabilities and call into question the FBI's controversial effort to push Congress to expand the Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) for greater access to communications data. The documents we received were sent to us in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request we filed back in 2007 after Wired reported on evidence that the FBI was able to use “secret spyware” to track the source of e-mailed bomb threats against a Washington state high school. The documents discuss a tool called a "web bug" or a "Computer and Internet Protocol Address Verifier" (CIPAV),1 which seems to have been in use since at least 2001.2

What is CIPAV and How Does It Work?
The documents discuss technology that, when installed on a target's computer, allows the FBI to collect the following information:
  • IP Address
  • Media Access Control (MAC) address
  • "Browser environment variables"
  • Open communication ports
  • List of the programs running
  • Operating system type, version, and serial number
  • Browser type and version
  • Language encoding
  • The URL that the target computer was previously connected to
  • Registered computer name
  • Registered company name
  • Currently logged in user name
  • Other information that would assist with "identifying computer users, computer software installed, [and] computer hardware installed"3
It's not clear from the documents how the FBI deploys the spyware, though Wired has reportedthat, in the Washington state case, the FBI may have sent a URL via MySpace's internal messaging, pointing to code that would install the spyware by exploiting a vulnerability in the user's browser. Although the documents discuss some problems with installing the tool in some cases, other documents note that the agency's Crypto Unit only needs 24-48 hours to prepare deployment.4 And once the tool is deployed, "it stay[s] persistent on the compromised computer and . . . every time the computer connects to the Internet, [FBI] will capture the information associated with the PRTT [Pen Register/Trap & Trace Order].5
Where Has CIPAV Been Used and What Legal Process Does the FBI Rely On to Use It?
It is clear from the documents we received that the FBI—and likely other federal agencies—have used this tool a lot. According the documents, the FBI has used CIPAV in cases across the country—from Denver, El Paso, and Honolulu in 2005; to Philadelphia, California, and Houston in 2006; to Cincinnati and Miami in 2007. In fact, one stack of documents we received consists entirely of requests from FBI offices around the country to the agency's Cryptologic and Electronic Analysis Unit ("CEAU") for help installing the device.6
The FBI has been using the tool in domestic criminal investigations as well as in FISA cases,7 and the FISA Court appears to have questioned the propriety of the tool.8 Other agencies, and even other countries have shown interest in the tool, indicating its effectiveness. Emails from 2006 discuss interest from the Air Force,9 the Naval Criminal Investigative Service10 and the Joint Task Force-Global Network Operations,11 while another email from 2007 discusses interest from the German government.12
The FBI's Crypto Unit appears to have viewed the CIPAV as a proprietary tool. In one email, an agent grumbled, "we are seeing indications that [CIPAV] is being used needlessly by some agencies, unnecessarily raising difficult legal questions (and a risk of suppression without any countervailing benefit)."13 In another email, an agent stated, "[I] am weary [sic] to just hand over our tools to another Gov't agency without any oversight or protection for our tool/technique."14And a third email noted, "[w]e never discuss how we collect the [data CIPAV can collect] in the warrants/affidavits or with case agents. AUSAs, squad supervisors, outside agencies, etc."15
It appears from the documents that the FBI wasn't sure what legal process to seek to authorize use of the spyware device. Some emails discuss trying to use a "trespasser exception" to get around a warrant,16while others discuss telling the AUSA (government attorney) to cite to the "All Writs Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1651(a)."17 And one email suggests some agents thought the tool required no legal process at all. In that email, the FBI employee notes he considers the tool to be "consensual monitoring without need for process; in my mind, no different than sitting in a chat room and tracking participants' on/off times; or for that matter sitting on P2P networks and finding out who is offering KP."18
Eventually, the FBI seems to have sought a legal opinion on the proper use of the tool, both from the Office of General Counsel and from the National Security Law Branch,19 and ultimately, the agency seems to have settled on a "two-step request" process for CIPAV deployments -- a search warrant to authorize intrusion into the computer, and then a subsequent Pen/Trap order to authorize the surveillance done by the spyware.20
What Does This Mean for the FBI's Push for New Back Doors into Our Internet Communications?
Over the past few months, we've heard a lot from the FBI about its need to expand the Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), a law that that requires all telecommunications and broadband providers to be technically capable of complying with an intercept order. Federal law enforcement officials have argued that under current regulations they can't get the information they need and want to expand CALEA to apply to communications systems like Gmail, Skype, and Facebook. However, these documents show the FBI already has numerous tools available to surveil suspects directly, rather than through each of their communications service providers. One heavily redacted email notes that the FBI has other tools that "provide the functionality of the CIPAV [text redacted] as well as provide other useful info that could help further the case."21 Another email notes that CIPAVs are used in conjunction with email intercepts, perhaps using similar spyware-type tools.22 If the FBI already has endpoint surveillance-based tools for internet wiretapping, it casts serious doubt on law enforcement's claims of "going dark."
A device that remains "persistent" on a "compromised computer" is certainly concerning. However, if the FBI obtains a probable cause-based court order before installing tools like CIPAV, complies with the minimization requirements in federal wiretapping law by limiting the time and scope of surveillance, and removes the device once surveillance concludes, the use of these types of targeted tools for Internet surveillance would be a much more narrowly tailored solution to the FBI’s purported problems than the proposal to undermine every Internet user's privacy and security by expanding CALEA. We will continue to report on both the FBI's use of endpoint surveillance tools and on the agency's push to expand CALEA as more documents come in.
Click here to access full pdf versions of the documents we received or see below for the pages referenced in this post.
  1. 1.FBI_CIPAV_01 p.26
  2. 2.FBI_CIPAV_09 p.3
  3. 3.FBI_CIPAV_07 pp.10-11
  4. 4.FBI_CIPAV_07 p.50
  5. 5.FBI_CIPAV_08 p.67
  6. 6.FBI_CIPAV_10
  7. 7.FBI_CIPAV_07 p. 45FBI_CIPAV_08 p.132143
  8. 8.FBI_CIPAV_14 p.52
  9. 9.FBI_CIPAV_08 p.20
  10. 10.FBI_CIPAV_09 p.21-22
  11. 11.Id.
  12. 12.FBI_CIPAV_08 p.9
  13. 13.FBI_CIPAV_05 p.1
  14. 14.FBI_CIPAV 09 p.21
  15. 15.FBI_CIPAV_07 pp.11
  16. 16.FBI_CIPAV_08 p.29
  17. 17.FBI_CIPAV_08 p.149
  18. 18.FBI_CIPAV_14 p.36."KP" is likely a reference to "kiddie porn."
  19. 19.FBI_CIPAV_14 p.42, 62
  20. 20.FBI_CIPAV_08 p.169
  21. 21.FBI_CIPAV_08 p.168
  22. 22.FBI_CIPAV_08 p.143

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Starchild 2010 Alien DNA Update

Desensitization and Media Effects

Desensitization is a psychological process that has often been involved in explaining viewers' emotional reactions to media violence. Research onemotional reactions to violent messages has been concerned with the possibility that continued exposure to violence in the mass media will result in desensitization, that is, that exposure to media violence will undermine feelings of concern, empathy, or sympathy that viewers might have toward victims of actual violence.
To understand the effects of repeated exposure to violence, researchers have suggested that viewers become comfortable with violence that is initially anxiety provoking, much as they would if they were undergoing exposure therapy. According to Gordon Paul and D. A. Bernstein (1973), exposure therapy is widely regarded as the most effective clinical therapy for training individuals to engage in behaviors that were previously inhibited by anxiety responses. Originally, researchers emphasized a therapeutic counterconditioning technique known as "systematic desensitization," in which the patient was gradually and systematically exposed to a graded series of anxiety provoking objects or situations. Many researchers, including Edna B. Foa and Michael J. Kozak (1986), have demonstrated that simply exposing a patient to frightening stimuli, regardless of whether it is presented in graduated form, will significantly diminish the anxiety or negative affect that the stimulus once evoked. This logic may be applied to the effects of repeated exposure to media violence.
Most of the early work on desensitization to media violence, such as that conducted by Victor B. Cline and his colleagues (1973) and Margaret H. Thomas and her colleagues (1977), involved exposure to rather mild forms of television violence for relatively short periods of time. These studies indicated that viewers who watched large amounts of media violence showed less physiological reactivity to violent film clips, compared to viewers who watched only small amounts, and that general physiological arousal decreased as viewers watched more violent media. Children as well as adults are susceptible to this effect.
More recently, Daniel Linz, Edward Donner-stein, and Steven Penrod (1984, 1988) measured the reactions of adult men to films that portrayed violence against women, often in a sexual context. The viewings took place over a period of several days, and comparisons of first-day reactions and last-day reactions to the films showed that, with repeated exposure, initial levels of self-reported anxiety decreased substantially. Furthermore, the research participants' perceptions of the films also changed from the first day to the last day. Material that was previously judged to be violent and degrading to women was considered to be significantly less so by the end of the exposure period. Participants also indicated that they were less depressed and enjoyed the material more with repeated exposure. These effects generalized to responses to a victim of sexual assault in a mock trial presented to the men at a later time. Men who had been exposed to the sexually violent films, compared to a no-exposure group, rated the victim as being less severely injured. The men who had been exposed to the violent film, again compared to men in a no-exposure control group, were also less sympathetic to the rape victim portrayed in the trial and less able to empathize with rape victims in general. These effects did not emerge following exposure to a single film. Longer film exposure was necessary for it to affect the violence-viewing participants' general empathetic response. Linz and his colleagues (1984, 1988) suggested that the viewers were becoming comfortable with anxiety-provoking situations much as they would if they were undergoing desensitization therapy. Carol Krafka and her associates (1997) observed these same effects for women who viewed sexual violence. Linz and his colleagues (1989) also showed that a reduction in physiological responsiveness accompanies repeated exposure to sexualized violence and that viewing violent films results in less sympathy for victims of domestic violence as well as rape victims.
Most recently, Charles R. Mullin and Linz (1995) demonstrated that viewers who show a desensitization toward victims of violence in non-media contexts following exposure to media violence may recover sensitivity rather quickly provided they are not exposed to additional violent depictions. An experiment was conducted to examine the effects of repeated exposure to sexually violent films on emotional desensitization and callousness toward domestic abuse victims. Results indicated that emotional responses, self-reported physiological arousal, and ratings of the extent to which the films were sexually violent all diminished with repeated film exposure. Three days following exposure to the final film, participants in the experiment expressed significantly less sympathy for domestic violence victims and rated their injuries as being less severe than did ano-exposure control group. Five days after the final film exposure, the participants' level of sensitivity to the victims of domestic violence rebounded to the baseline levels that were established by the no-exposure comparison group.
In conclusion, exposure to violence in the mass media may result in a desensitization effect in which viewers experience diminished feelings of concern, empathy, or sympathy toward victims of actual violence. Research has shown that viewers who watch large amounts of media violence show less physiological reactivity to violence in other contexts. Men and women who are exposed to sexual violence in the media also show less sympathy toward rape victims portrayed in other contexts and are generally less able to empathize with rape victims. However, resensitization to victims after desensitization may occur given a sufficient rest period.
Cline, Victor B.; Croft, Roger G.; and Courrier, Stephen. (1973). "Desensitization of Children to Television Violence." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 27:360-365.
Foa, Edna B., and Kozak, Michael J. (1986). "Emotional Processing of Fear: Exposure to Corrective Information." Psychological Bulletin 99:20-35.
Krafka, Carol; Linz, Daniel; Donnerstein, Edward; and Penrod, Steven. (1997). "Women's Reactions to Sexually Aggressive Mass Media Depictions." Violence Against Women 3(2):149-181.
Linz, Daniel; Donnerstein, Edward; and Adams, Steven M. (1989). "Physiological Desensitization and Judgments About Female Victims of Violence." Human Communication Research 15:509-522.
Linz, Daniel; Donnerstein, Edward; and Penrod, Steven. (1984). "The Effects of Multiple Exposures to Filmed Violence Against Women." Journal of Communication 34(3):130-147.
Linz, Daniel; Donnerstein, Edward; and Penrod, Steven. (1988). "Effects of Long-Term Exposure to Violent and Sexually Degrading Depictions of Women." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 55:758-768.
Mullin, Charles R., and Linz, Daniel. (1995). "Desensitization and Resensitization to Violence Against Women: Effects of Exposure to Sexually Violent Films on Judgments of Domestic Violence Victims."Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 69(3):449-459.
Paul, Gordon L., and Bernstein, D. A. (1973). "Anxiety and Clinical Problems: Systematic Desensitization and Related Techniques." InBehavioral Approaches to Therapy, eds. Janet T. Spence, Robert C. Carson, and John W. Thibaut. Morristown, NJ: General Learning Press.
Thomas, Margaret H. (1982). "Physiological Arousal, Exposure to a Relatively Lengthy Aggressive Film and Aggressive Behavior."Journal of Research in Personality 16:72-81.
Thomas, Margaret H.; Horton, R. W.; Lippincott, E. C.; and Drabman, R. S. (1977). "Desensitization to Portrayals of Real-Life Aggression As a Function of Exposure to Television Violence."Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 35:450-458.
Ullman Leonard P., and Krasner, Leonard. (1969). A Psychological Approach to Abnormal Behavior. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Wolpe, Joseph. (1958). Psychotherapy by Reciprocal Inhibition. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

DMT - The Spirit Molecule Documentary 1/5

Thursday, April 28, 2011

White House, US media stonewall on Guantanamo

27 April 2011

The thousands of pages of documents on US prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, released by WikiLeaks Sunday night, demonstrate the lawless character of the US government, both under George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Kidnapping, torture, illegal imprisonment, subornation of perjury, defiance of international law—these are only a few of the crimes of which the top officials of the US government are demonstrably guilty.
Then secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld branded the Guantanamo detainees the “worst of the worst,” telling the American public that the prisoners were all hard-core terrorists, many of them linked to the 9/11 attacks in New York City and Washington. The WikiLeaks documents demonstrate that the statements of Rumsfeld, Cheney and other top Bush aides were deliberate and conscious lies.
The vast majority of the 800 Guantanamo prisoners were innocent men swept up randomly on the battlefield in Afghanistan or seized by allied intelligence agencies, particularly in Pakistan, where anyone of Arab or Afghan descent was a potential cash bonanza for corrupt police officials seeking to collect American bounties. More than 100 suffered from mental illness when they were seized. Others were driven into that state by years of isolation and abuse, without any hope of release or legal recourse.
Hina Shamsi, director of the National Security Project for the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement: “These documents are remarkable because they show just how questionable the government’s basis has been for detaining hundreds of people, in some cases indefinitely, at Guantanamo. The one-sided assessments are rife with uncorroborated evidence, information obtained through torture, speculation, errors and allegations that have been proven false.”
The response by the Obama administration and the corporate-controlled American media has been to dismiss the latest WikiLeaks revelations of American government crimes. A Pentagon spokeswoman said the military would not comment on the documents because they “are the stolen property of the US government. The documents are classified and do not become declassified due to an unauthorized disclosure.”
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney condemned the release of classified information by WikiLeaks, adding, “We think it’s unfortunate that theNew York Times and other news organizations have made the decision to publish numerous documents obtained illegally concerning the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.”
He reiterated that administration was “committed to … working towards the ultimate closure of the detention facility,” one of Obama’s most notoriously broken promises, and went on to claim as Obama’s co-thinkers on Guantanamo “the previous president, George W. Bush, John McCain when he was a candidate, [and the] uniformed military leadership.”
This declaration of continuity between the policies of Bush and Obama is of utmost importance. It demonstrates the repudiation of basic democratic rights by American imperialism, under presidents of both the big business parties. Obama has not only kept Guantanamo open, he has embraced the use of military commissions to give drumhead trials to selected prisoners, as well as the indefinite—effectively lifetime—detention without trial of an even larger number of men, an action which is in flagrant violation of both international law and the US Constitution.
The response of the American media to the Guantanamo documents is a combination of silence and deliberate diversion. There was considerable media attention Monday, as the documents first became available, but by Monday night, the story was being downplayed on the network television news. By Tuesday night, it had largely disappeared.
The diversion was spearheaded by the Times, which set the tone for much of the subsequent coverage by focusing attention on the claim that one-quarter of those released from Guantanamo over the last nine years, about 150 out of 800, had “returned” to terrorist activities.
Following suit, the Washington Post published a report Tuesday suggesting that there was now a “debate” over “familiar questions: Were too many innocent men incarcerated there over the past decade? Or did US officials ultimately free too many dangerous detainees? Advocates on both sides of the debate have new evidence to cite in the documents …”
Even if the claim of 150 former Guantanamo prisoners “returning” to terrorism were true, it would not alter the overriding fact that the Bush administration established, and the Obama administration maintained, a concentration camp outside the law. And the claim is manifestly false, since the Pentagon figure includes in its count of “terrorists” all the former prisoners who are now engaged in efforts to expose or condemn the Guantanamo prison and other US crimes in the “war on terror.”
The actual number of former prisoners who have joined Al Qaeda is a tiny fraction of the 150, and even these include some who became radicalized by their experience at Guantanamo and were recruited to the Islamic fundamentalist group as a result of, and not before, their detention and torture by the US government.
These facts are blithely ignored in the New York Times editorial published Tuesday on “The Guantanamo Papers.” The newspaper seeks to distinguish between “the legal and moral disaster that President George W. Bush created there,” and the policies now pursued by President Obama.
Obama gets a clean bill of health, according to the Times: “The torture has stopped. The inmates’ cases have been reviewed. But the detention camp in Cuba remains a festering sore on this country’s global reputation. Hampered by ideologues and cowards in Congress, President Obama has made scant progress in healing it.”
Actually, the torture is ongoing. Indefinite detention without prospect of either a judicial hearing or eventual release is itself a form of torture. So are the constant interrogations to which many of the prisoners are still subjected, although some of them are more than nine years removed from any association with Al Qaeda, and therefore can hardly be encompassed by the “ticking time bomb” scenario invariably cited as justification for their treatment.
The detention camp at Guantanamo should be closed immediately, and all those jailed there released or tried through a civilian judicial process in which basic democratic rights and constitutional norms are observed in full. Those US government officials, both civilian and military, who are responsible for the creation and continuation of this concentration camp should themselves be held to account before an international tribunal.
Patrick Martin

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Human evolution is still occurring

        Evolution, what is it really? For simplicity reasons, its change through time; short or long time periods. Evolution has shaped and still is; the diversity in our world. Your evolution from your ancestors diverged from similar primates. Hominoid evolution has dated back to over 6million years ago. Yes, fossils are a key importance in the discovery of our evolution, but there are other forms of discovery and interpretation in which play a contributing part. Recent research indicates that humans today are in fact evolving more rapidly and the rate of change has sped. Two factors for this is the population growth, which inevitably increases the gene pool in which mutations take place. The environment differs from place to place and these changes could cater for the mutations to take effect.

        Skin colour variation is a key factor in our evolution; it is the obvious variation as to why humans differ from each other. This has not been the case for very long; in fact, skin colour only began to change when migration out of Africa and loss of body hair became a factor. In regions of high ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun, such as Africa, where the earliest members of our lineage (2 million years ago) lived, they would have had body hair to protect their fairly light skin beneath from the sun (such as apes). As evolution progressed the body hair was slowly eliminated to cater for the hot conditions, as a result of this the melanin (our skin pigment; natural sun-screen) evolved dark skin, through natural selection to prevent sun damages, injury or cancers, by protecting the skin and sweat glands. Therefore, darkly pigmented skin evolved, protecting destruction of nutrients like folate in our bodies from UV radiation. 

        You may ask, well then, ‘‘Why the need for white skin?’’. Well easy, in regions of low UV radiation from the sun the skin needs light skin in order to absorb sunlight, which sunlight stimulates the synthesis of vitamin D in our bodies, preventing diseases. When did this environmental change occur? When our human ancestors migrated out of Africa (in the last million years), the range of skin colouration was a result of the widespread colonization of our world. The selective processes take place in order to protect us from the sun and to provide as with sufficient amounts of vitamin D synthesis. Recent genetic studies indicate that skin colour could rapidly change over as few as 100 generations, or about 2,500 years, with the influence of the environment. You may be thinking then, ‘why is there mixed, black and white people in most regions in the world?’ This is merely because we have the ability to move around the world quickly (airplanes, boats and other). Among humans, race has no taxonomic (technique of classification) significance, as all people belong to the same hominid subspecies, Homo sapiens sapiens.


  Homo sapiens sapiens


        Lactose intolerance for cow’s milk is described as a disease but in fact, the majority of the world’s population is affected by this. Human infants, receive nourishment from their mother’s milk (like other mammals), as they have an enzyme that allows milk sugar (lactose) to be digested, but this is generally ‘switched off’ at around four years of age, following weaning. Human beings began cultivating domestic grains and animals, sheep and then cattle which were first domesticated just over 10,000 years ago. It changed the way people lived dramatically, populations ‘boomed’ as the cultivation of most of their foods began. As a result of this, genetic changes in the enzyme allowed the digestion of milk sugar to continue through to adult-hood. Low levels of lactose deficiency are found in European populations, due to this long history of dairy farming, and highest levels in populations of Asian ancestry who were not dairy farmers. Low levels also occur in populations dependent on milk in their diet. The genetic change in lactose tolerance was prevailed throughout environments where milk is a major nutrients source and included in the diet. The lactose tolerance ‘gene’ would have been spread across the colonised world to some extent.

        Vitamin C is needed in human’s diets, it’s a nutrient found in many fresh fruits and vegetable (citrus fruits), and humans can develop a disease called scurvy without it. A frame-shift mutation in our incapability to make vitamin C has become apparent due to one of these genes being non-functional. This trait mutation is in other primates as well, and could have occurred in the ancestors of all primates (around 70-80 million years ago). This mutation maintained in the early primate ancestors as they lived in tropical regions, and ate lots of fruits, meaning the mutation was not a causable effect for them, carrying it onto all descendents. Vitamin C deficiency has only become an issue with diet changes, such as foods with high fats and lack of fresh fruit or vegetables. Our closest primates also would get ill if they didn’t maintain a strict diet of fruits and vegetables.
       So, what will humans evolve to in the future? Evolutionary predictions are speculated from what kind of environment our species may face, the climate changes could diminish the benefits of culture and medicine, creating a new era of natural selection. Relaxation in selective pressures is caused from industrialization, as diminishing energy resources become threatening, and population growth. Many would say in the future, humans will be greatly intelligent, but the larger brains and cranial of infants would need to pass through a women’s pelvis to reach the world. Greater difficulties and renewed selective pressures are most probable.