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The NSA’s surveillance network is MUCH bigger than you think

The existing network infrastructure of America’s largest telecommunications companies is being used by the government to spy on… everyone

Seraphim Hanisch

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The American Telephone and Telegraph Company, more familiarly known as AT&T, has a network that is one of the most robust in the world. Even before the age of the Internet, this company managed to carry voice and data communications across the United States from any point to any other point.

When the age of digital telephone networks arrived, the AT&T core network was drastically upgraded to carry voice calls not as analogue signals but as digitized information. As further development of the now global Internet continued, the demands for data bandwidth grew geometrically. This development continued at ever greater speeds as the wireline networks became part of a truly vast Internet consisting of wired and wireless devices, computers, telemetry transmitters, radio and television stations and all points on the World Wide Web and every other internet access portal.

As of March 2018, some 197 petabytes of data flow across AT&T’s network every day. A “petabyte” is 1015 bytes of data, equal to 1000 Terabytes (think about your own computer’s hard drives today which usually rate about one or two terabytes of storage. This daily stream is equivalent to streaming 60 billion average sized mp3 files per day.

Such a throughput is a great resource for surveillance.

The NSA has taken advantage of that resource in great measure. What is more, the NSA didn’t have to build much to do this; all it had to do was make some modifications and upgrades to the existing network infrastructure.

According to this article from The Intercept, there are about eight structures in the United States alone that are data gathering points for the NSA to conduct its eavesdropping operations. The buildings are known and recognized by many people in their respective cities as being AT&T switching facilities, but until recently the existence of all eight had not been verified:

Last year, The Intercept highlighted a likely NSA facility in New York City’s Lower Manhattan. Now, we are revealing for the first time a series of other buildings across the U.S. that appear to serve a similar function, as critical parts of one of the world’s most powerful electronic eavesdropping systems, hidden in plain sight.

“It’s eye-opening and ominous the extent to which this is happening right here on American soil,” said Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice. “It puts a face on surveillance that we could never think of before in terms of actual buildings and actual facilities in our own cities, in our own backyards.”

The Intercept goes on to explain a little of how this matrix works:

While network operators would usually prefer to send data through their own networks, often a more direct and cost-efficient path is provided by other providers’ infrastructure. If one network in a specific area of the country is overloaded with data traffic, another operator with capacity to spare can sell or exchange bandwidth, reducing the strain on the congested region. This exchange of traffic is called “peering” and is an essential feature of the internet.

Because of AT&T’s position as one of the US’s leading telecommunications companies, it has a large network that is frequently used by other providers to transport their customers’ data. Companies that “peer” with AT&T include the American telecommunications giants Sprint, Cogent Communications, and Level 3, as well as foreign companies such as Sweden’s Telia, India’s Tata Communications, Italy’s Telecom Italia, and Germany’s Deutsche Telekom.

AT&T currently boasts 19,500 “points of presence” in 149 countries where internet traffic is exchanged. But only eight of the company’s facilities in the US offer direct access to its “common backbone” – key data routes that carry vast amounts of emails, internet chats, social media updates, and internet browsing sessions. These eight locations are among the most important in AT&T’s global network. They are also highly valued by the NSA, documents indicate.

The data exchange between AT&T and other networks initially takes place outside AT&T’s control, sources said, at third-party data centers that are owned and operated by companies such as California’s Equinix. But the data is then routed – in whole or in part – through the eight AT&T buildings, where the NSA taps into it. By monitoring what it calls the “peering circuits” at the eight sites, the spy agency can collect “not only AT&T’s data, they get all the data that’s interchanged between AT&T’s network and other companies,” according to Mark Klein, a former AT&T technician who worked with the company for 22 years. It is an efficient point to conduct internet surveillance, Klein said, “because the peering links, by the nature of the connections, are liable to carry everybody’s traffic at one point or another during the day, or the week, or the year.”

Indeed, to the telecommunications engineer, the maps shown here are simply mundane maps of a very large network. But the maps’ simplicity and openness belie the powerful facilities for eavesdropping that such a network provides. Here on the Duran, this news piece highlighted how private industry was able to successfully eavesdrop on private citizens through their cell phones. Ever notice how your phone’s internet browser often pops up ads for things it seems you were just talking about? That is often this eavesdropping capability in action.

Map showing the geographical locations of the eight backbone nodes deployed by AT&T and co-opted by the NSA for surveillance.

This map shows some of the interconnects with information about the capacity of the trunks running between the backbone nodes and peer nodes. The DS3 is the low end of data rates at 51.84 Mbps, while the OC 192 is an optical cable capable of around 9.6Gbps. Multiple trunks are usually employed along the same routes as bandwidth requirements increase.

We are all connected. And the NSA knows how.

As with all applications of technology, the good and the bad are mixed. Certainly the NSA’s ability to intercept threats cannot be undervalued. But for some, the Orwellian spectre of constant surveillance may well inspire some to turn their phones completely off and go “off the grid” from time to time.

In the Oliver Stone movie “Snowden”, we see a glimpse into how far the surveillance society can take things.

Privacy is possible, but few of us truly have it.

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TecumsehUnfacedYou can call me AlJohn Vughartwellke4ram Recent comment authors
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TecumsehUnfaced
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TecumsehUnfaced

Thank you for this helpfully orienting piece.

You can call me Al
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You can call me Al

Are they all paranoid ?, insane ?, what ?; apart from the usual “1984” scenario, I don’t really understand why they do it and how they are allowed to do it. But thanks for the info.

John Vu
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John Vu

Think? Everybody KNOWS Deepstate controls the whole world except China and Iran – and presently NK – but including Russia. Why? Until “Russia builds the Great Firewall of Urals”… Don’t you know FB and GG want build free internet for Africa and everybody else if necessary?

John Vu
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John Vu

All those telecoms in the West are in it with Deepstate – they are Deepstate. All other countries’ switching gears are made by whom? The West, and they are all rigged with backdoor. The only country Deepstate can’t touch is China. NK and Iran’s gears are arguably rigged too.

ke4ram
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ke4ram

A pretty accurate history of AT&T

https://dailyreckoning.com/att-out-of-business-2/

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Senator Richard Black: Trump’s historic opportunity to end the war in Syria (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 115.

Alex Christoforou

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Virginia State Senate and retired U.S. Marine and Army JAG officer Richard H. Black, and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou discuss a dangerous week’s escalation in Syria, and US President Trump opportunity to break free of Deep State and neocon influence, to finally put an end to a war seeded by George W. Bush and started by Barack Obama.

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Via The New York Times

As Syria’s seven-year civil war enters a climactic phase, the Trump administration is grappling with how to address the emerging political dynamics. President Bashar al-Assad has retaken control of most of Syrian territory, and experts said there is almost no chance that rebel groups will topple him or change the course of the war.

But this week, Russia and Turkey proposed a demilitarized zone to stop a military offensive that Mr. Assad had planned against Idlib Province, the last major rebel enclave in Syria. Even a delay in the rampage would buy time for the United States to help draw up new strategies for dealing with Syria if it definitively falls under Mr. Assad’s rule.

At next week’s meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, heads of state and top diplomats are expected to discuss how to protect Idlib’s residents from Mr. Assad and, ultimately, end the civil war. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, who has opposed Mr. Assad and deployed Turkish troops to Idlib, is scheduled to speak at the annual forum on Tuesday, as is President Hassan Rouhani of Iran, one of the Syrian government’s most loyal allies.

President Trump will also address the world body that day. He has repeatedly threatened to withdraw American troops from Syria, where they are fighting the Islamic State in the country’s east. But in April, Mr. Trump for the second time ordered airstrikes to punish Mr. Assad for using chemical weapons. The Trump administration is also clinging to a mostly stalled peace process that was begun under President Barack Obama.

“The reality on the ground in Syria has drastically changed, and the United States’ strategy for Syria should shift as a result,” foreign policy scholars wrote this month in an analysis for the Brookings Institution.

There are few easy answers for the United States as it weighs how to shape a potential end game in a war that has killed at least hundreds of thousands of Syrians, has displaced millions more and has shattered the country into competing areas of control. Here are some of the main questions.

The Brookings Institution is advising that the United States should initiate a 10-degree shift in it’s strategy towards Syria.

Neocon Washington think tanks cannot concede that Syria is a sovereign nation with a right to self determination, insisting instead on advising POTUS Trump to foster a “long game” regime change plan that keeps the “Syrian government” weak and off balance, while bolstering Al Qaeda “moderate rebel” controlled provinces, in cooperation with Turkey.

And American troops in Syria…they are advising Trump to keep them right where they are, illegally occupaying Syria.

Via The NYT

Will the U.S. maintain a military presence in Syria?

Yes, at least for the foreseeable future. This month, the American military flew 100 Marines to Tanf, a small outpost in eastern Syria near the Iraqi border. The small deployment of troops was intended to signal to the Syrian government and its Russian and Iranian allies that the American military was digging in..

Tanf is more than 200 miles from Idlib. But the Russian military twice warned the Pentagon this month — on Sept. 1 and again on Sept. 6 — that it would attack what it said were Islamic State militants in the stretch of desert near the small outpost where American Special Operations forces have been training local militias.

At some point, Mr. Assad will undoubtedly have to address the American presence in northeastern Syria, where United States troops have built a constellation of bases and airfields.

In early September, a State Department envoy, James F. Jeffrey, told reporters in Washington that “the new policy is we’re no longer pulling out by the end of the year.”

He said he was “confident” that Mr. Trump was “on board” with the American military taking a more active role in Syria.

Here are the chief elements of the “shift” as proposed by the DC “foreign policy scholars” at Brookings:

  • Recognizing what is increasingly obvious: that President Bashar Assad will not be displaced or replaced through the current Geneva peace process. Instead, the United States should work over time to persuade his cronies and allies to convince him to step down in favor of a successor who is largely of his choosing. Other Syrian groups and the international community should have a say in the formation of additional elements of a new Syrian government, as a precondition for the provision of substantial reconstruction aid to and through the central government.
  • Threatening and, if necessary, conducting limited reprisal air strikes against Syrian aerial assets, in retaliation for any future regime barrel bombing, particularly around Idlib. Washington should adopt a similar strategy toward Iran should its proxies attempt attacks against the United States or its allies.
  • Promptly providing humanitarian and reconstruction aid to those parts of Syria not under government control, with U.S. forces remaining in roughly their current number and location to supervise the process and help train provisional local security forces (more like police than opposition forces bent on Assad’s removal). The aid should be provided more locally than regionally, in part to discourage the formation of a single, strong Kurdish zone that would exacerbate Turkish fears of secessionism.
  • Working with Turkey to weaken extremist elements in and around Idlib, including with limited military action if need be, and continuing U.S. military action against residual pockets of ISIS elements in the country’s east until the battlefield defeat of ISIS is complete.

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Putin Keeps Cool and Averts WWIII as Israeli-French Gamble in Syria Backfires Spectacularly

Putin vowed that Russia would take extra precautions to protect its troops in Syria, saying these will be “the steps that everyone will notice.”

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Authored by Robert Bridge via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


By initiating an attack on the Syrian province of Latakia, home to the Russia-operated Khmeimim Air Base, Israel, France and the United States certainly understood they were flirting with disaster. Yet they went ahead with the operation anyways.

On the pretext that Iran was preparing to deliver a shipment of weapon production systems to Hezbollah in Lebanon, Israeli F-16s, backed by French missile launches in the Mediterranean, destroyed what is alleged to have been a Syrian Army ammunition depot.

What happened next is already well established: a Russian Il-20 reconnaissance aircraft, which the Israeli fighter jets had reportedly used for cover, was shot down by an S-200 surface-to-air missile system operated by the Syrian Army. Fifteen Russian servicemen perished in the incident, which could have been avoided had Israel provided more than just one-minute warning before the attack. As a result, chaos ensued.

Whether or not there is any truth to the claim that Iran was preparing to deliver weapon-making systems to Hezbollah in Lebanon is practically a moot point based on flawed logic. Conducting an attack against an ammunition depot in Syria – in the vicinity of Russia’s Khmeimim Air Base – to protect Israel doesn’t make much sense when the consequence of such “protective measures” could have been a conflagration on the scale of World War III. That would have been an unacceptable price to achieve such a limited objective, which could have been better accomplished with the assistance of Russia, as opposed to NATO-member France, for example. In any case, there is a so-called “de-confliction system” in place between Israel and Russia designed to prevent exactly this sort of episode from occurring.

And then there is the matter of the timing of the French-Israeli incursion.

Just hours before Israeli jets pounded the suspect Syrian ammunition storehouse, Putin and Turkish President Recep Erdogan were in Sochi hammering out the details on a plan to reduce civilian casualties as Russian and Syrian forces plan to retake Idlib province, the last remaining terrorist stronghold in the country. The plan envisioned the creation of a demilitarized buffer zone between government and rebel forces, with observatory units to enforce the agreement. In other words, it is designed to prevent exactly what Western observers have been fretting about, and that is unnecessary ‘collateral damage.’

So what do France and Israel do after a relative peace is declared, and an effective measure for reducing casualties? The cynically attack Syria, thus exposing those same Syrian civilians to the dangers of military conflict that Western capitals proclaim to be worried about.

Israel moves to ‘damage control’

Although Israel has taken the rare move of acknowledging its involvement in the Syrian attack, even expressing “sorrow” for the loss of Russian life, it insists that Damascus should be held responsible for the tragedy. That is a highly debatable argument.

By virtue of the fact that the French and Israeli forces were teaming up to attack the territory of a sovereign nation, thus forcing Syria to respond in self-defense, it is rather obvious where ultimate blame for the downed Russian plane lies.

“The blame for the downing of the Russian plane and the deaths of its crew members lies squarely on the Israeli side,” Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said. “The actions of the Israeli military were not in keeping with the spirit of the Russian-Israeli partnership, so we reserve the right to respond.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, took admirable efforts to prevent the blame game from reaching the boiling point, telling reporters that the downing of the Russian aircraft was the result of “a chain of tragic circumstances, because the Israeli plane didn’t shoot down our jet.”

Nevertheless, following this extremely tempered and reserved remark, Putin vowed that Russia would take extra precautions to protect its troops in Syria, saying these will be “the steps that everyone will notice.”

Now there is much consternation in Israel that the IDF will soon find its freedom to conduct operations against targets in Syria greatly impaired. That’s because Russia, having just suffered a ‘friendly-fire’ incident from its own antiquated S-200 system, may now be more open to the idea of providing Syria with the more advanced S-300 air-defense system.

Earlier this year, Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reached an agreement that prevented those advanced defensive weapons from being employed in the Syrian theater. That deal is now in serious jeopardy. In addition to other defensive measures, Russia could effectively create the conditions for a veritable no-fly zone across Western Syria in that it would simply become too risky for foreign aircraft to venture into the zone.

The entire situation, which certainly did not go off as planned, has forced Israel into damage control as they attempt to prevent their Russian counterparts from effectively shutting down Syria’s western border.

On Thursday, Israeli Major-General Amikam Norkin and Brigadier General Erez Maisel, as well as officers of the Intelligence and Operations directorates of the Israeli air force will pay an official visit to Moscow where they are expected to repeat their concerns of “continuous Iranian attempts to transfer strategic weapons to the Hezbollah terror organization and to establish an Iranian military presence in Syria.”

Moscow will certainly be asking their Israeli partners if it is justifiable to subject Russian servicemen to unacceptable levels of danger, up to and including death, in order to defend Israeli interests. It remains to be seen if the two sides can find, through the fog of war, an honest method for bringing an end to the Syria conflict, which would go far at relieving Israel’s concerns of Iranian influence in the region.

 

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This Man’s Incredible Story Proves Why Due Process Matters In The Kavanaugh Case

Accused of rape by a fellow student, Brian Banks accepted a plea deal and went to prison on his 18th birthday. Years later he was exonerated.

The Duran

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Authored by James Miller of The Political Insider:


Somewhere between the creation of the Magna Carta and now, leftists have forgotten why due process matters; and in some cases, such as that of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, they choose to outright ignore the judicial and civil rights put in place by the U.S. Constitution.

In this age of social media justice mobs, the accused are often convicted in the court of (liberal) public opinion long before any substantial evidence emerges to warrant an investigation or trial. This is certainly true for Kavanaugh. His accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, cannot recall the date of the alleged assault and has no supporting witnesses, yet law professors are ready to ruin his entire life and career. Not because they genuinely believe he’s guilty, but because he’s a pro-life Trump nominee for the Supreme Court.

It goes without saying: to “sink Kavanaugh even if” Ford’s allegation is untrue is unethical, unconstitutional, and undemocratic. He has a right to due process, and before liberals sharpen their pitchforks any further they would do well to remember what happened to Brian Banks.

In the summer of 2002, Banks was a highly recruited 16-year-old linebacker at Polytechnic High School in California with plans to play football on a full scholarship to the University of Southern California. However, those plans were destroyed when Banks’s classmate, Wanetta Gibson, claimed that Banks had dragged her into a stairway at their high school and raped her.

Gibson’s claim was false, but it was Banks’s word against hers. Banks had two options: go to trial and risk spending 41 years-to-life in prison, or take a plea deal that included five years in prison, five years probation, and registering as a sex offender. Banks accepted the plea deal under the counsel of his lawyer, who told him that he stood no chance at trial because the all-white jury would “automatically assume” he was guilty because he was a “big, black teenager.”

Gibson and her mother subsequently sued the Long Beach Unified School District and won a $1.5 million settlement. It wasn’t until nearly a decade later, long after Banks’s promising football career had already been tanked, that Gibson admitted she’d fabricated the entire story.

Following Gibson’s confession, Banks was exonerated with the help of the California Innocence Project. Hopeful to get his life back on track, he played for Las Vegas Locomotives of the now-defunct United Football League in 2012 and signed with the Atlanta Falcons in 2013. But while Banks finally received justice, he will never get back the years or the prospective pro football career that Gibson selfishly stole from him.

Banks’ story is timely, and it serves as a powerful warning to anyone too eager to condemn those accused of sexual assault. In fact, a film about Banks’s ordeal, Brian Banks, is set to premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival next week.

Perhaps all the #MeToo Hollywood elites and their liberal friends should attend the screening – and keep Kavanaugh in their minds as they watch.

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