aNewDomain.net commentary — Here’s our Ted Rall with an exclusive column for aNewDomain about NSA Quantum, the recently revealed program from the National Security Agency that covertly relays radio signals from PCs, regardless of whether they are connected to the Internet. What? Here’s Ted Rall with more.
You should be forgiven, as a frequent news consumer, for falling prey to the impression that National Security Agency (NSA) spying on Americans boils down to just the so-called telephony metadata program. That’s the program in which AT&T, Verizon and other telecommunications companies turn over everything about our phone calls — including the dialing number, receiving number, duration, triangulated location of each participant — but the calls themselves. Forgive yourself for wondering why phone companies think advertising themselves as having “the fewest dropped calls,” in light of all this, is smart advertising.
Thanks to Edward Snowden, neé That Traitor, now That Traitor Who Began a National Conversation We’d Surely Be Having Anyway, we now know the NSA has unleashed a massive array of programs designed to serve as a relentless mockery of the U.S. Constitution and our purported rights thereunder.
The latest is called NSA Quantum, “which the agency has used since at least 2008, relies on a covert channel of radio waves that can be transmitted from tiny circuit boards and USB cards inserted surreptitiously into the computers. In some cases, they are sent to a briefcase-size relay station that intelligence agencies can set up miles away from the target.”
One of the USBs is called Cottonmouth I. The relay station is called Nightstand. Broadcast range is up to eight miles, depending on the terrain and atmospheric conditions.
From a spook’s perspective, the best part about Quantum is that it’s so old school. No Internet connection required.
According to an NSA PR flack responding to this latest revelation:
NSA’s activities are focused and specifically deployed against — and only against — valid foreign intelligence targets in response to intelligence requirements …”
Whatever you think of Edward Snowden, you’ve got to admit that he’s creating lots of jobs for government propagandists.
But, according to the NSA Quantum documents, the NSA has surreptitiously installed malware on “nearly 100,000 computers around the world that allows the United States to conduct surveillance on those machines and can also create a digital highway for launching cyberattacks.”
Riddle me this: Is it credible that the United States has nearly 100,000 “valid intelligence targets”? Since there are 196 nations, that about 5,000 enemies per country. The enemies-per-nation number shoots up when you eliminate countries that Americans have never heard of, like Vanuatu and Tuvalu. And don’t forget, the NSA targets people with other programs like PRISM and Dishfire, which collects 200 million text messages a day.
According to a secret document by and for the British signals intelligence agency GCHQ, Dishfire indiscriminately sweeps up “pretty much everything it can.”
But an NSA propagandist calls our British partners liars. Cheerio, special relationship?
“NSA’s activities,” said the agency in yet another statement, “are focused and specifically deployed against — and only against — valid foreign intelligence targets in response to intelligence requirements.”
Now my brain really hurts. (Could it be all those NSA radio waves?) According to the latest industry studies, young adults aged 18 to 24 are the most avid texters in America, texting their deepest thoughts an average of 67 times a day. At 200 million text messages a day, that means the U.S. is intercepting at least 3 million texters.
Three million “valid foreign intelligence targets.”
I don’t know that I want to live in a world in which three million James and Jane Bonds are coming to kill me and my fellow citizens.