A full week has gone by since Wikileaks stunned the world with their Vault 7: Year Zero drop which, incidentally, is only 1% of the entire leak. The drop, which introduced “the scope and direction of the CIA’s global covert hacking program,” has left many of us wondering how to realistically restrain the U.S. Intelligence Community’s ability to spy on virtually every aspect of our lives. How do you put even a fraction of that genie back in the bottle? It’s been a lot to take in and I’m sure everyone is anxiously awaiting Wikileaks’ future drops (Perhaps Merkel called and she wants her phone records back). Although, admittedly it’s been nice to get a breather in between leaks because remember when the Podesta emails were being dropped literally every single day? The mind-boggling, HRC corruption found in those emails was so overwhelming I could barely form a sentence. Here’s a video of me eighteen days into the Podesta email drops trying to explain all of the dirt found in them. So yeah. I’m happy Wikileaks didn’t start dropping every day (for now) because I think we all needed time to digest the information.
Okay, so today I’ve broken up the latest Vault 7 news into categories because I thought it might be easier to get through everything that’s been put out there in the last few days. Here goes…
DONATE AND NOMINATE
If you can support Wikileaks by donating or buying cool stuff head over to the Wikileaks shop HERE which is now carrying Vault 7 t-shirts along with other cool stuff like Embassy Cat coffee mugs, backpacks, and Snowden iPhone cases. Another way you can support Wikileaks—in case you spent all of your money CIA-proofing your home and electronics this weekend—is by nominating them for the “first-ever” MIT Media Lab Disobedience Award which is giving away a $250,000 cash prize. This is a pretty easy way to support the work that Assange and others do at Wikileaks. Yes, you have to fill something out about why you’re nominating Wikileaks and yes, you have to give your name but if you haven’t noticed already the CIA already knows you support them so just do it. The nomination form will literally take you three to five minutes tops.
VAULT 7 REACTIONS
I feel like I could be here all day covering Vault 7 reactions. Let’s start with the White House. During a March 8th press conference, Sean Spicer was quick to point out that the leaks “should concern every single American in terms of the impact it has on our national security,” while blatantly failing to mention Americans’ concerns about their own privacy and security. Then, during an interview with Judge Jeanine Pirro, he pointed out that Trump has been concerned about intelligence leaks for awhile now (which he has), that the leaks undermine national security (which they might), and that the White House will “punish those that are potentially leaking.” In fact, they are “aggressively pursuing” anyone who leaks or shares intelligence information that they shouldn’t. Of course this begs the question of how exactly you go after someone for leaking the CIA’s cyber arsenal when the CIA itself has both classified the arsenal as “unclassified” in order to circumvent the law and leaked it themselves just by using it? Furthermore, here we have yet another U.S. administration that appears to have a zero tolerance policy towards leaks and whistleblowers no matter the content of the leaks—and I’m only using the word “appears” because none of us know what’s really happening behind the scenes. But if the White House means what Spicer conveyed then they are very, very serious about taking down leakers and whistleblowers. This, of course, leads us right into Vice President Pence’s comment that they will use the “full force of the law and the resources of the United States to hold all those to account that were involved”—an extremely disconcerting statement in terms of Assange’s future and well-being.
The bottom line is that the White House is seemingly forgetting that none of this would have probably happened had the
NSA/CIA never developed things like TV and vehicle hacking or engaged in unconstitutional/illegal spying on American citizens Russians not hacked the CIA. Oh those dirty Russians. Speaking of Russians, at the end of the Judge Pirro interview, Spicer added, “The people who have been briefed with respect to Russia, uh, and allegations of coordination of various entities, every single person that’s been briefed…the people who have seen the intelligence have said unequivocably, that there’s nothing there.” Got it? No Russians.
Other government responses to Vault 7 included the CIA…
…to which Wikileaks responded, “…note that WikiLeaks ‘Vault7-Year Zero’ does not contain references to extremism.” So yes, the CIA would rather have you believe that Wikileaks is arming enemies of the U.S. with cyber weapons rather than admit to the fact that they, themselves, are the ones who lost control. Wikileaks made it very clear that they redacted the Vault 7 documents and removed any coding that could be used as a weapon. Interestingly, if you watched the Judge Pirro/Spicer interview I posted earlier you’ll remember that back in December, Obama opened up NSA data sharing with “16 of the United States government’s intelligence groups,” including the CIA, FBI, Homeland Security, and the DEA, giving them a “trove of raw data.” Yeah, so that happened. Less than three months ago. Peculiar isn’t it? I don’t know if that has anything to do with the leak but let’s be honest here: If anyone is arming the enemy, it’s the CIA…or the FBI…or Homeland Security…not Wikileaks. But the CIA’s response goes beyond their accusations against Wikileaks. First of all, the CIA’s covert cyber programs do not have any public oversight and secondly, when they want to circumvent U.S. law they merely ask the GCHQ (or another member of the Five Eyes or Sweden or maybe Merkel) to do the spying for them. It’s that simple, folks. Really.
While the CIA spent their time pointing figures elsewhere, Senator Ben Sasse and Jake Tapper took their feelings about Vault 7 and Julian Assange to a whole new level:
To which Assange responded brilliantly:
Tapper, of course, quickly deleted his tweet in his usual passive-aggressive, man-baby manner. And ya’ll know how much it pains me to bring up CNN but here’s a bit of reporting on Vault 7 that really takes the cake. And yes, like @AnonScan pointed out, the CNN reporter really did say that Vault 7 (Wikileaks) “puts national security at risk and violates peoples’ privacy.” CNN would rather choke on itself than report the news accurately. However, Glenn Greenwald did a kick ass interview that actually got played on the network without CNN shutting it down and burning the footage. Watch HERE. Another good interview to watch is via The Big Picture with Thom Hartmann who had guests CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou and James Bamford on the show. I particularly enjoyed Bamford not only calling Hayden out but also calling out the Intelligence Community for failing to keep their promise that they would keep their cyber arsenal safe.
Germany, of course, wasn’t thrilled to learn about the CIA’s spying party taking place at the Frankfurt Consulate nor were the Chinese who responded with, “Stop listening in, monitoring, stealing secrets and internet hacking against China and other countries.” Other responses included David Petraeus who said that the leaks “will damage the relationship that was being re-established with IT companies in the wake of the Snowden revelations,” Ron Paul who called the leaks “a fantastic gift to liberty,” and U.S. Representative Dennis Kucinich who stated,
“It is bad enough that the government spies on its own people. It is equally bad that the CIA, through its incompetence, has opened the cyberdoor to anyone with the technological skills and connections to spy on anyone else.”
“…erosion of privacy at the hands of the government and corporations has annihilated the concept of a ‘right to privacy’…it is becoming increasingly clear that we are sliding down the slippery slope towards totalitarianism, where private lives do not exist.”
Amen, Mr. Kucinich! The Web Foundation, created by the web’s inventor, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, echoed Kucinich’s sentiments, “Governments should be safeguarding the digital privacy and security of their citizens, but these alleged actions by the CIA do just the opposite.” Meanwhile, the Internet Engineering Task Force, who’s mission is to “make the Internet work better by producing high quality, relevant technical documents that influence the way people design, use, and manage the Internet,” felt that the Vault 7 leaks merely confirmed what was already known. Hmm. Did everyone know about Samsung TVs or the fact that your car can be turned into an assassination machine? Yeah. I didn’t think so. Or how about NSA workers vanishing after being accused of espionage, CIA hackers’ traveling tactics into Germany, the CIA attacks on their own “liaison assets,” or the agency’s obsession with covering their dirty, little tracks? How about NSA employees spying on their own girlfriends, boyfriends, and spouses—and I can assure you from personal experience the NSA isn’t the only federal agency doing it.
All of these things are coming out in the wash or are at least finally being discussed in governments and households around the world because of the Vault 7 leak. To minimize the importance of the leak is ridiculous. However, with that said, the IETF is right. The CIA’s cyber arsenal has been floating around out there for anyone to steal and we should be outraged at the U.S. government’s failure to protect its own citizens and American companies—and grateful to Wikileaks for at least trying to clean up this shit show.
WORKING WITH COMPANIES
The Vault 7: Zero Year leak has sent companies “scrambling” to fix revealed software vulnerabilities. Many companies have already come out and addressed the CIA leak and I believe I talked about Microsoft, Apple, and Google in my previous post. For John McAfee’s response head over HERE and to read Signal’s response go HERE. I realize that many, many Americans don’t seem to care about government spying or vulnerabilities in company software because the general attitude is, “I’m not doing anything wrong.” Maybe you aren’t but to give the government carte blanche to rummage through and potentially control parts of your life is insane. What if a loved one who happens to be a journalist who also happens to be working on a story that may get him or her killed is actually killed because someone hacked into his or her vehicle? Is that acceptable? Wikileaks put this out there:
Still not worried? Try reading Consumer Reports’ article on “out of control” Toyotas (my guess is this was secret government testing) or The Sun’s article, “Five Nightmare Scenarios Which Show Why Wikileaks’ Surveillance Revelations Are So Terrifying.” Even Number Five sounds terrifying. Lastly, but most importantly, watch this video because it really is “The Real Point of Wikileaks Vault 7.”
So what can be done right now? For everyone concerned about their devices read about McAfee’s detection tool HERE and check out an article that Snowden posted about how to protect your devices HERE. As for companies themselves, Wikileaks asked its followers if they should work with tech companies to help them patch vulnerabilities in their software.
Julian Assange made 57% of you happy by announcing during a press conference that Wikileaks, indeed, would start working with tech companies in order to make people “more secure.” To listen to the entire Wikileaks/Julian Assange’s press conference head to Youtube.
So what happens when your government hoards vulnerabilities instead of disclosing them? Well let’s see, my last post covered the fact that your privacy is pretty much shot; your iPhone, your computer, your TV, your car, and god only knows what else is compromised if the government wants it to be compromised. But let’s take a look at something that maybe you hadn’t thought of before: Legal proceedings against pedophiles. You see, Snowden posted this article entitled, “The Feds Would Rather Drop a Child Porn Case Than Give Up a Tor Exploit” back on March 8, 2013 and it’s enough to make you want to vomit. Here’s a summary of the article,
“THE DEPARTMENT OF Justice filed a motion in Washington State federal court on Friday to dismiss its indictment against a child porn site. It wasn’t for lack of evidence; it was because the FBI didn’t want to disclose details of a hacking tool to the defense as part of discovery.”
This is actually happening, folks. So if you’re that three year old being viciously abused every day because the monsters that roam this earth are sick enough to do it and demons are depraved enough to pay to see it, that abuse is probably going to continue. At least for the time being. Not only that, the person behind the website who just walked out of court scot-free because the feds didn’t want to spill the beans, is well aware that the federal government is watching them and will take precautions to hide their horrific crimes.
Furthermore, the article questions whether or not these online exploits that the government refuses to disclose are being used for other things—as in “in a FISA context”— while Mozilla pointed out that the problem with “hoarding vulnerabilities instead of disclosing them to be patched is that criminal hackers could find the flaws and maliciously exploit them while the government is keeping them secret for investigative purposes.” That’s exactly what Wikileaks stated in their Vault 7 press release—Obama made an agreement that the government would disclose “zero days” to companies (which is a good thing because companies can then protect themselves, their software, and their customers) but agencies like the CIA failed to do so and instead used the vulnerabilities for the agency’s own nefarious purposes leaving everyone at risk and the door wide open for others to steal the CIA’s cyber weapons. Unbelievable.
So is there any good news? There actually is. I believe that most companies want to fix the problem (don’t worry, I’m sure it will come out in the wash soon enough if they don’t) and according to U.S. cyber security expert Robert Graham,
“One anti-virus researcher has told me that a virus they once suspected came from the Russians or Chinese can now be attributed to the CIA, as it matches the description perfectly to something in the leak.”
Yes, this means the CIA is run by idiots. But it also means that other countries won’t be blamed for things that our own government is doing. And whether you agree or not, I have to believe that this is a step towards a more peaceful existence.
WHO’S TO BLAME?
It depends on who you ask. The Russians are an easy go-to on those days when you’re feeling down, confused, or just plain lied to by your government. Otherwise, you can listen to ex-CIA Deputy Director Michael Morrell who appears certain that the leak came from inside the CIA. But beware, Wikileaks tweeted this out sending us all back to the drawing board. So who leaked Vault 7 to Wikileaks? It’s a great question but not one I can answer for you. What I do know is if you remember from the Wikileaks press release this arsenal was passed around and the CIA lost control. So realistically, who knows where it came from. For all I know, it came from a guy who got it from a guy who knew a guy at the Chuck E. Cheese who’s brother works at the NSA. Seriously. The NSA seems that retarded at this point. Also, don’t forget Wikileaks’ clue, “How did #Vault7 Make Its Way to Wikileaks?”
Wikileaks also posted a link to a WSJ article entitled, “Authorities Question CIA Contractors in Connection With WikiLeaks Dump,” so the leaked data could have come from any number of contractors working within the NSA. However, let’s not lose sight of the real question here which is, “When did the NSA realize they lost control of their cyber weapons and did they notify anyone when that happened, including Presidents Obama and Trump?”
But if you’re dying to figure out the “whodunnit” part of this story perhaps this will help in your endeavour:
Doesn’t help? That’s about all I’ve got, sorry. All of this “who leaked what” stuff could lead us into the whole Guccifer 2.0 story which I’m hoping to get to one of these days so when I find some more time…
RANDOM NOT RANDOM
On March 9, 2017, Wikileaks posted a really interesting article from the The Intercept entitled, “DEATH IN AL GHAYIL: Women and Children in Yemeni Village Recall Horror of Trump’s ‘Highly Successful’ SEAL Raid.” Now, if you’re like me, you sometimes you spend your days confused about what’s happening in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Qatar, etc. Like, who’s fighting who and what are they actually fighting over, right? Right. So here’s what I’m gong to do: For those of you who actually know what the heck is going on in the rest of the world feel free to skip to the end. For everyone else, I’m going to add a little blurb on each blog post that gives a little bit of background on each part of the world that I touch on. Like yesterday, I know @Anonscan tweeted out one or two things about Turkey which is another area where I’m like, “Uh…what’s happening over there exactly?” The bottom line is that a. I don’t like being an ignorant American and b. Who knows what’s coming down the pipeline in the Vault 7 leaks so a better understanding of the world at large might be in order. Okay, back to the article and Yemen, Cliffnotes style. And FYI, I’m only going back to 1990 so realize this is a ridiculously short version of Yemen’s history:
Yemen wasn’t always Yemen. Before 1990, the area known as Yemen today was actually split in two: North and South Yemen. For reasons that I’m going to skip just for time’s sake, the two unified on May 22, 1990. After the unification, a group called the Houthis developed in the north. They practice an offshoot of Shia Islam and are generally supported by Iran. The south is generally populated by Sunnis who are supported by Saudi Arabia. In 2011, Yemen dictator Ali Abdullah Salah was toppled so he handed power over to Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi. However, the Houthis forced Hadi out in 2014 which set off a civil war. Hadi asked Saudi Arabia for help which they happily obliged because remember, the Houthis in the north who forced Hadi out were being supported by the Iranians—the Saudis’ nemesis. It is also rumored that Hadi receives support from the Muslim Brotherhood.
Complicating this story is al-Qaeda or AQAP who has been in the region for years but didn’t gain significant power until the civl war broke out. Generally speaking, AQAP supports the Sunnis in the south (who are supported by Saudi Arabia) while the Houthis support toppled leader, Salah (with the support of Iran). So where does the U.S. fall into all of this? We’ve been supporting Saudi Arabia who, in turn, supports the Sunnis and, you guessed it, AQAP. It’s much more complicated than this but this gives you a general idea of what’s happening and who the players are.
Now, back to the article that The Intercept published. Interestingly enough, if I read it correctly (who knows these days), it appears that Trump’s raid in Yemen actually took out guys that are fighting against the Houthis in the north meaning we took out guys that are being supported by Saudi Arabia which seems a strange move on our part based on history. However, we could have been going after AGAP, and I’m beginning to wonder if this ties into payback for Benghazi. But who knows. I’m just throwing it out there. And I think Wikileaks tweeted at one point that Trump needs to be careful who’s advising him and it may have been in relation to this article. So was Trump set up by the Deep State to go after the wrong guys? Maybe…
More to come…