Blog

  • Revealed: TrapWire spy cams' ticket to Australia

    posted by Keito
    2012-08-13 15:53:39
    'A shadowy private security company with deep links to the CIA - and a parent company awarded hundreds of millions of dollars in Australian government transport contracts - is operating a pervasive global surveillance and facial recognition network on behalf of law enforcement.

    Over the past few days the internet has been abuzz with revelations regarding TrapWire, an analytical system that integrates with surveillance cameras to capture photographs or video evidence of "suspicious activity".

    All Australians should be concerned about the outsourcing of Australian government (or military operations) to foreign-owned, private contractors with links to spy agencies

    TrapWire is owned by the multinational conglomerate, Cubic Corporation, which in 2010 signed a $370 million contract with the NSW Government to provide Sydney's electronic ticketing system for public transport, based on the London Oyster card system.

    In April this year it was awarded a $65 million contract to provide services to CityRail and also runs the Brisbane "go card" system.

    Fairfax is seeking comment from the government about whether there has been any consideration of bringing the TrapWire system here.

    The TrapWire story began late last week, when emails from a private intelligence company, Stratfor - originally released as part of WikiLeaks's Global Intelligence Files in February - appeared online.

    The emails and other documentation revealed TrapWire is installed in some of the western world's most sensitive locations - including the White House, 10 Downing Street, New Scotland Yard, the London Stock Exchange and five hundred locations in the New York subway system. Trapwire is also installed in many Las Vegas casinos.

    An Australian single mother who online is an anti-surveillance state activist known as Asher Wolf is leading a campaign to expose the clandestine operation, which was created in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks and has been operating without public scrutiny for years.

    Australia is leading the way in development of facial recognition technology and Australian government agencies have reacted enthusiastically to it.

    The founder of TrapWire is 30-year Central Intelligence Agency veteran Richard Hollis Helms. Several of TrapWire's top managers are also former CIA officers. It is part of security company Abraxas Corporation, which reportedly holds sensitive and lucrative contracts involving activities such as creating fake identities for CIA officers.

    In December 2010 Cubic Corporation bought Abraxas for $US124 million.

    The aim of TrapWire is to prevent terrorist attacks by recognising suspicious patterns in activity. It forwards its reports to police departments across the US and law enforcement organisations such as FBI and US Department of Homeland Security.

    Helms said in a 2005 interview that TrapWire "can collect information about people and vehicles that is more accurate than facial recognition, draw patterns, and do threat assessments of areas that may be under observation from terrorists."

    In 2007 the company said that it analyses each aspect of a security incident and "compares it to all previously-collected reporting across the entire TrapWire network. Any patterns detected - links among individuals, vehicles, or activities - will be reported back to each affected facility."

    In addition to analysing surveillance footage TrapWire also operates "see something say something" citizen reporting campaigns in Las Vegas, New York, Washington DC and Los Angeles and all reports received are collated in the TrapWire database, analysed by the company and forwarded to law enforcement.

    While it appears that TrapWire does not operate in Australia, its parent company Cubic holds several large Commonwealth, NSW and Queensland government contracts. It operates in Australia as Cubic Transportation with offices in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth. In 2008 it also opened a defence subsidiary based in Queensland, Cubic Defence Australia, run by Mark Horn.

    Cubic Defence Australia has won about $32 million in contracts with the Australian defence force, mainly providing combat simulation and training systems.

    Comment is being sought from Cubic about the links between their work in Australia and TrapWire.

    Ms Wolf, 32, whose father survived a Siberian gulag during World War II and grandmother at 15 had her thumb cut off by Soviet Union secret police, said she had personal motivations behind her campaigning for civil liberties.

    "All Australians should be concerned about the outsourcing of Australian government (or military operations) to foreign-owned, private contractors with links to spy agencies," she said.

    She said there were inherent conflicts of interest with profit-driven private contractors working in national security. Ms Wolf is also concerned about Australian law enforcement demands for telco data retention and a lack of adequate time for public consultations during the inquiry into national security legislation reforms.

    "They're drowning in data and I don't believe it's helping national security, I believe it's making us more insecure because we don't know where to look at real threats," she said.

    Ms Wolf, who has a three-year-old son, said "it was definitely more interesting to be scrolling through tweets on info-warfare than watching 3am infomercials while breastfeeding".

    The online hacking collective Anonymous has also bought into the issue. They are trying to organise an event called "smash a cam Saturday", where they provide the internet addresses of US security cameras attached to the TrapWire network, and then provide instructions to supporters about how to hack them.

    According to Cubic's 2011 annual report, its revenues in Australia have ballooned to $115 million in 2011, up from $39.9 million in 2009.

    "The primary reasons for the increase in gross margins from services in 2011 were the improvement in margin and increase in service revenue related to our transportation business in the U.K and Australia as well as the gross margin from 2011 Abraxas sales since the acquisition in December 2010," the annual report reads.

    A search on Cubic's websites reveals no information about Abraxas or TrapWire. The page on TrapWire's website outlining its executives and their links to the CIA has recently been removed.

    On its website TrapWire says it was founded in 2004 to build and deploy counter-terrorism technologies "in the wake of the September 11th terrorist attacks". It seeks to prevent such attacks from occurring in the future and boasts on its website that its technology can "detect patterns of behavior indicative of pre-operational planning".

    US authorities were criticised after the al Qaeda attacks of 2001 over failings in information sharing, and part of TrapWire's appeals appears to be that it is designed to make it easier to share information across a global surveillance network. Despite the pervasiveness of its monitoring, it states one of its advantages is that it does not share "sensitive of personally identifiable information".

    The internal TrapWire emails were obtained by hackers when they broke into Stratfor Global Intelligence, which had a partnership deal with TrapWire which saw Stratfor earning an eight per cent finder's fee for any clients it referred to the Cubic company.

    Separately, a Microsoft-powered police surveillance system is being installed in New York City that connects thousands of New York Police Department and private security cameras in the city, recording and archiving up to 30 days worth of footage at a time. Police can backtrack through the footage when investigating crimes. Microsoft plans to offer it up to other cities around the world.'

    http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/revealed-trapwire-spy-cams-ticket-to-australia-20120813-2448z.html
  • WikiLeaks still under MASSIVE sustained DDoS attack.

    posted by Keito
    2012-08-13 19:14:16
    I find it mighty suspect that the same week WikiLeaks releases information pertaining to the US Government-led project 'TrapWire', it also suffers a sustained Distributed Denial of Service attack.

    "The secret-busting organization WikiLeaks says it's been the victim of a sustained denial-of-service attack which has left its website sluggish or inaccessible for more than a week.

    In a statement released late Saturday the group said the assault intensified around the beginning of August and has since expanded to include attacks against affiliated sites.

    Denial-of-service attacks work by overwhelming websites with requests for information. WikiLeaks has said it's been flooded with 10 gigabits per second of bogus traffic from thousands of different Internet addresses.

    Josh Corman, with online content delivery company Akamai, characterized that as "a bit larger" than attacks commonly seen in the past few years.

    WikiLeaks, which has angered officials in Washington with its spectacular releases of classified U.S. documents, remained inaccessible Sunday."

    http://phys.org/news/2012-08-wikileaks-site-weeklong.html



    You read that right, 10 gigabits per second! That's a serious attack right there.



    "The DDoS traffic, has effectively crippled the site, and raised all sorts of questions as to who might be behind it. While Wikileaks has no shortage of enemies, it recently published a number of classified U.S. documents detailing what may be a huge, secret surveillance project.

    Conveniently enough, the DDoS attack has rendered the documents in question largely unavailable, a fact you can attribute to either coincidence or conspiracy depending on the way your mind works. Wikileaks is no stranger to being attacked, but reports that in this case, they're facing a bit more firepower than they have before. The site is down at the moment, but has proven to be quite resilient in the past. It'd take a whole hell of a lot to take Wikileaks down for good, but that might just be what someone is trying to do."

    http://gizmodo.com/5934022/wikileaks-is-getting-pummeled-by-an-unknown-enemy
  • The insects are watching: the future of government surveillance technology...

    posted by Keito
    2012-08-13 14:57:12
    'In June of 2011, the US military admitted to having drone technology so sophisticated that it could be the size of a bug.

    In what is referred to as the “microaviary” on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, drones are in development and design to replicate the flight patterns of moths, hawks and other air-borne creatures of the natural world.

    Greg Parker, aerospace engineer, explains: “We’re looking at how you hide in plain sight” for the purpose of carrying out espionage or kill missions.

    Cessna-sized Predator drones, used to carry out unmanned attacks, are known around the world. The US Pentagon has an estimated 7,000 aerial drones in their arsenal.

    In 2011, the Pentagon requested $5 billion for drones from Congress by the year 2030.

    Their investigative technology is now moving toward “spy flies” equipped with sensors and mircocameras to detect enemies and nuclear weapons.

    Parker is using helicopter technology to allow his computer-driven drone “dragonflies” to become precise intelligence gathering weapons.

    To have a computer do it 100 per cent of the time, and to do it with winds, and to do it when it doesn’t really know where the vehicle is, those are the kinds of technologies that we’re trying to develop.

    The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has unveiled hummingbird drones that can fly at speeds of 11 miles per hour.

    DARPA is also inserting computer chips into moth pupae in the hopes of hatching “cyborg moths”.

    Within DARPA is the Hybrid Insect Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems project (HIMEM), whose aim is to develop shutterbugs – insects with cameras attached to their very nervous system that can be controlled remotely. Under HIMEM, there are researchers working on cyborg beetles.

    Other institutions are hard at work for the US government, developing more insect technology.

    The California Institute of Technology has created a “mircobat ornithopter” that flies and fits comfortably in the palm of your hand.

    A team at Harvard University has successfully built a housefly-like robot with synthetic wings that buzz at 120 beats per second.

    Back in 2007, at the International Symposium on Flying Insects and Robots, Japanese researchers unveiled a radio-controlled hawk-moth.

    While the US military would have the American public believe that these new “fly drones” are used for overseas missions, insect drones have been spotted surveilling streets right here in the US.

    It is believed that these insect-like drones are high-tech surveillance tools used by the Department of Homeland Security.

    The US government is experimenting with different types of micro-surveillance capabilities, such as cultivating insects with computer chips in them in the hopes of breeding software directly into their bodies to control flight patterns remotely.

    The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has been working on this technology since the 1970s. Known as the “inscetothopter”, it was developed by the Office of Research and Development for the CIA.

    It appears to be a dragonfly; however, it contains a tiny gasoline engine to control its four wings. It was subsequently classified as a failure because it could not maintain flight against natural wind patterns.

    Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has created a butterfly-shaped drone that is the smallest built thus far. It can hover in mid-flight, just as a helicopter and take pictures with its 0.15 gram camera and memory card.

    The “butterfly” imitates nature so well, that birds and other insects are convinced it is real and not man-made.'

    http://www.activistpost.com/2012/06/insects-are-watching-future-of.html
  • Sign Daniel Ellsberg's new petition to help free Bradley Manning...

    posted by Keito
    2012-08-03 22:15:32
    Daniel Ellsberg, a name sure to send shockwaves through public offices across the USofA. A former United States military analyst who, while employed by the RAND Corporation, precipitated a national political controversy in 1971 when he released the Pentagon Papers, a top-secret Pentagon study of U.S. government decision-making in relation to the Vietnam War.

    The man changed history forever when he disclosed top secret information to an unwitting public.

    Fast forward a few decades and we find ourselves in a similar situation, only this time the leaks are not quite so high in classification, yet the punishment for whistleblowing appears to have increased ten-fold.

    Below, is the link to a petition, created by Daniel Ellsberg himself, in support of Bradley Manning, the now infamous WikiLeaks whistleblower. Manning has been detained for over 800 days now, in conditions that are tantamount to physical and psychological torture.

    Please, take a minute of your time to sign the petition, to show that you too are willing to stand against war crimes and the governments attempts to silence such public disclosures.

    "Why this is important?

    Accused WikiLeaks whistleblower and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Bradley Manning will spend the rest of his life in prison for telling the public the truth, if US officials get their way. Government conduct, apparently aimed at discouraging whistleblowers, has ignored due process and made a fair trial impossible. But, in the past, outrageous government conduct has led judges to dismiss the charges against whistleblowers. Tell the judge in Bradley’s military Court Martial to do the same!

    - Bradley was held in pre-trial solitary confinement for 11 months, in conditions condemned by the UN Rapporteur on Torture as “cruel, inhuman and degrading,” including being stripped and made to stand naked at roll call. This was a clear violation of the US military’s Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ: Article 13). Yet, only worldwide outrage--including over 500,000 Avaaz members signing a petition--ended this illegal treatment.

    - Both President Obama and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Dempsey have declared publicly, prior to trial, that Bradley “broke the law." Their statements make a mockery of presumption of innocence and have prejudiced the proceedings with Unlawful Command Influence (UCMJ: Article 37).

    - Article 10 of the UCMJ promises defendants a speedy trial. However, Bradley was imprisoned for nearly two years before his pretrial proceedings even began, and his court-martial trial has yet to start.

    - The prosecution has withheld key evidence which the defense believes will show that Bradley's alleged actions have not damaged US national security. And there is clear evidence that the leaks were motivated entirely by conscience. Yet the military says that Bradley's intention should not even be considered by the court, and that he should be convicted of 'Aiding the Enemy' and sentenced to life in prison, regardless of any moral motive, lack of harm, or overwhelmingly positive results of the disclosures. Against all Justice, this would make any kind of whistleblower defense impossible.

    Call on Judge Lind to acknowledge the outrageous government conduct in Bradley’s case, and dismiss the charges against him, and tell President Obama to pardon him in the event of any conviction!

    The information released has helped inform public understanding of the realities of the War on Terror, and revealed governmental and corporate corruption and collusion. It has contributed to the ending of the Iraq War and to positive people-power movements such as the Tunisian Revolution and the Occupy Movement. Tens of thousands of regular citizens worldwide have supported Bradley and funded his legal defense (See: www.bradleymanning.org). It is time for US officials to stop obstructing democracy and free Bradley Manning!

    Sincerely,
    Daniel Ellsberg, Pentagon Papers whistleblower
    Center for Constitutional Rights
    Bradley Manning Support Network"

    https://secure.avaaz.org/en/petition/Save_human_rights_whistleblower_Bradley_Manning
  • I ♥ the smell of Bullshit in the morning

    posted by Keito
    2012-07-28 11:44:43
    "Often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government is an existing government employee committed to public integrity and willing to speak out. Such acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled. We need to empower federal employees as watchdogs of wrongdoing and partners in performance. Barack Obama will strengthen whistleblower laws to protect federal workers who expose waste, fraud, and abuse of authority in government. Obama will ensure that federal agencies expedite the process for reviewing whistleblower claims and whistleblowers have full access to courts and due process." ~Barack Obama pre-election campaign promise.

    I wonder what Bradley Manning thinks to Obama's new 'strengthened' whistleblower protection measures.