“Yes Virginia”, that is a drone over our house at Christmas!

Editor’s Note – “Yes Virginia”, that is a drone over our house at Christmas! From the “you have got to be kidding” category – yes, another government intrusion proven to be true – drones over you, inside the USA!

FBI Chief: Surveillance Drones Used in U.S.

By Devlin Barrett – WSJ Washington Wire

Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Robert Mueller testifies during a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee June 13, 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington.Mueller

The head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation acknowledged Wednesday that his agency uses drones to conduct surveillance in the United States, but said it does so rarely.

Asked about drones at a Senate hearing, FBI director Robert Mueller said the agency uses them “in a very, very minimal way, very seldom.”

Federal agencies have been using drones for years to monitor the northern and southern borders of the U.S., and those drones have occasionally been deployed to help domestic law-enforcement agencies like the FBI.

The use of such drones is politically charged and civil-rights advocates say there are no clear privacy rules governing their use.

FBI hostage negotiators used surveillance drones during a standoff earlier this year with an Alabama man who had taken a boy hostage inside a makeshift underground bunker.

Asked by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) about what privacy protections are used in deploying drones and storing the images they collect, Mr. Mueller said their use was narrowly focused on specific incidents.

“It’s very seldom used and generally used in a particular incident when you need the capability,’’ said Mr. Mueller, who said he wasn’t sure what becomes of the images recorded by such drones. “It is very narrowly focused on particularized cases and particularized needs.’’

He added: “There are a number of issues related to drones that are going to have to be debated.” One area that needs to be explored, he said, was how long-established guidelines on helicopter surveillance should be adopted or altered to cover unmanned drone surveillance. “It’s worthy of debate and perhaps legislation down the road,’’ said Mr. Mueller.

Mr. Mueller spent Wednesday morning testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee for what is likely to be his last time as FBI director. His term expires in September, and President Barack Obama is expected to nominate former Bush administration official James Comey to succeed him.

Cyber attackers caught, others steal millions

Editor’s Note – Every time we hear that a ring was broken up and the people were protected, along comes another one. Just yesterday the FBI reported the following:

U.S. law enforcement officials on Tuesday said 24 suspected hackers had been arrested on four continents in a sting operation targeting online financial fraud involving stolen credit card and bank information.

The two-year investigation, in which FBI agents posed as hackers on Internet forums, prevented more than $205 million in losses on more than 411,000 compromised consumer credit and debit cards, U.S. authorities in New York said.

Eleven people were arrested in the United States, the FBI and the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office said. The 13 others were arrested in countries spanning from Britain to Japan, the authorities said.

“Clever computer criminals operating behind the supposed veil of the Internet are still subject to the long arm of the law,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said.

Fraud Ring In Hacking Attack On 60 Banks

Some 60m euro is stolen from bank accounts in a massive cyber raid, after fraudsters raid dozens of banks around the world.

By Pete Norman, Sky News Online

Sixty million euro has been stolen from bank accounts in a massive cyber bank raid after fraudsters raided dozens of financial institutions around the world. According to a joint report by software security firm McAfee and Guardian Analytics, more than 60 firms have suffered from what it has called an “insider level of understanding”.

“The fraudsters’ objective in these attacks is to siphon large amounts from high balance accounts, hence the name chosen for this research – Operation High Roller,” the report said.

“If all of the attempted fraud campaigns were as successful as the Netherlands example we describe in this report, the total attempted fraud could be as high as 2bn euro (£1.6bn).”

The automated malicious software programme was discovered to use servers to process thousands of attempted thefts from both commercial firms and private individuals. The stolen money was then sent to so-called mule accounts in caches of a few hundreds and 100,000 euro (£80,000) at a time. Credit unions, large multinational banks and regional banks have all been attacked.

Sky News defence and security editor Sam Kiley said: “It does include British financial institutions and has jumped over to North America and South America.

“What they have done differently from routine attacks is that they have got into the bank servers and constructed software that is automated. It can get around some of the mechanisms that alert the banking system to abnormal activity.”

The details of the global fraud come just a day after the MI5 boss warned of the new cyber security threat to UK business. McAfee researchers have been able to track the global fraud, which still continues, across countries and continents.

“They have identified 60 different servers, many of them in Russia, and they have identified one alone that has been used to steal 60m euro,” Kiley said.

“There are dozens of servers still grinding away at this fraud – in effect stealing money.”

FBI and Anonymous – Details, harm done from FBI offices?

Editor’s Note – A deeper look into how ‘Anonymous’ was wrapped up by the FBI. But what about these tactics? Was harm inflicted upon eventual victims while the FBI was condoning attacks to pile up the evidence?

How Anonymous Picks Targets, Launches Attacks, and Takes Powerful Organizations Down

By Quinn Norton – Wired Danger Room

No one but Hector Xavier Monsegur can know why or when he became Sabu, joining the strange and chaotic Internet collective known as Anonymous. But we know the moment he gave Sabu up. On June 7, 2011, federal agents came to his apartment on New York’s Lower East Side and threatened the 28-year-old with an array of charges that could add up to 124 years in prison. So Hector Monsegur, who as Sabu had become a mentor and icon to fellow members of Anonymous, surrendered his online identity to a new, equally faceless and secretive master: the FBI.

For the next eight months, Sabu continued to rage across the Internet as a core member of AntiSec, a blackhat hacking group within Anonymous. He helped to deface government and corporate websites and even helped bring down the private intelligence firm Stratfor—all, apparently, with the FBI’s blessing as it quietly gathered logs on Monsegur’s fellow “anons.”

Law enforcement officials later told Fox News that Monsegur was working out of the FBI offices “almost daily” in the weeks after he pleaded guilty in August and then from his own home thereafter, with an agent watching his activity 24 hours a day. Sometimes agents were even posing as Sabu directly.

On Christmas, just after the Stratfor hack, Sabu and I happened to be logged into the same channel on IRC, the chatting protocol that serves as the medium through which most Anonymous members planned large-scale operations. I asked the AntiSec members if they were worried about a law enforcement response to Stratfor. Sabu shot back:

we’re used to that heat

we survived the first rounds of the raids

He was referring to a series of arrests that past summer that had scooped up, worldwide, at least 80 alleged participants in the group. At the time, it was hard to fault his reasoning, since those arrests seemed to have done nothing to slow the group’s terrifying onslaught in 2011.

It was a year in which Anonymous burst into the geopolitical consciousness of the world, assisting Arab Spring activists and attacking the security industry, bedeviling law enforcement and intelligence agencies, carrying out countless hacks against Sony and other large corporations. As protest movements spread to the West, Anonymous provided them with crucial logistics (not to mention a great deal of media attention), from the BART protests in San Francisco to the Occupy actions across the US and overseas. Anonymous had figured out how to infiltrate anything, how to mobilize not just machines but physical bodies, all around the globe.

But Sabu hadn’t survived the first rounds of the raids, and thanks to the evidence he helped the Feds gather, more anons wouldn’t survive the next round. In February, Interpol rounded up 25 more alleged participants worldwide, and a few days later the FBI revealed Monsegur’s cooperation to the news media. Soon five more arrests were made, one from AntiSec and four from LulzSec, another hacker arm of the collective.

The mood on the IRC channels, which at Christmas had been cocky and defiant, modulated to a genuine sadness. One anon wrote plaintively about getting programming advice from Sabu. Another summed up the general feeling among the anons about Sabu’s cooperation with the FBI:

In 2011, Anonymous figured out how to infiltrate anything, to mobilize not just machines but bodies. It was merely a speed bump for the collective but a massive emotional bitchslap for individuals

Was it really just a speed bump? It was impossible to say for sure, because Sabu’s arrest cut to the heart of what Anonymous claimed to be, of how it claimed to organize itself. Or, more accurately: its claim that it did notorganize itself, that it had no leaders and yet boasted participants so innumerable (“We are Legion,” as one of its popular slogans blares) that no ten or hundred or thousand arrests could ever stop it. But in Sabu the FBI had nabbed an anon who was not easy to replace. No one could deny he had served as a crucial force in many of 2011′s most spectacular hacking campaigns.

Presumably the anons arrested on the evidence he helped gather were talented hackers, too. For years, when anyone tried to claim they had uncovered the leader, or leaders, of Anonymous, the group’s members would belittle them online and then sometimes hack them for good measure. Now, with these arrests, Anonymous’ whole self-conception was being put to the test.

The possibility that Anonymous might be telling the truth—that it couldn’t be shut down by jailing or flipping or bribing key participants—was why it became such a terrifying force to powerful institutions worldwide, from governments to corporations to nonprofits. Its wild string of brilliant hacks and protests seemed impossible in the absence of some kind of defined organization. To hear the group and its defenders talk, the leaderless nature of Anonymous makes it a mystical, almost supernatural force, impossible not just to stop but to even comprehend. Anons were, they liked to claim, united as one and divided by zero—undefined and indefinable.

In fact, the success of Anonymous without leaders is pretty easy to understand—if you forget everything you think you know about how organizations work. Anonymous is a classic “do-ocracy,” to use a phrase that’s popular in the open source movement. As the term implies, that means rule by sheer doing: Individuals propose actions, others join in (or not), and then the Anonymous flag is flown over the result. There’s no one to grant permission, no promise of praise or credit, so every action must be its own reward.

What’s harder to comprehend—but just as important, if you want to grasp the future of Anonymous after the arrests—is the radical political consciousness that seized this innumerable throng of Internet misfits. Anonymous became dangerous to governments and corporations not just because of its skills (lots of hackers have those) or its scale but because of the fury of its convictions.

In the beginning, Anonymous was just about self-amusement, the “lulz,” but somehow, over the course of the past few years, it grew up to become a sort of self-appointed immune system for the Internet, striking back at anyone the hive mind perceived as an enemy of freedom, online or offline. It started as a gang of nihilists but somehow evolved into a fervent group of believers. To understand that unlikely transformation, and Anonymous’ peculiar method of (non)organization, it is necessary to start at the very beginning.

Read the rest here.

Senate and House Intelligence to Investigate – DoJ and FBI recused

By Scott W. Winchell and Denise Simon

Speaking about recent intelligence leaks, and specifically the ‘Stuxnet Attack’, Sen. Diane Feinstein said: “The leaks have to stop”. She was noticeably upset, so are the Senate and House Intelligence Committees; quite incensed. They have now conferred between the two committees and the investigation begins, why did they have to confer? Because, unfortunately, they will not have the aid of the FBI and the DoJ. Why?

From CSPAN:

HOUSE AND SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE Press Conference Thursday on Classified Leaks The four leaders of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees will hold a news conference to discuss the recent spate of classified national security information leaks. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Feinstein and Vice Chairman Chambliss and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rogers and Ranking Member Ruppersberger called the leaks damaging and intolerable. WHO: Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) 12:30p-1p 216 Hart SOB Alcove

In the video Senator Rogers of the House Intelligence Committee mentions in the post hearing press conference that the DoJ and the FBI have recused themselves from participating in the intelligence leaks investigation despite the probe they already opened as seen in the article below. Why the recusal, why are the two committees coming together as one to investigate? Because there is no one else to do it now.

The iceberg has shown itself, and these two committees must have seen a huge amount of fire and ice below the surface. The result will be that this investigation will get much less truth and cooperation because our investigative branches cannot be involved. What about a ‘Special Prosecutor’? How is this going to work?

President Barack Obama opposes the appointment of a special counsel to investigate whether vital national security secrets were improperly disclosed in a wave of news reports detailing sensitive operations, the White House said Thursday.

“No,” press secretary Jay Carney told reporters aboard Air Force One when asked whether Obama would support such a move. Carney referred reporters to government agencies already tasked with ferreting out leakers. Some Republicans, like Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, have said the administration cannot be trusted to investigate itself. (Read the rest here.)

This is all coming out in campaign season. What is more important, US security or re-election? The Intelligence committees, populated by both parties see something very bad here, and are acting quite united in their angst.

So who conducts the investigation then? Will anyone in DC shut up and stop the leaks…and stop spiking footballs for the sake of an election.

This is about our security, not the ballot box. The Eric Holder Department of Justice is in up to its eyeballs in so many other problems, and should be the investigative arm in this issue, combined with FBI, who reports to the Deputy Attorney General, but both are out now…why?

Its obvious that CIA is beyond mad as well, since the Israelis are now mad, and no one trusts the US intelligence services anymore. In a Donald Rumsfeld radio interview a few days ago, he said that Israel cannot trust Obama now. Even Robert Gates is incensed:

Robert Gates, the former defense secretary, reportedly blasted the national security team in the Obama White House for blabbing about the raid to kill Osama bin Laden. “Shut the f— up,” Gates told Tom Donilon, who is now Obama’s national security adviser, according to a book by New York Times reporter David Sanger. (Read the rest here.)

James Clapper is even getting in on the case:

As he briefs top intelligence lawmakers who are outraged over a series of recent leaks of classified information, Clapper wants to widen the numbers of people across government agencies who would be required to take the “Counterintelligence Polygraph,” the source said.

This may also be related to the debacle in Pakistan. Panetta admits he is running out of patience with Pakistan’s role as an ally of the United States, so is this just about the doctor that cooperated on the Osama bin Ladin event or is there something more?

See the video of the Senate Committee’s statements here.

Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Cal) Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee

FBI Probes Leaks on Iran Cyberattack

By EVAN PEREZ and ADAM ENTOUS

WASHINGTON—The FBI has opened an investigation into who disclosed information about a classified U.S. cyberattack program aimed at Iran’s nuclear facilities, according to two people familiar with the probe.

The investigation follows publication last week of details of the cyber-sabotage program, including the use of a computer worm called Stuxnet, which Iran has acknowledged it found in its computers.

The Central Intelligence Agency ran the operation in conjunction with Idaho National Laboratory, the Israeli government and other U.S. agencies, according to people familiar with the efforts.

The covert effort also includes drone surveillance and cyberspying on Iranian scientists, the people said.

The New York Times on Friday published an account of the U.S. cyberattack operation in an excerpt from a forthcoming book by one of its reporters, David Sanger, that he said he has been working on for a year. Other news organizations, including The Wall Street Journal, followed up with details about the program.

Paul Bresson, a spokesman for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, declined to comment.

The probe comes on the heels of another leak investigation involving revelations about a double agent who infiltrated al Qaeda’s Yemen affiliate.

FBI Director Robert Mueller told lawmakers recently the FBI was looking into how news leaked about the double agent and a new-generation underwear bomb the al Qaeda affiliate had hoped to use in an airliner attack.

The Associated Press, which first reported the Yemen news, has said it held the news for several days at the government’s request.

Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, in speeches on the Senate floor Tuesday, called for the president to appoint a special counsel to investigate what Mr. Chambliss called “a pattern of leaks.”

Mr. McCain said the leaks raised the prospect that they are “an attempt to further the president’s political ambitions for the sake of his re-election at the expense of our national security.” Some Democratic lawmakers also criticized the leaks but said they didn’t believe they were politically motivated.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest on Friday brushed aside suggestions that the information was intentionally leaked.

“It’s classified for a reason, because publicizing that information would pose a significant threat to national security,” he told reporters. White House officials had no immediate comment on Mr. McCain’s comments or on the FBI probe.

The U.S. and its Western allies suspect Iran’s nuclear program is aimed at producing atomic weapons. Tehran denies that and says the program is for peaceful purposes.

The reports on the Iran cyberattacks said the operation, called Olympic Games, began in the Bush administration and accelerated under Mr. Obama.

The New York Times account attributed some information to officials who served in both the Bush and Obama administrations.

Mr. Sanger, in an appearance on CBS News’s “Face the Nation” program Sunday, suggested that deliberate White House leaking “wasn’t my experience.”

He added: “I spent a year working the story from the bottom up, and then went to the administration and told them what I had. Then they had to make some decisions about how much they wanted to talk about it…I’m sure the political side of the White House probably likes reading about the president acting with drones and cyber and so forth. National-security side has got very mixed emotions about it because these are classified programs.”

A spokesman for New York Times Co. declined to comment, and Mr. Sanger said he stood by his comments from Sunday.

MS-13, Now bigger than we can handle?

By SUA Staff – From Guatemala to Washington DC, Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), the violent drug gang, a killing machine, has now gained a foothold beyond Mexico. It has grown into a full-blown transportation network, that includes narcotics, recruiting, weapons, prison indoctrination, death, rape and extortion.

Shipped back to the Central American countries of their birth from the streets and prisons of southern California in the 1990s, the tattooed and scarred members of the Mara Salvatrucha street gang quickly grew into a powerful and deadly force throughout the region.

Now, Guatemalan authorities say, they have begun to see new and disturbing evidence of an alliance between the Maras and another of the most feared criminal organizations in Latin America — a deal with the potential to further undermine that U.S.-backed effort to fight violent crime and narcotics trafficking in the region. Read the rest here.

The FBI established a task force dedicated to gang networks yet, the growth and partnerships continue to fester within our borders and further south into Latin America. However, the missions of MS-13 and Las Zetas are now beyond the capabilities of the task forces in the United States, Mexico, and Latin America.

This gives rise to the rapid expansion of trained killers, most of whom, were Mexican military defectors.

There is no denying their footprint firmly ensconced within America at this point and the threat to the safety of citizens and law enforcement is beyond description. Read the FBI description here:

Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, continues to expand its influence in the United States. FBI investigations reveal that it is present in almost every state and continues to grow its membership, now targeting younger recruits more than ever before.

To counteract this growth, the FBI formed the MS-13 National Gang Task Force in December 2004. Based at FBI Headquarters, this intelligence-driven task force combines the expertise, resources, and jurisdiction of federal agencies that investigate this violent international street gang. It focuses on maximizing the flow of information and intelligence, coordinating investigations nationally and internationally, and helping state and local law enforcement improve operations and prosecutions targeting MS-13. The task force can be reached by calling (202) 324-5340.

More from the FBI:

MS-13 operates in at least 42 states and the District of Columbia and has about 6,000-10,000 members nationwide. Currently, the threat is highest in the western and northeastern parts of the country, which coincides with elevated Salvadoran immigrant populations in those areas. In the southeast and central regions, the current threat is moderate to low, but recently, we’ve seen an influx of MS-13 members into the southeast, causing an increase in violent crimes there.

MS-13 members engage in a wide range of criminal activity, including drug distribution, murder, rape, prostitution, robbery, home invasions, immigration offenses, kidnapping, carjackings/auto thefts, and vandalism. Most of these crimes, you’ll notice, have one thing in common—they are exceedingly violent. And while most of the violence is directed toward other MS-13 members or rival street gangs, innocent citizens often get caught in the crossfire.

MS-13 is expanding its membership at a “moderate” rate through recruitment and migration. Some MS-13 members move to get jobs or to be near family members—currently, the southeast and the northeast are seeing the largest increases in membership. MS-13 often recruits new members by glorifying the gang lifestyle (often on the Internet, complete with pictures and videos) and by absorbing smaller gangs.

Speaking of employment, MS-13 members typically work for legitimate businesses by presenting false documentation. They primarily pick employers that don’t scrutinize employment documents, especially in the construction, restaurant, delivery service, and landscaping industries.