Annual Fundraising Appeal
Over the course of 21 years, we’ve published many unflattering stories about Henry Kissinger. We’ve recounted his involvement in the Chilean coup and the illegal bombings of Cambodia and Laos; his hidden role in the Kent State massacre and the genocide in East Timor; his noxious influence peddling in DC and craven work for dictators and repressive regimes around the world. We’ve questioned his ethics, his morals and his intelligence. We’ve called for him to be arrested and tried for war crimes. But nothing we’ve ever published pissed off HK quite like this sequence of photos taken at a conference in Brazil, which appeared in one of the early print editions of CounterPunch.
100716HenryKissingerNosePicking
The publication of those photos, and the story that went with them, 20 years ago earned CounterPunch a global audience in the pre-web days and helped make our reputation as a fearless journal willing to take the fight to the forces of darkness without flinching. Now our future is entirely in your hands. Please donate.

Day12Fixed

Yes, these are dire political times. Many who optimistically hoped for real change have spent nearly five years under the cold downpour of political reality. Here at CounterPunch we’ve always aimed to tell it like it is, without illusions or despair. That’s why so many of you have found a refuge at CounterPunch and made us your homepage. You tell us that you love CounterPunch because the quality of the writing you find here in the original articles we offer every day and because we never flinch under fire. We appreciate the support and are prepared for the fierce battles to come.

Unlike other outfits, we don’t hit you up for money every month … or even every quarter. We ask only once a year. But when we ask, we mean it.

CounterPunch’s website is supported almost entirely by subscribers to the print edition of our magazine. We aren’t on the receiving end of six-figure grants from big foundations. George Soros doesn’t have us on retainer. We don’t sell tickets on cruise liners. We don’t clog our site with deceptive corporate ads.

The continued existence of CounterPunch depends solely on the support and dedication of our readers. We know there are a lot of you. We get thousands of emails from you every day. Our website receives millions of hits and nearly 100,000 readers each day. And we don’t charge you a dime.

Please, use our brand new secure shopping cart to make a tax-deductible donation to CounterPunch today or purchase a subscription our monthly magazine and a gift sub for someone or one of our explosive  books, including the ground-breaking Killing Trayvons. Show a little affection for subversion: consider an automated monthly donation. (We accept checks, credit cards, PayPal and cold-hard cash….)
cp-store

or use
pp1

To contribute by phone you can call Becky or Deva toll free at: 1-800-840-3683

Thank you for your support,

Jeffrey, Joshua, Becky, Deva, and Nathaniel

CounterPunch
 PO Box 228, Petrolia, CA 95558

Obese Intelligence

The NSA Search Engine

by BINOY KAMPMARK

The Intercept was already getting the intelligence community excited with its revelations that the National Security Agency had decided to mimic inspector Google. Through creating a search engine in the manner of those pro-transparency pioneers, the intelligence community was turning the tables on the very idea of searchable information. Why keep it the operating preserve of the public? The search engine has, as it stands, over 850 billion records about phone calls, emails, cellphone locations, and internet chats.

The revelations have a few implications, the most obvious one confirming the seamless transition between intelligence work on the one hand, and the policing function on the other. The distinction between intelligence communities whose interests are targeting matters foreign to the polity; and those who maintain order within the boundaries of a state in a protective capacity, prove meaningless in this form. The use of ICREACH makes it clear that the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are regular clients and users of the system.

A 2010 memorandum from the Chief of Liaison Support Group at the CIA titled “CIA colleagues enthusiastically welcome NSA training” speaks with praise about those “NSA-ers embedded in CIA’s workspaces”. Indeed, it speaks very highly of the “information sharing” ethos of the NSA within the Intelligence Community, channelling Google’s operating rationale within more secret spaces. Furthermore, in 2010, the relevant data base provided the NSA “and second Party telephony metadata events to over 1000 analysts across 23 US Intelligence Community agencies.”begging slogans3

Those keen on squirreling information into such a data base are no doubt thrilled by the prospects that it can be made available to the “appropriate” sources. ICREACH has become one of the largest, if not largest system for the internal processing and sharing of surveillance records within the United States. It is not, according to The Intercept, connected with the NSA database that stores data on Americans’ phone calls pursuant to s. 215 of the Patriot Act.

The difference between the two accumulated pools of data is one of scope: ICREACH is mammoth in reach, and positively defiant in its push against the law; the database gathered under s. 215 guidelines is minute in comparison, confined to the dangerously pertinent idea of combating terrorism and like threats. ICREACH exists outside the system of court orders, being a creature of Executive Order 12333. The document, instituted by President Ronald Reagan in 1981, was intended to add robustness to the intelligence gathering capabilities of the US intelligence community.

John Tye, formally of the US State Department, has wrestled with the way EO 12333 is used. He accepts its premise that it is primarily “to target foreigners abroad, and collection happens outside the US.” However, “My complaint is not that they’re using it to target Americans, my complaint is that the volume of incidental collection on US persons is unconstitutional.”

The idea of restraining intelligence gathering to pertinent, specific targeting has gotten increasingly old fashioned in the information banquet of the modern NSA community. Farming modern metadata provides a diet positively rich in carbohydrates, a deficient diet when it comes to nutrition, but excessive when it comes to those fats a lean intelligence, and policing service, should avoid.

The true fat stripping agent here is the law, with its targeted formulae that keeps intelligence agencies focused and relevant in their activities. The most humble analyst will use the law as a tool for gathering, and analysing good data. The slothful gatherer will prefer the short cuts, including the magical search term that avoids as much as it captures. Bugger the law and type in the search term.

The progenitor of this system was retired NSA director Gen. Keith Alexander. In a 2006 letter to John Negroponte, then Director of National Intelligence, Alexander outlined his ideas of a search tool that would “allow unprecedented volumes of communications metadata to be shared and analysed”. To what end? Prizing open a “vast, rich source of information”. Superbly dim in a sense – information is not knowledge; and knowledge is not, on its own accord, information. The glaring point here is that the higher ups in the intelligence community have gotten the wrong end of the stick.

In 2007, ICREACH was launched, its purpose being to deliver “the first-ever wholesale sharing communications database within the US Intelligence Community.” It became, as spokesman from the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence Jeffrey Anchukaitis suggested, part of a fundamental “pillar of the post-9/11 intelligence community” – the principle of sharing information between. Authorities, irrespective of legal distraction or distinction, could obtain data that would otherwise be “stove-piped in any single office or agency.”

The problems of such data-sharing processes is the mechanical presumption that they take place in a legal vacuum. On the one hand, members of the intelligence community are becoming the lounge lizards of bureaucracy. They hug metadata the way a viewer of cable channel television surfs the package of channels. Nothing is actually processed. What matters is having the package to begin with.

The other consequence is dangerous – such sharing practices distribute sensitive material of citizens, both American and non-American, in a manner that mocks any legal restraint. According to Brian Owsley, who presided as federal magistrate judge between 2005 and 2013, “there shouldn’t be this buddy-buddy system back-and-forth.” Time, it would seem, to burn the fat off the obese operator that is the modern US intelligence community.

Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com