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The Pronk Pops Show 898, May 23, 2017, Story 1: Suicide Bomber, 22-year-old Salman Abedi, Killed 22 and Injured 59 In Radical Islamic Terrorist Attack in Manchester, England — Islamic State Claims Responsibility — President Trump Calls Them “Evil Losers” — Videos — Story 2: Budget Director Mulvaney Presents President Trump’s Fiscal Year 2018 U.S. Federal Budget — Dead On Arrival — Spending Addiction Disorder (SAD) Rampant in Congress — $500-$600 Billion Deficit in Fiscal Year 2018! — Videos — Story 3: Where is The Evidence of Collusion, Conspiracy, or Coordination Between Russians and Trump Campaign? and Where is The Evidence of Collusion, Conspiracy, or Coordination Between Foreign Governments and Clinton Campaign and Clinton Foundation? — Videos

Posted on May 23, 2017. Filed under: American History, Bombs, Breaking News, Congress, Countries, Crime, Culture, Defense Spending, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Elections, Employment, European History, Federal Government, Fourth Amendment, Freedom of Speech, Government, Government Dependency, Government Spending, Great Britain, Hate Speech, History, Homicide, House of Representatives, Human, Human Behavior, Independence, Islamic State, Language, Law, Life, Media, Medicare, Music, News, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Polls, President Trump, Radio, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Second Amendment, Senate, Social Security, Spying, Success, Taxation, Taxes, Terror, Terrorism, United Kingdom, United States Constitution, United States of America, Videos, War, Wealth, Weapons, Welfare Spending, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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Pronk Pops Show 883 April 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 882: April 27, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 849: March 1, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 846: February 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 845: February 23, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 838: February 14, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 830: February 2, 2017

Image result for manchester england suicide bomber Suicide Bomber, 22-year-old Salman Abedi

Image result for trump budget proposal

Story 1:  Suicide Bomber, 22-year-old Salman Abedi,  Killed 22 and  Injured 59 In Radical Islamic Terrorist Attack in Manchester, England — Islamic State Claims Responsibility — President Trump Calls Them “Evil Losers” — Videos

Image result for manchester england suicide bomberThis graphic shows where the explosion took place, in the foyer area, leading towards Victoria railway station Image result for manchester england suicide bomber Suicide Bomber, 22-year-old Salman Abedi

Trump calls Manchester masterminds ‘evil losers’

U.K.’s Theresa May on Manchester Terror Attack

Lt. Col. Shaffer: Manchester terror attack is symbolic

Trump reacts to Manchester attack

Manchester police confirm identity of concert bomber

Published on May 23, 2017

The suicide bomber at an Ariana Grande concert has been identified as 22-year-old Salman Abedi, Manchester Police confirmed at a news conference Tuesday. Greater Manchester Chief Constable Ian Hopkins also said a 23-year-old man was arrested in connection with the attack. See the full news conference.

Who was behind the Manchester terror attack?

Manchester remains on edge following terror attack.

 

Manchester bomber identified: Latest in terror investigation

Last Updated May 23, 2017 3:03 PM EDT

LONDON — Police on Tuesday identified the man who blew himself up the previous night at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, as 22-year-old Salman Abedi. CBS News confirmed Abedi was known to British authorities prior to the attack.

In a generic statement posted online, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) claimed responsibility for Abedi’s suicide bomb attack, which left 22 people dead, including children, at one of the entrances to the Manchester Arena.

Officials said one man was arrested Tuesday in southern Manchester in connection with the attack, and urged people to avoid the center of the city as raids continued at addresses around the city.

Police and British Prime Minister Theresa May made it clear the focus of the investigation was to determine whether the bomber “was acting alone, or was part of a wider group.”

ISIS issued its claim of responsibility in a brief, generic statement that did not identify the bomber and appeared to get some of the facts of the attack wrong. It claimed a “caliphate soldier managed to place a number of devices among a gathering of crusaders in Manchester, and detonated them.”

Officials say there was only one explosion, and there have been no indications that other devices were discovered at or near the arena.

U.S. intelligence sources told CBS News they were exercising caution on the early claim of responsibility from ISIS. Authorities are still looking into whether it was a killer who acted alone or who might have had some level of support from the terror network. U.S. intelligence officials were offering assistance in the investigation, as is standard practice in any case involving a close ally.

Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, noted in Congress on Tuesday that ISIS frequently claims responsibility for terror attacks, and their claim has yet to be verified by U.S. officials.

Testifying in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Coats said the Manchester attack should serve as a reminder that the terrorist threat is “not going away and it needs significant attention.”

ISIS has repeatedly called for its supporters in the West to attack “soft targets” like sports events and concerts in any way possible.

Previous attacks in Europe and the U.S. have been claimed by individuals who support ISIS and have made contact with its members, but who were not directly supported or guided by the terror network.

Manchester police confirmed the arrest of a 23-year-old man in the southern Chorlton neighborhood of the city on Tuesday morning. The suspect taken into custody was not identified, but police said the arrest was linked to the bombing. Witnesses said the man was smiling as he was apprehended.

Police also confirmed that officers had conducted a controlled explosion at the scene of a separate raid connected to the arena attack in the Fallowfield neighborhood, in south Manchester.

According to British election rolls, Abedi was listed as living at the modest red brick semi-detached house in Fallowfield where police performed the controlled explosion.

Theo Brown, who lives near the Fallowfield address, told CBS News he heard a loud explosion and then saw about 50 law enforcement officers in the street.

The bomb wielded by Abedi was designed to kill and maim as many people as possible; many of the survivors suffered shrapnel wounds and ball bearings were found at the scene.

There was security at the concert, but the bomber apparently didn’t try to get into the venue, instead blowing himself up in an entrance foyer area as concert-goers flooded out of the arena. Prime Minister May said the attacker had deliberately chosen “his time and place to cause maximum carnage” in the young crowd.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/ariana-grande-concert-manchester-arena-bombing-suspect-salman-abedi-isis-claim/

‘He was chanting Islamic prayers loudly in the street’: Neighbours of British-born suicide bomber – a keen Manchester United fan and son of airport security worker – tell of his ‘strange behaviour’ in the weeks before deadly attack

  • Manchester Arena concert suicide bomber has been named as Salman Abedi 
  • Terrorist was killed in the blast as he murdered 22 after Ariana Grande concert
  • Raids on address believed to be Abedi’s, where controlled explosion took place, and his brother Ismail’s address, where police arrested a 23-year-old man
  • Neighbours described Abedi as an abrasive, tall, skinny young man who was little known in the neighbourhood, and often seen in traditional Islamic clothing 
  • ISIS claimed today that one of its fanatics was responsible for the massacre
  • The ranting message threatened further attacks on ‘worshippers of the Cross’ 

The imam of the Mosque attended by Manchester Salman Abedi has revealed the suicide bomber looked at him ‘with hate’ when he gave a sermon criticising ISIS.

It comes as neighbours of the British-born Manchester United fan described his ‘strange behaviour’ in the weeks before he slaughtered 22 people.

The 22-year-old attacker, described as an abrasive, tall, skinny young man who was often seen in traditional Islamic clothing, was heard ‘chanting prayers loudly in the street’ outside his home in the south of the city.

Abedi is the third of four children by Libyan refugees who came to the UK to escape the Gaddafi regime.  They are believed to have lived in the Fallowfield area of south Manchester for at least ten years.

Last night, Abedi murdered and maimed concert goers as they left Manchester Arena after an Ariana Grande concert.

Armed police prepare to raid ‘home of Manchester suicide bomber’

This is the moment anti-terror police swooped to arrest a man over last night’s ISIS suicide bomb atrocity at Manchester Arena

Neighbours of British-born Manchester suicide bomber Salman Abedi have revealed his 'strange behaviour' in the weeks before he slaughtered 22 people

Neighbours of British-born Manchester suicide bomber Salman Abedi have revealed his ‘strange behaviour’ in the weeks before he slaughtered 22 people

A forensic investigator emerged from the house carrying a booklet called 'Know Your Chemicals'

A forensic investigator emerged from the house carrying a booklet called ‘Know Your Chemicals’

Mohammed Saeed, the imam of Didsbury Mosque and Islamic Centre (pictured), said Abedi had looked at him 'with hate' after he gave a sermon criticising ISIS

Mohammed Saeed, the imam of Didsbury Mosque and Islamic Centre (pictured), said Abedi had looked at him ‘with hate’ after he gave a sermon criticising ISIS

ISIS this morning claimed responsibility and threatened further attacks, saying ‘one of the caliphate’s soldiers placed bombs within a gathering of the Crusaders’.

Mohammed Saeed, the imam of Didsbury Mosque and Islamic Centre, said Abedi had looked at him ‘with hate’ after he gave a sermon criticising ISIS and Ansar al-Sharia in Libya in 2015.

He said the vast majority of people at the mosque were with him but a few signed a petition against him, reports the Guardian.

Mr Saeed said: ‘Salman showed me a face of hate after that sermon. He was showing me hatred.’

Forensic officers raid ‘home of Manchester suicide bomber’

Police were seen clutching a 'know your chemicals' manual as they carried out a raid at the property

Police were seen clutching a ‘know your chemicals’ manual as they carried out a raid at the property

He added that a friend was so worried for his safety that he got his adult children to sit beside Amedi in case he attacked the imam.

Police are trying to determine whether Abedi, a former Burnage Boys Academy pupil who appears to have been radicalised within the last couple of years, acted alone or was part of a wider terror cell.

There were unconfirmed reports that the whole family, apart from the two elder sons, recently returned to their native Libya.

It comes as dramatic pictures emerged showing anti-terror police swooping to arrest a 23-year-old man in Manchester over last night’s atrocity.

Abedi grew up in the Whalley Range area of the city, just yards from the school which hit the headlines in 2015 when twins and aspiring medical students, Zahra and Salma Halane, fled their homes and moved to Syria.

He is registered as having lived with his mother Samia Tabbal, father Ramadan, a former airport security worker, and a brother, Ismail, who was born in Westminster in 1993.

Separate pictures show raids at what is believed to have been Abedi’s home in Fallowfield, where a controlled explosion took place, and his brother Ismail’s address, where a 23-year-old man was arrested.

One neighbour claimed they heard Abedi chanting Islamic prayers at the home just weeks before the concert hall atrocity.

Police are urgently trying to work out whether Salman Abedi, who killed 22 last night as thousands of young people were leaving an Ariana Grande concert, was acting alone or whether he was 'part of a network'

Police are urgently trying to work out whether Salman Abedi, who killed 22 last night as thousands of young people were leaving an Ariana Grande concert, was acting alone or whether he was ‘part of a network’

A father carries away his daughter away following the suspected terror attack at the Ariana Grande concert 

A father carries away his daughter away following the suspected terror attack at the Ariana Grande concert

This was the scene inside the Manchester Arena last night after the suspected terror attack at the teen concert

This was the scene inside the Manchester Arena last night after the suspected terror attack at the teen concert

A major police operation is underway this morning to determine whether the suicide attacker who detonated a nail bomb at Manchester Arena last night was part of a terror cell

A major police operation is underway this morning to determine whether the suicide attacker who detonated a nail bomb at Manchester Arena last night was part of a terror cell

Forensic officers were seen emerging from the property carrying a police-issue booklet called ‘Know Your Chemicals’.

Lina Ahmed, 21, told MailOnline: ‘They are a Libyan family and they have been acting strangely.

‘A couple of months ago he [Salman] was chanting the first kalma [Islamic prayer] really loudly in the street. He was chanting in Arabic.

‘He was saying ‘There is only one God and the prophet Mohammed is his messenger’.’

Abedi’s former school friend Leon Hall told MailOnline he saw the killer last year and said he had grown a beard.

He also said the jihadist was a keen Manchester United fan.

Hall, 26, and Abedi lived close to each other in a row of run down terraced houses in the Moss Side area of Manchester.

They later ended up living next door to each other in a nearby street and went to the same school.

Hall said: ‘I saw him last year and he had a beard thing going on. We didn’t speak but just nodded to each other. I don’t remember seeing him with beard before.’

Hall said they grew up playing together on the street around their home.

‘He and I had a tussle many years ago when we were kids. It was over nothing, but he always had a bit of an attitude problem. I can’t say I really liked the man.’

A large police presence, including armed officers, was seen outside an address about a mile from the scene of the arrest

A large police presence, including armed officers, was seen outside an address about a mile from the scene of the arrest

Forensics wearing white suits were called to an address in Greater Manchester after a police operation

Forensics wearing white suits were called to an address in Greater Manchester after a police operation

Hall, who was sat outside his home with his sister, said Abedi was a Muslim.

Other family members at the house, who asked not to be named, confirmed that Abedi was a Muslim.

Hall said:’ I remember that he was a big Man Utd fan. I don’t think he went to the games but would follow them.’

Aerial shots showed police descending on a house in Fallowfield, Manchester as part of the investigation into the bombing massacre last night

Aerial shots showed police descending on a house in Fallowfield, Manchester as part of the investigation into the bombing massacre last night

Abedi, who lived in a housing association owned home about two miles from the scene of Monday night’s terror attack.

He later moved 400 yards away to another terraced home. The area is predominantly occupied by immigrants with many of the terraced homes housing newly arrived immigrants.

The current occupiers of the three-bedroom home where Abedi lived more than a decade ago said they had never met him or his family.

‘They were already gone when we moved in,’ said a woman clutching a small baby.

‘We do not know them and have never spoken to them.’

Abedi is understood to have attended Claremont Primary School a short distance from his home.

Officers are combing CCTV to determine whether the attacker carried out a ‘recce’ of the arena before detonating a nail bomb as thousands were leaving the concert.

The suicide attacker is said to have been ‘known’ to the authorities and anti-terrorist officers are going through hundreds of hours of CCTV footage trying to ‘pick him up’ during his journey to the arena.

Officers also believe that he will have carried out a ‘recce’ to the giant venue in recent days and a separate team are studying footage going back into the past week.

Footage shows officers arresting a 23-year-old man outside a Morrisons supermarket in Chorlton-Cum-Hardy, south Manchester this morning

Footage shows officers arresting a 23-year-old man outside a Morrisons supermarket in Chorlton-Cum-Hardy, south Manchester this morning

Police probing last night's terror attack said a 23-year-old man has been arrested outside a supermarket in south Manchester in connection with the arena massacre

Police probing last night’s terror attack said a 23-year-old man has been arrested outside a supermarket in south Manchester in connection with the arena massacre

Non-uniform anti-terror officers wearing masks to conceal their faces were seen emerging from a Black Mercedes before arresting a man outside a Morrison's in Chorlton

Non-uniform anti-terror officers wearing masks to conceal their faces were seen emerging from a Black Mercedes before arresting a man outside a Morrison’s in Chorlton

Forensic and bomb squad officers are studying the remains of the device recovered so far but initial indications are that the bombmaker had used a ‘level of sophistication’ suggesting he had received training and not made it from ‘a terror recipe’ on the Internet.

One security source told MailOnline: ‘It is unlikely that if the device was sophisticated that the suicide bomber made it – experience shows that organisations are reluctant to ‘waste’ the expertise of a bombmaker in an attack, preferring to keep him or her for another attack.

ISIS WARNS OF MORE ATTACKS

ISIS this morning claimed responsibility for the atrocity in a ranting statement that threatened further attacks on ‘worshippers of the Cross.

‘With Allah’s grace and support, a soldier of the Khilafah managed to place explosive devices in the midst of the gatherings of the Crusaders in the British city of Manchester,’ the statement said.

It added that the massacre was ‘revenge for Allah’s religion… in response to their transgressions against the lands of the Muslims.

‘The explosive devices were detonated in the shameless concert arena.

‘What comes next will be more severe on the worshipers of the Cross and their allies.’

‘It is therefore highly likely that this terrorist is part of a cell or had a support network and they are the priority.

‘Are there other devices, other terrorists out there and you can expect to see raids carried out in the next 48 hours linked to this.’

Detectives are also studying the bomber’s links to Syria or other jihadi hotbeds amid intelligence that he may have travelled abroad to the region.

At least 16 convicted or dead jihadi terrorists are known to have come from a small area of Manchester and several surveillance operations on suspects from the region have been on-going.

Possible links to ISIS-inspired cells involved in the Belgium, Paris and Stockholm attacks are also being examined.

Less than 24 hours after the atrocity ISIS claimed responsibility for the murders.

The extremists were quick to call the killer one of their soldiers, as has become the trend in the wake of many recent attacks in Europe.

According to the SITE Intel Group, which monitors jihadist groups, the ISIS statement described the explosion as having taken place at a ‘shameless concert arena’.

Casualties are stretchered out of the concert on Monday evening after a terror attack in the Ariana Grande concert

Casualties are stretchered out of the concert on Monday evening after a terror attack in the Ariana Grande concert

Police confirm 22 people are now confirmed dead after Manchester attack

They appeared to wrongly state that a number of explosive devices had been detonated, when police have said the attacker was carrying one bomb.

Part of the investigation into what happened is probing whether the killer was acting alone or as part of a network. ISIS has previously encouraged lone wolf attacks against Westerners.

Monday night’s carnage came as a result of a method described by some terror experts as more ‘sophisticated’ than other recent attacks in Europe.

The apparent suicide bombing tactic is markedly different from lone wolf Khalid Masood’s car and knife rampage in Westminster earlier this year.

Theresa May this morning said that police believe they know the identity of the attacker.

Children were among the 22 people killed as the explosion tore through fans leaving the pop concert at about 10.30pm last night.

Some 119 people were also injured in the blast caused by an improvised explosive device carried by the attacker, who was also killed.

Experts say the bomber employed a ‘sophisticated’ method of attack using a a device packed with nuts and bolts, so-called ‘dockyard confetti’, to cause maximum damage.

Former police officer and counter-terrorism expert Chris Phillips described the latest attack to hit the UK as ‘a step up’.

This distressing picture purportedly shows the inside of the arena after the suicide attack at the Ariana Grande concert - its veracity has been confirmed by the two witnesses

This distressing picture purportedly shows the inside of the arena after the suicide attack at the Ariana Grande concert – its veracity has been confirmed by the two witnesses

The identity of the attacker, who was also killed, is not yet known and the deadly blast is being treated as an act of terrorism

The identity of the attacker, who was also killed, is not yet known and the deadly blast is being treated as an act of terrorism

Eight-year-old Saffie Rose Roussos, from Preston, was killed when a suicide bomber let off a nail bomb at a packed pop concert last night

Another victim of the terror attack has been named locally as 18-year-old Georgina Callander. It is feared many children are among those killed, as well as parents who had accompanied their youngsters to the concert or were picking them up

Eight-year-old Saffie Rose Roussos (left), from Preston, and 18-year-old Georgina Callander (right) have been named as victims. It is feared many children are among those killed, as well as parents who had accompanied their youngsters to the concert or were picking them up

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I think the point is that this was obviously a planned attack and that will involve people looking at the venue and seeing how the venue operates.

‘And also the fact that it sounds like this was a strapped on suicide belt and also from what we just heard, perhaps, with what we call dockyard confetti which is the little bits of nuts and bolts that are attached to the vest.

‘And those unfortunately are there deliberately to kill people and that’s the whole purpose of them. This does look like a step up and my worry, and I think the police’s worry now, is that this person probably wasn’t acting alone and there are other people that to be captured.’

Britain’s terrorist threat level stands at ‘severe,’ the second-highest rung on a five-point scale, meaning an attack is highly likely. Counter-terrorism police have said they are making on average an arrest every day in connection with suspected terrorism.

For the second time in two months, police and security services are embarking on a major terror investigation.

A Twitter account - which was unverified - posted this hours before the attack, warning of a terror attack 
The Twitter account also posted this picture of the ISIS flag with the hashtag 'Manchester Arena' 

A Twitter account – which was unverified – posted this four hours before the attack

Several ISIS-friendly accounts posted the hashtag #ManchesteArena and #ArianaGrande

Several ISIS-friendly accounts posted the hashtag #ManchesteArena and #ArianaGrande

None of the ISIS fan pages have claimed responsibility for last night's terror attack 

None of the ISIS fan pages have claimed responsibility for last night’s terror attack

The bomber is believed to have entered a foyer area of the venue through doors opened to allow young music fans to leave

The bomber is believed to have entered a foyer area of the venue through doors opened to allow young music fans to leave

As with the Westminster atrocity in March, in which five were killed, the most pressing question is whether the individual behind the Manchester blast was a so-called ‘lone wolf’ or part of a wider terror cell.

The working theory is that the perpetrator triggered the blast alone but the national police counter-terror network, assisted by MI5, are urgently piecing together his background to see whether he had any help in planning the outrage.

They will be looking to build a picture of the attacker’s movements both in recent weeks and months as well as immediately before the strike.

Another priority will be to establish whether any further linked attacks or copycat incidents are planned.

It is likely that the bomber’s communications will form a significant part of the inquiry, while investigators will also be checking if he was known to authorities in any way.

One area of focus will be examining the remnants of the device used in the attack as officers work to establish whether the perpetrator built it himself or had help.

As well as seeking to identify any potential accomplices in Britain, authorities will also be looking into the possibility of any link to international groups.

HOW BRITAIN HAS SUFFERED AT THE HANDS OF EXTREMISTS

After Britain as struck by terror again, here are some of the terrible events suffered by the country at the hands of extremists in recent years:

May 22, 2017: Twenty-two people – including children – are killed and around 59 injured during a terrorist bombing at a pop concert in Manchester.

It is thought a lone suicide bomber detonated an improvised explosive device as crowds of music fans, many of them youngsters, left the Manchester Arena following a performance by US artist Ariana Grande.

Concert-goers and witnesses have described the chaos after 'huge bomb-like bangs' went off in Manchester Arena following an Ariana Grande gig

Concert-goers and witnesses have described the chaos after ‘huge bomb-like bangs’ went off in Manchester Arena following an Ariana Grande gig

March 22, 2017: Five people are killed when an Islamist extremist launched a car and knife attack in central London.

Khalid Masood drove a hired car over Westminster Bridge, near the Houses of Parliament, mounted the pavement and hit pedestrians before crashing into railings outside the Palace of Westminster.

He stabbed Pc Keith Palmer, 48, to death and also killed US tourist Kurt Cochran, Romanian tourist Andreea Cristea, 31, plus Britons Aysha Frade, 44, and 75-year-old Leslie Rhodes. Masood was shot dead by police.

June 16, 2016: Labour MP Jo Cox is murdered outside her constituency office in Batley, West Yorkshire.

The mother-of-two, 41, was shot and stabbed multiple times by right-wing extremist Thomas Mair. He was later handed a whole-life prison sentence for her murder.

Fusilier Lee Rigby was murdered by Islamic extremists Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale

Fusilier Lee Rigby was murdered by Islamic extremists Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale

December 5, 2015: A lone attacker attempts to behead a passenger during an ISIS-inspired rampage in the ticket hall of Leytonstone Underground station in east London.

Somali-born Muhiddin Mire targeted strangers at random during the attack on December 5 2015 before slashing fellow passenger Lyle Zimmerman, 56, with a knife.

The schizophrenic was sent to Broadmoor Hospital after being given a life sentence with a minimum term of eight years for attempted murder.

May 22, 2013: Fusilier Lee Rigby is murdered by Islamic extremists Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale.

The 25-year-old serviceman was walking near his barracks in Woolwich, south-eastLondon, when the pair rammed him with his car before attempting to hack off his head with knives.

The killers were jailed for life at the Old Bailey in February 2014.

June 30, 2007: Two men inspired by Islamist extremism ram a 4×4 laden with petrol and propane tanks into the main terminal of Glasgow Airport. One of the attackers died in the incident and five people were injured.

July 7, 2005: Four suicide bombers kill 52 and injure hundreds of others in blasts on the London Underground network and a bus.

Twenty-six died in the bombing at Russell Square on the Piccadilly line, six in the bombing at Edgware Road on the Circle line, seven in the bombing at Aldgate on the Circle line, and 13 in the bombing on a bus at Tavistock Square.

In the first hours after an attack on this scale investigators will be sifting through a number of theories as they work to settle on the most likely lines of inquiry.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Supporters of the ISIS, which holds territory in Iraq’s Mosul and around its de facto capital in the Syrian city of Raqqa, celebrated the blast online.

One wrote: ‘May they taste what the weak people in Mosul and (Raqqa) experience from their being bombed and burned,’ according to the U.S.-based SITE Intelligence Group.

Focus will now turn on why Manchester was selected as a target.

It comes two months after a 35-year-old man and a 32-year-old woman were arrested at an address in West Didsbury, Manchester on suspicion of preparation of terrorist acts.

The raids were linked to the Westminster attack that month in which Khalid Masood killed five and injured more than 50 by driving through crowds of tourists.

Earlier this year, Manchester-born jihadi Jamal Al-Harith was killed carrying out an ISIS suicide car bomb attack in Iraq.

Shortly after detonating the explosive-laden car near an army base, ISIS released a statement revealing al-Harith had been fighting for them under the name Abu Zakariya al-Britani.

Leaked ISIS documents later claimed he was recommended to the terror group by Raphael Hostey, a 24-year-old jihadi based in the northern city.

This graphic shows where the explosion took place, in the foyer area, leading towards Victoria railway station 

This graphic shows where the explosion took place, in the foyer area, leading towards Victoria railway station

Hostey is thought to have encouraged dozens of British Muslims to travel to Syria – including close friends Mohammad Azzam Javeed and Anil Khalil Raoufi – before being killed in a drone strike last May.

Last year, two British brothers from Manchester were killed fighting for ISIS in Syria.

Khalif Shariff, 21, and 18-year-old Abdulrahman are understood to have left their home in the city and travelled to the war-torn country in November 2014.

In 2015, Pakistani student Abid Naseer was convicted in a U.S. court of conspiring with al Qaeda to blow up the Arndale shopping centre in the centre of Manchester in April 2009.

In September, a Manchester florist was stunned after his image was used in an ISIS magazine.

Stephen Leyland, 64, was interviewed by counter-terrorism police after a photograph of him standing next to flowers was used in the Rumiyah publication.

The ranting 38-page magazine was one of many pieces of propaganda aimed at encouraging violence in the West.

It called for attacks on Britons and urged supporters of the terror group to take ‘even the blood of a merry Crusader citizen selling flowers to passersby’.

Two months later, fanatics urged lone-wolf attackers to ‘open the door to jihad’ in a video showing how to make a bomb and decapitate people.

Greater Manchester Police chief constable Ian Hopkins revealed the suicide bomber 'was carrying an improvised explosive device'

Greater Manchester Police chief constable Ian Hopkins revealed the suicide bomber ‘was carrying an improvised explosive device’

Forensics have been called in to examine the scene as police attempt to identify the attacker

Forensics have been called in to examine the scene as police attempt to identify the attacker

The instructional video, called ‘Explanation of How to Slaughter Disbelievers’, featured a balaclava-wearing terrorist in a kitchen explaining how to make bombs.

According to the terror monitoring group SITE, the bomb expert took viewers on a step-by-step guide on how to make deadly explosives.

Approximately 850 people from the UK have travelled to support or fight for jihadist organisations in Syria and Iraq, according to British authorities.

About half have since returned to the UK, with more than 100 people having been convicted foroffences relating to the conflict.

Former global terrorism operations director at MI6, Richard Barrett, said, while the attack was more sophisticated than recent ones, it does not automatically mean the person responsible was trained abroad to carry out the massacre.

He told Today: ‘I think people can build bombs, we have seen that in the past that it may be not that complicated to build a bomb which has an effect on the people immediately around you as this one certainly did.

‘Yeah, sure that’s a bit more sophisticated clearly than driving a car into people or stabbing them with a knife but I’m not sure that it requires somebody to go to Syria for example, to have training there to get that sort of expertise so I’m sure the police will be very interested indeed to look at whoever is responsible, what he has been doing over the last months.’

Witnesses reported hearing a 'huge bang' at the venue shortly after US singer Ariana Grande's gig finished

Witnesses reported hearing a ‘huge bang’ at the venue shortly after US singer Ariana Grande’s gig finished

A child was spotted clutching a balloon while wrapped in a foil wrap following the terror attack at the Manchester Arena

A child was spotted clutching a balloon while wrapped in a foil wrap following the terror attack at the Manchester Arena

Concert-goers helped injured people away from the gig last night. Witnesses describe the scene as 'like a warzone'

Concert-goers helped injured people away from the gig last night. Witnesses describe the scene as ‘like a warzone’

This photo shows the aftermath of the suicide bomb which ripped through the foyer of the venue killing parents and children

This photo shows the aftermath of the suicide bomb which ripped through the foyer of the venue killing parents and children

He said the security services face a ‘real challenge’ in monitoring potential threats and said investigations must involve ‘engagement’ with communities.

He said: ‘I think in terms of additional security it’s much more on that intelligence side, on engagement with the community, on trying to understand better why people do this sort of thing than it is on putting up more bollards or, as you say, moving the choke point of security just a bit further away.’

He described the attack, targeted at concert-goers including children, as ‘very, very cynical’.

He added: ‘That is why it is so important to understand, I think, whether this person was connected with other people, whether it was in some way directed by an organised group.

‘What was the intention behind it, in the broader strategic sense?’

The Manchester attack was the deadliest in Britain since four suicide bombers killed 52 London commuters on three subway trains and a bus in July 2005.

Pop concerts and nightclubs have been a terrorism target before. Almost 90 people were killed by gunmen inspired by ISIS at the Bataclan concert hall in Paris during a performance by Eagles of Death Metal in November 2015.

In Turkey, 39 people died when a gunman attacked New Year’s revelers at the Reina nightclub in Istanbul.

Manchester was hit by a huge Irish Republican Army bomb in 1996 that leveled a swath of the city center. More than 200 people were injured, though no one was killed.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4534224/Security-agents-know-Ariana-Grande-concert-bomber-s-name.html#ixzz4hwHwxSJE

Story 2: Budget Director Mulvaney Presents President Trump’s Fiscal Year 2018 U.S. Federal Budget —  Taxpayers First Budget — Videos

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Mulvaney: Trump’s Budget Puts Taxpayers First

Mulvaney Explains Trump Budget—Cuts For Poor, More For Military – Full Event

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BREAKING Trump Just Cut Off Food Stamps For 2 MASSIVE Groups…Americans Are CHEERING! – News

Chuck Todd DESTROYS OMB DIR. MICK MULVANEY FOR TRUMP’S UNBALANCED BUDGET

Heritage Experts Analyze Trump’s Budget

May 23rd, 2017

Today, the Trump administration officially unveiled their first complete budget proposal called “A New Foundation for American Greatness.” Below is reaction from Heritage experts on the president’s plans:

Balancing the Budget

The president’s budget seeks to balance in no more than 10 years. This is a laudable and important goal that fiscal conservatives should keep their eye on. The budget does this in part with sensible mandatory spending reforms to Medicaid, welfare and disability programs. This budget proposal also follows the right approach on discretionary spending, by prioritizing national defense in a fiscally responsible way, with offsetting cuts to domestic programs that are redundant, improper, or otherwise wasteful. As is so often the case, however, the devil is in the details. Long-term budget solvency must include reforms to the largest entitlement programs: Medicare and Social Security. These programs alone consume 4 of every 10 federal dollars, and they are expanding. Moreover, this budget would rely on $2 trillion in economic feedback effects for deficit reduction, a figure that is highly uncertain. Greater spending cuts would have lent more fiscal credibility. Overall, this budget takes important strides toward cutting the federal government down to size.” —Romina Boccia, Deputy Director of the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies and the Grover M. Hermann fellow in federal budgetary affairs

Defense

“Though the White House is right to call for more, much-needed defense funding, $603 billion represents only a $16.8-billion increase from the Obama administration’s meager planned defense spending for 2018. A $603 billion budget for 2018 might be enough to stop the immediate deterioration and cuts in forces, but it will certainly not be enough to reverse the ravages already experienced. Perhaps the most heartening thing about this request is the administration’s follow-through on its expressed intent to repeal the defense budget caps set by the Budget Control Act of 2011, which have been both disruptive and destructive to military readiness.

The U.S. military—in both size and readiness—has shrunk to historically low levels, all while its budget has been held hostage to domestic policy whims.  Naysayers downplay the poor state of the military. But those who deny the existence of readiness problems are contradicted by the repeated testimony of dozens of senior uniformed and civilian military leaders. Those leaders uniformly agree that today’s military is desperately overtaxed and under-resourced. As the Heritage Foundation’s Index of U.S. Military Strength reports, today our armed forces would be severely challenged to execute our defense strategy with the current force.

The Heritage Foundation has proposed a 2018 funding level of $632 billion. It includes proposals for defense reform and savings to help restore our military’s strength and punch. Lawmakers finally need to demonstrate that they take the duty to provide for the common defense quite seriously. Lip service is not enough. We must begin to provide our men and women in uniform the equipment and resources they need to defend our country. Congress must hear and heed the Pentagon’s candid voice in the upcoming budget debates. And lawmakers must then act to begin rebuilding our depleted military now.” —Thomas Spoehr, Director of Heritage’s Center for National Defense

Transportation and Infrastructure

“The administration’s budget contains a number of laudable transportation and infrastructure proposals that reform wasteful or improper programs while empowering states and the private sector to meet the nation’s burgeoning transportation needs. Many of the reforms were recommended by the Heritage Foundation in its roadmap for $1.1 trillion in infrastructure investment and Blueprint for Balance, including: structural reform of our outdated Air Traffic Control system; reforming the wasteful Essential Air Service program; and auctioning off valuable spectrum for private use. Also encouraging is the proposal to reform the financing of the nation’s inland waterways infrastructure, which has long required modernization.

“However, many questions about the Administration’s signature infrastructure proposal remain. Worrisomely, the budget includes an additional $200 billion in spending as a placeholder for ‘private/public infrastructure investment’ with few details as to how the funds will be allocated. Details regarding the plan and whether they will be offset with meaningful cuts elsewhere will be crucial in evaluating the plan and ensuring a repeat of the 2009 stimulus boondoggle is avoided. In addition, the Budget includes a proposal to assume Highway Trust Fund spending levels fall to revenue levels—a savings of $15 billion to $20 billion per year. While limiting trust fund spending to revenues would be excellent policy, it is highly unlikely Congress will decide to rein in its overspending out of the Highway Trust Fund, which it has carried on for nearly 10 years. Simply assuming these savings will accrue without putting forward a substantive proposal to ensure that Congress stops its mismanagement of the trust fund would represent a nearly $100 billion budget gimmick and cannot be considered to have a real budgetary impact.

“While the Budget contains many worthwhile reforms, more details regarding the administration’s infrastructure proposal are required in order to form a comprehensive evaluation of the administration’s infrastructure agenda.” —Michael Sargent, Policy Analyst in Heritage’s Institute for Economic Freedom and Opportunity

Education

“The Trump administration’s full budget for education for FY 2018 would make some long-overdue cuts at the Department of Education, eyeing reductions in spending totaling $9.2 billion – a 13.6 percent cut in the agency’s current $68 billion annual budget. That type of reduction signals a serious commitment to reducing federal intervention in education – a necessary condition to make space for a restoration of state and local control.” —Lindsey Burke, Director of Heritage’s Center for Education Policy

Healthcare

“If enacted, the President’s budget would be a major down payment on federal entitlement reform. It cannot be overemphasized that analysts and economists, often of very different political persuasions, are united in their conviction that policymakers must take decisive steps to slow the growth of federal entitlement spending. By putting Medicaid on a budget—either through a fixed allotment to the states in the form of a block grant or a per capita cap—the Trump budget would give state officials much needed flexibility in managing the program and better target services to the poorest and most vulnerable of our citizens.” —Robert Moffit, Senior Fellow in Heritage’s Center for Health Policy Studies.

Tax Reform

“A month ago President Trump proposed a true tax cut for the American people. The President’s Budget assumes economic growth will make up the lost revenue, after including revenue reductions from Obamacare repeal. The budget proposal does not spell out exactly how the new tax code would accomplish this. The feasibility of the assumed three percent annual growth rate is highly dependent on the ultimate design of tax, regulatory, and other reforms – but we should continue to be optimistic that the economy is indeed able to sustain such growth. Regardless, updating the tax code while lowering tax rates for all Americans does not need to rely so heavily on economic growth. In combination with spending cuts, President Trump and Congress can provide tax and spending relief for the American people.” —Adam Michel, Policy Analyst in Heritage’s Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies

Border Security 

“Given the intentional neglect towards border security that was a hallmark of the Obama administration, this additional funding that will improve physical security, as well as increase the technology, agents, officers, and equipment needed to actually enforce our immigration laws and secure the border, should be rapidly approved by Congress.”  —Hans von Spakovsky, Senior Legal Fellow in Heritage’s Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies

GDP Projections

“The president’s budget includes very optimistic economic growth projections, which are a key ingredient in getting the debt under control and reaching budget balance by 2027. The growth projections have two flaws and one strength.

“The first flaw is that the Congressional Budget Office’s baseline—the rate of growth expected with no change to policy—is probably too optimistic to begin with. CBO has been forced to lower its future growth forecast every year since 2009. The second flaw is that the plan expects the president’s policies to sustain growth rates at the outer limit of pro-market optimism despite unfavorable demographics.

“The president’s economic projections do have a major data point in their favor: they represent a return toward the long-run trend in per capita GDP. That deviation from trend is partly to blame on the stultifying economic policies of the previous decade. Removing those constraints will be the first step in restoring the income growth to which Americans are long accustomed. With the right policies, 3 percent real GDP growth could be within the realm of the feasible. It would certainly be desirable.

“A restoration of growth will not, however, follow automatically from enacting the president’s agenda. A lot of other things have to go right as well as policy. So the president’s plan to eliminate the deficit and control the debt should not depend so much on things outside his control. Limiting the growth of entitlement spending would be a more certain path to balance than relying on historical forces.” —Salim Furth, Research Fellow in macroeconomics in Heritage’s Center for Data Analysis

http://www.heritage.org/budget-and-spending/commentary/heritage-experts-analyze-trumps-budget

Trump 2018 Budget Puts Tax Reform In Jeopardy

Federal taxes, spending, deficits, debt and politics.

The Trump fiscal 2018 budget that was released last night was a huge missed opportunity by the administration to switch from campaigning to governing. The Trump budget has next-to-no chance of being adopted or implemented by Congress, makes a government shutdown this fall far more likely and puts tax reform in serious jeopardy.

The Trump 2018 budget clearly is designed to appeal to no one but the Trump base. Not only does it make no effort to broaden interest in and support for the president’s program, but the budget’s extremely harsh spending cuts are almost certain to make opposition from both Democrats and moderate Republicans much, much easier.

This enhanced, enthusiastic and self-assured Democratic and Republican resistance to the Trump budget will greatly complicate congressional efforts to pass a fiscal 2018 budget resolution that were problematic even before the president submitted his plan.

Yes, the Trump budget will appeal to the House Freedom Caucus. Indeed, rather than having the work done in house, the White House seems to have outsourced its budget to the HFC and it’s budget philosophy.

But the HFC-preferred spending proposals that on the surface so appeal to the Trump base (let’s see how these voters feel when they realize how many of these cuts will affect them personally) will be eagerly opposed en masse by House Democrats. That will once again put GOP moderates — who after repeal and replace, the Comey firing and the president’s dwindling approval numbers are increasingly nervous about their reelection — in the position to determine whether the House can pass a budget resolution.

But if the Trump budget is any indication, it’s not clear that the White House or HFC will be willing to deal to comply with what the moderates will want.

Even if the House did manage to adopt a budget resolution with the extreme proposals in the Trump budget, that is almost certain to be opposed by enough Senate Republicans and all Senate Democrats to make passage in that house impossible. The Senate leadership then would have to choose between no budget resolution this year or developing a more restrained budget that its members could support.

No budget resolution would be a huge problem because it would prevent the use of the no filibuster reconciliation rules for tax reform (Reconciliation can only happen if a Congress adopts a budget resolution with reconciliation instructions). That may make a much more moderate budget resolution with far fewer (as in almost none) spending cuts the only way to move tax reform forward.

But that type of budget resolution would be a total repudiation of the Trump 2018 budget and yet another huge defeat for the White House. Although he won’t be able to veto the budget resolution to stop the legislative rout, Trump could retaliate by vetoing any fiscal 2018 appropriations that reflect Congress’s rejection of his spending priorities. Given that there’s not likely to be enough votes to override those vetoes, one, several or all federal agencies and departments could be forced to shut down this fall.

This situation would have been completely different had Trump chosen to govern rather than campaign and submitted a 2018 budget that reflected political realities instead of political arrogance. Had that happened, the budget would have been hailed as the start of a cooperative effort between the White House and Congress that showed Trump as a political and legislative force.

Instead, by the end of this week, the Trump 2018 budget is very likely to be nothing more than a political artifact that will have accomplished nothing.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/stancollender/2017/05/23/trump-2018-budget-puts-tax-reform-in-jeopardy/#5c49685e4e29

Story 3: Where is The Evidence of Collusion, Conspiracy, or Coordination Between Russians and Trump Campaign? and Where is The Evidence of Collusion, Conspiracy, or Coordination Between Foreign Governments and Clinton Campaign and Clinton Foundation? — Videos

Trey Gowdy Questions Former CIA Director John Brennan!

EVERY Trey Gowdy Question To John Brennan During Russia Interference Hearing 5/23/17

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FOX’s James Rosen: FBI Sources Confirm ‘Public Corruption Case’ Against Clinton Foundation

Fox: FBI “Actively And Aggressively” Probing Clinton Foundation Corruption, “A Lot” Of Evidence

Woodward On Clinton Foundation “It’s Corrupt”

Clinton Foundation Scandal – Hillary Clinton Public Corruption – Andrew Napolitano – Stuart Varney

Published on Aug 10, 2016

Clinton Foundation Scandal – Hillary Clinton Public Corruption – Judge Andrew Napolitano – Stuart Varney

Foreign Donors Buying Political Influence Through The Clinton Global Initiative?

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The Pronk Pops Show 895, June 17, 2017, Breaking: Story 1: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein Appoints Former FBI Director Robert Mueller Special Counsel To Investigate Russia’s Influence in U.S. Presidential 2016 Election — Videos — Story 2: The President of United States Is The FBI Director’s Boss — Absolutely No Obstruction of Justice — Former FBI Director Went Along With President Obama and Let Hillary Clinton Off — A Real Case of Obstruction of Justice By Obama and Comey — Prosecute Clinton, Obama, and Comey — Videos — Story 3: President Trump Goes On Offense — “But you have to put your head down and fight, fight, fight. Never, ever, ever give up. Things will work out just fine.” — Videos —

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Pronk Pops Show 846: February 24, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 844: February 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 843: February 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 842: February 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 841: February 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 840: February 16, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 839: February 15, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 838: February 14, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 837: February 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 836: February 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 835: February 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 834: February 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 833: February 7, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 832: February 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 831: February 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 830: February 2, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 829: February 1, 2017

 

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Breaking: Story 1: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein Appoints Former FBI Director Robert Mueller  Special Counsel To Investigate Russia’s Influence in U.S. Presidential 2016 Election — Videos — 

 

Robert Mueller named special counsel for FBI Russia probe– 

FBI Director Meuller to lead Trump-Russia probe

Robert Mueller Former FBI Director Named Special Counsel for Russia Investigation

FBI Director Mueller Reflects on His 12-Year Term

Published on Aug 30, 2013

On the eve of his departure from the FBI after 12 years as Director, Robert S. Mueller reflects on the important role of the Bureau’s personnel and partners in the FBI mission.

Leadership in Context: Transforming the FBI in an Uncertain World

Uploaded on Oct 13, 2009

FBI Director Robert Mueller assumed his role on September 4, 2001, only a week before the 9/11 attack. In his talk, he discussed efforts to radically change the focus and mindset at the FBI following the attacks, shifting from a reactive stance to one that prevents such events from occurring in the future. He discussed the shift in priorities immediately following 9/11, as well as leadership efforts in the years since to solidify and improve upon those initial changes. He talks about the challenges of running a large government agency, and some leadership lessons he has found to be useful for those managing in any large organization. The event was sponsored by the Stanford Law School. (Recorded: October 8, 2009)

 

Robert Mueller appointed special counsel

Last Updated May 17, 2017 6:10 PM EDT

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller to serve as special counsel to oversee the previously confirmed investigation of Russian efforts to influential the 2016 Presidential election and related matters.

“I have determined that a Special Counsel is necessary in order for the American people to have full confidence in the outcome,” Rosenstein said in a statement.

The appointment comes as numerous Democratic lawmakers have called for a special counsel, colloquially known as a special prosecutor. Such calls increased in recent days after Mr. Trump fired FBI Director James Comey. On Tuesday, it was revealed the Comey had written a memo alleging that Mr. Trump had asked him to back off from investigation former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

Rosenstein’s letter announcing the appointment of Mueller says, “If the Special Counsel believes it is necessary and appropriate, the special counsel is authorized to prosecute federal crimes arising from the investigation of these matters.”

Mueller was appointed FBI director in 2001 and served in the position until 2013. FBI directors are appointed to ten-year terms, but President Barack Obama added two years to his tenure.

A career prosecutor and veteran of the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War, Mueller is a widely respected figure in Washington.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/doj-appoints-special-counsel-in-wake-of-comey-developments/

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department has appointed Robert S. Mueller III, the former F.B.I. director, to serve as a special counsel to oversee its investigation into Russian meddling in the election, Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein announced on Wednesday.

The appointment of Mr. Mueller dramatically raises the stakes for President Trump in the multiple investigations into his campaign’s ties to the Russians. It follows a swiftly moving series of developments that have roiled Washington, including Mr. Trump’s abrupt dismissal of the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, and the disclosure that the president urged Mr. Comey to drop the bureau’s investigation into his former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn.

Graphic: Why It’s So Hard to Have an Independent Russia Investigation

“I determined that it is in the public interest for me to exercise my authorities and appoint a special counsel to assume responsibility for this matter,” Mr. Rosenstein said in a statement. “My decision is not a finding that crimes have been committed or that any prosecution is warranted. I have made no such determination.”

While a special counsel would remain ultimately answerable to Mr. Rosenstein — and by extension, the president — he would have greater autonomy to run an investigation than a United States attorney.

Mr. Mueller is expected to announce his resignation from the law firm WilmerHale.

Robert Mueller

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Robert Mueller
Director Robert S. Mueller- III.jpg
6th Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation
In office
September 4, 2001 – September 4, 2013
President George W. Bush
Barack Obama
Deputy Bruce Gebhardt
John Pistole
Timothy Murphy
Sean Joyce
Preceded by Thomas Pickard (Acting)
Succeeded by James Comey
United States Deputy Attorney General
Acting
In office
January 20, 2001 – May 10, 2001
President George W. Bush
Preceded by Eric Holder
Succeeded by Larry Thompson
United States Attorney for the Northern District of California
In office
1998–2001
President Bill Clinton
George W. Bush
Preceded by Michael Yamaguchi
Succeeded by Kevin Ryan
United States Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division
In office
1990–1993
President George H.W. Bush
Bill Clinton
Preceded by Edward Dennis
Succeeded by Jo Ann Harris
United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts
Acting
In office
1986–1987
President Ronald Reagan
Preceded by William Weld
Succeeded by Frank L. McNamara
Personal details
Born Robert Swan Mueller III
August 7, 1944 (age 72)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Education Princeton University (BA)
New York University (MA)
University of Virginia (JD)
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Marine Corps
Unit 3RDMARDIV.png 3rd Marine Division
Battles/wars Vietnam War
Awards Bronze Star Medal ribbon.svg Bronze Star Medal
Purple Heart ribbon.svg Purple Heart
Vietnam gallantry cross-w-palm-3d.svg Gallantry Cross

Robert Swan Mueller III (born August 7, 1944) is an American lawyer who was the sixth Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for 12 years, between September 4, 2001 and September 4, 2013.

On May 17 2017, the US Department of Justice announced that Mueller would serve as special counsel to oversee investigation into allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 President Election and ties between President Trump’s campaign and Russia.

Early life and education

Mueller was born on August 7, 1944, in New York City, New York, the son of Alice C. (née Truesdale) and Robert Swan Mueller.[1] His maternal great-grandfather was railroad executive William Truesdale; his ancestry includes German, Scottish, and English.[2] Mueller grew up outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A 1962 graduate of St. Paul’s School, he went on to receive an A.B. from Princeton University in 1966, where he played lacrosse, an M.A. in international relations from New York University in 1967, and a Juris Doctor from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1973.

Military service

Mueller joined the United States Marine Corps, where he served as an officer for three years, leading a rifle platoon of the 3rd Marine Division during the Vietnam War. He is a recipient of the Bronze Star, two Navy Commendation Medals, the Purple Heart and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry.

Career

Following his military service, Mueller continued his studies at the University of Virginia Law School, eventually serving on the Law Review. After receiving his Juris Doctor degree, Mueller worked as a litigator in San Francisco until 1976.

He then served for 12 years in United States Attorney offices. He first worked in the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California in San Francisco, where he rose to be chief of the criminal division, and in 1982, he moved to Boston to work in the office of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts as Assistant United States Attorney, where he investigated and prosecuted major financial fraud, terrorism and public corruption cases, as well as narcotics conspiracies and international money launderers.

After serving as a partner at the Boston law firm of Hill and Barlow, Mueller returned to government service. In 1989, he served in the United States Department of Justice as an assistant to Attorney General Dick Thornburgh. The following year he took charge of its criminal division. During his tenure, he oversaw prosecutions that included Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega, the Pan Am Flight 103 (Lockerbie bombing) case, and the Gambino crime family boss John Gotti. In 1991, he was elected a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers.

In 1993, Mueller became a partner at Boston’s Hale and Dorr, specializing in white-collar crime litigation. He returned to public service in 1995 as senior litigator in the homicide section of the District of Columbia United States Attorney’s Office. In 1998, Mueller was named U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California and held that position until 2001.

Federal Bureau of Investigation

Official portrait, circa 2001

At the memorial event of Giovanni Falcone, Mueller told the audience of American and Italian law enforcement that the relationships forged years ago between the Italian National Police and the FBI “have borne tremendous fruit in this age of international crime and terrorism. Those friendships have set the standard for global cooperation among law enforcement”.

Mueller was nominated for the position of FBI Director on July 5, 2001.[3] He and two other candidates were up for the job at the time, but he was always considered the front runner.[4] Washington lawyer George J. Terwilliger III and veteran Chicago prosecutor and white-collar defense lawyer Dan Webb were up for the job but both pulled out from consideration around mid-June. Confirmation hearings for Mueller, in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, were quickly set for July 30, only three days before his prostate cancer surgery.[5][6] The vote on the Senate floor on August 2, 2001, passed unanimously, 98–0.[7] He served as Acting Deputy Attorney General of the United States Department of Justice for several months, before officially becoming the FBI Director on September 4, 2001, just one week before the September 11 attacks against the United States.

On May 12, 2011, it was reported that President Obama had asked Director Mueller to continue at the helm of the FBI for another 2 years beyond his normal term, expiring on September 4, 2013.[8] The Senate approved this request on July 27, 2011.[9] On September 4, 2013, Mueller was replaced by James Comey.[10]

Domestic wiretapping investigation

Director Mueller, along with Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey, offered to resign from office in March 2004 if the White House overruled a Department of Justice finding that domestic wiretapping without a court warrant was unconstitutional.[11] Attorney General John D. Ashcroft denied his consent to attempts by White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card and White House Counsel Alberto R. Gonzales to waive the Justice Department ruling and permit the domestic warrantless eavesdropping program to proceed. On March 12, 2004, President George W. Bush gave his support to changes in the program sufficient to satisfy the concerns of Mueller, Ashcroft and Comey.[11] The extent of the National Security Agency‘s domestic warrantless eavesdropping under the President’s Surveillance Program is still largely unknown.

Post-FBI Career

After leaving the FBI in 2013, Mueller became a visiting professor at Stanford University where his focus is on issues related to cyber-security.[12] In addition to his teaching position, Mueller also joined the law firm WilmerHale as a partner in their Washington, D.C. Office.[13]

On May 17, 2017, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Mueller as Special Counsel in connection with the FBI’s investigation of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US Presidential election.[14]

Bibliography

See also

References

  1. Jump up^ “Robert Swan Mueller III”. Chicago Sun-Times. July 30, 2001. Retrieved 2007-12-02.[dead link]
  2. Jump up^ “Ancestry of Robert Mueller”. Freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com. Retrieved 2013-03-05.
  3. Jump up^ “Remarks by the President in Nominating Robert S. Mueller as Director of the FBI”. The White House. 2001-07-05. Retrieved 2007-09-28.
  4. Jump up^ “Bush Names Mueller FBI Director”. United Press. 2001-06-06. Archived from the original on 2013-01-29. Retrieved 2006-06-10.
  5. Jump up^ “Senate hearing set July 30 for FBI choice Mueller”. CNN. 2001-06-18. Retrieved 2006-06-10.
  6. Jump up^ “FBI director-designate has prostate cancer”. CNN. 2001-06-13. Retrieved 2006-06-10.
  7. Jump up^ “Robert S. Mueller, III, to be Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation” (Plain Text). United States Senate. 2001-08-02. Retrieved 2006-06-10.
  8. Jump up^ “FBI Director to stay in post for another 2 years”. CNN. 2011-05-12. Retrieved 2011-05-12.
  9. Jump up^ “Senate Extends Term of F.B.I. Director”. New York Times. 2011-07-27. Retrieved 2011-09-13.
  10. Jump up^ “FBI — James B. Comey Sworn in as FBI Director”. FBI. Retrieved 14 June 2015.
  11. ^ Jump up to:a b Eggen, Dan; Kane, Paul (2007-05-16). “Gonzales Hospital Episode Detailed”. Washington Post. Retrieved 2007-09-28.
  12. Jump up^ Gorlick, Adam (2013-11-05). “Former FBI director to bolster security research at Stanford.” (Press release). Stanford, California: Stanford University. Retrieved 2016-04-22.
  13. Jump up^ “Former Director of the FBI Robert Mueller III Joins WilmerHale” (Press release). Wilmer Hale. 2014-03-24. Retrieved 2016-04-22.
  14. Jump up^ http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/17/politics/special-counsel-robert-mueller/index.html?sr=twCNN051717special-counsel-robert-mueller1002PMStoryPhoto&linkId=37706257

External links

Legal offices
Preceded by
Eric Holder
United States Deputy Attorney General
Acting

2001
Succeeded by
Larry Thompson
Government offices
Preceded by
Thomas Pickard
Acting
Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation
2001–2013
Succeeded by
James Comey

 

Story 2: President Trump is FBI Director’s Boss — Absolutely No Obstruction of Justice — Former FBI Director Went Along With President Obama and Let Hillary Clinton Off For Numerous Felonies — A Real Case of Obstruction of Justice By Both Obama and Comey — Prosecute Clinton, Obama, and Comey — Videos

Image result for branco cartoon trump obstruction of justiceImage result for cartoon trump comey obstruction of justice

 

About That James Comey Memo. Let’s Dig Into It a Little!

Trey Gowdy on NYT Story that Trump Asked James Comey to Lay off Mike Flynn!

Krauthammer on Flynn: This is a cover-up without a crime

Lionel Nation Live Stream: J. Edgar Comey the Clown Exacts His Revenge While Fake News Revels

What qualifies as obstruction of justice?

Obama: Clinton Careless In Managing Emails

FBI director calls Clinton, her aides ‘extremely careless’

Exclusive: President Obama On FBI Reviewing Hillary Clinton Emails

Gregg Jarrett: Comey’s revenge is a gun without powder

Gregg Jarrett

James Comey was lying in wait.

His gun was cocked, he took aim and fired.  But his weapon was empty.

Three months ago, the then-FBI Director met with President Trump.  Following their private conversation, Comey did what he always does –he wrote a memorandum to himself memorializing the conversation.  Good lawyers do that routinely.

Now, only after Comey was fired, the memo magically surfaces in an inflammatory New York Times report which alleges that Mr. Trump asked Comey to end the Michael Flynn investigation.    

Those who don’t know the first thing about the law immediately began hurling words like “obstruction of justice”, “high crimes and misdemeanors” and “impeachment“.   Typically, these people don’t know what they don’t know. 

Here is what we do know.

Under the law, Comey is required to immediately inform the Department of Justice of any attempt to obstruct justice by any person, even the President of the United States.  Failure to do so would result in criminal charges against Comey.  (18 USC 4 and 28 USC 1361)  He would also, upon sufficient proof, lose his license to practice law. 

So, if Comey believed Trump attempted to obstruct justice, did he comply with the law by reporting it to the DOJ?  If not, it calls into question whether the events occurred as the Times reported it.

Obstruction requires what’s called “specific intent” to interfere with a criminal case.  If Comey concluded, however, that Trump’s language was vague, ambiguous or elliptical, then he has no duty under the law to report it because it does not rise to the level of specific intent.  Thus, no crime.

There is no evidence Comey ever alerted officials at the Justice Department, as he is duty-bound to do.  Surely if he had, that incriminating information would have made its way to the public either by an indictment or, more likely, an investigation that could hardly be kept confidential in the intervening months.

Comey’s memo is being treated as a “smoking gun” only because the media and Democrats, likely prompted by Comey himself, are now peddling it that way.

Comey will soon testify before Congress about this and other matters.  His memo will likely be produced pursuant to a subpoena.  The words and the context will matter.

But by writing a memo, Comey has put himself in a box.  If he now accuses the President of obstruction, he places himself in legal jeopardy for failing to promptly and properly report it.  If he says it was merely an uncomfortable conversation, he clears the president of wrongdoing and sullies his own image as a guy who attempted to smear the man who fired him.

Either way, James Comey comes out a loser.  No matter.  The media will hail him a hero.

After all, he gave them a good story that was better than the truth.

Gregg Jarrett is a Fox News Anchor and former defense attorney.

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2017/05/16/gregg-jarrett-comeys-revenge-is-gun-without-powder.html

MAY 17, 2017 1:59PM

Obstruction of Justice

President Trump is being accused of “obstruction of justice” because of a conversation that he may have had with former FBI Director James Comey.  According to the news stories, Trump may have asked Comey to lay off his former National Security advisor, Michael Flynn.  In this post I want to briefly examine the legal doctrine of obstruction of justice.

To begin, a basic principle of American criminal law is that the line between what’s lawful and what’s unlawful needs to be clear so we will know, in advance, what conduct might land us in a prison cell.  That’s the gist behind the constitutional prohibition of ex post facto laws.  Laws with vague terms raise the same danger.  When laws are vague, police and prosecutors can abuse their power and trap people.  And that’s the danger with a catch-all doctrine such as “obstruction of justice.”

“Obstruction” has sometimes been defined by the authorities as almost any action that “impedes” an investigation.  Invoking your constitutional right to silence, your right to speak with an attorney, or the attorney-client privilege are sometimes deemed “obstruction.”  Don’t the courts restrain those abuses?  Yes, sometimes they do.  I’m presently editing a book of Judge Alex Kozinski’s legal opinions.  One case, United States v. Caldwell, touches on this subject.  Here is Judge Kozinski:

Under the government’s theory, a husband who asks his wife to buy him a radar detector would be a felon — punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of $10,000 — because their actions would obstruct the government function of catching speeders. So would a person who witnesses a crime and suggests to another witness (with no hint of threat) that they not tell the police anything unless specifically asked about it.So would the executives of a business that competes with a government-run enterprise and lowers its prices to siphon off the government’s customers. So would co-owners of land who refuse to sell it for use as a military base, forcing the government to go to the extra trouble of condemning it. So would have Elliot Richardson and William Ruckelshaus, had they agreed with each other to quit if asked by President Nixon to fire Archibald Cox. The federal government does lots of things, more and more every year, and many things private parties do can get in the government’s way. It can’t be that each such action is automatically a felony.

I should note that when James Comey served as a prosecutor in New York, he pursued Martha Stewart and went so far as to say that her assertion of innocence was itself a violation of the law!  When Comey worked as assistant attorney general, he also took a dangerously expansive view of what he considered “uncooperative” conduct by business firms.  He expected lawyers for business firms to act as deputies for the federal government, which raised constitutional problems—especially for employees who were unaware of the legal minefield all around them during a purported “internal” investigation.

Let’s also consider how the doctrine might work within the government itself.  Say a rookie cop busts a homeless man named Al, for possession of heroin.  Al is street wise so he offers to become a snitch if his charge is dropped.  Al says he was using heroin with the governor just the day before and that the governor told him that he kept a stash of other drugs in his desk at the mansion.  The rookie thinks this is a huge deal and proposes to use Al in a sting operation against the governor.  The police captain rejects the proposal and tells the rookie to forget the whole thing because it’s a made up story.  Has the captain obstructed the investigation or exercised appropriate supervision?

Another example.  Let’s say 50 FBI agents are working on the Russia investigation (improper, possibly illegal, actions involving Mr. Trump or others working on his campaign).  One agent is convinced that Mr. Trump is a traitor, taking bribes from Putin, and other illegal acts.  He proposes grand jury subpoenas for Mr. and Mrs. Trump so that they can be questioned under oath right away.  Only his FBI supervisor rejects the idea.  Has the FBI supervisor obstructed justice or exercised sound discretion?

One important difference, of course, is that neither the police captain nor the FBI supervisor, were targets (or around the targets) of the underlying investigation. Repeat: That is an important difference.  The main point of this post is simply to caution against wild and vague claims of “obstruction of justice.”  Legal rights should never be considered “obstruction.”  When judges, or prosecutors, or law enforcement supervisors restrain overzealous subordinates, that should not be considered “obstruction.”  Mr. Trump is not above the law, but investigators must also respect the law as they go about their work.

https://www.cato.org/blog/obstruction-justice

 

WASHINGTON — President Trump asked the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, to shut down the federal investigation into Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, in an Oval Office meeting in February, according to a memo Mr. Comey wrote shortly after the meeting.

“I hope you can let this go,” the president told Mr. Comey, according to the memo.

The documentation of Mr. Trump’s request is the clearest evidence that the president has tried to directly influence the Justice Department and F.B.I. investigation into links between Mr. Trump’s associates and Russia. Late Tuesday, Representative Jason Chaffetz, the Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee, demanded that the F.B.I. turn over all “memoranda, notes, summaries and recordings” of discussions between Mr. Trump and Mr. Comey.

Such documents, Mr. Chaffetz wrote, would “raise questions as to whether the president attempted to influence or impede” the F.B.I.

Mr. Comey wrote the memo detailing his conversation with the president immediately after the meeting, which took place the day after Mr. Flynn resigned, according to two people who read the memo. It was part of a paper trail Mr. Comey created documenting what he perceived as the president’s improper efforts to influence a continuing investigation. An F.B.I. agent’s contemporaneous notes are widely held up in court as credible evidence of conversations.

Mr. Comey shared the existence of the memo with senior F.B.I. officials and close associates. The New York Times has not viewed a copy of the memo, which is unclassified, but one of Mr. Comey’s associates read parts of it to a Times reporter.

“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” Mr. Trump told Mr. Comey, according to the memo. “He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”

In a statement, the White House denied the version of events in the memo.

“While the president has repeatedly expressed his view that General Flynn is a decent man who served and protected our country, the president has never asked Mr. Comey or anyone else to end any investigation, including any investigation involving General Flynn,” the statement said. “The president has the utmost respect for our law enforcement agencies, and all investigations. This is not a truthful or accurate portrayal of the conversation between the president and Mr. Comey.”

GRAPHIC

The Events That Led to Comey’s Firing, and How the White House’s Story Changed

New disclosures on Tuesday allege that in February, President Trump asked James B. Comey, then the F.B.I. director, to shut down an investigation into Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn.

OPEN GRAPHIC

Mr. Chaffetz’s letter, sent to the acting F.B.I. director, Andrew G. McCabe, set a May 24 deadline for the internal documents to be delivered to the House committee. The congressman, a Republican, was criticized in recent months for showing little of the appetite he demonstrated in pursuing Hillary Clinton to pursue investigations into Mr. Trump’s associates.

But since announcing in April that he will not seek re-election in 2018, Mr. Chaffetz has shown more interest in the Russia investigation, and held out the potential for a subpoena on Tuesday, a notably aggressive move as most Republicans have tried to stay out of the fray.

Document: Representative Jason Chaffetz’s Letter to the F.B.I.

In testimony to the Senate last week, Mr. McCabe said, “There has been no effort to impede our investigation to date.” Mr. McCabe was referring to the broad investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. The investigation into Mr. Flynn is separate.

A spokesman for the F.B.I. declined to comment.

Mr. Comey created similar memos — including some that are classified — about every phone call and meeting he had with the president, the two people said. It is unclear whether Mr. Comey told the Justice Department about the conversation or his memos.

Mr. Trump fired Mr. Comey last week. Trump administration officials have provided multiple, conflicting accounts of the reasoning behind Mr. Comey’s dismissal. Mr. Trump said in a television interview that one of the reasons was because he believed “this Russia thing” was a “made-up story.”

The Feb. 14 meeting took place just a day after Mr. Flynn was forced out of his job after it was revealed he had lied to Vice President Mike Pence about the nature of phone conversations he had had with the Russian ambassador to the United States.

Despite the conversation between Mr. Trump and Mr. Comey, the investigation of Mr. Flynn has proceeded. In Virginia, a federal grand jury has issued subpoenas in recent weeks for records related to Mr. Flynn. Part of the Flynn investigation is centered on his financial links to Russia and Turkey.

Mr. Comey had been in the Oval Office that day with other senior national security officials for a terrorism threat briefing. When the meeting ended, Mr. Trump told those present — including Mr. Pence and Attorney General Jeff Sessions — to leave the room except for Mr. Comey.

Five Contradictions in the White House’s Story About Comey’s Firing

The Trump administration has offered conflicting answers about how and why the F.B.I. director, James Comey, was fired.

Alone in the Oval Office, Mr. Trump began the discussion by condemning leaks to the news media, saying that Mr. Comey should consider putting reporters in prison for publishing classified information, according to one of Mr. Comey’s associates.

Mr. Trump then turned the discussion to Mr. Flynn.

After writing up a memo that outlined the meeting, Mr. Comey shared it with senior F.B.I. officials. Mr. Comey and his aides perceived Mr. Trump’s comments as an effort to influence the investigation, but they decided that they would try to keep the conversation secret — even from the F.B.I. agents working on the Russia investigation — so the details of the conversation would not affect the investigation.

Mr. Comey was known among his closest advisers to document conversations that he believed would later be called into question, according to two former confidants, who said Mr. Comey was uncomfortable at times with his relationship with Mr. Trump.

Mr. Comey’s recollection has been bolstered in the past by F.B.I. notes. In 2007, he told Congress about a now-famous showdown with senior White House officials over the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program. The White House disputed Mr. Comey’s account, but the F.B.I. director at the time, Robert S. Mueller III, kept notes that backed up Mr. Comey’s story.

The White House has repeatedly crossed lines that other administrations have been reluctant to cross when discussing politically charged criminal investigations. Mr. Trump has disparaged the continuing F.B.I. investigation as a hoax and called for an inquiry into his political rivals. His representatives have taken the unusual step of declaring no need for a special prosecutor to investigate the president’s associates.

The Oval Office meeting occurred a little over two weeks after Mr. Trump summoned Mr. Comey to the White House for a lengthy, one-on-one dinner at the residence. At that dinner, on Jan. 27, Mr. Trump asked Mr. Comey at least two times for a pledge of loyalty — which Mr. Comey declined, according to one of Mr. Comey’s associates.

In a Twitter post on Friday, Mr. Trump said that “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”

After the meeting, Mr. Comey’s associates did not believe there was any way to corroborate Mr. Trump’s statements. But Mr. Trump’s suggestion last week that he was keeping tapes has made them wonder whether there are tapes that back up Mr. Comey’s account.

The Jan. 27 dinner came a day after White House officials learned that Mr. Flynn had been interviewed by F.B.I. agents about his phone calls with the Russian ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak. On Jan. 26, the acting attorney general, Sally Q. Yates, told the White House counsel about the interview, and said Mr. Flynn could be subject to blackmail by the Russians because they knew he had lied about the content of the calls.

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The Pronk Pops Show 894, May 16, 2017, Story 1: Trump Whipping The Washington Post — More Fake News From Big Lie Media — Open Source New al Qaeda and Islamic State Laptop Battery Bombs May Evade Airport Security — Videos — Story 2: The Real Danger To The Our Republic Is Progressive Propaganda About Trump — American People Are Ignoring Them As They Get Trump Media Fatigue — Videos

Posted on May 16, 2017. Filed under: American History, Blogroll, Breaking News, Business, Central Intelligence Agency, Communications, Congress, Constitutional Law, Corruption, Countries, Crime, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Foreign Policy, Freedom of Speech, Hate Speech, History, House of Representatives, Human Behavior, Islamic State, Israel, Language, Law, Lying, Media, National Interest, National Security Agency, News, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, President Barack Obama, President Trump, Radio, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Scandals, Security, Senate, Spying, Success, United States of America, Videos, War, Wealth, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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Image result for trump and russian foreign minister and ambassadorImage result for mcmaster statement white house may 16, 2017Image result for May 16, 2016 cartoons trump and washingon post

Story 1: Trump Whipping The Washington Post — More Fake News From Big Lie Media — Israel Was The Primary Original Source — Open Source New al Qaeda and Islamic State Laptop Battery Bombs May Evade Airport Security — Videos — 

Image result for cartoons washingon post fake newsImage result for cartoons washingon post fake news

Image result for cartoons washingon post fake news

Story 1: Trump Whipping The Washington Post — More Fake News From Big Lie Media — It didn’t happen. — Videos — 

UPDATED: Trump revealed highly classified material to Russian officials, Washington Post reports

MCMaster on Trump revealed secret classified information to the russians 5/15/2017

Former US Ambass To Russia On Trump Defends Giving Highly Classified Info To Russians | CNN

Israel was source of leaked terrorism intel Trump told Russians

Trump defends giving Russia highly classified intelligence

Panel on Sources: Trump Shared Classified Information with Russians. @thelauracoates #Breaking

National Security Adviser Denies Trump Gave Russians Secrets

Natl. Security Advisor McMaster PRESS BRIEFING on Trump’s Upcoming Trip, Classified Info to Russians

Published on May 16, 2017

Brought to you by Desert Diamond: http://ddcaz.com
President Donald Trump’s national security adviser plans to brief reporters at the White House. The White House says H.R. McMaster will hold an on-camera briefing before noon. He was originally scheduled to appear with press secretary Sean Spicer, but Spicer plans to hold a separate, off-camera session with reporters later in the day, after McMaster’s appearance. Reporters had been promised a briefing from McMaster about Trump’s first overseas trip, which opens Friday. But McMaster is likely to face questions about reports that Trump shared classified intelligence information with Russian officials when they met in the Oval Office last week. McMaster has denied the reports, telling reporters Monday after the story broke: “I was in the room. It didn’t happen.”

BREAKING: General McMaster Just Dropped BOMBSHELL Proves Trump Never Leaked To Russia

Is the intel community undermining the Trump presidency?

Deep State Leaks Highly Classified Info to Washington Post to Smear President Trump

U.S. bans large electronics on inbound foreign flights from 8 countries

Laptops, tablets banned from some flights to US

New Laptop Bombs May Evade Airport Security

Published on Mar 31, 2017

US intelligence and law enforcement agencies believe that ISIS and other terrorist organizations have developed innovative ways to plant explosives in electronic devices that FBI testing shows can evade some commonly used airport security screening methods, CNN has learned

Intelligence officials received information on ISIS testing laptop bombs

Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian foreign minister and ambassador

May 15 at 7:45 PM

Trump revealed highly classified intel in Oval Office meeting with Russians
President Trump revealed highly classified intel in Oval Office meeting with Russians (Photo: Russian Foreign Ministry/The Washington Post)

President Trump revealed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador in a White House meeting last week, according to current and former U.S. officials, who said Trump’s disclosures jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State.

The information the president relayed had been provided by a U.S. partner through an intelligence-sharing arrangement considered so sensitive that details have been withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the U.S. government, officials said.

The partner had not given the United States permission to share the material with Russia, and officials said Trump’s decision to do so endangers cooperation from an ally that has access to the inner workings of the Islamic State. After Trump’s meeting, senior White House officials took steps to contain the damage, placing calls to the CIA and the National Security Agency.

“This is code-word information,” said a U.S. official familiar with the matter, using terminology that refers to one of the highest classification levels used by American spy agencies. Trump “revealed more information to the Russian ambassador than we have shared with our own allies.

 
Washington reacts to Trump’s disclosure of classified information
The White House and lawmakers reacted May 15 to Washington Post revelations that President Trump disclosed classified information during a meeting with Russian officials.

The revelation comes as the president faces rising legal and political pressure on multiple Russia-related fronts. Last week, he fired FBI Director James B. Comey in the midst of a bureau investigation into possible links between the Trump campaign and Moscow. Trump’s subsequent admission that his decision was driven by “this Russia thing” was seen by critics as attempted obstruction of justice.

One day after dismissing Comey, Trump welcomed Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak — a key figure in earlier Russia controversies — into the Oval Office. It was during that meeting, officials said, that Trump went off script and began describing details of an Islamic State terrorist threat related to the use of laptop computers on aircraft.

For almost anyone in government, discussing such matters with an adversary would be illegal. As president, Trump has broad authority to declassify government secrets, making it unlikely that his disclosures broke the law.

White House officials involved in the meeting said Trump discussed only shared concerns about terrorism.

“The president and the foreign minister reviewed common threats from terrorist organizations to include threats to aviation,” said H.R. McMaster, the national security adviser, who participated in the meeting. “At no time were any intelligence sources or methods discussed, and no military operations were disclosed that were not already known publicly.”

McMaster reiterated his statement in a subsequent appearance at the White House on Monday and described the Washington Post story as “false,” but did not take any questions.

McMaster: Trump ‘did not disclose any military operations that were not already publicly known’
National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster denied recent reporting that President Trump revealed classified information in a meeting with Russian officials. (Reuters)

In their statements, White House officials emphasized that Trump had not discussed specific intelligence sources and methods, rather than addressing whether he had disclosed information drawn from sensitive sources.

The CIA declined to comment, and the NSA did not respond to requests for comment.

But officials expressed concern about Trump’s handling of sensitive information as well as his grasp of the potential consequences. Exposure of an intelligence stream that has provided critical insight into the Islamic State, they said, could hinder the United States’ and its allies’ ability to detect future threats.

“It is all kind of shocking,” said a former senior U.S. official who is close to current administration officials. “Trump seems to be very reckless and doesn’t grasp the gravity of the things he’s dealing with, especially when it comes to intelligence and national security. And it’s all clouded because of this problem he has with Russia.”

In his meeting with Lavrov, Trump seemed to be boasting about his inside knowledge of the looming threat. “I get great intel. I have people brief me on great intel every day,” the president said, according to an official with knowledge of the exchange.

Trump went on to discuss aspects of the threat that the United States learned only through the espionage capabilities of a key partner. He did not reveal the specific intelligence-gathering method, but he described how the Islamic State was pursuing elements of a specific plot and how much harm such an attack could cause under varying circumstances. Most alarmingly, officials said, Trump revealed the city in the Islamic State’s territory where the U.S. intelligence partner detected the threat.

What Trump’s classified revelations to Russian officials mean for allies
Washington Post national security reporter Greg Miller explains what President Trump’s potential disclosures to Russian officials means going forward. (The Washington Post)

The Post is withholding most plot details, including the name of the city, at the urging of officials who warned that revealing them would jeopardize important intelligence capabilities.

“Everyone knows this stream is very sensitive, and the idea of sharing it at this level of granularity with the Russians is troubling,” said a former senior U.S. counterterrorism official who also worked closely with members of the Trump national security team. He and others spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing the sensitivity of the subject.

The identification of the location was seen as particularly problematic, officials said, because Russia could use that detail to help identify the U.S. ally or intelligence capability involved. Officials said the capability could be useful for other purposes, possibly providing intelligence on Russia’s presence in Syria. Moscow would be keenly interested in identifying that source and perhaps disrupting it.

“Russia could identify our sources or techniques,” the senior U.S. official said.

A former intelligence official who handled high-level intelligence on Russia said that given the clues Trump provided, “I don’t think that it would be that hard [for Russian spy services] to figure this out.”

At a more fundamental level, the information wasn’t the United States’ to provide to others. Under the rules of espionage, governments — and even individual agencies — are given significant control over whether and how the information they gather is disseminated, even after it has been shared. Violating that practice undercuts trust considered essential to sharing secrets.

The officials declined to identify the ally but said it has previously voiced frustration with Washington’s inability to safeguard sensitive information related to Iraq and Syria.

“If that partner learned we’d given this to Russia without their knowledge or asking first, that is a blow to that relationship,” the U.S. official said.

Trump also described measures the United States has taken or is contemplating to counter the threat, including military operations in Iraq and Syria, as well as other steps to tighten security, officials said.

The officials would not discuss details of those measures, but the Department of Homeland Security recently disclosed that it is considering banning laptops and other large electronic devices from carry-on bags on flights between Europe and the United States. The United States and Britain imposed a similar ban in March affecting travelers passing through airports in 10 Muslim-majority countries.

Trump cast the countermeasures in wistful terms. “Can you believe the world we live in today?” he said, according to one official. “Isn’t it crazy?”

Lavrov and Kislyak were also accompanied by aides.

A Russian photographer took photos of part of the session that were released by the Russian state-owned Tass news agency. No U.S. news organization was allowed to attend any part of the meeting.

Senior White House officials appeared to recognize quickly that Trump had overstepped and moved to contain the potential fallout. Thomas P. Bossert, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, placed calls to the directors of the CIA and the NSA, the services most directly involved in the intelligence-sharing arrangement with the partner.

One of Bossert’s subordinates also called for the problematic portion of Trump’s discussion to be stricken from internal memos and for the full transcript to be limited to a small circle of recipients, efforts to prevent sensitive details from being disseminated further or leaked.

White House officials defended Trump. “This story is false,” said Dina Powell, deputy national security adviser for strategy. “The president only discussed the common threats that both countries faced.”

But officials could not explain why staff members nevertheless felt it necessary to alert the CIA and the NSA.

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said he would rather comment on the revelations in the Post story after “I know a little bit more about it,” but added: “Obviously, they are in a downward spiral right now and have got to figure out a way to come to grips with all that’s happening. And the shame of it is, there’s a really good national security team in place.”

Corker also said, “The chaos that is being created by the lack of discipline is creating an environment that I think makes — it creates a worrisome environment.”

Trump has repeatedly gone off-script in his dealings with high-ranking foreign officials, most notably in his contentious introductory conversation with the Australian prime minister earlier this year. He has also faced criticism for seemingly lax attention to security at his Florida retreat, Mar-a-Lago, where he appeared to field preliminary reports of a North Korea missile launch in full view of casual diners.

U.S. officials said that the National Security Council continues to prepare multi-page briefings for Trump to guide him through conversations with foreign leaders, but that he has insisted that the guidance be distilled to a single page of bullet points — and often ignores those.

“He seems to get in the room or on the phone and just goes with it, and that has big downsides,” the second former official said. “Does he understand what’s classified and what’s not? That’s what worries me.”

Lavrov’s reaction to the Trump disclosures was muted, officials said, calling for the United States to work more closely with Moscow on fighting terrorism.

Kislyak has figured prominently in damaging stories about the Trump administration’s ties to Russia. Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, was forced to resign just 24 days into the job over his contacts with Kislyak and his misleading statements about them. Attorney General Jeff Sessions was forced to recuse himself from matters related to the FBI’s Russia investigation after it was revealed that he had met and spoke with Kislyak, despite denying any contact with Russian officials during his confirmation hearing.

The White House readout of the meeting with Lavrov and Kislyak made no mention of the discussion of a terrorist threat.

“Trump emphasized the need to work together to end the conflict in Syria,” the summary said. The president also “raised Ukraine” and “emphasized his desire to build a better relationship between the United States and Russia.”

Julie Tate and Ellen Nakashima contributed to this report.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/trump-revealed-highly-classified-information-to-russian-foreign-minister-and-ambassador/2017/05/15/530c172a-3960-11e7-9e48-c4f199710b69_story.html?utm_term=.7825502d7181

To the Washington Post, the New York Times and other left-wing outlets, journalism is blood sport.

It’s not about a mission to deliver facts, but to fulfill an agenda.

That couldn’t be clearer this week when Washington Post “Fact Checker” columnist Glenn Kessler tweeted on Monday that there was “applause in the newsroom as the Russia-leak scoop breaks the Hollywood Access record for most readers per minute.”

Applause in the newsroom as the Russia-leak scoop breaks the Hollywood Access record for most readers per minute

It’s not the first time the mask slipped and reporters applauded in the newsroom.

On Tuesday morning, Matt Drudge tweeted a link to a Politico story from 2009 which contained a pool report about President-Elect Barack Obama’s visit to the newsroom.

After three and a half  hours at his transition office, PEOTUS obama took another 6 minute ride through washington, arriving at 157 pm at the nondescript soviet-style building at 15th and L street that houses the washington post.

Around 100 people–Post reporters perhaps?–awaited PEOTUS’s arrival, cheering and bobbing their coffee cups.

Pool is holding in a van outside, while Mr obama does his washington post interview, and will exercise enormous restraint by ending report before saying what really thinks about this turn of events.

After the Post’s story broke, the president’s National Security Advisor denied the allegations:

“The president and the foreign minister reviewed common threats from terrorist organizations to include threats to aviation,” said H.R. McMaster, the national security adviser, who participated in the meeting. “At no time were any intelligence sources or methods discussed, and no military operations were disclosed that were not already known publicly.”

McMaster reiterated his statement in a subsequent appearance at the White House on Monday and described the Washington Post story as “false,” but did not take any questions.

http://www.theamericanmirror.com/washpost-reporters-cheer-trump-russia-leak-story-just-like-obama-09-visit/

Donald Trump said Amazon and Jeff Bezos have a ‘huge antitrust problem.’ Now they may.

The president-elect is certainly one to hold grudges.

https://www.recode.net/2016/11/9/13573926/donald-trump-amazon-jeff-bezos-antitrust-taxes

Did Washington Post Just Publish Its 4th Major #FakeNews Story in Last Week?

The Washington Post has had a very busy week.

The DC paper has published screaming headline after headline that turn out to be complete trash.
Even the National Enquirer would be red-faced after at this point.

It’s as if the WaPo will print anything for clicks.
They’ve become a click-bait site.

What a disgrace.

Here are the four completely inaccurate reports published by the Trump-bashing Washington Post this past week.

1.) The Washington Post was completely off in their fake news reports last week Comey asking for more funds to investigate Trump before he was fired.

On Wednesday the Washington Post reported that former FBI Director James Comey sought more resources for his Russia probe just days before he was fired by President Trump.

Comey was fired by President Trump on Tuesday.
Too bad the story was complete garbage.

The Department of Justice refuted the report Wednesday saying Comey DID NOT ask Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein for more resourses for the Russian conspiracy probe.

DOJ is pushing back hard- they say any reporting that Comey asked Rosenstein for more resources is “completely false” -now working Sen Intel https://twitter.com/thehill/status/862338205504475136 

2.) The Washington Post was wrong about Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein threatening to resign

The Washington Post reported Wednesday night that “Rosenstein threatened to resign after the narrative emerging from the White House on Tuesday evening cast him as a prime mover of the decision to fire Comey,” citing an unnamed source close to the White House.

This was completely inaccurate.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told WJLA reporter Michelle Macoluso he DID NOT threaten to quit over James Comey firing.

3.) The Washington Post claimed Sean Spicer was “hiding in the bushes.”

Mr. Spicer WAS NOT hiding in the bushes as the Washington Post reported.

Mediaite reported

The Washington Post offered a correction to their readers on Wednesday, in order to clarify a really strange account about how Sean Spicer tried to avoid talking to reporters after President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey.

Shortly after Comey’s firing set of a political firestorm this week, the White House had to scramble in order to control the impact and respond to overwhelming media intrigue. During this time, WaPo released a report stating that Spicer was hiding in the White House’s bushes on Tuesday night, and that he only emerged from the shrubbery once reporters promised not to film him while he took some of their questions…

…WaPo has since amended the original article with an editor’s note saying Spicer was among the bushes instead of inside them:

4.) The Washington Post accuses President Trump of releasing top secret information to the Russians during his meeting in the White House last week.

National Security Advisor, H.R. McMaster refuted the claim tonight with a statement to the press.

Natl Security Adviser McMaster made a statement denying a report that @POTUS revealed classified info to Russia. http://fxn.ws/2rkAYib 

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who was also in the room during the meeting between President Trump and Russian officials, also denied the allegations by the Washington Post.

It was complete crap:

WH source with direct knowledge just told me @washingtonpost didn’t talk to ANY U.S. official at mtg w/ Lavrov. “It’s Fake News”

U.S. to Ban Laptops in All Cabins of Flights From Europe, Officials Say

Acting on fears that terrorists can build bombs into laptops, Homeland Security has decided to expand the ban it imposed on Middle Eastern flights. Computers will now be checked as baggage.

The Department of Homeland Security plans to ban laptops in the cabins of all flights from Europe to the United States, European security officials told The Daily Beast. The announcement is expected Thursday.Initially a ban on laptops and tablets was applied only to U.S.-bound flights from 10 airports in North Africa and the Middle East. The ban was based on U.S. fears that terrorists have found a way to convert laptops into bombs capable of bringing down an airplane. It is unclear if the European ban will also apply to tablets.

DHS said in a statement to The Daily Beast: “No final decisions have been made on expanding the restriction on large electronic devices in aircraft cabins; however, it is under consideration. DHS continues to evaluate the threat environment and will make changes when necessary to keep air travelers safe.”

However, this move is increasing fears in the aviation industry that as well as guarding against bombs this ban could actually endanger flights. Laptops and tablets denied access to the cabin and added to checked baggage means that devices with a history of lithium-ion battery fires could set off a deadly conflagration in a cargo hold — where no one can put out the fires.

The FAA recorded 33 incidents in 2016 of personal electronic devices carried into cabins by passengers causing fire emergencies during flights, according to an FAA document reviewed by The Daily Beast. Of these, three were in laptops and two in tablets.

Two of the most serious were on Delta flights and both involved laptops.

On January 15, 2016 on a flight from Minneapolis to Atlanta fire broke out in a bag in an overhead bin shortly before landing. The smoke in the cabin became so overwhelming that when the flight reached the gate, passengers opened emergency exits over the wings and staff on the ramp helped them escape directly from the wings.

Flight attendants used halon fire suppressant extinguishers and water extinguishers to put out the fire, which had originated in two laptops.

On December 3, 2016 fire broke out in an overhead bin on a flight from Honolulu to Atlanta. Cabin crew needed three halon extinguishers and two water extinguishers to put out a fire originating in a laptop. For the rest of the flight the laptop was placed in a cooler with ice and monitored.

The FAA stressed that the 33 incidents are only ones that they are aware of. “This should not be considered as a complete listing of all such incidents…nor do they include all investigative and enforcement actions taken,” the documented stated.

Tests carried in 2015 by the FAA’s Fire Safety Branch have shown that halon gas is ineffective against fires originating in the kind of lithium-ion batteries used in laptops and tablets.

Even more to the point, these tests have revealed that the quantity of halon gas used in the automatic fire suppression systems of airplane cargo holds had no effect on a fire that begins as what is called a thermal runaway in a lithium-ion battery. Panels in the cargo hold designed to contain a fire were actually blown out in the tests, creating an explosion that would destroy an airplane.

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Commenting on these tests, the Federation of Airline Pilots’ Associations, IFALPA, representing airline pilots worldwide, said, “In fact, the fire proceeded is if the halon were not present.”

Some Middle East airlines complained to the International Civil Aviation Organization that they had been unduly penalized by the original 10-country ban. In response, the ICAO said that it accepted that improvised explosive devices in electronic devices have been “the greatest security risk to commercial aircraft for some years.”

At the same time, they said, they have asked experts to examine the safety risk of a sudden influx of electronic devices in cargo holds. And Patrick Ky, a European safety regulator, told Reuters that his agency wants airlines to avoid placing all the electronic devices in checked baggage being in the same container in the cargo hold.

At London’s Heathrow Airport, where 17 percent of all flights to the U.S. originate, is adding an extra layer of security screening for those flights at the gates.

As The Daily Beast reported in March, the original ban placed on the 10 airports in North Africa and the Middle East followed intelligence gathered during a raid on Al Qaeda in Yemen in January. Bomb makers had managed to insert into batteries an explosive device powerful enough to bring down an airplane.

First indications of this came in 2016 when a hole was blown in the fuselage of an Airbus A320 as it was on its ascent from Mogadishu, Somalia. The airplane was able to make an emergency landing. The insurgent group Al-Shababb claimed that it had equipped a passenger with a laptop rigged as a bomb.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2017/05/10/u-s-to-ban-laptops-in-all-cabins-of-flights-from-europe

U.S. Raid in Yemen Led to Laptop Ban on Flights, Officials Say

Intel sources fear terrorists can make bombs as small as computer batteries, provoking the ban on carry-on electronics at sensitive foreign airports.

Three intelligence sources told The Daily Beast that the ban on carry-on electronics aboard U.S.-bound flights from 10 airports in North Africa and the Middle East was the result of information seized during a U.S. raid on Al Qaeda in Yemen in January. The United Kingdom joined the U.S. ban Tuesday.Information from the raid shows al Qaeda’s successful development of compact, battery bombs that fit inside laptops or other devices believed to be strong enough to bring down an aircraft, the sources said. The battery bombs would need to be manually triggered, a source explained, which is why the electronics ban is only for the aircraft cabin not checked luggage.The U.S. Department of Homeland Security publicly cited two attacks on flights in the last two years, the downing of a Russian jet over the Egyptian Sinai in October 2015 and an attempt that nearly succeeded in bringing down a jet that had taken off from Mogadishu, Somalia last year and made an emergency landing after an explosion ripped open its cabin. The insurgent group Al-Shababb claimed credit for getting a laptop onboard the flight that had been rigged as a bomb.“Since they weren’t high enough, the explosion wasn’t catastrophic to the plane and they were able to land,” one source told The Daily Beast. “The bomber got sucked out of the hole, but it was proof of concept.”DHS declined to comment on the intelligence, saying only “we employ a variety of measures, both seen and unseen, to protect air travelers.”

A former British Army intelligence analyst told The Daily Beast that an investigation into the device suggested that it used a military grade high explosive that generates a supersonic shock wave. It was probably the same explosive used by “shoe bomber” Richard Reid: PETN, or pentaerythritol tritinate, which is hard to detect. It delivers high yield for its weight: just 100 grams can destroy a car. 

Although the ban on laptops is based on the belief that the compact explosive inside a battery would have to be triggered by the bomber in the airplane the British analyst believes that a laptop might actually be equipped with a timer. “The timing mechanism can be quite small. In fact, it is believed that the Somali bomb was pre-timed. Therefore a ban that still allows laptops in the cargo hold does little to negate the threat.”

He also points out such a device could not be triggered remotely: “There is no phone reception at 30,000 feet and installing a link to a satellite connection would be too bulky.”

The chief bomb maker for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Ibrahim al-Asiri, has been working on packing even smaller devices, the source added. CNN first reported the news on Tuesday evening.

The problem with this theory is that it implies that the security screening of electronic devices at the 10 airports is no better than at the airport in a failed state like Somalia. The pilot of the Airbus A320 involved in that incident said of that airport: “the security is zero.” Airport employees had conspired with the bomber to get the laptop through security.

One source said the foreign countries included in the ban were selected because of their exposure to al Qaeda groups and members who might try to bring a battery bomb on a plane heading for the U.S.

Egyptian intelligence officials were briefed over the weekend, according to one source, and have long been concerned about another plane departing from Cairo being brought down like the Metrojet plane in Oct. 2015. And there is another disaster, EgyptAir Flight 804, from Paris Charles De Gaulle airport to Cairo in May that crashed into the eastern Mediterranean and killed 66 people.

The crash has subsequently been shrouded in mystery. In December the Egyptian authorities announced that a criminal investigation had been opened. They had had six months in which to analyze data from the airplane’s two flight recorders recovered from the wreck. But there was a dispute between the Egyptian and French about the cause. The French air crash investigators said that it was not possible at that stage to draw conclusions about the origin of the accident.

It is known from data transmitted from the Airbus A320 as it spiraled down from its cruise height of 37,000 feet that it suffered a rapid cascade of failures, beginning with an electrical problem in the cockpit. This escalated into a fire in the electronics bay below the cockpit that effectively fried the computers controlling the flight.

There were indications that the disastrous sequence started with some kind of explosion in the passenger toilet immediately above the electronics bay and behind the cockpit. Video taken of the wreck showed heat damage beneath the cockpit.

Before leaving Paris the airplane had flown from Asmara in Eritrea, to Cairo and then onward to Tunis and Paris. That means that investigators would be looking at the possibility of an explosive device being placed on the airplane at any of those airports.

In early March, a Russian passenger on a Turkish Airways flight from Alexandria to Istanbul was arrested after an improvised explosive was found in his luggage, according to a DHS alert in early March citing Egyptian media.

The gravity of the move had been underscored by the political response to it. Representative Adam Schiff, Californian Democrat and ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said in a statement:

“Over the weekend I received an additional briefing by the Department of Homeland Security and I fully support the new security precautions. These steps are both necessary and proportional to the threat.”

Several Federal Air Marshals told The Daily Beast they were angry they were blindsided by the ban, only to learn about it from CNN or BBC news reports circulated by management. (President Donald Trump has repeatedly referred to CNN as “fake news.”) But DHS spokesman said they shouldn’t be surprised to not receive notification about something they aren’t involved in.

“FAMS aren’t involved in this particular action so why would they be notified of an action that doesn’t directly affect their duties?” DHS spokesman David Lapan told The Daily Beast.

Federal Air Marshals only fly on U.S. carriers and the electronics ban involves direct flights into the U.S. from countries served by foreign airlines.

The most consequential impact of the new measures will be on the three airlines operating out of the Persian Gulf states: Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways. In the last decade there has been a major transformation of the connections between inter-continental airline routes. Led by Emirates from their hub in Dubai this has put the three airlines in a dominant position to connect flights from Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe and, significantly, to directly fly passengers from those regions to the United States.

Moreover, these airlines have set new standards of service, particularly for business class passengers. Anyone flying business class with these carriers finds the cabins glowing with the glare from many laptops as workaholic executives and managers use their flight time to catch up on work.

The three major U.S. international carriers, Delta, American and United, have found themselves left with fleets of older airplanes that can’t match the quality of cabin amenities of the Gulf airlines, who use latest generation jets like the Airbus A380 super jumbo and the Airbus A350. Over the last few years those airlines have pushed into major U.S. business centers like New York, Dallas, Houston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston and Seattle – scooping up, for example, major players in the energy and tech industries.

Craig Jenks, President of a New York base consultancy, Airline/Aircraft projects, pointed out that the ban’s effects reach far beyond the named airports.

In particular, Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways all have a high volume of passengers originating in Indian cities. Among these are many in high tech industries flying on from hubs in the Gulf directly to U.S. tech business centers like San Francisco, Seattle, Boston and New York.

“Now, all of a sudden, you arrive at a Gulf airport headed for San Francisco with your light carry-on and you discover, no laptop on board nor even while in transit at the hub. Intentionally or not, this is a negative for the Gulf carriers,” Jenks said.

Now that the ban has been joined by the UK, which has said that passengers on 14 airlines would not be able to carry laptops into the cabin of direct flights to London from Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia, the disruption to business travelers has become even more widespread.

Air travel remains a priority target for terrorists. And, once more, the mere threat of terror attacks has proved itself as costly, at least in economic impact, as the act of terror.

For example, one recent casualty has been Turkish Airlines. In 2015 it was following the Gulf airlines’ model to exploit the strategic location of Istanbul as a hub for the Middle East and Africa. In that year it made a profit of $872 million. Last year that became a loss of $463 million. Two events, a terror attack on Istanbul airport and the failed coup in July, as well as fear of new terror attacks, have put the airline into a financial crisis. Istanbul is on both the U.S. and U.K. list of airports covered by the new ban.

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The Pronk Pops Show 893, May 15, 2017, Story 1: World Wide Ransom Ware Demands Spreading To Over 150 Countries — Huge Hacker Holdup Using Exploit of Security Flaw In Microsoft XP Operating System — Used Code Developed By U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) — Running Sacred — Crying — It’s Over — Videos — Story 2: American People Demand Congress Appoint Special Prosecutor — Investigate Obama’s Administration Use of Intelligence Community (NSA, CIA, FBI, …) Warrantless Surveillance of Both Democrat and Republican Presidential Candidates — The Use Intelligence Information For Political Purposes Is A Felony! — Videos

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 New version of ransomware worm expected

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Worldwide ransomware attacks: What we know so far

May 15, 2017
AUTHOR: LILY HAY NEWMAN. SECURITY

HOW AN ACCIDENTAL ‘KILL SWITCH’ SLOWED FRIDAY’S MASSIVE RANSOMWARE ATTACK

Cybersecurity Experts’ First Task: Find Out How Virus Spread

Investigators think a computer outlet that isn’t supposed to be connected to the internet was a possible vector for WannaCry

The virus, dubbed WannaCry, is a two-part virus. One part is ransomware, which locks computer files and demands online payment to unlock them. The other part spreads it.

The virus, dubbed WannaCry, is a two-part virus. One part is ransomware, which locks computer files and demands online payment to unlock them. The other part spreads it. PHOTO: RITCHIE B. TONGO/EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Government investigators and private cybersecurity firms are trying to find out how a virus managed to spread around the globe over the weekend, which would give them their best chance to identify the mastermind behind the cyberattacks.

Investigators have already ruled out phishing—tricking someone into opening a seemingly legitimate email attachment that actually contains the virus—as a possible tactic. One of their hypotheses centers on something called port 445, an outlet that isn’t supposed to be connected to the internet.

The race is on to identify patient zero, or the first known infection of the virus, to find clues that could lead back to the hacker.

The attacks appear to have largely abated Monday, despite fears that a new workweek would trigger a second wave. Cybersecurity experts see fewer infections compared with Friday, when the onslaught started.

“We think the initial fire is put out,” said Rob Holmes, vice president of products at Proofpoint, a Silicon Valley company with virus sensors at major corporations and telecom companies.

The virus, dubbed WannaCry, is a two-part virus. One part is ransomware, which locks computer files and demands online payment to unlock them. The other part is a “spreader,” which transmits WannaCry to all other computers on a network. It attacks machines running Microsoft Corp.’s Windows systems that don’t have up-to-date security patches.

Mr. Holmes said 95% of ransomware attacks use the relatively unsophisticated technique of phishing.

A European Union cybersecurity agency published a report Monday, which said early indications pointed to emails containing WannaCry-infected Microsoft Office documents as the attacker’s weapon. But it quickly amended the report, saying phishing probably wasn’t involved.

If it had been a phishing attack, organizations would have found the offending email by now and described it to the public, cybersecurity experts said.

Now there are two main hypotheses as to how WannaCry could have wormed its way into a computer. One theory centers on port 445.

Imagine a network of 100 computers. These computers communicate with each other through digital roads. One of the roads is port 445, and it is usually reserved for Windows-running computers to transfer files to each other, or to send stuff to the printer, said Becky Pinkard, a vice president at cybersecurity firm Digital Shadows.

Authorities know WannaCry spread itself within a network using the port 445 roads. But how did it get there in the first place? Port 445 roads connect computers within a network, but it was thought to be walled off from the internet and outside world. Now investigators are trying to determine whether port 445’s wall has a hole that WannaCry wiggled through.

“Most researchers tend to believe at the moment that it spreads initially through vulnerable computers exposing port 445 on the internet,” the updated EU agency report said.

There is another theory. Ms. Pinkard said an employee could have taken an office-issued laptop to a coffee shop or hotel and logged onto the venue’s unsecure internet network. If that laptop doesn’t have the antivirus protections that networks at big organizations typically have, a hacker could’ve slipped WannaCry onto the device. When the employee brings the laptop back to the office and connects it to the network, bam: WannaCry spreads itself via port 445.

Companies can protect laptops from this with commercially available protection software, Ms. Pinkard said.

If researchers can find the original WannaCry victim, they might be able to trace the signature of the attacker who delivered the virus via an internet-protocol address, or IP address. “If I were law enforcement, I would be working to find who was the very first company impacted,” Ms. Pinkard said. “I would knock at the door and be asking, ‘Can I look at your logs?’ ”

The problem is that the IP address could lead to another IP address, which would lead to another IP address, and so on. “It’s a very slow and painful process,” Ms. Pinkard said.

Cybersecurity experts said that, even though some of the world’s smartest minds are on the case, it could take months or years to find the mastermind—if they find the attacker at all.

A parallel hunt would be following the money. WannaCry asked for ransom to be delivered via a digital currency called bitcoin. About 124 payments totaling about $34,000, or a little less than $300 each, went to the attacker as of Sunday afternoon, said bitcoin-analytics-firm Chainalysis. Every bitcoin transaction is recorded on an online ledger. But finding out the individual behind each transaction is difficult because users’ identities are well encrypted.

“There’s going to be a paper trail,” said Brian Knight, a George Mason University specialist in financial technology. “Whether it can be deciphered is a separate question.”

https://www.wsj.com/articles/cybersecurity-experts-first-task-find-out-how-virus-spread-1494868250

The cyberattacks started Friday and spread rapidly around the globe using a security flaw in Microsoft’s Windows XP operating system

The cyberattacks started Friday and spread rapidly around the globe using a security flaw in Microsoft’s Windows XP operating system

 Security agencies are hunting for those behind a crippling cyberattack which has so far hit hundreds of thousands of computers worldwide, including at government agencies, factories and health services.

Here is what we know so far about the cyber ransom attacks:

– What happened? –

The cyberattacks started Friday and spread rapidly around the globe using a security flaw in Microsoft’s Windows XP operating system, an older version that is no longer given mainstream tech support by the US giant.

The so-called WannaCry ransomware locks access to user files and in an on-screen message demands payment of $300 (275 euros) in the virtual currency Bitcoin in order to decrypt the files.

Victims have been advised by security experts not to pay up.

The attack is unique, according to policing agency Europol, because it combines ransomware with a worm function, meaning once one machine is infected, the entire internal network is scanned and other vulnerable machines are infected.

– Who has been affected? –

Europol chief Rob Wainwright said computer systems in more than 150 countries were hit, with the majority of organisations affected over the weekend in Europe.

But as Asia woke up to the working week on Monday, leading Chinese security-software provider Qihoo 360 said “hundreds of thousands” of computers in the country were hit at nearly 30,000 institutions including government agencies.

In Japan, a spokesman for Hitachi said the conglomerate discovered problems on Monday morning and its computer networks were “unstable”.

Other high-profile victims include hospitals in Britain, the Spanish telecoms giant Telefonica, French carmaker Renault, US package delivery company FedEx, Russia’s interior ministry and the German rail operator Deutsche Bahn.

– Where did the malware come from? –

Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president and chief legal officer, said in a blog post Sunday that the culprits used a code developed by the US National Security Agency.

It was leaked as part of a document dump, according to researchers at the Moscow-based computer security firm Kaspersky Lab.

Smith warned governments against stockpiling such vulnerabilities and said instead they should report them to manufacturers — not sell, store or exploit them, lest they fall into the wrong hands.

“An equivalent scenario with conventional weapons would be the US military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen,” Smith wrote.

“The governments of the world should treat this attack as a wake up call.”

– Who was behind the attack? –

Europol said on Monday it was continuing to hunt for the culprits behind the unprecedented attack.

The agency’s senior spokesman Jan Op Gen Oorth said it was still “a bit early too say who is behind it, but we are working on a decrypting tool”.

Experts think it unlikely to have been one person, with criminally minded cyber crime syndicates nowadays going underground and using ever more sophisticated encryption to hide their activities.

– How can people protect their computers? –

Microsoft took the unusual step of reissuing security patches first made available in March for Windows XP and other older versions of its operating system.

Kaspersky said it was seeking to develop a decryption tool “as soon as possible”.

Europol said European companies and governments had heeded warnings and as a result avoided further fallout from the ransomware.

“It seems that a lot of internet security guys over the weekend did their homework and ran the security software updates,” Jan Op Gen Oorth told AFP.

https://www.yahoo.com/tech/worldwide-ransomware-cyberattacks-know-152751340.html

Dozens of countries hit by huge cyberextortion attack

NEW YORK (AP) — Dozens of countries were hit with a huge cyberextortion attack Friday that locked up computers and held users’ files for ransom at a multitude of hospitals, companies and government agencies.

It was believed to the biggest attack of its kind ever recorded.

The malicious software behind the onslaught appeared to exploit a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows that was supposedly identified by the National Security Agency for its own intelligence-gathering purposes and was later leaked to the internet.

Britain’s national health service fell victim, its hospitals forced to close wards and emergency rooms and turn away patients. Russia appeared to be the hardest hit, according to security experts, with the country’s Interior Ministry confirming it was struck.

All told, several cybersecurity firms said they had identified the malicious software, which so far has been responsible for tens of thousands of attacks, in more than 60 countries. That includes the United States, although its effects there didn’t appear to be widespread, at least initially.

The attack infected computers with what is known as “ransomware” — software that locks up the user’s data and flashes a message demanding payment to release it. In the U.S., FedEx reported that its Windows computers were “experiencing interference” from malware, but wouldn’t say if it had been hit by ransomware.

Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer at the Helsinki-based cybersecurity company F-Secure, called the attack “the biggest ransomware outbreak in history.”

Security experts said the attack appeared to be caused by a self-replicating piece of software that enters companies and organizations when employees click on email attachments, then spreads quickly internally from computer to computer when employees share documents and other files.

Its ransom demands start at $300 and increase after two hours to $400, $500 and then $600, said Kurt Baumgartner, a security researcher at Kaspersky Lab. Affected users can restore their files from backups, if they have them, or pay the ransom; otherwise they risk losing their data entirely.

Chris Wysopal of the software security firm Veracode said criminal organizations were probably behind the attack, given how quickly the malware spread.

“For so many organizations in the same day to be hit, this is unprecedented,” he said.

The security holes it exploits were disclosed several weeks ago by TheShadowBrokers, a mysterious group that has published what it says are hacking tools used by the NSA as part of its intelligence-gathering.

Shortly after that disclosure, Microsoft announced that it had already issued software “patches” for those holes. But many companies and individuals haven’t installed the fixes yet or are using older versions of Windows that Microsoft no longer supports and didn’t fix.

By Kaspersky Lab’s count, the malware struck at least 74 countries. In addition to Russia, the biggest targets appeared to be Ukraine and India, nations where it is common to find older, unpatched versions of Windows in use, according to the security firm.

Hospitals across Britain found themselves without access to their computers or phone systems. Many canceled all routine procedures and asked patients not to come to the hospital unless it was an emergency. Doctors’ practices and pharmacies reported similar problems.

Patrick Ward, a 47-year-old sales director, said his heart operation, scheduled for Friday, was canceled at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in London.

Tom Griffiths, who was at the hospital for chemotherapy, said several cancer patients had to be sent home because their records or bloodwork couldn’t be accessed.

“Both staff and patients were frankly pretty appalled that somebody, whoever they are, for commercial gain or otherwise, would attack a health care organization,” he said. “It’s stressful enough for someone going through recovery or treatment for cancer.”

British Prime Minister Theresa May said there was no evidence patient data had been compromised and added that the attack had not specifically targeted the National Health Service.

“It’s an international attack and a number of countries and organizations have been affected,” she said.

Spain, meanwhile, took steps to protect critical infrastructure in response to the attack. Authorities said they were communicating with more than 100 energy, transportation, telecommunications and financial services providers about the attack.

Spain’s Telefonica, a global broadband and telecommunications company, was among the companies hit.

Ransomware attacks are on the rise around the world. In 2016, Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in California said it had paid a $17,000 ransom to regain control of its computers from hackers.

Krishna Chinthapalli, a doctor at Britain’s National Hospital for Neurology & Neurosurgery who wrote a paper on cybersecurity for the British Medical Journal, warned that British hospitals’ old operating systems and confidential patient information made them an ideal target for blackmailers.

He said many NHS hospitals in Britain use Windows XP software, introduced in 2001, and as government funding for the health service has been squeezed, “IT budgets are often one of the first ones to be reduced.”

“Looking at the trends, it was going to happen,” he said. “I did not expect an attack on this scale. That was a shock.

https://apnews.com/e8402f2faf934f7ab5419d4961d3dafe/Global-extortion-cyberattack-hits-dozens-of-nations

Global ‘WannaCry’ ransomware cyberattack seeks cash for data

LONDON (AP) — A global “ransomware” cyberattack, unprecedented in scale, had technicians scrambling to restore Britain’s crippled hospital network Saturday and secure the computers that run factories, banks, government agencies and transport systems in many other nations.

The worldwide effort to extort cash from computer users spread so widely that Microsoft quickly changed its policy, making security fixes available for free for the older Windows systems still used by millions of individuals and smaller businesses.

A malware tracking map showed “WannaCry” infections popping up around the world. Britain canceled or delayed treatments for thousands of patients, even people with cancer. Train systems were hit in Germany and Russia, and phone companies in Madrid and Moscow. Renault’s futuristic assembly line in Slovenia, where rows of robots weld car bodies together, was stopped cold.

In Brazil, the social security system had to disconnect its computers and cancel public access. The state-owned oil company Petrobras and Brazil’s Foreign Ministry also disconnected computers as a precautionary measure, and court systems went down, too.

Britain’s home secretary said one in five of 248 National Health Service groups had been hit. Home Secretary Amber Rudd said all but six of the NHS trusts back to normal Saturday.

The U.K.’s National Cyber Security Center was “working round the clock” to restore vital health services, while urging people to update security software fixes, run anti-virus software and back up their data elsewhere.

Who perpetrated this wave of attacks remains unknown. Two security firms — Kaspersky Lab and Avast — said they identified the malicious software in more than 70 countries. Both said Russia was hit hardest.

These hackers “have caused enormous amounts of disruption— probably the biggest ransomware cyberattack in history,” said Graham Cluley, a veteran of the anti-virus industry in Oxford, England.

And all this may be just a taste of what’s coming, another cyber security expert warned.

Computer users worldwide — and everyone else who depends on them — should assume that the next big “ransomware” attack has already been launched, and just hasn’t manifested itself yet, Ori Eisen, who founded the Trusona cybersecurity firm in Scottsdale, Arizona, told The Associated Press.

The attack held hospitals and other entities hostage by freezing computers, encrypting data and demanding money through online bitcoin payments. But it appears to be “low-level” stuff, Eisen said Saturday, given the amount of ransom demanded — $300 at first, rising to $600 before it destroys files hours later.

He said the same thing could be done to crucial infrastructure, like nuclear power plants, dams or railway systems.

“This is child’s play, what happened. This is not the serious stuff yet. What if the same thing happened to 10 nuclear power plants, and they would shut down all the electricity to the grid? What if the same exact thing happened to a water dam or to a bridge?” he asked.

“Today, it happened to 10,000 computers,” Eisen said. “There’s no barrier to do it tomorrow to 100 million computers.”

This is already believed to be the biggest online extortion attack ever recorded, disrupting services in nations as diverse as the U.S., Ukraine, Brazil, Spain and India. Europol, the European Union’s police agency, said the onslaught was at “an unprecedented level and will require a complex international investigation to identify the culprits.”

In Russia, government agencies insisted that all attacks had been resolved. Russian Interior Ministry, which runs the national police, said the problem had been “localized” with no information compromised. Russia’s health ministry said its attacks were “effectively repelled.”

The ransomware exploits a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows that was purportedly identified by the U.S. National Security Agency for its own intelligence-gathering purposes. Hackers said they stole the tools from the NSA and dumped them on the internet.

It could have been much worse if not for a young cybersecurity researcher who helped to halt its spread by accidentally activating a so-called “kill switch” in the malicious software.

The 22-year-old Britain-based researcher, identified online only as MalwareTech, explained Saturday that he spotted a hidden web address in the “WannaCrypt” code and made it official by registering its domain name. That inexpensive move redirected the attacks to MalwareTech’s server, which operates as a “sinkhole” to keep malware from escaping.

“Because WannaCrypt used a single hardcoded domain, my registration of it caused all infections globally to believe they were inside a sandbox … thus we initially unintentionally prevented the spread,” the researcher said, humbly and anonymously, in his blog post.

His move may have saved governments and companies millions of dollars and slowed the outbreak before U.S.-based computers were more widely infected.

Indeed, while FedEx Corp. reported that its Windows computers were “experiencing interference” from malware — it wouldn’t say if it had been hit by the ransomware — other impacts in the U.S. were not readily apparent on Saturday.

That said, the threat hasn’t disappeared, the MalwareTech researcher said.

“One thing that is very important to note is our sinkholing only stops this sample and there is nothing stopping them removing the domain check and trying again, so it’s incredibly important that any unpatched systems are patched as quickly as possible,” he warned.

The kill switch also couldn’t help those already infected. Short of paying, options for these individuals and companies are usually limited to recovering data files from a backup, if available, or living without them.

Security experts said it appeared to be caused by a self-replicating piece of software that enters companies when employees click on email attachments, then spreads quickly as employees share documents.

The security holes it exploits were disclosed weeks ago by TheShadowBrokers, a mysterious hacking group. Microsoft swiftly released software “patches” to fix those holes, but many users still haven’t installed updates or still use older versions of Windows.

Microsoft had made fixes for older systems, such as 2001′s Windows XP, available only to mostly larger organizations, including Britain’s National Health Service, that paid extra for extended technical support. In light of Friday’s attacks, Microsoft announced that it’s making the fixes free to all.

Cluley said “There’s clearly some culpability on the part of the U.S. intelligence services. Because they could have done something ages ago to get this problem fixed, and they didn’t do it.”

“It’s very, very difficult these days, with encryption, to spy on people,” Cluley added. “But I don’t think that those concerns should hide the fact that ALL of us need to be protected … We’re living an online life, and we all deserve security there.”

https://apnews.com/770946e7df454d2e9acda3bdbd3ed425/Unprecedented-global-‘ransomware’-attack-seeks-cash-for-data

Ransomware

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ransomware is a type of malicious software designed to block access to a computer system or data until a ransom is paid. Simple ransomware may lock the system in a way which is not difficult for a knowledgeable person to reverse, and display a message requesting payment to unlock it. More advanced malware encrypts the victim’s files, making them inaccessible, and demands a ransom payment to decrypt them.[1] The ransomware may also encrypt the computer’s Master File Table (MFT)[2][3] or the entire hard drive.[4] Thus, ransomware is a denial-of-access attack that prevents computer users from accessing files[5] since it is intractable to decrypt the files without the decryption key. Ransomware attacks are typically carried out using a Trojan that has a payload disguised as a legitimate file.

While initially popular in Russia, the use of ransomware scams has grown internationally;[6][7][8] in June 2013, security software vendor McAfee released data showing that it had collected over 250,000 unique samples of ransomware in the first quarter of 2013, more than double the number it had obtained in the first quarter of 2012.[9] Wide-ranging attacks involving encryption-based ransomware began to increase through Trojans such as CryptoLocker, which had procured an estimated US$3 million before it was taken down by authorities,[10] and CryptoWall, which was estimated by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to have accrued over $18m by June 2015.[11]

Operation

Typically, modern ransomware uses encryption to deny users’ access to their files. The software encrypts the victim’s files using a symmetric cipher with a randomly generated key, and then deletes the key, leaving only a version of it made inaccessible to the victim using public key cryptography. Only the attacker can then decrypt the symmetric key needed to restore the files.[12]

The symmetric key is randomly generated and will not assist other victims. At no point is the attacker’s private key exposed to victims and the victim need only send a very small ciphertext (the encrypted symmetric-cipher key) to the attacker.

Ransomware attacks are typically carried out using a Trojan, entering a system through, for example, a downloaded file or a vulnerability in a network service. The program then runs a payload, which locks the system in some fashion, or claims to lock the system but does not (e.g., a scareware program). Payloads may display a fake warning purportedly by an entity such as a law enforcement agency, falsely claiming that the system has been used for illegal activities, contains content such as pornography and “pirated” media.[13][14][15]

Some payloads consist simply of an application designed to lock or restrict the system until payment is made, typically by setting the Windows Shell to itself,[16] or even modifying the master boot record and/or partition table to prevent the operating system from booting until it is repaired.[17] The most sophisticated payloads encrypt files, with many using strong encryption to encrypt the victim’s files in such a way that only the malware author has the needed decryption key.[12][18][19]

Payment is virtually always the goal, and the victim is coerced into paying for the ransomware to be removed—which may or may not actually occur—either by supplying a program that can decrypt the files, or by sending an unlock code that undoes the payload’s changes. A key element in making ransomware work for the attacker is a convenient payment system that is hard to trace. A range of such payment methods have been used, including wire transfers, premium-rate text messages,[20] pre-paid voucher services such as Paysafecard,[6][21][22] and the digital currency Bitcoin.[23][24][25] A 2016 census commissioned by Citrix revealed that larger business are holding bitcoin as contingency plans.[26]

History

Encrypting ransomware

The first known malware extortion attack, the “AIDS Trojan” written by Joseph Popp in 1989, had a design failure so severe it was not necessary to pay the extortionist at all. Its payload hid the files on the hard drive and encrypted only their names, and displayed a message claiming that the user’s license to use a certain piece of software had expired. The user was asked to pay US$189 to “PC Cyborg Corporation” in order to obtain a repair tool even though the decryption key could be extracted from the code of the Trojan. The Trojan was also known as “PC Cyborg”. Popp was declared mentally unfit to stand trial for his actions, but he promised to donate the profits from the malware to fund AIDS research.[27]

The notion of using public key cryptography for ransom attacks was introduced in 1996 by Adam L. Young and Moti Yung. Young and Yung critiqued the failed AIDS Information Trojan that relied on symmetric cryptography alone, the fatal flaw being that the decryption key could be extracted from the Trojan, and implemented an experimental proof-of-concept cryptovirus on a Macintosh SE/30 that used RSA and the Tiny Encryption Algorithm (TEA) to hybrid encrypt the victim’s data. Since public key crypto is used, the cryptovirus only contains the encryption key. The attacker keeps the corresponding private decryption key private. Young and Yung’s original experimental cryptovirus had the victim send the asymmetric ciphertext to the attacker who deciphers it and returns the symmetric decryption key it contains to the victim for a fee. Long before electronic money existed Young and Yung proposed that electronic money could be extorted through encryption as well, stating that “the virus writer can effectively hold all of the money ransom until half of it is given to him. Even if the e-money was previously encrypted by the user, it is of no use to the user if it gets encrypted by a cryptovirus”.[12] They referred to these attacks as being “cryptoviral extortion”, an overt attack that is part of a larger class of attacks in a field called cryptovirology, which encompasses both overt and covert attacks.[12]

Examples of extortionate ransomware became prominent in May 2005.[28] By mid-2006, Trojans such as Gpcode, TROJ.RANSOM.A, Archiveus, Krotten, Cryzip, and MayArchive began utilizing more sophisticated RSA encryption schemes, with ever-increasing key-sizes. Gpcode.AG, which was detected in June 2006, was encrypted with a 660-bit RSA public key.[29] In June 2008, a variant known as Gpcode.AK was detected. Using a 1024-bit RSA key, it was believed large enough to be computationally infeasible to break without a concerted distributed effort.[30][31][32][33]

Encrypting ransomware returned to prominence in late 2013 with the propagation of CryptoLocker—using the Bitcoin digital currency platform to collect ransom money. In December 2013, ZDNet estimated based on Bitcoin transaction information that between 15 October and 18 December, the operators of CryptoLocker had procured about US$27 million from infected users.[34] The CryptoLocker technique was widely copied in the months following, including CryptoLocker 2.0 (though not to be related to CryptoLocker), CryptoDefense (which initially contained a major design flaw that stored the private key on the infected system in a user-retrievable location, due to its use of Windows’ built-in encryption APIs),[24][35][36][37] and the August 2014 discovery of a Trojan specifically targeting network-attached storage devices produced by Synology.[38] In January 2015, it was reported that ransomware-styled attacks have occurred against individual websites via hacking, and through ransomware designed to target Linux-based web servers.[39][40][41]

Some ransomware strains have used proxies tied to Tor hidden services to connect to their command and control servers, increasing the difficulty of tracing the exact location of the criminals.[42][43] Furthermore, dark web vendors have increasingly started to offer the technology as a service.[43][44][45]

Symantec has classified ransomware to be the most dangerous cyber threat.[46]

Non-encrypting ransomware

In August 2010, Russian authorities arrested nine individuals connected to a ransomware Trojan known as WinLock. Unlike the previous Gpcode Trojan, WinLock did not use encryption. Instead, WinLock trivially restricted access to the system by displaying pornographic images, and asked users to send a premium-rate SMS (costing around US$10) to receive a code that could be used to unlock their machines. The scam hit numerous users across Russia and neighboring countries—reportedly earning the group over US$16 million.[15][47]

In 2011, a ransomware Trojan surfaced that imitated the Windows Product Activation notice, and informed users that a system’s Windows installation had to be re-activated due to “[being a] victim of fraud”. An online activation option was offered (like the actual Windows activation process), but was unavailable, requiring the user to call one of six international numbers to input a 6-digit code. While the malware claimed that this call would be free, it was routed through a rogue operator in a country with high international phone rates, who placed the call on hold, causing the user to incur large international long distance charges.[13]

In February 2013, a ransomware Trojan based on the Stamp.EK exploit kit surfaced; the malware was distributed via sites hosted on the project hosting services SourceForge and GitHub that claimed to offer “fake nude pics” of celebrities.[48] In July 2013, an OS X-specific ransomware Trojan surfaced, which displays a web page that accuses the user of downloading pornography. Unlike its Windows-based counterparts, it does not block the entire computer, but simply exploits the behavior of the web browser itself to frustrate attempts to close the page through normal means.[49]

In July 2013, a 21-year-old man from Virginia, whose computer coincidentally did contain pornographic photographs of underaged girls with whom he had conducted sexualized communications, turned himself in to police after receiving and being deceived by ransomware purporting to be an FBI message accusing him of possessing child pornography. An investigation discovered the incriminating files, and the man was charged with child sexual abuse and possession of child pornography.[50]

Leakware (also called Doxware)

The converse of ransomware is a cryptovirology attack that threatens to publish stolen information from the victim’s computer system rather than deny the victim access to it.[51] In a leakware attack, malware exfiltrates sensitive host data either to the attacker or alternatively, to remote instances of the malware, and the attacker threatens to publish the victim’s data unless a ransom is paid. The attack was presented at West Point in 2003 and was summarized in the book Malicious Cryptography as follows, “The attack differs from the extortion attack in the following way. In the extortion attack, the victim is denied access to its own valuable information and has to pay to get it back, where in the attack that is presented here the victim retains access to the information but its disclosure is at the discretion of the computer virus”.[52] The attack is rooted in game theory and was originally dubbed “non-zero sum games and survivable malware”. The attack can yield monetary gain in cases where the malware acquires access to information that may damage the victim user or organization, e.g., reputational damage that could result from publishing proof that the attack itself was a success.

Mobile ransomware

With the increased popularity of ransomware on PC platforms, ransomware targeting mobile operating systems have also proliferated. Typically, mobile ransomware payloads are blockers, as there is little incentive to encrypt data since it can be easily restored via online synchronization.[53] Mobile ransomware typically targets the Android platform, as it allows applications to be installed from third-party sources.[53][54] The payload is typically distributed as an APK file installed by an unsuspecting user; it may attempt to display a blocking message over top of all other applications,[54] while another used a form of clickjacking to cause the user to give it “device administrator” privileges to achieve deeper access to the system.[55]

Different tactics have been used on iOS devices, such as exploiting iCloud accounts and using the Find My iPhone system to lock access to the device.[56] On iOS 10.3, Apple patched a bug in the handling of JavaScript pop-up windows in Safari that had been exploited by ransomware websites.[57]

Notable examples

Reveton

A Reveton payload, fraudulently claiming that the user must pay a fine to the Metropolitan Police Service

In 2012, a major ransomware Trojan known as Reveton began to spread. Based on the Citadel Trojan (which itself, is based on the Zeus Trojan), its payload displays a warning purportedly from a law enforcement agency claiming that the computer has been used for illegal activities, such as downloading unlicensed software or child pornography. Due to this behaviour, it is commonly referred to as the “Police Trojan”.[58][59][60] The warning informs the user that to unlock their system, they would have to pay a fine using a voucher from an anonymous prepaid cash service such as Ukash or Paysafecard. To increase the illusion that the computer is being tracked by law enforcement, the screen also displays the computer’s IP address, while some versions display footage from a victim’s webcam to give the illusion that the user is being recorded.[6][61]

Reveton initially began spreading in various European countries in early 2012.[6] Variants were localized with templates branded with the logos of different law enforcement organizations based on the user’s country; for example, variants used in the United Kingdom contained the branding of organizations such as the Metropolitan Police Service and the Police National E-Crime Unit. Another version contained the logo of the royalty collection society PRS for Music, which specifically accused the user of illegally downloading music.[62] In a statement warning the public about the malware, the Metropolitan Police clarified that they would never lock a computer in such a way as part of an investigation.[6][14]

In May 2012, Trend Micro threat researchers discovered templates for variations for the United States and Canada, suggesting that its authors may have been planning to target users in North America.[63] By August 2012, a new variant of Reveton began to spread in the United States, claiming to require the payment of a $200 fine to the FBI using a MoneyPak card.[7][8][61]In February 2013, a Russian citizen was arrested in Dubai by Spanish authorities for his connection to a crime ring that had been using Reveton; ten other individuals were arrested on money laundering charges.[64] In August 2014, Avast Software reported that it had found new variants of Reveton that also distribute password stealing malware as part of its payload.[65]

CryptoLocker

Encrypting ransomware reappeared in September 2013 with a Trojan known as CryptoLocker, which generated a 2048-bit RSA key pair and uploaded in turn to a command-and-control server, and used to encrypt files using a whitelist of specific file extensions. The malware threatened to delete the private key if a payment of Bitcoin or a pre-paid cash voucher was not made within 3 days of the infection. Due to the extremely large key size it uses, analysts and those affected by the Trojan considered CryptoLocker extremely difficult to repair.[23][66][67][68]Even after the deadline passed, the private key could still be obtained using an online tool, but the price would increase to 10 BTC—which cost approximately US$2300 as of November 2013.[69][70]

CryptoLocker was isolated by the seizure of the Gameover ZeuS botnet as part of Operation Tovar, as officially announced by the U.S. Department of Justice on 2 June 2014. The Department of Justice also publicly issued an indictment against the Russian hacker Evgeniy Bogachev for his alleged involvement in the botnet.[71][72] It was estimated that at least US$3 million was extorted with the malware before the shutdown.[10]

CryptoLocker.F and TorrentLocker

In September 2014, a wave of ransomware Trojans surfaced that first targeted users in Australia, under the names CryptoWall and CryptoLocker (which is, as with CryptoLocker 2.0, unrelated to the original CryptoLocker). The Trojans spread via fraudulent e-mails claiming to be failed parcel delivery notices from Australia Post; to evade detection by automatic e-mail scanners that follow all links on a page to scan for malware, this variant was designed to require users to visit a web page and enter a CAPTCHA code before the payload is actually downloaded, preventing such automated processes from being able to scan the payload. Symantec determined that these new variants, which it identified as CryptoLocker.F, were again, unrelated to the original CryptoLocker due to differences in their operation.[73][74] A notable victim of the Trojans was the Australian Broadcasting Corporation; live programming on its television news channel ABC News 24 was disrupted for half an hour and shifted to Melbourne studios due to a CryptoWall infection on computers at its Sydney studio.[75][76][77]

Another Trojan in this wave, TorrentLocker, initially contained a design flaw comparable to CryptoDefense; it used the same keystream for every infected computer, making the encryption trivial to overcome. However, this flaw was later fixed.[35] By late-November 2014, it was estimated that over 9,000 users had been infected by TorrentLocker in Australia alone, trailing only Turkey with 11,700 infections.[78]

CryptoWall

Another major ransomware Trojan targeting Windows, CryptoWall, first appeared in 2014. One strain of CryptoWall was distributed as part of a malvertising campaign on the Zedo ad network in late-September 2014 that targeted several major websites; the ads redirected to rogue websites that used browser plugin exploits to download the payload. A Barracuda Networks researcher also noted that the payload was signed with a digital signature in an effort to appear trustworthy to security software.[79] CryptoWall 3.0 used a payload written in JavaScript as part of an email attachment, which downloads executables disguised as JPG images. To further evade detection, the malware creates new instances of explorer.exe and svchost.exe to communicate with its servers. When encrypting files, the malware also deletes volume shadow copies, and installs spyware that steals passwords and Bitcoin wallets.[80]

The FBI reported in June 2015 that nearly 1,000 victims had contacted the bureau’s Internet Crime Complaint Center to report CryptoWall infections, and estimated losses of at least $18 million.[11]

The most recent version, CryptoWall 4.0, enhanced its code to avoid antivirus detection, and encrypts not only the data in files but also the file names.[81]

Fusob

Fusob is one of the major mobile ransomware families. Between April 2015 and March 2016, about 56 percent of accounted mobile ransomwares was Fusob.[82]

Like a typical mobile ransomware, it employs scare tactics to extort people to pay a ransom.[83] The program pretends to be an accusatory authority, demanding the victim to pay a fine from $100 to $200 USD or otherwise face a fictitious charge. Rather surprisingly, Fusob suggests using iTunes gift cards for payment. Also, a timer clicking down on the screen adds to the users’ anxiety as well.

In order to infect devices, Fusob masquerades as a pornographic video player. Thus, victims, thinking it is harmless, unwittingly download Fusob.[84]

When Fusob is installed, it first checks the language used in the device. If it uses Russian or certain Eastern European languages, Fusob does nothing. Otherwise, it proceeds on to lock the device and demand ransom. Among victims, about 40% of them are in Germany with the United Kingdom and the United States following with 14.5% and 11.4% respectively.

Fusob has lots in common with Small, which is another major family of mobile ransomware. They represented over 93% of mobile ransomwares between 2015 and 2016.

WannaCry

In May 2017, the WannaCry ransomware attack spread though the Internet, using an exploit vector that Microsoft had issued a “Critical” patch for (MS17-010) two months before on March 14, 2017. The ransomware attack infected over 75,000 users in over 99 countries, using 20 different languages to demand money from users. The attack affected Telefónica and several other large companies in Spain, as well as parts of the British National Health Service (NHS),[85] FedEx, Deutsche Bahn, as well as the Russian Interior Ministry and Russian telecom MegaFon.[86]

Mitigation

As with other forms of malware, security software might not detect a ransomware payload, or, especially in the case of encrypting payloads, only after encryption is under way or complete, particularly if a new version unknown to the protective software is distributed.[87] If an attack is suspected or detected in its early stages, it takes some time for encryption to take place; immediate removal of the malware (a relatively simple process) before it has completed would stop further damage to data, without salvaging any already lost.[88][89]

Alternately, new categories of security software, specifically deception technology, can detect ransomware without using a signature-based approach. Deception technology utilizes fake SMB shares which surround real IT assets. These fake SMB data shares deceive ransomware, tie the ransomware up encrypting these false SMB data shares, alert and notify cyber security teams which can then shut down the attack and return the organization to normal operations. There are multiple vendors[90] that support this capability with multiple announcements in 2016.[91]

Security experts have suggested precautionary measures for dealing with ransomware. Using software or other security policies to block known payloads from launching will help to prevent infection, but will not protect against all attacks. Keeping “offline” backups of data stored in locations inaccessible to the infected computer, such as external storage drives, prevents them from being accessed by the ransomware, thus accelerating data restoration.[23][92]

There are a number of tools intended specifically to decrypt files locked by ransomware, although successful recovery may not be possible.[2][93] If the same encryption key is used for all files, decryption tools use files for which there are both uncorrupted backups (plaintext in the jargon of cryptanalysis) and encrypted copies; recovery of the key, if it is possible, may take several days.[94]

See also

References

WannaCry ransomware attack

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
WannaCry ransomware attack
Wana Decrypt0r screenshot.png

Screenshot of the ransom note left on an infected system
Date 12 May 2017 (ongoing)
Location Worldwide
Also known as WannaCrypt, WanaCrypt0r
Type Cyber-attack
Theme Ransomware encrypting hard disk with $300 demand
Cause EternalBlue exploit
Participants Unknown
Outcome More than 230,000 computers infected[1]

WannaCry, also known by the names WannaCrypt,[2] WanaCrypt0r 2.0,[3] Wanna Decryptor[4] and other similar names, is a ransomware program targeting Microsoft Windows. In May 2017, a large cyber-attack using it was launched, infecting over 230,000 computers in 99 countries, demanding ransom payments in bitcoin in 28 languages. The attack has been described by Europol as unprecedented in scale.[5]

The attack affected Telefónica and several other large companies in Spain, as well as parts of Britain’s National Health Service (NHS),[6] FedEx and Deutsche Bahn.[7][8][9] Other targets in at least 99 countries were also reported to have been attacked around the same time.[10][11]

WannaCry is believed to use the EternalBlue exploit, which was developed by the U.S. National Security Agency[12][13] to attack computers running Microsoft Windows operating systems.[3][14] Although a patch to remove the underlying vulnerability had been issued on 14 March 2017,[15] delays in applying security updates left some users and organisations vulnerable.[16] Microsoft has taken the unusual step of releasing updates for the unsupported Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 and patches for Windows 8 operating systems.[2][17]

A kill switch has been found in the code, which prevents new infections. This has been activated by researchers and should slow or stop the spread. However, different versions of the attack may be released and all vulnerable systems still have an urgent need to be patched.

Background

The purported infection vector, EternalBlue, was released by the hacker group The Shadow Brokers on 14 April 2017,[18][19] along with other tools apparently leaked from Equation Group, which is believed to be part of the United States National Security Agency.[20][21]

EternalBlue exploits vulnerability MS17-010[15] in Microsoft‘s implementation of the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol. Microsoft had released a “Critical” advisory, along with an update patch to plug the vulnerability a month before, on 14 March 2017.[15] This patch only fixed Windows Vista and later operating systems but not the older Windows XP.

Countries initially affected[22]

On 12 May 2017, WannaCry began affecting computers worldwide.[23] After gaining access to the computers, via local area network (LAN), an email attachment, or drive-by download, the ransomware encrypts the computer’s hard disk drive,[24][25] then attempts to exploit the SMB vulnerability to spread to random computers on the Internet,[26] and “laterally” between computers on the same LAN.[27] As with other modern ransomware, the payload displays a message informing the user that files have been encrypted, and demands a payment of $300 in bitcoin within three days.

The Windows vulnerability is not a zero-day flaw, but one for which Microsoft had made available a security patch on 14 March 2017,[15] nearly two months before the attack. The patch was to the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol used by Windows.[28] Organizations that lacked this security patch were affected for this reason, although there is so far no evidence that any were specifically targeted by the ransomware developers.[28] Any organization still running the older Windows XP[29] were at particularly high risk because until 13 May,[2] no security patches had been released since April 2014.[30] Following the attack, Microsoft released a security patch for Windows XP.[2]

According to Wired, affected systems will also have had the DOUBLEPULSAR backdoor installed; this will also need to be removed when systems are cleaned up.[31]

Impact

The ransomware campaign was unprecedented in scale according to Europol.[5] The attack affected many NHS hospitals in the UK.[32] On 12 May, some NHS services had to turn away non-critical emergencies, and some ambulances were diverted.[7][33] In 2016, thousands of computers in 42 separate NHS trusts in England were reported to be still running Windows XP.[29]Nissan Motor Manufacturing UK in Tyne and Wear, one of Europe‘s most productive car manufacturing plants, halted production after the ransomware infected some of their systems. Renault also stopped production at several sites in an attempt to stop the spread of the ransomware.[34][35]

List of affected organizations

Response

Several hours after the initial release of the ransomware on 12 May 2017, a “kill switch” hardcoded into the malware was discovered. This allowed the spread of the initial infection to be halted by registering a domain name.[52] However, the kill switch appears to be a coding mistake on the part of the criminals, and variants without the kill switch are expected to be created.[53][54]

Reactions

Upon learning about the impact on the NHS, Edward Snowden said that if the NSA “had privately disclosed the flaw used to attack hospitals when they found it, not when they lost it, [the attack] may not have happened”.[55]

British Prime Minister Theresa May said of the ransomware, “This is not targeted at the NHS. It is an international attack. A number of countries and organizations have been affected.”[56]

Microsoft has created security patches for its now-unsupported versions of Windows, including Windows XP, Windows 8 and Windows Server 2003.[57]

See also

___

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United States Intelligence Community

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
United States Intelligence Community
United States Intelligence Community Seal.svg

Seal of the United States Intelligence Community
Agency overview
Formed December 4, 1981
Agency executive

The United States Intelligence Community (IC)[1] is a federation of 16 separate United States government agencies that work separately and together to conduct intelligence activities considered necessary for the conduct of foreign relations and national security of the United States. Member organizations of the IC include intelligence agencies, military intelligence, and civilian intelligence and analysis offices within federal executive departments. The IC is headed by the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), who reports to the President of the United States.

Among their varied responsibilities, the members of the Community collect and produce foreign and domestic intelligence, contribute to military planning, and perform espionage. The IC was established by Executive Order 12333, signed on December 4, 1981, by U.S. PresidentRonald Reagan.[2]

The Washington Post reported in 2010 that there were 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies in 10,000 locations in the United States that are working on counterterrorism, homeland security, and intelligence, and that the intelligence community as a whole includes 854,000 people holding top-secret clearances.[3] According to a 2008 study by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, private contractors make up 29% of the workforce in the U.S. intelligence community and account for 49% of their personnel budgets.[4]

Etymology

The term “Intelligence Community” was first used during Lt. Gen. Walter Bedell Smith‘s tenure as Director of Central Intelligence (1950–1953).[5]

History

Intelligence is information that agencies collect, analyze, and distribute in response to government leaders’ questions and requirements. Intelligence is a broad term that entails:

Collection, analysis, and production of sensitive information to support national security leaders, including policymakers, military commanders, and Members of Congress. Safeguarding these processes and this information through counterintelligence activities. Execution of covert operations approved by the President. The IC strives to provide valuable insight on important issues by gathering raw intelligence, analyzing that data in context, and producing timely and relevant products for customers at all levels of national security—from the war-fighter on the ground to the President in Washington.[6]

Executive Order 12333 charged the IC with six primary objectives:[7]

  • Collection of information needed by the President, the National Security Council, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, and other executive branch officials for the performance of their duties and responsibilities;
  • Production and dissemination of intelligence;
  • Collection of information concerning, and the conduct of activities to protect against, intelligence activities directed against the U.S., international terrorist and/or narcotics activities, and other hostile activities directed against the U.S. by foreign powers, organizations, persons and their agents;
  • Special activities (defined as activities conducted in support of U.S. foreign policy objectives abroad which are planned and executed so that the “role of the United States Government is not apparent or acknowledged publicly”, and functions in support of such activities, but which are not intended to influence United States political processes, public opinion, policies, or media and do not include diplomatic activities or the collection and production of intelligence or related support functions);
  • Administrative and support activities within the United States and abroad necessary for the performance of authorized activities and
  • Such other intelligence activities as the President may direct from time to time.

Organization

Members

The IC is headed by the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), whose statutory leadership is exercised through the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). The 16 members of the IC are:[8]

The official seals of U.S. Intelligence Community members.

Agency/Office Parent Agency Federal Department Date est.
Defense Intelligence Agency none Defense 1961
National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency none Defense 1996
National Reconnaissance Office none Defense 1961
National Security Agency none Defense 1952
Military Intelligence Corps United States Army Defense 1863
Office of Naval Intelligence United States Navy Defense 1882
Twenty-Fifth Air Force United States Air Force Defense 1948
Marine Corps Intelligence United States Marine Corps Defense 1939
Coast Guard Intelligence United States Coast Guard Homeland Security 1915
Office of Intelligence and Analysis none Homeland Security 2007
Central Intelligence Agency none Independent agency 1947
Bureau of Intelligence and Research none State 1945
Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence none Treasury 2004
Office of National Security Intelligence Drug Enforcement Administration Justice 2006
Intelligence Branch Federal Bureau of Investigation Justice 2005
Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence none Energy 1977

Programs

The IC performs under two separate programs:

  • The National Intelligence Program (NIP), formerly known as the National Foreign Intelligence Program as defined by the National Security Act of 1947 (as amended), “refers to all programs, projects, and activities of the intelligence community, as well as any other programs of the intelligence community designated jointly by the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) and the head of a United States department or agency or by the President. Such term does not include programs, projects, or activities of the military departments to acquire intelligence solely for the planning and conduct of tactical military operations by United States Armed Forces”. Under the law, the DNI is responsible for directing and overseeing the NIP, though the ability to do so is limited (see the Organization structure and leadership section).
  • The Military Intelligence Program (MIP) refers to the programs, projects, or activities of the military departments to acquire intelligence solely for the planning and conduct of tactical military operations by United States Armed Forces. The MIP is directed and controlled by the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence. In 2005 the Department of Defense combined the Joint Military Intelligence Program and the Tactical Intelligence and Related Activities program to form the MIP.

Since the definitions of the NIP and MIP overlap when they address military intelligence, assignment of intelligence activities to the NIP and MIP sometimes proves problematic.

Organizational structure and leadership

IC Circle.jpg

The overall organization of the IC is primarily governed by the National Security Act of 1947 (as amended) and Executive Order12333. The statutory organizational relationships were substantially revised with the 2004 Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act (IRTPA) amendments to the 1947 National Security Act.

Though the IC characterizes itself as a federation of its member elements, its overall structure is better characterized as a confederation due to its lack of a well-defined, unified leadership and governance structure. Prior to 2004, the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) was the head of the IC, in addition to being the director of the CIA. A major criticism of this arrangement was that the DCI had little or no actual authority over the budgetary authorities of the other IC agencies and therefore had limited influence over their operations.

Following the passage of IRTPA in 2004, the head of the IC is the Director of National Intelligence (DNI). The DNI exerts leadership of the IC primarily through statutory authorities under which he or she:

  • controls the “National Intelligence Program” budget;
  • establishes objectives, priorities, and guidance for the IC; and
  • manages and directs the tasking of, collection, analysis, production, and dissemination of national intelligence by elements of the IC.

However, the DNI has no authority to direct and control any element of the IC except his own staff—the Office of the DNI—neither does the DNI have the authority to hire or fire personnel in the IC except those on his own staff. The member elements in the executive branch are directed and controlled by their respective department heads, all cabinet-level officials reporting to the President. By law, only the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency reports to the DNI.

In light of major intelligence failures in recent years that called into question how well Intelligence Community ensures U.S. national security, particularly those identified by the 9/11 Commission (National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States), and the “WMD Commission” (Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction), the authorities and powers of the DNI and the overall organizational structure of the IC have become subject of intense debate in the United States.

Interagency cooperation

Previously, interagency cooperation and the flow of information among the member agencies was hindered by policies that sought to limit the pooling of information out of privacy and security concerns. Attempts to modernize and facilitate interagency cooperation within the IC include technological, structural, procedural, and cultural dimensions. Examples include the Intellipediawiki of encyclopedic security-related information; the creation of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, National Intelligence Centers, Program Manager Information Sharing Environment, and Information Sharing Council; legal and policy frameworks set by the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, information sharing Executive Orders 13354 and Executive Order 13388, and the 2005 National Intelligence Strategy.

Budget

Data visualization of U.S. intelligence black budget (2013)

The U.S. intelligence budget (excluding the Military Intelligence Program) in fiscal year 2013 was appropriated as $52.7 billion, and reduced by the amount sequestered to $49.0 billion.[9] In fiscal year2012 it peaked at $53.9 billion, according to a disclosure required under a recent law implementing recommendations of the 9/11 Commission.[10]The 2012 figure was up from $53.1 billion in 2010,[11] $49.8 billion in 2009,[12] $47.5 billion in 2008,[13] $43.5 billion in 2007,[14] and $40.9 billion in 2006.[15]

About 70 percent of the intelligence budget went to contractors for the procurement of technology and services (including analysis), according to the May 2007 chart from the ODNI. Intelligence spending has increased by a third over ten years ago, in inflation-adjusted dollars, according to the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.[citation needed]

In a statement on the release of newdeclassified figures, DNI Mike McConnell said[when?] there would be no additional disclosures of classified budget information beyond the overall spending figure because “such disclosures could harm national security”. How the money is divided among the 16 intelligence agencies and what it is spent on is classified. It includes salaries for about 100,000 people, multibillion-dollar satellite programs, aircraft, weapons, electronic sensors, intelligence analysis, spies, computers, and software.

On August 29, 2013 the Washington Post published the summary of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s multivolume FY 2013 Congressional Budget Justification, the U.S. intelligence community’s top-secret “black budget.”[16][17][18] The IC’s FY 2013 budget details, how the 16 spy agencies use the money and how it performs against the goals set by the president and Congress. Experts said that access to such details about U.S. spy programs is without precedent. Steven Aftergood, Federation of American Scientists, which provides analyses of national security issues stated that “It was a titanic struggle just to get the top-line budget number disclosed, and that has only been done consistently since 2007 … but a real grasp of the structure and operations of the intelligence bureaucracy has been totally beyond public reach. This kind of material, even on a historical basis, has simply not been available.”[19] Access to budget details will enable an informed public debate on intelligence spending for the first time said the co-chair of the 9/11 Commission Lee H. Hamilton. He added that Americans should not be excluded from the budget process because the intelligence community has a profound impact on the life of ordinary Americans.[19]

Oversight

Intelligence Community Oversight duties are distributed to both the Executive and Legislative branches. Primary Executive oversight is performed by the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, the Joint Intelligence Community Council, the Office of the Inspector General, and the Office of Management and Budget. Primary congressional oversight jurisdiction over the IC is assigned to two committees: the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. The House Armed Services Committee and Senate Armed Services Committee draft bills to annually authorize the budgets of DoD intelligence activities, and both the House and Senate appropriations committees annually draft bills to appropriate the budgets of the IC. The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs took a leading role in formulating the intelligence reform legislation in the 108th Congress.

See also

References

  1. Jump up^ Agrawal, Nina. “There’s more than the CIA and FBI: The 17 agencies that make up the U.S. intelligence community”. latimes.com. Retrieved 2017-01-30.
  2. Jump up^ “Executive Order 12333”. Cia.gov. Retrieved 2013-01-23.
  3. Jump up^ Dana Priest & William M Arkin (19 July 2010). “A hidden world, growing beyond control”. The Washington Post.
  4. Jump up^ Priest, Dana (2011). Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State. Little, Brown and Company. p. 320. ISBN 0-316-18221-4.
  5. Jump up^ Michael Warner; Kenneth McDonald. “US Intelligence Community Reform Studies Since 1947” (PDF). CIA. p. 4. Retrieved 28 June 2013.
  6. Jump up^ Rosenbach, Eric & Aki J. Peritz (12 June 2009). “Confrontation or Collaboration? Congress and the Intelligence Community” (PDF). Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School. Retrieved 21 July 2009.
  7. Jump up^ Executive Order 12333 text
  8. Jump up^ User, Super. “Members of the IC”.
  9. Jump up^ “DNI Releases Budget Figure for 2013 National Intelligence Program”. Office of the Director of National Intelligence. 30 October 2013. Retrieved 2 August 2014.
  10. Jump up^ DNI Releases FY 2012 Appropriated Budget Figure. Dni.gov (2012-10-30). Retrieved on 2013-08-16.
  11. Jump up^ “DNI Releases Budget Figure for 2010 National Intelligence Program”(PDF). Office of the Director of National Intelligence. 2010-10-28. Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  12. Jump up^ “DNI Releases Budget Figure for 2009 National Intelligence Program”(PDF). Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  13. Jump up^ “DNI Releases Budget Figure for 2008 National Intelligence Program”(PDF). Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  14. Jump up^ “DNI Releases Budget Figure for 2007 National Intelligence Program”(PDF). Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  15. Jump up^ Hacket, John F. (2010-10-28). “FY2006 National Intelligence Program Budget, 10-28-10” (PDF). Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  16. Jump up^ Matt DeLong (29 August 2013). “Inside the 2013 U.S. intelligence ‘black budget'”. The Washington Post. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  17. Jump up^ Matthews, Dylan (29 August 2013). “America’s secret intelligence budget, in 11 (nay, 13) charts”. The Washington Post. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  18. Jump up^ DeLong, Matt (29 August 2013). “2013 U.S. intelligence budget: Additional resources”. The Washington Post. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  19. ^ Jump up to:a b Barton Gellman & Greg Miller (29 August 2013). “U.S. spy network’s successes, failures and objectives detailed in ‘black budget’ summary”. The Washington Post. Retrieved 31 August 2013.

Further reading

External links

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Intelligence_Community

National Security Agency

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
National Security Agency
Seal of the U.S. National Security Agency.svg

Seal of the National Security Agency
Flag of the U.S. National Security Agency.svg

Flag of the National Security Agency
National Security Agency headquarters, Fort Meade, Maryland.jpg
NSA Headquarters, Fort Meade, Maryland
Agency overview
Formed November 4, 1952; 64 years ago[1]
Preceding agency
  • Armed Forces Security Agency
Headquarters Fort Meade, Maryland, U.S.
39°6′32″N 76°46′17″WCoordinates: 39°6′32″N 76°46′17″W
Motto “Defending Our Nation. Securing The Future.”
Employees Classified (30,000–40,000 estimate)[2][3][4][5]
Annual budget Classified (estimated $10.8 billion, 2013)[6][7]
Agency executives
Parent agency United States Department of Defense
Website www.nsa.gov

The National Security Agency (NSA) is a military intelligence organization and a constituent of the United States Department of Defense (DOD). The NSA is responsible for global monitoring, collection, and processing of information and data for foreign intelligence and counterintelligence purposes, a discipline known as signals intelligence (SIGINT). NSA is concurrently charged with protection of U.S. government communications and information systems against penetration and network warfare.[8][9] Although many of NSA’s programs rely on “passive” electronic collection, the agency is authorized to accomplish its mission through active clandestine means,[10] among which are physically bugging electronic systems[11] and allegedly engaging in sabotage through subversive software.[12][13] Moreover, NSA maintains physical presence in a large number of countries across the globe, where its Special Collection Service (SCS) inserts eavesdropping devices in difficult-to-reach places. SCS collection tactics allegedly encompass “close surveillance, burglary, wiretapping, breaking and entering.”[14][15]

Unlike the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), both of which specialize primarily in foreign human espionage, NSA does not unilaterally conduct human-source intelligence gathering, despite often being portrayed so in popular culture. Instead, NSA is entrusted with assistance to and coordination of SIGINT elements at other government organizations, which are prevented by law from engaging in such activities without the approval of the NSA via the Defense Secretary.[16] As part of these streamlining responsibilities, the agency has a co-located organization called the Central Security Service (CSS), which was created to facilitate cooperation between NSA and other U.S. military cryptanalysis components. Additionally, the NSA Director simultaneously serves as the Commander of the United States Cyber Command and as Chief of the Central Security Service.

Originating as a unit to decipher coded communications in World War II, it was officially formed as the NSA by President Harry S. Truman in 1952. Since then, it has become one of the largest U.S. intelligence organizations in terms of personnel and budget,[6][17] operating as part of the Department of Defense and simultaneously reporting to the Director of National Intelligence.

NSA surveillance has been a matter of political controversy on several occasions, such as its spying on anti-Vietnam-war leaders or economic espionage. In 2013, the extent of some of the NSA’s secret surveillance programs was revealed to the public by Edward Snowden. According to the leaked documents, the NSA intercepts the communications of over a billion people worldwide, many of whom are United States citizens, and tracks the movement of hundreds of millions of people using cellphones. Internationally, research has pointed to the NSA’s ability to surveil the domestic Internet traffic of foreign countries through “boomerang routing”.[18]

Contents

 [show

History

Army predecessor

The origins of the National Security Agency can be traced back to April 28, 1917, three weeks after the U.S. Congress declared war on Germany in World War I. A code and cipher decryption unit was established as the Cable and Telegraph Section which was also known as the Cipher Bureau. It was headquartered in Washington, D.C. and was part of the war effort under the executive branch without direct Congressional authorization. During the course of the war it was relocated in the army’s organizational chart several times. On July 5, 1917, Herbert O. Yardley was assigned to head the unit. At that point, the unit consisted of Yardley and two civilian clerks. It absorbed the navy’s cryptoanalysis functions in July 1918. World War I ended on November 11, 1918, and MI-8 moved to New York City on May 20, 1919, where it continued intelligence activities as the Code Compilation Company under the direction of Yardley.[19][20]

Black Chamber

Western Union allowed MI-8 to monitor telegraphic communications passing through the company’s wires until 1929.[21]

MI-8 also operated the so-called “Black Chamber“.[22] The Black Chamber was located on East 37th Street in Manhattan. Its purpose was to crack the communications codes of foreign governments. Jointly supported by the State Department and the War Department, the chamber persuaded Western Union, the largest U.S. telegram company, to allow government officials to monitor private communications passing through the company’s wires.[23]

Other “Black Chambers” were also found in Europe. They were established by the French and British governments to read the letters of targeted individuals, employing a variety of techniques to surreptitiously open, copy, and reseal correspondence before forwarding it to unsuspecting recipients.[24]

Despite the American Black Chamber’s initial successes, it was shut down in 1929 by U.S. Secretary of State Henry L. Stimson, who defended his decision by stating: “Gentlemen do not read each other’s mail”.[21]

World War II and its aftermath

During World War II, the Signal Security Agency (SSA) was created to intercept and decipher the communications of the Axis powers.[25] When the war ended, the SSA was reorganized as the Army Security Agency (ASA), and it was placed under the leadership of the Director of Military Intelligence.[25]

On May 20, 1949, all cryptologic activities were centralized under a national organization called the Armed Forces Security Agency (AFSA).[25] This organization was originally established within the U.S. Department of Defense under the command of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.[26] The AFSA was tasked to direct Department of Defense communications and electronic intelligence activities, except those of U.S. military intelligence units.[26] However, the AFSA was unable to centralize communications intelligence and failed to coordinate with civilian agencies that shared its interests such as the Department of State, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).[26] In December 1951, President Harry S. Truman ordered a panel to investigate how AFSA had failed to achieve its goals. The results of the investigation led to improvements and its redesignation as the National Security Agency.[27]

The agency was formally established by Truman in a memorandum of October 24, 1952, that revised National Security Council Intelligence Directive (NSCID) 9.[28] Since President Truman’s memo was a classified document,[28] the existence of the NSA was not known to the public at that time. Due to its ultra-secrecy the U.S. intelligence community referred to the NSA as “No Such Agency”.[29]

Vietnam War

In the 1960s, the NSA played a key role in expanding America’s commitment to the Vietnam War by providing evidence of a North Vietnamese attack on the American destroyer USS Maddox during the Gulf of Tonkin incident.[30]

A secret operation, code-named “MINARET“, was set up by the NSA to monitor the phone communications of Senators Frank Church and Howard Baker, as well as major civil rights leaders, including Martin Luther King, Jr., and prominent U.S. journalists and athletes who criticized the Vietnam War.[31] However, the project turned out to be controversial, and an internal review by the NSA concluded that its Minaret program was “disreputable if not outright illegal”.[31]

The NSA mounted a major effort to secure tactical communications among U.S. forces during the war with mixed success. The NESTOR family of compatible secure voice systems it developed was widely deployed during the Vietnam War, with about 30,000 NESTOR sets produced. However a variety of technical and operational problems limited their use, allowing the North Vietnamese to exploit intercepted U.S. communications.[32] :Vol I, p.79

Church Committee hearings

In the aftermath of the Watergate scandal, a congressional hearing in 1975 led by Sen. Frank Church[33] revealed that the NSA, in collaboration with Britain’s SIGINT intelligence agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), had routinely intercepted the international communications of prominent anti-Vietnam war leaders such as Jane Fonda and Dr. Benjamin Spock.[34] Following the resignation of President Richard Nixon, there were several investigations of suspected misuse of FBI, CIA and NSA facilities.[35] Senator Frank Church uncovered previously unknown activity,[35] such as a CIA plot (ordered by the administration of President John F. Kennedy) to assassinate Fidel Castro.[36] The investigation also uncovered NSA’s wiretaps on targeted American citizens.[37]

After the Church Committee hearings, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 was passed into law. This was designed to limit the practice of mass surveillance in the United States.[35]

From 1980s to 1990s

In 1986, the NSA intercepted the communications of the Libyan government during the immediate aftermath of the Berlin discotheque bombing. The White House asserted that the NSA interception had provided “irrefutable” evidence that Libya was behind the bombing, which U.S. President Ronald Reagan cited as a justification for the 1986 United States bombing of Libya.[38][39]

In 1999, a multi-year investigation by the European Parliament highlighted the NSA’s role in economic espionage in a report entitled ‘Development of Surveillance Technology and Risk of Abuse of Economic Information’.[40] That year, the NSA founded the NSA Hall of Honor, a memorial at the National Cryptologic Museum in Fort Meade, Maryland.[41] The memorial is a, “tribute to the pioneers and heroes who have made significant and long-lasting contributions to American cryptology”.[41] NSA employees must be retired for more than fifteen years to qualify for the memorial.[41]

NSA’s infrastructure deteriorated in the 1990s as defense budget cuts resulted in maintenance deferrals. On January 24, 2000, NSA headquarters suffered a total network outage for three days caused by an overloaded network. Incoming traffic was successfully stored on agency servers, but it could not be directed and processed. The agency carried out emergency repairs at a cost of $3 million to get the system running again. (Some incoming traffic was also directed instead to Britain’s GCHQ for the time being.) Director Michael Hayden called the outage a “wake-up call” for the need to invest in the agency’s infrastructure.[42]

War on Terror

After Osama bin Laden moved to Afghanistan in the 1980s, the NSA recorded all of his phone calls via satellite, logging over 2,000 minutes of conversation[43]

In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, the NSA created new IT systems to deal with the flood of information from new technologies like the Internet and cellphones. ThinThread contained advanced data mining capabilities. It also had a “privacy mechanism”; surveillance was stored encrypted; decryption required a warrant. The research done under this program may have contributed to the technology used in later systems. ThinThread was cancelled when Michael Hayden chose Trailblazer, which did not include ThinThread’s privacy system.[44]

Trailblazer Project ramped up in 2002 and was worked on by Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), Boeing, Computer Sciences Corporation, IBM, and Litton Industries. Some NSA whistleblowers complained internally about major problems surrounding Trailblazer. This led to investigations by Congress and the NSA and DoD Inspectors General. The project was cancelled in early 2004.

Turbulence started in 2005. It was developed in small, inexpensive “test” pieces, rather than one grand plan like Trailblazer. It also included offensive cyber-warfare capabilities, like injecting malware into remote computers. Congress criticized Turbulence in 2007 for having similar bureaucratic problems as Trailblazer.[45] It was to be a realization of information processing at higher speeds in cyberspace.[46]

Global surveillance disclosures

The massive extent of the NSA’s spying, both foreign and domestic, was revealed to the public in a series of detailed disclosures of internal NSA documents beginning in June 2013. Most of the disclosures were leaked by former NSA contractor, Edward Snowden.

Scope of surveillance

It was revealed that the NSA intercepts telephone and Internet communications of over a billion people worldwide, seeking information on terrorism as well as foreign politics, economics[47] and “commercial secrets”.[48] In a declassified document it was revealed that 17,835 phone lines were on an improperly permitted “alert list” from 2006 to 2009 in breach of compliance, which tagged these phone lines for daily monitoring.[49][50][51] Eleven percent of these monitored phone lines met the agency’s legal standard for “reasonably articulable suspicion” (RAS).[49][52]

A dedicated unit of the NSA locates targets for the CIA for extrajudicial assassination in the Middle East.[53] The NSA has also spied extensively on the European Union, the United Nations and numerous governments including allies and trading partners in Europe, South America and Asia.[54][55]

The NSA tracks the locations of hundreds of millions of cellphones per day, allowing it to map people’s movements and relationships in detail.[56] It reportedly has access to all communications made via Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, YouTube, AOL, Skype, Apple and Paltalk,[57] and collects hundreds of millions of contact lists from personal email and instant messaging accounts each year.[58] It has also managed to weaken much of the encryption used on the Internet (by collaborating with, coercing or otherwise infiltrating numerous technology companies), so that the majority of Internet privacy is now vulnerable to the NSA and other attackers.[59][60]

Domestically, the NSA collects and stores metadata records of phone calls,[61] including over 120 million US Verizon subscribers,[62] as well as Internet communications,[57] relying on a secret interpretation of the Patriot Act whereby the entirety of US communications may be considered “relevant” to a terrorism investigation if it is expected that even a tiny minority may relate to terrorism.[63] The NSA supplies foreign intercepts to the DEA, IRS and other law enforcement agencies, who use these to initiate criminal investigations. Federal agents are then instructed to “recreate” the investigative trail via parallel construction.[64]

The NSA also spies on influential Muslims to obtain information that could be used to discredit them, such as their use of pornography. The targets, both domestic and abroad, are not suspected of any crime but hold religious or political views deemed “radical” by the NSA.[65]

Although NSA’s surveillance activities are controversial, government agencies and private enterprises have common needs, and sometimes cooperate at subtle and complex technical levels. Big data is becoming more advantageous, justifying the cost of required computer hardware, and social media lead the trend. The interests of NSA and Silicon Valley began to converge as advances in computer storage technology drastically reduced the costs of storing enormous amounts of data and at the same time the value of the data for use in consumer marketing began to rise. On the other hand, social media sites are growing as voluntary data mining operations on a scale that rivals or exceeds anything the government could attempt on its own.[66]

According to a report in The Washington Post in July 2014, relying on information provided by Snowden, 90% of those placed under surveillance in the U.S. are ordinary Americans, and are not the intended targets. The newspaper said it had examined documents including emails, text messages, and online accounts that support the claim.[67]

Legal accountability

Despite President Obama’s claims that these programs have congressional oversight, members of Congress were unaware of the existence of these NSA programs or the secret interpretation of the Patriot Act, and have consistently been denied access to basic information about them.[68] Obama has also claimed that there are legal checks in place to prevent inappropriate access of data and that there have been no examples of abuse;[69] however, the secret FISC court charged with regulating the NSA’s activities is, according to its chief judge, incapable of investigating or verifying how often the NSA breaks even its own secret rules.[70] It has since been reported that the NSA violated its own rules on data access thousands of times a year, many of these violations involving large-scale data interceptions;[71] and that NSA officers have even used data intercepts to spy on love interests.[72] The NSA has “generally disregarded the special rules for disseminating United States person information” by illegally sharing its intercepts with other law enforcement agencies.[73] A March 2009 opinion of the FISC court, released by court order, states that protocols restricting data queries had been “so frequently and systemically violated that it can be fairly said that this critical element of the overall … regime has never functioned effectively.”[74][75] In 2011 the same court noted that the “volume and nature” of the NSA’s bulk foreign Internet intercepts was “fundamentally different from what the court had been led to believe”.[73] Email contact lists (including those of US citizens) are collected at numerous foreign locations to work around the illegality of doing so on US soil.[58]

Legal opinions on the NSA’s bulk collection program have differed. In mid-December 2013, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon ruled that the “almost-Orwellian” program likely violates the Constitution, and wrote, “I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’ than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval. Surely, such a program infringes on ‘that degree of privacy’ that the Founders enshrined in the Fourth Amendment. Indeed, I have little doubt that the author of our Constitution, James Madison, who cautioned us to beware ‘the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power,’ would be aghast.”[76]

Later that month, U.S. District Judge William Pauley ruled that the NSA’s collection of telephone records is legal and valuable in the fight against terrorism. In his opinion, he wrote, “a bulk telephony metadata collection program [is] a wide net that could find and isolate gossamer contacts among suspected terrorists in an ocean of seemingly disconnected data” and noted that a similar collection of data prior to 9/11 might have prevented the attack.[77]

An October 2014 United Nations report condemned mass surveillance by the United States and other countries as violating multiple international treaties and conventions that guarantee core privacy rights.[78]

Official responses

On March 20, 2013 the Director of National Intelligence, Lieutenant General James Clapper, testified before Congress that the NSA does not wittingly collect any kind of data on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans, but he retracted this in June after details of the PRISM program were published, and stated instead that meta-data of phone and Internet traffic are collected, but no actual message contents.[79] This was corroborated by the NSA Director, General Keith Alexander, before it was revealed that the XKeyscore program collects the contents of millions of emails from US citizens without warrant, as well as “nearly everything a user does on the Internet”. Alexander later admitted that “content” is collected, but stated that it is simply stored and never analyzed or searched unless there is “a nexus to al-Qaida or other terrorist groups”.[69]

Regarding the necessity of these NSA programs, Alexander stated on June 27 that the NSA’s bulk phone and Internet intercepts had been instrumental in preventing 54 terrorist “events”, including 13 in the US, and in all but one of these cases had provided the initial tip to “unravel the threat stream”.[80] On July 31 NSA Deputy Director John Inglis conceded to the Senate that these intercepts had not been vital in stopping any terrorist attacks, but were “close” to vital in identifying and convicting four San Diego men for sending US$8,930 to Al-Shabaab, a militia that conducts terrorism in Somalia.[81][82][83]

The U.S. government has aggressively sought to dismiss and challenge Fourth Amendment cases raised against it, and has granted retroactive immunity to ISPs and telecoms participating in domestic surveillance.[84][85] The U.S. military has acknowledged blocking access to parts of The Guardian website for thousands of defense personnel across the country,[86][87] and blocking the entire Guardian website for personnel stationed throughout Afghanistan, the Middle East, and South Asia.[88]

Organizational structure

Michael S. Rogers, the director of the NSA.

The NSA is led by the Director of the National Security Agency (DIRNSA), who also serves as Chief of the Central Security Service (CHCSS) and Commander of the United States Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM) and is the highest-ranking military official of these organizations. He is assisted by a Deputy Director, who is the highest-ranking civilian within the NSA/CSS.

NSA also has an Inspector General, head of the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), a General Counsel, head of the Office of the General Counsel (OGC) and a Director of Compliance, who is head of the Office of the Director of Compliance (ODOC).[89]

Unlike other intelligence organizations such as CIA or DIA, NSA has always been particularly reticent concerning its internal organizational structure.

As of the mid-1990s, the National Security Agency was organized into five Directorates:

  • The Operations Directorate, which was responsible for SIGINT collection and processing.
  • The Technology and Systems Directorate, which develops new technologies for SIGINT collection and processing.
  • The Information Systems Security Directorate, which was responsible for NSA’s communications and information security missions.
  • The Plans, Policy and Programs Directorate, which provided staff support and general direction for the Agency.
  • The Support Services Directorate, which provided logistical and administrative support activities.[90]

Each of these directorates consisted of several groups or elements, designated by a letter. There were for example the A Group, which was responsible for all SIGINT operations against the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, and G Group, which was responsible for SIGINT related to all non-communist countries. These groups were divided in units designated by an additional number, like unit A5 for breaking Soviet codes, and G6, being the office for the Middle East, North Africa, Cuba, Central and South America.[91][92]

Structure

As of 2013, NSA has about a dozen directorates, which are designated by a letter, although not all of them are publicly known. The directorates are divided in divisions and units starting with the letter of the parent directorate, followed by a number for the division, the sub-unit or a sub-sub-unit.

The main elements of the organizational structure of the NSA are:[93]

  • F – Directorate only known from unit F6, the Special Collection Service (SCS), which is a joint program created by CIA and NSA in 1978 to facilitate clandestine activities such as bugging computers throughout the world, using the expertise of both agencies.[94]
  • G – Directorate only known from unit G112, the office that manages the Senior Span platform, attached to the U2 spy planes.[95]
  • I – Information Assurance Directorate (IAD), which ensures availability, integrity, authentication, confidentiality, and non-repudiation of national security and telecommunications and information systems (national security systems).
  • J – Directorate only known from unit J2, the Cryptologic Intelligence Unit
  • L – Installation and Logistics
  • M – Human Resources
  • Q – Security and Counterintelligence
  • R – Research Directorate, which conducts research on signals intelligence and on information assurance for the U.S. Government.[96]
  • S – Signals Intelligence Directorate (SID), which is responsible for the collection, analysis, production and dissemination of signals intelligence. This directorate is led by a director and a deputy director. The SID consists of the following divisions:
    • S1 – Customer Relations
    • S2 – Analysis and Production Centers, with the following so-called Product Lines:
      • S2A: South Asia, S2B: China and Korea, S2C: International Security, S2E: Middle East/Asia, S2F: International Crime, S2G: Counter-proliferation, S2H: Russia, S2I: Counter-terrorism, S2J: Weapons and Space, S2T: Current Threats
    • S3 – Data Acquisition, with these divisions for the main collection programs:
      • S31 – Cryptanalysis and Exploitation Services (CES)
      • S32 – Tailored Access Operations (TAO), which hacks into foreign computers to conduct cyber-espionage and reportedly is “the largest and arguably the most important component of the NSA’s huge Signal Intelligence (SIGINT) Directorate, consisting of over 1,000 military and civilian computer hackers, intelligence analysts, targeting specialists, computer hardware and software designers, and electrical engineers.”[97]
      • S33 – Global Access Operations (GAO), which is responsible for intercepts from satellites and other international SIGINT platforms.[98] A tool which details and maps the information collected by this unit is code-named Boundless Informant.
      • S34 – Collections Strategies and Requirements Center
      • S35 – Special Source Operations (SSO), which is responsible for domestic and compartmented collection programs, like for example the PRISM program.[98] Special Source Operations is also mentioned in connection to the FAIRVIEW collection program.[99]
  • T – Technical Directorate (TD)
  • Directorate for Education and Training
  • Directorate for Corporate Leadership
  • Foreign Affairs Directorate, which acts as liaison with foreign intelligence services, counter-intelligence centers and the UKUSA-partners.
  • Acquisitions and Procurement Directorate
  • Information Sharing Services (ISS), led by a chief and a deputy chief.[100]

In the year 2000, a leadership team was formed, consisting of the Director, the Deputy Director and the Directors of the Signals Intelligence (SID), the Information Assurance (IAD) and the Technical Directorate (TD). The chiefs of other main NSA divisions became associate directors of the senior leadership team.[101]

After president George W. Bush initiated the President’s Surveillance Program (PSP) in 2001, the NSA created a 24-hour Metadata Analysis Center (MAC), followed in 2004 by the Advanced Analysis Division (AAD), with the mission of analyzing content, Internet metadata and telephone metadata. Both units were part of the Signals Intelligence Directorate.[102]

A 2016 proposal would combine the Signals Intelligence Directorate with the Information Assurance Directorate into a Directorate of Operations.[103]

Watch centers

The NSA maintains at least two watch centers:

  • National Security Operations Center (NSOC), which is the NSA’s current operations center and focal point for time-sensitive SIGINT reporting for the United States SIGINT System (USSS). This center was established in 1968 as the National SIGINT Watch Center (NSWC) and renamed into National SIGINT Operations Center (NSOC) in 1973. This “nerve center of the NSA” got its current name in 1996.[104]
  • NSA/CSS Threat Operations Center (NTOC), which is the primary NSA/CSS partner for Department of Homeland Security response to cyber incidents. The NTOC establishes real-time network awareness and threat characterization capabilities to forecast, alert, and attribute malicious activity and enable the coordination of Computer Network Operations. The NTOC was established in 2004 as a joint Information Assurance and Signals Intelligence project.[105]

Employees

The number of NSA employees is officially classified[4] but there are several sources providing estimates. In 1961, NSA had 59,000 military and civilian employees, which grew to 93,067 in 1969, of which 19,300 worked at the headquarters at Fort Meade. In the early 1980s NSA had roughly 50,000 military and civilian personnel. By 1989 this number had grown again to 75,000, of which 25,000 worked at the NSA headquarters. Between 1990 and 1995 the NSA’s budget and workforce were cut by one third, which led to a substantial loss of experience.[106]

In 2012, the NSA said more than 30,000 employees worked at Fort Meade and other facilities.[2] In 2012, John C. Inglis, the deputy director, said that the total number of NSA employees is “somewhere between 37,000 and one billion” as a joke,[4] and stated that the agency is “probably the biggest employer of introverts.”[4] In 2013 Der Spiegel stated that the NSA had 40,000 employees.[5] More widely, it has been described as the world’s largest single employer of mathematicians.[107] Some NSA employees form part of the workforce of the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), the agency that provides the NSA with satellite signals intelligence.

As of 2013 about 1,000 system administrators work for the NSA.[108]

Security issues

The NSA received criticism early on in 1960 after two agents had defected to the Soviet Union. Investigations by the House Un-American Activities Committee and a special subcommittee of the United States House Committee on Armed Services revealed severe cases of ignorance in personnel security regulations, prompting the former personnel director and the director of security to step down and leading to the adoption of stricter security practices.[109] Nonetheless, security breaches reoccurred only a year later when in an issue of Izvestia of July 23, 1963, a former NSA employee published several cryptologic secrets.

The very same day, an NSA clerk-messenger committed suicide as ongoing investigations disclosed that he had sold secret information to the Soviets on a regular basis. The reluctance of Congressional houses to look into these affairs had prompted a journalist to write, “If a similar series of tragic blunders occurred in any ordinary agency of Government an aroused public would insist that those responsible be officially censured, demoted, or fired.” David Kahn criticized the NSA’s tactics of concealing its doings as smug and the Congress’ blind faith in the agency’s right-doing as shortsighted, and pointed out the necessity of surveillance by the Congress to prevent abuse of power.[109]

Edward Snowden‘s leaking of the existence of PRISM in 2013 caused the NSA to institute a “two-man rule“, where two system administrators are required to be present when one accesses certain sensitive information.[108]Snowden claims he suggested such a rule in 2009.[110]

Polygraphing

Defense Security Service (DSS) polygraph brochure given to NSA applicants

The NSA conducts polygraph tests of employees. For new employees, the tests are meant to discover enemy spies who are applying to the NSA and to uncover any information that could make an applicant pliant to coercion.[111] As part of the latter, historically EPQs or “embarrassing personal questions” about sexual behavior had been included in the NSA polygraph.[111]The NSA also conducts five-year periodic reinvestigation polygraphs of employees, focusing on counterintelligence programs. In addition the NSA conducts periodic polygraph investigations in order to find spies and leakers; those who refuse to take them may receive “termination of employment”, according to a 1982 memorandum from the director of the NSA.[112]

File:NSApolygraphvideo.webm

NSA-produced video on the polygraph process

There are also “special access examination” polygraphs for employees who wish to work in highly sensitive areas, and those polygraphs cover counterintelligence questions and some questions about behavior.[112] NSA’s brochure states that the average test length is between two and four hours.[113] A 1983 report of the Office of Technology Assessment stated that “It appears that the NSA [National Security Agency] (and possibly CIA) use the polygraph not to determine deception or truthfulness per se, but as a technique of interrogation to encourage admissions.”[114] Sometimes applicants in the polygraph process confess to committing felonies such as murder, rape, and selling of illegal drugs. Between 1974 and 1979, of the 20,511 job applicants who took polygraph tests, 695 (3.4%) confessed to previous felony crimes; almost all of those crimes had been undetected.[111]

In 2010 the NSA produced a video explaining its polygraph process.[115] The video, ten minutes long, is titled “The Truth About the Polygraph” and was posted to the Web site of the Defense Security Service. Jeff Stein of The Washington Post said that the video portrays “various applicants, or actors playing them — it’s not clear — describing everything bad they had heard about the test, the implication being that none of it is true.”[116] AntiPolygraph.org argues that the NSA-produced video omits some information about the polygraph process; it produced a video responding to the NSA video.[115] George Maschke, the founder of the Web site, accused the NSA polygraph video of being “Orwellian“.[116]

After Edward Snowden revealed his identity in 2013, the NSA began requiring polygraphing of employees once per quarter.[117]

Arbitrary firing

The number of exemptions from legal requirements has been criticized. When in 1964 the Congress was hearing a bill giving the director of the NSA the power to fire at will any employee,The Washington Post wrote: “This is the very definition of arbitrariness. It means that an employee could be discharged and disgraced on the basis of anonymous allegations without the slightest opportunity to defend himself.” Yet, the bill was accepted by an overwhelming majority.[109]

Insignia and memorials

Seal of the U.S. National Security Agency.svg

The heraldic insignia of NSA consists of an eagle inside a circle, grasping a key in its talons.[118] The eagle represents the agency’s national mission.[118] Its breast features a shield with bands of red and white, taken from the Great Seal of the United States and representing Congress.[118] The key is taken from the emblem of Saint Peter and represents security.[118]

When the NSA was created, the agency had no emblem and used that of the Department of Defense.[119] The agency adopted its first of two emblems in 1963.[119] The current NSA insignia has been in use since 1965, when then-Director, LTG Marshall S. Carter (USA) ordered the creation of a device to represent the agency.[120]

The NSA’s flag consists of the agency’s seal on a light blue background.

National Cryptologic Memorial

Crews associated with NSA missions have been involved in a number of dangerous and deadly situations.[121] The USS Liberty incident in 1967 and USS Pueblo incident in 1968 are examples of the losses endured during the Cold War.[121]

The National Security Agency/Central Security Service Cryptologic Memorial honors and remembers the fallen personnel, both military and civilian, of these intelligence missions.[122] It is made of black granite, and has 171 names carved into it, as of 2013 .[122] It is located at NSA headquarters. A tradition of declassifying the stories of the fallen was begun in 2001.[122]

NSANet (NSA’s intranet)

Behind the Green Door – Secure communications room with separate computer terminals for access to SIPRNET, GWAN, NSANET, and JWICS

NSANet stands for National Security Agency Network and is the official NSA intranet.[123] It is a classified network,[124] for information up to the level of TS/SCI[125] to support the use and sharing of intelligence data between NSA and the signals intelligence agencies of the four other nations of the Five Eyes partnership. The management of NSANet has been delegated to the Central Security Service Texas (CSSTEXAS).[126]

NSANet is a highly secured computer network consisting of fiber-optic and satellite communication channels which are almost completely separated from the public Internet. The network allows NSA personnel and civilian and military intelligence analysts anywhere in the world to have access to the agency’s systems and databases. This access is tightly controlled and monitored. For example, every keystroke is logged, activities are audited at random and downloading and printing of documents from NSANet are recorded.[127]

In 1998, NSANet, along with NIPRNET and SIPRNET, had “significant problems with poor search capabilities, unorganized data and old information”.[128] In 2004, the network was reported to have used over twenty commercial off-the-shelf operating systems.[129] Some universities that do highly sensitive research are allowed to connect to it.[130]

The thousands of Top Secret internal NSA documents that were taken by Edward Snowden in 2013 were stored in “a file-sharing location on the NSA’s intranet site” so they could easily be read online by NSA personnel. Everyone with a TS/SCI-clearance had access to these documents and as a system administrator, Snowden was responsible for moving accidentally misplaced highly sensitive documents to more secure storage locations.[131]

National Computer Security Center

The DoD Computer Security Center was founded in 1981 and renamed the National Computer Security Center (NCSC) in 1985. NCSC was responsible for computer security throughout the federal government.[132] NCSC was part of NSA,[133] and during the late 1980s and the 1990s, NSA and NCSC published Trusted Computer System Evaluation Criteria in a six-foot high Rainbow Series of books that detailed trusted computing and network platform specifications.[134] The Rainbow books were replaced by the Common Criteria, however, in the early 2000s.[134]

Facilities

Headquarters

National Security Agency headquarters in Fort Meade, 2013

Headquarters for the National Security Agency is located at 39°6′32″N 76°46′17″W in Fort George G. Meade, Maryland, although it is separate from other compounds and agencies that are based within this same military installation. Ft. Meade is about 20 mi (32 km) southwest of Baltimore,[135] and 25 mi (40 km) northeast of Washington, DC.[136] The NSA has its own exit off Maryland Route 295 South labeled “NSA Employees Only”.[137][138] The exit may only be used by people with the proper clearances, and security vehicles parked along the road guard the entrance.[139]

NSA is the largest employer in the U.S. state of Maryland, and two-thirds of its personnel work at Ft. Meade.[140] Built on 350 acres (140 ha; 0.55 sq mi)[141] of Ft. Meade’s 5,000 acres (2,000 ha; 7.8 sq mi),[142] the site has 1,300 buildings and an estimated 18,000 parking spaces.[136][143]

NSA headquarters building in Fort Meade (left), NSOC (right)

The main NSA headquarters and operations building is what James Bamford, author of Body of Secrets, describes as “a modern boxy structure” that appears similar to “any stylish office building.”[144] The building is covered with one-way dark glass, which is lined with copper shielding in order to prevent espionage by trapping in signals and sounds.[144] It contains 3,000,000 square feet (280,000 m2), or more than 68 acres (28 ha), of floor space; Bamford said that the U.S. Capitol “could easily fit inside it four times over.”[144]

The facility has over 100 watchposts,[145] one of them being the visitor control center, a two-story area that serves as the entrance.[144] At the entrance, a white pentagonal structure,[146] visitor badges are issued to visitors and security clearances of employees are checked.[147] The visitor center includes a painting of the NSA seal.[146]

The OPS2A building, the tallest building in the NSA complex and the location of much of the agency’s operations directorate, is accessible from the visitor center. Bamford described it as a “dark glass Rubik’s Cube“.[148] The facility’s “red corridor” houses non-security operations such as concessions and the drug store. The name refers to the “red badge” which is worn by someone without a security clearance. The NSA headquarters includes a cafeteria, a credit union, ticket counters for airlines and entertainment, a barbershop, and a bank.[146] NSA headquarters has its own post office, fire department, and police force.[149][150][151]

The employees at the NSA headquarters reside in various places in the Baltimore-Washington area, including Annapolis, Baltimore, and Columbia in Maryland and the District of Columbia, including the Georgetown community.[152]

Power consumption

Due to massive amounts of data processing, NSA is the largest electricity consumer in Maryland.[140]

Following a major power outage in 2000, in 2003 and in follow-ups through 2007, The Baltimore Sun reported that the NSA was at risk of electrical overload because of insufficient internal electrical infrastructure at Fort Meade to support the amount of equipment being installed. This problem was apparently recognized in the 1990s but not made a priority, and “now the agency’s ability to keep its operations going is threatened.”[153]

Baltimore Gas & Electric (BGE, now Constellation Energy) provided NSA with 65 to 75 megawatts at Ft. Meade in 2007, and expected that an increase of 10 to 15 megawatts would be needed later that year.[154] In 2011, NSA at Ft. Meade was Maryland’s largest consumer of power.[140] In 2007, as BGE’s largest customer, NSA bought as much electricity as Annapolis, the capital city of Maryland.[153]

One estimate put the potential for power consumption by the new Utah Data Center at US$40 million per year.[155]

History of headquarters

Headquarters at Fort Meade circa 1950s

When the agency was established, its headquarters and cryptographic center were in the Naval Security Station in Washington, D.C. The COMINT functions were located in Arlington Hall in Northern Virginia, which served as the headquarters of the U.S. Army‘s cryptographic operations.[156] Because the Soviet Union had detonated a nuclear bomb and because the facilities were crowded, the federal government wanted to move several agencies, including the AFSA/NSA. A planning committee considered Fort Knox, but Fort Meade, Maryland, was ultimately chosen as NSA headquarters because it was far enough away from Washington, D.C. in case of a nuclear strike and was close enough so its employees would not have to move their families.[157]

Construction of additional buildings began after the agency occupied buildings at Ft. Meade in the late 1950s, which they soon outgrew.[157] In 1963 the new headquarters building, nine stories tall, opened. NSA workers referred to the building as the “Headquarters Building” and since the NSA management occupied the top floor, workers used “Ninth Floor” to refer to their leaders.[158] COMSEC remained in Washington, D.C., until its new building was completed in 1968.[157] In September 1986, the Operations 2A and 2B buildings, both copper-shielded to prevent eavesdropping, opened with a dedication by President Ronald Reagan.[159] The four NSA buildings became known as the “Big Four.”[159] The NSA director moved to 2B when it opened.[159]

Fort Meade shooting

On March 30, 2015, shortly before 9 am, a stolen sports utility vehicle approached an NSA police vehicle blocking the road near the gate of Fort Meade, after it was told to leave the area. NSA officers fired on the SUV, killing the 27-year-old driver, Mya Hall, and seriously injuring her 20-year-old passenger. An NSA officer’s arm was injured when Hall subsequently crashed into his vehicle.[160][161]

The two women were transgender[162] and had just gotten off from a night of partying at a motel with the man they’d stolen the SUV from that morning. They “attempted to drive a vehicle into the National Security Agency portion of the installation without authorization”, according to an NSA statement.[163] FBI spokeswoman Amy Thoreson said the incident is not believed to be related to terrorism.[164] In June 2015 the FBI closed its investigation into the incident and federal prosecutors have declined to bring charges against anyone involved.[165]

An anonymous police official told The Washington Post, “This was not a deliberate attempt to breach the security of NSA. This was not a planned attack.” The two are believed to have made a wrong turn off the highway, while fleeing from the motel after stealing the vehicle. A small amount of cocaine was found in the SUV. A local CBS reporter initially said a gun was found,[166] but her later revision does not.[167] Dozens of journalists were corralled into a parking lot blocks away from the scene, and were barred from photographing the area.[168]

Computing

In 1995, The Baltimore Sun reported that the NSA is the owner of the single largest group of supercomputers.[169]

NSA held a groundbreaking ceremony at Ft. Meade in May 2013 for its High Performance Computing Center 2, expected to open in 2016.[170] Called Site M, the center has a 150 megawatt power substation, 14 administrative buildings and 10 parking garages.[149] It cost $3.2 billion and covers 227 acres (92 ha; 0.355 sq mi).[149] The center is 1,800,000 square feet (17 ha; 0.065 sq mi)[149] and initially uses 60 megawatts of electricity.[171]

Increments II and III are expected to be completed by 2030, and would quadruple the space, covering 5,800,000 square feet (54 ha; 0.21 sq mi) with 60 buildings and 40 parking garages.[149] Defense contractors are also establishing or expanding cybersecurity facilities near the NSA and around the Washington metropolitan area.[149]

Other U.S. facilities

Buckley Air Force Base in Colorado

Utah Data Center

As of 2012, NSA collected intelligence from four geostationary satellites.[155] Satellite receivers were at Roaring Creek Station in Catawissa, Pennsylvania and Salt Creek Station in Arbuckle, California.[155] It operated ten to twenty taps on U.S. telecom switches. NSA had installations in several U.S. states and from them observed intercepts from Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, Latin America, and Asia.[155]

NSA had facilities at Friendship Annex (FANX) in Linthicum, Maryland, which is a 20 to 25-minute drive from Ft. Meade;[172] the Aerospace Data Facility at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora outside Denver, Colorado; NSA Texas in the Texas Cryptology Center at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas; NSA Georgia at Fort Gordon in Augusta, Georgia; NSA Hawaii in Honolulu; the Multiprogram Research Facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and elsewhere.[152][155]

On January 6, 2011 a groundbreaking ceremony was held to begin construction on NSA’s first Comprehensive National Cyber-security Initiative (CNCI) Data Center, known as the “Utah Data Center” for short. The $1.5B data center is being built at Camp Williams, Utah, located 25 miles (40 km) south of Salt Lake City, and will help support the agency’s National Cyber-security Initiative.[173] It is expected to be operational by September 2013.[155]

In 2009, to protect its assets and to access more electricity, NSA sought to decentralize and expand its existing facilities in Ft. Meade and Menwith Hill,[174] the latter expansion expected to be completed by 2015.[175]

The Yakima Herald-Republic cited Bamford, saying that many of NSA’s bases for its Echelon program were a legacy system, using outdated, 1990s technology.[176] In 2004, NSA closed its operations at Bad Aibling Station (Field Station 81) in Bad Aibling, Germany.[177] In 2012, NSA began to move some of its operations at Yakima Research Station, Yakima Training Center, in Washington state to Colorado, planning to leave Yakima closed.[178] As of 2013, NSA also intended to close operations at Sugar Grove, West Virginia.[176]

International stations

RAF Menwith Hill has the largest NSA presence in the United Kingdom.[175]

Following the signing in 1946–1956[179] of the UKUSA Agreement between the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, who then cooperated on signals intelligence and ECHELON,[180] NSA stations were built at GCHQ Bude in Morwenstow, United Kingdom; Geraldton, Pine Gap and Shoal Bay, Australia; Leitrim and Ottawa, Canada; Misawa, Japan; and Waihopai and Tangimoana,[181] New Zealand.[182]

NSA operates RAF Menwith Hill in North Yorkshire, United Kingdom, which was, according to BBC News in 2007, the largest electronic monitoring station in the world.[183] Planned in 1954, and opened in 1960, the base covered 562 acres (227 ha; 0.878 sq mi) in 1999.[184]

The agency’s European Cryptologic Center (ECC), with 240 employees in 2011, is headquartered at a US military compound in Griesheim, near Frankfurt in Germany. A 2011 NSA report indicates that the ECC is responsible for the “largest analysis and productivity in Europe” and focusses on various priorities, including Africa, Europe, the Middle East and counterterrorism operations.[185]

In 2013, a new Consolidated Intelligence Center, also to be used by NSA, is being built at the headquarters of the United States Army Europe in Wiesbaden, Germany.[186] NSA’s partnership with Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), the German foreign intelligence service, was confirmed by BND president Gerhard Schindler.[186]

Thailand

Thailand is a “3rd party partner” of the NSA along with nine other nations.[187] These are non-English-speaking countries that have made security agreements for the exchange of SIGINT raw material and end product reports.

Thailand is the site of at least two US SIGINT collection stations. One is at the US Embassy in Bangkok, a joint NSA-CIA Special Collection Service (SCS) unit. It presumably eavesdrops on foreign embassies, governmental communications, and other targets of opportunity.[188]

The second installation is a FORNSAT (foreign satellite interception) station in the Thai city of Khon Kaen. It is codenamed INDRA, but has also been referred to as LEMONWOOD.[188] The station is approximately 40 ha (100 acres) in size and consists of a large 3,700–4,600 m2 (40,000–50,000 ft2) operations building on the west side of the ops compound and four radome-enclosed parabolic antennas. Possibly two of the radome-enclosed antennas are used for SATCOM intercept and two antennas used for relaying the intercepted material back to NSA. There is also a PUSHER-type circularly-disposed antenna array (CDAA) array just north of the ops compound.[189][190]

NSA activated Khon Kaen in October 1979. Its mission was to eavesdrop on the radio traffic of Chinese army and air force units in southern China, especially in and around the city of Kunming in Yunnan Province. Back in the late 1970s the base consisted only of a small CDAA antenna array that was remote-controlled via satellite from the NSA listening post at Kunia, Hawaii, and a small force of civilian contractors from Bendix Field Engineering Corp. whose job it was to keep the antenna array and satellite relay facilities up and running 24/7.[189]

According to the papers of the late General William Odom, the INDRA facility was upgraded in 1986 with a new British-made PUSHER CDAA antenna as part of an overall upgrade of NSA and Thai SIGINT facilities whose objective was to spy on the neighboring communist nations of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.[189]

The base apparently fell into disrepair in the 1990s as China and Vietnam became more friendly towards the US, and by 2002 archived satellite imagery showed that the PUSHER CDAA antenna had been torn down, perhaps indicating that the base had been closed. At some point in the period since 9/11, the Khon Kaen base was reactivated and expanded to include a sizeable SATCOM intercept mission. It is likely that the NSA presence at Khon Kaen is relatively small, and that most of the work is done by civilian contractors.[189]

Mission

NSA’s eavesdropping mission includes radio broadcasting, both from various organizations and individuals, the Internet, telephone calls, and other intercepted forms of communication. Its secure communications mission includes military, diplomatic, and all other sensitive, confidential or secret government communications.[191]

According to the Washington Post, “[e]very day, collection systems at the National Security Agency intercept and store 1.7 billion e-mails, phone calls and other types of communications. The NSA sorts a fraction of those into 70 separate databases.”[192]

Because of its listening task, NSA/CSS has been heavily involved in cryptanalytic research, continuing the work of predecessor agencies which had broken many World War II codes and ciphers (see, for instance, Purple, Venona project, and JN-25).

In 2004, NSA Central Security Service and the National Cyber Security Division of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agreed to expand NSA Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education Program.[193]

As part of the National Security Presidential Directive 54/Homeland Security Presidential Directive 23 (NSPD 54), signed on January 8, 2008 by President Bush, the NSA became the lead agency to monitor and protect all of the federal government’s computer networks from cyber-terrorism.[9]

Operations

Operations by the National Security Agency can be divided in three types:

  • Collection overseas, which falls under the responsibility of the Global Access Operations (GAO) division.
  • Domestic collection, which falls under the responsibility of the Special Source Operations (SSO) division.
  • Hacking operations, which falls under the responsibility of the Tailored Access Operations (TAO) division.

Collection overseas

Echelon

Echelon was created in the incubator of the Cold War.[194] Today it is a legacy system, and several NSA stations are closing.[176]

NSA/CSS, in combination with the equivalent agencies in the United Kingdom (Government Communications Headquarters), Canada (Communications Security Establishment), Australia (Defence Signals Directorate), and New Zealand (Government Communications Security Bureau), otherwise known as the UKUSA group,[195] was reported to be in command of the operation of the so-called ECHELON system. Its capabilities were suspected to include the ability to monitor a large proportion of the world’s transmitted civilian telephone, fax and data traffic.[196]

During the early 1970s, the first of what became more than eight large satellite communications dishes were installed at Menwith Hill.[197] Investigative journalist Duncan Campbell reported in 1988 on the ECHELON surveillance program, an extension of the UKUSA Agreement on global signals intelligence SIGINT, and detailed how the eavesdropping operations worked.[198] In November 3, 1999 the BBC reported that they had confirmation from the Australian Government of the existence of a powerful “global spying network” code-named Echelon, that could “eavesdrop on every single phone call, fax or e-mail, anywhere on the planet” with Britain and the United States as the chief protagonists. They confirmed that Menwith Hill was “linked directly to the headquarters of the US National Security Agency (NSA) at Fort Meade in Maryland”.[199]

NSA’s United States Signals Intelligence Directive 18 (USSID 18) strictly prohibited the interception or collection of information about “… U.S. persons, entities, corporations or organizations….” without explicit written legal permission from the United States Attorney General when the subject is located abroad, or the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court when within U.S. borders. Alleged Echelon-related activities, including its use for motives other than national security, including political and industrial espionage, received criticism from countries outside the UKUSA alliance.[200][201]

Protesters against NSA data mining in Berlin wearing Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden masks.

Other SIGINT operations overseas

The NSA is also involved in planning to blackmail people with “SEXINT“, intelligence gained about a potential target’s sexual activity and preferences. Those targeted had not committed any apparent crime nor were charged with one.[202]

In order to support its facial recognition program, the NSA is intercepting “millions of images per day”.[203]

The Real Time Regional Gateway is a data collection program introduced in 2005 in Iraq by NSA during the Iraq War that consisted of gathering all electronic communication, storing it, then searching and otherwise analyzing it. It was effective in providing information about Iraqi insurgents who had eluded less comprehensive techniques.[204] This “collect it all” strategy introduced by NSA director, Keith B. Alexander, is believed by Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian to be the model for the comprehensive worldwide mass archiving of communications which NSA is engaged in as of 2013.[205]

BoundlessInformant

Edward Snowden revealed in June 2013 that between February 8 and March 8, 2013, the NSA collected about 124.8 billion telephone data items and 97.1 billion computer data items throughout the world, as was displayed in charts from an internal NSA tool codenamed Boundless Informant. It was reported that some of these data reflected eavesdropping on citizens in countries like Germany, Spain and France.[206]

BoundlessInformant employs big data databases, cloud computing technology, and Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) to analyze data collected worldwide by the NSA.[207]

Bypassing encryption

In 2013, reporters uncovered a secret memo that claims the NSA created and pushed for the adoption of the Dual_EC_DRBG encryption standard that contained built-in vulnerabilities in 2006 to the United States National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the International Organization for Standardization (aka ISO).[208][209] This memo appears to give credence to previous speculation by cryptographers at Microsoft Research.[210]Edward Snowden claims that the NSA often bypasses encryption altogether by lifting information before it is encrypted or after it is decrypted.[209]

XKeyscore rules (as specified in a file xkeyscorerules100.txt, sourced by German TV stations NDR and WDR, who claim to have excerpts from its source code) reveal that the NSA tracks users of privacy-enhancing software tools, including Tor; an anonymous email service provided by the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) in Cambridge, Massachusetts; and readers of the Linux Journal.[211][212]

Domestic activity

NSA’s mission, as set forth in Executive Order 12333 in 1981, is to collect information that constitutes “foreign intelligence or counterintelligence” while not “acquiring information concerning the domestic activities of United States persons“. NSA has declared that it relies on the FBI to collect information on foreign intelligence activities within the borders of the United States, while confining its own activities within the United States to the embassies and missions of foreign nations.[213] The appearance of a ‘Domestic Surveillance Directorate’ of the NSA was soon exposed as a hoax in 2013.[214][215]

NSA’s domestic surveillance activities are limited by the requirements imposed by the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for example held in October 2011, citing multiple Supreme Court precedents, that the Fourth Amendment prohibitions against unreasonable searches and seizures applies to the contents of all communications, whatever the means, because “a person’s private communications are akin to personal papers.”[216] However, these protections do not apply to non-U.S. persons located outside of U.S. borders, so the NSA’s foreign surveillance efforts are subject to far fewer limitations under U.S. law.[217] The specific requirements for domestic surveillance operations are contained in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA), which does not extend protection to non-U.S. citizens located outside of U.S. territory.[217]

George W. Bush administration

George W. Bush, president during the 9/11 terrorist attacks, approved the Patriot Act shortly after the attacks to take anti-terrorist security measures. Title 1, 2, and 9 specifically authorized measures that would be taken by the NSA. These titles granted enhanced domestic security against terrorism, surveillance procedures, and improved intelligence, respectively. On March 10, 2004, there was a debate between President Bush and White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales, Attorney General John Ashcroft, and Acting Attorney General James Comey. The Attorney Generals were unsure if the NSA’s programs could be considered constitutional. They threatened to resign over the matter, but ultimately the NSA’s programs continued.[218] On March 11, 2004, President Bush signed a new authorization for mass surveillance of Internet records, in addition to the surveillance of phone records.This allowed the president to be able to override laws such as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which protected civilians from mass surveillance. In addition to this, President Bush also signed that the measures of mass surveillance were also retroactively in place.[219]

Warrantless wiretaps

On December 16, 2005, The New York Times reported that, under White House pressure and with an executive order from President George W. Bush, the National Security Agency, in an attempt to thwart terrorism, had been tapping phone calls made to persons outside the country, without obtaining warrants from the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, a secret court created for that purpose under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).[220]

One such surveillance program, authorized by the U.S. Signals Intelligence Directive 18 of President George Bush, was the Highlander Project undertaken for the National Security Agency by the U.S. Army 513th Military Intelligence Brigade. NSA relayed telephone (including cell phone) conversations obtained from ground, airborne, and satellite monitoring stations to various U.S. Army Signal Intelligence Officers, including the 201st Military Intelligence Battalion. Conversations of citizens of the U.S. were intercepted, along with those of other nations.[221]

Proponents of the surveillance program claim that the President has executive authority to order such action, arguing that laws such as FISA are overridden by the President’s Constitutional powers. In addition, some argued that FISA was implicitly overridden by a subsequent statute, the Authorization for Use of Military Force, although the Supreme Court’s ruling in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld deprecates this view. In the August 2006 case ACLU v. NSA, U.S. District Court Judge Anna Diggs Taylor concluded that NSA’s warrantless surveillance program was both illegal and unconstitutional. On July 6, 2007 the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the decision on the grounds that the ACLU lacked standing to bring the suit.[222]

On January 17, 2006, the Center for Constitutional Rights filed a lawsuit, CCR v. Bush, against the George W. Bush Presidency. The lawsuit challenged the National Security Agency’s (NSA’s) surveillance of people within the U.S., including the interception of CCR emails without securing a warrant first.[223][224]

In September 2008, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a class action lawsuit against the NSA and several high-ranking officials of the Bush administration,[225] charging an “illegal and unconstitutional program of dragnet communications surveillance,”[226] based on documentation provided by former AT&T technician Mark Klein.[227]

As a result of the USA Freedom Act passed by Congress in June 2015, the NSA had to shut down its bulk phone surveillance program on November 29 of the same year. The USA Freedom Act forbids the NSA to collect metadata and content of phone calls unless it has a warrant for terrorism investigation. In that case the agency has to ask the telecom companies for the record, which will only be kept for six months.

AT&T Internet monitoring

In May 2006, Mark Klein, a former AT&T employee, alleged that his company had cooperated with NSA in installing Narus hardware to replace the FBI Carnivore program, to monitor network communications including traffic between American citizens.[228]

Data mining

NSA was reported in 2008 to use its computing capability to analyze “transactional” data that it regularly acquires from other government agencies, which gather it under their own jurisdictional authorities. As part of this effort, NSA now monitors huge volumes of records of domestic email data, web addresses from Internet searches, bank transfers, credit-card transactions, travel records, and telephone data, according to current and former intelligence officials interviewed by The Wall Street Journal. The sender, recipient, and subject line of emails can be included, but the content of the messages or of phone calls are not.[229]

A 2013 advisory group for the Obama administration, seeking to reform NSA spying programs following the revelations of documents released by Edward J. Snowden.[230] mentioned in ‘Recommendation 30’ on page 37, “…that the National Security Council staff should manage an interagency process to review on a regular basis the activities of the US Government regarding attacks that exploit a previously unknown vulnerability in a computer application.” Retired cyber security expert Richard A. Clarke was a group member and stated on April 11 that NSA had no advance knowledge of Heartbleed.[231]

Illegally obtained evidence

In August 2013 it was revealed that a 2005 IRS training document showed that NSA intelligence intercepts and wiretaps, both foreign and domestic, were being supplied to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and were illegally used to launch criminal investigations of US citizens. Law enforcement agents were directed to conceal how the investigations began and recreate an apparently legal investigative trail by re-obtaining the same evidence by other means.[232][233]

Barack Obama administration

In the months leading to April 2009, the NSA intercepted the communications of American citizens, including a Congressman, although the Justice Department believed that the interception was unintentional. The Justice Department then took action to correct the issues and bring the program into compliance with existing laws.[234] United States Attorney General Eric Holder resumed the program according to his understanding of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act amendment of 2008, without explaining what had occurred.[235]

Polls conducted in June 2013 found divided results among Americans regarding NSA’s secret data collection.[236] Rasmussen Reports found that 59% of Americans disapprove,[237] Gallup found that 53% disapprove,[238] and Pew found that 56% are in favor of NSA data collection.[239]

Section 215 metadata collection

On April 25, 2013, the NSA obtained a court order requiring Verizon‘s Business Network Services to provide metadata on all calls in its system to the NSA “on an ongoing daily basis” for a three-month period, as reported by The Guardian on June 6, 2013. This information includes “the numbers of both parties on a call … location data, call duration, unique identifiers, and the time and duration of all calls” but not “[t]he contents of the conversation itself”. The order relies on the so-called “business records” provision of the Patriot Act.[240][241]

In August 2013, following the Snowden leaks, new details about the NSA’s data mining activity were revealed. Reportedly, the majority of emails into or out of the United States are captured at “selected communications links” and automatically analyzed for keywords or other “selectors”. Emails that do not match are deleted.[242]

The utility of such a massive metadata collection in preventing terrorist attacks is disputed. Many studies reveal the dragnet like system to be ineffective. One such report, released by the New America Foundation concluded that after an analysis of 225 terrorism cases, the NSA “had no discernible impact on preventing acts of terrorism.”[243]

Defenders of the program say that while metadata alone can’t provide all the information necessary to prevent an attack, it assures the ability to “connect the dots”[244] between suspect foreign numbers and domestic numbers with a speed only the NSA’s software is capable of. One benefit of this is quickly being able to determine the difference between suspicious activity and real threats.[citation needed] As an example, NSA director General Keith Alexander mentioned at the annual Cybersecurity Summit in 2013, that metadata analysis of domestic phone call records after the Boston Marathon bombing helped determine that[clarification needed] another attack in New York was baseless.[244]

In addition to doubts about its effectiveness, many people argue that the collection of metadata is an unconstitutional invasion of privacy. As of 2015, the collection process remains legal and grounded in the ruling from Smith v. Maryland (1979). A prominent opponent of the data collection and its legality is U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon, who issued a report in 2013[245] in which he stated: “I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’ than this systematic and high tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval…Surely, such a program infringes on ‘that degree of privacy’ that the founders enshrined in the Fourth Amendment”.

The PRISM program[edit]

PRISM: a clandestine surveillance program under which the NSA collects user data from companies like Microsoft and Facebook.

Under the PRISM program, which started in 2007,[246][247] NSA gathers Internet communications from foreign targets from nine major U.S. Internet-based communication service providers: Microsoft,[248] Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube and Apple. Data gathered include email, video and voice chat, videos, photos, VoIP chats such as Skype, and file transfers.

June 2015 – WikiLeaks: Industrial espionage

In June 2015, Wikileaks published documents, which showed that NSA spied on French companies.[249]

July 2015 – WikiLeaks: Espionage against German federal ministries

In July 2015, WikiLeaks published documents, which showed that NSA spied on federal German ministries since 1990s.[250][251] Even Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel‘s cellphones and phone of her predecessors had been intercepted.[252]

Claims of prevented terrorist attacks

Former NSA director General Keith Alexander claimed that in September 2009 the NSA prevented Najibullah Zazi and his friends from carrying out a terrorist attack.[253] However, this claim has been debunked and no evidence has been presented demonstrating that the NSA has ever been instrumental in preventing a terrorist attack.[254][255][256][257]

Hacking operations

Besides the more traditional ways of eavesdropping in order to collect signals intelligence, NSA is also engaged in hacking computers, smartphones and their networks. These operations are conducted by the Tailored Access Operations (TAO) division.

NSA’s China hacking group

According to the Foreign Policy magazine, “… the Office of Tailored Access Operations, or TAO, has successfully penetrated Chinese computer and telecommunications systems for almost 15 years, generating some of the best and most reliable intelligence information about what is going on inside the People’s Republic of China.”[258][259]

Syrian internet blackout

In an interview with Wired magazine, Edward Snowden said the Tailored Access Operations division accidentally caused Syria‘s internet blackout in 2012.[260]

Suspected responsibility for hacking operations by the Equation Group

The espionage group named the Equation Group, described by discoverers Kaspersky Labs as one of the most advanced (if not the most advanced) in the world as of 2015,[261]:31 and connected to over 500 malware infections in at least 42 countries over many years, is suspected of being a part of NSA.[262][263] The group’s known espionage methods have been documented to include interdiction (interception of legitimate CDs sent by a scientific conference organizer by mail),[261]:15 and the “unprecedented” ability to infect and be transmitted through the hard drive firmware of several of the major hard drive manufacturers, and create and use hidden disk areas and virtual disk systems for its purposes, a feat demanding access to the manufacturer’s source code of each to achieve.[261]:16–18 The methods used to deploy the tools demonstrated “surgical precision”, going so far as to exclude specific countries by IP and allow targeting of specific usernames on discussion forums.[261]:23–26 The techniques and knowledge used by the Equation Group are considered in summary to be “out of the reach of most advanced threat groups in the world except [this group].[261]:31

Software backdoors

Linux kernel

Linus Torvalds, the founder of Linux kernel, joked during a LinuxCon keynote on September 18, 2013 that the NSA, who are the founder of SELinux, wanted a backdoor in the kernel.[264] However, later, Linus’ father, a Member of the European Parliament (MEP), revealed that the NSA actually did this.[265]

When my oldest son was asked the same question: “Has he been approached by the NSA about backdoors?” he said “No”, but at the same time he nodded. Then he was sort of in the legal free. He had given the right answer, everybody understood that the NSA had approached him.

— Nils Torvalds, LIBE Committee Inquiry on Electronic Mass Surveillance of EU Citizens – 11th Hearing, 11 November 2013[266]
Microsoft Windows

_NSAKEY was a variable name discovered in Microsoft‘s Windows NT 4 Service Pack 5 (which had been released unstripped of its symbolic debugging data) in August 1999 by Andrew D. Fernandes of Cryptonym Corporation. That variable contained a 1024-bit public key.

IBM Notes

IBM Notes was the first widely adopted software product to use public key cryptography for client–server and server–server authentication and for encryption of data. Until US laws regulating encryption were changed in 2000, IBM and Lotus were prohibited from exporting versions of Notes that supported symmetric encryption keys that were longer than 40 bits. In 1997, Lotus negotiated an agreement with the NSA that allowed export of a version that supported stronger keys with 64 bits, but 24 of the bits were encrypted with a special key and included in the message to provide a “workload reduction factor” for the NSA. This strengthened the protection for users of Notes outside the US against private-sector industrial espionage, but not against spying by the US government.[267][268]

Boomerang routing

While it is assumed that foreign transmissions terminating in the U.S. (such as a non-U.S. citizen accessing a U.S. website) subject non-U.S. citizens to NSA surveillance, recent research into boomerang routing has raised new concerns about the NSA’s ability to surveil the domestic Internet traffic of foreign countries.[18] Boomerang routing occurs when an Internet transmission that originates and terminates in a single country transits another. Research at the University of Toronto has suggested that approximately 25% of Canadian domestic traffic may be subject to NSA surveillance activities as a result of the boomerang routing of Canadian Internet service providers.[18]

Hardware implanting

Intercepted packages are opened carefully by NSA employees
A “load station” implanting a beacon

A document included in NSA files released with Glenn Greenwald‘s book No Place to Hide details how the agency’s Tailored Access Operations (TAO) and other NSA units gain access to hardware. They intercept routers, servers and other network hardware being shipped to organizations targeted for surveillance and install covert implant firmware onto them before they are delivered. This was described by an NSA manager as “some of the most productive operations in TAO because they preposition access points into hard target networks around the world.”[269]

Computers seized by the NSA due to interdiction are often modified with a physical device known as Cottonmouth.[270] Cottonmouth is a device that can be inserted in the USB port of a computer in order to establish remote access to the targeted machine. According to NSA’s Tailored Access Operations (TAO) group implant catalog, after implanting Cottonmouth, the NSA can establish Bridging (networking) “that allows the NSA to load exploit software onto modified computers as well as allowing the NSA to relay commands and data between hardware and software implants.”[271]

Role in scientific research and development

NSA has been involved in debates about public policy, both indirectly as a behind-the-scenes adviser to other departments, and directly during and after Vice Admiral Bobby Ray Inman‘s directorship. NSA was a major player in the debates of the 1990s regarding the export of cryptography in the United States. Restrictions on export were reduced but not eliminated in 1996.

Its secure government communications work has involved the NSA in numerous technology areas, including the design of specialized communications hardware and software, production of dedicated semiconductors (at the Ft. Meade chip fabrication plant), and advanced cryptography research. For 50 years, NSA designed and built most of its computer equipment in-house, but from the 1990s until about 2003 (when the U.S. Congress curtailed the practice), the agency contracted with the private sector in the fields of research and equipment.[272]

Data Encryption Standard

FROSTBURG was the NSA’s first supercomputer, used from 1991 to 1997

NSA was embroiled in some minor controversy concerning its involvement in the creation of the Data Encryption Standard (DES), a standard and public block cipher algorithm used by the U.S. government and banking community. During the development of DES by IBM in the 1970s, NSA recommended changes to some details of the design. There was suspicion that these changes had weakened the algorithm sufficiently to enable the agency to eavesdrop if required, including speculation that a critical component—the so-called S-boxes—had been altered to insert a “backdoor” and that the reduction in key length might have made it feasible for NSA to discover DES keys using massive computing power. It has since been observed that the S-boxes in DES are particularly resilient against differential cryptanalysis, a technique which was not publicly discovered until the late 1980s, but which was known to the IBM DES team.

The United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence reviewed NSA’s involvement, and concluded that while the agency had provided some assistance, it had not tampered with the design.[273][274] In late 2009 NSA declassified information stating that “NSA worked closely with IBM to strengthen the algorithm against all except brute force attacks and to strengthen substitution tables, called S-boxes. Conversely, NSA tried to convince IBM to reduce the length of the key from 64 to 48 bits. Ultimately they compromised on a 56-bit key.”[275][276]

Advanced Encryption Standard

The involvement of NSA in the selection of a successor to Data Encryption Standard (DES), the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), was limited to hardware performance testing (see AES competition).[277] NSA has subsequently certified AES for protection of classified information (for at most two levels, e.g. SECRET information in an unclassified environment[clarification needed]) when used in NSA-approved systems.[278]

NSA encryption systems

STU-III secure telephones on display at the National Cryptologic Museum

The NSA is responsible for the encryption-related components in these legacy systems:

  • FNBDT Future Narrow Band Digital Terminal[279]
  • KL-7 ADONIS off-line rotor encryption machine (post-WWII – 1980s)[280][281]
  • KW-26 ROMULUS electronic in-line teletypewriter encryptor (1960s–1980s)[282]
  • KW-37 JASON fleet broadcast encryptor (1960s–1990s)[281]
  • KY-57 VINSON tactical radio voice encryptor[282]
  • KG-84 Dedicated Data Encryption/Decryption[282]
  • STU-III secure telephone unit,[282] phased out by the STE[283]

The NSA oversees encryption in following systems which are in use today:

The NSA has specified Suite A and Suite B cryptographic algorithm suites to be used in U.S. government systems; the Suite B algorithms are a subset of those previously specified by NIST and are expected to serve for most information protection purposes, while the Suite A algorithms are secret and are intended for especially high levels of protection.[278]

SHA

The widely used SHA-1 and SHA-2 hash functions were designed by NSA. SHA-1 is a slight modification of the weaker SHA-0 algorithm, also designed by NSA in 1993. This small modification was suggested by NSA two years later, with no justification other than the fact that it provides additional security. An attack for SHA-0 that does not apply to the revised algorithm was indeed found between 1998 and 2005 by academic cryptographers. Because of weaknesses and key length restrictions in SHA-1, NIST deprecates its use for digital signatures, and approves only the newer SHA-2 algorithms for such applications from 2013 on.[288]

A new hash standard, SHA-3, has recently been selected through the competition concluded October 2, 2012 with the selection of Keccak as the algorithm. The process to select SHA-3 was similar to the one held in choosing the AES, but some doubts have been cast over it,[289][290] since fundamental modifications have been made to Keccak in order to turn it into a standard.[291] These changes potentially undermine the cryptanalysis performed during the competition and reduce the security levels of the algorithm.[289]

Dual_EC_DRBG random number generator cryptotrojan

NSA promoted the inclusion of a random number generator called Dual_EC_DRBG in the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology‘s 2007 guidelines. This led to speculation of a backdoor which would allow NSA access to data encrypted by systems using that pseudo random number generator.[292]

This is now deemed to be plausible based on the fact that the output of the next iterations of the PRNG can provably be determined if the relation between two internal elliptic curve points is known.[293][294] Both NIST and RSA are now officially recommending against the use of this PRNG.[295][296]

Clipper chip

Because of concerns that widespread use of strong cryptography would hamper government use of wiretaps, NSA proposed the concept of key escrow in 1993 and introduced the Clipper chip that would offer stronger protection than DES but would allow access to encrypted data by authorized law enforcement officials.[297] The proposal was strongly opposed and key escrow requirements ultimately went nowhere.[298] However, NSA’s Fortezza hardware-based encryption cards, created for the Clipper project, are still used within government, and NSA ultimately declassified and published the design of the Skipjack cipher used on the cards.[299][300]

Perfect Citizen

Perfect Citizen is a program to perform vulnerability assessment by the NSA on U.S. critical infrastructure.[301][302] It was originally reported to be a program to develop a system of sensors to detect cyber attacks on critical infrastructure computer networks in both the private and public sector through a network monitoring system named Einstein.[303][304] It is funded by the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative and thus far Raytheon has received a contract for up to $100 million for the initial stage.

Academic research

NSA has invested many millions of dollars in academic research under grant code prefix MDA904, resulting in over 3,000 papers (as of 2007-10-11). NSA/CSS has, at times, attempted to restrict the publication of academic research into cryptography; for example, the Khufu and Khafre block ciphers were voluntarily withheld in response to an NSA request to do so. In response to a FOIA lawsuit, in 2013 the NSA released the 643-page research paper titled, “Untangling the Web: A Guide to Internet Research,[305] ” written and compiled by NSA employees to assist other NSA workers in searching for information of interest to the agency on the public Internet.[306]

Patents

NSA has the ability to file for a patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office under gag order. Unlike normal patents, these are not revealed to the public and do not expire. However, if the Patent Office receives an application for an identical patent from a third party, they will reveal NSA’s patent and officially grant it to NSA for the full term on that date.[307]

One of NSA’s published patents describes a method of geographically locating an individual computer site in an Internet-like network, based on the latency of multiple network connections.[308] Although no public patent exists, NSA is reported to have used a similar locating technology called trilateralization that allows real-time tracking of an individual’s location, including altitude from ground level, using data obtained from cellphone towers.[309]

Controversy

File:Ron Wyden and James Clapper - 12 March 2013.webm

Excerpt from when James Clapper lied to Congress on NSA surveillance programs

In the United States, at least since 2001,[310] there has been legal controversy over what signal intelligence can be used for and how much freedom the National Security Agency has to use signal intelligence.[311] The government has made, in 2015, slight changes in how it uses and collects certain types of data,[312] specifically phone records. President Barack Obama has asked lawyers and his national security team to look at the tactics that are being used by the NSA. President Obama made a speech on January 17, 2014 where he defended the national security measures, including the NSA, and their intentions for keeping the country safe through surveillance. He said that it is difficult to determine where the line should be drawn between what is too much surveillance and how much is needed for national security because technology is ever changing and evolving. Therefore, the laws cannot keep up with the rapid advancements.

President Obama did make some changes to national security regulations and how much data can be collected and surveyed.[citation needed] The first thing he added, was more presidential directive and oversight so that privacy and basic rights are not violated. The president would look over requests on behalf of American citizens to make sure that their personal privacy is not violated by the data that is being requested. Secondly, surveillance tactics and procedures are becoming more public, including over 40 rulings of the FISC that have been declassified.[citation needed] Thirdly, further protections are being placed on activities that are justified under Section 702, such as the ability to retain, search and use data collected in investigations, which allows the NSA to monitor and intercept interaction of targets overseas. Finally, national security letters, which are secret requests for information that the FBI uses in their investigations, are becoming less secretive. The secrecy of the information requested will not be indefinite and will terminate after a set time if future secrecy is not required.[citation needed] Concerning the bulk surveillance of American’s phone records, President Obama also ordered a transition from bulk surveillance under Section 215 to a new policy that will eliminate unnecessary bulk collection of metadata.

As of May 7, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that the interpretation of Section 215 of the Patriot Act was wrong and that the NSA program that has been collecting Americans’ phone records in bulk is illegal.[313] It stated that Section 215 cannot be clearly interpreted to allow government to collect national phone data and, as a result, expired on June 1, 2015. This ruling “is the first time a higher-level court in the regular judicial system has reviewed the N.S.A. phone records program.” [314] The new bill getting passed later in May taking its place is known as the U.S.A. Freedom Act, which will enable the NSA to continue hunting for terrorists by analyzing telephone links between callers but “keep the bulk phone records in the hands of phone companies.”[314] This would give phone companies the freedom to dispose the records in an 18-month period. The White House argued that this new ruling validated President Obama’s support of the government being extracted from bulk data collection and giving power to the telecommunications companies.

Previously, the NSA paid billions of dollars to telecommunications companies in order to collect data from them.[315] While companies such as Google and Yahoo! claim that they do not provide “direct access” from their servers to the NSA unless under a court order,[316] the NSA had access to emails, phone calls and cellular data users.[317] With this new ruling, telecommunications companies would not provide the NSA with bulk information. The companies would allow the disposal of data in every 18 months,[314] which is arguably putting the telecommunications companies at a higher advantage.

This ruling made the collecting of phone records illegal, but it did not rule on Section 215’s constitutionality. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already put forth a new bill to re-authorize the Patriot Act.[318] Defenders of this surveillance program are claiming that judges who sit on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) had ruled 37 times that this kind of collection of data is, in fact, lawful.[318] The FISC is the court specifically mandated to grant surveillance orders in the name of foreign intelligence. The new ruling made by the Second District Court of Appeals now retroactively dismisses the findings of the FISC on this program.

See also

Notes

 Story 2: Big Lie Media Crazy Credibility Crisis — Fake News is Media McCarthyism — No Tanks In Streets of D.C. Big Lie Coup Fake News — Videos

Image result for tanks in washington d.c.

Image result for cartoons obama surveillance of trump

Image result for cartoons obama surveillance of trump

Image result for cartoons obama surveillance of trump

Image result for cartoons obama surveillance of trump

Krauthammer: Comey incident has sent press over the edge

Conway: Democrats trashed Comey then made him a martyr

Ari Fleischer: Hypocrisy from Democratic Party is appalling

Michelle Malkin: Hypocrisy over Comey firing is overwhelming

Gingrich: Liberals will move on to Martian conspiracies next

Could a probe of Hillary’s email server be reopened?

Tucker to Dem: Are you saying Trump has corrupted FBI?

Rush Limbaugh rejects media’s ‘coup’ claims

Hume: Calling Comey firing a ‘coup’ is hysterical

Lionel on the Alex Jones Show: Fake News, Media Bias, McCarthyism, Redbaiting & Blatant Russophobia

The Truth About McCarthyism: Modern Parallels

Napolitano: Many FBI agents felt demeaned by Comey’s actions

Coup d’état

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A coup d’état (/ˌk dˈtɑː/ About this sound listen ; French: [ku.de.ta]), also known simply as a coup (/k/), a putsch (/pʊ/), or an overthrow, is the illegal and overt seizure of a state by the military or other elites within the state apparatus.[1]

Contents

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Terminology

Etymology

The phrase coup d’état (French pronunciation:  [ku deta]) is French, literally meaning a “stroke of state” or “blow against the state.” In French the word “État” (French: [e.ta]), denoting a sovereign political entity, is capitalized.[2]

Although the concept of a coup d’état has been featured in politics since antiquity, the phrase is of relatively recent coinage;[3] the Oxford English Dictionary identifies it as a French expression meaning a “stroke of state.” The phrase did not appear within an English text before the 19th century except when used in translation of a French source, there being no simple phrase in English to convey the contextualized idea of a “knockout blow to the existing administration within a state.”

One early use within text translated from French was in 1785 in a printed translation of a letter from a French merchant, commenting on an arbitrary decree or “arrêt” issued by the French king restricting the import of British wool.[4] What may be its first published use within a text composed in English is an editor’s note in the London Morning Chronicle, 7 January 1802, reporting the arrest by Napoleon in France, of Moreau, Berthier, Masséna, and Bernadotte:

There was a report in circulation yesterday of a sort of coup d’état having taken place in France, in consequence of some formidable conspiracy against the existing government.

In post-Revolutionary France, the phrase came to be used to describe the various murders by Napoleon‘s hated secret police, the Gens d’Armes d’Elite, who murdered the Duke of Enghien:

…the actors in torture, the distributors of the poisoning draughts, and the secret executioners of those unfortunate individuals or families, whom Bonaparte’s measures of safety require to remove. In what revolutionary tyrants call grand[s] coups d’état, as butchering, or poisoning, or drowning, en masse, they are exclusively employed.[5]

Usage of the phrase

Clayton Thyne and Jonathan Powell’s dataset of coups defines attempted coups as “illegal and overt attempts by the military or other elites within the state apparatus to unseat the sitting executive.”[1] They arrive at this definition by combining common definitions in the existing literature and removing specificities and ambiguities that exist in many definitions.[1]

In looser usage, as in “intelligence coup” or “boardroom coup”, the term simply refers to gaining a sudden advantage on a rival.

Putsch

Since an unsuccessful coup d’état in 1920 (the Kapp Putsch), the Swiss-German word Putsch (pronounced [pʊtʃ], coined for the Züriputsch of September 6, 1839, in Zurich), also denotes the politico-military actions of an unsuccessful minority reactionary coup.[6][7][8]

Other recent and notable unsuccessful minority reactionary coups that are often referred to as Putsches are the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch and Küstrin Putsch, 1961 Algiers Putsch and the 1991 August Putsch. Putsch was used as disinformation by Hitler and his Nazi supporters to falsely claim that he had to suppress a reactionary coup during the Night of the Long Knives. Germans still use the term Röhm-Putsch to describe the murders, the term given to it by the Nazi regime, despite its unproven implication that the murders were necessary to prevent a coup. German authors often use quotation marks or write about the sogenannter Röhm-Putsch (“so-called Röhm Putsch”) for emphasis.[9]

Pronunciamiento

Pronunciamiento (“pronouncement”) is a term of Spanish and Latin-American origin for a special type of coup d’état. The coup d’état (called golpe de Estado in Spanish) was more common in Spain and South America, while the pronunciamiento was more common in Central America. The pronunciamiento is the formal explanation for deposing the regnant government, justifying the installation of the new government that was effected with the golpe de Estado.

In a coup, it is the military, paramilitary, or opposing political faction that deposes the current government and assumes power; whereas, in the pronunciamiento, the military deposes the existing government and installs an (ostensibly) civilian government.[10]

History

According to Clayton Thyne and Jonathan Powell’s coup dataset, there were 457 coup attempts from 1950 to 2010, of which 227 (49.7%) were successful and 230 (50.3%) were unsuccessful.[1] They find that coups have “been most common in Africa and the Americas (36.5% and 31.9%, respectively). Asia and the Middle East have experienced 13.1% and 15.8% of total global coups, respectively. Europe has experienced by far the fewest number of coup attempts: 2.6%.”[1] Most coup attempts occurred in the mid-1960s, but there were also large numbers of coup attempts in the mid-1970s and the early 1990s.[1] Successful coups have decreased over time.[1] Coups that occur in the post-Cold War period are more likely to result in democratic systems.[11][12][13] Coups that occur during civil wars shorten the war’s duration.[14] Research suggests that protests spur coups, as they help elites within the state apparatus to coordinate coups.[15]

Types

A 2016 study categorizes coups into four possible outcomes:[12]

  • Failed coup.
  • No regime change. Such as when a leader is illegally shuffled out of power without changing the identity of the group in power or the rules for governing.
  • Replacement of incumbent dictatorship with another.
  • Ouster of the dictatorship followed by democratization.

The 2016 study found that about half of all coups — both during and after the Cold War — install new autocratic regimes.[12] New dictatorships launched by coups engage in higher levels of repression in the year that follows the coup than existed in the year leading to the coup.[12] One third of coups during the Cold War and 10 percent of post-Cold War coups reshuffled the regime leadership.[12] Democracies were installed in the wake of 12 percent of Cold War coups and 40 percent of the post-Cold War coups.[12]

Samuel Huntington’s three types

Writing in 1968, political scientist Samuel P. Huntington identified three types of coup d’état, which correspond to the role the military plays in three different types of praetorian society.[16] As society changes, so does the role of the military. In the world of oligarchy, the soldier is a radical; in the middle class he is a participant and arbiter; as the “mass society looms on the horizon he becomes the conservative guardian of the existing order”.

Breakthrough coups

In breakthrough coups, the soldier plays the role of “reformer”, moving the society from “Oligarchical to Radical Praetorianism”. “In oligarchical praetorianism the dominant social forces are landowners, the leading clergy, and the wielders of the sword”. In “radical” society, the middle-class is an important social and political class. The shift toward “radical” society take the form of slow evolution, or a “breakthrough” to middle-class political participation may be led by civilian intelligentsia. A breakthrough to radical praetorianism (in which the military plays an important role among the middle class who govern) may occur when middle-class officers dislodge the civilian intelligentsia who led the breakthrough, or the military may take power directly from the absolute monarchy or the oligarchs in a military coup.

Arbiter coups

In this type of coup, society is in the stage of “radical praetorianism,” meaning that the praetorian society is in the “middle stages in the expansion of political participation,” when the middle-class (including the military) are actively involved in politics, but the masses are not regularly politically mobilized. This type of society often follows the breakthrough coup, which “clears the way for the entry of other middle-class elements into politics”. In radical praetorian society, various middle-class groups may act against one another in riots or demonstrations, and the military will step in with a military coup to re-establish order and “halt the rabid mobilization of social forces into politics and into the streets…to defuse the explosive political situation”.

Veto coup d’état

Veto coups d’état occur when the army vetoes the people’s mass participation and social mobilisation in governing themselves. “Military interventions of this “veto” variety thus directly reflect increasing lower-class political participation in politics”. In “veto coups” the soldier plays the role of “guardian of the existing order.” In such a case, the army confronts and suppresses large-scale, broad-based civil opposition.

Predictors

A 2003 review of the academic literature found that the following factors were associated with coups:

  • officers’ personal grievances
  • military organizational grievances
  • military popularity
  • military attitudinal cohesiveness
  • economic decline
  • domestic political crisis
  • contagion from other regional coups
  • external threat
  • participation in war
  • foreign veto power[clarify] and military’s national security doctrine
  • officers’ political culture
  • noninclusive institutions
  • colonial legacy
  • economic development
  • undiversified exports
  • officers’ class composition
  • military size
  • strength of civil society
  • regime legitimacy and past coups.[17]

The literature review in a 2016 study includes mentions of ethnic factionalism, supportive foreign governments, leader inexperience, slow growth, commodity price shocks, and poverty.[18]

The cumulative number of coups is a strong predictor of future coups.[17][19][20] Hybrid regimes are more vulnerable to coups than very authoritarian states or democratic states.[21] A 2015 study finds that terrorism is strongly associated with re-shuffling coups.[22] A 2016 study finds that there is an ethnic component to coups: “When leaders attempt to build ethnic armies, or dismantle those created by their predecessors, they provoke violent resistance from military officers.”[23] Another 2016 study shows that protests increase the risk of coups, presumably because they ease coordination obstacles among coup plotters and make international actors less likely to punish coup leaders.[24] A third 2016 study finds that coups become more likely in the wake of elections in autocracies when the results reveal electoral weakness for the incumbent autocrat.[25] A fourth 2016 study finds that inequality between social classes increase the likelihood of coups.[26] A 2016 study rejects the notion that participation in war makes coups more likely; to the contrary, coup risk declines in the presence of enduring interstate conflict.[27] One study found that coups are more likely to occur in states with small populations, as there are smaller coordination problems for coup-plotters.[28]

Coup-proofing

In what is referred to as “coup-proofing”, regimes create structures that make it hard for any small group to seize power. These coup-proofing strategies may include the strategic placing of family, ethnic, and religious groups in the military; creation of an armed force parallel to the regular military, and development of multiple internal security agencies with overlapping jurisdiction that constantly monitor one another.[29] Research shows that some coup-proofing strategies reduce the risk of coups occurring.[30][31] However, coup-proofing reduces military effectiveness,[32][33][34] and limits the rents that an incumbent can extract.[35]

A 2016 study shows that the implementation of succession rules reduce coup attempts.[36] Succession rules are believed to hamper coordination efforts among coup plotters by assuaging the elites who have more to gain with patience than with plotting.[36]

According to political scientists Curtis Bell and Jonathan Powell, coup attempts in neighbouring countries lead to greater coup-proofing and coup-related repression in a region.[37]

Democratization

Research suggests that coups promote democratization in staunchly authoritarian regimes, have become less likely to end democracy over time, and that the positive influence has strengthened since the end of the Cold War.[11][12][38][39][40]

A 2014 study found that “coups promote democratization, particularly among states that are least likely to democratize otherwise”.[38] The authors argue that coup attempts can have this consequence because leaders of successful coups have incentives to democratize quickly in order to establish political legitimacy and economic growth while leaders who stay in power after failed coup attempts see it as a sign that they must enact meaningful reforms to remain in power.[38] A 2014 study found that 40% of post-Cold War coups were successful. The authors argue that this may be due to the incentives created by international pressure.[11] A 2016 study found that democracies were installed in 12 percent of Cold War coups and 40 percent of the post-Cold War coups.[12]

Repression after failed coups, and counter-coups

According to Naunihal Singh, author of Seizing Power: The Strategic Logic of Military Coups (2014), it is “fairly rare” for the prevailing existing government to violently purge the army after a coup has been foiled. If it starts mass killing elements of the army, including officers who were not involved in the coup, this may trigger a “counter-coup” by soldiers who are afraid they will be next. To prevent such a desperate counter-coup that may be more successful than the initial attempt, governments usually resort to firing prominent officers and replacing them with loyalists instead.[41]

Some research suggests that increased repression and violence typically follow coup attempts (whether they’re successes or failures).[42] However, some tentative analysis by political scientist Jay Ulfelder finds no clear pattern of deterioration in human-rights practices in wake of failed coups in post-Cold War era.[43]

Notable counter-coups include the Ottoman countercoup of 1909, the 1960 Laotian counter-coup, the 1966 Nigerian counter-coup, the 1967 Greek counter-coup, and the 1971 Sudanese counter-coup.

A 2017 study finds that the use of state broadcasting by the putschist regime after Mali’s 2012 coup did not elevate explicit approval for the regime.[44]

International responses

The international community tends to react adversely to coups by reducing aid and imposing sanctions. A 2015 study finds that “coups against democracies, coups after the Cold War, and coups in states heavily integrated into the international community are all more likely to elicit global reaction.”[45] Another 2015 study shows that coups are the strongest predictor for the imposition of democratic sanctions.[46] A third 2015 study finds that Western states react strongest against coups of possible democratic and human rights abuses.[46] A 2016 study shows that the international donor community in the post-Cold War period penalizes coups by reducing foreign aid.[47] The US has been inconsistent in applying aid sanctions against coups both during the Cold War and post-Cold War periods, a likely consequence of its geopolitical interests.[47]

Organizations such as the African Union and Organization of American States have adopted anti-coup frameworks. Through the threat of sanctions, the organizations actively try to curb coups. A 2016 study finds that the African Union has played a meaningful role in reducing African coups.[48]

A forthcoming study in the Journal of Conflict Resolution finds that negative international responses to regimes created in coups have a significant influence on the sustainability of those regimes.[49] The study finds that “state reactions have the strongest effect during the Cold War, while international organizations matter the most afterward.”[49] Negative international responses from strong actors matter the most.[49]

Current leaders who assumed power via coups d’état

Position Name Assumed power as of Replaced Country Coup d’état
Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said[50]1 23 July 1970 Said bin Taimur  Oman 1970 Omani coup d’état
President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo 3 August 1979 Francisco Macías Nguema  Equatorial Guinea 1979 Equatoguinean coup d’état
President Yoweri Museveni 29 January 1986 Tito Okello  Uganda Ugandan Bush War
President Omar al-Bashir 30 June 1989 Sadiq al-Mahdi  Sudan 1989 Sudanese coup d’état
President Idriss Déby 2 December 1990 Hissène Habré  Chad 1990 Chadian revolution
President Isaias Afwerki 27 April 19912 Mengistu Haile Mariam
(Ethiopia)
 Eritrea Eritrean War of Independence
Prime Minister Hun Sen August 1997 Norodom Ranariddh  Cambodia 1997 Cambodian coup d’état
President Denis Sassou Nguesso 25 October 1997 Pascal Lissouba  Republic of the Congo Republic of the Congo Civil War
Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama 5 December 2006 Laisenia Qarase  Fiji 2006 Fijian coup d’état
President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz3 6 August 2008 Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi  Mauritania 2008 Mauritanian coup d’état
President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi[51] 3 July 2013 Mohamed Morsi  Egypt 2013 Egyptian coup d’état
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha 22 May 2014 Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisan4  Thailand 2014 Thai coup d’état
President of the Revolutionary Committee Mohammed Ali al-Houthi 6 February 2015 Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi5  Yemen 2014–15 Yemeni coup d’état

1Monarch who overthrew his father in a bloodless palace coup.
2As head of Provisional Government of Eritrea, which declared independence 24 May 1993.
3Subsequently, confirmed by a narrow margin in the 2009 Mauritanian presidential election, which was deemed “satisfactory” by international observers.
4Acting Prime Minister at that time.
5Hadi resigned on 22 January 2015.

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