Updated 17 August 2014
Joseph Lorenzo Hall, chief technologist for the Center for Democracy and Technology states the idea of becoming “NSA-proof” is “just silly. If they want it, they can get it”
“And so he takes great pains to stay one step ahead of his presumed pursuers—he switches computers and email accounts constantly. Nevertheless, he knows he’s liable to be compromised eventually: “I’m going to slip up and they’re going to hack me. It’s going to happen”” James Bamford, quoting Edward Snowden
All the encryption in the world isn’t going to protect a hacked computer, trust Edward Snowden. But first, a bit of my own story and then on to how (not) to leak:
When I’d exited the U.S. Army in April, 1976, I held a top secret clearance. The only documents I had taken with me were a complete record of my military 201 file. I also had (since) acquired copies of my veterans and social security files. How I’d managed copies of these are a secret, along the lines of Benjamin Franklin’s ‘three people can keep a secret if two of them are dead.’ In this regard, it is worth mentioning I have held information between my ears that has never been entered into a computer, let alone sent via any email.
Ok, so I can tell how I acquired the social security file, the social security administration fucked up and mailed me my own file. Yes, the original, which I went through with what certain people might have assumed would be great satisfaction, as supposedly I realized I was the censor who’d decide what I could see in my file. Of course I redacted or with-held nothing in my self exam, prior to sending the file on to my attorney who notified the social security administration we were (supposedly) inadvertently in possession of the file and to who should we send it to? A lady at the administration, in subsequent conversation, commented to myself something along the lines of ‘NO ONE has had the access to their file that you have had…’
But in fact this social security business was patent bs. Almost certainly the file had been deliberately sent my way, stripped of certain records, to throw me off the trail of then senators Max Baucus and Conrad Burns who both were suspects in regards to my file having been sequestered for months at the Social Security offices in Maryland while it was investigated whether I could be charged with fraud. Why? The USA appears to have left no stone unturned in efforts to take myself out of the public circulation due to my anti-corruption work of that era (1990s.) It was about this time I’d produced copies of records from my VA file (like a magician) after certain originals had gone missing following an ‘expert’ sent from Washington to Helena (Montana, where my file was kept) to ‘review’ files, kept me from charges of fraud relating to my veteran’s disability pension.
This (failed) ‘deep state’ caper in regards to attempt at trumping up felony charges intended to send me to jail and end my work, follows typical false flag spy-craft model. The people hearing the case, had it been successfully pursued, would have been innocents looking at a record they could not know (or believe) had been tampered with, to secure a conviction. My having copies of my VA file documents, saved my butt. I produced the necessary copy of a critical document at the initial hearing and the case was dismissed on the spot.
It wasn’t until I’d dug into the USA’s funding of charter schools as cover for intelligence embeds, the agencies had begun playing hardball or, that is to say, devoted resources to taking me out physically (assassination.)
Prior to this, during my stint with Special Forces, I’d the best possible education in operations and intelligence because it was not school, but OJT (on-the-job-training) with veterans of operations coordinated with CIA in Indochina and Central America. This was the best (or worst, depending on one’s perspective) avenue to knowledge in the ‘game’ of international intrigue; it was unrestricted, first hand knowledge of the dirty aspect of the business on the ground, where the intrigues hatched by criminal minds at Langley, Virginia, are played out. Suffice it to say, I departed Special Forces with a remarkable understanding of how underhanded the game of spies is played, the paramount importance of employing psychology to one’s advantage (in often devious ways), and the imperative necessity of the death of one’s conscience to be successful and survive (and ultimately is why I accepted a reduction in rank to leave a Special Forces intelligence assignment and retrain for a new & different skill set, shy of a year on the job.) I took my conscience, intact, with me on departure, together with a remarkable skills set I developed through experience, in subsequent work as investigator. My favorite of these skills had been open source analysis, in fact in light of the avalanche of criticisms since the Snowden revelations, it has been pointed out CIA open source analysis has been more effective, by far, than any NSA program, in relation to spy-craft.
Now, applying old school spy-craft, to the point of this essay; how NOT to leak-
However ‘SecureDrop’ might be well intended, I wouldn’t touch it with the proverbial ten-foot pole. What’s more is, I doubt you’d even need it, if you wished to leak. I’ll go into the why you wouldn’t need it first, and then why I wouldn’t touch it.
If you wished to have a secure platform to leak criminal activities from, as opposed to a ‘secure’ online platform to leak to, you should be able to build one yourself. And you shouldn’t need to be a computer guru to do it. The recipe is exceedingly simple:
Acquire an older laptop that cannot be traced to you, from a yard sale in an unfamiliar neighborhood, example given. Park your car away from where you make the purchase. Or pick one up in a junk store. I don’t advise stealing a machine, but that’d work if you’re a professional thief and don’t leave a trail. You prefer a laptop that predates NSA advances in modifying computers in the commercial market. Acquired a working clunker from 2002, say a PowerBook with an airport card? Perfect. An Apple machine is preferable, so there are no complications with anti-virus updates. We know the NSA has arranged to implant computers with bugged software, actual hardware in some cases, and we want a computer that does not ‘call home’ (NSA) when certain red flags might be triggered by materials you might be handling.
Now, before you even fire the old machine up for the first time, you kill the web-cam with indelible marker or a piece of paper taped over it will do just fine. And you plug the microphone and speaker jacks with dummies cut from discarded actual microphones and speakers and epoxy them in place, just to make certain they stay there. Cut them off where the metal plug extends from the jack, so they are not obvious. Now your ‘leak platform’ is blind, deaf and dumb. Search the machine for any GPS integrated software programs and disable them. DO NOT log into internet from your home.
Now, as to what you might be leaking, consider whether it will be tracked to you on the back-end (source.) Be assured there will be (post Snowden) efforts to do certain things, like identify a computer that had items downloaded onto a memory stick. How will you get your materials safely to the machine you intend to leak from? Old fashioned spy-craft is something to consider, if you do not feel secure in the environment whose security you are breaching. Digital photos of actual documents can be loaded into the computer or paper documents can be scanned into your ‘leak platform’ (in which case you will want an older, untraceable scanner as well.) Use a digital camera that cannot be traced to you. You NEVER want to mail by post any documents, because certain addresses will be flagged by intelligence agencies and your package could be intercepted and might give up fingerprints and/or DNA. and other information, such as a the postmark information needed to review security footage at specific location on certain date. Also, you’ll want clean paper documents for a scanner (particularly) or digital camera, on account of the possibility with a high resolution, you might inadvertently scan your own or your colleagues fingerprints (use gloves when working with any paper documents.)
Ask yourself, is the material you are considering making public, of a demonstrable criminal nature? Or, does it shock the conscience in a sense of egregious violating principles of ethics? COVER YOUR ASS, BECAUSE NO MATTER THE PRECAUTIONS TAKEN, YOU MIGHT GET CAUGHT. Public opinion might save your butt, but don’t count on it, it hasn’t worked for Snowden (yet.)
Remind yourself, from the time of Bradley Manning to Snowden, there has been a dearth of leakers that have gone undetected. Has it ever crossed your mind there has been no ‘deep throat‘ in our present era, and why it seems everyone gets busted instead? As well, our Federalist Society majority on the USA’s ‘deep state’ owned (corporate board controlled) Supreme Court has just refused first amendment free press protection to journalism in the case of James Risen in a leaks case. They’ll be after you with everything at the system’s disposal and your chances are not good if you are detected.
Now, you’ve decided, as a patriot, your leak is worth your liberty and/or life and you’ve convinced yourself you’ve stolen the material you wish to leak without getting caught (let’s hope you’re right) and it’s time to deliver to the journalists, undetected. Perhaps you’d wish to wait three or six months, after you’ve gotten away with the initial theft, it’d be nice if the trail grows cold. Now, your documents are loaded into file that is easy to access, for instance located on the desktop. The email addresses you wish to send the information to are handy. Now, your platform, ‘Dr Leakey’ (named for the archaeologist), is ready. You are in familiar turf (if you are confident), or you have traveled to unfamiliar territory (if you have nerves of steel.) What you need is an open wireless signal you can log onto. When you’ve found this at a cafe or a truckstop or simply a careless person in any neighborhood where you can log in from, sitting in your car parked close by, log on. Create a faked email account (that you will never use again.) Send a first mail (BCC to recipients) to yourself, explaining there is a second mail following with attachments and stating if the recipient does not see the second mail, to look in their spam folder. This mail should pop up and you see it with no failed addresses (from the BCC to the people you are mailing.) Seeing you have a working address on both ends (i.e. a functioning mail account) and are you still determined to do this, ask yourself, for real? Deep breath, new mail addressed, attached file(s), hit send, have coffee, read the paper, look at ease, normal, belonging in your environment while the what might seem like ages in time pass as the file uploads over a clunker computer and finally the mail goes ‘whoosh’ (in your mind) and the leak is done.
Calmly go on about your day and know how you will be disposing of Dr Leakey. You used him for this one project and will never use him again. Example given, pull out the ram, hard drive goes to the incinerator (an all night campfire will do), break the screen as though Dr Leakey had been accidentally dropped & parts salvaged, and the carcass destination ends in a dumpster. Same end for either the digital camera or scanner, if you used these. Be patient for results in the news. You’ve just dropped a bomb from the unseen world and any journalist worth your while, will take time to try and authenticate the information you’ve provided. If they blow it off and never pursue the lead, maybe the gods actually love you. You’ve laid in a small dose of Valium for a possible polygraph (you can beat by simply being relaxed with telling a lie.) If you’ve gotten away with it, resist temptation to ever do it again. There might be such thing as a charmed life, but it’s probably not yours.
By now, the NSA with its billions of mails to look through, will come up with (at most) someone sent a mail from an account used ONCE, from an old computer they never see log in again, over some unsecured random wireless signal in the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area, example given. Maybe you live in this area of 13 million people or maybe you don’t. This is because you left little in the way of digital fingerprints by finding a way around taking your leak out on a memory stick. Enjoy a quiet laugh and hope you were good enough getting the material out the back-end, with a cold or faint trail, because if you did it right, they can’t track you from that end. And then erase your personal memory, the one between your ears, because you never wish to tell ANYONE, who you are, in relation to what you’ve done. And at the end of the day, remember Snowden did not use an online leaks platform. He’s since stated he has professional spy training and this is borne out by his actions, he leaked the old fashioned way, along the lines set out by a former FBI agent in the article ‘Spy Craft for Hacks.‘ You’d need cold nerves, excellent understanding of the environment and good luck, to pull it off. Nothing suffices for this like training and even then, there is no absolute way of doing these things undetected. Luck and competence of your adversaries play into this as well.
Now, to why you probably don’t actually want or need to leak. Firstly, Snowden has done everything that needs done. What we know is no longer a conspiracy ‘theory’ (rather fact) is, the USA’s security state is behaving like nazis in relation to surveillance of its own people. We know it’s likely the corporate ‘deep state’ co-opted congress, president and courts are doing and will do little or nothing to actually change this behavior of the MILITARY elements in control of the runaway NSA, other than at most, wring their hands for public consumption. You don’t need much more knowledge than Snowden has provided, to effect change, if change is going to happen. And if change isn’t happening, what’s the point? If our society’s leading lights are merely content (at most) to shout and stamp their feet like spoiled children at what is going on, rather than shut down ‘business as usual’ along the lines of refusing this criminal hydra legitimacy and attending power, and you don’t see the tectonic plate shift in public outrage necessary to force the issue, there really is no point, people have been cowed into obedience along the lines predicted by both Orwell & Huxley. On the one hand you have Orwell’s conservative sheep bleating on behalf of the ‘security’ state over the terror propaganda all of our western world has been fed. On the other hand you have Huxley’s ‘it’s all about me’ MTV generation could care less about civil liberties beyond freedom to consume, extreme sport, sex, fashion and media ego. With corporate media feeding a public with an education one mile wide and one quarter inch deep, Billy Graham and Hollywood (our two primary oracles of ‘god’) rule a society which has cannot be saved from itself, because you cannot get the majority’s attention long enough to explain a few things that might change their focus, if not their beliefs, whether puritan or hedonistic. This reflects social engineering via information operations. Stepping into/out of this world in relation to spies and leaking is a very dangerous proposition for the untrained. Now is time to work with what Snowden has revealed, not obsess with pursing endless soap operas concerning information on criminals you exercise no real control over. And there is a reason intelligence will want you obsessing (keep reading.)
Secondly, what Snowden has revealed merely confirms what can be clearly inferred from open source analysis, our civil structures have become criminal, out of control, one could go so far as to simply state ‘insane.’ And this is what is distracted from, when obsessed with being outraged at the western democracies ‘voyeurism’ in relation to ‘the people’ who supposedly are in control of our future direction via the principle of ‘consent of the governed.’ The propagandists at the several corporate board controlled intelligence agencies, via co-opted western media, will work to guide and exploit this national tantrum to a calmed down child at the end of the day.
As to the ongoing criminal agendas, one only need look at Monsanto as a corporate poster child and how they’ve managed to buy congress and the courts via Federalist Society owned justices at the top, along the lines of ‘citizens united.’ As for the out of control, one only need look at how ineffective congressional oversight has been, and is presently, in regards to NSA, example given, and there is no change in sight. As for the insane, one only need look at the USA, and it’s lapdog western democracies, pushing Russia to the brink with geo-political capers recently best illustrated in Ukraine, and how western media lies to the public about what is actually going on. Left unchecked, this insanity will certainly lead to VERY BAD subsequent events.
Now, thirdly, to alternative media and the so-called ‘progressive’ movement, recalling Snowden leaked the ‘old fashioned’ way and farther reason why I wouldn’t touch any online platform, despite the indomitable Guardian has subscribed to ‘SecureDrop.’
To begin with, directing leaks to electronics communications platforms is playing to the NSA’s strong point, this area of expertise is SIGINT (signals intelligence) forte. No matter the encryption expertise involved in any platform’s construction, it is an invitation to play in the lion’s den. Be assured, the NSA (not to mention GCHQ and other intelligence agencies) will assign crack teams to SecureDrop. To the Guardian’s credit, they warn there is no promise of a foolproof system and they cannot assure anyone 100% security with the new platform. But, in addition to this caveat, there is an altogether overlooked danger in using SecureDrop.
The Guardian is an organization that would be very deliberately targeted by HUMINT (human intelligence) as a matter of fact. Organizations wishing to penetrate, spy, shape dialogue & policy within the Guardian would include MOSSAD, CIA, DGSE (France) and the British intelligence agencies. Each of these agencies will have a vested interest in covert penetration of the Guardian on account of that paper not having been entirely co-opted by the western democracies ‘deep state.’ As opposed to dealing with a Glenn Greenwald who’s connected at the top tier of Guardian management, anything, even were it successfully sent through what might be a presently secure system, is at risk nevertheless, of exposure to clandestine a rabbit warren designed by spies within the Guardian organization. Trust me, they’re there. MOSSAD particularly, would be interested in any information it could potentially acquire, as ‘chits’ to trade to the USA (and other nations) for political favors, as its political currency continues in steady decline over West Bank issues. Just because you possibly managed a ‘secure’ leak over the SecureDrop system, does not mean you are secure, not by a long shot, because you cannot know how the material might be compromised after it has been put through, let alone whether the system itself is already penetrated/designed to identify the source point of the upload. And every week that passes since the SecureDrop introduction, the mathematical probabilities it will be penetrated by national & corporate SIGINT agencies increase, with multiple resources devoted to precisely that task.
And now to the odious (closing) aspect of this essay.
“You can imagine my surprise when I read the June 13, 1971, issue of the Sunday New York Times and saw there among the “Pentagon Papers” a number of basic information papers that had been in my own files in the Joint Chiefs of Staff area of the Pentagon. Most of the papers of that period had been source documents from which I had prepared dozens — even hundreds — of briefings, for all kinds of projects, to be given to top Pentagon officers. Not only had many of those papers been in my files, but I had either written many of them myself or had written certain of the source documents used by the men who did.
“Many people have been so concerned about what has been happening to our Government that they have dedicated themselves to investigating and exposing its evils. Unfortunately, a number of these writers have been dupes of those cleverer than they or with sinister reasons for concealing knowledge. They have written what they thought was the truth, only to find out (if they ever did find out) that they had been fed a lot of contrived cover stories and just plain hogwash
“In the hands of Allen Dulles, “secrecy” was simply a chameleon device to be used as he saw fit and to be applied to lesser men according to his schemes. It is quite fantastic to find people like Daniel Ellsberg being charged with leaking official secrets simply because the label on the piece of paper said “TOP SECRET,” when the substance of many of the words written on those same papers was patently untrue and no more than a cover story. Except for the fact that they were official “lies”, these papers had no basis in fact, and therefore no basis to be graded TOP SECRET or any other degree of classification
“Any reader of the “Pentagon Papers” should be warned that although they were commissioned on June 17, 1967, by the Secretary of Defense as “the history of United States involvement in Vietnam from World War II [Sept 2, 1945] to the present” , they are unreliable, inaccurate and marred by serious omissions. They are a contrived history, at best, even though they were written by a selected Task Force under Pentagon leadership” -Pentagon liaison to the CIA, L. Fletcher Prouty
Daniel Ellsberg has been a champion of WikiLeaks. And now he is promoting SecureDrop for Exposefacts.org. Open source analysis profiles (STRONGLY) Daniel Ellsberg as an intelligence agency officer, almost certainly CIA. What the CIA edits at wikipedia doesn’t inform of, when the public is fed…
“Ellsberg served in the Pentagon from August 1964 under Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara (and, in fact, was on duty on the evening of the Gulf of Tonkin incident, reporting the incident to McNamara). He then served for two years in Vietnam working for General Edward Lansdale as a civilian in the State Department”
…is Ellsberg’s work for Edward Lansdale at Department of State has CIA information operations written all over it. One of CIA’s big tasks is information operations or social engineering via psychological manipulation of entire populations. And Ellsberg was working with one of the CIA’s true big shots in this area of intelligence expertise. The ultimate purpose of the ‘Pentagon Papers’ leak was information operations (social engineering) to shield the CIA from public accountability for the massive intelligence & related policy failures in Vietnam; by shifting public focus onto the Pentagon. The CIA was expendable and could have been disbanded. The Pentagon could not be done away with.
Colonel Prouty blew the whistle on the CIA & Ellsberg over 40 years ago. His work, which has borne the test of time, is buried, meanwhile, whistle-blower ‘legend’ Ellsberg invites leakers into the SecureDrop cobra’s lair… as you actually believe the initial SecureDrop developer, Aaron Schwartz, hanged himself. Probably, like Gary Webb shot himself in the head TWICE (Superman could do that.) It’s an old model, for instance when Eli Black had stepped into longtime CIA turf at United Fruit, he was framed with an SEC investigation and subsequently ‘depressed’, Eli ‘jumped’ 44 floors from his office building. No-no, the CIA liaised generals at NSA won’t be allowing certain activities to move forward unimpeded. The only question with ‘SecureDrop’ is, how it has been/will be compromised.
Has it ever occurred to anyone, as to why, no one has ever outed a ‘Kim Philby‘ embedded in the progressive and peace movements, as though intelligence operatives would never caper within that playground? I’ll name you three. 1) Daniel Ellsberg. 2) Robert Parry. 3) Ray McGovern.
Deep State I Foundation article
Deep State II FBI complicity
Deep State III CIA narcotics trafficking
Deep State IV NATO & Gladio
Deep State V Economics & counter-insurgency
The Alpha Chronology my narrative as Deep State survivor
Deep State Related :
Above Top Secret How (not) To Leak
Poison Fruit Robert Parry’s journalism
Intelligence Agencies & Wikipedia You are what you think
Obama’s Ukraine History of the new regime’s neo-fascism
The New Great Game A motive in Ukraine
Victoria Nuland’s Wedding Allied with Christian al-Qaida
Germany’s Martyrs of the Maidan Nazi collaboration
Dominionism’s Fingers in Kiev The Vatican-USA partnership
The Washington Post & Double Think Geo-political insanity
The Disinformation Nation Propaganda on Ukraine
Tactical Nuclear Weapons for Dummies Pentagon fantasies
Overview Egypt, Libya & Syria
Egypt Round Two The Generals take it back
Syria Part One Al Jazeera (Stooge TV)
Syria Part Two Chemical Madness
Syria Part Three Obama-McCain-al Qaida alliance
Syria Part Four Syria, al Qaida & Iraq
Ronald Thomas West is a former U.S. intelligence professional