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If what the NSA is doing, as revealed in the latest Der Spiegel piece out today is legal ... then bloody everything is now legal - as long as it is in the name of national security, however loosely defined you choose to make it.

We have watched over the last several months an unending litany of "questionable" tactics being used by the NSA in their pursuit of the war on any remaining semblance of privacy, or what I think they call the war on terror.

Just when you think you have heard it all, that there is no way it can get much worse, well ... it does.

A document viewed by SPIEGEL resembling a product catalog reveals that an NSA division called ANT has burrowed its way into nearly all the security architecture made by the major players in the industry -- including American global market leader Cisco and its Chinese competitor Huawei, but also producers of mass-market goods, such as US computer-maker Dell.

These NSA agents, who specialize in secret back doors, are able to keep an eye on all levels of our digital lives -- from computing centers to individual computers, from laptops to mobile phones. For nearly every lock, ANT seems to have a key in its toolbox. And no matter what walls companies erect, the NSA's specialists seem already to have gotten past them.

This, at least, is the impression gained from flipping through the 50-page document. The list reads like a mail-order catalog, one from which other NSA employees can order technologies from the ANT division for tapping their targets' data. The catalog even lists the prices for these electronic break-in tools, with costs ranging from free to $250,000.

The Guardian also has its take on the revelations:
A top-secret National Security Agency hacking unit infiltrates computers around the world and breaks into the toughest data targets, according to internal documents quoted in a magazine report on Sunday.

Details of how the division, known as Tailored Access Operations (TAO), steals data and inserts invisible "back door" spying devices into computer systems were published by the German magazine Der Spiegel.

The magazine portrayed TAO as an elite team of hackers specialising in gaining undetected access to intelligence targets that have proved the toughest to penetrate through other spying techniques, and described its overall mission as "getting the ungettable". The report quoted an official saying that the unit's operations have obtained "some of the most significant intelligence our country has ever seen".

If the Spiegel article is correct the NSA has the ability to do just about anything it wants to anybody through any form of technology. They have succeeded is having the ability to compromise pretty much any system or piece of equipment out there. Nothing you own is safe from NSA's peeping toms.

Please take the time to read the whole article and the related articles that it links to. It really is quite breathtaking in scope.

To anyone that thinks that Snowden has not done the entire human race a huge favor with his revelations all I can say is ... you sure sell your freedom cheaply.

And to the NSA ... cause I know your reading ... why why why ... since you have these powerful weapons, can you not turn them loose on the real criminals out there ... the Bank of America's, the J.P. Morgans, the HSBCs, the Exxons, the Koch brothers ... There actually is some real criminal activity going on, criminal activity that is far far far more dangerous to America's future than any 2 bit terrorist organization in the desert could ever be (and for the people who use 9/11 to start every response ... 9/11 was only successful because the US so wildly overreacted. The real long term damage to US security and the economy was/has been self inflicted).

There will be blow back, and rightly so. You can try and spy on everyone, but to think that this can stay secret, or that there will not be blow back is naive to the extreme. We already saw an example a couple of months back when IBM showed a massive drop in China sales, as the Chinese government cut back purchases in response to the Snowden revelations.

The hardware business across those elements of the product line accepting zSeries performance (IBM mainframe computers), it was down substantially. We were talking 40%, 50%. Enormous reductions on a year-to-year basis in a geography where we intended to see growth rates.”  

They’d intended to see double digit growth rates. He referred to last year, when sales in China were up 19%, “driven heavily by really strong performance in hardware base,” he said. But suddenly, hardware sales collapsed “40%, 50%” from last year. IBM didn’t even have time to come up with a credible excuse.

We have seen Silicon Valley execs make this very point to President Obama in person. After today's revelations the screams will only get louder.

In today's technologically driven world, where we are increasingly interconnected, the NSA's actions may have done more to damage America's reputation and economy than anything AQ could ever do. AND ... all of this was done in secret, without the consent of the governed.

I want to know which elected official(s) approved this.

Update: some comments from the Guardian website related to this story:

our US 'friends' have hit the self-destruct button. how a nation can piss away so much credit in a decade, is staggerin
So this is how they protect our freedom? By violating our freedom? It seems like their security services' mentality is still stuck in Vietnam War era 'We had to destroy the village in order to save it' rationalisations.
Al Qaeda are frantically checking their server farms as we speak
Obama has already stated anyone who hacks the US will be declaring an act of war.
Then the US goes and hacks other people!!
What with all the other wars the US has implemented, I cant help but arrive at the conclusion, the US seem to be the biggest war mongers on this planet!
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