The NSA's mail intercepts, the NATO 3 trial, and why it “scares the daylights” out of potential targets

Just after New ears, ! searched Ama"on for a camera disguised as a pen# ! $rowsed there from an update a$out the upcoming NATO 3 trial, a trial which finally commenced in earnest this past wee%# ! was concerned, from what ! had $een reading, that all or part of the trial would $e conducted with the same %ind of secrecy at play in &radley 'anning's military tri$unal# After attempting unsuccessfully to find a physical outlet in (hicago selling such a de)ice, ! decided against the Ama"on purchase for a few reasons, the primary one $eing that a few days earlier !'d read *er Spiegel's reporting and watched Tor de)eloper Jaco$ Appel$aum's related 3+c3 tal% on the NSA's TAO unit# Among other types of attac%s, TAO uses mail pac%age intercepts to infect or spy on computer hardware# &y the end of that wee%, ! was ha)ing a little laugh at my le)el of paranoia on this# !magine my wry surprise, then, when ! read that the ,udge in the NATO 3 trial initially issued a ruling that spectators would not $e allowed pen and paper# -e are all a good $it tinfoil these days and since most .though $y no means all/ of what raises our suspicions turns out to ha)e a decent alternati)e e0planation, ! figured !'d ,ust %eep this little anecdote to myself and a few friends# &ut then late Thursday, core Tor de)eloper Andrea Shepard posted a screenshot to Twitter showing that an !&' 1eno)o Thin%pad 2ey$oard she'd ordered from Ama"on to an address in Seattle had started out from down the -est coast in Santa Ana, (alifornia and had $een successfully deli)ered instead across the continent to Ale0andria, 3irginia# &efore settling for good, the %ey$oard $ounced around the -ashington *#(# area for a few days# Ama"on's media contact has not responded to a message sent more than 45 hours ago# On Sunday morning, Sue &rennan, a spo%esperson for the 6#S# 7ostal Ser)ice, responded $y email8 “-e ha)e some people in our operations group chec%ing on this# ! hope to hear $ac% from them tomorrow#” On 9riday morning, Shepard agreed to a short inter)iew and we started setting up an Off The :ecord .OT:/ session# ! sent se)eral OT: messages to two different Ja$$er accounts, $ut Shepard ne)er responded# A few times lately this has happened to me and someone says afterward, “couldn't you see the messages ! was sending you;” ! thought !'d sol)ed those OT: pro$lems so ! sent a series of panic laden notes through another channel# 9riday e)ening Shepard wrote $ac% to moc% me a $it8 “ ou %now, you pro$a$ly didn't see a response $ecause it was < a#m#, and ! finally went to sleep#” On the more serious =uestions, such as whether this was ma%ing her concerned a$out pre)ious online purchases, Shepard said, “ eah, ! worry a$out other hardware#” One of the ways she tries to stay ahead is $y using some less popular gear# “There is )alue in $eing unusual#” Appel$aum, 1aura 7oitras, >len >reenwald and others in)ol)ed with computer cryptography and National Security reporting ha)e now opted to li)e outside the 6nited States# !n 7oitras' and Appel$aum's case, the choice appears to $e primarily moti)ated $y authoritarian 6S practices in response to their com$inations of programming, research, or reporting# >reenwald's e0?pat status originated for other, well?%nown reasons# !t's not clear, howe)er, that he'll $e )isiting in person any time soon# After the hardware re?direct, Shepard told me “!'m already trying to put plans to get out of the 6S together@ this place scares the daylights out of me#” !n Appel$aum and >reenwald's situations, their high?profile relationship to Snowden and

-i%ilea%s' disclosures of secret go)ernment documents helps to paint a picture of what they')e done to piss off the powers that $e# !n 7oitras' case, it seems possi$le that her Award winning documentary film wor% in !ra= landed her on a hit list of may$e ,ust one )ery powerful >eneral# 's# Shepard, $y contrast, is a programmer whose wor% for Tor mostly flies under the radar# She e0pressed a $it of surprise that her situation had made Techdirt# There is nothing that pu$licly connects her to National Security in)estigati)e reporting# Tor still recei)es much of its funding from the 6S go)ernment# Astonishing, shouldn't it $e, that a Tor programmer is so terrified of the same go)ernment that she's ma%ing plans to lea)e; -e may ne)er %now what happened with Shepard's %ey$oard# As she replied to someone immediately after posting the screenshot8 “That's the damn pro$lem@ it could ,ust $e a shipping fuc%up, $ut if it e)er shows ! Acan'tA trust it#” “'ay$e the lac% of su$tlety is the point,” suggested one commenter# “!t isn't sur)eillance per se@ more li%e gaslighting#” As Snowden remar%ed in a =uestion and answer session 9riday8 “Study after study has shown that human $eha)ior changes when we %now weBre $eing watched# 6nder o$ser)ation, we act less free, which means we effecti)ely AareA less free#” Similarly, we may ne)er %now the full e0tent to which intelligence community operati)es, who')e no $usiness spying on Americans, ha)e $een in)ol)ed with what has transpired to date with the NATO 3 situation# -hat we do %now is that &oo" Allen Camilton, the NSA contractor that employed Snowden, set up the (hicago 7olice *epartment intelligence unit's we$site ahead of the NoNATO demonstrations# -e also %now after this wee% of testimony from Nadia (hi%%o, one of the (hicago underco)ers who landed the NATO 3 in ,ail on terrorism charges, that (hicago 7olice are once again targeting people for sur)eillance $ased solely on their political $eliefs# 's# (hi%%o argued on the stand that snooping on people's con)ersations in cafe's, recording license plates at concerts, participating to the point of ,ostling officers in a 9uc% the 7olice march, plying a minor with alcohol .only DE4 a $eer, she swears/, and similar sur)eillance were all ,ustified $ecause other anarchists in another country had $ro%en some windows two years pre)iously during >4+ meetings# 'ar% &rown, writing in the (hicago Sun?Times, suggested that “these fishing e0peditions reminiscent of the :ed S=uad, the (7*'s dirty tric%s unit from days of yore” are far more creepy “than the NSA collecting records of my phone calls#” &ut what if the two are not unrelated; 9or months, !')e $een recei)ing warnings on my computer that “something is trying to tric% 9irefo0 into updating insecurely#” ! had updated the $rowser a few times myself, especially after it $ecame clear this summer that attac%s on Tor were e0ploiting 9irefo0# This time ! was meticulous in chec%ing CTT7S security certificates, comparing a non?Tor )ersion and the )ersion ! downloaded )ia Tor# ! also ad,usted the settings on one of my paid security software su$scriptions# !mmediately that software $egan screaming at me that my machine is infected with malware, first disco)ered $y researchers in 'arch of last year, that records and e0ports all of one's we$site )isiting acti)ities across multiple $rowsers# :eading up on the symptoms e0plained certain pro$lems !')e $een ha)ing for =uite some time now# .7ro$lems which, $y the way, cause (ryptocat to appear as if ! am using a (hrome $rowser e)en if ! am in the latest )ersions of 9irefo0 or Tor#/

! am not con)inced, at this point, that the NSA or 9&! or (hicago 7olice intel spied on my $rowsing, passed the information along to Judge Thaddeus -ilson, and that -ilson issued a “no pen” edict accordingly# So far as ! can tell, it has not $een esta$lished definiti)ely who is $ehind the ontoo )irus# !t could ,ust $e plain old malicious ad?ware, as it presents itself# Judge -ilson may simply ha)e $een responding to high?,in%s at the &radley 'anning trial that, gratefully, allowed us all to hear 'anning's ,ustification for his actions in his own words# -ilson re)ised his order $efore the opening day of the trial to allow pen and paper for spectators and has rela0ed some of his other initial restrictions# ! ha)e no criminal record and spent the last eight years in Toronto as a street pastor wor%ing with people who are homeless or otherwise poor# Should the fact that ! $egan spea%ing out accordingly a$out economic in,ustice and police a$use really mean that ! feel (anadian or 6S law enforcement and their partner corporations are potentially following my e)ery mo)e; !t was these interests and my 'ennonite commitment to peace that caused me to tune in to NoNATO protests carefully and to report on what ! was seeing with the NATO 3 from Toronto well $efore mo)ing to (hicago# 7resident O$ama and the intelligence community are adamant that the do"ens of NSA programs we')e $een introduced to since June must remain and, at most, $e su$,ect to cosmetic change# This, e)en as it $ecomes clearer and clearer that such programs ha)e not stopped any 6S terrorists attac%s, let alone the underwear $om$er or the &oston 'arathon $om$ings# !s chasing some of the $est programmers and ,ournalists out of the 6nited States worth this insistence; !s a return in (hicago to :ed S=uad practices of the DFG+s and DFH+s really the $est way to defeat those who supposedly hate us for our freedoms; (ollect?it?all sur)eillance means millions upon millions of Americans, perhaps $illions worldwide, are loo%ing furti)ely into their rear )iew mirrors to see whether disagreement with their go)ernment may mean they're $eing followed#