Never Date a Spy (espionage roundup: also Miranda detention, Michael Hastings)

If you’re sexually attractive, it’s probably a good idea to avoid people who work for an intelligence agency.

As it turns out, the practice of directing the NSA’s enormous eavesdropping capability at “love interests” is so common it’s got a name… next to SIGINT (“signals intelligence”) and HUMINT (“human intelligence”) there’s LOVEINT.

People whom you REALLY don’t want as stalkers, partial list…

Speaking of people with questionable morals, a blogger formerly employed by Snowden’s /other/ former employer of note weighs in on the Miranda detention. In a nutshell, he suggests the point was to deny Greenwald+Poitras the use of human couriers to carry data, or at least force them to use slower routes… a classic “anti-terrorism” tactic.

Same with the hard drive distruction — “The point was to make the Guardian spend time and energy developing suboptimal backup options — that is, to make journalism harder, slower, and less secure.”

A key quote: “The National Surveillance State doesn’t want anyone to be able to communicate without the authorities being able to monitor that communication.”

Like anyone formerly employed by an intelligence agency, the “no such thing as a former Chekist” rule should be kept firmly in mind when reading this… for example, he does a pretty good job of implanting in the reader the concept that (even if you hate them) the espiocracy is Omnipotent And To Be Feared.

Why do I take issue? Consider the “suboptimal backup options” thing. Let me introduce you to what I’ll call the Speer Principle — that, forged in the crucible of stiff opposition, a good mind can often come up with “backup options” that outperform the original.

(This happened in WWII, when Nazi war production actually increased as the Allies bombed Axis armaments factories… War production minister Albert Speer had to keep re-architecting things to deal with the damage and in the process kept finding new ways to improve efficiency. Obligatory: much of the production was done by slave labor in horrible conditions.)

In the Guardian/Greenwald/Poitras case, these are quite smart folks… and I’ve already mentioned that I suspect Snowden himself used to train others in an advanced variant of the “hypnotic courier” technique. Among other possible options.

Hastings: DON’T TRUST ANYTHING YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND, ad infinitum. Five hours before he died in a highly suspicious car crash, Michael Hastings asked his neighbor if he could borrow her car… saying he was afraid to drive in his Mercedes and thought it had been sabotaged. Hastings, of course, had an ultra-sophisticated new model, not a “vintage chic” type you can take apart yourself.

“National Security Agency officers on several occasions have channeled their agency’s enormous eavesdropping power to spy on love interests, U.S. officials said.

The practice isn’t frequent — one official estimated a handful of cases in the last decade — but it’s common enough to garner its own spycraft label: LOVEINT.

Spy agencies often refer to their various types of intelligence collection with the suffix of “INT,” such as “SIGINT” for collecting signals intelligence, or communications; and “HUMINT” for human intelligence, or spying.

The “LOVEINT” examples constitute most episodes of willful misconduct by NSA employees, officials said.[…]

The LOVEINT violations involved overseas communications, officials said, such as spying on a partner or spouse. In each instance, the employee was punished either with an administrative action or termination.”

%d bloggers like this: