Over the years, LibertyUnderFire has provided multiple columns on the National Security Agency’s massive intelligence gathering and storage of all electronic information from all electric devices and how such activity violated the 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution of all U.S. citizens. Knowledge of such intelligence gathering is now well-known, and after the document dump by Edward Snowden four years ago, it is no longer disputed.
Now new document dumps by WikiLeaks, one of over 9,000 documents beginning March 23 through April 22, reveal a second U.S. intelligence gathering organization potentially far worse than the NSA. The CIA, which is supposedly restricted to foreign intelligence gathering, has developed technology capable of turning our electronic devices, televisions, computers, iPhones – even automotive technology – against the user anywhere in the world, even U.S. citizens. That invasive technology is why the unidentified whistleblower leaked the information to WikiLeaks.
We do not disapprove of spying in other lands; it is always wise to know your opponents, plus they do it to us. Our concern rests with whether or not the practices are moral and constitutional? Government spying on U.S. citizens necessitates the full protection of the Bill of Rights for the accused, thus we have the same constitutional concerns as we do with the NSA spying on Americans. We also have concern about whether the CIA has exceeded its constitutional authority when it “commits actions to overthrow governments and influence elections,” as the documents purportedly show our having done on a consistent basis.
The document trove named “Vault 7” identifies cyber weapons “malware, viruses, trojans, weaponized ‘zero day’ exploits, malware remote control systems and associated documentation.” The WikiLeaks dump revealed a “globe-spanning force – its own substantial fleet of hackers” of “over 5,000 registered users and had produced more than a thousand hacking systems, trojans, viruses and other ‘weaponized’ malware” to be used at their discretion. And the document dumps keep coming. Document dumps code-named “Dark Matter” March 23, “Marble Framework” March 31, “Grasshopper” April 7, “Hive” April 14 and “Weeping Angel” April 21 has been released.
Perhaps the most interesting information released, code-named “Dark Matter,” describes tools enabling it to remote into someone’s personal computer without his knowledge or consent and add, alter or delete files; such actions are unethical and unconstitutional. Most unethical of all is the CIA’s ability, without the victims’ knowledge, to plant false evidence, for example, child pornography or classified documents “that could be discovered at a later date by investigators serving a warrant.” The planted evidence, imbedded deep in the hardware, would be difficult to notice by the computer owner and would also have enormous blackmail potential. Tools under this generic name include “Dark Sea Skies,” “Sea Pea,” “Night Skies” and “Dark Mallet.” And according to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, referring to the dumps to follow, these past information releases are just “a small example of material to come.”
This example of planted evidence has already happened to Sharyl Attkisson, a CBS News correspondent working in 2012 on an expose on the Benghazi scandal. The fans on both her lap top and office computers seemed to run excessively, so she had both looked at by a computer savvy government friend who found spyware on both and three classified government documents, presumably to frame her later, complete with a government internet service provider address. The planted evidence seemed to show that she had violated the Espionage Act, according to an article by Mitchell Shaw of New American April 17, 2017.
Probably “Hive” is the second most interesting of the “Vault 7” dumps. According to WikiLeaks, it “is a back-end infrastructure malware” used to “transfer exfiltrated information from target machines to the CIA and to receive commands from its operators to execute specific tasks on the targets.” Targeting firmware enabled CIA hackers to “remain in control of an infected device even if the target wipes the data and re-installs the operating system.”
“Night Skies,” another part of “Vault 7,” deals with implanting iPhones, a practice which is nearly 10 years old. Wiping the data and re-installs do not affect their lodgment. Other CIA weapon programs have different names and purposes such as “UMBRAGE,” “Fine Dining” and “Improvise.” “Weeping Angel” enables the CIA to turn on video or audio functions of people’s television sets, whether on or off, allowing filming or audio recordation of the activities in the room.
Assange claims not to have published all details of the hacking techniques revealed in the leaks as they would result in both the “good guys” and the “bad guys” getting them at the same time. The move could hurt the former.
Even more disturbing in the WikiLeaks dump was documentation of the existence of a CIA Embedded Development Branch interested in future “mission areas,” for example, the ability to control the operating system of an automobile to “engage in nearly undetectable assassination.” CIA involvement in assassinations goes back to the ruling Diem brothers in South Vietnam in 1963, described in virtually every U.S. history textbook and continued into the CIA drone strikes under Obama.
Such may have happened to journalist Michael Hastings in Los Angeles in 2013, who told friends, “I’m onto a big story.” The story was on CIA and NSA abuses. A guy who reportedly “drove like a grandma” went through a red light at more than 100 miles an hour crashing into a tree, according to the New American article by Newman. An eyewitness to the crash indicated that the automobile was on fire before it hit the tree and exploded. The “big story” was never published. Failing breaking and acceleration technology, controlled externally through computer malware, could remove a lot of resistance.
Pease is a syndicated columnist and an expert on the United States Constitution. He has dedicated his career to studying the writings of the Founding Fathers and to applying that knowledge to current events. He has taught history and political science from this perspective for over 30 years at Taft College. To read more of his weekly articles, visit www.LibertyUnderFire.org.