The NYT has a report based on some of Edward Snowden's trove of documents - N.S.A. Devises Radio Pathway Into Computers.
The National Security Agency has implanted software in nearly 100,000 computers around the world that allows the United States to conduct surveillance on those machines and can also create a digital highway for launching cyberattacks.
While most of the software is inserted by gaining access to computer networks, the N.S.A. has increasingly made use of a secret technology that enables it to enter and alter data in computers even if they are not connected to the Internet, according to N.S.A. documents, computer experts and American officials.
The technology, which the agency has used since at least 2008, relies on a covert channel of radio waves that can be transmitted from tiny circuit boards and USB cards inserted surreptitiously into the computers. In some cases, they are sent to a briefcase-size relay station that intelligence agencies can set up miles away from the target.
Salon has an interview with Glenn Greenwald about surveillance and the Snowden story - “Surveillance breeds conformity”: Salon’s Glenn Greenwald interview. As with everything involving Greenwald it is rather long...
As your recent interchange with Jeffrey Toobin on CNN highlighted, there are some chilling media tendencies to condemn whistle-blowers like Snowden in fealty to the established order. How do you account for the U.S. media’s defense of an administration that has consistently lied about the level of surveillance going on?
I think the path of least resistance and the greatest careerist benefits come from embracing orthodoxies and supporting those in power. That has been true forever. If you’re kind of an outsider, and you are looking for ways to up your status, you become a loyalist to the king, you go serve the royal court, this is, I think, common in all societies. There is a temptation among certain kinds of people to further themselves by turning themselves into servants of power, and a lot of people in journalism are very much like that.
I also think that because most of our well-known journalists work for large corporations there is an institutional ethos embedded into these institutions saying that those in authority are to be respected and admired and obeyed. That is the nature of what large institutions inculcate. People who thrive in those corporations tend to embrace that way of thinking. So unlike, say, 50 years ago when journalists were kind of these consummate paid outsiders, now the television stars, the Jefferey Toobins, tend to be authoritarian; they tend to be supportive of the status quo because it has rewarded them so much. And then, finally, there is the tendency in American journalism to be very closely identified with those in political power, and anyone who opposes political power in D.C. — Julian Assange or Chelsea Manning or Edward Snowden or any of those whistle-blowers — are going to to be hated by journalism because they are going to be viewed through the prism of those who wield political power. I think all those factors combine to bring hostility toward people who can bring about transparency. The ultimate irony is that journalists, if you can believe anything that they say about themselves, should be cheering for those who bring transparency.