The enablers

Written By: - Date published: 12:30 pm, September 15th, 2014 - 14 comments
Categories: accountability, brand key, democracy under attack, election 2014, internet, Spying, telecommunications, us politics - Tags:

Even before Glenn Greenwald has produced his evidence tonight, John Key has started to front foot some of the damaging information to come.  One of the things we have learned is that the GCSB had not only planned to carry out mass surveillance of New Zealanders communications, but that they had already installed the capability for so doing on the internet cable that connects New Zealand with the rest of the world.

GCSB protest-17

Could this have been done without the knowledge of the people who own and manage this cable, the Southern Cross Cable Network?

The website for this company, shows that the key personnel have strong links with other telco companies, including Optus and Telecom NZ.

It’s also interesting to note that at the bottom of the list is this guy:

Frank Salley – Verizon

Frank is the currently Senior Engineer of Global Network Planning  in Verizon having held various previous positions within Verizon and MCI, and has over 25 years of submarine cable experience.

NSA slide collect it all

And US company Verizon communications, has an interesting back story.

In May 2006, USA Today reported that Verizon, as well as AT&T and BellSouth, had given the National Security Agency landline phone records following the September 11 attacks.

In June 2013, Glenn Greenwald reported in The Guardian,

The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America’s largest telecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April.

The order, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian, requires Verizon on an “ongoing, daily basis” to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries.

In September 2013, an article on Forbes claimed that:

The National Security Agency pays AT&T T -1%, Verizon and Sprint several hundred million dollars a year for access to 81% of all international phone calls into the US, according to a leaked inspector general’s report, which has been reported by the Washington Post, AP, and the New York Review of Books. In fact., this secret report says that “NSA maintains relationships with over 100 U.S. companies, underscoring that the U/S. has the “home-field advantage as the primary hub for worldwide communications,”  the New York Review of Books reported in its August 15 issue. These secret cooperative agreements reveal that NSA   pays surveillance fees  to  telcos and phone companies were first made public by Edward Snowden, the former NSA administrator, now  resident in Russia.

This adds weight to some of the Gordon Campbell’s arguments in his latest excellent article.  he argues that the GCSB, and John Key would not have been planning, and beginning to implement the tapping of the Southern Cross cable, without the say so of the the US’s NSA (National Security Agency):

Think about it. It may seem (marginally) plausible that Key should suddenly backtrack on a GCSB programme that he would surely have known about since its inception. Yet could he also in the process, significantly abridge a surveillance system seen as integral to the Five Eyes arrangement ? Logically, that seems highly unlikely. We like to think that we punch above our weight, but outpunching the NSA and unilaterally pulling the plug on a system that has been endorsed by our Five Eyes partners – such that they then wouldn’t be able to implement the system as a whole ? This would be the security intelligence version of withdrawing from the ANZUS pact. Key’s explanation simply doesn’t make sense.

NSA corporate

Also discussed by Campbell, and many others, is the way John key (and GCSB boss Ian Fletcher) have overseen the expansion of the GCSB’s role into “economic security” and the support of multinational corporates with respect to things such as trade, the TPPA, and, in the Dotcom case, the interests of Hollywood corporations, Campbell explains:

Surely, we need an independent foreign policy and a security system that protects our own interests – and not those of the business rivals of our main trading partner? In this respect, the Trans Pacific Partnership (which pointedly excludes China) has always been a de facto defence and security pact as much as it is trade deal. Dig down one level with the TPP and you find that even conservative analysts such as Professor Jagdish Bhagwati regard the TPP as being driven by US corporate interests that bear little relation to free trade. Increasingly, the same can be said of the economic espionage activities that are now entwined with the operations of the Five Eyes arrangement.

Warner Flag

As a refresher of some of the issues, see Andre Vance’s article of 20 August 2013, “Demystifying the GCSB bill

Update:Statement from Southern Cross cables saying their cables haven’t been tapped.

The claims made today by journalist Glenn Greenwald that the Southern Cross undersea cables have been tapped into or accessed are total nonsense said the CEO Anthony Briscoe today.

The cables, which link New Zealand to Australia, the Pacific and the United States, are untouched, Mr Briscoe noted.

“I can tell you quite categorically there is no facility by the NSA, the GCSB or anyone else on the Southern Cross cable network.”

More at the link.

14 comments on “The enablers”

  1. Colonial Viper 1

    Excellent write up karol. The answer is that at least some technical staff and senior management of the Southern Cross Cable will have known what was going on and will have had to approve/co-operate.

    I say this because this is the exact pattern (modus operandi) which has come through in the Snowden/Greenwald reporting on Verizon, Comcast, AT&Treason, Apple, Microsoft, Google etc. In the US case the NSA typically makes it illegal for the corporation to even reveal that a request has been put forward to them for co-operation.

    It is utterly ironic that transnational corporations who do everything they can to avoid paying taxes in NZ, then hijack the machinery of our state to serve in their own best interests. That’s just wrong.

  2. ghostwhowalksnz 2

    The cable terminates in hawaii. This was where Snowden was last based. It is likely to be fully monitored from this location if not NZ end.

    • Colonial Viper 2.1

      ahhh good point.

      • weka 2.1.1

        According to Checkpoint the boss of SC Cable is adamant that the cable is not being tapped into, and that it is technically impossible to do so. For what that’s worth (I share this as a comment on SCC rather than on the tecnicals).

  3. Tracey 3

    Thanks for this karol

    I also see that APN, Fairfax and TV3 are going to oppose Slater’s desire to get back all the emails but it won’t be heard until 29 September 2014…

    Interestingly the Herald article repeats that the media outlets can comment on emails received but not yet published…. not that any appear to have done so.

    So once you have big business, the secrets service of the largest political beast in the world and the media, you can pretty much front foot to your hearts content?

  4. Adrian 4

    Isn’t KDC being hunted simply because he refused to do what all the US telcos and storage sites had done and that was to give the NSA Megaupload’s encryption keys?

    • Colonial Viper 4.1

      I think that’s one reason; another was that he was a foreigner muscling into turf the US corporates wanted to have sole control of

      • Anne 4.1.1

        a foreigner muscling into turf the US corporates wanted to have sole control of…

        The over-riding reason.

    • yeshe 4.2

      It is much more than that; it is what he was planning to do next that had the
      conglomerates determined to stop him. KDC had plans that would have deprived them of a bulk of the incomes, returning it instead to the artists.

      No time now, but you can have a look here … … this is KDC’s new company, challenging the whole relationship between artists and the major companies. This is why they want him stopped and silenced.

      ( This company is up for SX listing in Sydney, but all this kerfuffle here has made life very difficult.)
      nb It has been said in ther last few days that when KDC has his hard drives etc returned by FBI, he will able to prove his claim that the copyright claims were already being corrected whenever KDC was requested to do so.

      ( Apologies for rapid writing and any errors .. getting ready for 7 pm) But reply here if you want more and I can find it for you …

  5. ghostwhowalksnz 6

    Southern Cross cables connect to end points at Takapuna ( from Takapuna Beach to Hawaii) and telecom buildings at Corner Akoranga Dr and North Cote Rd.

    But you can put your servers right next to the cable end point:

    This telehouse centre is ideally located next to the Takapuna Southern Cross cable station and offers comprehensive telehouse facilities suitable for service providers or international carriers who would benefit from direct fibre connectivity to the Southern Cross cable.

    How convenient !

    The other end point from Muriwai and Sydney is at Whenuapai. Right opposite the RNZAF airbase next to the viewing area.

    How convenient !

    • weka 6.1

      What’s your inference there?

      • ghostwhowalksnz 6.1.1

        Cuts around the denial by SX Cables about no connections to their cables. No need to be that obvious when you can put your servers in the building next door and hoover up all the traffic that goes out.
        Thats how its all ways done. In plain sight, but some front company rents space in this building and you are all set.
        The land line link between the two end stations is out side SXC control

  6. MrV 7

    Aside from Snowden saying (to paraphrase) what is so special about SX that it can’t be tapped. It has been reliably demonstrated a whole bunch of cables worldwide have been tapped.

    The guy from SX must be an idiot. A cursory internet search will bring up a bunch of cable outages. Perfect time for something to be covertly installed. Install a tap on one of the loops, then the other.

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