November 22, 2009

from CannonFireBlogSpot Website




I've always been hesitant to complain about Google in these pages. After all, that company is the founder of the feast:

Google owns Blogger, without which we would lack many blogs, including the one you are reading at present.

But I'm concerned by Google's new Chrome OS, the operating system that relies on "cloud computing."








Under the new regime, you place your files on the net, not on your system, and you access those files via your browser. The only programs available to you would be those bestowed upon you by the gods of the internet.

The upside of this approach is obvious:

The computer will switch on much faster, you won't have to pay for a hard drive, and you can't lose data when your drive goes bad.

With Chrome OS, the only onboard drive is solid state. (Of course, the financial burden imposed by the traditional hard drive set-up isn't so onerous these days - you can get a terrabyte for about a hundred bucks.)





The downside should be equally obvious. What about periods when you aren't connected to the net?


I had a very irritating month earlier this year, waiting for ATT to hook me up; eventually, I got sick of waiting and took my business elsewhere. Even when connected, the Chrome OS throughput probably would not allow for image processing, video editing, game playing or even the design of a fairly complex web page.

And how will files be named? By URL? That would suck.

A lot of commenters don't talk about what I consider the most important drawback: Privacy.



Can we trust Google with our data?

Before we proceed, please understand: I spend a lot of time making fun of conspiracy cranks.


I have a phobic reaction toward people who think that Freemasons run the universe, and I don't have much sympathy for nutjobs who seek out covert Illuminati messages on dollar bills. Nevertheless, I retain a healthy paranoia when it comes to three letters: CIA.

Spies are real. They're not figments of Alex Jones' imagination.

History teaches us that nations fall into decay when their Janissaries attain too much power. History also teaches us that the "war on terror" can be and has been used as a pretext for repressing dissent. I'm an old-school lefty who thought that Frank Church was one of the good guys. I think that every citizen of every nation must strive to keep all spooks leashed.

Is there a longstanding relationship between Google and the CIA? Yes.

While we don't have as much evidence as we would like - in these realms, we never have as much evidence as we would like - the evidence we do have suggests that Google and the Agency have a long and abiding history together.

Google is the source of Intellipedia, a version of Wikipedia which allows intelligence professionals to trade information about their targets. We may fairly presume that the Google personnel who have worked on this program must have high security clearances, and that the physical servers are protected by the United States government.

Intellipedia was set up in 2006. It would be naive to suggest that the Google/gummint relationship does not stretch back much further.


Folks in the intelligence community must have very good reason to trust Google, or they would worry about back doors in the software.

Side notes

Is Intellipedia subject to FOIA requests? I suspect it is, although the matter has not been put to the test.

Here's a fun factoid: Barack Obama has created at least one Intellipedia entry. He wrote about Occidental College, or so it has been reported. As Arte Johnson used to say: Verrrrrry EEEN-teresting.


The head guy at Oxy's political science department was an old CIA hand close to Brzezinski. No-one really knows why Obama chose Oxy.

End side notes

In-Q-Tel, the CIA venture capital firm, has invested in Google.


In-Q-Tel sold some $2.2 million worth of Google stock back in 2005. That stock was acquired when Google took over the In-Q-Tel funded firm that gave us the technology behind Google Earth.


Although some news stories have indicated that the relationship ended with the 2005 stock sale, the linkages between Google and spookworld are continue.





And they go back to the very beginning of the firm.


A former CIA case officer named Robert David Steele - best known for his congressional testimony on the insufficient attention given to open source intelligence - has on several occasions said that the CIA funded Google in the early days.


True, Steele said this in an interview with the dreaded Alex Jones. But Steele has made the same claim elsewhere.

I strongly urge you to read this important article on HS Today (a site devoted to Homeland Security). The author is Anthony Kimery, a name long known to me; I consider him both cautious and trustworthy.


Kimery thus quotes Steele:

Robert David Steele, intelligence veteran and CEO of OSS.Net, Inc. which sponsored last week’s event, told Tuesday evening that,

"Google is being actively hypocritical and deceptive in playing up its refusal to help the Department of Justice when all along it has been taking money and direction for elements of the US Intelligence Community, including the Office of Research and Development at the Central Intelligence Agency, In-Q-Tel, and in all probability, both the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Army's Intelligence and Security Command."

Steele added,

“I have no doubt that Google, in its arrogance, decided it could make a deal with the devil and not get caught.

“...In my view, a secret financial and secret information sharing relationship with the US Intelligence Community - or any other intelligence community - violates everything about Google that should be sacred, and suggests that we can no longer trust them to live up to their original ethos.”

Google has officially denied Steele's allegations.


However, Kimery developed other sources who verified Steele's account:

Google’s alleged secret relationship with the US intelligence community (IC) was divulged by an IT contractor and confirmed by US intelligence authorities familiar with the matter during the OSS.Net IOP conference near Washington, DC.


The contractor, who spoke on a not-for-attribution basis, said that at least one US intelligence agency he declined to identify is working to “leverage Google’s [user] data monitoring” capability as part of an effort by the IC to glean from this data information of “national security intelligence interest” in the war on terror.

The intelligence sources, also speaking on a not-for-attribution basis, would not say under what authority the IC had obtained Google’s cooperation, or which intelligence agency is involved. One of the sources did say, however, that the CIA’s Office of Research and Development “has been giving them additional money and guidance and requirements.”

The spies may now use data mining technology to follow the click stream trail left by each Google user.

"Click streams" are the paths visitors take through a web site. Analyzing click stream data can help uncover navigation patterns and common paths. In short: User browsing habits, from which a great deal can be gleaned.

Tellingly, Google and Spookworld have a mutual revolving door when it comes to employment:

Former IC software engineers are known to have worked for Google, and Google technical job announcements have noted applicants seeking to work on the Google Search Appliance “must have current government top security clearance” at the TS/SI level. "SI," or special intelligence, is a euphemism for communications intelligence, or COMINT.

To see one such job announcement - from as far back as 2002 - go here and scroll down.





Steele has named Google's main contact at CIA's Office of Research and Development: Dr. Rick Steinheiser.

Unsurprisingly, researching Steinheiser is not easy, although we know that he has long had an interest in data mining. (See the acknowledgment here.) His CIA employment is confirmed here and here.

Google (the search engine) reports that Steinheiser also gave a lecture on data mining at a conference hosted by the Mitre Corporation. I tried to call up those pages, only to encounter a "dangerous site" warning on Firefox.


Simultaneously, my malware detector told me that I had picked up a virus that needed to be quarantined immediately. If ever I try to look up anything Mitre-related again, I'll do so on a library computer.

The bottom line is this:

  • The CIA, through Google, can track your web habits

  • Through Facebook, the intelligence community can track your interactions with your friends

  • And now, if you use Chrome OS, the data miners will finally gain access to your sanctum sanctorum - your private files

The final door will spring open - and you will have provided the key to the lock.

Many will say:

"So what? I've got nothing to worry about. I've done nothing wrong!"

Even if everything you do on the computer is innocent, ask yourself this:

  • Would you allow federal agents to enter your home without a warrant in order to scan the contents of your bookshelves and rifle through your physical files?

  • Would you ever allow agents unfettered access to your physical mailbox?

No. Purely as a matter of principle, you'd tell those snoops to go to hell.

At least, that's what your fathers and mothers and grandfathers and grandmothers would have said. The new generation is, I fear, far more sheeplike.

In former times, Americans were taught to sneer at those foreign citizens who reacted with servility whenever the NKVD or the Stasi intruded into private life. Yet modern Americans are now far more obeisant. We willingly join Facebook. And now many of us will entrust our most private documents to Google.

What's next? Are we all going to place hidden microphones in our own bedrooms and send the transmitter frequency to D.C.?

In the recent film The Good Shepherd (a thinly disguised bio of CIA counterintelligence officer James Jesus Angleton) a character based on Richard Helms relates an amusing but unnerving anecdote.


A congressman had asked "Helms" a question of nomenclature:

"Why do you guys call yourselves 'CIA'? Why don't you use the word 'the' - as in the CIA?"

"Helms" replied:

"Because you don't refer to the God."


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