NSA Hacks Entire Internet! Film at 11
The latest 'revelation' about the NSA is echoing throughout the mainstream media – or the mainstream FUD Factory, as I have come to call it. (FUD stands for Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt.) It has come to this: I trust an email from an exiled Ethiopian prince more than I trust a CNN report, and I don’t trust Ethiopian princes at all. Here's my analysis...
Did the NSA Infect Millions of Computers With Malware?
The FUD Factory doesn’t care about facts, or truth, or integrity, or any of the things that journalism used to value. It’s all about page views and clicks now. Creating Web pages and getting people to click on ads is easy. Just take any preposterous nonsense that some tin foil hat wearer posts on an unheard-of Web site and report it breathlessly. If there are inconvenient indications that the source is bogus, vaguely mention them in as few words as possible, ideally in the middle of a dense, towering wall of text so few readers will catch it.
The latest example of mass-media FUD is, “The NSA can infect millions of computers with malware spying programs.” It comes from two well-seasoned (but half-baked) FUD-makers: Glenn Greenwald and Ryan Gallagher.
Greenwald used to work for The Guardian, a UK newspaper that’s somewhat respectable as UK newspapers go. But he found a more lucrative gig as the independent mouthpiece of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Gallagher has freelanced for The Guardian and other publications. In February, they staked a claim to Snowden’s trove of stolen NSA documents and are mining it busily; their little money machine is called “The // Intercept.” I have no idea what the double-slashies symbolize; I’d have gone with twin carets which represent skeptically raised eyebrows: ^^
The gist of The // Intercept’s latest FUD nugget is this: the NSA has secretly re-invented every malware wheel that already exists and all of everyone’s data belongs to the NSA. This is said to be accomplished by setting up fake Facebook servers that secretly infect unsuspecting people who just want to post photos of their cats, brag about how much candy they've crushed, and tell the world what they ate for lunch. This malware, which reportedly can steal files and trick webcams into recording video of cybervillians picking their noses, is also spread by sending out emails laced with malicious links or attachments. Snowden didn't mentioned this, but I think this malware is also capable of opening the refrigerator door, and leaving it slightly ajar.
At least, the Snowden files suggest that the NSA could do so. But is anything like this actually happening, or likely to happen?
Getting readers, even other journalists, to swallow such nonsense is simple. Just make it really big so the telltale signs of incredibility go down unnoticed. Saturate the big article with hyperlinks that seem to link to authoritative sources even though they really lead to short snippets of unverifiable excerpts and slides from PowerPoint presentations that anyone could have created. Who will take the time to click on every one of those links and discover that they don’t prove a thing?
I did. What I found, taken collectively, is simply a wish list; some spy’s budget proposal put together and presented to management in hope of getting a pile of cash with which to enlarge his little power sphere. It’s the same sort of thing that bureaucrats of all disciplines prepare, submit, and have rejected in every government agency and private enterprise.
“If we only had this money, just look at what we could accomplish!”
“Haha, good one; but no. Now get back to work.”
If there really was a millions-strong botnet controlled by the NSA, someone in the security business would have found at least ONE infected computer and sounded the alarm by now. I don’t hear any bells ringing. The NSA may well be capable of doing something like this, but there just isn't any evidence they've done so.
Greenwald and Gallagher know a good gravy train when they see it. So does Pierre Omidyar, Founder, Publisher, and CEO of FirstLook.org, the “new journalism” venture that hosts The // Intercept. (Elder geeks may remember Omidyar’s earlier claim to fame: he created eBay.)
Snowden must also fight to remain relevant, and continue his efforts to legitimize himself. But is he now doing so by stretching the truth (or just making up stuff) about the the NSA's activities? Your thoughts on this topic are welcome! Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 18 Mar 2014
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- NSA Hacks Entire Internet! Film at 11 (Posted: 18 Mar 2014)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved