SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- Last Wednesday, WikiLeaks released a trove of documents, numbering in the thousands, that exposed a catalog of the CIA’s cyberspying capabilities. Intelligence officers scrambled to evaluate and suppress the damage during the chaotic aftermath. Investigators attributed the breach to a group of inside agents and contractors, but initially ruled out the involvement of a hostile foreign power. Among the disclosures was evidence that the CIA had developed hacking tools that could infiltrate any Internet-connected product, including Apple and Android devices. However, with Kellyanne Conway’s explosive admission that the Obama administration’s surveillance of Trump was orchestrated using innocuous household appliances, officials now suspect that the WikiLeaks revelations were spurious diversions to distract Americans from the real threat: microwave ovens.
CIA Revelations Are Smoke Screens for Real Spy ToolsOn March 6, President Donald Trump posted a series of shocking tweets that accused former President Barack Obama of ordering a wiretap on his offices in October. Further complicating the narrative was FBI Director James Comey’s denouncement of Trump’s conspiratorial theories. Comey, once perceived as an ally for Trump’s campaign because of his bungled handling of the Hillary Clinton email leaks before the election, asked the Justice Department to publicly reject the president’s assertions.
But surveillance experts believe the interdepartmental conflicts and confusing explanations boil down to theatrics. “It’s all just a circus performance, with many clowns pouring out of the little car, to keep the public from focusing on what’s really going,” said a former CIA analyst, who asked to be called Trevor for security reasons. “Scare tactics. Misdirection. Even the jokes about Kellyanne Conway -- those were on purpose. Because what she’s really guilty of is leaking a damning truth about Obama’s surveillance state.”
The fear generated by the WikiLeaks “Vault 7” content dump, and the sensationalized reporting that followed, have roiled the already choppy waters of privacy in the digital age. Consider one of the findings divulged by Rolling Stone:
One of the most disturbing aspect of the documents comes in an explanation of how the CIA cooperated with United Kingdom intelligence services to develop techniques to hack into Samsung Smart TVs with a program called “Weeping Angel” that enabled them to record their surroundings while the television appeared to be off.
U.S. intelligence agencies have come under fire in the past for intrusive data collection techniques. In 2013, The Washington Post obtained documents indicating that the National Security Agency (NSA) was accumulating nearly five billion records each day to track the locations of users around the world. Infamous former NSA contractor Edward Snowden provided the information. On December 21 of this year, a massive breach of Yahoo’s servers revealed more clandestine scanning of emails at the behest of U.S. spymasters, who anticipated a welcome lapse in privacy protections under the Trump administration.
The NSA launched several campaigns to convince Americans that its mining expeditions served a greater, more benevolent purpose. Last Christmas, then National Security Adviser Michael Flynn proposed a festive program in which the NSA would send Santa Claus the Christmas lists of every child whose records had been intercepted by government systems.
Four years prior, James Clapper, as director of national intelligence, also attempted to win over concerned citizens by leveraging the NSA’s library of purloined personal data as the most efficient and accessible cloud storage service in the world -- rivaling the capabilities of Google Drive, Dropbox, Amazon, Apple’s iCloud and others.
“We plan to unveil a new digital service to taxpayers called Backup Online User Goods Storage (BOGUS),” Clapper announced in June 2013. “We understand that hard drives crash, phones get wiped and that digital data can be destroyed. And a lot of people don’t back up their information. They also don’t want to use a service that requires payment or forces them to endure tons of ads. Well, BOGUS eliminates all those hassles, and there’s nothing to upload. Chances are, we already have your records and will update them daily.”
Dumb Appliances Like Microwaves Are Smarter Spy DevicesSpeaking to the Bergen County Record on Sunday, Kellyanne Conway caved to pressure from the interviewer and revealed what CIA officers have called one of the most substantial leaks of sensitive intelligence since Trump hinted at Ann Coulter’s transgender status when he released a plan to eviscerate the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) in January, concluding with: “Get the name of Ann Coulter’s sexual reassignment surgeon for Kellyanne.”
In response to the president’s allegations of wiretapping, Conway blurted out in frustration: “What I can say is there are many ways to surveil each other now, unfortunately. There was an article this week that talked about how you can surveil someone through their phones, through their -- certainly through their television sets, any number of different ways, and microwaves that turn into cameras, etc., so we know that that is just a fact of modern life.”
Twitter users responded uproariously with humorous and unkind jests that balked at the idea of microwave ovens stealthily recording the everyday activities of users. But CIA analyst Trevor cautioned citizens that this was the exact reaction sought by the White House.
“The notion of microwaves being used for surveillance purposes shouldn’t surprise anyone or be a subject of ridicule,” Trevor explained. “It’s precisely what they’re intended to do. They operate on high-frequency radio waves. Remember, they were originally known as Radaranges. Radar is a radiolocation technique. A beam of radio waves is emitted by a transmitter. Those waves bounce off an object and return to a receiver, allowing analysts to determine the location, range, speed and dimensions of the object. Before we had fiber-optic telecommunications systems, microwave radio relays transmitted long-distance calls. Laugh it up, America, but these [expletive] spy systems have been sitting on your countertops since 1946 -- capturing everything you do.”
Trevor noted that WikiLeaks, which colluded with Trump during the election, released frightening yet heavily redacted CIA documents to keep the focus from household appliances.
“I read through the Vault 7 stuff,” Trevor said. “No code. No big secrets spilled. Nothing in there you couldn’t already find on a blog about hacking. That’s the way they wanted it. Televisions don’t watch you, you watch them. Your phones are encrypted. During the mass shooting in San Bernardino in 2015, the FBI was begging Apple to crack the terrorist’s phone. Apple refused. A year later, agents still couldn’t break the device. Because it can’t happen, people. Alexa, Siri and Google’s Assistant don’t send your requests for music or toilet paper to the CIA; it all goes to marketers who want to sell you more junk. Google home can only control your thermostat. But your microwave oven, Mr. Coffee, Frigidaire and The Clapper -- they’re watching. Whenever you clap on or clap off, you’re just activating an intricate and seemingly harmless ecosystem of espionage-grade observation tools.”
Some so-called specialists in the field of electronics struggled to downplay and discredit Conway’s slip. There are no cameras embedded in microwave ovens, experts asserted. The appliances have no connection to the Internet, they stressed. Trevor emphatically denounced the fallacy of these arguments.
“Sure, there isn’t a ‘camera’ installed in your piece-of-crap Magic Chef oven,” Trevor clarified. “Because the whole goddamn thing is a camera. That light flickering like a bad rave while your soup is reheating? it’s an elaborate flashbulb. The microwave signals are pinging off every object in the home, including you, to construct a radar-rendered image.”
But what about transmitting that image back to an intelligence agency without an Internet connection?
“The microwave is the [series of expletives] Internet!” emphasized Trevor. “Look, wireless LAN protocols like Bluetooth and 802.11 are specifications used for Wi-Fi -- which are carried by microwaves in the 2.4 GHz ISM band. These long-range wireless services have been in place for almost a decade. So, yes, Magic Chef is a spy that can record you through radar and then send all that data by microwaves through the wireless Internet.”
He added: “At no point should the average American ever have been comfortable with the idea of a radioactive military device cooking their food, using the same kind of machine that transformed weak-ass Bruce Banner into The Hulk. Think about this. There are these advanced microwave ovens imported from Munich. They talk. That’s weird, right? I heated up my dinner in one -- like an idiot, because there was no stove at the hotel -- and a German voice told me to enjoy my meal. When you hear voices from inside a German oven, you should get anxious. For a lot of reasons.”
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