The rise of the meta-criminal
Is the NSA manipulating the stock market?
Trevor Timm of the Electronic Freedom Frontier dug up a very interesting nugget. It was embedded in the heralded December 2013 White House task force report on spying and snooping.
Under Recommendations, #31, section 2, he found this:
“Governments should not use their offensive cyber capabilities to change the amounts held in financial accounts or otherwise manipulate financial systems.”
Timm quite rightly wondered: why were these warnings in the report?
Were the authors just anticipating a possible crime? Or were they reflecting the fact that the NSA had already been engaging in the crime?
If this was just a bit of anticipation, why leave it naked in the report? Why not say there was no current evidence the NSA had been manipulating financial systems?
Those systems would, of course, include the stock market, and all trading markets around the world.
Well, there is definite evidence of other NSA financial snooping. From Spiegel Online, “‘Follow the Money’: NSA Spies on International Payments,” 9/15/13:
“The National Security Agency (NSA) widely monitors international payments, banking and credit card transactions, according to documents seen by SPIEGEL.”
“The NSA’s Tracfin data bank also contained data from the Brussels-based Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), a network used by thousands of banks to send transaction information securely…the NSA spied on the organization on several levels, involving, among others, the [NSA] agency’s ‘tailored access operations’ division…”
The NSA’s “tailored access operations” division uses roughly 1000 hackers and analysts in its spying efforts.
The next step in all this spying would naturally involve penetrating trading markets and, using the deep data obtained, manipulate the markets to the advantage of the NSA and preferred clients.
The amount of money siphoned off in such an ongoing operation would be enormous.
“Looking over the shoulder” of Wall St. insiders would be child’s play for NSA.
Ditto for predicting political events that would temporarily drive markets down and provide golden opportunities for highly profitable short selling.
Like drug traffickers and other mobsters, the NSA could invest their ill-gotten gains in legitimate enterprises and reap additional rewards.
All in all, when you operate the biggest spying and data-gathering operation in the world, the opportunities abound. Yes, knowledge is power, when the distinctions between legal and illegal are brushed off like a few gnats on a summer day.
The Surveillance State has created an apparatus whose implications are staggering. It’s a different world now. And sometimes it takes a writer of fiction to flesh out the larger landscape.
Brad Thor’s novel, Black List, posits the existence of a monster corporation, ATS, which stands alongside the NSA in collecting information on every move we make. ATS’ intelligence-gathering capability is unmatched anywhere in the world.
On pages 117-118 of Black List, Thor makes a stunning inference that, on reflection, is as obvious as the fingers on your hand:
“For years ATS had been using its technological superiority to conduct massive insider trading. Since the early 1980s, the company had spied on anyone and everyone in the financial world. They listened in on phone calls, intercepted faxes, and evolved right along with the technology, hacking internal computer networks and e-mail accounts. They created mountains of ‘black dollars’ for themselves, which they washed through various programs they were running under secret contract, far from the prying eyes of financial regulators.
“Those black dollars were invested into hard assets around the world, as well as in the stock market, through sham, offshore corporations. They also funneled the money into reams of promising R&D projects, which eventually would be turned around and sold to the Pentagon or the CIA.
“In short, ATS had created its own license to print money and had assured itself a place beyond examination or reproach.”
In real life, with the NSA heading up the show, the outcome would be the same.
It would be as Thor describes it.
We think about total surveillance as being directed at private citizens, but the capability has unlimited payoffs when it targets financial markets and the people who have intimate knowledge of them.
“Total security awareness” programs of surveillance are ideal spying ops in the financial arena, designed to suck up millions of bits of inside information, then utilizing them to make investments and suck up billions (trillions?) of dollars.
It gives new meaning to “the rich get richer.”
Taking the overall scheme to another level, consider this: those same heavy hitters who have unfettered access to financial information can also choose, at opportune moments, to expose certain scandals and crimes (not their own, of course).
In this way, they can, at their whim, cripple governments, banks, and corporations. They can cripple investment houses, insurance companies, and hedge funds. Or, alternatively, they can merely blackmail these organizations.
We think we know how scandals are exposed by the press, but actually we don’t. Tips are given to people who give them to other people. Usually, the first clue that starts the ball rolling comes from a source who remains in the shadows.
We are talking about the creation and managing of realities on all sides, including the choice of when and where and how to provide a glimpse of a crime or scandal.
The information matrix can be tapped into and plumbed, and it can also be used to dispense choice clusters of data that end up constituting the media reality of painted pictures which, every day, show billions of people “what’s news.”
It’s likely that the probe Ron Paul was once pushing—audit the Federal Reserve—has already been done by those who control unlimited global surveillance. They already know far more than any Congressional investigation will uncover. If they know the deepest truths, they can use them to blackmail, manipulate, and control the Fed itself.
In this global-surveillance world, we need to ask new questions and think along different lines now.
For example, how long before the mortgage-derivative crisis hit did the Masters of Surveillance know, from spying on bank records, that insupportable debt was accumulating at a lethal pace? What did they do with that information?
When did they know that at least a trillion dollars was missing from Pentagon accounting books, as Donald Rumsfeld eventually admitted on September 10, 2001, and what did they do with that information?
When did they know the details of the Libor rate-fixing scandal? Press reports indicate that Barclays was trying to rig interest rates as early as January 2005.
Have they tracked, in detail, the men responsible for recruiting hired mercenaries and terrorists, who eventually wound up in Syria pretending to be an authentic rebel force?
Have they collected detailed accounts of the most private plans of Bilderberg, CFR, and Trilateral Commission leaders?
For global surveillance kings, what we think of as the future is, in many respects the present and the past.
It’s a new world. These overseers of universal information-detection can enter and probe the most secret caches of data, collect, collate, cross reference, and assemble them into vital bottom-lines. By comparison, an operation like Wikileaks is an old Model-T Ford.
Previously, we thought we needed to look over the shoulders of the men who were committing major crimes out of public view. But now, if we want to be up to date, we also have to factor in the men who are spying on those criminals, who are gathering up those secrets and using them to commit their own brand of meta-crime.
And in the financial arena, that means we think of Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan as perpetrators, yes, but we also think about the men who already know everything about GS and Morgan, and are using this knowledge to steal sums that might make GS and Morgan blush with envy.
No, we’re not in Kansas anymore. But wherever we’ve gone to, the NSA is already there, and they’ve been tapping in, taking out, and using untold bits of data to stage and profit from events of yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
Time, in that sense, has ballooned, expanded, turned inside out, exploded, and laid itself flat on a table, for close inspection by the eyes of Surveillance Central.
Understanding this, we need to analyze what is happening in the world with a new dimension of criminal reality-maker in mind.