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Can’t fight the NSA?

Since the Snowden revelations, there’s been a lot of this sort of talk on the Tubz. Summary: You can’t fight the NSA’s surveillance because you can’t even understand the NSA’s capabilities and methods.

Some truth in that, of course. Not only can we not know just what the NSA’s doing and how. But for all we know there could be 15 other secret spy agencies using yet other technologies and methods to poke and prod into our lives. All with the happy cooperation of tech companies like Google, Facebook, Verizon, et al.

We are the first in all of human history to be so totally watched.

I understand and share the complaint that it has become literally a full-time job to know and implement privacy protections. And without Xtreme tech knowhow, it’s a job most of us suck at, besides.

But that’s not a reason to give up.


Yes, we are the most surveilled human beings who ever lived. But we are also the first generation in human history to have such high-tech tools with which to fight back.

And remember, individuals are always ultimately smarter than institutions. More flexible. Better able to use humor to pierce the stiff armor of the Holy State. More adaptable to opportunity. At our weakest, we are the sabots in the machinery. At best, we — some of us — are the designers of the machinery with the clever capacity to royally screw it up.


(Images in this post courtesy of Ragnar’s Freedom Outlaw F*c*b**k page)

The great Borepatch (who is as good with tech as with guns and who found the pessimist read at the top of this blog), wrote a follow-up post aptly titled “Bomb minuteman prepper NSA succession airport gun tea party Anonymous TOR Snowden steganography top secret.”

You get the idea. 🙂 It’s a return to that good old 1990s method of adding infamous keywords to all our “traffic.”

I b’leive I mentioned that clear back in 101 Things to Do ‘Til the Revolution; it was not an original idea even then. Think I posted this a while back, too: Talk Like a Terrorist on your cellphone.

That’s just one notion.

I’m guessing that the NSA and its all-suspecting ilk have developed slightly more sophisticated content analysis since 1996. So these days, merely appending a bunch of Infamous Words to an email, text message, or phone call might not do the job.

However, if thousands of us routinely wrote or said believably contextual things like, “I used white powder from an envelope on my wig when I dressed up as a Minuteman and the guys kidded me that it looked like anthrax spores” or “See you at the chemical attack mitigation event at the gun show” or “I was so mad I went nuclear at that stupid toxic infection of an assh*le” … we could overload them.

Or how about this? Routinely append terrorist keyword poetry to our communications, like this stunner by Nathan Payne that begins:

their torrid, toxic
stranded/stuck forever
in a homegrown botnet

of agro terror,
the airport burst-worm

electric failure!

cocaine recall!

my spillover jihad is cloud-threat resistant!

Er … maybe just terrorist keyword haiku. Yeah, that would do it. Keep it simple.

OTOH, there’s evidence that maybe the spymasters still aren’t so sophisticated they can tell random from purposeful. Reportedly, the NSA still can’t tell the difference between messages from or to Osama bin Terrorist and messages that merely mention Osama bin Terrorist (as in “Osama bin Terrorist is a terrible person, isn’t he?”), which reportedly get flagged as readily as if the sender were personally plotting chemical-biological-airport-based-infrastructure-gang-related mayhem.

Look, nobody has all the answers. Or even very many of the answers at this point. Untimately, we’re probably going to have to rely on momentum and moles to help bring down the omni-surveillance system and the upending of individual rights that it represents. We are going to have to wait for new, trustworthy privacy-protection services to open offshore — and for great American and British technological minds to “offshore” themselves, as well. We are going to need a lot of bright people on our side. And time. But in the meantime, we can all do our part to be a sabot in the system.

Language is just one way. You genii will think of more. This sub-genius will be on the lookout for more and will look forward to our eventual triumph over our alien overlords.

Narco-traffic that, you dirty bomb of a suspicious package in the guise of a government!




  1. Matt, another
    Matt, another August 26, 2013 7:12 am

    With the shear volume of email traffic that is passing through the internet at any given time I think it would take at least thousands of people to include terrorist keywords into their emails before a negative impact would be felt by the watchers. Adding the words into emails won’t stop the system or gum it up, they will still have your email. Even if the “system” decides the email is innocous junk, it will still save it and have a note of where it came from. I beleive this can be done with little human intervention, so little time or resources would be lost dealing with it.

    Since the big internet providers are serving NSA and others, it would probably be best just ignore them. If you need to pass important information then low-tech/old school is probably the way to go. Face-to-face communications, couriers, hiding messages in parcels sent through UPS/FEDEX. Revolutions used to be planned and “radical” ideas used passed well before the advent of electronic mail, those systems can still be used.

  2. Claire
    Claire August 26, 2013 7:35 am

    Matt, I don’t think it’s a difficult thing at all to get thousands of people to include “terrorist” keywords in their electronic communications. Given the simple, common words on the list, millions probably are already doing it unintentionally. We’d just be ramping up the volume. Given how easy it is and how many freedomistas are pissed, thousands is achievable without breaking a sweat.

    And yes, they’d still have our emails. They have them anyway. This is not a Ghost activity. It’s an Agitator (and Trickster) activity. If the NSA is already spying on us, might as well say our hellos …

  3. Paul Bonneau
    Paul Bonneau August 26, 2013 8:02 am

    This is more down my line. Rather than being surprised and dismayed the rulers are spying on us, I assumed they did it as soon as the technology permitted it, and also assumed no lawmaking would stop it because the ruling class is not subject to laws. Snowden’s revelations were just a confirmation to me.

    To me the point is not to get our panties in a bind about loss of privacy, but to figure out as many ways to thwart the snoops as you can, even if they could defeat at least some of them. Don’t worry that perfect security is impossible, just do it anyway, and keep adding layers of security as you go.

    I can think of one addition to your list of naughty words in communications: an actual communication to a snoop, invoking shame. For example:

    “Message to the NSA employee reading this: Shame on you! I guess you believe you are helping this country with your job, but that is just rationalization for rotten behavior. How can you look at yourself in the mirror every morning? Time to get back on the moral track, quit your snooping and find a job that is at least not harmful and disrespectful of others.”

    I doubt most lower level snoops are psychopaths like the rulers are; the idea here is that they are not so different from the rest of us. You could even provide a link in this communication to pro-freedom literature. 🙂

    On that last photo, it reminds me of the quote by Edward Abbey, “There never was a good war or a bad revolution.”

  4. Occasional Reader
    Occasional Reader August 26, 2013 8:23 am

    There once was a jihadist with gas
    who launched pipe bombs out of his ass.
    And I’d like to say hey
    to the folks at NSA
    No explosives here, but it’s been a blast.

  5. Grenadier1
    Grenadier1 August 26, 2013 10:38 am

    So here is a thought? What if all those random comments on message boards that always talk about making money by working at home were a kind of code? The spammers use the software to create what appears to be a real message to solicit and evade spam filters. Seems we could use something similar?

  6. half_pint
    half_pint August 26, 2013 3:36 pm

    A few years old, a story about a txt message about the clash lyrics that got someone a visit from the plod.

    text message, which read: “How about this for Tommy Gun? OK – so let’s agree about the price and make it one jet airliner for 10 prisoners.”

  7. Shel
    Shel August 27, 2013 9:28 am

    Slightly OT. I recently tried to send an email with the text of an InfoWars article about how the DOD is teaching that the Founding Fathers were terrorists. While a subsequent attempt with the link by itself was successful, the initial attempt with the text of resulted in a message from AOL that said the message was rejected by the server with the following explanation:

    The error that the other server returned was:
    521 5.2.1 : (HVU:B2)

    Going to that site and looking at HVU:B2, one sees:

    421 HVU:B2
    There is at least one URL or domain in your e-mail that is generating substantial complaints from AOL members. Resolution will require opening a support request.

    “Substantial complaints” apparently are all it takes to stop transmission. I haven’t tried the support request route; for the present I can send the link alone without problems.

  8. revjen45
    revjen45 August 28, 2013 4:24 am

    I’m sure that if Leviathan is watching me I will be tried for homicide of a law enforcement officer when the watchful minion dies of boredom.

  9. monkeyfan
    monkeyfan August 28, 2013 9:46 am

    FWIW, here’s one I’ve used before.

    Polish explosives expert Tadeusz Urbanski might have been da bomb when it came to gathering and compiling the latest intelligence on energetic materials, but his various attempts at manufacturing a plausible fictional story tended to blow up in his face.

    His various poisonous efforts to attack other genres, be it historic fiction, espionage, war tales, and even cookbooks would be quite a terror for anyone who dared initiate the ill-conceived plan or design to translate them into the Queen’s English from his native Eastern European tongue. It would be like translating the Koran from Arabic to Urdu via ‘Austrian’ and Hebrew…With no experience whatsoever.

    I don’t care who ya are, it wouldn’t matter whether the agent for that change was a fracking language professor who hoped to spy out Urbanski’s fundamental secret to crappy writing whether on a plane, train, whilst vehicle-borne or even in complete safety with his arse fused to the finest American barka lounger on some plot of land with a fibre-optic secure link to the NSA’s google databases. Such an attempt would likely cause any poor oppressed hack’s head to explode like a suicide jihadi with an electrical problem – even for someone as smart and on target as president 0bama or one of his hand-chosen officials. Not even a Congressman is that smart.

    Heck, Urbanski’s compositions aimed at the masses might as well be encrypted because there is so much fragmentation and infidelity in his character development…Positively no chemistry. For all the high-value genius of his scientific works, and despite his widely praised understanding of fundamental atomic structure, his fiction really is pretty darn low-yield. I don’t think he had the Constitution for it.

  10. Latigo Morgan
    Latigo Morgan August 28, 2013 1:36 pm

    You could even use fonts that match the background, so they don’t clutter up your e-mail, but still overwhelm the system.

    Like white on white, or black on black, etc.

  11. creeper
    creeper August 29, 2013 8:36 am

    I like the white-on-white idea. You could even put something innocuous in the e-mail that WAS readable and then bury the rest of it in a blind font. Of course, they could find it if they looked at the page source information butt seeing the “innocent” post there might fool them.

  12. creeper
    creeper August 29, 2013 8:37 am

    Please excuse spelling of “butt”. Too much time spent on the “Michelle Obama’s Mirror” blog.

  13. Ragnar
    Ragnar August 30, 2013 8:21 am

    Thanks for the H/T Claire! That little page you inspired is crowding 7000 misfits and malcontents now… Not yet “Grand” but a little outlaw cabal nonetheless.

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