Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Facts on Cubic - and Trapwire, Abraxas, Ntrepid, and other Legal Fictions

This is a long e-mail I just sent to a friend in the media with whom I'd had brief exchange on all this earlier in the afternoon. I'd also like all of this in one place that is not a string of my or other people's Twitter Tweet Goojygoo Microyell shit, and it's late and I just spent half my birthday thinking about a bunch of companies that do computer shit, which I'd manage to avoid until I got heavily involved in this issue early last year, so I'm just going to drop this here instead of writing a different one. It's not like it's going to be taken seriously by most anyone other than the actual experts on security that had already voiced concerns on the Trapwire issue - many of whom already know most or all of it anyway. As usual, I will protest the fact that very little actual write-ups will appear on this in major outlets no matter how many fucking documents we pull up and how many pertinent quotes we find despite not being paid for it, and that one of the few things that actually appeared on it yesterday was by Adrian Chen, who does not regularly write about technology (or even presumably pay attention to the specific facts and documentation that have previously been put out by my group Project PM on the same fucking companies we're talking about right here, despite the fact that Chen has written at least three or four articles that are either entirely or about me and which are often at least partly false even when I walk him through shit) (full disclosure: I really dislike Chen, his other questionable "reporting" on things like a "OWS murder link" that even initially was so clearly bullshit that actual Gawker commenters noted it, and which was further debunked the next day by NYT; go Google it yourself). That some large number of media industry folks will have read his piece - which calls the idea of Trapwire likely using such things as facial recognition "outlandish" despite Abraxas head and 30-year CIA veteran Richard "Hollis" Helms (no apparent relation to Nixon era director) having written, way back in 2005, that Trapwire would "collect information about people and vehicles that is more accurate than facial recognition;" which is to say that, though actually claimed by its creators (to execs and departments with industry professionals on hand to evaluate products, rather than rubes who know little about the specific tech) to have been designed to use something EVEN BETTER than facial recognition seven fucking years ago, it is thus "outlandish" to suspect that the current version, which like similar security capabilities I've had to learn about over more than a year is presumably updated regularly by this whole damn Abraxas spin off, "Abraxas Applications" (and inevitably, it's run by yet another goddamn CIA veteran, which like most of this will be big no big deal to everyone who's somehow managed to read nothing about the CIA, such as probable majority of U.S. "citizens"). So, a hot capability that's being used widely by some of the key security customers across the globe and which involves several different technologies has perhaps not seen reason to take advantage of measurable (admittedly not huge, to public knowledge) advances in facial recognition as accessed by top intelligence/defense complex in the world, despite seven years. Even if we pretend that such an idea is still nonetheless "outlandish" - let's say that the vast majority of writing we've done on anything involving actual security policy is on Barrett Brown, and that we've even managed to make false claims about him, least defamatory of which is that he's cynically writing a book "on his adventures" rather than about Gregg Housh and HIS experiences, (which are highly interesting if you've read about him) which is what it was always about - which is to say, let's pretend that we think on the level of Adrian Chen, The Guy Whom The Universe Has Knighted To Inform A Thousand Other Mediocre Media People on Issues He Only Cares About When It Means He Can Say Moderately Clever Things About How Silly Activists Are. Play this pretend game with me. Okay? Great. Now, let's say that. IT USES NOT JUST SOMETHING THAT'S SAID TO BE BETTER FACIAL RECOGNITION, BUT ALSO OTHER UNKNOWN COMPONENTS, INCLUDING SOME THAT APPARENTLY NEED TO BE DESCRIBED IN GENERAL BECAUSE COMMON NAMES DO NOT YET EXIST FOR THEM, AS PER THE HEAD OF THE FIRM ABRAXAS THAT SUPPOSEDLY DOESN'T HAVE A WHOLE LOT TO DO WITH THE TECH IT GAVE TO ITS SPIN-OFF OR HOW IT'S USED, ACCORDING TO A STATEMENT BY CUBIC, WHICH ITSELF IS DOCUMENTED TO BE DIRECTLY INVOLVED WITH ABRAXAS, WHICH IS ALLEGEDLY NOT IN TURN INVOLVED IN DECISIONS CONCERNING ITS OWN SPIN-OFF (in one of the few documentations of a relationship between infosec contractors - HBGary and HBGary Federal - the principles of each were in constant collaboration, e-mail for both was on one server (lol), and many of the events they're most known for were handled PR wise by the HBGary execs calling the shots on the three or so people that its creation employed.) So, now we're pretending that thing, that all that is the case. In this Pretend Play Game Universe, guess fucking what? It's still a complex system, run by the sort of people who betrayed us on ATT/NSA wiretapping and other things plus god knows what other things that the secret-keeping people have managed to keep secret. Very few people have attacked the CIA on the grounds that it is not sufficiently intent on keeping secrets and that it is far too meek in the methods by which it does this, except perhaps certain uncles who are actually addicted to crack, and don't just smoke it twice a year when black-out drunk but actually every day. Anyone who wants to note that we don't know for sure that what we term "facial recognition" is used in addition to similar and allegedly better techs which themselves are used in combination by a system that is recording a great deal of activity by large portions of several Western populations is right to do so. We don't know for sure. But when people who clearly didn't read even the bare majority of the little we have on the subject are taken seriously by many of the people who will decide if it's worth looking into more, just maybe, then we have a sick republic in which an actual fucking drug addict like myself has to compile tell you these things, many of which were discovered by people who nonetheless do not officially rate the credibility inherent to the title of "journalist" - a term which itself should be used much less in this degenerate age of a degenerate republic.

Also, uh, here's the thing I actually wanted to tell you, about the syndicated piece that went down from at least seven or eight Australian outlets without any explanation or acknowledgement. Forgive lack of run-on sentences and self-aggrandizement/settling of personal scores, was written in haste and for one person:


Backchannel explanation from one of the outlets that ran the scrubbed

piece, provided so far to Aussie activist who's been involved heavily,
is that Cubic contends central fact of the story - which was written
by two journos, one of who is tech editor - that Cubic is related to
Trapwire, which as we know is run directly by spin-off of subsidiary
Abraxas, is substantially incorrect, and that this prompted a
syndicated story that had in one incarnation been linked to heavily,
including by Wikileaks itself. Tweet an hour ago from one writer, the
editor, implied he hadn't himself realized that no explanation had yet
been put up as to why it was taken down, which to me sounds insane. In
last hour Telecomix folks and I have found a couple of things,
including two more state filings from Cubic on Abraxas relationship -
tax filings notes "synergies" between Cubic and Abraxas as well as
regular cross-over uses of software with another subsidiary. None of
this clearly proves that Cubic is making any decisions with regards
to, say, how the contracts of Trapwire itself are distributed, for
instance. We would have to have e-mails or other documents of any such
collaboration, officially or unofficially, to know that. What we do
know, and which is perhaps relevant to this question, is that the
already-known-to-be-scummy intel firm with its own extensive gov links
was itself involved in how Trapwire's day-to-day controllers, as Wired
noted today from other e-mails stemming from the batch. So, yeah,
between that and a few other factors, plus whatever else comes up in
the next hour, we're all very convinced that there's a lot more to
this that was hidden for a fairly good pragmatic reason, and at the
least that the story being entirely scrubbed, as opposed to even
corrected a bit (which may or may not be itself reasonable - I had an
op-ed for Guardian changed and slapped with editor's note about a
"correction" HBGary's lawyers made about alleged operational
difference between HBGary and HBGary Federal, which colluded on many
matters including only ones I discussed, without them even asking me
or checking to see if it was true - which it wasn't, as I and Ars
Technica and several more MSM outlets had already noted using their
own docs/e-mails. Also in in just last ten minutes from Telecomix and
other folks: "Abraxas Dauntless, Ntrepid and TrapWire Inc. have three
of four board members as an interlocking directorate" (Dauntless is
yet another subsidiary recently acquired, with documented
collaboration between Cubic and itself). There's even more and people
are looking for now, but that should do it. Links below.


*Edit, 16th 3:01

So why would Cubic attempt, and immediately achieve, its goal of getting a story pulled from six papers, without explanation, a story about what exactly its subsidiary is doing when it's presumably doing something good? And why, although as shown below they do work with at least three of their purchased or created firms (with none yet found on any subsidiary with which they do not work), and have hidden (and thus had reason to hide) their connections to their other "spin-off" subsidiaries-of-subsidiaries - and perhaps with some of whichever others they've actually managed to hide? Their dozens of known and often quite large "spin-offs" (a term which can still entail any degree of cooperation and certainly has with HBGary's and a couple of others among the the few from which e-mail correspondence was made public via hack in 2011) across the world. And since Stratfor was working in secret with Abraxas Apps (and that they changed the name so quickly is not necessarily proof that something about their existing name might become another of those don't-be-linked-at-all-to-the-above-company things they've pursued with Ntrepid and, again, however many firms under cover. Why, why, why would a very powerful institution with a very extraordinary revenue stream and super-connected officials whose job is to keep the contracts favorable and of course keep public from hearing them in association with a firm they, quite frankly, are more likely than not to be involved with on both a strategic level as well as a more coordinated level whenever it would make sense to do so. There's no particular reason not for that coordination to happen between a company and another company that bought that company because it does something similar to what they do in a way that makes sense to buy it and then try to make sure that it makes lots more money for the company that is a company, rather than a hobby or a phase teens go through, and which quite reasonably wants to maximize profit?

Well, probably it wouldn't want to be associated by name with a subsidiary it owns that clearly tracks people in some manner that provides not just information, but the ability to learn who in particular needs to have more information pulled up about them via other means, perhaps even things like Trapwire's iWatch program, or from the "See Saying, Say Something" program that it actually oversees. That's one of many things that didn't just seem noteworthy to the New York Times when it explained away concerns about the program as "wildly exaggerated" based in part on what they were told in a private conversation they had with some people at the DHS whose names or titles or evidence for what they claimed are coquettishly left to the imagination in the high New York Times reporting style that was always most polished in the work of Judith Miller (aside from whoever else hasn't gotten caught using it, of course).

The other thing we didn't hear from the media on Trapwire, and obviously on the six deletions that weren't originally caught, is that Cubic wants to be able to get more contracts doing public-space security of the sort that isn't focused on landmarks, but on everyone - transportation

Perhaps they don't want connections made at all about itself and one of its firms, and to such an extent that they asked for and got an article deleted without initial explanation (and with a shitty vague semi-leaked one afterwards, and now a supposedly entirely true explanation you can buy for a buck at newstands in Australia) that doesn't explain why they didn't do what papers like themselves almost always do when such things happen, which is to add a correction note at top or bottom and perhaps fix whatever actually makes it incorrect. That the premise is wrong - that nothing that Cubic does is coordinated with anything that its subsidiary does, even though firms tend to coordinate with others for "synergy," as Cubic said it would get from Abraxas in its very own tax filings - is not only not proven by Cubic at all, but also likely to be true based on what people like me who spend all day thinking about Cubic have found or gathered up about this actual story that the story-people out there at the NYT don't need to find because the NYT offers prestige, which is even better than relevant information about globe-spanning issues with an already demonstrable and potentially much larger than thus proven impact on the the privacy and state-citizen power relationship of tens of millions of people and perhaps more. 

That the article was not simply changed to say something like "Cubic claims it doesn't coordinate with this subsidiary as it does with a couple of the secret ones that popped up just because some wacky kids stole all HBGary's e-mails," or at least the lest informative version thereof that is fit for newspaper writing, is because of one thing. Cubic wasn't asking if they could please correct the article because they are disputing with no proof that it is entirely wrong. They WANTED that thing down.

5:58 EST 8/16

And why did the co-author of the piece, a tech editor at Sydney Morning Herald, send out a single Tweet yesterday in response to questions about what happened or where's the correction, saying he'd thought the correction was already out. But it never went online around then. It came out in the print edition of the Sydney Morning Herald the next day, and that's it. Was he told an explanation would be put up online, as is common and appropriate when an entire widely-read story relevant to an issue that is being (ideally) discussed among the public and raised by at least one of the nation's parliament members (whose standard motion to ask government about Trapwire dealings, and which was shot down, prompting protests from him (if not from any press that I am aware of yet, which don't seem to have thought this interesting even in the rare case that they've even mentioned Trapwire already)? If he was told this, who decided against such an appropriate move as admitting their "mistake" so that most of people who read it could see it without having to call an Australian, which no one likes to do? This is among the most extraordinary things, in totality, that I have seen in ten years of writing and reading things and in two years of involvement in an already bizarre sector/issue that has left me raided by the FBI, my friends (and not-so-good-friends) arrested or given awesome new jobs as rats, and me getting a drunken late-night phone call from HBGary CEO Greg Hoglund that is hilarious, in which he taunts me about how we'll never figure out the exact function of Romas/COIN (and which the now FBI has, since I obviously recorded it on one of the four laptops they took from me along with notes, etc.) It deserves further investigation by somebody who's actually getting paid for it and who has an actual regular outlet. A journalist, for instance. That would be nice.

Here are the links that went to an article about Cubic and its subsidiaries and how they plan to be a part of your transportation experience. Sorry they don't lead to anything, even explanations, but the firm just really didn't want a lot of irritating focus on this minor matter:



http://m.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/revealed-trapwire-spy-cams-ticket-to-au stralia-20120813-2448z.html
http://www.canberratimes.com.au/technology/technology-news/revealed-trapwire-spy-cams-ticket-to-australia-20120813-2448z.html
http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/surveillance-system-linked-to-transport-defence-contractor-20120813-244yj.html
http://m.watoday.com.au/technology/technology-news/revealed-trapwire-spy-cams-ticket-to-australia-20120813-2448z.html
http://m.theage.com.au/technology/technology-news/revealed-trapwire-spy-cams-ticket-to-australia-20120813-2448z.html
http://www.katherinetimes.com.au/news/national/national/general/revealed-trapwire-spy-cams-ticket-to-australia/2648709.aspx
http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/nsw/surveillance-system-linked-to-transport-defence-contractor-20120813-244yj.html
http://m.canberratimes.com.au/nsw/surveillance-system-linked-to-transport-defence-contractor-20120813-244yj.html


And here are the links you need now.


"anticipated synergies include the ability to expand services

offerings" #Cubic filing on #Abraxas
http://www.faqs.org/sec 







filings/110203/CUBIC-CORP-DE-_







10-Q/#ixzz23bG2qIx2

… #Trapwire


HBGary easily forced my editors to add "correction":

http://www.guardian.co.uk/







commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/







jun/22/hacking-anonymous

… ... that was false:
http://arstechnica.com/tech-







policy/news/2011/04/hbgary-







issues-denials-snipes-at-the-






blog-o-sphere-in-open-letter.




ars… #Trapwire

@TelecomixBSRE just pointed out this 2010 Cubic/Abraxas merger

agreement, looking now
http://agreements.







realdealdocs.com/Agreement-







and-Plan-of-Merger/AGREEMENT-






AND-PLAN-OF-MERGER-2856738/
… (nothing much there other than financial/legal shit, unless missed
something)

The folks who can watch you and see where else you've been also help

CENTCOM make fake online people.
http://wiki.echelon2.org/wiki/







Persona_Management … #Trapwire


Last year, Cubic hid subsidiary Ntrepid so well that 2 Guardian

reporters who looked couldn't find it. (both are actually exceptional
reporters, just overlooked tax docs later found by one of PM
volunteers who's very good researcher)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/







technology/2011/mar/17/us-spy-







operation-social-networks


Tweet by writer/editor who co-wrote syndicated story:


@MylesPeterson @barrettbrownlol @not_me @asher_wolf Thought it went

out today sorry. Should be tmrw then. Held to confirm some facts.
Expand

My reply


5h Barrett Brown ‏@BarrettBrownLOL

@ashermoses Obviously your instinct to retract is noble, but want to
ensure you know that Cubic obscured truth last year. (referring to
Ntrepid thing above)

Abraxas, other Cubic subsidiary Ntrepid made with Abraxas staff and

tech that won CENTCOM bid for persona management: details, known docs
on persona management and that contract:
http://wiki.echelon2.org/wiki/







Persona_Management


Our page on Cubic/Abraxas/Ntrepid, not yet updated for Trapwire

revelations and not nearly as mean as it will get when I have the
time: http://wiki.echelon2.org/wiki/







Cubic_Corporation


Please, please ask me if you have any questions at all, and I'll

either answer it or ask the person who most likely can. Thank you.


6 comments:

  1. That missing SMH article in case you didn't save it:
    http://i.imgur.com/UfCEz.jpg

    ReplyDelete
  2. On the better than facial recognition bit, have you had a listen to this yet from FORMER CHAIR OF TORONTO TRANSIT, who was at several trade shows and privy to much trade literature where Trapwire was discussed? Esp. listen around :49 mark forward and 6:54ff http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qVjoVNwuchk. The thing can track people wearing turbans, note when a briefcase has been set down and for how long, and monitors an entire field of operation for such things. It's why it costs 100s of millions. They aren't considering that kind of money for 7-11 cameras.

    ReplyDelete
  3. No offense man, you should have let me edit this 'copy' before posting-- hard to follow.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Fuck it, I enjoyed reading the whole thing buds call my stuff "stream of hick consciousness" so what do I know? Got a charge on the Daily Kox liberal bitchings too. It's free and if BB wantz to pour it out to whoever, why not?

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