Egyptians Already Hate the Next U.S. Ambassador to Cairo

It's not easy being Robert Ford. The U.S. ambassador to Syria braved attacks on the American embassy in Damascus by pro-Assad mobs, and even risked his life by traveling to the city of Hama and northern Syria. Now, he has reportedly been recommended as the next American envoy in Cairo -- but Egyptians have already organized a campaign against his nomination.

Anti-Americanism soared to new heights in Egypt following the June 30 protests against President Mohamed Morsy. The primary target was U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson, whom protesters accused of backing the Islamist government -- many carried signs referring to her as a hayzeboon, a word that translates roughly to old hag. Posters in Tahrir Square also blamed President Barack Obama for supporting terrorism -- a reference, for the anti-Morsy crowd, to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Now, it looks like Ford is in for the same treatment. A report posted on a Canadian conspiracy website accusing Ford of running "death squads" in Syria and Iraq has gone viral in Egypt: The daily al-Masry al-Youm reported the allegations credulously, without any attempt to establish the veracity of the claims. Egyptian reporter Yosri Fouda, one of the most trusted television presenters in the country, also tweeted a link to the report, calling it "a warning for all of Egypt."

On Twitter, popular hashtags "No to Robert Ford" and "We refuse the American ambassador in Egypt" channeled popular anger at U.S. diplomacy. Egyptians described Ford as "a CIA man"; an heir to CIA operative Kermit Roosevelt, who helped orchestrate the coup in Iran in 1953; and the instigator of everything from the Lebanese civil war to the Bahraini revolution.

Some of the anti-Ford graphics, like the one above, are even more outlandish. In addition to implying that Ford supported Shiite militias in Iraq and spearheaded the armed insurgency against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the American diplomat stands accused of "playing a serious role" in the emergence of al Qaeda in Algeria. "Mayday: A new Satan is arriving for the destruction of the nation," reads another graphic.

Ford had reportedly asked to step down as Syria envoy because he was "exhausted" from the years-long uprising. It doesn't look like his possible posting in Cairo is going to provide him with much of a breather.


X-Keyscore: The NSA Tool So Secret It's Advertised on Job Boards

If the National Security Agency wants to lower its public profile, it should probably start by telling some of its biggest contractors to stop advertising the names of agency programs in their job listings.

Take, for example, the most recently revealed "top secret" NSA program, X-Keyscore, which, according to the Guardian, provides agency analysts with vast access to email and other web content (the NSA and lawmakers have pushed back against the Guardian's characterization of the program, insisting that X-Keyscore is simply a restricted analysis tool). A couple quick Google searches reveal that Raytheon, General Dynamics, and SAIC -- three favorite intelligence community contractors -- are looking to hire analysts with experience in X-Keyscore. Raytheon has scrubbed these references from its site, but anyone who knows how to make use of Google's cache function can pull the job listings. SAIC also appears to have largely removed or closed job listings with references to X-Keyscore, but the cache function easily retrieves these listings as well.

While the names of these programs are by no means a closely guarded secret at the NSA -- the journalist William Arkin, for example, published a long list of program names in 2012 -- they do offer a window into the agency's activities. Foreign intelligence agencies could mine these listings for information about the agency's technical requirements, and the names themselves at the very least serve as a starting point for figuring out what's going on inside Fort Meade. Moreover, the fact that positions at the heart of the U.S. intelligence community are being openly posted to corporate job boards provides a sense of just how deeply enmeshed in the intelligence apparatus these contractors have become.

The apparent irony of unabashedly advertising for analysts and technicians to run one of the country's most closely guarded intelligence operations seems to have been entirely lost on the companies' respective HR departments. The Raytheon listing, for example, includes a long list of NSA or other intelligence community programs, most of which have received scant attention: "PINWALE/UIS, XKEYSCORE ANCHORY/MAUI, MARINA/YACHTSHOP, PATHFINDER,  BANYAN, CADENCE, CROSSBONES, FASCIA, MAINWAY, TUNINGFORK, TRICKLER, UTT."

Here's what those listings look like, starting with Raytheon.

General Dynamics:


But it only gets better from there. It turns out intelligence analysts freely list their experience in various NSA programs on their LinkedIn profiles. Just type the name of your favorite NSA program into the search function, and LinkedIn helpfully returns a list of individuals experienced in the program.

Are you a Chinese spy reading this post? Well I've got great news for you. If you're looking for a recruit at the NSA, LinkedIn provides you with a ready-made database of potential agents.

Then again, you probably already knew that.