Carnivore means Meat (carni-) eater (-vore). It may refer to order of animals known as the carnivora, which includes cats, dogs, bears, otters, seals and minks, among many others. Many of these animals are actually classified as omnivores when referring to their dietary habits.

Otherwise 'carnivores' are simply animals who eat primarily meat. These animals are either at the top of the food chain or are parasites. Carnivores include predators and scavengers, and includes members of nearly every order of Animalia. There are also carnivorous plants, such as the Venus fly trap and the pitcher plant.

FBI's Carnivore Gobbles Lots of E-Mail

Recent press reports confirm the roll-out of a new Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) system called Carnivore, which is designed to covertly search electronic mail messages to and from targeted criminal suspects, but could also compromise the privacy of millions of Internet users. The system, which is installed directly into an Internet service provider's network, reportedly can scan millions of messages each second. The FBI recently demonstrated the Carnivore system to telecommunications industry representatives, many of whom are disturbed by the prospect of having the invasive technology installed on their internal systems and administered by federal agents.

Public details concerning Carnivore's capabilities are sketchy. The existence of the system, a.k.a. DCS1000 was first revealed by attorney Robert Corn-Revere in Congressional testimony in April. He described a case in which government agents sought to install Carnivore on the system of an ISP he represented. Published reports suggest that the system could give the government the ability to intercept the communications of all of an ISP's customers, not just those of a targeted criminal suspect. Even when programmed to obtain only the communications of a suspect, Carnivore would enable government agents to intercept the actual content of e-mail messages without first making a showing of probable cause as required by the Fourth Amendment and federal wiretap statutes.
Sources: Robert Corn-Revere's testimony on Carnivore:
EPIC newsletter: Jul 13, 2000 :
National Post, p. 1, July 13, 2000 : "Email eaten by FBI's Carnivore"
with permission from

The Feds Can Read Your E-Mail

First it was Echelon the global eavesdropping system Uncle Sam and John Bull have been using to spy on satellite-transmitted phone calls, e-mails and fax messages. Now it's Carnivore, the FBI's newest electronic snooping device that can read your e-mail right off your mail server.

Capable of scanning millions of e-mails a second, Carnivore can easily be used to monitor everybody's e-mail messages and transactions, including banking and Internet commerce. If they want to, the feds can find out what books you're buying online, what kind of banking transactions you conduct - in short, everything you do when you go online and send e-mail, whether private or commercial.

The FBI has been quietly monitoring e-mail for about a year. Two weeks ago the feds went public and explained the high-tech snooping operation to what the Wall Street Journal called "a roomful of astonished industry specialists."

According to the bureau, they've used Carnivore - so called because it can digest the "meat" of the information they're looking for - in less than 100 cases, in most cases to locate hackers but also to track terrorist and narcotics activities.

But there is nothing to stop Carnivore from making a meal of your e-mail messages and transactions if they decide that's what they want to do and can get a judge to issue a court order allowing them to tap your e-mail as they would your phones.

That's scant comfort considering the underhanded means the feds employed to get court orders to raid the Branch Davidian compound, or to win a judge's permission to stage what amounted to an illegal armed raid on Elian Gonzalez's Miami home.

Carnivore is nothing but a store-bought personal computer with special software that the FBI installs in the offices of Internet service providers (ISPs).

The computer is kept in a locked cage for about a month and a half. Every day an agent comes by and retrieves the previous day's e-mail sent to or by someone suspected of a crime.

But critics say that Carnivore, like some ravening beast, is simply too hungry to be trusted - that it gives the feds far too much access to too much private information.

"This is more of a vacuum cleaner-type approach - it apparently rifles through everything," David Sobel, general counsel for the Electronic Privacy Information Center, told Fox News.

"It's potentially much more invasive than telephone surveillance."

Carnivore could conceivably monitor all the e-mail that moves through an ISP - not merely messages sent to or from the subject allegedly being monitored. Critics compare it to eavesdropping on all the phones in a neighborhood simply to zero in on just one phone.

Disturbingly, the FBI has prevailed in challenges against forcing ISPs to allow Carnivore to be installed in their offices. According to the Wall Street Journal, one unidentified ISP put up a legal fight against Carnivore early this year and lost.

The FBI defends Carnivore, insisting it is used selectively and monitors only the e-mail of the subject. They say that messages belonging to those not being probed, even if criminal, would not be admissible in court.

"The volume of e-mail in a location is generally fairly small and being managed by a small number of e-mail servers on a fairly low-speed network," said Marcus Thomas, chief of the FBI's cyber technology section.

"The system is not unlike 'sniffers' used within the networks every day."

That fails to satisfy critics such as Sobel. He says Carnivore is similar to Russia's surveillance system, called "SORM," which all Russian ISPs are forced to install to allow the government to spy on whomever it chooses.

Itís also similar, he says, to the notorious Echelon the National Security Agency's global eavesdropping system, which intercepts telecommunications transmissions from around the world and looks for keywords that could indicate illegal activity.

"Carnivore is really the latest indication of a very aggressive stance that the bureau is taking in collecting as much information as technically possible," Sobel said.

FBI spokesman Paul Bresson insists that law-abiding citizens have nothing to fear from Carnivore. "Anytime we develop a system, we're basically balancing the interests of national security against that of the privacy of the public," he said.

"This issue's always going to come up. We're always going to get questions. We understand that."

Date: Tue, 24 Oct 2000 19:31:43 -0400
From: (an account at an anonymous remailer)
Subject: CDR: Public Demo of Carnivore and Friends

FBI agent Marcus C. Thomas (who is mentioned in the EPIC FOIA documents) made a very interesting presentation at NANOG 20 yesterday morning, discussing Carnivore.

Agent Thomas gave a demonstration of both Carnivore 1.34 (the currently deployed version) and Carnivore 2.0 (the development version) as well as some of the other DragonWare tools.

Most of this information isn't new, but it demonstrates that the DragonWare tools can be used to massively analyze all network traffic accessible to a Carnivore box.

The configuration screen of Carnivore shows that protocol information can be captured in 3 different modes: Full, Pen, and None. There are check boxes for TCP, UDP, and ICMP.

Carnivore can be used to capture all data sent to or from a given IP address, or range of IP addresses.

It can be used to search on information in the traffic, doing matching against text entered in the "Data Text Strings" box. This, the agent assured us, was so that web mail could be identified and captured, but other browsing could be excluded.

It can be used to automatically capture telnet, pop3, and FTP logins with the click of a check box.

It can monitor mail to and/or from specific email addresses.

It can be configured to monitor based on IP address, RADIUS username, MAC address, or network adaptor.

IPs can be manually added to a running Carnivore session for monitoring.

Carnivore allows for monitoring of specific TCP or UDP ports and port ranges (with drop down boxes for the most common protocols).

Carnivore 2.0 is much the same, but the configuration menu is cleaner, and it allows Boolean statements for exclusion filter creation.

The Packeteer program takes raw network traffic dumps, reconstructs the packets, and writes them to browsable files.

CoolMiner is the post-processor session browser. The demo was version 1.2SP4. CoolMiner has the ability to replay a victim's steps while web browsing, chatting on ICQ, Yahoo Messenger, AIM, IRC. It can step through telnet sessions, AOL account usage, and Netmeeting. It can display information sent to a network printer. It can process netbios data.

CoolMiner displays summary usage, broken down by origination and destination IP addresses, which can be selectively viewed.

Carnivore usually runs on Windows NT Workstation, but could run on Windows 2000.

Some choice quotes from Agent Thomas:

"Non-relevant data is sealed from disclosure."

"Carnivore has no active interaction with any devices on the network."

"In most cases Carnivore is only used with a Title III. The FBI will deploy Carnivore without a warrant in cases where the victim is willing to allow a Carnivore box to monitor his communication."

"We rely on the ISP's security (for the security of the Carnivore box)."

"We aren't concerned about the ISP's security."

When asked how Carnivore boxes were protected from attack, he said that the only way they were accessible was through dial-up or ISDN. "We could take measures all the way up to encryption if we thought it was necessary."

While it doesn't appear that Carnivore uses a dial-back system to prevent unauthorized access, Thomas mentioned that the FBI sometimes "uses a firmware device to prevent unauthorized calls."

When asked to address the concerns that FBI agents could modify Carnivore data to plant evidence, Thomas reported that Carnivore logs FBI agents' access attempts. The FBI agent access logs for the Carnivore box become part of the court records. When asked the question "It's often common practice to write back doors into software programs. How do we know you aren't doing that?", Thomas replied "I agree 100%. You're absolutely right."

When asked why the FBI would not release source, he said: "We don't sell guns, even though we have them."

When asked: "What do you do in cases where the subject is using encryption?" Thomas replied, "This suite of devices can't handle that". I guess they hand it off to the NSA.

He further stated that about 10% of the FBI's Carnivore cases are thwarted by the use of encryption, and that it is "more common to find encryption when we seize static data, such as on hard drives."

80% of Carnivore cases have involved national security.

Also of interest was a network diagram that looked very similar to the one in the EPIC FOIA document at , except that there was no redaction of captions.

Carnivore is the band that Peter Steele, the now deceased mastermind of Type O Negative, he of the 6' 7" frame and 11 inch knob, was in before he started Type O Neg.

And they're as far removed from Type O Negative as you can imagine. Apart from the political incorrectness that Mr Steele had such a penchant for (and if you don't associate Type O Neg with political incorrectness, have a listen to "We Hate Everyone," "Christian Woman," "Der Untermensch," and "Unsuccessfully Coping with the Natural Beauty of Infidelity" and you will be enlightened.) Whereas Type O Neg were languid and synth-heavy and gothic, Carnivore were, well, carnivorous. Suppose the two bands were vampires. Type O Neg would be Anne Rice style at best or a Twilight number at worst. Carnivore would be a blood crazed psychopath who sucks your blood just because and probably gives you AIDS into the bargain. They're razor-sharp, relentless, and thrashy, and have less of a baritone singing and more bellowing the odds at top volume.

Lyrically? Baiting religion, primarily Catholicism, and that primarily in a song called "Jesus Hitler" and another one about self injury called "Angry Neurotic Catholics." They also engage in some good old crowing about sex and violence. Indeed, the band's title track, "Carnivore," which is on their initial album, also called "Carnivore," is about muff diving. It has lyrics about "Oh girl, you sure taste sweet" and "a taste so fine like sweet april wine," some "Je t'aime" style panting and moaning in the middle, and a bit where everything drops out apart from Peter Steele bellowing, "Going down.... DIVE! DIVE" and "I LAAAHHHVE, TO EAT PÜSSEH!!!" They also touch on that old thrash lyric standby, nuclear armageddon ("World Wars III and IV", "Thermonuclear Warrior") and zombie infestation ("Predator," a delightful song about being eaten by same and which ends with Peter Steele belching.) And like many a thrash song about megadeath, it's all disturbingly upbeat and so forth.

I think I'll quit talking about the music here, it's awesome and I recommend you go and buy it all (please get the original of their self titled first album with the splattery logo, not the remaster with the vagina dentata on it; they've merged it with half of Retaliation on that and cut some other stuff off.) What I will go on about, though, is how Peter Steele got from "I LAAAHHHVE, TO EAT PÜSSEH!!!" to "My Girlfriend's Girlfriend" and being all gothic and so forth with Type O Neg. Surely there's some dissonance here. Well, I think I know the answer to this one.

You see, Carnivore only released two albums, "Carnivore" and "Retaliation," before breaking up. I have heard that there was going to be a third album called "Jesus Christ Looks Like Me," but they split before it could be released. Not to worry, though, because most of this stuff was recycled into Type O Neg's first album, "Slow, Deep, and Hard," which was distinctly thrashier than the stuff for which they were known, and also politically incorrect. Furthermore, even as early as Carnivore's "Male Supremacy" on their first album was an acoustic break with Peter Steele singing about "in the furs I make love to her, how her body sings." Which isn't too far removed from "in our meat triangle, all tangled, wow" in Type O Neg's seminal "My Girlfriend's Girlfriend," all things considered. Similarly, even as late as "Bloody Kisses," Type O Neg's third album, there was thrash stuff like "Kill all the White People" and "We Hate Everyone" (the latter of which always opened their concerts), and live they would cover Carnivore's "Jesus Hitler." So it wasn't a sudden switchover, more a gradual bleed.

The so-called Rubicon, however, would have been Type O Negative's "Black No. 1 (Little Miss Scare-All)" in my view. This track, if you've not heard it, is basically eleven minutes of ripping off Bauhaus and the original wave of goth bands. With lyrics that bait goths (which you can google if you're interested). However, this was the first really popular thing that Type O Neg or Carnivore had done and I suppose he kinda became the mask, so to speak, and started gothing it up ever since.

I had the opportunity to see Carnivore live at Wacken Open Air in 2006 but I kinda sat it out because back then I didn't know much of their stuff. More fool me, as Peter Steele is now posing nude for Playgirl's Afterlife Edition so I'll not get another chance. Bollocks.

Car`ni*vore (?), n. [Cf. F. carnivore.] Zool.

One of the Carnivora.


© Webster 1913.

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