Join 3,437 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


I do not expect to see home again.
June 9, 2013 1:04 PM   Subscribe

I will be satisfied if the federation of secret law, unequal pardon and irresistible executive powers that rule the world that I love are revealed even for an instant."
posted by bitmage (1038 comments total) 152 users marked this as a favorite

 
THIS IS AN AWESOME MAN.
posted by JHarris at 1:08 PM on June 9, 2013 [116 favorites]


Admirable.

"you can't wait around for someone else to act. I had been looking for leaders, but I realised that leadership is about being the first to act."

posted by Gilgongo at 1:09 PM on June 9, 2013 [20 favorites]


"I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong," he said.

It seems to me that this is exactly the same bullshit I am hearing from Barack Obama. Of course laws are being broken. At least this guy is breaking it for a goddamned good reason. The President has no such good excuse.
posted by three blind mice at 1:12 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


It was then, he said, that he "watched as Obama advanced the very policies that I thought would be reined in", and as a result, "I got hardened."

Although Obama has done quite a lot of good things, he'll probably be remembered for this most of all. As well he should.
posted by JHarris at 1:13 PM on June 9, 2013 [26 favorites]


And an interview link:

Q: What do the leaked documents reveal?

A: "That the NSA routinely lies in response to congressional inquiries about the scope of surveillance in America.
I believe that when [senator Ron] Wyden and [senator Mark] Udall asked about the scale of this, they [the NSA] said it did not have the tools to provide an answer. We do have the tools and I have maps showing where people have been scrutinised most. We collect more digital communications from America than we do from the Russians."

[...] Q: Is it possible to put security in place to protect against state surveillance?

A: "You are not even aware of what is possible. The extent of their capabilities is horrifying. We can plant bugs in machines. Once you go on the network, I can identify your machine. You will never be safe whatever protections you put in place."

posted by mediareport at 1:15 PM on June 9, 2013 [18 favorites]


Q: What do you think is going to happen to you?

A: "Nothing good."

I don't even know how to express my feelings at this. An American citizen, who has exposed illegal government activity that violates both the letter and spirit of the Constitution, has to hide out in Hong Kong and hope for foreign asylum.

This is not the country I grew up in.
posted by bitmage at 1:16 PM on June 9, 2013 [155 favorites]


Snowden said that he admires both Ellsberg and Manning, but argues that there is one important distinction between himself and the army private, whose trial coincidentally began the week Snowden's leaks began to make news.

"I carefully evaluated every single document I disclosed to ensure that each was legitimately in the public interest," he said. "There are all sorts of documents that would have made a big impact that I didn't turn over, because harming people isn't my goal. Transparency is."


A very important distinction many fail to make.
posted by gertzedek at 1:17 PM on June 9, 2013 [119 favorites]


I wish he could say more about the way the NSA operates and how one can actually keep safe from these terrorists.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 1:21 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wonder what sort of insurance file he has stashed somewhere...
posted by codacorolla at 1:23 PM on June 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


Jesus. I wonder what's going to happen to him.

Edit: I wonder too when we're going to start seeing "leaked" smears about him, and how successful they'll be. He looks like a goddam hero right now--if you read the Guardian.
posted by a birds at 1:24 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've never seen the media so outraged at domestic spying as I am now. Rachel Maddow has been all about this the past couple of shows. I'm starting to think this might actually be the time when the issue breaches the surface of the public mindspace.
posted by JHarris at 1:24 PM on June 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


The President has no such good excuse.

Well, the excuse is protecting American lives from terrorism. I think the law is bad (PATRIOT act), and I think Obama is exceeding what is granted by that law (though I'm more poorly informed about that).

I hope this gets us some reform in this area. If we do, it'll be worth hearing the self-satisfied preening of idiots who were more than happy with the previous administration doing worse than this with less legal basis.
posted by benito.strauss at 1:25 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


What's the CIA's standard operating practice for such cases? The KGB/FSB would send assassins, typically using poisons (as in the case of Markov or Litvinenko), whereas the Mossad would send a squad to capture him alive.
posted by acb at 1:27 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Although Obama has done quite a lot of good things, he'll probably be remembered for this most of all. As well he should.

Or maybe he'll be remembered for necessary passing healthcare reform that was killing and bankrupting millions of Americans through one of the most divisive Congresses in history? Obama's not perfect. There's plenty of of things to dislike: drone attacks, wiretapping, expansion of executive power, consolidation and expansion of military involvement overseas and at home. But this in particular is very much within the confines of previous generations of presidents. If anything, his administration is the one in which the American people have started treating this shit seriously, where the water cooler talk has become less about writing this off like it's the product of some harebrained plot from the X-Files and more about the extent to which the 4th Amendment has been breached.
posted by dubusadus at 1:27 PM on June 9, 2013 [17 favorites]


I don't think it's likely that the US will kill this guy.

I do think it's possible that someone will (say the Chinese or the Russians) so it can be pinned it on the US. "America is just as bad as everyone else" is such a great narrative that they shouldn't let this opportunity pass.
posted by gertzedek at 1:29 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


White House Petition: Pardon Edward Snowden
posted by crayz at 1:30 PM on June 9, 2013 [10 favorites]


Well, the excuse is protecting American lives from terrorism.

The President takes an oath to defend and protect the Constitution.

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

DEFEND THE CONSTITUTION. That is primary job of the President. Nothing else.
posted by three blind mice at 1:31 PM on June 9, 2013 [34 favorites]


Or maybe he'll be remembered for necessary passing healthcare reform that was killing and bankrupting millions of Americans through one of the most divisive Congresses in history? Obama's not perfect.

This is grievously imperfect.

But this is all very much within the confines of previous generations of domestic spying.

This is not in line at all with my understanding of the manner, which indicates a far more profound kind of spying than has ever been done before, or in fact has even been possible since the internet is still relatively speaking a very new thing. That doesn't even get into the advent of secret law. I'm not buying it.
posted by JHarris at 1:32 PM on June 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


It seems to me that this is exactly the same bullshit I am hearing from Barack Obama. Of course laws are being broken. At least this guy is breaking it for a goddamned good reason. The President has no such good excuse.

Snowden arguably broke a law and owned up to it because he believes the law, if valid, is still unjust. Obama arguably followed the law, but hid it anyway and will now likely throw into jail the person who told everybody about it.

Not really the same.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:39 PM on June 9, 2013 [12 favorites]


Will someone please pre-emptively grant this man political asylum.
posted by seanmpuckett at 1:41 PM on June 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


Hopefully he won't soon become Eddard Snowden.
posted by Apocryphon at 1:42 PM on June 9, 2013 [11 favorites]


"Yossarian was cold, too, and shivering uncontrollably. He felt goose pimples clacking all over him as he gazed down despondently at the grim secret Snowden had spilled all over the messy floor. It was easy to read the message in his entrails. Man was matter, that was Snowden’s secret. Drop him out a window and he’ll fall. Set fire to him and he’ll burn. Bury him and he’ll rot, like other kinds of garbage. The spirit gone, man is garbage. That was Snowden’s secret. Ripeness was all." - Catch 22.
posted by sibboleth at 1:46 PM on June 9, 2013 [24 favorites]


Ici! Ici le Snowden d'antan!
posted by Jofus at 1:47 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Look, if your understanding is grounded in evidence then believe what you want. The narrative that's written by the EFF timeline pins the paradigm shift in NSA domestic spying on 9/11 with its most significant expansions happening during Bush's administration. Obama's problem was in not curbing this expansion and keeping the practice relatively opaque. He chose to focus his attention on healthcare reform and renewable energy and while we all would have loved if he could have lived up to the promise of his campaign, it's not the reality we live in. Those acts were his legacy, one that is undeniably tarnished by the continuation of warrantless wiretapping. But to say that this is the thing that would come to define his presidency reveals a profound ignorance of exactly how much spying has been happening for the last decade and of how incredibly important the ACA was in beginning the process of fixing this shameful excuse of a healthcare system that we have had to live with for so many years.
posted by dubusadus at 1:48 PM on June 9, 2013 [19 favorites]


Incredible leak reporting choreography from the Guardian this week. Apparently first stories (which excluded ID of the whistleblower to avoid the news cycle focussing on the person not the issues) were timed to not only catch the US newspapers dozing (the Washington Post rushed through a similar PRISM story that scooped the Guardian by a few minutes but then that went through an embarrassing series of corrections afterwards), but to cause maximum pressure on Obama with the initial stories coming out just before he toured Silicon Valley fundraisers and then met with the Chinese President at a summit meant to be focussed on Chinese hacking vs the US (this issue was sidelined at the actualy meeting, presumably because of awkwardness).

Some critics have said that all or most of these revelations this week are nothing new in the press, even years old, but they're overlooking the impact of *how* this reporting is being delivered.
posted by Bwithh at 1:51 PM on June 9, 2013 [63 favorites]


I think what Snowden has done is valuable. Congress and the President just haven't given a convincing enough case that this massive NSA wiretapping system can't be abused either in an organized way or by individual analysts.

I can see why a system like this could be desirable, especially if we end up in another conflict between major world powers. And obviously a big problem is no President wants to be in a position where they fail to protect the U.S. from another terrorist attack. The NSA is probably making the case that this is their best tool for preventing one. I wonder how we could retain it and still protect privacy better than it appears to be, according to Snowden. Maybe it could be put it entirely under the control of Congress and the Justice Department, rather than the White House. Maybe there could be engineers and analysts reporting directly to the Justice Department whose soul purpose is to insure that none of the information is accessed except via official queries into the database, that every query into the database is recorded forever, that any illegal queries are persecuted to the full extent of the law, and that no information from the database can be used for any purpose except counter-terrorism and counter-intelligence. Or maybe it is just impossible, and the system should be shut down entirely unless we are already aware of a real existential threat. In any event, thanks to Snowden Obama and Congress will likely be forced to have the conversation openly.
posted by Golden Eternity at 1:51 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I really want to see some kind of Church Committee come out of this and drag this stuff out of the underbelly into the light of day.
posted by rmd1023 at 1:52 PM on June 9, 2013 [25 favorites]


If we do, it'll be worth hearing the self-satisfied preening of idiots who were more than happy with the previous administration doing worse than this with less legal basis.

"I think I have just read about the man for which I have waited. Earmarks of a real hero."--Glenn Beck.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 1:52 PM on June 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


Video: inside The Guardian headquarters
posted by Bwithh at 1:53 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


.
posted by surrendering monkey at 1:53 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I really want to see some kind of Church Committee come out of this and drag this stuff out of the underbelly into the light of day.

Does Congress have time for that, what with all the Benghazi hearings ?
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 1:55 PM on June 9, 2013 [21 favorites]


DEFEND THE CONSTITUTION. That is primary job of the President. Nothing else.

So you were complaining just as loudly when Bush suspended habeus corpus?
posted by benito.strauss at 1:56 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


The accusation about the NSA lying to Congress is what has legs. Congresscritters can't help but grandstand.
posted by ryoshu at 1:56 PM on June 9, 2013 [12 favorites]


It just kind of hit me -- he has traded a lifetime of looking over his shoulder for a chance that we might not have to do the same.
posted by seanmpuckett at 2:00 PM on June 9, 2013 [95 favorites]


I am taking his reported position as being in Hong Kong with a pinch of salt. As pointed out in the other thread Hong Kong has an extradition agreement with the US.
When they find him they will probably render him somewhere as we all know the US is not interested in justice (See Bradley Manning); The rule of law is no longer.
What we suspected but wouldn't admit to ourselves has come to pass.
We are well and truely into the dystopian future much faster than we thought possible.
posted by adamvasco at 2:02 PM on June 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


Hong Kong has an extradition agreement with the US, but it is firmly in China's sphere of influence. Such an extradition agreement would apply to embezzlers, drug traffickers and such, but may not be worth the paper it's written on for high-value intelligence targets.
posted by acb at 2:08 PM on June 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


I completely understand why he went to Hong Kong. But if it was civil disobedience he was interested in going there was a grave mistake. It's going to be way too easy to paint this as some sort of Chinese influence.
posted by Justinian at 2:09 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


So you were complaining just as loudly when Bush suspended habeus corpus?

Absolutely. Loudly enough to have voted for Obama the first time as a result. Indeed, it was was Bush and the Republicans who convinced me to vote a straight Democratic ticket -for the first time ever - in 2008.

And what did I get? The Drone Ranger is not only George Bush, he's George Bush on steroids. A pathetic liberal alternative. No alternative at all.
posted by three blind mice at 2:09 PM on June 9, 2013 [32 favorites]


That still brings into question some sort of "enhanced interrogation" at the hands of the communist Chinese, eager for more tales of the NSA, acb.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 2:10 PM on June 9, 2013


That still brings into question some sort of "enhanced interrogation" at the hands of the communist Chinese, eager for more tales of the NSA, acb.

Kind of fucked up when torture at the hands of China is more agreeable than what the US government is doing.
posted by ryoshu at 2:14 PM on June 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


Obama seems a lot like LBJ to me. I'm happy about so many of his domestic achievements and so sadly disappointed with his foreign policies.
posted by octothorpe at 2:16 PM on June 9, 2013 [9 favorites]


China is not going to kidnap and torture this guy. He is worth far more as a symbol. "See, we're not as bad as the United States! They are lying about us!"
posted by Justinian at 2:16 PM on June 9, 2013 [11 favorites]


tbm, I think we're turning into a derail in this thread. Let's stop, okay?
posted by benito.strauss at 2:19 PM on June 9, 2013


I'm not going to defend Obama, he should have followed through on his initial promises to shut this stuff down.

OTOH, I can sympathize. Can you imagine what would happen if he had terminated some secret spying program and then some significant terrorism event occurred? There's no doubt in my mind that someone in Congress would have squawked and impeachment could even be a possibility.

The problem is that no one wants to give up power, even when they don't agree with the justification for it.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 2:22 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I completely understand why he went to Hong Kong. But if it was civil disobedience he was interested in going there was a grave mistake. It's going to be way too easy to paint this as some sort of Chinese influence.

It seems to me that he played this very smart. Whip up a media frenzy with a critical mass of the public and various high-profile individuals on your side, then run off to a place where you can't just quietly be arrested and locked up -- it looks like the US government would need to move mountains and act very publicly to get its hands on this guy. And that may turn out to be a political non-starter.

On the other hand maybe not. But I think he maximized his chances of an okay outcome for himself. I doubt the Chinese-spy story is true or will stick.
posted by eugenen at 2:23 PM on June 9, 2013


The narrative that's written by the EFF timeline pins the paradigm shift in NSA domestic spying on 9/11 with its most significant expansions happening during Bush's administration.

You said before:
But this in particular is very much within the confines of previous generations of presidents.

That to an immediate reading didn't suggest Bush II, but more the time frame of Kennedy.
posted by JHarris at 2:23 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


The rule of law is no longer.

I'll be waiting for more in-depth legal analyses from smart sources (Balkin, Kerr, Wittes) before making any judgments about the legality here. My overall sense is that, while people can disagree w/ his foreign policy judgment all they want, Obama has worked w/in constitutional constraints and hasn't taken positions that aren't too aggressive (with the possible exception of Libya).

Just facially, there are clear differences for fourth amendment purposes between the type of record here (business records that don't reach content) and the purpose (national security) that both tend to have lower standards for the fourth amendment (ie, reasonable basis v probable cause). Upshot is that I'm much more interested in the granular statutory analysis.
posted by jpe at 2:23 PM on June 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


I'm not going to defend Obama, he should have followed through on his initial promises to shut this stuff down.

This was a different program. I've rarely been surprised by Obama, and it's probably because I follow one rule: remember that he's a lawyer and chooses his words carefully, and read his statements accordingly.
posted by jpe at 2:25 PM on June 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


Power is a function of institutions more than individuals and certainly more than personalities like Obama. By focusing on these manicured figureheads we fool ourselves into thinking that power is guided by an ethos the same way we would like to think individuals are. It is impossible to attack or defend Obama, who knows who made him, who knows who his masters are. This guy, on the other hand, is doing something that only an individual can do, which is why is life will be a misery.
posted by Teakettle at 2:38 PM on June 9, 2013 [16 favorites]


So you were complaining just as loudly when Bush suspended habeus corpus?

Don't forget when Clinton did it in 1996 as well. And yes, some of us complained then, too.
posted by scody at 2:39 PM on June 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


The NSA has existed for a long time. Domestic spying then, has existed for a long time, whether or not it was a priority. The most effective time in which to politicize those acts would have been at the founding of the NSA in Truman's era or nearly 20 years later when Ted Kennedy introduced FISA and Jimmy Carter signed off on the first bill that would effectively protect US citizens from being spied on by security agencies. And who remembers Carter for the things he's done now? Were those damn hippies right about the conspiracy apparatus after all? Where were the protests against the Patriot Act?

Popular support. That was the one thing that was missing. There's something of an unfounded assumption here that this is the legacy of Obama not the legacy we have from the Cold War that has only now come into light. If anything, Obama's is the administration that would most easily keel over to popular political pressure to something like this. Now we know how the drone strikes work legally (sort of) and that was half the battle. Now there's a path for reform and enacting change, not just ineffective anger at some dirty acts carried out by nameless security agencies. Even TBIJ data reports that drone strikes have died down a whole hell of a lot since the Living Under Drones Report garnered some small amount of popular support and led to that rash of reporting.

We should be celebrating that the most of us are listening to the right activists now, not beating the donkey for not knowing the way.
posted by dubusadus at 2:44 PM on June 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


This is not the country I grew up in.

Yes it is. The difference between then and now is that it's easier to get the information out there when you catch the Government up to no good.
posted by MissySedai at 2:49 PM on June 9, 2013 [43 favorites]


The NSA has always existed. Domestic spying then, has always existed, whether or not it was a priority.

That's a large leap to take when your original assertion was that spying like this has always existed, which is on-its-face false, and in fact was impossible without very recent technology.
posted by JHarris at 2:49 PM on June 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


Power is a function of institutions more than individuals and certainly more than personalities like Obama. By focusing on these manicured figureheads we fool ourselves into thinking that power is guided by an ethos the same way we would like to think individuals are.

Anyone else note the inconsistency? Manicured figureheads meaning that there's someone "grooming them" (see: "who knows who made him, who knows who his masters are") which contradicts the "power is a function of institutions".

You can give arguments against current events, but I can't believe that comments like the above are as popular as they are. They strike me as unfoundedly conspiratorial. For instance, I've seen comments such as this become very popular of late: "Funny how all the people that believe in Illuminati and government corruption get bashed, such as myself, but then you see [this] stuff happening"
posted by SollosQ at 2:50 PM on June 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yeah sorry, I edited that hyperbole out. Spying like this has existed for at least a decade, spying of this kind has existed for 60+ years. My point is simply that now is the time for political action and cathartic as it is to take it out on the POTUS, this apparatus is not his doing.
posted by dubusadus at 2:51 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Pretty shoddy recruiting and security practices on display here from Booz Allen Hamilton. One might expect some investigation of the big security contractor, maybe some reviews of contracts and such. Fortunately for them, the current Director of National intelligence is a former BAH employee, and there's been a lot of revolving-doorism between the government and the firm (90s bogeymen the Carlyle Group are majority owners). So there probably won't be too much scrutiny.
posted by notyou at 2:51 PM on June 9, 2013 [9 favorites]


Does no one else here find his career history ... weird? I find it very hard to believe, though I can imagine some additional details that would connect the dots.

But a high school dropout, who joins the military but soon is discharged because of a training accident, who takes a job as a security guard ... then his next position is working for the CIA in IT security? Then next he's stationed in Geneva where he's privy to the details of a field operation to recruit a source? Then left the CIA and began working for contractors contracting to the NSA? Eventually making 200k? All within 10 years?

And the enlisting into the Army with only a GED and then beginning training for Special Forces? I'd like someone with Army knowledge to tell me if that makes sense. But there's no indication that he received technical training related to IT in the Army, demonstrated by the fact that his post-Army job was as a security guard.

I mean, look: I worked in software during the dotcom era and I know that in IT you can go quite far without formal education. But the ability to do this was, and still is, and more so now, directly proportional to how unconventional the company/industry you're working in. Government is deeply conservative about this stuff, they're all about credentials. If he'd actually been in Special Forces and also had some relevant specialized training, then maybe he'd get a job with the CIA. I mean, maybe. More likely with a contractor, but just possibly with the CIA. But with no training and no relevant and noteworthy military experience? I don't see that. Working as a security guard, you don't walk into the CIA with just a GED and say, hey, I have mad skillz with computers.

That said, I also have trouble believing that this guy's story isn't true. Greenwald and others surely did a lot of due diligence and, regardless, the guy had access to stuff that is real.

So I'm thinking one of two things, perhaps a combination. First, that there's a lot in his history that he's leaving out or that maybe his history isn't what he claims it is. Maybe what he did in the Army is much different than he describes, maybe he actually got a lot of technical training and then did a bunch of intelligence-related IT work that he can't talk about for whatever reasons. Second, maybe his actual responsibilities at CIA and NSA were at a much lower level than he's presenting, although he still had a lot of access as an unavoidable consequence. I dunno.

Or, maybe, it's just a fluke. Maybe he is really smart and somehow he had a contact or otherwise impressed someone enough that he got someone to hire him at the CIA with basically no qualifications. Weird shit happens.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:52 PM on June 9, 2013 [27 favorites]


Bruce Schneier recently wrote a good essay on the tendency of governments to add more and more agencies, bureaus, programs, and technologies in the name of security. It's going to be difficult to overcome these perverse incentives that politicians face.
posted by rustcrumb at 2:59 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I didn't vote for the previous generations of presidents. I've apologized enough for Obama's imperfections. I am really done with it. I know the alternatives are worse, but that's like saying jump or be fucking pushed, in the end who cares we're fucked.

The worst thing about Obama will turn out to be the way his rhetoric of a new way forward ended up producing the most cycnical moment yet in American politics. They truly are all the damn same.
posted by spitbull at 3:03 PM on June 9, 2013 [15 favorites]


What’s the Deal with Hong Kong?
Even though I’m tentatively willing to accept Snowden’s claim that he is doing this only because he thinks it’s right, he still seems to be hoping to evade the criminal consequences by defecting to China, a key US rival and one that comes up rather short of being the kind of libertarian and transparent society Snowden apparently believes in.

Look, I get it. He doesn’t want to go to prison. I don’t blame him. He says in the article that his highest hope is get asylum in Iceland. I can pretty much guarantee you that that’s not going to happen. A small country that wants to be close friends of the United States is not going to do that. I could see arguments for Russia or Venezuela or perhaps Iran. But of all the places where you might have a shot at not getting extradited, China’s not a bad choice. Hong Kong might even give you the best of both worlds, hosted by repressive government which is a US rival and yet living in a city with Western standards of openness, wealth, etc.

But the decision to go to China inevitably colors his decision and sets up what could be a very uncomfortable diplomatic stand-off. I’ve seen people linking to the current US-Hong Kong extradition treaty. Call me naive but I think this is going to come down to how Beijing wants to play this. If they don’t want a fight over this, Snowden’s toast. If they like the optics of it, I don’t think it matters what that extradition treaty says. China’s a big enough player and the US has enough other fish to fry with the Chinese, that the US is not going to put the bilateral relationship on the line over this guy. And the Chinese might relish granting asylum to an American running from the claws of US ‘state repression’.
posted by zombieflanders at 3:13 PM on June 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


The backstory reads like a bluff, to me. I bet there is an empty hotel room under his name in Hong Kong, meanwhile he's on the other side of the planet somewhere else.
posted by feloniousmonk at 3:15 PM on June 9, 2013 [9 favorites]


You can give arguments against current events, but I can't believe that comments like the above are as popular as they are. They strike me as unfoundedly conspiratorial. For instance, I've seen comments such as this become very popular of late: "Funny how all the people that believe in Illuminati and government corruption get bashed, such as myself, but then you see [this] stuff happening" -SollosQ

I can see how my use of the word 'manicured' would indicate a proverbial manicurist, but I think the idea that the motivations of powerful figures being difficult to divine is not hard to defend - I also think that the sheer number of interests intersecting to create this incredible violation suggests that it is a problem of-the-times, hastened perhaps by a few individuals.

Perhaps this is one of the times when using conspricist lingo is appropriate - given that we are discussing an enormous and secret spying program where the entire communications and intelligence infrastructure have taken a position of power over an entire unsuspecting nation. What do you think the price of taking this freedom back will be? Can it be done? For the past 12 years or so, this country has been chipping away at our privacy and other freedoms - how many of them do you think we will get back? Do you know why we had them to begin with?

This is sinister, dangerous. We are talking about a great evil, not an unfortunate bureaucratic misstep. If you have friends who grew up in nations where the secret police had this level of power, you will appreciate how precious it is to feel secure in your privacy.
posted by Teakettle at 3:16 PM on June 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


I really want to see some kind of Church Committee come out of this and drag this stuff out of the underbelly into the light of day.

But the Church committee wouldn't have existed without a decade of left, hard left even, activism. You don't get something for nothing.
posted by ennui.bz at 3:19 PM on June 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


But a high school dropout, who joins the military but soon is discharged because of a training accident, who takes a job as a security guard ... then his next position is working for the CIA in IT security? Then next he's stationed in Geneva where he's privy to the details of a field operation to recruit a source? Then left the CIA and began working for contractors contracting to the NSA? Eventually making 200k? All within 10 years?

There's nothing strange about taking 10 years to go from inexperienced dropout to making 200k. In fact, there are a huge number of billionaires in IT that dropped out of some kind of school. 200k isn't even that high.
posted by tripping daisy at 3:20 PM on June 9, 2013


They truly are all the damn same.

sure, as long as you're not gay, black, poor, or a woman.
posted by jpe at 3:21 PM on June 9, 2013 [19 favorites]


feloniousmonk: "The backstory reads like a bluff, to me. I bet there is an empty hotel room under his name in Hong Kong, meanwhile he's on the other side of the planet somewhere else."

Why would the Guardian reporters take part in a bluff like that?
posted by gertzedek at 3:21 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Was NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden a Ron Paul Supporter?
posted by Golden Eternity at 3:22 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I doubt the Guardian would participate in a bluff, it would hurt their credibility too much. I don't think it means anything about the leaks one way or the other, but it the details seem off. Maybe this is just because I find it hard to believe that Hong Kong or really anywhere would be safe, maybe they are holding something back for some reason, I don't know.

I worry for him because I can only imagine that he is going to be enemy #1 and that the intelligence community is going to seek to make an example of him.
posted by feloniousmonk at 3:32 PM on June 9, 2013


"D'Tocqueville warned that modern democracy may be adept at inventing new forms of tyranny, because radical equality could lead to the materialism of an expanding bourgeoisie and to the selfishness of individualism. In such conditions we lose interest in the future of our descendents...and meekly allow ourselves to be led in ignorance by a despotic force all the more powerful because it does not resemble one.[15] Tocqueville worried that if despotism were to take root in a modern democracy, it would be a much more dangerous version than the oppression under the Roman emperors or tyrants of the past who could only exert a pernicious influence on a small group of people at a time. In contrast, a despotism under a democracy could see "a multitude of men", uniformly alike, equal, "constantly circling for petty pleasures", unaware of fellow citizens, and subject to the will of a powerful state which exerted an "immense protective power".[3] Tocqueville compared a potentially despotic democratic government to a protective parent who wants to keep its citizens (children) as "perpetual children", and which doesn't break men's wills but rather guides it, and presides over people in the same way as a shepherd looking after a "flock of timid animals".[3]. Wikipedia
posted by Vibrissae at 3:32 PM on June 9, 2013 [19 favorites]


Countdown to Swedish rape charges...
posted by Trochanter at 3:33 PM on June 9, 2013 [17 favorites]


Incredible leak reporting choreography from the Guardian this week.

Keep in mind this whole story from the beginning is almost exclusively due to Glenn Greenwald, a columnist for the Guardian who has been a lonely voice (shrill, some say) on government civil rights violations for years. Snowden likely reached out to Greenwald because of his reputation, much like Manning reached out to Assange. Greenwald is only partly supported by the Guardian. He is a believer in reader-funded journalism because it fosters independence.
posted by JackFlash at 3:38 PM on June 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


If they like the optics of it, I don’t think it matters what that extradition treaty says. China’s a big enough player and the US has enough other fish to fry with the Chinese, that the US is not going to put the bilateral relationship on the line over this guy. And the Chinese might relish granting asylum to an American running from the claws of US ‘state repression’.

It all makes running to Hong Kong a smart play, doesn't it? The whole thing's pretty well gift-wrapped for the Chinese: right before a summit where Obama had well-publicized plans to pressure Xi Jinping on Chinese cyber-espionage, a set of embarrassing revelations drops about the American government doing the same thing on a massive scale. And the next time the US government gives asylum to a Chinese pro-democracy dissident, they can point to him as an American dissident who had to escape to China to flee from the repression of his government.

Probably nobody in American intelligence is willing to take the diplomatic risk of some kind of smash-and-grab rendition out from under the PRC's nose either, which might well not be the case if he had broken for Bolivia or Ecuador or someplace like that.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 3:39 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


From comments on the guardian:
"I'd give him a Nobel Peace Prize, if it hadn't been grossly devalued by previous recipients."
posted by lenny70 at 3:47 PM on June 9, 2013 [39 favorites]


This is sinister, dangerous. We are talking about a great evil, not an unfortunate bureaucratic misstep. If you have friends who grew up in nations where the secret police had this level of power, you will appreciate how precious it is to feel secure in your privacy.

This is the biggest problem I have. I don't deny that the intelligence agencies in the United States may in fact be violating privacy rights far more than we think. But it's an unfounded leap to go from: "This is a massive infringement upon our privacy for the sake of security," to "This is a massive infringement upon our privacy for nefarious purposes of controlling the populous."

A major post on Reddit that made /r/bestof was essentially this. The post author wrote that he lives in an effective dictatorship where the government uses intelligence in order to blackmail and oppress political opponents. Sure, intelligence can be used to this end, but on what evidence do we have that the United States government is using it to this purpose?

We don't have a secret police, a la Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union, whereby intelligence is used in this manner.

I don't think we should be against privacy infringement because of its potential abuse. There are many government mechanisms which we retain despite that they may be potentially abused because they have many beneficial functions. Intelligence gathering has beneficial functions. It's up to us to figure the length to which privacy has been infringed, laws have been violated, and how we want to balance security and privacy.
posted by SollosQ at 3:50 PM on June 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


"There's nothing strange about taking 10 years to go from inexperienced dropout to making 200k. In fact, there are a huge number of billionaires in IT that dropped out of some kind of school. 200k isn't even that high."

Yes, I know, I worked in software during the dotcom era and eventually at a company which had a (relatively) famously successful IPO. I know what you're describing firsthand. You're refuting the most trivial and unmysterious point I didn't actually make. Ten years to 200K with little formal education is not, in itself, surprising. It's specifically the path he took to get there that doesn't make sense.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:50 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Was NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden a Ron Paul Supporter?

I saw this pop up in my Twitter feed a few times. I don't understand why it matters.
posted by eugenen at 3:53 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


The whole thing's pretty well gift-wrapped for the Chinese: right before a summit where Obama had well-publicized plans to pressure Xi Jinping on Chinese cyber-espionage, a set of embarrassing revelations drops about the American government doing the same thing on a massive scale. And the next time the US government gives asylum to a Chinese pro-democracy dissident, they can point to him as an American dissident who had to escape to China to flee from the repression of his government.

I do wonder about his line of thought. I mean, if you want to get away from large countries with heavy restrictions of freedom of speech, an omnipresent surveillance state, and a highly aggressive posture of cyberwarfare and sabotage (including critical infrastructure)*, China is one of the few places worse than the US to run off to. Especially since priority #1 for their military is getting their hands on privileged information about the US intelligence apparatus.


* And while we're at it: widespread abuses of the penal system, repression of workers in the name of the free market, a regulatory environment that would give Ayn Rand multiple orgasms, and large multinationals beholden to the government of their home country
posted by zombieflanders at 3:54 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


but on what evidence do we have that the United States government is using it to this purpose?

He specifically addressed this point (and I think very well) in his interview. When you build a technological mechanism which can be used to impose a tyranny and the only barrier to that tyranny is policy rather than law, it is practically inevitable that someone will find reason to change that policy in the future. He calls it "turnkey tyranny".

The issue isn't that the USA is currently using this system for draconian purposes upon its own populace, it's that it claims the legal right to make such a system and the only thing between us and that tyranny is the goodwill of the government.

This should not be legal even if the government is benevolent. Because the government isn't always benevolent.
posted by Justinian at 3:56 PM on June 9, 2013 [77 favorites]


But it's an unfounded leap to go from: "This is a massive infringement upon our privacy for the sake of security," to "This is a massive infringement upon our privacy for nefarious purposes of controlling the populous."

It's unconstitutional regardless of purpose. Also, once you've built out capabilities like that, purposes have a funny habit of shifting.
posted by the jam at 3:57 PM on June 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


Hong Kong has an extradition agreement with the US, but it is firmly in China's sphere of influence. Such an extradition agreement would apply to embezzlers, drug traffickers and such, but may not be worth the paper it's written on for high-value intelligence targets.

Well, Hong Kong may be in China's sphere of influence, but it has its own government and a UK-style legal system that continues to uphold the rule of law.

Unfortunately, Hong Kong Government already has 'previous' when it comes to rendition.
posted by Mister Bijou at 3:57 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, and I think his phrase of "turnkey tyranny" perfectly encapsulates the problem. Is that original? Or did he swipe it?
posted by Justinian at 3:57 PM on June 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


We don't have a secret police, a la Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union, whereby intelligence is used in this manner.

Because of the inherently virtuous and incorruptible character of humanity in America, as opposed to the far more flawed forms of humanity in Germany, Russia, Iran, Egypt , &c.?

Saying that we don't need to oppose privacy infringement because we're Americans and things like that can't happen here is like saying that we don't need unions because our bosses aren't the greedy robber-barons of yore. Human character does not change dramatically, and if there is a reason why country A sees widespread abuses and country B doesn't, that reason would be a lot too contingent to place blind faith in.

Or, to quote an Arabic proverb, “trust in Allah, but tie up your camel”.
posted by acb at 3:58 PM on June 9, 2013 [26 favorites]


This is not the country I grew up in.

I find myself thinking that increasingly more often every day.
posted by entropicamericana at 3:58 PM on June 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'd like to ask each presidential candidate one question: If you honestly believed the security of the nation were at stake, would you be willing to look the American people in the eye and lie to them?

I can't think of an answer I'd be comfortable with.
posted by Longtime Listener at 3:59 PM on June 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


His salary was hush money... keep your yap shut, and retire early, courtesy high-pay contractor gigs with high power contractors. Any casual student of history could have told you how that works out... and here it is again. Some people would prefer to sleep at night without that business hanging over their head, who knew.
posted by Slap*Happy at 3:59 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


So many currents. Some large, like the surge of support for LGBT issues, and some small, like two or three individuals at a time deciding that everyone else's interests are worth more than their own. So many currents, many of them flowing in the right direction.

It makes me hopeful for us, but I want the takeaway to be that this is an example of how to be, not an excuse to lie back and let people like this do it for us.
posted by Mooski at 4:05 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


"I find myself thinking that increasingly more often every day."

I've felt this since the public reaction to Abu Ghraib and pretty much haven't given a shit about the US, in these terms, since. It's not been "my country" for me for a while.

The surveillance state, for me, pales in comparison to the national orgy of praising torture and torturers. Because, you know, we can alter the government but we can do fuck-all about the people.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:09 PM on June 9, 2013 [21 favorites]


It's unconstitutional regardless of purpose. Also, once you've built out capabilities like that, purposes have a funny habit of shifting.

Which is why I said, let's not argue against these actions because of something irrelevant as "Oh, this has the potential for abuse." Let's instead address whether or not this is legal.

If you have friends who grew up in nations where the secret police had this level of power, you will appreciate how precious it is to feel secure in your privacy.

On a slightly (un)related note, through studying Russian at university, I've met a lot of people who lived in the Soviet Union. And though this effect wasn't really a result from privacy infringement, they were much more mellow about such violations given how safe they (in this case, women) were. They could do something as simple as walk around at night without having to worry for their safety. I also have a family member who lived her whole life in Nazi Germany and has opinions on the matter of what it means to be safe or not, and the opinions she has about this matter aren't going to be what you want me to get from her.

Saying that we don't need to oppose privacy infringement because we're Americans and things like that can't happen here is like saying that we don't need unions because our bosses aren't the greedy robber-barons of yore.

There is substantial empirical evidence to suggest that unions are necessary in order to act as a check and balance on greedy bosses. A more proper analogy of what I'm reading here would be to say that we shouldn't have unions because union leaders might get in bed with bosses.

For instance, there are already checks and balances with the intelligence communities. The executive, legislative, and judicial branches. The reason that U.S. citizens are left out of this conversation is because of the classified nature of everything. When Nixon actually did stuff that would fit a "conspiracy theory", he had to resign or face impeachment due to checks and balances. What is being suggested here, is that the judicial, executive, and legislative branches have the potential to all get in bed (Republicans and Democrats alike) with each other, and the intelligence agencies, in order to oppress and control its populous without any empirical evidence.

I've never said this couldn't happen in the United States. But I do think that either there'd be signs that such things were happening, and that there's no reason to then reject these measures FOR THE PARTICULAR REASON of potential abuse, because there are other valid arguments to give. OR, even if it'd be possible that there wouldn't be any signs, we're talking about so remote of a possibility, that it's laughable to give as an argument because it's such a slippery slope or "the sky is falling" belief.
posted by SollosQ at 4:12 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I always wonder if these programs already have dirt on every single American politician. Remember they don't need to stand up in court. All they need is to find out the blackmail pressure points.

I can't help but think Eliot Spitzer just forgot who was the boss and pissed off a few too many rich politically connected folk.
posted by srboisvert at 4:14 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


The capability is itself the threat. The capability is itself the abuse.
posted by Teakettle at 4:18 PM on June 9, 2013 [22 favorites]


I always wonder if these programs already have dirt on every single American politician. Remember they don't need to stand up in court. All they need is to find out the blackmail pressure points.

It worked for J. Edgar Hoover (whose techniques were primitive compared to what's available these days).
posted by acb at 4:19 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


The capability is itself the threat. The capability is itself the abuse.

I don't, personally, buy it.

Iran is building nuclear power facilities. There is potential for abuse simply because they have the capability given nuclear power facilities, but there's no evidence to suggest that their intentions are so, so let's not bother them with all this cyber-war.

Police forces and the military in the United States have a rather one-sided ownership of physical control over U.S. citizens. Citizens can't really stand to wage war against these two forces. There's a lot of potential for abuse there simply because of the capability, but there's no evidence to suggest otherwise, and we have channels of checks and balances. So let's not talk about how we should dismantle these two organizations. Let's instead make sure they follow the rules of law and the proper checks and balances against abuse are in place.
posted by SollosQ at 4:25 PM on June 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


This is the biggest problem I have. I don't deny that the intelligence agencies in the United States may in fact be violating privacy rights far more than we think. But it's an unfounded leap to go from: "This is a massive infringement upon our privacy for the sake of security," to "This is a massive infringement upon our privacy for nefarious purposes of controlling the populous." ... We don't have a secret police, a la Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union, whereby intelligence is used in this manner.

There's a lot of potential for abuse there simply because of the capability, but there's no evidence to suggest otherwise, and we have channels of checks and balances. So let's not talk about how the sky is falling or how the sky has the potential to fall.
King, look into your heart. You know you are a complete fraud and a great liability to all of us Negroes. White people in this country have enough frauds of their own but I am sure they don't have one at this time anywhere near your equal. You are no clergyman and you know it. I repeat you are a colossal fraud and an evil, vicious one at that. You could not believe in God... Clearly you don't believe in any personal moral principles.

King, like all frauds your end is approaching. You could have been our greatest leader. You, even at an early age have turned out to be not a leader but a dissolute, abnormal moral imbecile. [....] But you are done. Your "honorary" degrees, your Nobel Prize (what a grim farce) and other awards will not save you. King, I repeat you are done.

[...]

King, there is only one thing left for you to do. You know what it is. You have just 34 days in which to do it (this exact number has been selected for a specific reason, it has definite practical significance). You are done. There is but one way out for you. You better take it before your filthy, abnormal fraudulent self is bared to the nation.
"Shortly after [FBI] Director Hoover’s press conference in November 1964, in which he referred to Dr. [Martin Luther] King [Jr.] as the country’s “most notorious liar,” a package was mailed to Dr. King. It contained an anonymous diatribe against the civil rights leader and a copy of an electronic surveillance tape, apparently to lend credence to threats of exposure of derogatory personal information made in the letter. The committee was unable to locate the original letter, but an apparently authentic copy was found in the files of Assistant Director Sullivan. The final paragraph clearly implied that suicide would be a suitable course of action for Dr. King"
-- from the Report of the Select Committee on Assassinations of the U.S. House of Representatives
posted by orthogonality at 4:27 PM on June 9, 2013 [42 favorites]


There's something else that's exhilarating about this is that this whole saga, from the first leak to this interview, where it's all been driven by the raw, crackling power of journalism. The Guardian here has been just astounding in making sure that this story had the maximum impact possible and in providing scoop after scoop to literally make some of the most powerful people in the world tremble and (hey we can dream) potentially change our democracies for the better.

But there's another side to this that makes me worried and that's little thing that's popped up in a corner of East London: #Guardiancoffee. Yes, the Guardian have opened up a cafe in a trendy corner of London as a pop-up store* that's mainly there to be tweeted about. I've been there myself and it's as irritating as it sounds, something that's been agreed to by a committee of out-of-touch, more than slightly desperate managers.

I'm not mentioning this to cheapen the Guardian in the slightest, but it really highlights to me how damn uncertain the future of journalism is. Here is a newspaper in full command of its powers having to resort to gimmicks to find ways to survive. And these gimmicks aren't working. I don't want to rehash the future of journalism debate that we're all more than familiar with, but christ is this a stark contrast with the Guardian launching in the same month this milestone and this... coffee shop.

I say this as someone who's been often tempted by journalism but stayed away because I don't know if I can commit to something that's got such a fragile future: I hope similar stories will be managed and released with as much skill in 20 years time.

*it's part of something called Boxpark which bills itself as 'the world's first pop-up shopping mall!' so my guess is that it'll be around for 3-6 months.
posted by litleozy at 4:33 PM on June 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


He's an extremely valuable debrief. If Beijing know where he is I suspect that he is under understated but intense guard.
posted by jaduncan at 4:34 PM on June 9, 2013


"There are all sorts of documents that would have made a big impact that I didn't turn over, because harming people isn't my goal."

is it just me, or is there an implied threat here to spill more if the u s does get its hands on him?
posted by pyramid termite at 4:38 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't get the Hoover example.

I don't know if they got search warrants or not to record private conversations of King's, but regardless of what they did, it was an abuse of their powers. Is anyone suggesting that we dismember the FBI's ability to record conversations even with a search warrant? No. We accept that abuses can happen, but that we should implement checks and balances as much as possible to minimize these chances. So why is the NSA's work here any different? So long as it's legal, who cares if it can be abused?

It seems to me that the NSA's work also requires much more checks and balances than the relatively autonomous FBI, which did its work in conjunction with only the DOJ as the article seems to suggest. Whereas with the NSA, there are FISA courts, there are briefings of the legislative and executive branch... and so on.
posted by SollosQ at 4:39 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


* it's part of something called Boxpark which bills itself as 'the world's first pop-up shopping mall!' so my guess is that it'll be around for 3-6 months.

From what I heard, the Guardian has signed a 6-month lease on its unit, and the plan is not so much to find alternative revenue streams or promote the newspaper but to use the café environment as a user testing lab for new approaches to content delivery (a problem they're going to have to crack sooner rather than later). (They have iPads bolted to the tables, running the Guardian's news app; it is not certain whether they're running the public build of the app, a new experimental version or a mix.) When I went there, a journalist there said it was an extension of the Open Weekend the Guardian had last year.

I'm guessing that renting some retail units in Shoreditch and getting a decent local café to provide the coffee (which comes from Nude Espresso, one of London's better roasteries) is a good approach to getting people to show up to your user acceptance lab without them necessarily being the sorts of people who'd trek out to a newspaper's office.
posted by acb at 4:42 PM on June 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


To me it's kind of ironic how Obama inspired a lot of people to care about government transparency in the first place, and is now being met with some very justifiable pushback when it comes to things such as PRISM.

Look, I get it. He doesn’t want to go to prison. I don’t blame him. He says in the article that his highest hope is get asylum in Iceland. I can pretty much guarantee you that that’s not going to happen. A small country that wants to be close friends of the United States is not going to do that.

The US also wanted Bobby Fischer - not just for the Spasky match, but also for tax evasion - and Iceland's conservative government granted him asylum. Iceland currently has another conservative government. Snowden is of course a whole other magnitude of asylum seeker, but "little nation wants to stay friends with US" wouldn't be a reason for turning him away.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:42 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Could he get safe passage to Iceland without crossing over international waters, where the US could and would intercept him (using kinetic force if necessary)?
posted by acb at 4:44 PM on June 9, 2013


Slap*Happy: "His salary was hush money... keep your yap shut, and retire early"

200K a year in hush-money? No wonder he's disgruntled.
posted by gertzedek at 4:45 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Could he get safe passage to Iceland without crossing over international waters, where the US could and would intercept him (using kinetic force if necessary)?

A local millionaire paid for a private jet to bring Fischer here. If we pool our resources, I'm sure we could arrange some kind of teleportation device.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:46 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


So why is the NSA's work here any different? So long as it's legal, who cares if it can be abused?

I just... I don't even know.

Setting aside for a moment the fact that (at least) the phone records part of this week's news can only charitably be called legal by the most ham fisted interpretation of the law, "who cares if it can be abused" is just such a blindly weird reaction to government overreach that I honestly don't know how to respond to it.
posted by Inkoate at 4:48 PM on June 9, 2013 [10 favorites]


Fischer was Fischer; this guy's a whole nother kettle of fish. While they wouldn't scramble jets to intercept a jet carrying a mildly embarrassing loose cannon chess master, this cannot be guaranteed for an intelligence officer who spilled secrets and could potentially spill more.
posted by acb at 4:49 PM on June 9, 2013


acb: "Could he get safe passage to Iceland without crossing over international waters, where the US could and would intercept him (using kinetic force if necessary)?"

Guys, can we get our dystopian fantasies under control? The United States is not going to shoot a plane with this guy in it.
posted by gertzedek at 4:50 PM on June 9, 2013 [9 favorites]


The reason that U.S. citizens are left out of this conversation is because of the classified nature of everything.

Huh....my emphasis added with the bold text. When everything is classified, any notion of the government you think you have is probably wrong. This is called the Secrecy State.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 4:52 PM on June 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Guys, can we get out dystopian fantasies under control? The United States is not going to shoot a plane with this guy in it.

If he remains a clear and present danger to national security whilst alive and in possession of secrets, they might. Maybe not a 747 full of innocent civilians (that they'd force to land under escort at an allied airfield and take him off), but a Cessna/Learjet with just him and a pilot would be fair game.
posted by acb at 4:52 PM on June 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


Fischer was Fischer; this guy's a whole nother kettle of fish. While they wouldn't scramble jets to intercept a jet carrying a mildly embarrassing loose cannon chess master, this cannot be guaranteed for an intelligence officer who spilled secrets and could potentially spill more.

Totally agree. But the Icelandic public has a great deal of sympathy for whistle-blowers, and the dialogue right now is one of "sure, let him stay here". I honestly can't predict how this government will officially respond, but there has been a high level of vocal criticism across party lines when it comes to the surveillance reach of the US.

He'll be watched the entire time he's here, though, no doubt about it.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:55 PM on June 9, 2013


Could he get safe passage to Iceland without crossing over international waters, where the US could and would intercept him (using kinetic force if necessary)?

If he remains a clear and present danger to national security whilst alive and in possession of secrets, they might. Maybe not a 747 full of innocent civilians (that they'd force to land under escort at an allied airfield and take him off), but a Cessna/Learjet with just him and a pilot would be fair game.

Read less Tom Clancy.
posted by modernnomad at 4:59 PM on June 9, 2013 [23 favorites]


He'll be watched the entire time he's here, though, no doubt about it.

I can believe that; I'm just sceptical about whether he'd make it to Iceland. It's a long way from China, and a (no, the) hegemonic superpower has a hell of a vested interest in making sure that he doesn't.
posted by acb at 4:59 PM on June 9, 2013


I always wonder if these programs already have dirt on every single American politician. Remember they don't need to stand up in court. All they need is to find out the blackmail pressure points.

I think this is a pretty important point. This isn't only George Orwell's nightmare, it's J. Edgar Hoover's wet dream, too.
posted by feloniousmonk at 5:05 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


IF there were a private jet with him on it and IF it were crossing international waters and IF it were to vanish without a trace, I do not know anyone who would evince any kind of surprise.

So there will be no private jet.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:06 PM on June 9, 2013


One does not tempt the hand of god, i.e.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:07 PM on June 9, 2013


There's always stowing away on a tanker ship.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:08 PM on June 9, 2013


He could travel overland via China and Russia, but that would depend on both giving him safe passage (rather than, say, snatching and debriefing him). There is still the last mile of crossing the North Sea to Iceland; if the US or its allies know that he's aboard a flight or ferry, the game is up.

If he went from Russia to Norway (a NATO member), would Norway be obliged to hand him over to the US?
posted by acb at 5:09 PM on June 9, 2013


Alternatively, could Finland (a neutral state, between Russia and NATO) be a safe haven?
posted by acb at 5:10 PM on June 9, 2013


Guys, can we get our dystopian fantasies under control? The United States is not going to shoot a plane with this guy in it.

The same United States that overthrew the democratically elected leader of Iran? The same one that sold missiles to the Ayatollah? The United States that had has a network of secret prisons and torture centers throughout the world? Are you kidding? This United States will, without concern, cause massive civilian harm to advance what it thinks are in its own interest, and has proven so again and again. And saying this simple truth makes someone a nut? I think not.
posted by 1adam12 at 5:12 PM on June 9, 2013 [38 favorites]


I've never said this couldn't happen in the United States. But I do think that either there'd be signs that such things were happening, and that there's no reason to then reject these measures FOR THE PARTICULAR REASON of potential abuse, because there are other valid arguments to give. OR, even if it'd be possible that there wouldn't be any signs, we're talking about so remote of a possibility, that it's laughable to give as an argument because it's such a slippery slope or "the sky is falling" belief.

You seem like a nice young liberal, SollusQ, and you make an old cynic like me want to sing:

"In every American community there are varying shades of political opinion. One of the shadiest of these is the liberals. An outspoken group on many subjects, ten degrees to the left of center in good times, ten degrees to the right of center if it affects them personally. Here, then, is a lesson in safe logic."
I cheered when Humphrey was chosen
My faith in the system restored
And I'm glad that the commies were thrown out
From the AFL-CIO board
And I love Puerto Ricans and Negros
As long as they don't move next door
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal
Truly, a nice young man, and respectful of authority and our amazing American System of Checks and Balances™. And while others might fault your grasp of history, it's clear to me that that history is unimportant, because inevitably it's Tomorrow that matters, and inevitably (like Hooper in Brideshead) Tomorrow Belongs to You.
posted by orthogonality at 5:12 PM on June 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Finland has not been a neutral country since the end of the Cold War...

Matti Vanhanen, President-in-Office of the Council, Strasbourg, 2006: Mr Pflüger described Finland as neutral. I must correct him on that: Finland is a member of the EU. We were at one time a politically neutral country, during the time of the Iron Curtain. Now we are a member of the Union, part of this community of values, which has a common policy and, moreover, a common foreign policy.
posted by modernnomad at 5:16 PM on June 9, 2013


Yeah I hate to weigh in on this particular argument and trample the aspirations of a young liberal optimist, but *every*damn*time* I've harboured any kind of cynical doubt about the US's policies, the truth has been much, much worse.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:18 PM on June 9, 2013 [11 favorites]


A few commenters in the nytimes version wrote that a) Snowden is a textbook example of self-radicalization, and moreover has acted in violence and harm, and b) Snowden's actions are a hypocritical abuse of power and disregard of policy and/or law.

What I see, instead, is an example of independent thinking and leadership. It's strange and scary how the same piece of news can result in such divergent interpretations.
posted by polymodus at 5:22 PM on June 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


Has the US become the type of nation from which you have to seek asylum?
posted by homunculus at 5:23 PM on June 9, 2013 [11 favorites]


He knows that the biggest and most secretive surveillance organisation in America, the NSA

Heh.

And the enlisting into the Army with only a GED and then beginning training for Special Forces?

It works. Lots of recruits get "Go to SF school after boot" in their contracts, and end up washing out, dropping out, or getting too injured to continue. As the war in Iraq dragged on, we ended up "shaping" enlistment standards in order to recruit from "non-traditional" pools of people. At the same time, the SOF numbers jumped dramatically. If I had to hazard a guess, I'd say "breaking both legs" is the sort of career-ender that might happen at Airborne school on the way to becoming a Ranger.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 5:24 PM on June 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


Has the US become the type of nation from which you have to seek asylum?

Don't worry, if they dislike you enough then you'll be kept carefully off US territory in any case.
posted by jaduncan at 5:30 PM on June 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


The US also wanted Bobby Fischer - not just for the Spasky match, but also for tax evasion - and Iceland's conservative government granted him asylum.

I think this is a non-example. I'm pretty sure the US (and everyone pretty much) wanted him to go away so they didn't have to think about him ever again much more than they wanted to arrest him. In particular, I'm pretty sure the US didn't even try to retrieve him from Japan and was like "Iceland will give him a passport and make him not our problem? Sounds good."
posted by hoyland at 5:33 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm not surprised that we are surveilled extensively here in the USA. I think it is the misuse of the data that is most problematic. For example, the data may be used to build behavioral profiles that may be used to influence people to commit crimes or to act against their interests. A case in point is that of Theresa Squillacote.
I think that our world is a bit more conniving that what many of us think. I have begun listening to Sibel Edmonds on youtube and am astounded by what I hear from someone who appears to be quite credible and level headed.
posted by millardsarpy at 5:34 PM on June 9, 2013


Setting aside for a moment the fact that (at least) the phone records part of this week's news can only charitably be called legal by the most ham fisted interpretation of the law, "who cares if it can be abused" is just such a blindly weird reaction to government overreach that I honestly don't know how to respond to it.

You're mixing things up. "Who cares if it can be abused" isn't my reaction to what the government is doing - as if my response of "Who cares if it can be abused" is the response I give in order to display why I am not against what the government is doing. "Who cares if it can be abused" is my reaction to people who say we shouldn't have this capability because it can be abused.

I don't think it is weird in itself to say: Look, you think the government is doing wrong for reason (a) and (b), but I don't think (b) is a valid argument. (Unless I just came off as crazy for thinking (b) is invalid, irrelevant, or just not an argument worth holding on to. - And maybe I am crazy.)
posted by SollosQ at 5:37 PM on June 9, 2013


Guys, can we get our dystopian fantasies under control? The United States is not going to shoot a plane with this guy in it.

Even if they do, rest assured that the NYTimes will keep America safe by not reporting on it.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:40 PM on June 9, 2013 [13 favorites]


I think this is a non-example. I'm pretty sure the US (and everyone pretty much) wanted him to go away so they didn't have to think about him ever again much more than they wanted to arrest him. In particular, I'm pretty sure the US didn't even try to retrieve him from Japan and was like "Iceland will give him a passport and make him not our problem? Sounds good."

The IRS, at least, didn't share this opinion. Embassy folks I knew didn't give a shit, it's true. I think anyway that parliament's multipartisan stance on US foreign policy where surveillance is concerned is more significant. I don't think asylum is outside the realm of possibilities yet.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:41 PM on June 9, 2013


Q: But isn't there a need for surveillance to try to reduce the chances of terrorist attacks such as Boston?

A: "We have to decide why terrorism is a new threat. There has always been terrorism. Boston was a criminal act. It was not about surveillance but good, old-fashioned police work. The police are very good at what they do."


This. The Bush administration made the wrong call when on Sept. 12, 2001 they declared a "war" on terrorism. In wars, both sides have soldiers, and there are rules, even if they are often ignored. The soldiers of one side have respect for the soldiers on the other side, which they show, for example, by treating prisoners humanely. To declare war on terrorism means that we dignify the terrorists as soldiers, which they are not. They are simply criminals. Bin Laden was a criminal, and so was every accomplice he managed to enlist.

The Obama administration, while generally backing away from "war on terror" terminology, has nevertheless continued the same policies. What they should have done but didn't is to explicitly label terrorists as criminals and nothing but criminals, and to explicitly describe what they were doing as an international police action to capture or neutralize various identifiable gangs of criminals. They could have done that, and 99 percent of the governments around the world would happily have endorsed that cause and cooperated. Opportunity lost. (Suggested here in 2006.)

And now we see the consequences of the failure to distinguish between fighting a war and fighting crime. Because as long as you think in terms of wars and enemies, you will be willing to bend the principles of democracy. Some of our greatest presidents have yielded to this temptation. John Adams did it during the "Quasi War" with France by signing the Alien & Sedition Acts. Lincoln did it in the Civil War by suspending habeus corpus and declaring marial law, among other things. Wilson did in it WWI through over-zealous enforcement of the Espionage Act (jailing socialists simply for criticizing the government, for example). Roosevelt did it in World War II with "internment camps" for Japanese-Americans. Nixon (not among the above-mentioned greatest) did it during the Vietnam War through a wide variety of dirty tricks including the "enemies list" and the Watergate break-in.

So Obama's role in current data-mining operation has a long list of precedents — all of them justified, at the time, by wartime expediency. Taking "war" out of the equation, and focusing on simple pursuit of criminals, makes it a lot harder to justify. There has always been terrorism. There has always been crime. Terrorism is crime. Not war. Fight terrorism as you would crime. Do not dignify terrorists as soldiers.
posted by beagle at 5:42 PM on June 9, 2013 [60 favorites]


I have this terrible feeling that this is a guy who had access to a lot of documents, but not the context around them and construed them in the worst possible light. He's changed his life for the worse and perhaps for no good reason.
posted by nightwood at 5:43 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have this terrible feeling that this is a guy who had access to a lot of documents, but not the context around them and construed them in the worst possible light. He's changed his life for the worse and perhaps for no good reason.

I don't think context was a problem for him, given what he had access to.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:46 PM on June 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


I don't think it is weird in itself to say: Look, you think the government is doing wrong for reason (a) and (b), but I don't think (b) is a valid argument. (Unless I just came off as crazy for thinking (b) is invalid, irrelevant, or just not an argument worth holding on to.)

Checks and balances is not a new concept in US polity. The population is sacrificing a lot of political freedom by living in a panopticon, especially in a nation where law enforcement is increasingly paramilitary. There's a lot of risk and chilling effects combined with nebulous benefits, and oddly enough it is extremely rare that the intelligence community dials back the ratchet. Ben Franklin, yada yada.
posted by jaduncan at 5:46 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have this terrible feeling that this is a guy who had access to a lot of documents, but not the context around them and construed them in the worst possible light. He's changed his life for the worse and perhaps for no good reason.

He's probably made the US a safer place (in the long term) for Americans by shining a light on totalitarian practices. He has likely put his life at risk but he seems to think it was for good cause, and it is hard to disagree with him, frankly.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:47 PM on June 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


Sure, intelligence can be used to this end, but on what evidence do we have that the United States government is using it to this purpose?

Any such evidence is classified, and people who disclose it tend to end up in torture prisons.

We don't have a secret police, a la Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union, whereby intelligence is used in this manner.

The FBI, CIA, NSA, Secret Service (SS), and DHS operating entirely in a classified / Top Secret regime are literally a secret police.
posted by dirigibleman at 5:53 PM on June 9, 2013 [10 favorites]


I was a kid when Soviet Refuseniks were in the news a lot, and I remember all the stories visitors told about life in the former Soviet Union: the feeling of being followed, the knowledge that phones were tapped, the constant fear that you were talking to a government informer. One of the things visitors kept coming back to was that each floor of their hotel had someone sitting at a desk so the government could track who was coming and going and who they were talking to. This was considered an astounding level of government surveillance, one which could only be explained by extreme paranoia on the part of the Soviet government..

My kids will not be able to understand this story. Of course the government knows who you talk to, not just in hotels but everywhere. Of course they record it. It's not paranoid for them to want to do this: it's in our interests. Besides, it's perfectly legal. What was the point of your story, Dad?
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:59 PM on June 9, 2013 [53 favorites]


I guess I don't see any proof of totalitarian practices so far in any of this. If you don't think the US should under any circumstances be able to trace or monitor the communication of foreign nationals (in or outside the US), then you've had a beef with the government for many years. If the gov't has the ability to intercept communication of foreign nationals, then they have the capability to intercept communication of US citizens. The danger of abuse is always there and we need to trust our elected representatives in two branches of gov't and the appointed members in the third to ensure abuse does not occur or is stopped and punished when it does occur.

All I've seen so far is the technical capability of abuse exists, and frankly, I've always assumed it was there.

I would be much more worried if someone showed evidence of widespread, deliberate abuse. But unless I've missed it, there isn't anything yet.
posted by nightwood at 6:00 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


The FBI, CIA, NSA, Secret Service (SS), and DHS operating entirely in a classified / Top Secret regime are literally a secret police.

Which is it? Are they literally the Gestapo? Or are they literally just meeting some broad definition of being an agency "empowered by the state" to render some services, and that most of their services are of a classified nature for obvious reasons?
posted by SollosQ at 6:02 PM on June 9, 2013


Having just turned 30, damn... major props to this individual.
posted by odinsdream at 6:02 PM on June 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Not sure why anyone would give these agencies the benefit of the doubt, given what we know about them.
posted by smackfu at 6:05 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Are they literally the Gestapo?

Godwin aside, they are literally people who sweep people of interest away from foreign countries and torture them/drop them off to co-operative agencies who torture before imprisoning them without charge. Well, when people aren't just being executed without trial by drones.
posted by jaduncan at 6:05 PM on June 9, 2013 [20 favorites]


DEFEND THE CONSTITUTION. That is primary job of the President. Nothing else.

So you were complaining just as loudly when Bush suspended habeus corpus? posted by benito.strauss at 1:56 PM on June 9


So even if they weren't aware of this or on the same page as they are now, this is justifiable how? Can we stop with the "Bush did it first" justification of all thing heinous?
posted by cuomofied at 6:07 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


The danger of abuse is always there and we need to trust our elected representatives in two branches of gov't and the appointed members in the third to ensure abuse does not occur or is stopped and punished when it does occur.

Trust? In a transparent system trust is not needed. In a system where more and more things are done in secret, trust will get you nowhere, or worse.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 6:09 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Godwin aside, they are literally people who sweep people of interest away from foreign countries and torture them/drop them off to co-operative agencies who torture before imprisoning them without charge. Well, when people aren't just being executed without trial by drones.

Well, first: that's not what a secret police does, under any definition. Second, this isn't relevant to current events regarding privacy infringement and the NSA's collection of data, and the potential abuse that may occur in the future in which the infrastructure today is used to oppress and control U.S. citizens.

This is a wholly completely different topic.
posted by SollosQ at 6:11 PM on June 9, 2013


Not sure why anyone would give these agencies the benefit of the doubt, given what we know about them.
So far, everyone says they operate under the direction of the President, reviewed by Congress and the Judicial branch. But perhaps they are operating secretly without control or review by any branch of the government. Have they 'gone rogue'?
posted by nightwood at 6:11 PM on June 9, 2013


Last week we didn't have proof of extensive domestic spying. Just strong hints. We may not have proof of abuses, only a few pieces of evidence about a system that lends itself to abuse. I trust the evidence of actual abuse will be forthcoming over the next few years.
posted by wotsac at 6:12 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I guess I don't see any proof of totalitarian practices so far in any of this

Secret courts, secret laws, and warrantless eavesdropping seem like totalitarian practices, to me. Granted, I'm just a nobody, but that's just what I think.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:12 PM on June 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


totalitarian practices

There's a big difference between totalitarian practices in order to "protect the political power of an individual dictator or an authoritarian political regime," and totalitarian practices in order to protect the lives of U.S. citizens.

Again, you can give arguments about how these actions are illegal, unconstitutional, are infringements upon our privacy... but all this talk of "totalitarian" and "secret police" sounds like scare tactics.
posted by SollosQ at 6:14 PM on June 9, 2013


I'm pretty sure this guy is as fake as Lee Harvey Oswald. Completely fabricated out of pocket litter and carefully planted public documents by some Operation Sub-Group windowless tempest hardened facility somewhere. I believe the so called leak was crafted by an inter agency working group drawing on vast governmental resources and decades of psy ops experience gained from toppling governments on 9 continents.

The real question is why. What does a previously unknown working group operating at the highest echelon of secrecy gain from planting this clearly bogus story. What do they gain from making the the American people think they are being spied on. I think the answer is clear. Obama has gotten too close to the truth and their masters at bohemian grove are scared. The fix is in, we are through the looking glass people.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:16 PM on June 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


There's a big difference between totalitarian practices in order to "protect the political power of an individual dictator or an authoritarian political regime," and totalitarian practices in order to protect the lives of U.S. citizens.

Wow. Now there's the creed of the authoritarian.
posted by jaduncan at 6:16 PM on June 9, 2013 [36 favorites]


Second, this isn't relevant to current events regarding privacy infringement and the NSA's collection of data, and the potential abuse that may occur in the future in which the infrastructure today is used to oppress and control U.S. citizens.

Of course it's relevant. This is the mining, surveillance and collection of data for the purposes of searching for reasons to collect someone. That's what it's used for. It's not so the NSA can giggle at your clever Facebook statuses. Or not entirely anyway.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:16 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


totalitarian practices in order to protect the lives of U.S. citizens.

Wow, what?
posted by polymodus at 6:17 PM on June 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


Countdown to Swedish rape charges...
posted by Trochanter at 3:33 PM on June 9 [5 favorites +] [!]


Nah, my guess it'll involve Thai lady boys, with emphasis on boys
posted by MikeKD at 6:18 PM on June 9, 2013


Wow. Now there's the creed of the authoritarian.

Wow, what?

This is like the umpteenth time that people fail to read completely what I write. I'm not saying that these practices are correct. But everyone here is trying to draw an analogy between what the NSA is doing, and the Gestapo by talking about "secret police" and "totalitarian." There is no way on earth you can convince me that this is nothing more than the same scare tactics that I've seen Republicans use time and time again.

Unless of course calling me an authoritarian means that I support the government's right to regulate markets and tax people. Then yes, I am an authoritarian.
posted by SollosQ at 6:19 PM on June 9, 2013


Okay then, why are you engaging here?

P.S. don't edit your damn comments to add content.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:20 PM on June 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


totalitarian practices in order to protect the lives of U.S. citizens

I'd like to see evidence that what Obama is doing does more than eliminate civil rights and line the pockets of contractors and security lobbyists/consultants. So far, I'm not seeing much more than "trust us" rationalizations for policies that seem very much counter to non-secret Constitutional laws. Granted, the federal government could have rewritten the Constitution in a secret court, but again, that seems like another totalitarian practice.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:22 PM on June 9, 2013


But perhaps they are operating secretly without control or review by any branch of the government. Have they 'gone rogue'?

So, why don't you give me some specifics about what information has been provided to the FISA court and how they specifically ruled based on that information. When the entire apparatus operates in secret, there is no internal control or review. There is no check. You are forced to accept as an article of faith that the government is operating within the law. That is an untenable system.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 6:24 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


No, I read it all.

There's a big difference between totalitarian practices in order to "protect the political power of an individual dictator or an authoritarian political regime," and totalitarian practices in order to protect the lives of U.S. citizens.

Again, you can give arguments about how these actions are illegal, unconstitutional, are infringements upon our privacy... but all this talk of "totalitarian" and "secret police" sounds like scare tactics.

I've just read it again. The logic here indeed suggests that totalitarian practices are acceptable when used for national security, which is the logic and justification of every dictatorship ever.

Precisely which constitutional rights are OK to give up and which totalitarian practices are acceptable? That isn't a rhetorical question, I'm genuinely interested in your opinion and justification.
posted by jaduncan at 6:24 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


The logic here indeed suggests that totalitarian practices are acceptable when used for national security, which is the logic and justification of every dictatorship ever.

I suggest that totalitarian practices are acceptable when the constitution and legislative, judicial, and executive branches permit such totalitarian practices.

See: "Again, you can give arguments about how these actions are illegal, unconstitutional, are infringements upon our privacy."
posted by SollosQ at 6:25 PM on June 9, 2013


Has the Guardian released the documents that he leaked in full?

This whole thing is surreal, and I have to wonder how much of the framing of this issue is the result of Snowden's own views, which may turn out to be less than objective.

While I'm sure that there's some aspects of PRISM that are troubling and perhaps unconstitutional, I'm not sure that we're getting a clear view just yet.

His claimed biography and that Hong Kong story are just surreal. They could very well turn out to be totally legit, but I'm withholding judgme t for the time being.
posted by graphnerd at 6:26 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


We don't have a secret police, a la Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union, whereby intelligence is used in this manner.

Read up a little about the infiltration and framing of left-wing/environmentalist groups in recent years. Hell, probably right-wing groups, too to be honest.
posted by Jimbob at 6:26 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Granted, the federal government could have rewritten the Constitution in a secret court

That'd be a great Onion article right there. (Hopefully not one of those onion articles that comes true 3 years later)
posted by anonymisc at 6:26 PM on June 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


I suggest that totalitarian practices are acceptable when the constitution and legislative branches permit such totalitarian practices.

Which? All-pervasive surveillance? Torture? Imprisonment without charge? Police roadblocks? Restrictions on freedom of speech? Restrictions on freedom of travel? If so, why?
posted by jaduncan at 6:27 PM on June 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


Yeah, "this new, enormous brand of spying and data collection on U.S. citizens is what the government absolutely must have to fight terrorism" is at this point in desperate need of a citation.
posted by mediareport at 6:28 PM on June 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


Which? All-pervasive surveillance? Torture? Imprisonment without charge? Police roadblocks? Restrictions on freedom of speech? Restrictions on freedom of travel? If so, why?

I'm not a constitutional lawyer, but most if not all of them sound unconstitutional. So you wouldn't even have to ask if those are violating any laws.
posted by SollosQ at 6:29 PM on June 9, 2013


So, why don't you give me some specifics about what information has been provided to the FISA court and how they specifically ruled based on that information. When the entire apparatus operates in secret, there is no internal control or review. There is no check. You are forced to accept as an article of faith that the government is operating within the law. That is an untenable system.

I think then having a CIA or NSA or indeed FBI is untenable. But I agree that we can and should do what we can to make sure the oversight claimed is working but there will always be specifics that we can't be privy to.

In the end, though, if you think all three branches of government are colluding to subvert the Constitution, then we are way more screwed than having our emails and phone calls catalogued.
posted by nightwood at 6:29 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I suggest that totalitarian practices are acceptable when the constitution and legislative branches permit such totalitarian practices.

I suggest totalitarian practices are not acceptable no matter whatever yellowing sheet of paper implies to you they are.
posted by JHarris at 6:29 PM on June 9, 2013 [13 favorites]


But is taxing people a totalitarian practice? I don't know. I also don't care. I just know that it is supported by the constitution, our laws, our congress, and so forth.
posted by SollosQ at 6:30 PM on June 9, 2013


Greenwald has suggested that there is more coming.
posted by wotsac at 6:31 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


See: "Again, you can give arguments about how these actions are illegal, unconstitutional, are infringements upon our privacy."

I didn't originally see this sentence at all, as you are engaging in quite an impressive amount of post-comment editing. It's amusingly ironic, given the subject matter.
posted by jaduncan at 6:31 PM on June 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


I suggest totalitarian practices are not acceptable no matter whatever yellowing sheet of paper implies to you they are.

So you're an anarchist that doesn't believe in taxation or any other form of government intervention?
posted by SollosQ at 6:32 PM on June 9, 2013


I just know that it is supported by the constitution, our laws, our congress, and so forth.

Taxation may or may not be supported by the Constitution, but eavesdropping without a warrant does generally violate the Fourth Amendment, and taxation and illegal surveillance seem two entirely separate concepts, to me.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:34 PM on June 9, 2013


I like you guys and all but i'd trade a couple of you for not having some trainee reading all my "lol I totes love kittens 5eva ^-^" texts or spy on me watching #DiddyJetDance on Vimeo over and over. They must think I'm a weirdo.

The people I feel bad for are the conspiracy theorists. It's like, fuck I was right, Shit what do I talk about at parties now.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:35 PM on June 9, 2013 [11 favorites]


Taxation may or may not be supported by the Constitution, but eavesdropping without a warrant does generally violate the Fourth Amendment, and taxation and illegal surveillance seem two entirely separate concepts, to me.

You mean taxation and surveillance? Because saying "illegal surveillance" is sort of underhanded.

I've been saying all along that there may be laws being violated. I've said all along that "It's up to us to figure the length to which privacy has been infringed, laws have been violated, " (which would imply the constitution too)

I've never once said the government can do ANYTHING in the name of security. I've only been saying that calling these actions "totalitarian" or "secret police" is incredibly disgusting and a poor argument to give, when you can simply say: "I THINK THIS IS ILLEGAL."

If all you're saying is: "I THINK THIS IS ILLEGAL," then great. I don't have any arguments against what you're saying.
posted by SollosQ at 6:37 PM on June 9, 2013


But is taxing people a totalitarian practice?

That is some quite impressive level of disingenuous bullshit when you are comparing to a non-Humpty Dumpty definition of totalitarian.
posted by jaduncan at 6:39 PM on June 9, 2013 [10 favorites]


I've only been saying that calling these actions "totalitarian" or "secret police" is incredibly disgusting and a poor argument to give, when you can simply say: "I THINK THIS IS ILLEGAL."

If all you're saying is: "I THINK THIS IS ILLEGAL," then great. I don't have any arguments against what you're saying.


Can I ask why you make a distinction like this? The practices are both illegal and totalitarian. If it walks like a duck etc. Why does it bother you to have people call illegal search, surveillance and imprisonment "totalitarian" when this is exactly what it is?

Also, yeah, don't edit for content; edit for grammar only.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:39 PM on June 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


So you're an anarchist that doesn't believe in taxation or any other form of government intervention?

SollusQ, much as I admire your youthful ardor, and your rejection of any value in learning from history, please, please, you must observe certain forms!

There's a tradition here! You must start off with the correct American formula! First ask the enemy of the state: "Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Communist Party of the United States?"
posted by orthogonality at 6:39 PM on June 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


What an astonishing video. It's particularly clever to post this on a Sunday afternoon; it gives the Internet culture most of a day to digest and mythologize it before government forces can use traditional media to give their response.

What's the CIA's standard operating practice for such cases? The KGB/FSB would send assassins, typically using poisons (as in the case of Markov or Litvinenko), whereas the Mossad would send a squad to capture him alive.

Scary question. I think they'll try to discredit him. Disparage his character, drop hints about how he's mentally unstable or has abused his puppy or has a drug problem or needs money. Maybe try to defuse his appearance of intelligence, "leak" some documents showing he was an underperformer in his job or the like. Because right now, watching this video, he looks like a true hero, a patriot, a smart and moral man. They will discredit him.

I'm quite uncomfortable with the idea that Hong Kong is his safe haven. I don't see any reason the Chinese wouldn't hand him right over, maybe after a little private debrief session. China is the last country to find it problematic that the government would be spying on its own citizens.
posted by Nelson at 6:40 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


That is some quite impressive level of disingenuous bullshit when you are comparing to a non-Humpty Dumpty definition of totalitarian.

Can I ask why you make a distinction like this? The practices are both illegal and totalitarian.

I'm merely trying to indicate that calling a practice "totalitarian" is completely meaningless. Is an act totalitarian because it is illegal? Can it be totalitarian when it's not illegal? What makes something totalitarian? How is taxation not totalitarian? How is market regulation not totalitarian. Can something be totalitarian and not illegal?

I don't know, and it doesn't seem particularly helpful. Why don't we instead and stick with concrete things like saying whether or not the government has the legal authority to do x, y, or z?
posted by SollosQ at 6:42 PM on June 9, 2013


I would be much more worried if someone showed evidence of widespread, deliberate abuse. But unless I've missed it, there isn't anything yet.

EFF: National Security Letters
Of all the dangerous government surveillance powers that were expanded by the USA PATRIOT Act the National Security Letter (NSL) power under 18 U.S.C. § 2709 as expanded by PATRIOT Section 505 is one of the most frightening and invasive. These letters served on communications service providers like phone companies and ISPs allow the FBI to secretly demand data about ordinary American citizens' private communications and Internet activity without any meaningful oversight or prior judicial review. Recipients of NSLs are subject to a gag order that forbids them from ever revealing the letters' existence to their coworkers to their friends or even to their family members much less the public.

The FBI's systemic abuse of this power has been documented both by a Department Of Justice investigation and in documents obtained by EFF through a Freedom of Information Act request.

[...]

In 2007 EFF filed Freedom of Information Act litigation seeking documentation of National Security Letter misuse by the FBI. Thousands of pages of documents were released over a period of four years leading to repeated revealations of government abuses of power. An EFF report based on these documents led to tough questions for the FBI before Congress. The documents also helped prompt the Senate Judiciary Committee to investigate whether Attorney General Alberto Gonzales lied to Congress. (emphasis mine)
posted by Room 641-A at 6:43 PM on June 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


I'm merely trying to indicate that calling a practice "totalitarian" is completely meaningless.

It's not at all meaningless when an ostensibly democratic country is engaging in totalitarian practices. It is calling the thing what it is.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:43 PM on June 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


Why don't we instead and stick with concrete things like saying whether or not the government has the legal authority to do x, y, or z?

Why do we criticise torture in jurisdictions where torture is legal?
posted by jaduncan at 6:44 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


You mean taxation and surveillance? Because saying "illegal surveillance" is sort of underhanded.

I prefer to say illegal surveillance, since the non-secret laws are quite clear on this. But I do grant that a secret court ruling on secret laws may make a secret determination that what is formerly illegal is now legal. In any case, none of this has to do with taxation, at all. It's quite curious that you think this connection is meaningful.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:44 PM on June 9, 2013


It's obvious that we don't need the FBI, CIA and NSA to be engaging in unconstitutional monitoring of our every action. After all, we have Google for that.
posted by happyroach at 6:45 PM on June 9, 2013


But is taxing people a totalitarian practice?

Only if the revenue is spent on bike hire stations.
posted by acb at 6:46 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


"There's a tradition here! You must start off with the correct American formula! First ask the enemy of the state: "Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Communist Party of the United States?"

It's funny, because I've donated to the Socialist Labor Party of America before.
posted by SollosQ at 6:47 PM on June 9, 2013


I'm really hoping Snowden is already in Iceland, where he's been offered help in seeking asylum. Otherwise the story of how he's going to get from Hong Kong to anywhere is going to be an interesting story, if not Ben Affleck's next screenplay.

Also hoping he was never really in HK to begin with and it was a decoy.
posted by JoeZydeco at 6:47 PM on June 9, 2013


I've only been saying that calling these actions "totalitarian" or "secret police" is incredibly disgusting and a poor argument to give, when you can simply say: "I THINK THIS IS ILLEGAL."

Maybe you need to unpack and reflect on that, because it isn't enough to "simply" state one's opinion. Comparisons to historical regimes (including fictional ones such as George Orwell's) are part of trying to explain why, for some of us here.

Why don't we instead and stick with concrete things like saying whether or not the government has the legal authority to do x, y, or z?

Because humans aren't law robots.
posted by polymodus at 6:47 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


SollusQ: I suggest that totalitarian practices are acceptable when the constitution and legislative, judicial, and executive branches permit such totalitarian practices.


“Muriel,” she said, “read me the Fourth Commandment. Does it not say something about never sleeping in a bed?”

With some difficulty Muriel spelt it out.

“It says, ‘No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets,”’ she announced finally.

Curiously enough, Clover had not remembered that the Fourth Commandment mentioned sheets; but as it was there on the wall, it must have done so. And Squealer, who happened to be passing at this moment, attended by two or three dogs, was able to put the whole matter in its proper perspective.

“You have heard then, comrades,” he said, “that we pigs now sleep in the beds of the farmhouse? And why not? You did not suppose, surely, that there was ever a ruling against beds? A bed merely means a place to sleep in. A pile of straw in a stall is a bed, properly regarded. The rule was against sheets, which are a human invention. We have removed the sheets from the farmhouse beds, and sleep between blankets. And very comfortable beds they are too! But not more comfortable than we need, I can tell you, comrades, with all the brainwork we have to do nowadays. You would not rob us of our repose, would you, comrades? You would not have us too tired to carry out our duties? Surely none of you wishes to see Jones back?”

The animals reassured him on this point immediately, and no more was said about the pigs sleeping in the farmhouse beds. And when, some days afterwards, it was announced that from now on the pigs would get up an hour later in the mornings than the other animals, no complaint was made about that either.
posted by orthogonality at 6:51 PM on June 9, 2013 [23 favorites]


Also hoping he was never really in HK to begin with and it was a decoy.

I've seen a couple of people suggest this and it doesn't make sense to me--surely of all people he would know that he can't decoy the US security agencies. He's not Jason Bourne.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:54 PM on June 9, 2013


Why don't we instead and stick with concrete things like saying whether or not the government has the legal authority to do x, y, or z?

Why do we criticise torture in jurisdictions where torture is legal?


I will reword this to be utterly clear. Do you disagree with the view that something can be an infringement of human rights even when not covered by the legal rights granted by the local jurisdiction? For an example, I'll offer you the example of someone shot by a private military contractor without cause in a legal jurisdiction that has exempted those contractors from law (protip: this happened a lot under the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq).
posted by jaduncan at 6:56 PM on June 9, 2013


White House Petition: Pardon Edward Snowden

A signatory to that petition might have cause to worry about which side of the surveillance state see-saw will land first. That makes signing it a civic act with consequences (possibly) beyond inconvenience or boredom, a concept unfamiliar to my circumstance.

Almost didn't have the balls to do it.
posted by troll at 6:59 PM on June 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


There is no way on earth you can convince me that this is nothing more than the same scare tactics that I've seen Republicans use time and time again.

If you cannot be convinced by any means then you are not arguing in good faith.

So you're an anarchist that doesn't believe in taxation or any other form of government intervention?

No. Instead, I lost the context of the statement as the length of the thread ballooned out of control.
posted by JHarris at 7:02 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?" — George H. W. Bush, Florence, South Carolina, January 11, 2000

That makes signing [a petition] it a civic act with consequences (possibly) beyond inconvenience or boredom, a concept unfamiliar to my circumstance. Almost didn't have the balls to do it.

"As yesterday's positive report card shows, childrens do learn when standards are high and results are measured." — President George H. W. Bush, on the No Child Left Behind Act, Washington, D.C., September 26, 2007 (emphasis added)
posted by orthogonality at 7:05 PM on June 9, 2013


Has someone here claimed yet that he's doing this for publicity or self-aggrandizement? I know it's coming eventually, just want to see if it's happened yet.
posted by JHarris at 7:07 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I said: "Why don't we instead and stick with concrete things like saying whether or not the government has the legal authority to do x, y, or z?"

I didn't say legality was the only measure we had. If you haven't noticed, no one has told me what it means for something to be authoritarian or totalitarian. Wikipedia gives me a definition of a "secret police" as operating, "to protect the political power of an individual dictator or an authoritarian political regime." This is a working definition I've been going off of as for what a totalitarian or authoritarian act is.

I don't see the difference between taxation and surveillance on this consideration, because neither, in and of itself, is done for the purpose of protecting Obama's Dictatorship.

However, there are other considerations. The constitution for one, what forms of surveillance does it permit? There are ethics for another consideration. There is also democratic concerns, what are the opinions of the American people?

We can have these discussions, and quite fruitful ones without having to resort to these empty characterizations. Like I've said before, I am only unconditionally against certain forms of argument, such as arguments which make analogy to the Gestapo and other secret police because I don't find these substantive at all.

I know absolutely nothing about law, so I don't know if these actions are legal or not. Partly because empirically, I don't even know what actions are being considered any more since different sources are saying different things. But if you want to say that certain actions are illegal, then that's perfectly fine. If you want to say that certain actions violate expectations we have for privacy, then that's perfectly fine.

Personally? I'm largely okay with what's going on so far. Excepting a few Congressmen, members of Congress and the other branches of government seem okay with it. I was watching PBS NewsHour recently, and apparently a poll said a little above 60% of Americans were okay with this reveal. I personally know a lot of individuals in the NSA and CIA, and they are by far, some of the most idealistic people I have met in my life.

But you know what? I know that many other people feel incredibly violated by this news reveal. I can't understand those feelings of violation for whatever reason, but that's okay. This is a democratic society. I'd like for us to discuss the balance between security and privacy, and to discuss the legality of these things. I just don't feel there's any substantive reason for slippery slope arguments, or meaningless predication.
posted by SollosQ at 7:07 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think then having a CIA or NSA or indeed FBI is untenable. But I agree that we can and should do what we can to make sure the oversight claimed is working but there will always be specifics that we can't be privy to.


I guess what Greenwald has been arguing for years is that the level of secrecy has reached a point where it is now impossible to oversee or check the actions of this apparatus. Hence the whistleblowers. FISA is operated in secret through the Justice Department. The Senate Intelligence Committee operates within Congress, and then we have the POTUS. All of these parts must have approved of these new surveillance programs. There is a distinction that could be made, I think, between informing the citizens in broad strokes about what kind of surveillance programs exist so we can check their constitutionality, and keeping secret the specific information collected by such a program. But what the government is telling us is that we should not even be privy to the broad strokes. If that is the case, we only have trust and faith and I just don't see how that can work.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 7:07 PM on June 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


"Our Surveillance Society: What Orwell And Kafka Might Say", from npr.
posted by polymodus at 7:08 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was listening to NPR this morning for the first time in a few weeks and their spin blew me away. Their main point seemed the government is outraged at this criminal leak and they are going to bust this sucker. Go government! Get those bad guys!

It was Kafkaesque.
posted by bukvich at 7:08 PM on June 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


A signatory to that petition might have cause to worry about which side of the surveillance state see-saw will land first. That makes signing it a civic act with consequences (possibly) beyond inconvenience or boredom, a concept unfamiliar to my circumstance.

Almost didn't have the balls to do it.


This is a good example of trending toward hysteria, I think.

Do you actually think that there is even the smallest measurable chance that signing a White House petition to pardon Edward Snowden will lead to some sort of adverse consequence from the US government? Or is this just an opportunity to ratchet up the rhetoric around this issue?
posted by eugenen at 7:09 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was listening to NPR this morning for the first time in a few weeks and their spin blew me away. Their main point seemed the government is outraged at this criminal leak and they are going to bust this sucker. Go government! Get those bad guys!

This is really the last straw for me with NPR. I'll just commute in silence until I can find suitable podcast replacements.
posted by odinsdream at 7:15 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


If you haven't noticed, no one has told me what it means for something to be authoritarian or totalitarian.

You are being deliberately obtuse.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:19 PM on June 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


I was listening to NPR this morning for the first time in a few weeks and their spin blew me away.

NPR is pretty useless on these matters and I don't trust Dina Temple-Raston anymore because of her posture during this dust up with Greenwald.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 7:20 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I feel that the NSA, Homeland Security, and other agencies put in charge of keeping us "safe" are likely not trying to become tyrannical. They're following the directives and ideas they've been given. They have built amongst themselves a culture that frames the idea of national security as being based on information (and rightfully so, information and security go hand in hand). I'm sure most employees working for these agencies honestly feel what they're doing is in the nation's best interest (except people like Snowden of course, who found the larger scope of what he saw very unsettling). The problem is that so many in the NSA do not realize that they are losing sight of what they're protecting. It's not just people's lives or the health of our economy, which is what the argument has boiled down to. It's rather about the principles, ethics, and centuries of philosophy that defined this country in the first place. By sacrificing those ideals just to get a better hand at immediate security threats, they have inadvertently set out to define what those lives are and what they mean, rather than giving us, the people, the opportunity to define ourselves. That's what's scary about all of this to me. We may have ended up safer....but have become much less free to make mistakes, learn from them, and redefine ourselves. At its worst, we're becoming the kind of nation our forefathers once stood against.

I think that we're in this helpless predicament as common civilians in so many areas not because there are inherently evil individuals pulling the strings at trying to enslave us, but because the idea is ingrained in the minds of these kinds of powerful organizations that they are genuinely being helpful, and that there is no limits on finding shortcuts to increased productivity...the idea of expedited success outweighs the ultimate reality of its consequences....and our laws and prosecutorial powers are not strong enough to hold them back, or even accountable when those ideas start violating the constitution, harming people or the environment. We've created organizations and corporations (let's face it now, corporations have become government) that are too big to fail, to important to fail, and too protected to jail. That mindset is happening on so many levels within this nation, not just the NSA, and in so many areas, it is up us to pressure congress like we've never pressured them before to stop it..including the shady deals within congress itself...insider stock trading, accepting gifts, decommission of the ethics committee. Snowden can yell all he wants into the crowd and tell us the emperor has no clothes, but it does no good for any of us if we ignore him and start pretending nothing is wrong again in fear of upsetting the status quo.

Can you imagine what would happen if he had terminated some secret spying program and then some significant terrorism event occurred? There's no doubt in my mind that someone in Congress would have squawked and impeachment could even be a possibility.


Politicians will always find an angle that helps them complain about ideas or people they oppose or don't like. Take the old fable about the miller, his son, and the donkey for example, which is pretty much summed up in this cartoon. Criticizing and finding fault in one's actions or inactions is easy to do, as you can find fault in *anything* given the right narrative for context, even if it means making something up that is hard to defend against.

Frustrating isn't it? The political problem here is there's no ideal answer for the politician who is focused on the success of their career. The national problem is there seems to be no absolute answer than ensures the safety of Americans, while preserving freedoms. Even with all of these intelligence gathering practices, we still see domestic terrorism every day in the form of lunatics with a chip on their shoulder and a gun in their hands. We've lost the equivalent of several 9/11's to this kind of insanity, with not much to show for it as it hasn't perceivably affected our economy or "big business" in such a way to get our government's resources re-allocated to address it. We just pay their salaries, that's all we're good for right?

Decentralized and loosely audited leadership within this country along with agencies and individuals that have found ways to exempt themselves from constitutional law have brought us to where we are today...moreso the interpretation of our country's founding principles by various organizations including, but not limited to, the POTUS himself. Obama is not ultimately to blame here, but does play a vital role that could help further provide context and direction on this discussion in ways the average you and I cannot...which is disconcerting given the fact we should be able to then *also* vote on these things, as "misguided" and uninformed as we currently are. But I don't think we're directly in danger of tyranny. The moment we are complacent is the moment we've lost this country...and honestly I still feel we're a long ways off, but are also set behind considerably and have a lot of work to do. Declassifying NSA's operations (not content) may be a good place to start. Next up, the out-right scam surrounding Monsanto. Perhaps Congress and their shady practices need to be focused on as well. Be relentless folks, it's still our country.
posted by samsara at 7:23 PM on June 9, 2013 [10 favorites]



Do you actually think that there is even the smallest measurable chance that signing a White House petition to pardon Edward Snowden will lead to some sort of adverse consequence from the US government? Or is this just an opportunity to ratchet up the rhetoric around this issue?


Government employees and contractors were told that accessing the Wikileaks website or even merely reading news articles about the Bradley Manning's leaks could be sufficient grounds to revoke their security clearances, which would effectively lead to their being fired for cause

The reason Snowden was making $200,000 at age 29 isn't because he's a computer genius. It's because the same job, but with clearances, commands an extra 40% to 200% in salary.

Or perhaps you saw the recent articles about the IRS investigating people for ideological reasons?

Or have you noticed how ACORN is no longer in business, and all its employees sacked, because of politics?

So yes, I can definitely see rational people being wary of signing that petition.

Do you actually think that there is even the smallest measurable chance that you're being willfully obtuse?
posted by orthogonality at 7:23 PM on June 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


You are being deliberately obtuse.

Thanks for your input. I tried to explain where I was coming from in how I was understanding what it means for something to be authoritarian, and how I don't think surveillance is necessarily authoritarian anymore than taxation is. I tried to explain because I'm assuming people will still disagree and will perhaps give me a way to understand what it means for the two to be different, or even more hopefully, agree that maybe saying that x or y is authoritarian isn't a very helpful predication.
posted by SollosQ at 7:28 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Government employees and contractors were told that accessing the Wikileaks website or even merely reading news articles about the Bradley Manning's leaks could be sufficient grounds to revoke their security clearances, which would effectively lead to their being fired for cause

If I recall correctly, that was actually an issue here and people asked for a Wikileaks warning (like NSFW) so they wouldn't be blindly clicking on verboten material.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:31 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't think surveillance is necessarily authoritarian anymore than taxation is.

Since you're apparently serious, here:

Tax laws are written transparently by elected representatives, and can be changed through the democratic process.

NSA officials warrantlessly trawling through your online communications is neither transparent, nor conducted by elected officials, and operates outside of the realm of the democratic process.

There is a big, big difference here that you're either ignoring for the sake of pushing this wide-eyed "but what's the big deal guys?" argument or you're oversimplifying things to such a degree that you can't see how very dissimilar these two things are.

We have guaranteed rights in place because they are necessary to a healthy, democratic society. Violating those rights damages democracy, and is totalitarian.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:33 PM on June 9, 2013 [28 favorites]


Do you actually think that there is even the smallest measurable chance that signing a White House petition to pardon Edward Snowden will lead to some sort of adverse consequence from the US government?

In the immediate term my concern is being placed at a higher priority for surveillance in their algorithm because my name intersects with the petition, and the petition is in support of the greatest subversive of the greatest spy agency in the history of the world. If not for spite, why not just because that's what they do.

We've already seen that your political stance can lead to selective enforcement.
posted by troll at 7:34 PM on June 9, 2013


You won't convince me that a decision to possibly revoke a security clearance because of indications that somebody supports mass leakage of classified info is some giant slippery slope that means anyone might be targeted at any moment.

The IRS thing is a trumped-up bureaucratic snafu, and don't make me laugh about ACORN, which was defunded legislatively.

So no, I don't think I'm being willfully obtuse in suggesting that no one is going to go after you for signing an online petition. And this sort of paranoid nonsense just gives ammo to supporters of these hugely problematic surveillance schemes.
posted by eugenen at 7:34 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


[Folks, please don't make the entire thread about sollosQ's position. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 7:35 PM on June 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


Could somebody clear up something for me? When Obama spoke about these leaks the other day I thought I heard him say that these programs were only collecting metadata for non-US citizens overseas.....nothing was going on within the US. But then Greenwald reports that the NSA has been collecting phone records of millions of Verizon customers every day. Did I not hear Obama correctly???
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 7:43 PM on June 9, 2013


I didn't say legality was the only measure we had. If you haven't noticed, no one has told me what it means for something to be authoritarian or totalitarian.

OK, I'll have a shot at this. It is authoritarian when the state does something that infringes the freedoms of all to prevent against a comparatively small threat. An example of this would be the action of surveilling all communication to protect against comparatively small risks such as terrorism. The infringements of human rights are not proportionate to the risk, even if we don't take the view of the constitution that some rights should never be infringed. I'll also note that the state secret doctrine means it is now very hard to get the judicial system to even comment on intelligence matters.

Right now you are living in a state and time where emailing the wrong people can very easily get you on the no-fly list at the least, torture is admitted to have happened, and human rights are often infringed in detention of political dissidents (see Black Panthers detained in the 60s but still in solitary now, for example). The root issue is more the increasingly unchecked power of the executive in terrorism and law enforcement stuff in general. The US executive is becoming powerful at a much faster rate than the oversight and regulation designed to check the actions of that executive, and enforcement of law is easy against political protesters and hard against LEOs. Historically, comparatively unchecked executive powers have not led to good things, especially when combined with impunity for admitted past offences.

Given that, it seems a poor idea to also give the state a huge amount of information to use against political opponents based only on a relatively low claimed threat.
posted by jaduncan at 7:43 PM on June 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


Thank you Marisa Stole the Precious Thing and jaduncan, both of these definitions have been helpful.
posted by SollosQ at 7:47 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


samsara has it exactly, exquisitely right. (Except maybe the Monsanto thing, rather a weird thing to end on, although I don't know what context he has in mind.)
posted by JHarris at 7:52 PM on June 9, 2013


A signatory to that petition might have cause to worry about which side of the surveillance state see-saw will land first. That makes signing it a civic act with consequences (possibly) beyond inconvenience or boredom, a concept unfamiliar to my circumstance.

How many people here have refrained from expressing their true views online, in fear of governmental retribution?
posted by anemone of the state at 7:52 PM on June 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


How many people here have refrained from expressing their true views online, in fear of governmental retribution?

I'm sure that people refrain from expressing their true views online all the time, because they might make them less employable. That could well include government retribution in the form of being passed over for a job.
posted by JHarris at 7:55 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


We have guaranteed rights in place because they are necessary to a healthy, democratic society.

Are you just too close to see your rights are far from guaranteed?


Snowden has done his future self an almighty disservice.
posted by de at 7:55 PM on June 9, 2013


Something that's been on my mind for the past few days is that, for all the calls for increased transparency (which I absolutely support), how do you even hit the balance of transparency and secrecy where you successfully alleviate the fears of government overreach but still preserve the necessary secrecy around sensitive security information? I mean, obviously there are clear steps we can and must take right now to get closer, but what does the ideal even look like? Because at the end of the day the system is either still policing itself, or we build a parallel system to police the first one, and then who's watching that one?
posted by jason_steakums at 7:55 PM on June 9, 2013


I'm sure that people refrain from expressing their true views online all the time, because they might make them less employable. That could well include government retribution in the form of being passed over for a job.

Indeed.
posted by dirigibleman at 7:59 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've confirred with my fellow Obama appologists and its been decided to go with Snowden is mentally unstable and not trustworthy. High school dropout makes $200,000 a year. Really? You don't think we can knock that one to peices. Claims he was living in Hawaii, where is the sun tan? Also says he voted for a third party presidential candidate; so he's easily put in the category of nutty weirdo.

See its easy. By Friday he'll be destroyed in the eyes of the public. The story will be how Glen Greenwald got duped.
posted by humanfont at 8:00 PM on June 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


No surveillance without representation, indeed. Is it too much to ask?
posted by spitbull at 8:01 PM on June 9, 2013


1. I am so afraid for this guy.

2. I've actually had a browser tab open for the last few days to a webcam of the beach in Hawaii, trying to destress in the midst of events at home and these revelations in the news. Of course Snowden would turn out to live there, with basically about as perfect a life as I can imagine: 29, girlfriend, house in Hawaii, working in IT, making $200,000 a year. That he chose to give all of that up really says something about his conviction.
posted by limeonaire at 8:03 PM on June 9, 2013 [11 favorites]


So you're an anarchist that doesn't believe in taxation or any other form of government intervention? ... I've only been saying that calling these actions "totalitarian" or "secret police" is incredibly disgusting ... I'm merely trying to indicate that calling a practice "totalitarian" is completely meaningless. -- SollosQ
Why don't you just stop talking, since you clearly have no point?

You're posting a huge portion of the comments in this thread over some completely idiotic semantic point. Okay, you think the word "totalitarian" has no meaning and thus we shouldn't use it. Obviously the word means something to most people and they're using it because they feel it communicates their ideas effectively. You're a weird outlier and no one cares about your personal idiosyncratic semantics.

Something can also be completely legal and also totalitarian. All of this stuff was deemed "legal" by the FISA court or the whitehouse's lawyers.

In cases like that, the law should be changed to make it less totalitarian-enabling. But that can't be done if no one knows it's happening.
posted by delmoi at 8:05 PM on June 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


how do you even hit the balance of transparency and secrecy

Quite a hard problem, but just go with the 80/20 rule, declassify 80%. It's probably more like 95 percent before we get to any information that would be a danger, but clearly most of that declassified material would be embarrassing.

Embarrassment: the real reason most stuff is classified.

Not going to happen as that embarrassment will go a long way towards vast numbers of formerly essential folks loosing their funding. Which is the number one reason for classifying, it's not to keep it secret from the Russians, Chinese, or even the average american, but to hide it from the majority of the members of Congress. (This is not my idea, it was pointed out to me by someone with a quite a significant clearance).
posted by sammyo at 8:08 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


“I think that’s a dangerous statement,” said Bob Taylor, a computer scientist who played a major role in the 1960s in formulating what would become the Internet. “The government should have told us it was doing this. And that suggests the more fundamental problem: that we’re not in control of our government.”
nytimes
posted by polymodus at 8:10 PM on June 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


JHarris: “This is not in line at all with my understanding of the manner, which indicates a far more profound kind of spying than has ever been done before, or in fact has even been possible since the internet is still relatively speaking a very new thing.”
Whistle-Blower's Evidence, Uncut, Wired Science, 22 May 2006
Plans for the "secret room" [In San Francisco the "secret room" is Room 641A at 611 Folsom Street] were fully drawn up by December 2002, curiously only four months after Darpa started awarding contracts for TIA. One 60-page document, identified as coming from "AT&T Labs Connectivity & Net Services" and authored by the labs' consultant Mathew F. Casamassima, is titled Study Group 3, LGX/Splitter Wiring, San Francisco and dated 12/10/02. This document addresses the special problem of trying to spy on fiber-optic circuits. Unlike copper wire circuits which emit electromagnetic fields that can be tapped into without disturbing the circuits, fiber-optic circuits do not "leak" their light signals. In order to monitor such communications, one has to physically cut into the fiber somehow and divert a portion of the light signal to see the information. [Emphasis Added]
posted by ob1quixote at 8:11 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Or maybe he'll be remembered for necessary passing healthcare reform that was killing and bankrupting millions of Americans through one of the most divisive Congresses in history?
Obamacare is not going to stop medical bankruptcy in the US. It's certainly an improvement but it's not going to 'solve the problem'. It will likely get replaced with something else (like Medicare for all) in the future
Obama's problem was in not curbing this expansion and keeping the practice relatively opaque. He chose to focus his attention on healthcare reform and renewable energy
Are you actually out of your mind? The first thing he did after health care passed was expand offshore drilling. During the campaign he criticized Romney for being insufficiently pro-coal. There has been some minor investment in renewable energy, but not nearly enough and hardly any attempts to curtail fossil fuel use at all. (We have seen some CO2 emission reduction, but a large part of that is switching from coal to natural gas.)

What he seems to have spent most of his time on after healthcare was "the deficit" and trying to cut social security for no reason, which is why we got the insane sequester, etc.
Hong Kong has an extradition agreement with the US, but it is firmly in China's sphere of influence. Such an extradition agreement would apply to embezzlers, drug traffickers and such, but may not be worth the paper it's written on for high-value intelligence targets.
Yeah, you think the extradition treaty, signed when HK was a part of the British empire is going worth the paper it's printed on for this guy? As far as the Chinese our concerned granting him asylum would be a PR and Intel bonanza. They'd get to claim that we're "just as bad" as them, get us back for helping that one dude, and of course lots of info about US Intel operations in China.

The US couldn't even get Roman Polanski when he traveled to a country with a US extradition treaty.
I completely understand why he went to Hong Kong. But if it was civil disobedience he was interested in going there was a grave mistake. It's going to be way too easy to paint this as some sort of Chinese influence.
That's not going to change the facts of the leak, though.
Totally agree. But the Icelandic public has a great deal of sympathy for whistle-blowers, and the dialogue right now is one of "sure, let him stay here". I honestly can't predict how this government will officially respond, but there has been a high level of vocal criticism across party lines when it comes to the surveillance reach of the US.

Honestly, depending on how the PRC feels, China would be much safer for him then Iceland. Iceland has only 300k people in the entire country. The US could easily fly in a couple helicopters, pick him up and leave. They wouldn't be able to protect him at all. If the PRC wants to turn him over for some reason, of course, then he's screwed.
The same United States that overthrew the democratically elected leader of Iran? The same one that sold missiles to the Ayatollah? The United States that had has a network of secret prisons and torture centers throughout the world? Are you kidding? This United States will, without concern, cause massive civilian harm to advance what it thinks are in its own interest, and has proven so again and again. And saying this simple truth makes someone a nut? I think not.
What would be the point of killing this guy now? If he were to travel to Iceland, the US government could simply wait for him to get there, then as I said fly in some helicopters and pick him up. What exactly is Iceland do about it, write an angry letter?
I'm sure that people refrain from expressing their true views online all the time, because they might make them less employable. That could well include government retribution in the form of being passed over for a job.
Sure, if they're using their real name. But there are lots of places online where you can post under any name you want. On reddit you don't even need an email to sign up, just pick a username and password and post. Without a surveillance state capable of finding out who's posting what there wouldn't be any worry about employability unless you drop some personal information.
posted by delmoi at 8:11 PM on June 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


what does the ideal even look like?

A transitioning from secret courts, secret laws, secret prison camps, secret renditions, secret legislators' meetings, secret budgets, appeals to secrecy to maintain secrecy — to ways to review and challenge all of this without secrecy.

Something like that may not be the perfect ideal, but I imagine it would be a decent start.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:12 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


That he chose to give all of that up really says something about his conviction.

Hey Time, this man deserves Man Of The Year, not some bullshit "You" or Zuckerberg or whatever.
posted by JHarris at 8:13 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Plans for the "secret room" [In San Francisco the "secret room" is Room 641A at 611 Folsom Street] were fully drawn up by December 2002

ARGH, again, context is being lost here. "Ever before" meant prior generations. Since 2002, yes, certainly. Since the 1960s? No.
posted by JHarris at 8:17 PM on June 9, 2013


Something that's been on my mind for the past few days is that, for all the calls for increased transparency (which I absolutely support), how do you even hit the balance of transparency and secrecy where you successfully alleviate the fears of government overreach but still preserve the necessary secrecy around sensitive security information?

"Good evening. Once again, I'd like to thank you, the American people, for the trust you've placed in your president and your government. Without further ado, here is your monthly update of current and pending prosecutions of people who have violated that trust by abusing and/or breaking the law."

That would be a start, anyway.
posted by Room 641-A at 8:18 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


polymodus: ““I think that’s a dangerous statement,” said Bob Taylor, a computer scientist who played a major role in the 1960s in formulating what would become the Internet. “The government should have told us it was doing this. And that suggests the more fundamental problem: that we’re not in control of our government.””
It's actually worse than that. As I said yesterday in the old thread, our government is no longer in control of our security apparatus.
posted by ob1quixote at 8:21 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Okay, you think the word "totalitarian" has no meaning and thus we shouldn't use it. Obviously the word means something to most people and they're using it because they feel it communicates their ideas effectively.

Well that remained to be seen until people actually told me what they meant by it. God only knows how many right-wingers have told me that taxation and Government enforced health care is so incredibly authoritarian. The only other lead I had was people telling me that this was literally the Gestapo, which last I heard was a big shtick of Glenn Beck's. Sorry for asking us to be specific and clear with our wording.
posted by SollosQ at 8:23 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well that remained to be seen until people actually told me what they meant by it. God only knows how many right-wingers have told me that taxation and Government enforced health care is so incredibly authoritarian.

The difference might be that people here actually use the concept correctly, while the conservatives aren't great critical thinkers in the first place.

I kid!
posted by polymodus at 8:27 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


A transitioning from secret courts, secret laws, secret prison camps, secret renditions, secret legislators' meetings, secret budgets, appeals to secrecy to maintain secrecy

Absolutely, this is the stuff that I think we can do right now.

to ways to review and challenge all of this without secrecy.

But this is the sticky part. At some point trust has to be placed in the people who draw the line between what can and cannot be kept a secret. I can't think of a way to really ensure that the trust isn't misplaced.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:27 PM on June 9, 2013


Yeah, you think the extradition treaty, signed when HK was a part of the British empire is going worth the paper it's printed on for this guy?

"Just before sovereignty over Hong Kong passed from Britain to China in 1997, the US signed a new extradition treaty with the semi-autonomous territory. Under that treaty, both parties agree to hand over fugitives from each other's criminal justice systems, but either side has the right of refusal in the case of political offences." Guardian
posted by Mister Bijou at 8:27 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


JHarris, thanks for the vote of confidence. I may have been watching too many documentaries on the subject. I mentioned it just to draw a correlation on the frustrations at congress for being unable/unwilling/not brave enough to step up and put the concerns of the people first in front of powerful organizations, whether they be government or enterprise. I might be finding common themes however where others are not though...The company itself and organizations like it are definitely a discussion for a different thread.
posted by samsara at 8:28 PM on June 9, 2013


JHarris: “ARGH, again, context is being lost here. "Ever before" meant prior generations. Since 2002, yes, certainly. Since the 1960s? No.”
Sorry, JHarris. I've been trying to fight a rear-guard action on how this isn't actually news all day. I must admit that I searched on "Mark Klein" and "Room 641A" and not finding anything other than our esteemed fellow MeFite linking to the EFF page on this matter, pasted in my go-to Wired link on the subject of secret wiretapping.

I think what's bothering everyone—well, Obama voters anyway—is that it was assumed that the worst of these practices, including the pants-shittingly terrifying Total Information Awareness program of the Information Awareness Office, had been somewhat curtailed under the current administration.
posted by ob1quixote at 8:32 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


The NYT article really illustrates a lot of the moral decay in silicon valley with companies doing all they can to collect personal data on people for private use, the worry of a lot of them seems to be that if it's getting into government hands people will be scared to give to them, without any consideration of the idea that maybe they shouldn't be getting their hands on it either
Even as the larger computer makers sold their systems to the government and start-ups of all sorts trafficked in personal information, the companies tried to keep clear of government rules that might cramp their vision ...

In 1999, Scott McNealy, the chief executive of Sun Microsystems, summed up the valley’s attitude toward personal data in what became a defining comment of the dot-com boom. “You have zero privacy,” he said. “Get over it.”

Mr. McNealy is not retracting that comment, not quite; but like Mr. Metcalfe he is more worried about potential government abuse than he used to be. “Should you be afraid if AT&T has your data? Google?” he asked. “They’re private entities. AT&T can’t hurt me. Jerry Brown and Barack Obama can.” An outspoken critic of the California state government, and Mr. Brown, the governor, Mr. McNealy said his taxes are audited every year.
Well that remained to be seen until people actually told me what they meant by it.
Even without the NSA, way too much personal information is being collected and used as a commodity.

Try a dictionary maybe? The definition is the government having complete control, particularly "socially, financially and politically".

A system like this would easily allow that to occur. With this system in place the government could monitor every business and easily interfere with ones it didn't like, it could easily monitor the formation of political movements and shut them down. It would know everything about everyone's social life. Certainly, they could chose not to do it, but that would be a choice they would have to actively make every day.

Like he said, the system is "turnkey totalitarianism". Once it's in place a government simply needs to "turn the key" to go from trying to control "terrorists" to anyone they don't like

(Oh, and of course every single person who doesn't live in the US apparently has no rights. Don't think this isn't being used for 'general' spying on whatever is going on overseas, most of the users of these services don't live in the US at all.)
posted by delmoi at 8:33 PM on June 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


But this is the sticky part. At some point trust has to be placed in the people who draw the line between what can and cannot be kept a secret. I can't think of a way to really ensure that the trust isn't misplaced.

There is no perfect result here. But I think it is fair for the broad parameters of proposed surveillance programs to be vetted publicly before congress while the specific data collected by publicly approved programs remain secret. The NSA might claim that even making the broad parameters public will compromise the program. Well, that is a risk we will have to take. What we can't have is broad surveillance programs proposed, approved, and deployed in secret. That is untenable because we would have to rely strictly on faith and trust that laws are not broken.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 8:38 PM on June 9, 2013


What's unbelievable is that there are still people driving about with Obama bumper stickers on.
posted by anemone of the state at 8:40 PM on June 9, 2013


I've met a lot of people who lived in the Soviet Union. And though this effect wasn't really a result from privacy infringement, they were much more mellow about such violations given how safe they (in this case, women) were. They could do something as simple as walk around at night without having to worry for their safety. I also have a family member who lived her whole life in Nazi Germany and has opinions on the matter of what it means to be safe or not, and the opinions she has about this matter aren't going to be what you want me to get from her

Of course. Life for loyalists, or those who can feign loyalism – when there's a difference between the two – is more or less fine no matter the government. It was fine under Ramses, it was fine under Cyrus the Great, it was fine under Nero and Caligula and Richard III and the Ancién Regime for as long as it lasted. It was fine under Saddam Hussein, as we learned in the last 10 years. I had a Spanish teacher who lived in Paraguay and was pro-Alfredo Stroessner for similar reasons. The price is loyalism and its maintenance, and that price comes in a number of forms and has been considered too high by modern societies for about a century and a half now.
posted by furiousthought at 8:44 PM on June 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


What's unbelievable is that there are still people driving about with Obama bumper stickers on.

Yeah, like me? I chose him over the alternative—twice—and I think I would make that choice again. Hell yes I want to see some change from him, and soon. But that sticker's been on my car for five years, and I'm not ready to remove it yet. Like anyone else who's had a problem with it over the years, you can just back off.

Since these revelations, seeing it just makes me think, every time I walk to my car, about what is happening. It's a reminder of the principles I believed in when he ran for office, and all the promises we need to hold him accountable for. I'm disgusted by the abuses perpetrated during his administration, and I'm angry at the betrayal of the trust I placed in him, but I'm not ready to give up yet. I chose him, and I'm not going to back down from that.

When someone like me, with the bumper sticker on my car, is disappointed in you, that should mean something. I hope it means something to him to know how he's let us down.
posted by limeonaire at 8:54 PM on June 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


Sorry, JHarris. I've been trying to fight a rear-guard action on how this isn't actually news all day.

Yeah, there's always That One Guy, and sometimes it's who you least expect. At least it isn't me this time!

What's unbelievable is that there are still people driving about with Obama bumper stickers on.

Politics is complicated, and there's lots of reasons to vote for, and even support, a president. And there's no reason to think either McCain or Romney would have curtailed this at all, at least not any more than Obama would. This is definitely Obama's worst thing however -- Ben Ghazi most people correctly identify as a manufactroversy, the IRS tax bias thing is bad but perhaps understandable, and according to Maddow isn't really new behavior for them under past administrations. But this, this is something both conservatives and liberals can justly get behind, and is actually a matter of dire import. I expect to see some strange bedfellows in the coming weeks.

Although... has anyone who keeps tabs on Fox News seen if they're actually attacking Obama on this? Because it'd be just like them to actually side with the President on this issue.
posted by JHarris at 8:59 PM on June 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


"Turnkey tyranny" was mentioned in an 1819 article in a political magazine in London.

No doubt a random coincidence, but a remarkable coincidence.

I write about it here. http://brianstorms.com/2013/06/snowden-and-turnkey-tyranny-a-reference-to-an-1819-political-article.html
posted by brianstorms at 8:59 PM on June 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


orthogonality -

Thank you for quoting Animal Farm earlier in this thread. It serves as a reminder for how these kinds of things evolve over time with tacit acceptance from the public.

Folks, if this whole episode has not yet opened your eyes to how government, "D" or "R" truly operates, then we really are a republic lost. Obama's greatest accomplishment was convincing people that he was going to be better than the other guy and better than the previous guy.

Nope - he's just another guy carrying on the same agenda. (Not so) secret tip: it's not the agenda that benefits you or me.
posted by tgrundke at 9:12 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Booz Allen Hamilton: Edward Snowden's US contracting firm
posted by Mister Bijou at 9:40 PM on June 9, 2013


JHarris: “Although... has anyone who keeps tabs on Fox News seen if they're actually attacking Obama on this? Because it'd be just like them to actually side with the President on this issue.”
On foxnews.com there are links to a couple of AP reports about this, including Is big data turning gov't into 'big brother'? They're mostly focused on Snowden it seems.

Over on nation.foxnews.com we find Limbaugh: 'We Are In The Midst Of A Coup'.
These guys from the tech firms like Greenwald and some of these others, are blaming Bush for all of this, still. Today! Still today, all of this is the fault of Bush. Bush is the guy that got this ball rolling. So there must be something to it if the left is circling the wagons around Obama and trying to make all of us think that all of this is the fault of George W. Bush. I just gotta tell you something, folks. Richard Nixon never even dreamed of this kind of stuff, and yet most people in this country think that Nixon did 10 times as bad as what's happening now.
I say give it another 36 hours. The noodles will be boiling in the pot by then.

tgrundke: “Folks, if this whole episode has not yet opened your eyes to how government, "D" or "R" truly operates, then we really are a republic lost. Obama's greatest accomplishment was convincing people that he was going to be better than the other guy and better than the previous guy.”
As I've said, I honestly think we could elect anybody you care to name and it wouldn't make two shits of a difference because elected officials are window dressing only at this point. It's even worse—or better depending on your point of view— than Maj. Gen. (then Lt. Col.) Dunlap imagined, q.v. The Origins of the American Military Coup of 2012 [PDF], Charles J. Dunlap Jr., Parameters, Winter 1992-1993
posted by ob1quixote at 10:02 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Brianstorms wrote: "Turnkey tyranny" was mentioned in an 1819 article in a political magazine in London.

A "turnkey" was once an official entrusted with the keys of a prison, someone who was on the very lowest rank of prison management. It then became a derogatory term for someone with enough officious power to make people's lives unpleasant, but not enough to earn them any respect. The article you link to uses it in its literal sense: Richard Carlile was imprisoned, which meant that even junior prison authorities (turnkeys) had absolute (tyrannical) authority over him.

I think Snowden meant to use the phrase in its modern meaning: a turnkey system is one that is supplied in such a state that it can be easily activated by someone without much experience. I suppose that this meaning comes from the old use of "turnkey" to mean "a junior official with very constrained power and authority", combined with the idea that a complex machine might be activated by simply turning a key. In consequence, "turnkey tyranny" is tyranny that may be imposed at any time using processes that have been established earlier.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:14 PM on June 9, 2013 [10 favorites]


I can't stop thinking about his girlfriend-- the one he kissed goodbye to a week or so ago, telling her that he would be gone for a little while. I can't imagine the level of shit she is now experiencing, as their house is torn apart and she is hauled in for questioning (I assume this is happening). And the rest of his family. He's ruined their lives, too.

He's still a braver individual than I could ever hope to be, I think.
posted by jokeefe at 10:17 PM on June 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


Honestly, specific elected officials aside, this all feels like the inevitable outcome when you've had an electorate that largely hasn't given two shits about this kind of thing in generations. The thought of the President or anyone else in power not being what they pretend to be isn't nearly as scary to me as an entire society not being what it pretends to be.
posted by jason_steakums at 10:20 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Apart from all the moral issues in surveilling people in this, I can't help thinking about how much all of this is bloody costing - can a government afford to keep this up? Of course, no one will probably ever know how much money is being diverted to stuff like this, at the expense of the poor, the sick, and other groups. It's revolting all round.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 10:35 PM on June 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


I feel that the NSA, Homeland Security, and other agencies put in charge of keeping us "safe" are likely not trying to become tyrannical. They're following the directives and ideas they've been given.

Truly, we were the HAL 9000 all along.
posted by Apocryphon at 11:09 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can't help thinking about how much all of this is bloody costing - can a government afford to keep this up?

I'm sure society can support this vast non-weath-producing (parasitic) class. We might see stagnation in real wages broadly across society, and a corresponding fall in standard of living for the majority, but when you're not part of that majority, it's probably pretty easy to believe you're fighting the good fight.
posted by anonymisc at 11:11 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Rep. Peter King calls for NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden to be extradited from Hong Kong
posted by Room 641-A at 11:50 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's a reminder of the principles I believed in when he ran for office, and all the promises we need to hold him accountable for

...by re-electing him?
posted by junco at 12:18 AM on June 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


“The NSA has filed a crimes report on this already," Clapper told NBC, referring to the leaks to The Guardian and The Washington Post.
posted by Room 641-A at 12:41 AM on June 10, 2013


Reading through this thread there are several people who keep saying that the government can survey what they are saying. As I understand it, the details of this tap are who people are saying things to. Now obviously thats easily abusable too, but it is a difference in degree.

As I understand this, the main problem with this is that it wasn't entirely clear that the NSA had these powers available to them. David Simon wrote an article about this where his argument was that this is essentially a scaled up version of what the police do to investigate gangs in cities. The difference being here that A-scaling something up can make it much worse and B-The scrutiny available her is very not transparent.

I think the lack of oversight really does matter. We might agree that tools like this might be necessary to catch criminals (although we might not), but seeing as they can be abused it would behoove us to ensure that they are not.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 12:55 AM on June 10, 2013


The real story in the NSA scandal is the collapse of journalism, Ed Bott, ZD Net The Ed Bott Report, 08 June 2013
A bombshell story published in the Washington Post this week alleged that the NSA had enlisted nine tech giants, including Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and Apple, in a massive program of online spying. Now the story is unraveling, and the Post has quietly changed key details. What went wrong?
posted by ob1quixote at 1:17 AM on June 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


...by re-electing him?

What was the alternative, bunky?
posted by JHarris at 2:34 AM on June 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


sure, as long as you're not gay, black, poor, or a woman.

Right, because then the government won't bother spying on you.
posted by spitbull at 3:06 AM on June 10, 2013



sure, as long as you're not gay, black, poor, or a woman.

Right, because then the government won't bother spying on you.


Unless you're a furriner, of course, then none of the above apply.
posted by infini at 3:12 AM on June 10, 2013


.
posted by Renoroc at 3:19 AM on June 10, 2013


I also have a family member who lived her whole life in Nazi Germany

Wait, how does this work? Did she live her whole life there between 1933 and 1945 and you commune with her from beyond the grave? Or has Germany been Nazi for her ever since the Reichstag fire? Or has she not considered anything since 1945 to be living?

Kind of makes you wonder about the claims to know victims of Soviet oppression who were (or are now) nonchalant about that. For various reasons, I too have known people who were oppressed under the Soviets and fled the USSR. They do not speak warmly of women being safe in the streets. They speak in terrified terms about the power of the secret police and the surveillance state.
posted by spitbull at 3:20 AM on June 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


I guess he had it planned for a while: Hawaii real estate agent: Snowden left on May 1
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:24 AM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Good for Snowden. Okay then, nice try. Maybe it's not too late.

Data mining by IT geeks. yippee. Just jump from bubble to bubble, pick up a bucket of money here, a bucket there. What could go wrong? Here, let me forward you these cute cat pictures, along with all the email headers of the last nine contacts who got a look at them. Somewhere in there is Kevin Bacon's email addy. And, yeah, here's my contact list, my friend list. Whoopie. Now I can email my friend in Japan and show him my photo album. I will teach the world to sing, in perfect harmony....no, that was Coke, and the revolution died with Jimi. Shit, that Hearts and Minds thing fell apart quick, eh? Pressing on....Ah preemptive war, gunboat democracy, and we will get them bastards civilized and enlightened if we have to starve them all. Rambo, Arnie, and all those killing killing games...no, no, there's no relationship between violent video games and what happens in the real world. Okay, there are the drones, but that's sort of a coincidence, yeah?

Spying by the government. Ah jeez. I sure didn't see that coming. They know where I live and how much I spend and where and who's on my email list...(I'm not sure it's fair to assume the government is the entity that's in charge here). If you don't worry about the gun registration, what the fuck do you care about them knowing where you bought your shoes? The issue is control, as I see it, and it seems clear that the government isn't in control. We may be about to redefine the word "amok." In the meantime, a best-case-scenario would be if nobody is in charge. Otherwise it's some prick like Cheney, or Murdock. Or any of those unmentionable neo's that got voted out in the 90's.

So, okay, go Snowden. Go Anonymous. Now what? Please remember that power is seldom relinquished, it's wrested, often from cold, dead fingers.
posted by mule98J at 3:26 AM on June 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


Daniel Ellsberg weighs in - an interview on CNN
posted by madamjujujive at 3:46 AM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


And a written piece from Daniel Ellsberg in the guardian.

In my estimation, there has not been in American history a more important leak than Edward Snowden's release of NSA material – and that includes the Pentagon Papers, for which I was responsible 40 years ago.
posted by jonbro at 4:01 AM on June 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


In my estimation, there has not been in American history a more important leak than Edward Snowden's release of NSA material – and that includes the Pentagon Papers, for which I was responsible 40 years ago.

I'm sure there are plenty of posters ready to jump on me for this, but could Ellsberg possibly be more histrionic here? This looks really bad, and it could very well be the most important leak in history.

But it's been a matter of days, and we don't have anywhere near the full picture of what's going on, let alone anything approaching the remove needed to make statements of Historical Importance.

So far, we've seen a few (admittedly very damning) documents that have already been misinterpreted to some degree (see the ZDNet link above). We don't really know what the story is yet. And everything we know has come from sources (Greenwald, Snowden) that appear to be pretty ideologically motivated.

I'm absolutely not saying that these programs-if they are as presented-are a good idea or anywhere near acceptable. But I do think a lot of the reactions here are premature and the result of some pretty heavy confirmation bias.
posted by graphnerd at 4:53 AM on June 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


In 2009 Josh Levin outlined 5 steps for Totalitarian Rule.
I think you have got there now.
posted by adamvasco at 5:30 AM on June 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Rep. Peter King calls for NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden to be extradited from Hong Kong

Not sure why an infamous IRA apologist like King gets to comment on national security.
posted by Jimbob at 5:32 AM on June 10, 2013 [9 favorites]


Schneier 10 june. (Government Secrets and the Need for Whistle-blowers)
posted by bukvich at 5:48 AM on June 10, 2013


>I'm absolutely not saying that these programs-if they are as presented-are a good idea or anywhere near acceptable. But I do think a lot of the reactions here are premature and the result of some pretty heavy confirmation bias.

If you look at the comments on various other news and news aggregator sites, you'll find plenty of people baying for his blood, prosecution or merely denouncing his actions. These people are doing so with equally limited knowledge.

Me? I think I can be unequivocal in my thinking that it's a massive leak. Because I'm Australian, not a US citizen... and to watch my on-line American friends work themselves up into a lather about whether US spy services are spying on US citizens, or if it's ("phew") "only foreigners" pisses me off.

I'd prefer the US government spy services kept their noses out of my texts with my wife as much as you guys do.
posted by panaceanot at 5:59 AM on June 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


NSA is building two new huge data storage facilities in Utah and Maryland. The NPR reporter I heard this morning emphasized how these facilities will open up new opportunities for the NSA because of the data storage limits they have been working with thus far.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 6:05 AM on June 10, 2013


The NPR piece quotes the NSA director about what's stored in those data centers:
Last summer, during a speech at the American Enterprise Institute, a reporter asked NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander, whether the Utah center "will hold the data of American citizens."

"No," Alexander responded. "While I can't go into all the details of the Utah Data Center, we don't hold data on U.S. citizens."
Wow. They must have a pretty neat filter to make sure none of the data came from Americans.
posted by mark7570 at 6:19 AM on June 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


> "No," Alexander responded. "While I can't go into all the details of the Utah Data Center, we don't hold data on U.S. citizens."

That's a great quote. Very helpful. It says that this person is more than happy to lie, because that statement can never be true. And as this person is the director of the NSA, it also says that the NSA itself is more than happy to lie, at any time, and about anything, and to even make statements that are false on their face.

It is just as if NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander, interviewed in the heartland of America -- let's say Ottumwa, IA (Yes sir? RADAR!) -- said definitively, convincingly and on-the-record in the midst of a torrential downpour, "It never rains on the citizens of the United States."

That shit needs to be torn down to the gravel under the foundation.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:28 AM on June 10, 2013 [9 favorites]


"No," Alexander responded. "While I can't go into all the details of the Utah Data Center, we don't hold data on U.S. citizens."

Just now, as I was reading these words, Senator Angus King was on the TV saying, "I'd prefer if the government didn't hold the data and then look for information."
posted by Room 641-A at 6:34 AM on June 10, 2013


A bombshell story published in the Washington Post this week alleged that the NSA had enlisted nine tech giants, including Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and Apple, in a massive program of online spying. Now the story is unraveling, and the Post has quietly changed key details. What went wrong?
For someone who's attacking journalists for making errors, he made one himself. He claimed the guardian article was based on the WaPo article, when in fact they had also been given the slides as well.

Anyway, he's claiming that journalism has failed because the WaPo article was edited. In fact, that's pretty standard practice in big news orgs, it's nothing new.

Snowden was smart. He set the two newspapers in competition with each other, as a way of adding pressure on each of them to leak ASAP in order to avoid getting scooped.

Finally, there's no evidence that the original story was wrong at all, and the slides clearly indicate that the access is 'direct', and the companies must be aware of what's going at least in some way. Telling people that the access was "indirect in some way" and that maybe the companies had never heard the actual name of the program they were involved in doesn't really change any of the relevant facts for people.
I'm sure there are plenty of posters ready to jump on me for this, but could Ellsberg possibly be more histrionic here? This looks really bad, and it could very well be the most important leak in history.

But it's been a matter of days, and we don't have anywhere near the full picture of what's going on, let alone anything approaching the remove needed to make statements of Historical Importance.
All the pentagon papers said was that the Vietnam war had been going badly for a long time and that it was clearly known by the higher-ups. It wasn't anything anyone didn't know.

Anyway, as a result of this we are either just going to have to accept all our lives and all our data being data mined and analyzed by the government, or put a stop to this. In the past lots of people thought it might be possible, but it was always just something that could be dismissed as paranoid, not really happening, not something that would ever happen in America (maybe in China or North Korea or something, people might think)

But now we know it's happening. So now a choice needs to be made. The way we've been going it seems like the choice is going to be to just let it happen - but and society is going to change from one where people feel free to speak freely and say whatever they want to one where they'll know everything they say online is going to be monitored and analyzed by the government.

So I don't really see how you can say this leak isn't going to have historical import.
posted by delmoi at 6:42 AM on June 10, 2013


Rand Paul vows to take NSA spying to SCOTUS
“I’m going to be asking all of the Internet providers, all of the phone companies, to ask your customers to join me in a class-action lawsuit. If we get 10 million Americans saying we don’t want our phone records looked at, then maybe things will change in Washington,” Paul said.
Yes, because that worked so well for universal background checks for gun sales.
posted by Room 641-A at 6:52 AM on June 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Rand Paul vows to take NSA spying to SCOTUS
“I’m going to be asking all of the Internet providers, all of the phone companies, to ask your customers to join me in a class-action lawsuit. If we get 10 million Americans saying we don’t want our phone records looked at, then maybe things will change in Washington,” Paul said.
Yes, because that worked so well for universal background checks for gun sales.


Which, of course, he described as tyranny, claiming that the Newtown families that pushed to stand with Obama and Congress were props, and then wrote for the looniest of the gun groups that a bill supporting a UN anti-trafficking measure was TYRANNY. And considering Rand Paul was all too happy to use drones to kill "liquor store robbers" but not "fly over hot tubs"--way to dogwhistle, there, bro--I think his take on public support and civil liberties is fairly messed up.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:07 AM on June 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


He did walk back the 'liquor store' comments, that's not actually his position at all. Also, what he said made sense, if it's already a situation where the police would use deadly force, say a hostage situation, does it make any practical difference if they use a human sniper or some kind of robot?

(I would say the difference is in aggregate, just like the difference between having the police poor through phone records by hand, or collecting and analyzing everyone's records automatically - and also police are only supposed to use deadly force to protect lives, which would not be the case if there was only a drone there. So I don't agree with that idea, and Neither does Rand Paul at this point, since he apparently changed his mind after saying that.)
posted by delmoi at 7:18 AM on June 10, 2013


Something I haven't seen here so far is the take that a gigantic secret national security apparatus is untenable.

This guy wasn't even technically part of the NSA, but a contractor with clearances. But even high-ranking members, who would never choose to leak to the public because of consequences like this, might decide to leak to foreign governments in secret, including the very ones we'd want to keep the information from. The difference being, in this case we know the information is leaked, in that we don't, and the leaker will remain in his high position supplying other governments information indefinitely.

Three can keep a secret if two are dead. The only party really kept in the dark is the public. Which, as has been pointed out by people upthread, is often the point, because classification is frequently used to cover up embarrassments and mistakes.
posted by JHarris at 7:25 AM on June 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


Fallows makes just that point, JHarris, and a couple others. Closed, secret systems can break or be abused in many unexpected ways.
posted by notyou at 7:34 AM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's Monday and I'm still just stunned at the thoughtfulness of Snowden's whistleblowing and coming out as the person responsible. A quick scan of the news shows that so far, all the articles about him are his narrative, sourced from the Guardian interview and article. It may take another day for any organized response trying to discredit him or the information he leaked. Maybe this evening.

BTW, I had to double check this, but Glenn Greenwald is an American reporter. He's the US guy for the Guardian (a UK newspaper). The Wikipedia article says he mostly lives in Brazil to be with his partner who cannot immigrate to the US.
posted by Nelson at 7:44 AM on June 10, 2013


I wonder too when we're going to start seeing "leaked" smears about him, and how successful they'll be.

The spin has begun:

CNN: "Is this guy a hero or a traitor?"
posted by CosmicRayCharles at 7:55 AM on June 10, 2013


Is that actual spin or just CNN, not invited to the formal party with the real news outlets, sitting outside with a bunch of dirty Solo cups, a punch bowl of MD 20/20 and a kazoo?
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:01 AM on June 10, 2013 [11 favorites]


CosmicRayCharles: "The spin has begun:

CNN: "Is this guy a hero or a traitor?"
"

Ugh, it's sickening how quickly they turn.

If you google that phrase, the first page of results are CNN articles about Bradley Manning.
posted by yaymukund at 8:01 AM on June 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


"Hero or traitor" is a reasonable debate to have on the merits of his actions. I'm waiting for the article about how he was a ne'er-do-well in trouble at work, or has gambling debts, or is hooked on coke, or abuses puppies. Something to make him seem disreputable.
posted by Nelson at 8:02 AM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just listened to Greenwald on NPR's On Point. There is also a guy from the Heritage Foundation being interviewed. The Heritage Foundation person is arguing that the leaks must stop and that we should be having these debates. The debates are good and will help us frame policy. And we have a system of checks and balances in place like the Senate Intelligence Committee to insure lawful programs, blah blah blah. And Greenwald is saying "THE ONLY REASON WE ARE HAVING THIS DEBATE NOW IS BECAUSE OF A WHISTELBLOWER. YOU CAN'T HAVE A PUBLIC DEBATE ABOUT THINGS WHICH ARE DONE COMPLETELY IN SECRET. Full stop (sorry...I couldn't resist). And then a caller named Amber chimes in with the most stupid and dangerously naive belief that we need to just trust our government and the idea that the government would ever use the data collected to harm US citizens is just completely ridiculous. I sincerely hope that people like Amber represent a vast minority. It is just surreal how compliant and complacent we have become.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 8:04 AM on June 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


I highly doubt that congress will ever vote to reverse any laws giving the NSA these powers, so under what circumstances can a case be brought to the SCOTUS to weigh in on the constitutionality of this act? Does a plaintiff have to show clear harm by the intrusion? And then what happens if the court upholds the law?

Also, off topic, get ready for the mainstream news coverage of George Zimmerman's trial just in time to shove this story off the national stage!
posted by pepcorn at 8:30 AM on June 10, 2013


Rand Paul vows to take NSA spying to SCOTUS

Google: "rand paul" clock "twice a day" = About 223,000 results

Heh. Although his father gets 644,000 results, so Rand has some work to do.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 8:34 AM on June 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


"We are currently attempting to get in touch with Mr. Snowden to confirm that [asylum in Iceland] is his will and discuss the details of his asylum request. Our next step will be to assess the security implications of asylum, as it is possible that Iceland may not be the best location, depending on various questions regarding the legal framework - all of these issues will be taken into account. We are already working on detailing the legal protocols required to apply for asylum, and will over the course of the week be seeking a meeting with the newly appointed interior minister of Iceland, Mrs. Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir, to discuss whether an asylum request can be processed in a swift manner, should such an application be made." - MP Birgitta Jónsdóttir.*

I'd add that Birgitta is an MP in the opposition, from the Pirate Party, while Hanna Birna is a conservative. And that means there can be some real knee-jerk contrarianism along party lines, regardless of the merits of the idea.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:48 AM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Kind of makes you wonder about the claims to know victims of Soviet oppression who were (or are now) nonchalant about that. For various reasons, I too have known people who were oppressed under the Soviets and fled the USSR. They do not speak warmly of women being safe in the streets. They speak in terrified terms about the power of the secret police and the surveillance state.

I suspect it depends on what class these people were in. The people who were elevated from the dregs of society, for whom a bread line was an improvement, probably didn't think it was so bad. If *everyone* can shit upon you with impunity, and suddenly the rule of law steps in and protects them, unless they are "troublemakers" of course, they are going to be happy. The people for whom the old way worked, the upper classes who had their privilege wiped away by the classless society, probably didn't care for it so much. Of course, they were the ones whose behavior sparked the various revolutions to begin with, so it's hard to be objective.
posted by gjc at 8:51 AM on June 10, 2013


I would posit that he could be both a hero AND a traitor at the same time. They aren't mutually exclusive. If he violated an oath to protect information and broke it, he can be considered a traitor regardless of his motivations. Maybe it depends on how you define traitor? I'm sure there will be fervent discussions in comment sections across the interverse between partisans claiming that someone is only a traitor if they help an enemy, with the other side claiming it doesn't matter and that harming the country is the point.
posted by gjc at 8:55 AM on June 10, 2013


Anyway, he's claiming that journalism has failed because the WaPo article was edited. In fact, that's pretty standard practice in big news orgs, it's nothing new.

Standard practice, yes, but good journalism? I'm not so sure about that. I think the public is served far more by journalists who strive to get the story right the first time than by a journalist who gets the story out first. Plus, there is something a little creepy about new stories that change every time you look at them. That seems like a dangerous practice that could easily be abused.
posted by gjc at 9:01 AM on June 10, 2013


gjc, it also brings us back to the fact that the U.S.'s founding, and the revolution before it, was a profound act of treason against England. And every uprising, left or right, tends to put their cause in the same category as that event.
posted by emjaybee at 9:02 AM on June 10, 2013


with the other side claiming it doesn't matter and that harming the country is the point.

Which naturally raises the question, "What is the country?"

Yeah, maybe I'm overly idealistic, but I think we're starting to see a multipartisan grassroots increase in people who give a shit about transparency and accountability. The discussions that arise from Snowden's and others' whistleblowing have been pretty thought-provoking, including this one.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:02 AM on June 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well, there's the legalistic sense of "traitor", which he probably is. But more importantly is how he'll be cast in public opinion once the dust settles; in that arena, it will be either hero or traitor, without much nuance. Hopefully being a hero will give him some solace from the confines of his inevitable CIA oubliette.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 9:04 AM on June 10, 2013


Thomas Jefferson and George Washington were also traitors, if we want to get technical on the definition of "traitor" here.
posted by BlueJae at 9:09 AM on June 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


And then a caller named Amber chimes in with the most stupid and dangerously naive belief that we need to just trust our government and the idea that the government would ever use the data collected to harm US citizens is just completely ridiculous.
Here's the thing, US Citizens aren't the only ones with a stake in this, they make up a minority of the users of these services. How would Amber feel if all her emails were being read by the Chinese, or Iran, or Vladimir Putin?

The people of, for example Hong Kong - which does not have a censored internet would certainly appreciate knowing.

And actually if you think about, these revelations have actually been a huge gift for the PR gift to the Chinese government either way. They now get to say that their internet censorship has been protecting their people from being spied on by the US. Imagine if Chinese people were still using google, just imagine what kind of intelligence the US could get just reading their Gmail/Hotmail/Yahoo emails and Facebook messages? Even if people were careful, there would still be a lot of data 'leaking' onto those services by careless people.

So one of the biggest aspects of this leak is how it actually relates to something that affects billions of people directly. With the Pentagon Papers, and with Bradley Manning it was mostly related to the US (as well as Vietnam/Iraq/Afghanistan) and didn't really relate to something that directly impacted them in their personal lives.

With this leak, it's information that directly applies to people's lives around the world, billions of people, no doubt, use these services and now know that the US government has access to all their personal data.
Standard practice, yes, but good journalism? I'm not so sure about that.
They notified people about the updates, it wasn't done without notification as sometimes happens.
posted by delmoi at 9:14 AM on June 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


Well, there's the legalistic sense of "traitor", which he probably is.

Technically, in the US, he probably isn't, as treason is extremely difficult to prove (one of the side-effects of a constitution written by traitors against the Crown). Of course, technically, neither were the Rosenbergs (executed for aiding the enemy in 1951), and nor is there any chance of Bradley Manning being convicted of treason.
posted by acb at 9:20 AM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


They notified people about the updates

From the article (with screen caps of the different versions):
And then a funny thing happened the next morning. If you followed the link to that story, you found a completely different story, nearly twice as long, with a slightly different headline. The new story wasn’t just expanded; it had been stripped of key details, with no acknowledgment of the changes. That updated version, time-stamped at 8:51 AM on June 7, backed off from key details in the original story.

Crucially, the Post removed the “knowingly participated” language and also scrubbed a reference to the program as being “highly classified.” In addition, a detail in the opening graf that claimed the NSA could “track a person’s movements and contacts over time” was changed to read simply “track foreign targets.” (emphasis mine)
Are you referring to the "Updated" link in the story? This seems much more like it needed a correction notice, not an updated notice. (And isn't this the source of the "misinformation" that had everyone screaming about the willing participation of Microsoft, Google, et al?)
posted by Room 641-A at 9:30 AM on June 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Resolved: the Internet Is No Place for Critical Infrastructure, Dan Geer, ACM Queue, 02 April 2013
posted by ob1quixote at 9:40 AM on June 10, 2013


Are you referring to the "Updated" link in the story? This seems much more like it needed a correction notice, not an updated notice. (And isn't this the source of the "misinformation" that had everyone screaming about the willing participation of Microsoft, Google, et al?)
Yeah, except there's no evidence the tech companies weren't willing participants, except for their carefully worded statements. The original article did include denials from the companies, although they weren't as vociferous as the later ones.
posted by delmoi at 9:46 AM on June 10, 2013


ob1quixote: “Resolved: the Internet Is No Place for Critical Infrastructure, Dan Geer, ACM Queue, 02 April 2013”
So… wrong thread, but I guess it works here too.
posted by ob1quixote at 10:00 AM on June 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


That ZDNet article is awful. It claims that the NSA surveillance story is 'unraveling' because the IT firms have denied involvement and USG officials have said that it's a "formalized legal process", which doesn't exactly follow. Carefully-worded denials and claims of 'misreadings' and 'histrionics' prove absolutely nothing.

Move on, move on, people. Nothing to see here.
posted by anemone of the state at 10:07 AM on June 10, 2013


More from the ZD article:
The Post compounded its error by quietly correcting its story and not publicly acknowledging that there were errors in the original story. It's worth noting that the Post has a published policy for how its writers and editors are supposed to handle online corrections. Here's what that policy, headlined "Digital Publishing Guidelines - Clarifications and corrections," says:

When a correction is made online, the story editor is responsible for alerting universal, home-page and social teams to make the necessary changes to headlines and blurbs. The change should be made within the article and the correction should also be noted at the top of the item.
There is more to this in the ZD article, and more examples of the changes made in the WaPo article.

Again, I respectfully ask if not following their own guidelines on a big story like this is

In fact, that's pretty standard practice in big news orgs
posted by Room 641-A at 10:14 AM on June 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Too bad Snowden outted himself so early in the story cycle. Now the story is all about him rather than what's important - pervasive government surveillance and the steady erosion of democratic rights and freedoms.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:15 AM on June 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


To be clear, I'm talking about the way WaPo handled the story, not debating the content of the story.
posted by Room 641-A at 10:16 AM on June 10, 2013


Are you referring to the "Updated" link in the story? This seems much more like it needed a correction notice, not an updated notice. (And isn't this the source of the "misinformation" that had everyone screaming about the willing participation of Microsoft, Google, et al?)
Yeah, except there's no evidence the tech companies weren't willing participants, except for their carefully worded statements. The original article did include denials from the companies, although they weren't as vociferous as the later ones.
posted by delmoi at 11:46 on June 10
[+] [!]

I think it's a burden of proof question: you have these various companies' denials. You have some PowerPoint slides. Is there any other evidence that can independenlty support either of these two sides of the disputed matter? If not, don't you have an obligation to credit the argument that the PRISM process is not a direct-access pipeline directly into these companies' servers?

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. I wish we had the patience to be more objective about this for a few weeks, to give other journalists a chance to investigate.
posted by samofidelis at 10:26 AM on June 10, 2013


Oh, moreover, the journalistic practices of WaPo may well be broken regardless of the truth of these statements. Those propositions are logically independent.
posted by samofidelis at 10:27 AM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is not the country I grew up in.

I find myself thinking that increasingly more often every day.


I'll go you one further - I'm thinking it never was. That we are fed a script of bullshit from day one.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 10:34 AM on June 10, 2013 [10 favorites]


Oh, moreover, the journalistic practices of WaPo may well be broken regardless of the truth of these statements. Those propositions are logically independent.

Yes, I think the author (or editor) of the ZD piece got a little lost with the "Now the story is unraveling" bit and strayed from the premise that "The real story in the NSA scandal is the collapse of journalism".
posted by Room 641-A at 10:38 AM on June 10, 2013


Inside the ‘Q Group,’ the Directorate Hunting Down Edward Snowden, Eli Lake, The Daily Beast, 10 June 2013
“We have seen the latest report from The Guardian that identifies an individual claiming to have disclosed information about highly classified intelligence programs in recent days,” Office of the Director of National Intelligence Spokesperson Shawn Turner said in a statement issued Sunday. “The Intelligence Community is currently reviewing the damage that has been done by these recent disclosures. Any person who has a security clearance knows that he or she has an obligation to protect classified information and abide by the law.”

“It informs our adversaries. It puts American companies at risk internationally for simply complying with our laws,” said Mike Hayden, a former director of the NSA and a former director of the CIA. “It teaches practically everyone in the world--sources, liaison services--that America can’t keep secrets.”

The impact of the leak inside the NSA has been enormous. “There is complete freak-out mode at the agency right now,” one former intelligence officer told The Daily Beast. “There has never been anything like this in terms of the speed of referral of a crime report to the Justice Department. Normally this kind of thing takes weeks and weeks.”
posted by ob1quixote at 10:43 AM on June 10, 2013


Too bad Snowden outted himself so early in the story cycle. Now the story is all about him rather than what's important - pervasive government surveillance and the steady erosion of democratic rights and freedoms.

It also calls into question motivation and thus the legitimacy of the documents "leaked". What if he fudged some things to make the documents look worse? What if he stumbled upon someone's wish list of features of PRISM and not operating instructions? What if he is doing a sort of grand "suicide by cop" kind of thing? What if the info he found was phony, planted to catch leakers?

If we can ponder whether he isn't real or exactly how the black helicopters will shoot him down on his way to his lair in Iceland, and the (abhorrent) idea that there will be trumped up sexual assault charges, we can speculate about this too.

If he is completely legit and is concerned solely about whistleblowing, he should have kept his yap shut and let the material speak for itself. Outing himself makes *him* the story, and that doesn't completely mesh with his characterization as a hero.

And without better journalism, we'll never know.
posted by gjc at 10:52 AM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


As an aside, I want to thank Henry "The Mustache Of Justice" Waxman, who has been my Congressman for most of the last 35 years, for his consistent votes on the side of good, including the Patriot Act.
posted by Room 641-A at 10:54 AM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


The last time Pluto was in this position relative to the earth, France and the United States came to have a revolution. (Yeah, Pluto moves slowly) And the last time it connected with Uranus, it was the Sixties, man.

/patterns, that is all.
posted by infini at 11:00 AM on June 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


“We have seen the latest report from The Guardian that identifies an individual claiming to have disclosed information about highly classified intelligence programs in recent days,” Office of the Director of National Intelligence Spokesperson Shawn Turner said in a statement issued Sunday. “The Intelligence Community is currently reviewing the damage that has been done by these recent disclosures. Any person who has a security clearance knows that he or she has an obligation to protect classified information and abide by the law.

Any person who has a security clearance needs a trustworthy and easily accessible legal channel for reporting abuse, then. I can't see a way to make any broad classified systems work when the people within keep running up against the problem of finding a safe, trustworthy outlet to report abuses, some sort of watchdog group outside of the circle of individuals already involved in Congress/FISA/the executive that is given enough clout to actually do something with the complaints, and in the absence of that it's no wonder that they turn to reporters and Wikileaks as those outlets tick more boxes than the options provided by government - if not safe, they're at least trustworthy, and public opinion's certainly got clout.
posted by jason_steakums at 11:00 AM on June 10, 2013 [6 favorites]


DOJ Argues Secret Ruling Over Secret Unconstitutional Surveillance Must Remain Secret Because It's Secret, Mike Masnick, TechDirt, 10 June 2013
posted by ob1quixote at 11:01 AM on June 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Any person who has a security clearance needs a trustworthy and easily accessible legal channel for reporting abuse, then.

I could not agree more.
posted by gjc at 11:09 AM on June 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


I guess that's my biggest problem with all of this, above and beyond the actual alleged abuses of surveillance powers, because that shit's always going to happen and the best we can hope for is for it to be stamped out and fixed quickly when it does happen - if someone's created a system that's so locked down that leaks to the press are the only way to check it for abuse, they've got no right to complain when that happens. The intelligence community is right to address any factual errors in the leaks, but they're wrong to treat the leak itself as anything other than a natural outcome of the system they built, and if they want to complain that there are factual errors but can't tell you what they are because that's classified, well, there should have been a trustworthy checking system for classified operations that can actually address accusations of abuse while accommodating any necessary secrecy.

I get that traditionally this has been Congress's bailiwick, and ideally someone can go to their representative with these concerns, but obviously that's not working when some members of Congress can and have raised these concerns and been ignored and possibly lied to, and other members can't be trusted to handle this because they're part of the circle of people who are vetting these operations and therefore they're among the accused and can't be thought of as impartial.
posted by jason_steakums at 11:18 AM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


"DOJ Argues Secret Ruling Over Secret Unconstitutional Surveillance Must Remain Secret Because It's Secret",

I have recently experienced this style of argumentation. It was, however, a different section of this website.

Besides, the wench is dead.
posted by infini at 11:21 AM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


bitmage: I don't even know how to express my feelings at this. An American citizen, who has exposed illegal government activity that violates both the letter and spirit of the Constitution, has to hide out in Hong Kong and hope for foreign asylum.

This is not the country I grew up in.
Correction: This is not the country you and I were told we were growing up in.

Giving black men placebo treatments for syphilis; police routinely beating up gays and minorities as a matter of departmental policy; systematically punishing female soldiers for reporting rape; THAT is the country we grew up in.

And never knew.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:25 AM on June 10, 2013 [13 favorites]


If he is completely legit and is concerned solely about whistleblowing, he should have kept his yap shut and let the material speak for itself. Outing himself makes *him* the story, and that doesn't completely mesh with his characterization as a hero.
Is that some kind of joke? Whether or not he violated some kind of sense of decorum or not is totally irrelevant to the facts in the case.
Any person who has a security clearance needs a trustworthy and easily accessible legal channel for reporting abuse, then.

I could not agree more.
The problem is, they make a formal report, and then what? Does anything actually happen? Everything that was being done at the NSA was "legal", reporting through official channels wouldn't have had any effect, since obviously Obama supports the program and says it should continue.

So really, if you think the government is doing something wrong, the ultimate arbiters of government action are the people, since this is a democracy.
posted by delmoi at 11:26 AM on June 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Here's What China Thinks of Ed Snowden and the NSA
posted by homunculus at 11:29 AM on June 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


This is not the country I grew up in.
posted by bitmage at 1:16 PM on June 9 [126 favorites +]


Hate to break it to y'all, but it is. Doesn't matter when you were born, when you grew up. American has never been clean. Yadda-yadda-yadda. The myth of this every having been so is precisely the sort of fertile ground that allows such transgressions as Snowden has revealed.

"This is all okay because we're America, we're good, it says so on TV and in the movies."

And so on. Good man. Remember his name. He could well disappear entirely.
posted by philip-random at 11:39 AM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]



posted by gjc: If he is completely legit and is concerned solely about whistleblowing, he should have kept his yap shut and let the material speak for itself. Outing himself makes *him* the story, and that doesn't completely mesh with his characterization as a hero.

And without better journalism, we'll never know.


If he'd sat in his cube leaking info he would have been quickly tracked (by the nature of the several documents he had published), and either fed innocuous info and put under surveillance (to see what he was up to), or else captured at once. All classified documents are traceable to their users....wait, that's not quite true. FOUO, Confidential or Secret (non-codeword) documents are sometimes generic in nature, so any of many persons, all working in different areas, might have had access to them.

The stuff in question here in classified TS/crypto + codeword + codeword (for example a TS ELINT project may have a generic TS codeword, plus another codeword that directs a package to a specific compartmented project. Usually the project names are classified either Secret or TS, and their info carries the codeword designator. Crypto indicates that the info relates to a gathering system). There's no way that this material could not have been traced to him, probably immediately upon its disclosure to the press. I believe he took what he wanted, then fled, knowing there wouldn't be a second bite at this particular apple.

Still, I completely agree that diligent journalism is our friend here. But we (Americans) may be the Hindenburg and the press may be the breathless reporter. Nothing stops the fire, and it turns out to be set in motion by some goddam act of political hubris.

Classified info comes in two flavors: ass-covering, and national security. The ass-covering is the least of your worries. National Security is where they decide to nuke the Soviet Union in order to preserve the American Way of life, for an example from my era. You can stick drone warfare and waterboarding into contemporary issues and come out with the same dynamic. The point being that with classified info, there is only the razor's edge to stand on, and the slippery slope theory of morality is a pleasant fiction. If the dictator is benevolent, fine...all you have to worry about is whether they are coming for you or just the Gypsies. If he's Stalin, then you may have other concerns. This is the deep end of the pool: secret stuff. In this case, your nightmares are what they mine for ideas, and it's already too late to vet them for good or bad intentions.

Histrionics are inevitable: BTW, the damning aspect of the Pentagon Papers for Nixon was the disclosure that he used illegal wiretaps and had his henchmen commit crimes. By the time Ellsberg released those documents, nobody was surprised to hear that the government was less than candid about goings on in Vietnam.
posted by mule98J at 11:39 AM on June 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


Meet the contractors analyzing your private data.
posted by adamvasco at 11:40 AM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Here's What China Thinks of Ed Snowden and the NSA

Here's what the the Xinghua News has to say ...
posted by philip-random at 11:44 AM on June 10, 2013


if someone's created a system that's so locked down that leaks to the press are the only way to check it for abuse, they've got no right to complain when that happens.

I'm just typing out loud here, so bear with me....

Apparently the chain of command in this situation would be supervisor > Inspector General > Congress. Is there any way that following this protocol first (without ruling out going to the press later) would have been a good idea, or does this get him "transferred" to the branch office in Death Valley that produces the monthly NSA newsletter?
posted by Room 641-A at 11:46 AM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hate to break it to y'all, but it is. Doesn't matter when you were born, when you grew up. American has never been clean. Yadda-yadda-yadda. The myth of this every having been so is precisely the sort of fertile ground that allows such transgressions as Snowden has revealed.

Turn over a rotten log, watch the creepy-crawlies scatter. They were always there, of course.
posted by emjaybee at 11:47 AM on June 10, 2013


National Security is where they decide to nuke the Soviet Union in order to preserve the American Way of life, for an example from my era.

The United States never nuked the Soviet Union.

Apparently the chain of command in this situation would be supervisor > Inspector General > Congress. Is there any way that following this protocol first (without ruling out going to the press later) would have been a good idea, or does this get him "transferred" to the branch office in Death Valley that produces the monthly NSA newsletter?

The CIA and NSA Inspectors General have robust whistleblower programs. I was taught national security law by the Deputy Inspector General for the CIA.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:49 AM on June 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


The problem is, they make a formal report, and then what? Does anything actually happen? Everything that was being done at the NSA was "legal", reporting through official channels wouldn't have had any effect, since obviously Obama supports the program and says it should continue.

If there were no violations of law, why does one high-school dropout get to decide what gets revealed to the entire world? Didn't we vote someone in to make these decisions and if so why is this guy allowed to undo them?

As for the formal report, people can get fired or in the case of the waterboarding lady, not get the top job.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:52 AM on June 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hopefully the fallout from this unprecedented surveillance is that everyone who supports it will be rendered unelectable.
posted by anemone of the state at 11:54 AM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


If there were no violations of law, why does one high-school dropout get to decide what gets revealed to the entire world? Didn't we vote someone in to make these decisions and if so why is this guy allowed to undo them?

James Fallows made the same point, but in a slightly different context. Systems like these are ripe for abuse, whether by rogue agents spying on their neighbors, or rogue libertarians leaking operational details to the public.

Can you share a little more of your expertise in this area of the law and robust whistleblower programs? Do contractors such as BAH have the same or similar processes? Are private sector processes robust enough to overcome organization-wide incentives not to disclose abuse (ie, preservation of revenue streams)?
posted by notyou at 12:02 PM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Mass Surveillance in America: A Timeline of Loosening Laws and Practices
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:04 PM on June 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


The CIA and NSA Inspectors General have robust whistleblower programs. I was taught national security law by the Deputy Inspector General for the CIA.
Well, you sound very credible!
why does one high-school dropout get to decide what gets revealed to the entire world?
Because he had the data.
Didn't we vote someone in to make these decisions
No, we voted for someone who claimed to have the opposite position, who betrayed us. You don't get to break your campaign promises and then claim a democratic mandate for the opposite.
and if so why is this guy allowed to undo them?
Allowed by who, exactly?
posted by delmoi at 12:05 PM on June 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


The problem is, they make a formal report, and then what? Does anything actually happen? Everything that was being done at the NSA was "legal", reporting through official channels wouldn't have had any effect, since obviously Obama supports the program and says it should continue.
Just spitballing here, but if you had an oversight committee in Congress made up of those who are not involved with the general oversight of these programs, who can appoint and provide limited intelligence clearance for civilian expert advisors in the relevant technology in each case to make up for Congress' pretty shitty handling and understanding of tech questions, that would at least be a step in the right direction. It's outside the direct structure of the intelligence community, at least.
Apparently the chain of command in this situation would be supervisor > Inspector General > Congress. Is there any way that following this protocol first (without ruling out going to the press later) would have been a good idea, or does this get him "transferred" to the branch office in Death Valley that produces the monthly NSA newsletter?
See, I don't think this is a workable system in this case, because what's your supervisor or the Inspector General going to do when the orders came from above them, and what's Congress going to do when members have already tried and failed to address these concerns?
The CIA and NSA Inspectors General have robust whistleblower programs. I was taught national security law by the Deputy Inspector General for the CIA.
Even if the intelligence community has squeaky clean hands and a whistleblower's accusations are totally unfounded, I don't think they can be trusted to handle whistleblowers internally, even with an excellent program, for the same reason that no organization really can be - they are the accused.
posted by jason_steakums at 12:05 PM on June 10, 2013 [6 favorites]


Interesting turn of events, much to think about.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:06 PM on June 10, 2013


Greenwald and William Binney were both on Democracy Now today:

Glenn Greenwald on How NSA Leaker Edward Snowden Helped Expose a "Massive Surveillance Apparatus"

"On a Slippery Slope to a Totalitarian State": NSA Whistleblower Rejects Gov’t Defense of Spying
posted by homunculus at 12:11 PM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


If there were no violations of law

Snowden's contending that there were "abuses", which I think likely indicates violations of the law.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:12 PM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, pretty classy that, "high school drop-out". Carries with it the whiff of being dumb and a failure at life. Never mind his actual CV.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:13 PM on June 10, 2013 [19 favorites]


Snowden's contending that there were "abuses", which I think likely indicates violations of the law.
Right, but the president, the FISA court, etc had signed off on it - so even if you reported it, it wouldn't go anywhere, and would likely hurt your career and furthermore make you an obvious target if it ever leaked. It might be found unconstitutional at the supreme court, at some point in the future but as far as the people in charge, it's "legal" in their minds.

I mean think about it, you uncover what seems like widespread systematic abuse authorized at the highest levels of power - who in their right mind would trust a reporting system that went back up that chain of command? That would be insane.
posted by delmoi at 12:20 PM on June 10, 2013 [10 favorites]


If he is completely legit and is concerned solely about whistleblowing, he should have kept his yap shut and let the material speak for itself. Outing himself makes *him* the story, and that doesn't completely mesh with his characterization as a hero.

His identity would have likely been revealed at some point by the government, anyway. He's smart to announce now: he can at least control the message, to some degree, and make it clear to the public why he's done what he's done.

Instead of being pigeonholed as a sex criminal or whatever else, his reputation can probably better survive the "high school drop-out"-style campaign of slander that whistleblowers get, courtesy of the NYTimes and other media friends of the DC establishment.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:21 PM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yes, I am sure complaining to his own boss, a contractor hired to implement the abuses he was upset by, couldn't possibly go wrong! Much less the NSA, what with their reputation for grabbing people and renditioning the shit out of them at secret torture sites! And the President just nodding and winking away about it, I'm sure that gave him a lot of confidence that complaining through official channels was going to take care of this issue, yessirree.

Look, if my boss or their boss could actually get me disappeared, I'm pretty sure I'd either never say boo about them or know that if I did, my regular life would be over, and possibly very short.
posted by emjaybee at 12:22 PM on June 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


The CIA and NSA Inspectors General have robust whistleblower programs

I'm pretty sure that this has been conclusively shown to to be not true.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 12:23 PM on June 10, 2013 [7 favorites]


Ironmouth: If there were no violations of law, why does one high-school dropout get to decide what gets revealed to the entire world?
Didn't we vote someone in to make these decisions and if so why is this guy allowed to undo them?


Why are you cheering on the person who is giving you a royal shafting?

The public needs whistleblowers because the government cannot be trusted to keep itself transparent- as these revelations clearly demonstrate. The rationale for the surveillance's legality was so tortured it had to be kept secret because it wouldn't withstand scrutiny.

That's all beside the point that Obama campaigned on a platform that was explicitly against domestic surveillance- and then oversaw the infiltration and surveillance of domestic protest groups, the crackdown on whistleblowers and journalistic freedom, and the murdering of children and American citizens with drone strikes.

If Obama were to be given a send-off like Ceausescu, I would not shed a tear.
posted by anemone of the state at 12:24 PM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


I mean think about it, you uncover what seems like widespread systematic abuse authorized at the highest levels of power - who in their right mind would trust a reporting system that went back up that chain of command? That would be insane.

Yeah, I totally agree. I'm not saying he should have just reported it - as Snowden said he did, multiple times, to no effect. I agree entirely with his decision to make this material public.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:25 PM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Glad to see this is the thing that we can all finally band together on! Yup, no right/left your guy/my guy in this one!

/hamburger
posted by Big_B at 12:30 PM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


I mean think about it, you uncover what seems like widespread systematic abuse authorized at the highest levels of power - who in their right mind would trust a reporting system that went back up that chain of command? That would be insane.

Maybe you could have a reporting system that went directly to a congressional committee (including members like Rand Paul) that was fully anonymous.
posted by Golden Eternity at 12:30 PM on June 10, 2013


Make that "The public needs whistleblowers because the government cannot be trusted, period- as these revelations clearly demonstrate."
posted by anemone of the state at 12:31 PM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


yaymukund: "CNN: "Is this guy a hero or a traitor?"""

Why can't it be and rather than or?

Any counterforce is by definition a "traitor".
posted by chavenet at 12:51 PM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why Edward Snowden Is a Hero

Edward Snowden Is No Hero
posted by homunculus at 12:52 PM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


If there were no violations of law, why does one high-school dropout get to decide what gets revealed to the entire world?

Because the "one high-school dropout" had the documents and a conscience. That's all it takes.

In some ways, this is how it always worked. We know about FBI harassment of Martin Luther King because activists broke into an FBI field office and mailed documents to newspapers, exposing COINTELPRO abuses and prompting Congressional investigations.

In other ways, it is now very different -- Senators like Wyden and Udall already knew about abuses, but were legally barred from talking about them. As far as I know, Wyden and Udall are now breaking the law merely by affirming that last weeks revelations were in fact what they had previously alluded to in nebulous terms.

When the government's interpretation of the law is held secret, its legitimacy is eroded. Which action was worse, the field office break-in, or Snowden's leak?

As for the formal report, people can get fired or in the case of the waterboarding lady, not get the top job.

These do not really seem like fair outcomes considering the fact that the guy who blew the whistle on the waterboarding program is now incarcerated.
posted by compartment at 12:54 PM on June 10, 2013 [11 favorites]


Daniel Ellsberg: Edward Snowden Is a Hero and We Need More Whistleblowers. Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971, says that the machinery of our democratic government is broken—and we need whistleblowers like Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden to inspire Americans to fight back against this invasion of privacy.
posted by homunculus at 1:05 PM on June 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


NSA is building two new huge data storage facilities in Utah and Maryland. The NPR reporter I heard this morning emphasized how these facilities will open up new opportunities for the NSA because of the data storage limits they have been working with thus far.

Behold the NSA’s Dark Star: the Utah Data Center. It’s the ultimate machine of what’s become our Paranoid State. Clive Irving on the Orwellian mass-surveillance data center rising in the Utah desert.
posted by homunculus at 1:07 PM on June 10, 2013


MSNBC Breaking News: FBI increased use of Patriot Act provision 900% since 2009.
posted by Room 641-A at 1:08 PM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


This weekend DNI and former BAH executive James Clapper explained his "least untruthful" response to Senator Wyden's question last March in a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing.

First, the exchange with Wyden:
Wyden: "And this is for you, Director Clapper, again on the surveillance front. And I hope we can do this in just a yes or no answer, because I know Sen. Feinstein wants to move on.

"Last summer the NSA director was at a conference and he was asked a question about the NSA surveillance of Americans. He replied, and I quote here, '... the story that we have millions or hundreds of millions of dossiers on people is completely false.'

"The reason I'm asking the question is, having served on the committee now for a dozen years, I don't really know what a dossier is in this context. So what I wanted to see is if you could give me a yes or no answer to the question: Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?"

Clapper: "No, sir."

Wyden: "It does not."

Clapper: "Not wittingly. There are cases where they could inadvertently perhaps collect, but not wittingly."

Wyden: "All right. Thank you. I'll have additional questions to give you in writing on that point, but I thank you for the answer."
And here's Clapper's explanation:
On Sunday, NBC News' Andrea Mitchell pressed him on the NSA collection and on the exchange with Wyden.

Clapper suggested that the senator's question was unfair.

"As I said, I have great respect for Sen. Wyden. I thought, though in retrospect, I was asked [a] 'When are you going to stop beating your wife' kind of question, which is ... not answerable necessarily by a simple yes or no," Clapper said.

"So I responded in what I thought was the most truthful, or least untruthful, manner by saying 'no,'" Clapper said, indicating that he did not consider it "collection" unless government officials actually reviewed the content of the communications. The NSA program, regarding phone records, scoops up "metadata"—phone numbers called, duration of calls, location and the like.
This would be an example of the forthrightness with which the leaders of the nation's intelligence services respond to lawful, robust oversight?
posted by notyou at 1:08 PM on June 10, 2013 [20 favorites]


I thought, though in retrospect, I was asked [a] 'When are you going to stop beating your wife' kind of question, which is ... not answerable necessarily by a simple yes or no."

So he got a question that can not be honestly answered with a yes or no statement, and yet his answer was, literally, "No, sir." I am not a lawyer, but this does not seem like the best possible defense of his testimony.
posted by compartment at 1:13 PM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


he did not consider it "collection" unless government officials actually reviewed the content of the communications.

Ah, it depends upon what your definition of “collection” is.
posted by NorthernLite at 1:17 PM on June 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Much less the NSA, what with their reputation for grabbing people and renditioning the shit out of them at secret torture sites!

Got a cite for that? Because they are, as far as I know, strictly a signal intelligence and protection agency.
posted by gjc at 1:22 PM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


OK, gjc, I'll pretend that none of NSA's surveillance is ever used to assist renditions by other agencies, contractors, or governments, if you want. If I worked for them, though, I might hesitate to play that bet.

Snowden himself certainly seems to think it's a threat...which is why he is where he is.

Snowden traveled to Hong Kong from Hawaii, where he lived with his girlfriend, right before leaking the documents, choosing the city because "they have a spirited commitment to free speech and the right of political dissent.” Still, he’s well aware lots of things could happen to him: The United States could begin extradition proceedings, the Chinese government may try to question him. And he even sees rendition as a possibility.

But sure, ok, the NSA has nothing to do with those.
posted by emjaybee at 1:31 PM on June 10, 2013


I've debated posting this because I'm not sure how sensitive the information is, but the person I was talking to said that they were allowed to tell me this, so here goes...

About a year ago I was talking to an acquaintance who's doing non-IT related work for the building in Utah which is currently being constructed. He'd been obliquely hinting around to working for the NSA with some sort of clearance and level of secrecy, and so I playfully asked him if he was working on the data warehouse in Utah, not expecting him to say yes, and he looked uncomfortable and then said that he was. He said that he wasn't allowed to tell me much more than that, and then went on to talk about how the Wired investigative piece from Bamford was full of misinformation due to Bamford having an axe to grind and, "of course the NSA isn't spying on American citizens."

He made the distinction that they weren't storing anything at the Utah facility, and that it was for 'processing' only. I didn't feel like arguing with him, since he has an abrasive personality, and it was something I could see myself getting heated up about (I've long ago decided that having political arguments at parties is a rude thing to do to the inevitable spectators), so I said "Huh, well, there you go," and let it drop. However, even at the time it seemed like bullshit. Why do you need that much room for processing?

So if the 'processing' line is something that the NSA was feeding people working for them, then is that just a linguistic dodge? I mean - you have to store stuff to process it. It's not like things are going in to RAM and then being deleted forever, right?
posted by codacorolla at 1:31 PM on June 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


I mean - you have to store stuff to process it. It's not like things are going in to RAM and then being deleted forever, right?

Snowden specifically used the word "storing" in describing part of what's going on. And consider the breadth of the surveillance, my guess is that no, data is not being poured through a 16GB Flash drive in a Dell tower somewhere in Utah before immediate deletion.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:37 PM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Whoa, that Jeffrey Toobin "Edward Snowden is No Hero" article is really something:

And what of his decision to leak the documents? Doing so was, as he more or less acknowledges, a crime. Any government employee or contractor is warned repeatedly that the unauthorized disclosure of classified information is a crime. But Snowden, apparently, was answering to a higher calling.

In its derision, Toobin seems to imply that there's no higher calling than obeying the letter of the law. That kinda gives me the willies.
posted by Greg Nog at 1:39 PM on June 10, 2013 [8 favorites]


Sure, they don't store the raw data. They can answer that question honestly because they store only their analysis of it, which, naturally, does include all of the data from the raw form, but it's not the original data, it's a copy.
posted by feloniousmonk at 1:41 PM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


The right of the people to be secure in their avatars, profiles, tweets, and sexts, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
posted by DynamiteToast at 1:47 PM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why Edward Snowden's flight to Hong Kong might be brilliant: The NSA whistleblower could exploit a loophole in the Chinese territory's asylum system to buy himself some valuable time.
posted by homunculus at 1:51 PM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


"If You See Something, Say Something"
posted by Room 641-A at 1:56 PM on June 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


http://www.npr.org/2013/06/10/190160772/amid-data-controversy-nsa-builds-its-biggest-data-farm

$1.2 billion for this place. Yes, we have $1.2 billion for JUST FOR THIS FACILITY.

So throw some numbers at me - a rough estimate of what the US has spent in total via the DoD for two wars, funding given to states and cities for “Homeland Security”-related spending, and the total alphabet soup of fed intelligence/ security agencies.
posted by NorthernLite at 1:57 PM on June 10, 2013


Why are so many people in this thread insisting upon making statements that they cannot possibly know to be true? About the nature of these NSA storage facilities, about all manner of NSA activities, about rendition. We have far too few facts about these scandals to speak from complete ignorance with equally complete conviction. "I don't know" is the only honest answer for most of these questions. But instead, everyone tells you exactly how the NSA has wiggled around this question or that, how they're storing or processing data or whatever. It is not helpful.



If Obama were to be given a send-off like Ceausescu, I would not shed a tear.
posted by anemone of the state at 14:24 on June 10 [+] [!]


This is dumb internet toughguy posturing. You're upset by the abuses of governmental power, right? And your best solution isn't a restoration of due process, but rather a lynch mob? Go home. You're not right about the things you think you're right about.
posted by samofidelis at 1:58 PM on June 10, 2013 [10 favorites]


And, lest I be accused of being a stooge, I'm very glad to see this news come to light. I just wish it would be treated like news by grownups instead of a chance to argue about who we think really killed JFK.
posted by samofidelis at 1:59 PM on June 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


"As I said, I have great respect for Sen. Wyden. I thought, though in retrospect, I was asked [a] 'When are you going to stop beating your wife' kind of question, which is ... not answerable necessarily by a simple yes or no," Clapper said.
It's not a trick question if you're actually beating your wife.
It's not like things are going in to RAM and then being deleted forever, right? -- codacorolla
Yeah. Things need to be stored to be processed. In theory you could be taking data in, crunching it, and then only keeping the output rather then the information that went in, but that's highly doubtful.
In its derision, Toobin seems to imply that there's no higher calling than obeying the letter of the law. That kinda gives me the willies. -- Greg Nog
I saw him interviewed, he said he had a "bizarre ideology" (I didn't know not wanting the government to spy on everyone in the world was a 'bizzare' idea) and he used similar phrasing as Ironmouth saying "We don't usually make 29 year old highschool dropouts decide what our policies are"

It's a very weird attitude, it's like they think there is some judgmental deity that judges people and will smite people if they get in the way of US national security policy.
And, lest I be accused of being a stooge, I'm very glad to see this news come to light. I just wish it would be treated like news by grownups instead of a chance to argue about who we think really killed JFK. -- samofidelis
Only children refer to adults as "grownups", and indeed it's a childish trope – the idea that anyone who belives in freedom and privacy and not killing people in wars or whatever other ideals is just a childish naïf, and that only responsible, mature, people unencumbered by any moral sentiment should make decisions.

Also, your comment is the only mention of JFK – although in the last thread someone praised him for not nuking Cuba when his advisors told him he had to do it. So what the fuck are you even talking about?
posted by delmoi at 2:06 PM on June 10, 2013 [6 favorites]


Delmoi, you're being a crank and you know it. If you want I can teach you about metaphor... Except, no, I won't, because you're painfully obstinate and your favourite hobby is to willfully misunderstand people. That's not 'what the fuck I'm talking about,' but it seems an appropriate response to your noise.
posted by samofidelis at 2:09 PM on June 10, 2013


Way back when Google News went and dragged my oldest, juvenilest usenet postings out of the mists of ancient history and made them easily searchable, I told myself to never again assume that anything, anything I put online wouldn't probably come back to haunt me someday. I assumed that just as the first iteration of the Internet had brought about a kind of singularity for all the scattered hardcopy media that had come before it (this occurred to me perhaps four hours into an NES emulator binge), one day something similar would happen to the Internet we have now, and all those ephemeral thoughts we poured into all those web 2.0 sites relentlessly entreating us to share would eventually come back in a record as permanent and indelible as if engraved in stone. Even the so-called private stuff. What did they tell us in those books about the Internet we read in the 90s? (haha, we had to read hardcopy books to learn about the Internet in the 90s!) -- never assume your email communication was truly private, never email your credit card or social security number, etc.

Which, of course, is what allows me to be so fashionably blasé about this PRISM/Utah Data Center shit. Wasn't something like this always technologically preordained? Does anybody really think there exists an electoral or legislative way to prevent or reverse what's happening here? Didn't we always know that the price of having access to so much information was that we would become information ourselves?

I mean, don't get me wrong: the relatonship between the government and its people is horribly fucked and has been for a long time. It's just weird, from my perspective, to see this being the instigator for so much WELL NOW THEY'VE GONE TOO FAR talk.
posted by prize bull octorok at 2:13 PM on June 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


re: data storage, I refer to a comment I made earlier this morning:
"No," Alexander responded. "While I can't go into all the details of the Utah Data Center, we don't hold data on U.S. citizens."
Room 641-A: Just now, as I was reading these words, Senator Angus King was on the TV saying, "I'd prefer if the government didn't hold the data and then look for information.""
posted by Room 641-A at 2:19 PM on June 10, 2013


Yeah. Things need to be stored to be processed. In theory you could be taking data in, crunching it, and then only keeping the output rather then the information that went in, but that's highly doubtful.

It's trivial to do, and gives plausible deniability in the process. If I made a program that requests the data on this page, storing the result only as a variable in memory, did whatever processing magic I felt like on that information, kept the processing results and cleared the variable when I was done, I never "stored" the data. It's super common in front-end web development, actually. It's a little clunky for serious data crunching work, but not when you've got gigantic processing farms with big fat fiber connections.
posted by jason_steakums at 2:21 PM on June 10, 2013


I just wish it would be treated like news by grownups instead of a chance to argue about who we think really killed JFK.

well garsh mebbe sum dai wen i gro up i can lurn all bowt it

Watched the video, read the article, among others, and that's what I'm commenting on. Please do not swing that giant "you're all acting like little children" brush among people who are commenting from all kinds of different perspectives, and aren't all necessarily declaring that they have the TRUTH.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:21 PM on June 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm not wild about Google storing everything of mine, but there's a distinct difference between a company doing this and your government doing it. Insofar as I know Google has none of impressive power of governments to lock you up for years without a trial or have a farcical trial where the evidence against you can't be revealed because that would apparently be spitting in the face of national security.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 2:21 PM on June 10, 2013


That might not have referred to you, MSTPT. I don't know, I'm not going to reread this thread. But you can't say with a straight face that most of this discussion hasn't spun off into different camps of speculators arguing about their pet theories. It's juvenile.
posted by samofidelis at 2:23 PM on June 10, 2013


It's trivial to do, and gives plausible deniability in the process. If I made a program that requests the data on this page, storing the result only as a variable in memory, did whatever processing magic I felt like on that information, kept the processing results and cleared the variable when I was done, I never "stored" the data. It's super common in front-end web development, actually. It's a little clunky for serious data crunching work, but not when you've got gigantic processing farms with big fat fiber connections.

That's a good explanation of the difference, thanks.
posted by codacorolla at 2:28 PM on June 10, 2013


That might not have referred to you, MSTPT. I don't know, I'm not going to reread this thread. But you can't say with a straight face that most of this discussion hasn't spun off into different camps of speculators arguing about their pet theories. It's juvenile.

Don't really care if you referred to me or not. It's not helping anything to refer to adults as children.

But in any event, what I'm seeing going on in this thread is a blend of speculation and information. People are certainly spinning out scenarios, but few of them are totally without basis in precedent, nor is anyone laying down the definitive story as bestowed to them by the angels. It's a hugely fucked up situation, and people will speculate based on things we know, and things that have happened in the past. This is not the same as saying, "I know what's really happening."
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:29 PM on June 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Why are so many people in this thread insisting upon making statements that they cannot possibly know to be true? About the nature of these NSA storage facilities, about all manner of NSA activities, about rendition. We have far too few facts about these scandals to speak from complete ignorance with equally complete conviction. "I don't know" is the only honest answer for most of these questions. But instead, everyone tells you exactly how the NSA has wiggled around this question or that, how they're storing or processing data or whatever. It is not helpful.
We can't know because it's all secret, so all we can do is extrapolate from the available evidence, which clearly shows the NSA is collecting enormous amounts of data on American citizens and others - As far as wiggling out of questions, that's not even supposition. Clapper said in sworn testimony that they were not collecting data on millions of Americans, and that was a lie. Then he explicitly said himself how he "wiggled out of it", it's not a supposition that he did.
On Sunday, Clapper elaborated: "This has to do with of course somewhat of a semantic, perhaps some would say too cute by half. But it is—there are honest differences on the semantics of what—when someone says 'collection' to me, that has a specific meaning, which may have a different meaning to him."
posted by delmoi at 2:31 PM on June 10, 2013 [7 favorites]


That's a good explanation of the difference, thanks.

No problem! If that's indeed the kind of thing they're doing, there is still plenty of potential for abuse - in their choice of data sources, the kind of requests they're making from those sources, the "processing magic" step, the possibility of someone intercepting that variable's full contents before it's cleared, the security around the source code and the vetting of that code - I mean, how do non-experts in Congress even ask the right questions there? - etc... tons of potential issues. But it does allow someone to say they don't willingly store the raw data.
posted by jason_steakums at 2:41 PM on June 10, 2013


So, your argument is that (a) there are things we do know and ought to discuss, and (b) there are questions that we cannot yet answer at this point in the investigative process, and that therefore the best course is to discuss both (a) and (b) simultaneously, -- that in those cases where we do not know things, we are best served by speculating; that indeed, we have to speculate when we can't know something?

I would much prefer sticking to (a), because there are now people arguing in this thread about where and how the NSA is going to put a black bag on this guy's head. THAT is what I was referring to as needless speculation. No one can, in good faith, argue that we ought to be speculating about things that we cannot know, then argue with one another about those things as though our speculation were truth.

Furthermore, delmoi, your previous response to me accused me of being a naif who was giddy about seeing people's liberties stripped away from them. I suggest you may be struggling temporarily with that kind of illiteracy where you can only read words you yourself have written.

Marisa StPT, I'm sorry if I offended you -- or anyone else -- but anti-scientific thinking is going to help no one. This thread has become very confused as to what's been shown to have happened, and what people are speculating may have or may yet happen. It is counterproductive.

I'm sorry for the derail, but I think it's not too much to ask that people stop stating as fact those things that they literally cannot know, because, as delmoi said, they are secret.
posted by samofidelis at 2:43 PM on June 10, 2013


This would be an example of the forthrightness with which the leaders of the nation's intelligence services respond to lawful, robust oversight?

The thing I'm curious about is that Clapper admitted being deliberately untruthful about a statement given under oath. Isn't lying to a Senator a legal offense? Aren't people generally held in contempt (and worse) for doing this?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:43 PM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


National Security is where they decide to nuke the Soviet Union in order to preserve the American Way of life, for an example from my era.

ironmouth: The United States never nuked the Soviet Union.

Hmm. I guess my failure to communicate here resides in my opinion that contingency plans are decisions. Your experience at this NSA stuff ought to have made this clear: the missiles were in the silos, waiting for the decision boxes to line up that would send them on their way over the arctic. But, before we tweaked the guidance on the warheads, though, we had to dig the holes and train the officers who sat at the consoles, and come up with the physical keys and code keys and the security protocols. Before that we had to have the martial effontry to assume that this was the best of the choices available to us, should things go south. The policy, you recall, was Mutual Assured Destruction, and the decision was to put it in place. The decision to nuke the SU was made when those details turned into manned missile silos and B-52s in constant flight worldwide, plus the nuclear subs, global NSA listening posts, CIA and other assets in foreign nations that risked their lives to send out pictures of Back Rests and Fan Songs, so the analysts at Fort Meade could measure the antenna. Also, my area, several dozens of orbiting satellites that imaged or recorded stuff.

Now, time's passed, the details have changed, and my primitive electronic toys are all outmoded by factors I could barely imagine, but the mentality is the same. The MAD factor existed then, and it's evolved. The NSA is a collector, sure. They don't send out the teams of assassins or any of that shit. They don't parachute into enemy territory. That job is done by other members of the DoD. I am a prisoner of my own experiences: you create tools, and then you use them, is the way it works. I believe it was a fluke of history that the ICBMs weren't exchanged. But that's not really what we have here: now it's computers. A more up-to-date analogy to ICBM threat (as international political capital) resides in cyberspace.

If you think my example is a stretch, I invite you to consider the two devices we dropped on Japan. That event, though it remains controversial, can be defended, and I can sort of draw some parallels between newly emerging cyberspace presence and atomic weapons: we are threatened, the tool is fairly new, and we don't have much perspective with which to form a context. Hell, we still don't have a working theory about how nuclear weapons will be tolerated, used, or abandoned, we just don't want them to be in the hands of enemies crazy--or desperate--enough to use them.

I don't mean this as an endorsement of nuclear weapons. I am suggesting that our defense structure is sometimes crazy, but in general it is trying to defend us. This whole topic is laced with hidden arguments, and all the closets are stuffed with elephants and 500lb gorillas.

Fighting a wars in a just way, or fighting in a just war. Two different things, and they are always doomed to struggle against each other. The boundary is amorphous, and someone will always be dirty. Also, there will be heroes.

See, this is where you get back to the simple-minded versions of America. Unfortunately we get the options to see shades of grey, so we can be confused, can spend time on what's right and what's wrong. In the defense establishment, fewer shades of grey exist, because that's how the analysis works.

Snowden ran out of shades of grey, and he made a decision. I'd like to think I would have a similar set of brass balls. It's easy to jump off a chopper on a hot CA and run at the flashing lights. Not too much to decide. It would be harder, though, to lay the rifle down in basic training, and tell them to haul me away because I didn't believe in that stinking war.

How cool it would be if the moral imperative overtook the establishment this time. Probably won't happen though, for all the reasons we've seen exposed in this thread.
posted by mule98J at 2:45 PM on June 10, 2013 [7 favorites]


Prosecute Snowden, John Yoo, National Review, 10 June 2013
posted by ob1quixote at 2:47 PM on June 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think I just heard on NPR that Snowden has disappeared. He is no longer at the Hong Kong hotel. Did I hear that correctly?
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 2:58 PM on June 10, 2013


The NSA : The only part of the government that actually listens

Yea we want to hear you say it!
posted by jeffburdges at 3:01 PM on June 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think I just heard on NPR that Snowden has disappeared. He is no longer at the Hong Kong hotel. Did I hear that correctly?

Not seeing anything in my news feeds about this.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:13 PM on June 10, 2013


LA Times:Edward Snowden gone from Hong Kong hotel, whereabouts unknown

Also, if John Yoo is calling for prosecutions, I can think of at least one person who should go first.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:15 PM on June 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Raw Story: NSA whistleblower disappears from sight in Hong Kong
posted by Room 641-A at 3:16 PM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


“It informs our adversaries. It puts American companies at risk internationally for simply complying with our laws,” said Mike Hayden, a former director of the NSA and a former director of the CIA.

I'm not really clear on what their adversaries are being informed of that they would not have already suspected, but in terms of American companies being put at risk for complying? Fucking GOOD. Maybe American companies can start putting pressure on the government about it, seeing as they seem to have the government's ear more than the American people do.
posted by Hoopo at 3:16 PM on June 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


LA Times: Edward Snowden gone from Hong Kong hotel, whereabouts unknown

Holy shit.

Beatson said Monday night it is possible that Snowden boarded a plane from Hong Kong -- since there is no warrant for his arrest

This guy doesn't have a big time frame, but midday today in Hong Kong was about 18 hours ago. He could be anywhere by now.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:20 PM on June 10, 2013


Yes We Scan
posted by jeffburdges at 3:20 PM on June 10, 2013 [6 favorites]


"Prosecute Snowden, John Yoo, National Review, 10 June 2013"

Oh ffs. Alberto Gonzales: The Government Must Use All Available Technology to Protect Americans

Talk about unforeseen consequences. These fuckers are back??
posted by Room 641-A at 3:25 PM on June 10, 2013 [10 favorites]


Gjc wrote: If he violated an oath to protect information and broke it, he can be considered a traitor regardless of his motivations.

No, no he can't. Not in the USA:
Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.
Article III, Section 3, Clause 1 of the Constitution of the United States.
It might turn out that Snowden actually has chosen to attack the United States, or has chosen to help its enemies by giving them aid or comfort, but merely violating an oath" isn't treachery per se. That is presuming he did break an oath, which we don't actually know. Also, you can be a traitor without "violating an oath": if Bob Random American joins Al-Qaeda he's a traitor to the United States, even if he was born in the USA and never took any oath to serve or defend it.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:27 PM on June 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Delmoi, you're being a crank and you know it. If you want I can teach you about metaphor... Except, no, I won't, because you're painfully obstinate and your favourite hobby is to willfully misunderstand people. That's not 'what the fuck I'm talking about,' but it seems an appropriate response to your noise. --samofidelis
If you want people to understand you write clearly. Obviously you think there is some kind of conspiracy theory, but since you haven't said what it was, there's no way to evaluate it.

The only specific example was that Clapper contorted the meaning of the word "collect" without telling anyone so he could "truthfully" answer "no" to a question in congress when we now know the truth was "yes". But as I said, that's not supposition, that's something Clapper said himself in an interview.

So it seems like you haven't caught up with the story and are attacking people for repeating things that have been confirmed by the DNI himself. Maybe the other things you think are "conspiracy theories" at this point are also true. That's why I asked: what the fuck are you talking about?

Apparently you weren't talking about anything at all, since you obviously have no answer.
But you can't say with a straight face that most of this discussion hasn't spun off into different camps of speculators arguing about their pet theories. It's juvenile. -- samofidelis
Well, it's pretty easy since you don't have any actual examples at all. Maybe there were one or two crazy posts but I don't really remember them.

The only substantive post you made was to attack the WaPo's journalism because they didn't take the tech companies denials at face value in the first draft of their article, even though they did include them. Then you said we should be patient and wait for more journalists to investigate, even though that's impossible because all the data is classified and they'd have no way to investigate, other then to get other leaks from other people willing to give up everything like this guy did.

Every other comment from you has been nothing but attacking other posters.

___
I would much prefer sticking to (a), because there are now people arguing in this thread about where and how the NSA is going to put a black bag on this guy's head. THAT is what I was referring to as needless speculation. -- samofidelis
People were speculating about what his fears might be and why he decided to leave the country for Hong Kong. While that sort of speculation wouldn't help us, it would certainly be something that he would be concerned about.
Furthermore, delmoi, your previous response to me accused me of being a naif who was giddy about seeing people's liberties stripped away from them. I suggest you may be struggling temporarily with that kind of illiteracy -- samofidelis
That's false, and it's ironic that you would accuse me of illiteracy when you weren't even able to read what I wrote correctly, which was this:
Only children refer to adults as "grownups", and indeed it's a childish trope – the idea that anyone who believes in freedom and privacy and not killing people in wars or whatever other ideals is just a childish naïf, and that only responsible, mature, people unencumbered by any moral sentiment should make decisions.
I didn't call you a naïf, I said that was what you were accusing other people of being. I did say that was childish, and it is.
but anti-scientific thinking is going to help no one. -- samofidelis
I don't think you understand how science actually works, you have to be able to do repeatable experiments. Journalism isn't science, and this can't be studied "scientifically" unless all the details are declassified, and since that isn't going to happen we can only speculate and wait for more leaks from other people with their own agendas.
I'm sorry for the derail, but I think it's not too much to ask that people stop stating as fact those things that they literally cannot know, because, as delmoi said, they are secret. -- samofidelis
Your only examples were things that we actually do know is true, that Clapper lied to congress and how he justified it, and that the US Government has in the past kidnapped people, and that it wouldn't be unexpected that this guy might take that into consideration when planning his moves - it may be 'speculation' but when it's your life on the line most sensible people are going to 'speculate' about potential risks and think about how to avoid them.
posted by delmoi at 3:28 PM on June 10, 2013 [6 favorites]


Thank NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden
posted by jeffburdges at 3:29 PM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


It should be added that he was last seen at around noon today, Hong Long time. He could have been gone considerably earlier, as the hotel staff said they can only confirm he was in the hotel the previous night. As the LA Times article mentioned, he could have speedboated out, and from there, who knows? He certainly has a big head start, and no warrant out for his arrest at the time that article was written.

Well, hope he turns up safe.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:34 PM on June 10, 2013


[delmoi/samofidelis, consider taking this to MeMail?]
posted by jessamyn at 3:36 PM on June 10, 2013


If you want people to understand you write clearly. Obviously you think there is some kind of conspiracy theory, but since you haven't said what it was, there's no way to evaluate it.

This is nonsense. You're constructing straw men so that you can argue. I was specifically asking people to curtail speculation. I'm not wasting any more time on you.
posted by samofidelis at 3:37 PM on June 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


It should be added that he was last seen at around noon today, Hong Long time. He could have been gone considerably earlier

Wait, no, I'm an idiot.

Still, an 18-hour head start isn't too shabby. Assuming it was a head start.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:38 PM on June 10, 2013


Damn, I hope he is safe and okay. What he did was heroic.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 3:40 PM on June 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


This might have something to do with it:
Regina Ip, chair of the pro-Beijing New People’s Party and formerly Hong Kong’s security secretary, said the city was “definitely not a safe harbour” for the NSA contractor, whom Washington lawmakers have demanded be returned to the US for prosecution.

Ms Ip told reporters the city would be “obliged to comply with the terms” of the extradition treaty between Hong Kong and the US, which was signed in 1997, should the US submit an official extradition request. “It’s actually in his best interest to leave Hong Kong,” she said.
So it will be interesting to see what happens with him next. I'm sure there are plenty of countries who would be willing to take him in if he gives up information. We may never hear about it.
posted by delmoi at 4:01 PM on June 10, 2013


During this little thread intermission, I thought it might be nice to recall Obama's words from 2008:

"often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government is an existing government employee committed to public integrity and willing to speak out,"

and he hailed whistleblowing as:

"acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled as they have been during the Bush administration."
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 4:03 PM on June 10, 2013 [20 favorites]


Does anybody really think there exists an electoral or legislative way to prevent or reverse what's happening here?

No you can't.
posted by de at 4:08 PM on June 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


What about amending FISA again?
posted by Golden Eternity at 4:19 PM on June 10, 2013


"acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled as they have been during the Bush administration."
The thing is, Bush didn't really go after whistle-blowers with nearly the same fervor as Obama has, at least not from what I remember. Thomas Drake whistle-blew in 2005, but wasn't indicted until 2010 when Obama was in charge, although apparently there was an FBI raid in 2007.

In fact, his wikipedia article has a good example why people might be afraid to use the formal reporting mechanism:
In July 2007, armed FBI agents raided the homes of Roark, Binney, and Wiebe, the same people who had filed the complaint with the DoD Inspector General in 2002.[27] Binney claims they pointed guns at his wife and himself. Wiebe said it reminded him of the Soviet Union.[21] None of these people were charged with any crimes. In November 2007, there was a raid on Drake's residence.
So in other words, people who tried to do things the "right" way ended up being persecuted when the program went public. Doesn't seem very safe to me.
posted by delmoi at 4:21 PM on June 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


I wonder how much of this is driven by greed and the revolving door between Intelligence and the Inteligence Contractors who make money off this stuff. I mean, they list only two plots, one involved the Mumbai attack that happened anyway, and another was one guy with Taliban ties buying peroxide. Hardly anything that could justify all of this.
posted by delmoi at 4:25 PM on June 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't think the UK side of things has been covered here much. The UK administration may have evaded legal restrictions on surveillance by using PRISM as a sort of backdoor route. William Hague, the UK Foreign Secretary, has acted robustly to quiet those fears by explaining that firstly the idea is "fanciful"; secondly it never actually happened; and, thirdly, law-abiding citizens have nothing to fear from surveillance.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:30 PM on June 10, 2013


Remember When Supreme Court Rejected Review Of FISA Amendments Act, Because It Was 'Too Speculative' That Plaintiffs Were Being Monitored?
posted by homunculus at 4:39 PM on June 10, 2013 [6 favorites]


Public Documents Contradict Claim Email Spying Foiled Terror Plot: Defenders of “PRISM” say it stopped subway bombings. But British and American court documents suggest old-fashioned police work nabbed Zazi.
posted by homunculus at 4:44 PM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Too bad Snowden outted himself so early in the story cycle.

Agreed, but seemingly time was a luxury he couldn't afford. I'll absolutely listen to the public scrutiny and smear campaigns if it means that the attention of the world provides him some degree of safety.
posted by clearly at 5:20 PM on June 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Chris Hayes reported that the NSA was tracking him immediately after he left the country last month. Outing himself was completely besides the point, and maybe was in his best interest.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 5:26 PM on June 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Imagine the potential for blackmail under PRISM.
posted by anemone of the state at 5:27 PM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Imagine the potential for blackmail under PRISM.
I was thinking about that - even if you were totally, 100% 'clean' yourself, with PRISM you could look into someone's friends, find dirt on them and threaten to expose people the target cares about
posted by delmoi at 5:43 PM on June 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Sales of George Orwell’s ’1984′ up 69 percent on Amazon
posted by homunculus at 5:47 PM on June 10, 2013 [6 favorites]


I hope they never find him.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:04 PM on June 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


I wonder how much of this is driven by greed and the revolving door between Intelligence and the Inteligence Contractors who make money off this stuff.

Well, yeah. Snowden worked for Booz Allen Hamilton, a "systems integrator" that works as a contractor to all of these super-secret squirrel agencies.

I hung out at a boring conference with a "Booz" employee a few years ago. Super interesting guy, super spooky company. "If you ever come across any technology that might be of use to the US government, don't hesitate to contact me."
posted by KokuRyu at 6:07 PM on June 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


With two news releases today emphasizing women's rights—a Daily Snapshot titled "The Right to Equal Pay for Equal Work," then the announcement of plans to end morning-after pill restrictions—it feels pretty clear which direction the White House is trying to spin the narrative right now. "Look over here! We're still strong on social policy! And healthcare! Love your government, millennials!"
posted by limeonaire at 6:19 PM on June 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Prosecution is only a multivariate analysis away.
posted by ryoshu at 6:40 PM on June 10, 2013


With two news releases today emphasizing women's rights—a Daily Snapshot titled "The Right to Equal Pay for Equal Work," then the announcement of plans to end morning-after pill restrictions—it feels pretty clear which direction the White House is trying to spin the narrative right now. "Look over here! We're still strong on social policy! And healthcare! Love your government, millennials!"

That seemed to be what Obama's pre-election "evolution" on gay marriage was about. Great news for a great many people, but cynical as hell.

Every progressive policy the man actually goes forward on is a carefully-calculated move in order to keep the left voting Democrat instead of some other party that doesn't support ubiquitous spying or blowing up children with drones.
posted by anemone of the state at 6:44 PM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Former Booz Allen Hamilton employee here. Booz is going to come out of this smelling like roses. If this guy was with Booz for only 3 months, that probably wasn't enough time to transfer his clearance from his last job to this one. He spent at least 6 weeks on the beach doing nothing work-related, and that's after his week-long "intro to Booz" training. Then transition to the job, which was probably the exact same job/cube he was in before joining Booz, then we're down to a few weeks as a revenue-generating BAH employee.

The more interesting story is where and when he downloaded his data. I'd like to know what secure facility he walked out of with his USB drive full of fun powerpoint files.

Oh, and if you think Booz is the only company doing this, you are incorrect. EVERY contracting/consulting firm in DC wants a piece of the security action. You think those 24 year olds driving new porsches are doing healthcare work? The average US citizen has no idea about the volume of money sloshing around DC, and lots of it's security-theatre related.
posted by Farce_First at 6:44 PM on June 10, 2013 [15 favorites]


CBC's As It Happens* had a great interview tonight with Christopher Pyle, who blew the whistle on the US Army's domestic spying campaign in January 1970. Here's a prescient column he wrote just over a decade ago about domestic spying.

*Don't mind Carol Off's lifeless presence as an interviewer. At least she's better than dopey Jeff Douglas
posted by KokuRyu at 6:47 PM on June 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Jeff Toobin calls him a “a grandiose narcissist who deserves to be in prison.”
posted by delmoi at 6:52 PM on June 10, 2013


takes one to... too easy.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:04 PM on June 10, 2013


I hope they never find him.

I'm more worried we never find him alive again.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:07 PM on June 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


[One comment deleted; let's skip linking to topless pics of some woman who might or might not be his girlfriend.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:11 PM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Spy Court Urged to Unmask Legal Basis for NSA Dragnet Phone Surveillance
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:12 PM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Which party would that be, anemone? You wonder why he bothers. Maybe it gives him something to tell himself after a long day reviewing drone kill reports.
posted by emjaybee at 7:18 PM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


But there's another side to this that makes me worried and that's little thing that's popped up in a corner of East London: #Guardiancoffee. Yes, the Guardian have opened up a cafe in a trendy corner of London as a pop-up store* that's mainly there to be tweeted about. I've been there myself and it's as irritating as it sounds, something that's been agreed to by a committee of out-of-touch, more than slightly desperate managers.

I can totally believe the implementation is naff but if I recall correctly, pubs & newspaper companies have long been deeply intertwined in the history of British journalism, to the point where some newspapers owned their own pub open to their own staff and the public. so this coffee house idea isn't *that* weird
posted by Bwithh at 7:23 PM on June 10, 2013


This guy is a hero. I don't know what I was expecting, but he was surprisingly eloquent, and it's telling that he gave up a pretty good life . . . for what was, evidently and essentially, an Ayenbite of Inwit-- the nagging of his conscience.
posted by exlotuseater at 7:46 PM on June 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ironmouth: The CIA and NSA Inspectors General have robust whistleblower programs. I was taught national security law by the Deputy Inspector General for the CIA.

The apple is a pear. The eagle has purple feet.

If there were no violations of law, why does one high-school dropout get to decide what gets revealed to the entire world?

THAT is the smears beginning.

Didn't we vote someone in to make these decisions and if so why is this guy allowed to undo them?

Who the hell knows if we did vote them in if you can't even name him!
posted by JHarris at 7:46 PM on June 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


(Glenn Greenwald is a hero, too)
posted by exlotuseater at 7:46 PM on June 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


Public Documents Contradict Claim Email Spying Foiled Terror Plot: Defenders of “PRISM” say it stopped subway bombings. But British and American court documents suggest old-fashioned police work nabbed Zazi.

For me, the most mind-blowing thing is this: I was wondering yesterday how they would have prosecuted the subway plot without revealing the existence of PRISM. I couldn't find an answer. And now Buzzfeed has provided one. Buzzfeed.

The fact that PRISM may not have been integral to the investigation? About as surprising as the The Sixth Sense plot twist on your second viewing.
posted by compartment at 7:51 PM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


More People On Twitter Describe Edward Snowden As A Hero Than A Traitor
posted by delmoi at 8:08 PM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


For me, the most mind-blowing thing is this: I was wondering yesterday how they would have prosecuted the subway plot without revealing the existence of PRISM. I couldn't find an answer. And now Buzzfeed has provided one. Buzzfeed.

The fact that PRISM may not have been integral to the investigation?
Either that, or they withheld evidence in court, meaning these people could be freed on appeal, assuming the legal system is actually working.
posted by delmoi at 8:10 PM on June 10, 2013


Buzzfeed describes PRISM as a data-mining program, but my read of the PPT slides is that is not data-mining but a program to be able to get emails, chats, etc. of specified targets quickly from several providers. Which appears to be what was instrumental in the subway bombings investigation.
posted by nightwood at 8:11 PM on June 10, 2013


Presumably it could be used to get data for mining.
posted by delmoi at 8:16 PM on June 10, 2013


The powerpoint says that PRISM costs $20M/year to operate. If PRISM can data mine the email, chat, video, voice and file transfers from Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, Apple, Facebook, Youtube, Skype, etc. for $20M/year. Then PRISM may be the most cost efficient federal program in the history of this country.
posted by nightwood at 8:28 PM on June 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


The powerpoint says that PRISM costs $20M/year to operate. If PRISM can data mine the email, chat, video, voice and file transfers from Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, Apple, Facebook, Youtube, Skype, etc. for $20M/year. Then PRISM may be the most cost efficient federal program in the history of this country.

Post Office.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:34 PM on June 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


> This is not the country I grew up in.

It sure as shit is. Your profile says you like Atari 8-bit, so maybe you & I are are about the same age (I'm 45, learned assembly on an Atari 400). Perhaps most of the most heinous stuff that's been done in the name of keeping a 200-300 million person country on top that we know about was done to non-Americans. Plenty of pretty awful stuff was done to US Citizens, too.
COINTELPRO, Operation Ajax, the FBI investigating MLK, assassinations of Black Panthers, Unethical human experimentation, some of which happened in my lifetime & took 30 years to get a full accounting.

Is it the asylum seeking? Ellsberg was hounded for leaking the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times. Snowden gets to you but Manning's treatment wasn't a surprise?

Remember, the evil compromise of the FISA court which allows secret evidence, happened because of the Church Committee investigated 4th amendment abuses by the US intelligence industrial complex.

I work for one of the Prism 9. This whole thing makes me sick at heart. Do I think a company that big could do much better? Nope. Bigness tries to sustain itself without regard, or even knowledge, of the damage it does. I thought when I get my kid college educated, I'd semi-retire & fiddle with Arduinos, but that underground career monkeywrenching fracking operations is looking like the only moral option.
posted by morganw at 8:54 PM on June 10, 2013 [9 favorites]


Is there a statute of limitations for disclosing classified information? If not, someone should ask Obama why he's not prosecuting, say, Daniel Ellsberg.
posted by Tsuga at 8:56 PM on June 10, 2013


I believe the $20 million is the budget to run the ETL infrastructure and is just to get the data inside the NSA. Once the data is there, then we can talk about much larger budgets and a multitude of projects/code-names (I'm speculating).

I'd be surprised if that $20 million encompassed the entire operational cost since I'm guessing that PRISM is built upon existing infrastructure.
posted by kuatto at 8:56 PM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Buzzfeed describes PRISM as a data-mining program, but my read of the PPT slides is that is not data-mining but a program to be able to get emails, chats, etc. of specified targets quickly from several providers.

Sorry, your read is wrong.

Signals Intelligence (which is what the NSA was started for) is concerned as much or more with communications metadata as with communications content.

In a tactical military situation, even if I cannot decrypt enemy communications (or if I can and they are banal: "Holding position. Send more MREs"), it's of great interest to me if I can determine that one set of messages always comes from due North, and a distinct set is transmitted form due East. Banal or not, I can conclude I face at least two enemy units. If I can tell that the radio frequency or power transmission profiles of the Northern messages match those of tank company, and those more closely approximate what I'd expect from a an infantry platoon, I have an even better idea of what I'm facing.

If my opponents are using a one time pad or even a code book, I can't reliably know if "Let's get hotdogs tomorrow" means "the revolution has started" or "everybody bug out".

In a civilian setting, if I know that every time Jack phones Bobby, Bobby within the next fifteen minutes calls Edgar and Sam, and five minutes of receiving Bobby's call, Edgar calls Clyde, I may have a good idea of the structure and size of my opponents' organization. I may even have a better idea of it than my opponents do, assuming they're following good security compartmentalization. And I may know that even if I can't intercept Jack, intercepting Bobby will allow me to roll up his organization. Without ever having to figure out what "Let's get hotdogs tomorrow" means.

Data-mining is the process of taking massive amounts of data (every American's every phone call to any one else) and sifting it for patterns. Finding social networks (graphs), whether they are criminal or not. And there's a rub. A guy cheating on his wife (or preparing to leave his job for a startup, or start a new church) may look very similar to someone trying to set up a terrorist organization. Equally easy for innocents to be swept up with the guilty: if Peter is calling you to join his steering committee to run for Congress, and he's also calling Seamus to co-ordinate raising funds for the IRA, well, both you and Seamus are (to borrow from the Social Networking sites) "In Peter's network".

Data mining isn't about reading the messages (again, a good criminal organization will make the messages innocuous or coded, in ways than cannot be easily decoded). It's about knowing who talks to to whom. Unfortunately, than means lots of false positives (anyone reminded of the no-fly list?) and lots of "the algorithm picked him out, we don't even know why, but the machine told us to open an investigation of him". And then you're under suspicion until and unless an algorithm "finds" you not-guilty. Which of course never ever happens, because they'd rather a thousand false positives than one false negative that results in a terrorist incident and political consequences for them.
posted by orthogonality at 9:01 PM on June 10, 2013 [21 favorites]


Orthogonality, I believe you're talking about program that includes collecing the Verizon data - which does appear to be data-mining. PRISM is described as delivering the content, not (just) the metadata. But even so, the metadata from all of those sources would be huge and very costly to ETL.
posted by nightwood at 9:08 PM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sure, PRISM would be the pipe, the actual mining would be done by other programs, who's names we don't know.
posted by delmoi at 9:12 PM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Using Metadata to Find Paul Revere
Notice again, I beg you, what we did there. We did not start with a “social networke” as you might ordinarily think of it, where individuals are connected to other individuals. We started with a list of memberships in various organizations. But now suddenly we do have a social network of individuals, where a tie in the network is defined by co-membership in an organization. This is a powerful trick.

We are just getting started, however...
posted by tonycpsu at 9:14 PM on June 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


The Logic Of The Surveillance State
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:18 PM on June 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


This bit from the link directly above warrants quoting:

What is being run right now is a vast experiment to see if modern technology has fixed these problems with surveillance and oppressive states. Is it cheap enough to go full Stasi, and with that level of surveillance can you keep control over the economy, keep the levers working, make people do what you want, and not all slack off and resist passively, by only going through the motions?

The oligarchs are betting that the technology has made that change. With the end of serious war between primary nations (enforced by nukes, among other things), with the creation of a transnational ruling class, and with the ability to scale surveillance, it may be possible to take and keep control indefinitely, and bypass the well understood problems of oligarchy and police and surveillance states.

posted by anemone of the state at 9:30 PM on June 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Look at this bizzare little vandalism on the CIA IG Wikipedia page:

"David B. Buckley 2010 October- present
Kanyenze Shelton has hereby been approved by the Board in cognaissance of his well-recognised and earned profile as an official recruit of the C.I.A. Further details of his recruitment shall be E-mailed to him promptly."

link
posted by Ironmouth at 9:57 PM on June 10, 2013


In addition to the previously mentioned White House petition to Pardon Edward Snowden (Fast approaching 40,000 signatures since being made yesterday), there's a new petition to Declassify and Discontinue Government Surveillance of Phone Records and Internet Activity:

We believe that--

The Fourth Amendment prohibits unwarranted surveillance of electronic data;

Secret warrants are appropriate on a case-by-case basis, but no secret court order can create a general surveillance regime;

Rampant government secrecy, even with internal checks and balances, defeats the principle of government by the people, so oversight conducted in secret is grossly inadequate;

Publicizing the scope of surveillance programs may make criminals more difficult to catch, and we accept that risk.

We therefore request that the President--

Suspend the PRISM program and collection of Verizon metadata; and

Declassify the procedures and legal basis for these surveillance programs, so that the American people may review them and exercise our fundamental right to self-government.
posted by Tsuga at 10:17 PM on June 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


Opt out of PRISM
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:24 PM on June 10, 2013 [6 favorites]


This hasn't been brought up yet, but I wouldn't place any trust in encryption to shield you and your communications from the NSA.

This is pure conjecture on my part, but I strongly believe that it will turn out that the NSA has found a solution that transforms the factoring of large primes from an NP-complete problem into a trivial one. If that is the case, all shared-key cryptography would be broken and about as easy for them to read as plain text.
posted by double block and bleed at 10:30 PM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Tom Tomorrow: The Five Stages of Living in a National Surveillance State
posted by tonycpsu at 10:35 PM on June 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


The NSA has a history of being ahead of the world in cryptography, but.. there are much easier ways to circumvent cryptography than a constructive proof that P=NP (the impact of which would be like dropping an atom bomb on theoretical computer science).
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 10:47 PM on June 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


qxntpqbbbqxl: "The NSA has a history of being ahead of the world in cryptography, but.. there are much easier ways to circumvent cryptography than a constructive proof that P=NP (the impact of which would be like dropping an atom bomb on theoretical computer science)."

Not if they they don't tell anyone. Like I said, pure conjecture on my part.

It probably would be easier to just show up at places like RSA, subpoena the codes and then slap a gag order on them.
posted by double block and bleed at 10:57 PM on June 10, 2013


The NSA is apparently getting huge volumes of data from Jordan, India, and Iran. This can't be because they have cooperative ISPs in these countries; they must have subverted their Internet hardware. Given widespread intrusions of this sort I don't think they need to have made any great advances in number theory: they have access to all unencrypted data plus everything with weak encryption, and people using strong encryption are (a) drawing attention to themselves and (b) unlikely to be skilled and paranoid enough to prevent the NSA doing something like land a key-logger on their hardware. In the event that they run up against Richard Stallman they can either use rubber-hose cryptanalysis on him or just get everyone to point and laugh at the paranoid bearded weirdo.
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:18 PM on June 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


The NSA is hiring...
“If you routinely visit network security websites, attend conferences, or maintain your own network we would like to talk to you!”
...and looking for future recruits:
The CryptoKids gang also includes Crypto Cat, Decipher Dog, Rosetta Stone, and T.Top, a goateed programmer turtle. Their "advisor" is a fatigue-wearing eagle named CSS Sam (CSS stands for Central Security Service), just in case you forgot whom the NSA works for.
posted by Room 641-A at 11:32 PM on June 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


The NSA is apparently getting huge volumes of data from Jordan, India, and Iran. This can't be because they have cooperative ISPs in these countries; they must have subverted their Internet hardware.

In 2008 there were a series of breaks in the undersea fiber optic cables that connected Iran to the rest of the world. The speculation was that the cables were tapped while they were intentionally broken. Here's a Wikipedia article on the cable breaks:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2008_submarine_cable_disruption

And here is a pre-9/11 article describing the NSA's ability to tap undersea cables:

http://www.zdnet.com/news/spy-agency-taps-into-undersea-cable/115877

The article describes an instance in the mid-1990s which was complicated by "the inability to make sense of the vast flood of data unleashed by the tap". The NSA has since had time to get better at that.
posted by compartment at 12:18 AM on June 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


The CryptoKids gang also includes Crypto Cat, Decipher Dog, Rosetta Stone, and T.Top, a goateed programmer turtle....

Aww, do they befriend young orphaned Pavlik Morozov?
posted by orthogonality at 12:27 AM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Top Ten Ways the US Government will Smear, Slight Whistleblower Edward Snowden.
posted by adamvasco at 1:29 AM on June 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


John Oliver's first bit on the Daily Show last night was terrific: "Good News: You're Not Paranoid." "Brought to you by tinfoil; why not wear it as a hat?" He even identified it as worse than Orwell.

"I think you're misunderstanding the perceived problem here Mr. President. No one is saying that you broke any laws. We're just saying, it's a little bit weird that you didn't have to."
posted by JHarris at 2:26 AM on June 11, 2013 [10 favorites]


Watching MSNBC this morning, I see that they're on board with a low-intensity smear campaign against Snowden. So, I guess the fix is in.
posted by wintermind at 3:29 AM on June 11, 2013


NPR is reporting this morning that a PEW poll found that 56% of Americans support the government surveillance.

wtf.
posted by futz at 3:56 AM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


56% of Americans support the government surveillance

Matters of Constitutional rights aren't subject to popular opinion. Unfortunately, they also seem not to be subject to judicial review, either.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 4:00 AM on June 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


Snowden is a kind of hero, I reckon. I hope that whatever happens -- and I'm very keen to see what does, because this is a manifestation of a thing I have cared deeply about for a long time -- he is remembered as such by history. There is nothing more honorable than risking your life to expose the wrongdoing of the powerful for no reward beyond the satisfaction of the need to follow the dictates of your conscience.

Were I religious man, and the praying kind of religious man, I'd pray for him. As it stands, well, I'm thinking a lot about things I can actually do to add fuel to the fire he's started.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:12 AM on June 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


tonycpsu: “Using Metadata to Find Paul Revere”
This is great.
posted by ob1quixote at 4:41 AM on June 11, 2013


futz: “NPR is reporting this morning that a PEW poll found that 56% of Americans support the government surveillance.

wtf.”
Majority Views NSA Phone Tracking as Acceptable Anti-terror Tactic, Pew Research Center, 10 June 2013

New Poll Says American Public is Fine With NSA Surveillance, Kevin Drum, Mother Jones, 10 June 2013

N.S.A. Monitoring and Partisan Hypocrisy, Juliet Lapidos, The New York Times Taking Note, 10 June 2013
posted by ob1quixote at 4:51 AM on June 11, 2013


I'm waiting for Pew to poll me and the rest of the world who are not US citizens to see how we feel about this.
posted by infini at 5:26 AM on June 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


On Monday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel confirmed through a spokesman that she plans to discuss the NSA's controversial data surveillance program with President Obama during his visit to Berlin next week. A spokesperson for the German Justice Ministry also said that talks are currently underway with US authorities. The discussions will include implications to Germany and "possible impairment of the rights of German citizens."

German Consumer Protection Minister Ilse Aigner has called for "clear answers" from the companies implicated in the document, and the German Green Party has demanded that the government investigate the circumstances of Prism immediately.

"Total surveillance of all German citizens by the NSA is completely disproportionate," Volker Beck, secretary of the Green Party group in parliament, said on Monday. The party has proposed that the topic be discussed at next week's parliamentary session.
Spiegel.
posted by infini at 5:30 AM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Total surveillance of all German citizens by the NSA? I hope that's a mis-translation. Because I don't see the current revelations showing that.
posted by nightwood at 5:33 AM on June 11, 2013


The Daily Beast: Inside the ‘Q Group,’ the Directorate Hunting Down Edward Snowden
The impact of the leak inside the NSA has been enormous. “There is complete freakout mode at the agency right now,” one former intelligence officer tells The Daily Beast. “There has never been anything like this in terms of the speed of referral of a crime report to the Justice Department. Normally this kind of thing takes weeks and weeks.”
posted by the man of twists and turns at 5:35 AM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Welp.

Hey, how about if Amazon could get jacked into all of this metadata. Because my product recommendations are not very good these days. It could be all the ad blockers and cookie busters and "incognito" (im cry lol) tabs I use.

Since the NSA bypasses all that stuff, and I don't have any choice in the matter anyway, it would be super great, you know, if there was an upside for me personally.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:39 AM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


nightwood: “Total surveillance of all German citizens by the NSA? I hope that's a mis-translation. Because I don't see the current revelations showing that.”
My correspondent on the Continent told me this morning about people coming forward and saying they were detained and questioned after arriving in the U.S. and being confronted in these interrogations with print-outs of theoretically private conversations from e-mail and Facebook. Still scrounging for links.
posted by ob1quixote at 5:46 AM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Small update regarding Snowden and Iceland:

This article (in Icelandic) reports that a parliamentary proposal* from 2010 - which calls, among other things, for Iceland to be a safe haven for whistleblowers - is supported by the current prime minister.

*Differs from a law in that it's more like "here's a thing the government should be working towards doing". It can be a sort of precursor to legislation but, as in the case with this proposal, can also be a policy statement that is voted on.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:49 AM on June 11, 2013


David Brooks, New York Times: The Solitary Leaker
Though thoughtful, morally engaged and deeply committed to his beliefs, he appears to be a product of one of the more unfortunate trends of the age: the atomization of society, the loosening of social bonds, the apparently growing share of young men in their 20s who are living technological existences in the fuzzy land between their childhood institutions and adult family commitments.

If you live a life unshaped by the mediating institutions of civil society, perhaps it makes sense to see the world a certain way: Life is not embedded in a series of gently gradated authoritative structures: family, neighborhood, religious group, state, nation and world. Instead, it’s just the solitary naked individual and the gigantic and menacing state.
emptywheel: If Wanting to Reveal that All Americans’ Metadata Gets Swept Up Is Treason, Edward Snowden Is in Distinguished Custody
What Snowden released on Section 215 — just a single 215 order to Verizon, without details on how this information is used — is far, far less than what DOJ and ODNI and Lisa Monaco pledged to try to release. Given that the collection is targeted on every single American indiscriminately, it won’t tell the bad guys anything (except that they’ve been sucked into the same dragnet the rest of us have). And while it shows that FBI submits the order but the data gets delivered to NSA (which has some interesting implications), that’s a source and method to game the law, not the source or method used to identify terrorists.

So if Snowden committed treason, he did so doing far less than top members of our National Security establishment promised to do.
Corrente: Who Are We And Why Don't We Have Any Sense Of Proportion About Terrorism?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:03 AM on June 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Watching MSNBC this morning, I see that they're on board with a low-intensity smear campaign against Snowden. So, I guess the fix is in.

They started with the smear campaign yesterday. They gave Tim Pawlenty center stage yesterday afternoon where he kept repeating the "high school drop out" thing. And it was all uncritically swallowed by the host, Alex Wagner. MSNBC should stick to their prison and silly video fetish 22 hours of every day. The other 2 hours should be for Chris Hayes and Rachel Maddow.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 6:04 AM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


US-Beamte schickten Deutsche nach Facebook-Mails zurück, Lotte-Lene Burkhard, Der Westen, 07 June 2013
[Google Auto-translation]
Against an agreed allowance Jana should take care of the children. Besides, she wanted to attend a language course to improve their English. With their prospective host-father had regular contact via Facebook.

Than the high school graduate finally landed in the U.S., it was taken away and questioned at passport control at the airport. The officials of the U.S. Immigration authorities wanted to know the nature of the visit and how long they would stay.

Jana was prepared for such questions. She wanted to visit her parents and friends do an English course. Whether they be sure?, Officials wanted to know. Yes, she was sure. Whether they should also be sure?

Finally, the officials baffled Jana submitted a printout of the entire Facebook correspondence with their host-father. My complaint: the young woman wanted to work illegally in the States. The authorities had Janas private messages in the social network Facebook apparently read along for weeks. Jana was not allowed to enter. The next flight brought the 18-year-old returned to Germany.
posted by ob1quixote at 6:11 AM on June 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


This is pure conjecture on my part, but I strongly believe that it will turn out that the NSA has found a solution that transforms the factoring of large primes from an NP-complete problem into a trivial one. If that is the case, all shared-key cryptography would be broken and about as easy for them to read as plain text.

Factoring integers that are the result of multiplying two large primes is not known to be an NP-complete problem. A fast solution would be far less surprising than a general constructive proof that P=NP. Depending on the achievable speed-up, it could destroy RSA, but there are other publicy-key cryptography algorithms that rely on other problems that could be used instead.

One problem I see with your conjecture is that these signal intelligence agencies often have a dual role: On the one hand they are tasked with cracking everybody elses codes, on the other hand they should help the government and companies to use secure communications and storage as well. If they had determined that RSA is flat-out broken, what guarantee is there that the Chinese or other countries have not discovered that as well?

The effect of the leak is not so much that now the "smart bad guys" know specifics about the intercept capabilities, but that there is now a massively publicized discussion that leads to the "dumb bad guys" starting to maybe become a little more sophisticated. Before, those could be caught without even having to crack any encryption at all. And you can deduce a massive amount of information just from the meta-data of communication anyway, without having to comb through the contents at all.


It probably would be easier to just show up at places like RSA, subpoena the codes and then slap a gag order on them.

That's not how (good) cryptography works, the vendor should not have any way to access the customer's keys.
posted by ltl at 6:17 AM on June 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


ob1quixote, there have been quite a few articles like this about Germans being rejected at the border due to some social network activity. However, they are often light on specifics and you have to trust both the journalist and the person to get important technical distinctions right, i.e., whether the communication in question was public or private. It would be incredibly dumb to risk exposing the intelligence gathering capabilities in social networks just so some immigration official could deny some au-pair teenager entry into the US.
posted by ltl at 6:24 AM on June 11, 2013


Wow, what the hell David Brooks. Missing the point.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:29 AM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


That David Brooks thing is like a work of art. If only Snowden had left the democratic norms governing the NSA alone!
posted by gerryblog at 6:37 AM on June 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


The CIA and NSA Inspectors General have robust whistleblower programs.

This claim has already been addressed in general terms, but I just listened to an interview with William Binney, a whistleblower and a former employee of the NSA for nearly 40 years. Here's what happened to him, in his own words:
WILLIAM BINNEY: I had direct evidence that they were doing it, so I just couldn’t—I couldn’t stay there. I couldn’t be a party to that. And what I did after that was tried—I went to the intelligence committees first to try to get them alerted to it, so they would try—address it. I mean, their responsibility was to prevent the intelligence community from spying on U.S. citizens, based on the FISA laws. And after that, when that didn’t work, I even tried, with Diane Roark and others, to address this issue to the Chief Justice Rehnquist of the Supreme Court. But we weren’t able to do that. And so, eventually, I tried the—as well as Kirk Wiebe and I, we both tried to get to the Department of Justice inspector general’s office and alert them to this and say there are ways to do it without violating all the U.S. citizens’ privacy. But that wasn’t what the government wanted to do ... I tried to work internally in the government to get people to do something about it, but that whole process failed. So what it did was it alerted them to what I was doing, and they targeted me with the FBI, and they attempted to falsely prosecute me. Fortunately, I was able to get evidence of malicious prosecution every time, so they finally backed off trying to prosecute me.

AMY GOODMAN: If you would briefly, though I don’t like to have you relive this, tell us what actually happened to you, with the FBI raiding your home.

WILLIAM BINNEY: Well, they came in, and there were like 12 FBI agents with their guns drawn, and came in. My son opened the door, let them in, and they pushed him out of the way at gunpoint. And they came upstairs to where my wife was getting dressed, and I was in the shower, and they were pointing guns at her, and then they—one of the agents came into the shower and pointed a gun directly at me, at my head, and of course pulled me out of the shower.
At any rate: If the senior management of an organization has authorized illegal or unethical activities, it seems rather pointless for an employee to alert them of that behavior using their own whistleblower programs, doesn't it?
posted by compartment at 6:45 AM on June 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


They gave Tim Pawlenty center stage yesterday afternoon

Him?

That David Brooks thing is like a work of art.
"...he appears to be a product of one of the more unfortunate trends of the age: the atomization of society, the loosening of social bonds, the apparently growing share of young men in their 20s who are living technological existences in the fuzzy land between their childhood institutions and adult family commitments.
Those damn Millennials!
posted by Room 641-A at 6:45 AM on June 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


ltl: “It would be incredibly dumb to risk exposing the intelligence gathering capabilities in social networks just so some immigration official could deny some au-pair teenager entry into the US.”
Agreed. However the facts and logic won't matter. If you'll forgive the expression, it's already out there in the zeitgeist, "The U.S. is reading our e-mail." I imagine that even definitive proof that the girl in this story lied about the whole thing and in fact never went to the U.S. will not serve to dissuade people from believing until the end of time that in the early 21st century the U.S. was reading the private messages of German teenagers.
posted by ob1quixote at 7:01 AM on June 11, 2013


The German BND certainly used to share data with GCHQ and the NSA (the Bad Aibling station is a part of ECHELON/Platform for example) so I would not be overly surprised if they are not getting access to at least part of the take from PRISM. They have also shared SIGINT data from their Lanze site in the Pamir mountains in Southern China during the both the Soviet war in Afghanistan and our current adventures up until fairly recently (it was built back in 1980).

The formal and informal sharing of data between Western intelligence agencies (and military special mission units) is a very badly kept secret. Given the German connection to the 9/11 perpetrators (aka the Hamburg Cell) it is unlikely that US Intelligence agencies are not doing their utmost to exchange data with the BND where required to reduce the threat of missing out on future threats. Maybe the BND are getting and using the data but not sharing it's origin with their political masters. It would certainly not be the first time.
posted by longbaugh at 7:03 AM on June 11, 2013


Booz Allen Fires Edward Snowden

Booz Allen announced this morning that the company has officially fired Edward Snowden, the man behind the NSA leaks, for "violations of the firm's code of ethics."
Booz Allen can confirm that Edward Snowden, 29, was an employee of our firm for less than 3 months, assigned to a team in Hawaii. Snowden, who had a salary at the rate of $122,000, was terminated June 10, 2013 for violations of the firm's code of ethics and firm policy.
I'm not sure why The Atlantic is referring to the incident in the present tense, though.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:17 AM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Heh. I just realized that my one other Tim Pawlenty-related comment was also an Arrested Development reference.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:20 AM on June 11, 2013


Booz Allen Fires Edward Snowden

[oh-really_owl.jpg]
posted by odinsdream at 7:31 AM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Emptywheel with some follow up on Director Clapper's "least untruthful" response to Senator Wyden's yes or no question about whether the NSA collects data on Americans: I have a hope that Director Clapper will get another shot at this. Third time's the charm?
posted by notyou at 7:44 AM on June 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Tell Me What Is Being Done in My Name, Charles P. Pierce, Esquire Politics Blog, 11 June 2013
OK, let us persist in the notion that I am an American citizen. Let us persist in the notion that I am the citizen of a self-governing political commonwealth. Let us persist in the notion that I have a say -- and important and equal say -- in the operation of my government here and out in the world. Let us persist in the notion that, in America, the people rule. If we persist in these notions -- and, if we don't, what's the fking point, really? -- then there is only one question that I humbly ask of my government this week.

Please, if it's not too damn much trouble, can you tell me what's being done in my name?
posted by ob1quixote at 7:52 AM on June 11, 2013 [11 favorites]


56% of Americans support the government surveillance

Matters of Constitutional rights aren't subject to popular opinion. Unfortunately, they also seem not to be subject to judicial review, either.


The telephone metadata has never needed a warrant, ever. In 1979 SCOTUS ruled there is no privacy interest in which numbers one dials. This was reviewed a long time ago with a far more liberal court than the one we have now.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:01 AM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


"The NSA has a history of being ahead of the world in cryptography, but.. there are much easier ways to circumvent cryptography than a constructive proof that P=NP (the impact of which would be like dropping an atom bomb on theoretical computer science)." -- qxntpqbbbqxl
First of all, that may not be true. If you found a way to do an O(kn) calculation in O(n(10+k100)) that would mean P = NP but it would also mean no NP calculations can't ever be solved in any useful amount of time. Polynomial time does not mean 'fast'
It probably would be easier to just show up at places like RSA, subpoena the codes and then slap a gag order on them. -- double block and bleed
I kind of doubt that would ever happen, crypto researches tend to be among the most libertarian 'hacker ethos' types out there. It's likely that any advances in crypto theory would be posted online on academic forums, not kept secret at a place like RSA. In fact, a secret algorithm wouldn't even help them - you can't sell crypto if you can't tell people how it works, because then they can't verify that it works. Trying to use 'secret sauce' crypto to keep things secret is actually really dangerous.
they have access to all unencrypted data plus everything with weak encryption, and people using strong encryption are (a) drawing attention to themselves -- Joe in Australia
Yeah no. Someone brought this up the other day and it's just ridiculous. The internet is stuffed with strong crypto, and it's becoming more encrypted by the day. The other day I noticed youtube was using https for some reason, I must have clicked an https link at some point and all my subsequent video browsing was highly encrypted (this wouldn't matter, of course)

But not only that every server on the internet uses strong crypto for administration. Either using SSH or using microsoft's remote desktop stuff, which is also encrypted.

Basically every single IT person uses strong crypto every single day, just to do basic IT work. In addition to SSH, lots of people use https for routine tasks as well, just because it's there and it works.
posted by delmoi at 8:04 AM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Please, if it's not too damn much trouble, can you tell me what's being done in my name?

Ok, so we were reading the Japanese naval codes prior to WWII--should the papers have reported to us what the government was doing in our name?
posted by Ironmouth at 8:04 AM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Some stuff from Matt Yiglasias, who's over in Europe, I think:

European Parliament Up In Arms Over PRISM

Did German Law Somehow Protect T-Mobile Customers From NSA Snooping?

How The Intelligence Community Is Undermining American Technology Companies In Europe (although in this case it sounds like a good thing, since they are lobbying to loosen privacy laws, on personal data)
Total surveillance of all German citizens by the NSA? I hope that's a mis-translation. Because I don't see the current revelations showing that. -- nightwood
1) Massive data mining and access program discovered at the NSA
2) US government assures people that US citizens aren't being spied on.

There's no evidence, nor is anyone in the US government even claiming that there isn't a free-for-all at the NSA for data from Germans or any other person who the NSA isn't 51% sure is an American. (And yes, they do use a 51% certainty cutoff, by the way)

Suppose you found out that a restaurant chain was selling hamburgers that had been contaminated with Arsenic. Would you keep eating there because you couldn't be 100% sure that the burgers you had arsenic in them?

There seems to be this weird idea among some people that if we can't be 100% sure about this we can't be upset. And, while that might be reasonable if you're in the US and you trust the US government, which says it's not spying inappropriately on US citizens, how does it even begin to make sense for someone who isn't even American, has no reason to trust the US government and who the US government isn't even claiming isn't being spied on?

Would you trust the Chinese government with access to your personal files? Or the Russians, Iranians, etc? It's kind of amazing how some Americans feel people in other countries need to be loyal to and trust the US government.

___
Corrente: Who Are We And Why Don't We Have Any Sense Of Proportion About Terrorism?
Who says we don't? Isn't it possible that the American people do have a sense of proportion about turr, it's just that the surveillance state has billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of jobs on the line and without the fear of turr as a justification they have no raison d'etre, no justification for their existence? That means a big portion of those outlays from the federal government come back in the form of lobbying, come back in the form of revolving door policies where people who work in government then go off and make massive bank working for private companies?

Look at Michael Chertoff, for example who bought those TSA x-ray scanners, then went to go work for the company that made them when he left government.

It's not that the American People are terrified of terrorists, but rather everyone in D.C acts like were on the brink of catastrophe because if the fear subsides the cash cow dies.

That said, though, it seems like a lot of people just don't understand proportions in general. I mean, like, I saw Bill Maher the other day saying he thought this might be OK because he was worried about getting nukes. As if there were terrorists out there smart enough to build a nuke but too stupid not to chat about it on Facebook, or that it would be far easier and less invasive to simply monitor all the nuclear material out there rather then every single person.
Booz Allen Fires Edward Snowden

Booz Allen announced this morning that the company has officially fired Edward Snowden, the man behind the NSA leaks, for "violations of the firm's code of ethics."
Wow, these guys are really on the ball!
posted by delmoi at 8:11 AM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wait, this guy only worked there three months? So how long did they wait until he had access to like one of the most secret things they do? Is this typical for people with (I assume) already legit security clearance? I would think you'd probably wait a bit for the person to shake out.
posted by Big_B at 8:14 AM on June 11, 2013


Big_B: Someone who works there posted in the thread saying that 1) he probably was doing the exact same job he had been and 2) He'd probably not have had much access at all most of the time as it takes a while for the clearance to to transfer.
posted by delmoi at 8:17 AM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ok, so we were reading the Japanese naval codes prior to WWII--should the papers have reported to us what the government was doing in our name?

This is not the same thing as what the NSA is doing. They are not targeting the military of a foreign government with whom we are at war. They are targeting the whole world it seems. But since you've never seen a government action with which you would disapprove your position here does not surprise me much.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 8:18 AM on June 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


Ahh thanks. Missed that.
posted by Big_B at 8:21 AM on June 11, 2013


Ok, so we were reading the Japanese naval codes prior to WWII--should the papers have reported to us what the government was doing in our name?

Since we had an official declaration of war against an actual aggressor state, and as we weren't doing blanket surveillance of American communications (at least not to any extent near to what is happening here), it is once again difficult to draw any parallels here and your line of reasoning looks as specious as ever.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:28 AM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm more worried we never find him alive again.

Yeah, that's a billion times more likely. His odds of staying alive and uncaptured are incredibly slim at best. I seriously wonder if he's going to kill himself at some point because that will end up being the best option.

*sigh*
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:31 AM on June 11, 2013


[Folks, let's knock off the bad faith accusations and take that stuff to MeMail/MeTa and drop it here. Thank you.]
posted by jessamyn at 8:32 AM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


The telephone metadata has never needed a warrant, ever. In 1979 SCOTUS ruled there is no privacy interest in which numbers one dials. This was reviewed a long time ago with a far more liberal court than the one we have now.

The idea that Smith, which is about tracking a single person forward from a single point in time, allows the government to track every call made and the location of every cell phone (even when not in public) forward and backward in time without any suspicion, is pretty silly.

But this thread is primarily about PRISM, not Verizon.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 8:34 AM on June 11, 2013


Ok, so we were reading the Japanese naval codes prior to WWII--should the papers have reported to us what the government was doing in our name?

This is not the same thing as what the NSA is doing. They are not targeting the military of a foreign government with whom we are at war.

Since we had an official declaration of war against an actual aggressor state,


*prior* to WWII


It seems they didn't crack the latest naval code until after Pearl Harbor, but perhaps this would not have even been possible without the work done before the war.
posted by Golden Eternity at 8:38 AM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


There are some things that you need to understand about the way IT contracting works in order to get why the Booz Allen thing and the three months time duration is a bit of a distraction.

Typically on long running outsourced infrastructures there are a number of large components that can be or are aligned to a single vendor. Often these components are under their own service agreements with durations from 12 to 36 months, in order to preserve the best pricing and/or best service for the components you will see the overlaid contracting company and consequently management swapped out at the expiration of a contract. What often doesn't change is the actual engineers/analysts on the ground servicing the infrastructure.

So while he may have only worked for Booz Allen for 3 months it's pretty likely that he worked possibly for a previous company in a similar or the same role and simply was picked up by Booz Allen as carry over talent. We see this pretty frequently in the high end infrastructure management space for e-commerce/airlines/financial/etc. It's essentially the same for government except those whole practices are walled off entirely and run as separate business entities (I work for one of the largest infrastructure management companies globally), but the model is essentially the same.

To people asking how he got access to all this stuff and why didn't compartmentalization kick in, on pure speculation it's because of a few things:

1) Cost
2) Tools
3) Process

In the effort to provide lowered cost to deliver services what you have from a pure administrative side is leveraged service desks, and at a certain level above the service desk - level 3/4 support or indeed operation of a given application and stack you just end up with access to everything. It's rare to build a dedicated team top to bottom to support a singular application stack because the cost model breaks down and the pricing is simply out of control.

The tools used to instrument, maintain, manage and interact with managed systems and applications generally share a common back end across application stacks. Even if the application stacks themselves are compartmentalized on the front end, there is almost always a common platform somewhere in the background that allows operators and support staff to interface with the raw systems. Typically these things operate at the core of the onion like security model and are audited pretty thoroughly, but it again goes to costs associated with infrastructure management.

The process of obtaining access in many teams supporting infrastructure and app stacks is that once access is granted at a specific level or once you have cause to use or support a singular tool at a specific privilege level that access doesn't get clawed back terribly frequently. There are generally automated systems in place to bring back access that sits unused but one of the drawbacks (if not set up properly) of a unified authentication, authorization and audit platform governing access is that if it's not set up properly or to purpose and maintained properly and to purpose it goes a bit wild and organic on you in terms of privilege. Simply accessing an app once can renew access at a similar privilege tier.

I don't know what his job was in the environments he worked within, but in working with large amounts of data it is absolutely believable to me that someone with a solid background in systems administration and analysis of large systems would find themselves over the course of several years in a position as an actual end user of an application stack because they know how it's all built and are comfortable operating in systems that involve complex data streams and structures.

In the industry supporting large complex systems it is not at all uncommon to find persons who are college drops outs (myself), or didn't graduate high school as senior resources or management of teams who support and use this stuff. A high school diploma or a college degree isn't anything special in the context of competent complex systems administration or use. What those things convey, in a very general sense, is a certain maturity level and they aren't the only way to get there.

If his salary from Booz Allen really was 122k, he's likely compensated significantly with a competitive bonus structure. That can range anywhere from 15% to 30% if it's following industry norms. Those structures are typically tied to billable hours, so if you bill a lot you make a lot more. Nothing in this story strikes me as specifically surprising in terms of the surveillance itself and the access to data. It's just how things are built. It is to some extent the problem with trying to do more with less capital and be good stewards from a pure budgetary perspective with tax dollars.
posted by iamabot at 8:41 AM on June 11, 2013 [15 favorites]



The telephone metadata has never needed a warrant, ever. In 1979 SCOTUS ruled there is no privacy interest in which numbers one dials. This was reviewed a long time ago with a far more liberal court than the one we have now.

The idea that Smith, which is about tracking a single person forward from a single point in time, allows the government to track every call made and the location of every cell phone (even when not in public) forward and backward in time without any suspicion, is pretty silly.

But this thread is primarily about PRISM, not Verizon.


What part of Smith creates a privacy right for the entire population that it denies one man? You can disagree with the decision but it is in black and white. The Fourth does not apply to what numbers a person dials.

And if this thread is about PRISM, you need to read up on extraterritorial application of the Constitution.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:41 AM on June 11, 2013


The Fourth does not apply to what numbers a person dials.

you need to read up on extraterritorial application of the Constitution


You probably want to read up on the facts of the case before pounding so hard on the law.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 8:46 AM on June 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


On Snowden's inevitable firing, the headline I keep seeing is "Contractor fires Snowden from $122000 per year job". Emphasizing the salary. I can't think of any other occasion where a private company has disclosed a rank-and-file employee's salary in an official press release. Presumably it's to counter the "that dude was making $200,000/year!" part of the story that makes Snowden seem noble. (Of course both numbers could be correct, depending on bonus structures and other benefits.)

I'm more surprised that Snowden was at Booz Allen for less than three months. That's not a lot of time to decide to turn whistleblower. Has a reliable source published his full employment history yet?

It's a shame the story is becoming about him rather than the government abuses of power he has disclosed. I agree with the comments above that say his identity coming out was inevitable, that it was smarter for him to get in front of that story. So far he's not acting with the personal arrogance that seems to motivate so many libertarian hacker types.
posted by Nelson at 8:47 AM on June 11, 2013


Nelson: "Presumably it's to counter the "that dude was making $200,000/year!" part of the story that makes Snowden seem noble."

I was thinking the opposite. "This guy is some rich spoiled high school dropout." But then people need to remember this was in Hawaii were I imagine 122k is not like 122k in Ohio.

And thanks iamabot for the explanation. I've seen in consulting where contracts and the people working on them are moved from company to company when they are re-bid which sound like a possible aspect of this.

But now I find myself doing it - focusing on who he was, not what he wanted to show everyone.... Ugh.
posted by Big_B at 8:55 AM on June 11, 2013


It's a shame the story is becoming about him rather than the government abuses of power he has disclosed.

That was completely predictable and understandable. Dude broke the law, revealed secrets of the NSA. They're going to print new books just so they can throw them at him. Everything he's ever done will be put under microscope and judged by a fickle public with a short attention span.

Of course he's going to be judged by you, me and everyone else. He put himself into a particular and public situation. Surviving public opinion may be harder than surviving NSA.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:57 AM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


"So how long did they wait until he had access to like one of the most secret things they do? "

"Someone who works there posted in the thread saying that 1) he probably was doing the exact same job he had been and 2) He'd probably not have had much access at all most of the time as it takes a while for the clearance to to transfer.

This part of the press release is confusing:
Also of potential interest: Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian journalist who broke the surveillance story, says he has been working with Snowden since February. If Booz only employed Snowden for "less than three months" before his termination, as they claim, that puts Snowden's first day at Booz some time in March."
posted by Room 641-A at 8:57 AM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wow, that David Brooks piece is amazing. First of all, what's interesting is that his gradated levels of authority is basically the daoist/confucianist ideology of the Chinese emperors. They thought the father had authority over the family, the local leaders had authority over the families, all the way up to the emperor, but it's quite different from the Lockean philosophy of the founders

That isn't to say he didn't have a point, I think if Snowden did have a family with children and was more engaged in his community it would certainly have been harder for him to leave. But at the same time he misses that his Top Secret clearance meant he had to keep hidden and couldn't be open with people anyway. It's not surprising that someone with a top secret clearance wouldn't want to be widely known in his neighborhood, in his girlfriends pictures with him is face is obscured.

But the real crazy-ass stuff is this:
For society to function well, there have to be basic levels of trust and cooperation, a respect for institutions and deference to common procedures. By deciding to unilaterally leak secret N.S.A. documents, Snowden has betrayed all of these things.
I mean, that's insane. Institutions gain trust by being trustworthy. I think Brooks shares this view with Obama, Obama took office he said he wanted to restore institutions and trust in institutions. But instead of making things more transparent, is just called himself transparent while releasing self-serving and unimportant datasets, and cracking down on leaking. Rather then trying to make government more ethical and therefore trustworthy, we should crack down on people who reveal the government's flaws

It's totally backwards.
But Big Brother is not the only danger facing the country. Another is the rising tide of distrust, the corrosive spread of cynicism, the fraying of the social fabric and the rise of people who are so individualistic in their outlook that they have no real understanding of how to knit others together and look after the common good.
This is not a danger Snowden is addressing. In fact, he is making everything worse.
Yes, undoubtedly his revelation will make people more cynical. But here you're blaming the messenger.
He betrayed honesty and integrity, the foundation of all cooperative activity. He made explicit and implicit oaths to respect the secrecy of the information with which he was entrusted. He betrayed his oaths
Presumably he took an oath to uphold and defend the constitution, which he felt was being violated.
He betrayed his friends … He betrayed his employers. ...
Yeah, because he thought what they were doing was bad.
He betrayed the cause of open government ... He betrayed the privacy of us all.
This some seriously twisted logic, just, totally backwards.
He betrayed the Constitution. The founders did not create the United States so that some solitary 29-year-old could make unilateral decisions about what should be exposed.
Actually, they did. The first amendment? Remember? That's what enabled this. Even in the U.K, they have an official secrets act that can prevent newspapers from reporting stories. Most other countries in the world could have clamped down on the press and prevented this story, but that couldn't happen in the U.S, because of the first amendment. So clearly, the constitution does allow it. And by the way, anonymous pamphleteers were quite popular back in the day.
On the other hand, he had made certain commitments as a public servant, as a member of an organization, and a nation. Sometimes leakers have to leak. The information they possess is so grave that it demands they violate their oaths. ... , Snowden was obsessed with the danger of data mining but completely oblivious to his betrayals and toward the damage he has done to social arrangements and the invisible bonds that hold them together.
What's interesting about this is that he is essentially describing corruption as a virtue. People often think of corruption as bad people doing bad things, but what actually happens is that people become friends with people, and they then seek to help their friends out, so if one of their friends is doing something bad they'll defend them out of loyalty, and cognitive dissonance can take hold and they'll justify their friends actions.

Here, brooks is saying that we shouldn't betray our friends or our institutions even they are doing things we think is wrong. Somehow I doubt he would praise the friends of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev who ditched his laptop after the bombing out of loyally. I'm sure he'd be able to spew out some verbiage about how it's different, but his philosophy is half baked. The problem is you have these 'layers' of hierarchal "authority", the problem is that one layer may be in conflict with another. Maybe your friends with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, and you think he's a terrorist. Do you betray him and rat him out, or do you betray the people who he's going to kill? It has to be one or the other.

In this case Snowden felt that his friends and employers and government was betraying the nation, democratic accountability, the constitution, society, and the global community (of individuals, not nations). If he didn't care about any of it, he would have stayed in Hawaii, made ton of cash and married his super-hot girlfriend.

Also Brooks completely misses the fact that his layers of hierarchy thing only works if you think that the highest levels have your interests at heart. As a rich conservative white historically, and as simply a rich person today, that's true. But certainly the government has clamped down on various groups in the past. What happens when you're a member of a minority group who's being oppressed? What if you have a family member beaten by the police and nothing is done (or he's slapped with false charges?). What happens when you find out the government is spying on everyone even though the guy you voted for said he was against it?

Brook's weirdly-Confucian ideology has no way to deal with conflicts between 'layers'.

Frankly it sounds as though he's just spouting nonsense in order to justify his disdain. What he's really angry about is the fact that his friends and people in his social circle were betrayed by him.
posted by delmoi at 9:04 AM on June 11, 2013 [16 favorites]


Wow, that David Brooks piece is amazing. First of all, what's interesting is that his gradated levels of authority is basically the daoist/confucianist ideology of the Chinese emperors.

Or, as Clay Shirky put it, “elevating 'good German' to a civic ideal”
posted by acb at 9:10 AM on June 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


Since there are so few facts, the facts we do have are getting parsed beyond all recognition and then levered up to discredit the leaker and the leaks.

So the $122k official salary and the length of employment are presented as potential holes in Snowden's story ("also of possible interest").

The focus on Snowden would subside a bit if the Grauniad or the WaPo would release some of the withheld docs that Greenwald has hinted so darkly about.
posted by notyou at 9:10 AM on June 11, 2013


"Presumably it's to counter the "that dude was making $200,000/year!" part of the story that makes Snowden seem noble."

Didn't he say he was making $200k/yr? One of the things that annoys me the most about this is how much of our taxes must be getting thrown away on these projects that probably aren't anywhere near worth what we are paying for them, even if there is a reason to have them. And the clowns making the decisions to spend all this money and pay whoever $200k/yr to get access to all of our emails for who knows what with little if any oversight probably claim not to believe in "big government." I guess we know where all the stimulus money went. How much of this money could we have used for college grants, medicare, or green energy research instead? The sense I get is the competence of the "surveillance industry" is probably seriously overrated, and the amount of "government waste" in it is probably astronomical.
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:11 AM on June 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Didn't he say he was making $200k/yr? One of the things that annoys me the most about this is how much of our taxes must be getting thrown away on these projects that probably aren't anywhere near worth what we are paying for them, even if there is a reason to have them. And the clowns making the decisions to spend all this money and pay whoever $200k/yr to get access to all of our emails for who knows what with little if any oversight probably claim not to believe in "big government." I guess we know where all the stimulus money went. How much of this money could we have used for college grants, medicare, or green energy research instead? The sense I get is the competence of the "surveillance industry" is probably seriously overrated, and the amount of "government waste" in it is probably astronomical.

I get that this seems like a lot of money, or that the 20 million noted in the PRISM documents seems like a ton of money. You need to understand that if the dollars are giving you heartburn, it's a patent distraction. These dollar amounts are literally nothing in the world of complex high end application and infrastructure administration and management. They are significant figures but not in the context of IT administration or application stacks. This doesn't strike me as terribly wasteful to be honest because it's not outside the norms of costs for both resources and infrastructure management/analysis I've seen. Complex systems and data structures are pricey, and that's true for all sectors. There are efforts to drive down the costs but it's a pretty specialized industry and not at all like keeping a couple of PC's going on a LAN.

So yes the money could be used elsewhere, absolutely, I get that seeing figures tossed around when you're looking at the health of other components of society or government is a challenge. It's again, a distraction to the erosion of personal freedoms and civil liberties. Those dollars don't even approach an insignificant digit of what is being spent to surveil persons, places or other entities. Viewing these figures absent an understanding of how utterly vast the spending is focusses on the wrong thing in my opinion, which is what I believe to be a systemic and almost passive erosion of privacy rights. We are, and have been, the proverbial boiling frog.
posted by iamabot at 9:32 AM on June 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


Fox News asks Lou Ferrigno if ‘Hulk’ thinks NSA leaker is a traitor
“He played one of the most recognizable super heroes,” Fox News host Steve Doocy explained. “We’re talking about ‘The Incredible Hulk.’ Lou Ferrigno’s transformation put a memorable face on the conflicted character, leaving viewers wondering if he was a hero or if he was an evil villain.”

“Proving truth is stranger than fiction, the emergence of the NSA leaker, Edward Snowden, has many wondering if his disclosure of government surveillance programs make him patriot or a traitor,” co-host Brian Kilmeade added.

“So, how does The Incredible Hulk see it?” co-host Gretchen Carlson asked Ferrigno.

“First of all, he must be having good Chinese food,” Ferrigno joked, noting that Snowed had fled to Hong Kong. “I would say it’s a flipped coin… I think leaking information was wrong, I think talking about the situation — I think he did commit a crime.”

“People see him as either a hero or a traitor. But like I said, it’s a flipped coin.”
There are people who are going to form their opinion on this issue based on whether or not an actor who played a cartoon character 40 years ago got heads or tails. How can people be this dumb? They don't even know if "crime" is heads or tails!
posted by Room 641-A at 9:38 AM on June 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


Obviously it's the side that's all scratched up.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:41 AM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


[Don't drag arguments from other threads in here]
posted by jessamyn at 9:48 AM on June 11, 2013


And if this thread is about PRISM, you need to read up on extraterritorial application of the Constitution.
Maybe you need to read up on the privacy laws of every other country in the world, many of which these tech companies do business in.
posted by delmoi at 9:51 AM on June 11, 2013


Maybe you both can read up on each others viewpoints in memail ? (So the NSA can also read up on it, amirite?)
posted by iamabot at 9:53 AM on June 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


Looks like Russia is offering him a place to stay if he wants to take it.
posted by delmoi at 10:10 AM on June 11, 2013


I was wondering if Russia would extend this offer. The USA typically dangles moral authority over Russia and Putin loves to ding the USA every chance he gets. This would be a real feather in Putin's cap.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 10:18 AM on June 11, 2013


DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz: "He should be extradited, arrested, and prosecuted ... That’s exactly what should happen to him because he violated the law. He violated America’s trust. He jeopardized millions of Americans."
posted by delmoi at 10:32 AM on June 11, 2013


DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz: "He should be extradited, arrested, and prosecuted ... That’s exactly what should happen to him because he violated the law. He violated America’s trust. He jeopardized millions of Americans."

What the fucking fuck, Democratic Party?
posted by jaduncan at 10:40 AM on June 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


He jeopardized millions of Americans.

citation needed.
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:42 AM on June 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


I have a sinking feeling that the biggest thing to come out of this might be an open and accepted surveillance state.
posted by jaduncan at 10:43 AM on June 11, 2013 [10 favorites]


DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz probably just had her standing invitation to the evening MSNBC hosts revoked.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:44 AM on June 11, 2013


And of course next election's Democratic candidate will likely be Hillary Clinton, who will be nothing but more of the same.

American voters: If you continue to vote for the two major parties, you are fucked. To quote Mario Savio:
"There's a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part! You can't even passively take part! And you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels…upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop! And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!"
posted by anemone of the state at 10:48 AM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


American voters: If you continue to vote for the two major parties, you are fucked.

Duverger's law
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 10:49 AM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


He jeopardized millions of Americans."

And billions of extra judicial, extra territorial planetary residents.
posted by infini at 10:50 AM on June 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


"There's a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part! You can't even passively take part! And you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels…upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop! And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!"

But terrah! Also terrah, and did you consider terrah and America's enemies?
posted by jaduncan at 10:50 AM on June 11, 2013


The Vain Media Cynics of the NSA Story
posted by homunculus at 10:57 AM on June 11, 2013


What the fucking fuck, Democratic Party?

While you may hear Democrats warn of an impending Owellian state I'm not surprised that, for political reasons, they would come out against Edward Snowden specifically. I'm not condoning it, just saying I'm not surprised.

But then people need to remember this was in Hawaii were I imagine 122k is not like 122k in Ohio.

How big is this outpost, anyway? It seems strange (from a business/financial perspective) to have a Hawaiian branch office for anything other than a very specific purpose.

And billions of extra judicial, extra territorial planetary residents.

Dude, "extra judicial, extra territorial planetary residents" is not not the preferred nomenclature. "Undocumented", please.
posted by Room 641-A at 10:58 AM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz probably just had her standing invitation to the evening MSNBC hosts revoked.
I doubt it. I mean Rachel Maddow and Chris Hays may be more "libertarian type" liberals, but there are plenty of Obama-loving "authoritarian" types on the network as well.
How big is this outpost, anyway? It seems strange (from a business/financial perspective) to have a Hawaiian branch office for anything other than a very specific purpose.
It's a job that can be done from anywhere, and if you're going to be anywhere Hawaii is going to appeal to a lot of people. Plus, the government loves spreading pork all over the 50 states.
posted by delmoi at 11:00 AM on June 11, 2013


Why should someone getting paid $200,000 in the economy of the past few years, where you've needed a master's degree to get even a $35,000 government job, seems like, bother me at all? And he was a high school drop-out who had a stripper girlfriend, and somehow still got a security clearance? I thought lifestyle was a factor in those, and that you had to be a straight arrow all the way around, especially to get top dollar pay like that (which is not remotely easy to find now). Why can this not be seen as something damning about the whole outsourced-intelligence and consulting biz?
posted by raysmj at 11:00 AM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


How big is this outpost, anyway? It seems strange (from a business/financial perspective) to have a Hawaiian branch office for anything other than a very specific purpose.

Hawaii is the site of several bits of telecoms fiber.
posted by jaduncan at 11:04 AM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


5:47 PM on June 10:

"Sales of George Orwell’s ’1984′ up 69 percent on Amazon"
Update: As of 3:22 p.m. EDT, sales of Orwell's "1984" are up 91 percent on the Amazon Movers and Shakers list.

Update II: As of 10:16 p.m. EDT, sales of Orwell's "1984" are up 126 percent on the Amazon list. The sales rank is now at 71 - up from 161.
11:03 AM on June 11:

Amazon Sales of George Orwell's 1984 Shot Up 7,000% This Week
posted by Room 641-A at 11:05 AM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm surprised to see so many people so quick to claim him as a total hero, and others (elsewhere) hold him up as a villain. Why not refrain from any judgment at all, until we know much, much more about the whole story? If we ever do at all? None of you know him, know anything about his motivations other than what he's told you, and what a journalist who seems to be keen on making himself a part of the story is telling you. Anyway, the guy looks more like a symptom of a larger disease, from the info I'm getting now.
posted by raysmj at 11:05 AM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


[quit making it personal folks]
posted by jessamyn at 11:14 AM on June 11, 2013


I'm surprised to see so many people so quick to claim him as a total hero, and others (elsewhere) hold him up as a villain.

Yes, the black and white takes on this and him are annoying.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:18 AM on June 11, 2013


Dude, "extra judicial, extra territorial planetary residents" is not not the preferred nomenclature. "Undocumented", please.

Um... I hereby document myself.
posted by infini at 11:20 AM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Put the NSA on trial, David Sirota, Salon, 11 June 2013
The idea here, which has quickly become the standard talking point for partisans trying to defend the NSA program and the Obama administration, is that while you may object to the NSA’s mass surveillance system, it is nonetheless perfectly legal as is the conduct surrounding it. Therefore, the logic goes, Snowden isn’t an honorable “whistle-blower” he’s a traitorous “leaker,” and the only criminal in this case is Snowden and Snowden alone.

The first — and most simple — way to debunk this talking point is to simply behold two sets of testimony by Obama administration national security officials. In one, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper categorically denies that the government “collect(s) any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans.” In another, the Guardian reports that NSA Director General Keith Alexander “denied point-blank that the agency had the figures on how many Americans had their electronic communications collected or reviewed.”
posted by ob1quixote at 11:20 AM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Why can this not be seen as something damning about the whole outsourced-intelligence and consulting biz?

Wait till we discover that its all been outsourced to Bangalore.

*blinks*

muahahhahahhahahahahahahahah
posted by infini at 11:21 AM on June 11, 2013


David Brooks, New York Times: The Solitary Leaker
Though thoughtful, morally engaged and deeply committed to his beliefs, he appears to be a product of one of the more unfortunate trends of the age: the atomization of society, the loosening of social bonds, the apparently growing share of young men in their 20s who are living technological existences in the fuzzy land between their childhood institutions and adult family commitments.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:03 AM on June 11


Rather than an "unmediated man," I think it's more charitable to view Snowden as something like a secular priest whose lack of a family and rejection of community bonds allows him to hew more closely to the dictates of his conscience without having to worry about someone at home who depends on him.

We should be glad his conscience wasn't compromised by having a family. A society needs a certain number of people, like priests and radicals and iconoclasts, who are relatively untethered by social bonds.

(David Brooks is a resume-fetishist, credential-sniffer, and hierarchy-lover, so it's not surprising that he does not understand someone who has rejected the standard path to success and done something that places himself at great personal risk, because that's beyond the realm of comprehension for a person with Brooks' weaselly, craven courtier mentality.)
posted by Unified Theory at 11:34 AM on June 11, 2013 [8 favorites]


He had a girlfriend who he lived with. He wasn't an ascetic.
posted by raysmj at 11:35 AM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ai Weiwei: The US is behaving like China. Both governments think they are doing what is best for the state and people. But, as I know, such abuse of power can ruin lives
posted by homunculus at 11:52 AM on June 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


Brooks is reacting to the fact that Snowden shows himself to be a free, authentic person, while Brooks is living in bad faith subjugated by his comfortable facticity. That anguish could cause anyone to write a disgusting attack piece like that.
posted by klue at 11:55 AM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


As Edward Snowden speaks out, President Obama goes silent
posted by Golden Eternity at 12:03 PM on June 11, 2013


Yeah, don't need Obama commenting on every development.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:06 PM on June 11, 2013


Looks like Russia is offering him a place to stay if he wants to take it.

They have a strong interest in knowing US secrets. He can provide them. If China doesn't get there first.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:07 PM on June 11, 2013


I believe China said "Thanks, but no thanks" those govt issued bonds are bad enough. Otoh, nothing can take down Iceland's economy, any further , that is.
posted by infini at 12:13 PM on June 11, 2013


The woman behind the NSA scoops: Laura Poitras is "one of the bravest and most brilliant people I've ever met," Glenn Greenwald tells Salon
posted by homunculus at 12:13 PM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Candidate Obama debates President Obama

President Obama's speech patterns would seem to reveal how offguard he was caught by the Section 215 and PRISM revelations. Coupled with the disastrous appearances of Adm Dennis Blair and Sen. Jane Harman on NewsHour last night, I get the feeling bricks are being shat by the Administration. If that's the best they can do off the mark...
posted by rhizome at 12:17 PM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


David Brooks: The Last Stalinist
posted by scody at 12:18 PM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Fourth does not apply to what numbers a person dials.

you need to read up on extraterritorial application of the Constitution

You probably want to read up on the facts of the case before pounding so hard on the law.


Perhaps you should stop assuming you know what I have read and not read.

I read the entire case. I had to study it too! There is no privacy interest in dialed numbers. That is the central holding of the case.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:18 PM on June 11, 2013


There is no privacy interest in dialed numbers.

Again, you probably want to read up on the facts of the case. It's not just dialed numbers that we're talking about here, not just going forward in time, not just of one targeted phone line, and it's not related to the investigation of any particular thing.

What we're dealing with in 2013 is not Smith in so many ways, so I don't know why you keep bringing it up.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 12:24 PM on June 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


Digital Blackwater: How the NSA Gives Private Contractors Control of the Surveillance State
posted by homunculus at 12:24 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hello, NSA? I lost my email password.
posted by rhizome at 12:44 PM on June 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


Ironmouth as you stand firmly behind the US administration may I just ask you this?
Is it OK that the US has a secret court that has secret interpretations of secret laws? what kind of democracy is that?
posted by adamvasco at 12:52 PM on June 11, 2013 [8 favorites]


Google seeks approval from Justice Department to disclose more numbers on requests about users
posted by Golden Eternity at 1:00 PM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Why should someone getting paid $200,000 in the economy of the past few years, where you've needed a master's degree to get even a $35,000 government job -- raysmj
Are you asking rhetorically or sincerely? I mean, as far as qualifications go, he had a Top Secret Security Clearance.. The field of talent with that clearance is a lot smaller, and so you have to pay a lot more.
And he was a high school drop-out who had a stripper girlfriend, and somehow still got a security clearance? -- raysmj
What is this crap? He had a career, He dropped out of high school and joined the army, then got a job as a security guard with the CIA. During that time he probably learned IT and administration, and used his security clearance to help him get high paying jobs.

It's entirely possible that he was simply doing normal IT type work, but getting paid a lot because of his security clearances. Also, the guardian mentioned he had an "expired diplomatic passport", so he was obviously sent around the world, although possibly just to do IT work at embassies and the like.

As far as his girlfriend, what the fuck are you even talking about? I looked for more info on her since the buzzfeed link and the dailymail is saying she was a ballerina, and performed with an acrobatic troupe.
I thought lifestyle was a factor in those, and that you had to be a straight arrow all the way around, especially to get top dollar pay like that (which is not remotely easy to find now). -- raysmj
Again, where are you getting this stuff? What evidence is there he wasn't a "straight arrow"?

I don't know what the specific regulations are but as far as I know as long as you're not breaking the law, doing drugs, deep in debt or cheating on your wife or something like that you should be go. (I would think that since this is the government I'm sure they have some kind of list of disqualifying things and if you don't fail then you get the job - but again I don't know)
I'm surprised to see so many people so quick to claim him as a total hero ... None of you know him, know anything about his motivations other than what he's told you ... Anyway, the guy looks more like a symptom of a larger disease, from the info I'm getting now. -- raysmj
Well, the fact that you apparently felt the need slander him and falsely call his girlfriend a stripper doesn't really lend a lot credence to your argument.
Why not refrain from any judgment at all, until we know much, much more about the whole story? If we ever do at all? – raysmj
So... we should refrain from any judgment forever, potentially? Most of the relevant facts are classified, we'll never know them unless they're leaked. Which means, of course they'll reflect the ideology and goals of the leakers too. And also, there's an asymmetry. People who leak the government's line are rarely punished while those don't face harsh penalties, so pro-government information is far more likely to leak then the other side.
David Brooks: The Last Stalinist
Hardly the last.

Although one of the interesting things about cases like these is seeing the reactions of people in the upper echelons of government and the media as they rally around eachother. Sure there's the argument that Manning's leaks were too broad in scope.

But a lot of the arguments really show their true ideology. Everyone likes to pretend that the US is all about liberty and freedom and bla bla bla but when cases like this come up the arguments against it can't rely on those premises. So they end up telling us what they really think.

So for example when Bruce Sterling criticized Wikileaks (before Bradley Manning was caught) his basic argument was that the US had to do bad things in order to procure a middle class life for the American people and we shouldn't talk about it because it was upsetting (or something, it didn't make much sense)

Now we get David Brooks with his weird daoist hierarchy of authority thing, but it does fit well with the "authoritarian" style of conservatism where people are supposed to be deferential and subservient to their 'betters', which of course is more likely if they see those betters as being leaders of their hierarchal authority shell.

Or when Jeff Toobin talks about Snowden's "bizarre ideology", despite the fact that a pretty good chunk of the country would agree with the basic premise that the government shouldn't spy on people not suspected of a crime, that people in a democracy should be aware of it if their government is spying on massive numbers of people. He might not agree with it but it certainly isn't an uncommon.

His real anger seems to stem from the fact that Snowden was a nobody, that didn't deserve to make a decision with this much impact on policy because wasn't the right person, didn't have the right title. That he didn't know his place. Toobin isn't a conservative, as far as I know, but he clearly thinks important decisions need to be made by the right people and the masses who actually vote on this stuff don't need to be informed, even if it affects their lives.
posted by delmoi at 1:06 PM on June 11, 2013 [11 favorites]


There is no privacy interest in dialed numbers.

Again, you probably want to read up on the facts of the case. It's not just dialed numbers that we're talking about here, not just going forward in time, not just of one targeted phone line, and it's not related to the investigation of any particular thing.

What we're dealing with in 2013 is not Smith in so many ways, so I don't know why you keep bringing it up.


Let's slow down a second. What does related to the investigation of a particular thing have to do with the constitutionality of a search? Nothing. That's a question of whether the statute is being followed. Let us be 100% clear and technical here. Some may argue that section 1861 requires an investigation and that there is not one here. But whether or not 1861's requirements are followed is irrelevant to whether or not there is a constitutionally-protected privacy interest in the numbers that are called.

The fact that it is one or many targeted lines is irrelevant to any constitutional analysis. Either a privacy interest exists in the dialed numbers, the fact and duration of the call exists or it does not. Its long settled. The Smith decision makes it clear, disclosure of the information to the phone company destroys the expectation of privacy.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:10 PM on June 11, 2013


As far as his girlfriend, what the fuck are you even talking about? I looked for more info on her since the buzzfeed link and the dailymail is saying she was a ballerina, and performed with an acrobatic troupe.

The girlfriend is irrelevant here.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:11 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


what kind of democracy is that?

The kind that's sold to all the developing nations as the panacea for all that ails them. Wait ... or was that Dr Stonetable's Special Secret Snake Oil Sauce? I'se confused.

*waves to Sergey*
posted by infini at 1:12 PM on June 11, 2013


Ironmouth as you stand firmly behind the US administration may I just ask you this?
Is it OK that the US has a secret court that has secret interpretations of secret laws? what kind of democracy is that?


What secret law? Seriously, there are no secret code sections. You can't enforce a non-published law. As for FISA decisions, how exactly do you deal with ex parte cases, where the targeted party cannot know they are being targeted? You can't publish them.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:17 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


What’s in the Rest of the Top-Secret NSA PowerPoint Deck? "Julian Assange, tweeting from his haven in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, weighed in yesterday, and made it clear what WikiLeaks would do in this situation. “Snowden demanded all 41 pages of PRISM document be published but neither WaPo nor Guardian had the courage,” he wrote."
posted by dhruva at 1:19 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


She was a self-described "pole dancer" according to her own blog, more of a boho/burlesque dancer with an acrobatic background. I know of one of those who calls herself a stripper without any qualms. The reason I brought that up was not to pass judgment but that having a girlfriend who was a self-described "pole dancer" would be a red flag for sort of severely uptight people running a security background check.
posted by raysmj at 1:20 PM on June 11, 2013


for sort of severely uptight people running a security background check.

Do you have experience in this area?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:21 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


A little bit, yes, and I've had conversations/spent time around CIA analysts. I can't imagine the higher-up guy I met who worked there (in Middle Eastern affairs) digging a pole-dancing girlfriend at all. Not remotely.
posted by raysmj at 1:23 PM on June 11, 2013


And I meant that I *thought* that would be treated as a red flag, whether deserved or not, or at least have led to a long line of questioning.
posted by raysmj at 1:27 PM on June 11, 2013


What does related to the investigation of a particular thing have to do with the constitutionality of a search? Nothing.

Other than the fact that all search warrants which are unlimited in time and scope and not based on probable cause are unconstitutional, nothing, I guess. Slurping up everyone's phone records indiscriminately is basically the opposite of probable cause.

The fact that it is one or many targeted lines is irrelevant to any constitutional analysis.

There's no targeting going on. They're pulling everything.

Its long settled. The Smith decision makes it clear, disclosure of the information to the phone company destroys the expectation of privacy.

Actually, whether the expectation is reasonable is by definition fluid, as it depends on what society believes to be reasonable. That isn't and can't be set in stone by what SCOTUS believed society believed in 1979.

disclosure of the information to the phone company destroys the expectation of privacy

This is like a child asking one parent for permission to do something, getting turned down, and then immediately turning around to ask the other parent.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 1:28 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Slurping up everyone's phone records indiscriminately is basically the opposite of probable cause


Very curious that the term "probable cause" has not entered into the debate (such as it is so far) much at all. Is it gone from constitutional interpretation?
posted by rhizome at 1:30 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


What secret law?

Sen Merkley calls it that
posted by rhizome at 1:35 PM on June 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


Slurping up everyone's phone records indiscriminately is basically the opposite of probable cause


Very curious that the term "probable cause" has not entered into the debate (such as it is so far) much at all. Is it gone from constitutional interpretation?


When there is no reasonable expectation of privacy, there is no need for a probable cause inquiry. It is cut off by the lack of need for a warrant.

Actually, whether the expectation is reasonable is by definition fluid, as it depends on what society believes to be reasonable. That isn't and can't be set in stone by what SCOTUS believed society believed in 1979.

disclosure of the information to the phone company destroys the expectation of privacy

This is like a child asking one parent for permission to do something, getting turned down, and then immediately turning around to ask the other parent.


This is an area of clearly established law on the constitutional right. There's no way that the government could be found to not have qualified immunity in this situation. So there is no claim under Bivens. So no civil claim. Nor does the exlusionary rule apply in any civil case. No charges have been filed and the government has not tried to use the information in a criminal case without first getting a warrant. So no Weeks application of the exclusionary rule. So there is no remedy. This is not going to suddenly be declared a protected area after 40 years. That's just fantasy.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:40 PM on June 11, 2013


What secret law?

Sen Merkley calls it that


There is no secret section of the US code dealing with this. Metadata orders were procured under 18 U.S.C. 1861, you can look it up. Everyone can read it.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:43 PM on June 11, 2013


That's just fantasy.

So's the idea that anyone can be prosecuted with any of the information that's being gathered this way, but I suppose that's not the plan.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 1:44 PM on June 11, 2013


Secret Court Opinion on Secret Surveillance Needs To Remain Secret, Says Government
In San Jose on Friday, President Obama said:
That's not to suggest that you just say, trust me; we’re doing the right thing; we know who the bad guys are. And the reason that's not how it works is because we’ve got congressional oversight and judicial oversight. And if people can't trust not only the executive branch but also don't trust Congress and don't trust federal judges to make sure that we’re abiding by the Constitution, due process and rule of law, then we’re going to have some problems here.
But the Electronic Frontier Foundation reveals that, at the same time:
In a rare public filing in the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), the Justice Department today urged continued secrecy for a 2011 FISC opinion that found the National Security Agency's surveillance under the FISA Amendments Act to be unconstitutional. Significantly, the surveillance at issue was carried out under the same controversial legal authority that underlies the NSA’s recently-revealed PRISM program.
posted by adamvasco at 1:47 PM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Go gentle on him, young sirs. Its hard to come to terms with the fact that the very foundation on which your entire body of expertise stands upon is riddled with termites and hollowed through. What value now of the oaths you took or vows you made?
posted by infini at 1:50 PM on June 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


Thanks, homunculus, for leading to this fascinating Laura Poitras q&a.
posted by progosk at 1:53 PM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Secret Court Opinion on Secret Surveillance Needs To Remain Secret, Says Government

But it's not really secret! Trust us!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:54 PM on June 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


In a cloud computing economy, the NSA is bad for business:
More generally, though, the third-party doctrine that Ozzie referred to is part of a larger legal theory that treats any information in the possession of someone else — your credit card transactions, call records, your journal, you name it — differently than if you alone were in possession of that information. It’s a hot topic of debate among legal scholars, and it seems the advent of the cloud has some members of the Supreme Court ready to weigh in on it should the right case arise.

In a 2012 case notable for its holding regarding the legality of warrantless GPS tracking, Justice Sonia Sotomayor addressed the bigger picture in a concurring opinion. She called the third-party doctrine “ill suited to the digital age, in which people reveal a great deal of information about themselves to third parties in the course of carrying out mundane tasks.”

“I would not assume,” she added, “that all information voluntarily disclosed to some member of the public for a limited purpose is, for that reason alone, disentitled to Fourth Amendment protection.”
posted by notyou at 1:56 PM on June 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


“I would not assume,” she added, “that all information voluntarily disclosed to some member of the public for a limited purpose is, for that reason alone, disentitled to Fourth Amendment protection.”

I guess she doesn't know that all aspects of privacy in the information age were decided, once and for all, the year she graduated from law school.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 1:59 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Obama: "That's not to suggest that you just say, trust me; we’re doing the right thing; we know who the bad guys are."

This is a pretty insidious construction.
posted by rhizome at 1:59 PM on June 11, 2013


Thanks, homunculus, for leading to this fascinating Laura Poitras q&a.

My pleasure. Thanks for linking to the interview.

I wonder if Poitras will ever get through an airport without being harassed ever again.
posted by homunculus at 2:04 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Smart Kids Are Going To Keep Leaking Forever
posted by homunculus at 2:06 PM on June 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


How we broke the NSA story
Exclusive: Laura Poitras tells Salon about getting contacted by Edward Snowden, and reveals more footage is coming

"[Snowden] told me he’d contacted me because my border harassment meant that I’d been a person who had been selected. To be selected –and he went through a whole litany of things — means that everything you do, every friend you have, every purchase you make, every street you cross means you’re being watched. “You probably don’t like how this system works, I think you can tell the story.” … Of course I was suspicious, I worried that it was entrapment, it’s crazy, all the normal responses you have to someone reaching out making, claims. He said he’d seen a piece that I’d done on Bill Binney in the Times.

"I can say from conversations I had with him after that, I think he had a suspicion of mainstream media. And particularly what happened with the New York Times and the warrantless wiretapping story, which as we know was shelved for a year. So he expressed that to me but I think also in his choices of who he contacted. I didn’t know he was reaching out to Glenn at that point."
(emp. added)
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:17 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


That's just fantasy.

So's the idea that anyone can be prosecuted with any of the information that's being gathered this way, but I suppose that's not the plan.


The purpose of this is primarily prevention of attacks. Just as the first part of this was to stop the KGB. Prosecution is not that important.

But if they need prosecution, they need another warrant anyway to get the information linking the phone numbers to a person.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:20 PM on June 11, 2013


Some thoughts from Josh Marshall:
Snowden is doing more than triggering a debate. I think it’s clear he’s trying to upend, damage - choose your verb - the US intelligence apparatus and policieis he opposes. The fact that what he’s doing is against the law speaks for itself. I don’t think anyone doubts that narrow point. But he’s not just opening the thing up for debate. He’s taking it upon himself to make certain things no longer possible, or much harder to do. To me that’s a betrayal. I think it’s easy to exaggerate how much damage these disclosures cause. But I don’t buy that there are no consequences. And it goes to the point I was making in an earlier post. Who gets to decide? The totality of the officeholders who’ve been elected democratically - for better or worse - to make these decisions? Or Edward Snowden, some young guy I’ve never heard of before who espouses a political philosophy I don’t agree with and is now seeking refuge abroad for breaking the law?

I don’t have a lot of problem answering that question.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:22 PM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


The totality of the officeholders who’ve been elected democratically - for better or worse - to make these decisions?

These decisions have not been made with public review. We have no open, democratic process for reviewing these secret laws, courts and court opinions. The fact that it took a whistleblower to make these revelations public is a testament to just how undemocratic these secret laws and processes are.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:27 PM on June 11, 2013 [10 favorites]


Who gets to decide? The totality of the officeholders who’ve been elected democratically - for better or worse - to make these decisions? Or Edward Snowden, some young guy I’ve never heard of before who espouses a political philosophy I don’t agree with and is now seeking refuge abroad for breaking the law?

What Blazecock said. Edward Snowden had the conscience and bravery to go public with what he knew, knowing that the world needed to know and that he might pay with his life.

This is why Snowden is a hero to millions and you're just a person commenting on the Internet, and why he will have books written about him and be remembered a hundred years from now when you will be dead and forgotten.
posted by anemone of the state at 2:40 PM on June 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


The totality of the officeholders who’ve been elected democratically - for better or worse - to make these decisions?

These decisions have not been made with public review. We have no open, democratic process for reviewing these secret laws, courts and court opinions. The fact that it took a whistleblower to make these revelations public is a testament to just how undemocratic these secret laws and processes are.
'

Again, we were reading JN-25 3 days before Pearl Harbor. Before the war. Should we all have decided whether it was OK for the US to do that in a big democratic vote?

And what about Purple, the Japanese diplomatic code? Do we have to have a vote on cracking that code?

And what if a newspaper tried to reveal we knew the code, would that be right? Would you consider it right if it was done in wartime?

Well it isn't a hypo. In 1942 the Chicago Tribune published an article implying we were reading JN 25. The Government only stopped its Espionage Act prosecution because they didn't want to draw attention to the article.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:42 PM on June 11, 2013


This is why Snowden is a hero to millions and you're just a person commenting on the Internet, and why he will have books written about him and be remembered a hundred years from now when you will be dead and forgotten.

Those are not my words, to be clear. They are Josh Marshall's of Talking Points Memo. I doubt he'll be less lauded than Snowden.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:43 PM on June 11, 2013


I don't have half a clue what the ultimate outcome of this story will turn out to be, but instant hagiographizing and Lone Brave Truthteller narratives give me the screaming willies.
posted by prize bull octorok at 2:48 PM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


She was a self-described "pole dancer" according to her own blog, more of a boho/burlesque dancer with an acrobatic background. I know of one of those who calls herself a stripper without any qualms.
Congratulations.
The reason I brought that up was not to pass judgment but that having a girlfriend who was a self-described "pole dancer" would be a red flag for sort of severely uptight people running a security background check.
First of all I don't think that's true at all. Second of all they did care about the guy's girlfriend I think they would have done an in-depth look as opposed to taking random out of context self descriptions off her blog.

Not that there's anything wrong with it professionally, but it may simply have been something she did as a hobby. She clearly did more 'normal' dance/acrobatics as well. With this guy salary it's not like she even needed to work.

I just think calling him a "A high school drop-out who had a stripper girlfriend", is inappropriate and insulting, for one thing, which weakens the argument that you were trying to be fair and even handed.

___
The Smart Kids Are Going To Keep Leaking Forever
I think historically there's been a certain kind of person drawn to computers and hacking and so on, but there's no reason to think that things are always going to be like that. There are smart people who don't share those views and people get seduced by money and power.
Who gets to decide? The totality of the officeholders who’ve been elected democratically - for better or worse - to make these decisions? Or Edward Snowden, some young guy I’ve never heard of before who espouses a political philosophy I don’t agree with and is now seeking refuge abroad for breaking the law?
Note that he made a mention of the fact that Snowden disagrees with his views. Why does that matter? What happens if the officeholders hold views that the majority of the country disagrees with, and they got elected because they lied about what they thought?

I read TPM blog from time to time and it doesn't surprise me at all that Josh Marshall not a fan of Snowden. He's obviously someone who trusts the government to go through his personal stuff, and trusts the people in power not to abuse those powers. But they may not be a majority, and if the programs are all secret and unknown, they can't be voted on in a democracy.

Again, the idea that the people who are elected are the 'grownups' who get to decide these things because democracy has placed their imprimatur upon them to do whatever they want so long as it stays secret.

But the basis of democracy is that citizens can hold people democratically accountable if they don't like their policies. That aspect of democracy breaks if the polices are all secret, and the voters don't know about them.

It's the difference between whether you view "America" as the politicians and government officers or the citizens who actually vote, or whether the citizens upon voting for a candidate remain individuals who have their own views and interests or whether their political autonomy is sublimated and transferred to the people they vote for.
posted by delmoi at 2:50 PM on June 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


But the basis of democracy is that citizens can hold people democratically accountable if they don't like their policies. That aspect of democracy breaks if the polices are all secret, and the voters don't know about them.

But how is the government supposed to both give the country a chance to decide on espionage policy and keep it secret from the targets of the espionage? Some of voting is making a decision about who you trust to do things (1) that are reactions to events and not part of a plan; and (2) that are secret and must remain so to be effective.

Answering that question is the critical one here. Many of us feel like we elected a government for the very purpose of deciding what secret programs are right and which are wrong. Bush violated existing law with what he did. Obama pledged to keep within the law and he has done so.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:54 PM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Those are not my words, to be clear. They are Josh Marshall's of Talking Points Memo. I doubt he'll be less lauded than Snowden.
Lol. Whether you like him or not Snowden is obviously going to go down in the history books, even Daniel Ellsberg says this the biggest leak in history (yes, bigger then his leak of the pentagon papers).

And you think people are going to care more about a blogger who gets less traffic then metafilter? (1.2m uniques/month vs 900k)
posted by delmoi at 2:59 PM on June 11, 2013


Whatever. You want to win an argument there, fine. I should have noted that I was around these CIA people pre-9/11, just prior to it, and I'm sure much has changed since then, since the govt. has handed out so, so many more security clearances, as the security apparatus has grown. I should also note that the person I was talking about who would have frowned on all that, had a military background. And I've worked with plenty of ex-military people and govt. people. The one thing ex-military lifer/longterm service people and govt. administrators aren't known for, generally, is their love of offbeat behavior, personal eccentricity and sense of humor. And who is possibly going to argue that credentials haven't been a huge honking deal in the post-2008 economy, and weren't important before? Or that you've had to be a nearly perfect human specimen or extremely well-connected to get a middle-class job, much less one giving you $200,000 a year? It's all pretty incredible, but please feel free to act as if it isn't, so's you can win your argument.
posted by raysmj at 3:01 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Franken, Wasserman, Marshall … wow, the list of people I’ve lost respect for in just one day …

having a girlfriend who was a self-described "pole dancer" would be a red flag for sort of severely uptight people running a security background check.

I hate to give in to your sidetracking strawman, but lemme see, we got David Vitter and his diaper/prostitute lifestyle, and he and his many illustrious, upstanding Republican colleagues are the ones supposedly with clearance to oversee this.

OTOH, maybe the spooks are glad such folks are the ones who’re supposed to be monitoring them.
posted by NorthernLite at 3:01 PM on June 11, 2013


The totality of the officeholders who’ve been elected democratically - for better or worse - to make these decisions?

Part of the problem seems to be our officeholders aren't doing a very good job of this. In fact, it kind of seems like they don't want to know what the NSA is doing so they can deny any responsibility. It's hard to believe what ever it is that mandates collecting all this data must be kept entirely secret from us. Now that it is in the open anyway, maybe they can tell us a little more about the existential threat(s) that lead to court authorized data collection. I'm not convinced that telling us a little more about what is going on would jeopardize their work. I'm also not convinced the NSA isn't exceeding its authorized use of the data.
posted by Golden Eternity at 3:04 PM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


I wish to introduce an image to the discussion.
The winners.
posted by adamvasco at 3:05 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well it isn't a hypo. In 1942 the Chicago Tribune published an article implying we were reading JN 25. The Government only stopped its Espionage Act prosecution because they didn't want to draw attention to the article.

I wasn't going to mention it before, because you seemed pretty wedded to the "before the War" argument, but I'm pretty sure 1942 was after it started.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:06 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


David Vitter ran for public office, and was legally elected (and re-elected) by a majority of voting citizens of Louisiana, regardless of his many, many issues. There are no other credentials needed for the office of U.S. Senator besides being 30 years of age, a citizen of the United States for nine years, and a citizen of the state they hope to represent at election time.
posted by raysmj at 3:06 PM on June 11, 2013


I think there is an underlying expectation of fluency in the technology and its implications that doesn't exist at a law making or a policy making level. Now you can make the argument that people should have the technical acumen and perspective to understand the systems they authorize to be built and leveraged but I'm telling you having dealt with all levels of management and executives and consumers of technology for the previous 15 years of my professional life that the overwhelming majority of them simply don't understand in any kind of comprehensive sense, what it is they are interacting with or approving of. That isn't to say they should be forgiven for their overreach but I don't get pissed at my kids who lack the experience to understand what they are doing and how what they are doing is dangerous.
posted by iamabot at 3:08 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well it isn't a hypo. In 1942 the Chicago Tribune published an article implying we were reading JN 25. The Government only stopped its Espionage Act prosecution because they didn't want to draw attention to the article.

I wasn't going to mention it, because you seemed pretty wedded to the "before the War" argument, but I'm pretty sure 1942 was after it started.


But we were reading Purple, JN-25 and a slew of Japanese codes long before the war.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:09 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Members of Congress (reps, sense) do not require security clearances, for the record. Staff involved in security matters do need them, but not members.
posted by raysmj at 3:10 PM on June 11, 2013


But if they need prosecution, they need another warrant anyway to get the information linking the phone numbers to a person.

Not necessarily. Depending on the quantity of data they have, they can probably figure out who it belongs to, or at least where that person lives and works.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 3:25 PM on June 11, 2013


About Pearl Harbour and reading Japanese coded messages bla bla bla ?

The US was at WAR with taht country and its citizens during that time. Hello? WW2 remember?

Is the US at war with me, or again at war with German teenagers? Kenyan grandmothers? The Cargo Cultists in the middle of nowhere Islands?

Is the US really at war, inside their minds, with the other 6.5 billion people whose rights you seem to be blithely ignoring?

The purpose of this is primarily prevention of attacks. Just as the first part of this was to stop the KGB. Prosecution is not that important.


True. All you need is a GPS coordinate to point your drone at. Do you not realize how the Rest of the World (tm) feels about this? Or care?

Except that thy will be done to save the 0.01%'s investments?

None of this is "news", but its one thing to say there is no Fight Club and another to publish its rules of conduct.

This time the feathers ruffled aren't just very far away, very poor, and very brown and sandy. This time its the billion on FB and gazillion on Gmail and every single Windows based computing device in the world.

Who cares if its your laws or not. NIMBY.

World Out of Balance – Three Scenarios for 2015. Adapted from the book, “World Out of Balance” by Paul A. Laudicina. Copyright 2005. McGraw Hill Education.

A.T. Kearney's Paul Laudicina offers three scenarios that depict possible visions of the global future. Based on five key drivers of change - globalization, demographics, consumption patterns, natural resources/environment and regulation/activism - the author envisions three possible and plausible scenarios for the ten-year global outlook.

Scenario One: Castles and Moats.

“In this darkly pessimistic (though not necessarily most-probable) scenario, the world in 2015 is plagued with instability. Terrorist groups have continued their campaign of well-coordinated attacks against the United States and its institutions abroad. They succeeded in eroding global confidence in what was once seen as the world's preeminent political and economic superpower. Although most of al Qaeda's leaders have been caught and killed, many questions are still unresolved. They include Palestinian statehood, ongoing conflicts in Central Asia and the Caucasus region, as well as worsening standards of living in Middle Eastern countries. Fortress world - As a result, among Western nations, national security trumps all other concerns. Civil liberties have taken a backseat to security concerns, as governments subject their citizens to constant surveillance. With xenophobia on the rise, immigrants, foreign workers and even ethnic minorities are viewed with suspicion. Fewer and fewer people are willing to travel, work or live abroad, knowing that they will be subjected to intense scrutiny. As a siege mentality sets in, rising nationalist and populist sentiment is the catalyst for heightened levels of economic protectionism.

posted by infini at 3:25 PM on June 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


Well it isn't a hypo. In 1942 the Chicago Tribune published an article implying we were reading JN 25. The Government only stopped its Espionage Act prosecution because they didn't want to draw attention to the article.

Why are you trying to equate our interception and decryption of our enemy's military communications during wartime (in an era when we also forcibly relocated and locked up over 100,000 Japanese-Americans without cause, not to mention dropped atomic bombs on civilians) with the secret collection of metadata about every telephone call in this country during, the never-ending war on terror aside, peacetime? The two are so utterly different that I cannot tell what point you're trying to make here.
posted by zachlipton at 3:33 PM on June 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


That's not to suggest that you just say, trust me; we’re doing the right thing; we know who the bad guys are. And the reason that's not how it works is because we’ve got congressional oversight and judicial oversight. And if people can't trust not only the executive branch but also don't trust Congress and don't trust federal judges to make sure that we’re abiding by the Constitution, due process and rule of law, then we’re going to have some problems here.

This is kind of a contradictory statement by Obama. He is saying we shouldn't just rely on trust, but then he goes on to say that we have no other choice. The only thing you can do is trust the secret system. And what are these problems he speaks of? A more transparent government with more accountability? I am willing to trade a little security for that, if that is what he means. Moreover, I would have more faith in the secret system of oversight he mentions if the FISA court actually rejected any requests for surveillance warrants. Of the thousands requested each year, none are rejected and only a small number (less than 5%) require any modification. Either the folks making these requests are super good at working within the established law or the FISA court is a rubber stamp. While it would be nice to believe the former, the known actions of the government since 9/11 compels me to believe the latter.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 3:35 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I cannot tell what point you're trying to make here.

The point is that no matter what, it's all legal because of reasons.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 3:36 PM on June 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


But how is the government supposed to both give the country a chance to decide on espionage policy and keep it secret from the targets of the espionage?
Well, they can't. But the problem here is the assumption that democracy is something that the government 'gives' to the people. Obviously they can make attempts to keep things secret if they want, but that's not going to work very well if the stuff you're doing conflicts with the values you espouse.

There is obviously an inherent conflict that can't be resolved, but, you can end up with an equilibrium where the worse something is, the more likely it is to be leaked, and each person who holds the secret can chose to leak it if they think it's worth the cost.

If you grant security clearance based on how loyal people are to America and American ideals, then people are going to betray the government if they feel that the government is betraying the people.
Answering that question is the critical one here.
Critical for what? There's no reason it needs to be answered. Some forms of government make some things really difficult and other things impossible. Those are sacrifices that have to be made if you want that kind of government.
Some of voting is making a decision about who you trust to do things
No, voting is voting. It means whatever the person voting wants it to mean and it certainly doesn't mean they trust they person they're voting for, they may just fear or distrust the other side more.
Many of us feel like we elected a government for the very purpose of deciding what secret programs are right and which are wrong.


Uh, that's nice? We know you don't personally like Snowden, we understand that you think the government should be able to do whatever it wants in secret whether or not voters ever find out about it, we know you think winning an election means that voters have entrusted them with the right to lie to them about what they're actually doing.

That's what disagreement is about.

(oh, and of course as infini points out, this affects people who don't live in the US and have no say in US elections, people you've repeatedly said don't have any rights at all.)
Why are you trying to equate our interception and decryption of our enemy's military communications during wartime


He said it started before the war, but anyway why do you think he's bringing it up. It's brain-dead legalistic reasoning where if A is OK and A is kind of like B in some arbitrary way then B must also be OK.
The point is that no matter what, it's all legal because of reasons.
Yes, and if it's legal then it's totally OK, as long as the democrats are in power.
posted by delmoi at 3:36 PM on June 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


The US was at WAR with taht country and its citizens during that time. Hello? WW2 remember?

In the mid‐1930s, the U.S. Navy concentrated on Japanese naval cryptographic systems while the U.S. Army Signal Intelligence Service (SIS), under the direction of William F. Friedman, tackled Japanese diplomatic codes. By 1935, the SIS managed to crack Japanese diplomatic messages encrypted by the sophisticated “Red Machine,” which was put into use in the early 1930s. The accomplishments of Friedman and his team were short‐lived because in late 1938, the Japanese foreign ministry introduced a new and more secure cipher machine, the “Purple Machine,” for its top‐secret messages. By the spring of 1939, the new Purple Machine replaced much of the Red Machine traffic. As a result, the SIS found that its vital source of intelligence on Japanese intentions and developments dried up completely. Immediately, Friedman and a group of SIS colleagues focused their attention on unraveling this setback. Friedman benefited immensely from the input of his team, including mathematicians, cryptanalysts, and linguists. They worked laboriously for the next eighteen months to solve Purple and also to construct a Purple Machine.

The breaking of Purple was such a daunting and seemingly unachievable endeavor that Brig. Gen. Joseph O. Mauborgne, chief signal officer, referred to the cryptanalysts as “magicians” and to their results as “magic.” From then onward, the codeword MAGIC was given to the solution of Japanese diplomatic messages that were encrypted by the Purple Machine.


(We weren't at war until around Dec 7, 1941.)
posted by Golden Eternity at 3:42 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well it isn't a hypo. In 1942 the Chicago Tribune published an article implying we were reading JN 25. The Government only stopped its Espionage Act prosecution because they didn't want to draw attention to the article.

(We weren't at war until around Dec 7, 1941.)

Was the US at war with Japan in June of 1942?
posted by bradf at 3:50 PM on June 11, 2013


We weren't at war until around Dec 7, 1941.

And the intelligence gathered by our efforts then did as much to prevent Pearl Harbor as the intelligence that led to the infamous "White House Osama Memo" prevented the attacks on 9/11/01. Of course, the pre-9/11 intelligence could've helped, and was gathered without the powers bestowed by the Patriot Act...

And re: when the US was at war with Japan... I'm quite aware of it; my father was on the crew of a bomber shot down in the Pacific. American espionage didn't make him and his crewmates any safer.

infini's "Scenario One: Castles and Moats" quote is a shockingly prescient view of the way things are now and are becoming even more, with one notable exception: "Terrorist groups have continued their campaign of well-coordinated attacks against the United States and its institutions abroad." Nope. But we're acting like they have.
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:56 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Defense Department Orders Employees, Contractors to Steer Clear of Surveillance Stories
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:57 PM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


How State Secrecy Leads to War
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:58 PM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Google's blog post today is a big deal. Asking the U.S. government to allow Google to publish more national security request data. They are saying "we have answered very few FISA requests", even though legally they aren't allowed to say that. And they're pointing out that the fact they're not allowed to say that is ridiculous. It's a very smart move on their part, and calls into question the scope of PRISM. I know David Drummond from when I worked with him at Google; he's one of the good guys. I mean he's Google's lawyer, not an EFF activist, but he's not going to outright lie and he's very careful about what he says. Google is signaling that they really don't participate in blanket spying on users.

How insane is this, that we have a security policy where it's not even legal to talk about the volume of application of that policy? It's like a child's recipe for tyranny.
posted by Nelson at 4:03 PM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


It is absolutely appalling the number of people who this whole scandal has outed as not caring whether something is (ethically/morally) right, as long as it "legal".
posted by mstokes650 at 4:05 PM on June 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


calls into question the scope of PRISM

As I've said before, what has been released so far paints PRISM as a program that is very limited in scope. But perhaps we'll never know unless the Guardian or WaPo publish the entire PPT deck. And perhaps not even then.
posted by nightwood at 4:12 PM on June 11, 2013


Mozilla, Reddit, 4Chan join coalition of 86 groups asking Congress to end NSA surveillance

Stop Watching Us.
posted by homunculus at 4:13 PM on June 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


The European commission's vice-president, Viviane Reding, has sent a letter with seven detailed questions to the US attorney general, Eric Holder Jr, demanding explanations about Prism and other American data snooping programmes.

Reding warns him that "given the gravity of the situation and the serious concerns expressed in public opinion on this side of the Atlantic" she expects detailed answers before they meet at an EU-US justice ministers' meeting in Dublin on Friday.

[...]
Reding laid out the seven questions she said needed to be answered:

• Are Prism and other similar programmes aimed only at the data of US citizens and residents, or also – even primarily – at non-US nationals, including EU citizens?

• Is access to, collection of or processing of data on the basis of Prism and other programmes … limited to specific and individual cases, and if so what criteria are applied?

• Is the data of individuals accessed, collected or processed in bulk (or on a very wide scale, without justification relating to specific individual cases) either regularly or occasionally?

• Is the scope of these programmes restricted to national security or foreign intelligence or is it broader?

• What avenues, judicial or administrative, are available to companies in the US or the EU to challenge access to, collection of and processing of data under Prism or other programmes?

• What avenues are available to EU citizens to be told if they are affected by Prism or other similar programmes and how do they compare with those available to US citizens?

• What avenues are available to EU citizens or companies to challenge access to, collection of and processing of their personal data under Prism and similar programmes, and how does that compare with the rights of US citizens?

Grauniad.
posted by infini at 4:14 PM on June 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


Leaked documents won't make it easier to fight NSA in court: Legal precedents protecting domestic surveillance have been building for years
posted by homunculus at 4:17 PM on June 11, 2013


If you live a life unshaped by the mediating institutions of civil society, perhaps it makes sense to see the world a certain way: Life is not embedded in a series of gently gradated authoritative structures: family, neighborhood, religious group, state, nation and world. Instead, it’s just the solitary naked individual and the gigantic and menacing state.

Who says I accept the authority of even half of these things? My family could love being surveilled; that wouldn't mean I have to accept it. My neighborhood—I don't know anyone in my neighborhood. Religious group? I was married in a Jewish ceremony, but I'm not particularly observant; Judaism is a cultural choice for me, not a religious one, and I'm not a member of any temple. My state? It's run by fools. So no, I don't accept your "gently gradated authoritative structures," Mr. Brooks, and I don't accept your premise.
posted by limeonaire at 4:20 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


If Edward Snowden Can So Easily Leak Secrets, What Else Could NSA Agents Do?
posted by homunculus at 4:23 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


the man of twists and turns......thanks for that link. It reminded me why (as a left leaning person) I love reading the American Conservative. It is certainly not predictable. How quickly we forget that it was secrecy that allowed the Iraq debacle to move forward. The ramp up to that war is a shining example, as bright as a 1000 suns, for why we can't trust elected officials and their appointees to act in our collective best interests under the veil of secrecy. As the article so correctly points out, it is not leaks that gets huge numbers of people killed, it is foolish and clueless strategic blunders fueled by secrecy.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 4:27 PM on June 11, 2013


If Edward Snowden Can So Easily Leak Secrets, What Else Could NSA Agents Do?

Ironically, maybe American businesses will lead the charge against the NSA's data mining activities.


What could google employees do?
posted by Golden Eternity at 4:28 PM on June 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Evil.
posted by gman at 4:31 PM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


hurf durf - not a police state, no abuse of power

If the conviction rate is 99+% - is that good policing/prosecution or a police state?

No one had mentioned QWEST - a firm that said "no" to wiretapping during the Bush II.

We know what happened in the case of QWest before 9/11. They contacted the CEO/Chairman asking to wiretap all the customers. After he consulted with Legal, he refused. As a result, NSA canceled a bunch of unrelated billion dollar contracts that QWest was the top bidder for. And then the DoJ targeted him and prosecuted him and put him in prison for insider trading -- on the theory that he knew of anticipated income from secret programs that QWest was planning for the government, while the public didn't because it was classified and he couldn't legally tell them, and then he bought or sold QWest stock knowing those things.

hurf durf - defending the actions of Obama

At least the readers can compare/contrast with what said posters said about the last guy and what they are saying this time 'round. Then the readers can decide for themselves if the defenders are the same type of 20%ers who supported Nixon when he was impeached or just making sure they keep their jobs working in their Government jobs.
posted by rough ashlar at 4:38 PM on June 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


I would expect answers provided to the EU to be calculated to be exactly what the EU wants to hear. The NSA has already proven that they'll lie about the sky being blue. Why should this be any harder for them?

It's not like there's any real ability for anyone to look at a bank of servers and say "oh, that one is scooping up Facebook posts from German teenagers, that's illegal and you need to turn it off, but this one over here, this one is just looking at specific US citizens with court-approved surveillance orders, so it's cool."

There's absolutely no way for the NSA's statements about their servers to be proven as anything other than they say it is, because it's a frigging computer and you can't just pop the lid and look inside.

That's why this is on one hand a fucking farce, and on the other hand a very real chance for change. If people realize that the NSA simply cannot be trusted to answer truthfully because there is no way to verify their statements, then there's a slim chance that the whole thing will get pulled down to the bricks.... nah, there isn't. No chance at all.

Even if they blow up the Utah data centre, there's a million other anonymous warehouses with giant chillers on them.

No, what will happen is we'll be told "but wait!" and then "we'll look into it!" and "aha!" and "look! we found these two people who's hearts were in the right place but got a little excited about what the president's orders actually meant" and "check it: we're throwing these people under the bus!" and then "it's all cool, back to your tv shows and nachos, folks"

I'm calling it right now, it'll be just like that.
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:41 PM on June 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


When the Bushies Return: If you don't like what the Obama administration is doing to prevent terrorism, think about what it will be like in the next Republican administration.
posted by homunculus at 4:42 PM on June 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


The classification of documents has gone through the roof. Washington classified a staggering 92 million public records in 2011, up from 77 million the year before and from 14 million in 2003.

This is the secrecy state. The powers that be are making ridiculous claims that literally any information at all will compromise our security in grave ways. At some point this entire exercise becomes intellectually laughable. And I think we have moved beyond that point. I have yet to hear a compelling argument for why knowing the broadest outlines of surveillance policy (that some here argue is within established law--so why the big secret?) seriously compromises our national security. I bet our enemies already know that we are doing lawful things to spy on them. It is the unlawful things that they probably wouldn't expect.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 4:43 PM on June 11, 2013


Was NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden a Ron Paul Supporter? ... I don't understand why it matters.

Because it is an attempt to create a link for an emotive response.

Humans like little boxes to put things in - and for some Ron Paul invokes a certain response - an emotional box. By getting the matter placed in a box, one hopes the box-driven person then files it in the same place as the emotive box. If its part of a discussion - a disucssion about the box can become a derail.

One can watch such on The Blue in the various topics discussed.
posted by rough ashlar at 4:44 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


If brought back to the US alive, is Snowden likely to face the death penalty? Joseph and Ethel Rosenberg were executed for violating the Official Secrets Act, whereas Manning is facing charges under the same act, but only facing life in prison (though this may be because Sweden/Australia would be unable to hand over Assange if the death penalty wasn't decisively off the table).
posted by acb at 4:48 PM on June 11, 2013


No, he won't face the death penalty.
posted by Justinian at 4:51 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


At some point this entire exercise becomes intellectually laughable. And I think we have moved beyond that point. I have yet to hear a compelling argument for why knowing the broadest outlines of surveillance policy (that some here argue is within established law--so why the big secret?) seriously compromises our national security.

Even if you believe it to be legal, constitutional, and wise, I can't really think of a good reason why the Verizon FISA order should remain classified until 2038.
posted by dsfan at 4:54 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Bush violated existing law with what he did. Obama pledged to keep within the law and he has done so.

So nice when one changes the law to make what was illegal legal.

Of course a "law" that makes something "legal" when that law isn't Constitutional has issues. Of course, how does one gain standing if the actions based on the "law" are secret?
posted by rough ashlar at 4:55 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Pretty shoddy recruiting and security practices on display here from Booz Allen Hamilton.

Yes, they failed to hire a souless sociopath who was willing to do whatever was asked for in exchange for money.
posted by rough ashlar at 4:58 PM on June 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


Humans like little boxes to put things in [...] an emotional box. By getting the matter placed in a box, one hopes the box-driven person then files it in the same place as the emotive box. If its part of a discussion - a disucssion about the box can become a derail.

Yep:

Yes, they failed to hire a souless sociopath who was willing to do whatever was asked for in exchange for money.
posted by nightwood at 5:06 PM on June 11, 2013


One more scenario... (although the one I was specifically looking for, from the World Economic Forum's workshops in Jan 2006 is now mired in the muck that is the modern search engine). Note how its always Scenario 1

Here is a brief overview of these highly detailed scenarios.

Scenario 1) Fortress skcolidloG (Goldilocks in reverse). “This is a world of high technology in which fierce competition reigns, with conflict over everything from resources to religion. Rapid development of technology is valued as a means of enhancing security. It is a world of trade blocs and protectionism, slowing the distribution of resources worldwide and eventually slowing growth - and making it potentially very unequal between economies. This is the world economists and policy makers hoped would never emerge again after the lessons of the 1930s. Insecurity is real, not just a high perception of insecurity. (Goldilocks economy refers to an economy where the pace of growth is just right, not too hot and not too cold.) This scenario finds the military driving R&D and innovation in search of greater security, yet security is in reality (not just in perception) much worse than today. The high level of insecurity drives the world into introverted blocs. Among other flashpoints, resource-hungry economies such as China and Japan are drawn into conflict as they attempt to secure their supply lines in a global economy that is initially growing fast and where sustaining growth depends increasingly on the power of the bloc to attract the necessary means of production.”
same via
posted by infini at 5:08 PM on June 11, 2013


I'd bet 40 cents that its all on behalf of corporations and industries, competitive intelligence I believe the course called in the B-schools.
posted by infini at 5:10 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Will Booze Allen get to him before the US Government. All those partners in every country with their bonus' on the line.
posted by humanfont at 5:21 PM on June 11, 2013


I wish Greenwald would hurry up and release those other documents he's hinted at. Although I suppose it's smart to wait another couple of days for the authorities to get their story straight about this first batch of docs, then hit 'em with another batch that undermines the narrative.
posted by notyou at 5:36 PM on June 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


Dianne Feinstein: "What he did was an act of treason"
posted by delmoi at 5:59 PM on June 11, 2013


Dianne Feinstein: "What he did was an act of treason"

Sen. Feinstein, supporting the creation of a surveillance state is an act of treason.
posted by ryoshu at 6:08 PM on June 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


Here's Al Franken on video: "I can assure you, this is not about spying on the American people. I have a high level of confidence that this is used to protect us and I know that it has been successful in preventing terrorism."
posted by delmoi at 6:14 PM on June 11, 2013


ACLU Sues NSA Over Mass Phone Spying
posted by homunculus at 6:22 PM on June 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


"Tell Me What Is Being Done in My Name", Charles P. Pierce, Esquire Politics Blog, 11 June 2013

In Which My Plea Goes Unanswered

The Snowden Effect, Day Two
posted by homunculus at 6:38 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


AP Editor: Do Not Describe Edward Snowden As A 'Whistleblower'

Whistleblowers are people who expose wrongdoing. Whistleblowers deserve protection. We do not yet know whether Snowden exposed wrongdoing; therefore we do not yet know whether he deserves protection. In fact the only people who can determine whether Snowden deserves protection are the very same people who would be prosecuting him. Catch- (I suppose) -23.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:44 PM on June 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


Apparently random talking heads are accusing Snowden of being a loser who wasn't accomplishing much in life, leaking the the stuff in a cry for attention and notoriety.
posted by delmoi at 6:51 PM on June 11, 2013


Apparently random talking heads are accusing Snowden of being a loser who wasn't accomplishing much in life, leaking the the stuff in a cry for attention and notoriety.

They have been given their marching orders from high up.
posted by anemone of the state at 6:57 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


GlobalPost goes inside the United States to uncover the regime’s dramatic descent into authoritarian rule and how the opposition plans to fight back.
posted by ryoshu at 7:22 PM on June 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


Huh....it really didn't read like satire. Using the word "regime" is always a nice touch.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 7:34 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why I don't think Snowden is, or will become, a Chinese intelligence asset, by former INSCOM commander.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:39 PM on June 11, 2013


The NSA's Best Defense of PRISM Didn't Even Last a Week
Looks like surveillance defenders just lost their main talking point in defense of the NSA's (formerly) secret phone and data tracking programs: Najibullah Zazi, the would-be New York City subway bomber, could have easily been caught without PRISM. That's according to a devastating rebuttal from the Associated Press out Tuesday, which further explains that those employing the Zazi defense didn't even get the details right on the attempted plot in the first place.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:42 PM on June 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


AP Editor: Do Not Describe Edward Snowden As A 'Whistleblower'

Not surprised in the least that Snowden did not trust the mainstream press enough to bring this story to them. What a bunch of stooges for Obama and company.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:56 PM on June 11, 2013


AP Editor: Do Not Describe Edward Snowden As A 'Whistleblower'

This is rich. Coming from the same organization who just last month issued a strongly worded letter of protest for the "massive and unprecedented intrusion" into their private records by the USJD (which has just been dwarfed by the implications of PRISM), they now start to waffle on the moral basis of their outrage.

Sometimes whether a person is a whistle-blower can be established only some time after the revelations, depending on what wrongdoing is confirmed or how public opinion eventually develops. [emphasis mine]

Our intrepid journalists have their fingers in the wind.
posted by troll at 7:59 PM on June 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


Hashtag of the Day: #NSAKidsBooks

Dear NSA, let me take care of your slides. You can do whatever with my data. But not with my eyes. Those slides are hideous.
posted by Room 641-A at 8:04 PM on June 11, 2013 [8 favorites]


Al Franken: "I can assure you, this is not about spying on the American people. I have a high level of confidence that this is used to protect us and I know that it has been successful in preventing terrorism."

We've lost Franken. He's obviously being blackmailed with a threat to release his old SNL outtakes.
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:18 PM on June 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Those kids books are great:
THERE'S WALDO and here are the names and identities of every single person on this page
THE LISTENING TREE
CHARLOTTE'S WEBCAM
EVERYBODY SNOOPS
posted by JHarris at 8:23 PM on June 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


We've lost Franken. He's obviously being blackmailed with a threat to release his old SNL outtakes.

I seem to recall being surprised by his okey-dokey approach to SOPA/PIPA, the theory then being that he was getting a lot of money from those interested in pushing it.

Wonder what's driving him now...money again, or a strangely trusting attitude (for a liberal) towards the surveillance lovers?
posted by emjaybee at 8:41 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Or, conceivably, he has access to information the public doesn't and concludes the threat is overblown...

Not entirely sure I agree with that, but given that he's privy to a lot of info the rest of us are not, I'm at least willing to entertain it as a theory, given his track record.
posted by modernnomad at 8:43 PM on June 11, 2013


given his track record.
What track record is that, exactly?
posted by delmoi at 8:47 PM on June 11, 2013


What is his track record? This issue doesn't break along the left-right divide. This episode has revealed that potential tyrants exist in both parties. I would not trust any of them. And I guess we can never know what he is privy to, given that everything is secret.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 8:49 PM on June 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


So, aside from Rand Paul and the ridiculously laughable claim of Jim Sensenbrenner that the Patriot Act (which he was a big part in writing) was designed to protect liberties, what has been the response from sitting Republican legislators? It feels like a lot of Dem legislators are in "toeing the party line" mode, but it seems really odd that the Dems can muster party cohesiveness for this and not for, you know, critical votes on a broad party agenda.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:01 PM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


John Oliver Slams GOP For Backing NSA, Not Gun Control: 2nd Amendment Wins! Only One ‘With A F*cking Gun’
posted by homunculus at 9:11 PM on June 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


As far as i can tell most of the republicans have been outraged by snowden's actions. For example, former IRA supporter Pete King says: "This guy is dangerous to the country. He had, I think, real questions as to why he left the CIA." ... "I think he should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I consider him right now to be a defector."
posted by delmoi at 9:12 PM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


It feels like a lot of Dem legislators are in "toeing the party line" mode
Representative Henry Waxman, a California Democrat, said on Friday he thought the administration had good intentions but stressed the program was "just too broad an over-reach."

"I think there ought to be some connection to suspicion, otherwise we can say that any intrusion on all of our privacy is justified for the times that we will catch the few terrorists," Waxman told MSNBC. "Good intentions are not enough. We need protections against government intrusion that goes too far."
When people say "Write your Congressperson!" I write mine love letters.
posted by Room 641-A at 9:15 PM on June 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), accompanied by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Dean Heller (R-NV), Mark Begich (D-AK), Al Franken (D-MN), Jon Tester (D-MT), and Ron Wyden (D-OR), introduced a bill Tuesday that would put an end to the “secret law” governing controversial government surveillance program.

So there is some bipartisan push back here. Interesting that Franken is part of this considering his earlier statement.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 9:24 PM on June 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


John Oliver Slams GOP For Backing NSA, Not Gun Control: 2nd Amendment Wins! Only One ‘With A F*cking Gun’

I got Daily Show'd-out after the election but John Oliver has hooked me again.
posted by Room 641-A at 9:26 PM on June 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


John Oliver Slams GOP For Backing NSA, Not Gun Control: 2nd Amendment Wins! Only One ‘With A F*cking Gun’

Excellent. His Australian gun control series was almost a masterclass in pitch-perfect satire.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:32 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


His Australian gun control series was almost a masterclass in pitch-perfect satire.

There are links to that series here.
posted by homunculus at 9:38 PM on June 11, 2013


I seem to recall being surprised by his okey-dokey approach to SOPA/PIPA, the theory then being that he was getting a lot of money from those interested in pushing it.

Wonder what's driving him now...money again, or a strangely trusting attitude (for a liberal) towards the surveillance lovers?


I suspect Franken (like a lot of Congresspeople) is just too technologically illiterate to have a good handle on what either SOPA/PIPA or this stuff really means.
posted by mstokes650 at 9:47 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I suspect Franken (like a lot of Congresspeople) is just too technologically illiterate to have a good handle on what either SOPA/PIPA or this stuff really means.

I've been thinking about this a lot lately - the fact that there are just so, so many gaps in the experience and knowledge of decision makers in all branches of government, and what a hard nut this is to crack but how necessary it is to crack it.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:57 PM on June 11, 2013


That Franken quote is unfortunate because he has been mostly doing God's work WRT the PATRIOT Act and privacy. The interview also included the following (at least according to The Hill), which softens it a bit:
I don't believe that the American people should have to take the government's word for it," Franken said. "I think there should be enough transparency so that the American people understand what's happening.”
And his voting record?
A spokeswoman for Franken subsequently noted that the senator voted against the Patriot Act reauthorization in 2011 over similar concerns that the final version didn't include adequate transparency or privacy protections.

"Sen. Franken voted against reauthorizing the FISA Act because of the lack of transparency after he cosponsored and voted for three separate amendments that would have improved the bill on transparency and privacy," Franken press aide Alexandra Fetissoff said.
That's in addition to co-sponsoring the bill noted above.
posted by notyou at 10:02 PM on June 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


...introduced a bill Tuesday that would put an end to the “secret law” governing controversial government surveillance program.
This bill would require the Attorney General to declassify significant Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) opinions, allowing Americans to know how broad of a legal authority the government is claiming to spy on Americans under the PATRIOT Act and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
This is well and good but insufficient. Merely revealing the extent of the problem does nothing in itself to reign it in, and I am not confident that an "informed public debate" [Wyden] would yield reform against the powerful moneyed interests, who would of course have pre-rigged any "debate." What a laughable word in the context of how we do things in America. We buy and sell influence, end of story.
posted by troll at 10:15 PM on June 11, 2013


FOIAing the NSA: What you can get, what you can't and where to start
posted by homunculus at 10:34 PM on June 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Well, it's a good step forward. Although there's the question of what qualifies as "significant" - but they also need the OLC memos which contain the 'interpretation' of the laws.

It's kind of ironic, one of the specific things Obama criticized Bush on was classifying OLC memos.
I suspect Franken (like a lot of Congresspeople) is just too technologically illiterate to have a good handle on what either SOPA/PIPA or this stuff really means.
Please. Franken is by far one of the most technologically literate senators out there. He supported SOPA/PIPA because he believed it in it, because he's a Hollywood guy and I'm sure he gets a lot of financial support from them. During the fight against it, when many people were dropping their support for the bill, he hung on till the bitter end. (I brought this up in another thread, and someone linked to some comments of his which were your typical politician B.S. type stuff)

As far as the patriot act, was that from his own website or something? He voted for cloture on the patriot act renewal. That's the vote that actually matters, with the way the senate works these days. And the patriot act is only one vote of many.

It's certainly a good sign that he's on this bill, but yeah, acting like he's some crusading hero against government power is quite a stretch.
posted by delmoi at 10:34 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


The United States vs. PFC Bradley Manning: a graphic novel – in pictures
posted by homunculus at 11:53 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is well and good but insufficient. Merely revealing the extent of the problem does nothing in itself to reign it in,

Oh yes it does -- it lets the public know how far it's gone in concrete terms. In a democracy, good lasting change always begins with the opinions of the people. If the people are not in favor of a thing, then even if a politician does something objectively good it's not likely to last. I think that ultimately Snowden's greatest thing may turn out to be just getting the public riled up enough about it to do something -- which is part of why I view people still trying to play the "oh it's not really so bad" game with some amount of contempt. It really is that bad, don't be so damn apathetic.

and I am not confident that an "informed public debate" [Wyden] would yield reform against the powerful moneyed interests, who would of course have pre-rigged any "debate."

Of course the cynical pose is often right, and it's always a fight to get real change done. But that is as it should be. The real battle is of public opinion, and why should random voters listen to any one of us, just because we tell them we're right? Anyone can do that. We must show them how far it's gone, appeal to their better natures, use logic and reasoning. That's the only proper way to change the world; anything else is a cheat, and the forces of the lazy, the apathetic, the brazen and the selfish arrayed against us are a lot better at cheating than we are.

What a laughable word in the context of how we do things in America. We buy and sell influence, end of story.

If it's so hopeless, why do you bother telling us about it?
posted by JHarris at 12:26 AM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


George Takei Fears NSA Spying Will Lead to Something Much Worse
posted by homunculus at 12:45 AM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


homunculus: “FOIAing the NSA: What you can get, what you can't and where to start
From the same folks: Untangling the Web: A Guide to Internet Research
From Michael Morisy on April 9, 2013:
To Whom It May Concern:

This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act. I hereby request the following records:

A copy of the book, "Untangling the Web: A Guide to Internet Research." [PDF]

Authored by Robyn Winder and Charlie Speight, it was published by the Center for Digital Content of the National Security Agency in 2007.
Y'all, if you're like me, you've got serious ass pirate problems, and you never knew you coveted this PDF until this morning.
posted by ob1quixote at 1:27 AM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think some kind of mass protest is warranted. I'm not sure whether it is mass cancelation of gmail and Facebook accounts, or everyone opening ten new gmail and Facebook accounts and flooding them with innocuous materials loaded with false positive keywords. Saturate the fucking sponge.
posted by spitbull at 3:51 AM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Roots of Fortress World pg. 33 (41 of pdf)
posted by infini at 4:36 AM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think some kind of mass protest is warranted. I'm not sure whether it is mass cancelation of gmail and Facebook accounts, or everyone opening ten new gmail and Facebook accounts and flooding them with innocuous materials loaded with false positive keywords. Saturate the fucking sponge.

What sponge? I think to do that you will have to open up millions of Verizon business accounts and make billions of short phone calls to unique phone numbers. Not sure who or what that will damage, though.
posted by nightwood at 5:08 AM on June 12, 2013


Or you could show up on the NSA director's front lawn and drink from a garden hose until he runs out of water. That'll show 'em.
posted by indubitable at 5:13 AM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


And they ought to know! Germans accuse U.S. of Stasi tactics before Obama visit
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:16 AM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Choose One: Secrecy and Democracy Are Incompatible, Conor Friedersdorf takes on Josh Marshall's rather inane earlier referenced comment.
If that policy is a legitimate secret, it means...

_ That seizing and storing the phone records of all Americans would never be openly debated in Congress.

_ That the propriety of the policy would never be a campaign issue, and could not be raised by challengers in Congressional races.

_ That it would never be subject to challenge in open court.

Is that acceptable to Marshall?

I'd like to hear his general theory of legitimate government. Does it include policies adopted in secret and run totally outside the normal methods of accountability? Are those just as legitimate as any other policy? If so, Marshall's theory of government isn't a Madisonian democracy.

....

What Marshall doesn't grasp is that -- like Edward Snowden's leak -- secrecy itself renders "certain things no longer possible." What's more damaging to representative democracy, denying government its secret policies, or denying the citizenry the ability to influence major policy debates?
Also: The Obama Surveillance Revelations Are Pushing Liberals Over the Edge
It was sent by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a leading liberal organization, to its list of supporters, and it asked them to sign a petition demanding an investigation of the cell-phone surveillance. "It's simply unacceptable," the email said.
...
It is PCCC's first campaign on a civil-liberties issue; the group is best known for its work pushing progressive economic policies, including campaigns against entitlement cuts and on behalf of Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. On Monday, the group started a legal-defense fund for leaker Edward Snowden, and on Wednesday it plans to deliver nearly 30,000 petition signatures to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
posted by delmoi at 5:43 AM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, symbolic protests are still protests, actually. Most protests are mostly or entirely symbolic, but still take some form of symbolic refusal at their core.

But I also had in mind making it a bit more of a threat to bottom lines of the private companies involved, and apply some pressure from the internet public (as in SOPA/PIPA) to get them more aggressive in resisting and demanding accountability and lobbying on behalf of limiting government's access to their data, which is of course our data too (YMMV depending on user agreement). Interestingly, today both Google and Facebook are supposedly making noises about wanting to reveal the extent of the requests they have complied with. I think they are feeling some heat both from their userbase (and they have great tools to read the pulse of the public mood) and from their people, many of whom are products of a pretty savvy IT subculture that is politicized around these issues already.

When government surveillance is bad for the private surveillance needs of the advertising business, opposition to it will have a political voice.
posted by spitbull at 6:06 AM on June 12, 2013


Edward Snowden’s Girlfriend Is a Pole-Dancing Acrobat With a Dramatic Blog: featuring photos of a young woman in her underwear, links to her Twitter account, Youtube account, and cached blog, and annoying misinformation about how archiving on the Internet works. Thank god we finally have some sex to distract us from the willing erosion of civil liberties in the United States.
posted by Nelson at 7:20 AM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Again, why are we linking girlfriend information, Nelson? It is irrelevant, unless it turns out she knew something, which no-one has been saying. Why are we adding to the noise?

I don't care if she was a bunny-killing Satanist. She's not the issue.
posted by emjaybee at 7:32 AM on June 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


I linked it because this seems MeFi thread seems to be a discussion about Snowden, the man, and how the media is portraying him. She's part of the story. But I missed the moderator comments above about posting about her. I totally defer to their judgement in shaping this thread.
posted by Nelson at 7:38 AM on June 12, 2013


Thank god we finally have some sex to distract
Apparently Snowden Himself has become something of a sex symbol as well.

My link to a buzzfeed article about her blog with some pictures got deleted way back when, but the mainstream media hasn't been shy about talking about her, showing her pictures/videos and talking smack about her.
posted by delmoi at 7:39 AM on June 12, 2013


Support Edward Snowden HK香港聲援愛德華.斯諾登

Rally, 3pm Saturday, 15 June 2013, Chater Garden, Central, Hong Kong
posted by Mister Bijou at 7:44 AM on June 12, 2013


This is from last week but I haven't seen it linked yet:
Tester: Obama Admin NSA Spying Is ‘Overreach’
Montana Dem. breaks with party leadership, Obama admin on NSA program
Looks like he's making the rounds again today, too.
posted by Room 641-A at 8:23 AM on June 12, 2013


Craig Murray (who should know about these things)
NSA and GCHQ share ALL intelligence reports .
US citizens are included in the UK Prism operation, and UK citizens are included in the US Prism operation, and the swapping of resulting intelligence reports is an automatic process.
posted by adamvasco at 8:26 AM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Nate Silver tweet: "Was agnostic about Snowden but some of the Op-Ed columns attacking him are so terrible I'm now convinced he must have done something right."

Richard Clark: Why you should worry about the NSA

No, Edward Snowden probably didn’t commit treason, which explains why Snowden isn't actually guilty of treason despite the claims of various politicians.
posted by delmoi at 8:29 AM on June 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Apparently he's still in HK, or claims to be: Whistleblower Edward Snowden tells SCMP: 'Let Hong Kong people decide my fate'
“People who think I made a mistake in picking Hong Kong as a location misunderstand my intentions. I am not here to hide from justice; I am here to reveal criminality,” Snowden said in an exclusive interview with the South China Morning Post.

“I have had many opportunities to flee HK, but I would rather stay and fight the United States government in the courts, because I have faith in Hong Kong’s rule of law,” he added.
posted by delmoi at 8:33 AM on June 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Richard Clark: Why you should worry about the NSA

Reminder: Richard Clark, the former National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-terrorism, was the first (and possibly only) government official to apologize to the victims of 9/11 both personally and for the U.S.)
posted by Room 641-A at 8:39 AM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


i am surprised he has not moved to Macau which is only 40 miles away and apparantly has no extradition treaty with the US.
posted by adamvasco at 8:47 AM on June 12, 2013


Whenever we have these debates the best argument for the defenders of the three letter agencies seems to me to be "you would understand if you knew what we know".

Assuming this is not pure bullshit, then what I want to see leaked is what they know that justifies this level of spying. If it's there is an all out ongoing secret cyberwar with Chinese and Russian agents who are hacker geniuses with the morals of James Bond villains and our extant security apparatus is a house of cards or it's a leaking vessel and all these legal spying powers are needed to keep us afloat bailing water as hard as we can and there are 48 Jack Bauer types dying in secret every other week, then that would actually be a pretty good argument.

My guess is it's pure bullshit. If it isn't would somebody please leak some evidence?
posted by bukvich at 8:54 AM on June 12, 2013


No sarcasm: he is the best human.

Fighting this in the court system will ensure it stays bubbling around in the news cycle for freaking years. Anything else he could do and it would just blow over. But he's going to make Obama's weasels fight.

I'm getting a little bit of that "12-dimensional chess" about this guy. Which is good, because that beats Obama's 11 dimensions pretty easily.
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:56 AM on June 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


I must admit that I like the way this issue is hanging over Obama's head like the sword of Damocles as he travels the globe to meet with heads of state. It is making the constitutional lawyer squirm. It is giving him a big dose of humility I hope. And the fact that a "high school dropout" is making it all happen is just icing on the cake.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 8:59 AM on June 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


Again, why are we linking girlfriend information...

Because she's connected to him. The story is now longer just about what he did, but who he is and the people around.

The question of whether this is right or wrong is almost irrelevant. The mob wants to be fed information and by revealing himself, the story does become about him.

I must admit that I like the way this issue is hanging over Obama's head like the sword of Damocles as he travels the globe to meet with heads of state. It is making the constitutional lawyer squirm. It is giving him a big dose of humility I hope.

I seriously doubt someone who twice sought out the Presidency is squirming much or is suddenly learning humility. This is just problem on a long list of problems.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:45 AM on June 12, 2013


I must admit that I like the way this issue is hanging over Obama's head like the sword of Damocles as he travels the globe to meet with heads of state.
Yeah, he was supposed to be giving another big outdoor speech in Germany, like the one he gave during his campaign - before the leaks he had an 82% approval rating there. Now he's German officials comparing the NSA to the Stasi.

Since he's been president Obama comes across as kind of smug and condescending, especially when talking to people more liberal then he is, and particularly on civil liberties. He does this thing all the time where he basically summarizes the other person's argument, then gives the counter argument (The classic example: "no one is above the law, but let's look forward not backwards" on prosecuting bush people on torture)

Anyway, rather then taking civil liberties seriously he ignored people who had concerns and plowed ahead with these programs, keeping them classified and using national security rules to keep them from being litigated.

Anyway, nice to see his Hubris in trusting the surveillance state, ignoring of warnings on civil liberties, and clampdown on leakers all bite him in the ass at once.
It is making the constitutional lawyer squirm.


I've always thought people kind of misunderstood what "constitutional lawyer" meant. They assume if someone is a constitutional lawyer they must be "pro-constitution", but obviously the other side needs lawyers too, they need people to try to twist the words to argue that things like PRISM are constitutional.

I actually saw a "constitutional lawyer" on TV argue that the 4th amendment doesn't actually require warrants at all. This was on a discussion on Chris Hayes show about the new SCOTUS ruling on DNA collection. He said the 4th amendment only requires reasonable cause because the exact words:

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supportedby Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized"

Do not literally say that searches require warrants, only that they not be "unreasonable" - apparently the fact that the next half of the sentence talks about warrants is just a coincidence, it's totally unrelated to the first half.

Then he went on to say that "solving a crime" is a "reasonable" thing to do, so collecting DNA from people, even if there is no reason to suspect they've been involved in any particular crime at all.

Because the probable cause stuff is just about Warrants not about searches they just have to be "reasonable" - although it's not at all clear what purpose warrants are even supposed to serve, in his mind. here's a link
posted by delmoi at 9:45 AM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


It is either a very weird coincidence or uncanny timing, but I regularly have to use the federal "Research.gov" web platform for research funding administration purposes.

And today, for the first time, the research.gov front page has a big banner ad telling me how I can now log in with my Gmail or Yahoo account instead of my federal fastlane user ID and password.

Creeeeeepy.
posted by spitbull at 9:47 AM on June 12, 2013


I seriously doubt someone who twice sought out the Presidency is squirming much or is suddenly learning humility. This is just problem on a long list of problems.

Unlike something like the deepwater horizon spill, this is a problem he created for himself by ignoring his critics, betraying the policy he campaigned on and thinking his war on whistle-blowers would let him keep it secret.
posted by delmoi at 9:51 AM on June 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


Also, exactly what Nate Silver said. If this is really no big deal and everybody already knew the NSA did this and why are you getting your liberal knickers in a knot, young feller, then why the big deal? Why the treason talk?
posted by spitbull at 9:52 AM on June 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Why the treason talk?

Because you don't just hand out NSA secrets.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:59 AM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, that's called "mishandling classified information", or possibly "espionage" not "treason"
posted by delmoi at 10:03 AM on June 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


I seriously doubt someone who twice sought out the Presidency is squirming much or is suddenly learning humility. This is just problem on a long list of problems.

Unlike something like the deepwater horizon spill, this is a problem he created for himself by ignoring his critics, betraying the policy he campaigned on and thinking his war on whistle-blowers would let him keep it secret.


Can't seem to find it in the nanny version of search engine over here but saw an article fleetingly about his concern that he may meet the fate of mlk. (and thus, the argument went, his lack of stronger stance)

Also saw a weird tweet that the whistleblown is no longer with us, but moved on to meet his maker.

/repeating gossip in the middle of the night/ that is all/nothing to see here
posted by infini at 10:29 AM on June 12, 2013


Because you don't just hand out NSA secrets.

Never? An "except when......." doesn't need to be added to that statement? Because if that is the case then the NSA pretty much has total authority to give us whatever government it wants us to have. And we are back at the beginning of the debate all over again.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 10:34 AM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Apparently he's still in HK, or claims to be: Whistleblower Edward Snowden tells SCMP: 'Let Hong Kong people decide my fate'
Sorry...
Our servers are temporarily unavailable.

We're currently fixing the problem and the site should be back up and running in the next few minutes. Apologies for any inconvenience caused.
Bummer. Other sources are talking about the interview, though:

Edward Snowden vows to fight anticipated US extradition request: NSA whistleblower says he is not in Hong Kong to 'hide from justice' and says he will put his faith in province's legal system
posted by homunculus at 10:34 AM on June 12, 2013


Never? An "except when......." doesn't need to be added to that statement? Because if that is the case then the NSA pretty much has total authority to give us whatever government it wants us to have. And we are back at the beginning of the debate all over again.

Apologies, didn't realize it was a debate, which doesn't interested me, as most people seem to have made up their mind already.

I was responding to an earlier comment questioning 'all the treason talk'. To me, it's pretty straightforward where that description would come from, if one is revealing NSA or other agency secrets, then absconding to another country.

Through in the "Hong Kong, you judge me" and it's pretty much guaranteed he'll be accused of treason, no matter his reasons.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:40 AM on June 12, 2013


I didn't know we'd declared war on Hong Kong.
posted by delmoi at 10:42 AM on June 12, 2013


"Treason" has a pretty specific definition: No, Edward Snowden probably didn’t commit treason
posted by notyou at 10:42 AM on June 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Workin' in the Data Mine...
posted by homunculus at 10:57 AM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Kenyans respond
posted by infini at 10:59 AM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


NSA and GCHQ share ALL intelligence reports .

This guy should have asked the NSA receptionist to redirect his call to GCHQ.
posted by homunculus at 10:59 AM on June 12, 2013


AP Editor: Do Not Describe Edward Snowden As A 'Whistleblower'

Whistleblowers are people who expose wrongdoing ... We do not yet know whether Snowden exposed wrongdoing.


Even if all these programs are somehow completely legal, Snowden has exposed the fact that the Director of National Intelligence lied to Congress. It's not a matter of whether he exposed wrongdoing, but how much.
posted by compartment at 11:04 AM on June 12, 2013 [10 favorites]


Snowden exposed wrongdoing: he proved that the DNI lied to Congress.

I seriously doubt someone who twice sought out the Presidency is squirming much or is suddenly learning humility.

Watch the "Candidate Obama vs. President Obama" video I posted above and you will see him squirming.
posted by rhizome at 11:16 AM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ahhhh, so the AP is a house organ.

Snowden has made so many things clear.
posted by seanmpuckett at 11:16 AM on June 12, 2013


Snowden announced today he will stay in Hong Kong
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:40 AM on June 12, 2013


"Treason" has a pretty specific definition: No, Edward Snowden probably didn’t commit treason

That's a good and valid point on the legal definition of treason. But he's most certainly going to be branded as a traitor and committing treason in the public sphere, as we've already seen. Also, a case could probably be made that he aided and abetted the enemy by releasing details of the system used to hunt for terrorism. It's just a matter of what case the US government wants to make, if any.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:48 AM on June 12, 2013


Snowden exposed wrongdoing: he proved that the DNI lied to Congress.

Here's Director Clapper's incriminating testimony:

Making Alberto Gonzales Look Good
On March 12, James Clapper, director of national intelligence, testified at an open congressional hearing. Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, asked him whether the National Security Agency collects “any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans.”

His answer: “No sir.” Then he added: “Not wittingly.”
I believe the proper Alberto Gonzales-approved response is, "I don't recall."
posted by Room 641-A at 11:51 AM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


James Clapper: I Gave 'Least Untruthful' Answer Possible On NSA Surveillance
posted by Room 641-A at 11:53 AM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


"committing treason in the public sphere" - non sequitur.
Snowden announced today he will stay in Hong Kong
Wow, that NYT article really makes it sound as though Hong Kong was a terrible choice, but it also sounds like most of their sources working with the US government.
Mr. Snowden’s decision to stay in Hong Kong came as a person with knowledge of the Hong Kong government’s work on the case said local government lawyers, working with United States government lawyers, had identified 36 offenses with which Mr. Snowden could be charged under both Hong Kong and American laws.

... any attempt by the United States to extradite Mr. Snowden would have to cite offenses that violate the laws in both countries, are punishable by jail terms of a year or more and meet the terms of that agreement. One of the 36 offenses involves the release of official secrets, which is illegal in Hong Kong and the United States, said the person familiar with Hong Kong government efforts, ....

Mr. Snowden could delay extradition proceedings by requesting political asylum in Hong Kong. But he will almost certainly be taken into custody and jailed as soon as he files for asylum, because he would no longer qualify as a visitor to Hong Kong, the person said.
...
An ideological divide has opened in Hong Kong’s legal profession over how long Mr. Snowden can manage to avoid extradition to the United States. Some human rights lawyers say he could resist for years, partly by filing for asylum, although they predict that he would eventually lose his case and be sent back.
It seems strange to think that a guy this careful in other ways would just throw darts at a board and hope for the best, and apparently spurn Russia's offer to host him, presumably because people would say he was definitely a turncoat if he traveled there. Maybe he already has some kind of deal with the Chinese.

He'd probably be better off in a country like Germany, even.
posted by delmoi at 12:02 PM on June 12, 2013


NSA revelations only 'the tip of the iceberg,' says Dem lawmaker

Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) said lawmakers learned "significantly more" about the spy programs at the National Security Agency (NSA) during a briefing on Tuesday with counterterrorism officials.
posted by yertledaturtle at 12:04 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Slate: Fire James Clapper
Salon: James Clapper Must Go
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:07 PM on June 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


NSA director testifying before Senate committee (live)
posted by yertledaturtle at 12:14 PM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I wonder if there's a sampling bias when it comes to polling on privacy issues. After all, seems like people concerned about privacy would be less likely to answer a phone poll in general.

I mean If you poll people on 'whether or not they answer polls' you'd get 100%, even though the actual number is much lower.
posted by delmoi at 12:16 PM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Opt out of PRISM, the NSA’s global data surveillance program. Stop reporting your online activities to the American government with these free alternatives to proprietary software.”
posted by ob1quixote at 12:35 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wow, in the hearing Senator Mikulski just responded to "Rosie" who tweeted about the questioning "17 minutes ago", and now Coates is responding to "Rosie", too.
posted by Room 641-A at 12:46 PM on June 12, 2013


I like how it becomes "right to have this debate" only when actual evidence is finally presented from behind the curtain.
posted by onehalfjunco at 12:53 PM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Edward Snowden: US government has been hacking Hong Kong and China for years
posted by DynamiteToast at 12:57 PM on June 12, 2013


Even if HK won't extradite him, can the US (legally and above board) have him arrested and questioned (by US agents) in HK?
posted by desjardins at 1:02 PM on June 12, 2013


What started as a (big) leak about the NSA just may become a turning point in US/China relations. Now I see why he didn't flee to Iceland or Russia.. it's much more dicey to have all these US hacking charges exposed in a Hong Kong court, and may be the key reason he thinks he can get asylum there.
posted by pepcorn at 1:14 PM on June 12, 2013


C-SPAN Radio's feed of the hearing is a lot louder than the Daily News link, if that's an issue.
posted by Room 641-A at 1:21 PM on June 12, 2013


It seems strange to think that a guy this careful in other ways would just throw darts at a board and hope for the best, and apparently spurn Russia's offer to host him, presumably because people would say he was definitely a turncoat if he traveled there. Maybe he already has some kind of deal with the Chinese.

Or maybe the article author's sources describing the risks are talking out of their asses and have conflicts of interest.
posted by rhizome at 2:04 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Or maybe the article author's sources describing the risks are talking out of their asses and have conflicts of interest.

That's a good thing to keep in mind for all the articles about this issue.
posted by nightwood at 2:24 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Edward Snowden: US government has been hacking Hong Kong and China for years

Now he's just revealing secrets to the foreign press.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:31 PM on June 12, 2013


It seems strange to think that a guy this careful in other ways would just throw darts at a board and hope for the best, and apparently spurn Russia's offer to host him, presumably because people would say he was definitely a turncoat if he traveled there. Maybe he already has some kind of deal with the Chinese.

Or maybe the article author's sources describing the risks are talking out of their asses and have conflicts of interest.


You can't have a conflict of interest in talking to a reporter. Nor can a person giving an opinion regarding extradition procedures in a particular country have an "interest" in the matter of a third party. They might want to see the person prosecuted, but that isn't a conflict of interest.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:32 PM on June 12, 2013


Snowden's own comments on his choice of Hong Kong:
"People who think I made a mistake in picking Hong Kong as a location misunderstand my intentions. I am not here to hide from justice. I am here to reveal criminality."
This article describes how the laws in Hong Kong might delay a possible extradition:
Simon Young, director of the Centre for Comparative and Public Law at the University of Hong Kong, told GlobalPost that a decision delivered by Hong Kong's High Court in March of this year required the government to create a new procedure for reviewing asylum applications. Until the government does this, he said, asylum seekers are allowed to stay in Hong Kong indefinitely.
Now he's just revealing secrets to the foreign press.

He is also revealing them to American citizens who read the foreign press. Ideally, American citizens will then use this newfound knowledge to make an informed decision about whether or not these programs are fair, productive, cost effective, and in the best interest of not only national security but also (as long as I'm dreaming) the worldwide advancement of peace and liberty.
posted by compartment at 2:48 PM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Slate: Fire James Clapper
Salon: James Clapper Must Go


Isn't it a criminal matter, to lie to Senators under oath? Didn't he perjure himself by lying?

Now he's just revealing secrets to the foreign press.

Phew! Americans are safe, then. No way were those secrets going to end up reported by our press, in any case.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:50 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


The guardian is a non-US newspaper, so there's nothing new here,
posted by delmoi at 2:54 PM on June 12, 2013


Edward Snowden: US government has been hacking Hong Kong and China for years

And this was a secret to nobody. I'm 100% sure China knew it was happening, and is reciprocating in kind. But in public, everyone demurs and makes promises that we don't do that, so we can keep trading with each other.

He's confirming it, and by doing so creating a diplomatic mess. I don't know what will be the outcome, at most, some more meetings and agreements and maybe sacrificial firings. But we want to keep trading, so we'll just keep pretending we aren't spying on each other.
posted by emjaybee at 2:55 PM on June 12, 2013


Now he's just revealing secrets to the foreign press.

Secrets no one suspected even!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:55 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Clapper may not have been under oath when he visited with the Senate in March. It's an optional part of the process and up to the Chair. You may recall that certain Bush admin officials tried to insist that they would only appear if their questioning was not under oath.

My assumption would be that Clapper was not sworn in (Democratic appointee + Democratic committee majority).

Maybe Ironmouth can share with us whether or not the oath is necessary for a charge of perjury or lying to the Senate.

Clapper should be fired for his statements about Iraqi WMD in late 2003:
The director of a top American spy agency said Tuesday that he believed that material from Iraq's illicit weapons program had been transported into Syria and perhaps other countries as part of an effort by the Iraqis to disperse and destroy evidence immediately before the recent war.

The official, James R. Clapper Jr., a retired lieutenant general, said satellite imagery showing a heavy flow of traffic from Iraq into Syria, just before the American invasion in March, led him to believe that illicit weapons material ''unquestionably'' had been moved out of Iraq.

''I think people below the Saddam Hussein-and-his-sons level saw what was coming and decided the best thing to do was to destroy and disperse,'' General Clapper, who leads the National Imagery and Mapping Agency, said at a breakfast with reporters.

He said he was providing a personal assessment. But he said ''the obvious conclusion one draws'' was that there ''may have been people leaving the scene, fleeing Iraq, and unquestionably, I am sure, material.'' A spokesman for General Clapper's agency, David Burpee, said he could not provide further evidence to support the general's statement.
posted by notyou at 3:03 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Bruce Schneier: Prosecuting Snowden
posted by homunculus at 3:05 PM on June 12, 2013


Edward Snowden: US government has been hacking Hong Kong and China for years

Now he's just revealing secrets to the foreign press.


The US government has also been hacking Russia and Iran for years. Shhhh. It's a secret!
posted by ryoshu at 3:09 PM on June 12, 2013


US government has been hacking Hong Kong and China for years ... And this was a secret to nobody.

Really now? Could you cite some sources? I'd love to read more about the US cyberespionage campaign against China. I'll take any reputable sources you have; newspapers, cryptome leaks, WikiLeaks, hell even some 4chan posts if there's some evidence backing it up.

It's a reasonable assumption that the US government has been "hacking China", for years, by which I assume we mean both Chinese government and Chinese corporate interests. Just like they've been hacking us. But it was only a few years ago with Google' revelations that we had broad public confirmation of persistent attacks from China. And to this day the documentation that they are Chinese military is still tenuous, although it's certainly the most plausible assumption.

"We all know the US is spying on China" is speculation. So is "We know the NSA has been wiretapping Americans". It's probably true, but someone like Snowden actually documenting it in fact is an important difference.
posted by Nelson at 3:11 PM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


He's confirming it, and by doing so creating a diplomatic mess. I don't know what will be the outcome, at most, some more meetings and agreements and maybe sacrificial firings.
The Chinese already had 'mountans of evidence' that we were hacking before the meeting with Obama. They knew about it, they just weren't whining about it to the media. (totally called it, btw)
posted by delmoi at 3:13 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Snowden has documented NSA wiretapping Americans?
posted by nightwood at 3:13 PM on June 12, 2013


Things that have been legal:
Slavery
Genocide
Jim Crow
Lynching
Imprisoning hundreds of thousands of Japanese Americans
The Reservation System

Things that have been illegal:
Voting
Women voting
homosexuality
free speech
interracial marriage
alcohol

Clearly whether something is legal/illegal or not has little bearing on whether it should be. I know that some here would trust the federal government with a lit match a room full of dynamite, but please don't argue for the rightness or wrongness of this issue from a legal perspective as it just makes one look like an intellectual lightweight. HURF DURF It's legal so it must be ok....right?

"We all know the US is spying on China" is speculation. So is "We know the NSA has been wiretapping Americans". It's probably true, but someone like Snowden actually documenting it in fact is an important difference.

Yes, that difference being that the U.S. government can no longer claim the moral high ground when China hacks our shit...as if the U.S. would never do something like that.

On a different note the number of little totalitarians here, on a supposedly left skewing site, is pretty disheartening.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 3:26 PM on June 12, 2013 [14 favorites]


Snowden has documented NSA wiretapping Americans?

No, that was already well documented, and the subject of several ongoing lawsuits. He just exposed the extent of the programs which basically just sucked up everything they could instead of even having the pretense of targeting certain individuals.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 3:32 PM on June 12, 2013


No, that was already well documented, and the subject of several ongoing lawsuits. He just exposed the extent of the programs which basically just sucked up everything they could instead of even having the pretense of targeting certain individuals.

So he's not documented anything beyond what was already known in 2005?
posted by nightwood at 3:45 PM on June 12, 2013


It seems strange to think that a guy this careful in other ways would just throw darts at a board and hope for the best, and apparently spurn Russia's offer to host him, presumably because people would say he was definitely a turncoat if he traveled there. Maybe he already has some kind of deal with the Chinese.

Hong Kong is a particularly interesting choice though that puts him squarely into the middle of some crazily complicated relationships. It makes it a lot harder to guess how things will turn out, but it makes it much more clear that he's not trying to serve a foreign power than if he jetted off to, say Iran.

If this isn't resolved quickly, hundreds of thousands are already set to take to the streets of Hong Kong in protest, as they do very July 1 (a pro-Snowden rally is already planned for this weekend). Thousands turned out in the rain last week to commemorate Tiananmen. If China is seen to interfere, that's just going to inflame matters far further. The Chinese government does not want to give any indication to its mainland population that marching in protest is at all acceptable, and a news blackout can only do so much.

The Atlantic has a story today on the rapidly increasing discontent in Hong Kong and how it plays into Snowden's situation. Snowden certainly knows as much; he said in his video for The Guardian: "The people of Hong Kong have a long tradition of protesting in the streets, of making their views known." When he said in today's interview, "Let the Hong Kong people decide my fate," he wasn't just talking about the US Government, he was talking about the Chinese government.
posted by zachlipton at 3:46 PM on June 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


So he's not documented anything beyond what was already known in 2005?

Traitor!

Or he's a witch. It's hard to tell the difference.
posted by ryoshu at 3:49 PM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Cat, pigeons, placing thereof: Defence Ministry Warns Against Leaks on Joint US-Brit Spying
A British Defense Ministry press advisory committee, reacting to a flurry of revelations in the American press about massive warrantless US government electronic surveillance programs, quietly warned UK organizations Friday not to publish British national security information.

Defiance of the advisory could make British journalists vulnerable to prosecution under the Official Secrets Act.

posted by Joe in Australia at 3:59 PM on June 12, 2013


Traitor! Or he's a witch. It's hard to tell the difference.

Let's see if he weighs the same as a duck.
posted by nightwood at 3:59 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Hong Kong thing is interesting in the context of Chinese history.

I've been slowly making my way through Charles Mann's 1493, and Beijing has tolerated (and sometimes aggressively not tolerated) quasi-independent commercial and trade regions on the periphery. Mann writes about 16th century Fujian traders and smugglers who fought off decades of attempts by the central government to rein them in before the government threw in the towel and allowed the silver trade to continue. The more things change.
posted by notyou at 4:07 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Stable door, closing, timing thereof: Air Force Bans Personnel from Reading News Stories Reporting NSA Scandal
The NOTAM warns airmen about the risks of simple web searches regarding the NSA and Verizon phone records scandals:

I wanted to make sure that all of you read this because just doing a simple search could jeopardize your future. In summary, anything to do with the recent news about the NSA and Verizon phone records are considered classified and searching news or records about these on our NIPRNET computers is unauthorized. Thanks!
The friendly signoff really adds a personal touch.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:07 PM on June 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


I spoke imprecisely in using the word "wiretapping". Snowden has not documented wiretapping Americans. He documented a blanket copying of all metadata about phone calls, effectively a Verizon-wide pen register, not a wiretap. Also the PRISM documents allege widespread cooperation between American Internet companies in providing NSA access to private American data files. I'm not sure whether any of those files include voice, so that may not technically be "wiretapping" (itself a strangely obsolete word, seeing as how there are frequently no wires).

Can we at least agree that Snowden has brought new documentation on NSA accessing various kinds of American communications data? I'm not sure what the "since 2005" part means. Do you think the Verizon info and the PRISM info are redundant with something that was documented in 2005? What was it?

Look, I know this feels like splitting hairs if you believe the US is evil and NSA has been spying on American citizens for years. Frankly, it feels like splitting hairs to me. But those hairs are important. Properly documenting NSA overextension of authority, making it public in a shitstorm, is the only way to get this question addressed.
posted by Nelson at 4:09 PM on June 12, 2013


On a different note the number of little totalitarians here, on a supposedly left skewing site, is pretty disheartening.

I'm sorry you are upset that people disagree with you in an open forum. Perhaps it might be better if you addressed the substance of the arguments rather than dismiss them with "totalitarian." If you want an echo chamber, this has never been the place for that.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:09 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


James Bamford, longtime reporter on NSA, said it better than I can
Without documents to prove their claims, the agency simply dismissed them as falsehoods and much of the mainstream press simply accepted that. “We don’t hold data on U.S. citizens,” [NSA head] Alexander said. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper made similar claims. At a hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee last March, he was asked, “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” To which Clapper responded, “No, sir.” The documents released by Snowden, pointing to the nationwide collection of telephone data records and not denied by government officials, prove the responses untrue.
It's easy to be a cynical leftist and roll your eyes and say "see, the US was spying all along". But that just makes you boring at cocktail parties, it doesn't lead to any change. The stories in the wake of the Snowden documents seems to have some momentum, bouncing back and forth across the Atlantic. At least the NSA can't just pretend they aren't spying on everyone all the time any more. Now we can argue about whether it's constitutional, not whether it's happening at all.
posted by Nelson at 4:14 PM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I wanted to make sure that all of you read this because just doing a simple search could jeopardize your future. In summary, anything to do with the recent news about the NSA and Verizon phone records are considered classified and searching news or records about these on our NIPRNET computers is unauthorized. Thanks!
Talk about Orwellian. I think with wikileaks they said people weren't allowed to read the memos themselves, not that they weren't allowed to read coverage of it or do Google searches -- essentially having a security clearance now requires you be ignorant of facts that are widely known to the public.

It's ironic, but it's also creepy to think that people who want positions in the security bureaucracy are going to have to actively avoid knowing certain things.
Perhaps it might be better if you addressed the substance of the arguments rather than dismiss them with "totalitarian." If you want an echo chamber, this has never been the place for that.

What substance? Anyway, if you ever want a security clearance you should really stop reading this thread. You're not contributing much and your comments are getting dumped down the memory hole anyway (i.e. your north korea 'joke')
posted by delmoi at 4:24 PM on June 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


Can we at least agree that Snowden has brought new documentation on NSA accessing various kinds of American communications data? I'm not sure what the "since 2005" part means. Do you think the Verizon info and the PRISM info are redundant with something that was documented in 2005? What was it?

I was responding to the link by AElfwine Evenstar which stated in part:

News reports in December 2005 first revealed that the National Security Agency (NSA) has been intercepting Americans’ phone calls and Internet communications. Those news reports, combined with a USA Today story in May 2006 and the statements of several members of Congress, revealed that the NSA is also receiving wholesale copies of American's telephone and other communications records.
posted by nightwood at 4:34 PM on June 12, 2013


Hahah, twitter goodness:

Josh Marshall I guess this *sorta* counts as Bucket List thing, Daniel Ellsberg has commented on something i wrote https://twitter.com/TheBradBlog/status/344950063795159040 …

The link: Wow. @DanielEllsberg just told me on air on @KPFK he felt @JoshTPM's comments on Ed Snowden were "stupid and misguided". More later...

___
nightwood: Those were illegal (sans-warrant) programs that were allegedly shut down, just the other day James Clapper testified in congress that they did not collect records on millions of Americans.

There is a big difference between something a lot of people suspect, but which is denied, and something that is out in the open. In particular, anyone who actually trusted the government to tell the truth would have believed it wasn't happening, and that anyone who said it was was being paranoid.

Also, you seem to be completely missing PRISM
posted by delmoi at 4:44 PM on June 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


New Gallup poll on PRISM and phone logs specifically.

53% of adults disapprove, vs. only 37% approve. (A plurality of Democrats approve, however, 49% to 40. I wonder what percentage would have approved of bush doing it in 2007)

Also shows 44% of Americans think he did the right thing, vs. 42% who do not.
posted by delmoi at 4:55 PM on June 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Thomas Drake: Snowden saw what I saw: surveillance criminally subverting the constitution. So we refused to be part of the NSA's dark blanket. That is why whistleblowers pay the price for being the backstop of democracy
posted by homunculus at 5:00 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


[delmoi/Ironmouth: stop. Take it to MeMail, get out of this thread, or learn to ignore each other.]
posted by jessamyn at 5:11 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Link to ongoing discussion in new thread about further disclosures.
posted by iamabot at 5:15 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Those were illegal (sans-warrant) programs that were allegedly shut down, just the other day James Clapper testified in congress that they did not collect records on millions of Americans.

There is a big difference between something a lot of people suspect, but which is denied, and something that is out in the open. In particular, anyone who actually trusted the government to tell the truth would have believed it wasn't happening, and that anyone who said it was was being paranoid.

Also, you seem to be completely missing PRISM


The verizon records order is from the FISA court and presumably hangs it hat on the ruling that phone records (in at least one case) was not deemed protected by the 4th amendment. That the phone records are provided without peoples' names and addresses attached may make a difference in the technical legality, but may not make much difference to the public reading the newspapers.

PRISM, with just the very little that has been provided so far (is there a conspiracy with the Guardian and WAPO to keep it shrouded in mystery?) looks to me precisely the sort of program put into place to service warranted intercepts of voice, video, email IM traffic. And the responses from Google et al seem to bear that out.

Both of these seem to be repeats of the things that we already hashed out in the Patriot act and reauthorization fights. I keep waiting for a bombshell to come from Snowden - and I expect there will be one - since only the tiniest of what he took has been released.

But to my un-trained eye, both of these programs seem to be exactly what we expected the Patriot act to allow. Now if this news story gets the repeal or drastic pull back of that act, that'd be great. I would like the repeal to be based on fact and cool-headed analysis of the trade-offs and not the "He's a Traitor/No he's a hero/Wait here's a picture of his girlfriend/ZOMG everything everywhere is being recorded!" arguments that are swirling around.
posted by nightwood at 5:15 PM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I wonder what percentage would have approved of bush doing it in 2007

I suspect Democratic approval would have been in the teens or twenties. On the other hand, Republican approval would have been much higher.

People are idiots.
posted by Justinian at 5:35 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


People are idiots.

I disagree. Deeply. People aren't idiots, I explain complex technical issues to them every day, all day.

People are lazy, they are guided by convenience, and they aren't educated in a way that makes them natively conversant in technology. I hope (perhaps idiotically) that this will change.
posted by iamabot at 5:45 PM on June 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


I wonder what percentage would have approved of bush doing it in 2007

The link to the poll results answers your question, delmoi:

In 2006, when Gallup asked the similar question about a program that came to light at that point, Republicans were significantly more likely to approve than Democrats.

Partisan sheep will behave like partisan sheep, is I guess the lesson there. But it is nice to see 53% are opposed to the practice as they currently understand it.
posted by mediareport at 7:07 PM on June 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm sorry you are upset that people disagree with you in an open forum. Perhaps it might be better if you addressed the substance of the arguments rather than dismiss them with "totalitarian." If you want an echo chamber, this has never been the place for that.

Did I say I was upset people disagreed with me? What arguments of substance would those be? Just asserting that something is ok because it's legal isn't substantive. I am also not dismissing anything "with totalitarian"; I am calling the behavior of the NSA and its supporters in government and in the public what they are: totalitarians.

If you would like to make a substantive argument that the current NSA programs being revealed are not in fact totalizing go ahead.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:38 PM on June 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


The Dangers of Surveillance
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:43 PM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Bank robbery suspect wants NSA phone records for his defense
posted by ryoshu at 5:58 AM on June 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


(From the New York Times)

To the Editor:

David Brooks goes to great length explaining how 29-year-old Edward J. Snowden betrayed the trust of so many social institutions, and then blames the age of isolation. What about the government’s betrayal of our privacy rights and the Bill of Rights?

I commend Mr. Snowden for his solitary commitment to doing what is right. So many others would be cowed by the institutions of authority.

GLENN RUGA
Concord, Mass., June 11, 2013

posted by Unified Theory at 6:10 AM on June 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


I keep waiting for a bombshell to come from Snowden - and I expect there will be one - since only the tiniest of what he took has been released.

I think Snowden/Greenwald's strategy is to release information on the weekend and let the internet forums turn up the heat before the mainstream media/administration can spin it.
posted by pepcorn at 6:43 AM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


The story at ryoshu's link is deee-licious:

The FBI and federal prosecutors are using cellphone records in court to try to prove that the five accused men were all nearby when the robbery attempts and planning occurred, as Moss, who is cooperating with the U.S. Attorney's Office, testified.

The prosecution had told defense attorneys that they were unable to obtain Brown's cellphone records from the period before September 2010 because his carrier, MetroPCS, had not held on to them.

Not so fast, Brown's attorney Marshall Dore Louis argued in court documents filed in Fort Lauderdale days after the National Security Agency surveillance program was revealed last week...

...Louis argued in court Wednesday that the government should be forced to turn over phone location records for two cellphones Brown may have used because it could prove he was not present for one of the attempted bank robberies, on July 26 on Federal Highway in Lighthouse Point.

"The president of the United States has recognized this program has been ongoing since 2006 … to gather the phone numbers [and related information] of everybody including my client in 2010," Louis said.

posted by emjaybee at 8:17 AM on June 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


I think some kind of mass protest is warranted. I'm not sure whether it is mass cancelation of gmail and Facebook accounts, or everyone opening ten new gmail and Facebook accounts and flooding them with innocuous materials loaded with false positive keywords. Saturate the fucking sponge.

How about REAL mass protest?

The system is rotten to the core. Regime change already.
posted by anemone of the state at 3:51 PM on June 13, 2013


How about REAL mass protest?
The system is rotten to the core. Regime change already.


What would a real mass protest/regime change accomplish?
posted by nightwood at 4:24 PM on June 13, 2013


"regime change" is a meaningless platitude. What, exactly, does it mean in this context?
posted by Justinian at 5:30 PM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


How about REAL mass protest?
The system is rotten to the core. Regime change already.

What would a real mass protest/regime change accomplish?


Is this where the 2nd amendment kicks in?
posted by de at 6:20 PM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


The 1st should be good enough for anybody.

If you want to change the world, there are things you can do. Some are politically cheap, and have little if no effect: Politely swaying in unison singing "This Little Star of Mine" in a little-traveled city park for a police-agreed 30 minutes, for example. Some come at great personal cost, and can be earth-shaking; Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden both took this route.

Whatever you do, be it merely speaking your mind when you normally wouldn't, doing investigative journalism, protesting, leaking, or throwing yourself in front of the President's limo, in order to be effective you have to assume a certain amount of inconvenience and risk. Until then, the current regime of secret laws, widespread spying, persecution of journalists, infiltration of activist groups, and extrajudicial killings (murder by flying robot) will continue to march on.

We could at least put our bodies in the way.
posted by anemone of the state at 6:55 PM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


The system is rotten to the core. Regime change already.

Do you comprehend what that term means? Especially in a Democracy?
posted by JHarris at 7:31 PM on June 13, 2013


American poodle: The British government has warned airlines around the world not to allow Edward Snowden... to fly to the United Kingdom.
posted by Mister Bijou at 2:14 AM on June 14, 2013


I wonder if being "Snowden" will become an epithet like a "Quisling"?
posted by infini at 6:34 AM on June 14, 2013


While working for spies, Snowden was secretly prolific online

posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:05 AM on June 14, 2013


You'd think it'd make more sense for the UK to allow him to arrive, then detain him on national security grounds whilst doing the paperwork to hand him over to the US.
posted by acb at 7:15 AM on June 14, 2013


You'd think it'd make more sense for the UK to allow him to arrive, then detain him on national security grounds whilst doing the paperwork to hand him over to the US.

There are many people in the UK who would be seriously pissed off if that happened. There are a lot of people angry about NSA and the UK's own electronic eavesdropping and security agency, GCHQ. Better he's kept away from the UK, he'd be too much of a political hot potato.
posted by Mister Bijou at 7:34 AM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


There are many people in the UK who would be seriously pissed off if that happened. There are a lot of people angry about NSA and the UK's own electronic eavesdropping and security agency, GCHQ. Better he's kept away from the UK, he'd be too much of a political hot potato.

Meanwhile, Labour and the Conservatives have bipartisan agreement to pass a total data-retention law, that would enshrine PRISM-style total surveillance in law.
posted by acb at 8:24 AM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wonder if being "Snowden" will become an epithet like a "Quisling"?

Stop being such a Krauthammer.
posted by anemone of the state at 8:43 AM on June 14, 2013 [9 favorites]


Information is Power.

The central problem with pervasive surveillance is that the surveillance apparatus effectively becomes the most powerful organization in the nation.

The NSA has ALL of the dirt on EVERYONE. Judges, Politicians, Generals, you name it. Anyone who begins to agitate against the persuasive surveillance of the NSA would necessarily be risking the airing of all of their dirty laundry in public because the NSA has their dirty laundry.
posted by Freen at 8:59 AM on June 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


Indeed. It's safe to assume that such a surveillance apparatus breeds (and indeed, was built partially for) blackmail. Blackmail with PRISM doesn't even require any direct threats: The program's very presence is threat enough to ensure compliance from politicians who haven't led squeaky-clean lives.

Most are willing to sit back and reap the benefits of collusion, anyway.
posted by anemone of the state at 9:08 AM on June 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


The program's very presence is threat enough to ensure compliance from politicians who haven't led squeaky-clean lives.

Yep.

The Secret War: Infiltration. Sabotage. Mayhem, for years four-star general Keith Alexander has been building a secret army capable of launching devastating cyber attacks. Now it's ready to unleash hell.

Inside the government, the general is regarded with a mixture of respect and fear, not unlike J. Edgar Hoover, another security figure whose tenure spanned multiple presidencies. “We jokingly referred to him as Emperor Alexander—with good cause, because whatever Keith wants, Keith gets,” says one former senior CIA official who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity. “We would sit back literally in awe of what he was able to get from Congress, from the White House, and at the expense of everybody else.”
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:19 AM on June 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


Meanwhile, Labour and the Conservatives have bipartisan agreement to pass a total data-retention law

Well, Labour has been Tory Lite since Blair. And the Tories are Tory. As far as I am concerned, they are a political class unto themselves, scumbags.
posted by Mister Bijou at 9:29 AM on June 14, 2013


hurf durf not enough released

Now the complaint is 'not enough released'? What level of release would be proof enough to change a closed mind?

Some of the kongress kritters who didn't skip town on a jet plane were promised a briefing and this is one reaction:
Member Of Congress: Edward Snowden’s Revelations Are “Just The Tip Of The Iceberg”

As for the hurf-durfing - remember that some people are paid by "public relations" (in WWII it was called Propaganda) firms to try and have an alternative narrative put forward.

Oh and as for USB/no USB - a datapoint.
Did a contract gig for a bank that was selling credit ratings to a law firm that did collections from the sub-500 rated crowd. The bank contact had it that all USB ports had to be disabled, so they were hot-glue filled. The chain of how I got to be the auditor? The bank subcontracted the audit work out and I was the 12th corporation in the audit chain. Now imagine how that audit chain would hold up in court.... And as the collection firm pointed out - the data wasn't really worth stealing for credit fraud purposes.
posted by rough ashlar at 6:15 AM on June 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, you seem to be completely missing PRISM

It could also be wilful ignorance or as someone once said about actors on the stage "each must play their part".
posted by rough ashlar at 6:18 AM on June 16, 2013


Edward Snowden is doing a live Q&A on The Guardian right now.
posted by anemone of the state at 9:01 AM on June 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


Edward Snowden is doing a live Q&A on The Guardian right now.

Is there a more... readable way to interact with this content? It's worse than Slashdot's organizational structure.
posted by odinsdream at 12:26 PM on June 17, 2013


Is there a more... readable way to interact with this content?

Try this Reddit user's method
posted by rhizome at 12:35 PM on June 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Ah, fantastic. That's much, much better. I hate to be all kids-these-days but jesus, how do you navigate that kind of threaded information sanely?
posted by odinsdream at 3:46 PM on June 17, 2013


It's much better when the event is live because you don't have to scroll down to the bottom for the latest additions. We simply aren't yet to the point in history where the sites who run liveblogs turn around and display things in order once the event is over.
posted by rhizome at 6:21 PM on June 17, 2013


The problem isn't that it's threaded it's that web browsers are not a good tool for viewing threaded information. Usenet is threaded and worked wonderfully... but you used a dedicated newsreader which was made specifically to view threaded information.

nn was hardcore
posted by Justinian at 6:22 PM on June 17, 2013


"This country is worth dying for" - Snowden, Hong Kong
posted by snorkeler at 6:32 PM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


He said that being called a traitor by Dick Cheney is the highest honor an American can receive. That's some quality snark.
posted by Justinian at 6:33 PM on June 17, 2013 [10 favorites]


The day Dick Cheney gets his just desserts will be a day for parades, brass bands and dancing in the street.
posted by anemone of the state at 10:16 PM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why Cheney is the Traitor, and Why we Can’t Believe Obama on Safeguards (The Ultimate Clip of Gov’t Lies)
posted by homunculus at 12:50 PM on June 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


3 Former NSA Employees Praise Edward Snowden, Corroborate Key Claims: The men, all whistleblowers, say he succeeded where they failed.
posted by homunculus at 5:32 PM on June 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Tell Me What Is Being Done in My Name", Charles P. Pierce, Esquire Politics Blog, 11 June 2013

This Is Being Done In Your Name
posted by homunculus at 5:49 PM on June 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


*Phew* Good to know its only being done to me, not being done in my name.
posted by infini at 4:21 AM on June 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Vladimir Putin defends the U.S. on spying programs, drones and Occupy Wall Street

[Putin] said of the New York city police response to Occupy Wall Street, in a comment that seemed consistent with much of his sympathy toward controversial U.S. programs, “That’s the way it’s done in the U.S., and that’s the way it’s done in Russia.”
posted by jeffburdges at 7:08 PM on June 19, 2013 [6 favorites]


The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:17 PM on June 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wow. If that doesn't shock some sense into Obama what possibly could?
posted by JHarris at 8:20 PM on June 19, 2013


Phew, NSA Is Just Collecting Metadata. (You Should Still Worry)
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:08 PM on June 19, 2013


Journalistic impartiality tested in NSA leak story
Some journalists had complaints about the stories ... because of what they said was imprecise reporting but others because of details the stories did not disclose. ...

"We know there is the capability for massive surveillance," said one reporter, who has covered U.S. spycraft for decades and asked not to be named so as not to alienate the NSA reporters. "The thing they needed to do was say to Snowden, 'Don't give up your career for this. You stay there and find for me where specifically they are cheating on this.'"

[...]

Greenwald said a new round of stories would buttress the notion that NSA spying was more widespread even than many of its purported legislative overseers had imagined. Explaining a brief lull in the publication, he said: "We felt like we needed to let these first stories seep in a bit before we started our next round. We didn't want to just suffocate people."
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:17 PM on June 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


Edward Snowden Blows It
Even more disturbing is what appears to have motivated Snowden to expand his leaking beyond the borders of the United States and into the world of foreign espionage.

Despite making a pretty good living for quite a few years through his employment as a small cog in the gears of government surveillance activities, Snowden declared, during a live chat with the Guardian on Monday, that he believes that “all spying is wrong.” And because it is Snowden’s personal judgment that all spying is wrong, he also believes it appropriate that he reveal our covert activities to affected foreign governments without a shed of concern for what the rest of his fellow Americans might think about this.

[...]

What should further concern us all is not just that Edward Snowden has decided that we must now live with his judgments and moral determinations when it comes to how we conduct foreign policy, but that those judgments are based on a shocking degree of naiveté as Snowden doesn’t seem capable of grasping that in the world in which we live, our allies are not always our friends.

Snowden also appears to have missed civics class on the day when it was explained that the United States is a Republic where we elect people to make decisions on these matters and then judge the effectiveness of those decisions by deciding who we will keep in office and who we will turn away.
(not to mention our enemies)
Wikileaks: Al-Qaeda plotted chemical and nuclear attack on the West
Russia to start building 2 nuclear Borei super-subs in 2013
Russia to send nuclear submarines to southern seas

But we can't do our job as citizens if "the surveillance state" is kept entirely secret, and I have doubts that congress and the FISA courts have enough visibility to insure the surveillance industry isn't violating the law -- even if they cared enough to do their jobs. Overall, I think Snowden has done us a favor. I doubt he has revealed anything that significant to China that they didn't already have, but who knows. And now the world's attention is focused on what amount of surveillance and spying that is acceptable in the practical reality we live in, where the cold war still looms on and we probably should take terrorism seriously, and the vast majority of people are not committed to anarchist libertarianism.
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:07 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Snowden also appears to have missed civics class on the day when it was explained that the United States is a Republic where we elect people to make decisions on these matters and then judge the effectiveness of those decisions by deciding who we will keep in office and who we will turn away.

Waaaaait a second... if the very existence of those programs is kept secret how are we supposed to judge our representatives decision to enact the programs? That's nonsensical.
posted by Justinian at 2:42 PM on June 20, 2013 [13 favorites]


Booz Allen, the World's Most Profitable Spy Organization
posted by homunculus at 2:51 PM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


sounds incestuous
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 12:04 PM on June 21, 2013


An Icelandic businessman linked to WikiLeaks said he has readied a private plane to take Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who exposed secret U.S. surveillance programs, to Iceland if the government grants him asylum.
posted by homunculus at 1:03 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Heh, just pray there's no whoops, it got shot down...as is not uncommon in the region.
posted by infini at 1:07 PM on June 21, 2013


Bust administration whistleblower Russ Tice claims Barack Obama was targeted by NSA surveillance program in 2004
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:35 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Reports are that charges have been filed against Snowden. Theft, something something government property, and espionage. The indictment is sealed.
posted by Justinian at 3:31 PM on June 21, 2013


Andy Borowitz: BREAKING: U.S. Seemingly Unaware of Irony in Accusing Edward Snowden of Spying
posted by scody at 3:51 PM on June 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


The Government Files Espionage Charges Against Edward Snowden
posted by homunculus at 4:03 PM on June 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Snowden declared, during a live chat with the Guardian on Monday, that he believes that “all spying is wrong.”

Edward Snowden never said "all spying is wrong" (yes, quotations marks) in the Guardian live chat, or anything to that effect. That Forbes article seems to be deliberate misinformation.

Of course, you can write whatever baseless BS you want and get it published in a major outlet, at least if it's meant to smear those who undermine abuses of power.
posted by anemone of the state at 9:11 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Huh. Yeah, I can't find it anywhere. I guess Rick Unger completely fabricated it. Sorry for posting bullshit.
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:50 PM on June 21, 2013


I guess he must have been referring to this? "I pointed out where the NSA has hacked civilian infrastructure such as universities, hospitals, and private businesses because it is dangerous. These nakedly, aggressively criminal acts are wrong no matter the target."
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:07 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Espionage Act of 1917 Should Never Be Enforced
I don’t have any objection to Snowden being charged under more narrow statutes specifically dealing with releasing classified information; as Greenwald says, one element of civil disobedience is accepting the legal penalty. But the Espionage Act of 1917 is some of the worst legislation ever passed by the United States Congress, leading to such outcomes as being given a 10 year jail sentence and stripped of basic rights of citizenship for giving a speech. It has generally been unenforced since the Wilson administration until for very good reason; its overbreadth criminalizes basic political dissent. Its sudden and disgraceful revival under the Obama administration is an excellent illustration of the dangers inherent in keeping dangerous legislation on the books while trusting the executive branch not to start selectively enforcing it; to paraphrase Robert Jackson, the statute lies about like a loaded weapon, ready for the hand of any authority that can bring forward a plausible claim of an urgent need.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:04 AM on June 22, 2013 [6 favorites]


I was just wondering.. if they're watching potus and he's supposedly their cinc then does that mean there's internal factions watching each other watch everyone else?
posted by infini at 1:23 PM on June 22, 2013


Reports are that Snowden has left on a flight from Hong Kong to Moscow.

MOSCOW. I can't wait for the gnashing of teeth from the elder pundits and philosopher kings in DC. I hope we hear the word "Soviets" a few times from the old stuck in the Cold War bastards.

Or maybe it's just a layover on the way to Iceland.
posted by Justinian at 1:34 AM on June 23, 2013


Here's a copy of the official press release from HK SAR
posted by infini at 1:34 AM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


A further reminder, if one was needed, that China was perfecting the niceties of bureaucratic form 2,500 years ago.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:09 AM on June 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


I've been wondering whether the 4 capital Ns at the bottom of the press release, like so NNNN, stand for nyah nyah nyah nyah?
posted by infini at 4:36 AM on June 23, 2013


Guardian live update.
Apparantly Snowden has no Russian Visa so is probably transiting but to where? Some say Cuba which seems kind of weird.
posted by adamvasco at 4:46 AM on June 23, 2013


Seeing mention of Caracas as final destination and Havana only transit.

This really makes me want to giggle. Whatever this guy is upto, he's having a good poke/joke at every nightmare isn't he?
posted by infini at 4:59 AM on June 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Perhaps Ecuador?
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 5:25 AM on June 23, 2013


Great circle, Iceland is about the same distance as Moscow from Hong Kong.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:32 AM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


"But of course, if he is visa-less and awaiting an onward flight to Havana the 30-year-old will then be a little more visible than he is currently on the plane."

No matter how much I love the Grauniad and admire them for their continuing reportage, 'the 30-year-old', really? This stuff is not bad enough based on its own? You really have to make this sound like breathless fanfiction?
posted by moody cow at 5:49 AM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


What's the level of government surveillance and privacy restrictions in Venezuela?
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 6:06 AM on June 23, 2013


From today's NYT article on Snowden's flight to Moscow:

Mr. Snowden is traveling with one other person, with the surname Harrison, but the agent declined to release the other traveler’s first name, saying that she did not have the authorization to do so. The Hong Kong Bar Association Web site does not list any lawyers with the family name Harrison.

*****

WikiLeaks, the organization that released extensive classified American diplomatic communications three years ago, said in a statement on its Twitter feed that it had “assisted Mr. Snowden’s political asylum in a democratic country, travel papers” and safe exit from Hong Kong. WikiLeaks did not identify the country; Mr. Snowden had previously expressed an interest in going to Iceland, a country with a history of strongly defending Internet freedoms, although it is less clear that the current government wishes to become involved in such disputes.

In a follow-up Twitter posting at 5:20 a.m. New York time, WikiLeaks said that, “Mr. Snowden is currently over Russian airspace accompanied by WikiLeaks legal advisers.” A close adviser to Julian Assange, who orchestrated the release of the diplomatic cables three years ago, is named Sarah Harrison, prompting speculation that she was the Harrison on the flight with Mr. Snowden.


I just love this. The Revenge of Wikileaks.
posted by Unified Theory at 6:18 AM on June 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


Let's wait for the rest of the story to see who revenges whom (learned that from LeCarré).
posted by Namlit at 6:21 AM on June 23, 2013


Snowdon is being accompanied by Sarah Harrison a UK citizen, journalist, and legal researcher who is currently working with the WikiLeaks Legal Defense team led by former Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzon.
posted by adamvasco at 6:26 AM on June 23, 2013


For a guy who didn't even finish high school and has a stripper girlfriend /hamburger/ Snowden sure has made some savvy moves in outsmarting the U.S. government.

While this unfolds, I'm hoping for his safe passage to a country that will give him asylum. It will be interesting to hear the full story eventually.
posted by Unified Theory at 6:35 AM on June 23, 2013


If I ever get savvy one day I'd find it so great if the crowd could find it in itself to leave my girlfriend out of it.
posted by Namlit at 6:39 AM on June 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh, and my high-school history too, in fact
posted by Namlit at 6:39 AM on June 23, 2013


That's kinda what I was saying ... but maybe you got that.
posted by Unified Theory at 6:44 AM on June 23, 2013


hell, not "kinda," it WAS what I was saying, why mince words?
posted by Unified Theory at 6:46 AM on June 23, 2013


This is one hell of a press release from HK: "OH HAI, sorry, we couldn't detain this Snowden guy because of some silly paperwork issues--and BTW, what's all this about you hacking into our computer networks?"
posted by Cash4Lead at 7:11 AM on June 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


The HKSAR statement is simplicity at its best. Here's the full text:

----

HKSAR Government issues statement on Edward Snowden
***************************************************

The HKSAR Government today (June 23) issued the following statement on Mr Edward Snowden:

Mr Edward Snowden left Hong Kong today (June 23) on his own accord for a third country through a lawful and normal channel.

The US Government earlier on made a request to the HKSAR Government for the issue of a provisional warrant of arrest against Mr Snowden. Since the documents provided by the US Government did not fully comply with the legal requirements under Hong Kong law, the HKSAR Government has requested the US Government to provide additional information so that the Department of Justice could consider whether the US Government's request can meet the relevant legal conditions. As the HKSAR Government has yet to have sufficient information to process the request for provisional warrant of arrest, there is no legal basis to restrict Mr Snowden from leaving Hong Kong.

The HKSAR Government has already informed the US Government of Mr Snowden's departure.

Meanwhile, the HKSAR Government has formally written to the US Government requesting clarification on earlier reports about the hacking of computer systems in Hong Kong by US government agencies. The HKSAR Government will continue to follow up on the matter so as to protect the legal rights of the people of Hong Kong.

Ends/Sunday, June 23, 2013
Issued at HKT 16:05

NNNN


----

And! Regina Ip, a senior Hong Kong legislator, had this equally great quote in the NYT (emphasis mine):

“I think your government will be upset for a while, but I hope that they will shrug it off, because our government acted in accordance with the law,” she said. “Our government officials can breathe a sign of relief.”

Imagine that, America: a government that acts in accordance with the law. Bet you didn't see that one coming.
posted by mdonley at 7:15 AM on June 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


Oh yeah that is interesting in all its prosaic shortness. "We're correct law abiding paper-eaters here, and you know how much time that costs, don't you, and by the way...what was that we heard earlier about, you know, um, hacking??"
posted by Namlit at 7:16 AM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Putin Steals Snowden’s Laptop During Moscow Layover
MOSCOW – June 23, 2013 – NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden left Hong Kong on an Aeroflot flight to Moscow. His ultimate destination is thought to be Venezuela by way of Havana. However, during Snowden’s Moscow stopover, he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who stole his laptop.

“He said he wanted to see my laptop, so I showed it to him in the airport lounge,” said Snowden. “Putin picked it up and said, ‘I could kill someone with this.’”

“I reached out to take it back, but his secret service guys surrounded him, and he walked out of the airport with my fucking laptop!” Snowden continued. “Son of a bitch!”

Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald did not immediately respond to a request for comments.
(c.f.)
posted by tonycpsu at 8:04 AM on June 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


David Gregory to Glenn Greenwald on 'Meet The Press': 'Why Shouldn't You Be Charged With A Crime?'

That someone calling himself a journalist would suggest that investigative journalism be criminalized... unbelievable.
posted by anemone of the state at 8:38 AM on June 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


In the Snowden Affair, I Think the National Security-Crats Just Won
If you had any hope that a coalition of lefties and libertarians, including right-leaning Paulite libertarians, might ultimately pressure the U.S. government to dial down NSA surveillance, and if you were taking comfort in the fact that even non-Paulites on the right have been accusing President Obama of using the NSA as Big Brother, well, forget it, because that's over: Snowden is consorting with four entities the mainstream right deeply distrusts -- China, Cuba, Venezuela, and Wikileaks -- and that fact is going to drive right-wing reactions to Snowden from now on.

Pretty much everyone on the right, including Fox and talk radio, is going to take the McCain/Graham line henceforth: no more talk about excessive surveillance, and a lot of talk about how weak Obama has been as Snowden has jetted around the world, with the aid of America's enemies. I know Chavez is gone, but his party is still in power in Venezuela, and if Snowden isn't extradited -- I assume he won't be -- Obama's failure to get him back will be deemed by the right as effectively canceling out the killing of bin Laden.

The right is always more comfortable arguing that Democrats are weak on defense, and the mainstream press is usually very eager to accommodate of this point of view. Post-Iraq syndrome has helped Obama, as has his willingness to continue many Bush-era policies apart from fighting the Iraq War endlessly, but I imagine the Beltway Establishment will enjoy the opportunity to revert to the old stereotypes: GOP as patriotic war daddies, Democrats as feckless weaklings. So here it comes again.

posted by tonycpsu at 8:41 AM on June 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


As if on cue...

Rand Paul Warns Edward Snowden: Don't Cozy Up To The Russians (VIDEO)
posted by tonycpsu at 8:45 AM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Putin is probably going to put Snowden's laptop on his mantle next to Robert Kraft's Super Bowl ring.
posted by bukvich at 8:48 AM on June 23, 2013


I think that's the joke.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 8:54 AM on June 23, 2013


It would be surprising if Snowden's laptop contained anything interesting. As he said, the information's coming out even if he's killed. Any data he has is probably sitting in a dozen virtual private servers across the world, controlled by a dead-man's switch.
posted by anemone of the state at 8:56 AM on June 23, 2013


Ecuadorian ambassador at Moscow airport which makes sense considering wikileaks involvement.
posted by adamvasco at 9:17 AM on June 23, 2013


The Edward Snowden Drama Has Reached Peak Action Movie
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:23 AM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hey, they got that idea from my tweet of a few hours ago!
posted by infini at 11:56 AM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, I think the Obama administration has already re-destroyed the credibility of the Democrats as a national security-competent party. They did it by pretty much sticking with the policies of George W. Bush.
posted by spitbull at 12:10 PM on June 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Also, could David Gregory be more of a fucking tool and a sorry excuse for a journalist? What a toady. We knew it, of course.

One Greenwald is worth countless Gregories.
posted by spitbull at 12:12 PM on June 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Why Correa might give Snowden Asylum: All the Horrible things the US has done to Ecuador including actively lobbying to undermine Correa’s policy of improving public access to medicines and reducing drug costs.
posted by adamvasco at 12:30 PM on June 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


One Greenwald is worth countless Gregories.

Lucky, since that's the current split.
posted by jaduncan at 12:40 PM on June 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Why Correa might give Snowden Asylum: All the Horrible things the US has done to Ecuador including actively lobbying to undermine Correa’s policy of improving public access to medicines and reducing drug costs.

There is the irony inherent in all this noise making (ref some link to politicians speak out about how nasty Russia is etc). If I'm not mistaken, it takes a certain amount of social, and perhaps, moral capital in order to apply pressure which is not physical strength or threats of force, and expect to be taken seriously.

Granted, foreign policy has never been a forte, but surely someone somewhere might rein this reactive hair trigger ranting on the world stage long enough to pause and consider its impact on reputation and standing, and thus, credibility?

I'm surprised by the surprise that noone (foreign) seems to be taking this runaway "criminal" seriously.

Though I must confess to worrying a wee bit about how poor little Ecuador is going to cope
posted by infini at 1:58 PM on June 23, 2013


The Strange Case of Barrett Brown
In light of the bombshell revelations published by Glenn Greenwald and Barton Gellman about government and corporate spying, Brown’s case is a good—and underreported—reminder of the considerable risk faced by reporters who report on leaks.
posted by homunculus at 2:48 PM on June 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


Edward Snowden seeks asylum in Ecuador amid diplomatic storm

But Russia appeared indifferent to the uproar, with one official saying Snowden was safe from the authorities as long as he remained in the transit lounge at the city's Sheremetyevo airport.

Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, said: "I know nothing."

posted by moody cow at 9:06 PM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Pardon Edward Snowden petition has reached 100k signatures.
posted by jeffburdges at 1:04 AM on June 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


How today’s NSA is worse than the stasi or Orwell’s “1984” (just the obvious tech argument)
posted by jeffburdges at 1:10 AM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh man I'm laughing my socks off. A plane full of journalists has taken off from Moscow to Cuba full of Journalists and no Edward Snowden. No alcohol is served on the aeroflot flight.
Meanwhile Ecuador's man in Hanoi is giving a press conferance.
The UN protects the right to privacy and from abuse by technology, he says.
Every human being has the right to freedom of speech,
Patino says, and this includes not being attacked for exercising one's rights.
He refers to the US fourth and fifth amendments on these topics.

posted by adamvasco at 5:54 AM on June 24, 2013 [8 favorites]


He refers to the US fourth and fifth amendments on these topics.

But notably not the first amendment.
posted by nightwood at 8:11 AM on June 24, 2013


Gregory is a reminder of the baseline of public opinion. The current shape of the political debate is that a large percentage of Americans see Snowden in a negative light. If you want to secure privacy rights it will take more than leaks. Activists will need to work very hard to build public understanding and trust in their ideas.
posted by humanfont at 8:14 AM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Gregory is a reminder of the baseline of public opinion. The current shape of the political debate is that a large percentage of Americans see Snowden in a negative light.

Exactly. After a long weekend spent swimming in the MSM, I can report the story is now about Snowden's travel itinerary and not his disclosures, which is just how certain parties want it.

*hums the theme to Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego*
posted by entropicamericana at 8:53 AM on June 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Exactly. After a long weekend spent swimming in the MSM, I can report the story is now about Snowden's travel itinerary and not his disclosures, which is just how certain parties want it.

Exclusive prediction: "Fugitive criminal Edward Snowden refuses to face justice in the latest espionage charges against him. Federal officials state that Snowden may be traveling with Wikileaks volunteers, and should be treated as dangerous. Representative King, do you think that the actions of Snowden and Wikileaks against the US justify the use of terrorism legislation, or are the espionage charges enough?"
posted by jaduncan at 9:30 AM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


A plane full of journalists has taken off from Moscow to Cuba full of Journalists and no Edward Snowden. No alcohol is served on the aeroflot flight.

"And worse (or, really, better?): Thanks to travel regulations in Cuba, they'll have to stay there three days before they'll be allowed to fly back."
posted by homunculus at 10:00 AM on June 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


...now I surprised myself by reading "Snowden" as "Sweden" - that makes no sense at all.
posted by Namlit at 10:00 AM on June 24, 2013


Bloomberg: U.S. Surveillance Is Not Aimed at Terrorists.
posted by adamvasco at 11:52 AM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Pardon Edward Snowden petition has reached 100k signatures.

No one seriously believes Obama will pardon him, but it's useful for forcing him to comment on it instead of just saying "I think we should talk about this, I welcome this conversation (that we wouldn't be having if it weren't for the leak in the first place)."
posted by JHarris at 12:03 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


And since charges have come down the response, such as it may be, will likely come in the form of "we can't comment on ongoing investigations." Another flaccid petition.
posted by rhizome at 12:07 PM on June 24, 2013


Then at least they'll say that, instead of just remaining completely silent on the issue.
posted by JHarris at 12:17 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ed Snowden's Great Escape: An Annotated Guide
posted by homunculus at 3:05 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Snowden's Secrets 'Belong To The People Of The US' & He's A Traitor For Giving Them What They Own?

DOJ Guidelines: Inappropriate To Prosecute Leaking Gov't Information As 'Theft Of Gov't Property'
posted by homunculus at 5:12 PM on June 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


The fact that Obama administration officials would be the ones railing against 'breaches of the law' and 'permanently harming the USA' is... beyond a joke, beyond ironic. It's fucking tragic.
posted by anemone of the state at 9:03 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


John Oliver Blasts Gov’t For Snowden Confusion: Couldn’t Find Human Centipede If ‘Mouth Was Sewn To Its Ass’
posted by homunculus at 9:19 PM on June 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Snowden: "I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong."

three blind mice: It seems to me that this is exactly the same bullshit I am hearing from Barack Obama. Of course laws are being broken. At least this guy is breaking it for a goddamned good reason. The President has no such good excuse.

Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish: Snowden arguably broke a law and owned up to it because he believes the law, if valid, is still unjust. Obama arguably followed the law, but hid it anyway and will now likely throw into jail the person who told everybody about it.

Also,

Right:Wrong :: Legal:Illegal
( )True (X) False

I actually found this thread while checking to see if the David Gregory video was linked anywhere here. Yep. WTF, right?
posted by lordaych at 10:57 PM on June 24, 2013


"And worse (or, really, better?): Thanks to travel regulations in Cuba, they'll have to stay there three days before they'll be allowed to fly back."

Actually, it looks like that's not true:

"I’ve never been to Cuba before. Frankly speaking, today is my first visit. It’s a very short one of only 24 hours, of which now I have only half left to walk around Old Havana and to swim in the ocean while the global hysteria over the uncatchable Edward Snowden carries on."
posted by homunculus at 3:21 PM on June 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Snowden’s Files Are Out There if ‘Anything Happens’ to Him: Snowden has shared encoded copies of all the documents he took so that they won’t disappear if he does, Glenn Greenwald tells Eli Lake.
posted by homunculus at 10:46 PM on June 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


Jimmy Wales Thinks Snowden Is 'An Innocent Party' And 'A Hero'; Wants To Know If He Ever Edited Wikipedia

Steve Wozniak: Snowden ‘Is a Hero Because This Came From His Heart’
posted by homunculus at 9:16 PM on June 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Glenn Greenwald: The personal side of taking on the NSA: emerging smears.
posted by homunculus at 9:23 PM on June 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Dammit, why I don't just favorite everything homunculus posts and leave it at that.
posted by JHarris at 9:42 PM on June 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


Under Snowden Screen Name, 2009 Post Berated Leaks

weird.
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:42 PM on June 26, 2013


This thread is still going on?

Anyway, US accuses Hong Kong of feigning confusion on Snowden name, With Snowden Gone, Hong Kong Focuses on U.S. Surveillance and Snowden stuck in Moscow airport, 'can't buy ticket with invalid passport'

And, irony alert: US government can't publicly confirm passport revocation for privacy reasons
posted by delmoi at 11:46 PM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


This thread is still going on?

This one too.
posted by homunculus at 12:01 AM on June 27, 2013


Constitutional Scholar Who Taught Obama Comes Out Against Bradley Manning Trial
posted by jeffburdges at 2:12 AM on June 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


More like a sitcom every day: WikiLeaks Volunteer Was a Paid Informant for the FBI
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:59 AM on June 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Obama authorized NSA to collect email in bulk for over two years.
posted by rhizome at 9:24 AM on June 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Snowden’s Terminal Predicament
“Cancelling Snowden’s passport and bullying intermediary countries may keep Snowden permanently in Russia,” WikiLeaks said in its Twitter feed.

Mr. Putin said Mr. Snowden had no intelligence value for Russia.

“It’s like shearing a pig — too much squeaking, too little wool,” Mr Putin said Wednesday in his trademark style of a former KGB operative.
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:31 AM on June 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Where the agency has the technical capability to gather data in bulk, it absolutely will. Where the agency lacks the technical capability to gather data in bulk, it will and has focussed on developing the technical capability and in turn will deploy that capability when developed.

The agencies role is to gather as much data as possible for downstream analysis. It shouldn't be a shock that they turned out to be pretty good at defining capabilities and then use them, because it's their charter. They will absolutely turn to the private sector for development, and have pretty consistently.

Whether that charter to sweep in data is an overreach is I suppose a matter of opinion - political, personal, and legal. But don't be surprised that the agency or others like it domestic and foreign are doing this. They appear to have focussed solely on the analysis of the data after it's swept in as a matter of policy. Using policy to define limits of targeting and for mitigation. It would be pretty safe to assume that unless your data and communication is peer to peer and happening in meat space, it's being recorded. If it's encrypted it's being stored off for potential downstream analysis if there is a technology breakthrough in decryption techniques or a need arises to focus resources on retrieving keys to that encrypted data the hard way. Kind of a bummer in many respects. We know most of this because of basic technology capabilities and because of the leaks themselves.
posted by iamabot at 10:12 AM on June 27, 2013


Has anyone seen the dude? How can someone be unphotographed for so long in such a confined area? Were there ever any authenticated-ish photos of him in the airport? It's so odd.
posted by seanmpuckett at 10:20 AM on June 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


Glenn Greenwald Takes His Turn in the Spotlight
posted by homunculus at 12:26 PM on June 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


It would be pretty safe to assume that unless your data and communication is peer to peer and happening in meat space, it's being recorded.

*cough* Actually, back when I was working in Finland, there was general knowledge that one turned off one's phone or even, took out the batteries, for certain meetings.
posted by infini at 12:42 PM on June 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Has anyone seen the dude? How can someone be unphotographed for so long in such a confined area? Were there ever any authenticated-ish photos of him in the airport? It's so odd.

I've been wondering too... I'd seen an odd singular tweet just a couple of days after the news first broke that seemed to imply he wasn't with us in this world anymore.
posted by infini at 12:43 PM on June 27, 2013


This Is a Defining Year for WikiLeaks
posted by homunculus at 2:09 PM on June 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


CIA Wants Its Officers to Stop Leaking Secrets to Reporters, Says Memo Leaked to Reporter

As Slate puts it: "Well, this is awkward."
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:14 PM on June 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


Source: Justice Dept. investigates former vice chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff
NBC News reported Thursday, citing legal sources, that Cartwright has been told he's under investigation for allegedly leaking classified information about Stuxnet, a complex virus that infected computers in Iranian nuclear facilities in 2010.
posted by Golden Eternity at 7:36 PM on June 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd imagine Cartwright leaked Stuxnet information to advance his own career, such as by pressuring congress to make additional allocation to similar activities. Ain't quite the same thing as blowing the whistle on illegal activities or exposing low priority diplomatic cables that helped inspire revolutions by showing oppressed people that powerful foreign interests didn't really like their governments either.
posted by jeffburdges at 2:22 AM on June 28, 2013


Former US general James Cartwright named in Stuxnet leak inquiry:
Republicans said senior administration officials had leaked the [Stuxnet] details to bolster the president's national security credentials during the 2012 campaign.
Interestinger and interestinger.
posted by moody cow at 3:23 AM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


The way I've heard it, it was Israel who actually leaked it, so Cartwright might just be the face of a show trial that finds he did nothing wrong.
posted by rhizome at 10:16 AM on June 28, 2013


Acts of Journalism and the Espionage Act
posted by homunculus at 11:32 AM on June 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


> "Of all the dangerous government surveillance powers that were expanded by the USA PATRIOT Act the National Security Letter (NSL) power under 18 U.S.C. § 2709 as expanded by PATRIOT Section 505 is one of the most frightening and invasive."

What It’s Like to Get a National-Security Letter
posted by homunculus at 2:07 PM on June 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


Matt Taibbi: Hey, MSM: All Journalism is Advocacy Journalism
posted by homunculus at 8:17 PM on June 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


Joe Biden asked Rafael Correa not to give Snowden asylum
posted by jeffburdges at 1:54 PM on June 29, 2013


Hey, MSM: All Journalism is Advocacy Journalism

yes, but most of it is Advocacy for the interests of advertisers and their target audience, duh.
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:35 PM on June 29, 2013


(including Rolling Stone, which is why Taibbi has a job)
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:36 PM on June 29, 2013


Ecuador cools on Edward Snowden asylum as Assange frustration grows
President Correa revokes Snowden's temporary travel document amid concerns WikiLeaks founder is 'running the show'

posted by Joe in Australia at 4:41 PM on June 29, 2013


I am annoyed that the tide seems to be turning against Snowden.
posted by Unified Theory at 5:41 PM on June 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


I am hourly flip-flopping between "he made it to Russia and he's been eaten by a grue" and "he wasn't even on the first plane and left Hong Kong two weeks ago by robot shark." This extended silence from a guy supposedly in an airport is just too much to believe.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:48 PM on June 29, 2013


Der Spiegel: NSA installed bugs in EU buildings, infiltrated EU computer networks.
posted by anemone of the state at 9:49 PM on June 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


According to that last article the USA has been using facilities in NATO to spy on members of the EU. NATO is absolutely fundamental to the foreign policy of the USA. It allows the USA to extend its force and influence into the Mediterranean and to the edges of Europe; it is the bases for countless professional and social relationships which link the USA and the EU both tactically and ideologically. It's a really bad idea to mess with it, especially for something as useless as foreign intelligence on the USA's own allies.

I think we all know how valueless foreign intelligence is: the attack on the World Trade Center, the Arab Spring, the fall of the Soviet Union, all caught the USA off-guard. Conversely, even East Germany's obsessive self-scrutiny didn't preserve it when its people had had enough. There's simply too much information and, paradoxically, not enough. An intercepted conversation tells you what two people were saying at that time to each other, but it doesn't tell you what they said to different people at different times, or their actual thoughts at the time, or indeed the decision that they will end up making. How much better it is to be told about actual decisions once they are made, whether or not they are made public. How silly it is to compromise that relationship for something as vain and evanescent as a taped phone call.
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:01 AM on June 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


RELAX EUROPEANS WE'RE JUST KEEPING YOU SAFE
posted by scody at 2:10 PM on June 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


According to that last article the USA has been using facilities in NATO to spy on members of the EU. NATO is absolutely fundamental to the foreign policy of the USA. It allows the USA to extend its force and influence into the Mediterranean and to the edges of Europe; it is the bases for countless professional and social relationships which link the USA and the EU both tactically and ideologically. It's a really bad idea to mess with it, especially for something as useless as foreign intelligence on the USA's own allies.
Countries spy on their Allies all the time. Israeli spies have been caught spying in the U.S. Still, finding actual bugs being planted could be more problematic then, say, turning over documents or passing on office gossip.
posted by delmoi at 3:30 PM on June 30, 2013


Yes, but being part of NATO is a big part of what makes them allies. This is effectively the US taking advantage of friendship to snoop in on what those countries are doing, jeopardizing the relationship.
posted by JHarris at 8:00 PM on June 30, 2013


What JHarris said. I can't understand why people keep on saying things like "Oh, countries do this all the time!" They don't. Germany's justice minister described this as "reminiscent of the actions of enemies during the cold war". Do you really think that the USA's allies say things like this "all the time"? It's an extraordinary statement that should frankly terrify anyone who hopes for a stable international order.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:04 PM on June 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


Oh, and there's now a FPP devoted to this.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:04 PM on June 30, 2013


Drip, drip:
Washington Post releases four new slides from NSA's Prism presentation
NSA slides explain the PRISM data-collection program
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:08 PM on June 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can't understand why people keep on saying things like "Oh, countries do this all the time!"

For one, they're all foreigners, right?

But also, something I'd noticed back at the turn of the century when I started B school was the current day usage of saying "0 for 2, man, 0 for 2" among classmates with an armed forces background when competing for grades with the significantly large contingent of exchange students from Germany.
posted by infini at 10:13 PM on June 30, 2013


Kind-of on-topic: Secret no-fly list blamed for American's Bangkok nightmare
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:46 AM on July 1, 2013


Putin hints at offer for Snowden to remain in Russia: US whistleblower could stay if he stops 'bringing harm to our American partners' says president in audacious statement
posted by homunculus at 10:22 AM on July 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


What a whistleblower thinks a fellow whistleblower might have thought.
posted by adamvasco at 1:14 PM on July 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Statement from Edward Snowden in Moscow (via)
posted by jeffburdges at 4:45 PM on July 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Bush defends surveillance programs, says Snowden ‘damaged’ U.S.
posted by homunculus at 5:07 PM on July 1, 2013


What Snowden did would have happened eventually. It really was only a matter of time. He wasn't even that highly placed, and worked for an outside contractor. There are many who could have done what he did.

Lots about this I find appalling, but one of the things that worries me the most is the slow establishment of two "levels" of public: those without security clearance, and those with, with grievous penalties for those in the know if they clue in those out of it. The thing is, the press by definition is part of the outside.
posted by JHarris at 5:29 PM on July 1, 2013


The disclosures by Snowden regarding American spying on foreign governments crosses the line to treason in my opinion. I am no longer able to think of him as a whistleblower.
posted by humanfont at 6:01 PM on July 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Statement from Edward Snowden in Moscow

He sounds very naive in that statement. Of course the US is going to put apply pressure to get him on US soil, what did he expect?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:24 PM on July 1, 2013


I don't think he's technically a traitor, because there's no reason to think that he's "adhering to the enemies" of the USA. There's a reason this definition was important enough to warrant its inclusion in the USAn Constitution; people were well aware that governments use accusations of treachery to avoid scrutiny and legitimate dissent.

In any event, the USA has cancelled his passport and Amnesty International has warned that "his forced transfer to the USA would put him at great risk of human rights violations". There must come a point at which you can't be a traitor to your country because you have, yourself, been betrayed.
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:27 AM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Probably Keystone Kops since the alphabet soup of agencies (listed recently in the german thread) really do not seem to have any kind of central database or coordination. Most likely that is what has grown this multi headed hydra that is yet to become self aware. Urgh... its still a bottom feeder on a Jovian moon.
posted by infini at 5:56 AM on July 2, 2013


He sounds very naive in that statement. Of course the US is going to put apply pressure to get him on US soil, what did he expect?

To make them own it rather than do it in the shadows?
posted by jaduncan at 8:20 AM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Of course the US is going to put apply pressure to get him on US soil, what did he expect?

He's also catching Obama in the lie, which is a good part of the battle of credibility.
posted by jaduncan at 10:01 AM on July 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


He's also catching Obama in the lie, which is a good part of the battle of credibility.

Here is Obama's statement about wheeling and dealing for Snowden:
"I'm not going to have one case with a suspect who we're trying to extradite suddenly be elevated to the point where I've got to start doing wheeling and dealing and trading on a whole host of other issues, simply to get a guy extradited so he can face the justice system," Obama said at a joint news conference with Senegal's President Macky Sall. Here's Snowden's statement about "Obama's lie":
On Thursday, President Obama declared before the world that he would not permit any diplomatic "wheeling and dealing" over my case. Yet now it is being reported that after promising not to do so, the President ordered his Vice President to pressure the leaders of nations from which I have requested protection to deny my asylum petitions.
Snowden's twisting of Obama's original statement doesn't sound very credible. Seeking asylum in Russia while protesting US government intrusion doesn't sound credible.

I wonder if Snowden, and the issues he's brought up, would have faired better by releasing the documents and staying on US soil. He would have been publicly arrested had a very public trial. The sideshow of "Where's Snowden" and "Who is he aligning with" would have been avoided.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:53 AM on July 2, 2013


"fared better"

Had he remained here and allowed himself to be arrested, he would not have been able to control the timing of the release of his cache of documents, which timing, in addition to the sideshow, is what has kept the story in the news.
posted by notyou at 11:01 AM on July 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


NSA revelations: why so many are keen to play down the debate.
The documents have shown that intelligence agencies in the UK and the US are harvesting vast amounts of information about millions of people. This is fact, not fantasy. They are doing this right now, on a scale that could not have been envisaged five years ago, let alone when the laws covering the collection and retention of data were drafted.
posted by adamvasco at 11:32 AM on July 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


He would have been publicly arrested had a very public trial.

Surely they'd just have delayed the trial until it had been replaced by other news and he'd have spent a looong time being interrogated, probably not with much restraint? The guy doesn't have to want to be a total martyr and suffer more than he needs to and I imagine the treatment of Manning is playing a large part in his decisions.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 11:42 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was just about to mention Manning; I certainly don't think he's faring better than Snowden at the moment.
posted by Greg Nog at 11:45 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, yeah. Saying "This is not exceptional from a legal perspective," and "I'm not going to have one case of a suspect who we're trying to extradite suddenly being elevated to the point where I've got to start doing wheeling and dealing and trading on a whole host of other issues simply to get a guy extradited" doesn't sound like "I'm going to make Biden put personal pressure on any potential asylum-granting nation state."

If the Biden reports are true I'm comfortable with calling that extremely misleading at the least, and it doesn't look like Snowden doing the twisting.
posted by jaduncan at 11:46 AM on July 2, 2013


Guardian's news ticker is saying that Evo Morales's plane (President of Bolivia) is being diverted to Austria because they (whom?) suspect that Snowden is aboard.
posted by Jehan at 4:08 PM on July 2, 2013


Too bad if James Clapper wasn't under oath when he lied to congress about collecting data on Americans. I'd so love it if they nailed him for perjury.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:11 PM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Brandon Blatcher wrote: I wonder if Snowden, and the issues he's brought up, would have faired better by releasing the documents and staying on US soil. He would have been publicly arrested had a very public trial.

Why would you possibly think this is the case? Amnesty International doesn't think so, and their original raison d'être was protecting prisoners of conscience. If the experience of other people accused of espionage is a guide then Snowden would have been swiftly arrested and imprisoned without bail or necessarily any charge. He'd have been kept in maximum-security conditions for a few years, and quite likely tortured by jailors pretending that he was a security or suicide risk. Then he'd have been hit with a huge list of charges carrying ridiculous penalties, and be expected to plea bargain down to ones carrying a penalty of, say, thirty years to life. There would be hardly any appearance in an open court, and that would be basically an opportunity to plead guilty to the "reduced" sentence. And even then the government might renege on its bargain and negotiate a more severe penalty in a secret session with the judge. Basically, if Snowden returns to the USA he's totally screwed.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:49 PM on July 2, 2013 [9 favorites]


Amnesty link
posted by chapps at 9:31 PM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Snowden and Assange Targeted by Mysterious Hacker "The Jester": The "patriot" hacktivist cyberattacked an Ecuadorean stock exchange on Monday. Wait till you hear his plan to flush the WikiLeaks founder out of the country's embassy.
posted by homunculus at 11:03 PM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Bolivian president "searched" by TSA for hidden "snowdens"
Guardian's blow by blow account of the day including snippets of air control talk over presidential plane low on fuel.
posted by infini at 1:19 AM on July 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why yes, that would explain it:
Clapper: I gave 'erroneous' answer because I forgot about Patriot Act
Intelligence chief tries to explain false Senate testimony by saying he 'simply didn't think' of NSA efforts to collect phone data

posted by Joe in Australia at 1:55 AM on July 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


“I simply didn’t think of Section 215 of the Patriot Act,”

The first thing to happen so far that just made me derisively laugh. It's a bit of a lose-lose for Clapper; even if you don't believe that this is an obvious lie, he'd deserve sacking for incompetence.
posted by jaduncan at 3:26 AM on July 3, 2013


It seems strange how so many of the countries that Snowden has alleged have been targets of espionage seem so eager to prevent him going anywhere near them. We hear that France, Spain, Italy and Portugal all apparently were unwilling to let a plane allegedly containing Snowden to fly over their air space - even if that pisses off the Bolivians.
posted by rongorongo at 3:51 AM on July 3, 2013


This episode of diverting the Bolivian president's plane is astonishing. The more the Obama administration is humiliated over the Snowden imbroglio, made to look like desperate, incompetent, power-mad, impolitic fools, the better. And this Bolivian thing is very rich in this regard.

I find myself rejoicing a little bit at every Snowden revelation that has Obama and his administration scurrying for cover. I really hope he's got plenty more good stuff to wreak havoc with. At this point it's clear that we (the U.S.) need to be taken down quite a few notches, our arrogance and swagger is out of control, and our president is an unprincipled coward.
posted by Unified Theory at 5:33 AM on July 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Can you imagine if a set of countries denied Airforce One access to airspace, forcing it down, and keeping the President of the United States captive in an airport lounge for a day?

Nuclear weapons might be flying by now.

The arrogance and lawlessness on display here beggars belief. If all it takes to make the most powerful nation on earth flip the fuck out is show a newspaper some Powerpoint slides about activities that are claimed to be legal...well. Game over.
posted by Jimbob at 5:43 AM on July 3, 2013 [8 favorites]


Can you imagine if a set of countries denied Airforce One access to airspace, forcing it down, and keeping the President of the United States captive in an airport lounge for a day?

And allowed down to refuel only if the President consents to a search?
posted by Unified Theory at 5:53 AM on July 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I urge you to read the article in the New York Times this morning. In describing in detail the Bolivian plane debacle, it contains very dark and chilling suggestions of how the U.S. is exerting power on the rest of the world, to the point of insanity, in its attempt to flush out Snowden.

Some choice bits:

“At the moment there is nothing we can do but wait for permission for a flyover. Spain is now consulting with the U.S.A. whether the plane can fly over Spanish airspace,” Mr. Morales said, speaking through a translator. The president, his staff and four pilots were forced to spend the night in the airport’s V.I.P. area.
......
A spokesman for the Spanish Foreign Ministry said it would not comment on the flight issue. Europa Press, a Spanish news agency, said that Spain would make “in the coming hours” a decision on whether to allow the aircraft to cross Spanish territory, citing unnamed officials at the Spanish Embassy in Vienna. There was no immediate comment Wednesday from Portuguese officials.
.......
Rubén Saavedra, the defense minister, who was on the plane with Mr. Morales, accused the Obama administration of being behind the action by France and Portugal, calling it “an attitude of sabotage and a plot by the government of the United States.”

There was no immediate response by officials in Washington.

“We were in flight; it was completely unexpected,” Mr. Saavedra said on the Telesur cable network. “The president was very angry.”

......
Bolivian officials said they were working on a new flight plan to allow Mr. Morales to fly home. But in a possible sign of further suspicion about the passenger manifest, Mr. Saavedra said that Italy had also refused to give permission for the plane to fly over its airspace. Later he said that France and Portugal had reversed course and offered to allow the plane to fly through their airspace after all.
.....
The problems began even before Mr. Morales left Moscow, Mr. Choquehuanca said. On Monday, Portugal, without explanation, had withdrawn permission for Mr. Morales’s plane to stop in Lisbon to refuel, the foreign minister said. That required Bolivian officials to get permission from Spain to refuel in the Canary Islands.

The next day, after taking off from Moscow, Mr. Morales’s plane was just minutes from entering French airspace, according to Mr. Saavedra, when the French authorities informed the pilot that the plane could not fly over France.

posted by Unified Theory at 6:10 AM on July 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I find myself rejoicing a little bit at every Snowden revelation that has Obama and his administration scurrying for cover.

I don 't. I just get more and more depressed. I love the US and my years living there were some of the happiest I've had. Sure, it has its problem, but it is also a great country. And I was so excited when Obama was elected...
posted by lesbiassparrow at 6:10 AM on July 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm hoping that Snowden receives the next Nobel Peace Prize.
posted by Unified Theory at 6:18 AM on July 3, 2013


It is a great country full of wonderful people -- just like every other country. It's possible to love the people, love the places, to fondly remember all the beauty and joy that happened there, and also despise with every fibre the things being done in the name of those people by those who wield the swords and sceptres in the gilded halls of the mighty.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:20 AM on July 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why would you possibly think this is the case? Amnesty International doesn't think so, and their original raison d'être was protecting prisoners of conscience. If the experience of other people accused of espionage is a guide then Snowden would have been swiftly arrested and imprisoned without bail or necessarily any charge.

I was thinking of the Civil Rights Movement and King's Letter from a Birmingham jail, which did a good job of laying out the moral cause for disobeying the law. The two situation aren't the same of course, but there is a admiration for King's obvious willingness to break the law, an admiration that is a mixed bag in Snowden's case.

Since Snowden wasn't in the military, he would not have been held in a military prison, so the Manning comparison isn't complete either. Obviously Snowden would not have been welcomed with open arms in the American judicial system, but I do wonder if he would have had more leverage on political and public opinion level if he had turned himself in. Everyone loves a David would he's personally going up again Goliath, not such when David is giving him the finger from that hill over yonder.

I urge you to read the article in the New York Times this morning. In describing in detail the Bolivian plane debacle, it contains very dark and chilling suggestions of how the U.S. is exerting power on the rest of the world, to the point of insanity, in its attempt to flush out Snowden.

Eh, this is unsurprising and I can't imagine Snowden didn't suspect this would happen, though perhaps not to this degree.

While countries love the idea of using Snowden to score political points against the US, actually dealing with him and the signal he might send to their own citizens is a more thorny subject. It's easy to see why no one is in a hurry to take him in.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:24 AM on July 3, 2013


This Bolivian airplane story is just insane. They seriously detained the President of Bolivia in his own airplane? And searched it? Is there any limit to the arrogance of power?
posted by Nelson at 7:10 AM on July 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


It's easy to see why no one is in a hurry to take him in.

Brandon, what you're saying is a bit of a non sequitur to what I was commenting on. The refusal of various European countries to let the Bolivian presidential plane enter their airspace isn't about them not wanting to take Snowden in.
posted by Unified Theory at 7:10 AM on July 3, 2013


Brandon, MLK spent less than two weeks in Birmingham jail. It was a different era. If Snowden is arrested by the USA he will almost certainly be silenced and imprisoned for decades. A present-day MLK would be betraying his cause and his people if he let himself be arrested. This is, of course, part of the problem.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:19 AM on July 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


Local officials and anti-civil rights thug types successfully cut off TV coverage of violence in Alabama before the time MLK was jailed, you'd had civil rights workers protestors killed in the South, etc. What, pray tell, was so terribly different then? And why the hell did anyone favorite that offensive, historically ignorant comment?
posted by raysmj at 7:38 AM on July 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


You regularly had beatings of people who weren't civil rights workers, either. Black musicians were always worried, with justification, about being pulled over in the South of the same era. I can see the fear of being treated like Bradley Manning too, of course (I don't think anyone should be held in a Supermax, regardless of the type of crime), but downplaying the dangers of this earlier era is just entirely too strange and wrong.
posted by raysmj at 7:57 AM on July 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Black people are still worried about being pulled over: LeVar Burton on Driving While Black.
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:16 AM on July 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


A present-day MLK would be betraying his cause and his people if he let himself be arrested.

what?
posted by Golden Eternity at 8:20 AM on July 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


So, can we conclude that when Obama says he's not going to do something, that's the way he tells us what he's definitely going to do? Or maybe he's not "wheeling and dealing," but bringing out the rubber hose, so in that way he was telling the truth the same way he was when he used the "cannot be seen" definition of transparent.
posted by rhizome at 8:21 AM on July 3, 2013


Who's to say they aren't twisting arms behind BO's back? Those kids are young.
posted by infini at 9:13 AM on July 3, 2013


Brandon, MLK spent less than two weeks in Birmingham jail. It was a different era. If Snowden is arrested by the USA he will almost certainly be silenced and imprisoned for decades. A present-day MLK would be betraying his cause and his people if he let himself be arrested. This is, of course, part of the problem.

Yes, as mentioned earlier, the situations are not the same. MLK was living under legally enforced and morally wrong second class citizenship where jail time, beatings and even murder of black people for any or no reason was pretty much a-ok.

Edward Snowden was not living under such conditions. Quite the opposite. So the idea that he absolutely had to leave the country and seek asylum elsewhere is not an understandable one to me. That doesn't mean he was necessarily wrong to leave the country, but it does sound odd. Particularly when he's seeking asylum in places that do no have historically better record on human rights violations.

He's working with Wikileaks, who could definitely keep up the release of information or public awareness. There are various internet ways of keeping the message alive, ala Twitter and the like. He supposedly has several important files stashed with friends in case anything happens to him. Sure, no one wants to go to prison, but I've been thinking that the willingness to do so gives a powerful moral weight to his cause that is almost unassailable.

Compare these two lines of thought:
"The US government is doing something terrible things and despite any previous oaths, I'm willing to bring light to those wrongdoings and accept the consequences of technically breaking the law. It's that important, this is so morally repugnant and against American ideas that not just my life but any future possibilities that life might have had, with skills and high salary, I'm ready to give up because this terrible program is that bad and needs to be stopped."

vs

"The US government is doing something bad, so I'm going to release secrets about that wrongdoing after the leaving the country and trying to avoid capture, will getting into pissing matches about who said what with the President, as I hole up in a Russian airport seeking asylum from seemingly any country that'll take me"

The former demands respect, even if you don't agree with the actions, but you have to admire the person for standing their ground. The latter rings hollow and takes the focus of the issue elsewhere.

Again, these are just idle thoughts of mine and Snowden may be playing some long game that I can't see. But his actions and purported statements do come off as oddly counterproductive.


So, can we conclude that when Obama says he's not going to do something, that's the way he tells us what he's definitely going to do? Or maybe he's not "wheeling and dealing," but bringing out the rubber hose, so in that way he was telling the truth the same way he was when he used the "cannot be seen" definition of transparent.

It depends on the situation and could applied to pretty much any person, not just politicians. .
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:29 AM on July 3, 2013


Snowden's father writes his son an open letter. As you might have expected, it is not a typical dad letter.
posted by rongorongo at 9:52 AM on July 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


The apple didn't fall too far from the tree, it seems.
posted by seanmpuckett at 10:01 AM on July 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


The former demands respect, even if you don't agree with the actions, but you have to admire the person for standing their ground. The latter rings hollow and takes the focus of the issue elsewhere.

You're using the second-person pronoun when you should be using the first. I absolutely do not think it's more respectable to allow oneself to be captured than to remain free.
posted by Greg Nog at 10:03 AM on July 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


Snowden's father writes his son an open letter. As you might have expected, it is not a typical dad letter.

Wow. Just beautiful.

I have to say, after the senior Snowden's first foray in front of the media, I was expecting this letter to be disappointing. How wrong I was. He seems to have reflected very deeply and I'm glad to know he's proud of his son.
posted by Unified Theory at 10:15 AM on July 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


double block and bleed: qxntpqbbbqxl: "The NSA has a history of being ahead of the world in cryptography, but.. there are much easier ways to circumvent cryptography than a constructive proof that P=NP (the impact of which would be like dropping an atom bomb on theoretical computer science)."

Not if they they don't tell anyone. Like I said, pure conjecture on my part.

It probably would be easier to just show up at places like RSA, subpoena the codes and then slap a gag order on them.
You... don't actually understand anything about how encryption works, and should probably stop guessing.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:57 AM on July 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


emjaybee: Again, why are we linking girlfriend information...

Brandon Blatcher: Because she's connected to him. The story is now longer just about what he did, but who he is and the people around.
Wrong. We aren't being told diddly-squat about his mother, his brothers and sisters, his former roommates, his next-door neighbors... just the salacious bits about his photogenic girlfriend. That's it. Pure TNA distraction. And those doing the linking are pawns in this misogynist PR game.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:41 PM on July 3, 2013 [7 favorites]


Happy July 4th to everyone in the U.S. :)

Restore the Fourth Campaign Organizes Protests Against Unconstitutional Surveillance
posted by jeffburdges at 1:01 PM on July 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I did read about his neighbors, and how they didn't talk to him very much, thought he was quiet and private but busy, that his quiet didn't seem like anything nefarious. The girlfriend had a blog, meanwhile, and wrote a good deal of material about her relationship with Snowden (although, to my knowledge, she never named him).
posted by raysmj at 1:07 PM on July 3, 2013


Snowden should seek asylum in the one place safe from US prosecution: Wall Street
posted by homunculus at 3:27 PM on July 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


CIA Whistleblower John Kiriakou’s Open Letter to Edward Snowden
posted by homunculus at 3:38 PM on July 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


This Bolivian airplane story is just insane. They seriously detained the President of Bolivia in his own airplane? And searched it? Is there any limit to the arrogance of power?

The Tale of the Re-Routed Bolivian President's Plane Is Falling Apart
posted by BobbyVan at 3:52 PM on July 3, 2013


Seriously, read homunculus's link "CIA Whistleblower John Kiriakou's Open Letter to Edward Snowden." Amazing and important stuff. It makes it seem like the FBI has deep problems.
posted by JHarris at 4:53 PM on July 3, 2013


The Tale of the Re-Routed Bolivian President's Plane Is Falling Apart

What has happened to The Atantic? it used to be a quality publication. That article BobbyVan linked is really bad. It purports to debunk the story about the Bolivian president's plane being rerouted ... but actually doesn't debunk it at all. It just shows that the countries involved in the rerouting are being evasive and are potentially humiliated by the revelation that they acted like lapdogs of the U.S.
posted by Unified Theory at 5:03 PM on July 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


BobbyVan: The Tale of the Re-Routed Bolivian President's Plane Is Falling Apart

No, it's just being spun. Read The Guardian's coverage, which was apparently written by a journalist. The Atlantic's refutations include this acute analysis: "The claim: The plane was searched. [...] According to The New York Times, permission to do so was granted by the Bolivians."

Well, that certainly dismantles Bolivia's claim! Elsewhere we learn that Portugal didn't deny use of its airspace; it just refused to let the plane make a refueling stop. Bolivia's planes, you know, run on water and "marching powder"; it's entirely natural to deny the right to purchase fuel and it wouldn't at all be because the US State Department was leaning on the Portuguese government.

You know, if Philip Burr were a journalist, rather than an assiduous asslicker, he might have mentioned that a spokesperson for the US State Department confirmed that it had "been in contact with a range of countries that had a chance of having Snowden land or travel through their country". She also refused to "confirm or deny any specific involvement with Morale's flight ". But then Philip Burr's ambition is to be the sidekick who pipes up "Yeah, boss!" in a gangster movie: he certainly isn't there to impugn weasel-worded communiques that confirm the US government's narrative.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:23 PM on July 3, 2013 [10 favorites]


Right, like Bolivia would risk having Snowmanden on the same plane as the prez. Ay-yi-yi.

And if Morales and/or Correa are indeed involved with securing the Den of Snow, the US just made a very bad chess move.
posted by telstar at 5:36 PM on July 3, 2013


What has happened to The Atantic? it used to be a quality publication.

The print magazine is still pretty good, but the website has sunk pretty low. I'd call it a pseudo intellectual Buzzfeed, but that would be insulting to those three things.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:06 PM on July 3, 2013


Snowden case: France apologises in Bolivia plane row

The rationale for France's actions are given at greater length in this article from The Telegraph: Latin American countries call summit over diversion of Evo Morales's plane
A spokesman at France's Foreign Ministry blamed the flap on "an administrative mishap," saying France never intended to ban Mr Morales from its airspace and that there were delays in getting confirmation that the plane had fly-over permits. [...]
Government aircraft, whether carrying diplomats or missiles, always require approval before they can enter foreign airspace, legal experts said.
Does that sound familiar to you? Does it? It's the Hong Kong excuse! I love it.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:51 AM on July 4, 2013


If you click through that sad attempt at spinning a story already global by the time your time zone wakes up, you'll note the author's name is now philip bump
posted by infini at 3:54 AM on July 4, 2013


What were they planning on doing if Snowden had been on board? Were they really going to drag him off and shoot any Bolivian who got in their way? I can just imagine how well that would play out
posted by lesbiassparrow at 4:23 AM on July 4, 2013


Morale's flight

Best typo ever, Joe in Australia.
posted by infini at 4:41 AM on July 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Actually, everyone missed the obvious headline given the refused landing/refueling rights: Keeping Up Morales
posted by jaduncan at 4:47 AM on July 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wow, what a fucking dumbass move. I wonder which incompetent agency was responsible for essentially pulling it out of their ass that Snowden was onboard, and then coming up with this juvenile, clearly not fully-formed plan to capture him. CIA seems to fit the description.
posted by odinsdream at 3:54 PM on July 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


BBC News: France 'has vast data surveillance' - Le Monde report
posted by raysmj at 9:12 PM on July 4, 2013


Evo Morales threatens to close Bolivia's US embassy as leaders lend support
Bonus: includes cryptic line "Not all the region's leaders were not expected at the summit."

So ... some were expected?
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:37 PM on July 4, 2013


Its an interesting double negative, I wonder if its parsed as "All are coming, which surprised us"
posted by hugbucket at 9:50 PM on July 4, 2013


I wonder which incompetent agency was responsible for essentially pulling it out of their ass that Snowden was onboard, and then coming up with this juvenile, clearly not fully-formed plan to capture him.

The Spanish say they were informed that Snowden was on the plane. They won't say by whom - but presumably, since the request was to do with blocking access - it was an American source. The story would have been an easy one for the Russians to have planted on the off chance American intelligence were too dozy to be tracking Snowden's whereabouts themselves.
posted by rongorongo at 6:20 AM on July 5, 2013


They won't say by whom - but presumably, since the request was to do with blocking access - it was an American source. The story would have been an easy one for the Russians to have planted on the off chance American intelligence were too dozy to be tracking Snowden's whereabouts themselves.
The genius of you Americans is that you never make clear-cut stupid moves, only complicated stupid moves which make the rest of us wonder at the possibility that we might be missing something. ~ Gamal Abdel Nasser




please don't send me a pressure cooker in the mail, my honeypot is broken.
posted by hugbucket at 6:56 AM on July 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


As a feint, it would be slick. See what lengths the Americans will go to without putting the MacGuffin at risk. I wonder what other trickeries they could get up to, if that was the intent.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:01 AM on July 5, 2013


Putin did say not to harm his American buddies, though has anyone else noticed Anna Chapman's tweeted marriage proposal to SnowedIn?
posted by hugbucket at 7:45 AM on July 5, 2013


Der Spiegel: Spying Fuss: What Is the Big Deal?
in America, it's hard to come by reliable information on the scandal....It's hard to explain to Americans how Germans see this issue.

posted by adamvasco at 9:41 AM on July 5, 2013


The periscope has its lens screwed permanently in only one frame of reference offering only a single perspective. The spanner is broken. FIAMO.
posted by hugbucket at 9:55 AM on July 5, 2013


I understand the words but the meaning eludes me, and probably several others. I could guess but I don't think I have the time and energy. What exactly are we flagging and moving on from?
posted by adamvasco at 10:59 AM on July 5, 2013


Iceland parliament declines Snowden's citizenship bid
posted by homunculus at 1:15 PM on July 5, 2013


Wow, for some reason the U.S. government seems almost desperate to get Snowden. Do they really want another Bradley Manning?

Obviously, in secret, the national security apparatus has grown so vast and bloated that it's becoming a resource drain just to keep it all from the (larger) public. I mean, Snowden wasn't even a particularly important guy before The Leak. How many other potential Snowdens are there? Is it going to be fear that keeps the local sysadmins in line?
posted by JHarris at 1:32 PM on July 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


A NYT news alert went up a few minutes ago saying Venezuela has offered Snowden asylum.
posted by Unified Theory at 6:09 PM on July 5, 2013


Do they really want another Bradley Manning?
Hell yeah, a clear example to everyone in the NSA and its contractors that you must NEVER NEVER stray from the farm.
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:03 PM on July 5, 2013


Venezuela offers Snowden asylum.
posted by dhruva at 7:49 PM on July 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Nicaragua as well.
posted by anemone of the state at 10:15 PM on July 5, 2013


Verax is a short film based on the Snowden case.
posted by seemoreglass at 7:40 AM on July 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Bolivia just offered Snowden asylum.
posted by anemone of the state at 10:34 AM on July 6, 2013


And so the puzzle changes yet again from "where will he go" to "how will he get there".

... dude should already be looking at seven figures in film rights.
posted by seanmpuckett at 11:11 AM on July 6, 2013


And if he accepts, the odious meme that he somehow did all this for money, as if he could possibly have planned all this from the start, will emerge.
posted by JHarris at 1:51 PM on July 6, 2013


Edward Snowden's leaks cause editorial split at the Washington Post

Synopsis: the paper that printed Snowden's revelations now says "the first U.S. priority should be to prevent Mr. Snowden from leaking information that harms efforts to fight terrorism and conduct legitimate intelligence operations."

In further news, the NSA really does have all your emails, and text messages, and photos.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:51 AM on July 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


pwn3d
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:37 AM on July 7, 2013


In Secret, Court Vastly Broadens Powers of N.S.A.
posted by homunculus at 10:30 AM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Welcome to Ecuador. And rest assured no one here is listening to your telephone conversations." -Rafael Correa in an interview with Al Jazeera
posted by seemoreglass at 12:57 PM on July 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I would like to go ahead and personally offer Ed Snowden asylum.
posted by telstar at 4:02 PM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't know if I trust this intermediate source, and I don't see it on Al Jazeera's website, but for what it's worth:
Edward Snowden Safely Lands In Venezuela Where He Was Granted Asylum To Avoid U.S. Extradition
PRLog (Press Release) - Jul. 7, 2013 - WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Al Jazeera news agency is reporting that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has safely landed in Caracas, Venezuela. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro had offered asylum to the former U.S. intelligence contractor on Friday who was believed to be waiting in transit at a Moscow airport.
There are a couple of odd paragraphs in this alleged press release too, so I'd consider it very suspect without confirmation.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:27 PM on July 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


No confirmation of the Venezuela arrival story - although this Guardian article cites Russia foreign minister mentioning Caracas as the "best solution" for Snowden.
posted by rongorongo at 2:10 AM on July 8, 2013


In Secret, Court Vastly Broadens Powers of N.S.A.

That's at the real heart of this issue for me. We, being the humans we predictably are, will always desire to make things "bigger and better" and improve upon existing designs whether through science, law, or general infrastructure planning.

How long will it be before this data slides into the realm of general law enforcement via court orders? All it took were a few orders to get thus far. How many orders with political misdirections would it take to take it to the next new and improved stage? Using it to confront drug trafficking, child porn, or money laundering would be obvious segways. "Don't worry, we're only going after those people...we're building a better, safer future together....oh by the way, we need to reduce FISA requirements a little more, all that paperwork is still slowing us down..."

I suppose ultimately I'm fearing a possible dystopian future where the water gets unacceptably murky, and we can do little then about it as citizens. We humans are not only predictable when it comes to improving and expanding on things...we're also predictably bad utilizing those improvements properly when incompetence and special interest creeps in. The data warehousing operation that once started with the NSA soley to combat international terrorism may grow to become the ultimate resource for preventing future crimes, and bringing justice on past crimes that would have otherwise gone unnoticed. As utopic as that may sound to law enforcement, it's obviously Orwellian at its very core, and is in serious danger of being misused/abused at great cost to people who get erroneously, mistakenly, or unfortunately stuck in the system. For the unfortunate examples, think less of cases where there is clear and present physical danger, and think more about the people who make unfortunate decisions with what they write when expressing themselves....especially when young and stupid (we've all been there and most of us turned out fine)...these examples in particular, while not (yet) being related to data warehousing, are just kids faced with a devastating way to ruin one's life and employability just starting out....for now, it's only about what's being actively looked at, and where the public's concerns are perceived to be....using the above examples as the new standard, I hope most people realize that just listening in on Xbox Live chat for a day could imprison half this nation's youth. Even with known mishaps, abuses, and unintentional suffering at this point, a data warehouse and infrastructure built around collecting all communications could grow to a law enforcement operation that would be too big to fail, and too fundamentally "important" to dismantle. I unfortunately feel that in secret it has already reached this point of no return just being an anti-terrorism initiative...

So I think it's important to keep expressing our concerns about this kind of technology with unyielding focus, regardless of what happens with Snowden, whether on his own volition or via various special interests employed by participating countries vying to set the current tone of global politics. And of course I'll risk ending this comment with conspiracy theory (sadly tinfoil hat aside)...as who knows if his laptops have been compromised at this point, or if his life is in immediate danger, or even if he still alive since his last video interview...anything he writes until his next video interview should be met with keen skepticism....I fear if he is taken out publicly, is jailed, or mysteriously disappears (or all three, with the last option helping us forget him faster) our nation's outrage is only temporary...and the genuine protesters will get marginalized and lumped in with nation crackpots...much of this is the result of basic psychological ops (nothing too fancy as our media culture takes care of a lot for PsyOps these days...well considering I can't really tell if the egg or chicken came first there). For PsyOps, we have employed personnel in this country easily since the turn of last century (and worldwide for other countries predating Sun Tzu)...we shouldn't expect these individuals to be sitting on their laurels in office chairs, when it comes to shaping the stories of how people feel about governments, and how governments really operate.
posted by samsara at 8:06 AM on July 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


In Secret, Court Vastly Broadens Powers of N.S.A.

It's not just the NSA, in 2006 the FISC legalized Cheney's illegal surveillance program:
"It wasn’t seen that we’re pushing the boundaries of surveillance law here," Mr. Edgar says. "It was the very opposite. You’re starting from a huge amount of unilateral surveillance and putting it on a much sounder legal basis."
They're just doing whatever they want and constructing legal scams to cow the populace. Don't have the surveillance powers you want? Do it anyway. People find out? Browbeat the judges on your fake court to go along with it. Not only that, but this is Obama's baby.
posted by rhizome at 9:40 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Edward Snowden Interview: The NSA and Its Willing Helpers
posted by homunculus at 12:50 PM on July 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Just think of the power a government could have at controlling the public narrative with the information gathered by PRISM.
posted by anemone of the state at 3:22 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Snowden and Venezuela: My bizarre experience in the surveillance state
posted by homunculus at 5:30 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Daniel Ellsberg: Snowden made the right call when he fled the U.S.

I think it bears repeating that if the political climate today were what it was in 1971, under Richard Nixon, Snowden would probably still be in the USA and nobody would be speculating about Chinese or Russian interest in his documents.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:22 AM on July 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Nixon had a team of operatives break into Ellsberg's psychiatrist's office to dig up dirt on him. 1971 wasn't exactly a great time to be leaking either.
posted by smackfu at 5:46 AM on July 9, 2013


Things In Politico That Make Me Want To Guzzle Antifreeze, Part The Infinity
posted by homunculus at 11:53 AM on July 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


Edward Snowden on Why He Stood Up to the NSA: Mass Spying "Not Something I’m Willing to Live Under"

Glenn Greenwald: Snowden Encouraged by Global Outrage over NSA Spying, Support for His Plight
posted by homunculus at 11:57 AM on July 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


« Older The LA Times Hero Complex looks at diversity in SF...  |  Around dusk on Feb. 17, Dr. Dr... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments