Breaking: NSA conducts espionage on foreign targets
June 12, 2013 4:11 PM   Subscribe

In an interview with Hong Kong's South China Morning Post, NSA leaker, Edward Snowden, claims that the US is "trying to bully the Hong Kong government" into extraditing him, and provides new documents which describe the NSA's routine hacking of targets in Hong Kong and mainland China since 2009, including regular access of large backbone networks.

Snowden claims that his disclosure of the new documents is intended to expose "the hypocrisy of the US government when it claims that it does not target civilian infrastructure, unlike its adversaries." Earlier this week, citing "a number of confidential sources," Foreign Policy reported that (reg. reqd.; meta-piece from Business Insider):
a highly secretive unit of the National Security Agency ... called the Office of Tailored Access Operations, or TAO, has successfully penetrated Chinese computer and telecommunications systems for almost 15 years
posted by pjenks (938 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh man, this is getting fun...
posted by rollbiz at 4:12 PM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


In other news, water is "wet" and bears "shit in the woods."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:13 PM on June 12, 2013 [26 favorites]


I think this was a massive PR blunder on Snowden's part. Its much easier now for his opponents to paint him as a traitor or disloyal.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 4:15 PM on June 12, 2013 [20 favorites]


My first thought is this guy is really digging a hole he won't be able to dig out of.

That was pretty much my second thought, too.
posted by sutt at 4:16 PM on June 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


Wow! This is starting to remind me of Shibumi.
posted by I'm Doing the Dishes at 4:16 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Not sure how I feel about this one.
The US Spying / Collecting data on US civilians is a breach of privacy and probably unconstitutional.

The US spying on China is kind of expected and not a legal issue.
posted by mulligan at 4:17 PM on June 12, 2013 [12 favorites]


Doesn't make it right..

But anyone who hasn't been operating under the assumption that all this.. and much more.. is very real for say the last 10-12 years has been under an amazing cloud of delusion that I would KILL for a pill version of..
posted by mediocre at 4:17 PM on June 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


I am still bewildered that Snowden decided to hide out in HK in the first place, given that HK has an extradition treaty with the US.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:18 PM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


You guys, you'd heard of the NSA before all this, right?
posted by Artw at 4:19 PM on June 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


Snowden is kind of an unfortunate name.
posted by 2bucksplus at 4:19 PM on June 12, 2013 [8 favorites]


Somebody has to explain to me the phrase "I have faith in HK’s rule of law." I've been to Hong Kong before the handover, I would have thought by now "HK rule of law" is synonymous with "Chinese rule of law."

Does it behoove Snowden to be at China's doorstep? Does this not put China in a foreign relations predicament? Wouldn't China want to arrest this man for such admissions? So on and so forth.
posted by phaedon at 4:20 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Leak one: whistleblowing regarding the NSA doing what the NSA is not supposed to do but does in secret.
Leak two: exposing operational details of what the NSA is supposed to do and has in the open mission statement.
posted by jaduncan at 4:21 PM on June 12, 2013 [12 favorites]


Wouldn't China want to arrest this man for such admissions?

Unless China was already in on it from before the press exposure...
posted by GuyZero at 4:22 PM on June 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


But anyone who hasn't been operating under the assumption that all this.. and much more.. is very real for say the last 10-12 years has been under an amazing cloud of delusion that I would KILL for a pill version of..

FOXit - erases unpleasant memories, prevents unpleasant facts and boosts privilege - soon at a pharmacy near YOU!

but really - has this guy come up with one revelation that's surprised any of us?
posted by pyramid termite at 4:23 PM on June 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


If the NSA is doing nothing wrong, then it has nothing to fear from these breaches of its privacy.
posted by straight at 4:24 PM on June 12, 2013 [160 favorites]


Are Hong Kongers Losing Patience With Beijing? Edward Snowden's decision to flee to the territory puts a spotlight on its growing discomfort with mainland Chinese meddling.
posted by homunculus at 4:27 PM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Leak one: whistleblowing regarding the NSA doing what the NSA is not supposed to do but does in secret.

Determing the degree to which that is true isn't made any easier by the leak being filtered through Glenn Greenwald.
posted by Artw at 4:27 PM on June 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


I seem to be able to access the Foreign Policy article with no registration or paywall barriers. ymmv
posted by Bwithh at 4:28 PM on June 12, 2013


Not sure how I feel about this one.
The US Spying / Collecting data on US civilians is a breach of privacy and probably unconstitutional.

The US spying on China is kind of expected and not a legal issue.


I don't think the evidence of the US spying on China is meant to have the same effect as the domestic spying evidence was. I think this is more intended to save his own ass from being extradited by showing the Chinese that maybe they don't want to cooperate with the US on this one.

I don't think it will have any effect on how the Chinese Government ultimately decides to act on this, though
posted by Hoopo at 4:28 PM on June 12, 2013 [11 favorites]


Ugh, I'm getting really tired of newspapers not releasing the actual documents.
posted by kiltedtaco at 4:28 PM on June 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


showing the Chinese that maybe they don't want to cooperate with the US on this one.

AKA: "I debrief juicily."
posted by jaduncan at 4:29 PM on June 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


but really - has this guy come up with one revelation that's surprised any of us?

Are comments like this made to suppress conversation? This is not really news, so let's not talk about it? This could be the beginning of some much needed progress.

It seems like total surveillance and internet go hand in hand for certain people. Yes, it's a given that this is the world we currently live in. But perhaps blowing it all up and having it land on the front page news will be the first step in improving civil liberties in the digital era. Focusing on the "newness" of the story or Snowden the individual - this is missing the forest for the trees.
posted by phaedon at 4:30 PM on June 12, 2013 [34 favorites]


I would have thought by now "HK rule of law" is synonymous with "Chinese rule of law."

I don't think so. HK still has it's own constitution-like document called HK Basic Law, and it also has it's own court system. It has it's own currency and has separate customs and immigration procedures from Mainland China.

I am still bewildered that Snowden decided to hide out in HK in the first place, given that HK has an extradition treaty with the US.

HK is a major travel hub, so it's easy to hop on a plane anywhere in case things go south. Also, looking at this extradition map, most European countries already have extradition treaty's in place. Asia's a good compromise, since it looks like China, Taiwan, and most of SE Asia does not have treaties.
posted by FJT at 4:31 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Snowden already deferred an offer from Russia for consideration for asylum. If he wanted to be more free from extradition than he is in Hong Kong, he easily could be.

I also find it really hard to believe that these latest revelations are news to the Chinese government. If anything, I feel like this is beginning to tear up the edges of the screen that's been hiding a vicious new cold war from the general public.
posted by feloniousmonk at 4:35 PM on June 12, 2013 [8 favorites]


Having been to Hong Kong after the handover, and then into mainland China, there is a very real difference in feel between Hong Kong and China. I didn't have any interaction with regular law enforcement there, or with the legal system, but customs into Hong Kong, and then customs from Hong Kong into China, were completely different experiences. A Hong Kong visa is "show up at the border with a U.S. passport", a China visa to visit a factory in Guangdong was arranged days ahead of time with the instruction to "tell them you're going in for the day as a tourist, clean out your laptop bag, we'll all go through separately, each of us carrying separate pieces from the prototype we're having the company try to replicate".

The other interesting thing that seems to be coming out of this news is how less competent the NSA is than we'd thought. Some reports have Snowden leaving the country with 4 secure laptops, and with his access to sensitive information far less monitored than has been claimed. When the PRISM story broke (and I think it's important to note that the Verizon Wireless story is not the PRISM story) and we saw the tech company denials, my response was that either Google, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, etc were carefully shrouding the truth, or that NSA data center in Utah is really full of guys scarfin' Cheetos and watching porn all day.

At this point, the more that various higher-ups in the NSA try to spin this to Congress, the more it looks like the Cheetos and porn hypothesis is closer to the truth than I'd imagined, and the main thing they've been trying to hide is just how little they're getting from all the money they've funnelled to Booz Allen.
posted by straw at 4:38 PM on June 12, 2013 [9 favorites]


HK is a major travel hub, so it's easy to hop on a plane anywhere in case things go south.
posted by FJT at 7:31 PM on June 12 [

If I'm Edward Snowden, I don't want anything to do with public air travel at this point. HK seems like a real bungle from my perspective for tons of reasons noted by more intelligent people than myself.

I figure if there's a smear campaign (let's face it, there will be. Enemy of the state/unpatriotic asshole, etc. etc.) he's not doing himself any favors here. It only lends ammo to the inevitable charges of his being a Chinese implant.

Fuck it. It could be true for all I care. If this gets people off their 24/7 open-mouthed news watching long enough to debate an issue that matters, I'll take whatever I can get. I'm just sad to see him digging his own grave this way. I don't think being a martyr is going to help him. Leaking this second set of documents doesn't prove anything we don't already suspect and it burns more bridges. He's running low on bridges.

Anybody know where he could find any kind of legit refuge? Who would want to pull the tail of this particular lion?
posted by Ephelump Jockey at 4:39 PM on June 12, 2013


Yeah, HK != China. "One country, two systems", as it were. But of course, HK isn't "not China", either.

I wonder if Snowden hasn't put himself in a complicated three-way triangle deliberately, because an extradition from HK would play off of HK/China relations; an extradition forced through China would complicate US/HK relations, etc.
posted by suedehead at 4:40 PM on June 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


This isn't intended as a revelation, so much as an additional embarrassment to the US and a prop to China. Expect the next few days discussion to be about how the US is untrustable, meddles with foreign computers, etc. etc.

This is an opportunity for China to make it a public issue and make hay with it.
posted by zippy at 4:40 PM on June 12, 2013


Determing the degree to which that is true isn't made any easier by the leak being filtered through Glenn Greenwald.

You know, you can look at the documents yourself. It's pretty clear that the NSA is a) not supposed to indiscriminately collect data on Americans not suspected of crimes but b) does, Glenzilla notwithstanding.
posted by downing street memo at 4:40 PM on June 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Still not seeing any criminal activity. This dude is an American who is obviously intent on embarrassing America.

The USA PATRIOT Act grants legal authority to do what the NSA is doing. In addition to that, there are FISA subpoenas. The HK/hacking thing is basically some dude airing out the dirty laundry...

Anyone know about this Snowden guy, the company he worked for and who owns that company? I don't, but this guy is no Bradley Manning...he's just exposing shit, and breaking the law doing it.
posted by Chuffy at 4:41 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


And now, it seems like it's in both HK and China's interests to delay any extradition processes, since the more Snowden stays in HK, the more information they learn about US government-backed espionage.
posted by suedehead at 4:42 PM on June 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Still not seeing any criminal activity. This dude is an American who is obviously intent on embarrassing America.

The USA PATRIOT Act grants legal authority to do what the NSA is doing. In addition to that, there are FISA subpoenas. The HK/hacking thing is basically some dude airing out the dirty laundry...


Awfully strong words for a guy who admits he has no idea what he's talking about.
posted by downing street memo at 4:43 PM on June 12, 2013 [25 favorites]


Honestly, the simpilistic solution would be to put a bullet in his head. Yet I'm reasonably certain that it'll never happen, which is a good ting.

But Snowden is rapidly losing whatever credibility he might have. Revealing the domestic dragnets because he believes they violate the rights of citizens. Ok, one can see that argument, even is they don't agree with it.

Revealing what the NSA is doing its job and giving details about how long the its been spying on China? That's a whole different story.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:45 PM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


This dude is an American who is obviously intent on embarrassing America.

That monster!
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:46 PM on June 12, 2013 [19 favorites]


"All you need to know about so-called oversight is that the NSA was already in violation of the Patriot Act by the time it was signed into law."
posted by wotsac at 4:46 PM on June 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


I am honestly on the fence about whether he is really brave or if he's really naive or some horrible combination of both. That the governments spy apparatus is up to all kinds of things isn't a surprise at all given the public disclosures and acknowledged behaviors during congressional hearings/etc leading up to Edward Snowden.

I can believe he had the access, and the motive, and the wherewithal to extract data, it's not really that difficult if you are intimate with the systems.

The consequences are so damn daunting. On a practical note there are very few places in the world where he could have achieved any measure of freedom post disclosure and left some options open at all. A place where there are western and eastern influences at play concurrently at least gives you the opportunity to exploit some parts of opposing government chaos to your advantage. The problem with what chaos is I think it could flip on you pretty quickly.

I haven't really thought about it, I'm guessing he put quite a bit of thought in to it, but just how would you better engineer a disclosure of this nature where your identity is likely to be exposed and you can't temper the narrative at all by staying hidden. The guy doesn't seem to be be absent his mental faculties and ability, so there was likely some pretty in depth calculations going on once he made the decision to go this route.
posted by iamabot at 4:47 PM on June 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


Are comments like this made to suppress conversation?

did you find yourself struggling to type words on your keyboard after reading my statement?

no, what we have here is a guy who wants attention by playing the hero - he could have done the same thing by leaking the documents to the guardian and insisting on anonymity

if you like, he's confirmed things to a wider public that the more attentive of us already suspected or knew - whether that's worth a lifetime of prison or exile is debatable, but at least his narcissism has been fed

i suspect there are people out there who have access to real secrets, things that haven't been guessed - it would be good if they were spilled somehow, without the spiller making a big show out of it

of course, china may be paying snowden to do all of this ...
posted by pyramid termite at 4:47 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Chuffy: "Anyone know about this Snowden guy, the company he worked for and who owns that company?"

If you are not familiar with Booz Allen Hamilton, I strongly suggest you educate yourself with more of the issues surrounding the intelligence community, government contractors, and the relationship between those sorts of parties. Really. I haven't done a whole lot of work in the government related sphere, but Booz has been inserted somewhere in my funding stream every time I have.
posted by straw at 4:48 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


It only lends ammo to the inevitable charges of his being a Chinese implant.

I've heard that a bit and really don't get it. A Chinese agent would want to stay in their job at the defense contractor and learn more instead of publishing for the world.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:48 PM on June 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Are comments like this made to suppress conversation?

did you find yourself struggling to type words on your keyboard after reading my statement?


That isn't what the poster responding to you meant and you know it.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:48 PM on June 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


Awfully strong words for a guy who admits he has no idea what he's talking about.

Awfully strong words? I am aware of Snowden from what I've heard on the radio. I've heard that the company he works for is owned by the Carlysle Group. I don't have facts to back that up, so I am asking if anybody knows this guy's story. Since I don't know what I'm talking about, maybe you can enlighten me.

What was illegal/criminal so far? I'm not talking about opinions about the PATRIOT Act or the NSA, but about the facts.

We knew Bush did this without FISA, without warrants. Why is this a story now?

Step up, Downing Street Memo...
posted by Chuffy at 4:49 PM on June 12, 2013


If I'm Edward Snowden, I don't want anything to do with public air travel at this point.

Where can he go? Hiding in plain sight is sometimes better. OBL chose to hide in a compound while Whitey Bulger 'hid' in Santa Monica. Who's alive today?
posted by FJT at 4:49 PM on June 12, 2013


It only lends ammo to the inevitable charges of his being a Chinese implant.

I've heard speculation that he's a front/public face to larger group, intent on revealing all sorts of stuff. Kind of a stretch in my opinion, but here we are.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:50 PM on June 12, 2013


I don't, but this guy is no Bradley Manning...he's just exposing shit, and breaking the law doing it

I'm not clear on how that description does not apply to Manning.
posted by Hoopo at 4:50 PM on June 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


Still not seeing any criminal activity.

Please. You can easily make the case that he's in violation of the Espionage Act, or the National Information Infrastructure Protection Act and particularly on both because Booz Allen did defense work, and Snowden likely signed documents to adhere to DOD requirements.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:52 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm not clear on how that description does not apply to Manning.

Manning revealed that war crimes were committed. I don't see the crime here - so it's more like exposing secrets. I'll check back later, but the whole thing smells pretty political - almost like a plant.
posted by Chuffy at 4:53 PM on June 12, 2013


no, what we have here is a guy who wants attention

Oh, no! *voluntarily contributes personal opinion about the matter to an internet forum*

if you like, he's confirmed things to a wider public that the more attentive of us already suspected or knew

You did not know the things Snowden leaked (unless of course you worked on the PRISM project or are a senior NSA staffer, a member of the President's national security council, or the president himself). Suspicions don't equal proof. This idea that "news isn't valuable if it merely confirms my suspicions" is a strange one to say the least.
posted by downing street memo at 4:53 PM on June 12, 2013 [32 favorites]


has this guy come up with one revelation that's surprised any of us?

No, but it is beneficial to have this all more concrete and in the open, and not just a general understanding among people who study it that "well, of course somebody's doing something like this". You can't really pressure your officials to curtail a program that they have no positive evidence exists, for example. Or, without high-profile disclosures like this, it's hard to get companies to adopt architectures that make untargeted dragnet surveillance (let alone targeted espionage) harder.

CPB: I think Chuffy is saying he's not seeing any evidence of illegal activity on the NSA's part. Which may well be true, but that's a problem with the law, not an exoneration of the NSA.
posted by hattifattener at 4:54 PM on June 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


Please, this story is worth discussing in itself. Let's not let it all be about one confused guy's opinion.
posted by George_Spiggott at 4:54 PM on June 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


no, what we have here is a guy who wants attention by playing the hero - he could have done the same thing by leaking the documents to the guardian and insisting on anonymity

And you think they wouldn't try and expose him? That he could maintain his anonymity?

Frankly, who gives a fuck about this guy's personality?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 4:56 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Cool Papa Bell - I'm not seeing the criminal activity that Snowden is *exposing*...I'm fairly certain he's broken the law. Whistleblowers need to expose crimes to be protected. I'm not seeing the criminal activity.
posted by Chuffy at 4:56 PM on June 12, 2013


Chinese Web Users React to PRISM: The End of the Affair with Google and Apple?
posted by homunculus at 4:57 PM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've heard speculation that he's a front/public face to larger group, intent on revealing all sorts of stuff. Kind of a stretch in my opinion, but here we are.

I suspect that post-Wikileaks everybody is going to get that accusation.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:57 PM on June 12, 2013


Aspects of this have reminded me so much of Neal Stephenson's Reamde. Apparently I'm not the only one who thinks so.
posted by limeonaire at 4:58 PM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


That isn't what the poster responding to you meant and you know it.

I know, right? Straight to toolage. I guess it takes a narcissist to know one. Not like we haven't had this exact same conversation with Assange. Oh that's right, narcissism is a crime. It invalidates the discovery.
posted by phaedon at 4:58 PM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm not seeing the criminal activity.

For starters, DNI James Clapper almost certainly committed perjury in Congressional testimony on the NSA's data collection programs.
posted by downing street memo at 4:58 PM on June 12, 2013 [27 favorites]


If I'm Edward Snowden, I don't want anything to do with public air travel at this point. HK seems like a real bungle from my perspective for tons of reasons noted by more intelligent people than myself.

Anybody know what mechanisms might be in place to stop him if he were trying to board a flight to another country?

no, what we have here is a guy who wants attention by playing the hero - he could have done the same thing by leaking the documents to the guardian and insisting on anonymity

I actually think his outing of himself has given his disclosures a much greater impact than they would have had if he'd remained anonymous. So no, he couldn't have done "the same thing" by anonymously leaking them. He's given the story a face and now more people are paying attention. If the intent was to increase the impact of his leak, I think outing himself was utterly brilliant.
posted by Unified Theory at 4:58 PM on June 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


John Oliver said it best--Obama's executive branch didn't break any laws, it's just a little weird that they didn't have to.
posted by mullingitover at 5:00 PM on June 12, 2013 [27 favorites]


"I've heard that a bit and really don't get it. A Chinese agent would want to stay in their job at the defense contractor and learn more instead of publishing for the world."

Sowing discord? I mean it's not like this shit wasn't already happening. It's not like it won't continue to happen.

It's pretty brilliant, honestly. We've had little tremors of uproar here and there over the past few years that make it very clear there's division here at home. Now look. Here's a guy who's gone public. He's a dividing agent among hardline government supporters and progressives. I can see the logic in publicizing himself if he's a plant. But I'm engaging in some serious speculative thinking here. I should probably shut up but I can't resist theorizing. It's thrilling to see this go public.

And even if he publicized it out of narcissism or some heroic impulse, people that want change to happen can always rally under a face and a name. The occupiers didn't have a unifying element and I think that's part of why they failed. But here's Edward Snowden, walking banner. And FWIW this is why he won't be assassinated in some dark corner of the world. Expedient, sure. But it makes us look worse than we already do.

But again, just speculating.
posted by Ephelump Jockey at 5:00 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


If the intent was to increase the impact of his leak, think outing himself was utterly brilliant.

Also, it help prevent him being rendered by the CIA or whomever if people actually know who he is and will notice if he vanishes.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:00 PM on June 12, 2013 [9 favorites]


I think this was a massive PR blunder on Snowden's part. Its much easier now for his opponents to paint him as a traitor or disloyal.

I'd have to agree that he should have confined himself to blowing the whistle on domestic abuses. This is a massive step into foreign affairs and covert ops and if he has a case for doing it it is a very different kind of matter that can't be justified in the same way. At best he's going to lose some of his support for this.
posted by George_Spiggott at 5:01 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


This isn't Watergate, and this isn't Bradley Manning. Those incidents were actual crimes, so Snowden was just airing out the dirty laundry - if somebody can point to a crime being committed under the FISA rulings and USA PATRIOT Act, then they should speak up.

One thing the Bush Admin was able to accomplish, over the years, was privatizing key parts of the Congressional Military Industrial Complex. We got Blackwater/Xe and Halliburton. The TIA (Total Information Awareness) program of convicted felon John Pointdexter met with resistance when it was announced, was it just farmed out to companies working for the NSA? The NSA has 20,000 employees - but I'm sure that extends beyond their doors...so, instead of big government, we have big data - and corporations, led by idealogues, are feeding that data to the NSA. I wonder who else might be able to use the non-terrorist dirt they dig up?
posted by Chuffy at 5:02 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


no, what we have here is a guy who wants attention by playing the hero - he could have done the same thing by leaking the documents to the guardian and insisting on anonymity


It's markedly harder for someone to attack the character of a real person, especially if that person is measured in their return. I actually think coming forward was probably one of the best things he did, from a pure validation perspective. You can attack his education, his personal relationships, etc. In his chosen field of practice those things mean very little. From his perspective, and frankly from mine, there's not been a lot that is damning that has been revealed about him thus far. His background isn't that far off from mine and I don't consider myself a traitor or a security risk. At various points in my life you could have labeled me with everything related to his history, and you'd still not know one single thing about the measure of my character.
posted by iamabot at 5:03 PM on June 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


This isn't Watergate, and this isn't Bradley Manning. Those incidents were actual crimes, so Snowden was just airing out the dirty laundry - if somebody can point to a crime being committed under the FISA rulings and USA PATRIOT Act, then they should speak up.

Just because a sick government makes abhorrent practices legal, that doesn't make those practices ethical.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:05 PM on June 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


Just because a sick government makes abhorrent practices legal, that doesn't make those practices ethical.

I don't disagree. We are, after all, talking about changing something that is apparently legal.

John Oliver said it best--Obama's executive branch didn't break any laws, it's just a little weird that they didn't have to.

Well put.
posted by phaedon at 5:07 PM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Just because a sick government makes abhorrent practices legal, that doesn't make those practices ethical.

Agreed, but how are we going to benefit from this leak? This one's fishy, and I have my feet planted pretty firmly in both camps. Evidence matters more than opinion.
posted by Chuffy at 5:09 PM on June 12, 2013


Agreed, but how are we going to benefit from this leak?

I don't mean to handle your question obtusely, because it's an interesting one, but let's not forget what kicked off the Arab spring. True that Snowden may lose support over this particular "foreign policy" leak, which many people have pointed is under the scope of the NSA, but it doesn't make it any less of a game-changer. Especially if there are specifics to follow.
posted by phaedon at 5:11 PM on June 12, 2013


Breaking: NSA conducts espionage on foreign targets

The stated purpose of the NSA is to conduct espionage on foreign targets.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:11 PM on June 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


if somebody can point to a crime being committed under the FISA rulings and USA PATRIOT Act, then they should speak up.

Done and done.

he could have done the same thing by leaking the documents to the guardian and insisting on anonymity

I don't understand why this keeps popping up. By exposing himself as the source of the leak, everything about the source is on the table. Anonymity would encourage speculation about who the leak was - and with it, what their motives could be - not to mention be short-lived.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:12 PM on June 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


Just because a sick government makes abhorrent practices legal, that doesn't make those practices ethical.

So spying on foreign countries is abhorent?
posted by Ironmouth at 5:13 PM on June 12, 2013


So spying on foreign countries is abhorent?

Well, we don't like it when Chinese hackers do it to us.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:14 PM on June 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


This isn't Watergate, and this isn't Bradley Manning. Those incidents were actual crimes, so Snowden was just airing out the dirty laundry - if somebody can point to a crime being committed under the FISA rulings and USA PATRIOT Act, then they should speak up.

Freedom of Speech

Illegal Search and Seizure

"fundamental right to privacy and to data protection of EU citizens"
posted by triggerfinger at 5:14 PM on June 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


So spying on foreign countries is abhorent?

The civilian infrastructure? Yes, I think it is.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:14 PM on June 12, 2013 [9 favorites]


I don't mean to handle your question obtusely, because it's an interesting one, but let's not forget what kicked off the Arab spring. True that Snowden may lose support over this particular "foreign policy" leak, but it doesn't make it any less of a game-changer. Especially if there are specifics to follow.

Unfortunately, most Americans don't care. They're OK with it. One would hope that shining some light on it will lead to productive change/making this crap illegal again/restoring the 4th and 5th Amendments, but does anyone really think that's going to happen?
posted by Chuffy at 5:15 PM on June 12, 2013


Previous thread.
posted by iamabot at 5:16 PM on June 12, 2013


You know how we talk about people viewing politics as a team sport? What's really unnerving is the number of people who completely uncritically have chosen The US Government as their team, and behave like football hooligans.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:20 PM on June 12, 2013 [26 favorites]


So spying on foreign countries is abhorent?

Well, we don't like it when Chinese hackers do it to us.


So I'm sure everyone so upset here just jumped in in threads about Chinese espionage and in fury declared it to be wrong and they were never going to buy Chinese goods again?

Reminds me of my old GOP staffer roommate. He was furious the Chinese had stolen the W88 warhead plans. I asked him "if the Chinese had a superweapon would you want US agents to steal it?"

"But. . .that's different" he insisted. Yeah we spy. I have zero problem with that. As if other countries don't do it all the time and have done it from day one.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:20 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well if you can't convince them, confuse them.
posted by iamabot at 5:21 PM on June 12, 2013


under an amazing cloud of delusion that I would KILL for a pill version of..

Couldn't help hearing, in my mind's ear, "cloud of delusion" sung to the tune of Ball of Confusion.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:24 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


You know how we talk about people viewing politics as a team sport? What's really unnerving is the number of people who completely uncritically have chosen The US Government as their team, and behave like football hooligans.

People disagree with positions you take. This fact does not make them "uncritical." Please focus on their arguments, instead. What arguments do you disagree with specifically and why?
posted by Ironmouth at 5:24 PM on June 12, 2013


So spying on foreign countries is abhorrent?

I meant more the domestic surveillance, which obviously has some constitutional issues and conflicts with things like the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:24 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


rollbiz: "Oh man, this is getting fun..."

Not so much. There are highly placed Chinese military officers that have stated a desire to go hot on the U.S. for a long while. It's easy to "overlook" cyberwarfare because of the uncertainties involved. That is until someone hands you definitive proof.

This could get bad, and I most certainly hope it doesn't.
posted by Samizdata at 5:25 PM on June 12, 2013


So I'm sure everyone so upset here just jumped in in threads about Chinese espionage and in fury declared it to be wrong and they were never going to buy Chinese goods again?

I couldn't tell you, but I do know the US Government and large US corps have complained very loudly about it. If we are just gonna shrug and say "shit happens" on state sponsored hacking, it kinda makes me worried about Big Government Data collection on all of our private info.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:25 PM on June 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


If anything, I feel like this is beginning to tear up the edges of the screen that's been hiding a vicious new cold war from the general public.

I wonder if the model to look at would be the USSR bringing up the civil rights issues as "propaganda" in the 1950's/1960's and the resulting changes in the late 1960's?

If the history is rhyming with such, what will be the endpoint parallel?

You guys, you'd heard of the NSA before all this, right?

One can't hear about what doesn't exist - No Such Agency.
posted by rough ashlar at 5:26 PM on June 12, 2013


it kinda makes me worried about Big Government Data collection on all of our private info.

VS Big Corporation Data collection? Would it be OK if Big Corp did the collection and just sell access to Big Government?

How about the taxman?
posted by rough ashlar at 5:29 PM on June 12, 2013


under an amazing cloud of delusion

I keep all of my data in the Amazing Cloud of Delusion!
posted by hattifattener at 5:29 PM on June 12, 2013 [8 favorites]


Am I the only one who thought it would be awesome if Snowden had holed up in Chungking Mansions? I mean it is literally Blade Runner in there. Got to be few better places in the city proper to hide out.
posted by pravit at 5:30 PM on June 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


Got to be few better places in the city proper to hide out.

A white guy in Chungking Mansions would stick out like a blinking neon sign. He would be better off in Mid-Levels, where he would just blend in with the horde of late 20s expats.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:34 PM on June 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


We are, after all, talking about changing something that is apparently legal.

It's legal in the same sense that stealing a cookie is allowed as long as you carefully didn't ask mom first and she doesn't find out.

It's "legal" because they used secrecy to protect a false "interpretation" of the law from being laughed out of town by the courts and the people. (The real courts, not the FISA rubber-stamp BS)

The only way to conclude no conflict between the fourth amendment and what the NSA actually does is to not apply the 4th to what the NSA actually does, but apply it instead to precedents that were set under radically different situations with radically different technological capability, and build up a case for oranges using apples. (Which is what they did)

The idea that this is constitutional (let alone legal) is simply a failure of the legal system.
posted by anonymisc at 5:37 PM on June 12, 2013 [13 favorites]


The idea that this is constitutional (let alone legal) is simply a failure of the legal system.

Name me a single decision that supports that claim. Seriously, the Fourth Amendment is a few words. Thousands of decisions interpret it. But because you disagree, all of those decisions are wrong? Name a single case that supports your proposition.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:40 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


If anything, I feel like this is beginning to tear up the edges of the screen that's been hiding a vicious new cold war from the general public.

There's been lots of scare-mongering stories lately in the Australian media about 'cyberwarefare' between Australia, China, and America. I'm pretty skeptical about them, but people are talking about them.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 5:41 PM on June 12, 2013


So spying on foreign countries is abhorent?
It's not the "foreign countries" that's so abhorrent, as state vs. state warfare is at least on a level playing field. It's the hacking of foreign civilian infrastructure that will take many people aback. Most people plan their computer security to withstand the attacks of common hackers, not the largest military on Earth.

This has an impact on law-abiding, non-terrorist, unsurveiled US civilians as well, even if those US civilians don't personally find the behavior abhorrent. If foreign civilians find the behavior abhorrent they will be less likely to use the computer services of US civilians, negatively affecting US business on the global market. If the rest of the world doesn't want anything to do with the US because of our abhorrent governmental spying practices, it's going to hurt the US's future economic prospects. In particular it could mean an end to Apple and Google expansion in the Chinese market. Foreign expansion is definitely where Apple was looking to grow, and the US in general had a lot gain from selling its wares across the globe. But if using an iPhone means that the government sees all your iMessages and me.com emails, it's likely going to mean that they'll use some innocuous reason to deny your entry at the border.

The US government treats everyone with the least possible rights they can under law, and if there's any ambiguity you can be certain that it's going to be even fewer rights, and the laws have been recently expanded to dramatically lessen the rights of everyone; who would want to do business with us?
posted by Llama-Lime at 5:43 PM on June 12, 2013 [10 favorites]


Congressman Wants Just One Reporter Prosecuted For NSA Leaks: ‘I’m Talking About Greenwald’
posted by homunculus at 5:43 PM on June 12, 2013


Previous thread.

There are four threads!
posted by homunculus at 5:48 PM on June 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


It's OK, I'm sure they can monitor them all.
posted by pompomtom at 5:49 PM on June 12, 2013 [18 favorites]


It's the hacking of foreign civilian infrastructure that will take many people aback. Most people plan their computer security to withstand the attacks of common hackers, not the largest military on Earth.

By far, the largest military on Earth belongs to the People's Republic of China.

Furthermore, if you believe that the Chinese military isn't hacking US corporations and individuals, you are kidding yourself.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:49 PM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


There are four threads!

You win!
posted by iamabot at 5:51 PM on June 12, 2013


I am honestly on the fence about whether he is really brave or if he's really naive or some horrible combination of both.

I'm definitely going with both.

but really - has this guy come up with one revelation that's surprised any of us?

Well he's reminded me of something that I found out in person many years back, which is that one of the reasons the NSA stays so quiet is that they ruin their mystique the minute they let anyone have a good look.

How did this guy get hold of these documents again? Who vetted him?
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 5:51 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


The idea that this is constitutional (let alone legal) is simply a failure of the legal system.

Up until Mr. Snowden's statements no one "had standing" to have the legal system become invoked. Now one can get a box of popcorn and watch how the legal system can now react with standing issue seeimingly addressed.

Standing - roadblock or a way to prevent the Courts becoming overloaded all depends on what you think about the level of corruption of the legal system and how 2 faced you might think lawyers are.
posted by rough ashlar at 5:51 PM on June 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


For starters, DNI James Clapper almost certainly committed perjury in Congressional testimony on the NSA's data collection programs.

What's even more astounding for me is that the Congressman in question there knew the answer before asking it, gave advance notice to this guy that he'd be asking the question, and yet, we still have this clear lie. Utterly jawdropping.
posted by the cydonian at 5:53 PM on June 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Well he's reminded me of something that I found out in person many years back, which is that one of the reasons the NSA stays so quiet is that they ruin their mystique the minute they let anyone have a good look.

Oooh, do tell.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:54 PM on June 12, 2013


Name me a single decision that supports that claim

In United_States_v._Jones, it was argued that because cops tailing a car was not a search (and thus did not need a warrant), then it was similarly not a search to place GPS bugs and record someone's movements for months.
A court (a real court) called bullshit. The new technology was (obviously) far more powerful and intrusive than the precedent activity that was being used to form the interpretation that bugging people was not a search.

Similarly, from what little we know of the claims that all NSA activity is legal (haha), it appears to be baselessly using precedent rulings about situations that are (as above) obviously nothing like what the new technology enables, even though they can be interpreted as the same action on a much vaster scale, and secrecy has been used to protect those interpretations from being called bullshit by real courts.
posted by anonymisc at 5:55 PM on June 12, 2013 [9 favorites]


this clear lie. Utterly jawdropping.

And exactly what happens when you lie to Congress? Do the liars get jail time? Lose their jobs?

If there are laws, rules and regulations that aren't followed - is that going to encourage others to follow the laws/rules/regs when it is their turn?
posted by rough ashlar at 5:57 PM on June 12, 2013


I'm aware they did not address whether it was an unreasonable search
posted by anonymisc at 5:57 PM on June 12, 2013


Explain to me how there is any way on earth this guy can hang out in a Chinese province thumbing his nose at the US intelligence community and he isn't a long-standing Chinese double agent?
posted by INFOHAZARD at 5:57 PM on June 12, 2013


By far, the largest military on Earth belongs to the People's Republic of China.
I'm not sure in what sense you intend that to be true, but the US military is largest in the way that counts.
Furthermore, if you believe that the Chinese military isn't hacking US corporations and individuals, you are kidding yourself.
That's irrelevant to my comment, the intended point of which was that the US's spying behavior will negatively affect the US's trade with the entire globe. Furthermore, I'm not trying to score points in some lame game of who has the worse government, US or China, so it's somewhat mystifying that you would accuse me of holding a preposterous notion.
posted by Llama-Lime at 5:57 PM on June 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


If foreign civilians find the behavior abhorrent they will be less likely to use the computer services of US civilians, negatively affecting US business on the global market.

This was already happening prior to this leak, BTW. Companies with any interest in security were and are declining to use US based or owned cloud computing providers because of the implications of the USA PATRIOT Act allowing the US Government to grab any data they want at will, without a warrant or notification.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:58 PM on June 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


Explain to me how there is any way on earth this guy can hang out in a Chinese province thumbing his nose at the US intelligence community and he isn't a long-standing Chinese double agent?

He's 29 years old and hasn't had enough of a chance to be a long-standing Chinese double agent?

Or how about the snoopers at NSA wasn't able to figure that out with all of their data mining?
posted by rough ashlar at 6:00 PM on June 12, 2013


Op-ed by old friend of Snowden: He may actually be a ninja:
Ed is interesting and brilliant; accomplished in martial arts and an active participant in related activities. I know he used to participate every year in Chinese New Year parades with his martial arts organization. He once gave me a one-on-one martial arts lesson, and I was surprised at his abilities — and very amused that he seemed unable to go very easy on a newbie.
___
Unfortunately, most Americans don't care. They're OK with it. -- Chuffy

Gallup poll 53% of Americans disapprove of PRISM and universal call log acquisition.
Last I checked 53% of Americans is a majority.
The US spying on China is kind of expected and not a legal issue. -- mulligan
Really, you don't think that Hong Kong SAR, which is where his extradition hearing would take place doesn't have laws against foreign governments hacking and collecting information about it's citizens?

I'm amazed by the number of people discussing this that seem to be unaware of the fact that other countries/regions also have laws and kind of prefer they to be followed, and kind of actually matter when you're in them.

Determing the degree to which that is true isn't made any easier by the leak being filtered through Glenn Greenwald. -- Artw
If you have any evidence of him lying, feel free to share. The fact that you're omitting that there were other guardian reporters, as well as Washington Post reporters – who published their own articles, and that government admitted the stuff was real and the program existed (although Clapper said PRISM had a smaller scope then indicated in the slides, they also lied under oath recently so whatever. )
What was illegal/criminal so far? I'm not talking about opinions about the PATRIOT Act or the NSA, but about the facts.

We knew Bush did this without FISA, without warrants. Why is this a story now?
-- Chuffy
Ugh, do some more research or something. There's a massive prior thread you can read if you just want to ask basic questions. The basic difference is between suspecting something and it being officially confirmed. Nothing in 2005 had anything to do with PRISM.
Manning revealed that war crimes were committed. I don't see the crime here - so it's more like exposing secrets. I'll check back later, but the whole thing smells pretty political - almost like a plant. … Cool Papa Bell - I'm not seeing the criminal activity that Snowden is *exposing*...I'm fairly certain he's broken the law. Whistleblowers need to expose crimes to be protected. I'm not seeing the criminal activity.
European Union data protection laws. It's likely they were violated, and these leaks could lead to people in the EU getting more protection. Like I said. Other places also have their own laws, and breaking them is 'criminal activity' as far as the people who live there are concerned.
From his perspective, and frankly from mine, there's not been a lot that is damning that has been revealed about him thus far. His background isn't that far off from mine and I don't consider myself a traitor or a security risk.
Plus, the worse they make him look, the worse they make themselves look, since they're the ones who gave this guy access to all this data.
posted by delmoi at 6:03 PM on June 12, 2013 [13 favorites]


Or how about the snoopers at NSA wasn't able to figure that out with all of their data mining?

This is the same crack group that couldn't figure out one of their own dudes stole a bunch of their stuff and went to China over a month ago until he showed up in the newspaper, right? Surveillance state, surveil thyself!
posted by gerryblog at 6:03 PM on June 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


In United_States_v._Jones, it was argued that because cops tailing a car was not a search (and thus did not need a warrant), then it was similarly not a search to place GPS bugs and record someone's movements.
A court (a real court) called bullshit. The new technology was (obviously) far more powerful and intrusive than the precedent activity that was being used to form the interpretation that bugging people was not a search.


The police never need a warrant to search a car. That's been the law since 1928.

They need a warrant to attach a GPS to a car. Whereas, in 1979, the Court held that there is zero privacy interest in what numbers one dials on a telephone. See Smith v. Maryland

A GPS is wholly unrelated to a telephone call record, which for 34 years has not been protected by the 4th Amendment. There has never, ever been a Supreme Court decision ruling that the government getting the numbers dialed is a search under the Fourth Amendment. Ever.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:04 PM on June 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Are Hong Kongers Losing Patience With Beijing? Edward Snowden's decision to flee to the territory puts a spotlight on its growing discomfort with mainland Chinese meddling.


That's a really interesting article. At first I just assumed he'd worked out some kind of deal with the Chinese beforehand. But given the fact that he's been offered amnesty free and clear in Russia, and the fact that if China wanted him he'd still be better off in China proper it's all quite strange.


If all he wanted to do was escape, Russia would be the obvious choice, unless he thinks he'd get assassinated there.

Maybe he really does think he can get some kind of fair trial in HK, maybe he doesn't even expect to win, he just wants to force the US government to argue it's case in a court it doesn't control. In which case he's almost actively messing with China, HK and the US all at once, although obviously we don't know what's going on behind the scenes.

It could be something that's being orchestrated by the Chinese government just to troll the US government. (I kind of doubt it, though)
posted by delmoi at 6:04 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Explain to me how there is any way on earth this guy can hang out in a Chinese province thumbing his nose at the US intelligence community and he isn't a long-standing Chinese double agent?

I don't know if you understand the definition of/value of a double agent from an intelligence gathering perspective.
posted by iamabot at 6:05 PM on June 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


This is the same crack group that couldn't figure out one of their own dudes stole a bunch of their stuff and went to China over a month ago until he showed up in the newspaper, right? Surveillance state, surveil thyself!
They were actually on to him as soon as he left Hawaii.
posted by delmoi at 6:06 PM on June 12, 2013


delmoi is definitely a Chinese double agent. Only a ChiCom wouldn't know I was being hilarious.
posted by gerryblog at 6:07 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]



I'm amazed by the number of people discussing this that seem to be unaware of the fact that other countries/regions also have laws and kind of prefer they to be followed, and kind of actually matter when you're in them.


Extradition only requires that the offense be an offense in both countries. I'm amazed by the number of people in this thread that don't realize that.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:08 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


rough ashlar: "Explain to me how there is any way on earth this guy can hang out in a Chinese province thumbing his nose at the US intelligence community and he isn't a long-standing Chinese double agent?

He's 29 years old and hasn't had enough of a chance to be a long-standing Chinese double agent?

Or how about the snoopers at NSA wasn't able to figure that out with all of their data mining?
"

That second statement, sir, is most damning and most cogent. If someone like the NSA with all the magical data they demand access to cannot determine the odds of someone turning on them, what are the odds they will catch covert terrorists?
posted by Samizdata at 6:08 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


something that I found out in person many years back
Oooh, do tell.


Nothing too exciting. I was working at [BIG NETWORKING COMPANY] during the dawn of the internet and they sent some folks around to talk security protocols with us. I figured it was a prelude to an evaluation of our equipment for their own use, but when they arrived it turned out they wanted a tutorial on the protocols themselves. They were competent and asked good questions but they were not the mythical security gods that hacker lore had taught me to expect.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 6:10 PM on June 12, 2013


He's a kid that has attached himself to a cause that he thinks is bigger than himself. It happens especially when you don't have kids to worry about.

He broke the law to expose something he felt like the US public needed to become aware of, yeah most people on Metafilter are aware the the US has probably been doing this sort of stuff for ages but not everyone has and by exposing it he advances a public policy debate over privacy and spying on US citizens (and targeting foreign civilian infrastructure).

Sometimes it's not an inherently bad thing to violate a law that you don't believe in in order to advance a greater good. People have been doing it since the founding of this nation and will probably continue to do it.
posted by vuron at 6:11 PM on June 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


There has never, ever been a Supreme Court decision ruling that the government getting the numbers dialed is a search under the Fourth Amendment. Ever.

Just like there initially wasn't any rulings about attaching something to a car being a search, because it initially wasn't a search, and then one day technology made it possible for that activity to be a search.
posted by anonymisc at 6:12 PM on June 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


Really, you don't think that Hong Kong SAR, which is where his extradition hearing would take place doesn't have laws against foreign governments hacking and collecting information about it's citizens?

Please explain, under the U.S.-Hong Kong treaty, how this fact is relevant to extradition? Its not. The crime the party to be extradited for must merely be an offense in both countries.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:12 PM on June 12, 2013


Extradition only requires that the offense be an offense in both countries. I'm amazed by the number of people in this thread that don't realize that.
Why would it be a crime to leak US government secrets in Hong Kong? It's not illegal to leak Chinese government secrets while in the US.

Do you actually think the US would extradite someone who came to the US from Hong Kong and told everyone that China was spying on us? Why do you think China or the HK government would feel differently?

Hong Kong's extradition law makes exception political offenses, so they can certainly deny extradition on legal grounds if they feel like it.
posted by delmoi at 6:13 PM on June 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Ironmouth, I think you are bristling because I described this as a failure of the legal system. Perhaps you would be less bothered if I described it as the legal system being victim of an exploit.
posted by anonymisc at 6:14 PM on June 12, 2013


There has never, ever been a Supreme Court decision ruling that the government getting the numbers dialed is a search under the Fourth Amendment. Ever.

Just like there initially wasn't any rulings about attaching something to a car being a search, because it initially wasn't a search, and then one day technology made it possible for that activity to be a search.


Except there was a ruling on this technology in 1979. This is long established law. There is literally no doubt of its constitutionality.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:15 PM on June 12, 2013


Except there was a ruling on this technology in 1979.

No there wasn't. This technology did not exist in 1979. In my analogy, the technology that existed in 1979 and was ruled on, takes the same role as the police being able to follow a car and that activity being legal - an activity that is superficially identical to a later enhanced activity, but when technologically multiplied, becomes a different beast completely.
posted by anonymisc at 6:18 PM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


If someone like the NSA with all the magical data they demand access to cannot determine the odds of someone turning on them, what are the odds they will catch covert terrorists?

It's unlikely that they're trying to run some special sniffer program that will predict this person or that will be a terrorist. This isn't Minority Report.

The reason for keeping all this stuff is that when you *do* get a sniff of something bad you have an entire history at your fingertips. If Bob Jones does something that sets off an alarm bell at the security gate at the airport you can have an entire dossier on him before he gets on the plane.

In my book collecting and keeping all this data is too high a price to pay, but if my job was to guarantee the safety of the American public I would want every little scrap of data I could get my hands on. Hopefully wiser and saner heads would stop me.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 6:20 PM on June 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


I can't imagine a possible sense of the word "breaking" in which the headline makes sense. the whole point of FISA is to target non-us persons.
posted by jpe at 6:21 PM on June 12, 2013


Ironmouth, I think you are bristling because I described this as a failure of the legal system. Perhaps you would be less bothered if I described it as the legal system being victim of an exploit.

The only reason you describe long established law as a failure is because you disagree with it. Seriously, since when were you aware of this alleged failure, which has apparently gone uncorrected for 34 years? Literally this has been the law of the land for three and a half decades, yet you have found this failure in the last week. Court after court has ruled it correct, yet because you personally wish since last week that telephone billing information should be protected, the law is in error? No.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:22 PM on June 12, 2013


Ah, it appears that you are misreading my position. Well, so be it.
posted by anonymisc at 6:23 PM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


We had this discussion in the other thread and we don't need to hear it again.
posted by delmoi at 6:23 PM on June 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


if somebody can point to a crime being committed under the FISA rulings and USA PATRIOT Act, then they should speak up.

Here's one - lying to the US Congress.
posted by Jimbob at 6:24 PM on June 12, 2013


Sometimes it's not an inherently bad thing to violate a law that you don't believe in in order to advance a greater good.

It's inherently impossible not to break the law in the U.S., given the size and complexity of the code and the corruption of those charged to defend it. At this point, "law" is synonymous with "power," and if the powerful don't like you, you will be found to be breaking some law and sent through the courts if you're lucky.
posted by swift at 6:24 PM on June 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


There is literally no doubt of its constitutionality.

In fact the FISA court appears to have found some of the government's uses of this program unconstitutional.
posted by one_bean at 6:24 PM on June 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


Also, it help prevent him being rendered by the CIA or whomever if people actually know who he is and will notice if he vanishes.

This is exactly what I was thinking. There might be a whole world of suck ahead for Snowden, but at least now that the world's spotlight is on him it will look mighty suspicious if he disappears or gets into a conveniently-timed car wreck.
posted by threeants at 6:26 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


who is obviously intent on embarrassing America...

This doesn't embarrass the American public, who didn't even know this was happening.
This doesn't embarrass the security apparatus who stand by their actions.

What this does is draw attention to a possible difference in values between the public and the government and security services, and maybe lead to a debate about those values.

America isn't an individual person who can experience personal embarrassment, it's 300 million different people with very different perspectives on this. Some people might find this embarrassing. If you find this embarrassing that's understandable. You have the right to to be embarrassed by these exposures about your nation, and to be angry with Snowden, but you don't then have the right to claim that you and your feelings are 'America'. There are many American's who are not angry with Snowden, they are angry with their government, or with the security services, and google and verizon etc.
posted by compound eye at 6:28 PM on June 12, 2013 [27 favorites]


There is literally no doubt of its constitutionality.

In fact the FISA court appears to have found some of the government's uses of this program unconstitutional.


And of course legal experts like those at the ACLU seem to have some doubt. This program is so massive in scope that it could be considered a very different beast from what has previously been looked at. Will be interesting to see which opinion on this practice proves correct down the line.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:28 PM on June 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Also, it would certainly be entertaining to see US lawyers try to argue that Hong Kong law protects the secrets of foreign, non-allied governments (like the US's) in Hong Kong, before a Hong Kong Judge - in the US the government has pretty much gotten whatever it wants from judges, and can just claim a national security exception and shut down the whole case.

It's pretty unlikely any of that is going to work in Hong Kong, unless the Chinese actually want to turn him over and put pressure on the judges.
posted by delmoi at 6:31 PM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


[Folks, maybe be mindful that this thread is for everyone and take side arguments to MeMail please?]
posted by jessamyn at 6:34 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm much too lazy to disentangle the thing but I'm quite confident that Ironmouth and anonymisc are talking at cross purposes.
posted by George_Spiggott at 6:34 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, it would certainly be entertaining to see US lawyers try to argue that Hong Kong law protects the secrets of foreign, non-allied governments (like the US's) in Hong Kong,

I think this has come up before, but the Kim Dotcom saga is a US extradition attempt currently descending into comedy. Different laws, different allegations, wealthy defendant with full legal team, so it's not really analogous to anything that might happen here, but yeah, it is amusing.
posted by anonymisc at 6:36 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


The police never need a warrant to search a car. That's been the law since 1928.

Citation please.
posted by rough ashlar at 6:38 PM on June 12, 2013


This is long established law. There is literally no doubt of its constitutionality.

Owning slaves used to be "long established law" and there was "no doubt of its constitutionality".

Things can change.
posted by rough ashlar at 6:40 PM on June 12, 2013 [9 favorites]


The police never need a warrant to search a car. That's been the law since 1928.

Citation please


I apologize, I had the year wrong. For 88 years, since 1925 this has been the law. Carroll v. United States, 267 U.S. 132 (1925),
posted by Ironmouth at 6:43 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


WaPo: Everything We Know About PRISM To Date

BuzzFeed: Edward Snowden's Online Past Revealed?
posted by prize bull octorok at 6:51 PM on June 12, 2013


The police never need a warrant to search a car.

What about searching all cars in America, constantly, indefinitely, and without regard for suspicion or probably cause?
posted by dirigibleman at 6:52 PM on June 12, 2013 [12 favorites]


I apologize, I had the year wrong. For 88 years, since 1925 this has been the law. Carroll v. United States, 267 U.S. 132 (1925),

The key part is the officer must have probable cause for believing that the vehicle is carrying contraband/illegal merchandise. This is why the police like escalating with "are you drinking" or "I smell drugs" so that thye can then avoid the next part:

The Court also stated "where securing a warrant is reasonable practicable, it must be used"

Now I'm not sure how one goes from citing a case with "where securing a warrant is reasonable practicable, it must be used" one gets "The police never need a warrant to search a car."
posted by rough ashlar at 6:52 PM on June 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


I liked this part:

[i]t would be intolerable and unreasonable if a prohibition agent were authorized to stop every automobile on the chance of finding liquor, and thus subject all persons lawfully using the highways to the inconvenience and indignity of such a search... . [T]hose lawfully within the country, entitled to use the public highways, have a right to free passage without interruption or search unless there is known to a competent official, authorized to search, probable cause for believing that their vehicles are carrying contraband or illegal merchandise.[4]


I wish my cell phone information was similarly protected.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:55 PM on June 12, 2013 [14 favorites]


Well, it's not just anonymisc who thinks the law in this area (the protection of an individual's data when shared with a third party) needs updating. Justice Sotomayor, for example. Or big cloud data firms who want to be able to provide secure data services to skittish clients, for another.

From that other thread:
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 [LINK: warrants required], 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.”
We might see some reform sooner rather than later -- already Google is pleading, publicly, with the government to let it share details on its cooperation with the NSA and other authorities.
posted by notyou at 6:57 PM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I almost thought the net had found a topic which couldn't be obfuscated with daft car analogies.
posted by pompomtom at 6:58 PM on June 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


So, Hong Kong is China, but it isn't, and in fact doesn't want to be. The Hong Kong - China political situation is quite complex and carefully balanced. The US - China political situation, likewise, is quite complex and carefully balanced. Both the US and China have various political and economic influences in Hong Kong. Add to this that China is one of the few countries in the world with enough power to influence the US on an issue such as the fate of Snowden.

Hong Kong seemed like a surprising choice to me at first, but if we assume that Snowden actually wants to remain independent and not reliant on the goodwill of another major political power to protect him from repercussions for his whistleblowing - assume, eg., that he does not actually want to be disloyal to the US - then his choice of Hong Kong as refuge is really quite savvy. If he went to mainland China, or if he took the offer of asylum from Russia, or any other country, then the relevant foreign country would likely expect something in return. Namely, they would expect him to divulge details about US intelligence that, if he in fact does want to remain loyal to the US, he would be unwilling to divulge.
posted by eviemath at 6:58 PM on June 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


BuzzFeed: Edward Snowden's Online Past Revealed?

Heh:
Earlier, in a thread titled, “I’m a screwup,” he writes, “Join the army. Worked for me.” Two days later, in a discussion about emerging industries, he suggests “Counterterrorism” is an area that will expand within the next five years.
Also, we don't really need a discussion about car-search case law.
posted by delmoi at 6:59 PM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


How can the Administration be charged with unconstitutional searches if the 'law might change'?

Either it followed current law or it didn't.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:02 PM on June 12, 2013


I almost thought the net had found a topic which couldn't be obfuscated with daft car analogies.

Would it be better to point out the bad-law of the daft-car analogy is an example of law being forged around a National panic?

The National panic was booze - and to cut a path to supporting booze suppression the rights afforded by the warrant process were thusly harmed.

Same with the National panic of WWII got a man growing grain on his own land for his own use was a concern of interstate trade.

The National panic of terrorists should result in some more rights being cut down just to justify the 'get the terrorists' outcome.
posted by rough ashlar at 7:03 PM on June 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Also, we don't really need a discussion about car-search case law.

It's actually kind of interesting how much of this stuff like expanded car searches and wiretaps go back to prohibition.

If you ask law enforcement to fight a battle they can't win without becoming bigger and more invasive...they will get bigger and more invasive.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:05 PM on June 12, 2013


(Not that they can really win, even then)
posted by Drinky Die at 7:05 PM on June 12, 2013


It's possible for the administration to have broken the law or run afoul of the Constitution and that the law needs to be updated.

The one does not exclude the other.
posted by notyou at 7:08 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, it appears regardless what happens from this point forward, Snowden has gotten exactly what he wants.

There is now a (inter)national conversation about the role and scope of the NSA abilities and activities.

A democracy only works with an informed populace. It may be that the citizens decide they are comfortable living in a panoptican and decide to trust this (and future) administration(s). It may be that the citizens decide that we are comfortable with the (secret) checks and balances in place.

Regardless of the outcome of these conversations, Snowden's goal of America having these conversations is occurring. Even those that disagree with his revelations and wish to defend the measures that are being revealed play into his agenda.
posted by el io at 7:12 PM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ironmouth, suppose for a second that you're right, that the Supreme Court ruled correctly in Smith v. Maryland, and there is no reasonable expectation that the numbers you dial will remain private. What then is the harm in releasing a court order affirming that fact?

And doesn't the leak actually strengthen the constitutionality of the dragnet surveillance program? After all, expectations of privacy are now much less reasonable.
posted by compartment at 7:16 PM on June 12, 2013


I almost thought the net had found a topic which couldn't be obfuscated with daft car analogies.

The impossible search continues...
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 7:17 PM on June 12, 2013


IANAL, but Ironmouth's point seems to be that if X type of information has been ruled unprotected and able to be gathered without a warrant, then gathering any amount of that info in any circumstances for any (or no particular) purpose is automatically equally legal.

Whereas anonymisc seems to be saying (and I agree), that if it has been ruled constitutional to gather W amount of X type of information from Y amount of people using Z method, it does not necessarily follow that it's constitutional to have an ongoing global program of gathering up potentially unlimited amounts of X information about everybody on earth and then potentially doing all sorts of additional things to that information to create new kinds of information from it, or storing it indefinitely so that whole new methods of extracting additional information that haven't even been invented yet can be brought to bear.

The bad analogy that occurs to me is that if I discard a Pepsi (Blue) cup into a trash can, the cops can grab it and collect my DNA. But if someone woke up tomorrow and invented a way for the cops to push a button and spontaneously scoop up every piece of garbage in the US (or Hong Kong) every five minutes, extract the DNA from it, connect that to its owner's identity, put the results in a ginormous permanent database, and do god knows what sort of processing and analysis to it forever . . . . would anyone really be saying, "Oh, that's totally fine since it's freely discarded DNA, which has already been ruled unprotected"?
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:18 PM on June 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


What then is the harm in releasing a court order affirming that fact?

The "bad guys" will stop using their phones or whatever, once they realize they are being monitored?
posted by Golden Eternity at 7:19 PM on June 12, 2013


What then is the harm in releasing a court order affirming that fact?

The "bad guys" will stop using their phones or whatever, once they realize they are being monitored?


As I said in the other thread. People are guided by convenience. They are lazy. This cuts both ways.
posted by iamabot at 7:20 PM on June 12, 2013


In my book collecting and keeping all this data is too high a price to pay, but if my job was to guarantee the safety of the American public I would want every little scrap of data I could get my hands on.

That might be the case if you were narrowly focused on, say, dismantling an international conspiracy that could only be discovered through analysis of a huge amount of data. But the safety of Americans includes those rights recognised in the Fourth Amendment, and irrespective of whether the information-gathering is legal, there is no doubt that the mere collection of it increases the risk of private information being leaked. I don't know, but I also have no reason to doubt that, e.g., businesses' proprietary and financial information has been misused for private profit. The same goes for things like, e.g., stalkers looking up the addresses of people in whom they are interested. The fact that anyone collects this information is at least some risk to the public, and repeated exposures of US government controls have shown that it's incapable of preventing people from misusing it.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:29 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, it would certainly be entertaining to see US lawyers try to argue that Hong Kong law protects the secrets of foreign, non-allied governments


good thing that's not what US lawyers would have to show, then.
posted by jpe at 7:31 PM on June 12, 2013


I guess I don't know how transparent FISA would work. Would it include detailed information on who was being traced/tapped, or just "Warrent 8678-A, cellular data for suspect in upstate New York."? If the latter, then it would tell the presumptive spies/terrorists nothing useful.

Not being snarky, honestly. Can anyone could explain the risks of "releasing a court order" (online? in the paper? After a FOIA request?) in terms of actually alerting terrorists that they're being snooped on?
posted by emjaybee at 7:32 PM on June 12, 2013


Whereas, in 1979, the Court held that there is zero privacy interest in what numbers one dials on a telephone. See Smith v. Maryland

Ironmouth, the metadata attached to modern phones -- cell phones in particular -- extend well beyond anything in 1979. Specifically, metadata now allows the phone company to track the location of a person regardless of the numbers dialed. This is not something covered under Smith vs. Maryland, and such government tracking by other means has been recently challenged in court.

tl;dr - If the US government can legally track the who, where, and when everyone in the US is talking via the most commonly used communication device without a warrant, the term "general warrant" no longer has any meaning.
posted by ryoshu at 7:33 PM on June 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


Oh yay, A thread about leaking US government secrets in Hong Kong has been derailed into the constitutionality of the Verizon FISA order? And GPS car tracking for some reason?

Whether or not that order is constitutional has nothing to do with whether or not the US government broke Hong Kong law in terms of hacking into computer networks or tapping fiber optic cables which is what this thread is about. If you really want to hash it out why don't you go back to the old Verizon phone record specific thread?
good thing that's not what US lawyers would have to show, then.
They have to show that what Snowden did was illegal under both Hong Kong and US law, and doesn't fall under the political offense exception.

It seems unlikely that the US would extradite someone to Hong Kong if they came here and leaked Chinese classified material to the press. Why would you expect the reverse to be true?
posted by delmoi at 7:36 PM on June 12, 2013


Specifically, metadata now allows the phone company to track the location of a person regardless of the numbers dialed

I think the location data on mobile numbers is much less accurate than the location information that was gathered when they were all landlines.
posted by nightwood at 7:38 PM on June 12, 2013


I think the location data on mobile numbers is much less accurate than the location information that was gathered when they were all landlines.

Cell phones track location (meta)data even when you aren't making a call.
posted by ryoshu at 7:41 PM on June 12, 2013


I think the location data on mobile numbers is much less accurate than the location information that was gathered when they were all landlines.

And yet - homes don't move. MOBILE phones do, and can show one's movements out and about. Your movements even when you are not calling.
posted by rough ashlar at 7:43 PM on June 12, 2013


Cell phones track location (meta)data even when you aren't making a call.
They track which tower - but i haven't seen anyone say that that data is being gathered.
posted by nightwood at 7:44 PM on June 12, 2013


@ delmoi: they would have to show that leaking confidential info is illegal under HK law. ie, if it would be illegal under HK law for an HK person to leak classified HK info, then it's an extraditable offense.
posted by jpe at 7:46 PM on June 12, 2013


downing street memo: "DNI James Clapper almost certainly committed perjury in Congressional testimony on the NSA's data collection programs."

James Clapper: I Gave 'Least Untruthful' Answer Possible On NSA Surveillance (VIDEO)


downing street memo and I are going to party like it's 2006.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:48 PM on June 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


For the record, I don't want my government randomly and indiscriminately gathering massive buttloads of data about civilians in Hong Kong, China, Germany, UK, Alpha Centauri, or Bumfuck Idaho, especially without any meaningful oversight or public conversation about it. And I don't really care if it's been going on since the Jurassic or what other nations have been doing similar shit.
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:50 PM on June 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


downing street memo and I are going to party like it's 2006.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:48 PM on June 12 [+] [!]


Surly that will put an end to the abuses. So we can all go back to a state of bliss.
posted by rough ashlar at 7:51 PM on June 12, 2013


They track which tower - but i haven't seen anyone say that that data is being gathered.

That's slated for Snoweden release #6.

(Dear NSA, I have no idea if that information is actually slated for Snoweden release #6. Please do not refer myself, nor any of my family members, to the CIA for extralegal rendition and torture. Thanks!)
posted by ryoshu at 7:51 PM on June 12, 2013


I think Snowden is a casualty of some very lazy idealism, because spying in itself is NOT what makes a state evil or wrong or even wrong-headed, which is why everyone does it to protect their sovereignty. It's not only quite possible that the NSA has uncovered dozens of violent plots, but they may have discovered who, in corporate America, is abusing sensitive information and selling secrets to foreign governments. Snowden would have been more useful if he had watched and waited to leak some actual information, because we already know that corporations collect everything they can possibly use against our will power, and we can hope that the NSA doesn't package our secret profiles to our employers nor sell it to the highest bidder, which is something we also know corporations do.
posted by Brian B. at 7:51 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's amazing how many people seem capable of stating confidently the contents of the documents Snowden hasn't released.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:54 PM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


ryoshu wrote: Cell phones track location (meta)data even when you aren't making a call.

This is yet another blanket statement which is untrue. Lots of those in this thread. (if this were actually being done on a wide scale, the cell networks using TDOA location would keel over and die for lack of space on the control channels)
posted by wierdo at 7:55 PM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


corporate America, is abusing sensitive information ... our secret profiles to our employers nor sell it to the highest bidder, which is something we know corporations do.

Simple "performance art" piece - use iphones with facial recognition backended with pictures of the people who make plenty of money (defined by who donates to political campaigns to the max in, say NYC) and then use the technology to not sell your goods/service at, say, a farmers market. Tie it to marketing database Acxiom for added love at, say, blackhat.
posted by rough ashlar at 7:57 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


..with the caveat that course location (IOW, which sector of which cell site you're currently registered to) could easily be collected, but is only good for locating you within a few square miles on most networks in most of the country. (more in rural areas where single sectors can cover 20 or 30 square miles)
posted by wierdo at 7:58 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is yet another blanket statement which is untrue. Lots of those in this thread. (if this were actually being done on a wide scale, the cell networks using TDOA location would keel over and die for lack of space on the control channels)

Huh?

http://www.aclu.org/protecting-civil-liberties-digital-age/cell-phone-location-tracking-public-records-request

QoS is partially determined by signal quality between towers which can be used to triangulate the location of a given phone over a period of time...etc.
posted by ryoshu at 8:02 PM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


@ delmoi: they would have to show that leaking confidential info is illegal under HK law. ie, if it would be illegal under HK law for an HK person to leak classified HK info, then it's an extraditable offense.
Again, do you think think that if someone came to the US from Hong Kong, and leaked Classified documents about Chinese hacking in the US we would extradite them back to Hong Kong under the extradition treaty?

Because if that's not true, how is it a given that the reverse would be true?

Hong Kong law has an extradition exception for "political offenses" How is this not a political offense?
Jacques Semmelman, a New York lawyer who specializes in extradition cases, said prosecutors need to be wary of charging Mr. Snowden too aggressively, because they risk triggering an exception for "political" offenses in the Hong Kong-U.S. extradition treaty or in other nations' extradition treaties. That category can include espionage, treason and sedition.

"I think the political-offense issue will be a major issue in the case, and it's going to take ingenuity by the U.S. government to come up with charges that are bona fide but bypass the political-offense exception to extradition," said Mr. Semmelman.

Extradition treaties like the one the U.S. has with Hong Kong prohibit authorities from seeking the extradition of a fugitive on a lesser charge and then filing far more serious charges against that person once he or she has been handed over.

"What the government cannot do is find some relatively minor infraction and try to extradite him to the United States with the intention of then expanding the charges to include more serious leak charges," said Mr. Semmelman.
[link]
Like I said, it's not so simple.

The US government is used to arguing its cases in US courts where pretty much everything has been stacked in their favor on national security. That's not going to be the case in Hong Kong at all.

Again, think about a Chinese hacker fleeing Hong Kong for the US and giving up classified material about Chinese hacking in America to the press here. You really think the US would just hand him back over because leaking classified material is illegal in both countries?

On a purely legal basis any argument that works one way would have to work the other way as well, and I seriously doubt any legal argument would.

Of course, China may want to hand him back over and that might play a role, but we have no idea what they actually want, or if they care enough to interfere.
posted by delmoi at 8:18 PM on June 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm impressed that the NSA has the time to spy on foreign governments and groups after all the domestic surveillance.
posted by humanfont at 8:22 PM on June 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


This is yet another blanket statement which is untrue. Lots of those in this thread. (if this were actually being done on a wide scale, the cell networks using TDOA location would keel over and die for lack of space on the control channels)
This is about the most ridiculous thing I've heard in a while, if they didn't track your location down to your cell, they couldn't even rout the calls to you. Obviously the phone company knows where you are generally.

Anyway the FISA order was just for phone numbers and call durations, not any other data, but it could certainly be done from a technical standpoint, although users could potentially detect the transmission of their exact GPS coordinates
posted by delmoi at 8:24 PM on June 12, 2013


Oh, also (from the same article I linked earlier)
Assuming Mr. Snowden is still in Hong Kong, that extradition treaty also has another exception allowing Hong Kong to deny extradition: cases involving the public interest, national defense or foreign affairs of China or Hong Kong.
That would explain why he mentioned the US hacking in Hong Kong, which makes it a matter of public interest on the Island.
posted by delmoi at 8:30 PM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


From the Balkinization blog: Reflecting on PRISM: The Institutional Failures that Led to Surveillance Culture
posted by Unified Theory at 8:35 PM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think Snowden is a casualty of some very lazy idealism, because spying in itself is NOT what makes a state evil or wrong or even wrong-headed, which is why everyone does it to protect their sovereignty.

Except in this case the NSA was spying on its own population, which by your line of reasoning means the government is protecting its sovereignty from the very people who endow it with authority. That is an inversion of the most basic tenant of republicanism.

Snowden seems to have a full deck and he's playing them one by one for maximum and specific effect. Let's not confuse one card for the other -- today's reveal about foreign civilian targets could be some kind of long game (analysis pending) meant to weaken the US position and delay, delay, delay; whereas the prism leak carried the thrust of his idealism.
posted by troll at 8:36 PM on June 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


today's reveal about foreign civilian targets could be some kind of long game (analysis pending) meant to weaken the US position and delay, delay, delay; whereas the prism leak carried the thrust of his idealism.
Sure, and while the WaPo or the Guardian might not have been interested in a story about the US hacking in Hong Kong, the Hong Kong press certainly would be.
posted by delmoi at 8:38 PM on June 12, 2013


Snowden seems to have a full deck and he's playing them one by one for maximum and specific effect. Let's not confuse one card for the other -- today's reveal about foreign civilian targets could be some kind of long game (analysis pending) meant to weaken the US position and delay, delay, delay; whereas the prism leak carried the thrust of his idealism.

I imagine it plays out like:

1) Here's what the US government told you.
2) Here's what the US government is doing to other countries.
3) The US government doing the same thing to its own citizens as it is everyone else.

Insert the NSA when necessary.
posted by ryoshu at 8:41 PM on June 12, 2013


ryoshu wrote: QoS is partially determined by signal quality between towers which can be used to triangulate the location of a given phone over a period of time...etc.

Given the lack of technical accuracy in the second paragraph, I wouldn't put too much stock in what they're saying. When your phone is idle, it transmits only very occasionally, spending the vast majority of its time asleep, waking up every 30 seconds or so to listen for a page, but only transmitting every 5-15 minutes (depends on the network) so that its entry in the location registry doesn't time out. This is why dumb phones can last a week on a charge despite having tiny batteries.

This is a system designed to answer the question "how do I reach this phone," not "where is this phone physically located." Barring backdoors in your phone's OS, which obviously can't be ruled out, getting a fine location requires enough network traffic that the number of location requests that can be processed is very limited when compared to the number of devices in use. It's simply not done as a matter of course.

As I said earlier, one can infer a phone's location based on the sector(s) it is receiving or that are receiving it, but accuracy is poor except in the most dense parts of the network, and even then you're still talking accuracy on the order of 100 meters, not 10 meters or better like you'd get from GPS.

And obviously if you're using a service like Google Latitude or something similar that automatically sends updated GPS coordinates to a server out there on the Internets, the government can use ask the host for the data, but that's not really within the scope of this particular discussion.

More on topic, I think it's fair game to expose lies told by the government. We have been assured on many occasions that we do not target civilians in our cyberwarfare campaigns.
posted by wierdo at 8:53 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hong Kong's Legislature may ask Snowden to testify about hacking claims
posted by delmoi at 9:02 PM on June 12, 2013


Secret court won't object to release of opinion on illegal surveillance
The ruling, signed by the court’s chief judge, Reggie Walton, rejected the Justice Department’s arguments that the secret national security court’s rules prevented disclosure of the opinion. Instead, the court found that because the document was in the possession of the Justice Department, it was subject to release under the Freedom of Information Act.

Privacy advocates who brought the case said Wednesday that the ruling could pave the way for at least the partial release of landmark -- but still classified -- court rulings that some government surveillance activities violated the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution barring "unreasonable searches and seizures."

The release of the opinion, they say, may prove central in the current controversy over the scope of National Security Agency surveillance programs.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:04 PM on June 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


The crime the party to be extradited for must merely be an offense in both countries.

That's certainly the law, if we presume as a given (and it's a big presumption) that a Hong Kong court will not class the offense as a political crime. But I think that rather ignores the elephant in the room there: I predict that if the powers that be in Beijing do not want Snowden turned over to the US no amount of law will cause HK to turn him over to the US.
posted by tyllwin at 9:14 PM on June 12, 2013


As long as its just surveilling and not actually remote controlling my computer (like mentioned in an FPP recently) - tip of iceberg, imho, on what we "know".
posted by infini at 9:15 PM on June 12, 2013


"Gentlemen do not read other gentlemen's mail."
- some loser that history forgot.
posted by newdaddy at 9:30 PM on June 12, 2013


>Secret court won't object to release of opinion on illegal surveillance

Wait, so even the SECRET COURTS feel that the Government is breaking the law? So much so that the SECRET COURTS will allow this specific decision to be made available (to the persistent, well informed and well funded, naturally).

Nothing creepy or totalitarian about that. No sir.

I presume this meets the "Not obviously worse than China" standard that has been agreed upon.
posted by pompomtom at 9:33 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wait, so even the SECRET COURTS feel that the Government is breaking the law?

You should really read the link.
posted by nightwood at 9:40 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


In our work on Asian backhaul capacity, we had noticed the decline of traffic to North America. One of the results of the WCIT deliberations was an added focus on national and regional Internet Exchange Points, the natural result being more intra-regional traffic and less routing through the US. The PRISM exposure will accelerate these processes. At some point the changes in the Internet architecture will translate into changes in the policy architecture.
Beginning of the end of a US-centric Internet?
posted by infini at 9:42 PM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Companies Complying with NSA’s PRISM May Face E.U. Lawsuits
posted by infini at 9:43 PM on June 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


You should really read the link.
What is inaccurate about what he said?
The EFF’s lawsuit was inspired by a July 20, 2012 letter from an aide to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., that stated that “on at least one occasion,” the FISC held that “some collection” carried out by the U.S. government under classified surveillance programs “was unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment.”

The letter, from Kathleen Turner, Clapper’s chief of legislative affairs, provided no further information about what the FISC found to be unconstitutional, but did state that the government “has remedied these concerns” and the FISC has continued to approve its collection activities.
The government was doing something, the FISA court decided it was unconstitutional, they stopped, and they announced that they stopped but wouldn't tell anyone what they were doing, claiming that the FISA court wouldn't let them

Apparently now the FISA court is saying that's B.S and they have to release it.
posted by delmoi at 9:44 PM on June 12, 2013


Apparently now the FISA court is saying that's B.S and they have to release it.

Or reading it:
The ruling did not order the immediate release of the opinion, however, instead referred the matter to a lower court for a final decision on whether the opinion is eligible for release under FOIA, which requires the government to release documents not covered by security or other narrow exemptions

However, Walton did not immediately order the DOJ to release the order. Instead, he wrote, “This court expresses no opinion on the other issues presented” in the FOIA case “including whether the opinion is ultimately subject to disclosure.”

posted by nightwood at 9:47 PM on June 12, 2013


Except in this case the NSA was spying on its own population,

I don't think we can exclude domestic cells from terrorist monitoring. That's an understatement too. I don't much care for any other kind. Regardless, the experts at NSA probably made the same case. If any administration is going to survive, it's going to be from domestic oversight, and the benefits of this are probably not even known at this time, but they include activities we didn't imagine.
posted by Brian B. at 9:48 PM on June 12, 2013


Conspiracy theories time:

* Despite his pleading for people to concentrate on the information he leaked, instead of his own story, Snowden has become a cause célèbre, taking attention away from the PRISM revelations themselves. He has become a self-fulfilling patsy.

* This is all part of an elaborate scheme by the Obama administration to drag the NSA's secrets into the public so that they can bury it; the entrenched power of the intelligence-surveillance complex is too powerful for even the POTUS to tangle with behind the scenes. This is a grand chess game to outrage the electorate and force the spymasters to shutter their intrusive programs.

* In addition to that, this involves fueling discontent between Hong Kong and the mainland, which is part of some even greater game of go against a rising China.
posted by Apocryphon at 9:48 PM on June 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


There are four threads!
posted by homunculus at 8:48 PM on June 12 [2 favorites +] [!]

It's OK, I'm sure they can monitor them all.
posted by pompomtom at 8:49 PM on June 12 [8 favorites +] [!]

Calling bullshit on this. I've never seen proof that anybody can successfully read all the comments in one thread before posting, and we have over a hundred thousand people trying to monitor these! It's safe to say that anything posted here is secure and safe from prying eyes.

My name is Rory Marinich and I plan to put Nair in Donald Trump's shampoo.
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:51 PM on June 12, 2013 [10 favorites]


I predict that if the powers that be in Beijing

It's not just the powers-that-be in Beijing. I suspect that the powers-that-be in Hong Kong and many other people in Hong Kong will not be happy to learn that a foreign power has been targeting, for instance:

"the Hong Kong Internet Exchange (HKIX) is the city’s local point for exchanging intra-Hong Kong traffic without routing via the United States or overseas servers. It essentially connects all of the city’s Internet Access Providers to a single infrastructure."

Why CUHK? Data centre, satellite station may be targets of cyber attacks
posted by Mister Bijou at 9:52 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Apocryphon: you're missing a more obvious conspiracy: Snowden is a Chinese spy, and this is a plot to strengthen ties between HK and the mainland, which has apparently been telling them that they were being spied on.
Also on Thursday, Professor Simon Shen Xu-hui, co-director of Chinese University’s International Affairs Research Centre, said: “Snowden’s public statement, if true, is hard evidence to confirm Beijing’s long-held stance that there is foreign intervention in Hong Kong affairs.”
posted by delmoi at 9:52 PM on June 12, 2013


That "Smith v. Maryland" ruling that is being used to say this is all hunky-dory seems to my non-lawyer reading to be fundamentally based on the following portion:
Telephone users, in sum, typically know that they must convey numerical information to the phone company; that the phone company has facilities for recording this information; and that the phone company does in fact record this information for a variety of legitimate business purposes. Although subjective expectations cannot be scientifically gauged, it is too much to believe that telephone subscribers, under these circumstances, harbor any general expectation that the numbers they dial will remain secret.
All of those conditions are true, nowadays, for audio data as well.
posted by Flunkie at 9:52 PM on June 12, 2013


>You should really read the link.

Again? OK.

TFL:
could pave the way for at least the partial release of landmark -- but still classified -- court rulings that some government surveillance activities violated the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution barring "unreasonable searches and seizures."

I suppose it's probably all made legal in some other secret court ruling that no-one's allowed to know.
posted by pompomtom at 10:00 PM on June 12, 2013


All of those conditions are true, nowadays, for audio data as well.

But what is not true of a single subscriber to a telephone service believing that their phone usage meta-data is subject to government surveillance is that the meta-data of their usage of the service will be cross-referenced with Every Phone Call That Is Made In America And Abroad
posted by localhuman at 10:04 PM on June 12, 2013


Put more simply, the idea that the surveillance of meta-data of an individual's phone usage is constitutional under the Smith v. Maryland in no way dictates that the surveillance of all meta-data of all individuals is constitutional.
posted by localhuman at 10:21 PM on June 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


I posted this in one of the other threads, but since the same BS arguments are being made here...

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 history tells a different story so please try to understand why many of us do not.

>By far, the largest military on Earth belongs to the People's Republic of China.

Not even close.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:32 PM on June 12, 2013 [15 favorites]


I'm not talking about "meta-data", localhuman; I'm talking about actual audio recording of your conversation. And I'm not saying that the leap from "it's OK to do to one person" to "it's OK to do to everyone all the time" is reasonable. But that leap seems to be being made by some of those who are defending this as supposedly being constitutional. And I'm saying that if you follow the same logic at the heart of that same decision, and then you make that same leap, you can arrive at "It's constitutional for the government to record all phone conversations made by everyone" just as easily as you can at "It's constitutional for the government to record all phone numbers dialed by everyone".

To be clear, I'm not saying that's as it should be, or that the reasoning is... reasonable. I think it's not reasonable, in fact, on its face - I'd bet that most phone users probably do in fact believe that the numbers they dial remain secret from the government unless a warrant is obtained (until recent revelations, of course), so the conclusion it draws does not follow from the conditions it states.

But if we ignore the fact that I personally think that reasoning is questionable at best, and instead operate on the assumption that (as seems to be the claim) that decision really does say "it's OK for the government to record all phone numbers dialed by everyone", then I honestly don't see why it wouldn't also say "it's OK for the government to record all phone conversations had by everyone".

Telephone users typically know that they must convey what they say to the phone company; that the phone company has facilities for recording this information; and that the phone company does in fact record this information for a variety of legitimate business purposes.

So (according to the decision's reasoning, which again I want to be clear that I do not subscribe to), it is too much to believe that telephone subscribers, under these circumstances, harbor any general expectation that the conversations they have over the phone will remain secret. And so the government can constitutionally record all phone conversations by everyone, without warrant.

Anyway, I'm going to sleep.
posted by Flunkie at 10:32 PM on June 12, 2013


The Dangers of Surveillance
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:34 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sorry Flunkie, I think I was arguing against a point you weren't making.
posted by localhuman at 10:38 PM on June 12, 2013


John Oliver Tears Into Media’s Superficial Snowden Coverage, Mocks ‘Frat House’ Joe Scarborough
posted by homunculus at 10:42 PM on June 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


This is yet another blanket statement which is untrue. Lots of those in this thread. (if this were actually being done on a wide scale, the cell networks using TDOA location would keel over and die for lack of space on the control channels)

Location down to city blocks can be achieved by tower data. Even absent that granularity (when only long range 2g rural towers are around, for example), there's a lot more accuracy than the Soviets achieved and were pilloried for achieving with internal passports and roadblocks. The US now has the ability to track numberplate and fast passes, of course. It's a mistake to view all of those pieces of days individually; TIA was all about data mining synergies.
posted by jaduncan at 11:18 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I adore John Oliver, and I couldn't possibly be happier that he's hosting the Daily Show right now. He's doing an absolutely fantastic job with this story.
posted by dialetheia at 11:19 PM on June 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


Oh, and your credit card is billed to your home so credit agencies have an accurate idea of your address and often related disclosed data such as your employer and job role. Also the car you drive, and your likely political views and likes based on marketing data. Then we could cross reference your high risk of suspicious views with the fact that you email and call known protesters/trade unionists/firebrand imams/threat du jour, before sticking you on a no fly list or having a human poke more through your data.

That doesn't sound like the Smith world.
posted by jaduncan at 11:25 PM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Henry Blodget: Just Curious ... Why Is Everyone Totally Okay With The Government Spying On 'Foreigners?'
posted by delmoi at 11:47 PM on June 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


Lawrence O'Donnel interviews Snowden friend Mavanee Anderson who he met working for the U.S. Geneva, where she held Top Secret Clearance as well.
posted by delmoi at 12:07 AM on June 13, 2013


jaduncan wrote: Location down to city blocks can be achieved by tower data.

Much better than that can be achieved by tower data. If I were at&t, I would have no trouble telling that you were on a specific escalator in a specific terminal in the Atlanta airport. Tiny cells are handy that way. Happily, that is not the case the vast majority of the time.

If you specifically are targeted, they can just ask the network to please locate your phone and it will locate it to within 10 meters or so. What I'm saying is that it is (presently, given the networks we have in place) technically impossible to do it on the same scale that the call data is being logged.
posted by wierdo at 12:09 AM on June 13, 2013


What I'm saying is that it is (presently, given the networks we have in place) technically impossible to do it on the same scale that the call data is being logged.

We already have subpoenas that cover everyone who connected to tower(s) x; if that data is logged by the tower, are you saying that's only local rather than cron jobbed back to a central server? If the logs aren't local I could just get hold of them and apply algorithms to check the likely location of everyone myself. Even if I sacrifice some accuracy due to lack of signal strength data, I still get a triangulated area (and, as you point out, a lot more than that where cells are tiny).

Aside from signal strength data, what's the technical impossibility?
posted by jaduncan at 12:40 AM on June 13, 2013


Just Curious ... Why Is Everyone Totally Okay With The Government Spying On 'Foreigners?'

Given that we seem to be ok with assassinating them and bombing them indiscriminately this doesn't come as much surprise.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 12:53 AM on June 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is a big deal for non-americans. You guys are obviously blase about the NSA conducting widespread cyber vandalism and espionage against civilian targets.

On the world stage, it makes your government's complaints about chinese hacking of civilian targets, such as google, pretty damn hollow when it turns out you've been doing it for many years - when it explicitly claimed it wasn't.

Going after military, government and non-state aligned military is one thing. That is kind of the NSA's thing, and what we'd expect from such a militiaristic country. But civilian infrastructure in Hong Kong? What the fuck gives America the right to do what it wants to the rest of the world?
And how much of the information gleaned ends up in the hands of the US commercial companies - trade secrets, contract negotiations, sensitive financials, software backdoors?

I'm in the UK. I've already found out that the NSA has probably be spying on me as part of a massive dragnet because some of my data crosses US servers and networks - not as part of a specific case, but just because they can due to FISA rubber stamping.

Now there's a fair bet the NSA has its hooks deeply into my country's infrastructure too. HK was British up until relatively recently, and still has strong ties. There are plenty of British companies with infrastructure there to access the Asian markets. There's absolutely no reason the NSA won't also have targeted UK infrastructure for infiltration for domestic advantage, and it's a pretty good bet it is.

It might not be a big deal to Americans that your government spies literally treat the rest of the world's network infrastructure as their personal playground, and show a cavalier disregard for data security once they have it such that it's being readily accessible by private contractor companies.

I never thought I'd say it, but the US is a rogue state. You've been lying for years about how you're better than totalitarian and facist countries - that you're a democratic nation, with rules, and respect liberty. And it turns out, you're doing it as much or more than anyone else. That foreign civilians don't matter one god damn to your government.

No big deal for you. 'What we expected the NSA to do'. Well bully for you, you cocky insular sods. What's being exposed is a huge deal for the rest of the us, and I expect the blow back on the US to be substantial.

I am genuinely disappointed at the blase nature of the reaction in this thread. I honestly thought you would care what was being done outside your back yard in your name by your government.
posted by ArkhanJG at 1:08 AM on June 13, 2013 [46 favorites]


(quote)The "bad guys" will stop using their phones or whatever, once they realize they are being monitored?(quote)

As I said in the other thread. People are guided by convenience. They are lazy. This cuts both ways.


People who are likely to be the target of a guided missile up the wazzoo or a raid from some heavily armed gentlemen have a tendency not to be this lazy or they don't last very long. This is why stuff that is categorised as TS normally has been written up so that sources and methods cannot be specifically identified. Giving the "bad guys" more info on how intelligence is collected is never a good thing if you wish to continue doing so and also puts hard won agents at risk.

(quote)Just Curious ... Why Is Everyone Totally Okay With The Government Spying On 'Foreigners?'(quote)

Given that we seem to be ok with assassinating them and bombing them indiscriminately this doesn't come as much surprise.


Given that you are 100% against assassination and bombing in any circumstance it's no surprise to see you say this. You have held court on the matter once or twice previously.

I am personally okay with "the government" spying on "foreigners" because this is an established method of foreign policy. If you don't like it at all that's fine and you're absolutely entitled to your opinion but I can assure you that there are times when this sort of intelligence gathering has benefitted you and the state in which you live.

This holds true whether you're in Tblisi, Beijing, Canberra, Berlin, Mombassa, New York or any other location. I understand this is the "b...b...but they're doing it too!!!" defence. This is unfortunately the way of our non-Utopian world.
posted by longbaugh at 1:21 AM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


And how much of the information gleaned ends up in the hands of the US commercial companies - trade secrets, contract negotiations, sensitive financials, software backdoors?

How soon we forget ECHELON, eh?
posted by MikeKD at 1:35 AM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


On preview - ArkhanJG - both the UK's GCHQ and SIS (MI6) have the UK's economic wellbeing as a major goal of their intelligence gathering and counterintelligence programs although counterintel is SS (MI5) territory. This has been the way since the end of the Cold War alongside focusing on major crimes, counterproliferation and counterterrorism (under the Directorate of Global Issues).

As a UK resident myself (fortunately not a rezident) I have known about the UKUSA agreement for well over a decade. It has been in place since 1948 so it's not exactly news. Whilst the specific project (PRISM) is a new bit of knowledge to me I have operated under the assumption that ANYTHING I put out on the internet can be tied to me personally IRL since the mid-90s.

Whether someone would choose to do so is based entirely on the information I put out there. To be honest, a glance at my reading list would probably have put me on a watch list at some point but as I've never been directly contacted by the security services I can only assume they don't see me as a threat.

It sucks that we are watched as much as we are but simply enough the technology allows it and people have allowed this to happen. Chances of it going back to how it was before is about nil so imo we need to look at how best to live with this and turn it to our advantage (sousveillance, open government etc).

MikeKD - ECHELON/Platform still exists but has a different focus than PRISM. Wikipedia's article on ECHELON is pretty decent as a jumping off point.
posted by longbaugh at 1:42 AM on June 13, 2013


Because most people in the world happen to "foreigners." And most of these foreigners are as non-violent, law-abiding, and deserving of basic privacy rights and due process as most Americans.

Some of these "foreigners," in fact, are friends, family, colleagues, and customers of Americans. And most of the billions of users of Facebook, Google, Yahoo, and other major communications service providers whose communications the NSA is "intercepting" are foreigners.

There about ~7 billion "foreigners" in the world, in fact, and the U.S.'s Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act apparently gives the U.S. government complete freedom to spy on all them.

If all ~7 billion "foreigners" in the world were likely to be potential terrorists, and the 300 million Americans were not potential terrorists, this logic might make sense.
via comment

So, given the fuzzywuzzy special relationship, its all OK for ArkhanJG because they are in the UK?

If you don't like it at all that's fine and you're absolutely entitled to your opinion but I can assure you that there are times when this sort of intelligence gathering has benefitted you and the state in which you live.

This holds true whether you're in Tblisi, Beijing, Canberra, Berlin, Mombassa, New York or any other location.


Are you sure its foreign policy and not just a system run amuck on a gazillion dollar pig trough?
posted by infini at 1:56 AM on June 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Rory Marinich: “Calling bullshit on this. I've never seen proof that anybody can successfully read all the comments in one thread before posting”
Some of us don't even read the links!
posted by ob1quixote at 2:06 AM on June 13, 2013


I read all of the comments in the longboat election thread, as did others.

You weren't there, man. You couldn't understand. *shivers*
posted by jaduncan at 2:17 AM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


No big deal for you. 'What we expected the NSA to do'. Well bully for you, you cocky insular sods. What's being exposed is a huge deal for the rest of the us, and I expect the blow back on the US to be substantial.

The NSA get every bit of foreign comms they can, as do GCHQ. We are very much standing in a glass house on this, especially since it's non-coincidental that GCHQ have listening posts in the US and NSA have some here. We (certainly before domestic spying became a thing) had an arrangement where we'd do the spying on each other's population that might be illegal for the home government then share the data with each other. The UK is directly involved in NSA stuff; it's not that we are hard done by so much as co-conspirators.
posted by jaduncan at 2:22 AM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


In fact, Hague all but said this when he stated that the US and UK would share intelligence with each other when it would save lives in the UK no matter how it was obtained; given the lack of legal restrictions on foreign interception, you can read this to mean that we still have quite the stream of intercept data going from NSA to MI5 in particular.
posted by jaduncan at 2:26 AM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Are you sure its foreign policy and not just a system run amuck on a gazillion dollar pig trough?

Can it not be both? Tim Shorrock's "Spies For Hire" is next up on my reading list but from a quick skim it seems likely that this is the case. The fact that the US intelligence apparatus is being outsourced to private companies or rerouted through the Pentagon should be more worrying, Given private businesses will charge through the nose for a service using exactly the same employees I'd be more concerned about both the financial effect of doing so as well as the probability that private corporations have no obligation to report activity to either of the Intelligence Committees tasked with oversight. The Pentagon have been trying to steal the CIA's responsibility for decades now and probably have a better record at intelligence gathering all things being considered.

When PMSCs and intelligence analysis corporations start merging you may start to see things like private businesses with actual direct action arms. We have had similar issues in the UK since the early 80s. A lot of early UK PMCs were for all intents and purposes run by SIS/Foreign Office direction allowing UKSF operators and ex-intel bods to take part in actions that could not be done through official channels without causing significant embarrassment to the UK Government. It's a rather sneaky technique that's already been used in Afghanistan and Pakistan by PMCs temporarily hiring USSF operators to bypass oversight.

On preview - Hague is a bit of a weasel on this topic. He is perfectly happy to accept intelligence tainted by illegal rendition which I understand but don't at all appreciate. Data gained through torture is tainted and untrustworthy by it's very nature. Information gained through PRISM or other ELINT methods is altogether more useful and trustworthy, regardless of whether you agree with the morals behind it's collection.

I previously categorised the UKUSA (also AUSNZ) data sharing as everyone working together to collect the take from across the world and then applying a little sticker that says "Product of (not here)" to deny that they are monitoring their own citizens.
posted by longbaugh at 3:06 AM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Tell Me No Lies: " If someone like the NSA with all the magical data they demand access to cannot determine the odds of someone turning on them, what are the odds they will catch covert terrorists?

It's unlikely that they're trying to run some special sniffer program that will predict this person or that will be a terrorist. This isn't Minority Report.

The reason for keeping all this stuff is that when you *do* get a sniff of something bad you have an entire history at your fingertips. If Bob Jones does something that sets off an alarm bell at the security gate at the airport you can have an entire dossier on him before he gets on the plane.

In my book collecting and keeping all this data is too high a price to pay, but if my job was to guarantee the safety of the American public I would want every little scrap of data I could get my hands on. Hopefully wiser and saner heads would stop me.
"

I guess I just don't see much of a point to getting a history. I frankly thought the idea of all this Total Information Awareness
was to pseudo-profile and allow the determination of potential threats ahead of time. Otherwise, what the blistering green fuck is the point of all this? We have been pretty good at catching terrorists after the fact, and the current environment is such that I really doubt there would be an issue prosecuting them.

I mean, seriously, the chance of getting caught doesn't really bother many terrorists, so a complete dossier is really worthless in my opinion.
posted by Samizdata at 3:42 AM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


jaduncan: "I read all of the comments in the longboat election thread, as did others.

You weren't there, man. You couldn't understand. *shivers*
"

PTTD? Post-traumatic Thread Disorder?
posted by Samizdata at 3:57 AM on June 13, 2013


I have proof Johnny had his hand in the cooky jar at Sally's house.

"No you don't!"

Here is a photo of Johnny with his hand in the cooky jar at Sally's house.

"How dare you take a photo of me!"
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:29 AM on June 13, 2013


I mean, seriously, the chance of getting caught doesn't really bother many terrorists, so a complete dossier is really worthless in my opinion.

Avoiding capture is the number two priority of terrorists outside of "commit acts of terrorism" so I can't really agree with you there. Even those willing to martyr themselves don't post about it on Facebook prior to doing it because that might give the authorities opportunity to prevent their big moment. Neither of the Tsarnaevs nor Adebolajo & Adebowale will be committing another act of terrorism on account of them being either dead or in custody.

Having the dossier is useful after the fact to trace back through networks and contacts to locate supporters and possible future threats (see the interviewing of people in contact with the Tsarnaev brothers or the men responsible for the attack on Drummer Rigby in Woolwich). Intelligence agencies can try to identify individuals who are recruiting and influencing these young men and then prosecute or extradite them where possible. People likely to carry out other acts in the future can be identified and a quiet word off the record can be had, suggesting they seek out alternate friends. This method is actually quite successful in the majority of cases.

Since the Tsarnaevs and the two suspects in the Woolwich stabbing were all known to the security services prior to their actions you could say that collecting all this data is useless or that it clearly isn't working. I don't believe that to be the case. The current suggestion from the security services here in the UK are that there are around 5,000 individuals who may at some point be a possible threat. We might know that these people are connected to suspected terror groups but we cannot monitor them all the time because it's not possible (from a financial/resource standpoint) to do so.

We can either hope that they let slip some information that gets sieved electronically or we can let them know we are aware of their connections but otherwise the price for living in a (somewhat) free society is that occasionally the odd act of terrorism will slip through the net. The only alternative is something akin to East Germany in the Cold War and that's unlikely for many reasons.
posted by longbaugh at 4:40 AM on June 13, 2013


You guys are obviously blase about the NSA conducting widespread cyber vandalism and espionage against civilian targets.

Be sure to not limit this to the NSA.

The military has its 'cyber' units. Same with the FBI. I'd not seen links to job posting claimed to be the CIA, but would anyone care to place a wager on the CIA WRT the above?

Even the IRS is doing 'big data' and spycraft with 'little data' it seems.
(do any of you care about links to the 60 million medical records or the purchase req. for 4 hidden camera coffee trays?)
posted by rough ashlar at 5:33 AM on June 13, 2013


seanmpuckett: "I have proof Johnny had his hand in the cooky jar at Sally's house.

"No you don't!"

Here is a photo of Johnny with his hand in the cooky jar at Sally's house.

"How dare you take a photo of me!"
"

I think you meant this for the Mad Men thread.
posted by Big_B at 6:20 AM on June 13, 2013


longbaugh - 'The current suggestion from the security services here in the UK are that there are around 5,000 individuals who may at some point be a possible threat.'

Considering the people who get convicted and how much of a threat they are to the public (negligible*), I would say that I would rather live in a world where the threat of terrorism wasn't used as a reason for all kinds of civil rights abuses.

It is great that the government is redistributing wealth to people by employing them, it is just unfortunate that the jobs relate to the enormous security theatre that has bloomed in the past 12 years, when they could be gainfully employed in ways that benefit the human race.

It's all such a waste of human endeavour. Distraction from the real issues.

* As well as being statistically negligible I would suggest that that the convictions we are seeing are against people who had negligible chance of succeeding with their plots.
posted by asok at 6:35 AM on June 13, 2013


Hey Gang! This is great! We can all communicate with the NSA directly! Here's how:
Write an e mail addressed to yourself....start with a series of trigger words (you know
what they are).....then a disclaimer...then, whatever you want to say to them. What
do you guys think?
posted by eggtooth at 7:31 AM on June 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think you shouldn't try to cross an international border with the US any time soon.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:33 AM on June 13, 2013


It's ok...I'm in Mexico
posted by eggtooth at 7:34 AM on June 13, 2013


It's ok...I'm in Mexico

Hahaha - I have fond memories of crossing from Mexico back into the US... where by "fond" I mean "holy crap was that f*d up!"

posted by eviemath at 7:43 AM on June 13, 2013


I've been reading about Snowden here and there, and I've heard multiple theories about his role and what he's doing. And the discussion of the NSA here has been educational.

Legalities of the NSA's activities aside for a moment, he broke the law by violating his security clearance.

And you think they wouldn't try and expose him? That he could maintain his anonymity?

Frankly, who gives a fuck about this guy's personality?


I do. It goes to his motive. I'm not convinced he's doing this for patriotic or altruistic reasons.

His history coupled with what he's doing now makes me think that Snowden is an attention-seeking asshole with a hero fantasy that he's trying to fulfill. Either that or he's running from the mega-self-absorbed girlfriend. Gawd.

He did NOT take into account the big-picture view that leaking this stuff could have dire consequences on the safety of other intelligence personnel around the world, or even regular military troops who serve the very nation he claims to be doing this for.
posted by Thistledown at 8:09 AM on June 13, 2013


You've been lying for years about how you're better than totalitarian and facist countries - that you're a democratic nation, with rules, and respect liberty. And it turns out, you're doing it as much or more than anyone else. That foreign civilians don't matter one god damn to your government.
Don't blame me, man!

Although the attitude of some posters seems to be that foreigners have no rights and nothing is 'illegal' outside of US borders, I think it's just a couple of particularly loud and abrasive users making those arguments.

That said, I don't really think hacking is that big of a deal overall. If you go back to the china hacking threads, I said people were over-reacting and that I thought we were probably doing the same thing to them as they were to us, just that we weren't getting caught, or that they just weren't complaining about it. Obviously that turned out to be true.

I think you also shouldn't assume your government isn't doing the same kinds of things. In fact we know that the UK has some access to PRISM and has been using it to pull data themselves.
On preview - ArkhanJG - both the UK's GCHQ and SIS (MI6) have the UK's economic wellbeing as a major goal of their intelligence gathering and counterintelligence programs although counterintel is SS (MI5) territory.
Well, the NSA's actions have probably done a lot of damage to the US economy in terms of users outside of the US being willing to trust Google/Apple/Facebook/etc and being willing to use their products. Sweden just banned government use of Google Apps, for example - that's a product that Google actually charges for and has been having a lot of success with.

It's in our long term interests to treat foreign data with respect if we want to maintain our advantages in terms of cloud computing and the like, or we could be seeing that business go to countries with stronger and more trustworthy data protection laws.
posted by delmoi at 8:16 AM on June 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


He did NOT take into account the big-picture view that leaking this stuff could have dire consequences on the safety of other intelligence personnel around the world, or even regular military troops who serve the very nation he claims to be doing this for.

What what what? The NSA don't do human intelligence; there aren't more than a negligible amount of NSA agents to risk in the field. I suspect you'd be wondering about CIA agents, but there's not much crossover there either as other nation states may well have noticed the presence of cryptographers, signals intelligence agencies and explicit radio in the various states they communicate with. You'd hope that nobody but nation states would know who the CIA non-diplomatic field agents were to kill.

They may also have noticed this with troops. To pick the UK, the Royal Signals do some - you'll never guess - signals intelligence as well as comms in the field. The clue is rather in the name, radio equipment and cap badge in the field, although even if they cunningly lie about their unit I think there's a reason why it's considered bad form to let soldiers or intelligence agents from other nations sit around in your comms facilities unattended.

In other news, what?
posted by jaduncan at 8:25 AM on June 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Frankly, who gives a fuck about this guy's personality?

I do. It goes to his motive. I'm not convinced he's doing this for patriotic or altruistic reasons.


Well, I'm not convinced that all of the people in the surveillance-industrial complex are doing what they do for patriotic or altruistic reasons, so let's call it a draw.
posted by Tsuga at 8:29 AM on June 13, 2013 [10 favorites]


What what what? The NSA don't do human intelligence; there aren't more than a negligible amount of NSA agents to risk in the field. I suspect you'd be wondering about CIA agents, but there's not much crossover there either as other nation states may well have noticed the presence of cryptographers, signals intelligence agencies and explicit radio in the various states they communicate with. You'd hope that nobody but nation states would know who the CIA non-diplomatic field agents were to kill.

They may also have noticed this with troops. To pick the UK, the Royal Signals do some - you'll never guess - signals intelligence as well as comms in the field. The clue is rather in the name, radio equipment and cap badge in the field, although even if they cunningly lie about their unit I think there's a reason why it's considered bad form to let soldiers or intelligence agents from other nations sit around in your comms facilities unattended.


Signals Intelligence gets processed just as Human Intelligence does. They are correllated and used together. Most DoD/Intelligence operations are joint-this-and-that these days, and the impact of leaking SIGINT source can have a very real and detrimental effect on HUMINT operations and vice versa. Don't think for a minute they're that siloed - there are inter-dependencies all over the place.
posted by Thistledown at 8:30 AM on June 13, 2013


What what what? The NSA don't do human intelligence; there aren't more than a negligible amount of NSA agents to risk in the field. I suspect you'd be wondering about CIA agents, but there's not much crossover there ...

You don't think there's much crossover? The NSA handles communication for the whole military, the CIA, etc. I'm sure there's plenty of CIA data on NSA servers.
posted by delmoi at 8:31 AM on June 13, 2013


I should clarify that. There's not much crossover in personnel between the people doing the hacking and the people on the ground.

I'm ex-Royal Signals. Your chances of seeing GCHQ people in the field are slightly higher than zero, but only just.
posted by jaduncan at 8:33 AM on June 13, 2013


His history coupled with what he's doing now makes me think that Snowden is an attention-seeking asshole with a hero fantasy that he's trying to fulfill. Either that or he's running from the mega-self-absorbed girlfriend. Gawd.

Who says smear campaigns don't work?
posted by ryoshu at 8:37 AM on June 13, 2013 [7 favorites]


Signals Intelligence gets processed just as Human Intelligence does. They are correllated and used together. Most DoD/Intelligence operations are joint-this-and-that these days, and the impact of leaking SIGINT source can have a very real and detrimental effect on HUMINT operations and vice versa. Don't think for a minute they're that siloed - there are inter-dependencies all over the place.

With some information, yes. I'm really curious what you imagine has been endangered in the field by a revelation that the NSA hacks foreign network infrastructure. This is work done by people sitting in offices at home for 99% of the time.
posted by jaduncan at 8:39 AM on June 13, 2013


I just want to say that "Royal Signals" is the best unit/division name ever. It's also probably been used several time as a headline in The Daily Mail.
posted by GuyZero at 8:50 AM on June 13, 2013


I do. It goes to his motive. I'm not convinced he's doing this for patriotic or altruistic reasons.
Why do his motives matter? It doesn't change the data, the American people are going to have to decide if they want the NSA to have this power and the rest of the world is going to have to decide if they want to risk turning their data over to American companies if they're going to continue doing it. That's true regardless of whatever Snowden's motives were.
His history coupled with what he's doing now makes me think that Snowden is an attention-seeking asshole with a hero fantasy that he's trying to fulfill. Either that or he's running from the mega-self-absorbed girlfriend. Gawd.
If it's the case that he's trying to fulfill a hero fantasy, then that would mean that he was doing it for altruistic/patriotic reasons.
posted by delmoi at 8:55 AM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Who says it's a smear campaign?

With some information, yes. I'm really curious what you imagine has been endangered in the field by a revelation that the NSA hacks foreign network infrastructure. This is work done by people sitting in offices at home for 99% of the time.
posted by jaduncan at 8:39 AM on June 13 [+] [!]


I don't imagine specifics, because the fact that even some information could be used to endanger - however little - is important here.

Since they don't consult me on operational security matters, I cannot say what information leakage may or may not endanger or be inconsequential to field personnel. There are other people who do that. For a living. Who are trained to do that and make those decisions. Who are not "computer techs" running around leaking information.

I do, however, expect a pretty conservative approach to this kind of thing. Not telling the subject of intelligence gathering that they are, indeed, the subject of intelligence gathering is one way to keep the rest of my assets under the radar. Strikes me as pretty sound.

Now that there is confirmation that the NSA hacks/spies on other countries' networks, don't you think those folks are going to take a harder look at their security infrastructures? Don't you think the NSA's job has just gotten harder?

I know a lot of people think that's a good thing - and maybe, in some cases, it is. But not in all.

Perhaps this makes me not-very-popular, but I am all for having wickedly pervasive surveillance capabilities. I am also for wickedly transparent and strict oversight. It seems we are definitely lacking in the latter, perhaps.
posted by Thistledown at 8:55 AM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


If it's the case that he's trying to fulfill a hero fantasy, then that would mean that he was doing it for altruistic/patriotic reasons.
posted by delmoi at 8:55 AM on June 13 [+] [!]


That's a really good, head-smacking point, delmoi. I will concede that you're correct there.

However, "hero fantasy" and "attention-seeking asshole" are not mutually exclusive, I suppose.
posted by Thistledown at 9:01 AM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Who says it's a smear campaign?
It's pretty obvious, although probably not deliberate or coordinated in any way.

If you watch the mainstream media coverage, they go out of their way to drop insults and demean him whenever they can, calling him a 'high-school dropout' all the time, constantly calling his girlfriend a poll dancer, etc.

If you see lots of people slam on someone, it's going to to affect your opinion of them a lot more then reasoned argument, and there is sort of a feedback effect as well. Remember, these people in government and in the media all see eachother on TV, follow eachother on twitter, etc.

And people naturally want to be liked by their peers, there going to express the same kinds of attitudes about Snowden that they hear all from all their friends. In becomes a sort of in-group signaling.

It's kind of this stereotypical high-school dynamic where you have the "popular kids" and if you want to stay popular you have to dislike the people they dislike. Bloggers sometimes talk about the DC media sphere divisively as "the village". It's really quite childish behavior.
However, "hero fantasy" and "attention-seeking asshole" are not mutually exclusive, I suppose.
No, but you have to remember that "asshole" can be very relative depending on what side you're on. Republicans and conservatives all thing Obama is the biggest asshole ever, for example, because he beat them in elections.

I doubt that people in other countries would see Snowden as an asshole, for example. If someone in the Chinese intelligence services leaked information about Chinese hacking here, would you see them as an asshole?
posted by delmoi at 9:15 AM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I do, however, expect a pretty conservative approach to this kind of thing. Not telling the subject of intelligence gathering that they are, indeed, the subject of intelligence gathering is one way to keep the rest of my assets under the radar. Strikes me as pretty sound.

They already know.

Now that there is confirmation that the NSA hacks/spies on other countries' networks, don't you think those folks are going to take a harder look at their security infrastructures? Don't you think the NSA's job has just gotten harder?

No, because every nation state already knows. Do you think that people don't know what a listening post or indeed NSA itself is for? Doing this is a core part of the mission statement.

I am also for wickedly transparent and strict oversight

Then what's the issue with the capability being described in broad terms?
posted by jaduncan at 9:19 AM on June 13, 2013


Secret court won't object to release of opinion on illegal surveillance

I think this is interesting because of the “hey-don't-blame-me” dance that usually goes on in cases like this. The court will claim they can't do anything because their hands are tied by the administration; the administration that they can't do anything because the court is secret; etc. Here we have the FISA court explicitly stepping out of the circle and saying, No, if the administration won't release it, it's because they don't want to, not because of us.
posted by hattifattener at 9:22 AM on June 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


It's pretty obvious, although probably not deliberate or coordinated in any way.

If you watch the mainstream media coverage, they go out of their way to drop insults and demean him whenever they can, calling him a 'high-school dropout' all the time, constantly calling his girlfriend a poll dancer, etc.


Interesting take on that. The "pole dancing superhero" bit was something she said - that wasn't a media label slapped on her; she labeled herself that.

As to the the "dropout" bit - I think the reason they're making that a point - at least my take on it - was incredulity that he would be given access to such sensitive information for being - in their eyes - not a decorated intelligence operative. He's an IT-drone. Maybe that's their point?


And people naturally want to be liked by their peers, there going to express the same kinds of attitudes about Snowden that they hear all from all their friends. In becomes a sort of in-group signaling.

It's kind of this stereotypical high-school dynamic where you have the "popular kids" and if you want to stay popular you have to dislike the people they dislike. Bloggers sometimes talk about the DC media sphere divisively as "the village". It's really quite childish behavior.


Yes, but in this case, the disliked guy has already pretty egregiously opened his mouth on some matters which he was expressly forbidden to and earning the dislike. I really want to look further into this, but isn't there a protocol for whistleblowers to follow? Isn't there a way for them to go to an Inspector General and report something?

I'm relatively new to DC, but one thing I have learned is that regardless of your political stance you absolutely. shut. the fuck. up. about matters related to security clearances/SCI. It's like a secondary religion or cultural protocol here. I've had to learn some entirely new methods of social interaction as a result. I think some of the blowback is from this.

Media handling on a large number of items is childish, I agree. Just not sure it isn't warranted here.
posted by Thistledown at 9:25 AM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Whether you agree with what Snowden did or not, why would his motives matter?

The information he disclosed can be evaluated on its own. The wisdom of releasing the information can be evaluated without reference to his personality.

When people want to focus on his motives, it makes me think that they are incapable of considering his disclosures themselves.

Do they really expect us to think, "Oh, I get it, he's a self-aggrandizing asshole, I guess I can disregard the things he disclosed, it must not matter."

I mean, think of a more run-of-the-mill crime, such as murder. If John Smith discovers and reveals the identity of a murderer, does the fact that John Smith enjoyed the praise from his revelation somehow mean the murderer didn't do a bad thing or that we should ignore the information? Can't it be evaluated on its own merits, and can't we accept that just about any risky, controversial human action is going to be tied in some way to a person's ego?
posted by Unified Theory at 9:28 AM on June 13, 2013 [10 favorites]


Whether you agree with what Snowden did or not, why would his motives matter?

People who don't think about more complex issues love ad hom stories, and people who feel discomforted by the revelation get a chance to shoot the messenger and put their discomfort on them.

It's a discussion point to steer the conversation away from the actual issues.
posted by jaduncan at 9:30 AM on June 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


Just throwing this out there (and reposting from one of the earlier NSA threads).

My pet theory [totally speculative] is that Snowden had been feeding info to the Chinese for some time. But something made him worried that he was about to be caught. So when he left Booz Allen claiming he needed treatment for epilepsy, he was in fact hoping the Chinese would help him defect and resettle in Hong Kong. The only problem was that there was a new Chinese president hoping to improve relations with the US, and an important summit coming up in California. So Snowden, in a kind of limbo and fearing that the NSA Q Group might "disappear" him, decided to go public and reinvent himself as a whistleblower. At a minimum, Snowden would have thought, this would save his life, and might even win him some political/popular support within the US or around the world as the legal and diplomatic processes play out.

Living in an Assange-like limbo wouldn't have been Snowden's objective, in this scenario, but it's a decent fallback plan for a double-agent.
posted by BobbyVan at 9:33 AM on June 13, 2013


No, because every nation state already knows. Do you think that people don't know what a listening post or indeed NSA itself is for? Doing this is a core part of the mission statement. -- jaduncan
They may have thought they were secure. They might have thought the NSA, or whoever might try to hack them but that they wouldn't be able too.

For civilian targets, they may not have thought they'd ever be targeted by a nation-state.

Also, you many people in this thread are assuming that everyone in the world is as paranoid or cynical as you are. There are probably a lot of people who were naive, trusted the government and trusted Google/Apple/etc. Remember, clapper said specifically under oath that they didn't capture data on millions of Americans.

And look at Sweeden just now banning the government use of Google docs. If what you say is true, that they all knew this, why would any government outside of the US even consider using google docs? Obviously, they must have trusted that google wouldn't share their data with the US government, even though you say it should be obvious to all that they would.
Interesting take on that. The "pole dancing superhero" bit was something she said - that wasn't a media label slapped on her; she labeled herself that.
Yeah, I don't really think that justifies it. The blog wasn't "serious" and she wasn't expecting the entire world to scrutinize it in a political context. It's obvious that it was supposed to be humorous. And again, poll dancing is only one of the things that she did. She was a formally trained ballerina, she was an acrobat, and so on. When you reduce that to "poll dancer" and strip out all the relevant context, including the fact that she called herself that as a joke it becomes much more demeaning.

Here's nothing wrong with reporting that she did poll dancing, but when you constantly describe her as a "poll dancer" without context (and someone actually, falsely, called her a "stripper" in the other thread) it's much more demeaning. Just like calling this guy a "highschool dropout" as if he just dropped out of highschool and picked up a job at the NSA data center.
I'm relatively new to DC, but one thing I have learned is that regardless of your political stance you absolutely. shut. the fuck. up. about matters related to security clearances/SCI. It's like a secondary religion or cultural protocol here. I've had to learn some entirely new methods of social interaction as a result. I think some of the blowback is from this.
Well, sure. But for most people in the world that's not an issue. I don't even know if that's something most people in the U.S. even think, certainly when it comes to covering up something that might be unconstitutional.

Like I said, imagine the reverse, if someone came from Hong Kong and leaked to the NYT about Chinese spying and hacking in the US. Do you think that you would think that person was an asshole?

Again, consider this from the perspective of someone living outside of the U.S. They may have heard people say the US spies on everyone, hacks everything and dismissed it as paranoid nonsense and not believed it.

Why would they think Snowden was an asshole?
Media handling on a large number of items is childish, I agree. Just not sure it isn't warranted here.
Well, whether or not it's warranted you should be aware of it, and not get sucked in to agreeing with everyone just because they say it all the time. You could take any person, and if you heard repeatedly over and over people harping on whatever flaws they could find to attack them, it's likely that you are going to have a very negative opinion about them, unless you think carefully about what's going, why you're hearing so much negativity and try to compensate for it in forming your assessment.
posted by delmoi at 9:44 AM on June 13, 2013


My pet theory [totally speculative] is that Snowden had been feeding info to the Chinese for some time.

Any thought on why he would have been feeding info to the Chinese?
posted by Unified Theory at 9:47 AM on June 13, 2013


Living in an Assange-like limbo wouldn't have been Snowden's objective, in this scenario, but it's a decent fallback plan for a double-agent.
If all he wanted to do was escape, why not leave Hong Kong and travel to Russia, which has said it would consider asylum and influential politicians have said they would be in favor of? Seems like it would be far safer then HK.
posted by delmoi at 9:48 AM on June 13, 2013


Any thought on why he would have been feeding info to the Chinese?

He could have been ideologically-motivated ("the US is a big dangerous bully and I'm going to help the one country w/ the resources & determination to knock them down a peg") or financially-motivated. Another data point to consider is that Hawaii is home to the US Navy's Pacific Fleet... so it's reasonable to assume that China's foreign intelligence services have a station there.

If all he wanted to do was escape, why not leave Hong Kong and travel to Russia, which has said it would consider asylum and influential politicians have said they would be in favor of? Seems like it would be far safer then HK.

That assumes he would be allowed to leave Hong Kong in the first place. Even if he's really just the "lone-wolf" self-motivated whistleblower he claims to be, I seriously doubt China would want to let such a valuable source of intelligence fall into the hands of a regional rival.
posted by BobbyVan at 9:56 AM on June 13, 2013


Oh responding to this:
Yes, but in this case, the disliked guy has already pretty egregiously opened his mouth on some matters which he was expressly forbidden to and earning the dislike. I really want to look further into this, but isn't there a protocol for whistleblowers to follow? Isn't there a way for them to go to an Inspector General and report something?
There are a couple problems with this:

1) The program is likely "legal" according to the FISA courts secret rulings and the administrations various secret interpretations of the law. So if support for this program goes to the top of the "secret" government, then how could whistle-blowing help? They weren't violating their own rules, he felt they were violating the constitution and the trust of the voters.

2) There has been retaliation against whistleblowers in the past on stuff like this. William Binney blew the whistle on what he thought was a wasteful NSA program, and ended up getting his house raided a couple years later when the program was leaked by someone else
posted by delmoi at 9:56 AM on June 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


They may have thought they were secure. They might have thought the NSA, or whoever might try to hack them but that they wouldn't be able too.

For civilian targets, they may not have thought they'd ever be targeted by a nation-state.


Government agencies and private company security people are supposed to be suspicious, and to assume that capabilities may be utilised and should be assumed to be so. There's a reason esoteric security holes are often discussed with a phrase something along the lines of 'probably only practically exploitable by a nation state adversary'. Quite aside from that, such a wide range of people try to hack telecoms and communications infrastructure that the base assumption is that the internet is hostile in every way it could be imagined to be hostile.

I'm just not sure why you'd think that network security people are such naifs.

And look at Sweeden just now banning the government use of Google docs. If what you say is true, that they all knew this, why would any government outside of the US even consider using google docs? Obviously, they must have trusted that google wouldn't share their data with the US government, even though you say it should be obvious to all that they would.

Because of a review that's been going on for months, and was prompted by GD adoption in the school system last year and concerns related to that due to the lack of data handling and privacy guarantees in US law compared to EU and Swedish requirements.
posted by jaduncan at 10:01 AM on June 13, 2013


My pet theory [totally speculative] is that Snowden had been feeding info to the Chinese for some time. But something made him worried that he was about to be caught. So when he left Booz Allen claiming he needed treatment for epilepsy, he was in fact hoping the Chinese would help him defect and resettle in Hong Kong. The only problem was that there was a new Chinese president hoping to improve relations with the US, and an important summit coming up in California. So Snowden, in a kind of limbo and fearing that the NSA Q Group might "disappear" him, decided to go public and reinvent himself as a whistleblower.
I don't know, what you're saying doesn't really make much sense. It would mean:

1) The Chinese recruited him as a spy
2) The Chinese decided to betray him in order to improve relations with the US (what?)
3) He decides to fly to Hong-Hong
4) Then, he's captured by the Chinese, but has enough freedom to travel around Hong Kong, meet with journalists, etc. but not enough freedom to hop on a boat? Or go to the Russian Embassy?

I don't think the Chinese or any other country would ever betray a source just because of a summit or something like that, that would be ridiculous. If he was really feeding info to the Chinese I'm sure they'd be happy to grant him asylum right away if he wanted it.

I do wonder, though, if this isn't some kind of pre-arranged deal he made with the Chinese. He would give them info, in exchange for making information public and then getting a "fair trail" in Hong Kong in order to minimize suspicion.
posted by delmoi at 10:15 AM on June 13, 2013


It's always a fun time to watch the sycophantic defenders of totalitarian power question the motives of leakers while completely failing to do the same for the much more powerful and influential power structures being revealed.

"Yes we actually did keep body counts and we seem to have killed large amounts of innocent civillians...but what was Assange's real angle here? Tell me that, huh. AMIRITE?"

So yeah lets forget all about the actual material leaked and focus on the leaker and see if we can't armchair psychoanalyze his ass in order to illustrate what a horrible excuse for a human being he is. Don't worry about the government we can trust them as they have amply demonstrated over the last 70 years that they have everybody's best interests at heart.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:18 AM on June 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


Government agencies and private company security people are supposed to be suspicious, and to assume that capabilities may be utilised and should be assumed to be so. There's a reason esoteric security holes are often discussed with a phrase something along the lines of 'probably only practically exploitable by a nation state adversary'.
Again dude, your projecting your own paranoia/cynicism onto everyone else. A lot of people in foreign countries might not have considered the US an adversary
I'm just not sure why you'd think that network security people are such naifs.
I'm not sure why you think network security people get to make the decisions.

Again, look at what's already happened, Sweden apparently allowed it's government agencies to use Google Docs. Now they don't. obviously they were surprised by the announcement.

As far as Hong Kong goes, maybe their government was naive about the US hacking them. We don't know how much authority the HK government has on their own information security issues compared to the.
posted by delmoi at 10:23 AM on June 13, 2013


The impression I get from the "high school dropout" and "pole dancer" harping is that a) the more "sordid" Jerry Springeresque reality show bullshit a news story has, the more it sells and b) it's (probably unconscious) standard bourgeois classist code for "disreputable, mercenary white trash losers too dumb and tacky to use a polite-society tool like a salad fork or security clearance properly."

You know, like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, only without the pluck and winning smile.
posted by FelliniBlank at 10:24 AM on June 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Again dude, your projecting your own paranoia/cynicism onto everyone else. A lot of people in foreign countries might not have considered the US an adversary.

...I worked in signals. In the UK. We would treat any foreign agency as suspicious and likely to want to see UK EYES ONLY stuff, including the NSA. I'm merely projecting a vague sense of professionalism on people in charge of IT and telecoms stuff.

I'm also not sure it's paranoia/cynicism when the sign above the door on the agency says 'we collect signals intelligence'. It's more that I think that is a lot of what a signals intelligence agency does.

Again, look at what's already happened, Sweden apparently allowed it's government agencies to use Google Docs. Now they don't. obviously they were surprised by the announcement.

You appear not to have read either your own link or the rest of my comment. The data issues raised are to do with data handling within Google and their contractors, and are centered around the lack of privacy/data protection in US law when compared to EU and Swedish requirements and the failure of the contract to ensure that Google will privately agree to maintain the higher standard.
posted by jaduncan at 10:35 AM on June 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't know, what you're saying doesn't really make much sense. It would mean:

You make some good points. But fundamentally, it's the flight from the US to Hong Kong that doesn't make much sense, regardless of Snowden's intentions or handlers (if any).

I don't think the Chinese wanted to betray their source; I think Snowden could have forced their hand by getting skittish and fleeing the US. I admit this theory is a long-shot, but I'm just struggling to come up with a scenario that explains why all of Snowden's actions seem to be calculated to benefit China at the expense of the US.
posted by BobbyVan at 10:38 AM on June 13, 2013


On a lighter note where is George Carlin when we need him most?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:39 AM on June 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I really want to look further into this, but isn't there a protocol for whistleblowers to follow? Isn't there a way for them to go to an Inspector General and report something?

Yes, there certainly is. Enemies of the State: What Happens When Telling the Truth About Secret US Government Power Becomes a Crime is a fun video that might give you some more insight. There is some tech talk, but they also all give an overview of the processes they tried to go through to get things fixed the right way.

From the description: "Speakers Radack, Drake and Binney will highlight their searing experiences with the Department of Justice and the National Security Agency, when they were marked as criminal targets of the US government due to their whistleblower disclosures involving rendition/torture, national security, multi-billion fraud, pervasive institutional corruption, violations of the 1st and 4th Amendments, civil and human rights, illegal surveillance on a vast scale and other unlawful secret government conduct and wrongdoing."

My impression from watching this video was that all of these individuals care deeply about the United States and about the values we are supposed to be upholding. They all tried to work within the system and use the appropriate channels to have some serious issues addressed. I'll let you decide for yourself how successfully that worked out.

It looks like Snowden didn't do this, I'm quite certain he knows that he's at least breaking the letter of the law and he's expressed a desire to have this worked out within the legal system. I don't know his motivations for doing this, but I think it's fair to acknowledge that using the official channels doesn't always work out perfectly.

He did NOT take into account the big-picture view that leaking this stuff could have dire consequences on the safety of other intelligence personnel around the world, or even regular military troops who serve the very nation he claims to be doing this for.

From what I've seen, these documents really don't have any personally identifying information, so I'm not really sure how that would be the case.

Metafilter: obfuscated with daft car analogies
posted by nTeleKy at 10:42 AM on June 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yeah, it seems like so far the worst this could do is damage relations with China.
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:52 AM on June 13, 2013


Good points raised all around, and I appreciate the different viewpoints. I have quite a bit to think about because of this discussion. I'm not making my points very well here, but that's okay.
posted by Thistledown at 11:08 AM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I brought up the high school drop-out thing, and the girlfriend, etc., not in the context of trying to discredit the guy but in wondering how the hell he got such a plum, $200,000 job in the economy of the past few years, especially one with the highest security clearance. It's all pretty incredible. But you've (delmoi) made up your mind about this case, and cannot believe someone might think that, I guess, so whatever.

He deserves to go to prison for the lastest leaks, regardless of his background, girlfriend, etc., and regardless of sparking a conversation with the earlier leaks. I was ambiguous about whether he be charged with anything before, and honestly just baffled and appalled by the whole story. But he plainly broke U.S. law with the latest leaks, and should be prepared to suffer the consequences.
posted by raysmj at 11:11 AM on June 13, 2013


In re: flight to Hong Kong, speaking purely logistically, isn't Hong Kong the closest direct-flight metropolitan hub destination to Hawaii that wouldn't raise flags on a vacation itinerary, immediately take Snowden into custody, and/or hand him back to the US?
posted by FelliniBlank at 11:14 AM on June 13, 2013


I do tire of conspiracy theories, by the way, we have too much of it in the US now. But if ever there were a case where the drawing up of conspiracy theories was completely understandable, it's this one. (I mean "ambivalent" above, by the way.)
posted by raysmj at 11:17 AM on June 13, 2013


I brought up the high school drop-out thing, and the girlfriend, etc., not in the context of trying to discredit the guy

Just to clarify, my comments on that were about CNN et al. harping on those things, not about people mentioning them on MeFi. In other news, Wolf Blitzer just announced, "Raymond Shaw is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I've ever known in my life."
posted by FelliniBlank at 11:20 AM on June 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


That's cool, was addressing delmoi, really, and what I'd written in an earlier thread (including the bit about the "stripper," which I'd initially kind of presumed, based on what I'd read--I don't see any need to make a federal case out of it, and I'm not exactly appalled by the term anyway, am all Whatever when it comes to such things. But military lifers of the sort he was presumably working around generally are not, in my experience, which in part made me wonder how he got such clearance, salary AND access--he was saying he could have gotten into the president's e-mail, remember, such was his access).
posted by raysmj at 11:31 AM on June 13, 2013


I'm a little curious how Mr Snowden plans to pay for his extended vacation in Hong Kong. He's been paid well, for several years apparently, and maybe he lived frugally and saved a bunch. He may be couch surfing now (his new secret location), which will trim costs.

Pretty soon he's going to need a lawyer (or lawyers), but he's resisted the legal defense charity folks have set up for him.

When does he run out of money?
posted by notyou at 11:49 AM on June 13, 2013


NSA Snooping Was Only The Beginning:Meet the Spy Chief Leading Us Into Cyberwar

For the first time, secret court won’t block release of NSA opinion
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:50 AM on June 13, 2013


Edward Snowden and the selective targeting of leaks
posted by homunculus at 12:12 PM on June 13, 2013


Man On The Run: Former CIA spies on what they'd do If they were Snowden
posted by homunculus at 12:20 PM on June 13, 2013


notyou: "I'm a little curious how Mr Snowden plans to pay for his extended vacation in Hong Kong. He's been paid well, for several years apparently, and maybe he lived frugally and saved a bunch."

I'm curious about this too. Presumably his bank accounts have been seized as well, which would make normal savings useless. Bitcoin maybe? This is purely speculation, but it seems like the kind of thing someone as crypto-savvy as Snowden would at least be aware of.
posted by Wemmick at 12:25 PM on June 13, 2013


Presumably his bank accounts have been seized as well

Why do you think this is presumable? I agree that he may not want to use his bank accounts, but since he's not been charged with a crime, what possible basis would there be for seizing his bank accounts?
posted by Unified Theory at 12:58 PM on June 13, 2013


...I worked in signals. In the UK. We would treat any foreign agency as suspicious and likely to want to see UK EYES ONLY stuff, including the NSA. I'm merely projecting a vague sense of professionalism on people in charge of IT and telecoms stuff.
Yes, but we're talking about civilian infrastructure, not anything having to do with the military. Not necessarily anything that would be treated as classified. Just like how the NYT got hacked by the Chinese. They weren't expecting to need that level of security.

Not every government agency treats their stuff as if they are about get hacked.
I'm also not sure it's paranoia/cynicism when the sign above the door on the agency says 'we collect signals intelligence'.
I don't really understand what point you're trying to make. The stuff that got hacked didn't have anything to do with signals intelligence.
Until Snowden divulged the secret program most in Hong Kong assumed that China was to blame for any hacking episodes, according to Simon Shen, co-director of the International Affairs Research Center at Chinese University of Hong Kong.
Snowden named Shen's university as one of hundreds of NSA targets in Hong Kong and mainland China in an interview published in Thursday's edition of the Post, but it was the only one he specifically identified.
Why do you think a university would expect to be hacked by the US government? They may have thought the Chinese government might, and in fact it sounds like many people in HK did think that the Chinese government was behind the hack before the recent revelations.
When I say "everyone else" I am talking about people who are not necessarily dealing with classified or military material, and work in normal, everyday institution.
and are centered around the lack of privacy/data protection in US law when compared to EU and Swedish requirements and the failure of the contract to ensure that Google will privately agree to maintain the higher standard.
Yes, and why is it they can't be sure that Google will follow their privacy law all of a sudden? Could it have something to do with the discovery of PRISM, or do you think it's just a total complete coincidence that they suddenly realized this on June 10th? You don't think the PRSIM revelations had any impact on their thinking? I mean I suppose it's theoretically possible.

When I say that a lot of people are projecting their own paranoia/cynicism what I mean is that people are assuming that everyone else in the world has the same assumptions about governments surveilling them or trying to hack them as you do. Most people in the world do not "deal with signals", most people in the world never see any classified material or expect it to be on their networks, even if they work for a government agency or a university or something like that (Obviously in the US universities might have some interaction with the government on certain types of research)

What I am saying is, a lot of people out there probably are surprised to find this out. They are surprised that google and others might be sharing any data they provide to the NSA, even if it violates local laws. They are surprised that the US might be trying to hack into their civilian systems.
posted by delmoi at 1:05 PM on June 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, he hasn't been charged with a crime yet, so there'd be no authority to claim his bank accounts. And even after he's charged, unless his funds are somehow implicated in the crime, I don't think the government can grab them.

But IANAL, etc, etc.
posted by notyou at 1:07 PM on June 13, 2013


I'm curious about this too. Presumably his bank accounts have been seized as well, which would make normal savings useless. Bitcoin maybe? This is purely speculation, but it seems like the kind of thing someone as crypto-savvy as Snowden would at least be aware of.
...

Why do you think this is presumable? I agree that he may not want to use his bank accounts, but since he's not been charged with a crime, what possible basis would there be for seizing his bank accounts?
He'd be insane if he thought any of his US-based bank accounts would be usable for very long. He might have accounts at other banks under different names, or corporate names or just numbered accounts or something, presumably in Macau would be a good place to do this, from.

Bitcoin might work. It's possible that if he's really into crypto he could have gotten into bitcoin early on and could have a fortune, but in order to sell them you have to either use an exchange, and interact with the banking system (and most exchanges require personal information to sign up) or else you need to sell it in person for cash. People actually do that, but it would be iffy.

The easiest thing for him to do would just have a big wad of cash on him, maybe some gold as well. Obviously there's a big risk of it getting stolen. But there are a lot of risks involved in what he's doing anyway.

People are already protesting on his behalf in Hong Kong, so he may be able to find some supporters to take him in at this point. And, if he is going to be stuck there a long time he can just get a regular IT job, I'm sure someone would hire him (unless they've got something they really don't want leaked, I suppose)
posted by delmoi at 1:15 PM on June 13, 2013


Yeah, he hasn't been charged with a crime yet, so there'd be no authority to claim his bank accounts.
It's pretty easy for them to do it, and if they don't have the authority what is he going to do, sue them?
posted by delmoi at 1:16 PM on June 13, 2013


I don't really understand what point you're trying to make. The stuff that got hacked didn't have anything to do with signals intelligence.

Right.

What signals intelligence is:
"Signals intelligence (often contracted to SIGINT) is intelligence-gathering by interception of signals, whether between people ("communications intelligence"—COMINT), involving electronic signals not directly used in communication ("electronic intelligence"—ELINT), or a combination of the two. As sensitive information is often encrypted, signals intelligence often involves the use of cryptanalysis. Also, traffic analysis—the study of who is signaling whom and in what quantity—can often produce valuable information, even when the messages themselves cannot be decrypted."
Anything that is comms is sigint. Breaking into a system to obtain messages sent over the wire? That's absolutely that.

A quote from Snowden regarding the HK cracks you say are not sigint.
Snowden also said he believes the NSA has launched more than 61,000 hacking operations around the world, with hundreds focused on Hong Kong and mainland China.

"We hack network backbones -- like huge Internet routers, basically -- that give us access to the communications of hundreds of thousands of computers without having to hack every single one," Snowden told the Post. "Last week the American government happily operated in the shadows with no respect for the consent of the governed, but no longer. Every level of society is demanding accountability and oversight."
This is, in fact, classic sigint, in that it is the interception of signals and communications as they transfer over the network.

Yes, and why is it they can't be sure that Google will follow their privacy law all of a sudden? Could it have something to do with the discovery of PRISM, or do you think it's just a total complete coincidence that they suddenly realized this on June 10th? You don't think the PRSIM revelations had any impact on their thinking? I mean I suppose it's theoretically possible.

What you just linked me to, translated:
The contract Salem municipality would subscribe to use Google's cloud service is not enough, says Information Commissioner. Either the shortcomings of the agreement addressed or municipality must stop using the cloud service.

2011 criticized the Data Inspection Salem municipality for its use of a cloud service from Google. The criticism concerned the lack of agreement meant that it did not comply with the rules of the Data Protection Act. The agreement gave Google too much space to process personal data for their own purposes. Moreover, did not the subcontractors who are involved and what happens to personal data when the contract ends.

Salem Municipality was requested to draw up a new agreement. Data Inspection Board has reviewed the new agreement, noting that the previous shortcomings persist.

- Therefore, we must once again submit to the municipality to either remedy the shortcomings of the agreement or to stop using the cloud service, says Ingela Alverfors, lawyer at the Swedish Data Inspection Board.
So no, nothing about that is to do with PRISM, and nothing has changed since 2011 when they didn't know about PRISM. It is, as I have already said twice, to do with the lack of data protection law in the US compared to Sweden and EU law.
posted by jaduncan at 1:20 PM on June 13, 2013


What I am saying is, a lot of people out there probably are surprised to find this out. They are surprised that google and others might be sharing any data they provide to the NSA, even if it violates local laws. They are surprised that the US might be trying to hack into their civilian systems.

It should be noted that these are at this point just claims and not demonstrated or documented. Guardian's reports of his claims cover quite a lot that may or may not be accurate.
posted by nightwood at 1:21 PM on June 13, 2013


Huh. Just found out that Snowden is a fellow Crofton Woods Elementary alumni. He would have been in 1st grade when I was in 6th.

GO WOODCHUCKS!

Of course, this means he was in the area during the Snakehead Fish Terror, so I wonder if the Chinese Conspiracy theorists are on to something...
posted by robocop is bleeding at 3:16 PM on June 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


what possible basis would there be for seizing his bank accounts?

Whatever concocted reason TPTB want.

What's Snowden gonna do? Come back to the US and fight such?

(reminder: this seizing talk is baseless ATM)

It should be noted that these are at this point just claims and not demonstrated or documented. Guardian's reports of his claims cover quite a lot that may or may not be accurate.

Sure - and its only true if a US court has a trial and its presented in an affidavit and is never rebutted.

But what are other criteria you'd need for something to be "true" or a "fact" O wood-n-da-night?
posted by rough ashlar at 3:27 PM on June 13, 2013


Anything that is comms is sigint. Breaking into a system to obtain messages sent over the wire? That's absolutely that.
...
This is, in fact, classic sigint, in that it is the interception of signals and communications as they transfer over the network.
No shit! I honestly have no idea what you are even trying to say at this point. This is not about the NSA and what they do, this is about what kind of expectations people around the world have about whether or not they are going to be hacked into.

You originally said:
Government agencies and private company security people are supposed to be suspicious, and to assume that capabilities may be utilised and should be assumed to be so. There's a reason esoteric security holes are often discussed with a phrase something along the lines of 'probably only practically exploitable by a nation state adversary'.
What I am saying is that most people would not assume that they are going to be hacked by the NSA. Why would a university assume that the US government is going to try to hack into their network?

In order for something "exploitable by a nation-state adversary" to be a concern, people have to think that they have a nation-state adversary. Many people around the world are not going to think, or at least before these leaks came out, didn't think that the US government was their adversary.

Now, you say that's naïve, and apparently that is naïve. But there is no reason to think that someone working at, for example, a university is just going to assume (at least before last week) that the US government is going to be trying to hack into their systems.

You keep saying this is the kind of thing the NSA does. Well obviously this is the kind of thing the NSA does. What is surprising for people is that the NSA has been doing it to them because they did not thing that the US government was an adversary of theirs.

___

Again, look at how upset people were when the Mandient report on Chinese hacking in the US came out. People were shocked and outraged. If you go back to the threads I said I thought it was no big deal and that we were probably doing the same back to them (And obviously I was right!) However, people in general and all over the media were shocked.

Why are you surprised that people in Hong Kong, or around the world wouldn't feel the same way about having proof that the US is doing the same thing?

And by the way, suspecting something might be true is hugely different having something be documented and known by everyone to be true. Even if people did harbor a suspicion the US might try to do this, people are still going to be outraged. Perhaps simply because of the fact that they trusted the US government.
posted by delmoi at 3:46 PM on June 13, 2013


Why do you think this is presumable? I agree that he may not want to use his bank accounts, but since he's not been charged with a crime, what possible basis would there be for seizing his bank accounts?

My vague memory was that financial institutions were pretty trigger-happy in freezing Wikileaks accounts despite them not being charged with a crime. I don't know if anything was openly officially seized, but I assume some was for-all-intents-and-purposes-seized (in the sense of "good luck ever getting it back...")
posted by anonymisc at 4:35 PM on June 13, 2013


My vague memory was that financial institutions were pretty trigger-happy in freezing Wikileaks accounts despite them not being charged with a crime.

Private business VS government. Private business can do what it wants once one signs a contract.

And as I've not seen this:
the 127 page security form one is expected to fill out.
posted by rough ashlar at 4:46 PM on June 13, 2013


What I am saying is that most people would not assume that they are going to be hacked by the NSA. Why would a university assume that the US government is going to try to hack into their network?

Because they have valuable research data, and that would be of interest to third parties. They have a lot of students communicating, and the contents and metadata of that communication would be of interest to third parties.

What is surprising for people is that the NSA has been doing it to them because they did not thing that the US government was an adversary of theirs.

Then they have not thought about security very deeply, as no intelligence agency will ever turn away extra information sources.

I think that private citizens can be expected to be surprised, and that's fine. I think that if people in charge of network security for anything valuable are surprised that various actors including state intelligence services are attempting to compromise their traffic and information then they are not very smart, as this should be the base assumption.

I therefore don't agree that this disclosure changes much save for public opinion. Is that clear enough?
posted by jaduncan at 4:52 PM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


U.S. Fears Edward Snowden May Defect to China: Sources
U.S. intelligence officials on the trail of rogue contractor Edward Snowden are now treating the National Security Agency leak case as a possible foreign espionage matter, raising fears that the 29-year-old computer whiz may be attempting to defect to China with a trove of America's most sensitive secrets, according to U.S. officials.
posted by BobbyVan at 5:49 PM on June 13, 2013


Because they have valuable research data, and that would be of interest to third parties. They have a lot of students communicating, and the contents and metadata of that communication would be of interest to third parties.
That explains why they might be concerned about being hacked by "third parties." That does not explain why they would expect to be hacked by the US government

Like I said, you may, personally believe that the US government routinely steals whatever information isn't nailed down all over the world. However, that has nothing to do with what other people think. My point is that, at least before last week, there were actually likely a lot of people who didn't think that the US government was raiding servers across the world civilian or not, maybe they actually believed them when they said they didn't do it.

Do you understand what I'm saying? It's not a question of what the NSA did do, it's not a question of what people thought "third parties" might do, it's not a question of what people thought the US was capable of. It's a question of what people thought the US was actually doing.

The problem here is that you seem to think everyone thought that the US was spying on everyone. That turns out to have been the case, but I think a lot of people dismissed that kind of thing as paranoid nonsense. Both inside the US and outside.
posted by delmoi at 6:12 PM on June 13, 2013


FBI sharply increases use of Patriot Act provision to collect US citizens' records
The FBI has dramatically increased its use of a controversial provision of the Patriot Act to secretly obtain a vast store of business records of U.S. citizens under President Barack Obama, according to recent Justice Department reports to Congress. The bureau filed 212 requests for such data to a national security court last year – a 1,000-percent increase from the number of such requests four years earlier, the reports show.
posted by BobbyVan at 6:13 PM on June 13, 2013


The bureau filed 212 requests for such data
I love how that seems like such a small number. Yet, now we know there request to Verizon, for example was for ALL THE DATA.

So it wasn't 212 specific requests, it was 212 requests that could have been as expansive as "ALL THE DATA YOU HAVE"
posted by delmoi at 6:17 PM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Woz Compares the Cloud and PRISM To Communist Russia
posted by homunculus at 6:54 PM on June 13, 2013


Why would a university assume that the US government is going to try to hack into their network?

And if it were a US university, it would in fact have good reason to assume the US government would try hard NOT to hack into its network since the US government purports to have a strong interest in protecting student data privacy. Well, the legislative branch does, which I guess doesn't matter one iota to the NSA.

I can get into big-ass trouble for posting a list of 20 people's quiz grades with last names on my office door, but it's perfectly fine for the NSA to suck up great gobs of protected info? Swell.
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:58 PM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


212 requests that could have been as expansive as "ALL THE DATA YOU HAVE"

"I'm worried what you just heard was 'Give me a lot of bacon and eggs.' What I said was 'Give me all the bacon and eggs you have.' Do you understand?"
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 10:38 PM on June 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Officials: Edward Snowden took NSA secrets on thumb drive

I think Snowden and Manning deserve medals for showing how utterly, utterly clueless the USAn security services are. A thumb drive?! How did he get it in there? How did he get it out? And most importantly: what did he plug it into? Why would anyone with access to secure data be allowed to bring a storage device inside? Why would NSA computers have open USB ports?

To put this in terms that the USA administration would comprehend: Snowden did the equivalent of driving a buggy loaded with stenographers into the NSA. If he could bring his stenographers in and out then we must assume anyone else might have done the same. Who knows what records may have been copied, what documents may have been corrupted? Elementary system security would require that no stenographers are to be admitted into the NSA without particular authority; that if admitted they are to operate in rooms separate from the archives; and that their persons be checked for documents upon entry and exit. Also, the supply of paper, ink, and nibs must be strictly controlled.
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:38 PM on June 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


An Open (Of Course) Letter to My Friend, the NSA

Times are changing, though. For the past several generations, you’ve been the rulers of all information, with no one to challenge you. Americans just had to trust that the good quiet folk at the NSA were looking out for them, because no one else could handle data on such a large scale. It was a simpler time, back when the Internet was young and the Web was just a seed of an idea, and our idea of “big data” was the Yellow Pages.

There are new kids in town, though; kids who grew up on data. They were raised to dish out and take in as much data as possible, and they do it for fun. To you, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and all the rest of it are the latest places from which to siphon information. To these new kids, it’s home. It’s where they grew up, which is why they’re much better at it, and why you hire so many of them.

Now, what happens when you raise a generation on a steady diet of data, and then try to keep naughty secrets? They’re going to ask questions. They grew up in a world where information was free, and they took advantage of that fact. They learned more about the world around them than could ever be learned in school, and they went online for the answers to the questions their parents and teachers wouldn’t answer. They grew up not just appreciating that information was free, but expecting information to be free.

It gets worse. Not only are you hiring millennials, for whom secrecy is anathema—you’re hiring millennial hackers. And hacking, as you well know, means finding ways of turning technology to serve a purpose other than its intended one. When information isn’t free, these people have the ability and the will to free it.

I know this because I’m one of them. I may not have top-secret clearance and make six figures working for one of your contractors, but Edward Snowden’s demographic profile still hits close to home. When I was a boy, I used to hack into my computer games to add fart sounds to them. I built my own computers. I made my sister’s Teddy Ruxpin say horrible, horrible things. When I get a new phone, its hackability is its number-one buying point.

When I get my hands on a new piece of technology, my first thought isn’t about what it can do—it’s about what it can’t do, and how can I force it to overcome its limitations to do what I want. I then wonder, “Why wasn’t I ‘allowed’ to do this in the first place?” See, we millennial hackers simply cannot take anything at face value. We’re a bit contrarian and stubborn by nature. It’s why we’re good at what we do. The more constraints you place on us (be they workplace, physical, technological, or copyright) the more we feel a need to disregard, challenge, or overcome those constraints.

To be a hacker is to be cynical about whatever “solid” information or limits you’re faced with, to remove layers of consumer sheen or government spin until raw components are laid bare to reconstruct at will. You reward people like me with fat salaries when we do this with technology, so there’s little sense in expecting us not do the same in the rest of our lives—with your policies, rules, information, even with our own personal lives. We tinker, probe, deconstruct, and reassemble for other purposes. One thing we don’t do is blindly put hand to heart and sing “God Bless, America” —unless we’re in a North Korean gulag and it’s a contrarian move.

Do you see the problem? You need my kind of people for our understanding of data, but we don’t necessarily want or need you. You are anathema to our values and expectations. Sure, you’ve got some very smart graybeards who can do some amazing things, but they’re not going to be the bulk of your army for long, if they even still are. You have no choice but to keep hiring these hackers who didn’t grow up having data hidden from them. It’s ironic that you’ve become so reliant on people who really have no business in a tight-lipped, hierarchical quasi-militarized institution. We are the ones you should be snooping on, if only you could snoop without us.

I feel your pain.

posted by infini at 2:35 AM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


A thumb drive?!

I can't write to a thumb drive at work. I could email client data out, but then at least the NSA would know about it.
posted by pompomtom at 4:15 AM on June 14, 2013


A thumb drive?! How did he get it in there? How did he get it out? And most importantly: what did he plug it into? Why would anyone with access to secure data be allowed to bring a storage device inside? Why would NSA computers have open USB ports?

70-odd years of spy books and movies have given people the impression that intelligence and defense agencies are competent, skilled, precise. The best of the best. Hopefully people are now coming to realize this is bullshit - they aren't even as careful as private companies that have profit/trade secret motives behind their security.
posted by Jimbob at 4:21 AM on June 14, 2013


nTeleKy: "Metafilter: obfuscated with daft car analogies"

You got /. in my Metafilter!
posted by Samizdata at 5:18 AM on June 14, 2013


U.S. Agencies Said to Swap Data With Thousands of Firms
Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), the world’s largest software company, provides intelligence agencies with information about bugs in its popular software before it publicly releases a fix, according to two people familiar with the process. That information can be used to protect government computers and to access the computers of terrorists or military foes.
posted by ryoshu at 5:33 AM on June 14, 2013


And now we learn that the Communist Party Organ The Global Times says China should keep Snowden to learn about US Intelligence capabilities. Wonder if he'll give the data he has to the Chi-Coms. Wonder what Glenn Greenwald would say then?
posted by Ironmouth at 7:53 AM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Who Decides What's Secret: Obama, or Snowden?
Rahul Sagar is an assistant professor of politics at Princeton University. His book "Secrets and Leaks" will be published by Princeton University Press in August.
The first thing to bear in mind is that employees such as Snowden volunteer to be entrusted with classified information. When they disclose secrets, they are violating the trust that they have asked to be placed in themselves. And they are public employees (even if they happen to be contractors rather than permanent employees).

This means that when they disclose secrets, they are disobeying not only their supervisors, but also the public, whose representatives have enacted laws and regulations relating to the handling of classified information.

Finally, it is not personal secrets that these employees are revealing but state secrets. As such, their actions endanger their fellow citizens when they undermine security operations. In sum, when a government employee makes an unauthorized disclosure he is violating trust, disobeying the law and potentially endangering others. These are points worth absorbing before cheering on leakers and whistle-blowers as "patriots."

This does not mean that an employee can never be justified in making an unauthorized disclosure. An employee could uncover activity so heinous that he feels confident that citizens and overseers would want to know about it so that they could punish the wrongdoers. This could be activity that is obviously criminal or clearly immoral.

An example would be the inhumane practices employed at Abu Ghraib prison...

...to refuse now to submit to the law, to flee overseas, as Snowden has done, is to show contempt for democracy and the rule of law. If an employee believes that he has broken the law for reasons that his fellow citizens will understand, then he ought to be willing to take his chances before a jury (as in the Bradley Manning case).
posted by Golden Eternity at 8:03 AM on June 14, 2013


Chi-coms? Are you channeling Rush Limbaugh?
posted by JackFlash at 8:04 AM on June 14, 2013 [8 favorites]


So the US files for extradition. And Snowden gets arrested. So what are the odds that Communist Chinese agents just let those 4 laptops and the thumb drive just sit there and don't take data from them? But Glenn Greenwald insists there's no damage to US security interests!
posted by Ironmouth at 8:05 AM on June 14, 2013


"Chi-state capitalists" just doesn't have the same ring to it.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:21 AM on June 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Chi-coms? Are you channeling Rush Limbaugh?

I just think its a funny way to say that--highlights the fact that this man took these documents to the geopolitical rival of the United States--a geopolitical rivial with near zero freedoms and an all-pervasive survelliance state. They don't listen to your telephones there. They bug your homes.

And this data is safe? And the Chinese won't get this? And Greenwald insists there's no need to worry about the US security position being undermined? Really? The HK police aren't going to use this data? Really? Up is down.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:21 AM on June 14, 2013


And now we learn that the Communist Party Organ The Global Times says China should keep Snowden to learn about US Intelligence capabilities.

Could you provide a link or citation for this claim? I looked through their website and did not find anything to confirm this. Thank you.
posted by yertledaturtle at 8:24 AM on June 14, 2013


And now we learn that the Communist Party Organ The Global Times says China should keep Snowden to learn about US Intelligence capabilities.

Could you provide a link or citation for this claim? I looked through their website and did not find anything to confirm this. Thank you.


http://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/china-newspaper-snowden-could-be-useful-to-china.php?ref=fpblg
posted by Ironmouth at 8:29 AM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


And this data is safe?

This data is clearly not safe. If Snowden could walk out with a thumbdrive and four laptops' worth of precious state secrets -- with nobody the wiser until Greenwald published it -- anybody could. That's not Snowden's fault. It's the fault of the folks currently running and overseeing the nation's security apparatus.
posted by notyou at 8:31 AM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just think its a funny way to say that--highlights the fact that this man took these documents to the geopolitical rival of the United States--a geopolitical rivial with near zero freedoms and an all-pervasive survelliance state. They don't listen to your telephones there. They bug your homes.

It depends on what you mean by "communism." I don't think socialism should be considered a "geopolitical rival" to the U.S. It always bothers me when people talk about the cold war in terms of communism vs democracy. That is a category error. It should be Stalinism vs democracy. But China *seems* to be moving in a good direction away from Stalinism towards more openness and democracy. I suspect there are higher ups in the PLA and Chinese government where the name "Chi-Stalinist" might be appropriate. We don't want them to win the struggle for China's future, and what Snowden is doing is not helpful, imo.
posted by Golden Eternity at 8:31 AM on June 14, 2013


And now we learn that the Communist Party Organ The Global Times says China should keep Snowden to learn about US Intelligence capabilities. Wonder if he'll give the data he has to the Chi-Coms. Wonder what Glenn Greenwald would say then?

Maybe instead of focusing on security theater you could ask some more interesting questions. Like why is our country, a democracy, exhibiting many elements that we have found in almost every totalitarian regime throughout history? We now have torture, imprisonment without recourse to courts, aggressive invasions of other countries, assassination, and now the apparently blanket surveillance of everyone everywhere. Not to mention the massive prison population consisting mostly of a minority class of people.

In the past there has at least been the pretense of an accounting (i.e. the Iran Contra hearings or the Church Committee), but it seems to me that in the last 12 years our nation has incorporated and codified all of the above activities into the U.S. Code. Now we talk about oversight, as if Congress overseeing assassination programs, indefinite detentions, and blanket surveillance is somehow just another day at the office....well I guess it is now, isn't it...

But hey given that our leaders are assassinating people and throwing them in Black sites and prisions without trials I guess we should just let them mine the most intimate details of our lives. No recipe for disaster here, move along, move along. Yep the most important thing to worry about here is if the "security interests" of the U.S. have been compromised.

It would be interesting if some of the pro surveillance folks would engage on the actual issues instead of the Snowden sideshow. Of course this will not happen because they won't have leg to stand on when confronting the history of state surveillance in this country. Furthermore if one actually acquaints oneself with the history surrounding this issue one will quickly realize that when private citizens "security interests" are compromised by the government abuses are soon to follow.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 8:39 AM on June 14, 2013 [8 favorites]


That's not Snowden's fault. It's the fault of the folks currently running and overseeing the nation's security apparatus.

So let me get this straight. It is not Edward Snowden's fault that he walked out with a ton of data to China, with a big need for this data?

Up is down. Edward Snowden did not have to leave the country. He did not have to turn over the data. He did not have to do any of this. He did this of his own volition.

Up is down.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:41 AM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Snowden’s Leaks on China Could Affect Its Role in His Fate
The South China Morning Post, a local newspaper, reported on Friday that Edward J. Snowden, the contractor, had shared detailed data showing the dates and Internet Protocol addresses of specific computers in mainland China and Hong Kong that the National Security Agency penetrated over the last four years. The data also showed whether the agency was still breaking into these computers, the success rates for hacking and other operational information.
[...]
Kevin Egan, a former prosecutor here who has represented people fighting extradition to the United States, said that Mr. Snowden’s latest disclosures would make it harder for him to fight an expected request by the United States for him to be turned over to American law enforcement. “He’s digging his own grave with a very large spade,” he said.
posted by Golden Eternity at 8:41 AM on June 14, 2013


Chi-coms? Are you channeling Rush Limbaugh?

I just think its a funny way to say that


When you start to think that Rush Limbaugh is funny, it might be time to take a break.
posted by JackFlash at 8:48 AM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


The FBI has dramatically increased its use of a controversial provision of the Patriot Act to secretly obtain a vast store of business records of U.S. citizens under President Barack Obama

To be fair, though, they're probably just doing that so they can finally prosecute all of those crooked people in the financial firms, right?
posted by nTeleKy at 8:50 AM on June 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


You've gotten it crooked, but that's not surprising.

Lemme try again to straighten you out: The data is not safe. Anybody could have walked off with it.

Which is the greater risk to national security (and individual privacy) -- the one guy who stole the secrets and blabbed about it to the press? Or the lax operational security and oversight that let the secrets get away?
posted by notyou at 8:51 AM on June 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


MOAR SECURITY!
posted by infini at 8:51 AM on June 14, 2013


Wait a minute, there's nobody left to watch.
posted by infini at 8:51 AM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was suspicious of that Global Times quote, too. I couldn't find the original article on their site, but I did find it on Sina. Basically, it says Snowden may have more information about US espionage/hacking in China, and the Chinese government should find out what he knows instead of just handing him over to the US in the name of better US-China relations.
posted by bradf at 8:52 AM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


The foreigner angle is aimed at pacifying the US media and their public. Unfortunately, as an Indian national, who uses Google, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft services and products all the time, this is a poor consolation to me – in fact, these revelations of the last week would unnerve and alarm every single individual who is not a citizen of the US.

Over the years, companies like Google have created an aura that they are true multinational firms. They deal in services that reside on WWW, a world without boundaries, and while they operate under the local laws of each country, they often take the lead in fighting for the privacy of their users, irrespective of where they were located. Or so it appeared.

These are the companies that gave the impression that they often put, or at least try to put, ethical and moral considerations above the absolute legal requirements they may have to follow. They have always maintained that they do the right thing.

[...]

In the wake of last week’s revelations, it is not difficult to get the impression that incidents like the Chinese pullout and the grandstanding over freedom of speech are more of a public relations exercise.

The image that technology companies created has been so strong that we have trusted them with our intimate secrets. Google and Facebook probably know more about us than even our parents or families. We have recorded every moment of our lives and shared them with technology companies through mails, social media updates, photos, videos, and smartphones. We did it because we trusted them. We didn’t believe that just because these companies are headquartered in Silicon Valley, they would share each and every piece of data with the US government (or some other government) —even if they were legally bound to do that through overarching, broad, secretive and unethical laws.

We trusted technology companies to do the “right thing” and not the “legal thing”. We even cheered when they did the right thing, like defying the government of Egypt by standing up for the activists in 2011, in countries that we believed had oppressive governments.

This trust has been the biggest casualty of the leaks over the last week. It reveals that despite “foreigners” making up for more than 80% of their user base, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple and others remain US companies first. When asked to cough up inordinate amount of personal data of their unsuspecting clients, they do not stand up to the US government, the way they do in India or some other country. When facing mass surveillance, they do not pullout of the US.

They only do the “right thing” when they are operating outside the US.

It seems Silicon Valley companies do not respect the rights of the users who are foreigners. They only respect the privacy of the US citizens.
via The Times of India
posted by infini at 9:12 AM on June 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


NSA leaker Snowden is lying, say leaders of House Intelligence Committee

The NSA leaker is lying about both his access to information and the scope of the secret surveillance programs he uncovered, the heads of the House Intelligence Committee charged Thursday.

So, either a) Snowden is lying or b) he is huge threat to our national security.
posted by yertledaturtle at 9:15 AM on June 14, 2013


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.”

Sounds like this guy has some dirt on well...everyone.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:20 AM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just think its a funny way to say that--highlights the fact that this man took these documents to the geopolitical rival of the United States--a geopolitical rivial with near zero freedoms and an all-pervasive survelliance state. They don't listen to your telephones there. They bug your homes.

Someone plainly knows nothing about Hong Kong, which has rule of law based on British law. If the HK authorities bug anyone's home or tap anyone's phone they are required to first get a warrant from a magistrate. Zero freedoms? Every June 4, over 100,000 people hit the street to commemorate the 1989 Beijing Tienanmen Square massacre. An all pervasive surveillance state? Based on what Snowden revealed, that's back in the USA and its phone surveillance. But Hong Kong? If there is all pervasive surveillance it appears to be by US PRISM, which is reported to monitor ALL HK Internet traffic.

You might want to check out 'Hong Kong' in Wikipedia before you spout out any more nonsense.
posted by Mister Bijou at 9:22 AM on June 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm pretty sure ironmouth was referring to mainland China, not Hong Kong.
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:38 AM on June 14, 2013


Someone plainly knows nothing about Hong Kong, which has rule of law based on British law.

China owns Hong Kong. It has veto power over what it does. And we are to believe that the US government is doing terrible things its not telling us about, but China is just totally hands off in HK and won't use its intelligence apparatus to get this information because, what?

Please. I'm fully aware of "one country, two systems." I'm also aware that despite protests being allowed, that it isn't turning out to be the rosy situation it was painted as.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:48 AM on June 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's very late in the day here. Goodnight.
posted by Mister Bijou at 9:51 AM on June 14, 2013


New Greenwald: On PRISM, partisanship and propaganda

The most vocal media critics of our NSA reporting, and the most vehement defenders of NSA surveillance, have been, by far, Democratic (especially Obama-loyal) pundits. As I've written many times, one of the most significant aspects of the Obama legacy has been the transformation of Democrats from pretend-opponents of the Bush War on Terror and National Security State into their biggest proponents

-
Biden also rejected Bush's defense (exactly the argument Obama is making now) - that "we're not listening to the phone calls, we're just looking for patterns" - by saying this:

I don't have to listen to your phone calls to know what you're doing. If I know every single phone call you made, I'm able to determine every single person you talked to. I can get a pattern about your life that is very, very intrusive. . . . If it's true that 200 million Americans' phone calls were monitored - in terms of not listening to what they said, but to whom they spoke and who spoke to them - I don't know, the Congress should investigative this."

posted by Drinky Die at 9:55 AM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


And let us be clear. The People's Liberation Army Hong Kong Garrison contains a battalion of military intelligence troops. As the force responsible for the external defense of Hong Kong and answerable to the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:12 AM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Bills would clip NSA's wings on phone data
Sens. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), are pitching a bill that would require a demonstrated link to terrorists or international spies for the intelligence community to collect phone call data.

And Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) dropped a bill late Thursday much in harmony with the Udall-Wyden legislation, although it goes further by squashing the assumption that people “known to” suspected spies or terrorists are relevant to data-mining investigations.
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:29 AM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Stockman (R-Texas 36) Tuesday asked the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee to subpoena all National Security Agency records of phone calls between employees of the White House and the Internal Revenue Service.

Stockman’s office hand delivered a letter Tuesday afternoon to the Committee’s office requesting a subpoena “of all records of every phone call made from all public and private telephones of all IRS personnel to all public and private telephones of all White House personnel” collected under the NSA’s recently-revealed PRISM program.

posted by Drinky Die at 10:31 AM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Stockman’s office hand delivered a letter Tuesday afternoon to the Committee’s office requesting a subpoena “of all records of every phone call made from all public and private telephones of all IRS personnel to all public and private telephones of all White House personnel” collected under the NSA’s recently-revealed PRISM program.

It's good to see that Stockman is actively working to maintain his stature as one of the dumbest members of Congress.
posted by nightwood at 10:43 AM on June 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yeah, but I wish my rep could troll half as well.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:54 AM on June 14, 2013


Stockman's certainly entertaining, even by Texas standards, but like Michele Bachmann, crazy doesn't really translate well into accomplishments.
posted by nightwood at 10:59 AM on June 14, 2013


Charles Pierce: The Snowden Effect, Cont'd
posted by homunculus at 11:15 AM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Stockman’s office hand delivered a letter Tuesday afternoon to the Committee’s office requesting a subpoena “of all records of every phone call made from all public and private telephones of all IRS personnel to all public and private telephones of all White House personnel” collected under the NSA’s recently-revealed PRISM program.

It's good to see that Stockman is actively working to maintain his stature as one of the dumbest members of Congress.


Not dumb. His constituents won't know PRISM pertains to overseas targets only. So he "asks the tough questions" but doesn't have to deal with the reality that there's no there there.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:23 AM on June 14, 2013


The Verizon FISA request applied to all communications "between the United States and abroad" and "wholly within the United States".

He's muddying the waters badly by mislabelling that surveillance as "PRISM". But the Verizon leak certainly does indicate that for domestic phonecall metadata collection there is very definitely a there there.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:37 AM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


He's muddying the waters badly by mislabelling that surveillance as "PRISM". But the Verizon leak certainly does indicate that for domestic phonecall metadata collection there is very definitely a there there.

Yes, and by demanding they search that data for all the public and private phone numbers of WH and IRS personnel - from a data set that does not include personal information seems to be suggesting that Stockman demand that they break the law, go counter to the FISA order and do what is seemly expressly against the 4th amendment. A scholar he is not.
posted by nightwood at 11:43 AM on June 14, 2013


The Verizon FISA request applied to all communications "between the United States and abroad" and "wholly within the United States".

He's muddying the waters badly by mislabelling that surveillance as "PRISM". But the Verizon leak certainly does indicate that for domestic phonecall metadata collection there is very definitely a there there.


To be clear, I'm talking about the IRS scandal for "there there." He's looking to find some sort of data that proves Obama was targeting right wing organizations.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:56 AM on June 14, 2013


One link to all the pages for the Wired / Bamford piece on General Alexander and the NSA that AElfwine Evenstar posted above.
posted by bukvich at 12:42 PM on June 14, 2013


China Could Supplant U.S. as the Supercomputing Superpower
posted by homunculus at 1:25 PM on June 14, 2013


Pentagon bracing for public dissent over climate and energy shocks: NSA Prism is motivated in part by fears that environmentally-linked disasters could spur anti-government activism
posted by homunculus at 1:37 PM on June 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


Gawker: Naomi Wolf Is a Snowden Truther
Naomi Wolf—the author, Thought Leader, and political consultant/non-consultant—has been following the story of Edward Snowden, and she has decided to share her thoughts on Facebook. Specifically, Wolf wishes to convey her "creeping concern" that Snowden "is not who he purports to be." Who is he, then? Signs point to his being one of them. You know: THEM.
posted by BobbyVan at 2:05 PM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


U.S. Agencies Said to Swap Data With Thousands of Firms
posted by homunculus at 3:05 PM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


From the US Agencies said to swap data with thousands of firms article:

Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft (MSFT) and other software or Internet security companies have been aware that this type of early alert allowed the U.S. to exploit vulnerabilities in software sold to foreign governments, according to two U.S. officials. Microsoft doesn’t ask and can’t be told how the government uses such tip-offs, said the officials, who asked not to be identified because the matter is confidential.

This is INSANE. Microsoft is selling software to customers (foreign governments), then telling the US government about vulnerabilities in that same software so that the vulnerabilities can be exploited at the expense of Microsoft's customers.

No matter what your national loyalties are, that is shitty and if there's any justice, should result in Microsoft being sued by these governments for all it is worth.

Microsoft is a business. It should not be an arm of our covert intelligence operations. Un-fucking-believable!
posted by Unified Theory at 4:26 PM on June 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


I never trusted this guy
posted by nightwood at 4:35 PM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


No matter what your national loyalties are, that is shitty and if there's any justice, should result in Microsoft being sued by these governments for all it is worth.

Microsoft is an American corporation. Expecting it to not help American defense institutions makes little sense.

This is spying. This is what spies do.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:21 PM on June 14, 2013


I wish American corporations were as happy to patriotically pay more taxes.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:29 PM on June 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


jaduncan wrote: Aside from signal strength data, what's the technical impossibility?

There's nothing to "triangulate" unless the person is on a call on a 3G network or the network is doing the silly things it does to force a phone to transmit when a location fix is requested. In my city, the vast majority of cell sectors cover more than a square mile of area, so a person's location can only be tracked back (presuming the carriers are logging and retaining every cell ID you register to, which is almost certain) to that fairly course location.

On at&t and T-Mobile, which use U-TDOA to get accurate locations for E911 purposes (and the location-based services they try to sell you), accurate fixes require a significant amount of traffic. More than about 20 fixes/second/site and you run out of room on the control channels.

Don't get me wrong, it's certainly feasible to track targeted individuals this way, and I would be surprised if it's not being done at all, but to do it on the wide scale that some have posited isn't possible at present.
posted by wierdo at 5:34 PM on June 14, 2013


Microsoft is not an American corporation. It is a publicly traded publicly owned multinational corporation. If they can make more money doing so they will move the entire kit, kaboodle, &c. to Bangalore, the Bahamas, or Bahrain.
posted by bukvich at 6:46 PM on June 14, 2013


Microsoft is an American corporation. Expecting it to not help American defense institutions makes little sense.

This is spying. This is what spies do.


Uh yeah, this is what spies do, but companies to their customers?
posted by Unified Theory at 6:49 PM on June 14, 2013


Leaked: NSA's Talking Points Defending NSA Surveillance
posted by homunculus at 6:51 PM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why The Tech Industry Should Be Furious About NSA's Over Surveillance
posted by homunculus at 6:51 PM on June 14, 2013


Why The Tech Industry Should Be Furious About NSA's Over Surveillance

That seems incredibly simplistic and ill-informed. Every country has their version of PRISM.
posted by nightwood at 7:04 PM on June 14, 2013


>: "Pentagon bracing for public dissent over climate and energy shocks: NSA Prism is motivated in part by fears that environmentally-linked disasters could spur anti-government activism."
"Such fears were further solidified in a detailed 2010 study by the US Joint Forces Command - designed to inform "joint concept development and experimentation throughout the Department of Defense" - setting out the US military's definitive vision for future trends and potential global threats. Climate change, the study said, would lead to increased risk of:

"... tsunamis, typhoons, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and other natural catastrophes... Furthermore, if such a catastrophe occurs within the United States itself - particularly when the nation's economy is in a fragile state or where US military bases or key civilian infrastructure are broadly affected - the damage to US security could be considerable." (empasis mine)
Would lead to. WOULD. But hey, there are people who believe these events are caused teh gais so let's not do anything.

I have no problem laying this at the feet of John McCain. By selecting Sarah Palin as his running mate he legitimized the fringe and spawned an industry of politicians, lobbyists, and media personalities who are well-paid to pander to them and give them a voice in the national debate.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:05 PM on June 14, 2013


I told you so: http://www.examiner.com/article/anonymous-trolls-nsa-with-keywords-of-terror-disables-website

(#OpTrollTheNSA).
posted by eggtooth at 7:09 PM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


This means that when they disclose secrets, they are disobeying not only their supervisors, but also the public, whose representatives have enacted laws and regulations relating to the handling of classified information.
This idea that "the public" has somehow handed over all their autonomy to their "representatives" in the government is one of the most ridiculous arguments to come out of this, you see it over and over again, and it's ridiculous. You can't "entrust" someone to do something if they don't tell you they're doing it and you have no way of finding out.
to refuse now to submit to the law, to flee overseas, as Snowden has done, is to show contempt for democracy and the rule of law.
Yes, the version of "democracy" where the people never get to know what it is the people they elect are actually doing, I guess they're supposed to vote based on their impressions of the candidate's personality, or something? And their only choices are people who corporations and the wealthy are willing to finance. These people have a vision of "democracy" where the people's votes are just a blind rubber stamp for whatever policies the powerful want to implement in secret. There can't be a democratic check on those policies if they don't know about.

What is it you think people are even choosing between if they don't actually get to know what the government is doing?

It's like a joke or something. These people are the ones with a contempt for true democracy.
I suspect there are higher ups in the PLA and Chinese government where the name "Chi-Stalinist" might be appropriate. We don't want them to win the struggle for China's future, and what Snowden is doing is not helpful, imo.
It's helpful for us. Who cares about China? It's not our problem.
Yes, and by demanding they search that data for all the public and private phone numbers of WH and IRS personnel - from a data set that does not include personal information seems to be suggesting that Stockman demand that they break the law, go counter to the FISA order and do what is seemly expressly against the 4th amendment. A scholar he is not.
Phone records aren't protected by the 4th amendment. Various posters have gone to great lengths to remind everyone of that over and over again.

___
Microsoft is an American corporation. Expecting it to not help American defense institutions makes little sense.
If it makes little sense then why would anyone in any other country every buy their products. They wouldn't.
This is spying. This is what spies do.
Most people wouldn't actively purchase anything that gave foreign governments direct access to their data, or even willingly use free services. You seem completely oblivious to the fact that people in other countries might not actually want the NSA spying on them and certainly aren't going to pay money to allow it.
posted by delmoi at 7:21 PM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Retired Federal Judge: Your Faith In Secret Surveillance Court Is Dramatically Misplaced

She cautioned:

As a former Article III judge, I can tell you that your faith in the FISA Court is dramatically misplaced.

Two reasons: One … The Fourth Amendment frameworks have been substantially diluted in the ordinary police case. One can only imagine what the dilution is in a national security setting. Two, the people who make it on the FISA court, who are appointed to the FISA court, are not judges like me. Enough said. ...

posted by yertledaturtle at 7:47 PM on June 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


Most people wouldn't actively purchase anything that gave foreign governments direct access to their data, or even willingly use free services.

Taken to the extreme, that means no network use at all. Which, for the sufficiently paranoid, is the right way to go.
posted by nightwood at 7:52 PM on June 14, 2013


The influence of spies has become too much. It's time politicians said no

John le Carré on secret courts, surveillance and the excessive influence of the CIA and MI6 on democratic institutions
posted by yertledaturtle at 8:50 PM on June 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


Taken to the extreme, that means no network use at all. Which, for the sufficiently paranoid, is the right way to go.
Right, but the key there is "sufficiently paranoid" The NSA would never be able to spy on the Unibomber, for example, the guy made his own screws for his bombs. Pretty much everyone would have heard someone suggest that the NSA might be able to spy on everyone all the time, but I think most people would dismiss that as being paranoid, they would have trusted the government to be relatively honest and so on.

That turned out to be mistaken, and the "paranoid" people turned out to have been correct. I certainly thought that they NSA (or whoever) would have had the capacity to do this kind of thing if they wanted too, and I thought, and I think most people would have figured somewhere like China, sure. I think everyone understands that in a country like Iran or China or whatever that the government would be accessing all this information if they had enough money to spend on data centers and network equipment.
posted by delmoi at 9:23 PM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


We have not seen evidence that the NSA is "able to spy on everyone all the time". In fact, it's very strange that more evidence has not been released. Quite a lot of claims, innuendo, guessing, etc.

But frankly, of all the claims made (and so far not backed up by any evidence), Snowden's claim to his wide access to data should be what scares us the most. That claim suggests almost criminal incompetence on the part of the NSA.

I don't understand, though, why the Guardian and WaPo have not released any more of the thousands of documents stolen.
posted by nightwood at 9:47 PM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


But frankly, of all the claims made (and so far not backed up by any evidence), Snowden's claim to his wide access to data should be what scares us the most.
That's obviously a problem, but there are a lot of problems. That said, how can you build an IT system that doesn't allow IT people to access the data that's supposed to flow through their systems? You would have to build something that worked perfectly and never needed any maintenance or debugging.
posted by delmoi at 11:41 PM on June 14, 2013


Delmoi, the problem is that people can bring information in and out. This means you need to either lock down all computer ports or strictly monitor all devices that can attach to them. No WiFi. No Bluetooth. No read/write CD or DVD drives, no floppies, no access to cases. USB keys can be made as small as the socket itself, easily small enough to swallow - so you need to get rid of all USB ports. Everything needs to be hard-wired, locked and alarmed. If a computer need to be worked on then it needs to be taken to a separate facility without network access.

No phones except ones issued by the NSA, No cameras. No MP3 players, USB keys, or anything with a data port on it. All these things would make it harder to transport information - not impossible, but harder. They mean that you can't just walk in with off-the-shelf hardware and walk out with NSA data. I can still imagine ways information could be smuggled out: someone might smuggle in a RS232 or PS/2 data cable and attach one end to a legacy port on a computer, and the other end to a Linux machine built into a wristwatch. If they can drop to a command line they can cat files across, so you need more restrictions:

I would have everybody use an in-house version of Unix, compiled in-house on a compiler bootstrapped in-house. They would run it on terminals with no local store. Everybody would pass through a metal detector on the way into work, and IT personnel would additionally be searched when entering or exiting any area with access to unsecured hardware. Training sessions for everybody so that they understand that screwdrivers are security hazards. Unrecognised wires are security hazards. The only people authorised to attach or detach hardware are IT staff working in pairs. The only people authorised to open computer cases are IT staff working in pairs while under surveillance. Surveillance takes place remotely, and surveillance data is not accessible to IT staff.

These security measures are just what I came up with on the spot, and they're probably not enough to complicate a real attempt at employee penetration of an NSA facility. They do make work harder and less pleasant: employees don't get to bring their IPhones to work, or bring laptops home. They'll also cost money - not much in comparison with what they're already doing, but still a large amount. On the other hand, I bet it will all cost a tiny fraction of the amount they're already spending on stupid things like Tempest-shielding their buildings while letting employees take their laptops home.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:31 AM on June 15, 2013 [2 favorites]



{Hey Gang! This is great! We can all communicate with the NSA directly! Here's how:
Write an e mail addressed to yourself....start with a series of trigger words (you know
what they are).....then a disclaimer...then, whatever you want to say to them. What
do you guys think?
posted by eggtooth at 7:31 AM on June 13 [2 favorites +] [!]


I think you shouldn't try to cross an international border with the US any time soon.}

actually, I'm flying back to Mexico today...wish me luck....
posted by eggtooth at 5:02 AM on June 15, 2013


These security measures are just what I came up with on the spot, and they're probably not enough to complicate a real attempt at employee penetration of an NSA facility. They do make work harder and less pleasant: employees don't get to bring their IPhones to work, or bring laptops home. They'll also cost money - not much in comparison with what they're already doing, but still a large amount. On the other hand, I bet it will all cost a tiny fraction of the amount they're already spending on stupid things like Tempest-shielding their buildings while letting employees take their laptops home.


Except every single thing you mentioned doesn't matter unless you can trust the users and operators. If what you're doing is something that grates against what they believe their moral fabric is, and they feel there is an obligation to let the public know you simply can't make extraction of data impossible. It's not feasible and all you do, in chasing that end, is make it more likely that users will circumvent the controls put in place and then and even when they do work, makes them be less efficient by order of magnitude in their job.

You can make it hard to extract large volumes of data but from a very practical perspective the breakdowns with security are rarely technology driven, they are directly user related or as a result of the users.

One of the big myths from the last decade is that complexity of security, multiple layers, and that rigorous controls and procedures make things more secure all the time. The classic example of this is password strength. The reality is that humans are incredibly clever problem solvers and incredibly lazy and that users will break your systems in ways you never would have imagined possible if the hurdle to efficiently use those systems is too high.

So, yes a very small part of the problem is the data in and out, but from a practical perspective that is a tiny fraction of the problem the people who run security are tangled up in right now. The larger problem is that a user with an ideology that differs from the mission statement decided to become untrustworthy in the context of his agreed role, and that's a much harder nut to crack. As the writer in the Ars Technica article put it, the kinds of people you need to work and manipulate the data are increasingly less likely to share specific pillars of ideology around data security that are really important when talking about massive surveillance projects that peer in to many aspects of the persons lives that they are not aware of.
posted by iamabot at 8:58 AM on June 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


I will add, what we've seen to date is literally nothing new from a technology perspective. This is all off the shelf stuff. In fact the big hurdle in terms of data volumes really isn't that large once you cross a certain financial threshold. There are challenges associated with mining the data but those are pretty well tackled commercially with alignment of otherwise innocuous products.

The gear needed to do this type of data extraction, analysis, mining is present in thousands of application stacks and monitoring environments used by service providers around the world for perfectly legitimate things like user experience tracking, application firewalls looking for code injection or xss vulnerabilities, or basic raw network based application stack component performance monitoring.
posted by iamabot at 9:05 AM on June 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


nightwood:

But frankly, of all the claims made (and so far not backed up by any evidence), Snowden's claim to his wide access to data should be what scares us the most. That claim suggests almost criminal incompetence on the part of the NSA.

I think I know why this is unsettling to some people, specifically if they haven't worked in shops or environments where you manage thousands upon thousands of systems, applications and individuals infrastructure components. Beyond just the infrastructure management angle the whole point of these programs is to sweep up huge quantities of data and make that data easily accessible to the users. These programs and applications don't exist in some sort of strange need to know vacuum. Generally the users of the application stacks need to have a solid knowledge of how data is gathered, how it's presented and where the limits of it are. IF you think about it a little it makes sense, and it's really not that different from large data projects outside of a government context. I'm pretty sure the analysts using these applications and databases are trained up on what the capabilities are and where those capabilities end and how they can reach out further should they need more data to build up an analysis. It would have to work this way, you'd very specifically want it to work like this so you get reasonable, quantifiable and accurate results from what has been a reasonably large effort to scoop up and gather everything.

So, I'll be scared of a lot of things, but not the controls because i understand the practicality of them, not the people having access to the data, because you have to have it. Most of these concerns are ancillary after you've done the scariest thing in my mind....which is swoop up all the data in the first place. People may throw out the "if you've got nothing to hide", well I do have things to hide. They aren't criminal, they aren't even really that bad in the grand scheme of things.

I want them hidden because they are things said or done by a younger, vastly different person that I am today, whose experience informed the person I am now. I felt the freedom to make mistakes that are frankly a bit embarrassing to a more mature and seasoned person now. I needed to make those mistakes, but what I don't need is to be afraid that those mistakes will haunt me. I do enough embarrassed self reflection as it is. I also need the freedom to continue to make mistakes, to fail, to become more mature.

I find it a bit ironic that people are attacking Snowden based on his past, which I supposed, in my mind is exactly the point. They have access to vast amounts of data to do it. So yes, attack a man for getting his GED 10+ years ago, or for a relationship with someone. You are simply cementing what is my worst fear: That there is a permanent record, that it is pervasive, and you can be examined against it. When you examine my life through the lens of my data, you have a shadow missing so much detail and context that you can spin it any way you want.
posted by iamabot at 9:31 AM on June 15, 2013 [10 favorites]


This means you need to either lock down all computer ports or strictly monitor all devices that can attach to them. No WiFi. No Bluetooth. ... I would have everybody use an in-house version of Unix, compiled in-house on a compiler bootstrapped in-house. ... Surveillance takes place remotely, and surveillance data is not accessible to IT staff.
Well, you're missing something obvious here, which is that even if you're just using dumb terminals, they still need to be connected to the network, probably with Ethernet, which means that you could plug something in between the terminal and the Ethernet cable, if you're the guy responsible for plugging things in.

You also want to make things more secure by centralizing everything and making everyone use a remote terminal. Okay, outside of using specialized hardware that does make things more difficult at remote locations, but you still need people to maintain the servers There is going to be some guy who's job is to open up the server racks and replace or upgrade hard drives, all they are going to do all day is open up the cases and swap drives. There are going to have to be people who's job is to manage databases and they'll be able to move data from one DB to another, possibly a DB on a server they setup themselves that they can pull stuff out of.

But the other obvious problem is that, while this guy happened to use a USB stick, These systems are monitoring the internet that means, obviously, that they must be connected to the internet in order to do their jobs. You could, for example setup your own server out on the internet, and create something that looks like a security flaw that lets you download chat logs or emails or something - then, if you're responsible for implementing these bulk download algorithms, you could 'upload' data to it by making what appear to be requests for data that actually contain the information you want to upload.

The point is, if you are the guy responsible for implementing systems then there is always going to be some way for you to hack it. I suppose making people work in pairs might help, but that's not going to help if both of them decide to leak, in fact it would make things even easier for them.
posted by delmoi at 10:02 AM on June 15, 2013


Snowden saw what I saw: surveillance criminally subverting the constitution
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:32 AM on June 15, 2013


Senators skip classified briefing on NSA snooping to catch flights home
posted by homunculus at 11:32 AM on June 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Moyers & Company: Lawrence Lessig and Bill explore how we can protect our privacy when Big Government and Big Business morph into Big Brother.
posted by homunculus at 11:36 AM on June 15, 2013


Do not extradite Edward Snowden, protesters urge Hong Kong: Demonstrators call on government to protect NSA whistleblower and attack US over internet spying programmes
posted by homunculus at 12:26 PM on June 15, 2013


Remember CISPA? The NSA and PRISM disclosures shed new light on that terrible piece of cyber security legislation
posted by ryoshu at 12:51 PM on June 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Senators skip classified briefing on NSA snooping to catch flights home

This is who we have elected. Cowards and people willing to sell you to whomever they need to to remain in office. People who think their job is to collect donations rather than govern and be informed about government.
posted by iamabot at 1:57 PM on June 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Delmoi wrote: Well, you're missing something obvious here, which is that even if you're just using dumb terminals, they still need to be connected to the network, probably with Ethernet, which means that you could plug something in between the terminal and the Ethernet cable, if you're the guy responsible for plugging things in.

Yes, that's covered in:
Everything needs to be hard-wired, locked and alarmed. If a computer need to be worked on then it needs to be taken to a separate facility without network access. [...] Training sessions for everybody so that they understand that screwdrivers are security hazards. Unrecognised wires are security hazards. The only people authorised to attach or detach hardware are IT staff working in pairs.
You don't have single IT guys plugging things in, and you don't let them plug random things in. In fact you really shouldn't have plugs at all: everything should be wired to a terminal at one end and punched into a locked cabinet at the other. And even then you might have two suborned IT staff working together, or someone might build a sniffer in the shape of a data cable and covertly substitute it while the other employee is distracted, or if they can access any port at all they might arrange a photo diode and LED on a piece of equipment so that they can act as a data link for someone equipped with a laser. But all these things are much harder than plugging in a USB key, and if they're already paying for Tempest shielding they ought to be doing this too.

I acknowledge that all of this can be circumvented, and Iamabot makes a good point when s/he says that
If what you're doing is something that grates against what they believe their moral fabric is, and they feel there is an obligation to let the public know you simply can't make extraction of data impossible.
None the less, there's a difference between making data extraction impossible (an incoherent idea, given that people must be able to access the data for work purposes) and making data extraction difficult, slow, and traceable. The NSA are already spending vast sums on data security; they're obviously not doing it properly.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:53 PM on June 15, 2013


NSA admits listening to U.S. phone calls without warrants

I wonder if Rep. Nadler graduated high school or dated a "pole dancer"?
posted by ryoshu at 5:25 PM on June 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


Snowden is looking more and more like an Obama plant.
posted by nightwood at 5:44 PM on June 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Snowden is looking more and more like an Obama plant.

The essence of a conspiracy theory is the explaining away of data counter to one's view being the result of the conspiracy.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:03 PM on June 15, 2013


That's exactly what a conspirator would say.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:14 PM on June 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


NSA admits listening to U.S. phone calls without warrants

Don't worry, James Clapper will assure us there is no abuse, just like there is no data collection at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:16 PM on June 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


(Although this specific reporting seems bizarre and perhaps a misunderstanding. No way someone is just going to come out and admit they are doing warrantless domestic taps again, right?)
posted by Drinky Die at 6:21 PM on June 15, 2013


That's exactly what a conspirator would say.

So the conquering hero is a plant because he isn't acting as one wishes? Is it your belief that Snowden was literally planted by Obama to take these actions? What evidence do you have?
posted by Ironmouth at 6:52 PM on June 15, 2013


Look, if you can't see the Bilderberg influence here I just don't know what to tell you. Like it's a coincidence this all broke in concert with their big meeting?
posted by Drinky Die at 7:17 PM on June 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


You don't have single IT guys plugging things in, and you don't let them plug random things in. In fact you really shouldn't have plugs at all: everything should be wired to a terminal at one end and punched into a locked cabinet at the other.
What you're talking about is completely impractical. There are 1.2 million people with this access or something like that. What happens if you add new employees at a location, you need new terminals, which means what you're talking about would be a giant pain in the ass for very little gain. Someone could use a video camera and software to flash QR codes to the screen to export data, and they make video cameras the size of USB sticks (obviously the bandwidth would be low, but whatever)
(Although this specific reporting seems bizarre and perhaps a misunderstanding. No way someone is just going to come out and admit they are doing warrantless domestic taps again, right?)
They admitted it to congress. It's interesting, "no warentless wiretapping" was a very specific campaign promise, and something that Obama supporters have been clinging too, i.e. all this stuff was "legal" according to the FISA court and totally different from Bush's programs. But now we find out that, yeah, they're still doing warantless wiretapping.
Look, if you can't see the Bilderberg influence here I just don't know what to tell you. Like it's a coincidence this all broke in concert with their big meeting?
Duh people, clearly this is being orchestrated by the Illuminati. It's all to promote Kanye's new album which also just leaked. Coincidence? Wake up SHEEPLE.
posted by delmoi at 7:28 PM on June 15, 2013


They admitted it to congress.

Unless I am missing something...one Democratic representative says they admitted that. I am assuming he is confused about what exactly they said, because otherwise I would expect to be hearing a lot more than just him talking about it.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:39 PM on June 15, 2013


Well, I was being flippant and don't really believe it. But Snowden so far has been a dud - and the Guardian and WaPo have been pretty quiet.
posted by nightwood at 8:34 PM on June 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wapo: U.S. surveillance architecture includes collection of revealing Internet, phone metadata

Two of the four collection programs, one each for telephony and the Internet, process trillions of “metadata” records for storage and analysis in systems called MAINWAY and MARINA, respectively. Metadata includes highly revealing information about the times, places, devices and participants in electronic communication, but not its contents.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:50 PM on June 15, 2013


Well, I was being flippant and don't really believe it. But Snowden so far has been a dud - and the Guardian and WaPo have been pretty quiet.

Err, what outside of him giving data to newspapers were you really expecting? I mean, he's pretty clearly done his part in terms of risk taking and life altering decisions. What have you been up to ?
posted by iamabot at 9:06 PM on June 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


You don't have single IT guys plugging things in, and you don't let them plug random things in. In fact you really shouldn't have plugs at all: everything should be wired to a terminal at one end and punched into a locked cabinet at the other. And even then you might have two suborned IT staff working together, or someone might build a sniffer in the shape of a data cable and covertly substitute it while the other employee is distracted, or if they can access any port at all they might arrange a photo diode and LED on a piece of equipment so that they can act as a data link for someone equipped with a laser. But all these things are much harder than plugging in a USB key, and if they're already paying for Tempest shielding they ought to be doing this too.

Joe, I get what you're saying here but the nuts and bolts of it are just wrong. This is a problem long since tackled with 802.1x and things like host isolation, captive portals and host posture assessment. All of the things you are talking about are broadly handled more thoroughly and more robustly abstracting from the physical infrastructure. I feel pretty confident saying this because in the private sector they are routine and essentially basic.

I also get that your point is to emphasize how robust their security model needs to be, but what I am telling you, as someone who builds the private equivalent of these infrastructures, is that it *IS* robust and it's not a technical/hardware (read physical)/ logical problem (network layout, data segregation/protection). The problem with Snowden is idealogical. Snowden took the action because of ideology, not because the security model wasn't robust enough.

Your security model can never be so robust that an intelligent, determined, and credentialed user cannot defeat it if they are ideologically guided to do so.
posted by iamabot at 9:54 PM on June 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Unless I am missing something...one Democratic representative says they admitted that. I am assuming he is confused about what exactly they said, because otherwise I would expect to be hearing a lot more than just him talking about it.

You're missing something: Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the head of the Senate Intelligence committee, separately acknowledged this week that the agency's analysts have the ability to access the "content of a call."
posted by ryoshu at 10:14 PM on June 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah but guys, without a warrant it's not admissible in a court case, so no biggie, right???
posted by GuyZero at 10:23 PM on June 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Hongkongers don't want Snowden handed over to the US, according to poll 49.9% don't want him handed over, only 17.6% do (with 32% undecided)

Oh and in the same article:
Snowden also said the US was "trying to bully" Hong Kong over his possible surrender, but last night a government source said: "Under no circumstances can the US bully Hong Kong in any way."

The source rejected as "total nonsense" US media reports that Hong Kong and US government lawyers were working together on the Snowden case.
Also, about a thousand protesters shows up for a pro Snowden rally in HK on Saturday.
posted by delmoi at 10:42 PM on June 15, 2013


You're missing something: Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the head of the Senate Intelligence committee, separately acknowledged this week that the agency's analysts have the ability to access the "content of a call."

Without a warrant? When and where did she confirm this? Directly to CNet? She certainly hasn't done it anywhere else. If so, CNet was the last place I would expect a scoop of this magnitude.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:46 PM on June 15, 2013


made it back to Mexico...no problem....sitting at the airport waiting for a bus to Cuernavaca,
feeling good....and then we had an earthquake...(seriously)
posted by eggtooth at 10:58 PM on June 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Err, what outside of him giving data to newspapers were you really expecting? I mean, he's pretty clearly done his part in terms of risk taking and life altering decisions.

I guess I'm expecting more from the thousands of documents he gave the papers. Perhaps they're coming soon, but really, of all the things everyone's talked about so far this week it seems that very little is directly from any document Snowden provided the newspapers. It all just seems very strange.
posted by nightwood at 5:38 AM on June 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I guess I'm expecting more from the thousands of documents he gave the papers.

There are other sources you could be bothering with - rather than being concerned with what Snowden has/doesn't have or what is being done with what he has.

According to U.S. Representative Loretta Sanchez, members of Congress learned “significantly more than what is out in the media today” during a closed briefing about the NSA on Tuesday, and that what has been revealed so far about NSA snooping is “just the tip of the iceberg”. During her interview with C-SPAN on Wednesday, she also stated that NSA spying is “just broader than most people even realize” but due to security restrictions she could not reveal more than that.
posted by rough ashlar at 6:31 AM on June 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Without a warrant? When and where did she confirm this? Directly to CNet? She certainly hasn't done it anywhere else. If so, CNet was the last place I would expect a scoop of this magnitude.

You are right. There seems to be confusing information out there. We should have a full public accounting of what the NSA is doing and what checks and balances are in place to insure they are following the constitution and the law.
posted by ryoshu at 8:04 AM on June 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


There are other sources you could be bothering with - rather than being concerned with what Snowden has/doesn't have or what is being done with what he has.

Yes, there are a million stories of "this is worse than you think, but I can't tell you the details". Those are a dime a dozen. Supposedly we have documentary evidence that is now outside the NSA - but has not gotten outside the 4th estate.
posted by nightwood at 8:53 AM on June 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Supposedly we have documentary evidence that is now outside the NSA - but has not gotten outside the 4th estate.

If one needed any confirmation of Noam Chomsky's ideas about the media being complicit in maintaining the structures of government and corporate power in the U.S., this episode should give you all the proof you will ever need.
posted by Unified Theory at 9:58 AM on June 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


I guess I'm expecting more from the thousands of documents he gave the papers. Perhaps they're coming soon, but really, of all the things everyone's talked about so far this week it seems that very little is directly from any document Snowden provided the newspapers. It all just seems very strange.


Google Trends for two keywords - NSA, PRISM.

I am going to assume, for the time being that you're not trolling because I think this stuff is incredibly important and others may benefit from responses to you, but in all honesty your dialogue is starting to smell a little off.
posted by iamabot at 10:04 AM on June 16, 2013


I am going to assume, for the time being that you're not trolling because I think this stuff is incredibly important and others may benefit from responses to you, but in all honesty your dialogue is starting to smell a little off.

Before you start accusing me of acting in bad faith, if you could provide links to documents on PRISM that have been released, I would appreciate it. All I've seen is a couple of PPT slides. Those came from a PPT that we are told Snowden asked to be released in its entirety but have not been.

What's in the rest of the PRISM deck.

Wikileaks: #Snowden demanded all 41 pages of #PRISM document be published but neither WaPo nor Guardian had the courage
posted by nightwood at 10:17 AM on June 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Update Rep. Nadler in a statement to BuzzFeed says: “I am pleased that the administration has reiterated that, as I have always believed, the NSA cannot listen to the content of Americans’ phone calls without a specific warrant.”
posted by Drinky Die at 10:42 AM on June 16, 2013


Update Rep. Nadler in a statement to BuzzFeed says: “I am pleased that the administration has reiterated that, as I have always believed, the NSA cannot listen to the content of Americans’ phone calls without a specific warrant.”

'Cannot' legally, or 'cannot' practically? (Or, as Archer would say, "Can't? or Won't?") Jerry Nadler is not a bad guy, but that's a pretty ambiguous statement.

Perhaps they're coming soon, but really, of all the things everyone's talked about so far this week it seems that very little is directly from any document Snowden provided the newspapers.

Edward Snowden To-Do List

1) Expose malfeasance re: U.S. government snooping on its citizens
posted by Room 641-A at 10:55 AM on June 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Update Rep. Nadler in a statement to BuzzFeed says: “I am pleased that the administration has reiterated that, as I have always believed, the NSA cannot listen to the content of Americans’ phone calls without a specific warrant.”

Gerald Nadler is a pretty straight shooter. That's why I was very surprised to see him say things like that based on his understanding of a briefing. It would be unlikely for him to make an imprecise statement like that. Plus, it was low on specifics, so I found it hard to believe he would talk so broadly.

The story is pretty much all wrong.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:01 PM on June 16, 2013


Dick Cheney Laughs Off Privacy Concerns Over Government Surveillance
posted by homunculus at 12:07 PM on June 16, 2013


I always assumed the NSA was doing everything described here and much more, probably since WW2 in many agencies. I think it's safer when they tap everyone all at once, rather than select their targets, because spying on everybody is also spying on nobody. The only way to prevent disaster striking is to connect the dots. The people who stand to lose by all this? Shadow groups and conspiracies such as lobby organizations that corrupt the government process; secret cabals and bribers of all kinds; domestic organized crime; foreign organized crime; the KKK and racist parties; money launderers; tax evaders; foreign government influences; child pornographers; slave traders; and terrorists. Sigh.

Any group I would belong to would use reason above influence and any communications intercepted with be self-persuasive and would have more to fear from deletion than the light of day. I worry more about losing physical freedom than my abstract privacy through secret mappings, and the next major event on US soil will result in random road blocks and strip searches. That's where we get the locals and their policies in firm control.
posted by Brian B. at 1:10 PM on June 16, 2013


Yes, there are a million stories of "this is worse than you think, but I can't tell you the details". Those are a dime a dozen. Supposedly we have documentary evidence that is now outside the NSA - but has not gotten outside the 4th estate.
It would be helpful if you could be more specific about what you think would qualify as a big deal and why you think what's been revealed so far is not.

There are four major revelations by Snowden:
1) The Verizon FISA order, clear evidence that the NSA is collecting all phone logs in the US.

2) The PRISM slides, which show that the NSA has direct access to servers of major internet providers. There's been a lot of pushback on this claiming the access isn't "direct" that it requires a warrant, that it's not used very often, etc.

3) Snowden's leak of some documents showing the US has plans to engage in offensive cyber attacks around the world. (This one didn't get much coverage)

4) Finally, the leak to the South China Morning post in Hong Kong, revealing that the NSA has been hacking thousands of targets in China and Hong Kong.
That last one is technically the topic of this FPP. It hasn't gotten a lot of play in the US, as far as I know, but it is a big deal in Hong Kong, both among the people and the (elected) politicians

___

What's interesting about the people complaining about Snowden is that they seem to fall into two camps: One camp seems to be saying that, oh, everyone knew this, it was so obvious that the NSA was spying on everyone that there is no one out there who could possibly be surprised by this.

The other group is still in denial, buying the government line that they never access these phone records unless they have a good reason, that there's nothing more to the program and that PRISM was vastly overstated and that the tech companies are telling the truth.

So for example Brian B. says:
I always assumed the NSA was doing everything described here and much more, probably since WW2 in many agencies.
while nightwood says:
We have not seen evidence that the NSA is "able to spy on everyone all the time". ... [and also] ... Yes, there are a million stories of "this is worse than you think, but I can't tell you the details". Those are a dime a dozen. Supposedly we have documentary evidence that is now outside the NSA - but has not gotten outside the 4th estate."
Which actually proves the point I was trying to make that some people trust the government. There were obviously people who did not even think the NSA was doing things like this at all, before the leaks. Just take a look at this thread where people were insisting that the NSA wasn't nor was it even capable of capturing huge amounts of data. The main argument in that case was that it just wasn't even technically feasible (And there was a lot of back and forth between collecting all internet data, all voice, or all phone records - we know for certain they're collecting all phone records now)


This sets up a rather annoying dynamic where if you try to argue with one side, then the other side replies as if you were arguing with them.


(So for a specific example I wrote "Pretty much everyone would have heard someone suggest that the NSA might be able to spy on everyone all the time, but I think most people would dismiss that as being paranoid, they would have trusted the government to be relatively honest and so on. That turned out to be mistaken, and the "paranoid" people turned out to have been correct." Then nightwood responded to me saying:
We have not seen evidence that the NSA is "able to spy on everyone all the time".
Which is actually proving my point, which is that some people trust the government when it says they are not being spied on. Therefore, revelations that they are being spied on in fact a big deal which is why this is actually a major story for a lot of people. )


Also, I have to say I always find it strange when people essentially "trust" people that they know are lying to them - so for example, they know for a fact that Clapper lied under oath when he said they didn't collect any records on everyone, yet they still believe everything else they say about the scope of what's done with the data.
posted by delmoi at 2:10 PM on June 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


I always assumed the NSA was doing everything described here and much more ... The people who stand to lose by all this? Shadow groups and conspiracies such as lobby organizations that corrupt the government process; secret cabals and bribers of all kinds; domestic organized crime; foreign organized crime; the KKK and racist parties; money launderers; tax evaders; foreign government influences; child pornographers; slave traders; and terrorists.
You missed things like "hard-core environmentalists" "occupy wall street types" and "radical civil rights groups" along with their right-wing equivalents. Lots of things that are completely accepted today were once radical. We know for a fact that Martin Luther King Jr. was spied on by the government, and that there was an attempt to blackmail him over sexual impropriety.

In your mind is was MLK and the SCLC equivalent to the KKK or organized crime or terrorists? And of course they're COINTELPRO, which included MLK as well as the NAACP, women's rights groups, "socialists", and other groups who's ideas are mainstream now, as well as some that never became popular.
Any group I would belong to would use reason above influence and any communications intercepted with be self-persuasive and would have more to fear from deletion than the light of day
If people took your advice, then the only causes which were universally acceptable would be fought for. But obviously those are the only causes that actually need to be fought for. So for example, Gay rights might never have gotten to the point where they became popular, because for a long time most people were deeply opposed to it. And of course we know the government did use surveillance on civil rights leaders.

It could be used to clamp down on people advocating for drug legalization, which only just recently gained majority support.

But beyond social issues, there are also economic issues. Income inequality might be unpopular with most people, but the people who are making all the money seem to be in favor. Groups like Occupy wallstreet or more 'professional' advocates like Elizabeth Warren, Krugman, etc might be able to convince the average person, but the rich and powerful are never going to be able to convinced through 'reason' to give up their wealth and power, they are always going to oppose it. Indeed, groups that corrupt government have nothing to fear from this system at all, in fact they may benefit from it, depending on how successful they are in actually corrupting the government.
I worry more about losing physical freedom than my abstract privacy through secret mappings, and the next major event on US soil will result in random road blocks and strip searches. That's where we get the locals and their policies in firm control.
See that's just paranoid nonsense. Shows how impossible it is to have a discussion on this because half the time you get arguments that are totally trusting of the government, and other times you get comments from people who are super-paranoid and think it's totally obvious. Here we get both kinds in the same comment.
posted by delmoi at 2:32 PM on June 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's pretty telling that after 425 comments the pro-surveillance crowd has yet to even acknowledge the history of state surveillance in this country.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 2:47 PM on June 16, 2013


GCHQ intercepted foreign politicians' communications at G20 summits: phones were monitored and fake internet cafes set up to gather information from allies in London in 2009
posted by homunculus at 2:53 PM on June 16, 2013


See that's just paranoid nonsense. Shows how impossible it is to have a discussion on this because half the time you get arguments that are totally trusting of the government, and other times you get comments from people who are super-paranoid and think it's totally obvious. Here we get both kinds in the same comment.

The federal government is not the local government, and never will be, and some rely on the federal government to secure their rights against the local government, including MLK. Not only is federal eavesdropping not a slippery slope to losing our personal freedoms, but the opposite case can be made if they don't prevent terrorism, whereupon public-demanded restrictions begin. I deem this realism, rather than the fantasy paranoid versions that see slippery slopes in federal action, or the imaginary privacy of the guilty conscience being violated. As for radical groups that may be targeted, it doesn't warrant giving criminal groups a free pass in order to protect them from social prejudice, because that would be the same social prejudice we're trying to avoid after terrorism.
posted by Brian B. at 2:54 PM on June 16, 2013


It would be helpful if you could be more specific about what you think would qualify as a big deal and why you think what's been revealed so far is not.

Hehe. I guess I don't know what I don't know.

What we've heard:
* Snowden gave the PRISM doc to the Guardian and WaPo with the instructions that the entire document be made public - which seems to be a strange request.
* Neither have published more than 10% of the document.
* Neither have published even .1% of what Snowden took out with him.

It makes me worried that we are now beholden to two news organizations to find out what was so horrific that Snowden risked his life for.
posted by nightwood at 2:56 PM on June 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wonder why Snowden didn't just give everything to wikileaks or post it all over the place online or something himself. He may not even be in possession of it anymore. It seems plausible to me, if he has handed himself over to lawyers in Hong Kong, that they may have taken possession of the laptops and USB sticks or whatever while putting him under pseudo-arrest.
posted by Golden Eternity at 3:07 PM on June 16, 2013


Delmoi wrote: Just take a look at this thread where people were insisting that the NSA wasn't nor was it even capable of capturing huge amounts of data.

Not exactly. You kept misreading what people were saying until(I presume) we all got sick of repeating ourselves. I said that if the NSA were recording all voice calls it could not be kept a secret. And lo, it appears that they were capturing all metadata, not all voice calls, and now it is not a secret. At the time I didn't know that they were capturing metadata, of course, but I wouldn't have denied the possibility of them doing so secretly.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:46 PM on June 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Snowden isn't stupid. At the level of game he's playing, the stakes he's put on the table are his life and freedom. You don't just lay all your damn cards down at once. That's stupid strategically and stupid tactically. You lay them down one at a time. Make your opponent respond to each one in turn, and to all of them collectively. Then when they're in motion, you lay down another one, ideally one which makes them need to respond in a different way. You yank them back and forth, back and forth, and you always keep a couple aces in case things start to get really ugly.

So far he's doing quite well. Congress is in a tizzy, the administration is spinning like a top, the media is frothing, people are starting to demand answers ... and he's still alive.
posted by seanmpuckett at 3:51 PM on June 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Heh, came back to post a link about the GCHQ interceptions at the G20, but homunculus already posted it. Remember GCHQ is part of the UK government, so that means the UK was spying on various politicians at the G20 summit in 2009.

Now, it may be that the people who got spied on were being naïve, but again - there are people out there who were naïve, including powerful people in other countries who didn't think they'd be spied on.

Also, according to this report the GCHQ went as far as hacking blackberries. Remember, all blackberry traffic is encrypted, so this isn't even a case of people being totally naïve and stupid and using unsecured channels, even people taking basic precautions could have been exploited.
posted by delmoi at 3:58 PM on June 16, 2013


Brian B. wrote: I always assumed the NSA was doing everything described here and much more, probably since WW2 in many agencies.

Is that because you are smarter than everyone else, or because Snowden didn't reveal anything of importance?

I think it's safer when they tap everyone all at once, rather than select their targets, because spying on everybody is also spying on nobody.

I don't think that statement makes any sense. They actually were spying on people. You even argue that spying is necessary. How can you say that they were (effectively?) "spying on nobody"?

The only way to prevent disaster striking is to connect the dots.

Then why did the Boston bombing occur? What about the various school and other shootings? Surveillance is lousy at predicting things; it can only "connect the dots" once those dots have been filled in.

The people who stand to lose by all this? Shadow groups and conspiracies such as lobby organizations that corrupt the government process; secret cabals and bribers of all kinds; domestic organized crime; foreign organized crime; the KKK and racist parties; money launderers; tax evaders; foreign government influences; child pornographers; slave traders; and terrorists. Sigh.

People with commercial secrets, people with innocent but embarrassing private lives, innocent people whose affairs may lead a spy to conclude that they are a terrorist, people who don't want some kid listening in on their phone calls for shits and giggles. And, of course, you're begging the question: we don't really have a good reason to think that this spying has caught "secret cabals and bribers of all kinds" let alone "child pornographers; slave traders; and terrorists." As for "the KKK and racist parties", people in the USA actually have a constitutional right to form racist parties; and the most damning stories of illegal government surveillance show that it was used to protect and assist those parties.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:14 PM on June 16, 2013


Not exactly. You kept misreading what people were saying until(I presume) we all got sick of repeating ourselves. I said that if the NSA were recording all voice calls it could not be kept a secret. ... At the time I didn't know that they were capturing metadata, of course, but I wouldn't have denied the possibility of them doing so secretly.
The point I keep trying to make is simply that there are a lot of people who did not think the NSA was spying on massive numbers of people at all - that thread is a good example, with lots of posts from people who clearly didn't think so.

Also, not to rehash the argument, but the argument seemed to be
      1) They couldn't do it without keeping it a secret and
      2) If it was happening it was a secret and therefore
      3) It wasn't happening.

Now, there's nothing wrong with point 1, the problem was with point 2. There were a bunch of different claims that all got mixed together: some people were arguing they were collecting all phone logs, other people were arguing about voice data and more people were arguing about internet data or metadata. I don't remember anyone arguing that everything was off the table except voice logs.

The thread was also quite strange in that no one had even claimed that the NSA could tap every phone in the first place. The claim was that the phone companies recorded the calls, and that the FBI or whoever could access those recordings post-facto (perhaps even with a warrant). This claim wasn't made by some whistle-blowing hippy, it was made by an former FBI guy who was basically bragging about it, so the argument they lacked the technical capacity was a complete non-sequiter.

What I was trying to argue wasn't that that they were definitely doing it, rather just that from a technical perspective only such a program could easily be implemented, because voice data doesn't require a lot of bandwidth. (And again, I never said the NSA actually recording all calls, I just said it was technically doable)

posted by delmoi at 4:35 PM on June 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is that because you are smarter than everyone else, or because Snowden didn't reveal anything of importance?

This is old news of course, but Snowden's assertion that we were spying on China, therefore hypocrisy, was appealing to two types of simpletons: those who think we don't spy, and those who think both sides are the same.

Then why did the Boston bombing occur?

Maybe because they weren't following foreign orders. Either way, Russia tried to warn us based on their eavesdropping, so we know it works.

People with commercial secrets, people with innocent but embarrassing private lives, innocent people whose affairs may lead a spy to conclude that they are a terrorist, people who don't want some kid listening in on their phone calls for shits and giggles.

G-men are the last of their worries then. In the most dangerous case above, as in Boston, they came and interviewed the suspects, then left.
posted by Brian B. at 5:45 PM on June 16, 2013


I said that if the NSA were recording all voice calls it could not be kept a secret. And lo, it appears that they were capturing all metadata, not all voice calls, and now it is not a secret. At the time I didn't know that they were capturing metadata, of course, but I wouldn't have denied the possibility of them doing so secretly.

Actually, I'm pretty sure they are capturing all call data. What the NSA is now saying is that it can't "listen to" to calls without getting a FISA warrant. Given the NSA's propensity for supplying the least untruthful answer to questions, I wonder if they can read a call transcript without a warrant?
posted by ryoshu at 8:58 PM on June 16, 2013


This is old news of course, but Snowden's assertion that we were spying on China, therefore hypocrisy, was appealing to two types of simpletons: those who think we don't spy, and those who think both sides are the same.
So what kind of simpletons are all the people in Hong Kong who seem shocked that the US was spying on them? Or is it all fake outrage?

Anyway, the whole "everyone who doesn't agree with me is an Idiot" (or in this case 'simpleton') isn't really an argument worth engaging with. On this topic, it indicates a complete failure to understand how most people in the world actually think.
posted by delmoi at 9:03 PM on June 16, 2013


Consider the fact that the UK was secretly bugging the G20 summit. We can presume that most of the attendees weren't aware of the bugging; we can also see that the government sneaks weren't motivated by a fear of slavery or terrorism or whatever feverish nonsense their apologisers might come up with: the UK and USA spied on these friendly countries in order to get a secret advantage in financial negotiations. How far, how very far we have come from the days when a US Secretary of State could say that "Gentlemen do not read each other's mail."
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:17 PM on June 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


3 NSA veterans speak out on whistle-blower: We told you so
Q: What did you learn from the document — the Verizon warrant issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court — that Snowden leaked?

Drake: It's an extraordinary order. I mean, it's the first time we've publicly seen an actual, secret, surveillance-court order. I don't really want to call it "foreign intelligence" (court) anymore, because I think it's just become a surveillance court, OK? And we are all foreigners now. By virtue of that order, every single phone record that Verizon has is turned over each and every day to NSA.

There is no probable cause. There is no indication of any kind of counterterrorism investigation or operation. It's simply: "Give us the data." ...

There's really two other factors here in the order that you could get at. One is that the FBI requesting the data. And two, the order directs Verizon to pass all that data to NSA, not the FBI.

Binney: What it is really saying is the NSA becomes a processing service for the FBI to use to interrogate information directly. ... The implications are that everybody's privacy is violated, and it can retroactively analyze the activity of anybody in the country back almost 12 years.

Now, the other point that is important about that is the serial number of the order: 13-dash-80. That means it's the 80th order of the court in 2013. ... Those orders are issued every quarter, and this is the second quarter, so you have to divide 80 by two and you get 40.

If you make the assumption that all those orders have to deal with companies and the turnover of material by those companies to the government, then there are at least 40 companies involved in that transfer of information. However, if Verizon, which is Order No. 80, and the first quarter got order No. 1 — then there can be as many as 79 companies involved.

So somewhere between 40 and 79 is the number of companies, Internet and telecom companies, that are participating in this data transfer in the NSA.
Emphasis mine.
posted by ryoshu at 9:17 PM on June 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


"Last week’s teenage heartthrob and hipsters’ hero Edward Snowden turns up in the 7-Eleven opposite Perpetual Opulence Mansions this morning, clutching his trademark Rubik’s Cube in a desperate attempt to be recognized. Even the South China Morning Post, which shot to global prominence for its scoop-but-for-the-Guardian, is reduced to filling its daily page dedicated to his saga to filler from news agencies and a summary of whiny Mainland media." Big Lychee, Various Sectors
posted by Mister Bijou at 4:26 AM on June 17, 2013


As I posted in the recently deleted thread re - GCHQ monitoring the G20 summit:

The DGSE used to insert bugs into business/first class Air France aircraft seats to capture business information that could be used for France's economic benefit. A declassified 1987 CIA report showed that 80% of Japan's intelligence spend was on stealing economic advantages from the USA. GCHQ and it's forerunner GC&CS have been doing this since they started. BP, British Airways, British Aerospace and numerous other UK businesses have benefitted from interception of "secret" business information.

If it has the word "British" in front of it, chances are they've had some lovely man in a pinstripe suit hand over a manilla folder full of confidential financial or business data.

Hell, Moses sent a bunch of guys into Canaan to assess the economic value of the country. Apparently those dirty spies found milk AND honey!!!
posted by longbaugh at 5:39 AM on June 17, 2013


Hell, Moses sent a bunch of guys into Canaan to assess the economic value of the country. Apparently those dirty spies found milk AND honey!!!

That is maybe not the best example of economic espionage. Moses didn't exactly send the twelve spies to steal the agricultural techniques of the Canaanites.

I think I prefer the stealing of corporate secrets to genocidal wars of conquest.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 6:05 AM on June 17, 2013


I suppose that's why I provided the other six examples then ;)
posted by longbaugh at 6:08 AM on June 17, 2013


Edward Snowden live-chat/Q&A scheduled for 11am ET/4pm BST today.
posted by progosk at 6:35 AM on June 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


So what kind of simpletons are all the people in Hong Kong who seem shocked that the US was spying on them? Or is it all fake outrage?

You mean this? The only simpletons would be those who didn't suspect that it might be staged by Chinese intelligence services, Hong Kong being under their actual control and all, which is probably why outsiders would be monitoring things there, to help protect their own human sources of information. Oh, and this.
posted by Brian B. at 6:46 AM on June 17, 2013


Consider the fact that the UK was secretly bugging the G20 summit. We can presume that most of the attendees weren't aware of the bugging; we can also see that the government sneaks weren't motivated by a fear of slavery or terrorism or whatever feverish nonsense their apologisers might come up with: the UK and USA spied on these friendly countries in order to get a secret advantage in financial negotiations. How far, how very far we have come from the days when a US Secretary of State could say that "Gentlemen do not read each other's mail."

Intelligence agencies, unless restrained by government, will never stop looking for higher value signals.

delmoi: Anyway, the whole "everyone who doesn't agree with me is an Idiot" (or in this case 'simpleton') isn't really an argument worth engaging with. On this topic, it indicates a complete failure to understand how most people in the world actually think.

See above. They might not think that way, but they are wrong.
posted by jaduncan at 6:46 AM on June 17, 2013


Anyway, the whole "everyone who doesn't agree with me is an Idiot" (or in this case 'simpleton') isn't really an argument worth engaging with.

I think Snowden raised the specter of an entire class of people who choose only to see diplomatic matters in terms of condescendingly showing the rest of the world how polite and decent we are instead of showing the world, and our enemies, how serious we are at protecting ourselves. The former are shocked and righteously indignant at these events, while the latter are hopeful we're able to compete at diplomatic chess and poker.
posted by Brian B. at 7:15 AM on June 17, 2013


U.S. surveillance architecture includes collection of revealing Internet, phone metadata
Lawyers for the agency came up with an interpretation that said the NSA did not “acquire” the communications, a term with formal meaning in surveillance law, until analysts ran searches against it. The NSA could “obtain” metadata in bulk, they argued, without meeting the required standards for acquisition.

Goldsmith and Comey did not buy that argument, and a high-ranking U.S. intelligence official said the NSA does not rely on it today.

As soon as surveillance data “touches us, we’ve got it, whatever verbs you choose to use,” the official said in an interview. “We’re not saying there’s a magic formula that lets us have it without having it.”

When Comey finally ordered a stop to the program, Bush signed an order renewing it anyway. Comey, Goldsmith, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III and most of the senior Bush appointees in the Justice Department began drafting letters of resignation.
posted by ryoshu at 8:35 AM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Drinky Die: "Update Rep. Nadler in a statement to BuzzFeed says: “I am pleased that the administration has reiterated that, as I have always believed, the NSA cannot listen to the content of Americans’ phone calls without a specific warrant.”"

And now CNET has quietly updated their story without noting that the piece's central claim seems to be built around a misunderstanding of the Nadler/Mueller exchange. I know it's hard out there for a journalist when so many of these discussions are happening behind closed doors, but muddying the waters with yellow journalism is just going to make the search for the truth more difficult.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:58 AM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, the author's other claim to fame suggests he isn't striving all that hard to understand what politicians are saying:

If it's true that Al Gore created the Internet, then I created the "Al Gore created the Internet" story.

posted by Drinky Die at 9:11 AM on June 17, 2013


Guardian Snowden live chat is live.

Some insight on his ideology:
More fundamentally, the "US Persons" protection in general is a distraction from the power and danger of this system. Suspicionless surveillance does not become okay simply because it's only victimizing 95% of the world instead of 100%. Our founders did not write that "We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all US Persons are created equal."
Also, Jacob Appelbaum asked a good question:
Do you believe that the treatment of Binney, Drake and others influenced your path? Do you feel the "system works" so to speak? #AskSnowden
Here's his answer:
Binney, Drake, Kiriakou, and Manning are all examples of how overly-harsh responses to public-interest whistle-blowing only escalate the scale, scope, and skill involved in future disclosures. Citizens with a conscience are not going to ignore wrong-doing simply because they'll be destroyed for it: the conscience forbids it. Instead, these draconian responses simply build better whistleblowers. If the Obama administration responds with an even harsher hand against me, they can be assured that they'll soon find themselves facing an equally harsh public response.

This disclosure provides Obama an opportunity to appeal for a return to sanity, constitutional policy, and the rule of law rather than men. He still has plenty of time to go down in history as the President who looked into the abyss and stepped back, rather than leaping forward into it. I would advise he personally call for a special committee to review these interception programs, repudiate the dangerous "State Secrets" privilege, and, upon preparing to leave office, begin a tradition for all Presidents forthwith to demonstrate their respect for the law by appointing a special investigator to review the policies of their years in office for any wrongdoing. There can be no faith in government if our highest offices are excused from scrutiny - they should be setting the example of transparency.
posted by delmoi at 9:28 AM on June 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


Snowden's non-answer when asked directly if he was working for the Chinese isn't disabusing me of my theory.

And his "phoenix-petting" image seems rehearsed and over-thought to me. He's literally saying "hey everybody look over there at that mythical creature!"
posted by BobbyVan at 9:30 AM on June 17, 2013


Oh yeah, I'm familiar with Declan McCullagh's body of work, but this isn't as much about the author as it's about the CNET editors. I don't have a problem with ideologically-driven reporters out there raking muck, but the editors should insist on some basic fact-checking, even if it's of the "a request for clarification from Rep. Nadler was not immediately returned" variety. And when it turns out to be a bad lead, they owe it to readers to update the story in a more honest way.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:31 AM on June 17, 2013


some other exchanges from the quite extraordinary live Snowden Q&A currently under way:


Question (Kimberly Dozier):
US officials say terrorists already altering TTPs because of your leaks, & calling you traitor. Respond? http://www.guardiannews.com #AskSnowden

Answer:
US officials say this every time there's a public discussion that could limit their authority. US officials also provide misleading or directly false assertions about the value of these programs, as they did just recently with the Zazi case, which court documents clearly show was not unveiled by PRISM.
Journalists should ask a specific question: since these programs began operation shortly after September 11th, how many terrorist attacks were prevented SOLELY by information derived from this suspicionless surveillance that could not be gained via any other source? Then ask how many individual communications were ingested to acheive that, and ask yourself if it was worth it. Bathtub falls and police officers kill more Americans than terrorism, yet we've been asked to sacrifice our most sacred rights for fear of falling victim to it.


Question (GlennGreenwald):
[...]
2) How many sets of the documents you disclosed did you make, and how many different people have them? If anything happens to you, do they still exist?

Answer:
[...]
2) All I can say right now is the US Government is not going to be able to cover this up by jailing or murdering me. Truth is coming, and it cannot be stopped.
posted by progosk at 9:35 AM on June 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


That seems like an ok answer to the question, BobbyVan. He calls the charge a smear and offers his continued presence in the public as evidence that he isn't a spy.

What answer would satisfy your interest?
posted by notyou at 9:37 AM on June 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Bobby Van - here's his answer to you:

less than 1m ago

Follow-up from the Guardian's Spencer Ackerman:

Regarding whether you have secretly given classified information to the Chinese government, some are saying you didn't answer clearly - can you give a flat no?

Answer:

No. I have had no contact with the Chinese government. Just like with the Guardian and the Washington Post, I only work with journalists.

posted by progosk at 9:39 AM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Of course, that denial proves that Snowden is a liar, as well as a Chinese agent.
posted by notyou at 9:40 AM on June 17, 2013


A Chinese agent would not have revealed their secret Phoenix breeding program.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:46 AM on June 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Backed up by China's foreign ministry: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/17/edward-snowden-not-chinese-spy-beijing
posted by forgetful snow at 9:54 AM on June 17, 2013


The greatest weapon against tyranny is a person with a conscience.
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:57 AM on June 17, 2013


Edward Snowden: "No. I have had no contact with the Chinese government. Just like with the Guardian and the Washington Post, I only work with journalists."

The Washington Post: "[Snowden] also asked that The Post publish online a cryptographic key that he could use to prove to a foreign embassy that he was the document’s source."
posted by BobbyVan at 10:01 AM on June 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


#gameofsnowden
___
The Washington Post: "[Snowden] also asked that The Post publish online a cryptographic key that he could use to prove to a foreign embassy that he was the document’s source."
Which he obviously wouldn't have had to do if he was already working with the Chinese government. Think about it for 10 seconds, dude.

We also don't know if he specifically said "foreign embassy" or if the Washington Post was speculating, it's not a direct quote.
You mean this? The only simpletons would be those who didn't suspect that it might be staged by Chinese intelligence services, Hong Kong being under their actual control and all -- Brian B.
So I imagine you think the annual Hong Kong Tienanmen Vigil/Protest are staged by Chinese intelligence as well. This kind of "conspiracy everywhere" thinking isn't really worth engaging with, there's hardly any difference between someone like you and Alex Jones types.
posted by delmoi at 10:09 AM on June 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Americans Sent Over a Hundred Million Father’s Day Messages, Says N.S.A.
posted by Mister Bijou at 10:14 AM on June 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Which he obviously wouldn't have had to do if he was already working with the Chinese government. Think about it for 10 seconds, dude.

It's absolutely possible that Snowden is ideologically-motivated and plans to defect to China. China may not have had foreknowledge that this goldmine of intelligence would end up on its doorstep.

We also don't know if he specifically said "foreign embassy" of the Washington Post was speculating, it's not a direct quote.

The line in the Washington Post was stated as fact, not marked as speculation. It hasn't been denied (and the story is eight days old).
posted by BobbyVan at 10:15 AM on June 17, 2013


Long Before Helping Expose NSA Spying, Journalist Laura Poitras Faced Harassment from U.S. Agents
posted by homunculus at 10:29 AM on June 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's absolutely possible that Snowden is ideologically-motivated and plans to defect to China.

That's now moving the goalposts quite a bit from an earlier claim about Snowden being an agent of the Chinese government.

Eh, whatever. We're giving speculation credence just to discredit a whistleblower. Makes it easy to resolve this in the court of public opinion.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:36 AM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's absolutely possible that Snowden is ideologically-motivated and plans to defect to China. China may not have had foreknowledge that this goldmine of intelligence would end up on its doorstep.
Anything is possible, his wanting to publish the key could have been a misdirection to make it seem like he wasn't working with the Chinese when actually he was. But that is what the face value of the request indicates.

He'd been corresponding with Greenwald since before he left Hawaii. Obviously he had the technical capacity to talk to the Chinese directly before he'd left as well, if he'd wanted too. His wanting to publish the key is evidence that he had not been in contact with a friendly foreign government before leaking the classified information.

We don't know why the WaPo phrased it that way, whether they were talking about his motivations for wanting the key published (it could simply be to seek asylum before his name came out) or their motivations for not publishing it (i.e. the foreign embassy thing wasn't something he said, but a fear of theirs) - arguing about the semantics is beside the point.

Ultimately, it doesn't really make any difference whether he's working with the Chinese government or not. He's just one guy, and the stuff he's revealing affects everyone, both in the US as well as outside the US.
posted by delmoi at 10:40 AM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Heh, he just updated one of his answers, appending this:
Further, it's important to bear in mind I'm being called a traitor by men like former Vice President Dick Cheney. This is a man who gave us the warrantless wiretapping scheme as a kind of atrocity warm-up on the way to deceitfully engineering a conflict that has killed over 4,400 and maimed nearly 32,000 Americans, as well as leaving over 100,000 Iraqis dead. Being called a traitor by Dick Cheney is the highest honor you can give an American, and the more panicked talk we hear from people like him, Feinstein, and King, the better off we all are. If they had taught a class on how to be the kind of citizen Dick Cheney worries about, I would have finished high school.
posted by delmoi at 10:51 AM on June 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


G20 summits: Russia and Turkey react with fury to spying revelations. Ankara summons UK ambassador and says GCHQ allegations are 'scandalous' if confirmed
posted by homunculus at 10:56 AM on June 17, 2013


Glenn Greenwald follow up: When you say "someone at NSA still has the content of your communications" - what do you mean? Do you mean they have a record of it, or the actual content?

Answer: Both. If I target for example an email address, for example under FAA 702, and that email address sent something to you, Joe America, the analyst gets it. All of it. IPs, raw data, content, headers, attachments, everything. And it gets saved for a very long time - and can be extended further with waivers rather than warrants.


This is horrific.
posted by lenny70 at 11:12 AM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Matt Yglesias
As Edward Snowden has had more opportunity to talk, it's clear that one thing that bothers him about U.S. intelligence conduct is that something perfectly legal is happening—large-scale snooping on foreigners. And many Americans are going to shrug at that. The constitution is here to protect our rights, and spying on foreigners is exactly what the NSA is supposed to be doing.

The stock market valuations of your Googles and your Facebooks are based on the proposition that the potential market for online services is global. ... The idea that American intelligence agencies have more-or-less unrestricted access to foreigners' communications cuts very sharply against that. You may not care about the privacy of German people's emails, German people care and Angela Merkel has to care.

... Democratically elected governments in Europe, Latin America, and Asia are going to be expected to take steps to safeguard their own citizens' privacy vis-a-vis the United States.
posted by delmoi at 11:14 AM on June 17, 2013


Thomas Friedman needs to write a follow-up book, "The World is Concave: How the NSA funnels data to US corporations for market advantage".
posted by ryoshu at 11:20 AM on June 17, 2013


I am bouncing in my chair. This is delightful.
posted by seanmpuckett at 11:22 AM on June 17, 2013


Question: What would you say to others who are in a position to leak classified information that could improve public understanding of the intelligence apparatus of the USA and its effect on civil liberties?

What evidence do you have that refutes the assertion that the NSA is unable to listen to the content of telephone calls without an explicit and defined court order from FISC?

Answer: This country is worth dying for.


Snowden didn't explicitly say what country, so I'm going to assume he's talking about China.
posted by ryoshu at 11:28 AM on June 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


The Washington Post: "[Snowden] also asked that The Post publish online a cryptographic key that he could use to prove to a foreign embassy that he was the document’s source."
Which he obviously wouldn't have had to do if he was already working with the Chinese government. Think about it for 10 seconds, dude.


Generally, one only wants to prove the authenticity of a top secret document to an embassy is to prove they have the goods they claim to have for sale.

In the end, it doesn't really matter. I just had lunch with an old friend who has spent years working in China as a US official. If you leave your laptop alone in your room for a short time, they will come in and turn it on and empty the hard drive. They are told never to leave their computers out of sight. This goes for Hong Kong as well. They have keys to all the rooms and every room is bugged.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:48 AM on June 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


In many large corporations if you take your company provided laptop to any one of about a dozen countries IT will collect your laptop when you return and basically toss it in to a wood chipper. In some orgs it's actually a pretty handy way to get your PC refreshed.
posted by iamabot at 11:51 AM on June 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


The USA Today article ryoshu linked in a comment above (3 NSA veterans speak out on whistle-blower: We told you so) includes this interesting exchange between a reporter and NSA Whistleblower William Binney:
Q: There's a question being debated whether Snowden is a hero or a traitor.

Binney: Certainly he performed a really great public service to begin with by exposing these programs and making the government in a sense publicly accountable for what they're doing. At least now they are going to have some kind of open discussion like that.

But now he is starting to talk about things like the government hacking into China and all this kind of thing. He is going a little bit too far. I don't think he had access to that program. But somebody talked to him about it, and so he said, from what I have read, anyway, he said that somebody, a reliable source, told him that the U.S. government is hacking into all these countries. But that's not a public service, and now he is going a little beyond public service.

So he is transitioning from whistle-blower to a traitor.
posted by BobbyVan at 11:52 AM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


> In many large corporations if you take your company provided laptop to any one of about a dozen countries IT will collect your laptop when you return and basically toss it in to a wood chipper.

Which is hilarious when you think about it, because the odds are excellent the laptop was made in one of those countries.

Point is, we've reached that point in our technological evolution where if you didn't assemble it yourself out of atoms, you really can't guarantee that it won't be doing something you'd rather it didn't do.

"Trusted computing" really is a joke, isn't it? The only computer you can really trust is an abacus.
posted by seanmpuckett at 11:57 AM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you leave your laptop alone in your room for a short time, they will come in and turn it on and empty the hard drive.
Which won't matter if you have half a brain and know how to use truecrypt.

(now, if they have physical access to the device they could potentially install a rootkit and keylogger to get the password, but you can take steps to detect that if it happens, and avoid using typing your password in if that happens)
posted by delmoi at 11:59 AM on June 17, 2013


"Being called a traitor by Dick Cheney is the highest honor you can give an American..."

I really like Snowden.
posted by Unified Theory at 12:14 PM on June 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


Oh I see delmoi already flagged that. I love it.
posted by Unified Theory at 12:15 PM on June 17, 2013


In many large corporations if you take your company provided laptop to any one of about a dozen countries IT will collect your laptop when you return and basically toss it in to a wood chipper. In some orgs it's actually a pretty handy way to get your PC refreshed.
That's probably cheaper and easier then verifying nothing happened to it, but it's not impossible. You would basically want to use a laptop that uses the same type of internal boot security used on things like the XBox and PS2, they got hacked, but the hackers complete access to the internal hardware and weeks/months to try to break into it.

As long as you keep the BIOS physically secured, in a way that would make tampering obvious, you can be sure that no one will be able to boot your computer without a password. You can also check to ensure the contents of the hard drive and boot-loader haven't been altered, and require a signed bootloader.

If someone takes the contents of the hard drive, all they get is a block of useless encrypted data.

Finally, you don't need to use a laptop - you can keep everything on a phone with the same security precautions, and not let it out of your sight (and for extra security, you can physically remove the radio chips)

That said, doing all that and would be expensive, probably more expensive then just buying commodity computers and trashing them after a trip if you don't travel that often.
posted by delmoi at 12:20 PM on June 17, 2013


Maybe bring a chromebook the next time you visit Iran.
posted by GuyZero at 12:37 PM on June 17, 2013


"This country is worth dying for."

Oh, c'mon. It's not like this is Sweden.
posted by banal evil at 12:48 PM on June 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


So the speculation about Snowden being a traitorous agent for the Chinese is just bullshit speculation, right?

I mean, we all know why that speculation is being made. It's Bullshit, in the sense that Frankfurt argues, where the Bullshitter doesn't care about the truth of a thing, but simply wants to distract all participants from facts and reasoning over facts.

But let's put the Bullshittery to the side for a moment and play devil's advocate, going with the assumption that the Bullshit is true.

Why would that kind of Bullshitting invalidate criticism of the NSA's behavior, or insulate their leadership from perjury charges after lying to Senators?

Nothing about the substance of Snowden's allegations has been denied — even tech companies are basically admitting that this goes on, through mutually-shared and carefully-worded language in PR announcements. NSA officials are now claiming illegal surveillance has protected us from terrorist attacks.

This is clearly getting to the heart of what the US is about, what the rule of law is about in the US, so why all the Bullshit over Chinese spy allegations?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:50 PM on June 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


"This country is worth dying for."

To my mind, this is only a short step from 'This country is worth other people dying for', and then he's back where he started.
posted by forgetful snow at 1:03 PM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


David Headley And The Limits Of Surveillance
posted by homunculus at 1:17 PM on June 17, 2013


To my mind, this is only a short step from 'This country is worth other people dying for', and then he's back where he started.
Oh yeah, all those lives endangered by revealing the fact the UK spied on foreign dignitaries during the G20 summit or that the NSA was hacking university networks in Hong Kong. The idea those things were done to "keep us safe" is absurd. For an economic benefit? maybe, but they obviously had nothing to do with protecting us from "Terrorists".

And just out of curiosity, which Washington do you think politicians or leaders don't agree that "This country is worth other people dying for", exactly? That seems to be a pretty universally held belief in DC.
posted by delmoi at 1:18 PM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why would that kind of Bullshitting invalidate criticism of the NSA's behavior, or insulate their leadership from perjury charges after lying to Senators?

Who is making this argument?
posted by BobbyVan at 1:19 PM on June 17, 2013


That's the obvious implication, you call Snowden a "traitor" it implies that what he revealed should have stayed secret, which in turn implies that it wasn't all that bad to begin with.

Anyway, as far as Leaking information about US hacking in Hong Kong, he actually is physically in Hong Kong and would prefer not to be Extradited, so it makes sense that he would leak things of specific interest to Hong Kongers in order to get more political support to avoid it.

Snowden said it himself during the livechat:
Citizens with a conscience are not going to ignore wrong-doing simply because they'll be destroyed for it: the conscience forbids it. Instead, these draconian responses simply build better whistleblowers.
He took drastic measures to avoid going to jail forever. The revelations about hacking in China and Hong Kong might cause some diplomatic headaches and make it harder for us to keep doing it, but they're not going to get anyone killed. We're not at war with China.
posted by delmoi at 1:36 PM on June 17, 2013


Who is making this argument?

Anyone who focuses on making and repeating this speculation is directly taking up space in a fact-based discussion that the public could instead be having about the NSA, its role in illegal surveillance, and lack of culpability for officials openly lying to Congress. All the way to the mainstream press regurgitating such a speculative talking point, for instance.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:47 PM on June 17, 2013


That's the obvious implication, you call Snowden a "traitor" it implies that what he revealed should have stayed secret, which in turn implies that it wasn't all that bad to begin with.
I can't be responsible for implications you find to be obvious. Snowden doesn't need to be a heroic whistleblower in order to establish that the NSA overreached or violated the 4th Amendment.
Anyone who focuses on making and repeating this speculation is directly taking up space in a fact-based discussion that the public could instead be having about the NSA, its role in illegal surveillance, and lack of culpability for officials openly lying to Congress. All the way to the mainstream press regurgitating such a speculative talking point, for instance.
My apologies for being a distraction from your preferred narrative.
posted by BobbyVan at 1:56 PM on June 17, 2013


I think I've figured out that my only real preference for "narratives" is that they are based at least somewhat on facts, or reality, or at least something reasonably verifiable.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:02 PM on June 17, 2013


Snowden doesn't need to be a heroic whistleblower in order to establish that the NSA overreached or violated the 4th Amendment.
While that may be true in a factual sense, it may not be true in a political sense, which could impact the response. People are going to look at it as an either/or thing. Either the programs were good and Snowden is a traitor, or the programs were bad and Snowden is a hero. It won't make sense for people to say the programs were bad and should have been exposed and also Snowden is a traitor for having done so.

There is also the question of whether or not Snowden is a "traitor" even if he is working with Chinese intelligence. Suppose he is. Now that he's denied it, it would hurt his credibility. But beyond that, what exactly do we lose here? It's not going to physically harm anyone.

Feinstein and others blathered on and on about how this is going to make us all unsafe, but how exactly could exposing US hacking in Hong Kong do that?
posted by delmoi at 2:15 PM on June 17, 2013


While that may be true in a factual sense, it may not be true in a political sense...
Orwell wept.

[And I'm checking out of this thread for a while. Sorry delmoi but I just can't ride with you on a logical train that leaves the station acknowledging the factual truth of a statement and proceeds to a place where that admittedly factual statement is dismissed because "it won't make sense."]
posted by BobbyVan at 2:23 PM on June 17, 2013


I didn't say the claim that Snowden was a traitor was "factual", I said it may or may not be factual that he was a 'heroic whistle-blower'. We don't know for sure if he really is working alone or not.

What I said wouldn't make sense was the claim that both he was a traitor and the NSA programs were "bad" and needed to be brought to light. As a ethical judgement it's kind of incoherent.
Orwell wept.
Yeah, we know much of a fan of all-encompassing state surveillance he was. In fact, if I remember correctly he wrote a book about how totally awesome it was.
posted by delmoi at 2:36 PM on June 17, 2013


What Edward Snowden Won't Tell You
posted by homunculus at 3:04 PM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Snowden Effect, Continued
posted by homunculus at 3:07 PM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think that's the first time I've read a post on the Internet, where the commenters have less spittle flying from their mouths than the post's author.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:21 PM on June 17, 2013


To be governed is to be watched over, inspected, spied on, directed, legislated at, regulated, docketed, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, assessed, weighed, censored, ordered about, by men who have neither the right, nor the knowledge, nor the virtue.

Pierre Joseph Proudhon
posted by bukvich at 3:31 PM on June 17, 2013


As long as you keep the BIOS physically secured, in a way that would make tampering obvious, you can be sure that no one will be able to boot your computer without a password. You can also check to ensure the contents of the hard drive and boot-loader haven't been altered, and require a signed bootloader.

They scarcely care if their intrusion of your laptop is noticed, especially if you're Edward Snowden and you don't have rights to the information on there.

As for "truecrypt" and the like, I don't think it really matters when you are talking about the intelligence services of China. I'd be surprised if they don't have a way around that.

Not to mention the thumbdrive.

I would just like someone to acknowledge that when Glenn Greenwald said there's been no damage to US security by those laptops being in China, he was wrong.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:35 PM on June 17, 2013


I think that's the first time I've read a post on the Internet, where the commenters have less spittle flying from their mouths than the post's author.

If you've lost Charles Pierce, you've lost DailyKos.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:40 PM on June 17, 2013


As for "truecrypt" and the like, I don't think it really matters when you are talking about the intelligence services of China. I'd be surprised if they don't have a way around that.

Spoken like a true non-crypto guy, although I suspect that it would be LUKS rather than truecrypt. Strong crypto is broken into with either hardware exploits or rubber hoses.
posted by jaduncan at 3:47 PM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


That said, this material is exactly the type of thing it's actually worth storing to see if quantum computing or a mathematical breakthrough suddenly allows you to brute force the encryption.
posted by jaduncan at 3:49 PM on June 17, 2013


Spoken like a true non-crypto guy, although I suspect that it would be LUKS rather than truecrypt. Strong crypto is broken into with either hardware exploits or rubber hoses.

Well, they have access to the laptop when he's out of the room or asleep. They let themselves in with a key. So it would be a hardware exploit, yes.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:58 PM on June 17, 2013


Ironmouth: Well, they have access to the laptop when he's out of the room or asleep. They let themselves in with a key. So it would be a hardware exploit, yes.

That's what you meant a minute ago when you said you wouldn't be surprised if the Chinese had a way around "truecrypt"? Really?
posted by gman at 4:04 PM on June 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


That's what you meant a minute ago when you said you wouldn't be surprised if the Chinese had a way around "truecrypt"? Really?


Dwight Schrute, security expert, beet farmer, nemesis.
posted by iamabot at 4:09 PM on June 17, 2013


As for "truecrypt" and the like, I don't think it really matters when you are talking about the intelligence services of China. -- Ironmouth
It's fairly obvious to anyone who actually understands modern cryptography that this is total nonsense.

Truecrypt uses symmetric cyphers - it's doesn't even suffer from the hypothetical weakness that public key crypto would if you could factor the product of large prime numbers easily. Without the password, you have nothing.

Snowden had no trouble using strong (public key) crypto to communicate with journalists for months, not even the NSA could break it, and symmetric crypto is even more 'theoretically' secure (in practice, they are both secure)
They scarcely care if their intrusion of your laptop is noticed, especially if you're Edward Snowden and you don't have rights to the information on there ... they have access to the laptop when he's out of the room or asleep. They let themselves in with a key. So it would be a hardware exploit, yes. -- Ironmouth
It doesn't matter whether or not you "have rights" to the data, if it's encrypted they can't get it without the password. You can try to install a keylogger on a laptop if you have physical access, but if the intrusion is detected, the user will know not to trust that machine.
Not to mention the thumbdrive. -- Ironmouth
What about it? If the files are encrypted, they are useless without the key.
Dwight Schrute, security expert, beet farmer, nemesis. -- iamabot
What, you think "I'd be surprised if the Chinese don't have a way around truecrypt. " and claiming they could crack it without getting the password from the user is somehow less of a crackpot statement?


____

Also, while they could hypothetically beat a password out of him you can use hidden volumes to hide things you don't want to reveal. And presumably it's all data that he plans to share with journalists anyway.

The idea that China or the NSA or whoever can break strong, and that there's some kind of conspiracy among cryptographic researchers like Bruce Schneier and Julian Assange to cover it up is definitely Alex Jones territory when it comes paranoia.
posted by delmoi at 4:27 PM on June 17, 2013


Physical access doesn't really help much against the kind of encryption you would use if you had any real secrets to keep today. It's not like your laptop where someone could conceivably brute force their way into Windows or something. The hardware exploit would have to be along the lines of something used to steal the key while it's being used, which is a known method of attack.
posted by feloniousmonk at 4:27 PM on June 17, 2013


Physical access doesn't really help much against the kind of encryption you would use if you had any real secrets to keep today. It's not like your laptop where someone could conceivably brute force their way into Windows or something. The hardware exploit would have to be along the lines of something used to steal the key while it's being used, which is a known method of attack.

This of course, assumes he used all of this. And/or the info wasn't also taken off of the reporters' drives when they met with him.

The idea that this dude is going to be really safe with data he already gave away to a bunch of people for nothing seems plain 'ol funny.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:45 PM on June 17, 2013


Snowden proves how totally useless this latest incarnation of total information awareness is. The fact that he was able to establish contact with Glenn Greenwald and other journalists, sneak our secrets out of the "secure" networks. Then he buys a plane ticket to Hong Kong and slip away. If the surveillance delivered on the claims if the proponents this should have been impossible. Also apparently for women known reason even though he is a strong Wikileaks advocate, Greenwald is not subject to the invasive monitoring one would expect.
posted by humanfont at 4:46 PM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have a question. If a laptop is made in China, could it have a backdoor for the Chinese government? We've seen plenty of instances where US companies assist China in their censorship. Could the Chinese government let the first few production runs go through without a backdoor and then impose on the factory owners to put backdoors in the computers for them?
posted by Ironmouth at 4:51 PM on June 17, 2013


I have a question. If a laptop is made in China, could it have a backdoor for the Chinese government? We've seen plenty of instances where US companies assist China in their censorship. Could the Chinese government let the first few production runs go through without a backdoor and then impose on the factory owners to put backdoors in the computers for them?

Theoretically, sure, but an attack of that nature is pretty unpredictable in terms of delivering results.

The concept is at the core of why you see some governments not allowing telecoms/etc to source from manufacturers located in certain countries. So basically yes, but the high value targets are not in desktop or consumer systems.
posted by iamabot at 4:55 PM on June 17, 2013


I have a question. If a laptop is made in China, could it have a backdoor for the Chinese government?
Yes. The US companies might not even know about it, since their machines are all assembled at places like Foxconn's shenzhen factories. Foxconn is actually a Taiwanese company, but it would only take a handful of employees to slip special chips into the assembly process.

This has actually been a concern when it comes to networking gear, Huawei in particular has been singled out for bans in the US and other countries over concerns their gear may have back-doors.

Realistically, I think unlikely, since it would basically destroy a subcontractor if they were caught
posted by delmoi at 4:56 PM on June 17, 2013


More likely intel put a secret keylogger in and sold secret access to both China and the US. It also sold the patch that disables it for secure computing.
posted by humanfont at 5:06 PM on June 17, 2013


So I imagine you think the annual Hong Kong Tienanmen Vigil/Protest are staged by Chinese intelligence as well. This kind of "conspiracy everywhere" thinking isn't really worth engaging with, there's hardly any difference between someone like you and Alex Jones types.

150,000 people attending a protest rally critical of the Chinese government does not suggest that 50 demonstrators represent widespread outrage toward the American government. It is, rather, more evidence to the contrary.
posted by Brian B. at 5:16 PM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


More likely intel put a secret keylogger in and sold secret access to both China and the US. It also sold the patch that disables it for secure computing.
I don't think that's very likely at all.

Thinking about this from a theoretical point of view, you couldn't really put a keylogger in a CPU, because the CPU itself can't tell the difference between keyboard IO and IO from any other device. You could put on in the southbridge, or a separate USB host controller. A pure hardware system though wouldn't be able to communicate over the network, since it wouldn't have knowledge of the OS (maybe you could hardcode something for windows, but with address randomization that wouldn't work very well)

What you could do is something something like, when a special USB key is plugged in, it dumps the contents of a flash buffer with the last N keystrokes, though.

Of course if you have access to the room, you can just use a hidden camera or a microphone to listen in to determine which keys are pressed (different keys tend to sound slightly different).

But, you can use an on-screen keyboard to bypass both cameras/microphones and hypothetical hardware bugs that record keystrokes (you could have a bug that records the screen, but that would require far more memory)

Also, one of the early guardian articles indicated that Snowden would put a towel over his head and the laptop when he was using it to avoid cameras :P.

Anyway, I think the speculation is a bit fanciful and unrealistic. Neither the Chinese government nor the NSA have magical powers. The more important the data you have is, the more precautions you have to take - but keeping things secure isn't impossible.
posted by delmoi at 5:39 PM on June 17, 2013


If a laptop is made in China, could it have a backdoor for the Chinese government?

Absolutely, but it depends what you mean by a backdoor. If you have nearby physical access to the hardware itself then the "backdoor" might just be a hardware glitch that makes it easier to get information from the machine or the user's interaction with it. If you don't have nearby access then you may be satisfied with low-level interaction with the machine, e.g., being able to scan parts of its memory. Those back doors can be subtle and built into firmware of the machine. If you need to control the machine then you need to be able to access the OS itself. It would be hard but possible to make, e.g., a BIOS that would reprogram the OS at load time to give you the access you need. It would be much easier if you knew what OS the user would install. If you're the one installing the OS then it would be trivial to install a backdoor.

Also, the more control you desire, and the less physical access you have, the higher the level of the intrusion you would need and the less plausible any deniability. Listening to the sounds of the user typing? Extremely deniable. Picking up radio-frequency signals leaked by a "faulty" hard drive? Very deniable. A laptop that retains information in its memory after it's turned off? Somewhat deniable. A hacked OS that lets you download random files? Who are you kidding.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:40 PM on June 17, 2013


More likely intel put a secret keylogger in and sold secret access to both China and the US. It also sold the patch that disables it for secure computing.


I would love to see someone produce The List of Things, and Their Likelihoods. Otherwise this sort of remark is antithetical to conducting a discussion in good faith. It is made with an implication of certainty, but without the slightest shred of evidence. Is it just Intel? Does all of this imagined state security apparatus fall apart if I use another manufacturer's chipset? Is the NSA responsible for me gaining a couple pounds this year? Seems more likely.
posted by samofidelis at 6:23 PM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


There's no evidence to believe that if he has data he is concerned about keeping a secret he doesn't know how. From the Q&A: "Encryption works. Properly implemented strong crypto systems are one of the few things that you can rely on. Unfortunately, endpoint security is so terrifically weak that NSA can frequently find ways around it." This isn't a response given by someone who is unaware of the precautions necessary to safely store data. His actions appear well considered even if they may be disagreeable on an emotional or ethical basis and his commentary reflects technical competence.

One thing to remember when it comes to common hardware platforms and things like key logging capability (beyond what is known and made available by common management tools) is that machines that have Linux (or some other open platform) support have been scrutinized fairly closely simply in order to optimize and implement everything the hardware can do. I can't say it's impossible to hide something, but it has to be done under the full scrutiny of legions of dedicated hardware/software nerds. There are too many experts on these subjects to imagine that they're all obligated to silence.
posted by feloniousmonk at 7:20 PM on June 17, 2013


We actually live in a world where the NSA tried to have its own (breakable) encryption added to phones and where companies will comply with a secret warrant that says "give me all your data on everyone". So it's not ridiculous to suppose that Intel would comply with an NSA order to make its hardware susceptible to hacking; it's also not ridiculous to suppose that NSA has people smart enough to make computer hardware fail in very, very subtle ways. That doesn't mean that unlikely explanations suddenly become plausible; it just means that we have to be cautious about saying things are "too difficult" or "too expensive" or "too politically dangerous".
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:27 PM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think it's hard enough to hide something like that from the type of person who is as comfortable at a debugger prompt as they are in front of an oscilloscope that even if Intel tried to comply with a secret order to backdoor their hardware, they'd run a serious risk of getting caught by people who would love to tell the world every detail about it. If there are hardware backdoors, I think they're much more likely to live on the periphery of the system or be ephemeral things like the USB key thing delmoi mentioned.
posted by feloniousmonk at 7:32 PM on June 17, 2013


Anyone noticing that Snowden has quite upstaged the Growler of Austin?
posted by telstar at 7:49 PM on June 17, 2013


I think it's hard enough to hide something like that from the type of person who is as comfortable at a debugger prompt as they are in front of an oscilloscope that even if Intel tried to comply with a secret order to backdoor their hardware, they'd run a serious risk of getting caught by people who would love to tell the world every detail about it.

Back doors don't need to be very obvious; it's enough if they are exploitable. Here's one I just came up with: keystrokes write to a circular buffer. That is, if you have 16 places in the buffer then you just keep track of the position of the most recently-pressed key (i.e., it is in position 1 to 16) and put the next key in the space after it, looping back to buffer space 1. You also keep track of the keystrokes written out from the buffer, and you keep printing out keystrokes until you catch up with the position of the most recently pressed key. Easy-peasy. But let's say that your buffer size is 64K instead of 16 bytes. Sloppy but nothing especially suspicious, especially if you're rolling your own hardware. Keystrokes come in, keystrokes go out.

But now there are 64K worth of keystrokes stored on your machine, and if someone can extract them they have a record of your typing. And to extract them all you need to do is change either of those two pointers. In fact, the easiest thing to do is to just zero the "most recently printed" pointer and it will happily print out everything typed on the machine, up to 64K worth. And bugs that result in pointers being set incorrectly are very common and very deniable. It doesn't need to be anything obvious; you might have buggy keyboard self-test that combines with some weird race condition, or whatever. But this is effectively a key logger if you know it's there.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:14 PM on June 17, 2013


Excellent stuff on the backdoor stuff. I was told about Chinese agents physical access to US govt laptops today and I'm learning what the danger level is.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:39 PM on June 17, 2013


If there is something spying on your machine, it's on the periphery of the system and it's not some CPU-level magic microprocessor secret mega-hack. This is what I think couldn't be hidden.

Keyloggers can certainly escape notice and in fact are already present in a lot of machines anyway (most managed IT environments have tools that can do this). Even an undetectable keylogger is not foolproof. Someone who is aware of them is going to use a software keyboard and physically obstruct visuals.
posted by feloniousmonk at 9:25 PM on June 17, 2013


Father of Edward Snowden urges son not to commit 'treason,' to return home
posted by homunculus at 9:36 PM on June 17, 2013


"Encryption works. Properly implemented strong crypto systems are one of the few things that you can rely on. Unfortunately, endpoint security is so terrifically weak that NSA can frequently find ways around it." This isn't a response given by someone who is unaware of the precautions necessary to safely store data.
Yes, that also struck me as an entirely sensible response to the "should I encrypt my email" question. It's a pragmatic "as strong as its weakest link" systems view, and it doesn't give any fuel to the tin-hat theories that (a) "the NSA designed back-doors into AES/RSA" and (b) "the NSA have already cracked AES/RSA".
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 9:47 PM on June 17, 2013


I think it's hard enough to hide something like that from the type of person who is as comfortable at a debugger prompt as they are in front of an oscilloscope that even if Intel tried to comply with a secret order to backdoor their hardware, they'd run a serious risk of getting caught by people who would love to tell the world every detail about it
So, just to be clear I don't think it's at all likely that a typical laptop will have any kind of hardware backdoors. This is purely hypothetical - but not all hardware gets the same level of scrutiny. Stuff like the iPhone, PS3, Xbox and so on are locked in a way that prevents a user from doing what they want with it. So, of course some people are going to bust out the logic probes and try to hack them and see what's going on.

However, stuff like an Ivy bridge southbridge chip? The thing is there are so many variations and revisions. How many people pay close attention to them at all? Why would someone spend a ton of time to reverse engineer them when their next laptop would probably have a completely different chipset?

Manufacturers probably check to ensure that the systems they get from the supplier match their specifications exactly, but other then that? Ironically it would probably be groups like the NSA who would probably be checking for things like this, since part of their jobs is to keep things secure.

Also, I do remember hearing somewhere that Snowden took 'secure' NSA laptops with him. I'm not sure if that's accurate, but if it's the case then those machines are far less likely to have any backdoors in them.
Back doors don't need to be very obvious; it's enough if they are exploitable. Here's one I just came up with: keystrokes write to a circular buffer. ... Easy-peasy. But let's say that your buffer size is 64K instead of 16 bytes.
Right, but again overall the likelihood that Chinese suppliers just happened to have put backdoors into the very laptop Snowden happens to be using strikes me as highly unlikely.

And as I said, if you're that paranoid you can use an on-screen keyboard to enter a passphrase, which would prevent a simple hardware keyboard buffer from capturing data. (I'm not sure if you can do that for a boot system, but you can use one password to boot, and another to open an encrypted volume once the system boots)

And seriously, in order for any particular laptop to be vulnerable, these hardware keyloggers would need to be installed on virtually every laptop in the world - in order to have a 90% success rate, 90% of laptops would have to have the a hardware bug accessible by the Chinese government.
posted by delmoi at 9:47 PM on June 17, 2013


My problem with a back door being in a core component is the likelihood of a of bug. Given the saturation of deployment you need for this to be useful, there's going to be a bug someday and that's when the oscilloscope/gdb crowd gets involved. Unless you happen to be able to target a particular and narrowly constrained set of hardware in advance, I don't see how you get around that.
posted by feloniousmonk at 9:54 PM on June 17, 2013


Also, one thing you can do if you're super-paranoid is build a low-end computer using an FPGA test board. You can enter passwords directly in binary using simple switches wired directly into the FPGA if you want. A hardware bug in an FPGA would never work because it would have no idea what logic gates were assigned to what function.

As you can see, that test kit has an SDCard slot. You could store an encrypted block of data on a card, stick it into the FPGA board, enter the password and select the file, and have it decrypt and save it back on the card.

Again, this isn't anything anyone would in any realistic situation, but perhaps you're in Hong Kong and you've got data that Chinese would love to get their hands on I suppose it wouldn't hurt.
posted by delmoi at 10:03 PM on June 17, 2013


I don't think he even needs to have the data physically on his person for this scenario to play out. He could've been seeding torrents of popular movies with the encrypted content chunked in at the end for months now for all we know.
posted by feloniousmonk at 10:10 PM on June 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


We do know that the NSA was notified by Microsoft and possibly other software makers about security vulnerabilities in products before other disclosures were made. We know that the Chinese managed to hack a "smart" thermostat in the US Chamber of Commerce to use to collect data from that organization. During the Clipper chip fight the NSA wanted a backdoor in all encryption systems. Then they dropped it over the public backlash. Of course the government also dropped the TIA project after the pubic backlash, but we've seen that just means the project goes underground.
posted by humanfont at 10:15 PM on June 17, 2013


"All I can say right now is the US government is not going to be able to cover this up by jailing or ­murdering me. Truth is coming, and it cannot be stopped."
My guess from his comments today is that he already has a dead-man's switch set up somewhere that will auto-post or otherwise spill material publicly if he doesn't keep logging in on a regular schedule to prevent such a thing from happening.
posted by Asparagirl at 10:18 PM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


One thing we need to keep in mind is that Snowden allegedly walked out of there with a thumb drive and some laptops. This was not a high-tech solution, and it doesn't sound as if his employers were paranoid about security.

But while we're doing security porn, here's something to give food for thought: your colleague's iPhone may be listening to you type. [PDF of paper] That particular technique isn't much good for finding passwords, but I suspect that you could extend it to learn the sounds or vibrations made by each key of a particular keyboard and then you'd be able to extract passwords or anything else you wanted.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:55 PM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


My guess from his comments today is that he already has a dead-man's switch set up somewhere
He actually posted on that topic on Ars Technica on May 21, 2012, which was his last post on the site.
posted by delmoi at 11:40 PM on June 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Eli Lake via Emptywheel: FBI Thinks There's Another Leaker
The FBI, according to Eli Lake, thinks someone besides Edward Snowden may be responsible for leaking the Section 215 order to Verizon ordering them to turn over the metadata on all their American customers’ calls. They claim to think so because digital copies of such orders exist in only two places: computers at the FISA Court and FBI’s National Security Division that are segregated from the Internet. (Note: where Lake says “warrant” in this passage, he means “order.”)
posted by notyou at 7:41 AM on June 18, 2013


FBI Thinks There's Another Leaker

Manning, that was one guy. Him and Snowden, that's two guys. Now we're potentially up to three suspected civil liberties whistleblowers, and it looks a little like a movement.
posted by jaduncan at 7:44 AM on June 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


You can get anything you want at Snowden's Whistlestop.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:57 AM on June 18, 2013


The FBI, according to Eli Lake, thinks someone besides Edward Snowden may be responsible for leaking the Section 215 order to Verizon

Also a Chinese spy, I assume.
posted by ryoshu at 8:53 AM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Tom Engelhardt: The Making of a Global Security State
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:22 AM on June 18, 2013


...The officials say phone companies like Verizon are not allowed to store a digital copy of the warrant, and that the documents are not accessible on most NSA internal classified computer networks or on the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System, the top-secret internet used by the U.S. intelligence community.

The warrants reside on two computer systems affiliated with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and the National Security Division of the Department of Justice. Both systems are physically separated from other government-wide computer networks and employ sophisticated encryption technology, the officials said. Even lawmakers and staff lawyers on the House and Senate intelligence committees can only view the warrants in the presence of Justice Department attorneys, and are prohibited from taking notes on the documents.
One problem people run into with over-the-top security protocols is that insiders tend to end up circumventing them because they're so inconvenient. It's possible someone at the FISA court or DOJ was feeling lazy and decided to upload it to the top secret network, rather then walk it over somewhere in a "secure pouch" and read it to someone. Perhaps thinking that since it was "Top Secret" it would be totally safe.
posted by delmoi at 9:27 AM on June 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


The FBI, according to Eli Lake, thinks someone besides Edward Snowden may be responsible for leaking the Section 215 order to Verizon

I never even thought Snowden was the Verizon leaker. Had to be someone else.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:43 AM on June 18, 2013


The Real Reason You're Mad at the NSA - "Imagine the civil-military divide -- but much, much bigger."
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:51 AM on June 18, 2013


After an Easy Hearing, the NSA and FBI are Ready for a Drink
posted by homunculus at 11:51 AM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Schneier - Evidence the NSA is storing Voice Content.
posted by iamabot at 12:44 PM on June 18, 2013


iamabot: "Schneier - Evidence the NSA is storing Voice Content."
www.schneier.com uses an invalid security certificate.

The certificate expired on 6/18/13 6:55 AM. The current time is 6/18/13 4:03 PM.
Whoops! Looks like Bruce forgot to renew his SSL cert.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:13 PM on June 18, 2013


http:// link works fine, btw
posted by tonycpsu at 1:14 PM on June 18, 2013


I'm seeing a certificate issued on 6/17/2013 expiring 7/20/2015.

Maybe you're getting an old version from a cache? Maybe he updated it in the past 50 minutes?

Or maybe you're getting MTM'd.

DUNT DUNT DUNNNNNN
posted by delmoi at 1:54 PM on June 18, 2013


Probably my fault, I use https everywhere which often isn't terribly picky about certs. Or we're all getting MIM'd by the fuzz.
posted by iamabot at 2:45 PM on June 18, 2013


Looks like Snowden did provide the Verizon order--accessed it during training.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:11 PM on June 18, 2013


So he visited the FISA court during training? Or the FBI's National Security division? Or he was shown a copy?

Or Eli Lake and his source are full of shit?
posted by notyou at 4:45 PM on June 18, 2013


NSA Chief: Snowden Got Access To Top Secret Court Order During Training
posted by BobbyVan at 5:11 PM on June 18, 2013


NSA Chief: Snowden Got Access To Top Secret Court Order During Training

“That’s in an exceptionally controlled area,” Snowden said. “You would have to have specific certificates to get into that. I’m not aware that he, Snowden, had any access to that.”

Snowden is starting to talk funny.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:12 PM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


The TPM article I linked was apparently a botched rewrite of a report from Politico. Here's the full passage from Politico:
Alexander said during the hearing that while Snowden worked as a system administrator he had access to the portals used to acquire various kinds of surveillance data, but he had no authority or ability to actually initiate surveillance or collect such data.

"What you get access to is helping to run the network and the web service that are on that network that are publicly available," the NSA chief said—apparently using the term "public" to mean widely available to NSA employees and contractors. "To get to any data like the business records [call-tracking data] that we're talking about, that's in an exceptionally controlled area. You would have to have specific certificates to get into that. I am not aware that he had, he, Snowden, had any access to that."
posted by BobbyVan at 5:16 PM on June 18, 2013


Glenn Greenwald (Guardian): Obama and other NSA defenders insist there are robust limitations on surveillance but the documents show otherwise
posted by BobbyVan at 5:21 PM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Anyway, it seems to me that Obama actually has no idea how any of this stuff actually works. And why would he? I doubt that a non-technical CEO at a major corporation is going to know how the internal IT systems work in every office. They may know what the policy is supposed to be but they may not whether or not that policy is actually implemented in code.

It may be that you're not "supposed" to do X, but that doesn't mean the code will actually prevent you from doing it if you try. There was a french banker who made long bets on the stock market even though the "policy" was to make hedged bets. The technical system didn't prevent him from doing it.

Oh and on looking him up again I see he's been personally fined €4.9 billion. Which I find hilarious.
Snowden is starting to talk funny.
I know talking about himself in the third person, and showing up to congressional hearings all of a sudden. Weird. It's not an obvious typo or anything...
posted by delmoi at 5:42 PM on June 18, 2013


Discovering Names Of Secret NSA Surveillance Programs Via LinkedIn
posted by delmoi at 6:27 PM on June 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


Well the Politico link that suggests Snowden got access to the Verizon document during training has been updated:
UPDATE (Tuesday, 4:33 P.M.): This post has been updated to remove a reference to Snowden having access to the Verizon order during training at NSA Headquarters. Alexander said the training was at the Threat Operations Center, which is located in Hawaii.

UPDATE 2 (Tuesday, 4:44 P.M.): This post has been updated to note that NSA declined to clarify Alexander's remarks on Snowden's access.
Never giving a straight answer must be part of the job description.

So we still don't know how Snowden got access to a file that, according to earlier reporting, is supposed to be stored in only two segregated computer systems (FISA Court and FBI Natl Security Div).
posted by notyou at 7:19 PM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Never giving a straight answer must be part of the job description.

N)o S)traight A)nswers.

Also, read Delmoi's link for ROFL insanity. Between this and letting Snowden walk out with a thumbdrive (and laptops?), the NSA might as well outsource its security to a guy it found on Craigslist.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:56 PM on June 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


Michael Hastings: Why Democrats Love To Spy On Americans

Update: I guess that article is old, from the 7th - someone retweted it now because he just died
posted by delmoi at 10:43 PM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


NSA Chief: Snowden Got Access To Top Secret Court Order During Training

Maybe it was a live fire exercise — or a live firing offense exercise. Can't imagine the bosses being too happy with that kind of screw-up.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:16 PM on June 18, 2013


Well, they have access to the laptop when he's out of the room or asleep. They let themselves in with a key. So it would be a hardware exploit, yes.

The main method (given that I very much doubt that the laptop is unsecured) is to smash in the door/otherwise get the powered up machine, take the RAM out whilst it's still live, cool them down a lot, mount them in another machine, grab all of the memory addresses still live and see if it's possible to fish the key out of that. This is extremely hard absent a remote exploit if the key is stored in the TPM, and also the data in memory will only stay live for a few moments so the more physically secure the normal RAM is the harder this exploit is. It would not surprise me in the slightest if Snowden had poured non-conductive epoxy all over the sticks for this reason, and nor would it surprise me at all if the machine is powered off all of the time unless Snowden requires data off it right at that moment. You'd keep another laptop for general work, and airgap the data carrying machine from the internet.
posted by jaduncan at 4:28 AM on June 19, 2013


Oh, and even then you'd keep the key on a USB stick that is combined with the key you type in on the data laptop to unlock that laptop. You might even have multiple bits of the keys on different sticks, and store one inside of you when sleeping. That would ensure that even replacing the keyboard would not result in a complete compromise. One can also have the USB key run a checksum on the (cryptographically signed by you) boot sector of the laptop hard drive, just to start a chain of trust.

If one is truly concerned about security in a certain application, this is the type of thing one ends up implementing.
posted by jaduncan at 4:41 AM on June 19, 2013


This is all to say, Ironmouth, that it is not that even nation states can easily break into a cryptographically secured laptop just by seizing it rather than it, the person and all things that the person owns (and even then they may have additionally secured things by giving a necessary secret to a third party precisely to account for the possibility of arrest and/or seizure).
posted by jaduncan at 4:47 AM on June 19, 2013


Jaduncan wrote: You might even have multiple bits of the keys on different sticks, and store one inside of you when sleeping.

I really hope this just means "memorise it".

Honestly, nobody in this exercise seems to have behaved with the level of paranoia you describe. I bet his USB key is just a small doohickey protected (at best) by a lengthy pass phrase. And yes, it's quite likely that the Chinese government will have all its info as it's decrypted, but my view is that they probably have it anyway: if Snowden had access to it then other unreliable people had access to it, and it will have been copied long ago.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:52 AM on June 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Depends how paranoid you wish to be. It's not entirely unusual to conceal the USB key when going through customs and such. I would, if carrying documents that would be desired by pretty much every intelligence service in the world.
posted by jaduncan at 7:23 AM on June 19, 2013


I still don't know why he'd keep the data physically on him. It would be handy but from a practical perspective, a totally boneheaded move if you have several months to prepare. The laptops strike me more as a mechanism to process and work on the data than store it.

I also don't know why he'd bother trying to cross international borders with laptops containing state secrets when it's just as easy to pull the stuff down on a USB key after the flight.

The only thing you practically would need to keep on your person, and not even then, was data integrity hashes for wherever in the wide world of the tubes you stashed stuff.

Presumably Snowden understands the fundamentals of data, and that 1's and 0's don't need to be carted around with you.
posted by iamabot at 9:13 AM on June 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh, sure. I'm just addressing this in the context of Ironmouth's statement that it's possible to exploit strong crypto with just access to the laptop it might be stored on. Even if we assume that the data is on that machine rather than stored on the cloud, it's not enough.
posted by jaduncan at 9:57 AM on June 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, and even then you'd keep the key on a USB stick that is combined with the key you type in on the data laptop to unlock that laptop. You might even have multiple bits of the keys on different sticks, and store one inside of you when sleeping. That would ensure that even replacing the keyboard would not result in a complete compromise. One can also have the USB key run a checksum on the (cryptographically signed by you) boot sector of the laptop hard drive, just to start a chain of trust.

If one is truly concerned about security in a certain application, this is the type of thing one ends up implementing.


The guy doesn't even know the Fourth Amendment doesn't apply to non-US persons overseas, so I'd be amazed if he really thought this one out that much. Taking the hardware to China seems like the dumbest possible move.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:57 AM on June 19, 2013


How the NSA's High-Tech Surveillance Helped Europeans Catch Terrorists: The debate about NSA eavesdropping has left European investigators bemused. U.S. technology collects mountains of data that often aids their cases, they say. But there's no substitute for real human spying.
posted by homunculus at 11:29 AM on June 19, 2013


Ironmouth, to the best of our present cryptographic knowledge it is impossible to break strong encryption. So in theory, it doesn't matter where Snowden's encrypted data is: he might as well have published it on his Facebook page. But "strong encrpytion" in this sense does imply a longish password, so Jaduncan suggests he would keep that password broken into chunks and recorded in separate places. I presume he's working on the theory that a search is unlikely to give them all the chunks? I don't think that's a safe assumption: they don't need to get all the chunks at the same time.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:15 PM on June 19, 2013


The guy doesn't even know the Fourth Amendment doesn't apply to non-US persons overseas, so I'd be amazed if he really thought this one out that much. Taking the hardware to China seems like the dumbest possible move.
You still don't seem to understand that in other countries they have other laws that apply in those countries. It doesn't matter whether or not the 4th amendment applies, The NSA was obviously breaking Hong Kong law when it hacked into Hong Kong computer networks.

You don't even understand basic cryptography - you really are in no position to judge how well he's keeping the data secured. The basic fact is that there are plenty of ways to keep data secure. The more security you use, the more expensive and time consuming it is to try to get it. Obviously if they want it enough they can try to beat it out him to turn it over at gun point or beat it out of him (although, there is the issue of deniable encryption).

But the basic point is that walking into Hong Kong with reasonably secured data isn't the same as handing it over to the government.
posted by delmoi at 5:00 PM on June 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


The NSA was obviously breaking Hong Kong law when it hacked into Hong Kong computer networks

If that indeed did happen.
posted by nightwood at 8:04 PM on June 19, 2013


FBI uses drones inside U.S. for spying, director says

The FBI uses drones "in a very, very minimal way and very seldom," said Mueller, adding that "we have very few."
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:58 PM on June 19, 2013


NSA Whistleblower Russ Tice Alleges NSA Wiretapped Barack Obama as Senate Candidate
They went after--and I know this because I had my hands literally on the paperwork for these sort of things--they went after high-ranking military officers; they went after members of Congress, both Senate and the House, especially on the intelligence committees and on the armed services committees and some of the--and judicial. But they went after other ones, too. They went after lawyers and law firms. All kinds of--heaps of lawyers and law firms. They went after judges. One of the judges is now sitting on the Supreme Court that I had his wiretap information in my hand. Two are former FISA court judges. They went after State Department officials. They went after people in the executive service that were part of the White House--their own people. They went after antiwar groups. They went after U.S. international--U.S. companies that that do international business, you know, business around the world. They went after U.S. banking firms and financial firms that do international business. They went after NGOs that--like the Red Cross, people like that that go overseas and do humanitarian work. They went after a few antiwar civil rights groups.
...
ow here’s the big one. I haven’t given you any names. This was is summer of 2004. One of the papers that I held in my hand was to wiretap a bunch of numbers associated with, with a 40-something-year-old wannabe senator from Illinois. You wouldn’t happen to know where that guy lives right now, would you? It’s a big white house in Washington, DC. That’s who they went after. And that’s the president of the United States now.
I wonder if Snowden had access to any of those documents...
posted by ryoshu at 10:54 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wow. If this is true it's much worse than we thought. I mean J Edgar Hoover didn't have shit on these guys...
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 1:55 PM on June 20, 2013


NSA Whistleblower Russ Tice Alleges NSA Wiretapped Barack Obama as Senate Candidate

Tice's allegations are extraordinary. If substantiated, the "NSA scandal" would be on the level of a Watergate. But extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

It's also worth noting Tice's history.
Russ Tice is a former employee of DIA and NSA who reported in 2001 that a coworker might be a Chinese spy. After Tice pressed his concerns, NSA declared him mentally unbalanced, reassigned him to clean cars in the motor pool, and eventually revoked his security clearance. He was fired last year [in 2005].
Unless he (or Snowden) can present some kind of documentation or proof that the NSA has been used for domestic political purposes, I'd counsel strong skepticism.
posted by BobbyVan at 2:30 PM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Revealed: the top secret rules that allow NSA to use US data without a warrant. Fisa court submissions show broad scope of procedures governing NSA's surveillance of Americans' communication
posted by homunculus at 3:13 PM on June 20, 2013


Unless he (or Snowden) can present some kind of documentation or proof that the NSA has been used for domestic political purposes, I'd counsel strong skepticism.

OK, here you go. Yes, yes, that was years ago, and I'm sure everyone is very sorry about it. But the only thing that seems to restrain the NSA is policy, and how do we know what their policy is and how it can change?
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:59 PM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


What a coincidence -- exclusive new revelations about the leaker have emerged mere hours after the Guardian published another round of leaked documents.
posted by compartment at 7:42 PM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Did anyone read the NYT piece based on Snowden's documents? Snowden's documents show the program as Obama said it was:
They offer a glimpse of a rule-bound intelligence bureaucracy that is highly sensitive to the distinction between foreigners and “U.S. persons,” which technically include not only American citizens and legal residents but American companies and nonprofit organizations as well. The two sets of rules, each nine pages long, belie the image of a rogue intelligence agency recklessly violating Americans’ privacy.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:43 PM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


What a coincidence -- exclusive new revelations about the leaker have emerged mere hours after the Guardian published another round of leaked documents.

The coincidence is reversed. There was a hearing on Capitol Hill about scheduled for today. The Guardian and Greenwald no doubt deliberately released the new info today to get more coverage.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:48 PM on June 20, 2013


somebody finally calls out journalists for their creepy stories about Snowden's girlfriend
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 2:33 AM on June 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


The coincidence is reversed. There was a hearing on Capitol Hill about scheduled for today. The Guardian and Greenwald no doubt deliberately released the new info today to get more coverage.

Sounds like classic muckraking. Good on them.

They offer a glimpse of a rule-bound intelligence bureaucracy that is highly sensitive to the distinction between foreigners and “U.S. persons,” which technically include not only American citizens and legal residents but American companies and nonprofit organizations as well. The two sets of rules, each nine pages long, belie the image of a rogue intelligence agency recklessly violating Americans’ privacy.

What are you quoting? Maybe you could link to the things you are quoting so that we can read them in context. That's kinda considered good form around here. I thought you would have known that.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 5:38 AM on June 21, 2013


What are you quoting?

Documents Detail Restrictions on N.S.A. Surveillance
posted by BobbyVan at 5:47 AM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thanks.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 5:49 AM on June 21, 2013


Chris Pyle, Whistleblower on Domestic Spying in 70s, Says Be Wary of Attacks on NSA’s Critics

Still waiting for the supporters of these types of intelligence gathering activities to explain to us why we should trust the government with these powers given the history the NSA, CIA, and FBI in this regard.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 6:17 AM on June 21, 2013


Sorry on the link, was on mobile and it forces a mobile link paste in there so I didn't link.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:34 AM on June 21, 2013


ah np, sorry for being a snarkymcsnarkerson.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 7:06 AM on June 21, 2013


Foreign targets spy back.

Requisite infographic.
posted by infini at 7:17 AM on June 21, 2013


Still waiting for the supporters of these types of intelligence gathering activities to explain to us why we should trust the government with these powers given the history the NSA, CIA, and FBI in this regard.

There's a quandary here. Do we assume that ex-official threats to our identity, privacy, association, travel, and security are real or imagined? If the former, can you better trust something other than a public government when it comes to those things? If the latter, then I would like to know how those threats are being fabricated, and by whom and why. It's rather easy to study feudalism, cults and regimes and see them spying on everyone, but they don't come to power that way. They come to power by privately plotting, murdering, agitating, conspiring, lying, fear-mongering, terrorizing, and whatnot. The data collection while in power is a holding pattern for anyone who happens to be in control. If you like what you have, consider ways to hold onto your power. If you don't like what you have, then tell us who we should trust with or without our internal security.
posted by Brian B. at 7:22 AM on June 21, 2013


In this thread: "The NSA get every bit of foreign comms they can, as do GCHQ. We are very much standing in a glass house on this, especially since it's non-coincidental that GCHQ have listening posts in the US and NSA have some here. We (certainly before domestic spying became a thing) had an arrangement where we'd do the spying on each other's population that might be illegal for the home government then share the data with each other. The UK is directly involved in NSA stuff; it's not that we are hard done by so much as co-conspirators."

So, yeah, Snowden and the Guardian are saying pretty much that today.

Again, I am astonished that the big backbone providers aren't facing a lot more questioning.
posted by jaduncan at 10:23 AM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Brian B. are you asserting that Cointelpro and the Church committee never happened, or were fabricated? I don't really understand what you are trying to argue here. There has been clear abuse in the past so my question is: given what we know about the history of domestic spying and also everything that has happened since...iran-contra, the Iraq War, drone assassinations, ect...why should we trust the federal government with this power they have clearly abused in the past? There also the fact that there has been no proof forthcoming about the success that these programs have had in combating terrorism. I would think that in a sane society we would come to the realization that if we quit putting terror out into the world we will probably receive a lot less terrorism in return. Basically, if we quit bombing third world countries then maybe, just maybe, we won't need to throw out the bill of rights and any pretense of an open society.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:32 AM on June 21, 2013


NSA: If Your Data Is Encrypted, You Might Be Evil, So We'll Keep It Until We're Sure
posted by homunculus at 1:57 PM on June 21, 2013


So, if the NSA "inadvertently" looks at your communications and decides there's something interesting in there it gets to keep them. If the NSA can't look at your communications -- because it is encrypted -- then it gets to keep them until such a time they are able to decrypt the communication and look at it.

What constitutes a "threat to harm people or property"?
What is considered "usable intelligence"?
What is "any information relevant to cybersecurity"?

Is it just me or are these holes big enough to drive an oil tanker through?
posted by ryoshu at 3:20 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


You're missing something. *GCHQ* can look at your data and pass on a tip derived from it. Then the tip is reasonable suspicion.
posted by jaduncan at 3:34 PM on June 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


The top secret rules that allow NSA to use US data without a warrant
However, alongside those provisions, the Fisa court-approved policies allow the NSA to:

• Keep data that could potentially contain details of US persons for up to five years;

• Retain and make use of "inadvertently acquired" domestic communications if they contain usable intelligence, information on criminal activity, threat of harm to people or property, are encrypted, or are believed to contain any information relevant to cybersecurity;

• Preserve "foreign intelligence information" contained within attorney-client communications;

• Access the content of communications gathered from "U.S. based machine[s]" or phone numbers in order to establish if targets are located in the US, for the purposes of ceasing further surveillance.
Sorry for not providing the link.
posted by ryoshu at 3:40 PM on June 21, 2013


Fact-check: The NSA and Sept. 11
posted by homunculus at 3:53 PM on June 21, 2013


U.S. charges Edward Snowden with espionage in leaks about NSA surveillance programs

We welcome this debate! We wouldn't be having it under Bush like we are under my transparent administration! Put this guy in jail so we never have to do this again!
posted by Drinky Die at 3:54 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Obama Administration Has Declared War On Whistleblowers, Describes Leaks As 'Aiding The Enemy'
posted by homunculus at 4:19 PM on June 21, 2013


Espionage...fuckers...of course its sealed...you know top secret stuff and all.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 4:29 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


why should we trust the federal government with this power they have clearly abused in the past?

Mainly because we have real enemies that use the internet, for example, to communicate. You suggest wanting proof of prevention, but yet we still have terror strikes and attempts, which is a demand for better, not less surveillance. I would argue that it won't slow down for the simple reason that there are so many scientific avenues to pursue terror beyond what we're used to seeing. Not just terror either, as I've mentioned before, the data collection would either expose or slow corruption of all kinds.
posted by Brian B. at 4:33 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Espionage...fuckers...of course its sealed...you know top secret stuff and all.

Greenwald: Anyone have interest in a criminal investigation to discover which "officials" leaked news of the sealed indictment?
posted by Drinky Die at 4:56 PM on June 21, 2013 [6 favorites]


Not often I say it, but the amount of zing and correctness in one tweet was truly impressive there.
posted by jaduncan at 5:12 PM on June 21, 2013


U.S. charges Edward Snowden with espionage in leaks about NSA surveillance programs

We welcome this debate! We wouldn't be having it under Bush like we are under my transparent administration! Put this guy in jail so we never have to do this again!


By his own admission, this man knowingly broke the law. Almost everything he "revealed" was already written into US law and debated in the press and even was the subject of a Nova episode. The courts ruled long ago (1979) that metadata doesn't require a warrant.

The fact that he's going to jail means nothing to the debate. So it is now time to actually debate the policy. Which the outrage machine can't do. So where exactly should the lines be drawn and why?
posted by Ironmouth at 6:21 PM on June 21, 2013


The fact that he's going to jail means nothing to the debate.

Not yet a fact. Agreed on the part about the debate.

The courts ruled long ago (1979) that metadata doesn't require a warrant.

At least one sitting Supreme Court Justice is on record, in a concurring opinion on a related 4th amendment case (the one which it was decided that police officers needed a warrant to track vehicles via GPS), voicing skepticism about the fitness of that view. So while it is a fact today that metadata is afforded no privacy protection, it may not* be a fact for much longer.

----------------
*If big American data services providers start to see customers flee to more secure shores, we may see improvement in this area sooner rather than later.
posted by notyou at 6:30 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


By his own admission, this man knowingly broke the law. Almost everything he "revealed" was already written into US law and debated in the press and even was the subject of a Nova episode. The courts ruled long ago (1979) that metadata doesn't require a warrant.

The legality of the program is a subject of debate among legal experts, some details have been discussed in this thread and the previous threads. I think everyone here is aware of your personal opinion on that debate at this point, but you may need to come to terms with the idea that some folks may not view your opinion as fact and may be commenting based on a differing view.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:53 PM on June 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


but you may need to come to terms with the idea that some folks may not view your opinion as fact and may be commenting based on a differing view.

That view is based on zero Supreme Court precedent. Zero.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:13 PM on June 21, 2013


Yes I am aware of your views on that, your legal opinions on this matter have been very thoroughly discussed across several threads. Please do not take any comments I make that may not be based fully on accepting your views as fact as expressing a desire to continue that particular debate in detail.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:24 PM on June 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


That view is based on zero Supreme Court precedent. Zero.

Which Supreme Court decision legalized general warrants?
posted by ryoshu at 7:25 PM on June 21, 2013


The Most Ludicrous Statement From A President
posted by homunculus at 7:33 PM on June 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


as I've mentioned before, the data collection would either expose or slow corruption of all kinds.

Could you provide some evidence for this instead of just asserting it? Ideally, yes I agree with you, but history seems to tell a different story.

we have real enemies

Do we? It would seem that most enemies we currently have have been ones of our own making. Look at the clusterfuck that is currently playing out in Syria. The White House recently announced that it is going to start arming the Syrian rebels, the majority of which are Islamic fundamentalist terrorists; many of the strongest factions of which are openly affiliated with al Qaeda. No recipe for blowback there.

Listen we have to make a fundamental choice in this country: do we want to be a democracy or do we want to be an Empire? If we truly want to be a democracy our democratic institutions need to be radically reformed to confront the multitude of new technological and scientific advancements that have radically altered not only societal structure, but also the fundamental power balance between citizens and their government. If we want to have an Empire then I guess we just need to sit back and enjoy the ride. I guess my main point is that it doesn't have to be this way. Especially when the same government that is causing many troubles abroad uses those same troubles to justify questionable practices at home. That rings a bit like extortion to me. There are other paths we can take. We can have a secure and peaceful society without turning it into a totalitarian system. My contention, again, is that if we interacted more peacefully with other nations we would create an opportunity for more democracy and less totalitarianism.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 8:55 PM on June 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


Ironmouth, you know I have time for you. I just think that you trend to argue from the stance that what is legal is correct, and (as, say, slavery or the changing stance of society regarding corporal punishment demonstrated) that is not necessarily true.

It's OK for people to take the view that this is authoritarian and un-American even if it is legal, but even if you don't accept that we already know that the FISA court took the view that some of the program was not constitutional in any case.

Why is this program the hill you want to die on?
posted by jaduncan at 9:01 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


The coincidence is reversed. There was a hearing on Capitol Hill about scheduled for today. The Guardian and Greenwald no doubt deliberately released the new info today to get more coverage.
No shit.
By his own admission, this man knowingly broke the law.
So did the fucking hypocrites who leaked details of his investigation and sealed indictment. I don't see you clamoring for investigation and arrest.
The fact that he's going to jail...
Now who's being naïve?
That view is based on zero Supreme Court precedent. Zero.
And you think the Supreme court has jurisdiction in Hong Kong?

___
NSA: If Your Data Is Encrypted, You Might Be Evil, So We'll Keep It Until We're Sure
If you delete the keys you use the data is gone forever, whether or not a bunch of meaningless noise is sitting on an NSA server taking up space.
posted by delmoi at 10:22 PM on June 21, 2013


just watched catch-22 again after 20 years. snowden. amazon prime. thefutureyay.

1. come on, kids. who cares about the bikes; make the anti-man movies, from within the man, like mike nichols did!

2. come on, ironmouth. be yossarian. stop being charles grodin. ok fine. stop being charlie sheen.
posted by notyou at 1:01 AM on June 22, 2013


NSA surveillance may be legal — but it’s unconstitutional
posted by ryoshu at 6:53 AM on June 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


NSA surveillance may be legal — but it’s unconstitutional

I believe that conclusion is right, but that opinion piece is not a convincing argument for it.
posted by nightwood at 7:43 AM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


That view is based on zero Supreme Court precedent. Zero.

Which Supreme Court decision legalized general warrants?


A warrant is not needed and hasn't ever been needed. In 1979 the Court ruled a warrant is not needed for telephone number information.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:36 AM on June 22, 2013


A warrant is not needed and hasn't ever been needed. In 1979 the Court ruled a warrant is not needed for telephone number information.

The supreme court at one point also ruled that it was constitutional to inter hundreds of thousands of Japanese during WWII (see Korematsu v. United States). Surely you wouldn't argue that we should start throwing all Muslim Americans into internment camps because they might be terroroists, would you? I mean the Supreme course said it was constitutional so that means it is the right and correct thing to do, no?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 8:52 AM on June 22, 2013


Listen we have to make a fundamental choice in this country: do we want to be a democracy or do we want to be an Empire?.... My contention, again, is that if we interacted more peacefully with other nations we would create an opportunity for more democracy and less totalitarianism.

I couldn't disagree more on our influence. We don't make the choices for others to be undemocratic and to become empires. We must deal with it and not believe that our defensive posture is leading them to behave badly.
posted by Brian B. at 9:03 AM on June 22, 2013


According to the NYT Snowden has already been under the protection of the HK Security services:
For the past week, Mr. Snowden, 30, has been staying in an apartment in Hong Kong’s Western neighborhood that is controlled by the Hong Kong government’s security branch, according to a person who has followed the case and spoke on the condition of anonymity. Mr. Snowden appears to have been granted access to the apartment after seeking protection from the Hong Kong police against a possible rendition attempt by the United States, the person said.
posted by delmoi at 10:51 AM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


A warrant is not needed and hasn't ever been needed. In 1979 the Court ruled a warrant is not needed for telephone number information.

What did the Supreme Court rule about "inadvertently" collecting information from US citizens by monitoring all Internet traffic that passes through the US? Which version of the fourth amendment says it's okay to forgo a warrant as long as there are secret minimization procedures in place? When did the Supreme Court review those minimization procedures?
posted by ryoshu at 11:04 AM on June 22, 2013


South China Morning Post: EXCLUSIVE: Snowden safe in Hong Kong, more US cyberspying details revealed
posted by delmoi at 12:24 PM on June 22, 2013


Snowden extradition would 'tarnish Hong Kong's image', says China state media

Hong Kong govt silent on Snowden’s fate as lawmakers call for China to decide
Hong Kong legislators said that the Chinese government should make the final decision on whether former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden should be extradited to the United States now that the Justice Department has charged him with espionage and theft of government property.

Outspoken legislator Leung Kwok-hung said Beijing should instruct Hong Kong to protect Snowden from extradition before his case gets dragged through the court system. Leung also urged the people of Hong Kong to “take to the streets to protect Snowden.”

Another legislator, Cyd Ho, vice-chairwoman of the pro-democracy Labour Party, said China “should now make its stance clear to the Hong Kong SAR (Special Administrative Region) government” before the case goes before a court.
posted by delmoi at 1:06 PM on June 22, 2013


And you think the Supreme court has jurisdiction in Hong Kong?

Its only Federal District Court for the District of Hawaii that Snowden needs to be concerned about. Because Hong Kong has an extradition treaty with the United States.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:43 PM on June 22, 2013


Yeah, you are right on the interwebs, my imaginary friend, but lets save our breath and watch what happens...delmoi's links (scmp tells me my freebies are over) seem to imply a far more interesting turn of events. The 'Exclusive' headlines include the fact that Tsinghua has been hacked into as well a bunch of other places and it sounds like what's just past is only the tip of the iceberg.

There's a larger shift happening here, at least in mindsets adn opinions, if nothing else in the short term. At least all the foreigners who now know they're under scrutiny. The emphasis on how all of this only for non USians has not been said only within the fortress walls, as the very tools used and owned just happen to serve up this information to the rest of the planet. The same emphasis which implies its the 300 milion against the 7 billion. Way to make friends, people.

The backlash has just begun - no, nothing violent nor dangerous or harmful. Nobody would be foolish enough to go up against the biggest strongest player in the field, the one who owns the ball, the bat and the gloves. But when "poor" Africans burst Google's balloon and say, hey we've already got 3.75G covering most of our country, dude, why are you planning to send up all these balloons to "give us access"...it can only get very interesting from here.

The percentage of real terrorists vs rest of the world on all these websites, clouds and operating systems is minuscule. The real concern is competitive intelligence. The so called emerging economies and developings worlds are still showing economic growth and potus hisself is out there shaking hands and kissing babies in the last remaining "market" to be bought and sold. Too bad it was the Brazilians (burn!) and Turks (spray!) who got in there shaking hands and doing business, under the radar of the "eeek the Chinese". No competitive advantage there.

France has its "Sovereign Cloud" project while across the Rhine data firms have created the label "Cloud Services: Made in Germany", all trying to reassure big companies that their information is stored away from the prying eyes of U.S. spies.

European firms believe revelations that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) has secretly gathered user data from nine big U.S. Internet companies, including Microsoft and Google, will hand them a competitive advantage as they play catch-up with the dominant American players in "cloud computing".

Yet companies and individuals may have to accept that while storing and processing their most sensitive information on servers owned by Europeans and located in Europe could keep it from the NSA's eyes, intelligence agencies closer to home may be looking anyway.

"If you are going to have a Big Brother, I'd much rather have a domestic Big Brother than a foreign Big Brother," said Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer at internet security company F-Secure, which also offers cloud services with data stored in the Nordic countries.

posted by infini at 2:10 PM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


*looks at inbox*

Oh gawd, ist aht the Firm again writing me? Is it tme to giv numero uno $5 again?
posted by infini at 2:12 PM on June 22, 2013


Map of global GDP 2013
posted by infini at 2:17 PM on June 22, 2013


Once you look at that map, and if you happen to have focused your work on some of those fastest growing yet hitherto underserved and overlooked regions, and you've begun receiving the oddest of linkedin requests, you don't even need your reading glasses to read between those glaringly obvious dots. Not when you've got a Deen type of problem and that type of frontier market. *wrings hands* *omg what we gonna do*

wait for the long arm of the law?
posted by infini at 2:31 PM on June 22, 2013


Its only Federal District Court for the District of Hawaii that Snowden needs to be concerned about. Because Hong Kong has an extradition treaty with the United States.
A truly baffling comment. Having an extradition treaty doesn't mean that the US can pull anyone it wants out of Hong Kong for any reason it wants. The Treaty doesn't cover political offenses, which this obviously is.

Furthermore both Hong Kong and the Chinese government can block an extradition request if they feel like it. And why wouldn't they block it?

You also seem convinced that Snowden is a Chinese spy. But you can't believe that and also expect him to be extradited. Do you think the US would extradite a US spy to Hong Kong for spying for the US? Then why would you expect the Chinese to extradite a Chinese spy from Hong Kong to the US?
posted by delmoi at 2:50 PM on June 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


But...but..but..its the law!

*thundering hooves in the distance*

The F troop saves the day!
posted by infini at 2:58 PM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


The use of the word 'meanwhile' in this press release is glorious.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 3:59 AM on June 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


I gather someone will be along shortly to explain how HK are wrong, and empire-by-drone will be along shortly.
posted by pompomtom at 5:18 AM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


It just keeps getting better:
GCHQ taps fibre-optic cables for secret access to world's communications
Exclusive: British spy agency collects and stores vast quantities of global email messages, Facebook posts, internet histories and calls, and shares them with NSA, latest documents from Edward Snowden reveal
Basically, the UK is in it up to their eyeballs; their use of material is, if anything, more lax than that of the USA; and they have an oversight board that is very nearly as dormant as the FISA court.

On the other hand, they're not breaching any provision of the UK constitution.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:11 AM on June 23, 2013


I gather someone will be along shortly to explain how HK are wrong, and empire-by-drone will be along shortly.

This is certainly a great move for HK, since they were in a tough position.
posted by nightwood at 6:27 AM on June 23, 2013


Edward Snowden leaves Hong Kong for Moscow: live updates
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:54 AM on June 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


On the other hand, they're not breaching any provision of the UK constitution.

Nor is the US breaching any part of the US Constitution.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:27 AM on June 23, 2013


Also it appears cell location data is not included--we know because someone just subpoenaed the government for their cell location data from the database for their murder trial and the government stated the data does not include location data. There will be a wave of subpoenas now, especially from divorce lawyers. The Illinois Toll Authority had to remove its scofflaw cameras due to a flood of subpoenas from divorce lawyers.

http://redtape.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/06/20/19061109-lawyers-eye-nsa-data-as-treasure-trove-for-evidence-in-murder-divorce-cases?lite
posted by Ironmouth at 8:32 AM on June 23, 2013


From the Live Updates page linked above:

Snowden's U.S. passport revoked yesterday & Hong Kong authorities notified -- but may have come too late to stop Snowden leaving HK

— Jon Williams (@WilliamsJon) June 23, 2013

#Russia notified by U.S. embassy in Moscow that Snowden no longer has a valid U.S. passport & that U.S. "desires to have him deported" #NSA

— Jon Williams (@WilliamsJon) June 23, 2013

posted by Unified Theory at 8:42 AM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Greenwald's response to David Gregory's suggestion that Greenwald should be charged with aiding and abetting Snowden is just beautiful. What a fool Gregory is, and Greenwald magnificently puts him in his place. (It's in the brief video posted on the Guardian's Live Updates page.)
posted by Unified Theory at 8:49 AM on June 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Huh. I bet when "Meet the Press" was first created it didn't mean the host would be meeting an actual journalist for once.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:54 AM on June 23, 2013


Nor is the US breaching any part of the US Constitution.

[citation needed]

[don't bother; citation won't be found]
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 8:55 AM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Gregory committed the cardinal sin of asking a tough question of another journalist.
posted by nightwood at 8:59 AM on June 23, 2013


Gregory committed the cardinal sin of asking a tough question of another journalist.

No he committed the cardinal sin of being a complete tool.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:01 AM on June 23, 2013


"Do you think you should be in jail?" is not really a tough question for most people.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:04 AM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


True - to be honest watching it live I thought it was a softball question. I was a little bit surprised that greenwald attacked the question instead of answering it.
posted by nightwood at 9:18 AM on June 23, 2013


True - to be honest watching it live I thought it was a softball question. I was a little bit surprised that greenwald attacked the question instead of answering it.
posted by nightwood at 11:18 AM on June 23
[+] [!]


He did answer it. He pointed out the absurdity of criminalizing investigative journalism which is an implicit answer of "no, I have not aided and abetted Snowden." Is that not an "answer," nightwood?
posted by Unified Theory at 9:22 AM on June 23, 2013


ABC reports that Snowden's passport was revoked on Saturday, leaving US officials even more baffled as to how he was allowed to fly out from Hong Kong. It is, however, unlikely to be a problem for Russia – if Snowden is in transit and never leaves the airport, his immigration status is not Moscow's issue.

I cannot ever recall a time when I have enjoyed seeing my country's government outwitted, humiliated, and made to look like fools, but that's how I feel right now.
posted by Unified Theory at 9:29 AM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


The HK government's press release is kind of amazing, it's a straightup smackdown of the US government.
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.
So much for the "HK law doesn't matter since they have an extradition treaty" theory. I guess this also proves he's not a Chinese spy, since he obviously wouldn't have had any reason to leave Hong Kong at all if he was.
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.
So much for the idea that no one outside of the US has any legal rights and the US can "legally" do whatever it wants...
posted by delmoi at 9:44 AM on June 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


Nor is the US breaching any part of the US Constitution.

Ironmouth, I'll ask again:

What did the Supreme Court rule about "inadvertently" collecting information from US citizens by monitoring all Internet traffic that passes through the US? Which version of the fourth amendment says it's okay to forgo a warrant as long as there are secret minimization procedures in place? When did the Supreme Court review those minimization procedures?

Thanks.
posted by ryoshu at 9:56 AM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Looks like Snowden has requested asylum in Ecuador.
posted by iamabot at 9:57 AM on June 23, 2013


Speaking of fools:
"The bottom line is very simple: allies are supposed to treat each other in decent ways and Putin always seems almost eager to put a finger in the eye of the United States, whether it is Syria, Iran and now of course with Snowden," Schumer said on CNN's State of the Union.

"That's not how allies should treat each other and I think it will have serious consequences for the United States-Russia relationship."
It's almost like Schumer is begging for the release of details about the US hacking Russia.
posted by ryoshu at 9:59 AM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't quite understand this comment on the Guardian live updates page:

Here is a copy of the United States-Ecuador extradition treaty. While it doesn't apply to "political" cases, Ecuador, of course, would face heavy diplomatic pressure from the United States if it chose to grant Snowden asylum.

As if Ecuador has shown any concern about cooperating with the US recently...
posted by Unified Theory at 10:14 AM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


What did the Supreme Court rule about "inadvertently" collecting information from US citizens by monitoring all Internet traffic that passes through the US? Which version of the fourth amendment says it's okay to forgo a warrant as long as there are secret minimization procedures in place? When did the Supreme Court review those minimization procedures?

All in 1979. You invent a fantasy jurisprudence where the Supreme Court would adjudicate some sort of mass tort on behalf of society. Our law of standing and the political question doctrine preclude such an analysis. A person would have to show personal harm to have sued. And in 1979, the Supreme Court ruled obtaining information regarding which phone number called which number is not a search under the Constitution. There is simply not a legal leg to stand on in your propositions.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:17 AM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


As if Ecuador has shown any concern about cooperating with the US recently...

Where is Ecuador not cooperating with the US?
posted by Ironmouth at 10:19 AM on June 23, 2013


And in 1979, the Supreme Court ruled obtaining information regarding which phone number called which number is not a search under the Constitution.

I'm not asking about the Verizon data, I'm asking about the situations where the NSA captures the content of communications of US citizens. Are you saying the 1979 ruling applies to those situations too? When the NSA collects the contents of a US citizen's internet communications without a warrant, reads those contents, then says, "oops", the Supreme Court has ruled that's okay?
posted by ryoshu at 10:23 AM on June 23, 2013


I don't think Ecuador is sheltering Assange in its embassy because it is concerned about the merits of the rape charges against him.
posted by Unified Theory at 10:23 AM on June 23, 2013


And in 1979, the Supreme Court ruled obtaining information regarding which phone number called which number is not a search under the Constitution. There is simply not a legal leg to stand on in your propositions.

Again, you are treating what's been going in 2013 as completely analogous to Smith, which, as has been demonstrated, it clearly isn't.

You're also assuming, wrongly, that loss of privacy is a one-way street and that the number and scope of things in which you have a reasonable expectation of privacy can never increase. Neither of these assumptions is backed up by anything.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 10:24 AM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Nor is the US breaching any part of the US Constitution.

Right.

But plenty of citizens of the United States acting under the color of authority who breach parts of the Constitution VS fellow citizens.

Meanwhile:

the Obama administration was pressing a government-wide crackdown on security threats that requires federal employees to keep closer tabs on their co-workers and exhorts managers to punish those who fail to report their suspicions.
posted by rough ashlar at 10:32 AM on June 23, 2013


All of these theories about potential future decisions indicate one thing: it is constitutional.

As for the edge stuff swept up in PRISM, we do have to look at it. Every act the government does with that data has to not be prohibited. That's a lot of circimstances and a review is needed there.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:32 AM on June 23, 2013


Every act the government does with that data has to not be prohibited.

And if it doesn't?
posted by rough ashlar at 10:37 AM on June 23, 2013


But plenty of citizens of the United States acting under the color of authority who breach parts of the Constitution VS fellow citizens.

Every day. And every day our courts exclude evidence and free persons convicted by reliance on information obtained in violation of the Constitution.

If you seek perfection, there is none to be found anywhere.

But the question is whether or not the specific practice discussed here, the recording of the phone numbers is Constitutional. It was long ago ruled not a search and Constitutional.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:38 AM on June 23, 2013


Every act the government does with that data has to not be prohibited.

And if it doesn't?


Then the practice must stop. As said upthread, I've had the process described to me before, which was then confirmed by the NY Times. The goverment does apply the rules to the data. When an analyst reviews a record, he or she must go over a long worksheet, marking off what kind of data it is and for what purposes it may be legally used.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:43 AM on June 23, 2013


Then the practice must stop. As said upthread, I've had the process described to me before, which was then confirmed by the NY Times.

And that was "the truth"?

Given past tripple-plus-un-thruths, why should this time be accepted as 'truth'?
posted by rough ashlar at 10:46 AM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


It was long ago ruled not a search and Constitutional.

It's a search if society has a reasonable expectation of privacy in the thing searched. Which a majority of Americans seem to think we have (not that a majority is required, but I'll take it anyway).

What American society believed in 1979 does not trump what American society believes in 2013.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 10:46 AM on June 23, 2013


What American society believed in 1979 does not trump what American society believes in 2013.

Yes it does. This is all fantasy jurisprudence to try and get around the cold hard fact that the Court's decisions are exactly opposite of what you say they are. Not only that, but our legislators deliberately passed the law that allows these records to be given to the government quite recently.

You cannot say the government is violating the law when the law is in the government's favor. It is simply non-factual to state that the government wasn't following the law because it isn't following your hypothetical on where the law will be in the future.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:11 AM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]



Then the practice must stop. As said upthread, I've had the process described to me before, which was then confirmed by the NY Times.

And that was "the truth"?

Given past tripple-plus-un-thruths, why should this time be accepted as 'truth'?


Who are you accusing of not telling the truth?
posted by Ironmouth at 11:12 AM on June 23, 2013


[Couple of comments deleted. As usual, let's keep it focused on the issues, not the people in the discussion. And everybody, please regulate your own engagement if it's getting to be excessive. Thanks.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:28 AM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Back to latest developments - as an international traveler it worries me how quickly a nation is able to revoke the passport (and thus protection and citizenship) of an individual yet its informative to see how these sovereign nations are handling the matter so delicately on the global stage.

Otoh the US media sounds increasingly like its shadow boxing, putting it charitably. If they start taking potshots at everyone ("Russia is showing it can't be friends"...er, complete loss of memory/history/the 20th Century anyone?) then it seems inevitable that perhaps the best thing for them to do is throw up Operation Plastic Umbrella as a shield from sea to shining sea and just blow the rest of us to kingdom come. That'll learn us all no?

But hey, worrying about the consequences of random rhetoric on one's reputation and/or image has never been a problem before. Just this time, everyone's watching, listening and reading avidly. and, I suspect, giggling...
posted by infini at 11:37 AM on June 23, 2013


Yes it does.

No, it doesn't.

This is all fantasy jurisprudence to try and get around the cold hard fact that the Court's decisions are exactly opposite of what you say they are.

No, it's not. (Again, you're unable to point out where the Court has said the 2013 searches are legal because it hasn't.) Maybe you should reread Katz to discover that society's expectation of privacy is necessary to determine whether something is a search.

"The government did a thing involving recording phone numbers dialed this one time and it was OK, so that means it's OK when it does anything involving recording phone numbers dialed now and for ever, amen" is not really a sound argument if you think about it.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 11:39 AM on June 23, 2013


Ironmouth, can you explain why you were wrong about Hong Kong's extradition treaty requiring them to turn over Snowen, and why exactly you were wrong about Hong Kong's laws not being relevant?

Because obviously you were.
posted by delmoi at 11:51 AM on June 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


the Obama administration was pressing a government-wide crackdown on security threats that requires federal employees to keep closer tabs on their co-workers and exhorts managers to punish those who fail to report their suspicions.

Are you now or have you ever been a civil libertarian?
posted by ryoshu at 11:57 AM on June 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


Our esteemed colleague has enough on his plate, gentlemen, shall we turn our attention to the next episode of Logan's Run?
posted by infini at 11:58 AM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Nor is the US breaching any part of the US Constitution.
posted by Ironmouth


Right, if the President does it, it must be legal. Where have we heard that before?

A significant number of knowledgeable people are asserting a breach of the constitution. One of them is Edward Snowden; the basis of his whistleblowing claim is that what he has revealed (or I hope may yet reveal) exceeds the constitutional authority of the government to implement. Until the question is adjudicated on that basis (not on the basis of Snowden, Hero or Traitor Amirite?) no one has any standing to say unequivocally that the government is acting within its constitutional authority. That is what it *asserts,* through mouthpieces who sound a lot like you, when finally pressed on the question (which we were never supposed to ask because we were never supposed to know any of the facts we now know, and I'm sure many more facts).

The government cannot simply say "trust us, we're obeying the constitution." When challenged it needs to defend itself in court. You cannot challenge secret laws and secret policies and secret practices when the violation of their secrecy is treated only as an opportunistic crime.

A lawyer from the government says it's ok, so let's just accept that, huh? By that measure, Bush's torture policies were legal because he found legal bases to pursue them, and articulate lawyers to defend them. And sadly, apparently President Obama agreed with that.

The problem is that power corrupts. And absolute power corrupts absolutely. When, in human history, has that been proven untrue?
posted by spitbull at 12:03 PM on June 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


He pointed out the absurdity of criminalizing investigative journalism which is an implicit answer of "no, I have not aided and abetted Snowden." Is that not an "answer," nightwood?

It's an answer to a question not posed. Greenwald did what lawyers and politicians do everyday - avoid a (surprising to me) difficult question by answering a different question and attacking the questioner.
posted by nightwood at 12:11 PM on June 23, 2013


Gregory is a man of his ilk. Tools, all of them. He's got his orders: smear Snowden, and get Greenwald if you can. They all do.

Clumsy totalitarians. They never change.
posted by spitbull at 12:16 PM on June 23, 2013


Bush's torture policies were legal because he found legal bases to pursue them, and articulate lawyers to defend them. And sadly, apparently President Obama agreed with that.

I meant to say, following the above, that we have therefore never had a proper public ruling on the legality of the Bush administration's torture and rendition policies. By that measure, presumably -- Ironmouth -- you think torture remains perfectly constitutional, as long as the government calls it something else like "enhanced interrogation techniques," right? And what about the targeted drone-killing of American citizens without due process of law? OK?
posted by spitbull at 12:20 PM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


The problem is that power corrupts. And absolute power corrupts absolutely. When, in human history, has that been proven untrue?

When in human history has blind ignorance of corruption and wrongdoing ever succeeded?
posted by Brian B. at 12:25 PM on June 23, 2013


And what about the targeted drone-killing of American citizens without due process of law?

I wonder how long it's going to take a victim of a drone strike to petition the Court?
posted by ryoshu at 12:34 PM on June 23, 2013


Our esteemed colleague has enough on his plate, gentlemen, shall we turn our attention to the next episode of Logan's Run?

BioShock Creator Writing the Logan's Run Remake
posted by homunculus at 12:38 PM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


When in human history has blind ignorance of corruption and wrongdoing ever succeeded

Over what period of time?

Because it sure does seem to be successful for SOME length of time in all of the cases where such is called out and it stops.
posted by rough ashlar at 12:42 PM on June 23, 2013


criminalizing investigative journalism

I'm just a furriner and IANAL but isn't this supposed to be held up as the shining flag of the constitutional right to free speech and a free press in a free country?


wonders if homunculus has a ticker tape machine of relevant headlines at fingertips?
posted by infini at 12:49 PM on June 23, 2013


I need no machine.
posted by homunculus at 1:24 PM on June 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


Because you are one.
posted by klue at 1:38 PM on June 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Possible threat detected. Subject: klue
posted by homunculus at 1:43 PM on June 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


You Don’t Have To Like Edward Snowden: Reporters have always been comfortable ignoring their sources’ motives. Now everybody else needs to get used to that.
posted by homunculus at 1:47 PM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


On the upside, if Snowden decides he never wants to see the inside of a US courtroom, he can pop over to Guantanamo during his layover in Cuba.
posted by ryoshu at 2:49 PM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


You Don’t Have To Like Edward Snowden: Reporters have always been comfortable ignoring their sources’ motives. Now everybody else needs to get used to that.

He doesn't have an image problem as far I can tell. If we was an older vet with a war trauma and a red nose, and maybe some past legal issues to dig up, such as divorce and job terminations, most young supporters wouldn't have read past his photo caption. He has star power, but the administration will likely survive his blatant attempt at undoing it because they addressed the claims, while Snowden gave his foreign interrogators untold details. On second thought, I guess he does have an image problem to people who see the contradiction in giving secrets to China while whining about a domestic surveillance program that is looking for spies.
posted by Brian B. at 2:53 PM on June 23, 2013


If we was an older vet with a war trauma and a red nose, and maybe some past legal issues to dig up, such as divorce and job terminations, most young supporters wouldn't have read past his photo caption.

This is a most remarkably patronising sentence.
posted by jaduncan at 3:12 PM on June 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


This is a most remarkably patronising sentence.

I say less so than the quote I was commenting under. The idea of getting used to not liking someone is rather condescending considering that the dislike might be towards his character and his personal choice of international conspirators, as if ignoring motives is rational at this point. Regardless, all posters here excepted from my comment, obviously.
posted by Brian B. at 3:30 PM on June 23, 2013


That doesn't make it less patronising; the reason why it was patronising is because it accuses people of looking at personalities rather than the content of speech based on their age. The underlying ageist assertion is that young people are not as aware of intellectual content versus ad hom as older people, and merely excluding MeFi people doesn't mean that claim is not being made.

Derailing for dummies can probably explain this better:
A ‘variation on the theme’ of the above tactic, this is also how you dodge out of accusations you are making offensive and incorrect generalizations or treating marginalized person like a hive-mind. It’s convenient because it doesn’t require you to do the unthinkable and actually admit you were wrong and being a total jerk, but it gives the impression you are making a concession of some sort. Even though you are, in fact, simply defending your prejudiced viewpoint through a subtler means. At least, you think so. Chances are, the marginalized person is actually not going to be fooled by this cleverness (though expect that other privileged people will be) and will grow more irritated you honestly believe them so stupid as to be persuaded by such obvious and underhand dodge tactics*. Some examples you could use: Claiming that women prefer to work with people in power from behind the scenes rather than work on their own careers; that fat people are simply lazy, unmotivated and always looking for a quick fix; that people with mental illnesses are usually just playing the system and looking for charity whilst exaggerating their conditions.

Don’t forget that when you are called out on your generalization shift to a semantics argument: “Now, now, I never said ALL marginalized people act that way, just that SOME do, and so it can’t really be called a generalization can it?” Example: “I never said all people on food stamps are buying lobster and champagne! Just that some are! Are you saying NO ONE cheats the system?”

*Remember, getting them angry is ultimately a good thing, because while it may result in discomfort for you, it will also enable you and your supporters to further dismiss their words on the grounds they ‘can’t be civil’. Don’t forget you don’t have to deal with their anger for too much longer and can soon return to your cushiony world of unchallenged privilege, so it is worth it in the long run!
posted by jaduncan at 4:34 PM on June 23, 2013


while Snowden gave his foreign interrogators untold details

Says who? Do we know this?
posted by spitbull at 4:48 PM on June 23, 2013


while Snowden gave his foreign interrogators untold details

Says who? Do we know this?


Remember, this is Schrödinger's intel. It is both top secret and everyone knows about it at the same time.
posted by ryoshu at 4:56 PM on June 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


Says who? Do we know this?

No, it's untold.
posted by jaduncan at 4:58 PM on June 23, 2013


That makes it a smear, at the moment. I notice the headlines all have become "suspect's travels raise fears of foreign involvement" and implications that the Russians and the Chinese only helped him because he gave up information to them or was working for them.

Classic smear techniques, and I'm not going to believe it until it is proven.
posted by spitbull at 5:08 PM on June 23, 2013


I'm surprised their ability to trace and capture all data from everywhere, in place just in case there's an element of foreign involvement in matters regarding national security, hasn't helped them out in this critically important matter as yet. Shocking, I tell you.
posted by infini at 5:13 PM on June 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Reading the latest coverage in the New York Times, an unnamed Russian official is quoted saying that special measures were taken to ensure that Snowden could safely travel through Russia and stay at a capsule hotel there.

The "four laptops" are mentioned in pretty much the same breath. Does anyone have any plausible idea why he has four laptops, when the information he absconded with was supposedly smuggled out on thumb drives? Given the capacity of laptop storage versus that of thumb drives, I just don't understand the need to be weighed down by four laptops in his circumstances.
posted by Unified Theory at 5:18 PM on June 23, 2013


Classic smear techniques, and I'm not going to believe it until it is proven.

Excellent advice for all sides in this discussion.
posted by nightwood at 5:21 PM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


The underlying ageist assertion is that young people are not as aware of intellectual content versus ad hom as older people, and merely excluding MeFi people doesn't mean that claim is not being made.

No, it means they implicitly trust him more because personal identification, with an unknown, explaining the age divide. Posters are excluded as a matter of fact, since I was going from polls and have no idea of anyone's age here.
posted by Brian B. at 5:42 PM on June 23, 2013


A significant number of knowledgeable people are asserting a breach of the constitution. One of them is Edward Snowden; the basis of his whistleblowing claim is that what he has revealed (or I hope may yet reveal) exceeds the constitutional authority of the government to implement.

So, we are judging who is and is not "knowledgable." Ok, I will bite. Mr. Snowden is "knowlegeable?" Edward Snowden has a GED. I'm a litigator with 10 years experience. He knows jack shit about the law. The very basis of his claim is that the Constitution covers every non-US person, so the US needs a warrant. There is not a scrap of precedent supporting that position.

Let's make this easy. Find me the decision that gets around this:
Although subjective expectations cannot be scientifically gauged, it is too much to believe that telephone subscribers, under these circumstances, harbor any general expectation that the numbers they dial will remain secret.

Petitioner argues, however, that, whatever the expectations of telephone users in general, he demonstrated an expectation of privacy by his own conduct here, since he "us[ed] the telephone in his house to the exclusion of all others." Brief for Petitioner 6 (emphasis added). But the site of the call is immaterial for purposes of analysis in this case. Although petitioner's conduct may have been calculated to keep the contents of his conversation private, his conduct was not and could not have been calculated to preserve the privacy of the number he dialed. Regardless of his location, petitioner had to convey that number to the telephone company in precisely the same way if he wished to complete his call. The fact that he dialed the number on his home phone rather than on some other phone could make no conceivable difference, nor could any subscriber rationally think that it would.

Second, even if petitioner did harbor some subjective expectation that the phone numbers he dialed would remain private, this expectation is not "one that society is prepared to recognize as `reasonable.'" Katz v. United States, 389 U.S., at 361 . This Court consistently has held that a person has no legitimate expectation of privacy in information he [442 U.S. 735, 744]   voluntarily turns over to third parties. E. g., United States v. Miller, 425 U.S., at 442 -444; Couch v. United States, 409 U.S., at 335 -336; United States v. White, 401 U.S., at 752 (plurality opinion); Hoffa v. United States, 385 U.S. 293, 302 (1966); Lopez v. United States, 373 U.S. 427 (1963). In Miller, for example, the Court held that a bank depositor has no "legitimate `expectation of privacy'" in financial information "voluntarily conveyed to . . . banks and exposed to their employees in the ordinary course of business." 425 U.S., at 442 . The Court explained:

"The depositor takes the risk, in revealing his affairs to another, that the information will be conveyed by that person to the Government. . . . This Court has held repeatedly that the Fourth Amendment does not prohibit the obtaining of information revealed to a third party and conveyed by him to Government authorities, even if the information is revealed on the assumption that it will be used only for a limited purpose and the confidence placed in the third party will not be betrayed." Id., at 443.
Because the depositor "assumed the risk" of disclosure, the Court held that it would be unreasonable for him to expect his financial records to remain private.
This analysis dictates that petitioner can claim no legitimate expectation of privacy here. When he used his phone, petitioner voluntarily conveyed numerical information to the telephone company and "exposed" that information to its equipment in the ordinary course of business. In so doing, petitioner assumed the risk that the company would reveal to police the numbers he dialed. The switching equipment that processed those numbers is merely the modern counterpart of the operator who, in an earlier day, personally completed calls for the subscriber. Petitioner concedes that if he had placed his calls through an operator, he could claim no legitimate expectation of privacy. Tr. of Oral Arg. 3-5, 11-12, 32. We [442 U.S. 735, 745]   are not inclined to hold that a different constitutional result is required because the telephone company has decided to automate.

Petitioner argues, however, that automatic switching equipment differs from a live operator in one pertinent respect. An operator, in theory at least, is capable of remembering every number that is conveyed to him by callers. Electronic equipment, by contrast, can "remember" only those numbers it is programmed to record, and telephone companies, in view of their present billing practices, usually do not record local calls. Since petitioner, in calling McDonough, was making a local call, his expectation of privacy as to her number, on this theory, would be "legitimate."

This argument does not withstand scrutiny. The fortuity of whether or not the phone company in fact elects to make a quasi-permanent record of a particular number dialed does not, in our view, make any constitutional difference. Regardless of the phone company's election, petitioner voluntarily conveyed to it information that it had facilities for recording and that it was free to record. In these circumstances, petitioner assumed the risk that the information would be divulged to police. Under petitioner's theory, Fourth Amendment protection would exist, or not, depending on how the telephone company chose to define local-dialing zones, and depending on how it chose to bill its customers for local calls. Calls placed across town, or dialed directly, would be protected; calls placed across the river, or dialed with operator assistance, might not be. We are not inclined to make a crazy quilt of the Fourth Amendment, especially in circumstances where (as here) the pattern of protection would be dictated by billing practices of a private corporation.

We therefore conclude that petitioner in all probability entertained no actual expectation of privacy in the phone numbers he dialed, and that, even if he did, his expectation was not "legitimate." The installation and use of a pen register, [442 U.S. 735, 746]   consequently, was not a "search," and no warrant was required. The judgment of the Maryland Court of Appeals is affirmed.

It is so ordered.
There is no way around this. None. There is no decision that has ever reversed Smith. There is simply no caselaw supporting the position taken by the "expert" GED holder Snowden. I expect an actual decision, not a dissent, or I heard Sotomayor once say. I'm talking about the operable law and interpretation of the Constitution, not some fantasy where a court suddenly decides to judge more than the impact on a particular litigant. A real, live, Supreme Court decision, which overrides Smith.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:32 PM on June 23, 2013


Oh good let's do that conversation for the tenth time.
-

Put on your tinfoil!

Michael Hastings Sent Email About FBI Probe Hours Before Death


Subject: FBI Investigation, re: NSA
Hey (redacted names) -- the Feds are interviewing my "close friends and associates." Perhaps if the authorities arrive "BuzzFeed GQ," er HQ, may be wise to immediately request legal counsel before any conversations or interviews about our news-gathering practices or related journalism issues.

Also: I'm onto a big story, and need to go off the rada[r] for a bit.

All the best, and hope to see you all soon.

Michael

posted by Drinky Die at 6:35 PM on June 23, 2013


Edward Snowden has a GED. I'm a litigator with 10 years experience.

The Lavaballs thread is over there.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:54 PM on June 23, 2013 [13 favorites]


Edward Snowden has a GED. I'm a litigator with 10 years experience.

Dunning-Kruger much? I am a litigator with ten years experience, too, and that really doesn't amount to a hill of beans as an indicium of knowledgeability. Sorry.

I would place far more stock in what an intelligent but uneducated guy like Snowden has concluded when his courageous, history-making ass is on the line than I would in an unknown litigator with "ten years experience" dropping knowledge on a message board that he haunts.
posted by Unified Theory at 7:16 PM on June 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm a litigator with 10 years experience.

Presumably you paid the 5 bucks most everyone else did?
posted by iamabot at 8:21 PM on June 23, 2013


I would place far more stock in what an intelligent but uneducated guy like Snowden has concluded when his courageous, history-making ass is on the line than I would in an unknown litigator with "ten years experience"

I'm uncomfortable, to say the least, to have a sysadmin deciding what is and what is not a 'legitimate target' of our signal intelligence.
posted by nightwood at 8:55 PM on June 23, 2013


I'm uncomfortable, to say the least, to have a sysadmin deciding what is and what is not a 'legitimate target' of our signal intelligence.


Heh, I don't know if him being a system administrator and analyst guided him more than say, Oh.. I dunno, being a US citizen.
posted by iamabot at 9:01 PM on June 23, 2013


I dunno, being a US citizen

Cool - does mean we get to vote on whether or not we spy on the Chinese? How about the North Koreans? Or Hamas? Perhaps we should just layout all our signal and human intelligence operations for a healthy public debate.
posted by nightwood at 9:12 PM on June 23, 2013


Sounds good to me.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:13 PM on June 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Cool - does mean we get to vote on whether or not we spy on the Chinese? How about the North Koreans? Or Hamas? Perhaps we should just layout all our signal and human intelligence operations for a healthy public debate.

Or say, US citizens?
posted by iamabot at 9:15 PM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Or say, US citizens?

That's not the limit of Snowden's concerns or his leaks. Is there a point where he goes too far? Or is everything that he claims to have taken fair game?
posted by nightwood at 9:35 PM on June 23, 2013


I'm a litigator with 10 years experience ... There is no way around this. None. There is no decision that has ever reversed Smith.
You still haven't explained why you were wrong about him being extradited from Hong Kong. If you were as "knowledgeable" as you claim to be you wouldn't have gotten that incorrect.
posted by delmoi at 10:02 PM on June 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hong Kong lawyer Albert Ho says 'middleman' urged Snowden to leave
Democratic Party lawmaker and lawyer Albert Ho Chun-yan revealed last night he was part of last-minute top-level discussions with the government on the fate of Edward Snowden.

The senior partner of Ho, Tse, Wai & Partners, said that acting on Snowden's instructions he met a top government official last Friday to discuss the American's situation and clarify some legal issues, but received an unsatisfactory response.
...
Ho told reporters on Monday that an individual claiming to represent the Hong Kong government had indicated to Snowden that he was free to leave the city and should do so.

...
“I have reasons to believe that... those who wanted him to leave represented Beijing authorities,” Ho said.

“The Hong Kong government has no power to decide or say anything whatsoever, not even the power to notify me [about an official stance],” said Ho.
...
Ho's involvement came as members of Snowden's legal team went public for the first time yesterday. Two Hong Kong lawyers with extensive experience in human rights cases - including the secret 2004 rendition of a Libyan man and his family from Hong Kong to Tripoli by US and UK spies - spoke to the Post.
...
Sami al-Saadi claims that security officials in Hong Kong conspired with US, British and Libyan spies in his illegal extradition to Libya. He says Hong Kong authorities detained him and his family for almost two weeks and forced them on to a private jet to Tripoli via Bangkok in March 2004 where they were tortured and persecuted.
Huh, I guess Snowden did have some legitimate concerns about being rendered.
posted by delmoi at 10:17 PM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is the pragmatic reason why the US's treatment of Bradley Manning is wrong. If you lock whistle blowers up in maximal-sexurity institutions (and frankly torture them) then everybody will know that coming forward is a bad idea. So instead of giving you a chance to deal with wrongdoing internally they will leave the country and go to the newspapers. You will have no way to control the release of information and your actions will be cast in the worst possible light, whether you deserve it or not.

In retrospect, how very much better-off the USA would be today if the President had made a sharp change of direction and prosecuted malefactors from the previous administration. Now the current administration is complicit in everything; the USA is in a hole of its own making and everyone is too afraid to do anything except keep digging.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:28 PM on June 23, 2013 [8 favorites]


No, it means they implicitly trust him more because personal identification, with an unknown, explaining the age divide. Posters are excluded as a matter of fact, since I was going from polls and have no idea of anyone's age here.

From your link:
"Meanwhile, the 18-to-29-year-old set feel even more strongly – 60 percent to 34 percent – that American citizens are well-served by the knowledge Snowden has provided. And a minority of young people, 44 percent, believe he – or as the survey frames it, “the person responsible for leaking the classified information” – should face criminal charges."
The article does not contain a link to poll data about attraction to the person and indeed the poll question takes care to anonymise the leaker and focus on the information released.

Please explain what in this result you feel justifies the statement "If we was an older vet with a war trauma and a red nose, and maybe some past legal issues to dig up, such as divorce and job terminations, most young supporters wouldn't have read past his photo caption."

Or, you know, apologise. If it helps, consider how it would be if you swapped out age for sexuality, gender or race.
posted by jaduncan at 10:55 PM on June 23, 2013


As said upthread, I've had the [PRISM safeguard] process described to me before, which was then confirmed by the NY Times.

Ironmouth, can you tell us more about when the process was described to you and under what circumstances? Was the person who told you about the process allowed to do so? What do you think are the risks and benefits of revealing the PRISM safeguards to the American public?

On the subject of the Verizon metadata: As an experienced litigator, how do you think the ACLU might argue the Verizon case? And if the Verizon metadata scooping is indeed constitutional, do you personally think there are any reasons to limit its use to terrorism-related investigations?

I hope it doesn't sound like I'm trying to craft some clever "gotcha" question here. That is not my intent. I'm asking because you seem to know your stuff and whether or not I agree with you I think your answers can help me understand these issues. For what it's worth, I think you have done a good job making your point about the Smith precedent. Even if I'm not entirely convinced, I do think it's a strong argument in favor of the constitutionality of the program.
posted by compartment at 11:53 PM on June 23, 2013


Edward Snowden has a GED. I'm a litigator with 10 years experience.

I think Snowden's issue might be a moral one as much as it the letter of the law as you read it. As people have said above there have been particular times where all sorts of things we find reprehensible now have been ruled as constitutional - the mass internment of Japanese in WWII - or even added into the constitution (the Fugitive Slave Clause). Admittedly, I am neither a constitutional scholar nor a litigator, but these seem to have been things that were a) rather popular at one time and b) absolutely morally reprehensible, even if legal. And many citizens - some of whom (shock! horror!) who did not even have their GED, opposed them for moral grounds because they felt they went against American values. In the long run, they were proven right by the arc of history.

Additionally, all the time people with many years experience in constitutional law appear before the supreme court on opposing sides, which suggests that situations are not as cut and dried as you insist, if various lawyers and scholars have opposing views. And, as we all know, views of what the constitution of many countries allow change according to the times and to how the justices as individuals view the document. Because something has once ruled to be constitutional does not always mean it will be so.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 2:45 AM on June 24, 2013 [7 favorites]


So, it appears that Snowden has trolled a plane load of journalists into buying plane tickets to Cuba in order to take photos of an empty seat. Well played.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 4:03 AM on June 24, 2013


There is no way around this. None. There is no decision that has ever reversed Smith.

You keep hammering on Smith like the facts of this case aren't meaningfully different from it. It's like claiming that you know same-sex marriage bans are unconstitutional because of Lawrence. You don't.

And if you really think that the numbers you dial, listed on your bill, are public information, I invite you to consider what would happen if you or any other individual picked a Verizon subscriber at random and obtained that information from their bill.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 4:09 AM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


So, it appears that Snowden has trolled a plane load of journalists into buying plane tickets to Cuba in order to take photos of an empty seat. Well played.

...you're forgetting the several CIA people that almost certainly immediately got booked on.
posted by jaduncan at 4:49 AM on June 24, 2013


So, it appears that Snowden has trolled a plane load of journalists into buying plane tickets to Cuba in order to take photos of an empty seat. Well played.

THEN WHO WAS PHONE?
posted by ryoshu at 5:24 AM on June 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Or, you know, apologise.

Not likely. But since you pretend to love all things logical, my statement didn't suggest that anyone else would be reading past the caption either, you just assumed it. That's why it's called star power. The ageism is yours to defend, not to prosecute, though you tried to turn tables.
posted by Brian B. at 5:56 AM on June 24, 2013


The more comments I read on this saga, the more I am reminded of this program.
posted by goHermGO at 6:17 AM on June 24, 2013


I am not only reminded of this, but I sent it on to the relevant players. By email of course.
posted by infini at 6:29 AM on June 24, 2013


I think that statement may make more sense to you than to me. I'm going to stop cluttering this thread with this, so let's agree to disagree. If you must, you can take it to MeTa or mail.
posted by jaduncan at 6:52 AM on June 24, 2013


"...you're forgetting the several CIA people that almost certainly immediately got booked on."

Perhaps. But I'm pretty sure Cuba wouldn't be terribly happy about that if they determined that was the case. They might even detain such people for being spies against their country (which would sort of be true, in a way).

A friend of mine (NSA: you know who I'm talking about) was berating Wikileaks last night for tipping of the US government on Snowden's travel plans. It appears as if they were part of the feint (a possibility I foolishly neglected to think about).

Not sure if it's been linked to on this thread yet, but Obama debates himself on NSA spying is very entertaining/depressing. I wish candidate Obama was president - he would make a great leader.
posted by el io at 8:51 AM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Edward Snowden has a GED. I'm a litigator with 10 years experience.

I think Snowden's issue might be a moral one as much as it the letter of the law as you read it. As people have said above there have been particular times where all sorts of things we find reprehensible now have been ruled as constitutional - the mass internment of Japanese in WWII - or even added into the constitution (the Fugitive Slave Clause). Admittedly, I am neither a constitutional scholar nor a litigator, but these seem to have been things that were a) rather popular at one time and b) absolutely morally reprehensible, even if legal. And many citizens - some of whom (shock! horror!) who did not even have their GED, opposed them for moral grounds because they felt they went against American values. In the long run, they were proven right by the arc of history.


I welcome actual policy discussions on these questions. But to say it is unconstitutional, when there is a decades-old decision directly on point and relying on ridiculous claims that it could be found unconstitutional in the future so therefore it is unconstitutional now is just bunk.

I was merely addressing claims that "informed people" (including Snowden) had raised questions about its constitutionality. If we are going to claim Snowden is a person with an especially full grasp of the constitutionality of these issues, then I have to speak up.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:02 AM on June 24, 2013


Ironmouth: I'm certain you are more familiar with the legal issues than Snowden. I'm also certain (unless you hold clearances and have access to these various programs) that Snowden is more familiar with the US Govt's actions and top-secret programs than you are. So you are informed on the applicable constitutional law, and he is more informed on the current actions of the US Govt.

While you have some solid seeming points about the Verizons FISA order possible constitutionality, there are other revelations that may be less cut and dried; "They can likewise preserve the intercept if it contains information on a “threat of serious harm to life or property” or sheds light on technical issues like encryption or vulnerability to cyberattack".

I presume its difficult to determine the constitutionality of any of the NSA's actions (with certainty, and in a legal sense) until a court has ruled on them.

Belatedly, I harmed some property the other day when I dropped my roommates candle holder - it broke into many pieces; I was wise enough not to mention this in any private communication though, so I should be safe.
posted by el io at 9:14 AM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Snowden evidently took the position at Booz expressly to gather and release documents on NSA signal intelligence operations in other countries.
posted by nightwood at 9:23 AM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


If true, that's actually quite an impressive piece of fieldwork.
posted by jaduncan at 9:34 AM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


What is their security check coming too? Tsk Tsk... is this what they call "big fucking hole in the bucket, Eliza" or is it just another leak again?
posted by infini at 10:10 AM on June 24, 2013


infini: You can't read peoples minds. If he had no criminal background, a good employment history with his clearance, how were they supposed to know what his future plans were? There's no indication that he tipped anyone off.

I'm not sure this is a failure of the clearance process (there are arguments to be made that too many people have clearances, or information wasn't compartmentalized enough, or third parties shouldn't have access to the sorts of information he had access to).

You can be certain they will be looking back to see if there was anything they could have done to prevent this and try to prevent similar leaks in the future.
posted by el io at 10:21 AM on June 24, 2013


It was hamburger
posted by infini at 10:24 AM on June 24, 2013


All the countermeasures they could take to reduce the risks of future leaks also puts them back into a pre-9/11, bureaucratic information-hoarding scheme where one hand doesn't know what the other is doing. It reduces their ability to operate a proper police state, but the collective freakout that the government is having will likely force them to do this.

Kinda nice to see that while the US is bending over backwards to let terrorism succeed in its overall goals, it's also pretty willing to do the same for the Wikileaks charter.
posted by mullingitover at 10:29 AM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I welcome actual policy discussions on these questions.

Then let me respectfully ask again (recognizing that Monday work hours are probably not a great time for a prompt response here): Can you tell us more about when the PRISM safeguard process was first described to you? Was the person who told you about the process allowed to do so? What do you think are the risks and benefits of revealing the PRISM safeguards to the American public?

On the subject of the Verizon metadata: As an experienced litigator, how do you think the ACLU might argue the Verizon case? And if the Verizon metadata scooping is indeed constitutional, do you personally think there are any reasons to limit its use to terrorism-related investigations?

The reason this issue is so frustrating to me is because it seems somewhat Kafkaesque. On the one hand, President Obama says it's important for society to have this discussion. On the other, his DOJ is charging with espionage anyone who reveals the need for that discussion. We've heard all about Smith; you are obviously a smart person and I really want the rest of the discussion to happen.
posted by compartment at 10:38 AM on June 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Snowden's Hong Kong lawyer speaks.

His lawyer amusingly ties his maturity to his choices of drink: “He’s a kid, I really think he’s a kid, I think he never anticipated this would be such a big matter in Hong Kong,” Mr. Ho said, adding that, “He enjoys Pepsi, he prefers Pepsi to wine, that’s why I say he’s a kid.”'
posted by el io at 10:43 AM on June 24, 2013


On the one hand, President Obama says it's important for society to have this discussion, while on the other his DOJ is charging with espionage anyone who reveals the need for that discussion.

Of course. If nobody ever finds out about it, then it's not illegal.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 10:43 AM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


AFP: Snowden: An Unexpected Windfall For Russian Spies
posted by BobbyVan at 10:55 AM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure this is a failure of the clearance process (there are arguments to be made that too many people have clearances, or information wasn't compartmentalized enough, or third parties shouldn't have access to the sorts of information he had access to). -- el io
Hahah, here's where it gets hilarious: Apparently Snowden's backgound check was also handled by a private contractor and one that's actually been under investigation for slacking off. Not just being put under investigation now, but apparently it had been under investigation for some time.

So, the NSA outsources a ton of it's work to private contractors, then, the FBI (or whoever) additionally outsources the background checks to other private contractors. Amazing.
I was merely addressing claims that "informed people" (including Snowden) had raised questions about its constitutionality. If we are going to claim Snowden is a person with an especially full grasp of the constitutionality of these issues, then I have to speak up. -- Ironmouth
Ironmouth, are you going to explain why you were wrong about Hong Kong extraditing Snowden? You wrote:
Its only Federal District Court for the District of Hawaii that Snowden needs to be concerned about. Because Hong Kong has an extradition treaty with the United States.
If you are actually as knowledgeable about the law as you say, why did you get that wrong? If you're going to continue to claim that your have special insight into how the law works, compared to other people, don't you need to explain why it is the only testable prediction you actually made turned out to be incorrect? Where and how did your legal knowledge fail?

It may be that you personally believe that HK was legally required to turn him over, and you may believe that everything the NSA is doing is constitutional. But that doesn't matter if the actual courts that actually decide are going to disagree with you.

The problem here is that you seem to be basing your own arguments on your own understanding of the law, but your own understanding of the law seems to be a rather poor predictor of future events. What matters is what's actually going to happen in the future, not what you, personally think is going to happen.
posted by delmoi at 11:40 AM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I would say that everyone thus far has been a pretty poor predictor of events. These events are just so fluid that analysis of them in real time without first hand knowledge is going to be pretty bad in terms of accuracy.
posted by iamabot at 11:45 AM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


delmoi and ironmouth - i respectfully suggest you guys take it to memail.
posted by nightwood at 11:50 AM on June 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


FP: Snowden: An Unexpected Windfall For Russian Spies

Assuming he ever went to Russia.
posted by ryoshu at 11:50 AM on June 24, 2013


I welcome actual policy discussions on these questions

But how can anyone have an informed debate about such matters, if they're not allowed to ever mention any details of them? The only reason we're having a public debate about this at the moment is because of Snowden. Who, as you have pointed out a number of times, only has a GED.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 11:51 AM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


I would say that everyone thus far has been a pretty poor predictor of events.
I was right that he wouldn't be extradited from Hong Kong.
delmoi and ironmouth - i respectfully suggest you guys take it to memail.
I'm just asking a simple question. If he wants people to assume his legal analysis is correct he needs to explain why he made an error regarding Hong Kong's extradition treaty.

I'm not particularly interested in talking to him directly, I just think that he needs to explain his error if he's going to keep presuming to make arguments based on his assessments being correct.
posted by delmoi at 12:12 PM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


The problem here is that you seem to be basing your own arguments on your own understanding of the law, but your own understanding of the law seems to be a rather poor predictor of future events. What matters is what's actually going to happen in the future, not what you, personally think is going to happen.

I know what the law says regarding the telephone numbers. That's been the law since 1979. The fact that Communist China did not want to deal with this is why they let him go:
While Hong Kong has a high degree of autonomy from the rest of China, experts said Beijing orchestrated Snowden’s exit to remove an irritant in Sino-U.S. relations.

“The central government had to have intervened since this is an issue of international relations and national security,” said Shen Dingli, director of the Center for American Studies at Shanghai’s Fudan University.
In other words, China avoided fufilling its treaty obligations. And it would appear the FSB is now going to download the files:
Nikolay N. Zakharov, a spokesman for the Russian Federal Security Service, or F.S.B., declined to say if intelligence officials had met with Mr. Snowden during the time he spent at the transit area of the airport. Nor would Mr. Zakharov say if they had sought to examine the secret files he was said to be carrying on four computers.

On this question, we will not comment,” Mr. Zakharov said.
NYTIMES


So everyone who claimed up and down the thread that China was not behind the treatment of Snowden is wrong.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:14 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm not particularly interested in talking to him directly, I just think that he needs to explain his error if he's going to keep presuming to make arguments based on his assessments being correct.

Oh my god this shit is WASTING EVERYONE'S TIME. Someone makes a prediction, fifty-eight other things happen, and then that prediction stops being accurate? And thn you think the person who made thst prediction is disqualified from speaking? And you don't even care to hear his response. Great.

There is so much interesting stuff happening in this affair right now, and all we have on Metafilter is the same usual gang circling around the same usual target to try to kick the shit out of each other. I've flagged 90% of this stupid argument.
posted by samofidelis at 12:25 PM on June 24, 2013 [6 favorites]


homunculus: NSA: If Your Data Is Encrypted, You Might Be Evil, So We'll Keep It Until We're Sure

When I first read this, I figured it was about PGP or GPG, then I realized it could cover HTTPS and SSH sessions. That's alarmist and overly paranoid, right?
posted by Pronoiac at 12:25 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm not particularly interested in talking to him directly

Then I'd suggest you stop talking to him. Both of you should more than know better at this late date note to just keep grousing at/around one another in whatever thread you find yourselves in, and it'd be nice to see that not keep happening here.
posted by cortex at 12:37 PM on June 24, 2013


Ironmouth: The quote you give is from a pundit that is speculating - he wasn't a party to the actual actions.

From the NYT: The Hong Kong and Chinese governments consulted very closely throughout Mr. Snowden’s stay. But Beijing allowed Hong Kong officials to make their own decisions and then vetted them, instead of dictating decisions to Hong Kong, the person with knowledge of the deliberations said, adding that one of these decisions had been to let Mr. Snowden leave. Certainly that statement isn't attributed, but it is purported to come from someone with first hand knowledge.

In regards to this assertion: "And it would appear the FSB is now going to download the files." Certainly the article you point to shows that the Russian intelligence services would like access to that material, but it doesn't show that he has been in contact with them.

In fact, I haven't seen any evidence presented (by the press) that he actually landed in Russia to begin with. Also, it may end up being a political decision from the Russian government (Putin) to determine what course of action would be serve them. It could very well be that they think they'd score better politically if they didn't directly attempt to let their security apparatus interrogate him (propaganda points, etc).

I'm sure the Chinese intelligence folks would have liked to debrief him as well, but other (political) considerations probably prevented that from happening.

In following the analysis from pundits online it appears as if political asylum is more of a political decision than a legal one. If this is correct then legal analysis of this situation wouldn't necessarily predict the actions of the various players in this drama (US, China, HK, Russia, Ecuador, ??, ??). I'm still eager to hear legal analysis about the issues at hand, regardless if they will be the deciding factors in the various actors actions.
posted by el io at 12:37 PM on June 24, 2013


So everyone who claimed up and down the thread that China was not behind the treatment of Snowden is wrong.

So, it's not a "fact" that he's going to jail anymore, eh?
posted by Drinky Die at 12:53 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


There is so much interesting stuff happening in this affair right now, and all we have on Metafilter is the same usual gang circling around the same usual target to try to kick the shit out of each other. I've flagged 90% of this stupid argument.
If you want more content reddit's /r/politics is has been having several massive threads per day on this topic. It looks like /r/news and /r/worldnews do as well.
posted by delmoi at 1:00 PM on June 24, 2013


I want less argument, that's for sure.
posted by seanmpuckett at 1:01 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I know what the law says regarding the telephone numbers. That's been the law since 1979.

You keep ignoring the fact that this is new ground that isn't covered by Smith. I am unsure as to why.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 1:07 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Obama this morning: "What we know is that we are following all the appropriate legal channels and working with various other countries to make sure that the rule of law is observed."

Oh, now we're all about the rule of law, are we? The gall. The US government has aggressively ignored international law for decades, why should they expect anything but reciprocity from the rest of the world?
posted by banal evil at 2:43 PM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hong Kong government hits back at US criticism over Snowden arrest demand
"The people of Hong Kong and our friends in the international community expect us to follow the laws of Hong Kong itself. They expect us to uphold our rule of law and, equally importantly, they expect us to follow procedural fairness and procedural justice. We were asking the United States government for further important information on the case, and there was no legal basis to stop Mr Snowden from leaving Hong Kong," Leung said.
...
in unusually direct criticism of Beijing, White House spokesman Jay Carney said the US did not accept explanations the decision was simply a determination handed down by local Hong Kong authorities.

"We are just not buying that this was a technical decision by a Hong Kong immigration official," he said. "This was a deliberate choice by the government to release a fugitive ... and that decision unquestionably has a negative impact on the US-China relationship. The Chinese have emphasised the importance of building trust. They've dealt that effort a serious setback."
posted by delmoi at 4:48 PM on June 24, 2013


Meet the press fails to disclose the fact that one of his guests was a founding partner in a lobbying firm that represents a major NSA contractor.
But Murphy himself has a stake in this debate that arguably ought to have been disclosed. Though Murphy was introduced only as a “Republican strategist,” he is also the founding partner of Navigators Global, a lobbying firm that represents one of the NSA’s largest contractors. Disclosures show that Navigators Global represents Computer Sciences Corp. (CSC) on issues before Congress. For at least a decade, CSC has won major contracts from the National Security Agency (NSA). Murphy’s firm has lobbied on behalf of CSC for bills that would expand the NSA’s reach, including the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act or CISPA, which passed the House of Representatives earlier this year. As the Center for Democracy and Technology noted, the “legislation is being billed as an expansion of a collaboration between the National Security Agency (NSA) and major ISPs dubbed the Defense Industrial Base Pilot.”
posted by delmoi at 4:56 PM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Gregory committed the cardinal sin of asking a tough question of another journalist.

No he committed the cardinal sin of being a complete tool.


What Are The Gobshites Saying These Days?
posted by homunculus at 5:22 PM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


"The Chinese have emphasised the importance of building trust. They've dealt that effort a serious setback."

I hope we leave them a note explaining how disappointed we are in their lack of trust the next time we hack into their networks.
-
WaPo on the potential scope of the leaks:

The NSA has teams of analysts scouring systems that they think Snowden may have accessed, officials said. Analysts are seeking to retrace his steps online and to assemble a catalogue of the material he may have taken.

“They think he copied so much stuff — that almost everything that place does, he has,” said one former government official, referring to the NSA, where Snowden worked as a contractor for Booz Allen Hamilton while in the NSA’s Hawaii facility. “Everyone’s nervous about what the next thing will be, what will be exposed.”

-
The official, like others in this article, spoke on the condition of anonymity because the official wasn’t authorized to discuss the matters on the record.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:31 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think this bit from a Christian Science Monitor article is an interesting take on Ecuador's alleged intolerance of a free press:

Mark Weisbrot, an analyst at the think tank Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, says claims of media restriction are exaggerated. "I'm not defending everything Correa has done but there are criminal libel laws just as strict in France and Germany, but if I accused France of trying to suppress dissent no one would take me seriously," he says. "If you've been to Ecuador you know there is a free press where you see more fierce criticism of the government than you do here in the US."
posted by Unified Theory at 6:36 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Obama: "What we know is that we are following all the appropriate legal channels* and working with various other countries to make sure that the rule of law is observed."

*Appropriate legal channels including but not limited to secret surveillance courts, closed Congressional votes, dusting off the Espionage Act of 1917, warrantless collection of the communications of journalists, indefinite offshore detention and the suspension of due process, and of course, indiscriminate surveillance and retention of communications foreign and domestic justified by opaque affirmations of responsibility and least untruthy replies.

As compelling as Snowden's plight has been, and will likely continue to be, let's not lose sight of why this courageous man sacrificed so much in the first place.
posted by clearly at 1:41 AM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


“They think he copied so much stuff — that almost everything that place does, he has,” said one former government official, referring to the NSA, where Snowden worked as a contractor for Booz Allen Hamilton while in the NSA’s Hawaii facility. “Everyone’s nervous about what the next thing will be, what will be exposed.”

Seriously, such good fieldwork.
posted by jaduncan at 1:54 AM on June 25, 2013


“Everyone’s nervous about what the next thing will be, what will be exposed.”

Why are they nervous if they aren't doing anything wrong?
posted by clearly at 2:27 AM on June 25, 2013 [12 favorites]


Guardian: China's state newspaper praises Edward Snowden for 'tearing off Washington's sanctimonious mask'

NYT: Leaker’s Flight Raises Tension Between U.S. and 3 Nations

Seems pretty absurd to me that the US would engage in rampant law-breaking in these countries then get all pissy about them not returning the guy who told them about it as if it was some kind of affront to the rule of law.
posted by delmoi at 3:28 AM on June 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


The lack of self-awareness the US government is showing would be amusing if it weren't so scary.
posted by ryoshu at 6:42 AM on June 25, 2013


Yes, the evil Maslow approach very...apt.
See, he could be a double agent, spilling what is already known but not proven is so, so damn damning...what a great OP, it has china all WTF and Russia is playing coy, god this is fun.

Seemingly, a "lack of self-awareness" is how you play the great game and it is back on and time is on our side.
posted by clavdivs at 6:48 AM on June 25, 2013


I get the feeling that the captain to the flight to Cuba was quite amused by this drama:

“Was Snowden on board?” the captain, who would not give his name, replied: “No Snowden. No special people. Only journalists.”
posted by el io at 6:59 AM on June 25, 2013


Seemingly, a "lack of self-awareness" is how you play the great game and it is back on and time is on our side.

This looks more like Chutes and Ladders.
posted by ryoshu at 7:23 AM on June 25, 2013


Mr Lavrov said to accuse Russia of "violation of US laws and even some sort of conspiracy" in the case of Mr Snowden is "absolutely ungrounded and unacceptable".


Have they been reading the arguments on here for inspiration?
posted by infini at 7:40 AM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Snowden Effect, Continued
posted by homunculus at 8:13 AM on June 25, 2013


We have seen the enemy, and the enemy is us.

From Popehat:
"Note that the second and third charges both require the feds to prove that Snowden's release of information to the press was harmful to the United States. This puts our government in the position of attempting to prove that it is harmful to release accurate information about how it is spying on us, and how it is misleading us about spying on us.

Espionage charges usually describe someone with classified information leaking that information to powers hostile to the United States government.

We, the people, are those hostile powers."
posted by el io at 8:15 AM on June 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


Espionage charges usually describe someone with classified information leaking that information to powers hostile to the United States government.

For instance, China?

I assume that there are very many people who don't believe the US should spy on China, Russia, Iran, etc. But I expect that (i have not looked at any polls) a majority of Americans support this and it certainly appears that a majority of Congress does, too.
posted by nightwood at 8:23 AM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


2 Senators Say the NSA Is Still Feeding Us False Information

How can a democratic republic function when the bureaucrats are constantly misleading the people?

Indeed.
posted by ryoshu at 8:31 AM on June 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


I suspect the majority of the planet using Microsoft, Google, Apple, Facebook, Yahoo, Skype or Amazon, might feel the United States should just take a chill pill already.
posted by infini at 8:49 AM on June 25, 2013


nightwood; do you think that it's an actual surprise to China, Russia, or (particularly) Iran that we are spying on them? Yes, their diplomats may be expressing shock and surprise that this is occurring, but I assure you it's not a surprise to them. The allegations of US involvement in spying on G20 participants certainly would go outside the scope of 'our enemies'.

Instead it looks like, instead of merely not telling US citizens about information collected about them, that they may be actively lying to the US public.

Regarding congress - some members have been telling us that we'd be shocked at what the NSA is doing, but are under legal obligation not to disclose the extent of US spying on its own citizens. A majority of congress does not have access to intelligence briefings that a small group do (ie: they are uninformed).

Do you think the US government is outraged that China now has confirmation that offensive activities are being levied against it, or that the US government is outraged that US citizens are starting to grasp how comprehensive US surveillance of its own citizens is becoming?

You may support President Obama, but I support candidate Obama (I miss that guy).

posted by el io at 9:01 AM on June 25, 2013


el io - i don't think anyone, hostile or friendly, is surprised about the spy/anti-spy activities. But they sure are glad to get the details, which help them take counter measures and in some cases are glad to have the PR campaign for domestic consumption.
posted by nightwood at 9:07 AM on June 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well, funnily enough, it is a PR disaster when a country decides it has the right to spy on all the people in the world who use phones and Internet and puts that into action. We are talking not just about governments, not about officials of those governments, not even workers in key industries, but everyone. Think about it in world terms, not just in US ones: what happens when the US gets cozy with some loathsome dictator and decides to turn over to them all the data it has on their citizens? What if the US were still friendly with Assad and was handing over everything it had on everyone in Syria? They've gone far beyond what people normally think of as spying and into something that potentially could be used against almost anyone, no matter who they are. But, naturally, it's all legal and may or may not catch the odd terrorist so that's okay and besides we should all trust the people in charge because they're great folks who only have the best interests of people in mind.

No wonder people are pissed.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 9:53 AM on June 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


What details have foreign governments gained from Snowden's cache have helped them develop counter-measures?
posted by notyou at 9:53 AM on June 25, 2013


For instance, China?

It seems to me that the government would have to show that Snowden leaked specifically to a foreign government such as China, not that he leaked to the whole world all at once.

But, IANAL.
posted by notyou at 9:57 AM on June 25, 2013


Seriously, such good fieldwork.

Most spies get taught not to say anything about their profession, or at least get paid better. That's like Spy 101. If Snowden was a spy, he'd be the worst spy since Mr. Bean.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:16 AM on June 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


It seems to me that the government would have to show that Snowden leaked specifically to a foreign government such as China, not that he leaked to the whole world all at once.

I have no idea. I don't know if espionage is an appropriate charge for Snowden or not. Nor do I know the totality of what he took and what and to whom he has revealed it - except for the very small percentage in the mass media.
posted by nightwood at 10:18 AM on June 25, 2013


The Economist on the non-partisan nature of the discussion on electronic privacy:

Our ideological sympathies are not good predictors at this point of how we feel about issues of digital privacy and electronic freedom. The fact that these issues don't have a clear ideological colouration yet is important because they are among the most crucial issues of the 21st century. They are crucial because our identities and social selves, in this century, increasingly reside online. They are crucial because money, in this century, increasingly accrues to holders of intellectual property, particularly to those who control the ways we engage in online commerce—the very same companies (Google, Yahoo, Apple, Verizon) that hold the databases which the NSA accesses via PRISM. In this century, digital knowledge is the key to both property and power. Good algorithms and massive amounts of data are what you need to have in order to succeed in retail, to defend your country from attack, or to run a successful presidential campaign.

posted by Drinky Die at 10:19 AM on June 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Most spies get taught not to say anything about their profession, or at least get paid better. That's like Spy 101. If Snowden was a spy, he'd be the worst spy since Mr. Bean.

The data-gathering part would be what my comment applied to, clearly. It's a lot of information.
posted by jaduncan at 10:45 AM on June 25, 2013


Drinkie Die: That economist article also said "Anxiety over digital rights and freedoms is a driving issue for people under 40, and it cuts across partisan and ideological lines."

I've been curious about this, and have assumed that the reactions to this issue do not break down into party affiliations. I wish there have been some polls conducted that have a breakdown of his supporters and detractors. Age is certainly something that I imagine impacts peoples perspectives on this (although I'm not certain how it would).

On one hand, the younger generation may live their life more online and be more concerned about their privacy online, on the other hand an older generation may view a ubiquitous surveillance state as being reminiscent of the Soviet Union and East Germany.

Certainly libertarians (on the right) may be among those that view the NSA's actions harshly, but there is also a contingent of progressives that have strong views on liberty and surveillance.

I've seen raw numbers about how percentages of Americans view this topic, but I haven't seen demographic breakdowns (if anyone has seen such data, please point me to it).

Certainly there are some that wish to view this in a partisan light (as our current administration is Democrat), but the bipartisan consensus on this in the congress and senate belies this. (a quick google found this, but I'd welcome more thorough polling sources).
posted by el io at 11:31 AM on June 25, 2013


The Daily Beast: As the U.S. government presses Moscow to extradite former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, America’s most wanted leaker has a plan B. The former NSA systems administrator has already given encoded files containing an archive of the secrets he lifted from his old employer to several people. If anything happens to Snowden, the files will be unlocked.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:37 AM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


As the U.S. government presses Moscow to extradite former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, America’s most wanted leaker has a plan B. The former NSA systems administrator has already given encoded files containing an archive of the secrets he lifted from his old employer to several people. If anything happens to Snowden, the files will be unlocked.

Yes, he said this the very first day, I believe.
posted by nightwood at 11:39 AM on June 25, 2013


Facebook’s Creepy Data-Grabbing Ways Make It The Borg Of The Digital World
posted by Golden Eternity at 11:47 AM on June 25, 2013


Visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin told the press in Finland on Tuesday afternoon that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden cannot be turned over to US authorities because Russia does not have an extradition treaty with the United States.
posted by infini at 12:01 PM on June 25, 2013


*shrugs helplessly*
*goes back to quaffing beer on the jetty while waiting for sauna to heat up*
posted by infini at 12:02 PM on June 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


From the dailybeast:“When I was in Hong Kong, I spoke to my partner in Rio via Skype and told him I would send an electronic encrypted copy of the documents,” Greenwald said. “I did not end up doing it. Two days later his laptop was stolen from our house and nothing else was taken. Nothing like that has happened before. I am not saying it’s connected to this, but obviously the possibility exists.”

If a US citizen responsible for this I would hope that the US Government would honor any extradition requests from the Brazilian government to bring the perpetrator to justice.

posted by el io at 12:23 PM on June 25, 2013


(in other news, the US government probably knows the contents of at least some documents that were handed to Greenwald).
posted by el io at 12:23 PM on June 25, 2013


Germany seeks UK surveillance assurances: Germany's justice minister has written to British ministers seeking information about allegations of mass surveillance by British intelligence.

World from Berlin: 'Do Costs of Hunting Terrorists Exceed Benefits?'
posted by homunculus at 12:39 PM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I assume that there are very many people who don't believe the US should spy on China, Russia, Iran, etc. But I expect that (i have not looked at any polls) a majority of Americans support this and it certainly appears that a majority of Congress does, too.
That's nice, do you expect the majority of non-Americans to continue to buy American IT products if they expect their data to get forwarded to the NSA?

If a US citizen responsible for this I would hope that the US Government would honor any extradition requests from the Brazilian government to bring the perpetrator to justice.

Lol.
posted by delmoi at 1:27 PM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Remember How Angry Russia Is about Viktor Bout
posted by homunculus at 1:33 PM on June 25, 2013


If he does make it to Cuba, there's pretty much zero chance that Cuba will extradite him. For obvious reasons (US/Cuba relations) and the fact that we won't extradite an admitted terrorist who blew up a Cuban passenger airliner.
posted by el io at 1:50 PM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


That's nice, do you expect the majority of non-Americans to continue to buy American IT products if they expect their data to get forwarded to the NSA?

If they really believe that's what's happening they may go elsewhere in the blissful ignorance of thinking other countries don't do the same.
posted by nightwood at 2:30 PM on June 25, 2013


From the Beast article :
Snowden was able to access files inside the NSA by fabricating digital keys that gave him access to areas he was not allowed to visit as a low-level contractor and systems administrator.
That is remarkable. Is security inside the NSA that lax, or is Snowden that good?
posted by banal evil at 2:43 PM on June 25, 2013


banal evil: probably a little bit of A and a little bit of B.
posted by el io at 2:53 PM on June 25, 2013


(in other news, the US government probably knows the contents of at least some documents that were handed to Greenwald).

Ah, let's not forget the quantum principles of the NSA:

- The information Snowden is leaking is widely know and Top Secret
- The NSA has numerous safeguards to make sure that US citizens are not spied upon and the NSA has no way of telling Congress how many US citizens have inadvertently been spied upon
- The NSA has numerous safeguards that will protect all of this data that they are collecting, with an audit trail of who access documents and they have no way of knowing what documents Snowden accessed
- The NSA has top notch security preventing unauthorized access of data, so we shouldn't worry and a contractor was able to download Top Secret information on a thumb drive GOTO 1

etc.
posted by ryoshu at 3:04 PM on June 25, 2013 [13 favorites]


- The NSA is listening to all phone calls but missed Snowden's calls to Greenwald and Poitras
- The NSA is intercepting all internet traffic but missed Snowden's uploads
posted by nightwood at 3:50 PM on June 25, 2013


Snowden didn't call greenwald or anyone else on the Phone, as far as the internet goes no one has claimed that they're breaking public key cryptography - in fact this clearly indicates they can't do it.

And, they don't need or aren't trying to get every single piece of data, simply gathering data on the vast majority of people who don't think they're being spied on can result in gathering a huge amount of data. (and, again, that would be most people - otherwise they'd already be using crypto)
posted by delmoi at 4:00 PM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


the vast majority of people who don't think they're being spied on

Luckily, they'd be right. (at least from what we've seen so far)
posted by nightwood at 4:19 PM on June 25, 2013


nightwood: Have you read this?

"They can likewise preserve the intercept if it contains information on a “threat of serious harm to life or property” or sheds light on technical issues like encryption or vulnerability to cyberattacks." (that's for 'incidental' intercepts - it hasn't been clearly disclosed what that might be).

And I'm assuming you don't think collecting metadata constitutes spying on. I would perhaps recommend this article, which cites this paper, that you might find interesting.
posted by el io at 4:38 PM on June 25, 2013


NBC: The inability of U.S. officials to get their hands on Edward Snowden, the security contractor who leaked details of government surveillance programs, has upset delicate diplomatic relationships — and perhaps dealt a blow to America’s image in the world.

“It certainly feeds the image of fading American power,” said Robert Jervis, a professor of international politics at Columbia University, who hastened to add that he was not sure the image was fair.

The spy programs themselves made the United States look in some parts of the world “like a hypocritical bully,” Jervis said, because of the United States’ long record of freedom of information and protection of whistle-blowers.

Chasing Snowden around the globe makes it worse, he said: “There’s nothing worse than an incompetent hypocritical bully.”

posted by Drinky Die at 4:49 PM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yep -already seen all of that. The government at all levels have the ability to do great evil. In fact the government could easily kill most of us. Metadata is the least of my worries - I'm more worried that Snowden, armed with my SSN and mothers maiden name has gotten a credit card in my name and is running up a gargantuan bill at the Moscow Transit center.
posted by nightwood at 4:55 PM on June 25, 2013


Yeah, I'm sure that happened.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:08 PM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, I don't remember ordering that pizza and a virgin Moscow mule, but who knows...
posted by nightwood at 5:09 PM on June 25, 2013


One of the telling things about the state of the USA is the way Laura Poitras gets treated. We all know that there is no actual reason to scrutinise her. But she's embarrassed the government, so they've retaliated with a little bit of inconvenience and humiliation every time she enters the country, just because they can. This is authoritarianism in action and I suspect it's only going to get worse.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:33 PM on June 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


new Dan Carlin podcast on the subject
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 5:35 PM on June 25, 2013


Why Snowden Asked Visitors in Hong Kong to Refrigerate Their Phones:

On the data-transmission front, thick metal walls can create a sort of electromagnetic barrier, which enables the device to function as something known as a Faraday cage. A true Faraday cage is a space where radio waves cannot pass and therefore data cannot be transmitted. Although all fridges don’t function this way, those constructed with more metal have the potential to serve this purpose.

Another household object that functions similarly, Mr. Harvey has learned through his research into cellphone data transmission, is a stainless steel martini shaker.


I've lost too many cell phones that way. And the drink tastes weird.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:18 PM on June 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


NSA removes 'fact sheet' from the internet. Apparently not actually 'factual'.
posted by delmoi at 8:43 PM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sorry, NSA, Terrorists Don't Use Verizon. Or Skype. Or Gmail.
posted by homunculus at 10:39 PM on June 25, 2013


homunculus: but journalists and activists do, so it's not a lost effort.
posted by el io at 10:58 PM on June 25, 2013


homunculus: That headline may be right, but I find the argument interesting - terrorists don't use Verizon, Skype or Gmail because they know that the NSA is monitoring those. So the NSA shouldn't monitor those.
posted by nightwood at 11:08 PM on June 25, 2013


I find the argument interesting

The argument I find interesting is the one where democracy appropriates totalitarian measures to achieve its goals.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:40 PM on June 25, 2013


Is 'The Five Eyes Alliance' Conspiring to Spy on You?

a suggested question for the White House press corps: "President Obama, how often do foreign governments let the U.S. government access information collected from U.S. citizens who aren't suspected of any crime?"
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 12:04 AM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Lost & Found
posted by homunculus at 12:31 AM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Given the US concern about Russia debriefing Snowden, I find it a bit amusing that they are demanding that Russia take Snowden into custody. Have they thought this request through?

It looks like Putin is weighing political relations over his intelligence agencies desires.
posted by el io at 9:36 AM on June 26, 2013


ProPublica had a good podcast about claims that NSA surveillance prevented terror attacks. They focus on David Coleman Headley, who was involved in the Mumbai attacks and was plotting another attack in Europe. It is the planned European attack — retaliation against the newspaper that published the cartoons of Mohammed — that was supposedly disrupted by NSA surveillance.

Headley was an American whose second wife, a Canadian, warned the FBI about him, and whose third wife warned the US about him at our embassy in Islamabad. (cite) These warnings predated the Mumbai attacks. According to the podcast, the US government was tipped off about Headley a total of six times.

It's reminiscent of the "underwear bomber", whose father warned two CIA agents in Nigeria about his son. Or of the "shoe bomber", who was initially denied boarding and questioned before being rebooked on a later transatlantic flight.

One of the many questions I have is why NSA intercepts haven't been presented as evidence in court when these programs are supposedly disrupting so many criminal conspiracies. I would be very interested in hearing Ironmouth's take on this, as well as my other questions, if he has time.
posted by compartment at 9:39 AM on June 26, 2013


One of the many questions I have is why NSA intercepts haven't been presented as evidence in court when these programs are supposedly disrupting so many criminal conspiracies

Intelligence agencies always hate this idea, because it gives away capabilities. GCHQ has fought against this in the UK several times.
posted by jaduncan at 9:44 AM on June 26, 2013


Steve Wozniak: Snowden ‘Is a Hero Because This Came From His Heart’
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:02 AM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Four years ago, Ed Snowden thought leakers should be ‘shot’
posted by Drinky Die at 11:00 AM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Evidently, four years inside the national security bureaucracy radically changed Snowden’s views about executive secrecy. “I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong,” Snowden said after releasing dozens of classified documents to two newspapers. Snowden says he got “hardened” later in 2009 as he “watched as Obama advanced the very policies that I thought would be reined in.” He now believes the government’s spying programs pose “an existential threat to democracy.”

Actually knowing what the government has been doing can certainly change one's perspective.
posted by leftcoastbob at 11:12 AM on June 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


Regarding the Smith case (that has been discussed at some length in this thread), Representative Grayson attacks the applicability of that decision. Grayson has been a lawyer for 20 years (ie: more than a GED).

The entire speech is worth watching.
posted by el io at 11:25 AM on June 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


US got NSA leaker Edward Snowden's middle name wrong, says Hong Kong: Justice secretary explains why White House's request for arrest of whistleblower was turned down
posted by homunculus at 11:46 AM on June 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


For some reason I couldn't get the you tube clip to work. It kept reporting an error every time I tried to load it. So I found this clip of where he specifically references the smith ruling and calls the NSA's interpretation of that ruling "a farce". I don't know if he goes into more detail elsewhere in the speech, but I would sure like a working link if anyone has one.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:53 AM on June 26, 2013




US got NSA leaker Edward Snowden's middle name wrong, says Hong Kong: Justice secretary explains why White House's request for arrest of whistleblower was turned down


LOL.

You know what would make this kind of data error better? MOAR SURVEILANCE.
posted by lalochezia at 11:57 AM on June 26, 2013


Aelfwine Evenstar: No, that was the extent of his discussions on Smith. The transcript of that half hour speech I linked to can be found here.

His discussions of government abuses of government surveillance in the past (specifically Martin Luther King Jr) are also worthy of note.
posted by el io at 12:15 PM on June 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


As I've said in other ways before. The idea that the government is trying to create some all seeing eye to watch over us is disturbing, but the fact that it doesn't work and can't work; well that's just galling. Billions of dollars to collect this data, which they obviously can't secure, in order to try to compute the uncomputable. Do not fly lists of tens of thousands of common names; most of which are also used by totally harmless individuals. Weekly drone strikes that target bit players, and suspicious looking people; that also happen to kill many innocent bystanders. All of this data being rolled up into reports designed to make the program managers look good. Classify all men over 14 in the kill zone as an insurgent; boost the stats. Information dominance is measured in zeta-bytes gathered, not actionable intelligence yielded. No measurements beyond anecdotal tales of success are used to justify the program.
posted by humanfont at 12:30 PM on June 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Donald Trump Thinks Edward Snowden Should Be Executed, Rest of World Unsure Why We’re Asking Donald Trump About This
posted by homunculus at 2:06 PM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


US got NSA leaker Edward Snowden's middle name wrong

Incompetent or the inside man doing the wrong thing so that Mr. Snowden can get away?

Sabotage can take many forms.
posted by rough ashlar at 3:15 PM on June 26, 2013


Four years ago, Ed Snowden thought leakers should be ‘shot’
Thought, or pretended to think, in a very conspicuous way? Anyway, if this was four years ago it doesn't conflict with his purported timeline that much.
US got NSA leaker Edward Snowden's middle name wrong, says Hong Kong: Justice secretary explains why White House's request for arrest of whistleblower was turned down
And I'm sure it's standard procedure when there's an error on an extradition request to send someone behind the back of a person's lawyer to personally warn them that there was an error on an extradition form, and they should probably get the fuck out of the country before it gets fixed :P
As I've said in other ways before. The idea that the government is trying to create some all seeing eye to watch over us is disturbing, but the fact that it doesn't work and can't work; well that's just galling. Billions of dollars to collect this data, which they obviously can't secure, in order to try to compute the uncomputable.
It depends on what they want to do with the data. Do they want to find terrorists? It's not going to work to well. Do they want to identify up-and-comers in Chinese society while they're still in college so they can try to influence them to hold pro-corporate views early on? Might work pretty well. Want to do corporate espionage and keep track of what Chinese tech people are working on? Might work pretty well.
Sabotage can take many forms.
I don't think a saboteur would expect that to actually work. It required the Hong Kong government to give him a clear warning to get out. The error could have been corrected easily if HK wanted to comply.


I think the people at the DOJ have just gotten lazy from always getting their way in the courts.
posted by delmoi at 3:49 PM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Donald Trump Thinks Edward Snowden Should Be Executed

"Taking the 'you're fired' thing too literally again, Donald reflected on what the world could have been like if only he'd won the 2012 election."
posted by jaduncan at 3:52 PM on June 26, 2013



US got NSA leaker Edward Snowden's middle name wrong, says Hong Kong: Justice secretary explains why White House's request for arrest of whistleblower was turned down

There's a young Harvard or Yale-trained lawyer in the Justice Department feeling very worried about his job right now.
posted by Unified Theory at 4:23 PM on June 26, 2013


There's a young Harvard or Yale-trained lawyer in the Justice Department feeling very worried about his job right now.

Reminded me of this:

Graduates of the law school have been among the most influential of the more than 150 Regent University alumni hired to federal government positions since President Bush took office in 2001, according to a university website.

One of those graduates is Monica Goodling , the former top aide to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales who is at the center of the storm over the firing of US attorneys. Goodling, who resigned on Friday, has become the face of Regent overnight -- and drawn a harsh spotlight to the administration's hiring of officials educated at smaller, conservative schools with sometimes marginal academic reputations.
...

"It used to be that high-level DOJ jobs were generally reserved for the best of the legal profession," wrote a contributor to The New Republic website . ". . . That a recent graduate of one of the very worst (and sketchiest) law schools with virtually no relevant experience could ascend to this position is a sure sign that there is something seriously wrong at the
DOJ."
posted by Brian B. at 7:09 PM on June 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Monica would have gotten Edward Jingleheimer Snowden's name correct on ALL the papers.
posted by nightwood at 7:12 PM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


After Khalid el-Masri, Details Like Snowden’s Middle Name Matter
And in an international context, there’s an even bigger reason why any country would be crazy to hand over a person if the US couldn’t get his name right. German citizen Khalid el-Masri was kidnapped and tortured in Afghanistan for four years because the US government mistook him for a guy named Khalid al-Masri.

There was no telling who Hong Kong might have unintentionally turned over to an American black hole.

Once upon a time, sure, other countries might have been able to take us at our word on something like this. But not only do we insist on even higher accuracy from their citizens when they come to the US than the US does from me and my legal name, but the US has a history of torturing people for years based on misidentification.
posted by ryoshu at 7:40 PM on June 26, 2013 [8 favorites]


Gavin Has Nothing to Hide From the NSA
posted by homunculus at 7:43 PM on June 26, 2013


And in an international context, there’s an even bigger reason why any country would be crazy to hand over a person if the US couldn’t get his name right. German citizen Khalid el-Masri was kidnapped and tortured in Afghanistan for four years because the US government mistook him for a guy named Khalid al-Masri.

There was no telling who Hong Kong might have unintentionally turned over to an American black hole.[...] but the US has a history of torturing people for years based on misidentification.


THIS.

This has been my worst nightmare since 2007 after I stumbled onto a wikipedia page, which still exists, that lists "Hindu Kashmiri tribes who converted to Islam" (first, WTF? tribes??) and my grandfather's middle name is listed there. We are from an entirely different part of India, are not and have never been muslim, and I was simply given that middle name as a last name because family didn't want to perpetuate caste indicators the British had enforced as surnames in pre-Independence India. After one too many stories of these types of "Ooops we got the wrong person" I just left the NA continent for my own peace of mind. That was 6 years ago.
posted by infini at 9:26 PM on June 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


Today's revelation - Email metadata collected.

According to a top-secret draft report by the NSA's inspector general – published for the first time today by the Guardian – the agency began "collection of bulk internet metadata" involving "communications with at least one communicant outside the United States or for which no communicant was known to be a citizen of the United States".

Eventually, the NSA gained authority to "analyze communications metadata associated with United States persons and persons believed to be in the United States", according to a 2007 Justice Department memo, which is marked secret.


Not mentioned in the article is if the 'subject' line was included in the metadata (which it certainly could).

"Known as Stellar Wind, the program initially did not rely on the authority of any court – and initially restricted the NSA from analyzing records of emails between communicants wholly inside the US"

Citizens living abroad would apparently be subject to this (as I was during this time frame). The article notes how this program was initially launched without the knowledge or permission of the FISA court.

Is everyone here who were comfortable with the previous revelations still comfortable? If so, what precisely would make you uncomfortable? For those that have 'nothing to hide', please memail me your gmail username/password (just so I can verify that you have nothing to hide).
posted by el io at 8:52 AM on June 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


More on the metadata collection program from the guardian.

On December 31, 2012, an SSO official wrote that ShellTrumpet had just "processed its One Trillionth metadata record".

What strike me about this is that 9/11 was blamed on a failure to 'connect the dots'. I'm puzzled how a trillion more dots would help.
posted by el io at 8:56 AM on June 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Email metadata collected.

But wait, it gets worse!

Metadata for Internet traffic includes a metric buttload of information. Does anyone else remember the AOL search leak?
posted by ryoshu at 8:57 AM on June 27, 2013


What strike me about this is that 9/11 was blamed on a failure to 'connect the dots'. I'm puzzled how a trillion more dots would help.

Isn't communication exactly what connects the dots?
posted by nightwood at 9:30 AM on June 27, 2013


nightwood: no, interagency communiction, collaberation , and analysis of the existing dots is what connects them. a trillion more dots are just that - more dots.
posted by el io at 9:35 AM on June 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


> I'm puzzled how a trillion more dots would help.

The people with the budget authority to finance all of this are technologically unsophisticated. The people selling the systems are doing a con job.

Petraeus resigned because the feds read his email to his girlfriend. Accidentally when they were investigating somebody else. Think Keystone cops.
posted by bukvich at 10:26 AM on June 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Guardian: "Two others, called MoonLightPath and Spinneret, 'are planned to be added by September 2013.'"

Spinnaret seems like a reference to Minaret, a project that intercepted the communications of watch-listed Americans. According to Wikipedia, it operated with no judicial oversight. The story also describes EvilOlive, a project whose ridiculous name suggests that the NSA has again become accustomed to lax oversight.

Also, between EvilOlive and MoonLightPath, the NSA really seems to like camel casing.
posted by compartment at 11:04 AM on June 27, 2013


According to a top-secret draft report by the NSA's inspector general – published for the first time today by the Guardian – the agency began "collection of bulk internet metadata" involving "communications with at least one communicant outside the United States or for which no communicant was known to be a citizen of the United States".

Ack! Just realized why the deletion of my realname gmail account, even after submitting my govt issued ID. Now ridiculous.betaccount gets to send mail to senior civil servants who suggest using comedic headers instead.
posted by infini at 11:44 AM on June 27, 2013


"Two others, called MoonLightPath and Spinneret, 'are planned to be added by September 2013.'"

What I'm really waiting for now, given all this juvenalia, is for The Second City's next show title. Also the Box Office.
posted by infini at 11:49 AM on June 27, 2013


note to NSA: when naming future top-secret projects (that will inevitably end up in the public's knowledge) avoid using the word 'evil'.
posted by el io at 11:50 AM on June 27, 2013


EvilOlive

You know when you buy a jar of olives and there is one that has a sort off color that no one ever eats, and it just sits there until it's the last one? That's this.
posted by Big_B at 11:53 AM on June 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wasn't Stellar Wind leaked years ago? Wikipedia talks about an article from 2008 but I can't find an actual date for the leak.
posted by Big_B at 11:56 AM on June 27, 2013


Transient Thurible metadata will be my next avatar and gmail handle. Maybe I'll even open an FB account.

Do you think I should drop that metadata?
posted by infini at 12:11 PM on June 27, 2013


Al Qaeda Changing Tactics After NSA Leaks
posted by Golden Eternity at 1:34 PM on June 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Al Qaeda Changing Tactics After NSA Leaks

Is that the least untruthful statement?
posted by ryoshu at 2:15 PM on June 27, 2013


Throws water at that last link. Flushes again. Sprays air freshener liberally.
posted by infini at 2:29 PM on June 27, 2013


Gives up and spreads entire article neatly in the flowerbeds.
posted by infini at 2:30 PM on June 27, 2013


Al Qaeda Changing Tactics After NSA Leaks

Is that the least untruthful statement?


It's not true if this piece is accurate: U.S. Surveillance Is Not Aimed at Terrorists
posted by homunculus at 2:33 PM on June 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Good Lord homunculus, the last thing you (of all people) should be attempting to do is to attempt connecting dots between your own slew of links. headasplodemechanism
posted by infini at 2:36 PM on June 27, 2013


"The officials spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to speak about the intelligence matters publicly."

More leakers!
posted by homunculus at 2:39 PM on June 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


[For folks who are looking for chat, it's at chat.metafilter.com]
posted by jessamyn at 2:42 PM on June 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ecuador offers U.S. rights aid, waives trade benefits
posted by homunculus at 2:52 PM on June 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


"I am not going to be scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker,"
posted by infini at 2:59 PM on June 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


"I will, however authorize any and all available secret surveillance that we can muster to determine where he is and what he is doing right at this very moment."
posted by Big_B at 3:56 PM on June 27, 2013


I don't think Obama really has his heart in going after Snowden. It appears that he's just going through the motions to satisfy the NSA and its allies. I feel that he isn't as committed to this program as the NSA and any actually bothered that it leaked out. So he's doing the least amount possible and putting guys in charge of the prosecution who apparently can't even bother to spell S Snowden's name right and suggests we shouldn't bother calling Putin directly about the situation
posted by humanfont at 4:09 PM on June 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Meet PRISM’s little brother: Socmint. A secretive unit is developing tools for blanket surveillance of social media.
posted by homunculus at 4:41 PM on June 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


He has been pretty aggressively going after leakers during his time in office, it's hard not to see it as a deliberate policy choice.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:41 PM on June 27, 2013


The Truth Shall Keep Us Free

The judges of the FISA court – the court empowered by Congress to issue search warrants on far less than probable cause, and without describing the places to be searched or the persons or things to be seized – are not permitted to retain any records of their work. They cannot use their own writing materials or carry BlackBerries or iPhones in their own courtrooms, chambers or conference rooms. They cannot retain copies of any documents they’ve signed. Only National Security Agency staffers can keep these records.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 4:46 PM on June 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


In fact, the judges aren't even allowed to read with their own eyes, but must use eyes supplied by the NSA.
posted by nightwood at 4:48 PM on June 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Like these?
posted by homunculus at 5:00 PM on June 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


NYTimes: The criminal NSA. (the authors of said analysis/op-ed have more than a GED - they are law professors).
posted by el io at 8:38 PM on June 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I guess it comes down to expectations. If I see you in public, there's no problem. You're in public. Anyone can see you. If I see you in public and follow you, well, hey, you're in public. If I see you in public and follow you to your home. Then I wait outside your home. And watch what you are doing in your home. And then I follow you when you leave your home. And then I follow you to work. And watch you at work. And I watch what you eat and who you talk to.

And I'm watching and storing your movements and actions. Forever.

At some point this isn't okay.

Now multiply that by 7 billion.

That's the problem.
posted by ryoshu at 9:31 PM on June 27, 2013


From el io's link:
This metadata is extremely revealing; investigators mining it might be able to infer whether we have an illness or an addiction, what our religious affiliations and political activities are, and so on.

I wonder how that is possible just from the metadata. Now, I think the gov't can infer these things from our tax returns, but not merely from the phone metadata.
posted by nightwood at 9:53 PM on June 27, 2013


nightwood: So, when I call my church, synagog, or temple, it becomes fairly evident that I'm a religious person of a specific faith. So when I call my local chapter of AA, or the rehab clinic, or known drug dealer, it becomes fairly obvious that I have a drug or alcohol problem. When I call the ACLU, the NRA, Planned parenthood political lobbying line (or in the case of computer metadata, visit websites of these organizations on a regular basis), my political affiliations become evident.

Certainly not everyone uses the phone in this way, but there are 'calling trees' for political calls to action, people do call televangelists, people certainly receive phone calls from aids clinics and pharmacies, pastors do call to homes when a member of their 'flock' has an illness (as recently happened with my recently departed grandmother). The fact that a campaign is calling a home to 'get out the vote' means I'm probably a likely voter of that particular political affiliation. More so with actual political activists - they are organizing, and therefore communicating with other members of their political affinity group.

While this may sound like a bit of work, it's worth keeping in mind the NSA is certainly involved with data mining, and researching into data mining, so it's reasonable to infer that they have a great deal of sophistication in being able to draw these connections (if they want to).

While I certainly don't hold the belief that they are creating files on all americans (that would be more in the territory of the FBI), but they have the capability to create a very detailed picture of anyone they want to at any point they want to (if the allegations of these program, which they haven't refuted, are true); and unknown customers of that data (foreign governments perhaps, the FBI which doesn't have the best track record on civil liberties, nosy agents - if the police track record is any indication of what might happen).

While it's not exactly on topic, here is an example of the power of aggregated data in giving insight into a persons personal information they haven't voluntarily released.
posted by el io at 10:12 PM on June 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


but the metadata has '202-555-1234' called '202-555-9876' for 10 minutes starting at 11:20am on June 10th, 2005.

nowhere in the metadata is 202-555-1234 = nightwood and 202-555-9876=nightwood's bookie.

Certainly that information can be gotten elsewhere, but that doesn't come with the metadata which seems to be mis-understood by many people.
posted by nightwood at 4:44 AM on June 28, 2013


The thing you're misunderstanding is that making metadata connections is easy, and once you have enough connections, even between totally orphaned metadata items, discovering what the metadata pertains to is easy through network analysis.

Your bookie's number will have hundreds of different incoming numbers calling it, and they'll all come at days and certain times of the day typically right before and right after races at the track. Now we know a number belongs to a bookie, and if you call a bookie with an anonymous number, we know you like to bet on the horses.

Who else will you call or text with that number? If you use that number to call a Toyota dealer's repair line, we can assume you own a Toyota. Call a plumber, we assume you own a house. Get a call from a doctor twice in a week, and we know you've probably been diagnosed with an illness. It goes on and on, and if any one of those network connections is tied to or can be associated with a SSN record, then all the other connections fall into place.

Discovery by inference is extremely powerful.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:01 AM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yes, but again you've assumed that they already have associated entities with the phone numbers. Which they may do, but is not in the metadata. It was just sloppy work by the lawyers who wrote that piece in the NYTimes. (assuming the editors didn't take out the part that shows that the lawyers understood what the metadata does and does not contain).
posted by nightwood at 5:05 AM on June 28, 2013


I do not understand the real-world relevance of the argument you are trying to put forward.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:13 AM on June 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


If you use that number to call a Toyota dealer's repair line, we can assume you own a Toyota. Call a plumber, we assume you own a house. Get a call from a doctor twice in a week, and we know you've probably been diagnosed with an illness

But they don't know from the metadata that number 'xyz' is a toyota dealer or number 'abc' is a plumber, and so on.

The article said that the NSA can determine things like your religious or political affiliation from the metadata. The NSA (as well as the FBI, and perhaps Target, Inc) could, i'm sure figure out those things on anyone, but they'd need data outside the metadata to do so.
posted by nightwood at 5:20 AM on June 28, 2013


There's publicly available data. They probably do know that number 'xyz' is a toyota dealer or number 'abc' is a plumber. The discussion about metadata isn't about using metadata and only metadata alone; it's about how, through a combination of existing, available data, as well as 'metadata' collected from people, religious and political affiliation, as well as other characteristics, is pretty easy to infer.

nowhere in the metadata is 202-555-1234 = nightwood and 202-555-9876=nightwood's bookie.

202-555-9876 is published in the yellow pages, perhaps. Or 202-555-9876 often calls another number often published in the yellow pages. etc.
posted by suedehead at 5:25 AM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


So you are raising a semantic argument about the usage of the word "metadata" that has no actual bearing on the activities of the NSA?
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:28 AM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yes, but again you've assumed that they already have associated entities with the phone numbers. Which they may do, but is not in the metadata. It was just sloppy work by the lawyers who wrote that piece in the NYTimes. (assuming the editors didn't take out the part that shows that the lawyers understood what the metadata does and does not contain).
William Binney, a mathematician who worked at the NSA for almost 40 years and helped automate its worldwide eavesdropping, said Utah's computers could store data at the rate of 20 terabytes – the equivalent of the Library of Congress – per minute. "Technically it's not that complicated. You just need to work out an indexing scheme to order it."
I'm going to stick my neck out here and suggest that the phone metadata doesn't take 20TB a minute. It's therefore safe to assume that it's not only the phone metadata that is being considered. In fact, given that the point of the publicly announced but now dead Total Information Awareness program was explicitly to combine comms metadata with credit card records, marketing data, social network programs and third party databases in general, one would have to suspect that the non-public programs do fairly similar things after greater legal authority for surveillance has been given.
posted by jaduncan at 5:38 AM on June 28, 2013


I'm saying the the article assumes that the NSA is breaking the law (as I understand it - by looking associating the phone number with people and entities without a warrant) to say that the collection of metadata is criminal. Now, if they have evidence that the NSA does do that, that would be criminal. They just don't present that in their argument.
posted by nightwood at 6:30 AM on June 28, 2013


They just don't present that in their argument.

Yeah, maybe. But... we all know those people in the big black mirrored building are up to no good. We know that. Who are we kidding? Nobody, that's who. We KNOW it.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:45 AM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


The article argues the mass surveillance itself is illegal and not authorized by the Patriot Act because it isn't specifically targeted.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:55 AM on June 28, 2013


I'm saying the the article assumes that the NSA is breaking the law (as I understand it - by looking associating the phone number with people and entities without a warrant) to say that the collection of metadata is criminal. Now, if they have evidence that the NSA does do that, that would be criminal. They just don't present that in their argument.

What possible use would random phone numbers be if they couldn't connect them to people or places? I guess this is another NSA quantum state:

Collecting the metadata attached to every phone call made is critical to national security and the NSA has no idea what the metadata means.
posted by ryoshu at 6:58 AM on June 28, 2013 [6 favorites]


Those National Security Quantum states would make a fun tumblr, ryoshu, and tumblr is a terrible thing to suggest someone should do.
posted by notyou at 8:35 AM on June 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


nightwood: are you arguing that sure the NSA collects all sorts of metadata for every phone call ever made, but doesn't try to figure out who those entities are? (I mean, i google unknown phone numbers to find out if they are telemarkers, scammers, etc). Do you really believe that? I'm not sure if you are being willfully obtuse or arguing in bad faith. You don't work for the US government, by chance, do you?
posted by el io at 10:07 AM on June 28, 2013


You don't work for the US government, by chance, do you?

Aren't we all, whether knowingly or unknowingly? Writing for them, tweeting for them, developing products, services and business models for them, making videos, gifs and lolcats for their delectation.
posted by infini at 10:19 AM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]




infini: " You don't work for the US government, by chance, do you?

Aren't we all, whether knowingly or unknowingly? Writing for them, tweeting for them, developing products, services and business models for them, making videos, gifs and lolcats for their delectation.
"

Look at all these little things! So busy now! Notice how each one is useful. A lovely ballet ensues, so full of form and color. Now, think about all those people that created them. Technicians, engineers, hundreds of people, who will be able to feed their children tonight, so those children can grow up big and strong and have little teeny children of their own, and so on and so forth. Thus, adding to the great chain of life. You see, father, by causing a little destruction, I am in fact encouraging life. In reality, you and I are in the same business.
posted by iamabot at 10:21 AM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


el io. I don't work for any gov't, but i have done analysis on metadata (but not phone metadata). And I know that you can do a lot with metadata alone. I would hope, but don't have documentation either way, that they do ongoing analysis and if there is a number or numbers of interest then they get a warrant to link that data to particular people or organizations.

But this argument seems to be that the collection of metadata is illegal because we are SURE that they are linking to individuals/organizations without a warrant (which I have not seen documented). I believe that the collection of metadata only is legal (but should not be) and is useful (but not enough to justify it).

I'd be interested in a legal argument of why the patriot act et al does not legalize this collection of metadata without mistating (as the NYT article above does) what the collected data does or does not contain.
posted by nightwood at 11:19 AM on June 28, 2013


Chris Hayes on the leak double standard
posted by homunculus at 11:26 AM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


nightwood: Grayson, in his analysis linked above, seemed certain it was unconstitutional, and that Smith vs Maryland did not apply to the scope of the data being collected; and he is certainly a lawyer by training and profession. His speech in the house did not do a careful legal analysis of the subject, however. The New Yorker has more thoughts on the legal issues (and where the supreme court might lean).

I don't think I've heard anyone (including the govt/nsa/govt apologists) assert (other than yourself) that the goverment wouldn't associate the metadata with people/organizations.

Of course it's only possible to engage in this discussion because of Snowden's revelations (and that is exactly what he wanted if one is to believe his assertions regarding his motivations - which don't seem to be questioned by his allies or foes).
posted by el io at 12:21 PM on June 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't work for any gov't, but i have done analysis on metadata (but not phone metadata). And I know that you can do a lot with metadata alone.
What kind of analysis did you do? (i.e. what kind of mathematical techniques did you use?)

Your arguments here seem to be predicated on accepting everything the government says as true unless there's evidence they're false. That doesn't seem like the kind of reasoning a statistician would employ.
posted by delmoi at 1:39 PM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


U.S. Prism, Meet China’s Golden Shield
posted by homunculus at 4:09 PM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Bipartisan Group Of Senators Wants Answers On NSA Surveillance
By providing seven specific questions, they said they hoped to clear up misleading statements by Clapper in the past and allow their constituents to evaluate the decisions the government is making:

1) How long has the NSA used PATRIOT Act authorities to engage in bulk collection of Americans’ records? Was this collection underway when the law was reauthorized in 2006?
2) Has the NSA used USA PATRIOT Act authorities to conduct bulk collection of any other types of records pertaining to Americans, beyond phone records?
3) Has the NSA collected or made any plans to collect Americans’ cell-site location data in bulk?
4) Have there been any violations of the court orders permitting this bulk collection, or of the rules governing access to these records? If so, please describe these violations.
5) Please identify any specific examples of instances in which intelligence gained by reviewing phone records obtained through Section 215 bulk collection proved useful in thwarting a particular terrorist plot.
6) Please provide specific examples of instances in which useful intelligence was gained by reviewing phone records that could not have been obtained without the bulk collection authority, if such examples exist.
7) Please describe the employment status of all persons with conceivable access to this data, including IT professionals, and detail whether they are federal employees, civilian or military, or contractors.
posted by ryoshu at 6:38 PM on June 28, 2013 [5 favorites]


What an NSA charm offensive looks like
posted by homunculus at 8:27 PM on June 28, 2013


Here's the letter from ryoshu's last link.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 1:32 AM on June 29, 2013


The NSA Can't Tell the Difference Between an American and a Foreigner

According to former intelligence officials, the NSA routinely opens e-mails and reads their contents to determine if the sender was a U.S. person. Reading that message doesn't require the agency to obtain a warrant, and if an analyst discovers that the communication belongs to a U.S. person, he is supposed to destroy it if it has no intelligence value and does not contain information about a crime. But the NSA's guidelines allow the agency to hang onto this information for up to five years before trying to determine its origin


Rushes off to dig out US green card to add Alien Registration number to email sig
posted by infini at 5:18 AM on June 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


US army blocks access to Guardian website to preserve 'network hygiene'
posted by Mister Bijou at 7:43 AM on June 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


U.S Government Surveillance: Bad for Silicon Valley, Bad for Democracy Around the World

Atlantic (Christopher Jon Sprigman and Jennifer Granick Jun 28 2013)
posted by bukvich at 9:57 AM on June 29, 2013


U.S. bugged EU offices, computer networks: German magazine

(Reuters) - The United States bugged European Union offices and gained access to EU internal computer networks, according to secret documents cited in a German magazine on Saturday, the latest in a series of exposures of alleged U.S. spy programs.


Ugh, Snowden is revealing our actions against our geopolitical rivals in SOCIALIST EUROPE.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:37 AM on June 29, 2013


Ugh, Snowden is revealing our actions against our geopolitical rivals in SOCIALIST EUROPE.

Oh, I wouldn't worry about that. The US owns the internet and every pixel on it. They can do as they please. Can't the interwebs just snip away the stuff that offends? You know, a world wide webwide Find and Replace Socialist with Free Market or something?
posted by infini at 12:35 PM on June 29, 2013


NYTimes: The criminal NSA. (the authors of said analysis/op-ed have more than a GED - they are law professors).

You'll Never Know if the NSA Is Breaking the Law — or Keeping You Safe
posted by homunculus at 1:57 PM on June 29, 2013


Lets see how long this comment lasts.
posted by infini at 2:06 PM on June 29, 2013


I don't work for any gov't, but i have done analysis on metadata (but not phone metadata). And I know that you can do a lot with metadata alone.

Yup. Have you seen Professor Kieran Healey's detailed article on Using Metadata to Find Paul Revere? The last paragraph is the one you really want to read...
posted by Asparagirl at 6:53 PM on June 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


I like this Professor. From Asparagirl's link:

I cannot show you the whole Person by Person matrix, because I would have to kill you. I jest, I jest! It is just because it is rather large. But here is a little snippet of it. At this point in the eighteenth century, a 254x254 matrix is what we call Bigge Data”. I have an upcoming EDWARDx talk about it. You should come.

posted by infini at 10:55 PM on June 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Your arguments here seem to be predicated on accepting everything the government says as true unless there's evidence they're false. That doesn't seem like the kind of reasoning a statistician would employ.

No, but Statists like it. So do the people who fear their Government or for their Government supplied paycheck and don't wish to upset the powerful lest they end up in the unemployment lines.
posted by rough ashlar at 5:12 PM on June 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, well, well. Snowden is going to hand it all over to Putin.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:45 AM on July 1, 2013


No, but Statists like it.

As a genuine socialist European, I'd like to say that I'm not sure that people who believe in the state believe in an unregulated security apparatus with no democratic oversight. I think you'll find that civil liberties are an issue that tends to cross party lines. One might think that the IRA, BNP/NF/EDL, or indeed Al Qaeda are not exactly a great bunch of lads (and indeed I would agree), but that doesn't mean that the same person would support detention without trial for them or lifelong surveillance of members not suspected of any crime.
posted by jaduncan at 9:58 AM on July 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Well, well, well. Snowden is going to hand it all over to Putin.

A well-placed anonymous source told you that, right?
posted by Mister Bijou at 12:58 PM on July 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


Not sure Putin is stupid enough to do a deal for information that would be public in a month and is almost certainly known by the FSB in any case. You'd need to pay with more than that.
posted by jaduncan at 12:59 PM on July 1, 2013


Well, well, well. Snowden is going to hand it all over to Putin.

If he does, it will only be a result of Obama et al ensuring he has nowhere else to go. There's incompetence in dealing with leaks and there's extra special levels of incompetence that the current administration and their hard line on refusing to accept there is any value in whistleblowing have reached. Which I guess it's impressive on its some level, so there's that.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 1:42 PM on July 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Well, well, well. Snowden is going to hand it all over to Putin.

If he does, it will only be a result of Obama et al ensuring he has nowhere else to go. There's incompetence in dealing with leaks and there's extra special levels of incompetence that the current administration and their hard line on refusing to accept there is any value in whistleblowing have reached. Which I guess it's impressive on its some level, so there's that.


Up is down. A guy steals secrets from a job he got just for the purpose to steal secrets. Then he absconds with the secrets. Then he needs to get a deal for asylum, so he hands it all over to the guy who put Pussy Riot in jail due to his deep love of freedom.

But yes, it is all the government's fault because they didn't let him walk away from punishment for an act he knew was a crime from the first minute he did it.

Up is down.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:09 PM on July 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Then he needs to get a deal for asylum, so he hands it all over to the guy who put Pussy Riot in jail due to his deep love of freedom.

A well-placed anonymous source told you that, right?
posted by Mister Bijou at 4:17 PM on July 1, 2013


: "Well, well, well. Snowden is going to hand it all over to Putin."

But I just heard Obama say that all countries spy on each other. Surely the Russians, of all people, have moles in the NSA. I mean, if a junior sysadmin can pwn them, the professionals are so far up in their business that they know which boxers Obama is wearing today.
posted by mullingitover at 4:20 PM on July 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


A guy steals secrets from a job he got just for the purpose to steal secrets. Then he absconds with the secrets.

Or, more accurately, he uncovered evidence of massive US government wrongdoing, and -- needing to collect enough evidence to make an overwhelming case in the face of what would inevitably be a massive operation to discredit and silence him -- took a job with the purpose of collecting such information so it could be disclosed in the American public's interest and provide the impetus for policy changes concerning US surveillance of its own citizens.
posted by Unified Theory at 4:29 PM on July 1, 2013 [7 favorites]


No, but Statists like it.

"Statism" is a bullshit ideology that doesn't exist and was made up so Libertarians could have something to compare themselves to that was bad enough to actually make Libertarianism look moral and heroic. O'Brien from 1984 was not a real person, Ingsoc is not a real ideology, and "statism" is an ideology that exists only in the imagination of Libertarians. It is a stupid and malicious insult and cannot be used as part of civil discourse.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:14 PM on July 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


Nightwood wrote: But this argument seems to be that the collection of metadata is illegal because we are SURE that they are linking to individuals/organizations without a warrant [...]

No, you've misstated the issue. Everyone agrees that under present law it is legal for a government agency to use a "pen register" (a device that records outgoing calls dialed) on an individual phone line. The information collected by a pen register is pretty similar to what we now refer to as "call metadata", and it's conceptually identical: number called, time called, duration of call and so forth. Cellular metadata will probably include information that identifies the location of the caller and person called, but a pen register on fixed lines does the same.

There is no doubt that the government can cross-reference information collected by a pen register. There would be little point collecting it otherwise. By extension, there should be no problem cross-referencing call metadata. If it's legal to collect it, it should be legal to cross-reference it.

So the question is, given that it's legal to collect any individual person's call metadata, is it legal to collect every person's call metadata. I think this is the position Ironmouth promotes. But we can see that there's a huge effective difference between these two situations. If we're examining an individual it's presumably somebody suspected of a crime, and the societal interest in identifying criminals can override their expectation of privacy. Furthermore, if we're only examining individuals then their loss of privacy isn't great: after the investigation there is little point in studying or perhaps even retaining the data. But if we're collecting everyone's data then we're doing it all the time, forever, and to people who are not suspects. The only safeguard against abuse of this is the government's present policy.

There is precedent for a similar change in technology that made something formally legal turn out to be illegal. In United States V. Jones [PDF] the government argued that it was legal to attach a GPS to a suspect's car without a warrant. The reasoning was that since an individual has no expectation of privacy against being seen on the street, there could be no expectation of privacy in an automated recording of where they (well, their car) went. The Supreme Court unanimously found that no, this was illegal.

US v. Jones is distinguishable from the issue of metadata collection because there was a physical "search", however trivial (i.e., sticking a small GPS module under the suspect's car). Metadata involves no physical search of anyone's "persons, houses, papers, and effects". This was the actual reasoning of the majority (five of nine judges) and they explicitly declined to consider the larger issue of the suspect's "reasonable expectation of privacy". On the other hand, Justice Sotomayor's concurring opinion and the concurring opinion of the four other judges did base their reasoning on the suspect's “reasonable expectation of privacy", and Sotomayor explicitly mentioned the use of smartphones, storage of records, mining of metadata and so forth. I find it hard to believe that she wasn't aware of the government's use of metadata and sending up a signal about her position.

So there is definitely an arguable position, untested in the courts, that the US government's warrantless surveillance of the USA and the world is legal as long as it doesn't involve a physical search. On the other hand, the majority of the US Supreme Court believes that surveillance that breaches an individual's "reasonable expectation of privacy" is illegal, and there are very good grounds for supposing that they would find that the US government's actions breach this standard.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:24 PM on July 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


Well, well, well. Snowden is going to hand it all over to Putin.

Or...no.

Snowden drops Russia asylum request
posted by Drinky Die at 2:12 AM on July 2, 2013


But yes, it is all the government's fault because they didn't let him walk away from punishment for an act he knew was a crime from the first minute he did it.

That's actually not what I said. But if you think that Obama and his administration have managed this whole thing in a competent and sensible way, fair enough. I just differ. They have to have known that a) their take no prisoners approach with whistleblowers was going to result in one of them legging it out of the country at some point - people aren't that eager to be martyred on the whole, and b) what Snowden was going to leak.* For b) they've taken no steps at all to mitigate or get in front of any of the revelations and now that those revelations are touching on spying on the citizens as well as the governments of friendly nations, their response has been 'well, everyone's doing it', which is about the crappest nonapology I can imagine giving to a nation/collection of nations you've pissed off. They make Paula Deen's apologies look good.

*And if they didn't, good god, those that mean they have no way to track what gets yanked off these top secret systems? That's got to be terrifying if you care as much about national security as they insist they do.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 11:51 AM on July 2, 2013


Green party politician Malte Spitz sued to have German telecoms giant Deutsche Telekom hand over six months of his phone data that he then made available to ZEIT ONLINE. We combined this geolocation data with information relating to his life as a politician, such as Twitter feeds, blog entries and websites, all of which is all freely available on the internet.

By pushing the play button, you will set off on a trip through Malte Spitz's life. The speed controller allows you to adjust how fast you travel, the pause button will let you stop at interesting points. In addition, a calendar at the bottom shows when he was in a particular location and can be used to jump to a specific time period. Each column corresponds to one day.

posted by Drinky Die at 2:34 PM on July 2, 2013


But yes, it is all the government's fault because they didn't let him walk away from punishment for an act he knew was a crime from the first minute he did it.

Ironmouth - here's a question.

Do you believe that blanket NSA surveillance on all US-handled communications, and thus all US citizens -- not just a specific target list, but all US citizens is a good thing?

Nowhere have you actually answered this question.
posted by suedehead at 11:20 AM on July 3, 2013


There's probably an Umrikan law for harassing other country's Presidents so that's all right as well innit?
posted by infini at 11:24 AM on July 3, 2013


But yes, it is all the government's fault because they didn't let him walk away from punishment for an act he knew was a crime from the first minute he did it.

Ironmouth - here's a question.

Do you believe that blanket NSA surveillance on all US-handled communications, and thus all US citizens -- not just a specific target list, but all US citizens is a good thing?

Nowhere have you actually answered this question.


Let's be clear--surveillance is the actual reading of the communications. I do not believe, nor has Snowden provided evidence that there is any blanket communication surveillance. What Snowden has said is that there are two programs. (1) the metadata program; (2) PRISM which involves overseas communications.

I think both of these programs are fine--although PRISM's handling of any web search info that could involve a US person has to be reviewed. This is where some problems may exist.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:58 PM on July 8, 2013


Secret Court's Redefinition of 'Relevant' Empowered Vast NSA Data-Gathering

This change—which specifically enabled the surveillance recently revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden—was made by the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, a group of judges responsible for making decisions about government surveillance in national-security cases. In classified orders starting in the mid-2000s, the court accepted that "relevant" could be broadened to permit an entire database of records on millions of people, in contrast to a more conservative interpretation widely applied in criminal cases, in which only some of those records would likely be allowed, according to people familiar with the ruling.

posted by Drinky Die at 3:17 PM on July 8, 2013


Federal Judge Allows EFF's NSA Mass Spying Case to Proceed
Rejects Government's State Secret Privilege Claims in Jewel v. NSA and Shubert v. Obama

posted by Drinky Die at 9:36 PM on July 8, 2013


Drinky Die: A less optimistic reading would be that almost all the plaintiffs' claims (i.e., the statutory ones under the Patriot Act and so on) were struck out, leaving only the Constitutional ones.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:12 PM on July 8, 2013


Let's be clear--surveillance is the actual reading of the communications.

That's a very narrow and disingenuous definition of surveillance.

(Strategic surveillance) involves a conscious strategy—often in an adversarial and inquisitorial context to gather information. Within the strategic form we can distinguish traditional from the new surveillance. The latter is at the core of contemporary concerns. Traditional surveillance is limited. It relies on the unaided senses and was characteristic of pre-industrial societies—information tended to stay local, compartmentalized, unshared and was often unrecorded, or if kept, difficult to retrieve and analyze in depth.

In contrast, the new surveillance involves scrutiny of individuals, groups and contexts through the use of technical means to extract or create information. This means the ability to go beyond what is offered to the unaided senses and minds or what is voluntarily reported. The new surveillance is central to the emergence of a surveillance society with its extensive and intensive (and often remote, embedded) data collection, analysis and networks.
(pg. xxv)

You still have not addressed the history of surveillance in this country and its implications for the modern surveillance state. Why do you trust that the U.S. government will not abuse this power when it has done so at almost every opportunity, and continues to do so up to the present? Until you do I doubt many will take your arguments seriously.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:43 PM on July 8, 2013


Ironmouth wrote: I do not believe, nor has Snowden provided evidence that there is any blanket communication surveillance.

Yes, but a few weeks ago you wouldn't have believed that all "metadata" was being captured. In any event as far as we know voice calls are not recorded if they are (a) solely between US persons and (b) solely between persons in the USA and (c) not relevant to law enforcement - but that's basically everything, right? I think Snowden has also implied that otherwise-privileged communications may be routed internationally and back again, at which point it has either been captured overseas or is now included among the mass of overseas communications that the US monitors anyway.

Also, I should really point out that the rest of the world isn't the USA's bitch: do you not see how profoundly immoral it is to say that your Fourth Amendment exists solely to protect "US persons" and that there is no reason to respect the rights of anyone else? Or follow their laws?
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:02 AM on July 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


Oh yes, and your claim that "surveillance is the actual reading of the communications" is nonsense; a redefinition of language worthy of 1984. It's like saying that it doesn't matter if government spies follow you into the lavatory, as long as they don't actually stick their hands down your pants. It's yet another bit of US government spin that sounds as if it was concocted on the spur of the moment.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:06 AM on July 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


A vignette by Cory Doctorow:
Metadata – a wartime drama
A cast of literally thousands, well, three, tell the story of how collecting data about data in no way compromises privacy

posted by Joe in Australia at 5:35 AM on July 9, 2013


That national conversation about privacy and security is finally happening! It's happening in a hotel ballroom, where the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB, what a great name) is hosting a public meeting today. And even though the ballroom is being used for talking instead of partying, a former FISA judge has made some record-scratching, dance-floor-stopping comments:
"What Fisa does is not adjudication, but approval. This works just fine when it deals with individual applications for warrants, but the 2008 amendment has turned the Fisa court into administrative agency making rules for others to follow."
After saying that that courts should not make a secret body of law without adversarial debate, the judge added a hot zinger with a mic drop. "It is not the bailiwick of judges to make policy," he said, employing one of his finest old-time sounding legal words.
posted by compartment at 11:21 AM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Snowden: I never gave any information to Chinese or Russian governments
posted by homunculus at 12:16 PM on July 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Washington Post: Snowden watch: Today’s Moscow-Havana flight taking a very odd detour that avoids the U.S.
posted by BobbyVan at 9:36 AM on July 11, 2013


Kremlin returns to typewriters to avoid computer leaks
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:55 PM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


The NSA's Surveillance Is Unconstitutional
posted by ryoshu at 6:40 AM on July 12, 2013


Snowden’s… Defection?
posted by BobbyVan at 9:02 AM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Snowden’s… Defection?

More from the Guardian:
Snowden said he intended to stay in Russia until he could win safe passage to Latin America, according to Tanya Lokshina of Human Rights Watch, who was at the meeting.
If Snowden is attempting to defect to Russia, he is not very good at it.
posted by compartment at 10:25 AM on July 12, 2013


« Older Nipple.es...  |  Rogue State: How Far-Right Fan... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments