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January 27, 2014 7:18 AM   Subscribe

In an interview with German television station ARD TV, Edward Snowden has alleged that the NSA is actively engaged in industrial espionage on behalf of US economic interests, targeting German engineering firm, Siemens and other international industrial concerns in its data collection activities, with no legitimate intelligence aims in mind. While the international response to the new allegations is still developing, back home in the US, Snowden has already been accused of disloyalty by US officials on both sides of the aisle, and at least one NSA analyst is on record stating he would personally "love to put a bullet in his head." (Previously)
posted by saulgoodman (90 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
this is not news. Stuxnet targeted Siemens equipment being used in Iran.

also in "not news" - government funded and sponsored industrial espionage occurring between allied countries.
posted by JPD at 7:22 AM on January 27 [5 favorites]


I wish I could say any of the past/present allegations surprised me. I have been reading Democracy for the Few, and one of the early concepts introduced is the idea that government exists primarily to defend the property of the haves from the have-nots, something I have never seen spelled out quite that way before, and it has colored my thinking on this sort of thing enormously.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 7:25 AM on January 27 [5 favorites]


Without actually seeing the whole interview, we have no idea what Mr Snowden really said, anyone can do a hatchet job in editing. For some reason the Germans won't let us watch the original outside of Germany.
posted by MikeWarot at 7:26 AM on January 27 [3 favorites]


News or not, now that it's out there, we actually have a better chance of fighting the NSA since companies can pressure politicians in ways the public can't.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 7:27 AM on January 27 [4 favorites]


Which firms are given the information from this espionage? Certainly not all companies.

Would it be much of a jump for them to be using their spy programmes for insider trading?
posted by anemone of the state at 7:27 AM on January 27


Is "industrial espionage" the correct term here? For me it has always carried a connotation of trade secrets and other private information being obtained for the purpose of directly benefiting a competitor, usually done by that competitor.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 7:28 AM on January 27 [1 favorite]


News or not, now that it's out there, we actually have a better chance of fighting the NSA since companies can pressure politicians in ways the public can't.

The companies know it is going on and have been happy with this state of affairs for the past 100 years+.
posted by JPD at 7:30 AM on January 27


Would it be much of a jump for them to be using their spy programmes for insider trading?

Off and on you hear rumors of such.
posted by JPD at 7:31 AM on January 27


MikeWarot: "For some reason the Germans won't let us watch the original outside of Germany."
NDR, who has produced the interview, does not hold the license rights to broadcast the interview outside Germany.

If you're in Germany or has access to a proxy, you can see the interview here
posted by brokkr at 7:31 AM on January 27


The companies know it is going on and have been happy with this state of affairs for the past 100 years+.
Says who? Comparing today's spying with spying conducted 100+ years ago is hardly relevant.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 7:32 AM on January 27 [3 favorites]


If he has the documents, this is news - the US is on record as strongly denying that the NSA engages in industrial espionage. Documentation punches one more gaping hole in its credibility.

It remains to be seen, obviously, but I also strongly suspect that there are many powerful foreign corporations that did not know, and will not be pleased to find out, that they are the having their trade secrets stolen by the world's most powerful intelligence organization. This is very different from the kind of tit-for-tat theft of intellectual property that has always gone on.

But thanks for getting the knee-jerk response out of the way early, JPD - can you leave the rest of this to discuss this, now?
posted by ryanshepard at 7:35 AM on January 27 [15 favorites]


Without actually seeing the whole interview, we have no idea what Mr Snowden really said, anyone can do a hatchet job in editing. For some reason the Germans won't let us watch the original outside of Germany.

There is a video from a previous interview with NDR in the first link in the FPP, and in it, Snowden raises the same allegations (though not in any detail; presumably the ARD interview is more detailed).

Also, it might not be news to you that we've got out secret intelligence agencies working on behalf of big American companies, but these accusations are definitely news to me and a lot of other people.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:35 AM on January 27 [1 favorite]


I've only been able to find a transcript in German (which NDR of course has since the interview was broadcast dubbed into German). I haven't found any English transcripts, though I'd expect the Pirate Party here to be working on it.
posted by brokkr at 7:37 AM on January 27


Could this be the quid pro quo for inserting back doors in US-manufactured equipment? i.e., put this piece of code in and we'll tell you what your foreign competitors are up to?
posted by Runes at 7:46 AM on January 27 [3 favorites]


This won't be news to anyone in intelligence but Snowden's revelations are less about what he exposes than that he exposes, and in so doing keeps shattering fragile diplomatic conceits. Namely because each new outrage creates a response that politicians in places like Germany or Brazil or even the US have to react to.

Counterintelligence agencies routinely warn companies that they are being targeted. The French and Israelis have both been caught conducting espionage on a large scale in the US. The Chinese are at industrial espionage in industrial quantities. So will be every major intelligence agency according to their budget. To some degree, your view on state-sponsored espionage depends on where you sit on the scale of economic pragmatist to idealist.

Economic espionage is rife, and always has been. Reverse engineering of hi tech is rife. Counterfeiting is rife. Patent infringement is rife. Compulsory licensing of patents is more of a thing. Protectionism and quasi protectionism (like soft government loans) is getting worse, not better. I hate to sound cynical, but there is no level playing ground. State sponsored meddling and dirty tricks in the apparently free market is the ongoing scourge of the modern global economy.

What Snowden is doing is costing the US (uniquely) diplomatic capital on the world stage by exposing the gap between US rhetoric on leadership and governance and US actions on spying. So in that sense the 'news' is the fallout from this round of revelations, particularly in terms of US trade relationships in South America.

Part of the 'problem' is that French, British, Chinese, Indian, Russian etc Snowdens are not emerging to pull the pants down on their respective nations, even a little. Set against a trend in which US policymakers intuitively understand that the next 20 years will see 3 big, ugly, global superpowers emerge and a huge transfer in the share of economic activity and defense spending from the US to emerging countries. In that sense, they see the work they're doing now - whether offensive or defensive - is an investment in the American economy of 2030.
posted by MuffinMan at 7:55 AM on January 27 [15 favorites]


United States: "Answer me! Who taught you how to do this stuff?"

China: "You, alright? I learned it by watching you!"
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:56 AM on January 27 [24 favorites]


at least one NSA analyst is on record stating he would personally "love to put a bullet in his head."

I'd just like to point out that the NSA has hundreds of employees and statistically that means that at least one of those employees is a jackass that runs his mouth. Granted, there are probably a large share of jackasses at the NSA, however one analyst's swaggering does not indicate a agency-wide plan to assassinate Mr. Snowden.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 7:56 AM on January 27 [4 favorites]


United States: "Answer me! Who taught you how to do this stuff?"

China: "You, alright? I learned it by watching you!"


United Kingdom: "Answer me! Who taught you how to do this stuff?"

United States: "You, alright? I learned it directly from you during WWII and after!"
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 7:57 AM on January 27


United States: "You, alright? I learned it directly from you during WWII and after!"

More like 1845.
posted by JPD at 8:02 AM on January 27 [1 favorite]


It's amazing how quickly allegations like this move from "paranoid conspiracy that only a nutter would even suggest much less believe" to "this is S.O.P., everybody in the know knows it, and has known it for many decades; nothing to see here, move along."

I could see the deceptive spin around these topics really fucking with some people's heads in a profoundly cruel and nasty way. (I'm a cynic and have always assumed the worst, so it's not so hard on me, but it's still a little surreal watching this dance from a distance...)
posted by saulgoodman at 8:03 AM on January 27 [25 favorites]


It is a little disinformational to refer to Siemens as German. It is a public multinational corporation with a market capitalization of 82 billion US dollars. They are headquartered in Germany but other than that irrelevant datum there is no economic competition between a German Siemens and an American anything.
posted by bukvich at 8:09 AM on January 27 [3 favorites]


this is not news.

It's not news if you pay attention. It is news if you believe the propaganda promulgated on Sunday morning talk shows. This is important mostly because there are many people out there that want to continue the polite fictions that countries, the US particularly for American domestic audiences, actually follow the rules of diplomacy to the letter.

Snowden is calling the talking heads on their shit, if only for a moment. The propaganda allows all kinds of nasty shit, like the Bay of Pigs, Iran-Contra, drone strikes. Parts of what our governments do is nasty, and likely will continue to be so. What this does is allow us to have an honest debate about it, rather than have the apologists and minimizers in government and the press shout everyone else down.
posted by bonehead at 8:25 AM on January 27 [9 favorites]


Exactly, bukvich - it's like calling GE or Coca-Cola "American" in any meaningful sense. They participate in and influence politics across the globe and compete with other giants on a global scale. Much of their workforce may live in a certain country but at a corporate level they feel little sense of obligation or belonging to a particular gov't.
posted by JoeBlubaugh at 8:26 AM on January 27 [1 favorite]


More like 1845.

The US intelligence services were sorely lacking and openly ridiculed by other countries until the development of the OSS and the direct training provided by British intelligence.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 8:27 AM on January 27


The NSA's Losing Argument
The latest evidence comes from a report last week by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, an independent federal agency established on the recommendation of the Sept. 11 Commission to balance the right to liberty against the need to prevent terrorism.

The board -- which had access to classified information -- offered this blunt assessment:

“We have not identified a single instance involving a threat to the United States in which the telephone records program made a concrete difference in the outcome of a counterterrorism investigation,” the report says. “Moreover, we are aware of no instance in which the program directly contributed to the discovery of a previously unknown terrorist plot or the disruption of a terrorist attack.”
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:29 AM on January 27 [11 favorites]


I think that the existence and scope of industrial espionage between allies is actually pretty well known and documented.
posted by me & my monkey at 8:30 AM on January 27


this is not news.

It's not news if you pay attention. It is news if you believe the propaganda promulgated on Sunday morning talk shows. This is important mostly because there are many people out there that want to continue the polite fictions that countries, the US particularly for American domestic audiences, actually follow the rules of diplomacy to the letter.


where was this fiction ever put forth, even politely? From the beginning of time countries have spied on other countries. I've never seen it put forward by any person that the US does not engage in intelligence operations. Its a straw man that people are fighting. Of course the US spies on other countries and of course we spy on them.

If Ben Franklin ran the first US spy ring, it seems hilarious that some people, including Snowden, were under the impression that the U.S. did not spy on other countries. Much of this "scandal" is about people not taking the time to pay attention to their own laws and intelligence operations, reported widely in the press and debated during the FISA re-authorization of a few years back. But hey, put some fake "hero" out there and people finally pay attention. Where were these people when this issue was actually debated in the FISA Amendments Act of 2008? I'd love to know.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:34 AM on January 27 [1 favorite]


It's amazing how quickly allegations like this move from "paranoid conspiracy that only a nutter would even suggest much less believe" to "this is S.O.P., everybody in the know knows it, and has known it for many decades; nothing to see here, move along."

It reminds me of how in the last 30-40 years, the wealthy have gone from "Give us everything we want because it will be better for everybody" to "Give us everything we want because we are entitled to it and it is wicked and immoral to ask of us anything we don't want to give". Tax cuts, deregulation, an ever-eroding minimum wage and welfare state.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:38 AM on January 27 [9 favorites]


this is not news.

Yeah, stop reminding me of the illegal things powerful people are doing without the consent of those they govern!
posted by swift at 8:41 AM on January 27 [9 favorites]


English version of the interview, on Youtube.
posted by frimble at 8:46 AM on January 27


Where were these people when this issue was actually debated in the FISA Amendments Act of 2008? I'd love to know.

We could ask the NSA to check our logs.
posted by dng at 8:48 AM on January 27 [5 favorites]


The allegation Hero Snowden is making, Ironmouth, is not that the US has been caught spying on its allies (his contribution to that history came months ago, when his documents revealed that the NSA was listening in on Angela Merkel's cell phone calls), but that the NSA is spying on putatively private foreign commercial firms for the benefit of putatively private American commercial firms.

Not news in and of itself, but the revelation puts to lie all the official statements to the contrary, much like Heroine Manning's revelations did.

If we take Snowden at his word that his goal in all of this is enhanced privacy against government snooping for everyone, reminding the heavyweights (such as big multi-nationals), that their privacy rights and commercial interests are at stake, too, can have the effect of drawing powerful allies into the debate.

On preview:

Where were these people when this issue was actually debated in the FISA Amendments Act of 2008? I'd love to know.

Certainly they'd have been paying attention if Snowden had liberated the documents in '07.
posted by notyou at 8:57 AM on January 27 [11 favorites]


From the beginning of time countries have spied on other countries. I've never seen it put forward by any person that the US does not engage in intelligence operations. Its a straw man that people are fighting. Of course the US spies on other countries and of course we spy on them.


The point is that we were performing industrial espionage with the intent purpose to do lasting economic harm to a critical ally. We weren't just peeking in to see what they were up to, to make sure they weren't selling interesting stuff to the Iranians or developing a more efficient militarized laser. Snowden was very explicit - this spying was not done for national security reasons.

This means we were screwing them over with taxpayer money to make sure that a few connected businessmen got a (yet another) leg up. This kind of shit drops a big bag of bolts into international trade and a free and fair market, and is absolutely not par for the course in international intelligence.

Does a small businessman get to see those Siemens sales projections? Fuck no. Only the connected and influential. That's plutocracy in action, and it's evil and very surprising. If I were a legitimate competitor to Siemens, I'd be spitting nails - some big money government contractor is using the NSA to take away my business. Oh, did you think that spying like this only hurt the host country and the business spied on? Guess again.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:59 AM on January 27 [21 favorites]


United States: "Answer me! Who taught you how to do this stuff?"

China: "You, alright? I learned it by watching you!"

United Kingdom: "Answer me! Who taught you how to do this stuff?"

United States: "You, alright? I learned it directly from you during WWII and after!"


And who was your english teacher? ;p
posted by infini at 8:59 AM on January 27 [1 favorite]


What's shocking about this is now not-shocking it is.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:09 AM on January 27


We used to call this cyberwarfare, when it was stories about the Chinese penetrating American interests. Now we call it espionage, because we kinda don't want to call what we are doing to everyone in the world warfare.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:09 AM on January 27 [6 favorites]


MuffinMan: "a huge transfer in the share of economic activity and defense spending from the US to emerging countries"

The latter of which sounds like a welcome development, however I don't think it would work that way. It would be met with more escalation.
posted by Big_B at 9:10 AM on January 27


Setec Astronomy is on the case!
posted by blue_beetle at 9:21 AM on January 27 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure the US can or will escalate defense spending as much as it will focus activity, which will look like escalation in places where China is also trying to project power. The US spends a lot on defense already. But it knows it can't maintain enormous bases right the way across the globe in the way it does now. It also wastes billions each year. It replicates huge amounts of activity across the army, navy and air force.

Rather, one would expect to see the US shift its resources. It doesn't need to have 40,000 people in Germany as well as 10,000 people each in the UK and Italy. It won't continue to have tens of thousands of people in Afghanistan. In due course, it won't have two major bases in the Middle East just 500km apart.

The interesting thing about the shift in economic activity is that the US was once notorious for theft of intellectual property while Europe ruled the roost after the industrial revolution. Now, with China turning out huge numbers of post grads and ramping up its R&D it has, amazingly, taken a much closer interest in IP protection. India will, in due course, do the same. How that plays out between those three will be interesting.
posted by MuffinMan at 9:30 AM on January 27


The one correction that should be made is that it isn't actually the NSA doing this spying. It is the NSA contracting a private company do the spying. On a related note the former BlackWater CEO is now contracting himself out of Hong Kong to run military ops for China in Africa and hates the American government.
posted by srboisvert at 9:31 AM on January 27 [9 favorites]



The interesting thing about the shift in economic activity is that the US was once notorious for theft of intellectual property while Europe ruled the roost after the industrial revolution. Now, with China turning out huge numbers of post grads and ramping up its R&D it has, amazingly, taken a much closer interest in IP protection. India will, in due course, do the same. How that plays out between those three will be interesting.


Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism, says exactly the same thing. Each developed country went through a period of intellectual theft to catch up with the leaders. We did it to Europeans, Japanese to us, Koreans to the Japanese....
posted by KaizenSoze at 9:37 AM on January 27 [1 favorite]


Of course the US spies on other countries and of course we spy on them.

Well somebody just blew his cover.
posted by ODiV at 9:45 AM on January 27


Emerging Role For the C.I.A.: Economic Spy
By DAVID E. SANGER and TIM WEINER (1995)
Spying on allies for economic advantage is a crucial new assignment for the C.I.A. now that American foreign policy is focused on commercial interests abroad. President Clinton made economic intelligence a high priority of his Administration, specifically information to protect and defend American competitiveness, technology and financial security in a world where an economic crisis can spread across global markets in minutes.
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:46 AM on January 27 [1 favorite]


B b b but guys Google stores the information I willingly transmit to them! What a nonsense smokescreen that one is.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 9:46 AM on January 27 [1 favorite]


What Snowden is doing is costing the US (uniquely) diplomatic capital on the world stage by exposing the gap between US rhetoric on leadership and governance and US actions on spying.

No. Berserk American espionage is what's costing the US diplomatic capital. Making it public offers a chance to mitigate that damage by ending the bad behaviour. That's Snowdon's patriotism.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 9:49 AM on January 27 [24 favorites]


Here's an English transcript of the interview, that shouldn't be blocked outside Germany, as further updates seem to say that the Youtube video from the ARD is.

From reading through it, having watched the video, it's accurate to what was said in the interview, if anyone wants specifics of this particular discussion.

General topics are: posted by frimble at 10:10 AM on January 27 [4 favorites]


Also, this copy, from archive.org is the same video that I saw via the NDR website, and I don't think that archive.org is likely to be blocking non-German viewers.
posted by frimble at 10:13 AM on January 27 [4 favorites]


Setec Astronomy yt is on the case!

This movie actually holds up remarkably well. It's too bad that I can't find a clip of the especially relevant part at the end where it's explained that the NSA can't be after the magic code breaking box to spy on the Russians to keep us safe but to spy on the American people and other U.S. Government agencies.
posted by VTX at 10:57 AM on January 27 [1 favorite]


Emerging Role For the C.I.A.: Economic Spy
By DAVID E. SANGER and TIM WEINER (1995)

Spying on allies for economic advantage is a crucial new assignment for the C.I.A. now that American foreign policy is focused on commercial interests abroad. President Clinton made economic intelligence a high priority of his Administration, specifically information to protect and defend American competitiveness, technology and financial security in a world where an economic crisis can spread across global markets in minutes.


Why are you all acting as though The Confessions of an Economic Hitman was not published in print, globally, decades ago?
posted by infini at 11:07 AM on January 27


this is not news. Stuxnet targeted Siemens equipment being used in Iran.
also in "not news" - government funded and sponsored industrial espionage occurring between allied countries.


If most people would be surprised to learn it, then it is NEWS, even if it is not to you.
posted by JHarris at 11:16 AM on January 27 [4 favorites]


The US intelligence services were sorely lacking and openly ridiculed by other countries until the development of the OSS and the direct training provided by British intelligence.

Though we did have such standouts as Herbert Yardley and William Friedman.

(FWIW, a link or two to non US governmental industrial espionage. The Snowden Effect mostly shows what a good poster boy can do for your cause.)
posted by IndigoJones at 11:19 AM on January 27 [1 favorite]


I'd just like to point out that the NSA has hundreds of employees and statistically that means that at least one of those employees is a jackass that runs his mouth.

The jackass in question, who would "love to put a bullet in [Snowden's] head," isn't a NSA man, but a Pentagon official talking to Buzzfeed, of all people talking to all people, and found by adamvasco here. You'd think Pentagon officials would have a bit more discipline than that.

But really, this is still news; if a random person in the U.S. government started talking aloud to a website about, say, the healing power of crack, it would be news. If that person were not then fired, it would be additional news. And somehow, I doubt that Pentagon official is going to get fired for what he said.
posted by JHarris at 11:24 AM on January 27 [1 favorite]


Economic espionage is rife, and always has been. Reverse engineering of hi tech is rife. Counterfeiting is rife. Patent infringement is rife. Compulsory licensing of patents is more of a thing. Protectionism and quasi protectionism (like soft government loans) is getting worse, not better. I hate to sound cynical, but there is no level playing ground. State sponsored meddling and dirty tricks in the apparently free market is the ongoing scourge of the modern global economy.

These are the tools of state and economy building. There is no free market without states, and states have to work to build their economies to the point where they can compete at the research frontier.

In response, already developed countries devise rules (GATT, trade rules, more recently Pacific Rim agreements) and institutions (eg. WTO) to recoup or shield their economic agents from this process : eg. Indian firms are allowed to make life saving treatments for sale at local prices, but aren't allowed to ship their cheaply produced drugs back to the United States.

But don't compare these processes which are necessary for spreading the tools of prosperity to poor countries to electronic warfare. The US went through the same processes, and engaged in the same economic practices to get where it is now.

No. Berserk American espionage is what's costing the US diplomatic capital. Making it public offers a chance to mitigate that damage by ending the bad behaviour. That's Snowdon's patriotism.

Not just diplomatic capital! This costs the US high tech industry ACTUAL SERIOUS MONEY, in the billions of dollars! What European company or individual in their right minds would continue to have their servers or data hosted or stored in the US or UK?
posted by stratastar at 11:42 AM on January 27 [2 favorites]


B b b but guys Google stores the information I willingly transmit to them! What a nonsense smokescreen that one is.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, if anyone is keeping this data I would prefer it was the government rather than a corporation. At least the government is supposed to try and do things in the public's interest.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:44 AM on January 27


I've said it before and I'll say it again, if anyone is keeping this data I would prefer it was the government rather than a corporation. At least the government is supposed to try and do things in the public's interest.

Google cannot put you behind bars for decades if you do something to make them look bad.
posted by anemone of the state at 12:15 PM on January 27 [3 favorites]


Google cannot put you behind bars for decades if you do something to make them look bad.

Neither can the NSA, which is not a law enforcement agency. They would have to provide my data to a LEA for that purpose and that body would have to show both cause for needing the data and prove before a jury that I committed a crime before they could jail me for decades. Contrary to what Alex Jones says, "The Government" is not an entity in itself and does not have FEMA concentration camps waiting for its enemies. Google on the other hand can sell my information to whomever they feel like when they feel like, while the NSA is more likely to use my information in an investigation.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:25 PM on January 27


They would have to provide my data to a LEA for that purpose and that body would have to show both cause for needing the data and prove before a jury that I committed a crime before they could jail me for decades.

Or, they could inform the military that you're suspected of "terrorism," and have you imprisoned indefinitely.
posted by bradf at 12:41 PM on January 27 [5 favorites]


I have some concerns and philosophical disquiet regarding the Google project and similar (generally read Google as synechdoce this comment) but there are very important and qualitative distinctions which make the NSA much worse.

For one thing, Google knows when I visit Metafilter, but only because the administrators have requested I inform Google so statistics may be gathered. I am amenable to this, but were I not, I could have a technological solution in place in literally two clicks (you are probably about ten clicks and the letters g h o s t e r y away from the same). I am confident that Google would no longer learn of my visits to this site except through my public posts or the administrators providing the information independently.

I do think it is unfortunate that browsers generally provide tracking information by default and that many are requesting such information without even providing any useful service like Google does.

The NSA also knows when I visit Metafilter, with no action or response on my part. Thorough technical solutions are difficult and may be beyond my grasp - I think more and better will bubble up over time, but it will take a while.

I do not think Google is spying on congress' communications and getting up to J Edgar fun times. The NSA has admitted (refused to deny) the former, so it is best to assume the latter - even if it's not happening, that the ready potential exists is a problem.

Neither can the NSA, which is not a law enforcement agency. They would have to provide my data to a LEA for that purpose and that body would have to show both cause for needing the data and prove before a jury that I committed a crime before they could jail me for decades.

This is fantasy. NSA is providing data illegally, no warrants, to the DEA, who conduct enough of an investigation to launder it into courtroom acceptability. Jury trials are rather rare today in the American justice system.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 12:49 PM on January 27 [1 favorite]


Or, they could inform the military that you're suspected of "terrorism," and have you imprisoned indefinitely.

Sure, if I were in Afghanistan or Russia or something. It's a little tinfoil hatty to expect them to Guantanamo someone domestically though. Hell, even Dzhokar Tsarnayev is getting a trial. Snowden didn't simply "make them look bad" he stole stuff and one day, if he ever does drop out of the spotlight or try and come back, even he will get a trial.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:57 PM on January 27


Jury trials are rather rare today in the American justice system.

Sure, for the poor and minorities who are usually the target of DEA investigations. But why would the DEA be investigating someone for "making them [the NSA] look bad"?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 1:02 PM on January 27


They wouldn't be... on the surface. But if you embarrassed the NSA about something, it wouldn't be hard for a few additional charges to mysteriously appear if you do get brought into court. Or for you to get brought into court over something that otherwise would appear insignificant.
posted by JHarris at 1:08 PM on January 27


reminding the heavyweights (such as big multi-nationals), that their privacy rights and commercial interests are at stake, too, can have the effect of drawing powerful allies into the debate.

I think the big Multi-Nationals were already well aware of this, and working to use it to advantage wherever possible. Given that, I suspect that the powerful allies being drawn into the debate will have somewhat different goals than you and I might have.

So far this amounts to a sort of trap for Obama - Republicans can accuse him of being soft on terror if he weakens the NSA and of hating America and Freedom if he doesn't.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 1:13 PM on January 27


OK Alex Jones, be careful that don't get us all busted for exposing their secret plans!

Seriously, if I actually did something that embarrased the NSA I would bein the public eye (because otherwise what would embarras an entire government agency) and it would be rather blatantly retaliatory if they brought me to court on trumped up charges. If I disappeared to a secret FEMA death panel camp then it would be even more obvious.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 1:13 PM on January 27


Sure, if I were in Afghanistan or Russia or something. It's a little tinfoil hatty to expect them to Guantanamo someone domestically though.

Well, there was José Padilla. As far as I know, Mefi lawyers help me out here, the Supreme Court never determined if holding him as an enemy combatant was legal or not.

Anyway, since a representative of the intelligence community can apparently freely lie under oath to Congress, tinfoil is hard to criticize. We can't know what we don't know.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:14 PM on January 27 [2 favorites]


...and it would be rather blatantly retaliatory if they brought me to court on trumped up charges.

Would it be that obvious?

I don't think we ever got consensus around here as to whether Assange being wanted for questioning was "blatantly retaliatory" or not. That whole situation seemed to be either obviously trumped up charges as retaliation for the cable leaks or obviously a sexual predator using any excuse possible to flee the consequences of his crimes.
posted by ODiV at 1:21 PM on January 27


...and it would be rather blatantly retaliatory if they brought me to court on trumped up charges.

And...?

A 82-year-old nun cut some fence wire and trespassed on a military facility. They caught her (because she stood there singing until they arrested her) and booked her for trespassing and vandalism, but the story got out that military nuclear facilities were so insecure an elderly nun could waltz into them, military security was a laughing stock, people were furious, and the charges against her grew and grew until this 82-year-old was transformed (on paper) into a violent terrorist, and (In Real Life) imprisoned and facing multiple terrorism charges, and decades behind bars.

Did it matter that it was blatantly retaliatory how they brought her to court on trumped up charges?

Not in the slightest.
posted by anonymisc at 1:50 PM on January 27 [12 favorites]


(She was convicted, her sentencing hearing is tomorrow. More)
posted by anonymisc at 1:57 PM on January 27 [5 favorites]


Or, they could inform the military that you're suspected of "terrorism," and have you imprisoned indefinitely.

Sure, if I were in Afghanistan or Russia or something. It's a little tinfoil hatty to expect them to Guantanamo someone domestically though. Hell, even Dzhokar Tsarnayev is getting a trial. Snowden didn't simply "make them look bad" he stole stuff and one day, if he ever does drop out of the spotlight or try and come back, even he will get a trial.


Wasn't Putin recently voted as the most powerful man in the world?
posted by infini at 2:08 PM on January 27


Every time there is a new Snowden revelation some guy comes along and says "this is not news." As if that made it of no consequence, or as if everyone in the country (or the world) was equally informed about this "not news."

I think we can count on the world's news reporting organizations to determine what is "news" and what is "not news." "Move along, citizen, there is nothing to see here" is getting about as tired as "if you have nothing to hide, citizen, why do you care?" and "you asked to be kept safe, citizen, so this is how we have to do it."

Not news, my ass.
posted by spitbull at 3:26 PM on January 27 [10 favorites]


> the Supreme Court never determined if holding him[José Padilla] as an enemy combatant was legal or not.

Right, dismissed on technicalities and not re-filed: "we hold that Commander Marr, not Secretary Rumsfeld, is Padilla's custodian and the proper respondent to his habeas petition." and "The District of South Carolina, not the Southern District of New York, was the district court in which Padilla should have brought his habeas petition. We therefore reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals and remand the case for entry of an order of dismissal without prejudice."

So, there's no reason to think the govt. wouldn't try it again (put a U.S. citizen, apprehended on U.S. soil, in a military prison and torture him or her).
posted by morganw at 3:32 PM on January 27 [3 favorites]


What Snowden is doing is costing the US (uniquely) diplomatic capital on the world stage

Because, try as they might, our Presidents could never quite spend all the diplomatic capital by themselves.
posted by Twang at 4:44 PM on January 27


It's almost like you just cann't trust a government contractor doing secret work :
DOJ says USIS faked 665,000 background checks   lol
No word yet on whether USIS processed or faked Snowden background check
posted by jeffburdges at 5:14 PM on January 27 [3 favorites]


Fucking Magnets, How Do They Work? (English)
posted by jeffburdges at 5:47 PM on January 27 [3 favorites]


"Fucking Magnets..."
Dear jeffburdges, you are hilarious and thanks!
posted by artof.mulata at 6:14 PM on January 27 [1 favorite]


Open Letter From Security Researchers Explains How NSA Has Weakened Our Communications Infrastructure
posted by homunculus at 11:57 PM on January 27 [2 favorites]


Omnivore: Surveillance without borders
posted by homunculus at 12:44 PM on January 28


WSJ: Taking on the Snowdenistas - The theft and publication of secret U.S. documents is not a heroic campaign.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:41 AM on January 31


Murdoch's slip is showing in the WSJ op eds of late innit?
posted by infini at 10:31 AM on January 31 [2 favorites]


David Cameron: TV crime dramas prove we need mass warrantless electronic surveillance
posted by homunculus at 11:03 AM on January 31 [1 favorite]




Law & Order spans the emergence of the ever-present personal computer, the trajectory from specialized to mainstream internet use,[6] the introduction of laptops and flatscreen monitors, and finally the mass adoption of internet-enabled smartphones. Alongside the actual technology appearing onscreen, the show's content, ranging from casual conversations to crimes and crime-solving, reflects our fascination with and sometimes fears about technologies like BBS systems, email, online dating and social networking, webcams, privacy and hacking, facial recognition, and search engines.

In particular, the show coincides with a major cultural shift: the rise and eventual ubiquity of computers and networked technologies over a crucial 20-year period in technological history.

posted by infini at 11:49 AM on January 31


We're all just going to have to live with this. Its not going away unless one goes to a cottage in the woods somewhere there's no electricity or internet.
posted by infini at 11:51 AM on January 31


I still get cell service at my cabin.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:29 PM on January 31


In particular, the show coincides with a major cultural shift: the rise and eventual ubiquity of computers and networked technologies over a crucial 20-year period in technological history.

Related thread: “Person Of Interest”: The TV Show That Predicted Edward Snowden
posted by homunculus at 1:10 PM on January 31


We're all just going to have to live with this. Its not going away unless one goes to a cottage in the woods somewhere there's no electricity or internet.

I love it when people react to news of bad things with an attitude of: "That's horrible! We'd better start getting used to that! We should allow our fragile human bodies to be buffeted by the ill winds of fortune and the national security apparatus! We are all the NSA's bitch, and by jove I am prepared to enjoy it!"
posted by JHarris at 1:52 PM on January 31 [3 favorites]


NSA Spied on Climate Talks: 'Obama admin. clearly never wanted Copenhagen talks to work,' says Bill McKibben following latest NSA revelations concerning climate talks
posted by homunculus at 5:21 PM on January 31 [1 favorite]


OK I got around to watching the interview on the archive.org link. It was the first time I have seen Snowden on video. Very impressive. I wish I knew the response when Obama and his cronies watched it. Google search on (Obama, comments, Snowden, television, interview) pulls zilch.

"The NSA has never stopped one terrorist attack."
posted by bukvich at 9:51 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]


Night Of First Snowden Story, Streets In Front Of Guardian's NY Office & Home Of Its US Editor Suddenly Dug Up
posted by jeffburdges at 4:17 PM on February 3 [1 favorite]


Schneier column on catalog of snowden revelations has an up-to-date collection of links.
posted by bukvich at 8:25 AM on February 5 [3 favorites]


"The all-seeing eye of the NSA, is being projected onto the Verizon Building in Manhattan tonight."
posted by jeffburdges at 9:13 AM on February 5


The Deteriorating Relationship Between Academics and the NSA

previously :
- An Open Letter from US Researchers in Cryptography and Information Security
- The Electronic Frontier Foundation at the Joint Meetings
posted by jeffburdges at 7:54 AM on February 11


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