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27 Edward Snowden Quotes About U.S. Government Spying That Should Send A Chill Up Your Spine Zero Hedge by Michael Snyder


Submitted by Michael Snyder via The Economic Collapse blog,

Would you be willing to give up what Edward Snowden has given up? He has given up his high paying job, his home, his girlfriend, his family, his future and his freedom just to expose the monolithic spy machinery that the U.S. government has been secretly building to the world. He says that he does not want to live in a world where there isn't any privacy. He says that he does not want to live in a world where everything that he says and does is recorded. Thanks to Snowden, we now know that the U.S. government has been spying on us to a degree that most people would have never even dared to imagine.

Up until now, the general public has known very little about the U.S. government spy grid that knows almost everything about us. But making this information public is going to cost Edward Snowden everything. Essentially, his previous life is now totally over. And if the U.S. government gets their hands on him, he will be very fortunate if he only has to spend the next several decades rotting in some horrible prison somewhere.

There is a reason why government whistleblowers are so rare. And most Americans are so apathetic that they wouldn't even give up watching their favorite television show for a single evening to do something good for society. Most Americans never even try to make a difference because they do not believe that it will benefit them personally. Meanwhile, our society continues to fall apart all around us. Hopefully the great sacrifice that Edward Snowden has made will not be in vain. Hopefully people will carefully consider what he has tried to share with the world.

The following are 27 quotes from Edward Snowden about U.S. government spying that should send a chill up your spine...

#1 "The majority of people in developed countries spend at least some time interacting with the Internet, and Governments are abusing that necessity in secret to extend their powers beyond what is necessary and appropriate."

#2 "...I believe that at this point in history, the greatest danger to our freedom and way of life comes from the reasonable fear of omniscient State powers kept in check by nothing more than policy documents."

#3 "The government has granted itself power it is not entitled to. There is no public oversight. The result is people like myself have the latitude to go further than they are allowed to."

#4 "...I can't in good conscience allow the US government to destroy privacy, internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they're secretly building."

#5 "The NSA has built an infrastructure that allows it to intercept almost everything."

#6 "With this capability, the vast majority of human communications are automatically ingested without targeting. If I wanted to see your e-mails or your wife's phone, all I have to do is use intercepts. I can get your e-mails, passwords, phone records, credit cards."

#7 "Any analyst at any time can target anyone. Any selector, anywhere... I, sitting at my desk, certainly had the authorities to wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant, to a federal judge, to even the President..."

#8 "To do that, the NSA specifically targets the communications of everyone. It ingests them by default. It collects them in its system and it filters them and it analyzes them and it measures them and it stores them for periods of time simply because that's the easiest, most efficient and most valuable way to achieve these ends. So while they may be intending to target someone associated with a foreign government, or someone that they suspect of terrorism, they are collecting YOUR communications to do so."

#9 "I believe that when [senator Ron] Wyden and [senator Mark] Udall asked about the scale of this, they [the NSA] said it did not have the tools to provide an answer. We do have the tools and I have maps showing where people have been scrutinized most. We collect more digital communications from America than we do from the Russians."

#10 "...they are intent on making every conversation and every form of behavior in the world known to them."

#11 "Even if you're not doing anything wrong, you're being watched and recorded.'s getting to the point where you don't have to have done anything wrong, you simply have to eventually fall under suspicion from somebody, even by a wrong call, and then they can use this system to go back in time and scrutinize every decision you've ever made, every friend you've ever discussed something with, and attack you on that basis, to sort of derive suspicion from an innocent life."

#12 "Allowing the U.S. government to intimidate its people with threats of retaliation for revealing wrongdoing is contrary to the public interest."

#13 "Everyone everywhere now understands how bad things have gotten — and they’re talking about it. They have the power to decide for themselves whether they are willing to sacrifice their privacy to the surveillance state."

#14 "I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under."

#15 "I don't want to live in a world where there's no privacy, and therefore no room for intellectual exploration and creativity."

#16 "I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong."

#17 "I had been looking for leaders, but I realized that leadership is about being the first to act."

#18 "There are more important things than money. If I were motivated by money, I could have sold these documents to any number of countries and gotten very rich."

#19 "The great fear that I have regarding the outcome for America of these disclosures is that nothing will change. [People] won't be willing to take the risks necessary to stand up and fight to change things... And in the months ahead, the years ahead, it's only going to get worse. [The NSA will] say that... because of the crisis, the dangers that we face in the world, some new and unpredicted threat, we need more authority, we need more power, and there will be nothing the people can do at that point to oppose it. And it will be turnkey tyranny."

#20 "I will be satisfied if the federation of secret law, unequal pardon and irresistible executive powers that rule the world that I love are revealed even for an instant."

#21 "You can't come up against the world's most powerful intelligence agencies and not accept the risk."

#22 "I know the media likes to personalize political debates, and I know the government will demonize me."

#23 "We have got a CIA station just up the road – the consulate here in Hong Kong – and I am sure they are going to be busy for the next week. And that is a concern I will live with for the rest of my life, however long that happens to be."

#24 "I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions, and that the return of this information to the public marks my end."

#25 "There’s no saving me."

#26 "The only thing I fear is the harmful effects on my family, who I won't be able to help any more. That's what keeps me up at night."

#27 "I do not expect to see home again."

Would you make the same choice that Edward Snowden made? Most Americans would not. One CNN reporter says that he really admires Snowden because he has tried to get insiders to come forward with details about government spying for years, but none of them were ever willing to...

As a digital technology writer, I have had more than one former student and colleague tell me about digital switchers they have serviced through which calls and data are diverted to government servers or the big data algorithms they've written to be used on our e-mails by intelligence agencies. I always begged them to write about it or to let me do so while protecting their identities. They refused to come forward and believed my efforts to shield them would be futile. "I don't want to lose my security clearance. Or my freedom," one told me.

And if the U.S. government has anything to say about it, Snowden is most definitely going to pay for what he has done. In fact, according to the Daily Beast, a directorate known as "the Q Group" is already hunting Snowden down...

The people who began chasing Snowden work for the Associate Directorate for Security and Counterintelligence, according to former U.S. intelligence officers who spoke on condition of anonymity. The directorate, sometimes known as “the Q Group,” is continuing to track Snowden now that he’s outed himself as The Guardian’s source, according to the intelligence officers.

If Snowden is not already under the protection of some foreign government (such as China), it will just be a matter of time before U.S. government agents get him.

And how will they treat him once they find him? Well, one reporter overheard a group of U.S. intelligence officials talking about how Edward Snowden should be "disappeared". The following is from a Daily Mail article that was posted on Monday...

A group of intelligence officials were overheard yesterday discussing how the National Security Agency worker who leaked sensitive documents to a reporter last week should be 'disappeared.'

Foreign policy analyst and editor at large of The Atlantic, Steve Clemons, tweeted about the 'disturbing' conversation after listening in to four men who were sitting near him as he waited for a flight at Washington's Dulles airport.

'In Dulles UAL lounge listening to 4 US intel officials saying loudly leaker & reporter on #NSA stuff should be disappeared recorded a bit,' he tweeted at 8:42 a.m. on Saturday.

According to Clemons, the men had been attending an event hosted by the Intelligence and National Security Alliance.

As an American, I am deeply disturbed that the U.S. government is embarrassing itself in front of the rest of the world like this.

The fact that we are collecting trillions of pieces of information on people all over the planet is a massive embarrassment and the fact that our politicians are defending this practice now that it has been exposed is a massive embarrassment.

If the U.S. government continues to act like a Big Brother police state, then the rest of the world will eventually conclude that is exactly what we are. At that point we become the "bad guy" and we lose all credibility with the rest of the planet.

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[Jul 30, 2017] Snowden dreams about better America

"Aaron Barlow: The Russian hacking nonsense is a tin foil hat conspiracy right up there with Reptilians and Aliens."
Notable quotes:
"... Snowden is a patriot. Only an individual that has integrity can do what Snowden did. He saw something that was wrong and blew the whistle on it, it was as simple as that, he knew the consequences very well. ..."
Feb 15, 2017 |

walter white 3 weeks ago

poor bloke he speaks the truth and ends up in Russia and yet bush et al are free after killing all them people in 9/11 .

Binali Shareef 1 week ago

this guy is smart. well informed, super intellectual capacity. He chooses his words very wisely and well calculated. His interview is brain enlightening.

DMPKillaz 1 week ago

This right here.. is a fucking man... he gave up allllll the high life gave up allllll the money. all the BS to give the people what the fuck they needed to hear

Pyro Falcon 1 week ago

Mr Snowden is the MAN, a true American, and a HERO of the highest order. Thank you Ed.

patia55 2 weeks ago

Never trust Katie Curic

jeffv2074 1 week ago

Snowden is a patriot. Only an individual that has integrity can do what Snowden did. He saw something that was wrong and blew the whistle on it, it was as simple as that, he knew the consequences very well.

Pgs Penang 2 weeks ago

She is anti-trump. She is sent from the elite. She don't give a damn about him. 100% she is untrustworthy. Snowden is a threat to the deep state. Her questions clearly are from the democrats.

itsgoodbeingme 3 weeks ago

From a Brit: - Edward Snowden should be considered a national treasure and guard his liberty.

EarthWatch2014 3 days ago

The "journalist" who is interviewing Edward is a freedom hating, elitist worshipping mainstream media harlot.

Those who are ignorant of history are bound to repeat it. The people who founded this country left Britain due to a corrupt, tyrannical government. The US government is far more corrupt today then England was in the 1700s.

The 4th amendment has been butchered by the tyrannical, elitist dictators who are running this broken country. Today, the mainstream media is firmly controlled by a few, highly deranged elitists who are in league with the rancid, stinking pieces of fecal matter who run the US. The republic that was created by English "traitors" was supposed to be a sanctuary for freedom and human rights. The republic they created is dead and gone. It may look the same on the surface, but this country is much too far gone to ever recover. It never ceases to amaze me just how ignorant of history and the Constitution the average American is. The citizens are ignorant, bordering on stupid.

The evidence is everywhere, yet millions of weak-minded sheeple cannot see what lies directly in front of their eyes. The level of cognitive dissonance displayed by the average American is pitiful, and I will feel no pity when they realize that they were living in a country whose leaders were following the same game plan as Adolph Hitler... to the letter.

People believe that their political party, the party to which they give their allegiance, is the "good" party. Republicans and Democrats are one and the same. The two party system is simply a two headed snake that will lead the US into tyranny. The US is hated around the world because it has assumed the role of the world's arrogant, renegade cop. A country that was not to be "entangled in foreign affairs", now has military bases in nearly every corner of the earth. Those who open their mouths to defend the snakes in power will be taught a great lesson once the elitists' plans come to fruition. It's difficult to feel sorry for the people who believe the endless lies that are spoken by those in power.

These fools won't see the truth until their heads lie under the blade of the guillotine. Anyone who puts security before freedom and privacy deserves to be placed behind concrete walls and barbed wire, where they will remain "safe" from the fictitious enemies who cause them to pathetically cower in fear. The destiny of this country is that of Rome. Unfortunately, the masses do not know or understand the true history of this world. The putrid stench of ignorance covers the majority of the American populous. Snowden exposed the government's evil secrets, helping preserve freedom and liberty in the United States. Those who chastise Snowden deserve what is coming: The death of freedom under the hands of evil tyrants.

berretta9mm1 1 week ago (edited)

Watching Gen. Clapper state, UNDER OATH, that the NSA was not and is not indiscriminately reading, storing, and intercepting the private communications of every American citizen, made me feel physically ill.

The fact that he chose to tell a straight-out lie (in light of the information supplied to us by Edward Snowden, who exposed this illegal and unconstitutional internal spying program) - watching him choose to speak a brazen lie, spoken in complete disregard for his office, the NSA's mandate (and its limits), his military career leading to his appointment as head of the NSA, the Constitutional trust placed in him, and the laws which make a direct lie - under oath - to a Senate Intelligence Committee (composed of the people WE elected to represent us) a FELONY - mean that Gen. CLAPPER should be in prison for Perjury.

This is the applicable Constitutional U.S. Code, section 1621: "ง 1621. Perjury generally: Whoever! (1) having taken an oath before a competent tribunal, officer, or person, in any case in which a law of the United States authorizes an oath to be administered, that he will testify, declare, depose, or certify truly, or that any written testimony, declaration, deposition, or certificate by him subscribed, is true, willfully and contrary to such oath states or subscribes any material matter which he does not believe to be true; or (2) in any declaration, certificate, verification, or statement under penalty of perjury as permitted under section 1746 of title 28, United States Code, willfully subscribes as true any material matter which he does not believe to be true; - is guilty of perjury and shall, except as other-wise expressly provided by law, be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both. This section is applicable whether the statement or subscription is made within or without the United States."

Five years in prison, for lying to Congress about your indiscriminate spying on innocent U.S. citizens, Gen. Clapper, and then your filthy, despicable use of the U.S. Constitution (and our rights to privacy within it), as toilet paper when you lied directly to Senator Ron Wyden @ 61:00 under oath, when he asked "Does the NSA collect ANY type of data - at all - on millions, or hundreds of millions of Americans?" and you answered, with no hesitation or remorse, "No sir," you committed Perjury, by any definition of the above U.S. code.

Attempting to clarify, senator Wyden asked, "It does not?," and you answered, "Not wittingly. There are cases where they might inadvertently collect, but NOT WITTINGLY."

Could the lie have been any more damning, or abhorrent in a supposed Democracy? Is it any wonder why people like Gen. Clapper want Snowden - who PROVED that this was a lie, and exposed a completely illegal and unconstitutional program which Clapper was then in charge of - thrown in prison, and silenced permanently? Trump speaks of "draining the swamp." He could start with the NSA, and all of it's illegal activities, and work his way through every Intelligence Agency and the Military/Industrial Organizations and Corporations which together, represent the greatest threat ever to our liberties and to the Constitution - which is just hanging by a thread because of people and programs like this, and work his way down.

But he won't. Why? Because he, like the rest of us, has seen the Zapruder film. It's much easier - and safer - to kill the messenger. This is what makes Snowden, in today's world, a hero who, unlike the rest of these cowards and traitors, will be remembered well by history - for whatever that is worth to the man now. Thank God there are still people willing to sacrifice "their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor" for the purpose of protecting what remains of the tattered remnants of our Constitutionally-protected freedoms from government, and tyranny.

bluedance lilly 2 weeks ago

The US probably still surveys innocent everyday Americans by the millions. Not to prevent terrorism, but to have political and economic control, as Snowden has said. Watch the movie Snowden. Very enlightening.

Dylan Stone 1 week ago

I really liked this interview, and have much love for my fellow American Edward Snowden. He did the right thing. Whoever posted this video under the title "EDWARD SNOWDEN EXPOSES DONALD TRUMP" is kind of a dumbass. One tiny opinion is not equivalent to an expose', and this had nothing to do with Trump. Quit making click bait asshole

Jamie Brady 1 week ago

have to say .... balls of steal. left his own life behind to let "us" know what its really like. we were not there he was.. i love my country but dont think U.S.A. is not doing these things. First time in my 45 years i question things like this...he makes an amazing point....if someone questions they go to jail. Thats BS. questions make us a better Democracy. A better country...god bless you Edward i hope it works out for you brother.

Jay Bee 1 week ago

SHOCKING - TRUELY SHOCKING HOW UNBELIEVABLE DUMB THIS WOMAN IS. Is she really the best American journalism could send? I have to critisize Snowden too - for once (excuse me Eddy!): Why did he agree to meet such a ridiculous dummy? The interview - at least this dumb gooses part . was bodering on being comical. If Snowden`s intellegence were given the factor 100 - nobody would be able to give this truely uneducated, superficial and naive woman a number higher than room-temperature. In Celsius, that is! Hard to watch and difficult to understand why Snowden agreed to meet a completely shallow elderly Mom!

Jay Bee 1 week ago

SHOCKING - TRUELY SHOCKING HOW UNBELIEVABLE DUMB THIS WOMAN IS. Is she really the best American journalism could send? I have to critisize Snowden too - for once (excuse me Eddy!): Why did he agree to meet such a ridiculous dummy? The interview - at least this dumb gooses part . was bodering on being comical. If Snowden`s intellegence were given the factor 100 - nobody would be able to give this truely uneducated, superficial and naive woman a number higher than room-temperature. In Celsius, that is! Hard to watch and difficult to understand why Snowden agreed to meet a completely shallow elderly Mom!

whitemannativemind 1 week ago

This is a very interesting interview to be sure, and I personally, have great admiration for this man, as I'm sure much of the world does, and all the more so after watching the movie concerning his life in which we see how the CIA made his life a living hell for many years if not a decade or so, and may have even, brought this condition with his seizures and everything, assuming this movie was an accurate portrayal of his life, but there is precious little here about trump.

I was hoping he had some juicy info he was going to share but that does not seem so. Regardless, the man should be pardoned and allowed to get on with his life.

Government must know that it can never be all powerful and do whatever it damn will pleases, at home or abroad either. So for that reason the man is a hero for sure. He says; "we will not torture you." Wow. Not sure if he's joking there or serious but if he's serious then that is extremely disturbing indeed. Respectfully. All My Best. Out.

Gil Rasmussen 2 weeks ago

I used to like Snowden until I heard from his own mouth that he gets money from George Soros

[Mar 13, 2016] Edward Snowden: The Contractor

Jan 26, 2016

Edward Snowden's activities beginning in June of 2013 are very well known-from the first leak of classified information to his stay in Russia. But his motivations, the system vulnerabilities that enabled him to access highly classified information, and his stated goals are continuing points of heated discussion.

Hailed as a hero or decried as a traitor, his actions have reopened the issue of privacy for people and for nations. Dr. Mary Manjikian, Associate Dean of the Robertson School of Government, Regent University, and author of Threat Talk: The Comparative Politics of Internet Addiction will reveal how her research into organizations offers a new way of looking at Snowden and all those leakers/whistleblowers/heroes/ traitors who came before.



[Jun 26, 2015] France Could Offer Asylum To Assange, Snowden by timothy

June 26, 2015 writes:

The Intercept reports that in the aftermath of the NSA's sweeping surveillance of three French presidents, French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira thinks National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange might be allowed to settle in France. Taubira was asked about the NSA's surveillance of three French presidents, disclosed by WikiLeaks this week, and called it an "unspeakable practice."

Taubira's comments echoed those in an editorial in France's leftist newspaper Lib้ration that France should respond to the U.S.'s "contempt" for its allies by giving Edward Snowden asylum.

France would send "a clear and useful message to Washington, by granting this bold whistleblower the asylum to which he is entitled," wrote editor Laurent Joffrin in an angry editorial titled "Un seul geste" - or "A single gesture." (google translate) If Paris offers Snowden asylum, it will be joining several other nations who have done so in the past, including Bolivia, Nicaragua and Venezuela.

However, Snowden is still waiting in Moscow to hear from almost two dozen other countries where he has requested asylum.

I have to work a lot harder in Russia than at NSA – Edward Snowden

May 16, 2015 | RT News

Whistleblower Edward Snowden says he has been working harder and doing more significant things while in exile in Russia than he did while being a contractor for the National Security Agency (NSA).

"The fact is I was getting paid an extraordinary amount of money for very little work [at the NSA] with very little in the way of qualifications," Snowden said via satellite link during an event at Stanford University on Friday.

In Russia, "that's changed significantly," the former NSA contractor, who revealed the agency's vast and controversial surveillance activities in the US and abroad, said.

"I have to work a lot harder to do the same thing. The difference is that, even though I've lost a lot, I have a tremendous sense of satisfaction," the whistleblower said, as cited by Business Insider.

However, he did not reveal exactly what he has been working on, saying that he is the type of person who believes in being judged on the final result.

Snowden also addressed the ethics of whistleblowing, reminding his audience that he never published a single document himself, but always worked alongside journalists.

The involvement of reporters also allowed the employment of a system of checks and balances while making the revelations, he said.

According to the whistleblower, there was no way for him to leak the files to the press anonymously as it could have led to a witch-hunt within the NSA, putting his former colleagues under threat.

"Whistleblowers are elected by circumstance. Nobody self-nominates to be a whistleblower because it's so painful. Your lives are destroyed whether you are right or wrong. This is not something people sign up for," he stressed.

Read more Snowden freed: NYPD releases illegally installed bust for art show

Snowden added that he is neither a hero nor a traitor, but only a man, who reached a critical moment, after which he just couldn't remain silent.

"We all have a limit of injustice, of incivility, of inhumanity in our daily life that we can kind of accept and ignore. We turn our eyes away from the beggar on the street. We also have a breaking point and when people find that, they act," he explained.

"You have to have a greater commitment to justice than a fear of the law," Snowden added.

The comments came a week after a US federal appeals court ruled that the NSA's bulk collection of American citizens' telephone records was illegal.

In a unanimous decision, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York called the bulk phone records collection "unprecedented and unwarranted."

The ruling, which Snowden described as "extraordinarily encouraging," comes as Congress confronts a June 1 deadline to renew a section of the Patriot Act that allows the NSA's bulk data surveillance.

[May 08, 2015] Of Snowden and the NSA, only one has acted unlawfully – and it's not Snowden by James Ball

May 07, 2015 | The Guardian

With the NSA's bulk surveillance ruled illegal, the debate on the Patriot Act should be reinvigorated – with Edward Snowden free to join in

... ... ...

The final debate is one that is unlikely to happen, but should: the US needs to start considering the privacy and freedom of foreigners as well as its own citizens. The US public is rightly concerned about its government spying on them. But citizens of countries around the world, many of them US allies, are also rightly concerned about the US government spying on them.

Considering Americans and foreigners alike in these conversations would be a great moral stance – but pragmatically, it should also help Americans. If the US doesn't care about the privacy of other countries, it shouldn't expect foreign governments to care about US citizens. There's something in this for everyone.

These are the debates we could be having, and should be having. The judiciary has spoken. The legislature is deliberating. The public is debating. And all of it is enabled thanks to information provided by Edward Snowden.

He should be free to join the conversation, in person.

ekkaman -> Kitty Grimnirs 8 May 2015 19:07

Maybe I spoke too soon, funny how two show up to make comments and it is almost word for word the same thing. One takes the Russians are bad okay stance the other that it is real life and he should not mess with the big boys. You guys are so easy to see right through it would make for a good comedy, you can call it "the government troll squad".

GKJamesq -> Isadore Stumrumple 8 May 2015 16:34

If Snowden "did good this time" (albeit "accidentally"), what makes him a "traitor"? Who decides whether he's in fact a traitor? What "whole lot of damage" has he done? What's the evidence for the assertion that he begged China for asylum? And what, exactly, makes him an "apparatchik" as opposed to, say, an IT professional who did work for the US government as a contractor?

GKJamesq -> Isadore Stumrumple 8 May 2015 16:23

DrKropotkin -> Kitty Grimnirs 8 May 2015 16:13

Thomas Drake tried the official channels, please read his story. Also, Hong Kong is not an enemy of the US.

He only ended up in Russia as his passport was revoked while he was in transit.

Daniel Bird -> Isadore Stumrumple 8 May 2015 16:13

NO COUNTRY can have low level apparatchiki determining what is right or wrong in a countries security."

That's the job of other organs of the democracy e.g. Congress, right? Except that NSA director James Clapper lied under oath to congress that NSA weren't collecting data on millions of US citizens.

DrKropotkin -> Isadore Stumrumple 8 May 2015 16:08

The NSA and the politicians who support them have made a mockery of your constitution, they are the traitors. Mr. Snowden has given you the evidence and you turn on him. Please re-read your countries founding document and ask yourself again who needs to go to jail.

NYbill13 8 May 2015 15:36

Catch 22 Again And Again

"Catch 22 says they have a right to do anything we can't stop them from doing." That's how Joseph Heller puts it in his superb comic novel about World War II bomber crews.

And yes, it's a staggering coincidence that Snowden, a gunner on the main character's B-17, is the novel's premiere human sacrifice.

More pertinent to the real Snowden is the warning shouted to the main character, Yossarian, when he goes AWOL. To escape murderous lunatic commanders, Yossarian is prepared to row a rubber dinghy from Italy through the Strait of Gibraltar to Sweden.

As he runs for his raft, his pal cries out, "They'll bend heaven and earth to catch you."

Tragically, Mr. Edward Snowden, they will. Just as tragically, the rest of us probably won't be able to stop them.

Thank you again, Mr. Snowden. No kidding.

George Cantrell 8 May 2015 14:40

As a U$A citizen, I am proud of Edward Snowden and consider him to be a true patriot. I wish more whistle-blowers would come forward with details/proof of illegal/unconstitutional acts being committed by supposedly 'public servants' against private citizens.

Unfortunately, so many of my fellow countrymen have been reduced to fear-mongered bed-wetters who engage in the religion/idolatry of flag worship/ultra-nationalism to the point of where they are blind to the principles/rights our country was founded on.

Isadore Stumrumple -> libbyliberal 8 May 2015 12:57

Are you actually equating the present atmosphere and reality of living in the US as the equivalent of Nazi Germany? If so then you understand neither.

Isadore Stumrumple -> ekkaman 8 May 2015 12:56

Americans feel proud? Last time I checked not everyone approves of his brand of Lone Ranger moralism. He not only outed the NSA, but also stole and shared much more sensitive information with this countries enemies in order to get asylum. That is no hero to any thinking person that really cares about their countries security. Any "good" that he did is far overshadowed by the damage he caused up to and including the lives of agents and operatives throughout the world. This is no game of Risk or cheesy adventure movie, this is deadly serious business.

Isadore Stumrumple -> GKJamesq 8 May 2015 12:52

and what evidence do you have for your assertions?

Isadore Stumrumple 8 May 2015 12:49

I'm relieved to hear that what snowden did was okay. Now every other low level twerp that disagrees with the way that the US keeps itself safe can also defect to another country. That is if they bring loads of other sensitive data to sweeten the pot and ensure that they have a place to lay their heads. Snowden was a traitor, is a traitor and needs to pay for his act of espionage. NO COUNTRY can have low level apparatchiki determining what is right or wrong in a countries security. He accidentally did good this time but also a whole lot of damage. Putin would have had him shot if he was a Russian attempting the same thing and the Chinese, whom he first went begging to for asylum, would have done the same.

NYbill13 8 May 2015 12:03

Let The Experiment Continue, Please

Rule by brute force has been the norm for a long, long time. No quibble there, right?

But during the stifling summer of 1789, a few ex-British colonists met in Philadelphia to codify a new type of government, one run by the people it governed.

Grabbing ideas from Europeans and some long-dead Greeks, those studious, entirely serious young men made impressive progress.

When slavery and obdurate financial power threatened to derail discussion, they were set aside. The colonies had to unite; Great Britain wouldn't be fighting France forever.

I can't think of anything more antithetical to the principles of self-government extolled in that first constitutional convention than today's all-powerful spook agencies.

With limitless finances, impenetrable secrecy and de facto immunity from all laws, they are now high-tech baronies, autonomous, self-isolated and profoundly opposed to popular sovereignty.

If the NSA, CIA or any of America's other spy dynasties had been around in 1787, those brilliant men in buckled shoes and stockings would never have made it home alive.

kalbus -> Kitty Grimnirs 8 May 2015 10:47

Everyone with any kind of heart and soul cares deeply for a good outcome for Mr. Snowden who has risked his life to reveal our fascist-becoming government.

GKJamesq -> Kitty Grimnirs 8 May 2015 10:37

Snowden tried to get the issue raised through the standard channels, with predictable results. As for your allegation that he "headed straight for America's enemies and tried to bargain with them," what evidence do you have?

Lafcadio1944 -> mike miller 8 May 2015 10:08

Snowden will never be allowed back in the USA the Empire will hound him to his grave.

Strong verifiable end to end encryption individually installed and open source. Some methods of protection are already starting to appear and more will come.

libbyliberal -> libbyliberal 8 May 2015 05:33

When I was a little girl and I heard how horrible Hilter was, I asked why people didn't overtake him when he went to sleep.

I was so naive and thought Hitler alone was evil and doing evil things and did not appreciate the massive collusion with his evil of so very many.

All the CRONYISM OF EVIL OF HIS PATRIARCHAL MILITARY AND ENABLING FROM STOCKHOLM SYNDROMED CITIZENRY. Many of the German people were enthralled with him, and convinced themselves his regime of massive evil was serving "exceptional" them as his beloved children

libbyliberal 8 May 2015 05:28

Authoritarian followers insist unethical laws be followed, and conscientious objectors to unethical laws be punished. Too bad these lemmings can't seem to grow a conscience no matter what evidence is presented to them of institutionalized mass murder and criminality. Stockholm syndrome mass pathology.

Aryu Gaetu 8 May 2015 05:20

Based on the premise that everything in the US, especially with politicians, is based on personal greed, if the NSA has the phone records of people, it must have the records of corporations. If the business or any of its officers makes an international call, then they can legally monitor the content of the call. I wonder how many billion$ that is worth to a competitor and if there is just 1 person in the NSA that can't resist that potential windfall from that information.

But, this just scratches the surface of the "Patriot Act". It was a secret set of laws, withheld from the general public. Imagine if everyone knew what is really in it. See…

Will the last person to drop the Constitution into the shredder, please, water the plants and turn out the lights before you leave. Thank you.

Littlemissv 8 May 2015 05:00

The court of appeals judges very deliberately chose not to consider the constitutionality of NSA bulk surveillance programs, as such questions are currently before Congress...

The court simply wimped out. It should ruled them to be unconstitutional and demanded their immediate cessation.

Since the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court appoints the judges on the secret (FISA) court, he is already an accessory before the fact in various constitutional felonies. The Supremes will rubber-stamp NSA, displaying all the wisdom and integrity that they did in Bush v. Gore (2000).

libbyliberal 8 May 2015 02:41

Excellent and inspiring article. Thank you!!

Jeffrey_Harrison -> David Edwards 8 May 2015 02:03

And your inane comment is exactly why governments must not be allowed to just make any old thing secret. They should not be able to make most of what they do make secret, secret.

Martin_C 8 May 2015 01:40

Laws that require the highest scrutiny of all are laws that benefit all politicians and government at the expense of the people they supposedly serve, because the intrinsic protections of the adversarial nature of politics breaks down. Normally, if a right-wing party tries to pass something overly right-wing, the left-wing party kicks up a stink and vice versa. The party opposing the legislation becomes the de facto advocate for the people being cheated, and the debate must then be carried on under the scrutiny of the people.

But when politicians pass legislation that enables all politicians to spy on all citizens, the citizens have no advocate. The pollies are all in on it. We can't even exercise our only faintly effective prerogative of changing our vote, because in this type of law change, all snouts are in the trough.

The Patriot Act was and is terrible legislation. Australia's recently passed East-German-style data retention bill: terrible legislation. Britain's pathetic attempts at forcing encryption keys to be yielded to the government: terrible legislation. No government should have tabula rasa permission to spy on its own citizens. These are our lives they are trying to spy on! We cannot throw that away for the 'safety' of living in a permanent mass surveillance state.

To prevent these dreadful laws being passed requires 1) principled lawmakers who can step away from the feeding trough; 2) vigorous, ethical and independent media; and 3) citizens willing to stand up and demand better from their elected representatives.

[Feb 24, 2015] Edward Snowden I laughed at Oscars 'treason' joke - Nick Gass

Feb 23, 2015 | POLITICO

Edward Snowden says he laughed at Oscar host Neil Patrick Harris' joke at his expense last night, adding that he didn't think it was meant as a political statement.

In a Reddit Ask Me Anything session with "Citizenfour" filmmaker Laura Poitras and journalist Glenn Greenwald, Snowden addressed questions about privacy, surveillance and the documentary's win at last night's Academy Awards ceremony.

"The subject of 'Citizenfour,' Edward Snowden, could not be here for some treason," Harris joked to a nearly silent audience after winners Poitras, Mathilde Bonnefoy and Dirk Wilutzky left the stage with Greenwald and Snowden's girlfriend Lindsay Mills.

"To be honest, I laughed at NPH," Snowden told Reddit users, using an acronym for Neil Patrick Harris. "I don't think it was meant as a political statement, but even if it was, that's not so bad. My perspective is if you're not willing to be called a few names to help out your country, you don't care enough."

[Feb 24, 2015] Edward Snowden Releases Statement Following 'Citizenfour' Oscars Win

The Edward Snowden documentary "Citizenfour" won Best Documentary at the Oscars on Sunday night. Director Laura Poitras accepted the award with Glenn Greenwald and Lindsay Mills, Snowden's girlfriend, by her side.

"The disclosures that Edward Snowden reveals don't only expose a threat to our privacy but to our democracy itself," Poitras said in her acceptance speech. "When the most important decisions being made, affecting all of us, are made in secret, we lose our ability to check the powers that control. Thank you to Edward Snowden, for his courage, and for the many other whistleblowers. I share this with Glenn Greenwald and other journalists who are exposing truth."

The film tells the story of Snowden's 2013 National Security Agency leaks. Poitras traveled to Hong Kong to meet with Snowden. "Citizenfour" analyzed the impact of the surveillance documents he revealed, as well as his role as a public figure threatening to eclipse the story he unmasked.

"When Laura Poitras asked me if she could film our encounters, I was extremely reluctant. I'm grateful that I allowed her to persuade me," Snowden said in a statement released by the American Civil Liberties Union. "The result is a brave and brilliant film that deserves the honor and recognition it has received. My hope is that this award will encourage more people to see the film and be inspired by its message that ordinary citizens, working together, can change the world."

"Citizenfour" beat out "The Salt of the Earth," "Last Days in Vietnam," "Virunga" and "Finding Vivian Maier" for the honor.

See a full list of Oscar winners here.

Makers of Snowden movie Citizenfour sued by ex-oil exec

The Register Forums

The makers of Citizenfour are being sued by a man who claims the Edward Snowden film constitutes a violation of US law and national security.

Destroy All Monsters

Re: This is one of those "Only in America thingies" isn't it?

I wish I could says "yes".

Unfortunately, in the USA, "Omnipotent State" is a Religion for some.

You also find this kind of individual in various other uniform-loving countries, sects, houses for the insane and government buildings.


Re: This is one of those "Only in America thingies" isn't it?

True that in these here Benighted States, anyone can sue anyone for anything. Often that means only extra stress, more crowded court calendars and richer lawyers. In this case, if this guy has standing, I'll eat my hat. (Fortunately, I don't wear one...)


The case for Retroactive birth control

It isn't genetics. Certain people find a relatively simple man and use him as a puppet.

Rich people get used to deference -even servitude. It give them all an unfortunate sense of omnipotence. And every country suffers from the ideals of rich people. Take for example Lord Rothermere, part owner of the Daily Mail in the 1930's. Excusing Nazi treatment of Jews and Hitler and Mussolini's 'petty crimes' in favour of their overall usefulness. That same mind-set wanted the judgement of all those young men who had had to fight the bastards over-ruled when they voted for socialism in the 1940's and kicked out the incumbents.

I have banged this drum before but only because that man's company was salaciously determined to rule the Empire to protect Britain from the British. The USA has had similar devotees such as the cadre behind the Presidunce George the Thicketh. So it is perfectly clear that it isn't genes but money.

Power does indeed corrupt and absolute power has no absolution. It hurts everybody.

Anonymous Coward

Re: Ironic, given the furore over The Interview.

"If he stopped leaking"

AFAIAA Snowden gave *all* the info in one go. It is the journalists that are drip feeding the info to keep it in the headlines.


Re: Ironic, given the furore over The Interview.

"the US kept tabs on the dictators Assad and Putin." And Angela Merkel, David Cameron, in fact, leading political figures in pretty much every country friendly to the US, as well as the citizens and corporations of those countries. So I guess your definition of 'dictator' is everyone except you?


Re: Traitor to the USA (not America)?

"Try criticizing the government, or get in a legal spat with an official while you're there. Because it seems as if you think you're being oppressed, living in the UK."

Sorry but that logic, as old as it is, doesn't work ever.

My headache is not smaller because somebody in Russia has a stronger one. If I am fat then I am not less fat even if somebody in Mexico is fatter. Tell a under payed Britt he is actually well payed as there are people who get less in China. That (lack) of logic is probably from the stone age if not older.

Anonymous Coward

Re: For profit?

> But if so, one wonders when dear Horace will sue Sony, current owners of the James Bond franchise.

If he succeeds in this lawsuit it sets a precedent whereby any film that depicts any form of crime could be considered profiteering from that crime.

Consider how many films that would effect...

Simon Lyon

That would be a little known suburb of Berlin known as "Hollywood" then?

The film was shot in Hong Kong, Western and Eastern Europe incl the UK, Brazil and a few other places. It was edited in, and released from, Berlin - where Laura Poitras now lives since she's gotten fed up with being harassed by US customs every time she flies back to her own country.

This long before she ever met Snowden - she's been targeted by the US government for years due to her habit of throwing light on their warlike activities in film. Which is of course why he chose to contact her.

I've liked every American I've ever met, truly, but it's a country of extremes. And that means that they unfortunately host some of the most idiotic twats on the planet. Case in point.

[Dec 12, 2014] Court rejects attempt to allow Edward Snowden into Germany

Dec 12, 2014 | The Guardian
Attempts by opposition parties in Germany to bring Edward Snowden to Berlin to give evidence about the NSA's operations have been thwarted by the country's highest court.

The Green and Left parties wanted the whistleblower to give evidence in person to a parliamentary committee investigating espionage by the US agency, but Germany's constitutional court ruled against them on Friday.

The government has argued that Snowden's presence in Germany could impair relations with the US and put it under pressure to extradite him.

It has suggested sending the committee – which consists of eight MPs – to interview him in Moscow, where Snowden is living in exile. Snowden has said through a lawyer that he is prepared to speak to the panel only if permitted to do so in Germany.

Opposition MPs have been vocal about their wish for Snowden to be granted asylum in Germany, where anger towards the NSA and sympathy for the whistleblower has been particularly high.

If Snowden were to be allowed to enter Germany, the clamour for him to be able to stay would be strong and resistance from the government would be likely to be met with civil unrest.

Support for Snowden in Germany reached a peak after allegations came to light that Angela Merkel's phone was bugged. But Germany's top public prosecutor announced this week that an investigation had so far failed to find any firm evidence for the claim.

Harald Range, who launched an investigation in June, did not rule out that it could be true, but said: "The document presented in public as proof of an authentic tapping of the mobile is not an authentic surveillance order by the NSA. There is no proof right now that could lead to charges that Chancellor Merkel's phone connection data was collected or her calls tapped."

Range said the investigation would continue. He said that neither Snowden, the reporter for Spiegel magazine who was in possession of a document that appeared to be evidence of tapping, nor Germany's foreign intelligence agency, the BND, had presented him with any other details.

The affair caused considerable tension between Berlin and Washington. German attempts to secure a no-spying agreement with the US were unsuccessful. Washington did not seek to deny the charges and assured Merkel that it would not tap her phone in future.

[Sep 24, 2014] Right Livelihood Award to Snowden

Moscow-exiled US whistleblower Edward Snowden and British Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger are to receive the Right Livelihood Award. They're among five persons awarded Sweden's "alternative Nobel prize."

The Stockholm-based Right Livelihood Award Foundation on Wednesday praised Snowden, a former US intelligence agent, for "revealing the unprecedented extent of state surveillance."

It said Rusbridger, the editor in chief of Britain's The Guardian newspaper, also won the award for "responsible journalism in the public interest.

"None of them could have done what they did without the other, " said foundation director Ole von Uexkull.

The announcement, originally set for Thursday, was brought forward, after a leak by Swedish broadcaster SVT.

Foundation denied access

Von Uexkull, the nephew of Jacob von Uexkull who founded the prize in 1980, said all winners had been invited to a December 1 award ceremony in Stockholm.

Discussions on "potential" travel arrangements for Snowden, who remains exiled in Russia, would be held with the Swedish government, von Uexkull said.

He added that the foundation had been denied access to the Swedish foreign ministry's media room, where award ceremonies have been held since 1995.

Three other winners

Snowden, who is wanted by the US for exposing mass data collection by the US National Security Agency (NSA) and Rusbridger are honorary winners, meaning they will not receive the award's customary 500,000 kronor (54,500 euros).

The other three prize winners, named to receive the monetary award, are Pakistani human rights lawyer Asma Jahanger, Sri Lankan rights activist Basil Fernando and US environmentalist Bill McKibbben.

Jahanger is a human rights lawyer who has defended women, children, religious minorities and the poor in Pakistan, the award citation said.

Fernando, originally from Sri Lanka, led the Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission for nearly two decades and now serves as its director of policy and programs.

McKibben is founder of, a grass-roots environmental movement aimed at spurring action to fight climate change.

lpj/kms (dpa, AFP, AP)

[Sep 23, 2014] Edward Snowden Sfido il Grande Fratello

Edward Snowden answers the questions of "L'Espresso" from his refuge in Russia, the country which has granted temporary asylum. It is easy to say "Do not give up". But it is an illusion. He does not think that it will be an easy path to put a brakes on the NSA spying: "The defenders of the state of surveillance in the Washington Congress will never give up on their own initiative a program if they believe that this gives them an advantage. They will not do so even if the program violates the Constitution"

... ... ...

The problem is how to defeat a technological Leviathan that now operates for more then a decade: how nuclear weapons systems for the global control can be dismantled and removed. A government will never give up such sophisticated instruments, in which it has invested colossal sums. Snowden agrees, but also thinks that "the surveillance is not like nuclear weapons, because it can be fought directly and even with modest financial resources, using technology which is completely free." He does not go into detail about exactly which technologies will help to overcome the mass surveillance, but most times he has spoken publicly about it is the encryption is the key to protect your privacy in the era of total control, the same technology which was entrusted to deliver his secrets.

Yet despite the scandal raised by his revelations, after a year still has not arrived to concrete reforms. "It's an important moment for reform," he replies, "but today it seems clear that the only court that has tried to tackle seriously the problem is that of European Court of Justice ." Which "invalidated" the EU directive requiring telecommunications companies to retain for two years the telephone traffic data and Internet for all citizens, without discrimination. This was an important ruling, but two months after the decision of the judges of Strasbourg, it is still unclear to what extent the European states will really appreciate it. Faced with this uncertainty and inaction, however, Snowden cautions that "if governments fail to protect the rights of citizens, they will lose much more than they earn." He adds: "When people lose trust in authority, they have a tendency to create their own solutions." How? Once again refers to the ability to protect privacy through encryption mechanisms, "strengthening our rights through the higher laws of science and technology."

How this situation can be challenged? Based on his experience in the most powerful intelligence apparatus in the world, he believes that in the future the network will become a tool to strengthen democracy or a system of absolutism, the enabler of new forms of tyranny

"It depends on us. Internet is an extraordinary power amplifier, but amplifies both the power of individuals and the States. Strengthening of the super-states, already-powerful and ultra-organized, has restricted the domain of our freedoms seriously, because such states already had much more power than any single individual, "he says," but if we consider the aggregate power of the community civilians that are formed on the Internet for solidarity with a cause, without national barriers - a digital community than never before had existed in history - there is reason for hope. The states are powerful, but this united community is even stronger and the potential energy of a global technical community, organized but without national borders, also makes even the most powerful States feel isolated and vulnerable. "

In the USA, something similar is happening. A nation has to face the strong mobilization of the entire world public opinion, outraged by the revelations of mass espionage : a spontaneous protest, which did not need the stimulus of political parties, lobby or traditional movements. And that has prompted governments such as Germany to take tougher positions against Washington. One of the issues advanced by the defenders global intelligence that has been repeated very often: the United States does neither more nor less then Russia and China. "The Russians, the Chinese, and every other nation that we consider in the "naughty list" can only dream about the capabilities of the NSA, unable to spend seventy-five billion dollars a year for intelligence programs," says Snowden, "I think it is reasonable to say that the United States is, in some key aspects, guided by the best intentions, but we Americans have lost our way in setting national policy.

Mass surveillance of entire countries and people who are not suspected of any crime or illegality is a clear violation of human rights and should never have been authorized. The government itself recognizes this, having freely signed up to Article 12 of the Declaration of Human Rights, which prohibits this type of arbitrary interference in our private lives. "

The interview with Snowden closes with a reflection on the organization that saved him: WikiLeaks. "They are absolutely fearless in putting principles above politics. WikiLeaks, by the mere fact of its existence, has hardened the backbone of institutions in many countries, because the editors of the newspaper knows that if you are intimidated and do not publish a story important but controversial, then you are likely to end up burned by a global alternative individual national newspapers (that is WikiLeaks, ed.) Our policies may be different, but their efforts to build a culture without boundaries of transparency and the protection of sources are extraordinary: they take the biggest risk. And in a time when government control on information can be ruthless, I think they represent a vital example of how to preserve the old freedoms in new age "

[Jun 21, 2014] Snowden gets German Fritz Bauer award for exposing US intelligence

RT News

Last summer, Snowden had already secured the recognition of the German advocates, receiving the 2013 Whistleblower Award. And in October, a group of US whistleblowers presented Snowden with the Sam Adams Award for 'Integrity in Intelligence' during a secret meetingin Moscow.

READ MORE: 'Courage is contagious': Whistleblowing Fantastic Four talk 'Snowden effect' on RT

The 31-year-old, who has been living in Russia for almost a year after being granted asylum from US prosecution, is a key figure in the ongoing German probe into NSA spy scandal that monitored millions of Germans and its Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Members of the German legislative committee, appointed to investigate the NSA's snooping of Chancellor Merkel's phone, were planning to visit Moscow to meet the whistleblower.

Snowden earlier claimed that he is ready to testify about American wrongdoings and has even sent a letter to the German authorities, requesting a meeting. However, he has reportedly turned down the offer to meet German MPs in Russia. His lawyer Wolfgang Kaleck said Snowden believes at this point there is "no room or need for an oral, 'informal' meeting in Moscow" and that substantial testimony would only be possible in Germany.

Recent reports suggest that Germany has become one of the National Security Agency's most important centers for data collection and surveillance operations in Europe.

The rejection may come as a temporary relief to the German government, which warned the committee that Snowden's testimony might cause "negative consequences" on Germany's relations and cooperation with the US.

[Jun 06, 2014] NSA Inside the FIVE-EYED VAMPIRE SQUID of the INTERNET

The Register Forums
Snowden Anniversary One year after The Guardian opened up the trove of top secret American and British documents leaked by former National Security Agency (NSA) sysadmin Edward J Snowden, the world of data security and personal information safety has been turned on its head.

Everything about the safety of the internet as a common communication medium has been shown to be broken. As with the banking disasters of 2008, the crisis and damage created - not by Snowden and his helpers, but by the unregulated and unrestrained conduct the leaked documents have exposed - will last for years if not decades.

Compounding the problem is the covert network of subornment and control that agencies and collaborators working with the NSA are now revealed to have created in communications and computer security organisations and companies around the globe.

The NSA's explicit objective is to weaken the security of the entire physical fabric of the net. One of its declared goals is to "shape the worldwide commercial cryptography market to make it more tractable to advanced cryptanalytic capabilities being developed by the NSA", according to top secret documents provided by Snowden.

Profiling the global machinations of merchant bank Goldman Sachs in Rolling Stone in 2009, journalist Matt Taibbi famously characterized them as operating "everywhere ... a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money".

The NSA, with its English-speaking "Five Eyes" partners (the relevant agencies of the UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand and Canada) and a hitherto unknown secret network of corporate and government partners, has been revealed to be a similar creature. The Snowden documents chart communications funnels, taps, probes, "collection systems" and malware "implants" everywhere, jammed into data networks and tapped into cables or onto satellites.

The evidence Snowden has provided, by the bucketload, has shown that no country, no network, no communications system, no type of communication has been too small or trivial or irrelevant to attract attention and the ingestion of data into huge and enduring archives - under construction at NSA headquarters and already in operation at its new Utah Data Center.

Operations have ranged from the systematic recording of every mobile telephone call in the tiny 380,000 population Bahamas, through Angry Birds, World of Warcraft, Second Life, intimate Yahoo webcam images and direct cyber attacks on the data centre networks of Google (carried out by British allies at GCHQ from bases in the UK). Under the covernames of WINDSTOP and MUSCULAR, GCHQ data from UK cable taps, including direct intercepts of US email providers and ISPs, is provided wholesale to NSA. NSA has also deployed two overseas Remote Operations centres for malware management at Menwith Hill Station in Yorkshire and at Misawa, Japan.

There are parallels to the banking world, too, in the pervasive and longstanding networks of influence that have been created with the aim of influencing and controlling policymakers, and which have assured minimal political change when damage is done. Merchant banks like Goldmans have long worked hard to have their alumni in positions of political power and influence, in control at vital times.

Last month, accompanying his new book Nowhere to Hide, journalist Glenn Greenwald has published 180 new Snowden documents that lay out the NSA's global reach - 33 "Third Party" countries, 20 major access "choke points" accessing optical fibre communications, 80 "strategic partner" commercial manufacturers, 52 US, UK and overseas satellite interception sites, more than 80 US Embassies and diplomatic sites hosting floors packed with surveillance and monitoring equipment, and over 50,000 "implants" - malware and tampered hardware that has rendered most commercial VPN systems and software transparent to the NSA and its partners.

In GCHQ and NSA Sigint (signals-intelligence) jargon, common or garden "hacking" is never talked about: the insider term for such activity is "CNE" - Computer Network Exploitation.

NSA's access to optical fibre cables worldwide can be "covert, clandestine or co-operative," according to one of the leaked slides. The covert operations described in the Snowden documents include secret taps on other companies' cables installed by employees of such firms as AT&T and BT.

The published Snowden documents have not yet described NSA's special activities to get into cables even their overseas and corporate partners cannot access. For more than ten years, an adapted nuclear submarine - the USS Jimmy Carter - has installed underwater taps on marine cables, "lifting them up", installing taps and then laying out "backhaul" fibres to interception sites, according to a former Sigint employee. Cable companies have speculated that the submarine tapping activity may be connected to a rash of unexplained cable cuts in recent times affecting fibre cables in the Middle East and South Asia; the cable breaks could serve to prevent operators noticing as taps were installed elsewhere on the same cable.

One previously unrevealed outstation of Britain's secret internet tapping programme has been operating for almost five years in the autocratic Persian gulf state of Oman, according to documents obtained by Snowden in Hawaii. The station, known as Overseas Processing Centre 1 (OPC-1) is part of GCHQ's massive ฃ1bn project TEMPORA, which GCHQ wants to use to harvest all internet communications it can access and hold that data for up to 30 days.

This is not an Orwellian act (meaning, yes, of course, it is)

The damage created to IT security is deliberate, sustained and protected even inside the agencies' compartmented planning cells by arcane contrivances of language. Breaking the safety and value of crypto systems, in sigint speak, is "enabling". Deliberately sabotaging security, in the inverted Orwellian world of the sigint agencies is said to be "improving security".

According to the leaked, detailed current US intelligence budget provided by Snowden, NSA's "Sigint Enabling Project ... actively engages the US and Foreign IT industries to covertly influence and/or overtly leverage their commercial products' designs. These design changes make the systems in question exploitable through SIGINT collection ... with foreknowledge of the modification. To the consumer and other adversaries, however, the systems' security remains intact."

Despite apologists' denials, the language of this major US government document is unambiguous in describing broken crypto and hardware and software "backdoors" as a much-desired NSA goal.

NSA strategic partnerships

More than 80 companies supporting both missions

Tricking a company like RSA Security into promoting backdoored and sabotaged algorithms for default use in security products is "enabling". Physically sabotaging Cisco routers while they are being shipped out of the US to commercial customers - a serious crime when committed by anyone but the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the NSA - is "enabling".

Ensuring that communications security encryption chips "used in Virtual Private Networks and Web encryption devices" secretly ship with their security broken open, as specified in the current US "cryptologic capabilities plan", is "enabling". In the coming year, NSA's budget for such Sigint "enabling" is $255m.

Who plays in this corporate "enabling" game?

Since the days of Watergate in the 1970s, and the subsequent US Congressional investigations, AT&T - the world's 23rd largest company - has been identified as providing US government access to all its customers' communications passing in and out of the US. The intercepted communications passed on long ago included communications of 1960s US antiwar dissidents.

AT&T's secret role intercepting Americans' communications in a programme dubbed SHAMROCK was flushed out by Congressional enquiries in 1975, and largely stopped as illegal - for a few years. But it all began again in 1978 when a new US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was passed. SHAMROCK was reborn, the Snowden archive reveals, as BLARNEY. In the bizarre and boastful world of show-off Powerpoints that NSA geeks prepare for their colleagues, BLARNEY even has its own logo.

The identity of NSA's and GCHQ's corporate industrial and international partners are amongst the Sigint agencies' most closely guarded secrets. There are strict internal prohibitions in the US and the UK against revealing the true corporate identities behind covernames like FAIRVIEW or STORMBREW, both identified as providing "upstream" (meaning fibre cable tap) access to Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, and many other companies' internet communications.

More than once, the Snowden documents have revealed that siginters' NSA braggadocio can let cover slip. Among the new Snowden documents published last month by Greenwald is a potentially devastating slide listing NSA commercial "Strategic Partnerships".

The slide displays, with corporate logos, the names of major US IT companies who are listed under NSA's vaunted "alliances with over 80 Major Global Corporations". The companies identified are said to be "supporting both missions": that is, both Sigint attacks on global communications networks, and the more acceptable public face of collaboration - cyber defence activity.

The roll call of names and logos on the slide include most of the US's IT industry giants: Microsoft, HP, Cisco, IBM, Qualcomm, Intel, Motorola, Qwest, AT&T, Verizon, Oracle and EDS.

This document and many more like it shine a spotlight on the invidious position in which major US corporations have found themselves. Their trust has been compromised, with share valuations now tumbling to follow. Cisco, despite being reported as "supporting missions" in the classified slides, was reportedly devastated when last month Greenwald published photographs taken by NSA's hacking department of "interdicted" Cisco equipment, stolen in transit and then put back in the delivery system after being tampered with to open the kit up for NSA remote control.

The US corporations have also helped spy on their communications partners, both overtly and covertly, according to the documents. FAIRVIEW, a corporate partner "with access to int. cables, routers, switches", according to one recently published note "operates in the US, but has access to information that transits the nation and through its corporate relationships provides unique accesses to other telecoms and ISPs".

It is also "aggressively involved in shaping traffic to run signals of interest past our monitors". For these and other services, according to the classified US Intelligence budget leaked by Snowden to the Washington Post, FAIRVIEW will receive $95m from NSA in the current year.

Get paid to play: cash, technology - whadda you want?

According to another slide Greenwald has published this month, STORMBREW operates seven "choke points" on international communications on the US eastern and western seaboards, each covernamed for leading US ski resorts.

FAIRVIEW and STORMBREW are the covernames for the US's communications giants, AT&T and Verizon. In the UK, BT (GCHQ covername "REMEDY") and Verizon/Vodafone (GCHQ covername "GERONTIC") are described as actively intercepting their own and other companies' fibre networks, and linking them to GCHQ's processing sites at Cheltenham and Bude, Cornwall. BT and Verizon are also lavishly remunerated by GCHQ for their work in providing access to communications links in the UK, receiving payments of tens of millions of pounds annually, according to documents copied by Snowden.

In one of the most alarming slideshows, NSA's successes in smashing basic general internet cryptography security is described in classic style as "improving security". NSA's project BULLRUN was described thus:

For the past decade, NSA has led an aggressive, multipronged effort to break widely used Internet encryption technologies ... Cryptanalytic capabilities are now coming online. Vast amounts of encrypted Internet data which have up till now been discarded are now exploitable. Major new processing systems ... must be put in place to capitalise on this opportunity.

Listeners at this talk were also warned that the "groundbreaking capabilities" were "extremely fragile ... do not ask about or speculate on sources or methods". "Indoctrination" - special security briefings and signing new warnings - was required for access to information about how BULLRUN techniques work.

In the creation of such arcane rituals of access to sacred secrets that no-one may know and to the power they are believed to bestow, working life inside Sigint communities can seem to resemble nothing so much as the medieval churches. Like Latin chanted by medieval priests, NSA and GCHQ's extraordinary lexicons of "covernames" revealed by Snowden are all in fact unclassified - even BULLRUN. The ordinary mortal may hear them, but must never know their meanings, which are protected behind layers of secrecy beyond Top Secret: in the US, ECI for Extremely Compartmented Information, in the UK, STRAP 1, STRAP 2 or STRAP 3.

In another Snowden document prepared by NSA's Cryptanalysis and Exploitation Services unit in 2010, Project BULLRUN is described as involving "multiple sources, all of which are extremely sensitive. They include CNE [Computer Network Exploitation], interdiction, industry relationships, collaboration with other IC [Intelligence Community] entities, and advanced mathematical techniques".

The covert nature of NSA's relationships and their power to influence policy and compromise internet security technologies was unguardedly summarised in a chatty top secret blog provided by NSA's Foreign Affairs Directorate in 2009 and leaked by Snowden.

"What are we after with our third party relationships?" asked the spies.

In summary, the answer is that they get to wiretap their own countries and their neighbours, places to which NSA and GCHQ otherwise could not legally reach.

Approved SIGINT partners

Approved third parties with four of the Five Eyes and others

In return, collaborating allies may get high tech toys to impress their own masters - and better ones if they are willing to break rules or laws. According to the Foreign Affairs Directorate blog:

"NSA might be willing to share advanced technologies in return for that partner's willingness to do something politically risky."

The Third Party relationships with other nations' spooks and/or secret police are often kept secret even from the foreign governments in question, according to the blog:

"In many of our foreign partners' capitals, few senior officials outside of the defence-intelligence apparatuses are witting to any SIGINT connection to the USA/NSA."

Documents provided by Snowden show that GCHQ particularly prizes the data they get from Sweden, Israel and India.

A year past the first revelations, the US has begun a debate, as Snowden hoped, and changes and restrictions affecting American citizens' communications have started. But for foreigners, there is nothing. In the UK and across Europe, there has been much anger but little change. The new Snowden documents provide some of the answer, showing that virtually every EU member state has a covert surveillance "Sigint Exchange Agreement" with NSA. None of these agreements have been reported to or agreed by national parliaments.

The only European countries apparently not signed up to help break the internet are Luxembourg, Switzerland, Monaco, and Ireland. And Iceland.

That is the reach of the embrace of the internet's vampire squid. ฎ


> Anonymous Coward

Re: Simple Counter-Measure

YES, traffic dilution is one of the only available legal anti-5-eyes strategy (not that I'm completely anti 5-eyes, I'd just like to join-in the privacy/security balance debate, whilst that is still allowed)

So - DO: widely share implausible Main Stream Media stories about ex-MI6 5-eye activist having affair with ex-TV-glamour-lady such as [DailyMail] you couldn't make this up!

and DONT encrypt using FAIL'ed algo's

Anonymous Coward

Re: Simple Counter-Measure

A widespread smattering of TOR can't hurt either. Especially if used for those things you're not really interested in or trying to keep secret... like FB

"what sweden has to offer the US"

Which is the central plot point of the Larsson books - in which (spoiler alert) the Swedish security agency has one Russian defector whose information they can trade with the US, and proceed to commit a series of murders and illegal imprisonments in order to protect their source. I thought when I read it that it was rather far-fetched, but since then it's dawned on me that our "security services" are indeed mainly concerned with their own jobs and power, and any real involvement in actual national security is presumably just enough to persuade the politicians that they are getting value for money.
Anonymous Coward

Not just Russia.

Sizable chunks of European data are deliberately routed through Sweden giving plausible deniability to the the telcos in the originating countries.

Lapun Mankimasta

Re: "what sweden has to offer the US"

"the Swedish security agency has one Russian defector whose information they can trade with the US"

Every time I see the word "defector" I find myself substituting "defecator". It seems to fit with the sh*tload of garbage certain Iraqis fed everybody prior to the last imperial cockup in Iraq, of just a decade or so ago.


Bronze badge Lets not forget who is to blame

It is easy to characterize the NSA and GCHQ as some sort or Orwellian super power out of control targeting at removing our freedoms. But actually they are more an expression of our fears and anxieties. The reason these programs were setup in the 1st place was because we the people demanded it after events like 9/11 and 7/7 when it became clear that organisations like al-qaeda were using things like the internet to co-ordinate their followers. After 9/11 questions were asked why the CIA, NSA FBI etc did not see it coming and the answer was because they did not have the capabilities to monitor mass communication. So they built it.

Now you could argue that they went way over there brief, but that is fault with the oversight not the organisations themselves. Then again with the fear and paranoia following those events it would be a brave politician who would put their career on the line who would limit powers which might stop the next 9/11. We also would be clamoring to now why our security services had let us down if another event like that happened.

In a naive world populated by Edward Snowdens, the transgressions look inexcusable, but in the real world these organisations daily stop us getting killed or injured by the forces out there. The question therefore is not whether these powers should exist, but how they are overseen, the range of their use, and when they should be used.

Silver badge

People did not "demand" this

Politicians were (and still are) deathly afraid of getting blamed for making a wrong decision, and trying to make us safer is seen as the "safest" political choice, so they can claim they did something.

Look at the Benghazi situation, and how much worry (granted mostly partisan) there is over a handful of deaths (not to dismiss them, but it hardly compares to 9/11) Imagine what would have happened to Bush if there had been another big attack several years after 9/11, or to Obama if there had been/will be another during his administration?

They keep these programs secret because if there's a big attack, they can release some details and say "look at everything we've been doing, but even then the terrorists got around it, its not our fault!"

Lapun Mankimasta

Re: Lets not forget who is to blame

"It is easy to characterize the NSA and GCHQ as some sort or Orwellian super power out of control targeting at removing our freedoms."

Such as the right to anonymously support political parties, candidates, positions, etc, which are usually out-of-favour with the party in power? Unless of course you can buy the watchers off, in which case the only political and civil rights left belong to the rich.

"But actually they are more an expression of our fears and anxieties."

Fears and anxieties that have been deliberately fostered and developed over the past half-century, based as it happens on a set of fears and anxieties that have been fostered for over a millenium in Western Europe. I don't like being manipulated, sorry.

"The reason these programs were setup in the 1st place was because we the people demanded it after events like 9/11 and 7/7 when it became clear that organisations like al-qaeda were using things like the internet to co-ordinate their followers.:

Did we? I don't remember being asked, at any point. And I certainly didn't express any such wish to be surveilled a la the KGB, the Stasi, and the various forms of uselessness that permitted the likes of the French Revolution to occur.

"After 9/11 questions were asked why the CIA, NSA FBI etc did not see it coming and the answer was because they did not have the capabilities to monitor mass communication. So they built it."

When in truth they had been keeping an eye on Al Qaeda for a fair few years. They just did not have the elementary HUMINT to understand Al Qaeda. Which they still don't. The "non-intervening" intervention in Libya has spread Al Qaeda affiliates all across North Africa - someone everybody else at the time could see. Just not the doofuses in charge.

"Now you could argue that they went way over there brief, but that is fault with the oversight not the organisations themselves."

When you have an organization tasked with two completely self-contradictory tasks - the NSA - namely securing the networks, and breaking the networks, that line of reasoning shows up as just an empty excuse.

"Then again with the fear and paranoia following those events it would be a brave politician who would put their career on the line who would limit powers which might stop the next 9/11."

Why are we paranoid? Paranoia's a medical condition, in case you were unaware, and paranoid schizophrenia - where the brain disconnects from its environment and sees threats everywhere - is one of the more dangerous of the mental illnesses. If we as a group of people are paranoid enough, then we should undergo a medical examination and probably, undergo a course of medication.

"We also would be clamoring to now why our security services had let us down if another event like that happened."

We are clamouring to find out why our security services now consider everybody to be guilty. Or at least I am.

"In a naive world populated by Edward Snowdens, the transgressions look inexcusable, but in the real world these organisations daily stop us getting killed or injured by the forces out there."

Or rather, they set up policies and environments that we understand only too well, are precursors to repression.

"The question therefore is not whether these powers should exist, but how they are overseen, the range of their use, and when they should be used."

Let me tell you about the lady who rode a tiger. A very exciting ride, but she could never sleep and she could never dismount. The price of freedom is eternal vigilance. Evidently since we're not paying such a price, we don't have freedom, only a simulcra of it.

Anonymous Coward

Re: "Menwith Hill was being used to monitor trans-Atlantic traffic *decades* before 9/11"

Many thanks for the correction.


Black Helicopters


Ah sure Ireland is safe from all that... If the country had strong trade ties with the UK, some form of historical dissidence within its population or was hosting several US IT multinationals then yeah I would be concerned.

Hang on...


"The only European countries apparently not signed up to help break the internet are Luxembourg, Switzerland, Monaco, and Ireland. And Iceland."

Well I'd imagine Ireland has nothing to offer which the NSA can't already get from either the UK or a multinational. Otherwise we'd be eagerly bent over the desk with the rest of them.



A word that *so* desperately wants to be paired with "Act"

The third word :( -->

Anonymous Coward

Re: "Enabling"

Possibly tangential - but a certain "Enabling Act" was passed by a democratic political elite with the best of intentions. Purely intended as a precautionary contingency against extremists' disruption. The extremists then formed a minority in a coalition government - and their leader invoked the Enabling Act to rule by his dictatorial decree. The rest - as they say - is history. Very bloody history.

Jim 59


Yes, it is a personal outrage that the NSA/GCHQ is spying on you.

Unfortunately, the techniques you and I use to keep our secrets (encryption) are the same techniques used by those who would plan your demise. So there is a problem - how to break one while respecting the other ? It can't be done. There is no way of intercepting (say) an email from Boko Haram giving the location of the Nigerian girls, without intercepting everybody else's email as well.

Can anybody suggest a way of spying on baddies while not looking over goodies' shoulders too ?


Re: Lets not forget who is to blame

"...the transgressions look inexcusable..."

That's probably because they are.

Anonymous Coward

Re: Lets not forget who is to blame

Menwith Hill was being used to monitor trans-Atlantic traffic years before 9/11

James Micallef
Re: Simple Counter-Measure

"design bots to generate yottabytes of garbage for topics you're not really interested in"

So that explains all the cats, then!


Re: Outrage

Yes. Good old-fashioned human intel.

The alternative - what we have at present - is far, far too amenable to misuse, however benign the proclaimed intentions, however laudable the alleged purposes.

Intelligence work has to be based on capabilities - what your adversary CAN do to you, not what you think they WANT to do to you. And it's very clear, the security state has become the adversary here, and what they CAN do to ALL of us has gone so far over the line that the line is now a dot on the horizon.

"1984 was a WARNING, not a bloody INSTRUCTION MANUAL!"

Chris G

Re: Outrage

In 1973 I passed by the Old Bailey bomb about 15 minutes before it went off, I also worked for a Daily Newspaper in the early '70s that was outspoken against the IRA, we received bomb threats on an almost daily basis, some real some not.

Nobody I worked with was particularly fazed by them just took sensible precautions.

I also served with the British Army at a time when the Red Brigade and the Bader Meinhoff group were running around .

Not then nor at any time since would I agree to our government or any other having the carte blanche right to spy on all of us in the hope that they could thereby catch a few discontents. If the intelligence services (or you) really believe they can win the so called war against terrorism by such methods, they have become such lard arsed, lazy fools that the whole thing should be disbanded and started again.

Any serious terrorist is not going to be using any communications that can be hacked, tapped or otherwise easily intercepted, the old fashioned field craft practiced during the cold war using cells and dead letter boxes worked then and arguably ( given the ridiculous levels of electronic interception and the reliance thereupon) works as well or better now.

Benjamin Franklin wrote this in 1755, it still has as much value today:

They who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.

[Jun 05, 2014] From 'Truth is coming' to 'Merkel Effect' Top 13 Snowden quotes on NSA

June 05, 2014 | RT News

NSA leaks

While the files exposing limitless global NSA spying speak for themselves, the man behind the leaks has also had much to say. One year after his first leaks were published, RT picks some of the standout quotes from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

'The NSA has built an infrastructure that allows it to intercept almost everything'

In June 2013, Snowden revealed to the world that the US National Security Agency (NSA) has been using a sophisticated and warrantless web surveillance system to gather and analyze Americans' and foreign nationals' online and phone communications.

READ MORE: 10 things we didn't know before Snowden

"The NSA has built an infrastructure that allows it to intercept almost everything. With this capability, the vast majority of human communications are automatically ingested without targeting. If I wanted to see your emails or your wife's phone, all I have to do is use intercepts. I can get your emails, passwords, phone records, credit cards," Snowden said.

Snowden painstakingly picked the NSA files from a trove of classified documents and distributed them among some of the trusted world journalists, making sure that the flow of explosive leaks would be unstoppable.

"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," he said.

In his rare public addresses since fleeing the US for Hong Kong, and then finding temporary asylum in Russia, Snowden pointed out that the proverbial Orwellian state is "nothing compared to" the NSA's methods, urging the citizens of the world to fight for their right for privacy.

"A child born today will grow up with no conception of privacy at all. They'll never know what it means to have a private moment to themselves, an unrecorded, unanalyzed thought," the whistleblower said.

To US govt: 'The people will not be intimidated'

Snowden sent a strong message to the US government, saying he believes the people "will not be intimidated," and that one would not want to live in a world without a private space.

"I can't in good conscience allow the US government to destroy privacy, internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they're secretly building… I don't want to live in a world where there's no privacy and therefore no room for intellectual exploration and creativity," Snowden said.

While the US government and its media machine has immediately started painting a picture of Snowden as a traitor, some even suggesting he ended up "in the loving arms of FSB," the whistleblower stressed he had a much stronger motive for his actions – patriotism.

"I'm neither traitor nor hero. I'm an American" Snowden said. "I can do more good outside of prison… This country is worth dying for," he added.

'Made stateless & hounded for act of political expression'

Snowden has questioned why he was persecuted despite carefully avoiding materials posing a national security threat and revealing only those he was sure are in the public interest. The whistleblower believes that the US government annulled his passport and chased him for his "act of political expression."

"I took what I knew to the public, so what affects all of us can be discussed by all of us in the light of day, and I asked the world for justice,"
Snowden said, adding that he does not regret his decision. "While the US Constitution marks these programs as illegal, my government argues that secret court rulings, which the world is not permitted to see, somehow legitimize an illegal affair. These rulings simply corrupt the most basic notion of justice – that it must be seen to be done. The immoral cannot be made moral through the use of secret law."

'MSM doesn't challenge govt for fear of being seen as unpatriotic'

The former CIA employee said that White House-supportive strategy employed by the American media establishment had "ended up costing the public dearly."

"After 9/11, many of the most important news outlets in America abdicated their role as a check to power – the journalistic responsibility to challenge the excesses of government – for fear of being seen as unpatriotic and punished in the market during a period of heightened nationalism,"
Snowden said.

NSA presentation files leaked by Snowden contain a world heat map showing the scale of the US surveillance. According to the map, American communications are being monitored by the NSA even more actively than Russian ones.

"We watch our own people more closely than anyone else in the world," Snowden said via a video link to Washington as he was receiving the Ridenhour Award for 'Truth-Telling'.

"When Clapper raised his hand and lied to the American public, was anyone tried? Were any charges brought? Within 24 hours of going public, I had three charges against me," the whistleblower said, greeted by a standing ovation from the US audience.

'No question US is engaged in economic spying'

The American spying agency is not only responsible for national security, but also spies on foreign industrial entities in US business interests, Snowden revealed.

If an industrial giant like Siemens has something that the NSA believes "would be beneficial to the national interests, not the national security, of the United States, they will go after that information and they'll take it," the whistleblower said.

'Merkel Effect'

Following Snowden's leaks on US spying activities in Europe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel justified the surveillance – until she learned she was on NSA's radar herself. Snowden has viewed such stance as hypocrisy, even coining a phrase in honor of Merkel.

"It's clear the CIA was trying to play 'keep away' with documents relevant to an investigation by their overseers in Congress, and that's a serious constitutional concern. But it's equally if not more concerning that we're seeing another 'Merkel Effect,' where an elected official does not care at all that the rights of millions of ordinary citizens are violated by our spies, but suddenly it's a scandal when a politician finds out the same thing happens to them," Snowden said, referring to the statements of US Senator Dianne Feinstein.

Snowden said he was disillusioned with Obama who, instead of restricting the surveillance programs, has "closed the door on investigating systemic violations of law, deepened and expanded several abusive programs." However, he believes Obama has not yet reached the point of no return and "has plenty of time" to stop the warrantless surveillance of the NSA.

'NSA pressured EU into 'European bazaar' of spy networks'

"One of the foremost activities of the NSA's FAD, or Foreign Affairs Division, is to pressure or incentivize EU member states to change their laws to enable mass surveillance," Snowden said in a testimony delivered remotely from Russia. "Lawyers from the NSA, as well as the UK's GCHQ, work very hard to search for loopholes in laws and constitutional protections that they can use to justify indiscriminate, dragnet surveillance operations that were at best unwittingly authorized by lawmakers."

"The result is a European bazaar, where an EU member state like Denmark may give the NSA access to a tapping center on the [unenforceable] condition that the NSA doesn't search it for Danes, and Germany may give the NSA access to another on the condition that it doesn't search for Germans. Yet the two tapping sites may be two points on the same cable, so the NSA simply captures the communications of the German citizens as they transit Denmark, and the Danish citizens as they transit Germany, all the while considering it entirely in accordance with their agreements," Snowden said.

Snowden fears that with the help of the NSA, the US is turning into a "turnkey tyranny," justified by stories of the external threats that the people would swallow.

"The great fear that I have regarding the outcome for America of these disclosures is that nothing will change. [That people] won't be willing to take the risks necessary to stand up and fight to change things," Snowden shared.

'Encryption works'

Despite sophisticated programs and tactics employed by the NSA, former spy Snowden does not believe that end-to-end encrypted communication is "a lost cause." The problem is the endpoint security, which the people should be improving, he says.

"Encryption works. Properly implemented strong crypto systems are one of the few things that you can rely on,"
Snowden said.

"We need to think about encryption not as this sort of arcane, black art. It's a basic protection," Snowden added. "Let's put it this way. The United States government has assembled a massive investigation team into me personally, into my work with the journalists, and they still have no idea what documents were provided to the journalist, what they have, what they don't have, because encryption works."

READ MORE: Snowden speaks in support of #ResetTheNet online campaign

[May 24, 2014] No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the Surveillance State by Glenn Greenwald

The Guardian

At the outset of Glenn Greenwald's communications with the "anonymous leaker" later identified as 29-year-old former NSA employee Edward Snowden, Greenwald – a journalist, blogger and former lawyer – and the film-maker Laura Poitras, with whom he is collaborating, are told to use a PGP ("pretty good privacy") encryption package. Only then will materials be sent to him since, as Snowden puts it, encryption is "not just for spies and philanderers". Eventually Greenwald receives word that a Federal Express package has been sent and will arrive in a couple of days. He doesn't know what it will contain – a computer program or the secret and incriminating US government documents themselves – but nothing comes on the scheduled day of delivery. FedEx says that the package is being held in customs for "reasons unknown". Ten days later it is finally delivered. "I tore open the envelope and found two USB thumb drives" and instructions for using the programs, Greenwald writes.

His account reminded me of the time, nearly a decade ago, when I was researching Britain's road to war in Iraq, and went through a similar experience. I was waiting for an overnight FedEx envelope to reach me in New York, sent from my London chambers; it contained materials that might relate to deliberations between George Bush and Tony Blair (materials of the kind that seem to be holding up the Chilcot inquiry). A day passed, then another, then two more. Eventually, I was told I could pick up the envelope at a FedEx office, but warned that it had been tampered with, which turned out to something of an understatement: there was no envelope for me to tear open, as the tearing had already occurred and all the contents had been removed. FedEx offered no explanation.

As Greenwald notes, experiences such as this, which signal that you may be being watched, can have a chilling effect, but you just find other ways to carry on. FedEx (and its like) are avoided, and steps are taken to make sure that anything significant or sensitive is communicated by other means. In any event, and no doubt like many others, I proceed on the basis that all my communications – personal and professional – are capable of being monitored by numerous governments, including my own. Whether they are is another matter, as is the question of what happens with material obtained by such surveillance – a point that this book touches on but never really addresses. Greenwald's argument is that it's not so much what happens with the material that matters, but the mere fact of its being gathered. Even so, his point is a powerful one.

This is the great importance of the astonishing revelations made by Snowden, as facilitated by Greenwald and Poitras, with help from various news media, including the Guardian. Not only does it confirm what many have suspected – that surveillance is happening – but it also makes clear that it's happening on an almost unimaginably vast scale. One might have expected a certain targeting of individuals and groups, but we now know that data is hovered up indiscriminately. We have learned that over the last decade the NSA has collected records on every phone call made by every American (it gathers the who, what and when of the calls, known as metadata, but not the content), as well as email data. We have learned that this happens with the cooperation of the private sector, with all that implies for their future as consorts in global surveillance. We have learned, too, that the NSA reviews the contents of the emails and internet communications of people outside the US, and has tapped the phones of foreign leaders (such as German chancellor Angel Merkel), and that it works with foreign intelligence services (including Britain's GCHQ), so as to be able to get around domestic legal difficulties. Our suspicions have been confirmed that the use of global surveillance is not limited to the "war on terror", but is marshalled towards the diplomatic and even economic advantage of the US, a point Greenwald teases out using the PowerPoint materials relied on by the agencies themselves. Such actions have been made possible thanks to creative and dodgy interpretations of legislation (not least the Patriot Act implemented just after 9/11). These activities began under President Bush, and they have been taken forward by President Obama. It would be a generous understatement to refer to British "cooperation" in these matters, although Greenwald's intended audience seems to be mostly in the US, and he goes light on the British until it comes to the treatment of his partner, David Miranda, who was detained in the UK under anti-terror legislation.

When the revelations first came out, in the summer of 2013, Snowden explained that he "had the capability without any warrant to search for, seize, and read your communications". That meant "anyone's communications at any time", he added, justifying the public disclosure on the grounds that this "power to change people's fates" was "a serious violation of the law". Snowden's actions, and the claims he has made, have catalysed an important debate in the US, within Congress (where views have not necessarily followed party lines) and among academics and commentators. Views are polarised among reasonable individuals, such as New Yorker legal writer Jeff Toobin ("no proof of any systematic, deliberate violations of law"), and the New York Review of Books's David Cole ("secret and legally dubious activities at home and abroad"), and in the US federal courts. In Britain, by contrast, the debate has been more limited, with most newspapers avoiding serious engagement and leaving the Guardian to address the detail, scale and significance of the revelations. Media enterprises that one might have expected to rail at the powers of Big Government have remained conspicuously restrained – behaviour that is likely, over the long term, to increase the power of the surveillance state over that of the individual. With the arrival of secret courts in Britain, drawing on the experience of the US, it feels as if we may be at a tipping point. Such reluctance on the part of our fourth estate has given the UK parliament a relatively free rein, leaving the Intelligence and Security Committee to plod along, a somewhat pitiful contrast to its US counterparts.

The big issue at stake here is privacy, and the relationship between the individual and the state, and it goes far beyond issues of legality (although Snowden's fear of arrest, and perhaps also Greenwald's, seems rather real). It is in the nature of government that information will be collected, and that some of it should remain confidential. "Privacy is a core condition of being a free person," Greenwald rightly proclaims, allowing us a realm "where we can act, think, speak, write, experiment and choose how to be away from the judgmental eyes of others".

Snowden's revelations challenge us to reflect on the ideal balance between the power of the state to know and the right of the individual to go about her or his business unencumbered, and this in turn raises fundamental questions about the power of the media, on which Greenwald has strong views, usually (but not always) fairly articulated. He makes the case for Snowden, and it's a compelling one. One concern with WikiLeaks acting independently was the apparently random nature of its disclosures, without any obvious filtering on the basis of public interest or the possible exposure to risk of certain individuals. What is striking about this story, and the complex interplay between Snowden, Greenwald, Poitras and the Guardian, is that the approach was different, as the justification for the leaks seems to have been at the forefront of all their minds. In his recent book Secrets and Leaks Rahul Sagar identified a set of necessary conditions for leaks. Is there clear evidence of abuse of authority? Will the release threaten public safety? Is the scale of the release limited? Many people, though not all, see these as having been met in the Snowden case.

Britain needs a proper debate about the power of the state to collect information of the kind that Snowden has told us about, including its purpose and limits. The technological revolution of the past two decades has left UK law stranded, with parliament seemingly unable (and perhaps unwilling) to get a proper grip on the legal framework that is needed to restrain our political governors and the intelligence services, not least in their dance with the US. "The greatest threat is that we shall become like those who seek to destroy us", the legendary US diplomat George Kennan warned in 1947. In response, revelations can be made, Greenwald's book published, and a Pulitzer prize awarded. Long may it go on.

• Philippe Sands QC is professor of law at University College London. To order No Place to Hide for ฃ15 with free UK p&p call Guardian book service on 0330 333 6846 or go to

No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the Surveillance State

by Glenn Greenwald

Tell us what you think: Star-rate and review this book

Imlessbiasedthanyou2, 23 May 2014 8:41am

Recommend: 81

Ed Snowden needs to be pardoned.

Glenn Greenwald and the Guardian have been the only source for this information in the UK, which is a disgusting state is affairs. The timidity of our media is striking, embarrassing and scary.

Information needs to be collected by security agencies within reason. Indiscriminate harvesting is information corrupts democracy indescribably.

Incumbent powers can, and will, use private information to quell legitimate protest and debate, and protect their own interests at the expense of justice for their own citizens, and the innocent citizens of foreign countries. They will use it to bribe public servants and corrupt democracy.

Innocent information can still be used against you. It is a failure of intellect and imagination to doubt this, and proclaim the old, untrue mantra, "nothing to hide, nothing to fear".

This cannot be disputed, and so those who continue to defend the actions of our governments are either blind, ignorant or working in tandem.

Thank you Ed Snowden, Glenn Greenwald and the Guardian.

Keep this story alive. It's almost the only one that matters.

mirageseekr, 23 May 2014 11:45am

While I agree that personal privacy is important and needed I think the bigger concern is what happens to democracy when people in authority can be blackmailed. The important thing about Snowden was that he confirmed what Tice and Binney have been saying all along and just lacked the actual evidence.

What I see with some of the rulings from the courts and laws from congress is puppets on a string. They know their argument fails to hold water and yet the feverishly stand by and defend it. The only reasonable answer for that is someone has the goods on them and is using it, just as Russ Tice has been saying for years. So the major question and one I hope Snowden and Greenwald have the answer to is, who is the puppet master?

Our societies have only the charade of democracy. Now the proverbial curtain has been pulled back and we must look to see the truth. Tice has said he saw the orders for surveillance of Obama and Supreme court justices as well as top brass. So who is it exactly that this very expensive system paid for by our tax dollars is used for. We know the "terrorism" is a lie or possibly a distraction for workers they may worry about having a conscious. They claim it is not for industrial espionage, but I am willing to bet some people have made lots of money from having access to information that was stolen. To me the tin foil hat club had it right all along. The people calling the shots are the Council on Foreign Relations, The Trilateral Commission, and Bilderbergs. And if that is true then we have a few global elite of un-elected people determining economies, wars, policy for us all and doing it in violation of sovereignty laws. I wish The Guardian would report more on the military state the USA has become, daily the police beat and kill people here. The DHS has been loading up on ammunition that is not used for target ranges and is against the Geneva convention, the TSA, just ordered weapons and ammunition. The State Department just got a few tons of explosives even the post office has a SWAT team. We have allowed them to build a standing army within our country in direct violation of our constitution. The FEMA camps are up and running and NDAA ensures you can be quietly taken away in the night with absolutely no rights and no charges and even gives them the right to kill Americans. This is not a partisan issue, the bill passed 84-15. So how much more will it take for Americans to realize that the only difference between the US right now and Nazi Germany is that they haven't started loading the trains yet. The US also learned from the Germans mistakes, they will most likely not go house to house with weapons at first. It will be some false flag to make the population willingly go. Maybe it will be like the drills they have had (one in Denver) where they took the schoolchildren to the football arena for a FEMA/DHS "drill" except they forgot to make any mention to the parents about it. The puppet masters need to be exposed now, there is not much more time to wait to see how this is going to work out.

MiltonWiltmellow, 23 May 2014 11:48am

Recommend: 52

Snowden's revelations challenge us to reflect on the ideal balance between the power of the state to know and the right of the individual to go about her or his business unencumbered, and this in turn raises fundamental questions about the power of the media, on which Greenwald has strong views, usually (but not always) fairly articulated.

These sorts of understatements represent a sort of passive acceptance. (e.g., "Let's debate about the tigers dragging our children to the jungle where it devours them. Tiger's have legitimate needs too. Maybe if we stake goats, the tigers will devour the goats instead of our children ... " )

The entire relationship between State and individual changes when the State takes it upon itself to monitor the everyday activities of its citizens.

This isn't an academic question which august authorities like yourself can debate among themselves for the next ten or twenty years.

This is a fucking tiger in the nursery.

Either the citizen has basic human rights (the right to freely interact with others) or the citizen turns into a subject -- a potential threat to State security and thus a suspect.

The question isn't "how much secret surveillance should be allowed" but rather "how can this secret surveillance be stopped?

AhBrightWings -> MiltonWiltmellow, 23 May 2014 12:41pm

Brilliant Milton. Couldn't agree more, and love your metaphor. Just because it's crouched under the dust-ruffle doesn't mean it isn't there. If you've watched footage of tigers hunting, they often freeze for long periods of time to lull their prey into a fall sense of well-being.

As you said so well: This is a fucking tiger in the nursery.

LostintheUSMiltonWiltmellow, 23 May 2014 1:26pm

Recommend: 16

And it is not just about reading our emails, etc. Or listening into phone calls. I mentioned an obscure book to my husband (in the same room) that has been out of print for 34 years one day while working on my computer and a short while later there was an ad for that book that popped up on gmail.

Think about that.

And NONE of this is about "protecting" us. The Boston Marathon bombers were all over the radar for their previous activities and the NSA was paying them no mind. This web is to protect the oligarchy from us peasants. We are living in 17th century France...the aristocracy pay no taxes and we are being taxed and worked to death.

Levi Genes -> LostintheUS, 24 May 2014 11:44am

The Boston Marathon bombers were all over the radar for their previous activities and the NSA was paying them no mind. This web is to protect the oligarchy from us peasants.

It's much more violently proactive than simple 'protections' from potential opposition. The reason they appear now on the 'radar' is because the so-called Boston 'bombers' were deeply run by the FBI for the same nefarious reasons as are all other patsies in the parade of US false flag operations: deflection from public investigation identifying the actual terrorist perpetrators / plausible deniability for the public to bite on to facilitate the desired effect of implemented programs of public terror. The evidence of state sponsored terror is there if one chooses to look.

The recent, violent murder in Florida of an associate / witness to that FBI operation by an FBI agent / interrogator, tasked with insuring that associate / witness's compliance to the prescriptive, government narrative of the Boston event as force fed to the public by compliant / co-opted mass media, is but yet another thinly but effectively veiled, social conditioning manipulation of public consciousness reinforcing the enabling myth of just who is the actual threat to public peace and safety.

Boston was an exercise in social conditioning to martial law where no civil rights exist. They shut the city down in contrived pretext and stormed through whatever private domain they chose as a show of force in exercise of police state power over all constitutionally based constraints. All on a desperate, audacious and unthinkable lie.

You will do exactly what you're told to do, when you're told to do it, by heavily armed masked men in black, storming through your house without your invitation, ostensibly in pursuit of and protecting you from the terrible phantoms created by their masters.

Bagdad, Boston, London, Kiev, no matter. Same game of violent control from the same power cabal while draining the hard earned wealth and civil power of the masses by the same boom/ bust / state terrorist means. All of it, an horrific extension of covert enablement by forced public pacification to Operation Gladio and its drive to global dominion.

NATO / NWO intent is defined by its break-away elitist culture of absolute authoritarianism by absolute systemic corruption in absolute secrecy. Snowden and his journalist associates are providing a glimpse of its all encompassing scope. Our individual response, or lack thereof, will determine our fate as either citizens with rights based in moral principles and economic equity, or as mere commodities for use as needed by hidden powers.

A stark choice, as the presumptive enemies of the state that we in fact are.

guest88888epinoa, 24 May 2014 3:29am

Baubles handed out - nothing changed.

Agreed. Ultimately, despite their good intentions, I feel as though both Greenwald and Snowden aren't pushing the case against dragnet surveillance hard enough. We don't need a debate. This is fascism pure and simple, and they are spying on us because they fear the day that we revolt against their putrid austerity and the general failure of capitalism.

The Grauniad of course possesses no perspective whatsoever. Seriously Mr. Sands, we need a debate? You find out the majority of the world is being spied on and violated, and you are actually think that a few cosmetic changes will make a difference?

There will be no debate, and you know it. But I suppose that while you are wealthy and safe from economic deprivation, who cares if the NSA tramples on the freedoms of common people, all in defense of the ultra-rich, right?

KilgoreTrout2012, 23 May 2014 12:14pm

"NSA has collected records on every phone call made by every American (it gathers the who, what and when of the calls, known as metadata, but not the content), as well as email data."

I don't buy it's just metadata, since the US and are allies have the technology to do so, the content is also being "saved". Most likely US "content" is collected in Great Britain to give the NSA plausible deniability that they are not collecting content. And the US probably has Great Britain's "content".

The NSA may not have the technology to truly read all that data today but someday it will all be collated, analyzed, and used to put each citizen into national security classifications. Your travel, jobs prospects, etc. will be limited based on where you fall in their assessments.

guest88888 -> KilgoreTrout2012, 24 May 2014 3:34am

I don't buy it's just metadata,

Of course I agree with you sentiment that the US and its cronies are lying through their teeth about everything, but I want to point out that metadata collection is far more intrusive than just regular wiretapping.

Greenwald gave a great example. To paraphrase:

If I call an AIDS clinic, and you monitor the content of my call, I may never bring up the actual disease in most of my conversations. I might say, let's meet at this time, or book an appointment, or make small talk etc.

But, if you have the metadata, you can know that I've been calling an AIDS clinic repeatedly. You can know where I'm calling from. You can find out where I've been getting meds (from the pharmacy).

In short, you can rapidly figure out if I have AIDS, what I'm doing about it, even how I may have got it. Much easier with metadata than simple wire-tappping.

Not that much analysis needed, since you need much less data.

AhBrightWings, 23 May 2014 12:35pm

Recommend: 16

Not sure I agree that the debate has been "more limited" in Great Britain. The Guardian is, after all, a British publication and it has had ten times (conservatively) more coverage than any other journal I know of, and continued congratulations for doing so.

The problem in the US is that we can't get any traction on the revelations that kicks over into judicial action to end this crime spree. Congress is ossified, the populace is mummified, and so we march on, becoming the United States of Zombieland, where the only signs of sentient life are in the MIC and its many tentacles and claws.

Snowden's sacrifice and Greenwald's work only have value if people wake up and use what we've learned. The mystery is what we are all waiting for. The trajectory from UPS hold-ups to being held-up in a cell is shorter--when things truly take a dire turn (and we may get lucky and they may not, I fully concede that)--than many want to concede. The rise of every despot and tyrant has illustrated that arc well. Why do we think we'll be the exception to that pattern?

Our exceptionalism appears to have blinded us in more ways than one.

Theodore McIntire, 23 May 2014 12:54pm

In addition to revealing how invasive and law/truth twisting big governments / organizations (of any orientation and denomination) are likely to behave, the Snowden revelations also showed how much the media and public are/were disengaged from reality and blindly trusting of big governments / organizations.

Except for those poor souls who live in fear or live off the fear of others... They are very afraid and angry about the Snowden revelations and any other disruptions to their fear based animal herd behavior.

CraigSummers, 23 May 2014 1:32pm

Mr. Sands

I find it interesting that you don't mention even once in your review the potential ramifications of compromising US intelligence. This is an extremely important consideration in the debate (at least to some concerned citizens). In addition, the released information goes far beyond civil liberties in many instances. One can certainly question the motives of Greenwald. Greenwald has a body of written work from Salon, the Guardian and others which indicate he was not motivated entirely by a debate about "privacy" and civil liberties.

The release of information that the NSA spied on universities in Hong Kong coincided with Snowden's arrival in the special administrative region of the People's Republic of China. This was hardly a coincidence - and shows the level of planning used by Snowden before illegally stealing tens of thousands of top secret documents.

".......The big issue at stake here is privacy, and the relationship between the individual and the state, and it goes far beyond issues of legality (although Snowden's fear of arrest.......seems rather real)...."

Jesus, ya think?

Leondeinos -> CraigSummers, 23 May 2014 4:26pm

The ramifications are simply that the NSA has been caught in its full incompetence and arrogance. Snowden did the world a great favor. Greenwald's book is a good read that does expose and explore those ramifications for the world.

The version of the Defense Intelligence Agency's assessment of damage done by Edward Snowden's leaks released by the US (here on the Guardian website) contains no information about the potential ramifications of compromising US intelligence. This "redacted" version consists 12 pages of blanks out of a total of 39 pages in the original. What you see is what you get. A year after Snowden's revelations, it is a pathetic, contemptible defence of a vast waste of money, people, and diplomatic reputation by the US government.

[Feb 08, 2014] Snowden Used Low-Cost Tool to Best N.S.A. By DAVID E. SANGER and ERIC SCHMITT

Breathtaking level of incompetence within NSA. Get some popcorn... Quote: "While the organization built enormously high electronic barriers to keep out foreign invaders, it had rudimentary protections against insiders."
Feb 08, 2014 |

WASHINGTON - Intelligence officials investigating how Edward J. Snowden gained access to a huge trove of the country's most highly classified documents say they have determined that he used inexpensive and widely available software to "scrape" the National Security Agency's networks, and kept at it even after he was briefly challenged by agency officials.

Using "web crawler" software designed to search, index and back up a website, Mr. Snowden "scraped data out of our systems" while he went about his day job, according to a senior intelligence official. "We do not believe this was an individual sitting at a machine and downloading this much material in sequence," the official said. The process, he added, was "quite automated."

The findings are striking because the N.S.A.'s mission includes protecting the nation's most sensitive military and intelligence computer systems from cyberattacks, especially the sophisticated attacks that emanate from Russia and China. Mr. Snowden's "insider attack," by contrast, was hardly sophisticated and should have been easily detected, investigators found.

Moreover, Mr. Snowden succeeded nearly three years after the WikiLeaks disclosures, in which military and State Department files, of far less sensitivity, were taken using similar techniques.

Mr. Snowden had broad access to the N.S.A.'s complete files because he was working as a technology contractor for the agency in Hawaii, helping to manage the agency's computer systems in an outpost that focuses on China and North Korea. A web crawler, also called a spider, automatically moves from website to website, following links embedded in each document, and can be programmed to copy everything in its path.

Mr. Snowden appears to have set the parameters for the searches, including which subjects to look for and how deeply to follow links to documents and other data on the N.S.A.'s internal networks.

Among the materials prominent in the Snowden files are the agency's shared "wikis," databases to which intelligence analysts, operatives and others contributed their knowledge. Some of that material indicates that Mr. Snowden "accessed" the documents. But experts say they may well have been downloaded not by him but by the program acting on his behalf.

Agency officials insist that if Mr. Snowden had been working from N.S.A. headquarters at Fort Meade, Md., which was equipped with monitors designed to detect when a huge volume of data was being accessed and downloaded, he almost certainly would have been caught. But because he worked at an agency outpost that had not yet been upgraded with modern security measures, his copying of what the agency's newly appointed No. 2 officer, Rick Ledgett, recently called "the keys to the kingdom" raised few alarms.

"Some place had to be last" in getting the security upgrade, said one official familiar with Mr. Snowden's activities. But he added that Mr. Snowden's actions had been "challenged a few times."

In at least one instance when he was questioned, Mr. Snowden provided what were later described to investigators as legitimate-sounding explanations for his activities: As a systems administrator he was responsible for conducting routine network maintenance. That could include backing up the computer systems and moving information to local servers, investigators were told.

But from his first days working as a contractor inside the N.S.A.'s aging underground Oahu facility for Dell, the computer maker, and then at a modern office building on the island for Booz Allen Hamilton, the technology consulting firm that sells and operates computer security services used by the government, Mr. Snowden learned something critical about the N.S.A.'s culture: While the organization built enormously high electronic barriers to keep out foreign invaders, it had rudimentary protections against insiders.

"Once you are inside the assumption is that you are supposed to be there, like in most organizations," said Richard Bejtlich, the chief security strategist for FireEye, a Silicon Valley computer security firm, and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. "But that doesn't explain why they weren't more vigilant about excessive activity in the system."

Investigators have yet to answer the question of whether Mr. Snowden happened into an ill-defended outpost of the N.S.A. or sought a job there because he knew it had yet to install the security upgrades that might have stopped him.

"He was either very lucky or very strategic," one intelligence official said. A new book, "The Snowden Files," by Luke Harding, a correspondent for The Guardian in London, reports that Mr. Snowden sought his job at Booz Allen because "to get access to a final tranche of documents" he needed "greater security privileges than he enjoyed in his position at Dell."

Through his lawyer at the American Civil Liberties Union, Mr. Snowden did not specifically address the government's theory of how he obtained the files, saying in a statement: "It's ironic that officials are giving classified information to journalists in an effort to discredit me for giving classified information to journalists. The difference is that I did so to inform the public about the government's actions, and they're doing so to misinform the public about mine."

The headquarters of Booz Allen Hamilton, one of Edward J. Snowden's former employers, in McLean, Va. He had broad access to National Security Agency files as a contractor in Hawaii. Michael Reynolds/European Pressphoto Agency

The N.S.A. declined to comment on its investigation or the security changes it has made since the Snowden disclosures. Other intelligence officials familiar with the findings of the investigations under way - there are at least four - were granted anonymity to discuss the investigations.

In interviews, officials declined to say which web crawler Mr. Snowden had used, or whether he had written some of the software himself. Officials said it functioned like Googlebot, a widely used web crawler that Google developed to find and index new pages on the web. What officials cannot explain is why the presence of such software in a highly classified system was not an obvious tip-off to unauthorized activity.

When inserted with Mr. Snowden's passwords, the web crawler became especially powerful. Investigators determined he probably had also made use of the passwords of some colleagues or supervisors.

But he was also aided by a culture within the N.S.A., officials say, that "compartmented" relatively little information. As a result, a 29-year-old computer engineer, working from a World War II-era tunnel oOahu and then from downtown Honolulu, had access to unencrypted files that dealt with information as varied as the bulk collection of domestic phone numbers and the intercepted communications of Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and dozens of other leaders.

Officials say web crawlers are almost never used on the N.S.A.'s internal systems, making it all the more inexplicable that the one used by Mr. Snowden did not set off alarms as it copied intelligence and military documents stored in the N.S.A.'s systems and linked through the agency's internal equivalent of Wikipedia.

The answer, officials and outside experts say, is that no one was looking inside the system in Hawaii for hard-to-explain activity. "The N.S.A. had the solution to this problem in hand, but they simply didn't push it out fast enough," said James Lewis, a computer expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies who has talked extensively with intelligence officials about how the Snowden experience could have been avoided.

Nonetheless, the government had warning that it was vulnerable to such attacks. Similar techniques were used by Chelsea Manning, then known as Pfc. Bradley Manning, who was convicted of turning documents and videos over to WikiLeaks in 2010.

Evidence presented during Private Manning's court-martial for his role as the source for large archives of military and diplomatic files given to WikiLeaks revealed that he had used a program called "wget" to download the batches of files. That program automates the retrieval of large numbers of files, but it is considered less powerful than the tool Mr. Snowden used.

The program's use prompted changes in how secret information is handled at the State Department, the Pentagon and the intelligence agencies, but recent assessments suggest that those changes may not have gone far enough. For example, arguments have broken out about whether the N.S.A.'s data should all be encrypted "at rest" - when it is stored in servers - to make it harder to search and steal. But that would also make it harder to retrieve for legitimate purposes.

Investigators have found no evidence that Mr. Snowden's searches were directed by a foreign power, despite suggestions to that effect by the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Mike Rogers, Republican of Michigan, in recent television appearances and at a hearing last week.

But that leaves open the question of how Mr. Snowden chose the search terms to obtain his trove of documents, and why, according to James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, they yielded a disproportionately large number of documents detailing American military movements, preparations and abilities around the world.

In his statement, Mr. Snowden denied any deliberate effort to gain access to any military information. "They rely on a baseless premise, which is that I was after military information," Mr. Snowden said.

The head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, told lawmakers last week that Mr. Snowden's disclosures could tip off adversaries to American military tactics and operations, and force the Pentagon to spend vast sums to safeguard against that. But he admitted a great deal of uncertainty about what Mr. Snowden possessed.

"Everything that he touched, we assume that he took," said General Flynn, including details of how the military tracks terrorists, of enemies' vulnerabilities and of American defenses against improvised explosive devices. He added, "We assume the worst case."

[Dec 24, 2013] Edward Snowden to broadcast Channel 4's alternative Christmas Day message

December 24, 2013 |

Edward Snowden, the whistleblower who prompted a worldwide debate when he leaked a cache of top secret documents about US and UK spying, has recorded a Christmas Day television message in which he calls for an end to the mass surveillance revealed by his disclosures.

The short film was recorded for Channel 4, which has 20-year history of providing unusual but relevant figures as an alternative to the Queen's Christmas message shown by other UK broadcasters. It will be Snowden's first television appearance since arriving in Moscow.

The address, to be broadcast at 4.15pm on Christmas Day, was filmed in Russia – where Snowden is living after being granted temporary asylum – by Laura Poitras, a film-maker who has closely collaborated with him on the NSA stories.

In excerpts from the address released by Channel 4, Snowden says George Orwell "warned us of the danger of this kind of information" in his dystopian novel, 1984.

Snowden says: "The types of collection in the book – microphones and video cameras, TVs that watch us – are nothing compared to what we have available today. We have sensors in our pockets that track us everywhere we go. Think about what this means for the privacy of the average person.

"A child born today will grow up with no conception of privacy at all. They'll never know what it means to have a private moment to themselves an unrecorded, unanalysed thought. And that's a problem because privacy matters; privacy is what allows us to determine who we are and who we want to be."

In the other extract of the address released, Snowden notes the political changes that have taken place since his leaked the cache documents to newspapers including the Guardian. He highlights a review of the NSA's power that recommended it be no longer permitted to collect phone records in bulk or undermine internet security, findings endorsed in part by Barack Obama, and a federal judge's ruling that bulk phone record collection is likely to violate the US constitution.

Snowden says: "The conversation occurring today will determine the amount of trust we can place both in the technology that surrounds us and the government that regulates it. Together we can find a better balance, end mass surveillance and remind the government that if it really wants to know how we feel, asking is always cheaper than spying."

The latter comment echoes a sentiment expressed by Snowden during a series of interviews in Moscow with the Washington Post, another paper that has carried revelations based on documents leaked by him. In this, Snowden said the effect of his actions had meant that "the mission's already accomplished".

In the newspaper interview, he added: "I already won. As soon as the journalists were able to work, everything that I had been trying to do was validated. Because, remember, I didn't want to change society. I wanted to give society a chance to determine if it should change itself.

"All I wanted was for the public to be able to have a say in how they are governed."

The alternative Christmas message, a counterpoint to the traditional festive broadcast by the Queen, began in 1993 with a broadcast from the writer and gay activist Quentin Crisp. Other notable participants include Iran's then-president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in 2008, and a team of midwives two years later.

Morat -> SouthLodge

The bloke next door is a facist, granted, but was the only f***er to give a damn when Snowden was on the run.

Europe as one big block refused him asylum, a very shamefull event.

The only country with the courage to say b**ll**ks to the US and its undercover cronies, was Russia, like it or not.

Do you read at all?

hollywoodvine66 -> Morat

Think about the United States of America have military bases in 130 Nations around the world including almost every European country . The United States of America is a Empire and only China and Russia have the balls to stand up to them. I would love it if Europe offered Snowden asylum but that's not going to happen.

photosymbiont -> asilly

Snowden has no aspirations to hero-hood. In fact, people who rely on heroes are just too lazy or frightened to do the difficult work themselves. Basically, Snowden said the public deserved the right to an informed debate on what the NSA was actually up to, since he knew they were lying to the public about the true nature of their activities. So now we can have that debate, can't we?

Of course people who've been paying attention knew that the NSA was up to this kind of thing, look back at the Mark Klein revelations about the NARUS splitters installed at key fiber optic cables within the United States back in 2005, which allowed the NSA to collect all domestic traffic using "general warrants" in violation of the 4th amendment to the US Constitution.

Remember, everyone who works for the U.S. government takes an oath to uphold the Constitution first and foremost - so Snowden was just doing his job. That doesn't make him a hero - but does make all those who went along with the NSA program guilty of dereliction of duty.

The Constitution is not "just a piece of paper."


Amazing how people go straight away for the ego button. Everybody has an ego , including those who have obviously abused theirs, like those who run the NSA , GHSQ , Cameron, Obama ad nauseum. People like Snowden do not seek any accolades like our so- called elected politicians who have their own self serving agendas.


is the NSA paying people to come on these message boards and bang out the Party Line?

he's a traitor, hes a Republican, he's and ego maniac.

The guy has exposed the dangerous hypocrisy at the heart of the US & UK Governments, for all their pontificating about Freedom & Liberty they have created the most intrusive and all encompassing surveillance infrastructure in human history, all done in secrecy, without meaningful oversight and meant to give them the capability to spy on EVERYONE, the Guy is a fucking hero as far as im concerned,


Maybe because there is SO much electronic information flying about via voice, computer, Tv, Radio etc etc, by the very fact it CAN be monitored, it is. A strange logic, but the shear abundance of info spread real time and the speed that which reaction can be rallied into huge movements quickly is probably instilling huge paranoia. All states are probably fearful of others getting the upper hand and not having a finger on the zeitgeist. The more we spread, the more we will be listened to. Fight it? Get rid of mobiles, email, web usage and talk and use carrier pigeons!

John Nagel

Perhaps Snowden thinks that the mission is accomplished, but | beg to differ.

Because today, our entire bodies are SIGINT, with technological innovation meaning that even our brains are subject to unregulated monitoring, surveillance and manipulation using psychotronic weaponry (considered a WMD).

A human rights complaint will be filed in 2014 before the Organization of American States Human Rights Commission, alledging electronic torture and enslavement by the Obama administration of an American civilian due to his knowledge of the administration's organized crime ties.

We have not yet "won", Edward.

The struggle, Edward, is just beginning.

Thanks for doing your part.


In a world increasingly jam-packed with walking dead or solely intent on consuming and being consumed by the frivolous, this man provides a breath of fresh air.

Those with their head in the sand and their arses in the air will no doubt have a Happy Christmas anyway, and in their own way.

It's hard work constantly distinguishing between the artificial and the vital, as far as human dignity is concerned, because the pressures of oppression are relentless.

Thanks Mr Snowden, and may the new year keep you out of harm's way.

Mmmoke -> veroniquksvackra

What the UK gendarmes did when they invaded the Guardian's offices with instructions from the NSA, and SMASHED Hard Drives, Laptops and other material is pure NAZISM. That is the New World Order. Thanks NSA.


Snowden should never receive a Nobel Prize. It has been degraded since Obama had it.

Instead, I suggest the creation of a new prize, funded with donations from people on the internet.

The most suitable name would be: FRODO PRIZE.

Anyway, haven't the "Big Eye" and the "Palantiri" been exposed?

Only that the destruction of this "Sauronic" evil can only be carried out by the peoples of the world and not Snowden.


Dear Edward,

I cannot thank you enough, honestly from the bottom of my heart, you have done a great service to humanity as a whole! Many of us have known for a long time where things were going but thanks to you now we know where they are already.

You are honestly & obviously the bravest man that has worked for the NSA. I hope you inspire generations of others to put the Constitution of the United States first when working for the US Government or military.

I too am away from my family at Christmas but could fly home tomorrow if I felt like it, however I feel a little of how you must also feel. I hope your family is as proud of your sacrifice as so many of us here are.

As the world celebrates and families meet together many will be talking of the revelations that have been released due to you having conscience, their thoughts will be varied and mixed but they will be talking of something they would not have otherwise. This is thanks to you.

Generations of thinkers will know your name, although I'm sure you did not want that, you deserve the thanks of all generations to come as we fight for what is right.

Again my thanks, peace and Merry Xmas!



Snowden has done his part. It is now up to the rest of us to decide what we want our society to be.

If we like it the way it has been, then silly Snowden for sticking his neck out and for nothing. But that was the chance he took.

If we like a change - oh well!!!!

We in the US wanted to vote those scumbags out for many many election cycles now. Yet the approval rating of Congress has been dropping election after election.

But "I like the scumbag in my district", "it is the scumbags elsewhere I want out".

You see, that's the way "they" got us!

Your next Christmas present will be dropped at your door step by a drone. Year after that? It will be dropped at your foot step - wherever you are, whatever you're doing! The person who gives you the gift has only to spend the money - "they" already know what you want, your size and your color preference. Neato! This doesn't even involve NSA!

The verdict is already out as to what we want collectively!

Btw, if you use RSA to email it only attracts attention.


"A child born today will grow up with no conception of privacy at all."
Once people accepted big, centralized government into their lives... they gave up their privacy and that happened long, long ago.
I will quote a politician from 70 years ago:

No Socialist Government conducting the entire life and industry of the country could afford to allow free, sharp, or violently-worded expressions of public discontent. They would have to fall back on some form of Gestapo, no doubt very humanely directed in the first instance. And this would nip opinion in the bud; it would stop criticism as it reared its head, and it would gather all the power to the supreme party and the party leaders, rising like stately pinnacles above their vast bureaucracies of Civil servants, no longer servants and no longer civil. And where would the ordinary simple folk – the common people, as they like to call them in America – where would they be, once this mighty organism had got them in its grip?"

Need I identify the man who said this?
Snowden, you ran.


Ed Snowden, you are nothing short of a hero. No matter what may happen to you, no matter what people believe from propaganda, you have done the country, and the world, a huge service. Thank you for giving up everything and everyone you love in your life in order to give us the chance of claiming back the subtle parameters which define who we are.


The guy shows to the other world, what is great about America and Americans even now, besides science and technologies - personal freedom, not bombs.


Those who blame Snowden cannot be aware of the kind of power involved in this.

Never has the world been closer to a form of absolute power than now. It means political, economical, social power. And more...

If you don't know how much absolute power corrupts, you know really little, but the first Roman Emperors can give you an idea.

Some will say: "But the western civilisation is a good one". Come off it! Do you really think that a Nixon, a Franco, a Salazar, a Hitler and the likes or worse are not possible? Not to mention eastern mass murderers, for if the techonology exists it is likely to spread and advance.


How many companies are tracking us on this very website, please?

banthem armado

Everyone of them.



Welcome to the free West.


It's always amusing to read comments from the anti-whistlebower camp. One has to question their motives. What can be so wrong with revealing that our security services are spying on us, not because something terrible may happen, but because they simply can?

Are they apathetic? Resided to government intrusion for whatever reason a politician or civil servant deems appropriate.

Are they pro-intrusion? Believing surveillance of everyone is essential to protect everyone.

Are they content in their ignorance, which, when removed, increases their fear and anxiety, irrational or not?

Are they concerned about this particular case because there is a potential for some severe consequences. Agents in the field being killed, terrorists foiling our defences, our security networks being crippled?

Are they members of the establishment, political class, or security services, simply supporting what they do for a job, or countenance in our name?

I've no idea which of these motives predominates with the anti-Snowdon brigade. In my mind nothing justifies unfettered access to anyone's private life unless it can be justified. But who decides what is justified? We need to decide who we are happy to have that power. Do they need strong oversight? How can we be sure the information gathered will never be used nefariously or for illegal purposes? Until these questions are addressed, I for one, would rather have guys like Snowdon around than some, so called, patriotic zealots.

Ecuador 'seeks Snowden talks with Russia'

ECUADOR has asked the Kremlin for talks over the fate of fugitive US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden, a Russian state-owned broadcaster says.

Snowden, who is believed to be holed up in the transit zone of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport, has applied for asylum in the South American country.

He flew to Russia from Hong Kong last Sunday.

Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino made the request, Rossiya 24 reported.

Ecuador has said Snowden would need to be on the country's territory to be granted refugee status.

But experts say this could also include the Ecuador embassy in Moscow.

To get there, the US citizen would have to pass through Russian border controls.

US authorities, however, have cancelled Snowden's passport and are demanding his extradition from Russia.

Russian parliamentary foreign affairs committee chairman Alexei Pushkov called the case "tragic".

"The idealist Snowden was apparently convinced that it would be like in a Hollywood movie: he would blow the whistle, and democracy would prevail," he wrote on Twitter. "But life and the US are harder."

Read more:

Ecuador Cancels US Trade Pact Over Repeated Threats

And just in case there were any doubts of what Ecuador was telling the Obama Administration, the nation's Communications Secretary, Fernando Alvarado, announced $23 million in Ecuadoran aid to the United States to provide "human rights training" to combat torture, illegal executions and "attacks on peoples' privacy."

Snowden Withdraws Russia Asylum Request, As Nine Countries Deny Application

Zero Hedge

bank guy in Brussels

Strange how Edward Snowden seems not to appreciate being safe, protected by Vladimir Putin from being jailed and tortured in America

Instead he is acting like a spoiled American kid, shopping for a different amusement park for himself ... he seems to be playing games with both the media and with governments

The financially-troubled UK Guardian is devious too ... Guardian desperate for funds and are trying to stretch out the Snowden story to sell more Google ads on their website

If real, Snowden should dump and publish everything he was intending to publish, so that is behind him and accomplished ... and then thank God and Putin for his safe refuge ... and start a new life, speaking Russian, drinking good vodka and meeting Russian girls


Guidelines for Edward Snowden and Anyone Escaping from the USA Seeking Asylum

(1) Recognise that it is basically difficult, and in general, no country wants any asylum seekers from anywhere, aside from

(2) There is nothing special about an oppressive country or a tinpot dictatorship. Maybe half the countries in the world or more, are oppressive to some groups, and there are at least a billion people who would like to escape to more freedom. Therefore, US oppressed people ... welcome to the club along with tens of millions of Africans etc. You are just like them now, not 'more special' than them because it is the US dictatorship oppressing you.

(3) Especially, almost no one desires asylum seekers from the US because of

(4) What is really crazy is to treat 'asylum' as if picking restaurants to visit. Countries do not want to go out of their way to 'invite' asylum candidates from 3rd countries who are 'shopping'. This goes double if you are from the USA.

(5) As an asylum seeker, you should take the attitude of some poor Asian or African ... you are lucky to be in a place where you are not imprisoned, tortured, or facing a fake political trial. Be grateful, and try to adjust to where you are. Do not be arrogant with your hosts or imagine you can be 'shopping' for a place you like better. Thank God you are not in US custody.

(6) A lot of traditional asylum avenues are secretly or openly closed to USA victims. Canada is now a US poodle, it is not like in Pierre Trudeau's day accepting Vietnam War objectors. They give asylum seekers back to the US. Ditto the UK. And organisations like Amnesty International have a secret deal with the US, to not help USA victims, so they can get CIA and US-based funding. There is little 'help' out there

(7) Countries have in fact accepted US asylum seekers who have already arrived in certain places, but basically quietly and without fanfare, trying to avoid openly provoking the US bully ... and the media and Google Inc also co-operate in hiding the fact these events are occurring. Papers are given using various 'cover' mechanisms (employment etc) rather than open direct political asylum. A big media storm changes the game, however, and makes this more difficult.

(8) The basic strategy for an American asylum seeker is to arrive and already be in a place where you will, in practice, be difficult to dislodge by legal means, because the local legal system has enough integrity and independence, to not ship you back to the USA. In retrospect, for Edward Snowden, France or Italy might actually have been the best choice - but only if Snowden was there already.

(9) The whole thing with Julian Assange in Britain, fearing extradition to the US from Sweden, never made any sense at all. Not because Sweden would not do it, but because Britain itself has a special 'easy extradition' treaty with the USA, requiring little or no evidence. When Assange was roaming around the UK, in fancy rich people's houses, before being in the Ecuador embassy, the US could have asked the UK to grab Assange and ship him out, easier than with any other country in the world. Something seems fishy.

(10) You are not even safe when you think you are safe - Refugee from US, wanted on criminal charges for 'illegally' playing chess in a country targeted by US sanctions (!), the anti-Zionist Jew Bobby Fischer, finally got refuge in Iceland after being jailed for a time in Japan. Shortly afterwards, Fischer was mysteriously dead, perhaps a victim of assassination by CIA-Mossad medical disease spray. Iceland is a Nato country where Nato and CIA agents can roam freely. The CIA has admitted that Western Europe is the only sector of the planet they hesitate to kill people - but they still do it here. A country like Russia or China or Cuba, where CIA agents cannot roam freely or hire assassins, is probably best from a securiy viewpoint

(11) Recommendations for Mr Snowden, if you are genuine: Be grateful for Russian hospitality, do not insult the only people who may be keeping you alive and out of prison. Be cautious about Assange and Wikileaks, and the sometimes highly-corrupt UK Guardian. Stop playing teasing media games with the Guardian, to draw out your leaks so they can sell Google Ads - the Guardian is desperate for cash. Instead, dump and publish everything you were going to publish, right now, leaving aside only your 'insurance' part to help keep you alive, and thus you can satisfy Mr Putin's condition about not causing more international problems for him. You are in Russia and Putin says you can stay. Thank him, profusely. Take a few quiet weeks, start learning Russian, maybe drink some Green Label Russian vodka with some attractive female Russian FSB agents. Calm down in safety. After a few weeks, as the media storm rolls over and dissipates, you will have wiser perspective, and can start your new life. You have a new home, treat it with respect. Many Russians are great people. Living there, working there, and still being free 5 years from now when maybe the US empire collapses, will be a great triumph.

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Tue, 07/02/2013 - 09:30 | 3713565 ziggy59

The inmates are truly running this asylum....


The Snowden revelations have not failed. If you were expecting the world to change the day the Telegraph published the disclosure, you may be disappointed with the lack of meaningful change. But, that's not how things work.

The world doesn't change in a day in drastic and obvious ways. Rather, it's a process that takes time. I like to think of applying a consistent and unrelenting pressure that weighs on a thing, and over some time, can truly change the world.

Snoweden didn't initiate the pressure, he simply increased it, just as all the attention and public outcry he sparked have done; just as all the other recent whistleblowers have done and all the future whistleblowers will do, and just as we do here.

Don't get discouraged. Keep applying pressure. As it continues to build, change will come. The established power will give, inch by inch (just as they incrementally take) like a pressure relief valve, so the whole machine doesn't explode. Either way we win, and the oppression of our age will be lifted.

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Tue, 07/02/2013 - 09:43 | 3713641 Temporalist

Pressure and Time
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Tue, 07/02/2013 - 09:33 | 3713589 TahoeBilly2012

Thr world sulks back into it Zionist slavery mindset...I am starting to think Russia isn't going to save Syria...

The "is he a hero or a traitor?" debate is indeed relevant

by Justin Raimondo, July 01, 2013

The debate provoked by Edward Snowden's revelations is drawing new battle lines in American politics, and redefining the image of the US in the eyes of the world. As Snowden's personal fate, and his dramatic hegira from a Hawaiian paradise to the world's drabbest airport, captures the narrative, we hear complaints from some of his defenders and sympathizers that all this is getting in the way of the revelations themselves. This is true in the very narrow sense that when we are discussing Snowden the person, we can't simultaneously discuss the system of globalized surveillance he unveiled. Yet this misses the point, one made by Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian reporter who broke the NSA story.

In a speech he gave the other day to a conference put on by the International Socialist Organization (ISO), Greenwald spoke for the first time in personal terms, and his account of how the story came to be and what Snowden is like as a human being is fascinating – and essential to understanding these events and the controversy they have provoked.

The process of interacting with and finally meeting Snowden in Hong Kong went on over months, and Greenwald tells us he began to visualize a mental picture of his source: older, a CIA officer nearing the end of his career and his life who'd had an attack of conscience as he prepared to meet his Maker. Greenwald was shocked to discover the most significant whistleblower in American history was a not yet 30-year-old who looked younger. Faced with a moral conundrum – should he break the biggest story of the decade at the price of irrevocably destroying someone's life? – Greenwald wanted to understand what motivated Snowden. They spent many hours together, with ex-litigator Greenwald grilling him not only about the documents in his possession and their significance but also about what motivated Snowden to end a near paradisiacal existence in Hawaii with his hot girlfriend making $122,000 a year:

"The more I spoke with him about it, the more I understood, and the more overwhelmed I became and the more of a formative experience it had for me and will have for the rest of my life because what he told me over and over in different ways – and it was so pure and passionate that I never doubted its authenticity for a moment – is that there is more to life than material comfort or career stability or trying to simply prolong your life as long possible. What he continuously told me is he judged his life not by the things he thought about himself but by the actions he took in pursuit of those beliefs."

Pundits left and right denounce the "traitor" Snowden as a "narcissist," yet people like David Brooks deliberately conflate narcissism with individualism, and "selfishness" with independence of mind. More to life than material comfort or career stability? No narcissist would ever say such a thing. A true narcissist is a moral nihilist for whom the existence of other people, let alone the principle enshrined by the Constitution, is irrelevant. Far from caring only about his own physical survival, here was somebody, as Greenwald points out, about "to throw all that away and become an instant fugitive and somebody who would probably spend the rest of their life in a cage." Why did he do it?

"When I asked him how he got himself to the point where he was willing to take the risk that he knew he was taking, he told me that he for a long time had been looking for a leader, somebody who would come and fix these problems. And then one day he realized there's no point in waiting for a leader, that leadership is about going first and setting and example for others. What he ultimately said was he simply didn't want to live in a world where the United States government was permitted to engage in these extraordinary invasions, to build a system that had as its goal the destruction of all individual privacy, that he didn't want to live in a world like that and that he could not in good conscience stand by and allow that to happen knowing that he had the power to help stop it."

This is why the new authoritarians embodied by this administration and its amen corner are in such a lather, not only over whistleblowers in general but about this one in particular: Snowden's example unlocks the realization that individual action can make a difference – a big difference. As the mighty American hegemon reels from the impact of his revelations, and pursues him without success over half the globe, Snowden's message is deadly dangerous to our rulers because it shows they are liars, they are vulnerable, and they can be beat.

Greenwald, clearly inspired by Snowden, has been a wonder to behold as he takes on the Powers That Be and brushes off a smear campaign aimed at him personally the way one would swat a gnat. It was, he explains, a life-transforming event not only to break this important story but to interact and learn from the person who made it possible. As he puts it:

"What I actually started to realize about all this is two things. Number one, courage is contagious. If you take a courageous step as an individual, you will literally change the world because you will affect all sorts of people in your immediate vicinity, who will then affect others and then affect others. You should never doubt your ability to change the world. The other thing that I realized is it doesn't matter who you are as an individual or how formidable or powerful the institutions that you want to challenge are. Mr. Snowden is a high school dropout. His parents work for the federal government. He grew up in a lower middle class environment in a military community in Virginia. He ended up enlisting in the United States Army because he thought the Iraq War at first was noble. He then did the same with the NSA and the CIA because he thought those institutions were noble. He's a person who has zero privilege, zero power, zero position and zero prestige and yet he by himself has literally changed the world."

What can one person do? This is the question that bedevils us all as we discover with a jolt how far along we are on the road to serfdom. After all, don't we have elected representatives to deal with this sort of thing, and judges, too, all of whom have sworn to uphold the Constitution?

Snowden has brought us face to face with the reality that these institutions have failed. Indeed, they are complicit in the de facto repeal of the Fourth Amendment, with the secret FISA "court" rubberstamping government demands for access to virtually all online content and telephony passing through the US, and Congress making this possible by amending the original legislation to legalize what the Bush administration had already been doing.

And these same people accuse Snowden of violating his "oath"!

Courage is contagious – and that accounts for the tremendous support Snowden has gotten, even in the face of an all-out government-media assault on him. That's why the White House petition to pardon him is the most successful petition in the entire history of that Obamaite publicity stunt, outdoing even the one demanding the deportation of Piers Morgan.

After the anti-Morgan effort reached the 25,000 signature threshold in a week, the White House quadrupled the number requiring a White House response. Yet the day after the NSA story broke, a White House petition acclaiming Snowden a "national hero" and demanding his pardon was posted and garnered a record number of signatures, breaking the 100,000 barrier in a little under a week. (Go here to see a graphical analysis.) With screams of "Traitor!" and calls not only for Snowden's prosecution but for the prosecution of Greenwald filling the airwaves – and coming from both sides of the political spectrum – this overwhelming show of support is unprecedented, and quite telling.

Because what it tells us is that the American people aren't mired in apathy and paralyzed by a sense of their own powerlessness: like Snowden, they don't want to live in a world in which the government has the power to watch their every move, chart their every thought, and control the very levers of their lives. They are contemptuous of the smear campaign being launched against Snowden and Greenwald, and they are demanding answers.

That the White House petition procedure was phony from the very beginning was obvious even to the most cynical Democratic party hack: the most "accessible," "inclusive," and "transparent" administration in our history is, in reality, the most arrogant, exclusive, opaque regime since the fall of the Soviet Union. But as the former community organizer who became President no doubt remembers, one of Saul Alinsky's "rules for radicals" is to turn the institutions and "democratic" pretenses of the Powers That Be against the very interests they are supposed to protect, and that is precisely what the anonymous person who started the White House petition has done quite successfully.

There, again, we see dramatized the lesson of not waiting for "leadership," of taking the initiative and using one's power as an individual to effect change – a principle that will be demonstrated again and again as this fight unfolds.

The White House petition passed 100,000 signatures over a week ago – yet still no response from the White House, where government officials are coming up with all kinds of excuses for the official silence. (See here, where, in a rare mention of the petition, the headline of an ABC News story says "Petition to Pardon Snowden to Receive White House Response," while the actual story says no such thing.) After being rebuffed by the Chinese and the Russians over Snowden's fate, and rebuked by our European allies for breaking into their computers, a Snowden-inspired popular rebellion on the home front is perhaps more than they can bear to acknowledge.

The breadth of this movement is impressive. For even as Greenwald spoke before a cheering crowd at a conference convoked in celebration of socialism, he was holding up as an exemplar of principled courage a man whose own politics are much closer to Ron Paul than Karl Marx. Snowden made two contributions totaling $500 to Paul's 2010 presidential campaign and, more significantly, his own rhetoric recalls Paul's libertarian imprecations against the Leviathan State. The lawyer retained by Snowden's father to represent his son's interests, Bruce Fein, a former associate deputy attorney general during the Reagan administration, is a prominent supporter of the Paul organization.

Whether this broad movement, which transcends the arbitrary limits of "left" and "right," has the depth to succeed, and mobilize millions behind its banner, remains to be see. But one thing I know is this: for the first time in a long time there's hope.


You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.

I've written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).

You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.

Read more by Justin Raimondo

[Jun 30, 2013] Why Innocent People Should Fear the NSA's PRISM Program by Thomas R. Eddlem


Why Innocent People Should Fear the NSA's PRISM Program

by Thomas R. Eddlem, July 01, 2013 The use of warrantless surveillance by the NSA has brought a wave of na๏ve statements from a segment of Americans who claim they have nothing to fear from NSA surveillance of their telephone calls and internet traffic because they've done nothing wrong.

Obviously, the NSA and its employees are capable of using any violation of law to intimidate or blackmail a voter or public official, such as the millions of Americans who have experimented with illegal drugs. In fact, the past three Presidents – Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton – would basically be ineligible for office on illegal drug use charges, based on their own published statements. And as Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) said in a June 24 op-ed for USA Today, the three would be "barely employable" under our current drug laws.

The NSA would also obviously be able to intimidate/blackmail anyone who has had an extra-marital affair, which could be a corrupting influence on a future Bill Clinton in office.

But what if you, like many who have said in recent weeks, have not broken the law or engaged in an extra-marital affair in recent years? What do you have to fear?

In fact, there's quite a bit to fear. Not everything embarrassing which can be used for blackmail or intimidation requires that a person have serious moral failings or to have committed crimes. In short, you have much to fear if you or anyone in your family have:

The list could go on much longer, but the point is that even innocent people have many things about their lives they do not want exposed.

And hundreds of thousands of people currently have access to this data. Consider that the NSA employs an estimated 40,000 people. Add a percentage of that number to the many officials in other federal security agencies (such as the CIA, FBI, DHS, U.S. Secret Service) and branches of the armed forces who would have access to the information. But that's only the tip of the iceberg. Consider that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden didn't even work for the NSA; he was employed by Booz Allen Hamilton, one of many technology subcontractors hired by the NSA. Tens of thousands of people who don't even work for the federal government, who instead work for private contractors, also have access to the information.

Ultimately, hundreds of thousands of government officials and private citizens would have access to the private information on every American citizen, and have the potential to blackmail and intimidate both innocent and guilty. All it would take is one – just one – of those several hundreds of thousands of government employees and contractors to have a grudge against you, or against an organization or political party you support.

Edward Snowden's revelations were a warning in a way that perhaps he did not intend. The takeaway from the Snowden scandal is that the NSA is already incapable of keeping its data secret from wayward employees. Snowden exposed this terrible power to the public, though he did so as a public service. But suppose the next employee who leaks is not so publicly-minded. Suppose he sends the personal files of leading Republican politicians to dirty Democratic Party operatives (or he's a Republican ideologue who sends files on Democratic politicians to leading Tea Party organizations).

The potential for abuse of this private information is not limited to grand political conspiracies, though the IRS scandal targeting Tea Party organizations is more than ample evidence that government officials have and are doing this (as was Richard Nixon's "enemies list" and Watergate scandal). Access to this data is available to people in many communities across the nation. What if a neighbor has access to the data and bears a grudge against you, punishing you with a controlled leak of embarrassing information about you or a family member throughout the neighborhood or to your employer?

Some people would say – despite the IRS scandal – that the cost and risk is worth it for increased safety from the threat of terrorism. But is the United States really safer by searching the phone records of grandmothers and corn farmers? The Fourth Amendment – which bans warrantless searches of the type in which the NSA is engaging – should be seen as a guideline for effective police and intelligence work.

The Fourth Amendment bans "unreasonable searches and seizures," and then defines what is meant by unreasonable:

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

In essence, the Fourth Amendment requires that searches have 1. a warrant from a judge, 2. evidence of probable cause, 3. the warrant signed by an official under the penalties of perjury, and 4. the warrant describes what officials are looking for and where they expect to find it.

Searches without probable cause are – by definition – searches of people who are probably innocent. And that's a tremendous waste of law enforcement/intelligence manpower and resources.

Perhaps the best example of this is the case of the Boston Marathon Bombing. Alleged Boston Marathon Bombers Tamerlin and Dzhokar Tsarnaev had been under the watchful gaze of the FBI in the years before the bombing, but the FBI did not devote sufficient resources to surveillance of these brothers, despite Tamerlin's increasingly radical rhetoric on-line. FBI surveillance of these likely suspects, despite diplomatic communication from Russia that they could be Islamic terrorists, was met by the wall of limited resources … tens of billions of dollars in resources that had been diverted to watching hundreds of millions of Americans who are not terrorists. The FBI simply didn't have the manpower to watch likely suspects because the NSA was spending that money checking up on unlikely suspects, like cataloging and storing your mom's emails and GPS data about her trip to the grocery store.

The question for Americans is not whether the the government can check up on all possibilities; that kind of analysis could never happen in a world of limited resources. The question is where anti-terrorism resources are best directed. The Fourth Amendment at least guarantees that tax dollars for preventing terrorism will be spent effectively, i.e., toward people where there is "probable cause" of criminality, while at the same time preventing the horrific kind of surveillance state that once plagued East Germany.

6-20-13 Daniel Ellsberg The Scott Horton Show By Scott

June 20, 2013

Posted in: Uncategorized

Daniel Ellsberg, author of Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers, discusses Bradley Manning's selective leaks that informed the public of criminal government behavior without endangering lives; Edward Snowden's bravery in the face of Obama's unprecedented crackdown on whistleblowers; why it's safe to assume the NSA records every single electronic communication; evidence that Robert McNamara kept LBJ in the dark about the true nature of the Gulf of Tonkin incident; why Obama persisted with an Afghan "surge" despite knowing it couldn't work; and the psychology of government secrecy.

Daniel Ellsberg The Scott Horton Show

June 20, 2013

Scott Horton Interviews Daniel Ellsberg

The Scott Horton Show

TRANSCRIPT (scroll all the way down for audio)

Scott Horton: All right, y'all. Welcome back to the show. It's the Scott Horton Show. I'm him. is my website. I keep all my interview archives there, more than 2800 of them now, going back to 2003. You can also follow me on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube at /scotthortonshow.

And our next guest on the show today is the American hero, Daniel Ellsberg, liberator of the Pentagon Papers, subject of the excellent documentary The Most Dangerous Man in America, author of the book Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers, which is so important, and you can read Chapter One for free online if you just google around a little bit, all about his first day on the job at the Pentagon in a certain position anyway, the day of the Gulf of Tonkin incident and a very first-person account of what happened there. Incredible stuff. And then he writes all over the place including for Truthdig, where he did a great series on nuclear weapons, and he's an antiwar activist of many descriptions and in many very important ways, courageous whistleblower and defender of courageous whistleblowers, Daniel Ellsberg. Welcome back to the show, Dan. How are you?

Daniel Ellsberg: I'm fine. Thanks for such a warm introduction.

Scott Horton: Well, I love you. What am I going to do? Play it down? Come on.

Daniel Ellsberg: Right, okay. Now it's out in the open. Okay, great.

Scott Horton: Okay, good. So. Let's talk about the American hero, Bradley Manning. He's halfway through a military trial right now. I don't know if you want to talk at all about, you know, where we are in the court process so far, or just about Manning in general.

Daniel Ellsberg: You know, because of the Snowden revelations here I haven't kept up as I should have, and will shortly, on the daily transcripts of that trial, so I'm not up on the very latest stuff on that. Have you been following it closely?

Scott Horton: I admit I've basically been keeping track through Nathan Fuller and have not read the transcripts myself either, but – although I could say that it seems as though the government's case is not very strong and that the cross-examination by the defense attorney has been very effective at undermining quite a few of the government's claims and in basically setting up the informant Adrian Lamo to admit that there was nothing nefarious here, the kid really meant well. There's just no doubt about it.

Daniel Ellsberg: Okay. Very good. You know, it's the group that I'm associated with on the board, the Freedom of the Press Foundation, that gathered money, collected money in order for there to be a transcript so it wouldn't be in effect a secret trial. So the transcripts are there. Now it's up to me to make use of them. So thanks for that summary.

Scott Horton: Yeah. Well, and of course, thanks to, Nathan Fuller, and all those other guys. They're doing great work there attending the trial, and I'm sorry, I can't remember the young woman's name who's done such great work on this.

Daniel Ellsberg: Alexa O'Brien.

Scott Horton: Alexa, exactly.

Daniel Ellsberg: Yeah. Was making a transcript earlier which was all the press had to work with.

Scott Horton: All right, now. You know, something really bothered me the other day, and it was one of these TV jerks was interviewing Glenn Greenwald and he was saying, "Well, now, so would you make the case then that this Snowden guy is somehow different and better than Bradley Manning, who after all is considered a terrible villain by so many people." And so that is the conventional wisdom. That's the consensus that everyone agrees, is that Bradley Manning actually is just a no-goodnik, and even if he did mean well, just think of what a sin it was to indiscriminately dump so many documents. I mean, they don't really have anything. That's the best that they have on him, I guess, but they want us to all just really cheer for the state in its crusade against this young man. What's your position on all that, Dan?

Daniel Ellsberg: You know, you don't see many national security whistleblowers who are identified to the public. Most leakers of classified material are anonymous and stay anonymous. So it's really a very small set of people whose names are known at all, and when they stick their heads up, when they do make themselves known or become known, the media on the whole shows a very puzzling willingness or determination to join the government in deprecating them, you know, and helping smear them in many ways and focusing on their personal foibles or their sexual life, whatever. This happened certainly with me, not so much on the sex. It so happens that Pat Buchanan and the White House reached the conclusion that publicizing what they knew about my sex life would, quote, "only increase his numbers." I was a bachelor at the time. So they chose not to use any of that. And they don't seem to have anything on Snowden.

But, for example, I noticed, having just seen this I would say terrible film, We Steal Secrets by Alex Gibney – rather incomprehensible why he made such a what I would call a bad film – but I notice that no mention was made of – there was ample time given to the charges that were made that Manning and Assange, before Manning's name was known, but that the source and Assange and WikiLeaks might have blood on their hands, or did have blood on their hands. No mention made of the fact that the Pentagon has repeatedly announced that they have no evidence of any blood resulting from these revelations, which is kind of relevant to those charges.

You know the fact is that there was a problematic aspect, I would say – I don't call it a fact; subjective here – but there was a problematic aspect, even my view initially, about Manning putting out a lot of material that he hadn't read. That has a bad ring to it. How can he know whether it's damaging or not? But you know, three years later, I've seen a lot of benefit come out from the cables that might well not have been – that he might not have read, and that might well not have been published by any one source, like the New York Times. For example, the corruption in Tunisia, which led to Arab Spring, really, which led to the downfall of Ben Ali in Tunisia, led to the nonviolent uprising against Mubarak. It's not at all clear that that would have come out if he had limited himself to the relatively small fraction that he could have read. And on the other hand, no damage whatever. I think we have to – I've changed my opinion on that, in other words.

Scott Horton: Well, you know –

Daniel Ellsberg: He did discriminate between what he did put out, which was only – and I say this in his terms and mine, only Secret. It was not Top Secret, it was not communications intelligence, to both of which he had access. Almost no one seems to realize that his daily work involved communications intelligence higher than Top Secret and Top Secret material, none of which he put out. So whether he should have or not, he was very discriminating in what he put out, just as I was and just as Snowden is.

Scott Horton: Right.

Daniel Ellsberg: The public is – I don't know anyone who's made that simple point.

Scott Horton: Right. Well, you know, he has in his guilty plea to the facts on the lesser charges –

Daniel Ellsberg: – finally in court when he made his statement. And I believe, by the way, that to hear from him make a statement like that showing what he had put out and what he had not put out, was one of his reasons for making that guilty plea. It was not part of a bargain. It was puzzling to a lot of lawyers why you'd plead guilty to 10 out of 22 charges without any kind of plea bargain, without getting anything back, but I think one of the reasons was to make that point that he had selected what he had put out and felt that the material was only Secret, not even Limdis, Nodis, Exdis – those are distributional restrictions that are put on things – that he presumed that at most it would be embarrassing, and that it would not hurt security. That judgment seems to have been vindicated; after three years, no evidence of damage.

And meanwhile I think his other reason was to say very clearly he had not been induced to do this by WikiLeaks; the idea of a conspiracy there on the part of WikiLeaks was simply invalid and he wanted to say that under oath as clearly as he could. Just as I did when I submitted to arrest, I took public acknowledgement of all the facts that I had done, all the actions that I had done, so that I could say, "I did this on my own. I didn't tell anyone who might otherwise be suspected of helping me. They had no part in it." And that didn't relieve them of all suspicion, but it helped, I'm sure. At least that's what I wanted to do. And Snowden has done the same. Snowden has taken advantage of revealing himself to say that his partner, his girlfriend in Hawaii, did not know anything of what he was doing, to try to relieve the pressure on her and on his family.

Scott Horton: Okay, well, and we're going to get back to him here in a few. But let me ask you this. I've been making the case, and I guess I'm basically cribbing from Kevin Zeese, the lawyer, on this, that Manning's mistreatment at Quantico, his being held for three years before his court martial was even begun, and the fact that the president – I mean this to me is just the icing on the cake even more than the abuse in prison I think – the president, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the three highest ranking people in the military chain of command, all have pronounced Manning guilty. And it seems to me that any honest judge would have to admit that that is a direct order to his judge to convict, and how else is she to possibly interpret that? And so he must be set free, Dan. But, then again, I don't know. Am I going, you know, off the reservation here? What do you think?

Daniel Ellsberg: No, you're absolutely right. He should be free on both counts, just as my charges were dropped when it was revealed that Nixon's White House had taken steps against me that were criminal and impeachable actually and figured in his impeachment proceedings and, as the judge put it, "offends a sense of justice." Well, of course Manning's treatment has offended a sense of justice. But when you say "must be set free," well, that position has been raised, all of that has been raised, and the court, the judge decided that on the basis of his being held under conditions that the UN Rapporteur for Torture regarded as at least cruel, inhumane treatment and possibly torture, as a result of that they would take 112 days off of his sentence, which might be a life sentence. So I suppose, you know, he gets three months off when he's in terminal conditions of some kind.

But meanwhile, the treatment of him, and the pronouncements by everybody here, like – I'm talking about Snowden now – have convinced Snowden, and I think very realistically, that if he wanted to be able to tell the public what he had done and why he had done it and what his motives were and what the patterns of criminality were in the material that he was releasing, it had to be outside the United States. Otherwise he would be in perhaps the same cell that Bradley Manning was, and that's a military cell. The NDAA, National Defense Authorization Act, permits military custody indefinitely of an American citizen who's a civilian, and Snowden could very well find himself at Quantico, naked perhaps like Bradley was for a while, and be really incommunicado, as Bradley has been for three years with the single exception of being allowed to make a statement when he pled guilty to 10 charges. And that's the only chance he had to speak out. So I think Snowden has learned from that example.

When it comes to being pronounced guilty, the head of the intelligence committee here, Senator Dianne Feinstein, has said this is an act of treason, indicating that she has probably never read the definition of treason in the Constitution, in her Constitution, in our Constitution, which involves the element of adhering to an enemy of the United States, which no one is claiming that Snowden has done, or that Manning has done. He's not going to be charged with treason, as a matter of fact, but the word can be used as a smear, and of course the effect of that on a potential jury is very significant. Of course the word is being used very commonly about him and Manning, and me for that matter, by Cheney and others that you'd expect it from.

Scott Horton: Right. Okay, and now one more thing before we get too far into the Snowden thing, back to Manning here.

Daniel Ellsberg: Yeah.

Scott Horton: This is something that we've discussed in the past, but I think it's so important to get on the record, especially here in the middle of his military court martial and everything, and that was the final straw that made him do this, as he explained to the informant Adrian Lamo, was that he had been ordered not just to look at pieces of paper or watch videos and review war crimes committed by others, he had been ordered to participate in them. He had been ordered to help the Iraqi government imprison – capture – abduct people for the crime of writing op-ed pieces wondering specifically where did the money go, about corruption in downtown Baghdad.

Daniel Ellsberg: And he knew would be tortured by the people we were turning them over to.

Scott Horton: Right.

Daniel Ellsberg: No, not only was the action of turning them over to torturers illegal, criminal, but so was the order to not investigate it further, which was what he was asking for, not to stop the process but to continue to get more people to hand over more suspects. As he put it, summed it up, "I was actively participating in something I was totally against." And the challenge he makes to every person, really, on the planet, and every American citizen, everybody in the armed services or the government, but all of us really: Do we feel that what is happening, being done in our name and with our tax dollars, is something that is legal, moral, ethical, something that we should be doing, prudent? Or are you one of those like me who finds it reckless, immoral and in many cases criminal? The question then is, what do you do about it? And Manning put his life on the line. I think it was appropriate. The stakes justified that kind of personal risk, and the same is true of Snowden. The stakes – we're coming back to him I guess, but, I'm saying the stakes, as they were for me, were worth a person's life.

Scott Horton: Right. I mean this is the thing, and we've talked about this for years before anybody ever heard of Manning or Snowden. Obviously you've been talking about this since before I was born, but you've been talking about this with me since 2004 or 2005, something like that, and that is that when we're talking about these imperial wars of occupation, of aggressive war and invasion in other people's countries, that the soldiers have a duty to liberate this information and publish it and make sure that the Post or the Times or Greenwald or Julian Assange or somebody can get their hands on it, because the mission is wrong. What they're doing is wrong. The empire is wrong.

Daniel Ellsberg: The orders, they're expected to give the benefit of the doubt to an order that it's legal that they get, and they certainly do that, and that's understandable in a military context in particular and really pretty much everybody in government. But a lot of orders that have come down in my lifetime, and in the last 10 years and before that, are blatantly illegal, blatantly unconstitutional. The orders to torture, to hand over people for torture, to fail to investigate that, are blatantly illegal, and everybody obeyed that except Bradley Manning that we know of. If somebody else has refused any of those things –

Actually there have been, I would say, one or two people who have exposed it, so let me take that back. Joe Darby, of course, who had to go under a witness protection system for a while here, having exposed the torture at Abu Ghraib. Sam Provance, likewise, was demoted and threatened with court martial for doing that. So there have been a few people who spoke out. General Taguba, actually, his career was ended when he asserted that what we were doing was blatantly illegal, and that ended his career.

So the punishment is clear enough, but the stakes actually make that worthwhile. What are you here on earth for? What is your life for and what is it worth? For what will you risk and sacrifice? And many people ask themselves that. They can think, they should be able to think of a number of things. But giving up their career in order to save the Constitution or to save tens, hundreds of thousands of people from death in wrongful wars or needless wars would seem to me it should be one of those things. It doesn't seem – people just don't ask themselves the question. I think if more people asked the question posed by Manning or Snowden of what they ought to do in this situation, they wouldn't all do it, but some of them would.

Scott Horton: Right. I mean I think of it, you know, in terms of – and I don't know what the prison sentence really is, but would you rather have a couple of years patrolling in Afghanistan helping the Delta Force do night raids and maybe getting your legs blown off by a land mine when you've got no business there in the first place, or do a few years in the brig for doing the right thing and telling the people the truth, you know? Which is more courageous?

Daniel Ellsberg: Well, Manning was in a base that I just saw in the movie that was described as perhaps the safest in Iraq. It was far from any – there'd been no enemy action whatever, so he wasn't exactly risking his limbs there. And he's not risking just a few years of course. He's risking his life.

Scott Horton: Well, that's true.

Daniel Ellsberg: But you're right, though. Most people do not have information that poses them with that kind of risk and they don't take any risk at all. That seems to be the normal, ordinary thing. I think that's a human characteristic and one reason that we're on our way, in my belief, to extinction, with the threat of nuclear winter, nuclear war, still with us and the climate changes that are confronting us, and the population. And I think a species that has so much capability for destruction, for damage, and so constrained in ability to care about people outside our own group, ourselves, our family, our team, our organization or our nation – it's very clear, by the way, that Manning, and very particularly, was concerned about the non-Americans who were being harmed by all this. And that's in a way what people like Cheney and others mean when they say treason. To care at all about what we're doing to other people is in their minds a form of treason. And unfortunately too many people share that. But some people have awakened, and unless more wake up from that, to that kind of concern, we've had it. This species is going to go and take an awful lot of other species with it.

Scott Horton: Yeah. Well, you know, the thing is, it's in the dark times that, you know, there's always you find the silver lining too, right? For example, you've got this guy Snowden who certainly must have heard your call at some point. You know what I mean? He's not ignorant of Dan Ellsberg, this guy.

Daniel Ellsberg: Well he did – he said he admired Ellsberg and Manning.

Scott Horton: There you go.

Daniel Ellsberg: I was very glad to be in that company. But that sounded as though – unlike Manning who was probably too young to have heard my name at all, and Assange, who was born the week I was eluding the FBI actually back in 1971, though he heard about it from his mother, his antiwar mother. But I was glad to hear that probably the example had not deterred him, because both of us of course were put on trial, facing a life sentence, Manning and I. Manning is very likely to get it. I lucked out in many ways in that the crimes against me came out in time to spare me that life sentence. But Snowden was not deterred from that, and frankly that was something that was a surprise to me. I was just reading a book here, This Machine Kills Secrets by Andy Greenberg, which mentioned at the end of one chapter, well, given this digital era, there will be more Bradley Mannings. And having just read that, I have to admit I said to myself, "Yeah, don't hold your breath. When people see what's happened to Manning, people aren't going to rush to join him." And it didn't take long for Snowden to come along and expose himself to exactly the same risk as Manning. That gives me hope, more hope than I've had for a long time, that there will be others who show that kind of civil courage on which I keep saying – and it may sound like hyperbole but in my mind it's not – civil courage on which our species' survival depends.

Scott Horton: Well, you got to be pleased by some of these polls have, you know, give or take – I know they come back with different numbers but give or take half the country says that this Snowden guy obviously is siding with them against their government. Right? They don't believe for a minute this hokum that their government is them.

Daniel Ellsberg: I am encouraged by that. And by the way, just minutes before this call, here's what's easy to do now these days, I just signed a digital petition that Barbara Lee has put out for repealing the Authorization for the Use of Military Force that was signed without any – just by reflex, by everyone but her, Barbara Lee of Oakland, back in 2001, and she wants to repeal that since it's be used, as she says, to support torture, kidnapping, drone assassination, other invasions and whatnot ever since. She says it's time to cut that back. So there's a, I think it is, petition where Barbara Lee, to support her bill to repeal that.

But your point in general on the polls, there is an encouraging side to that, and I'll tell you something kind of funny in a way. People have drawn attention to the fact that whereas the overall polling on this has not changed on whether you believe in the government having all the data on the telephone calls of everyone (and I would say that includes the content as well though that hasn't been admitted yet) – what do you think about that? The polls are about the same as they were back when that was first revealed in 2005 by the New York Times, but the position, the relative position of Democrats and Republicans, has reversed almost in terms of the numbers, the relative proportion. Back in 2005 most Democrats opposed that under Bush and most Republicans supported it. Now most Republicans oppose this right now and most Democrats support it. So they reversed. Well, that looks on the first glance like simple partisan hypocrisy. But there's another way to see it. In a way they're both right. The Republicans correctly distrust those powers in the hands of a president that isn't of their own party, and they're right. And the Democrats don't trust these powers; they can see room for abuse, when it's a president of the other party, of the Republicans. Both right. Their only mistake is they're willing to trust it if it's in the hands of a president of their own party.

Scott Horton: Right.

Daniel Ellsberg: There they're wrong. And that's a naivet้ that doesn't do them credit. But maybe they can wake up from that delusion.

Scott Horton: Right. Well, you know, I think that's still the margin, right? That's the swing voters in the middle. There are still a lot of people who hate this no matter who's in charge.

Daniel Ellsberg: That's true. Yes, that is true.

Scott Horton: Well, and I'm just having a good day today, I guess. I'm more optimistic than usual. I'm sounding like it anyway.

Daniel Ellsberg: Yeah. Well there I hate to tell you but there are also those people who trust whoever's in charge.

Scott Horton: Right. Yeah, exactly.

Daniel Ellsberg: Sorry to tell you that, but. No, actually, I am hopeful at the reaction to this, but we'll see how long it lasts. The administration I'm sure is counting on its going away. Even Frank Rich was predicting that this was an interest of the moment but it'll be over by August. Well, it's up to us to see in a way whether we keep this one burning or not. I think there's going to be a lot more revelations by Snowden, and that'll keep it going, I think. Given that he's not in the country.

Scott Horton: Right. I mean, according to Greenwald, he's got a dozen more stories coming, minimum, so.

Daniel Ellsberg: My strong guess is that what we're going to learn is that the recording of data, the storing of data, is not at all limited to, quote, metadata or to foreigners, with PRISM or anything like that. I think they're what I would call collecting, that is recording, listening, recording and storing everything, everything. What we're saying right now, of course. But for example William Binney, formerly of NSA for over 30 years, says the million-square-foot place they're building in Bluffdale, Utah, NSA is building, is – he's made some real calculations as to what that's meant to store. And he said if all they were storing was text, for example, or metadata, a small room would suffice for virtually the whole world with the storage capability they have now. He said when you want 100,000 square feet, 10% of that million square feet they're doing, he said that's clearly for video and audio. And that means everything.

And when they say, when the president says, "We're not listening to your calls," he speaks with forked tongue there because what he means is "We're not listening live" – obviously, it would take the whole population to be doing that, but he's not saying, "We're not storing it for later listening at our leisure with our feet up in front of the fire poring over whatever we want to of what you have." And I think when Keith Alexander and Hayden and these other people involved assure us that they're not collecting – oh, who was it? It was Clapper. Clapper said, "We're not collecting information on millions of Americans, which at first sounds like a simple lie in the face of what Snowden has revealed here; they are collecting data on hundreds of millions of Americans. But he explains, "Well, by collecting, I don't mean just recording it. Collecting to me is when you pull up the file and you analyze it and you transcribe it, you know, something that happens later. Well, as he said it was the least untruthful answer he could give to the question, are you collecting data on millions of Americans?, a less untruthful answer would have been – he said no, and a less untruthful answer would have been yes.

But that's the point I'm making here. I think they are still conning us into believing that the content of our e-mails and our phone calls and our chat logs and everything else is inaccessible to them where they're not recording it, they're not keeping it. I think that's simply false. They have everything.

Scott Horton: Right. Well you know, I think the part of that that sounds the most fantastic is that they could keep all the audio from all the phone calls, that kind of thing, but I was talking this over with James Bamford, and you know telephone, regular land line, copper land line telephone, that's only 14k, which is very low quality really. It's good enough for the human voice but you couldn't listen to a symphony orchestra over it, right? It doesn't sound very good really. But it sure is enough. And they could probably, you know, with all the different audio codecs in the world, they cold probably zip down the average telephone call to nothing almost, you know what I mean? And then they can, you know, as you said, the storage space required, they've got it.

Daniel Ellsberg: Well, maybe what they want is to assure that the best quality recording of all the symphonic music in the world will be in Bluffdale, Utah, so that I hope it's deep, deep underground so that after the nuclear winter, whoever succeeds us will have access to, you know, really good acoustics.

* * *

Scott Horton: Let me ask you this. I could go back and read the book again, but I got Dan Ellsberg on the phone. Did McNamara lie to LBJ about what happened the second so-called Gulf of Tonkin attack mistake, or did they both lie together?

Daniel Ellsberg: Why do you ask? I'm interested.

Scott Horton: Well, one of our favorite reporters tells me his interpretation is that McNamara got the message that you got, that "Oops, sorry, we were listening to our own propeller," but that McNamara fooled LBJ into, and basically didn't update him that oops it was all a mistake.

Daniel Ellsberg: Well, that is the conclusion of Gareth Porter –

Scott Horton: That's my friend, our friend I'm citing there, yeah. Now I'm asking you.

Daniel Ellsberg: – in his book, and frankly I was very resistant to that interpretation, having lived through the events. It just didn't, it sounded hardly possible to me, partly because I thought, well I read the cable that said "Hold everything," you know, "every previous report is in error, in question here," of the reports of torpedoes that were coming through. So I said, "If I read that, how could the president not know it?" And then, as he showed me the detail of what we now know [were] the president's phone calls between the Pentagon, where I was, and the White House, there's no actual indication that McNamara, who did have that cable along with me, did pass that information on to the president. And I was very struck by how careful his analysis was. And it did look possible that, as he put it, that the president did really want to be absolutely sure that there had been an attack and that McNamara was willing to go with a much lower level of evidence. In fact there was no attack, so the evidence they had was wrong, as in the case of WMDs in Iraq. But wrong or right, there was a certain degree of alleged evidence.

Certainly both of them – well, again, I don't know whether the president was fully aware here. Certainly McNamara did lie to the public when he said the evidence was unequivocal, just as when Rumsfeld said that the evidence of WMDs, "We know where they, here's where they are, these are facts," and Powell said the same. That was a clear-cut lie that the evidence was strong and unequivocal, you know, on the very face of it. It was extremely weak and very equivocal. That was true in both cases. So they certainly did lie. The president, I have to acknowledge now, may or may not have known, in which case McNamara really did have a lot more to bear on his conscience than I realized, which is perhaps why he absolutely refused to discuss Vietnam for some 30 years, and eventually did write, he said, "We were wrong about the war," in his book In Retrospect, but I was told by the publisher of that book that they had to force those words out of him. He was not willing to sign that – a little piece of inside gossip here, that Peter Osnos, his publisher, told me that they had told him they would not publish the book unless he was willing to say those words, and so he did. Which is to his credit that he finally did. He was the only person who said that, out of the administration. And we were all wrong, and that we includes me.

Scott Horton: Well, and LBJ, he was looking for an excuse anyway, right? He didn't have to escalate that war, even if –

Daniel Ellsberg: No, no –

Scott Horton: – McNamara did fool him.

Daniel Ellsberg: But I assumed. He was looking – he was expecting to expand the war, yes. Definitely. But he was a skeptic on the bombing. That is one of the things that brought me around in a way to Gareth Porter's point of view on Tonkin Gulf eventually, that McNamara, McNamara was openly pushing for the bombing. I knew that. I have never been clear why. And LBJ was saying, according to my boss, who would come back from meetings in the White House, LBJ would say "your bombing bullshit." And LBJ was properly skeptical on the bombing. The bombing was a crazy idea, basically. I think – just a conjecture – I think that McNamara thought the bombing would get us into negotiations in which we'd be able to make a deal. Which was unrealistic, but that's why he wanted it. But of course the military wanted the bombing because they wanted a much bigger program of bombing, so they wanted a foot in the door, which was all that LBJ gave them at first. But LBJ was not anxious to do the bombing. What he was anxious to do though was not to lose the war, and he was ready to put troops in, which McNamara was realistically resistant to. So the president was pushing for troops, McNamara was pushing for bombing, they compromised on both, and of course catastrophe followed.

Scott Horton: Right. Instead of doing neither, they did both, yeah exactly. That's the same way it always works. That's called "bipartisanship." Oh well.

Daniel Ellsberg: Yeah. I think that Obama likewise was very resistant to putting a surge into Afghanistan, the last 30 to 40,000 troops, but he did it. In other words, he could see that it wasn't going to accomplish anything, all of his personal military advisers told him that, but he did not want to get into a fight with Petraeus and McChrystal in the midst of his health insurance program and so he sent 30,000 more troops to kill and die in Afghanistan. That's the way it goes. And that's the kind of secrecy, and the obvious need for secrecy – the fact that his advice was not to do it had to be kept secret –

Scott Horton: Right.

Daniel Ellsberg: – his advice from people other than Petraeus and McChrystal –

Scott Horton: Yeah, you know, wait, I just want to interrupt you for –

Daniel Ellsberg: – and so his position was, "give the generals whatever they want." So that kind of internal controversy is the biggest secret because it raises questions as to whether this policy is really wise or necessary. And all presidents prefer the public to think, "I had no choice, don't blame me, there really was no alternative, all of my advisers agreed that I had to do this," and so forth. The fact that that's false is one of the greatest secrets, and that's the reason we need whistleblowers. It's not properly classified, but it is classified and that secrecy is kept to the death so tenaciously, so the only way we ever learn is when some future president decides that it's in his favor to give the leak to somebody. Actually it so happens that Bob Woodward did come out with all those top secrets eventually, having apparently been given a green light by Obama to show that he really hadn't wanted to do this but the military made him do it.

Scott Horton: Right. I was going to say, because it sounded at first as though, just the language you used, it sounded almost as though you were speculating, but I just wanted to point out that the publisher, Rothkopf, of wrote an article just like that about how it was all about domestic politics and he [Obama] knew better, and there's a book Little America that was serialized in the Washington Post that says that he specifically refused to read a CIA report that he already knew said "Don't bother 'surging' because it's not going to work," and then there's one of Holbrooke's guys who talked all about how the political hacks in the White House ran the entire Afghan policy and the only policy was to just prolong the status quo forever and not actually work at doing anything, just surge, not to win but surge just to prolong.

Daniel Ellsberg: Look, that sounds – of course it is in line with my own understanding of it, but I didn't know any of those references, and I'm very interested in it, and so after the program could I ask you to send me links for those?

Scott Horton: Sure, and I guess now I got to read Bob Woodward, which I didn't want to do, Dan, thanks a lot.

Daniel Ellsberg: Well, whatever. But, no, the particular ones you just mentioned all sounded very interesting. I'll add one to that – well, by the way, Holbrooke's dying words, literally dying words, his last words, were said in one story to be, I don't have it exactly, something to the effect, "Get out of Afghanistan." But that's quite possible, because I knew Holbrooke when he was a young foreign service officer, one of the few who spoke Vietnamese, in Vietnam. And he had been all over Vietnam. He knew the score very well. I was certain that he had to perceive Afghanistan in exactly the same terms. The conditions – there were differences. The language we didn't speak was, you know, different from Vietnam. The terrain was different. The temperature was different. But the crucial aspects of it were so similar in terms of a hopeless war that I knew that Holbrooke had to see that. He couldn't have forgotten that. Well, when Obama's War comes out by Bob Woodward, he quotes, not directly but from somebody else, he quotes Holbrooke as saying of the surge, he says he was the most pessimistic, three words, "It can't work." And he was Obama's, in principle his top man, his plenipotentiary, on Iraq and Afghanistan. So Holbrooke of course doesn't tell the public that, ever, doesn't come out and say – because he's the president's man, he's an insider. He doesn't tell us that "I've given the president my opinion that this can't work." And he wasn't the only one. Nearly everybody inside said that. Even Rahm Emanuel, and definitely Biden for example. Everybody but Hillary and Gates actually, who were for it. So we don't hear that.

I'll tell you one other thing. Holbrooke, knowing Vietnam as well as he did and having worked on the Pentagon Papers, was the one person that I went to to try to persuade to make a united front, not to put out the papers but to come out publicly and from within the government and say, "The war is hopeless, we've got to end it, we've got to negotiate a deal here," various kinds. And I did present that to him. And he was at that point in the Peace Corps. He, because of his disillusionment with war, he had left the ranks of the foreign service officers in there and was working in the Peace Corps in Morocco. And he knew what I was saying, and we saw eye to eye on the war exactly, and he just clearly wasn't willing to do anything like that, make any public statement, take any public stance, because he wanted to be the president's plenipotentiary on Iraq and Afghanistan someday. And you cannot come out against your president's policy and get a job even under another president. You won't be trusted to keep your mouth shut, no matter what, no matter how disastrous the course is. That's the test of being reliable, faithful, trustworthy – namely, you may criticize inside but you won't tell an outsider, like Congress or the press or the public, that we're lying or that we're in a hopeless situation, no matter what it is. And I keep coming back to the point, even if nuclear war is at risk, as it wasn't in that particular case, but –

Scott Horton: Right. And you know, I got to say, that's one of the most important lessons that I remember out of your memoir of Vietnam, Secrets it's called, that really stuck with me is the psychology of being an insider and just waiting and hoping, "If I can influence my boss a little and he can influence his boss a little – and after all, all those little people out there," as you say, including Congress, "they don't have the Top Secret access. They don't know what we know. So we don't have any reason to listen to any outside open source type wisdom because none of those people have anything like the access we have, so it's up to us wise people on the inside to stay on the inside and do our very best." And you can, really, as you're saying, you can actually have the extinction of mankind in a thermonuclear war based on that kind of bureaucratic psychology of "We're the insiders, we know better, blah blah blah," just because they're bureaucrats, just executive branch bureaucrats, makes them the kings of the universe.

Daniel Ellsberg: Well, you know, just, and maybe I'll make this my last thought, if I may.

Scott Horton: Sure.

Daniel Ellsberg: Coming back to Manning and Snowden, and actually I was the same on this point. Snowden is called arrogant, for example, because he took it on himself to put out this information, and even the president makes that point. Well, Snowden explicitly makes the very point. "I'm an ordinary guy," he says. "I'm an ordinary guy. I'm an American. I'm not a traitor or a hero, I'm an American, I'm just another guy sitting at a desk reading this stuff." Obviously Manning did not have grandiose notions of himself, he was tormented in his personal life, but each of them looked at this and said, "Here I have this information and the public doesn't. Why should I, sitting at this desk, know all this stuff with these clearances that the public needs to know and senators need to know, and senators don't have it?" And by the way we know that because a number of senators have been saying since Snowden's revelation, "I've learned more in the last 10 days than in the last 10 years of what NSA is doing."

So the idea that, "Oh, we knew all this stuff, there's nothing unusual here, or hurry on folks, keep moving, there's nothing to see here," is one point, and then on the other point, a little contradictory, they say, "Super Top Secret, higher than Top Secret" – the latter is really true. They haven't been putting this out.

And Snowden was saying, "I don't think it's right that I can sit at this desk and task the system to get the e-mails with the entire record and all the details of anybody in the country from the president on down." He said, "It's not only a question of my knowing it and the other people not knowing it. My being able to do this and to know this is not right. And there's a thousand people like me who can do this. And that's not," he said, "that's not a country I want to live in." And Manning the same, saying, he says to Adrian Lamo, "This kind of information – horrible," he says, "criminal." He said, "Should it just be sitting in a safe here somewhere, in a dusty safe, or should it be out for the people to know?" And of course I felt the same back with the Pentagon Papers. Why should I at the Rand Corporation have this history when literally the Senate cannot get it? So, you know, that's not the way it should be.

And it turns out that when you make that perception of yourself, that you have the capability to tell a truth that will help save some lives or preserve our democracy – and you don't have to be in the government to have that feeling. Think of all the people who over the generations have contributed to cancer of hundreds of millions, in the tobacco industry, and never told about it. Or asbestos, or Vioxx, or all the other things that are going on. And the people in the government who knew about global warming and were sat on and muffled and so forth. It isn't that unusual to know a truth that would be of great benefit to some other people, that is to say would save them from torment or in terms of illness or keep us free, things like that, if you're willing to take a risk of your own life, of your own personal life. If more people – you're not going to get a lot of people willing to do it, but if you have more than we've had who follow like Snowden or Manning, on a lesser scale perhaps, we would be a lot safer and a lot freer than we are on the way to becoming.

Scott Horton: Thank you very much for your time today, Dan. I really appreciate it.

Daniel Ellsberg: Thank you, Scott, for the opportunity.

Scott Horton: Everybody, that is the great Daniel Ellsberg, liberator of the Pentagon Papers, author of Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers, and his website of course is, I might have forgot to mention that at the beginning, You can read Chapter One of Secrets, all about his big day, first day on the job in this new position at the Pentagon the day of the Gulf of Tonkin nonattack, the second so-called attack there. And follow him on Twitter.

That's it for the show. Thanks everybody for listening. We'll see you tomorrow here, 11 to 1 Texas time, and