Then, the larger question for all of us becomes: To what end?

A little less than 3 years ago, I commented about the unfolding episode of WikLeaks.
[...] a smart young man, driven by patriotism, enlists with the Army, yet his self-control breaks when he gets deployed and sees our relations with the world out there being so different from what we espouse at home?
Now, Edward Snowden, another young American man driven by patriotism, has done it again.  To outsiders, this may be another symptom of the two-dimensional American hero that overfills American cultural productions: self-appointed at defending some Constitutional article or even the planet from the dark force.  On second analysis, Snowden is no dummy.  Just consider the choice of Hong Kong, a place outside western reach where China rules, even more so than N. Korea.  Also the timing of his coming out is interesting as the US and PRC presidents are meeting in California to build rapport and tackle the cyber-security threats, among other topics.  If he's got as much data in his hands as he alludes to in the following interview, the US will have to cut a deal, or else this guy will go to the highest bidder.

As Americans, young and old, progressive and libertarian, have been disappointed by Obama, the changer in chief, one should expect that this episode is only another data-point in a tug of war pitting a government clueless at the challenges it faces and people who take each and every constitutional article seriously.

From the interview with Snowden, included below, we get once again the idea that the US Government records everything, which has most probably become current procedure in every country with the means at its disposal.  Then, the larger question for all of us becomes:  To what end?  Is it only because they can, or because a watched people tends to remain quiet for longer?    

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden: 'I don't want to live in a society that does these sort of things'

Edward Snowden was interviewed over several days in Hong Kong by Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill.
Q: Why did you decide to become a whistleblower?
A: "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.
"I don't want to live in a society that does these sort of things … 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."
Q: But isn't there a need for surveillance to try to reduce the chances of terrorist attacks such as Boston?
A: "We have to decide why terrorism is a new threat. There has always been terrorism. Boston was a criminal act. It was not about surveillance but good, old-fashioned police work. The police are very good at what they do."
Q: Do you see yourself as another Bradley Manning?
A: "Manning was a classic whistleblower. He was inspired by the public good."
Q: Do you think what you have done is a crime?
A: "We have seen enough criminality on the part of government. It is hypocritical to make this allegation against me. They have narrowed the public sphere of influence."
Q: What do you think is going to happen to you?
A: "Nothing good."
Q: Why Hong Kong?
A: "I think it is really tragic that an American has to move to a place that has a reputation for less freedom. Still, Hong Kong has a reputation for freedom in spite of the People's Republic of China. It has a strong tradition of free speech."
Q: What do the leaked documents reveal?
A: "That the NSA routinely lies in response to congressional inquiries about the scope of surveillance in America. I believe that when [senator Ron] Wyden and [senator Mark] Udall asked about the scale of this, they [the NSA] said it did not have the tools to provide an answer. We do have the tools and I have maps showing where people have been scrutinised most. We collect more digital communications from America than we do from the Russians."

Snowden is a 29-year-old former technical assistant for the CIA

Q: What about the Obama administration's protests about hacking by China?
A: "We hack everyone everywhere. We like to make a distinction between us and the others. But we are in almost every country in the world. We are not at war with these countries."
Q: Is it possible to put security in place to protect against state surveillance?
A: "You are not even aware of what is possible. The extent of their capabilities is horrifying. We can plant bugs in machines. Once you go on the network, I can identify your machine. You will never be safe whatever protections you put in place."
Q: Does your family know you are planning this?
A: "No. My family does not know what is happening … My primary fear is that they will come after my family, my friends, my partner. Anyone I have a relationship with …
I will have to live with that for the rest of my life. I am not going to be able to communicate with them. They [the authorities] will act aggressively against anyone who has known me. That keeps me up at night."
Q: When did you decide to leak the documents?
A: "You see things that may be disturbing. When you see everything you realise that some of these things are abusive. The awareness of wrong-doing builds up. There was not one morning when I woke up [and decided this is it]. It was a natural process.
"A lot of people in 2008 voted for Obama. I did not vote for him. I voted for a third party. But I believed in Obama's promises. I was going to disclose it [but waited because of his election]. He continued with the policies of his predecessor."
Q: What is your reaction to Obama denouncing the leaks on Friday while welcoming a debate on the balance between security and openness?
A: "My immediate reaction was he was having difficulty in defending it himself. He was trying to defend the unjustifiable and he knew it."
Q: What about the response in general to the disclosures?
A: "I have been surprised and pleased to see the public has reacted so strongly in defence of these rights that are being suppressed in the name of security. It is not like Occupy Wall Street but there is a grassroots movement to take to the streets on July 4 in defence of the Fourth Amendment called Restore The Fourth Amendment and it grew out of Reddit. The response over the internet has been huge and supportive."
Q: Washington-based foreign affairs analyst Steve Clemons said he overheard at the capital's Dulles airport four men discussing an intelligence conference they had just attended. Speaking about the leaks, one of them said, according to Clemons, that both the reporter and leaker should be "disappeared". How do you feel about that?
A: "Someone responding to the story said 'real spies do not speak like that'. Well, I am a spy and that is how they talk. Whenever we had a debate in the office on how to handle crimes, they do not defend due process – they defend decisive action. They say it is better to kick someone out of a plane than let these people have a day in court. It is an authoritarian mindset in general."
Q: Do you have a plan in place?
A: "The only thing I can do is sit here and hope the Hong Kong government does not deport me … My predisposition is to seek asylum in a country with shared values. The nation that most encompasses this is Iceland. They stood up for people over internet freedom. I have no idea what my future is going to be.
"They could put out an Interpol note. But I don't think I have committed a crime outside the domain of the US. I think it will be clearly shown to be political in nature."
Q: Do you think you are probably going to end up in prison?
A: "I could not do this without accepting the risk of prison. You can't come up against the world's most powerful intelligence agencies and not accept the risk. If they want to get you, over time they will."
Q: How to you feel now, almost a week after the first leak?
A: "I think the sense of outrage that has been expressed is justified. It has given me hope that, no matter what happens to me, the outcome will be positive for America. I do not expect to see home again, though that is what I want."


RLS, VirginiaWhile the President said he welcomes having a debate on the surveillance program, he really doesn’t. In 2008, candidate Obama said he would “strengthen whistleblower laws to protect federal workers who expose waste, fraud and abuse.” Instead, he has prosecuted more whistleblowers under the Espionage Act than previous presidents combined, including NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake. He was prosecuted for exposing the ineffective Trailblazer program that was chosen over another program which had “built-in privacy protections” and cost a fraction of what was spent on Trailblazer.

Drake received the Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling in 2011. From his acceptance speech:

“Truth tellers, such as myself, are those who are simply doing their jobs and honoring their oaths to serve their nation under the law of the land. We are dedicated to the proposition that government service is of, for, by the people. We emphatically do not serve in order to manipulate on behalf of the powerful, nor to conceal unlawful, illegal or embarrassing secrets from the public, because truth does matter. Truth may be inconvenient. It may cause embarrassment. It may threaten the powers that be and their unlawful activities, but it is still the truth.”

Howie Lisnoff, Massachusetts
Edward Snowden, the Founders would have liked you! Snowden is an American hero: all power to the free flow of information and no power for sweeping government surveillance!

robert bloom, berkeley ca
Thank you, Mr. Snowden, for your wisdom, your principles, and your courage.
Thank you, Guardian, for telling us the truth.
And thank you, George Orwell, for warning us what was coming. Too bad we didn't pay attention.

Brett Wharton, Boise, ID
I believe Mr. Snowden is a national hero and our Founders would have supported his actions. Whether or not you agree that the government should be collecting our data, I believe we had a right to know, and engage in a debate. I personally support the surveillance, since it is averting deadly terrorist attacks, but I am disgusted our government unnecessarily tried to conceal it from us, given it's controversial infringement on our 4th Amendment rights.

I hope Mr. Snowden is pardoned. Mr. Obama should thank him for providing the transparency he himself promised but failed to give us, and that we our entitled to as a country that supports its citizens' freedom and privacy.
DonD, Wake Forest NC
Let's see. This guy joins the Army, then is upset that the Army teaches one to kill, rather than perform humanitarian acts.

He joins the CIA, and gets upset again, this time because the CIA may want him to collect intelligence information. He later discloses his version of what the CIA expected of him which, if true, is a violation of a non-disclosure agreement he would have had to sign.

Next, he works for NSA as a contractor, where he must sign a non-disclosure agreement, but again gets upset, this time with an intelligence organization that collects communications information.

He says he has heroes, Daniel Ellsberg and PFC Bradley Manning, both of whom gained notoriety by disclosing classified information. For the latter, that series of disclosures has put several individual lives at peril. I'm surprised he didn't claim Jonathan Pollard as a hero as well.

For those who think this is heroic behavior, this individual was custom made to be recruited by a foreign intelligence service, and the old KGB would have had him working for them in a heartbeat. The hook, in Snowden's case would have been a psychological weakness for personal recognition, while assuring him that his actions in no way would be damaging to the US.

I do agree with those who want a more fulsome public dialogue as to the limits of NSA's work, but having gotten there with public disclosure of sensitive methods of collection to a foreign entity cannot be supported.


It's obvious, as the Crisis goes on, the US is approaching the condition of old countries, where complexity has long been accepted and managed, not just legislated away as in the land of once-free. As the late Michel Crozier put it
America is beginning to experience what some recent historians of the Middle Ages, Pierre Chaunu in particular, have called the "time of saturation" (temps du monde plein).  


fCh said...

Liberator, the recent plastic pistol, undetectable so far, made by the twentysome year old law student Cody Wilson is another case of self styled American patriotism.

Wilson says that his pistol is intended to humiliate governments, both democratic and undemocratic. He says that it is intended to start a revolution. And if innocent people die in the process, he adds, it's an acceptable consequence because, "after all, freedom itself is in under siege." (for more, )

fCh said...

I wonder how much Snowden has in common with those Americans who gave away the nuclear secrets to the Soviets...

The answer here will be given by how the events unfold. For example, if a deal is made between Snowden and the US, or by his next destination.

Anonymous said...

Umberto Eco
The WikiLeaks affair has twofold value. On the one hand, it turns out to be a bogus scandal, a scandal that only appears to be a scandal against the backdrop of the hypocrisy governing relations between the state, the citizenry and the press. On the other hand, it heralds a sea change in international communication – and prefigures a regressive future of “crabwise” progress.

But let’s take it one step at a time. First off, the WikiLeaks confirm the fact that every file put together by a secret service (of any nation you like) is exclusively made up of press clippings. The “extraordinary” American revelations about Berlusconi’s sex habits merely relay what could already be read for months in any newspaper (except those owned by Berlusconi himself, needless to say), and the sinister caricature of Gaddafi has long been the stuff of cabaret farce.

German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said...

How much monitoring is too much and at what point does freedom become compromised? With its Prism spy program, the US has crossed the line.

Shortly before US President Barack Obama's visit to Berlin, Germans are troubled by questions regarding the extent to which the United States monitors Internet traffic worldwide. Is it true, as the media claim, that the United States can access and track virtually every form of communication on the Internet at the source? The Guardian and the Washington Post reported that the National Security Agency (NSA) could gain direct access to and read user data with the so-called "Prism" program. An unnamed intelligence officer was quoted by the Washington Post as saying that the NSA could "quite literally … watch your ideas form as you type."

Internet giants like Facebook and Google were quick to issue denials, saying that they do not release any information without a court order. But doubts remain.

These reports are deeply disconcerting. When viewed in its entirety, this massive effort to acquire information, if it is true, would be dangerous.

On the weekend, President Obama reacted by saying that it is impossible to have 100 percent security and 100 percent privacy and zero inconvenience.

I don't share this view. The more a society monitors, controls and observes its citizens, the less free it is. In a democratic constitutional state, security is not an end in itself, but serves to secure freedom.

A Reasonable Balance

America has been a different country since the horrible terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The country's security architecture was drastically restructured. One goal was to link all institutions and create a broad flow of information among the different security agencies. The relationship between freedom and security has shifted, to the detriment of freedom, especially as a result of the Patriot Act, which was introduced only a few days after 9/11. The Patriot Act is essentially a number of legislative packages passed in rapid succession. They expanded the opportunities for surveillance, just as they created the possibility of imprisonment for the purpose of preventing acts of terror.

To summarize: As much as we want counterterrorism efforts to be effective, there has to be a reasonable balance between security and the freedom of citizens. The Patriot Act significantly limited the civil rights of Americans.

The development was repeatedly criticized internationally. President Obama, a lawyer specializing in US constitutional law, was also critical of this development in the past. But the restrictions on civil rights and liberties enacted in connection with President George W. Bush's "War on Terror" have not been reversed since Obama became president.

German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said...

Alarming and Cannot Be Ignored

We should remember that the strength of the liberal constitutional state lies in the trust of its citizens. Constitutional guarantees protect this trust and pursue two objectives: to punish the guilty and to protect the innocent or those who are unjustly suspected of a crime against wrongful actions by the government. These are precisely the tenets Germany adopted in 1949 from the tradition of the American Constitution of 1776 -- namely that in a free and open democratic process, it is important to avoid the impression that the protection of basic rights is not being taken seriously enough.

The American politician and author Benjamin Franklin once wrote: "Those who give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

The suspicion of excessive surveillance of communication is so alarming that it cannot be ignored. For that reason, openness and clarification by the US administration itself should be paramount at this point. All facts must be put on the table.

The global Internet has become indispensible for a competitive economy, the sharing of information and the strengthening of human rights in authoritarian countries. But our trust in these technologies threatens to be lost in the face of comprehensive surveillance activities.

Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger has been Germany's minister of justice since 2009. She also headed up the justice portfolio from 1992 to 1996. She is a senior member of the Free Democrats, Chancellor Angela Merkel's junior coalition partner. In addition to being business friendly, the FDP focuses on human and individual rights.

fCh said...

As soon as access an internet connection, you're out. In the open. Behavior that you once thought it would be confined within your room, between you and your PC, can turn out at any time and place--especially when and where it's going to hurt you the most.

No need to turn off the lights, shut off the blinds and all that. Your life is a show for all to review by request, on the push of a few buttons.

Anonymous said...

Süddeutsche Zeitung writes:

"It may be that US citizens can defend themselves under the US Constitution. But that doesn't apply to foreigners. Facebook users in Germany have as little protection from the US Constitution as those in Afghanistan. Germany is the country in Europe whose telephone and Internet communications are being spied on the most intensely by the US. ... But even the best rulings from Germany's high court are useless because the majority of the Internet's architecture is located in the US. As a consequence, US authorities have the power of access, and this is stronger than basic German rights."

"The NSA case shows the expansiveness of preventive security state logic. Those who want to prevent crimes and terrorism -- whatever the cost -- can never know enough, and will always try to find out more in the name of security. Under the reign of terrorism, the legal system is changing. To track down the 'bad guys,' the entire population is being spied on with sophisticated methods in which intelligence agencies, police and possibly private networks are all cooperating. The US is a pioneer in introducing an infrastructure of surveillance."

"The only good thing about the NSA spying is that it exposes the principle tenet of domestic security that has been used to justify the rebuilding of the security system since Sept. 11, 2001: That those with nothing to hide have nothing to fear. This is simply a stupid idea."

Berliner Zeitung writes:

"The chancellor's spokesman Steffen Seibert has now officially announced that Merkel will question Obama when he visits about the apparent systematic spying, particularly of German Internet users, by US intelligence. This is the least that citizens should expect. But more than that, the issue here is the protection of the federal government from total surveillance by a foreign state, no matter how friendly it may be."

"Germany has strict privacy laws -- even if many people now flaunt their data in a practically exhibitionist fashion on social networks. But that is their choice, after all. The federal government must explain what they intend to do about the immoderate and unwarranted clandestine surveillance of its citizens by American intelligence agencies. And whether the German services know about and possibly use this illegally acquired knowledge."

Anonymous said...

Die Tageszeitung writes:

"Basic civil rights around the world, which are taken for granted far too naively in Western democracies, are being placed under attack by state 'security architecture' such as the US spying program Prism. In Germany -- where the relatively recent examples of two totalitarian state systems mean that the consequences of state monitoring in the private sector are still in living memory -- three things must result from this: clarification of the situation, defense and self-protection."

"It is right that the opposition has called for a radical review by the governmnent. But it is already foreseeable that the questions about what German intelligence knew will be rejected under the usual pretexts. The most popular argument is that the government best decides alone what kind of surveillance doesn't harm the public. Obama makes a similar argument about the need for monitoring measures by his intelligence agencies. But the German government shouldn't make the same argument. It may sound utopian, but it would be appropriate to offer fugitive whistleblower Edward Snowden political asylum in Germany."

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes:

"Whether it's with Facebook, Google, Yahoo or Microsoft -- user confidence has been shaken. According to statements made by the source of the revelations, Snowden, all users should be asking whether they themselves, and especially their personal data, are in good hands with these companies."
"For years, German Internet providers have complained among themselves about the tough data protection laws to which they are subject in the European Union. At the same time, they looked enviously at their American counterparts, who are obviously subject to very flexible data protection rules. But these days could be over now. European providers should take advantage of their data protection requirements as a unique selling point."

"But not all consumers are responsible enough to consciously choose services with strict privacy policies -- many are far too complacent for that. And herein lies a challenge for European policy, which should reconsider agreements with the US such as the 'Safe Harbor' data protection program in light of recent events. It says that European companies can transfer personal data from their own customers to America without hesitation -- because until now the country was considered safe. Even if customers are not affected by the current scandal, this much is clear: America is no longer quite as secure as a secure data port."

Crescentsi said...

Yes, this is interesting. To me, Snowden seems to be exposing a lack of transparency, democracy and debate in US society/Government. The reaction of the US government to "get the whistleblower" and punish him severely, just confirms what the electorate already knows. That Western governments are shrouded in secrecy, intrude on our privacy, are operating a faux-democracy and are only really concerned with maintaining and extending their own wealth and power.

Looking at Internet usage more specifically, we need much more transparency in Government operations to monitor people's online behaviour. There is definately a case for this, when it comes to monitoring the behaviour of known criminals, however the monitoring the online usage of the general populace is an entirely different matter.

Surely an independent body should monitor the Government's use of data, similar to the laws that apply to the business world and the workplace, in the UK. Indeed, the UK government drafted these laws to protect confidentiality, and the UK governement should operate within these laws. Similarly, the same should apply to other Western countries (and beyond).

The recent meeting of the Bilderberg Group, the exposure of corruption and the misuse of Data in the British press, the fall out from Wikileaks, and the continuing exposure of corruption in the UK government, just adds to the mistrust of politicians at home and abroad.

Rather than threatening to throw the harshest of punishments at Snowden, shouldn't the US Governerment use this incident to create more transparent policies surrounding the use of online data? Particularly when considering the information of the general public. Governments should be expected to operate withing the same laws that the public have to abide by.

Nice to see you posting again, FCH!

fCh said...

Simon, thank you for your visit & comment!

1) I don't think any power will give up the capability of listening in to EVERYTHING we communicate as long as this is technically possible.
2) To handle all communication in the manner suggested by Snowden's disclosure is a very expensive proposition, despite whatever promise Moore's Law may hold.
3) Power has this belief that if it possesses all communication it can rule forever. It's a mistaken belief for a string of reasons. Communication is not knowledge, all communication even less so--remember how many monkeys with a typewriter were required to (re-)produce Shakespeare.
4) There will be perverse incentives to misuse this communication to put down/discredit/incarcerate any form of dissent or even opposition.
5) Power today is employed also to maintain a near-cancerous version of capitalism.
6) There might be unintended positive consequences/externalities to all this program, yet the US dollars is past its prime, so I doubt we can finance it long enough to bear commercial results.
7) We are approaching the end of the line and little if anything has been spent towards laying the tracks towards another destination. In what we call the West, that is. In the East, the future is already happening. We are hardly slowing down the rate of descent.

Yes, I have not written for a while. Lots of day to day work and even more thinking/reading about the grand picture. I've had a posting in mind for a while, it's coming.

Keep it going, you're on the right track! said...

James Madison famously warned:

Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manners and of morals engendered by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.

fCh said...

11.07am ET

Guardian staff
17 June 2013 2:11pm
Let's begin with these:

1) Why did you choose Hong Kong to go to and then tell them about US hacking on their research facilities and universities?

2) How many sets of the documents you disclosed did you make, and how many different people have them? If anything happens to you, do they still exist?


1) First, the US Government, just as they did with other whistleblowers, immediately and predictably destroyed any possibility of a fair trial at home, openly declaring me guilty of treason and that the disclosure of secret, criminal, and even unconstitutional acts is an unforgivable crime. That's not justice, and it would be foolish to volunteer yourself to it if you can do more good outside of prison than in it.

Second, let's be clear: I did not reveal any US operations against legitimate military targets. I pointed out where the NSA has hacked civilian infrastructure such as universities, hospitals, and private businesses because it is dangerous. These nakedly, aggressively criminal acts are wrong no matter the target. Not only that, when NSA makes a technical mistake during an exploitation operation, critical systems crash. Congress hasn't declared war on the countries - the majority of them are our allies - but without asking for public permission, NSA is running network operations against them that affect millions of innocent people. And for what? So we can have secret access to a computer in a country we're not even fighting? So we can potentially reveal a potential terrorist with the potential to kill fewer Americans than our own Police? No, the public needs to know the kinds of things a government does in its name, or the "consent of the governed" is meaningless.

2) All I can say right now is the US Government is not going to be able to cover this up by jailing or murdering me. Truth is coming, and it cannot be stopped.

11.13am ET

Guardian staff
17 June 2013 3:07pm
I should have asked you this when I saw you but never got round to it........Why did you just not fly direct to Iceland if that is your preferred country for asylum?


Leaving the US was an incredible risk, as NSA employees must declare their foreign travel 30 days in advance and are monitored. There was a distinct possibility I would be interdicted en route, so I had to travel with no advance booking to a country with the cultural and legal framework to allow me to work without being immediately detained. Hong Kong provided that. Iceland could be pushed harder, quicker, before the public could have a chance to make their feelings known, and I would not put that past the current US administration.

11.17am ET

17 June 2013 2:15pm
You have said HERE that you admire both Ellsberg and Manning, but have argued that there is one important distinction between yourself and the army private...

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

Are you suggesting that Manning indiscriminately dumped secrets into the hands of Wikileaks and that he intended to harm people?


No, I'm not. Wikileaks is a legitimate journalistic outlet and they carefully redacted all of their releases in accordance with a judgment of public interest. The unredacted release of cables was due to the failure of a partner journalist to control a passphrase. However, I understand that many media outlets used the argument that "documents were dumped" to smear Manning, and want to make it clear that it is not a valid assertion here.

fCh said...


D. Aram Mushegian II
17 June 2013 2:16pm
Did you lie about your salary? What is the issue there? Why did you tell Glenn Greenwald that your salary was $200,000 a year, when it was only $122,000 (according to the firm that fired you.)


I was debriefed by Glenn and his peers over a number of days, and not all of those conversations were recorded. The statement I made about earnings was that $200,000 was my "career high" salary. I had to take pay cuts in the course of pursuing specific work. Booz was not the most I've been paid.

11.23am ET

17 June 2013 2:17pm
Why did you wait to release the documents if you said you wanted to tell the world about the NSA programs since before Obama became president?


Obama's campaign promises and election gave me faith that he would lead us toward fixing the problems he outlined in his quest for votes. Many Americans felt similarly. Unfortunately, shortly after assuming power, he closed the door on investigating systemic violations of law, deepened and expanded several abusive programs, and refused to spend the political capital to end the kind of human rights violations like we see in Guantanamo, where men still sit without charge.

11.27am ET

Anthony De Rosa
17 June 2013 2:18pm
1) Define in as much detail as you can what "direct access" means.

2) Can analysts listen to content of domestic calls without a warrant?


1) More detail on how direct NSA's accesses are is coming, but in general, the reality is this: if an NSA, FBI, CIA, DIA, etc analyst has access to query raw SIGINT databases, they can enter and get results for anything they want. Phone number, email, user id, cell phone handset id (IMEI), and so on - it's all the same. The restrictions against this are policy based, not technically based, and can change at any time. Additionally, audits are cursory, incomplete, and easily fooled by fake justifications. For at least GCHQ, the number of audited queries is only 5% of those performed.

fCh said...

Anthony De Rosa
17 June 2013 2:18pm
1) Define in as much detail as you can what "direct access" means.

2) Can analysts listen to content of domestic calls without a warrant?

2) NSA likes to use "domestic" as a weasel word here for a number of reasons. The reality is that due to the FISA Amendments Act and its section 702 authorities, Americans’ communications are collected and viewed on a daily basis on the certification of an analyst rather than a warrant. They excuse this as "incidental" collection, but at the end of the day, someone at NSA still has the content of your communications. Even in the event of "warranted" intercept, it's important to understand the intelligence community doesn't always deal with what you would consider a "real" warrant like a Police department would have to, the "warrant" is more of a templated form they fill out and send to a reliable judge with a rubber stamp.

Glenn Greenwald follow up: When you say "someone at NSA still has the content of your communications" - what do you mean? Do you mean they have a record of it, or the actual content?

Both. If I target for example an email address, for example under FAA 702, and that email address sent something to you, Joe America, the analyst gets it. All of it. IPs, raw data, content, headers, attachments, everything. And it gets saved for a very long time - and can be extended further with waivers rather than warrants.

11.41am ET

17 June 2013 2:45pm
What are your thoughts on Google's and Facebook's denials? Do you think that they're honestly in the dark about PRISM, or do you think they're compelled to lie?

Perhaps this is a better question to a lawyer like Greenwald, but: If you're presented with a secret order that you're forbidding to reveal the existence of, what will they actually do if you simply refuse to comply (without revealing the order)?


Their denials went through several revisions as it become more and more clear they were misleading and included identical, specific language across companies. As a result of these disclosures and the clout of these companies, we're finally beginning to see more transparency and better details about these programs for the first time since their inception.

They are legally compelled to comply and maintain their silence in regard to specifics of the program, but that does not comply them from ethical obligation. If for example Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Apple refused to provide this cooperation with the Intelligence Community, what do you think the government would do? Shut them down?

fCh said...


17 June 2013 4:37pm
Ed Snowden, I thank you for your brave service to our country.

Some skepticism exists about certain of your claims, including this:

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 if I had a personal email.

Do you stand by that, and if so, could you elaborate?


Yes, I stand by it. US Persons do enjoy limited policy protections (and again, it's important to understand that policy protection is no protection - policy is a one-way ratchet that only loosens) and one very weak technical protection - a near-the-front-end filter at our ingestion points. The filter is constantly out of date, is set at what is euphemistically referred to as the "widest allowable aperture," and can be stripped out at any time. Even with the filter, US comms get ingested, and even more so as soon as they leave the border. Your protected communications shouldn't stop being protected communications just because of the IP they're tagged with.

More fundamentally, the "US Persons" protection in general is a distraction from the power and danger of this system. Suspicionless surveillance does not become okay simply because it's only victimizing 95% of the world instead of 100%. Our founders did not write that "We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all US Persons are created equal."

12.04pm ET

Guardian staff
Spencer Ackerman
17 June 2013 4:16pm
Edward, there is rampant speculation, outpacing facts, that you have or will provide classified US information to the Chinese or other governments in exchange for asylum. Have/will you?


This is a predictable smear that I anticipated before going public, as the US media has a knee-jerk "RED CHINA!" reaction to anything involving HK or the PRC, and is intended to distract from the issue of US government misconduct. Ask yourself: if I were a Chinese spy, why wouldn't I have flown directly into Beijing? I could be living in a palace petting a phoenix by now.

fCh said...



US officials say this every time there's a public discussion that could limit their authority. US officials also provide misleading or directly false assertions about the value of these programs, as they did just recently with the Zazi case, which court documents clearly show was not unveiled by PRISM.

Journalists should ask a specific question: since these programs began operation shortly after September 11th, how many terrorist attacks were prevented SOLELY by information derived from this suspicionless surveillance that could not be gained via any other source? Then ask how many individual communications were ingested to acheive that, and ask yourself if it was worth it. Bathtub falls and police officers kill more Americans than terrorism, yet we've been asked to sacrifice our most sacred rights for fear of falling victim to it.

Further, it's important to bear in mind I'm being called a traitor by men like former Vice President Dick Cheney. This is a man who gave us the warrantless wiretapping scheme as a kind of atrocity warm-up on the way to deceitfully engineering a conflict that has killed over 4,400 and maimed nearly 32,000 Americans, as well as leaving over 100,000 Iraqis dead. Being called a traitor by Dick Cheney is the highest honor you can give an American, and the more panicked talk we hear from people like him, Feinstein, and King, the better off we all are. If they had taught a class on how to be the kind of citizen Dick Cheney worries about, I would have finished high school.

Updated at 12.11pm ET
12.12pm ET

17 June 2013 2:54pm
Is encrypting my email any good at defeating the NSA survelielance? Id my data protected by standard encryption?


Encryption works. Properly implemented strong crypto systems are one of the few things that you can rely on. Unfortunately, endpoint security is so terrifically weak that NSA can frequently find ways around it.

fCh said...



Binney, Drake, Kiriakou, and Manning are all examples of how overly-harsh responses to public-interest whistle-blowing only escalate the scale, scope, and skill involved in future disclosures. Citizens with a conscience are not going to ignore wrong-doing simply because they'll be destroyed for it: the conscience forbids it. Instead, these draconian responses simply build better whistleblowers. If the Obama administration responds with an even harsher hand against me, they can be assured that they'll soon find themselves facing an equally harsh public response.

This disclosure provides Obama an opportunity to appeal for a return to sanity, constitutional policy, and the rule of law rather than men. He still has plenty of time to go down in history as the President who looked into the abyss and stepped back, rather than leaping forward into it. I would advise he personally call for a special committee to review these interception programs, repudiate the dangerous "State Secrets" privilege, and, upon preparing to leave office, begin a tradition for all Presidents forthwith to demonstrate their respect for the law by appointing a special investigator to review the policies of their years in office for any wrongdoing. There can be no faith in government if our highest offices are excused from scrutiny - they should be setting the example of transparency.

12.28pm ET

Ryan Latvaitis
17 June 2013 2:34pm
What would you say to others who are in a position to leak classified information that could improve public understanding of the intelligence apparatus of the USA and its effect on civil liberties?

What evidence do you have that refutes the assertion that the NSA is unable to listen to the content of telephone calls without an explicit and defined court order from FISC?


This country is worth dying for.

12.34pm ET

17 June 2013 2:12pm
My question: given the enormity of what you are facing now in terms of repercussions, can you describe the exact moment when you knew you absolutely were going to do this, no matter the fallout, and what it now feels like to be living in a post-revelation world? Or was it a series of moments that culminated in action? I think it might help other people contemplating becoming whistleblowers if they knew what the ah-ha moment was like. Again, thanks for your courage and heroism.


I imagine everyone's experience is different, but for me, there was no single moment. It was seeing a continuing litany of lies from senior officials to Congress - and therefore the American people - and the realization that that Congress, specifically the Gang of Eight, wholly supported the lies that compelled me to act. Seeing someone in the position of James Clapper - the Director of National Intelligence - baldly lying to the public without repercussion is the evidence of a subverted democracy. The consent of the governed is not consent if it is not informed.

fCh said...

Follow-up from the Guardian's Spencer Ackerman:

Regarding whether you have secretly given classified information to the Chinese government, some are saying you didn't answer clearly - can you give a flat no?


No. I have had no contact with the Chinese government. Just like with the Guardian and the Washington Post, I only work with journalists.

12.41pm ET

So far are things going the way you thought they would regarding a public debate? – tikkamasala


Initially I was very encouraged. Unfortunately, the mainstream media now seems far more interested in what I said when I was 17 or what my girlfriend looks like rather than, say, the largest program of suspicionless surveillance in human history.

12.43pm ET
Final question from Glenn Greenwald:

Anything else you’d like to add?


Thanks to everyone for their support, and remember that just because you are not the target of a surveillance program does not make it okay. The US Person / foreigner distinction is not a reasonable substitute for individualized suspicion, and is only applied to improve support for the program. This is the precise reason that NSA provides Congress with a special immunity to its surveillance.

Anonymous said...

Edward Snowden’s disclosures, the
New York Times reported on Sunday, "have renewed a longstanding
concern: that young Internet aficionados whose skills the agencies need for
counterterrorism and cyberdefense sometimes bring an anti-authority spirit that
does not fit the security bureaucracy."

Agencies like the NSA and CIA – and private contractors like Booz Allen – can’t be sure that all employees will
obey the rules without interference from their own idealism. This is a basic
dilemma for the warfare/surveillance state, which must hire and retain a huge
pool of young talent to service the digital innards of a growing Big Brother.

With private firms scrambling to
recruit workers for top-secret government contracts, the current situation was
foreshadowed by novelist John Hersey in his 1960 book The
Child Buyer
. When the vice president of a contractor named United Lymphomilloid,
"in charge of materials procurement," goes shopping for a very bright
ten-year-old, he explains that "my duties have an extremely high national-defense
rating." And he adds: "When a commodity that you need falls in short
supply, you have to get out and hustle. I buy brains."

That’s what Booz Allen and similar
outfits do. They buy brains. And obedience.

But despite the best efforts of those contractors and government agencies, the brains still belong to people.
And, as the Times put it, an "anti-authority spirit" might
not fit "the security bureaucracy."

In the long run, Edward Snowden didn’t fit. Neither did Bradley Manning. They both had brains that seemed useful
to authority. But they also had principles and decided to act on them.

Like the NSA and its contractors, the U.S. military is in constant need of personnel. "According to his superiors
. . . Manning was not working out as a soldier, and they discussed keeping him
back when his unit was deployed to Iraq," biographer Chase Madar writes
in The
Passion of Bradley Manning
. "However, in the fall of 2009, the
occupation was desperate for intelligence analysts with computer skills, and
Private Bradley Manning, his superiors hurriedly concluded, showed signs of
improvement as a workable soldier. This is how, on October 10, 2009, Private
First Class Bradley Manning was deployed . . . to Iraq as an intelligence analyst."

In their own ways, with very different backgrounds and circumstances, Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden have confounded
the best-laid plans of the warfare/surveillance state. They worked for "the
security bureaucracy," but as time went on they found a higher calling
than just following orders. They leaked information that we all have a right
to know.

Anonymous said...

This month, not only with words but also with actions, Edward Snowden is transcending the moral limits of authority
and insisting that we can fully defend the Bill of Rights, emphatically including
the Fourth Amendment.

What a contrast with New York
columnists David Brooks, Thomas Friedman and Bill Keller, who have
responded to Snowden’s revelations by siding with the violators of civil liberties
at the top of the U.S. government.

Brooks denounced Snowden as "a traitor" during a June 14 appearance on the PBS NewsHour, saying
indignantly: "He betrayed his oath, which was given to him and which he
took implicitly and explicitly. He betrayed his company, the people who gave
him a job, the people who trusted him. . . . He betrayed the democratic process.
It’s not up to a lone 29-year-old to decide what’s private and public. We have
– actually have procedures for that set down in the Constitution and established
by tradition."

Enthralled with lockstep compliance, Brooks preached the conformist gospel: "When you work for an institution,
any institution, a company, a faculty, you don’t get to violate the rules of
that institution and decide for your own self what you’re going to do in a unilateral
way that no one else can reverse. And that’s exactly what he did. So he betrayed
the trust of the institution. He betrayed what creates a government, which is
being a civil servant, being a servant to a larger cause, and not going off
on some unilateral thing because it makes you feel grandiose."

In sync with such bombast, Tom Friedman
and former Times executive editor Bill Keller have promoted a notably
gutless argument for embracing the NSA’s newly revealed surveillance programs.
Friedman wrote
(on June 12) and Keller agreed
(June 17) that our government is correct to curtail privacy rights against surveillance
– because if we fully retained those rights and then a big terrorist attack
happened, the damage to civil liberties would be worse.

Anonymous said...

Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence, an organization of former national security officials, has honored NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, praising his decision to reveal the extent of U.S. government electronic surveillance of people in the United States and around the world.

Edward Snowden, an ex-contractor for the National Security Agency, has been named recipient of this year’s award for truth-telling given by Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence, the group announced Monday.

Most of the Sam Adams Associates are former senior national security officials who, with the other members, understand fully the need to keep legitimate secrets. Each of the U.S. members took a solemn oath “to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”

When secrecy is misused to hide unconstitutional activities, fealty to that oath – and higher duty as citizens of conscience – dictate support for truth-tellers who summon the courage to blow the whistle. Edward Snowden’s disclosures fit the classic definition of whistle-blowing.

Former senior NSA executive Thomas Drake, who won the Sam Adams award in 2011, has called what Snowden did “an amazingly brave act of civil disobedience.” Drake knows whereof he speaks. As a whistleblower he reported waste, fraud, and abuse – as well as serious violations of the Fourth Amendment – through official channels and, subsequently, to a reporter. He wound up indicted under the Espionage Act.

After a lengthy, grueling pre-trial proceeding, he was exonerated of all ten felony charges and pleaded out to the misdemeanor of “exceeding authorized use of a government computer.” The presiding judge branded the four years of prosecutorial conduct against Drake “unconscionable.”

The invective hurled at Snowden by the corporate and government-influenced media reflects understandable embarrassment that he would dare expose the collusion of all three branches of the U.S. government in perpetrating and then covering up their abuse of the Constitution. This same collusion has thwarted all attempts to pass laws that would protect genuine truth-tellers like Snowden who see and wish to stop unconstitutional activities.

“These are the times that try men’s souls,” warned Thomas Paine in 1776, adding that “The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”

Anonymous said...

It is in this spirit that Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence are proud to confer on Edward Snowden the Sam Adams Award for 2013.

The Sam Adams Award, named in honor of the late CIA analyst Sam Adams, has been given in previous years to truth-tellers Coleen Rowley of the FBI; Katharine Gun of British Intelligence; Sibel Edmonds of the FBI; Craig Murray, former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan; Sam Provance; former U.S. Army Sergeant at Abu Ghraib; Maj. Frank Grevil of Danish Army Intelligence; Larry Wilkerson, Colonel, U.S. Army (ret.), former chief of staff to Colin Powell at State; Julian Assange of WikiLeaks; Thomas Drake, former senior NSA official; Jesselyn Radack, Director of National Security and Human Rights, Government Accountability Project; and Thomas Fingar, former Assistant Secretary of State and Director, National Intelligence Council.

Editor’s Note: Further helping to explain why Snowden should be honored for his brave actions – and responding to some of the criticism of his decisions from the mainstream news media – are: Daniel Ellsberg’s op-ed in The Washington Post, “Snowden Made the Right Call When He Fled the US” and Ray McGovern’s “Obama Needs to Take Charge on NSA Spying Scandal.”

Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence was established in 2002 by colleagues and admirers of the late CIA intelligence analyst Sam Adams to recognize those who uphold his example as a model for those in intelligence who would aspire to the courage to speak truth to power. In honoring Adams’s memory, SAAII confers an award each year to someone in intelligence or related work who exemplifies Sam Adam’s courage, persistence, and devotion to truth — no matter the consequences.

It was Adams who discovered in 1967 that there were more than a half-million Vietnamese Communists under arms. This was roughly twice the number that the U.S. command in Saigon would admit to, lest Americans learn that claims of “progress” were bogus.

On behalf of Eric Margolis said...


In the late 1980’s, an old friend of mine based in Moscow was calling her husband in the USA late one night. She said it was a “typical dumb husband/wife call,” mostly about a broken garage door.

Around midnight, a gruff voice broke into the call. “This is your KGB listener. This is the most boring, stupid call I’ve ever listened to. Shut up and go to bed!”

Ah, those innocent Cold War days. Today, Big Brother listens to your calls, reads your email, and follows your internet searches on silent cat’s feet.

China’s Taoists warned, “you become what you hate.” They are right: the September 2001 attacks on the US, as John Le Carré wrote, producing a period of temporary psychosis. America was knocked back to the ugly days of Sen. McCarthy’s Red Scare of the 1950’s. The big difference was that today the bogeymen of “terrorists” have replaced menacing Marxists. And today, terrorists were everywhere.

When I enlisted in the US Army during the Vietnam War, we were taught that it was our duty as American soldiers to report all war crimes and violations of the Geneva Convention, and to refuse to obey unlawful orders from superiors as established at post WWII Nuremburg trials At the time, I was proud to serve in America’s armed forces.

Today, the military trial of document leaker PFC Bradley Manning has echoes of the Soviet era: a show trial in which a lonely individual is slowly crushed by the wheels of so-called military justice, an oxymoron.

The dramatic revelations of fugitive whistleblower Edward Snowden brings back sharp memories of Soviet-era dissidents, jailed, banished, locked in foul psychiatric hospitals for daring to speak the truth.

In my day, those seeking justice and freedom used to defect from the East Bloc to the United States and Britain. Now, ironically, we see a major defector, Ed Snowden, fleeing to Russia.

While the corporate-owned US news networks sugarcoat or obscure the NSA and Afghanistan War scandals, it’s left to Russian TV (RT) to tell Americans the facts. Who would have thought?

We journalists used to mock Pravda and Trud as party mouthpieces. Today, it’s the party line all the time from the big US networks, online news, and newspapers.

On behalf of Eric Margolis said...


The Republican far right calls Snowden and Manning traitors; some demand the death penalty. Snowden’s lawyers warn he faces torture and possibly execution if he returns home; Manning has already had a long term in solitary confinement, which is itself a form of psychological torture.

We recall the horrific case of a Chicago gang member Jose Padilla during 9/11 hysteria. In an order signed by President George W. Bush, Padilla was accused on the flimsiest grounds of being an enemy combatant and stripped of all legal rights. He was held for over three years in solitary, tortured, sleep and sensory deprived, and injected with psychotropic drugs. Padilla was broken physically and mentally, then sent to prison for 17 years.

Such a gruesome fate could await Manning and Snowden.

I don’t know if PFC Manning took his charges of war crimes and other illegalities up the chain of command, the proper course for soldiers. He would, of course, have gotten nowhere – just look at the crimes committed at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison. Going out of the command structure insured that Manning would have faced serious charges. Releasing a sea of details about US foreign policy inevitably courted severe punishment.

But as far as we know, Manning’s revelations didn’t harm America, it only embarrassed Washington by making it look bullying, two-faced and utterly cynical. Bureaucrats hate embarrassment much more than spying.

Snowden followed candidate Barack Obama’s pre-election call on whistleblowers to reveal waste and wrongdoing. America’s intelligence agencies have clearly overstepped their bounds and likely violated the law. A majority of Americans don’t buy the claim they were spied on to protect the nation from vague terrorist threats.

Snowdon and Manning were, in my view, patriotic Americans warning their nation that its ruling elite, obsessed with power and global hegemony, had veered way off course and were violating the US Constitution. However foolhardy, they acted with courage and honor.

solum temptare possumus said...

While I agree with all that has been said by Mr Margolis and my fellow responders, I seek to see connections through the filter of written history; perhaps our best teacher of current conditions.
I did not have to look to far into the past for one of the greatest wordsmith and essayist, the third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson.
Quote: “Our country is now taking so steady a course as to show by what road it will pass to destruction, to wit: by consolidation of power first, and then corruption, its necessary consequence”.
What has happened in America then and recently can be seen in ancient Rome; also well documented.
One can only hope that a literate tech savvy youth can focus through the myriad distractions, before it is to late, and take to heart this message from the same orator:
Quote: “The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions that I wish it to be always kept alive”
Further evidence of this corruption is in a new book I recently purchased. I heard about it on the show Fareed Zakaria GPS. (Global Public Square). He has a segment called “My Take”, and mentioned last sunday this book: “THIS TOWN Two parties and a Funeral In America’s Gilded Capital” by Mark Leibovich. What struck me was a few of the points Mr Zakaria mentioned:
1. Representatives and Senators spend 3 out of 7 days each week Fundraising.
2. 42% of Representatives and 50% of Senators become Lobbyists after their time in Congress.
3. Why Washington works well for Lobbyists and not so well for US Citizens.
To all beliefs, religious or not, I respond; God or Reason Save the United States of America.
ad iudicium

Cicero said...

China`s Taoists warned, “you become what you hate.” The present powers in the US are surely proving that to be true. Because of the cold war rhetoric and propaganda, we were all lead to believe, that anything and everything Russian, or rather Soviet, was backward, archaic and inherently evil. And while some of it may have a foundation in truth, a lot of it, as we learned later, was sheer propaganda to get the peoples of the west to hate intensely enough, that they would be willing to lay down their lives in defense of what they were made to believe was the ‘God-given’ duty as citizens of what is known as the so-called ‘free world’. Mikhail and Raisa Gorbachev soon proved that picture to be warped and untrue, when they met Ronnie and Nancy so many years ago. Raisa seemed so self-assured, while Nancy seemed to trip over her astrological beliefs.
Manning and Snowden are discovering first hand, what that definition of freedom really is. No more than just another lie, like the official story of 9/11 and the causes and justifications for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
After that Vietnam fiasco, which had the same earmarks, we ought to have known better than to fall for it again.
John Le Carré was right-on with his assessment of America and may I add a lot of other countries as well about that ‘temporary’ psychosis, except that the term temporary must be seen here as relative. The same thing applies to the McCarty induced psychosis of the fifties. In fact it would be hard to differentiate between psychosis here and the religiously induced fear by means of the propaganda machine, that seems to get the best oiling and maintenance of all the government machinery. The loss and shame of the Vietnam war seems to have been so traumatic, that it made that psychosis an almost permanent characteristic, judging by what the MSM allows us to detect between the lines of their propaganda lies.
“The dramatic revelations of fugitive whistleblower Edward Snowden brings back sharp memories of Soviet-era dissidents, jailed, banished, locked in foul psychiatric hospitals for daring to speak the truth.” I read here. But what are the conditions, that Bradley Manning has endured, still endures and like will endure for a long time yet, for doing, what the soldiers were taught, when they went to Vietnam?
Because of the mention of José Padilla here, I consulted wikipaedia on this topic and there was a description of what happened to this man. It is a horror story, that would have been perfect fodder against Stalin`s regime, which we are lead to believe, was the worst the world ever experienced. Of course the US has its own Stalin in GWB, complete with Rumsfeld playing the role of Molotov and the CIA amply fills the shoes of the old KGB.
Military justice sure is an oxymoron and may I add, the entire present US justice system as well, if we properly define ‘justice’.

Ben Johnson said...

When we were in France I got to see RT for the first time and what I saw was a terrifying documentary on the Louisiana oil spill and how BP conspired with the Obama administration to not only allow the BP executives literally get away with murder, it also helped cover up the true extent of the damage and what happened to anyone who spoke out against it and could not be intimidated or bought off.
One of the facts reveled was how the reason why BP is so powerful is because it is the soul supplier of fuel to the American military, something the American military would rather die than talk about.

What RT also talked about is the hunger strike in Guantanamo Bay and how the military is force feeding the prisoners using the most painful methods possible. The American media has chosen to totally ignore it altogether.

Menosh said...

The more things change,the more they stay the same.We must never forget the massacre at My Lai of old men,women and children by US soldiers under direct orders from Saigon.Lt.William Calley was the commanding officer who gave the final order to carry out this atrocity.

The above link will serve as a refresher.Since the end of the second world war,the US has become the biggest trouble maker in it’s quest for world domination through intimidation and the all too mighty Industrial Military Complex.The American people are living under fear that if they retaliate or mock the system,they may end up in the slammer accused of terrorism and/or espionage.It is long overdue that Americans take back their country from the grips of Washington who have absolutely no regard for the safety of their citizens.They are just a bunch of rogue criminals that need to be brought to justice (if such a word exists anymore).They have managed to convince the people,that terrorism is their “new enemy”….which some of us know as being bogus.Washington created this atmosphere starting with 9/11.

It is terribly sad that a nation with people of great minds and accomplishments are finding that their efforts are no longer being recognized in the manner that they should be.Heck if a first term President (Obama) received the Nobel Peace Prize shortly after his first inauguration for doing absolutely nothing is becoming the norm,then there is something drastically wrong with society.Meanwhile,the only real ‘safe’ way of communicating is by writing a handwritten letter with a stamp on it to the intended recipient.The worst that can happen here is that some crook working at the Post Office might steal it thinking it contains cash or maybe even gift cards.This,clearly,is a lose lose situation.Americans are in for dismal future as it stand snow until Washington is cleaned up….thoroughly.Meanwhile…my highest regards to two American heros….Snowden and Manning.At least they showed some fortitude in hopes of saving their doomed country.

Anonymous said...

Syria and the Western response is a related and interesting phenomenon. Certainly Cameron's intent to attack Syria without going through the UN is extremely foolish and trigger-happy. Fortunately, he was defeated by the House of Commons on the first of two votes. Whereas no sane person would condone the attacks by the Syrian Government upon its own people, convincing and accurate evidence should be sought before, yet another war is started. I await the US response with interest and, personally, I can't see how air strikes will benefit the Syrian situation in any way, certainly not (as legislation states) on humanitarian grounds!

Commonsensically, discussion and debate from around the world should take place before military action is presumed the best action. This is a complex situation and it is far from the first incidence of what are essentially, attempts to forge democracy from dictatorships, across the Middle East and North Africa.

Of course, the main motivation for military action from the West, would be to send a message to the Syrian Government that they should not be using chemical weopons, rather than the legally stated "humanitarian grounds". The West doesn't want a military attack from the Eastern/North African countries. However, in the Syrian situation, I feel that military action will achieve very little, possibly sending the country into greater chaos. The risk from Russia and China is also notable, once again rendering gung-ho politics foolhardy and pointless. The phrase "a last resort" springs to mind, when considering such drastic action.


fCh said...

Simon, thank you for your well stated comment. Please see the latest posting On Syria.

RLS Virginia said...

Keeping us safe is a pretext. The aim of the massive security state is to have control over the people. And it’s in the interest of private industry to maintain bloated surveillance programs when 70 percent of the intelligence budget is outsourced.

NSA Whistleblower Thomas Drake: Snowden Saw What I Saw: Surveillance Criminally Subverting the Constitution

“This executive fiat of 2001 violated not just the fourth amendment, but also Fisa rules at the time, which made it a felony – carrying a penalty of $10,000 and five years in prison for each and every instance. The supposed oversight, combined with enabling legislation – the Fisa court, the congressional committees – is all a KABUKI DANCE, predicated on the national security claim that we need to ‘find a threat.’

“The reality is, they just want it all, period.

“To an NSA with these unwarranted powers, we're all potentially guilty; we're all potential suspects until we prove otherwise. That is what happens when the government has all the data.

“The NSA is wiring the world; they want to own internet. I didn't want to be part of the dark blanket that covers the world, and Edward Snowden didn't either.

“What Edward Snowden has done is an amazingly brave and courageous act of civil disobedience.”

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