Enemy of the State: Europe alarmed over U.S. intel spy program

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From: http://theextinctionprotocol.wordpress.com/2013/06/12/enemy-of-the-state-europe-alarmed-over-u-s-intel-spy-program/

 

Enemy of the State: Europe alarmed over U.S. intel spy program

  
U.S. government official brands NSA whistleblower as a traitor. The question remains why are U.S. government agencies collecting so much private data on American citizens, as though there were all presumed ’enemies of the state’?
June 12, 2013 – WASHINGTON – The EU is demanding assurances that Europeans’ rights are not being infringed by massive, newly revealed US surveillance program. Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding plans to raise the concerns with US Attorney General Eric Holder on Friday. Last week a series of leaks by a former CIA worker led to claims the US had a vast surveillance network with much less oversight than previously thought. The US insists its snooping is legal under domestic law. The Obama administration is investigating whether the disclosures by former CIA worker Edward Snowden were a criminal offence. More revelations are promised to be released to the press in coming days about the extent of U.S. domestic spying. Mr. Snowden’s employer, defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, said on Tuesday it had fired the 29-year-old infrastructure analyst for violating its ethics code. Russia has offered Mr. Snowden political asylum in light of the recent revelations against the U.S. US officials say the snooping program known as Prism, revealed in last week’s leaks, is authorized under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). It gives the US National Security Agency (NSA) the power to obtain emails and phone records relating to non-US nationals. But details about the individuals targeted under the act remain secret, and there are concerns the NSA is overstepping its powers. Documents leaked to the Guardian and Washington Post newspapers claimed the US authorities had direct access to the servers of nine major US technology firms, including Apple, Facebook and Google. Mr. Snowden told the Guardian that individual operatives had the power to tap into anyone’s emails at any time. Although the firms have denied granting such access, saying they agreed only to legal requests, US officials have admitted Prism exists. And on Tuesday, Republican Senator Lindsay Graham said US surveillance of phone records allowed the government to monitor phone records for a pattern of calls, even if those numbers had no known connection to terrorism. One of the Guardian journalists who wrote the Prism stories, Glenn Greenwald, has promised “more significant revelations” to come. In the US, the controversy has focused on the possibility that conversations of US citizens may inadvertently be captured. But overseas, governments and activists point out that US law provides foreigners with no protection. The Liberation Daily in China has harsh words for President Obama: “Five years ago, Obama came to power waving an anti-George W Bush banner. Five years later, he is still exactly the same as George W Bush on invasion of privacy issues.” Russia’s Izvestiya compares the revelations to a dystopian novel: “The frightening reality of the 21st Century is that the world has become a house with glass walls, notions of ‘personal secrets’ and ‘confidential information’ are turning into fiction before our very eyes.” –BBC

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Meet your new martyr: Edward Snowden PRISM whistleblower’s not the new Assange, not even a very naughty boy

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From: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/06/10/dont_draw_assanges_halo_around_snowdens_head/

 

So, we have a name for the PRISM leaker: Edward Snowden. Now his name is public, the US government and the military-infosec complex are going to work really hard at blowing smoke around the whole thing.

In that, I think Snowden made a tactical error – not because of the danger he’s in (his name would have been found out by his former masters before many days had passed). Rather, he has put his name at the centre of the story, which will help the spinners re-frame the story as Snowden rather than PRISM.

The spin-masters are already at work, and they’re going to spend a lot of effort discrediting Snowden’s actions, character and information – along the way, blurring the issues and giving us black painted as white.

  • “Junior employee” – The implication of the Booz Allen Hamilton announcement that he’d only been with the company for three months is that Snowden didn’t really know what’s going on. The proper response to that is that neither do we, and we should.
  • Expect attacks on his character and motives. We know that he’s breached his employer’s trust – that’s what a whistleblower does. When media starts looking for “the man behind the story”, we give the spinners an angle to work, because you can be sure that the spinners are looking for ways to tell us we’re mistaken about his motives.
  • Attack his facts – Minor corrections of what Snowden claims don’t invalidate the underlying outrage that comprises mass-scale spying on the communications of innocent individuals.
  • Retreat behind the secrecy of national security – “This program has saved lives, but we can’t tell you how.”

The underlying strategy of the spin machine will be to keep the spotlight on Snowden, and draw attention away from the things he’s revealed.

It’s a strategy that’s worked in the past, partly because people so willingly co-operate with it. We’ve been here before, with Julian Assange. The creation of “Saint Julian” suited his opponents perfectly: it allows them to publicly identify the value of Wikileaks with the character of its founder.

Snowden looks personable enough, sounds intelligent and sincere to the point of earnestness, and he’s now in serious trouble, all of which pulls the vox humana stop all the way out. The human interest is irresistible – and all of which plays into Snowden’s opponents, who want the story to be playing the man rather than the ball.

I realise that as an activist, I make a passable journalist, but if any of the activists are listening, here is my advice.

Don’t draw the halo of secular sainthood around Snowden’s head. There is practically no human who would survive the scrutiny (and whisper campaign) that’s about to commence. He will have imperfections and they’ll be played to discredit him.

Don’t become disillusioned if and when something damaging is revealed about Snowden.

Don’t let your attention be distracted by the shiny bauble of a personable front-man. The story is about government surveillance.

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NSA Contractor Outs Himself as Source of Surveillance Documents

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From: http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2013/06/nsa-leaker-outs-himself/

NSA contractor and former CIA technical employee Edward Snowden announced today that he was the source for documents published about the NSA’s secret surveillance programs. Image courtesy of the Guardian

 

Edward Snowden, a former computer security administrator for the CIA and current contractor for the NSA, has outed himself as the source of a string of explosive documents describing NSA surveillance activities against U.S. citizens and foreign targets.

The 29-year-old, who now works for the defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton on projects for the NSA in Hawaii, revealed himself as the source of documents provided to the Guardian and Washington Post about the NSA’s collection of phone records belonging to millions of Americans as well as a surveillance program called PRISM that targets the internet communications and activities of foreign targets.

Snowden made the revelations in a lengthy story and video published by the Guardian today.

“I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong,” Snowden said in the interview, conducted last Thursday in Hong Kong where he was in hiding at the time the leaks were published. He added, “I am not afraid, because this is the choice I’ve made.”

He identified himself as an infrastructure analyst for the NSA in Hawaii, earning $200,000 a year, but has worked as a contractor for the NSA for four years on behalf of various contract firms.

He worked previously as a systems engineer and administrator, a senior advisor for the CIA and a telecommunications information systems officer and described his growing distress over the years as his exposure to the government’s surveillance activities grew.

In a note that he wrote to accompany the first documents he gave the papers, he said, “I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions,” but “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.”

He also said that he didn’t want media attention for leaking but wanted the spotlight focused instead on the broad surveillance the U.S. government was doing.

“I know the media likes to personalize political debates, and I know the government will demonize me,” he said in the interview. “I really want the focus to be on these documents and the debate which I hope this will trigger among citizens around the globe about what kind of world we want to live in…. My sole motive is to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them.”

Snowden said he was willing to sacrifice his career and the stable life he had made with his girlfriend in Hawaii “because 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.”

He said he assumed the government would accuse him of violating the Espionage Act and aiding enemies but this didn’t concern him. The Guardian said the only time he became emotional during interviews was when he pondered the impact this would have on his family, many of whom work for the U.S. government.

“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,” he told the paper.

Booz Allen Hamilton released a statement confirming that Snowden worked for them but said he had been an employee “for less than 3 months.”

“News reports that this individual has claimed to have leaked classified information are shocking, and if accurate, this action represents a grave violation of the code of conduct and core values of our firm,” the company wrote. “We will work closely with our clients and authorities in their investigation of this matter.”

The revelation came after the Director of National Intelligence James. R. Clapper announced yesterday that the NSA had begun an investigation into the leaking of the documents.

Prior to Snowden coming forward, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Michigan) had criticized the leaker and Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald for publishing information about programs they failed to understand.

“He doesn’t have a clue how this thing works; nether did the person who released just enough information to literally be dangerous,” Rogers said, adding, “I absolutely think [the leaker] should be prosecuted.”

Snowden’s extensive technical background proves the assertion about his knowledge wrong.

Nonetheless, both the Guardian and the Washington Post were criticized for errors in the explosive stories they broke last week regarding the government’s surveillance — errors they attributed to the documents that Snowden provided and to information that Snowden himself gave them about the nature of the surveillance.

The Guardian led on Wednesday with the revelation that the NSA had obtained a court order to collect the phone records of millions of Verizon customers in the U.S. for a three-month period beginning in April. Senator Dianne Feinstein later acknowledged that the order was actually a re-issue for an ongoing collection order that was renewed repeatedly every three months.

The following day, both the Post and the Guardian published stories claiming that the NSA had direct access into the servers of nine internet companies, including Google, Yahoo and Facebook, and were collecting large volumes of data with the cooperation of these firms, including email and audio and video traffic as well as documents.

Both papers had to step back from that allegation, however, after the internet companies strongly denied that the NSA had direct connections to their servers or that they provided any data that was not targeted and part of a court order.

The Post and Guardian made the false accusations based on a 41-slide PowerPoint presentation that Snowden provided the papers and on assertions from Snowden himself. In a revised story, the Postdeleted mention that the NSA has direct access to company servers but said the system allows analysts to query data through equipment that is housed at company controlled locations.

Snowden first began thinking about leaking back in 2009 when he was stationed in Geneva, Switzerland, for the CIA.

His route to the CIA was circuitous. Snowden never matriculated from high school, but in 2003, he enlisted in the US army and began a training for Special Forces. He got discharged, however, after breaking both of his legs.

After this, he got a job as a security guard for one of the NSA’s covert facilities at the University of Maryland.
He followed that with a job in IT security for the CIA. In 2007, the CIA stationed him with diplomatic cover in Geneva for a computer security job that gave him clearance and access to a wide array of classified documents.

Like Bradley Manning before him, it was that access to documents and his time spent around colleagues that led him to begin questioning the government’s activities.

“Much of what I saw in Geneva really disillusioned me about how my government functions and what its impact is in the world,” he says. “I realized that I was part of something that was doing far more harm than good.”

He thought about exposing government secrets at the time, but didn’t because CIA secrets are mostly about people and he didn’t want to endanger anyone. He also thought the election of Barack Obama in 2008 would change things.

In 2009 he left the CIA for a job with a private contractor and got assigned to an NSA facility at a military base in Japan.

The next three years broadened his education of the NSA’s surveillance activities and increased his disillusionment and dissatisfaction with the NSA.

“[T]hey are intent on making every conversation and every form of behavior in the world known to them,” he told the Guardian, and said agency posed an “existential threat to democracy.”

“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,” he said.

Snowden contrasted himself to Bradley Manning, the former Army intelligence analyst who went on trial last week for leaking more than a million documents to WikiLeaks, saying that contrary to Manning he “carefully evaluated every single document I disclosed to ensure that each was legitimately in the public interest” and withheld ones that did not fit that goal.

“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.”

He also said he purposely chose to give the documents to journalists whose judgment he trusted about what should be public and what should remain concealed.

Asked how he felt after watching the public’s reaction to the disclosures over the last few days, he said, “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.”

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NSA Whistleblower Reveals Identity: “I Do Not Expect to See Home Again”

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From: http://gizmodo.com/heres-the-guy-who-spilled-the-beans-on-the-nsa-512187779

An NSA employee working through outside contractors is the man behind the NSA leak. A former technical assistant for the CIA and current Booz Allen Hamilton employee, 29-year-old Edward Snowden worked with The Guardian to release his identity today.

Though he publicly disclosed numerous confidential documents, Snowden tells The Guardian:

I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong . . . I don’t want public attention [though] because I don’t want the story to be about me. I want it to be about what the US government is doing.

Snowden did contract work for the NSA in Hawaii where he lived “comfortably” with his girlfriend on a salary of about $200,000. He gathered the documents for the leak three weeks ago and then took two weeks off from the NSA, ostensibly to seek treatment for his epilepsy. Next he prepared to leave for Hong Kong. Snowden told The Guardian that he barely had to explain the trip or its motives to his girlfriend because his work in intelligence often necessitates secrecy. Snowden has been in Hong Kong ever since, a location he selected for its climate of free speech advocacy and its potential ability to resist U.S. mandates.

Working for Booz Allen Hamilton, and by extension the NSA, wasn’t necessarily the obvious path for Snowden, who admits that he was a lousy student and left high school to join the army. After a quiet childhood in Elizabeth City, NC and Fort Meade, MD (near NSA headquarters) Snowden wanted to fight in Iraq to help free others from oppression. But he was surprised at the attitudes he encountered in the Army, which he says reflected a desire to kill more than an ideological interest in liberation. Snowden broke both his legs in a training accident and was discharged. He became a security guard at an NSA facility and then joined the CIA in IT security.

Snowden is adamant that the leak and its consequences for him not overshadow thecontent of the documents he revealed. Along with the first set of documents he released,Snowden wrote:

I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions . . . [but] 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.

Still he seems resigned to the fact that there will be consequences and that his actions have totally altered the course of his life.

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 . . . 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…

It’s a brave revelation, and a fascinating story. Be sure to check it out in its entirety here: [The Guardian]

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