The Snowden Leaks: Source Protection and Regulatory Capture of the Press

by: Peter Jukes

Thu Jun 20, 2013 at 07:54:47 AM EDT

First off: Moose I miss You. My long absences are only explained by manic writing sessions covering lots of breaking news (and a new novel). But I'm hoping, as so well displayed by Shaun in previous post, to have a sensible discussion about the NSA leaks without it reverting to the usual Rox/Sux Obama debate, or framing intelligence services as all good, or all bad.

I've published a piece today in The New Republic which (going beyond the personalities of either Manning or Snowden or their interlocutors Assange and Greenwald) tries to look at the role of whistleblowing and the press in the modern age.

More below the flip

Peter Jukes :: The Snowden Leaks: Source Protection and Regulatory Capture of the Press
One of my major interviewees for this piece, Heather Brooke, a US trained journalist who broke the MPs expenses scandal here, and was responsible for bringing the wikileaks classified cables to the Guardian makes two interesting points, often overlooked in the debate/furor

The first is how dangerous the surveillance powers are for any whistleblower wanting to contact a journalist.

Often overlooked in the discussion of personal privacy and national security is the impact that digital surveillance has on journalist source protection. Even if only a tiny fraction of social networking and email accounts are examined by government intelligence agencies (around 19,000 out of 1.1 billion Facebook users according to James Ledbetter at Reuters), that's still an untenable risk for a would-be whistleblower contacting a journalist. "The flip side of the digital revolution is that this technology is so easily hijacked by state surveillance," says Brooke, who has since written up her experiences in her book The Revolution Will Be Digitised. "It was a steep learning curve for me three years ago," she says. Brooke would "go dark" before important meetings, ditching her smart phone which could be hijacked as a tracking device, electronic bug or remote camera. She was told most email and online messaging services were insecure, and she relied on encryption keys and secret chat rooms. Three years before it had been acquired by Microsoft, other journalists would communicate with Assange using Skype. She wouldn't trust it now (nor Assange apparently, who she claims tried to destroy the credibility of the Guardian when it wouldn't do his bidding).

The second is about the temerity of big news organisations these days, when confronted with government secrets

But Brooke, who cut her teeth as a crime reporter in the U.S., thinks the American press has since become a victim of "regulatory capture." "Whistleblowers are vanishingly rare, and every newspaper needs government briefings and insider information just to survive," she says. But since the Beltway is not the preoccupation of a U.K.-based news service, the Guardian could afford not to play ball.

It's an odd side effect of the borderless exchange of information-a kind of regulatory arbitrage. While Apple, Amazon, Google and other corporations can use global communications to escape national taxes, the Guardian seems to have a found a niche where it can play to U.S. readers while avoiding the worst consequences from the authorities-exclusion from briefings, refusal to confirm or deny stories, or provide interviews from senior politicians and staff.

As you all know, I am an Obama supporter. But I'm also deeply critical of concentrations of power, in the media, in certain sections of international finance, and - because power corrupts - in an unaccountable security service.

On the Moose I look forward to discussing these issues without rancour or resentment

So fire away!

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Moose miss you too, Peter! (2.00 / 16)
I was listening to a discussion on this topic on the radio this past week and one of the commentators asked that we draw a distinction between "whistle blowing" and "leaking".

Edward Snowden leaked information but the jury is still out on whether he did it for any purpose other than to claim his 15 minutes of fame.

When I think of "whistle blowers", I think of Daniel Ellsberg or Wendell Potter.

Maybe the controversy needs to steep for a while before we find out whether his revelations are important or make a difference?

I also admit to bias because I am not a fan of Glenn Greenwald and that association brings into question the motives of those involved. If you leak to gain partisan advantage, is it really whistle blowing? Or is it just the same old same old ... simply Darrell Issa'ing to avoid the important issues of the day: climate change, economic stagnation, human rights?

Words have meaning. Our words will reflect what is in our souls.

Well I'm not a fan of vainglorious journalism (2.00 / 13)
And I've had bad experiences with Greenwald. But it's not all about personality. Even a stopped clock etc...

I do think this is important because, as Heather says, the digital revolution means that you're carrying around a tracking device, bug and remotely controlled camera in your smart phone.

Google, Apple, Skype etc are now global monopolies with immense power. We trust them because we like the people who run them, and give us stuff for free. But this is open to massive abuse.

I saw this happen with Murdoch's News International, just on the small scale of a press monopoly. The hacked thousands of phones including many senior New Labour ministers, and everyone around Tony Blair.

Threats to our privacy don't only come from the state - as libertarians would have us believe.

But just because some people I disagree with are running with this, doesn't mean it isn't an issue which deserves proper public scrutiny

Whatever the motives of whistleblowers, the transparency they promote is to the public good I think. We're all adults. We can discuss the balance between privacy and security. And also remind ourselves that we should not just rely on the good motives of those in positions of corporate or political power. We should have mechanisms to prevent abuse regardless

The p***artist formerly known as 'Brit'

[ Parent ]
It is a good conversation to have, if only to *remind* people that it is happening. (2.00 / 12)
The massive amount of data being gathered, though, is simply because of the massive amount of data available to gather in these times.

Many of us are a lot of places electronically: banking, paying our bills, reading newspapers, doing research. When we were just in our car driving to the bank, or mailing a bill payment to our utility company or going to the library to use their encyclopedias, those things would be of interest to those wanting to gather data but it would have been impossible to track all those things physically. Now we all have an electronic dossier built from a massive datadump, albeit most of them are quite boring, like mine.

I have never been a fan of the supposed need to give up privacy and comfort for security. After 9/11, some of the intrusions into our daily lives in order to Save Us From Attack were convenient excuses for many who wanted to surveil and harass people they didn't like.

Is it okay to still dislike the gotcha aspect of Greenwald's reporting?

Words have meaning. Our words will reflect what is in our souls.

[ Parent ]
On the latter - absolutely (2.00 / 7)
That's one of the reasons I don't deal with Greenwald (as you'll see from my comment to RB below). He seems to shift from reporter to ideologue with worrying alacrity. However, that doesn't make him always wrong.  

The p***artist formerly known as 'Brit'

[ Parent ]
My eyes twitch when I see Manning described as a "whistleblower" (2.00 / 11)
considering he had zero knowledge of what he was releasing and apparently (although I haven't been following this as closely as I might have) didn't dump because of any potential wrongdoing but because his feelings were hurt.

Not sure yet, either, what Snowden's motivations were but at least he appears to have some vague idea about what he leaked.

"When Fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in teh stupid and waving a gun" ~ Esteev on Wonkette

[ Parent ]
Naive questions (2.00 / 11)
Is the postal service still an option for contacting the press? Then personal visits as follow ups, of course, but can't anything be done without it being done in the wild west ether?  I know it is not geared to our instant gratification but there are a different set of laws governing the mail.

There are a lots of reasons they call this the Information Age.

Peter, you know I respect you (2.00 / 15)
And the legal and ethical arguments are quite frankly not my field of expertise.  I'm a smart enough fool to know when to shut up.

My interest lies in this question (and I will grant you that I am not in any way motivated by impartiality): Did Glenn Greenwald, sometimes financed by the Cato Institute and on record as having a hatred of Barack Obama and also knowing Edward Snowden before his employment at the NSA, purposely recruit someone to breach national security?  

The personalities of Snowden and Greenwald are what give folks (2.00 / 13)
pause.  I freely admit a bias against Greenwald; I'd like to think his behavior after the leak has lent some credence to it.  Rick Perlstein and Charles Pierce both have written posts telling him to basically STFU because he's annoying his allies.

I have a question about the timing of the contact between Snowden and Greenwald as well.  Did Snowden go to Booz specifically to gather information?  How closely did Greenwald work with him?  Don't forget that they were also in contact with a documentary filmmaker at the same time.  Were they looking for a Sundance Film Festival award?  Does it matter in the grand scheme of thing what the motivations were?  I struggle with that: are we focusing on the messenger while ignoring the message (although the message from what a lot of people are saying isn't really the bombshell originally thought it to be).  The more important questions might be how Snowden got the access he did apparently as a trainee and that he was able to use a thumb drive to capture the information in violation of the rules.

"When Fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in teh stupid and waving a gun" ~ Esteev on Wonkette

[ Parent ]
RB nice to see you again here (2.00 / 11)
...and props as always for your dogged commitment to civil debate.

I'm no expert on the legal/ethical arguments. Snowden has clearly broken the law by leaking Top Secret documents, and is already suffering some of the consequences. Breaking the law, however, is not always unethical, and as the history of civil disobedience show, has led to reform and progress. I don't know if he's a good person or a bad person. I'm not sure that even matters, with him or his interlocutors. Transparency is, to me, a key part of accountability. On the political side, for whatever the alleged risks to national security (see the Wikileaks classified cables for this) there may be many upsides.

Finally we can have an informed debate as to how far we want the security services to go to preserve our security. Finally we can have an informed debate about how many terror attacks were stopped, how many google and facebook accounts are checked. About metadata, sharing intelligence, congressional oversight etc.

The technology, as with so much of the digital globalisation of the last decade, has outstripped our laws and often left our law makers lagging behind.

On the Greenwald issue. Personally, like Assange, I don't have much time for vainglorious middlemen. They don't really take so much of the downside risk, though one could argue Assange feels he has. I've often disagreed with Greenwald. He's effectively trolled DKos a couple of times, and he blocked me on twitter for the merest mild disagreement.

He also seems to me so left libertarian at times, that his politics join up with Rand Paul. I completely disavow libertarianism. As my Murdoch book shows, the threat to our liberties comes from corporations and other individuals as much as the state.

But (and this is the nub of the ad hominem fallacy) just because he's been wrong in the past, doesn't make him wrong to follow this story now. He doesn't own it. His conclusions are not mine. But he could have still done us all a service by informing this debate

What most concerns me about the Snowden revelations is the collusion of national security with the commercial giants of the digital. To me Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook all have monopoly powers already, ripe for abuse. Collusion of such monopolies (who pay zero iTaxes) with the state is like the worst of both worlds. I personally know three senior advisors to Prime Minister David Cameron in Number 10 who have gone on to work, in the last three years, for Google (with massive salary spikes)

This corporatist combination is the worst of both worlds, and only proper trust busting powers can take on these Standard Oils of the digital age.

The p***artist formerly known as 'Brit'

[ Parent ]
Remember when all these electronic devices were supposed to (2.00 / 11)
make our lives easier?  In a way they do but they are also a giant pain in the rear.

We've given up bits of our time and privacy since the first pager rolled out of Asia.  Co-workers, friends, family could reach you at any time and woe! unto you if you didn't respond rightthatminute.

Then came cell phones and email and texting and GPS and Internet and data capture all intended to make life easier.  And it has, I think, for most of us.  But with that ease comes an apparent price.  You get targeted ads based on your browsing history.  Your favorite websites are remembered.  Shopping sites send you recommendations for future purchases.  The list goes on and on.

Is it any wonder that the government would want to get into the data capture business?  If everyone else is doing it why shouldn't they.  But here's the thing: sometimes the old-fashioned way is the best way.  If someone wants to blow the whistle via a journalist (when did Greenwald earn that moniker anyway?) maybe meet in the dark parking garage; worked for Woodward and Bernstein.  Use an untraceable cell phone.  Jesus, be creative.  Or yeah, the USPS works, too.  Not like they don't need the business.

"When Fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in teh stupid and waving a gun" ~ Esteev on Wonkette

Hey Happy. (2.00 / 10)
Agree with everything you say here (annoyingly) and even more concern to me are the commercial monopolies that now dominate the information age.

If the allegations are to be believed, the major digital giants (outlined in my comment to RB above) have colluded with the government

Meanwhile, they manage to escape with almost zero taxes, thanks to a race to the bottom on international tax arbitrage.

This is very unsettling for many reasons beyond security and surveillance. Unlike other smaller companies, Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, basically get a government subsidy running around 25 percent with their zero iTax regime. That gives them a huge advantage over competitors, and leads to monopoly market capture.

I've seen what happens with that with the UK press, Mr Murdoch.

Secondly, not only do they distort the market with unfair competition, they also (because there's no tax incentive) tend to amass reserves of cash which they spin around the globe on overnight money markets and strange derivatives, further destabilising the world financial system.

Odd though it might sound, these companies cease to be capitalist at some point. For all the apparent emphasis on R&D and new products, all the incentives are for them to spend less and less on capital investment, and instead extract rents for assets and loans.  

The p***artist formerly known as 'Brit'

[ Parent ]
Hey there, Peter...good to see ya, bro! /smile (2.00 / 9)
I hope you and yours are well...and I totally feel ya on the 'I miss you' to the Moose. I've only recently begun to engage again after a time away.

Now, as to your subject matter.

I am still 'torn' between the two sides. I am neither willing to declare Snowden a hero and the US too far gone the way of Rome....nor am I willing to dismiss the 'leak' as nothing to worry about and the intrusions into our privacy as a price to pay for security.

The thing is, and where I get a bit Ouroboros about it in my head, I WANT our security/surveillance/spy  services (NSA, CIA, FBI, etc) to use EVERY tool at their disposal to do their jobs to the very best of their abilities...but, I ALSO want to know that they are using those tools against those who would harm us, not against every civilian/citizen of the US public...HOWEVER...if 'I', as a private US citizen, am given the information as to what they do, how they do it, when they do it, all in order to provide ME (as a member of the US public) the transparency that many seem to be crying out for....then that would mean that ANYONE would have access to that info, thereby weakening the effectiveness of the very groups/agencies that I want to be working at their very best of their abilities.....(and around we go again...the tail fitting quite nicely into the mouth)....

Holy run-on sentences Batman!

Point is...I want both the best that our security agencies can provide...AND I want transparency. Unfortunately I don't see how, if being realistic, one can have BOTH. So, there is a balance that needs to be struck.

Right now? It looks like things have tilted too far towards the lack of privacy due to poorly regulated correcting that, however, I don't want to see it tipped so far towards transparency that we neuter our security/surveillance/spy agencies abilities to protect us (and the rest of the world).

Our laws regarding privacy are antiquated. Not in intent, but in application. They were not written for an electronic/computerized age. They NEED to be re-worked in order to both protect our privacy as citizens AND provide level-minded judicial oversight of the groups/programs that exist to protect us and our interests.

And, there, sadly, is the rub.

The likelihood of our government reworking those laws in any manner that holds teeth any time soon is pretty much nil. You KNOW that the Republicans in Congress will NEVER agree to remove some of the powers of 'information seeking' that are currently legal....they would declare attempts to do as such as ENABLING TEH TERRRRRISTSSSS!

So, yah, I'm torn. But, I think no matter where one lies on the dividing line of opinion of it...nothing much is really going to come of it because our current Legislature (Congress/House of Reps) is broken.

Just my, overly wordy, 2 cents worth.


I feel your pain and love your run on.... (2.00 / 7)

I think you summarise the dilemma perfectly. Particularly this bit about being in a new world

Our laws regarding privacy are antiquated. Not in intent, but in application. They were not written for an electronic/computerized age. They NEED to be re-worked in order to both protect our privacy as citizens AND provide level-minded judicial oversight of the groups/programs that exist to protect us and our interests.

The p***artist formerly known as 'Brit'

[ Parent ]
Basically it comes down to the old adage - (2.00 / 10)
Power corrupts.  Absolute power corrupts absolutely.  And the other one - Knowledge is power.  Personalities don't come into it.  Nobody, and certainly no organization public or private, is trustworthy after a certain point.  It's why the "balance of power" shouldn't be only within the government (3 branches) but within the public-private sectors.  The Founders put as many safeties into the Bill of Rights as they could think of (and get passed) - but it's up to government to actually enforce them upon themselves as well as everybody else.  And the slippery slope of good governments going bad as they acquire enough power to send them after power for power's sake (as opposed to power to do good in the world) ends in revolution.  For over 200 years we've managed peaceful revolution at the ballot box.  We either manage it again, despite gerrymandering, voter suppression, and anti-American "patriotic" propaganda - or we don't.  We are here (and on DK, even with the rox/sux meta over there) because we are doing our best to make it the former.

Nice comment (2.00 / 8)
Not a whit I can disagree with, or have said better

The p***artist formerly known as 'Brit'

[ Parent ]
Thank you - that's a lovely compliment. n/t (2.00 / 7)

[ Parent ]
Interesting (2.00 / 8)
The problem as I see it is the line between the press reporting a story and crafting a story has been destroyed to the point I don't have confidence in the integrity of the press.  It's curious you've written about press surveillance through Newscorp and how Murdoch has actually attempted to subvert British Democracy what is our protection from that?

I would personally like to restore trust in government and the idea that the security services are spending their time plotting against their citizens to the extent folks think makes me laugh from a dude who actually comes from a community where the american government did plot against our leadership.  I also have issue with accountability in that the mechanisms for it are there, but the people who are failing at it are not getting the level of blame they deserve, our Congress.  Your parliament jumped the entire hell down Murdochs throat, could you imagine us doing it?  lol not me.

Do you trip you can't step out of your door in London and not be on camera?  Is the English expectation of privacy different?  Cause I've known since the 80's the FBI will park a van outside your house and listen to the sound of you fart on the word of a crack head with a warrant a sleeping Judge told his assistant to do in 15 minutes.

The problem i've always seen with the Snowden affair is nothing, and I mean nothing he disclosed was not fully debated in the 2008 FISA debate and it appears to be the fuss is that the President actually did it.  As I have written in a piece here did Obama tell a lie, he didnt.

However his story was crafted and it was done so to push an agenda.  Do I mind nope, god bless free press Glenn should only go to jail if it is found he colluded with Snowden before he got the BA job or anytime before to funnel information.  Just like the AP dude.  Not reporting a story but being active in the crafting of the narrative around it.

What keeps me up at night?


Wrote about not many Moose seemed interested, but the bottom line is the balance of powers and underlying paranoias underneath them aren't always apparent to bloggers looking to pledge drive, and "journalist" generally have the ethics to speak to an authority before they report on national security matters.

Anyhow nice to see you Brit.

Oh like the C-net story it was suuuuch BS yet it's in the collective.  I blame "journalism" or is it blogging.  I dont know.

"I honor the place in you where Spirit lives
I honor the place in you which is
of Love, of Truth, of Light, of Peace,
when you are in that place in you,
and I am in that place in me,
then we are One."  Namaste Friends!

I remember Able Archer (2.00 / 7)
That was a scary time. On the brink because of a Dr Strangelove misuse of systems.

On the CCTV issue. I'm one of those quite happy to be filmed while in our city centres. CCTV has led to a massive decline in city centre violence and vandalism. I abrogate the right to complete privacy in return for feeling safer.

I can see that applies to the NSA as well. But I think you're missing my wider point about source protection and journalism. The first amendment was crafted to provide exactly the possibility of whistle blowing and debate to keep both corporate and governmental power accountable.  It's the combination of those two - monopoly digital giants and the ease of data gathering by security services - which is a genuine risk to me.

Even if I don't like the people who point it out.  

The p***artist formerly known as 'Brit'

[ Parent ]
Ah (2.00 / 7)
I think that a journalist should be willing to go to jail and let the righteousness of his cause catch up with him.  I think a source protects himself by choosing a journalist to report to that has the heart to do so.

My Mom's went to jail over a dozen times.  Her group was actually bailed out by Frank Sinatra.  Unless you think someones going to gaffe you with Polonium I got some piggy bank money if you get swooped up.

"I honor the place in you where Spirit lives
I honor the place in you which is
of Love, of Truth, of Light, of Peace,
when you are in that place in you,
and I am in that place in me,
then we are One."  Namaste Friends!

[ Parent ]
Have you seen this article by Jeffrey Toobin in the New Yorker? (2.00 / 6)
Edward Snowden Is No Hero
Edward Snowden, a twenty-nine-year-old former C.I.A. employee and current government contractor, has leaked news of National Security Agency programs that collect vast amounts of information about the telephone calls made by millions of Americans, as well as e-mails and other files of foreign targets and their American connections. For this, some, including my colleague John Cassidy, are hailing him as a hero and a whistle-blower. He is neither. He is, rather, a grandiose narcissist who deserves to be in prison.

Pretty strong words.

Here is Toobin identifying the friction:

What makes leak cases difficult is that some leaking-some interaction between reporters and sources who have access to classified information-is normal, even indispensable, in a society with a free press. It's not easy to draw the line between those kinds of healthy encounters and the wholesale, reckless dumping of classified information by the likes of Snowden or Bradley Manning.

The problem, of course, is one of who decides which encounters are reckless and which are healthy. Seems like we are always going to have to allow both and then deal with them whatever fallout they bring.

Words have meaning. Our words will reflect what is in our souls.

This is precisely my point (2.00 / 5)
The Guardian tried to redact the 'agent endangering' parts of Assange's wikileaks dump. In my article I highlight the discusssion between Assange and the Guardian journalists. They warned him he would be endangering lives with an unredacted data dump. He effectively said "They work with the Americans - so fuck them"

I read Snowden's statement about not wanting to hurt people in the light of this, and his decision to go to the Guardian rather than just let it all hang out.

The emphasis on souce protection relates both to whistle blowers, and good faith government agents

I'm sorry if I didn't spell this out more clearly

The p***artist formerly known as 'Brit'

[ Parent ]
But yet Manning and Assange are heroes? (2.00 / 2)
Please to explain this to me.

"When Fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in teh stupid and waving a gun" ~ Esteev on Wonkette

[ Parent ]
You spelled it out just fine. (2.00 / 1)
I simply wanted to add another article to the discussion especially one that had such a strong point of view. I disagree with Toobin that there is some magic formula that can be applied before information is leaked to decide if it is good or bad.

The bottom line is that if journalists, real journalists ... not ideologues, are to do their job they need sources for information. Think of what might have happened if the 47% video had not come to light. We need a free press and reporters who can be confident that they will not end up in jail for reporting about government malfeasance.  

Words have meaning. Our words will reflect what is in our souls.

[ Parent ]
This. (2.00 / 3)
It's not easy to draw the line between those kinds of healthy encounters and the wholesale, reckless dumping of classified information by the likes of Snowden or Bradley Manning.

The process used to leak material matters as does the material that is leaked.  From what I read some days ago only four of the 41 slides have been released because the remaining were deemed too sensitive.  And then the media jumped all over the stuff without doing any real journalism to figure out exactly what had been released.  Then there was the backtracking and the reworking and the clarifications until, frankly, what was muddled before is almost incomprehensible now.

60 Minutes could use the whole hour to explain this and probably still need additional time.

Top it off with Messrs "I'm not into self-aggrandizement" too busy  making the story about themselves and their peacocks and people start rolling their eyes.

And of course there are those too quick to judge the information false because of the middleman messenger.  So then you can't believe the doubters so much, either.  So then you start to tune it out because it is just too hard to make sense out of when in reality it is really quite simple if the boiled down facts are observed.

"When Fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in teh stupid and waving a gun" ~ Esteev on Wonkette

[ Parent ]
Jukes! (2.00 / 4)
My long absences are only explained by manic writing sessions covering lots of breaking news herpes (and a new novel syphilis).

Fixed.  Anyhoo, I've only got just enough time for teh smarta$$, as it's finals week for me.

miss ya bro.

Earth is the best vacation place for advanced clowns. --Gary Busey

Dear Peter... (2.00 / 3)
Very interesting article and a good angle; no mention of Barret Brown however? Even tangentially? His case would seem to be the litmus test for whistle-blowing these days.

Also... (2.00 / 3)
Not sure if you've seen this yet:

But except when a US citizen is specifically targeted, the court orders used by the NSA to obtain that information as part of Prism are these general [FISA Amendment Act] orders, not individualized warrants specific to any individual.

Glenn Greenwald and James Ball - Revealed: the top secret rules that allow NSA to use US data without a warrant Guardian 21 Jun 13

If true it undermines a great deal of protest and denial among those speculating on the legal implications of Snowden's leaks on the Prism project.

[ Parent ]
So remind me again what Prism is? (2.00 / 1)
Because the caveat of "except when a US citizen is specifically targeted" makes my outrage meter go, "meh."  And, yes, I realize I should probably care regardless of whether one is a US citizen or not but I'm tired and don't feel well and am just utterly confused.

If you want to explain the "FISA Amendment Act orders," too that would help.

"When Fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in teh stupid and waving a gun" ~ Esteev on Wonkette

[ Parent ]
Well... (2.00 / 1)
It basically means that Internet 'content' is being hoovered up on a generic basis, as some of us suspected, merely on a FISA court order which covered the activity on a, presumably, periodic basis with no other limitation of scope:

The broad scope of the court orders, and the nature of the procedures set out in the documents, appear to clash with assurances from President Obama and senior intelligence officials that the NSA could not access Americans' call or email information without warrants.

Glenn Greenwald and James Ball - Revealed: the top secret rules that allow NSA to use US data without a warrant Guardian 21 Jun 13

Basically, it seems, they have the content but draw the fine, legal line at accessing it in the case of resident US citizens.

[ Parent ]
Well I thought we knew that. (2.00 / 2)
But that it wasn't read.

More importantly I just say that Snowden's been charged under a sealed indictment with espionage.  Holy crap!

"When Fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in teh stupid and waving a gun" ~ Esteev on Wonkette

[ Parent ]
Not Metadata... (2.00 / 1)
Content. Snowden's legal fate was never in doubt, was it?

[ Parent ]
Ironically... (2.00 / 1)
Other legal practitioners see an opportunity:

It's all part of the hazard of becoming, effectively, a backup server for all the nation's technology companies, said [George Washington University privacy law expert Dan] Solove.

"This is a little bit of an awakening to the government, that you can't hold massive amounts of personal data with impunity," he said. "Once you do, a lot of obligations and responsibilities kick in. One of the consequences of keeping data is that now you open yourself up to discovery."

Bob Sullivan - Lawyers eye NSA data as treasure trove for evidence in murder, divorce cases NBC 20 Jun 13

"The laws of evidence require that prosecutors turn over to the defense any records they have that might help prove a suspect's innocence."

[ Parent ]
Here's the thing (2.00 / 3)
Back in the day, I was quite the techie. Technology has gone beyond me nowadays :) but I used to manage a Radio Shack, and I was (probably still am) a licensed Ham Radio operator.

When cell phones were in their infancy, it was absolute child's play to listen into all kinds of conversations with nothing more than a good scanner. Of course, word of that got out, the cell companies panicked that people would never buy their phones, and started scrambling signals.

The rub? This shit was still going over the airwaves!!! It was still interceptable, you just needed more sophisticated tools than a good scanner. Nowadays, it's tougher, because cell signals are digital--however, it's still doable. (Not by me, since, as I said, my techie geek credentials are still somewhere in 1990 :D).

ANY expectations of privacy of ANYTHING that travels through the AIRWAVES is just foolish.  

So... (2.00 / 3)
That's the thing? By your own description an eavesdropping actor would need intention and 'more sophisticated tools than a good scanner' yet you seem content to abandon any legal expectation of privacy on that basis? Seriously, landlines go through public switchboards too, or used to when the 4th Amendment was reinterpreted to embrace the new technology of telephony.

I am dumbfounded as to why we seem so willing to forego these protections.

[ Parent ]
I've never expected privacy (0.00 / 0)
on the airwaves. It's impossible. Remember what I said above--I'm a Ham. If there's one thing they make you learn to pass the Ham tests, it's propagation :). Your cell phone conversation is in the air. If I were close to you, it's in the air right next to me. If there's a technologically feasible way to intercept it--and there is--somebody's going to do it. (Honestly, better the FSA than a few other options I can think of.) Even if you could make a case to have privacy from the government under the 4th amendment, again, expecting complete privacy on any communication that travels the airwaves is sheer folly.

[ Parent ]
Clearly... (0.00 / 0)
Talking straight past each other, propagation notwithstanding.

[ Parent ]
Noam Chomsky feels NSA surveillance is an attack on American citizens. (2.00 / 3)
heh (2.00 / 4)
Bill Ayers thinks POTUS is a war criminal.  Appears Obama's going to need a new ghostwriter for his post-presidency memoirs.

"When Fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in teh stupid and waving a gun" ~ Esteev on Wonkette

[ Parent ]
I'm not be as dismissive of Noam Chomsky. My support of Obama doesn't (2.00 / 2)
extend to dissing Chomsky's opinions.  Some of us consider ourselves lucky that folks like Chomsky and Howard Zinn were writing and speaking out, albeit drowned by MSM, when we were growing up. All of those sophisticated text data mining algorithms that NSA and others are running owe a whole lot to that man.

[ Parent ]
Greenwald's NSA story now contradicts itself (2.00 / 5)
The danger in having a grifter lead the national conversation is that the floor of facts and issues are presented in a dishonest way.

The NSA absolutely can not intentionally target U.S. citizens without an individual warrant. Even if you're the most vocal Edward Snowden supporter in the universe, you have no choice but to acknowledge the truth and accuracy of this statement.

How can I say such a thing? On Thursday, Glenn Greenwald wrote it deep within his latest "bombshell" article for the Guardian: "To intentionally target either of those groups requires an individual warrant." The "groups" Greenwald referred to here are U.S. persons or residents.

And there you go.

This is easily the biggest news to come out of Thursday's dispatch from Snowden and Greenwald (or "Snowdenwald," as I've been using as a character-saving portmanteau on Twitter). Not only does it totally decimate CNet's journalistic blunder from last weekend about the NSA "admitting" to listening to calls without warrants, but it also represents a striking clarification in Greenwald's reporting, not to mention Snowden's claims of being able to target any American including the president at his own discretion and without a warrant. The "requires an individual warrant" line isn't the centerpiece of the article by any stretch. It's tossed into the mix almost as a throwaway when, in fact, there's nothing incidental about it at all.

We will never have a discussion on the facts NEVER and we can thank our grifter "press" Glenn Greenwald (L) Brazil.

"I honor the place in you where Spirit lives
I honor the place in you which is
of Love, of Truth, of Light, of Peace,
when you are in that place in you,
and I am in that place in me,
then we are One."  Namaste Friends!

Snowden Charged (2.00 / 2)
U.S. Charges Snowden With Espionage, seeks extradition from Hong Kong
"Federal prosecutors have filed a sealed criminal complaint against Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked a trove of documents about top-secret surveillance programs, and the United States has asked Hong Kong to detain him on a provisional arrest warrant, according to U.S. officials.

Snowden was charged with espionage, theft and conversion of government property, the officials said.

The complaint was filed in the Eastern District of Virginia, a jurisdiction where Snowden's former employer, Booz Allen Hamilton, is headquartered and a district with a long track record of prosecuting cases with national security implications. "

Words have meaning. Our words will reflect what is in our souls.

This was inevitable (2.00 / 5)
BTW I hear Obama has made an announcement that he wants a public conversation about the limits of security and privacy.

This is exactly the conversation we should be having.

Some usual suspects find this hypocritical. As I wrote in response

Can the President, or indeed members of congress, decide who to prosecute?

I thought that was one of the glories of the US constitution - the separation of powers.

Now you're criticising Obama for not being an autocrat?

That's fucked up.

I'm on the side of transparency, and give due credit to whistle. I also think it's great POTUS wants a proper conversation about the balance between security and privacy

But the idea a president can decide whether to prosecute someone for breaking the law....

That's bonkers

The p***artist formerly known as 'Brit'

[ Parent ]
There may actually be a vehicle for this discussion. (2.00 / 2)
In the check-in this morning, Denise mentioned this: Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board:
The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board is an independent agency within the executive branch established by Congress to advise the President of the United States and other senior executive branch officials to ensure that concerns with respect to privacy and civil liberties are appropriately considered in the development and implementation of all laws, regulations, and executive branch policies related to terrorism.

I had never heard of it. It came out of the 9/11 Commission and apparently one of those things that Republicans don't like so they are not allowing nominations to go forward.

Some public hearings in an independent agency instead of the witch hunt politics of the House might be a refreshing change.

Words have meaning. Our words will reflect what is in our souls.

[ Parent ]

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