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Jul 08 2013

More Snowden revelations

The Guardian has released video of the second part of the interview that Edward Snowden gave on June 6 to Glenn Greenwald. Laura Poitras, and Ewan MacAskill. (The first part can be seen here.) In this seven-minute clip, he explains what made him do what he did, saying, “I don’t want to live in a world where everything that I say, everything I do, everyone I talk to, every expression of creativity or love or friendship is recorded. And that’s not something I am willing to support, it’s not something I am willing to build, and its not something I am willing to live under. So I think anyone who opposes that sort of world has an obligation to act in the way they can.” He says he acted because the people who should have spoken up or stopped it did not do so.

Long before he became a household name and that video was made, he approached Poitras anonymously saying that he had information about the NSA. She contacted encryption and software engineer Jacob Appelbaum and together they had an encrypted email exchange to feel each other out. Appelbaum was concerned that this may have been a trap being set by the US government because of his activist work on behalf of WikiLeaks. So he and Snowden were both initially wary, wondering if each could trust the other.

You can also read the full exchange between Snowden and Poitras and Appelbaum that was published in Der Spiegel and is now available in English. They talk about some of the technical aspects of how the NSA works. Snowden confirms that the Stuxnet virus that attacked Iran was co-written by the US and Israel. He says that even the Queen of England communications are tapped into because who knows, she might be an al Qaeda mole. He also says that once you become a ‘target’, your computer effectively becomes the property of the NSA in that they keep track of everything that happens on it.

It is pretty disturbing stuff.

Meanwhile Eric Lichbau reports that the secret FISA court has issued rulings that “created a secret body of law giving the National Security Agency the power to amass vast collections of data on Americans while pursuing not only terrorism suspects, but also people possibly involved in nuclear proliferation, espionage, and cyber attacks.”

As he says, “Unlike the Supreme Court, the FISA court hears from only one side in the case — the government — and its findings are almost never made public.” So now we not only have a secret surveillance state, we are subjected to secret laws as well.

Meanwhile cartoonist Tom Tomorrow weighs in with his take on the media coverage of this story.

12 comments

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  1. 1
    Chiroptera

    “I don’t want to live in a world where everything that I say, everything I do, everyone I talk to, every expression of creativity or love or friendship is recorded. And that’s not something I am willing to support, it’s not something I am willing to build, and its not something I am willing to live under. So I think anyone who opposes that sort of world has an obligation to act in the way they can.”

    I was reading a cracked.com article the other day, and it occurred to me that the security agencies must have a tough time trying to hire people.

    If they hire people who are idealistic, then they run the risk that the people they hire will find what they are doing is wrong and leak it to the press.

    On the other hand, if they hire people without ideals, then they are likely to hire people who’ll sell secrets to the enemy for cash.

  2. 2
    machintelligence

    Chiroptera @ 1
    You might just have discovered Catch 23.

  3. 3
    Frank

    “He says that even the Queen of England communications are tapped into because who knows, she might be an al Qaeda mole.”

    I have it on good information (South Park) that Her Majesty is planning on reconquest of the USA, but is involved with Russians, not al Qaeda.

    But seriously, the Queen? Has our government really become this paranoid?

  4. 4
    eigenperson

    While I have no doubt the NSA monitors everything the Queen does, I don’t think it’s because they are worried about her being part of Al Qaeda. Rather, if they do, it’s part of their general “let’s spy on our friends” project.

  5. 5
    Chiroptera

    “You can’t beat that kind of intimacy.”

  6. 6
    Leo Buzalsky

    In regards to the Tom Tomorrow cartoon, I was on the verge of yelling at my TV last night. I was watching Last Word on MSNBC and Richard Wolffe was saying some BS about how Snowden’s credibility was distracting from the important conversation about government spying (or something to that effect). Sure…because Snowden’s credibility somehow impacts the facts reported…I guess? I had the feeling Wolffe was being quite dishonest. The only reason Snowden’s credibility would distract from that conversation is if people like Wolffe allow it to do so. Which makes me feel like people like that don’t actually want that conversation. They say they want it, but then take steps to help ensure they don’t get it. I figure it has to either be dishonesty or stupidity.

  7. 7
    Nathanael

    “If they hire people who are idealistic, then they run the risk that the people they hire will find what they are doing is wrong and leak it to the press.

    On the other hand, if they hire people without ideals, then they are likely to hire people who’ll sell secrets to the enemy for cash.”

    Hilariously and terribly, we know from experience that given the choice, a corrupt agency like the NSA will *prefer* choice #2. Because that’s less embarassing.

    It’s time to liquidate these agencies, torch the data centers and start over.

  8. 8
    Marcus Ranum

    They hire authoritarian followers. There are lots and lots of those.

  9. 9
    Marcus Ranum

    Has our government really become this paranoid?

    Suddenly, a great deal makes sense. Snowden is aiding “the enemy” because “the enemy” is – everyone.

    The national security state has lost its mind and has basically decided that everyone who isn’t part of the inner circle is the enemy.

  10. 10
    Marcus Ranum

    Richard Wolffe was saying some BS about how Snowden’s credibility was distracting from the important conversation about government spying

    But I bet he didn’t say anything about how Clapper’s credibility was distracting from the conversation….

    Here’s a problem: how much “conversation” can you have when one side is lying (or saying “I can’t tell you or I’d have to kill you”) and the other is hiding for its life?

  11. 11
    David Marjanović

    On the other hand, if they hire people without ideals, then they are likely to hire people who’ll sell secrets to the enemy for cash.

    Which is exactly what happened at least once during the Cold War. Some spy sold information to the Soviet Union, was caught, and was asked how he could do such a thing – the first thing he was taught, he said, was not to have a conscience.

  12. 12
    slc1

    Robert Hansson and Aldrich Ames.

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