89%

Barton Gellman, Julie Tate and Ashkan Soltani in the Washington Post:

Ordinary Internet users, American and non-American alike, far outnumber legally targeted foreigners in the communications intercepted by the National Security Agency from U.S. digital networks, according to a four-month investigation by The Washington Post.

Nine of 10 account holders found in a large cache of intercepted conversations, which former NSA contractor Edward Snowden provided in full to The Post, were not the intended surveillance targets but were caught in a net the agency had cast for somebody else.

Many of them were Americans. Nearly half of the surveillance files, a strikingly high proportion, contained names, e-mail addresses or other details that the NSA marked as belonging to U.S. citizens or residents. NSA analysts masked, or “minimized,” more than 65,000 such references to protect Americans’ privacy, but The Post found nearly 900 additional e-mail addresses, unmasked in the files, that could be strongly linked to U.S. citizens or U.S.residents.

This cache of documents from Snowden puts the lie to the NSA assertion that Snowden didn’t have access to intelligence intercepts.

Also, if you think that Snowden ought to have gone through channels, consider this.






170 replies
  1. 1
    rikyrah says:

    You all tickle me. Keep on clinging to the traitor. He needs to come back to this country and face the music. Why hide out in another country?

  2. 2
    MattF says:

    What strikes me as ominous is that no one considered deleting the ‘incidental’ intercepts because… well, they might turn out to be ‘useful’ in some other investigation. That’s police state reasoning.

  3. 3
    MattF says:

    Also, I really don’t want to hear audio autoplay about how my underwear may get ruined because of inadequate absorbency. FYWP.

  4. 4
    Cassidy says:

    Did Greenwald write something new today? I figured he’d give his sycophants one day off.

  5. 5
    Mandalay says:

    Well after only four posts, we already have two comments that completely ignore the OP, and make it all about Greenwald and Snowden. It’s childlike.

    Some skulls are so fucking thick nothing will penetrate them. It’s not about Greenwald and Snowden. It’s about what what our government is doing.

  6. 6
    Corner Stone says:

    Yawn. Known. Burger.

  7. 7
    Frankie's Elderly Mom says:

    …if you think that Snowden ought to have gone through channels, consider this.

    How TERRIBLE! He was forced to retire. I bet he got full benefits even.

  8. 8
    Cassidy says:

    And the dumbass signal has been lit! Entitled liberaltarians of the world unite! I salute you suburban libertarians and your brave, brave comments and posts in blogs.

  9. 9
    Corner Stone says:

    @Frankie’s Elderly Mom: Hilarious. Going through channels, using existing laws and having the FBI come to your house and confiscate everything in sight is completely the expected outcome.

  10. 10
    Corner Stone says:

    And I’ll repost this from yesterday:
    Wiretap info
    It’s a link to a PDF for stats from USCourts.gov
    In 10 years there have been 7 wiretap requests turned down, out of over 20,000+ requests.
    Average costs of intercepts for which costs reported: $41,119 in 2013. If I’m reading the table correctly.

  11. 11
    Keith P says:

    I don’t know very many people who have it work out very well when they go through proper channels at work if that doesn’t mean going to your direct supervisor and stopping there.

  12. 12
    Corner Stone says:

    This cache of documents from Snowden puts the lie to the NSA assertion that Snowden didn’t have access to intelligence intercepts.

    The NSA has lied about every aspect of this event, repeatedly. Yet for some reason quite a few still choose to uncritically repeat the NSA talking points wholesale.

  13. 13
    White Trash Liberal says:

    There’s not enough meat in this article from such a long investigation.

    65k references redacted, with 900 left open and available… Of these 900, how many provided info that was pursuant to an investigation. What were the warrants issued? What was their scope? What are the NSA procedures in this matter? Were they legally followed? Have their procedures since this data was released been improved to prevent wide net leakage?

    A lot more questions than answers. But I bet certain agenda driving writers will fill these question with answers that cast the darkest possible motives based on ascertained capabilities.

    Once more, the substance of what should be the most important domestic news story since the financial collapse is lacking. It’s like a trend or something. Crazy.

  14. 14
    LAC says:

    @Mandalay: yes, I forgot about the internment camps that all those people whose messages were intercepted were sent to.

    Seriously have you ever said, written anything that any intelligence agency would notice or care about or have to chug a 5 hour energy drink to get through? Months and months of this and all we have here is more dudebro flexing from the resident cranks.

  15. 15
    piratedan says:

    well I guess a relevant question would be, did he have authorized access or was his access obtained by obtaining passwords from folks (which he has admitted to doing) from which he then downloaded the contents of their workstations?

    your snippet doesn’t say and tbh, the Mother Jones story you linked to does have one helluva caveat at the end of the article.

  16. 16
    White Trash Liberal says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Perhaps because the main writers behind pushing this story have also lied repeatedly or sensationalized the details as clickbait.

  17. 17
    askew says:

    @rikyrah:

    Yep, Greenwald is playing these white men for fools. He’s ginning up outrage against the Obama admin and doing his damn best to dampen Democratic turnout in the midterm. Except another leak just as Democrats are starting to get fired up again about the latest GOP/SCOTUS outrage.

  18. 18
    The Dangerman says:

    …were not the intended surveillance targets but were caught in a net the agency had cast for somebody else.

    Or, in comparison to the non-digital world, the police were driving down the street looking for break-ins and might have looked in your window.

  19. 19
    Anton Sirius says:

    There are discoveries of considerable intelligence value in the intercepted messages… Among the most valuable contents — which The Post will not describe in detail, to avoid interfering with ongoing operations — are fresh revelations about a secret overseas nuclear project, double-dealing by an ostensible ally, a military calamity that befell an unfriendly power, and the identities of aggressive intruders into U.S. computer networks.

    Funny, I thought NSA’s spying operations did nothing but violate people’s privacy willy-nilly. Huh.

    It’s almost like the issue requires nuance and a careful, thoughtful cost-benefit analysis, instead of just staking out an extremist position on the internet, defending it in the face of all contrary evidence and trolling your enemies every chance you get with incendiary headlines and posts.

  20. 20
    MattF says:

    Oh dear. It looks like I’ve stepped into a pile of NSAshit. To anyone who may be reading this: I’M INNOCENT!!!

  21. 21
    LAC says:

    @White Trash Liberal: it is enough for BJ cranks to start their usual “THIS IS IT! THE GUN THAT SMOKED! I TOLD YA! IN YOUR FACE” crap.

  22. 22
    Holden Pattern says:

    It’s like a nursery rhyme:

    Greenwald’s a dick, Snowden’s weird!
    If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear!

  23. 23
    Remfin says:

    Is that percentage supposed to mean anything at all? Is it supposed to be scary? What is it supposed to be compared to?

    People do realize that (as an example) if my phone were tapped, and I called someone, then immediately 50% of the people on those wiretaps “were not the intended surveillance targets but were caught in a net the agency had cast for somebody else.”?

  24. 24
    Anton Sirius says:

    Wait, this is now my favorite part of the article:

    NSA analysts masked, or “minimized,” more than 65,000 such references to protect Americans’ privacy, but The Post found nearly 900 additional e-mail addresses, unmasked in the files, that could be strongly linked to U.S. citizens or U.S.residents.

    So three people on the byline, taking part in a four month investigation, and they couldn’t confirm that a single one of those 900 email addresses actually belonged to an American.

    Good job!

  25. 25
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @Mandalay: It’s actually about Barack Obama now being the government, thus anyone criticizing the government in any way is criticizing Obama, and they can’t have that. Thick skulls or comprehension has nothing to do with it, it’s reasoning driven by blind loyalty.

    Edit: If anyone imagines that I’m imagining that part or exaggerating it, as if on cue, we have this comment.

    It’s all about Obama in that camp, not the NSA.

  26. 26
    White Trash Liberal says:

    And FYI, mistermix, it’s not just us poor bootlicking Obots who believe Snowden should have attempted official channels. Snowden even claims to have tried and was rebuffed. Sad that out of all the docs he had, he failed to save his e-mails… But since all Snowden claims are inherently gospel ex cathedra, we have no other choice but to believe that even Fast Eddie should contact the IG.

    The only people on the media side who fervently claim Eddie had no choice but to be clandestine for liberty are Greenwald and other whistleblowers who happen to have gone through trials and magically escaped the supermax hellhole that is destined to swallow all who try to abide the law.

  27. 27
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @askew: This isn’t a Greenwald article.

  28. 28
    White Trash Liberal says:

    @Bill E Pilgrim:

    Who’s this “they”?

    And even the comment you linked makes your statement wrong… That comment is about suppressing voter turnout and damaging the democratic party and the function of government. The comment was, while hyperbolic, not germane to your straw man.

  29. 29
    Lolis says:

    After a year, this is all that they can come up with? The NSA doesn’t sound worse than what the police does every day. If someone is being wiretapped, than a lot of innocent people have their privacy violated as well. I am not sure how this is different just because the NSA is doing it. I think more transparency and safeguards would be good within the NSA, but I don’t see any evidence of rampant abuse. Am I missing something?

  30. 30
    Corner Stone says:

    @Anton Sirius: That’s not “could be?”, that is an affirmative use of “could be strongly linked“.

  31. 31
    Corner Stone says:

    No government oversight body, including the Justice Department, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, intelligence committees in Congress or the president’s Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, has delved into a comparably large sample of what the NSA actually collects

    Government oversight. Indeed.

  32. 32
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    The thing about the NSA is how resources are wasted monitoring people who are not targets of the monitoring.

    But, the contractors still get paid and profit, so no big whoop.

  33. 33
    Corner Stone says:

    @Lolis:

    I think more transparency and safeguards would be good within the NSA, but I don’t see any evidence of rampant abuse.

    How about “any” transparency or safeguards?
    No one knows what they’re doing. Nobody has bothered to find out. The DNI lied outright to Congress. No part of the oversight bodies knows anything.

  34. 34
    piratedan says:

    @Bill E Pilgrim: not so sure about that Bill, not saying that there aren’t staunch defenders of this presidency in place (I’m certainly one of them) but I haven’t seen much in the way of evidence that shows that the NSA is breaking the laws that are on the books based on directives from within the government itself. What I have seen is that Obama has tried to add additional oversight to the process, add transparency to it and has come out and stated that it is up to Congress to do even more to revoke the broad strokes that the Bushies put into place when they conceived Homeland Security to begin with. Can it be better, hell yeah, I have no problem with following and participating in the discussion regarding what should be kept private and what the government does and doesn’t have access to, that discussion gets lost with the fainting couch dispatches that allude to potential abuses without delivering much substance. It’s like saying that I have to potential to be a concert pianist because I have good eyesight and nimble fingers without discussion whether or not I can read music or have any musical inclination.

    Pardon me for being skeptical about all of these “revelations” that only took place post the Obama election and have come at the behest of folks who have placed themselves firmly in the camp of the opposition and said essentially bupkis when things were being done in the name of “patriotism and freedom” with the previous administration. Then their actions with the data revealed don’t actually reveal crimes of privacy infringed on a mass scale when taken in context and civil liberties impugned but rather of what is taking place internationally in regards to fighting terrorism abroad and the domestic reveals are roughly the equivalent of what any online retailer and phone companies already know about you and store.

    am still open to the fact that yes, the NSA (and the Intelligence community at large) do things that I may not be cool with on a personal level, but the discussion needs to be (imho) how do you legislate and monitor that behemoth (and no, I don’t think privatizing it was the answer, tyvm GOP) and how do you manage that with the sausage making process?

  35. 35
    jheartney says:

    Many other files, described as useless by the analysts but nonetheless retained, have a startlingly intimate, even voyeuristic quality. They tell stories of love and heartbreak, illicit sexual liaisons, mental-health crises, political and religious conversions, financial anxieties and disappointed hopes. The daily lives of more than 10,000 account holders who were not targeted are catalogued and recorded nevertheless.

    Having this material in the hands of an agency with a record of execrable security (see Snowden, Edward and Manning, Chelsea) is no cause for concern at all.

    For those here with a touching faith in the good intentions of the NSA, what about the good intentions of those they inadvertently leak to? If these reporters got to see these files, who else has them and isn’t publishing?

  36. 36
    Anton Sirius says:

    @Corner Stone: I’m shocked that you would choose to have another interpretation of that sentence.

    There is a difference between “could be strongly linked” and “are strongly linked”, much less a simple “belong to”, and it’s telling they went with the former.

  37. 37
    The Dangerman says:

    @Corner Stone:

    No one knows what they’re doing.

    Other than Snowden and Greenwald, right? Right.

    Hey, did you see Michael Sam was going to have a reality show care of Oprah? Not bad for a 7th round draft pick.

  38. 38
    Corner Stone says:

    @Remfin:

    People do realize that (as an example) if my phone were tapped, and I called someone, then immediately 50% of the people on those wiretaps

    And in those cases, the FBI terminates the recording if a wife or child or other non-target is on the call. They are then supposed to “discard irrelevant data”.

  39. 39
    thecatdraggedin says:

    So I guess we are moving into a few days of Snowden pr0n.

  40. 40
    Corner Stone says:

    @piratedan:

    did he have authorized access or was his access obtained by obtaining passwords from folks (which he has admitted to doing)

    Do you have a cite for this assertion? Because Snowden himself has denied ever doing this.
    Do you have a source for the allegation he admitted this?

  41. 41
    LAC says:

    @Corner Stone: which is why anyone with good sense goes to china, then Russia. They do due process there so well.

  42. 42
    rda909 says:

    Oh how cute. Gotta trot out one of the ‘ol standbys to dampen the encouraging economic news from a couple days ago. Can’t have those Democrats and President Obama gaining any momentum for the midterms, and getting more people such as Justice Sotomayor on the Supreme Court, because METADATA, that’s why!

    When are you pure progressive going to start that new party with the Libertarians anyway? It’s seeming like y’all are just all talk (and type), and don’t really care about making actual, you know, progress. Get on it, you patriots!

  43. 43
    WereBear says:

    @Anton Sirius: It’s almost like the issue requires nuance and a careful, thoughtful cost-benefit analysis, instead of just staking out an extremist position on the internet, defending it in the face of all contrary evidence and trolling your enemies every chance you get with incendiary headlines and posts.

    You nut!

    Actually, I agree. The 9/11 hijackers were reported to authorities. It needed investigation. If the Bush administration hadn’t blown off anti-terrorism completely as a “Clinton thing” the tragedy might not have happened.

  44. 44
  45. 45
    Corner Stone says:

    @Anton Sirius: That individual indicates he shared a PublicKey cert.
    As you are such a serious parser of language, I am sure you’ll grasp the difference.

    ETA, and the assertion was that Snowden had “admitted” to doing it. I’d like a source for that, please.

  46. 46
    nellcote says:

    consider:

    “Snowden here did not leak programmatic information about government activity. He leaked many tens of thousands of personal communications of a type that, in government hands, are rightly subject to strict controls. They are subject to strict controls precisely so that the woman in lingerie, the kid beaming before a mosque, the men showing off their physiques, and the woman whose love letters have to be collected because her boyfriend is off looking to join the Taliban don’t have to pay an unnecessarily high privacy price. Yes, the Post has kept personal identifying details from the public, and that is laudable. But Snowden did not keep personal identifying details from the Post. He basically outed thousands of people—innocent and not—and left them to the tender mercies of journalists. This is itself a huge civil liberties violation. And we should talk about it as such.”

  47. 47
    Corner Stone says:

    @The Dangerman: Good for him. I hope he makes a lot of money from all his endorsement deals he’s stacking up.

    ETA, of course, you just can’t ever seem to stop lying about Michael Sam, for some reason. Why is that, do you suppose?
    “Oprah Winfrey Network postpones Michael Sam documentary”

    “If you were looking forward to watching the Rams linebacker Michael Sam documentary series on the Oprah Winfrey Network, you might have a longer wait than expected. Or a wait that will never end.”

  48. 48
    Anton Sirius says:

    @Corner Stone:

    As you are such a serious parser of language

    Umm, no d00d, that’s what you’ve been doing. Nice try though.

  49. 49
    Corner Stone says:

    @Anton Sirius: Um, no d00d. You’re the one who marked your “favorite” part of the article and bolded the words “could be” in the middle of a declarative sentence.
    I believe that was you, wasn’t it?

  50. 50
    Anton Sirius says:

    @Corner Stone:You believe a lot of things.

  51. 51
    taylormattd says:

    So how many years of “new” “reporting” of the same stories can we get out of this?

    How many times will bloggers and newspapers post stories purporting to reveal scandalous new information, when that information was previously reported by the same bloggers and news organizations?

  52. 52
    Cassidy says:

    @Holden Pattern: Agree with him or not, he is a smarmy prick. I think everyone can agree with that.

  53. 53
    rda909 says:

    @Cassidy: They are getting close to Peak Progtarian. One of their generals in the War of Ideas-Battle of the Bilge, is openly promoting Libertarians in the race that could take down Scott Walker, despite there being a strong Democrat in the race:
    http://host.madison.com/ct/new.....b949b.html

  54. 54
    Cassidy says:

    Someone wake me when the NSA has gathered more information on us than the banks and corporations that are actively trying to fuck us.

  55. 55
    rda909 says:

    @taylormattd: Whaddyamean?!? We have the new Pulitzer-level revelation this time of “could be strongly linked.” That’s Murrowesque.

  56. 56
    taylormattd says:

    My prediction: the next set of “new” stories fed to the Post by the Intercept people will be about “direct access” or secret “backdoors” into data held by Google or Verizon. (They will, of course, turn out to be so incorrect as to be useless, but by that point, mistermix and the rest of the hyperventolatosphere will have posted dozens of rants, shoring up the zombie lie)

  57. 57
    taylormattd says:

    @rda909: Well it’s worse than that. This is literally the same information that was hyperventilated about last June. (ZOMG, THE NSA IS VACUUMING UP INFORMATION OF AMERICAN NON-TARGETS!!!). Do people really not remember this? They don’t remember the whole argument about data “minimization” when it happened like a year ago?

  58. 58
    Denali says:

    This is an important article because it finally brimg to light the stories of people who are not terrorists but who have had their personal histories violated. The German film The Lives of Others shows how this worked int the days of the Staszi. How sad that we have sunk to their level.

  59. 59
    taylormattd says:

    “New”

    June 20, 2013:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/.....story.html

  60. 60
    FlipYrWhig says:

    Isn’t this just a description of how “minimization” works? They suck up a bunch of stuff and hold it essentially forever. If they looked at the stuff, they’d find a bunch of embarrassing things being written by innocent people. So they try to anonymize it in the archives, but they aren’t 100% successful. I’m curious to know how often they do look at the stuff and how. Otherwise we’re still in the domain of “this has the potential to be abused by bad actors who would do what our reporters did” rather than “this is being abused” or “this is being used exactly as intended.”

  61. 61
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Anton Sirius:

    Here’s the original story about it. I think some people are not quite as knowledgable about network security as they think they are:

    (A public key infrastructure certificate is a highly secure system of password and log-in exchanges designed to protect against unauthorized access to sensitive computer networks.)

  62. 62
    taylormattd says:

    @FlipYrWhig: That’s exactly what this story is. It is “minimization” repackaged as a “new” scandal.

  63. 63
    Gian says:

    These never go well. But people who argue that Greenwald is a Johnny come lately are lazy and full of crap.
    Go check amazon on his books and when they were written. The “how would a patriot act” is from 2006.
    It’s also chock full of anger at Bush.
    Greenwald is a jerk but the fantasy that he discovered this issue in January 2009 says more about the people who argue it than it says about him

    There will be no updates to this post

  64. 64
    Cassidy says:

    @Denali: Looks like someone needs to crack open a history book.

  65. 65
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @taylormattd: it seems like it’s a story about how minimization is 98.6% successful: out of 65,900 references, 65,000 were appropriately masked, and 900 were missed. Then the team of reporters did second-order investigation on the 900 that got through. How often do intelligent agency grunts do what the reporters did, and under what conditions? I’m sure I’d like to know that. But, for now at least, it seems like the opposite of a widespread problem.

  66. 66
    rda909 says:

    @Gian: “There will be no updates to this post”

    Good, since what you were typing about isn’t the issue.

  67. 67
    Howard Beale IV says:

    @Mnemosyne: That statement on a PKI certificate is certainly a howler. Seems these folks have a difficult time differentiating between authentication and authorization.

  68. 68
    Cassidy says:

    @rda909: Anyone who falls for the libertarian con isn’t worth my time.

  69. 69
    WaterGirl says:

    @Frankie’s Elderly Mom: That retirement offer was clearly a threat to him, and the very official search was a threat to his family. I would have gotten the hell out, too.

    Abuse of power.

  70. 70
    AxelFoley says:

    @rikyrah:

    You all tickle me. Keep on clinging to the traitor. He needs to come back to this country and face the music. Why hide out in another country?

    I know, right? Mix is determined to crash and burn with this idiot and his handler Greenwald.

  71. 71
    LAC says:

    @Denali: I was wondering when the term “Staszi” was going to be used. That one is a “winner winner, chicken dinner” word.

  72. 72
    FlipYrWhig says:

    I’m actually a bit surprised that the figure for unsuspected communications is as _low_ as 89%. Shouldn’t a circle of associates of associates of “targets” (two jumps is the standard, isn’t it?) have many more un-targeted, un-germane people in it than that?

  73. 73
    Mnemosyne says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    One of the things that probably needs to be done is have stricter deletion requirements within a faster timeframe — say, they have a week to determine whether or not an email/conversation that was captured is relevant to that specific investigation, and require that it be permanently deleted/destroyed within 48 hours if it’s not.

    If we can do it with gun purchase records, we sure as hell can do it with emails.

  74. 74
    Patricia Kayden says:

    @Mandalay: So what is Congress doing to stop what our government is doing? Has Congress passed any laws to curb NSA’s spying powers? Are the American people putting pressure on Congress to change any laws curbing the NSA?

    Seems like nothing is being done to actually make any concrete changes to the NSA’s powers. Hence the focus on Greenwald and Snowden.

  75. 75
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Gian:

    Greenwald is a jerk but the fantasy that he discovered this issue in January 2009 says more about the people who argue it than it says about him

    I’m pretty sure people are referring to Snowden when they say that, not Greenwald. It’s pretty incontrovertible that Snowden had some very harsh things to say about leakers right up until Obama took office.

  76. 76
    Patricia Kayden says:

    @piratedan: Well said.

  77. 77
    Anoniminous says:

    Public key encryption isn’t a panacea. It can be broken

    “… the team concluded, attackers could use public keys to guess the corresponding private keys that are used to decrypt data — a scenario that was previously believed to be impossible.

    This is an extremely serious cryptographic vulnerability caused by the use of insufficiently good random numbers when generating private keys” for HTTPS, SSL and TSL servers, said Peter Eckersley, senior technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The EFF contributed data for the research.

    But even so:

    The researchers studied 6.6 million public keys generated using the RSA algorithm, and found that 12,720 were not secure at all and 27,000 others were vulnerable.

    or .006% of all encryption keys tested.

    Needs to be noted the Big Three Operating Systems are insecure by design and cannot be made secure. If the NSA and/or etc. want to read your email the fastest, easiest, way is to simply hack your computer directly and skip the decrypting argy-bargy. In that respect, using any encryption routine puts one higher in the ‘person-of-interest’ category.

  78. 78
    Gian says:

    @Mnemosyne:
    Snowden leaking and running to two geopolitical opponents is hard to overlook

  79. 79
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Mnemosyne: sounds like a good idea that civil libertarians could embrace — although personally I kind of wish the gun records weren’t deleted that fast. I don’t think many governments are going to incline towards preserving _less_ sensitive and potentially useful information, however remote that usefulness may appear to be, unless they’re pushed by activists (with zeal and traction comparable to 2nd Amendment-eers) and the courts. The path of least resistance is always going to be to grab everything and make assurances that it won’t be misused. Altering that path will take a lot of work.

  80. 80
    tybee says:

    @Anoniminous:

    your link, please to fix.

  81. 81
    Corner Stone says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Shouldn’t a circle of associates of associates of “targets” (two jumps is the standard, isn’t it?) have many more un-targeted, un-germane people in it than that?

    It depends on where you start. I’m continually amazed at why anyone keeps giving the benefit of the doubt to the NSA, the benefit that somehow their actions are really mostly benign?

    In their classified internal communications, colleagues and supervisors often remind the analysts that PRISM and Upstream collection have a “lower threshold for foreignness ‘standard of proof’ ” than a traditional surveillance warrant from a FISA judge, requiring only a “reasonable belief” and not probable cause.

    One analyst rests her claim that a target is foreign on the fact that his e-mails are written in a foreign language, a quality shared by tens of millions of Americans. Others are allowed to presume that anyone on the chat “buddy list” of a known foreign national is also foreign.

    In many other cases, analysts seek and obtain approval to treat an account as “foreign” if someone connects to it from a computer address that seems to be overseas. “The best foreignness explanations have the selector being accessed via a foreign IP address,” an NSA supervisor instructs an allied analyst in Australia.

  82. 82
    Corner Stone says:

    I type some emails to my Spanish instructor in a foreign language. I connect through an encrypted channel for work, sometimes from places outside the US. I’m on the IM “buddy list” of about 100+ people located outside the US, some in predominantly Muslim nations. One of my best friends for the last dozen years was born and raised in Syria, with family all over that country he talks to almost daily.
    Am I foreign now, too?

  83. 83
    Corner Stone says:

    The surveillance state can’t even keep track of how many people it’s spying on anymore.
    “The NSA conducted “backdoor” searches 198 times in 2013 (and another 9,500 for internet metadata on Americans). Curiously, the CIA conducts far more warrantless searches of American information in the NSA databases than the NSA itself – almost 10 times more. But the FBI was the worst culprit, querying data on Americans so many times it couldn’t even count. The DNI left it at this: “the FBI believes the number of queries is substantial.”
    “The PCLOB also went on to reveal in its report that the FBI can search the vast Prism database for crimes that have nothing to do with terrorism, or even national security. Oh, and how many US persons have had their data collected through Prism and other 702 programs? That government has no idea.”

  84. 84
    Anoniminous says:

    @tybee:

    Trying this.

    ETA: works for me

  85. 85
    The Dangerman says:

    @Corner Stone:

    ETA, of course, you just can’t ever seem to stop lying about Michael Sam, for some reason. Why is that, do you suppose?

    You did note that I said WAS going to have, right? Is English a second language for you or do you just generally have problems understanding verb tense?

    “Oprah Winfrey Network postpones Michael Sam documentary”

    Curious, they say “postpone”, not “cancel”.

    I wish young Mr. Sam the best, but for those that said he wasn’t going to cash in on his “situation”, well, they have been well proven (how many 7th rounders get deals with Visa?) to be wrong. Sucks, huh?

  86. 86
    Joel says:

    This doesn’t surprise me at all; once you’ve established any sort of broad program, you’re going to have huge competency issues. In the case of surveillance, that means a lot of “friendly fire”.

  87. 87
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Corner Stone: My point is that mix’s “89%” and the article’s “nearly 9 out of 10” are set up to sound like Big Numbers, but a more intrusive NSA program would result in much bigger numbers, wouldn’t it? If they were indiscriminately grabbing everything on as many people they could find with as tenuous an association to the target as they could justify, which is the fear, the number would be a lot higher than 89%.

    I haven’t done math in a little while, so bear with me as I estimate…

    I have thousands of emails in my inbox from hundreds of different people, all of whom have hundreds of associates themselves. Let’s say it’s 500 different people linked to me, each of whom is linked to 500 other people. If I was the only one targeted, the universe of my email communications and my associates’ email communications would be something like 500 + (500 * 500), minus duplicates. Right? So in this model I’m the one target among 250,500 email addresses. The archive is 99.9996% untargeted individuals. 99,999 out of 100,000.

    If that math is screwed up, fine. I’m happy to say I’m wrong. Mostly what I’m trying to get at is that “9 out of 10” seems _lower_, a lot lower, than what I’d expect a program of indiscriminate surveillance to yield.

  88. 88
  89. 89
    NobodySpecial says:

    Everyone seems to think you’re bashing Obama if you worry about the police state.

    Remember J. Edgar Hoover? It’s not about Obama, it’s about an agency that thinks it’s above the law, crossing more administrations than I care to remember.

  90. 90
    Morzer says:

    So, another day, another meaningless story hyped by the Griftwald circle of white male glibertarians, Kochsuckers, racists, cranks and fantasists. No doubt Corner Stone is now gibbering about the document it found yesterday which shows that (oh shock, oh horror!) the police have been getting warrants to listen to drug-dealers’ cell-phones. And so the big nothing-burger slides ever on through the leaky colon of paranoia.

  91. 91
    Gene108 says:

    @askew:

    I do not if Snowden/Greenwald is deliberate ratfucking but the end result is the same.

    Enthusiasm for Democrats gets reduced and younger people, who were on the fence about being poltically engaged decide to sit out.

  92. 92
    Corner Stone says:

    People who care about the Constitution are nutters, apparently.
    Thanks, Morzy!

  93. 93
    Corner Stone says:

    @FlipYrWhig: Your maths are not the issue here. They have ill-defined what a legitimate “target” is. All the rest have been included in scope because they have relationships, and tangential links, to those defined targets.
    But when you take a look at who a target could be under their qualification system, that’s kind of a problem.

  94. 94
    Heliopause says:

    @Corner Stone:

    27%ers of the left.

  95. 95
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @NobodySpecial: But the activities being defined as spying, eavesdropping, monitoring and so forth are much more indirect than in the Hoover era. Having your email end up in an anonymized archive is less intrusive than having your phone conversations recorded, listened to, and transcribed. It’s not a happy thought, but it’s not radically dystopian either, although it’s easy to imagine abuses and how easy they would be to justify rhetorically. I’d like to see some kind of Digital Bill of Rights that defined and secured privacy in a world where there are a lot of devices other than tape recorders and paper records, to which we entrust a lot of sensitive information that feels like _ours_ even though it may technically belong to a web of vendors.

  96. 96
    Belafon says:

    This cache of documents from Snowden puts the lie to the NSA assertion that Snowden didn’t have access to intelligence intercepts.

    You mean the guy who borrowed other people’s accounts to gain access to information?

  97. 97
    Corner Stone says:

    @The Dangerman: He’s gay. That isn’t a “situation”. Jeebus fuck.

  98. 98
    Howard Beale IV says:

    @Anoniminous: Which three OS’s ?

  99. 99
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Corner Stone: I think that’s a fine issue to raise — whether targets are being targeted legitimately and skeptically — but that isn’t really what the article is foregrounding, or what mix is highlighting, which is that a lot of what they’re amassing on their nominal targets is untargeted junk. But it could quite easily have been far more scattershot than this. If anything it seems like that figure suggests that they’re _trying_ to be somewhat particular. If they’re being particular stupidly, which could well be the case, that’s a potential story (how do they decide who a target’s associates are, if it has to be a small number for the math to check out?). But this story as written doesn’t really seem to bear out the interpretation of indiscriminate-ness and overreach. IOW, your story about who’s on the list of targets in the first place is a much more significant one than this, IMHO, at least if I’m in the neighborhood when it comes to the numbers and the scale.

  100. 100
    Emma says:

    I am very slow on the uptake. It has taken me about a dozen of these posts before I realized that the left has its own brand of Tea Partier: suspicious of everything the government does, fond of conspiracy theories, easy prey for the conmen, and willing to blame everyone but the people whose fault it really is.

    Can you say “Congressional oversight”? I thought you could!

  101. 101
    Belafon says:

    @Joel: In any system where the number of people that are not part of the group being targeted is a whole lot larger than the group being targeted, there are going to be a lot of false positives. That’s why tests for things such as cancer never just include one test. You do the easy one first, and then the expensive one if called for.

  102. 102
    jheartney says:

    @Emma:

    Can you say “Congressional oversight”? I thought you could!

    Have you had a look at our Congress lately? The ones who want to deliberately destroy the government’s credit and crash the economy just to stick it to the Kenyan muslim? Who think the Bible is a science text? You trust them to do oversight?

  103. 103
    tybee says:

    @Anoniminous:

    that one worked. thanks.

  104. 104
    Corner Stone says:

    @FlipYrWhig: The article details some of that criteria. If you’re in a chat room when a target enters, you are swept up. I’ve detailed other bogus criteria. It’s not very useful or accurate, IMO.
    And then we take a list of “targets” and extrapolate out for the “innocents” who may have some or no association with the “target”.
    The assertion that the numbers of individuals swept up is not that big of a deal seems to gloss right by all the people who have been targeted speciously. When you target one person who should not be, and then another 9 who really shouldn’t be, what are you doing?

  105. 105
    Mnemosyne says:

    @jheartney:

    That is, of course, one of the reasons our current Congress refuses to do anything about surveillance — they want a future Republican president to be able to use all of these tools (and more) to spy on their “enemies.” They would rather whine and complain about Obama having too much power than actually take any of that power away (as is their freakin’ duty) because they want their side to be able to use it in the future.

    Sure, Obama could issue a bunch of executive orders limiting what the NSA is doing right now, but we all know what happens to executive orders when the executive branch changes hands.

  106. 106
    Belafon says:

    @Anoniminous:

    Needs to be noted the Big Three Operating Systems are insecure by design and cannot be made secure.

    The “Big Three OSs” are not insecure by design, any more than you’re vulnerable to disease by design. Complex systems have vulnerabilities, and other things evolve to take advantage of them. The big difference is that, in computers, people could choose not to look for them.

  107. 107
    Anoniminous says:

    @Howard Beale IV:

    Windows, OSX, Linux

  108. 108
    Anoniminous says:

    @Belafon:

    Allowing download of executable code into program memory which can muck with the OS is insecure by design. We learned this back in the BBS days.

  109. 109
    Emma says:

    @jheartney: No. But that’s the problem, isn’t it? It is their legal and constitutional role. A President will use the tools he’s been given to do his job as he sees it. Until we deal with the fact that one branch of government has abdicated its role, there’s damn little we can fix.

  110. 110
    Gene108 says:

    @Bill E Pilgrim:

    We are in a fight to the death with concervatives. Though liberals probably do not agree, for most of the public Obama is the face of liberal opposition to conservatives.

    Not so much because Obama is a liberal, but the Republicans in Congress
    are so uniformly conservative Obama not giving into them is perceived as a stand for a liberal agenda.

    There no longer is any nuance in our politics. A blow to Obama is a blow to the broader liberal agenda and a win for concervatives.

    NSA ooga-booga means Rand Paul can rant against out of control government programs like the NSA -win the hearts and minds of some voters who hate concervatives- while conflating it as a reason to shitcan a highway bill (government is out of control, we should not expand government anymore, look at the bloated NSA).

    Our politics is now a zero sum game. Our side gains or their side gains.

    Anything that reduces trust in government is a blow to the liberal agenda.

    And you what happens when the general citizenry had a low level of trust in government? It opens the door for a neo-Reagan to step in speaking platitudes that sooth the masses.

    In the grand scheme of things my life is no different now than it was before Snowden or even during Bush & Co’s warrant less wiretapping days, and I think this is the case for most people.

    If liberals want pick a cause to die on the NSA surveillance is just too esoteric for most of is to care about; there was next to no material impact in anyone’s life.

    The public’s attention is limited. There are more material problems people face on a daily basis than NSA data gathering. For the liberal agenda to succeed people have to have a base line of trust in the government. We no longer do nuance. Government is either good or bad. Focusing on the NSA is focusing on a “government bad” agenda, which ultimately undermines liberal attempts to use government to change things for the better.

  111. 111
    Belafon says:

    @Anoniminous: When that was created, it wasn’t considered a vulnerability. Kind of like the fact that the internet was originally designed to track your usage. It was considered a good thing.

  112. 112
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    @Gene108: Well said.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  113. 113
    Joey Giraud says:

    Luftballon Saft – 1936:

    Some think the new Austrian chancellor is not telling us the truth, but they’re just dumkoffs and douche-paddleboots.

  114. 114
    Joey Giraud says:

    @Anoniminous:

    Bah! Another Ivy League Snob!

  115. 115
    Botsplainer says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Oh no! Some 8th level down flunky at the NSA may have access to your scintillating “I put on my robe and wizard hat” dialogue.

    To the barricades, man!

  116. 116
    Anoniminous says:

    @Belafon:

    Agree. Unfortunately it has turned into a nightmare.

  117. 117
    Carolinus says:

    @Gene108:

    Yup. GG’s cheerleading for David Brat (and before him the two Pauls) should have set alarm-bells ringing for liberals of all stripes. A perpetual anti-govt freak-out will ultimately only benefit anti-gov’t politicians and the agendas they seek to advance.

  118. 118
    Corner Stone says:

    @Botsplainer: I know! *Outrage!*
    It’s ok though. Now they know you know about the fucksaw. Can’t claim indignant innocence any longer!
    Good Botsplainer. There, there, Botsplainer.

  119. 119
    Betty Cracker says:

    If the discussion around this issue hadn’t solidified into a foul-smelling amalgam of self-righteousness, reflexive posturing, butt-hurt, tribalism and stupidity months ago, the linked article would probably be a pretty good jumping off point for a debate about how much privacy we’re willing to trade off for what measure of security. That’s really the only important question.

  120. 120
    Corner Stone says:

    @Gene108: Ha ha ha. Don’t complain, Good Germans.
    If you do, the enemy wins!

  121. 121
    Corner Stone says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    be a pretty good jumping off point for a debate about how much privacy we’re willing to trade off for what measure of security.

    I’m vaguely remembering an old saying on this proposed tradeoff…

  122. 122
    Corner Stone says:

    @Betty Cracker: They have no idea who is who. They can’t tell us who they are monitoring. And when they do open their mouths, it’s a fucking lie. Time after time after time.
    What trade off discussion would you propose having under these terms?

  123. 123
    Anoniminous says:

    @Joey Giraud:

    Actually I’m a bio-inspired AI Neural Net kinda guy.

    (After all, what could possibly go wrong?)

  124. 124
    Carolinus says:

    @Botsplainer:

    Oh no! Some 8th level down flunky at the NSA may have access to your scintillating “I put on my robe and wizard hat” dialogue.

    I’m far less concerned about that hypothetical 8th level down flunky than those 160K personal communications getting into the hands of real bad actors. They were recklessly removed from the realm of access restrictions & minimization procedures, transported to China, and now are in the hands of journalists, bloggers, documentary filmmakers and tech/anti-secrecy activists all over the world. I mean if they weren’t stolen while in China, they seem destined to eventually leak out (just as the wikileaks cables eventually did), and at that point the identity theft, secrets outed, extortion, etc will be monstrous.

  125. 125
    Gene108 says:

    @Corner Stone:

    On the scale of things that put a crimp in my style the NSA ain’t on the list.

    Rising food prices is a big fucking deal.

    Stagnant wages is a big deal.

    Lack of job opportunities is a big deal. I remember in the 1990’s and pre-2008, people were able to move to other jobs to get better pay and positions. That seems to be the exception than the norm now. Even if you have a job trying to move your career ahead is a lot harder than it was a short while ago.

    Lack of an energy policy is a big deal. High fuel prices help drive high food prices. It contributes to Global Warming that has messed up weather patterns enough to impact crop production, adding to higher food prices.

    There’s so much shit that needs to be done that impacts is much more than the NSA, focusing time and energy on the NSA is no longer funny.

  126. 126
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Corner Stone: I don’t think anyone outside the security agencies and their pack of mostly toothless watchdogs has a clue about the scale of the surveillance regime. IIRC, most of the prior revelations are about capabilities rather than real-life applications. This article describes who ends up in the surveillance dragnet, so it provides a clue about the scale.

    My hypothetical debate would address whether or not it’s worth the time, money and privacy invasions necessary to collect and analyze the copious digital output of a failed Taliban wannabe and his dumb girlfriend for months on end. That’s some small-ass small fry there.

  127. 127
    Joey Giraud says:

    @Anoniminous:

    Not that neural nets are any more deterministic.

    I too prefer to not give the machines the keys to the car, so to speak.

    Great movie, by the way.

  128. 128
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Corner Stone: Whether the alphabet agencies are doing something stupid is a different question than whether they’re doing something intrusive or abusive. If they vacuum up a thousand names and then discard 900 of them, that seems inefficient. If they vacuum up a thousand names and then keep all of them, that’s heading in the direction of abuse — depending on what they do with what they keep.

    All the top-line number seems to suggest is that, along the lines of what Belafon was saying, they’re looking for a small number of people in a big group. That’s the “make the haystack bigger” phenomenon. My point is that an infinite haystack would lead to a dramatic increase in the amount of garbage being generated, which suggests that we’re far from Peak Haystack. The number raises different issues than “OMG they’re collecting everything on everybody.” If they were doing that, they’d have a very different number to report.

    “Is this doing anybody any good?” is always a crucial question, but I didn’t think it was the question mix was raising, or the WaPo.

  129. 129
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Betty Cracker: hey, your hypothetical debate matches my previous comment!

  130. 130
    weaselone says:

    So when are we going to start talking about the massive civil liberties violation that Snowden and Greenwald have committed buy dumping thousands of personal emails into the laps of journalists and a fugitive, alleged sexual predator? Or are we just going to ignore that the actual violation of civil liberties here was not on the part of the NSA, but on the part of Snowden and Greenwald?

  131. 131
    Botsplainer says:

    @Corner Stone:

    : I know! *Outrage!*
    It’s ok though. Now they know you know about the fucksaw. Can’t claim indignant innocence any longer!
    Good Botsplainer. There, there, Botsplainer.

    Not the fucksaw. The fuckdrill, spinning as fast as that Black and Decker motor will allow, up to the limit of a single battery charge (guessing 3 continuous hours). I guess a needy body could have a spare ready and charged for swap outs….

  132. 132
    Corner Stone says:

    @Gene108: Sigh. Other things.

  133. 133
    Corner Stone says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    My hypothetical debate would address whether or not it’s worth the time, money and privacy invasions necessary to collect and analyze the copious digital output of a failed Taliban wannabe and his dumb girlfriend for months on end. That’s some small-ass small fry there.

    Doesn’t your hypothetical answer itself?
    I suggest that before we set the limits of this hypothetical, we give it a shot to understand the actual reality of what’s going on. The capabilities are the actual programs. This has been displayed time and again. The fact that Flip keeps trying to distract from how people get targeted, and then others get swept up, should be fairly instructive.
    But a lot of people here don’t want to be bothered with understanding those limits. They claim tribalism and dudebroism and tell us OTHER THINGS!
    People can, in fact, care about a number of things at the same time.
    I personally don’t feel like granting this govt any benefit of the doubt in the non-transparent discussion of trading privacy for security.
    They didn’t see Boston, Ukraine, Egypt, ISIS, etc.
    And we’re supposed to give them more leeway?

  134. 134
    Corner Stone says:

    @FlipYrWhig: When you have the power of the state, and it’s capturing information for an indeterminate period of review, then doing something “stupid” is doing something “abusive”.

  135. 135
  136. 136
    Howard Beale IV says:

    @Anoniminous: So you fix the von Neuman curse at the OS level-doesn’t men you cure it at the infrastucture and app layers.

  137. 137
    Betty Cracker says:

    @weaselone: Did Snowden dump docs with Assange? I was under the impression that he didn’t. IIRC, Wikileaks did some Snowden related posturing but were ultimately blown off. I think Snowden has done some dumb things (the softball question on Putin’s call-in program comes to mind), but I think he deserves a little credit for avoiding the Assange circus.

    As for violating civil liberties by dumping docs w/ journalists…nah. Unless you think the VA whistleblowers should be busted for HIPAA violations.

  138. 138
    Corner Stone says:

    People. Exposing possible abuses by the government is called whistleblowing. No one would have had any access to that “strictly controlled” information if the government was not scooping it up with no cause. And storing it indefinitely. For who knows why or how long.

  139. 139
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    It may be puffery, but Wikileaks itself claims that “WikiLeaks, whilst being a publishing organisation, also fights for the rights and protections of journalistic sources, and so has taken a leading role in assisting Mr Snowden secure his safety.” The person who took him to Russia and helped him claim asylum was a Wikileaks employee. So it does seem somewhat likely that Wikileaks has copies of the files stashed away.

    (Yes, yes, Snowden double-pinky-swears that he didn’t have any extra copies of the files on his two laptops or USB drives, and that he totally didn’t give files to anyone except Greenwald. And I have a bridge in Brooklyn for you, cheap.)

  140. 140
    Cassidy says:

    And we have the suburban liberaltarian in a nutshell: complains about the NSA having private emails, but completely cool if those same emails were given to Daddy Greenwald. Either way, not the intended recipient, but only one gets the Facebook “I’m outraged” treatment.

    Quick to Twitter and show our disappointment!

  141. 141
    Corner Stone says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    and that he totally didn’t give files to anyone except Greenwald.

    That’s not a claim he has made.
    Sigh. Just such a congenital liar.

  142. 142
    Corner Stone says:

    God. Some people are just fucking stupid authoritarian assholes.

  143. 143
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Mnemosyne: The person who took him to Russia was an idiot, apparently, as was Snowden for allowing himself to be spirited to that highly compromised perch. As for the veracity of Snowden’s double-pinky swear: I have a better reason for believing Wikileaks doesn’t have the goods — they haven’t published it. If you believe they have files but aren’t publishing them from discretion or concerns about fallout, I have a pair of lovely bridges in Catawaxahatchee for your consideration…

  144. 144
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    If you believe they have files but aren’t publishing them from discretion or concerns about fallout, I have a pair of lovely bridges in Catawaxahatchee for your consideration…

    Oh, I don’t think they’re not publishing them because of discretion or fear of fallout. I think they’re not publishing them because they don’t need to — the revelations that have already come out are sufficiently embarrassing to the US and its allies that Wikileaks doesn’t need to publish. Right now, anything they published would just get lost in the shuffle anyway.

    But I bet you they’re hanging onto those files as insurance.

  145. 145
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    The person who took him to Russia was an idiot, apparently, as was Snowden for allowing himself to be spirited to that highly compromised perch.

    Which assumes that Russia wasn’t the final destination all along- and that will probably be an open question for decades.

  146. 146
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Mnemosyne: Really? Every journalist who’s gotten a gander at those files claims the portion published is just a tiny fraction of the total. You really think Wikileaks would sit on top of that motherload and let everyone else get all the glory? You’ve got a lot more faith in their powers of restraint than I do.

  147. 147
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again): I never attribute to intentional malice that which can be adequately explained by bumbling.

  148. 148
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    Getting caught with a revoked passport while in transit in an Indonesian or New Zealand airport while on the way to Ecuador would have shown much less malice, along with a better understanding of geography/circumference of the planet. The Snowden/Wikileaks narrative on this point is an appeal to credulity.

  149. 149
    weaselone says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    Didn’t Wikileaks drop information divulged by Snowden that Greenwald originally withheld from one of his articles in order to protect individuals operating in Afghanistan? That would seem to suggest that Wikileaks has been given access to some or all of the Snowden material. Whether directly from Snowden, through Glenn Greenwald or even some third party wouldn’t change Snowden or Greenwald’s culpability in them obtaining this material.

    Regarding HIPAA prosecutions of the VA whistleblowers. That would depend on whether the whistleblowers randomly faxed the journalists excerpts from those individuals medical records. If they sent information about John Smith’s gall bladder operation and Jill Jone’s treatment for a skin rash then yes they probably should be prosecuted.

  150. 150
    Mr. Twister says:

    @Belafon: Sorry, there are OS’ designed from day one for security. z/OS is an example. Too bad the designers of the big three didn’t really learn computer science.

  151. 151
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) The grand conspiracy view requires a great deal more credulity, in my view. YMMV.

  152. 152
    J R in WV says:

    @Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again):

    Bolivia, Ecuador, one of those, but his passport was revoked, rght?

    I’m not sure why there is a process for revoking a passport, after all, Snowden still was born in the USA, still claims citienship in the USA, etc. All a passport does is verify that a person is from where he says he is from, right?

    I’m not very good at making assumptions based upon the Bondian universe – of the LeCarre world if you prefer.

  153. 153
    Betty Cracker says:

    @weaselone: I’m not aware of Wikileaks publishing any Snowden docs. Should be pretty easy to find if so. As for the VA, whistleblowing necessarily involves divulging confidential info, often info that the whistleblower has sworn not to divulge. That’s the nature of the beast.

    In the absence of public revelations of the participants’ identifying info, it strikes me as absurd to characterize doc dumps to working journalists to expose alleged encroachments on civil liberties as a violation of civil liberties themselves.

  154. 154
    Mnemosyne says:

    @J R in WV:

    As I understand it, because Snowden’s passport was revoked, the only option currently open to him is to return to the US. He can’t travel to a different country, but he could return to the US if he chose.

  155. 155
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    WikiLeaks Threatens To Reveal Unnamed Country From Snowden Documents

    That was about 6 weeks ago. So your assumption is that they’re bluffing and don’t have any actual information?

  156. 156
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    Really? From PRC-controlled Hong Kong, then on to Moscow is just…Stupidity? That he’s steered to Moscow by someone from Wikileaks- an organization that has an interesting* relationship with Russia (via Shamir and Lukashenko) doesn’t make you view this with incredulity?

    *I’d be remiss if I failed to note that the author of that piece has been part of The Guardian’s coverage of the Snowden leaks.

  157. 157
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @J R in WV:

    Ecuador- the same nation that’s been stashing Assange- and this.

  158. 158
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    If Snowden gets a safe passage letter from, say, Ecuador (which he had, but which was later revoked by Rafael Correa, President of Ecuador) or any other country willing to issue such a document, Russia could choose to honor that letter- but Russia doesn’t have to.

  159. 159
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Mnemosyne: From the subhead of the article you linked:

    WikiLeaks says it will name that country in just a few days.

    That was in May.

  160. 160
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again): I view the whole damn thing with incredulity. However, “Snowden, self-aggrandizing whistleblower / leaker, occasional bumbler / tool” rings truer for me than “Snowden, international man of intrigue / spymaster.”

  161. 161
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    Right, and Wikileaks revealed it on May 23rd. It turned out that no one gave a shit because the unnamed country was Afghanistan.

  162. 162
    A Humble Lurker says:

    @Betty Cracker: Snowden doesn’t have to be a spymaster to be used by one.

  163. 163
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @A Humble Lurker:

    Give that little gold star a big lick and stick it on your forehead! This is, after all, elementary spycraft (and, as it happens, elementary journalism- cultivate a relationship with a source in city hall or the local police department, then wait until s/he’s pissed enough to start leaking information).

  164. 164
    Corner Stone says:

    @Betty Cracker: Betty, surely you realize by now. There’s no arguing with some certain mindsets. No intrigue, plot twist, incredulity or unbelievable set of speculations are a patch too far.

  165. 165
    Keith G says:

    I guess we are doing to have to wait until Jan 21, 2017 for there to be a rational discussion at Balloon-Juice on this issue.

    Is it some type of obsessive tic (or emotional injury) that makes the same group constantly fearful that this is about Barak Obama? It isn’t. It just plain is not.

    What it is about is a 7 decade contest between those who feel it is completely necessary for there to be an opaque operation with in the government that has expansive abilities to run surveillance on Americans and those who feel that such actives pose a danger to many basic civilities.

    Yes Obama is the president at a very turbulent time, but in the bigger scheme it is not about him, his history, his color, or what he eats for breakfast. So when I read:

    Yep, Greenwald is playing these white men for fools. He’s ginning up outrage against the Obama admin and doing his damn best to dampen Democratic turnout in the midterm. Except another leak just as Democrats are starting to get fired up again about the latest GOP/SCOTUS outrage

    The above is so convoluted that all I can do is shrug and hope that this is just representative of the ramblings of a very few.

    Ya know, like Gay Marriage, Obama could evolve, turn this around, and take the lead in attacking the troubling status quo on this issue (and behave the way he talked in 2007 & 2008). And it would be a winner, but I am fearful that he won’t.

    I guess institutional capture has a real impact on most who get to be president.

  166. 166
    Keith G says:

    Hmm…The NSA won’t let me edit my comment.

  167. 167
    Corner Stone says:

    @Keith G: It’s not the NSA because they would never do something like that!

  168. 168
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Mnemosyne: LOL! As well they shouldn’t. No wonder the story didn’t pass the laugh test.

  169. 169
    Betty Cracker says:

    @A Humble Lurker: The charge is that Snowden planned all along to end up in Russia. I find this implausible. That’s all I’m saying. Has he been used as a pawn by others? Sure, and I’ve said so.

  170. 170
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    I think his original plan was to end up in China, but he had to take Russia as a second choice when the Chinese decided he was going to be too much trouble (the US has way more economic ties with China than we do with Russia and we were pulling on those strings).

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