Thursday 9th of February 2023

leviathan ....

leviathan ....

The NSA whistleblower says: 'I have never spoken with, worked with, or provided any journalistic materials to the Independent'

The Independent this morning published an article - which it repeatedly claims comes from "documents obtained from the NSA by Edward Snowden" - disclosing that "Britain runs a secret internet-monitoring station in the Middle East to intercept and process vast quantities of emails, telephone calls and web traffic on behalf of Western intelligence agencies." This is the first time the Independent has published any revelations purportedly from the NSA documents, and it's the type of disclosure which journalists working directly with NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden have thus far avoided.

That leads to the obvious question: who is the source for this disclosure? Snowden this morning said he wants it to be clear that he was not the source for the Independent, stating:

I have never spoken with, worked with, or provided any journalistic materials to the Independent. The journalists I have worked with have, at my request, been judicious and careful in ensuring that the only things disclosed are what the public should know but that does not place any person in danger. People at all levels of society up to and including the President of the United States have recognized the contribution of these careful disclosures to a necessary public debate, and we are proud of this record.

"It appears that the UK government is now seeking to create an appearance that the Guardian and Washington Post's disclosures are harmful, and they are doing so by intentionally leaking harmful information to The Independent and attributing it to others. The UK government should explain the reasoning behind this decision to disclose information that, were it released by a private citizen, they would argue is a criminal act."

In other words: right as there is a major scandal over the UK's abusive and lawless exploitation of its Terrorism Act - with public opinion against the use of the Terrorism law to detain David Miranda - and right as the UK government is trying to tell a court that there are serious dangers to the public safety from these documents, there suddenly appears exactly the type of disclosure the UK government wants but that has never happened before. That is why Snowden is making clear: despite the Independent's attempt to make it appears that it is so, he is not their source for that disclosure. Who, then, is?

The US government itself has constantly used this tactic: aggressively targeting those who disclose embarrassing or incriminating information about the government in the name of protecting the sanctity of classified information, while simultaneously leaking classified information prolifically when doing so advances their political interests.

One other matter about the Independent article: it strongly suggests that there is some agreement in place to restrict the Guardian's ongoing reporting about the NSA documents. Speaking for myself, let me make one thing clear: I'm not aware of, nor subject to, any agreement that imposes any limitations of any kind on the reporting that I am doing on these documents. I would never agree to any such limitations. As I've made repeatedly clear, bullying tactics of the kind we saw this week will not deter my reporting or the reporting of those I'm working with in any way. I'm working hard on numerous new and significant NSA stories and intend to publish them the moment they are ready.

For those in the media and elsewhere arguing that the possession and transport of classified information is a crime: does that mean you believe that not only Daniel Ellsberg committed a felony, but also the New York Times reporters and editors did when they received, possessed, copied, transported and published the thousands of pages of top-secret documents known as the Pentagon Papers?

Do you also believe the Washington Post committed felonies when receiving and then publishing top secret information that the Bush administration was maintaining a network for CIA black sites around the world, or when the New York Times revealed in 2005 the top secret program whereby the NSA had created a warrantlesss eavesdropping program aimed at US citizens?

Or is this some newly created standard of criminality that applies only to our NSA reporting? Do media figures who are advocating that possessing or transmitting classified information is a crime really not comprehend the precedent they are setting for investigative journalism?

The Independent's Oliver Wright just tweeted the following:

"For the record: The Independent was not leaked or 'duped' into publishing today's front page story by the Government."

Leaving aside the fact that the Independent article quotes an anonymous "senior Whitehall source", nobody said they were "duped" into publishing anything. The question is: who provided them this document or the information in it? It clearly did not come from Snowden or any of the journalists with whom he has directly worked.

The Independent provided no source information whatsoever for their rather significant disclosure of top secret information. Did they see any such documents, and if so, who, generally, provided it to them? I don't mean, obviously, that they should identify their specific source, but at least some information about their basis for these claims, given how significant they are, would be warranted. One would think that they would not have published something like this without either seeing the documents or getting confirmation from someone who has: the class of people who qualify is very small, and includes, most prominently and obviously, the UK government itself.

Snowden: UK Government Now Leaking Documents About Itself

 

which way did they go ….

from Crikey ….

Fallout spreads from Obama's surveillance state

Barack Obama's surveillance state is bad for both business and US foreign policy, it seems.

Overnight, the French government summoned the US ambassador to explain revelations in Le Monde, based on material provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden, that the US National Security Agency recorded over 70 million phone calls in France between business leaders, politicians and the French government. President Francois Hollande spoke directly to Obama to express his "deep disapproval", which prompted this extraordinary statement from the White House:

"The President and President Hollande discussed recent disclosures in the press - some of which have distorted our activities and some of which raise legitimate questions for our friends and allies about how these capabilities are employed. The President made clear that the United States has begun to review the way that we gather intelligence, so that we properly balance the legitimate security concerns of our citizens and allies with the privacy concerns that all people share. The two Presidents agreed that we should continue to discuss these issues in diplomatic channels moving forward."

France is the most recent country to express serious concerns about being the victim of NSA surveillance. Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff, who was directly targeted by NSA surveillance, cancelled a planned meeting with Obama (originally scheduled for tomorrow) and excoriated US spying in a speech to the UN, promising to establish systems to protect against NSA surveillance, including forcing companies operating in Brazil to retain information on Brazilian soil.

US Vice President Joe Biden has also had to soothe ruffled feathers in the Mexican government after the revelation that the current president, Pena Nieto, was spied on before he was elected. It's since been revealed the NSA also hacked into former president Felipe Calderon's email.

This is only the start of a long list of NSA diplomatic targets, which includes the UN, the European Union, the Organisation of American States and the International Atomic Energy Agency. And that's before you get to the companies, such as Brazil's Petrobras, that the NSA has spied on; its French operations are almost certainly partly motivated by the intense rivalry between French and US weapons manufacturers for foreign sales.

Le Monde also provided a key to the NSA's categorisation of countries it spies on. France forms part of the "third circle" of countries along with Germany (where Angela Merkel has been damaged by her unwillingness to criticise NSA surveillance in Germany), Austria, Poland and Belgium.

Australia, along with its "five eyes" counterparts UK, New Zealand and Canada (the US is the fifth member) are "second party" countries. "First parties" are US intelligence agencies. Le Monde also illustrated the sheer scale of NSA surveillance, noting "between 8 February and 8 March 2013, the NSA collected, throughout the world, 124.8 billion telephone data items and 97.1 billion computer data items".

Meantime, US companies are discovering that being partners, willing or otherwise, in the NSA's global surveillance system is an ideal way to corrode trust. Non-US companies are now less likely to use US-based cloud providers; one estimate suggested the cost to US businesses might be between $20 and $30 billion, although some companies claim no impact so far. Another estimate of the overall impact on the US tech industry was a cost of $180 billion as users abandon American services out of fear the NSA can see everything they do.

At a session on surveillance at the Adelaide Festival of Ideas on the weekend, ANU's Professor Brian Schmidt and Professor Paul Davies spoke about meeting with top Google executives and Google's deep worry that the lack of trust engendered by the Snowden revelations could inflict significant damage on their business model. Google is said to be considering establishing territorial companies in its major markets that would house data from users in those countries within that country, restricting the capacity of the US government to access the data under US law (but, of course, enhancing the capacity of the governments of those countries to access it).

So, some countries are considering making it mandatory for organisations harvesting telecommunications data, including Internet & voice traffic, to retain that data within their national borders, in the hope that it will stop falling into “the wrong hands” ie: the NSA.

Of course, as most people living in the always privileged anglo-celtic “second circle” (US, Australia, NZ, UK & Canada) know, their country’s own intelligence agencies (including our own DSD) will happily scoop-up the local data & pass it on to our American “friends” regardless.

What none of the world’s political leaders, including President Obama, seem willing to acknowledge is that they have absolutely no control whatsoever over what their so-called “intelligence agencies” are doing & who they are really doing it for.

American President, John F. Kennedy was assassinated 50 years ago because he had the temerity to try & rein-in the criminal psychopaths running the US military-industrial complex, including the Pentagon. Does anyone believe for a moment that they haven’t gone on from there?

a regret….

 

By Edward Snowden

The following is an excerpt from my memoir, Permanent Record, available in most languages wherever fine books are sold.

 

Pandemonium, chaos: our most ancient forms of terror. They both refer to a collapse of order and the panic that rushes in to fill the void. For as long as I live, I’ll remember retracing my way up Canine Road—the road past the NSA’s headquarters—after the Pentagon was attacked. Madness poured out of the agency’s black glass towers, a tide of yelling, ringing cell phones, and cars revving up in the parking lots and fighting their way onto the street. At the moment of the worst terrorist attack in American history, the staff of the NSA—the major signals intelligence agency of the American Intelligence Community (IC)—was abandoning its work by the thousands, and I was swept up in the flood.

NSA director Michael Hayden issued the order to evacuate before most of the country even knew what had happened. Subsequently, the NSA and the CIA—which also evacuated all but a skeleton crew from its own headquarters on 9/11—would explain their behavior by citing a concern that one of the agencies might potentially, possibly, perhaps be the target of the fourth and last hijacked airplane, United Airlines Flight 93, rather than, say, the White House or Capitol.

I sure as hell wasn’t thinking about the next likeliest targets as I crawled through the gridlock, with everyone trying to get their cars out of the same parking lot simultaneously. I wasn’t thinking about anything at all. What I was doing was obediently following along, in what today I recall as one totalizing moment—a clamor of horns (I don’t think I’d ever heard a car horn at an American military installation before) and out-of-phase radios shrieking the news of the South Tower’s collapse while the drivers steered with their knees and feverishly pressed redial on their phones. I can still feel it—the present-tense emptiness every time my call was dropped by an overloaded cell network, and the gradual realization that, cut off from the world and stalled bumper to bumper, even though I was in the driver’s seat, I was just a passenger.

The stoplights on Canine Road gave way to humans, as the NSA’s special police went to work directing traffic. In the ensuing hours, days, and weeks they’d be joined by convoys of Humvees topped with machine guns, guarding new roadblocks and checkpoints. Many of these new security measures became permanent, supplemented by endless rolls of wire and massive installations of surveillance cameras. With all this security, it became difficult for me to get back on base and drive past the NSA—until the day I was employed there.

Try to remember the biggest family event you’ve ever been to—maybe a family reunion. How many people were there? Maybe 30, 50? Though all of them together comprise your family, you might not really have gotten the chance to know each and every individual member. Dunbar’s number, the famous estimate of how many relationships you can meaningfully maintain in life, is just 150. Now think back to school. How many people were in your class in grade school, and in high school? How many of them were friends, and how many others did you just know as acquaintances, and how many still others did you simply recognize? If you went to school in the United States, let’s say it’s a thousand. It certainly stretches the boundaries of what you could say are all “your people,” but you may still have felt a bond with them.

Nearly three thousand people died on 9/11. Imagine everyone you love, everyone you know, even everyone with a familiar name or just a familiar face—and imagine they’re gone. Imagine the empty houses. Imagine the empty school, the empty classrooms. All those people you lived among, and who together formed the fabric of your days, just not there anymore. The events of 9/11 left holes. Holes in families, holes in communities. Holes in the ground. 

Now, consider this: over one million people have been killed in the course of America’s response.

The two decades since 9/11 have been a litany of American destruction by way of American self-destruction, with the promulgation of secret policies, secret laws, secret courts, and secret wars, whose traumatizing impact—whose very existence—the US government has repeatedly classified, denied, disclaimed, and distorted. After having spent roughly half that period as an employee of the American Intelligence Community and roughly the other half in exile, I know better than most how often the agencies get things wrong. I know, too, how the collection and analysis of intelligence can inform the production of disinformation and propaganda, for use as frequently against America’s allies as its enemies—and sometimes against its own citizens. Yet even given that knowledge, I still struggle to accept the sheer magnitude and speed of the change, from an America that sought to define itself by a calculated and performative respect for dissent to a security state whose militarized police demand obedience, drawing their guns and issuing the order for total submission now heard in every city: “Stop resisting.”

This is why whenever I try to understand how the last two decades happened, I return to that September—to that ground-zero day and its immediate aftermath. To return to that fall means coming up against a truth darker than the lies that tied the Taliban to al-Qaeda and conjured up Saddam Hussein’s illusory stockpile of WMDs. It means, ultimately, confronting the fact that the carnage and abuses that marked my young adulthood were born not only in the executive branch and the intelligence agencies, but also in the hearts and minds of all Americans, myself included.

I remember escaping the panicked crush of the spies fleeing Fort Meade just as the North Tower came down. Once on the highway, I tried to steer with one hand while pressing buttons with the other, calling family indiscriminately and never getting through. Finally I managed to get in touch with my mother, who at this point in her career had left the NSA and was working as a clerk for the federal courts in Baltimore. They, at least, weren’t evacuating.

Her voice scared me, and suddenly the only thing in the world that mattered to me was reassuring her.

“It’s okay. I’m headed off base,” I said. “Nobody’s in New York, right?”

“I don’t—I don’t know. I can’t get in touch with Gran.”

“Is Pop in Washington?”

“He could be in the Pentagon for all I know.”

The breath went out of me. By 2001, Pop had retired from the Coast Guard and was now a senior official in the FBI, serving as one of the heads of its aviation section. This meant that he spent plenty of time in plenty of federal buildings throughout DC and its environs.

Before I could summon any words of comfort, my mother spoke again.“There’s someone on the other line. It might be Gran. I’ve got to go.”

When she didn’t call me back, I tried her number endlessly but couldn’t get through, so I went home to wait, sitting in front of the blaring TV while I kept reloading news sites. The new cable modem we had was quickly proving more resilient than all of the telecom satellites and cell towers, which were failing across the country.

My mother’s drive back from Baltimore was a slog through crisis traffic. She arrived in tears, but we were among the lucky ones. Pop was safe.

The next time we saw Gran and Pop, there was a lot of talk—about Christmas plans, about New Year’s plans—but the Pentagon and the towers were never mentioned.

My father, by contrast, vividly recounted his 9/11 to me. He was at Coast Guard Headquarters when the towers were hit, and he and three of his fellow officers left their offices in the Operations Directorate to find a conference room with a screen so they could watch the news coverage. A young officer rushed past them down the hall and said, “They just bombed the Pentagon.” Met with expressions of disbelief, the young officer repeated, “I’m serious—they just bombed the Pentagon.” My father hustled over to a wall-length window that gave him a view across the Potomac of about two-fifths of the Pentagon and swirling clouds of thick black smoke.

The more that my father related this memory, the more intrigued I became by the line: “They just bombed the Pentagon.” Every time he said it, I recall thinking, “They”? Who were “They”?

America immediately divided the world into “Us” and “Them,” and everyone was either with “Us” or against “Us,” as President Bush so memorably remarked even while the rubble was still smoldering. People in my neighborhood put up new American flags, as if to show which side they’d chosen. People hoarded red, white, and blue Dixie cups and stuffed them through every chain-link fence on every overpass of every highway between my mother’s home and my father’s, to spell out phrases like UNITED WE STAND and STAND TOGETHER NEVER FORGET.

I sometimes used to go to a shooting range and now alongside the old targets, the bull’s-eyes and flat silhouettes, were effigies of men in Arab headdress. Guns that had languished for years behind the dusty glass of the display cases were now marked SOLD. Americans also lined up to buy cell phones, hoping for advance warning of the next attack, or at least the ability to say good-bye from a hijacked flight.

Nearly a hundred thousand spies returned to work at the agencies with the knowledge that they’d failed at their primary job, which was protecting America. Think of the guilt they were feeling. They had the same anger as everybody else, but they also felt the guilt. An assessment of their mistakes could wait. What mattered most at that moment was that they redeem themselves. Meanwhile, their bosses got busy campaigning for extraordinary budgets and extraordinary powers, leveraging the threat of terror to expand their capabilities and mandates beyond the imagination not just of the public but even of those who stamped the approvals.

September 12 was the first day of a new era, which America faced with a unified resolve, strengthened by a revived sense of patriotism and the goodwill and sympathy of the world. In retrospect, my country could have done so much with this opportunity. It could have treated terror not as the theological phenomenon it purported to be, but as the crime it was. It could have used this rare moment of solidarity to reinforce democratic values and cultivate resilience in the now-connected global public.

Instead, it went to war. 

The greatest regret of my life is my reflexive, unquestioning support for that decision. I was outraged, yes, but that was only the beginning of a process in which my heart completely defeated my rational judgment. I accepted all the claims retailed by the media as facts, and I repeated them as if I were being paid for it. I wanted to be a liberator. I wanted to free the oppressed. I embraced the truth constructed for the good of the state, which in my passion I confused with the good of the country. It was as if whatever individual politics I’d developed had crashed—the anti-institutional hacker ethos instilled in me online, and the apolitical patriotism I’d inherited from my parents, both wiped from my system—and I’d been rebooted as a willing vehicle of vengeance. The sharpest part of the humiliation comes from acknowledging how easy this transformation was, and how readily I welcomed it.

I wanted, I think, to be part of something. Prior to 9/11, I’d been ambivalent about serving because it had seemed pointless, or just boring. Everyone I knew who’d served had done so in the post–Cold War world order, between the fall of the Berlin Wall and the attacks of 2001. In that span, which coincided with my youth, America lacked for enemies. The country I grew up in was the sole global superpower, and everything seemed—at least to me, or to people like me—prosperous and settled. There were no new frontiers to conquer or great civic problems to solve, except online. The attacks of 9/11 changed all that. Now, finally, there was a fight.

My options dismayed me, however. I thought I could best serve my country behind a terminal, but a normal IT job seemed too comfortable and safe for this new world of asymmetrical conflict. I hoped I could do something like in the movies or on TV—those hacker-versus-hacker scenes with walls of virus-warning blinkenlights, tracking enemies and thwarting their schemes. Unfortunately for me, the primary agencies that did that—the NSA, the CIA—had their hiring requirements written a half century ago and often rigidly required a traditional college degree, meaning that though the tech industry considered my AACCcredits and MCSE certification acceptable, the government wouldn’t. The more I read around online, however, the more I realized that the post-9/11 world was a world of exceptions. The agencies were growing so much and so quickly, especially on the technical side, that they’d sometimes waive the degree requirement for military veterans. It’s then that I decided to join up.

You might be thinking that my decision made sense, or was inevitable, given my family’s record of service. But it didn’t and it wasn’t. By enlisting, I was as much rebelling against that well-established legacy as I was conforming to it—because after talking to recruiters from every branch, I decided to join the army, whose leadership some in my Coast Guard family had always considered the crazy uncles of the US military.

When I told my mother, she cried for days. I knew better than to tell my father, who’d already made it very clear during hypothetical discussions that I’d be wasting my technical talents there. I was twenty years old; I knew what I was doing.

The day I left, I wrote my father a letter—handwritten, not typed—that explained my decision, and slipped it under the front door of his apartment. It closed with a statement that still makes me wince. “I’m sorry, Dad,” I wrote, “but this is vital for my personal growth.”

 

 

READ MORE:

https://edwardsnowden.substack.com/p/9-12?s=r

 

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GusNote: Had Snowden not been working for the bastards, we may not have known the extend of the bastardry....

So THAN YOU, EDWARD. Please have no regrets, even if the life you now have is not your chosen life....