Tag Archives: Edward Snowden

How A Whistleblower Changed The World, by Value Walk

Edwin Snowden took enormous risks to let Americans know the extent their government is spying on them. He’s a hero. From valuewalk.com:

Speak not because it is safe, but because it is right. So goes the ethos of Edward Snowden, the notorious NSA contractor who in 2013 leaked highly classified information detailing the government’s broad domestic and international surveillance powers.

Where he was once seen as a traitor — or worse, a foreign spy — Snowden has become something of a pseudo-superhero over the years. In fact, since joining Twitter in 2015, Snowden has amassed more than 3.8 million followers. And while he’s a highly active Tweeter, he only follows one account in return: the NSA.

As a purveyor of truth and an advocate for more transparent privacy laws, Snowden has been an integral voice in the fight for freedom from overt and systemic government oppression. He’s chimed in on everything from the 2016 presidential election to the recent internet censorship happening Russia and more. He’s even schooled cable TV news pundits a time or two on the very meaning of surveillance.

In fact, it was Snowden’s work as a whistleblower that lead to both The Guardian and The Washington Post winning the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.

He’s one of the strongest and most influential voices of reason in an age of countless government leaks and partisan whistleblowers; more than that, he’s one of the few prominent anti-government advocates who’s dedicated his life to working for the public (as stated in his Twitter bio).

So how has Snowden changed the world? Let’s take a look.

Snowden Signaled Sweeping Government Reforms

While the U.S. government (as well as governments abroad) had been spying on their citizens for decades, no one really knew how big or inclusive that system was. And while the Snowden leaks were certainly a tough pill to swallow, they gave the public a reason to force the government to undergo sweeping mass surveillance changes.

In 2015 the White House approved new reforms to limit the size and scope of their phone surveillance methods, and in the same year Congress passed the USA Freedom Act, which drastically reduced the amount of data the NSA was able to collect.

While these were both steps in the right direction, it’s worth pointing out that some of that progress is currently being undone.

To continue reading: How A Whistleblower Changed The World

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Snowden Explains Deep State’s Influence on Presidents Obama, Trump, by Jay Syrmopoulos

No matter what’s said in the campaign, a US president can’t get away from the influence and power of the Deep State. From Jay Syrmonopoulos at truthinmedia.com:

Famed whistleblower Edward Snowden was recently interviewed by Italian publication La Repubblic. The publication noted the 5-year mark of Snowden’s historic act of blowing the whistle on the NSA’s expansive surveillance programs and that “many thought he would end up very badly, but when he connects via videolink for this interview with la Repubblica, he seems to be doing very well: the frank smile and peaceful face of someone who is easy in his mind.”

In an excerpt from the exclusive interview, Snowden explained how the presidencies of both Obama and Trump are shaped by the Deep State following an illuminating question by journalist Stefania Maurizi.

Stefania Maurizi: We saw that President Obama, who was an outsider to the US military-intelligence complex, initially wanted to reign in the abuses of agencies like the CIA and the NSA, but in the end he did very little. Now we see a confrontation between president Trump and so-called Deep State, which includes the CIA and the NSA. Can a US president govern in opposition to such powerful entities?

Edward Snowden: Obama is certainly an instructive case. This is a president who campaigned on a platform of ending warrantless wiretapping in the United States, he said “that’s not who we are, that’s not what we do,” and once he became the president, he expanded the program.  He said he was going to close Guantanamo but he kept it open, he said he was going to limit extrajudicial killings and drone strikes that has been so routine in the Bush years. But Obama went on to authorize vastly more drone strikes than Bush. It became an industry.

As for this idea that there is a Deep State, now the Deep State is not just the intelligence agencies, it is really a way of referring to the career bureaucracy of government. These are officials who sit in powerful positions, who don’t leave when presidents do, who watch presidents come and go, they influence policy, they influence presidents and say: this is what we have always done, this is what we must do, and if you don’t do this, people will die.

It is very easy to persuade a new president who comes in, who has never had these powers, but has always wanted this job and wants very, very badly to do that job well. A bureaucrat sitting there for the last twenty years says: I understand what you said, I respect your principles, but if you do what you promised, people will die. It is very easy for a president to go: well, for now, I am going to set this controversy to the side, I’m going to take your advice, let you guys decide how these things should be done, and then I will revisit it, when I have a little more experience, maybe in a few months, maybe in a few years, but then they never do.

To continue reading: Snowden Explains Deep State’s Influence on Presidents Obama, Trump

NSA Has Been Tracking Bitcoin Users Since 2013, New Snowden Documents Reveal, by Tyler Durden

So much for the anonymity of cryptocurrencies, which was always oversold. More worrisome, other intelligence agencies are using information the NSA sweeps up to make criminal cases. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

During his 2015 trial, Silk Road creator Ross Ulbricht’s defense attorneys raised questions about the government’s case that, although they were ultimately disregarded by the jury, have continued to bother crypto users with an affinity for so-called “conspiracy theories.” They pointed out vagaries in the FBI’s account of its years-long pursuit of Ulbricht, and questioned whether the bureau had truly discovered Ulbricht’s involvement on its own, or whether it had help from other deep state elements, namely the National Security Agency.

Of course, the judge, who eventually sentenced Ulbricht to life in prison without the possibility of parole, refused to entertain their argument. But if they were correct, it would mean that the government’s whole case was built on evidence that was ultimately inadmissible.

As it turns out, Ulbricht’s lawyers were on to something.

In a blockbuster report published Tuesday in the Intercept, reporter Sam Biddle cited several documents included in the massive cache of stolen NSA documents that showed that the agency has been tracking bitcoin users since 2013, and has potentially been funneling some of this information to other federal agencies. Or, as Biddle puts it, maybe the conspiracy theorists were right.

It turns out the conspiracy theorists were onto something. Classified documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden show that the National Security Agency indeed worked urgently to target Bitcoin users around the world – and wielded at least one mysterious source of information to “help track down senders and receivers of Bitcoins,” according to a top-secret passage in an internal NSA report dating to March 2013. The data source appears to have leveraged the NSA’s ability to harvest and analyze raw, global internet traffic while also exploiting an unnamed software program that purported to offer anonymity to users, according to other documents.

Using its ability to siphon data directly from the fiber-optic cables, the NSA managed to develop a system for tracing transactions that went well beyond simple blockchain analysis. The agency relied on a program called MONKEYROCKET, a sham Internet-anonymizing service that, according to the documents, was primarily deployed in Asia, Africa and South America with the intention of thwarting terrorists.

The documents indicate that “tracking down” Bitcoin users went well beyond closely examining Bitcoin’s public transaction ledger, known as the Blockchain, where users are typically referred to through anonymous identifiers; the tracking may also have involved gathering intimate details of these users’ computers.

The NSA collected some Bitcoin users’ password information, internet activity, and a type of unique device identification number known as a MAC address, a March 29, 2013 NSA memo suggested. In the same document, analysts also discussed tracking internet users’ internet addresses, network ports, and timestamps to identify “BITCOIN Targets.”

To continue reading: NSA Has Been Tracking Bitcoin Users Since 2013, New Snowden Documents Reveal

Snowden: Trump Must Veto Reauthorized NSA Spying Powers In Light Of FISA Memo, by Tyler Durden

Trump, unfortunately, has already signed the FISA reauthorization legislation, but Edward Snowden is dead on correct about that legislation. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

Donald Trump must veto reauthorized NSA spying powers which passed both the House and the Senate yesterday without a single reform, in light of an explosive four-page memo said to detail sweeping FISA Abuses by the FBI, DOJ and the Obama Administration during and after the 2016 presidential election, says former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The memo was circulated to the entire House of Representatives, prompting GOP lawmakers to call for its immediate release to the public. 

Snowden, who exposed the NSA’s expansive mass surveillance program, contends that the expansive FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act never would have passed if the memo had been distributed before the vote. The Senate broke a filibuster led by Rand Paul (R-KY) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) on Tuesday evening, voting 65-34, while the House voted last week 256-164 in favor of the bill with almost no changes.

Officials confirm there’s a secret report showing abuses of spy law Congress voted to reauthorize this week. If this memo had been known prior to the vote, FISA reauth would have failed. These abuses must be made public, and @realDonaldTrump should send the bill back with a veto. https://twitter.com/RepLeeZeldin/status/954102959394213889 

The reauthorized FISA bill constitute the “crown jewels” of the Intelligence Community’s spying powers, section 702, which allows the NSA to gather intelligence on foreigners overseas by surveilling fiber optic internet hubs where data enters the US.

Even President Trump voiced skepticism about reauthorizing the bill in a tweet earlier this year, where he claimed it had helped the Obama administration spy on the Trump campaign, although he infamously flip-flopped later.

To continue reading: Snowden: Trump Must Veto Reauthorized NSA Spying Powers In Light Of FISA Memo

He Said That? 6/4/17

From Edward Snowden,

Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.

Oh, that traitorous WikiTrump, by Pepe Escobar

In some weird corners of the media, the Wikileaks Vault 7 revelations are less important than so far completely unsubstantiated allegations that the Russians “hacked” the election. From Pepe Escobar at atimes.com:

Nothing so trivial as the technical proof we’re all being spied upon can be allowed to threaten or add nuance to established narrative

The massive WikiLeaks Vault 7 release is an extremely important public service. It’s hard to find anyone not concerned by a secret CIA hacking program targeting virtually the whole planet – using malware capable of bypassing encryption protection on any device from iOS to Android, and from Windows to Samsung TVs.

In a series of tweets, Edward Snowden confirmed the CIA program and said code names in the documents are real; that they could only be known by a “cleared insider;” the FBI and CIA knew all about the digital loopholes, but kept them open to spy; and that the leaks provided the “first public evidence” that the US government secretly paid to keep US software unsafe.

If that’s not serious enough, WikiLeaks alleges that “the CIA has lost control of the majority of its hacking arsenal;” several hundred million lines of code — more than what is used to run Facebook.

Someone among the former US government hackers and contractors ended up leaking portions of the CIA archive (Snowden II?). WikiLeaks also stressed how the CIA had created, in effect, its “own NSA” – maximum unaccountability included.

Even though millions already knew – without the technical details – that they were being spied upon by their iPhone or their 4K Samsung, the Vault 7 revelations are far more relevant – and practical – to the average citizen than the 24/7 hysteria fingering President Trump as a Putin puppet. Intel sources are volunteering the – still unexplored – Vault 7 treasure trove is more crucial than what Snowden himself revealed.

To continue reading: Relax, Global Citizen; The CIA Is Benign & Benevolent

 

Snowden: What The Wikileaks Revelations Show Is “Reckless Beyond Words”, by Tyler Durden

Here’s Edward Snowden’s first impression of the Wikileak’s Vault 7 revelations, via Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

While it has been superficially covered by much of the press – and one can make the argument that what Julian Assange has revealed is more relevant to the US population, than constant and so far unconfirmed speculation that Trump is a puppet of Putin – the fallout from the Wikileaks’ “Vault 7” release this morning of thousands of documents demonstrating the extent to which the CIA uses backdoors to hack smartphones, computer operating systems, messenger applications and internet-connected televisions, will be profound.

As evidence of this, the WSJ cites an intelligence source who said that “the revelations were far more significant than the leaks of Edward Snowden.”

Mr. Snowden’s leaks revealed names of programs, companies that assist the NSA in surveillance and in some cases the targets of American spying. But the recent leak purports to contain highly technical details about how surveillance is carried out. That would make them far more revealing and useful to an adversary, this person said. In one sense, Mr. Snowden provided a briefing book on U.S. surveillance, but the CIA leaks could provide the blueprints.

Speaking of Snowden, the former NSA contractor-turned-whistleblower, who now appears to have a “parallel whisteblower” deep inside the “Deep State”, i.e., the source of the Wikileaks data – also had some thoughts on today’s CIA dump.

In a series of tweets, Snowden notes that “what @Wikileaks has here is genuinely a big deal“, and makes the following key observations “If you’re writing about the CIA/@Wikileaks story, here’s the big deal: first public evidence USG secretly paying to keep US software unsafe” and adds that “the CIA reports show the USG developing vulnerabilities in US products, then intentionally keeping the holes open. Reckless beyond words.”

He then asks rhetorically “Why is this dangerous?” and explains “Because until closed, any hacker can use the security hole the CIA left open to break into any iPhone in the world.”

To continue reading: Snowden: What The Wikileaks Revelations Show Is “Reckless Beyond Words”