Tag Archives: Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden: 5 years in Russia and still relevant as ever, by Seraphim Hanisch

Edward Snowden has been in Russia for five years now. He and Julian Assange are giants in an age of Lilliputians. From Seraphim Hanisch at theduran.com:

TASS reported that August 1 was the five year anniversary of Edward Snowden’s being granted temporary asylum in the Russian Federation. This happened after his release of an enormous trove of information showing clandestine and illegal practices being carried out by the US intelligence agencies to gather information on just about anyone in the world, for any – or no – reason at all.

Edward Snowden, 35, is a computer security expert. In 2005-2008, he worked at the University of Maryland’s Center for Advanced Study of Language sponsored by the National Security Agency (NSA) and at the global communications division at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. In 2007, Snowden was stationed with diplomatic cover at the US mission to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. In 2009, he resigned from the CIA to join the Dell company that sent him to Hawaii to work for the NSA’s information-sharing office. He was particularly employed with the Booz Allen Hamilton consulting firm.

In June 2013, Snowden leaked classified information to journalists Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, which revealed global surveillance programs run by US and British intelligence agencies. He explained the move by saying that he wanted to tell the world the truth because he believed such large-scale surveillance on innocent citizens was unacceptable and the public needed to know about it.

The Guardian and The Washington Post published the first documents concerning the US intelligence agencies’ spying on Internet users on June 6, 2013. According to the documents, major phone companies, including Verizon, AT&T and Sprint Nextel, handed records of their customers’ phone conversations over to the NSA and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), who also had direct access to the servers of Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, Skype, YouTube, Paltalk, AOL and Apple. In addition, Snowden’s revelations showed that a secret program named PRISM was aimed at collecting audio and video recordings, photos, emails and information about users’ connections to various websites.

To continue reading: Edward Snowden: 5 years in Russia and still relevant as ever

Advertisements

Edward Snowden: ‘The people are still powerless, but now they’re aware’, by Ewen MacAskill and Alex Hern

Thanks to Snowden and a few other brave souls, at least we now know we’re being spied upon. From Ewen MacAskill and Alex Hern at guardian.com:

Five years after historic NSA leaks, whistleblower tells the Guardian he has no regrets.

Edward Snowden remains in exile in Russia.
Edward Snowden remains in exile in Russia. Photograph: Lindsay Mills

Edward Snowden has no regrets five years on from leaking the biggest cache of top-secret documents in history. He is wanted by the US. He is in exile in Russia. But he is satisfied with the way his revelations of mass surveillance have rocked governments, intelligence agencies and major internet companies.

In a phone interview to mark the anniversary of the day the Guardian broke the story, he recalled the day his world – and that of many others around the globe – changed for good. He went to sleep in his Hong Kong hotel room and when he woke, the news that the National Security Agency had been vacuuming up the phone data of millions of Americans had been live for several hours.

Snowden knew at that moment his old life was over. “It was scary but it was liberating,” he said. “There was a sense of finality. There was no going back.”

What has happened in the five years since? He is one of the most famous fugitives in the world, the subject of an Oscar-winning documentary, a Hollywood movie, and at least a dozen books. The US and UK governments, on the basis of his revelations, have faced court challenges to surveillance laws. New legislation has been passed in both countries. The internet companies, responding to a public backlash over privacy, have made encryption commonplace.

Snowden, weighing up the changes, said some privacy campaigners had expressed disappointment with how things have developed, but he did not share it. “People say nothing has changed: that there is still mass surveillance. That is not how you measure change. Look back before 2013 and look at what has happened since. Everything changed.”

The most important change, he said, was public awareness. “The government and corporate sector preyed on our ignorance. But now we know. People are aware now. People are still powerless to stop it but we are trying. The revelations made the fight more even.”

To continue reading: Edward Snowden: ‘The people are still powerless, but now they’re aware’ 

Costs of Snowden leak still mounting 5 years later, by Deb Riechmann

The article asks if Edward Snowden is a: “Whistleblower or traitor, leaker or public hero?” SLL’s answer is the opposite of the intelligence community’s. From Deb Riechmann at apnews.com:

National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden blew the lid off U.S. government surveillance methods five years ago, but intelligence chiefs complain that revelations from the trove of classified documents he disclosed are still trickling out.

That includes recent reporting on a mass surveillance program run by close U.S. ally Japan and on how the NSA targeted bitcoin users to gather intelligence to support counterterrorism and to combat narcotics and money laundering. The Intercept, an investigative publication with access to Snowden documents, published stories on both subjects.

The top U.S. counterintelligence official said journalists have released only about 1 percent taken by the 34-year-old American, now living in exile in Russia, “so we don’t see this issue ending anytime soon.”

“This past year, we had more international, Snowden-related documents and breaches than ever,” Bill Evanina, who directs the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, said at a recent conference. “Since 2013, when Snowden left, there have been thousands of articles around the world with really sensitive stuff that’s been leaked.”

On June 5, 2013, The Guardian in Britain published the first story based on Snowden’s disclosures. It revealed that a secret court order was allowing the U.S. government to get Verizon to share the phone records of millions of Americans. Later stories, including those in The Washington Post, disclosed other snooping and how U.S. and British spy agencies had accessed information from cables carrying the world’s telephone and internet traffic.

Snowden’s defenders maintain that the U.S. government has for years exaggerated the damage his disclosures caused. Glenn Greenwald, an Intercept co-founder and former journalist at The Guardian, said there are “thousands upon thousands of documents” that journalists have chosen not to publish because they would harm peoples’ reputation or privacy rights or because it would expose “legitimate surveillance programs.”

“It’s been almost five years since newspapers around the world began reporting on the Snowden archive and the NSA has offered all kinds of shrill and reckless rhetoric about the ‘damage’ it has caused, but never any evidence of a single case of a life being endangered let alone harmed,” Greenwald said.

To continue reading: Costs of Snowden leak still mounting 5 years later

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

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