Inside Washington's Quest to Bring Down Edward Snowden

Gathered together in one place, for easy access, an agglomeration of writings and images relevant to the Rapeutation phenomenon.

Re: Inside Washington's Quest to Bring Down Edward Snowden

Postby admin » Wed Nov 25, 2015 1:33 am

Senate Approves Major Changes to Surveillance Laws in Passing USA Freedom Act
By VICE News
June 2, 2015

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The US Senate voted Tuesday in favor of passing the USA Freedom Act, which will replace key parts of controversial legislation that had allowed the government to conduct a mass surveillance program — largely unchecked — since the 9/11 attacks.

The 67-32 Senate vote came two days after key controversial pieces of the USA PATRIOT ACT expired, temporarily halting the government's contested anti-terror surveillance measures.

The House already voted on the Freedom Act, and it is now before President Barack Obama, who is expected to speedily give his seal of approval. Certain provisions in the Act mandate the phasing out of the National Security Agency's (NSA) bulk phone records collection program over the next six months.

The new, more restrictive legislation instead will allow officials to access phone records, which will remain with phone companies, as long as the agency has a search warrant.

The American Civil Liberties Union Tuesday praised the Senate vote on the Freedom Act, calling its passage a "milestone."

"This is the most important surveillance reform bill since 1978, and its passage is an indication that Americans are no longer willing to give the intelligence agencies a blank check," the ACLU's Legal Director Jameel Jaffer said in a statement. "It's a testament to the significance of the Snowden disclosures and also to the hard work of many principled legislators on both sides of the aisle. Still, no one should mistake this bill for comprehensive reform."

"The bill leaves many of the government's most intrusive and overbroad surveillance powers untouched, and it makes only very modest adjustments to disclosure and transparency requirements," he added.


Senate Republican leaders had initially attempted to block the Act's passage, but relented after proposed amendments to the House's bill failed.

Related: With a Deadline Looming, the Fate of the PATRIOT Act Is in Limbo

The Associated Press contributed to this report
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Re: Inside Washington's Quest to Bring Down Edward Snowden

Postby admin » Wed Nov 25, 2015 1:44 am

Keith Alexander Unplugged: on Bush/Obama, 1.7 million stolen documents and other matters
by Glenn Greenwald
May 8, 2014

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The just-retired long-time NSA chief, Gen. Keith Alexander, recently traveled to Australia to give a remarkably long and wide-ranging interview with an extremely sycophantic “interviewer” with The Australian Financial Review. The resulting 17,000-word transcript and accompanying article form a model of uncritical stenography journalism, but Alexander clearly chose to do this because he is angry, resentful, and feeling unfairly treated, and the result is a pile of quotes that are worth examining, only a few of which are noted below:

AFR: What were the key differences for you as director of NSA serving under presidents Bush and Obama? Did you have a preferred commander in chief?

Gen. Alexander:
Obviously they come from different parties, they view things differently, but when it comes to the security of the nation and making those decisions about how to protect our nation, what we need to do to defend it, they are, ironically, very close to the same point. You would get almost the same decision from both of them on key questions about how to defend our nation from terrorists and other threats.


The almost-complete continuity between George W. Bush and Barack Obama on such matters has been explained by far too many senior officials in both parties, and has been amply documented in far too many venues, to make it newsworthy when it happens again. Still, the fact that one of the nation’s most powerful generals in history, who has no incentive to say it unless it were true, just comes right out and states that Bush and The Candidate of Change are “very close to the same point” and “you would get almost the same decision from both of them on key questions” is a fine commentary on a number of things, including how adept the 2008 Obama team was at the art of branding.

The fact that Obama, in 2008, specifically vowed to his followers angered over his campaign-season NSA reversal that he possessed “the firm intention — once I’m sworn in as president — to have my Attorney General conduct a comprehensive review of all our surveillance programs, and to make further recommendations on any steps needed to preserve civil liberties and to prevent executive branch abuse in the future” only makes that point a bit more vivid.

AFR: Can you now quantify the number of documents [Snowden] stole?

Gen. Alexander:
Well, I don’t think anybody really knows what he actually took with him, because the way he did it, we don’t have an accurate way of counting. What we do have an accurate way of counting is what he touched, what he may have downloaded, and that was more than a million documents.


It’s hard to recall a better and clearer example of how mindless and uncritical the American media is when it comes to the unproven pronouncements of the U.S. Government. Back in December, 60 Minutes broadcast a now-notorious segment of pure access journalism in which they gullibly disseminated one false NSA claim after the next in exchange for being given exclusive(!) access to a few Secret and Exciting Rooms inside the agency’s headquarters. The program claimed that Snowden “is believed to still have access to 1.5 million classified documents he has not leaked”. On its Twitter account, 60 Minutes made this claim to promote its show:

How Edward Snowden managed to steal an alleged 1.7 million documents from the NSA. Sunday: http://t.co/gbrIu5yMcc

— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) December 13, 2013


Mike McConnell, the vice chairman of Booz Allen and former Director of National Intelligence in the Bush administration, then claimed that “Snowden absconded with 1.7 million to 1.8 million documents.”

Ever since then, that Snowden “stole” 1.7 or 1.8 million documents from the NSA has been repeated over and over again by US media outlets as verified fact. The Washington Post‘s Walter Pincus, citing an anonymous official source, purported to tell readers that “among the roughly 1.7 million documents he walked away with — the vast majority of which have not been made public — are highly sensitive, specific intelligence reports”. Reuters frequently includes in its reports the unchallenged assertion that “Snowden was believed to have taken 1.7 million computerized documents.” Just this week, the global news agency told its readers that “Snowden was believed to have taken 1.7 million computerized documents.”

In fact, that number is and always has been a pure fabrication, as even Keith Alexander admits. The claimed number has changed more times than one can count: always magically morphing into randomly chosen higher and scarier numbers. The reality, in the words of the General, is that the US Government “really [doesn’t] know[] what he actually took with him” and they “don’t have an accurate way of counting”. All they know is how many documents he accessed in his entire career at NSA, which is a radically different question from how many documents he took. But that hasn’t stopped American media outlets from repeatedly affirming the inflammatory evidence-free claim that Snowden took 1.7 million documents. As usual, even the most blatantly unreliable claims from National Security State officials are treated as infallible papal pronouncements by our Adversarial Watchdog Press.

There’s an equally vital point made by Alexander’s admission. The primary defense of the NSA and its defenders is that one need not worry about the staggering sums of data they collect because they have implemented very rigorous oversight mechanisms and controls that prevent abuse. Yet Edward Snowden spent months downloading a large amount of highly sensitive documents right under their noses. And not only did they have no idea that he was doing it, but now – even after spending large sums of money to find out – they are still completely incapable of learning which documents he took or even how many he took. Does that at all sound like a well-managed, tightly controlled system that you can trust to safeguard your most personal data and to detect and prevent abuse of this system by the tens of thousands of people who have access to it?

AFR: What is your personal opinion on the decision to award a Pulitzer Prize to the Guardian and Washington Post newspapers for their “revelation of widespread secret surveillance by the National Security Agency, helping through aggressive reporting to spark a debate about the relationship between the government and the public over issues of security and privacy”?

Gen. Alexander:
I’m greatly disappointed that we have rewarded those who have put so many lives at risk. I think that’s the best way to say that. . . . At the end of the day, I believe peoples’ lives will be lost because of the Snowden leaks because we will not be able to protect them with capabilities that were once effective but are now being rendered ineffective because of these revelations.


There are few things in life more ironic than being accused by U.S. Generals, including those who participated in the war in Iraq, of being responsible for the loss of lives. For that sort of irony, nothing will beat that episode where the US Pentagon chief and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff announced that WikiLeaks – not themselves, but WikiLeaks – has “blood on its hands” by virtue of publishing documents about the U.S. war in Afghanistan. In the world of the U.S. National Security State and its loyal media, those who go around the world killing innocent people over and over are noble and heroic, while those who report on what they do are the ones with “blood on their hands”.

But what makes this claim so remarkable is how often it is made and how false it always turns out to be. The accusation about WikiLeaks was ultimately demonstrated to be false. The same was true of the identical claim made about NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake, and the leaker who exposed the Bush-era warrantless eavesdropping program, and Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg, and virtually every other person who has brought unwanted transparency to what the U.S. Government is doing in the dark. But accusing whistleblowers and journalists of causing the deaths of innocent people is a tactic people like Gen. Alexander continue to embrace because it’s virtually never pointed out by our stalwart media how many times that claim has been proven to be an utter fabrication.

* * * * *

The release date for my book on the NSA, privacy, and our reporting of the surveillance story, No Place to Hide, is next Tuesday, May 13, at which time all of the previously unpublished NSA documents that are reported on in the book will be placed online, with free access, at the book’s website.
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Re: Inside Washington's Quest to Bring Down Edward Snowden

Postby admin » Wed Nov 25, 2015 1:52 am

WikiLeaks 'has blood on its hands' over Afghan war logs, claim US officials
by David Leigh
July 30. 2010

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• Defence secretary describes leak as 'potentially dangerous'
• 'Loose' intelligence policy in US army to be reviewed

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Julian Assange said WikiLeaks tried to follow a request to redact some names but the US refused to help. Photograph: Linda Nylind for the Guardian Linda Nylind/Guardian

WikiLeaks and its editor-in-chief, Julian Assange, have come under attack from US officials and their allies for potentially endangering informants and troops in Afghanistan by posting the texts of thousands of leaked war logs.

The US defence secretary, Robert Gates, claimed in Washington: "The battlefield consequences are potentially severe and dangerous for our troops, our allies and Afghan partners, and may well damage our relationships and reputation in that key part of the world."

Gates said sensitive intelligence which could endanger informants had been widely distributed down to junior level in the US army, in a loose policy which might now have to be reconsidered.

"We endeavour to push access to sensitive battlefield information down to where it is most useful – on the front lines – where as a practical matter there are fewer restrictions and controls than at rear headquarters," he said. "In the wake of this incident, it will be a real challenge to strike the right balance between security and providing our frontline troops the information they need."

Admiral Mike Mullen, who chairs the joint chiefs of staff, said: "Mr Assange can say whatever he likes about the greater good he thinks he and his source are doing, but the truth is they might already have on their hands the blood of some young soldier or that of an Afghan family."

The Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, called the disclosure of the names of Afghans who had co-operated with Nato and US forces "irresponsible and shocking". He said in Kabul: "Whether those individuals acted legitimately or illegitimately in providing information to the Nato forces, their lives will be in danger."

WikiLeaks withheld some 15, 000 intelligence reports to protect informants. But some of the posted texts contain details of Afghans who have dealt with the coalition.

Assange said today that they had tried to comply with a private White House request to redact the names of informants before publication. But the US authorities had refused to assist them.

He said in a statement: "Secretary Gates speaks about hypothetical blood, but the grounds of Iraq and Afghanistan are covered with real blood."

Thousands of children and adults had been killed and the US could have announced a broad inquiry into these killings, "but he decided to treat these issues with contempt''.

He said: "This behaviour is unacceptable. We will continue to expose abuses by this administration and others."

Meanwhile, both US and UK authorities remained silent about the disclosures in the 92,000 war log files that hundreds of civilians have been killed or wounded by coalition forces in unreported or previously under-reported incidents. The Ministry of Defence withdrew promises to make an official statement about US allegations that two units of British troops had caused exceptional loss of civilian life.

MoD sources said that at least 15 of the 21 alleged cases had now been confirmed, but they were unable to say what investigations had subsequently taken place, or when they would now make a statement.

A detachment of the Coldstream Guards was newly arrived in Kabul when innocent civilians were shot on four separate occasions in October-November 2007.

Several different companies of Royal Marine commands are alleged to have shot civilians who came "too close" to convoys or patrols on eight occasions in Helmand province during the six-month period ending in March 2008.

Sources said that the then Labour foreign secretary, David Miliband, was so concerned about civilian deaths that he helped push forward a UN resolution in 2008, setting up an UN system to monitor such casualties.

But it does not function effectively, according to the independent Human Rights Watch. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan reported 828 civilian deaths in 2008, thanks to "pro-government forces", saying force protection incidents, "are of continuing concern", where innocent drivers, car passengers or motorcyclists, are shot by passing troops.

The US authorities are concentrating their firepower on leakers and their friends. Gates said the FBI had been called in to widen the criminal investigation into Private Bradley Manning, who is in military custody charged with leaking a classified video showing Apache pilots gunning down two Reuters cameramen in Baghdad who they believed might be insurgents.

Manning is being moved from a military jail in Kuwait to Quantico, Virginia, and the FBI will now be able to investigate civilians such as Assange, for possible conspiracy offences. Assange's whereabouts were unknown today.

• This article was amended on 2 August 2010. The original referred to Qauntico, Maryland. This has been corrected.
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Re: Inside Washington's Quest to Bring Down Edward Snowden

Postby admin » Wed Nov 25, 2015 1:57 am

Obama officials caught deceiving about WikiLeaks
The private statements and reports continue to come out that contradict the administration's public claims
by Glenn Greenwald
January 19, 2011

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President Bush and President-elect Obama walk along the West Wing Colonnade of the White House in Washington, Monday, Nov. 10,2008, prior to their meeting. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)(Credit: Associated Press)

(updated below)

Whenever the U.S. Government wants to demonize a person or group in order to justify attacks on them, it follows the same playbook: it manufactures falsehoods about them, baselessly warns that they pose Grave Dangers and are severely harming our National Security, peppers all that with personality smears to render the targeted individuals repellent on a personal level, and feeds it all to the establishment American media, which then dutifully amplifies and mindlessly disseminates it all. That, of course, was the precise scheme that so easily led the U.S. into attacking Iraq; it’s what continues to ensure support for the whole litany of War on Terror abuses and the bonanza of power and profit which accompanies them; and it’s long been obvious that this is the primary means for generating contempt for WikiLeaks to enable its prosecution and ultimate destruction (an outcome the Pentagon has been plotting since at least 2008).

When WikiLeaks in mid-2010 published documents detailing the brutality and corruption at the heart of the war in Afghanistan, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Michael Mullen, held a Press Conference and said of WikiLeaks (and then re-affirmed it on his Twitter account) that they “might already have on their hands the blood of some young soldier or that of an Afghan family.” This denunciation predictably caused the phrase “blood on their hands” to be attached to WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange, in thousands of media accounts around the world. But two weeks later, the Pentagon’s spokesman, when pressed, was forced to admit that there was no evidence whatsoever for that accusation: ”we have yet to see any harm come to anyone in Afghanistan that we can directly tie to exposure in the WikiLeaks documents,” he admitted. Several months later, after more flamboyant government condemnations of WikiLeaks’ release of thousands of Iraq War documents, McClatchy‘s Nancy Youssef — in an article headlined: ”Officials may be overstating the danger from WikiLeaks” — reported that “U.S. officials concede that they have no evidence to date“ that the disclosures resulted in the deaths of anyone, and she detailed the great care WikiLeaks took in that Iraq War release to protect innocent people.

The disclosure of American diplomatic cables triggered still more melodramatic claims from government officials (ones faithfully recited by its servants and followers across the spectrum in Washington), accusing WikiLeaks of everything from ”attacking” the U.S. (Hillary Clinton) and “plac[ing] at risk the lives of countless innocent individuals” and “ongoing military operations” (Harold Koh) to being comparable to Terrorists (Joe Biden). But even Robert Gates was unwilling to lend his name to such absurdities, and when asked, mocked these accusations as “significantly overwrought” and said the WikiLeaks disclosures would be “embarrassing” and “awkward” but would have only “modest consequences.”

Since then, it has become clear how scrupulously careful WikiLeaks has been in releasing these cables in order to avoid unnecessary harm to innocent people, as the Associated Press reported how closely WikiLeaks was collaborating with its newspaper partners in deciding which cables to release and what redactions were necessary. Indeed, one of the very few documents which anyone has been able to claim has produced any harm — one revealing that the leader of Zimbabwe’s opposition privately urged U.S. officials to continue imposing sanctions on his country — was actually released by The Guardian, not by WikiLeaks.

To say that the Obama administration’s campaign against WikiLeaks has been based on wildly exaggerated and even false claims is to understate the case. But now, there is evidence that Obama officials have been knowingly lying in public about these matters. The long-time Newsweek reporter Mark Hosenball — now at Reuters — reports that what Obama officials are saying in private about WikiLeaks directly contradicts their public claims:

Internal U.S. government reviews have determined that a mass leak of diplomatic cables caused only limited damage to U.S. interests abroad, despite the Obama administration’s public statements to the contrary.

A congressional official briefed on the reviews said the administration felt compelled to say publicly that the revelations had seriously damaged American interests in order to bolster legal efforts to shut down the WikiLeaks website and bring charges against the leakers. . . .

“We were told (the impact of WikiLeaks revelations) was embarrassing but not damaging,” said the official, who attended a briefing given in late 2010 by State Department officials. . .

But current and former intelligence officials note that while WikiLeaks has released a handful of inconsequential CIA analytical reports, the website has made public few if any real intelligence secrets, including reports from undercover agents or ultra-sensitive technical intelligence reports, such as spy satellite pictures or communications intercepts. . . .

National security officials familiar with the damage assessments being conducted by defense and intelligence agencies told Reuters the reviews so far have shown “pockets” of short-term damage, some of it potentially harmful. Long-term damage to U.S. intelligence and defense operations, however, is unlikely to be serious, they said. . . .

Shortly before WikiLeaks began its gradual release of State Department cables last year, department officials sent emails to contacts on Capitol Hill predicting dire consequences, said one of the two congressional aides briefed on the internal government reviews.

However, shortly after stories about the cables first began to appear in the media, State Department officials were already privately playing down the damage, the two congressional officials said.
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Re: Inside Washington's Quest to Bring Down Edward Snowden

Postby admin » Wed Nov 25, 2015 2:01 am

Pentagon Sees a Threat From Online Muckrakers
By STEPHANIE STROM
MARCH 17, 2010

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To the list of the enemies threatening the security of the United States, the Pentagon has added WikiLeaks.org, a tiny online source of information and documents that governments and corporations around the world would prefer to keep secret.

The Pentagon assessed the danger WikiLeaks.org posed to the Army in a report marked “unauthorized disclosure subject to criminal sanctions.” It concluded that “WikiLeaks.org represents a potential force protection, counterintelligence, OPSEC and INFOSEC threat to the U.S. Army” — or, in plain English, a threat to Army operations and information.

WikiLeaks, true to its mission to publish materials that expose secrets of all kinds, published the 2008 Pentagon report about itself on Monday.

Lt. Col. Lee Packnett, an Army spokesman, confirmed that the report was real. Julian Assange, the editor of WikiLeaks, said the concerns the report raised were hypothetical.

“It did not point to anything that has actually happened as a result of the release,” Mr. Assange said. “It contains the analyst’s best guesses as to how the information could be used to harm the Army but no concrete examples of any real harm being done.”

WikiLeaks, a nonprofit organization, has rankled governments and companies around the world with its publication of materials intended to be kept secret. For instance, the Army’s report says that in 2008, access to the Web site in the United States was cut off by court order after Bank Julius Baer, a Swiss financial institution, sued it for publishing documents implicating Baer in money laundering, grand larceny and tax evasion. Access was restored after two weeks, when the bank dropped its case.

Governments, including those of North Korea and Thailand, also have tried to prevent access to the site and complained about its release of materials critical of their governments and policies.

The Army’s interest in WikiLeaks appears to have been spurred by, among other things, its publication and analysis of classified and unclassified Army documents containing information about military equipment, units, operations and “nearly the entire order of battle” for American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan in April 2007.

WikiLeaks also published an outdated, unclassified copy of the “standard operating procedures” at the military prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. WikiLeaks said the document revealed methods by which the military prevented prisoners from meeting with the International Red Cross and the use of “extreme psychological stress” as a means of torture.

The Army’s report on WikiLeaks does not say whether WikiLeaks’ analysis of that document was accurate. It does charge that some of WikiLeaks’s other interpretation of information is flawed but does not say specifically in what way.

The report also airs the Pentagon’s concern over some 2,000 pages of documents WikiLeaks released on equipment used by coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Pentagon concluded that such information could be used by foreign intelligence services, terrorist groups and others to identify vulnerabilities, plan attacks and build new devices.

WikiLeaks, which won Amnesty International’s new media award in 2009, almost closed this year because it was broke and still operates at less than its full capacity. It relies on donations from humans rights groups, journalists, technology buffs and individuals, and Mr. Assange said it had raised just two-thirds of the $600,000 needed for its budget this year and thus was not publishing everything it had.

Perhaps the most amusing aspect of the Army’s report, to Mr. Assange, was its speculation that WikiLeaks is supported by the Central Intelligence Agency. “I only wish they would step forward with a check if that’s the case,” he said.
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Re: Inside Washington's Quest to Bring Down Edward Snowden

Postby admin » Wed Nov 25, 2015 2:25 am

Clapper Reads From the Bush/Cheney/Nixon Playbook to Fear-Monger Over Transparency
by Glenn Greenwald
February 12, 2014

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James Clapper, President Obama’s top national security official, is probably best known for having been caught lying outright to Congress about NSA activities, behavior which (as some baseball players found out) happens to be a felony under federal law. But -– like torturers and Wall Street tycoons before him -– Clapper has been not only shielded from prosecution, and not only allowed to keep his job; he has has now been anointed the arbiter of others’ criminality, as he parades around the country calling American journalists “accomplices”. Yesterday, as Wired’s Dave Kravets reports, the “clearly frustrated” Clapper went before a Senate committee (different than the one he got caught lying to) to announce that the Snowden disclosures are helping the terrorists:

We’re beginning to see changes in the communications behavior of adversaries: particularly terrorists. A disturbing trend, which I anticipate will continue . . . Terrorists and other adversaries of this country are going to school on U.S. intelligence sources, methods, and tradecraft. And the insights they’re gaining are making our job in the intelligence community much, much harder. And this includes putting the lives of members or assets of the intelligence community at risk, as well as those of our armed forces, diplomats, and our citizens.


As Kravets notes, “Clapper is not the most credible source on Snowden and the NSA leaks.” Moreover, it’s hardly surprising that Clapper is furious at these disclosures given that “Snowden’s very first leak last June” – revelation of the domestic surveillance program – “had the side-effect of revealing that Clapper had misled the public and Congress about NSA spying.” And, needless to say, Clapper offered no evidence at all to support his assertions yesterday; he knows that, unlike Kravets, most establishment media outlets will uncritically trumpet his claims without demanding evidence or even noting that he has none.

But in general, it’s hardly surprising that national security officials claim that unwanted disclosures help terrorists. Fear-mongering comes naturally to those who wield political power. Particularly in post-9/11 America, shouting “terrorists!” has been the favorite tactic of the leadership of both parties to spread fear and thus induce submission.

In a recent New York Times op-ed detailing how exploitation of terrorism fears is the key to sustaining the modern surveillance state, Northwestern University Philosophy Professor Peter Ludlow wrote that “since 9/11 leaders of both political parties in the United States have sought to consolidate power by leaning … on the danger of a terrorist attack”. He recounted that ”Machiavelli notoriously argued that a good leader should induce fear in the populace in order to control the rabble” and that “Hobbes in ‘The Leviathan’argued that fear effectively motivates the creation of a social contract in which citizens cede their freedoms to the sovereign.” It would be surprising if people like Clapper didn’t do this.

But what has struck me is how seriously many media figures take this claim. In the vast majority of interviews I’ve done about NSA reporting, interviewers adopt a grave tone in their voice and trumpet the claims from U.S. officials that our reporting is helping the terrorists. They treat these claims as though they’re the by-product of some sort of careful, deliberative, unique assessment rather than what it is: the evidence-free tactics national security state officials reflexively invoke to discredit all national security journalism they dislike. Let’s review a bit of history to see how true that is.

Here, for instance, is Dick Cheney, in a June, 2006 speech, condemning The New York Times for its reporting on the NSA warrantless eavesdropping and SWIFT banking programs, sounding exactly like James Clapper yesterday, along with countless Democratic commentators and blogs over the last year:

Some in the press, in particular The New York Times, have made it harder to defend America against attack by insisting on publishing detailed information about vital national security programs.

First they reported the terrorist surveillance program, which monitors international communications when one end is outside the United States and one end is connected with or associated with al Qaeda. Now the Times has disclosed the terrorist financial tracking program.

On both occasions, the Times had been asked not to publish those stories by senior administration officials. They went ahead anyway. The leaks to The New York Times and the publishing of those leaks is very damaging to our national security.

The ability to intercept al Qaeda communications and to track their sources of financing are essential if we’re going to successfully prosecute the global war on terror. Our capabilities in these areas help explain why we have been so successful in preventing further attacks like 9/11. And putting this information on the front page makes it more difficult for us to prevent future attacks. Publishing this highly classified information about our sources and methods for collecting intelligence will enable the terrorists to look for ways to defeat our efforts. These kinds of stories also adversely affect our relationships with people who work with us against the terrorists. In the future, they will be less likely to cooperate if they think the United States is incapable of keeping secrets.


Cheney was joined by George Bush, who called the NYT’s reporting “disgraceful” and said: “The fact that a newspaper disclosed it makes it harder to win this war on terror.” Bush White House spokesman Tony Snow added: “In choosing to expose this program, despite repeated pleas from high-level officials on both sides of the aisle, including myself, the Times undermined a highly successful counterterrorism program and alerted terrorists to the methods and sources used to track their money trail.”

Bush made exactly the same accusations in 2005 as Clapper did yesterday after the NYT back then (finally) revealed the NSA’s warrantless eavesdropping program. “My personal opinion is it was a shameful act for someone to disclose this very important program in a time of war. The fact that we’re discussing this program is helping the enemy….It is a shameful act by somebody who has got secrets of the United States government and feels like they need to disclose them publicly.” A week later, Bush officials announced a criminal investigation of the leaks and said: “Our enemies have learned information they should not have, and the unauthorized disclosure of this effort damages our national security and puts our citizens at risk. Revealing classified information is illegal, alerts our enemies, [and] endangers our country.”

Meanwhile, the GOP-led House actually passed a formal resolution condemning the NYT and “call[ing] on news organizations to avoid exposing Americans ‘to the threat of further terror attacks” by revealing U.S. government methods of tracking terrorists.” Then House Majority Leader John Boehner said: “We’ve just tipped off all of the terrorists around the world that here is another way that we could have caught you, but now you know about it.” Rep. Mike Oxley, the GOP Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, called the paper’s reporting “treasonous”, saying: “We are at war, ladies and gentlemen. Now some of you folks find that an inconvenient fact.” GOP Congressman Peter King called for the prosecution of the Times journalists and editors responsible for the stories – “We’re at war, and for the Times to release information about secret operations and methods is treasonous,” he said – just as he’s done for journalists involved in the current NSA reporting.

These same platitudes have been hauled out by U.S. officials for decades. When Daniel Ellsberg disclosed the Pentagon Papers, Nixon officials repeatedly smeared him – with no evidence – as likely working in conjunction with Russia (sound familiar?), while he and the NYT were repeatedly accused of damaging national security, putting our men and women in uniform in harm’s way, and helping America’s enemies.

Political officials hate transparency.They would rather be able to hide what they’re doing. They therefore try to demonize those who impose transparency with the most extreme and discrediting accusations they can concoct (you’re helping terrorists kill Americans!). The more transparency one imposes on them, the more extreme and desperate this accusatory rhetoric becomes. This is not complicated. It’s all very basic.

James Clapper is saying exactly what Dick Cheney and George Bush before him said, and those three said what John Ehrlichman and Henry Kissinger said before them about Ellsberg. It’s all spouted with no evidence. It’s rote and reflexive. It’s designed to smear and fear-monger. As Professor Ludlow notes, “Fear is even used to prevent us from questioning the decisions supposedly being made for our safety.”

Maybe it’s time for journalists to cease being the leading advocates for state secrecy and instead take seriously their claimed role as watchdogs. At the very least, demand evidence before these sorts of highly predictable, cliched attacks are heralded as something to be taken seriously. As it is, they’re just cartoons: ones that are played over and over and over.

Murtaza Hussain contributed research and reporting.
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Re: Inside Washington's Quest to Bring Down Edward Snowden

Postby admin » Wed Nov 25, 2015 2:32 am

Is This a Video of the Director of National Intelligence Lying to Congress? [Updated]
By Dan Amira
June 6, 2013

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As we now know, the NSA has been collecting data on millions of domestic and international phone calls for some time now — since 2006, according to Dianne Feinstein. Maybe this bothers you; maybe it doesn't. Feinstein insists the program is an essential part of "protecting America"; Congressman Mike Rogers says it has already been "used to stop a terrorist attack in the United States."

But one person who doesn't like the idea of the NSA spying on Americans is Oregon senator Ron Wyden. And at a hearing in March, he asked James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence, a straightforward question: "Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?"

Clapper's answer? "No, sir ... not wittingly."

Update, 5:13 p.m.: Clapper tells the National Journal, "What I said was, the NSA does not voyeuristically pore through U.S. citizens' e-mails. I stand by that." Except ... that's not what he said.
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Re: Inside Washington's Quest to Bring Down Edward Snowden

Postby admin » Wed Nov 25, 2015 2:35 am

18 U.S. Code § 1001 - Statements or entries generally

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(a) Except as otherwise provided in this section, whoever, in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Government of the United States, knowingly and willfully—

(1) falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact;

(2) makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation; or

(3) makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry;
shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 5 years or, if the offense involves international or domestic terrorism (as defined in section 2331), imprisoned not more than 8 years, or both. If the matter relates to an offense under chapter 109A, 109B, 110, or 117, or section 1591, then the term of imprisonment imposed under this section shall be not more than 8 years.

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(June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 749; Pub. L. 103–322, title XXXIII, § 330016(1)(L), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2147; Pub. L. 104–292, § 2, Oct. 11, 1996, 110 Stat. 3459; Pub. L. 108–458, title VI, § 6703(a), Dec. 17, 2004, 118 Stat. 3766; Pub. L. 109–248, title I, § 141(c), July 27, 2006, 120 Stat. 603.)
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Re: Inside Washington's Quest to Bring Down Edward Snowden

Postby admin » Wed Nov 25, 2015 2:38 am

House Intelligence chairman hints at Russian help in Snowden leaks
BY TOM CURRY
NBC NEWS NATIONAL AFFAIRS WRITER
Jan 18, 2014

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A leading House Republican is raising questions about Russia's involvement in the largest security leak in recent U.S. history.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers said that former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, who has leaked details of the NSA’s surveillance operations, “was a thief who we believe had some help.”

In an interview to be aired Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press, Rogers said that rather Snowden being a crusader for Americans’ privacy, “the vast majority” of what Snowden stole “had nothing to do with privacy. Our Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines have been incredibly harmed by the data that he has taken with him and we believe now is in the hands of nation states.”

The Michigan Republican added that there are still “certain questions that we have to get answered” about who helped Snowden remove data from the NSA and later make it public in newspapers in the United States and Britain.

“He was stealing information that had to do with how we operate overseas to collect information to keep Americans safe…. And some of the things he did were beyond his technical capabilities” -- a fact which Rogers said “raises more questions. How he arranged travel before he left. How he was ready to go, he had a go bag, if you will.”

Rogers added that he believes “there's a reason he ended up in the hands, the loving arms, of an FSB (Russian security service) agent in Moscow. I don't think that's a coincidence….I don't think it was a gee-whiz luck event that he ended up in Moscow under the handling of the FSB.”

It was mostly in response to Snowden’s disclosures that President Barack Obama announced Friday some restrictions on how the NSA will collect data and conduct surveillance.

Separately, Bruce Riedel, director of the Intelligence Project at the Brookings Institution in Washington and a former CIA official, said Friday that one key question now in the Snowden affair is “Is it really Edward Snowden who is doing this, or is there a larger apparatus? I know that many people in the intelligence community… now no longer regard Edward Snowden as a thief or a traitor…. They regard him as a defector” who has gone over to a foreign intelligence agency.
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Re: Inside Washington's Quest to Bring Down Edward Snowden

Postby admin » Wed Nov 25, 2015 2:43 am

Fifty States of Fear
By PETER LUDLOW
JANUARY 19, 2014

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The British philosopher Bertrand Russell, writing as World War II was drawing to a close in Europe, observed that “neither a man nor a crowd nor a nation can be trusted to act humanely or to think sanely under the influence of a great fear.” Russell’s point was that irrational fear can propel us into counterproductive activities, ranging from unjust wars and the inhumane treatment of others to more mundane cases like our failure to seize opportunities to improve our everyday lives.

It is hard to dispute Russell’s claim. We all know that fear can impair our judgment. We have passed up opportunities in our personal lives and we have also seen groups and nations do great harm and unravel because of their irrational fears. The 20th century was littered with wars and ethnic cleansings that were propelled in large measure by fear of a neighboring state or political or ethnic group. Given this obvious truth, one might suppose that modern democratic states, with the lessons of history at hand, would seek to minimize fear — or at least minimize its effect on deliberative decision-making in both foreign and domestic policy.

But today the opposite is frequently true. Even democracies founded in the principles of liberty and the common good often take the path of more authoritarian states. They don’t work to minimize fear, but use it to exert control over the populace and serve the government’s principal aim: consolidating power.

Philosophers have long noted the utility of fear to the state. Machiavelli notoriously argued that a good leader should induce fear in the populace in order to control the rabble.

Hobbes in “The Leviathan” argued that fear effectively motivates the creation of a social contract in which citizens cede their freedoms to the sovereign. The people understandably want to be safe from harm. The ruler imposes security and order in exchange for the surrender of certain public freedoms. As Hobbes saw it, there was no other way: Humans, left without a strong sovereign leader controlling their actions, would degenerate into mob rule. It is the fear of this state of nature — not of the sovereign per se, but of a world without the order the sovereign can impose — that leads us to form the social contract and surrender at least part of our freedom.

Most philosophers have since rejected this Hobbesian picture of human nature and the need for a sovereign. We have learned that democratic states can flourish without an absolute ruler. The United States of America was the original proof of concept of this idea: Free, self-governing people can flourish without a sovereign acting above the law. Even though the United States has revoked freedoms during wartime (and for some groups in peacetime), for most of its history the people have not been under the yoke of an all-powerful sovereign.

However, since 9/11 leaders of both political parties in the United States have sought to consolidate power by leaning not just on the danger of a terrorist attack, but on the fact that the possible perpetrators are frightening individuals who are not like us. As President George W. Bush put it before a joint session of Congress in 2001: “They hate our freedoms: our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.” Last year President Obama brought the enemy closer to home, arguing in a speech at the National Defense University that “we face a real threat from radicalized individuals here in the United States” — radicalized individuals who were “deranged or alienated individuals — often U.S. citizens or legal residents.”

The Bush fear-peddling is usually considered the more extreme, but is it? The Obama formulation puts the “radicalized individuals” in our midst. They could be American citizens or legal residents. And the subtext is that if we want to catch them we need to start looking within. The other is among us. The pretext for the surveillance state is thus established.

And let there be no mistake about the consolidation of power in the form of the new surveillance state. Recent revelations by Edward Snowden have shown an unprecedented program of surveillance both worldwide and on the American population. Even Erik Prince, the founder of the private military contractor Blackwater Worldwide thinks the security state has gone too far:

America is way too quick to trade freedom for the illusion of security. Whether it’s allowing the N.S.A. to go way too far in what it intercepts of our personal data, to our government monitoring of everything domestically and spending way more than we should. I don’t know if I want to live in a country where lone wolf and random terror attacks are impossible ‘cause that country would look more like North Korea than America.


The widespread outrage over the new surveillance state has been great enough that President Obama announced on Friday that he would scale back some of its programs, but he remained strident in his overall support for aggressive surveillance.

The interesting thing about the security measures that are taken today is that they provide, as Prince puts it, the “illusion of security”; another way to put it is that they provide “security theater.” Or perhaps it is actually a theater of fear.

During the George W. Bush administration we were treated to the color-coded terror threat meter. It was presented as a way to keep us secure, but constantly wavering between orange and red, it was arguably a device to remind us to be fearful. Similarly for the elaborate Transportation Security Administration screenings at airports. Security experts are clear that these procedures are not making us safe, and that they are simply theater. The only question is whether the theater is supposed to make us feel safer or whether it is actually intended to remind us that we are somehow in danger. The security expert Bruce Schneier suggests it is the latter:

By sowing mistrust, by stripping us of our privacy — and in many cases our dignity — by taking away our rights, by subjecting us to arbitrary and irrational rules, and by constantly reminding us that this is the only thing between us and death by the hands of terrorists, the T.S.A. and its ilk are sowing fear. And by doing so, they are playing directly into the terrorists’ hands.

The goal of terrorism is not to crash planes, or even to kill people; the goal of terrorism is to cause terror. … But terrorists can only do so much. They cannot take away our freedoms. They cannot reduce our liberties. They cannot, by themselves, cause that much terror. It’s our reaction to terrorism that determines whether or not their actions are ultimately successful. That we allow governments to do these things to us — to effectively do the terrorists’ job for them — is the greatest harm of all.


As the Norwegian philosopher Lars Svendsen notes in his book “A Philosophy of Fear,” Hobbes already anticipated the need for the sovereign to manipulate our fears. The state, Svendsen writes, “has to convince the people that certain things should be feared rather than others, since the people will not, just like that, fear what is appropriate from the point of view of the state. Hobbes points out that this can necessitate a certain amount of staging by the state, which magnifies certain phenomena and diminishes others.”

One way in which our fears can be manipulated by the government is to lead us to fear the lesser danger. Schneier provides a simple example of this: 9/11 caused people to irrationally fear air travel and led them to the much more dangerous route of traveling in automobiles.

Another such example of this misdirection of fear took place in the case of the Boston Marathon bombings on April 15, in which the Boston Police Department effectively imposed martial law and seized control of people’s homes and used them as command posts in their effort to apprehend the perpetrators. The bombings were terrible (three people died and more than 260 were injured), but just two days later another terrible thing happened: a giant explosion in a fertilizer plant in Texas killed at least 14 people and injured more than 160. For a moment we held our collective breath. Could it have been terrorists?

When we learned that it was probably an accident caused by the ignition of stored ammonium nitrate, a collective sigh of relief was heard, and then not another word about the event. But why? And what if the explosion in that factory was part of a larger problem of industrial safety? In fact, according to a report by the United States Congressional Research Service, thousands of industrial facilities across the country risk similar harm to nearby populations.

Meanwhile, 300,000 residents of West Virginia were without safe drinking water last week after 7,500 gallons of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol leaked into the Elk River from an industrial storage tank at a plant owned by a company called Freedom Industries. Few, if any, of the Sunday TV talk shows discussed the matter, but imagine the fear that would have been pedaled on those shows if terrorists had poisoned the water of those 300,000 Americans. Of course the danger is the same whether the cause is terrorism or corporate indifference and malfeasance.

Dangers are not limited to large scale events. In 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4,383 workers were killed on the job, and it has been at this level or higher since 9/11. In other words, we suffer a 9/11 every year in terms of workplace fatalities.

But the problem is not limited to workplace deaths. The A.F.L.-C.I.O. estimates another 50,000 die every year from occupational diseases. And none of this accounts for the thousands of workers who are permanently disabled each year.

In total, 54,000 Americans die every year due to work-related illnesses and accidents. This is the equivalent of 148 deaths each day; in terms of fatalities it is roughly a Boston Marathon bombing every half hour of every day.

But while we spend more than 7 billion dollars a year on the T.S.A.’s national security theater in which over 58,000 T.S.A. employees make sure we are not carrying too much toothpaste or shampoo onto airplanes, the budget for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is under $600 million per year. It seems that our threat assessments are flawed.

We are conditioned to fear persons in caves in Pakistan but not the destruction of our water supply by frackers, massive industrial accidents, climate change or the work-related deaths of 54,000 American workers every year. Fear of outside threats has led us to ignore the more real dangers from within.

Fear has also driven us to wage a “war on terror” that, as the political writer Jeremy Scahill has shown in his book “Dirty Wars,” creates still more enemies. As Scahill describes the results, the United States Special Forces kill lists of seven targets gave rise to kill lists of hundreds, which in turn gave rise to kill lists of thousands today. Does it not occur to the United States that the drone strikes and assassinations are creating more terrorists than they are neutralizing? Perhaps it has, but the calculation has been made that it does not matter. The newly minted enemies can be used to gin up more fear, more restrictions on our freedoms, and so the cycle goes. One might argue that the United States has become a government of fear, by fear, and ultimately, for fear.

Obama’s drone wars also arise from Hobbesian assumptions about society — that the sovereign, enlisted to impose order, is above the law. The sovereign is free to do whatever is in his power to impose order. If the United States must be in charge of providing order in the world, then its sovereign is above the law. Here lie the roots of so-called American exceptionalism.

Svendsen describes the dynamic thus: “The social contract is absolutely binding on all citizens, but the sovereign himself is not subject to the contract that he undertakes to guarantee. Similarly, the U.S. is conceived as being the guarantor of a civilized world, as the country that can maintain moral order, but that stands outside this order.” Fear is driving the United States to believe it is above the law.

Fear is even used to prevent us from questioning the decisions supposedly being made for our safety. The foundation of this approach in our government can be traced back to burning rubble of the World Trade Center, exemplified by this statement by John Ashcroft, then the attorney general of the United States, in December 2001: “To those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty, my message is this. Your tactics only aid terrorists, for they erode our national unity and diminish our resolve. They give ammunition to America’s enemies, and pause to America’s friends.”

As Svendsen points out, Ashcroft’s reasoning is straight out of the playbook of the German legal philosopher Carl Schmitt, who was notorious for defending Hitler’s extrajudicial killings of his political enemies. Schmitt too felt that national unity was critical and that liberty should be subjugated to safety. Svendsen writes:

A political act consists in maintaining one’s own existence and destroying those that threaten it, and there is little room for overcoming conflicts via discussion. Such political action is the sole right of the state, and in order to maintain itself the state must also eliminate all enemies within, that is, all those who do not fit into a homogeneous unity. Every genuine political theory, according to Schmitt, must assume that man is evil, that man is a dangerous being. It is here, in the fear of what humans can do to each other, that the state finds the justification of its own existence — the ability of the state to protect one is the argument for submitting to it.


Fear is a primal human state. From childhood on, we fear the monsters of our imaginations, lurking in dark closets, under beds, in deserted alleyways, but we also now fear monsters in the deserts of Yemen and the mountains of Pakistan. But perhaps it is possible to pause and subdue our fears by carefully observing reality — just as we might advise for trying to calm and comfort a fear-stricken child. We might find that, in reality, the more immediate danger to our democratic society comes from those who lurk in the halls of power in Washington and other national capitols and manipulate our fears to their own ends.

What are these ends? They are typically the protection of moneyed interests. In 1990, the Secretary of State James Baker tried to make the case for the first Gulf War on economic grounds. “The economic lifeline of the industrial world,” he said, “runs from the gulf and we cannot permit a dictator such as this to sit astride that economic lifeline.”

That rationale, although honest, did not resonate with the American people — it hardly seemed to justify war. The George W. Bush administration abandoned the economic justification and turned to fear as a motivator. We were told that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. If we did not act against him, the national security adviser Condoleezza Rice argued, the next thing we would see might be a “mushroom cloud.”

This playbook of fear has not been limited to motivating military actions. Environmentalists, once ridiculed as “tree-huggers” are now often characterized as “environmental terrorists” — as individuals we should fear and neutralize. The hacktivist Jeremy Hammond, who exposed the nefarious dealings of the private intelligence corporation Stratfor and its clients, was characterized as someone seeking to cause “mayhem” by Federal District Judge Loretta Preska when she sentenced him to 10 years in prison.

In each case, the images of mushroom clouds, environmental terrorists and agents of mayhem were used to justify actions that would otherwise seem excessive –- all in the service of protecting corporate interests.

Whatever their motivation, by using fear to induce the rollback of individual rights, politicians, judges and lawmakers are working against the hard-won democratic principles and ideals that we and other democracies have defended for almost 250 years. They are manipulating our fears to undo centuries of democratic reform. And it doesn’t matter if the empowered leader is called a king or a prime minister or a president; the end result is that fear has been used to place us back under the yoke of Hobbes’s sovereign and Machiavelli’s prince.

Yet ultimately we are not powerless. We can resist the impulse to be afraid. We may not at the moment have answers to the very real dangers that we face in this world, but we can begin to identify those dangers and seek solutions once we overcome our fear. Or as Bertrand Russell rather more elegantly put it, as World War II was drawing to a close, “to conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.”

Peter Ludlow, a professor of philosophy at Northwestern University, writes frequently on digital culture, hacktivism and the surveillance state.

Correction: January 20, 2014

An earlier version of this article misstated the estimated budget of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. It is less than $600 million, not less than $600,000.
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