You Are Suspicious – Domestic Surveillance of Americans

Many people suspected it, but now it is known for certain. The US government is spying on Americans, collecting vast amounts of electronic information to sort and store, and has been doing so for the last seven years.

The Guardian and Glenn Greenwald have the stories, and more reports are said to be on the way. 

Edward Snowden was working at a high level for NSA contractor Booz Allen Hamilton and was able to see how the various spying systems scoop up emails, phone records, locations, durations, chats, and almost anything you do online. This information is combined with other available information to create profiles of each of us. Snowden has documentation to prove it, and shared it with Greenwald.

It’s worth your time to watch the video and read the interview.  

He says that from his desk, he was able to look at any communications from just about anyone in real time. He says the US collects more data on its own citizens than it does on Russians.

The government isn’t denying it and, in fact, is saying it is ordinary and necessary. Some government officials feel the real problem is leaking this information.

Snowden supplied Powerpoint slides explaining how parts of the collection work

Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo, PalTalk, YouTube, Skype, and AOL are reported to contribute data to the collection, as do major phone carriers like Verizon. The companies claim they follow the law. Twiiter notably resisted.

Data collected is said to include emails, video chats, voice chats, text chats, videos, photos, stored data, VoIP, file transfers, video conferences, login attempts and notices of activity, online social networking details, and “special request.”

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is calling on Congress to investigate:

Congress now has a responsibility to the American people to conduct a full, public investigation into the domestic surveillance of Americans by the intelligence communities, whether done directly or in concert with the FBI.  And it then has a duty to make changes in the law to stop the spying and ensure that it does not happen again.”

Daniel Ellsberg, leaker of the Pentagon Papers, says “Pressure by an informed public on Congress to form a select committee to investigate the revelations by Snowden and, I hope, others to come might lead us to bring NSA and the rest of the intelligence community under real supervision and restraint and restore the protections of the bill of rights.”

Comments | 67

  • four follow-up questions

    how many times can we cross the rubicon?

    what is thought if the self that masterminds it is not aware of its use?

    the fourth amendment was a joke?

    if A.I. can’t tell context from content, how can data hogs be kosher?

    • 1988 or maybe 1963

      I think something fundamental shifted in this country when we elected a former DCIA (Director of the CIA) president (others might point as far back as the JFK assassination: ).

      It’s typical of the Bush family that he was regularly misrepresented in political cartoons as a wimp – despite being a guy who had been in the CIA all his adult life (according to some:

      Another thing that started with George H.W.Bush was the powerful Vice President.
      It is pretty widely known that Reagan’s descent into Alzheimers began while in office. Howard Baker was brought in from the outside late in the Reagan presidency to look around and then report to the press, “Everything’s fine in the White House. Nothing to see here.” Because whispers about Reagan’s mental state had begun.
      The question that was implied, but not asked was, “If Reagan has begun to check out mentally, who is in charge?”
      I believe that not only was it George H.W.Bush that was in charge, I believe he and Cheney (who would later become Bush’s Sec. of Def.) saw that it was possible for veep to run things and people not notice.
      That’s how they knew Cheney could do it with Bush,Jr.

      • Ok, Ok, Paul we got it!!

        Ok, Ok, Paul we got it!! Again it’s the Bush’s fault. Now would you please tell your current Messiah in office that he can stop doing what he’s been doing for the last 4 yrs and make “The Change” he campaigned on?

        • No Change

          Obama is not going to change anything.

          The only positive I see from having a Democrat in office is that there is a debate.

          When Bush was in office and a story would appear about massive sweeping up of all domestic phone and internet data the media echo chamber was completely silent.
          The story would quickly disappear.
          Air America and maybe Democracy Now listeners would hear about it, but not NPR listeners or anybody else for that matter.

          Now the Guardian – a British newspaper – prints a story on internet surveillance in the USA and WHAMO! everybody and their dog picks it up.
          Not like 2006.

          So since we DO all know about this now, maybe you and I can actually agree for a change.
          This is bad, right?
          As a fan of liberty you resent this intrusion?

          I oppose it for a number of reasons that you may or may not agree with:

          – this dragnet style of surveillance has a chilling effect on journalism.

          – it has a chilling effect on political discourse.

          – it has a chilling effect on politics in general.

          What discussion can take place without the White House knowing about it?

          We’ve had allegations of political eavesdropping in the past – we can look forward to an exponential increase in the future.

        • Well Actually Mike Bush began the program

          Well, actually Mike it is Bush’s fault. Bush began the program of warrantless surveillance shortly after the 2001 attacks on the WTC.

          There’s already so much misinformation out there, it’s hard to sort out what is really going on. And a lot of people are suckering into a quick knee jerk assumption about what has been going on and about the program itself. Now while this may not be a good program as far as civil liberties, it isn’t what people seem to be assuming or talking about.

          There is no automatic access to actual content of emails, phone calls, etc. Access can be obtained with a court warrant. Let’s talk about what the program really is. And if it isn’t a good program now, it wasn’t a good program back during Bush’s administration when it was started. NOW everyone is surprised and upset. The information about this has been out there ever since the Patriot Act was passed, through Congress might I add.

          Here are some actual quotes from Think Progress and The Guardian article, not suppositions from me.

          “The Guardian newspaper revealed on Wednesday night that the National Security Administration (NSA) is collecting information about the telephone records of millions of Americans through a warrant obtained in a secret court under authority granted in the Patriot Act.”
          (My note) Note that they are collecting information, not the actual content of the calls. In order to actually look at the content of any calls or emails they still have to obtain a warrant. This is what is called megadata.

          Again from The Guardian article
          “This is the first public confirmation that widespread surveillance of Americans, initiated under President George W. Bush in the aftermath of the World Trade Center attacks, has continued under the Obama administration. The program captures phone numbers and other information, but not the content of the conversations.”

          From Thing Progress including quotes in 2006 from USA Today, hardly a secret and hard to obtain information source. Note the date, 2006.

          “Warrantless surveillance began shortly after the September 2001 terrorist attacks. The Bush administration began a secret surveillance program in 2001, asking AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth to turn over communications records to the National Security Agency (NSA). The agency’s goal was “to create a database of every call ever made” within the nation’s borders, the USA Today reported in 2006.

          Program fell under court supervision in 2007. Following public uproar, the administration placed the program under the surveillance of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). In 2008, Congress expanded the Act to allow both foreign and domestic surveillance “as long as the intent is to gather foreign intelligence.” The measure also provided “retroactive immunity to the telecom companies that assisted the Bush administration.””

          From Think Progress
          “Congress extended the law through 2017. In December of 2012, Congress voted to reauthorize The FISA Amendments Act until 2017. The Act “allows federal agencies to eavesdrop on communications and review email” with a warrant from the secret FISA court. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), a critic of the program, offered an amendment during floor debate that would have required the NSA disclose an estimate of how often information on Americans was collected and require authorities to obtain a warrant if they wish to search for private information in the NSA databases. In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, Wyden, along with Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO), wrote, “We believe most Americans would be stunned to learn the details of how these secret court opinions have interpreted section 215 of the Patriot Act.” Wyden and Udall also noted that the administration promised August 2009 to establish “a regular process for reviewing, redacting and releasing significant opinions” of the court, though “not a single redacted opinion has been released.”

          What the Verizon order says. The secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court ordered Verizon — which has 121 million customers — to turn over metadata “on an ongoing daily basis” for a three-month period between April 25, 2013 and July 19, 2013. The order does not require Verizon to turn over the content of the calls, but it must share information about the numbers dialed, received and length of call.

          The Think Progress link

          So according to Think Progress and their links this has been public information all along. What Greenwald has done with his article via this whistleblower is to create an impression that this is something no one has nown about. Perhaps that’s why a lot of people aren’t as shocked, absolutely shocked, as others. It’s been public information since the Patriot Act was passed. As for the whistleblowers claims that he could access important people’s emails even the Presidents, which I read yesterday, that might be true but it would also have been illegal for him to do so. It also is probably true of most who have access to government internet access and it would be illegal for anyone to take advantage of that access. I think this whistleblower is going to prove to not be quite who he purports to be and like I said, be upset but why weren’t you all upset 11-12 years ago when the program was started?

          • British paper yes, but American author

            Just a little information for the record
            While this “leak” (of information that has been public since around 2002) certainly was published in the Guardian, a British paper, the author/journalist is Glen Greenwald, an American writer. And could we just keep in perspective the fact that journalists are only human and also have their own ulterior motives for pursuing information that has been public for years and presenting it as “new.” Here’s an interesting little spat going on right now between Mr. Greenwald and another reporter over the whistleblower. This isn’t all just for the sake of democracy, there are some career motivations going on also.


            My personal thoughts . . . now that there’s attention drawn the program should be discussed but with some idea of the actual history and knowledge of when it was made public, not as if WOW word just got out today. Another personal thought, Mr. Snowden is not going to turn out to be quite what he seems and the truth of his own background story and information may prove to be untrue.

          • The Point of the Guardian Being an English Paper

            The British actually enjoy LESS press freedom than we do. Newspapers there are in much greater danger of being sued for libel under English law.

            in all likelihood Edward Snowden observed the fate of Bradley Manning who approached both of our “best” newspaper organizations – the New York Times (which published the Pentagon Papers despite threats from Nixon’s Government) and the Washington Post.
            Both ignored Manning.
            After he went to Wikileaks with his information, then the two published bits of what he released,but they condemned him at the same time.

            Investigative journalist Greg Palast has written and spoken at length about the unwillingness of the US press core to pick up his stories. They have had to air on BBC’s Newsnight show and run in the Observer and Guardian.

            So, yes. I think it is significant that Snowden went to Greenwald & the Guardian and I think you are likely to see other whistleblowers go that same route.

          • How Involved Is The FISA Court

            Edward Snowden said in his interview with Glenn Greenwald that sitting at his desk working for Booz-Allen-Hamilton, a private contractor, that he could get anybody’s emails and calls anytime he wanted (hear the interview on Democracy Now –
            No FISA court, no checking with a superior.
            What he could see was not limited to the megadata or metadata or whatever – the actual content of the emails and calls and posts was all at his finger tips – even the president.
            It’s a total and complete trampling of 4rth amendment privacy rights. There’s really no way to sugar coat it, Rose. We’re all the way down the rabbit hole with no ladder out.

          • I'm saying let's deal with

            I’m saying let’s deal with the facts, not trying to rose coat anything, whether it’s the government or what Snowden has said, someone who we know little about.

            First of all the Democracy Now interview is with Greenwald, not Snowden. Just to clarify, and I already heard it. Thanks. I’ve been following Greenwald for some time and am not a huge fan of his. As I said, he has his own career motivations which is why I found the little P#ssing contest article over Snowden with the other journalist interesting. I own him, no he’s mine, it’s my story, no it’s my story. Wow, talk about concern about freedom and civil right in the US. Don’t release anything until you get all the credit for the big break boys.

            It’s possible Snowden could get anybody’s emails and calls anytime he wanted as he had access to the data but if he did so without a warrant it would be illegal. And I noted that. Also it’s been disputed that he could do so, we are still in the dark a bit as to whether this is true. According to the Think Progress article content was not turned over, only numbers. So if Snowden could get anybody’s emails and calls he might have to be hacking to do so. Fact is a lot of people could get your emails and phone calls by hacking. But if the phone company has only been releasing numbers, not content, he sure isn’t going to get the content of your calls without illegally doing so.

            I think there should have been more discussion about this 8 years ago. I think there should be a lot of discussion about this issue but let’s not hail Snowden as some big hero over something most people who follow the news knew about 8-10 years ago. Unless he starts releasing actual information that is classified. And then there’s another discussion to be had.

          • But He Is a Hero

            I’m sorry, but I flat out disagree that we should not hail Snowden (and Bradley Manning and others) as heroes.

            We should.

            I know that it has become a fad in the media to exam every aspect of a whistleblower’s life and if they are not squeaky clean we should not believe them.

            I reject that notion.

            Snowden has evidence and he has clearly thought long and hard about and made a difficult choice to make a huge sacrifice for someone so young and with so much promise.
            He’s given up a cushy life so we could have this debate and that deserves very high praise.

          • No claim that anyone else

            No claim that anyone else ‘should’ consider Snowden a hero or not but I sure do!!!

            Meanwhile, getting off the subject of the messenger, Marcy Wheeler has put together a timeline with relevant links from 2004 leading up to the Guardian’s publication of the Section 215 order to Verizon:

            Here’s her follow-up post linking the exigent letter to Section 215 activity:

            Okay, while hailing heroes, I’ll say hiphipHOORAY for both Marcy Wheeler & Glenn Greenwald!

        • Change you can believe in

          Things have changed quite a bit. Republican conservatives are suddenly outraged by heavy-handed government tactics and encroachment on civil liberties. And Democratic conservatives are suddenly defending Bush administration policies.

          But don’t worry, mr. mike. Everything will change back again the next time there’s a “R” conservative in the White House and you can pretend it’s all not happening for another four years.

      • the surprise is that anyone is surprised by this

        those of us who experienced watergate got a clear view of the all consuming impulse to monitor and control. writers like p.k. dick saw nixon’s paranoia and zeal, and his body of work reads like a man who had a time tunnel to today. films like ‘the conversation’ which came out in ’74, showed the depth and reach of the snooping impulse in those aspiring to power, and also the willingness of people to conspire in these subterfuges.

        all the politcal players you mentioned above were in the nixon cabal…but this is still in the arc of our present. in shakespere there is all sorts of hiding behind the drapes, and going back further, the greek gods assume false identies and covers to watch and listen to unsuspecting mortal saps.

        the hills have eyes, the walls have’s astonishing that people can be so credulous when it comes to the idea of privacy.

        for me the disurbing thing in this ubiquity of thought theft, is less political and more in the realm of the demise of an essential human experience. trust. integrity. knowing demagogues want total control seems a no-brainer. history is flush with examples. but that so many common people are and remain willingly party to this, for whatever reason, is more of a mystery.

        • the Nixon factor

          Spinoza, you’re right to bring up Nixon since Cheney got his start in politics in the Nixon White House.
          Cheney and his people (notably Scooter Libby and David Addington) were responsible for getting the Bush 2 agenda implemented including the telecom surveillance program.

        • Abide and Conquer

          When two cult classics collide…This little gem is too good to not share.

          Listen in on the puts all this into perspective

          • No Clue

            I have no clue what that clip has to do with anything but it does remind me that I have to watch the Big Lebowski someday . . . and I wish surveillance still looked like that.

          • Nihilists Among Us

            I found this mashup of two great American Films- The Conversation, by Coppola, and the Big Lebowski, especially sweet in light of current revelations. I don’t want to spoil anything for those who have not seen these films, but if you haven’t, I’d urge you to do so, for pleasure, as well as insight.

            I’ve been thinking about polls that indicate people are OK with being spied upon. It makes me think of the vidscreens of 1984, and the TV show ‘The Prisoner’- works that depict 24 hour surveillance, and every exchange recorded whether audible or visual.

            Are people also OK with cameras in the homes? Maybe I overindulged myself on dystopian works, but I’d feel better about invasions of privacy, if for example, horrors like Newtown, Aurora, Virginia Tech, Santa Monica, Boston etc., we’re thwarted as a result of these programs.

            I’d still have my doubts about the ethics and ramifications constitutionally, but with obvious efficacy, the tradeoffs would be more comprehensible. At this point, whether it’s the Dude and Walter pontificating, or me talking to my son about Marx (Karl or Groucho??) I have doubts that the mountains of data are parsed appropriately, and not just commercial ploys, control mechanisms, or raids on perennial human values.

  • Most say okay for feds to track us even if privacy compromised

    By Jon Cohen, Updated: Monday, June 10, 4:30pm

    (Washington Post} A large majority of Americans say the federal government should focus on investigating possible terrorist threats even if personal privacy is compromised, and most support the blanket tracking of telephone records in an effort to uncover terrorist activity, according to a new Washington Post-Pew Research Center poll.

    Fully 45 percent of all Americans say the government should be able to go further than it is, saying that it should be able to monitor everyone’s online activity if doing so would prevent terrorist attacks. A slender majority, 52 percent, say no such broad-based monitoring should occur.

    • More polling data

      HuffPo/YouGov asked a similar but differently worded question. Here’s an analysis of the results of the two polls including how closely respondents were following the news coverage:

      “Both surveys found that most Americans are paying relatively little attention to the story, which, as the Pew Research Center’s Michael Dimock recently pointed out, makes survey results particularly susceptible to differences that are most likely caused by initial reactions to question wording, rather than pre-existing opinions.”

      • WAshington Whistleblowers

        Last year I attended an event at Mount Holyoke College which featured Daniel Ellsberg and two government whitleblowers. Thomas Drake was a high ranking security adivisor who leaked non-classified info after exhausting attempts to have the situation investigate through appropriate chanels. He was charge with espionage. There is a “60 Minutes” interview with him that can be seen on youtube. His story is chilling.
        The other whistleblower was Jesselyn Radack a former attorney for the US Justice Dept. She was consulted by the FBI when they arrested John Walker Lindh in Afghanistan. She challenged the FBI handling of the case, she left her job and John Ashcroft tried to have her disbarred. She is now an attorney for an organization in DC that represents whisle blowers. She is councel for Thomas Drake. Youcan find interviewsand articles. about both online. Sorry no links writting this from my phone.

  • Perception and Reality

    I think what surprised me with this story was just how large the surveillance apparatus has become, how much more efficient the data processing (searching, sorting, tagging, etc), and the blandness of the official response in which they didn’t even try to deny it. What this says to me is that our philosophy has changed. We used to think that what distinguished the land of the free is that the government didn’t spy on its own people and take undue control of their lives. That was because we lived in a democracy. Today, we have greatly escalated government surveillance of Americans as well as foreigners, but even though it’s a program to spy on people’s private communications, the people are not allowed to know about it.

    Very strange and creepy. I hope Obama really does welcome a debate, and I hope that debate is vigorous and public. If we’re going to call ourselves a democracy, we really do need to involve the governed in the discussion. But what’s even creepier is that the conversation we need to have may be crippled by surveillance worries — and politics. As if this were a political problem.

    • "Today, we have greatly

      “Today, we have greatly escalated government surveillance of Americans as well as foreigners, but even though it’s a program to spy on people’s private communications, the people are not allowed to know about it.”

      Firstly if what they claim is true, it’s not spying on people’s private communications. They aren’t monitoring and have no access to content, only things like email addresses and phone numbers.

      Secondly, the people aren’t allowed to know about it? Considering that articles were published about the scope and extent of this as early as 2006 in even USA Today, where is the evidence that people weren’t allowed to know about it. The information was out there, USA Today is hardly a difficult to obtain new source.

      This is not new information. What I find strange and creepy is the amount of misinformation coming out over this. Rather than a case of people not being allowed to know about it, it’s a case of people not paying attention to information that was available. And that goes for all those Congresspeople who are shocked, absolutely shocked. If they’d been doing their jobs and attending the briefings they were supposed to attend, they would have known years ago.

      • Maybe

        From what I read in the Guardian, it looks like they’re getting more than metadata from the big internet companies. My understanding was that it was picking up email, photos, chat, video streams, and more. This kind of thing may be ok with you, but I work in the Internet business and the amount of snooping, spying, and misuse of information going on right now is staggering. I see that as a result of increased capability and frankly, a complete lack of morals on the parts of the worst abusers. As for the US government taking part in the data free for all, I still think it’s wrong. Some folks may feel better knowing they know all, but I don’t, and again, the potential for abuse is so high as to be an almost certainty.

        • I agree that there are

          I agree that there are issues. I’ll take a look at the Guardian but as I understand it even if they are picking up email, photos, chat et al they cannot look at content without a court order. They are allowed to look at addresses, etc. Now someone might look at content without a court order but as with the whistleblower who bragged that he could do this (note he didn’t say he did), if he did or anyone else it would be illegal.

          Personally, having worked with computers literally since the 60s and the days of punched paper tape predating PCs, anyone who posts anything and thinks they have some sort of security or privacy is nuts. That doesn’t mean I want people looking necessarily at my data, but it also means I never post anything I would care about someone seeing.

          • Everything Is Being Read Now

            I have friends that believe the government – and specifically the NSA has been listening in on all their phone calls for decades. There was one NSA guy who wrote a book several decades ago when most of us thought NSA meant “No Such Agency”.
            These friends read that book and came to believe that our government was listening in on everything. Until about 2006 I was an agnostic about that idea.
            Since 2006 the amount of evidence and the number of whistleblowers & journalists and authors covering this story has grown steadily.

            Rosa, you seem to have reservations about Snowden and Greenwald.
            That’s fine, but the Guardian is the organization that is taking the risk here and their reputation is excellent. They are one of the few papers going that hires an outside firm to audit their ethics on an annual basis and issue a report. With that kind of scrutiny I feel pretty good about Greeenwald’s reporting.

            But even if Greenwald and Snowden were 100% untrustworthy, this story still stands.
            You seem to be unwilling to believe it, but your government has been buying all your email and phone communications – everything, not just the who and when but every word said since 6 months before 9/11.
            Since you listen to Democracy Now (which is excellent), listen carefully to Tim Shorrock (author of Spies For Hire) talk to Amy Goodman on today’s show. About 25 minutes into the show he tells her flat out, “this began 6 months before 9/11”.
            I provided a link in a comment above to the Wikipedia article on Qwest Communications whose former CEO states that the federal government came to them 6 months before 9/11 and proposed buying all their info (he said “no” and was put in jail on trumped up charges).
            You can look up former ATT employee Mark Klein and his revelation about the secret room in the ATT office where he worked in SF, where all the communication going through their lines were stored for the NSA.

            There is quite a lot of reporting on this story if you look for it.

          • You need to read my posts

            You need to read my posts more carefully.
            “You seem to be unwilling to believe it, but your government has been buying all your email and phone communications – everything, not just the who and when but every word said since 6 months before 9/11.”

            What I said in my earlier and first post was exactly that. That this has been going on since 6 months after 9-11 and has been public record since at least as early as 2006 when it was written about even in USA Today and other publications. Of course I believe it.

            Which is why I find the Greenwald article rather self-serving since it has been public record for about 7 years already. Read my posts before you try to educate me please.

            My point is why all the big noise now. Where was everyone 7 years ago? As for Snowden some of his story is already falling apart a bit but I don’t even see what he’s done here except put out some info that was already known albeit perhaps not the scope of it for most people. He seems to be a little less than truthful in little bits and pieces including what he purported his salary to be. But it doesn’t even matter. The point is that this information has been public record for a long time so why would I not believe it. Of course I do. What I object to is the big jumping on the bandwagon but with tons of misinformation and shock, absolute shock. As said right before your posts if some of those politicians had bothered to do their jobs and attend briefings some 7 years ago they would have already known about this.

            and as to that misinformation you are only adding to it. They have been obtaining bulk information, phone numbers, email addresses but no actual content was turned over at this point according to almost every source I have read and I read a lot.

            Now perhaps you can point me to an accurate cite that indicates that “they” have more than that, every word, everything. A reasonable responsible cite please. I wouldn’t be surprised but at this point all I’ve seen, even in the Guardian’s various articles, is that it’s bulk data, not content.

            But please before you make assumptions about what I believe read what I’ve written here. It appears you didn’t.

          • Almost Funny

            It is true I’m a sloppy reader at times, but I am not alone.

            Rosa, you quote me saying the USA had been spying “…since 6 months BEFORE 9/11.”
            and you say that’s exactly what you said “…since 6 months AFTER 9/11…”

            Read this carefully!

            I agree Snowden’s revelations join a host of previous leaks, but his are the ones that finally got the debate going -that’s the critical piece.

            As to whether they are getting content or not – that’s what I had understood from the 2006 stories. This distinction about “metadata” is new to me.

            I’ll look for some sources on the content grab. Watch this space!

          • "The NSA Is Getting Everything."

            This is the Washington Post story on retired ATT employee Mark Klein who revealed that the ATT office where he worked in San Francisco had a “secret room” off limits to everybody but the NSA.


            A coworker showed Klein a wiring diagram of the building (this is in Oct. 2003, it looks like).

            All the internet data coming through ATT’s lines were being split or twinned so that the secret room was getting a copy of everything going through ATTs lines.

            To quote Klein:

            “This splitter was sweeping up everything, vacuum-cleaner-style,” he said. “The NSA is getting everything. These are major pipes that carry not just AT&T’s customers but everybody’s.”

            “They’re copying the whole Internet. There’s no selection going on here. Maybe they select out later, but at the point of handoff to the government, they get everything.”

          • What I wrote may have been

            What I wrote may have been confusing.
            What I was referencing in the quoted section was just your insinuation that I seemed unaware or in disbelief as to the monitoring of communications. My entire point of posting was my frustration with people thinking this was new information which is the opposite of what you seemed to think was in my mind.

            I hadn’t noticed that you wrote “6 months before 9-11” which is curious. I do know that after the Patriot Act was passed this was implemented. Can you provide some actual cites that reference 6 months “before”. I think there are an awful lot of people throwing out “facts” without really providing any sort of verification and would like to see some cite or explanation as to your before 9-11 statement. Thanks

          • Surveillance Program Began In February 2001

            Well, things get more interesting all the time.

            On June 7 I commented on Chris’ story about the IRS reading your mail and included a link to a Wikipedia article on Qwest Communications.
            When the Bush administration approached the telecom companies in March 2001 about buying all their communications traffic there was one company (and one CEO) who said “No”.
            It was Qwest.
            Until June 7th at least, there was a paragraph about that on the “Qwest” Wikipedia page. As of last night – June 12, that page had been completely rewritten and the NSA paragraph removed.

            However, the page of the former CEO, Joseph Nacchio is still there.


            The relevant passage from that article:

            “According to a Washington Post report, Nacchio claimed that the National Security Agency had asked Qwest in February 2001 to participate in a surveillance program; Nacchio said that after he declined, the NSA punished Qwest by dropping a contract worth hundreds of millions of dollars.[9]”

            Back in 2008 I listened to Thom Hartmann, and Air America alot. He and they talked about these surveillance programs all the time and always made clear that it all started in February 2001.
            I should have paid more attention to the sourcing, looked it up and saved it then, but you can’t do everything.
            I think I’ve given you enough to start with and you can run with it and dig a little deeper if you want.

          • Thank you. That is

            Thank you. That is interesting

      • What metadata can reveal

        An EFF blog post about metadata was eye-opening to me; here’s an excerpt:

        “What they are trying to say is that disclosure of metadata—the details about phone calls, without the actual voice—isn’t a big deal, not something for Americans to get upset about if the government knows. Let’s take a closer look at what they are saying:

        They know you rang a phone sex service at 2:24 am and spoke for 18 minutes. But they don’t know what you talked about.
        They know you called the suicide prevention hotline from the Golden Gate Bridge. But the topic of the call remains a secret.
        They know you spoke with an HIV testing service, then your doctor, then your health insurance company in the same hour. But they don’t know what was discussed.
        They know you received a call from the local NRA office while it was having a campaign against gun legislation, and then called your senators and congressional representatives immediately after. But the content of those calls remains safe from government intrusion.
        They know you called a gynecologist, spoke for a half hour, and then called the local Planned Parenthood’s number later that day. But nobody knows what you spoke about.

        Sorry, your phone records—oops, “so-called metadata”—can reveal a lot more about the content of your calls than the government is implying. Metadata provides enough context to know some of the most intimate details of your lives. And the government has given no assurances that this data will never be correlated with other easily obtained data. They may start out with just a phone number, but a reverse telephone directory is not hard to find. Given the public positions the government has taken on location information, it would be no surprise if they include location information demands in Section 215 orders for metadata.”

        • Metadata Got Spitzer

          I think Spitzer’s downfall fits into what you are talking about. I saw a piece from Buzzflash (which I can’t find now) circa 2009 that laid out how credit card and phone records to the call girl service were used to pinpoint Spitzer and end his political career.

          This Crooks and Liars piece gets more into the fact that NSA info on Spitzer ended up in the hands of the FBI.

          • I Found It!

            Here’s the BuzzFlash piece by David Lindorf that I was looking for. It is no longer available on the web, but I saved it to my hard drive back then so I still have it.

            Spitzer Bust Provides Warning Regarding NSA Spying: Dave Lindorff
            Created 03/11/2008 – 1:33am
            I have no sympathy for New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, the hot-shot prosecutor of call-girl operations who was hoist on his own petard, as it were. I mean, what a jerk! And aside from the hypocrisy, what a fine message he was sending to his three teenage daughters about the role of women.

            Having said that, Spitzer’s bust should give pause to those in Congress who are ready to hand President Bush a free pass to continue his 6-year campaign of warrantless spying on Americans.

            We now know from yesterday’s Wall Street Journal article that the spying Bush has been doing through the National Security Agency since early 2001 has included vast computer sweeps of not just Internet and phone activity, but also bank and credit card transactions. These are sweeps of ordinary everyday people, with computers looking for odd transactions, or for codewords, or for transactions involving specific targeted organizations or addresses.

            What nailed Spitzer, we now learn, was a series of bank transactions he had with the bank account of the Emperor’s Club VIP callgirl operation.

            Now reportedly, the IRS was conducting this particular investigation, which allegedly was investigating the Emperor’s Club. Once the IRS discovered it had caught the New York governor in its web, it forwarded the case to the U.S. Attorney General’s Office, where the FBI pursued it, apparently on the instructions of AG Michael Mukasey. The investigation moved from monitoring the bank to monitoring phones, and Spitzer was captured talking to the Emperor’s Club dispatcher. Bingo. Promising Democratic political career ruined.

            Now the monitoring of the Emperor’s Club was reportedly done with a court-ordered warrant. That’s fine. But this case shows us how people can get caught up by this kind of investigation really quickly.

            Now imagine that instead of a call-girl operation, this had been a mosque or an international charity organization, and suppose you were someone who had made a call to ask about making donations to help the victims of the last earthquake in Indonesia? If that mosque or charity happened to be on the list of outfits being monitored by the NSA’s computers, your call might well have been picked up. Then the focus would shift to your phone and your Internet server, and conceivably every communication you made would be watched.

            This is the America we now live in. According to The Wall Street Journal, after a wave of national outrage forced the Bush administration to shut down its Total Information Awareness project at the Pentagon, Bush and Cheney simply moved their scheme to subject all telecommunications and bank transactions to computer monitoring over to the NSA.

            Since none of this spying activity is subject to court supervision and warrant requirements, we are left having to trust the personnel at the NSA, the so-called Justice Department, and the president and his administration, not to abuse it.

            Right. And think of the temptations!

            Want to know what the House leadership strategy is regarding renewal of the NSA wiretap authorization? Want to know whether the Congress is serious about imposing a time limit on troops in Iraq? Just start monitoring their e-mails and phones.

            Want to make sure Democratic members of Congress go along with a war on Iran? Just monitor their phones and e-mails and catch them in conversations that are suitable for a little blackmail.

            Is this kind of thing happening? Well, I keep marveling at the cowardly behavior of leading members of Congress such as Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Judiciary Chair John Conyers. Maybe something is being held over their heads.

            We know that the prosecution and conviction of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman was an administration hit on a popular Democratic official. Siegelman is now in jail. Ditto Wisconsin state employee Georgia Thompson. These blatant political prosecutions certainly weigh on the minds of all Democratic elected officials.

            Who, after all, is safe in this kind of environment, where the Bill of Rights has been set aside?

            Spitzer, who no doubt made use of phone taps himself in his day, and who was ruthless as New York’s attorney general in bringing down many of his own targets, may well deserve what he is getting. But the way he was ensnared, via the secret monitoring of a bank’s activity, and via phone taps, should put us all on guard.

            With that kind of power, unchecked in the hands of an intensely political administration, it’s almost a certainty that it is being used and used inappropriately for political ends.

            DAVE LINDORFF is a Philadelphia-based journalist and columnist. His latest book is “The Case for Impeachment” (St. Martin’s Press, 2006 and now available in paperback). His work is available at

          • Thanks...

            …for tracking this down, Paul. I think I will forward to Marcy Wheeler, who BTW is doing a fabulous job of parsing all the statements/releases related to surveillance at

            It looks like the spin-doctors are trying to contain discussion to the two programs referenced in the leaked documents and two agencies (NSA & FBI). Just in the last few days, Marcy and one or two top-level bloggers have posted the following:

            * Seeing Through the Blizzard to Utah: How Much Space Does Metadata Need
            * The CNET “Bombshell” and the Four Surveillance Programs
            * Shell Games: How to Keep Doing Internet Data Mining and Avoid the Courts
            * Telecoms Versus the Toobz: The Source of the Legal Troubles
            * NSA Spying: The Oversight of the Passive Voice
            * To Justify Dragnet, FBI Implies It Can’t File 300 More NSLs in a Year
            * PRISM: The Difference between Orders and Directives
            * The Inefficacy of Big Brother: Associations and the Terror Factory
            * Al Gore: Get Your Hands Off of My (Our?) Internet
            * Russ Feingold: Yahoo Didn’t Get the Info Needed to Challenge the
            Constitutionality of PRISM


    Looks like Mozilla is joining the campaign to address the surveillance situation:

  • more than metadata

    All the assurances I have read as being reported from various government sources stress that the government is just analyzing metadata, that anything more would require subpoenas or approval of special secret judges. What no one seems to notice, or to comment upon, is the implication that the phone conversations can be listened to with a subpoena. Later. Much later. Which implies that there are recordings of conversations. I haven’t gone back to look at the news stories to clarify this, but wasn’t there reporting – after the fact – on the phone conversations of the two brothers involved in the Boston bombings? That’s a little different than simple records of who called whom when or sent emails with time stamps.

    I would suggest that quite a few people have always assumed the tracking and recording was being done – if not by the government then in part by corporations who make those friendly little ads appear on the web pages to which you surf. (Which means that it is available to the government.) What is different this time is that what seems to be proof of the extensiveness of this monitoring has been offered, proof that is counter to the official denials that had been made.

    The posturings of politicians (‘shocked, I’m shocked I tell you’)isn’t from misinformation, nor from not paying attention. It’s already been stated a number of times that they had received briefings about the surveillance. Those politicians are simply using the media to either cover their butts for their voters, or are trying to use the exposure to score political points against the opposing party.

    Saying that someone can’t access certain information legally has no weight. If it can be accessed, it can be accessed. Again, this implies that the government, or the corporations, have the data banks, have the recordings to access. That’s a heck of a lot of data storage. I’m impressed. How far back does it really go? Can they read my emails from 1986 or my conversations on Commodore’s ILink, or those Usenet posts through the portal at Compu$erve? I’d love to see a few of those again. Do my emails get monitored if I use the word “occupy”? Would there be a revolution in Syria if the Bashar al-Assad government had such vast access to all such data on their citizenry? How about the government of Turkey versus the “protestors”? Will citizens here still be able to organize a “protest” demonstration against the government, without being labeled as terrorists by a computer program? Etcetera.

    • I totally agree with you.

      I totally agree with you. Most of those politicians who are claiming to be shocked have probably known about this for years. And now they’re helping to blow it up (Bengazhi-revisited) for political purposes while the public is all atwitter and upset about something they all would have known about years ago if they’d been paying attention.

      And that’s why this whistleblower isn’t tooting anything but something that was already known. And can we discuss that he had only worked there for 3 months, how much did he really know after 3 months. How accurate is his information. It usually takes a little longer than that to be really privy to what’s going on in a job.

      Glenn Greenwald, true to type, prints this story to bolster his career, seems as a responsible reporter he would have noted that this was public knowledge some years ago. Or did he not know that, does he not read as plebian a newspaper as USA Today? The pundits left and right are going crazy. Over what?

      I think a discussion about privacy could and should be had. But yes, you are right, this is being used as another political football to attempt to batter the Obama administration with when in fact these very politicians voted for the Patriot Act. Did they read the Act when they voted for it? Or was it just a slam-dunk vote because Bush wanted it?

      Al Franken, who is proving to be a very measured and thoughtful congressman, had some very interesting things to say about this yesterday. I think he’s probably more correct than most.

      • Question

        Ok, I get that we’ve all known about this although I don’t think we knew nearly as much for sure until now. My question is, now that we really and truly know, are we in agreement with government policies on domestic spying? This is the debate. I”m against it.

      • Good question

        “How accurate is his information?”
        It’s hard to tell, isn’t it? Some of what he says is pretty clearly false. His salary for one thing, although that’s hardly the meat of what the story is about. He also claims to have been “a systems engineer, systems administrator, senior advisor for the Central Intelligence Agency, solutions consultant, and a telecommunications information systems officer.” Does it seem realistic to anyone that a government contractor or the government, which so loves credentials and degrees, would hire as an advisor a guy who has no degree? Who says himself that he took a few courses at a local community college? From among thousands of qualified, credentialed, experienced IT systems engineers and administrators, this is the guy the hyper-paranoid NSA and CIA picked to have some kind of “uber access” to their systems? It just doesn’t seem likely to me. Not likely at all.

        But there are other things, too. He claims to have had access to “every CIA station in the world” from an NSA facility in Hawaii? Patently false. Not possible. The connections don’t exist to enable such access.

        He also said: “If I had just wanted to harm the US, you could shut down the surveillance system in an afternoon.” Again, it’s not possible. He might have been able to do some localized damage to information assets, but that’s it.

        “Not all analysts have the ability to target everything, but I, sitting at my desk, certainly had the authorities to wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant, to a federal judge, to even the President, if I had a personal email. I had access to … undercover assets all around the world, the locations of every station that we have, what their missions are, and so forth.”
        It seems unlikely that an IT specialist or systems administrator would have the kind of broad access to information he claims, and certainly wouldn’t have the abilities to direct assets that he claims. First, in the world of intelligence, IT “infrastructure analysts,” as he claims to be, are considered “maintenance guys,” not highly-placed operatives who can direct assets. Even if that were not so, classified “codeword” information isn’t available on a general basis even to high ranking people who have the appropriate clearances; it’s only available on a “need to know” basis. As a means of protecting such information from those who may have clearance but not the need to know, it is “compartmented,” which means it only circulates freely among those who use and need the information for their daily duties.
        So, for instance, someone who has a Top Secret clearance with SCI (Secret Compartmented Information) access, and works in say… oh, the analysis of intercepted radio communications of the Fredonian military, can’t gain free and unfettered access to satellite reconnaissance photos of a civilian research facility in Zitistan.

        Finally, if he worked where I think he worked (NSA Facility Kunia), I don’t believe that he had any access to the kind of program he described.

        Some of what he says seems to fit what is known about collection programs in general, and the domestic communications collection program specifically. Some of his story checks out – his employer confirmed that he worked for them, anyway. But all in all, I think he’s a guy that may have stumbled onto a document and came up with a big, self-aggrandizing story. And Glenn Greenwald has been taken for quite a ride.

        • Denials and Non Denials

          Weirdly, the government is denying nothing at this point. I just watched part of the hearings from today and the NSA director said they had to scoop up everything so they could sift through it later. He didn’t deny that Snowden had a lot of access and said that that was something they would be “looking into.” That’s been one of the more surprising aspects of this story — the complete lack of government denial about it. I think they really do welcome debate — as long as in the end, we let them record our every move. They want to change our bias against the surveillance of Americans.

        • I always find Greenwald's

          I always find Greenwald’s “journalism” is rather sloppy as evidenced by this story, he obviously didn’t research this guy very well. But this is typical of Greenwald who really is more of a writer who likes to do articles that fit within his own personal belief system and political framework, he’s really not a journalist in the true sense of the word.

          • More questions

            1. Are you basing your claim of sloppy journalism on Maus’ comment above in which he conjectured that Snowden’s background story is false? I didn’t see any sources cited in Maus’ post except what appears to be his own personal experience and knowledge of the federal government and associated surveillance agencies.

            2. If the story is false, or fundamentally false, why is the US government in full damage control mode? Why not just deny it?

            Just askin….

          • Something wrong, but not sure exactly what it is

            And to be clear, my experience is more than 20 years old at this point, and predates 9/11. However, it’s difficult for me to believe that two agencies that were, from my personal experience, super-mega–hyper-paranoid before 9/11 have suddenly gone all squishy on security and have started handing out blanket access to anyone with a pay stub.

            On the other hand, when questioned in front of congress about this very subject, NSA head Keith Alexander said they’re looking into how Snowden had such sweeping access. He didn’t specifically admit that he was granted that kind of access, but he didn’t deny it when given the opportunity.

            At any rate, something is wrong with this story, and either it’s that we don’t have all of the story, or some of the story is not quite the truth. We’ll find out at some point, and I’ll reserve my final judgement for now.

            I agree with you, Lise, that the government’s reaction to this has also been puzzling.

            As far as Greenwald goes, I think he’s a smart guy and a compelling writer. But I also agree that he’s one of several popular journalists who write in such a way as to inflate their own image.
            He’s certainly promoting himself to a great extent along with this story, although that in itself doesn’t make any of what he has reported wrong.

          • My statements about Glenn

            My statements about Glenn Greenwald are based on following his writing for some time now about many topics. While he is a compelling writer and appears to be intelligent he is also very very self-serving as I stated.

            I don’t see where Maus is stating that the story is false, nor did I. But I agree with Maus that something about this is very odd, not necessarily false, but odd. And because it is not false, the government is obviously in damage control mode for one thing because this could possibly jeopardize surveillance of potential terrorists. That would be a reason to be in damage control.

            I also suspect that the fact that this work has been “farmed” out would also be another reason why they can’t verify or deny anything at this point. They aren’t really that close to what has been done or not done since this was all given to outside sources. Now talk about sloppy, that’s even more sloppy than Greenwald’s journalism.

  • Ritika Singh, at Brookings Institution - the “real problem”

    By Ritika Singh
    Wednesday, June 12, 2013 at 1:09 PM

    The ACLU has filed a lawsuit against the NSA in the Southern District of New York challenging the constitutionality of the program that collects phone metadata. The ACLU statement says:

    This dragnet program is surely one of the largest surveillance efforts ever launched by a democratic government against its own citizens. . . .It is the equivalent of requiring every American to file a daily report with the government of every location they visited, every person they talked to on the phone, the time of each call, and the length of every conversation. The program goes far beyond even the permissive limits set by the Patriot Act and represents a gross infringement of the freedom of association and the right to privacy.

    The Washington Post, Politico, New York Times, and the Associated Press all have more details on the suit.

    NYU Law’s Brennan Center for Justice has released a fact sheet about the surveillance programs: “Are They Allowed to Do that? A Breakdown of Selected Government Surveillance Programs.”

    The well-intentioned advice for Edward Snowden just keeps pouring in. Thomas Drake, also a former NSA employee who was accused of revealing classified NSA information, says Snowden should: “Be lawyered up to the max and find a place where it’s going to be that much more difficult for the United States to make arrangements for his return. . . . And always check six, as we said when I used to be a flyer in the Air Force. Always make sure you know what’s behind you.” Reuters has more.

    The Economist distills the “real problem” behind the leak controversy: not that the government is spying on us, but that the government is asking Google to turn over what it knows about us.

    Paul R. Pillar, nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, put things in perspective in the National Interest, pointing out that when he was involved in a Department of Defense study in 1997 about data collection, everyone was excited about it:

    The resulting report recommended aggressive exploitation of the then-new World Wide Web and data-handling technology available in the private sector to perform such collection and exploitation. The report talked about the importance of exploiting “meta-information” on use of the Internet as well as substantive information possibly pertinent to terrorist threats. The term “data mining” was used, not as a dirty word but instead as a descriptor of the kind of technology that the government ought to employ more extensively. Perhaps as a reflection of the fact that it was mainly scientists and engineers and not lawyers who wrote this part of the report, there was no mention of drawing fine lines or indeed any lines between collection abroad and within the United States.

    For more interesting law and security-related articles, follow us on Twitter and check out the Lawfare News Feed, visit the Georgetown Center on National Security and the Law’s Security Law Brief, Syracuse’s Institute for National Security & Counterterrorism’s newsroll and blog, and Fordham Law’s Center on National Security’s Morning Brief and Cyber Brief. Email Raffaela Wakeman and Ritika Singh noteworthy articles to include, visit the Lawfare Events Calendar for upcoming national security events, and check out relevant job openings at the Lawfare Job Board.

  • Useful fact sheet by Brennan Center (NYU law school)

    Here is the direct link to the Brennan Center release on the legal & constitutional issues involved:

    Interesting how so many can’t resist gravitating to the motives of the whistle-blower & Guardian blogger involved rather than focusing on the content & implications of the actual documents released…IMHO the release of the NSA powerpoint represents a “scoop” and actual “journalism” that is resulting in a debate that should have taken place long ago. In any case, I welcome all that is transpiring & look forward to further revelations & inquiry.

    • "Interesting how so many

      “Interesting how so many can’t resist gravitating to the motives of the whistle-blower & Guardian blogger involved rather than focusing on the content & implications of the actual documents released.”

      Nan, did the whistleblower release actual documents?

      • Most conversant here have various viewpoints

        As far as my reading, I think many of us here and in other media, in fact,do not fail to focus on “the content & implications of the actual documents released.”

        Whether the percentages of those who gravitate to the motives of the whistle-blower(s)versus those who focus on implications and content of actual documents are greater than the other is a useless argument.

        It’s a too complex topic. It is truer I think, Rosa, that most people who are conversant with this “new” revelation of domestic surveillance have a keen interest in the various components of what’s happening.

        Boxing up participants into one neat corner for your argument’s sake, from you or anyone, just won’t do.

      • Court order to Verizon - link to Richard Clarke -clarification

        Hi Rosa – yes, Snowden provided The Guardian with the court order to Verizon:

        Looks pretty official to me anyway. 😉 I guess others might wait for more definitive evidence that this type of activity is going on.

        Some are surmising the 4-5 slides published by WashPo & The Guardian are part of a presentation used for training or retraining analysts. I’m not sure we’ve seen enough to be certain about that at this point.

        Meanwhile, Richard Clarke has weighed in with his concern about the overreach of the surveillance efforts:


        Vidda – just to clarify, it was me not Rosa who observed that “so many can’t resist gravitating to the motives of the whistle-blower & Guardian blogger involved rather than focusing on the content & implications of the actual documents released.” I’m reading posts & comments on numerous blogs & websites and didn’t mean to imply any particular breakdown here on iBratt.

        • You said documents. I thought

          You said documents. I thought that meant more than the Verizon court order. Does it?

          Are you suggesting the 4-5 slides also came from Snowden?

        • ...It must work somehow in the favor of the Spyballs

          “…it was me not Rosa …” And so it was you Nan! My apologies to Rosa, but it seemed so in-character… 🙂 I’ll be careful to note the appropriate handle.

          …I “didn’t mean to imply any particular breakdown here on iBratt.” In my re-reading of it, I have noted that Nan.

          This whole exercise is frustrating. It must work somehow in the favor of the Spyballs who are gleeful to see Americans go-at each other.

          What a beautiful diversionary benefit for them.

  • Additional links - AP story & Greenwald follow-up

    Thought I’d share a few new links to bump story back to front page. Greenwald was criticized by the Establishment pundits for not immediately responding to questions that arose in aftermath of Guardian & WashPo publication of NSA slides on Prism. Here’s his response entitled “On Prism, partisanship and propaganda”; it covers quite a bit of ground including revelations to come:

    He also was working on a new article that appeared in the print version of The Guardian that gets into the concerns of whistleblower Snowden a bit more:

    Today, AP has a good piece which hopefully will be picked up by a lot of papers around the country and shared widely online:


    “Schneier, the author and security expert, said it doesn’t really matter how Prism works, technically. Just assume the government collects everything, he said.

    He said it doesn’t matter what the government and the companies say, either. It’s spycraft, after all.

    “Everyone is playing word games,” he said. “No one is telling the truth.”

    • Even more related resources

      Barton Gellman followed up with another story on scope of surveillance architecture in Washington Post that has gotten folks talking:

      William Arkin, who co-authored “Top Secret America” with Dana Priest, is coming out with another book, “American Coup” soon and has been interviewed by Wisconsin public radio, NBC, and BBC recently. His blog isn’t up-to-date but links are in his Twitter feed along left side:
      Looking through his blog posts though, I ran across a March 2012 post listing a bunch of NSA program code names:
      He’s no fan of whistleblowers (including Drake or Snowden) as he makes clear in the public radio show. That being said, he doesn’t believe in the efficacy of our current national security system, considers Snowden’s revelations more as “an industrial accident” that he hopes will wake up all of us who have “checked out” and permitted the US Government to expand “greedily” and ineffectively.

      I always appreciate Kevin Drum’s perspective and links:
      He drew my attention to the Twitter feed of Julian Sanchez, who has posted good links the last few days: and a blogpost on an interesting Nadler-Mueller exchange:

      Happy Father’s Day, all the dads out there!

      • If Snowden is a hero who only

        If Snowden is a hero who only wants the truth to come out shouldn’t that also apply to himself personally? Shouldn’t we be a bit more suspicious of someone who claims to be a truthteller . . . about others . . . but seems to have some issues with telling the truth when it comes to himself?

        Many argue that regardless of who Snowden is the real story is that more detailed information about the surveillance program came out and a discussion is being had.

        However I’m not so sure that’s true as the total picture is important also. The story behind Snowden and who he is and where he comes from and where he got the information could prove to be pretty enlightening. Are the American people being set up? Is Obama’s administration being set up? Or is Snowden just an average joe who’s become a hero because he wants the truth to come out?

        It’s interesting that in a town where conspiracy theories abound so many seem to be embracing Snowden’s story without question.

        Some discrepancies in his timeline about obtaining the information are coming to light.

        IBtimes reports that Snowden was approaching people about the story in January/February, months before he even was hired at Booz Allen. Now how does that work?

        The following excerpts are from the Daily Banter

        And it’s been almost a week since other sites, now including Mother Jones, The Nation and Andrew Sullivan’s The Dish, began to notice significant issues with his reporting about PRISM.

        First, the LA Times learned yesterday that Snowden’s claim that he absconded off with four Booz Allen laptops containing the documents appears to be untrue. In fact, Snowden reportedly transported the documents on a USB thumb drive. Unless the investigators mentioned in the LA Times article are trying to spread misinformation about Snowden, this brings up yet another bizarre gap in Snowden’s story as well as The Guardian‘s reporting of it. It’s not unlike the $78,000 salary discrepancy between what Snowden said he was earning and what Booz Allen said it was paying him

        And then Snowden did something that might actually be worse than lying about wiretapping the president, etc.

        He handed over documents about American cyber warfare against China — to China. Specifically, Snowden gave the documents to a Hong Kong publication. Perhaps he was emboldened by all of the attention, hero worship and deification he received here. Who knows. Whatever drove him to do it, it was phenomenally irresponsible on a couple of fronts. Not only could he have exacerbated an already dubious international relationship, considering how there appears to be an escalating hacking war between the United States and China, but he also managed to turn numerous Americans against him — Americans who believe he crossed the line from whistleblower to traitor.

        And a new news release from yesterday
        Reuters is reporting that Snowden may have lied about his education in order to be hired by the CIA, etc.

        According to the sources, Snowden told employers he took computer classes at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, earned a certificate from the University of Maryland’s campus in Tokyo, and expected in 2013 to earn a master’s degree in computer security from the University of Liverpool in England.

        A Johns Hopkins spokeswoman said she could not find a record of Snowden’s attendance but he may have taken correspondence courses for which records are not kept. A Maryland official confirmed Snowden attended at least one summer class. A Liverpool spokeswoman said Snowden registered for an online master’s degree in computer security in 2011, but did not complete it.

        • And just what was Greenwald's

          And just what was Greenwald’s motive and involvement in this story.
          Another excerpt
          But this was somehow flushed down the memory hole in lieu of hyperbole and kneejerk mass hysteria over Greenwald and others shouting “fire!” (or “Worse than Bush!”) in a virtual crowded theater.

          Indeed, Greenwald continues to shout “fire!” in the face of mounting concern (see my previous posts) over the veracity of his central scoop. Perlstein also quoted open-source expert Ken Fogel who referred to the use of “direct access” as an “epic botch.” Mother Jones‘ Kevin Drum wrote yesterday, “…the ‘direct access’ claim puzzled me from the start. Even with my modest technical background, I understood immediately that it didn’t make sense.” Wednesday night on Chris Hayes’ MSNBC show, Greenwald weaseled around the questions, saying essentially the same thing he’s said all week: that he summarized the line from the PRISM PowerPoint slide and therefore he’s didn’t botch the story.

          Our story was the following: we have documents, a document, from the NSA that very clearly claims that they are collecting directly from the servers of these internet giants. That’s the exact language that this document used. We went to those internet companies before publishing and asked them, and they denied it, and we put into the story very prominently that they denied it. Our story is that there is a discrepancy between the relationship that these, that the private sector and the government has, in terms of what the NSA claims and what the technology companies claim.
          Tenacious, to put it mildly. To suggest that the problem is merely that the tech giants contradicted the PRISM slide represents a stubborn refusal to acknowledge the volumes of contravening information that’s been released, including from his own publication. No, Greenwald couldn’t possibly have gotten it wrong, it must be that someone else is lying about it — and who are you going to trust? Greenwald or a big bad tech company? It’s a clever dance around the growing reality that “direct access” to servers was actually about secure FTP access, a process that’s commonplace on the internet and doesn’t allow full and direct access to anything other than files posted for download.

          Fogel wrote, “It looks like Greenwald and company simply misunderstood an NSA slide because they don’t have the technical background to know that ‘servers’ is a generic word and doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing as ‘the main servers on which a company’s customer-facing services run.’” I mean, Greenwald’s source is an IT expert who could’ve educated him on this mammoth chunk of the story. Why didn’t that happen, if only to add meat to Greenwald’s lede? Drum hypothesized that if could be that Snowden doesn’t know as much about it as he claims.

  • G8 summit could be tense

    [edited for clarification]

    Today, the Guardian published an exclusive on computer monitoring & phone call interceptions of foreign officials at two G20 summits in London in 2009. Here’s the link for anyone interested:

    Methinks our Prez & the Brits may have some extra explaining to do.

    Yes, this story is based on documents provided by whistleblower Snowden.

    • Any curiosity about how he

      Any curiosity about how he could have been shopping this story around months before he was employed at the company where he supposedly obtained them?

      Remember Reagan cutting a pre-election deal with the Iranians over the hostages during the Carter/Reagan campaign.

      I doubt that too many foreign officials will be surprised by this although they might publicly make a big noise. Don’t you read John Le Carre?

      • One last thought . . .

        One last thought . . . 2009?
        Really? He only worked at Booz for a few months in 2013, did he supposedly get this information at Booz Allen where his conscience finally “made him do it”? Seems to me that Mr. Snowden’s either been collecting information for some time or someone was feeding it to him. I still find it amusing that no one in conspiracy ridden Brattleboro seems suspicious of this gentleman or his motives.

        • Can only speak for myself but...

          my concern is primarily related to the 4th Amendment. As such, I continue to welcome the revelations and public discussion about the balance between privacy & security (and will continue to share related links & info that I think at least Paul will find useful 😉

          If you want to try to keep the focus on the motives of the messengers, go for it! Maybe even start a new story on that topic?

          • I think it's not practical to

            I think it’s not practical to have a debate about the 4th Amendment regarding this issue of surveillance without looking into the leakers motivations. I would feel less certain about this if Snowden’s background was more clear cut and his own background story that he’s putting out had less holes and leaks and more honesty.

            I think it’s important because the issue is surveillance of possible terrorist suspects and the government’s subsequent explanations now seem to be holding up better than last week. Even Jerry Nadler has moved away from his original position about Snowden and the whole issue. As more comes out about Snowden don’t we need to question why he did this?

            Was it truly whistle blowing or has the effort to track terrorist suspects in this manner been efficient and therefore it is useful to some to attempt to erode this manner of tracking people.

            Or, as some have suggested on this post, was this a political move by some to discredit Obama’s administration prior to the new election. Lord knows there are many in the Republican party who seem to think that winning takes priority over the national good.

            What’s with the discrepancy between when he went to work at Booz and when and how he obtained all this information? I think that’s very important to this conversation.

            I think it’s imperative to know what Snowden’s reasons really were, who he really is, whether he was handed the information or paid to put it out. We can all discuss and even agree that this manner of surveillance is something we don’t want but let’s be sure we also know why it was done. To ignore Snowden’s motivations or refuse to look at them when discussing the balance between privacy and security is not a good idea. Wouldn’t you need to know why and where this information came to light in order to know whether it is an issue of security and someone is attempting to make us less secure. Now there’s a conspiracy theory for you.
            One that might actually have some legs.

          • Are you as much a part of the problem as the problem itself?

            RB, whatever you have, you have it pretty bad.

            There seems to be a strong obstructionist thread in your own reasons for belaboring the character of the fellow releasing the information. Which may or may not be that useful.

            In this story of Chris G’s your thread almost amounts to diversionary clutter, and worst of you have clear hang-ups on so-called conspiracies, which do not evidence themselves to do much damage but indeed, can in fact, provide important alternative POV’s of important events around us.

            You have a sense, intended or not, of obstructing freedom of discourse via a constant theme of pushing real and important conspiracy ideas (valid or not), into a negative-only bubble.

            I can’t help thinking that you and many others like you are as much a part of the problem as the problem itself.

          • Vidda, I refuse to get into

            Vidda, I refuse to get into some sort of contest with you about the quality of my posts. You appear to have a history of pulling attention away from a topic by criticizing the poster in a highly personal manner. It’s not a game I’m interested in playing.

            I suspect this will probably be the basis of some of the governments argument if the ACLU case goes to court.

            The argument of “exigent circumstances”

            There are also “exigent circumstances” exceptions to the warrant requirement. Exigent circumstances arise when the law enforcement officers have reasonable grounds to believe that there is an immediate need to protect their lives, the lives of others, their property, or that of others, the search is not motivated by an intent to arrest and seize evidence, and there is some reasonable basis, to associate an emergency with the area or place to be searched.[71]

            Really this is all quite fascinating. You have new technology, a new type of “war” and all these questions regarding how we stay secure without infringing upon our assumptions of privacy. It’ll be an interesting year.

          • Rosa, you evidence troubling obstructionist tendencies

            Rosa, I’m afraid this is not a game. It is not about quality. Neither are my comments in a very “highly personal manner.”

            In my analysis and opinion, you evidence troubling obstructionist tendencies that I see a clear and a real danger to other people dealing with the released information.

            It’s not the “quality” of the whistleblower that should matter primarily, but whether or not the released information is accurate. Oddly your deflection me is kinda what you employ to challenge the messenger.

            While I think you are engaging (and sometimes snarky) and imbued with obvious depth on this topic, you nevertheless trouble me, and I’m not sure I’m the only one who feels that way, “Lord” only knows…

  • Q&A with whistleblower Snowden at Guardian - More from EW

    Snowden answered questions today at the Guardian website:

    Looks like he is paying close attention to the news.

    Marcy Wheeler, over at Emptywheel blog, can’t resist commenting on Clapper’s statement in reference to the Nadler exchange that got attention last week:

    Let’s just say that she isn’t impressed & parses Clapper’s statement accordingly.

  • Links to new leaks-stories re NSA surveillance

    Just so all the links are in one place, I’ll add The Guardian’s/Greenwald’s latest to this story:

    6/19 post discussing what actually is involved with Fisa court ‘oversight’ of NSA surveillance programs:

    6/20 post presenting actual NSA documents with the ‘rules that allow NSA to use US data without a warrant’:

    And while I’m here, I’ll post a link to a 6/19 HuffPo piece linking to new claims made by another NSA whistleblower, Russ Tice:

    I don’t know enough about Tice to comment on his credibility but if what he says is true, the blackmail potential of the data collection already is being realized in a significant way.

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