PRISM

All the Popehat authors are deeply busy with life right now and there's not much blogging, but I'm sure that I don't speak only for myself when I say "Edward Snowden, F____ yeah!"

Last 5 posts by Clark

Comments

  1. says

    True fact. While he may have made a tactical error in announcing it from Hong Kong, whence he may be extradited, by announcing it at all he's likely prevented himself from being black-bagged, which is a good strategic decision. We'll see how long it takes for the USDOJ to try and get him dragged back in cuffs. What's the Popehat Authors' Club over-under on that right now in days?

  2. says

    > What's the Popehat Authors' Club over-under on that right now in days?

    I have recently realized that all political science is nothing but folk sociology.

    Unfortunately, all sociology is also nothing but folk sociology.

    The upshot is that I've realized that there is a massive, massive gap in my ability to understand and model political processes, and I need to read about 500 books to even make a dent in it.

    …and life makes that hard.

    Thus, when I put on my less-wrong rationalist hat, I note that I am unable to model the system and thus would be foolish to make bets.

    (Note: I have done many foolish things in my life, so I reserve the right to make a bet further down in this comment thread).

    What's your bet?

  3. Maxcat says

    What I find very interesting about this: In every article I have read about this, that allow readers comments, there are a large number of people that indicate the belief that if he had not publicly stated who he was, the United States Intelligence Community would take some sort of “direct action” against him. I find this sort of thinking odd. Why take some obviously criminal action against someone who has already admitted (so he claims) committing criminal acts themselves, sufficient to put them in a federal prison for decades?

    Whether you think what he did was morally right or wrong, he is claiming to have committed very serious U.S. Federal level crimes. If he did do what he claims and he is ever brought back to the United States he will very likely be convicted and sent to prison for a very long time. Even if he didn’t announce himself, why do people think the United States Intelligence Community would take “direct action” against him, why not just perform an “extraordinary rendition” and return him for trial? If you’re thinking is that you believe the United States Government is so horrible and untrustworthy that they would start undertaking “revenge killings” or do something so as to “send a message” how does “outing” himself protect him? Over the years, around the world, how many defendants have “committed suicide” while behind bars? And what good does it do to “send a message” if no one hears it?

    Also, if the United States Government is that horrible and untrustworthy, why bother reading a blog that talks in any way, shape, or form about civil rights, the law, and the courts? Doesn’t it follow that all of these institutions would be just as untrustworthy and corrupt? After all, they are parts of the same Government you think would kill people for revenge. Maybe you should name this to “Tinfoilhat” instead of “Popehat”.

  4. says

    If you’re thinking is that you believe the United States Government is so horrible and untrustworthy that they would start undertaking “revenge killings”

    Do you have any reason to believe that it is not?

    or do something so as to “send a message” how does “outing” himself protect him?

    Human morality is largely an evolved primate bonding tool. It makes you loyal to "yours" and helps you demonize "the other".

    Charities are sophisticated users of A/B test methodology and know that people are hugely more likely to want to help THIS smiling Guatemalan girl named "Pilar" than they are to want to help "some girl".

    Americans desires, filtered through the political process, are apparently
    * it is UTTERLY legitimate to kill someone if I never know that he exists in the first place and a bureaucrat has decided that he needs to die
    * it is VERY legitimate to kill a foreigner that I know exists
    * it is SOMEWHAT legitimate to kill an American if he has a weird name and a Nobel Peace prize winner decides he should die
    * it is perhaps NOT legitimate to kill an American with a recognizably American name who I have watched and listened to on video.

    His strategy makes perfect sense to me.

  5. Jeremy says

    I don't want to live in a society that does these sort of things … I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under. — Edward Snowden speaking from China

    I'm still uncertain if The Onion is reality and I'm living the onion…

  6. Jarek says

    I'd like to believe that most people don't think the TV series 24 isn't an accurate representation of government and reality however…

    News and media dramatization and sensationalism has grown to such a point that paranoia is rife, and most people believe their government is out to get them.

    The cynic in me would say that this is fantastic planning by election strategists in order to showcase the "other side" as the good guys. I'm not defending what the governments have done, however we will never ever get the full story as no one is impartial these days.

    Finally, why would the government give a shit about you? I know most people think they're gods gift to the planet and that of course the government is spending millions in tracking exactly what they are doing but seriously? Most of us aren't worth the salary we receive each year.

    Unless you are doing something seriously wrong, unlikely that NSA will read anything that you do. Its all about patterns, and data, there aren't millions of people listening/reading through the billions of hours of phone calls and emails.

  7. gramps says

    This is the second time in recent memory that we have heard of sensitive information (by the holder's assessment anyway) being put in the hands of those who appear marginally qualified for such access. Bradley Manning, a PFC on his first enlistment, had access to information that was problematic when leaked, and he was given enough space to download it to personal storage and walk out the door with it.

    Now we are learning that Snowden is a newish employee of a contractor that is involved in the information gathering process for NSA. I expect that more about him will be forthcoming soon.

    My thoughts go to “who is minding the store?” Who is making the decisions that allow this apparently unfettered access to this kind of information to people who appear to many of us to be unqualified to hold the position. Especially then provide no adequate supervision of them.

    Maybe the wrong people are being dragged into courts.

  8. says

    @Jarek:

    Unless you are doing something seriously wrong, unlikely that NSA will read anything that you do.

    1) you base this on…what?

    2) what is your definition of "seriously wrong"?

    * Would "legally importing wood, but your competitor who donates to the ruling party" count?

    * Would "trying to register your political group as a charity" count?

    * Would "growing an herb that helps your mother with cancer keep her medicine down" count?

    * Would "working for civil liberties" count?

    * Would "exposing police abuse" count?

    * Would "getting a messy divorce that a political rival would really like to know about to help his run for state senate" count?

    Your belief in the morality of psycopaths is touching, but odd.

  9. That Anonymous Coward says

    When whistleblowers are expected to blow the whistle to those they wish to blow the whistle on… it gets complicated.

    And remember this totally makes it more likely the terrorist will win! We will live in terror of unknown things, and have less freedoms to be safe.

  10. Bren says

    The U.S. can request extradition from Hong Kong , but the Chinese gvt. may not allow it. The Chinese Government's self-interest is hard to calculate, and I think their are good arguments that they will and won't extradite.

    My hope is that he is offered asylum somewhere and gets on that plane safely.

  11. Nicholas Weaver says

    PRISM is scary-bad, but the Verizon phone record order is worse (and may be a different whistleblower).

    Assuming similar orders exist for all carriers (give the text of the order itself), this is a J. Edgar Hoover level blackmail box targeting every American, in a database small enough to fit on a single desktop computer.

    You could blackmail a target in every senatorial office (and many Senators themselves) using that information. And unlike PRISM, the Verizon order was specifically targeted to include known domestic to domestic communication and exclude all foreign to foreign communication.

    The Verizon order surprised me. I thought the NSA had a corporate culture of "we pillage the rest of the world, but domestic surveillance is out of bound" as a result of the Church report and other revelations of domestic spying from the 70s, and I thought even now that the "Foreigners only" was a prime directive.

    I was wrong.

  12. Gabriel says

    @gramps: Yes, one of the problems with the government amassing enormous privacy-destroying databases is access control. No, the answer to this problem is not better access control. If the tool exists it will be impossible to secure against abuse: the only way to avoid those abuses is not to have the tool.

  13. Paul E. "Marbux" Merrell says

    @ Nicholas: "Assuming similar orders exist for all carriers (give the text of the order itself) …"

    Sen. Diane Feinstein is the chair of the Senate intelligence oversight committee. She said that it was just the latest 3-month renewal of a 7-year-old program that includes all major telcos.

  14. machintelligence says

    I expect that more about him will be forthcoming soon.

    First impressions are critically important. By announcing exactly what he has done and why (and that he is proud of it and would do it again) he has blunted any attempt at character assassination. They were going to find him anyway, so it was probably a good move for that reason, among others.

  15. Nicholas Weaver says

    If Feinstein thinks its so innocuous, she should release her metadata.

    Oh wait, it would probably get her and her husband indited for insider trading and conflict of interest violations….

  16. says

    @Jarek

    Most of us aren't worth the salary we receive each year.

    You seem to have self-esteem issues. Have you tried Dianetics?

  17. says

    @Nicholas Weaver

    in a database small enough to fit on a single desktop computer.

    You seem to be confused about scale.

  18. says

    They won't bother dragging him back in cuffs. He's about to become an Orwellian "unperson."

    Use the phrase "maximum demotion" if you like. Or Nacht und Nebel. Same difference.

  19. says

    The citizens of this Country will vote for a reincarnated Caligula if he gave away better Obamaphones with "free" internet access. What would a man such as Caligula do with a vast information trove of everything about everyone? I doubt it would be a good thing. We are headed for trouble. I would say the chances of that database not ever being used for nefarious purposes is precisely 0%. I'll bet it has already been used many times for evil. The genie has no intention of ever getting back in the bottle, and he's looking for trouble.

  20. Nicholas Weaver says

    David: Oops, I slipped a digit or two, but its close to desktop level even without (much) cleverness:

    300M people, 10 records/day, and the records are small (most would be 32B, with 4 bytes each for time, duration, source #, and dest #, and 16B for call location). Even assuming 100B/record for other goodies this is just 300 GB/day. Compression could probably bring it down to 30 GB/day. With just a 4 TB array on my desk, that would be a couple of months. And a couple of months would be sufficient. You can always buy >15 TB desktop units now.

    This is hardly a "big data" problem these days. Midsized, perhaps, but certainly not big data.

    Add a prefilter for something like "all numbers of # political officials or other interesting targets, their connections, and their connections-of-connections to my desktop of "All senate #s and 3 hops from that", and it ceases to be even medium sized data and becomes small data…

  21. says

    ..it makes about as much sense to deny intelligence agencies access to information necessary to defend the nation because some of that information theoretically could be misused as it does to deny guns to police because they could be turned on the innocent.

    Michael Mukasey

  22. says

    @Nicholas

    It's a big data problem. Still. You're thinking it's not because you're focused only on the metatelephonic data.

    And "oopsie, two digits" amount to orders of magnitude.

    And "a couple of months would be sufficient"– sufficient for what? For some questions in some domains, the accumulated lore of (reportedly) 7+ years in multi-TB datastores isn't sufficient to generate an answer.

  23. James says

    You could blackmail a target in every senatorial office (and many Senators themselves) using that information. And unlike PRISM, the Verizon order was specifically targeted to include known domestic to domestic communication and exclude all foreign to foreign communication.

    Imagine the power available to a small group of people who know every phone call, email, or web search conducted by the 535 members of the Senate and Congress.

    Imagine if a nefarious holder of that information wanted to influence legislation; perhaps even legislation making such information-gathering legal.

    No one is completely innocent. Blackmail Influence a small number of influential legislators, and such a nefarious individual could shape US policy in an astonishing number of ways.

    Of course, our government would never fall prey to such a situation,, right?

  24. Nicholas Weaver says

    A few months of the telephone data is sufficient for the purpose of creating a big blackmail dossier on the US senate offices and pretty much all other groups you might want to target.

    And the telephone data is the most damaging because its both inward/domestic focus and its a data dump, not a query/response interface with at least a pretext of external targeting.

  25. Roger Strong says

    While the NSA has created the ability to build an instant dossier on any American, they'll only read it if you communicate with a foreign national.

    Such as in a forum like this one, where a foreign national like myself happens to post.

    You're welcome.

    (I was going to suggest that the rest of the world set up "Email a Random American Day." But of course everyone who has ever received spam from China or Nigeria counts as having communicated with foreign nationals.)

  26. says

    What's possibly worse than merely collecting these data is the possibility that somebody might introduce phoney data into the database, in such a way to make it look like it had been collected, with the intent to blackmail somebody else by having a search reveal an alarming pattern of communication.

  27. Palimpsest says

    Metadata may include what cell phone tower you are near so there's an audit trail of your location.

    And it makes as much sense to deny security agencies access to this data as it would be to deny the police to enter your house without a search warrant or not allow them to put you in their DNA record if you are stopped for being suspicious.

    And reading Popehat probably counts as suspicious given the anti-social sorts who keep citing the Bill of Rights here.

  28. En Passant says

    Nicholas Weaver wrote Jun 10, 2013 @8:40 am:

    Oh, and the US government records a copy of the outside of every letter or package mailed.

    Ah yes. But there actually is a means to thwart traffic analysis based on this particular data collection exercise: a loose network of anonymous remailers.

    Oh wait, that's already been done for email.

    There are some practical issues for postal mail, not least of which is how to fund the postage. But these are not insurmountable.

    Of course, postal remailers would depend on the government abiding by its own laws forbidding it to open the outer envelope and read the contents. But the scandal from exposing such a government practice would make the current one pale in comparison.

  29. CM says

    I wouldn't normally post, but I haven't seen any indignation in the media about how corporations have access to all this information, but the minute someone points out the government is watching everyone flips out. How is one worse than the other? What will it take to get legal protection from both public and private sectors butting into your personal business? I am genuinely curious. I hope Mr. Snowden is safe, but I also hope that everyone gets their priorities back in line.

  30. Joel says

    @Jarek and anyone else saying "this isn't a big deal". The problem isn't whether or not anyone is listening to your conversations right now. The problem is that they have this information and the means to get more if they want it. If the right people decide at some point that you DO merit suspicion, they can go back and obtain post hoc "evidence" to nab you. We all need to worry now that some innocuous off-hand comment we made years ago and summarily forgot about could now come back to bite us in the ass when we no longer have context to defend it. Whenever your privacy is in jeopardy, you should not try to justify it or rationalize why it doesn't affect you–if you don't defend your right to privacy, that's how you lose your right to privacy.

  31. says

    @CM, are you referring to the corporations who collected the data in the first place – the one's providing the services that rely on that data? or are you just asking about corporations collecting data in general?

    I'll leave it to those more practiced at decrying government intrusion than I to supply details but suffice it to say (suffices for me, anyway) that, with respect to this sort of data-collection, there's an enormous difference between private corporations and the US government. You could easily argue that both have similar potential to use the data to wreak havoc on your life but one has the backing of a military force.

    I'm curious why you're concerned whether the 'media' expresses indignation? Do you mean in opinion columns? Have you witnessed media indignation over PRISM outside of editorial pages?

  32. Keith says

    As our president said the other day:
    “If people can’t trust not only the executive branch, but also don’t trust Congress and don’t trust federal judges to make sure we’re abiding by the Constitution, due process, and rule of law, then we’re going to have some problems here.”

    I believe the technical term for this understatement is "legitimation crisis."

  33. MarkH says

    I think it is funny. Corporations collect the private data and share it with the government. But they go to great lengths to protect their own privacy for their IP.

    If people give up their privacy to all communications, and "corporations are people too!", then how about we just say that everything is public and there are no protections regarding corporate strategies, intellectual properties, and internal communications.

    And, maybe the government should also follow the same path.

    After all, why is that only the people need to give up their privacy and not the corporations and government?

    Let's all be in this together, or not at all. The NSA can't say privacy of it's internal working are important that they require top secret status, when what is being consumed is our privacy. It doesn't make sense to me that they can say they can monitor all communications, but nobody can talk about that since monitoring of the communications is private. It's all our stuff … so if it isn't private, then neither is disclosure of its collection.

  34. Allen says

    Welcome to the Gulag; where the agents of the State have no fear of reprisal.

    On the Mukasey op/ed., I paraphrase: very few people have access to the info and they can be trusted with it. You mean, like this Snowden fellow? Really, you still trust him?

  35. different Jess says

    When Google deploys roboticdeathterrordrones and starts running a US Attorney's office, I'll worry more about Google reading my email. As it stands, they don't seem to mind when I access hushmail through Tor to obtain the modicum of privacy that provides. That is, Google doesn't seem jealous in the way that the USA government is.

  36. different Jess says

    Really, was the Mukasey thing offered as some kind of supporting evidence? I guess I thought it was just for the lulz. As if anyone valued Judge Torture's opinion.

  37. Bob Brown says

    @CM I can ignore Google, eschew Facebook, and disregard Twitter. I can avoid PayPal, and make few or no purchases by credit card. Those firms may still be able to collect a little data about me, but it'll be fragmentary. The NSA has not given me that choice.

  38. AlphaCentauri says

    @MarkH: My feeling exactly. It's my data, and I should be able to get information about what is being collected and in what way. If my doctor needs a privacy policy about collecting my data, so does my government, of which I am theoretically one of the employers. Therefore, I choose to be informed of what data is being collected about me and how. Mr. Snowden has fulfilled that request, like a conscientious public employee.

    The data being collected by private companies is massive. It requires a lot of effort to avoid providing private information.

    For instance, even if I never want anything to do with a social media website, the fact that my contacts are idiots about uploading their cell phone directories in order to let them sent me those automated invitations over and over means they are sharing my email address, home/work/cell phone, home address, employer, etc.

    I can pay for things with cash, but when the ATM spits out those crisp new bills while taking my photo, are they in numerical order?

    And the privacy policies of companies like Google or WordPress that magically provide all these free services are at least suspect. As with Google+, then can change their privacy policies whenever they feel they have enough of your data to make it seriously inconvenient to discontinue their service. At the very least, none of it is any more secure than any Google employee with access who could be "flipped" in order to provide information to interested government or criminal organizations.

    I think that personal privacy is not coming back. The only solution is to eliminate the right of those collecting our data to do so in privacy.

  39. Christopher Jones says

    @CM The difference is that Google, Facebook, and Verizon can't arrest me if the data is incorrect or simply interpreted incorrectly. The government is perfectly capable of throwing me in jail and claiming "state secrets" when asked what evidence they have.

  40. Conster says

    I wish I could say "F____ yeah!", but when someone ruins their own future in order to expose a great wrong, I can't be happy. Grateful, yes, but not happy.

  41. LauraW says

    @AlphaCentauri

    At the very least, none of it is any more secure than any Google employee with access who could be "flipped" in order to provide information to interested government or criminal organizations.

    That's not quite as scary as it sounds. Very few Google employees have that kind of access. I'm a fairly senior engineer there, and there's no way I could access your email, g+ account, etc. I would get fired and probably prosecuted if I even tried to do so. And I'm confident someone would notice me trying.

    Of course, you have no reason to believe that. I could be part of the conspiracy. :-)

    Aside: Five or six years ago my doctor moved to New Zealand because she thought the US was getting too oppressive. I thought she was crazy. Now I think she was psychic.

  42. Rich H. says

    If anyone hears of a legitimate legal defense fund or logistical support fund being established for Mr Snowden, please share the info with all of us.

  43. Rob says

    CM • Jun 10, 2013 @11:02 am

    I wouldn't normally post, but I haven't seen any indignation in the media about how corporations have access to all this information, but the minute someone points out the government is watching everyone flips out. How is one worse than the other? What will it take to get legal protection from both public and private sectors butting into your personal business? I am genuinely curious. I hope Mr. Snowden is safe, but I also hope that everyone gets their priorities back in line.

    A corporation can't kick down my door, shoot my dog, destroy my possessions and throw me in jail (provided they don't decide that I was making a "furtive movement" and shoot me too).

    A corporation only has access to information I give it; I can refuse to do business with them, and refuse to give them access to any information. I can't refuse the government.

  44. Allen says

    That may be true LauraW, but the NSA just went to your management and asked nicely for the same thing.

    Really, you can't implement Total Information Awareness without breaking a few eggs. No one really thought that died when Congress zeroed the funding to DARPA for it did they?

  45. Trent says

    Restrictions on NSA access to domestic information were terminated with the Patriot Act. Additional restrictions that prohibited data sharing between NSA/FBI/CIA/Military were also removed.

    The Utah data center has been nationally known for a year or two now. Yet it was sited and designed during the Bush administration with all the major infrastructure improvements needed conducted in 2008 a few months after Obama took office (design of such items would be at least 1 year in advance, and given the scope of the improvements was at least 2 years in advance). The Utah data center has been rumored to have several hundred ZetaBytes of storage capacity, the facility uses more electricity than the entire Salt Lake Valley and required the construction of new power lines and hooking in an entire new power plant to the grid.

    With the level of storage and power use the Utah NSA facility it is rumored to have the capacity to directly store every electronic communication made world wide. This includes digital copies of telephone, text, email, video calls, internet posts, etc. All these revelations have done is cement those rumors. The amount of data the NSA is collecting and the applications that have developed IMO cement the idea that they are collecting, as noted, a J. Edgar Hoover wet dream of data collection. Everyone in America including Congress should be terrified by this. In reality Congress is defending it.

  46. Shay says

    A man who is so concerned about freedom of speech and civil rights that he has fled to….

    Communist China.

  47. Some Anonymous Brit says

    Most comments here support leaking this information. I am mystified why. There's nothing new here.

    I remember when I was a child, back in the 1970s before the internet, that I was treated to a trip around telephone exchange. There I was informed (proudly) that any telephone line could be tapped and they had records of every phone made thanks to their brand new computer system.

    I don't care if any 3-letter agencies know what phone numbers I call or call me, or how often they call or how long we talk. If that information helps anyone, they are welcome to it.

    I'm more concerned that Snowden chose to run to Honk Hong, a Special Administrative Region of China. HK has a high degree of autonomy from China except in the areas of defense and foreign relations. HK does have an extradition treaty with the US, but it can be overridden by China if they feel that's appropriate.

    My concern is that some Chinese operative might just grab this guy to see what else he can tell them about US secrets (he claims to know a great deal) and then blame the USA for his disappearance.

  48. That Anonymous Coward says

    @Jim Tyre – Pretenda and Nasrine (sp) both called EFF terrorist organizations aligned with Anonymous afterall.

    @Shay – So then he'll feel right at home?

    @riesling – and yet he is calling for a class action lawsuit instead of proposing a bill to cut the funding until this gets cleared up. I sure thought he was a member of Congress who could propose bills and things…. Congressional Oversight? Oath to protect the Constitution, which is currently being shredded and his best answer is potshots to make sure the right people get blamed, not to try and end the program.
    The will ignore the pardon petition using the same tactic they used to avoid investigate Chris Dodd one. It asks for something legal to happen and they can't do that.

    It might be time to impress upon people that a facebook like, petition signature, or something else online isn't enough. You have Congress critters, start calling and sending actual letters demanding they take action NOW to stop this, then they can waste time assigning blame later.

  49. TerryTowels says

    What "Trent • Jun 10, 2013 @5:14 pm" said.

    Back at the beginning, I got excited *in a negative way* about the Patriot Act, knowing then that the future of freedom in the US was gone. The current news just confirmed that thought. And today a poll was released that shows that 2/3 of the country thinks it's ok to collect all that data for "self-safety". Bah.

    I suggest that those of you who are young enough move to another country, take your families and do so– you'll have to do the research to find a safe spot.

    I'm not a crazy alarmist (I don't think I am anyway), I've just been following privacy issues since the early 70's. It was then I realized that we've no constitutional right to privacy. As I remember, I was really shocked to read a SCOTUS ruling that once one's information was public, there was no privacy. Sooo— if you can, emigrate.

  50. Jim Tyre says

    @TAC,

    @Jim Tyre – Pretenda and Nasrine (sp) both called EFF terrorist organizations aligned with Anonymous afterall.

    But of course, I was waiting for someone who follows Prenda – which you surely do – to pick up the connection.

    Though, there is the fact that we (EFF) have been litigating illegal NSA domestic spying program lawsuits since, um, 2006. And some have said we're terrorists for that.

  51. TerryTowels says

    Re "why hong kong". My guess is that the current cyber war between China and the US has something to do with it. Politically, it's kind of a stalemate for the US to demand, and China to comply with extradition. As for black-bagging, China and the US would both be complicit in any disappearance.

    I think the guy's dead, but what a hero.

  52. NI says

    The practical problem is that most Americans support this kind of government snooping; they're convinced that it's necessary to fight terrorism, and that it will never harm them. In a sane, rational society, such as the one the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights were written for, the public would rise up and demand an end to this yesterday. But, that's not the nation we live in any more; the sheep are just fine with it. We really do get the government we deserve.

  53. AlphaCentauri says

    I was wondering if he chose it because he happens to speak Cantonese. If you're going to spend the rest of your life somewhere, it might as well be a place where you have some knowledge of the language.

  54. C. S. P. Schofield says

    I have to say that I would hope that the nitwits in Washington were at the very least aware of the adage that in a relatively free country, no dead body is LESS embarrassing than a live whistleblower. Unfortunately there is far too much evidence that people in Washington get their ideas about history, politics, and reality in general from Hollywood. And it seems to me that 90%+ of Hollywood political thrillers depend on the idea that killing someone to shut him up WON'T attract more negative attention than leaving him alone.

  55. Allen says

    Sure it's no big deal if the TIA program is functional. After all we need to combat terrorism.

    The FBI needs to identify potential serial killers.
    The SEC needs to identify potential investment fraudsters.
    The IRS needs to identify potential tax evaders.
    The DEA needs to identify potential drug dealers.
    The ATF needs to identify potential illegal firearm buyers and sellers.
    The USFS needs to identify who might be cutting firewood without a permit.

    They're criminals damn it.

    The CDC needs to identify people who might be carrying diseases.
    The HHS needs to identify who is buying their prescriptions in Mexico or Canada.

    For the good of the people.

  56. Jim Tyre says

    But, apparently, NSA does not need your shit.

    There are a lot of false stories circulating about just what the National Security Agency is and is not seeking from the American public. I’m here to set the record straight. I can assure you, in no uncertain terms, that the NSA is not asking for samples of your fecal matter.

    […]

    So for those of you who, in the wake of recent news stories, have been mailing your fecal samples to the NSA, I want to assure you that this is not necessary. If we need your shit, the NSA has no problem inserting itself directly up your ass.

  57. efemmeral says

    @Jerek

    ". . . there aren't millions of people listening/reading through the billions of hours of phone calls and emails."

    Silly Jerek, you've forotten that humans are unnecessary for listening to the phone calls. You must not use Google Voice.

  58. That Anonymous Coward says

    @Jim Tyre – Its hard to follow what your stuck in the middle of.
    I am Nazrines(sp) worst nightmare…
    I have the word Anonymous in my nym.
    I have a trendy avatar.
    I'm gay.
    His pay masters really want to know who I am. (3 lawsuits, srsly?)
    I mean really, who in their right mind wants to put ME in front of a Judge to talk about Copyright trolls and their antics?
    On the plus side it warms the dark cockles of my black heart to know that I have them so butthurt.

    I'm hoping that PRISM is finally enough to break past the, but I'm a good people ™ and they won't use it against good people ™ psychosis that has gripped the country.

    They are protecting our freedoms, by removing the freedoms… they're doing it wrong.

  59. Jim Tyre says

    @TAC,

    Sorry if you took it as as something against you, definitely not intended that. Just riffing on what you wrote and adding a bit of McSweeneys humor

  60. Myk says

    @LauraW Your doctor moved to NZ because of Government overreach? Has she noticed how cravenly the NZ Government leaps to impress and please its American masters lately? SWAT-style raids on Kim Dotcom and his pregnant wife for example?

  61. Myk says

    …and by the way; given the defense mounted by the 2nd Amendment crowd that they need their guns in case Government goes too far and they need to fight back…. where exactly is the line drawn? Mars?

  62. Rob says

    …and by the way; given the defense mounted by the 2nd Amendment crowd that they need their guns in case Government goes too far and they need to fight back…. where exactly is the line drawn? Mars?

    Kicking off a revolution is no small thing. It's generally wise to make absolutely certain you cannot accomplish your goals in any other way, especially given the tendency of most revolutions to go sour.

    Perhaps if you had thought about this a little bit, instead of being flippantly dismissive of 2nd amendment activists, you'd realize that.

  63. Clownius says

    The only reason Second amendment activists will revolt is to defend the second amendment.

    First amendment is fair game for example as long as they stop the speech of evil terrorists like the EFF and not freedom fighters like the KKK and NRA.

    In fact something similar can be said about the entire Constitution. As long as you go after bad people (anyone they dont agree with) most of the time its fine.

    As for the Comment of a lack of Freedom in NZ. yes the Government was almost as corrupted as the US Government but their courts seem to have another whole idea on the thing. What is it April now before they think the extradition case will be heard?

    Since the initial Raid a much bigger stink has been raised and a lot more setbacks have come the Governments way in the NZ court than happen in the USA with your blessed constitution to defend your rights. The courts and government wipe their ass with that piece of paper.

    Oh and this is coming from an Australian who usually likes to pick on and laugh at Kiwi's. On this one though their courts appear to be standing strong. Not anywhere near as corrupt as the US variety.

  64. Luke G says

    Sure, Clownius, that's right, everyone who supports a robust second amendment is a card-carrying NRA member AND a sheet-wearing Klansman who has a caveman-level mistrust of the EFF and tech issues in general. Yup. No nerdy gun lovers, no civil libertarians in the bunch, it's all slack-jawed racist hillbillies.

  65. NI says

    Question: Is there a principled way to distinguish Snowden from Bradley Manning? Or do the two of them come as a package deal?

  66. Nicholas Weaver says

    NI: Yes there is. Snowden reviewed every document he released to the press, with the understanding that the press would also review it (thus the 'only 5 slides' released out of a 41 slide PPT presentation). He specifically wanted to reveal information that the public needs to know.

    Manning was a bit less discriminate: He just dumped a huge amount of data. Some of it was clearly stuff the public needed to know, such as the war crimes we've committed in Iraq. Other data may actually have caused harm to those who have worked with the US.

    Although Manning was also somewhat discriminate too: the bulk release was only "Secret", when he undoubtedly had access to TS material.

  67. naught_for_naught says

    Oh and this is coming from an Australian who usually likes to pick on and laugh at Kiwi's.

    I'm not sure that you need to look anywhere other than your own backyard, Dorothy.

    We were in Melbourne last summer, and among the stories in the local press was a piece about a recent police action that had caused the public to question their methods. Like something right out of Reno 911, the local police took novel approach to resolving a high-speed pursuit along one of their highways.

    Here's how they handled it.

    Knowing that the driver was headed toward a specific choke point, the police commandeered all of the other motorists and their vehicles to form a human blockade, into which they subsequently ran the fleeing driver. That's right, women, children, the elderly, anyone who just happened to be on the road at the time, was forced to stop their car, remain inside while the police to rammed their fleeing suspect into them at high speed.

    What was most amazing about the story was the way that the Aussie press talked about it as if this were some kind of a "teachable moment" — like it wasn't so obviously moronic that anyone scoring a 3 on the Glasgow Coma Scale wouldn't know that YOU DON'T RAM FLEEING CRIMINALS INTO TAX PAYERS.

    I'm no fan of the current NSA program, but I'd rather have the government reading my email than forcing me into service as a human k-rail.

  68. says

    We spend our lives letting the government and the media make fearful people afraid. We let those fearful people set the political agenda to "protect me from the things you used to make me afraid". Then we have the gal to act surprised when those in power respond to that demand the only way that makes sense, that being histrionic shows of force and extra legal secret activity.

    Remember that "popularity contest" is the name we give to any social process that has devolved beyond reason into bulk pandering; but despair ye who think, for that it is the basis of our system of government.

    Until and unless we make actual leadership "popular" and fear the butt of ridicule this is the path we elected.

  69. TerryTowels says

    @Robert White. I had to laugh. In high school, a poli sci teacher asked me why I didn't get involved in high school elections (I was fairly vocal about politics). I said (scornfully) that it was just a popularity contest. He said, well, that's what politics is about.

  70. Clownius says

    We were in Melbourne last summer, and among the stories in the local press was a piece about a recent police action that had caused the public to question their methods. Like something right out of Reno 911, the local police took novel approach to resolving a high-speed pursuit along one of their highways.

    Your talking about Victoria Police

    BANG!! BANG!! BANG!! STOP! Victoria Police

    I must say its a very novel approach to Law enforcement to say the least. More High speed chases get broken off then ever these days because things like the PIT maneuver are considered completely off limits and any time someone crashes into an innocent during a high speed chase the media goes all out blaming the Police.

    Not being in VIC i must have missed that one. But it certain qualifies as a scum level tactic and not the norm. I hope someone went to jail for it.

    Sure, Clownius, that's right, everyone who supports a robust second amendment is a card-carrying NRA member AND a sheet-wearing Klansman who has a caveman-level mistrust of the EFF and tech issues in general. Yup. No nerdy gun lovers, no civil libertarians in the bunch, it's all slack-jawed racist hillbillies.

    Ok i may have exaggerated a touch on the KKK thing. Thats generally only in the posting history of about three quarters of people who defend Second Amendment rabidly online. Defending anything and everything the NRA says covers about 95% though. Considering the EFF etc lefty terrorists may 80%.

    Unfortunately the really vocal ones make supporters of the second Amendment look really bad online.

  71. Jesse from Tulsa says

    I'm always afraid no one is listening to me and I was certain no one ever reads my Facebook posts… glad to know Uncle Sam cares enough to pay attention to me!

  72. princessartemis says

    @Clownius, the vocal online supporters of the virtues of breathing make the rest of us respirators look bad. That's pretty much a truism of the Internet and comment threads found thereupon.

  73. Rob says

    Ok i may have exaggerated a touch on the KKK thing. Thats generally only in the posting history of about three quarters of people who defend Second Amendment rabidly online. Defending anything and everything the NRA says covers about 95% though. Considering the EFF etc lefty terrorists may 80%.

    You basically have no clue what you're talking about, and you're living up to your name.

    The vast majority of 2nd Amendment activists are not KKK members, racists, or slackjawed yokels. All of the ones that I've talked to and hang around with agree with the EFF most of the time, even if they don't know what the EFF is. In general, they tend to be civil libertarians pretty much across the board.

    Funny thing about calling 2nd Amendment activists KKK members is that it was the KKK that pushed for the vast majority of gun control early on. They didn't want former slaves being capable of shooting them when they attempted assaults and lynchings. Many prominent black civil rights leaders were pro-2nd amendment and armed themselves to resist the KKK and other racists.

    You can still see the legacies of these anti-gun Jim Crow laws in the South, where in some states buying a pistol requires a permission slip from a sheriff. It was the original "may issue" system, and basically translated into "you may have a gun if you're a WASP". And that's the model that a large number of anti-gunners continue to push for.

  74. mcinsand says

    To the crew that manages the webpage, Rob indirectly nudged me to ask about the possibility of a 'preview' option. I have wished for one a few times, especially after munging a link posting, and the lack of a preview is the main reason I avoid experimenting with the other formatting choices.

    Regards,
    mc

  75. says

    @Clownius

    The only reason Second amendment activists will revolt is to defend the second amendment.

    First amendment is fair game for example as long as they stop the speech of evil terrorists like the EFF

    Speaking as someone who is a member of both the NRA and the EFF: shut up, idiot.

  76. says

    @Jon:

    I would be interested in Clark/Patrick/Ken's angles on this. I have found this fascinating. Seems like yet another indicator of too-big-to-change. http://www.powerfulignorance.com/too_big_to_fail/

    Quoting this bit:

    I suggest this wiretapping leak exposes an analogous situation as a bank being “too-big-to-fail.” In the case of the U.S. government we have a situation more aptly labeled “too-big-to-change.” Obama ran on change. Hope and change. Change you can believe in. When he went into the to-big-to-change institution—the United States Government—he ran into a wall. The Government was too-big-to-change, so Obama did.

    There's a huge unexamined assumption there: that Obama wanted to change anything. I see no evidence of that.

    What outcry can you have, Citizen? If the government is too-big-to-change and was able to bring “hope and change you can believe in” to his knees, what hope do you have?

    What hope do I have?

    Comet impact.

  77. Myk says

    @Rob: I agree absolutely – it is indeed no small thing to start a revolution. My point – ill-made as per usual – was that the 2a Adherent seem to be using "because ..the Government" as the basis for their need to keep assault weapons etc, yet given the recent actions of the Government – via IRS, Verizon, PRISM etc – I am wondering what the standard for ANY reaction, not necessarily armed warfare, is.

    @Clownius: I agree with Rob; the majority of 2a Adherents are 'normal' people, and the position of outliers such as the Klan is that they want exclusive rights to bear arms, which the 2a does not provide. Alleging gun fans are racists, bigots, hillbillies or any other variation on the subhuman theme is not helpful; I prefer to point out the inconsistencies in their preferred rationale and ask "if not now, when?" as their liberties, privacy and freedom are eroded – the analogy of frogs in a boiling pot comes to mind.

    Being a New Zealander, I am well accustomed to hunting and hunters; any of whom will tell you that assault weapons and large-calibre weapons are of no use for hunting.

  78. That Anonymous Coward says

    @Jim Tyre – *blank look* Was not an insult or slam and had not taken your statement that way.

    When your in the middle of it, its hard to follow it.
    (ie: I am in the middle of the parade, its impossible for me to follow it as following implies I am behind the parade following their route.)

    While I'm not actively watching every move EFF, Booth Sweet, and Ms. Russell make, I know whats happening. SJD and DTD know how to reach me if I really need to know something quickly.

    Trust me had I taken it poorly you'd have known almost immediately, I tend to take no prisoners in my speech. (Maybe this explains the lawsuits. You make comparisons to Nigerian Scammers and they get so mad, in my defense I did say they were a half step up (or was it down).)

    And to tie this back to PRISM, I wonder how much of the Government expansion is because they are in the middle and can't see the larger picture. The public wants the terrorists stopped, the snakeoil salesmen say we can do that… just give us cash and power, and it keeps growing. Well we didn't catch them because we can't do enough, we need a bit more power.

    Take a look at the **AA patterns. Years and years of build up and costing them more for little returns. Hell WB has now taken a page from a well known copyright troll of sending a DMCA notice with a go here to settle this or else… and then suddenly they want more cash if you tried to pay.
    http://torrentfreak.com/warner-bros-were-fining-file-sharers-who-use-non-six-strike-isps-130607/

    Because corporate law only needs accusations: not evidence, due process, rule of law.

    Millions upon millions of dollars spent getting laws and chasing imaginary lost dollars (while shafting those with cash in hand who want to buy)… and the program has to keep going because the next million will make it work right this time.

    We don't live in a zero sum world, but our politicians are all zero sum based now. If we don't do this horrible things will happen, so we have to keep doing it and expanding it to keep the horrible away.

  79. riesling says

    https://optin.stopwatching.us/

    Stop Watching Us.

    The revelations about the National Security Agency's surveillance apparatus, if true, represent a stunning abuse of our basic rights. We demand the U.S. Congress reveal the full extent of the NSA's spying programs.

    Read the full letter to US Congress

  80. Rob says

    My point – ill-made as per usual – was that the 2a Adherent seem to be using "because ..the Government" as the basis for their need to keep assault weapons etc, yet given the recent actions of the Government – via IRS, Verizon, PRISM etc – I am wondering what the standard for ANY reaction, not necessarily armed warfare, is.

    The problem is, when you use the context of the 2nd Amendment, you're basically talking armed warfare. That's what its there for. It's a last resort "break glass in case of emergency" option, and quite frankly NSA snooping doesn't really come close to rising to that sort of response. It sucks and is absolutely horrible, but it's not really worth the thousands or millions that would be killed in an armed uprising, especially while we still have more-or-less free elections and hence can still work through the electoral process.

    There's a concept called "The Four Boxes of Liberty: Soap box, Ballot Box, Jury Box, Cartridge Box." They are to be used in that order. In other words, only when free speech, free elections, and jury trials are no longer workable means of preserving freedom is the cartridge box (an armed uprising) to be used. And we still have those things here.

    Things that I can see triggering an armed insurrection would be the shutting down of free elections, the mass imprisonment of dissidents, the complete destruction of due process and/or the confiscation of personal arms. I don't really see it happening for anything less.

  81. riesling says

    @Nicholas Weaver – you have it almost completely wrong. Snowden and Manning are in fact fully equivalent situations. Both are heroes.

    Snowden did not release only a few documents. Glenn Greenwald of the Guardian has many, MANY more Snowden documents and he is going to be dropping bombshell report after bombshell report for months:

    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-202_162-57588661/journalist-who-wrote-of-nsa-spying-more-stories-to-come/

    Manning did carefully select documents based on the dual goals of avoiding harm and telling the public what it needed to know. And like Snowden, Manning further relied upon journalists to avoid releasing any harmful details they might find. But in the Manning case, a serious error on the part of a JOURNALIST resulted in the accidental Internet release of the master password to the raw Manning document database. That is how the risky details (people's names, etc.) got published, despite Manning's intention that nothing of the sort should ever happen.

    Glenn Greenwald himself explains here that journalist error was responsible for the accidental release of the unredacted Manning documents: http://www.salon.com/2011/09/02/wikileaks_28/

  82. LauraW says

    @AlphaCentauri:
    That may be true LauraW, but the NSA just went to your management and asked nicely for the same thing.

    As in, *cough* NSL *cough*? I honestly have no idea how much that happens, aside from what they're is allowed to talk about in the periodic "transparency report". There was a new on that yesterday or today, asking the government to let companies say more about how many NSLs they've gotten.

    That whole issue of not being allowed to talk about what the government demands is appalling from a 1st amendment perspective. (And a 4th amendment perspective, and ….) I think I remember reading about a recent court case where that gag restriction got thrown out, but I can't remember if it was a district court, the 9th Circuit, or what. What do the lawyers here think is going to happen in that case?

    @Alistair Young
    Your Doctor was probably better off moving here (New Zealand) for the nice weather and life style. Our current ruling party will do anything, (and I mean anything) to please their US overlords.

    Yeah, this was before the whole Kim Dotcom fiasco happened. I wonder if her choice would have been different if she'd made it a few years later. Unfortunately (for me) she's dropped off the face of the earth, so I'm guessing she's happy in sheep country.

    @Everyone

    Thought experiment: If you were in Snowden's shoes, which country would you have picked? I'm puzzled by why he didn't go straight to Iceland and do his leaking from there, since he says he's interested in asylum there. Or maybe Switzerland, though it's been rolling over for the IRS lately. Hong Kong is… puzzling. At first I was thinking "Well, he's in the intelligence community, so maybe he knows something about Hong Kong that that choice less crazy than it seems." But I dunno.

  83. That Anonymous Coward says

    @LauraW – Reports have said he speaks Cantonese.
    It also was most likely an easy flight destination given his starting point.

    If he had concerns he had been detected, a flight to Iceland would have raised lots of red flags. Not knowing his history he might have previously visited Hong Kong, so it would not look out of the ordinary.

  84. riesling says

    @Nicholas Weaver – Manning did carefully select documents based on the dual goals of avoiding harm and telling the public what it needed to know. And like Snowden, Manning further relied upon journalists to avoid releasing any harmful details they might find. But in the Manning case, a serious error on the part of a JOURNALIST resulted in the accidental Internet release of the master password to the raw Manning document database. That is how the risky details (people's names, etc.) got published, despite Manning's intention that nothing of the sort should ever happen.

    Glenn Greenwald himself explains here that journalist error was responsible for the accidental release of the unredacted Manning documents: http://www.salon.com/2011/09/02/wikileaks_28/

  85. Gam says

    @LauraW There are not many places that both might refuse to extradite and are relatively safe from kidnapping. Iceland I think fails on the second count. HK/China stands a reasonable chance for both, though the government decision on extradition will be based on what they want, not what he wants. Russia, maybe better against extradition (as they might like to poke the US in the eye with a stick just to make a point). N. Korea, but that's a horrible choice. Iran, but that's not a great choice either. Personally, there's no place I'd want to live (even leaving aside language issues) where I'd feel safe.

  86. Castaigne says

    What I do not understand about all the hoopla and uproar about PRISM is that people ASKED for this to be done. Back in the day, the majority of the populace was all about the Patriot Act; now that the law has borne the fruit it was intended to grow, they complain of the taste? Bull. You Get What You Pay For.

    But even more than that, 99.99% of the American populace demanded what made it possible: modern Internet technology. If the technology exists, it WILL be used in this manner and there is nothing you can do about it. Ban the government from having it? Fine, then it will be OmniCorp with their Mobile Security Forces who have it and wield it with impunity. Ban the corps from having it? Assuming that can be enforced – enforcing things against a Global 500, ha! – then it will be the People's Front for Ultimate Patriotism or whatever that's doing it.

    So you have a choice – forbid the technology entirely and destroy it utterly, or deal with it. And we'll never get rid of the technology that allows this, so we just need to learn to deal with it.

    Let's face it: this type of surveillance is the natural evolution of a technological industrialized civilization. We need to learn to evolve with it, not try to suppress it (which means suppressing the aforementioned technological industrialized civilization).

  87. andrews says

    Also, if the United States Government is that horrible and untrustworthy, why bother reading a blog that talks in any way, shape, or form about civil rights, the law, and the courts

    I think we can explain this fairly simply: "For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved." John 3:20 (KJV).

    Yes, it's an old explanation, but it still works. People will tend to behave better if they think someone is watching. That's why we have the Sunshine Law and Public Records law in Florida, and to some extent why there is a federal FOIA.

    The government, including the parts denoted CIA, NSA, and FBI, all tend to act better when they think people are watching.

  88. says

    @Myk:

    I prefer to point out the inconsistencies in their preferred rationale and ask "if not now, when?" as their liberties, privacy and freedom are eroded – the analogy of frogs in a boiling pot comes to mind.

    It does a frog no good to start a revolution if he does not have a chance of winning. It certainly does his family, friends, and innocent bystanders no good.

    Speaking as one who has many friends who care deeply about civil liberties, I can say that LOTS of people are saying things like "The time for shooting is no longer 'near'…it's here. Now. But is anyone else going to shoot? I'll shoot if they will, but if I pull the trigger first, then I'm just a 'lone terrorist'".

    The powder keg is in a really really dangerous situation. And by that I don't mean merely "those dad-gum feds better watch themselves!"

    I meant "shit can get real bad, real fast, in a way that results in thousands of people dead and no improvement in our civil liberties".

    I pray that something good happens, but I've never been more worried.

  89. StephenH says

    @riesling: Until we see what other "bombshells" are released by the press, we can't know what other information Snowden has leaked. So far, though, Snowden's leak is vastly better culled to prevent collateral damage. Manning should have been equally cautious, but it appears he was not.

    I am strongly hesitant to equate Snowden and Manning. Even if they acted in the same spirit, Manning appears to have been much more reckless in the scope of his leak. 251,287 documents is a veritable ocean of data. It suggests, to me, that if Manning had access and opportunity to leak any more data, regardless of its contents, he would have. While we know the documents Snowden leaked are classed as more sensitive, we don't know the number of documents or their full contents, yet, if ever. At the very least, it is premature to equate the two cases.

  90. says

    @naught_for_naught

    Shoot who?

    Ken charges by the hour, and he's not cheap. Which means that I probably shouldn't even TRY to come up with an answer.

  91. riesling says

    @StephenH – Bradley Manning had access to literally hundreds of millions of documents. He refused on principle to release top secret documents. He carefully selected only those documents that the world needed to know about after professional journalists got through redacting them.

    And check Slate or the South China Morning Post – Snowden himself just dropped a huge bombshell about NSA's commercial espionage against HK & China…

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2013/06/12/snowden_s_scmp_reveal_u_s_has_been_hacking_china_hong_kong_for_years.html

    ———

    http://www.transcend.org/tms/2013/06/seven-myths-about-bradley-manning/

    On the level of straight fact, there is the common, false assertion, Myth #4, that Bradley Manning leaked “top secret” material. It is true that Pfc. Manning did enjoy top-secret security clearance, a distinction he shared with the 1.4 million other people who are eligible for Top Secret security clearance. (And how, by the way, can any secret accessible by a population the size of all of Vermont and North Dakota together, a group larger than the population of Washington, DC, itself, be a secret?) It so happens that not a single one of the documents that Pfc. Manning declassified was “top secret” status. (By contrast, every last one of the thousands of documents comprising the Pentagon Papers was Top Secret, yet many of Manning’s critics claim to love Daniel Ellsberg.) More than half of the diplomatic cables are not classified in any way, and neither was the infamous helicopter gunsight video that shows an Apache gunship slaughtering a dozen Iraqis, including two Reuters news agency employees.

  92. riesling says

    @StephenH – Bradley Manning had access to literally hundreds of millions of documents. He refused on principle to release top secret documents. He carefully selected only those documents that the world needed to know about after professional journalists got through redacting them.

    And check Slate or the South China Morning Post – Snowden himself just dropped a huge bombshell about NSA's commercial espionage against HK & China…

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2013/06/12/snowden_s_scmp_reveal_u_s_has_been_hacking_china_hong_kong_for_years.html

  93. riesling says

    http://www.transcend.org/tms/2013/06/seven-myths-about-bradley-manning/

    […] On the level of straight fact, there is the common, false assertion, Myth #4, that Bradley Manning leaked “top secret” material. It is true that Pfc. Manning did enjoy top-secret security clearance, a distinction he shared with the 1.4 million other people who are eligible for Top Secret security clearance. (And how, by the way, can any secret accessible by a population the size of all of Vermont and North Dakota together, a group larger than the population of Washington, DC, itself, be a secret?) It so happens that not a single one of the documents that Pfc. Manning declassified was “top secret” status. (By contrast, every last one of the thousands of documents comprising the Pentagon Papers was Top Secret, yet many of Manning’s critics claim to love Daniel Ellsberg.) More than half of the diplomatic cables are not classified in any way, and neither was the infamous helicopter gunsight video that shows an Apache gunship slaughtering a dozen Iraqis, including two Reuters news agency employees. […]

  94. riesling says

    Double posts are due to Popehat's policy of automatically blocking posts that contain more than one URL with a "moderation" delay. :-( Not sure why Ken thinks two URLs are somehow alarming. In any event, it's easy enough to break up the two-URL post into two single-URL posts…

  95. StephenH says

    @riesling: So, your position is that because Manning had access to 1.4 million documents and only leaked 250,000 of them, that means he carefully and conscientiously selected only the documents that would serve a greater public good? I do not find the argument convincing, due to the herculean effort that would have to have been involved in selecting 250,000 specific documents to release. Further, the signal-to-noise ratio of the data, by your own apologetics, does not suggest such deliberate action.

  96. riesling says

    @StephenH – The May 21, 2010 chat logs between Manning and Adrian Lamo (prior to Manning's arrest) are pretty clear about that. Anyone can view them now – they're on the Internet. In relevant part:
    ——-
    Manning: […] if you had free reign over classified networks for long periods of time… say, 8-9 months… and you saw incredible things, awful things… things that belonged in the public domain, and not on some server stored in a dark room in Washington DC… what would you do? […] things that would have an impact on 6.7 billion people […] 260,000 state department cables from embassies and consulates all over the world, explaining how the first world exploits the third, in detail, from an internal perspective? […] almost criminal political backdealings… the non-PR-versions of world events and crises… uhm… all kinds of stuff like everything from the buildup to the Iraq War during Powell, to what the actual content of "aid packages" is: for instance, PR that the US is sending aid to pakistan includes funding for water/food/clothing… that much is true, it includes that, but the other 85% of it is for F-16 fighters and munitions to aid in the Afghanistan effort, so the US can call in Pakistanis to do aerial bombing instead of americans potentially killing civilians and creating a PR crisis […] its Climategate with a global scope, and breathtaking depth… its beautiful, and horrifying… […] and… its important that it gets out… […] it might actually change something […]

  97. riesling says

    Manning's criteria for selecting documents to release to journalists for review & redaction (also from the May 21, 2010 chat logs):
    —–
    Manning: […] basically all published cables that aren't NODIS, or EXDIS […] and classified up to SECRET//NOFORN […]
    —–
    NODIS means "No distribution". EXDIS means "Exclusive distribution", another indication of heightened sensitivity. Limiting the document set to a maximum classification of SECRET means that all Top Secret information, Sensitive Compartmented Information, etc. is being excluded. Manning is deliberately choosing to release ONLY documents that have been rated as minimally sensitive. SECRET is the lowest level of classification (other than UNCLASSIFIED, which means the document in question can be freely released to anyone).

  98. StephenH says

    @riesling: So because he blindly released hundreds of thousands of documents that were minimally secretive means those documents were carefully and conscientiously selected? This still does not follow.

    Again your own sources demonstrate my point. Manning's stated defense is that it was okay to release all of those documents because of the few that revealed wrongdoing or ran counter to his geopolitical perspective. Nevermind any perfectly legitimate politics that might have been damaged by the data breach, the point is that some of the documents are incriminating so it's okay to just release all of them and let history sort it out. He applied a few database filters, the documents are all "minimally sensitive", so it's not that bad if its 250,000 of them, right?

    I still do not find the argument convincing. I believe Manning had a responsibility, maybe even a duty, to limit the scope of his breach to the documents specific to the crimes of which he was aware. Edward Snowden, in stark contrast, continues to leak data that appears to be well-curated. These two actors and their actions do not seem easily equated to one another.

  99. riesling says

    @StephenH – going over every document in detail isn't Manning's responsibility. Sources are only responsible for being sources, not for doing the work of journalists. Moreover, the volume of documents is such that one person couldn't possibly review all of it. That is properly the job of a team of journalists. And the documents were in fact being reviewed and redacted by a team of journalists, as Manning intended, when one of the journalists accidentally let the database password loose on the Internet, thus accidentally releasing all of the documents without redaction. That wasn't Manning's intention at all.

  100. riesling says

    Manning's point was not that there were a few scattered incidents of abuse, but rather that there was a systematic pattern of abuse in which "the first world [highly developed rich countries] exploits the third [world, i.e., less developed and poorer countries]." The entire set of 260,000 cables constituted evidence of this systematic pattern of abuse which pervades the entirety of U.S. diplomatic activity. All of it needed to be reviewed by journalists accordingly.

  101. StephenH says

    @riesling If he had evidence of widespread abuse, why not release only the documents supporting that? The logical conclusion is that he didn't have the evidence, he only had a theory. He recruited a bunch of reporters to go on a fishing expedition, presupposing that the ends (revealing widespread abuse) would justify the means (leaking hundreds of thousands of documents regardless of whether they would prove his theory).

    I appreciate that Clark, Ken, and the others at Popehat have tolerated our exchange, but at this point I very much doubt that we're going to come to any agreement on this issue. I remain unconvinced that Manning and Snowden have much at all in common beyond leaking State secrets. I'll let you have the last word, if you like, but I intend to let the issue drop.

  102. JWH says

    I'm somewhat less sympathetic toward Snowden this morning. Reveal that the US government has been secretly snooping on Americans, potentially in violation of the Fourth Amerndment? Fine. Go into details about covert cyber-ops against foreign nations? I can't sympathize.

  103. Nicholas Weaver says

    StephanH: The phone records are a widespread abuse, an insanely widespread abuse. There is no national security reason to obtain all the records rather than records-on-request (with various indexes) except for convenience, as the phone companies hold onto those records for about as long as the NSA does and the Prism exercise shows that companies do respond very quickly to data demands.

    And the phone records, by being in a central place in secret hands, now incredibly dangerous. The next Nixon or Hoover could wreak havoc with those. The simple existence of this database in secret hands is an abuse.

    If (god forbid) I had access to those records, I could utterly demolish the political class by simply extracting all phone records within 3 degrees of the white house and congressional switchboards.

  104. StephenH says

    @Nicholas: Yes, I'm sorry that wasn't clear. I'm sympathetic towards Snowden, less so towards Manning. I fully agree that PRISM is incredibly dangerous, and shouldn't exist.

  105. riesling says

    New York Times is reporting that Snowden gave Greenwald literally thousands of documents. Other sources are reporting that Snowden used a thumb drive to download and transport those documents. It's extremely unlikely that Snowden individually selected thousands of documents. Snowden did what Manning did, for the very same reasons.
    —–
    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/11/us/how-edward-j-snowden-orchestrated-a-blockbuster-story.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

    […] Mr. Snowden has now turned over archives of “thousands” of documents, according to Mr. Greenwald, and “dozens” are newsworthy. […]

  106. riesling says

    http://thehill.com/video/house/305047-dem-rep-lawmakers-learned-significantly-more-about-surveillance-programs-in-nsa-briefing

    NSA revelations only 'the tip of the iceberg,' says Dem lawmaker
    By Daniel Strauss – 06/12/13 12:51 PM ET

    The federal surveillance programs revealed in media reports are just "the tip of the iceberg," a House Democrat said Wednesday.

    Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) said lawmakers learned "significantly more" about the spy programs at the National Security Agency (NSA) during a briefing on Tuesday with counterterrorism officials. 

    "What we learned in there," Sanchez said, "is significantly more than what is out in the media today." […]

  107. says

    I would do this where it slightly more likely to pay for itself:

    Sell rubber stamps that say "FISA: APPROVED!", preinked in red.

    I'm not sure if the message would be understood fully.

  108. AlphaCentauri says

    Too bad our schools are too underfunded to replace all the textbooks that teach about their former right to habeas corpus. I suppose the easiest thing is to just throw out all the history textbooks and concentrate on teaching for the standardized math and reading tests for No Child Left Educated.

  109. princessartemis says

    I've been in a situation where I know of one person who was at least briefly considering habeas corpus as a method to get them out of what was shaping into an unreasonable detention (of sorts; it was a mental hospital and this individual had reason to believe they were being kept there with no valid reason). The general feeling regarding it in this particular situation was, "You can, but it will make everything worse, so don't bother and keep your head down." Some of that feeling was correct in that the particular situation was pretty short term and habeas corpus proceedings would make it longer, but there was also a definite feel that the people in charge wouldn't look kindly on it. Which is quite a reasonable fear when, being in a mental hospital, where such an act can be interpreted as non-compliance and more evidence of being a danger that require longer involuntary periods of time to be monitored and treated.

    So, yeah, we have habeas corpus. Too bad using isn't Just That Easy when one is not in a position of power.

  110. riesling says

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jun/13/prism-utah-data-center-surveillance

    […] any assurance to US citizens that the NSA will not gather and archive their data is suspect. The “Five Eyes” alliance between the intelligence agencies of the US, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK effectively permits those governments to circumvent the prohibition against gathering data on their own citizens by sharing information across the Five Eyes intelligence community. The UK for example can spy on Americans and make that information available to the US government on its massive spy cloud – one that the NSA operates and the Five Eyes share. […]

  111. riesling says

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-06-14/u-s-agencies-said-to-swap-data-with-thousands-of-firms.html

    Thousands of technology, finance and manufacturing companies are working closely with U.S. national security agencies, providing sensitive information and in return receiving benefits that include access to classified intelligence, four people familiar with the process said.

    These programs, whose participants are known as trusted partners, extend far beyond what was revealed by Edward Snowden, a computer technician who did work for the National Security Agency. […]

    Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), the world’s largest software company, provides intelligence agencies with information about bugs in its popular software before it publicly releases a fix, according to two people familiar with the process. That information can be used to protect government computers and to access the computers of terrorists or military foes.

    Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft (MSFT) and other software or Internet security companies have been aware that this type of early alert allowed the U.S. to exploit vulnerabilities in software sold to foreign governments, according to two U.S. officials. […]

    If necessary, a company executive, known as a “committing officer,” is given documents that guarantee immunity from civil actions resulting from the transfer of data. The companies are provided with regular updates, which may include the broad parameters of how that information is used.

    Intel Corp. (INTC)’s McAfee unit, which makes Internet security software, regularly cooperates with the NSA, FBI and the CIA, for example, and is a valuable partner because of its broad view of malicious Internet traffic, including espionage operations by foreign powers, according to one of the four people, who is familiar with the arrangement.

    Such a relationship would start with an approach to McAfee’s chief executive, who would then clear specific individuals to work with investigators or provide the requested data, the person said. The public would be surprised at how much help the government seeks, the person said.

    McAfee firewalls collect information on hackers who use legitimate servers to do their work, and the company data can be used to pinpoint where attacks begin. The company also has knowledge of the architecture of information networks worldwide, which may be useful to spy agencies who tap into them, the person said. […]

    The information provided by Snowden also exposed a secret NSA program known as Blarney. As the program was described in the Washington Post (WPO), the agency gathers metadata on computers and devices that are used to send e-mails or browse the Internet through principal data routes, known as a backbone.

    That metadata includes which version of the operating system, browser and Java software are being used on millions of devices around the world, information that U.S. spy agencies could use to infiltrate those computers or phones and spy on their users.

    “It’s highly offensive information,” said Glenn Chisholm, the former chief information officer for Telstra Corp (TLS)., one of Australia’s largest telecommunications companies, contrasting it to defensive information used to protect computers rather than infiltrate them.

    According to Snowden’s information, Blarney’s purpose is “to gain access and exploit foreign intelligence,” the Post said. […]

    Lawmakers who oversee U.S. intelligence agencies may not understand the significance of some of the metadata being collected, said Jacob Olcott, a former cybersecurity assistant for Senator John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee.
    “That’s what makes this issue of oversight so challenging,” said Olcott, now a principal at Good Harbor Security Risk Management in Washington. “You have a situation where the technology and technical policy is far outpacing the background and expertise of most elected members of Congress or their staffs.” […]

  112. LauraW says

    @riesling:
    If necessary, a company executive, known as a “committing officer,” is given documents that guarantee immunity from civil actions resulting from the transfer of data.

    Wait, what? How can part of the national security apparatus indemnify a company from civilsuits. Presumably any civil suits would be brought by third parties somehow damaged by the company's actions, so the government shouldn't be involved.

    It just occurred to me that as a non-lawyer I might be mis-understanding what "indemnify" means. At first I read it to mean "lawsuit prevention". Maybe it just means "we'll pay the damages if you get sued over this and lose"? Good luck collecting on that one.

    From further up-thread:
    It's extremely unlikely that Snowden individually selected thousands of documents.

    I'd believe "thousands". Especially in many cases there were probably multiple documents for each overreaching program he wanted to leak, so the number of decisions may have only been in the hundreds. If it had been tens or hundreds of thousands of documents then I'd be more skeptical.

    [Any admins out there feel like fixing the screwup in my Jun 11, 2013 @8:31 pm post, where I forgot to close an italics tag? When is wordpress going to get a "preview" feature?]

  113. Jon says

    Saw this comment on the WaPo web site, and it was too good not to share:

    "If you have nothing to hide, you probably lie about other things, too."

  114. LauraW says

    I am an idjit (or just WordPress-challenged) and posted this on the Screwtape thread instead of this one….

    I'm resurrecting the most recent PRISM thread I could find because I thought this Wired article would be of interest, especially to the defense and 1st amendment lawyers here. Money quote:

    “His lawyers — who all have security clearances — we can’t learn about it until it’s to the government’s tactical advantage politically to disclose it,” says New York attorney Joshua Dratel. “National security is about keeping illegal conduct concealed from the American public until you’re forced to justify it because someone ratted you out.”

    Welcome to the police state.

    There's also an Ars article, but it mostly just rehashes the Wired one.

  115. GreenKnight says

    The impact of PRISM on UK barristers and solicitors.

    This just appeared on the Guardian.co.uk today:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jun/20/nsa-surveillance-doctors-lawyers-clients-snooped

    "…But how will the Prism affair affect ordinary middle-class people in Britain, like doctors, lawyers, accountants and engineers? Surely we're of no interest to the analysts at the NSA?

    Yet some of our patients and clients surely will be. As well as being an academic, I also do occasional expert-witness work, mostly in computer forensics. A few years ago I had a defendant in a terrorism trial as a client. I cannot use a US webmail service if it will leak attorney-client conversations straight to the prosecution. Perhaps for such cases I'd better get on a train to London for a conference at the defence barrister's chambers, as we all did years ago. But as the Legal Services Commission is reluctant to pay for that any more, perhaps I'll have to have a separate email service for sensitive cases.

    But you can't always tell in advance which cases might be sensitive. A client I recently helped to get acquitted of a rather dubious fraud charge turned out to be a refugee from a South Asian country whose secret police work closely with the Americans. This emerged only after I'd accepted instructions. So I'd better have a non-US service for all client work. But how can I tell which service to use? For years, BTinternet was outsourced to Yahoo. Where can I find a service that will guarantee to keep my confidential data in the UK? The information commissioner can't help: data-protection law has "safe harbour" loopholes designed to allow US service companies to pretend that they follow European law, even when their own government won't let them…."

  116. AlphaCentauri says

    I hope you aren't sending client information by email. Email has NEVER been private.

    The reason it is free is that you're using other people's servers and wires to send it hopping across the internet. It can be read at any of those nodes. You can encrypt it, but that just screams for attention, doesn't it? If they want to de-crypt it, the government has the computer power to do it. In fact, petty criminals who infect computers with trojans have enough computing power in their botnets to do it.

    If you're on a Windows machine go to your programs menu and choose accessories then command prompt. Type in
    tracert popehat.com

    You will see all the computers your posts go through to get posted. Every page you view has to go through a similar route. It won't be the same route every time; the load is distributed through multiple parallel routes.

    And Skype, Spotify, and other peer-to-peer networks make your own computer part of that routing. Other people's data travels through your own computer.

    If you want something private, the internet is not the way to communicate.

  117. StephenH says

    There are effective ways to encrypt data, even on the internet. HTTPS will prevent casual snooping by middle-men when checking email. PGP is a useful tool for encrypting downloads, though it means passing a key to the recipient by some means. There are already plugins for browsers to automatically default to HTTPS connections whenever possible, and plenty of PGP tools to choose from for exchanging reasonably secure communications (where "reasonably secure" is enough to stifle child pornography investigations, which suggests efficacy to me).

    In the end, though, it's true that if you want to make sure nobody can ever read your data without you, you keep it one-padded on a device that you keep on you which cannot connect to any network whatsoever. The number of entities requiring that level of security is vanishingly small, and the system has a rather unfortunate and basic security hole: Yourself, when threatened by a big man wielding a $5 wrench.

  118. markm says

    Riesling: So your defense of Manning is that he didn't intentionally leak 250,000 secret documents, he merely put them on the internet and gave to keys to several professional gossipers…

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