Obama’s Stubbornness and the Risk of Snowden

At the outset of this post, let me lay out my following assumptions (I can’t prove these points, but I suspect them):

  • The documents released so far by Guardian and WaPo — information on the Section 215 program, PRISM, and the PPD on cyberwar — have done negligible damage to our security (indeed, even Sheldon Whitehouse, a big defender of these programs, said the government should have been transparent about them earlier)
  • China already knew the content of Edward Snowden’s public revelations about our hacking into Chinese networks (we know China’s compromises of us, so it is unlikely China, which is more successful and aggressive at hacking than we are, doesn’t know our compromises of it); the revelations on this front so far have served primarily to even out the playing field on mutual accusations of hacking
  • Snowden personally (and his laptops) have information that China and Russia could both find of more use, particularly given that some of our programs targeting them were run out of HI
  • Snowden may also have things that might be of use to others, such as organized crime (If I were planning on longevity and had access, for example, I would take some zero day exploits when I left the NSA, though the street value of them would diminish once NSA had inventoried what I took)
  • The reporting I’ve seen has not confirmed reports that either China or Russia has debriefed Snowden or scanned his computers (indeed, this report on China’s involvement in his departure from Hong Kong suggests they did not talk with him directly)
  • Julian Assange knows where Snowden is, leading to the possibility he has escaped Russia to a country that has not yet been named in reports of Snowden’s escape (named countries have included Venezuela, Cuba, Ecuador, and Iceland)

All of that is a roundabout way of saying that Snowden could do great damage to the US, but may not have yet, and certainly hadn’t by the time he first revealed himself in Hong Kong.

If that’s right, then it seems the Obama approach has been precisely the wrong approach in limiting potential damage to national security. The best way to limit damage, for example, would be to get Snowden to a safe place where our greatest adversaries can’t get to him, where we could make an eternal stink about his asylum there, but still rest easy knowing he wasn’t leaking further secrets. Indeed, if he were exiled in some place like France, we’d likely have more influence over what he was allowed to do than if he gets to Ecuador, for example.

The most likely approach to lead to further damage, however, is to charge him with Espionage. This not only raises the specter of the treatment we’ve given Bradley Manning — giving Snowden Denise Lind’s judgement that Manning’s rights were violated to include in any asylum application — but also easily falls under what states can call political crimes, which permits them to ignore extradition requests. That is, we appear to be pursuing the approach that could lead to greater damage.

By contrast, letting Snowden get someplace safe is perfectly equivalent to letting the CIA off for torture (or, for that matter, James Clapper off for lying to Congress). It’s a violation of rule of law, but it also serves to minimize the tremendous damage the spooks might do to retaliate. Obama has chosen this path already when the criminals were his criminals; he clearly doesn’t have the least bit of compunction of setting aside rule of law for pragmatic reasons. But in Snowden’s case, he seems to be pursuing a strategy that not only might increase the likelihood of damage, but also lets China and Russia retaliate for perceived slights along the way.

All this is just an observation. I believe Obama’s relentless attacks on whistleblowers and his ruthless enforcement of information asymmetry have actually raised the risk of something like this. And he seems to be prioritizing proving the power of the US (which has, thus far, only proved our diminishing influence) over limiting damage Snowden might do.

Update: This fearmongering WaPo article nevertheless quotes a former senior US official admitting that what Snowden has released so far wouldn’t help China or Russia.

A former senior U.S. official said that the material that has leaked publicly would be of limited use to China or Russia but that if Snowden also stole files that outline U.S. cyber-penetration efforts, the damage of any disclosure would be multiplied.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse in Grand Rapids, MI.

56 replies
  1. Brindle says:

    Obama’s desire to grind the relatively powerless under his heel shows a deep character flaw nearly Nixonian in its breadth.

  2. William Ockham says:

    I completely agree with what you say. If they really believed the b.s. they are peddling about Snowden committing espionage, you know what they should have done by now. They should have raided the Washington Post and Barton Gellman’s house. They should have taken all his computers and every document he’s touched. But they haven’t done that.

  3. greengiant says:

    Hitler’s bombing of London became one of the “justifications” of fire bombing German cities such as Dresden. What in the future will be “justified” by whistleblower persecutions and cyber aggressions such as Stuxnet.

  4. Jay says:

    I think Snowden has evidence that multiple political figures are hopelessly compromised far, far beyond ordinary venial corruption. He specifically mentioned that he had it within his power to wiretap anyone–including a federal judge, members of congress . . . anyone. Part of the reason the intelligence community is freaked out is that it is easier to exert quiet influence by putting the cat’s paw on 535 members of congress, several hundred executive and Pentagon types, and dozens of federal judges *as individuals.* Several can be trotted out and ritually humiliated a la Elliot Spitzer, Charles Rangle, etc. if they are working at cross purposes to the people who seek control in certain spheres of influence. But if the scope of the program becomes widely known, they can’t possibly blackmail everyone in Washington all at the same time. Don’t forget this is a bipartisan public-private enterprise. Snowden has dirt on everybody. E-v-e-r-y-b-o-d-y. They want him dead before the Guardian can give details about their, ahem, peccadillos.

  5. wef says:

    Who has more resources and incentives to pry open NSA and other “secret” agencies? A 29-year-old employee of contractor BAH, or, a foreign state with real intelligence services? Or maybe Saudi millionaire subsidizers with radical Islamic leanings and cash to corrupt folks more deeply knowledgeable and much less willing to publicize what they were doing. If Snowden got something recently, then likely somebody else – likely many more – and entities much less libertarian – got the same stuff and more long ago.

  6. thatvisionthing says:

    …it seems the Obama approach has been precisely the wrong approach in limiting potential damage to national security.

    What you’re calling damage, I call health, or a step toward. Sunshine is the best disinfectant, and this nation is putrid now, thanks to all the secret covered-up crap. So I would change that to say: “…it seems the Obama approach has been precisely the wrong approach in limiting potential damage to national insecurity.” (Are there 11 double negatives in there? Striving for O dimensionality…)

    I believe Obama’s relentless attacks on whistleblowers and his ruthless enforcement of information asymmetry have actually raised the risk of something like this.

    With malice toward none and charity for all, including Obama, I’ve always kind of wondered if this is how he “leads from behind.” Lincoln said, “The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly,” and I remember when Obama announced his candidacy in 2007, in Springfield IL, Lincoln Lincoln Lincoln, here’s your Lincoln candidate. So, go Espionage Act. Literally, be gone. Lincolnly.

    And he seems to be prioritizing proving the power of the US (which has, thus far, only proved our diminishing influence) over limiting damage Snowden might do.

    Yep, keep going. And that’s the way you do it.

  7. emptywheel says:

    @thatvisionthing: Look, if there were a way to stop China and Russia from hacking too, I’d do it. I’m not sure this is the way, though.

    But the value of Snowden’s subsequent revelations are irrelevant to the question of how to minimize the damage even from Obama’s perspective.

  8. tatere says:

    ” … proving the power of the US (which has, thus far, only proved our diminishing influence) …”

    wow that sounds familiar. Iraq, what’s that?

  9. emptywheel says:

    @tatere: Well, and it’s not unrelated to Iraq, or Libya, or Syria. Or our treatment of Chinese dissidents or Viktor Bout.

    We’ve been playing the bully for years. At some point, China and Russia (and others) were going to find their opportunity to make that clear.

  10. x174 says:

    not sure if i understand your position regarding the law surrounding extradition EW but this from Jonathan Turley points to the relevant portions ignored by government officials and their mouthpieces in the MSM:

    “Most extradition, if not all extradition, demands come with claims that someone committed a crime. But the country – the host country is allowed to look at that charge and consider whether it’s political.”

  11. Patrick says:

    Seems likely that the theory here is that making it clear that leakers are the enemy of the United States is a (flawed) strategy not so much to limit Snowden’s damage, as an attempt at deterrence.

  12. Niamh says:

    Perhaps, since Snowden was in Hawaii prior to his release of information, the reason Obama is so on his tail is that Snowden has a copy of Obama’s real birth certificate.

  13. William Ockham says:

    BTW, I disagree with your contention that China is “is more successful and aggressive at hacking than we are”. The asymmetric nature of the conflict makes your statement irrelevant. It’s much, much easier for us to hack China than for China to hack us, but it’s worth a lot more for them to hack us. They put relatively more effort into it, but get caught more often.

  14. rsmatesic says:

    Are you suggesting that if Snowden had only been charged with theft of government property or unauthorized communication of national defense information–but not espionage–an extradition court would not construe the lesser offenses as political crimes? Maybe I’m missing something, but I don’t see what would prevent the court from considering Snowden’s actions to date in light of the US’ well documented efforts to destroy previous whistleblowers. And anyway, doesn’t the question of extradition mostly turn on political concerns, as opposed to strict legalities?

    Also, I don’t think Obama perceived he had a practical alternative. If Snowden weren’t charged, people inside and outside the administration would be calling for Obama’s head. He’d be facing a mutiny. Remember this is the guy who preempts criticism by shifting blame onto those who haven’t or won’t sufficiently push him. Meanwhile, he’s always had plenty of people pushing him from inside DOJ, CIA, Pentagon, et al.

    Please don’t take this as an apology for Obama; I’m just saying the problem is at least as much institutional as it is him. But I agree the Admin’s conundrum is the logical outgrowth of everything that’s preceded it.

  15. orionATL says:

    my view is that the president’s style is to let whatever department is in the hot seat handle things – in this case nsa and doj. if they do well, he can come along later and tame whatever. redit he wishes. if they mess up, he can just say, “darn, i trusted them with the job.”

    i don’t doubt he is is being briefed. i don’t doubt he is giving blanket authority to act. i just think he doesn’t want to get too deeply involved in any one issue.

    i do agree that this hard-assed approach is going to be disastrous in time. we are the primier economic and military powe, but we have been anything but subtle and patient in its use.

    our invasions of iraq and afghanistan, our threats to european banking, our wiretapping enormous amounts of otthers countries citizens and leaders communications, our torture, our bribery and/or threats to small nations, our goofball america-first publicly very noisy rightwing, our economic and propaganda attack on iran for having a nuclear weapons program it does not have, our threats to china and russia, our persistent and unwarranted support of israel, our drone killins of citizens of nations we are not at war with, our bullying the united nations when we dont get our way, the hypocrisy of screaming rule-of-law at other nations when we have since 2001 established ourselves repeatedly as beyond the rule of law,

    this is an extraordinary list – and only a partial, spur-of-the-moment one – of arrogant, bullying, extorting, threatening, murdering american behavior toward members of the international community.

    there will be consequences for this bad-boy behavior and those consequences will come when we need help and it is given grudgingly or refused. climate change, energy, water, and food supply issues come to mind.

    the insensitivity of the obama and bush administrations to other countries is simply astounding to me; we have squandered good will in a decade that took a century to build.

  16. lefty665 says:

    @William Ockham: Exactly the nit I was going to pick. Snowden revealed US hacking Hong Kong systems.

    We’ve demonstrated the ability to access systems with things like stuxnet, flame, duqu. Just because mum’s been the word in most of the current discussion does not mean those other Branches do not exist.

    Otherwise EW, you got it, the approach is to crush anything defined as opposition. That includes AP, Risen, Rosen, Drake, Manning, Wikileaks, Snowden, Swartz, etc. No finesse need apply.

    One tool is the Espionage Act, and that is a very big stick. Another is the NSA turned inwards on hundreds of millions of innocent US citizens 24/7/365. This is a brute force operation and administration.

  17. Peterr says:

    As long as we’re trotting out our WAGs, I’ll throw a couple into the mix as well.

    If, as you state, many of the actions being taken against Snowden are somewhat counterproductive in terms of minimizing the damage Snowden might cause, that raises the question of why? What’s more important to Team Obama?

    Minimize embarrassment: the NSA via its contractors vetted Snowden and gave him his clearance and his access. By going after Snowden aggressively, forcing Snowden into China/Russia instead of France, Obama is shifting the discussion from the details and debate over the program that was leaked by a whistleblower who duped his bosses into a simple “He’s a traitor going over to the enemy” which proves the good intentions of the spooks. Sure, he still fooled them into giving him a security clearance, but the embarrassment fades when this becomes evidence — public, unclassified evidence! — of the need to conduct even more intrusive spying.

    [Aside: How’d you like to be applying for an NSA security clearance today, instead of a month ago? I’d say “more intrusive” is a serious understatement.]

    Minimize future problems: Leaving aside the damage caused by *this* leaker, Team Obama is likely even more concerned about stopping the next leaker. By raising the ante again and again re Snowden, they’re sending a message to whoever might be considering following in his footsteps: Don’t. Even. Think. About. It.

    They’ve decided that they’d rather drive Snowden into a place where it might increase the danger of his revelations causing damage now in order to prevent worse damage from whatever the next leaker might put out there.

    Add in their approach to James “aider and abetter” Risen, and it sure looks like Team Obama has no higher priority than to put a stop to leaking, and they’re willing to pay some steep prices in order to advance that cause.

  18. der says:

    I’m of a different opinion of our superiority. Afghanistan is a tiny backwards country whose main export is opium, our premier military power hasn’t secured a rock in over 11 years. If Obama gave the genius planners the ok on nukes, hating the idea of another “Viet Nam”, they would use them.

    Our economic “engine” is consumer spending, the grifter thieving Wall Street Masters have bled everyone of their last penny and they are currently hooked up to Bernanke’s below zero percent Quantitative Easing, aka Free Money for Rich People. The spenders have no money and have no jobs. We’re fucked. And stupid is winning over evil. This flailing about by the “prickly” president (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/31/magazine/31FOB-Q4-t.html?_r=0) being held hostage by an articulate, very smart techie dropout with a spine and values is high theatre (french) for our ruling class, amusing.

    Mother Earth doesn’t give a shit about Edward Snowden, Barack Obama, or even Jim Inhofe, she has a plan and the Pentagon is preparing for it, if I was Snowden I’d rethink that Ecuador idea.

  19. thatvisionthing says:

    @emptywheel: The damage is to our ability to bully and lie. Hence, no damage as far as I’m concerned. They do the bullying and lying in my name, as if I authorized it, and I didn’t. There are better things to do – constructive, caring things. Absolutely foreign to American government now, but not to American people.

  20. Patrick Carroll says:

    China and Russia are giving the USA the pimp hand over this.

    “New Diplomacy,” “Reset,” etc.

    The Won may well go down as history’s greatest monster.

  21. Hmmm says:

    ‘Insider threat’ as a (needless to say: hysterical paranoid) meme seems to have legs — today I saw it included in an Oracle job listing as an ’emerging’ security feature requirement that they claim now needs to be incorporated into enterprise software systems. Anyone have any background on the origin and development of the meme? Seems like there might be a think-tank or charismatic expert somewhere pushing the concept, i.e. conference presos & journal articles.

    (I now return to shunning chirpy lunch invites from co-workers in order to read Salon.com, alone and sullen.)

  22. C says:

    As much as I hate to psychoanalyze I think that these observations, which I think are correct, should also be taken in light of Obama’s other behaviors such as his personal involvement in Drones. All Presidents have narratives. Obama, more so than any of our other recent presidents has chosen a very personal one. It is his story, his actions, his decisions and our trust in him that matters. Yes Cheney held a tight reign but he didn’t make it all about him publicly. And Regan much as he was the “great communicator” has been made more iconic after his presidency than he was during it.

    Remember for example the drones. We were assured that it was correct because Obama picks the targets. We were supposed to trust in the conduct at Guantanamo because Obama told us they were bad. Obama even told us that Manning was bad. And in subsequent “authorized leaks” we have been told that Obama personally focused on Anwar al Awlaki and personally oversaw the hunt for Bin Laden.

    If there is anyone that Snowden’t leaks have embarrassed the most it has been him and his credibility. Thus Obama’s decision to pursue Snowden is consistent with his past actions (e.g. the assassination of Awlaki) and his general modus oppurandai (heavy use of “authorized leaks,” personal assurances, and strict control).

    Given his past actions I fear that Snowden read him right when he said he wouldn’t ever go home.

  23. JThomason says:

    Lincolnesque or kabuki? The headline reads: In response to Snowden’s Disclosures Senate Introduces Legislation to Limit NSA Spying. But doesn’t the 4th Amendment to the Constitution already do this? Will the Senate lower the bar set by the 4th Amendment by reacting to Snowden’s disclosures with legislation against the unconstitutional de facto standard Snowden has highlighted. Nothing like a strategy for eviscerating the Constitution in the name of increased privacy before the illegal blanket wire-taps exposed. Sausage indeed.

  24. JohnT says:

    The most likely approach to lead to further damage, however, is to charge him with Espionage. This not only raises the specter of the treatment we’ve given Bradley Manning — giving Snowden Denise Lind’s judgement that Manning’s rights were violated to include in any asylum application — but also easily falls under what states can call political crimes, which permits them to ignore extradition requests. That is, we appear to be pursuing the approach that could lead to greater damage.

    i.e. the Streisand effect

    I hate to see him have to go through this, but the best thing for those who care about civil rights and hate government oppression, this is the best thing that could happen. The more they go after him, and demonize him, the more of a folk hero he becomes, and the more their shredding of the constitution gets revealed

    Where’s the popcorn?

  25. TarheelDem says:

    I’m not sure that Snowden has information that could actually damage national security. The information that he has put out has seemed like training materials and FISA orders and procedural steps that are so vague as to be useless for anyone trying to beat the surveillance.

    What he has done is let ordinary citizens around the world know that they are being spied on, not only by the US but in UK, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand also by their own governments working through the tag-team Five Eyes agreement.

    Obama has damaged his legacy if he does not reverse course. He is heading in a Nixonian direction and when the public outcry becomes widespread enough, despite the activities of the Wall Street media, Democrats in Congress will fold just like Republicans in Congress did in the 1970s. The very wild card in all this are the Republicans in Congress, who are finding their intelligence-industrial complex buddies in a bind at the moment. And it is that that might let Obama skate free of the controversy. Of course, there is also the fact that the 2008 FAA placed an illegal program under the color of law.

  26. cbpelto says:

    TO: All
    RE: Ellsberg, Revisited

    For the ‘kids’ here—no offense intended, but when you’ve spent 60+ years on this ball-o-dirt, you can appreciate my perspective—I’m reminded of Daniel Ellsberg’s revealing that the Viet Nam War was a cocked up conspiracy on the part of the Johnson ‘Administration’.

    It came out in the Republican Nixon administration. And the Democrats were all over Nixon like ugly on an ape. And hailed Ellsberg as a ‘true patriot’. Of course they spun the Pentagon Papers as proof that the Republicans were ‘evil’.

    Now that it’s a Democrat in the Oval Office, the Democrats are all over the whistle-blower. And their darling in the Oval Office has nothing to do with it.

    But remember….Nam was the Democrats creation. Johnson being a Democrat.

    Up til now, I considered Johnson the worst president of the United States, because of his getting US into Nam and costing US 58K dead and 2-4 MILLION Southeast Asians dead as well.

    In my honestly held personal and professional—US Army Infantry—opinion, Obama has surpassed Johnson.

    Why?

    Because Johnson just cost US lives. Albeit a LOT of lives.

    But Obama has cost US our liberty. Which is much more dastardly.

    Regards,

    Chuck(le)
    P.S. Clinton is still in the running for second place……

  27. P J Evans says:

    @john francis lee:
    They’ve been all over our military-industrial networks.

    If you go to the top right corner, there’s a search box. Type: china hacking
    Read the posts it produces.

  28. lysias says:

    Amazingly, the predominant opinion on Daily Kos is now pro-Snowden and anti-Obama, at least on this issue.

    If that’s how people posting on Daily Kos think, Democratic politicians must be very scared.

  29. JThomason says:

    Come to think of it Obama lost all hope of a Licolnesque profile with regard to this issue when he flip-flopped in the Senate before his run for the White House voting for FISA ultimately when he had made public statements in opposition.

  30. Mark Tenney says:

    Excellent article and comments. Following may repeat points raised by others. At this point, the best practical way for US to negotiate a deal with Snowden is to send someone into the Ecuador embassy to negotiate with Assange.

    Points are:

    Snowden gets asylum in an EU country or whole EU.

    Snowden agrees not to do a data dump of his articles but only publish through journalists or an established publisher for books.

    US gets to preview what is published to raise objections.

    Assange’s freedom can be part of the package.

    Shoot the moon, Bradley Manning as well.

  31. lefty665 says:

    @P J Evans: The Chinese (and others?) have been all over our networks because our military/contractors have been so fat, dumb and lazy that they’ve been had, and with hacks resident on some nets for literally years at a time. It should be news.

    Type “stuxnet, duqu, flame” to get our foreign hacks. And, just because we have not heard about others does not mean they are not happening.

    NSA hacks of foreign networks fall directly into their founding mission in a trail that goes directly back to Enigma and Purple in WWII. It appears that they have been pretty damn good at it, and that is part of what has kept us free for 70+ years.

    Shredding the Bill of Rights by turning those tools inward on every man woman and child in the USA is the issue. Duhbya started it. Obama has “legalized” and expanded it profoundly.

  32. john francis lee says:

    USA must not hunt down whistleblower Edward Snowden

    “No one should be charged under any law for disclosing information of human rights violations by the US government. Such disclosures are protected under the rights to information and freedom of expression,” said Widney Brown, Senior Director of International Law and Policy at Amnesty International.

    “It appears he is being charged by the US government primarily for revealing its and other governments’ unlawful actions that violate human rights.”

  33. orionATL says:

    the obama administration’s response may just be the anger of the powerful at having their schemes exposed.

    but to me the admin’s behavior in the last few days has a desperate air about it..

    there must be more that they fear will come out, something truly deadly to the nsa programs and the politicians who supported it.

    my candidates, as an uninformed guess, are electronic spying on the leaders (or all) of the “occupy” movement, together with white house co-ordination,

    or electronic spying on american muslims not involved in terrorism,

    or electronic spying on political, including congressional, “enemies”; i am not referring only or mostly to republicans,

    or electronic spying on aclu, eff, et al.

  34. Citizen92 says:

    Is there a risk that Snowden could go to North Korea? Air Koryo still operates non-stop flights from Moscow.

    And who does Snoden need to fear more? The USG, or, maybe BoozAllenHamilton, a division of Carlyle? Has BAH been sanctioned for allowing this to happen?

  35. Hmmm says:

    @orionATL: There is definitely something quite unprecedentedly desperate in DiFi’s eyes at this point. Downright strange to see the change in her. Up ’til now I’ve been thinking it’s just that she’s finally been exposed with her hand in the cookie jar w/r/t all the Hoovering collection — some sort of psychogenic fugue state trying to push the truth away. But maybe you’re right and they know that even bigger cookies are yet to come. (‘Bigger’ only in the sense of ‘more politically radioactive’; ’cause what could be bigger in a technical sense than the blanket collection we already know about?)

    I’ve seen some speculation that they’re afraid of Snowden revealing the location and names of worldwide IC posts, which in its own way makes some sense as he’s already stated that he had access to that info as a Booze contractor, but in my (relatively uninformed) opinion that doesn’t seem consistent with the character of the documents released (or partially released) to date. So that feels to me more like an ‘impugn the messenger’ story. (Speaking of which, see David Carr on that theme.)

    If one had to pick – and I emphasize this is only applying logic, I have no inside info here – then I guess the scenario that comes closest to justifying the panic-level reactions we’re seeing would be evidence of use of the surveillance machine against Republican leaders and candidates — for example McConnell, Boehner, Romney, Ryan, McCain, etc. That’d pack way more wallop than surveilling Occupy or the domestic muslim community would. Particularly if it were pre-2012-election.

  36. Pajarito says:

    @Hmmm: insider threat has been a feature in fed gov required information security training. An annual requirement for all gov employees. Ironically, it is often packaged with brief training on the no fear act.

  37. orionATL says:

    @Hmmm:

    that is an interesting observation on feinstein. she has been obama’s shield in the senate (and not just on this issue). since i don’t watch tv, except for some sports events, i haven’t had that opportunity.

    exactly what is driving the panic, if that is what it is, i can’t say, but i eagerly await the guardian’s future installments in this saga.

    i do fear, however, that the guardian will be shut down by secret order, if that has not already happened. that would be another indication of real fear, since these power-guys-and-gals already know that nothing operational has been revealed by snowden, only the “politically radioactive” as you put it.

  38. lefty665 says:

    @Hmmm: Much as I hate to credit DiFi with decent human qualities, it may be possible that she is reacting to the exposure of what she knew in her heart she has been doing for years that was profoundly wrong.

    It looks like the gang of 8 were essentially blackmailed into this. They were read into what was going on early on in the Duhbya years when it was clearly illegal. They were isolated, they could not take notes, talk to staff, other congress critters or the public under threat of the Espionage Act. Turning NSA inward was blatantly unconstitutional, but their fig leaf was post 9/11 flag waving, patriotic, protect the Homeland from Terrah. Once compromised, they went along. “We did not want to do it, but we had to destroy this country to save it”. Did I mention that they were spineless too?

    Over the years, and especially with Obama, they put a legislative veneer of legality over the destruction of the Bill of Rights. This Administration has been an enabler, an enforcer, an accessory after the fact to the Duhbya crimes. With Congress it has embraced the wrongdoing and secretly expanded it. Now that has been exposed. In the light of day it looks so shabby, it reeks so badly, it is such a cowardly disgrace. DiFi and others are ashamed and lashing out to protect self, status, position.

    Yes, there are all those other things that will keep crawling out from under the secret rocks. We’ve seen the inklings of them, Occupy surveillance, the totality of voice intercepts, whatever. Total Information Awareness lives, and more of it will out.

    The invertebrates in Congress not only went along, but they facilitated, and they hid what they were doing. They justified the data rape of America and have aborted the Bill of Rights, all in the name of keeping us safe from Terrah. They, and the Administration are angry, defensive, and perhaps getting a little anxious. That makes them dangerous too.

  39. National Funny Sexnoise Archives says:

    It’s poignant to see how the self-styled ‘Netroots’ persist in attributing choice and free will to Alexander’s vetted spokesmodel Obama. Do you really imagine that NSA gives a rat’s ass what Obama thinks where threats to NSA impunity are concerned? When they want Obama’s opinion they’ll give him one. Russ Tice worked for the kompromat and blackmail directorate at NSA. He explained why your favorite politicians bow and scrape to the peeping toms. NSA has had Obama under the microscope since Penny Pritsker plucked him from obscurity.

    http://www.boilingfrogspost.com/podpress_trac/web/20927/0/BF.0112.Tice_20130617.mp3

  40. P J Evans says:

    @lefty665:
    What I think is extremely funny is the right-wing trolls I’ve seen who insist that DiFi, Schumer, and Pelosi (and Mr O) are all extremely liberal. It is to ROFL.

  41. lefty665 says:

    @orionATL: Ok, but correct my spelling please so it does not embarrass us both. It is “invertebrates”. S’not original with me, been around for a long time.

    @P J Evans – My point, very badly presented, was that what we’ve heard about, stuxnet, flame, etc as hacks, is really cyber war, a different subject entirely. Our non destructive foreign hacks, comparable to the Chinese hacks we’ve read about, are signals intelligence. We have heard very little about them, and that is a legitimate NSA function (foreign, not domestic). We’re likely pretty good at that and have been doing it on a large scale since WWII.

    @P J Evans – “It is to ROFL.” – Just so long as it does not interrupt the sobbing, crying, gnashing of teeth and tearing of hair. How have we come to this? There ain’t a one of them left of right wing. Sigh.

  42. guest says:

    Just wondering if Elliot Spitzer has said anything on this subject, or would he still be too cowed by what else they have on him? Poor Elliot’s penchant for rim jobs was one of the first things I thought of when I first read about PRISM. Maybe that says something about me. But you have to wonder how much control our spy agencies have over the information they gather and whose hands it gets into.

  43. Nigel says:

    …. Meanwhile, China has also described US accusations that it facilitated the departure of fugitive Edward Snowden from Hong Kong as “groundless and unacceptable”.
    A foreign ministry spokeswoman said the Hong Kong government had handled the former US intelligence officer’s case in accordance with the law.
    The US has criticised what it termed “a deliberate choice to release a fugitive despite a valid arrest warrant” …

    But surely “we need to look forward, as opposed to looking back”… ??

  44. ellen Silverman says:

    I am embarrassed that I voted for a president who routinely punishes whistle-blowers. As a person born in Germany at the end of WW II this gives me much to compare.

  45. Shamai Leibowitz says:

    I was prosecuted by the Obama Administration in their relentless crackdown on whistle-blowers, and I even served time, and I couldn’t agree with you more. As I wrote on my blog, Snowden is a direct result on the DOJ’s war on whistle-blowers. What goes around, comes around.

  46. bloodypitchfork says:

    @Tiffany: @guest: quote:”Maybe that says something about me. But you have to wonder how much control our spy agencies have over the information they gather and whose hands it gets into. “unquote

    ya mean, like those good folks at BoozAllen’s overlords.. the Carlyle Group? Investments, ya know. gotta protect em…like BoozAllen and all the rest of their incestuous Congressional stockholders..er..hehe..”group”
    From my perspective, I’d submit this is the 800lb gorilla in the NSA room that NO BODY is talking about, at least from what I’ve seen. I mean, it doesn’t take an Einstein to connect the dots…after all..Clapper came from BoozAllen, and a former head of the CIA runs BoozAllen now,

    Hell, a quick glance at just ONE employee, James H. Hance, Jr…says volumes..

    quote:”Prior to his affiliation with Carlyle, Mr. Hance was Vice Chairman and Chief Financial Officer of Bank of America. He is a Director of Duke Energy, Sprint Nextel, Cousins Properties Inc., Morgan Stanley and Ford Motor Company.”unquote

    whudda thunk..
    http://www.carlyle.com//about-carlyle/team/james-h-hance-jr

    research their stockholders. redefines the word incestuous. I’d bet $1k their shredders are working overtime.

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