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    Gospodin Snowden

    Gospodin Snowden

    Was the privacy concern just a Snowden job?

    How did Edward Snowden so carefully thread the needle to download a massive trove of highly secret documents from across the NSA and intelligence networks without detection?

    How did he know exactly which job to go after in Hawaii to give him that access, and how was his escape so neatly orchestrated that he ends up first in Chinese controlled Hong Kong with its difficult extradition rules, and then on to Vladimir Putin’s arms?

    Those are questions which have troubled me since the start of this drama, when I asked whether this all was just a Snowden job?

    Was exposing issues about our privacy the goal, or the cover story for foreign espionage? How better to cause havoc in our intelligence services than to steal the crown jewels and create political turmoil because the U.S. does what every other major nation does — only better.

    I still have my doubts as to what this all is really about:

    As events have unfolded, I’ve been hesitant to focus on motivations and agenda, because undoubtedly there is some good coming out.

    We’re more conscious of the totality of information gathered by government, the weak oversight, and the potential for abuse. As a small government type, these disclosures are useful as to the threat posed by unaccountable big government. Among other things, the Snowden affair is a stark warning as to the danger the gathering of private medical information under Obamacare poses not just from the government itself, but from leakers. Imagine some HHS employee pulling a Snowden with your medical information.

    Nonetheless, I’ve been uncomfortable how this has gone down. We shouldn’t be kowtowed into silence just because some of the consequences of this espionage and theft are good from a privacy perspective….

    As to Snowden, it still all seems too easy and too convenient. He just happened to know exactly which job and in what manner to scoop up so much sensitive information that the NSA apparently can’t even figure out what he took. He didn’t just take advantage of a position he held, he maneuvered himself into the position he needed to be in. That’s not the usual whistleblower scenario.

    In that context, here is Congressman Mike Rogers today on Meet the Press, via PJ Tatler (h/t Instapundit):

    In a jaw-dropping revelation on NBC’s Meet the Press, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Michigan) has stated that he believes the fugitive Edward Snowden had assistance from Russian spies when he stole vast amounts of sensitive U.S. security data and fled to Russia.

    Rogers told MTP host David Gregory: “Let me just say this: I believe there’s a reason he [Snowden] ended up in the hands, the loving arms, of an FSB [successor to the KGB] agent in Moscow. I don’t think that’s a coincidence.” Rogers added that some of the methods Snowden used in lifting National Security Agency secrets were “beyond his technical capabilities.”

    [Gospodin is the transliteration of the Russian for “Mister“)


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    Marla Hughes | January 20, 2014 at 7:59 am

    “Here’s just a partial list of Snowden’s leaks that have little or nothing to do with domestic surveillance of Americans:

    The classified portions of the U.S. intelligence budget, detailing how much we spend and where on efforts to spy on terror groups and foreign states, doesn’t deal with Americans’ privacy. This leak revealed the intelligence community’s self-assessment in 50 major areas of counterterrorism, and that “blank spots include questions about the security of Pakistan’s nuclear components when they are being transported, the capabilities of China’s next-generation fighter aircraft, and how Russia’s government leaders are likely to respond to ‘potentially destabilizing events in Moscow, such as large protests and terrorist attacks.’” The Pakistani, Chinese, and Russian intelligence agencies surely appreciate the status report.

    Our cyber-warfare capabilities and targets don’t deal with Americans’ privacy. The revelation that the U.S. launched 231 cyber-attacks against “top-priority targets, which former officials say includes adversaries such as Iran, Russia, China and North Korea and activities such as nuclear proliferation” in 2011 has nothing to do with Americans’ privacy.

    The extent and methods of our spying on China have nothing to do with Americans’ privacy.

    British surveillance of South African and Turkish diplomats has nothing to do with Americans’ privacy.

    The NSA’s successful interceptions of communications of Russian President Dimitri Medvedev has nothing to do with Americans’ privacy. This is not a scandal; it is literally the NSA’s job, and now the Russians have a better idea of what messages were intercepted and when.

    Revealing NSA intercepts and CIA stations in Latin America — again, nothing to do with U.S. citizens.

    Revealing a U.K. secret internet-monitoring station in the Middle East — nothing to do with U.S. citizens.

    The extent and range of NSA communications monitoring in India. . . .

    The fact that the United States has “ramped up its surveillance of Pakistan’s nuclear arms,” has “previously undisclosed concerns about biological and chemical sites there,” and details of “efforts to assess the loyalties of counter­terrorism sources recruited by the CIA” . . .

    The U.S.’s spying on Al-Jazeera’s internal communication system. . . .

    What we know about al-Qaeda efforts to hack our drones. . . .

    The NSA’s ability to intercept the e-mail of al-Qaeda operative Hassan Ghul. . . .

    The NSA’s ability to read the e-mail of the Mexican president. . . .

    The U.S.’s electronic intercepts of communications to French consulates and embassies in New York and Washington. . . .

    The existence of NSA surveillance teams in 80 U.S. embassies around the globe . . .

    NSA’s spying on OPEC . . .

    NSA’s collecting data on the porn habits of Muslim extremist leaders in order to discredit them.”

      And learning the fact that it has been spying on me makes the loss of all that you site worth it.

      To draw an analogy, once I have found out that my wife has been bopping the pastor, I does not help matters when you point out all the charitable works she has been doing at the church.

      The marriage is over.

    MaggotAtBroadAndWall | January 20, 2014 at 9:48 am

    When I learned that Snowden is one of about two million people with a top secret security clearance, I figured the government really does not have any secrets. I mean, the bar for granting access to “secret” data must be pretty low if they’re going to give access to a guy who failed to graduate from high school, who has floated around from job to job, and who is not a government employee. How many of the two million people with top secret clearances have already sold data but it has not leaked to the press either because the government hasn’t figured it out yet or more likely they have figured it out but have prevented it from leaking to the press? There’s a reason why the Obama administration has prosecuted more leakers than all other administrations combined. I just thought it was obvious from the beginning that even if Snowden is not part of a larger espionage ring, there can be no secrets when you give access to 2 million people.

    I R A Darth Aggie | January 20, 2014 at 11:32 am

    How did he know exactly which job to go after in Hawaii to give him that access

    Apparently the NSA used contractors to be system administrators. I was shocked and horrified at that revelation. I have many functions in my job, but the primary one is system administrator.

    And as the cartoon says god, root, what is difference? as a SA (aka root) you have access to everything. Even if the data is encrypted, it is quite likely that you have access to the encryption keys.

    As for figuring out which job you want, well you want the NSA job advertising for system administrator. After that, you just have to figure the logistics of siphoning off the data.

    root is someone you need to trust, and they need to be trustworthy and beyond reproach. The thought that they hired contractors for that position still makes me want to beat my head against the wall.

    citizenjeff | January 20, 2014 at 9:16 pm

    “In a jaw-dropping revelation on NBC’s Meet the Press…”

    Nothing was revealed that’s jaw-dropping. A dude shared a hunch. Nothing more.

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