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    Edward Snowden Tag

    Yes, that headline is for real. Judging by what happened this week during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, I'm almost positive that the Obama Administration is ready to negotiate with Edward Snowden. From the Wall Street Journal:
    Sen. John Cornyn (R., Texas), at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, asked Ms. Yates about recent reports that the U.S. government was in talks with Mr. Snowden and his attorneys over a possible deal that would give him minimal prison time in exchange for returning to the United States and cooperating with U.S. officials. Mr. Snowden leaked large amounts of records about secret U.S. spy programs beginning in 2013, sparking a large public debate about whether there should be curbs on government surveillance. “Mr. Snowden needs to return to the United States and face justice,” Ms. Yates said in response to Mr. Cornyn’s question. She didn’t indicate whether or not the Justice Department was in talks with Mr. Snowden over a plea agreement, though it would have been unusual for her to make such an admission before Congress.
    The Committee is right to push on this. A few days ago, former AG Eric Holder (miss him yet?) said in an interview with Yahoo! News that the possibility of a plea bargain is more realistic than you would think:

    After an extraordinary four-month data-crunching investigation of material leaked by Edward Snowden, the Washington Post let off some fireworks this Fourth of July weekend. Their investigation proves that the National Security Agency (NSA) has monitored many more ordinary Americans' internet usage than non-American foreigners under suspicion of terrorist activities.
    Nine of 10 account holders found in a large cache of intercepted conversations, which former NSA contractor Edward Snowden provided in full to The Post, were not the intended surveillance targets but were caught in a net the agency had cast for somebody else. Many of them were Americans. Nearly half of the surveillance files, a strikingly high proportion, contained names, e-mail addresses or other details that the NSA marked as belonging to U.S. citizens or residents. NSA analysts masked, or “minimized,” more than 65,000 such references to protect Americans’ privacy, but The Post found nearly 900 additional e-mail addresses, unmasked in the files, that could be strongly linked to U.S. citizens or U.S.residents. The surveillance files highlight a policy dilemma that has been aired only abstractly in public. There are discoveries of considerable intelligence value in the intercepted messages — and collateral harm to privacy on a scale that the Obama administration has not been willing to address.

    In his first interview with a U.S. television news station since leaking information about NSA surveillance programs, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden sits down with NBC News’ Brian Williams for a one hour primetime special.  The interview, which was conducted last week, will air this Wednesday and NBC News has released some early clips in advance. From NBC News:
    Edward Snowden, in an exclusive interview with "Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams, is fighting back against critics who dismissed him as a low-level hacker — saying he was “trained as a spy” and offered technical expertise to high levels of government. Snowden defended his expertise in portions of the interview that aired at 6:30 p.m. ET on Nightly News. The extended, wide-ranging interview with Williams, his first with a U.S. television network, airs Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET on NBC. “I was trained as a spy in sort of the traditional sense of the word, in that I lived and worked undercover overseas — pretending to work in a job that I’m not — and even being assigned a name that was not mine,” Snowden said in the interview. Snowden described himself as a technical expert who has worked for the United States at high levels, including as a lecturer in a counterintelligence academy for the Defense Intelligence Agency and undercover work for the CIA and National Security Agency. “But I am a technical specialist. I am a technical expert,” he said. “I don’t work with people. I don’t recruit agents. What I do is I put systems to work for the United States. And I’ve done that at all levels from — from the bottom on the ground all the way to the top.”
    Williams’ interview with Snowden comes after months of negotiation between NBC News and intermediaries for the former NSA contractor, according to the New York Times.  The interview was conducted in Russia, where Snowden has been living since being granted asylum there last year. That location alone apparently presented its own challenges for the interview.

    Glenn Greenwald's book on Edward Snowden and the NSA is apparently headed for the big screen. From the Hollywood Reporter:
    Sony Pictures Entertainment has optioned film rights to Glenn Greenwald’s No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State. The book by Greenwald, whose reporting on the revelations contained in Snowden’s top-secret NSA documents won the Pulitzer Prize for The Guardian newspaper this year, was published May 13. James Bond producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli of EON Productions will produce the politically themed drama that is expected to be in the vein of other Sony true story films like The Social Network and Captain Phillips. Greenwald's highly anticipated book examines the journalist's personal involvement in working with Snowden to break numerous stories about the U.S. government's intelligence-gathering operations. The book is both a personal narrative of the events as they unfolded and a historical reflection on the broader implications of the NSA's activities. Greenwald and his family have been harassed throughout the process of bringing Snowden's story to the public.
    Greenwald’s book, released this week, covers in part some of the background on his dealings with the former NSA contractor, according to the NY Times.

    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....

    Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden gained access to some classified documents at the NSA by persuading other agency colleagues to share their login credentials with him, according to an exclusive Reuters report.
    Former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden used login credentials and passwords provided unwittingly by colleagues at a spy base in Hawaii to access some of the classified material he leaked to the media, sources said. A handful of agency employees who gave their login details to Snowden were identified, questioned and removed from their assignments, said a source close to several U.S. government investigations into the damage caused by the leaks. Snowden may have persuaded between 20 and 25 fellow workers at the NSA regional operations center in Hawaii to give him their logins and passwords by telling them they were needed for him to do his job as a computer systems administrator, a second source said.
    Last month, Reuters also reported the NSA failed to install the most up-to-date anti-leak software at the Hawaii facility long before Snowden had been employed there as a contractor.  The software, which had been installed at other US government facilities, is designed to detect unauthorized access attempts.
    Well before Snowden joined Booz Allen Hamilton last spring and was assigned to the NSA site as a systems administrator, other U.S. government facilities had begun to install software designed to spot attempts by unauthorized people to access or download data. The purpose of the software, which in the NSA's case is made by a division of Raytheon Co, is to block so-called "insider threats" - a response to an order by President Barack Obama to tighten up access controls for classified information in the wake of the leak of hundreds of thousands of Pentagon and State Department documents by an Army private to WikiLeaks website in 2010.
    The Reuters report indicated that the Hawaii facility had not yet installed the software because "it had insufficient bandwidth to comfortably install it and ensure its effective operation," according to a US official with whom the outlet spoke.

    (Photo: The Guardian) The US has begun the awkward process of notifying intelligence services in some countries that documents obtained by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden contained information about their cooperation with the US. From the Washington Post:
    U.S. officials are alerting some foreign intelligence services that documents detailing their secret cooperation with the United States have been obtained by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, according to government officials. Snowden, U.S. officials said, took tens of thousands of documents containing sensitive material about collection programs against adversaries such as Iran, Russia and China, operations that in some cases involve countries not publicly allied with the United States. The process of informing officials in capital after capital about the risk of disclosure they face has been painful and delicate. In some cases, one part of the cooperating government may know about the collaboration while others — such as the foreign ministry — may not, the officials said. The documents, if disclosed, could compromise operations, officials said.
    The duty of informing these other intelligence services, according to the Post, has fallen to the the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. This news comes as the administration is on the defensive about allegations that the NSA monitored the cell phone of German chancellor Angela Merkel.  President Obama spoke with Merkel on Wednesday, where he "assured the chancellor that the United States is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of the chancellor," according to Politico.

    Edward Snowden and the NSA debate seem to have lost some significant momentum on Twitter in light of the current discussion about what the US will or won't be doing about the situation in Syria. Business Insider noticed that Syria Tensions Have Knocked The NSA Spying...

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