Glenn Greenwald’s NSA Source, Edward Snowden, Outs HimselfPosted: June 9, 2013 | Author: bostonboomer | Filed under: Media, PRISM, U.S. Politics | Tags: CIA, domestic spying, Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald, Hong Kong, NSA, The Guardian |101 Comments
Another “bombshell” from Glenn Greenwald and The Guardian: the NSA whistleblower reveals his name, his reasons for copying classified material, and his plans for the future.
He has had “a very comfortable life” that included a salary of roughly $200,000, a girlfriend with whom he shared a home in Hawaii, a stable career, and a family he loves. “I’m willing to sacrifice all of that because I can’t in good conscience allow the US government to destroy privacy, internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they’re secretly building.”
Three weeks ago, Snowden made final preparations that resulted in last week’s series of blockbuster news stories. At the NSA office in Hawaii where he was working, he copied the last set of documents he intended to disclose.
He then advised his NSA supervisor [He is currently employed at Booz Allen Hamilton] that he needed to be away from work for “a couple of weeks” in order to receive treatment for epilepsy, a condition he learned he suffers from after a series of seizures last year.
As he packed his bags, he told his girlfriend that he had to be away for a few weeks, though he said he was vague about the reason. “That is not an uncommon occurrence for someone who has spent the last decade working in the intelligence world.”
On May 20, he boarded a flight to Hong Kong, where he has remained ever since. He chose the city because “they have a spirited commitment to free speech and the right of political dissent”, and because he believed that it was one of the few places in the world that both could and would resist the dictates of the US government.
Snowden apparently decided to leave his life behind and begin a new one. He told the Guardian “I do not expect to see home again.” And if that isn’t dramatic enough, he has barely left his hotel room since arriving in Hong Kong because
He is deeply worried about being spied on. He lines the door of his hotel room with pillows to prevent eavesdropping. He puts a large red hood over his head and laptop when entering his passwords to prevent any hidden cameras from detecting them.
OK, I’m in no position to evaluate the truth value of all this. It does sound a little paranoid, but look what has happened to Bradley Manning. Certainly the Feds will go after Snowden, whether his revelations are truly damaging to U.S. national security or not and despite the fact that other journalists than Greenwald are now pooh-poohing the revelations.
So who is Snowden? He has an unusual biography for someone in his position. He grew up in North Carolina. He was not a very good student and never graduated from high school, although he took computing courses at a community college. He went into an army special forces training program, hoping to go to Iraq, but he was badly injured and had to be discharged.
After that he worked at the NSA as a security guard, then somehow because of his apparent genius for computers he stepped up the CIA where he worked on IT network security. He eventually worked in Switzerland under diplomatic cover. He gradually became disillusioned and left the CIA to work for private contractors.
He thinks the
value of the internet, along with basic privacy, is being rapidly destroyed by ubiquitous surveillance. “I don’t see myself as a hero,” he said, “because what I’m doing is self-interested: I don’t want to live in a world where there’s no privacy and therefore no room for intellectual exploration and creativity.”
Once he reached the conclusion that the NSA’s surveillance net would soon be irrevocable, he said it was just a matter of time before he chose to act. “What they’re doing” poses “an existential threat to democracy”, he said.
You can read the rest at the Guardian.
I really don’t know what to think at this point. I’m not sure if we have learned anything new beyond what we have known throughout the Bush and Obama administrations–that we are being spied upon constantly, but government and corporations. I hate it, and I hope these revelations–whether they are new or not–may lead to change.
I’m going to add a few more links to add to the discussion.
Reuters: Senator seeks review of Patriot Act amid surveillance report
Bob Cesca: NSA Bombshell Story Falling Apart Under Scrutiny; Key Facts Turning Out to Be Inaccurate
ZDNet: The real story in the NSA scandal is the collapse of journalism
Rayne at Emptywheel: Truck-sized Holes: Journalists Challenged by Technology Blindness
Reuters: Government likely to open criminal probe into NSA leaks: officials
Tim Shorrock: Who’s helping the NSA? A Look at Palantir
What are you hearing and reading? What do you think?
I’m still reading stuff, because I haven’t been following this story very closely. I think Ralph has been, so maybe he can help bring me up to date.
This comes under the stranger than fiction heading, imho.
YES. Thank you BB for putting a post on this, I’m kind of confused.
Holy shit, wtf is going on!!!! I got home a couple hours ago, but just now got online and saw this. Damn.
I’m still confused. The Bourne trilogy was easier to understand.
I still don’t get those movies…
So is this dude full of shit or what?
I can’t tell. I mean…the thought that comes to mind:
“Just because you’re paranoid…
…doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.”
Yeah, you said a mouthful there Mona.
Here is a good synopsis : http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/attytood/When-things-fall-apart.html
I was just about to post that! What an amazing piece of writing.
BTW, be sure to read this article that Will Bunch linked to: The building collapse everyone should have seen coming.
That carpenter who witnessed the demo is going to feel bad a long time. The collapse is not his fault. However, I can’t stress enough, construction workers need to take it upon themselves to call OSHA, or their state version and the local city inspector, when they see something like that. The reward for reporting can be a personal sense of overreaction for something that doesn’t happen. The punishment for not doing can be grief and death.
Its so important to ingrain to observe, evaluate and report hazardous conditions, because there is so much pressure to do just the opposite.
It’s worth a post …
That piece is beyond good, it’s fantastic. Tying together the Philly building collapse, shutting down of Philly schools, the Santa Monica shooting & the NSA leaks – this is what journalism should be. Bunch succinctly defines the difference between “the people” & those in power. It makes me think that the bickering, name-calling, finger pointing in DC is an orchestrated performance meant as a distraction to the daily theft of the people’s power/privacy/autonomy. We are the patsies while our pockets, so to speak, are being picked. We are being punked by our gov’t.
Business Insider: The Guardian’s Whistleblower Threw Away Everything For NSA Leaks
Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/nsa-whistleblower-threw-away-everything-2013-6#ixzz2VkmHCoZT
According to Rayne at Emptywheel, tech-challenged journalists are not asking the right questions.
WaPo: Clapper: Leaks are ‘literally gut-wrenching,’ leaker being sought
Timeline of NSA revelations.
I seem to have driven everyone away with this post. Boring?
Not in the least. I am horrified, though my suspicions are now confirmed. I don’t see a way out of this.
I think we’re all busy reading all the links and trying to sort out the data (so to speak!)…
If you manage to sort it out, let me know! I’m a bit confused.
I know I am
Not at all boring, BB. I just feel helpless and hopeless about this. I feel it’s a battle we ( the people ) can’t win. I want to be wrong about that!
Yes — although Snowden’s story and heroism is a bright sign.
Yeah, me too.
NO, we are afraid to comment lest we be placed in that ‘river priority’ list via the program that tracks ppl…ala captures things out of the ordinary or just ppl like us expressing ourselves… RIP Free Speech.
Lol, Woman Voter… *waves hello*
BB, No. Far from boring… More like mind-boggling!
Booz Allen Statement on Reports of Leaked Information
Edward Snowden’s Employer, Booz Allen Hamilton, Has a Huge PR Problem
Is that all? Why don’t they cater weddings too?
That would be the Booz division.
probably CIA ones and for the DOD …
I think the same thing I thought from Day One: it’s all CIA all the time. Obama is CIA. His mother was CIA. Timothy Geithner’s father, who was also the boss of Obama’s mother, was CIA. This is a CIA coup. Obama was carefully groomed. The Democratic primary was fixed. (No matter if one was a Hillary supporter or not, the cheating was obvious.) The coup is almost completed. In 10 years, it will be. (This is not to suggest the CIA hasn’t been building to this coup for a very long time – probably starting with Reagan; it has. Rather, in Obama it found the perfect foil for the end game.)
What an extraordinary young man Edward Snowden is, trying his best to stop what may well be inevitable. The things I worry about are so petty in comparison. He has chosen to give up any hope for a normal life, maybe even a life at all. Glenn too. Maybe his life is over as well, at least as it was before. I applaud them both.
I don’t know how we can stand against the CIA. It already has enough info on all of us (including politicians) to keep most of us in line. But stand we must.
No, it started with JFK.
Oh, yeah, of course. I stand corrected.
Well, the CIA killed him, IMO, after he fired Dulles and threatened to break them into a million pieces.
Agree also. This is a fantastic post BB – thanks.
yes, yes and yes…
I agree, Hillary got the popular vote but Pelosi and the elite had their agenda. Fleischer has been over joyed by what he terms Bush’s fourth term in office. Obama has gone farther than Bush and protected Bush.
I’m probably the odd “woman” out on this. The most confusing/troubling part of your post is how someone without a high school education ends up working for/on CIA business, earning $200K a year? He began as a security guard? Is this some mutation of The American Dream?
As far as the story itself, I thought from the beginning, again possibly naively, that this wasn’t news. The Patriot Act guaranteed that we have no privacy from our gov’t. KGB/CIA/NSA/FBI/DOJ – are they honestly anything other than synonyms? We the people are nothing more than cogs in the machines owned by the corporations, with a few of them running the world, not just the USA. The future? Soylent Green & slavery for everyone but the uber-wealthy, well connected or those willing to do whatever their overlords want them to do. Glad I’ll be dead & gone before the masses are nothing more than yoked animals working for their masters. Of course my assessment could be based on the fact that I just watched the complete Firefly series in the last 2 days.
Yes, I’m glad I won’t be around much longer and that I didn’t have children who will have to live in the world as it is becoming.
I’m guessing he’s some kind of computer savant with an Autism spectrum disorder. Someone on twitter wrote that she knew a person who had been offered a huge paycheck from NSA while still in high school because of computer skills.
Yes, he’s obviously some kind of computer genius. Also appears to have family connections who work for the government ( perhaps the CIA ).
Would someone diagnosed with an Autism disorder be hired as a security guard? Given a gun? Just wondering. It just seems truly weird to me. And pillows under the door to prevent eavesdropping? The sophisticated equipment these days doesn’t necessarily require bugs even. Conversations can be heard through windows/walls. Anyway, I’m probably nitpicking and I’m sure the gov’t & his former employers will start a campaign to discredit him. Not sure if I’m turning into a conspiracy nut or just chicken little.
Why not? Aspergers syndrome doesn’t disable people from working. If it did, MIT would be empty and so would Silicon Valley. You don’t get into the CIA without being checked out carefully.
What makes you think he was given a gun? He was running network security. Did you watch the video? The guy seems intelligent, articulate, and thought all this out carefully.
I wrote in the post that it all sounds strange and paranoid, so obviously I agree about that part. Presumably The Guardian checked him out. It’s not like they are the National Enquirer.
Before IT seciruty, the story says he was a security guard and probably armed,
This explains why the leaker, and jounalists, got so much wrong, He didn’t have a freakin clue how the whole thing really works.
In this case, the Guardian and WaPo are worse than the Enquirer.
Yes, but it didn’t say he had a gun. Why is the first job he had relevant?
BTW Albert Einstein did poorly in school and very likely had either a learning disability or Aspergers
Wait, you’re saying that Snowden has no idea how the system he was working on works? I agree he sounds weird, but what are you basing that on?
I’m confused by what you are saying, Ralph. I think you have been following this story more closely than the rest of us so please help us understand your point of view.
Those jobs at NSA are highly compartmentalized and information is not shared beyond a need to know sometimes even within groups. Being in Hawaii, this joker probably worked on a surveillance site and was only peripherally involved with the rest of the system. Only a few people would be cleared for everything at best and the data analysts would be separated as well.
This sounds like he saw some powerpoint presentations, read some intertoobz, and let his own paranoia fill in any blanks in the damning story, Clapper and the rest are pissed because information was leaked, and worse it was incorrect in ways they cannot ignore. Note some of the declassification that’s happened, which I consider positive, but it’s probably easing up the secrecy mongers.
This guy was supposedly the IT administrator which would give him access to everything.
I know several people with Aspergers. They are very intelligent, able to hold jobs, and are not prone to violence.
This is just my observation: People I know who have Aspergers tend to be very open and straightforward in their relationships with other people, although they usually do not interact easily. I would describe them as literal-minded and somewhat naive. If Snowden does indeed have Aspergers, leading a “secret life” might have been very difficult for him.
BB can correct me if I am totally wrong about this,
I don’t know enough about it, Beata. In the article, he sounds extremely idealistic and naive to me. But if he really had those jobs, he must know the danger he’s in. According to Greenwald, he produced proof of all his employment history, his SS#, expired diplomatic passport, everything.
Modern equipment can read the sound vibrations off the door or a window. I think he is a sick man.
Or terrified out of his mind.
Then why are Clapper and all the rest of them so upset?
BB, see reply above.
We are already yoked animals because we are in personal debt. We lost a big chunk of our freedom, about the time it started taking two incomes to run one family and we had to borrow just to buy toilet paper.
Josh Marshall thinks Snowden is covering his ass by going to China–they might want to use him against US, so would refuse to extradite him.
Well, no shit! He didn’t migrate there for the high quality air.
ACLU Considering Legal Options In Wake Of NSA Revelations
I have to admit the thing about putting a red cover over his head and his computer to protect his passwords sounds nuts.
Especially since that wouldn’t matter to someone who really wanted information off his computer. If hacking failed, just steal it and remove the hard drive then read to your heart’s content.
Does this mean I can come in off the ledge now, Ralph? It’s getting dark and I’m hungry.
I think the ledge is going a bit overboard, We don’t know anything I didn’t know before the leaking. The heads exploding are an unexplained curiousity to me.
Well, that’s my problem. What is new about all this that we didn’t find out about back in 2005?
I don’t know of anything new! That’s what is so freaky about the reactions.
By the way, I have a good idea of how they are collecting data via Prism. It satisfies the requirements for both sides of the exchange and would not be too complex.
I think I’ll take something for my exploding head and go to bed early.
There was one thing different, the over the top reporting in both the Guardian and the WaPo. They might as well have written in all caps.
Yes, the first several paragraphs of the Guardian article were so self-congratulatory that I felt embarrassed reading them. I really don’t see how they can claim this is a bigger leak than the Pentagon Papers, for example.
BB, IT admins only have access to the systems they are responsible for and, in his case, that almost certainly wouldn’t be in Fort Meade, MD. Working remote is a common practice in the private sector and some government agencies but not in the national security arena. Too big an extra chance for security breaches.
I’m agnostic on this. As I said in my post, I don’t have the expertise to evaluate the truth value of anything Snowden said. I simply stated what I read.
Other than my gut reaction of suspicion to the paranoia Snowden expressed (I almost called it “melodramatic” in the post but changed it to dramatic) I have no idea what to think about any of this.
I do know that I don’t like the surveillance state that the government has built up, but on the Greenwald articles, I have no opinion as yet. Supposedly Snowden copied documents and there will be follow-up articles on those. I need to see more.
With that many people having top secret clearance, it’s surprising there aren’t more big leaks.
Maybe Time Magazine will put Snowden on their next cover on the narcissistic Millennials. He’s the perfect example of the self-involved employee who refuses to follow directions.
BTW, he left without explaining anything to his parents or girlfriend. Imagine the pain they are feeling right now!
One of the reasons I think he may be nuts is all the unnecessary pain he caused them by just running out. It was a really horrible thing to do IMHO.
Plus, they are the ones who are going to have to deal with the FBI interrogations.
Snowden also skipped to Hong Kong with a laptop potentially loaded with other classified information. That’s a potential act of espionage.
That doesn’t mean as much as it used to now that Obama is prosecuting every whistleblower under the espionage act. Snowden already knew that would happen.
If he goes to trial, that won’t get him any sympathy though.
Well, Ralph, that’s what a whistleblower does, takes risks to expose government abuses, in this case, abuses that are so horrendous as to destroy forever any privacy any of us has. He assumed the risks for a reason. He expects to be hunted down and taken out or prosecuted in some sort of kangaroo court. He knows what’s coming.
It won’t take a kangaroo court, he’s admitted guilt. Though a lot of the story was incorrect, so maybe he’ll plead insanity.
Yes, but he could very well have protected them by telling them nothing.
I don’t see where you get “nuts.” He had to get out and not implicate them in any way. He protected them by telling them nothing. As to the fact that all of this has been going on for a while, I don’t know if that is true. I think things have gotten worse under Obama. But, whatever, if Snowden and Greenwald are able to focus the country’s attention on what is or has been happening, then good for them.
Snowden is incredibly articulate. He comes across as highly educated. Perhaps it takes someone like him – not a traditional high school-college-graduate school careerist – to risk his freedom for a higher purpose. He was already an outsider of sorts. He has obviously hit a CIA nerve and the CIA and its apologists (I’m looking at you Feinstein) are definitely freaking out.
I hope you’re right and he’s really as he seems. I’m just getting a bad vibe about him for some reason. Plus I haven’t seen any revelations yet the are different than what we knew before–just more detail. It’s not like me to react this way. Usually I cheer on the whistle-blowers. Maybe part of it is my distrust of Glenn Greenwald. I just don’t like libertarians.
If you don’t or didn’t know this has been going on since 2006 at the very latest, you haven’t been paying attention.
have you seen this?
29-Year Old NSA Whistleblower Makes Mindblowing Claims About What Kind Of Power He Had
Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/edward-snowden-nsa-2013-6#ixzz2VmbP0Aur
Seems to me a claim of those “powers” almost certainly comes from someone who is not only paranoid but also delusional. Or just one huge liar. No one, and I mean no one, at any company could do that kind of thing and I find it impossible to believe any national agency would allow it for a second!
OT: I’ve created a page on Facebook called Omigawdess… I thought I’d share here in case anyone might be interested….
From USA Today, 5/11/06: NSA has massive database of Americans’ phone calls
Joe Cannon’s initial take on Snowden,
He could be right.
I liked Kathleen’s comment,
Balloon Juice: I Am So Fucking Over This Already
John Cole sometimes makes a really good point.
This is excellent. Thank you for posting it. All of this “OMG, the government is doing exactly what we gave them the power to do…” stuff has been driving me insane. Headed back under my quilt.