Breaking . . . Edward Snowden Tells South China Morning Post US Hacks Into Hong Kong, China Computers

Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden

I’m no expert on the laws about revealing classified information to foreign governments, but this doesn’t sound very smart to me. Edward Snowden, who has leaked information about methods the NSA uses to collect data on Americans has now showed documents to the South China Morning Post to prove that the U.S. has been hacking into computers in Hong Kong and China since at least 2009.

In a frank hour-long interview, the 29-year-old, who US authorities have confirmed is now the subject of a criminal case, said he was neither a hero nor a traitor and that:

US National Security Agency’s controversial Prism programme extends to people and institutions in Hong Kong and mainland China;
The US is exerting “bullying’’ diplomatic pressure on Hong Kong to extradite him;
Hong Kong’s rule of law will protect him from the US;
He is in constant fear for his own safety and that of his family.

Snowden told the interviewer that none of the documents related to Chinese “military systems.”

One of the targets in the SAR, according to Snowden, was Chinese University and public officials, businesses and students in the city. The documents also point to hacking activity by the NSA against mainland targets.

Snowden believed there had been more than 61,000 NSA hacking operations globally, with hundreds of targets in Hong Kong and on the mainland.

“We hack network backbones – like huge internet routers, basically – that give us access to the communications of hundreds of thousands of computers without having to hack every single one,” he said….

Snowden said he was releasing the information to demonstrate “the hypocrisy of the US government when it claims that it does not target civilian infrastructure, unlike its adversaries”.

“Not only does it do so, but it is so afraid of this being known that it is willing to use any means, such as diplomatic intimidation, to prevent this information from becoming public.”

What the hell? This guy is really starting to sound like a loose cannon. I’ll update with more info in the comment thread as I get it.

75 Comments on “Breaking . . . Edward Snowden Tells South China Morning Post US Hacks Into Hong Kong, China Computers”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    It seems to me that Snowden is more focused on hurting the U.S. than making positive changes in the system. He’s inching closer to someone more important than right wing Congresspeople calling him the “T” word.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    PA girl who took on donor rules gets adult lungs

    PHILADELPHIA—A 10-year-old girl whose efforts to qualify for an organ donation drew public debate over how organs are allocated was getting a double-lung transplant Wednesday after a match with an adult donor was made.

    Sarah Murnaghan, who suffers from severe cystic fibrosis, was receiving her new lungs Wednesday at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, family spokeswoman Maureen Garrity said. Murnaghan’s relatives were “beyond excited” about the development but were “keeping in mind that someone had to lose a family member and they’re very aware of that and very appreciative,” Garrity said.

  3. bostonboomer says:

    Bob Cesca spells out his questions for Glenn Greenwald – why hasn’t he modified his claims after new info has come out?

    • bostonboomer says:

      Why hasn’t Greenwald posted more technical details?

      This is perhaps one of the most frequently discussed head-scratchers circulating around these stories. Greenwald has been communicating with an ostensibly tech savvy source who could easily summarize some of the above details about mailboxes and data transfers. Maybe not all of the incomprehensible computer jargon, but at least an overview of the IT side of the process. It seems to me that a story this dependent upon complex technology would include a sidebar with more specifics about the operation’s functionality, enabling IT experts to vet Snowden’s claims, further legitimizing his role and status. Technical vetting might also answer other questions: Could Snowden wiretap anyone including the president? Could Snowden really access any CIA station (only slightly less far-fetched-sounding than saying he’s bionic, too)? This disclosure of key technical specifications never happened. In fact, Greenwald hasn’t said whether Snowden’s information was subjected to any technical vetting at all, independent or otherwise.

    • RalphB says:

      UPDATE: A new article posted at the Guardian by Charles Arthur and Dominic Rushe walked back the “direct access” claim made in Greenwald’s original article and confirmed the FTP/Dropbox theory.

      The Guardian understands that the NSA approached those companies and asked them to enable a “dropbox” system whereby legally requested data could be copied from their own server out to an NSA-owned system. That has allowed the companies to deny that there is “direct or indirect” NSA access, to deny that there is a “back door” to their systems, and that they only comply with “legal” requests – while not explaining the scope of that access.

      Anyone who uses an FTP server knows that this is a far cry from “direct access” to the entire contents of a server. But now, to paraphrase a popular quotation, the hyperbolic misleading interpretation used by Greenwald has been around the world a few times now that the reality of the technology finally got its pants on. The question remains, however, whether Greenwald was deliberately vague, or whether he didn’t bother to attain more clarification on this point from his IT expert source.


      • bostonboomer says:

        They should have forced Greenwald to write it. I can’t believe they let him publish his articles without any editing or fact-checking.

        • RalphB says:

          As a news source, they have dropped a few notches with me. They were weaselly in the new story and never mentioned the original errors.

  4. mjames says:

    Wow. Is this becoming an anti-Snowden blog? I am shocked and disappointed. I thought the authoritarian mindset went out with myiq, but the government propaganda seems to be working its magic here. Sorry if I sound harsh, but I am really distressed. How can you believe a word any government official (or Democratic Party defender) says? How? They are all in on it. That’s what we need to be examining. All right, I’m out for now. Have at me, I suppose.

    • bostonboomer says:

      What government official or Democratic Party defender are you talking about? Do you want me to pretend that Snowden didn’t tell lies about himself and didn’t show classified documents to a Chinese newspaper?

      No one is going to “have at you.” Your comment was moderated because you referred to a person whose name is in the blacklist file.

      • Yes, as in …those of whom we do not speak.

        the scene is making fun of the film The Village. Quote is halfway in this clip…

        Female Elder #2: But if you talk about those of whom we do not speak, have you not spoken of that about which we do not talk.

        Henry Hale: Do not speak of that of about which we talk of not speaking… about.

  5. bostonboomer says:

    Kurt Eichenwald discusses what he learned about the NSA spying programs while writing his book 500 Days.

  6. bostonboomer says:

    Snowden’s CIA Drunk Driving Plot Claim Questioned

    The Swiss government has formally asked the U.S. for “clarification” on a claim from alleged NSA leaker Edward Snowden that CIA agents in Geneva pushed a banker to drink and drive as part of a dangerous recruitment ploy.

    Snowden, the man who claims to have given top secret documents on the National Security Agency’s vast surveillance programs to two major newspapers, briefly discusses the scheme in an interview with the U.K. newspaper The Guardian, saying it was a “formative” moment that led him to question the “rightness” of U.S. intelligence.

    In an attempt to learn secret financial information, Snowden alleged that undercover CIA agents would get the banker drunk and “encourage” him to drive home in his car. When the banker was eventually arrested for drunk driving, the CIA operatives offered to help him out of the jam, paving the way for recruitment as a source.

    • Has anyone noticed lots of this guys stories and quotes seem to come from movies?

      North by Northwest? this drunk driving thing

      Citizen Kane? That shit about being “An American.”

      • RalphB says:

        I’m kind of amazed at the number of people who are taking him dead serious and turning him into a saint. The question “What does his credibility have to do with it?” comes up. That’s bizarre, credibility has everything to do with it.

        • bostonboomer says:

          I’m amazed at people who don’t understand that I can be totally against the NSA spying and still be skeptical about Snowden and still think Greenwald is an asshole.

          If this causes a national dialogue and more transparency, I’ll be thrilled. But that doesn’t mean I have to pretend that there isn’t something hinky about Snowden. As for Greenwald, it’s pretty obvious he didn’t do his homework on this guy.

      • bostonboomer says:

        What other movie quotes have you seen, JJ? That’s so fascinating.

  7. bostonboomer says:

    Maryland community college confirms that Snowden attended classes, but he never took any computer courses.

    • ecocatwoman says:

      Once again, or still, befuddled how someone without a HS diploma, no college degree ends up handling classified info for CIA/NSA & making $200K per year. I have both a HS diploma & a college degree & can recognize a keyboard from a tea kettle – think I should apply for a big paying job like that?

      • RalphB says:

        Well, he did lie about his salary 🙂 He was only off by $78K. Seems he may have fabulized the rest of his story about as much.

        You should definitely apply.

        • ecocatwoman says:

          I’d never get hired. My past involvement with animal rights has, no doubt, put me on the terrorist watch list. And I am serious about that. Not that I broke into any labs but I’ve done more than my share of protesting and being a spokesperson at the demos.

          • bostonboomer says:

            We still don’t know for sure whether he was in the CIA or what he did at other jobs.

        • RalphB says:

          What the former top lawyer for the NSA said about that Powerpoint presentation started me thinking. What if that was an internal marketing presentation? Sort of a this is what we would like to do in our dreams and can deliver it for only a few extra billion. I’ve seen a lot of those project maps and such in the private sector.

  8. RalphB says:

    Daily Howler: Maureen and Lawrence are smelling a scandal!

    Best of all, it’s in Hillaryland: Maureen Dowd has started smelling a scandal. Best of all, it’s in Hillaryland!

    What happens when this aroma wafts? Dowd starts sifting pure crap. This morning, she devotes all her skills and powers to a literary exegesis of Hillary Clinton’s recent tweets.

    Dowd sees “focus-grouping” and “calculation” everywhere in these tweets. She’s reminded of Clinton’s “homogenized memoir,” which has been out for ten years.

    That’s what Maureen Dowd sees in these tweets. In Dowd, we see the reigning queen of the world’s dumbest elite.

    This is just pathetic! The O’Donnell portion is worse.

  9. OT, and I haven’t even read your post yet BB but: FEMA denies aid to Texas for blast | AccessNorthGa

    According to a letter obtained by The Associated Press, FEMA said it reviewed the state’s appeal to help but decided that the explosion “is not of the severity and magnitude that warrants a major disaster declaration.”

    Without federal aid, and since the owners had zero insurance, what are those people going to do?

    • I mean I realize this was no natural disaster, and the fault lies with the owners and the fuckwads who made those ridiculous regulations…but I feel for those poor people.

    • RalphB says:

      Texas could try something drastic and live up to their big mouths and the state could pay for it. Just squeezing the hair products out of Rick Perry should gather enough petroleum to take care of it.

    • ecocatwoman says:

      Going to show my stupidity here: doesn’t the prez have to declare a disaster area before FEMA can be deployed? If the prez does that, can FEMA say NO? Just wondering. And I doubt the elderly owners have the money to cover the damage, so suing them wouldn’t get much, especially if most ends up going to lawyers on both sides. How can a business be allowed not to have insurance? How can they get a business permit/license, especially when they are dealing with dangerous substances? Texas or is this a problem in a lot of states? Just another case of let the people eat dirt & live in tents. All of us “regular” folks are so screwed.

      • RalphB says:

        The plant had $1 million liability, if I remember right. That’s the minimum required or was when I had my own business.

        • Yup it is Ralph. The article says that FEMA has declined aid before, like that gas explosion in CA a while back. Remember the neighborhood that had those old gas pipes that blew? The mayor of the town says:

          But West Mayor Tommy Muska said the rural community of 2,800 people cannot cover the costs of the repairs, and doesn’t believe that the state will provide enough money on its own. He estimated the cost of those repairs at about $57 million, including $40 million to rebuild schools that were destroyed or damaged when the West Fertilizer Co. blew up in April.

          “We don’t have the money to go out and borrow the money. We don’t have the means to pay that note back,” Muska said. “There’s got to be some public assistance.”

          I think it shows how fucked up the far right GOP cause can be when things go wrong, I mean it is fucked up when things go right but that goes without saying. I just feel so bad for these townspeople.

          • RalphB says:

            It’s terrible but we’re being hoisted on our own petard.

          • RalphB says:

            They’ve already given millions of dollars to West and the residents and reimbursed the state for their costs thus far. The state should pick it up from here and saee hat can be done. I imagine the problem could be that the state wants to spend nothing.

          • I bet you are right Ralph. Like I said, I just feel bad for those people.

          • bostonboomer says:

            FEMA deals with natural disasters. Texas should have had regulations requiring that businesses have liability insurance to cover events like this. But Texas doesn’t believe in regulation of business, so now they’re just going to have to figure out what to do.

            It’s sad, but what does anyone expect? I’m just glad I don’t live in a red state.

          • RalphB says:

            And I’d love it if we turned blue!

          • bostonboomer says:

            This could help it happen!

          • RalphB says:

            Perry is probably confused and doesn’t understand the problem since it’s not gun rights or some anti-abortion bill.

    • roofingbird says:

      In CA public inspectors can’t be held liable for mistakes. I don’t know if that is true in TX. However maybe the state can be sued in some way or the railroad. Wasn’t there some relationship with them? At least one rail car exploded. Who was that woman, Rylander-Strayhorn that Bush appointed to the Railroad Commission?

      Clearly there is negligence on more than just the company’s part.

  10. bostonboomer says:

    Richard Clarke: Why you should worry about the NSA

  11. bostonboomer says:

    Here’s something interesting. Barton Gellman–the guy at the WaPo that Snowden leaked to– wrote this in 2002.

    The Bush administration has received a credible report that Islamic extremists affiliated with al Qaeda took possession of a chemical weapon in Iraq last month or late in October, according to two officials with firsthand knowledge of the report and its source. They said government analysts suspect that the transaction involved the nerve agent VX and that a courier managed to smuggle it overland through Turkey.

    If the report proves true, the transaction marks two significant milestones. It would be the first known acquisition of a nonconventional weapon other than cyanide by al Qaeda or a member of its network. It also would be the most concrete evidence to support the charge, aired for months by President Bush and his advisers, that al Qaeda terrorists receive material assistance in Iraq. If advanced publicly by the White House, the report could be used to rebut Iraq’s assertion in a 12,000-page declaration Saturday that it had destroyed its entire stock of chemical weapons.

  12. bostonboomer says:
    • bostonboomer says:

      NYT (see link above)

      Mr. Snowden’s decision to stay in Hong Kong came as a person with knowledge of the Hong Kong government’s work on the case said local government lawyers, working with United States government lawyers, had identified 36 offenses with which Mr. Snowden could be charged under both Hong Kong and American laws.

    • RalphB says:

      Now that’s the T word and an almost certain defection, if China will take him.

  13. bostonboomer says:

    I missed this from the Hong Kong paper article:

    “The reality is that I have acted at great personal risk to help the public of the world, regardless of whether that public is American, European, or Asian.

  14. bostonboomer says:

    Joy Reid writes, On bullying: Glenn Greenwald and the ‘Obama nun rape’ smear

    • ecocatwoman says:

      It was a great post by Joy. I like her commentary on MSNBC. although I’m not watching it as much as I used to. So, who exactly has anointed Greenwald as a liberal? Frankly I’ve never been a follower of his and from Joy’s post I don’t understand how anyone could consider him liberal.