Thursday Reads: Snowden Saga Update


Good Morning!!

I woke up this morning to something I haven’t seen in a very long time–bright sunshine! I sure hope it lasts. It’s only 7 degrees outside, but the sun makes the cold a little more bearable. I see that those of you who live down South are getting more wintry weather–what a strange winter this has been!

There has been quite a bit of national security/spying news over the past week. Over the weekend, Republican Reps. Mike Rogers (MI) and Mike McCaul (TX) offered Snowden a golden opportunity for more publicity by suggesting that he might be some sort of Russian intelligence asset. Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and McCaul is Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security. From ABC News:

“I don’t think Mr. Snowden woke up one day and had the wherewithal to do this all by himself,” McCaul, R-Texas, said on the ABC News Sunday morning program. “I think he was helped by others.

“To say definitively I can’t answer that, but I personally believe that he was cultivated by a foreign power to do what he did. Again, I can’t give a definitive statement on that, but I think given all the evidence I know Mike Rogers has access to, that I’ve seen, that I don’t think he was acting alone,” he added.

McCaul’s comments were in response to a statement issued by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., in an earlier interview, who said, “I believe there’s a reason he ended up in the hands and the loving arms of an FSB  [Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation] agent in Moscow. I don’t think that’s a coincidence.”

Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein tried to play down these suggestions by Rogers and McCaul. The WaPo reports:

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) on Sunday downplayed suggestions that Russia may have prompted Edward Snowden to steal spy information but said a connection is possible.

Asked on NBC’s “Meet the Press” whether the former National Security Agency contractor may have had help from the Russians, Feinstein said: “He may well have. We don’t know at this stage.”

Still she was attacked by the Greenworld cultists for even saying that much. Of course anything is possible, but as Eric Schitt and David Sanger wrote in the NYT on Sunday night, 

…[T]here has been no public indication that the F.B.I.’s investigation of Mr. Snowden’s actions, bolstered by separate “damage assessment” investigations at the N.S.A. and the Pentagon, has uncovered evidence that Mr. Snowden received help from a foreign intelligence service. A senior F.B.I. official said on Sunday that it was still the bureau’s conclusion that Mr. Snowden acted alone.

I have to agree with the ACLU’s Ben Wizner (quoted in the NYT article) that the accusations from McCaul and Rogers are “silly.”

Even the eminent Jane Mayer of The New Yorker was trundled out to defend Snowden’s honor: Snowden Calls Russian Spy Story “Absurd” In Exclusive Interview. Oddly, Mayer did not ask Snowden if he stayed in the Russian Consulate in Hong Kong as was reported by Russian newspaper Kommersant. From the WaPo, Aug. 26, 2013: 

Before American fugitive Edward Snowden arrived in Moscow in June — an arrival that Russian officials have said caught them by surprise — he spent several days living at the Russian Consulate in Hong Kong, a Moscow newspaper reported Monday.

The article in Kommersant, based on accounts from several unnamed sources, did not state clearly when Snowden decided to seek Russian help in leaving Hong Kong, where he was in hiding to evade arrest by U.S. authorities on charges that he leaked top-secret documents about U.S. surveillance programs….

Kommersant reported Monday that Snowden purchased a ticket June 21 to travel on Aeroflot, Russia’s national airline, from Hong Kong to Havana, through Moscow. He planned to fly from Havana to Ecuador or some other Latin American country.

That same day, he celebrated his 30th birthday at the Russian Consulate in Hong Kong, the paper said — although several days earlier he had had an anticipatory birthday pizza with his lawyers at a private house.

Although she noted the report in her article, she chose to ask Ben Wizner about it instead. But how would he know for sure? What Mayer apparently forgot or didn’t know is that Russian President Vladimir Putin himself admitted that Snowden had contacts with Russia while in Hong Kong. Isn’t it funny how the mainstream media just manages to forget events that distract from their chosen narratives? Simoom of Little Green Footballs tried to help Mayer by posting the video of Putin discussing Russia’s contacts with Snowden.

Here’s Simmoom’s transcription (begins at ~1:50):

PUTIN: “I’m going to honestly tell you something I never said before, though I’ve hinted, but I haven’t said it. Snowden first met with our diplomats while in Hong Kong. I was told about it and that he was an intelligence agency employee. ‘What does he want?’ I asked. The answer was that he fought for freedom of information. Fought with illegal activities in the US and violations of international law. I said, ‘tell him that if he wants to stay in Russia he has to stop any work that damages Russia / US relations. We are not an NGO, we have national interests, and we have no intention of damaging Russian / American relations’. And he said, ‘no, I’m a human rights activist and I urge you to join my cause.” I said, ‘no, we aren’t joining his cause. If he wants to fight, let him fight on his own.’ So he just walked out and that’s it.”

Isn’t it fascinating how the mainstream media just manages to forget events that distract from their chosen narratives?

Personally, I think it is much more likely that Snowden was encouraged to steal the files and later go to Russia by Wikileaks. As I wrote in a post last July. hacker Jacob Applebaum, of the Tor Project, who is closely associated with Julian Assange of Wikileaks and Laura Poitras, the only other person besides Glenn Greenwald who has the full cash of Snowden documents actually met with and interviewed Edward Snowden in Hawaii before he left for Hong Kong. 

From my July post:

This is stunning news, because Applebaum’s name has never been mentioned in connection with the Snowden story until now, although he (Applebaum) has been very visible on Twitter defending Snowden and hyping Greenwald’s articles….

From the Der Spiegel article:

Shortly before he became a household name around the world as a whistleblower, Edward Snowden answered a comprehensive list of questions. They originated from Jacob Appelbaum, 30, a developer of encryption and security software. Appelbaum provides training to international human rights groups and journalists on how to use the Internet anonymously.

Appelbaum first became more broadly known to the public after he spoke on behalf of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at a hacker conference in New York in 2010. Together with Assange and other co-authors, Appelbaum recently released a compilation of interviews in book form under the title “Cypherpunks: Freedom and the Future of the Internet.”

Applebaum explains how he got involved.

“In mid-May, documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras contacted me,” Appelbaum said. “She told me she was in contact with a possible anonymous National Security Agency (NSA) source who had agreed to be interviewed by her.”

“She was in the process of putting questions together and thought that asking some specific technical questions was an important part of the source verification process. One of the goals was to determine whether we were really dealing with an NSA whistleblower. I had deep concerns of COINTELPRO-style entrapment. We sent our securely encrypted questions to our source. I had no knowledge of Edward Snowden’s identity before he was revealed to the world in Hong Kong. He also didn’t know who I was. I expected that when the anonymity was removed, we would find a man in his sixties.”

Please note the timeline: Poitras says Snowden contacted her in January, and Greenwald says he began working with Poitras and Snowden in February. Poitras also contacted Barton Gellman of the Washington Post in February–apparently without Greenwald’s knowlege. At some point Snowden was working for NSA as a Dell contractor, but he quit this job in order to get one at Booz Allen, where he would have access to more top secret information about U.S. spy facilities around the world. He took the job with Booz Allen sometime in March and went to a training course back in the U.S. that lasted a couple of months. According to Booz Allen, Snowden was employed by them for less than three months and was only on the job in Hawaii for about three weeks, during which time he stole four laptops full of classified documents.

There’s no doubt this operation was premeditated; Snowden admitted that in an interview with the South China Morning Post. The only real questions are whether it was initiated or aided by Julian Assange and Wikileaks and whether Jacob Applebaum aided Snowden in hacking into NSA computers.

I haven’t seen anything so far to change my mind about Wikileaks being involved in the Snowden operation from the beginning. I think it’s pretty clear that they are the ones who steered Snowden to Russia–after all, they paid for his travel and living expenses. Perhaps Snowden himself didn’t even know he would be stuck in Russia for the duration.

But this entire argument about how Snowden ended up in Russia is a huge distraction from another important question: Why haven’t there been any truly startling revelations in the material that has been released so far from the vast number of files that Snowden supposedly stole? So far we have been told very little that is new about domestic spying; the majority of the stories published from the Snowden material have focused on NSA foreign intelligence gathering, which–whether you approve of it or not–is the main function of NSA.

Since Greenwald signed on to form a brand new media operation with Ebay/Paypal billionaire Pierre Omidyar, more bloggers have begun to ask questions about why Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras are seemingly hoarding the Snowden Material. For example, Cryptome reported recently that only about 1% of the files reported to have been stolen has been published. They argue that once the files were liberated from the government, they are in the public domain and should be available to everyone. They say that neither the Greenwald team nor Snowden has the right to withhold this information.

Cryptome took to Twitter to accuse the “withholders” of hanging onto material that should be in the public domain in order to make money. They also suggested that Snowden is just a pawn in the Greenwald/Poitras/Omidyar game. I can’t link to any of this because Cryptome regularly deletes their tweets. However, I did post some of the tweets in the Tuesday comment thread:


Cryptome is beginning to accuse Greenwald of stealing public docs and hoarding them for money.

Those holding the Snowden USG public domain documents are engaged in a conspiracy to steal and sell goods stolen from the public domain.
— Cryptome (@Cryptomeorg) January 21, 2014

@OuchoSparks @KevinCarson1 Exactly. Snowden was duped by sleazes: all withholders are engaged in monetizing by theft of public domain goods.
— Cryptome (@Cryptomeorg) January 21, 2014
Twice Snowden USG public domain docs shared non-commercially: on ProPublica and @ioerror at 30c3. Latter, all others sold for media profit.
— Cryptome (@Cryptomeorg) January 21, 2014

January 21, 2014 at 6:03 pm (Edit)
Look at this:

@ShrillBrigade Great exaggeration by all sides, a natsec compulsion. Little real information, mostly junk natsec powerpoint sales pitches.
— Cryptome (@Cryptomeorg) January 21, 2014

The Snowden drip has not only stopped, it has become a dust bowl of lost dreams of rain.
— Cryptome (@Cryptomeorg) January 21, 2014

Paltry Snowden releases are world’s greatest anti-disclosure of classified documents. ~1.7% of 58K files or ~.0057% of 1.7M files. ~0 harm.
— Cryptome (@Cryptomeorg) January 21, 2014

There is so much more I could write about the Snowden saga; but I don’t want to bore you and I’m running out of time space anyway. Sorry this post is going up so late–this spy stuff is difficult to write about!

Now what else is going on out there? Please post your recommended links in the comments, and have a great day!

99 Comments on “Thursday Reads: Snowden Saga Update”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Where is everyone? WTH, I’ll post some links.

    Chet Curtis, longtime Boston TV news anchor, has died

    The guy was a true legend.

    • janicen says:

      Hey, don’t taze me bro. I dropped by earlier when nobody was around but then I had my fitness class. I’m feeling pretty pumped up now.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Sorry. It took me a long time to get the post up. Probably everyone gave up on me.

        Glad you’re feeling good. I’m crabby because I have a nasty cold I can’t get rid of.

        • I was here earlier…but got some bad news about one of my “other children.” The boy who is always here at my house….we are waiting for some sonogram results. Cancer…find out tomorrow. It has been a very difficult 24 hours, I can’t stop thinking about it.

  2. ANonOMouse says:

    Good post BB. I’m inclined to agree that Snowden is a “pawn”. While I haven’t been following this nearly as closely as you I don’t see anything here concerning the activities of NSA that is surprising. I’m not “outraged” over the phone data collection, in fact I would have been “outraged” if they weren’t looking at communications because that’s a way of circumventing the plans of those who may cause us harm. So spies are spying, who knew???
    I certainly understand all of the arguments about privacy vs. security, still I don’t know how we can be protected if our spies can’t spy. The days of living in a society where you can melt into the woodwork are gone, for all of us. If you have a cellphone or you vehicle is equipped with any sort of satellite communication chip, even if you don’t subscribe to Sirius or On-Star, your location can be tracked. I personally don’t write an email, send a text message, post on this blog, talk on the cellphone or the landline without expecting that what I say or write is being saved on a database somewhere and may be scrutinized by someone. When I go places I can’t help but notice the live cameras and video cameras at the traffic lights, at intersections, in parking lots, on the outside of businesses, in service stations, at grocery stores. Every public place is being watched by something or someone 24/7. I don’t believe anything has happened at NSA that wasn’t or isn’t being done by other security agencies at every level of government all over the globe. Ours is a “gotta know” society. If folks want total privacy and anonymity they might want to try Saturn. 🙂

    • bostonboomer says:

      Thanks for reading, Mouse. I appreciate it. I read an interesting blog post on telephone metadata yesterday from someone who actually knows what it its.

      • ANonOMouse says:

        Very good explanation!!!! It’s been my belief from the beginning, and Obama has said as much during press conferences and interviews concerning the NSA, that the NSA isn’t just willy-nilly listening to your phone calls or reading your texts.

        All the handwringing over the “privacy” issue is much ado about nothing IMHO!!! Here we are, living in a world where people are communicating with each other in real time, over multiple devices, about everything they do, every problem they have, everywhere they go, every emotion they feel, everyday and some are worried that their privacy is being invaded? It’s just hard for me to understand.

      • RalphB says:

        Great post. In cell metadata, there is also cell tower info, but that’s a tiny quibble.

    • janicen says:

      Yes, and it’s not only our society. You can’t scratch your nose in London without some camera recording it. Technology has brought about changes that law makers have not caught up with. No surprise since the stated purpose of the House majority is to make sure nothing gets done.

    • NW Luna says:

      A private company putting a surveillance camera in their store is one thing. My government wasting millions — if not billions — of dollars tracking its own citzens’ communications in a nonselective way is privacy invasion — and doesn’t make us any safer. There’s no way to analyze that mass of data in a useful way, and we badly need those taxpayer dollars for healthcare, education, and clean water, to name a few urgent issues.

  3. bostonboomer says:

    Otis G. Pike, maverick N.Y. congressman, dies at 92

    The Pike Committee, not as well known as the Church Committee and far more radical, investigated the CIA, FBI’s COINTELPRO, and other illegal intelligence activities. There no comparison between what happened back in the ’60s and ’70s and today’s NSA “scandal.”

  4. bostonboomer says:

    Very interesting and humorous photo series —

    elderly people in glamour shots based on famous movies.

  5. bostonboomer says:

    Edward Snowden will be responding to questions from the public beginning at 3PM

  6. janicen says:

    I’m glad to see someone is challenging the keepers of the leaked material. I don’t understand why the Greenwald worshippers don’t see what’s going on here. Why not release it all, unless your purpose all along was to cash in while someone else took the heat? Frankly, I’d be pretty pissed if I were Snowden. He’s stuck in Russia while Greenwald et al. get to enjoy the spoils.

  7. janicen says:

    I’ve exhausted my views at WaPo and I don’t know if I can link to the NYT because of their paywall, but there are lots of stories online about the fact that former Gov of VA, Bob McDonnell and his wife have been indicted on federal corruption charges. It’s a sad and disgusting tale of people who think rules and regs are for other people.

    • bostonboomer says:

      You can get past most pay walls by just searching for the headline on Google News. I also use CCleaner to wipe out all my cookies. That fools the NYT and WSJ. I’ve never been stopped by the WaPo wall yet, probably because I usually go there through Google or Twitter.

  8. RalphB says:

    Great post BB! I got up late to find that winter is returning. Had errands to run. Please keep doing the Snowden posts. We agree on just about every part of it.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Thanks. I heard you’re getting low temperatures down there. I hope it doesn’t get too cold!

      • RalphB says:

        Getting into the 20s I think with a winter weather advisory for potential snow/ice. If the roads are slick here, I stay home. To do otherwise is just silly with the crazy drivers 😉

  9. bostonboomer says:

    I don’t see anything happening on the Snowden live chat I guess I’m doing something wrong.

  10. bostonboomer says:
    • bostonboomer says:

      Is that why they get raped too?

    • ANonOMouse says:

      Can we stuff Mike Huckabee into a condom to see if that will SHUTHIMTHEFU????

      This ongoing argument from the GOP/TP that indirectly implies that contraception medications are somehow the equivalent of the government providing a condom to a man (as Limbaugh did to Sandra Fluke) is absurd. Do they not know that contraception is a HEALTH issue for women? Do they not know that women use contraceptives for many reasons other than birth control? Do they not know that women use those medications to treat endometriosis, excessive bleeding, cramping, irregular menstrual cycles, etc, etc, etc!!!. I’d love to be able to punish this sort of ignorance concerning women’s health needs by sentencing Mike Huckabee to 24 consecutive months of heavy menstrual bleeding accompanied by the pain of endometriosis. That would DEFINITELY stop his ignorant MANSPLAINING. Mike Huckabee KISS MY LIBIDO.

      • bostonboomer says:

        That’s all beside the point. Everyone has the right to use birth control and to have privacy in their sexual and reproductive lives.

        • ANonOMouse says:

          I absolutely agree, I’m just sick of the false analogies that attempt to compare the two. Men don’t see, nor do they understand the physical/health consequences of pregnancy, or all of the other health issues women have concerning their reproductive system. It’s total ignorance and men who think that way need to be called out. .

          • bostonboomer says:

            Me too. They don’t mind paying for viagra, etc. either. It’s all about controlling women’s sexuality and Huckabee spelled it out in plain language.

          • ANonOMouse says:

            Exactly!!! I had 3 children, all three of them before BC pills were widely available and in fact illegal in many states. I had health issues during all 3 pregnancies and almost lost my life at the birth of my 2nd child. Condoms are not a solution for women, I can testify to that. The only way a man could ever begin to understand how important contraception is for women’s health and personal well being is If their every sexual encounter could result in a life threatening health circumstance or a 9 month long health and wellness challenge. Huckabee, like most men, just can’t get there from his perch where everything to do with a woman’s body is about his perception of her as a sex/baby producing machine. He can kiss my old Sicilian LIbido!!!!

          • bostonboomer says:

            Exactly. Of course men with brains can have empathy for what women go through, but not troglodytes like Huck.

          • ANonOMouse says:

            True. I shouldn’t have omitted those men (like our ralph) who CAN get there from here. Still, far too many men on the right and even some on the left, simply do not care to see women’s reproductive issues as health issues.

    • RalphB says:

      Carney: Huckabee Comments ‘Sound Offensive To Me And To Women’

      White House press secretary Jay Carney was quick to denounce former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s (R) comments that the government shouldn’t provide co-pay-free birth control because women can’t control their reproductive system or “libido.” …

    • NW Luna says:

      Sour, sour man. He sounds like someone who could never get a hetero woman’s libido interested in him.

  11. bostonboomer says:

    Eric Cantor schedules House vote on bill that would require the IRS to audit rape victims to make sure they were raped.

    • ANonOMouse says:

      That ASSHAT!!!!

    • RalphB says:

      Sometimes I still can hardly believe how totally insane those asshats really are!

      • ANonOMouse says:

        Many women are already fearful of reporting rape because of the scrutiny and shaming that invariably follows. Things like, what were you wearing? Were you drinking. Did you lead him on? Threatening the victim of rape with an IRS audit is government sanctioned shaming and harassment. Goddam, are we back in the 1950’s?

        • Fannie says:

          Yes, we are Mouse, yes we are. According to these box nuts, we don’t have any rights, not to making decisions about our bodies, and not to privacy, and not to health care and doctors.
          As women, we are in a terrible dangers. 40 years ago we were saying we have a long way to go, now is such a long, long, long way to go. Banning birth control, IUD devices, and morning after pills, and their attempts to mutilate our genitals, our Vaginas. The party of rape and torture, the stench from the pigs is tooo much.

      • dakinikat says:

        Where do they even come up with this shit?

  12. bostonboomer says:
  13. RalphB says:

    One more red state opts in.

    tpm: Utah Will Expand Medicaid Under Obamacare

    Utah will expand Medicaid under Obamacare, its Republican governor said Thursday.

    “Doing nothing … I’ve taken off the table. Doing nothing is not an option,” Gov. Gary Herbert said at his monthly news conference, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. …

  14. RalphB says:

    I have no idea why anyone would vote for this fool! Even the biggest racist has got to be able to find a better candidate.

    tpm: Gohmert: Gov’t Tries To ‘Lure’ Single Moms Into ‘Servitude’ With Welfare (VIDEO)

    • Fannie says:

      Right $35 a week and $5 in food stamps………that a way to go. I hate Gohmert, where is my coconut, I like to meet him somewhere on the coast and toss into that bald ass head.

  15. RalphB says:

    Let the hilarity begin…

    Primary challenger to Texas’ Cornyn goes missing

    AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Have you seen U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman?

    The suburban Houston Republican and fierce conservative is mounting a long-shot challenge from the right against Senate minority whip John Cornyn but has made virtually no public appearances in Texas as questions mount about his campaign finances. Now, he’s stopped showing up for his day job, too.

    Stockman’s staff won’t say where he is. They have ignored more than six weeks of emails, telephone messages and social media posts from The Associated Press and other news outlets.

  16. bostonboomer says:
  17. bostonboomer says:


    Dinesh D’Souza Indicted For Campaign Finance Fraud

  18. RalphB says:

    Jesus has a co-starring role in Sarah Silvermans new PSA…

    • ANonOMouse says:

      That is a heartbreaking story and torture for her family. The State of TX has stepped way over the line.

    • NW Luna says:

      No surprise given the likely amount of time without an oxygenated blood supply. Nightmarish. I can’t imagine what it’s like for her relatives.

  19. bostonboomer says:

    At least two dead in multi-vehicle crash on icy Northern Indiana highway

    At least two people have died and at least 22 more were injured, three of them critically, in a “grim” accident involving several semi-tractor trailers on an ice-slicked highway in northern Indiana, officials said on Thursday.

    The crash occurred in icy conditions on I-94, near Michigan City, Indiana, according to LaPorte County coroner John Sullivan, speaking on the Chicago-area ABC TV station.

    “I hope our count is only at two,” Sullivan said, referring to the number of fatalities. He described the scene as “grim.”

    They still haven’t examined all the wreckage for bodies.

    • NW Luna says:

      He wishes.

      And since he believes:

      “men are actually better at” multitasking

      he must never have had to raise kids by himself.

  20. bostonboomer says:
  21. RalphB says:

    Why I don’t get out and drive here is snow/ice…

    Iced over roads are causing multiple crashes around Austin Thursday night — including a nine, 13 and 20 car pileup. Austin-Travis County EMS is on scene of a 13 vehicle crash in the 13500 block of N Hwy 183. A total of six people were transported to a local hospital. Their injuries are non-life threatening.

    Medics are also on the scene of a 15-20 car pileup in Southwest Austin at the intersection of MoPac and Hwy 290. Injuries there are also reported to be non-life threatening, officials say.

    North SH45 is shut down in both directions due to a multiple car collision involving possibly nine cars. Emergency officials are urging everyone — if they can — to stay off all roads.

    The following ramps are closed due to ice: 620 to 45 EB, WB 45 to 183A, Avery Ranch to 183A, SB 183 to 45 WB.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Caution is the best policy. Even up here where we get a lot of snow, lots of people drive like morons. Down South, people have no idea how to drive on snow and ice. Anyone who can stay home in those conditions should do so.

      • RalphB says:

        Morons here don’t seem to think they have to slow down, until they hit something. I just hibernate as long as possible.

      • RalphB says:

        The roads are not even terrible and there’s been about 70 crashes since 6 pm. If roads were worse, who knows? And they are getting a lot worse.

  22. bostonboomer says:

    CNN’s Twitter account was hacked by the Syria Electronic Army this afternoon.

  23. RalphB says:

    London’s Victoria tube line is currently suspended after an engineering team flooded a control room with fast-setting concrete.

    Photos at the link.