>During the course of the interview, standard interview questions were used, but were tailored as needed to follow the flow of the interview. It is also important to note that there were questions included that were meant to uncover whether Mr. Snowden was dissatisfied with the US government.
The "standard interview questions" asked when an employee raises a legal concern about the practices of the NSA are used to turn the microscope onto the employee, rather then the legal issue (a practice certainly not lost on employees considering raising an issue). The message here is clear - keep your head down and do what your told, or you will be hammered down like a nail that sticks out from a board. The willingness of the NSA to continue its constant and continuing barrage of lies is troubling and revealing, laying bare the immoral, illegal, and sociopathic tendencies of those employed there.
Perhaps I should write "protections" since we also know that whistleblowers are punished rather than protected.
But I would expect Snowden was also smart enough not to raise extremely strong sounding objections since he probably couldn't have done what he wound-up doing if he had.
After all, Snowden basically saw a couple other NSA dissidents who went entirely through the chain of command get eaten up and chewed out. This is the context of these events.
We'll probably see similar whistleblower-ignoring effects (if not outright disinformation & discrediting) in the corporate world too. The VW emissions scandal comes to mind...
There is a strong intuition that what the NSA is illegal, but I've not seen that borne out by reality. Time and time again, bills have passed with wide bipartisan support to expand and extend surveillance powers, and the Supreme Court is clear that the Constitution does not protect 3rd party records.
If the NSA has actually done anything illegal, I imagine it was only in the brief period between when it thought to do so and when Congress gave its approval.
>Unfortunately, although the law in this matter is crystal clear, many Americans, faced with President Bush's bold assertions of "inherent" authority for these actions, will not know what to believe.
Once you've decided you're The GoodGuy™, anybody who stops you becomes The Enemy™. It's just a matter of time until you're wrong and those trying to stop your error become The Enemy™.
In other words, the headline is a lie.
Ten minutes of my life I'll never get back.
One could argue the NSA could be trying to make sure there was no proof rather and that's fine. This article though only finds evidence of a single email. I'd love to see more but this isn't it.
== "NSA has investigated NSA and has found no wrongdoing."
Your mind was already made up, not sure why you bothered reading it.
I understand not wanting to make public internal conversations, but this sort of redaction really sets the imagination down a dark path. Not Gary Webb dark, but HBGary-fabricating-evidence-to-discredit-journalists kind of dark .
- What instances of Snowden voicing his concerns internally do we now know of?
- Which of these are "old news" and which are "fresh news"?
- How did the NSA respond to each of these cases that we know of?
Think there's strong evidence their whistleblower protections are lacking. Think it's clear the NSA is trying desperately to damage control the situation. While it's possible Snowden attempted to go through the proper channels (and I'd love to see evidence of this), the documents linked in this article only show him testing the waters.
The fact Snowden doesn't want to respond is a pretty good sign this isn't a slam dunk for the anti-spying contingent.
"[Snowden] believes the NSA is still playing games with selective releases, and [he] therefore chooses not to participate in this effort," Wizner said. "He doesn't trust that the intelligence community will operate in good faith."
I think your right that Snowden was "testing the waters" and my guess is he came to the honest conclusion that public disclosure was necessary for there to be even debate on the issue of mass surveillance and there needed to be one.
I had forgotten what the title was in the process of reading the article. You're right, it's a near perfect example of spun journalism.
Consider the following:
> Because none of the people interviewed by the NSA in the wake of the leaks said that "Snowden mentioned a specific NSA program," and "many" of the people interviewed "affirmed that he never complained about any NSA program," the NSA's counterintelligence chief concluded that these conversations about the Constitution and privacy did not amount to raising concerns about the NSA's spying activities.
> That was the basis for the agency's public assertions — including those made by Ledgett during a TED talk later that month — that Snowden never attempted to voice his concerns about the scope of NSA surveillance while at the agency.
Note the infrequent 'Because ... Than ...' type of construct -- but that a particular fact is selected for the 'Because ...' clause it inclines the reader to believe that something is being omitted or hidden from public view (one spuriously continues reading the article hoping to find what it was) - but all the reader gets is:
> Snowden declined to answer a number of very specific questions for this story.
The whole article is written as if something is hidden, omitted and about to come into view! How else to justify the headline title!? But there's really nothing at all.
What's not proven in these docs, but seems at least imaginable perhaps even probable, is that the 702 test contained questions which required answers based on an expired law. That expired law gave analysts much more leeway than they currently had.
If that's what happened, I think we can understand at least partly why Snowden claims he raised more serious concerns, and simultaneously why NSA did not consider complaints about failing his test when evaluating how he had engaged.
Really, difficult. ;)
There's about no comparison between screenshoting some emails and conning employees out of passwords then mass downloading TS files. My suggestion is WAY lower risk. Worked for CIA and KGB whole Cold War, goo. ;)
Cover for action is a tradecraft phrase - the CIA and KGB recognize the importance of running an op on more that wishful thinking and luck. The only reason why miniature cameras are associated with them is because of embarrassing public failures, not because that is their MO.
E.g. my very, very cursory contact with military computer systems involve visiting offices where access to the classified data and e-mail were physically separated onto different computers and different networks, maintained by different people working in different locations.
It's very possible to have the run of one network and not be able to be sure of how closely he was monitored on the other.
As for taking photos, on one of the contracting gigs I did that involve entirely unclassified jobs at a research institute nothing like the NSA, I was assigned a full time babysitter during the contract. The guy even waited outside the toilets when I had to go, because they were not allowed to let me go anywhere at all alone. These places take security seriously. It is not at all a given that Snowden had reasonable expectation of being in a position where he could take pictures without someone seeing it.
That he was able to do other things is not a good reason for him to take additional risk. On the contrary - it may have been good reason for him to be particularly careful about appearing squeaky clean in other ways to improve his odds if he had to explain away something else.
They're normal, boring-ass machines at Booz Allen Hamilton. Snowden knows the setup because he configures and administers them. I can't find article right now but we also know Booz Allen Hamilton had less security than what is typical for commercial sector. I think Snowden was even accessing stuff from home WiFi. It was that ridiculous.
"I was assigned a full time babysitter during the contract. The guy even waited outside the toilets when I had to go, because they were not allowed to let me go anywhere at all alone. "
Snowden's situation was nothing like that. He was instead more likely to be the baby sitter as he was in one of most trusted positions. Nobody was looking over his shoulder except if a supervisor or manager showed up on occasion.
"That he was able to do other things is not a good reason for him to take additional risk."
You could say the same thing about the leaks themselves. He took the risk because it was important. That he tried to handle things internally is also important. He repeats it constantly. A tiny risk doing something I've done and covered for 50+ times in shady organizations is worthwhile for him. We wouldn't even be having this discussion if he had.
He can bug his computer. He can hide executables tgat copy it to disks. He can screenshot it to disks. He can photo/video the screen. Examples abound. And remember he's a trained, ex-CIA spy. Not some idiot that cant pull off fieldcraft 101.
He just failed to collect evidence one way or another for a key claim.
> Cooper turned to Hillary Clinton and asked, “Secretary Clinton, hero or traitor?” Clinton, who earlier in the debate had described herself as “a progressive who likes to get things done,” replied, “He broke the laws of the United States. He could have been a whistle-blower. He could have gotten all of the protections of being a whistle-blower. He could have raised all the issues that he has raised. And I think there would have been a positive response to that.”
It is fascinating to read internal debates and conversations happening at NSA. A good number those people publicly claim Snowden is lying and fabricating facts.
I imagine they have to all think at some superficial level that he is a terrible person, liar, criminal, traitor etc. If they question or doubt that they face their cognitive dissonance -- maybe their workplace is the immoral agency here, maybe they are lying and skirting the law. That is a hard pill to swallow I think. It is easier to just keep lying to yourself overall.
- Upton Sinclair
I understand that the NSA is extremely unpopular here, but their actions had the implicit consent of every branch of the US government. I don't see anything in this lengthy article that makes me think they should have acted any differently than they did. The only person that has veto power is the president. Everyone else has to go through proper channels, and should do so with the expectation that nothing will change.
The first thing that comes into my mind, is the cost/benefit estimation of him leaking those things if I were in his shoes. So far he managed to mitigate the cost done to him, and did something he believed would benefit his country.
What I'm curious about is the intelligence costs those leaks generated. Were the documents leaked carefully chosen to limit that damage and still prove those programs were unconstitutional? Or was the damage real?
But that being said, I don't think Obama of all people would. He has been more pro surveillance than Bush Jr, was more damaged by Snowden, and had tons of political friends damaged by Snowden.
I think people confused the person they wanted Obama to be, and the president Obama has actually been. He is more similar to Bush Jr in these matters than different, and has prosecuted more whistleblowers.
I think people confused the person they wanted Obama to be, and the president Obama has actually been.
Not confused, disappointed.
And even if he agreed to not release any new information, that's not really what I meant. If he came back and did an interview on every talk show about what he thinks about the surveillance state, the current administration, whatever, that would make it a huge issue again. If you want it to go away, you need to keep him out of the country and out of the public eye.
The article in question spends an exceptionally long time examining NSA/DoJ decision making in responding to Snowden's claims that:
> . "I had reported these clearly problematic programs to more than 10 distinct officials, none of whom took any action to address them."
The article provides no evidence that this was true. Or that US Officials' rejection of this position was contrary to the facts. In fact a different reporter might argue that the lack of such evidence given the new documentation provided supports the opposite conclusion.
> The NSA portrayed it as an innocuous question that elicited a direct response when it released the email in 2014.
It may not be an entirely innocuous issue, but it's certainly not equivalent to raising concerns. To suggest the later requires perfect ignorance of how bueracracy works. No one is going to look for 'implicit intent' in you raising a question and escalate it to something more than that. They cc'ed relevant experts to provide an answer and that's really the best you should expect from a large organization. Unless you explicitly report a complaint, nobody is going to go around knocking on the higher ups doors for you.
Another point that I would like to raise that hasn't been mentioned is Snowden's account of his career at the CIA. According to him he was quite senior.
> In March 2012, Dell reassigned Snowden to Hawaii as lead technologist for the NSA's information-sharing office. 
In this article we clearly see he signs ( when answering a question about file types) as:
> Ed Snowden,
I'm not bringing these up as a proponent of NSA surveillance, but I do think it is important to be critical in this - and I'm no more convinced of Edward Snowden as a witness than before I started reading this.
Particularly I think the article is disingenuously written (Clickbait Title) in following a very lengthy narrative ( to build up suspense? ) without providing much in the way of strong evidence; one expects to finally find it at the end, but curiously finds nothing. If they told me at the start "no emails which would significantly alter the known facts were disclosed" - I could have saved 30 minutes.
The U.S. Gov's response that Snowden should have raised his concerns through "proper channels" is pure propaganda. Unfortunately, the highest levels of the executive branch have a very large megaphone, and they rely the fact that there are still citizens who will give them the benefit of doubt, and take what they say at face value.
The laughable implication of the official response is that if Snowden would have brought attention to illegal spying to leadership of an agency who was one of the main architects of the illegal spying programs, there would have been some kind of corrective response.
The only corrective response would have been to crush him like a little bug.
It's hard to say what Snowden was getting at from the sketchy information we have when he had those contacts with members of the NSA OIG. But he did raise topics that were connected with his concerns. I took it as him gingerly putting out feelers to find out how the programs were perceived within the NSA, and the kind of response such inquiries might generate.
One might hope, in a perfect world, that his questions would lead those innocent recipients of his concerns to investigate further, and join the fight to hold these powerful law enforcement organizations accountable to the rules of law.
But we're not living in Disneyland here...
The bottom line, though, is that you can't criticize the NSA for what you suspect it would have done. You can only criticize it for what it has actually done. You can suspect all you like (and I'll probably join you in suspecting), but if Snowden never did blow the whistle, we'll never know what would have happened if he did.
The fact that the sentiment amongst those on HN is generally, to look at Snowden's disclosures as a positive thing ( I agree ) should not be used as an excuse to adopt a position that is impervious to criticism.
While the culture for raising concerns in government organizations (especially ones dealing with security) may be bad, and the protections afforded to whistle-blowers lacking - to report on these without calling into doubt the claims that Snowden actually did make is dishonest. The litmus test for this is as with scientific publishing which has commercial/political purpose; what would they have published if evidence showed the opposite? Without a doubt it would be numerous media headlines with Snowden's formal complaints suppressed in government conspiracy or something along those lines. Even worse they wrote a title which actually suggests the later, even when the current evidence would point to Snowden's claims lacking foundation.
> I understand your point, but I think you're misreading the situation a bit.
I don't know if this argument is an example of planned deception or spontaneous, but I can give you the general logical form of the type of argument that is being made.
1) A is a True. Evidence will show that...
2) Evidence does not support A.
3) B is True. Why are we talking about A!? B is the crucial issue at hand!
I would assume that he (Snowden) had to talk to someone about blowing the whistle to know he wasn't covered before he did it. He didn't just pull these facts out of his ass. The question is who did he speak to, and what was the context and color of that conversation.
Edited to correct smartphone auto-"correct" typos
One thing that jumps out at me as a new understanding of the situation is a kind of mutually-sympathetic view as to how both parties got to where they were.
If you take all the direct statements from both sides as true, then one question is: do we have a plausible story that could have occurred? I'd say so based solely on this article.
To me, I am imagining Mr. Snowden who has significant ethical concerns. Or as is suggested in kind of a classic 'newspeak' bit of advice by the NSA 'process' concerns.
And, as he digs in a little, he learns:
* He has no real protection for whistleblowing, or at least he has even less protection than some other whistleblowers, whose lives are essentially shit.
* The training materials are at best outdated, and if you're inclined to be untrusting, teach people they have legal rights which have expired. Presumably he had become well educated on these laws, and so felt upset when he answered the training test per actual active law, and then failed.
* There is no real culture of concern for uncovering and fixing these gaps.
In addition, the NSA docs say he hadn't been briefed on any methods he could engage with whistleblowing-type concerns.
It's also pretty obvious that those concerns would have been quashed. There has never been, to my knowledge, a public NSA statement that his ethics ("process") complaints had merit.
So, in that world, he made his choices, and he and we live in the world shaped by the consequences of those choices.
On the other side, you have a group of people who felt they were doing the right thing -- good people trying hard in the cause of nationalism and safety -- and just have typical organizational slippage. Nothing nefarious.
And they feel targeted by a very junior contractor with a chip on his shoulder. The e-mails are like "Wait, we train them who to call with concerns. .. Um, well we're supposed to, but schedules are tight lately. So he didn't get that training. ... Yeah, so is there a problem with that 702 test? No, that's just someone junior complaining. People who work here know the drill. That's totally immaterial bitching from someone who's salty about failing. Did he actually raise a big stink about these process concerns? Well, I found this one clarification e-mail. Nothing like what he claims. Are there more? I dunno."
So, maybe there's some whole internal investigation and response that was triggered that's not being released under this FOIA. But it seems to me like both parties could be telling the truth as they see it, at least up to the point that the PR folks get involved and add spin, there's plenty of spin. But, the fundamentals seem to me to be comprehensible from either side.