Thoughtful people brave enough to blow whistles seem to be the greatest check on what looks like a secret, unaccountable, illegal centralization of power based on lies from the top of the government on down.
Many powerful people will see him otherwise. I shudder to think of what will become of him, though I'm sure we'll see it played out in headlines.
Whistle-blowers are not our only defense, however, as we all have power too, for example contributing to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF):
"His allegiance to internet freedom is reflected in the stickers on his laptop: "I support Online Rights: Electronic Frontier Foundation," reads one. Another hails the online organisation offering anonymity, the Tor Project."
My personal favorite is the Freedombox project: https://www.freedomboxfoundation.org/learn
(By the way, I don't know about anybody else, but for the first time I can think of, I'm seriously concerned about the consequences of posting support for somebody like this online. I don't know how things will play out years down the road and who will do what with this information.)
EDIT: Followed up by posting the above on my blog -- http://joshuaspodek.com -- based on comments below.
I don't know about you, but that's a chance I'm willing to take. As far as I'm concerned, Edward Snowden is an American hero and deserves a medal and a ticker-tape parade before he deserves to spend the rest of his life on the run, and possibly ultimately in a jail cell, or having his life taken prematurely by US operatives.
I think he did the right thing though, by going public. Presumably he knew the odds that "they" would track him down anyway, and by going public he has a chance to leverage popular public sentiment as a shield of sorts. As he says, it's a tactic to keep them from "going dirty". He might still wind up in jail, but there's a better chance now that they'll have to deal with him through ordinary judicial means, and (hopefully) no torture, or secret imprisonment at Guantanamo or whatever.
Hopefully Iceland (or maybe Ecuador!) will grant him political asylum and give him a shot at a semi-normal life, albeit far from his original home.
Postscript: To any NSA / CIA / FBI / etc. spooks who are reading this - blow me.
It is easy to feel anger towards those we perceive as oppressors, but if this nascent movement (I hope it is a movement!) is to have any success, thoughts like these from Gandhi should not be forgotten:
Real noncooperation is noncooperation with evil and not with the evil doer.
Noncooperation is not a hymn of hate.
My noncooperation is with methods and systems, never with men.
Noncompliance and noncooperation have a time and a place. We must avoid the temptation of viewing them as silver bullets simply because we find them pleasant, easy to stomach.
The struggle then becomes one about respect and cooperation, without which no government can last, for even the greatest tyranny is executed not by one man giving orders but by everyone cooperating. The underdog struggles to inspire others. The state struggles to keep the facade of legitimacy. Sometimes the words "you are no longer our legitimate government" are stronger than all the guns in the world.
Imagine if half the country suddenly decided to no longer respect American law. They refused to pay taxes, obey traffic law, etc. What would the government do? In the end, they wouldn't be able to do anything. Once you understand that proposition, Gandhi's methods start looking a lot less gentle and a lot more dangerous.
Start beating the shit out of people, killing them, etc., etc. and the people would very quickly relent.
So the question you have to ask yourself, before non-violently resisting, is whether your oppressors will beat themselves or you down faster.
For those wondering what we are talking about: http://hpmor.com/
(p.s. Fawkes and Azkaban. Damn that shit got real.)
Just look for the hero Churchill's view of Indians on the web.
But yeah, "stuff I read in fan fiction" is on the lowest tier of my information-trust-chart. I'm a bit curious about why the British did give up on colonies. Was there really a sea change in British public opinion over the course of the World Wars? Was it a moral decision or an economic one? I could think of a dozen of reasons, which makes none of them worth speculating about aloud, but honestly this part of history is also pretty low on my reading list...
Oh, and the story is shit. One of the better reviews of the fic that I've read: http://www.reddit.com/r/HPfanfiction/comments/u5j3l/looking_...
Though the repercussions remain to be seen, this week we find that leaking is possibly the most effective form of protest available today, and certainly more effective than picket signs and camping in parks.
If the leaker had any chance of remaining secret, then I think I would say that the leaker should choose to remain secret, and in doing so live to fight another day. On the other hand, if the leaker suspects that they will be uncovered regardless, it is probably best to choose the circumstances of your unveiling.
They aren't leakers or really protestors, but it is for the best that the Dread Pirate Roberts remain anonymous. If they had to go public though, it would be better for the headline to be on CNN: "Silk Road Founder [Whoever] Says/Does [Whatever]" rather than, on local news: "Local drug kingpin arrested today. Then later: How little Timmy rescued a kitten."
Leaving aside the fact that this is still evolving, how do you propose to measure that effectiveness?
I have nothing against today's English people, they are terrific people. But, Imperialism as a culture should stay consigned in the dustbin of history - it makes monsters out of ordinary men. It should never be revived again with terrorism and national security as future excuses.
Just one example of something that goes beyond Gandhi's approval (which may or may not be necessary in this particular case) is targeted industrial sabotage. Carefully calculated and restrained violence against property and information systems, not against people. Gandhi thought that sabotage put his effort back; perhaps he is correct. However it is hard to deny the valuable role sabotage has played in other conflicts.
This recent comment resonated with me:
"I'm French. France was occupied by Nazi Germany (as every American I ever speak to likes to remind me).
Resistants were ordinary French people who blew up trains in order to make the life of Germans in France as difficult as possible -- and of course German propaganda called them terrorists. I'm not putting this word in quotes, because of course that's what they were. They were trying to terrify the occupiers. It was a good thing." -- https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5846266
Now plainly I am not advocating that we should start blowing up bridges, or that blowing up bridges might become necessary in some foreseeable immediate future. We are not occupied by a foreign force that is sending our neighbors to death camps. I reference this merely to make the point that the reach of Gandhi's tactics do have a limit.
Edit: Not sure why you deleted your comment. It was a very fair question.
Whether it would be effective for non-believers (i.e. the people who aren't willing to put their lives on the line) against other regimes is hard to say. I'm not sure it has been tested outside of India or ever will be, since it requires suicidal amounts of willpower to follow through.
So, while not advocating suicide-by-aggressor civil disobedience, I also think it's purely speculation as to what would happen if it were tried on a large scale. Closest thing that comes to mind is the Tiananmen square tank man, and that was one guy.
Gandhi's methods have been tested outside of India, perhaps most famously during the civil rights era in the US (if we write off the influence of those who were not wed to nonviolence and noncompliance). In that case they had the benefit of an interested party that consisted of a double-digit percentage of the population (and a far greater percentage in areas with particularly egregious issues.)
The problem with advocating noncompliance and nonviolence is that if you miscalculate the breadth of your support or your oppositions capacity for violence, then not only will you have accomplished nothing but you will have actually damaged your cause by removing yourself from it.
As a radicalized person, there cannot even be futile resistance, because if the violent people were to kill all of their enemies, there wouldn't be any violence left to commit. If so, mission accomplished. It's very much a love thine enemy philosophy.
When I say that Gandhi's methods haven't been tested outside of India, I'm referring to people passively offering up their lives to the state. Did this really happen during the civil rights movement?
Personally I believe that this kind of self-sacrifice is not worth it, even if change is effected.
Nonviolence is not a goal for me. I consider it a tool with limited application. Failing to build a doghouse with a hammer, instead of successfully building the doghouse with a screwdrivers, is nothing to be proud of. The doghouse is what I am interested in, not the application of hammers.
Or to put it in more concrete terms, the world would not be a better place had the French Resistance chosen to adopt nonviolent noncompliance. Their acts of violence were, without any question, justified and "worth it".
And yes, people were absolutely putting their lives at risk during the civil rights era. People were being beaten and in many cases, killed.
It's not about what you build with the hammer that matters to this person. It's that he consistently uses the hammer regardless of what is built or how efficiently it is accomplished, because he believes using the hammer to be the true way of life and far more important than the product being created. By using a more suitable tool he believes that he has already lost.
It's a zen thing.
Had the French Resistance decided that the principles of nonviolence and noncompliance were more important than killing german officers and blowing up trains, then I would think far less of them. If he thinks that they lost the moment they used violence and sabotage, then I think he is wrong.
Edit: I disagree with Gandhi, not him.
If acting according to your beliefs is selfish... well then aren't we all selfish (arguably true)?
Don't be too hasty to judge.
I don't think that Gandhi's writings espouse a general abhorrence of violence or even sabotage. They represent however a willingness to stand above such methods, and to be heroic in every little thing. The salt protest is perhaps a great example. The message is "I don't need to sabotage you because you cannot break me."
The distinction between violence and non-violence is a remarkably difficult one to make. Punching someone in the gut is undeniably violent, but what about deeply insulting a person's character? Why do we draw a line between those? Why is it that razing a bridge is violent but sitting down in the revolving door of a business establishment preventing customers from entering not? So-called non-violent resistance tends to eschew deliberate and overt outward and tangible violence for a more subtle but even more important battleground, that of morale based on legitimacy and the moral high ground.
> I reference this merely to make the point that the reach of Gandhi's tactics do have a limit.
But here's the real dirty secret. It doesn't matter who is in power, the average everyday decisions are made by individuals, and foreign powers rely very heavily on local support. I won't second guess the French resistance (and I don't think Gandhi would have either), but I think it is dangerous to opine what would have happened given that Germany was not really in a position to dedicate a lot of force to France (given that their military was somewhat occupied elsewhere). Both Ghandi and the French Resistance existed in cases where foreign powers were dominating, in a mixture of positive and negative ways, but where the foreign power could not reasonably dedicate significant military forces to reconquer the area. WWII effectively destroyed Great Britain as a world superpower largely due to the toll the Battle of the Atlantic had on their navy. Germans may have been ruthless (look up the night and fog decrees), and they were very careful not to allow visible resistance show up, but that itself can make it a more effective protest. They can't throw all of France in the death camps can they?
Now, things like drones are problems because they are force multipliers. If one person can control several drones at once, it means less people need to be making the decisions but I am not sure what that will mean yet.
He's a hero. Putting the word American in there is very, well, American. The NSA has done a lot worse by foreigners than Americans.
There's absolutely nothing unique about inserting the nationality of a hero that relates to Americans. I see it done regularly by citizens of other countries. In my observation, national pride is nearly universal.
In my observation, it might be universal, but its degree varies greatly, with americans on the high end of the scale.
Nobody would say "a Greek hero".
"A hero of Greece"
"A national hero"
"A hero to the fatherland"
"A hero to the people"
It isn't that untypical. Microsoft, Google, and (to a lesser extent) Facebook have famously hired many high school dropouts.
> Why was Booz Allen paying him (again, as a dropout) $200k for a sysadmin job? Were they?
Because competent sysadmins are hard to find. I'm not at all surprised by this, heck, I got offered $100k for a sysadmin job despite (by my own estimation) not being a very competent sysadmin.
> Why did he choose Hong Kong?
He mentioned the reasons in the interview. But, consider also that he's been working for intelligence agencies for quite some years and thus probably has a better idea of the realities of 'freedom of speech' and surveillance technologies than a lot of us outside it.
edit: it's too bad you deleted your comment -- probably because of the downvotes? I wish you hadn't -- disagreements need to take place for meaningful discussion to happen. Also it breaks the conversation and makes it harder to follow.
"So...you do it too. hahaha. But seriously, I never want to hear this 'spying on your own citizens' crap again. It was funny before, but now it's pathetic."
"Most favored nations give us a hand, from time to time. I would appreciate it as a personal favor if you would put this guy on a plane."
No matter if you're CIA, Google, or Facebook, you're still competing against each other to find competent sysadmins from the same pool of limited applicants. When a promising applicant finally lands in your hands, you don't dismiss him just because he doesn't have a piece of paper.
> That's not a surprising figure to me, but $200k is
That's a nice perk, along with Hawaii relocation isn't it. It's basically a little something to make his life so comfortable that when the decision to be a whistle-blower is being measured, the amenities are a factor in the equation against it.
2. He's a college drop out, not a high school drop out (or at least that how it reads to me - a non-US citizen. I may have misunderstood how your education system works). Also, his family also works for government agencies, so that probably added weight to his application.
3. Because of the secrecy of his job and the clearance he had. It doesn't sound to me like he was your typical sysadmin.
4. He actually addressed that one himself: 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.
I can actually sympathize with your skepticism there. Some bits of his story does sound quite hard to swallow. But on the whole I'd say his story seems more plausible than made up. Personally I find it less likely that the US government aren't recording and monitoring that amount of traffic, even if the whistle blower does turn out to be a hoax. And I'm sure many other "democratic" counties are doing the same as well. We've seen how the content industry can basically buy police time and have servers taken unlawfully (in the case of Kim Dotcom) - so I'd be astonished if the government themselves didn't have even further reaching powers.
edit: I really wish you hadn't deleted your comment because while some of the questions had already been answered in the Guardians report, you did raise some worthwhile points. I just hope it wasn't kneejerk down-voters that made you choose to delete your comment (as such voting -in my opinion- hinders discussion)
"His understanding of the internet and his talent for computer programming enabled him to rise fairly quickly for someone who lacked even a high school diploma."
"In order to get the credits necessary to obtain a high school diploma, he attended a community college in Maryland, studying computing, but never completed the coursework. (He later obtained his GED.)"
Presumably he obtained his GED at some time after he joined the CIA (when he lacked a high school diploma).
Of course from a semantic perspective you could argue having dropped out of high school he is and forever will be a high school drop out. But as I understand it this is not the traditional way the term "high school drop out" is used.
Or does your education system not work this way? ie once you've dropped out of high school, you're permanently branded a "drop out" even if you later complete your high school diploma?
My country's high schools operate very differently, so the confusion here might be cultural. But in higher education you can leave college / university and later return to complete the course and not be considered a "drop out"
A high-school diploma or GED is generally acquired by the age of 18 in the US, and a GED is often the result of a student "dropping out" of high-school for whatever reason and then continuing their education at that point or at a later time.
A college is generally a small post-secondary educational institution either dedicated to a specific subject matter or a general liberal arts education. A university consists of at least two colleges.
And then we have "for-profit" post-secondary institutions like ITT Tech or University of Phoenix that are run as corporations and often target "non-traditional" students such as working students, parents, and older students. Confusing, I know.
1) He's not on the GS schedule because he's a contractor
2) His clearance level
3) He works for one of the big 5 consulting firms that is considerably higher on the list if you rank by government/CIA/NSA engagements.
As a federal employee, you don't get a multiplying factor for having higher clearance. You merely get to have the job. You actually get a higher boost from living in an area with a locality adjustment due to cost of living adjustments.
The last paragraph of your comment expresses a fear that is rational, but one that we need to abandon as a community. If we are afraid to even post support for a controversial cause on the internet, then we are already lost.
We do not all need to be whistleblowers. We can champion liberty and freedom of privacy in our own ways. The first step is being brave enough to stand up for what is right, no matter who we are, no matter how apparently small our sphere of influence is.
The government should be at the mercy of the vox populi, not vice versa. It is our duty - our inalienable right - to support and rally for those who care more about the triumph of democracy and liberty than their own safety.
My father (who grew up in Communist Romania) has been warning me about all the stuff I post online for over a decade now... and the reason I keep doing it is precisely that.
I've thought the same thing many times. I think there is really no choice since I don't want to live under a dictatorship, and if I don't voice my opinion I keep thinking about it. So it's better to voice what you think, then go back to work. I feel like at least I'm doing my part.
this is exactly what's so scary. people have to think about posting on Hacker News.
That is why the internet is the greatest opportunity to free ourselves finally from oppression, and also an opportunity if we let them for authoritarians to clamp down on us if we ignore them.
Some people are born fearful and they cower their whole lives. Others of these fearful seek to control, by any means necessary. It is up to those of us that can stand up, even in small ways, and provide an example to all.
So yeah, it's just some internet posts right now. But it's also much more than that in the aggregate.
CIA for example looks for devoted and patriotic people more than they look for capable people. They figure they can teach whatever is needed as a special internal course but they can't teach patriotism. So for example they love to hire ex Marines, they are considered patriotic.
Now patriotism is a double edged sword. It works well if the government and agencies are honest and transparent. Patriotic people working in such systems might accept a lower pay but they know they are helping their country. When that start to go south and they start seeing shady things going on they have a choice:
1) Rationalize participating in un-patriotic things (illegal search for ex)
2) Fight against it by leaving the agency or
3) Fight against it by going public and exposing it
Most people probably end up choosing 1). Few choose 2) and only select individuals choose 3).
In more conventional settings, standard patriotism is intrinsically nationalistic and often based on race, which makes things easier for operative agencies (so to speak). Here in Europe, "patriotism" could hardly ever be invoked as basis for subversive acts or whistleblowing in a security setting.
You can be a supporter of the EFF and believe that the work the NSA is doing is necessary and good for the country. I worked on Lawful Interception systems and I had no problem with their use as long as a COMPETENT COURT was the one regulating it.
On the other hand, maybe big data fishing is the most effective method.
I think he makes some good points.
I don't think the NSA views itself as a facilitator for "turnkey tyranny", just yet. If you think you're fighting for freedom, then why wouldn't you hire people that feel the same?
Maybe this whole thing will help wake people across all levels of the CIA and the NSA, and there just might be some actual change.
I know, I'm dreaming. But clearly I'm not the only one.
It's telling, and terrifying, that this is a rational and common concern. Put plainly, it means we fear for the dissolution of our free society (yes, I believe we still live in one).
Well, at the very least, don't bother sending your CV to Booz Allen Hamilton, Palantir, etc. Also, fuck these assholes. Seriously, is there anything worse than this?
I've never heard anything more naive than trying to change a corporation as a new hire, as a small cog in a giant machine.
But that would exclude a lot more companies, many of which employ a lot of regular HN-users. Anything can be rationalized for a paycheck.
And although I've managed to steer clear so far, I'm not claiming to be any better.
Especially so when you see the oversight committee receive a bald-faced lie, where the leader of the Intelligence agencies lies to the American people by extension, since this is the only public oversight these programs receive.
Welcome to the land of the freedom in witch people is afraid of speaking their mind!
There will be a time where policies will change, because the only thing which restricts the activites of the surveillance state are policy, even our agreements with other sovereign governments; we consider that to be a stipulation of policy, rather than a stipulation of law. And because of that, a new leader will be elected, they'll flip the switch, say that because of the crisis, because of the dangers that we face in the world, some new and unpredicted threat, we need more authority, we need more power, and there will be nothing the people can do at that point to oppose it. It will be turnkey tyranny.
- Edward Snowden
Some strong allegations here - that anyone is fair game for surveillance by the NSA, and that there is indiscriminate tapping of communications. Also some strong justifications for blowing the whistle on these activities.
A hero for our times.
you hit the key point. You don't need to be much of a student of history to know that at some point there's going to be someone who's all to willing to abuse these powers.
In Dulles UAL lounge listening to 4 US intel officials saying loudly leaker & reporter on #NSA stuff should be disappeared recorded a bit
— Steve Clemons (@SCClemons) June 8, 2013
A: "Someone responded to the story said 'real spies do not speak like that'. Well, I am a spy and that is how they talk. Whenever we had a debate in the office on how to handle crimes, they do not defend due process – they defend decisive action. They say it is better to kick someone out of a plane than let these people have a day in court. It is an authoritarian mindset in general."
-From the written Q & A, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/09/nsa-whistleblowe...
The tweet by Steve Clemons- https://twitter.com/SCClemons/status/343392529913356289
Of course it's shit talk and it's not going to happen. That wasn't the point though. The point was about the attitude.
If the CIA is filled with officers who give out their real names to every corporate chain that asks nicely, do you really think they're smart enough to keep their mouth shut in public?
I'm not easily emotional but reading this article I had some heart bumps and wanted to cry. I'm speechless.
Thank You Edward Snowden for your act of heroism, the present will certainly condemn you but the history will certainly remind with honor people like you who made progress our currently deficient democracies.
I think that's really down to us, don't you? The US Government will certainly condemn his actions, but I doubt many of the public will.
e.g. the police weren't able to find the coked-up hit-and-run driver who crippled my adorable child but I'd recognize his face anywhere, and that guy on TV is him for sure.
Exemplary. I am glad that men like he exist, bur I am genuinely fearful for his safety. Look what happened to Bradley Manning.
I think it was a good thing that he revealed his identity so as to speak with authority and be representative of the current events.
But I also believe it was done too early and too carelessly - the government now knows exactly where to look for the leak and prosecute him to the fullest extent of the law.
I disagree. We have the technology to allow people to speak with authority and be representative with the protection of anonymacy (or pseudonimity). I find his courage admirable, but I still think it is a bit of a waste.
By the way, I suggest you watch this guy's speech. It's pretty powerful, especially if you're an American:
I can only hope that's how all Americans are feeling right now, because that's needed if things are going to change.
Hopefully, both Snowden and Greenwald have put several dead man's switches into effect to ensure the continued leaking of information regardless of whatever attempts the intelligence community make against their lives or credibility.
I'm hoping that future leaked information includes accounts of wiretapping judges, economic espionage and wiretapping of legitimate pacifist activist groups. i.e. enough information to completely destroy the argument that this system is about catching terrorists.
So what's next ?
The CIA will want to have a word with him before they decide what their next move will be because he's holding the cards and they don't know what they look like.
Let's stand up quickly for this hero before it's too late.
Your nervousness is NOTHING compared to what he felt while deciding whether or not to release this. Share his burden.
This seems commendable.
But I'm even more impressed he's unveiled himself, which takes incredible bravery even if you assume every protection of due process is available to you.
Shame on us if we don't act and let this man's sacrifice go to waste.
So many questions, so few answers. Hopefully the coming weeks sheds more light onto this.
Is there any particular reason why you don't believe the fact sheet from the Director of National Intelligence or Marc Ambinder?
According to these sources (selected excerpts):
> PRISM is not an undisclosed collection or data mining program.
> PRISM is a kick-ass GUI that allows an analyst to look at, collate, monitor, and cross-check different data types provided to the NSA from internet companies located inside the United States.
> All such information is obtained with FISA Court approval and with the knowledge of the provider based upon a written directive from the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence.
More recently he also claimed that PRISM wasn't a previous-disclosed data collection program. It hadn't been previously disclosed before; and it is collecting data.
So, let me turn this around. Is there any particular reason why you do believe him?
Marc Ambinder's article, by contrast, is quite believable. But going beyond the quote you pulled, he also has lists quite a few open questions about PRISM collecting data on US persons. So it seems to me that we're still a long way from the bottom.
The grammar here is slightly confusing. Do you believe PRISM is collecting data in a previously undisclosed way? If so, why?
It is all "legal" in a sense that there are court orders, but there are no real checks as the orders are blanket ones.
Moreover, to read your mail older than 180 days from any provider according to the current laws they don't need any order at all to do it legally:
Let's see if "it's legal" as said by those you quote simply means "we don't need to ask anybody for permission" and "every three months we get from our court the permission to do anything." The fact is that they use such arguments, let's see the extent of it. The recent news seem to suggest that it's bigger that it was known up to now.
Holy shit that was a bad choice for many reasons. I can't think of a worse place to go, other than Russia or Iran with respect to the intense desire of those nations to extract as many secrets about NSA capabilities as possible. These are the most secret of the secret capabilities of US intelligence. He even boasted that he knows many more secrets that he himself took care to censor unlike Bradley Manning. I think China will be very interested in hearing those redacted snippets.
Secondly, if he ends up revealing sensitive information to these countries, any sympathy from the US population will turn into calls for frying him as a traitor. Going to China makes him into a Rosenberg.
This guy doesn't seem very smart at all. And using pillow cases and shields over screens to stop the NSA? You're telling me this guy doesn't know what TEMPEST is? Didn't he see Gene Hackman in Enemy of the State? You need a Faraday Cage.
I think he made one of the best choices he could but, as he says, he can't ensure his own safety anywhere really.
China has been engaged in massive cyber espionage themselves. Everyone knows it, but no one can prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt, so they keep denying it, and nothing of consequence happens.
They could whisk Snowden off to a secret interrogation site, and then blame the CIA and say the US government snatched him. Who is the media going to believe and who can prove otherwise?
This guy doesn't seem very smart at all. And using pillow cases and shields over screens to stop the NSA?
"I had access to the full rosters of everyone working in the NSA, the entire intelligence community and undercover assets all around the world, the locations of every station, we have what their missions are"
Wow, is this guy for real? It sounds crazy.
> "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."
It's not self-interested in that way, really - had he chosen to be anonymous (and never been found out) then that logic could work, but with where his life is now, surely what the NSA does in America will pretty much never be relevant to him personally ever again. And he must realise this himself, so I wonder why he used those words - I guess modesty (or perhaps false modesty), but would have thought he could have come up with a better way of being modest.
Maybe his motive was fame, maybe it was doing the right thing, hell maybe he was depressed and looking for some excitement in his life. Doesn't really matter to anyone except himself, and people should consider him a hero or not based on whether they agree with what he did, not why he did it.
And I'd certainly call him a hero.
As to reasons for outing himself, if he didn't want fame, etc., then even assuming no assassination, if he were discovered and prosecuted the right way (by which I mean, by the law, not right as in I think he should be prosecuted), then chances are that by speaking to the media first (which he sure wouldn't be allowed to do after being caught) he has a better chance of getting the public to support him.
HK is a strange land, but it's not lawless and has enough political peculiarities to be a good bet -- maybe not as good as Iceland (I don't understand why he didn't he go there in the first place, tbh) but one of the best. It certainly beats a windowless room in an Ecuadorean embassy.
Furthermore Hong Kong specifially is somewhat independent from China when it comes to oppression.
I also wouldn't be surprised, if a NSA analyst with that clearance level travelling to Iceland would raise a couple of red flags.
I think it's telling that Hong Kong is not in any way, shape, or form on the way from Hawaii to Iceland.
If that doesn't scare you and you still think "I have nothing to hide, nor will I have anything to hide in the next 2 decades or more", then maybe Americans will deserve whatever is coming their way.
Just know that the worse this gets, the harder it will be to get on the right path again, because it's very hard to change an oppressive government and an oppressive culture, once you get to that point. And the worse the "solution" will have to be to fix things.
“It’s important for the committee to recognize people who are struggling and idealistic,” Mr. Jagland said in an interview after the prize was announced, “but we cannot do that every year. We must from time to time go into the realm of realpolitik. It is always a mix of idealism and realpolitik that can change the world.”
But Mr. Jagland seemed to savor the risk. He said no one could deny that “the international climate” had suddenly improved, and that Mr. Obama was the main reason.
Of the president’s future, he said: “There is great potential. But it depends on how the other political leaders respond. If they respond negatively, one might have to say he failed. But at least we want to embrace the message that he stands for.”
I don't see this as a negative thing.
Unfortunately, with every Manning or Snowden that does their job there is one more person to be made an example out of to show future wanna-be whistle blowers what happens when you embarrass your three-lettered employer like this.
I wish Edward Snowden a lot of good luck in the near future, and I wished he'd chosen Iceland instead of Hong-Kong as his place to hang out.
Also, isn't there a large risk that someone at the bottom of the chain grossly misunderstands the materials he is leaking?
IT needs to have access to all systems to install patches and such, strategic decision makers just have access to need-to-know.
The KGB would always try to recruit people that ran the copy room and mail room. Now IT is probably the biggest target.
I don't understand why a low level IT person needs so much access though beyond a need to fix systems - there's no audit control on who is accessing these systems?
There was no real access and audit control with Bradley Manning, just unprotected SAMBA shares that contained sensitive data but not Secret data. Top Secret systems do tend to have an audit trail (I think it is required along with encryption) but I would expect that such systems can be accessed at a lower level by IT. For instance pulling a backup drive and associated keys to recover lost data from a "malfunctioning server". IT often has to work at a level below the level that you places security safe guards at. I'd bet 1000 dollars that the foreign intelligence agencies have friendly IT workers at the NSA that give them full spectrum access.
tl;dr Either you have IT that can do their job or you have systems which are secure against IT, you can't have both.
Disclaimer: I know this stuff from reading books and informal chats with people at tech companies, please apply salt to taste.
To have access to all the stuff he has, he must have top-secret classification and he might be be part of few Special access programs (SAP). Having already classification and begin part of relevant SAP's when working in CIA/NSA might make him very valuable for private companies.
For now I'll stick with Occum's Razor - the guy had no idea what he was looking at and assumed the worst.
By making sure the public knows who he is, where he is, and what he stands for Edward Snowden has (hopefully) protected himself from the more nefarious things American intelligence services may do to capture him by making them impractical for the sake of public relations. China would no doubt be upset if CIA agents nabbed him from a Hong Kong hotel. Plus, his fame gives an incentive to nations to give him political asylum if they want to make a political statement against the U.S.
"...My predisposition is to seek asylum in a country with shared values. The nation that most encompasses this is Iceland. They stood up for people over internet freedom. I have no idea what my future is going to be. ..."
I personally am against granting TS clearances to anyone under ~30 and S to anyone under ~25 due to the difficulty in doing background investigations on people of young age (illegal to bring in stuff before 18, and it's really hard to get useful information on pre-workforce people, both lots of false positives and false negatives).
I would have suspected someone like Binney (older, political setbacks) or someone much younger (PFC Manning).
From the video, it sounds like he was just ground-down by the cavalier attitude of the people around him towards the citizens whose privacy they were entrusted with. Eventually he couldn't reconcile that anymore with his internal moral compass, and so he leaked it and figured "let the American people decide". I don't get the sense of personal insecurity from him that you assume with many other people who blow the whistle.
I am glad his disclosures seemed at least somewhat contained, unlike PFC Manning.
He might as well have destroyed all the incriminating data and admitted himself to Guantanamo of his own accord for all the good that would do.
Yesterday I made a snarky comment about how nobody believes this whistleblower will lead a long and untroubled life, and while that's true it's not the point. This guy is a hero in my book for doing this, and I am very happy to see he seems like a very balanced and normal person.
Theme Parks Let In the V.I.P.’s
A Story about the price of tickets at theme parks.
You're right about NBC. Their current headline:
>Game of spoilers: Did Twitter kill DVRs?
Which is a piece expressing some TV viewers' outrage that tweets spoiled an episode of Game of Thrones for them.
 - http://www.cnn.com/2013/06/09/politics/nsa-leak-identity/ind...
NBC just seems to not have a lot of up to the minute content there (I would be pretty surprised if they do not cover it).
Men of stainless character will easily inspire confidence and automatically purify the atmosphere around them.
a) Everything is legal and backed by the population, then the NSA didn't have anything to hide.
b) The NSAs concedes that some people and organizations have a legitimate interest in some privacy.
I don't get why he did it either. Gave it up that is. Depending on how many people had access to that cross section of docs - and considering how ineffective companies and govs usually are at segmenting info I imagine that's quite broad - he could reasonably have hoped to avoid retaliation.
What's needed are successful, principled people like those reading HN to get involved, and start mounting campaigns to ultimately defeat people in Congress that egregiously curtail our freedoms and liberties. They must be idealistic, rational, vocal, and be prepared to mount a vigorous fight and debate to stop these violations. The politicians are easy to identify, as they advocate perpetual increases in national security at any cost, for the sake of "keeping us safe." The hacker community would back you. I would.
Elon Musk has said many times that the people respond best to precedents and superlatives. It's up to us to effect change and talk about it as much as possible, with friends, in our blogs, and our websites. People are receptive to successful people, because they've shown that they can achieve and better themselves.
We need a philosophical and cultural revolution in awareness, purpose, and identity. How can it be done?
We must use our power as citizens and right these wrongs.
This is so sad. People really do believe what windbag politicians tell them on TV and what paid talking heads on the same TV tell about them. It's not like every single politician being elected promises to right all wrongs and fix all evils. I can't even begin to get why seemingly intelligent people thought this particular time is any different from hundreds of times before.