Playing devil's advocate here, and watched a bunch of spy movies...
What if Snowden is still a CIA agent (he was a CIA agent for years before NSA) and this is actually a snowjob/whitewash by the government to deflect attention or essentially control the message about news they knew would be released (diffusing that/controlling that message) and black-ops about China, Russia, Cuba + Venezuela how they treat/process possible 'traitors' or spies?
I hope that is not the case and he is sincere, it would be great if the US could just pardon him and address our Constitutional issues. But if they pardon him doesn't the above seem like an outside possibility?
Or am I reading too much Tom Clancy and watching too many spy movies?
It does seem most whistleblowers are swept under the rug but here you have one that is garnering lots of news and attracting lots of attention across multiple weeks/weekends to things that were previously labeled 'conspiracy' or only seen in movies (yet have been in the news quietly before, since 9/11). Now it is international news everywhere. He is almost the perfect leaker, making more waves than all combined.
Ill go a step further. Snowmen is really a bellwether event created by this administration to either provide a redemption story for the Obama administration, should the public object too strongly-- or to test if surveillance can be taken much farther (if the public remains apathetic)
The only thing I might agree with is that this may be a bellwether event.
It's not useful scrounging up, uh, conspiracy theories for how it happened unless there is evidence.
The only argument you're invoking is abduction - that no other approach fits the facts. But the thing about the NSA is the level of spying and power that's demonstrated gives a strong indication they just don't have much reason to care what the public thinks. The average NSA bureaucrat isn't worried about the public at all but what argument their boss or colleague will use against them. And letting out information goes so hard against the default impulse that letting information out intentionally seems way unlikely, even as part of a clever master plan. I mean, if we're wandering to wild speculation land, the NSA has dozens of potential master plans. One that releases information and makes them look bad wouldn't do well in the "master-plan competition" - held yearly at Area 51!
Maybe Obama is deeply opposed to the whole thing himself, but it's so entrenched he couldn't really do anything about it. Think of how he gets blocked routinely in the public view and imagine what cut throat stuff must be going on behind the scenes. So maybe this is a way to do an end run around whoever is keeping these shenanigans in place.
This is almost certainly not the case, but that's the answer that came to mind when you asked the question.
At this point, it's the only way I would still be able to justify not being disappointed in him. My hope is that given the obstructionism he's experienced over the last four years, he's trying a bit of jujitsu to use his political enemies' weight against themselves. His base complained that he wasn't doing anything on DADT (i.e. an executive order, which could be overturned under a republican administration) and he had to basically keep quiet until he got the permanent repeal behind the scenes.
That being said, I'd be surprised if that were the case here. But a man can hope.
Agreed. Ever since this thing broke, I've been pretty skeptical about how this is unfolding.
One thing about spy movies and the CIA, they're truly masters of misdirection. While you're watching the world fawn over Snowden and what he's done and the fallout, you can bet these people are still 4 steps ahead, planning and plotting their next move.
>>you can bet these people are still 4 steps ahead, planning and plotting their next move.
Who? The government? That is like believing that super advanced weapons have been developed by the government that no other scientist/engineers could hope to replicate because the Science and technology are so ahead of their time (i.e. 50 or 100 years).
There is nothing to add, as it wasn't a discussion. You put forward the assertion that the entire thing is a hoax and that Snowden is a Chinese spy. You provided absolutely zero evidence. And you expect me to "add to the discussion?" What a joke.
I'm still waiting on Snowden to provide evidence of the NSA breaking the 4th amendment and illegally spying on the American people. For all the panic and the republication of old stories about the NSA, it is Snowden who has provided absolutely zero evidence.
What we do have is that Snowden copied a large cache of thousands of sensitive documents and gave them to who-knows-who. Suddenly countries that position themselves as enemies of the US are very happy to help him out, and he is happy to accept their assistance. In between, there was a public relations campaign to call him a "whistleblower" even though that is not what he did. The documents provided as supporting evidence do not say what Glenn Greenwald's reports say they do, while the journalists who have reported on these programs before are all facepalming at how wrong Greenwald's reporting has been.
So yes, it looks like the entire thing is a hoax and Snowden is a spy. YHBT by Glenn Greenwald and whoever else was involved. YHL. HAND.
The NSA secured an order from the FISC directing Verizon to turn over metadata on all calls made within the US, which includes data about the location of their customers' mobile phones. The Supreme Court has ruled that long-term tracking requires a warrant. The decision was unanimous, but split as to reasoning. The majority held that such tracking without a warrant violates the 4th amendment. It is quite likely that obtaining phone records for the purpose of tracking location has the same legal status.
> I'm still waiting on Snowden to provide evidence of the NSA breaking the 4th amendment and illegally spying on the American people.
Recording meta-data of phone calls and certainly the phone calls themselves, is a gross violation of the 4th amendment and the people's right "to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures".
And that is true regardless of what a pack of jackasses appointed to some court have decided and it is still true regardless of what a pack of jackasses elected to congress think. I'll even include the president, just for you.
I'll even go so far as to say that this right isn't even dependent on what a bunch of jackasses happen to think on the Internet. Crazy, I know.
My right is absolute and independent of what anyone else thinks. It is a right given to all human beings by God himself. A natural right recognized in any civilized country.
Yes, it's important to remind to other people (they seem to forget) that according to the US constitution, these rights are not given to humans (not citizens) by the government, they are recognized, since they are innate.
Seriously? So you're okay with the NSA spying -legally or not- on everyone, when the highest ranking people have denied this for years? Do you really think spying on Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft users as a whole constitute probable cause for a search?
I don't care about the consequences. If the US had apologized for this terrible mess and all the lies to its own people, Snowden wouldn't have had to do any of what had followed. Instead, it still refuses to corroborate his claims, making it seems likely that there's something incriminating here.
If this doesn't seem fishy on the US side, and if you think anyone wouldn't have thought about blowing the whistle on all these lies by our leaders, you're seriously delusional. Or a troll.
No, the Verizon warrant came from Snowden. It was the first published by The Guardian in the series of documents from him. The EFF has been seeking a classified opinion by the FISC where they ruled one of the NSA's requests was unconstitutional. They have not yet been able to obtain that ruling, but the FISC has since asserted that the White House cannot order them to not release it.
…because the Swedish government can make no such promise, as extradition is a matter for the judiciary, and the judiciary cannot hear the case until they have an extradition request in hand. Having a strong separation between government and judiciary is good.
He never had any guarantee from the UK that he would not be extradited, and yet was happy to spend time there.
> …because the Swedish government can make no such promise, as extradition is a matter for the judiciary
This is a half truth. The Swedish government can overrule the judiciary to prevent extradition, and have on multiple occasions.
They government have chosen not to offer such guarantees.
Though frankly, a bigger concern is the prosecutors insistence on not questioning him in the UK and her claim she somehow can't, despite evidence to the contrary (Swedish police regularly questions suspects outside of Sweden)
> He never had any guarantee from the UK that he would not be extradited, and yet was happy to spend time there.
He was happy to spend time here because unlike Sweden, the UK has not been quite as willing to illegally hand people over to the CIA for rendition flights (Sweden has admitted to multiple instances), and has a legal system that at least has a little bit of a spine in extradition cases on occasion.
Perhaps it is a cultural difference, and if so forgive me. But before the Assange affair would you have ever used the phrase "rape accusations" to describe a woman suggesting that the condom used in consensual sex may not have ripped in an accidental manner? If one uses such a broad definition of malfeasance, god knows how many notorious crimes I could have been accused of in my lifetime.
Do you really believe that the governments involved would be going after this case so hard if it was really about those allegations? Permanently stationing police outside the embassy day and night costing over $5 million?
> It's not my business to report anything to anyone
Actually it is. If you're in a Common Law legislation there's a good chance the you could be charged with conspiracy. And if you're in a Civil Law legislation there's a good chance that your country requires you to report ongoing crimes once you gain knowledge about them (of course there's the question if a court will treat Snowden's actions as completed or as ongoing crimes).
Not arguing about the moral thing to do here, just about the legal point of view.
It seems that at least in the United States there's quite a broad range of things that courts consider as "conspiracy". For example, a few years ago Reinhard Berkau (a German lawyer) was sentenced to prison in the US, because of a crime one of his clients did. He also published a book on his experiences (unfortunately in German only) in case you're interested in the background.
An underground railroad would be a serious proposition. UR was a nasty... and noble... group of people who were perfectly willing to go MUCH further than the authorities or the slave catchers.
I'll give an example, Pinkerton, though it was probably not generally known at the time, was a white operative in this organization. Now after the Civil War, we get some idea of the tactics that Pinkerton and his "coworkers" got up to in the UR.
For instance, when Pinkerton was sent after The James Gang, who he hated, as he saw the James family as slavers AND traitors... he went and threw incendiary devices into the James home. We know now that he fully intended to burn the home down, and probably intended to kill James' mother. The US Government had to call the Pinkertons off.
Would WikiLeaks or a "WikiArmy" be willing to use such tactics? I doubt it.
Another example, the Spanish government hired Pinkerton to help in dealing with a revolution [in Cuba] that intended abolition and suffrage. Six months later... the Cuban abolitionists came to power. So deceit on that level was not beyond the capabilities of the UR.
I'm not sure WikiLeaks has this level of capability.
They were also quiet. Extremely quiet. Underground railroad was not even the name of the organization... it's just the name the American public gave it when it became clear that SOMETHING must have been going on. So these guys were so quiet and disciplined for the time that no one even knew what the organization was called. Or even who was in it, or relative ranks.
I just mention this because a great deal is known about WikiLeaks... so I'm not sure they would make a good underground railroad.
Also, the UR was willing to sacrifice much more than their opponents. Consider, blacks would generally be willing to sacrifice MANY blacks to protect the identity of a white operative... who were more valuable to the blacks for obvious reasons.
Does WikiLeaks or Anonymous have an in-built group of soldiers whose loyalty is without question? Who would be willing to endure great pain or even death to keep its secrets?
I'm just saying... these people are so imitated because they were VERY effective at what they did. They LITERALLY used sex and murder if it suited their ends. They wrote books, music and news to shape public opinion. But all of that was just for starters... They also destabilized economies! And the overthrow of governments was not ruled out as a means of accomplishing their objectives. Most importantly, these people had a proven capability to actually accomplish any of those missions!
It should... the UR was, in a very real way, the precursor to the Union's intelligence service during the war. Even after the war... I mean it was Pinkerton who founded the Secret Service! The OSS is the UR's great grandchild, so the CIA is part of that lineage as well. Pinkerton's methods, the UR's methods, still inform investigation and intelligence gathering and even counter intel and insurgency today.
Don't misunderstand me, I'm sure SOME clicktivists are willing to go as far as the black runaways and Northern whites were...
What I am NOT certain of, is whether ANY clicktivists are willing to ENDURE as much as the UR was willing to endure in the pursuit of its goals.
His job ended because he knew he didn't have jurisdiction to start this trials but he proceeded anyway and because he asked for money to a banker who was judging at the time (the infamous "dear Emilio" letter)
Are you serious? Chavez spent his entire period in office warping the machinery of the state in his favor, and his successor is refusing to investigate some pretty serious allegations of fraud for the last one.
"Chávez himself read my findings on potential elections theft – to his nation on his TV show – and then he moved swiftly, establishing an election system that Jimmy Carter, who has headed vote observer teams in 92 nations, called, 'an election process that is the best in the world'.
Here's how it works: every Venezuelan voter gets TWO ballots. One is electronic, the second is a paper print-out of the touch-screen ballot, which the voter reviews, authorises, then places in a locked ballot-box. An astounding 54 percent of the boxes are chosen at random to open and check against the computer tally. It's as close to a bulletproof count as you can get." 
In the face of significant US interference Venezuala could have gone extremely dictatorial, but it seems they went the other way and implemented a more secure voting process than in many other countries where electronic voting is used.
The way I understand it, the ballot by itself does not unique ly identify the voter -- however in addition to the physical and electronic ballots, an electoral notebook records the vote and links the ballot to the voter's identity. As part of their "audit", The CNE refused to include the information from the notebooks, and thus irregularities such as an individual voting multiple times as a deceased person would not be able to be detected.
> thus irregularities such as an individual voting multiple times as a deceased person would not be able to be detected.
That doesn't seem correct. Voters need to provide identification and their fingerprints (!) as part of the voting process, so the risk of these irregularities would be much lower than, for instance, the United States.
I have serious concerns about Chavez policies, but accepting US media portrayals of Venezuela is about as naive as taking Chinese state owned media at face value: Their reports could be accurate, but you won't know without comparing it with alternatives.
This seems like a much better move. If I wanted to disappear, I would much rather take my chances in rural areas where people are less likely to be watching the news rather than a city which has my picture on banners and screens everywhere. All I would need is the middle ground between remote and having a functional internet connection. Then I would just setup a cottage, create a business profile and financial accounts in my partner's name (which would likely be my girlfriend, probably on a fast track to marriage, who I recently met in my new home in South America) and do whatever freelance work I would need to get by (I'm sure Snowden could find quite a bit of work with his tech skills.)
I'm not sure I would want for WikiLeaks to be announcing my moves, but this is probably something you can't escape, so might as well take the help from one of the players who are reporting the story.
ETA: Or maybe I spoke too soon. I'm not sure anyone really knows where he is going.
Rural communities aren't great places to hide because everyone is nosey and tend to be suspicious about recent arrivals. Huge cities are easier to disappear into anonymity. That said, Moscow and Caracas aren't exactly rural hamlets.
by default there is nothing, but it helps prevents too bold actions that might impact the diplomat too. There is a system where a diplomat can ask for a special authorization to get someone immunity to go somewhere. It's generally immunity from the embassy to the airport, and that's what Equator is denied for Assange by the UK.
I would think the plane is safe and perhaps the plane could be considered as territory of the nation of the diplomat therefore the diplomat could offer him asylum on the plane if need be, but I may be wrong about the latter.
Nope: diplomatic immunity extends only to diplomats and their immediate families. As Snowden is neither, and cannot be nominated as one without the host country's approval, there's nothing stopping Russia or Cuba from detaining Snowden if they wanted to, no matter how many Elbonian diplomats he's travelling with.
As I used to tell friends in school, the best benefit was that I could kill people who annoyed me and get away with it...
Somewhat more seriously, pretty much the only perk was getting to use the Diplomats & Crew line at airport immigration. Most countries, including mine, make their diplomats pay their parking fines etc, and while I was theoretically exempted from security checks, it was virtually always faster to put your bags through the X-ray and walk through the metal detector than it was to pull rank and wait forever as the proto-TSA at the time ran around like headless chickens, looking for the manager's manager's manager needed to authorize the exception. The police treat diplomats with either thinly disguised contempt (if they ran into them a lot and knew they couldn't do much of anything) or, more commonly, puzzlement; and once again, it was usually way easier to pop the trunk and let them have a look than it is to invoke immunity and deal with the resulting confusion.
And as far as complimentary upgrades to first class and "ambassador's lounges" (wot?) do, I'm not sure what the other reply has been smoking, but it's probably not the Vienna Convention. Airlines don't give any free benefits to diplomats, they earn their status through butt-in-seat miles like the rest of us.
I used to have diplomatic immunity as well. Getting to ignore parking tickets and other fines, police officers treating you like royalty, no security checkpoints or lines at the airport (and a very comfy ambassador's lounge), complimentary upgrades to first class and not having to pay taxes (sales or otherwise) at the host country are the first that come to mind.
I was under the impression that they were flying on a privately owned plane. That does not seem to be the case, but it may be on their next leg of the journey.
I do not have direct knowledge, but I would think that if the plane is of the diplomat, then the whole plane could be considered to be territory of the nation of the diplomat, therefore the diplomat could offer him asylum while on the plane.
If I wasn't clear, I was not speaking about offering him diplomatic immunity, but rather the plane being considered as territory of the nation of the diplomat.
I find it (a bit) ironic that the WikiLeaks lawyer that is giving legal advice to Snowden is Baltasar Garzon, who was suspended for improper eavesdropping.
*As a clarification, this suspension was mostly political, being Spain one of the most corrupt countries in Europe and with a dark and terrible past due the dictatorship that ended 37 years ago. Garzon tried to investigate the crimes committed by Franco (related to the right wind in Spain) and a few years later he was judging a corruption case (called Gürtel), which lead to his suspension.
They may show no restraint, but there's also a number of these countries that are experienced at countering the CIA after decades of interference and that now have governments that are either openly anti-US or extremely wary of US interference.
The unraveling of the American Republic is news of the century. Additionally, in terms of the implications of this leak for geopolitics and Internet business/security, this is easily the biggest and most important story in international affairs since 2001.
But still not hacker news. This type of news was part of the doom of Slashdot. Sure, political news are fine, but a lot of us do not come to Hacker News for political news... we are aware of Reddit, Slashdot and news.google.com
Did you even read their statement? They're the ones trying to provide him safe passage to a place of refuge. Remind me again, as its a common refrain, how shamelessly self-promoting WikiLeaks is? To my knowledge, everyone involved has made great personal sacrifices (basically given up their lives) to expose the truth to an indifferent public. Bradley Manning has been locked away for years, denied almost all human interaction. Julian Assange is holed up in an embassy. Snowden is the most wanted man on the planet. Do such people really deserve your derision?
They do when they knowingly break the laws and run away from the consequences like Snowden and Assange have (Assange's even more appalling given the rape allegations he also ran away from). Manning, at least, didn't do that.
I stand corrected about Wikileaks role in this particular aspect of the story as they do seem to actually be helping him elude justice. But they seemed to have nothing to do with his actual leaks, yet I've seen multiple 'statements' from them on the matter that seemed to only serve as a way to remind people of their existence. At least now they have an actual reason, I guess.
I'm afraid your understanding of justice and my own differ greatly. It's probably an insurmountable impasse. To me, exposing a massive surveillance apparatus is a laudable act of heroism, and he doesn't deserve this kind of condemnation.
What if, just maybe, the laws you defend so adamantly are unjust? What about the consequences for all of us that live under them? Why not defend those that tell us the truth?
You can argue about whether they're unjust laws or not, but they still exist and if you break them, you should face the consequences. That's what the civil rights leaders in this country did, among others.
But honestly, from my reading, I'm mostly okay with what the NSA's doing and most of what he revealed isn't all that new or surprising (others reported on PRISM long ago, local governments have kept track of phone records for decades, it only makes sense the feds would as well). This is also what many citizens want their government to be doing, hence the many complaints about the Boston bombers not being adequately tracked beforehand.
The one part that troubles me is the storing of 'inadvertently' collected communications from US citizens for five years without a warrant. That seems wrong. Other than that, I only think there should be a bit more transparency. If Snowden's leaks lead to that, that's a good thing.
"Over the jungle, the quiet jungle, the drone hunts tonight
Over the ice field, the empty ice field, the raptor hunts tonight
(sung to The Lion Sleeps Tonight)
If true, this exit is good news! I have worried about his safety for the past two weeks. ES needs a redoubtable safe-house enclave/bunker like a free Assange to repeatedly surgically strike while the iron is hot. Exposing heinous criminal abuse of state entrusted power, founded on self-witnessed righteous indignation- leveraged by gigahertz worldwide public networks- makes for a seriously formidable anti-Borg threat. I hope Assange's crack team are good chess players to be constantly vigilant, and terra-sotto terrified how dangerous this is. Endlessly run gold/blue team attack game/simulations, have seasoned and wounded trade-crafters as loyal and encrazed armed sentinels, handling also, a hyper-alert pack of google-glass augmented Scottish Border Collies: