"I confess to feeling some kinship with Snowden. Like him, I was assigned to a National Security Agency unit in Hawaii—in my case, as part of three years of active duty in the Navy during the Vietnam War. Then, as a reservist in law school, I blew the whistle on the NSA when I stumbled across a program that involved illegally eavesdropping on US citizens. I testified about the program in a closed hearing before the Church Committee, the congressional investigation that led to sweeping reforms of US intelligence abuses in the 1970s. Finally, after graduation, I decided to write the first book about the NSA. At several points I was threatened with prosecution under the Espionage Act, the same 1917 law under which Snowden is charged (in my case those threats had no basis and were never carried out). Since then I have written two more books about the NSA, as well as numerous magazine articles (including two previous cover stories about the NSA for WIRED), book reviews, op-eds, and documentaries."
As a substantive comment on the article, let me say that I find it interesting that Snowden himself thinks it is appalling that NSA's internal security auditing is so poor that NSA can't even tell which documents Snowden disclosed to journalists, nor can it tell how many other leakers may still be on its staff. This seems to be a completely plausible claim, and that would be a reason why many American voters or leaders of countries allied to the United States might desire the current leadership of NSA to resign and be replaced with more competent leaders.
They are not stupid and they must have been discussing it. There must have been strategic decision where they prioritized the expansion of intelligence collection over internal security (effectively cutting the work that skilled people with security clearances can do to almost half must be real cost and resource bottleneck).
If I had to guess the situation, I would say that for every whistle blower there is two spies who spy for Russia or China and they have collected all documents they can. Russians&Chinese spying US spying the world. The cost of setting up good HUMINT must be fraction of the cost of the NSA infrastructure.
That's an exaggeration, IMHO. This is not the Cold War, where many actors were moved by ideological considerations that crossed national borders (like the Cambridge Five, for example). Nowadays, national and cultural lines are extremely well drawn, so motivations for "traitors" boil down to money and/or blackmail, which are usually easier to defend against at the top level.
1. Ideology has not been the major modus operandi in long time (since 50's). Nowadays idealogical reasons are replaced by cultural and ethnic loyalties. Wast majority of people who spied for China have had Chinese heritage. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_intelligence_operation...
2. Money and personal problems/reasons seems to be major reason for spying against US and for Soviet Union/Russia during and after cold war (Hanssen, Ames) According to American counterintelligence Russian espionage reached Cold War levels already in in 2007.
Though I also believe this to be true, what we know for sure are that most of the people CAUGHT spying for China had Chinese heritage.
The notion that a spy is only someone loyal to a country is just quite frankly, silly.
I partially agree with your point 2, but "according to American counterintelligence" the sky is falling every other day unless the spooks get more money and less supervision. Relying on government sources in a thread about Snowden feels a bit weird.
No, it's not a "political" problem.
They are smart enough to make spying into a profitable business instead of just a mechanism to move tax dollars to the right people. And with respect to using it as a tool of oppression, we simply don't have anything new to teach them, as they just don't need to know anything about FISA courts or parallel construction.
This is the 21st century. There's no need to put yourself in physical danger by entering the country you wish to spy upon. Everything is done electronically.
I prefer to think that everyone should always question everything I say, and independently verify my claims with their own trusted sources. Then, if they find contradictory information, they are free to share it, so that I might possibly disabuse myself of my prior misconceptions. (As you see, I also have need for wishes.)
Of course, if you have actual research funding for me, that's a different story. I'll give you as much evidence as you can afford.
Talk is cheap, and proof will cost you. If you want evidence, you might have to grab a shovel and start digging.
Workers in foreign countries and spying in those countries are not necessarily related in any way, aside from the occasional discount windfall that states get from assets with the right sense of patriotism, personal weakness, or political alignment.
There isn't really a trade happening there. The Chinese spying hurts everyone who is not a state-owned copycat company, regardless of their country of origin. The American spying hurts everyone who conducts business over the Internet or travels internationally. The ordinary Chinese people and American people get screwed both ways, because they're unimportant nobodies to the superpower state actors. So let's not get all defensive and start pointing fingers at each other, ok?
Neither the companies nor the Chinese engineers profit from this arrangement.
I'm not so sure about that - it strikes me that spies motivated purely by ideology are pretty rare and were only created in rather unusual circumstances (e.g. pre-WW2 UK) while those who are motivated by fear/greed/ego could occur anywhere.
And I'm sure the US has 1 or more sources in many other countries' signals intelligence agencies, too.
We would only ever learn about that if there's a CIA leak/whistleblower, though.
Considering the fact that the US was completely caught off guard by the scope and effectiveness of ISIS I have to question the effectiveness of SIGINT programs like the NSA. I have to assume honestly that these programs outlandish budgets are not for tracking terrorists but to control the domestic populace.
I must disagree with this interpretation. I think that only the American public and (some) American media were caught off guard by ISIS. However, the warning signs about ISIS and speculation about the impact of instability in Syria go back a while, for example to early 2013. It would have been difficult to determine the exact sequence of events (in contrast, Lebanon has been more stable than some would have anticipated), but the expansion of ISIS operations is not so much of a surprise given 1) stated goal of ISIS to operate beyond Syria; 2) rising political tensions in Iraq encouraged by Maliki's disregard of opposition; 3) past actions of local Sunni militias and leaders, etc.
Maybe it looks like the US government was caught off guard, but I suspect that is not the case. I think US intelligence must have considered instability spreading out of Syria, and modeled a number of scenarios off of that. I think it is likely that the US gov. has not been so quick to respond because it realizes 1) there is little support in America for further involvement with Iraq; 2) there is limited support in the region for US involvement; 3) Maliki's government has leaned towards Iran, so the US may consider the ability to sustain American influence in Iraq limited.
In short I view this as a matter more of limited policy options than a matter of failed intelligence. I also think the more troublesome matter for intelligence is the Kurdish situation, since it is one thing to predict what ISIS will try to do and another to predict what will happen with the Kurdish autonomous region as a result.
Also, you have it backwards, ISIS started in Iraq, (the second I) and spread to Syria (second S). They started with the instability in Iraq, saw the instability in Syria, and went for it.
1) support at home has never stopped the US military from engaging before. 2) We didn't have much before, we have way less now. 3) you find new friends when your old friends stop taking your phone call.
The US and UK never properly seized control in Iraq. We were losing troops on a daily basis. Now we have withdrawn, leaving an entirely predictable power vacuum, things have got so mental that even Iran is collaborating with us, and they are currently the main external force now loosing troops in the area. Also, this new caliphate is completely surrounded by folk who really do not like them. To be honest the whole thing looks like a deliberate trap, that is probably going to be used as a drone proving ground, given the political statements about use of troops.
Most recent geopolitical shifts can be traced back to the Middle East no longer being strategically important to U.S. interests any more. In 2007 we were worried that rising oil prices would trigger a financial crisis that would severely hurt American interests; controlling mid-east oil was critically important. By 2010 the financial crisis had happened, it was clear that gas prices were not coming down, and oil production was moving back domestically. There was no longer any reason for us to be in Iraq, so Obama got us out, and as far as the U.S. is concerned the Middle East can collapse into the Dark Ages and we won't care, as long as they leave Israel alone. So far ISIS has been more anti-Palestine than anti-Israel.
for all we know the effect ISIS is having may have been predicted and even worse, allowed to play out. From a military standpoint, they are burning off manpower and munitions that would otherwise be directed towards elements we want to protect or have interests in. Until that changes, like with all those refugees recently, I doubt we would act.
Lately US foreign policy seems vindictive rather than friendly. As in, when someone does not treat the Administration how they think they deserve or do not do what it wants the Administration gets petty.
This worked brilliantly when the USSR collapsed and we didn't send a crackshot team of experts to secure their nuclear arsenal because we didn't want them to know that we knew they were going to collapse. It was much better to scramble around for the following few years trying to track down all that dangerous inventory.
There is a troubling problem with any increase in government firepower: be it heavy weaponry in our police stations, advanced monitoring capabilities that can be used on the entire populace at once, or drones that can hit targets on the other side of the planet.
What happens when these weapons are used against us?
Let's just assume for a minute that our government has our best interests in mind and is basically benevolent. With a database of potential intelligence against every person in the US, you create a dangerous situation: what happens if the Chinese or Russian government has covert access to this system and strategically leaks information with the purpose of influencing US elections? This feels completely plausible in my mind: there are real risks to having so much information available in one place. The fact that the controls were so weak to begin with makes me almost certain that foreign intelligence has continued access to these databases.
Every weapon we develop can potentially be used against us. In the case of cyberwarfare, those weapons can be used against us without our knowledge. The scariest part of Snowden's leaks is how awful the government is at technology: most people on the Internet were pretty sure the government was spying on everyone anyway. Geopolitics gets messy, so that stuff is forgivable. But when a single government contractor is able to walk away with so much information and they don't even know what he has?
This is probably already happening, though it isn't China or Russia.
16/24 or 14/21 combos for the font-size and line height work well for me, depending on widow width.
Right click a paragraph other than the intro -> "inspect element". In the right column, you can untick the "font-size: 21px;" and "line-height: 37px;" rules, to get 16/24 or set them to whatever you like.
1. The NSA exploited the firmware of a Syrian core internet router, and bricked it by mistake. This was an "oh shit" moment (sic). So in it's eagerness to scoop up all digital communications, it killed the majormost way for citizens to communicate while in the midst of a civil war. Great.
2. There is a project called "MonsterMind", which 100% automates adversarial hacking in retaliation to detected attacks. Very Strangelove-ian, as the article says.
EDIT: Typo, thanks to not having had coffee in time.
"There was one brief whole-country outage of less than ten minutes on 25 November. By the time that one was confirmed, the outage was over. It would be reaching to call that a “precursor event” or “practice run,” but that’s a possibility."
"The Syrian government said that terrorists were behind the outages, but CloudFlare, a firm that helps accelerate Internet traffic, said it would have been extremely difficult for any type of sabotage to cause such a comprehensive blackout, according to Reuters."
"All the edge routers are controlled by Syrian Telecommunications. The systematic way in which routes were withdrawn suggests that this was done through updates in router configurations, not through a physical failure or cable cut."
But he believes the NSA's audit missed those clues and simply reported the total number of documents he touched—1.7 million. (Snowden says he actually took far fewer.) “I figured they would have a hard time,” he says. “I didn't figure they would be completely incapable.”
Geeks have been doing this for yours; i.e.. "the security breach was minimal" vs. "you should hire me, your security are ineffective."
In that sense, I think he's being slightly naive there -- it's clear that, once the story got huge, Clapper and Alexander had an interest in exaggerating the number as much as possible; so for all we know, they might have actually understood Snowden's scheme but willfully chosen to ignore it.
What is wrong with you; what the hell do you have against Syria? What if this was France? The UK? Germany?
This was a mistake that happened while "attempting to bug Syria". Knowing the NSA, they bug almost every country out there — so yes, this could have happened to any of the ones I've listed.
Internet is a public service, one as essential as water and electricity. How do you call a country that disrupts another country's public services? In my book, I call it an act of war.
So you tell me, slg, is it the NSA's job to randomly decide to declare war against other countries?
Compare those two situations:
"A group of hackers have targeted Syrian ISPs and, in an attempt to wiretap the nation, have brought down internet services in the entire country" <- Scum of the earth! How dare they! People have likely died as a result of this; in the midst of a civil war, too!
"The NSA has targeted Syrian ISPs and, in an attempt to wiretap the nation, has brought down internet services in the entire country" <- Well it's OK because other countries are doing it too. Also, by revealing this, you are an unpatriotic traitor and have endangered the american people."
I call BS. Some people here either lack the most basic critical thinking skills, or are NSA shills.
You are free to disagree, but I don't think any serious politician in the US would. Revealing something like this doesn't seem to advance Snowden's initial goals and makes it incredibly hard to gain any political support in the US. So my initial question stands, what positive value comes from Snowden releasing something like that?
What positive value comes from Snowden releasing the atrocities of the American government? Well, some people have a moral compass more developed than "espionage is a reality and the American government should be able to do as much of it as it wants, in any country, at any time, with any consequences."
Try to be on the right side of history. This is your chance to do that. Maybe you were alive in the 60s or even the 20s, but if you weren't, you're here now, and you can be a part of the struggles we fight today and tomorrow.
Press coverage of the Syrian internet outage at the time: http://www.cnet.com/news/blackout-syria-vanishes-from-intern.... "The Middle Eastern country has been experiencing an Internet outage for several hours, and many people on Twitter are reporting that phone lines are down as well."
http://www.renesys.com/2012/11/syria-off-the-air/ "There was one brief whole-country outage of less than ten minutes on 25 November. By the time that one was confirmed, the outage was over. It would be reaching to call that a “precursor event” or “practice run,” but that’s a possibility."
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/30/anonymous-declares-.... "The Syrian government said that terrorists were behind the outages, but CloudFlare, a firm that helps accelerate Internet traffic, said it would have been extremely difficult for any type of sabotage to cause such a comprehensive blackout, according to Reuters."
http://blog.cloudflare.com/how-syria-turned-off-the-internet "All the edge routers are controlled by Syrian Telecommunications. The systematic way in which routes were withdrawn suggests that this was done through updates in router configurations, not through a physical failure or cable cut."
In Syria there was an ongoing international effort to stop the use of, and then secure, chemical weapons. You need effective intelligence in order to do that.
A 10 minute internet outage is an awful lot less bad than what happens when a human intelligence asset gets caught by the kind of actors involved in Syria.
Is it? First of all, the 10 minute internet outage is real, while the asset capture is completely theoretical. Second of all, a 10 minute internet outage can and does kill people. ESPECIALLY in a country like Syria which is in the midst of a civil war; and I haven't even mentioned the much more concrete outcome of this being perceived as a terrorist attack, putting both sides of the conflict on guard etc.
Rightly so. And both of those are true. Thinking clearly is expensive for any individual, and shills are cheap for NSA.
I don't think spying and disrupting communications on a country you are not at war at, and that is going through a civil war (putting the lives of innocent people on the edge), is the type of things the NSA should be doing.
I have peers who have known about that for a solid 6 months who talk about it. It's nothing new. The Gov't has been working on stuff like that, with stuff like that & have those ideas at the core of everything they do for years.
Please, I read Hacker News for intelligent discourse, away from Reddit-type nonsense.
There is NO EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER that the NSA hacked the Syrian core router. Snowden was passing on office gossip which he heard. Why isn't that fact mentioned? Because it doesn't suit the cultural narrative?
Yesterday on Reddit we had a nice, enriched conversation about BGP with loads of young people learning things due to the routing table issue, including a comment on which $20 was spent to say "thank you." When's the last time a bunch of teenagers developed an interest in network engineering based upon a comment thread on Hacker News? Exactly. They're more likely to get better at arguing about minutiae here.
The real difference between HN and Reddit is that on Hacker News, you are not discouraged from downvoting opinions with which you disagree. I recall pg saying he considered that fine. Combined with graying out of comments almost immediately, with the first downvote, this means groupthink is basically encouraged. Even though most folks disregard Reddiquette, it is clearly stated that you shouldn't downvote opinions simply because you don't like them, and should instead take contributing to the discussion into account. I've found in some of the smaller, tighter-knit communities, discussion is extremely healthy, respectful, and accommodating to all sides. I don't even bother on gender in tech threads here, but I've soaked days into them on Reddit, learning from my peers and comparing notes.
This has been going on for ages, "oh, no, HN is turning into Reddit," you should be so lucky to be as positive as several of those communities. It's a tired meme. I come to HN to read valley opinions without Reddit slapping, so can I get my wish if you get yours? Just forget Reddit exists if it bothers you so much.
Now, then, that off my chest:
As for your point, at this point, Snowden has no motivation to lie. The article says he was told by an intelligence officer. This could have been a briefing and he might have further knowledge of the operation, or it might have been watercooler, we don't know, but the context of the revelation was indeed disclosed by the article's author.
So why don't you also complain that everyone is discussing it as fact?
People's reality distortion field when faced with the Snowden topic - it astonishes me.
I just checked and read back that part of the article and that's not at all how it is portrayed.
He says he was "told" about it by an intelligence officer. With an amount of detail that makes it hard to discount as just "rumour" (for Snowden, if the story was false, these details wouldn't have checked out, also someone had to have been deliberately spreading misinformation damaging to this TAO crew).
Also, in the context of the entire article, Snowden recounts this story as one of a number of reasons why he took the steps he decided to take to become a whistleblower. That's not something done over just office rumours.
Therefore, apart from the assumption that Snowden is deliberately passing off disinformation as truth himself, there's really no reason not to accept this story as fact, or what Snowden believes to be factual.
heresy + hearsay = heresay?
Let's put into perspective 1 yottabyte:
All Gmail accounts (~500 million users * 10GB/user = ~5000 PB) +
All Facebook photos (~2 billion users * 1GB/user = ~2000 PB) +
All of Netflix's videos (1-5 PB) +
Library of Congress (10-30 PB) +
Wikipedia (0.0005 PB)
= ~7000 PB
= 7 Exabytes.
= 0.0007% of 1 Yottabyte!!!
1 Yottabyte = 250 billion 4TB hard drives.
A hard drive is about 4" x 1" x 5.75".
The Pentagon is a big building (6,636,360 sqft over 5 floors). If you started stacking hard drives inside the Pentagon it would take about 50 pentagons to hold 250 billion hard drives.
At scale you might be able to make a 4TB hard drive for somewhere between $10 and $100.
1 Yottabyte would be $2.5 trillion - $25 trillion in hard drives. That's a couple USA GDPs.
Okay, I think a yottabyte clearly can't be what they mean because that's just unfathomable.
They also mention a 1 million sqft facility.
In a 1 million sqft you can probably pack about 250 million 3.5" hard drives. If each drive was 4TB you'd end up with 1 million PB, or 1000 EB, or 1 Zettabyte
So by Yottabyte they might (maybe) mean Zettabyte. Only off by a factor of 1,000.
Even still, all of the data of Gmail, Facebook, Netflix, Library of Congress, etc is still probably only ~10% of this data center.
NPR says zettabytes:
Wired (2012) says yottabytes (maybe where this originally came from):
From the NPR article:
"The NSA's Utah Data Center will be able to handle and process five zettabytes of data, according to William Binney, a former NSA technical director . Binney's calculation is an estimate. An NSA spokeswoman says the actual data capacity of the center is classified."
Five zettabytes would of course be enough storage to allocate roughly one terabyte for every person on the planet the NSA could even theoretically hope to grab a single byte of data on in the next 20 years.
In ~20 years I have to suspect 5 ZB will not be nearly enough storage for what the NSA has in mind (due mostly to the expansion of information being stored in ever higher definition video and plausibly in some VR format within a decade).
Edit: Ha, nevermind, even if they had 185TB tape drives, they'd still need 5 billion of them (unless my math is way off).
"So does the NSA store surveillance data on Backblaze Storage Pods?
We don’t know for sure and certainly the NSA is certainly not publishing their storage architecture. However, between the multiple government agencies using and exploring Backblaze Storage Pods and the pods characteristics as highly-dense, cost-efficient, and open source systems, certainly makes them a very likely candidate." 
 - https://www.backblaze.com/blog/is-the-nsa-using-backblaze-st...
What the NSA has are three things: a lot of money coming in every year; a lot of relatively intelligent and highly skilled people working for it; and a license to do terrible things and get away with it (ie they can take incredible risks, and try outrageous things, with minimum concern, and or certainly previously could).
The NSA has a budget roughly the size of Microsoft's annual R&D budget, without needing an $80 billion highly profitable business to be maintained. It's amazing what you can do and or attempt with a 'free' $10 or $12 billion per year to burn.
Do they though? I have sometimes wondered about this. In order to work for the NSA you have to make a lot of sacrifices. You have to be a US citizen. You have to pass a background check. You have to be contend with a government salary. You may never talk about your job (how does that look on a resume if you ever want to apply somewhere else? Prior experience: classified). You have to work in one of the few locations they operate in. You have to be a pretty hardcore patriot to put up with the things the NSA is doing and still be able to sleep at night.
In summary: it seems that the pool of potential employees should be severely limited. Hence my guess would be that the top talent ends up in the private sector instead of the NSA.
Or, just read the NSA quote from the movie Good Will Hunting again:
This piece is pretty interesting.
Truly terrifying, and probably the largest revelation in the article. This is was the major news outlets should be covering, right now.
Find the conduits that provide service open up the appropriate manhole drop some diesel and packing peanuts in light an retire to a safe distance.
one cold also sabotage the onsite generators with suger and drop their link to the grid.
I don't. I just want the words. Ideally I want the words to be in a nice font and nice contrast and well laid out. In a perfect world there would be some diagrams and illustrations to support the text.
Me too. But I don't know what else to do other than reading longer articles through Pocket/Instapaper and sending everyone I know  as a reminder every once in a while.
 - http://motherfuckingwebsite.com/
It's amusing to think that some believe Apple is deliberately crippling browsers on older devices. It's sites like Wired that are doing the work for them.
(Plain text version in the history, at https://github.com/pflanze/wired-snowden-untold-story/blob/c...)
The drawback of the Github formatting is that the lines are a bit too long, and narrowing the window size doesn't fix that (there's something in the layout that forces a certain width). I could have put the page on my own server, but I thought it's nicer for people to have direct access to the Github features in case somebody wants to edit or annotate it, also "integrating" it into my own website may violate copyrights, whereas this might not (IANAL).
FYI, Glenn Greenwald is denying that any of the claims in this paragraph are true, and says that Wired never even contacted him or Miranda about the article:
The movie industry is one of the very powerful tools for shaping the public opinion in the US. This obviously includes TV series ("24" is an example for not-so-subtle manipulative material).
People conveniently forget that Russia was his transit country after he left Hong Kong and planned to arrive in another country (presumably Cuba or Venezuela), but it was the United States government that didn't cancel his passport when he was in Hong Kong, didn't cancel his passport when he arrived at his destination country, but cancelled his passport right at the point when he arrived in Russian airport transit zone but before his transfer flight departed.
So in middle of a war zone, US conducted sabotage to core infrastructure of an other nation, with unknown cost to property or human lives.
It really should be seen as the obvious reason why hacking is not an acceptable tool to use in peacetime against other nations. Its not a defensive weapon, it hurt people, and it done with no responsibility what so ever.
> In peacetime
So which is it? There was (is) a war raging in Syria, the US has interests there -- like it or not -- and the NSA is a US intelligence agency. This story sounds like an example of the NSA just doing its job.
I have no problem with the NSA spying on foreign communications or disrupting them. After all, that's their job. What else would we use the NSA for?
What I do have a problem with is that the NSA makes apparently zero effort to disambiguate between foreign, and domestic, communications.
Really? You don't have an issue with a foreign intelligence agency disrupting core infrastructure for a nation in the midst of a civil war? Especially against a nation we are not even at war with?
What if the Chinese (or anyone else) did something similar? Would that not be considered an outright act of war?
We are not at war with Syria, we should not be disrupting anything. There could have easily have been numerous deaths directly resulting from that outage.
Intelligence agencies operate in foreign countries during peacetime. This is not a new phenomenon. Espionage is not limited to war, and it never has been. Peacetime espionage is 99% of all espionage, and much of the time, it's necessary to maintain that peacetime.
The US has spies in every country in the world, war or not. So does China, so does Russia, so does the UK, etc. It's just a fact of life. If a nation state is not spying, it's not doing its job.
The US was and is directly involved in the Syrian civil war. It may not be dropping bombs (though it was considering it, and that requires intelligence to plan) but it is trying to stop the violence - and guess what, that requires effective intelligence.
The only reason ever given is 'Might is Right'. To be an American patriot is to be a psychopath.
Our founding fathers would not condone the practices of our country. Modern politicians certainly don't seem to abide by the convictions we were founded on. Or maybe they just conveniently warp their interpretation to forward their own agenda.
GP said it would be an act of war. That definition doesn't mean the victim has to declare war on the aggressor, does it?
I feel inclined to agree with other comments saying this boils down to childish morality: "everyone else is doing it."
If you're not intending to make any sort of moral argument, but simply one of consistency in policy, then consider that people are taking issue with their NSA committing an "act of war" on a volatile country they are not at war with. It's different than some friendly mutual hacking with, say, France. What gives NSA the right to make that call and hope it doesn't blow up in the entire nation's face? And if it was sanctioned "from on high", we can still be angry that our elected officials and their appointees would do such a thing.
If there was a civil war going on in the US and disrupting the internet was likely to lead to loss of life then we might have a comparable situation. That isn't the situation though.
I am making a note of the fact that you view the Chinese government as a good barometer of morality in readiness for the next time you bring up their human rights record.
Here's a characteristic of Chinese human rights that isn't captured by that question: it is the official policy of China that the police can convict and sentence its citizens to a year of labor camp ("reeducation through labor") without a trial. I find that characteristic more important in assessing Chinese civil liberties than the fact that they have obviously owned up a bunch of our routers.
let me ask your question with an other question: How many lives can a spy agency kill until it is no longer acceptable?
So let say the French intelligence service decide to plant one on a nuclear power plan in the US. Sadly however it has a bug which goes off and partial shuts down the reactor. A meltdown happens, killing a few thousands and irradiate the surroundings.
Do you go to war over this? Would you classify it as an attack, a accident, or a act of war?
Lets assume that radio and TV inside Syria informed the public where current fire fights happened, where people should go to seek shelter, and other warnings of dangers to the civilian population. Radio and TV get this information from sources inside government and reporters on the field, some using The Internet to transmit this information.
You cut that communication line and radio and TV do not have current information to broadcast. People dies as a result. A lot of innocent civilians dies. This singular event could have killed more people than horrific event like 9/11 or a meltdown at a power plant.
This is why I ask: How many casualties is a spy agency allowed to inflict until it is no longer acceptable.
I think officially they ended this. Officially.
How does that situation have anything to do with today?
The "terrorists" (pick your current flavor of the month) are implicated in almost the same list of behaviours, excepting the global surveillance, due to lack of resources.
We aren't currently engaged in some kind of gentleman's war, playing by Marquess of Queensberry rules.
> I have no problem with the NSA spying on foreign communications or disrupting them.
Should the rest of countries just assume that the US is a permanent military enemy? You don't seem to have a problem with treating them as such.
Imagine this hypothetical scenario. Germany want to put a backdoor into the US phone system. During 9/11, this attempt causes a breakdown and the phone system to crash an hour after the plane hits the tower. News papers goes out with "sabotage of the phone system, Germany suspected of participating in terrorism!".
Would you just shrug and say that "Countries should assume that other countries are spying on them"? People who lost family members to the chaos of no telephone service should just accept it as normal behavior, nothing to complain about?
Great. The US is basically in perpetual war, so I'm sure you've got no problem with other countries doing exactly the same thing to the US!
> What I do have a problem with is that the NSA makes apparently zero effort to disambiguate between foreign, and domestic, communications.
So it's OK as long as it isn't you? Is it OK for China to spy on US communications?
I'm honestly curious why so many people are willing to take Snowden's claims at face value. The NSA rightly got a lot of flack for the softball interviews on Dateline a few months back, but it feels like the general consensus is that the softball interviews with Snowden are beyond questioning.
I can understand the timing suspicions. Frankly, I'm in the camp that tends to trust Snowden, but putting that aside, I think some discrepancies could at least be partially explained by one or more factors:
a) the journalist is putting some words in Snowden's mouth about "last straw" or "the time had come to act";
b) Snowden was still deciding what actions to take (yeah, he emailed Greenwald back then and was almost certainly going to share something, but may have been on the fence about how far to go);
c) Snowden has sort of unconsciously mentally revised the exact timeline -- I think this is not unusual for someone looking back on their "life-changing moments", difficult decisions, months-long transformations etc. Or, the quote about Clapper may have been Snowden using it as a microcosm for everything else that put him down the path he was already on (by contacting Greenwald.) Maybe as it happened he saw it as vindication of the decision he'd already made. Maybe he was going back and forth for months -- although he'd contacted Greenwald and started collecting documents, he had left open the option of turning back, but had his resolve renewed by "the Clapper event."
So yeah, it's fishy, but I don't think there are any smoking guns per se. It's not like they quote Snowden as saying, "After Clapper's false testimony, I contacted Greenwald for the first time" while Greenwald says it happened 6 months before.
Pro-NSA people say it's not a fair debate because the government isn't allowed to talk about the classified details. That applies to Snowden too, because it's difficult for him to communicate his side to the public, being filtered through journalists (who may be juggling his quotes around and mixing up the timeline for the sake of a better story) and not having many opportunities (or eschewing them, to avoid becoming the center of focus.)
I read an interesting and new (to me) statement of intense premeditation in "There was one key area that remained out of his reach: the NSA’s aggressive cyberwarfare activity around the world. To get access to that last cache of secrets, Snowden landed a job as an infrastructure analyst with another giant NSA contractor, Booz Allen." So he took a job specifically for the access it would afford him, with the specific intent to steal and leak?
Is this just lazy journalism?
And that's exactly what I'm doing through JackPair, a low-cost voice encryption device that empower every citizen to protect their privacy over the phone:
It uses Diffie-Hellman key exchange and stream cipher with keystream from pseudo random number generator seeded from DH. It's similar to one-time key pad with no key management and zero-configuration.
As Snowden mentioned in the article, by adopting end-to-end encryption technologies like this, we can collectively end mass surveillance not just in the United States but around the world.
He's stuck in Russia because no other government wants to compromise their relationship with the US, to our eternal shame (as in "us citizens of non-US countries"); and because if he had remained in the US, he would have been renditioned in Guantanamo on day 1.
I hope he has Vitamin D stocked.
They've overridden scroll events so they at best don't work properly. Scrolling on a laptop gives you a weird non-mapping slide animation.
This is seriously one of the most unreadable articles, from a design sense, that I've ever seen.
I think what's frustrating about this example in particular is that there is no feedback for scrolling when the page 'pauses' on an image. There should at least be an element moving so that the user knows the page isn't freezing.
On firefox for android, I actually see "The most wanted man in the world" overlay on top of Snowden's face as I scroll. That somehow was not visible in chrome.
That's interesting. I came here to say that it looks and works great on mobile, specifically chrome on android. Sounds like it's wildly inconsistent between devices.
I see just text, beginning "THE MESSAGE ARRIVES" with a thin bar at the top, containing numbers 1 to 7. Scrolling down instantly scrolls the text; there's the occasional thin bar across screen with an advert, and pictures do fade up and down as I scroll, but there is no point at which the text doesn't scroll as expected.
Using Opera on Ubuntu.
The whole fading / animating images in and out thing is at least as annoying too, it seems to slow the scroll down even further.
I also find it hilarious how they've paid so much attention to constructing this look and feel and then it's so severely broken with the way they incorporate the ads.
I am using Firefox & Ubuntu on an HP laptop.
When I first installed it, my motivation was partly to fuck with The Man.
But good lord what a great web experience I've had since then. It's almost a completely different web, with a completely different purpose, to inform me rather than to sell me.
Are there any changes besides the preconfigured disabling of Adblock's whitelist?
Whichever one works is probably good enough.
* Until now, any loss of Internet connectivity in Syria has always been interpreted as "bad dictator censoring people". I'm not saying that's never been the case, but now we know the US can have more control on global internet infrastructure than we knew possible. Next time some "bad" middle-eastern country loses the internet, US propaganda will have a harder time making people believe it's all due to bad actors.
* As Snowden eloquently says, an automated response system has very serious ethical challenges. Automation is not flawless, we've learnt it in the '70s and '80s through a number of very close calls with nuclear missiles; and in such an ethereal world as the internet (where bits can be faked almost at will), aggressive response should probably never be automatic.
The article also fleshes out Snowden's career in a better way than most similar pieces, and heavily suggests that the "second leaker" theory has some legs (at one point, personally I thought the second leaker was actually a USgov operation to distract reporters from the Snowden trove and/or spend some capital to re-establish relationships with them; but if Poitras really lawyered up when asked, chances are that there's something else as well).
About ten years ago we learned that a teacher at my faculty (maths and CS), a world class specialist in graphs theory and finding critical nodes at small world networks, was contacted by a US three letter agency. I've assumed since then that the US government could shut down the internet any time if they really, really wanted to do it.
I didn't consider that they would shut down whole countries as a result of bricking routers from unintended hacking errors, though. Reality keeps outdoing the wildest figments of imagination.
Or it is in her (and Snowden's) interest to not say exactly what came from where. If there is a second leaker, confirming it could create or increase the intensity of a witch hunt. If there is not, it would confirm that Snowden may have took more material than he claims.
Either way, there is no benefit to her answering either in the affirmative or negative.
There is also no benefit to answering herself, as she's likely already retained the lawyer because of handling this sensitive material.
That's not really in their interest -- they have been very good at making the most out of the story, both from a political and personal point of view, so it would be in their interest to claim ownership of anything actually related to the leaked documents. The only reason I can see for covering the fact that there might not be another leaker, is if they (accidentally?) passed on the documents to somebody else and don't want to be legally accountable for that particular transaction. As long as Snowden was the only one moving stuff around, Greenwald and Poitras are mostly in the clear from a legal point of view, they are just reporters; the moment they provide them to third parties, they lose that protected status. However, this would not matter if their aim was just to involve another journalistic outfit like Der Spiegel (unless German law does not provide the same cover to journalism activities as US law), so I can't see why they'd want to have such a charade going on.
I personally find much more likely that there is a second (or even third) leaker but they don't want to put him/her under pressure, as you say.
I will doubt it's the one the US are pointing at, though.
if the article presents a different answer than what's already known, through snowden statements communicated to laura poitras and greenwald, then they're probably not true, and if it repeats the same stuff, this is obviously a stupid question to ask and the article's just marketing b.s.
Some more background here: http://www2.citypaper.com/news/story.asp?id=17031
Anyway, that's just my bias going into this piece.
I don't doubt that Snowden doesn't want the status quo, he'd like to see the more (in his opinion) egregious civil liberty over-stepping practices rolled back but if his views differed from public majority he'd go along with that. He just wants the public to know and have a say, he's made this point a bunch of times and I'll cite it for you if you really insist :)
Edit: Can somebody tell me what was downvote-worthy about this comment? This is getting ridiculous.
You're probably getting downvoted because your first question is a matter of public record and your assumption that he wants to be extremely visible is inconsistent with the number of interviews of a biographical nature he has conducted. Almost all of his interviews with the press have focused on the NSA, GCHQ, and the like. He explicitly redirects journalists to the real news when they probe too much into his personal life. In this light, your comment could be interpreted as a poor attempt at character assassination.
He wants to be visible as much as possible for two reasons.
The first is that this is the way for him to make the release of documents as effective as possible, something which he has been very succesful at.
The second is that being in the public eye makes it more difficult for organisations to lock him up or assassinate him quietly. The same reason why you'd arrange to meet up with a stranger at a busy public location.
Your first reason doesn't make sense because all the other leaks by secret leakers have caused uproar and changes, so a person behind them isn't necessary, clearly.
Your second reason doesn't make sense because as long as nobody finds out who you are, they can't kill you. Other leaks in the past have been done with anonymity. And honestly, they'll rendition him regardless of the public outcry because he's broken the law.
But yeah, he also comes off like a grandiose megalomaniac.